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Jackson, Jr. now in home confinement

Monday, Jun 22, 2015

* J3 is out of a halfway house and is now serving home confinement

“I’ve experienced and I’ve accepted the consequences of my behavior, my poor judgment and my actions,” he said.

Jackson pulled up his trousers slightly to show the tracking device over his white sock on his left ankle.

Jackson said he has been writing a memoir while serving his time.

“I plan to use the next several months of home confinement…to share with the American people not only my journey, but the journey of Americans who have erred and made mistakes of judgement that led to their incarceration,” Jackson said.

“My takeaway is that people should not leave this experience bitter. They should be the better, more determined, more committed.”

* He also said he wanted to go into teaching. More

Jackson, who pleaded guilty to spending $750,000 of campaign money on personal items in 2013, began his prison sentence on Nov. 1 of that year. The sentence does not officially end until September of this year, but Jackson became eligible to go home earlier.

After his release, Jackson must spend three years on supervised release under jurisdiction of the U.S. Probation Office and complete 500 hours of community service.

Sandi Jackson, former 7th ward alderman and the wife of Jesse Jackson Jr., will also serve prison time for filing false joint federal income tax returns that knowingly understated the income the couple received.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      

Republican legislator wants SC to take down its Confederate flag

Monday, Jun 22, 2015

* Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) has introduced a new resolution. From the synopsis

Calls upon the South Carolina General Assembly to take statutory action to remove any examples of the “Battle Flag of the Confederacy” from the grounds of the South Carolina State House, including the Confederate Monument.

Full text of the resolution is here.

McSweeney has 8 co-sponsors, 7 of them Democrats.

- Posted by Rich Miller   65 Comments      

Putting human faces on line items

Monday, Jun 22, 2015

* Carol Marin writes about Bonnie Liltz, the mother of a “catastrophically disabled” daughter who was herself desperately ill..

In 2012, Bonnie had a recurrence of cancer. And Courtney had to stay in an emergency residential setting until her mother recovered. It was not a good place and Courtney, said Glasgow, “came home a different kid. . . . It devastated Bonnie.”

Sue and Bonnie were both in the process of making application to a suburban residential center they felt would provide quality care. “But all these places have waiting lists,” said Sue.

Currently there are 22,000 developmentally disabled people on various waiting lists in Illinois, according to Veronica Vera of the Department of Human Services. And 7,000 waiting for residential placement. Yet, in Springfield, lawmakers and the governor are debating $33 million in cuts to those services.

“Bonnie wrote a letter to the governor,” said Sue, “asking him to reconsider.”

On the night she gave Courtney and herself an overdose of medication and wrote a suicide note, Bonnie was experiencing her worst attack yet of gastric pain and horrific diarrhea. She thought she was dying.

“She was in a desperate phase of her life,” said her attorney. “This was not a cry for help. This was a person who was at the end of her options in taking care of her daughter and herself.”

On May 27, Schaumburg police found both at home and unconscious. Courtney did not survive. Bonnie did.

Glasgow credits police and prosecutors for their professionalism and compassion. The charge, nonetheless, is murder.


- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      

What’s the harm? Ask Pat Quinn

Monday, Jun 22, 2015

* From a News-Gazette editorial about Gov. Bruce Rauner’s new TV ads

What’s going on here? There is an old political maxim — if you can’t make them see the light, you can make them feel the heat.

Rauner is trying to peel away enough of Madigan’s legislative caucus to persuade the all-powerful speaker to entertain a few of Rauner’s legislative proposals, including modifications to the state’s workers’-compensation law. […]

So while Rauner and legislative leaders continue to talk, the TV ads will continue to play.

It’s an odd way to do legislative business.

But Illinois has become an odd state, one in which some of its leaders cling desperately to a status quo that has failed the people of this state. In that context, how much more harm can Rauner’s TV ads do?

* Yes, this is about making MJM et al “feel the heat.” Agreed, even though this is a relatively light check into the boards. But how does that ad “peel away enough of Madigan’s legislative caucus to persuade the all-powerful speaker to entertain a few of Rauner’s legislative proposals”? I’m not quite understanding how the CN-G is arriving at that conclusion.

And, by the way, they aren’t talking.

Whenever somebody or some institution appear to be cheerleading for war, or at least cheerleading one side in a coming war, their claims and predictions should always be put under a microscope and compared to actual facts and history.

* Let’s revisit my Crain’s Chicago Business column for this week

In July 2013, Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed lawmakers’ salaries and stipends out of the state budget. He “hit them in the wallet,” he said, to spur action on pension reform.

Instead, all legislative progress suddenly and completely stopped on pension reform for a few months until a court finally ruled that the governor’s veto was unconstitutional. No way were legislators going to let Quinn push them around.

I could very well be wrong, but if legislators wouldn’t cave to protect their own pocketbooks, what makes anyone think they’ll cry “Uncle!” over somebody else’s problems?

Plus, legislators surely know, as they did with Quinn, that they can’t allow a precedent like this to be set: getting Rauner’s approval on the budget by giving in on his legislative agenda. If Democrats capitulate now, then the governor will just do it all over again when next year’s budget negotiations begin.

And then there’s the impact of that Rauner ad about Madigan. […]

Judging by history, including the Quinn paycheck ordeal, I get where the speaker is coming from, to some extent.

As long as Rauner’s TV ads are on the air, Madigan probably is not going to move even a millimeter. Doing so only would invite more ads in the future.

As noted previously, the governor’s ad isn’t devastating the process right now. As soon as the ad eventually comes down the two sides can probably resume talking. I just don’t see Madigan talking until then, however.

Then again, it’s not like he was talking all that much before the ads went up.

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      

Question of the day

Monday, Jun 22, 2015

* From the twitters…

* The Question: Caption?

- Posted by Rich Miller   81 Comments      

Reform the remap, please

Monday, Jun 22, 2015

* I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, legislative Democrats need to get out front on this issue

The statewide Independent Maps organization is getting a new leader, and the indefatigable Champaign-Urbana volunteers who collected thousands of signatures on petitions for a redistricting reform amendment are getting some recognition.

The new executive director at Independent Maps, a coalition aimed at passing a constitutional amendment to have a non-partisan independent commission draw legislative districts in Illinois, will be Cynthia Canary, who helped found the respected Illinois Campaign for Political Reform with the late U.S. Sen. Paul Simon in 1997 and served as its executive director for 14 years.

Canary replaces Patrick Brady, who was appointed head of the organization in April but recently stepped aside.

“Patrick got it through the drafting of amendment and the launch of the petition drive on the streets,” said Independent Maps spokesman Jim Bray. “His family lives in Raleigh (N.C)., and he was flying back and forth to Chicago. It just became evident that it was going to be too much time for him.”

Um, they didn’t ask the guy if he’d be commuting back and forth?


I like Canary. She’s reasonable, not a screamer, not a conspiracy theorist. But this is a big, big task, so we’ll see if she’s up to it, administratively speaking.

Also, keep in mind that this is about state legislative redistricting, not congressional reapportionment. Big difference. Keep national politics out of the comment section, please.

* The reason I think Democrats ought to be backing this concept is simple: It’s in their self interest. If things remain the same and Gov. Rauner is reelected, he’ll have a 50-50 chance of drawing the new district map.

So, the Democrats need to ask themselves if they’d be happier with a remap reform amendment that they draft themselves, or would they rather Canary push through her own version, or would they prefer that none of that happened and they simply roll the dice on Rauner’s 2018 campaign. That dice-rolling didn’t work too well last year, did it?

The Democrats need to set aside their institutional arrogance and reform this process.

* Plus, I see it as a possible trade. Instead of the term limits amendment that Gov. Rauner is currently demanding, the Dems could give Rauner this issue and perhaps check a box on the governor’s Turnaround Agenda list.

- Posted by Rich Miller   54 Comments      

Reading the tells

Monday, Jun 22, 2015

* AP

Throughout his campaign for governor, Bruce Rauner asserted he didn’t have a social agenda and was focused solely on Illinois’ deepening financial crisis.

He’ll now be forced to stake out positions on a range of social issues thanks to the majority-Democratic General Assembly passing proposals this spring that would, among other things, reduce penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana, ban therapists from trying to change a young person’s sexuality, and ensure employers pay women at rates equal to men.

Any of the bills could spark the controversy the first-term Republican hoped to bypass. […]

Rauner hasn’t signaled how he’ll proceed. Six months after taking office, he still refuses to detail his stance on same-sex marriage or immigration reform. When pressed about four issues in particular — decriminalizing marijuana, legalizing the drug for those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, requiring equal pay and banning gay conversation therapy — a Rauner spokeswoman emailed a standard reply: “The governor will carefully consider any legislation that crosses his desk.”

As I’ve said before, the governor so thoroughly controls both GOP caucuses that you first have to look for a “brick.” I think the bricks, if any, were more subtle on most of these bills than we’ve seen on other potentially controversial pieces of legislation.

* With that in mind, let’s look at the roll calls, starting with the marijuana decrim bill.

Republicans in both the House and Senate voted for the bill, suggesting that there was no solid brick on it. But the two GOP legislative leaders voted “No,” which could very well hint that the governor isn’t fully on board.

* Moving on to the PTSD bill. The Senate Republicans were all off that bill except for Sen. Oberweis. A couple of amendments were added in the House exempting patients from some FOID card laws. The amended bill passed the House with strong bipartisan support, although Leader Durkin voted “No.” But the Senate refused to accept the amendments and the House ended up voting to recede 60-41-6. This bill was sponsored in the House by Rep. Lou Lang. Rauner bricked Lang’s medical marijuana sunset extension in the Senate after the bill passed the House with bipartisan support. In between votes, Lang publicly lashed out at the governor.

* Next up, the equal pay bill. The legislation zoomed through both chambers, with Sen. Oberweis casting the lone “No” vote. That one’s not too difficult to figure out.

* And, finally, the gay conversion therapy ban bill. The legislation passed the House and the Senate with few GOP votes. However, both Republican leaders voted “Yes,” perhaps indicating that Rauner is open to supporting it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

Looking for a solution in Chicago

Monday, Jun 22, 2015

* Sun-Times

The Chicago Public Schools will “run out of cash as early as this summer” and be unable to meet payroll, pension and debt payments without “third-party intervention” or a significant “cost deferral,” according to a new consultant’s report commissioned by the school system and obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

The firm Ernst & Young is suggesting the Chicago City Council approve two property-tax increases for the school system. It says the twin increases would be necessary even if CPS makes drastic budget cuts and gets the pension relief and greater state funding it’s seeking in Springfield.

One of the tax hikes it’s recommending would be a “separate levy” of $50 million to bankroll school construction and pay off old projects. CPS has had the authority to impose a “capital improvement tax” for more than 20 years but “never activated” it, according to sources who told the Sun-Times it appears likely Mayor Rahm Emanuel will do so.

The second tax increase — in the range of $100 million to $400 million — is far less likely to be passed. According to the consultants, it would “effectively replace general state aid” siphoned from operations to pay off school construction debt.

It’s debatable whether that second tax hike could be approved by the city council without prior Statehouse authorization. If the maximum tax increases are passed, it would cost the owner of a $250,000 home about $450 a year, according to the article.

* Tribune

But even if CPS wins concessions from the City Council, state lawmakers and the CTU, the district won’t be able to close its annual $1 billion budget gap, according to the May 22 report by Ernst & Young, which spent four weeks meeting with school finance officials and analyzing budget documents. The report shows that even with a capital improvement tax, a separate, even-larger property tax increase, additional state aid, increased state funding of teachers pensions, concessions from the CTU and $150 million worth of budget cuts, CPS would still face an annual $350 million shortfall.


* And

Potentially worsening the situation are unexpected bank penalty payments, the costly legacy of a series of complex financial deals masterminded by school board President David Vitale. Those deals fell apart earlier this year as the district’s credit deteriorated, meaning CPS could be forced to pay $228 million if the banks demand their money. The district has set aside only $174 million to cover such costs.

* At least the CTU realizes the problem

“They absolutely are deep in an imminent crisis,” CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said. “Maybe they won’t be able to open, and maybe the state of schools when they do open is going to be miserable.” […]

“Right now, the district needs us,” Sharkey said. “The politics of Rahm Emanuel going to Springfield are a lot different than the politics of Rahm Emanuel and Karen Lewis going to Springfield.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   95 Comments      

It could’ve been much worse

Monday, Jun 22, 2015

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s much-anticipated TV ad isn’t as over-the-top negative as we might have thought it would be.

“Exactly,” was the response from a Rauner official I spoke with after watching the ad and making that above observation about its somewhat muted tone.

“There’s plenty of time for that if it’s necessary,” the official added.

In case you haven’t seen it, the governor’s ad, above, begins with shots of downtown Chicago, then moves to a photo of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

“Illinois is at a crossroads,” says the announcer. “Mike Madigan and the politicians he controls refuse to change.

“They’re saying no to spending discipline, no to job-creating economic reforms, no to term limits.

“All they want is higher taxes. Again.”

At the 19-second mark, Rauner appears in the ad. “Change in Springfield isn’t easy,” he says in voiceover as he’s seen talking with a couple of male workers. “But you didn’t send me here to do what’s easy,” he says as he’s seen talking to a woman standing at a counter near some flowers.

“With your help,” the governor says to the camera as the phrase “Join Bruce Rauner” appears next to his head, “I’m gonna keep fightin’ to grow our economy and fix our broken state government.”

The ad has played in most media markets in the state on both broadcast and cable stations, including the expensive St. Louis area, where Rauner is spending at least $100,000, according to a firm that tracks these things. Chicago, Rockford, Champaign/Springfield/Decatur, Peoria and the Quad Cities have been targeted.

An aide to the House speaker who saw the ad before I did said he didn’t think it would make much of a difference. After a buildup in expectations, he said, the ad failed to bite much at all, and he even laughed it off.

But a top Senate Democratic operative expressed sincere relief that the spot wasn’t so harsh that it would’ve destroyed any possibility of an agreement on the budget and the governor’s “turnaround agenda” issues, like workers’ compensation reform, a property tax freeze and tort reform.

They’re both probably right.

Rauner’s ad does not ask Illinoisans to do anything specific except support him. There are no phone numbers to call, no other actions to take. He could’ve flooded Madigan’s Statehouse switchboard if he’d chosen to do so, but he didn’t.

So on the one hand, you gotta wonder what exactly the governor hopes to accomplish with this ad, except to “punish” Madigan a bit and demonstrate his willingness to spend a million bucks a week on whatever the heck he wants.

On the other hand, those who still think a deal can get done ought to be relieved that the governor showed a little restraint in his march to war and didn’t go at Madigan with both barrels blazing.

And, by being somewhat reasonable and coming in under expectations, the ad likely will avoid any immediate public backlash. By speechifying across the state for months instead of holing up in Springfield, the governor has opened himself up to potential criticism that he ought to dump the rhetoric and get to work on solving actual problems. He’ll still have to deal with an angry and dismissive Madigan, however. That’s not going to be any easier now.

Former Republican Gov. Jim Edgar has been pleading for calm lately and asking that both sides avoid personal insults.

“The conversations they’re having aren’t the problem,” Edgar told Springfield’s WICS-TV. “Sometimes it’s what they’re saying when they aren’t together that’s the problem. It seems to be Madigan compares (Rauner) to Blagojevich and (Rauner) makes reference to their character. All that will happen in the heat of battle, but I think everyone needs to know we’re at the point if we’re going to get things done we need to back off of that,” the former governor said.

Regarding the new ad, Edgar said he was worried that Rauner’s TV buy would do more harm than good. “I fear that they could cause the Democrats not to come to the table, but maybe to dig in more,” Edgar told Statehouse reporters.

Rauner has all but claimed that Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton are corrupt, Madigan has compared Rauner to the imprisoned Rod Blagojevich, Rauner’s staff has pointedly insulted the House Democrats for engaging in a “sexist smear” of a Rauner appointee, etc., etc., etc.

So it’s little wonder that Edgar is worried that this thing could easily go off the rails, if it hasn’t already.


- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      

Lisa Madigan conspiracy theory rises again

Monday, Jun 22, 2015

* From a Wall St. Journal editorial

The union bill was pushed by Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan, whose daughter is gearing up to run for Governor against Mr. Rauner in 2018.

I was wondering how long that would take to finally resurface.

You’ll recall it was a constant during the Blagojevich administration, and reared its head at least twice during the Quinn years.

I’ll believe it when I see it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      

Crises and opportunities

Monday, Jun 22, 2015

* My Crain’s Chicago Business column

“Crisis creates opportunity,” Gov. Bruce Rauner told the Chicago Tribune editorial board in April. “Crisis creates leverage to change . . . and we’ve got to use that leverage of the crisis to force structural change.”

The “crisis” is the state’s severe fiscal problems. At Rauner’s behest, the Democratic-controlled Illinois General Assembly allowed the state’s temporary income tax to mostly expire on Jan. 1, which created a massive budget hole.

The Republican governor is refusing to negotiate on a budget fix until the Democrats agree to some of his “turnaround agenda” demands, like workers’ compensation insurance reform, a property tax freeze, legislative term limits and tort reform.

So when does the crisis begin? That’s debatable.

Does it start in the next few days, as the governor finally gets a chance to act on the budget, which the Democrats passed in May but didn’t officially begin transmitting to him until June 17?

Does it begin June 30? That’s when the Chicago Public Schools would miss a required $634 million payment to the teacher retirement plan if a pension fix continues to be caught in the crossfire between the governor and Democrats. If a budget deal isn’t reached, state spending starts grinding to a halt the next day.

Does it happen in mid-July, when the first state employee payroll can’t be met because there is no appropriations authority?

Does the crisis occur in mid-August, when public schools don’t receive their first state aid checks and many can’t open their doors?

Or has it already begun?

Rauner recently unveiled two rounds of budget cuts totaling $800 million that will run from July 1 through the summer. Those announcements set off a furor among Democratic legislators.

On June 16, Rauner launched a nearly $1 million TV advertising blitz slamming Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan for blocking his reforms.

Then again, here’s a question almost nobody is asking:

Please, click here to read the rest before commenting. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   73 Comments      

A simulated experience

Monday, Jun 22, 2015

* Let’s start by visiting

* Within what seems like milliseconds, an overlay ad covers our screen…

* But before we can click the “x” to close it, this pops up…

* And then we notice that a “pop-under” ad has been lauched…

* We hit the “x” on that, and we get this…

* After we’ve finally closed all the ads and solicitations, we click the “Navigation” button…

* Then we click “Early & Often”…

* Since there are no drop-down options under the main “Early & Often” link, we have to scroll through the page to look for Springfield news…

* Oops. We can’t find anything we need because for whatever reason they only display a handful of stories. But, luckily, we notice another “Early & Often” link at the top of the page. This one does have a drop-down option…

* Hooray!…

* Finally, we get to the story we want to read, but…

* And…

* Another pop-under…

* And…

* Huzzah, huzzah! We’ve arrived at the article we’d like to read…

* But we can’t read it until we answer a survey question…

* And after we answer that question, another survey question appears…

* And then a video ad starts playing…

I don’t know about you, but my browser usually crashes before I can ever read the story.

Now, all these ads don’t appear every single time. Like the headline says, this is a simulated experience. But it’s also too much like work.

- Posted by Rich Miller   63 Comments      

Good morning!

Monday, Jun 22, 2015

* Rested and ready for the week?

Looks as though there’ll be more pain

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      

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* Emergency Management Officials, National Weather Service Encourage Winter Preparedness - November is Winter Weather Preparedness Month in Illinois
* Keep Your Family Safe This Winter - November through February are leading months for carbon monoxide related incidents
* Governor Takes Bill Action
* Illinois Department of Labor Director Hugo Chaviano Awards Governor’s Award for Contributions in Health and Safety to the Illinois Refining Division of Marathon Petroleum Company LP
* State Regulator Elected Treasurer of Interstate Medical Licensure Compact

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