So candidate Rauner, back in 2012, you sketched out a plan that would have social service spending be held up as a way to prod Democrats to back your plans to weaken government labor unions like SEIU and AFSCME. But Gov. Rauner, didn’t just this week you say it was Democrats who were pressuring you on the budget?
GOV. RAUNER: “They want that kind of pressure. I believe that’s what they’re doing now. They want the pressure of no scholarships for kids. They want the pressure of no childcare as a way to push the process. That’s the only explanation I can give.”
CANDIDATE RAUNER: “I think we can drive a wedge issue in the Democratic Party on that topic.”
* From the very end of today’s Sun-Times story on the Chicago City Council’s passage today of a $755 million hike in taxes and fees…
There’s a 66 percent increase in Chicago booting fees along with the green light for City Hall to start using “self-release” Denver boots with a daily fine of $50 if the boot is not returned within seven days.
There’s also a fivefold increase in the maximum penalty seldom imposed against property owners who fail to remove snow and ice from the sidewalk adjacent to their buildings.
Motorists who drive without insurance will find themselves in violation of the city code, with fines ranging from $500 to $1,000 for the first and second offense to $1,000 for every subsequent offense.
For the first time, City Hall will require companies that “aggregate and sell” parking spaces, including those selling spaces through mobile apps, to collect the city’s parking tax, which stands at 22 percent on weekdays and 20 percent on weekends.
Yet another last-minute change would tie the annual permit for overweight trucks to the Consumer Price Index to “better account for the impact of large trucks on city streets.”
In a last-ditch attempt to garner more support for the plan, Emanuel conceded a 2-cents-per-ride fee for ride-share services like Uber and Lyft to help traditional taxi drivers pay their registration fees on Monday. In exchange, the amendment gives ride-share drivers access to airports, but it requires them to register with the city and pay $5 each time they drop off or pick up someone from the airport.
The vote came after some last-minute agreements between the mayor and council members, with Ald. Michele Smith, 43rd, securing consideration for a residential property tax rebate program should the mayor’s proposed homeowner’s exemption increase fail to get approved in Springfield. Emanuel had been reluctant to focus on any rebate option for fear it would diminish prospects for passage of his exemption plan in Springfield.
The rebate is the better way to go. Chicago doesn’t have to rely on Springfield, and if history is any guide most people won’t even ask for the give-back.
* I’m probably excerpting too much from this story and I’ll take it down if requested, but wow…
A 75-year-old Army veteran is recovering from stab wounds after saving 16 terrified children from a knife-wielding teen who had reportedly planned a mass murder.
James Vernon was leading a chess club meeting with children at a public library in Morton, Illinois, Tuesday afternoon when Dustin Brown, 19, burst into the room wielding two knives and threatening the children, Fox News reported.
“He actually ran into the room yelling, ‘I’m going to kill some people!’ ” Mr. Vernon told the Pekin Daily Times Thursday.
The 16 children — ranging in age from 7 to 13 — hid under tables in the library’s conference room as Mr. Vernon tried to distract the teen.
“I tried to talk to him. I tried to settle him down,” Mr. Vernon told the Pekin Daily Times. “I didn’t, but I did deflect his attention” from the kids “and calmed him a bit. I asked him if he was from Morton, did he go to high school. I asked what his problem was. He said his life sucks. That’s a quote.”
As Mr. Vernon inched closer to Mr. Brown, Mr. Brown started to back up, giving the children room to escape. […]
Mr. Brown slashed the knife at the Army vet, who blocked the blade with his left hand.
“I grabbed him and threw. … Somehow he wound up on a table” with the knife in his left hand pinned under his body, Mr. Vernon told the Times. “I hit him on the (right) collarbone with my closed hand” until Mr. Brown dropped that knife.
Mr. Vernon was able to keep the teen pinned down until police and paramedics arrived. […]
“I failed my mission to kill everyone,” Mr. Brown later told police, according to an affidavit. […]
Mr. Vernon underwent surgery for his injuries, which included two cut arteries and a tendon on his left hand from blocking the knife.
“I gave them the cue to get the heck out of there, and, boy, they did that! Quick, like rabbits,” Vernon said.
“There were no more potential victims in the room. He focused on me. There was no more talking,” but Vernon watched what Brown did with his knives and learned.
“I knew he was right-handed. He was whittling on his left arm” with the one in that hand, “making small cuts. He was trying to scare me, and he did.” But if Brown attacked, “I knew which hand it was coming from.”
Brown slashed from the right towards Vernon, who blocked the blade with his left hand. “I should have hit his wrist. That’s how you’re trained, but it’s been half a century,” he said.
After all the children fled, the knife-fight training Vernon learned in the Army five decades ago kicked in. Brown slashed from the right towards Vernon, who blocked the blade with his left hand.
“I should have hit his wrist. That’s how you’re trained, but it’s been half a century,” Vernon recalled. “First rule of combat: Be fast and vigorous,” said Vernon, who never served in combat. […]
Vernon said he was “bleeding pretty good,” but managed to hold Brown until a library employee removed the knives and helped to keep Brown pinned until police and paramedics arrived.
At the time of the incident, Brown was free on bond while facing prosecution charges of possessing child pornography. He told police he’d been planning for two weeks to kill people and then himself, according to an affidavit.
Had he brought a gun instead, “It would’ve been a different story,” Vernon said.
“I was hoping this would died down a bit,” he said before Rauner’s visit Monday, “but I recognize it’s important to the community not to let it go so quickly and do what they think they should do. Its part of the healing process.”
He’s done his own healing too. The bandages that once immobilized his right arm are gone, now replaced by a light sling and splint. Scribbled across the thumb: “I love you” and a heart. […]
“It’s an interesting circus that I’ll be glad to step down from in a week of two,” he said. “The kids ask about it, and then say, ‘OK, now can we play chess?’”
“And that’s exactly what I want to hear: ‘Thank you Mr. Vernon. Can we play chess now?’”
* This is standard stuff in both chambers and in both parties. But Speaker Madigan is not exactly beloved, so top-down involvement becomes a story whenever it’s one of his chamber’s seats: “Filling Mautino seat ‘top-down’ process”…
The selection of state Rep. Frank Mautino’s replacement is a “top-down” process that involves the state Democratic Party, which has spoken with people interested in the position, a top La Salle County official said Tuesday. […]
So far, La Salle County Circuit Clerk Andrew Skoog, a Utica Democrat, is the only announced candidate.
County Board Chairman Jerry Hicks, D-Marseilles, said his understanding was the state party interviewed Skoog and others. He wasn’t sure about the others’ identities.
But he said it appeared Skoog was the state Democrats’ preferred choice, given that Skoog is publicly campaigning for the position.
Hicks said the state party becomes involved in legislative appointments so it can determine who it’s willing to back financially.
* Governing Magazine looks at the impasse and has pulled out three very notable quotes from some folks…
“We probably have a different approach,” says former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar, a Republican. “I was a creature of state government. I worked my way up the ranks. I was very concerned about a budget because you have to have that to manage state government. He comes from the private sector where some of these business issues are a high priority to him. He’s entitled to his approach. But if I were governor right now, my priority would be to get a budget. These other things he might have to put off and wait to do another day.”
These “other things” Edgar is referring to are business-friendly measures. This year’s stand-off has stretched on for months because Rauner wants the legislature to pass these measures before he will sign off on the budget, which almost certainly will include some sort of tax increase. His proposals include restrictions on workers’ compensation, curbs on civil lawsuits, a freeze on local property taxes and limits on collective bargaining for government employees. The governor also wants the legislature to send voters a constitutional amendment to impose legislative term limits and another ballot measure to leave redistricting to a citizen panel, rather than keeping it in the hands of lawmakers.
Many of the ideas come straight from the playbook of the business community, which Todd Maisch, president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, says is no accident. “In my opinion,” Maisch says, “we consider Rauner part of the business community. There is very little daylight, if any, between the governor and us.” Maisch points out that no legislation the group has opposed has become law under Rauner. “The vast majority in the business community,” he says, “believe that, if there was a time for marked departure from the status quo, that time is now. Somebody from the outside is most likely to achieve that change.”
But Democrats have refused to budge. They see little reason to do so: Rauner’s proposals would hurt Democratic legislators and their key constituencies, especially organized labor. “It was almost as if he said, ‘Vote against your core principles, and for your reward, I’ll let you pass a tax increase,’” says Senate President John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat. “Democrats like to spend money, but we don’t like to raise taxes any more than Republicans do. So this was dramatically backwards. This idea of holding the budget hostage didn’t work.”
Last week, The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR) and the undersigned group of civic organizations urged you to meet to end the Illinois budget crisis.
We asked, and you responded. A meeting date of Wednesday, November 18th was deemed mutually acceptable. We hope this meeting will include serious budget negotiations, given the increasingly dire consequences to our state as the current impasse continues.
We are reaching out again to recommend that the agenda for this meeting include input from all participants, thus ensuring that all perspectives are considered. Your collective leadership in this meeting will demonstrate a bipartisan effort to find a solution for this prolonged budget stalemate. A meeting agenda that reflects this bipartisan effort and encompasses all issues is necessary to produce a positive outcome for our state.
We commend the Speaker and Governor for supporting public access to this important meeting. Providing media access and a live stream online will create an opportunity for the public to see and understand the budget negotiation process.
A bipartisan effort is required to end the budget crisis. A meeting on November 18th with an agenda developed by all parties could lead to an important resolution for our state.
Hon. Susan Garrett
Board Chair, ICPR
President, League of Women Voters of Illinois
Executive Director, BPI
Executive Director, Citizen Advocacy Center
Director, Illinois PIRG
President and CEO, Better Government Association
Chair, CHANGE Illinois
President, Union League Club of Chicago
I’ll let you know if anyone responds.
…Adding… I added some emphasis because some folks in comments seem to be confused. This is about making sure that the budget is discussed along with whatever else. It was, after all, supposed to be a budget meeting. The governor decided to make it about other things besides the budget. It should be seen as a rebuke of what Gov. Rauner tried to do. A polite rebuke, but a rebuke nonetheless.
*** UPDATE 1 *** Rikeesha Phelon with the Senate Democrats…
The meeting agenda will be the best predictor of the meeting’s productivity.
If the governor truly wants to end the budget stalemate he will be open to an inclusive process that focuses on immediate state budget solutions.
*** UPDATE 2 *** The press release is out and here’s the headline…
Reform Groups Urge Bipartisan Agenda for Upcoming Budget Meeting
Notice they use the word “budget.” Make no mistake, these groups want budget talks to finally begin.
After months of quiet chatter about a bid, state Sen. Napoleon Harris III of Flossmoor says he’s decided to get in the race. Although it’s a little late, there are signs he means it.
I’ve confirmed that Harris is circulating nominating petitions and that he’s hired a pollster, Mike McKeon. In an interview, Harris said he hopes to file needed federal paperwork by the end of the week and has arranged to rent office space. […]
Politically, Harris’ entry could hurt Kirk by injecting more energy into the Democratic race or help him by splitting the African-American vote with Zopp, giving Duckworth an easier path to the nomination.
Interestingly, when I asked about the latter, Harris took a clear shot at Zopp, saying, “I have a base. I’m an elected official. I don’t see her as having a base.” But he ducked a chance to go after Duckworth, saying she has a record and could defeat Kirk.
Considering how many e-mails I get from the Kirk campaign and other Republican Party outlets eagerly touting Zopp’s candidacy against Duckworth, I’m not sure how this helps Kirk, particularly since Harris appears to be targeting Zopp.
* Interestingly enough, one of the issues developing in this race is marriage equality. I don’t know how much resonance it will have since it’s now the law of the land, but Duckworth said this past summer it should’ve happened “decades ago”…
Cegelis and Duckworth oppose President Bush’s restrictions on embryonic stem cells for research, but Scott said he supports them to protect fetuses. None of the candidates support legalizing gay marriage.
…Napoleon Harris, one of the Democratic Party’s most deeply conservative voices. Senator Harris is on record as anti-choice, anti-marriage equality, against the Equal Rights Amendment, and in favor of voter ID laws.
…Adding… From Sen. Toi Hutchinson…
Since 2013 I’ve had the opportunity to serve with and become friends with Senator Harris. We’ve had many heart to heart talks about my views on reproductive rights and the impact that has on the economic security of women. I’ve watched his votes closely and have been very thankful that on issues I care passionately about like eradicating pregnancy discrimination, strengthening domestic violence laws, the right to be given all of your medical options when someone exerts their ability to deny care, anti bullying, healthy sexual education, and ratifying the equal rights amendment, Senator Harris has stood with us each time. Voters will decide based on his record, and the reality is, his voting record is strong in this arena.
* Zopp, on the other hand, played a role in passing the marriage equality law. Zopp was president of the Chicago Urban League when it participated on the Illinois Unites for Marriage campaign, hosting the field office and running phone banks, as well as acting as a much-needed go-between between the LGBT and African-American communities. Her group won Equality Illinois’ 2014 Freedom Award…
Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest organization advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Illinoisans, announced today that the first of its annual Freedom Awards to be presented at the 2014 Equality Illinois Gala is going to the Chicago Urban League for spreading the message of fairness and equality. […]
An active partner with Equality Illinois and other organizations in the pro-marriage coalition, the Chicago Urban League committed valuable resources and talent and even the use of its headquarters to the marriage campaign. When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this summer that same-sex married couples cannot be denied federal rights, the Chicago Urban League applauded the decision “as a civil rights organization that has, for nearly a century, fought for equality for the undeserved and disenfranchised.”
* Meanwhile, Zopp took some political shots at Rauner this week…
U.S. Senate Candidate Andrea Zopp was joined by students and non-profit leaders at a press conference Tuesday to address how the Illinois budget impasse and Governor Bruce Rauner’s unwillingness to resolve his conflicts with Democrats has negatively impacted the lives of everyday Illinoisans, especially the communities who can ill afford to bear the burden.
Zopp discussed how cuts to MAP grants, after school programs, daycare, and more have led Illinois residents to scramble to provide for themselves and their families.
Zopp spoke out against Rauner’s focus on selling the Thompson Center instead of attacking the real issues, Zopp said: “At a time when so many people are in dire need of support, especially minority communities and the poor, the governor has chosen to put a stake in the ground when he should be focused on being an effective leader.”
Torrey Barrett, Executive Director of the K.L.E.O. Community Life Center, has first-hand experience of the struggles in the community when youth don’t have better alternatives in their neighborhoods. “This budget crisis has hit our kids the hardest. From after-school program funding to MAP grants for college, our leaders have made it so much harder for hard-working youth rise out of poverty and succeed.”
Jocelyn McGee, a mother and MAP grant recipient spoke about how the budget impasse has made it difficult for her to finish her studies because her child care costs have doubled at the same time the future of her grant funding has become uncertain. “Cutting aid for children means that I will no longer be able to send my son to daycare unless I quit school and go back to work full-time. “This is a problem for me. It becomes a bigger problem when the state does not support students because I rely on MAP grants to pay a portion of my tuition at DePaul.”
Bianca Berkhia, Director of Development at La Casa Norte, a Humboldt Park-based not-for-profit that provides vital support services to youth and families facing homelessness, called on the Governor to do what’s right for the people of Illinois and end the budget impasse. “The people we serve are suffering under the crushing blow of the Rauner approach to running government without a budget. A resolution is possible but he must come to the table and do the job he was elected to do.”
Also participating in today’s press conference were Tyler Solorio, an Army Police veteran of the war in Afghanistan and MAP grant recipient; and Phil Crawford, a MAP grant recipient who is a junior at Roosevelt University.
* Both Zopp and Harris are attempting to stake out a position on police misconduct…
In response to the forceful arrest of a Spring Valley High School student arrest caught on tape, U.S. Senate Candidate Andrea Zopp has issued the following statement:
“As a mother, former prosecutor and someone who has spent years working in the community to create better opportunities for students to get a quality education, I am deeply disturbed by the incident between a police officer and a student at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina. Once again, the country is shocked by the excessive use of police force caught on film. Schools are places where students should be educated, empowered and made to feel safe. Not flipped over in a desk, dragged across a floor and violently arrested in front of their classmates. Especially when they pose no threat to the authorities.”
“Unfortunately, this appears to be another vivid example of an excessive use of force on a person of color by a police officer. I am glad to hear that federal authorities are investigating this incident as a possible civil rights violation. I call on Congress to carefully monitor the investigation and use their legislative power to ensure that better training is provided to police officers who work in schools. More needs to be done on the local, state and federal to stop these incidents from happening. As the wife of a retired law enforcement officer, I know that there are other choices that could have been made in that classroom to better address the conflict between the student and school administrators.”
Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) recently contacted the U.S. Attorney General after reports in the media raised concerns about violation of basic human and constitutional rights at Homan Square, calling for an investigation of policing practices in Chicago.
Homan Square is a Chicago police warehouse where a number of detainees have reported being mistreated by police.
“Transparency protects our police officers and the people they interact with,” Harris said. “When 7,000 people are held by police with few public records, it raises red flags and I feel we have a responsibility to look further into it.”
* Despite this rhetoric, Zopp is not exactly a woman of the people. For example, I have no idea why she even bothered to respond to this October 22nd Crain’s story, entitled “Where top execs go for steak”…
“Chicago Cut. For lunch, I order lobster salad; for dinner, bone-in rib eye. I like the restaurant because it has a great energy and vibe, the service is outstanding and they always make you feel welcome. I typically go for lunch but have been there for breakfast and dinner. It’s always great.” — Andrea Zopp, U.S. Senate candidate, Chicago
Rauner won on the basis that he will do something different and sorely needed to turn things around in this state. Now that he’s holding to his word, everyone keeps dangling the needy out there as incentive to break him from his position.
Well, that has apparently worked with everyone in the past, which is why nothing substantial has been accomplished to start digging us out of the mess we’re in. If Rauner gives in too, what has been gained? Are we really advocating for keeping the status quo??
That pretty accurately sums up the governor’s position. Not his public position, of course. Gov. Rauner would never be so explicit about having such a complete disregard for the “needy” during this war. Indeed, the governor and the Chicago Tribune editorial board say they’re really on the side of the needy for the long term. Just as soon as the governor wins, those folks will have jobs and bright futures.
Nevermind that the promised land of Indiana has a higher poverty rate than Illinois. Nevermind that all of the “pro-business” reforms he’s pushing would lower wages for working people and/or deny quite a few of them compensation if they’ve been injured. That’s not a bug, by the way, it’s a feature.
* I am for reasonable pro-business reforms and I’ve outlined them in the past. For instance, here are three doable yet significant ideas from one of my Crain’s Chicago Business columns way back in July…
* On workers’ comp, the Democrats have moved a tiny bit on requiring “causation,” a connection between the workplace and the injury. But they won’t budge further. Workers who may be half at fault for their injuries should not wind up “on welfare,” as House Speaker Michael Madigan repeatedly has said.
What about rolling back some of the “reforms” that former Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed into law in 2005? Those changes forced employer costs way up. Nobody would wind up on welfare if those were rolled back, and employers would save money.
* I don’t know anyone who disputes that local property taxes are too high. Rauner wants a two-year freeze on school property taxes. The Democrats are willing to give him that as long as the least-well-off districts are helped.
But Rauner also wants to all but eliminate collective bargaining rights for local unions. That will never fly with Democrats.
How about temporarily limiting the growth of employee wages and benefits for, say, five years? Once the two-year tax freeze expires, the caps on wages would free up revenue. Local school districts could use that money—plus property taxes—to gradually start paying for the pensions of its employees. Illinois now covers those costs, unlike just about every other state in the country.
* ”Prevailing wage” is a hot-button issue for the far economic right, and this Republican governor is most certainly in that camp.
If local governments could pay construction workers less than union rates, Rauner says, those governments could do more projects. Union leaders disagree, saying their workers are better trained so they’re less costly in the long run. Plus, God forbid a roofer should be able to afford community college tuition for his kids.
In reality, though, almost nobody ever uses union labor to build their own home. The cost is prohibitively high.
Why not somehow tie the prevailing wage requirement to median prices for local new homes? Locally funded projects that cost less than a set amount wouldn’t have to pay prevailing wages. Cities and villages do more small projects than you might think.
Accepting those reforms wouldn’t require a “surrender” by Gov. Rauner, as the brain-dead zombies on the Tribune editorial board would have you believe. The workers’ comp idea (involving rolling back 2005’s 7.5 percent raise for permanent partial disability) would likely save more than “causation,” according to research by the governor’s own staff.
* On the one hand, you’ve got a governor who’s hellbent on destroying unions, and on the other hand you have a pro-union Democratic Party which is hellbent on destroying the governor.
Eventually, this war has to end. Let’s hope that end date isn’t in January of 2019… or 2023. We simply can’t make it that far.
A trucking company that leases semis to the Illinois Department of Corrections is taking the vehicles back after the state failed to pay its bill because of the ongoing budget dispute between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democrats who control the legislature.
The Larson Group agreed to a six-year contract in 2010 to lease five semitrucks to the prison agency for $68,000 a year. The vehicles were used by Illinois Correctional Industries, an offshoot that has inmates make a variety of products ranging from food and clothing used in prisons to dishwashing soap and Adirondack chairs sold to outside customers.
While the contract was good for another year, the company decided to walk away after the state racked up what the department says is an outstanding balance of $17,010.30.
The trucks have been parked at a warehouse in the central Illinois town of Lincoln, and the corrections agency is scheduled to turn over the vehicles Thursday, corrections spokeswoman Nicole Wilson said. The agency owns other vehicles that can be used to transport food between prison facilities, she said.
The governor has said that business owners support his decision to hold the budget hostage to his anti-union agenda. One wonders whether that particular business owner is of the same mind.
Statement by the United States Attorney’s Office Following the Guilty Plea of Former U.S. Speaker of the House John Dennis Hastert
CHICAGO — This morning, JOHN DENNIS HASTERT, 73, of Plano, pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of illegally structuring cash withdrawals in order to evade financial reporting requirements. The Honorable U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin scheduled a sentencing hearing for February 29, 2016, at 10:00 a.m.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois issued this statement following the guilty plea:
“Now that Mr. Hastert has pled guilty, and the Court has accepted his guilty plea, the case will proceed to sentencing. As part of the sentencing process in this case, as in all cases, we will provide the Court with relevant information about the defendant’s background and the charged offenses, and the defendant will have an opportunity to do the same, so that the Court can impose an appropriate sentence taking into account all relevant factors in the case. We have no further comment about the matter at this time.”
Sneed is told Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Bruce Rauner, two business buddies who have spent family holidays together, are brawling over the state budget, according to two sources.
“The relationship is seriously frayed,” said a source familiar with the fracas – but who asked to remain anonymous.
Like two cats from Kilkenny, the two pals are battling over King Rauner’s purported fiscal “turnaround” agenda for the state which is giving Rahm, faced with empty city coffers, a serious case of nerves.
Sneed is told a major brouhaha took place between the two recently, but it’s unclear whether a phone was tossed or a shouting match took place. […]
Word is the duo are continuing to talk – but there is no logical discourse due to Rauner’s refusal to negotiate. […]
“Rauner, who has only known success in business, is fearless . . . and fearless can be dangerous when the lives of needy people are at stake,” the source added.