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“Emergency” roof repairs ordered for Executive Mansion

Monday, Jun 30, 2014

* Emergency roof repairs expected to cost “under $40,000.00″ have been ordered for the governor’s mansion, which has a badly leaking roof. With a hat tip to a commenter, here’s the contract’s “Description and Specifications”

Roofs at the Governor’s Executive Mansion and Carriage House are damaged, resulting in water leaks during heavy rains. Leaks have damaged ceilings and walls, and poses a risk to further interior damage including flooring and mold.

A contractor, Henson Robinson Company, has been selected to provide labor and material to patch all known leaks at the Governor’s Mansion and Carriage House in consultation with CDB.

* From the “Emergency Justification”…

Due to the age (over 44 years old) and deterioration of the roof, heavy rains have caused sufficient roof damage to allow water leaks into the building, causing damage to interior room ceilings, walls. Further water leaks may lead to further damage, including floors and mold.

The roofs at the Governor’s Executive Mansion and Carriage House were set to be replaced this summer under CDB project 735-020-036; however, after bid opening (1/24/2014) - CDB has placed the project on hold - without explanation.

Immediate repairs are necessary to prevent further damage to the interior of the buildings.

Ironically, this emergency contract was let the same day that the governor vetoed Statehouse renovation appropriations.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


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Monday, Jun 30, 2014

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Cross’ parents injured in car accident after Pride Parade

Monday, Jun 30, 2014

* I talked to Rep. Tom Cross about this last night. He said his parents were shaken up a bit, his mom was still sore, but they were going to be OK. Greg Hinz has the story

Both Ruth Cross, 76, and the Rev. Thomas Cross, 78, marched with their son in yesterday’s big gay pride parade before grabbing a quick lunch. The candidate and his parents then got into separate cabs to go back to their cars; they live in the western suburbs.

Mr. Cross made it home OK. But his parents’ cab was struck head on by a hit-and-run driver on North Clark Street and Wrightwood Avenue, sending both to the hospital.

Ruth Cross received 10 staples for a severe cut on her forehead but is otherwise OK, according to Cross spokesman Kevin Artl. She may have survived because “she saw the other car coming and had a moment to prepare,” he said.

Mr. Cross’ father “was pretty shaken up,” Mr. Artl said, but like his wife was released after treatment at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Cross said his parents enjoyed the parade. Cross voted for the gay marriage bill. He was one of a handful of Republican to march in the parade. I’m told by others he was given a pretty positive reception.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


Unclear on the concept

Monday, Jun 30, 2014

* From Kristen McQueary in the Tribune

On signature gathering alone, Madigan’s defenders say members of Independent Maps didn’t follow the law. They didn’t get enough registered voters to sign their [remap reform] petitions.

But proving someone who signed a petition is a registered voter is no cakewalk, especially when you’re against Madigan’s attorneys who have interceded and dominated elections proceedings.

“Is that a ‘T’ or a ‘J’ on this voter’s address? Can you be sure? Toss.”

“How do we know if this is John Anderson Jr. or Sr.? Toss.”

“Property records show the mortgage goes to this person. How can we be sure this other person lives there? Toss.”

Even if some circulators screwed up, you can’t convince me there weren’t enough legitimate signatures out of a half-million.

* I called State Board of Elections Executive Director Rupert Borgsmiller and asked about these examples. Let’s take them one at a time.

Borgsmiller opined, “It’s supposed to be Jones St. and they put Tones St.?” If so, he said, it’s likely “we would’ve counted that as a valid signature.”

“If it’s something that would be that minor, especially if the signature matches, I would have anticipated that would’ve been a valid signature,” Borgsmiller said.

Borgsmiller admitted, though, that if there is a Jr. and a Sr. living at the same residence and one is registered and the other is not, then that would be a definite problem, but it seems like it would be a pretty rare thing.

As far as the last point, “You’re not looking at a mortgage to see if that person owns the house,” Borgsmiller rightly said.

Also, keep in mind that the State Board has a much more lenient policy on these sorts of things than, say the Chicago Elections Commission, which is extremely picky (particularly for non-incumbents). So, this first-ever consolidation of a petition review at the state level probably benefited the remappers.

* This is the breakdown of the 25,000 sample of the remap reform petitions that the Board of Elections gave me earlier this month…

Not registered: 7,535
Not registered at address shown: 4,565
Signature doesn’t match 937
Can’t read signature/address 721
Blank line 38
Stricken line 11

The remap reformers followed up by saying they had incontrovertible proof that at least 4,130 of those stricken entries were valid. They needed, depending on duplicates, somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 of those to be ruled valid - a rate of between 60 and 77 percent.

By last Thursday, according to Borgsmiller, Board of Elections staff and the remappers had managed to get through 1,197 of those 4,130. Borgsmiller said 519 of those entries remained invalid - a whopping 43 percent of the entries that the reformers had insisted were carefully checked and believed to be valid.

Another 678 of the remappers’ own supposedly carefully vetted signatures were ruled valid.

But 11 of those were found to be duplicates. The more duplicates found, the more the final formula for success changes.

* Mike Kasper’s team found that 11,918 people out of 360,000 people who had no voter registration issues signed the remap petition a total of 31,590 times. From a Kasper team member on June 18th…

The most we have from one person is 35 times (so far).

9 have signed 20 or more times

90 have signed 10 or more times
(to clarify this number (90) includes the 9 who signed 20 or more times)

848 have signed 5 or more times
(to clarify this number (848) includes the 90 and 9 referenced above)

1,659 have signed 4 or more times
(same deal as above)

3,694 have signed 3 or more times
(ditto)

11,918 have signed 2 or more times
(ditto)

* And those weren’t the only problems. I posted this late Friday after comments were closed, so let’s post it again. From Tribune reporter Rick Pearson

Just a few days ago, attorneys for the opponents [of the remap reform effort] headed up by Michael Kasper, who has longtime ties to Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, laid out a series of claims that they found numerous examples of repeat signatures in violation of state law, incomplete information from petition circulators and even a few cases where nearly entire pages appeared to be duplicated, with identical names in the identical order. That is a telltale sign of “round-tabling,” a time-dishonored tradition in which people sit around a table and take turns signing petitions, choosing names out of a phone book or just making them up.

* McQueary’s main point is absolutely valid: MJM attorney Mike Kasper essentially writes the election laws that he then uses to kick people off the ballot or keep his own candidates on the ballot. He’s helped make the process a lot more difficult for outsiders to navigate. No argument there. At all. It’s what Madigan wants, so it’s what Kasper does.

But her specific objections fall way short of reality, as does her conclusion. These petitions were fatally flawed. Combine that with a serious constitutional issue and failure is the one and only option.

- Posted by Rich Miller   52 Comments      


Question of the day

Monday, Jun 30, 2014

* Former state Rep. Tom Homer is retiring after a decade as the state legislature’s inspector general. He sat down for an interview with the AP. This excerpt revolves around a 2003 ethics reform law that banned large gifts for legislators among many other things

Since he took the legislature’s inspector general job in 2004, Homer has fielded 163 formal complaints, referring 11 to federal or state law enforcement authorities. Some of those ended in criminal convictions, although the law doesn’t allow him to talk about specific cases. […]

[The 2003 law] also created the Legislative Ethics Commission, a board of eight Senate and House members, four named by legislative leaders from each party, who must vote to approve the inspector general’s investigations and any decision to publish disciplinary action. A case in which a legislative staff member is suspended for at least three days is automatically published, but there’s no provision for suspending a lawmaker.

If a legislator is fined, it technically should be published, but Homer has been unsuccessful in getting the commission to approve fines against any lawmakers.

Q: As legislators, do you think commission members feel a need to protect their own?

A: “I have a very high regard for each of them. I think sometimes they’re put in an untenable position, the way it’s constituted. They’re there at the appointment of the leader.

“We have the ability to fine, but the ability to censure or reprimand is the sanction that’s missing here. They have that in the Congress and that’s probably the most potent tool that you can have.”

* The Question: Should the Legislative Inspector General be given the legal right to recommend that the Legislative Ethics Commission censure or reprimand state legislators? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


survey services

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


Irony Alert: Rauner asks for $5 contributions to counter Quinn’s millions

Monday, Jun 30, 2014

* Today is the end of the quarter, so my inbox is flooded with candidate pleas to give last-minute money. Republican Bobby Schilling went for the dramatic angle…

This is bigger than us. This is about saving this great nation. This is about standing up for our children and our grandchildren.

* But my favorite appeal so far is from gazillionaire Bruce Rauner, whose campaign coffers are over-flowing with money, including a recent $2.5 million contribution from Illinois’ wealthiest man…

On Friday we learned the national Democratic Governors Association had transferred about $1 million to Pat Quinn’s campaign.

On Thursday, we discovered that the special interests that spent millions trying to defeat us in March had transferred another $1 million dollars to the same front group they used to attack me in the Primary.

No doubt: here they come.

We hold a lead in the polls. And our victory will mean the end of politics as usual in Springfield. So of course Pat Quinn and his special interest allies are going to come for me with a multi-million dollar ad blitz.

On top of that tomorrow – June 30 – marks the end of the second quarter. This is the most important financial deadline of the campaign. Campaigns will release their fundraising reports to the public, and pundits and the media will review our financial report to gauge our strength.

Will you help with a contribution of $500, $250, $100, $50, $25, or even $5?

Your donation does two things. First, it helps us ready a counteroffensive to what Pat Quinn and the special interests are planning. We’re building the largest grassroots team in America. And we’ll combine our ground troops with an advertising blitz.

Second, your contribution helps bolster this critical financial report. With special interest allies and national groups refueling Pat Quinn’s campaign with millions in just the last few days we know his special interest-funded campaign will show a strong report.

Will you contribute $500, $250, $100, $50, $25, or even $5? Heck, if you can do more like $1,000 or $2,500 it will send a message to Springfield and the special interests propping up a failing Quinn campaign.

Any amount helps. Is $5 or $25 too much?

Let’s not take Quinn’s coming multi-million dollar ad blitz lying down. We’re all-in to win.

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


Today’s number: $122 billion

Monday, Jun 30, 2014

* Bloomberg

This year, companies will spend some $203 billion on TV advertising and $122 billion online, up from $153 billion for TV and $55 billion online in 2009, according to ZenithOptimedia.

The researcher predicts digital spending will exceed that on television by the end of this decade.

* Local TV stations are a mixed bag online. Most of the Chicago TV outlets do a fairly good job, but Downstate TV websites are by and large a joke. They’re gonna find out pretty soon that their broadcasts are going the way of newsprint.

Local TV online news writers generally aren’t very good, their online content doesn’t expand on those short “news” stories they put on the air, they’re not interactive enough, etc. There’s just no good reason to surf to their sites.

They’ve gotta start spending some money on actual talent, real news development, all-day reporting and quirky hit-generating stuff like outtakes and bloopers (including for their network shows). They also have to stop solely relying on young pretty faces to attract viewers and advertising dollars. Hey, I like pretty faces. A lot. But I like brains and experience and insight, too.

* Local newspapers were getting thumped by TV before the Internet ever came along. The massive move online is the way back for newspapers. They can dominate their towns again if they fully recognize the opportunity. TV better watch out.

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      


*** UPDATED x4 - Murphy response - Another Rauner response - Cross responds - Rauner responds *** Quinn vetoes Statehouse renovation money, orders “nearly half” of state planes sold

Monday, Jun 30, 2014

* From a press release…

Governor Quinn today cut Illinois’ Fiscal Year 2015 state budget, zeroing out $250 million for renovations of the state Capitol. In addition, as part of his ongoing budget review, the Governor directed state agencies to identify additional efficiencies, including selling nearly half of the state’s aircraft.

Last week, the Governor announced more than $55 million in efficiencies including reduced parking and reduced leases. Since taking office, Governor Quinn has cut state spending by more than $5.7 billion and today’s action continues the Governor’s commitment to making state government more efficient and accountable to taxpayers.

“While legislators didn’t do their job on the budget, I will continue to do mine,” Governor Quinn said. “Reducing the budget and identifying additional efficiencies will help minimize the impact of cuts in vital services and maintain our hard-won fiscal gains. While there’s more work to do, we must ensure the state lives within its means.”

The Governor’s reductions include vetoing $250 million in appropriations for renovations to the state Capitol building. While ensuring the Capitol building is modern and accessible to all people in Illinois is a priority, the state cannot afford to move forward with additional renovations this year. In 2013, the Governor halted renovations at the Capitol after excessive flourishes and spending by the architect was brought to his attention.

As part of the budget review which commenced June 1, the Governor directed his administration to conduct a thorough review of the state’s aircraft to determine the state’s needs. Selling nearly half the state’s air fleet continues the Governor’s commitment to making Illinois government more efficient while ensuring travel for official state business continues.

Currently the state owns 21 aircraft and spends more than $7 million to operate and maintain the fleet each year. Governor Quinn today instructed the Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS) to put nine aircraft – including seven from the Illinois Department of Transportation and two from the Illinois State Police – on the market while maintaining several aircraft to continue state government operations.

Last week the Governor directed state agencies to cut 80 paid parking spaces for state employees in downtown garages – more than 30 percent of the total spots reserved. The move will save taxpayers more than $100,000 annually. He also again reduced lease costs for government buildings that will save taxpayers an additional $55 million this year.

In March, the Governor submitted a balanced budget plan that continued paying down the state’s bills, protected education and public safety, and secured Illinois’ long-term financial future, but legislators instead postponed the tough budget decisions.

The rest of the budget, with its serious borrowing and spending problems, will apparently be left intact.

*** UPDATE 1 *** Bruce Rauner responds…

“Pat Quinn broke his promise on taxes and his only goal is to permanently take more money out of every hard-working Illinoisans’ paycheck – and this broken budget is the result. In five years of Quinn budgets, we’ve seen higher taxes and decimated education funding, and the results have been the highest unemployment in the Midwest and too many failing schools. We need to fundamentally shake up the way Springfield does business and enact structural reforms to fix our broken state government.”

Except for Rauner’s oft-repeated promise to “shake up” Springfield, he has proposed few concrete ideas to do so. Still, this is an awful budget.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Rep. Tom Cross…

“The budget signed by Governor Quinn today is clearly unconstitutional and violates state law. Both Republicans and Democrats agree that the budget is hundreds of millions of dollars out of balance while wasting millions of hard-earned taxpayer dollars on unnecessary and wasteful projects. If I am fortunate enough to be elected State Treasurer, I will go to court and challenge the legality of this budget which clearly violates Illinois’ Constitution.”

*** UPDATE 3 *** Another Rauner campaign response…

Pat Quinn has now decided to follow Bruce Rauner’s lead and sell part of the state’s air fleet.

“In just one year, Pat Quinn traveled more than 21,000 miles as a frequent flyer on the state’s plane and just a few weeks ago called Bruce’s government reform ideas ‘a prank,’” Rauner campaign spokesman Mike Schrimpf said. “Unfortunately, it’s Pat Quinn who has been cheating Illinois taxpayers for five years.”

“It’s good to see the governor following Bruce’s lead on this,” Schrimpf added. “But Illinoisans will only know Quinn is serious about reform if he follows up by pledging to reduce corporate welfare, eliminate his massive tax hike and come clean about the massive abuse of taxpayer dollars in his administration.”

“Bruce looks forward to living in Springfield, where he can actually do the job of governor and save tax dollars on flights at the same time,” Schrimpf concluded.

*** UPDATE 4 *** From Sen. Matt Murphy…

“This is a phony cut from a phony budget. Why would Pat Quinn try to convince people that he is reining in spending by cutting an appropriation that he knows wasn’t even going to be spent this year? This phony cut will have zero impact on the state budget in Fiscal Year 2015. In the meantime, Illinoisans will continue to live under the economic insecurity created by Governor Quinn’s poor fiscal choices.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      


Then and now

Monday, Jun 30, 2014

* From an August 12, 1994 Chicago Tribune editorial published after the Illinois Supreme Court tossed then-Treasurer Pat Quinn’s term limits constitutional amendment off the ballot

The question to consider is, what has the public lost with this ruling? The answer is, nothing much.

No one has lost the right to vote for or against any candidate. No one has lost the right to contribute money to, or otherwise support, any challenger to an incumbent. No one has lost the right to run himself or herself against an incumbent. In short, the grand procedures and traditions of American politics have not been disturbed.

Term limits are a crude weapon wielded to voice the frustration many people feel about national and local politics.

A term-limit drive is an easy way to slap politicians. It requires no one to assess a voting record, or read a campaign brochure, or watch a political debate and make a knowledgeable decision. It’s a good bet that, if this amendment were on the ballot, voters would approve it, and at the same time re-elect an overwhelming majority of veteran incumbents.

Illinoisans need not feel put out about the court’s decision. But if they’re angry, they can still find some recourse in the political system.

Don’t get mad, get involved.

As you will recall, Illinois had a Republican governor and a GOP-controlled state Senate back then.

* Twenty years later, the Trib is now supporting Bruce Rauner’s term limit proposal and was angry that it didn’t pass constitutional muster

Citizens of Illinois: Your constitution is stacked against you. And there’s not much you can do about it.

Judge Mary Mikva made that official on Friday, invalidating two voter-driven amendments aimed at the Nov. 4 ballot.

It was a ruling based on the narrow interpretations of the constitution’s language in previous rulings by the Illinois Supreme Court.

But it’s a big loss for the citizens who demanded a greater say in how their state is run — and a big win for the politicians who are supposed to represent them. […]

n the merits, both measures would pass, hands down. Year after year, polls have shown consistent voter support for such reforms — and growing disgust with the state’s insular political culture.

That’s why House Speaker Michael Madigan has pulled out the stops to avoid an up-or-down vote. These people-power amendments are a potent threat to his grip on state government. He does not want them on the ballot.

Times change, and, apparently, so do opinions.

* Meanwhile, here is Eric Zorn’s excerpt from Friday’s ruling

(The Illinois Supreme Court has) ruled that the Free and Equal Clause of Section 3 of Article III of the Illinois Constitution of 1970 is a limitation on initiatives. The court has held that the Free and Equal clause prohibits the combination of separate and unrelated questions in a single proposition on any initiative, including an initiative to amend the Constitution (by petition)….

(The addition by term limit backers) of other components, like changing the number of legislative districts and representative districts and the number of votes necessary to override a governors veto, which may well be structural or procedural, cannot save this initiative because any (such) initiative … must be “limited to structural and procedural subjects contained in (the portion of the constitution dealing with the legislature.”…

The inclusion of these other components also puts this initiative in conflict with the Free and Equal clause ….. Separate questions in an initiative must be “reasonably related to a common objective in a workable manner.”…

Term limits may reasonably be related to staggered two-and four years senatorial terms. Yet term limits do not appear to have any direct relationship either to increasing the size of the House of Representatives and decreasing the size of the Senate or to the vote threshold needed to override the governor’s veto.

While the Term Limits Committee argues that all provisions are directed to an increase in legislative responsiveness and a reduction in the influence of narrow, partisan, or special interest, these objectives are so broad that they cannot be viewed as bases to bring these component parts into a consistent, workable home. Thus the term limits initiative is in conflict with the Free and Equal clause….

The redistricting initiative contains provisions that are neither structural nor procedural… And, therefore, the initiative is not limited to the structural and procedural subjects in article IV.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Reform and renewal: College of DuPage edition

Monday, Jun 30, 2014

*** UPDATE *** It worked. CoD got the money

Steadily growing College of DuPage is expected to add another classroom building, after trustees last week approved $30 million for the latest project in a half-billion-dollar expansion program.

The Glen Ellyn school plans to tap $20 million in state funding to pay the rest of the tab for the $50 million Teaching and Learning Center.

Man, did we ever get played. This needs to be reconsidered.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* Adam Andrzejewski obtained an e-mail from College of DuPage President Robert Breuder to his board of trustees about his plan to make up a project out of thin air in order to snag some state money that the school didn’t actually need. Man, is this ever crass and underhanded. Emphasis added

I am in a bit of a quandary.

We have been working with the Governor’s Office (seemingly forever) to secure our $20 million. Initially the money was to be used for our Homeland Security initiative. When we accomplished our Homeland agenda without state funding, we changed the focus to building demolition. With that initiative soon to be history we need an alternative. I needed to identify a project that would help release our state funding. My idea: a Teaching and Learning Center.

Several Board members want to weigh in on the need for such a facility. I have no problem with that; however, not being able to say how we would use the state’s money (perhaps no real need) could lessen our chances to break the money loose at this time (the political moon is rising).

A building that focuses on teaching and learning is politically attractive; more so than let’s say a student center, PE facility, etc. At COD, general purpose classroom space is our greatest need. (See attached Board agenda item.) A need that will expand with continued enrollment growth. My having to dance around the issue of how we would use the money attenuates our ask.

When I introduce Governor Quinn at commencement, I want to help our cause (getting the $20 million released sooner rather than later) by thanking him for his commitment in front of 3,500 people. There are many voters in our District. Please keep November 4 in mind. The limited state dollars for capital projects will go somewhere in this heightened political season. Why not College of DuPage?

In the attached press release you can see how I have had to dance around how we would use the money. It was a less effective quote than it could have been.

And lastly, who better to know what physical space needs we have than the people who deliver services every day? There is always the option of telling the Governor we want the money, will bank it until we figure out how to use it, and then build something. And is it not better to match money than to provide 100%?

Bottom line: I need some room to breathe on this matter so I can enhance the likelihood we get the $20 million, soon.

Thanks.

B

P.S. In the last five years, I have led a $550 million transformation of our physical plant. By now I hope all Board members have confidence in my judgment. But, then again, this may be about something else.

Oy.

* From Adam A

“Is the Board going to let Dr. Breuder continue as President while he concocts schemes to secure funding he admits he doesn’t need, through projects that are unplanned, in exchange for a vague and unfillable promise to deliver votes for Gov. Quinn.”

Agreed.

Hat tip: Illinois Leaks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      


Supreme Court: Some corporations can have religious beliefs

Monday, Jun 30, 2014

* AP

The Supreme Court says corporations can hold religious objections that allow them to opt out of the new health law requirement that they cover contraceptives for women.

The justices’ 5-4 decision Monday is the first time that the high court has ruled that profit-seeking businesses can hold religious views under federal law. And it means the Obama administration must search for a different way of providing free contraception to women who are covered under objecting companies’ health insurance plans.

Contraception is among a range of preventive services that must be provided at no extra charge under the health care law that President Barack Obama signed in 2010 and the Supreme Court upheld two years later. […]

The court stressed that its ruling applies only to corporations that are under the control of just a few people in which there is no essential difference between the business and its owners.

…Adding… From Planned Parenthood of Illinois…

All women deserve the right to the health care they need. We know first-hand how important it is for women to receive the method of birth control that works for them without hurdles or barriers. That’s why Planned Parenthood fought so hard for the birth control benefit in the first place and why we’re focused on making sure that women have access to the method of birth control that’s best for them, without cost or other hurdles standing in the way.

Today American families were served a severe blow to their right to family planning when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods even though they did stipulate that the holding is limited to small “closely-held” corporations. The corporations in this lawsuit hold an extreme view, and unfortunately there are some politicians who want to go even farther — getting rid of the birth control benefit entirely. Bosses of private, for-profit businesses should not be able to interfere in women’s health decisions, and neither should the politicians who want to roll back the birth control benefit entirely, taking away insurance coverage that millions of women benefit from.

Although the Supreme Court ruled in favor of these corporations, we applaud the Illinois General Assembly for having the foresight to pass the Birth Control Referendum. We are fortunate to live in a state that protects women’s rights to contraceptives. This referendum will help protect and strengthen the law we already have in light of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The non-binding referendum will appear on the November ballot as this question:

    Shall any health insurance plan in Illinois that provides prescription drug coverage be required to include prescription birth control as part of that coverage?

Planned Parenthood of Illinois believes that preventive care, including birth control, is basic healthcare for women. Virtually all American women between the ages of 15 and 44 who are sexually active have used birth control at some time. Regardless of the size of the corporation, we will not let this ruling deter us from continuing to provide essential healthcare services to the more than 60,000 women, men, and teens across Illinois that entrust their basic health care rights to us — however small or large the corporation they work for.

…Adding… The Tribune has the local angle

Though not a part of today’s ruling, at least five Illinois companies have raised similar objections and are hoping that the ruling will apply to them. They are Oak Brook-based Triune Health Group; Highland-based Korte & Luitjohan Contractors; Mokena-based Ozinga Bros., a Chicago-area concrete company; Hart Electric in Lostant; the Chicago law firm of Lindsay, Rappaport & Postel; and Carol Stream-based Tyndale House Publishers.

“It came out in our favor. We’re very excited about this,” said Chris Yep, owner of Triune Health Group, who attended the oral arguments earlier this year. “We’re now going to move ahead for some re-judgment on this.”

The Yeps were the first Catholic Illinois business owners to sue the Obama administration for enforcing the controversial contraception mandate. They also were the first to sue the state of Illinois over a similar mandate that went into effect 10 years ago.

Yep especially appreciated Kennedy’s concurring opinion, which suggested the government could pay for contraception itself if it was that important.

…Adding… From Congressman Peter Roskam…

“Today, the Supreme Court upheld one of the core principles our nation was founded upon, religious freedom. The federal government and the heavy-handed mandates within Obamacare cannot and should not violate the deeply held religious beliefs of these family-owned and operated businesses. After the government has granted exemptions from this very mandate for 100 million employees for commercial and political reasons, it is only appropriate that they should do so for those with objections based on their faith. I am hopeful this ruling will help protect the rights of Tyndale House Publishers in Carol Stream, Wheaton College in Wheaton, and others organizations I represent as they practice the free exercise of their religious beliefs.”

…Adding… From Gov. Quinn…

“Healthcare is a human right, and the Affordable Care Act is meant to give all Americans access to decent, affordable healthcare.

“That means full access to healthcare for every woman in America, regardless of who they are or where they work.

“A woman’s personal health decisions should stay strictly between her and her doctor.

“Unfortunately, today’s U.S. Supreme Court’s decision takes these choices from a woman and gives them to her employer.

“I will continue to fight to preserve the right of Illinois women to make their own healthcare decisions based on their own beliefs, not the beliefs of the person signing their paycheck.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   112 Comments      


Court rules against unions on home care workers

Monday, Jun 30, 2014

* The US Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision today that mandatory public union dues for home care workers violate workers’ First Amendment rights

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled that in-home care workers in Illinois who are paid by the state cannot be compelled to pay union dues.

The court held on a 5-4 vote that the free speech and free association rights of the workers were violated but the scope of the ruling was limited because the justices decided not to upend a decades-old practice that lets public-sector unions collect money from workers who do not want union representation.

The case stems from Harris v. Quinn, an Illinois case involving in-home care providers. Illinois and other states have long used Medicaid funds to pay salaries for in-home care workers to assist disabled adults who otherwise might have to be placed in state institutions. The jobs were poorly paid, and turnover was high..

The full opinion is here. I’m still reading through it.

…Adding… From House GOP Leader Jim Durkin…

I applaud the United States Supreme Court’s decision today by siding with Illinoisans Pam and Josh Harris by ruling that a home is not a union shop and that the sensitive decisions regarding the care for a disabled loved one needs to remain with the caregiver and in the home.

In June of 2009, the Governor issued Executive Order 15 which allows for collective bargaining in the home based support services provided, for the most part, by parents and family members of the disabled. Josh Harris suffers from Rubenstein-Taybi syndrome and other physical and mental disabilities. Josh’s mother Pam Harris, is his caregiver. At that time, Pam and Josh lived a few blocks from me and she reached out to me expressing her grave concerns with the Executive Order 15 and how its full implementation would affect her son. I spent an afternoon with her and Josh and witnessed first-hand the daily care she provides her son. I soon introduced HR 720 which called upon the Governor to withdraw EO 15. Despite Pam’s testimony with Josh present, the resolution failed in the Democrat controlled State Government Administration committee. This past year I reintroduced the Resolution.

Pam Harris speaks for the thousands of parents and family members who serve as caregivers. No one other than Pam Harris knows what’s best for Josh and the United States Supreme Court agrees.

…Adding… From the decision

Just as the State denies personal assistants most of the rights and benefits enjoyed by full-fledged state workers, the State does not assume responsibility for actions taken by personal assistants during the course of their employ­ment. The governing statute explicitly disclaims “vicari­ous liability in tort.” Ibid. So if a personal assistant steals from a customer, neglects a customer, or abuses a customer, the State washes its hands.

Illinois deems personal assistants to be state employees for one purpose only, collective bargaining, but the scope of bargaining that may be conducted on their behalf is sharply limited. Under the governing Illinois statute, collective bargaining can occur only for “terms and condi­tions of employment that are within the State’s control.” Ill. Comp. Stat., ch. 20, §2405/3(f ). That is not very much. […]

If respondents’ and the dissent’s views were adopted, a host of workers who receive payments from a governmen­tal entity for some sort of service would be candidates for inclusion within Abood’s reach. Medicare-funded home health employees may be one such group. See Brief for Petitioners 51; 42 U. S. C. §1395x(m); 42 CFR §424.22(a). The same goes for adult foster care providers in Oregon (Ore. Rev. Stat. §443.733 (2013)) and Washington (Wash. Rev. Code §41.56.029 (2012)) and certain workers under the federal Child Care and Development Fund programs (45 CFR §98.2).

From an end-note

The Court of Appeals held—and we agree—that the First Amend­ ment claims of the petitioners who work, not in the Rehabilitation Program, but in a different but related program, the “Disabilities Program,” are not ripe. This latter program is similar in its basic structure to the Rehabilitation Program, see App. to Pet. for Cert. 14a, but the Disabilities Program personal assistants have not yet union­ ized. The Disabilities Program petitioners claim that under Illinois Executive Order No. 2009–15, they face imminent unionization and, along with it, compulsory dues payments. Executive Order No. 2009– 15, they note, is “almost identical to EO 2003–08, except that it targets providers in the Disabilities Program.” Brief for Petitioners 10.

In a 2009 mail-ballot election, the Disabilities Program personal assistants voted down efforts by SEIU Local 73 and American Federa­ tion State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 to become their representatives. See App. 27. The record before us does not suggest that there are any further elections currently scheduled. Nor does the record show that any union is currently trying to obtain certification through a card check program. Under these circumstances, we agree with the holding of the Court of Appeals.

Reading the full decision, it’s obvious that at least some in the majority wanted to go much further and get rid of compulsory union dues for all public employees. Obviously, they didn’t have enough votes to get that far, but it may not be long.

…Adding… Commenter “Just Saying” has a very good analogy

Interesting that some here think that those who do not want to be forced to pay union dues are getting a “free ride.” Yet, business associations often pass legislation that help sectors of industry without requiring those businesses that are helped to be members. It’s the same type of thing. Should businesses that get a tax break from legislation passed by the IMA or IRMA be forced to pay dues to either of those organizations? Of course not.

…Adding… From Gov. Quinn…

“Today’s 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court is disappointing.

“There are thousands of workers who care for our seniors and people with disabilities in Illinois, and they deserve the right to collectively bargain for decent wages, benefits and proper working conditions.

“A high-quality workforce of long-term, in-home care workers gives our most vulnerable citizens the opportunity to live independently in their own homes, instead of forcing them into expensive, long-term care institutions. All people, no matter what their challenges are, deserve the opportunity to choose to live in the community.

“We will continue working to provide quality care for our most vulnerable citizens and we will continue fighting to ensure workers get a fair shake for a hard day’s work.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   61 Comments      


Getting “Trumped”

Monday, Jun 30, 2014

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

It occurred to me when I was in Chicago the other day that the media furor about billionaire mogul Donald Trump’s insistence that he hang 20-foot-high letters spelling out his name on his skyscraper is pretty much the same sort of mindset behind Gov. Pat Quinn’s campaign to tag “Billionaire Bruce Rauner” as a rich, out-of-touch, right-wing white guy.

So I commissioned a poll. While a majority of those surveyed actually agree that Mr. Trump has the right to hang his letters, he’s not popular here and voters don’t think that people like him can understand regular folks.

The Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll of 1,033 likely Illinois voters found that just 38 percent have a favorable view of Trump while 42 percent have an unfavorable opinion of him. His numbers were worse in Chicago and suburban Cook County, where voters are far more Democratic and where the “giant letters” controversy has received the most media attention.

Just 23 percent of Chicagoans and 25 percent of suburban Cook County residents had a favorable view of the New York developer, compared with the 52 percent of Chicagoans and 56 percent of suburban Cook County residents who had an unfavorable view. His favorable versus unfavorable ratings among African-Americans were 27-46 and among whites 38-43. His highest favorable ratings were among Republicans 53-23, downstaters 47-34, collar county residents 44-38 and independents 43-37. The poll, conducted on June 25, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.05 percent.

But a large majority agreed with Trump when asked: “This month, Chicago’s mayor and many others criticized Mr. Trump for placing what they called ‘garish’ 20-foot-tall letters spelling out his name on his new downtown Chicago skyscraper. Trump said it was his right to do so.”

The poll found that 61 percent of Illinoisans sided with Trump, while just 29 percent sided with Trump’s critics. Democrats were split 44-45 on the issue. African-Americans sided with Trump 47-41, as did 57 percent of Chicagoans, 56 percent of suburban Cook residents, 69 percent of collar county residents, 61 percent of downstaters, 80 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of independents.

“Despite the relatively low opinion many have of Mr. Trump, most believe he has the right to put his name in ego-sized proportion on his own building,” explained Gregg Durham, CEO of Springfield-based We Ask America, an independent subsidiary of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “They’re able to separate their personal feelings about the man from the larger question concerning his rights.”

But I also wanted to test not just attitudes about Mr. Trump but people like him — as in Bruce Rauner, the Republican candidate for governor. So, we came up with this question: “Do you think that wealthy people like Mr. Trump are able to understand the problems of everyday folks?”

Just 32 percent of Illinoisans said that those people can understand regular folks, while 55 percent said they couldn’t, according to the poll.

The differences were most pronounced among Democrats, with 18 percent saying “can understand” versus 72 percent saying “cannot understand.” The split among Chicagoans was 21-63 and African-Americans at 26-58.

A plurality of Republicans, a mere 47 percent, agreed that people like Mr. Trump can understand regular folks, which probably shows you more than anything else just how ingrained this mindset is. The split was 45-44 among suburban collar county residents.

As mentioned earlier, a plurality of independents, 43 percent, had a favorable viewpoint of Mr. Trump, and a strong majority supported his right to hang those huge letters. But just 35 percent of independents said that Mr. Trump and those like him can understand their problems, while 51 percent said they can’t.

Downstaters leaned toward liking the developer and strongly supported his right to hang his letters, but a mere 27 percent said wealthy people like him can understand the problems of everyday folks, while 59 percent said they can’t.

And the same goes for whites, who didn’t care for Trump but backed his sign decision. Just 32 percent said Trump and folks like him can understand their problems, while 57 percent of whites said they cannot.

Taken in this context, it’s easy to understand Mr. Rauner’s endlessly repeated emphasis on his $18 watch and his Harley Davidson motorcycle. It also helps explain the private-equity investor’s announcement last week that he was supporting some longtime populist proposals to close several “corporate loopholes” and to slap an inheritance tax on the transfer of yachts and jets to surviving spouses.

Rauner cannot risk being “Trumped” by Gov. Quinn. On the other hand, the Democratic governor apparently believes he needs to paint his opponent as a local version of the cartoon character that Trump has become. It obviously works well here.

Subscribers have full crosstabs.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      


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