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Open thread

Wednesday, Dec 16, 2015

* Blogging will be light the rest of the day because of my City Club thing. So, talk amongst yourselves. But, please, be nice to each other. It’s the holidays.

- Posted by Rich Miller   84 Comments      

Question of the day - Golden Horseshoe Awards

Wednesday, Dec 16, 2015

* The 2015 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Contract Lobbyist had two very strong crowd favorites, so I’m declaring a tie…

There isn’t a more respected contract lobbyist in the capitol than Dave Sullivan. He’s the best around. He’s pragmatic and bipartisan. He’s legitimately nice and helpful. And he takes on hard issues and clients — having FOP and Local 150 right now is a handful, and Sullivan does it with aplomb.


Nancy Kimme for best contract lobbyist.

It is a rarity to find someone with Nancy’s level of experience in both the political and governmental sides of the business who commands so much respect from both sides of the aisle - and not just from staff but elected officials. Her sphere of influence reaches out not just under the Dome but throughout Illinois and includes Washington DC insiders and electeds. Nancy’s knowledge of state government, professionalism, and likability are why people trust her to get the job done and a solid indicator as to why she has accumulated such a broad portfolio in just one year as a lobbyist.

I know them both, I respect them both, it’s only fitting that they share this award.

* The 2015 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best In-House Lobbyist also had a crowd favorite…

Emily Miller with Voices for Illinois Children. Emily has elevated the public debate about the impact the budget has on health and human services across Illinois. She’s frequently quoted on this blog and she lead efforts among colleagues to bring national media attention to Illinois’ budget issues at hearings both in Springfield and Chicago.

She’s been a fearless advocate for social services, in a system that is often ripe with advocates that are scared to challenge leadership of all stripes.


* I decided a few weeks ago (long before she won today’s award) to change the name of today’s category to the Emily Miller Award for Best “Do-Gooder” Lobbyist.

Have at it and make sure to explain your vote. Thanks!

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

GOP leaders not enthused about recall bill

Wednesday, Dec 16, 2015

* The Tribune writes about Rep. La Shawn Ford’s (D-Chicago) bill to allow a recall of Chicago’s mayor

Republican activists have sought to encourage GOP lawmakers to sign onto the bill, ostensibly to encourage Republican outreach to African-Americans but also to try to take advantage of a rare show of weakness by Emanuel.

Republican Rep. Jeanne Ives of Wheaton added herself as a co-sponsor. Signing on Tuesday was Rep. Ron Sandack of Downers Grove, the House Republican floor leader and a key ally of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, a friend of Emanuel.

Rauner’s office had no comment on the measure, but even House Republican leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs, an attorney, questioned whether a recall bill — if passed and signed into law — could affect Emanuel in his current term.

“I don’t think that the constitutional law can apply to a sitting mayor,” said Durkin, who has taken no position on the bill. “I’m not giving any advice (to members) one way or the other.”

Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno of Lemont said that while she supports “empowering voters,” she remains cautious. “Establishing the process for the recall of elected officials can set off a lot of alarm bells. If not done properly, it could put us on a dangerous path,” she said.


- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      

Was a Murray resident waterboarded?

Wednesday, Dec 16, 2015

* AP

Like most of the severely disabled residents at the Warren G. Murray Developmental Center in southern Illinois, Todd Clementz stuck to a routine: Deaf, blind and requiring constant supervision, he passed his days with meals, therapy and an evening bath.

But in late March, Clementz’s routine was disrupted when a worker at the state hospital gave him an unscheduled shower, during which the 46-year-old man choked to death. A jury in a coroner’s inquest last month ruled his death a homicide. […]

Tom Hatley, a state police investigator, testified at the coroner’s inquest that the mental health technician who gave Clementz the shower told him that Clementz had missed his regularly scheduled bath “because he was exhibiting a behavior.”

Other workers testified that the forced shower was meant to help keep Clementz from going to sleep earlier than scheduled.

Within minutes, Clementz began choking on the cold water being sprayed from a hand-held shower wand, the trooper testified. His lips turned blue as he became unconscious and went into cardiac arrest. An autopsy determined Clementz died from choking on cold water as well as regurgitated food.

“This gentleman was waterboarded,” said Tony Pauluski, executive director of The ARC of Illinois, an advocacy group that wants the state to close all of its developmental centers by 2020.

Hatley said several co-workers of the technician — who is at least 6 feet tall and about 250 pounds — said he had previously given forced showers to discipline uncooperative residents. The trooper said he wasn’t able to independently corroborate those accounts.


- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      

Just in case you want to watch my speech…

Wednesday, Dec 16, 2015

* The City Club of Chicago will be livestreaming my speech today. The festivities begin at 12:30

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      

The trend is not their friend

Wednesday, Dec 16, 2015

* This is a classic HDem campaign move

House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, wants to raise income taxes to close the state’s multibillion-dollar budget deficit, but he’s not getting support for the idea from local legislative candidates. […]

“I absolutely do not agree with increasing the income tax to 5 percent,” said Andy Skoog, a La Salle Democrat, who was named Thursday to fill out the remainder of longtime legislator Frank Mautino’s term. “People are struggling now. If you put a tax increase on them, you’ll take them over the edge.”

Skoog is the only Democratic candidate in District 76 in the 2016 election. […]

Skoog said he would target corporate tax loopholes and work in a bipartisan way to go through the budget line by line. At the same time, he said, he would seek to protect funding for middle-class families, the elderly, children and veterans.

Skoog, who is now La Salle County’s circuit clerk, said he would use his years of experience as a small-business owner to root out wasteful spending.

I’m sure his years as a small-business owner will translate so well into balancing a government budget.


But that’s one less vote for a tax hike.

Positions are going to harden fast, folks. Rep. Skoog isn’t going to be the only one to do this - and it will likely be at the urging of Madigan’s own staff.

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      

It’s also “long-term pain”

Wednesday, Dec 16, 2015

* Gov. Bruce Rauner recently said this about his fight for his Turnaround Agenda and the resulting impasse

“We’ll take short-term pain for big long-term gain.”

* But as several commenters have been saying recently, the impasse is creating long-term, perhaps irreversible pain. Service providers, for example, are in real danger of going under, never to return. And then there is higher education

As Illinois makes its way through the sixth month of the fiscal year without a budget, state universities continue to look for ways to keep the bills paid. […]

Southern Illinois University President Randy Dunn wasn’t available for comment on Tuesday, but he’s been quoted as saying the lack of state funding is creating a problem of crisis proportions.

“It will take us years to dig out … if the state doesn’t fulfill its commitment,” Dunn told KFVS-TV.

“We’re going to have to figure out a means to pay back about $200 million in operations and about $46 million or so in student aid and grants and contracts we typically have from the state,” Dunn said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      

Telling quotes

Wednesday, Dec 16, 2015

* Salon

In a meeting on July 24, 2012, Chicago Police Officer Allyson Bogdalek broke down and cried as she admitted to prosecutors the obvious: She had lied under oath in the case of a man accused of robbing a Back of the Yards liquor store and shooting the owner in the leg.

The victim of the shooting had picked the suspect, Ranceallen Hankerson, out of a lineup. But Officer Bogdalek lied on the stand during an April 13, 2011, hearing when she denied that the victim had been shown photographs of possible suspects prior to Hankerson’s arrest. In fact, the victim had been shown photos, and he had failed to pick Hankerson out—evidence that would have proven beneficial to the defense.

Prosecutors opened an investigation, and recommend indicting Bogdalek for perjury and other felonies, according to Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office files provided to Salon. In February 2014, however, the process came to a screeching halt: State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez overruled her subordinates and instructed them that no charges would be filed. The case, which until now has escaped much public notice, provides evidence to back charges that Alvarez, currently under fire for her handling of the fatal police shooting of Laquan McDonald, protects officers accused of misconduct. […]

In a statement released to Salon, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office blamed judges and juries, saying that they decided not to prosecute Bogdalek because it is simply too hard to win convictions against police officers.

The officer admitted committing perjury and yet they doubted they could get a conviction?

* Tribune

Fraternal Order of Police President Dean Angelo told aldermen it was “very disturbing” to rank-and-file officers that the mayor said during a high-profile speech to the City Council this month that the city needs to deal with the “code of silence” in which Chicago police protect each other when they engage in misconduct.

“We have kids, we have bills, we have families,” Angelo said. “And to think, in 2015, with all the cameras that are around and all the videotaping that’s going on, that a police officer’s going to risk his livelihood for his family is ridiculous. And to think we have a population of people that say ‘Oh, it’s not a big thing. We do it every day.’ We don’t do that. This is not 1950.”

But when Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno, 1st, asked Angelo to state for the record that a code of silence doesn’t exist in the Police Department, Angelo hedged. “There is not an answer I could give you that would be a blanket statement that someone out there is not doing something they should not be doing,” Angelo said. “I can’t say that.”

* Meanwhile, the Second City Cop blog has an interesting post about some of Mayor Emanuel’s recent promotions. The blog also points to this story

Could Rahm Emanuel be headed to the witness stand?

Attorneys representing two police officers who said they faced retaliation for trying to reveal corruption, say they will call the mayor to testify about a so-called “code of silence” in the Chicago Police Department.

The mayor’s office said it will oppose any such effort, but lawyers for the two officers say he is key to their case, because he has publicly acknowledged that officers sometimes cover for each other.

“We now have an admission from the highest, within the City of Chicago, that the code of silence exists,” says attorney Christopher Smith. […]

“I am looking for a new leader for the Chicago Police Department, to address the problem at the very heart of the policing profession,” Emanuel told the City Council last Wednesday. “The problem is sometimes referred to as the thin blue line. The problem is other times referred to as the code of silence, and its tendency to ignore it. It is a tendency to deny it. It is a tendency in some cases to cover up the bad actions of colleagues.”


- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      

Is the Foxx campaign involved in the Chicago protests?

Wednesday, Dec 16, 2015

* Mihalopoulos

The face of the protests so far has been 16-year-old Lamon Reccord. His staring contests with officers have featured on cable news channels and in the world’s most widely read English-language news site, the Daily Mail.

According to his LinkedIn networking profile, Reccord began helping Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s challenger Kimberly Foxx in September — well before the release of the police video of McDonald being shot.

Reccord also has worked as an intern for a nonprofit group called Chicago Votes. The organization’s former executive director is Foxx’s campaign manager, and one of its longtime board members is the campaign’s spokeswoman.

He should be commended for getting involved in civic life even before he’s old enough to vote, at an age when many peers appear more interested in video games.

But Reccord’s recent trajectory makes me wonder if the protesters include many newly converted critics of the local political powerhouses or largely the same players who couldn’t unseat Emanuel in last spring’s unprecedented runoff election.

Other protesters who’ve been widely quoted by media include hardened veterans of the battles with Emanuel over school closings and a minister who got just 7 percent of the vote to finish fourth in a six-way aldermanic race earlier this year.

Is this an expanding movement that can generate waves of voters for anti-establishment candidates? Or are the protesters mostly people who already were firmly against the mayor and Alvarez, even before the McDonald video exploded into public view?

Good questions.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      

Your “right to work” roundup

Wednesday, Dec 16, 2015

* Daily Herald

Lincolnshire officials approved a controversial right-to-work ordinance that’s been called illegal by Attorney General Lisa Madigan without first getting an opinion from their own attorney, village emails indicate.

When Village Manager Brad Burke specifically asked Mayor Elizabeth Brandt and the trustees in late November if they wanted an opinion on the proposal from attorney Adam Simon, nearly everyone declined. The strongest response came from Brandt, who had brought the plan to the board.

“I had already expressed that I did not want an opinion from Adam … and do not want to over react to a threat of litigation,” Brandt wrote in a Nov. 30 email to Burke.

Brandt also said she thought Madigan’s opinion on the right-to-work issue “was weak.” […]

When reached via email Tuesday, Brandt noted the Liberty Justice Center — a group associated with the Illinois Policy Institute — will provide free legal counsel if the ordinance is challenged.


* They’re gonna need the legal help

The AFL-CIO of Illinois will go to court over a Chicago suburb’s new ordinance that would bar private employers from requiring workers to join unions or pay dues, setting up a challenge to a key aspect of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s business-friendly agenda. […]

“The city of Lincolnshire was notified that the vote was illegal, they moved forward with adopting the ordinance anyway, so we’ll move forward to take legal action,” said Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan.

Rauner’s spokesman, Lance Trover, declined to comment.

* And this person appears unclear on the concept

Long-time [Lincolnshire] board member Tom McDonough said the concept is misunderstood by its opponents.

“The underpinning issue is, it helps union members organize,” McDonough said after the meeting. “There is a theory that it’s a first step toward weakening a union, and that is not the case.”

Yeah. OK.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      

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