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“Downton Abbey” story was no random thing

Wednesday, Mar 4, 2015

* The Washington Post’s Ben Terris was the guy who broke Aaron Schock’s “Downton Abbey” office decor a few weeks ago.

Chris Cillizza interviewed Terris and he revealed something for what I think is the first time

“Somebody actually called a couple of days before that and said ‘You gotta check out Aaron Schock’s office, it’s totally crazy looking.’”

He said he initially declined to bite on the story, but then decided that Schock was “an interesting guy” and maybe it would be worth the trip.

In any case, this wasn’t a self-motivated story. Somebody tipped him off. I’ve reached out to Terris on Twitter to ask who called him and whether that person was a political operative.

As we’ve seen multiple times, this Schock story has been ginned up and even directed by somebody and/or some entity in or very near politics. The DCCC has their fingerprints on this as well. Finding out who was behind the office decor story might possibly help lead us to who’s really behind this and why.

* Meanwhile

A Peoria County grand jury indicted two men for allegedly trying to rob a house rented by U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock last month.

Derek H. Martin, 24, of 3016 Springfield Road in East Peoria and Adam F. Bennett, 27, 23906 Veterans Road in Morton, both are charged with attempted residential burglary. Martin also faces an additional count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Prosecutors allege police were called to the house by a realty company on Feb. 7 after a representative had found the men there. Officials believe Bennett was the lookout and that Martin’s fingerprints allegedly were found on the windows around the house on Detweiller Drive.

The men were allegedly caught with a handgun and a recent Journal Star article which had discussed how the property, which isn’t owned by the Peoria Republican, often is vacant.

Oof.

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      


Most suburban towns could survive a year of state cuts

Wednesday, Mar 4, 2015

* The Daily Herald took a look at municipal reserves in 90 suburbs

Already in the red by nearly $200,000, [Island Lake] would lose $400,000 more next year if Rauner’s [revenue sharing cuts are] implemented by the legislature.

“In 2014, the village reduced the deficit but still did not eliminate it. The village still remains insolvent,” said Ed McGinty, the village’s treasurer. “Any reductions in revenues will result in more cuts to local people and services.” […]

On average, the 90 suburbs would use up a quarter of the reserves to cover the loss of income tax revenue in the first year, according to the analysis. […]

The Government Finance Officers Association recommends reserves be kept at a minimum of two months of spending, or roughly 17 percent of annual spending. The state does not mandate any levels.

The reserves of the 90 suburbs analyzed averaged 60 percent of annual expenses. Besides Island Lake with its deficit, only West Dundee, Aurora and Hampshire reported reserves below the minimum suggested threshold. Hampshire reported reserves of just 1.1 percent of the village’s annual expenses last year. Four more towns — Antioch, Barrington Hills, Carpentersville and Prospect Heights — could drop below two months of reserves after an initial year of income tax cuts.

The rest were in pretty good shape. Go read the whole thing. Downstate, however, could be a very different story. And towns already in fiscal trouble which also aren’t home rule units would be hit particularly hard.

* Related…

* Rantoul would lose more than $600,000 a year under governor’s proposal: Bennett said the county of Champaign would be hit, too, under Rauner’s proposal — losing $1.5 million. Two other villages in Rauner’s district that are in the Press’ coverage area would lost substantial funds. Gifford’s payment would decline from $92,948 to $46,474 a year, and the village of Thomasboro’s from $107,342 to $53,671 according to Bennett’s figures.

* Ottawa opposes Rauner tax grab

* Thomasboro formally opposes governor’s resolution to cut money to local government: Mayor Brad Morris said if the governor’s proposed budget went through, the village would stand to lose more than $55,000 from the state. Morris did say the money was a luxury for Thomasboro but not for other small communities around Illinois.

* Mayors Call On Rauner To Rethink Plan To Cut Local Government Revenue: On Monday, the Arlington Heights village board approved a resolution opposing the proposed reduction in local governments’ share of income tax revenue. Groups representing mayors and local government officials, like the Will County Government League, also oppose that portion of the budget proposal, and have sent a letter of opposition to the governor. Steve Quigley, executive director of the Will County Government League, said local governments in Will County would stand to lose more than $55 million.

* Skokie mayor: Rauner budget would force tax increase or cut in services

* State superintendent warns of ‘perfect storm’ for districts: State Superintendent Christopher Koch told a House appropriations committee that the numbers of low-income and minority students are growing while budget cuts force districts to cut staff and eliminate various programs.

* Mixed feelings on budget cuts: Although Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed budget includes $300 million in education funding, [Ashton-Franklin Center School District Superintendent John Zick] said AFC would only receive $27,000. Factor in the lost of student enrollment, and the district would only get an estimated $12,000. “$300 million sounds really good, but we would only get a small piece of that pie,” Zick said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


Editorial: “Don’t fall for Exelon bailout”

Wednesday, Mar 4, 2015

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Editorial boards are sounding the alarm about the Exelon bailout bill.

Crain’s Chicago Business: “THIS ‘MARKET SOLUTION’ ONLY BENEFITS EXELON”

You know you’ve got a good thing going when profitability is only a bailout away…

Bailouts for profitable enterprises? That’s not the kind of juice that ratepayers should be shelling out for.

Chicago Sun-Times: “EXELON MUST MAKE CASE FOR BAILOUT”

Not so long ago, Exelon…was extolling the merits of an open market for power as its profits rolled in. Now, with power prices plunging, Exelon has lost enthusiasm for the open markets it championed in the 1990s and wants the Legislature to devise a new formula that will protect its profits, quite likely driving up utility bills for homeowners and businesses.

If Exelon is hard up, they can show us. The company should open its books to show how its nuclear fleet is performing.

What’s good for Exelon doesn’t much matter if it’s bad for the rest of Illinois.

Belleville News Democrat: “DON’T FALL FOR EXELON BAILOUT”

Good old Exelon. The company has come up with legislation to subsidize its nuclear reactors, get electric users throughout the state to pay for it and claim it’s in the interest of clean energy.

State lawmakers need to see this bill for the dirty trick it is and kill it.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


The consequences of cuts

Wednesday, Mar 4, 2015

* Windy City Times

Among the budget cuts handed down in the Feb. 18 budget from Gov. Bruce Rauner was the elimination of funding for programs that stem school bullying. […]

“While I know every penny counts right now, we’re talking about half-a-million dollars that saves a lot of money for the state further down the road,” said [Rep. Kelly Cassidy]. “Besides the human cost, there is a financial cost to bullying as well—it drives up law-enforcement costs, for example. Remember, in Minnesota a school district got sued because of the bullying that took place there.” […]

“This impacts not just LGBT students, but students with disabilities, students of color [or] students who identify as female,” [said Anthony Papini of Illinois Safe Schools Alliance]. “We need to ask ourselves, do we want to be a state that promotes unsafe learning environments for our children? This is going to require a community effort, to reverse. I guarantee you that these cuts are going to result in unsafe schools.” […]

The Alliance is also concerned with Rauner’s appointment of Rev. James Meeks, who has opposed numerous pro-LGBT initiatives, as chair of the Illinois State Board of Education.

“He’s somebody who has preached that LGBT people are not normal,” Papini added. “Of course, it’s an ‘equal-opportunity’ hate. He’s spoken out against Jews and Hispanics as well. Is that the message the governor wants to send to students?”

* Meanwhile, the governor’s proposed $1.5 billion in Medicaid cuts could have a major impact on kids

As Illinois lawmakers consider a $1.5 billion cut in Medicaid spending proposed by Gov. Bruce Rauner, a new report is out that underlines just how widespread Medicaid and other health-related state spending has become in every corner of Illinois, even the most prosperous. […]

Overall, those in state health programs—the vast bulk in Medicaid, but also some ancillary programs such as Kid-Care and a high-risk insurance pool known as CHIP—total 2.8 million, or 1 in 5 Illinoisans overall, the study found. But among children, from infants to age 18, the figure is much higher, hitting 52 percent of those in that age group statewide.

The figure is at least 16 percent—1 kid in 6—in every single Senate district in the state. In most it’s 30 percent or more.

Figures also are high among seniors, many of whom go on Medicaid to pay for care in nursing homes. Despite getting Medicare, 1 senior in 10 in Illinois also gets Medicaid, too.

* The district-by-district study is here. From the narrative

How does this play out in individual districts? Let’s use the example of State Senator Dale Righter whose district includes Mattoon, Illinois. He was quoted in the Chicago Tribune saying that “we can’t afford” the medical programs we have, and he clearly supports Governor Bruce Rauner’s proposal to slash $1.5 billion from Medicaid.

It turns out that Sen. Righter’s constituents need medical care as much as anyone else. One in five or 21 percent of his constituents are in state medical programs. Almost half — 47 percent — of children in his district are covered by state medical programs. How does a legislator seek to reduce medical care that half the children in his district are in need of?

* Other cut stories…

* Gov. Rauner’s proposed budget cuts are not acceptable: The governor’s proposed budget drastically cuts state funding for substance use disorder treatment by more than 20 percent. The presumption that cutting addiction treatment programs will save the state money is profoundly wrong and has no basis in fact. The opposite is true.

* Sen. Morrison hosts group in discussion on Rauner budget

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      


It’s just a bill, but it’s interesting

Wednesday, Mar 4, 2015

* Considering that we have a Republican governor and all but one other statewide constitutional officers are Democrats, Rep. Tryon may be doing the Democratic Party a favor with this bill

In response to the appointment process that followed the death of Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka last year, State Rep. Mike Tryon (R-Crystal Lake) has filed legislation that would outline how a replacement would be chosen. […]

“There was a great deal of confusion surrounding the appointment process for Judy’s successor, and my House Bill 3094 clears up some ambiguities in the current statutes,” said Tryon.

“The bill simply states that in the event of a vacancy in a statewide elected office, the Governor must appoint a successor from the same political party as the individual who previously held the post. Pat Quinn put a Democrat in a seat that had been held by a Republican, and I think that was wrong.”

Your thoughts?

* Other bills…

* Illinois bill would name planned I-74 bridge in Quad Cities for late US Rep. Lane Evans

* Illinois Lawmakers Will Soon Consider Cameras in Nursing Homes

* Illinois Senate bill would update DCFS investigator training for first time in history

* Rep. Flowers: Medical cannabis makes state bank necessity; committee hearings could feature school choice, professional licensing, Link card photo ID and more from INN Radio

* State Sen. Chapin Rose introduces bills to change MAP grant rules

* Barbara Flynn Currie introduces legislation to increase access to campus police information

* Conroy Introduces Legislation Recommending Civics Education Requirements

* Illinois House panel backs painting of toy guns

* State House passes resolution supporting map-making agency move to Illinois

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


Martin’s Story: A Medical Error Changed Everything

Wednesday, Mar 4, 2015

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

My name is Donna Harnett. My eldest son’s life was destroyed the moment it began as a result of a medical error.
Martin’s disabilities were severe. He was a quadriplegic. He didn’t walk and was unable to talk. He wore diapers.

The doctor who delivered Martin was a teaching physician at a prominent hospital in Cook County. My case against him was not the first; there were several others with similarly disastrous outcomes. Despite the other lawsuits, the doctor retained his license to practice and was not listed on the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation website as ever being disciplined.

Let me tell you about this lawsuit lottery winner’s life. Martin had at least one doctor appointment per week. He received physical therapy, not only at home but also at school every week. He was unable to socialize with others. He couldn’t run or play with his brothers. His existence consisted of laying or sitting in a wheelchair, completely helpless.

Martin passed away at the age of 14. I would give it all back if I could just have had my son as he should have been.
The Illinois Trial Lawyers Association fights to ensure all citizens get equal footing in the courtroom. To learn more about Martin, click here.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


SDems upset GOPs by advancing partial FY 15 fix

Wednesday, Mar 4, 2015

* The Senate Democrats explain their latest budget move via press release

State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago 7) presided over a Senate committee that took the first step today toward solving the crisis caused when a program that assists working parents with the high cost of child care ran out of money earlier this year.

“Reliable, affordable child care is absolutely essential for parents who are doing their best to participate in our economy and improve their families’ prospects,” Steans said.

“Our solution to the shortfall involves no borrowing and no new revenues, and it is imperative that we move forward immediately to resolve this short-term crisis, which has already shut down child care centers and left working parents without options.”

The plan, Senate Bill 274, allows the governor to move $579 million in excess money sitting unused in various state funds to fill gaps in essential areas of spending, including the Child Care Assistance Program, which helps low-income parents who are working or attending school afford care for their young children. The $300 million shortfall in CCAP funding threatens to leave 100,000 families without access to affordable child care. The measure will also provide overtime owed to prison guards and services for people with developmental disabilities. Today, the Senate Appropriations I Committee approved the legislation.

“The governor has sought broad budgetary powers, and we have continued engaging in a dialogue with the governor’s office while focusing on giving him the authority needed to keep working parents on the job,” said Steans, who chairs one of the Senate’s two budget committees. “It’s been almost a month since parents who rely on this program came to us with their stories, asking us to support them as they build better lives for their families, and we owe them a solution.”

SB 274 now advances to a vote of the full Senate.

* The measure passed committee without any Republican support. Tribune

Rauner is seeking extraordinary powers to manage the $1.6 billion budget shortfall he inherited that threatens subsidized child care and paychecks for state prison workers. But talks stalled after Rauner unveiled a spending plan for the next budget year that calls for massive cuts, with Democrats who control the legislature saying they want more details about how he’d manage the current budget crisis.

Senate Democrats said Tuesday they’ve run out of patience and began moving a proposal that would take money from funds earmarked for special purposes ranging from road construction to oversight of doctors. The measure sailed through a Senate appropriations committee with nine Democrats voting in favor. […]

Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, accused Senate Democrats of breaking off negotiations with Rauner. Murphy said the proposal falls short of fixing the entire problem and wouldn’t give Rauner the proper authority to spend the money.

“Why are you going off on this tangent right now rather than solving this problem?” Murphy said. “The reason is this is an early test of the governor, and what you are doing today is choosing to play politics with the lives of working mothers and their children.”

* From the governor’s press shop…

This is the exact type of short-term thinking that created this mess and it does not even solve the major crises that will occur at the end of this month. The people of Illinois deserve a comprehensive solution instead of another half-baked idea that will lead to yet another crisis in the immediate future. After weeks of detailed negotiations, including three hours yesterday morning, it is clear that Senate Democrats are more interested in playing politics than solving this problem.

* From House GOP Leader Jim Durkin…

“The unbalanced FY 15 budget needs to be corrected immediately and brought into balance. For over a month, Republicans and the Governor have been ready to move forward with a plan to fund child care, court reporters, payroll at our correctional facilities and also balance the remainder of the deficit. We are ready to clean up the mess Governor Rauner inherited on January 12, 2015.”

* Finke

With Republicans all voting “present,” the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the plan that will allow Gov. Bruce Rauner to use nearly $580 million from dozens of special state accounts. Among them, the bill allows for taking $59 million from the state’s road fund, $37 million from a fund set aside to buy land in congested areas for open space and $63 million from the personal property replacement fund that distributes money to local governments around the state. […]

Murphy contended negotiators were making good progress toward a compromise on giving Rauner emergency budget powers as recently as Monday. Senate Democrats had been demanding Rauner provide greater detail about how he planned to use those powers – such as which programs would get a spending cut – before granting him that authority.

However, Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Park Ridge, said the bill doesn’t derail those negotiations. He also noted that Rauner has indicated a desire to use money from the funds to help fix the current budget. Kotowski said people have “no patience left” waiting for lawmakers to negotiate an agreement with Rauner.

Still, Kotowski acknowledged he had not spoken to anyone in the House about the bill to tap into special state funds. If the Senate approved the bill, it would still have to be approved by the House before it could be sent to Rauner.

* AP

Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan’s spokesman, Steve Brown, said Madigan doesn’t have a position on the Senate’s legislation at this point. But Brown reiterated Madigan’s statements that he believes this year’s budget hole should be patched with a combination of special funds and reductions in spending.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      


Forby asks AG Madigan for formal opinion on right to work zones

Wednesday, Mar 4, 2015

* The attorney general doesn’t usually issue an opinion on a proposal unless she is specifically asked. So, I’ve been wondering when somebody was gonna do this. From a press release

In the ongoing fight to protect working families from overreaching anti-employee initiatives, State Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton) sent a letter to Attorney General Lisa Madigan to inquire about the constitutionality of right-to-work zones.

Across the country, right-to-work laws have crippled unions’ ability to protect workers’ rights. Studies of other states concluded that right-to-work laws drive down wages and benefits and do not improve a state’s business climate or create jobs.

Governor Rauner wants to experiment with their anti-worker policies at the state level.

“Right-to-work zones are the opening shot to roll back the protections we take for granted,” Forby said. “I want to know if the Governor’s proposal is constitutional because it doesn’t seem legal.”

Workers living in right-to-work states earn about $1,500 less per year than workers in states without these laws.

“Our economy is finally getting back on its feet,” Forby said. “Right-to-work zones mean a pay cut to the middle class, which goes against what the people in Illinois voted for last November.”

* Forby has 3 specific questions for AG Madigan. Click the image for the complete letter…

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


*** LIVE *** Session coverage

Wednesday, Mar 4, 2015

* Watch the news as it happens with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comment      


Rate hizzoner’s new humble pie TV ad

Wednesday, Mar 4, 2015

* Press release…

In his first ad of the runoff, Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaks directly to the voters and shares why he fights so hard for Chicago’s future. The Rahm for Chicago campaign begins airing “Chicago’s Future” today.

* Ad

* Script…

“They say your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness. I’m living proof of that. I can rub people the wrong way or talk when I should listen. I own that.

“But I’m driven to make a difference. When politics stood in the way of a full day kindergarten or tougher gun laws, I charged ahead. And when business interests said a $13 minimum wage was too high, I didn’t back down.

“Look, I’m not going to always get it right. But when it comes to fighting for Chicago and Chicago’s future, no one’s going to fight harder.”

Aldertrack reports this morning that the mayor’s campaign purchased $605,000 of network TV ads for next week and $55,000 in cable TV for this week.

- Posted by Rich Miller   108 Comments      


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Wednesday, Mar 4, 2015

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PREVIOUS POSTS »
* "Downton Abbey" story was no random thing
* Most suburban towns could survive a year of state cuts
* Editorial: "Don't fall for Exelon bailout"
* The consequences of cuts
* It's just a bill, but it's interesting
* Martin’s Story: A Medical Error Changed Everything
* SDems upset GOPs by advancing partial FY 15 fix
* Forby asks AG Madigan for formal opinion on right to work zones
* *** LIVE *** Session coverage
* Rate hizzoner's new humble pie TV ad
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Yesterday's blog posts

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          * Want To March In Chicago's St. Patrick's Day Parade?
          * Chicago NAHREP holds leadership installation, reception
          * Morning Minute: REALTORS® optimistic about this year’s spring market
          * House passes "clean"w Homeland Security bill; no restrictions on Obama order


          * IEMA Urges People to Prepare for Severe Weather - Tornadoes, floods and severe storms can happen any time of year
          * IDHS helps more than 5,000 individuals with disabilities find jobs - Program offers necessary tools to earn a living wage and become more independent
          * 24th Anniversary Desert Storm Remembrance Ceremony
          * Illinois Department of Human Rights Announces 2015 Spring Training Schedule
          * Snow and Freezing Rain to Impact Travel in Illinois - IDOT Crews Prepared to Battle Winter Weather this Weekend




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