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Question of the day

Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

* I have some errands to run, so you’re on your own this afternoon. Instead of a question, let’s do an open thread. Keep it Illinois-centric and please be nice to each other. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      

Veterans Affairs official who almost became director had to resign over sexual harassment, racial slurs

Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

* Hannah Meisel…

* More deets

The report also details instances of Sawyer’s alleged use of racial slurs and racially insensitive language.

In August 2017, Sawyer allegedly had been upset with an employee’s job performance, which he described as being inadequate.

“All n—–s stick together,” Sawyer allegedly said, also referring to what he allegedly called a “‘sisterhood’ of African American women within IDVA protecting each other.”

On another occasion in late 2017 or early 2018, Sawyer allegedly referred to an employee with the N-word while he berated her for not being able to fill out a travel reimbursement voucher for Sawyer “in a correct and timely manner.”

Man, the storm that would’ve hit Rauner if that guy had been appointed director. Whew. They dodged a big bullet over there.

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** False advertising?

Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

* Illinois Republican Party fundraising email…

Recently, Illinois Democrat State Senator Martin Sandoval, an outspoken critic of President Trump, was caught hosting an event where pictures were taken of a staged assassination of President Trump.

We can not and will not let this dangerous act stand. We must send the message to all Democrats that this despicable act will not be tolerated. We must defeat Sandoval next November!

Take a look at the photos that were shared on social media…

We hope you are as appalled as we are. Please help the Illinois Republican Party continue to demand Senator Sandoval’s resignation and ultimately, his defeat next November.

Will you help us stand against horrific acts like this? Will you help us send a message and defeat Sandoval?

While the secret service is aware and looking into the possible threat, we can’t only rely on that to hold Sandoval accountable for promoting violence against the President. Donate NOW to help us defeat Sandoval in next year’s election!

Your help is appreciated,

I’m thinking they’re not going to use even one thin dime of that cash to fund an opponent against Sandoval, unless they decide to back a Democratic primary candidate. JB Pritzker won the district by 53 percentage points, Hillary Clinton won it by 52 points.

*** UPDATE *** It gets even better. A sharp-eyed commenter pointed out that Sandoval is in the midst of a four-year term and isn’t even up for reelection next year. Hilarious.

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      

Sharkey tries to have it both ways

Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

* Monday Tribune front page

The recent trip to Venezuela by a group calling itself a Chicago Teachers Union delegation has upset some union members and expats who question the point of the tour and take issue with the group’s praise of the country’s disputed government.

The four travelers, who crowdfunded the July trip under the banner of the CTU, met with Venezuelan government officials and educators, visited a commune and were featured in local media. […]

And though the four travelers regularly called themselves a “CTU delegation” online, the union representing close to 25,000 people has sought to distance itself from the trip, stating the CTU did not endorse, sponsor or fund the trip.

Asked on WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight” last week about “some controversy” surrounding the excursion, union President Jesse Sharkey said: “Members go all kinds of places in the summer. This was neither an official trip nor something that was funded by the union. This is a group of people who are members of the CTU who decided to go to Venezuela.”

* The Sun-Times points out something not mentioned in the Tribune story

Much of the criticism has come from a few educators in the “Members First” CTU caucus, which lost the CTU election in May that saw Sharkey regain his position as president. Members First is generally more centrally aligned politically than the current progressive CTU leadership and urges the union’s focus to remain on rank-and-file members rather than national or international political issues.

* But the CTU’s official Twitter account retweeted a link to this story

Introduction to CTU Delegation to Venezuela

This spring, the Chicago Teachers Union Executive Board and House of Delegates each unanimously passed a resolution condemning Donald Trump and U.S. intervention in Venezuela. Resources that never seemed to find their way to our classrooms are being used to intervene in the democratic processes of other countries instead.

This blog represents the members delegation of the Chicago Teacher’s Union that are currently in Venezuela to learn from educators and activists on the ground. The rest of this week, we will be reporting on what we learn and see while we are here. We are being aided by Dozthor Zurlent (Educator) and Miguel Ángel Nuñez (Facilitator) from the Education Ministry of Venezuela.

* And

One of those posts [retweeted by the CTU] was from teacher Sarah Chambers, a member of the CTU executive board on the trip, who wrote, “While staying in #Venezuela, we didn’t see a single homeless person. USA is the richest country in the world; yet, there are homeless people everywhere. Over 17k CPS students are homeless… This is why @CTULocal1 is fighting for fair housing #CTUAgainstVezIntervention.”

* The trip had hallmarks of an official delegation, despite the CTU’s denials

The teachers’ delegation met with leaders from the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry, Ministry of Communes, Ministry of Education, Adult Education Teachers, and students, as well as on-the-ground activists.

One important meeting was when the delegation sat down with Vladimir Castillo, the Venezuelan Director of International Affairs. They learned that Chavez started to talk about socialism in 2005, at the World Social Forum in Brazil, and that a few years after 2007 and 2008, community councils emerged as a result.

* The delegation also met with a major union leader, according to their own blog

Yesterday, we had the amazing opportunity to meet with Jacobo Torres de León, the president of the Central of Bolivarian Socialist Workers. In his compelling interview, he spoke about his journey alongside President Maduro, his union brother and now Venezuelan President, and how they worked together to improve the rights of workers and unions.

* And now Sharkey is on the defensive at a crucial time

Sharkey says with 25,000 members, the CTU is a diverse union, and its members are proud – they represent the union in many different activities – and he has no interest in policing what everyone says.

But more than that, he says right now, members should focus on being unified while they negotiate this critical contract.

“I would say to the people for and against Venezuela: please stop, it’s not where we need to be going right now,” Sharkey said.

* Another Sharkey quote

“I have no interest in policing what they’re going to say. I don’t have the ability even if I wanted to do that.”

Meh. Whatever you think of Venezuela, you’d think a union could at the least publicly chastise a group that misrepresented itself on a foreign mission.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Skillicorn to face primary opponent

Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

* Whenever you toy publicly with running for higher office you can raise your local public profile, but you also run the risk of prompting people in your district to start thinking seriously about running for your vacant district. Rep. Allen Skillicorn (East Dundee) did just that by teasing a congressional bid against US Rep. Lauren Underwood.

Skillicorn only fueled speculation about a possible “up or out” scenario when he didn’t raise a single dime in the second quarter and reported having only about $13K in his campaign bank account on June 30th.

He recently said he’ll announce his reelection next month at a fundraiser and then loaned his campaign $45,000 a couple of days ago.

* But Skillicorn now has a GOP primary opponent and she’s no slouch

McHenry County Board member Carolyn Schofield of Crystal Lake has announced she will run for the Illinois 66th House District seat in the 2020 primary election.

Schofield, who also serves on the executive board of directors for the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), said residents of the 66th District deserve better representation than they have received over the last three years.

“The people of the 66th District have had three years of failed leadership by Allen Skillicorn and it’s time for a change,” said Schofield. “While other House Republicans have been able to get bills signed into law that directly benefit their constituents, our current Representative has burnt bridges and become completely ineffective. He’s done nothing to build relationships that provide a foundation for personal legislative success. As a result, during his three years in office he still has not written even one bill* that he’s been able to carry through the entire legislative process. The people of the 66th District deserve a representative who is committed to working collaboratively to deliver real, sustainable results for McHenry and Kane Counties.”

Schofield said Skillicorn’s recent suggestion that he may run for Congress instead of the Illinois House is a clear indicator that the people of the 66th House District may no longer be his top priority. “He won’t say which office he’s running for in 2020,” Schofield said. “While he wallows in a state of indecision, I stand committed to serving the people of the 66th District where reforms have the greatest financial impact— at the state level. High property taxes and pension debt are the biggest issue here, and those problems are solved at the state level, not in Congress.”

Schofield said she decided to run for the 66th District seat after being approached by several community leaders who felt new state-level leadership was in order. “Successful legislators build relationships, establish trust, and respect their colleagues- even when their opinions on issues clash,” Schofield said. “We don’t have that in the 66th District. Instead, we have an individual who refuses to work with local municipalities on their issues, and rails against not just Democrats, but also members from his own caucus. We don’t need an obstructionist who believes the key to success is widening the political divide. That strategy does nothing to bring taxpayer dollars back to McHenry and Kane Counties.”

Schofield said she will leverage her reputation as a consensus-builder to bring change and reform to Illinois. “Consensus on key issues in Springfield is possible when we find common ground and work together on solutions,” Schofield added. “Only then can we make real progress in addressing the state’s financial problems, improve the jobs climate, and solve the pension crisis. Most importantly, since Republicans work from a position of super-minority, only when we work together will we be able to provide real and sustaining property tax relief for Illinoisans.”

Prior to being elected to the McHenry County Board in 2012, Schofield served on the Crystal Lake City Council from 2009-2012 and on the Crystal Lake Planning & Zoning Committee for ten years, from 1999-2009. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in General Engineering with an Environmental Quality Specialization from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

*** UPDATE *** From Rep. Skillicorn…

Perennial candidate Carolyn Schofield is once again announcing her intention to run for State Representative in the 66th District. Voters in the Republican Party will be given a clear choice between a committed conservative who is resolutely opposed to tax increases and a candidate in Schofield who has never met a tax increase she didn’t like.

She once told Kane County GOP Executive Vice Chairman Jeff Meyer that the reason she supported so many property tax increases over the years was because the voters were not paying attention. Public servants should always be on guard for the taxpayers whether they are paying attention or not because protecting taxpayers’ hard-earned money is the right thing to do.

In her announcement she says the key to solving the state’s financial problems is “consensus.” It was “consensus” that gave us a 32 percent income tax increase in 2017. It was “consensus” that doubled the gas tax this year. It was “consensus” that created the pension crisis as both Democrats and Republicans in the Springfield establishment refused to act responsibility in terms of managing the state’s pension obligations. “Consensus” is a fancy way of voicing support for the failed policies that are bankrupting our state. The Illinois General Assembly already has a bunch of tax hikers. We don’t need more. My record on taxes speaks for itself. I have and will continue to stand up for taxpayers.

- Posted by Rich Miller   58 Comments      

Elections have consequences

Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

* Gov. Pritzker’s deputy press secretary…

That isn’t a complete list.

…Adding… Another one

* From Sen. Manar…

Teachers will see an increase to their minimum salary under a new law sponsored by State Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and signed by Gov. JB Pritzker.

“We’re facing a severe teacher shortage in Illinois and increasing their salaries is just one way we can attract and retain qualified teachers in this state,” Manar said. “We need to start taking this problem seriously and this legislation is a good step toward solving it.”

House Bill 2078 will increase the minimum salary for teachers to $40,000 over a four year period.

Illinois had not updated its minimum teacher salary since 1980. Since that time, state statute has mandated that that Illinois school districts pay teachers with a bachelor’s degree a minimum of only $10,000.

“This is a long-needed change and I’m glad to see that both sides of the aisle came forward to support this legislation,” Manar said. “We’re showing that we value teachers in Illinois and that’s going to go a long way toward attracting qualified teachers in Illinois and convincing young people to consider a career in education.”

Under the measure, the state would update the minimum mandated salary for teachers annually over four years, beginning with the 2020-2021 school year. After that, subject to review by the General Assembly, it would be increased according to the Consumer Price Index. The phase-in would look like this under the proposal:

    · $32,076 for the 2020-2021 school year;
    · $34,576 for the 2021-2022 school year;
    · $37,076 for the 2022-2023 school year; and
    · $40,000 for the 2023-2024 school year;

The measure will go into effect January 1, 2020.

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** South suburban leaders say they got the short end of the stick yet again

Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

* Sun-Times

A coalition of mayors from mostly African American south suburbs are calling on Gov. J.B. Pritzker to reconsider a key portion of the state’s new gambling law, which they say gives the house edge to owners of a combination horse racetrack-casino over majority-black towns vying for a separate casino license nearby.

Not only would the two new full-blown gambling dens compete with one another for customers in a saturated suburban market, but the law also potentially allows the racino owners to block a traditional casino from setting up shop in the first place. That “11th hour” provision to the gaming bill only benefits “a wealthy, white track owner,” according to Matteson Village President Sheila Chalmers-Currin.

”While this proposed law appears to allow two casinos (one with a track), in fact, we all know that this will never happen, and the favored track owner will have the only gaming property in South Cook County,” Chalmers-Currin wrote in a June 11 letter to Pritzker publicly released Wednesday. “I speak for the many minorities that suspect this is all a ruse and special legislation to benefit the private racino operator to the disadvantage of the African American community and its leaders.” […]

The bill also authorized another casino located in one of the following townships: Bloom, Bremen, Calumet, Rich, Thornton or Worth.

One hangup: that casino can’t be located within 35 miles of the track — effectively ruling out any of those townships — unless the track operator “has given written consent” for the casino to open there, the law says.


*** UPDATE *** I just searched the statute and the only mention of a 35-mile limit I can find applies to the distance between racetracks/racinos, not casinos

(230 ILCS 5/) Illinois Horse Racing Act of 1975. […]

(230 ILCS 5/19.5)
Sec. 19.5. Standardbred racetrack in Cook County.

Notwithstanding anything in this Act to the contrary, in addition to organization licenses issued by the [Illinois Racing Board] on the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 101st General Assembly, the Board shall issue an organization license limited to standardbred racing to a racetrack located in one of the following townships of Cook County: Bloom, Bremen, Calumet, Orland, Rich, Thornton, or Worth. This additional organization license shall not be issued within a 35-mile radius of another organization license issued by the Board on the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 101st General Assembly, unless the person having operating control of such racetrack has given written consent to the organization licensee applicant

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      

It’s all show business

Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

* Bernie asked House Republican Leader Jim Durkin about the Eastern Bloc’s proposal to kick Chicago out of Illinois

“They’ve got interesting ideas, and I will say that if it works back in their district, good for them,” Durkin told reporters on the Illinois State Fair’s Republican Day last week. “But we know that’s not a possibility.”

Asked if the idea could damage the state, Durkin said: “If (there) was ever a chance that it could happen, it would be, but this is just political rhetoric by some members. I don’t put much stock into it and nor does anybody else.”

Asked if the lawmakers are playing a game, Durkin said: “I think they’re playing the game of re-election in an arena where it sounds good.”

* Eastern Bloc leader Rep. Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) responded

“It is a vehicle to express a very real frustration with a lack of respect for our values and our way of life,” Halbrook said. “People in rural counties are tired of these far-left policies being forced on those of us who simply have a different point of view. Maybe, a formal separation won’t happen, although it has happened four times in U.S. history, but this movement is gaining momentum. The separation issue is rural America telling folks in Chicago how much they disapprove of the policies they have forced on this state. And the fact that their views are being ignored and dismissed as political rhetoric is only going to serve to fan the flames because it is another example of how rural Illinoisans are again overlooked.”

He said those who think it’s a bad idea should look for ways to show they care about concerns of rural residents, “instead of dismissing what is for many a serious idea and a serious effort to separate from Chicago.”

It is neither a serious idea nor a serious effort. Durkin nailed it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   45 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Question of the day

Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

* Would you rather read a post about former Illinois US Rep. Joe Walsh talking about running for president, or would you rather I post some videos of musician Joe Walsh’s tunes? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please…

bike tracks

*** UPDATE *** The people have clearly spoken. Turn it all the way up

You don’t think that I know your plan,
What you try’n to hand me?

They write me letters, tell me I’m great

Surely make you lose your mind

However, if you click here you’ll see a very thick oppo book on politician Joe Walsh complied by the DCCC back in 2011. Happy hunting.

- Posted by Rich Miller   60 Comments      

Pritzker addresses Hickey report

Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

* Sun-Times

A day after an explosive report revealed years of bullying under the reign of Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan’s chief of staff, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday dodged questions about whether he’s still confident in the speaker’s leadership.

* Dave Dahl

Now that a report of a toxic workplace at the Capitol is out, Gov. JB Pritzker’s glad the culture of harassment, intimidation, and bullying is now known to all.

But, he says, it doesn’t end here.

“I think we need to hold everybody accountable, and that means we need to address the culture,” Pritzker said Wednesday in Chicago after a bill-signing ceremony. “The only way to do that — you can’t just do one-time training; you can’t just announce that this is a problem. You have to be persistent and consistent about addressing it. People need to be reminded, and new people are coming to Springfield all the time.”

* Tribune

“The culture of sexual harassment exists in Springfield on both sides of the aisle,” the rookie Democratic governor said Wednesday at an unrelated event in Chicago. “It has been pervasive for a long time. I think anybody that’s worked in Springfield has talked about it and knows about it. And it is a very positive thing that these things have come to light.”

The report from Maggie Hickey, a former federal prosecutor and state executive inspector general under Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, pointed the blame for many of the problems within the speaker’s office at his longtime chief of staff, Tim Mapes.

Mapes, who also was House clerk and executive director of the Madigan-led state Democratic Party, was ousted from his positions last summer after a staffer publicly accused him of fostering “a culture of sexism, harassment and bullying that creates an extremely difficult working environment.”

* AP

Pritzker says the report detailed “a special kind of harassment and intimidation from Tim Mapes.” But when asked if putting Mapes in positions of power reflects poorly on the speaker’s judgment, Pritzker answered it depended on what Madigan knew.


Pritzker on Wednesday refused multiple times to single out Madigan himself.

“The culture of sexual harassment exists in Springfield on both sides of the aisle,” Pritzker said. “I am counting on the speaker and the Senate president and the minority leader of the House and the minority leader of the Senate to carry out functions that will safeguard women, anybody that could be sexually harassed or attacked.”

Pritzker was asked again if Madigan had dropped the ball, presiding over a workplace culture where abuse was rampant.

“I think it’s clear on both sides of the aisle. I think everybody in Springfield, we’ve let this culture go on too long,” he said.

* Center Square

[House Republican Leader Jim Durkin] said Republicans have had their share of problems, but said under his leadership, employees should feel safe to come forward with complaints. He said when there have been complaints, officials have acted swiftly.

“We didn’t need an extensive investigation for us to make decisions and to take action. We will continue to do that in those situations when you get into harassment of employees, but also conduct that’s unbecoming of members,” Durkin said.

Durkin said Madigan’s future depends on House Democrats.

“I’m not going to get involved with the House Democrats and how they manage their operations,” Durkin said. “I have nothing further to say on that.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

* Follow along with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comment      

* Question of the day
* Veterans Affairs official who almost became director had to resign over sexual harassment, racial slurs
* *** UPDATED x1 *** False advertising?
* Sharkey tries to have it both ways
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Skillicorn to face primary opponent
* Elections have consequences
* *** UPDATED x1 *** South suburban leaders say they got the short end of the stick yet again
* It's all show business
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Question of the day
* Pritzker addresses Hickey report
* Yesterday's stories

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