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Madigan: “Clearly part of Rauner’s plan to underfund social services”

Monday, Aug 22, 2016

* Speaker Madigan was asked today if the impasse has had any impact on Chicago’s violence problem. Some have suggested that the lack of social services could exacerbate some of these problems, the reporter said. Madigan’s response

Let’s not forget it has been clearly part of Rauner’s plan to underfund social services. He spoke to that at a Republican function a few years ago. Laid out, that was his plan for interaction with the Illinois Legislature.

The Democrats in the Legislature on multiple occasions have passed appropriations bills that would have provided for the same level of support for human service providers in Illinois. The obstacle is Gov. Rauner. And that’s his record. So, to the extent that these human service providers are underfunded, are not able to provide an appropriate level of service to people - it’s not the Democrats in the Legislature, it’s the governor.

Madigan was also asked about his own post-election budgetary plans, but he said he was too focused on campaigns right now to talk about it. Full audio is here, with many thanks to my good buddy Dave Dahl.

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      


Question of the day

Monday, Aug 22, 2016

* Your caption?…


- Posted by Rich Miller   71 Comments      


Rauner veto criticized

Monday, Aug 22, 2016

* New York Times editorial

Invoking Republicans’ phantom fear of voter fraud, Gov. Bruce Rauner has vetoed a bipartisan measure to make Illinois a pioneer in one of the truly innovative reforms of modern politics — the automatic registration of citizens as they conduct routine business at motor vehicle departments and other state agencies.

In the past 18 months, five states have approved this obvious boon for electoral democracy; others have it under consideration. The state sends proof of registration electronically to local election officials. Voters are thus spared the old bureaucratic paperwork maze and haphazard record-keeping that compounds delays on Election Day. Citizens are free to not register (and, of course, to not vote), but they cannot complain about opportunity denied.

More than 30 states have registration systems that require a voter to opt in at motor vehicle offices. That places the burden on voters. Automatic voter registration (A.V.R.) takes the process a step further, placing the responsibility on the state. As it is, the United States is one of the few democratic nations that place the registration burden on voters, leaving up to a third of eligible citizens unregistered. Canada’s automatic system has registered more than 90 percent of those eligible.

Had the Illinois measure gone forward, it would have added two million potential new voters to the rolls once it began in 2018. A more immediate effect would have been to update the registration of an estimated 700,000 voters in time for this November’s elections.

* Crain’s Chicago Business editorial

The bill would have allowed state agencies to add people to the voter rolls as early as January 2018. But advocates who negotiated with the Rauner administration on potential changes to the bill told the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets that talks broke down in early August when Rauner’s team sought to push the start date to January 2019. Rauner, we should note, would be on the ballot for re-election in November 2018.

The governor says the bill created too many opportunities for what he called “inappropriate voting” and “inadvertent voter fraud,” and put the state in danger of violating federal voting laws. He unfurled a checklist of changes that he believes would make the bill more airtight.

The governor’s objections wobble under close scrutiny, however. On Capitol Fax, a political website of Crain’s contributor Rich Miller, Abe Scarr of the Illinois Public Interest Research Group, which helped draft the original legislation, knocked down Rauner’s objections one by one, chiefly the worry that eligibility requirements would be inadequately enforced at the DMV and that potential voters would be registered regardless of their eligibility.
The bill’s supporters say they’ll pursue an override. They should.

* Bloomington Pantagraph editorial

An alarming number of people are not registered to vote, or they choose not to cast a ballot. That means a relatively small number of people make the decisions that affect the rest of the state. Automatic registration also might help quell lines on Election Day, where same-day registration now is allowed.

The Lee bureau reported that Rauner said he would continue working with supporters to craft a proposal that “meets our shared goals while complying with federal law and preventing voter fraud.”

There is time to get that work done before the fall veto session, and that should be the goal of the governor and the registration supporters.

In the meantime, lawmakers should consider overriding Rauner’s veto and then amending the legislative bill if problems do, in fact, arise.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


Gov. Rauner signs more criminal justice reform bills

Monday, Aug 22, 2016

* Press release

Governor Bruce Rauner today signed five bills aimed at reforming Illinois’ criminal justice system to focus on rehabilitation to reduce recidivism and help low level offenders find a brighter future. This package of bills specifically helps young people who have fallen on hard times find the help they need to get on a better track.

“We need to approach our criminal justice system with more compassion,” said Governor Rauner. “I want those who did something wrong to face punishment, but we must make sure that the punishment fits the crime. We need to explore new avenues so that we’re balancing punishment with rehabilitation and not needlessly tearing families and lives apart.”

This is the latest step in the Rauner administration’s attempt to reform the criminal justice system in Illinois. Within the first month of the administration, Governor Rauner created the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform. Its job was to create recommendations that would transform Illinois’ justice system to make it more responsive to the people it served, while also cutting down on the unnecessary incarcerations and costs. These bills, coupled with administrative changes, make reforms in the criminal justice system that will help safely reduce the number of prison admissions, the length of prison stays and reduce recidivism by increasing the chances of successful re-entry.

“Governor Rauner set out to make Illinois a more compassionate state and he is making good on that initiative,” said Illinois Department of Corrections Director John Baldwin. “Today’s bills will help ensure that we are giving young men and women a second chance at life. Instead of focusing on the past, we are attempting to rehabilitate people who have been incarcerated and create opportunities for low level offenders to build a future.”

SB 3164 requires review of a pre-sentencing report, as well as an explanation of why incarceration is appropriate for offenders with no prior probation sentences or prison convictions prior to sentencing. Last year, nearly 60 percent of new prison admissions for Class 3 or 4 felonies had no prior convictions for violent crimes. Sending low-level offenders with no prior probation or other convictions inefficiently uses prison resources and potentially makes low-level offenders more susceptible to reoffending. This legislation was sponsored by Sen. Michael Connelly and Rep. Brian Stewart and was a recommendation made by the Governor’s Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform.

HB 6291 amends the Juvenile Court Act to change the minimum probation period for a youth adjudicated delinquent. The purpose of the bill is to help bring Illinois in line with other states and the latest research by reducing mandatory minimum lengths of probation and treating low level offenses with treatment. This ensures that youth struggling with addictions will have the opportunity to go through the treatment process before being sent to prison.

HB 5017 allows a juvenile to immediately petition the court for expungement when he or she is charged with an offense that is dismissed without a finding of delinquency. Under current law, the statute only allows for a petition of expungement when the youth has reached the age of 18. This bill will help youth who were arrested but not charged get a fresh start and clear their names.

HB 6200 addresses per minute rates of phone calls for inmates. The bill reduces the rate that the Illinois Department of Corrections and the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice can contract for telephone providers.

SB 3005 amends the Park District Code to provide that a park district shall not knowingly employ a person who has been convicted of specified drug offenses until seven years following the end of a sentence imposed including periods of supervision or probation. The previous law stated that park districts could not employ any person convicted of the specified drug offenses. It furthermore scales pack prohibitions on employment for convictions of public indecency to Class 4 felonies.

More info is here.

Several Democrats were in attendance at today’s bill signing, including Rep. Kelly Cassidy, who criticized the governor’s veto of another bill, claiming he didn’t want to be seen as soft on crime.

* Related…

* Rauner signs Ammons bill to cut inmates’ phone costs

* ADDED: Blacks bear brunt of marijuana enforcement in Chicago

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      


Illinois improves economic ranking, but we’re still mired down

Monday, Aug 22, 2016

* Governing Magazine

For the first time since 2013, we’ve ranked the overall economic performance of the 50 states. The results show a connection between a state’s economic performance and its governor’s approval ratings.

To determine which states are doing well and which aren’t, we looked at six variables from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis: the current state unemployment rate; the improvement in the state unemployment rate over the past year; the per capita state GDP in 2015; the percent change in real state GDP between 2014 and 2015; the percent change in state personal income per capita, from the third quarter of 2015 to the first quarter of 2016; and the percentage growth in year-to-date increases in jobs for 2016.

These variables were chosen to offer a mix of static and dynamic measures of the states’ overall economic performance

Illinois ranked 34th.

* The top 5

1. Massachusetts
2. Oregon
3. Delaware
4. Colorado
5. California

* Three years ago, Illinois ranked 45th, so we’re moving up, I suppose. Here were the top five back then

1. Washington
2. Iowa
3. Texas
4. Utah
5. North Dakota

North Dakota, hit hard by the oil/gas bust, is now 40th. Texas, also hit by the bust, is now in 21st place, but that’s still ahead of Illinois.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      


Undercover justice

Monday, Aug 22, 2016

* Kerry Lester

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke sometimes goes “undercover” to watch Cook County’s bond court call and says she doesn’t always like what she sees.

On one occasion, she says, she was appalled to watch a woman with “obvious mental issues” brought into a courtroom wearing a garbage bag after she had been arrested in her underwear.

“I was ready to scream in court that day,” Burke says. “How could the judge permit it? How could the public defender? How could the sheriff? How does anybody? It’s so degrading.”

Cook County courts — including those in Rolling Meadows and Skokie — need to address the “cold, mechanical manner” of bond court, says Burke, a member of the state’s highest court since 2006 and wife of powerful Chicago Alderman Edward Burke. She’s also calling for an “audit” of how long judges work each day.

That attendance audit will scare the robes off some judges. Just sayin…

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      


How much more damage are they prepared to inflict?

Monday, Aug 22, 2016

* Jim Nowlan poses a very good question here, which I’ve highlighted

Thus far the governor has been unsuccessful in his paramount objective of forcing the House speaker to knuckle under to the agenda.

The question is whether the long-term costs imposed on the state during the Rauner-Madigan conflict, such as the failure to fund higher education for a year, are worth the benefits he hopes will flow from the uncertainty of success in humbling Madigan.

Rauner appears to have broken the mold for the Illinois governorship. His backers say it had to be done to overcome entrenched failure.

Yet I have my doubts a state as diverse as Illinois can ever be effectively governed by attempted fiat.

- Posted by Rich Miller   39 Comments      


Today’s number: 425

Monday, Aug 22, 2016

* Tribune

Through Sunday, 425 people were slain in Chicago, up 50 percent from 283 in a year-earlier period, according to official police statistics. During the same period, shooting incidents rose by 48 percent to 2,136, up from 1,443, the data show.

Other violent crimes such as sexual assaults, robberies and aggravated batteries also have spiked by double digits.

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Kirk admits to problems with Q&A, blasts Obama

Monday, Aug 22, 2016

* Umm

After Sen. Kirk addressed the Naperville Chamber of Commerce, media members were asked to leave the room during the question and answer session. Later, Kirk explained the stroke he survived in 2012 makes question and answer sessions difficult.

“That’s just a Kirk thing. I’ll take the hit for that. Ok,” Kirk said.

Yikes.

…Adding… Kirk’s campaign explains that he has a tough time hearing in environments like that with a lot of background noise, glass clinking, people talking, etc.

* Bernie

Even before the Obama administration late last week said that a $400 million cash payment to Iran was linked to the release of a group of American prisoners, U.S. Sen. MARK KIRK R-Ill., like many Republicans, was calling the payment ransom.

The administration used the term “leverage” to say why it held back delivery of the money it said was owed to Iran because of an arms deal in the 1970s until hostages were released.

Kirk, talking to the editorial board of The State Journal-Register on Tuesday, was critical of the cash payment.

“We can’t have the president of the United States acting like the drug dealer in chief,” Kirk said, “giving clean packs of money to a … state sponsor of terror. Those 500-euro notes will pop up across the Middle East. …. We’re going to see problems in multiple (countries) because of that money given to them.”

A drug dealer in chief? No dog whistle there.

* And it was the Iranian’s money, after all

In a conference call with reporters, two senior administration officials intimately involved with the financial and prisoner negotiations sought to refute what they described as false reports about what happened. They weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.

There was no way that Washington could have avoided repaying the money to Iran in the short-term, one of the officials insisted.

The 1981 Algiers Accord between the U.S. and Iran that set up the tribunal made repayment mandatory, and allowed for either claimant to seize assets in international courts if the other reneged on a ruling, the official said. Iran had lived up to its commitment by repaying $2.5 billion awarded for claims by U.S. citizens and companies.

A ruling on the military fund was expected soon, the official said, as Iran asked last year for the tribunal to hear its case and Tehran and Washington had been negotiating proposals for a hearing. Given that interest rates in the early years of the fund were as high as 20 percent, the official said Iran stood to receive a much more substantial award than $1.3 billion in interest. As a result, the U.S. opted to settle with Iran.

* Tammy Duckworth, by the way, has a new TV ad

*** UPDATE *** Press release…

Republican Senator Mark Kirk has been endorsed by Americans For Responsible Solutions, an organization started by former U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords (D-Az.) and her husband, Mark Kelly, that encourages elected officials to stand up for solutions to prevent gun violence and protect responsible gun ownership.

“Senator Mark Kirk has been a steady voice for bipartisan, responsible change that helps keep guns out the wrong hands, saves lives, and makes Illinois a safer place to live. He has stood up to the gun lobby and worked across the aisle for plans that reduce gun violence and protect the rights of law-abiding Americans,” said Peter Ambler, Executive Director of Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC. “We need more Republican leaders in Congress like Mark Kirk, and that’s why we are endorsing him for re-election in 2016.”

Senator Kirk was one of two Republican Senators to receive an endorsement from Americans For Responsible Solutions.

“In the wake of tragedy at Sandy Hook, Republicans Sens. Pat Toomey and Mark Kirk broke from the gun lobby and supported a bill to help prevent felons, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill from obtaining firearms at gun shows and online,” Giffords and Kelly wrote in a CNN op-ed. “This week, they are earning our organization’s endorsement.”

Senator Kirk has been a leading voice on common-sense, bipartisan gun reforms and legislation. Last year, the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence honored Senator Kirk with the Lincoln Award for his efforts in combatting gun violence in Chicago- he was the first Republican Senator to receive this honor.

“I’m honored to have former Rep. Giffords’ group’s support, not only for our campaign but for our effort to make streets, neighborhoods and schools safer,” said Senator Mark Kirk. ” The only way to break through the partisan gridlock in D.C. is by working across the aisle to reach bipartisan solutions, and I remain committed to working with Republicans and Democrats alike to get the job done and end the cycle of gun violence.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      


Sponsor claims Rauner vetoed bill because he was “afraid to be seen as soft on crime”

Monday, Aug 22, 2016

* Tribune

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday used his amendatory veto power to rewrite a bill that would have ended the state’s growing practice of suing prison inmates to recover the costs of their incarceration — effectively killing the legislation, according to the bill’s two sponsors.

The bill from state Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, now goes back to the General Assembly with Rauner’s addition of a financial threshold that would be determined by officials at the Illinois Department of Corrections. Inmates who have less than the threshold in their bank or prison accounts would be shielded from the controversial lawsuits.

The General Assembly can accept Rauner’s rewrite, override it or let it die. Biss and Cassidy said Friday they likely do not have the votes to override the veto.

“The bill is dead now because of the governor’s actions, and that is a travesty,” Biss said Friday, noting that the bill had passed the Senate and House with a narrow margin. “He killed a bill that would have eliminated a wasteful and immoral program.”

Umm, they could just accept the amendatory veto. But that won’t happen because Speaker Madigan is almost always dead-set opposed to doing such a thing. So, they’ll either have to draft a bill that conforms to the governor’s AV or drop the whole thing. The attorney general only rarely files these lawsuits, so it’s not a gigantic problem, unless you’re one of the targets.

…Adding… From Sen. Biss…

Hi Rich –

Just saw your post on the Governor’s AV of SB2465. Just wanted to make the point that beyond the practical challenges in accepting an AV, the language here really does gut our bill.

The AV says that right now:

    “the State’s power to recover costs is rarely used”

and also that under the bill:

    “The Department would establish a standard for determining [a whole bunch of stuff that then determines whether the State’s power to recover costs would be used]”

In other words, right now, the Department rarely uses this power, presumably because they decide not to. Under the AV, the Department would have the authority to decide when to use this power.

Doesn’t sound like a lot of progress to me.

* From the governor’s AV

We should be proud of the steps we have taken together to reform our criminal justice system. These efforts will reduce incarceration and recidivism rates, help incarcerated individuals to reenter the community and obtain gainful employment, and reduce costs to taxpayers. I thank the members of the General Assembly for being partners in this work.
 
Current law permits the Attorney General to bring legal action against formerly incarcerated individuals to recover incarceration-related expenses on behalf of the Department of Corrections. Senate Bill 2465 would stop this practice altogether. Today I return the bill with specific recommendations for change.
 
Proponents believe that collection efforts hinder an individual’s successful reentry into the community. Many ex-offenders have few if any assets and struggle to find jobs to care for themselves or their families.
 
In practice, though, the State’s power to recover costs is rarely used: the State collected approximately $355,000 total in Fiscal Year 2015. While I agree that this power should be used sparingly and judiciously, there are circumstances when it is warranted. Violent offenders with significant assets should compensate their victims and the State. For example, the State used this power to stop serial killer John Wayne Gacy from profiting while in prison.
 
The changes recommended below would protect low-income persons, while still enabling the State to pursue wealthier or violent offenders. The Department would establish a standard for determining whether a person has sufficient means, whether recovery by the State would inhibit the person’s reintegration into the community, and whether the nature of the crime (such as a violent crime) warrants recovery efforts. The Department’s proposed rules would be subject to public comment and review by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. The State would then be prohibited from pursuing recovery from persons except as allowed by that rule. This strikes the proper balance between protecting taxpayers and facilitating successful post-incarceration reentry.

The Gacey point is a bit weird since the state prohibits inmates from profiting from their crimes, according to the Trib.

* From the twitters…


- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


Because… Madigan!

Monday, Aug 22, 2016

* The dude is getting it from all sides these days

Three candidates for mayor of Aurora have criticized a fund-raising dinner for one of their fellow candidates, state Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora), Friday night by Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan (D-Chicago).

Aldermen Richard Irvin, at large, and Michael Saville, 6th Ward, and Rick Guzman, Aurora assistant chief of staff, issued a joint statement calling the dinner a “blatant attempt by Speaker Madigan to buy control of the next Aurora mayor …”

“We have no doubt that the politicians in Springfield and its special interest groups will pour money into any candidate they believe can do their bidding – as State Rep. Chapa LaVia has done for Madigan for the past 14 years,” the statement said. […]

Steve Brown, a spokesman for Madigan’s office, called the statement “a disgraceful cheap shot” by the three candidates, and said Chapa LaVia has served with distinction in the Illinois House of Representatives.

“I think the speaker thinks she has done a great job in the Legislature, and I think the speaker thinks she would do a great job as the mayor of Aurora,” Brown said. “She has a great resume. It’d probably be news if he did nothing.”

A change.org petition called “Keep Speaker Madigan Out of Local Elections!” has attracted just 281 supporters so far.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


Proft papers slammed

Monday, Aug 22, 2016

* The Southern Illinoisan goes off on Dan Proft’s newspapers

As a rule, The Southern’s Editorial Board does not attack fellow journalism publications. So, should this editorial reflect negatively on the Southwest Illinois News publication some of our readers are getting in the mail, this Editorial Board can confidently say that rule has not been broken. […]

Let’s get this out of the way. We reported back in June that the “about us” section of the publication’s website stated that the print version was being funded by Liberty Principles PAC, whose chairman is conservative Chicago radio talk show host Dan Proft. Gov. Bruce Rauner has been a major supporter of the PAC, according to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform’s Illinois Sunshine.

The “about us” section doesn’t seem to contain that information, anymore. However, it still reads that “Funding for the publication comes, in part, from advocacy groups that share beliefs in limited government.” […]

So, a group is sending out mailers in the apparent attempt to sway voters to Republican candidates. Cool. If that’s how they want to spend your money, go ahead. What gets our goat isn’t that they support certain candidates. It’s taking on the guise of journalism to push forth clearly biased news.

An editorial at the bottom of their front page attacks a senior reporter for the News Tribune questioning the authenticity of Southwest Illinois News. The writer of the editorial defends against the assertion that there’s a clear political bias by saying, “all newspapers have editorial biases.” The editorial goes on to pessimistically say that newspapers are nothing more than advertising vehicles and that news stories are “mostly filler, something to entice readers to pick up the rags they write for and see the ads.” Whoa. Easy there, tiger.

It’s true. Newspapers, including us, do feature advertisements. Paying people to put said newspaper together requires revenue. We rely on those who wish to advertise their products or businesses and they hope that they can increase their customer base by buying space in our publication. Going out and selling this ad space keeps us from relying on funding from groups such as Super PACs, you see.

As for all newspapers having editorial bias, the author may not know the difference between an editorial board and a news reporter. See, editorial boards do, in fact form opinions and write about them on the Editorial Page. News reporters gather information and simply report it to the best of their ability. The reporters do not write stories with the goal of putting a politician in office, nor does the editorial board attempt to politically sway the reporter into writing articles sympathetic to the causes of their choice.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


Illinois State Fair called a “disaster”

Monday, Aug 22, 2016

* A 43 percent admissions price increase for adults, intense rain storms, closed parking lots (due to the constant rain), canceled grandstand events (also due to the rain), high temperatures (when it wasn’t raining) and a massive power outage all contributed to vendors’ woe and ire at the Illinois State Fair this year

“It’s been a disaster,” said Jim Rewerts, owner of Cajun’s Unlimited, known for its alligator on a stick. “My sales are down 70 percent. This is my last year.”

Jack Sturgeon, who started selling corn dogs at the Illinois State Fair in 1964, added: “This was the worst fair I’ve had in 53 years. I’m probably down 50 percent.” […]

Aside from the admission costs, other fairs Rewerts attends invest in facilities and try to offer new things each year to entice people. In Springfield, the same format seems to be rolled out each year, he said.

For Sturgeon, the weather wasn’t the whole story, either. Bad weather in previous years didn’t stop him from turning a profit.

In recent years, he said, sales have slipped due to the economy, but the problem was exacerbated this year when the admission went up. Next year will be worse if nothing changes, Sturgeon added, when people aren’t caught off guard by $10 admission.

Rewerts is right about the crushing sameness of the fair every year. Some of that sameness is quaint and part of the tradition. Too much of it, however, is just plain boring, particularly when the price (and, therefore, the expectations) went up so much.

One noteworthy addition was the Brew Garden, which was well-received. They should expand the microbrewery offering next year and combine it with the Illinois wine folks and book more (and more interesting) bands. The guy who was playing guitar last night sounded like he’d memorized a bunch of K-Tel records from the 1970s.

And, no offense at all to Rewerts, who sells a good product, but his alligator on a stick schtick just isn’t as “new” as it was when he started selling it several years ago. Practice what you preach.

The beer tents need to book better bands. The new butter cow artist designed a plain-Jane product that just wasn’t up to snuff. The infrastructure is, indeed, severely lacking. I almost have the layout of the commercial building’s tenants memorized. Ethnic Village could probably use a reboot, both in the quality of food it sells and the acts it books.

Put simply, if you’re going to jack up entry prices by that much, you need to offer a significantly better product.

* All that being said, I think they did a decent job considering the challenges. 2015’s vendors had to wait almost a year to be paid, so it’s kind of amazing that any chose to return this year. The fairgrounds crews did a good job of keeping the place clean. The people staffing the gates were harried because attendees were upset over the lack of parking, but everybody else I dealt with was (as usual) friendly and helpful. The grandstand acts, while not my personal cup of tea, seemed to do pretty well when the weather cooperated. Yesterday’s weather was perfect, and the grounds were crowded with happy people.

One out-of-state alligator vendor calling it a “failure” doesn’t make it so. While there’s always room for improvement, I was out at the fairgrounds six different days and had fun every time.

Your own thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   76 Comments      


Rauner candidate slammed for governor’s prison reduction goal

Monday, Aug 22, 2016

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

You might think that months of bipartisan cooperation on numerous criminal justice reform bills would make that particular topic off-limits for partisan campaigns this year.

You’d be wrong.

Gov. Bruce Rauner announced early last year that he wants the state to reduce its prison population by 25 percent over 10 years. He has since signed numerous pieces of legislation during the past year or so to help achieve that goal, including recently when he signed the marijuana decriminalization bill into law.

For the most part, House Democrats kept their members who are targeted for defeat by Republicans off those bills. The move was both defensive (to protect their incumbents who represent tight districts from accusations that they are “soft on criminals”) and, as it turns out, offensive.

“In southern Illinois, we value the safety of our neighbors, friends and families,” begins a recent TV ad by Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion. “So why would anyone want to weaken penalties for dangerous criminals? Dave Severin’s biggest supporter wants to let 25 percent of the state’s prisoners loose into our communities.”

Severin’s “biggest supporter” is obviously Rauner, via his massive $11 million in contributions to the Illinois Republican Party so far this cycle. The state party has funneled much of that cash ($5.9 million as of last week) to the House Republican Organization, according to numbers compiled by Scott Kennedy at Illinois Election Data. Bradley’s opponent, Severin, reported raising just $9,335 in the second quarter, but HRO has been running ads on his behalf since early June.

So the Severin campaign’s recent denial that its “biggest supporter” (which it claims is actually HRO) has no such position on releasing prisoners is nonsense. But its claim that Bradley’s ad is reminiscent of the infamous 1988 “Willie Horton” advertisement is pretty close to being true. Horton, you will recall, was given a weekend furlough from a Massachusetts prison and didn’t come back. In the meantime, he committed murder, armed robbery and rape. The Democratic presidential nominee in 1988 was Michael Dukakis, who was governor at the time of Horton’s escape. He supported the furlough program and was ultimately blamed for Horton’s rampage in a devastating ad that benefited President George H.W. Bush.

Unlike the Horton spot, Bradley’s ad doesn’t mention any specific crimes committed by released prisoners. But there was hope in some circles that these sorts of ads would become a thing of the past in Illinois. A newspaper op-ed co-written by Sen. Kwame Raoul earlier this year cited poll results showing 74 percent of Illinoisans believe our criminal justice system is “broken.”

“While some have questioned whether Gov. Rauner’s goal to reduce incarceration by 25 percent is politically achievable,” Raoul wrote, “it turns out that the voters actually support far-reaching policies that can make a real difference in reducing the number of persons held in Illinois’ prisons.”

Indeed, another poll conducted recently for the Rauner-allied Illinois Policy Institute found that 56 percent of Illinoisans believe that the criminal justice system is “unfair.” And more than 80 percent said politicians should support criminal justice reforms “such as community supervision, mandatory drug testing and treatment programs—instead of prison—that reduce the likelihood the offender would commit a new crime.”

“A generation of candidates for public office have come of age worried about being the subject of a ‘Willie Horton’ advertisement,” Raoul wrote in that March 15 op-ed with Republican state Sen. Karen McConnaughay. “Now it seems that we have public support, political agreement and momentum on our side to fix our broken criminal justice system.”

So, if this TV barrage is successful, will it halt the governor’s policy momentum?

Raoul told me last week he hoped it wouldn’t. But, he warned, it “ain’t going to be easy” to pass more comprehensive legislation as it is, so he’s worried about the potential impact.

Incumbents who are targeted for defeat are rarely part of a controversial “solution” in Springfield—and Bradley has most definitely become a target since Rauner’s election. The heavy lifting at the Statehouse is usually done by those who don’t have to worry too much about electoral opposition. Rauner’s vast cash reserves can help comfort wary Republicans, and it’s highly doubtful that “safe” Democrats will ever draw a primary opponent over an issue like this.

Political organizations always use what works best in campaigns, and this issue apparently polls well enough to include it in a TV spot, so that just might give some folks pause if Bradley wins and the issue is successfully deployed in other legislative campaigns. Let’s hope not.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


« NEWER POSTS PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Question of the day
* Yeah, good luck with that, Rod
* *** UPDATED x1 - IDOC responds *** AFSCME claims IDOC is "allowing" assaults on guards "without any kind of penalty"
* Rauner appears exasperated by latest Kirk gaffe
* The latest on redistricting reform
* Unclear on the concept
* Watching the watchdogs
* *** UPDATED x1 - Planned Parenthood responds *** Lawsuit filed over Chicago "bubble zone" ordinance
* Englewood anti-violence group ordered to move
* Rauner gives another $5 million to ILGOP
* Rauner talks about ISP's battle against Chicago crime
* No surprise: Munger passes on IEA session
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* NFC payment ring completes Olympic beta tests, moves on to public pre-orders
* Is the Samsung Scoop another looming Amazon Echo rival, or just a dumb old wireless speaker?
* Photo Editing App 'Prisma' Now Supports Offline Picture Processing
* Super-sweet eBay sale has refurbished Samsung Gear S2 going for $100 ($200+ off)
* Galaxy Note 7 supply constraints reiterated, but no long-term shortage anticipated
* LG V20 gets rendered in protective attire now, as premium B&O Play audio is confirmed
* Woz Laments No Headphone Jack on iPhone 7, Sees USB-C as Future of Audio

* White Sox roll past Phillies with Rodon at wheel
* Rodon unlocks backdoor in commanding win
* Rodon rolls on as White Sox pound Phillies
* White Sox roll past Phillies with Rodon at wheel
* Collins among top prospect performers Tuesday
* Rodon rolls on as White Sox pound Phillies
* Pipeline preview: Adams featured in duel of the day

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* U of Illinois flagship campus may have record f.....
* TRUMP’s ‘idea’ to fix CHICAGO violence — RAUNER.....
* Editorial: State transportation funds need secu.....
* Editorial: Making Illinois’ state fairs great s.....
* Morning Spin: How Emanuel’s new water tax will .....
* Rauner Signs Firearm Trafficking Bill Into Law .....
* Rauner signs bill to punish trafficking guns in.....


* 28 students to get police escort due to oil pipeline protest
* Illinois graduating seniors have slight ACT score increase
* Environmentalists win lawsuit against Peoria-area coal plant
* Chicago Board of Education to vote on $5.4 billion budget
* EXCHANGE: Murphysboro Kiwanis uses bocce to bridge gaps
* Couple to marry in foyer of Lincoln Home historic site
* Claim: Doctor refused to remove IUD for religious reasons
* U of Illinois flagship campus may have record freshman class
* Lincoln Library expands poets collection with Masters papers
* Du Quoin State Fair to kick off with cow-milking contest

* Rauner signs bill to punish trafficking guns into Illinois
* Rauner to sign bill to clamp down on gun trafficking
* Gov. Rauner signs bills to assist juvenile, other offenders
* Gov. Rauner signs package of criminal justice legislation
* Tax on feminine hygiene products repealed in Illinois
* Gay rights setback seen in Illinois Supreme Court ruling
* New Illinois law addresses financial exploitation of elderly
* Democrats at Illinois State Fair taunt GOP's Trump reluctance
* Democrats taunt GOP's Trump reluctance
* Illinois Democrats trumpet Trump name, taunt GOP reluctance

* Dancing Festival, Taste of Greektown, art in Highland Park
* Hospitals and health insurers suffer in Illinois
* How Pabst is reinventing Stroh's, Old Style, Schlitz
* Duckworth goes after Kirk in City Club speech
* Grad students can unionize at U of C, NU


* Man shot in Grand Crossing
* Police: Man shot to death in Back of the Yards
* Pike and muskie: More tales from around the Chicago lakefront
* Man injured in motorcycle crash in the Loop
* Man shot, seriously wounded in East Garfield Park
* Stevenson ramp closures start Wednesday night
* Man wounded in Austin shooting
* Police: 4 dead, 13 wounded in Tuesday shootings
* 2 wounded in West Garfield Park shooting
* Police: Man found shot to death in North Lawndale


* Who was the greatest Cubs catcher?
* Don't worry, Sue - Trix is just passing through
* 38 dead, hundreds hurt in Italy earthquake: 'The town isn't here anymore'
* U.S. to buy 11 million pounds of cheese to boost dairy prices
* CPS board votes today on $5.4 billion budget with property tax hikes
* Lawmakers demand information on EpiPen price increase
* Morning Spin: How Emanuel's new water tax will impact homeowners
* Turkey in cross-border operation to free Syrian town held by Islamic State militants
* 5 dead, at least 16 others wounded during city shootings
* Suspect questioned in fire that killed 3 kids, neighbor: 'You will get what you deserve'


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* Michael Gerson: Cheap populism helps no one
* E.J. Dionne: Trump's sour Virginia cocktail
* Michael LeRoy: Map case shows courts' flaws
* Our View: Both parties need plans for Illinois, not rhetoric
* Catherine Rampell: Millennials aren’t buying homes. Good for them.
* Rauner signs bill to punish trafficking guns into Illinois
* Rauner to sign bill to clamp down on gun trafficking
* Gov. Rauner signs bills to assist juvenile, other offenders
* Kathleen Parker: A nice column about Trump
* Gov. Rauner signs package of criminal justice legislation


* Optimum Options
* Florida man loses suit involving Valley Bank
* Podcast: Champaign Fire Chief Gary Ludwig 8/24/16
* Urbana school board working on facilities committee
* An aural feast
* Connect Transit to install more bus shelters
* Thunderstorms to linger most of Wednesday
* Step challenge set before Heart Walk
* Longtime EIU botanist gets plant named after him
* Limit road funds to transportation


* Baking secrets: Greek yogurt moves from breakfast smoothie to dessert
* Enjoy Buffalo or Bloody Mary Shrimp -- it's your choice
* At least 38 dead as strong earth quake rocks central Italy
* Japan, China, S. Korea unite in condemning N. Korea missile
* The Latest: Geologist: creeping tectonic plate caused quake

* House lawmakers overcome hurdle on key tra...
* Rodney Davis talks funding with Bloomingto...
* The agency that fought Illiana gets a new ...
* Rep. Dold takes educational cruise down Ch...
* Lawmakers decry high turnover rate of VA h...
* CBD Oil, and politics
* Simon considering state Senate bid
* Killer Congressman Tom MacArthur trying to...
* Shutdown? State may not notice
* Rep. Bob Dold

* Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth visiting C......

* Duckworth: Kirk 'unhinged,' hearings on Ir......
* Duckworth Slams Kirk During Economic Polic......

* Jersey Jazzman. Inequality in Chicago.
* Progressive Block Island.
* “The Driver’s Side” News From The Motorist’s Perspective
* It doesn’t matter what Trump really thinks; he’s stirred up nitwits real good!
* Duckworth Slams Kirk During Budget Talk, Outlines Fiscal Priorities
* Duckworth Slams Kirk During Economic Policy Talk, Outlines Fiscal Priorities
* Fair Economy Activists Arrested At Protest Against Corporate 'Tax Dodgers' (VIDEO) (UPDATED)
* Arrests Made At Fair Economy Illinois' Protest Against 'Corporate Tax Loopholes'
* Cartoon Of The Day
* Cartoon of the Day - 8/23/16 Lochte


* Governor Rauner Signs Firearms Trafficking Bill to Help Protect Communities from Gun Violence
* Governor Rauner Takes Action towards Normalcy for Illinois Youth in Care
* State Announces September 1 Start of Low Income Energy Assistance Program Enrollment - LIHEAP, PIPP applications available for seniors, people with disabilities beginning September 1
* Governor Rauner Signs Bills to Further Reforms to Illinois’ Criminal Justice System
* Governor Signs Bill Creating Task Force to Combat Human Trafficking




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