Newly appointed state Sen. Chuck Weaver said he backs fellow Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on his Turnaround Agenda, as he prepares for his first day of session next week.
Rauner’s agenda has been a sticking point in the budget stalemate, which has lasted more than 100 days. He’s calling for tort reform, changes to the way unions and the state negotiate contracts and a property tax freeze. Weaver, R-Peoria, called the items on the agenda “critical.”
“If Gov. Rauner wasn’t in Springfield, I would have never touched this job,” Weaver said. “I think we all want to do things that impact our community, but you’re not very smart if you try to do it in a way that can’t be effective. If he wasn’t there I don’t believe my job would be effective.”
I say this isn’t a surprise because Sen. Weaver comes from one of the wealthiest families in the Peoria area, so his pro-business bonafides are impeccable. Weaver’s late father built up a very large and thriving business, which included everything from one of the top angus beef operations in the world to a large string of KFC restaurants. The family farm has also hosted at least one US President.
Though he agrees with the governor’s proposed reforms, Weaver thinks Rauner should spread his efforts out over a few years instead of asking for everything at once.
“I’ve never heard the governor say this, but if he could just get one or two of the items on his agenda every year, it’s going to take three to four years to get them, and we’re going to see big change in our state over the next five to six years as a result of that,” he said.
Seems practical to me.
The Senator should probably expect a snarky phone call from Richard Goldberg in three… two…
U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) will have a primary challenger.
Oswego businessman James Marter is entering the race, claiming Kirk’s stances against defunding Planned Parenthood and for gun control have made him little different than Democrats in the Senate.
Marter has heard it said that Kirk’s moderate positions are what gives him a chance to win a statewide election, but he’d like to see firsthand if voters will back a more conservative candidate like himself.
“That’s kind of the mantra out there, that you have to be a moderate to win in Illinois, but I think we need to run a conservative in Illinois to test that model and see if it’s really true,” Marter said.
In the history of Illinois, has a moderate Republican incumbent ever lost a statewide GOP primary to a completely unknown ultra-conservative challenger?
Indeed, Marter might actually turn out to be a good thing for Kirk if the incumbent tees off on Marter to reestablish his moderate bonafides for the fall campaign.
“Sen. Radogno: Gov. Rauner offered two things today — reforms and compromise. Democrats have to compromise if we are to avoid their tax hike.”
Really? Because Rauner has said he’s open to revenue enhancements (also known as take hikes) to balance the budget. He wants the legislature to adopt his pro-business and anti-union proposals before he’ll talk about it, but he hasn’t ruled it out.
Someday there may be an end to the impasse, and tax hikes could well be part of the solution. Some Republicans may well be called on to support them. Until then, the GOP might want to show some restraint before dismissing any tax hike as something being foisted by the Democrats alone.
The tweet should’ve read: “Democrats have to concede to the governor’s demand to whack unions if we are to pass a tax hike.”
* Democratic US Senate candidate Andrea Zopp hasn’t had a great few days in the earned media department. Laura Washington…
Outsider status is in vogue. Just ask Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson, marquee disrupters in the GOP presidential primary slugfest. The New York Times recently mentioned Zopp in an article about the rise of “anti-establishment” Democratic candidates.
However, Zopp’s resume includes a decidedly establishment stint as a member of the Chicago Board of Education.
In October 2012, she and the rest of the board voted unanimously to approve Barbara Byrd-Bennett as chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools. In June 2013, Zopp voted to approve a $20.5 million contract with SUPES Academy, to train the district’s principals and administrators.
On Thursday, Byrd-Bennett was named in a 23-count indictment, charged with helping SUPES get CPS contracts in exchange for kickbacks. Byrd-Bennett had previously worked for SUPES.
Now Zopp must defend her support of what appears to be a felonious and costly deal at a time when CPS was in financial crisis. Today, the schools may be on the verge of bankruptcy.
The contract does appear to have been felonious, but others say it was still a good deal and the bankruptcy stuff is hyperbole, but that piece was not good at all.
We, the public, did not learn of Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s profiteering relationship with a private education company from CPS. Nor from the mayor. Nor from the Chicago Board of Education, which to this day is afraid to challenge him. No, it was thanks to Catalyst, an independent education newsletter and an intrepid reporter Sarah Karp who, two years ago, asked simple questions. Why did Byrd-Bennett’s former consulting company get a no-bid $20 million contract almost immediately after she was hired? A company most educators knew nothing about? A company the Emanuel administration had worked with in hiring Brizard before firing him and hiring Byrd-Bennett? At a time when the board was so broke it was shuttering 50 schools?
People, Sarah Karp simply started with a Google search!
Did CPS’ army of lawyers, staffers, and pinstripe board members — including Andrea Zopp who is now running for U.S. Senate — ever consider asking those questions? Or were they too afraid to cross the guy on City Hall’s fifth floor?
Former CPS board member Andrea Zopp, who is now running for U.S. Senate, visited the Tribune Editorial Board in August. Asked about the SUPES contract, she said the board was aware Byrd-Bennett had ties with the company and it did not raise red flags.
“That was a plus, not a negative because she had experience with them,” Zopp said. “So being an employee in and of itself would not raise a bell. To me it was (Byrd-Bennett saying), ‘I work there. I know what they do is good. I did it.’ Me, at the time, I had a lot of respect for her and what she had done so that was a plus.”
No alarms? Really? It’s clear from the indictment that Byrd-Bennett sought to improperly leverage her position — and to hide her deal with SUPES from the school board. That doesn’t excuse board members for making it so easy.
* So, as I told you on Friday, Zopp is going over the media’s heads to voters during tonight’s Democratic presidential debate with some ads on CNN. The first one touts her as “the new choice in the race for Senate”…
The ad also focuses on police misbehavior, without actually saying so.
Secretary of State Jesse White has not taken a position on the measure while awaiting more details, including whether the change would increase waiting times at driver’s license facilities and boost costs to train employees to be election registrars. […]
State Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, sits on the subcommittee that will debate the idea Tuesday at a hearing in Chicago.
He said he is not familiar with the proposal, but said he believes making registration automatic could result in uninformed voters going to the polls.
“If you have to go out of your way to register to vote, you usually have a larger stake in the process. I believe an uninformed voter can actually be harmful to the United States,” Luechtefeld said.
Sen. Luechtefeld’s belief goes all the way back to the founding fathers. It’s been a constant source of tension in our political process.
“Citizens should not be required to opt-in to their fundamental right to vote,” Padilla added. “We do not have to opt-in to other rights, such as free speech or due process. The right to vote should be no different,” Padilla added.
Gov. Rauner has, in the past, supported laws that make it easier to vote or to register, so we’ll see what happens this time around.
Illinois’ next election isn’t until March, but you can go ahead right now and register to vote in it. More the procrastinating type? A new state law says you can now also register right up until, and on, the day of the election, at any precinct.
Republican Rep. Mark Batinick of Plainfield says that’s expensive; judging by how many took advantage of a trail run last year, he says “it would be cheaper for us to send a limousine to the people who are too lazy to register to vote, bring them down to the clerk’s office, have ‘em vote, take ‘em out for a steak dinner.”
Batinick doesn’t want to do away with same-day voter registration; rather, he proposes scaling it back, so there’d be set places for voters to register on election day. His proposal says that in places like the suburban collar counties only one, centralized same-day voter registration location would be required for every hundred thousand residents.
Brett Phillips headed to the polls at Welles Park in the early afternoon on Tuesday, thinking he’d outsmarted the lunchtime crowd of voters.
The joke was on him.
“I got here at 3,” said Phillips, as the clock ticked past 6 p.m. […]
At one point, the line of people waiting just to register — there would be another wait to vote — stretched outside the fieldhouse nearly all the way through the park to Montrose Avenue.
*** UPDATE *** From James P. Allen, the Communications Director at the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners…
In Chicago, 3,413 citizens used Election Day Registration at five sites at the Nov. 4, 2014 General Election.
We essentially extended by one day the time we used five early voting sites. Those were all in public buildings. The equipment was already in place. So the total cost was really staffing for an extra day. The staff downtown would have been here in either case, so there were no costs associated with this site. The approximate cost, if I calculate it on the high end, was $7,000.
That works out to $2.05 per voter who used Election Day Registration.
As Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez gears up for her first contested Democratic primary in eight years, she is trying to remind voters of her humble background, highlight her long history of prosecuting crimes and paint herself as a reformer concerned as much with justice as notching up convictions.
She plans to release a web video Tuesday that will serve as her formal campaign announcement for the March 15 contest. Preparing to challenge her are Kim Foxx, a former prosecutor backed by County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, and Donna More, also a former prosecutor now in private practice.
“I grew up in Pilsen — neither one of my parents had a high school education,” Alvarez says, as video of her is interspersed amid older photos and background music that sets a dramatic tone. “My dad was a waiter, and my mom worked as a seamstress, after he passed away when I was 12 years old.”
Alvarez goes on to note she’s worked as a prosecutor for 29 years, saying it is “my calling … my passion” to make sure victims “get the justice that they deserve.” Then, addressing criticism that she’s not done enough to reform the criminal justice system and been too slow to probe some alleged wrongful prosecutions, she declares, “The role of a prosecutor is not rackin’ up convictions. It’s about getting to the truth.”
* Yes, this is a web video, not a TV ad. But I don’t know what sort of folks they believe will watch it for two and a half minutes…
Last year, gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner pledged to “crack down on waste” in government in order to save taxpayers more than $140 million.
He also vowed to cut $500 million from the Illinois Department of Central Management Services and find another $250 million in Medicaid savings.
Very little of that has happened to date, as the governor himself inadvertently admitted during a speech last week in the southern Cook County suburbs.
Instead of saving $500 million at CMS, for example, Rauner touted only $15 million in savings, mainly from grounding the state’s fleet of airplanes – although that doesn’t take into consideration the cost of paying mileage reimbursements for all those folks who can no longer fly.
The governor identified a grand total of $107 million in what he said are savings he’s found this year, but most came from cuts at the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, and people I’ve talked to aren’t buying those numbers because some major state cost controls have been allowed to expire. He also failed to mention he vetoed a bill the Democrats said would’ve resulted in $400 million in DHFS savings – far more than his own stated campaign goal and lots more than the $70 million he claims to actually have saved.
Rauner also bemoaned the lack of a budget and the myriad court orders which are forcing state spending at last fiscal year’s levels.
“I can’t control” the court orders, the governor said.
That’s true, but the governor could try negotiating with the stakeholders and the courts to come up with more affordable orders. He’s not a complete victim.
Of course, Rauner repeatedly complained that the Democratic General Assembly hasn’t allowed votes on a single one of his Turnaround Agenda items.
He has a right to complain, but he’s not a legislator. He needs to eventually realize he can’t pass bills on his own.
Rauner also has to come to terms with the fact that “giving” the Democrats some Republican votes on a tax hike roll call in exchange for Democrats whacking unions isn’t exactly a Democratic “win.” To quite a few Democrats, that’s a most definite lose-lose proposition.
For crying out loud, man, what about an infrastructure projects plan? How about finding anything that could help grease a victory instead of this unseemly whining about how the other side won’t cave?
The Democrats, for their part, have got to get it into their heads that they have a Republican governor.
“I’ve stated all year that I will work with the governor cooperatively and professionally, but we will not devastate Illinois’ middle class and struggling families by furthering an agenda aimed at driving down their wages and their standard of living,” House Speaker Michael Madigan said shortly after the governor’s speech last week.
OK, well, first of all, comparing Rauner to Rod Blagojevich earlier this year was definitely neither cooperative nor professional on Madigan’s part, and his press secretary claimed the governor was acting like “a scared second-grader” when he skipped out of that south suburban speech without taking reporters’ questions.
Apart from that, Madigan’s two pension reform laws most definitely were designed to reduce the standard of living of retirees. Rauner was absolutely right last week to point out the various labor law exemptions Madigan has passed for Chicago. Even so, that doesn’t mean the Democrats ever would accede to Rauner’s demand teachers and local government employees should be stripped of their right to bargain over wages, benefits, overtime and working conditions. Ain’t gonna happen, man.
Eventually, because the governor is so anti-union and won’t talk about a budget until he gets some wins on that front, Madigan and the Democrats are going to have to do something that unions don’t love or this impasse will never end.
The problem for the Democrats is intensely political. Rauner’s horrible idea to spend the first four months of his administration touring the state demanding a so-called “right to work” law united unions like never before. Some major trade unions actively backed cuts in pension benefits for public employees, believing it would free up money for other state spending (a position encouraged by Madigan, by the way). Now, thanks to Rauner, they’re all one big happy family.
The Democrats are so frozen in position they can’t or won’t budge until things get so bad they will have no other choice but to ding the unions at least a little bit, which may be the ultimate plan here.
Madigan needs to understand this budget crisis happened under his watch and that the practice of spending money the state doesn’t have must end. He needs to fully grasp the fact that the state’s voters elected a Republican governor, meaning citizens want some of the reforms Rauner is touting.
Rauner needs to understand that Democrats aren’t going to give in to demands that weaken collective bargaining rights and take away power from labor unions. Rauner is correct that Madigan has in the past supported weakening collective bargaining rights, but that isn’t going to happen in the current environment.
Rauner must grasp that governing involves more than complaining about Democrats in front of friendly crowds.
Both sides need to put a clamp on the trash talking.
* But he’s on the road again this week. From the Quincy Area Chamber…
Please join Great River Economic Development Foundation and the Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce as we host Gov. Bruce Rauner for a Town Hall Meeting in Quincy to discuss the path forward for Illinois.
When: Thursday, October 15, 2015 | 2:00 p.m.
Where: John Wood Community College Workforce Development Center | 4220 Kochs Lane | Quincy, Illinois
– Joseph Tybor, the longtime Chicago journalist and press secretary for the Illinois Supreme Court, died Saturday at his home in Countryside. He was 68.
Tybor’s 30-year journalism career included comprehensive coverage of a broad array of subjects, including the Vietnam War, Notre Dame football and his must-read “On the Law” column that ran weekly in the Chicago Tribune.
For the past decade and a half he was a diligent advocate for the Illinois Supreme Court and spearheaded key changes to the Open Meetings Act, which allowed cameras into Illinois courtrooms for the first time.
“His relationships with reporters and his love and passion for the law made him such an absolute great fit at the Supreme Court,” Tybor’s son, Adam Tybor, said. “He was amazing at his job - he fought for his beliefs.”
Tybor, who was born in Chicago and grew up on the near South Side, got his start at the Chicago bureau of The Associated Press in the late 1960s. He was then drafted into the U.S. Army and served from 1969-71. He continued reporting in the military and had an influential story about the transport of deadly nerve gas republished by the AP.
After his discharge, Tybor returned to the AP and began taking night classes to earn his law degree. He earned his Juris Doctor from DePaul in 1979, and two years later he was hired by former Chicago Tribune city editor Dick Ciccone to cover legal affairs.
“At the AP you cover a variety of things,” said Ciccone, who later served as the Tribune’s managing editor from 1982-95. “He could so easily move from a crime story to a weather story to a sports story. He was a very fast writer and very informed on a whole wide world of subjects.”
In 1986, the Tribune nominated Tybor for a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of Chicago’s criminal justice system, Adam Tybor said.
His weekly “On the Law” column was a must-read for attorneys, judges, litigants and the general public.
After several years on the legal affairs beat he transitioned to coverage of Notre Dame sports, where he flourished as the foremost authority of all things Fighting Irish. Soon after taking over the beat he started his own side publication, Irish Eyes, one of the earliest online destinations for sports information.
Irish Eyes was a subscriber-based, bulletin board-style site where Tybor published inside information about Notre Dame.
“We just found a letter from Lou Holtz,” Adam Tybor said, “saying ‘Joe Tybor would be the only person I would consider letting write a book about me.’”
After a decade on the Notre Dame beat and as the newspaper industry began to change, Tybor transitioned to a communications role with the Illinois Supreme Court.
He served as the Court’s press secretary until his death.
“Everyone who ever dealt with him regarded him as tough but fair,” Ciccone said.
Tybor was also a nature lover, an avid camper, canoer and paddler. He earned his instructor certification from the American Canoe Association at age 65.
Tybor is survived by his wife, Sandra; daughter, Sarah Clark; son, Adam Tybor; siblings Julia Moore, Donna Siedschlag and David Tybor. He had several grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be held from 3-9 p.m. Tuesday at Hallowell & James Funeral Home, 1025 W. 55th St., Countryside. Mass will be held at St. Cletus Church, 600 W. 55th St., LaGrange, at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to Block Integrative Cancer Center, Skokie, Ill., or the National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation.
* Joe and I talked often about his experience with his “Irish Eyes” site. He was a big help to me through the years and was a “hands down” winner of our 2012 Golden Horseshoe Award for best government spokesman…
The Supreme Court finally allowed cameras in the courtroom this year and Tybor has been everywhere working with media and judges to make the experiment work. He’s getting good coverage for the court, but also helped develop a working cameras policy in Illinois. No one else has had as much influence as a spokesman.
His background in both journalism and the law made him a “logical choice” for the role of high court communications director, then-Chief Justice Charles E. Freeman said when it was announced Tybor would step into the role for retiring press secretary John Madigan.
“His ability to move comfortably in both the legal and journalistic world will better enable the court to help educate the public about its vital role in protecting the rights of citizens according to the U.S. and Illinois Constitutions and the court’s own precedent,” Freeman said at the time.
From there, Tybor spoke about any and all court-related issues, from obscure rule changes to annual budget requests from the legislature. He was also instrumental in more sweeping high court policies, such as the push to allow cameras into trial courts around the state.
“In one simple phrase, Joe did the heavy-lifting,” said Justice Thomas L. Kilbride, who worked extensively to promote the cameras in the courtroom initiative. “He really did a masterful job of researching other states and representing proposals to the Illinois Supreme Court. He was numero uno. He was the guy out in front.”
Almost 80 percent of registered voters in the region think the state and the nation are headed in the wrong direction. Fewer than 15 percent think Illinois and the U.S. are on the right track.
“These results probably reflect some of Illinois ’ current conflicts. Most polls show that more people feel their state is doing better than the nation. Not here. ” said John Jackson, a visiting professor at the Institute. […]
Only 37.4 percent approve of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s performance in office, while 50.7 percent disapprove. About one in eight ( 11.9 percent ) had no opinion about the Republican chief executive.
Senator Mark Kirk’s job approval rating is 30.4 percent, with 22.9 percent disapproving. A plurality of voters in the region – 46.6 percent – don’t know how they feel about the GOP lawmaker.
Senator Richard Durbin has approval ratings that exceed his disapprovals , but not by much. Half ( 50.6 percent ) approve of the Democrat’ s performance and a third (33.5 percent) disapprove. There are 16 percent who don’t know.
The Simon Institute’s Southern Illinois Poll interviewed 401 registered voters across the 18 southernmost counties in Illinois. The counties are: Alexander, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Massac, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Randolph, Saline, Union, Washington, White and Williamson.
It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. This means that if we were to conduct the survey 100 times, in 95 of those instances the results would vary by no ore than plus or minus 4.9 percentage points from the results obtained here.
“Voters here have been in a bad mood and they continue to be,” said David Yepsen, director of the Institute.
“The only surprise is how many people don’t have an opinion about Senator Kirk. For a statewide Republican incumbent to have such ambivalent ratings down here isn’t a good sign for him as he heads into a tough re-election campaign. He needs to be running well in this area to offset Democratic strengths elsewhere in the state,” he said.
Charlie Leonard, one of the Institute’s visiting professors supervising the poll, said “though Democrats and Republicans are evenly distributed in our southern Illinois sample, this is still a conservative area, and one might have thought of it as fertile ground for Gov. Rauner. For his approval ratings to be ‘upside down’ in southern Illinois this early in his administration may not bode well for the pro-business agenda he’s been trying to push.”