|Pet shop criminals
Thursday, Jan 29, 2015 - Posted by Rich Miller
* First it was PetSmart in broad daylight…
Two men accused of an armed robbery in the Springfield PetSmart parking lot have been arrested.
Police say Tyler Sigretto, 21, and Dakota Davis, 20, both of Springfield, were arrested over the weekend following the Friday morning incident. Sigretto and Davis allegedly approached two people in the parking lot with guns and demanded personal belongings.
* And then Nature’s Select, also in broad daylight…
Springfield police are looking for a man who robbed the Nature’s Select Pet Store Wednesday afternoon.
Police described the robber as a dark-skinned black man with a thin build who is 20 to 30 years old and between 6 feet and 6-foot-2. He was wearing a light gray sweatshirt and sweat pants.
The man entered the store at 540 W. Monroe St. around 3:35 p.m. armed with a box cutter. He demanded money from an employee but fled on foot when a customer entered the business.
I regularly bring Oscar to both of those stores.
I know I shouldn’t be, but this has me a bit rattled.
* I find it nearly impossible to argue with this U of I press release…
The University of Illinois must balance all of the interests of its campuses and the institution in reaching any decision, particularly one as important as granting a positon as a member of our faculty.
Last summer, while Steven Salaita was still under consideration for a tenured position to teach courses comparing issues related to the experiences of Native Americans to issues related to Palestinians and the Middle East, Dr. Salaita began demonstrating that he lacked the professional fitness to serve on the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Specifically, Dr. Salaita began making a series of statements via social media on precisely the subject matter that he proposed to teach at our University. For example, on June 19, 2014, after three Israeli teenagers were reported kidnapped and presumed dead, Dr. Salaita posted a statement on Twitter which read: “You may be too refined to say it, but I’m not: I wish all the f**king West Bank settlers would go missing.” Dr. Salaita continued to post this comment even after the three teens were found murdered later that month.
Dr. Salaita also posted statements such as:
“Zionist uplift in America: every little Jewish boy and girl can grow up to be the leader of a monstrous colonial regime.”
“If #Israel affirms life, then why do so many Zionists celebrate the slaughter of children? What’s that? Oh, I see JEWISH life.”
“Zionists: transforming antisemitism [sic] from something horrible into something honorable since 1948.”
“Let’s cut to the chase: If you’re defending #Israel right now you’re an awful human being.”
These statements and many more like them demonstrate that Dr. Salaita lacks the judgment, temperament and thoughtfulness to serve as a member of our faculty in any capacity, but particularly to teach courses related to the Middle East.
As Dr. Salaita admits in the complaint he filed today, the offer he received in October 2013 from the American Indian Studies Program was at all times subject to the ultimate approval of the Board of Trustees. This is consistent with the Statutes of the University of Illinois and the past precedent of the University. Dr. Salaita was well aware of the importance of this final approval. At no time was Dr. Salaita hired as a faculty member. His appointment was always subject to approval by the Board of Trustees.
On September 11, 2014, after carefully considering all of the issues related to Dr. Salaita’s proposed appointment, the Board of Trustees voted 8-1 not to approve Dr. Salaita for a position on the faculty. Two weeks ago, the Board emphatically reiterated that its decision is final and will not be reconsidered.
The Board’s decision concerning Dr. Salaita was not reached hastily. Nor was it the result of external pressures. Indeed, the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure concurred that “donor influence” was not a basis for the decision. The decision did not present a “new approach” to the consideration of proposed faculty appointments. It represented the careful exercise of each Board member’s fiduciary duty and a balancing of all of the interests of the University of Illinois. In the end, this is a responsibility that cannot be delegated nor abdicated.
Today, Dr. Salaita has filed a complaint in federal court. Among other accusations, he contends that the individual trustees and administrators of the University of Illinois are liable for intentionally inflicting emotional distress by refusing to provide him with a faculty position. The University of Illinois intends to vigorously defend against these and each of Dr. Salaita’s other meritless claims. The University has attempted to negotiate a settlement for his reasonable losses and expenses, but he has refused those offers.
As a private citizen, Dr. Salaita has the constitutional right to make any public statement he chooses. Dr. Salaita, however, does not have a constitutional right to a faculty position at the University of Illinois.
|Today’s number: 1 hour
Thursday, Jan 29, 2015 - Posted by Rich Miller
* The House passed its rules yesterday 70-46. One Democrat was absent. All Republicans voted against it…
Republicans objected to the rules, saying they lack transparency and give too much power to lame-duck legislators. Representative Ed Sullivan, a Republican from Mundelein, wants to extend the time period that information is posted online before legislators can debate a bill. The rules require only a one-hour notice before a hearing.
“I want to talk a little bit about the voice of the public, those that we serve, and what their voice is within the rules, and their ability to have more transparency,” Sullivan said.
House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie disagrees and says an hour is plenty of time.
“There is every opportunity for the public to participate in the first place in our budget debates through committee hearings, so I would urge that ours is a transparent, accountable process, and I see no reason for any changes,” Currie said.
Obviously, an hour is not “plenty of time.”
The new rules are here.
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|Simon Institute releases study of 2014 campaign
Thursday, Jan 29, 2015 - Posted by Rich Miller
* Reboot pulls some fun facts from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute’s new report on the 2014 election. Here are some of them…
* Quinn’s nominal Democratic primary opponent made his mark
Though Chicago community activist Tio Hardiman was “an unknown candidate from Chicago who had no money, no media, and no campaign staff,” he won 30 downstate counties and 28 percent of the vote statewide in the Democratic primary.
* Counties that supported Quinn in 2010 election paid a price — from Quinn
Pat Quinn won election to a full term in 2010 by only 31,000 votes. He carried only four counties: Cook, Alexander, Jackson and St. Clair. After winning the election, he closed state facilities in Alexander and Jackson counties to save money. In Alexander County, where Quinn closed Tamms Correctional Center (the county’s largest employer) in 2013, Quinn won only 37 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary and lost to Rauner by 5 percentage points in November. He carried only one county — Cook — but by a margin 3 percent lower than in 2010.
* Low voter turnout doomed Quinn
Quinn needed his party base turnout to be nearly as high as in the 2012 presidential election. Instead, turnout in Chicago was “one of the lowest in modern times” and statewide turnout of 49 percent was nearly as dismal.
* Illinois has moved from “dark blue” to “leans Democratic”
National pundits should not write off Illinois as a solidly blue state: “The results in 2010 and especially in 2014 show that in any given election with the right circumstances and the right candidates Republicans can certainly win statewide elections. This is especially true in the mid-term elections which are lower turnout elections disadvantaging the Democrats.”
The full report is here.
|The little guys are winning
Thursday, Jan 29, 2015 - Posted by Rich Miller
* State and local video gaming receipts more than doubled last year…
According to the Illinois Gaming Board, state revenue from the machines topped $164.8 million in 2014, up from $75.1 million in 2013. Municipalities received $32.9 million, compared to $15 million the year before.
The money flowed in as gamblers poured more than $2.4 billion into the machines over the 12-month period, winning $1.7 billion of that back. Five percent of the revenue goes to cities, towns and counties, while 25 percent goes to the state.
Since the first 61 machines went online in September 2012 at a handful of bars and restaurants, the number of machines and locations has mushroomed to 19,182 machines in 4,675 locations.
While the revenue is helping pay for state construction projects, the spread of the machines is being blamed for a corresponding decrease in revenue for the state’s 10 casinos.
Those casinos had a monopoly and huge profits for a very long time, while local tavern owners faced arrest for offering similar gambling options to their patrons. It wasn’t fair.
The Illinois Gaming Board says revenue from casinos fell nearly $87 million in 2014 from a year earlier. Tom Swoik, executive director of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association, blamed the decline on the spread of video gambling machines.
“I constantly hear from people who say they can just go down to the corner bar and play the slots, rather than driving to a casino,” Swoik said.
Casino admission fell 1.4 million from 2013 to 2014. Lawmakers have long talked about adding more casinos in the state. […]
Video gambling machines are banned in 175 municipalities, down from 200 a year earlier.
* Springfield gaming terminals up 46 percent in 2014; revenue hits $1M
* From January 16th..
Chicago Public Schools are set to defy a mandate to launch a standardized exam districtwide this spring, despite the potential for sanctions that could include some loss of federal funding.
The district said it will administer the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test, or PARCC, to just 66 of its more than 600 schools as an extension of a pilot program that began last year. The rest of the schools will continue to administer NWEA-MAP and EPAS exams.
School district chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s decision to snub PARCC, which she said was made in conjunction with the school board, could have national implications and play a role in a congressional debate over laws that created rigorous Common Core standards and a divisive system of high-stakes testing.
* Greg Hinz reports the cost to the state might be as high as $1.17 billion…
The threat came in a previously unpublicized letter to Illinois Schools Superintendent Christopher Koch from Deborah Delisle, the assistant U.S. education secretary, but also has been privately communicated in conversations that state officials are taking very seriously.
“We are greatly concerned about it,” the Rev. James Meeks, the new chairman of the state school board, told me.
“We are working through the process,” Meeks continued, with a “hope” that the matter can be resolved without financial loss to CPS or the state, which receives most federal school funds and distributes them to local districts.[…]
The letter mentioned several categories of assistance that, collectively, amount to $1.17 billion to Illinois in fiscal 2015, according to the state board.
The $1.17 billion represents about 84 percent of federal education aid to Illinois, excluding school lunch and breakfast programs. Of all dollars spent in the state on grade and high schools, about one in 10 comes from the feds—so losing all of the $1.17 billion really would bite
The letter is here.
* A new Chicago Tribune poll has Mayor Rahm Emanuel leading the pack, but still not avoiding a runoff. But the trend is his friend…
In August, a Tribune poll found 46 percent of voters had an unfavorable view of Emanuel while just 29 percent viewed him favorably. The new survey shows Emanuel has turned that around, with 43 percent viewing him favorably compared with 35 percent who look at him in an unfavorable light.
Similarly, the August poll found more than half of the city’s voters — 52 percent — disapproved of Emanuel’s job performance compared with 35 percent who approved. Again, the latest poll found Emanuel had recovered some, as voters were split over his stewardship of the city: 44 percent voiced approval and 42 percent disapproval.
The most notable factor in Emanuel’s turnaround is African-American voters’ view of him. Back in August, nearly six in 10 black voters disapproved of Emanuel’s handling of City Hall. Now, that group of voters is split, with 40 percent approving of Emanuel and 42 percent disapproving. Continued street violence and closing of nearly 50 schools, many in predominantly black neighborhoods, had helped drive Emanuel’s unpopularity among some black voters. […]
The latest poll found Emanuel with a sizable lead among black voters, garnering 39 percent, followed by Wilson with 14 percent, Garcia with 10 percent, Fioretti with 7 percent and Walls with 2 percent. Wilson and Walls are the two African-American candidates in the race.
* Emanuel expands fundraising lead
* Sneed exclusive: Rahm endorsed by 15 labor unions
Jim Kaitschuk, who has been executive director of the Illinois Pork Producers, is the new legislative director for Gov. Bruce Rauner.
“I think we can certainly appreciate the challenges that this great state faces,” Kaitschuk said in a news release from the agricultural group he has been with since 2003. […]
Kaitschuk, Rauner spokesman Lance Trover said, has spent more than 20 years in and around state government, including as House liaison in the governor’s office and legislative liaison for agencies including the Department of Agriculture and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
“Jim’s experience working with the legislature from both the government and private sector perspective provides him with a good balance and knowledge,” Trover said. “He has strong relationships with agencies and legislators from both sides of the aisle.”
|Firing up the Democrats’ base
Thursday, Jan 29, 2015 - Posted by Rich Miller
* Last summer, I jokingly told Bruce Rauner that his inauguration would likely be himself and 100,000 of his closest “friends” in organized labor. That didn’t come to pass because the unions decided to wait and see what he would actually do. But when Gov. Rauner took off after unions in Decatur Tuesday, some have decided to speak out today in Champaign…
Representatives of organized labor will be at the I Hotel Conference Center in Champaign today to demonstrate against Gov. Bruce Rauner after his remarks in Decatur Tuesday that were critical of unions.
Rauner is scheduled to speak to the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce at 1 p.m. today, delivering an address that he says is another preview of Wednesday’s State of the State speech to the Legislature. […]
Matt Kelly, president of the AFL-CIO Central Labor Council in Champaign County, said he believes that Rauner is “trying to destroy unions. That’s really, we feel, what he’s trying to accomplish by doing this stuff. It has nothing to do with making the state better. It has nothing to do with anything other than destroying the unions.”
Kelly said several unions and trades, particularly public sector unions, will be represented at today’s demonstration.
* And, now, on to the Quad Cities…
“He’s proposing right-to-work, but what it really means is the right to work for less money,” said Dino Leone, President of Quad City Federation of Labor. “What it basically is, is an attack on workers rights to have a stronger voice in the state of Illinois.”
There are conflicting studies about the impact of right-to-work laws.
The Illinois Policy Institute said they analyzed data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics and found that states with right-to-work laws have higher wages, lower unemployment rates, and higher GDP growth.
However, a similar study done by the University of Illinois in 2014 found the laws actually cut wages by three percent on average.
“It would mean a lot less pay for the middle class and working class for people in the Quad Cities,” said Leone. “We will definitely oppose every measure, every piece of legislation [Gov. Rauner] tries to put out on this.”
…Adding… Also from the QC area…
State Sen. Neil Anderson, R-Rock Island, a member of a firefighter union, said he also won’t be joining the governor on the topic.
“The right-to-work legislation has been out there for a long time, and it’s been tried over and over again,” Sen. Anderson said. “I’m against right-to-work. I don’t think it’s right for the state of Illinois.”
* And let’s finish this post with Kurt Erickson’s story…
Gov. Bruce Rauner may be looking to the Bluegrass State for inspiration when it comes to bringing right-to-work laws to Illinois.
In Kentucky, where attempts to put a statewide law on the books have stalled, counties have taken the lead in recent weeks by moving forward with their own anti-union laws.
In all, five counties have approved measures that would ban requiring workers to join a union or making membership in a labor organization a condition of employment. […]
In Kentucky, the AFL-CIO is fighting the counties in court — a scenario that likely would occur in Illinois if Rauner is successful in pushing the movement forward.
Sean Stott, director of governmental affairs for the Laborers’ union, said there is ample legal evidence county-level changes could be fought successfully. For example, the new local laws in Kentucky come despite an opinion by the state’s Democratic attorney general, who said local authorities don’t have the power to implement the laws.
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