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Friday, Jan 24, 2020

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Friday, Jan 24, 2020

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Reader comments closed until Monday

Friday, Jan 24, 2020

* I have a million things to do before session starts next week, so I need to take off today. I’ll see you soon.

The audio on this video isn’t great, but the energy is amazing

Oh darling I think it’s gonna work out fine

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Pritzker defends “citizen legislature” concept

Thursday, Jan 23, 2020

* Gov. Pritzker was asked today by a reporter in Edwardsville if “more leaders in Springfield” should follow Senate President Don Harmon’s lead and quit their outside jobs. His response…

Well, you know, we have a citizen legislature. And so what we demand of our legislators is that they bring with them the experience of being a lawyer, or being a doctor, you know, working in business, being a farmer. We in Illinois, we chose long ago to have a legislature made up of people from vastly different experiences. So I don’t think there’s any requirement for people to step aside from their jobs.

What is important is that when they’re voting on issues that they’re abstaining from voting on things that directly impact or benefit them. And as you know, I’m working very hard with legislators to pass ethics legislation in Springfield so that we don’t have to worry anymore about what’s happening about legislators getting in trouble as they have been over the last few months.

It’s very important to me that we bring transparency so that we know what the conflicts of interest are, and that we let you the members of the press and the public be able to look up and see how much power is a company wielding upon a legislator. How much money are they really giving? How many lobbyists do they have that are working over that legislator? So I think the more transparency there is about that, the less likely it is that we’re going to have problems going forward.

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      


Corruption roundup

Thursday, Jan 23, 2020

* Sun-Times

State Sen. Thomas Cullerton’s lawyer is apparently finalizing a deal with federal prosecutors over key evidence in the indicted politician’s embezzlement case.

Cullerton’s attorney last month asked U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman to order the disclosure of crucial details about ex-Teamsters boss John Coli, who pleaded guilty in July in an extortion case and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. A grand jury hit Cullerton with an indictment a few days after Coli’s plea.

But at a hearing set Thursday to deal with the disagreement, Assistant U.S. Attorney Amarjeet Bhachu told Gettleman the two sides were nearing a deal and asked for more time to complete it. Cullerton attorney Daniel Collins said, “It’s all correct judge.” […]

When he asked for the Coli evidence last month, Collins wrote that “information about Coli’s credibility is central to the validity of the government’s case against Cullerton and is vital for Cullerton’s defense.”

* A statement was promised yesterday, but nothing emerged

A federal and local investigation into the actions of Bloomingdale Township Highway Commissioner Robert Czernek is continuing, but authorities remain tight-lipped about the details.

Township officials on Tuesday issued a statement saying the township supervisor’s office is “fully cooperating with the investigation into the road district commissioner.” But due to the nature and stage of the investigation, they said they will not release any further information. […]

“Mr. Czernek is really a wonderful man who has spent his life helping the township of Bloomingdale,” attorney Michael Monico said.

Monico declined to comment further but said he may have more to say on Thursday.

* Tribune

After serving more than her four-year term [as chair of the Cook County Board of Ethics], Margaret “Peggy” Daley is being asked to leave the volunteer role, she said in an email. Although Daley’s term officially expired in July, her transition came as a surprise and she only learned she was being replaced through an email she was sent on Tuesday, she said. […]

The turnover comes just as the ethics board is expected to vote on proposed changes to the County Code of Ethics despite objections from Preckwinkle’s office.

In a letter, an attorney representing the president’s office asked the board to delay voting on the proposed changes, which have not yet been made public. But the board decided to move forward anyway, officials said.

The personnel change also comes about a year after it was revealed that Daley and two other board members donated to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s campaign when she was competing with Preckwinkle for the city’s top seat.

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      


Scammers allegedly spoofing ISP phone numbers

Thursday, Jan 23, 2020

* Press release…

Illinois State Police (ISP) officials have received multiple calls from the public concerning suspected scam calls. Various ISP districts throughout the state have received reports from citizens stating they have received calls from individuals with a foreign accent claiming to be members of the Illinois State Police seeking their personal information. It has also been reported the callers claim there is some police matter that needs to be resolved which requires the would-be-victims’ personal information (full name, date of birth, social security number, etc.). Concerned citizens have also reported the telephone number where the call originated, matched the ISP District telephone number.

This type of scam is a common technique known as “spoofing.” Spoofing occurs when a telephone number is manipulated and disguised to look like an alternate telephone number of a person’s choosing. Usually the number is disguised to match the telephone number of a government agency that would typically gather personal information in the performance of their duties.

A few factors to consider:

    · Always ask the caller to identify himself/herself by name.

    · If an ISP Trooper needs to collect personal information from you, they will usually collect the information during an in-person interview.

    · Although there are certainly times when an incident will require a follow up telephone call by an ISP Trooper to gather additional information, e.g. a traffic crash investigation, an ISP Trooper will never ask for your social security number over the phone. The Trooper will also have knowledge of the incident you were involved in and your specific role in that incident.

    · Scammers can be very aggressive in their techniques. One of their most common used techniques is to create a sense of urgency and fear in their potential victims in order to gain their personal information.

    · If you receive a call from and ISP Trooper claiming to be calling from an ISP District, request the name of the caller and advise the caller you will call them back. Look up the ISP District phone number they claim to be calling from, then call the number and ask to speak to the Trooper whose name you were given. If there is not a Trooper by that name, please advise the call taker of the incident that just occurred. ISP District telephone numbers can be found on the ISP website: www.isp.state.il.us

An older relative of mine was recently harangued into giving up his Social Security Number by a nasty scammer claiming to be from the IRS. What a mess that is.

I installed the Hiya app and it’s helped weed out some scam calls. But spoofing actual ISP phone numbers is a new one on me and I imagine Hiya would confirm the call is from the police. I shudder to think.

The phone companies and Google and everyone else involved really need to step up their games. No excuse for allowing or enabling this stuff.

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      


Question of the day

Thursday, Jan 23, 2020

* The Sun-Times’ candidate questionnaire asks a couple of unusual questions. Here’s one question with the response from Chicago-based House candidate Nidia Carranza

What’s your favorite TV, streaming or web-based show of all time. Why?

Breaking Bad: The story of what happens when a teacher has poor healthcare and not a big enough salary to afford paying medical bills after an unexpected illness. A problem I can relate to, though my solution is a little less drastic - running for public office!

Um. OK. Also, did the CTU not negotiate a decent healthcare benefits package? (Hat tip: Hillman.)

* But here’s the question we’ll be concerned with today. Same respondent

What historical figure from Illinois, other than Abraham Lincoln (because everybody’s big on Abe), do you most admire or draw inspiration from? Please explain.

Mother Jones: One of the first women to lead organized labor in this country, Mother Jones helped make Illinois the birthplace of rank-and-file organizing. She understood that justice for working families depended on fair working conditions, and was willing to fight powerful corporate interests - often putting her body on the line - in order to bring attention to the issues. I am proud of the legacy Illinois and Chicago has built around union organizing, and we would not be where we are today without her.

Mother Jones’ grave in Union Miners Cemetery is Mt. Olive’s only tourist attraction. Mt. Olive is about 50 miles south of Springfield, so if she wins her Democratic primary against appointed Rep. Eva Dina Delgado (D-Chicago) and Joaquin Vazquez, it’s an easy drive.

Anyway…

* The Question: What historical figure from Illinois, other than former presidents, do you most admire or draw inspiration from? Please explain.

- Posted by Rich Miller   75 Comments      


Another Lincoln “artifact” called into question

Thursday, Jan 23, 2020

* We all know by now that the dubious Lincoln stovepipe hat was part of the $23 million purchase of the Louise Taper Lincoln “collection.” There’s another, less-known issue with that collection. A clock that was alleged to have been in Lincoln’s law office. Bruce Rushton at the Illinois Times did a bit of digging

The most solid proof appears to be a 1968 affidavit prepared by James Hickey, the same fellow who sold the hat to former foundation board member Louise Taper, who sold the hat, the clock, the fan and more than 1,000 other artifacts to the foundation. According to the affidavit, Hickey in 1967 bought three clocks from a descendant of William Herndon, Lincoln’s law partner. The affidavit, also signed by the seller, contains little detail: “3 clocks, property of William H. Herndon and used by him in his home and law office of Lincoln & Herndon.” That’s it – no physical descriptions, photographs or word on which clock, or clocks, were in Herndon’s office as opposed to his house, or when.

The clock in question is neither rare nor, when it was manufactured, expensive. Thousands were made in Connecticut. Despite its commonness and a paucity of provenance particulars in ALPLM files, former Lincoln curator James Cornelius, fired in 2018 for insubordination, told a cool story in 2011, when the clock was named Artifact of the Month by the museum. The foundation issued a press release. “Lincoln sometimes took his bumptious boys along when he played chess in his office on Sundays, to give Mary a rest,” the press release reads. ” ‘It seems that one of the boys rubbed off some of the artwork on the glass front of the clock,’ said Cornelius.”

Here’s what he says now.

“I learned, after the 2011 article, that the application of those decorations on the glass was done with a chemical that had naturally flaked off over time,” Cornelius says in a voicemail. He also says that the clock in question was made in England, given a depiction of Westminster Abbey on the front. However, ALPLM files, and a Google search, show that thousands of such clocks were manufactured in Connecticut. “There isn’t much dispute to its provenance, as far as I know,” Cornelius says. “It had an owner or two before Louise Taper got it.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


It’s just a bill

Thursday, Jan 23, 2020

* Press release…

State Representative Stephanie Kifowit (D-Oswego), the only US Marine Corps female Veteran in the IL House of Representatives, has filed legislation that will mandate Memorial Day be recognized in the Illinois House of Representatives. House Bill 4214 and its companion House Resolution 671, amends the General Assembly Operations Act and creates a new House Rule 9.5 to mandate that the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall not convene the House of Representatives in regular of perfunctory session after 4:00 pm on the day before Memorial Day or before 4:00 pm on Memorial Day. It further mandates that the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall include in the business on the Daily Calendar for the House of Representatives for that session a remembrance ceremony for Memorial Day.
“For many years, I have been forced to be absent from my seat on the Illinois House Floor in order to honor the men and women who lost their lives in service to our country in cemetery visits the morning of Memorial Day. It is time for all members of the Illinois House of Representatives to be able to be in their hometowns and to honor those who gave so much” states Kifowit. “The Illinois House of Representatives should recognize that nothing is more important than honoring those that have lost their lives in defense of our freedom and liberties”.

“The Department of Illinois Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) supports this legislation, which aims to shut down session for a 24-hour period to allow Illinois lawmakers time to convene with the Veterans in their home districts, and to pay tribute and high honor to the Veterans whose lives were lost in combat operations on behalf of a grateful nation” stated Jay Hoffman, Legislative Director of the Department of Illinois Veterans of Foreign Wars. “This would allow our legislators the ability to briefly break from the business of state government to reflect and respect the reason why we are able to have duly elected officials that are able to conduct state business, and that reason is our Veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice”.

Memorial Day, originally Decoration Day, was a day to honor union soldiers who had died in the Civil war. After WWI, it was expanded to honor all men and women who died in any war or military action. WWII, it was formally renamed Memorial Day and was designated in 1971 to be observed on the last Monday in May.

“On this one day of the year, we are to collectively pause in remembrance of the supreme sacrifice made by ordinary Americans in service to our Nation” writes Denise Williams, President, Department of Illinois American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. Proud mother of PFC Andrew Meari, KIA 11/01/10 Afghanistan. “This is a day of somber reflection of their gift to us all, and of joyous appreciation of what they have secured for us with the most selfless sacrifice”.

There is no record of a remembrance ceremony for the fallen service members in the Illinois House of Representatives and committees began meeting at 9:00 am on Memorial Day for 2019. The Illinois State Senate does not indicate Memorial Day as a session day on their calendar for 2020.

This became an issue when the spring session was shortened to the end of May, from the previous end of June deadline. It’s another example of an unintended consequence from a well-meaning change. This year’s Memorial Day is May 25th, so session may not be needed unless they find themselves with a bigtime crunch issue like they did last May.

* WBEZ

A state lawmaker wants to restrict who can access I-Pass information on drivers who use the pass on the Illinois Tollway.

Last year, WBEZ reported that the Illinois Tollway is regularly subpoenaed by law enforcement agencies and even divorce attorneys for an individual customer’s I-Pass data.

In one troubling instance, the Tollway turned over a customer’s travel information, cell phone number, email address and vehicle information to her ex-boyfriend whom she felt was stalking her. The woman had a restraining order against the man at the time he was able to obtain her personal information by filing a subpoena to the Illinois Tollway for her I-Pass records. The practice raised concerns from privacy advocates.

State Rep. Margo McDermed, R-Mokena, recently introduced a bill that would prohibit the Tollway from releasing such information via subpoena in civil cases — whether it’s for use in a divorce case, a car accident lawsuit or to potentially stalk someone. McDermed’s bill would also require law enforcement to first obtain a warrant from a judge before asking the Tollway to release someone’s I-Pass records.

From her press release…

Rep. McDermed’s legislation, House Bill 4006, would prohibit the Tollway from releasing personally identifiable information, except to a law enforcement agency with a search warrant. The Tollway must notify a person within 5 days that their information has been obtained and must provide them with the name of the law enforcement agency and a copy of the search warrant.

That notification could be a problem.

* Center Square

An Illinois lawmaker wants to realign Illinois’ tax on inheritance to federal thresholds, something long sought by family farmers.

Currently, Illinois imposes an estate tax, sometimes called a “death tax,” of up to 16 percent. Combined with a top federal rate of 40 percent, some heirs face a tax of up to 56 percent, but the federal estate tax kicks in at just under $12 million while Illinois’ estate tax applies to any inherited value above $4 million.

That’s why state Rep. Mike Murphy said he wants to bring Illinois back to using the same estate value threshold as the federal government.

“The estate tax is one of the reasons we’re losing the family farm,” he said.

Farm families, if they haven’t spent the money on an estate tax attorney, can be forced to sell off a portion of the family farm or take out loans to pay off an estate tax bill. A 500-acre farm valued at $10,000 an acre would, according to the Illinois Attorney General’s calculator, pay an estimated $285,714 in taxes to the state. Because inherited farms often come with other assets such as farm implements and structures that all carry value, the effect would be greater or be triggered at a lower acreage. The average land price for high-productivity soil is more than 10,000 per acre in central Illinois, according to the Illinois Farm Bureau.

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      


Another first in a newly legalized business

Thursday, Jan 23, 2020

* Tribune

A Springfield marijuana dispensary is the first in the state to get approval to open a spot for people to smoke weed.

Illinois Supply and Provisions plans to connect the space to its marijuana shop in downtown Springfield. The company is still working on the concept and has not set an opening date.

“It’s going to be more than just a big open room where people can smoke cannabis,” said spokesman Chris McCloud. “It’s going to be well done, it’s going to be tastefully done, and it’s going to be an experience.”

Springfield’s city council approved the company’s request Monday night to open the space.

* SJ-R

Chris Stone, a policy advisor for HCI’s parent company, Ascend Wellness, said on-site consumption could be ready as soon as April. He said the hope is for the operation to serve as a model for future lounges across the state, though acknowledged that it’s very much a “beta test” since the concept has never been tried before in Illinois.

“It’s uncharted territory right now as to what we’re doing, so we’re trying to figure that out and hopefully we can figure that out in the next three to four months and, once again, develop the model by which other lounges are going to be looking to do the same thing,” Stone said.

The state law, which gave people 21 and older the ability to legally possess, use and buy recreational cannabis in Illinois on Jan. 1, also allows on-site consumption at dispensaries, though it also gives municipalities the right to ban on-site consumption. […]

“I think having this lounge there gives people who want to smoke still, which I don’t how many people even do that anymore, but gives them an opportunity to consume what is a legal product in the state of Illinois,” said Ward 8 Ald. Erin Conley, who noted that it could be a prime location for downtown hotel guests to consume the product.

Yep. It’s easy walking distance to the two big downtown hotels and several popular restaurants and taverns.

* A photo from Google Maps…

It has a four-story atrium.

* Related…

* A Tale Of Two Markets: How Illinois Succeeded In Rollout Of Adult-Use Cannabis And Why Massachusetts Floundered

* Weeks into legal marijuana, some south suburban police departments have ‘more questions than answers’ on enforcement: The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police contends that someone 21 or older who is simply walking around with a plastic bag of pot, provided it’s an ounce or less, is in the clear.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** More SoS glitch details emerge

Thursday, Jan 23, 2020

* AP

At least three of 16 Illinois residents who cast ballots after being mistakenly registered to vote are U.S. citizens after all, election officials said Wednesday in assessing the damage caused by an error in the state’s automatic voter registration system.

Secretary of State Jesse White’s office, a key player in the system because it oversees driver’s licenses, said the data of 574 people who self-identified as noncitizens was mistakenly forwarded to elections officials to be registered to vote. Election officials said 545 of them were registered and 16 voted in 2018 and 2019 elections.

While those who checked a box on an electronic pad indicating they weren’t U.S. citizens should never have been registered, it turned out at least three from central Illinois counties are citizens. State Board of Elections spokesman Matt Dietrich said it appeared another two — who have long voting histories — were also likely citizens. Elections officials suggested one explanation was that the registrants may have been confused during the process.

Or it was simple (and predictable) human error. We now know that at least some folks who checked a box saying they weren’t citizens made a mistake. These things are actually guaranteed to happen on occasion because the process involves human beings. They can be minimized but never eliminated.

That doesn’t excuse the SoS computer glitch, however. And it doesn’t forgive the people who knew what was going on a month ago and failed to inform the public. That deliberate silence only further undermines their credibility.

…Adding… This all would’ve been long cleared up by now if they had simply disclosed the error and began working to figure out who was accidentally registered and who voted a month ago


There is no excuse for this delay.

*** UPDATE *** The House Executive Committee has just posted a subject matter hearing on the AVR glitch. The hearing will be held next Thursday, January 30th at 9 o’clock in the morning.

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


Senate President Harmon to leave his law firm after 15 years

Thursday, Jan 23, 2020

* What Harmon is doing is the opposite of what usually happens in this state when legislators advance to the top of the food chain. Here’s Amanda Vinicky

At a time when leading legislators’ private side jobs are increasingly under scrutiny, newly elevated state Senate President Don Harmon will step down as a partner at the law firm Burke Burns & Pinelli, Ltd. to focus full-time on his new leadership position.

Harmon told “Chicago Tonight” on Wednesday he met with the firm’s founding partner Mary Patricia Burns on Tuesday to discuss his exit.

“We began the discussion of me stepping away from the practice in order to devote more time to the Senate presidency,” said Harmon, a Democrat who represents Illinois’ 39th District, which covers parts of Oak Park. “We’re working out all those details but I’ve recognized that I just don’t have the time capacity to be a good senate president and to practice law the way I practiced it.”

…Adding… Sun-Times

“I was very careful to manage the conflicts, and my firm was incredibly committed to making sure I had the chance to maintain my integrity,” Harmon told WTTW. “The simple fact of the matter is I just don’t have the time to be a good Senate president and live up to my responsibilities to my partners and my clients.”

Mary Pat Burns, the majority owner of the firm, said in an emailed statement that she and Harmon agreed he could “best serve Illinois by devoting all of his time to his new role in the Senate.”

“It’s been wonderful to practice law with him at Burke Burns & Pinelli for the last 15 years,” she said. “And I take pride in knowing that a WBE firm played such a central role in the life of the new President of the Illinois Senate.”

The headline of that article was nonsense, by the way. “Illinois Senate President Don Harmon ‘stepping away’ from law firm job amid conflict of interest scrutiny.” Somebody does the right thing for a change and that’s the response? Yeah, that’ll encourage more of this sort of behavior.

- Posted by Rich Miller   39 Comments      


*** LIVE COVERAGE ***

Thursday, Jan 23, 2020

* Follow along with ScribbleLive


- Posted by Rich Miller   Comment      


PREVIOUS POSTS »
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Campaign updates
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Fundraiser list
* Reader comments closed until Monday
* Pritzker defends "citizen legislature" concept
* Corruption roundup
* Scammers allegedly spoofing ISP phone numbers
* Question of the day
* Another Lincoln "artifact" called into question
* It's just a bill
* Another first in a newly legalized business
* *** UPDATED x1 *** More SoS glitch details emerge
* Senate President Harmon to leave his law firm after 15 years
* *** LIVE COVERAGE ***
* Yesterday's stories

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