The campaign of Democratic governor candidate J.B. PRITZKER had some fun on Wednesday, noting that it was National Bologna Day and issuing an online video calling it “BRUCE RAUNER’s favorite holiday.”
That’s because the Republican governor often calls things by that name when he says they aren’t right.
“Let’s take a look at the bologna Rauner spews on a daily basis,” it says on the screen of the Pritzker video, as it shows clips of Rauner calling things “bologna” and “political spin,” juxtaposed with headlines calling out Rauner for false, misleading or excuse-laden statements.
One of those headlines was from a February column I wrote headlined: “3 years later, Rauner tells similar incomplete story.” That recounted how early in his term, in 2015, Rauner told the Citizens Club of Springfield that he had visited a department where state workers were pushing paper and didn’t have computers. But Rauner didn’t name the agency then, and didn’t name it when he told a similar story to an Illinois Bankers Association event in Springfield this February. That time, he said there had been 200 people with no computers. A Rauner spokeswoman in February still didn’t identify the agency, saying Rauner’s streamlining goes “far beyond any single agency,” and mentioned three, including the Department of Public Health, where she said 84 percent of plumbing professionals “are now renewing their licenses online.”
In March, when he made a campaign appearance in Springfield, reporters asked again about that old story.
“I did not make it up,” the governor said in response to a question. “Oh, believe me, I remember. We will be talking about that in the future. Not right now.”
Another headline in the Pritzker video is from The Pantagraph of Bloomington: “Local officials: Rauner wrong on Rivian.”
Rauner had appeared in March 2017 at the former Mitsubishi plant in Normal with CEO R.J. SCARINGE of Rivian Automotive, an electric car startup that purchased the plant for $16 million and was offered state tax incentives that could total $49.5 million if hiring targets are met. Yet as I reported in December, Rauner told WJPF radio in Carterville that month — nine months after his visit to Rivian — that he had told a worker, when Mitsubishi closed, that “I tried to find another auto company to buy it. But no auto company wants to invest in Illinois because of (House Speaker MICHAEL) MADIGAN’s power, because of regulations and taxes.”
Rauner’s office claimed, when I asked, that in the radio interview, Rauner was merely recalling his conversation with the former Mitsubishi worker.
But then in May, at a forum in Chicago, Rauner again talked as if the plant were empty.
“We tried to get another … car manufacturer to take over the plant,” Rauner said at the Kemp Forum on Expanding Opportunity. “No one would even take the plant if we gave it to them, because our regulations are so hostile to business and our taxes are so high.”
When Rauner appeared in Springfield the next week, I asked him why he continued to say nobody would buy the plant, when he had visited the new owner and the state provided incentives to Rivian.
“There’s nothing false about it,” Rauner said of his statements. “That plant should have well over 1,000 people today. We had to cut a deal on the hope, on a gamble, that it might work out, and it’s the best we could do.”
A spokeswoman for Rauner followed up that Rivian at the time had about 50 employees at the plant, and “While we’re grateful to have them there, it’s not the same as having a fully functional plant.”
Rivian issued a news release just Wednesday saying that it will reveal “the world’s first Electric Adventure Vehicles” at the Los Angeles Auto Show this fall. And a Fox News story about the company last month identified the vehicles as a full-size pickup and a three-row SUV set to go on sale in 2020.
Asked about the “bologna” video, WILL ALLISON, spokesman for the Rauner campaign, said Pritzker “is trying to distract voters from his ‘scheme to defraud’ Illinois taxpayers.” That refers to a finding by the Cook County inspector general that toilets were removed from a mansion in Chicago — next to Pritzker’s home — in a “scheme to defraud” taxpayers by getting a lower tax bill. Pritzker hasn’t admitted any wrongdoing, but paid back the county more than $330,000. He has said rules were followed in his family’s renovation of the mansion it owns, and tax authorities were not misled.
Meanwhile, for the sticklers out there, I’ll note that an old Associated Press Stylebook that helps keep word usage consistent in news stories defines “bologna” as a sausage or luncheon meat, while “baloney” is foolish or exaggerated talk. There are more severe definitions of “baloney,” including “nonsense.” Rauner, it seems clear to me, is saying “baloney,” not “bologna.”
In the heat of the campaign, I somehow missed a pleasant addition to the Rauner household.
It was early 2016 when one of the two Labrador retrievers owned by the Rauner family — Pumpkin — died at age 16.
The governor used social media on National Dog Day — Aug. 26 — to make the announcement of the “newest family member.”
“Stella has been lonely since Pumpkin passed away,” he said in the tweet, referring to his other dog, “so we are getting a new 1 year old pup — meet Sugar!”
Sugar, like Stella, is a female yellow Lab. Stella is 10.
“We’re dog lovers,” Rauner said at a school in Chicago this week, referring to himself and his wife, DIANA, “and we’ve always had two or three dogs.”
ROSANNA PULIDO, a conservative Latina activist living in Springfield, will be a guest on BRUCE DuMONT’s “Beyond the Beltway,” a syndicated radio talk show, at 6 p.m. Sunday. She will be talking about the caravan in Mexico and the nationwide political scene. DuMont’s Chicago-based show is carried on WMAY, 970 AM and 94.7 FM in Springfield.
— Contact Bernard Schoenburg: email@example.com, 788-1540, twitter.com/bschoenburg.
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October 24, 2018 at 08:17PM