Questions about whether U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin would run for governor in 2018 bubbled up at the Democratic Party convention this week.
“It’s a question about where I can best spend my life. Where can I achieve the goals that I want in public life? If I can do it in Washington and I feel I can be more effective there, of course that’s where I’ll stay,” Durbin told the Daily Herald about a potential run for governor — back in 2000.
He would go on to win re-election in 2002.
“I won’t make the final decision for some time now,” he said at the 2000 convention in comments that reflect what he’s said this week. “I want to focus on this election campaign first.”
* I was just talking to Anders Lindall at AFSCME about a story that wasn’t panning out and he asked me if I’d heard that Jamey Johnson was playing at the Du Quoin State Fair this year. I hadn’t, but it’s true. He’s playing Friday, September 2nd at the grandstand.
Looks like I’m gonna be hauling the camper down ‘yonder this year.
* Love me some Jamey, man. As he sings in one of his songs, his music and attitude is somewhere between Waylon Jennings and George Jones. Let’s take a little break from the weirdness and have a listen…
Started burning our candles
Both ends and the middle
A bunch of roaring outlaws at high speed
* Also, you may know that Anders used to be a music critic for the Chicago Sun-Times. He wrote a piece not long ago about a rising country star from an AFSCME family from the same town where one of my brothers used to live. It’s definitely worth a read…
One of the brightest new country music stars in Nashville comes from an AFSCME union family right here in Illinois.
With her debut album Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, Margo Price has landed a guest spot on “Saturday Night Live”, a video on CMT, and a rave review in Rolling Stone, which called her “undeniable” and compared her to Loretta Lynn.
But what looks like a rocket ride to stardom is really the latest twist in a long road that started in Aledo, Ill., southwest of the Quad Cities, where Margo and her sisters were raised by mom Candace and dad Duane. He worked for 25 years in Illinois prisons, first as a correctional officer at East Moline, where he was a member of AFSCME Local 46, and then as a lieutenant at Hill Correctional Center (Local 1274). Duane was a PEOPLE contributor and after his retirement in 2010 joined AFSCME Retirees.
Maura Possley: Yes. We worked with a judge on June 24 and reached a final settlement.
Me: so, they can’t back out?
MP: It’s typical practice that after finalizing a settlement, the parties sign our standard form. If a plaintiff declines to sign the form, that does not change whether the agreement is final.
Me: did these plaintiffs sign the form?
MP: No, they haven’t signed it yet, but that happens occasionally. It’s just a form. We’ve seen the stories in the press, but that doesn’t change that we have a final settlement agreement.
Me: but can they back out of it?
* Meanwhile, this is from the Kirk campaign…
This seems to be a rather large discrepancy. Why would they say it only covered legal fees when clearly payment for damages were offered. Did McGrath and AG office discuss how to communicate the settlement? AG have a statement on this?
The AG Said The Settlement Was Only To Cover Attorney Fees And Was Worth $26,000. After a trial judge initiated a settlement conference, the case on Friday was settled for $26,000 to cover attorney fees and all costs, according to the Illinois Attorney General’s office, which represents state officials sued in their official capacities. (Tina Sfondeles And Lynn Sweet, “Lawsuit against Duckworth settled—but Kirk not letting it go,” Chicago Sun-Times, 6/24/16)
The Plaintiff’s Say The AG Failed To Mention The Settlement Covered Attorney’s Fees And $9,000 To Go To Each Plaintiff For A Total Of $40,000.The original settlement offer was reported to be around $26,000, with the attorney general’s office paying for the employees’ attorney fees and other court costs. But Butler and Goins said the offer really was more like $40,000, with $21,000 of that sum paying for attorney’s fees and another $9,000 provided to each plaintiff. (Kerry Lester, “Women reject settlement in Duckworth workplace retaliation lawsuit,” Daily Herald, 7/27/16)
The attorney general’s office reached out to me after I posted that initial settlement story to tell me that the settlement involved more than just attorney fees and costs. But, as I recall, it was late in the day and I was swamped with something or another and didn’t get around to posting it. My bad.
* A Democratic state Representative attends a Republican governor’s event in her own district, applauds politely at the end of his speech and then this happens…
A Confused Kate Cloonen Stumbles into Governor Rauner’s Term Limits Event
Yet Cloonen continues to back Mike Madigan’s rigged system
Yesterday, Governor Bruce Rauner held an event in Kankakee advocating for term limits on elected officials in Springfield – a cumulative 10 years for State Representatives and Senators and 8 years for statewide elected officials, including Governor Rauner himself.
Democrat State Rep. Kate Cloonen, a vocal opponent of term limits, attended the event and applauded Governor Rauner as he concluded his remarks, but has remained silent on his term limits initiative. Why did Cloonen attend the Governor’s event?
Has Cloonen changed her mind on term limits?
Does she support Governor Rauner’s term limits initiative?
Does she still back Mike Madigan’s rigged system?
Was she playing Candy Crush and her attendance was by pure happenstance?
Is she politically calculating?
Is she just confused?
And what is she telling her constituents?…
“Kate Cloonen continues to support Mike Madigan’s rigged system,” said Aaron DeGroot, spokesman for the Illinois Republican Party. “For years, she has opposed term limits, but her attendance at the Governor’s event is a bit perplexing. Could it be that she tells her constituents one thing while doing another in Springfield? Cloonen has remained silent on the initiative, but her constituents deserve an answer. Does Kate Cloonen support Governor Rauner’s term limits initiative or not?”
Rauner will be meeting with Democrats from the Legislature in Chicago on Thursday to talk about what is needed in the upcoming budget.
Interesting, especially since many Democratic legislators are either in Philadelphia or out walking precincts today. But, hey, it’s a good thing if true.
* I asked reporter Doug Wilson if Gov. Rauner disclosed who he was meeting with…
No. The question was about whether there have been ongoing negotiations about what will follow the stopgap budget. Rauner started by saying that most lawmakers are more focused on their own elections, but then he said he was returning to Chicago on Wednesday night and would be meeting Thursday with some legislators to talk about the budget.
No word yet from the governor’s office about who he’s seeing today. I’ll let you know if they ever respond.
Daily Public Schedule: Thursday, July 28, 2016
What: Governor Makes Announcement Regarding Transformation at Illinois Lottery
Where: James R. Thompson Center – Blue Room
100 W. Randolph, Chicago
Date: Thursday, July 28, 2016
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Live video from our good pals at BlueRoomStream.com is here.
Sneed hears rumbles Diana Rauner, wife of Gov. Bruce Rauner — who has been hammered on all sides for his conservative reins on the state’s finances — wants out.
• Translation: Sneed is told Diana, who has been ramrodding privately funded reconstruction of the state’s ancient pile known as the governor’s mansion — as well as managing a large family and successful marriage — has told close friends she hopes her husband doesn’t run again.
• Explanation: The state’s first lady is tired of the nasty spotlight since the inauguration of her hugely wealthy husband in January 2015. […]
“The Rauners have a good marriage and six kids, but all the criticism being lobbed at her husband — as well as a job which doesn’t leave a lot of time for family time — has to be very difficult,” a Sneed source said.
Sneed is told the governor spends more time at the Springfield mansion than his wife.
He does, indeed, spend a lot more time in Springfield than Mrs. Rauner, but a top Rauner source says the story is “garbage.”
*** UPDATE *** Gov. Rauner was asked about the story at his press conference this morning…
A Cook County judge today ordered the head of the state health department to reconsider adding irritable bowel syndrome to the list of conditions eligible for treatment with medical marijuana.
Circuit Judge Anna Helen Demacopoulos ruled that Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav D. Shah violated procedural due process rights when he used his own review standard to deny the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board’s recommendation to add IBS to the list.
Beyond that, Demacopoulos ruled, the controlling statute and guidelines that govern Illinois’ medical marijuana program are silent regarding what kind of standard the director can use when issuing final decisions based on board recommendations.
“There is no IDPH rule, nor is there any language in the [Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program] Act, empowering the [d]irector to conduct his own investigation or add materials to the record that were not considered at the hearing,” Demacopoulos wrote in her nine-page memorandum and order.
While it appears Shah employed a standard to consider evidence from “adequate, well controlled clinical trials,” Demacopoulos ruled, it’s a standard the plaintiff did not have a chance to challenge before a decision was made.
“The [d]irector’s supplying of evidence post-hearing indicates demonstrable prejudice to the plaintiff and therefore serves as a basis for reversal,” she wrote.
* Illinois Issues has a new story on the stopgap budget. Most of it has already been covered here, but this is new…
“It’s not even close to being balanced,” says Richard Dye, co-director of the Fiscal Futures Project at the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs. “What was passed was with either optimism or ignorance of what revenues were actually flowing in. So it’s not clear that everything that was approved in the stopgap budget can be funded because the cash flow through the state through the comptroller’s office is just not sufficient.” […]
“I come at this somewhat pessimistically. … It’s hard to be optimistic. Even if there were new revenue sources, are they sufficient to pay down the backlog? Are they sufficient to catch up … the extent to which different agencies have not been funded for a year and a half?”
Dye says he expects that if a budget deal is reached after November, it will rely on accounting gimmicks and push some costs into future years because trying to completely tackle the deficit would be virtually politically impossible. “We really are in a position where things have gotten so bad that we can’t have expectations of taxing and spending levels kind of what they were like in recent years. Things have to change in terms of the nature of government and what people expect to have to pay or expect to get. “
Two women suing Representative Tammy Duckworth, the Democratic nominee for Senate in Illinois, rejected an agreed upon settlement offer on Wednesday, forcing the case to go to trial next month, according to the Daily Herald.
The timing is unfortunate for Duckworth, who is running to unseat Senator Mark Kirk, one of the most vulnerable Republicans up for reelection this year. The formal rejection of the settlement comes the day before Duckworth is set to take the stage at the Democratic National Convention. And per the Herald, the trial will take place on August 15, in the heat of campaign season. […]
Some Democrats suggested the timing of the two women rejecting the lawsuit was suspect, coming the day before Duckworth’s address in Philadelphia.
[Mark Kirk campaign manager Kevin Artl] says the campaign had no discussions with the two plaintiffs about their decision, and says they were under the impression that the whole case had been settled, noting that they had already begun running an ad attacking her for settling. Artl adds that he spoke with the two women by phone in their capacity as whistleblowers, saying they reached out to the campaign after the settlement was announced to tell their story.
* I followed up with Artl…
They reached out to us the week following the announcement of the settlement. They wanted to tell their story. We have talked to many whistleblowers who have felt bullied and ignored by Duckworth.
* Rahm Emanuel: The president’s first chief of staff and the now-mayor of Chicago was a key cog in Obama’s first term. But the celebratory video that led into the president’s speech barely made mention of Rahm — and, when it did, it cast him as the guy saying that the Affordable Care Act couldn’t pass. Not great.
Among the White House achievements championed in the video was the passage of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. However, one of the voices in the video relays that Emanuel, as Chief of Staff during the first two years of Obama’s administration, tried to get him to kill the bill because it would cost him re-election in 2012.
“A lot of people argued the politics were too costly,” former adviser David Axelrod said.
“Rahm Emanuel came to him and said you’re going to have to pull the bill, because if you push this legislation, you will lose in 2012,” another voice said.
However, the video depicts Obama as soldiering on to get it passed, no matter the politics. Obamacare would wind up passing Congress without a single Republican vote before Obama signed it into law.
Dumping on Rahm Emanuel in the authorized Obama video? They must be really convinced Rahm's career is toast.
* Mark Brown: White House not only race on some Chicago delegates’ radar: Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a late arrival Wednesday at the Democratic National Convention, but many of those regarded as possible successors have been on the scene all week.
* ADDED: Democratic National Convention video leaves Emanuel ‘under the bus’
The day before congresswoman Tammy Duckworth is scheduled to deliver a major speech on the main stage at the Democratic National Convention, two women who filed a workplace retaliation suit against her have announced they’re refusing to accept a settlement offer that seemed a done deal just weeks ago.
Now, a trial set to begin Aug. 15 in downstate Jonesboro could serve as an obstacle at an inopportune time for Duckworth as she enters the home stretch of her campaign to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk in a nationally-watched race.
Plaintiffs Denise Goins and Christine Butler told the Daily Herald Wednesday that they were insulted by the Duckworth campaign’s June 24 response to the settlement, with deputy campaign manager Matt McGrath releasing a statement describing the suit as “a frivolous workplace case” that dragged on for more than eight years.
“Within an hour of leaving the courthouse, her campaign decided to swing us through the mud again,” Butler said. “So we emailed our attorney to let him know we want to proceed to trial.”
The women say they received no pressure from the Kirk campaign to reject the settlement offer.
“We are both nonpolitical people. When we initiated the very first formal complaint, we had no idea she had political aspirations,” Butler said. “We would have been happy to be done with it years ago.”
The Duckworth campaign shoulda just kept their mouths closed. They were handed a gift. Oh, well.
On Monday, July 25, Moody’s Managing Director Naomi Richman delivered a speech to the City Club of Chicago concerning that city’s credit rating, which is Ba1 with a negative outlook. We have taken her remarks and presented it here as an FAQ document. The questions and answers are divided into four sections:
Why is Chicago rated so low? Of virtually all the 8,500 local governments across the country that we rate, Chicago has by far the highest unfunded pensions, and its debt load is also very high. The sum of Chicago’s debt and pensions is 9.4 times the city’s operating revenue, versus 2.4 times for the average US city.
What would it take to upgrade Chicago to investment grade? The city’s unfunded pension liability would need to begin to stabilize and decline. The actions the city has taken to date have only enabled their pension problem to get worse at a slower pace.
Why isn’t Chicago rated even lower? Chicago has a very different credit profile than governments that have defaulted on their debt. Chicago’s economy is healthy and growing, unlike other cities that have defaulted where the economies went through a long, steep decline, and where finances were in much worse shape than Chicago’s.
What are we watching? Three key credit questions are on the horizon: how will the city propose to reform the municipal pension plan and how will that affect the pension trajectory; how will pension plan investment earnings compare to the plans’ assumed returns; and how will Chicago Public Schools (CPS - rated B2/negative) resolve its own financial problems.
* Moody’s official: Chicago’s still got time to fix pension problem: Moody’s rates Chicago Ba1, one step below investment grade, and has a negative outlook. Right now, a downgrade is “much more likely” than an upgrade, Richman said. To get on track for an upgrade, the city needs to reverse “the trajectory of the pension problem,” Richman said. Last year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel pushed through a record property tax increase that will shore up public-safety pensions. Investors applauded the move and rallied the bonds. Still, it’s not enough, according to Moody’s. “It’s letting the problem get worse at a slower pace,” Richman said. It would cost Chicago about a $1 billion a year to make the pension smaller the following year, she said. Moody’s recognizes that Emanuel and the City Council inherited fiscal problems, and they are showing a willingness to take on those issues. Plus there are positive signs. Governments that defaulted on their debt like Detroit and Puerto Rico have real differences with Chicago, like the economy, Richman said. “While Chicago’s challenges are very real, very serious, and if pension problem is never addressed you could ultimately get to that brink, we’re not there quite now,” Richman said.
* AUDIO: City Club of Chicago: City of Chicago Finances: Are We on the Brink?
One new law was sparked by the reporting of Daily Herald columnist Jake Griffin and would limit spending on travel for local officials and prohibit using taxpayer money for entertainment costs.
“Illinois has the highest property taxes in the nation,” state Rep. David McSweeney, a Barrington Hills Republican, said of the plan he sponsored. “We need to make sure our tax dollars are being used wisely and we need to reduce property taxes.”
Another new law signed Friday would require counties to write a report for state lawmakers about what local governments they make appointments for. The idea is to try to identify unnecessary local agencies.
“Through our bipartisan work, we have made DuPage County a leader in government consolidation,” state Sen. Tom Cullerton, a Villa Park Democrat, said of his plan. “We know the government needs to evolve with the needs of the people.”
“Illinois has the highest property taxes in the nation,” state Rep. David McSweeney, a Barrington Hills Republican, said of the legislation he sponsored in the House and that Democrat Tom Cullerton of Villa Park sponsored in the Senate. “We need to make sure our tax dollars are being used wisely and we need to reduce property taxes.”
Oftentimes, investigations that reveal frivolous spending, malfeasance or out-and-out criminal ventures start out with the little things, such as restaurant receipts (meals and booze at the Waterleaf restaurant at College of DuPage), or a simple burglary (such as the one at the Watergate Hotel).
In the process, they provide a big help for the public to better manage its money.
The organization that issues workers compensation advisory rates just released their recommendations for 2017. The NCCI says that Illinois employers should see a 12.9% cut in their WC rates next year - the 3rd largest cut in the nation - totaling more than all of our neighboring states combined.
* The Illinois Manufacturers Association disagrees…
“Nothing in the NCCI filing suggests that Illinois is actually closing the gap when it comes to the high cost of workers’ compensation relative to other states. It is abundantly clear that states like Illinois and West Virginia experiencing significant job loss in manufacturing, construction or mining jobs have also witnessed a reduction in indemnity and medical severity costs. However, the actual cost of workers’ compensation in Illinois remains among the highest in the nation.” - Greg Baise
· Largely as the result of the continued loss of good, high-paying jobs in manufacturing and enhanced workplace safety programs, the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) offered an advisory recommendation in Illinois with a reduction.
· It is important to recognize that the advisory 12.9 percent reduction in the overall voluntary rate is separate and distinct from insurance company premiums.
· In 2016, only four states including Illinois, Virginia, Kentucky, and West Virginia have received their NCCI recommendations at this time. Last year, NCCI reviewed 38 states and recommended advisory decreases in 27 states (71 percent). In Illinois, NCCI recommended no change in 2015. This year’s recommended decrease follows the national trend.
· The advisory recommendation does not include self-insured companies and excludes 40 percent of the competitive insurance market that have large deductible policies.
Located near the Museum of Science and Industry, the lakefront and the eastern edge of the University of Chicago campus, the site allows for the creation of a museum campus in the heart of the park, accented by an existing lagoon, lush woods and greenery. The winding 543-acre park is an oasis on the South Side. The center would be a short hop to either Lake Shore Drive or to two Metra train stations, strong pulls for visitors.
Jackson Park’s western edge along Stony Island Avenue connects with Woodlawn, an impoverished African-American neighborhood but one that is beginning to gentrify. And the Hyde Park neighborhood, just north of Woodlawn and surrounding the university, already is booming. […]
The hurdles would have been higher in the neighborhood near Washington Park, where one-third of the land is vacant. Decades ago the area was central to Chicago’s Black Belt, a robust cluster of neighborhoods that drew African-Americans from the South during the Great Migration. During the past half-century the population has plummeted, and nearly half the remaining residents live in poverty in an area plagued by crime.
Washington Park had been the centerpiece of the city’s 2016 Olympic bid — the site for a massive temporary stadium and swimming venue — and many residents believed that endeavor would help turn around their impoverished neighborhood just west of the park. The bid failed in 2009, and now residents of this struggling area must live with a second major disappointment.
Illinois Democrats cast 98 votes for Hillary Clinton and 74 votes for Sanders, with Democratic Party chairman Michael Madigan leading the delegation’s floor announcement.
Illinois is one of only a few states to be seated on the convention floor rather than in the stands. The prime real estate is a nod to Clinton’s Illinois roots, having been born in Chicago and raised in the suburbs.
The votes for Clinton were cast by Betsy Ebeling, an old friend of Clinton’s dating to their school days in Park Ridge. “I know you’re watching, this one’s for you, Hill,” Ebeling said.
House Speaker Madigan handed the mic to Ebeling and the two appeared to be friendly toward each other as Sen. Dick Durbin looked on and smiled.
* But it wasn’t always so. Clinton’s State Department e-mails included several from Ebeling, including this one…
The reliably upbeat friend was dejected in writing to the then-secretary of state on the eve of the 2010 midterm elections, which proved disastrous for Democrats.
Ebeling described an Oct. 26, 2010, get-out-the-vote rally in Chicago headlined by former President Bill Clinton, who is referred to as “WJC” in the emails, for William Jefferson Clinton. Ebeling observed the Democratic campaign in Illinois “is ghostlike.”
The event, she writes, was attended by Sen. Dick Durbin, House Speaker Michael Madigan and state Senate President John Cullerton, among other elected officials.
Tuesday will be such a telling day. On paper there is a co-ordinated Democratic campaign in Illinois–however, it is ghostlike—sort of shimmering in the distance. When WJC was here the other day, they all turned out: Dubrin and “the other guy”, Speaker Madigan, President Cullerton, many electeds and all gathered to have their photos taken with him. What an assembly of power going nowhere—just finger pointing and hiding. Of course, they all smiled for WJC and said they were working hard for the party Is WJC the only one trying? Must be exhausting for him,„and you. Safe
* I missed most of the convention last night because I was having dinner with a friend and got home half way through Bill Clinton’s speech. But others tell me things were pretty quiet in the audience, without all the booing and heckling that happened Monday. The Daily Beast ran a story yesterday afternoon which probably gives us much of the reason…
[Dave Barnhart, a consultant to the Clinton campaign] also described the “ramped up whip operation” that Clinton campaign will run on the floor of the convention hall. In addition to asking the pro-Clinton delegates to physically be on the floor to support her during the roll call and televised prime time speeches, the campaign is also planning to add additional people around the California section to supplement the delegates already there.
“We’re providing more support in the form of extra bodies and supporters to cheer, bring energy, wave signs, and show positive support both within and around the California delegation section,” Barnhart wrote.
He also said that the campaign will more actively manage anyone who disrupts the proceedings.
“We’re going to be stricter tonight about unruly individuals—anyone who is physical with delegates, rips up their signs, or outright disrespectful with other delegates,” he warned. “Protest is certainly okay, but unruliness is not—and we’re instructing whips and convention staff to tow a stricter line tonight.”
Barnhart thanked the delegates in advance and added, “Your presence would be greatly appreciated and noted.”
That California delegation was a huge problem Monday. They never should’ve been so near the stage.
* It also helped that, after Bernie Sanders moved to nominate Clinton by acclamation, he walked out of the convention hall and several of his more committed (and loudest) supporters followed suit…
Bernie Sanders delegates say that he led the walkout that took place after he moved to nominate Hillary Clinton by acclamation.
“We followed Bernie’s lead and we followed him out. I was so enveloped in hope, and there doesn’t appear to be much of that and I am heartbroken as I am sure the Senator is. I have been working for him for over a year. I am tired. I am out of hope right now,” one Wisconsin delegate told RT.com. of Sanders walking out of the convention hall after he nominated Clinton was widely seen in the arena and on television.
* And then there were the three early speeches about 9/11. “It’s hard to boo people talking about the biggest terrorist attack on U.S. soil,” said one Democratic operative today.
* This aggressive Wisconsin recruitment has been going on for several years now, but the Illinois budget crisis certainly doesn’t help matters…
Three state universities in southeastern Wisconsin are aggressively turning their attention south to pull more students — and tuition revenue — from the Land of Lincoln.
Whitewater, Parkside and Milwaukee campuses in the University of Wisconsin System for years have drawn students from northern Illinois because of their close proximity to the border.
Working in their favor is the fact tuition for Illinois students to attend a UW campus is remarkably close to, or even less, than what they would pay at their own state schools. Illinois also is in the midst of a state budget crisis with lawmakers failing to approve an annual budget beyond a stopgap that only partially funds higher education.
It’s a perfect storm for recruiting Illinois students to Wisconsin, as Wisconsin campuses look to offset their own state budget cuts and enrollment stagnation. Illinois in recent years has seen a dramatic rise in students leaving the state for college elsewhere.
Students from Illinois pay less tuition at [the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee] than they pay to attend many of their own public universities, Maldonado said. Tuition and fees last year at Illinois State University was about $14,500, and $15,630 to $20,624 at University of Illinois, depending on the campus. At UWM it was about $13,500.
That’s just crazy.
The governor and the GA need to address this situation pronto.
“I was very pleased and overjoyed to be there,” Madigan said [of Hillary Clinton’s formal nomination].
Madigan described Clinton’s nomination as a “wonderful occasion” because the Democratic Party of America has nominated the first African-American president and now, the first female presidential nominee.
“The democrats are coming together,” he said. “They are coming together against the extremism of Trump and Governor Rauner.”
Madigan discussed the need for a democratic governor in Illinois.
“Democrats are like most Illinoisans, they are not happy with the extremism of Bruce Rauner.”
Standing atop a hay wagon on the property, Rauner asked an assembled crowd of citizens and local public officials to demand members of the Legislature vote during their fall veto session on putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot to impose term limits on state officials.
The Rauner plan would limit statewide officeholders to eight years in a position — two terms — and no more than 10 years in the General Assembly, either five House terms or three Senate terms. […]
“Be a regular person. … Serve for a few years, do what’s right for the people and then go back to the real world,” Rauner said.
His tour on Tuesday took him to four regions of the state — near Rockford, Springfield and the Quad Cities, and between Peoria and Bloomington — though the districts he stopped in were primarily represented by Republicans, who have been friendlier to his plans. All are represented by a Republican in the state Senate, and three out of the four stops were in districts with a Republican in the state House.
The issue polls extremely well, and he’s been firmly on-message everywhere he’s spoken so far. Also, he doesn’t need to actually be in a targeted district to make his point about the ruling party, as long as he’s in the same media market as one.
State Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, differs with Gov. Bruce Rauner when it comes to term limits. […]
Brady told WJBC’s Scott Laughlin voters should be able to remove lawmakers if they want, but for the legislative leadership positions, such as the one House Speaker Mike Madigan has held for three decades, that’s another story.
“Those types of changes should be looked at when it comes to something where you have the speaker as long as he has (been in office),” Brady said. “If you want real reform, I think you ought to be talking about within the caucuses.”
Rauner said in a visit to El Paso on Tuesday wants the General Assembly to pass term limits and redistricting reform since citizen-led efforts have failed in the courts. Brady suggests with Madigan in power, that will never happen.
Chris Mooney, director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois, said [the failure of more than a dozen legislative term limit proposals in Illinois since 2015] shouldn’t come as a surprise. […]
Two state legislatures that did approve term limits — Louisiana and Utah — did so only because more restrictive measures were coming down the pike through voter initiatives, he said.
Mooney said research has shown that many claims from proponents and opponents of term limits aren’t supported by the facts. For examples, they don’t seem to increase electoral competition as proponents argue, he said, nor do they appear to concentrate more power in the hands of lobbyists as opponents claim.
The most significant impact of term limits is that they’ve resulted in an “increase in power of the executive branch at the expense of the legislative branch,” Mooney said.
“It’s excellent politics,” he said. “It’s questionable for governance.”
Auditor General Frank Mautino did not file amended campaign disclosure reports with the state Board of Elections, setting the stage for a public hearing into his use of campaign money while serving in the Illinois House.
Board of Elections executive director Steve Sandvoss said Mautino did not file the amended reports by Monday’s deadline.
“If they did not produce documents by the time they were required to, the matter would be set for a public hearing,” Sandvoss said. “It’s hard to say at this point when the actual hearing would take place.”
Sandvoss said he hoped something could be scheduled within a month or two, but the actual timing depended on a number of variables. They include selecting a hearing officer, trying to accommodate the participants’ varying schedules and whether any preliminary motions are filed that have to be disposed of first.
Yesterday, on July 26, 2016, We Ask America Polls™ conducted a statewide hybrid poll (part automated/part live interview) measuring Democratic voters’ views on which potential candidates for Illinois governor would most likely receive their vote. The respondents were asked one primary question plus a short series of demographic-related questions. The primary question was this:
“There are a number of Democratic candidates rumored to be interested in running for Illinois governor in two years. We’d like to know which—if any—of the following possible candidates you would most likely vote for if they do run for Illinois governor. “
I’m told that Lisa Madigan wasn’t included because she said a couple years back she wouldn’t run for governor unless her father stepped aside as House Speaker.
…Adding… More from the pollster…
1. As expected, those with the best name recognition stood out, with a U.S. Senator dwarfing the field: Sen. Dick Durbin scored nearly 50 percent–significant especially with at least one other recent statewide office holder on the list.
2. Former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s numbers paled compared to Durbin, and were within the margin of error of the generic “someone else” option: Quinn certainly enjoyed the benefit of better name recognition than most of the others, but simply couldn’t muster enough support to climb into a double-digit range of results. His extremely weak numbers downstate (5.29%) kept him below that threshold.
3. Should Durbin decide against a run for governor, the field must be considered wide open. Former Gov. Quinn’s numbers cannot be considered a deterrent to any potential candidate. Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) is a close family friend of Sen. Durbin’s and won a hotly contested race against Republican incumbent Bobby Schilling four years ago. Congresswoman Robin Kelly (IL-2) is a former state representative who also served as chief of staff for the State Treasurer. Chris Kennedy is a business executive who was the former Chair of the University of Illinois Board…as well as the Illinois anchor for the Kennedy clan; State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) filled Barack Obama’s state senate seat when Obama left the Statehouse for the U.S. Senate and has been an active leader in Springfield; and State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) is a Princeton and Harvard-educated reformer who has championed a number of causes including nursing home and environmental reforms.
Notes & Comments
A poll this early in the process cannot be viewed as a predictor of any kind for the fall of 2018. While the list of candidates mentioned in this poll was merited by direct mention of possible candidacy in published reports, some will not run and others not listed undoubtedly will test the waters. Some candidates that many feel may possibly run were left off if they had expressed a strong enough denial. For example, Attorney General Lisa Madigan has repeatedly stated that she will not run as long as her father remains Speaker of the Illinois House–and was therefore not offered as an option.
Note that a short job related description was read about each potential candidate during the polling process. For example: “Congresswoman Cheri Bustos” - “State Senator Kwame Raoul.”
We Ask America Polls paid for this poll and was not asked to conduct it by any candidate, individual or political committee. The poll was purposely conducted during the Democratic National Convention in an effort to discuss the issue with Illinois Democrats during a time where they may be paying more attention to political issues.
This poll was conducted July 26, 2016 using both automated (recorded) and live operator-initiated calls. In all, 1,128 registered voters completed all questions on the poll. About 30% (338) of the responses came from cell phones. The voters dialed were randomly selected from a proprietary registered-voter database to assure the greatest chance of providing an accurate cross-section of opinion from the statewide sample. Weighting formulas were applied to correct any over- and under-sampling. Each respondent was asked to verify that he/she was a Democrat who planned to vote in the next Democratic Primary Election.
Our sampling methodology ensures that We Ask America poll results are “projectable,” meaning that if every resident in a given geography were dialed, the results would not differ from the reported poll results by more than the stated margin of error at a 95% confidence level (the industry standard), if the same survey was repeated. For this case, results with a margin of error of ±3.0 % at the 95% confidence level means that if the same survey were conducted 100 times, 95 times out of 100 the results would not vary in either direction by more than 3.0% in either direction.
[US Sen. Dick Durbin] has some priorities and they go in this sequence. He wants to first win re-election as whip.
About a week after the November election, senators vote for their leaders, including whip. Last March, Reid announced he would not seek another term. Reid anointed Sen. Chuck Schumer D-NY as his heir. Things got a bit messy for a bit when Durbin had to scramble to make sure he locked in the support from his fellow senators to retain his No. 2 spot.
Looks like Durbin is in good shape in his whip race. But it’s never a good idea to run for more than one office at a time. [Emphasis added.]
In other words, we’ll know more about this topic sometime after that whip election is complete. It’s a big decision with huge consequences, so it won’t be taken lightly.
Keep in mind, however, that Durbin will be almost 74 come election day, 2018. He hasn’t had a tough race since his first US Senate bid 20 years ago. And he’s never seen anything like the unlimited-funding Rauner attacks.
And even if he wins, he still has to deal with cleaning up the post-Rauner mess (which could be gargantuan if Madigan never cuts a budget deal). And he’ll have to find a way to get along with Speaker Madigan - who is not generally a “helpful” guy when it comes to running government and has not exactly been Durbin’s greatest fan, no matter what he says about Durbin these days.
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin declined Wednesday to rule out a run for Illinois governor in 2018, saying whether his colleagues will reelect him as the Democrat’s No. 2 will factor into his decision. […]
Speculation in Illinois political circles has mounted over the past several weeks about Durbin, who is not up for reelection in the Senate until 2020, and as Democrats look for a challenger against Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner next cycle. If the influential Democrat left the Senate, it would reorder Illinois politics and create an opening in the party leadership hierarchy in the chamber.
Durbin acknowledged that whether he stays as the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat after November could weigh on his decision.
“Of course,” Durbin said when asked if the outcome of leadership elections would impact his choice. “I want to continue to serve as whip of the caucus. I think I have support within the caucus. But I am not even campaigning for whip at this point…. I have to focus on this election.”
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that long-term investment returns for public pension plans are poised to drop to the lowest rate of return since measuring began 16 years ago —something that could cause additional heartburn in Illinois, which has the largest unfunded state worker pension program in the nation.
The Journal reported the 20-year annualized return on investment of public pensions are expected to be 7.47 percent — a far cry from the 12.3 percent annualized return in 2001, when Wilshire Trust Universe Comparison Service began tracking pension returns.
Illinois has an $111 billion unfunded pension liability as of June 2015, based on the latest state reports available. But the lower investment returns have been factored in slightly.
The largest pension fund, the Teachers Retirement System, acted two years ago to reduce its expected investment rate of return from 8 percent to 7.5 percent. The State Employees Retirement System and the State University Retirement System acted to reduce the rate of investment returns for its funds from 7.75 percent to 7.25 percent.
* Illinois diverts federal funds from teachers to pensions: Unlike their counterparts in other states, Illinois school districts pay a steep premium to the Teachers’ Retirement System, or TRS, if they use Title I federal money to hire teachers. Districts are assessed 36.06 percent of salaries paid with federal Title I funds, and that is set to increase to 38.54 percent for the 2016-2017 school year. By comparison, the rate for a district not using Title I money is and will remain 0.58 percent. So a district using Title I money to hire a teacher at $50,000 a year would fork over $19,270 to TRS, but the tab for a district paying a teacher the same salary out of state and local funds would be $290. To paraphrase U.S. Rep. Robert Dold, taxpayers from across the nation are pouring vast sums into Illinois’ teacher pension-debt quagmire. And the biggest losers? The very ones the Title I money is intended to aid – low-income students.
Republican state Rep. Ronald L. Sandack, a top of ally of Gov. Bruce Rauner, went to police in his hometown earlier this month to report an “Internet scam” — but a report about the incident reveals little about what led Sandack to abruptly resign his seat in the Illinois House over the weekend.
Sandack issued a statement to the Capitol Fax political blog on Sunday saying that “cyber security issues” forced him to re-evaluate his “continued public service” and that he was resigning immediately. But the three-page police report released Tuesday afternoon by the Downers Grove Police Department offers no details about what might have happened to Sandack, as virtually the entire narrative is blacked out.
Disclosing the information “would obstruct an ongoing criminal investigation,” the police said in their response to a Chicago Sun-Times Freedom of Information Act request, also noting that supplemental case reports “have not been completed as of the date of this response.”
Sandack, 52, a former Downers Grove mayor, met with an officer on July 14, 2016, a Tuesday evening, “in reference to a walk-in report of an Internet scam.” The narrative in the police report notes that the incident began on July 7, but the rest of that page and the next are almost completely redacted.
Asked Wednesday morning at a Democratic National Convention breakfast whether Democrats had any role in the cyber attacks that Sandack had cited in resigning, the Southwest Side Democrat replied “No. . . . I’ll let Sandack speak to what his problem is. I don’t know anything about it.”
Sandack had been facing a challenge from Democrat Greg Hose in the November election — a race that might now be more winnable for Democrats with the much better-known Sandack off the ballot.
“Again, I’d leave it up to Sandack to explain his problems,” Madigan said.
Gov. Bruce Rauner is scheduled to visit the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy a day after state officials reported two residents have new cases of Legionnaires’ disease.
Last year, Legionnaires’ disease sickened 53 people and led to 12 deaths at the home. The cases the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs disclosed Tuesday come less than a month after a nearly $5 million water treatment plant and delivery system was unveiled at the facility. The bacteria that cause the disease can be inhaled in water vapor.
Rauner’s schedule says the governor was to visit the western Illinois facility Wednesday morning and receive an update on water treatment there.
Less than a month after unveiling a nearly $5 million state-of-the-art water treatment plant and delivery system at the Illinois Veterans Home, the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs on Tuesday announced two Veterans Home residents had been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease.
Dave MacDonna, a spokesman for the Department of Veterans Affairs, said there have been no deaths. He would not disclose the condition of the two residents who had contracted the disease, citing health privacy laws. […]
MacDonna said water at the home will continue to be treated the same it has since the new treatment plant came online. It will continue to test for and flush any harmful bacteria from the system, something that MacDonna said happens twice per day. Hot water temperatures will be at 150 degrees.
From what I was told by the administration last night, national and state experts are dumbfounded about this recurring outbreak. There was clear evidence of the bacteria in last year’s testing. Not so this year.
* From the twitters…
.@GovRauner on Legionnaires' at Vets Home: We have taken all steps CDC has recommended.
* To refresh your memory, this is what Chris Kennedy did after his speech to the convention delegate breakfast yesterday…
Kennedy then walked toward a waiting elevator, but a crush of Chicago reporters followed him in, not satisfied with the nonanswer.
“This is sort of ridiculous, please,” Kennedy pleaded.
“What’s ridiculous is you don’t answer questions,” WFLD-Ch. 32 reporter Mike Flannery shot back. “You’ve run four or five campaigns in the gossip column. Are you running for governor or not?”
“I don’t have to address you. Please leave the elevator and let me go to my meeting. Please do that. Have some decency,” Kennedy responded. “What have you become? Please, please.”
A furious Kennedy then left the elevator and headed to a nearby stairwell. Chicago Sun-Times reporter Lynn Sweet then chased him into the stairwell doorway requesting to take a photograph of the businessman, who obliged with an awkwardly forced smile.
Flannery was right about Kennedy teasing us with selected leaks about possible runs that never materialized. You may not like his aggressiveness (reporting is sometimes like legislating, the sausage-making process ain’t always pretty), but somebody had to ask the guy that question.
Besides, Kennedy asked to speak. And it’s customary to talk to reporters after one of those speeches. If he didn’t know that, well, too bad. He should get better advance people.