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Friday, Jun 24, 2016

* RIP Ralph Stanley

Won’t you spare me over ’til another year?

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


CUB Poll: 84% Oppose Exelon Bailout - Solar Poll: 81% Oppose Demand Charges

Friday, Jun 24, 2016

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

CUB’s poll asked:

 “Exelon says keeping its nuclear plants open will fight climate change—and they need economic help. Opponents say Exelon just wants bigger profits.

 Should Illinois give unprofitable nuclear plants more money if it helps fight climate change?” 

              No: 84%

              Yes: 16%

 

Solar’s poll asked:

 Should electric utilities be allowed to “add a demand charge to household electric bills, which would require people to pay a new fee if they use too many electric appliances at the same time in any half hour period of the month.”

             Total Opposed: 81%

            Total in Favor: 15%

Illinois still has no budget, the state’s finances and services are in shambles, the social safety net is being decimated but Exelon STILL wants the Legislature to pass a huge rate increase to bail out nukes and pad Exelon’s profits.

Just say no to the Exelon Bailout.

 www.noexelonbailout.com

BEST Coalition is a 501C4 nonprofit group of dozens of business, consumer and government groups, as well as large and small businesses. Visit www.noexelonbailout.com.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - New cable TV buys and fundraiser calendar

Friday, Jun 24, 2016

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Question of the day

Friday, Jun 24, 2016

* AP

The Illinois Secretary of State’s decision not to send license plate renewal reminders has earned the state more than twice the amount of late fees so far this year compared to last year.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports that so far this year the state has collected $9.5 million in late license plate fees, compared with $4.3 million during the same period last year. Illinois Secretary of State’s spokesman Dave Druker says there have been about 476,550 late fees collected so far this year compared with about 214,500 during the same time last year.

The state stopped sending renewal notices in the mail in October, saying it couldn’t afford the $450,000 in monthly postage costs due to the lack of a state budget.

* The Question: Any other “positives” to emerge from this impasse? Snark is heavily encouraged, of course.

- Posted by Rich Miller   59 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - Friends of the Parks responds *** Lucas pulls plug on museum

Friday, Jun 24, 2016

* He’s been unsuccessfully trying to give this thing away for years, first to San Francisco, now to Chicago

The Lucas Museum saga in Chicago has ended.

Lucas Museum officials announced Friday they are dropping plans to build the project in Chicago, ending months of debate and controversy.

Plans to build the museum housing a collection of “Star Wars” creator George Lucas’ art collection have been on hold since November 2014, when the group Friends of the Parks filed a federal lawsuit blocking construction. The parks group argues the museum plans violate the public trust doctrine, benefit a private interest more than the state’s residents and tarnish the city’s lakefront.

Lucas selected Chicago after plans to build the museum in San Francisco were rejected. Lucas’ wife, financial executive Mellody Hobson, is a Chicago native.

* Press release…

The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art announced today that in light of extensive delays caused by Friends of the Parks, Chicago will no longer be considered a potential site for the museum. The board of directors and executive leadership of the museum confirmed that California will be its future home.

“No one benefits from continuing their seemingly unending litigation to protect a parking lot,” said George W. Lucas, founder and chairman of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. “The actions initiated by Friends of Parks and their recent attempts to extract concessions from the city have effectively overridden approvals received from numerous democratically elected bodies of government.”

The location — a parking lot near Soldier Field — was originally selected by Chicago’s Site Selection Task Force in May 2014 and subsequently approved by the City Council, Park District, Plan Commission, Department of Zoning, Illinois General Assembly and the governor. When the city offered McCormick Place East as an alternative to the parking lot, Friends of the Parks announced plans to block consideration of that location as well as any lakefront site or park in Chicago.

On behalf of his wife, Mellody Hobson, and other members of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art Board of Directors, Mr. Lucas expressed gratitude to the many people throughout the community who worked tirelessly to bring the institution to life on Chicago’s Museum Campus. “We are deeply appreciative to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Governor Bruce Rauner and countless others for all the time and effort they invested in trying to secure the museum for Chicago,” said Mr. Lucas.

The education-focused public institution remains dedicated to expanding public understanding and appreciation of narrative art in all its forms, providing inspiration and learning, especially for young people.

Mr. Lucas stated, “While Chicago will not be home to the museum, my wife and I will continue to enthusiastically support a wide variety of educational and cultural activities throughout the city.”

* Mayor Emanuel…

“Two years ago to the day, George Lucas and Mellody Hobson announced that they had chosen Chicago as the site of their incredible legacy investment. The opportunity for a City to gain a brand new museum is rare, and this particular opportunity – a gift worth approximately $1.5 billion – would have been the largest philanthropic contribution in Chicago’s history.

Unfortunately, time has run out and the moment we’ve consistently warned about has arrived – Chicago’s loss will be another city’s gain. This missed opportunity has not only cost us what will be a world-class cultural institution, it has cost thousands of jobs for Chicago workers, millions of dollars in economic investment and countless educational opportunities for Chicago’s youth.

Despite widespread support of the project from Chicago’s cultural, business, labor, faith and community leaders and the public, a legal challenge filed by Friends of the Parks threatened to derail this once-in-a-generation opportunity.

We tried to find common ground to resolve the lawsuit – the sole barrier preventing the start of the museum’s construction. But despite our best efforts to negotiate a common solution that would keep this tremendous cultural and economic asset in Chicago, Friends of the Parks chose to instead negotiate with themselves while Lucas negotiated with cities on the West Coast.”

*** UPDATE ***  Friends of the Parks

It is unfortunate that the Lucas Museum has made the decision to leave Chicago rather than locate the museum on one of the several alternative sites that are not on Chicago’s lakefront. That would have been the true win-win.

- Posted by Rich Miller   86 Comments      


“Dead. Yes, dead.”

Friday, Jun 24, 2016

* Press release…

A top Illinois mental health advocacy group has sent Governor Bruce Rauner a letter urging him to sign a human services stopgap budget bill sitting on his desk and pointed to a drug overdose death linked to the state’s 12-month budget impasse.

In the letter delivered to Rauner on Thursday (copy here), Community Behavioral Healthcare Association CEO Marvin Lindsey noted that waiting lists at community-based mental health and drug treatment providers now stand at 12 to 200 individuals per month and that an “overdose death” had occurred to someone on the list.

“Regarding the waiting list, many of these individuals usually end up in more expensive emergency rooms, hospital inpatient faculties, jails or, even, dead. Yes, dead,” Lindsey wrote. “In one instance for example, since the budget impasse began, a parent called a substance use provider to tell the agency that they could remove her son from the waiting list because he had died from an overdose.”

Lindsey says that the year-long stalemate between Rauner and the Illinois General Assembly “has crippled” the state mental health and drug treatment services.

“The failure of behavioral healthcare community providers to receive payments over the past 11 ½ months on signed Department of Human Services FY 2016 contracts has crippled Illinois’ behavioral healthcare system,” Lindsey wrote.

In addition to general waiting lists, a June 15-20, 2016 survey of the Association’s 65 members throughout Illinois revealed broad service cuts and more than $85 million in unpaid and delayed bills to the group’s providers.

    73%of community mental health and substance use treatment and prevention providers have been force to shut down programs or reduce services.
    76% of individuals seeking to see a psychiatrist have wait times ranging from 2 to 4 months, while 24% have wait times that range from 4 months to more than 6 months.
    The state owes CBHA members (65) an estimated $85,536,267 for services rendered under the FY 16 contract and delayed Medicaid payments.

“The ongoing budget dispute has financially starved local behavioral healthcare providers,” Lindsey said. “Our agencies and the people that they serve need a lifeline.”

Lindsey is urging the governor to sign a human services stopgap budget measure, SB 2038, that has been lingering on his desk since May 18.

“We urge you to sign SB 2038,” Lindsey wrote. “We also understand that the money contained in the emergency funding legislation is only a temporary solution. Like you, we agree that the General Assembly needs to continue to work to find a permanent FY’16 and FY’17 budget solution.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      


Radogno shares some deets on stopgap, blames Chicago for holdup

Friday, Jun 24, 2016

* From a memo to Senate Republicans…

TO: Senate Republican Colleagues
FROM: Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno
DATE: June 24, 2016
RE: Stopgap Budget Proposal

Dear Colleagues,

As both the House and the Senate prepare to return to Springfield next week, with only days to go before the end of the fiscal year, I wanted to update you on the status of the negotiations on a stopgap budget proposal.

When it became abundantly clear that the Democrats in the legislature had walked away from budget negotiations at the end of session, Republicans introduced a fiscally responsible stopgap budget to fund essential government operations. This stopgap was not designed to be a solution to our state’s fiscal problems; it’s simply designed to run government operations through December 31, 2016.

In the last few days, the four legislative caucuses and the Governor’s Office have worked diligently to negotiate the stopgap proposal, leading to compromise solutions for almost all of the identified disagreements.

The proposed solution will allow the state to appropriate all federal funds. It also utilizes funds where cash will actually be available. That means there are real resources behind the appropriations, unlike the $7 billion out of balance budget plan passed by Democrats in the House in May.

The stopgap ensures road construction will not be interrupted and that projects for Water and Wastewater can continue without delay. Additionally, it includes funding for emergency repairs at state facilities to protect the public safety and taxpayer assets, and funding for school construction.

It also drives $1 billion in real resources to higher education to ensure that public universities and community colleges can stay open through the fall and includes funding for the Monetary Award Program (MAP) to fund the spring semester of MAP awards.

More than $600 million for social services programs from the Commitment to Human Services Fund has been included to drive much-needed resources to human services providers.

And we’ve agreed to include funding from the Rainy Day Fund to address the critical life, health, and safety operational needs of state government so that food, utilities and medicine continue to be delivered to our state prisons, mental health hospitals and veterans’ homes.  This will also allow the state to continue to purchase fuel for state troopers on the highways, IDOT trucks on the roads during construction season, and snow plows and salt trucks on the roads during the winter months.

The only difference that remains is whether or not the state should force suburban and downstate taxpayers to bailout Chicago Public Schools.

Republicans continue to advocate for the Governor’s proposal to fully fund the foundation level for first time in seven years with the addition of a hold harmless provision, so that no school district receives less money from the state than they did last year, and an additional $75 million for early childhood education. This would represent a historic level of funding for Illinois schools.

In the case of Chicago Public Schools, under this plan they would actually receive more money than they did last year, despite having fewer children enrolled.

Yet despite this, Democrats are continuing to pursue yet another fiscally irresponsible bailout, of at least $400 million, for Chicago Public Schools at the expense of suburban and downstate taxpayers.

I remain hopeful that all sides will continue to negotiate in good faith so that we don’t enter another fiscal year without providing the Governor with the spending authority he needs to ensure government operations can continue. I will keep you updated as these talks continue and look forward to seeing you next week in Springfield.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      


Maybe this will convince Democrats to cut a deal?

Friday, Jun 24, 2016

* Greg Hinz

“If I can get a part of what I want here, I’ll hit the road” and promote Illinois’ benefits around the world, [Gov. Bruce Rauner] said.

He also said

“I will travel much more… If we can get part of what we’re advocating done, I will live on the road a lot… I’m not going to charge taxpayers, but I’m going to travel around the country, I’m going to travel around the world - China, Germany, UK, Japan, Korea.”

Paging Speaker Madigan!

- Posted by Rich Miller   45 Comments      


Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong

Friday, Jun 24, 2016

* Good point…


A year ago, the governor called it “leverage“…

“Crisis creates opportunity. Crisis creates leverage to change … and we’ve got to use that leverage of the crisis to force structural change,” said Rauner

And he’s tried mightily to do just that. Ever since he made those remarks to the Tribune editorial board (which somehow “forgot” all about them), the governor has been using the lack of a budget to leverage concessions from the Democrats on his Turnaround Agenda. He is convinced he is right, even though permanent damage has been done to the state.

The Democrats are now using the lack of a budget (specifically, money for bureaucratic operations and road construction) to leverage some help for Chicago’s school system and probably other schools which are in crisis (you likely can’t just help one without the others or you endanger your suburban and Downstate targets and may not be able to pass the bill). They don’t want their schools hurt, so they believe they’re right.

It’s simply maddening.

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      


Another way Chicago is behind the times

Friday, Jun 24, 2016

* Chicago Reporter

The stories behind Chicago’s police settlements often begin in ordinary moments. Riding a bike. Attending a barbecue. Watching TV.

They often end in extraordinary circumstances, according to the lawsuits. An 11-year-old with a gun placed at her temple. A grandmother arrested for battery to a police officer. A young man shocked unconscious by a Taser.

Most of these cases conclude as they occurred – outside of the public glare. People know about the high-profile police shootings of civilians and the multimillion-dollar settlements that result. But most cases are lesser known and settle for far less. Half of all cases paid out $36,000 or less, but they also contribute to a mounting taxpayer bill that goes largely unchecked by the mayor or City Council.

The City of Chicago spent more than $210 million for police misconduct lawsuits from 2012 to 2015, according to a Chicago Reporter analysis. It spent almost $53 million more on outside attorneys to litigate the cases. The Police Department exceeded its annual budget for lawsuits by almost $50 million, on average, in each of those years.

Yet, unlike some other major cities, Chicago doesn’t analyze the lawsuits for trends, identify the officers most frequently sued, or determine ways to reduce both the cost of the cases and officer misconduct.

Ugh.

* NYC does analyze lawsuits for trends

In New York, before anybody can sue the city or receive a settlement, state law requires him first to submit a notice of claim. It includes basic information such as when, where and how the offense happened. The notices are filed with [New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s] office, where staff members enter the information into a database for analysis. The data are posted on a website, and Stringer releases detailed reports annually, with updates every few months aimed at helping agencies figure out how to drive down costs.

The comptroller’s office said it has been able to link cuts to the city’s tree-pruning budget to increases in tree-related claims and prove that a public hospital in Brooklyn has more medical malpractice claims than others in New York City.

One of the most important uses of the claims, according to Stringer, is sharing precinct-level-data with the New York Police Department to bolster the agency’s new risk management bureau, formed last year to help identify patterns of misconduct and mitigate risks that result in lawsuits. But Stringer cannot force the department to incorporate the data into its early warning system, which targets individual police officers accused of misconduct.

Claims data is more useful in finding trends in specific neighborhoods than it is in identifying the behavior of individual officers. Sometimes people don’t know the names of the police officers they are accusing of misconduct.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


More on that Cullerton meeting

Friday, Jun 24, 2016

* We talked earlier this week about Senate President John Cullerton’s not so pleasant meeting with school parents when he attempted to shift all the blame to Gov. Bruce Rauner. The Tribune editorial board has more

“It seems like that was the Democratic playbook. I’m a Democrat. I’m about as far left as you can get. But he just kept pivoting to the governor,” says Jeff Jenkins, a member of the Coonley local school council. “We know the governor isn’t doing us any favors. That said, he’s been there 18 months and (Cullerton) has been there 37 years and (House Speaker Michael Madigan) 45 years, and so for 80-plus years, you’ve been running the state.” […]

When a member of the Coonley audience raised the longevity issue, Cullerton got defensive, according to Jenkins, who was sitting next to him. Cullerton reminded the audience that he had “volunteered to be here.” That didn’t go over well either.

“He was rolling his eyes,” Jenkins said. “He was dismissive of people. He offered no practical solutions. He said it wouldn’t be helpful if they were in Springfield working.

“This was an audience that could have been his greatest allies. But people were flabbergasted that he came in the way he did. Most people had never met Cullerton before. I’m sure they’ve all voted for him in the past.”

Ouch.

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      


Creating a workaround for new CPS debt?

Friday, Jun 24, 2016

* AlderTrack

On Wednesday, City Treasurer Kurt Summers proposed an ordinance to City Council that would impose striking new changes to the city’s investment policy allowing the City of Chicago to purchase debt issued by sister agencies like Chicago Public Schools.

The proposed changes, introduced by Mayor Rahm Emanuel at the request of Treasurer Summers, would allow the city to invest in “tax anticipation warrants, municipal bonds, notes, commercial paper or other instruments representing a debt obligation” from sister agencies, including the Chicago Board of Education, the Chicago Housing Authority, the Chicago Park District, the Chicago Transit Authority, and the City Colleges of Chicago. Officials from the Treasurer’s office would not comment on the record about whether the move was designed to float CPS during its fiscal crisis.

For the city to invest in bonds for the state, any other county, township, or school district outside of Chicago, the bonds must meet certain requirements, including a rating of at least A-, a maturity of no more than 30 years, and cannot exceed 25% of the total holdings across all funds. The same limitations would not be true for sister agency investments, according to the new proposed rules.

The Board of Education’s most recent ratings from Moody’s are four levels below junk status, which led to an extraordinarily high 8.5% interest rate when it hit the open market in February.

According to the same official from the Treasurer’s Office, there are no limits to the type of sale either, meaning the city can also buy the debt through a private or “over the counter” sale, rather than just on the open market. CPS would be able to issue debt of its own, at potentially a much lower interest rate than the open market would fetch, because it could have a guaranteed buyer in the City of Chicago.

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


Settlement talks in Duckworth case “initiated by the judge”

Friday, Jun 24, 2016

* Pearson

Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk’s re-election campaign on Thursday slammed Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth for seeking a pretrial settlement conference in a civil lawsuit stemming from her time heading the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.

But the settlement conference, scheduled for Friday in Downstate Union County, was “initiated by the judge” and not Duckworth, said a spokeswoman for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who is representing the congresswoman in the case.

“He strongly encouraged it,” Madigan spokeswoman Maura Possley said of the trial judge in the case, Mark Boie. Judges in civil matters routinely set conferences in front of other judges in hopes a settlement can be reached before it goes to trial.

Duckworth, a two-term congresswoman, is scheduled to face a civil trial in August for alleged workplace retaliation involving two workers at the Anna Veterans Home. Duckworth has said she wanted the truth to come out but has declined discussing specifics because of the pending litigation.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


Hostage dies

Friday, Jun 24, 2016

* Dewitt Daily News

Another DeWitt County resource has announced an end to their services due to the lack of the state budget.

PATH Senior Services, which provides various forms of assistance to local seniors, will end their services effective immediately in DeWitt, McLean and Livingston Counties. According to Executive Director of PATH, Karen Zangerle, this cut is going to impact a number of vital services for seniors. Because of this, PATH Senior Services at the DeWitt County Friendship Center will cease.

* Meanwhile, the media is finally starting to catch up on that United Way survey from two days ago, but the largest outlets are still ignoring it…

* Survey: Budget impasse has cut off services for 1 million

* Survey: Nearly 1 million human service clients affected by budget impasse

* One Million Without Services Thanks To Budget Impasse

* Editorial: Agencies reaching point of no return over budget mess

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


Close on 6-month stopgap, not there yet on K-12

Friday, Jun 24, 2016

* As subscribers know, the Rauner administration has agreed to do these three things

Rauner on Thursday said Democrats have made “tweaks” to the temporary budget bill proposed by Republicans, asking for more money for MAP grants and human services. Rauner’s administration also indicated Democrats are asking for more higher education funding, in addition to funding for MAP grants.

Subscribers also know how they’re going to pay for them.

* But, as I told you yesterday

Rauner said it’s “not fair” for suburban and Downstate taxpayers to foot the bill for CPS’ financial problems. Asked if he would sign a stopgap funding bill that included a CPS bailout, Rauner replied, “absolutely no.”

“What we’ve been told from the other side is that they’re willing to work out with us the stopgap budget, that we’re close,” Rauner said Thursday after speaking at a business banquet in downtown Chicago. “But what they’ve also made crystal clear is that Chicago’s public schools need a bailout, want a bailout, and they’re going to hold up everything in these budgets, in these negotiations, for Chicago Public Schools to get a bailout. That’s not fair.”

* Counter

[Speaker Madigan’s press secretary Steve Brown] dismissed Rauner’s assertion, saying that “no one’s talking about bailouts” to CPS.

* Rauner was asked yesterday at the Crain’s editorial board meeting if he would support any extra money for CPS beyond what he’s already proposed, which is level funding with this fiscal year

“No (more money),” Rauner said. “That’s just rewarding bad behavior at the expense of the suburbs and downstate.”

The fact is, CPS bureaucracy is “bloated and inefficient” and the agency has “squandered” its resources, Rauner said. And with the city property-tax base rising and the number of CPS students dropping, they normally should get less state aid, not more

“They created their own crisis,” Rauner concluded, sharply disputing CPS officials who say a system that mostly serves poor minority students long has been short changed. And with city property taxes lower than in many suburbs, Emanuel has that option if he doesn’t like bankruptcy, the governor said.

A Rauner aide later suggested that more money for all schools, not just CPS might be found if new revenues are obtained, but Democrats don’t want to talk about a tax hike until after the elections.

* Instead of more money, he wants CPS to declare bankruptcy

“They could have CPS reorganize their debts and their contracts under a bankruptcy in front of a judge, reorganize their obligations,” Rauner said. “That’s not a terrible thing, it wouldn’t have to result in any layoffs.” […]

“Governor Rauner is itching to subject Chicago students to his old slash-and-burn corporate takeover tactics, decimating our schools and cheating teachers of their pensions – when he should be providing adequate and equitable funding,” said CPS spokesperson Emily Bittner. “We’ll keep fighting to make sure that Governor Rauner can’t avoid his responsibility to fund schools around the state and protect our children’s futures.”

Mayor Emanuel also criticized the governor’s suggestion, and for recently comparing Chicago Public Schools to prisons.

“Do we give that child at a better tomorrow, or run them down and say that they’re in prisons?” Emanuel asked Thursday. “I am tired of this. This child is not a prisoner in a prison.

* And

As to how exactly the process would work: the district would go before a bankruptcy judge with all of its creditors – such as people who hold debt, and pensioners, etc. – and all parties would have to work out a path forward, establishing essentially who gets paid what. It isn’t the judge that would unilaterally determine that.

The negotiations could get contentious, especially with retirees and how ironclad the state constitution is on the protection of pensions. The Better Government Assoication told “Chicago Tonight” that CPS could actually come out in worse shape than it entered. That’s because the purpose of bankruptcy is to make sure creditors are paid as much as they can get out of it – the whole purpose of educating children could get lost in the mix. It also means CPS may never have future access to capital markets.

Another expert told us that only two school districts, and very tiny ones at that, have gone through Chapter 9 bankruptcy in the last 60 years, and he says it was not a successful endeavor.

The General Assembly would have to pass a law to allow CPS to go bankrupt, something that is highly unlikely to happen.

- Posted by Rich Miller   61 Comments      


« NEWER POSTS PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Study: Illinois has 8th most regressive state and local tax system
* Kanye West contributes to Chance-backed mayoral candidate Amara Enyia
* More dissonance on Rauner's right flank
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Fundraiser lists and a supplement to today's edition
* Rauner's minority hiring record checked, and new ads from both candidates on race
* Gov. Ricketts?
* Raoul heads into home stretch with new negative spot
* Question of the day
* Gov. Rauner campaigns with "extreme" Republican in Lake County
* Illinois Credit Unions: Giving Back to the Communities We Serve
* Downstate newspapers appear to be picking the lesser of two evils
* Caption contest!
* *** UPDATED x2 *** Plaintiffs holding press conference today
* Maybe have a long chat with the governor about this?
* Pritzker campaign touts party-building money
* Learn from this, please
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