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Madigan wants 3% surcharge on income over $1 million

Thursday, Mar 20, 2014

* From a press release

House Speaker Michael J. Madigan on Thursday laid out a plan to increase funding for schools across the state by $1 billion a year with dollars generated by imposing a tax surcharge on millionaires.

“Over the last several years, every area of Illinois has experienced school closures, teacher layoffs and classroom cuts due to reduced education funding that has been forced by a crowding out of state revenues,” Madigan said. “This is not a complete solution to our education funding issues, but it is a fair and equitable way to reverse a decline brought on by the national economic problems and will help address a number of spending pressures that vary among school districts.”

Under Madigan’s proposal, individual income up to $1 million would continue to be taxed at the current personal rate. Any income over $1 million would be charged an additional 3 percent. The additional funding raised for Illinois schools would be distributed on a per pupil basis to every school district. Funding would be based on 2014 income tax liability and distributed to schools in 2015.

“This plan brings long overdue fairness to the state tax structure and provides a needed boost to education funding to help give our children more of the resources they need to succeed,” Madigan said. “Some districts may see a need to use these resources for capital construction, while others will want to offer local property tax relief. Illinois is not a one-size-fits-all state and this increase on millionaires recognizes the need for school districts to set their own priorities when spending state dollars.”

In recent days, the Speaker has briefed legislators on the proposed amendment. He hopes to present his amendment before a committee in the coming days and gain full House and Senate approval in time to place the question on the November general election ballot. Constitutional amendment questions must pass by May 5 in order to be placed on the fall ballot.

Even with the increase, the state tax rate on millionaires would not be out of line with tax rates in surrounding states

I wonder what Americans for Prosperity and Bruce Rauner will think of that idea?

- Posted by Rich Miller   162 Comments      


Quinn campaign releases new Internet video

Thursday, Mar 20, 2014

* Kinda amateurish

* Script…

“Billionaire Bruce Rauner wants you to know that he’s not just part of the 1%…. He’s part of the .01%”

AUDIO CLIP RAUNER “Oh I’m probably .01%”

“You know who else brags about being in the .01%? This guy!”

AUDIO CLIP MR. BURNS - “Excellent!”

“Billionaire Bruce has 9 homes and took in 53 million dollars in 2012 alone. Do you know how long it would take a middle class Illinoisan to make as much as he made last year? 14 lifetimes. What do you do with that much money?”

VIDEO CLIP MR. BURNS & SMITHERS “Money Fight!”

“Do you want someone like Mr. Burns representing you in Springfield?”

- Posted by Rich Miller   54 Comments      


Rhetoric vs. reality

Thursday, Mar 20, 2014

* Illinois Review

In a press conference following yesterday’s Republican unity event, Illinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin made it clear that he didn’t appreciate outside groups funding challengers to House incumbents. Durkin told reporters he was outraged at the money spent on primaries and suggested that independent expenditure groups and their freedom to spend money on elections should be reined in.

* Durkin was obviously referring to Dan Proft, who broke the spending caps in two House districts, defeated incumbent Rep. Sandy Pihos and almost defeated Rep. Ron Sandack. Proft’s response

“It is really quite simple: a Republican Party that rejects accountability is a Republican Party destined to be a super-minority party. A Republican Party that preaches competition but practices political protectionism is a Republican Party destined to be a super-minority party,” Proft said. “A Republican Party that tells talented people to sit and wait to be called upon before they are allowed to seek office or participate in some pre-approved way is destined to be a super-minority party.”

Proft said that by contrast, “a Republican Party that recruits, develops and supports talented people, has mechanisms of discipline to hold them to account for their records both as policy leaders and party builders, and focuses the party’s combined effort on advancing the flag for economic liberty in Illinois can be a super-majority party.”

That response totally ignores the fact that Proft pushed Keith Matune, a guy who’d been arrested three times and never informed his school district about the incidents.

And “mechanisms of discipline to hold them to account for their records”? What about Matune’s arrest record?

The worst thing Proft did though, was that when the truth came out, he didn’t back away. Instead, he doubled down, forcing the House Republicans to spend a fortune to keep the seat. If Proft’s guy had won, the House Democrats would have assuredly jumped in and made the House Republicans spend even more money to defend the seat.

Look, this is a free country. Proft can do whatever he wants. But the Matune race shows his only real priority was defeating a Republican he didn’t like, not winning a Republican seat. It was totally irresponsible to push a supremely flawed candidate so hard.

So, pardon me if I’m not buying what he’s selling.

* And speaking of irresponsible, many thanks to a commenter for linking earlier today to the Chicago Teachers Union’s “Lessons Learned in Primary 2014″

The only way an incumbent like [Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago)] was able to—possibly—squeak by a relatively unknown community leader like Jay Travis was by pandering to predominantly white wards through scare tactics and misinformation about imaginary tax increases.

The CTU backed a person who some claimed was a former cult leader. Mitchell didn’t use that stuff against her. Maybe he should’ve.

And what’s with the racial stuff? What’s next, making Louis Farrakhan an honorary CTU member?

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


Fracking question sparks huge Johnson County turnout

Thursday, Mar 20, 2014

* Johnson County voters in deep southern Illinois were faced with a non-binding referendum this week

Shall the people’s right to local self government be asserted by Johnson County to ban corporate fracking as a violation of their rights to health and safety?

* Some background

More than 1,000 signatures, twice the required number, were collected on the petition, rural Vienna resident Richard Craig said at a news conference held in front of the county clerk’s office in Vienna Thursday.

The petition effort took place after Johnson County commissioners declined to vote on placing the question on the ballot, he said.

“We felt like the people in the county should have a voice in what’s going on around them,” Craig said. […]

At last count, almost 195 leases have been signed in the county.

* Hopes were high

McMichael thinks the ballot initiative has a solid chance of passing, especially given the results of an October poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University which found 20 percent of voters undecided on the issue, with the rest evenly divided.

The poll, which surveyed 403 voters in 18 counties, including Johnson, found native southern Illinoisans were more supportive of fracking than non-natives, and women were more opposed than men.

The poll also found very strong support for the region’s coal industry, meaning that even many people who support fossil fuel extraction in general have reservations about fracking.

“That was much stronger support (for limiting fracking) than a lot of people had anticipated – we feel very good about what’s going on,” McMichael said.

* Southern Illinoisans Against Fracking Our Environment gathered the signatures, and the Pennsylvania-based Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund assisted in the campaign. Proponents freely admitted that the referendum was dividing the county

Phyllis Oliver, a retired schoolteacher who lives in Cypress, Ill., on Monday said the fracking debate in Johnson County is like the never-ending story that keeps getting uglier.

“I never thought Johnson County would get so … People get so angry with each other,” she said. […]

Oliver said she would not be surprised either way the majority votes today, and the argument that has turned neighbors against neighbors “will be interesting.”

“If they vote ‘no,’ we’re not going to go away,” she said.

* And it sure was divisive

The fracking campaign bruised egos and drove a rift in this rural county of about 12,000 people. The Goreville Gazette and The Vienna Times both refused to run advertisements in support of the fracking ban. That lead the editor of the Goreville paper to quit in protest.

* The Pennsylvania group wasn’t the only outside interest involved. Will Reynolds

The oil industry is trying to buy democracy in Johnson county. Residents have the chance in Tuesday’s election to decide they want control over their own future without more division and destruction by outside oil interests.

* Election day turnout was a very high 49 percent - more than double just about everywhere else in Illinois. And the anti-fracking referendum proponents lost big

With all 16 precincts and absentee ballots counted, the countywide referendum failed by a vote of 2,223 against to 1,602 for the measure, or 58 percent to 42 percent, respectively.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Mark Kirk still hasn’t endorsed Oberweis

Thursday, Mar 20, 2014

* Illinois Review

The Illinois GOP’s U.S. Senate nominee Jim Oberweis was conspicuously absent from [yesterday’s] ILGOP Unity Luncheon, which featured U.S. Senator Mark Kirk who once implied that Oberweis is the “top anti-gay bigot in the state.”

Oberweis, who is a state senator, was in Springfield today where the senate was in session. When queried if he had been asked “not” to attend the unity luncheon, Oberweis told Illinois Review “Absolutely not. It was a difficult decision for which I knew I would be criticized no matter what I did.”

Asked if he thought Kirk would endorse him, Oberweis said he has a call into Kirk’s office about it. As late as January 28, Kirk refused to say if he would endorse the Republican nominee

Not attending the lunch is probably not a big deal since he had to be in Springfield for session. But not attending after spending a week in Florida does raise eyebrows. More drama. Then again, if he had attended, he might’ve been bombarded with questions by reporters about his unexpectedly close race.

* The Sen. Mark Kirk thing is another story entirely. That’ll be fun to watch. Bask in the “unity.”

*** UPDATE *** Apparently, Oberweis didn’t get the message…


Big hat tip to a commenter.

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      


Question of the day

Thursday, Mar 20, 2014

* My buddy Rob, the farmer in Madison County, posted this on his Twitter feed not long ago…


If you click the link you’ll see some interesting stuff, including

That push away from skilled trades is now haunting manufacturing. Not only are welders older with few younger apprentices, key sectors like oil and gas, which require extensive pipe welding, is booming. Adding to the shortage in welders is reshoring—or the return of lost manufacturing to the U.S. that may require welding.

The average American welder is 54-years-old, and about 45 percent of the workforce is in their 50s or older, said Monica Parr, corporate director of workforce development at the Miami-based American Welding Society.

The U.S. economy includes more than 388,000 welding jobs. The welding society projects the need for 111,000 new welders in five years as industry needs grow and some workers retire.

Welders make good bucks and we’re not training nearly enough of them to meet demand.

* Rob and I had a long talk about the story and the subject of tech careers. Rob isn’t just a farmer. He’s the president of the Illinois Career and Technical Administrators group and runs Madison County’s CTE system. He’s also a former CTE teacher, and a darned good one.

He eventually asked me if he could start a conversation on the blog, so I told him to send me an e-mail. He did…

Rich,

I would like to take a moment to ask a small favor of you and your readers. As a loyal reader myself, I have come to respect the numerous and varied viewpoints that fill the comment pages of your blog. I would like to ask them some questions pertaining to Career and Technical Education

As we are currently fighting a battle against unemployment, it makes sense to look at what jobs are readily available and what jobs will be looking for workers in the future. A four year college degree, while perfect for some, is not the right fit for everyone. When talking with business leaders, unions, and folks outside of education who are employers, I find some common threads. They all want someone who will show up every day, on time and ready to work. They all want somone who can solve problems, can think on their feet, and can get along well with others. These are all skills learned in CTE classes.

    1) Should we be guiding our children and students into courses that better prepare them for what employers are needing now and in the future?

    2) What is your opinion of CTE (career and technical education-formerly known as vocational education) and its potential impact on preparing students for employment?

    3) Do you and/or your readers have any lasting memories from taking a CTE Course (Agriculture, Business, Family and Consumer Sciences, Health Occupations, and Technology Engineering or Industrial Arts) while in high school?

I have included a graph from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that shows the education requirements for future jobs through 2018. [Click here.]

The above is titled “Percent distribution of job openings due to growth and replacement needs by education or training level, projected 2008-18″

Please thank your readers for me and thank you for your time and consideration.

My high schools had shop class, which was mainly a blow-off class for most of us. Rob is attempting to push the state’s tech educational training into the 21st Century. That means forgetting about making ash trays out of a block of wood.

Rob is at the Statehouse today for “CTE Day.” So, how about we talk about what you think the state ought to do to help foster better tech educational training?

- Posted by Rich Miller   49 Comments      


A common sense bill

Thursday, Mar 20, 2014

* Not having a driver’s license because the coppers have taken it has become a major problem in the post 9/11 world. It’s happened to me and so either I’ve had to either hope that my FOID card was acceptable identification (it’s not in many places) or carry my passport around. Getting a state ID is an option, I suppose, but I don’t have a lot of time for such things. So, this ought to pass…


* From the bill’s synopsis

Amends the Illinois Vehicle Code. Repeals the Section concerning license as bail. Provides that residents of this State and residents of any other state which is a member of the Nonresident Violator Compact of 1977 who are cited by a police officer for violating a traffic law or ordinance shall have the option of (1) being taken without unnecessary delay before a court of jurisdiction or (2) executing a written promise to comply with the terms of the citation by signing at least one copy of a Uniform Traffic Ticket prepared by the police officer. Provides that the Secretary of State shall suspend the driving privileges of a resident who fails to comply with the executed written promise to comply with the original terms of the citation until the Secretary receives notification by the court of jurisdiction that the person has appeared or otherwise executed the written promise to comply with the terms of the original citation. Amends the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963. Removes a provision allowing the Supreme Court to include deposit of a chauffeur’s or operator’s license in the bail schedule for traffic cases. Makes corresponding changes in other portions of the Code.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


Other thoughts on Tuesday’s primary and the upcoming election

Thursday, Mar 20, 2014

* Mark Brown’s column today is about the coming election will go beyond politics and strike a major internal, personal chord

This election is going to be worse because it’s going to get personal, and not just between the candidates.

Before it’s over, regular people are going to see that this race hits them where they live, either directly or by impacting their belief system, much as in a presidential campaign. […]

Mark my words: Long before November rolls around, you are not going to want to talk Illinois gubernatorial politics in a social setting unless you are prepared to deal with some strong opinions.

I predict two competing crusades will emerge, each righteous in its faith in its cause, if not necessarily in its candidate.

In making his Republican primary campaign into an assault on public employee unions and “union bosses,” Rauner has turned this into a life-and-death struggle for organized labor and the working men and women it represents. […]

Likewise, ousting Quinn from power has taken on a crusade-like aura of its own for those who equate the Illinois Democratic Party with public corruption and blame it for the state’s poor business climate. Frustrated that they can’t get a direct vote on the fate of House Speaker Mike Madigan — or another shot at President Barack Obama — they see dumping Quinn as the next best thing.

He’s right that this gubernatorial election could divide Illinoisans like no other we’ve seen.

Go read the whole thing.

* The Tribune, no surprise, does not like Quinn’s rhetoric

No matter how much a class warrior wants voters to focus on somebody’s nine homes, many Illinoisans desperately wish they had one home — one home they could afford to buy, to improve, to keep. Except many of those Illinoisans today cannot securely own a home of their own. They lost their jobs, if they ever had decent jobs. They see employers avoiding Illinois. They send endless streams of employment applications into the aloof online void but don’t hear anyone answer, “Congrats, you’re hired.”

Instead they hear a governor who wants to raise the minimum wage here to $10. That would be the nation’s highest state minimum wage, eclipsing Washington ($9.32) and Oregon ($9.10), according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Let’s see: Would that attract more employers to Illinois? Or would that mean even fewer starter jobs in Illinois as employers grow their hiring in any of 49 less expensive states?

* Meanwhile, here’s today’s AP story

The Democratic Governors Association and organized labor also say a Quinn victory will be a top priority, as unions try to avoid the kinds of blows they’ve felt under GOP governors in places like Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana. Organized labor spent millions on ads during the primary that attacked Rauner, who has called Walker and former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels his role models.

“The last thing Illinois needs is a governor who looks out for the wealthiest among us while turning his back on the middle-class, and we plan to hold Rauner accountable every step of the way,” said Michael Murray, spokesman for the union coalition.

That group Murray works for never actually did a positive ad for Quinn. It focused solely on negative ads against Rauner. And it’s not clear what the group will do from now on.

* Also, this

Public sector unions won’t necessarily give their full support and endorsement to Governor Pat Quinn in the general election… but they will definitely mobilize to oppose Republican nominee Bruce Rauner.

The deputy director of the largest state employees’ union, AFSCME Council 31, says Rauner poses a threat to organized labor, retirees, and working class people around Illinois.

But Roberta Lynch says that’s no guarantee that the union will provide financial help or manpower to Quinn’s re-election effort.

It could be a while before Quinn and the public employee unions are on the same page. Still, if they’re spending money bashing Rauner, that’s money Quinn doesn’t need to spend.

* And then there’s this

Unofficial election night results from Christian County showed that Hardiman got 956 votes to 818 for Quinn. In Cass County, Hardiman’s edge over the incumbent was 496 to 455. In Macoupin, it was 2,887 to 2,437, and in Greene, 236 to 231.

In all, as of results midday Wednesday, Hardiman, who spent little money but did complain that Quinn would not debate him, won 30 of the state’s 102 counties.

The governor most definitely has some problems with his Democratic base south of the Chicago metro region. But counties don’t vote. And he got 79 percent in Chicago

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


Matune concedes to Rep. Sandack

Thursday, Mar 20, 2014

* As I told subscribers this morning, Republican challenger Keith Matune conceded defeat to Rep. Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) yesterday. Sandack won by 153 votes. Matune’s concession…

This has been a particularly tough and public race. Both sides were passionate about supporting their candidate and that’s a good thing, because we need people to become reengaged with their government and the democratic process. But this current race has come to an end and I want to congratulate Representative Sandack and his supporters for their dedication. Further, I encourage all of us to come together to ensure that Mr. Sandack holds onto this seat for the Republican Party in November.

* Not everyone is ready to shake hands and call it a day, though. From former GOP Chairman Pat Brady’s Facebook page…

* Illinois Review has Smith’s response

“While Brady’s candidates may have won, the Republican Party lost, as it slid further leftward, and became even more indistinguishable from the Democrats and more irrelevant.”

One of Smith’s anti-Sandack mailers featured two men kissing. Smith’s political organization has not yet registered with the Illinois State Board of Elections. But if it’s advocacy only and not political in nature, it doesn’t have to.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


Rauner announces “Democrats and Independents for Rauner”

Thursday, Mar 20, 2014

* Bruce Rauner’s campaign unveiled a list of “Democrats and Independents for Rauner” today. Thursday was also an unveiling of Rauner’s Democratic wife…


* Most, but not all of the people on Rauner’s list are corporate types. And, as I told you Tuesday night, Rev. James Meeks is on board…

Wendy Abrams – Environmental activist, founder of the international public art exhibition “Cool Globes.”

Anthony Anderson – Retired Vice Chair and Midwest Area Managing Partner of Ernst & Young, serves on the Board of Directors for the Chicago Urban League and the Boards of AAR Corp., Avery Dennison Corporation, Exelon Corporation, and First American Financial Corporation, Chairman of Perspectives Charter Schools and Board Member of World Business Chicago.

Alfonso Barrera– Founder of HispanicPro, an organization for connecting Latino professionals via social media and face-to-face business networking.

Eleni Bousis – Board Chair for the Greek American Rehabilitation and Care Centre, Entrepreneur of Frontida (CARE) Institution supporting and assisting women and families in need and Board Member for Leadership 100 and the Little City Foundation.

Hugo Chaviano – Partner at Sanchez Daniels & Hoffman LLP, one of the nation’s largest certified minority owned law firms, a member of the Chicago Bar Association where previously served as Chair of Judicial Evaluation Appellate Review Committee and Board of Managers, member of the American Bar Association where previously served in its House of Delegates and Commission on Race and Ethnic Justice, member of the Hispanic National Bar Association where previously served as President and member of the Inter American Bar Association where previously served as Secretary General.

Ramon Cepeda - Managing Director of the Investor Real Estate Group within Wealth Management at The Northern Trust Company and a Board Trustee at the Illinois Facilities Fund and the National Museum of Mexican Art.

Wheeler Coleman – Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, health insurance industry, formerly Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at health care service corporation, member of the Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees and MBA graduate of Notre Dame.

James Crown - President of Henry Crown and Company, and serves on the Board of Directors of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and General Dynamics and sits on the Board of Trustees at the University of Chicago.

Rev. Ruben Cruz – Pastor at First Spanish Christian Church of Chicago.

Lula Ford – Former Chicago public school teacher, principal and administrator, public school reform activist, and the first African American appointed to the Illinois Commerce Commission in its 95-year history.

Laurence Geller – Chairman of Geller Investment Co., founder and former CEO of Strategic Hotels and Resorts.

Sue Gin - Founder and CEO of Chicago-based Flying Food Group LLC, serves on the boards of Exelon and Servair, as well as board memberships at DePaul University, The Field Museum, Chicago Botanic Gardens and Rush University Medical Center.

Robert King – Former Executive Director of the Booker Washington Community Center in Rockford and current Associate/Recruiter at World Financial Group.

Dag Kittlaus – Co-founder and former Chief Executive Officer of Siri, Inc. and ran Siri and Speech Recognition at Apple Inc., formerly served as an Entrepreneur in Residence at the Stanford Research Institute and General Manager at Motorola.

Phyllis Lockett - Founding President and CEO of New Schools for Chicago, former Executive Director of the Civic Consulting Alliance, and previously held marketing, sales and business development roles with IBM, Kraft Foods and General Mills.

Rev. James Meeks - Founder and Senior Pastor of Salem Baptist Church of Chicago and former Illinois State Senator.

Myles Mendoza– Executive Director of Ed Choice Illinois, a newly formed bipartisan advocacy organization, formerly a Senior Partner with Democrats for Education Reform and leader in the “Done Waiting” coalition, which with 200 groups, represents the largest collective effort of education reformers in national history.

Lee Miller – Global Co-Chairman of DLA Piper, member of DLA Piper’s Executive Committee as well as a member of the Legal Service Corporation Board of Directors’ Pro Bono Task Force.

Newton Minow – Senior Counsel at Sidley Austin LLP and Partner with the firm from 1965-1991, U.S. Army Sergeant in the China-Burma India Theater in World War II, Law Clerk to the Honorable Fred M. Vinson, Chief Justice of the United States, Assistant Counsel to Governor Adlai E. Stevenson and Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission under President John F. Kennedy.

Timothy Ray – Partner in a large law firm in Chicago, former member of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority and a member of the Board of Directors at the University of Iowa.

Manny Sanchez - Founding Partner of Sanchez Daniels & Hoffman LLP, one of the nation’s largest certified minority-owned law firms, led numerous federal, state and local Democratic races, served as a member of the Democratic National Finance Committee, and sits on numerous Boards including The Executives Club of Chicago, The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Northstar Lottery Advisory Board and GEMS World Academy Chicago Advisory Board.

Donna Simpson Leak – Former school superintendent and national education consultant.

Glen Tullman – Entrepreneur, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at 7wire Ventures, an investment firm focused on healthcare, education, and energy, and former CEO of Allscripts, the leading global provider of Electronic Health Records.

* Meanwhile, Rauner also released a Spanish language TV ad

…Adding… The text on the screen is pretty much the same as the voice-over. Here’s a rough translation of the text from a friend…

5 years of Pat Quinn. 90,000 jobs lost. Massive tax increases. Thousands of children in schools that fail. The worst pension debt.

Illinois can do better. Bruce Rauner is not a politician. He’s a community leader. Bruce Rauner gets results

4 Goals of Bruce Rauner: More Jobs, less Spending, better schools and term limits

Shake up Springfield, bring back Illinois

- Posted by Rich Miller   116 Comments      


Illinois Supreme Court strikes down state “eavesdropping” law

Thursday, Mar 20, 2014

* Tribune

The Illinois Supreme Court this morning struck down the state’s eavesdropping law, one of the strictest in the nation that made audio recording of any person, even in public, illegal unless that person gave their consent.

The high court’s ruling comes two years after a federal appeals court in Chicago found unconstitutional the law’s ban on recording police officers in public. The court prohibited enforcement of that part of the law shortly before Chicago hosted the NATO summit.

During arguments before the state Supreme Court in January, Justice Robert Thomas referred to the “overbreadth of the statute” and said it seemed to make it a crime to record a “shouting match at a baseball game” and post it on YouTube.

* Via the American Civil LIberties Union of Illinois, here’s a press release sent out by Ms. Melongo’s lawyers….

In a ruling that protects citizen’s ability to gather and disseminate information about governmental activity, the Illinois Supreme Court held today that the state’s Eavesdropping Statute is unconstitutional. In two unanimous decisions, People v. Melongo and People v. Clark, the Supreme Court held that the controversial statute violated the free speech and due process protections of the U.S. and Illinois Constitutions.

The Illinois Eavesdropping Statute was enacted to protect private conversations from being recorded without consent. But the Supreme Court held that the statute, as written, was far too broad, making criminals out of people who recorded conversations that were undeniably public, or that nobody intended to be private. For example, the statute made it a felony for someone to record on his iPhone a shouting match between two passionate fans in the stands at a baseball game, or to record police officers interacting with protesters in a public plaza in front of City Hall and posting the exchange on YouTube.

The Supreme Court also held that the statute infringed on the free speech rights of citizens by making it a crime to audio record conversations with public officials, who have no privacy interest in the statements they make while interacting with the public, including recording police officers making public arrests. In fact, as it turns out, the only prosecutions ever brought under the statute charged citizens with felonies for recording and reporting on conversations with police officers or public officials performing their official duties, in violation of their First Amendment rights.

The case against Annabel Melongo was one such example. Ms. Melongo was charged in Cook County in 2009 with six counts of felony eavesdropping. Her crime was recording telephone conversations she had with a representative of the Circuit Court of Cook County, who was explaining to her the official procedure for correcting an inaccurate court transcript, and then posting those conversations on a blog aimed at exposing public corruption. Ms. Melongo served almost two years in jail before a Circuit Court judge concluded that it was unconstitutional to charge her with eavesdropping.

The State’s Attorney appealed the trial court’s decision directly to the Illinois Supreme Court, arguing that the broad statute was properly applied to her conduct. The Supreme Court disagreed, writing that the Eavesdropping Statute “burdens substantially more speech than is necessary to serve a legitimate interest in protecting conversational privacy” and is thus “unconstitutional on its face.”

The Court went on: “The statute criminalizes the recording of conversations that cannot be deemed private: a loud argument on the street, a political debate on a college quad, yelling fans at an athletic event, or any conversation loud enough that the speakers should expect to be heard by others. None of these examples implicate privacy interests, yet the statute makes it a felony to record each one. Judged in terms of the legislative purpose of protecting conversational privacy, the statute’s scope is simply too broad.” [Emphasis added.]

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, overall, we have a very good Supreme Court in this state. The statute in question is ridiculously unconstitutional. And the fact that Ms. Melongo served almost two years behind bars because of an over-zealous Cook County State’s Attorney is totally unconscionable. And State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s appeal defied all standards of decency and common sense.

The decisions are here and here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      


Democrats vs. the unions

Thursday, Mar 20, 2014

* Scott Cisek, the executive director of the Cook County Democratic Party, was none too pleased with the Chicago Teachers Union this week

The CTU was, of course, involved in the race to defeat several party-slated candidates, including Rep. Toni Berrios, the daughter of the county party chairman.

* Jerry Morrison handles campaigns for SEIU, which also worked to defeat Rep. Berrios. Morrison fired back

* Cisek’s retort

Obviously, this split is gonna take a while to heal, particularly if Berrios remains chairman.

But I’d have to agree with Morrison that publicly criticizing a major and influential union after the election is over is probably not the best way to go here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   59 Comments      


*** LIVE SESSION COVERAGE ***

Thursday, Mar 20, 2014

* Minimum wage hike in committee and more

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      


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* *** UPDATED x1 - Rauner response *** Unions file suit over Rauner executive order
* Could Schneider face a primary foe?
* *** UPDATED x1 - Manar responds *** Madigan creates school funding task force
* Today's number: $1.8 billion
* Question of the day
* Editorial: "Don't fall for Exelon bailout"
* IDOT hiring monitor issues first report
* The Key to Lowering Workers’ Compensation Costs is Insurance Transparency and Oversight
* Under the bus he goes
* Learning the wrong lessons
* Rauner blasts "outrageous" lack of action
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        * Tim Anderson's Cactus League debut reflects reports
        * Crain progressing toward live batting practice
        * Danks' experience shaping his approach on mound
        * Abreu, Alexei add to spring hit total in Sox loss to LA
        * Pierzynski's quick thinking sent '05 White Sox on their way
        * Anderson focused in return opportunity with White Sox
        * Visitation, services for Minoso on Friday, Saturday

        ...............


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        * Lindenwood student accused of sexual assault
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        * Fans, relatives to pay respects to White Sox star Minoso
        * Belleville woman, 68, dies following house fire
        * Train carrying Bakken crude derails, burns in Illinois
        * Remains of 2 babies put in ceiling at Indiana funeral home
        * Unions sue to block Gov. Rauner's order on dues collection
        * BNSF freight train derails near Galena
        * Woman admits role in arson that killed 15-year-old son
        * Anti-violence group lose funds as Illinois freezes spending

        * Senate Democrats criticize salaries in governor's office
        * House forms education funding task force
        * Unions sue to block Rauner's order on dues collection
        * Lawmakers propose increasing state's earned income tax credit
        * Local men plead guilty to stealing millions from Illinois EPA
        * Report: State budget cuts would harm children in poverty
        * Court monitor says IDOT should clean house on hiring rules
        * Senate President Cullerton: We're not stalling
        * Judge grants delay of medical marijuana permit in Kankakee

        * Bored by golf and cancer cured, AbbVie CEO Gonzalez came back to work
        * Why Ken Griffin hated one of his first jobs
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        * Whistleblower alleges conspiracy at Peoples; ICC to vote on probe
        * Unions sue to block Rauner's order on dues collection


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          * Woman says ex-boyfriend disguised himself before sexually assaulting her
          * Girl meets Austrian stem cell donor who helped her beat cancer
          * Train carrying crude oil derails close to Mississippi River near Galena
          * Funeral home could face suspension after babies' remains discovered
          * Another smash and grab at Oakbrook Center
          * Iowa man forced third teen into prostitution, authorities say
          * Protest on Mag Mile briefly blocks traffic near Water Tower Place
          * Traffic snarled after crash in Long Grove
          * The horror of a triple slaying plays out in criminal court


          * Listen to State Week - February 27, 2015
          * Unions Take Rauner To Court
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          * Parents, Day Care Providers Worry About Child Care Funding
          * Full Audio: Poetry Out Loud - Central IL Regional Contest 2015
          * Let's Talk Kids - "A Shot in the Arm"
          * Lincoln Carriage Headed To DC
          * "Don't Get Used To This" Breezy Budget Hearing
          * Lawmaker Suggests Eliminating Tuition Waivers For University Employees' Children
          * Sexting Laws Could Be Added to School Handbooks


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          * David E. Miller: New hepatitis C treatments save lives, reduce expensive complications
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          * Quote of the Day: Thursday, March 5, 2015
          * House forms education funding task force
          * Unions sue to block Rauner's order on dues collection
          * Lawmakers propose increasing state's earned income tax credit
          * Local men plead guilty to stealing millions from Illinois EPA


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          * One more chilly day, then we’re in for a warmup
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          * Coroner's office performed well
          * Fairy tale of pain, without any gain
          * VG schools do protect rights
          * Area history, March 6, 2015
          * Religion calendar, March 6, 2015
          * This day in history: March 6, 2015


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          * Accident closes Route 83 in Long Grove
          * Miles O'Brien's life lesson cost him his left arm
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          * Statewide Financial Aid Workshops Help Improve Illinois FAFSA® Completion Rates - Illinois Student Assistance Commission Encourages Students to Continue to Complete Their FAFSAs
          * White-Nose Syndrome Found in Four Additional Illinois Counties - Disease That Has Killed Millions of Bats in North America Confirmed For First Time in Union, Saline, Johnson and Jackson Counties
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