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Thursday, Apr 28, 2016

* I’m heading out of town for a couple of days. Enjoy

From dusk ’til dawn

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

The Pat Quinn rehab tour continues

Thursday, Apr 28, 2016

* Chicago State University’s commencement ceremony is today. One of the speakers is former Gov. Pat Quinn…

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      

Question of the day

Thursday, Apr 28, 2016

* Press release…

Today, Senator Martin Sandoval, a leading champion of immigrant rights in the Illinois Senate, was joined by 9th graders at Solorio Academy High School in Gage Park, Chicago, home of the 3rd highest number of undocumented immigrants (nearly 11,000) in Illinois, on calling on the Illinois General Assembly to pass SB3021 and send it to Governor Rauner’s desk. SB3021 replaces the term “alien” from Illinois State statutes, as a definition for an undocumented immigrant.

The students started a campaign to rid the state’s vocabulary of the words “alien” and “illegal alien” which are often used to describe undocumented immigrants. The state of California recently took action to eliminate this word. It is the hope of the students that their efforts would result in Illinois following suit and called upon Senator Sandoval to champion this initiative vital to the dignity of their community. […]

A 2013 Pew Research Center survey showed that media organizations have shifted greatly away from using the phrase “illegal alien” to refer to people living in the United States without documentation. During comparable two-week news cycles in 2007 and 2013, use of the phrase in news stories dropped from 21 percent of the time to 5 percent of the time, according to the survey.

“All workers, documented or undocumented, pay taxes and do their fair share, so there is no such thing as an “Illegal” person,” said Delila Lopez, 9th grader at Solorio Academy High School.

Meanwhile, perception that undocumented immigrants “strengthen the country” has steadily been on the rise among all adults since 2010, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey. Seventy-two percent of those surveyed said they think undocumented immigrants should be allowed to remain in the U.S., barring they meet certain requirements.

“The word “alien” is really offensive. It’s not just rude but it dehumanizes undocumented people, and that’s not right,” said Uriel Hernandez, 9th grader at Solorio Academy High School.

* The Question: Should the term “alien” be removed from state statutes when it’s used as a definition for an undocumented immigrant? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.

survey services

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      

IML, firefighters unite on “public duty rule”

Thursday, Apr 28, 2016

* First, a bit of background

The [Illinois] Supreme Court’s decision came in a case involving the 2008 death of Coretta Coleman in unincorporated Will County.

Coleman, 58, called 911 because she was having difficulty breathing. There was a series of delays and miscommunication among emergency personnel, and by the time Coleman’s husband arrived home and let paramedics in, more than 40 minutes had passed. She was found unresponsive inside and was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Coleman’s family sued the East Joliet and Orland fire protection districts, Will County, and their employees who were involved in the response.

Citing the public duty rule, lower courts ruled in favor of the defendants. But the high court overruled them in a 4-3 decision, abolishing the rule it had established in previous decisions.

* From the 4-3 majority opinion

We believe that departing from stare decisis and abandoning the public duty rule and its special duty exception is justified for three reasons: (1) the jurisprudence has been muddled and inconsistent in the recognition and application of the public duty rule and its special duty exception; (2) application of the public duty rule is incompatible with the legislature’s grant of limited immunity in cases of willful and wanton misconduct; and (3) determination of public policy is primarily a legislative function and the legislature’s enactment of statutory immunities has rendered the public duty rule obsolete.

* From the spirited dissent

To summarize, then, the compelling new reasons that Justice Kilbride gives for departing from stare decisis and abandoning the long-standing public duty rule are that (1) the rule lends itself to the use of a common analytical tool and (2) the rule is incompatible with statutory provisions that have been on the books for decades and that this court has repeatedly held have nothing to do with the public duty rule. Neither of these reasons is credible, let alone convincing. And this matters, because the importance of stare decisis is that it “permits society to presume that fundamental principles are established in the law rather than in the proclivities of individuals.” Chicago Bar Ass’n, 161 Ill. 2d at 510. That being the case, if the reasons proffered by Justice Kilbride are sufficient to justify a departure from stare decisis in this case, then we may as well abandon the stare decisis doctrine altogether. Because if they are good enough, then anything is good enough, and we need not waste our time going through the motions of what will essentially have become a hollow exercise.

* The Illinois Municipal League and the firefighters are pushing to enshrine the “public duty” concept into law

“This legislation provides a legal umbrella for both our citizens and the first-responders who are sworn to protect them,” said Pat Devaney, president of the Associated Firefighters of Illinois. “Never should a first-responder have to worry about the legal ramifications of an effort to save a life. It’s re-establishing a principle we’ve been operating under for many years.”

Cole said the principle is that police and firefighters have a duty to protect the public at large, but not specific members of the public. […]

“Absent making these changes, we believe we’re going to create an environment where there’s going to be a cottage industry of frivolous lawsuits aiming to capitalize on the suffering of others,” Devaney said. […]

The Illinois Trial Lawyers Association is opposed to the legislation the Municipal League wants approved. ITLA president Perry Browder said the proposed law could extend immunity to situations where there clearly was misconduct by a police officer or firefighters. He also said municipalities are already protected by other immunity laws.

* From the legislation

The public duty rule is an important doctrine that is grounded in the principle that the duty of a local governmental entity to preserve the well-being of the community is owed to the public at large rather than to specific members of the community. […]

A local governmental entity and its employees owe no duty of care to individual members of the general public to provide governmental services.

Your thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      

Nuclear Energy: Vital for Illinois’ Clean Power Plan Goals

Thursday, Apr 28, 2016

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Even with the clean air contributions of its current nuclear energy facilities, Illinois is expected to decrease its CO2 emissions by 31 percent by 2030 under the U.S. EPA’s pending Clean Power Plan – the equivalent of removing 5.7 million cars off the road, or more than all of the current passenger cars in the state. Losing any nuclear energy facilities would be a major setback. Here are the facts about nuclear energy in Illinois:

    o Nuclear energy is the single greatest provider of clean air energy in Illinois, producing 92 percent of the state’s carbon-free electricity.

    o To replace the carbon-free electricity produced by just one nuclear facility, Illinois would have to build a solar farm larger than Springfield or install windmills five miles deep along the state’s entire shoreline of Lake Michigan.

    o If all of Illinois’ nuclear energy facilities were to close, it would result in a 130-million megawatt-hour shortage of carbon-free electricity – enough to power more than 11 million homes or twice the number of homes in Illinois!

Nuclear is an irreplaceable part of Illinois’ energy portfolio. Click here to learn more about the value of nuclear energy and its importance to Illinois in meeting the EPA’s Clean Power Plan requirements.

- CASEnergy Coalition

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      

Tackling opioid overdoses

Thursday, Apr 28, 2016

* We talked yesterday about how opioid use is soaring in the Metro East.

There is a bill out there which would make abuse a bit more difficult by using some new technology

A coalition of physicians, law enforcement agencies, addiction survivors and substance abuse counselors urged state lawmakers during a press conference Tuesday to pass legislation that would make it more difficult to misuse prescription opioid medication.

House Bill 2743, which has been sitting idle in the Rules Committee since last May, would require Illinois health insurance companies to cover opioid painkillers made with abuse deterrent properties (ADP).

Prescription opioids containing this relatively new technology are significantly harder to crush and helps prevent users from breaking a pill’s extended release mechanism to achieve a quick and intense high through snorting, smoking or melting and injecting the powder, says Dr. Michael Rock, an attending anesthesiologist and pain mangement director at Community First Medical Center in Chicago.

During a demonstration, Rock showed a pill with abuse deterrent properties can withstand blows from a metal hammer, while a pill that doesn’t have the technology is pulverized with a single strike.

* But there’s also this research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association

OBJECTIVE: To determine the association between the presence of state medical cannabis laws and opioid analgesic overdose mortality.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: A time-series analysis was conducted of medical cannabis laws and state-level death certificate data in the United States from 1999 to 2010; all 50 states were included.

EXPOSURES: Presence of a law establishing a medical cannabis program in the state.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Age-adjusted opioid analgesic overdose death rate per 100,000 population in each state. Regression models were developed including state and year fixed effects, the presence of 3 different policies regarding opioid analgesics, and the state-specific unemployment rate.

RESULTS: Three states (California, Oregon, and Washington) had medical cannabis laws effective prior to 1999. Ten states (Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Vermont) enacted medical cannabis laws between 1999 and 2010. States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8% lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate (95% CI, -37.5% to -9.5%; P = .003) compared with states without medical cannabis laws. Examination of the association between medical cannabis laws and opioid analgesic overdose mortality in each year after implementation of the law showed that such laws were associated with a lower rate of overdose mortality that generally strengthened over time: year 1 (-19.9%; 95% CI, -30.6% to -7.7%; P = .002), year 2 (-25.2%; 95% CI, -40.6% to -5.9%; P = .01), year 3 (-23.6%; 95% CI, -41.1% to -1.0%; P = .04), year 4 (-20.2%; 95% CI, -33.6% to -4.0%; P = .02), year 5 (-33.7%; 95% CI, -50.9% to -10.4%; P = .008), and year 6 (-33.3%; 95% CI, -44.7% to -19.6%; P <  .001). In secondary analyses, the findings remained similar.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Medical cannabis laws are associated with significantly lower state-level opioid overdose mortality rates. Further investigation is required to determine how medical cannabis laws may interact with policies aimed at preventing opioid analgesic overdose.

Legalize it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      

Why didn’t Hastert’s secret come out sooner?

Thursday, Apr 28, 2016

* Jolene Burdge’s brother had confided to her that Dennis Hastert had molested him, and she says she confronted Hastert with the information after her brother’s wake in 1995. She then attempted to tell the public about Hastert’s dark secret in 2006. Roll Call tells us what happened

Burdge said the Foley scandal convinced her that she had to come forward. She wrote letters to an advocacy group for victims of priest sex abuse, a prominent defense attorney who had tried several sex abuse cases, ABC News and Oprah Winfrey’s media company. She told all of them that she knew why Hastert hadn’t delved more deeply into complaints about Foley.

Only, Burdge was afraid to allow the news organizations to use her name, and she did not want to take on someone of Hastert’s caliber without support. “I didn’t know what could happen to me,” she said. “I didn’t know if I had any rights.”

Unable to quote her by name, the news organizations balked. Asked why ABC did not air Burdge’s claim at the time, spokeswoman Caragh Fisher referred to a story the network published in June, saying it could not corroborate Burdge’s story and that Hastert denied her claim. The Associated Press also reported in June that it had contacted Burdge after receiving a tip, but Burdge would not go on the record. A spokeswoman for the Oprah Winfrey Network did not return a request for comment.

Defense attorney Jeff Anderson and victims advocate Barbara Blaine both said they believed Burdge’s story, but there was little they could do. Reinboldt was dead, and the Illinois statute of limitations had expired decades earlier.

“We didn’t have any way to expose him or do anything with it,” said Blaine, who leads SNAP, the Survivor Network of those Abused by Priests.

Anderson said at least one other person had come to him with similar allegations about Hastert.

“I thought the information given to us in the strictest of confidence was credible, was serious and deserved serious attention,” Anderson said. Still, “there was little or nothing that could be done given the information received.”

* From that AP statement

As a scandal involving former Rep. Mark Foley was unfolding in 2006, a person with no firsthand knowledge pointed The Associated Press to Jolene Burdge. On the phone and by email she repeatedly declined to talk about Dennis Hastert and provided no information that would have allowed AP to pursue a story, despite AP’s further efforts to do so at the time.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      

A silly idea

Thursday, Apr 28, 2016

* Yesterday, Gov. Bruce Rauner was asked for his thoughts on a possible special session if he fails yet again to get a budget deal by the end of May. Rauner said he thought the General Assembly could come to an agreement on a two-year budget deal along with elements of his Turnaround Agenda by the end of May, then said

“If we have to go into special sessions, we’ll deal with that at the time. I don’t want taxpayers to be charged for it. I would seriously consider - we’re discussing this within our administration - me paying for it personally, so the taxpayers don’t have to if special sessions have to be called. We should not let this go past May 31st.”

* The SJ-R looks at recent history

Last year, the legislature worked past its May 31 adjournment in an attempt to reach a budget agreement. But since the extended session wasn’t a special session called by the governor, lawmakers did not receive per diem pay, which stops after May 31.

“There was just a mechanism the House used last year to keep the legislature in continuous session, and I don’t think the term special session ever came up,” said Steve Brown, spokesman to House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago.

The current per diem amount for legislators is $111 per session day, which would cost the state $19,647 daily if every lawmaker accepted the pay. However, some lawmakers are unwilling to accept per diems in overtime sessions, and some don’t accept it year-round.

So, the only way it would likely cost taxpayers much of anything would be if Rauner forced everyone back to town. And Rauner has admitted in the past that such a thing doesn’t really work. The only way it works is if everybody is ready to cut a deal. But then you don’t really need an official special session. They can just come back for a couple of days, vote and then go home.

* Meanwhile, Rauner’s not the only person calling attention to his massive personal wealth

Homeless youth and advocates gathered outside one of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s homes on Thursday, to call attention to the state budget impasse and its impact on programs for the homeless.

The group lined up backpacks outside 340 on the Park, a high-rise condo building across the street from Maggie Daley Park. Rauner owns a condo there, and organizers of the demonstration said the governor uses that condo only for storage.

“We are out here in front of one of Governor Rauner’s nine homes. He owns nine luxury homes, and yet there are thousands of homeless people around the state that have no homes, and the only places that they have to stay are in jeopardy,” said Julie Dworkin, policy director for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

The 25 backpacks they laid out on the sidewalk represent the 25,000 homeless children in Illinois. For homeless youth, backpacks often carry everything they own.

Maybe his money would be put to better use by helping those kids.

- Posted by Rich Miller   50 Comments      

AG Madigan wants GA to eliminate statute of limitations for felony criminal sexual assault and sexual abuse crimes against children

Thursday, Apr 28, 2016

* In the wake of Dennis Hastert’s sentencing yesterday, this press release landed in my in-box…

Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA) [yesterday] called on Illinois lawmakers to eliminate the statute of limitations for felony criminal sexual assault and sexual abuse crimes against children.

Madigan and ICASA’s Executive Director Polly Poskin have long supported the removal of the current statute of limitations for sexual assault crimes against children. Illinois law should allow children who have been victims of sexual assault and abuse the time to come forward and report their crimes. Survivors of sexual assault crimes during their childhood should be afforded the time it takes to process their assault and come forward to report their crimes to authorities.

“Sexual assault continues to be pervasive in society, affecting far too many children and families across Illinois,” said Madigan. “When a prosecutor cannot indict an offender for these heinous acts because the statute of limitations has run, it raises serious moral, legal and ethical questions. We have long supported extending the time period for prosecutors to file sexual assault and abuse charges, and we urge the Legislature to eliminate the statute of limitations on all sex crimes involving children.”

“What is most important in these cases - the offense or the time that has passed?” Polly Poskin said. “If people understood the devastating and debilitating impact that sex crimes have on someone, then they would understand why it’s so hard to step forward, especially when the perpetrator is someone in a position of trust, like a teacher or coach. These victims need justice in order to heal – even decades after the

Your thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   78 Comments      

Caption contest!

Thursday, Apr 28, 2016

* Umm…

- Posted by Rich Miller   48 Comments      

A very weird and specific law applies only to one county clerk

Thursday, Apr 28, 2016

* Brittany Hilderbrand at the Illinois Times

Despite the criticism he encountered as a result of running out of ballots during the presidential primary election in March, [Sangamon County Clerk Don Gray], a Republican, still has no Democratic opposition in the upcoming general election. Part of the reason is a quirk in state law that requires the county clerk of Sangamon County to receive training and certification as a township property assessor. Democrats may have trouble finding a candidate who qualifies.

The county clerk’s mistaken assumptions on the necessary number of ballots to print for the election, at least by some accounts, cost some registered voters their votes in one of the highest-turnout primaries held in the state. Others got to vote at the expense of their time and frustration.

For example, the State Journal-Register reported that 17-year-old Jacob Crawford was one of many registered voters who were told that Grace Bible Chapel was out of ballots and that he should go to the county building to cast his vote, a seven-mile drive. Two hours later, Crawford was finally able to vote. State law allows 17-year-olds to vote in a primary election if they will be 18 by the following general election. […]

The Illinois Township Code asserts that for any township within any city that has a population of more than 50,000 people, the county clerk shall be the ex-officio township assessor. Capital Township is the only place this rule applies in the entire state of Illinois.

The Illinois Property Tax Code requires that to become certified as the township assessor, a candidate must fulfill one of six qualifications prior to filing for candidacy. The possible qualifications include becoming a certified Illinois assessing officer, a certified assessment evaluator or having a professional designation. Completion of the classes can take anywhere from three months to a year. This could make it difficult to find a qualified candidate to run for the County Clerk position in time for the election in November. The required classes are offered through the Illinois Property Assessment Institute and the Illinois Department of Revenue. […]

Another attempt to consolidate townships occurred April 21, when the Senate passed a bill that would eliminate township clerks, assessors, collectors, highway commissioners, supervisors or trustees. Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, sponsored the bill, calling on the House to pass the bill and Gov. Bruce Rauner to sign it. If the bill were to become law, it would ultimately eliminate Gray’s role as the township assessor.

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      

Today’s quotable

Thursday, Apr 28, 2016

* Tribune

“I’ve been watching as members in the General Assembly have been meeting. I’m not privy to all their conversations, I have not personally attended all the meetings,” Rauner said. “But I hear reports, I hear rumors, I hear some feedback from members of the General Assembly. And I am seeing more excitement and more optimism within the rank and file saying ‘you know, this has gone on too long. Everybody is going to have to come off their positions, and some of their hardest positions, and come up with some middle ground.’ I’m hearing that on a level I haven’t heard before. And so that makes me optimistic.”

* More Trib

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Wednesday sought to strike an optimistic tone that a “grand compromise” with Democrats can be reached by May 31 to end the unprecedented budget impasse that’s threatened universities, caused havoc for groups that care for the vulnerable and led to a large stack of unpaid bills.

Whether Rauner’s optimism has a basis in reality was at best unclear, however. […]

But it’s an election year, and both sides are trying to pin blame on the other for the mess at the Capitol. By broadcasting he’s open to a deal, Rauner is seeking to avoid blame as an obstructionist should an agreement remain elusive.

It’s not the first time Rauner has declared he’s “cautiously optimistic” about a pending deal. He said as much nearly a year ago, though those talks quickly fell apart. His optimism has since wavered depending on whether he’s in attack mode.

Subscribers know more.

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      

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Thursday, Apr 28, 2016

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* Reader comments closed until April 2
* Quick hits before vacation
* Heads up!
* First-day whiplash in mayor's race
* Pritzker hit on taxes
* Even Trib tires of "Because... Madigan!"
* What goes around eventually comes around
* Londrigan turns to face Davis
* *** UPDATED x1 - DGA follows suit *** Pritzker uses Ives in new video
* Illinois House Bill HB 4900 is Unconstitutional
* Rauner on the hustings
* Quote of the week
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* The natives are getting restless
* Yesterday's stories

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