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Friday, Jun 26, 2015

* It just seems to get crazier and crazier and crazier every day in this state with no real end in sight. So, this tune seems more than appropriate. Turn it all the way up

There’s meltdown in the sky

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Senate announces another “Committee of the Whole”

Friday, Jun 26, 2015

* From the Senate President’s office…

Committee of the Whole on Workers’ Compensation in Illinois Announced

What: Testimony on Workers’ Compensation in Illinois and the Effects of the 2011 Workers’ Compensation Reforms

Where: Senate Floor, Springfield

When: Tuesday, June 30th at Noon

*NOTE*
The Illinois Senate will convene for session on June 30 and July 1, 2015

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - The Cullerton plan

Friday, Jun 26, 2015

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Somewhat unclear on the concept

Friday, Jun 26, 2015

* From the Belleville News Democrat

U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, a Republican from Murphysboro, issued a statement that he was “disappointed” in the ruling.

“If that (marriage) definition were to change in the eyes of the law, it should be our citizens making the decision at the state level, not nine unelected justices in Washington, D.C.,” Bost said.

Um, Mike, our citizens here in Illinois did make that decision on the state level. Do you really want to deny your own constituents the same rights they get here when they work in, travel to or move to another state?

…Adding… Wordslinger in comments

I’m sure Bost was outraged by the Heller and McDonald decisions, too, those nine unelected elitist robes forcing the good people of Illinois to change their long-established law passed by their elected representatives.

There’s nothing more dreary than a politician phoning it in.

Yep.

* Also, from a recent Facebook post…

…Adding More… He also met with the winner…


I wonder if he would tell Ms. Fletcher his views on today’s ruling to her face?

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Mayor changes course on Rauner’s CPS proposal

Friday, Jun 26, 2015

*** UPDATE *** He’s not gonna get triangulated…


[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* More from the Sun-Times about that proposal Gov. Bruce Rauner floated yesterday about Chicago Public Schools’ state funding

Rauner’s proposal would give CPS $200 million more a year from the state for two years [for normal pension costs]. After that, a new funding formula would have to be created that would eliminate the need for special block grants. […]

Rauner’s plan would also increase the lump sum of funding for high poverty school districts from $85 million to $159 million.

* Greg Hinz obtained a briefing paper

As described in the paper, the pension pickup would begin immediately. But the block grant would not disappear for two years, and only after a new state commission approves a plan to revamp the state’s school-aid formula.

Bottom line: CPS over the next two years would be ahead $400 million.

Much of this is actually Senate President John Cullerton’s idea that he proposed to Rauner on that fateful recent Tuesday when Rauner walked in front of the cameras a couple hours later and all but called Cullerton a crook.

* It’s now seemingly back on track, after the city initially turned thumbs down

According to the briefing papers, the CPS pension money would be tied to passage of larger pension reforms and to adoption of a new statewide school funding formula. A new formula would be developed and proposed by a majority-Republican panel but, according to my source, would have to be approved by the General Assembly, which now and for the foreseeable future is majority Democratic. […]

And, now says a senior city official, the Rauner proposal “is a good start”—but an eventual good ending depends on details of that change in the funding formula.

Those changes won’t come for a while, however.

And I was given a much more optimistic review of the proposal today, but whatevs. The point is, there is no longer a total thumbs down from the 5th Floor.

* There are other demands

There is another CPS requirement—that is, an end to the system of the CPS picking up part of the teacher payment toward their pensions, amounting to 7 percent of pay. […]

Under the proposal as outlined in that fact sheet—a variation of the “consideration model” pushed by Senate President John Cullerton—workers would have to chose between reduced regular benefits and shrunken pension benefits.

For instance, vacation for state workers by law would be limited to two weeks a year for the first 15 years of employment, and overtime to work over 40 hours week, up from 37.5 hours now. Workers could get those benefits back, and a salary bonus of up to $3,000—if they agreed to accept lesser inflation adjustments in their pension.

* From the fact sheet, we have “Changes Based on the Consideration Framework” for SERS

After removing certain subjects from collective bargaining, create a baseline independent of pension benefits:

    Wages guaranteed not to decline for five years;

    Vacation reset to two weeks (under 15 years of service) and three weeks (15+ years of service);

    Adjusted vacancy/overtime rights; and

    Overtime pay normalized to match federal law, kicking in at 40 hours, not 37.5

Create several optional packages to incentivize different groups of employees to transition into Tier 2 pension formula prospectively:

    Salary package: $2000 transition bonus; one-time $3000 salary increase; OT at 37.5 hours; no additional vacation

    Vacation package: $2000 transition bonus; one-time $2000 salary increase; OT at 37.5 hours; 2 additional weeks of vacation

    Overtime/vacancy package: $2000 transition bonus; no salary increase; OT at 37.5 hours; 2 additional weeks of vacation; priority rights in work schedule, vacation, overtime, and “bumping”

Go read the fact sheet. Again, not all of this is Cullerton’s idea. But at least some of it could be accomplished.

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


Rate Mike Flynn’s new YouTube ad

Friday, Jun 26, 2015

* From the indefatigable Liz Mair…

Rich, can I beg you into posting this tomorrow AM? New ad from Flynn. And it’s FUNNY!!!!!

How can I refuse a request like that?

* But just so you know this is not a broadcast or cable ad

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      


AFSCME: “We must be ready to stand up and resist”

Friday, Jun 26, 2015

* From an e-mail to members from AFSCME Council 31 executive dirctor Roberta Lynch…

The negotiations currently underway for a new AFSCME state contract are the worst we’ve ever seen. The Rauner Administration is demanding dozens of changes to the current contract language—changes that would wipe out vitally important workplace rights, jeopardize employee health and safety, compromise the quality of services we provide to the public, undermine the union’s ability to advocate for employees, reduce promotional opportunities, and drive down take-home pay.

And after months at the bargaining table, the Administration has barely budged from any of these extreme and harmful demands, even as the June 30 contract expiration date fast approaches.

Some weeks ago, AFSCME proposed an agreement to extend the current union contract for as long as necessary to reach a new contract. The Administration rejected that proposal, but subsequently proposed an alternative “tolling agreement” which preserves all rights under the AFSCME contract for another month while negotiations continue and bars any strike, work stoppage or lockout during that time. Yesterday, AFSCME and the Rauner Administration signed that agreement.

This tolling agreement means that all current contractual rights of union members remain in place until July 31—with one exception: Over AFSCME’s objections, the Administration is freezing all step increases and semi-automatic promotions as of July 1. It is the union’s position that even without the tolling agreement, the employer would be required to maintain step and semi-automatic movement. So AFSCME intends to immediately file grievances seeking to undo this freeze.

While the one-month tolling agreement is clearly a positive step in the ongoing efforts to reach a contract settlement for state workers, it is by no means an indication that the Rauner Administration has shifted from its core goal of eliminating unions in our state, and particularly in state government.

There is every reason to believe that the governor remains determined to try to impose his extreme and harmful demands—possibly by forcing a strike or lockout—once that agreement ends. That’s why AFSCME is continuing to build support for enactment of Senate Bill 1229.

This legislation would allow unions representing employees in state government to invoke arbitration procedures if a contract settlement can’t be reached at the bargaining table, preventing the disruption of vital state services. Under the procedures set forth in the bill, an independent arbitrator, mutually chosen by the parties, would have the authority to resolve all outstanding issues.

SB 1229 passed both houses of the legislature and is now on the governor’s desk. Unfortunately, he has already sent strong signals that he intends to veto this legislation, calling it “horrible legislation” that would take away his power. It will be essential to have the legislative votes needed to override that veto.

Call your state representative and senator TODAY at 888-912-5959 or via Click-to-Call.

Tell them: “I support Senate Bill 1229 to help protect public services and ensure fairness for state employees. If the governor vetoes this legislation, please vote to override his veto.”

For a fact sheet on SB 1229, click here.

At the same time that we push to enact SB 1229, we have to be prepared for the conflict the governor seems determined to cause if it does not become law. AFSCME members want to settle our contract without any disruption to the vital services that we provide to the citizens of this state. But we cannot and will not accept a contract that guts our rights and jeopardizes our economic security. If the governor tries to force that kind of contract on us, we must be ready to stand up and resist.

In the coming weeks your local union will be providing you with information on how to best prepare for the possibility of such a struggle. Your AFSCME Bargaining Committee will be back at the negotiating table next week, once again making every effort to reach a fair contract settlement. Show them you back them up 100% by wearing your union buttons, displaying your window or yard signs, and—most importantly—by making clear your readiness to do whatever is necessary to protect the hard-won rights and economic progress that your union contract embodies.
In Unity,

Roberta Lynch
Executive Director

- Posted by Rich Miller   66 Comments      


Caption contest!

Friday, Jun 26, 2015

* The governor’s spokesperson Catherine Kelly is better known on this blog as “ck.” For example, from May 13th

Hi, Rich!

Hope you’re doing well today.

Just wanted to let you know Piatt County passed the resolution this morning.

Best,
ck

* Like most of Rauner’s people, ck is an entirely pleasant person in “real life.” Yes, that even applies to Lance Trover. I know you’ll find that hard to believe because sometimes, maybe even more than that, their public statements can get outta hand. But ck is truly a good egg.

And today I have the pleasure of telling you that ck is getting married this weekend.

* So, to celebrate, how about we give her a caption contest? From left: Mike Schrimpf, Mike Z, Gov. Rauner and our very own “ck”…

- Posted by Rich Miller   109 Comments      


Question of the day

Friday, Jun 26, 2015

* University of Illinois-Springfield political science professor Ron Michaelson

He said Rauner is a unique governor because he has publicly declared he’s not worried about re-election.

“In many respects, this is an entirely new and different ball game than we’ve ever seen occur before,” Michaelson said.

A commonly held perception. And it could very well be true.

* Now, keeping in mind that about the last third of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s TV ad blasting Speaker Madigan is spent buttressing the governor’s own image

(T)he Rauner ad campaign is also aimed at rebuilding the governor’s public support. Otherwise, Rauner-funded legislative candidates in 2016 face the same dilemma that Democrats faced under the unpopular Quinn - being associated with a deeply unpopular governor.

There may lie the reason that Madigan has taken to referring to GOP lawmakers as “Rauner Republicans.”

In other words, drag Rauner down with him.

* The Question: How much do you think Gov. Rauner really cares about his own public popularity right now? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


customer survey

- Posted by Rich Miller   74 Comments      


Protected: *** UPDATED x3 *** SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Rauner, Rahm and CPS

Friday, Jun 26, 2015

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Poll indicates Rauner trouble

Friday, Jun 26, 2015

* This is just one poll, the pollster has had some luck in the past but not always (which is pretty much par for the course with every pollster these days), so don’t jump to too many conclusions. We need more data

The June 20 survey conducted by Chicago-based Ogden & Fry, the only polling firm which correctly predicted Rauner’s five-point victory margin over Quinn, shows that just 35.7% of voters approve of the way the governor is handling his job while 46.7% disapprove or net approval of minus 11 points.

“Nearly half of respondents disapproved of the Governor’s job performance,” Ogden & Fry pollster Tom Swiss wrote in his polling memo.

Oof.

The poll, which had a +/- 3.75% margin of error, identified 17.6% were undecided.

The robopoll was of 711 likely 2016 voters.

*** UPDATE *** A subsequent Ogden & Fry poll had Sen. Mark Kirk’s approval rating at a mere 16.9 percent. That seems pretty highly unlikely, but who knows.

Again, take these numbers with large grains of salt.

- Posted by Rich Miller   82 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Fisking the governor’s words and actions

Friday, Jun 26, 2015

* Without a doubt, the Chicago Tribune has the best coverage today of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget veto. Go read the whole thing

Rauner told lawmakers in his veto message that the financial plan sent to him by Democrats was “an unbalanced and therefore unconstitutional budget.” But he has not offered an alternative beyond his initial budget proposal in February, which also would spend billions of dollars more than available revenue.

Yep.

* Let’s go back to Wednesday, when the governor signed the K-12 appropriations bill

“I refuse to allow Speaker Madigan and the legislators he controls to hold our schools hostage as part of their plan to protect the political class and force a tax hike on the middle class without real reform.”

* Today’s Tribune

A day earlier, Rauner approved one bill that would free up money so elementary and high schools can open in the fall, though everything else — from paychecks for prison guards to home care for the elderly — is at risk.

Exactly. The Responsible Budget Coalition also chimed in on that particular topic last night…

Governor Rauner approved spending for schools and early childhood programs yesterday, but vetoed all other state spending on the grounds there is inadequate revenue. The Responsible Budget Coalition is pleased the Governor declined to hold school children “hostage” to the budget standoff. However, what the Governor has done by failing to work with the legislature to adopt adequate revenue to fund the entire state budget is to hold hostage a long list of others: seniors, people with disabilities, people living with mental illnesses, parents needing child care to continue working, college kids, local governments, and the list goes on. Many of those hostages are families whose children will suffer even if their local schools open their doors on time. Schools are just one part of a much larger state budget. The Responsible Budget Coalition urges the Governor and legislators to work together to find the revenue to fund the entire state budget on time to avoid disruption of vital public services.

* Remember this from yesterday’s Rauner op-ed?

Now, in the spirit of compromise, we are willing to shorten the [property tax] freeze portion of our proposal to two years

* Tribune

But a document distributed by the Rauner administration in April contradicts that claim. At the time, Rauner was seeking legislation that “freezes property taxes for two years,” according to the document

No new movement there.

* Rauner op-ed

As part of the compromise, we would allow the state to pay normal costs for Chicago teacher pensions, as it does for all other Illinois school districts, in exchange for sunsetting Chicago’s special block grants.

* Tribune

Emanuel administration officials said that the mayor was blindsided by Rauner’s school pension proposal, adding that the Republican governor’s solution would hurt CPS. […]

Kelley Quinn, a spokeswoman for Emanuel, said CPS currently receives $600 million in state block grants aimed at helping pay for programs that address the district’s high percentage of children who have special needs or live in poverty. The district’s current “normal” pension costs are $200 million.

The total annual CPS pension bill includes almost another $500 million to repay unfunded pension liabilities. The state picks up these costs for all other school districts in Illinois.

*** UPDATE *** The CPS spokesperson may have spoken too soon. The mayor might wanna pick up the phone because, as I just now told subscribers, there might be a decent offer on the table.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

Again, go read the whole thing.

…Adding… The Tribune’s editorial board either doesn’t read the Tribune or doesn’t trust the paper’s reporters. Check out their lovely piece of propaganda today about all the new “lifelines” the governor is throwing at Democrats. Sheesh.

- Posted by Rich Miller   52 Comments      


Illinois’ same-sex marriages now recognized nationwide

Friday, Jun 26, 2015

* Equality Illinois…

Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision recognizing the freedom to marry for all loving couples will be celebrated by every American who believes in our nation’s founding promise of equality.

The court’s historic ruling–beyond its legal meaning–sends a powerful message that LGBT Americans and our families should be treated equally and justly in all facets of life and empowers us to pursue true, lived equality in our communities, at school and work, wherever we build our families, travel or retire.

For the more than 10,000 same-sex couples married in Illinois, our marriages must now be recognized by every jurisdiction in the U.S. and accorded the same legal rights and protections.

Despite this milestone Supreme Court decision, many of the freedoms we enjoy in Illinois, including protections against discrimination in the workplace, housing, and public accommodations and recognition of parenting rights, are lost when we cross state lines, and these inequities must still be remedied in each state, in the courts or by action by Congress.

An Illinoisan who works across the border in Indiana to make a living for the family can still be fired if that worker is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. An Illinois couple that might want to get married in the resort communities on the Outer Banks of North Carolina can be refused that right by a magistrate. In some jurisdictions outside Illinois, same-sex married couples traveling with their children could find their parenting status challenged and one spouse might not be able to deal with an emergency on behalf of the entire family.

As we know from our national history, equal laws are just the foundation for securing equal treatment. As we have seen in recent weeks, angry opponents of LGBT equality are determined to exploit and create legal loopholes to continue their attempts to marginalize LGBT individuals and deny us a chance to live equal lives.

And so our fight for a full equality continues in this state and across the nation. As we pause to celebrate today, we know our work to live equal resumes tomorrow.

The ruling is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   71 Comments      


Mel Reynolds indicted for failing to file tax returns

Friday, Jun 26, 2015

^ From the US Attorney’s office…

Melvin Reynolds, 63, a former member of the United States House of Representatives, was indicted yesterday on federal charges alleging that he failed to file income tax returns for the years 2009 through 2012.

Reynolds will appear for his arraignment at a date yet to be determined by the U.S. District Court.

According to the indictment, Reynolds received gross income in each year in excess of the minimum amount required to file a tax return. As a result, he was required by law, by April 15 of the following year, to file an income tax return (Form 1040 and accompanying attachments). Reynolds willfully failed to file income tax returns for four consecutive years – 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Each count of failing to file a federal income tax return carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a $250,000 fine. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, announced the indictment with Stephen Boyd, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigative Division Chicago.

The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Barry Jonas and William E. Ridgway.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains merely charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


« NEWER POSTS PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Question of the day
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* *** UPDATED x1 *** Hotline ranks Rauner most vulnerable, Pritzker announces "Rauner Lie Alerts," Rauner unveils @PritzkerMadigan Twitter account
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* *** LIVE *** Session coverage
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» Jailhouse Informant Bill Clears State Legislature, Heads to Rauner's Desk
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