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This is Illinois

Tuesday, Feb 5, 2013

* Umm

The Illinois House of Representatives has created a new committee to address inequalities in the state’s criminal justice system, while the chairman of the new committee faces his own legal problems.

State Rep. LaShawn Ford is the chairman of the new Restorative Justice Committee.

He’s also been indicted for bank fraud.

Hey, this is Illinois, people.

* But there does seem to be a legit reason to create the committee

Ford’s fellow Democratic committee members also expressed a desire to use the committee to discuss the variety of issues that relate to the criminal justice system.

“We’ve seen in the debate after the terrible shooting incident in Connecticut how issues of criminal law and mental health and, you know, other different categories sort of intersect,” said State. Rep. Greg Harris. “And I think we need to take a holistic look at all of those things.” […]

“I think often in government, things tend to go in silos where you look at things based on the source who uses the funds and there’s a lot of interrelationships between levels of education and levels of job preparedness and the availability of jobs in the community along with mental health issues and substance abuse and crime,” he said. “So to look at them just in a - isolate the little box may not give you the whole picture.”

It’s actually an interesting concept. Go read the whole thing.

* Oy

After figuring out that she had gotten on the wrong South Side bus last March 9, Cook County Judge Cynthia Brim got off somewhere on 47th Street and “marched for justice towards downtown.”

It was one in a bizarre series of events in a day that ended with her arrest on battery charges after allegedly shoving a sheriff’s deputy outside the Daley Center court complex. That story was told in the testimony that Judge Liam Brennan heard at Brim’s trial Monday at the Daley Center. He decided that Brim — who has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type — was not guilty by reason of insanity. […]

Brim, 54, didn’t talk with reporters after the verdict, but her attorney, James D. Montgomery Sr., said she was eager to get back to work.

Cook County Board President did a robocall for Brim and other judges last year to urge their retentiion.

* I’m not as averse to pork projects as some are. The debilitated, deadlocked US Congress is an example of what happens when you remove pork projects from the legislative give and take. It’s a long tradition, and it works

An emergency spending proposal being debated in the Capitol this week isn’t just about building new roads and protecting vulnerable children.

Rather, tucked into what could become a package worth more than $1.3 billion is $115,000 to help launch a high school basketball hall of fame in Danville.

The 92-page spending blueprint also contains $1 million to help build a new children’s museum in downtown Springfield, despite the failure of a similar facility just blocks away several years ago.

And, it has $167,148 for a museum in the Southern Illinois town of Rosiclare dedicated to the region’s fluorspar miners.

In a vote Monday, a House panel endorsed the added spending, which is designed to patch holes in the state budget in the second half of the state’s fiscal year. It includes $675 million for various transportation projects, $25 million for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and $12 million for community mental health programs.

* Meanwhile, some state parks have no money to take camping reservations

Walnut Point State Park north of Oakland and Lincoln Trail State Park south of Marshall have temporarily stopped taking reservations for camp sites due to a staffing shortage but are otherwise open for use.

The two state parks stopped taking reservations about a week ago, said Tom Hintz, who is site superintendent for both Walnut Point and Lincoln Trail. Hintz said he does not have the staffing available at this time time to handle reservations, adding that he is the only full-time employee available for both sites. Hintz said reservations made before last week are still being honored, adding that Walnut Point already has some camp site reservations for the spring. He said Lincoln Trail does not have an reservations in place.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources spokesman Chris McCloud said Walnut Point and Lincoln Trail, like other state parks, have been affected by the DNR’s land staff being reduced by 50 percent during the last 10 years due to state budget cuts.

McCloud said staffing, facility maintenance, and other needs at Illinois state parks will receive a financial lift later in 2013 when the state starts to collect proceeds from a $2 increase in license plate fees that will generate an estimated $18 million to $22 million for natural resources usage.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


35 Comments
  1. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 12:17 pm:

    Brim is the poster child for reforming our crazy judicial appointment/retention system.


  2. - Esquire - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 12:23 pm:

    I never thought that there would be an opportunity to reference LaShawn Ford and former US Senator Roman Hruska of Nebraska in the same post. Now there is…

    “Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they, and a little chance?” US Senator Roman Hruska (R-NE).

    “Even if he was indicted, there are a lot of indicted judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they, and a little chance? I mean the committee’s work is important.”


  3. - Anonymour - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 12:34 pm:

    What Chicago Cynic Says.
    +1


  4. - lincolnlover - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 12:34 pm:

    If we have an extra mil or so lying around, shouldn’t it go towards bills we already owe? After Mr. Cullerton’s calloused comment regarding greedy retirees, that seems to be what he would want,isn’t it?


  5. - Amalia - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 12:37 pm:

    I’d like a committee that helps to find rapists and murderers. that would be money well spent.


  6. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 12:38 pm:

    What would happen if Ford, on his indictment, goes before Brim?


  7. - Irish - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 12:42 pm:

    Is there process for appeal that falls under “My judge was crazy”?

    Would it be “Judicial Affirmative Defense?”


  8. - dupage dan - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 12:43 pm:

    Currently, we elect judges. Moving towards a merit system will likely involve judges judging judges. The Trib piece mentioned that the full circuit endorsed Brim - indeed, her cousin (also a judge) vouched for her claiming she had no mental illness despite a history of hospitalizations dating back to when she was first on the bench.

    So, who should we trust to choose judges? Voters who vote without looking or perhaps judges who endorse others clearly unsuited for the bench?


  9. - Orzo - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 12:49 pm:

    I have no doubt that Judge Brim is suffering from mental illness, but there are thousands of mentally ill in Illinois and we don’t pay them over $180,000 to stay home. In fact, we are cutting back the services they need.
    Too bad we don’t have a Judicial Inquiry Board in Illinois. Oh, wait…


  10. - RNUG - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 1:06 pm:

    From my perspective, the original Children’s Museum in Spfld failed because it was almost all “no touch / no play / don’t do that”. They should take lessons from the City Museum in St. Louis where almost nothing is off limits. If the Spfld group hasn’t changed their ways, it will just be another waste of money.


  11. - Skeeter - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 1:28 pm:

    The thing about Brim that hasn’t gotten much play is that she’s been hospitalized five times for psych issues since she went on the bench.

    At what point does the JIB get involved?

    At what point does Timothy Evans say that he’s had enough? Evans has been a huge disappointment as Chief Judge. He refuses to take action against some very bad judges.


  12. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 1:37 pm:

    –Illinois Department of Natural Resources spokesman Chris McCloud said Walnut Point and Lincoln Trail, like other state parks, have been affected by the DNR’s land staff being reduced by 50 percent during the last 10 years due to state budget cuts.–

    I guess we deserve that because we, the people, twice elected as governor a cheap hustler who bragged about how he had never been to a state park.

    But the situation is a disgrace and we, the people, need to put our shoulders to it or we will leave the legacy our folks built for us in much worse shape than we found it. And that should be a possibility too bitter to contemplate.

    Parks and historic sites are not frills. They are a generational bond and a serious responsibility.


  13. - bored now - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 1:39 pm:

    no.1 lesson i learned from this blog (not just rich, but several of the more knowledgeable commenters, as well): this IS illinois, and that means something…


  14. - Fair Share - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 1:57 pm:

    “Pork…It’s a long tradition, and it works…”

    Hahahaha. It works to screw the taxpayer and put the state’s finances into disarray and billions in unfounded liabilities. Impasse is good because it slows out of control spending pork included.


  15. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 2:00 pm:

    –Impasse is good because it slows out of control spending pork included.–

    Hadn’t noticed that on the federal level.


  16. - Fred's Mustache - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 2:09 pm:

    === Brim, 54, didn’t talk with reporters after the verdict, but her attorney, James D. Montgomery Sr., said she was eager to get back to work. ===

    I don’t know who is crazier - Brim or her attorney.


  17. - Irish - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 2:21 pm:

    Word@1:37 pm - Spot on. A person wouold not go to WalmMart to purchase a family heirloom to hand down through the generations. But we are using Walmart fiscal policies to care for the heirlooms we will hand down to future generations.

    Brady promised to cut IDNR 10% and was ridiculed.

    FY 2013 = 34% cuts to DNR from Quinn since that election. And this is an environmental Governor?


  18. - Cassiopeia - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 2:31 pm:

    Just when you think it can’t be any more embarrassing to live in Illinois another thing happens. I am growing very weary of people from other states laughing at us and the antics of our political unleaders.


  19. - Cheryl44 - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 2:31 pm:

    Schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type is extremely rare and people with it can become dangers to themselves and others. I hope Judge Brim is taking care of herself.


  20. - walkinfool - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 2:44 pm:

    If the committee is looking at inequalities in the justice system, Ford might have to recuse himself from one case.


  21. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 2:57 pm:

    –I am growing very weary of people from other states laughing at us and the antics of our political unleaders. –

    Cheer up Cassie. It’s not like we’re Texas, where they routinely execute the mentally disabled and teach Bible stories as history in the public schools.

    Come to think of it, there’s nothing funny about that, either.


  22. - Shemp - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 3:02 pm:

    And we do this to ourselves. Amazing.


  23. - Esquire - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 3:21 pm:

    Judge Cynthia Brim has to be removed. I hope that the Judicial Inquiry Board steps up and performs the task. Throughout her erratic career, Brim has been shuffled from one low key assignment to another, but the Presiding Judge has run out of places to hide ineffective judges. Her behavioral problems are well known to many legal practitioners. This is not something new.

    It was quite bad of the Cook County Democratic Party to issue a uniform endorsement for all judges seeking retention. This provided Brim with cover.


  24. - Downstater - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 3:45 pm:

    It’s Chicago!! Is anyone really surprised by the inpetness and craziness?


  25. - Skeeter - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 3:57 pm:

    Hey Downstater, thanks for reminding me why I never venture downstate. Don’t like Chicago? Stay out of here. We don’t like you either.


  26. - Liberty_First - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 4:13 pm:

    Hey Wordslinger: Yale teaches a class in Bible history- exactly how far left are you?

    - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 2:57 pm:

    –I am growing very weary of people from other states laughing at us and the antics of our political unleaders. –

    “Cheer up Cassie. It’s not like we’re Texas, where they routinely execute the mentally disabled and teach Bible stories as history in the public schools.”

    Come to think of it, there’s nothing funny about that, either.


  27. - Stooges - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 4:26 pm:

    Isn’t there a way for IDNR to let campers make reservations online? Seems like if you can reserve a seat on a plane without talking to a live person, you could reserve a campsite the same way. Probably no money to acquire the necessary computer technology to allow this to be implemented.


  28. - Stooges - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 4:29 pm:

    Somewhere a screen writer just got an idea for “And Justice for All - the Sequel”. There will never be a shortage of crazy/quirky/odd judges doing things make us wonder about the system.


  29. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 4:31 pm:

    Libby, there’s a difference between a course in Bible history and Bible as history.

    http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/Study-Texas-school-districts-teach-Bible-with-4224436.php


  30. - dan linn - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 4:44 pm:

    Online reservations for camping at State Parks in IL already exists, I’d imagine they still need a staffer to make sure that the specific site does not get occupied by someone else though.


  31. - dan linn - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 4:47 pm:

    “Parks and historic sites are not frills. They are a generational bond and a serious responsibility. ”

    I agree completely wordslinger


  32. - bored now - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 5:31 pm:

    Liberty_First: yale has a famed divinity school, so it’s hardly a surprise that they would offer a course in bible history. you’d be hard pressed to convince me that those who want the bible taught in public schools as a serious subject matter want to use seminarians to teach the course, though…


  33. - Little Egypt - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 9:14 pm:

    Only in Illinois can a judge be found not-guilty by reason on insanity and the next day go back to work being a judge. Would someone please forward this to Jay Leno?


  34. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 10:04 pm:

    Good one, LE.


  35. - Lost In The Weeds - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 11:26 pm:

    Looking at Reserve America it appears reservations can still be made a Lincoln Trail. I camped there about 5 years ago in early spring and spoke to a couple of workers there at the park. At that time they were complaining that staff were not being replaced and lack of maintenance and upkeep. One of the camping areas bathrooms was closed because the waterlines were broken and it was not known when it would be fixed.

    Also they have not taken reservations at Lincoln Trail before because of staff shortages.

    I doubt this is a time when very many reservations are being made anyway.


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