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Rauner announces new appointments

Friday, Jan 23, 2015

* It looks like Rocco Claps’ numerous friends on both sides of the aisle worked out for him. From a press release…

- Governor Bruce Rauner announced today he has made a number of cabinet secretary and agency board appointments. Today’s appointments include the Illinois Department of Labor, the Illinois Department of Human Rights, the Illinois State Police, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and the Illinois Department of Central Management Services. Governor Rauner also announced he hired the administration’s Public Safety Director.

Name: Hugo Chaviano
Position: Director – Illinois Department of Labor

Governor Bruce Rauner has selected Hugo Chaviano, 62, to be the Director of the Illinois Department of Labor. Chaviano brings more than 35 years of legal experience to the job, including work as a mediator and arbitrator.

Chaviano is currently a senior partner for Sanchez Daniels & Hoffman, LLP, where he works on litigation cases in a number of areas including employment, contracts, transportation and torts. These cases have appeared before state and federal courts, regulatory agencies, and in arbitration and mediation. Chaviano has worked for a number of law firms throughout the Chicago area, including managing his own law firm that was acquired in 1997.

Throughout his professional career, Chaviano has become a leader among Hispanic lawyers within the United States and across Latin America. He has received a number of accolades for his work advocating diversity. Chaviano immigrated to the United States from Cuba when he was just 13 years old. He is bilingual in Spanish.

Chaviano graduated from Rutgers University with a bachelor’s degree in history, and he earned his law degree from Northwestern University.

• Sanchez Daniels & Hoffman, LLP, Partner (2003-Present)
• Adorno Yoss Sanchez & Daniels, Partner in Charge (2004-2008)
• Cozen O’Connor, Senior Member & Partner – Latin America Practice Group (2000-2002)
• Blatt, Hammesfahr & Eaton, Capital Partner & Chair – Latin America Practice Group (1996-2000)
• Chaviano & Associates, Ltd, Principal (1990-1996)
• Broderick & Chaviano, House Counsel St. Paul Insurance Companies (1985-1990)
• Pretzel & Stouffer, Associate (1984-1985)
• Shand Morahan & Co. (1979-1984)
o Corporate Counsel (1981-1984)
o Claims Counsel (1979-1981)

• Northwestern University, J.D. (1978)
• Rutgers University, B.A. History (1975)

Personal Information:
• Age: 62
• Hometown: North Barrington

Name: Rocco Claps
Position: Director – Illinois Department of Human Rights

Governor Bruce Rauner announced today he will reappoint Rocco Claps, 53, as the Director of the Illinois Department of Human Rights. Claps has overseen the IDHR for the past 12 years and is currently the longest-serving director in the agency’s history. Claps is also the first openly-gay agency director in the history of Illinois.

As the Director of the IDHR, Claps worked with the legislature to expand the Illinois Human Rights Act and the scope of human and civil rights laws in Illinois, which includes Illinois’ first statewide law to protect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. He also created a bilingual services department within the IDHR to more effectively communicate with all communities in Illinois. Claps currently oversees nearly 150 employees with a budget of more than $14 million.

Prior to his work at the IDHR, Claps was a Deputy Assessor in the Cook County Assessor’s Office. He also worked on two Democratic National Conventions, and in the Office of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Claps earned his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Illinois State University.

• Illinois Department of Human Rights, Director (2003-Present)
• Office of the Cook County Assessor, Deputy Assessor (1999-2003)
• 2000 Democratic National Convention, Director of Planning (1997-1999)
• Office of the Secretary - U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Director of Scheduling & Advance (1997)
• 1996 Democratic National Convention, Chief of Staff (1995-1996)

Awards & Honors:
• The Civic Federation/Motorola Solutions Foundation Award – Excellence in Public Service
• International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies – Individual Achievement Award
• Chicago Gay & Lesbian Hall of Fame Inductee
• Illinois State University, B.S. Mass Communications (1983)

Personal Information:
• Age: 53
• Hometown: Villa Park

Name: Leo Schmitz
Position: Director – Illinois State Police

Governor Bruce Rauner has selected Deputy Chief Leo Schmitz of the Chicago Police Department to become the Director of the Illinois State Police. Schmitz, 55, has a proven record of building community trust, while reducing crime rates as a leader in the department.

Schmitz has spent his nearly 30-year career with the Chicago Police Department, starting as a patrolman and rising to the rank of Deputy Chief. He currently oversees the Englewood district, where his policies reduced the murder rate by 44 percent, shootings fell by 14 percent and all other crimes dropped as well.

Prior to his work as Deputy Chief, Schmitz was the Commander of the Gang Enforcement Unit. He oversaw the centralization of 400 police officers from 25 different districts into one gang unit, which became the largest gang unit in the United States addressing gang violence.

Schmitz has been recognized at the city, county and state level for his excellence in police work. Notably, he’s received the Illinois Law Enforcement Medal of Honor; the Superintendent’s Award of Valor and Blue Star Award; the Illinois Police Association Medal of Valor; and the Cook County Sheriff’s Medal of Valor.

• Chicago Police Department (1986-Present)
o Deputy Chief, 007th District – Englewood (2012-Present)
o Commander, Gang Enforcement Unit (2009-2012)
o Commander, Gang Investigations Section (2008-2009)
o Commander, 008th District – Chicago Lawn (2007-2008)
o Lieutenant (2004-2005)
o Sergeant (1998-2004)
o Detective Division Sergeant (1999-2004)
o Patrolman (1986-1999)

• Illinois Law Enforcement Medal of Honor
• Superintendent’s Award of Valor
• Superintendent’s Blue Star Award
• The Hundred Club Medal of Valor
• Illinois Police Association Medal of Valor
• Cook County Sheriff’s Medal of Valor
• The William Powers Leadership Award
• Cook County Sheriff’s Medal of Merit
• Illinois State Crime Commission Police Officer of the Year
• Fraternal Order of Police Distinguished Service Award

• Southern Illinois University, B.S. Administrative Sciences (1982)

Personal Information:
• Age: 55
• Hometown: Chicago

Name: Bryan Schneider
Position: Secretary – Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation

Governor Bruce Rauner has selected Bryan Schneider, 47, as the next Secretary for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. He brings a deep understanding of law and corporate business practices to the position.

For the past 15 years, Schneider has worked as an attorney for Deerfield-based Walgreens. Currently, he is the Divisional Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, where he worked on a number of programs and initiatives. For example, he offered regulatory and transactional support for the nation’s largest flu immunization program.

Schneider is familiar with leadership roles in Illinois; he is currently a member of the State Board of Elections, a position he’s held since 2004. He also served one term as the board’s Chairman, and another as Vice Chairman.

Schneider began his career in the General Assembly, where he worked as General Counsel for Rep. Lee Daniels while he was House Speaker and the Republican Leader in the House.

In addition to his law degree from the University of Wisconsin, Schneider is a certified public accountant. He earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Trine University in Angola, Ind. He also holds an MBA from DePaul University in Chicago.

● Walgreen Co.
o Divisional Vice President & Assistant General Counsel (2010-Present)
o Director, Health Care Contracting & Regulatory Law (2009-2010)
o Directory, Health Care Regulatory Law (2008-2009)
o Director, Government Relations, Walgreens Health Services (2005-2008)
o Senior Attorney (2000-2005)
● Harris Kessler & Goldstein (1997-2000)
● Office of the Illinois House Republican Leader (1997-2000)
● Office of the Speaker, Illinois House of Representative (1995-1997)
● Sidley Austin LLP (1993-1997)
● U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit, Law Clerk - Hon. Richard D. Cudahy (1992-1993)

Leadership positions:
● Illinois Board of Elections (2004-Present)
o Board Chairman (2009-2011)
o Vice Chairman (2007-2009)
● LEARN Charter Schools, Board of Directors (2003-Present)

● University of Wisconsin Law School, J.D. (1992)
● DePaul University, MBA (2001)
● Trine University, B.S. Accounting (1989)

Personal Information:
● Age: 47
● Hometown: Chicago

Name: Tom Tyrrell
Position: Director – Illinois Department of Central Management Services

Governor Bruce Rauner has selected Tom Tyrrell, 61, to become the Director of the Department of Central Management Services. Tyrrell has nearly 40 years of combined experience in the military, public and private sectors.

Currently, Tyrrell is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Chicago Public Schools (CPS). As the COO, Tyrrell oversees the day-to-day operations of the nation’s third largest school district, which educates 400,000 students; employs 42,000 teachers and support staff; and operates with a budget of more than $5 billion.

Prior to his work with CPS, he was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Steele Partners, which is a strategic advisory and management firm. It connects innovating businesses with projects to improve the country’s well-being.

Tyrrell also spent three years as the Executive Director and CEO of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. He oversaw the transformation of the well-respected, but underutilized museum, into a state-of-the art educational facility. Under his management, the museum saw an 80 percent annual revenue increase within three years.

Tyrrell is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, having served our country for 26 years, retiring as a Colonel. As the Commanding Officer for the First Marine Corps District, he oversaw recruitment in 14 states and managed 1,100 service personnel, which operated with an annual budget of $14 million. He also served as the Director of Strategic Planning & Coordination for the United Nations Interim Mission in Kosovo. Prior to that, he was the Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Tyrrell is a graduate of Texas A&M University-Kingsville, earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He also earned post-graduate degrees from the National Defense University - Industrial College of the Armed Forces and the Naval Postgraduate School.

• Chicago Public Schools, Chief Operating Officer (2012-Present)
• Steele Partners, Chief Executive Officer (2009-2011)
• Cantor Fitzgerald, LLP/BGC, Senior Managing Director (2006-2008)
• Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Executive Director & CEO (2002-2005)
• U.S. Marine Corps
o First Marine Corps District, Commanding Officer (2001-2002)
o UN Interim Mission in Kosovo, Director of Strategic Planning & Coordination (2000-2001)
o Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1998-2000)

Recognitions & Honors:
• Defense Superior Service Medal
• Legion of Merit Medal
• Veterans Advantage Person of the Year
• Ellis Island Medal of Honor
• National Police Foundation Person of the Year

• National Defense University – Industrial College of the Armed Forces, M.S. Strategic Resource Management (1998)
• Naval Postgraduate School, M.S. Management - Acquisition & Contracts (1992)
• Texas A&M University – Kingsville, B.A. Business Administration (1976)

Personal Information:
• Age: 61
• Hometown: Chicago

Name: Rodger Heaton
Position: Public Safety Director

Governor Bruce Rauner has hired Rodger Heaton, 55, as his administration’s Public Safety Director. Heaton has 30 years of legal experience, including spending more than four years as the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois. His experience also spans years in private practice, as well.

As the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois, Heaton was the chief federal law enforcement official for 46 counties from 2005-2009. Under his tenure, productivity in his division rose to record levels, which resulted in the filing of federal charges in approximately 1,300 cases. Heaton was appointed to the position by President George W. Bush.

Heaton understands the other side of the legal system as well, because of his work as a defense attorney. Most recently, he was a partner at Hinshaw & Culbertson. He also spent two years as a partner at Kirkland & Ellis.

Until joining the administration, Heaton was an Administrative Law Judge with the U.S. Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. He presided over federal administrative hearings of disability claims under the Social Security Act.

Heaton earned his law degree from Indiana University and holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

• U.S. Office of Disability Adjudication & Review, Administrative Law Judge (2014-Present)
• Hinshaw & Culbertson, Partner (2009-2014)
• United States Attorney - Central District of Illinois (2005-2009)
• Supervisory Assistant United States Attorney - Central District of Illinois (2003-2005)
• Kirkland & Ellis, Partner (2001-2003)
• Supervisory Assistant United States Attorney - Central District of Illinois (1990-2000)
o Appellate Section Chief (1990-2000)
o Springfield Branch Chief (2000)
o Computer Crime Specialist (1995-2000)
• Assistant U.S. Attorney - Southern District of Indiana (1989-1990)
• Sullivan & Cromwell, Associate (1987-1989)
• U.S. District Court, Southern District, Law Clerk – Hon. Sarah Evans Barker (1987-1987)

• Indiana University, J.D. (1985)
• University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, B.S. Agricultural Economics (1981)

Personal Life
• Age: 55
• Hometown: Rochester

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Reader comments closed for the weekend

Friday, Jan 23, 2015

* Reina del Cid will play us out

Well, I’ve never been so sure
And I’ve never led no one astray.
‘Cept in the fall of ‘94.
But Hallelujah, the 21st of May.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Unemployment rate falls again, IDES not impressed

Friday, Jan 23, 2015

* After years of putting the best possible spin on the state’s unemployment rate, there’s a new governor and a new IDES director, so the spin has been abandoned for now. From IDES…

– The Illinois unemployment rate decreased 0.2 percentage points to 6.2 percent in December. Nonfarm payroll employment gained +17,100 jobs, according to preliminary data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

December job growth was led by Construction (+6,000); Educational and Health Services (+4,700); and Leisure and Hospitality (+4,500); gains were partly offset by declines in Government Services (-1,200) and Financial Activities (-900).

“The 0.9 percent gain in December over the year was significantly less than the national increase of 2.1 percent,” said IDES Director Jeff Mays, “indicating that Illinois employment growth remains lower than the national average.”

Over the year, nonfarm payroll employment increased by +51,600 jobs with the largest gains in Professional and Business Services (+25,700); Construction (+20,200); and Educational and Health Services (+12,700). Four sectors posted declines in December over the prior year: Trade, Transportation and Utilities (-8,700); Information Services (-2,400), Financial Activities (-1,400) and Government (-1,200).

Give it six months to a year and the old spin will likely return.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      

“The Governor’s Axe”

Friday, Jan 23, 2015

* From a mostly glowing profile of Donna Arduin, Gov. Rauner’s new CFO, we can discern some of the budget cuts that are coming

Arduin received plenty of criticism from both sides of the aisle over cuts she made to Florida’s budget, but after making a splash in the Sunshine State, she faced a ready corps of critics in California. More visibility brought more acute criticism of her controversial policies, scrutiny was unrelenting, and Arduin was routinely blasted. Her $900 million cuts in Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program, and $800 million in programs intended to bring welfare recipients into the workforce stirred up a veritable infantry of opponents, to whom she responds succinctly: “The state was spending $15 billion more than it was taking in.”

Physicians spoke out about cuts to California health programs that Arduin oversaw, including a limit on the number of children allowed into the Healthy Families Program, and slashes in the state’s contribution to Medi-Cal. “It’s unconscionable to take the economic savings that we know the state has got to do and put that burden literally on the life of a young child,” Alan Lewis, a physician at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times. “This is looking a child in the eye and saying, ‘No, you’re going to have to wait to be treated.’ “

But Arduin says she merely “proposed eliminating the entitlement nature of a lot of those programs. When Arnold went into the budget, it was all about spending programs on autopilot.” Spending levels on many of those programs had been statutorily mandated, she says, but funding hadn’t, so “if you just sat back and let the programs run, there would never be enough revenue. The legislature was almost not even needed in California.” […]

“When I cut $400 million in pay raises for California correctional officers, we considered getting me a bodyguard,” she recalls. And although she doesn’t seem concerned with how many friends she has, even senators who’ve lost their pet projects to Arduin’s unwavering fiscal conservatism eventually come to respect her. Arduin says she’s known ever since she took the meat cleaver to her first state budget that, in this job, you have to dig in for the long haul. Back in 1991, after Arduin and Patti Woodworth carved $5 billion in programs out of the Michigan state budget, Governor John Engler’s approval rating fell to 13 percent. Arduin didn’t blink. They cut taxes, businesses crept back into Michigan, and, come election time, Engler breezed right into his second term.


- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - Former aide says report coming *** Quinn shirked final constitutional duty

Friday, Jan 23, 2015

*** UPDATE *** A former aide to Gov. Quinn just called to say that while Quinn didn’t finish his end of term report, they’re still working on it and it’ll be forthcoming.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* From the Illinois Constitution

The Governor, at the beginning of each annual session of the General Assembly and at the close of his term of office, shall report to the General Assembly on the condition of the State and recommend such measures as he deems desirable. [Emphasis added.]

* The AP reports that Pat Quinn didn’t file his report

Former Gov. Pat Quinn worked right up until his successor was sworn into office last week.

Despite the flurry of activity, the Democrat failed to fulfill a constitutional requirement: a final state-of-the-state message to the Illinois General Assembly.

That makes Quinn the third governor in a row not to do so, although Rod Blagojevich was somewhat preoccupied.


Quinn did not respond to requests for comment this week. But he told The Associated Press before leaving office that he would produce one.

Considering that Quinn’s hires, contracts and executive orders are all either canceled or under review, he might’ve had more long-term impact by submitting that final message.

* And speaking of canceled contracts, there’s an issue at IDOT

The Rauner administration hasn’t decided whether to proceed with a Jan. 30 deadline for companies to submit bids for the first phase of this year’s road construction season.

“That is under review at this time,” Trover said, “and a decision will be made in the near future.”

Next week’s IDOT bid letting is expected to be fairly big, estimated to be worth more than $200 million for Chicago-area projects alone, according to Michael Sturino, president and CEO of the Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association, an industry group.

The freeze definitely puts planning of major new interstate projects, such as the Illiana Expressway, on hold while the administration decides whether to proceed with it. But other maintenance and improvements are more routine and financed largely by the federal government through taxes on motor fuel.

“It’s good the tollway is back on track,” Sturino said. “We hope to get a quick resolution on the IDOT situation, which remains in limbo. If there’s a long delay, it will have an incredibly serious impact on the motoring public, jobs and ability of construction firms to sustain themselves, especially smaller, minority-owned firms.”

* And

Attorney General Lisa Madigan today blocked a deal struck in the final weeks of the Quinn administration to revamp management of the Illinois Lottery, saying the arrangement is illegal and would needlessly cost taxpayers.

In a stunning letter to Lottery Director Michael Jones, Madigan said she has decided to “formally disapprove” a Dec. 9 termination agreement between the Lottery and the controversial private firm that’s managed it, Northstar Lottery Group.

The Quinn administration said the agreement would resolve longstanding disputes over Northstar’s performance, saving the state $10 million a year. But it was immediately ripped by aides to incoming Gov. Bruce Rauner, who termed it “a bad deal” that leave taxpayers worse off than they were before.

In the letter—I obtained a copy from a source close to the matter and confirmed its authenticity—Madigan, a Democrat, clearly sides with Rauner, a Republican.

The deal “purports to extend indemnification to Northstar in excess of the (Lottery’s) statutory authority and in violation of the Illinois Constitution,” Madigan wrote. It violates provisions of the state public-records act, she adds, and instead of favorably resolving a continuing financial dispute “may result in obligating the state to pay more fees and expenses than the state has paid in prior fiscal years.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      

Question of the day

Friday, Jan 23, 2015

* New Gov. Bruce Rauner is to new AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch as ____ is to ____?

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      

Umm… Huh?

Friday, Jan 23, 2015

* From a press release…

Legislation introduced Friday by state Rep. Jack D. Franks, D-Marengo, would place a referendum regarding limiting the terms of Illinois’ legislative leaders on the ballot of the next general election.

“The results of the recent elections demonstrate clearly that Illinois residents and taxpayers are fed up with the immovable status-quo in this state,” Franks said. “Placing term limits on legislative leaders is an idea that I hear regularly from constituents and they deserve the opportunity to make their voices heard directly and specifically on this issue.”

House Bill 257 creates the Legislative Leader Term Limit Referendum Act, which would ask a non-binding, advisory question of Illinoisans voting in the November 1, 2016 general election. Voters would have the opportunity to weigh in on whether the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, the President of the Illinois Senate and both the House and Senate Minority Leaders should be term limited as leaders of the Illinois General Assembly’s two chambers.

“While our state grapples with numerous policy questions which will have implications that ripple long into the future, I believe this debate should be included,” Franks added. “The structures of government upon which we rely are clearly due for an overhaul and the wisdom of our constituents should be a valuable addition to the discussions.”

Rep. Franks, of course, voted for Speaker Madigan’s reelection last week.

* And remember Will Guzzardi? He thumped Rep. Toni Berrios last year in the Democratic primary with an anti-Springfield message. Here’s something I wrote about him last year

There’s no question that Democrat Will Guzzardi ran a highly effective outsider campaign against state Rep. Toni Berrios (D-Chicago) earlier this year. Guzzardi soundly defeated Rep. Berrios, the daughter of Cook County Democratic Party Chairman Joe Berrios, and along the way told the Chicago Tribune “The monolithic structures of power in Springfield aren’t doing any good for anyone.”

It’s not difficult to discern who he was talking about. The longest serving House Speaker in Illinois history is the very embodiment of a “monolithic structure of power.”

So, there have been some expectations that Guzzardi might not cast his vote for Michael Madigan’s reelection as Speaker next January, he said last week that he hasn’t yet made up his mind.

“That’s something I intend to figure out when the vote comes up,” Guzzardi said.

Well, he figured it out. Guzzardi also voted for Madigan, despite the fact that Madigan’s didn’t do any good for anyone.

Every House Democrat voted for Madigan except Rep. D’Amico, whose mom died last week, which kept him from attending the session.

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      

Unclear on the concept

Friday, Jan 23, 2015

* Umm

Mayoral challenger Willie Wilson demanded Thursday that the FBI and the Illinois attorney general’s office investigate Rahm Emanuel’s campaign and its mass mailing in the hunt for absentee voters.

Wilson initially accused Emanuel’s re-election campaign of mailing actual absentee ballots that instruct voters to return them to Chicago for Rahm Emanuel, P.O. Box 1346, Chicago.

But Election Board spokesman Jim Allen said the mass mailing, like those used extensively by Gov. Bruce Rauner and former Gov. Pat Quinn, actually include absentee ballot applications — not the ballots themselves. […]

“If somebody fills out an absentee ballot, it should be going to the Board of Elections — not to his place and his people. Not to someplace where he can control it. Who would trust him? Voting is supposed to be a sacred thing,” said Wilson, who recently donated $1 million to his own campaign.

I can see why some folks might want to change the law about ballot applications, but there’s nothing illegal with having people mail their applications to the candidates.

* Meanwhile

A couple fights over red-light tickets until they agree to “dump Rahm and stay together,” in a radio ad promoting the mayoral candidacy of Willie Wilson.

In the comical radio spot airing on city stations, a man admits, “I just got a red-light ticket.”

“What!?” says a woman, until she admits, “I got one yesterday. I just didn’t want to tell you.”

“I want a divorce,” says the man.

“I want a new mayor,” responds the woman, and they go back and forth until she suggests, “Let’s just dump Rahm and stay together,” to which the man agrees.

The spot is classic Rickey Hendon…

* This one wasn’t as fun

Even by the standards of a local political scene that’s often as filthy as a port-a-potty at Taste of Chicago, the metaphor used in a new city election campaign ad is pretty crappy.

“It’s time for an enema in the black community!” flamboyant former state Sen. Rickey “Hollywood” Hendon shouts in the spot that’s been airing on black radio over the past few days.

Hendon calls on Chicago’s African-American voters to unseat Mayor Rahm Emanuel as well as many black City Council members in next month’s election.

The ad…

* Related…

* ADDED: New CTU Poll Shows Garcia Losing Ground to Emanuel

* State Rep. McSweeney Moves to Eliminate Red Light Cameras in Illinois

* Victory Auto Wreckers to replace its classic car-door-falling-off commercial

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      

Rauner roundup

Friday, Jan 23, 2015

* INN quoting Gov. Bruce Rauner yesterday..

“Everybody wants to talk about, the politicians want to talk about, well let’s raise the income tax to fix the debt or the problem. Raising taxes, that issue alone, won’t come nowhere near fixing the problem and in fact will make parts of the problem worse and just kick the can down the road. This is the critical lesson that we’re seeing. We’re on an unsustainable path, we need fundamental structural change and raising taxes alone in itself isn’t going to fix the problem and in a lot of ways its gonna make the problem worse make it worse.”

* Sun-Times

In his remarks to the students, Rauner provided a digital presentation — which he called a preview of his Feb. 4 state of the state address — criticizing everything from the state’s Medicaid spending, state employee salaries, workers’ compensation costs and job creation, while comparing Illinois to neighboring states.

Although not providing specific solutions to the issues, he did indicate cuts to employee salaries and Medicaid.

* AP

He said higher-than-average costs of workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance are driving businesses out of the state, property taxes are “brutally high,” and “shenanigans” in the public employee pension system have made Illinois’ multibillion-dollar pension debt “a time bomb for taxpayers.”

* Crain’s

Specifically, citing data from the Pew Center on the States, he said the average Illinois state employee made a salary of $63,660 in 2012—higher than any state except New Jersey and California—and a good 10 percent or more above levels in other big states such as Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania. That means that, while the number of people in the state payroll has steadily dropped for more than a decade, total payroll cost is up hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

“This is really troubling,” Rauner said, shaking his head.

Rauner cited other data that he said show that the average public sector worker in the state makes almost 22 percent more than those in the private sector, a difference of $11,300 per year.

* Erickson

In a report by University of Illinois labor experts, state and local government workers in Illinois were found to earn 13.5 percent less on average than workers in the private sector with comparable educations. The gap more than doubles for state workers with college degrees.

In other words, said one of the study’s authors, Rauner’s premise doesn’t account for a key factor in what drives labor costs: education.

“It’s a myth,” Robert Bruno said of Rauner’s overpaid-worker assertion.

* Tribune

Rauner said his administration has closely examined agency budgets and contracts and concluded that “government is being run more for the benefit of the people in the government rather than the benefit of the service recipients and the taxpayers.”

“That’s pretty clear,” Rauner said.

What’s less clear is how Rauner plans to change that, as he again offered no specific policy ideas or initiatives. Rather, Rauner said he plans to propose “a number of reforms” in his State of the State speech, which will be followed by his first budget proposal on Feb. 18.

“There’s going to be a lot of give and take after this, (there’ll) be months and months of working, negotiating, structuring, coming up with legislation to get things turned around,” Rauner said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   140 Comments      

Another possible Kirk foe emerges

Friday, Jan 23, 2015

* Lynn Sweet

Rep. Robin Kelly D-Ill. is mulling a U.S. Senate run, making her the fourth member of the Illinois Democratic House delegation looking at a 2016 challenge to Sen. Mark Kirk R-Ill.

“She is doing her due diligence to see if there is a path for her to run,” spokesman Kayce Ataiyero told the Sun-Times Friday morning.

“She believes that given her strong experience in all levels of government, she would be a strong candidate to represent Illinois in the Senate,” Ataiyero said.

The other Illinois House Democrats weighing a run are Rep. Tammy Duckworth, Rep. Bill Foster and Rep. Cheri Bustos.


- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      

*** UPDATED x2 - ACLU responds *** Calm down

Friday, Jan 23, 2015

* A report by the St. Louis Fox TV affiliate has created some controversy

A new Illinois law aimed at stopping cyber-bullying, gives schools access to kids social media accounts. Some say the law goes too far.

Previously Illinois schools could take action against students if online bullying occurred, such as something posted on Twitter or Facebook during the school day.

However, with the new law that Illinois legislators approved, school districts and universities in Illinois can demand a student’s social media password. The new law states if a school has a reasonable cause to believe that a student’s account on a social network contains evidence that a student has violated a schools disciplinary rule of policy. Even if it’s posted after school hours.

This week some school districts sent home letters to notify parents and students about the new rules. ” To get into a social networking site and it could be at a school or at home. That we would be able to get that password and get onto their account,” said Leigh Lewis Triad Community Unity School District Superintendent.

* That piece prompted a story in the Christian Science Monitor entitled: “Big Brother: Can your school require your Facebook password?”

The conversations around data privacy and internet safety just got hotter.

A new Illinois state law can now compel students to hand over their social media login credentials to their school if school and state officials believe it can help prevent hostile online behavior – raising privacy concerns among parents and students alike. […]

On the other hand, as Illinois mom Sara Bozarth told local Fox affiliate KTVI: “It’s one thing for me to take my child’s social media account and open it up, or for the teacher to look or even a child to pull up their social media account, but to have to hand over your password and personal information is not acceptable to me.”

* Some in the right-wing blogosphere have picked it up

Students in Illinois are required to give teachers their social media passwords or face criminal charges under a new state law that is intended to tackle cyberbullying. However, some say this rule violates personal privacy.

* OK, to the bill. Cyber-bullying is defined

“Cyber-bullying” means bullying through the use of technology or any electronic communication, including without limitation any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic system, photoelectronic system, or photooptical system, including without limitation electronic mail, Internet communications, instant messages, or facsimile communications. “Cyber-bullying” includes the creation of a webpage or weblog in which the creator assumes the identity of another person or the knowing impersonation of another person as the author of posted content or messages if the creation or impersonation creates any of the effects enumerated in the definition of bullying in this Section. “Cyber-bullying” also includes the distribution by electronic means of a communication to more than one person or the posting of material on an electronic medium that may be accessed by one or more persons if the distribution or posting creates any of the effects enumerated in the definition of bullying in this Section.

* The legislation expands the scope of the state’s existing anti-bullying statute to include cyber-bullying

No student shall be subjected to bullying… through the transmission of information from a computer that is accessed at a nonschool-related location, activity, function, or program or from the use of technology or an electronic device that is not owned, eased, or used by a school district or school if the bullying causes a substantial disruption to the educational process or orderly operation of a school.

This item applies only in cases in which a school administrator or teacher receives a report that bullying through this means has occurred and does not require a district or school to staff or monitor any nonschool-related activity, function, or program. [Emphasis added]

* The existing statute required that “Each school district and non-public, non-sectarian elementary or secondary school shall create and maintain a policy on bullying, which policy must be filed with the State Board of Education.” The new law adds this…

The policy or implementing procedure shall include a process to investigate whether a reported act of bullying is within the permissible scope of the district’s or school’s jurisdiction and shall require that the district or school provide the victim with information regarding services that are available within the district and community, such as counseling, support services, and other programs.

So, it’s left up to the schools to determine the policy. Triad wants passwords. No other district is identified in any story as asking for passwords. But even if they do copy that policy, it doesn’t mean they can legally get those passwords.

And it most certainly doesn’t mean that state law “requires” parents and students to fork over those passwords.

*** UPDATE 1 *** As a commenter notes below, the above stories cited the wrong state statute. A law which took effect over a year ago allows the password order

An elementary or secondary school must provide notification to the student and his or her parent or guardian that the elementary or secondary school may request or require a student to provide a password or other related account information in order to gain access to the student’s account or profile on a social networking website if the elementary or secondary school has reasonable cause to believe that the student’s account on a social networking website contains evidence that the student has violated a school disciplinary rule or policy.

There are no state penalties listed for parents, however.

*** UPDATE 2 *** From Ed Yohnka at the ACLU of Illinois…

Thank you so much for shining a bright light on the hysteria around the cyber-bullying legislation passed last year. As you note, a report about a single school district demanding the usernames and passwords of students’ social media accounts created a firestorm across the blogosphere, raising fears that the new law permitted a dragnet collection of such data. Obviously this is not true. Indeed, during the course of the discussion on the measure, no one ever suggested that such a mass collection of data from students was permissible. This view has been reaffirmed by the primary sponsor of the measure.

The ACLU of Illinois opposed this measure out of concern that it created an expectation that school administrators now would become investigators not of activity that takes place within the school walls and during school hours, but also investigation of activities that take place outside of school hours, activities that have no connection to school.

We note your update, referencing the previous law that appears to require that a school notify parents and students that school may seek password information in some circumstances. We would note that the law suggests that the passwords would be sought only where there is some evidence (”reasonable cause”) of a disciplinary violation — and does not carry a penalty if the parent refuses.

But the headline here is that, despite some reporting, no law in Illinois permits the broad collection of students’ private passwords.

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      

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* Please, don’t dominate the rap, Jack, if you’ve got nothing new to say

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* Rauner announces new appointments
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