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Mendoza under fire yet again by Team Rauner

Monday, Mar 20, 2017

* Comptroller Susana Mendoza is speaking to the City Club today, and the Tribune has a little primer about her battle with Gov. Bruce Rauner. From that piece

That’s resulted in multiple attacks from Rauner over how Mendoza has prioritized payments during the impasse. Rauner first raised concerns over how much money the comptroller was setting aside for so-called hardship payments to social service providers within the Department of Aging. Those are payments that get rushed to businesses on the verge of closing or missing payroll because the state is so far behind in paying its bills. The Rauner administration said Mendoza cut that fund to $7 million a month from $20 million a month under Munger, putting groups that care for the elderly at risk.

Mendoza shot back that Rauner was cherry-picking issues in an effort to make her look bad, saying there was simply less money to go around as the state is coming out of a time of year where tax receipts are historically low so there is not as much cash on hand. Mendoza said she has requested help from the governor’s office on identifying groups who need expedited payments but instead received a letter from the administration noting it was Mendoza’s duty to decide how spending is prioritized.

* The Rauner administration just put out this press release…

The Rauner Administration today called on Comptroller Susana Mendoza to reverse her disturbing decision to cut payments to social service organizations serving our state’s most vulnerable residents.

“Hardship payments” are high-priority payments that executive branch agencies routinely send to the Office of the Comptroller to ensure services to our most vulnerable continue. At the Department on Aging, for example, these hardship payments are a lifeline for Community Care Program providers serving elderly populations. As reported today by the Chicago Tribune, while former Comptroller Leslie Munger had allowed the Department on Aging to pay $20 million in hardship payments every month, Comptroller Mendoza has reduced that allotment to $7 million, jeopardizing services.

In a letter to Comptroller Mendoza’s office, Department on Aging Director Jean Bohnoff wrote, “We once again urge the Comptroller to reverse the recent reductions in hardship allotments and increase them to at least $20 million per month to help us avert a crisis in all regions of the State by doing what we can to keep our provider network afloat.”

* From that letter to the comptroller…

In conversations with my staff, you informed us that hardship request would only be considered for those providers who could supply both a letter from their bank stating that they no longer had access to credit and a separate letter stating what the hardship request would be used for. Considering that none of the Department’s providers have been paid for services to non-Medicaid clients for all of FY2017, and many of them are struggling to get by on the meager hardship payments that have been released, I feel that this request would be unduly burdensome when they are losing staff and having to withhold payments to their staff, their vendors, and even the State in the form of payroll and other taxes. Furthermore, the decision to only pay “non-current” vouchers may force many smaller providers, who have been increasingly turning to the Department for help, to close their doors and stop serving some of the State’s most vulnerable citizens. That, in turn, would end up with many seniors being forced to leave their homes prematurely and enter nursing homes, imposing an even greater cost on the State.

Indicative of the plight of these small to medium providers is the letter that you recently received from one of our largest providers—Community Care Systems, Inc. That letter laid out their request for $4.8 million in on-going monthly hardship assistance in order for them to continue to operate in all areas of the State and meet their payroll needs. With such a large provider struggling to meet current payrolls, just think about how smaller providers are struggling more with multiple missed payrolls.

* The governor’s office is right that they requested money for Community Care Systems, Inc. What they don’t mention above is that an earlier letter sent by the same state agency director [click here] claimed the organization could go out of business if it wasn’t paid immediately. That letter was sent on February 28th - three weeks ago. It’s still in business.

The governor appointed the owner of that provider to the chairmanship of the state’s Procurement Policy Board back in 2015. He also owns the popular Route 66 Hotel & Conference Center just south of Springfield in Southern View. The late Judy Baar Topinka kicked off her comptroller’s reelection campaign in the hotel’s parking lot back in 2014.

* Back to today’s Tribune story

The goal is to now extend that [anti-Madigan] branding to Mendoza, said a Republican operative who dismissed the notion that infighting between the two offices could reflect badly on both the comptroller and the governor given the delicate nature of running a state that’s gone without a full budget since July 2015.

“As opposed to when Munger was there, there is more chaos that can be blamed on (Mendoza), because these things weren’t happening prior to her coming into office,” the operative said. “I think people are very smart and astute and they know it’s not a coincidence that the person Madigan recruited for the office is pulling the strings. That’s a very believable argument for people, whether it’s true or not.” [Emphasis added.]

If they weren’t playing these obvious games, it would be a whole lot easier to pile on Mendoza. Just sayin…

* You can watch Mendoza’s City Club address by clicking here.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

21 Comments
  1. - Reality Check - Monday, Mar 20, 17 @ 12:32 pm:

    “whether it’s true or not”

    Wow.

    Raunerites admitting what the rest of us have seen since the beginning: They don’t care whether the things they say are, you know, real. Or not.

    Just … wow.


  2. - P. - Monday, Mar 20, 17 @ 12:34 pm:

    Rauner’s people aren’t helping themselves with this nonsense. Playing games with services that actually matter, it’s not funny or cute, it’s just pathetic.


  3. - RNUG - Monday, Mar 20, 17 @ 12:35 pm:

    Mendoza has a simple answer:

    If we had a budget, there would not be a need to prioritize payments. Governor, do your job.


  4. - don the legend - Monday, Mar 20, 17 @ 12:52 pm:

    That’s a very believable argument for people, whether it’s true or not.” [Emphasis added.] Democrats across the state in every partisan race, need to use this and make sure the voters know what Rauner and his bought and paid for Republicans think of them.


  5. - IllinoisBoi - Monday, Mar 20, 17 @ 1:03 pm:

    That Madigan pawn Mendoza … how dare she perform her Constitutionally mandated duties.


  6. - Whocares - Monday, Mar 20, 17 @ 1:14 pm:

    I feel so stupid for just now realizing why Rauner hired Munger back. I cannot wait until this game of chicken is over!


  7. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 20, 17 @ 1:21 pm:

    Yeah, not paying social service providers is a real winner for the Superstars. I’ll have what they’re having.

    Hopefully, the providers who are suing
    Rauner for reneging on their contracts are banking all these crocodile-tear letters for their case.

    It’s stupid to go after Mendoza. She fights back in the public square.

    It would be wiser to keep whacking Madigan. He says nothing.


  8. - Mr. K. - Monday, Mar 20, 17 @ 1:33 pm:


    It would be wiser to keep whacking Madigan. He says nothing.

    I think that’s the point. The more Mendoza lashes out, the more effective the PR offensive is against her. I mean, I think the “whether it’s true or not” line is repugnant — but it’s true.

    I mean, I side with the folks that say the Dems lost to Trump because they kept “repeating” the crazy things Trump would say. What the Ds didn’t — and perhaps don’t — realize is that those things — the crazy stuff — are exactly what the base wants to hear. They don’t care about veracity or morality — they care only about the ability to say those things — and then hear them repeated — as a way to flip the bird at the Man.

    Madigan, he’s Elmore Leonard cool. That’s not effective when you expect rhetorical fireworks as part of the political process.


  9. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, Mar 20, 17 @ 1:36 pm:

    Arguing that it’s Mendoza’s fault that social service providers aren’t getting paid is like shooting your parents and crying for mercy because you’re an orphan.

    Guys, you’re going to lose this fight and look like a bunch of cynical liars in the process. So please keep it up.


  10. - Sigh - Monday, Mar 20, 17 @ 1:40 pm:

    Today the administration cares about the elderly, but remember a few months ago when they tried to change the DON score?


  11. - VanillaMan - Monday, Mar 20, 17 @ 1:43 pm:

    Rauner’s like a barn burner complaining that the Fire Chief won’t bring out the hook and ladder truck.


  12. - Cubs in '16 - Monday, Mar 20, 17 @ 2:02 pm:

    “I think people are very smart and astute and they know it’s not a coincidence that the person Madigan recruited for the office is pulling the strings. That’s a very believable argument for people, whether it’s true or not.”

    That’s all well and good but Rauner is up for re-election before Mendoza. I guess we’ll see whom this plays badly for…


  13. - Rich Miller - Monday, Mar 20, 17 @ 2:04 pm:

    ===Rauner is up for re-election before Mendoza===

    They’re both up in 18.


  14. - Cubs in '16 - Monday, Mar 20, 17 @ 2:24 pm:

    ===They’re both up in 18.===

    That’s right. My bad Rich.


  15. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 20, 17 @ 3:19 pm:

    –I think that’s the point. The more Mendoza lashes out, the more effective the PR offensive is against her.–

    Totally disagree. Silence implies assent.


  16. - VSI Initiative - Monday, Mar 20, 17 @ 3:24 pm:

    If Rauner were truly concerned about Social Service providers not being paid, all he has to do is to authorize them to be eligible for the Vendor Support Initiative (VSI).

    Simple as that.


  17. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 20, 17 @ 3:33 pm:

    –If Rauner were truly concerned about Social Service providers not being paid,..–

    His words aside, obviously, the governor is concerned.

    His actions during his tenure clearly demonstrate that he does not want them to be paid what they are owed.

    Borrowing from social service providers and other state contractors, to the tune of $8B and counting, is what is keeping state government functioning as it is (such as it is), during Rauner’s watch.

    Some chief executives might be ashamed for abusing the good faith of and borrowing from those who provide contracted services for the needy, but not our guy. It’s a pillar of his fiscal policy.


  18. - Anonymous - Monday, Mar 20, 17 @ 6:25 pm:

    https://www.eciaaa.org/index.php/home/from-the-executive-director

    According to the East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging Memo dated March 14, 2017, under the Headline “Senior Information Services (SIS)/Coordinated Point of Entry (CPoE) Designation for McLean County, Livingston County and DeWitt County”
    Community Care Systems, Inc. will serve as the new Senior Information Service Provider/Coordinated Point of Entry

    So Director Bohnoff’s hardship example is in such dire need that they are . . . expanding.


  19. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Mar 21, 17 @ 11:40 am:

    ===If they weren’t playing these obvious games, it would be a whole lot easier to pile on Mendoza. Just sayin…===

    This really is the “fault” the Rauner Crew will now face up until and even after petitions are circulated.

    The Rauner Crew makes everything, “everything” a 100% battle royale and by doing so, it wears on the impact where real hay can be made, and weakens arguments be cause of the continued strife… everywhere.


  20. - scott aster - Tuesday, Mar 21, 17 @ 1:27 pm:

    this is all the dems fault…why did we need to change controllerss in mid stream just John C and Lisa could feel good…about the folks having a vote


  21. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 21, 17 @ 2:53 pm:

    Come on now Bruce, you own the lack of a state budget, nice try on flipping.


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