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2014 Flashback: “I’d describe (Rauner) as a guy who is a morally right-to-life guy”

Thursday, Sep 28, 2017

* Wordslinger pointed this out in comments earlier today, so I figured I’d give you something to chew over this evening. It’s my first ever Crain’s Chicago Business column. It was entitled “What does the far right wing see in Rauner?” and it has held up fairly well since February of 2014, before that year’s primary election for governor

Here’s a question that’s been on several minds lately: Why is the state’s leading anti-abortion activist, Jack Roeser, backing Republican Bruce Rauner, who has said he favors a woman’s right to choose?

Mr. Roeser, a staunch conservative, has contributed millions of dollars to anti-abortion groups and candidates. His commitment to the abortion issue never has been questioned, and he’s at the top of anyone’s list of true believers.

But when you think of teachers-union haters, Mr. Roeser also is right at the top of the list. The founder of manufacturer Otto Engineering Inc. spent a fortune battling them. The unions are, the businessman says, “the most troublesome, rotten sons of bit***s in the whole state.”

And when you think about folks who despise Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, Mr. Roeser leads the vanguard. He once called Mr. Madigan a “despot” and “the man most responsible for the desolation of our once-great state.”

Mr. Rauner is a well-known foe of the teachers unions. They’re his favorite punching bag, along with the “big-government union bosses” at AFSCME and SEIU who “have a stranglehold on the state” and “bribe” politicians.

Mr. Rauner also has not been shy about attacking Mr. Madigan. It’s basically his whole campaign theme. Late last year, Mr. Rauner said he would “stand up to Madigan, because I know where his special-interest groups are, and I can go after them.”

Abortion, unions, Mr. Madigan. Maybe, the thinking goes, Mr. Roeser figured he’d just go two out of three.

BREAKFASTS WITH MADIGAN

Some have darkly suggested that Mr. Rauner bought off Mr. Roeser with hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to Mr. Roeser’s charities and political funds.

“Nobody’s gonna buy me,” Mr. Roeser scoffed when we spoke by phone. He’s got a point. He’s a millionaire several times over thanks to Otto, a Carpentersville-based switch manufacturer.

It turns out, Mr. Roeser strongly believes that Mr. Rauner is against abortion “from the moment of conception.”

“I’d describe (Mr. Rauner) as a guy who is a morally right-to-life guy, but not on the hustings,” Mr. Roeser explained.

The Rauner campaign wouldn’t respond on the record, only pointing to Mr. Rauner’s previous public statements, in which he describes himself as someone who believes the decision to have an abortion ought to be left up to the woman, along with her family and minister if she so chooses.

And there’s something else that maybe Mr. Roeser doesn’t know. A state legislator told me not long ago that she’s been in small meetings with candidate Rauner where he’s said that he has regularly met with Speaker Madigan, breakfasting with the man he publicly boasts about crushing.

‘WAY IS CLEAR’

Mr. Madigan’s spokesman confirmed the two have met “several times.” The meetings were cordial, nonconfrontational and productive, he said. The spokesman said he didn’t think the two men have met since Mr. Rauner formally announced his campaign for governor last June. The Rauner campaign didn’t respond to questions about when Messrs. Madigan and Rauner last met or how often the two have broken bread. Mr. Rauner frequently talks about his desire to work with legislators once elected, a campaign spokesman points out. Maybe Mr. Roeser just misunderstood Mr. Rauner. Or maybe Mr. Roeser hears only what he wants to hear. The advantage for candidates who have never held office before, like Mr. Rauner, is that they have no voting records. It’s nearly impossible to pin them down on just about any issue if they don’t want to be. What’s not in dispute is that Mr. Rauner needs people like Mr. Roeser to win the Republican primary, but he needs to favor abortion rights to win the general election. He’ll also need to work with Mr. Madigan if he’s elected and hopes to get anything done. A lot of Republicans are overlooking quite a few differences with Mr. Rauner, whom they believe can win it all. “The way is clear to straighten out the Republican Party,” Mr. Roeser told me about Mr. Rauner. I wonder what they’ll think if Mr. Rauner is actually elected.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


Rep. Breen: “Inevitable” that Rauner will get primaried

Thursday, Sep 28, 2017

* WXAN’s Will Stephens interviewed Rep. Peter Breen after Rauner made his announcement about HB40 today. Earlier today, Breen delivered the most massive takedown of Gov. Rauner that I’ve ever seen, so Stephens naturally wanted to talk to him.

“It comes down to the ability to keep your word,” Breen said. “He looked me in the eye, shook my hand and gave me a commitment,” Breen said, adding that Rauner had also promised Chicago’s Cardinal that he would veto the bill.

* And then Breen was asked if the governor who has primaried other Republicans would face a primary challenge himself

We don’t have a litmus test on abortion in the Republican Party. We could have a pro-choice governor as long as he’s a moderate pro-choice governor, but this taxpayer funded abortion is not a moderate position at all. I’m very pro-life. But in this case his positions are so far to the extreme outside of the Republican Party’s positions, I would see it as inevitable that he is going to face a primary challenge.

The full interview is here.

* The Catholic Conference of Illinois, by the way, issued a statement which read in part: “We are deeply disturbed that Governor Rauner has broken his word and firm public promise to veto HB 40.”

…Adding… From Dan Proft’s Illinois Opportunity Project, we have this quote from co-founder Pat Hughes…

“We elected the Bruce Rauner we were sold in twenty-fourteen: a political outsider and Conservative Reformer with “no social agenda.” Today, Illinois’ backlog of unpaid bills is higher, as is our unemployment rate and unfunded pension liability. A budget impasse that put social service providers into crisis was ended by a massive tax hike with no structural reforms. Does that sound like a government under the leadership of a conservative reformer? No. It sounds more like the record of a politically-connected Illinois Democrat.”

“Now, Governor Rauner has mandated taxpayer funding of abortions at any time, for any reason. He additionally signed a law to make Illinois a Sanctuary State. Do those initiatives sound like the priorities of a Governor with “no social agenda?” Of course not. They sound like the priorities of a Social Justice Warrior.”

“No Conservative Reform Governor has ever done so much for the liberal agenda. The Illinois GOP needs to condemn the man and the bill with the tenacity and urgency with which they would oppose any other pro-choice, big government Democrat. We have been complicit for far too long.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   45 Comments      


A sampling of more HB40 react

Thursday, Sep 28, 2017

* Gov. Rauner’s decision to sign HB40 kinda put GOP attorney general candidate Erika Harold in a box. She will depend heavily on him for campaign funds, but she’s also strongly pro-life. Here’s her react…

Attorney General candidate Erika Harold released the following statement after Governor Rauner announced he would sign HB 40:

“The Governor personally reached out to me about his decision, and I know he did not reach it easily. While we disagree on this issue, there remains much on which we agree - and that is what unites us as Republicans. We both agree on the need to make Illinois more competitive, we agree on the need to lift up the less fortunate and we agree on the need to crack down on corruption and wrongdoing. As I have stated several times in the past, as Attorney General, I will enforce all of the laws of the state.”

* Senate GOP Leader Bill Brady was also diplomatic…

“I voted against House Bill 40 and do not support the legislation,” said Brady. “While we disagree on this issue, and while I am disappointed, I stand ready to work with the Governor on the key economic issues and other challenges facing Illinois.”

* Strongly pro-life Rep. Tom Morrisson was not so polite and claimed Rauner broke his word…

Governor Bruce Rauner today signed legislation (HB 40) allowing for state funding of all abortions regardless of the reason, a move State Rep. Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) calls unconscionable and the ultimate betrayal of trust of the majority of Illinois citizens who oppose the destruction of unborn children at taxpayers’ expense.

“Governor Bruce Rauner gave us his word in the Spring that he would veto this legislation if it were sent to him,” Morrison said. “In the last several weeks, as he indicated a reconsideration of that position, Republican legislators and allies offered to accept an Amendatory Veto, but he rejected those ideas. If this legislation is really about the right to choose – then what about my constituents who deserve to have the right to choose not to have their tax dollars used to fund the killing of unborn children? This is a tragic day for Illinois.”

Federal Law as written in the Hyde Amendment clearly prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortions. Illinois law only allows taxpayer funding for abortions in the event the life or the health of the mother is threatened or the mother is raped. House Bill 40 changes all of this and allows taxpayer funding of abortion services for ANY reason.

“There is no reason for taxpayers to have to pay for abortions regardless of the reasons the abortion is being performed,” Morrison said. “I condemn the Governor’s actions today in the strongest possible terms.”

* Neither was Rep. Dave McSweeney…

Bruce Rauner is a failed Governor who lied to the people of Illinois. On April 14th, he announced that he would veto HB 40. Rauner looked the other way on the 32% increase in the income tax rate , made Illinois a sanctuary state and is primarily responsible for Illinois’ $16 billion backlog of unpaid bills.

* And check out this one from Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton)…

“The Governor’s decision to break his promise and sign taxpayer funded abortion on-demand is a profound and unprecedented betrayal beyond words. This is a tragic day for everyone who values the sanctity of life. The Governor’s action today makes Illinois the first state in country to mandate taxpayer funding of abortion under Medicaid at any time, for any reason as a result of signing legislation into law. This is a total failure of leadership.”

…Adding… Another very angry House Republican…


And…

Paul Caprio, Director of Family-Pac, today stated: “Bruce Rauner today declared war on the pro-family movement, Illinois taxpayers, and the most basic values of the Republican party.”

Caprio concluded, “No serious conservative of any type can consider ever voting for Bruce Rauner again.”

Whew.

And…


Could she be leaving soon? We’ll see.

* From the other side, here’s the DGA…

“Simply put, Bruce Rauner was caught trying to play both sides of the abortion debate for political gain,” said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “Rauner put his own political gain over the health and welfare of Illinois women and families—again. Rauner’s public waffling throughout this episode shows that Illinois voters cannot trust Rauner to look out for their best interests.”

* JB Pritzker…

“Since the beginning of this campaign, I have demanded that Bruce Rauner sign HB 40,” said JB Pritzker. “My campaign delivered thousands of postcards encouraging the governor to sign HB 40, held a phone bank in support of the bill, and stood with HB 40’s co-sponsors at several events calling on this failed governor to do his job for Illinois women.

“Let’s be clear: Bruce Rauner threatened to veto HB 40 and only got around to doing the right thing after an organized advertising and grassroots campaign. Today’s announcement does not change the fact that Bruce Rauner’s only sense of morality is whatever panders best to voters. Illinois women deserve a relentless advocate in the fight to protect their rights – and that’s exactly what I’ll be as governor.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   48 Comments      


Question of the day

Thursday, Sep 28, 2017

* Your one-word opinion of Gov. Rauner’s decision to sign HB40? One word only, please. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   104 Comments      


ILGOP chairman says he’s “disappointed” in Rauner, but blames Madigan

Thursday, Sep 28, 2017

* Surprise!…

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider released the following statement after Governor Rauner announced he will be signing House Bill 40 into law:

“I am disappointed in the Governor’s decision to sign HB40 as the Illinois Republican Party opposes taxpayer-funded abortions.

“While I am frustrated and saddened, I also know that Speaker Madigan and the Democrats are trying to use this issue to divide our party and elect a Madigan-backed candidate for governor.

“As Chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, I will not let that happen. Our state faces great challenges, and we are focused on the issues that unite us as Republicans and as Illinoisans. There is no daylight between Governor Rauner and the Illinois Republican Party and we will continue working hard to ensure his reelection and finally defeat Mike Madigan once and for all.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      


House GOP Floor leader: “I can no longer support” Rauner

Thursday, Sep 28, 2017

* This is the most brutal reaction I’ve yet seen about the governor signing HB40…

Today Illinois Republican Governor Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 40, which provides taxpayer funding for abortions.

In response, House Republican Floor Leader, Rep. Peter Breen, issued the following statement:

“I’ve had a front row seat to watch the performance and ability of Bruce Rauner over these past three years.

I’ve seen him rapidly hire and terminate numerous staff members, highly competent professionals who were proven successful in their prior roles. Inexplicably, they appeared incompetent while working for Rauner.

I personally observed him badly botch negotiations with the General Assembly on a variety of subjects, finally getting to the point where Governor Rauner couldn’t even be in the same room as House Speaker Mike Madigan. Madigan is the one guy who Rauner promised to stand up to, but he can’t or won’t even enter the arena for that fight.

I’ve heard Rauner promise the people of Illinois that he had “no social agenda” and as such firmly commit to legislators, the public, and even to Chicago’s Cardinal, Blaise Cupich, that he would veto taxpayer funding of abortions. But he has now broken that commitment, signing a bill that puts taxpayers on the hook to pay for an expected 20,000-30,000 aborted lives per year. And without any source of funding, in the throes of an unbalanced budget. Now, I’ve come to expect politicians to shade the truth, but what’s clear today is that Rauner’s promises were just flat out lies.

As the lead advocate for the Republicans on the floor of the Illinois House, I have given Bruce Rauner every benefit of the doubt. I supported his vetoes on a number of bills that would have made it more difficult to do business in Illinois. Any elected Republican in this state would have vetoed those same bills. Hardly exceptional.

The only unique feature left in Rauner’s favor is that he writes big campaign checks. For Republicans whose elections require those contributions, I understand their reluctance to be critical of Rauner. They may even still give him the benefit of the doubt, as I did until today.

In the face of overwhelming evidence of Rauner’s inability to competently administer the Illinois government, inability to stand up to Mike Madigan effectively, and inability to keep his word and his commitments, I can no longer support him. And whether or not they are able to agree publicly, I know hundreds of elected Republicans, along with hundreds of thousands of Republican voters, who feel the same way I do.”

Whoa.

- Posted by Rich Miller   81 Comments      


*** LIVE COVERAGE *** Rauner press conference on HB40

Thursday, Sep 28, 2017

* I’m having trouble setting up a new ScribbleLive thingy, so we gotta use this one instead. The festivities begin at 3…


- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


Traffic tickets lead to huge spike in black Chapter 13 filings

Thursday, Sep 28, 2017

* Chapter 13 filings per 1,000 residents - black census tracts vs. white census tracts in Chicago

* Pro Publica looked into what’s going on

Because of a boom in Chapter 13 filings, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois, which includes Chicago, had more consumer filings in 2015 than any other district in the country.

Almost exclusively fueling this rise are residents of the district’s black communities, where the rate of filings has doubled since 2009. This racial disparity isn’t unique to the Chicago area, but there’s hardly anywhere else in the country where the gap is quite so wide. Even controlling for income, the odds of a black debtor in the Northern District of Illinois choosing Chapter 13 instead of Chapter 7 were about four times as high as those of a white debtor. And, as we found nationally, black debtors were less likely to successfully complete their Chapter 13 plans and have their debts discharged.

Why this is happening can be traced to the sort of run-of-the-mill financial hit many Americans face: traffic-related tickets. In Chicago, the failure to pay such tickets can result in a suspended driver’s license or impounded car, crucial lifelines to many low-income families.

In our analysis, we note that the rise in Chapter 13 filings has mainly been driven by black, low-income debtors unable to pay tickets owed to the City of Chicago. By filing under Chapter 13, these people are trying to keep their cars or licenses. Chapter 13 stops seizures and suspensions as long as debtors can keep up payments, but the data shows that most can’t. We also found that the Semrad Law Firm, also known as DebtStoppers, played an outsized role. The firm’s clients are largely black and overwhelmingly file under Chapter 13. From 2012 through 2015, DebtStoppers accounted for about 40 percent of Chapter 13 filings by debtors who lived in mostly black areas.

Wow.

And if you click here for the whole study, you’ll see that Chapter 13 discharge rates are lower for black debtors than for whites. So, they’re staying in debt.

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Fritz Kaegi busts the cap in his race against Assessor Berrios

Thursday, Sep 28, 2017

* Interesting…


* So, who is this guy? From a recent press release…

Fritz Kaegi, the progressive Democrat challenging embattled incumbent Joe Berrios for Cook County Assessor, announced on Monday his endorsement by prominent progressive Democrats from across Cook County.

Kaegi’s campaign announced endorsements from:

    45th Ward Alderman and Committeeman John Arena
    1st Ward Alderman and Committeeman Ald. Joe Moreno
    43rd Ward Alderman Michele Smith
    33rd Ward Committeeman Aaron Goldstein
    39th Ward Committeeman Robert Murphy
    Evanston City Clerk Devon Reid
    Wheeling Township Committeeman and former State Rep. Mark Walker
    Hazel Crest Mayor Vernard Alsberry, Jr.
    Education activist Troy LaRaviere

“When the Trump Tower is enjoying a 70 percent break on its property taxes, but middle class homeowners in my community are getting hit worse than ever before, it’s time to question the status quo in the assessor’s office,” said Ald. Arena. “I trust Fritz Kaegi, who is committed to ethical, transparent leadership, to clean up the assessor’s office and make sure working families are getting the fair shake they deserve.”

“Assessor Berrios has been handing out tax breaks to the very wealthiest among us while working families in my community and elsewhere get a raw deal,” said Ald. Moreno. “He’s driven by a commitment to helping the big time property tax lawyers who fill his campaign coffers–not his constituents. I have confidence Fritz Kaegi will put an end to the pay to play and nepotism in the assessor’s office, and will make sure that properties are valued based on their worth, not on the owner’s political clout.”

“The residents of the 43rd Ward value good government that works for everyone. They want a leader who is looking after the welfare of all the people in Cook County, not someone who is just looking out for their political cronies,” said Ald. Smith. “We need someone like Fritz Kaegi who values ethics and fairness as the Cook County Assessor. “

“When I was elected last year, Evanstonians showed they were hungry for new, progressive leadership to dismantle the old school politics as usual–and now, Fritz Kaegi is just the person to bring that kind of change to the Assessor’s Office in 2018,” said Clerk Reid. “Residents want to know everyone is paying their fair share of property taxes–and they want to know their government is ethical and transparent. That is why I am endorsing Fritz Kaegi for Cook County Assessor.”

“The Southland was hit hard by the property bubble. Lots of people are underwater on their mortgages and are still being hit with high property taxes. We are paying taxes on what our houses were worth at the top end of the real estate cycle, but if we wanted to sell, we couldn’t get anything near that,” Mayor Alsberry said. “Cook County residents should not have to appeal their taxes to get a fair assessment. Things should be done right the first time.”

Kaegi said, “I am gratified to be endorsed by so many leaders from all across Cook County who know that it is time to create a culture within the Cook County Assessor’s office that gets things right the first time–fairly, ethically, and transparently. We need assessments downtown and in every neighborhood that are not a result of pay-to-play politics. Cook County residents should not have to hire a lawyer who contributes to Joe Berrios to get a fair shake.”

He’ll need a lot more than $250K to win in that county, so we’ll see. And, of course, Berrios doesn’t have to worry about capped contributions any longer.

*** UPDATE ***  With a hat tip to a commenter

Kaegi was born in Hyde Park, resides in Oak Park, and promises to spend “at least $1 million” and “maybe” up to $3 million.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


*** UPDATED x3 - Cardinal Cupich, Rauner staff informed - Sources: Rauner will sign *** Rauner will disclose HB40 plans this afternoon

Thursday, Sep 28, 2017

* Stay tuned…


…Adding… From the governor’s office…

What: Gov. Rauner makes an announcement on HB 40

Where: Thompson Center, Blue Room-15th Floor, Chicago

Date: Thursday, September 28, 2017

Time: 3:00 p.m.

Note: Credentialed media only

*** UPDATE 1 ***  I’m hearing from very good and multiple sources that Rauner is signing the bill.

*** UPDATE 2 *** The governor called Cardinal Cupich today to tell him of his decision. It’s 100 percent. He just informed his staff of his intent as well.

*** UPDATE 3 *** Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, is in town and word is she’ll be at Rauner’s press conference.

- Posted by Rich Miller   54 Comments      


Personal PAC gives me a scare

Thursday, Sep 28, 2017

* I received this earlier today and so did a reporter friend and we were both a bit alarmed because, obviously, neither one of us had signed up to be in the group’s newspaper ad…

Dear Rich,

Thank you very much for your agreeing to have your name listed on the full page “Bruce and Diana Rauner Lied To Us!” newspaper ad in support of HB 40.

In a little over 48 hours, an astounding 817 people have added their names to the ad! Initially, we were hoping to have 250 names as Diana’s October 14, 2014 Chicago Tribune ad, where she lied to the people of Illinois about Bruce being pro-choice, had 150 names. The Rauners are not going to be very pleased with many of the names we have on our ad as they will be very familiar and close to home and office. The feedback from these people make it clear they have had it with the Rauners unless he signs HB 40.

We are continuing to collect names leading up to October 2nd placement of the ads across Illinois. If you could get us just one more name of a friend, colleague or relative for the ad, that would be wonderful, although we may need an additional full page ad just for all the names of people agreeing to be listed! This is especially important now as Politico reported yesterday that Rauner is meeting with anti-choice activists tomorrow in order to VETO HB 40.

While many of you are being generous in providing financial support for the ad, every additional contribution helps us spread the HB 40 message to more voters across Illinois.

Thank you for all you are doing to ensure HB 40 becomes the law of our land.

Together, we will get this done.

Terry Cosgrove
President & CEO

* And then a bit later…

Dear Rich,

We apologize for the error of the previous email. The email was sent to our whole list of thousands in error and not to just the 817 people who signed the ad. I deeply apologize and your name will NOT appear on the ad unless you specifically asked to have your name included.

Thank you again and please accept our apology.

Terry Cosgrove
President & CEO

Well, that’s a relief.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


Chuy Garcia says Kennedy is only Dem who can defeat Rauner

Thursday, Sep 28, 2017

* Press release…

This morning, Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia endorsed Chris Kennedy as the next Governor of Illinois. During a press conference at New Era Windows cooperative, an employee-owned manufacturing plant on Chicago’s southwest side, Garcia thanked Kennedy for his commitment to challenging the status quo and bringing fundamental change to Illinois.

“There is only one person running for Governor who has a chance to defeat Bruce Rauner and be the progressive leader our community deserves: Chris Kennedy. That’s why I am proud to stand here today and support his candidacy for Governor,” Garcia said. “I trust Chris Kennedy to deliver on the key issues facing our community. He supports giving low-to-middle income students free college tuition for at least two years at Illinois community colleges and trade schools. Chris will fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and he believes health care is a basic human right. That’s why he has signed on to one of the main tenets of the Bernie Sanders platform: Medicare for All.”

Garcia highlighted that Kennedy has continued his family’s legacy as a champion for worker rights. It’s a legacy that began in 1966, when Kennedy’s father, the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, joined César Chávez as he ended his 25-day water-only fast to advocate for the Farmworkers Rights movement.

In 1988, when Chávez held a 36-day fast to highlight the harmful impact of pesticides on farmworkers, Kennedy joined Chávez and fasted in solidarity with him for three days.

Kennedy thanked Commissioner Garcia for his endorsement saying, “I am honored that Chuy Garcia has joined the Kennedy-Joy campaign today. He has spent his career fighting for those forgotten by the powerful and the political insiders,” Kennedy said. “He knows that we need to make a big change in Illinois. We need to break up the failed status quo to help working families.

“We need a $15 minimum wage. No one should work full-time and live in poverty. We need to strive to provide health care to every man, woman and child in Illinois, and we need to end the property tax racket that allows powerful politicians to personally profit while our public schools get less. Together, we are building a movement from the bottom up to not just change a governor but to fix a broken, rigged political system that has failed the people of Illinois.”

* Ald. Rick Muñoz also endorsed Kennedy today…


Garcia was one of the most visible supporters of Bernie Sanders’ primary race.

* More

Also on Thursday, Kennedy is holding a major fundraiser with the guest of honor, his mother Ethel Kennedy. Several of his sisters also will be in Chicago for the event, which is focused on women supporting Kennedy.

He most definitely needs the money.

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      


Governor helps ally showcase new incubator

Thursday, Sep 28, 2017

* I was reading some stories about Gov. Rauner’s visit to what’s being billed as a business incubator on Chicago’s South Side yesterday and kinda went down a rabbit hole for what seemed like forever.

Let’s start with CBS 2

Rev. Corey Brooks and Project HOOD have opened a new Woodlawn community center focused on helping people get ahead financially.

In donated space at a shuttered Walgreens store at 63rd and King Drive, Brooks unveiled the Project HOOD Leadership and Economic Opportunity Center.

The facility essentially is a South Side business incubator. Brooks said it was created without government funds, but Gov. Bruce Rauner was on hand to help cut the ribbon on Wednesday, and he applauded the private donors who helped fund the center. […]

The governor said the state will help with job-training grants for some of the Project HOOD partners.

“Where the government has played a role, and always does; part of the charter of our Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is to provide grant money for job training, especially for skilled trades, like construction, etc. That’s going on here, and some of the private businesses that are doing the job training also received some Department of Commerce resources,” he said.

So, it’s privately funded, but it’ll have government money. As the governor says, that’s how these things tend to work. But this caught my eye yesterday…


Also, Brooks endorsed Gov. Rauner in 2014, which isn’t mentioned in the piece.

* But the political connections were right up front in the Sun-Times story written before the event

Politically connected South Side pastor Corey Brooks this week opens a new training center in a beleaguered area of rising Woodlawn, which will be housed in a shuttered Walgreens at 63rd and King Drive that has been donated to his nonprofit.

If his political connections help his new incubator succeed, then fine. Jobs and businesses are in extremely short supply in that part of the city.

* But about that building. It wasn’t actually donated. The remaining lease was donated

When Walgreens closed the store in summer 2016 as part of a downsizing that closed stores across the country, Brooks was able to get Walgreens to donate the remaining four years of its lease on the building to him.

* This is all part of reviving Brooks’ long-term goal of opening a community center. Remember his “Walk Across America” in 2012? Back then, he wanted to raise $15 million for the community center, but he only raised about $500K. His new goal is far higher

Brooks’ Project HOOD on Wednesday opened the new center inside a shuttered Walgreens at 6330 S. Martin Luther King Drive, which is to be a stepping stone towards a larger goal of opening a permanent $23 million community center in Woodlawn. […]

Brooks has a four-year lease on the former Walgreens, which is supposed to be enough time to raise the $23 million necessary to build the new community center debt free. But Brooks admitted the conversion of the Walgreens has drained much of the nonprofit’s resources and it’s a long climb up to hit that fundraising goal. […]

Rauner said he had not personally contributed any funds to Project HOOD, but dropped $40 in a donation jar on his way out the door.

Way to go, Big Bucks Bruce!

* Since Brooks admitted that the incubator drained his group’s resources, I’m curious how far he really is away from meeting his fundraising goal

He declined to say how far he was toward raising the $23 million needed to build the center, but said he still expects to start construction in 2018 so the nonprofit can move in when its lease ends in the Walgreens space.

“Our goal is to pay cash for our facility so we’re not in any debt,” Brooks said.

The permanent center will be a major expansion for the nonprofit physically, with 60,000 square feet of new space, and Brooks said the programming will need to be ready to scale up quickly.

* But, for now, he has some lofty goals for the incubator

Project H.O.O.D. will house six components for innovation — construction certification and training, a business and entrepreneur hub, a Women’s Entrepreneur Center, youth mentoring, a media program and a trainee-run restaurant and café. Programs at the facility will range from carpentry to journalism to financial literacy. […]

The building has been completely renovated and provides a space where entrepreneurs and contractors can grow their businesses. Meetings can be held in colorful cubicles. Special rooms allow for training in construction and food management.

The biggest impact may be that big organizations and corporations will visit to let small business owners know how they can secure contracts and make money. For example, on Wednesday, representatives from the Illinois Tollway were at the center.

So, the Tollway was there, too?

* Back to the Sun-Times

He’ll be joined Wednesday by Rauner, who gave Brooks a post-election $31,426-a-year appointment with the Illinois Tollway board, good through May 2019.

* One more tidbit

Other identified donors include construction trades firms, a car dealership and Republican politician Jim Oberweis’ ice cream firm.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


Boykin won’t challenge Preckwinkle for county board president

Thursday, Sep 28, 2017

* Boykin confirmed it at a press conference after this story was published

Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin will announce later Thursday morning that he will not oppose Toni Preckwinkle for the board president position.

In recent months, Boykin has been an outspoken critic of the controversial beverage tax. He has led rallies calling for the repeal of the tax and has told reporters “Preckwinkle must go,” so his decision not to run has surprised many.

Boykin is also announcing his political intentions before the Oct. 10 vote on a possible repeal of the tax, with a chance of a second vote on October 11th, depending on the first vote’s outcome.

Political strategists believe Boykin, who once worked for Congressman Danny Davis, may be waiting to consider that Congressional seat when Davis chooses to retire.

Considering how poorly Preckwinkle and her pop tax are polling, it’s kind of amazing nobody has yet emerged to take her on. Yes, she has powerful allies and power of her own, but this contest is ripe for the picking.

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


AFSCME responds to US Supreme Court decision to hear “right to work” case

Thursday, Sep 28, 2017

* Click here for background. From AFSCME Council 31…

Janus: A political effort to rig the rules against working people
In an unfair economy, workers say the freedom to come together in strong unions is more important than ever

The United States Supreme Court today granted Certiorari in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31. This case is a blatantly political and well-funded scheme to use the highest court in the land to further rig the economic rules against everyday working people. Behind this case are billionaire CEOs, corporate interests and politicians like Governor Bruce Rauner who have teamed up to deliver yet another attack on working people by striking at the freedom to come together in strong unions.

“The forces behind this case know that by joining together in strong unions, working people have the voice they need to level the economic and political playing field,” AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said. “Billionaires like Bruce Rauner are trying to rig the rules to take more power and influence for themselves.”

The case was born as an overt political attempt by Governor Rauner to attack public service workers through the courts. In an interview with the right-wing Hoover Institution, Rauner admitted the case has “nothing to do with the budget, nothing to do with reform” but instead is intended to “change the power structure”. A letter from the CEO of the corporate-backed, State Policy Network—the parent organization of the Illinois Policy Institute—revealed the case’s true intent: to strike a “mortal blow” and “defund” America’s unions.

The lack of merit in Janus is clear. Since 1977, the unanimous Supreme Court precedent set in the Abood case has effectively governed labor relations between public sector employees and employers, allowing employers and employees the freedom to determine labor policies that best serve the public. The Janus case’s attempt to manipulate the court against working people should be rejected.

“This case is yet another example of corporate interests using their power and influence to launch a political attack on working people and rig the rules of the economy in their own favor,” AFSCME President Lee Saunders said. “When working people are able to join strong unions, they have the strength in numbers they need to fight for the freedoms they deserve, like access to quality health care, retirement security and time off work to care for a loved one. The merits of the case, and 40 years of Supreme Court precedent and sound law, are on our side. We look forward to the Supreme Court honoring its earlier rulings.”

“As a child protection investigator my work is vital to the safety of our state’s most vulnerable children and families. This court case is yet another political attack on the freedom of public service workers like me to speak up for the resources we need to protect our communities,” AFSCME Council 31 member Stephen Mittons said.

* Related…

* Illinois Policy Institute: Meet the man who could end forced union fees for government workers

- Posted by Rich Miller   89 Comments      


Pritzker talks about opioid crisis

Thursday, Sep 28, 2017

* The candidate was recently in Macomb and the local paper did a very long write-up of his talk

John Curtis, who was present at the event, asked Pritzker about his stance on the growing issue with opioid use, public concerns over heroin and the continual issue with methamphetamine. Curtis noted he has been asked about the subject matter as he has gone door-to-door in the region as part of his campaign.

“We’ve got to stop talking about it as a war on drugs,” Pritzker said. He said much of the problem is addressing the issue of addiction.

“Really, it’s a health crisis. That’s how it should be treated…as an emergency.“

Pritzker shared a personal story of his mother’s battle with alcohol addiction prior to her death. She and Pritzker’s father were both 39 when he died, and she turned to alcohol after that. For 10 years she battled alcoholism.

“She was on and off the wagon,” Pritzker explained. “But it’s a real thing, alcohol addiction. During that time she had a doctor who was feeding her prescription drugs. I grew up in a home where we all took care of our mother. She died from her addiction. If you need to know why I’ll keep on top of this subject, it’s because I grew up in a home where we had to deal with this. We were lucky. We had friends and family who took care of us and made sure we didn’t fall through the cracks. We knew that we were loved and taken care of. But there are a lot of people who don’t have that and don’t know that.

“When you go two years without a budget as we did, all your treatment diminishes…I know we shouldn’t treat this situation as if people with addiction should go to jail or prison because they’re addicted. If you talk to police officers and sheriffs all across the state, they’ll tell you they’ve got too many people put in jail simply because they’re addicted. We need treatment before we do incarceration that’s for sure. And by the way, that costs you less.“

* The campaign also sent out a press release on this topic today…

Yesterday, an article in the State Journal-Register laid out the grim reality of the opioid epidemic in Illinois. Even as deaths skyrocket and treatment centers flood with people, Bruce Rauner has done nothing but pay lip service and exacerbate the problem.

A recent report by the Illinois Department of Human Services found an increase in drug-related deaths driven primarily by opioids. 1,826 opioid deaths were reported in 2016 alone, representing a 32 percent increase over 2015 and over 80 percent of total drug overdoses for the year. While Rauner has formed a task force to combat the epidemic, in 2015 he vetoed drug treatment funding, and recently announced he will not spend money appropriated for substance abuse services.

“While the opioid epidemic continues to take lives and destroy families, Bruce Rauner is attacking the very organizations and tools needed to combat this crisis,” said Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh. “Rauner’s damage is done and Illinoisans deserve better than this failed governor.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      


Pritzker questioned on Poshard endorsement

Thursday, Sep 28, 2017

* From a Tribune piece the other day about Glenn Poshard’s endorsement of JB Pritzker

Pritzker is backing a measure to expand taxpayer funding for abortion to women on Medicaid and covered by state employee health insurance. Poshard opposed abortion rights as a governor candidate and member of Congress.

Pritzker once served as chairman of the advisory board of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence. As an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Congress in 1998 on the North Shore, he proposed a ban of the sale of handguns. Poshard was a gun rights advocate during his tenure in Congress, though as a candidate for governor he softened his staunch opposition to gun control by supporting a ban on some types of semi-automatic weapons.

Pritzker also has been a major and longtime supporter of gay rights, and last year chaired the anniversary gala for Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest advocacy group. Poshard opposed gay rights and as a candidate for governor, he told activists that some property owners should have the right to refuse to rent to people based on their sexual orientation.

“I am so proud to have the endorsement of a distinguished leader like Glenn Poshard,” Pritzker said in announcing the endorsement.

* The paper covered the topic again today, working it into its Mendoza endorsement story

But Pritzker bristled a bit when asked by a reporter about how his progressive background meshes with former U.S. Rep. Glenn Poshard’s endorsement last week. In announcing the endorsement Friday, Pritzker said in a statement that “as an elected official, an advocate for children and an educator, Glenn Poshard has always fought for what’s right.”

As a congressman and unsuccessful 1998 Democratic governor candidate, Poshard backed letting schools seek waivers to allow corporal punishment, opposed gay rights and was an ardent foe of gun control — positions at odds with Pritzker’s.

On Wednesday, Pritzker initially said he was “proud” to have Poshard’s endorsement in a “big tent” Democratic Party and said his earlier statement was expressing “a level of admiration” for “somebody who stands up for their own beliefs.”

Asked about Poshard’s conflicting beliefs, Pritzker said: “He’s not running for public office. I am. And it’s my beliefs and what I’ll carry out as governor that really matter.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


US Supreme Court agrees to hear “right to work” case

Thursday, Sep 28, 2017

* AP

A Supreme Court with a reconstituted conservative majority is taking on a new case, which originated in Illinois, with the potential to financially cripple Democratic-leaning labor unions that represent government workers. The justices deadlocked 4-4 in a similar case last year.

The high court agreed Thursday to again consider a free-speech challenge from workers who object to paying money to unions they don’t support.

The court could decide to overturn a 40-year-old Supreme Court ruling that allows public sector unions to collect fees from non-members to cover the costs of negotiating contracts for all employees.

The latest appeal is from a state employee in Illinois. It was filed at the Supreme Court just two months after Justice Neil Gorsuch filled the high court seat that had been vacant since Justice Antonin Scalia’s death.

* Bloomberg

Union leaders say that collecting what they call “fair-share fees” ensures that workers can push for higher wages and better job conditions. If the fees weren’t mandatory, workers could become free riders, benefiting from union representation without paying for it, according to a branch of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees that represents Janus and other Illinois workers.

“Abood acknowledged that certain labor-relations interests justify the small intrusion on employees’ First Amendment interests that fair-share payments represent,” the union argued.

Janus works as a child-support specialist at the Illinois Department of Healthcare Services. He was one of three employees who took over a lawsuit originally filed by Illinois’s Republican governor, Bruce Rauner.

* Press release…

In response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s announcement today that it is granting a writ of certiorari in Janus v. AFSCME, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix issued the following statement:

“With the Supreme Court agreeing to hear the Janus case, we are now one step closer to freeing over 5 million public sector teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other employees from the injustice of being forced to subsidize a union as a condition of working for their own government.

“As the Court noted in the National Right to Work Foundation’s landmark Knox v. SEIU victory, compelled speech under the guise of forced union dues is an ‘anomaly’ under the First Amendment. We are hopeful that by the end of this Supreme Court term, the High Court will finally end this anomaly and fully protect the First Amendment rights of public sector workers against an injustice that has existed for over half a century.”

National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, along with attorneys with the Illinois-based Liberty Justice Center, are providing free legal representation to plaintiff Mark Janus, a child support specialist at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Service.

Jacob Huebert, director of litigation at the Liberty Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“We are pleased the Supreme Court has agreed to take up this case and revisit a 40-year-old precedent that has allowed governments to violate the First Amendment rights of millions of workers. People shouldn’t be forced to surrender their First Amendment right to decide for themselves what organizations they support just because they decide to work for the state, their local government or a public school.

“Right now, public sector employees in Illinois and many other states aren’t given a choice: They’re automatically forced to give their money to a union. Janus v. AFSCME presents an opportunity to restore fairness and First Amendment rights to millions of American workers by giving them the right to choose whether to support a union with their money.”

The case will likely be argued in early 2018 with a decision issued before the Court adjourns at the end of its term in June.

More information, including legal briefs in the case, can be found at www.nrtw.org/janus.

* Rauner administration press release…

Today the United States Supreme Court took an important first step toward ending the unconstitutional practice of dipping into the paychecks of hardworking State employees and forcing them to pay into the union coffers, even if they are not members of the union.

“No person should be forced to give up a portion of their pay each month to fund public sector union activity against their will,” said Governor Bruce Rauner. “It’s a fundamental violation of their First Amendment right to free speech and association. I am hopeful the Court will see it that way in the end.”

The Court has questioned this practice twice in the past five years. Most recently in June of 2016, when it split 4-4, following the death of Justice Scalia. By granting certiorari in Janus v. AFSCME today, the Court is again indicating that it’s concerned about the constitutional implications of forcing non-union members to fund union activities.

Governor Rauner’s Administration has been a leader in protecting the free speech and free association rights of State employees since taking office. These efforts began with Executive Order 2015-13, which directed state agencies to comply with the First Amendment and formed the initial impetus for the Janus case. While the Administration is no longer a party to the litigation, it is pleased to know the Supreme Court has recognized the issues warrant careful consideration. The Court has agreed to resolve this question by the time its current session ends, next June.

- Posted by Rich Miller   117 Comments      


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