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Thursday, Dec 22, 2011

* Idiots

For 32 years, nearly half as a tactical officer, Jim Sak was a cop chasing down bad guys on the streets of Chicago.

Now that he’s retired and living in tiny Aurelia, Ia., the townsfolk are chasing him — to get rid of “Snickers,” a five-year-old Pit bull-mix service dog he needs after suffering a debilitating stroke that left him with no feeling on the right side of his body.

On orders from the Aurelia City Council, a heartbroken Sak has shipped his beloved protector off to a kennel just outside of the Iowa town where he moved last month to be closer to his ailing, 87-year-old mother-in-law. If he hadn’t gotten rid of Snickers, city fathers had threatened to seize and destroy the dog.

The mandate sets the stage for a landmark lawsuit on grounds that the federal Americans for Disabilities Act (ADA) guarantees people with disabilities the right to have service dogs, regardless of their breed. […]

George Wittgraf, an attorney representing the Iowa town, said Aurelia is “simply exercising its authority to protect and preserve the rights and property of its residents — whether or not that’s trumped by” federal law.

Over 600,000 Americans died in a civil war over that very question, Mr. Wittgraf. And your side lost. Badly. Get over it.

So, no, your little town cannot unilaterally nullify federal laws, doofus. Sheesh, man, are your law books that old?

I thoroughly despise northern neoconfederates.

* This is odd. The State Journal-Register demanded that a Republican candidate explain his totally silly non-plan

Dennis Shackelford, owner of the Judy’s Hallmark shops in Springfield, formally announced his candidacy for the Illinois House Wednesday, saying he understands that taxpayers should be treated like the important customers they are.

“I know business,” Shackelford, flanked by family members and state Reps. Raymond Poe, R-Springfield, and Rich Brauer, R-Petersburg, told supporters in the Statehouse rotunda. “I’m a job creator.” […]

He said he believes in taking care of young people, the elderly, and “people who can’t take care of themselves.”

He’d like to see the recent state income-tax increases rolled back and said the state budget could be balanced by getting rid of fat. However, he didn’t propose any specific cuts, saying only that consolidating some services, including combining some school districts, could be possibilities.

He’s for more spending, but he wants to cut spending. OK, I can see how that ridiculous platform would be challenged. But what about this Democrat’s plan?

Brad Gillespie, an attorney, military veteran, school board member and former laborer from Shipman, says job creation will be his focus as he runs as a Democrat for the Illinois House in the new 95th District.

“The number one focus of my campaign is to get our economy back on track and get people working again,” Gillespie, 46, said in a recent campaign announcement. “The Republican Party has shown that they are beholden to the big banks and special interests. … I believe we need to return to the hardworking values that built this country and made America great.”

No SJ-R challenge was issued to Democrat Gillespie to explain his grandiose plans. That’s too bad.

* Speaking of the SJ-R, on Tuesday the paper published an editorial entitled “Lawmakers shrug off those who can’t lobby.” The very next day, the paper made this announcement

State Journal-Register executive editor Jon K. Broadbooks resigned Wednesday to take a job with a statewide trade association.

Broadbooks, who joined the SJ-R in 2008, will become director of communications for the Illinois Association of Realtors. He begins his new role in early January.

Ironic, no?

* From the text of Illinois’ civil unions law

A party to a civil union is entitled to the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections, and benefits as are afforded or recognized by the law of Illinois to spouses, whether they derive from statute, administrative rule, policy, common law, or any other source of civil or criminal law.

* Ummm

City aldermen in Springfield have decided that partners of employees in a civil union will not be covered by insurance.

Since the city is self-insured, city officials say they are not required to offer the same benefits to those in a civil union.

Lisa? Are you paying attention?

…Adding… OK, the city doesn’t have to comply with the state law because of an overriding federal law on self insurance. Not being a neoconfederate means I have to take this back. Sorry.

…Adding More... Letter from Ald. Sam Cahnman to WAND TV, which broadcast the above report…

To: WAND TV News

The story on your website reporting that Springfield Aldermen have denied health coverage to Civil Union Partners of City employees is erroneous.

That decision was made by the City’s Joint Labor/Management Health Care Committee. This is a Committee that was set up under an agreement entered into between the City and the City labor unions in 2002 under former Mayor Karen Hasara. It was reauthorized in 2005 under the late Mayor Tim Davlin.

The Committee consists of 5 apponted by the labor unions, 2 appointed by the City Council and 3 non-represented City employee appointed by the Mayor to represent Management.

The 2 aldermen on the Committee are Frank Edwards (Ward 1) and Steve Dove (Ward 9) (also State Senate Candidate).

On September 12th, Aldermen Doris Turner (Ward 3), Cory Jobe (Ward 6) and I (Ward 5) wrote a letter to the Committee urging it to provide coverage to Civil Union partners of City employees. I presented the letter to the Committee at their September meeting and made a presentation to the Commitee.

Since then, the Committee recently voted unanimously to deny coverage. Below are comments I made to a State Journal-Register reporter about this.

Aldermen Turner, Jobe and I have asked the Corporation Counsel to draft an ordinance mandating coverage for Civil Union partners of City employees. Also, today I learned that only 100 of the 106 Civil Union licenses issued in Sangamon County have been returned. Therefore, it is unlikely that any more than a handful of city employiees, if any, are in Civil Unions. Therefore, the financial impact would likely be insignificant.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - PublicServant - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 6:29 am:

    I’ve found that laws where people cite the public good as their justification, seldom produce much good for the public.

  2. - Michelle Flaherty - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 6:52 am:

    I’m pretty sure Snickers thinks Illinois is a great place to live. Perhaps we could introduce Snickers to the Wooters clan and the “free market” Illinois Policy Institute.

  3. - RFR - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 9:09 am:

    Springfield is probably correct about the legality of its proposed health care plan. ERISA trumps virtually all state regulations related to employee health benefit plans, particularly when those plans are self funded.

  4. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 9:17 am:

    RFR is correct. I work for a self insured company. The company had to decide if we would insure same-sex couples. They decided they would cover them.

  5. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 9:26 am:

    Good ol Springfield. Not sure how much of a spouse’s premium is covered, anybody know?

  6. - Bigtwich - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 9:28 am:

    Governmental plans within the meaning of section 3(32) of Title I of ERISA are excluded from ERISA Title I coverage by section 4(b)(1) of Title I of ERISA.

  7. - Cheryl44 - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 9:45 am:

    We can let those Iowans know what we think of them:

    Barb Messerole, City Clerk
    Cindy Kai, Deputy City Clerk

    236 Main Street
    Aurelia, IA 51005
    Phone: (712) 434-2025
    Fax: (712) 434-5986

  8. - dupage dan - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 10:00 am:

    That ex-cop and his dog are apparently being represented by an outside entity with some resources so he can fight the good fight and not have the hefty legal bills to pay. Who here thinks the town will reconsider in short order?

  9. - walkinfool - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 10:09 am:

    yeah, Rich. It’s ironic how many Illinoisans ignore the lessons and victory of the Union, which led to our growth into the greatest nation on earth, and for which our state was arguably the greatest contributor.

  10. - wordlslinger - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 10:09 am:

    –Aurelia — Savor the Sweet Life!

    –The friendly citizens of Aurelia welcome you to enjoy what could be the most
    informative small town website in the nation! Located in Northwest Iowa, Aurelia is the
    home to nearly 1,100 people. We’re a safe, quiet, and clean community, where everyone
    knows and cares about their neighbors.–

    I’d encourage Mr. Sak to reach out to Sen. Harkin of Iowa. He, along with Sens. Kennedy, Hatch and Dole, were instrumental in passing ADA (what a strange era that must have been, when liberal Democrats and real GOP conservatives could find common ground to advance the greater good).

    Harkin’s a legend in Iowa and a tough old bird to boot. He might be able to talk some common sense into some folks up there.

  11. - downstate commissioner - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 10:10 am:

    3 dumb aldermen + 1 dumb lawyer with a big mouth= one huge payout in legal fees and settlement costs.
    Feel sympathy for the City Clerk and Deputy over the emails they will get, especially since I would assume that, like in Illinois, they don’t have a vote.

  12. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 10:43 am:

    I think you have the wrong link on the snippet for Brad Gillespie, Rich. Let’s just say it doesn’t surprise me that the SJ-R tried to play gotcha with the Republican and let the Democrat candidate slip by. 20 years ago it was the other way around, but that’s clearly been the SJ-R’s tilt the last few years.

  13. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 12:24 pm:

    @Rich -

    Chin up — you’re only half wrong.

    The city of Springfield will be ineligible for state contracts and state funding if it fails to provide equal coverage for civil unions partners.

    Just like Catholic Charities, they are free to discriminate, but they are not free to discriminate as the state’s surrogate and with state tax dollars.

    As for Aurelia, Iowa, I note with additional irony that the American Staffordshire Terrier (a.k.a pit bull) played a key role for the American Armed forces in both WW I and WW II, delivering messages on the battlefield, and they were also popular among farmers during the 19th and earlier 20th century for protection and herding of cattle.

    In other words, Aurelia is anti-veteran and anti-farmer.

  14. - Robert - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 2:07 pm:

    ===No SJ-R challenge was issued to Democrat Gillespie to explain his grandiose plans. That’s too bad.===

    I do wish newspapers did a better job of challenging candidates on what their specific plans are.

    Candidates’ web sites, sometimes even for congress, often lack this important info. Too often reporting is just covering the horse race or polling.

  15. - D.P. Gumby - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 7:10 pm:

    What a litany of the bad, the dumb and the ugly!

  16. - DRB - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 7:57 pm:

    Rich, it is my understanding the city aldermen did not make this decision. There is a separate board made of city employees and perhaps an alderman or two who made this decision in a unanimous vote. In fact, now alderman are talking about overriding this decision.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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