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Mark Brown helps free 44 hostages

Friday, Feb 26, 2016

* Wednesday’s Mark Brown column

Keith Drazner, a 38-year-old autistic man with the functional understanding of a five-year-old, is the latest victim of the state of Illinois’ budget lunacy.

* Thursday’s Mark Brown column

I told you Tuesday about Keith Drazner, a 38-year-old autistic man from Highland Park facing removal from the Wisconsin group home where he has lived the past 20 years.

Now meet his neighbor, Adam Rubenstein, 44, who suffers from fragile X syndrome, an inherited intellectual disability. […]

And both men are now facing expulsion because the state of Illinois, which originally agreed to send them there, has stopped paying the bills for their care due to the budget standoff in Springfield.

* Friday’s Mark Brown column

State Comptroller Leslie Munger said Wednesday that Illinois should resume paying for the care of developmentally disabled adults being housed in out-of-state group homes, and she promised to work to free the payments. […]

Munger, who has a nephew with autism and volunteers with a Lake County agency that helps developmentally disabled people, seems to have a better understanding of that problem than most and said she wants to help.

“I believe this is something that should be covered,” Munger said in a phone interview. “As soon as we receive a voucher from [Department of Human Services], we will get it paid.”

Munger said she believes the problem stems from confusion surrounding the patchwork of consent decrees and court orders under which the state continues to pay many of its bills during the budget impasse.

44 people will be helped by this if Munger can pull it off.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - LizPhairTax - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 9:54 am:

    Heckuva job, Brownie. Seriously.

    How comfortable are you with writing 10 columns a day, 7 days a week for a while?

  2. - Anon221 - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 9:55 am:

    Munger- “As soon as we receive a voucher from [Department of Human Services], we will get it paid.”

    Don’t wait on DHS. Go there and ask for the vouchers in person. I don’t think Munger is one to pass the buck on this one, so she really needs to be proactive.

  3. - ILPundit - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 9:56 am:

    Munger might be the only adult on the GOP side of the room.

  4. - hisgirlfriday - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 9:57 am:

    Good on Mark Brown. If only all Chicago political columnists used their perches to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable this state would be better off.

  5. - Frenchie Mendoza - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 9:58 am:

    Why doesn’t problem-solving like this occur with Rauner?

    I note here that Munger didn’t specifically ask for anything in return — no union bashing, no poison pills. She just worked to solve a serious problem.

    Rauner: take note of this. You need examples like this more than anyone else in the room.

  6. - Dome Gnome - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 9:58 am:

    Good. I’ve been aware of and concerned about this situation for awhile now. There’s too much hurt and pain for the average Illinois citizen to even track.

  7. - Wensicia - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 10:00 am:

    I’m impressed with Munger’s swift response.

  8. - 100 miles west - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 10:03 am:

    Munger is the only statewide official in Springfield who understands disability and social services. She understands there are problems. The Governor doesn’t see any of this as a problem, so why would he, or his Ayn Rand All-Stars, do anything to reduce suffering?

  9. - Cubs in '16 - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 10:03 am:

    Munger has at least two things the gov. doesn’t– a family member with special needs and a conscience.

  10. - The Captain - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 10:04 am:

    Mark Brown is probably the best Governor we’ve had in a while. I’m going to be sorry to see him inevitably go to prison.

  11. - Abe the Babe - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 10:11 am:

    How’s that wedge in the democratic party coming along Raunie?

    Seems to me your wedge became a rope that tied all democrats together tighter than they’ve been in a while. I mean you’ve managed to put Garcia and Madigan together!


  12. - Chicago 20 - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 10:11 am:

    Dog shaming was popular on Facebook.

    Now we have Governor Rauner shaming.

  13. - Thoughts Matter - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 10:14 am:

    This is good news for the 44 that she knows about. However for every 44 like this, there are thousands who she doesn’t know about. When is Gov. Rauner going to govern rather than press release and campaign thru hostages?

  14. - Mama - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 10:20 am:

    Is she doing this because she really cares or because it might buy votes? I sincerely hope she truly cares.

  15. - wordslinger - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 10:21 am:

    Brownie, want to pick up on the homeless shelters for children that have been shut down, even though dedicated, non-GRF funds for them are sitting in the Treasury?

    Meanwhile, noted intellectual and gifted writer John Kass warns today that America is on the road to “socialism” (whatever that means) because Venezuela has a toilet paper shortage.

  16. - illini97 - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 10:22 am:

    Good on Comptroller Munger.

  17. - Mama - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 10:23 am:

    == The Captain @ 10:04 am: “Mark Brown is probably the best Governor we’ve had in a while. I’m going to be sorry to see him inevitably go to prison.”

    What the heck? Why on earth would Mark Brown go to prison?

  18. - Curious Georgina - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 10:34 am:

    Mama, I’m pretty sure the Captain’s remark was meant to be a snarky reference to the fate of a couple of our more recent governors.

  19. - James Knell - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 10:44 am:

    Mama, it’s because Mark Brown is doing the Governor’s job… and Illinois Governors inevitably go to prison. It’s a joke.

    Frenchie Mendoza @ 9:58 - lol, yup Munger didn’t even get anything for this hostage releases, she’s gonna be in big trouble.

    100 Miles West @ 10:03 “Ayn Rand All-Stars”… that ought to stick as it is so richly deserved.

    You guys are on fire this morning, lol.

  20. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 10:47 am:

    Nicely done, Comptroller Munger! She might be the only adult of either party in Springfield right now.

  21. - Huh? - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 10:50 am:

    Why is Munger getting a pat in the back for doing her job? This is a problem that shouldn’t have occurred.

  22. - Indochine - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 10:50 am:

    Annon 221: Don’t wait on DHS. Go there and ask for the vouchers in person. I don’t think Munger is one to pass the buck on this one, so she really needs to be proactive.

    That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works. Vouchers have to come from the agency, not directly from a provider. It would be illegal for her to do what you’re suggesting.

  23. - Henry Francis - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 10:52 am:

    I think Cubs in 16 has it right. Munger is personally affected by the hostage taking and has a conscience. It doesn’t make her a hero. It makes her human.

  24. - Mama - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 10:55 am:

    ==- Frenchie Mendoza - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 9:58 am: Why doesn’t problem-solving like this occur with Rauner?==

    Frenchie, you are right, but Rauner is in a race to ‘win’ - not to solve problems. However, I’m not sure on what he thinks he is winning.

  25. - Johnnie F. - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 11:03 am:

    One other thing wingman Munger has that Bruce doesn’t is a fall election. However, this is a positive for our citizens that are in most need.

  26. - burbanite - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 11:28 am:

    If all the media was covering what is happening the way they should be, I think it would put pressure on the Gov. But I know that is not going to happen.

  27. - Anon221 - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 11:34 am:

    Not sure why this didn’t post.

    Re to Indochine- what I meant, was that Munger needs to make sure DHS sends these vouchers over and doesn’t sit on them.

  28. - Former state employee - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 11:37 am:

    Is Munger showing compassion? Has Rauner noticed? Her punishment could be severe. Good for her.

  29. - Chucktownian - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 11:38 am:

    I’m glad to hear this, However, I must point out there are literally millions of other hostages who desperately need rescuing.

  30. - Grandson of Man - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 2:01 pm:

    Brown is one of my favorite columnists and one of the few reasons I read the Sun-Times anymore.

    I appreciate Munger and what she’s done. This matters a lot.

  31. - Indochine - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 2:30 pm:

    @Anon221 - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 11:34 am:
    Re to Indochine- what I meant, was that Munger needs to make sure DHS sends these vouchers over and doesn’t sit on them.

    She has no control over whether a state agency sits on a voucher or not.

  32. - Cassandra - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 2:31 pm:

    I think I agree with Anonymous 10:50; since we the citizens are still having taxes deducted from our paychecks, the state must have some cash.

    Or do these vouchers fall in the category of bills which allegedly can’t be paid, even in part, because there is no appropriation-that is, no formal state budget. I’m not sure I believe that, but in any case, if they do fall in that category, how can she unilaterally pay these particular bills now.

  33. - Demoralized - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 2:45 pm:

    ==bills which allegedly can’t be paid, even in part, because there is no appropriation-that is, no formal state budget. I’m not sure I believe that==

    And you don’t believe it why? There are 3 categories you need to understand:

    1. Appropriated spending - some appropriation bills have been passed and spending can legally occur out of these lines
    2. Court ordered/consent decree spending - spending we are doing because a judge told us to
    3. Bills with no spending authority - unless you are in category 1 or 2 the bill can’t be paid.

    So, again, what is it you don’t believe?

  34. - Cassandra - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 2:55 pm:

    So, which category are we talking about with respect to the out of state clients with disabilities.

    Why would Munger be “trying.” Does she have authority to pay, or not. If there is a court order, all in the category should be paid without further ado, I presume.If not, why not.

  35. - Cassandra - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 3:07 pm:

    And, Demoralized, you will believe there will be a formal state budget for fy16?

    Depends on how you define “formal” I suppose.

  36. - Muscular - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 3:21 pm:

    I’m so happy that Mark Brown wrote about the out of state people with developmental disabilities caught up in the budget mess. Lesley Munger demonstrated her leadership as a compassionate conservative.

    These columns surpassed my expectations of Mark Brown. As a liberal, I had expected him to argue for their return to Illinois to a state operated developmental disability facility staffed by AFSCME workers. It would bring more jobs for union members, even if people suffered.

  37. - Precinct Captain - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 3:25 pm:

    Why aren’t more reporters and outlets telling stories like these?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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