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Light blogging ahead

Tuesday, Dec 15, 2015

* I have to be in Chicago for an early dinner tonight ahead of my City Club gig tomorrow. So, I need to leave fairly soon.

Expect regular blogging tomorrow morning, and then light to non-existent blogging tomorrow afternoon.

So, consider this an open thread.

Have fun, but do your best to behave. Thanks!

- Posted by Rich Miller   85 Comments      

Credit Unions Giving Back

Tuesday, Dec 15, 2015

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Credit Unions find numerous ways to support their communities each holiday season. This year, Cornerstone Credit Union and Credit Union 1 are helping to ensure that everyone’s needs are met – from their own members and employees, to animals in need at local shelters.

Cornerstone Credit Union, with locations in Freeport, Sterling, and South Beloit identifies ways to best assist the communities they serve throughout the holidays. With donations they collect, the credit union puts together Thanksgiving food baskets for credit union members in need. Employees nominate members they feel would most benefit from receiving this gift.

Additionally, Cornerstone Credit Union displays a food bin where members and employees can donate to the Salvation Army to assist with their collection efforts during the holiday season. The credit union also coordinates donations to Toys for Tots, and their Helping Hands Committee provides a monetary donation to an employee who has recently experienced an unexpected life hardship.

In addition to serving their members and local families in need, credit unions also assist local animal shelters during the winter months. For example, Credit Union 1 in Springfield is currently holding a donation drive for Friends of Sangamon County Animal Control.

Credit union employees and their members are proud to be making a difference in their communities this holiday season!

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      

Caption contest!

Tuesday, Dec 15, 2015

* Speaker Madigan and Paul Green…

- Posted by Rich Miller   51 Comments      

Today’s number: 21.5 percent

Tuesday, Dec 15, 2015

* A new era of openness by Chicago government? Hardly. Just ask Phil Kadner

Before Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times on a Chicago street leading to federal investigations, the firing of the police superintendent, murder charges being filed against a police officer and calls for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign, a squad car that had been tailing McDonald radioed for a Taser-equipped patrol car to respond to the scene.

I thought all patrolmen in Chicago were equipped with Tasers. In researching this column, I found a Chicago Tribune article from March 2010 that stated Chicago was purchasing 380 new Tasers to add to the 280 in use so there would be one for each of the department’s 281 beats. “The ’stun guns’ will go in every squad car to give front-line beat officers a more effective way to protect themselves and calm a disturbance,” the story said. […]

After several days of e-mail exchanges and multiple phone calls to the mayor’s office and Chicago Police News Affairs, I was finally informed that the percentage of sworn officers that are Taser-certified is 21.5 percent. […]

There are many critics of Taser use by law enforcement and the recently released video showing a suspect in a lock-up being repeatedly zapped with a Taser by Chicago police. The suspect who was dragged out of his cell eventually died following a reaction to an antipsychotic drug, although an autopsy showed he had 50 bruises and scrapes from the top of his head to his lower legs. That video has created another Chicago Police Department scandal.

So I’m not going to suggest that Tasers would solve every problem involving the abuse and misuse of force.

But Tasers do offer an alternative to the deadly use of force, meaning a police officer may not have to discharge his sidearm when confronting a suspect. Chicago police encounter people using illegal drugs, drunks and individuals who are mentally ill on a regular basis. They may not heed calls to stop, put their hands in the air and lay down on the ground. That’s apparently what happened with McDonald, who kept on walking with a folding knife at his side as he was surrounded by police, including some who had drawn their guns.

Great points about Tasers, and very worthy of discussion here. But why does it take so long to get basic information like that?


- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      

The Illinois Constitution turns 45

Tuesday, Dec 15, 2015

* Charlie Wheeler in Illinois Issues

Forty-five years ago this month, Illinois voters ratified a new Constitution to replace the state’s century-old predecessor. The framers of the new document saw it as a step into the 20th century for the state from the horse-and-buggy era of the 1870 Constitution.

As Illinois staggers into an unprecedented sixth month without an enacted budget and faces massive bill backlogs and pension debt, now might be an appropriate time to ask how well the 1970 charter has withstood the test of time. Has its promises of streamlined government operations, clear delineations of responsibility and greater ethical behavior been achieved? In retrospect, what obvious mistakes did its authors make? What problems did they overlook or fail to foresee?

As one who covered the Sixth Constitutional Convention as his first major assignment for the Chicago Sun-Times, your columnist admits to a certain bias in favor of the delegates’ handiwork. But on balance, I’d submit the 1970 charter has served Illinoisans well in most regards.

Consider these 1970 updates to the 1870 Constitution.

Go read the whole thing and tell us what you think.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      

This Is Illinois

Tuesday, Dec 15, 2015

* AP

A Chicago businessman convicted of pocketing nearly $3 million in state grant funds was sentenced to six years in prison Monday after a federal prosecutor declared that Illinois government corruption “seems to be the norm anymore, rather than the exception.”

U.S. District Judge Richard Mills imposed the sentence — short of the eight years the government requested — on Leon Dingle Jr. for his role in a six-year fraud involving Illinois Department of Public Health funds. He also was ordered to pay $2.9 million in restitution.

After a sentencing hearing lasting more than two hours, Mills ordered Dingle’s wife, Karin, to spend three years in prison for her role in the scheme. Leon Dingle, 78, was convicted last December of 17 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud and money laundering. Karin Dingle, 76, was convicted on six counts. […]

Mills took into consideration 55 letters of support for Leon Dingle, including from U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, a Chicago Democrat and uncle of a co-defendant in the case, and Alphonso Jackson, secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President George W. Bush. The judge noted that Dingle became wealthy by investing in a cable television company and spent years in health care and doing charitable work.

“Dr. Dingle has done a lot of good in his life,” Mills said. “But this is a very serious offense involving a staggering amount of money that went on for several years. It’s not an aberration or something that occurred once or twice.”


- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      

Leaders to meet again

Tuesday, Dec 15, 2015

* Tribune

The governor and four legislative leaders will meet again Thursday at the Thompson Center in Chicago as they continue talks during the budget impasse. Two weeks ago, they met at the Capitol in Springfield, making public speeches beforehand. Last week, they met in Chicago behind closed doors.

Your predictions?

- Posted by Rich Miller   45 Comments      

Norwood: State’s healthcare infrastructure is “fragile”

Tuesday, Dec 15, 2015

* From the Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois…

Top Rauner Administration health officials said on Monday that the fiscal year 2017 state budget is taking shape and that they are seeking “partnerships” with community human services providers to help reshape Illinois’ health care landscape.

At the Community Behavioral Healthcare Association annual conference in Schaumburg on Monday Department of Human Services Secretary James Dimas, as part of a panel discussion, told a packed-room of non-profit behavioral healthcare providers that his department’s FY 2017 budget proposal gets delivered to the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget on Tuesday.

In December, the state entered its six-month without a FY 2016 budget.

During his speech to the assembled local behavioral healthcare non-profit leaders, Dimas criticized the “across-the-board” budget cuts approach on human services in the FY 2016 fiscal plan and suggested that FY 2017 plan will include “hard choices” to establish priorities.

In his remarks to conference attendees Dimas also recognized that DHS’ elimination of grants totaling $27 million for psychiatric care in the current budget has caused hardship for both behavioral healthcare providers and communities but pledged a new funding model to deliver care, but declined to disclose any details.

“Psychiatric care is a core service to help individuals working to recover from mental illness, and it needs to be funded,” said CBHA CEO Marvin Lindsey, following the panel presentation. “From Cairo to Rockford, 86% of Illinois community behavioral health providers have cut psychiatric care for low-income individuals who need treatment.”

Lindsey, who assumed his post in July, noted that the frozen $27 million is part of $288 million in broader behavioral healthcare funding for both community mental health and substance abuse treatment funding that has been blocked.

“Financial starvation is no longer a viable option if the state intends to maintain its commitment to those vulnerable Illinois citizens who need mental health care and drug treatment,” Lindsey said. “The budget stalemate is engulfing more community behavioral health care agencies and is pushing them towards a financial sinkhole.”

Following on Dimas’ presentation, DHS’ new mental health division director Diana Knaebe told non-profit leaders that the Rauner Administration’s plan to reshape the delivery of human services required “partnerships” between the state and community mental health providers, citing the new state law, House Bill 1, to fight the state’s heroin epidemic, as one area of “partnership.”

Health and Family Services director Felicia Norwood hit a high-note by hailing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act for providing a stable stream of behavioral health care funding and extending health care to an additional 620,000 Illinois residents through increased Medicaid enrollment. Norwood acknowledged, however, that the state’s healthcare infrastructure is “fragile.”

“The ongoing budge dispute has financially starved local behavioral healthcare providers,” Lindsey said. “A prolonged delay will only aggravate the state’s fraying health care system and infrastructure.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      

A new twist

Tuesday, Dec 15, 2015

* When it comes to gaming the electoral system, nobody does it “better” than judges

A hearing officer for the Illinois State Board of Elections on Monday laid out the procedure for how he will review challenges to the candidacies of three St. Clair County judges.

The three circuit judges — John Baricevic, Robert Haida and Robert LeChien — have filed paperwork to retire in December 2016, but also are seeking to run as candidates in the November 2016 regular election. Normally, circuit judges are up for a retention vote every six years, where they’re required to get “yes” votes from at least 60 percent of voters. By running as candidates in a regular election, the three would need to receive only a simple majority of votes over any challenger. […]

After Monday’s conference, Cook said the tactic being employed by the three judges should be prohibited, because it will lead to other judges doing the same.

“The whole retention process will be avoided,” Cook said.


- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      

Question of the day - Golden Horseshoe Awards

Tuesday, Dec 15, 2015

* There was a clear crowd favorite for the 2015 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best State Agency Director…

For all of the reasons already posted and then some, I nominate Nadine O’Leary for the director award. She has kept the trains running and most of the staff from abandoning ship en masse despite the crazy that was the leadership at ALPLM and HPA. Thanks to her efforts the Library has even been able to expand its reach and offer new programs. Not bad, to say the least, when your bosses want you gone and never heard from again.

* This next one is probably gonna create a bit of a stir, particularly since he runs the shop, but the 2015 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Legislative Liaison goes to Richard Goldberg for nominations like this one…

People sometimes forget the old adage in our field that “business is business” - nobody epitomizes this more than Richard Goldberg which is why I nominate him for best liaison. He is smart, savvy, irreverent, indefatigable, versatile and immensely skilled. Just ask Democrats (or Republicans for that matter) who have encountered him in a committee meeting or in small group discussion or on the floor - like him or not he has the confidence of the staff and the Gov and serves a useful function - something his detractors often misunderstood from the beginning. Madigan has Lou Lang - the Governor has Richard Goldberg.

Business is business folks - or to quote the Godfather “it’s not personal Sonny it’s strictly business” or something like that.. Goldberg is a terrific person but he’s serious and effective in his work - that is why I nominate him for this award.

Congrats to our winners!

* Moving right along…

* Best Contract Lobbyist

* Best In-House Lobbyist

As always, explain your nominations or they won’t count. Thanks!

- Posted by Rich Miller   49 Comments      

Tribune warns Democrats will get all the blame

Tuesday, Dec 15, 2015

* The Chicago Tribune editorializes on the Chicago Public Schools’ serious financial problems

Meanwhile, back in Springfield: Democrats who largely set this disaster in motion with laws and policies that ruined CPS finances now hold the power to rescue the district. The cost? Reach a compromise with the state’s Republican governor. He seeks to reform governing and labor policies that have dunned taxpayers and strangled job growth in Illinois.

Gov. Bruce Rauner is ready to deal. He’s ready to help the schools. But there’s got to be some give and take, not take it or leave it, from Democratic leaders.

The strategy of House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton is to … hope that Rauner eventually caves to public pressure for a budget. But if those teachers get fired, or if the school system capsizes under debt, it won’t be a freshman governor who gets the blame. It will be Democrats, starting with those longtime leaders in Springfield and Mayor Rahm Emanuel in City Hall.

Teachers sent a loud and clear message Monday. Negotiations now should kick into higher gear. Claypool has cut central office jobs, and can — should — cut more. CPS should push to close struggling or half-empty schools. Teachers should pick up their share of pension contributions — the 7 percent that CPS can no longer afford. We understand that Springfield may contribute more to the system, but only in return for the kinds of reforms Rauner advocates.

Um, OK, when the stuff hits the fan is the governor really gonna say “I’d love to stop the city school shutdown, but I want remap reform first. And cuts to workers’ comp coverage. And a gutting of local collective bargaining rights.”

Yeah, that’ll work. You’re content with allowing the largest school system in the state to “capsize” over remap reform? Go with that.

Not saying that the governor will get all the blame here. There will definitely be an infinite amount of blame to go around. I’m just saying Rauner can’t avoid blame, except for on one floor of a certain ivory tower on Michigan Ave.

Also, notice how once again the Tribune doesn’t mention any specifics about the governor’s proposed reforms? That would destroy the narrative, of course.

* So, as a reminder, this is one of the governor’s demands which has actually been put into bill form

Prohibited subjects of bargaining. 

(a) A public employer and a labor organization may not bargain over, and no collective bargaining agreement entered into, renewed, or extended on or after the effective date of 
this amendatory Act of the 99th General Assembly may include, 
provisions related to the following prohibited subjects of collective bargaining: 

(1) Employee pensions, including the impact or 
implementation of changes to employee pensions, including 
 the Employee Consideration Pension Transition Program as 
set forth in Section 30 of the Personnel Code. 

(2) Wages, including any form of compensation including salaries, overtime compensation, vacations, 
holidays, and any fringe benefits, including the impact or 
implementation of changes to the same; except nothing in 
this Section 7.6 will prohibit the employer from electing 
to bargain collectively over employer-provided health insurance. 

(3) Hours of work, including work schedules, shift 
schedules, overtime hours, compensatory time, and lunch periods, including the impact or implementation of changes 
to the same. 

(4) Matters of employee tenure, including the impact of 
employee tenure or time in service on the employer’s 
exercise of authority including, but not limited to, any 
consideration the employer must give to the tenure of 
employees adversely affected by the employer’s exercise of management’s right to conduct a layoff.

- Posted by Rich Miller   56 Comments      

*** UPDATED x2 - Munger responds *** Lincolnshire passes “right to work” ordinance

Tuesday, Dec 15, 2015

* None of the proponents on the village board spoke in favor, yet they passed it anyway. Telling

Lincolnshire has become the first town in the Chicago area to establish itself as a right-to-work zone, a move critics have assailed as anti-union. […]

To create the zone, the village board approved an ordinance preventing local employers from requiring workers to pay union dues with payroll deductions. […]

Trustee Mara Grujanac cast the lone dissenting vote after saying the policy didn’t belong in Lincolnshire. None of the five trustees who voted for the plan commented. […]

“This isn’t about unions,” said [Ted Dabrowski, vice president and spokesman for the Illinois Policy Institute], whose group created a model ordinance Lincolnshire officials used to draft their own. “It’s about individual freedoms. It’s also about the right to not join a union.”

The ordinance applies only to private employers.

* More

Lincolnshire is not by any means a union town. With the exception of some of those working in the village’s corporate center and hotels, most of its 25,000 workers don’t belong to a union.

“It gives workers the choice to decide whether a union serves their interests. If it does they’re free to support it. But if it doesn’t they don’t have to have money coming out of their paycheck,” said Jacob Huebert, Illinois Policy Insitute.

The Illinois Policy Institute says these so-called right-to-work laws promote job growth. Their model is the one Lincolnshire used to draft their ordinance. Twenty five states including Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan already have right-to-work laws on their books. […]

(T)here is a question of legality surrounding and it will likely be challenged in federal court. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is among those who say that local municipalities are not able to legally approve right-to-work laws.

*** UPDATE *** From Oswego Willy in comments…

Of all the towns, cities, counties to pass this, also so cowardly with not a soul speaking for it…

… Susana Mendoza notes… Leslie Munger’s hometown passes RTW.

Gee, if I’m going to frame my opponent as a Bruce Rauner “Raunerite” and gin up Unions, including trade unions, wouldn’t a great way to do that is have your opponent’s hometown as the “test case” for RTW “zones”.

The next move by Mendoza?

That’s easy;

“Ask Lesile Munger about Right to Work passed in her hometown. Ask her if she approves?”

Geez Louise, the Labor Movement now has a question that has to be answered. Can’t skirt your hometown.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Munger campaign…

Comptroller Munger is focused on addressing the unprecedented challenges created by the ongoing budget impasse. She has not had the time to wade into Village Board matters in her hometown.

Still, it is fascinating that Clerk Mendoza would take up this argument. As a City of Chicago elected official, she might want to spend more time addressing the many challenges facing her hometown and constituents. To get the conversation started, we offer the questions below:

    Does Chicago City Clerk Mendoza support Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s budget, which included more than $755 million in new fees and taxes on Chicago residents?

    Does Chicago City Clerk Mendoza agree with the City Council and Mayor Emanuel passing the largest property tax increase in the city’s history?

    Does Chicago City Clerk Mendoza side with the Chicago Teachers Union in its vote to strike?

    Does Chicago City Clerk Mendoza support the Chicago Teachers Union in its effort to impose new taxes on banks and financial institutions to close a half-billion budget gap at Chicago Public Schools?

    Should Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown step down given the ongoing FBI investigation into her dealings?

    As Chicago City Clerk, Susana Mendoza is responsible for keeping City Council minutes and ensuring that city government is transparent in its dealings. Why didn’t she tell the public after the Council voted on a $5 million settlement with Laquan McDonald’s family?

    Does Chicago City Clerk Mendoza believe Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez should resign?

    Does Chicago City Clerk Mendoza support recently-introduced legislation that would allow Chicago to recall the Mayor?

- Posted by Rich Miller   97 Comments      

A friendly reminder if you’re coming to my annual City Club thing

Tuesday, Dec 15, 2015

* From the City Club

Christmas with Rich Miller Registrants,

Thank you for signing up to attend Christmas with Rich Miller this Wednesday, December 16. Like last year, Lutheran Social Services of Illinois will be on hand before and after the luncheon to collect wrapped toys for children. The toys should target ages 3-5. Individuals can also donate gift cards from places where children’s toys are sold.

Lutheran Social Services of Illinois early childhood programs have been in existence for more than 40 years, providing high quality, diverse and culturally sensitive services for children and families in some of Chicago’s most economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. LSSI’s mission is to create a stimulating learning environment that promotes social competency and school readiness for preschool age children who are academically and economically at risk.

Please consider donating to them on Wednesday.

We look forward to seeing you soon.


Tweed Thornton
Executive Director
City Club of Chicago

If you weren’t able to score tickets (they sold out pretty fast) or can’t (or won’t) otherwise attend, then please consider donating to LSSI. They do such great work. Click here to give. Thanks!

- Posted by Rich Miller   3 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Message to subscribers

Tuesday, Dec 15, 2015

* I’m having some trouble with my e-mail delivery service today (Constant Contact). Luckily, the password is the same as last week. So, click here and read today’s edition online. Sorry about that. I’m working on it.

*** UPDATE *** It’s finally working. You should receive your e-mail soon. Sorry about that!

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)

Tuesday, Dec 15, 2015

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

* Rauner denied all knowledge of lawsuit, but suit reveals he held two meetings with plaintiff in 2015
* Chris Kennedy admits error, but still blames Berrios
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Illinois Policy Institute moves its news network from one Tillman group to another
* Question of the day
* Rauner calls marijuana a "very dangerous drug" as he plans court appeal
* *** UPDATED x3 - Pritzker, Biss, Kennedy respond *** Rauner campaign echoes Blagojevich demand to release the FBI tapes
* Jimenez wants Sangamon County to get priority for most new state jobs
* Ives' state budget solution: Slash CPS funding and repeal Obamacare expansion
* *** UPDATED x1 - Ives responds *** Rauner promises to patch $2.3 billion hole, balance next year's budget, start rolling back the tax hike and provide "record funding" for K-12
* Dick Uihlein gives Proft group another $3 million
* Legionella bacteria might have been found at Capitol Complex
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Unclear on the concept
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