Capitol Notebook: Rezko freed on bond

State Capitol Bureau

Play of the Week

Tony Rezko, the infamous political insider facing federal corruption charges, won his freedom on Friday when the federal judge presiding over his trial agreed to release him on $8.5 million bond.

Rezko has been in jail since late January, when prosecutors called him a flight risk. Rezko had received a $3.5 million wire transfer from Lebanon, and U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve wasn't satisfied with his explanation of the windfall.

Rezko was a major fundraiser for U.S. Sen. Barack Obama and Gov. Rod Blagojevich, neither of whom has been accused of wrongdoing. He is charged with using his clout as a Blagojevich insider to shake down firms seeking state business.

Head Scratcher

Most Democrats on the Senate Executive Committee initially voted "present" Wednesday on an allegedly non-controversial bill presented by Sen. Christine Radogno, R-Lemont. But that was before Senate President Emil Jones, D-Chicago, arrived at the committee meeting.

After he did, the meeting briefly recessed, and Jones and the handful of Democrats who'd voted "present" retreated to what is literally a back room -- leaving Senate Majority Leader Debbie Halvorson by herself with the committee's Republicans. Upon realizing that she suddenly was the lone Democrat, Halvorson, D-Crete, remarked: "I took a shower!"

Jones and his fellow Democrats eventually emerged from the back room. Radogno's bill was called for a do-over vote, and it passed unanimously.

Quote of Note

"This is turning into a Democratic circus." -- Sen. Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago, said Wednesday during the Senate Executive hearing on the proposed constitutional amendment to recall elected officials. The hearing was disrupted by shouting matches between its opponents, Senate President Emil Jones Jr., and Sen. Rickey Hendon, and its supporters Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn and Rep. Jack Franks.

Number to Know

Zero. The number of Illinois casinos that will be permitted to ignore the state's ban on smoking in most indoor public spaces. A Senate committee had voted to allow the exemption for casinos, but later on the same day, most members of the full Senate opposed creating the loophole for casinos.

Coming Up

Lawmakers are taking the next week off of session. When they get back, they might finally tackle a budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.