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Most. Unwatchable. Video. Ever.

Thursday, Jul 21, 2016

* Another blast e-mail from John Terranova to state employees…

Dear colleagues,

I wanted to thank you for taking the time to contact me in response to my last email. Your responses confirmed what we knew all along. State employees are hungry for accurate information. Rest assured, you can always count on me and my colleagues in CMS Labor Relations to provide it.

To that end, please take a moment to watch ASK JT: Answers to State Employee Questions and Concerns. In this clip, joined by my longtime colleague and good friend, Colleen Alderman, I answer important questions we’ve been receiving from employees. We cover the following topics:

    . ​health insurance,

    . strike-related issues (lost wages and benefits, inability to use vacation and other benefit time during a strike, as well as other issues),

    . impasse, and

    . merit pay.

I’m sure you have many more questions and encourage you to continue asking them. Colleen and I will do our best to respond, in writing and in future installments of ASK JT. In the meantime, please bookmark, where you can find a complete copy of our last, best, and final offer in the AFSCME negotiations. We will continue updating this website with additional information that our employees not only demand but have the right to know.


John Terranova
Deputy Director
Office of Labor Relations
Department of Central Management Services

* The video is over 20 minutes long, so it isn’t actually a “clip.” But if you can somehow manage to make it through all the way, please let me know in comments what you thought because I only made it about two minutes. Click here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   57 Comments      

Rauner continues to dodge Trump questions

Thursday, Jul 21, 2016

* Gov. Rauner again dodged questions about the presidential campaign today during a bill-signing event. Asked, for instance, if he planned to watch tonight’s big speech by Donald Trump, the governor said…

“I’m focused on Illinois’ prosperity and, uh, getting our Illinois, uh, reforms done. Political reform, economic reform, education reform.”

* Reminded that he said he’d support the party’s presidential nominee, so now that Trump is the nominee, what form would that support take?…

“Again, I, I’ve said what I’m, all I’m gonna say on the, on the presidential campaign.”

* Raw audio…

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      

Unclear on the concepts

Thursday, Jul 21, 2016

* Sneed

Whoops! U.S. Rep. John Shimkus needs a geography lesson: He told Illinois delegates at a Yacht Club luncheon in Cleveland on Tuesday, “It’s great to be here next to Lake Superior!”

It’s Lake Erie, bud.

* Tribune

Tim Schneider, the Cook County commissioner Rauner tapped to be state GOP chairman, maintained talk of any divisions was illusory. “I’ve seen nothing but unity this whole week. I’ve seen nothing but unity,” Schneider said.

* $767? Really?

With average cost per delegate at next week’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia running between $3,000 and $5,000, Democratic Sen. Mike Noland and his wife, Veronica, have set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for their trip.

The idea, Mike Noland tells me, came from Jose Alfonso Villalobos, who heads the Kane County for Bernie Sanders group. The Nolands hope to finance the trip “Bernie style” — a nod to the Vermont senator who amassed many small donations during his presidential primary bid.

While the GoFundMe page shows the Nolands raised about $767, Mike Noland says he’s also doing other fundraising to hit his $5,000 goal.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

Question of the day

Thursday, Jul 21, 2016

* Sun-Times

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., slammed Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on Thursday for not endorsing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during his convention prime time address on Wednesday night.

“If you are invited to speak at the convention, though, you have to endorse him,” said Kinzinger, who is so reluctant to embrace Trump as his party’s nominee that he has been sitting on the fence for months.

“This is Donald Trump’s convention,” Kinzinger said on CNN. “He won the primary fair and square.”

Kinzinger said he was “blown away” with Cruz’s speech, where he urged Republicans to “vote their conscience” rather than say straight up to cast their ballots for Trump.

“I think it was ludicrous of Ted Cruz to do it, and it’s obviously political posturing for whatever comes next,” Kinzinger said.

Trump himself tweeted that he read the speech beforehand and allowed it to proceed. As I recall, the deal he cut with Cruz a while back to speak at the convention didn’t include any promises that Cruz endorse the nominee. Back in March, Trump rescinded his pledge (agreed to with the other candidates) to back the eventual nominee. And after all that, the Trump campaign scheduled Cruz to speak Wednesday night in prime time ahead of a speech given by Trump’s son and his vice presidential nominee.

All that said…

* The Question: Do you agree with Congressman Kinzinger? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


- Posted by Rich Miller   63 Comments      

Today’s must-read

Thursday, Jul 21, 2016

* Ben Joravsky’s profile of Chicago Ald. Sue Sadlowski Garza is entertaining, well-written and informative. You gotta check it out.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      

Report: Rauner “can’t stand Trump”

Thursday, Jul 21, 2016

* Hmmm

Sneed is told Gov. Bruce Rauner, who detests Trump, may be a no-show here — but he is monitoring what’s going on.

“He’s been calling,” an Illinois delegate who asked not to be identified said. “He can’t stand Trump. He doesn’t like the way he does business.”


- Posted by Rich Miller   56 Comments      

Unemployment rate down, but IDES still gloomy

Thursday, Jul 21, 2016

* Press release

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced today that the unemployment rate in June decreased 0.2 percentage points to 6.2 percent and nonfarm payrolls decreased by -2,200 jobs, based on preliminary data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and IDES. The decrease in Illinois’ unemployment rate is largely due to a decline in the labor force. Job growth is still below the national average, with Illinois -51,500 jobs short of its peak employment level reached in September 2000.

“In June, Illinois experienced yet another exodus and over-the-year job growth is still at half the national rate,” Director Jeff Mays said. “As we do our part in expanding services that help jobseekers find work more quickly, structural reforms are necessary to get the state’s economy back on track.”

“We’ve lost more than 9,000 manufacturing jobs over the last year, and replacing those middle class jobs has been an uphill battle due to the high costs facing Illinois businesses,” Illinois Department of Commerce Acting Director Sean McCarthy said. “Manufacturing has been a critical part of our state’s economy, providing stable, good paying jobs for Illinois families. We need action on structural reforms to Illinois’ dysfunctional worker’s compensation, regulation, and tax systems to make our state competitive and bring solid middle class jobs back to Illinois.”

In June, the three industry sectors with the largest gains in employment were: Professional and Business Services (+3,000); Financial Activities (+1,700); and Other Services (+1,500). The two industry sectors with the largest declines in employment were: Educational and Health Services (-7,300) and Trade, Transportation and Utilities (-1,000).

Over the year, nonfarm payroll employment increased by +41,300 jobs with the largest gains in Leisure and Hospitality (+19,100); and Professional and Business Services (+16,700). Industry sectors with the largest over-the-year declines in June include: Manufacturing (-9,100) and Information Services (-2,700). The 0.7 percent over-the-year gain in Illinois is less than the 1.7 percent gain posted by the nation in June.

The state’s unemployment rate is higher than the national unemployment rate reported for June 2016, which increased to 4.9 percent. The Illinois unemployment rate stood 0.4 percentage points above the unemployment rate a year ago when it was 5.8 percent.

The number of unemployed workers decreased -4.1 percent from the prior month to 409,300, up +8.5 percent over the same month for the prior year. The labor force grew by +1.9 percent in June over the prior year, but decreased 0.5 percent over-the-month. The unemployment rate identifies those individuals who are out of work and are seeking employment. An individual who exhausts or is ineligible for benefits is still reflected in the unemployment rate if they actively seek work.

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      

“Foreign” hack attack on state voter registration site

Thursday, Jul 21, 2016

* From the McLean County Clerk’s Facebook page

The State Board of Elections (SBE) fell victim to a cyberattack that was detected on July 12, 2016. Specifically, the target was the [Illinois Vital Records System] database. Once discovered, State Board of Elections closed the point of entry. On July 13th, once the severity of the attack was realized, as a precautionary measure, the entire IVRS system was shut down, including online voter registration.

SBE’s Information Technology and Voting and Registration Systems staff immediately began researching the extent of the infiltration. Thus far, we have determined the following:

    · The pathway into IVRS was NOT through our firewalls but through a vulnerability on our public web page that an applicant may use to check the status of their online voter registration application.
    · The method used was SQL injection. The offenders were able to inject SQL database queries into the IVRS database in order to access information. This was a highly sophisticated attack most likely from a foreign (international) entity.
    · We have found no evidence that they added, changed, or deleted any information in the IVRS database. Their efforts to obtain voter signature images and voter history were unsuccessful.
    · They were able to retrieve a number of voter records. We are in the process of determining the exact number of voter records and specific names of all individuals affected. (Because of the complex methods used to access the data, this may take 10-15 days.)
    · In an effort to prevent an attack such as this from happening in the future, we have made a number of security enhancements to the IVRS and POVA systems.
    · Once the system is brought back online, all IVRS user passwords will need to be changed at the first login (or by your vendor for system specific accounts). The new password must be a minimum of eight characters in length, one of which must be a non-alphanumeric character ($, *, # etc.).

Pursuant to the Personal Information Protection Act (815 ILCS530/), the Illinois General Assembly and the Office of the Attorney General have been notified of the incursion. Furthermore, once we have determined the number of voter records and the individuals whose information was collected, we are prepared to take the proper steps required to notify those persons.

A separate notification will be sent indicating when you and your staff may access IVRS. Thank you for your patience regarding this matter.

Kyle Thomas
Illinois State Board of Elections
Director-Voting and Registration Systems

* Dan Petrela

The registration database is a frequent target of cyberattacks, [Ken Menzel, the Illinois State Board of Elections’ general counsel] said, but “this is the first time that we’re aware of that anybody’s gotten into anything — not for lack of trying .”

Menzel said the board is confident that no voter information in the database was altered and will follow the proper notification procedures if any personal information was compromised.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      

Get in front of it, already

Thursday, Jul 21, 2016

* This passage from a Trib editorial on yesterday’s failure by the remap reform amendment is just plain intellectually dishonest

It ought to go without saying that this appeal deserves the prompt attention of the state’s highest court. But two years ago, the justices showed a shocking disregard for the hundreds of thousands of voters who signed petitions in support of a different amendment.

Illinois isn’t California. We can debate forever the legal arguments on this particular case, but just because hundreds of thousands of people sign a petition it doesn’t change the fact that our state Constitution drastically restricts any and all proposals for change. And in 1988 and 2008, Illinois voters soundly rejected calling a constitutional convention. I wrote numerous columns leading up to that 2008 vote supporting a convention, mainly to get remap reform on the table, but the question lost 3.1 million to 1.5 million.

3.1 million voters trumps 564,000 petition signatures in my book, as much as I strongly disagreed with their overwhelming decision.

* That having been said, there is a most definite political downside to Democrats with this ruling, as today’s Chicago Sun-Times editorial clearly shows

But the power to reshuffle that stacked deck lies, perhaps more than ever now, in the hands of the very people uninterested in any change — the state’s Democratic legislative leaders. The court ruled that the remap plan, which would have assigned new duties to the state auditor general and Supreme Court, went beyond constitutionally allowed “structural” and “procedural” changes to the Legislature.

Today’s court ruling was a defeat for democracy and a victory for House Speaker Mike Madigan and Company, who have consistently put their own political interests above the power of your vote.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The Democrats need to get out in front of this issue with a real proposal of their own. If they don’t defeat Rauner in the next election and don’t maintain their super-majorities in both chambers in the next two cycles, then he’ll veto their remap bill and they’ll only have a 50-50 chance of drawing the next map.

And then all heck will break loose. I seriously doubt the GOP will make the same sort of mistakes that they made when they drew the map in 1991.

* Related…

* Mark Brown: Dems’ stance on redistricting reform will catch up to them

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      

What Rauner’s money and people are bringing to the GOP’s table

Thursday, Jul 21, 2016

* This new data sophistication that the state party chairman spoke about this morning is just part of what’s going on. The House and Senate Republicans now have much larger operations, with a much bigger infrastructure than they’ve ever had before…

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      

IL Trump delegates defend the negativity

Thursday, Jul 21, 2016

* While some Illinois Kasich delegates (most notably the “Never Trump” former state party chairman Pat Brady) are quoted high up in this article, the Trump delegates fervently contend that the Republican National Convention’s relentless negativity against Hillary Clinton won’t hurt the party in the end

Trump delegates say they have no problem with the Clinton-bashing and do not fear blowback from women voters, a problem area for Trump.

James Devors, a Trump delegate from Aroma Park, 60 miles south of Chicago, agreed that he’d “like to hear more positive stuff about Mr. Trump.”

But the negative statements, Devors said, “are going toward those Republicans who are lukewarm to Mr. Trump. It’s, ‘You might not like Mr. Trump, but this is your alternative,’ is the audience they’re going for.”

State Rep. John Cabello of Machesney Park, 95 miles northwest of Chicago, an at-large delegate and Trump supporter, said reprisals from women voters shouldn’t be a problem because “Trump has a problem only with women who would never support him in the first place.”

Linda Lucchese, a Trump delegate from Park Ridge, Clinton’s hometown in Chicago’s northwest suburbs, disagreed: “It won’t hurt with any woman who’s got half a brain,” she said.

It did look a bit Third Worldish to be loudly chanting “Lock her up!” about an American political opponent, but I think that if the nominee has a very good night tonight, much of that might be forgotten.

But not all of it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      

Maybe not?

Thursday, Jul 21, 2016

* Richard Porter is the Republican National Committeeman…

* But…

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      

Caption contest!

Thursday, Jul 21, 2016

* Brady is a “Never Trump” guy, so this is little surprise…

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      

*** LIVE COVERAGE *** Republican National Convention

Thursday, Jul 21, 2016

* Follow the Illinois angles with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      

Poll: Voters prefer union and government workers over tanking Rauner

Thursday, Jul 21, 2016

* From Anzalone Liszt Grove via AFSCME

To: Interested Parties
From: ALG Research
Re: IL Statewide poll findings

Illinois voters like labor unions. Conversely, they do not like Bruce Rauner or think he is doing a good job as Governor. They side with labor unions in fights with Bruce Rauner generally, and they side with AFSCME specifically in their current dispute with the Governor.

Key Findings

• Labor unions and workers are popular in Illinois. Voters are favorable towards “public employee unions” (51% favorable / 29% unfavorable) and “state government workers” (57% favorable / 28% unfavorable).

• Voters have turned on Bruce Rauner. Last April, voters gave Rauner a net positive job rating (45% positive / 42% negative) and personal popularity rating (47% favorable / 36% unfavorable). That’s now flipped, and Rauner has a poor personal rating (38% favorable / 50% unfavorable) and job rating (35% positive / 60% unfavorable). That includes bad ratings with:

    o Independents (32% positive / 64% negative job)
    o The Collar counties (45% positive / 50% negative)
    o Downstate (42% positive / 54% negative)
    o People who voted in the November 2014 election (37% positive / 59% negative)

• In general, voters trust public employee unions more than Bruce Rauner in a dispute. They favor public employee unions by 24 points (54% unions / 30% Rauner) when it comes to conflicts between them and Rauner, an improvement for unions since last April (51% unions / 33% Rauner).

• In the current dispute between state employees and Bruce Rauner, voters agree with state employees. Voters overall side with state workers, as do voters in the Collar counties, Downstate, Independents, and midterm-election voters:

“When it comes to the current dispute between the state employees’ union and Bruce Rauner, which of the following do you agree with more?

    o “State employees say they are willing to negotiate with Bruce Rauner, even offering to limit pay raises and pay more for their health care. But just like Rauner held the state budget hostage for a year, he refuses to negotiate with workers. Instead he’s trying to force our everyday heroes like caregivers and emergency responders to accept steep cuts to their standard of living. 56%
    o “Bruce Rauner says that we are in such a fiscal mess because past governors gave too much to government unions that funded their political campaigns. He says that the unions’ demands would cost taxpayers three billion dollars, and that the state can’t afford employee pay raises or generous health care benefits.” 34%

• On the following points of contention, voters also agree more with the state employees’ union than Rauner. Voters don’t just agree with ASFCME on the general issue, they also take the union’s side on the key specific points of disagreement between AFSCME and Rauner.

“Which of the following do you agree with more?”

    o The union says Rauner is wildly exaggerating the cost of workers’ pay and benefits for his own political gain. 58%
    o Bruce Rauner says the union’s demands would cost taxpayers three billion dollars. 32%

    o The union says public service workers are important. They keep us safe, protect kids, care for veterans, and more. 62%
    o Bruce Rauner says government unions are part of the corrupt bargain in Springfield causing our state’s mess. 28%

    o The union says Bruce Rauner is trying to destroy unions, so he can get a blank check to outsource public services for private profit. 60%
    o Bruce Rauner says we need to cut Illinois state workers’ excessive pay and benefits. They are the highest-paid state workers in the nation at $60,000 a year. 30%

The findings are based off of an n=600 sample poll of November 2016 likely voters conducted on landlines and cellphones. Interviews were apportioned geographically based on past voter turnout. The expected margin of sampling error at the 95% confidence level is +4.0% and higher for subgroups.

Subscribers have toplines and more info. The poll was conducted July 6-10.

* From Team Rauner…

This fabricated poll is yet another attempt by AFSCME leaders to mislead and distract taxpayers from AFSCME’s true intention, which is a strike as early as September 1st.​

- Posted by Rich Miller   71 Comments      

IL delegate who goes by “whitepride” kicked out of GOP convention

Thursday, Jul 21, 2016

* Lynn Sweet

The Illinois Republican Party on Wednesday revoked the convention credentials of a Donald Trump delegate from Chicago “for publicly-made racist comments and threats of violence” on a Facebook posting.

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider told the Sun-Times the party, “has zero tolerance for racism of any kind and threats of violence against anyone.” […]

The Republican National Convention welcome party was thrown Sunday at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. [Fifth Congressional District delegate Lori Gayne] wrote, over a photo of law enforcement officials on the roof on the iconic building on the Lake Erie shore:

“Our brave snipers just waiting for some “N—- to try something. Love them.”

She used an abbreviation for the racial slur.

* From Gayne’s statement

The statements do not reflect my character or feelings toward minorities.

Oh, please.

* From a May 19th Tribune story

One of Gayne’s social media handles is “whitepride.”

“With all the racism going on today, I’m very proud to be white. Just like black people are proud to be black and now, as white people, whenever we say something critical we’re punished as if we’re racists. I’m tired of it. I’m very proud,” Gayne said.

“I’m so angry I don’t even feel like I live in America. You can call me a racist. Black Lives Matter? Those people are out of control,” she said.

The oldest line in the book is “I’m not a racist, but…” As a white man, I’ve heard it countless times.

* Tribune today

State Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, co-chair of the Illinois delegation and a major Trump supporter, said he supported free speech but said Gayne had crossed the bounds to be a representative for Illinois Republicans.

“I don’t believe her voice is one we want in the party,” Cabello said.

Coulda thought about that before the convention even started.

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      

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Thursday, Jul 21, 2016

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Duckworth campaign whacked hard over tweet

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2016

* From the twitters…

* Politifact got all worked up about it and ruled it “False”

Duckworth’s deputy campaign manager Matt McGrath said in an email she was referencing a statement Kirk made in May 2013 during an interview with Fox 32 Chicago political editor Mike Flannery.

Kirk told Flannery: “My top priority is to arrest the Gangster Disciple gang, which is 18,000 people. I would like to do a mass pickup of them and put them all in the Thomson Correctional Facility. I will be proposing this to the assembled federal law enforcement: ATF, DEA and FBI.”

Kirk made that statement in response to the January 2013 shooting death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, who was struck in the back by a stray bullet during a gang-related shooting on Chicago’s south side.

The Gangster Disciples is an African-American gang from the city’s south side and has an estimated 18,000 members, though its membership could be as high as 30,000, according to the Chicago Crime Commission’s press officer John Pastuovic.

The statement drew criticism from the media as well as from Kirk’s colleagues in Congress, including U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill, who called the proposal an “upper middle class elitist white boy solution to a problem he knows nothing about.”

But Kirk acknowledged in July 2013 that his plan to arrest every member of the Gangster Disciples was “not actually that practical.”

Still, not only does Duckworth’s tweet take what Kirk said out of context, it also implies he supported the general mass arrest of 18,000 African-Americans, even though Kirk never mentioned race or used the term “African-Americans” during his interview with Fox 32 Chicago.

* From a Sun-Times editorial

More troubling in recent weeks, to our thinking, have been a couple of scurrilous accusations by Democratic Senate candidate Tammy Duckworth against her Republican opponent, incumbent Sen. Mark Kirk. If we ever thought Duckworth might be above cheap shots, we know better now.

Duckworth loaded the two false accusations into a single tweet on June 8: “Kirk, who called for the mass arrest of 18,000 African Americans, was apparently fine w/ Trump’s #StillTooRacist call for mass deportation.”

Did Kirk in fact call for the arrest of 18,000 African-Americans? No.

Is it true Kirk has no objection to Trump’s call for the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants? Also not true.

Your thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      

(Almost) open thread

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2016

* Oscar got a haircut last week and today is my turn. I also have some errands to run, so blogging will be light to nonexistent until about 3 this afternoon.

Talk amongst yourselves, but let’s keep the conversation focused on Illinois and far away from the national convention and national politics. There are plenty of other posts on here for that.


- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      

Question of the day

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2016

* A buddy of mine in Cleveland for the GOP convention just sent me this photo he took outside the event to honor Gov. Rauner “in absentia”

* The Question: Caption?

- Posted by Rich Miller   65 Comments      

AFSCME denies ever saying what it’s accused of saying

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2016

* Yesterday, we talked about an op-ed written by John Terranova, who is Gov. Rauner’s Deputy Director of the CMS Office of Labor Relations. Terranova explained his op-ed in a letter to state employees

In it, I correct AFSCME’s erroneous statement that employees who refuse to join the union at the picket line and remain at work become “at will,” a term reserved for a limited group of state employees who can be terminated without just cause. AFSCME’s claim is wrong. AFSCME employees continue to receive the same job protections even if they remain on the job and refuse to join the union on the picket line.

* AFSCME’s Anders Lindall responded today…

Rich –

We can’t imagine where John Terranova came up with the supposed “erroneous statements” alleged in his email and letter and wrongly attributed to us. AFSCME Council 31 has never published anything like these statements, nor are they accurate.

Terranova’s criticism of what he calls “AFSCME’s irresponsible strike talk” is likewise misplaced. Anyone paying attention knows that it’s Governor Rauner who boasted on the campaign trail that he’d force a strike and shut down state government, it’s Rauner who walked away from negotiations more than six months ago, and it’s Rauner who twice vetoed the fair arbitration bill we supported to prevent a strike and instead allow a neutral third party to help settle our differences.

Just as surely, anyone paying attention knows that AFSCME has repeatedly urged the administration to return to the bargaining table and join us in working toward an agreement that’s fair to all.


- Posted by Rich Miller   77 Comments      

Today’s number: 15 children under 10

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2016

* AP

[Chicago] Police records through the end of June showed 15 children younger than 10 years old had been shot, which is seven more young shooting victims than the same span last year.

* A few of the victims

- Six-year-old Jaylene Bermeo was drawing with sidewalk chalk on the evening of June 6 in the Logan Square neighborhood on the city’s northwest side when she was shot in the back, the bullet puncturing her lung and lodging near her heart. Police say a 17-year-old boy accidentally shot the girl when he opened fire on rival gang members as he drove down the block.

- Three-year-old Devon Quinn was with his dad on Father’s Day in a car in the Woodlawn neighborhood on the South Side when someone pulled up and fired at least 10 shots at the vehicle. Prosecutors say the gunman was a gang member who opened fire in a rival gang’s territory to pay tribute to a dead member of his own gang. At a court hearing, prosecutors said the boy was left paralyzed from the chest down and that he will never be able to move his limbs or even breathe on his own.

- Five-year-old Taniyah Williams and her 8-year-old cousin, Corey Bondurant, were playing with sparklers on the evening of July 4 in the West Englewood neighborhood on the South Side when someone sprayed the area with bullets. Taniyah was struck in the leg, as were a 19-year-old woman and a 30-year-old man. After the commotion, relatives discovered that 8-year-old Corey was also shot in the leg.

So far, luckily, none have been killed.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - Opinion posted *** Independent Maps amendment ruled unconstitutional

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2016

*** UPDATE ***  To read today’s opinion in its entirety, click here.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* No matter what happened today, this thing has always been destined for the Illinois Supreme Court

In a written opinion, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Diane Larsen said it violated the state constitution on two grounds. First, it exceeds the constitution’s requirement that citizen-led constitutional amendment proposals be limited to “structural and procedural” changes to the Illinois General Assembly. Larsen also ruled that it violates the constitution’s provision that amendments be limited to a single topic.

* Reboot also posted the final page of the ruling. Click the pic for a larger image

…Adding… From the ILGOP…

“Hundreds of thousands of citizens petitioned to put the Independent Map Amendment on the ballot. Instead of supporting the chance to vote for fair maps, Mike Madigan’s allies sued to stop voters from having the opportunity to vote for reform. It’s sad to see that Mike Madigan’s Democratic Party would rather deny voters their voice than face fair, competitive elections.

It’s more clear than ever that Illinois needs major political reform. While we expect this legal battle to continue, there is nothing preventing the legislature from passing fair maps and term limits. It’s time for reform-minded Democrats and Republicans to work together to get it done.” – Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Steven Yaffe

…Adding More… Press release…

Independent Maps Chairman Dennis FitzSimons’ statement about today’s Cook County Circuit Court ruling:

“We are disappointed that Judge Larsen has ruled against the Independent Map Amendment and the 564,000 Illinois residents who signed a petition to change a broken system and eliminate the inherent conflict of interest where politicians draw their own legislative districts. We expected from the beginning of this effort that the issue would ultimately be decided by the Illinois Supreme Court. We will file for an expedited appeal to the State’s highest court.

“A great deal of care went into crafting an amendment that follows constitutional guidelines while also creating a system that is independent, fair, transparent, and protects the ability of minority communities to elect candidates of their choosing. Redistricting reform was specifically addressed by the framers of our constitution as a ‘critical’ area for citizen petition initiatives. We believe that the Illinois Supreme Court will side with Illinois voters and not deny citizens the opportunity to vote on this amendment.“

* And…

Governor Bruce Rauner issued the following statement on a Cook County judge’s decision regarding the redistricting referendum on the November ballot:

“Today’s ruling is a harsh reminder that the political system in Illinois is in need of major reforms. I hope the decision to deny voters the chance to consider the Independent Map redistricting referendum is appealed and reversed.

“Independent redistricting is badly needed in our state. A stunning two-thirds of incumbents will be running unopposed in November. That’s certainly not because the politicians in charge are doing such a good job in Springfield. It means the system is broken.

“Legislators in power could have placed the Independent Maps referendum directly on the ballot and avoided this court decision. Instead, they chose to play politics in an effort to protect their own power.

“That is wrong.

“We have it backwards in Illinois. Voters should be able to choose their elected officials through an independently-drawn map that ensures competitive elections. Instead, we have politicians choosing their voters, putting politics ahead of people.

“Independent Maps has strong support from both Democrats and Republicans. It has strong support from non-partisan good government groups. So this ruling is a definitely a setback for the people of Illinois.

“If this decision remains in place, it will prove that we need to put political reform at the top of our legislative agenda. We need to fix our broken political system to ensure taxpayers win instead of the insiders.”

…Adding Still More… Press release from today’s winners…

The Circuit Court’s decision represents a victory for democracy and minority rights. This unconstitutional amendment would put a tremendous amount of authority in the hands of unelected middlemen unaccountable to the taxpayers. Shifting the authority to draw the legislative map from 178 elected officials to 11 people randomly selected or appointed by legislative leaders does not make the process “independent,” rather it removes the ability for voters to have a voice. A group of unelected mapmakers is accountable to no one for the decisions it makes, has no reason to protect minority voters and minority communities, and faces no consequences for failing to give those protections.

Minority groups have spent decades fighting to ensure our voices are heard, and that hard work would be in jeopardy if this amendment were to become law. Any effort to weaken minority rights harms us all and should be seen as nothing more than a major setback in what has been accomplished for minority rights in Illinois. As politicians throughout the country try to make it more difficult for minorities to vote, we should ensure any movement like this is carefully examined.

The proponents of Independent Map claimed their proposal would put the map back in the hands of the voters, but nothing is further from the truth. The current process allows those unhappy with the redistricting process to express their displeasure at the ballot box.

John Hooker


People’s Map

…Adding… Press release…

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno, on the Independent Map ruling today:

    “Unfortunately, I am not shocked. This is a Circuit Court opinion out of Cook County – a very political system. I look forward to a fresh set of eyes at the next level of juridical review. The people of Illinois are demanding change – but the powers that be continue to frustrate their efforts to reform our system. We cannot continue to be stuck with the status quo in Illinois.”

Background on the judge is here.

…Adding… Another one…

“Today’s ruling by a Cook County Circuit Court Judge is an unfortunate win for the status quo in Illinois. I am disappointed for the 546,000 registered Republican and Democratic voters who felt strongly enough to sign their support for a ballot initiative that would remove politics from the remap process. I am hopeful the Illinois Supreme Court will reverse this decision.”

- House Republican Leader Jim Durkin

…Adding… Greg Hinz

[Independent Maps Chairman Dennis FitzSimons], in a phone interview, suggested that the judge created what amounted to a dilemma for voters in her ruling.

The judge “accepted or position in general that remap is a structural and procedural subject” and thus can be dealt with by voters, he said. But she delivered “a interpretation that would make it almost impossible to pass any constitutional amendment” on this subject.

Fortunately, the Supreme Court may start all over in examining the issue, FitzSimons concluded. But, “If this stands, it will be almost impossible for voters to change their own constitution.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   115 Comments      

Sandack temporarily shuts down three of his four social media accounts

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2016

* I’ve been getting a lot of calls, e-mails and texts asking me if I know why Rep. Ron Sandack has apparently deleted both of his Twitter accounts and his personal Facebook account. His official Facebook account is still active, however.

Sandack is one of the most active users of social media in all of Illinois politics, so I reached out to him the other day. Here’s our text chat via MightyText…

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      

Crossing the line?

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2016

* From a reader…

Hey Rich…

Check out the attached taxpayer-funded legislative mailing I received in the mail yesterday from my State Rep. Scott Drury. While all these types of mailings are arguably taxpayer-funded campaign mailings disguised as “information,” I have never seen one so cavalier in not even attempting to disguise itself as informative. It provides no value to the constituent and simply touts Scott Drury. It truly is campaigning on the taxpayers’ dime.

And I actually think, despite his reputation, that he is a decent legislator, but this is a very troubling mail piece.

Needless to say, if you choose to use this, please do not associate it with me — I have redacted my name and address from the mailing.

* Judge for yourself…

The address and phone number match up to his official legislative contacts.

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      

Today’s quotables

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2016

* Tribune

Illinois Republican Chairman Tim Schneider had the honors of casting the Illinois’ delegation vote at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night, hailing an absent Gov. Bruce Rauner, and leading chants of “Woo” and “Trump.”

“I’m a proud citizen of the state of Illinois and the United States of America and we have the finest governor in our nation in Gov. Bruce Rauner,” said Schneider, a Cook County commissioner who was picked for the state GOP job by Rauner.

Rauner is absent from the convention and aides have said he is not “formally endorsing” Trump, though the governor has called himself the leader of his party and has urged support for the GOP ticket. […]

Schneider then engaged in an uncharacteristic Ronnie “Woo Woo” Wickers-style impression, chanting “woo, woo, woo” and then began shouting “Trump, Trump, Trump,” before his microphone was cut off.

…Adding… Raw video including the “woo woow” is here.

* From WTTW’s interview of Sen. Mark Kirk

I thought about going to the convention and the thought of spending a week in Cleveland with a bunch of Republicans shouting “Trump, Trump, Trump” – it sounded better for me to actually be in Illinois.

Hat tip: Tom Corfman.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      

Let’s not get too excited, please

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2016

* Tribune editorial

University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen has delivered excellent news: He’ll recommend a freshman tuition freeze for an unprecedented third year in a row. Killeen credits the tuition freeze with helping spur an overall increase in applications (up 13 percent) and acceptances, particularly from Illinois students.

That freeze is “dynamite in terms of not just letting parents know what they are getting into but also improving our competitive position vis-a-vis other states,” Killeen told us during a visit to the Tribune Editorial Board.

Dynamite? You bet.

Name a dozen other major state universities — heck, any universities — holding the line on tuition year after year.

OK, but not mentioned is that the U of I has the second highest undergrad tuition of any public school in the Big 10.

They have a long way to go before this is “dynamite” news.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

Let’s wait a while before jumping to conclusions

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2016

* CBS 2

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told the Illinois GOP delegation at the Republican National Convention he expects Trump to return during the campaign, even though a highly-touted campaign rally at the University of Illinois at Chicago was canceled in March in the face of raucous protests and clashes between anti- and pro-Trump crowds.

Trump did return to Illinois a few days after the aborted Chicago rally to campaign downstate, but hasn’t been back for any public events since the March 15 primary.

Lewandowski said Trump has created new battleground states where Republicans have had little success in recent presidential elections.

“There’s an opportunity that we haven’t had in this country since 1984, in my opinion, and that’s to put states in play that Republicans don’t win anymore; and if you look at a state like Pennsylvania, and a state like Ohio, and Michigan, and places where Republicans have given up, even places like California – like the polls today said Trump is down three points in a state like Michigan – it’s unheard of,” he said.

Actually, it’s very much “heard of.”

* In mid-July of 2008, one Michigan pollster had Barack Obama ahead of John McCain by a mere 2 points. Obama went on to win the state by 16.4 points.

Around this time in July of 2012, a Michigan pollster had Mitt Romney actually leading Obama by a point. Obama won by 9.5

* Now, this isn’t to say that Trump will lose Michigan. I have no idea. Hillary Clinton is yet again running as a cautious incumbent in an environment that does not love cautious incumbents.

But what I do know is that early presidential polling is notoriously weird. You may remember early June of 1992, when Bill Clinton was polling in third place nationally behind President George HW Bush and Ross Perot, who was leading the pack at the time. That lead didn’t last.

We have to wait until after both conventions are finished and voters have had some time to process things before the polls start to make sense.

* And Illinois? Please. I thought Lewandowski works for CNN now. He’s sure not talking like an analyst.

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      

Rauner, Radogno to be honored “in absentia”

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2016

* From the twitters…

Um, no.

* From Rauner’s spokesman…

I’d refer you to his public schedule which indicates he will be in Park Ridge signing legislation. That’s where he will be

* Daily public schedule…

Daily Public Schedule: Wednesday, July 20, 2016

What: Governor Tours Advocate Lutheran General Hospital and Signs Legislation Expanding Coverage for Breast Cancer Screenings
Where: Advocate Lutheran General Hospital Center for Advanced Care – First Floor
1700 Luther Ln., Park Ridge
Date: Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Time: 12:00 p.m.​

* From a GOP campaign official…

I think there was also an event honoring Radogno in absentia

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      

Will Chicago’s old post office finally be renovated?

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2016

* Fran Spielman

The vacant Old Main Post Office that hovers over the Eisenhower Expressway is about to be converted from a dilapidated civic embarrassment into a bevy of construction activity.

Five months after Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s bold threat to seize control of the giant hulk, the city has reached a court-approved agreement with its new owner, 601W Companies LLC, to begin a five-year, $500 million renovation and restoration. […]

Strict and staggered deadlines have been set through 2018 to correct more than 20 code violations cited by the city since 2012. The work also will include: replacing the building’s massive roof; restoring its historic lobby; repairing building facades; new high-speed elevators; and overhauling the electrical, plumbing, heating and ventilation systems.

Only after that nitty-gritty work is done can the decaying building be converted into commercial office space expected to house up to 12,000 people. The construction project alone is expected to take about 1,500 building trades workers.

After the three-phase renovation, it is hoped tenants will be drawn to a strategically located building with 18-foot ceilings and wide-open floor plans of up to 250,000 square feet per floor.

* From an Emanuel press release…

601W’s three-phase renovation plan will comprehensively rehabilitate the building as offices, primarily targeting commercial users attracted to the building’s 18-foot ceilings and 250,000-square-foot open floor spaces. Amenities will include a three-acre rooftop park complex and a landscaped riverwalk that will be open to the public.

An estimated 12,000 people could work in the building when fully-leased. The rehabilitation project is projected to generate more than 1,500 construction jobs. The agreement also includes requirements for minority- and women-owned business participation in the work to redevelop the facility.

“Developing the Old Post Office will bring thousands of jobs for Chicagoans and renew a building that has been neglected for decades,” Ald. Daniel Solis (25th) said. “This agreement is a significant step forward, and I look forward to continuing our progress.”

“The scheduled improvements involved significant cooperation by the City and 601W,” Department of Planning and Development Commissioner David Reifman said. “They will result in a first-class development that will benefit the entire City of Chicago,”

International Property Developers North America has also agreed to pay the City $800,000 for the violations incurred by the prior owner from 2009 to March of 2016 when it sold the property to 601W. The complex had been cited with more than 20 building code citations since 2012.

The old Post Office was designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White and built in phases from 1921 to 1932. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it has been vacant since the city’s main post office operations relocated in 1995.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      

A “binary choice,” except when it isn’t

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2016

* Public radio

While Trump has his steadfast supporters, there also are dyed-in-the-wool Republicans who are still struggling to get behind him.

Like U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, who says he’s been left with a “binary choice.” There’s Hillary Clinton, who he says is an “entirely unacceptable candidate” for President of the United States.

“That makes the alternative then, Donald Trump,” he said. “And so all of the sorts of feelings and things, you know, and the wincing at various comments … I feel those too. Like I said, I’m not here over-communicating and overselling. What I am saying is there’s a choice between these two people.”

Even though he admits this is an either/or “binary choice,” Roskam hasn’t fully committed to backing Trump.

* Mark Kirk, meanwhile, has flip-flopped on his meaningless write-in candidate preference

Kirk, a first-term senator facing a difficult contest against Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, had been backing retired Gen. David Petraeus, the former CIA director who pleaded guilty to mishandling classified information.

Mocked by Duckworth’s campaign over the choice, Kirk told WJBC radio in Bloomington on Wednesday that he’s now backing former secretary of state and retired Gen. Colin Powell.

“I’ve switched out Petraeus now that Colin, being much more experienced at the national level, is the better way to go,” Kirk told the radio station.

Kirk acknowledged a vote for Powell wouldn’t count since write-in candidates must register with the state to be counted.

“He wouldn’t count, yeah. Just kind of a protest vote for me and I think Donald Trump is too bigoted and too racist for the Land of Lincoln,” said Kirk, who had pledged to support the nominee before rescinding his pledge over Trump’s remarks critical of a judge of Hispanic heritage.

Good on that radio host for pointing out that voting for an unregistered write-in has no real world impact whatsoever.

* In related news, Congressman Adam Kinzinger said this morning that he’ll be supporting Trump after all…

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      

Durkin says Trump could help him, but he still won’t commit to the guy

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2016

* Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin is in Cleveland mainly to raise money

Republican Illinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin says he is not in Cleveland to attend the Republican National Convention. Instead, he’s here to raise money–gobs of it–with the goal of pouring it into contested House races and chipping away at House Speaker Michael Madigan’s Democratic supermajority. […]

Durkin says that Trump’s name at the top of the ticket could help down-ballot Republicans with their races for the state House, especially in rural areas of Illinois.

“There’s areas where Donald Trump is very strong. Regions like Southern Illinois, the collar counties. That’s going to help our candidates. We have a lot of races we’re investing in downstate and Central Illinois. The suburbs will be a bit of a challenge though. That’s where Donald Trump is having a tough time connecting with Republican voters,” Durkin said.

Trump indeed could be a drag on the Republican ticket in urban and suburban areas of the state, and in statewide races. Illinois has voted for the Democratic candidate for president in every election since 1992. With this in mind, Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk has rejected Trump and decided to stay away from the Republican National Convention in order to fortify his image as an independent moderate. […]

Durkin says that if Republicans can pick up a handful of seats and deny Madigan a supermajority, it might force the speaker to the table to accept more of Rauner’s “turnaround” agenda in exchange for a long-term budget agreement. Then again, it could embolden the speaker to double down and try and help defeat Rauner for re-election in 2018.

* Durkin did, however, attend the convention yesterday and was present for the roll call

Durkin was on floor of the convention arena as the roll call of delegates continued. Trump supporters were cheering around him. Durkin says he welcomes Trump supporters, wants the party to expand, he knows that’s necessary to make any political gains.

But Durkin couldn’t commit to backing his party’s nominee.

“I want to get there. I need to hear more,” he said. “This is a very personal decision for me, to vote for a man or woman for President of the United States.”

Durkin did say that Trump has brought new people to the Illinois Republican Party, and he’s hoping they’re as passionate about helping elect Republican state representatives as they are about Trump.

Um, OK. He won’t commit to Trump, but wants Trump voters to commit to his candidates.

* Related…

* Rauner still needs Trump, despite differences

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      

*** LIVE COVERAGE *** Republican National Convention

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2016

* Start to finish with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      

* React to Rauner vetoes
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Rauner vetoes several union-backed bills
* This just in... Illinois Supreme Court accepts direct appeal of remap case
* Social service providers claim administration has "unchecked discretion" over paying off old contracts
* GOP poll: Kirk and Duckworth essentially tied, Clinton leads by 14
* Today's quotable
* The Roger Ailes connection to Illinois
* Even more editorial support for the Independent Map Amendment
* Question of the day
* Today in Illinois history
* *** LIVE COVERAGE *** Rauner education press conference
* Trump's best point of the night
* Mrs. Rauner appears to support Turnaround Agenda strategy
* Caption contest!
* Adding some context to Rauner's e-mail diatribe
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Oh, this ought to be good
* Rauner apologizes for making "unfair, untrue" comments in old e-mail
* Yesterday's blog posts

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