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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 “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        

  1. - AlfondoGonz - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 11:23 am:

    His solid academic background? He’s, like, 60.

  2. - A guy - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 11:25 am:

    Such a shame. Those veterans are entitled to be entombed at any National Cemetery, (like Abraham Lincoln) at no cost. This was solvable. No comment really on the political side of all of this, but their remains should have been treated properly.

  3. - Responsa - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 11:25 am:

    ==His solid academic background? He’s, like, 60.==

    Uh, did you forget to finish your thought if you had one?

  4. - VanillaMan - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 11:28 am:

    This is Illinois!
    Those aren’t deceased veterans!
    Those are Duckworth voters!

  5. - Jocko - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 11:30 am:

    ==solid academic background, vast experience, political independence and sound judgment.==

    And those four qualities led to what legislative accomplishment?

  6. - AlfondoGonz - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 11:32 am:


    Those who are clever enough to pick up an obvious inference would understand the thought was that going to a good school is hardly a qualification for any professional job 40 years after the fact.

    It’s a shame you couldn’t grasp that.

  7. - @MisterJayEm - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 11:35 am:

    ==His solid academic background? He’s, like, 60.==
    Uh, did you forget to finish your thought if you had one?

    I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that AlfondoGonz thinks Sen. Kirk is a little too old to dazzle anyone with the report cards he brought home.

    But like I said, I’m just guessin’…

    – MrJM

  8. - MSIX - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 11:54 am:

    Glad they fixed that article. Early today they still had the article from 2010 posted. Was a bit odd.

  9. - Ron Burgundy - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 12:01 pm:

    - And those four qualities led to what legislative accomplishment? -

    Unfortunately for all of us, the same can be said about his alternative.

  10. - Mr. Smith - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 12:14 pm:

    What? The News-Gazette endorsed a Republican? You astonish me…

  11. - Anon - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 12:20 pm:

    Seems like the N-G coulda saved some space:

    Kirk is a mostly Republican vote in the Senate, which we prefer to a Democratic vote.

  12. - paddyrollingstone - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 12:21 pm:

    Ron Burgundy - Unfortunately for all of us, the same can be said about his alternative.

    Ron - regrettably, you are probably correct. Tammy will not be voting for Mitch McConnell, however.

  13. - Team Sleep - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 12:47 pm:

    I hate to go insider baseball on this kind of thing, but in my Congressional days it was always fun and interesting to explain to constituents and interested groups that a small handful of people in Congress actually “do” anything. Most others are there for votes. Our own Capitol is much the same way. The leaders and committee chairs introduce and push through the bills. Every once in a while you have an Andy Manar or Jason Barickman pop through and drop something substantive, but if you look at a lot of major legislation the sponsors are typically those I referenced or senior, respected members. I wish it were not that way and I do agree that Kirk could have introduced more, but Congresswoman Duckworth would likely have the same track record in the Senate as Senator Kirk has compiled.

  14. - Last Bull Moose - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 12:48 pm:

    Bill Clinton still gets points for being a Rhodes Scholar.

  15. - Responsa - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 12:57 pm:


    Thank you for the attempt at clarification of your generalization. Not my battle, actually, but my perception is that there are a fair number of “like, 60″ year olds who regularly post here who may know that their educational backgrounds still have some bearing and relevance to their current lives and careers “40 years after the fact” or not.

  16. - AlfondoGonz - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 2:08 pm:


    My comment neither spoke ill of 60 year old nor their educational backgrounds. It spoke to the reality that an educational background, however prestigious it may be, hardly qualifies as meritorious when applying for a job 40 years later. But, by all means, “dig up.”

  17. - Ron Burgundy - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 2:10 pm:

    –Bill Clinton still gets points for being a Rhodes Scholar.–

    President Obama went to Harvard Law. Our Supreme Court justices historically have come from a handful or so of the most prestigious law schools. Educational history matters. Does it matter much here? Probably not, though we could elect the first senator with an online PhD.

  18. - Anonymous - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 3:27 pm:

    Most of the vets that I know choose to go to North Chicago rather than Hines hospital. While both are VA hospitals, there is a key difference: at North Chicago the Navy actually runs the hospital rather than the VA and the service is much better.

  19. - shytown - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 4:24 pm:

    Newsflash: Champaign New-Gazette endorses Republican.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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