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Inside the secretive “working groups”

Monday, May 11, 2015

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

I recently obtained a document distributed by the governor’s office detailing the membership list and meeting times and locations of the secret state legislative “working groups.”

The governor’s office has insisted that not only should legislators dummy up about what goes on at the groups’ meetings - which are designed to forge compromises on the governor’s “Turnaround Agenda” - but also that outsiders should not even know the membership of the groups or when and where they’re getting together.

That’s pretty ridiculous, if you ask me. Many moons ago, I began writing about private legislative caucus meetings. That didn’t endear me to the powers that be, but I thought the meetings were too important to the Statehouse process to ignore. I still think that, although caucus meetings are somewhat less important these days.

So, I exerted a bit of effort and eventually scored the governor’s document.

The working group tasked with hammering out a potential tax hike is so secret that its very existence would not be confirmed by members I contacted. Legislators were reportedly warned by the governor’s office that if any word leaked about the group then Gov. Bruce Rauner would refuse to increase taxes.

Yep, he’s a control freak.

The group was nicknamed “Vegas” by some of its members because what happens in the group is supposed to stay in the group. It’s official name is listed as “HOLD” on the governor’s document. It’s apparently not an acronym. “They were that afraid to put things in writing,” explained one source. “So just ‘hold’ this slot open.”

I kid you not.

Republican state Reps. Patricia Bellock and David Leitch are on the HOLD group, as well as Democratic Rep. John Bradley. Senate Democrats Heather Steans and Toi Hutchinson are also on the super secret group, as are Republican Sens. Pam Althoff and Karen McConnaughay. The governor’s top staff abruptly shut down a HOLD meeting last week, calling House Speaker Michael Madigan’s unilateral advancement of a budget bill a “hostile action.”

The “Economic Growth” working group will tackle issues like workers’ compensation insurance, the governor’s local “right to work zones” proposal, tort reform and the minimum wage. Democratic Reps. Jay Hoffman and Art Turner; Republican Reps. Mike Tryon, David Leitch and Dwight Kay; Democratic Sens. Kimberly Lightford and Kwame Raoul; and Republican Sens Matt Murphy and Jim Oberweis are on the group. Some initial progress is being made on workers’ comp reform, I’m told.

The “Taxpayer Protection” working group discusses issues like the governor’s proposed property tax freeze. Members were told that the governor’s initial bargaining position is a permanent freeze. Democratic Senators Gary Forby and Andy Manar are on the working group, as well as Republican Sens. Dan Duffy and Chris Nybo. Democratic Reps. John Bradley and Barbara Flynn Currie and GOP Reps. David Harris and Ed Sullivan are also on the working group.

I wrote recently about the “Transforming Government” group, which featured the Democratic throwdown with the governor’s staff over a legislative term limits constitutional amendment. It’s also dealing with implementing the governor’s executive order on state worker ethics and banning public employee union contributions to the executive branch. Democratic Reps. Lou Lang and Elgie Sims; Republican Reps. Norine Hammond and Chad Hays; Democratic Sen. Don Harmon; and Republican Sens. Darin LaHood and Chapin Rose are all on the committee.

The governor wants to move current state employees and teachers out of their “Tier 1″ pension plans and into a “Tier 2″ plan that provides far fewer benefits. His “Pension Reform” working group is comprised of Democratic Rep. Elaine Nekritz, Senate Democrat Daniel Biss, and HGOPs Tom Morrison and Ron Sandack, along with SGOPs Bill Brady and Pam Althoff.

Gov. Rauner has been promising a major road and transit construction plan since the campaign. The “Capital Plan” working group is comprised of SDems John Sullivan and Marty Sandoval, SGOPs Dave Syverson and Karen McConnaughay, HDems Bob Rita and Christian Mitchell and HGOPs Norine Hammond and Ed Sullivan. They didn’t get much done at their last meeting because the governor refused to talk about how to pay for it.

The “Budget Implementation” working group is huge. The last meeting was attended by 38 people, including all legislative appropriations committee chairs. Getting things accomplished with a group that size could be difficult.

The “Unemployment Insurance” working group will use an “agreed bill” process to find a way to bring down employer costs. Republican Sens. Sue Rezin and Kyle McCarter are serving on the group, as is Democratic Sen. Terry Link and Democratic Rep. Jay Hoffman, along with House Republicans John Anthony and Dwight Kay.

OK, can we stop with all the crazy secrecy now, please?

Subscribers have more details about individual working group meetings.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

119 Comments
  1. - Chicago Hack - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:13 am:

    Rich, I’m thinking you won’t see any more doggie playdate invites from the Guv.


  2. - Stones - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:14 am:

    Sounds a bit like Kim Jong-il when you cancel a scheduled meeting because of a “hostile action”. Hilarious!


  3. - UIC Guy - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:15 am:

    Nekritz and Biss as the Dems on the Pension Reform Group—because their last effort worked out so well? Does BVR still think he’s going to save the state money by diminishing pension payouts? Are Nekritz and Biss really equally deluded?


  4. - Elo Kiddies - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:15 am:

    The governor is putting so many strings on an income tax hike, the only log outcome is that there will be no change to the income tax.


  5. - phocion - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:16 am:

    Thank God Rich wasn’t around in 1787. We’d still be operating under the Articles of Confederation.


  6. - AnonymousOne - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:16 am:

    And who all do these people work for? I believe it is us. Transparency? Did Rauner not use that word?


  7. - Oswego Willy - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:19 am:

    Bullies like to tell people what to do in secret and silence.

    That’s their power.

    It’s one thing to have ONE budget aspect be silent, but group after group, meeting under the Governor’s Office criteria, that’s hiding Sonny losing his temper, ultimatums, and “my way or the highway.

    “Who” wants to be publicly seen like that?

    Even the Owl Sandack know, while Sonny owns ‘Don’ Sandack, Sonny can’t let people know negotiations aren’t really about two sides.

    Otherwise… Why all the secrecy?

    It could be trust, but… that’s another story, isn’t it?

    There are about 26 million reasons a bully wants things silent.

    Not quiet, silent.

    A bully with those he’s trying to bully can’t find him trustworthy?

    Hmm.


  8. - MrJM - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:20 am:

    Looks like Rauner’s contempt for representative democracy isn’t just an act.

    – MrJM


  9. - VanillaMan - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:24 am:

    There is no reason for the secrecy.

    If Governor Rauner believes citizens are too stupid to make these committees transparent and open, then he should also believe they are too stupid to care.

    If Governor Rauner believes lobbyists and special interest groups are too powerful and influential to make these committees transparent and open, then he should also believe that they are powerful enough to prevent the GA from enacting any results.

    If Governor Rauner believes that legislators are too dishonest to deal openly within a transparent and open process, then it doesn’t matter if he keeps the meetings secret.

    There is really no reason, cynical or otherwise, to do this. A government that uses these tactics is one that disrespects the talents, maturity and intelligence of the citizens it governs.

    Going door-to-door, peddling a load of RTW crap hasn’t worked. Locking people in a room won’t either.

    Bruce Rauner can’t figure out how to be a governor, can he?


  10. - Wordslinger - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:24 am:

    How’s a reactionary phony supposed to conduct government in secret with a wiseguy like Miller blowing the lid off the enterprise?

    Go to all that trouble to be a weasel and someone has to ruin it by revealing it to the unwashed masses. Like it’s any of their business.

    It’s hard to be a prevaricating sneak.


  11. - AnonymousOne - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:25 am:

    These secret meeting are probably brainwashing sessions. Please don’t let him have any secret sessions with the Supremes. They seem to be the only ones who can stand up to him.


  12. - Juvenal - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:26 am:

    Rich -

    How are these secret meetings not a violation of the Open Meetings Act?


  13. - Joe M - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:27 am:

    I get nervous when policies are made behind closed doors. Does anybody know if these meetings should be covered by the Open Meetings Act?

    These topics should be discussed in public at General Assembly Committee meetings and/or on the floor of the General Assembly.


  14. - AnonymousOne - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:27 am:

    Why is this OK?


  15. - The Colossus of Roads - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:28 am:

    Wow, I guess transparency and accountability only apply to things you could FOIA anyway. Can anyone say Hypocrite?


  16. - Illinois Manufacturer - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:30 am:

    Even Nekritz admits its over despite complaining about Biss was subdued Perhaps he is calculating that this was not a political winner for the UC Math Wiz
    I think if this was a what shall I say more regular republican there would be deals and victory claimed on issues like workers comp and unemployment but I think RNUG is right . We may be heading toward distaster


  17. - Demoralized - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:31 am:

    ==How are these secret meetings not a violation of the Open Meetings Act?==

    Open Meetings Act doesn’t apply.


  18. - A guy - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:32 am:

    I doubt very much that the secrecy was instituted to insulate from citizens of the state. Given the long convoluted history of how public policy gets done in Illinois, my guess is that special interests and lobbyist groups were deliberately being shut out of the initial processes of this effort. Their input being considered “not helpful” to getting something serious done.

    I’m torn a bit on this because I do think transparency is very important. On the other hand, our legislators have historically been able to be cajoled and intimidated individually in previous efforts. Coordinating them seems to be a good idea. Wish there was a way to do this without the secrecy. Maybe there is.

    Yet to be determined if the leaker here is a hero or not.


  19. - Wensicia - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:33 am:

    Well, we finally have our answer on how Rauner plans to govern:

    “Nunya bidness!”


  20. - A guy - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:34 am:

    === Juvenal - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:26 am:

    Rich -

    How are these secret meetings not a violation of the Open Meetings Act?===

    yikes Juv, go read the Act. Was a majority of a majority present at any of these meetings?


  21. - forwhatitsworth - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:34 am:

    And this is the kind of governor that the majority of voters in the last election wanted for our leader? Sad commentary!


  22. - Anonymous - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:36 am:

    - UIC Guy - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:15 am:

    Nekritz and Biss as the Dems on the Pension Reform Group—because their last effort worked out so well? Does BVR still think he’s going to save the state money by diminishing pension payouts? Are Nekritz and Biss really equally deluded?

    They don’t care about the law.

    Friday closed the door on pension theft but they are still doing to pass unconstitutional laws. They all should be put in prison for blatantly violating their oath of office.


  23. - MrJM - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:41 am:

    “Thank God Rich wasn’t around in 1787. We’d still be operating under the Articles of Confederation.”

    Nonsense.

    The Rauner administration needs to demonstrate more George Washington and less George III.

    – MrJM


  24. - RLG - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:41 am:

    Boom! And on came the lights. Thanks Rich.


  25. - Anonymous - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:42 am:

    Following Rich’s little bit of sunshine, BVR will issue everyone on the work groups a super secret decoder ring …


  26. - Ljt73 - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:46 am:

    [This commenter has been banned for life.]


  27. - Anonymous - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:46 am:

    I’m so tired of reading about this juvenile, James Bond nonsense. This isn’t the He-Man Woman Haters Club, it’s state government.

    Get something done, bidnessman.


  28. - sparky791 - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:48 am:

    The pension reform group should be ended real quick. Easy solution. The guidance that Rauner wanted was provided by supremes, but of course he didnt like answer so he says nevermind. Any person on pension group that comes out and goes against anything to supremes just ruled on and gave clear guidance on should be removed from office. They cannot touch people currently in tier 1 in the past, present and future even with amendment to constitution.


  29. - zatoichi - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:49 am:

    Leitch, Kay, Ed Sullivan, Bradley, McConnaughay, Hammond, Althoff all get to be on multiple secret committees. Lucky them being right in the middle of the action.


  30. - Oswego Willy - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:49 am:

    There will be no recall.

    At all.

    I would be opposed to recall and help Rauner defeat it, for cripes sake.

    Elections have consequences. Get over it.

    You may, heck, we may, disagree to how the politics of Rauner are played, how Rauner goes about his business, but he’s not breaking his oath, he’s not under investigation, and until that even goes beyond dorm room ignorance, there are not going to be GOP members signing on to start the process, which is needed.

    It’s moot. Deal with reality.

    Bad politics to your “eye” is not recallable.

    (Sigh)


  31. - MrJM - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:50 am:

    “Was a majority of a majority present at any of these meetings?”

    Do you know the answer to that question, a guy? No. No, you don’t. Why? Because your hero is desperately trying to govern Illinois under a shroud of secrecy.

    Yikes, indeed!

    – MrJM


  32. - Secret Square - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:53 am:

    “How are these secret meetings not a violation of the Open Meetings Act?”

    Because the GA exempted itself from the Open Meetings Act. After all, how would they be able to have last-minute committee hearings, etc. otherwise?


  33. - Aldyth - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:54 am:

    So, the governor is going around misleading the public while secret deals are going on among secret committees, composed of secret members, in secret places. This goes beyond lack of transparency into having secret cabals in our state government.

    I’m not sure if this is a plot from Madmen or The Black List?


  34. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:57 am:

    ==Was a majority of a majority present at any of these meetings? ==

    A majority of the quorum of the GA was not present, but the act includes committees, which these certainly appear to be. From the Act: “any subsidiary bodies of any of the foregoing including but not limited to committees and subcommittees”

    The act: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=84&ChapterID=2


  35. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:59 am:

    To be clear, if these are not “committees” they are certainly “subsidiary bodies”


  36. - Quizzical - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:01 am:

    When will we hear from the Republican House Reps who have spent half of their floor time over the past 10-20 years complaining about the awful secrecy and lack of transparency by the Speaker and Democratic leaders?


  37. - MrJM - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:02 am:

    There will be no recall. At all. I would be opposed to recall and help Rauner defeat it, for cripes sake. Elections have consequences. Get over it.

    100% correct.

    I sometimes wonder how many dopes voted to punish Quinn under the impression that Rauner could be recalled “if he’s is as bad as they say he is”?

    Dopes.

    – MrJM


  38. - VanillaMan - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:02 am:

    Once again, I feel this needs to be said to this governor:

    Any executive action undertaken in a partisan manner could only at best, be effective until the next election. Any executive action undertaken in secret could only at best, be effective until it is no longer secret.

    Governments employing either of these tactics may be unintentionally signaling their lack of legitimacy among voters.


  39. - Crispy - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:02 am:

    Guide to the IPMA, for anyone who’s interested:

    http://www.citizenadvocacycenter.org/uploads/8/8/4/0/8840743/journalist_guide_to_the_open_meetings_act_and_first_amendment.pdf

    The requirement is a “majority of a quorum”; for practical purposes, a quorum is a simple majority of the public body. So you need a majority of that majority, as a guy states.

    No doubt they have their calculators at the ready to avoid just such an eventuality–so they can abide by the letter of the law, while skirting the spirit. Sigh.


  40. - A guy - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:02 am:

    === MrJM - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 9:50 am:

    “Was a majority of a majority present at any of these meetings?”

    Do you know the answer to that question, a guy? ====

    Just like you I read what was leaked to CF. I read that the big, unwieldy group is 38. Mixed of some Senators and some Reps. Shall we go through the math of what composes a majority of a majority of 59 and 118 or can you do that by yourself? Smartie Pants.


  41. - Beenthereseenthat - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:04 am:

    this reminds me of the old conference committee days in the 70’s and 80’s. An innocuous bill would go into a CC and voila something completely unexpected would pop up. No press, maybe staff, and certainly not the public were involved. Well, it’s back to the future.


  42. - downstate commissioner - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:04 am:

    The sound you heard was a bunch of legislators and executive branch go-fers yelling all at once “That @#$% Miller!!!” Good job, Rich…


  43. - CharlieKratos - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:05 am:

    Who’s going to take over CapFax if Rich gets “disappeared”?


  44. - DuPage - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:07 am:

    Rauner could have listened to Edgar. I read somewhere that that when asked what to do about the pensions, Edgar told Rauner, “we have to pay that”. Now the Illinois Supreme Court has told Rauner the same thing. Obviously Rauner wants only “Yes Men/Women” to advise him, and disregards anyone or anything that does not agree with him.


  45. - Sangamo Sam - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:07 am:

    ===Yep, he’s a control freak.===

    This all seems slanted towards The Governors way of doing business in order to get his way. Why would the Dems even agree to these meetings other than morbid curiosity?


  46. - Sir Reel - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:09 am:

    Rich, did you get the secret passwords and handshakes?

    When I find secrecy attached to anything other than spy work, I smell fear. What’s he so afraid of?


  47. - Wordslinger - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:10 am:

    I love the code names. It’s like a bunch of kids playing James Bond.

    It would be adorable if they were kids. Grownups, kind of pathetic.

    Now I’ve got Johnny Rivers on the brain. “Secret Agent Bruce, Secret Agent Bruce…”


  48. - walker - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:12 am:

    Negotiations between contending parties on details of potential bills not yet written, are not committee meetings.

    They are often necessary for bi-partisan solutions. They can make clear initial positions, and potential middle grounds. But there is a limit on their usefulness and their secrecy.

    Would any of the critics here demand that all meetings between government unions and the state during contract negotiations be open to press, lobbyists, and the general public? If not, why not? Those meetings have significant impact on public policy and budgets as well.

    This process is going exactly as it should, if it is to succeed at all. Rich opened the door at just the right time for this process to transition to less secrecy, as it must.


  49. - Juvenal - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:19 am:

    Kettle, A guy, MrJM:

    These aren’t legislative bodies, these are advisory bodies of the executive branch, funded with tax dollars.

    They are clearly organized, convened and controlled the the Executive Branch.

    They are not covered by the General Assembly exclusion.


  50. - Juvenal - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:24 am:

    Again, why is the Chicago Tribune and the Better Government Association not demanding these taxpayer-funded meetings be open to the public?

    Isn’t this in fact what we have legislative committees for?

    It seems Republicans want to have things both ways: complain about appropriations not going through public committee hearings, while meeting behind closed doors to have secret committee meetings about the budget.

    It. Is. Nonsense.


  51. - crazybleedingheart - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:25 am:

    dingetty ding ding ding, Juvenal is on the right track!


  52. - Secret Square - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:25 am:

    Note the definition of “public body” in the Open Meetings Act — and be sure to read all the way to the end (emphasis mine):

    “Public body” includes all legislative, executive, administrative or advisory bodies of the State, counties, townships, cities, villages, incorporated towns, school districts and all other municipal corporations, boards, bureaus, committees or commissions of this State, and any subsidiary bodies of any of the foregoing including but not limited to committees and subcommittees which are supported in whole or in part by tax revenue, or which expend tax revenue, EXCEPT the General Assembly and committees or commissions thereof.


  53. - Secret Square - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:27 am:

    Also, these are groups of legislators, assembled for the express purpose of crafting “suitable” legislation. I’m not saying that what they are doing is right, but pointing out how they “get away with it” — that they could make a case for being exempt from Open Meetings in the same way standing GA committees and sub-committees are.


  54. - crazybleedingheart - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:30 am:

    Nope, secret square. These meetings were not designed by or led by the GA. They are executive branch advisory committees composed of legislative members.

    That makes them public bodies.


  55. - crazybleedingheart - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:32 am:

    how a group came to be is a large part of the determination of a “public body,” in court.

    MAYBE SOMEONE IN THE MEDIA SHOULD FOIA THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE FOR MATERIALS RELATED TO THE CREATION OF THESE SECRET WORKING GROUPS


  56. - Arizona Bob - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:36 am:

    There are a lot of actions that will be distasteful to a lot of people coming from these meetings. Some of them will be necessary for the good of the state, but will gore some well connected people’s oxs. If the 1500 lobbyists in Springfield get wind that there’s something being discussed they don’t like, they’ll kill the conversation, nothing will get done, and problem will just exacerbate.

    I’d prefer to allow the conversation to be open, but there would be so much “prior restraint” and commercials on Rich’s blog for just about every special interest that I can at least understand why they want to keep this quiet at this point.


  57. - Rich Miller - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:38 am:

    === If the 1500 lobbyists in Springfield get wind that there’s something being discussed they don’t like, they’ll kill the conversation, nothing will get done, and problem will just exacerbate.===

    That would be great if legislators were all-knowing, wise beings who could come up with great ideas without input from the people they impact. They’re not. and they won’t.


  58. - Arizona Bob - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:39 am:

    The public will be made aware of the issues being planned prior to legislation in the GA. Opening this up will just prematurely kill any necessary policy actions before the legislative stage.


  59. - Bill White - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:43 am:

    “As always, should you or any of your Vegas Force be caught or FOIA-ed, the Speaker will disavow any knowledge of your actions.”


  60. - Tommydanger - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:43 am:

    Rich:

    Courtesy of Salt ‘N’ Pepa, with remarkably little change in the lyrics, the Governor has sent you a lyrical message:

    What’s the matter with your life?
    Why you gotta mess with mine?
    Don’t keep sweatin’ what I do
    ‘Cuz I’m gonna be just fine, check it out

    If I wanna appoint a guy to a secret group
    It’s none of yo business
    And if he wanna be discreet and keep it all a secret
    It’s none of yo business
    Now you, shouldn’t even get into who I’m makin’ threats to
    It’s none of yo business
    So don’t try, to change my mind, I’ll tell you one more time
    It’s none of yo business


  61. - MrJM - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:44 am:

    “This leaked document from the secret meeting implies that it may not violate the law, so I’m sure it’s fine.”

    – MrJM


  62. - Wordslinger - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:44 am:

    AB, all this does is allow Rauner to talk out both sides of his mouth, claiming one thing publicly while plotting something else secretly.


  63. - Langhorne - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:45 am:

    Who is representing the gov in these meetings? Do they have authority to actually arrive at a meaningful compromise? Or do they have to take it back to the wizard?

    Its hard to negotiate when your position is take it or else. It is hard enough to negotiate any of these subjects, but how can
    you make progress if it is contingent on progress among several groups?

    Several of these proposals are anethema to the supermajority. Several of these proposals are absolute must-haves to the governor. Cap fax mantra: 30/60. Little or nothing gets done. On to the shut down.


  64. - Langhorne - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:51 am:

    Are the working groups using statutory language? Actual bills and amendments?


  65. - A guy - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:52 am:

    === Juvenal - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:19 am:

    Kettle, A guy, MrJM:

    These aren’t legislative bodies, these are advisory bodies of the executive branch, funded with tax dollars.===

    Juvy, actually checked this one with a government attorney. Applies to their respective bodies- in all cases. No violation. Not even close.


  66. - Norseman - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 10:58 am:

    === The public will be made aware of the issues being planned prior to legislation in the GA. Opening this up will just prematurely kill any necessary policy actions before the legislative stage. ===

    Get out of the heat. It’s frying your brains. That’s not how this is going down.


  67. - sal-says - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 11:04 am:

    == government attorney. Applies to their respective bodies- in all cases. No violation. Not even close. ==

    One ‘attorney’s opinion. It’s a reason we have LOTS of attorneys and courts.

    Be fun to test it when I win a big lottery. ;)


  68. - crazybleedingheart - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 11:04 am:

    Sorry, a guy, but you aren’t making any sense.


  69. - Langhorne - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 11:09 am:

    Has rauner provided a RTW bill for thursdays cmte of the whole? Is he going to?


  70. - Juvenal - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 11:12 am:

    A guy: There are not respective bodies of the General Assembly.

    The General Assembly may create committees and task forces, but it didn’t create these.

    If you don’t believe me, go to the General Assembly website and look at their committee list.


  71. - walker - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 11:17 am:

    Shell bills await.


  72. - Oswego Willy - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 11:21 am:

    - D.P. Gumby -,

    Elections are elections.

    I can’t support an “every time the Governor decides on policy or politics we need to vote on him!” track.

    Governors face voters every 4 years here.

    Blagojevich, facing criminal charges, and those charges were at issue for impeachment, the GA saved the steps of signatures and an election, “if it were possible then”, because there WAS more than a feeling of harm being done to Illinois.

    Where, for me, recall and impeachment part ways in breaking the oath and doing harm is pretty simple;

    If the interpreted “breaking of the oath” can muster half of its signatures from the party of the governor to get on the ballot, but the alleged transgression can’t win an impeachment, try recall.

    You have the process and members of his/her party on board.

    Quite frankly, impeachment, as a process that can meet its own different set of criteria, and has evidence to secure a result of censure, or removal, the GA, that will move forward as is evolves.

    Nothing, absolutely nothing today warrants either track, and further neither of the criteria needed to move forward with either track could be accomplished, and Rauner hasn’t done anything for either to be started.

    Rauner won. Government isn’t about driving a “do-over”, but about, “we’ll do our jobs and let the voters decide when the time comes.”

    These dorm room dopes already upset that, you guessed it, elections have consequences, get over it.

    It’s now up to Rauner to get 60 and 30 for his budget and his agenda. They can focus on stopping that.

    Hope that helps.

    Much respect.

    OW


  73. - Demoralized - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 11:24 am:

    Guys, get off the Open Meetings Act nonsense. It doesn’t apply. Period. Gripe about the meetings being secret but don’t pull the Open Meetings Act because that argument is just nonsense.


  74. - Mama - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 11:27 am:

    I am speechless that y’all are shocked about the secret meetings.


  75. - Jasper - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 11:28 am:

    He has conveniently forgotten about “transparent” government


  76. - Humbled Park - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 11:42 am:

    Transparency is overrated.


  77. - crazybleedingheart - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 11:56 am:

    ==
    - Demoralized - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 11:24 am:

    Guys, get off the Open Meetings Act nonsense. It doesn’t apply. Period. ==

    Because why? Because you say so?
    Because these are not executive advisory bodies?
    They pretty clearly are.


  78. - A guy - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 11:59 am:

    ===Demoralized - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 11:24 am:

    Guys, get off the Open Meetings Act nonsense. It doesn’t apply. Period. Gripe about the meetings being secret but don’t pull the Open Meetings Act because that argument is just nonsense.====

    Correct.


  79. - Oswego Willy - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 12:01 pm:

    ===I doubt very much that the secrecy was instituted to insulate from citizens of the state.===

    Unintended consequences, lol.

    The $26 million in cuts and the backlash seems to fly in the face of your doubt.

    ===Given the long convoluted history of how public policy gets done in Illinois, my guess is that special interests and lobbyist groups were deliberately being shut out of the initial processes of this effort.===

    So all groups that may be effected in, let’s say cuts, or funding, or even policy, they should just let Rauner and his secret groups, by closed door edicts, make decisions that the recourse is to “be quiet”?

    That isn’t democracy.

    ===Their input being considered “not helpful” to getting something serious done.===

    No need to reinvent the wheel here..

    From Rich, in comments…

    ===That would be great if legislators were all-knowing, wise beings who could come up with great ideas without input from the people they impact. They’re not. and they won’t.===


  80. - Norseman - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 12:02 pm:

    === He has conveniently forgotten about “transparent” government ===

    Folks who read this blog were warned about Rauner’s hypocrisy before the election. His policies are always about what applies to THEM and not HIM. Transparency is certainly part of that. So is the high public employee pay complaint, and so on and so on.


  81. - Secret Square - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 12:06 pm:

    Read Rich’s description of the groups again, carefully. These groups are NOT “advising” anyone in the executive branch regarding policy matters — it’s the other way around. The governor is advising THEM of what HE wants done and their sole task is to draft passable legislation to make that possible.


  82. - Anon. - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 12:46 pm:

    Juvenal @ 10:19 am ==These aren’t legislative bodies, these are advisory bodies of the executive branch, funded with tax dollars.==

    If that’s true, then, as A Guy pointed out, there is no “majority of a quorum” present because none of the attendees counts toward a quorum of the “executive branch.”

    Sorry, demoralized, but poking holes in some peoples’ “logic” is just too much fun to pass up.


  83. - zonz - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 12:47 pm:

    I’m sorry this is just hilarious…
    ===> by Rich:
    The governor’s top staff abruptly shut down a HOLD meeting last week, calling House Speaker Michael Madigan’s unilateral advancement of a budget bill a “hostile action.”
    ===> TRANSLATION:
    Gov. BRU-CREW can posture and pontificate day in and day out, and travel daily - - here and there - - speaking and seeking leverage/advantage in the eyes of the media and the public, but if the Speaker does HIS job, it’s “hostile action.”
    ===> IMO, THE BRU-CREW IS A BUNCH OF CLOWNS.


  84. - Demoralized - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 12:49 pm:

    ==Because why? Because you say so?==

    Read the freaking law and then come back and talk intelligently about the Open Meetings Act. Just because you stomp your feet about them not being public does not mean they are illegal. Period. End of story.


  85. - zonz - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 1:03 pm:

    Please…Open Meetings Act IS NOT APPLICABLE.

    My main question: what are the rules for lobbyist involvement in the meetings … or are the lobbyists just allowed to meet with individuals one-by-one?


  86. - Snucka - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 1:06 pm:

    I voted against Rauner, but I would also be against a recall effort. The voters made their choice and now we have to live with it, for at least four years. It might do some folks good to see the consequences of their own actions (or inaction).

    Also, let me know when you have names of the 10 Republican state reps and 5 Republican senators who would be required to sign on to a recall petition in order for it to begin.


  87. - Rich Miller - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 1:10 pm:

    ===Also, let me know when you have names of the 10 Republican state reps and 5 Republican senators who would be required to sign on to a recall petition in order for it to begin. ===

    Exactly. Move along. I’m gonna start banning some of you goofballs.


  88. - BlameBruceRauner - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 1:26 pm:

    The fact that he needs this stuff secret is purely a sign he doesn’t want to look like a rookie. He want whatever comes up for a vote to pass. Then he can beat his cheat and bang the drum that HE and ONLY HE can get things done. He’s afraid of rejection. So he is trying to control everything as rich pointed out Governor Control Freak wants his finger on everything.


  89. - crazybleedingheart - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 2:45 pm:

    Demoralized, I notice you didn’t answer my direct question. Do you maintain that OMA doesn’t apply because these “working groups” are not executive advisory bodies?

    Secret Square seems to think that since Rauner intends for the advice to flow down to legislators and not up to him, they’re not executive policy advisory groups, i.e. public bodies.

    The fact is that the governor forgets that law is interpreted by the courts (and by the way advised on by AG opinions). Courts say the most important consideration in determining whether a body is public is in whose structure the body sits, including who created it, and whether that entity is subject to OMA.

    Not all of the Rauner-staffed, Rauner-run, Rauner-created, “working groups” flouting OMA are secret. Here’s a press release explaining the creation and purpose of such a group:

    ==Governor Bruce Rauner [yesterday] met with Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti, State Senator Martin Sandoval, State Representative Luis Arroyo, Department of Labor Director Hugo Chaviano, Jovita Carranza, Lazaro Lopez and Manny Sanchez at the first Latino Working Group meeting.

    This working group is being convened to create a forum for the governor and lieutenant governor to work with Latino members of the General Assembly and Latino members in the administration to focus on issues of concern to Latino families and businesses.

    “The goal of this working group is to drive the Turnaround Agenda and make positive short-term and long-term differences to benefit the Latino community throughout Illinois,” Rauner said. “We need to empower Latinos and give them the tools and every opportunity to succeed. ==

    How, please, is this not an executive policy advisory group?


  90. - crazybleedingheart - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 2:48 pm:

    ==Secret Square seems to think that since Rauner intends for the advice to flow down to legislators and not up to him, they’re not executive policy advisory groups, i.e. public bodies.===

    I forgot to add, hopefully unnecessarily, that the defense of planning to do the telling rather than the listening is patently absurd. It’s the type of thing that only someone paid by a bully like Bruce Rauner would think to invent.


  91. - Secret Square - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 2:57 pm:

    Just FYI, I’m NOT paid by Bruce Rauner to invent anything. I’m not paid by Bruce Rauner, period. I’m just offering my own interpretation of why these groups might be able to claim exemption from the Open Meetings Act.


  92. - crazybleedingheart - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 3:02 pm:

    OK, sorry for overstating your case.


  93. - Juvenal - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 3:27 pm:

    crazybleedingheart:

    please let us know if anyone ever explains how the governor’s working groups are exempted from the definition of “public body”:

    “Public body” includes all legislative, executive, administrative or advisory bodies of the State, counties, townships, cities, villages, incorporated towns, school districts and all other municipal corporations, boards, bureaus, committees or commissions of this State, and any subsidiary bodies of any of the foregoing including but not limited to committees and subcommittees which are supported in whole or in part by tax revenue, or which expend tax revenue, except the General Assembly and committees or commissions thereof.


  94. - Demoralized - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 3:44 pm:

    @crazybleedingheart

    If you don’t get it yet then I can’t help you. Go read the Act. It’s not that difficult. Stop making silly arguments.


  95. - crazybleedingheart - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 3:58 pm:

    Juvenal - no, nothing yet. Apparently Demoralized prefers to keep invoking the act as a whole, without pointing to a single provision exempting these groups.


  96. - crazybleedingheart - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 4:01 pm:

    Is Demoralized a Superstar?

    “It doesn’t apply because it is not applicable, end of story” is an absolute DREAM memo assignment!


  97. - Norseman - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 4:09 pm:

    crazy, OMA excludes the General Assembly. To say the rest of us from having read irrelevant comments, if you have a concern about these file a complaint with the Public Access Counselor by emailing: PublicAccess@atg.state.il.us

    It will be a waste of time, but at least we won’t be sharing that waste.


  98. - Anonymosa - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 4:09 pm:

    A guy: Your gov’t. lawyer has an agenda (to keep the agenda hidden).


  99. - Norseman - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 4:09 pm:

    Oops “save” not “say”


  100. - crazybleedingheart - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 4:15 pm:

    ==OMA excludes the General Assembly. ==

    And yet this is very clearly not a body of the General Assembly.

    Legislators serve on exec commissions subject to OMA all the time. Ask one if they’ve had to do the training. Bet they’ll remember the annoyance.

    You who deal only with legislative committees can keep singing “Exempt” until the cows come home. That doesn’t make it so.


  101. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 4:18 pm:

    Fantastic work on this, Rich. Top-notch in all ways.


  102. - Norseman - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 4:23 pm:

    crazy, I gave you the email to complain. Send in your complaint with your brilliant analysis and report back with your progress. Now move on.


  103. - Demoralized - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 4:24 pm:

    @crazybleedingheart

    How about you tell us why it should apply? What about these groups makes them subject to the Act? These are meetings between the Gov’s office and members and staff of the GA. What about that makes them subject to the Open Meetings Act? The answer is nothing. As Norseman said, waste everyone’s time and file a complaint and be laughed out of the office.


  104. - Demoralized - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 4:28 pm:

    @crazybleedingheart

    Try this one on for size. From the Act:

    “of a majority of a quorum of the members of a public body”

    When you figure out how these meetings fit that definition let us know. No go away.


  105. - Demoralized - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 4:28 pm:

    “now”


  106. - zonz - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 4:40 pm:

    OMG guys these working groups are ad hoc gatherings of Reps and Senators . . .

    NOT even within the definition at beginning of 2 (a):

    (5 ILCS 140/2) (from Ch. 116, par. 202)
    (Text of Section from P.A. 98-806)
    Sec. 2. Definitions. As used in this Act:
    (a) “Public body” means all legislative, executive, administrative, or advisory bodies of the State, state universities and colleges, counties, townships, cities, villages, incorporated towns, school districts and all other municipal corporations, boards, bureaus, committees, or commissions of this State, any subsidiary bodies of any of the foregoing including but not limited to committees and subcommittees thereof, and a School Finance Authority created under Article 1E of the School Code. “Public body” does not include a child death review team or the Illinois Child Death Review Teams Executive Council established under the Child Death Review Team Act, or a regional youth advisory board or the Statewide Youth Advisory Board established under the Department of Children and Family Services Statewide Youth Advisory Board Act.


  107. - crazybleedingheart - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 4:49 pm:

    So…still no explanation of why from Demoralized.

    Crazy response here.
    Command to file a complaint.
    Command to move on.
    Command to explain without ever doing so oneself.
    “MOVE ALONG FOLKS, NOTHING TO SEE HERE.”
    Not sure who designated any of you as the official Cops of CapFax?

    I have explained my position, unlike everyone here who has stuck their fingers in their ears and screamed “lalala legislator exempt!”

    I will ignore one piece of advice (shut up and go away) in order to very generously grant the other (say how they’re not exempt):

    In the case of each individual working group, whether in consultation with the GA leadership or not, the Governor’s office named specific working groups, with titles and subject matter boundaries and specific members. The Governor’s office pretty clearly set meeting dates and times and agenda and staffed the meetings. The Governor’s office did not follow OMA. The Governor’s office cannot credibly believe itself to have a blanket exemption from OMA.

    Executive advisory groups are nearly always considered public bodies subject to OMA.

    The Governor’s office (alone?) knows how many people were named and thus what constitutes a particular quorum for a particular group.

    In the example of the “Latino Working Group” we know that at least 7 members plus the Governor were in attendance at the “first” meeting.

    If this Governor bothered to issue EOs for the things they’re *intended* to be used for, there would be clarity about how many people were appointed, who they were (or what constituency they represent and who would name them), the duration of the group, and the public purpose.

    Instead there is murkiness. It’s not accidental. It’s by design. The Governor’s design.

    Say what you will about PQ governing by blue-ribbon commission, at least they followed the rules.

    One cannot simply leave the details of the appointees and purpose of a public body vague in order to obscure one’s intent and then use that very clandestine murkiness as the excuse to keep one’s public body, private.

    Not how the law works.


  108. - crazybleedingheart - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 4:57 pm:

    == The governor’s top staff abruptly shut down a HOLD meeting last week==

    So much ad hocness these legislators exude when they exert their own determinative power like this.


  109. - zonz - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 5:01 pm:

    OMA people such as crazybleedingheart
    please read this, then explain the ways these working groups are similar / dissimilar

    http://foia.ilattorneygeneral.net/pdf/faq_oma_government.pdf


  110. - crazybleedingheart - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 5:07 pm:

    Sorry, zonz, can’t help you with your memo.


  111. - zonz - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 5:07 pm:

    I think this will help OMA people such as crazybleedingheart

    http://www.openmeetinglaws.com/entities_subject.html#SpecialProblems


  112. - zonz - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 5:11 pm:

    and more generally

    http://www.openmeetinglaws.com/entities_subject.html#Committies


  113. - crazybleedingheart - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 5:14 pm:

    zonz, I am not sure what makes you think I need “help” on this topic, but for your sake, I really hope you’re not barred in IL.


  114. - RNUG - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 5:18 pm:

    == He want whatever comes up for a vote to pass. ==

    There’s a way to do that if he is willing to settle for part of what he wants.

    Sit down with the 4 Tops, lay out what you are asking, listen to what they want, and try to cut a deal … if there is any trust left.

    My take on it is the 4 Tops will have to pass their wants and Rauner will have to actually sign the bills without amending them before Rauner’s bills get passed. Or at least it will be a GA bill, then a Rauner bill one at a time until the package is done. And, as everyone with experience has pointed out, it will all be structured roll calls.


  115. - zonz - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 5:37 pm:

    Please crazybleedingheart - so I know better for next time . . .
    How many dozens of hours have you spent reading OMA cases in IL? other states?


  116. - crazybleedingheart - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 5:41 pm:

    a) several
    b) N/A and the fact that you don’t know that is part of the problem

    thanks for playing


  117. - Anonymous - Monday, May 11, 15 @ 8:17 pm:

    Open up Governor, Just like MJM always holds open meetings with his favorites.


  118. - Demoralized - Tuesday, May 12, 15 @ 7:51 am:

    @crazybleedingheart

    I quoted the law as to why it’s exempt. That is my explanation. If you disagree with the law then call your legislator and ask them to change it.

    ==stuck their fingers in their ears and screamed “lalala legislator exempt!”==

    And some have apparently forgotten how to read and comprehend.


  119. - Demoralized - Tuesday, May 12, 15 @ 7:52 am:

    ==Just like MJM always holds open meetings with his favorites==

    There’s always a victim in the crowd.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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