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Thursday, Dec 22, 2016

* I will likely do a Capitol Fax for subscribers tomorrow, but I’m done blogging for a bit. If anything huge breaks, I’ll make sure to post it.

I’ll be back after the new year, likely January 4th or 5th. Gonna take it slow and easy and play things by ear. You should, too, because this crazy storm ain’t ending anytime soon.

People say I have the best job in Illinois and they’re right. It ain’t a piece of cake, but I still love it and I have loads of fun doing it. I wake up every day with the goal of earning your loyalty and your trust. So, thanks for reading this little blog, for your comments and for just being you. And many, many thanks to my subscribers and my advertisers.

* I cannot leave, however, without mentioning that my old pal Mike McGann passed away early this morning. You know how I always say “Yard signs don’t vote”? Well, Mike used to say that all the time. Every time I wrote that phrase I was paying homage to his vast knowledge.

Mike was a proud leftie, a strong union man, a loyal Vince Demuzio lieutenant and the snazziest dresser in all of southern Illinois. Here he is doing one of his favorite things, working a campaign…

Mike had a million friends, so I’ll post his arrangements as soon as I get them.

* As is our custom, we’ll close out the year with Suzy Snowflake

Frosty the Snowman

And Hardrock, Coco and Joe

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


And the winners are…

Thursday, Dec 22, 2016

* The 2016 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best “Do-Gooder” Lobbyist goes to Emily Miller

I just don’t know how you can not nominate Emily Miller. She’s dedicated to one thing and one thing only - doing what’s right for those without a voice. Though we don’t have a budget, she effectively went toe-to-toe with the Governor’s office and won every media contest. She called the gov out every time the office issued some bogus proclamation (after they proposed gutting funding for the very program the gov touted, of course) and was the engine behind the RBC. Class act and in it for all the right reasons.

Honorable mention to Jack Darin of the Sierra Club.

* The 2016 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Contract Lobbyist goes to Liz Brown Reeves

Let’s face it, LBR is among the most aggressive advocates under the dome. She works a roll call like no one else and she has incredible energy. She can open virtually any door at the Capitol and operates well without being one of the “anointed” former staffers.

As a businesswoman, she’s among the most savvy…leaving the House some years ago, investing her time and interest in the Senate and the GOP, knowing that resting her hat in one caucus is a risky approach.

Liz has forged relationships with labor and business alike and often does a lot of pro-bono work for not-for-profits. If there’s anyone to credit for getting the rank-and-file on board of the recent energy bill, it’s her.

And while she’s not “new,” she’s young and will likely have a legacy of forging the path for a new generation of hired guns.

Lots of you nominated Mike McClain, but he got the Best Insider award today, so I decided to mix it up a bit.

Honorable mention to Dave Sullivan, a past winner.

* The 2016 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best CapitolFax.com commenter goes to Honeybear

We agree about very little, but I read all of her posts. They are filled to the point of dripping with passion and emotion. At the same time, she is open to learning the views of others. She can be very quick to apologize, demonstrating the emotional concern for others feelings and pride. That might be a great lesson to other commenters who have been here a long time and don’t realize how easy it is to shoo away new people with snide-ness. If you care about this blog; you want new people to come here and participate!

HB is genuine all the time. As I stated in the beginning, we agree on almost nothing, but she always warrants my attention because she’s earned my respect with not just saying things, but also getting out and doing things. She has shared, without saying so, that even a losing effort can be a worthy one when you believe in it. We absolutely agree on that fundamental belief.

That comment was written by “A Guy,” who has had more than a couple dustups with Wordslinger and Oswego Willy over the years. But both of those commenters also nominated Honeybear, so I’ll let “A Guy” speak to that shocker

I just got back and am so pleased to see so many people bleeding for the “Queen of bleeding Hearts”, Ms. Honey Bear!

If OW, Sling and I agree on anything, ever!!! This almost has to be called a Technical Knock Out and just end it here.

Why…it’s a Christmas Miracle! Merry Christmas to all of you! Wishing you the Happiest of all of the Holidays you celebrate. Hope a couple of you get a small dusting of coal dust, among a large dose of goodness-lol.

I also say thanks to Rich. It’s a lively place.

And, for that A Guy gets honorable mention.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


It looks like the lid is on

Thursday, Dec 22, 2016

* FYI, I’ll be shutting down comments at about 4:30 today and won’t open them up again until the new year…


- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


*** UPDATED x2 - AFSCME responds *** Rauner demands AFSCME pay $2 million a day during impasse

Thursday, Dec 22, 2016

* Press release…

The following is attributable to Dennis Murashko, General Counsel to Governor Bruce Rauner, regarding the administration filing an unfair labor practice against AFSCME Council 31 and seeking damages for the cost of delaying the implementation of the last, best and final offer:

“Upon the Labor Board’s unanimous decision that the parties are at impasse, the tolling agreement between the administration and AFSCME officially terminated. Despite this, AFSCME continues to argue the tolling agreement still applies and the administration should be enjoined from implementing our last, best and final offer.

“Continuing to stall, instead of working with us to implement our last, best and final offer that is substantially similar to the contracts agreed to by 18 other unions, only costs taxpayers more money – approximately $2 million every day this drags on. As a result, today our administration filed an unfair labor practice against AFSCME Council 31 and is seeking damages for the $2 million each day we are prevented from implementing a contract that is fair to taxpayers and employees alike.”

*** UPDATE 1 ***  The ULP filing is here.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Anders Lindall at Council 31…

“The real waste of taxpayer money is Governor Rauner’s stubborn refusal to negotiate with our union for nearly a year. All that time AFSCME members have been working hard to serve their communities.

“This filing is a disgraceful attempt to intimidate union members from exercising their legal rights. The governor may wish to dictate not negotiate, but he is not above the law.

“Instead of bringing frivolous claims before his appointed labor board, Governor Rauner should return to bargaining in good faith and work with us toward an agreement that’s fair to all. If he refuses to do so, any resulting litigation and the threat of a disruptive strike are Bruce Rauner’s fault alone.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      


*** UPDATED x3 *** Rauner contributes $50 million to his campaign fund

Thursday, Dec 22, 2016

* Here’s the A-1.

I may have more in a bit but that has to be the biggest ever. ADDING: It is the biggest ever in Illinois. Click here for the top ten. All ten are Rauner-related, by the way.

*** UPDATE 1 *** I’m told we should consider this a “first installment.” He raised $40 million on top of what he contributed himself in 2014, and gave most of his top donors a break in this recent cycle. His top contributor, Ken Griffin, just gave Chicago $12 million for a bike path, so they’ve got the money to go all in. And early money means they can start the race at the date of their choosing.

The Rauner folks say they have had a plan for potential Democratic opponents and any early hits against them. Part of that plan was leaving their 2016 “campaign infrastructure” in place for 2018. It’s still out there today.

So, opponents beware, is essentially the message here.

*** UPDATE 2 ***   Tina Sfondeles at the Sun-Times

Steve Brown, spokesman for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, on Thursday said the contributions show Rauner can’t run on his accomplishments alone.

“Looks like he’s running scared to me,” Brown said. “If you had the accomplishments, why would you have to spend that kind of money?”

Brown said the money won’t scare other candidates away.

“Everyone knows he’s got wealth so I assume he’s just running scared,” Brown said.

*** UPDATE 3 *** Greg Hinz

“This race begins in earnest,” said one top Rauner hand, speaking on a not-for-attribution basis. “We can start tomorrow, next week (or) next year. … It gives us tactical flexibility.” […]

“Consider this a first installment,” says my background Rauner source. “Our early definition of possible opponents with opposition (material) any second-grader can get off the internet is part one of our standard playbook. We haven’t even reached into the good stuff yet.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   95 Comments      


Today’s quotable

Thursday, Dec 22, 2016

* US Sen. Mark Kirk in the Trib

Early in his first Senate term, Kirk spoke with concern about Illinois’ financial picture. He said that his companion, Dodie McCracken, had urged him to explore a 2014 run for governor. Kirk said he told her, “If I lose, I will commit suicide, and if I win, I will also commit suicide.”

Heh.

But that’s pretty much why I automatically question the sanity of anyone who wants to run for governor these days.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


“It’s gonna be a hard year”

Thursday, Dec 22, 2016

* Tony Arnold at WBEZ

Organizations that serve victims of domestic violence are about to stop receiving money from the Illinois state government because lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner have not approved a full budget.

Last year when the state government faced a similar scenario, the Democrat-controlled legislature and Rauner struck a deal to release state funds for lottery winners, salt for roads and more than $18 million for domestic violence shelters.

Another deal was struck in June of 2016 for a six month spending plan for most state services.

But domestic violence organizations were not included in that plan.

Now, managers of domestic violence organizations are trying to figure out what happens if there is once again no state budget.

“It’s gonna be a hard year,” said Jane Farmer of the Turning Point program in Woodstock, Ill.

Farmer said last year, the organization received more than 2,600 crisis calls — and she’s expecting a similar number of calls in 2017. She said she is thinking of taking out a loan and leaving a position vacant until there’s a budget. […]

“We fully intend to pay all domestic violence programs that have contracts with the state in full once the General Assembly passes a balanced budget alongside meaningful structural reforms,” said DHS spokeswoman Meghan Powers in a statement.

2,600 crisis calls in a year in a picturesque village of 25,000 people.

And yet, no money.

We really need a budget.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


EFAB wants to increase K-12 spending by $4.6 billion

Thursday, Dec 22, 2016

* Press release…

Education Funding Advisory Board implores General Assembly and Governor to end State’s failure to adequately fund public education

EFAB recommends raising per-pupil Foundation Level to $9,204

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Education Funding Advisory Board (EFAB) today submitted its regular biennial education funding recommendations to the Illinois General Assembly, in accordance with the Illinois School Code. In its report, EFAB recommends increasing the statutory per-pupil Foundation Level from the current amount of $6,119 to $9,204 for fiscal year 2018. The Foundation Level establishes the mandated minimum per-pupil funding achieved through a mix of state and local funds. Statute requires the State to provide school districts with the difference between the Foundation Level and a district’s local wealth, as calculated by the equalization Formula Grant, in addition to providing the Supplemental Low-Income Grant, based on a district’s percentage of low-income students.

As stated in the report, in 11 of the past 15 years, the State has not met its statutory obligation to fully fund the Foundation Level and the components of the low-income grant, resulting in the State prorating or paying only a portion of the amount owed to districts through their General State Aid claims.

“EFAB renews its commitment to advocating for the state to end its failure to meet its constitutional responsibilities to adequately fund public education,” said Board Chair Sylvia Puente, echoing statements made by EFAB in its report. “Increasing funding for basic education in Illinois will be a challenge, but it is a challenge we ask every policymaker and citizen to embrace. The children of Illinois deserve no less. We ask our policymakers to note that in each of the years that the state has failed to meet its obligations, school districts must continue to meet all of the statutory requirements imposed upon them. This situation should not be allowed to continue.”

EFAB’s recommended increase to the Foundation Level would require $4.6 billion in additional funding in fiscal year 2018, or almost double the current appropriation for public education.

In its report, EFAB acknowledges the efforts of both the General Assembly and Governor Rauner to increase funding in both FY 2016 and FY 2017 and to revise how the state sends funding to districts; yet, EFAB also implores the General Assembly and the Governor to work together to increase the resources available for public education, in order to offer Illinois children the tools they deserve and need to compete in a global economy. The General Assembly and the Governor last adopted the EFAB recommendation in FY 2002. Since then, the increases in the Foundation Level have failed to keep pace with EFAB recommendations. The current Foundation Level of $6,119 has remained the same since FY 2010.

Current members of the Education Funding Advisory Board include Sylvia Puente (executive director of the Latino Policy Forum; Chicago), Sheila Harrison-Williams (superintendent of Hazel Crest School District 152.5; Hazel Crest), Cinda Klickna (president of the Illinois Education Association; Springfield), and Daniel Montgomery (president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers; Westmont). The Board has one vacancy.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


Question of the day Part 2 - Golden Horseshoe Awards

Thursday, Dec 22, 2016

* The 2016 Golden Horsehoe Award for Best In-House Lobbyist goes to Lizbeth Ramirez at ComEd

Polite, professional, diligent and focused on her client. Works hard and her political chops are solid. Understands the leverage between working to deliver for the members and ComEd so everyone stays whole.

Honorable mention to Scott Humbard at Exelon Generation.

* The 2016 Golden Horsehoe Award for Best Legislative Liaison goes to John Thompson at the Illinois State Police

John Thompson at State Police is one of the hardest working guys under the dome. ISP had a pretty bad reputation with legislative staff, but John has worked hard to repair those relationships. He listens to all perspectives and gets along with everyone. He is a super guy.

Honorable mention to Bob Stefanski, the Governor’s Senior House Liaison.

* On to today’s categories. Mike McClain retired this month, so I’m unilaterally giving him the 2016 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Statehouse Insider. It was named after him anyway and there was no way he was gonna lose, so I basically just saved everyone the time.

You may have noticed that all names have been removed from the Golden Horseshoe Awards this year. I thought we needed a reboot and I think we’re just gonna steer clear of putting peoples’ names on these from here on out.

This last category is always the most fun for commenters here because y’all get to choose one of your own. So, please make your nominations for Best CapitolFax.com Commenter below. Make sure to fully explain your nomination or it won’t count. Thanks again!

I’ll announce all of today’s winners later this afternoon, so get on it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      


The impasse is killing our state

Thursday, Dec 22, 2016

* The Sun-Times editorializes about the more than 114,000 Illinoisans who left for other states in the past year and connects it to the big squeeze on higher education

Those are broad strokes. So let’s consider how Springfield’s failure to govern has played out in one specific area: Higher education. The quality of public universities is at the heart of why many people choose to live in one state or another, and Illinois has long been known for some of the best. But the state Legislature has chipped away at funding for universities for two decades, and Gov. Bruce Rauner came into office saying he wanted to cut higher ed funding by a third.

Then came the end of state budgets. Since then, money for higher education has been sporadic, unpredictable and insufficient. Current funding will end with the expiration of the state’s stopgap spending plan on Dec. 31, and the universities have no idea when they will see more funding. They are in crisis mode: freezing hiring, cutting staff and delaying maintenance.

When a state cannot be bothered to write a budget, a public university cannot plan. It cannot offer certainty about tuition or faculty pay or what programs will continue on.

Should anybody be surprised, then, that Illinois this fall suffered a net outmigration of 16,000 higher ed students? Our state is losing bright young people to other states. They will embark on careers and offer their talents elsewhere.

A preliminary report this week by the Illinois Board of Higher Education reveals that enrollment is dropping in all centers of higher education in Illinois — public universities, community colleges and private colleges, which typically depend on state scholarship aid for some of their students. Southern Illinois University at Carbondale suffered the biggest loss — 6½ percent of its enrollment, including 11 percent of its graduate students.

As tuition rises and university finances grow shakier, students and their families are hesitating to enroll at an Illinois school that might cut back on classes or even shut down, making it hard or impossible to graduate. As Illinois State University President Larry Dietz points out, this is the time of year when students and their families are making decisions about where to enroll in the fall.

Financial aid is contingent on a state budget, but nobody knows if and when there will be one. The stopgap budget that expires in a couple of weeks provided money to pay off last year’s Monetary Assistant Program scholarships, but included no such funding for this year.

We really need a budget, man.

- Posted by Rich Miller   64 Comments      


Just go away, dude

Thursday, Dec 22, 2016

* I know it’s Christmas, but I still can’t bring myself to forgive this man

More than 100 of Rod Blagojevich’s fellow inmates wrote letters to U.S. District Judge James Zagel before the former governor’s re-sentencing earlier this year.

They told the judge that Blagojevich, 60, “loves his family,” “loves to help other people,” and is “a leader and a good man.” One even wrote, “I don’t believe there is a man alive that I respect and appreciate more than Rod.”

But when Zagel took the bench in August, he said those inmates “don’t know him and they don’t know him in the context of a powerful officeholder in Congress and in Illinois.” Then, Zagel reinstated Blagojevich’s original 14-year prison sentence.

Now, the former governor’s lawyers have complained to an appellate court in a brief filed late Tuesday about Zagel’s quick dismissal of those letters, arguing Blagojevich deserves yet another sentencing hearing. The brief comes four months after the lawyers filed notice of their intention to appeal Blagojevich’s new prison sentence.

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      


K-12 funding reform solution still elusive

Thursday, Dec 22, 2016

* Dan Petrella

Illinois’ top leaders aren’t meeting to discuss the state budget, but a group that includes rank-and-file lawmakers from both parties has been meeting more frequently in recent weeks to come up with a plan to overhaul the way the state funds public schools.

Despite the standstill over the broader state budget, members of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s education funding reform commission say they’re optimistic that the group, which has been meeting since summer, will be able to come up with at least the outlines of what a new school funding formula should look like.

* But

A recent report from Advance Illinois, an education advocacy group, notes that under the current formula, Illinois spends 81 cents educating students from low-income families for every dollar it spends educating kids from wealthier ones.

“That is just upside-down from what we know needs to happen,” said Ginger Ostro, Advance Illinois’ executive director.

So far, however, long-term proposals aimed at fixing the problem haven’t been approved because they would either take money away from wealthier districts or vastly increase state spending on public education, both of which are politically challenging.

The full Advance Illinois report is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


Mayor Emanuel agrees to release e-mails from private account

Thursday, Dec 22, 2016

* BGA

As a result of a BGA investigation and legal action, The City of Chicago and Mayor Rahm Emanuel have agreed to release all of Emanuel’s private emails related to city business—subject to any applicable legal exemptions—and institute a new policy that will ban city employees and officials from using their private email accounts to conduct city business.

The city’s change in practices comes in response to Freedom of Information Act requests and lawsuits filed by the BGA, and separately by the Chicago Tribune, and follows more than a year of hard-fought litigation and rulings by two Cook County judges that public officials’ emails are not outside the scope of FOIA simply because they are on a private account.

The e-mails are here.

* From a Mayor Emanuel e-mail to Bruce Rauner…


Aww. So cute.

* I told subscribers about this e-mail chain today, so I’ll just leave it at that for now…


* Sun-Times

The newly released emails show the mayor and his advisers’ reactions in some stressful moments. On the first day of the 2012 teachers’ strike, Frank Clark — now Emanuel’s school board president — wrote to the mayor offering support and advice.

“This unfortunate situation does however provide a window of opportunity to focus the media and the general public in another direction. Namely, toward more charter schools,” Clark wrote on Sept. 10, 2012.

Before he became governor, Bruce Rauner and his wife, Diana, often wrote to Emanuel about education issues. In one email in June 2012, Diana Rauner told Emanuel, “Congratulations on the $ for the web portal. But what are you doing about proposed cuts in [Chicago Public Schools] funding.”

* Tribune

That included an exchange of emails between hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin – a longtime donor to Emanuel – and the mayor about the lakefront bike trail, a conversation apparently touched off in part by Griffin damaging his car on a speed bump.

“Lake front bike path is a disaster. How can this be after they just refinished much of the path?” Griffin wrote Emanuel in April of this year. “Why doesn’t the city paint the speed bumps on the road white – my damage bill is over $10k from going over one at dusk.”

Emanuel wrote back that paint was a good idea, “I will look into it,” and explained how the plan was to separate biking and running lanes.

“Can they accept private funding.. this is a mess,” wrote Griffin.

“Yes why don’t I come with the commissioner present our plans and we can do a lot with you,” the mayor wrote. Griffin just this week pledged $12 million for a project to help separate uses on the path.

* Related…

* Personal Rahm Emanuel Emails Reveal Much About Business, Little About Scandals

* Emanuel emails reveal he promoted city to heavy hitters during Cubs playoff game

* Feder: Emails reveal how Emanuel works the media — and vice versa

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


Question of the day - Golden Horseshoe Awards

Thursday, Dec 22, 2016

* I haven’t had a chance yet to tally up the votes in yesterday’s Golden Horseshoe Award categories, so you can continue voting on that one if you like and I’ll declare the winner later today. Here are today’s categories…

* Best “Do-Gooder” Lobbyist

* Best Contract Lobbyist

As always, please explain your answers or they won’t count. Also, do your very best to nominate in both categories. Thanks!

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      


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

Thursday, Dec 22, 2016

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


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* Janus apparently no longer loves his state job, hires on with Illinois Policy Institute
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* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Fundraiser list
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* Unsolicited advice
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* Entire IPHCA executive committee resigns, lawyer let go after racism controversy
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* Doom and gloom abounds, but a new pension idea emerges
* Another lawsuit filed in Quincy veterans' home deaths: "For a year and a half, he loved that place. And it killed him"
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* Weiss Hospital To Get New Owner


* IDPH Investigation Continues As Foodborne Illnesses Increase
* Gov. Rauner signs HB 5611
* Summit for Success: IDOT providing tools, opportunity for disadvantaged businesses
* Illinois Payrolls Jump +18,100
* Liquor Control Commission Underage Compliance Report for Cook County

  
* OxygenOS 5.0.4 for OnePlus 3/3T brings July security patch and camera improvements
* Designers, don’t be afraid to let robots design
* Pocket Nightcap: Buy the damn MacBook Pro (stick with me here)
* Xiaomi: 5 things you didn’t know about the Apple of the East
* The Galaxy Note 9 leak you need to know what to expect
* Reward yourself this summer with the ultimate wireless earbuds — now 55% off
* FCC now accepting your petitions on whether T-Mobile - Sprint merger should go through

* Shields outdueled in stellar night on mound
* Mariners beat White Sox, get back on winning track
* Mariners 3, White Sox 1: New half, same loss
* Mariners 3, White Sox 1: New half, same loss
* Abreu happy to talk about ASG, not rumors
* Servais, Mariners living the dream as White Sox season a nig...
* LeBlanc, relievers shut down White Sox in Mariners' 3-1 win


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