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Friday, Sep 30, 2016

* The Infamous Stringdusters will play us out

‘Cause we done shared all of mine

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Rauner pals give $5 million to Munger

Friday, Sep 30, 2016

* As we discussed earlier today, Gov. Rauner just added $5 million to his campaign account and Comptroller Leslie Munger has spent pretty much all her available cash on a one-week statewide TV buy. But Rauner didn’t use his own money to replenish Munger’s coffers. The governor’s two most faithful and generous contributors stepped up instead…


Ken Griffin, the state’s wealthiest man, kicked in $3 million. Richard Uihlein, Dan Proft’s bestest pal, gave $2 million.

* Democrat Susana Mendoza had $1.3 million in the bank at the end of June, and hasn’t raised much since then.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Question of the day

Friday, Sep 30, 2016

* From the twitters…


* The Question: Caption?

- Posted by Rich Miller   67 Comments      


SEIU’s big error and Madigan’s “reign of terror”

Friday, Sep 30, 2016

* I told subscribers about this earlier today

A 91-year-old World War II veteran from Auburn says he is “absolutely outraged” that his political views were “completely” mischaracterized in campaign fliers put out by a union organization.

“They took advantage of an old man,” Vincent Speranza wrote in a letter distributed to area newspapers after he saw a flier, from Service Employees International Union Healthcare, that has him attacking state Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez, R-Leland Grove, and Gov. Bruce Rauner, over proposed cuts to funding for a home-care program.

The flier also backs Jimenez’s opponent in the 99th House District, Democrat Tony DelGiorno of Springfield.

Speranza said he received a call Friday morning from Jimenez. He said he backs her candidacy, and he offered to campaign with her.

“We had a nice chat,” Speranza said.

* Here’s the mailer…

* And here’s the resulting letter to the editor from Speranza…

* Meanwhile, check out the latest mailer sent by the ILGOP on behalf of Rep. Wojcicki Jimenez…

- Posted by Rich Miller   48 Comments      


CTBA: Deficit is far higher than both Rauner and COGFA projections

Friday, Sep 30, 2016

* From the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability’s budget director Bobby Otter on the two competing deficit projections

The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) - the Illinois General Assembly’s independent budget analysts, projected that total state spending for the current fiscal year (FY2017) which began on July 1, will ultimately be $39.5 billion, but that revenue would only come in at $31.8 billion, leaving nearly a $7.8 billion deficit. On Wednesday, Rauner’s administration disagreed maintaining the budget deficit would be $5.4 billion. Budget Director Tim Nuding said the commission didn’t factor in several key sources of revenue, including the full amount of federal reimbursements to the state for Medicaid anticipated for FY2017.

What’s really troubling is that both of these projections of the General Fund deficit only compare anticipated, year-in, FY2017 spending to FY2017 revenues. Neither are factoring the accumulated deficit left over at the end of FY2016-and thus both COGFA and the Governor’s Budget Office understate the true General Fund deficit in Illinois. (The “General Fund” is the part of the state budget that pays for the services that affect most people-education, healthcare, public safety, and human services.)

HERE’S WHY.

At the end of FY2015, the state’s General Fund deficit was $5.97 billion. CTBA’s analysis shows that the accumulated deficit grew by some $3.13 billion over the course of FY2016, to a total of $9.1 billion.

In other words, Illinois began FY2017 with $9.1 billion in unpaid bills. That means that even if we balanced this year’s revenue with this year’s expenses, we’d still have a $9.1 billion deficit.

Of course, that means both deficit projections quoted in the Sun-Times article understate the true accumulated deficit by that $9.1 billion carry forward. After this carry forward deficit is included, the projected FY2017 General Fund deficit balloons to either $14.5 billion using the Governor’s estimates, or $16.9 billion using COGFA’s.

Another way to look at the General Fund deficit is as a percentage of General Fund service appropriations. CTBA analysis projects the state to spend $24.69 billion on General Fund services in FY2017. Using the Governor’s projected FY2017 deficit figures, 58.7 percent of all General Fund service appropriations aren’t paid for by FY2017 revenues. Since COGFA projects the FY2017 deficit to be even greater, using its numbers, that figure is 68.4 percent.

What does this all mean? The state’s financial condition continues to deteriorate due to a lack of revenue. Whether the General Fund deficit is $14.5 billion or $16.9 billion, it’s definitely unstainable. Between 59 percent and 68 percent of FY2017 spending is deficit spending. And Illinois will continue on this deficit spending path until it increases revenue. But in order to do that, the state needs to fix its flawed tax policy in order to generate additional revenue (see “It Is All About Revenue: A Common Sense Solution for Illinois’ Fiscal Solvency” for CTBA’s suggestions to fix the state’s revenue problems). Until then, the trend of growth in the accumulated deficit is likely to occur past FY2017.

* The accompanying chart…

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Update to today’s edition

Friday, Sep 30, 2016

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Nearly 200,000 kids face new and confusing vaccine rules

Friday, Sep 30, 2016

* Just this week…


* But

The state of Illinois has abruptly changed the rules for providing vaccines to children from low-income families, putting tens of thousands of them at risk of potentially not getting their immunizations on time.

In late August the Illinois Department of Public Health told doctors that children covered by the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Plan for low-income families would no longer get their vaccines for free. Children covered by Medicaid can still get free vaccines, but for those 185,347 children covered by CHIP, doctors will have to privately order vaccines from suppliers and wait to be reimbursed by the state.

This new policy presents a sizable challenge for doctors and parents. And it goes into effect Oct. 1.

“This is an ill-advised change happening at far too fast a pace,” said Dr. Edward Pont, a pediatrician in Elmhurst. “What was the impetus to change this program? It seemed to be working extremely well. Illinois immunization rates were on a statewide level always fine. Now here we have this major change with very little fanfare, very little warning. Our concern is it is going to cause a severe disruption.”

If you read the entire article, you’ll see that this new policy was pushed by the Center for Disease Control. Several states have already done this, including Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

Without this change, I’m told, IDPH would run the risk that the CDC won’t continue providing vaccines free of charge to the state.

* But, frankly, I don’t care who is responsible. This needs to get cleared up pronto…


The change was announced in late August. Providers are confused and screaming bloody murder. This all takes effect tomorrow. Yesterday, the governor said he didn’t know anything about it. He might wanna think about dumping that deadline and put off the change until next year.

*** UPDATE ***  From IDPH…

Hi Rich

I want to clarify some information in your post. First, I would like to provide information about the eight-week transition period. I’ve attached the letter we sent to providers.

Illinois is committed to every child being immunized. For parents or guardians of a child covered by Medicaid or by CHIP, their child’s eligibility for free vaccines has not changed. What has changed is the way doctors obtain and get paid for vaccines. Some providers may choose not to provide free vaccines to children covered by Medicaid or CHIP.

The change was required because, for years, many doctors had not been doing the necessary work of determining a child’s eligibility for a vaccine (e.g. do they qualify under the Vaccines For Children program or CHIP), and then submitting the proper paperwork to HFS (the entity that administers CHIP). Because many physicians were failing to provide this billing paperwork, HFS has not been able to channel the appropriate reimbursement for children in CHIP to the CDC. For good reason, the CDC has requested that Illinois, and many other states, alter their process to ensure that the proper reimbursement occurs. Without making such a change, IDPH runs the risk that the CDC will no longer continue to provide vaccines free of charge to the State for the VFC program.

Thank you for helping us get the correct information out to parents who are concerned about immunizations for their children.

Melaney Arnold
Illinois Department of Public Health
Public Information Officer

The attachment is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Fair share suit initiated by Rauner dismissed by federal judge

Friday, Sep 30, 2016

* Remember this from last year?

Three Illinois state employees added to a lawsuit brought by Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner challenging the legality of so-called “fair share” fees paid to public employee unions have been cleared by a federal judge to proceed with their litigation against the unions.

Rauner, however, lacks the standing to remain an official party to the lawsuit, the judge said.

Tuesday, May 19, U.S. District Judge Robert W. Gettleman dismissed Rauner’s action against the state worker unions, which included the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31 and the AFL-CIO.

“In the instant case, the governor has no personal interest at stake,” Gettleman wrote in his opinion, released late Tuesday. “In effect, he seeks to represent the non-member employees subject to the fair share provisions of the collective bargaining agreements. He has no standing to do so. They must do it on their own.”

* And this?

State employees who replaced Gov. Bruce Rauner as plaintiffs in a suit against unions have notified a federal judge that they challenge the constitutionality of compulsory union fees.

Mark Janus, Marie Quigley and Brian Trygg filed the notice on June 1, along with a complaint to replace one that Rauner filed in February.

For Janus and Quigley, the new complaint raises objections to policy positions of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Lawyer Joseph Torres of Chicago wrote that Janus “does not agree with what he views as the union’s one sided politicking for only its point of view.”

“Janus also believes that AFSCME’s behavior in bargaining does not appreciate the current fiscal crisis in Illinois and does not reflect his best interests or the interests of Illinois citizens,” Torres wrote.

* Well, this ruling by US District Judge Robert Gettleman was handed down the other day without anyone really noticing

Plaintiffs Mark Janus and Brian Trygg have brought a second amended complaint challenging the constitutionality of the compulsory collection of union fees under the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act (“IPLRA”), 52 ILCS 315/6. Defendants have moved to dismiss, arguing that the case is controlled by the Supreme Court’s decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209 (1977), which upheld the constitutionality of such assessments. Plaintiffs brought the suit hoping that Abood would be reversed in a matter then pending before the Supreme Court in which the continued validity of Abood was challenged. Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, __ U.S. __, 136 S.Ct. 1083 (2016). In Friedrichs an equally divided Supreme Court affirmed the Ninth Circuit’s decision upholding fair share fees based on the reasoning in Abood. Id. As a result, Abood remains valid and binding precedent.

Plaintiffs continue to argue that Abood was wrongly decided, but recognize that it remains controlling in the instant case. Consequently, defendants’ motion to dismiss (Doc. 146) is granted.

Makes sense. I suppose the judge could’ve given the Illinois Policy Institute’s legal arm another shot at overturning Abood, but nope.

*** UPDATE ***  I’m told an appeal is in the works.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      


State’s attorneys and their enemies behaving badly

Friday, Sep 30, 2016

* Decatur Herald & Review

New affidavits from former employees in the Macon County State’s Attorney’s Office claim employees have been harassed, forced to do political work and have been fired under questionable circumstances.

The two documents were filed Wednesday in Macon County Circuit Court as an attachment to the original petition to request a special prosecutor to investigate allegations of misconduct by Macon County State’s Attorney Jay Scott.

The affidavits go into greater detail of the alleged misconduct in the office, which includes electioneering within county offices, using county-owned property for personal use and providing a computer flash drive that contained pornographic material to a female state’s attorney employee that was accidentally shown to family members of a crime victim on a computer owned by the county. […]

Scott, a Democrat, is being challenged by Dan Hassinger, a Republican and Decatur-area lawyer. Scott defeated Hassinger in the 2012 election.

* WSIL TV

A judge in Franklin County granted an order of protection against a candidate running for Williamson County State’s Attorney.

A woman claims earlier this month she woke up to Duane Verity sexually assaulting her. […]

The order was amended to show it was granted without finding of sexual conduct and/or penetration. […]

Verity is running on the Republican ticket for Williamson County State’s Attorney against incumbent Democrat Brandon Zanotti.

* Also from WSIL TV

A Harrisburg doctor accused of murdering his wife is now charged with attempting to kidnap the Saline County State’s Attorney.

Charges of solicitation, conspiracy to commit aggravated kidnapping, and attempted aggravated kidnapping were filed against Brian Burns Wednesday.

Burns, 57, was arrested in March for the murder of his estranged wife Carla Burns. Investigators believe Burns shot his wife and burned her body near their rural Harrisburg home.

During a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Saline County State’s Attorney Mike Henshaw said Burns had phone conversations with a detective who was acting as an undercover agent. In those conversations, Burns agreed to pay $1,000 to have Henshaw kidnapped.

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      


On the bright side…

Friday, Sep 30, 2016

* I told you earlier today that I’d post any positive news about Sen. Mark Kirk that came my way.

Well, the Champaign News-Gazette has endorsed Sen. Kirk’s reelection bid

Six years ago, then-U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, a Republican from the Chicago suburbs, won what some considered an upset victory, defeating Democratic state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias in a race for the U.S. Senate.

In 2016, now-Sen. Kirk is running uphill again, considered to be the underdog in his campaign for re-election against a strong Democratic challenger, U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth. Political handicappers have identified Kirk as the most vulnerable of Senate Republicans seeking re-election, mostly because Illinois is a solid Democratic state.

But Kirk has beaten long odds before. First, in his run for the U.S. House of Representative to succeed his boss, retiring U.S. Rep. John Porter, and later, in his 2000 Senate race, he demonstrated strong appeal to Democrats, Republicans and independents.

It’s our hope he’ll do so again this year. The News-Gazette is endorsing Kirk because of his solid academic background, vast experience, political independence and sound judgment. Duckworth offers a reasonable alternative to the Republican incumbent, but lacks the qualities that have made him an exemplary public official.

* And Fox News picked up on this Kirk crusade

An Illinois Veterans Affairs hospital already under fire for excessive wait times, festering black mold and kitchen cockroaches faces a new shame – the bodies of dead patients left unclaimed in the morgue for up to two months without proper burial, whistleblower documents allege.

The whistleblower, whose identity is not being revealed for fear of retaliation, complained last month to the VA’s inspector general about the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital’s handling of veterans’ remains in cases where families have not come forward to claim the body. The complaint singled out Christopher Wirtjes, chief of Patient Administrative Services, saying “The Chief of PAS has the funds available, yet has no sense of urgency to lay the veteran to rest.”

Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., whose office also received the complaint along with emails, is now calling for Wirtjes’ firing and in a statement, slammed the hospital – located in the Western suburbs of Chicago — over its recent history of controversies.

“Hines VA — the hospital that has been overrun with cockroaches and mold and left vets waiting for care for months on secret wait lists, has reached a new low in the treatment of our veterans,” Kirk told FoxNews.com. “We now have reports of bodies being left to decompose in the morgue for months on end.”

The whistleblower, who has spoken with Kirk’s office, described a “horrible issue” at the hospital in the letter to the IG: “Some veteran’s remains have been left in our hospital morgue for 45 days or more until they are stacked to capacity at times.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


C’mon, the Tribune endorsement makes perfect sense

Friday, Sep 30, 2016

* My Twitter feed is exploding about today’s Tribune endorsement of Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson, calling him a “moderate” former Republican governor.

But let’s put the nod into the context of Johnson’s reign as New Mexico’s governor

…Johnson made it his top political priority to install a school voucher system (an effort that failed because of the legislature’s opposition). He also annulled public employees’ collective-bargaining rights, slashed funding for social programs, reduced taxes for the wealthy, implemented one of the country’s strictest welfare-reform programs, and pushed for harsher sentencing laws. […]

He rejected minimum-wage increases and backed “right-to-work” bills. And in 1999, when public employee unions’ right to collectively bargain was set to expire, Johnson vetoed a bill to extend it. Thanks to Johnson’s actions, AFSCME’s Carter Bundy told me, ten thousand government workers saw their wages frozen. “He was incredibly hostile to labor,” said Morty Simon, an attorney who represented labor groups in the ’90s. “We were just totally shut out of the Gary Johnson administration. No contact, no nothing.”

That’s pretty much the same agenda that tronc supports here. He’s a nearly perfect fit. He even reversed himself and opposed the death penalty.

- Posted by Rich Miller   49 Comments      


Rauner gets way ahead of himself on pension reform claim

Friday, Sep 30, 2016

* Jake Lewis, who’s the “campaign director” at the liberal, pro-union Illinois Working Together group, sent me a link yesterday to a page within Gov. Rauner’s campaign site and suggested I take a look at his boast on pension reform

REFORMING PENSIONS

    Forced entrenched politicians to agree to comprehensive pension reform. The proposed pension reforms could save taxpayers billions of dollars for years to come.

Um, OK.

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - Court: Expensive cars can’t be seized *** “Every year, police take millions of dollars from ordinary Chicagoans and spend it behind closed doors”

Friday, Sep 30, 2016

* Chicago Reader

When the clerk called Willie Mae Swansey’s case in a crowded courtroom last February, the 72-year-old approached the judge slowly, supporting herself with a four-pronged cane. It had been a busy afternoon in the Daley Center’s civil forfeiture courtroom, with more than a dozen quick hearings and a pair of trials preceding her own. The crush of defense lawyers and hopeful claimants had thinned by the time Swansey stepped up to the bench. She steadied herself beside a prosecutor and stood with a stately straightening of her back.

Swansey was here to reclaim her car. The Chicago Police Department had seized the 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser two years prior, arresting the driver, Swansey’s son, and charging him with manufacturing or delivering 15 to 100 grams of heroin. The car had been impounded ever since. Swansey herself was never charged with a crime, and it was her name, not her son’s, on the title. All the same, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office had agreed with CPD that the vehicle, which the office valued at $1,400, was worth keeping for good.

Swansey was prepared to tell the court that her 53-year-old son, Vincent Turner, had taken her keys without her permission. She wanted to explain that she needed her car not only for basic needs like groceries and laundry, but also because she and her granddaughter, whom she cares for, make frequent trips to doctors’ offices and hospitals. Swansey suffers from congestive heart failure, while her granddaughter has cerebral palsy and experiences frequent seizures. She wanted also to stress she had no knowledge that her son had drugs in her car.

“Ain’t no way I’d let them take my car for drugs,” Swansey later said. “That’s not me. I’m not that kind of person.”

But at her February trial date, she wasn’t allowed to argue her case. The judge simply asked if her son’s criminal case had been resolved. It hadn’t, so by law, the judge was allowed to delay the civil litigation until after the criminal case was over. They would reconvene in two months, the judge said.

This was the ninth time Swansey had appeared in civil forfeiture court and the ninth time she was told she’d have to come back. A lawyer, had she been able to hire one, could have filed a hardship motion that would allow Swansey access to the car while she waited. A lawyer might have also convinced a judge to hear the case immediately, since Swansey didn’t plan to contest the allegations against her son.

But for the fixed-income retiree, hiring a lawyer was not an option.

“I’m a poor black woman,” Swansey says. “I don’t have no money for an attorney.” Instead, she continued to represent herself.

Go read the whole thing. I mean it. The. Whole. Thing.

Kimberly Foxx needs to address this problem as soon as she’s sworn in as state’s attorney.

*** UPDATE ***  Put into the context of the cops seizing a poor woman’s $1200 car, this is just infuriating

Drunken drivers with prior convictions for driving under the influence might consider driving expensive cars, given a recent ruling by an Illinois appellate court.

“That’s, essentially, the policy that’s being espoused by the Fifth District (Appellate Court),” said David Robinson, a state appellate prosecutor who came out on the losing end of a case in which the court reversed a trial judge and ordered a pricey motorcycle returned to its owner.

In a Sept. 22 ruling, the Fifth District Appellate Court reversed a ruling by Crawford County Circuit Court Judge Christopher Weber, who had upheld the seizure of a $35,000 Harley-Davidson trike from a woman who was a passenger when her husband was busted for driving under the influence. In reversing the forfeiture, the appellate court ruled that vehicle’s value was out of proportion with the misdeed, and so seizure was unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment, which bars excessive fines to punish wrongdoing.

In reversing the trial judge, the appellate court said that the financial circumstance of the trike’s owner didn’t matter – whether she was rich or poor, the vehicle’s value alone made the seizure a “harsh penalty” that was out of step with the gravity of the offense, the appellate court ruled.

Ugh.

- Posted by Rich Miller   52 Comments      


Is Munger’s Rauner money coming soon?

Friday, Sep 30, 2016

* Comptroller Leslie Munger ended the last quarter with $281,608 in the bank. She has since reported raising $337,217, most of it from her husband.

So, that gives her, let’s say, about $600K on hand right now. Sources say her recent TV buy was $577K for a week, which is pretty much all the money she has on hand. She’s going to need more cash really soon.

* That’s why this development could turn out to be important…


So, I’m guessing we could see some Rauner money transferred to Munger later today or over the weekend.

* Related…

* Champaign News-Gazette endorsement: Munger best bet for comptroller

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


Report: Tribune relationship with Illinois Policy Institute columnist “under review”

Friday, Sep 30, 2016

* Mike Miner at the Chicago Reader writes about the upcoming Illinois Policy Institute “documentary” featuring, among others, Tribune columnist John Kass and Tribune editorial cartoonist Scott Stantis

I’d asked the Tribune’s editor, Bruce Dold, what he thought about his page-two columnist and editorial cartoonist showing up in Madigan’s partisan arena. He sent me a prepared statement, and in it he didn’t sound happy.

“Tribune journalists should not be involved in activities of outside organizations that could give the appearance of partisanship,” Dold wrote. “John and Scott understand that they should not have agreed to be interviewed for this film, even if they were expressing views they have published in the course of their work for the Tribune.”

An interesting wrinkle is that Rickert writes occasional op-ed columns for the Tribune; she’s a smart, pugnacious writer, and Dold began publishing her years ago when he was the Tribune’s editorial editor. Like Rickert, Stantis didn’t want me to interview him, but unlike Rickert he replied and said so. I wanted him to tell me whether he’d have any problem sharing his paper’s editorial pages with the spokesperson and chief defender of the outfit he accused of deceiving him.

Then again, will he go on sharing those pages? Will the Tribune have any problem with continuing to publish Rickert? That relationship is now under review.

No word on what Dold thought of this event last year.

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      


Kirk not getting Senate super PAC money, won’t do some Chicago debates, called “disgraceful” in new TV ad

Friday, Sep 30, 2016

* Notice who isn’t on this list

The Republicans’ central Senate super PAC is plowing $21 million more into six key races in the coming weeks as the fight for control of the chamber moves to states more hospitable to GOP candidates.

The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC that is part of the American Crossroads suite of GOP big-money groups, is expanding its television buys in New Hampshire, North Carolina, Indiana, Missouri, Nevada and Pennsylvania, officials told The Washington Post. At the same time, the group is cutting back most of its planned spending in Ohio, where incumbent Republican Sen. Rob Portman has widened his lead over former governor Ted Strickland. […]

Altogether, the Senate Leadership Fund plans to spend $76 million in September and October — and the total could swell larger by Election Day, thanks to mega-donors such as Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, who gave the super PAC $20 million in August.

* Meanwhile

With less than 40 days until the election, Senator Mark Kirk is changing the traditional plans for debates in Chicago.

While Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth agreed to five debates, the incumbent does not agree. Kirk has turned down the SunTimes editorial board, ABC7 League of Women Voters and Univision debate and WTTW Public television debates. Those venues have been on candidates schedules for years, according to both campaigns.

Kirk will only do three debates. Kirk has agreed to the Chicago Tribune editorial board on Monday October 3 and a downstate debate in Springfield October 27, and a new Latino forum to be broadcast on WGN. The Duckworth campaign has not yet agreed to the Latino forum.

Kirk wants to speak Spanish during the WGN forum, even though it’s not actually supposed to be a Spanish language debate. Duckworth doesn’t speak Spanish.

* Press release…

Tammy Duckworth’s campaign for U.S. Senate released a new ad today, entitled “Disgraceful.” The 30-second spot features former U.S. Army Captain Emily Miller, who served two combat deployments in Afghanistan. Miller describes earning the Army’s Combat Action Badge during her two deployments, saying it’s not something one necessarily wants to receive, since it is awarded to Soldiers who come under enemy fire.

Meanwhile, media outlets have caught Duckworth’s opponent, Senator Mark Kirk, lying repeatedly about his military record, including falsely claiming to come under fire in Afghanistan despite never deploying there. Nevertheless, Kirk is often seen being driven in a car that includes an “I served in Afghanistan” bumper sticker.

“Republican Mark Kirk has lied repeatedly about his military record. He lied about being shot at. He lied about serving in combat in Afghanistan and in Kosovo. He lied about serving in both Iraq wars. He lied about an award he never earned and claimed a position he never held. Now in desperate political straits, he’s banking his re-election campaign on lying about Tammy Duckworth’s record and commitment to her fellow Veterans. As Captain Miller said, it’s disgraceful.” said campaign spokesman Matt McGrath.

* The ad

* Script…

CPT Emily Miller: I did two deployments to ‪Afghanistan going on night raids with Special Operations. We were going after high-value ‪terrorist targets; that’s how I earned the Combat Action Badge. It’s a badge that you don’t really want to get, and it’s certainly not something to lie about.

VO: Mark Kirk lied repeatedly about facing ‪enemy fire and serving in combat.

CPT Miller: For Mark Kirk to attack another ‪veteran, especially somebody like Tammy who’s done so much for veterans, it’s really just disgraceful.

For his sake, let’s hope the guy can generate some positive news today. I’ll post it on the blog if I see it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


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Kirk touts bill to refund $154K to Chicago Stock Exchange

Thursday, Sep 29, 2016

* From a press release…

U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today introduced the SEC Overpayment Credit Act (S.3461) to give the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) authority to credit national securities exchanges and other self-regulatory organizations for fees and assessments that have been overpaid to the regulator in the past ten years. The SEC has identified approximately $3.4 million in overpaid fees by the exchanges over the past ten years. However, they contend they do not have the authority to offset past years’ overpayments against future years’ payments.

“As a matter of good governance, agencies of the federal government should not keep money that does not belong to them. The exchanges play a vital role in our economy and they should be made whole. This legislation will directly impact Chicago by compelling the SEC to return $154,000 in overpaid fees to the Chicago Stock Exchange,” said Senator Kirk.

I’m sure you made their day, Senator.

* In other news, here’s the Tribune

President Barack Obama will visit Chicago on Oct. 9 to raise money for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Duckworth, a campaign official said Wednesday.

The $1,000-a-ticket fundraiser will be held at the Stony Island Arts Bank in the Grand Crossing neighborhood. The maximum donation is $12,700, which gets the donor a photo opportunity. Hosts include Obama Foundation Chairman Martin Nesbitt and wife Dr. Anita Blanchard.

* Meanwhile

American Unity PAC, a federal super political action committee backing Republicans who support gay rights, said it’s launching a digital ad buy through Google to help re-election-seeking Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk.

The group said it has dedicated $125,000 to Google’s online platforms, including YouTube, to run an ad about atrocities the Iranian government allows to be committed against women, Christians and gays.

The ad is based on Duckworth’s support of the U.S.-led effort to reach a deal aimed at curbing Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon.

“Tammy Duckworth supported giving billions to that regime without concessions for human rights violations. When we had leverage, Tammy Duckworth didn’t stand up for the vulnerable,” a woman narrator says.

* The ad

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      


Tomorrow’s news today

Thursday, Sep 29, 2016

* Gov. Rauner took reporters’ questions today on what he thinks about a possible CTU strike (see below), why he signed the ACLU-backed bill that restricted police “stop and frisk” practices (he had a pretty thoughtful response, but no mention was made of Donald Trump’s criticism); his thoughts on shootings on Chicago expressways (they’re spilling over, he said, from Chicago’s heavy violence, and then found a way to bring it all back to his Turnaround Agenda); changes in Medicaid policy for childrens’ flu shots so close to flu season (he didn’t know about it); whether his work with African-American lawmakers on criminal justice reforms gives him a wedge he can use against Speaker Madigan (he repeated his claim that he’s meeting with people individually and is hearing positive things); and his thoughts on Chicago State University’s ouster of its president (nothing all that new).

* Raw audio…

* Related…

* Teachers Strike Would Be ‘Tragic,’ Gov. Rauner Says

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      


Rauner launches new blog

Thursday, Sep 29, 2016

* From the Rauner campaign…

GOV. RAUNER BLOG NOW LIVE

We launched our new blog on BruceRauner.com. This blog will keep Illinoisans up-to-date on important news and events involving Gov. Rauner. It will also feature original content from the Governor and his team. Check it out!

* The blog is here. From what appears to be its latest post

Protecting Taxpayers

AFSCME is pushing for generous pay increases and cadillac health coverage that would cost taxpayers billions . Governor Rauner has said repeatedly that Illinois is broke and has no extra money to give AFSCME.

Commenting does not appear to be available. Bummer.

* Anyway, go take a look and report back on the governor’s latest communications platform.

- Posted by Rich Miller   61 Comments      


Question of the day

Thursday, Sep 29, 2016

* Kerry Lester yesterday

Rolling Meadows Mayor Tom Rooney will be sworn in as the state’s newest senator at 7 p.m. today at Rolling Meadows City Hall with Cook County Judge Marty Kelley officiating. Rooney tells me the two have known each other through the Palatine GOP since before Kelley was a judge or Rooney was mayor. Rooney replaces Matt Murphy of Palatine, who resigned Sept. 15 to join a public affairs firm.

You’ll recall that Gov. Rauner and some of his pals interviewed all the candidates for that job.

* So, let’s welcome our new legislator…

* The Question: Caption?

- Posted by Rich Miller   72 Comments      


Illinois Policy Institute wins Round 2 of EDR battle

Thursday, Sep 29, 2016

* AP

A federal judge has denied an Illinois attorney general’s office request for him to reverse his own decision halting same-day voter registration at polling stations.

A Thursday hearing in Chicago federal court lasted just minutes as Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan told lawyers the request is denied.

He ruled earlier this week that the same-day registration option as written benefited Democratic strongholds, like Chicago, and disadvantaged rural regions

Lisa Madigan’s office argued that yanking the option so close to the Nov. 8 election would unfairly deny some citizens voting rights. But in a two-page written explanation Thursday explaining his latest ruling, Der-Yeghiayan says, “This court did not restrict the rights of any voters. The legislation did.”

Madigan’s rejected motion to stay the ruling is here. She plans to appeal. I’ll post the judge’s written decision as soon as I get it.

…Adding… The judge’s order is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      


A lesson in why tougher laws don’t always work

Thursday, Sep 29, 2016

* We have a good example in Champaign County about how this state can enact the strongest gun-crime laws in the country and everyone can still wind up shaking their heads in disbelief when a gun offender gets out of prison and almost immediately kills somebody.

The defendant in this case is Robbie Patton, who is wanted for the murder of one person and the wounding of three others in a now infamous shooting incident near the University of Illinois campus.

Patton was sent to a boot camp instead of prison and released after serving a combined 259 days in local jail and the camp

Although the Champaign County state’s attorney’s office objected to the 18-year-old being considered for the military-like alternative to imprisonment, Judge Tom Difanis recommended Patton for the program, formally known as Impact Incarceration.

“None of us have a crystal ball. By noting that we objected, I am not criticizing Judge Difanis. At this point, the responsibility for what happened Sunday is on Robbie Patton,” State’s Attorney Julia Rietz said. […]

Patton pleaded guilty in April before Difanis to aggravated discharge of a firearm, admitting that on Dec. 14, 2015, he fired a gun in the direction of a person in the parking lot of the Steak ’n Shake, 2010 N. Prospect Ave., C.

Probation is an option for that Class 1 felony, but Patton’s eight-year prison sentence was a result of a plea agreement negotiated by Assistant State’s Attorney Matt Banach and Patton’s Champaign attorney, Dan Jackson.

OK, wait. Eligibility for boot camp requires that sentences be no longer than 8 years. So, while the state’s attorney did publicly object to boot camp, her office negotiated a plea deal that made boot camp possible.

And, as a local article points out, “boot camp recommendations by Champaign County judges for first-time young adult offenders are common.” The state’s attorney’s office had to know that boot camp was a likely outcome of that deal.

* OK, let’s back up a second. Here’s an explanation of Patton’s original crime

Patton is thought to have fired a gun at two men in the parking lot of the restaurant about 5:30 p.m. on that Monday. Police said he and Antonio Wright were inside the restaurant when they were approached by two men who asked them to step outside.

They did, and Patton retrieved a gun from a sport utility vehicle and fired it at the other men. No one was hit.

Shooting at people in a crowded public area. If that sounds familiar, it’s because that’s pretty much exactly what Patton is being accused of now.

* Patton was also arrested just two days after being paroled

On Sept. 11 — two days after being granted parole — UI police arrested him for allegedly lying about his identity. A police report said Patton was a passenger in a car that police stopped about 1:15 a.m. that Sunday near Green and Locust streets for an alleged traffic violation.

Smelling cannabis emanating from the car, police had the driver, Tyren Mercier, 18, of Champaign, get out. He was later arrested and charged with possession with intent to deliver cocaine and possession of cocaine after police said they found individually wrapped packages of cocaine in his wallet. Patton was released from the county jail that same day after posting bond and was later charged with misdemeanor obstruction of identification.

Um, according to the circuit court clerk’s website, Patton was released without bond (click here and input the case number of 16CM000877). But, whatever. That’s neither here nor there, I suppose.

So, two weeks after he was released on parole, and days after he got out of jail for another offense, Patton allegedly killed one person and injured three more over an escalated argument about a spilled drink.

* I’m not saying we shouldn’t have tougher gun-crime laws. I’m solidly on record in favor of them. They’re needed. But prosecutors always have discretion to reduce charges to avoid triggering longer sentences. And they can also agree to let people out of jail without posting bond.

Changing laws won’t change those facts of legal life.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      


Trump campaign blames Rauner-signed law for Chicago violence increase

Thursday, Sep 29, 2016

* Illinois Public Radio

REPORTER: “Did you watch last night’s debate?”

RAUNER: “I did not.”

Which means he didn’t hear his party’s nominee, Donald Trump, say this about Illinois’ largest city:

“In Chicago they’ve had thousands of shootings — thousands - since Jan. 1. And I’m saying ‘Where is this? Is this a war-torn country? What are we doing?’ “

When asked about it, this was the governor’s response:

“I’m not commenting on the presidential politics.”

* Last week, before the debate, I asked the governor’s office where Gov. Rauner stands on reinstating “stop and frisk.” Trump had said that this was absolutely needed in Chicago. This was the response…

Think I will point you to SB 1304 that he signed - supported by ACLU, etc. It addresses a range of issues including the stopping issue - which requires giving a receipt to folks when stopped.

https://capitolfax.com/2015/08/13/rauner-signs-body-cam-bill/

Yep. The body cam bill did, indeed, lay down rules on stop and frisk. And the ACLU did back the proposal.

And Trump repeated his assertion during this week’s debate that stop and frisk must be implemented in the city.

* Now, check out this tweet from CNN’s Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta…


* Drill down

So, maybe the governor will have to answer now that the Trump campaign is blaming a bill signed into law by Rauner for the increased crime problem in Chicago. Or not. He’s been awfully good at avoiding this topic.

- Posted by Rich Miller   39 Comments      


Republican candidate says he doesn’t want newspaper’s endorsement

Thursday, Sep 29, 2016

* The Southern Illinoisan has taken a huge amount of local heat for publishing a political cartoon (click here to see it) deemed offensive to local sensibilities. The publisher apologized for publishing the cartoon

The Southern Illinoisan regrets the editorial cartoon selected to run in Sunday’s paper. The syndicated cartoon was offensive to law enforcement and those of us who support law enforcement. Though we respect diverse opinions, we do not believe this was in good taste, nor constructive for dialog at the national or local level. We value the service of law enforcement officers serving southern Illinois, who put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe. Though editorial cartoons are rooted in satire to provoke thought, the selection of this cartoon was not vetted through our usual editorial process. We have implemented measures to prevent this in the future.

We apologize to those we offended, communities that we serve and our local law enforcement.

* A subsequent editorial explained more

The purpose of our Opinion page is to create a thoughtful forum for a community conversation that includes the exchange of ideas, viewpoints and emotions about difficult issues.

It’s never our intention to make readers unnecessarily uncomfortable, though recent events in the world and across our country have had that effect on all of us. We do intend to provide commentary from a variety of sources that brings into a logical focus the most unsettling issues and debates.

An editorial cartoon we published Sunday on the Opinion page didn’t live up to those desires nor did it advance the conversation beyond the emotion of another police-involved shooting.

Social media has exploded in anger (as usual in stuff like this), with lots of calls for boycotts.

* And now Rep. John Bradley’s Republican opponent says he doesn’t want the paper’s endorsement…

Dave Severin, candidate for state representative in the 117th district, released the following statement today announcing his refusal to seek the endorsement of The Southern in the aftermath of their attack on law enforcement officers:

    “I was scheduled to be interviewed by The Southern Illinoisan’s editorial board on October 6th in the hopes of receiving their endorsement. Today I am announcing that I do not wish to receive their endorsement and will disavow it should I receive their recommendation. On Sunday, September 25th, The Southern’s editorial board decided to publish an offensive and inappropriate “cartoon” attacking the men and women who serve and protect our communities every day as law enforcement officials. These brave men and women deserve our respect and our gratitude – nothing less.

    I do not want The Southern’s endorsement and I will not seek it.”

NOTE:

The campaign does not wish to restrict access to the candidate and will make the distinction between opinion editorials and reporting. Mr. Severin will continue to provide statements and interviews to reporters from The Southern.

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition and a campaign roundup

Thursday, Sep 29, 2016

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Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)

Thursday, Sep 29, 2016

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Rate Munger’s first TV ad

Thursday, Sep 29, 2016

* Here it is

- Posted by Rich Miller   83 Comments      


PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Poll: 53 percent of Illinoisans disapprove of Trump, 64 percent say Rauner should "act to protect the reproductive health care of all women in Illinois"
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
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* *** UPDATED x1 - Biss responds *** Rauner says HB 40 is "divisive" and "we need to focus" on fixing other problems
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* Biss criticizes Democratic Party, Madigan
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* Caption contest!
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