* 8:03 pm - Republican Congressman Aaron Schock is calling around this evening to inform people that he’s announcing Friday that he will not run for governor.
* 9:03 pm- The story is spreading so I took off the password protection.
* FRIDAY, 8:00 am - From a press release…
Aaron Schock has chosen to run for re-election to Congress in 2014
(PEORIA, IL) Last fall Congressman Aaron Schock said he was considering whether he could do the most good by running for re-election to Congress or by running for Governor of Illinois. After carefully considering both options, today he is announcing that he has chosen to run for Congress again in 2014.
The ISRA has learned that an anti-gun senator from Chicago has written a horrible “may issue” concealed carry bill that would “carve” Cook County out from the rest of the state. In effect, this bill would allow the Cook County Sheriff and the Chicago Superintendant to deny permit applications filed by Cook County residents. Furthermore, carry permits issued in other counties would be VOID in Cook County. In other words, it would be illegal for you to carry a defensive firearm in the place you need it most – Cook County.
It is important that every firearm owner in the state call their State Senator and express opposition to this bill – it affects every one of us, not just Cook County residents. No matter where you live in the state, as a gun owner you cannot sit idly by and watch millions of good citizens in Cook County have their civil rights trampled. If this bill passes, it won’t be long until the obstacles to concealed carry erected by Cook County will spread to many other counties in the state. You must act now!
As of the writing of this Action Alert, no bill number has been assigned to this bad carry bill. The Senate leadership is playing a shell game with us. There is no telling where it will pop up. Nonetheless, it is very important that you follow the instructions in this alert!
Remember. . .
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart does not have the right to decide if you are worth defending or not.
Chicago Police Superintendent Gerry McCarthy does not have the right to decide whether you will live or die.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel does not have the right to condemn your family members to rape, robbery and murder.
A Republican congressman from Virginia who chairs a key appropriations panel lashed out Wednesday over the federal government’s purchase of a vacant Illinois prison, telling Attorney General Eric Holder that he “really created a mess with your bailing out the state of Illinois with the Thomson prison purchase.”
Rep. Frank Wolf, of Vienna, Va., in suburban Washington, chairs a House Appropriations subcommittee that funds the Justice Department.
Wolf will be instrumental in approval of money necessary to upgrade and open the prison, where the Obama administration once hoped to send detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Now the administration wants federal prisoners held there.
* This warning has appeared above the comment box for years…
Inappropriate or excessively rabid comments, gratuitous insults and “rumors” will be deleted or held for moderation. Profanity is absolutely not acceptable in any form. “Sock puppetry” is forbidden. All violators risk permanent banishment without warning and may be blocked from accessing this site. Also, please try to be a little bit original.
Today, I added a new line…
In other words, do your best to be civilized and smart.
* The Question: How do you think you can be more “civilized and smart” in comments?
The panelists at times struggled to find common ground, and the deep divide between stakeholders on how to fix the pension funding crisis was painfully evident.
But a pension reform forum sponsored Wednesday by the Daily Herald and the nonpartisan reform website Reboot Illinois did produce civil discourse in the organizations’ attempt to further understanding of the $100 billion mess and, hopefully, prompt meaningful steps toward a solution.
There are no magic solutions to this mess. Legislators are intensely divided. Outsiders and “good government” types think it should be easy, and maybe it should be, but that isn’t legislative or political reality.
And if anybody thinks attending a forum on this topic will “prompt meaningful steps toward a solution” then I want some of whatever they’re smoking. I mean, is Rep. Tom Morrison going to back away from his 401(k) plan because he attended a forum? Nope…
One of the first questions asked to those in the audience was how many in attendance were state employees. When a strong majority in the room raised their hands, Morrison framed his argument that pensions should be moved to employee-managed 401(k)-style accounts with another question to those employees: “Who trusts Springfield politicians?”
“My ideal solution is to get the state out of the defined benefit pension plan,” he said. “One thing we can all agree on is that we can’t trust politicians who have been representing us down in Springfield.”
“I want to be perfectly clear here that if you go to tailgate at a football game you will not be able to smoke at you car, standing next to your cookout grill, is that correct?” Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, asked Link. […]
Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, ridiculed the bill on the floor.
“So a university employee who is riding on a tractor, out in the middle of the university farm at the University of Illinois or Illinois State University, and who is literally so far away from anyone else that someone would have to use a telescope to see that they’re smoking a cigarette, that person under your bill would be banned from smoking a cigarette?” Righter asked. Link admitted the person would be banned from smoking.
“Surely all of us can get on board with the notion that the duly appointed members of the boards of trustees should be able to make some decisions,” he said. “And that the person who is literally a football field away from anyone else, working on a construction site and wants to have a cigarette, poses exactly no health risk to anyone else. There is a point, even for those who believe in the most active of governments, to which you say, ‘You know what, even Springfield’s arm isn’t that long.’”
* State prison officials want more money: In a Senate hearing Wednesday, Corrections budget chief Brian Gleck-ler said the department is requesting about $41.8 million to finish out the fiscal year, which ends June 30. The money is needed because Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration was or-dered to pay wage hikes to employees it had withheld during tight budget times two years ago.
* Yesterday, the Chicago Tribune editorial board thundered its outrage over not being able to obtain an official copy of the new AFSCME contract with the state…
We’ve been asking for a copy since Feb. 28, the day the two sides announced the agreement. Quinn’s office said we had to wait until union members ratified the contract. That happened on March 19.
Since then, we’ve been told the lawyers needed time to tidy up the paperwork.
A full month of tidying? Sorry, but we’re out of patience. Taxpayers are picking up the tab for this contract. They deserve to know how much Quinn and the employee union ordered up in pay and benefits. In fact, taxpayers should have the opportunity to weigh in before the contract gets finalized with Quinn’s signature.
* So, I contacted a few folks to see if I could find out what was going on. Why couldn’t we get an official copy? We’ve already seen the copy that went out to union members, but what about the final copy? Anders Lindall with AFSCME e-mailed me back late yesterday afternoon…
As you know, once finalized, our state contract is publicly available; the previous contract is posted in its entirety on the CMS website. With respect to the new agreement, you and others have reported on all key provisions, even publishing our internal summary that covers economic issues as well changes in workplace practices, policies and procedures. But at this point, with the contract not yet signed and the parties still finalizing finely-tuned language changes, there is simply nothing more to release.
Wait. The contract isn’t signed? It was ratified weeks ago.
The Administration has moved forward to fulfill these commitments:
1. The FY 14 budget that the governor submitted to the General Assembly includes funding to bring all employees to their proper wage level pursuant to the previous and the current contract.
2. The Administration is now moving forward on the dispersal of the escrowed funds. These are monies that the union had demonstrated to the court were appropriated in the FY12 budget and could therefore be used toward payment of the back wages owed for FY12. There is approximately $42 million in this fund. Many of the dollars are restricted in how they can be allocated (e.g., federal grants for specific purposes or appropriations for specific agencies), so the distribution to employees will not be uniform and the restrictions may prevent all of the $42 million from being distributed. Allocation of these funds is in the process of final review and affected employees will be notified in the coming weeks.
3. The remainder of the back pay owed (approximately $154 million) requires a supplemental appropriation by the General Assembly. The Administration has drafted the supplemental and expects it to be introduced next week.
4. The Governor’s Office notified Attorney General Lisa Madigan that the appeal of the circuit court ruling should be withdrawn. To date, the Attorney General has failed to do so, indicating that she is conducting a thorough review of the case before reaching a decision as to how to proceed.
Council 31 staff have been working intensively for weeks now to finalize the new contract, which requires ensuring the accuracy of the specific wording of the contract language and verifying all elements of the health plan and other economic components.
However, the new contract has not been signed, pending the state’s action on the lawsuit. [Emphasis added.]
So, it’s not all about the “language.” Attorney General Madigan is holding up the union’s signature. I’ll ask her why right now. Check back.
But, yes, the health plan language is still a sticking point. There’s some debate over what type of health plan should now be used. More on that another time.
*** UPDATE 2 *** The attorney general’s office responds…
It’s our understanding that the full payment of backpay is dependent on a special appropriation. We know the Legislature, the Governor and AFSCME are working on that. In the meantime, until a special appropriation bill moves forward, it’s most appropriate to put the lawsuits on hold, as the Governor, the legislature and AFSCME continue their work.
* I never would’ve thought this could be a problem, but it is for at least one person, so the Senate just approved a bill to help him out…
A measure that would allow an Edgar County man to stop paying child support for a teenager who isn’t his was approved 52-0 by the Illinois Senate.
The measure, SB 1867, was sponsored by Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, and was introduced to aid Brad Entrican, a Paris man who earlier told a Senate committee that he has been paying child support for years but didn’t learn until after DNA testing in 2011 that he was not the father of the boy, who is now 13. Attempts to resolve the case through administrative procedures and in the courts failed because Entrican had not filed his petition within the two-year statute of limitations.
The legislation allows a man to continue to challenge a finding of paternity after the statute of limitations has been filed when there is DNA evidence supporting him. […]
Entrican had said earlier this year that he didn’t challenge the paternity until the summer of 2011, after meeting the boy for the first time. He had failed to appear for a scheduled genetic testing in 2001 because at the time, he had no reason to doubt he was the boy’s father.
A fascinating personal story. I can’t help but feel sorry for the kid, though. Now what does he do?
In April 2012, Peoples Gas established the Utility Workers Training Program (UWTP) for military veterans—a $3.5 million multi-partner and union-backed training-to-placement program for those who have honorably served our country. To date, 60 veterans have completed the program and 42 have started a career as a gas utility worker at Peoples Gas.
Through this program, veterans develop the skills they need to enter Illinois’ natural gas industry. The curriculum of core classes has enabled each student to earn 52 college credits toward an AA degree. The new employees have also earned their Gas Utility Worker Advanced Certification at Dawson Technical Institute, a satellite site of Kennedy-King College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago.
The UWTP was created to support Peoples Gas’ Accelerated Main Replacement Program (AMRP) to replace 2,000 miles of cast and ductile iron mains in its distribution system. This project has already created over 1,000 jobs, including UWTP graduates.
The Natural Gas Modernization, Public Safety and Jobs Bill (SB 1665/HB 2414), is needed to allow natural gas utilities to confidently invest and continue hiring in Illinois. If it is not passed, Peoples Gas will be forced to slow or halt its pipeline modernization project, which would threaten the jobs that are putting Illinois veterans to work.
Members of the General Assembly: vote YES on SB 1665/HB 2414.
* Sen. Dan Duffy (R-Lake Barrington) was not at all happy with a bill that passed his chamber yesterday. Duffy was so angry that he posted a diatribe about the bill on his Facebook page, blasting his own Republican leader and two fellow GOP members, both likely gubernatorial candidates…
* Sen. Duffy has been an ardent opponent of red light cams ever since he received two red light tickets in three days at the very same red light. Video of the first infraction…
Under the proposal, local municipalities or counties would have to sign off before a school district could use the cameras because penalties for going around a stopped bus would need to be reviewed by law enforcement rather than school officials. Sponsoring Sen. Tony Munoz, D-Chicago, said school districts would receive the bulk of the money from fines and the rest would be used to underwrite costs of the program. A first offense would cost $150 and a second offense $500, Munoz said.
But the bill drew a skeptical eye from Sen. Dan Duffy, who challenged the need for the bill and feared that the cameras could lead to more controversies. As of mid-April, Redflex said it had been awarded 25 school bus contracts and 18 trial programs in eight states: Rhode Island, Connecticut, Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, Maine, Alabama and Washington.
Redflex is expanding into automated school bus cameras amid the federal probe of its Chicago red-light program that has led to questions from officials across the country. Federal authorities issued a subpoena for financial records of a former city official at the center of the escalating international scandal after the Tribune raised questions in October about the city’s contract with Redflex.
Duffy contended that the lobbyists for camera companies and lawmakers who support the measure are supporting one more way to squeeze “cold hard cash” from the taxpayers of Illinois. “This is the next generation of red-light cameras,” said Duffy, R-Lake Barrington.
* Duffy’s remarks went beyond even that. Sun-Times…
Duffy also alluded to a Chicago Tribune report on a federal bribery investigation into Chicago’s red-light camera program and a rival purveyor of red-light cameras, Redflex Traffic Systems - a probe Duffy bombastically characterized Wednesday as the “largest scandal in Illinois history.”
“It’s the same camera company and the same camera lobbyists associated with Gov. Blagojevich and other scandals who’s promoting this bill,” said state Sen. Dan Duffy (R-Lake Barrington), who has been a frequent critic of red-light cameras.
Neither RedSpeed nor Redflex testified in favor of Munoz’ bill in Senate committee, legislative records show.
“Here he stands now, saying there’s corruption about cameras, the worse there has ever been and bringing up Blagojevich. We took that matter up, and we know where he is,” Munoz said, referring at first to Duffy and then the imprisoned governor.
“You like to go around cameras,” Munoz snapped, his voice rising in a direct verbal hit on Duffy. “You drive right through them, you in your fancy car, your fancy suit. You want to bring it up? I can do it too.”
Sen. Munoz referenced an IDOT study which found that about 120 drivers reported seeing over 3,000 instances of drivers going around school buses with stop signs extended outward.
* Thanks to our very good friends at BlueRoomStream.com, you can watch the interchange, which begins at just after the 1-hour, 3-minute mark. The “good stuff” starts about ten minutes later…
* Sen. Dan Kotowski has a “puppy lemon law” proposal…
Consumers who buy a new dog or cat only to find out it has a serious disease or ailment would have a new form of recourse under an Illinois Senate proposal.
The Senate Executive Committee voted 8-5 Wednesday in favor of a bill described as a “puppy lemon law.”
The legislation would allow people who buy a dog or cat at a pet store to get a replacement or a refund if the animal needs veterinary care for certain illnesses or conditions within 20 days of purchase. The buyer also could seek damages for the cost of veterinary care.
Provides that, if there is an outbreak of distemper, parvovirus, or any other contagious and potentially life-threatening disease affecting more than 2 dogs at a seller’s pet shop or kennel within a 60-day period, then the seller shall provide each customer that purchases a dog a written notice stating the nature of the outbreak, and shall notify the State Veterinarian of the outbreak within 2 business days after becoming aware that a third animal has contracted the disease.
Provides that a customer who purchased a dog from a seller is entitled to a remedy if certain conditions relating to a disease, illness, condition, or death of the dog are met. Sets forth conditions that a customer shall meet to obtain a remedy from a seller and a timeframe in which the seller shall provide a reimbursement to the customer. Provides that a customer may not be entitled to a remedy if the customer fails to meet certain requirements. Provides that a seller may contest a remedy sought by a customer. Provides that if a customer and seller do not reach an agreement within 10 business days, then the parties may agree to binding arbitration or the customer may bring suit in a court of competent jurisdiction. Changes certain references from “pet shop operator” to “seller”.
* Republicans said that Kotowski should’ve also included pet shelters in the bill, even though everyone in the room knew there was no way the Republicans would ever vote for such a thing. They were simply using one of the arguments put forth by the pet store opponents…
Opponents of the proposal took issue with animal shelters being exempted, which leave those who adopt cats or dogs from shelters with no similar recourse.
Kotowski said there is a huge difference between spending $1,000 for a dog at a pet store versus the smaller amount one pays a shelter for immunizations.
He likened it to the difference between purchasing an item from Nordstrom versus going to a thrift shop.
State Sen. Dale Righter, a Charleston Republican, took exception with Kotowski’s characterization, saying he was essentially saying those who cannot afford to buy from a pet store don’t deserve consumer protection.