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Friday, Aug 28, 2015

* The Decemberists will play us out

Come back steppin’ like to walk on air

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Oh, for crying out loud

Friday, Aug 28, 2015

* I told subscribers about these mailers from the ostensibly “pro-Democratic” Illinoisans for Growth and Opportunity the other day

It says that “state politicians have cut $14,036,198 from our neighborhood schools since 2010″ and that “without an immediate budget solution,” schools face “another $500 million in cuts to classrooms,” with more than 3,000 teachers laid off. The two-page flier lists Cullerton’s and Feigenholtz’s district office numbers and urges recipients to call them and “demand they stop playing games with our schools and pass a balanced budget.”

The flier does not mention that Rauner has held off on approving a tax hike he admits is needed to balance the budget until Democrats put limits on public-sector unions. The governor says those changes will save money and boost the economy, but Democrats say they would effectively destroy the collective bargaining process.

Cullerton, in a phone interview, pretty much shrugged off the attack, noting that he’s not up for re-election for three years. He and Illinoisans for Growth and Opportunity chief Greg Goldner, a prominent political operative who once was campaign manager for Mayor Richard M. Daley, have talked since the flier hit. Cullerton said Goldner “was not aware” that a bill already has passed the Senate by a veto-proof majority that would solve CPS’ current budget woes by giving it $200 million a year for pensions and allow CPS to defer hundreds of millions in other pension payments for two more years. The same measure would impose a two-year property tax freeze and mandate a rewrite of the state’s school-aid formula by 2017. [Emphasis added.]

OK, wait. First of all, Greg Goldner’s front group is using the exact same false attack that the Rauner campaign used against Quinn last year. The truth is that the state didn’t cut funding for schools. As I showed time and time again last year, school funding dropped after the federal stimulus package expired.

Also, Goldner is running a multi-million dollar attack machine and doesn’t even know that the Senate passed a Chicago schools bailout bill?

Really?

* More

The flier “is propaganda” that “doesn’t tell the whole story,” [Rep. Sara Feigenholtz] said in a phone interview. “We could agree on the budget tomorrow,” but Rauner “is holding the budget hostage, presenting us with issues that have nothing to do with the budget. . . .He just wants the collective bargaining process to go away.”

Goldner, in a separate interview, noted that similar fliers have been sent to the districts of every lawmaker in the city and some in the suburbs. Beyond that, he insisted that the fliers are not intended to criticize but to inform.

Um, the same guy who wasn’t even aware of the Senate’s school funding bill before sending out two direct mailers on the topic to every legislative district in Chicago says he’s just trying to “inform” voters?

Whew, man.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


Not as simple as it may look

Friday, Aug 28, 2015

* Background

[Chicago Public Schools] decided in 2012 to close [Dyett High School], citing low enrollment and poor performance. In June, just 13 seniors graduated. CPS has been accepting applications from organizations for a new, reimagined school in the Bronzeville facility. But CPS rejected the protesters’ Dyett Global Leadership and Green Technology Community High School concept.

On Thursday, CPS’ new Chief Academic Officer Janice Jackson said it’s possible that no school may take over the Dyett space.

“It’s important to be straightforward about the obstacles to opening another high school in this area, considering the fact that they have declining enrollment and we have existing high schools there that are under-enrolled,” Jackson said.

“We don’t want to open a new school and then have those schools competing when they’re already in a position where they’re fighting over the same children.”

* There are, indeed, quite a few other schools in the area

“I would remind everybody what they’re trying to work through, within a 3-mile radius there’s 10 high schools,” Emanuel said when asked about the hunger strike at an unrelated event. “Within about a mile of the school is King College Prep. So there’s a lot of high schools in that area, and how do you talk about another one when even some of the high schools that are within the 3-mile radius are not at capacity yet?”

* Let’s go back a bit to August 17th

Twelve supporters of revitalizing Chicago’s Dyett High School campus began a hunger strike Monday morning as they continue their call for the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system to adopt a long-proposed community plan to turn Dyett into a “global leadership and green technology” high school.

The Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School, which created the plan to re-open Dyett as a global leadership and green technology school, spearheaded the hunger strike. The 12 hunger strikers, including community and faith leaders, education activists and public school parents, held their protest outside the now-closed school, located in the Washington Park neighborhood at 555 E. 51st St.

“We are tired of our voices not being heard,” said hunger striker Jitu Brown with the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, one of many groups behind the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School. “There has to be accountability to the public for the destabilizing of schools in our community and the sabotage of our children’s education.”

Brown said the hunger strikers will only drink water and “light liquids” and are prepared to remain outside Dyett “as long as the creator allows us to be out here.”

KOCO is the major force behind the Dyett coalition. It has also tried to stop neighborhood “gentrification” by protesting against a new Mariano’s grocery store in Bronzeville. The group has long battled Ald. Will Burns, and its former executive director lost to Burns’ ally state Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago) in the Democratic primary last year, despite strong financial and other support from the Chicago Teachers Union. The CTU supports KOCO’s push to take over the Dyett school.

And despite the proclaimed focus on a “science-based” curriculum, the activists have another goal for their prospective students

It would focus on leadership skills and training students to engage in the political process.

Local politicos who are not KOCO fans ain’t eager to see that happen, to say the least.

* From August 26th

Although plagued by violence, poverty and a scarcity of grocery stores and retailers, the neighborhood is also undergoing a modest rejuvenation. A new shopping center with a major grocer opened this year. And there has been an influx of new condos and multi-unit developments. The neighborhood is being considered for the Obama Presidential Library.

Yet long-term residents complain that they don’t have a quality, open-enrollment school where they can send their children.

“I will stand here and I will fight … until the last breath I have,” Robinson said outside the school Wednesday. Robinson, a grandmother who had nine children attend Dyett, had been hospitalized Monday.

Keep in mind that KOCO fought against that grocery store development.

* But the hunger strikers aren’t just battling CPS to keep the school open. They’re also at odds with rival groups which are also attempting to open a school on the site. From August 26th

On Monday the strikers, as well as supporters, gathered at Little Black Pearl Art & Design Academy, 1060 E. 47th St., to hand over a letter to President Monica Haslip.

“On Behalf of the Coalition to Revitilize Dyett, we respectfully urge you to withdraw your proposal for Dyett High School,” the letter stated, which had the signatures of all of the hunger strikers. […]

“I’m crying because I’m tired,” Ramann said, who is a parent of a child in the Dyett school boundary area. “We live in a city that doesn’t value us and our opinions because we are Black.”

* But Mary Mitchell strongly cautioned against attacking Ms. Haslip

Haslip is the director of the celebrated Little Black Pearl Studio in Bronzeville. She’s been recognized nationally for her work serving youth in Kenwood-Oakland and Bronzeville.

She presented a proposal to reopen Dyett as an arts academy. […]

Black people shouldn’t have to tear each other down in order to build the community up.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** State complies with court order on DD payments

Friday, Aug 28, 2015

* From Ed McManus…

The State of Illinois now says that it has paid providers for July and August developmental disability services–a total of $120 million. Late this morning, attorneys for the Rauner administration and comptroller Leslie Munger complied with U.S. District Judge Sharon Coleman’s order, which was issued Wednesday after attorneys for the people with disabilities asked her to hold state officials in contempt of court.

“As of Aug. 28, the Department of Human Services has processed all vouchers for community-based services . . . that would have been provided in July and August 2015″ on the same schedule as in previous years,” the lawyers for the state said, and “as of Aug. 28, the comptroller has paid all of the vouchers.” (State’s filing attached)

Ed McManus, a Wilmette-based consultant to many of the providers, said it is good news. “But we never should have had this payment crisis in the first place,” McManus said. “These agencies serving some of the state’s most vulnerable residents have waited two long months, ever since the new fiscal year began July 1, providing group-home and home-based services without getting paid a nickel. Many of them had exhausted their reserves and maxed out their lines of credit, and they were on the verge of collapse, which would have left the thousands of people they serve homeless. What kind of a state do we live in, where our government would allow this to happen?”

Attorneys for the state said between Aug. 18 and 27, the comptroller has made $786 million in payments to entities not covered by the Ligas consent decree–including state employee payroll, debt service, aid to schools, state retirement systems, child care, foster care and Medicaid providers. Details of those payments were submitted to the judge.

“The payments in this case do not exist in a vacuum,.” the state said. “They compete against the state’s other obligations, many of which are also covered by court orders. The state is operating at a deficit of a minimum of $300 million per month to make payments necessary to cover all of the state’s priority obligations. . . . Because of the state’s cash flow problems, the comptroller must evaluate on a daily basis the amount of cash on hand and determine which payments may be made. While the state will continue to diligently process payments to providers under the Ligas consent decree, it is not possible for the state to commit to making each of many specific payments on specific days.”

State officials face “extraordinarily difficult circumstances posed by the state’s current budget crisis and cash-flow problems,” the lawyers said, and therefore the judge should deny the request for a contempt order. Also, the judge should “clarify that compliance does not mean doing the impossible.”

The state had said at a court hearing Wednesday that $76 million in bills had been paid. The additional $44 million was paid since Wednesday, they said.

* From the state’s filing, which is here

Per this Court’s August 26 Order, a list of payments the Comptroller has made since August 18 to entities not covered by this Court’s June 30 and August 18 Orders is provided in Exhibit B and the attachment thereto.

In broad terms, between August 18 and August 27, the Comptroller has made $786.4 Million in payments to entities not covered by this Court’s June 30 and August 18 Orders.

Of this amount, approximately $194 Million was for State employee payroll per court order, $101.8 Million for debt service, $188.4 Million for General State Aid to schools for K-12 education, $233.7 Million for State retirement systems, $8.2 Million for child care, $0.7 Million for foster care per court order, and $10.6 Million for payments to Medicaid providers per court order.

*** UPDATE *** “Exhibit B” can be read by clicking here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Question of the day

Friday, Aug 28, 2015

* Yesterday’s story about Mrs. Rauner’s group blasting away at Gov. Rauner’s child care cuts sparked a Mary Mitchell column

But don’t think this is a real Rauner vs. Rauner showdown.

As president of the Ounce of Prevention Fund, part of Diana Rauner’s job is to keep the organization focused on its mission of supporting early learning programs for at-risk children.

Right now, that mission is being threatened by her husband’s budget ax, but you don’t see Diana Rauner out front on this issue.

Instead, the Ounce of Prevention Fund distributed the unsigned “Action Alert” by email to the organization’s database.

Diana “Rauner signs off on all of our advocacy efforts,” said Megan Meyer, a spokeswoman for the organization.

“I can’t speak to whether she saw this particular alert. The Ounce statement has not been authored under Diana’s name, but she is aware of and reviews all of our statements,” Meyer said.

That makes the situation even more ludicrous.

Frankly, I would have expected Diana Rauner to have greater sway over her husband when it comes to this issue. […]

During Gov. Rauner’s campaign, Diana Rauner argued that her role at the Ounce of Prevention Fund was not a conflict of interest, even though the organization gets a lot of its funding from government grants.

That sounded disingenuous then, and it certainly looks disingenuous now.

I’m not sure that she really substantiated or justified any of her points in that column. So, it’s up to you.

* The Question: Should Mrs. Rauner stay on as president of the Ounce of Prevention Fund? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


online survey

*** UPDATE *** From the Ounce…

Dear Editor:

While we applaud the Sun-Times for drawing attention to the Child Care Assistance Program changes, we are disappointed that rather than focus on the impact of changes—the families who are faced with the difficult decision of providing for their families or ensuring their children are safe and cared for—the Sun-Times instead chooses to sensationalize Rauner vs. Rauner in Mitchell: Illinois’ first family at odds over budget cuts.

For more than 30 years, the Ounce of Prevention Fund has fiercely advocated to ensure that young children living in poverty have access to the quality early experiences they need to succeed in school and in life, and that parents have the resources they need to ensure quality experiences for their children.

During this time of unprecedented budget uncertainty and assault on low-income families, the Ounce has been on the front lines with our advocacy partners, battling to urge the General Assembly, governor and administration to work together to find a fair, fully-funded budget that serves all of Illinois’ citizens.

From formal statements conveying our point of view to time-sensitive action alerts activating supporters and media stories highlighting the families and providers at risk, the Ounce has been vocal. We have publicly advocated against child care changes and urged an end to the budget impasse that is holding our most vulnerable citizens hostage. We have worked with partners in early learning and other social services organizations to highlight the impact of this ongoing budget stalemate. And we have worked within all facets of the government, meeting with legislators and the administration, and filing formal complaints, comments and requests for hearing.

As always, our entire organization—from our board of directors to our leadership to our staff—is fully committed to our mission and continues to serve children and families in need.

Anne Lea Tuohy
Chairman of the Board
Ounce of Prevention Fund

- Posted by Rich Miller   54 Comments      


Nuding praises Arduin

Friday, Aug 28, 2015

* As I told subscribers this morning, Arduin is, indeed leaving. And Tim Nuding is genuinely grateful for her services. From a press release…

Tim Nuding, Director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, issued the following statement regarding the departure of adviser Donna Arduin:

    “As a key leader in the new Administration, Donna played an instrumental role in re-establishing sound economic and fiscal principles at GOMB, the Department of Revenue and throughout state government. She helped engineer the elimination of an inherited $1.5 billion budget deficit without a tax increase and produced an on-time budget proposal for the governor to present barely more than one month after taking office. She has been an invaluable adviser to me, and I look forward to her continued advice as we work to reach a pro-growth economic and fiscal agreement for the state.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   57 Comments      


YOU Matter to Illinois Credit Unions

Friday, Aug 28, 2015

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If you are a credit union member, you already know the credit union difference. If you are not a member, go to asmarterchoice.org to discover all the advantages credit union membership holds for you.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Point, counter-point

Friday, Aug 28, 2015

* Democratic point

A top aide to the Illinois treasurer said Thursday it was “unlikely” that the state’s cash balance was so low last week that the comptroller couldn’t follow a federal judge’s order to pay for services for the developmentally disabled.

The treasurer’s office pointed to daily balance sheets showing the state began the day on Friday with more than $217 million and ended it with more than $57 million on hand. The treasurer’s office also questioned whether Comptroller Leslie Munger only wrote checks to vendors whom she had to pay.

“Is it possible that the comptroller last Friday only paid those bills that are under some court order? It’s certainly unlikely. It’s especially unlikely given that they ended the day with $57 million,” said Greg Rivara, spokesman to Treasurer Mike Frerichs. ”They certainly could have at least paid some of those individuals on Friday, and she chose not to.”

* Republican counter-point

“I wish he had contacted us before making such an absurd statement. To look at a balance and say there’s plenty of cash is as ridiculous as looking at my bank account after I’m paid and thinking I have money to burn,” said comptroller spokesman Rich Carter. “That might be true if I didn’t have a mortgage to pay, a car payment to make and kids to put through school. Similarly, the balance in the state’s checkbook has fluctuations as we accrue funds for the larger payments we’re obligated to make. ”

I side mostly with Carter at the comptroller’s office on this one. They have to make payroll, pay bond debt and fund pensions. All that requires them to stockpile money for big pay-out dates. The comptroller’s office has been doing this for a very long time, and they have experienced, non-partisan staff handling this stuff. The treasurer’s office has no such track record.

* However, this is a valid point

“The comptroller’s office said money is tight because the tax increase was allowed to expire. The tax increase was allowed to expire because the governor asked that it expire,” Rivara said. “If the comptroller’s position is that there is a cash shortage, certainly, part of that is tied to the governor.”

Yep.

*** UPDATE *** Letter from comptroller candidate and state Sen. Daniel Biss…

Illinois State Comptroller Leslie Munger 201 Statehouse
Springfield, IL 62704
Dear Comptroller Munger,

In my capacity as chairman of the Senate committee on Human Services, I write to seek clarification regarding payments to service providers across the state. It is unclear which payments have been made, and perhaps more importantly, the process by which the payments have been prioritized.

In addition to the documentation you will be providing to Judge Coleman, and in the interest of ensuring our most vulnerable citizens receive the care they need and deserve, I hope you can take a moment to respond to the following questions:

    1. Under which consent decrees, court orders, state laws, and other statutory obligations are bills being paid?
    2. What process was used to determine prioritization of those payments?
    3. What are the top highest paid vouchers for July and August?
    4. Estimated GRF, CSF and EAF (“general fund(s)”) bills on hand as of July 1, 2015, including
    bills by governmental category
    5. Estimated FY15 general fund bills on hand projected August 31, 2015
    6. Estimated FY16 general fund bills on hand projected August 31, 2015
    7. Estimated FY16 monthly general fund state employee payroll, based on average payroll for
    month ending July 31, 2015
    8. Estimated monthly liabilities incurred pursuant to vouchers submitted under consent decrees including: Memisovski v Maram, Beeks v Bradley, Colbert v Rauner, Benson v Blaser, Williams v Rauner, Ligas v Norwood, B.H. v Tate

Now more than ever our committee needs a clear understanding of the mechanisms by which these decisions are made so that we can effectively advocate for the citizens of Illinois. I appreciate your assistance in guiding us through the details of this process.

I would also like to invite you to a Senate committee on Human Services hearing on September 8th at 10:30 a.m. in room C600 of the Bilandic Building. The committee would appreciate any guidance and information you can provide us, and we would be grateful for your attendance.

Thank you again for your attention to these questions. With more information, we’ll be better equipped to serve our shared constituents.

Sincerely,
Daniel Biss
State Senator, 9th District

- Posted by Rich Miller   80 Comments      


Not there yet

Friday, Aug 28, 2015

* Press release…

The Illinois House is expected to vote next week to override a bill that Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed, Senate Bill 1229. This bill would strip Rauner’s ability to bargain with the government union representing almost all state workers, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME. Instead, if an agreement is not reached within two months of negotiating, the state’s next AFSCME contract would be decided by an labor arbitrator.

Last week the Illinois Senate voted to override the governor’s veto of this bill, and the measure now needs House approval. Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan is urging Democrats to follow the Senate’s lead and strip Rauner’s ability to set the terms of the next union contract, but that might not be what voters want, according to a new poll released today by Illinois Policy Action.

The poll was conducted by Ogden & Fry across suburban Chicago legislative districts. In all districts surveyed, very few voters said their opinion of their state representative would improve if the lawmaker consistently voted with Speaker Madigan. Also, in all of the districts surveyed, more than half of voters said they actually would think more negatively of their state representative if he or she voted with Speaker Madigan the majority of the time.

“Suburban lawmakers hold tremendous sway in the budget battle going on in Springfield, and that’s why these poll findings are so important. Even though voters in these districts elected Democrats to represent them, the poll results show they don’t want their representatives to be proxies for Speaker Madigan,” said John Tillman, CEO of Illinois Policy Action. “Speaker Madigan is putting intense pressure on these suburban lawmakers to support his agenda and to override the governor’s veto of the AFSCME bill. But the polling data is extremely clear: Voters think very negatively of politicians who vote consistently with Madigan.”

POLL QUESTION: Do you think of State Representative [NAME] more favorably or less favorably if s/he votes with Mike Madigan 90 percent of the time?

POLL RESULTS:

    State Rep. Deb Conroy, 46th district: 51.4 percent less favorably, 22.2 percent more favorably for voting with Madigan;
    State Rep. Scott Drury, 58th district: 57.8 percent less favorably, 18.1 percent more favorably for voting with Madigan;
    State Rep. Marty Moylan, 55th district: 54.9 percent less favorably, 19 percent more favorably for voting with Madigan;
    State Rep. Michelle Mussman, 56th district: 51.6 percent more favorably, 21.5 percent less favorably for voting with Madigan;
    State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, 57th district: 52.2 percent less favorably, 16.5 percent more favorably for voting with Madigan;
    State Rep. Carol Sente, 59th district: 55.7 percent less favorably, 21 percent more favorably for voting with Madigan;
    State Rep. Sam Yingling, 62nd district: 54.1 percent less favorably, 18.1 less favorably for voting with Madigan.

Those Mussman results are kind of odd, no?

…Adding… The group misprinted the Mussman results. From the pollster…

More favorably 76 21.5%
Less favorably 182 51.6%
Undecided 95 26.9%

Also, in order to confidently “move” voters to base their election day decision on a single issue, you generally need numbers in the 70s. We’re a long way from that point right now.

Plus, the campaign hasn’t even started yet. The incumbents haven’t fully made their own cases.

In other words, we’ll see.

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      


Will remap reform proposal hurt Democrats?

Friday, Aug 28, 2015

* Remember my objection the other day to the Independent Map Amendment’s so-called “anti-gerrymandering effort”? It was based on what could happen to racial balance because of this particular passage

(T)he redistricting plan shall respect the geographic integrity of units of local government

* Well, minorities aren’t the only ones who should be highly suspicious of the current “reform” proposal, which already has 200,000 signatures out of the 600,000 needed to get it onto the ballot.

Check out this 2013 study by political science profs at the University of Michigan and Stanford’s Hoover Institution

We show that in many states, Democrats are inefficiently concentrated in large cities and smaller industrial agglomerations such that they can expect to win fewer than 50% of the seats when they win 50% of the votes. […]

Our results illustrate a strong relationship between the geographic concentration of Democratic voters and electoral bias favoring Republicans.

Go read the whole thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


Where are they now?

Friday, Aug 28, 2015

* Bradley Tusk and Sheila Nix.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


Putting two and two together

Friday, Aug 28, 2015

* An interesting take from Aviva Bowen at the IFT

Last week, Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times ran a story about how shutting down a public pension plan – the kind of thing that occurred in nearby Michigan and regularly in Governor Bruce Rauner’s daydreams – actually costs taxpayers money. Hiltzik references a recent study from the National Institute on Retirement Security, an organization “whose board and advisors comprise officials of public pension agencies and leading academic experts on pension economics.”

 
The upshot:

    Amid the nationwide panic over the rising costs of public employee pensions, one proposed solution is nearly universal: States and municipalities should shutter their traditional defined benefit plans and place all new employees in a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan instead …  As it turns out, the [Wall Street] Journal — and the drafters of the initiative — have the math exactly wrong. The experience of states that did exactly that shows that taking these steps sharply increases pension costs to taxpayers while providing employees with markedly poorer retirement benefits.

Featured in the story is “billionaire former Enron trader John D. Arnold, a backer of the campaign against public employee pensions”:

    The National Institute’s report is a reminder that it’s wise to ask who benefits in a shift in public employee pensions from defined-benefit to defined-contribution plans. Not the taxpayers, and not the employees. That leaves the major promoters of public-pension panic: Wall Street investment operators, such as billionaire John Arnold. Wall Street collects billions in fees from big public pension funds, but its take from millions of individual retirement accounts is potentially much higher. The lesson for taxpayers and public employees alike is clear: when you hear “experts” talking about how ending defined benefit plans will save everybody money, keep your hands on your wallets.

Let me put that more simply: destroying your retirement security makes Wall Street a lot more money.
 
But beyond just general outrage, why is that important to us here in Illinois? And why is that Arnold name so familiar …?

    A billionaire Houston couple heavily involved nationwide in pension and education changes opposed by unions — issues shared by Gov. Bruce Rauner and Mayor Rahm Emanuel — has contributed $5 million to a state political action committee, campaign finance records showed Thursday.
     
    The donation from John and Laura Arnold to IllinoisGO, short for Illinoisans for Growth and Opportunity, is the third-largest individual political donation ever recorded by the Illinois State Board of Elections in more than two decades of electronic record keeping. […]

That’s why. The caption that appears below Mr. Arnold’s photo in the Times reads: “What does he get out of it?”
 
Good question.
 
Beyond the Arnolds, other IllinoisGO funders have strong ties to Governor Rauner as well. So far, the PAC has produced an online video, distributed fliers, and sent misleading mailers about school funding into targeted legislative districts around the State.
 
Anyone want to wager what’s next on their agenda? I’ll bet you $5 million.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


No excuse for this loophole

Friday, Aug 28, 2015

* From a Sun-Times editorial

According to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, when he files an objection, the Illinois Concealed Carry Licensing Review Board goes ahead and grants a permit anyway 82 percent of the time. That’s a pretty good batting average for people who have records that a professional lawman finds scary. […]

In one example, the board granted a permit over Dart’s objections to a person who had two arrests for unlawful use of a weapon, a violation of an order of protection and a domestic battery case.

Does that sound like a “law-abiding individual” who should be permitted to carry a concealed weapon?

And those numbers likely understate the seriousness of the problem. Some people with violent pasts who apply for a concealed carry permit remain completely off the radar of local law enforcement because their arrests took place in other counties, and police are not permitted to use the most comprehensive data base for background checks — the Law Enforcement Agencies Data System — when evaluating concealed-carry permit applications.

Consider the case of 45-year-old Richard Idrovo, who just this month shot his girlfriend and himself to death at a Loop business. Idrovo possessed a valid Illinois concealed carry permit though he had a “domestic violence history,” according to police. We now know his record contained a 1994 order of protection and a 1997 arrest on misdemeanor charges of assault and violation of an order of protection. But without LEADS, Idrovo’s full record didn’t show up, and no police department objected when Idrovo applied for a concealed-carry permit.

* The accompanying chart. Click for a larger version

* I have yet to hear a valid objection to using the LEADS system to vet concealed carry permit holders.

Concealed carry proponents also want some changes to existing laws. Some could be do-able. But they need to agree to demands from the other side as well, and this should be at the top of everybody’s list.

By the way, before some of you NRA types take after me, I’m a gun owner.

- Posted by Rich Miller   62 Comments      


From a “trap” to a “magnet”

Friday, Aug 28, 2015

* Back in the ’80s, big cities like Chicago were widely seen as “traps” for the poor, unskilled and uneducated. Chicago still has its problems, but it is also becoming a highly attractive magnet

You would think that a metropolitan area that overall has lost jobs over the last decade and a half would be suffering a brain drain as the youngest and brightest head elsewhere.

But apparently, it’s not so. According to new research from a guy who usually gets his facts straight, Chicago has held its own in recent years when it comes to attracting the highly educated. And, by some measures, the city actually has improved its relative standing. That may explain a few things about the region’s bifurcated economy.

The report comes from Aaron Renn, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative New York-based think tank. For many years he lived here, and he has taken some glee in puncturing claims from local boosters of great economic success.

What Renn did is take a look at the 28 metropolitan areas that lost either population or total jobs between 2000 and 2013. Chicago, St. Louis, Milwaukee and other Midwest burgs make that list, but—perhaps surprisingly—so do San Francisco and San Jose, Calif.

Almost all of them actually added workers with at least a bachelor’s degree, despite the expected “brain drain,” Renn reports. And Chicago was well above the average, with a 32.5 percent hike in those with college degrees and a 6.2-percentage-point increase in the share of the population with a degree.

Interestingly, the latter figure ranks well, not only among the 28 metros that lost jobs in that period, but also among the 100 biggest metro areas nationally, where Chicago ranked 21st.

By a separate count—how fast our college-graduate workforce grew, compared with the national average—Chicago was dead even, with no change in its so-called location quotient. And a lot of other cities that are considered magnets for the highly educated actually lagged, including Austin, Texas; Denver; Minneapolis; Seattle; and Washington, D.C.

* Related…

* In-flight Internet provider Gogo up and running at new global headquarters in Chicago

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


FOP wants override of AFSCME bill veto

Friday, Aug 28, 2015

* From a press release…

The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), representing more than 32,000 active duty and retired police officers, is urging the members of the Illinois House of Representatives to follow the lead set by the Senate and vote to override Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto of Senate Bill 1229. This common-sense legislation will allow state employees to continue providing critical state services even if they are unable to reach a collective bargaining agreement with the Rauner administration. Millions of Illinoisans count on the services these state workers provide every day, and the legislation will ensure that these services continue without interruption, regardless of where the collective bargaining process stands.

“Senate Bill 1229 removes the ‘my way or the highway’ mentality from collective bargaining,” said Illinois FOP Legislative Chairman Keith Turney. “It provides a fair and equitable process for resolving disputes while making sure our veterans care, child protection, education, public safety, and many more vital state services continue unabated.”

Senate Bill 1229 provides a fair and independent process by which Illinois can avoid a work stoppage. If an impasse is reached during collective bargaining, the legislation requires both sides to present reasonable proposals to an independent arbitrator rather than go out on strike or institute a lockout. The arbitrator will carefully consider the proposals made by both sides and determine a course of action. The arbitration process typically helps both sides reach some reasonable middle ground in the collective bargaining process.

Mandating the use of an arbitrator in lieu of a strike or lockout, called interest arbitration, has been in place for years regarding contract talks with police, fire and other public safety officers in Illinois, including FOP members. Senate Bill 1229 will extend those provisions to cover contract talks with all state employees for the short term.

“There have been no labor stoppages among public safety sector employees like FOP members in the decades since this process has been in place,” said Illinois FOP Labor Council Executive Director David Wickster. “It works for both sides and keeps public employees at their jobs and off the picket line.”

“There is no doubt that Illinois is in bad financial shape, but we need to remember that state employees have ALWAYS paid their fair share through payroll deductions for pensions and other legally negotiated benefits,” said FOP President Chris Southwood. “The men and women of this state deserve to be fairly compensated for their work, and the citizens of Illinois have a right to expect uninterrupted state services. Everybody wins with this common-sense legislation. We applaud the members of the Senate who voted to override the Governor’s veto, and we urge the members of the House to join their colleagues and do the right thing.“

The Fraternal Order of Police, founded in 1915, is the largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers in the United States. With a proud tradition of officers representing officers, the FOP is the most respected and most recognized police organization in the country. The Illinois FOP, chartered in 1963, is the second largest State Lodge, proudly representing more than 32,000 active duty and retired police officers - more than 10 percent of all FOP members nationwide. Visit www.ilfop.org for more information.

- Posted by Rich Miller   79 Comments      


Report: 34,000 losing independent living services

Friday, Aug 28, 2015

* Patrick Yeagle

A proposal to save the state money on independent living services could mean dire consequences for as many as 34,000 people.

Gov. Bruce Rauner wants to decrease the number of people in Illinois who receive in-home care, a move disability advocates say could put people on the street. The proposal appears unlikely to clear two major hurdles for approval, and its acceptance could even cause the state to run afoul of a longstanding court order.

Among Rauner’s many other proposed cuts to social services is a plan to raise the threshold for elderly people and people with disabilities to receive home services, a pair of state-funded programs which offer qualified people help with basic tasks like laundry and paying bills. Home services allow recipients to live independently, instead of living in nursing homes or other institutions. In order to qualify, an individual must undergo a “determination of need” assessment, which scores each person’s needs on a scale of 0 to 100. Currently, anyone who scores 29 or above qualifies for home services, and a higher score means more hours of service. Rauner, who campaigned for governor as a compassionate conservative, wants to increase the threshold from 29 to 37.

Amber Smock, director of advocacy for the Chicago-based disability group Access Living, estimates that the change would knock 10,000 people with disabilities out of the program, along with 24,000 senior citizens. […]

[Springfield disability advocate Tyler McHaley] says most people who receive home services are low-income, meaning they won’t be able to hire outside help if they lose their state assistance. That could result in more people being sent to nursing homes or other institutions, he said. McHaley says the tightened eligibility would have a ripple effect even outside of those directly affected. As clients lose services, the people who provide those services would be put out of work.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      


No movement yet

Friday, Aug 28, 2015

* Tribune

A major financial supporter of Rauner is the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. Greg Baise, the group’s president and CEO, said that regardless of the future political implications, both sides need to reach a compromise on the budget quickly.

“You can only go so far when you wake up every day and Mike Madigan has 71 votes and John Cullerton has 39 votes, and that’s not going to change until the next election,” Baise said.

“I applaud the governor for his ardent support of business reforms that the business community supports very strongly. But ultimately, we need to get a budget, a balanced budget, so our businesses — manufacturers included — understand that this state is finally getting its act together,” he said.

But Durkin, the House GOP leader, said Republicans aren’t going to back down or give up on their governor.

“I will hold out. We are not going to cave in. This may take some time, but there is too much at stake,” Durkin said. “Twelve years of one-party rule has come to an end, and (Democrats) aren’t used to this and they don’t like it.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   67 Comments      


Today’s number: $58.1 million

Friday, Aug 28, 2015

* From a press release…

The Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association on Friday rolled out an analysis of the legislation, House Bill 1, that estimates that the $15.1 million cost to implement the plan, which was calculated by the Rauner Administration, would be offset by $73.2 million in healthcare savings from the remainder of the Illinois Medicaid budget or a net savings of $58.1 million, an estimate the group describes as “conservative.”

“Our cost-benefit analysis of the anti-heroin legislation reveals that, once the other healthcare savings are offset, the Illinois Medicaid program would save an estimated $58.1 million,” said IADDA CEO Sara Moscato Howe. “We consider that a conservative estimate because no prison cost savings were included in our calculations.”

Rauner vetoed sections of the legislation that would have granted Medicaid insurance coverage for medication such as Methadone and Naltrexone and therapy programs to treat addiction.

Illinois heroin overdose deaths have been escalating since 2011, according to Illinois Department of Public Health data. Last year, 633 heroin overdose deaths were recorded in Illinois, up from 583 in 2013. In fact, Illinois has the highest number of heroin overdoses nationwide, Howe noted.

Howe also pointed to a just published Roosevelt University study that showed that Illinois funding for drug treatment has fallen nearly 30% since 2007 while treatment capacity has fallen 52% during that same period - making Illinois the worst state in the nation for declining treatment capacity.

“Illinois - the suburbs, downstate especially - are being swept up in a heroin wild fire that is consuming teenagers and young adults as the principal victims,” said Howe. “Lawmakers recognized the danger. That’s why the Illinois House voted 114-0 in favor of the bill.”

Howe pointed out that in fiscal year 2014, there were 20,870 Illinois residents who entered publicly funded treatment indicating a problem with either Heroin or prescription opiates. Only 2,099 received Opioid Maintenance Therapy treatment.

IADDA’s vice president for substance abuse policy, Eric Foster, said that the group based its financial impact analysis on an average of healthcare savings-offset of $4.87 per person who would be expected to be eligible for heroin treatment using Methadone.

“By leaving heroin addiction untreated, the accompanying ill-health side effects, for which a person is otherwise Medicaid eligible, spread, worsen and cost far more to address,” said Foster. “‘Saving $15 million on left-side of the spreadsheet means nothing if you’re spending $73 million on the right-side of the spreadsheet.”

The Illinois House is expected to seek an override vote on Wednesday, September 2.

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


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Friday, Aug 28, 2015

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* Question of the day
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* Rauner's rollout
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* *** UPDATED x1 *** "I’ve had hands up my skirt. I’ve had my hair pulled - There’s just kind of nothing you can really do"
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