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Question of the day

Tuesday, Nov 19, 2013

* Despite their town being devastated by a tornado on Sunday, Washington High School’s football team is still scheduled to play a Springfield team on Saturday in the Class 5A playoff semifinals. The game will be played in Springfield and the coaches have been talking

“We’ve talked with (Washington coach Darrell Crouch) and their athletic director (Herb Knoblauch),” [Sacred Heart-Griffin High School football coach Ken Leonard] said. “We want to know what we could do as a team and a school to help with what their needs are.

“It’s tough. They’re human beings with needs. I have some relatives of mine in Washington, and all of them are safe, so that’s good. But we want to help.”

Leonard said one clear need for Washington fans is transportation after their vehicles were damaged or became inaccessible because of the storm. He said SHG has secured at least two charter buses to transport Washington fans to the game, and attempts are being made to get more buses.

“We’re going to feed their team before the game and afterward,” Leonard said.

I’ve seen other heartwarming stories as well about Sunday’s tornado storm, as I’m sure you have.

* The Question: So far, what’s the most touching story you’ve seen on the Sunday tragedy? Links aren’t mandatory, but they’d help.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


Tuesday, Nov 19, 2013

* Bruce Rauner’s latest ad

It looks like he has a new vest.

* Script…

Rauner: Career politicians are running our state into the ground. And Pat Quinn, he’s at the top of the heap.

Voice Over: Bruce Rauner, not a politician.

Rauner: Here’s the deal, if we don’t fundamentally change direction, we’re toast.

Voice Over: The guts to cut spending and deliver term limits. Bruce Rauner.

Rauner: Right now, we have a governor who won’t stand up to career politicians and government union bosses. Let me tell ya, that’s gonna change. Bigtime.

Voice Over: Bruce Rauner, shake up Springfield, bring back Illinois.

Some strangely mixed metaphors there.

Rate it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   131 Comments      

A little perspective

Tuesday, Nov 19, 2013

* A recent Ipsos poll found crack-smoker Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s approval rating at 40 percent.

Gov. Pat Quinn would do public handstands if his approval rating was even close to that. His approval numbers haven’t been above 40 since early 2010.

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      

Department of dumb ideas

Tuesday, Nov 19, 2013

* Phil Kadner

A new emergency alert system that speaks four different languages failed to signal impending danger during Sunday’s tornado warning, according to some Oak Lawn residents.

“I couldn’t hear the tornado siren in my home,” Mickey Depre said. “I’ve lived her for 24 years, near the center of town at 96th and Cicero, and I’ve always heard the sirens go off when there were tornado warnings out. But not on Sunday.”

Oak Lawn installed a new warning system in April, replacing its old system, according to Art Clark, an Oak Lawn police commander in charge of the village’s emergency management agency. The new system sounds a shorter siren, lasting about 30 seconds, followed by appropriate warning messages. […]

After the initial siren, a spoken alert is made over the system in English, Spanish, Polish and Arabic, “the four primary languages spoken in our village,” Clark said. “The old technology, with the siren, you didn’t know what was happening. You weren’t sure of the nature of the emergency.

* Kadner pointed out the folly of such a warning system

I told Clark that my experience with public address announcements, even indoors, is pretty poor.

In airports, hospitals, even business offices, here’s what I hear whenever someone is making an announcement over a PA system:

“Brringoh sacco grrgle THIS IS IMPORTANT to fshhhh skullll IMMEDIATELY.”

Oak Lawn’s system is open air. That means announcements are being tossed into the wind. On Sunday, that was a 40 to 50 mph wind. And some of the stuff being said is in a foreign language.

That doesn’t sound like a good thing to me.

No kidding.

* His conclusion

A really loud air raid siren is still a universal signal to take cover. If the sky is clear, I think most folks would realize they ought to turn on a radio or make a phone call to find out if something other than a weather emergency is taking place.

Exactly right.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      

More problems for Dillard

Tuesday, Nov 19, 2013

* From what I’ve been able to gather, Sen. Kirk Dillard is right that Lori Montana is still raising money for him. But she’s now just a volunteer and no longer part of the campaign staff

Lori Montana, a well-respected, GOP fund-raiser and former Illinois Lottery Director whom Dillard brought onto his campaign with much fanfare, has signaled she’s on her way out, several sources with knowledge of the decision told the Sun-Times.

Sources with knowledge of the decision said Montana informed Dillard’s campaign about two weeks ago of her plans to part ways.

“Lori is a volunteer. She did leave the campaign. She’s going to tie up loose ends,” a source close to the Dillard campaign told the Sun-Times on Monday. “She is not being paid.” […]

When asked about Montana’s status on Monday, Dillard first responded by saying he had a meeting with her in 10 minutes, so he hoped she wasn’t going anywhere. “She’s still on board with me. No, Lori still works for me,” Dillard told the Sun-Times. “Lori Montana is still helping me raise money – it must be people’s wishful thinking.” […]

Rumors have been swirling over why Montana was parting ways with Dillard, but Dillard wasn’t even admitting that she was on her way out.
One source indicated there was general frustration by Dillard’s reluctance to make the number of fund-raising calls needed to survive in a four-way gubernatorial primary.

He won’t make enough calls and, I’m told, his appearance at that anti gay marriage rally may have been the last straw. I reached out to Montana several days ago and never heard back.

…Adding… Illinois Review is hearing the same thing

Sources told Illinois Review that along with the dearth of lucrative commissioned contributions, Montana is leaving the campaign because of Dillard’s public participation in the traditional marriage rally held in Springfield last month, as well as his position on other social issues, which Montana found difficult or uncomfortable to sell to major donors.

Bigtime corporate donor types don’t like social issues all that much. The “strip their pensions,” anti-union Bruce Rauner, therefore, is far more to their liking.

- Posted by Rich Miller   67 Comments      

Brady, Quinn stand together in devastated town

Tuesday, Nov 19, 2013

* WLS reports on a couple of quotes from state Sen. Bill Brady

Here is Brady last month on the governor. “Don’t underestimate Pat Quinn. He may be a buffoon when it comes to leading and on policies, but he is brilliant when it comes to leveraging the populist card in a Democratic state.”

And here is Brady Monday standing with the governor in the devastation of Washington, Ill. “This is obviously one of the most devastating catastrophes we’ve ever seen. It’s really important that we all rally together. This isn’t a partisan problem. This is a bipartisan solution. It’s not a local government problem. It’s a multi-government solution.”

Brady also praised the response by both the governor and his administration…

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      

Charter fight goes deep

Tuesday, Nov 19, 2013

* Josh Dwyer at the Illinois Policy Institute recently derided Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia

State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora, has contempt for the state charter school commission, even though she voted for its creation more than two years ago.

It was on full display the last time Jeanne Nowaczewski – the commission’s executive director – appeared in front of the House Education Committee. Chapa LaVia interrogated her, asking her if she financially benefits from the commission’s approval of charter schools and questioning the commission’s integrity.

It’s no surprise then that Chapa LaVia, along with Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Westchester, has introduced concurrent bills aimed at killing the state charter commission.

House Bill 3754 and Senate Bill 2627 would eliminate the charter school commission and instead allow the Illinois State Board of Education, or ISBE, to handle appeals by charter schools whose proposals are rejected by individual school districts.

That’s the way it used to work before the charter school commission was created. Unfortunately, it didn’t work well.

One reason was that ISBE only devoted one part-time employee to evaluating charter school appeals – a herculean task.

The other was that ISBE is predisposed to reject charter appeals. So says a report created by the Independent Charter Authorizer Task Force in 2010.

* Chapa LaVia used to be a charter school supporter until a “virtual learning” charter school wanted approval in her district

The state charter commission received 29 new charter school appeals from November 1, 2011, when the independent entity took effect, through June 30, 2013, according to a list of frequently asked questions about the commission posted on ISBE’s website in July. […]

In June, the commission voted to accept the withdrawal of 18 appeals by Virtual Learning Solutions, which wanted to partner with online curriculum company K12 Inc. to form the Illinois Virtual Charter School @ Fox River Valley in 18 suburban school districts.

All eighteen school boards rejected the applications for the online charters, and Virtual Learning Solutions filed appeals with the charter commission in May. The commission, however, was poised to deny the appeals before they were withdrawn in June due to a one-year state moratorium on new virtual charter schools that took effect this April. Chapa LaVia also sponsored that moratorium measure, HB 494, and the governor signed it into law May 24.

“I think there’s still a great amount of concern over the [Virtual Learning Solutions and] K12 Inc. application, how that came through,” Laesch explained. “If you look at how much money the school districts spent, it’s well over $300,000 in legal defense for K12 Inc.”

* The Illinois Policy Institute’s Dwyer also opposed Chapa LaVia’s one-year moratorium on virtual charter schools

State lawmakers should not support HB494 – the bill proposed by Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora, that aims to put a one-year moratorium on virtual charter schools in Illinois.

She represents one of the districts that would be affected by the potential opening of the Fox River Valley Virtual Charter School.

Chapa LaVia claims the law is needed because there is no process in place for approving, evaluating and funding a multidistrict charter school.

Unfortunately, she’s wrong. It’s all laid out in the state’s charter-school code.

In fact, a multidistrict virtual charter school must fulfill the same criteria as a traditional charter school to get its charter approved, must meet the same benchmarks on state tests as traditional schools, and is funded through the state charter commission like the other multidistrict charter school in the state – Prairie Crossing Charter School in Grayslake.

* Scott Reeder, the Illinois Policy Institute’s “journalist in residence” also penned a column supporting virtual charter schools

My 7-year-old- Grace loves to draw and paint, and needs constant “atta girls” as she takes on difficult tasks such as playing a new piano piece.

She asks tough questions of her teachers – and expects answers.

On the other hand, my daughter Anna, who will be 5 in a few weeks, seems to always have her face glued to an iPad, working through difficult math puzzles and other educational games.

As soon as I arrive home from work, she begs me to allow her to log in to her school’s website to learn more.

My 2-year-old Caitlin likes to explore. She has her hands on everything – dogs, cats, shoes, clay. She experiences learning through touch.

No child is the same.

That’s why I was so disheartened to see the Illinois House Education Committee vote this week to approve House Bill 494, which puts a three-year moratorium on creating virtual charter schools. The bill’s sponsor has since backpedaled from such a long moratorium and has amended it to make it a one-year moratorium.

* But there is another alleged connection. From Progress Illinois

A series of new reports allege that the State Policy Network (SPN) and its web of think tanks, including the Illinois Policy Institute, are reportedly driving a “right-wing agenda” across all 50 states.

On its website, SPN, a tax-exempt organization, says it’s the “only group in the country dedicated solely to improving the practical effectiveness of independent, non-profit, market-oriented, state-focused think tanks.” SPN works to “enable these organizations to better educate local citizens, policy makers and opinion leaders about market-oriented alternatives to state and local policy challenges.”

But the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) and ProgressNow’s new study, which includes a local report for Illinois, maintains that SPN and its affiliates in every state are big pushers of public policy backed by the pro-corporate American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and other right-wing funders, including organizations with ties to the billionaire Koch brothers.

According to the national report, some of the issues the think tanks peddle involve privatizing education, restricting workers’ rights and rolling back environmental protections, to name a few. The network of think tanks typically use the “same cookie-cutter research and reports, all while claiming to be independent and creating state-focused solutions that purportedly advance the interests or traditions of the state,” the report reads. […]

The Illinois-based report showed that the Illinois Policy Institute (IPI), which describes itself as a “nonpartisan research organization working to make Illinois first in economic outlook and job creation,” received almost $2 million from the Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund from 2005 to 2011. Other high-profile, out-of-state donors to IPI, which does not have to publicly disclose such funding information, include the Roe Foundation, started by SPN’s founding chairman Thomas Roe, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Cato Institute and the Coors family’s Castle Rock Foundation, among others cited in the report. Overall, IPI had more than $2.8 million in reported revenue and more $400,000 in net assets in 2011, the study found. […]

Moreover, the study alleges that IPI attempted to profit from the privatization Illinois’ public schools through new virtual charter schools. IPI fiercely opposed state legislation, HB 494, which successfully established a one-year moratorium on new virtual charter schools in April.

The moratorium stopped Virtual Learning Solutions from setting up the Illinois Virtual Charter School @ Fox River Valley in 18 suburban Illinois school districts. Ted Dabrowski, IPI’s vice president of policy, is a Virtual Learning Solutions board member. Also, Eric Kohn, who is reportedly married to a staff member at IPI, is Virtual Learning Solutions’ treasurer, Chicago Now reported in June. If the charter proposal moved forward, Virtual Learning Solution’s online school endeavor would have resulted in a projected $16 million in Illinois tax dollars over a five-year period.

IPI, however, has denied that its staffers had any financial interest in the online charter school proposal.

The Illinois report is here.

* Speaking of charter schools and the Illinois Policy Institute, Bruce Rauner hater Jon Zahm dug up a little noticed story from earlier this year about how Rauner College Prep - a Chicago charter school - dealt with an underperforming student

They get to play by their own rules in these schools. If a student is underperforming, rather than motivate them and improve their performance, they get a letter like this:

    To Whom it may Concern,

    NAME REDACTED is a student who was required to repeat the eleventh grade at Rauner College Prep because he failed to satisfy all of our promotion requirements. Because he is a reclassified student, the credits he earned during his first attempt in the eleventh grade have been deleted. If the student were to transfer to another school, those credits would be repopulated as earned credits.

So, the parents are essentially faced with two choices: Let the kid retake 11th grade, or transfer to a public school with at least some credits from 11th grade.

If the kid transfers, the school bearing the name of a Republican gubernatorial candidate can move an under-achiever off its rolls. And then the public schools will get the blame for failing him or her.

Rauner, of course, has said he gave half a million dollars to the Illinois Policy Institute.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)

Tuesday, Nov 19, 2013

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* Emptying out my in-box
* Vast Majority of Illinois Voters Support Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency
* Inducement or just a party?
* Question of the day
* UPDATE: $580 MILLION EXELON RATE HIKE?? Do They Really Need a Bailout After Making Nearly $1 BILLION In The Last 90 Days?
* Very late Rauner oppo
* *** UPDATED x2 *** And speaking of abortion...
* GOP defends Rauner on "employer-provided birth control"
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Friday morning fundraising report
* It's not anything new, but that doesn't make it Kosher
* Polling averages, models, projections, etc.
* Today's number: $3.5 million
* Rauner makes "Top 10" robocall list
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Cable TV buy report and a spending update
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Yesterday's blog posts

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