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Wednesday, Nov 23, 2016

* Josh Beneze is a friend of mine. He just turned 34 years old. Josh was sent to Rhode Island by the Illinois Community College Board for a conference and had a brain aneurysm. He’s now stuck out there in the hospital in intensive care and facing more surgeries and lots of rehabilitation. His mom flew out from Arizona to be with him.

Nobody is really sure what his prognosis is, but the bills are already starting to pile up. His friends are moving his stuff into a storage room, so he won’t have to continue paying rent, but he’ll have to pay his own health insurance premiums soon (up to $900 a month) and he has a car payment to make every month. His mom isn’t exactly flush with cash, so being in Rhode Island is an expense she can ill afford.

To take some of the load off Josh and his family, his friends have set up a GoFundMe page.

Yes, I know I already hit you up yesterday and your response was fantastic. But life happens. So, if you can spare a few extra bucks, please, click here. Thanks!

* Per our tradition, Arlo will play us out

Happy Thanksgiving!

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


A look at the flipped districts

Wednesday, Nov 23, 2016

* Some of these districts were already “bad” for the Democrats, but their candidates managed to win in the past. Since then, of course, Rauner and his bigtime money and his go-for-the-juggular people arrived on the scene. Donald Trump also certainly helped the Republicans in Downstate districts, doing considerably better in some of these districts than Romney did four years ago (particularly Smiddy, Skoog, Cloonen)…


As I’ve said before, the object of the Republicans this year was to use their millions spent on the “Because… Madigan!” message to prevent legislative losses in the suburbs due to Trump, and keep Trump voters in the fold for Downstate legislative races. In the past, many of those same Downstaters who voted Republican for president would then vote Democratic at the legislative level. Not so much this time around.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


Judge tosses Fenwick case

Wednesday, Nov 23, 2016

* Sun-Times

A Cook County judge on Wednesday ruled that Plainfield North — not Fenwick High School — should play in the Class 7A football championship on Saturday.

Plainfield North will play East St. Louis for Class 7A state title.

After the ruling, Fenwick Principal Peter Groom said Fenwick won’t pursue the issue, and that the focus should be on the 16 teams playing this weekend.

Judge Kathleen G. Kennedy agreed Fenwick had shown “irreparable harm” but did not prove that the Illinois High School Association had applied its rules inconsistently.

Fenwick had lost the semifinal last Saturday to Plainfield North after a mistake by the officials led to a tying field goal. Plainfield North then won in overtime.

* Tribune

Near the end of regulation in Saturday’s semifinal game, Fenwick was clinging to a 10-7 lead and had the ball at its own 15-yard line. With four seconds left, the Friars’ quarterback threw a deep pass on fourth down for an incompletion, seemingly ending the game.

But the officials ruled that play to be intentional grounding, a penalty. With no time left on the clock, the officiating crew then awarded Plainfield North one play, allowing them to kick a game-tying field goal.

In extra time, both teams scored, but Plainfield North ran in a two-point conversion, setting off a wild celebration for the Tigers and eliciting anger and confusion from the Fenwick faithful.

Several hours after the game, the IHSA issued a statement that stated the officials erred when they gave Plainfield North one final play after the passing penalty.

The IHSA cited bylaw 6.033, which states “the decisions of game officials are final.”

* There is some IHSA precedent

Fenwick’s appeal cited a 2008 case in which the Mississippi High School Activities Association reinstated a team into the playoffs three days after a similar enforcement of an incorrect call on the final play of regulation allowed a team to score an apparent game-winning touchdown. Also in 2008, the IHSA established precedent by overturning results of the Illinois wrestling tournament three days after Edwardsville celebrated beating Granite City by half a point. A recount revealed Granite City actually won 2171/2-217 and the IHSA — after initially clinging to a rule that says results must be corrected within 30 minutes of the end of a tournament — rightly reversed the outcome.

In that case, the Edwardsville coach detected the scoring error himself and contacted the Granite City coach in a display of the type of sportsmanship we all want to define youth sports.

* Official IHSA statement…

Today’s decision by the Honorable Kathleen G. Kennedy in the Circuit Court of Chicago to uphold the result of the IHSA Class 7A Semifinal Football game is not a victory. There is no celebration and there are no winners in this circumstance. It is simply a resolution.

The Fenwick High School community has been dealt a pair of devastating blows over the past few days, while Plainfield North had a historic moment shrouded in controversy simply for following the rules provided for them, first by the game officials, and then by the IHSA.

We will move forward now, in the short-term with eight state championship football games at the University of Illinois this weekend. In the long-run, it is our job as an Association, Board of Directors and membership to look at our policies and rules to see if and how we might be able to prevent instances like this in the future.

We appreciate Judge Kennedy’s ruling from the perspective that we believe it is vital for membership organizations like the IHSA to be able to self-govern within the rules set by our member schools. Judge Kennedy recognized the historic precedent that would have resulted if she had overturned the outcome of the game based on an officiating error. This is the same pitfall our membership foresaw in originally approving the by-law, and that our Board of Directors recognized in their decision not to consider an appeal.

- Posted by Rich Miller   66 Comments      


Question of the day

Wednesday, Nov 23, 2016

* Your caption?…


- Posted by Rich Miller   161 Comments      


Shimkus in line for big promotion

Wednesday, Nov 23, 2016

* People I’ve talked to think this is a very good bet

Though Illinois lost some Washington clout on the Democratic side in the Nov. 8 election, downstate Republican Rep. John Shimkus stands to be a big winner if he can pull together the votes he needs.

Shimkus is one of three candidates and, by some accounts, the favorite to take over the chairmanship of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce in the new Congress. […]

Whoever wins will succeed Michigan’s Fred Upton. The winner also picks up a powerful slot that gives him a say over not just energy policy (including supervision of Illinois’ sizable nuclear power industry) but telecom, consumer protection and the pending repeal or rewrite of Obamacare.

Shimkus spoke at a high school graduation event I attended earlier this year (another one of my super-smart and talented nieces).

He brought along a tray of tomato plants and used it to illustrate his life lesson, which was, essentially: Plant yourself where you find yourself and grow from there.

Shimkus told the story of how he’d become chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, which he jokingly described as the “garbage committee.” The subcommittee has been working since the 1970s to revise garbage regulations. Shimkus told the audience that he decided to make the best of his assignment and was on the verge of getting the bill passed and signed into law.

I kinda chuckled at Shimkus’ “garbage committee” story back then. But I ain’t chuckling now.

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      


Some House Democrats are facing a real dilemma

Wednesday, Nov 23, 2016

* The first official vote this newly elected Democratic legislator will cast after being sworn in is during the election for House Speaker

Newly elected 112th state Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Glen Carbon, said shortly after being elected that it’s a bit premature to say whether she’ll support Madigan for speaker.

“I don’t know what the options will be,” Stuart said. “You’re asking me a hypothetical question just like I wouldn’t tell you how I would vote on any piece of legislation until I actually read the legislation.”

Rauner beat Quinn 58-37 in that district two years ago. The vast majority of votes in that district come from Madison County, which has been trending more Republican with every passing year. It now has a GOP county board chairman and a GOP county board, for instance.

Not to mention that her regional newspapers, the Alton Telegraph and the Belleville News-Democrat, both despise Madigan.

* Stuart defeated Rep. Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) for various reasons. He seemingly equated birth control with promiscuity, for instance, and Stuart proved herself to be an extremely hard-working candidate. Unless he runs again (and few expect that to happen), she’ll have to work non-stop between now and November, 2018 to win reelection. And unless something changes in this state, her vote for Madigan won’t help.

She might wanna consider calling in sick, or at least pray for a Metro East blizzard in early January. /s

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      


Reuters: Late payment fees growing by $2.4 milion a week

Wednesday, Nov 23, 2016

* Unpaid state vendors can get 90 percent of what they’re owed up front by using a state program that allows them to borrow cash from private sector interests. They get the rest when the state pays up and the lender keeps the late fees. Those fees are really piling up, according to Reuters’ Dave McKinney and Karen Pierog

Illinois owes a handful of financial consortia more than $118 million under an obscure program intended to speed up overdue payments to the cash-strapped state’s vendors, an analysis of state records shows. […]

But it comes at a heavy cost with unlimited late-payment fees now approaching 20 percent in some cases for Illinois’ cash-strapped government, whose general obligation (GO) low-investment grade credit ratings are the lowest among U.S. states. […]

Fees on unpaid bills in the program have been growing by more than $2.6 million per week and could exceed $194 million by June 30, according to a Reuters analysis of state data as of Sept. 28. […]

By the end of Rauner’s term in January 2019, total interest on unpaid receivables in the program could exceed $351 million if there is no progress in reducing the bill backlog, Reuters calculations show. […]

As of late September, four participating VSI lenders had bought 15,369 unpaid receivables worth $1.12 billion under the program. Late-payment penalties on those billings surpassed $118 million and continue to grow, Reuters has found.

Illinois law places no limit on how long the late fees can accrue and since 2010 the state has spent about $929 million in late-payment penalties, according to state comptroller data.

* A handy, and striking, visual aid

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      


It’s time to change the state’s forfeiture laws

Wednesday, Nov 23, 2016

* Aside from the obvious about all the forfeitures here, the worst part of this story is that there is no statewide reporting requirement

A new study says Illinois law enforcement is seizing hundreds of millions of dollars of property belonging to citizens suspected, but not necessarily convicted, of a crime.

A joint study by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and the Illinois Policy Institute shows law enforcement agencies have seized $319 million from citizens from 2005 to 2015. In Illinois, people don’t need to be convicted of a crime to have their property seized, a practice typically known as civil asset forfeiture.

ACLU criminal justice policy attorney Ben Ruddell says the number is likely much higher since reporting forfeiture statistics is not required by Illinois law. “That $319 million is a conservative figure that we know doesn’t cover the full picture here,” he said. Typically, seized property goes back to the law enforcement agency that seizes it. Ruddell adds that this creates an incentive for law enforcement to seize more property to boost their budgets.

The study states that automobiles are the most common type of seizure. “Your life can fall apart during that period of time without that transportation,” Ruddell said. “You can lose your job. There is a whole cascade of consequences that can transpire from that.”

Ruddell said the law needs to be changed to remove the monetary incentive to seizing property by, for instance, diverting the proceeds to a state revenue fund. Also, he said the state needs to strengthen the owners right to retrieve their property. “The burden of proof needs to be where it belongs — with the government to prove that there was a crime before they can take it away.” […]

The Rock Island Police Department led the state with 39 forfeitures per 10,000 residents, followed by the Decatur Police Department with 23.6.

* The study (click here) included three policy recommendations

1) Provide fair legal standards and procedures in forfeiture cases: Illinois forfeiture laws should require a criminal conviction before property can be forfeited to the government. The burden of proof in a forfeiture action should rest squarely upon the government and should be raised to require clear and convincing evidence. The practice of “nonjudicial” forfeiture, where property may be forfeited without a judge’s consideration of the merits of the case, should be eliminated. The law should require that civil forfeiture proceedings be instituted against the property owner rather than against the property itself, and all known owners of seized property should be named in the complaint and served with process. Finally, lawmakers should eliminate the requirement for the owner to post a cash bond for the right to challenge a forfeiture in court.

2) Remove incentives to engage in “policing for profit”: Any property gained by the government through forfeiture should be auctioned and the proceeds deposited directly into the general revenue fund and appropriated by the General Assembly rather than being awarded directly to police and prosecutors’ offices. Illinois law enforcement agencies should be restricted from participating in federal equitable sharing programs so they cannot circumvent reforms to state forfeiture law and procedures.

3) Increase transparency about how forfeiture funds are acquired and used: Law enforcement agencies and prosecutors’ offices should be required to publicly report information about how much property they seize, where and when the seizures took place, the outcome of all forfeiture cases, and how they spend any forfeiture proceeds.

Seems reasonable to me. Your thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      


Rauner says he wants to find another way on property taxes

Wednesday, Nov 23, 2016

* The governor often claims to have pared back his infamous Turnaround Agenda, going as far back as May of 2015. So, this comment from yesterday isn’t really a new thing

“I got it down to basically five things now, from 44,” Rauner said. “And we can, you know, throw out one or two. It has to be significant. It has to send a message to job creators that it’s a new day in Illinois, come to Illinois.”

* What is somewhat new is this

Rauner on Tuesday indicated he was willing to consider other options for alleviating the revenue lost by a property tax freeze.

“I’m willing to change it in whatever way we can get done with the General Assembly,” the governor said. “There’s no one way that it has to be. What we’ve got to do is bring down property taxes. There’s various ways to do it. More local control of bargaining, bidding, contracting is one way. Reducing the number of units of government and government consolidation helps. There’s a lot of different ways to do it.”

“I’m open,” Rauner said. “I want to be flexible.”

If that’s true, then it would eliminate a very problematic bone of contention. Click here to read “The Mother of all Poison Pills” if you need a refresher.

* Raw audio. His property tax comments start at about the 5:30 mark..

- Posted by Rich Miller   77 Comments      


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Wednesday, Nov 23, 2016

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Good morning!

Wednesday, Nov 23, 2016

* Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will kick off our day

Cause I know there’s no one blinder
Than a fool who just couldn’t see

- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      


« NEWER POSTS PREVIOUS POSTS »
* McCann tries to turn the Madigan issue back on Rauner
* Rauner says he'll soon announce "several really exciting" results of his trade mission
* Our sorry state
* It's just a bill
* *** UPDATED x2 - Pritzker, Mendoza respond *** Rauner gets it half right while denying all blame
* ¯_(ツ)_/¯
* Question of the day
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* Rate the new Sam McCann campaign video
* Way out of context
* Did Tazewell County and Chicago ignore state law?
* Rauner calls legislators "rascals" ahead of budget talks
* *** LIVE *** Session coverage
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