Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Identity Theft?

In the midst of all of the end of session activity whirling around right now, I happened to come across what strikes me as a very important story that has appeared to slip under the radar screen.
The state's professional-regulation department is notifying roughly 300,000 licensees and applicants that a computer server with some of their personal data was breached early this year, a spokeswoman for the agency said Friday. (Emphasis added)
Potentially at risk for identity theft are banking and real estate professionals whose licensing information - including addresses, tax numbers and Social Security numbers - were kept on the storage server, said Sue Hofer, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
Making a bad situation worse is this:
Hofer said investigators have determined that the breach "looks like criminal conduct." She said the hacking appears to have come from a source outside state government.
Department officials notified the Illinois State Police and FBI after they determined on May 3 that the computerized information had been compromised, probably in January, Hofer said.

She said authorities initially asked Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration not to tell licensees about the breach so that the investigation would not be compromised. The administration also did not immediately inform members of the General Assembly at the request of authorities, Hofer said.
State law is somewhat open-ended about how soon a public or private body must notify individuals when their personal data has been stolen, said Deborah Hagan, the chief of consumer protection for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. The law allows investigators to delay disclosure, she said.
"I think there has to be a balance in terms of getting this information out to affected persons as quickly as possible - versus not interfering with an investigation which may result in catching the perpetrator," Hagan said.If you ask me, that balance should be tilted in favor of protecting the 300,000 licensees potentially affected by the incident, which include mortgage brokers, pawn shop operators and real-estate agents.
I'm in no way saying that the Department acted improperly, provided that the statement that they held back the information was at the request of the authorities. But there are 300,000 Illinoisans right now that might not be sleeping too easily.

Friday, May 11, 2007


From the 'How Not to Build Support' playbook, comes this gem.

Shortly after his GRT proposal got shredded by the House, the Governor was speaking to a group at the Thompson Center in Chicago. (On an aside, I heard a couple clips from his comments on my drive home to Chicago, and I am at a complete loss to explain the incredible Southern drawl in his speech. It was as if he was imitating Hillary imitating Ellie May Clampett.)

In any event, the radio station did not play this clip that is reported on in today's Chicago Tribune column:
Blagojevich had sought to blunt the impact of the vote by suggesting beforehand that he wanted lawmakers to reject the referendum on his plan. But after the roll call he used a rally in Chicago to accuse legislators of being too cozy with business interests who "eat fancy steaks" and "shuffle around in Gucci loafers."

"Your lawmakers in Springfield sometimes forget where they came from. Sometimes they forget who hired them," Blagojevich said. "Waiting outside that chamber, where the people are supposed to have their representatives do their job, are all these high-powered lobbyists twisting their arms."
Riiight. Because everybody knows that Democrats have always been in the pocket of Big Business. Give me a break. For a guy who has raised the kind of money that he has from 'business interests' to level statements like that at the members of the General Assembly is unconscionable.

I don't enjoy being at odds with the Governor, and I think that it is safe to say that a majority of my colleagues would prefer a scenario in which cooperation would be used to achieve results for the greater good. But at this point it should be crystalline that the General Assembly is not going to be bullied into supporting a multi-billion dollar tax hike that it is not comfortable with.

Not that he could have gotten fewer votes then he did yesterday, but I doubt that yesterday's comments are going to help his case much.

One would think that yesterday's vote would be a wake-up call, not only about the substance of his proposal , but about the process of working with the Legislature. It sure doesn't sound like he got the message.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

GRT Round-up

So we just got done a little while ago with the Committee of the Whole hearing on the Governor's GRT proposal. I would say that there were few new revelations that came out of the event, but I think that it was a very efficient way in which to advise the entire House on the spectrum of opinions on the subject.

The Governor must have said 3 or 4 times that gasoline could soon be $5 per gallon. After about the third time, I googled the subject and could not find any credible support for the Governor's claim. I'm just not sure that he's helping himself with a statement like that.

One panelist brought up a very interesting argument casting doubt on the constitutionality of the proposal. I would expect that this issue will be examined closely in the next few days.

I doubt that the opinions of many legislators were changed today, but if they were, I don't think that they would now be in favor of the proposal if they previously weren't. Speaking of which, we will be voting on a resolution essentially asking Representatives if they support the concept of a GRT.

And while nothing could can come of prognosticating on these types of subjects, here goes: 12 yes, 35 present, 69 no. Not sure how right I'll be, but it should be interesting to see the vote - and even more interesting to see the reactions to it.