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Another Quinn punt results in lawsuit

Wednesday, Jan 28, 2015

* From a press release…

More than two years after missing a statutory deadline to implement a comprehensive risk assessment of state prisoners, a lawsuit has been filed seeking a court order directing Illinois prison officials to assess and consider paroling the longest serving prisoners.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Cook County Circuit Court, seeks to force the Illinois Prisoner Review Board (IPRB) and the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) to abide by the Illinois Crime Reduction Act, which took effect in 2010 and gave those state agencies three years to prepare for and begin using a standardized risk assessment tool no later than January 2013.

The class action suit was filed on behalf of all still-incarcerated prisoners sentenced for crimes committed before 1978 when Illinois switched from a system of indeterminate sentences to sentences with a fixed length of time. More than 170 men are serving indeterminate sentences and appear periodically before the IPRB to request parole.

* Consequences

Harrison Chancy, the lead plaintiff in the case, is serving an indeterminate sentence for a 1977 murder, armed robbery, armed violence and burglary in Lemont. Chancy, who maintains he is innocent, was 19 at the time of the crimes. He has been incarcerated for 37 years.

Chancy has used his time in prison productively, taking courses to prepare for success after release, and he has a positive behavior record and gone several years without receiving a single disciplinary ticket. Chancy’s IDOC work supervisor, who is a former Navy SEAL and a prison shift commander, wrote a letter of support to IPRB – the first time in his 25-year IDOC career that he had written in support of an inmate’s parole.

Without benefit of a risk assessment, the IPRB voted to deny Chancy’s parole applications for parole in 2013 and 2014. At the latest hearing, without pointing to any specific rationale and in a departure from the previous year’s hearing, the IPRB ordered that Chancy not be considered again for parole until 2017.

The lawsuit is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


Question of the day

Wednesday, Jan 28, 2015

* Former Gov. Pat Quinn’s legacy in one word? One word only, please. And keep it clean.

- Posted by Rich Miller   215 Comments      


Truax forms PAC as Kirk shifts left

Wednesday, Jan 28, 2015

* From the Twitters…


* The full press release…

Former U.S. Senate candidate Doug Truax is continuing his attempt to reshape America with formation of Restoration Action, a conservative federal 501(c)4 issue advocacy entity and companion Restoration PAC, a super PAC.

Restoration Action will promote an agenda to restore prosperity, individual freedom and international security to America. Restoration PAC will support candidates and office holders who adhere to those principles and oppose those who do not.

“As a candidate, my objective was to help change the direction of the country,” Truax said. “By forming Restoration Action and Restoration PAC, I have the same objective. Our country has steered off course and we need to right the ship.”

Truax is a 44-year-old West Point graduate, Army veteran and health care reform expert. He owns a successful health care consulting business and lives in west suburban Downers Grove, IL.

As a political newcomer in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in IL last year, Truax came out of nowhere to outpoll an established conservative politician in the Chicago metropolitan area and gain 44% of the statewide vote. Along the way he picked up glowing endorsements from Newt Gingrich, the Chicago Tribune and others. He has been characterized as one of Illinois’ rising political stars by a national cable network.

Truax said he has gained funding from several major donors to start the entities. He said the political arm will concentrate on high-level federal races and will issue candidate ratings.

* Meanwhile, after raising a ruckus with environmental groups by suggesting that climate change isn’t cased by humans, Sen. Mark Kirk appears to be moving back to those groups again

For instance, he was the only Senate Republican to back regulations on petroleum coke, a byproduct of oil refining.

Then he was one of five Republicans to vote for an amendment declaring that “climate change is real and human activity significantly contributes to climate change.”

Now comes word that the senator has been elected co-chair, along with Michigan Democrat Debbie Stabenow, of the Senate’s Great Lakes Task Force.

“As co-chairs, my colleague Sen. Stabenow and I are committed to cleaning up toxic hot spots, removing the threat of invasive species and ending sewage dumping in the Great Lakes, the crown jewel of the Midwest’s ecosystem, once and for all,” Kirk said in a statement. “It is crucial that we work together with this bipartisan task force to protect the reverence of the lakes and ensure they remain clean and contaminant-free for the next generation.”

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      


Report: Illinois has five donors in nation’s top 50

Wednesday, Jan 28, 2015

* Public Integrity has compiled a list of the top 50 campaign contributors to state political races last year

1. Republican Governors Association - A national group that advocates for the election of Republican governors.

$68.6 million

2. Democratic Governors Association - A national group that advocates for the election of Democratic governors.

$31.6 million

3. Charlie Crist campaign committee - The campaign committee of Florida’s unsuccessful Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist.

$28.6 million

4. Let’s Get To Work - Political action committee affiliated with Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott and funded largely by the Republican Governors Association.

$19.5 million

5. NextGen Climate Action Committee - A national group run by billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer that backs pro-environment candidates and groups.

$19.4 million

6. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees - A national labor union that represents government employees.

$19.2 million

7. Bruce and Diana Rauner - Newly elected Republican governor of Illinois, who made his fortune in private equity, and his wife.

$14.4 million […]

10. Tom and Frances Wolf - Newly elected Democratic governor of Pennsylvania and kitchen cabinet magnate.

$10 million […]

15. Ken Griffin and Anne Dias Griffin - Conservative billionaire hedge fund manager and his soon-to-be ex-wife, also a hedge fund manager.

$7.5 million […]

29. Illinois Education Association - The Illinois chapter of the National Education Association, a labor union that represents public school employees.

$4.6 million […]

40. Bruce Rauner campaign committee - The campaign of the newly elected Republican governor of Illinois.

$4.1 million […]

43. Illinois Democratic Party - State branch of the Democratic Party.

$3.9 million

The RGA and DGA both played a major role in Illinois as well, of course.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      


*** LIVE *** Session coverage

Wednesday, Jan 28, 2015

* Only the House is in session at noon today, and passing the new rules is expected to be the extent of its business. Tomorrow’s House session has been canceled. Here’s your ScribbleLive thingy

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      


New York’s problem is likely prohibited here

Wednesday, Jan 28, 2015

* New York Times

Lillian Palermo tried to prepare for the worst possibilities of aging. An insurance executive with a Ph.D. in psychology and a love of ballroom dancing, she arranged for her power of attorney and health care proxy to go to her husband, Dino, eight years her junior, if she became incapacitated. And in her 80s, she did.

Mr. Palermo, who was the lead singer in a Midtown nightclub in the 1960s when her elegant tango first caught his eye, now regularly rolls his wife’s wheelchair to the piano at the Catholic nursing home in Manhattan where she ended up in 2010 as dementia, falls and surgical complications took their toll. He sings her favorite songs, feeds her home-cooked Italian food, and pays a private aide to be there when he cannot.

But one day last summer, after he disputed nursing home bills that had suddenly doubled Mrs. Palermo’s copays, and complained about inexperienced employees who dropped his wife on the floor, Mr. Palermo was shocked to find a six-page legal document waiting on her bed.

It was a guardianship petition filed by the nursing home, Mary Manning Walsh, asking the court to give a stranger full legal power over Mrs. Palermo, now 90, and complete control of her money.

Few people are aware that a nursing home can take such a step. Guardianship cases are difficult to gain access to and poorly tracked by New York State courts; cases are often closed from public view for confidentiality. But the Palermo case is no aberration. Interviews with veterans of the system and a review of guardianship court data conducted by researchers at Hunter College at the request of The New York Times show the practice has become routine, underscoring the growing power nursing homes wield over residents and families amid changes in the financing of long-term care.

Could that happen here?

* I asked the attorney general’s office, whose spokesperson pointed me to this provision of the state’s Probate Act

755 ILCS 5/11a-5) (from Ch. 110 1/2, par. 11a-5)
Sec. 11a-5. Who may act as guardian […]

The court shall not appoint as guardian an agency which is directly providing residential services to the ward.

* The AG’s spokesperson explained that the office doesn’t have staff with much knowledge of this particular issue, but here’s what she wrote in an e-mail…

That language indicates that this should not be allowed to happen in Illinois, but it is possible that courts have allowed these kinds of petitions.

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      


Everything old is new again

Wednesday, Jan 28, 2015

* From a January, 2013 op-ed by not yet declared gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner

A worker shouldn’t be under a union boss’ thumb any more than under a business boss’ thumb. Increasingly, employers are relocating to these pro-employment freedom states, and are looking only at those states when considering job expansion decisions. […]

Illinois need not adopt the exact reforms found in Wisconsin, Indiana or Michigan. But we sure need to move in that direction if we are going to compete for jobs.

One creative solution is available to us that has not been tried elsewhere. Under federal labor law, states may authorize their local communities to decide for themselves whether to embrace right-to-work. Why not empower Sangamon County, or Effingham County, or any of our other local governments to decide for themselves if they would like to compete for the jobs that come with new manufacturing plants or transportation facilities built by the many hundreds of companies that will consider expanding only in flexible work areas?

* From a fall 2013 appearance on Roe Conn’s WLS Radio show when asked about right to work

“I think we’ve got a lot of challenges, I don’t think that’s at the top of our list… Labor regulations are one small piece of [improving the state’s business climate], I don’t think that’s in the top few.”

* From a January 2014 appearance on Robert Rees’ Bloomington Cities 92.9FM show

“I am not anti-union, that’s a false statement by my opponents”

…Adding… From just before the election in October, 2014

[Rauner] says “right-to-work” laws aren’t his focus.

“Pushing any specific labor regulation is not my priority at all,” Rauner said.

Yet, now it’s suddenly a first-year priority.

* By the way, I told subscribers today about an interesting quote I missed earlier this month which appeared in the Tribune

Experts say it is unlikely Illinois will become a right-to-work state because the General Assembly is controlled by Democrats backed by unions that provide campaign contributions and volunteers. While Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner supports right-to-work zones, he is unlikely to tackle the issue as he faces larger issues such as a shortfall, pension obligations and a slow economic recovery.

“Illinois doesn’t need right to work (laws) to compete with its neighbors,” said [Illinois Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Todd Maisch].

Maisch said the state should focus on measures that would move the economy forward, such as a bill to fund upgrades to the state’s infrastructure. On that issue, he said, the chamber will work closely with labor to push lawmakers at the state and federal level to act on proposals.

“Business and labor do have joint agendas,” Maisch said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   77 Comments      


Rauner continues hammering away at state worker pay, benefits

Wednesday, Jan 28, 2015

* From Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Decatur speech yesterday

Spending on wages and benefits for state employees has to be brought under control. “There has been a decline in the number of state workers. But the payroll is still going up. I still don’t totally understand this. I think it’s a lot of overtime or manipulation of the system.”

His accompanying chart

* Rauner also displayed a couple of other related charts. The first covers state worker health insurance premiums, the second covers employee pension costs…

- Posted by Rich Miller   190 Comments      


Why We Need A Strong Civil Justice System - Molly’s Story: Doctors Unnecessarily Removed Her Breast

Wednesday, Jan 28, 2015

The following is a paid advertisement.

My name is Molly Akers. When a lab switched my biopsy slide with another woman’s, I was misdiagnosed with breast cancer and a doctor needlessly removed my breast.

Real people suffer when such errors occur. I needed several surgeries to fix the preventable mistake and spent countless hours in physical therapy. My young children were terrified to see me in pain while their father washed my hair or helped me out of bed.

Due to no fault of my own I had an unnecessary mastectomy. If powerful corporate interests had their way, my ability to pursue fair compensation for my injuries would have been severely impaired. At best I might have received a token payment.

Our civil justice system protects our constitutional rights, so we can hold wrongdoers responsible. Our courts, funded with our tax dollars, provide accountability and effect changes that reduce the likelihood of serious mistakes reoccurring.

Something terrible happened to me, but it could have been you or someone you love. Please protect open access to Illinois courts.

The Illinois Trial Lawyers Association fights to ensure all citizens get equal footing in the courtroom. To learn more about Molly, click here.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


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Wednesday, Jan 28, 2015

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* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Rauner issues executive order barring legislators from representing clients at PTAB
* Kennedy: Limit top progressive income tax rate to less than 6 percent
* Question of the day
* Next week's House session cancelled
* *** UPDATED x2 - Pritzker "Did Chris Kennedy Just Endorse Bruce Rauner?" - Kennedy campaign tries to explain *** Kennedy says Rauner "should be applauded" for "trying to do what he thinks is best for the state of Illinois"
* Sen. Donne Trotter retires
* Illinois payrolls were up just 0.5 percent last year
* Vitriol continues in Durkin's primary race
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Judge clears courtroom in Rauner lawsuit hearing
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