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Rauner admin won’t deny plan to use National Guard in strike

Monday, Jul 27, 2015

* That AFSCME memo last week which talked about the possible use of the Illinois National Guard in case of a strike caught the attention of Kurt Erickson

“The Illinois National Guard will not comment about our internal planning, particularly in regards to speculation of what the Governor might or might not order the National Guard to do in a scenario that may or may not happen,” Lt. Col. Brad Leighton said in an email.

Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly did not deny that a National Guard deployment is under consideration.

* But a former Illinois Guard top commander is opposed

State Rep. David Harris, an Arlington Heights Republican who served as adjutant general from 1999 to 2003, said he would advise Gov. Bruce Rauner against such a move.

“It’s a terribly impractical and, in my opinion, inadvisable idea,” Harris said Monday. “You’re going to replace paper-pushers — with all due respect to bureaucrats — with people who carry M-16s and .45 pistols?”

- Posted by Rich Miller   173 Comments      


Question of the day

Monday, Jul 27, 2015

* The Speaker…

* The Question: Caption?

- Posted by Rich Miller   128 Comments      


A wedge that might work

Monday, Jul 27, 2015

* Mike Lawrence

The governor needs to “get out of campaign mode.”

* From a Gov. Bruce Rauner press release…

Time Running Out to Stop Legislator Pay Raise
– Legislators have until Friday to stop pay hike –
– Pantagraph Newspaper: “Legislator Pay Hike Another Insult to Taxpayers” –

As Illinois legislators head back to Springfield, tomorrow will mark House members’ last chance to stop a pay raise worth more than $1350 before they get paid Friday, July 31.

House Bill 4225 would stop the pay raises, but Speaker Madigan and the legislators he controls refuse to vote on it.

I also happen to think that legislators shouldn’t have authorized a cost of living hike this year. But the structure of that press release is very similar to hundreds I’ve seen from campaigns over the years.

I mean, really, this is the same guy who structures a deal to give his education superintendent a Tier 1 pension.

* Even so, this particular campaign attack might actually work. People understand it and they absolutely hate this stuff

1978: A lame-duck Legislature votes to raise its $20,000 pay by 40 percent over two years, setting off a protest organized by then-activist and former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. It culminated in a 1980 ballot measure to reduce the size of the House of Representatives by one-third, to 118 members.

So, if the Rauner folks are trying to drive a wedge between politically vulnerable Democratic legislators and Speaker Madigan, this is their best bet.

And if Madigan does go along with those members’ wishes, then everybody else is gonna be upset because they’re not getting pay raises.

It’s a winning issue for the governor.

I still highly doubt this will get us to a deal, however. The pay raise stuff won’t lead to blatantly anti-union laws or whatever.

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      


Because… Madigan

Monday, Jul 27, 2015

* From the Illinois Policy Institute

Mitsubishi Motors North America announced July 24 that it will close down the company’s production facilities in Normal, Illinois, jeopardizing the jobs of 918 workers who are represented by the United Automobile Workers union, or UAW.

“We do not have a statement at this time, however, as an organization, we continuously assess our supply chain to ensure we remain competitive and best positioned to serve our customers,” Mitsubishi North America spokesman Dan Irvin told the Journal Star.

Of all the Japanese-owned auto factories in the U.S., the Normal plant is the only one where hourly workers are represented by the UAW, according to the Pantagraph.

The fact of the matter is that manufacturers in Illinois cannot remain competitive given the state’s absurd regulatory and business climate. And it’s no mystery why businesses leave. […]

Notably, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan has failed to acknowledge these realities. In refusing to speak about policy errors affecting the state’s middle class, Madigan has offered no thoughts on the causes of Illinois’ manufacturing exodus nor solutions for how to fix the problem.

* From Car and Driver

Mitsubishi, once a bastion of low-priced, sporty models, has struggled in the U.S. for a long time… While a recent sales uptick has helped Mitsubishi claim success, that’s only because the numbers have been so low. The company’s 49,544 units last year weren’t even a quarter of the company’s 2002 peak, when more than 345,000 Mitsus flew out the door… Cars like the awesome 3000GT are no more (with the Lancer Evolution soon to follow), and dealers have little competitive product until the refreshed 2016 Outlander plug-in, next Lancer, and Mirage sedan reach our shores.

Check out this infographic about how the company’s sales have fallen through the floor.

* Also

“This difficult decision follows years of challenge to remain viable, and was compelled by the combination of insufficient U.S. sales and low production capacity utilization,” Hiroshi Harunari, executive vice president in charge of overseas operations for Mitsubishi Motors Corp., said in the statement. “We greatly value the work of all of our employees in Normal and want to stress that our motivation to exit from this facility is unrelated to labor costs or our relationship with the UAW.

“Our partnership over the years has been both respectful and mutually beneficial. Our primary focus right now is to work together to identify a strategic buyer for the plant in order to transit into next phase.”

* And

[Normal Mayor Chris Koos] said company officials told him the reason for the decision was tied to a decline in Russian sales of the Outlander Sport, which has been built at the plant since 2012.

All that being said, finding a manufacturer to move into that building ain’t gonna be easy, considering our high costs of doing business here.

And it is true that Speaker Madigan has not proposed anything major this year to help our manufacturing base.

- Posted by Rich Miller   86 Comments      


This is what’s known as “lip service”

Monday, Jul 27, 2015

* From coverage of Gov. Rauner’s budget proposal

The CTA, Metra and Pace would lose almost $130 million in state funding under the 2016 budget plan that Gov. Bruce Rauner presented Wednesday, potentially threatening transit services provided to disabled riders and opening the door to deep service cuts and fare increases for daily commuters on trains and buses, transit officials said. […]

Meanwhile, paratransit services, which are provided through Pace under the Americans with Disabilities Act, would lose about 15 percent of the state funds, or $8.5 million, according to the RTA.

Customers pay $3 per ride, while the cost to provide the federally mandated ADA service is roughly $40 per ride, officials said. The service’s projected annual cost is $172 million, while revenue from fares totals about $14 million, Pace spokesman Patrick Wilmot said. […]

Federal law prohibits transit agencies from discriminating against people with disabilities because transportation is a civil right.

* More

The CTA issued this response: “Eliminating or reducing the $28 million reimbursement for a free and reduced fare rides for seniors and riders with disabilities would place a further burden on a state-mandated program that is already woefully underfunded.”

More than 50,000 people are currently using paratransit to get around at a cost of more than $2800 a year per person – a price tag that cuts deep into an agency that stands to lose millions in funding.

* From this past weekend…


- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


Reforms are having an impact

Monday, Jul 27, 2015

* Illinois’ prison population is decreasing. Part of that is because of an early release program for good behavior. Part of it is upstream

In 2009, for example, the [Department of Corrections] processed 27,400 inmates into the prison system. In the most recent fiscal year, statistics show that number has fallen to 19,600. […]

A review of statistics compiled by IDOC shows that in all but 21 of Illinois 102 counties — most of them smaller, more rural jurisdictions — the number of inmates heading to state correctional facilities has dropped.

In 2009, for example, Cook County sent 13,406 inmates into the system. In the most recent fiscal year, that number dropped to 10,268.

Similar decreases took place through the state, with McLean County’s numbers dropping from 462 inmates in 2009 to 274 in the most recent fiscal year.

Part of the reason for that is the state’s drug courts, which have reduced the number of people being sent to prison.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


De-escalation

Monday, Jul 27, 2015

* Korecki

There’s a word that’s emerged prominently in the coverage surrounding the traffic stop, arrest and subsequent jailhouse death of Sandra Bland that’s worth study.

Escalation.

Yep. Any read of the transcript shows that.

* Natasha talks to Sen. Kwame Raoul about his “body cam” bill, which does so much more

In Illinois, Raoul has co-sponsored sweeping law enforcement reform legislation that awaits Gov. Bruce Rauner’s signature. Raoul said elements of the legislation go directly toward addressing the kinds of things that went wrong after Bland’s police encounter.

It’s a traffic stop, recall, that is happening in a post-Ferguson and post-Baltimore era, where racially-charged, police incidents in those cities have heightened tensions across the nation. […]

Those incidents helped drive the legislation in Illinois, SB1304, which sets out clear procedures for the use of body cameras and dashcam cameras. The bill bans Illinois police officers to use chokeholds, unless the use of deadly force is warranted. It requires police to fill out “receipts” for those individuals — including pedestrians — who are “frisked” or patted down but not arrested. Police would have to detail the reason for stopping the person, detailing that person’s race and logging any contraband or other personal items taken from the person.

The provisions work to place additional checks on police authority while also providing police officers evidence if they later face misconduct allegations.

While the words “escalation” or “de-escalation” do not appear in the text of the 174-page bill, the legislation includes clauses requiring additional police training every three years on “constitutional and proper use of law enforcement authority, procedural justice, civil rights, human rights and cultural competency.”

A key component to that training, Raoul says, is practicing scenarios like the one that confronted Encinia that day.

* Meanwhile

In a video posted to YouTube, dozens of community members could be seen visibly upset that Chicago Police had removed the car from the crime scene with the bodies of Thomas and Wallace still inside. The video is titled: “So damn disrespectful, this is just not right . . .”

The crowd can be seen shouting, swearing and aggressively approaching police, prompting one officer to ready his baton and hold it in the air.

The video, by user “Jay Hustle,” has garnered more than 700,000 views on various social media sites, including Facebook.

“They tow the car with a body hanging out of the window,” Hustle can be heard saying. “When did it become procedure to tow a car with a deceased body hanging out of a window with a repo truck? Only in Chicago.” […]

“From time to time, depending on the unique circumstances of the death, bodies may be left in vehicles and removed in private area at the ME’S office [CPD responded]. This would be done to protect the integrity of the crime scene (the car) while at the same time preserving the dignity of the deceased by handling their bodies in a private area rather than on the street in full view of onlookers.

But if you watch the video, which contains quite a bit of profanity, you’ll notice how calm the CPD officers are and how they patiently de-escalate the situation, despite being vastly outnumbered.

I dunno about the car towing thing, but those coppers are top notch.

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Rate Mark Kirk’s new online ad

Monday, Jul 27, 2015

* There is some chatter behind the scenes, but it doesn’t mean anything as long as Sen. Kirk is moving forward with his campaign. And he’s definitely doing that

Pssst!

Sneed hears rumbles top Republican Party stalwarts are worried U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who suffered a massive stroke in 2012, may not have the energy to win re-election.

“The last race for the U.S. Senate seat between Kirk and Dem senatorial hopeful Alexi Giannoulias was a bruiser, and the next race will be heavily funded by the Democratic Party,” said a top GOP source. (U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill. and attorney/former Urban League President Andrea Zopp have entered the Dem primary fray.)

Kirk, who had to learn how to walk again and has struggled with speech issues, has dealt recently with verbal gaffes, one of which required him to offer a one-line apology recently after he was caught on a hot microphone referring to U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a bachelor, as a “bro with no ho.”

More recently, Kirk’s performance while questioning Consumer Financial Protection Bureau chief Richard Cordray at a Senate Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs Committee hearing was described as “disastrous” by a top Republican insider who asked not to be identified.

* From the Kirk campaign…

The Kirk For Senate campaign launched a new ad, titled “Headed to Trial”, in response to Rep. Duckworth’s second negative ad in just the last two months. The new video highlights Rep. Duckworth’s upcoming trial as the motive behind her torrent of negative advertising aimed at Senator Kirk.

“Next month, Rep. Duckworth and her taxpayer-paid legal team are scheduled to be in court facing charges that Duckworth violated the state ethics act by attempting to silence whistleblowers during her time as Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Kevin Artl, campaign manager for Kirk for Senate. “The launch of the negative ad by Rep. Duckworth is meant to distract the public from her own mounting legal troubles as yet another member of the Blagojevich administration is headed to trial.”​

Background on the upcoming Duckworth Trial:

In 2009, two employees of the Anna Veterans Home sued Tammy Duckworth as an individual in Union County Circuit Court for violations of the State of Illinois Officials and Employees’ Ethics Act. Duckworth is accused of silencing a whistleblower, wrongful termination, humiliating an employee and approving inaccurate performance reviews that rendered the plaintiffs ineligible for bonuses or raises. The first pre-trial hearing of this case is set for August 4, 2015.

* It’s online only for now. Rate it

*** UPDATE *** Press release…

“Words have ceased to have meaning now that Mark Kirk has called another campaign ‘desperate.’ Let’s consider just the past week: in response to his over-the-top reaction to the Iran nuclear agreement, Kirk was called the ‘love child of Ted Cruz and Michele Bachman’ in one editorial and ‘a political loose cannon’ in another; a second prominent political handicapper moved the race to ‘Lean Democratic’ from ‘Toss-up;” and Republicans are now talking openly about his ‘disastrous’ campaign. I could go back further to his sexist and racially insensitive comments about a ‘bro with no ho’ and people ‘driving faster through’ African American neighborhoods, but you get the point. Senator Kirk’s campaign is in free fall, and no amount of misdirection can change the fact that Illinois families are tired of his reckless and obnoxious rhetoric.” — Matt McGrath, Democratic Party of Illinois spokesman

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


The never-ending stalemate

Monday, Jul 27, 2015

* When the Democratic leaders say all they heard at the latest meeting with the governor was talking points, this is what they mean

Cullerton said he’s willing to meet with Rauner anytime the governor asks.

But, Cullerton was asked, why wait on the governor? Why not set up his own meeting with Rauner and the leaders? Cullerton replied that it was possible but probably not fruitful.

“If it’s like the other meetings, we sit there and the guy reads off a sheet of paper and nothing changes,” Cullerton said.

* Greg Hinz

I asked a prominent state lawmaker the other day when he thought the state budget stalemate might end.

“August,” he replied, before Illinois becomes even more of a national laughingstock than it is today. “Or December,” so voters can have the holiday “gift” of a fiscal 2016 spending plan while much of fiscal 2016 actually remains. “But I really don’t know.”

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   55 Comments      


Weirdest. FOIA denial. Ever.

Monday, Jul 27, 2015

* And this shouldn’t happen, why?

Governor Bruce Rauner’s attorneys say the governor’s schedules are private, and that revealing the identity of people he’s meeting with could be used to “determine the substance and direction of his judgment and mental processes.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   77 Comments      


Today’s quotable

Monday, Jul 27, 2015

* Kent Redfield

“It’s not at all clear all of the time that John Cullerton and Mike Madigan and Bruce Rauner are inhabiting the same universe.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


Rauner admin claims it wants Teamsters-like bargain with AFSCME

Monday, Jul 27, 2015

* The SJ-R follows up on a story here about how the Rauner administration is attempting to recruit retirees to take over for state workers in case of a strike

Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly didn’t deny that the calls are being made.

“We are actively pursuing all options to continue important services in the event that AFSCME chooses to strike, rather than agree to proposals similar to those recently ratified by the Teamsters,” Kelly said.

A Teamsters local representing about 350 workers in Cook County recently agreed to a new contract that included a four-year wage freeze, but incentive bonuses.

AFSCME said the fact the administration is contacting retirees about returning to work “is the smoking gun that shows Gov. Rauner is seeking to cause a crisis.”

“It echoes his repeated threats on the campaign trail to shut down state government and the public services it provides in order to strip the rights of public service workers and drive down their middle-class standards of living,” said AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall. “Our union has never had a strike in state government. State employees don’t want to be forced to strike.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   81 Comments      


It’s time for the top dog to act like it

Monday, Jul 27, 2015

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

Last week, Gov. Bruce Rauner declared to reporters that if it wasn’t for House Speaker Michael Madigan, the budget impasse would’ve been resolved.

And perhaps if the sky was green, then grass might be blue.

For starters, what the governor said was highly doubtful. It’s not like in the absence of Madigan that Senate President John Cullerton and his liberal Democratic caucus would’ve eagerly gone along with the harshly anti-union aspects of Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda” in exchange for a budget deal and tax hike, as the governor is demanding.

Cullerton confirmed that fact just a day after Rauner made his remarks.

“This is a supermajority of Democrats and a bunch of pro-union Republicans in this state,” Cullerton told reporters. “This isn’t, you know, Oklahoma or Kansas. And so he’s got to understand, he ran for governor of Illinois,” he said of Rauner.

The governor is demanding things that Democrats just won’t ever go along with, like all but eliminating collective bargaining rights for unions at the local government level, killing off the prevailing wage for construction workers, and doing away with the mostly “no fault” aspect of the workers’ compensation system.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is more conservative than Cullerton, and he’d like to see some changes to the workers’ comp system, but he has taken the side of unions in this ideological war as well.

Plus, let’s get real here. There is no “absence” of Mike Madigan. He is, love him or hate him (and, if the polls are right, most people hate him), a fact of Statehouse life.

It’s true that Madigan hasn’t been cooperative during the long overtime legislative session. He even intervened in the Senate to prevent Cullerton from passing a compromise bill on property taxes this month.

Cullerton’s proposal attempted to address one of Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda” demands of a two-year property tax freeze while making sure Chicago schools and other struggling school districts around the state weren’t harmed.

The bill was opposed by the Chicago Teachers Union, which nonetheless called it “well-intentioned.” The Chicago Teachers Pension Fund also opposed the bill because it changed the pension payment “ramp” schedule for the city’s school system. The Republicans, of course, were also opposed, because the governor wants to get rid of most collective bargaining rights for teachers unions as part of his proposal.

For all of those reasons, plus one, Cullerton’s measure received 32 “yes” votes—four short of the three-fifths majority needed during an overtime session.

The “plus one” angle is that Speaker Madigan was also opposed. If you check the roll call, Sen. Martin Sandoval, who is Madigan’s senator, didn’t vote even though he was in the chamber during the roll call. Sen. Steve Landek, whom Madigan appointed to the Senate four years ago, voted “present.”

The Senate Democrats were aware that Madigan was working against the bill, but Cullerton went ahead with the roll call anyway. Cullerton believes he has the votes to pass the legislation when his chamber returns to town in August.

Look, I won’t excuse any of his actions, but others have found a way to make a deal with Madigan. Heck, even Rod Blagojevich did, and he did so after he accused the chairman of the Democratic Party of being a Republican.

So, enough with the excuses and the eliminationist fantasies. If the governor wants an agreement, then he has to step away from his far-right economic agenda and find some practical solutions to this mess or we will never even get to talking about a budget.

Democrats (and a whole lot of Republicans) are simply not going to vote to eviscerate labor unions. Period. This isn’t so much a personality clash with one stubborn House speaker as it is an ideological war with more than half the state.

Successful governors have always found a way to bridge the oftentimes yawning gaps between the various interests and power centers.

I don’t disagree at all with the governor that we need some economic reforms to spur some much-needed growth. But if this governor was serious about breaking the logjam, he’d find a way to do that in concert with a Democratic supermajority.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   136 Comments      


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