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Friday, Jan 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I know he doesn’t like marijuana, but, c’mon, man

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration has again rejected expanding the list of diseases that can be treated with marijuana in Illinois.

The Department of Public Health announced the decision Friday, spurning eight recommendations from an expert advisory board.

The panel had recommended post-traumatic stress disorder, which affects many military veterans. Also recommended and rejected Friday were autism, irritable bowel syndrome, osteoarthritis and four pain syndromes.

It’s the second such sweeping rejection from the Republican governor. Rauner in September vetoed legislation that would have added PTSD, and his health chief at that time rejected nearly a dozen conditions the expert panel had recommended.

Not good.

* I don’t think Paul would’ve approved, either

Hey, I’m dancing down the streets

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Your weekly Oscar the Puppy fix

Friday, Jan 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Oscar didn’t get to go to the governor’s mansion this week because I couldn’t get home from the Statehouse and still get back on time. Plus, I don’t like to yell around him.

Both of the governor’s dogs were there, so he would’ve had great fun. He loves those dogs. Actually, he loves pretty much everyone and everything. I’ve never seen an animal with such a big heart.

Anyway, here he is…

And here he is after his haircut this week…

He’s such a good boy.


Cullerton sandbagged by Operation PUSH

Friday, Jan 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From Rep. Ken Dunkin’s guy Maze Jackson…

* Maze was referring to an Operation PUSH press conference today featuring Senate President John Cullerton, Rep. Mary Flowers and Rep. Dunkin

So, what’s going on?

It looks like a classic sandbag.

* Cullerton, according to his press secretary, absolutely did not know Dunkin would be there. “This was not our event,” he said.

Cullerton went and subsequently went through with the event because Rev. Jesse Jackson asked him to.

Rep. Flowers apparently didn’t know about Dunkin’s attendance, either. She didn’t seem too pleased.

But at least we now know that Rev. Jackson isn’t going to be a bystander.

…Adding… Rep. Flowers says she was completely surprised by Dunkin’s presence. She did say, however, that she was pleasantly surprised when Dunkin called on Gov. Rauner to sign the MAP grant bill passed yesterday.

That bill, by the way, has not yet been sent to the governor, even though Senate President Cullerton was at PUSH today demanding that Rauner sign it.


Is your checking account free?

Friday, Jan 29, 2016 - Posted by Advertising Department

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Despite increased costs resulting from the regulatory environment, credit unions are the only financial institutions which overwhelmingly offer free checking accounts. A recent study by Moebs Services confirmed that nearly 74% of credit unions offer free checking to their members, while only 46% of banks offer the same. In the aftermath of the financial crisis, new regulatory requirements have significantly increased compliance costs for all financial institutions. For many, the cost has been passed on to customers in the form of fees associated with financial transactions. However, credit unions continue to offer financial services at the lowest possible cost – sometimes even free – to consumers.

Experience the credit union difference. Visit to locate a credit union near you!

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Question of the day

Friday, Jan 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Do you think President Obama’s Statehouse visit next month might help somehow break the long governmental impasse? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.

surveys & polls


Another hostage dies

Friday, Jan 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From an e-mail sent to legislators…

Haymarket Center is closing its social setting detoxification program. This was Haymarket’s first program, the start of our mission 40 years ago.

In FY 2015, this program had 1,047 admissions of 903 unique individuals.

As a social setting detoxification program, it is not eligible for a Medicaid certification, and relied on State funding. With the end of our federal portion of our DASA contract growing near, the 22% cut in our contract, and other programs such as Recovery Homes also relying on State funding, we believe we had no choice but to close this program.

We will be announcing further reductions within the next few days.

* More about this important organization

Founded in 1975 by the late Monsignor Ignatius McDermott and Dr. James West, McDermott Center dba Haymarket Center is the largest not-for-profit community-based adult detoxification, residential, and outpatient substance abuse treatment facility in Chicago. Haymarket Center has continued to grow into a comprehensive alcohol and other drug treatment organization, licensed by the state of Illinois, which receives funding from the private sector, as well as city, county, state and federal agencies. The treatment programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Rehabilitative Facilities (CARF).

Msgr. McDermotts and Dr. West’s understanding of addiction as a disease provided the motivation for their call for treatment in lieu of criminalization. This fundamental perspective continues to guide Haymarket Center in pioneering innovative, high quality, community-based, social setting behavioral health programs that are gender responsive, culturally appropriate and population specific. Although Haymarket serves primarily homeless, indigent and ex-offenders from the south and west side communities of Chicago, it extends its services to the entirety of Illinois.


*** UPDATED x1 *** Obama to address GA Feb. 10

Friday, Jan 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Monique with the scoop

President Barack Obama will return to his old stomping grounds Feb. 10 and deliver an address to the Illinois General Assembly.

Obama will talk about “what we can do, together, to build a better politics — one that reflects our better selves,” according to a travel advisory from the White House.

The visit will come nine years after Obama announced his candidacy for president, and amid a historic budget impasse between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democrats who control the General Assembly.

*** UPDATE *** Gov. Bruce Rauner…

“I look forward to welcoming President Obama to the State Capitol and hearing him speak about finding common ground between Republicans and Democrats. Despite our political differences, the President and I share a passion for improving education, especially for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, a belief in the benefits of term limits and redistricting reform for restoring good government, and a strong desire to see more economic opportunity for all Illinoisans. I know we can achieve great things for Illinois by having mutual respect for one another and focusing on bipartisan compromise to achieve what’s best for the long-term future of our great state.”

…Adding… President Carter addressed the GA in 1978. Click here for more.


Phil Rock passes away

Friday, Jan 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I didn’t know him well, but to this day, whenever I think about the Illinois Senate, I think of Phil Rock…

…Adding… Press release…

House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, D-Chicago, issued the following statement Friday, mourning the passing of former Senate President Phil Rock:

“I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former Senate President Phil Rock. He was a great friend, mentor and member of the General Assembly for many, many years. His accomplishments, especially in the area of bettering the lives of children, are legion. Shirley and I join with his many friends and colleagues in offering sympathy and prayers to Sheila and their children for comfort and strength in these difficult times.”


More of this, please

Friday, Jan 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Indeed.


Kirk trying not to think about top of the ticket

Friday, Jan 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* National Journal

“The way I look at it is: Could Ted Cruz win a Sen­ate race in Illinois? I don’t think so,” says Josh Holmes, a former seni­or ad­viser to the Na­tion­al Re­pub­lic­an Sen­at­ori­al Com­mit­tee. He notes that the state’s Re­pub­lic­an sen­at­or, Mark Kirk, has “out­per­formed” the tick­et in the past. […]

While wait­ing to fig­ure out who will be­come their nom­in­ee, Law says that the most ef­fect­ive Sen­ate GOP can­did­ates, like Sens. Rob Port­man of Ohio and Kelly Ayotte of New Hamp­shire, are “hug­ging the ground,” fo­cus­ing on state is­sues like the heroin epi­dem­ic. That, and re­mem­ber­ing the first rule of Steph­en Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Ef­fect­ive People.

“The first habit is to fo­cus your en­ergy on your circle of in­flu­ence versus your circle of con­cern, which ba­sic­ally means you fo­cus your at­ten­tion on things you can af­fect rather than the things you worry about,” said Law.

It ap­pears the can­did­ates agree.

“For me, you could drive your­self crazy, in a tar­geted race like mine, of what will hap­pen,” Kirk told Na­tion­al Journ­al. “And I’m just fo­cused on the people of Illinois.”

* Part of that local focus is pinning his probable Democratic opponent to Speaker Madigan, who has lower poll numbers than just about anybody in the country. It started when Duckworth visited Chicago State University this week and blasted Gov. Rauner

“Because of the stubbornness of the governor, it’s a month away from shutting its doors to these kids,” Duckworth said, according to remarks released by her campaign. “We can’t punish kids like this.” […]

“By attacking Gov. Rauner, it is clear that Rep. Duckworth is siding with Speaker Michael Madigan and his agenda of higher taxes and no reform,” Kirk campaign manager Kevin Artl said in a statement. […]

“The problem is, Duckworth’s record on higher education is just as bad as Kirk’s,” a statement released by Zopp’s campaign manager Bryce Colquitt read. […]

In debating who supported federal efforts to make college more affordable, Duckworth compared Kirk to Rauner. Kirk compared Duckworth to Madigan. And Zopp compared Duckworth to Kirk.

Got all that?

* Meanwhile, Sen. Kirk just received an “A” grade from the Illinois Education Association

Illinois’ junior Senator, Mark Kirk, like fellow Republican Rep. Rodney Davis, was a strong supporter of the “Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA),” which replaced the “No Child Left Behind Act.” In addition, though it was not included in the final bill, Kirk and Davis fought hard to get the NEA-backed “Accountability Dashboard” included in ESSA.

Shhhh. Don’t tell Rauner.

* Also, here’s some Kirk campaign oppo on Duckworth for your perusal…

In 2012, Tammy Duckworth Attended A Caterpillar Worker’s Strike Rally. “Tammy Duckworth and Bill Foster also joined the strikers, Democrats running for US Congress in two of the national battleground congressional races to regain a Democratic majority.” (John Bachtell, “Strikers blast Caterpillar greed, reject concessions,” People’s World, 5/14/12)

    · “Among the guests and speakers at the rally were Tom Buffenbarger, International President; Robert Roach, Jr., General Secretary-Treasurer; Phil Gruber, Midwest Territory GVP; Tom Giarrante, Mayor, Joliet Illinois; Pat McGuire, Illinois State Senator 43rd Legislative District; Larry Walsh, Will County Executive; Tammy Duckworth, Candidate for Illinois’ 8th U.S. Congressional District; Bill Foster, Candidate for Illinois’ 11th U.S. Congressional District and Tim Drea, Secretary Treasurer, Illinois AFL-CIO.” (“Solidarity Rally for Machinists at Caterpillar,” International Association Of Machinists And Aerospace Workers, 5/15/12)

Duckworth Used The Rally To “Voice Her Disdain For Caterpillar the Company.” Back at the stage, Congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth used the opportunity to voice her disdain for Caterpillar the company. (Pat Barcas, “Fighting Machinists,” IAM Leadership, 5/11/12)

At The Rally Duckworth Admitted She Was A Stockholder But That She Did Not Like What The Company Was Doing At The Time Of The Rally. “She explained how she and her husband had invested in Caterpillar stock years ago when she received a payment from the government over her military injuries. ‘I’m a stockholder. We believed in the company back then and what it stood for. Now, this is not OK. I don’t like this,’ she said.” (Pat Barcas, “Fighting Machinists,” IAM Leadership, 5/11/12)

A Couple Months After The Rally On July 26th 2012, Tammy Duckworth Purchased Between $1,001-$15,000 In Caterpillar Stock According To Her Personal Financial Disclosure. (Rep. Tammy Duckworth Financial Disclosure Report, Accessed 1/25/16)

Tammy Duckworth Still Owns 2 Sets Of Stocks In Caterpillar Inc. Both Worth Between $1,001 And $15,000 That Each Earned Her Dividends Worth Between $1 And $200 In 2013. (Rep. Tammy Duckworth Financial Disclosure Report, Accessed 7/22/15)

For a bit more context, click here.


It’s just the first step

Friday, Jan 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The Tribune quotes Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Gov. Rauner’s abrupt shift in tone this week

“I welcome a more congenial tone of cooperation, because the state has lost a year based on name-calling,” Emanuel said at a Near North Side event to promote an education program. “And we can see by the results, I don’t think name-calling is a way to get people to cooperate and work together.

“Calling people from the Supreme Court to others names has led to the most unproductive first year of any governor in recent memory,” the mayor said.

“And so I welcome the tone of openness. I welcome the tone of trying to hit the restart button, given the last year. Illinois students, schools, teachers, people providing basic social services, investments in our future, have been put on hold in an acrimonious environment because of name-calling,” he added.

I agree that the governor’s tonal shift is welcomed news, as long as it lasts longer than a few days.

But the real problems are the numerous stark, gargantuan policy differences. The name-calling (on both sides) has only made those policy positions more intransigent.

So, we need more than just a more measured rhetorical approach, which, again, is nonetheless encouraging to me. We need a far more moderate policy approach - by both sides.

More on that another time.


Theory vs. reality

Friday, Jan 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Yesterday, Rep. Scott Drury (D-Highwood) said he was voting “No” on a bill to appropriate over $700 million for MAP grants, community colleges and adult education programs because appropriating the money would take pressure off the General Assembly to get a budget deal with the governor.

That’s a fine theory. And he may even be right. And even if he’s wrong, and even if the governor flip-flops and signs the bill, there is no funding source to pay for it.

* But real life has a way of busting through

Decatur school board members expressed aloud their reluctance to approve the suspension of adult education classes until funding is restored by the state but did approve the decision at the Tuesday meeting.

“We never talk about adult education, probably because it runs so well,” board member Fred Spannaus said. “They serve a population that might never get into the work force without their help. The money’s there, but it’s caught up in this incredibly stupid political dispute.”

Adult education, with the exception of the current certified nurse assistant class that will end March 2, will be discontinued indefinitely.

* From a Herald & Review editorial

Many of the adult students are taking the classes in order to better themselves. For example, as reported by Herald & Review reporter Valerie Wells, Robert Brown comes to class even though he works an overnight shift that end at 6 a.m. He is working on improving his reading skills and hopes to enroll in a nurse assistant class and eventually study to become a nurse practitioner.

“You’re taking away from people who are trying to learn,” he said. Brown said he was more than a little angry that the state government can’t come up with a budget.


It’s just a bill, Part 27,483

Friday, Jan 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From the Illinois Family Institute

Courageous Lawmakers Fight for Student Privacy
Written By Laurie Higgins

State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) introduced the bi-partisan Pupil Physical Privacy Act (HB 4474), which if passed would require the following:

    [A] school board to designate each pupil restroom, changing room, or overnight facility accessible by multiple pupils simultaneously, whether located in a public school building or located in a facility utilized by the school for a school-sponsored activity, for the exclusive use of pupils of only one sex. Defines “sex” as the physical condition of being male or female, as determined by an individual’s chromosomes and identified at birth by that individual’s anatomy.

Signing on as co-sponsors are John D. Anthony (R-Morris), Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield), John M. Cabello (R-Loves Park), C.D. Davidsmeyer (R-Jacksonville), Mary E. Flowers (D-Chicago), Jeanne M. Ives (R-Wheaton), Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon), Sherry L. Jesiel (R-Gurnee), Bill Mitchell (R-Decatur), Reginald Phillips (R-Charleston), David Reis (R-Olney), Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake), and Keith Wheeler (R-North Aurora). Who knew Illinois had this many wise and courageous leaders willing to endure the deceitful epithets hurled at anyone who dares to dissent from the foolish views espoused by “progressives”?

If we lived in a rational society committed to sexual sanity, such a bill would be wholly unnecessary, and anyone who sponsored such a bill would be thought of as daft. But we don’t, and therefore the bill is necessary. These lawmakers deserve many thanks for their courage and wisdom.

* From Equality Illinois…

Joint Statement on Stopping Discrimination Against Transgender Students

January 22, 2016

We stand with transgender and gender nonconforming students in Illinois and denounce the blatantly discriminatory bill recently introduced in the Illinois House by Rep. Tom Morrison (R-Palatine). HB-4474 would force transgender and gender nonconforming students to use separate bathrooms and locker rooms and that’s plain wrong.

Not only does this bill promote fear mongering, but its sponsor appears to be out of touch with what is happening in education. More schools across Illinois, and across the nation, are adopting humane policies that respect and affirm all students, including students who are transgender and gender non-conforming. This practice has been endorsed and encouraged by noted researchers and leading authorities on education and student development, all of whom encourage the recognition and support of transgender students and how they wish to express their gender identity in a safe, responsible, and dignified manner.

HB-4474 would compel many schools who are dealing with this issue in a sensitive way, educating their schools and the public about what it means to be transgender, and fostering a sense of community and acceptance on their campuses to reverse those policies and create unnecessary division and segregation.

The Department of Education recently issued a set of very strong findings, in a complaint brought against suburban Chicago District 211, which found that denying a student who is transgender access to an appropriate restroom or changing area is in violation of federal law, specifically Title IX. Rep. Morrison’s bill would force schools to operate in conflict with that finding, at the risk of losing critical federal funding. With these factors in mind, this does not result in sound and responsible public policy, especially considering the budget challenges facing the state.

The real harm is not just for transgender students but all students regardless of their gender identity. It promotes bullying, gender policing and body shaming – all practices that hurt all students and can be devastating for transgender students trying solely to get the good quality education they deserve.

This bill also feeds into the false narrative that sex and gender fit neatly into a binary model and it should not see the light of day. As organizations that work exclusively or significantly with LGBTQ communities, we encourage the State of Illinois to use its resources to advance supportive and inclusive work that moves all Illinois residents toward full equality.

Sign-On Organizations

    Affinity Community Services
    AIDS Foundation of Chicago
    American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois
    Association of Latino/as Motivating Action (ALMA)
    Center on Halsted
    Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus
    Chicago House and Social Service Agency
    Chicago Youth Storage Initiative
    Equality Illinois
    Howard Brown Health Center
    Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health
    Illinois Safe Schools Alliance
    La Casa Norte
    Lambda Legal
    Pride Action Tank

Whatever your position, this is mainly just lots of heat over a bill going nowhere. Democratic super-majorities and a governor who has shied away from traditional social issues mean it’s doomed.

Both sides will raise money on it, but in the end this bill is DOA.


Here’s something you don’t see every day

Friday, Jan 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* A huge Illinois project, privately funded with a union-friendly leadership. From the Morris Herald News

Competitive Power Ventures announced Thursday its intention to open a state-of-the-art electric generating facility in the Three Rivers area of unincorporated Grundy County.

The CPV Three Rivers Energy Center is a nearly $1 billion privately funded project designed to meet the future electricity demands of Illinois. The 1,100-megawatt natural gas-powered 2-by-1 combined cycle facility will provide enough electricity to power about 1.1 million homes.

With a lengthy permit process ahead for the facility, Three Rivers project director Michael Bruno said the company has set a goal of beginning construction in 2018 and supplying electricity by 2021. The 21⁄2-year construction process is expected to create 300 to 500 locally sourced union jobs.

“Grundy County has an amazing, ready-made union workforce,” Bruno said. “That’s huge for us. We see unions as an essential partner.” […]

Norton Ammer said the tax base enhancement will be huge. Seven taxing bodies would receive funds, including Coal City schools and protection agencies, Goose Lake Township and Grundy County.

I’m thinking we won’t see a triumphant press release from DCEO on this anytime soon.


Good point

Friday, Jan 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Tribune

“This is the home of the first police torture reparations fund in the country, and no one’s been prosecuted for police torture,” said [Democratic Cook County State’s Attorney candidate Kim Foxx], a former assistant state’s attorney and onetime chief of staff to County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who backs her candidacy. “So the lack of prosecutions, or what’s happened in the Laquan McDonald case, is an indicator or a pattern of a lack of prosecutions for this type of misconduct by the state’s attorney’s office and particularly this state’s attorney.”

* The response was a bit weak

Alvarez, the two-term incumbent, hit back with a defense of the thoroughness of her investigation into McDonald’s death and her record on police prosecutions. She said she remains focused on helping the victims of crime in the county, many of whom are minorities.

“I take great insult to the implication that I’m not open to the community,” Alvarez said. “I meet regularly with community members, and I think what we have to keep coming back to is what neither of my opponents want to talk about, and that is the victims, the victims of crime. That’s who we serve.”


Madigan spokesman says Rauner “just like” Blagojevich

Friday, Jan 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Greg Hinz

A day after Gov. Bruce Rauner called on Springfield to come together, the same old Capitol infighting resumed, as Democrats ran a bill to restore some funding to state colleges and student scholarships, and the GOP governor promptly promised to veto it. […]

The Republican version would have appropriated $1.6 billion. The figure is higher because money would have been restored not only to community colleges, but also to state universities, such as the University of Illinois, Northern Illinois University and Southern Illinois University. Those institutions tend to be located in downstate areas often represented by Republicans.

The GOP version also included a controversial funding mechanism: It would have given Rauner extensive and unilateral authority to move money from one portion of the state budget to another, something Republicans say is fiscally responsible but Democrats argue he cannot be trusted to do.

“He’s just like (ex-Gov.) Rod Blagojevich: He wants all the power,” said Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, suggesting that Rauner would use such power to “go after” working-class families and others.

Speaker Madigan repeated his pledge Wednesday to “work cooperatively” with Gov. Rauner. Apparently, that pledge doesn’t include comparing Rauner to an imprisoned former governor.



Could a CTU strike be averted?

Friday, Jan 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From CTU President Karen Lewis

After a period of intense and difficult bargaining, the Chicago Teachers Union has received a serious offer from CPS. The CTU requires that any Tentative Agreements be made by its Big Bargaining Team—a 40-member committee of teachers, PSRPs and clinicians—which will convene, deliberate and vote on Monday.

While the Union will not release details of the offer without Big Bargaining Team approval, the basic framework calls for economic concessions in exchange for enforceable protections of education quality and job security. If the Union is able to reach a Tentative Agreement, delegates will be apprised of details shortly.

* CPS responds

As the CTU leadership said, CPS has put a serious offer on the table that would prevent midyear teacher layoffs. This offer is a true compromise that requires sacrifices from both sides so that we can protect what is most important: the gains our students are making in their classrooms. We will continue to work around the clock to reach consensus on an agreement that is the best interests of our students, educators and parents.

* Hizzoner

Speaking on WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight” on Thursday, Mayor Emanuel declined to talk about the specifics of the offer, but he called the talks “honest.”

“I think it’s better for me to characterize it as very good discussion with a lot of respect on both sides for the challenges. . . . But to try to create a win-win situation for both teachers, taxpayers and most importantly for our students, I don’t want to go farther than that in trying to characterize it. Because it’s been a very honest and I think healthy working relationship over a number of weeks to get to a place where I think that we would see what the teachers need to see and the type of protections, but also the type of things that are necessary for taxpayers and students to see. I think that kind of mutual respect, I want to maintain.”

* Context from the Tribune

Any deal would have to be approved by the union’s House of Delegates before a contract could be finalized. That body meets Wednesday.

The union’s announcement came a day after CPS put off an offer to borrow up to $875 million. District CEO Forrest Claypool said earlier Thursday that the district expects to complete the deal by early next week at the latest.

In recent days, negotiators on both sides of the table have said that talks have gained steam following Republican proposals that would allow the state to take over the cash-strapped district, and also allow the district to declare bankruptcy. […]

Last week, Lewis voiced optimism about the progress of contract negotiations and acknowledged that her members could be in line to “lose certain things.”


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Friday, Jan 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Former Bears star advocates for medical marijuana

Thursday, Jan 28, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon is in town the for the team’s 30th anniversary of its Super Bowl win. He talked to the Tribune about how medical marijuana helped him get off pills and ease his pain from multiple injuries

Now 56, McMahon has been plagued by debilitating health problems following his 15-year career and multiple concussions in the National Football League. He has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia and has severe headaches, depression, memory loss, and vision and speech problems. He also said he suffered a broken neck. […]

McMahon got his medical marijuana card in Arizona, where he lives, after it was approved by a voter referendum in 2010. Before that, he said, he’d been taking 100 Percocet pills a month for pain in his shoulders, neck and arms.

“They were doing more harm than good,” he said. “This medical marijuana has been a godsend. It relieves me of the pain — or thinking about it, anyway.” […]

His comments come as Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner considers whether to approve eight more medical conditions to add to the list of about 40 that qualify for medical marijuana here. A state advisory board recommended adding the new conditions, including pain that doesn’t respond to conventional treatment.

The majority of patients in some other states that have legalized medical marijuana, like California and Colorado, qualify to use it to treat pain. But Illinois, which has perhaps the strictest law allowing medical marijuana in the nation, does not allow it for pain, as lawmakers have expressed concerns that the category is too broad and vague and would allow for abuse.

They should just legalize it, but an expansion to include pain in the interim would be a positive step forward.

…Adding… Ugh

Veterans gathered at the Capitol this morning to ask the Governor Rauner to add Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to the list of illnesses that could be treated by medical marijuana.

They had hoped to deliver those signatures to the Governor in person but things didn’t go as planned.

After repeated requests to deliver their signatures, they were told the boxes were going into storage.

Despite their frustration the group went ahead with their rally as planned.


Question of the day

Thursday, Jan 28, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Mark Brown cites his agreement with parts of yesterday’s State of the State Address

“Jobs and people have been leaving our state.”

There’s no sense arguing with the facts, although we might interpret them differently. Keeping and attracting jobs underlies most of Illinois’ problems.

“To bring good jobs to Illinois, we have to make Illinois a place where it is good to do business.”

True. To which I would add, it also helps to create a perception that this is a good place to do business, which hasn’t been Rauner’s approach.

I even agree with the governor that we should make a priority of doing something about fixing our workers compensation system to reduce costs to employers, although not in the manner Rauner insists.

Employers continue to cite workers comp costs as a major impediment to doing business here, despite changes to the law in 2011 that brought improvements. This requires a balancing act with the rights of workers, but if the jobs are leaving, something is out of balance.

The full address is here.

* The Question: Which part(s) of the address did you agree with? Explain, please, and no snark. Thanks.


Yesterday’s protesters

Thursday, Jan 28, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I could hear them from the gallery yesterday, but couldn’t make out what they were saying. Here’s the SJ-R

Protests and rallies at the Statehouse are usual during legislative sessions, and a big gathering in the rotunda Wednesday included hundreds of people chanting things like “budget first” even as Gov. BRUCE RAUNER delivered his State of the State address in the House chamber.

At least in the House gallery, some of the chants — muffled by the chamber’s closed doors — could be heard as the governor spoke.

Why that tactic?

“I think it was necessary so the governor understands and all the lawmakers understand that families and communities need a budget right now, and they need one that chooses revenue over cuts to veterans, seniors, those with disabilities,” said NEAL WALTMIRE, spokesman for the Responsible Budget Coalition.

The coalition includes about 250 groups, from statewide teacher unions to Land of Lincoln Goodwill Industries and the Hope Institute for Children and Families.

“We were respectful of the instructions,” Waltmire said. “We just wanted to make sure that the governor heard our concerns. It was hard to ignore us.”

* The Sun-Times posted a brief video


Land of Lincoln Credit Union Announces Charity of the Year

Thursday, Jan 28, 2016 - Posted by Advertising Department

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Land of Lincoln Credit Union, based in Decatur and serving citizens out of 12 central Illinois locations, has recently delivered a donation to the Decatur Macon County Senior Center. Credit union staff members worked throughout the year to raise funds for its annual Charity of the Year, and fundraising coordinators were proud to announce the Senior Center as the beneficiary of their 2015 efforts.

The Decatur Macon County Senior Center serves the senior citizens of Decatur and Macon County through various activities, programs and services that help promote independence, safety, mental and physical health. DMCSC serves over 6,500 seniors annually and 52% of their budget must be raised with community contributions.
“We are so thrilled and honored that LLCU employees chose the Senior Center to raise money for this past year,” stated DMCSC Executive Director Leslie Stanberry. “LLCU put in so much work on behalf of the community that it speaks well for LLCU and the employees to have such civic pride.”

Land of Lincoln Credit Union looks forward to providing another year of exceptional community support!

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Caption contest!

Thursday, Jan 28, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Today is House Republican Leader Jim Durkin’s birthday. From Facebook


Today’s numbers: Horrific

Thursday, Jan 28, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From a study conducted by the University of Illinois at Chicago

• In 2014, for 16 to 19 year olds in Chicago, 12.4 percent of Blacks, 15.0 percent of Hispanic or Latinos, and 24.4 percent of Whites (non-Hispanic or Latinos) were employed. This compared to the national figure of 28.8 percent suggests that youth in Chicago are less likely to be employed.

• In Chicago, the jobless rate for Black 16 to 19 year olds was 88 percent. For Hispanic or Latinos 16 to 19 year olds, 85 percent were jobless in 2014.

• In Chicago, the percentage of Hispanic or Latino 16 to 19 year olds that was employed declined from 25.5 percent in 2005 to 15 percent in 2014, (reflecting a 42 percent drop). Employment for White (non-Hispanic or Latino) 16 to 19 year olds, although higher than either Black or Latino youth, also dropped during this period.

• The biggest decline of employment rates among 16 to 19 year olds in the U.S., Illinois and Chicago was among female Latinas in Chicago, with a 44 percent drop.

• In Illinois in 2014, 84 percent of Black 16 to 19 year olds and 72 percent of Hispanic or Latino 16 to 19 year olds were jobless. Employment rates decreased by 13 percent for Blacks and 20 percent for Hispanic or Latinos from 2005 to 2014.

• In the U.S. in 2014, 79 percent of Black 16 to 19 year olds and 74 percent of Hispanic or Latino 16 to 19 year olds were jobless. Employment rates decreased 14 percent for Blacks and 21 percent for Hispanic or Latinos from 2005 to 2014.

• Across all groups in Chicago, Illinois and the U.S., the percentages of 16 to 19 year olds employed have dropped from 2005 to 2014, suggesting a long-term downward trend for employment of teens.

• For 20 to 24 year olds in Chicago, joblessness in 2014 was 59 percent for Blacks, 37 percent for Hispanic or Latinos, and 27 percent for Whites (non-Hispanic or Latinos).

• Whites (non-Hispanic or Latinos) were the only group that had an increased employment rate in 2014 from 2005 for 20 to 24 year olds.

• Among 20 to 24 year olds, Chicago had a higher percentage of Blacks that were out of work than the U.S. and Illinois. 41 percent of Blacks in Chicago, 19 percent of Hispanic or Latinos and 7 percent of Whites (non-Hispanic or Latinos) were out of school and out of work in 2014.

• In Chicago among 20 to 24 year olds, a higher percent of Hispanic or Latino were out of work and out of school than in Illinois by 2.7 percentage points and was 1.0 percentage point lower than the U.S.

• The largest gaps in out of school and out of work 20 to 24 populations between race/ethnic groups were in Chicago where there was 22.2 percentage points between Whites (non-Hispanic or Latinos) and Hispanic or Latinos and 34.2 percentage points between Whites (non-Hispanic or Latinos) and Blacks.

• In Chicago, the jobless and out of school rate for Black 20 to 24 year olds is more than 6 times higher than for White (non-Hispanic or Latino) 20 to 24 year olds.

• Among 20 to 24 year olds, Chicago had a higher percentage of Blacks and Hispanic or Latinos that were out of work than the U.S. and Illinois.

• Among 20 to 24 year olds, 59.2 percent of Blacks, 37 percent of Hispanic or Latinos and 26 percent of Whites (non-Hispanic or Latinos) were out of work in Chicago in 2014.

• For 20 to 24 year olds, Illinois, compared to the U.S., had a higher percentage of Blacks out of work and a lower percent of Whites (non-Hispanic or Latino) and Hispanics out of work.

• Among 20 to 24 year olds, the largest gaps in out of work between race/ethnic groups was in Chicago where there was 10.9 percentage points between Blacks and Hispanic or Latinos and 33.5 percentage points between Whites (non-Hispanic or Latinos) and Blacks.

• In 2014, jobless rates for 20 to 24 year olds were highest on the South and West Sides of the city and were lowest on the North, Northwest and Southwest sides of the City.

• Areas with 40 percent to 60 percent and 60 percent to 80 percent of jobless individuals are consistent with the areas with the highest concentration of Black Individuals age 18 to 24 with over 90 percent Black populations.

• Higher percentages of 16 to 19 year olds were out of • work in 2014 compared to 20 to 24 year olds for all groups and geographies.

• In 2014, the rate of 18 percent of 16 to 24 year olds
in Chicago who are out of school and out of work is higher than the U.S., Illinois, New York City and Los • Angeles rates.

• The rate of Black 16 to 24 year olds that were out of school and out of work rate in 2014 in Chicago (31 percent) was higher than the rate for Blacks in the U.S., Illinois, New York City, and Los Angeles.

• 23.2 percentage points separate the out of school and out of work rates for Black and White (non- Hispanic or Latino) 16 to 24 year olds in 2014.

• In comparison to the U.S., Illinois, New York City and Los Angeles, Chicago had the highest percent of Black 16 to 19 year olds (14.3 percent) and 20 to 24 year olds (41 percent) that were out of work and out of school in 2014.

• A higher proportion of Black 16 to 19 year olds and 20 to 24 year olds were out of school and out of work in Illinois than in the U.S. Illinois had 3.3 percentage points more Black 16 to 19 year olds and 9.8 percentage points more 20 to 24 year olds that were out of work and out of school than the U.S.

There’s more. Much more. Click here.

* Related…

* Mitchell: Job creation should start at home

* Hinz: New report details huge unemployment among young blacks, Latinos in Chicago

* Young, Black & Out of Work: Study Explores Unemployment Crisis in Chicago

* Nearly Half Of Chicago’s Young Black Men Are Unemployed, Out Of School


Contribution caps busted in two legislative races

Thursday, Jan 28, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I told subscribers about this earlier in the week

The Chicago lawmaker whose defection effectively cost Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan his ability to override gubernatorial vetoes has suddenly received some six-figure re-election help from a political action committee that some consider to be a front group for Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Reports filed yesterday show that IllinoisGo, a group run by Chicago political operative Greg Goldner, so far has spent $240,000 promoting the re-election of Rep. Ken Dunkin, a Near North Side Democrat. […]

According to the new disclosure, IllinoisGo has committed $140,705 for fieldwork on behalf of Dunkin and more than $72,000 for mail, the latter handled by Goldner’s firm, Resolute Consulting. Another $26,000-plus went for “media production,” presumably ads.

The money technically is an independent expenditure not coordinated with Dunkin. But it certainly will come in handy as he faces a union-backed candidate, Juliana Stratton.

* And subscribers were told about this on Monday

The sky’s the limit for spending in the 50th Senate District primary between state Sen. SAM McCANN, R-Plainview, and challenger BRYCE BENTON of Springfield.

That’s because Liberty Principles PAC, the group that’s been running TV ads promoting Benton in and around Springfield, has already thrown more than $325,000 into trying to get Benton nominated. […]

Similarly, big spending by an independent expenditure committee on a particular race can remove caps — with $100,000 the threshold for a legislative seat. And that’s what’s happened in the 50th.

Liberty Principles PAC, run by WIND-AM radio host DAN PROFT of Chicago, reported spending $316,960 on Jan. 20 with Strategic Media Services, Arlington, Virginia, for the Benton campaign. Another $8,753 was reported on Jan. 21 as spent with Targeted Creative Communications, Alexandria, Virginia, for direct mail to help Benton. […]

Meanwhile, Benton’s campaign manager is JAMES ZENN, 26, who recently moved to Springfield from Chicago for the race. He’s a Park Ridge native who got a political science degree in 2011 from the University of Illinois at Urbana. He worked on Rauner’s campaign, and then got a $60,000-a-year job with the Illinois Department of Transportation. Zenn said the job was with the bureau of organization and management. He left that post this summer to join the Illinois Opportunity Project, which is “an independent research and public policy enterprise that promotes legislative solutions in advance of free markets and free minds,” according to its website. Proft is co-founder and a consultant to the Opportunity group, and is also a fellow at the Illinois Policy Institute.

Yeah, no Rauner ties at all. Benton’s campaign manager and the huge $1.818 million Turnaround Illinois contribution to Proft’s PAC the other day have left a very obvious trail.


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Rauner lashes out at AFSCME

Thursday, Jan 28, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The governor went hard after AFSCME yesterday…

One of our biggest taxpayer protection initiatives is to take on the compensation costs of our state government. Most of our state employees are terrific, hardworking public servants. They deserve to be well paid, and receive higher compensation in the future. But it should be based in part upon higher productivity, and shared benefits in taxpayer savings, rather than just seniority.

Unfortunately, the compensation demands being made by AFSCME leaders are out-of-touch with reality. Adjusted for the cost of living, we already have the highest paid state employees in America. Undeterred and unashamed, AFSCME is demanding $3 billion more in overall compensation. That $3 billion should go into our schools and human services, not into government bureaucracy.

Our state employees are paid almost 30% more than Illinois taxpayers are in their own jobs for the same work. That is just not fair – and it’s time we restore balance between taxpayers and state government.

It’s not just the eye-popping price tag on these easy-to-see costs that’s hurting us, taxpayers are also losing from the hidden costs of work rules buried in previous contracts.

Because of these work rules, state government has seen AFSCME file grievances against volunteer campground hosts for educating visitors about a state park; against volunteers at a Veterans home who answered calls in the reception area; against a supervisor who pitched in to eliminate a backlog of tax returns. That’s not right.

And unfair work rules have allowed state workers to manipulate overtime policies to boost their pay, costing taxpayers tens of millions.

We’ve paid $22 million in overtime for the 15-minute roll call that occurs at the beginning of shifts. Our former Auditor General also highlighted, as ripe for abuse, the practice of so-called shift-swapping, where workers use sick time for a regular shift, but then get paid overtime to work a later shift that same day.

We need to install common-sense into our union contracts!

Some of the union’s grievances are pretty silly. And while I think corrections workers ought to get paid for attending a roll call (it’s part of the job, after all), paying them overtime for it seems a bit much.

* AFSCME Council 31 executive director Roberta Lynch rebutted some, but not all of the governor’s arguments…

“Once again, Gov. Rauner falsely attacked public-service workers in state government and mischaracterized our union contract negotiations.

“The state employees Governor Rauner is obsessed with attacking keep communities safe, protect kids, care for veterans and more. Like all working people, they deserve affordable health care and wages that sustain a family, but the governor is trying to double their health care costs while freezing their pay for four years.

“His claims about state employee compensation and our union’s proposals at the bargaining table are simply false.

“AFSCME has consistently sought to find common ground, but the governor relentlessly seeks conflict. The people of Illinois need stability and solutions, but the governor has terminated contract negotiations and walked away from the table, trying to force confrontation and disruption.

“It’s past time for Governor Rauner to stop making blatantly false claims, return to bargaining and work with us to reach an agreement that is fair to all.”


*** UPDATED x1 - Trib fact check *** He makes a good point

Thursday, Jan 28, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From the governor’s address…

Unfortunately, Illinois’ economy has been split in two, one part with modest growth, the other in decline. There are areas within 90 minutes of O’Hare Airport that compete with other expensive mega-cities around the world. Thanks to access to global transportation infrastructure, first class universities, and world class cultural amenities, white-collar communities in the Chicago area have mostly been able to overcome the financial mismanagement that is now strangling Chicago and Cook County.

But it’s difficult in the rest of the state: Harvey, Blue Island, Kankakee, Rockford, East Moline, Peoria, Decatur, Danville, Mt. Vernon, and Marion. Those communities have to compete with other states like Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Tennessee, Texas and South Carolina. And too often, we’ve been losing.

In recent years, we’ve lost more than 300,000 manufacturing jobs.

Many of you have argued that we shouldn’t try to compete with other states, because that would be a race to the bottom.

Well, the numbers prove otherwise.

Factory workers in Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Tennessee, and South Carolina, when you adjust for the cost of living, now make more than workers in Illinois. That’s unacceptable!

Factory workers in Texas are now making more than Illinois folks, even without adjusting for the cost of living.

That’s outrageous! We should be kicking Texas’ tail!

But the numbers don’t lie. We are losing the race for good paying jobs.

* The Illinois Economic Policy Institute “fact checked” part of the governor’s claim…

But earlier in the day, they kinda proved Rauner’s point about wages adjusted for the cost of living with a tweet on property taxation…

…Adding… The governor’s office sent along this chart, which it says is based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics - “Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates” and U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis…

*** UPDATE *** The Tribune fact checked his numbers

Rauner: “Our average working family is making less than they were eight years ago.”

Fact check: Rauner bases this claim on the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data, but that’s 2 years old: He’s actually comparing 2014 with 2006. In 2014 dollars, the average Illinois household income did fall from $57,150 in 2006 to $54,916 in 2014. But take that drop with a healthy pinch of salt — it’s well within the large margin of error built into the Census Bureau’s calculations. It’s entirely possible the average family made more in 2014 than it made in 2006 and that it’s making more now than it made in 2008.

According to slightly more recent data from the Illinois Department of Employment Security, the state’s average salary in early 2015 was $54,531, up from $45,961 in early 2007. Even allowing for total inflation of 15 percent over that period, that’s a 3 percent increase in the average Illinois wage over the last eight years. […]

Rauner: “In many cases, people are paying more in property taxes over the course of living in their home than the original purchase price.”

The right-leaning Illinois Policy Institute came up with this calculation. It adds up, if you assume the 2.32 percent effective property tax rate and, perhaps a little unrealistically in most cases, that a homebuyer will live in a home for at least 43 years

There’s more at the link.


Rauner’s 10 goals

Thursday, Jan 28, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* We’re going to go through Gov. Rauner’s State of the State Address in a bit more detail today. Let’s start here…

We have ten long-term goals. This legislative session we will begin to:

1. Work closely with President Cullerton to significantly increase state support for education, focusing our additional resources more on low income and rural school districts so we can provide high quality classrooms in every community, without taking money away from any other districts.

2. Provide proper funding for early childhood education while setting rigorous benchmarks for program performance, so we can continue to be national leaders in this important work.

3. Give school districts more flexibility when it comes to bargaining, contracting, and bidding, to save taxpayers money, while enabling districts to pay higher teacher salaries.

4. Empower our universities and community colleges to reduce their administrative costs, work rules, pension liabilities and unfunded mandates, and then offer additional financial support to those schools that show real progress in putting more resources in the classroom.

5. Support more partnerships between high schools, community colleges, and local employers so that our young people who are not going to university, can receive the training to step into good paying careers beginning in their teenage years.

6. Develop a comprehensive, consistent, objective student growth measure, not necessarily based on the PARCC system, so we can track our students’ progress in each grade towards college or career, holding our schools accountable for results while eliminating unnecessary testing and bureaucratic mandates.

7. Support programs that create more quality school choice options for low income children stuck in failing schools.

8. Create new quality schools of choice for our disconnected youth as a way to get them back in school.

9. Consolidate the majority of our councils and task forces under the P20 and Early Learning Councils, in order to decrease bureaucracy, increase high-quality outcomes for our learners, and improve the coordination of these working groups.

10. Create a Cabinet on Children and Youth so we can better align our health and human services with our cradle to career education initiatives, in order to provide higher quality, fully integrated services for our young people.



*** UPDATED x1 *** Nuding warns on Dems’ MAP grant bill

Thursday, Jan 28, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The Democrats started moving a MAP grant bill yesterday. The governor’s office doesn’t like it and is proposing an alternative, as well as calling out legislators who voted against the original appropriation last year…

From: Director Tim Nuding, Governor’s Office of Management and Budget
To: Members of the General Assembly
Date: January 28, 2016
Re: GOMB Analysis of SB 2043 and HB 4539/SB 2349

House Amendment 2 to SB 2043 would make appropriations of $721 million for the Monetary Award Program (MAP) and community colleges programs. The funding levels for these programs are the same as those contained in last year’s General Assembly-passed unbalanced budget, which was opposed by Representatives Drury, Franks, Nekritz and Yingling along with all Republican legislators and which was vetoed by the Governor.

House Amendment 2 to SB 2043 provides no funding source to pay for the additional spending as it is not tied to spending reductions, revenue or cost-saving reforms. The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget concludes that House Amendment 2 to SB 2043 would add $721 million to the deficit, increase the state’s bill backlog by the same and delay state payments to providers, vendors and contractors. Therefore, GOMB would recommend the Governor veto this legislation if it came to his desk.

HB 4539/SB 2349, on the other hand, would appropriate $1.6 billion dollars for all programs included in SB 2043 and Illinois’ public universities. The legislation is tied to another bill, HB 4521/SB 2338, which would grant the Governor authority to respond to an unbalanced budget by reallocating funds and reducing spending in various ways.

HB 4539/SB 2349’s approach is far more fiscally responsible than SB 2043 as it would help MAP students, community colleges and universities without exploding the deficit, skyrocketing the bill backlog or exacerbating the state’s cash flow crisis. Therefore, GOMB would recommend the Governor sign this legislation if it came to his desk with HB 4521/SB 2338.​

* From HB 4521’s synopsis

Creates the Unbalanced Budget Response Act. Provides authority and procedures for the Governor to establish contingency reserves of previously appropriated funds, and to transfer balances between special funds in the State treasury and the General Revenue Fund. Describes the agencies and programs subject to this authority. Provides that designated agencies may adopt emergency rules to carry out the purposes of the Act. Defines terms. Provides that the Act is repealed on July 1, 2017. Amends the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act to make conforming changes. Amends the Illinois Public Aid Code. Adds actions taken under the Unbalanced Budget Response Act to a Section relating to applicability. Amends the State Mandates Act to require implementation without reimbursement by the State. Effective immediately.

The state’s Road Fund and some others would be exempt from the sweeps provision.

That bill gives the governor a whole lot of control, which the GA may not be inclined to do since the majority doesn’t actually trust him, but it would help him avoid a complete budgetary meltdown.

*** UPDATE *** Tribune

Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said the governor will veto the bill when it reached his desk. Ahead of the vote, Rauner’s budget chief sent a memo to lawmakers warning that if the measure became law, it would force the comptroller to put off payments for other services.

Democrats were not deterred, quickly passing the bill in both the House and Senate. Two Democrats voted against the bill, Rep. Scott Drury of Highwood and Rep. Jack Franks of Marengo. Eight Republicans voted “present,” a way to avoid looking like they voted against funding for schools without bucking Rauner. […]

While Democrats were able to pass the legislation, it’ll be a tougher battle to override a Rauner veto. On Wednesday, Madigan acknowledged he does not have a “working” supermajority, a reference to the difficulties he’s had in wrangling all 71 of his Democratic members to remain united to override vetoes.



Thursday, Jan 28, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Watch it all right here with ScribbleLive


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* Isabel’s afternoon roundup
* McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally abruptly aborts reelection bid without explanation
* Question of the day
* It’s just a bill
* Protect Illinois Hospitality – Vote No On House Bill 5345
* You gotta be kidding me
* Showcasing The Retailers Who Make Illinois Work
* Moody’s revises Illinois outlook from stable to positive (Updated)
* Open thread
* Isabel’s morning briefing
* Live coverage
* *** UPDATED x1 - Equality Illinois 'alarmed' over possible Harris appointment *** Personal PAC warns Democratic committeepersons about Sen. Napoleon Harris
* Yesterday's stories

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