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Debate open thread

Thursday, Oct 6, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Feel free to use this thread to comment on tonight’s gubernatorial debate.


Gannett confirms it’s printing Proft’s papers

Thursday, Oct 6, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Jem Bartholomew at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism in the Columbia Journalism Review

Tow Center reporting shows that LGIS—as well as the Epoch Times—is currently a commercial printing client of Gannett, the nation’s largest local news publisher. […]

The [Daily Herald] owner “took million[s] of dollars in payments from LGIS over a seven-year period to publish and distribute the chain’s newspapers,” an LGIS paper wrote, which Paddock did not deny in emails to the Tow Center. Paddock canceled LGIS’s contract in September—a spokesperson said it would formalize its commercial screening process, add publishing disclaimers in sensitive cases, and strengthen the commercial/editorial separation—but defended the need to diversify revenue amid a “historic downturn” in local news. But Proft, on Twitter, didn’t seem fazed by Paddock canceling LGIS’s contract. The papers had already found a new publisher, he said.

Gannett, the nation’s largest local newspaper chain, is still printing LGIS content. LGIS “are a commercial print client,” a Gannett spokesperson said by email. The Epoch Times, which has been labeled “a leading purveyor of right-wing misinformation” by the New York Times, is also a commercial client. Asked directly whether printing these papers ran counter to an online Gannett mission statement “to serve as a forum for better understanding and unity to help make the USA truly one nation,” the spokesperson said: “We do not discuss our clients and have no further comment.”

LGIS “are a commercial print client,” a Gannett spokesperson said by email. The Epoch Times, which has been labeled “a leading purveyor of right-wing misinformation” by the New York Times, is also a commercial client. Asked directly whether printing these papers ran counter to an online Gannett mission statement “to serve as a forum for better understanding and unity to help make the USA truly one nation,” the spokesperson said: “We do not discuss our clients and have no further comment.”

* Illinois newspapers owned by Gannett

• Canton Daily Ledger
• The Journal Standard, Freeport
• The Register-Mail, Galesburg
• Star Courier, Kewanee
• Lincoln Courier
• The McDonough County Voice, Macomb
• Pekin Daily Times
• Peoria Journal Star
• Pontiac Daily Leader
• Rockford Register Star
• The State Journal-Register, Springfield
• Daily Review Atlas, Monmouth
• Du Quoin Evening Call
• Olney Daily Mail
• The Carmi Times
• The Daily Republican, Marion


Question of the day

Thursday, Oct 6, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Sun-Times

In recent years, Chicago has proven its reputation as an exceptional news town — one in which residents care passionately about its future and invest in its success. Our city has become known as a hub of innovation for local news. This year alone we’ve seen a number of great examples: City Bureau’s Documenters program, which trains people to document public meetings, is expanding nationally. Block Club Chicago is building an investigative reporting team. South Side Weekly and the Hyde Park Herald merged to form a South Side–focused nonprofit newsroom.

And in January, the Chicago Sun-Times became a nonprofit newsroom as part of Chicago Public Media.

The nation is watching what happens here to see whether Chicago can be a model for how to defend and rebuild local news. And it’s all thanks to you, the people of Chicago.

Because of you, our great city has a real chance to buck the alarming trend of local news shrinking nationwide. Between late 2019 and May 2022, 360 newspapers closed in the U.S., according to a June report from the Medill School of Journalism. A quarter of the country’s newspapers have closed since 2005, the study found, with two more closing every week — and Illinois has lost the most news outlets of any state during this period. The industry has seen a 70% decline in newsroom employees since 2006. The research also shows that local news really matters. When communities lose their local news coverage, they experience more corruption, pollution and poverty, and even experience a decline in voter turnout.

As a reader of the Chicago Sun-Times, you turn to us for the news you need to thrive. For timely, accurate and fairly reported stories on the issues that matter most. For stories that celebrate and honor the members of our community, from victories on the field to remembrances of lives well lived. Our journalists care about your community because it’s our community, too. And we strongly believe that everyone in the Chicago area should have access to the news, features and investigations we produce, regardless of their ability to pay.

So today, we are dropping our paywall and making it possible for anyone to read our website for free by providing nothing more than an email address. Instead of a paywall, we are launching a donation-based digital membership program that will allow readers to pay what they can to help us deliver the news you rely on.

* The Question: Your thoughts on the Sun-Times dropping its paywall and moving to an optional contribution program?


Fun with numbers

Thursday, Oct 6, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Wall St. Journal editorial

No one thought Illinois schools were a shining beacon in the education landscape, but we didn’t know how truly awful so many of them are. A new report by Wirepoints using the state’s data shows that an epidemic of indifferent instruction and social promotion has left children unable to perform at even the most basic educational level.

Statewide, in 2019, 36% of all third grade students could read at grade level. That’s an F, and that’s the good news. That number drops to 27% for Hispanic students and 22% for black students statewide. In certain public school systems, the numbers plummet to single digits. In Decatur, 2% of black third-graders are reading at grade level and only 1% are doing math at grade level.

We aren’t often speechless, but the extent to which that performance is betraying a generation of schoolchildren is hard to put into words. Third grade children are eight years old, full of potential with minds like sponges to absorb what they are taught. Third grade is the year that children need to achieve a level of reading fluency that will prepare them to tackle more complex tasks in upper elementary grades that require comprehension.

A child who can’t read in third grade can’t do word problems in fourth or science experiments in fifth. Promoting Decatur children to the fourth grade when 99% are below grade level in math condemns them to future failure. By 11th grade, 5% of Decatur’s students are reading at grade level and 4% are on par in math. Why shouldn’t every single adult presiding over the Decatur schools be fired?

* I reached out to the administration for a response. From the Illinois State Board of Education…

For decades, Illinois ranked worst in the nation for funding education, and Gov. Pritzker is reversing that travesty. This uninformed article is clearly a politically motivated attack that uses bad data analysis to try to bash Illinois public schools. Looking at proficiency alone, and looking at performance in a vacuum, is an uneducated and uninformed way to examine student achievement and school performance, and most education experts agree that measuring growth in performance is key to understanding school improvement.

* Background…

• Illinois’ scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress – the gold standard of the nation’s report card – held steady across all grades and subjects from 2017 to 2019 while 31 states saw their scores drop in 8th grade reading and 17 states saw their scores drop in 4th grade reading.
• Up until 2018, Illinois had the most regressive funding system in the nation, in which the poorest school districts had the least funding to educate their students. Gov. Pritzker has invested more than $1.2 billion into increasing funding for Evidence-Based Funding since taking office.
• The funding gaps prior to Gov. Pritzker taking office were so severe that even with these increases in funding, eight out of 10 students in Illinois still attend underfunded schools.
• In FY 2019, which is the year the author focuses on, the three school districts the author highlights – Decatur, Rockford, and Chicago – were among the least funded school districts in the state. They were all Tier 1 districts – the most starved for resources that respectively had only 64%, 61%, and 64% of the funding they needed to provide a basic standard of education to their students.
• In each of these districts, more than two-thirds of students come from poverty, with learning and development gaps that start in utero. Each of these districts in 2019 achieved student growth in English language arts above the 40th percentile.
• Illinois has some of the most rigorous learning standards in the nation: ranking fourth most rigorous for 4th grade reading and fifth most rigorous for 8th grade reading. In Illinois, a student needs to earn a level of 4 or 5 to be considered proficient. In comparison, the rigor of Florida’s standards ranks 39th and 42nd, respectively, and a student only needs to earn a level 3 on the state assessment to be considered proficient.

Emphasis added.


Campaign notebook

Thursday, Oct 6, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I posted this story from Center Square a few days ago

In Minnesota politics, state-level candidates and political action committees have received $95.9 million in total donations between Jan. 1, 2021, and July 18, 2022. The 10 largest donors gave more than $9.4 million, or 10 percent of all contributions.

The contributor list had Gov. JB Pritzker at the very top with more than $2 million. Ballotpedia and Transparency USA compiled this list.

Pritzker was asked about this by Brian Mackey. His response

Let me correct just a factual error: That report about Minnesota? Not true. I was curious myself when I heard about that — like, no, that’s not something I did, what is that? But it is not a contribution that I made in Minnesota.

So, what the heck is going on? I reached out to Pritzker’s spokesperson…

He gave $2 million to the victory fund, which is headquartered in Minnesota, but is used for all DGA races.

* Meanwhile, when I posted AG Raoul’s first TV ad the other day, some folks wondered what abortion-related case was in the court system “right now,” as Raoul claimed. The case is Illinois Baptist State Association, et al. v. Illinois Department of Insurance. The Thomas More Society filed it

The Thomas More Society filed a lawsuit on June 10, 2020 against the State of Illinois, challenging a 2019 law requiring all health insurance policies sold in the state to provide coverage for elective chemical and surgical abortions, with no exemptions, even for churches.

The complaint was filed in the Sangamon County Circuit Court on behalf of the Illinois Baptist State Association, the Southland Smiles dental practice and its owner and a freight company and its owner. The lawsuit charges the state with abuses of the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act in relation to the abortion insurance mandate. The lawsuit charges that Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, the Department of Insurance, and its director, Robert Muriel, have refused to protect the plaintiffs’ sincerely held religious beliefs, which forbid them from funding and providing coverage for elective abortions.

* The thing I like the most about Raoul’s Republican opponent is he’s always so subtle and understated…

Come see us tonight

Posted by Thomas DeVore on Thursday, October 6, 2022

*The rest of these excerpts are from Isabel*

* Giannoulias and Brady made their case to the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board

On Wednesday, Giannoulias said he “respectfully” disagrees with Brady’s plans for improving the office, which prioritize additional staffing and training to cut down in-person wait times at driver’s services facilities.

A former state treasurer, Giannoulias said better technology is needed to improve the office’s online services. He said he would create an app for secretary of state services, build more robust online driver services scheduling options and offer digital driver’s licenses to reduce fraud and make the system more convenient to use. […]

In response, Brady maintained that it’s more immediately realistic for the office to streamline operations through cross-training and additional staffing, which would help “from a budgetary standpoint.”

“And that comes from not just my ideas and people across the state, that comes from listening to people who actually are in the secretary of state’s office saying, ‘You want to help us? You want to help us help the people better? Do these types of things first,’” said Brady, a state representative from Bloomington.

* Capitol News Illinois’ SOS race coverage

Giannoulias said he’d look to create a mobile app, and by driving many services online he’d cut down foot traffic at facilities “anywhere from 50 to 70 percent.” That would allow the office to retrain some driver services employees to serve as “office advocates” to help individuals through the system, especially seniors and individuals with disabilities. […]

He’d also look to implement a “skip-the-line” program to allow driver services visitors to pre-register, arrive at a specified time and move to the front of the line. He’d also explore digital IDs and driver licenses, creating kiosks at driver facilities, and creating pop-up offices at libraries and community colleges. He’d also consider implementing online vision tests if it’s proven it can be done safely.

Brady has his own long list of initiatives, including moving things online, using libraries and community colleges as satellite sites, maximizing staff training and capabilities, and making the SOS website more user friendly.

“We’re talking about streamlining things that can be done within hours … versus, as I said, the several weeks to months that’s taking right now,” Brady said, later adding, “What we’re missing here is someone who’s going to take the bull by the horns and get the project done.


To gather a sense of the arguments for and against [Amendment 1], the Illinois Associated Press Media Editors convened an online forum with Joe Bowen, communications director for a Vote Yes for Workers Rights, the only organized political committee campaigning on the issue. They also spoke with Mailee Smith, director of labor policy and a staff attorney with the Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative think tank that opposes the measure. […]

“The workers’ rights amendment will guarantee your fundamental rights in the workplace to organize and bargain collectively with your coworkers to negotiate for things like better pay, safer working conditions, and crucially, it will also protect Illinois voters from politicians who try to take away their rights in the future,” Bowen said.[…]

Smith, on the other hand, asserted that the amendment would apply only to public-sector workers because private-sector workers are already covered by the National Labor Relations Act, which would supersede any state law or state constitutional provision.

As a result, she argued that it would drive up local property taxes by giving public employee unions power to negotiate a broader range of issues, including “economic welfare,” which isn’t defined in the amendment or other state law. […]

* Scott Holland

Does it matter that Catalina Lauf believes schools have litter boxes for students who identify as cats? […]

Of course it’s a hoax. Obviously. We know this because we understand basic government operations: litter boxes for humans are unsanitary and would violate public health and building codes. Furthermore, do you know any high school students? The vast majority have smartphones and social media accounts. When some kid pulls a fire alarm the whole town knows within 30 minutes.

Lauf either won’t accept reality and doesn’t grasp the amount of mockery invited by repeating such an absurdity or is willing to endure scorn because of the return on the investment of signaling to her base. She tried to pivot Monday by directing conversation toward other issues where public schools and gender identity overlap, arenas where she might have influence if elected because they involve at least kernels of truth.

But this type of language most certainly does matter. We have either someone willing to lie to get elected or someone who speaks before confirming the truth. Neither bodes well for long-term governance, but also consider the rhetorical implications. The credibility of the candidate is at stake, and by extension her supporters. When you go banging about on something so demonstrably false, why should any of your other concerns be taken seriously?

* The Center Square

The major party candidates for Illinois treasurer are sounding off on public investments in so-called ESG rated companies. […]

Incumbent Democratic Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs, who controls $52 billion in public investments for the state, said such companies are worth investing in. […]

Republican treasurer candidate state Rep. Tom Demmer said such investment strategies bring unnecessary risks. […]

Illinois law Freichs championed and Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed in 2019 that took effect in 2020 encourages public investments in ESG companies.

* Press release from Sen. Laura Ellman, and Reps. Yang Rohr and Costa Howard…

Today, Moms Demand Action and Gun Violence Prevention PAC (G-PAC) attended a rally with elected officials, community members and activists reinforcing the need for elected officials who will keep the suburbs safe.
The groups demonstrated their support of state Sen. Laura Ellman (D-Naperville), state Rep. Janet Yang Rohr (D-Naperville) and state Rep. Terra Costa Howard (D-Glen Ellyn) during the event, citing the fact that guns are a public health and safety issue in Illinois, where guns are the leading cause of death among children and teens and where 61% of gun related deaths are homicides.

“Gun violence has had a tragic toll on communities across Illinois, from what feels like everyday violence on Chicago’s South and West sides and other urban communities to mass shootings in Highland Park, Aurora and more. This November, we must take a stand and vote for candidates that will prioritize protecting public safety and reducing gun violence,” said Kathleen Sances, President and CEO of G-PAC. “We are confident that our endorsed candidates like Sen. Ellman, Rep. Yang Rohr and Rep. Costa Howard will work to advance our mission of creating a safer Illinois.”

Ellman, Yang Rohr and Costa Howard helped pass legislation that bans ghost guns in Illinois and expands background checks on all gun sales through changes to the firearm owners identification (FOID) card application process. These laws are meant to curtail illegal gun sales and ownership while reducing gun violence.

“Voters must elect candidates this November who will prioritize our safety and who are willing to make an unwavering commitment to getting guns off of our streets,” said Leslie Ruffing, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action. “Sen. Ellman, Rep. Yang Rohr and Rep. Costa Howard are candidates that have consistently demonstrated their support of gun reform legislation and investing in public safety.”

Sen. Ellman, Rep. Yang Rohr and Rep. Costa Howard have helped secure over $250 million for public safety, violence prevention, victim protections, and mental health resources. All three candidates have received an A+ rating on the Gun Violence Prevention Action Committee’s 2021 Gun Safety Report Card and support common sense and life-saving policies like a ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, which a majority of suburban voters approve of (according to a recent WGN poll) and are central tenets of the gun violence prevention movement’s 2023 legislative agenda.

“We must take a comprehensive approach to combat gun violence in our neighborhoods by focusing on legislation that discourages gun ownership and investing in mental health and early intervention programs that will make our communities safer,” Ellman said. “I have supported and will continue to support efforts to reduce gun violence.”

“Gun violence is unnecessary and preventable,” Yang Rohr said. “As a state representative, I will continue to introduce and support legislation that will reduce gun violence and irresponsible gun ownership.”

“I have voted for every bill that could help to reduce gun violence in Illinois – even when my support for reasonable gun laws has made me a target for extremist gun owners across the country,” said Costa Howard. “I believe that reasonable, responsible gun safety laws can save lives, and I will keep on standing up for every person’s right to live without fear of gun violence. It’s time to make our voices heard.”

Ellman, Costa Howard and Yang Rohr are endorsed by G-PAC and have earned the Gun Sense Candidate distinction from Moms Demand Action. State Sen. Laura Ellman is running for re-election in Illinois’ 21st State Senate District. State Rep. Yang Rohr is running for re-election in Illinois House District 41, and State Rep. Terra Costa Howard is running for re-election in Illinois House District 42.

* More…

* Gubernatorial debate at Illinois State needed many hands to come together: Months of planning and coordinating logistics, from building a stage to feeding workers, will culminate Thursday night at Illinois State University as the state’s two gubernatorial candidates meet for their first debate.

* Sen. Glowiak Hilton invites young women to apply for legislative opportunity: State Senator Suzy Glowiak Hilton is encouraging high-school aged girls to apply to the 2022 Illinois Council on Women and Girls. Participants will have the opportunity to learn the legislative process firsthand. “Young women today are growing up in a different world. It’s important for legislators to listen to the voices and concerns of these girls as we make our way forward in these new times,” said Sen. Glowiak Hilton (D-Western Springs). “This is a wonderful opportunity for high-schoolers who have a passion for civic engagement and want their voices to be heard.”

* Parties Invest Less In Elmhurst State Lawmaker Race: In 2020, hundreds of thousands in donations poured into the campaigns of Republican state Rep. Deanne Mazzochi and her Democratic opponent, Jennifer Zordani. The Elmhurst-based district was seen as a battleground. Then, Mazzochi received 54 percent of the vote. For the 2022 election, the two parties have invested less in the local race. has received her usual donations from business-related political action committees, with the state Realtors group topping the others with $10,000, according to state Board of Elections reports. The House Republican Majority has contributed $2,500 to Mazzochi in the last couple of months, a low number that indicates the party’s confidence in her.


Pritzker talks pensions

Thursday, Oct 6, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From Brian Mackey’s interview with Gov. Pritzker

Q: The pension liability still remains large and looming. Do you see any long-term changes that need to be made or or possible to make in that regard — beyond what’s already been done?

A: To be clear you can’t take care of your pension problem until you balance your budget, and we’ve been doing that. We’ve got to continue to balance our budget. This is not just a one time thing. Every year, we’ve got to make sure we’re actually paying the bills and balancing the budget. Then, in the wake of that, you can ask yourself: What should we do if we have surpluses? Should we put more money into our pension systems? Are there changes that we can make in the pension systems? I believe that if you paid into the pension system, and you were promised a pension, you should get that pension. The question is: How’s the state going to live up to that? And we’ve been slowly but surely increasing the percentage of funding of our pension system since I came into office. It’s been a goal of mine.

We increased a program that Mark Batinick, a Republican state representative, introduced before I came into office — that was a pilot program; I increased it to make sure that it’s open to everybody — and that’s to have your pension bought out by the state. You can get your money up front, and it’s less costly to the state. That’s just one of the things that we’re doing.

Getting better returns on our investments, making sure we’re consolidating as I did with police and fire pensions across the state. Seventy-five years people have tried to do that; I did it when I came into office, and it’s saving property taxpayers across the country across the state — and will save them — billions of dollars. So a lot of work that continues to be done on our pensions, both state and local, and we need to continue. But balancing the budget is the very first and most important thing you need to do.

* Yvette Shields at the Bond Buyer catches us up on the lawsuit to stop the state’s consolidation of those local public safety pension funds

The unfunded liabilities of Illinois’ suburban and downstate public safety pensions rose to $13 billion in the last year of compiled results reported to the state, soaring over a 29-year climb that underscores the deep strains on local government budgets.

The funded health of the public safety pension funds has tumbled over the years. In 1991, the collective ratio was at 75.65% and peaked at 77.31% in 1999. The police funds ended 2019 at 54.98% and firefighters were at 54.35%. The health of some individual funds, however, are far weaker with ratios only in the teens. […]

Kane County Circuit Court Judge Robert K. Villa in a May ruling sided with the state in his long-awaited opinion saying he could not extend the term benefits beyond the reach of prior Illinois Supreme Court cases to find the challenged legislation unconstitutional against the Pension Clause’s protections.

The plaintiffs filed their opening brief Aug. 31 and the state’s is due Friday with the plaintiffs’ reply then due Oct. 21. The appellate court will then decide whether it will grant oral argument on the case.

The case could eventually land on the desk of the Illinois Supreme Court for the final word.

They just can’t let it go.


SAFE-T Act coverage roundup

Thursday, Oct 6, 2022 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Yesterday, Republicans criticized potential property tax increases due to the SAFE-T Act. Channel 7

At the heart of the matter, Republicans said it is the unfunded mandates associated with the law. Costs that local police departments and courts will incur because of the law which could then fall on taxpayers. […]

Republicans contend that counties will have to raise property taxes to pay for some of the requirements of the law including police body cameras and the systems to store the video. They also said it will require additional personnel in the courts, sheriff’s departments and pretrial services.

DuPage County estimates that over five years, the Safe-T Act will cost $63 million to implement. […]

Democrats contend that while the reforms do come with costs, they also come with savings, including not having to process so many bonds. Democrats question the motives of the law’s opponents.

* The Daily Herald

Two Arlington Heights candidates for a state House seat have sharp disagreements on Illinois’ new criminal justice reform law, with Republican Jack Vrett saying it makes streets more dangerous and Democrat Mark Walker calling those arguments fear mongering.

Like other GOP candidates for state-level office, Vrett has made issues of public safety and crime the cornerstone of his campaign. Vrett, a labor and employment law attorney and former prosecutor running for 53rd District representative, has paid for a billboard along the Jane Addams Tollway that says he’d vote to recall Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. […]

“It will make it effectively impossible … for prosecutors to be able to convince a judge that someone should be detained before trial (in) all but the most extreme of circumstances, “Vrett said during a recent interview with a representative of the Daily Herald Editorial Board. “Judges are already supposed to take into account the economic circumstances of an individual defendant, and I certainly believe that we should not be locking people up in jail merely because they cannot afford to pay bail. But that’s not what this bill really does. This bill changes the standards to make it almost impossible for a prosecutor to actually make the case that a dangerous criminal shouldn’t walk the streets.”

Walker, the incumbent who returned to the legislature in 2019 after a previous stint from 2009 to 2011, called characterizations of the SAFE-T Act exaggeration, fearmongering and “unbelievable nonsense.” He said crimes like second-degree murder, for instance, remain detainable offenses under the legislation. And, he said, police officers do have the ability to arrest people for trespassing.

* WSIU Public Radio

At a discussion with business leaders Wednesday morning State Senator Dale Fowler said he’s confident there will be more changes to it at the next session.

“I know we’re going to be working hard for some repeals on the Safety Act, and we want to just ensure that the business climate is as well protected.” […]

Williamson County Sheriff Elect Jeff Diedrich explained that if someone is trespassing the police can not remove them, only give them a citation, which could lead to bigger problems for the property owner.

“That has a propensity for people to take matters into their own hands. We have to be very, very careful with that because we don’t want to have victims then become suspects and if things go too far, that’s exactly what can happen.”

* The Center Square

During a news conference Wednesday, state Rep. Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, said changes have to be made to the law.

“This is not the time to add to our highest in the nation overall tax burden,” Wheeler said. “The Democratic-majority SAFE-T Act is literally forcing our local governments to consider raising property taxes to make our communities less safe.” […]

The Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice disputed the claims, and said the SAFE-T Act does not require counties to raise property taxes to fund the criminal legal system.

“For the last two years, the Administrative Office of Illinois Courts has been working with stakeholders from every branch of government to ensure that counties across Illinois have the guidance and resources they need to effectively make this transition,” they said in a statement.

* Channel 2

A new bi-partisan lawsuit was filed against the Illinois’ Safe-T Act, which calls for ending cash bail in the state.

Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Haine and Madison County Sheriff John Lakin have announced they’re filing a suit against the controversial law. The suit claims that eliminating cash bail is unconstitutional, partly because it violates the victim’s rights.

The lawsuit comes after several other counties in the state filed similar suits.

* Fox Illinois

Greene County State’s Attorney Caleb Briscoe and Scott County State’s Attorney Richard Crews are the latest to file lawsuits.

The two are suing over the elimination of cash bail, which is part of the Pre-Trial Fairness Act.

Crews and Briscoe are asking for a permanent injunction of the SAFE-T Act.

They argue it’s unconstitutional, it violates the single subject rule, it violates the separation of powers clause, it’s unconstitutionally vague, and it violates the three readings of charges requirement.

* The Telegraph

In partnership with the Southern Illinois Area Police Chiefs Association, state Sen. Kris Tharp, D-Bethalto, met Tuesday with Metro East police officials to discuss their concerns with the SAFE-T Act. […]

“With my background as a law enforcement officer, my priorities as a senator remain ensuring that our communities are safe, keeping violent criminals off our streets and supporting police officers to effectively perform their duties,” said Tharp, a former Madison County deputy.

“Tuesday’s conversation was vital to addressing concerns in the SAFE-T Act, and I thank the chiefs for their participation.”

Tharp hosted Tuesday’s meeting with about 30 police officers at the Edwardsville Public Safety Building to give SIPCA members an opportunity to voice their concerns and propose changes to the SAFE-T Act. Tharp said he plans to bring their concerns to the negotiating table in Springfield.

* ILGOP press release…

The Pritzker Administration and Democratic leadership have gone into full damage control mode on the SAFE-T Act in the past few weeks with the looming elimination of cash bail going into effect on January 1st. Meanwhile, 100 of Illinois’ 102 States Attorneys have sounded alarm bells on cashless bail - including multiple Democratic States Attorneys who have filed lawsuits to stop it.

“No cash bail is no cash bail. There’s going to be so many bad actors that are not going to be subject to bond hearings or detention hearings based on the law that he has created,” said House Republican Leader Jim Durkin.

Democrats can diminish and deflect all that they want, but by no discernable metric has the law been a success. Meanwhile, we’re already seeing the disastrous effects of the elimination of cash bail in other states that have passed similar legislation. New York eliminated cash bail for most non-violent offenses in 2019. 

Since going into effect in January 2020, New York’s bail reform law has led to an unprecedented massive rise in crime, violent reoffenders, and accused criminals skipping trial. According to the New York Post in February, “Nearly every single city police precinct has seen spikes in crime so far this year — including five in which the rate has doubled.” 

As a direct result of the new bail law, 20.1% of “felony arraignments” were rearrestedin 2021, with 16.1% failing to appear at arraignment. These stats could indicate an even more grim future on the horizon for Chicago which has already seen a 37% spike in crime since this time last year.

Bizarrely, Speaker Welch is sticking by the law. “We know the SAFE-T Act will help people, it will help people,” he said as reported by NBC5 Chicago.

“I guess it’s no surprise that so many Illinois Democrat political leaders continue to support legislation that makes law enforcement more difficult, more dangerous, and more expensive. So many of their Illinois Democrat colleagues have been indicted or convicted for corruption since 2019, they’re probably very supportive of the defund, disarm and demoralize law enforcement movement and overly sympathetic to criminal defendants,” said Illinois Republican Party Chairman Don Tracy.

Seven Democratic State Lawmakers - including Speaker Madigan - and nine Chicago Aldermen have been indicted or convicted since Pritzker took office. The SAFE-T Act’s champion in the Senate, Elgie Sims, is currently facing an FBI investigation. 

Further, the SAFE-T Act is expected to lead to property tax hikes across the state as a result of unfunded mandates placed on law enforcement. 

* Rich discussed this Forest Park Review editorial with subscribers today

[Forest Park Fire Chief Phil Chiappetta] asked Ford why legislators acted so quickly and why there were not more discussions and negotiations with law enforcement before [the elimination of cash bail] was passed as part of the much broader state SAFE-T Act.

Here’s where Ford was most direct and most correct.

Cash bail has been a linchpin of systemic racism in our criminal justice system forever. It plainly punishes people who are Black and Brown and poor. It plainly favors white people of means with the ability to hire solid lawyers and raise bail readily. […]

Ford’s explanation for why the Democrats in the legislature and Gov. J.B. Pritzker pushed it through is entirely accurate and illustrative of why criminal justice must be thoroughly reformed.

“If we didn’t pass something, we wouldn’t have gotten anything from law enforcement. We wouldn’t have gotten a serious conversation,” Ford told local leaders.

Dead on.

Now with cash bail as we have known it disappearing in 90 days, prosecutors and police are eager to talk. We hope they further fine-tune this law and bend it toward justice and safety.


Greising vs. Proft

Thursday, Oct 6, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From David Greising’s September column in the Chicago Tribune

Take Paddock Publications, the publisher of the suburban newspaper Daily Herald. Its reputation is in tatters after an ill-considered decision to print the Proft mega-leaflets, which are produced by Local Government Information Services, run by conservative publisher Brian Timpone.

Proft is not limiting himself to printing broadsides on broadsheet, either. His Twitter feed deals in racist-adjacent ramblings. He refers to the Illinois’ bail-reform law, the SAFE-T Act, as “Pritzker’s Purge Law.” This invokes the “Purge” series of movies that traffic in white-nationalist, anti-immigration tropes.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who is targeted heavily in the mega-leaflets, commented on the fake papers recently. “If you look at what he’s printed, it’s clearly all about the idea that, again, what he’s printing, that Black people are threatening your way of life. That’s essentially what he’s putting in these publications,” Pritzker said.

Proft doesn’t exactly go high road in his retorts to Pritzker. In one, he references Pritzker as “JBelly.” That’s an apparent reference to Pritzker’s plus-sized build. Very classy; pure Proft.

* Proft then invited Griesing onto his radio show and, for whatever reason, Griesing took him up on the offer

Proft: So, the Will County Gazette, I just went through the stories, it’s one of my papers. Which of those stories contains falsities, misinformation, is ‘poison candy on the doorstep’?

Greising: Dan, the entire premise of the publication is what the falsehood is. It presents itself as a newspaper, when in fact, it is fair political speech. And it doesn’t abide by any of the conventions of honest journalism, i.e. balanced reporting. In its selection of stories, it distorts the news. Articles in your papers routinely imply that the SAFE-T Act provisions with regard to no cash bail are in affect right now, and in fact, we all know they are not.

Proft: It does nothing of the sort, but go ahead.

Greising: And so what I am objecting to in this column is the fact that you’re distributing really broadsheet campaign leaflets. You have every right to do that. That’s, that’s free speech in the U.S., but to do so under the pretext of something that looks and feels and nearly reads like a news organ is, I think, misleading. And therein lies the falsehoods that I referred to. And there are specific falsehoods in individual articles but I’m not going to go into the details.

Proft: No, of course not. You don’t need to when or you just can do a generic hit piece on on me personally in the papers generally, “racist adjacent” and so on and so forth. And all these standards you apply unevenly but I understand. I mean, you’re somebody who’s voted in eight Democrat primaries and zero Republican. So like most of the press corps here, we appreciate your perspective and where you’re coming from we know your politics.

But why not offer specifics so it seems to me that’s the the easiest way to prove your point so that you don’t need to be reading tea leaves and asserting implications. You can just say straight away this is something right here on the story that is inaccurate, that is misinformation. But you won’t want to do that even though you say you have specific so why not share that?

Greising: Just to take one, September 30 2022 an article by Ben Gonzalez. ‘Oh My God’ assault ad a non attainable offense under Pritzker’s Purge law. Shows the beating of a person on a train, again playing to fear and and such, in the in the text of the story it states that these provisions are in effect. And then it makes reference for authority to a Will County Gazette article that that also is just an opinion piece essentially, with regard to the Safety Act. So the story is constructed to be misleading and some of the specifics with regard to no cash bail are not accurate.

Proft: That beating, that aggravated assault, which that individual is charged is actually absolutely a non attainable offense under the SAFE-T Act which would take effect January one if it’s not enjoying and so that so that that’s absolutely the case. And that’s a conversation.

And it’s de facto in effect under Kim Foxx in Cook County, which is what we’ve been saying which I’ve been saying on the radio. We’ve been talking about this in the context of Jan one because we’ve been talking about the election in the context of the November election in the context of Jan one, this is your opportunity to get new leadership in Illinois that would try to do something about the SAFE-T Act before it takes effect. So this just specious.

Talk about talking about idiosyncratic implications when you know exactly what the entire conversation is. For me, I just had an op ed in the tribune right after yours about the SAFE-T Act, citing all these Democrat states attorneys providing chapter and verse on their problems with it as we’ve had any number of states attorneys and sheriffs on this show and elsewhere in the conversation.

That is just so disingenuous to suggest that we are suggesting something that we’re not. That it’s in effect, except de facto under Kim Foxx, when we’re arguing. We’re arguing this entire time about this being a referendum question on the November ballot.

Greising: Well, and I’m reading the way that you present these stories as disingenuous indeed. So we’re reading what you published differently because of the strong implications in your stories, that the provisions are in effect now. And they’re not and we both know that and that’s fine. You’re entitled to twist the truth in political statements. But what I think is misleading and and should not be part of the conversation is presenting this information as it is as if it is objective journalism.

Proft: There is no such thing as objective journalism. That in itself is a fraud. A fraudulent premise from which you start. Is the Sun-Times objective journalism? Is the Tribune objective journalism?

The reporters there bring nothing to the table? They are they are objective Oracle’s of truth. They have no personal opinions on anything that influenced their coverage. If you believe that then let me just ask you this question which I ask all the time. Be curious to your answer.

Since we know that basically 88 to 94% of the Chicago Press Corps, the DC press corps vote for the Democrat candidate for president that’s from Gallup survey research. Every year since 64. Since they’ve been serving. Let me ask you, if the reverse were true, if 88 to 94% of the press corps had voted, been voting for the Republican president candidate for president for the last 50 years. Let’s say. Do you think the coverage in these newspapers including the Tribune, your former employer, the Sun-Times. Think it would be any different? Or they’re so objective, it wouldn’t matter.

Greising: First of all, I also worked for the Chicago Tribune. I worked at Businessweek and I worked at Reuters. So I’m not sure why I’m not sure why you’re just-

Proft: All the above, All of the above. AFL-CIO Times, but they have no political agenda? I know the AFL-CIO has no political agenda. AFL-CIO Times, the entirety of it, what’s the answer?

greising: The Sun-Times, when I worked there was owned by Rupert Murdoch, not by the union. So-

Proft: Take all of the outlets. The idea is you would never go after the Sun-Times for being owned by the AFL-CIO or NPR because they have no political agenda. Those are objective journalists. But regardless, take all of your outlets you’ve ever worked for and all the outlets in the country. What is the answer to the question? Would the coverage be different? If 90% of journalists were vote Republican primary voters instead of Democrat? Do you think it’d be different?

Greising: Okay, first of all, just for your information. Perhaps you’re not aware, though sometimes is no longer owned by the or controlled by the AFL-CIO …just so you’re aware they are now a nonprofit but right. I get the way you’re trying to paint me. To answer your question to answer your question, there is an effort I can accept your premise that there’s no such no such thing as objectivity. For example in in these newsletters, these flyers in broadsheet that you print.

Proft: We don’t pretend to be objective. We don’t lie. You’re lying when you say objective, and you just conceded you were.

Greising: I’m saying that, that traditional journalism seeks objectivity, seeks fair comment, balance in its reporting. I don’t see in any of the articles I read in your broadsheet pamphlets. Do I see any effort whatsoever to tell both sides of the story. (A little bit of talking over each other)

Proft: How long have you been reading the papers?

Greising: Since the first one landed on my door? I don’t know exactly how long ago

Proft: So you’d be surprised to learn that these outlets have existed for the last seven years?

Greising: Good for you. Congratulations. That’s not bad…When did you start delivering them so broadly? All of a sudden they’re showing up where I live.

Proft: We’ve mailed them out intermittently, depending on how well finances are going. But regardless, the last seven years they’ve existed, the entire Chicago Springfield press corps knows has known about them because they’ve criticized us before, because of course they have.

And so now all you folks have re-affixed the scales to your eyes. And now we’re coming to the papers here in this election cycle, saying ‘Oh my God, look at these papers that have been around for seven years and we’ve previously commented on but now we’re gonna pretend like this is sui generis and we knew nothing about it. Very, very, very straightforward. Very objective.

Greising: I was not aware of what you were doing. I wish I had known earlier. Maybe I could have warned readers earlier that these look like newspapers they’re not. They’re political pamphlets, effectively constructed political pamphlets. I might compliment you on that. They definitely present the point of view in the guise of objective reporting.

Proft: No, no, no, no, there’s no guise because we don’t pretend to be objective. We never said we’re objective. If you look at our about us statement, we explicitly say what I just said effectively repeated that we don’t defraud people by pretending to be objective, we have a point of view.

We want to advance stories that are not covered and stories that are not coming from an angles that we cover them. Because we have a point of view about public policy and people like you and the outlet you work for. All of them pretend that they don’t have a point of view, and they have no interest in the outcomes of public policy discussion. And that’s a lie. And that’s the difference between us.

As always, please pardon any transcription errors.



Debate preview

Thursday, Oct 6, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Try to keep in mind that tonight’s televised gubernatorial debate is not a presidential debate. Most voters won’t watch. Some will get their information from the news media, others will see clips and commentary online. So, when someone tells you that a gubernatorial debate can change the trajectory of the race, you might wanna take that with a grain of salt. Gov. Pritkzer would have to perform well below expectations for that to happen and Bailey would have to perform well above. Not saying it won’t happen. Just sayin.

From the Tribune’s preview

Bailey, a state senator and farmer from downstate Xenia, has focused much of his criticism of Pritzker on his decision to sign into law the Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today Act. Bailey contends pretrial detention provisions over cashless bail in the SAFE-T Act will bring Chicago-like crime to the rest of the state. Pritzker, a billionaire entrepreneur and an heir to the Hyatt Hotels fortune, argues Bailey’s conservative positions, especially his opposition to abortion rights except to save the life of the mother, are too extreme for Illinois.

* Bailey gave a preview of his own debate spin and strategy to Newsmax

Q: Darren, I want to get straight into it because you’re set to have your first debate face to face with your opponent JB Pritzker tomorrow on Thursday. What are you expecting from all of this?

A: Well, I’m expecting JB to continue to do what he’s doing, which is just lying, which is what he does all the time. And, and I love the name of the show this morning. Wake up America. And that’s what we’re doing. We’re waking up Illinois. And people are waking up because they’re fed up. We’ve got transgender ideology in our classrooms. We’ve got a revolving door coming on our jails. Our streets aren’t safe. Our taxes are too high. Our children are in danger at their schools and it’s time to take it back. And that’s been my message from the beginning.

Q: When I think about Virginia, I think ground zero for CRT and education in this country. When I think Illinois, I think Chicago, I think Lori Lightfoot and I think about crime. What’s the biggest issue to voters in your state?

A: Well, it certainly is crime. When I started running just four years ago, I’m a farmer from Southern Illinoism I didn’t I didn’t search this out, but taxes were too high. And Cindy and I were concerned about the future of our children and our grandchildren. And then when JB Pritzker was elected, well, all of a sudden our schools became overcome with woke ideology. And now, there has not been a day in Chicago for over 31 months where there’s not been a shooting or a killing. Something’s drastically wrong. And for JB Pritzker and Lori Lightfoot and Kim Foxx to just look blindly at this and to suggest there’s not a problem. I think they’re going to pay the price for that on November 8.

Q: And of course, this is as they’re pushing their own SAFE-T Act, something where that’ll do away with cash bail, it’ll make it harder for police, for example, to detain violent offenders, things like that. So Chicago has been seeing not only a major crime increase, but also buses of migrants from the southern border states. Do you have a plan to tackle this or is that even an important issue to voters in Illinois?

A: Well, it’s becoming an important issue. You know, obviously, Chicago being a sanctuary city and Illinois being a sanctuary state that was created so you’re not able to, law enforcement have their hands tied, they can do nothing. So when we take a look at Illinois, and especially at Chicago, and we have to ask ourselves about the drug trafficking, sex trafficking, the gang violence, the gun trafficking, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to consider and look to see what’s wrong with this. So yes, we must secure the southern border. When we secure the southern border then we have to begin the conversation about actual legal migration, especially here into this state. No state can handle what’s being done with these with all these migrants coming in to them.

Q: Yeah, you make a great point about the border. Monmouth with a poll out a day ago and for the first time, for the first time the border came in second most important issues to voters heading into the midterms. The economy by far number one, the border came in second crime was number three, abortion way down the list at number six. I’m wondering if you will mention this tomorrow during your debate, that if people in Illinois decide to reelect Governor Pritzker they are likely electing a governor who will be running for president starting within the next calendar year.

A: That’s certainly been on our radar. Yes, we’ve been sounding that alarm. This man has destroyed the state of Illinois financially, morally, I mean, we’re depleted, we’re bankrupt, and it’s time to turn it around. We just got to get the people to wake up and show up and vote. 1/3 of Illinois eligible voters are not registered to vote, and in the primary of June 28, 20% of registered voters showed up to vote. That’s a problem. We’ve got to have an awakening of patriotism, and to stand up and uphold our values here in this nation.

* Pritzker campaign press release…

Tonight, Governor JB Pritzker will face off against Republican extremist Darren Bailey at Illinois State University in their first televised debate. Voters will have the chance to hear directly from each candidate about their vision for Illinois, and the differences could not be more clear.

In attendance will be Emily, a mother who bravely shared her abortion story and who knows exactly how dangerous Bailey’s anti-choice views are for Illinois: “We spoke to many, many doctors and decided that the best option for us was an abortion. Darren Bailey thinks that should have been his decision, not mine — that I shouldn’t be trusted with that decision. He doesn’t understand what we went through, he wasn’t the one who got the phone call saying that our daughter was dying. We were.”

Emily understands that women should be free to make vital health care decisions about their own bodies, and she’s proud to support Governor Pritzker at tonight’s debate.

Also joining the audience is Josie, who had an abortion at 18 before going to college with a softball scholarship. Reflecting on the impact of her choice, Josie said, “During the darkest times of my life, when I felt I couldn’t even get out of bed, my abortion has served as my reminder of the life I knew I so badly wanted back then and reminded me that each day is a new opportunity.”

Each woman has a unique experience with abortion, but their message is the same: the right to choose is absolutely necessary, and any candidate who threatens that right is too extreme for Illinois.

“Tonight’s debate will showcase the stark differences between Governor Pritzker, who will outline his positive vision for the state, and Darren Bailey, who will undoubtedly continue to stoke fear and spread lies,” said JB for Governor Press Secretary Eliza Glezer. “Voters will see who Darren Bailey really is: a Trump-endorsed extremist whose radical agenda would take Illinois backwards. He has no substantive policy solutions to offer, so he’ll be forced to turn to tired talking points and dishonesty, in clear contrast to Governor Pritzker’s strong record of progress and action.”

Check your local Nexstar listings for the TV version, or go to WGN to watch it online.


*** UPDATED x2 *** Because… Madigan!

Thursday, Oct 6, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* First independent expenditure TV ad by the Ken Griffin-funded Citizens for Judicial Fairness PAC


Tired of corrupt Madigan cronies getting rich while your costs go up? Madigan’s machine is trying to put Mary Kay O’Brien and Elizabeth Rochford on the Supreme Court. Mary Kay O’Brien was one of the deciding votes to keep Madigan speaker and Rochford’s loyalty got her a sweetheart appointment that made her rich off taxpayers. The Madigan machine’s last hope is electing O’Brien and Rochford to the Supreme Court. End Madigan’s corrupt gravy train. Say no to Mary Kay O’Brien and Elizabeth Rochford.

* Second independent expenditure TV ad by the Ken Griffin-funded Citizens for Judicial Fairness PAC


Tired of corrupt Madigan cronies getting rich while your costs go up? Meet Elizabeth Rochford, a key ally of Mike Mackin. Rochford got appointed to a sweetheart judgeship and got rich off our tax dollars. Now Madigan’s machine is funding her campaign for the Supreme Court. A vote for Rochford is a vote for Madigan.

But there’s a better choice. Mark Curran is an outsider who has fought partisan bosses in both parties. Curran doesn’t owe Madigan for anything. Vote Mark Curran for Supreme Court

* From Lara Cooper at the Rochford campaign…

This is nothing more than a desperate attack by Mark Curran’s right wing extremist allies to deflect attention away from their unqualified, dangerous, and anti-choice candidate. They know that when voters learn that Mark Curran has never been a judge, has been rated ‘not recommended’ by the Illinois State Bar Association, and holds extreme anti-abortion positions and fringe election fraud conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, they’ll vote for Judge Elizabeth Rochford who’s been a judge for a decade and is rated ‘highly recommended’ by the Illinois State Bar Association. Their blatant lies won’t be able to change the fact that Mark Curran is not qualified to serve on our state’s highest court

The ad buyer is listed as Matchstick Media, a media production and buying firm, that also did ads against Curran in the primary and handled the ads against Justice Tom Kilbride and Appellate Justice Judy Cates in 2020.

*** UPDATE 1 *** With a hat tip to a commenter, the Senate Republicans are running a Because… Madigan! ad in the Metro East against appointed Sen. Kris Tharp


This is the real story on Kris Tharp. Kris Tharp wasn’t elected by the voters. He was hand-picked in a backroom deal and bankrolled by the Chicago political machine. You know, those good old boys, the corrupt might Madigans, who could care less about the Metro East. Tharp’s buddies wrote the book on political corruption. And now he owes everything to them. Who’s Kris Tharp gonna listen to, them or us?

*** UPDATE 2 *** ILGOP…

The ILGOP today unveiled, highlighting the Madigan Machine’s historic influence on our judicial system and their latest attempts to stack the bench with two of their very own.

Judge Mary K. O’Brien is the ultimate Madigan insider and her deep ties to the Madigan Machine are well known. O’Brien was appointed as an Appellate Court Justice during her final year in the Illinois General Assembly after voting with Madigan 93.6% of the time. She also “Helped Madigan Regain The Speakership,” and received over $200,000 in political contributions from political groups led by Madigan. O’Brien’s record on the bench is even more concerning, having overturned the convictions of numerous violent criminals.

Judge Elizabeth Rochford is funded by many of the same trial lawyers that bankrolled indicted Speaker Mike Madigan and his judicial cronies for years - receiving nearly $600,000 from them. Further, Rochford donated $1,500 to indicted Chicago Alderman and political machine boss Ed Burke, after he was indicted on corruption charges. When asked, Rochford called Burke a “longtime friend of our family.” Rochford has donated a total of $15,350 to Burke since 1999. She’s also used her connections to lower her property taxes under the same property tax appeals system that made Madigan millions of dollars.

“Illinois voters deserve to know the truth. The Madigan Machine has had far too much influence on our judicial election process for far too long,” said Illinois Republican Party Executive Director Shaun McCabe. “Justice Mary K. O’Brien and Judge Elizabeth Rochford are no exception. Instead of electing two more Madigan Machine retreads to our state’s highest court, it’s well past time Illinois voters made a clean break with the Madigan Machine and its ‘politics-as-usual’ process for electing our judges.”

When voters learn the truth about O’Brien and Rochford’s Madigan Machine ties and troubling records, unsurprisingly they oppose them by wide margins.


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition

Thursday, Oct 6, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Open thread

Thursday, Oct 6, 2022 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* It’s debate day! Let’s talk about Illinois.


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Thursday, Oct 6, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

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* Debate open thread
* Gannett confirms it's printing Proft's papers
* Question of the day
* Fun with numbers
* Campaign notebook
* Pritzker talks pensions
* SAFE-T Act coverage roundup
* Greising vs. Proft
* Debate preview
* *** UPDATED x2 *** Because... Madigan!
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today's edition
* Open thread
* Yesterday's stories

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