* Press release…
The Commercial Club of Chicago announced today that Ty Fahner will step down from his role as President of the Civic Committee and Club after serving in the position for just over five years. Kelly R. Welsh will succeed Fahner as president, effective April 2017.
Fahner, a member of the Commercial Club since 1992 and a member of the Civic Committee since 1998, will remain a member of the Civic Committee.
Under Fahner’s leadership, the Civic Committee worked to address the State’s and City of Chicago’s enormous pension debt, continued to support charter schools and worked to improve school quality, while achieving sustained member growth. Through the Civic Consulting Alliance, the organization led strategic initiatives such as the Police Accountability Task Force.
“There is not a larger issue facing Illinois than our dire financial condition. Ty has addressed this challenge with incredible energy, integrity and focus,” said Civic Committee Chairman Frederick H. “Rick” Waddell. […]
Kelly Welsh is a Chicago attorney who most recently served as General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Commerce, from 2014 to 2017.
Prior to joining the Commerce Department, Welsh was Executive Vice President and General Counsel at Northern Trust and held the same role at Ameritech Corporation. Previously, he was Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago and began his legal career as a law clerk to a Federal Judge and then went on to practice at the law firm of Mayer Brown.
“We are thankful that an individual like Kelly Welsh has taken on this responsibility and know that he will provide a strong leadership voice to the organization,” said Waddell.
Welsh has been an active participant in civic affairs. He has served as Chairman of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, Trustee of the University of Chicago Medical Center and the Field Museum of Natural History, and as a Board Member at Navy Pier, Inc. and the Institute of Judicial Administration at New York University Law School. Welsh received his AB cum laude from Harvard College in 1974 and his JD magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1978.
Fahner’s main Statehouse-related contribution was pushing the General Assembly into passing what turned out to be an unconstitutional pension reform law.
- Posted by Rich Miller
* Frankly, I didn’t even know this group existed. A Google search produced precisely one result and there’s no contact information on the press release, which was sent by John Rednour of Du Quoin. But I heard about this vote last night (without a group’s actual name attached), so here’s the release…
On the 28th of February, 2017 a special meeting of the Southern Illinois Democratic County Chairman’s Association was called. The resulting proclamation of the Association follows:
The madness of politics in Illinois must stop. The middle class, those struggling to achieve the middle class, and the most in need are being held hostage. Instead of seeking compromise and progress, unfathomable resources are spent to win the daily news cycle. Rather than looking inward, politicians spend their energy creating bogeymen to blame. Now is a time for action—a time for new leadership. Now is a time for Chris Kennedy’s vision of every Illinois citizen having the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.
Too often in state-wide politics, the values of Southern Illinoisans are overlooked by both Democrats and Republicans. However, when Chris Kennedy was invited to Southern Illinois, he cleared his schedule and came. He listened. He asked questions. He came back.
The SIDCCA insists the number one priority for Southern Illinois should be increasing economic opportunity. Chris Kennedy’s commitment is to putting people back to work and he has a lifetime of experience upon which to draw. Southern Illinois needs a candidate committed to an “all of the above” approach to revitalizing the economy. In a time when the future of our economic engine, Southern Illinois University, seems uncertain, we need a resolve for increased investments in our universities. Southern Illinois needs a candidate that: understands the importance of agriculture and the livestock industry to the area; that refuses to throw his hands in the air and declare the death of coal, but rather, is committed to the promotion and marketing of Southern Illinois Coal; that knows the region’s location and labor force must be promoted to attract new industry; that is a friend of labor; that respects the state worker and the promises that have been made to them; and that sees the limitless potential of tourism and region specific industries in Southern Illinois. On these issues, we believe Chris Kennedy is the candidate for Southern Illinois.
Southern Illinois needs a candidate that knows educational and training opportunities are fundamental to increased economic opportunity; a candidate committed to ensuring John A. Logan College and Rend Lake college and their students thrive; a candidate who believes in parity of spending on k-12 throughout the state. On these issues, we believe Chris Kennedy is the candidate for Southern Illinois on these issues.
The Kennedy legacy of commitment to civil rights, social justice and public service is at the core of Chris Kennedy’s character. His message reminds us that at the foundation of the American dream is the God given dignity of work—that each person should have the opportunity for work; that each able-bodied person should seek work. We stand with the belief that service to community, state, and country is not a passive thought, but rather, something to which we should each strive. In short, Chris Kennedy reminds us why we joined the Democratic Party in the first place.
The Southern Illinois Democratic County Chairman’s Association hereby endorses Christopher G. Kennedy to be the next elected Governor of the State of Illinois.
Respectfully, Southern Illinois Democratic Chairman’s Association
*The Members of the Southern Illinois Democratic Chairman’s Association include the Chairmen of the following counties: Alexander, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Massac, Monroe, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Randolph, Saline, St. Clair, Union, Washington, White, and Williamson.
St. Clair is a good get for sure. The rest won’t hurt, either.
- Posted by Rich Miller
* I can see some unintended consequences of this (people who regularly heap praise on celebrities and politicians they love), but it’s an interesting development…
Today, Twitter announced that it will start relying on algorithms to identify and restrict accounts for engaging in “abusive behavior,” which the company defines as either “repeatedly Tweeting without solicitation at non-followers” or violating the Twitter terms of service. The update has been in place for a few weeks now, but the company made it public today. The change goes beyond what some thought would be simple keyword policing (read: swear words) by also considering the relationships between users when determining abuse.
Penalties may include making an account’s tweets only visible to its followers for 12 hours or more, or being forced to verify a phone or email address associated with the account. In a statement about the changes, the company’s vice president of engineering, Ed Ho, wrote, “Our platform supports the freedom to share any viewpoint, but if an account continues to repeatedly violate the Twitter Rules, we will consider taking further action.” […]
Twitter will also allow you to filter out notifications from accounts that do not have a profile photo or that list an unverified email addresses or phone number, which are sometimes signs that an account was created specifically to abuse others anonymously. You’ll also be able to decide how long you want to mute accounts, conversations, and keywords. These features resemble the quality filter and notifications settings that verified users have had for some time now.
Also, as I’ve mentioned before, the number of people directly tweeting angry stuff at Gov. Rauner has skyrocketed since the election. And my Twitter feeds are full of people screaming all day and all night at President Trump. If Speaker Madigan had an account, I can only imagine what those tweets would look like. Pretty sure there wouldn’t be a lot of pics of kittens and pink ponies.
Anyway, they might wanna consider exempting politicians from that plan. Your thoughts?
- Posted by Rich Miller
* Counties in this state employ about 60,000 people both full and part time, so the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform took a look at employee wages…
Cook County has the highest average employee salary at $64,378, which is nearly double the average salary for all 102 counties at $34,167. This number includes both full-time and part-time employees. Payroll information does not necessarily include matching pension payments, healthcare, or other benefits.
Cook’s top ranking is followed closely by most suburban counties, plus a handful of Downstate counties like Randolph, Madison and Boone.
The lowest was Edwards County, with an average annual salary of just $7,685. That’s not a typo.
* Now, on to per capita costs, which might be a better way to look at it…
On average, each Illinois county pays their employees about $224 per capita (the number of residents in the county) each year. It is important to note that significant portions of county payroll can be funded by sources other than tax revenue. County payroll budgets can sometimes include county-run nursing homes, hospitals, parks, or other public services. While total payroll per capita does not directly indicate the cost of county government for individual taxpayers, it provides a useful measure of the cost of county employees compared to the local population.
Based on total payroll per capita, the size of county government ranges widely. Pulaski County pays the most, relative to their population, with a per-capita payroll cost of $649 per year, while Mercer County pays the least at $80 a year. Cook County spends more than average, at $307 a year.
* Top tens…
Notice that Cook isn’t in the top ten (it’s ranked 11th) and Edwards isn’t in the bottom ten (19th from the bottom).
The full list is here.
- Posted by Rich Miller
* From Anders Lindall at AFSCME Council 31…
You asked for a chart comparing key elements of the terms Governor Rauner is demanding of AFSCME members versus those to which other unions have agreed. The governor and his administration often claim, falsely, that the two are one and the same.
In reality, half a dozen unions have no contract agreement with the state—including nurses, state troopers, child care workers and others—while those unions that have settled contracts have done so on very different, more favorable terms not offered to our union.
For example, those other unions have accepted either a wage freeze or a 100% hike in employee health care costs, but Rauner is trying to force AFSCME members to swallow both. See chart for detail.
The chart is too wide to display well on the blog, so click here to see it.
* According to AFSCME, four of the 18 contracts they examined did not hike health insurance costs by 100 percent. The construction trades did agree to a 100 percent hike, but their contracts say that if AFSCME negotiates a better deal, they will get the same terms.
Twelve unions didn’t agree to a four-year freeze on wages and step increases, with the construction trades even retaining their prevailing wage increases, AFSCME’s analysis claims.
None of the contracts changed overtime pay rules, the union claims. AFSCME, of course, has been whacked because its members are paid overtime after less than 40 hours per week.
And only seven unions agreed to implement the governor’s merit pay program. The construction trades’ agreements say that the merit pay program cannot be implemented until CMS and the specific unions agree to terms on process and procedures.
*** UPDATE *** From Eleni Demertzis at the governor’s office…
The twenty other unions our Administration reached agreements with were not demanding guaranteed wage increases, platinum health insurance at bargain prices, or overtime starting after 37.5 hours. These other unions recognized the State’s dire financial circumstances and had begun working with the state to come to a reasonable solution. Instead of continuing to spread misinformation, it would be helpful if AFSCME leadership would work with our Administration to implement these common sense proposals agreed to by other unions.
- Posted by Rich Miller
* From Dan Proft of the Liberty Principles PAC…
Statement by on the “grand bargain” before the Illinois Senate:
The truth about the so-called grand bargain is, to paraphrase Voltaire, it is neither grand nor is it a bargain.
It is the same old power politics presenting the same false choices to keep the same false prophets atop their very real perches of privilege.
Chicago Democrat bosses Madigan and Cullerton don’t need to learn new tricks as long as Republicans continue to fall for their old ones.
If the Chicago Democrat bosses pass a structural tax hike with the votes of a handful of a pliable Republicans, they present Governor Rauner with this choice:
(1) sign the tax hike immediately becoming the majority owner of it thus giving lie to your campaign promise to provide tax relief to Illinois families and businesses thereby destroying your brand as an outsider, maverick willing to take on the craven political establishment of both parties to set Illinois on a growth track; or,
(2) veto the tax hike and be attacked as someone who won’t compromise with Democrats and even moderate Republicans to do a budget deal.
If Governor Rauner chooses the first option, he destroys his base and likely precludes his re-election as a result.
If Governor Rauner chooses the second option, he preserves his base party support with an existent opportunity to work to the middle for victory as he successfully did in the 2014 election.
Democrat bosses got previous Republican Governors Thompson and Edgar to choose the first option. Those decisions by those Republican governors began the descent of the ILGOP into superminority status and of IL to its designation as the worst governed state in the nation.
GOP State Senators who vote for the not grand non-bargain are in effect saying they want Chicago Democrat bosses to continue to run this state and run it into the ground for their benefit.
GOP State Senators who vote for this not grand non-bargain are in effect saying they do not want Gov. Rauner re-elected.
Our position at Liberty Principles PAC is that GOP State Senators who vote for this not grand non-bargain are actually in effect saying they don’t want to be re-elected.
*** UPDATE *** From the Illinois Policy Institute…
Illinois lawmakers have begun voting on the components of a “grand bargain” budget proposal, and voting is expected to continue today. Illinois Policy CEO John Tillman released the following statement:
“This entire budget package is a weak charade meant to convince Republicans to provide Democrats cover on yet another tax increase. Don’t take the bait. Stand up for the people and vote against any proposal that forces Illinoisans to pay more before the state enacts real reform.
“Furthermore, this is not the budget Illinois needs. This is not a reform package. Lawmakers must vote no.
“Illinois cannot weather another tax increase. The state is on the brink of an economic collapse. Moody’s Investors Service has said Illinois is facing economic deterioration. But don’t just take Moody’s word for it. Look around: People are leaving. Businesses are shutting down or packing up and fleeing. The state’s revenue is declining. Raising taxes to prop up a broken and dysfunctional state government will not change that – it will escalate Illinois’ decline. If the tax increases in the Senate’s so-called ‘grand bargain’ are enacted, taxpayers will be crushed and the state’s economy may not recover for decades.
“A multibillion-dollar tax hike would destroy what little recovery has been made since the recession. At the end of 2016, Illinois had the worst jobs growth rate in the region. Nearly 1 in 5 homes are deeply underwater on their mortgages, and Illinois is the only state in the region with a shrinking population. Bloomington, Carbondale, Peoria and the Quad Cities are currently in recession, according to Moody’s, and Elgin, Danville, Decatur and Kankakee are on the brink of recession.
“Illinoisans dutifully paid more than $31 billion in higher taxes after the tax increase of 2011. They were told the revenue would be used to strengthen the state’s economy, pay off the backlog of bills, and get Illinois back in fiscal shape. They were told that a spending cap enacted with the tax increase would prevent the state from this type of crisis ever occurring again. Illinoisans were lied to. Now, policymakers in Springfield are lying to them again. If this deal passes, overburdened taxpayers will be forced to sacrifice again – and even more people will throw up their hands in disgust and decide to leave. More families and jobs will cross the border, and the downward economic spiral will continue.”
- Posted by Rich Miller
* From last December…
Arlington Park and others finally might have come up with a way to boost the lagging horse-racing business in Illinois, and it’ll require the tracks and regulators to pony up.
The plan would call for the Illinois Racing Board to tighten its belt and contribute up to $500,000 — about 18 percent of its budget — toward bigger purses for winning races next year.
* From yesterday…
The Illinois Racing Board Feb. 28 conditionally approved transferring $500,000 of its “surplus” operating funds to bolster purses at the state’s three remaining tracks. […]
The ensuing lengthy discussion prompted IRB chairman Jeffrey Brincat to reiterate, “I never thought it would be so hard to give away a half-a-million dollars.” […]
Representatives of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and the Illinois Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Foundation both said they support the idea of hiking purses. But they urged the money be used to fund races written for Illinois-bred horses, which carry awards for owners and breeders.
And the ITHA, echoing sentiments expressed by the harness horsemen’s group, said its members need further assurance that the redistribution of IRB funds will not result in a demand for more detailed scrutiny of their internal finances. […]
The ITHA and harness horsemen again raised fears that switching funding from the IRB operating account to horsemen’s purses might open their organization to demands for internal records. Board staff said there is no intent to do that and nothing in the proposal that would trigger expanded oversight.
OK, but now I kinda want to see what’s in those internal books. /snark
Legislation to enable the IRB to distribute the cash has been filed and is awaiting a Senate hearing.
*** UPDATE *** A spokesman for the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association sent me a statement which includes this…
Please see below for the text of a statement read into the Illinois Racing Board record yesterday by an attorney for the ITHA.
As you will see, the statement references the practice of “recapture.” For more on that, please click here.
Regarding the ITHA budget, the ITHA publishes on its website a synopsis of its audited financial statements (click here) and also makes those statements available to ITHA members upon request.
The full statement is here.
- Posted by Rich Miller
* Whenever a major Illinois-based corporation feels serious pain, I always wonder if they’ll start demanding something from the state. I have no idea what State Farm will do and I’m not suggesting that something will actually happen, but it’s worth keeping an eye on because rumors have swirled for quite a long time that they’ve been looking to get outta here…
State Farm Insurance lost more money insuring cars last year than it ever has in its 95-year history.
The Bloomington-based giant, by far the largest U.S. auto insurer, incurred $35.8 billion in claims and loss adjustment expenses. When combined with the costs of running its auto insurance business, State Farm lost $7 billion for the year in that segment.
That was 63 percent higher than its $4.4 billion auto underwriting loss in 2015.
State Farm’s staggering auto insurance loss is the most visible sign yet of how distracted driving and rising repair and medical costs are hammering car insurers. Many are hiking rates at levels not seen in years to try to keep pace with the claims payouts.
Overall, the company reported a profit of $400 million, down from $6.2 billion in 2015.
- Posted by Rich Miller
* Press release…
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and World Business Chicago (WBC) today announced that for the fourth consecutive year, Chicago ranked as the “Top Metro” in the United States for corporate investment by Site Selection Magazine. In 2016, the Chicago metro area saw more new and expanding corporate locations than any other area in the country.
“This is the fourth straight year the city of Chicago has been America’s number one city for corporate investment, a testament to both our talent and the investments we are making in our future,” Mayor Emanuel said. “Leading the country in corporate investment means more jobs and opportunities throughout Chicago. The city of Chicago has a bright future, and it is clear that businesses from across the country and around the world want to be part of what we are building here.”
The progress is continuing in 2017 - this past week alone, KPMG and GE Healthcare announced they are adding more than 1,000 jobs to Chicago. Today Mayor Emanuel joined Hickory Farms to announce the company is relocating its corporate headquarters to Chicago from Ohio.
In 2016, WBC tracked a record 350 business expansions and relocations in the Chicago metro. These projects accounted for more than $2.8 billion in investment and nearly 14,000 new jobs. Major relocations and expansions last year included: Beam Suntory, Mars Wrigley, McDonald’s, Wilson Sporting Goods and Motorola Solutions.
“When corporations choose Chicago, they join a tightly knit corporate community in a global city of talent and innovation, a city with engaged business and civic leaders,” WBC President & CEO Jeff Malehorn said. “We have global markets; our economy is diverse; our talent is diverse and we have unmatched assets. All of this serves up Chicago to be top of mind for companies making location and expansion decisions.”
“The Chicago area is a frequent first place finisher in our ranking of metros according to new and expanding projects announced the previous year,” Mark Arend, editor of Site Selection said. “This means corporate facility planners seeking a large metro location are finding in Chicago the location assets they most require.”
A key source for the corporate relocation community, Site Selection Magazine focuses on new corporate facility projects with significant impact, such as headquarters, manufacturing plants, R&D and logistics sites. In order to be considered, new facilities and expansions must meet at least one of three Site Selection criteria: (a) capital investment of at least $1 million, (b) create at least 20 new jobs or (c) add at least 20,000 square feet of new floor area. Site Selection is published by Conway Inc., which is headquartered in Atlanta, Ga.
There’s no doubt that part of the city is doing very well. Other parts are doing horribly, however.
President Donald Trump briefly returned to a favorite target during his first address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night, assailing gun violence in Chicago while pressing support for law enforcement to ensure public safety.
Trump said it was essential to “break the cycle of poverty” by also breaking “the cycle of violence.”
“In Chicago, more than 4,000 people were shot last year alone — and the murder rate so far this year has been even higher. This is not acceptable in our society,” Trump said to applause.
“Every American child should be able to grow up in a safe community, to attend a great school, and to have access to a high-paying job. But to create this future, we must work with — not against, not against — the men and women of law enforcement,” he said.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday publicly acknowledged he plans to build a high school in Englewood as part of his “holistic” strategy to fight crime by rebuilding long-neglected neighborhoods.
The mayor let the cat out of the bag during an appearance at the vacant site of the old Kennedy-King College.
The purpose of the news conference was to highlight a previously announced plan to sell 18 acres of city-owned land at North and Throop to private developers and rebuild the outdated vehicle maintenance facility on the Englewood site.
The project will bring 200 jobs to the impoverished Englewood community. In conjunction with the move by the city’s Department of Fleet and Facilities Management, the city is marketing a 4.9-acre property across the street for retail development.
* Emanuel may go it alone — without feds — to push police reforms: Although the mayor has signed an “agreement in principle” to negotiate a consent decree that may never happen, he promised once again to implement the reforms without or without court oversight. “I don’t want to do what Ferguson, Cleveland or Baltimore have done. We’re not gonna do it to officers. We are gonna listen to what officers need and actually give them the support so they can be professional and pro-active,” the mayor said.
* 44 killed in Chicago in February; 94 murdered so far in 2017: Since Jan. 1, at least 515 people have been shot in Chicago, according to Chicago Sun-Times data.
* Guaranteed Rate hiring nearly 300 in Chicago this year
* Outcome Health plans huge new HQ in River North
- Posted by Rich Miller
Illinois senators took another shot at the “grand bargain” Tuesday, approving several of the less-controversial components along with an expansion of gambling.
However, once again a pension reform bill failed to pass and the Senate postponed until Wednesday some of the stickier issues, including workers’ compensation, revamped school funding and a package of tax hikes intended to balance the budget.
Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, used a parliamentary tool to keep the pension reform bill alive for another vote, possibly yet this week. The Senate plans to vote Wednesday on other controversial components, including the tax hikes and school funding reform. The legislation is structured so that all of the dozen bills in the package have to be passed by both the Senate and House and signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner before any of them can become law.
The package was negotiated between Cullerton and Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont. Radogno said recently that the package had to be approved by Tuesday, the final day of February, or the Senate should just cede control of the process to House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago.
After Tuesday’s votes, Radogno said there were “very few” loose ends that still needed to be resolved. She said the votes were pretty much what she expected.
He did a good job summing up the key parts, so go read the whole thing.
Sen. Toi Hutchinson, an Olympia Fields Democrat who leads the revenue committee, said a permanent freeze may be too difficult to pass, noting it would hit schools and towns that rely on that money for day-to-day operations. Instead, lawmakers may pass a two-year freeze and let local voters decide whether to extend it for a few years beyond that.
Despite the fits and starts, Democrats eager for movement sought to paint the day as progress while at the same time warning that both parties will have to vote for something they don’t like if there’s ever going to be an end to the stalemate. They also note any action in the Senate is just a first step, as the House would have its say before the plan could reach the governor’s desk.
“People just have to understand this is, this is a classic compromise,” said Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago. “So you get as much as you can and you don’t overestimate how much you think you’re entitled to. So that’s what we are trying to do.”
Democratic Senate President John Cullerton also will call for a do-over on his pension overhaul plan, years in the making, which failed Tuesday. Cullerton was unfazed despite the roll call on a plan even Republicans agree has Rauner’s backing.
“Hopefully, overnight, people can reflect on what’s at stake here,” Cullerton said. […]
The Senate’s GOP still showed reticence Tuesday to climb aboard, arguing there shouldn’t be votes on any part of the plan until it’s all worked out behind closed doors. But their fears should be tempered by knowing Cullerton has tied all the pieces together, said Assistant Republican Leader Dave Syverson of Rockford. If one fails, none of them moves forward.
“Some members thought that maybe by holding off on doing this today, it would put pressure on the leadership to get the rest of it finalized,” Syverson said. “But the fact that all the bills are tied together — everything that passed today is useless unless the rest of it passes.”
* Greg Hinz…
“If 4.99 percent sounds high, let’s look at the level if you have $20 billion in debt,” a figure the state could reach by mid-2018, said Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields, chairman of the Senate Revenue Committee.
“What disturbs me is the people who don’t feel any pressure” to do something about that, she added.
The revenue bill also would expand the state’s earned-income tax credit by half.
The pension bill was supposed to have been approved yesterday. But with Democrats not wanting to offend labor groups, and some Republicans wanting bigger changes, the measure got only 26 votes before it was placed on postponed consideration, a parliamentary maneuver that will allow a second vote later.
Sources close to Radogno and Cullerton both said they believe that’s doable.
* Raw audio of Cullerton’s media availability…
- Posted by Rich Miller
[Bumped up for visibility.]
Aurora mayor (Top two in April 4 runoff)
Linda Chapa LaVia Nonpartisan 2,821 25.6%
Richard Guzman Nonpartisan 3,131 28.4%
Richard Irvin Nonpartisan 3,502 31.8%
Michael Saville Nonpartisan 1,566 14.2%
* Subscribers know a big reason why this happened. It’s the anti-Madigan meme…
- Posted by Rich Miller
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