* Greg Hinz has a post about an upcoming fundraiser for US Sen. Mark Kirk…
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, will be in town for a luncheon at the Chicago Club for which tickets are going for $1,000 to $5,400 a head. Team Kirk is hoping to pull in around $200,000 at the event, almost enough to pay for a week of statewide TV ads.
The name sponsors include four prominent GOP fundraisers: Craig Duchossois, Barry MacLean, Miles White and Ron Gidwitz.
* A really nice man who helped me with some house-related stuff last week asked if I thought we’d have a state budget in January. He was laid off at IDNR and was told at the time that he could have his job back when a budget was passed. So, he was doing odd jobs in the interim to try and make some ends meet.
I didn’t want to lie, so I told him it was very possible that we’d never see a FY16 budget deal. He was pretty bummed out and I don’t blame him.
* Anyway, university chiefs are starting to fear the same result, or, more accurately, the lack thereof…
Even as members of Southern Illinois University’s Board of Trustees voted Thursday to approve a number of spending measures to keep the university moving forward, President Randy Dunn cautioned state funding is more tenuous than ever.
In fact, he said, chatter is growing louder in Springfield that public colleges and universities may never receive fiscal year 2016 funding. Lawmakers would choose instead to skip the appropriation.
“Obviously, that would be disastrous,” Dunn said, noting that SIU will “limp through” to the end of the fiscal year either way.
Beyond that, though, Dunn had more questions than answers about the impact of a full year without state funding.
“If we don’t see any appropriation for this year, where does the money then come from to … get all of these things paid back and get vendors caught up?” he wondered. “So that’s our big worry there.”
Lake County Coroner Tom Rudd is dropping his re-election bid after FOX 32 raised questions about the validity of his nominating petitions. […]
“If I made a mistake, I will state that,” Rudd said. “I’m a physician, a scientist. I don’t know the vagaries of election law. It was an honest mistake.”
Rudd was facing an election board hearing on Tuesday after two citizens challenged the validity of his petitions. Rudd tells FOX 32 he paid individuals from North Chicago to gather signatures on his petitions, then signed a sworn affidavit at the bottom of the sheets saying that he had gathered the signatures himself. Rudd said he did not know that is a violation of election law.
FOX 32 also learned that one of the signatures on Rudd’s petitions is from a man who died in 2005.
Sounds like he was a pretty decent coroner, but shoulda hired some electoral help.
When Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich called together religious leaders last week to pray for justice in Chicago, one of his priests made a conscious choice not to attend. Doing so, he believed, would betray the flock he serves and protects.
Chicago Police Chaplain Dan Brandt says the furor that has erupted over the video of the shooting of Laquan McDonald and the clergy-led protests calling for the resignation of Mayor Rahm Emanuel are “anything but Judeo-Christian in nature.” The skeptical eye that Chicago police now face is unwarranted and unjust, he says. […]
“You’re trained to shoot until the threat is gone,” Brandt, an archdiocesan priest, said in an interview. “I propose that Van Dyke was a hero. How many lives were saved by him stopping that armed offender from getting any farther, from doing more damage than he already had done?”
While Brandt concedes that he’s expressing “a pretty unpopular opinion,” he and other police chaplains insist that Chicagoans shouldn’t lose sight of what officers face every day. The clergy who counsel, comfort and console Chicago’s law enforcement want the public to pause a moment and consider those who keep their city safe.
Most of us have thought lately about how the police do their best to keep us safe. But absurd comments like this badly hurt law enforcement’s reputation. This insane, counter-productive solidarity with outlaw cops has to end.
In early November, 2014, Craig Futterman, a law professor at the University of Chicago, got a call from someone who worked in law enforcement in that city. The caller told Futterman about a squad-car dashboard-camera video from a few weeks earlier, which showed a police officer shooting to death a seventeen-year-old boy named Laquan McDonald. According to the source, the video was at striking odds with the version of the incident that the Chicago Police Department had presented. In that account, the officer, Jason Van Dyke, acted in self-defense: McDonald was out of control and menacing him with a knife, so he shot him once, in the chest. But the source, describing the video frame by frame, evoked what sounded to Futterman like “an execution.” […]
This is not the first time that Futterman has received an inside tip about police abuse. He believes that the whistle-blowers represent “the majority of Chicago cops,” who are doing their jobs “just as you would want them to.” Those officers “hate this stuff” as much as anyone, because “it creates hostility to the police, and steals the honor of those who are doing things right.” Yet even the best-intentioned officers have to cope with a code of silence—the mirror image of the criminals’ code against snitching.
In the McDonald case, the first officers on the scene, responding to a call about a young man acting erratically and breaking into trucks, were doing things right. McDonald apparently did have a knife, and, according to the autopsy, he had PCP in his system. Futterman said that those officers were careful. They “needed to arrest him, take him to the hospital,” and “they called for backup, for someone with a taser.” Then Van Dyke arrived and instantly fired sixteen shots. In reports to internal investigators, the other officers either corroborated his story or said that they hadn’t seen what happened. One said that she had been looking down and missed the whole thing.
The code of silence has protected some particularly reprehensible behavior in the C.P.D., much of it directed at the city’s black population. Perhaps the most egregious was that of Jon Burge, a commander who, in the nineteen-seventies and eighties, headed a group of officers that he called the Midnight Crew. To extract confessions, the crew tortured dozens of men, most of them African-American, using electric shock, suffocation, and Russian roulette. Last May, the city agreed to a reparations agreement that included $5.5 million for the victims and an obligation to teach the episode in the public-school curriculum. According to the Better Government Association, between 2010 and 2014 there were seventy fatal shootings by the Chicago police, a higher number than in any other large city. (Phoenix, Philadelphia, and Dallas had a higher number per capita.) Between 2004 and 2014, the city spent $521 million defending the department and settling lawsuits claiming excessive force.
The Illinois Republican Party launched a new web ad entitled “#TaxHikeMike” to coincide with a social media campaign by the same name. The new video highlights Speaker Mike Madigan’s statement to the City Club of Chicago on Wednesday, indicating that a return to a 5 percent individual income tax rate (a 33% increase from the current rate) is a “good place to begin.”
“In a rare moment of honesty, Speaker Mike Madigan said publicly what he has been hiding for months: He is intent on raising taxes and will fight to block reforms to state government,” said Nick Klitzing, Executive Director of the Illinois Republican Party. “Madigan believes ‘a good place to begin’ is increasing taxes by 33%, but taxpayers want to begin by reforming the broken state government that Madigan has controlled for 30+ years. Speaker Madigan doesn’t want to engage in good faith negotiations that could lead to compromise; he wants a massive tax increase without structural reforms. He is #TaxHikeMike.”
City Club of Chicago, 12/9/15
Moderator: How high do you think taxes need to go?… A one or two word answer could do.
Madigan: Alright, let me avoid creating a headline for tomorrow’s newspaper.
… and say a good place to begin … a good place to begin … would be the level we were at before the income tax expired.
33% Tax Increase
Madigan: Starting there, you could go in whatever direction you want to go.
Madigan: Starting there, you could go in whatever direction you want to go.
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin last week said he, the other legislative leaders and the governor had a “healthy” discussion about pensions.
“No one wants to talk about it but we have to talk about it,” he said. “The unfunded liabilities in our system continue to grow. We can’t lose sight of it. And I think that we can get there at some point.” […]
When he left that meeting the House’s top Democrat - Speaker Michael Madigan - said Gov. Bruce Rauner has tied his pension ideas to collective bargaining — the very issue at the heart of Illinois’ budget stalemate.
“It gets terribly complicated. Bottom line for understanding is that when the governor talks about changes in the pension laws, he always talks about changes to collective bargaining. That’s important to understand,” Madigan said.
So, is this yet another poison pill?
I asked the governor’s office for comment and was referred back to a couple of posts on my own website.
“You can’t do consideration without changes in collective bargaining,” I was told.
[Senate President John Cullerton’s] idea is to present them with a stark choice as their contracts come due for renewal: Workers could agree to a scaling back of the COLA they’ve been promised in retirement or forgo any pay raises while they’re still working.
“The state constitution,” said Cullerton, “does not guarantee pay raises.”
Cullerton predicts most workers nearing retirement will opt to keep their 3 percent COLA. But enough younger and middle-age workers will choose continued pay raises that will achieve more substantial long-term savings. Current retiree benefits wouldn’t be touched, and since 2011, new “Tier 2″ hires already have had their promised benefits reduced.
The latest pension-cutting concept outlined by Senate President John Cullerton looks like extortion—both unconstitutional and blatantly unfair
* So, is Madigan the lone hold-out on pension reform?
* The Cullerton folks say their guy’s proposal is not the same as the governor’s proposal.
There’s an understandable reluctance to talk about details of negotiations. However, Cullerton’s spokesperson told me the big difference between Cullerton’s proposal and Rauner’s is that while Cullerton does support some changes to collective bargaining, “we are not fundamentally undermining the right to collective bargaining.”
Few legislators would make the decision that Esther Golar made. She knew her life was on the line and she made the untenable commute via car to Springfield because she cared so deeply for the constituents of this state. I can think of no greater person to honor with a lifetime achievement award than someone who was willing to give their life to this job.
* The 2015 John Millner Lifetime Service Award for the Illinois Senate…
I have known of Sen. Dave Luechtefeld since the mid 60’s when he was coaching at a rival high school and got to know him much better when I moved back to the district he was appointed to represent. I recall the first time we had a chance to talk. It was probably very obvious to him that I did not accept some of his strongly held conservative principles yet before I left he made certain that I had his personal cell number and told me to use it any time. I have tried never to abuse that privilege, yet he always returns my calls, once even after 9 pm on a Sunday.
He was always accessible and willing to listen. He, on occasion vented some of his frustrations to me as I was doing with him. We could honestly disagree but we always shook hands and left as friends. He understood my concerns and my “hot button” issues, yet he was never disrespectful.
Sen Dave represented his constituents well. His demeanor, commitments and principles (even when we might disagree) will be missed in the next GA
* Today’s categories…
* Best State Agency Director
* Best Legislative Liaison
Don’t forget to explain your nominations please. Thanks!
She contributed $250,000 to her campaign on Friday, according to filings with the Illinois State Board of Elections. That made her what is known as a “self-funding candidate” under the law — and eliminated the cap on donations to any candidates in that race.
Before Friday, her family — specifically, her husband and mother — had donated a total of $99,000 to the campaign. Once donations by a candidate or their family to a campaign reach $100,000, that candidate becomes “self-funding” under the law, which means donation limits are no longer in effect. Those limits would have been $5,400 for individuals, $10,800 for corporations or unions and $53,900 for political action committees.
More’s campaign on Friday called the contribution “no big deal.”
“She’s putting her own skin in the campaign because she clearly wants to show the importance of this race, how important this race is to her and to the voters and residents of this county,” her spokesman John E. Davis said.
It goes without saying, but anybody who says a $250,000 contribution is “no big deal” has a completely different sort of life than just about everyone else.
State records show Donna More gave $2,500 to the Rauner campaign in September 2014, a couple of months before the governor unseated Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn. Those records also indicate More has given a total of $15,800 to candidates since 2001, with the rest of the money going to Democrats.
Federal Election Commission records show that since 1997, More also has donated $6,000 to John Ensign, a former Republican senator from Nevada; $500 to former Illinois GOP U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald; and $250 to former Republican U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia. […]
Chicago voting records, meanwhile, show that More voted in the in March 2014 Republican primary, when Rauner was on the ballot. Other than that year, she has voted consistently in Democratic primaries, records indicate.
Gee, I wonder who was on the Republican primary ballot last year?
A candidate in the hotly contested Democratic primary race for Cook County state’s attorney has added a former Chicago gang leader and ex-felon to her staff. But Chicago attorney Donna More calls Wallace “Gator” Bradley a “role model” deserving of second chances.
Bradley, a former member of the Gangster Disciples, was convicted of burglary and armed robbery in the 1970s. He served a year in prison and three years on work release. In 1990, he was pardoned by Gov. Jim Thompson for what Bradley describes as “the work I put back into the community.”
These days, Bradley’s is an “urban translator” and political consultant for More’s campaign. His main task, he tells me, is educating voters, particularly in black neighborhoods, to understand “that justice cannot be defined by race, religion or party.”
Recent campaign records show More’s campaign paid him $12,875 in less than two months.
He’s also worked for congressmen Danny Davis, Bobby Rush and Jesse Jackson Jr., among others. Democratic operatives say More has taken a controversial step by paying him directly out of her payroll.
* Judge acquits Chicago police commander of abuse charge despite DNA evidence: The ruling marked another setback for State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, who despite bringing first-degree-murder charges recently against Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke for shooting Laquan McDonald 16 times has been barraged with calls for her to resign over delaying the release of the dash-cam video of the fatal shooting until 13 months later. Prosecutors had no immediate comment on Cannon’s ruling, but an Alvarez’s spokeswoman said the office would be releasing a statement shortly.
Even a program that has put on the road thousands of new state police vehicles financed by a dedicated drivers’ fee has been caught up in the Illinois state budget debacle.
A vehicle registration surcharge that has raised $58 million and transformed the Illinois State Police fleet from a junkyard of overtaxed hulks to a stable of safe and more efficient cruisers is stalled because of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s moratorium on vehicle purchases.
An Associated Press analysis of records obtained under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act shows that the program has been successful in regularly removing from the highway pursuit vehicles that have surpassed their useful, cost-efficient and safe lifespans. A 2003 report maintained by the AP includes a squad car with 900,000 miles.
The Rauner administration is reluctant to talk about it. The state police finally responded to AP inquiries last week, saying the Republican governor’s executive order to reduce spending has stalled purchases; those being outfitted now were purchased under former Gov. Pat Quinn.
To be clear here, a dedicated revenue stream from a state fee pays for those new cars. The money does not come from GRF and cannot be used for anything else unless a new law is passed.
* From a CMS memo to state employees last Friday that was forwarded to me a kabillion times…
In recent weeks, there has been considerable misinformation directed to state employees about the future of our state employee group health insurance. I can assure you that employee premiums will remain at their current levels from now until June 30, 2016 (Fiscal Year 2016). Put simply, your existing plan, with the same carrier and the same costs, will remain in place throughout Fiscal Year 2016.
“It’s extremely misleading and disingenuous,” AFSCME deputy director Mike Newman said. “They had proposed until our last bargaining session to double employees costs in (the current) fiscal year. That proposal is now off the table because the state insisted on such outrageous demands for so long that it is now too late to be able to implement changes in this fiscal year.”
And according to Newman, the state is now demanding a doubling of employee costs starting July 1, 2016.
* Back to the memo…
You must be aware, however, that many of our current plans are considered Platinum Plus plans and are so expensive that they will likely be subject to federal penalties on luxury plans in future years. Premiums for these expensive Platinum Plus, Cadillac plans are likely to double after July 1, 2016. But here again, recent misinformation provided to some employees omitted a key fact. Starting July 1, 2016, under the completed contracts and in our current proposals, we will offer less expensive plans with the same carriers and the same services for substantially the same premium costs that we offer today. Said otherwise, you would have the option to pay the same premium you pay today even after July 1, 2016.
“They’re not less expensive plans,” Newman said. “What they’re saying is that if somebody wants to pay less in premiums, they can sign up for a plan that will have higher copays and deductibles and higher maximum out-of-pocket costs. Either way, the state’s proposal is for employee costs to double.”
Finally, despite the national trends that show massive increases in healthcare spending and costs in the next few years, we are implementing several cost-saving measures, including identifying and removing those individuals who are defrauding the system, that will allow us to contain costs going forward. Overall, we’re shifting towards a consumer-focused model and away from a “one-size-fits-all” approach, a strategy that mirrors what is happening in other states and is long overdue here in Illinois. Due to these cost-saving measures, the State has proposed a cap on any increases to employee premiums for 2018 and 2019. We would cap all annual increases in employee premiums for 2018 and 2019 at 10%, even if the State’s actual costs increase by an amount greater than 10%.
He cited a Chicago Sun-Times Watchdogs investigation published in November that found that although more than 50,000 people with mental illnesses have been barred from owning guns in Illinois in recent years, the law has done little to take guns out of their hands. […]
People with revoked FOID cards are required to report the disposition of their guns to the police. But law enforcement agencies typically don’t check whether they’re doing so, the Sun-Times found.
Under Harris’ bill, when anyone with a revoked gun cards fails to comply with the law, the local police would be required to go to court and seek a warrant to search the person’s home for the FOID card and any firearms.
* That same mandate would apply to people who are on the FBI’s Terrorist Watchlist…
Though more than 1 million people are on the terrorist watch list, Harris said a small fraction are U.S. citizens, and those on the list have the right to appeal. […]
State Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, a gun-rights advocate who helped craft the current law, said he needs to study Harris’s proposal. But he argued that any new legislation should be worded so it doesn’t intrude on the rights of people complying with state gun regulations.
“I think Representative Harris may have great intentions on this, but I don’t want any law-abiding gun owners to get caught in trap,” Phelps said.
Keep in mind that this is an unfunded state mandate. Some mayors and sheriffs are gonna be upset. But it’s hard to vote against a bill like this.
The proposal is here. Several House Democrats have signed up as co-sponsors.
Nearly every one of the thousands of Chicago teachers who cast ballots last week to determine whether they could go on strike voted to do so.
The Chicago Teachers Union announced Monday that 96.5 percent of those casting ballots voted to back the strike. With nearly 92 percent of members voting, that means about 88 percent of all members support a strike, which could happen no sooner than late March, according to CTU vice president Jesse Sharkey.
“Rahm Emanuel really does not need a teachers strike,” Sharkey said. “And what we’re telling him is if he doesn’t listen to us, that’s what he’ll get.”
*** UPDATE *** Interesting…
So state's ed labor relations board set hearing on CTU's demand for fact finding for Jan. 21. Means strike can't happen til May at earliest.
And Dan Proft called on legislative Republicans today to sign on to the bill as well. Rep. Jeanne Ives is now a co-sponsor.
[ *** End Of Update *** ]
The “Lisa Madigan for mayor” speculation had already begun in earnest before she did this interview. I have no knowledge about whether she’ll run, but I do know that lots of people have been asking me about it.
Emanuel has a long and difficult road ahead as he tries to rebuild public trust in the Chicago Police Department and himself, Madigan says.
She says Emanuel’s apology this week and heartfelt words are not enough.
“People are not going to believe that until they actually see real reform and real change taking place. Unfortunately, the type of change that’s needed isn’t going to come quickly or easily,” she says.
As for calls for the mayor to step down, she doesn’t believe that will happen.
Madigan agrees the video of the Laquan McDonald police shooting should not have been released when it would hamper an investigation, but that time should have been far less than 400 days.
“That would have given ample time for an investigation to take place and certainly ample time, which I think some of the concern is, for the officers to be interviewed and I am sure that happened well before the 400 day mark,” she said.
There goes Anita, right under the bus.
* And this shows a better understanding of the situation than whatever I’ve seen expressed by any major white Chicago-area politician in recent days…
Madigan says things like this have led some—especially in communities of color—to see the police as an occupying force and not protectors:
“That belief, that feeling, undermines the majority of men and women in law enforcement who are doing a good job and have integrity and are courageous and putting their lives on the line every single day, but I think the situation we have now is simply untenable,” Madigan said.
[Friday] 21st Ward Alderman Howard Brookins Jr. released a robocall to warn of possible misconduct from Congressman Bobby Rush’s campaign. The call was sent to approximately 20,000 households in the 1st Congressional District at 4:00 PM central time. Rush’s petition signatures were challenged and his campaign needs to verify upwards of 570 signatures to make it on the ballot.
The transcript of the recording is as follows:
“This is Alderman Howard Brookins, Democrat for Congress with an important warning. You may be asked to sign a document for Congressman Bobby Rush who has failed to file enough valid signatures to make the ballot. Do not sign anything unless a notary is present and if you did not sign for him, do not sign anything at all.”
The Board of Elections recently changed its procedure when accepting affidavits from registered voters contesting that their signature is genuine. Rules of Procedure, Rule 9 states in the event the evidence consists of affidavits attesting to the genuineness of signatures, those affidavits must be notarized at the time they are signed. This is different than the procedure a few years ago, when the affidavits could contain a non-notarized verification.
He’s also saying many of the right things to attract Raunerite support, including his comments at about the 9:30 mark about lowering Downstate project costs.
* The biggest question is whether he’ll have the money to compete. That seems likely to me, at least at this point. A candidate like him could attract some serious dough from wealthy Republican-leaning Chicago-area rich folks.
And over half of Gonzales’ first batch of reported contributions came from Steven and Diane Miller. Steven’s only other contribution was to Mayor Emanuel a few years back.
*** UPDATE *** Oops. Miller has given lots more than I initially turned up. With thanks to a commenter, click here to see them, including $110K to the Independent Maps group (which is full of Rauner backers) and $10K to Rauner, among others.
One of the concepts used so effectively by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s campaign last year was what are called “OODA Loops.” I’m going to oversimplify because of space, but the idea, developed by a military strategist and adopted by business leaders, is to essentially introduce rapid changes to a battle with the intent of disorienting an opponent and forcing over- and under-reactions. And then do it again and again to exhaust and eventually defeat the other side.
OODA Loops transcend traditional “rapid response.” They’re quick, forceful reactions specifically designed to force repeated mistakes by the other side. The Rauner campaign used those loops to literally run circles around Gov. Quinn last year.
They’ve also used the loops since the campaign ended. For instance, when Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion) attempted to hold legislative hearings on how the administration was hiding gubernatorial payrollers, they didn’t bow down as others had in the past. Instead, they attacked Bradley with snark-filled invective and caught him off guard, forcing multiple and escalating angry responses that made him look a bit pompous and, according to the Rauner folks, out of touch.
And they did it again last week.
For months now, Gov. Rauner and his top people have been saying that Democratic leaders ought to offer up a specific tax increase plan. The Republicans have laid out what they want from the long governmental impasse (Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda, which includes major attacks on organized labor). So, the Rauner folks say, it’s time for the Democrats to do the same. What do they want?
Staying silent or being vague about specific numbers has allowed the Democrats to stake out some high ground and avoid attacks on their rank and file members. Obviously, more revenue is needed. But it becomes far more real to the public when there’s a number attached. Hence, the effort to force the Democrats to be specific.
Last week, House Speaker Michael Madigan took a question at a City Club of Chicago luncheon from Chris Robling, a staunch Rauner supporter. Robling’s written question was about how high Madigan thought taxes needed to go. Madigan took the bait.
Instead of his customary vagaries, Madigan said a “good place to begin” would be to return to the taxing levels from before the income tax hike partially sunsetted in January. “Starting there you can go in whatever direction you want to go,” he said.
Madigan was not asked to fully clarify his remarks at the ensuing press conference, and for good reason. Why let a clarification get in the way of a great headline? So, Speaker “I want a 33 percent tax hike” Madigan’s gaffe was quickly trumped by media outlets throughout the state, eventually forcing Madigan to issue a clarification at 6 o’clock that night (those Madigan folks never do anything quickly) about the “misleading headlines and mischaracterization of the Speaker’s comments.” The Speaker went on to say in the release that he has “no plans” to advance a specific tax hike plan anytime soon. The response was issued so late, however, that it didn’t make it into most of the coverage, even though everything is now online and can be easily updated.
It’s no secret that Madigan favors a tax increase. He’s said all year that the budget can only be balanced with a mix of tax hikes and cuts. But it’s clear from the 6 o’clock walk-back that Madigan got too far ahead of himself.
Robling’s question began the process. The Rauner folks began working their loops immediately after Madigan answered the question, pushing hard on the concept that Madigan had finally admitted to a tax hike starting point and eventually forcing Madigan into attacking the media and issuing that clarification. The clarification was then portrayed as confirmation of the Speaker’s true intent: He didn’t misspeak, he accidentally said too much. Mistakes make politicians look weak. Clarifying the mistake was a further mistake because it confirmed the weakness.
And then the next day the Illinois Republican Party launched attacks on some of Madigan’s members, asking rhetorically if those members would “stand with taxpayers, or will they stand with #TaxHikeMike?”
The Rauner folks “won” the day, and “Speaker Madigan’s 33 percent tax hike plan” will help them win more, which is what this is about. Win more days and you further exhaust the other side. More exhaustion leads to more mistakes. Enough mistakes and the opponent is so disadvantaged that it eventually has no choice but to surrender.
Surrender, of course, is not in Madigan’s vocabulary these days. But he needs to be much more aware of what’s being done to him.