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Quick session day roundup

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017

* A handful of the grand bargain bills passed today, including an appropriations bill, the gaming bill, a bill to give CPS its pension parity cash, a procurement reform bill and a local government consolidation bill. But the pension reform bill came up short and will have to be voted on again tomorrow. Another bill (click here for background) was pulled out of the record.

The tax hike is up tomorrow, which is the biggie.

* Sun-Times

Soon after, senators failed to pass the pension reform bill, once again, with a 26-27 vote. A motion to reconsider allows the bill to be called for a vote once again. On Feb. 8, the pension reform bill garnered just 18 votes — showing there’s a clear effort to garner the votes needed to pass the bill.

The bill would create savings by allowing public sector employees to choose whether their benefits are related to raises they may get or to annual cost of living adjustments to their pensions during retirement. It covers university employees, public school teachers, General Assembly members and Chicago teachers. Retirees and judges are not covered. And other state employees are currently not part of the plan because of ongoing legal action with their contract. It also eliminates the retirement system for future for future lawmakers.

“It’s just a matter of convincing people that it’s part of the grand bargain. If they are reluctant to vote for this individual bill, they should have gotten a broader view of it,” Cullerton said after session. “They all go down if this goes down.”

The Senate president blamed union opposition for some Democratic no votes. But he still posed some optimism about the package.

“People just have to understand this is the classic compromise. So you get as much as you can and you don’t overestimate how much you think you’re entitled to,” Cullerton said. “And that’s what we’re trying to do.”

* Illinois Policy Institute’s news service

Cullerton appealed for support on the pension bill.

“If you don’t like a bill that’s in the package, then vote ‘no.’ If you like a bill in the package, then vote ‘yes’. It’s not that complicated,” he said. “Sure, if one of them doesn’t pass then they all fail. You would win then, if that’s what you wanted to do.”

State Sen. Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, said before the session that the total package of bills isn’t a good deal for taxpayers.

“There’s too much increasing in taxes and not enough true reforms and spending cuts,” he said. “It’s important that we have enough spending cuts to say to the taxpayers of Illinois, ‘If we’re going to have to accept a tax increase, there’s a reasonable justification for it.”

More tomorrow.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


ISBE says CPS early closure could cost it half its projected savings

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017

* You may recall this development from yesterday

Chicago Public Schools upped the stakes of its legal challenge to state education funding on Monday, warning that the school year could end nearly three weeks early and summer school programs could be cut if the district doesn’t get a quick and favorable ruling.

* However

But shortening the school year on top of four previously imposed furlough days may not even fully close the budget gap. In court documents, CPS estimated saving $91 million, and an additional $5 million from canceling summer school for elementary and middle-school general education students. Claypool called those estimates “conservative.”

Chopping off 13 days will push CPS’ school year below the state’s legal threshold, meaning that some state aid will be jeopardized, too. ISBE requires 180 class days for full funding and counts CPS as having four more days than required.

Claypool said CPS attorneys believe they have even more wiggle room.

Do they really have wiggle room and how much will shutting down early cost CPS?

* From the Illinois State Board of Education…

School districts need to code in 185 days to ensure they get a minimum of 176 student attendance days, which can include two full-day parent teacher conferences. (The 185 days will include 4 Teacher Institutes and 5 emergency days. Districts can lower the student attendance days to 174 by adding a max of 2 Full Day Parent Teacher Conferences.)

    (105 ILCS 5/10-19) (from Ch. 122, par. 10-19)
    Sec. 10-19. Length of school term - experimental programs. Each school board shall annually prepare a calendar for the school term, specifying the opening and closing dates and providing a minimum term of at least 185 days to insure 176 days of actual pupil attendance,

If a district decides to have fewer days than the required minimum, then for every day below the minimum, their General State Aid would decrease by 1/176. The GSA reduction would be based on and assessed on the Fiscal Year 2018 GSA claim.

From the School Code:

    Except as otherwise provided in this Section, if any school district fails to provide the minimum school term specified in Section 10-19, the State aid claim for that year shall be reduced by the State Superintendent of Education in an amount equivalent to 1/176 or .56818% for each day less than the number of days required by this Code.

Districts can petition the General Assembly for a waiver from the minimum number of attendance days. However, historically, the General Assembly has not approved such requests. The General Assembly received the Spring waiver report today. Therefore, the next opportunity for a district to apply for a waiver would be in August 2017 for consideration in October 2017.

So, it may be too late for CPS to get a waiver. They’d better try, though. Read on.

* Being nine days short of the state minimum would cost CPS about 5 percent of its GSA entitlement claim (.56818% x 9 days = 5.11%).

According to the Illinois State Board of Education, CPS’ FY17 GSA entitlement claim was $890,528,630. That’s based on its 2015-2016 attendance. They don’t know what the current year’s attendance will be, of course, but assuming it’s the same as last year then CPS would lose a bit under $5.1 million for each of those nine days, for a total of around $45.5 million, which is about half of what CPS says it’ll save by closing schools early.

That reduction to CPS funding won’t come until next fiscal year, but that means next year’s hole just got bigger.

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      


Question of the day

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017

* Gov. Rauner was at the Polish American Association for Paczki Day

* The Question: Caption?

Keep it clean, people.

- Posted by Rich Miller   71 Comments      


AG Madigan’s turn to snub Trump

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017

* Mary Ann Ahern

President Donald Trump met Tuesday with a group of states’ attorneys general at the White House.
In all, about two dozen attended, but Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan declined the president’s invitation.

In a statement, Madigan told NBC 5, she “declined his invitation on behalf of the many Americans harmed by his actions.”

“This President has threatened our civil rights and civil liberties in a way we haven’t seen in decades,” the statement read. “He has put Wall Street bankers in the administration to protect the greed that brought our country to financial collapse.”

The president posed for a group photo with the attorneys general calling them “great people.” Those attending the White House meeting included Florida, Idaho and Georgia’s Attorney General.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


Vaporware lobbies up

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017

* Bob Reed

Champions of self-driving cars are embarking on a journey through one of the state’s most winding and hazardous passageways — the Illinois General Assembly.

Recently, state legislation was introduced that seeks to regulate use of this emerging technology by imposing tighter auto safety standards on cars using automated driving systems. It argues this is best accomplished by restricting the operation of self-driving cars to companies that make their own vehicles and have a track record for safety.

It’s a controversial bill that’s perceived as a sop to legacy automaker General Motors, which was instrumental in pushing the measure introduced this month by Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside. It’s strongly opposed by a coalition of driverless technology players, including Google, Uber Technologies, Ford and Volvo; the companies claim GM wants to ace them out of the self-driving auto market or, at the very least, slow them down.

Yet while this impending legislative fight is being framed as a marketplace tussle of old versus new ideas, Zalewski’s bill does raise another important question: Are these new self-driving vehicles being properly tested and will the public be safe in them once these vehicles are marketed en masse?

* Public safety and proper testing are definitely big issues

Last December, Uber’s self-driving cars hit the rain-slicked streets of San Francisco with much fanfare. It was meant to be a watershed moment — the upstart ride-hail company bringing autonomous driving to its city of origin, years before most experts predicted we’d begin to see self-driving cars en masse.

But it turned out to be a total flop. A week after Uber’s fleet of 16 luxury Volvo XC90 SUVs started picking up passengers, the program was brought to a grinding halt. The California Department of Motor Vehicles revoked Uber’s vehicle registrations after Uber refused to obtain a $150 permit authorizing it to test driverless cars in the state. And rather than correct what on the surface seemed like a clerical error, Uber refused to get licensed, instead shipping its autonomous fleet to Arizona where it could test its self-driving cars with less public scrutiny. […]

Why did Uber launch the self-driving in pilot in San Francisco if it knew it was in violation of the law? A likely scenario was that Uber didn’t want to disclose its disengagement rate — the number of times the vehicle forced the human driver to take control because it couldn’t safely navigate the conditions on the road — or any accidents to the DMV, and by extension the public. […]

A few days after it launched its unauthorized experiment in San Francisco, a self-driving Uber was caught on video running a red light. Uber claimed the car was under manual control at the time. “These incidents were due to human error,” a spokesperson told The Verge.

But that turned out to be false: the car had actually driven itself through the light, sources told The New York Times. In fact, Uber’s self-driving cars failed to recognize five other traffic lights around the city. Had it signed up for the permit, Uber would have had to report that infraction to the DMV.

We don’t want people testing cars that are going through red lights on public streets. And we shouldn’t be dedicating infrastructure spending to these vehicles. If they’re self-driving, then they should be using the roads with everyone else. If that can’t be done, why should we create special lanes or zones for them? Isn’t traffic already a big enough problem in places like Cook County?

* Back to the bill

After falling behind in self-driving cars, GM has unleashed its powerful lobbying team to cultivate relationships with statehouses. The largest U.S. vehicle maker by sales has a long history of backing legislation to preserve its interests, including a bill in Indiana last year that would stop electric-vehicle maker Tesla Inc. (TSLA) from operating its own stores there.

GM denied it is trying to keep tech companies out of the market for autonomous vehicles, noting that ultimately the lawmakers make the decision on what’s filed and that the company has worked with policy makers who have different views on the degree of legislation they want to support. On Thursday, the auto maker said it has been having discussions with Uber and Waymo, a unit of Google owner Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL), on language that everyone can support.

And we shouldn’t be passing legislation to favor one company over others in this early stage of the game.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


Pawar hires Trippi as chief strategist

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017

* Greg Hinz

Chicago Ald. Ameya Pawar hasn’t generated much media respect or money in his long-shot bid for governor. But the North Side Democrat may be about to change that with a very interesting hire.

Joining Pawar’s campaign as chief strategist will be Washington-based consultant Joe Trippi, Pawar’s campaign tells me. Team Pawar also has begun using the slogan “a new deal for Illinois,” a clear reference to Franklin D. Roosevelt and his national leadership during the Depression and World War II.

Trippi is on anyone’s national A list of advisers a candidate would want on their side.

Best known for being former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s campaign manager for president in 2004—Dean actually led for a while, until sort of imploding on TV—Trippi also ran Jerry Brown’s comeback bid to again be elected governor of California and a variety of successful congressional campaigns.

Pawar has reported raising $30K for both of his campaign committees since the start of the new year.

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Both sides of proposed shoplifting penalty reduction

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017

* From WGEM TV

A new proposal by the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform has been met with multiple opponents.

Right now, any theft valuing over $300 will land you a felony charge in Illinois. An Illinois criminal justice reform group has asked lawmakers to raise that thievery threshold to $2,000, in an attempt to combat prison overcrowding.

Executive Director Amy Looten of the Quincy Chamber of Commerce said on Monday that there are many reasons to oppose it. […]

“This sends a message to potential shoplifters that well you know it’s not that big of a deal.” Looten said. “The punishment’s not going to be that big, and we just think that’s the wrong message to send.” […]

“If you take away the punishment side of it, and you’re just going to slap them on the hand, they’re more likely to come back, and there’s more people that are going to try it for the first time.” [Quincy Menard’s Assistant General Manager Scott Warner] said.

* From the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform report

Rationale

Under current law, a theft where the property was not taken from a person is a felony if any of the following conditions are present:

    * Theft of goods worth more than $500 is a Class 3 Felony. If the goods are worth $500 or less the defendant is guilty of a Class 4 felony if he has previously been convicted of any type of theft.

    * Theft from a school or a place of worship, or theft of government property, is a Class 2 felony if the value of the items taken is more than $500. If the value of the goods taken from these places is worth less than $500, it is a Class 4 felony.

    * Retail theft where the value of the items taken is greater than $300 is a Class 3 felony. If the stolen items are worth $300 or less, the defendant is guilty of a Class 4 felony if he has previously been convicted of any type of theft.

Processing non-violent theft offenders puts a significant strain on the prison system. In 2015, for example, there were 2,630 offenders sentenced to IDOC for the Class 3 or Class 4 felonies of retail theft or theft not from a person. Typically these inmates have short and unproductive terms of incarceration; in 2015, nearly half (49 percent) of those who were sentenced to prison for a Class 3 felony theft received the minimum sentence of two years.

Theft of all types is a serious problem, but treating those who steal relatively small amounts (a single laptop or smartphone, for example) the same as those who steal on a large scale seems disproportionate, and does not make the best use of prison resources. Before theft not from a person becomes a Class 3 felony, the value of property taken should be greater than $2,000. Theft of items worth less than $2,000 should be a Class A misdemeanor. Similarly, before retail theft becomes a Class 3 felony, the value of the property taken should be greater than $2,000. Retail theft of property worth less than this amount should be a Class A misdemeanor.

Thoughts?

*** UPDATE ***  From Rob Karr, president and CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association…

“We can all agree that non-violent offenders, particularly first-time offenders, should not necessarily be sitting in prison. That is why IRMA has proudly been a part of solutions already enacted to address those situations. But the answer is not to diminish the seriousness of retail theft and erode the sales tax base. Any suggestion that retail theft is a victimless crime is simply wrong — $2 billion in losses to business and government has consequences.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Senate session coverage

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017

*** UPDATE ***  We’re having a bit of trouble with the ScribbleLive feeds today, but hopefully it’ll be fixed soon. I’m working on it. Here’s a temporary feed…

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


Help or hindrance?

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017

* From the Illinois Policy Institute’s news service

One portion of the state senate’s “grand bargain” would force many Illinois cities to place banks ahead of vital local services should an Illinois city go bankrupt.

Senate President John Cullerton introduced Senate Bill 10 as something to help cities borrow more for less.

“It’ll allow them to borrow at lower interest rates and help them save money,” Cullerton said.

But Mark Glennon, founder of the Illinois financial news service website WirePoints, warned that the bill forces any home-rule municipality to give lenders priority on any money it has, or will receive from the state, should it become insolvent.

A number of Illinois cities, including Chicago, are very close to insolvency due to out of control pension contributions, Glennon said. The bill would put banks ahead of the vital local services that are meant to be protected in the event that a city goes bankrupt. he said.

“This is like going to your bank and saying ‘Give me a bigger home loan at a lower rate, and I will give you ownership of all my future income,’” Glennon said.

If you’re in favor of squeezing Chicago and changing the law to allow municipal bankruptcies, then you’re definitely opposed to the bill. But if you think ratings agencies may be going overboard with downgrades of entities that can’t declare bankruptcy without special permission and you believe creditors should be paid, then you support it.

The state itself does this with Build Illinois bonds, which are directly tied to the sales tax and have therefore avoided some of the nasty downgrades suffered by general obligation bonds.

* From the Bond Buyer’s Yvette Shields

Under the legislation, a home rule municipality could enter into an agreement assigning a set amount of revenue it receives from the state to a special entity such as a public corporation or trust-like fund established for the “limited purpose of issuing obligations” for the municipality. The dedicated revenue would bypass a municipality’s general fund.

For example, the home rule municipality and an issuing entity would enter an assignment agreement for, say 0.25% of that municipality’s share of sales tax revenues. The home rule municipality would need to approve the agreement by ordinance. Bonds would be sold and all revenue from the 0.25% of dedicated sales tax revenues would go directly to special purpose entity for bond repayment.

The structure, by making the revenues owned by a special entity, is designed to shield the bonds from the threat of being dragged into a bankruptcy proceeding, and insulate them from a municipality’s general credit to obtain better ratings.

“It provides another mechanism of structured financing for a municipality which is intended to remove any bankruptcy risks as other states have provided,” said James Spiotto, a municipal restructuring expert and co-publisher of MuniNet Guide. “This type of securitization-like structure has had the effect of providing greater liquidity and better credit acceptance so you can reduce borrowing costs.” […]

Variations are in place in California, New York, and Rhode Island. It’s also a similar concept to Michigan’s state aid-backed bonds. Revenues used to repay debt issued under the program flow to the Michigan Finance Authority, not the municipality.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


IDOC blames Cook sheriff for accidental inmate release

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017

* Press release…

Earlier today, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office was notified that inmate Garrett Glover, DOB 12/13/1987, had been released from the Illinois Department of Corrections (”IDOC”). Glover was sentenced on February 23, 2017 to four years IDOC on a 2014 attempted armed robbery case. In 2015, Glover was charged with murder in connection with a September 5, 2012 shooting that occurred on southbound I-94. Glover should have been returned to custody of the Cook County Jail on the other case.

The Sheriff’s Office is investigating the circumstances surrounding his release, and all efforts are being made to secure his apprehension.

Anyone with information about Glover’s whereabouts should immediately contact the Cook County Sheriff’s Command Center at 773-674-0169. The public is reminded that aiding a fugitive is a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1-3 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

* AP

The Illinois Department of Corrections says a man accused in a 2012 Chicago expressway killing was released on parole in an unrelated case because the department wasn’t informed he should be held.

The Department of Corrections released Garrett Glover on Friday after he was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison for an attempted armed robbery in 2014. Glover had been in custody since 2014.

Glover was supposed to be returned to the custody of the Cook County sheriff’s department, but the Department of Corrections says it didn’t get documentation from Cook County saying he should be held.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


What to expect today

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017

* From Senate President John Cullerton’s press secretary John Patterson…

The Senate convenes at noon.

My understanding is each caucus intends to caucus for an hour.

At the moment, the plan is to return to the Senate floor and start calling budget/reform/grand bargain proposals for final votes after caucus.

That’s the plan, at the moment.

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


“Right to work” case appealed, oral arguments tomorrow

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017

* Press release…

Two Illinois government employees have filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to continue their case challenging the constitutionality of government union officials forced-dues privileges. The workers, all employed by the State of Illinois are currently required to pay union dues or fees to a union as a condition of their employment.

A District Judge recently dismissed the case, Janus v. AFSCME, and the two employees, who are receiving free legal assistance from staff attorneys with the National Right to Work Foundation and the Illinois Policy Institute’s Liberty Justice Center, have now formally filed their appeal of that dismissal.

National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix issued the following statement regarding the latest development in the case:

    “No citizen should be forced to pay union dues or fees just to work for their own government. This is a fundamental violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and the violation is especially egregious for public servants who are currently required to pay dues to a private organization just to work for their own government. We are hopeful that the United States Supreme Court will soon outlaw this unjust practice for every public employee across the country.”

You gotta wonder if the Illinois Policy Institute would support a bill allowing all customers to eat at restaurants without paying a dime.

…Adding… OK, so, I misread an e-mail with the above press release attached. The case was appealed a few months ago and oral arguments are tomorrow. Sorry for any confusion.

- Posted by Rich Miller   75 Comments      


Is Rauner betting on “Little Trump”?

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017

* Reporters asked Gov. Rauner yesterday why he skipped a White House gathering attended by 46 other governors and who he’s met with in the Trump administration

On Monday, the most Rauner revealed is he’s been in “communication” with members of the “Trump administration” on “violence issues.”

“The folks who are developing the policy — different from, you know, media discussion — the policy that we’re actually going to implement, we’re in conversations, I’m personally in conversations with folks developing that,” Rauner told reporters Monday when asked to respond to the perception that he’s been distancing himself from Trump.

The governor did not give specifics about what policy was being considered, nor did he say whom he was talking with from Trump’s administration. Pressed on whether he was avoiding Trump, Rauner said he’d “meet with the president any time.”

* More

On Monday — as governors met with Trump at the White House — Rauner was asked several times why he hasn’t met personally with Trump. The two have only shared a private phone conversation shortly after the election.

Rauner said he spent his weekend speaking with governors and members of the Trump administration about Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act — saying he pushed for “moving slowly and thoughtfully” and fixing the “broken” insurance market on the exchange. He said he also spoke to the Trump administration about coordinating to help deal with Chicago’s gun violence problem.

The governor said he met with members of Trump’s administration — “the folks that are developing the policy” — about a federal policy dealing with violent crime across the country. He declined to discuss specifics of that potential policy change.

“It’s different from, you know, media discussion. A policy that we’re actually going to implement. We’re in conversations,” he said.

Let’s stipulate right up front that there is zero doubt that much of this is about that horribly over-used word “optics.” He has to win the suburbs to be reelected, and Trump did horribly in the ‘burbs.

* But the governor also said this yesterday…

The folks who are driving the policy are the folks who are going to make the difference.

Which seems to indicate that he doesn’t believe that talking to the president will make much difference.

* And that’s part of the same point made in The Atlantic about the stock market’s rise since the election

(T)he stock market might be rising because investors are paying more attention to the people surrounding Trump than to the president, himself. The federal government looks mostly like a conventionally conservative pro-business institution, if you ignore the idiosyncrasies of the Oval Office. Republicans have promised to cut taxes, particularly for rich Americans and business, and there is broad agreement among the GOP to deregulate the financial and energy industries, including rolling back Dodd-Frank. […]

To oversimplify slightly, you could say that the divide between the apoplectic Main Street and cheery Wall Street is the difference between a Big Trump hypothesis and a Little Trump hypothesis. The Big Trump hypothesis says that the president is a vindictive demagogue and a unique threat to Americans norms and institutions, with the potential to wreak havoc on the country’s politics, economics, and culture.

The Little Trump hypothesis regards these fears and declares: “meh.” Instead, it posits that the president will be a loud yet minor figure, sound and fury signifying nothing; a wannabe superhero hemmed in by the limited powers of the executive branch. Rather than rule like a populist demagogue, he will mostly sign bills written by his pro-business staffers and approved by a pro-business Congress. There are extremely smart people who believe in each hypothesis. But the theories are mutually exclusive. They cannot both be true. No matter what happens in the next few years, a lot of people are already wrong about Donald Trump.

* Related…

* Alexander: Rauner can’t dodge Trump forever

* Governor Says He’ll Meet Trump ‘Any Time’

* Gov. Rauner no-show at Trump’s governors’ events

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


Steve Schnorf

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017

* Our good friend Steve Schnorf passed away last night. This is from his official biography

In his distinguished governmental career, he has held the positions of:

    * Director, Illinois Bureau of the Budget (1997-2002);
    * Director of Policy for Governor Jim Edgar (1994-1997);
    * Director, Illinois Department of Central Management Services (1991-1994, 2002);
    * Director of Drivers Services, Office of the Secretary of State (1983-1990); and
    * Administrator of the Senior Citizens Division, Office of the Secretary of State (1981-1983).

…In his various capacities in Illinois state government, Schnorf played lead negotiating roles on many key legislative initiatives, including: Illinois welfare reform (1995); Chicago school reform (1996); reorganization of the Department of Human Services (1997); Illinois FIRST (1999); and Soldiers Field renovations (2001).

He participated in all meetings of the Governor and four legislative leaders for five years, affording him broad exposure to the interactions between the executive and legislative branches. Schnorf’s governmental experience includes:

    * contract negotiations with the state’s largest employee union;
    * developing five state budgets, each totaling approximately $50 billion;
    * supervising all state bond sales for five years (consisting of some 40–50 sales totaling more than $10 billion); and
    * serving as the Governor’s key liaison, on a variety of issues, with business and labor interest groups, as well as political leaders.

He also chaired the Procurement Policy Board of Illinois (1997-2002); chaired the Illinois Debt Collection Board (1991-1994, 2002); and served as a member of the State Employee Retirement Systems Board of Trustees (1997-2002).

Prior to beginning his state governmental career, Schnorf served people with disabilities on behalf of several not-for-profit organizations and associations (1969-1981) and taught History and Social Studies at Robinson High School (1966-1969).

Schnorf received his Bachelor’s and Masters degrees in Education from Eastern Illinois University. Schnorf resides in Springfield, Illinois.

He was also instrumental in passing landmark legislation to reform the state’s adoption process. He and his wife Jane are adoptive parents.

Steve was my friend, but he was also one of my most valued mentors and advisors. And a lot of folks can say the very same thing about him. We’re all better off for having known that man.

* From his daughter Rebecca…

Last night I had to say goodbye to the man who has been the most constant presence in my life over the past 32.5 years; to the man who has stood by me and supported me through every struggle and who has been there to celebrate every success; and to the man who, when we started the wild ride called parenthood 8.5 years ago, completely rearranged his life, without being asked, to step in as another primary caregiver for our kids. My family’s grief over the past 2.5 months since this terrible disease called cancer entered our lives has been immense, but today it feels particularly overwhelming. My kids miss their pop pop.

He was a heck of a good grandfather and he loved being involved in their lives. I wish I was half the man he was.

* One last photo before we say our goodbyes to one of our most valued and respected commenters…

Steve didn’t want a funeral, but he did want a “celebration of life.” He and I talked about it for a while, and it’ll probably be held later this month or early April, depending on family schedules. I’ll make sure you know as soon as I know.

- Posted by Rich Miller   66 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - AFSCME responds *** Rauner admin has new website for potential strike breakers

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017

* Press release…

The Rauner Administration announced today as part of its ongoing AFSCME strike preparation that it has launched a new website called Working for a Better Illinois. The website is a simple way for job seekers to apply for jobs in Illinois government.

“We genuinely hope AFSCME leadership will choose not to strike against taxpayers and work with us on implementing common-sense proposals like overtime after 40 hours, not 37.5,” Rauner General Counsel Dennis Murashko said. “However, we must be prepared to continue government operations and provide services that citizens deserve and expect,” Murashko said.

Every year the state receives tens of thousands of applications from Illinois residents interested in state government. This website streamlines the job application process by allowing citizens to provide basic information about the location and type of work they would be interested in performing. For citizens interested in applying for specific job titles, the existing job application process remains in place.

This website is part of the Rauner Administration’s on-going attempt to modernize the state’s technology services to better serve taxpayers, as well as to prepare for a possible strike against taxpayers by AFSCME.

Submissions to the website would provide a way for state agencies to efficiently identify those who could work on a temporary basis. Although individuals would be hired on a temporary basis in response to the strike, the State would then begin taking the steps necessary to fill positions permanently.

The Rauner Administration has signed labor agreements with 20 unions. The Administration’s proposal includes earning overtime after 40 hours instead of 37.5, pay based on performance rather than seniority, reasonable testing of drug and alcohol use if suspected on the job and allowing volunteerism at state facilities like state parks.

Illinois citizens interested in working for the State should visit: https://statejobs.illinois.gov.

* SJ-R

The website, statejobs.illinois.gov, is basic. It only asks for contact information, a preference for what counties a person wants to work in and what job category they’d be interested in filling. It also asks if applicants are interested in temporary work, permanent jobs or both. People who want to apply for specific state jobs should continue to use the existing job application process, which includes listings at work.illinois.gov.

*** UPDATE ***  AFSCME Council 31…

“Governor Rauner’s refusal to negotiate has left public service workers with no choice but to consider a strike. Rauner’s unreasonable demands include a 100% hike in employee costs for health care that would cut worker pay by $10,000, and an end to safeguards against reckless privatization.

“AFSCME members investigate child abuse, care for veterans and the disabled, respond to emergencies and more. These jobs require years of experience and training. For Governor Rauner to seek temporary strikebreakers in place of skilled and dedicated professionals is a recipe for disaster for the people of Illinois.

“Instead of trying to intimidate workers with illegal threats, Bruce Rauner should simply do his job: Negotiate with us toward a compromise that’s fair to all.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   165 Comments      


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Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017

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*** UPDATED x1 *** Get ready for more heated rhetoric

Monday, Feb 27, 2017

* Sun-Times

Chicago Public Schools has asked a Cook County judge on Monday to fast-track the district’s civil rights lawsuit against the state of Illinois, warning of dire consequences for students if a funding issue isn’t resolved quickly.

More than $100 million in the red and on the hook for a $721 million teacher pension payment in June, CPS said it could cut the school year as short as June 1 if money doesn’t come through soon from the state. Students typically end school a few weeks later.

The district recently filed a civil rights lawsuit against Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Illinois State Board of Education, alleging that the state’s ways of funding schools and pensions created “separate but unequal” schools systems in which CPS, whose students are predominantly poor and minority, get less money than their wealthier, white counterparts elsewhere in the state.

District officials are asking Judge Franklin Valderrama to issue a ruling before the end of April.

Forrest Claypool has scheduled a 4 o’clock press conference today, so I’m assuming he’ll blame a potentially shortened school year on Gov. Rauner. The school year had been scheduled to end June 20th.

* There’s lots of Rauner-blaming in the CPS motion. For instance

As a first step toward ending the State’s discriminatory funding of teacher pension obligations, on June 30, 2016, the Illinois House amended Senate Bill 2822 to include an additional State contribution of $215 million to assist CPS to meet its required Fiscal Year 2017 teacher pension payment of $721 million. Even that $215 million pension funding for CPS would stand in stark contrast to the State’s projected Fiscal Year 2017 payment to TRS of $4.0 billion. Amended Senate Bill 2822 passed both houses of the General Assembly.

But on December 1, 2016, Governor Rauner vetoed the bill. Governor Rauner stated that he had agreed to support the bill only if the General Assembly agreed to his other demands on legislation having nothing to do with CPS. As a result, CPS’s children - 90% children of color - are at risk of forever losing their one chance in life to receive a quality education. Prior to the veto, CPS already had taken drastic measures to meet its budget obligations and educate its students. At the end of Fiscal Year 2013, CPS had a positive general operating fund balance of $949 million. By the end of Fiscal Year 2016, CPS had depleted all of that reserve and ended with a negative general operating fund balance of $127 million. In other words, CPS’s general operating fund balance has declined by $1.1 billion in just three years. Over that same time period, CPS made required pension payments totaling $1.9 billion. In that same three years, the State’s discriminatory funding has shortchanged CPS by $1.1 billion. […]

The February 22 budget cuts do not fill the $215 million hole created by Governor Rauner’s veto. If CPS must re-balance its budget by making additional cuts, those cuts will be even more painful. If CPS ends the school year on June 1 - instead of June 20 - students will receive fewer days of instruction. If students are not in class, they forever lose those days of learning. There is no way to compensate for missed time in the classroom. If CPS eliminates summer school for grade-school and middle-school students, those children will not receive the additional instruction they require to get on track. Those children are at risk of falling even farther behind.

*** UPDATE ***  From Illinois Secretary of Education Beth Purvis…

As children statewide continue to be impacted by the state’s broken school funding formula, now is the time for CEO Claypool to engage in a constructive process to pass a balanced budget with changes that would help schools across the state, including those in Chicago.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


Rauner wants fewer managed care companies to serve lots more Medicaid clients

Monday, Feb 27, 2017

* AP

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration is seeking to offer more Medicaid services through managed-care programs.

Rauner and two cabinet members announced the plan in Chicago Monday. It involves choosing a vendor that’ll provide managed-care services to 80 percent of Medicaid clients.

That’s up from 65 percent now. It’ll also be expanded to all Illinois counties and children in the care of the Department of Children and Family Services.

* But there will be fewer managed care providers

Rauner inherited managed care from Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who backed a law aggressively placing 50 percent of Medicaid enrollees into a health plan that would keep close tabs on their medical care. Now about 65 percent of the state’s 3.1 million Medicaid recipients are in managed care.

While Rauner wants to expand managed care services statewide and add another 15 percent of all Medicaid enrollees to the program, he explained why he plans to cap the number of insurers that can participate to between four and seven.

There are simply too many insurers now participating, he said. While the number has shrunk from roughly 30 to 12 insurers now, the vast system is an administrative headache for doctors, hospitals and patients, he argued. In Central Illinois, for example, enrollees have little access to managed care.

Illinois has been gleaning lessons from other states, including Arizona, which requires all Medicaid recipients to be in managed care. The idea of managed care is to surround patients with teams of nurses, social workers and doctors to coordinate treatment and therefore lower medical costs. […]

Rauner said he couldn’t speculate about how much money the new contracts could save Medicaid, but he said “there’s clearly significant savings to be had” by increasing quality and focusing on prevention.

Rauner wants to take that number of managed care organizations down to as few as four and no more than seven, according to the state’s RFP. Needless to say, some managed care companies are starting to freak out.

And all of this is happening while DC tries to figure out what it’s going to do with Medicaid and the ACA.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


Question of the day

Monday, Feb 27, 2017

* Your own caption?…


- Posted by Rich Miller   79 Comments      


What’s with the secrecy?

Monday, Feb 27, 2017

* Tribune

Gov. Bruce Rauner let it slip that he’s planning to meet with Grammy winner Chance the Rapper this week, though his office declined to say when or where.

Rauner mentioned the planned meeting in passing at a Black History Month event at the Thompson Center on Friday. He was praising Dorothy Jean Tillman, a theater and performance artist who was given a young achievement award for her work as a children’s book author and ensemble member at the Harold Washington Cultural Center.

“I tell you, Dorothy Jean Tillman, this young lady, 10 years old, extraordinary talent. What an inspiration she is. I look forward to seeing her next week,” Rauner said. “She’s going to come when I’m getting together with Chance the Rapper, I think the middle of next week.” […]

Asked when and where the meeting will take place, the administration emailed back a short statement: “On background, the Governor will be meeting privately with Chance next week to discuss important issues affecting our state.”

* From this morning…


- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      


Pawar on Madigan

Monday, Feb 27, 2017

* Gubernatorial candidate Ald. Ameya Pawar was at DePaul last week

But, with four of Illinois’ eight most recent governors having spent time in prison, good governance has not always been the rule. And for the past 30 years of state politics, the elephant in the room has been House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Madigan has been criticized for his stewardship of the state, which has the lowest credit rating of any state in the country as well as a structural budget deficit and mountains of unpaid bills and pension obligations. While Pawar said he doesn’t know Madigan or “have a relationship with him,” he gave a mixed assessment.

“I’d argue that (Madigan’s) the one person standing in the way of the utter destruction of public sector unions,” Pawar said. “But I also recognize that both Democrats and Republicans got us here over the past 40 years. So, we all hold some responsibility. But the path forward is to stop turning (Republican leaders Christine) Radongo, (Jim) Durkin or (Democratic leaders) Madigan and (John) Cullerton into cartoon characters as they get into the room and stop demonizing each other and cut a deal.”

Thoughts on how he handled that?

- Posted by Rich Miller   54 Comments      


It’s just a bill

Monday, Feb 27, 2017

* Sun-Times

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson has been vocal, especially in recent weeks, about his frustration with state lawmakers not passing legislation to stiffen penalties for “repeat gun offenders.”

Johnson hinted at a cause of some of that frustration during a news conference Friday to announce dozens of arrests in overnight raids.

“They promised me that we would have something done in January. We’re at the end of February,” Johnson said.

He went on to mention that state Rep. Elgie Sims Jr. and state Sen. Kwame Raoul, both Chicago Democrats, “are crafting the language for a bill, and I know that they are supportive of CPD.” […]

Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Johnson “was told in his conversations to expect a draft to be introduced in January,” though he didn’t say who offered assurances to Johnson about the time frame.

Sims told the Chicago Sun-Times “there were some discussions about hopefully some developments” on a piece of legislation by January, but “I don’t know about ‘promised.’”

Considering that this proposal is so contentious, I’m thinking the Superintendent is confused about the passage deadline.

* Meanwhile

A pending bill in the Illinois House that would create sanctuary zones for undocumented immigrants drew demonstrators from both sides of the issue Saturday to downtown Springfield.

Rosanna Pulido of Springfield, founder of The Illinois Minuteman Project, organized a noon rally at the Abraham Lincoln statue at Second Street and Capitol Avenue. The rally was in opposition to HB 426, which would allow schools, medical treatment and health care facilities and places of worship deny access to state and local law enforcement officers who are enforcing immigration laws, unless the officers have a court-issued warrant.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous,” Pulido said. “I think the biggest question we have for Governor Rauner and any legislator who would want to pass this bill is: Does making it easier for illegal aliens to stay in Illinois improve the lives of Illinois residents?”

About five minutes into Pulido’s rally, which drew about 50 people, a group of about 30 people marched down Capitol Avenue chanting “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here.” The counter-protesters set up shop on the northeast corner of Second and Capitol near the Martin Luther King Jr. statue.

It’s not really a “sanctuary” bill. Amendment 2 is the heart of the legislation at the moment. As mentioned above, it requires a warrant before people can be taken into custody.

* Press release…

State Representative David McSweeney has been joined by 66 fellow members of the Illinois House of Representatives in sponsoring House Resolution 148, which opposes any new taxes on beverages and supports the thousands of Illinois small businesses that are linked to the beverage industry in the state.

“Representative McSweeney and a bipartisan group of representatives have stood up for the industry and Illinois families. They understand that adding yet another tax on common grocery and restaurant products will have disastrous, unintended consequences, creating higher prices at neighborhood grocers and restaurants, and causing massive job losses across several industries,” stated Claudia Rodriguez, Acting Executive Director, Illinois Beverage Association.

Beyond the regressive nature of beverage tax proposals, these taxes could severely hurt local economic growth and job creation. If imposed, a penny-per-ounce tax is estimated to destroy more than 19,000 Illinois jobs, eliminate more than $875 million in wages and would result in $1.695 billion in lost economic activity. More than 90,000 jobs in restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, movie theaters and more rely on the industry – all of which could be hurt by a proposed tax.

“We are thankful for Representative McSweeney’s initiative and support for retailers and the beverage industry. A statewide beverage tax would be devastating to the state’s economy and we’re glad to see a majority of House members being supportive of an industry that employs thousands of Illinois residents,” stated Rob Karr, President and CEO, Illinois Retail Merchants Association.

A similar tax proposal imposed in Philadelphia has already produced devastating effects on the local economy, hurting small businesses and jobs. Early reports have found beverage sales in Philadelphia to have dropped between 30 and 50 percent as consumers leave the city to do their shopping. Many businesses have been forced to cut employees, with more than 300 layoffs already announced and thousands of employee work hours cut. Additional cuts are expected. With a pending penny-per-ounce beverage tax set to be implemented on July 1, 2017 in Cook County, a new state tax would multiply these negative impacts and dramatically weaken the state’s economy.

A broad coalition of more than 1,000 concerned Illinois families, small businesses, labor unions, chambers of commerce and community organizations are opposed to regressive beverage taxes, which could dramatically increase costs for many common grocery items, including juices, teas, sports-drinks and sodas. HR 148 is a bipartisan effort with more than 66 co-sponsors opposed to approving yet another tax on the beverage industry.

* Related…

* Rauner backs water testing near quarries used as cheap dump sites

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


“I don’t know what else they can do but go on strike”

Monday, Feb 27, 2017

*From a News-Gazette editorial

Last week, AFSCME Executive Director Roberta Lynch announced that union members voted by an overwhelming margin to authorize their negotiators to call a strike if management does not return to the bargaining table.

“We’re going to continue to think that at some point this governor will realize that conflict, confrontation is not the way to move the state forward. We’re going to keep working every way we can to convince him to return to the bargaining table and make a good-faith effort to resolve the situation,” Lynch said.

But judging from Gov. Bruce Rauner’s response to Lynch’s invitation to resume negotiations, that’s not going to happen.

“The labor board unanimously said we’re at impasse. We’ve been at impasse. Negotiations are done. Those days are gone,” he said.

The editorial goes on to question how many workers would actually walk out and how many would stay out.

* Christopher Mooney, the director of the Institute of Government and Policy at the University of Illinois, talked about that topic yesterday, saying that the governor could win the messaging battle with the voters and then added this

This is not the United Mine Workers of America, this is not the United Auto Workers of America. I’ve seen mine workers strike. Mine workers strike, they are striking to the death. I mean they beat scabs bloody. And they’ll be out on strike for two years to get what they want because they are tightly bound, they work in teams, they’re underground in a dangerous environment and they don’t have a lot of options. So when it comes time to fight the coal bosses their backs are against the wall.

It’s not really the same situation for most AFSCME workers. They work in offices, they work out in the field in various places, too, but there’s not that tight cohesion that there is in industrial unions. And I wonder how long such a strike would last, especially as has been reported there’s not a significant strike fund to support these people. […]

On the other hand, I don’t know what else they can do but go on strike. The governor basically said this is the way it is and we’re going to just impose our contract. If they don’t strike, because that’s really their only other option, they basically just roll over and say we just don’t exist any more, we’re so marginalized that we don’t matter. […]

When the coal miners go on strike, they don’t necessarily have to worry about public image. There’s some of that that goes on, but they’re really fighting the bosses and it’s a power play that way. This is going to be fought in the public arena for both sides because it’s taxpayers that are the bosses and they have to be convinced on one side or the other… When you’ve got a single messenger and you can tick off some talking points, whether completely accurate or not, that people can relate to, the governor’s office might have the advantage.

Those talking points, of course, are the demands for a 40-hour work week, higher health insurance costs, etc.

Also, there’s lately been a tiny bit of deep background push-back on earlier reporting that AFSCME has no strike fund.

- Posted by Rich Miller   66 Comments      


Trib defends Rauner’s tenure

Monday, Feb 27, 2017

* The Tribune editorial board believes Gov. Rauner has done pretty much everything he could for the past two years

He took office in January 2015 with 44 items on his Turnaround Agenda. He dropped most due to opposition and as gestures in compromise. He’s open to a politically risky tax hike. Anything else?

He tried meeting with legislative leaders behind closed doors. He tried putting a camera in the room. He tried meeting with leaders individually. He tried lobbying individual lawmakers.

He tried staying out of negotiations. He tried inserting himself. He tried tough talk. He tried gentle prodding.

He tried introducing his agenda in bill form: Scroll through all the bills in House rules, Speaker Michael Madigan’s dead letter office, to find the pillars of that agenda. They’ve been ignored, along with Rauner’s last two budgets.

What compromise or agenda have the Democrats offered? Not much in the House. Dems gave their speaker a 17th two-year term and received engraved clocks that read: “The Honorable Michael J. Madigan, Longest-serving House Speaker of a state House of Representatives in United States History.”

Note what Rauner didn’t do: Cave to that longest-serving speaker. Rauner won’t write a blank check, via a tax hike, for Democrats without also getting pro-growth reforms to help build Illinois’ tax base. That’s what he ran on, what he continues to stand for.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   74 Comments      


Biss to decide on bid soon

Monday, Feb 27, 2017

* Democratic state Sen. Daniel Biss told Rick Pearson yesterday that he will decide whether to run for governor “in the next few weeks”

“The state of Illinois is in an incredibly terrible situation now, and we need someone who’s prepared to lead us out of it,” Biss said Sunday on WGN AM-720.

“We need someone to lead us out of it by laying out a progressive economic vision for Illinois — a vision that is about protecting the middle class, lifting up the middle class and fixing the budget by going to the billionaires who have gotten off scot-free and finally, for the first time in generations, having them pay their fair share,” he said.

Biss said that vision needs to be laid out “in a clear, direct, progressive and bold way” that will “build a movement that’s going to be used not just to win a governor’s race but to transform governance in the state of Illinois.” […]

“If we want to do this properly, it’s going to require building something over the course of many months. It’s not going to be quick. It’s not going to be turnkey. It’s not going to be automatic. It’s not going to be all television. It’s going to be a slow, gradual movement of people across the state, and that’s what’s needed, again, not just to win but to really transform Illinois,” he said.

OK, I get the rhetoric here, but just keep in mind that you usually can’t “transform” anything unless you win.

The full interview is here.

* At about the 14:45 mark, Pearson asks him if he thinks Gov. Rauner really wants a budget

I have no idea. He’s not acting like he wants a budget… I don’t know what’s in his head, all I know is his behavior. And Gov. Rauner is behaving like someone who doesn’t care whether the state has a budget at all. He’s talking about other things 24/7 and that’s just not what he should be doing. His job, his first job and his most important job is to fix the disastrous budget problem that Illinois has.

- Posted by Rich Miller   46 Comments      


Rauner skips White House dinner attended by 46 governors

Monday, Feb 27, 2017

* Hmm…


* But, hey, he apparently spends a lot of time in his own executive mansion

The Illinois Executive Mansion has been available to governors and their families for 162 years, but the prospect of living in a historic building hasn’t been enough to get them all to reside there.

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration believes he’s an exception and said he spends approximately 55 percent of his nights in Illinois at the Executive Mansion. The administration didn’t expand on how many days that actually is.

Conversely, Rauner’s two most recent predecessors, former Govs. Pat Quinn and Rod Blagojevich, didn’t stay at the mansion much at all. Quinn was reported to have stayed at the mansion about 60 or 70 nights annually, according to The Associated Press, and Blagojevich primarily lived at his home in Chicago. The now-imprisoned governor would avoid even one-night stays at the mansion.

Former Gov. Jim Edgar and his wife, Brenda, who actually lived at the Executive Mansion, said the building was wonderful, though it never truly felt like home.

…Adding… Lynn Sweet

Rauner keeps his distance from Trump. He’s up for re-election next year in a heavily Democratic state.

But there comes a point to deal with governmental reality. Trump is the president. He delivers his first joint address to Congress on Tuesday. Trump’s budget goes to Congress next month. Big decisions are being made that will impact Illinois. Doesn’t Rauner want to have a voice in trying to influence Trump?

To consider…Unlike almost every governor in the nation, Rauner missed two potential chances to tell Trump what Illinois needs from the federal government.

Trump, in almost every speech – and in several Twitter posts – hits Chicago problem with shootings. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been to the Trump White House and done extensive outreach.

Rauner might want to reconsider: By refusing to attend events with Trump – Rauner is abdicating dealing with Chicago violence with a president who threatened to “Send in the Feds” to the city.

- Posted by Rich Miller   51 Comments      


Emulate Trump at your peril

Monday, Feb 27, 2017

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

If you’re running for office anytime soon, or if you currently hold office or are a “public figure,” please try to keep one thing in mind: So far, the only person to prove he can thrive by talking like President Donald Trump is . . . President Donald Trump.

Trump, and only Trump, can insult a war hero because the man was captured by the enemy, joke about grabbing women by the unmentionables, accuse an opponent’s father of participating in a plot to assassinate President John F. Kennedy and still be elected to the highest office in the land.

Heck, Trump may have even been right when he joked during the campaign: “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

But don’t even think of trying this at home. The president’s election was not a permission slip allowing everybody to now say the most outrageous things that come to mind. Trump changed the rules last year for himself, not anybody else—or, at least, not yet.

Say something stupid and the media—both news and social—will whack you but good, and it won’t turn out nearly as well as it did for candidate Trump. Indeed, if anything, the climate right now seems more antithetical than ever to saying silly things in public.

Earlier this month, an unopposed candidate for an Arlington Heights village board spot named Joe Favia had to drop out of his race after posting something truly stupid about women on Facebook. After the national women’s marches in January, he posted a meme which read “In one day, Trump got more fat women out walking than Michelle Obama did in 8 years.”

Again, he was an unopposed candidate. You don’t usually get a more sure thing in politics than an unopposed campaign. Not for that dude. He gone.

Danville Township Assessor Rick Rohrer, a Democrat, posted the very same meme to his Facebook page, and the chairwoman and treasurer of the Vermillion County Democratic Party were so furious that they both resigned in disgust.

Just last week, the sports anchor for the most-watched television station in Chicagoland, Mark Giangreco, was slapped with a weeks-long suspension for tweeting something stupid about the president and his supporters: “America exposed as a country full of simpletons who allowed this cartoon lunatic to be ‘elected.’ “

Also, have you seen Gov. Bruce Rauner lately? The formerly elbow-throwing, defiant Republican frat jock is now talking like the dearly departed host of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

I seriously doubt that Rauner just naturally morphed from a tough guy, who has called just about everybody from the judges to the two state legislative leaders to most of the General Assembly “corrupt,” into a soft-spoken yogi who gently speaks of compromise, peace and harmony.

Rauner’s campaign team has the cash to poll-test and focus-group just about everything, and the governor is infamous for relentlessly staying on script. He and his people obviously know things have changed.

So, when probable Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker woke up early one morning last week and, according to an aide, decided to mock the far right’s incendiary rhetoric by tweeting, “As a protest against Trump’s rescinding protections for trans kids, everyone should use the other gender’s bathroom today! #protecttranskids,” he should’ve first taken a deep breath, had another cup of coffee, maybe called a friend or two and then realized he was about to make himself look like just another billionaire who can’t control himself on Twitter. Please leave the jokes to the professionals (who, by the way, are regularly put through the public meat grinder for their misfired attempts at humor).

I’m not arguing here for an utterly bland, completely “politically correct” public discourse. I’m just arguing for a little common sense and a bit of self-awareness. Just because calling some women fat worked for Trump doesn’t mean it’s gonna work for low-level candidates and elected officials. Insulting millions of Americans and questioning the nation’s electoral system also worked for Trump, but it is a no-go for a TV talking head.

And appearing to urge men to enter women’s restrooms as some sort of protest shows exactly zero common sense, no matter what the climate may be right now and no matter how well-intentioned the act may have been.

If you can’t do that, then delete your account.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


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Monday, Feb 27, 2017

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* 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
* Question of the day
* Roll Call: Rauner race is "Toss-up/Tilt Democrat"
* Clear as mud
* Can CPS avoid closing early?
* *** UPDATED x1 - Biss responds *** Rauner says HB 40 is "divisive" and "we need to focus" on fixing other problems
* Signs of the times
* Blagojevich again denied
* Illinois is heading for junk bond status
* The "growth only" canard
* Biss criticizes Democratic Party, Madigan
* Democrat Manar blasts Bourne, Rauner
* Caption contest!
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* Illinois receives $16 million to fight opi......

* Help Day For Property Tax Appeals
* CPS and “Wrong-way” Claypool.
* Trumpen. 
* People with clout are still contacting Rahm on his private e-mail account, and other Chicago news
* Scenes from Saturday's March for Science
* Hitting Left.
* NEA’s charter position is okay but a little like closing the doors on an empty barn. No mention of vouchers?
* North Korea and the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. What message is Trump sending?
* Earth Sunday.
* A Republican moderate.


* IDOT Celebrates Earth Day by Distributing Trees to Schools
* Earth Day Honor: IDOT Recognizes Longtime Adopt-A-Highway Volunteers - More than 140 groups thanked in tree-planting ceremony
* The State of Illinois to Build a Digital-Ready Workforce - Partnership with the IoT Talent Consortium to Offer Data Science Training to Illinois Workers and Learners, with Cybersecurity Training Next in the Pipeline
* Governor Makes First #GovClassroomVisit
* New Siemens Charger Locomotives Begin Testing

  
* Deal: Get a lifetime of online protection from TigerVPN for $29
* [TA Deals] Get the Java Programming Bootcamp package for $39
* Samsung Galaxy Amp Prime 2 offers Android Nougat to Cricket customers at $150
* LG G6 arrives in India to rain on Galaxy S8’s parade, lower price, Quad DAC and all
* Alcatel A30 tablet gets rendered en route to T-Mobile, Nougat and LTE most likely in tow
* Samsung Galaxy J3 (2017) has specs outed in several benchmarks, J5 (2017) swings by the FCC
* T-Mobile Galaxy Note 5 also gets Android Nougat

* In My Words: White Sox booth is Benetti's bliss
* White Sox snap out of scoring slump vs. Tribe
* Bats roar to life against Tribe in series finale
* White Sox snap out of scoring slump vs. Tribe
* Gonzalez eyes continued success vs. Royals
* Davidson out for fourth consecutive game
* White Sox turn to Holland in finale vs. Tribe


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