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Editorial Boards Across the State Oppose the Exelon Bailout - Will Lawmakers Continue to Rush Through the Largest Rate Hike in U.S. History?

Wednesday, Nov 30, 2016 - Posted by Advertising Department

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Chicago Tribune, 11/29/16 - Rescue 2 Illinois nukes? Why Springfield shouldn’t pick winners and losers

 “…Repeatedly putting the thumb of government on the scale to determine which energy industries win and lose is no way to run an economy… Rushing to pass this very complex legislation, with its additional government distortion of the robust energy supply market, is the wrong way for Springfield to expend energy.

State Journal Register, 11/30/16 - Our View: Too many unknowns remain regarding energy legislation

“A massive energy policy overhaul that affects every resident and business should not be rushed through the handful of days dedicated to the fall Veto Session..”

Crain’s, 11/26/16 - Energy bill improved, but again—why the bailout for money-losing nukes?

“…one troubling fact remains: Exelon is getting a bailout… In any other business, owners themselves would have to deal with a money-losing operation. Exelon thinks it’s exceptional, however. Why should Illinoisans absorb the cost of keeping these unneeded plants open?

Chicago Sun-Times, 11/16/16 - Springfield electric bill fails to put customer first

“This is no way to encourage manufacturers and residents to choose Illinois… this bill fails to put the customer first.”


Stop the $13 billion Exelon bailout.  Vote NO on SB 2814


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

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AFSCME cites documents as proof of “bullying,” Rauner admin says it’s just “good legal advice”

Wednesday, Nov 30, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From AFSCME Council 31

Documents recently provided to AFSCME by an anonymous whistleblower inside state government reveal that Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has established a new division dedicated to restricting employees’ rights inside his Department of Central Management Services.

Dubbed the Labor and Employment Advisory Division (LEAD), the group is intended to “gain and maintain control over the workforce”, documents show.

Among the group’s stated goals are to “mitigate external interference with employer-employee relationship” (a bit of management jargon that’s usually code for union-busting) and “implement systems that reward and recognize high performers” (a euphemism for so-called “merit pay” schemes that open the door to favoritism and political influence).

Its listed “tactical objectives” include to “invigorate management’s ability to discipline … employees” and “reduce unionization among managers and supervisors”. The administration has already begun a systematic effort to strip union representation from employees who years ago were found not to be managerial and thus have the legal right to join a union.

On a list of supposed “tools for building a better workforce”, first is “Reinvigorated employee discipline”. Also noted are so-called “merit pay” and “managed competition” (aka privatization) schemes.

Five subsequent pages dated Nov. 2, 2016 list “LEAD lawyers” assigned to each agency of state government.

“These documents reveal Bruce Rauner’s adversarial attitude toward the tens of thousands of state employees who provide vital services to Illinois residents,” AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said. “He won’t work toward a budget for priorities like schools and human services, but he’s diverting public resources to intimidate workers and undermine their union rights.

“State workers do difficult jobs, often without adequate resources. They protect kids, respond to emergencies, care for the vulnerable and keep us safe,” Lynch said. “Added to his attempts to freeze their pay and double their health care, the governor’s campaign to silence their voices threatens to create a hostile work environment and drive morale to an all-time low.

“Maybe as a billionaire CEO, Bruce Rauner used bullying tactics to get his way,” Lynch added, “but public service workers are not property to be ‘controlled’, workplace democracy is not ‘external interference’, and threats of ‘invigorated discipline’ are the worst possible way to motivate a workforce.”

The document is here.

* Rauner administration’s response…

This is a misleading distraction from AFSCME’s refusal to work with the administration on implementing our last best and final offer. LEAD is part of the State’s employee relations efforts.

Like most employers in the country, the state recognizes that good legal advice on the front end helps reduce litigation risks and goes a long way to restoring an ethical working environment free of unlawful discrimination or employee misconduct.

Rather than misleading and protesting overtime after 40 hours, merit pay, bereavement leave and testing employees if they’re suspected of being drunk or using drugs on the job, it’s time to work together on implementing the state’s fair and reasonable contract that is similar to the same contracts ratified by 18 other unions.


Question of the day

Wednesday, Nov 30, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Caption?…


Rauner to Madigan: No stopgap budget without term limits and property tax freeze

Wednesday, Nov 30, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* According to the governor’s office, during today’s leaders meeting, after Speaker Madigan made clear he would not negotiate on reforms and would only negotiate a stopgap spending bill, Gov. Rauner declared he would only consider a stopgap spending bill if the General Assembly first passes term limits and a “permanent property tax freeze.”

I’m told he also made clear his preference remains a balanced budget with reforms where no one reform had to be included.

Is a final showdown coming early next year when the state’s checkbook runs dry? If people stick to their guns, it sure looks like it.


*** UPDATED x2 - No Rauner brick on resolutions - Republican leaders dance around tax hike talk *** Madigan says House will vote today on if it wants a “Rauner lame duck tax increase”

Wednesday, Nov 30, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* House Speaker Michael Madigan emerged from the leaders’ meeting after about 90 minutes to say, “The House will vote today on the question of whether there should be a Rauner lame duck tax increase.”

That means they’ll vote on at least one of the resolutions moved out of committee today that would put members on record as being opposed to a tax increase during January’s lame duck session.

* Madigan also shot back at those who criticized him for not attending yesterday’s meeting. “I am available,” he said. “I was available when Gov. Rauner was in Rome. I was available when Sen. Radogno was not available before Thanksgiving.” He refused to answer questions about this week’s Republican Party attacks.

Rep. Greg Harris said the governor’s budget director gave a “very good review” of the work that was done during the working groups earlier this year. House Democrats, Harris said, sent a letter to the other three caucuses to suggest that the working groups be reconstituted and their recommendations updated.

*** UPDATE 1 ***  Leader Durkin emerged from the leaders meeting and said “Unfortunately, the Speaker isn’t interested” in negotiating with the Republicans on the governor’s reforms. He did say, however, that Senate President Cullerton was engaged on the topic.

Durkin said it was Madigan who had been demanding a tax hike, not the Republicans, pointing to Madigan’s 2015 City Club address. But, he said the Republicans want a “true balanced budget.”

But asked whether a budget could truly be balanced without a tax hike, Leader Radogno said, “I think the governor’s said repeatedly that… it’s an option” along with reforms. “The reforms are integral to the budget,” Radogno said.

Asked whether term limits were integral to the budget, Leader Radogno said it had to do with the “perception of the state” by business owners in their decision to expand or locate here.

“Grow up,” Leader Radogno said to a question about whether Madigan ought to be upset considering this week’s Republican Party attacks.

Radogno said the leaders will meet again tomorrow and Friday.

*** UPDATE 2 *** The governor’s office has told Republican legislators that if they want to vote for the anti-lame duck tax hike resolutions they should feel free to do so.

Meanwhile, some Democrats contend this memo from the governor’s chief of staff means that Rauner has been plotting a lame duck tax hike in January, even though it basically just says the same thing that Rauner has been saying for two years…

By the way, a top Rauner administration called the contention that this is evidence of some plot, “truly pathetic.” The Democrats are, he said “devoid of new ideas. They can’t get over the fact that they got their clocks cleaned in November.”

Yeah, we’re making tons o’ progress here, campers.


Illinois on track to lose yet another US House seat

Wednesday, Nov 30, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Illinois peaked at 27 US House seats after the 1910 census and has been losing seats after every census since the 1940s. So, this is no surprise, but is still quite depressing…


*** UPDATED x1 - AFSCME vows court challenge ***Rauner imposes “reasonable” drug and alcohol testing on workers

Wednesday, Nov 30, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

Rauner Administration to Implement Reasonable Suspicion of Alcohol and Drug Testing

Governor Bruce Rauner’s Administration today announced that the state will begin testing employees who exhibit behaviors that create a reasonable suspicion that they are under the influence of a banned substance or alcohol.

“Employees who are under the influence of a banned substance or alcohol while on the job present a risk to their co-workers and to the taxpayers they serve,” said Dennis Murashko, the Governor’s General Counsel. “Being impaired also prevents employees from being able to perform their job duties effectively. By implementing this commonsense proposal, we are taking the necessary steps to further protect the health and safety of our employees and those they serve.”

The proposal, which was part of the state’s last, best and final offer during contract negotiations, does not allow for random drug and alcohol testing. Rather, it only allows the state to test employees if “specific objective facts and circumstances warrant rational inferences that a person may be under the influence of alcohol or a banned substance.”

Those “facts and circumstances” include:

    · Observable phenomena such as direct observation of use or the physical symptoms of using or being under the influence of controlled substances such as, but not limited to: slurred speech, direct involvement in a serious accident, or disorientation;
    · A pattern of abnormal conduct or erratic behavior; and,
    · Information provided either by reliable and credible sources or which is independently corroborated.

Guidance will be provided to supervisors on what types of behavior create a reasonable suspicion that an employee is under the influence of alcohol or a banned substance. Generally, employees that test positively for intoxication will be suspended for 30 days and will be enrolled in a confidential Employee Assistance Program for substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation. All records concerning tests would remain confidential.

* Meanwhile…

*** UPDATE ***  AFSCME’s response to the governor’s move

“They’re trying to distract from their refusal to negotiate. They’re trying to distract from their attempt to force working people to pay 100 percent more for health care. They’re trying to distract from their attempt to cut the pay of public service workers,” AFSCME Council 31 spokesman Anders Lindall said.

Lindall said AFSCME – which represents 38,000 state workers – would challenge in court any attempt to carry out the drug and alcohol testing policy.

“The Rauner administration broke off negotiations and walked away from the bargaining table back in January, and has wasted more than 10 months in refusing to even meet with our union bargaining committee. If they want to address this issue or any other issue, they should renew negotiations,” he said.


Hey! Cub fans!

Wednesday, Nov 30, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The news, with a bit of context…

* A little react…

* Caption?…


Rauner administration agrees in principle to Exelon deal

Wednesday, Nov 30, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I’m told by a source very close to the negotiations that Gov. Rauner’s administration has agreed “in principle” to support a new deal on the bill to prevent the closure of two of Exelon’s nuclear power plants and expand alternative energy sources.

I’m also told there are “hard” caps on rate increases for residential ratepayers and commercial users, and the proposed microgrids and some other items have been dropped from the measure to save money.

There have been plenty of doubts around the rail that the Rauner administration could actually get something done here. But they negotiated well into the night last night (when things just about fell apart) and then restarted bright and early this morning (6 o’clock) and got it done.

Waiting on react and more details. Stay tuned.

…Adding… Exelon folks have confirmed this as well.


*** UPDATED x1 - Meeting begins *** A bit much over a meeting

Wednesday, Nov 30, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Um, OK…

* The cartoonist’s explanation

Illinois Speaker Mike Madigan, acting as the petulant Czar of the state, has once again not shown up to a meeting of Illinois leaders. A post-election get-together to discuss budget issues that plague this state. (Madigan lost his super majority in the Illinois House of Representatives due largely to money spent by Governor Bruce Rauner). If this dysfunctional mess of a state government is ever going to be righted, the Speaker has to man-up and put the concerns of the people of Illinois ahead of his own fragile ego. A feat Madigan has yet to do in his decades long domination of state government.

Madigan’s spokesman told me yesterday his boss will show up for the leaders meeting at 10 o’clock today. As of 10:05, though, nobody was there yet. You can follow the progress on our live coverage post.

*** UPDATE ***  The meeting has begun…


More completely unacceptable state government behavior

Wednesday, Nov 30, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Apparently, Illinois government isn’t competent enough to take care of anybody. Severely disabled adults are horrifically mistreated, female prisoners are abused, and kids in the state’s custody are urged by guards to fight each other

The American Civil Liberties Union is applauding indictments announced this week against four guards at the Illinois Youth Center in St. Charles, where law enforcement officials say detainees were encouraged to attack others as a form of discipline.

The civil rights group also is pointing to the allegations as evidence that an ongoing consent decree involving the two organizations is still necessary.

“We are pleased to see the state is moving forward to investigate these incidents of abuse and to hold the staff accountable,” ACLU spokesman Edwin Yohnka said. “Because nobody in (Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice facilities) should ever be subjected to the kind of horrific mistreatment that is described in these indictments.” […]

Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon alleges the guards, led by Klimek, encouraged juvenile residents to physically attack other residents, according to court records. The four are accused of facilitating attacks and standing by while they happened, he said.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit in 2012 challenging conditions and services at six state-run juvenile justice facilities around Illinois. The suit led to a consent decree jointly filed in federal court by the ACLU and the Department of Juvenile Justice in 2014. The pact outlined improvements to schooling, mental health treatment plans, protections for LGBT youths, an end to solitary confinement as a form of discipline and stricter limitations on when and how employees of the department may restrain youths’ freedom of movement, according to the ACLU.


Brown: “The lame duck tax increase has been the Rauner strategy all along”

Wednesday, Nov 30, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Speaker Madigan’s spokesman Steve Brown responds to yesterday’s Republican Party slam on three House Democrats for being Madigan tools

“They’re kind of in disarray because they’ve schemed to have the lame duck tax increase, and it’s blowing up,” Brown said, referencing the introduction of a House resolution and constitutional amendment to prevent lame duck tax increases. “The lame duck tax increase has been the Rauner strategy all along. He could have a bump in the road. All of his allies would be unable to vote, unless they want to violate their pledge.”

State Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, and Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, introduced a series of bills to try to fight off a last-minute tax hike vote. It’s an effort to try to make sure the 16 “lame ducks” don’t pass controversial bills, including a tax hike.

“The actions of unaccountable legislators have been allowed to go unchecked for too long,” Franks said.

McSweeney called “grand bargain” and “grand compromise” the scariest words in Springfield.

“That’s just a simple code phrase for a massive income tax increase,” McSweeney said. “We need to stand up for our constituents, for the working people of the state, the families of the state and oppose raising the income tax.”

Those proposals are here.


Bed-and-breakfast owner defiant in face of gay discrimination ruling

Wednesday, Nov 30, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Illinois ACLU

The Illinois Human Rights Commission has declined review and adopted the report and recommendation of an administrative law judge, ruling against a Paxton Bed & Breakfast after its owners denied a downstate couple – Mark and Todd Wathen – access to the facility to celebrate their civil union in 2011. Today’s action comes after an administrative law judge found that the denial of the use of the facility was because the Wathens are gay – a violation of Illinois law. The judge also previously ordered the Bed & Breakfast to pay $30,000 to the Wathens for their emotional distress, as well as attorneys’ fees and costs. Most importantly, the owners of the Bed & Breakfast were ordered to cease discriminating against same-sex couples by denying them use of the facilities for marriage and civil union ceremonies.

The Illinois Human Rights Commission refused the Bed & Breakfast’s request to review the administrative law judge’s recommended orders, which makes them the final orders of the Commission.

The following can be attributed to John Knight of the ACLU of Illinois, who along with Betty Tsamis of the Tsamis Law Office and Clay Tillack and Robert A. H. Middleton of Schiff Hardin served as counsel to the Wathens:

The Commission’s decision once again sends a clear message that denying couples the use of a public wedding venue in Illinois because they are gay or lesbian is simply not permitted. Business owners cannot pick-and-choose to follow laws simply because they personally disagree with same-sex couples’ decision to marry.

Fortunately, we have not seen many examples of this type of blatant discrimination since the same-sex couples have had the freedom to marry in Illinois.

The judge’s ruling is here. More background is here.

* Law Bulletin

Section 5-102(A) of the Human Rights Act states that it is a civil rights violation to deny “the full and equal enjoyment of the facilities, goods, and services” on the basis of race, color, religion, sexual orientation and other categories at a “public place of accommodation” — defined as restaurants, theaters, parks and a broad collection of other types of businesses aimed at convenience and enjoyment.

Robinson found that, because the inn really only declined services to others if, for instance, they couldn’t afford them, that the inn qualified as a public place of accommodation under the law.

He also said the inn owners did not factually back up their defense under the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act — which says that “the government may not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” unless it proves a narrowly tailored, compelling interest for doing so.

That defense should be resolved by an appellate court, Robinson wrote. But he added that Timber Creek did not explain how allowing a same-sex ceremony on its premises, especially when its employees were not required to be present at such an event, was “somehow a sub silencio endorsement of anything goes on during that event.”

That logic was spelled out in Robinson’s initial decision in the case on Sept. 15, 2015. His rationale on damages was spelled out in his March order, in which he also briefly contemplated the notion that the Wathens might be “testers” — activists less interested in justice for themselves than in creating legal precedents.

* Associated Press

Jason Craddock, an attorney for the bed and breakfast owners, said he plans to fight the decision. The owners have been ordered to pay about $80,000 in damages and legal fees and allow same-sex couples access to their facilities. Timber Creek’s website still notes that they do “not host civil union or gay marriage ceremonies and/or receptions.”

Craddock said he wasn’t surprised by the panel’s move and was prepared to ask the whole commission to consider the case and, if necessary, take it beyond the agency to an Illinois appellate court.

* News-Gazette

[The B&B’s co-owner, Jim Walder] called the panel’s decision “disappointing,” but he added that “it will not change our policy.” Walder was referring to a policy that remains explicitly stated on the TimberCreek B&B’s website, saying the business “cannot host civil unions or gay marriages” because “we cannot be part of what God condemns.”

“For thousands of years homosexuality has been considered sodomy and gay marriage an abomination — civilly and Biblically,” Walder said Tuesday. “We choose to remain consistent in obeying long-held civil understanding and biblical teaching on both.”



ILGOP: “Democrats can no longer run from their support of Madigan as their undisputed leader”

Wednesday, Nov 30, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* ILGOP press release

Extra! Extra! Democrats To Get Morning News Delivery
Madigan’s Property Tax Scheme Tops the Headlines; Democrats can’t hide behind ignorance and misdirection

This morning, Democrat legislators will receive copies of two noteworthy articles they should consider before supporting Speaker Mike Madigan to be their leader.

The first is an op-ed drafted by Rep. Margo McDermed, outlining how their Speaker, Mike Madigan, makes millions under a conflict of interest property tax scheme.

Read the op-ed here.

The second is a recent editorial by The News-Gazette exposing Democrats’ long-standing tradition of deploying “deceitful games” and “disingenuous tactics” to mislead their constituents about their support of Madigan’s leadership.

Read the editorial here.

Today’s delivery is part of the Illinois Republican Party’s ongoing effort to educate stakeholders and the public about why Madigan desperately wants to protect the status quo, and how Democrats empower him to do so.

Now, Democrats have no excuse for being in the dark about Madigan’s rigged property tax appeals practice, and Democrats can no longer run from their support of Madigan as their undisputed leader.

Knowing that Madigan makes millions from controlling the status quo, will House Democrats continue to support the most corrupt and longest reigning Speaker in American politics?

McDermed’s op-ed is from August, so it’s hardly new info.


*** LIVE *** Veto Session Coverage

Wednesday, Nov 30, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Follow along with ScribbleLive

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Wednesday, Nov 30, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

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* Cash bail did not necessarily make us any safer (Updated)
* Isabel’s afternoon roundup (Updated)
* GOP poll has Sorensen up by 9 points, but below 50 percent
* Showcasing The Retailers Who Make Illinois Work
* It’s just a bill
* Revenue omnibus includes some little-noticed charitable provisions
* Pritzker teams up with IBM, Discover Financial to push for federal quantum funds
* They’ll come back to it
* Open thread
* Isabel’s morning briefing
* Live coverage
* Selected press releases (Live updates)
* Yesterday's stories

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