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More on the Silverstein allegations

Tuesday, Oct 31, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* DNAInfo Chicago

When Silverstein thought she had a boyfriend, Rotheimer alleged that the state senator moved to kill a bill she was pushing.

“I want him to answer for it and to know that it is wrong,” Rotheimer said, referring to Silverstein. “It is unconscionable.”

* Sun-Times

Silverstein recalled holding hearings on Rotheimer’s bill and holding meetings with the attorney general’s office in a failed attempt to find middle ground.

“I worked the bill as hard as I could, but she would not compromise,” he said.

Silverstein was asked whether he ever propositioned Rotheimer, threatened to put a hold on her bill or said, did or wrote anything that could be construed as sexual harassment or intimidation.

“No. Not that I know of. It’s not in my nature. It’s not in my blood. I was trying to help her. I was just trying to help her get this bill through,” he said.

* Tribune

Rotheimer also said she turned to state Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, for help getting a response to her complaint, but “nothing happened.”

Bush said she was contacted by Rotheimer, who told her that she had been treated in an “inappropriate way” by Silverstein and raised concerns that her complaint was not being taken seriously by Cullerton’s office. Bush said she immediately called Cullerton, who said he was aware of the complaint and already had forwarded the matter and documents provided by Rotheimer to the legislative inspector general.

Bush said after that she did not respond to subsequent calls from Rotheimer because she believed it was inappropriate given it had been referred to the appropriate authorities.

“Any time anybody alleges misconduct, the first thing I am going to do is go to the appropriate authorities. It is not my job to decide,” Bush said.

* Rotheimer shared three documents with reporters. The first (click here) is a letter from the Office of Executive Inspector General telling her the OEIG has no jurisdiction over legislators.

She also shared this complaint she filed…

The first order of business that needs to be established in Springfield is to enact a zero tolerance policy for elected officials who abuse their position of power and require their immediate resignation. I did not deserve to be violated by state Senator Ira I. Silverstein. He sponsored my bill with the intent to degrade me and invade my privacy by messaging me and calling me at midnight–on numerous occasions, by arranging private and personal meetings with me at the park and ice cream parlors, by asking me to be “friendly” and answering personal questions about myself, etc., by telling me he had feelings for me and that I was fun, pretty and very, very attractive, by wanting me to send him pictures of me and telling me that he can’t stop thinking of me, by being mean and hurtful to me on numerous occasions when I tried to talk about the bill, etc. There are nearly 4000 Facebook messages between us since he began “pursuing” me while deceiving me about his motive to support my cause. I told him I would know whether his intent was genuine or not based on the outcome of SB2151. He knew I was committed to this bill and this cause because of all the people who continue to call me and ask for help. All the parents whose children have been raped or murdered and reached out to me and shared their grievances with the system never even scratched the surface of his conscience because his fantasy about me clouted his mind. Liars are master manipulators who betray the trust of those who seek their help with the intent to empower themselves and satisfy their own twisted agenda. Yesterday I filed a complaint with state Senate President John Cullerton on an ethics violation against Senator Silverstein. During the presidential campaign there was a lot of public outcry about Trump’s behavior–I hope the stand that certain elected officials took against Trump’s behavior also stand in support of my complaint. When we mothers whose children have been victims of violent crime and we seek legislative change to prevent other crime victims from becoming further victimized by the system we should not become victimized by any elected official who wants to “play” with us because we “make them smile.”

She also sent a pdf document of their Facebook chats, but said “Please keep the information about any crime victim confidential that are in the fb messages” in her e-mail. So, I’m not linking to the whole thing.

* There is a lot of banter like this…

Ira Silverstein: I will walk behind you and pretend I’m homeless. That way you’ll look good when you give me salami

Denise Rotheimer: great idea and u can then kiss my ring

IS: Oh yes and I will wash your feet

DR: no i have bad feet not many people know that i need a petticure

IS: Do you want me to kiss your toe ring too

DR: how did u know i have a toe ring no one else knows

IS: do u have any tattoos

DR: You’re just that kinda guy. No. Nada on the tattoos

IS: i have one of that lady you love in the attorney generals office

DR: You got a donkey. Where. Your bicep

IS: butt

DR: An ass on your ass. Good one

IS: you finally got one of my jokes not bad for a fake blond

DR: That is too funny

* And this…

DR: I’m in for some kosher food. If you don’t shop for speedos how are you going to buy a new one

IS: i bet you never had kosher food

DR: You lost that bet because I ate at your fundraiser remember. ..

IS: you got me!!!!!!!!! wait a minute that does not count because it is not is a resturant

DR: your the bacon and I’m the egg

IS: bacon is not kosher i am the egg

DR: Wait I meant you’re not your - Mr. correct my grammar whenever you get a chance. Yeah you look more like the egg :)

IS: u r mean
enjoy your popcorn

DR: I knew you would say that. I thought the egg was cute but you think in the negative. Think positive then you wont think of me as mean. Also I ate chocolate ice cream. No popcorn tonight.

IS: ok get fat u need it

DR: I’ll work on it:) by the 2nd I will gain 4 pounds and you will lose 4 pounds. You game?

IS: u r on
how much do you weigh today?

DR: I lost a pound today. I’m skipping the gym. I tried to get up to 115 but I’m stuck at 112. How much do you weigh today?

IS: never ask a man how much he weighs It is like asking a women her age!!!!!!

DR: Come on! How much

IS: no way bring a scale with you to springfield

DR: Are you at least losing like you’re supposed to…since you won’t tell me your weight?
If you tell me I won’t tell, so don’t be shy!!! I told you!!!!!!!!!!

IS: I am shy
and sensitive

DR: Fine. I’ll bring the scale and you bring the corn beef :) since you’re sensitive I won’t make you tell!

IS: deal what kind of bread do you like

DR: Italian. Not rye- yucky. Can you add a banana split to my order

That might - I repeat might - explain the voicemail message from Silverstein about working on her sixpack. But, then again, maybe not.

* And they also talked food and politics during a debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump…

DR: I know you’re a gambling man so if Trump knocks it out of the park during today’s debate you have to buy ice cream after lunch. If Clinton knocks it out of the park I buy the ice cream. Either way I get ice cream :) wanna bet…..

IS: Deal
I love ice cream. This will cost u

DR: The ice cream I want is $15

IS: Ok

DR: Hillary just threw the first stone. Sign of weakness. I’m going to win!

IS: U r dreaming

DR: No I’m watching :) donald is holding up and being nice! […]

IS: Ok there goes your ice cream

DR: Haha. Bet is still on you can’t back out. Remember your word is your bond :)

IS: Ok
she is coming on stronge􏰀

DR: Wait

IS: i am going to bed i win i heard enough

DR: You’re going to miss the best debate ever. Good night

IS: only kidding

DR: It’s hard to hear about Chicago. He’s right though the blacks are majority victims. Law enforcement and whites keep getting blamed for the actions of the thugs which she propagated and needs to stop.

IS: It is a draw

DR: No pun intended. Glad you’re not taking all this seriously. No one is :)

* The only reference to him pulling support from her bill appears to be a joke, but, remember, he could’ve said that in person, on the phone or whatever…

DR: I respect my elders. After your birthday o can no longer make fun of you

IS: I would not talk at least i do not have grey hair and wrinkes like you

DR: Booya That’s a good one. NOT

IS: insult me one more time and i will remove myself as the sponor of your bill

DR: Ah the threats. You can’t intimidate me silly besides you love the bill as much as me

IS: wait until thursday when u check the status of the bill

* Their last conversation that she shared was from November 28, 2016…

IS: Did u get there

DR: Half way there. At gas station. Figured out Facebook :)

IS: Sorry for blowing up on you
I am just as frustrated as u

DR: Put it on the schedule and let me deal with Fullerton. I just spoke with Rep Greg Harris and Elaine netkoritz at dinner
I will deal with Fullerton

She sent her letter to the OEIG on January 19th. So far, we do not know what happened between those two dates, so I would caution everyone to take a breath and keep an open mind. This ain’t over yet.


Question of the day

Tuesday, Oct 31, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I have an annual checkup today, then a couple of errands to run, so I’ll be back later. In the meantime…

* The Question: Your Halloween plans?


*** UPDATED x2 - More Madigan - Madigan says there’ve been “deficiencies” over the years *** Madigan announces sexual harassment task force

Tuesday, Oct 31, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

Speaker Madigan Passes Harassment Protections through Committee, Announces Creation of Task Force to Recommend Further Changes

CHICAGO – House Speaker Michael J. Madigan outlined a plan to combat sexual harassment in state government Tuesday, passing legislation through a House committee that will require all lawmakers, staff and lobbyists to complete annual harassment training, and announcing the creation of a task force that will study further changes needed to address the problem of workplace harassment in both the public and private sectors.

“Sexual harassment is unacceptable in any workplace. This is particularly true in our Capitol, a building that belongs to every woman and man in Illinois,” Madigan said. “Legislative changes are a critical step, but far from a final step. Ultimately, eliminating sexual harassment will require cultures to change. That’s why in addition to continuing to work with lawmakers and advocates to create the strongest legislation possible, I am forming a task force which will lead a continuing conversation on this topic, and recommend further changes to combat workplace harassment both in our government and in the private sector.”

Madigan’s Senate Bill 402 expands existing sexual harassment protections in the Capitol and legislative offices by requiring all lawmakers, staff and lobbyists to complete annual sexual harassment training, including specific examples of what constitutes harassment. All lobbyists will be further required to prepare and submit sexual harassment policies, like legislators do currently. Madigan’s bill also empowers state inspectors general and ethics commissions to investigate allegations, and assess fines of up to $5,000 for incidents of harassment. The measure received bipartisan support in the House Personnel & Pensions Committee. Senate President John Cullerton, and Republican leaders Jim Durkin and Bill Brady have come out in favor of Madigan’s bill.

Madigan also announced that he will establish a Task Force on Sexual Discrimination and Harassment, to be chaired by House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie. Listening to input from all stakeholders, the task force will be charged with conducting a comprehensive review of the legal and social consequences of sexual discrimination and harassment in both the public and private sectors, and make actionable recommendations to the General Assembly on changes that will improve reporting of allegations, protect those who report harassment, and prevent sexual discrimination and harassment.

The lack of a legislative inspector general ought to be addressed post haste.

*** UPDATE 1 ***  Tony Yuscius at briefly interviewed Speaker Madigan after today’s hearing. Tony asked Madigan if he feels the issue of sexual harassment has been treated seriously over the years or if it has been glossed over

I think that historically there have been deficiencies. I know in my office, the Office of the Speaker, we’ve been very aggressive on matters such as this. If we can do better, that’s what we’re going to do. And that’s the commitment we made today and that’s the commitment that we’re making in this legislation. If we can do better, that’s what we’re going to do.


*** UPDATE 2 *** Sun-Times

“There were instances where complaints were filed with the ethics officer, people including legislators were called in and told ‘You better knock it off because we won’t tolerate it in the Office of the Speaker,” Madigan said.

But will the new legislation change a “knock it off” culture?

“You’re going to have it in statute, mandatory training. You’ll have it in the statute that the matter is subject to fine,” Madigan said.

And his advice to legislators who perhaps thought they could get away with harassment: “Better knock it off because you’re going to get in big trouble. And you can ask a member of the Senate that question,” the speaker said.


*** UPDATED x1 *** Skillicorn endorses Ives

Tuesday, Oct 31, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

Representative Allen Skillicorn (R-East Dundee) supports Representative Jeanne Ives in her primary challenge to displace Rauner as the Republican candidate for Governor of Illinois.

Rauner has failed as a leader, both as Governor and head of the Illinois Republican Party.

His list of failures as Governor include owning the massive 32% tax hike, which from my perspective, he didn’t raise a finger to stop and contained not a single reform; over $30 Million that will be spent on Medicaid abortions; a backlog of bills that grew to and continues to be over $16B; lack of a budget for two years that forced us to spend billions more than we had; and making Illinois a sanctuary state, just like Chicago is a sanctuary city. His revolving office door of staffers hired and fired could be used for wind power for as often as it turns.

As the leader of the Republican Party, he’s divided it–we can’t even find candidates. Rauner’s GOP couldn’t field candidates for Treasurer or Comptroller–Republicans used to hold those offices. If he is successful in winning the primary, Illinois Republicans will be decimated come November 2018.

* Meanwhile, I told subscribers yesterday that Ives was still passing petitions to run for reelection. She told Illinois Public Radio that others are passing the petitions, but she’s running for governor

Mackey: Are you still also circulating petitions for your House seat?

Ives: I am not personally circulating petitions. I don’t know if they’re still out there among the committeemen, and they may still be getting signatures for that race as well. I do have the minimum, but I’m not circulating those now. We’re focused on this governor race and getting on the ballot.

Mackey: OK, well that — I guess that is my main question: Are you, with certainty, not running for the House again?

Ives: Yeah, as far as I know, I am not running for the House again.

So, the question for all Republicans now is: Who are you backing for governor in the GOP primary?

*** UPDATE ***  The DGA trolls Rauner…

Over the weekend, Rep. Jeanne Ives of Wheaton announced she would begin passing petitions to challenge Governor Bruce Rauner in the Republican primary, just days after Rauner officially announced his reelection bid. In her first few interviews, Rep. Ives went right after one of Rauner’s biggest weaknesses – his aversion to telling the truth. Rep. Ives jumped right in:

    “He’s failed the integrity test. No one in the legislature believes a word he says.”(Link)

    “Meanwhile, Gov. Rauner’s going to spend a lot of his money to convince people that he’s somebody who he isn’t.” (Link)

    (On HB40) “That’s not being honest with folks, especially when you told people you were going to veto it.” (Link)

    “Top political leaders have lied to the people about who they are and what they are going to do - and they continue to make promises we cannot keep.” (Link)

One of the main drivers of a primary challenge came when Rauner was caught trying to play both sides of the abortion debate. Republicans are angry that Rauner lied to them this spring when he promised to veto HB40. (Even the Cardinal got involved!)

Rauner’s pertinence for spreading falsehoods has already been a factor outside of the primary. For weeks Rauner ran a television ad that took credit for the state’s new education bill, despite the fact he vetoed it and ran his own ads against it. And who could forget the fact that Rauner lied about his grandfather’s place of birth. Or whether he interviewed his then-new bodyman who was quickly fired for inappropriate tweets.

Perhaps Rauner’s biggest lie is that he deserves reelection.

“Bruce Rauner will spin as many tales as possible about his record but the truth is that he failed the people of Illinois,” said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “During the general and primary, Rauner will have to answer for the continued loss of people and jobs, increased debt, and failure over two-years to pass a budget. Rauner promised a turnaround, but Illinois is only getting worse under this failed leadership.”


*** UPDATED x3 - Silverstein recorded - Madigan responds - Silverstein responds *** Sen. Silverstein accused of harassment during House hearing

Tuesday, Oct 31, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From today’s House hearing on sexual harassment…

* Denise Rotheimer told the House committee considering sexual harassment legislation today that she filed a harassment complaint against Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago) a year ago. Rotheimer had already passed “Jasmine’s Law” which increased penalties for violent sexual offenders and was working to pass yet another bill at the time.

Rotheimer said she lost 20 pounds, her hair fell out and had to admit herself to a hospital because of Silverstein’s behavior.

“He had so much power over me,” Rothmeimer said.

She claimed he told her things such as “I like having meetings with you because you’re pretty to look at,” called her “intoxicating,” etc.

“He would Facebook me at midnight, call me at midnight,” she said.

In April of last year, she claimed, Silverstein killed her bill because “He thought I had a boyfriend.” She claimed he revived the bill when he found out she didn’t have a boyfriend.

Rotheimer said she filed a complaint with the inspector general’s office, but was told to talk to Senate President John Cullerton’s office. From the Senate President’s office…

The Office of the Illinois Senate President was made aware of these accusations in late November 2016.

Senior staff met with Senator Silverstein to let him know such allegations are taken seriously and that this would be reported to the Legislative Inspector General’s Office, which it was.

…Adding… As rightly noted in comments, there is currently no Legislative Inspector General and hasn’t been for years. Under questioning today, Speaker Madigan pledged to get that slot filled soon. We’ll see.

Rotheimer said she approached her state Senator, Melinda Bush, to ask her for help, but nothing happened.

“I want him to answer for it and to know that it is wrong,” Rotheimer said of Silverstein. “It is unconscionable.”

* Rothheimer is running as a Republican in the 62nd House District, which is currently held by Democratic Rep. Sam Yingling. She wrote this on Facebook yesterday

I have been warned that by testifying tomorrow it could cause a political lash back on my campaign for office, but I replied, “politics neither serve as a motivation or deterrent for the choices I make when I know it’s the right thing to do.”

*** UPDATE 1 ***  Response…

*** UPDATE 2 ***  From Speaker Madigan’s press conference…

When asked about the allegations against Silverstein, Madigan said it was the first time he heard them.

“It does not sound good,” the speaker said. “I think it’s a matter that ought to be pursued, it ought to be investigated.”

*** UPDATE 3 *** Rothheimer played a recording of a voicemail from Silverstein. He says in the message, “You must be working on your six-pack”


Ives opposed bailout of running mate’s home town nuke plant

Tuesday, Oct 31, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Let’s go back to Brian Mackey’s interview of Rep. Jeanne Ives

Mackey: I wonder, though — that message, I’ve heard something similar from Gov. Rauner — about we need to be focusing on business and improve the business climate in Illinois. And I think some people might hear about your candidacy and say: We already have a Republican governor. How would you be different?

Ives: Well, you know Gov. Rauner has actually bought into some of the same policies that have hurt Illinois in the past. His energy bailout bill in December basically gave carve-outs and favored status to a company that is — had a $2.25 billion net profit. Who’s saying that’s going to help the average Illinoisan when you’re just going to raise the price for ratepayers to a favored company? That’s the type of stuff that needs to stop.

* This topic came up during an interview with her new running mate, former Rep. Rich Morthland

Morthland lives in Cordova, which also is the home of the Exelon nuclear plant.

One of Ives’ complaints about Rauner is that he signed a bill that overhauled the state’s energy policy and provided subsidies to two Exelon nuclear facilities — in the Quad-Cities and Clinton, Illinois.

The company, as well as Quad-City business leaders, pushed for the legislation, saying hundreds of jobs were at stake. But Ives called it a bailout financed by higher utility rates.

Morthland says he’s supported Exelon while on the county board. And while he said that he and Ives “haven’t completed our conversation about it,” he notes her opposition to the legislation and that she’s at the top of the ticket.


…Adding… Oppo…

In 2011, The General Assembly Overrode Governor Pat Quinn’s Veto Of Legislation – SB 1652 – To Grant ComEd Automatic Annual Electricity Rate Increases In Exchange For Upgrading Its Power Grid. “Lawmakers today overturned Gov. Pat Quinn’s veto of a bill that will allow the state’s two biggest utility companies to raise customers’ rates in exchange for investments in the state’s power grid. Under the plan, Ameren and Commonwealth Edison will be able to increase customers’ rates by 2.5 percent annually in exchange for $3.2 billion in spending on the grid over 10 years. The companies will add smart grid technologies that allow them to monitor transmission and respond quicker to outages. The measure would also require ComEd to create 2,000 new jobs through the plan and Ameren to create 450 jobs.” (Jamey Dunn, “Legislators Override Quinn’s Veto On Smart-Grid Bill,” Illinois Issues, 10/26/11)

Opponents, Including Conservative State Senator Kyle McCarter, Said The Automatic Rate Hikes Were A Giveaway To Utility Companies And Would Drive Business Out Of Illinois. “Opponents say the bill is just a way for the utilities to skirt the authority of the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC), which rules on proposed rate hikes. ‘I’m not sure smart grid’s really the issue here. It think the real issue is that this is a new way to recalculate rate hikes because Ameren and ComEd didn’t get the approval that they wanted from the ICC. Let’s be honest, that’s what this is about. If you put the name smart grid on it, it doesn’t make it any better,’ said Sen. Kyle McCarter, a Lebanon Republican. McCarter said that increased energy rates would drive business out of the Illinois. ‘One of the last good things we’ve got going in this state for businesses is affordable power. We’ve increased taxes on people, we’ve got high regulation. and we still have high workers’ compensation rates.’” (Jamey Dunn, “Legislators Override Quinn’s Veto On Smart-Grid Bill,” Illinois Issues, 10/26/11)

Morthland Voted To Override Quinn’s Veto And Pass S.B. 1652. (S.B. 1652, House Roll Call Vote, Passed 74-42, 10/26/11, Morthland Voted Yea)


State school report card released

Tuesday, Oct 31, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Tribune

About two-thirds of Illinois public high schools posted below-average to rock-bottom scores on the SAT college entrance exam, given for free for the first time to 11th-graders last spring at school, revealing that thousands of students are still struggling even as the state pushes kids to achieve at higher levels.

Average scores ranged from the low 740s to the high 1300s, reflecting wide disparities in performance at more than 700 high schools statewide, according to data released Tuesday as part of the state’s annual picture of public schools, called the Illinois Report Card.

Black and Hispanic teens fared worse on the exam compared with white and Asian peers, the data show. Some students attend classes in high-poverty neighborhoods, while others are educated in wealthy suburban enclaves and blue-collar and downstate rural areas.

Payton College Preparatory High School, a selective enrollment Chicago Public School, posted the highest SAT average in the state — a 1375. But in pockets of CPS, about two dozen schools posted the worst averages statewide, all under an 800 for math and for reading and writing combined.

The Illinois State Board of Education’s report card is a conglomeration of data ranging from state exam scores for high school and grade school students, to school finance, teacher attendance and evaluations, and enrollment and socioeconomic trends, among other measures made available to families and taxpayers.


AG Madigan issues Halloween warning

Tuesday, Oct 31, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I saw a bit of criticism of AG Madigan on social media and elsewhere for this, but the Tribune notes an important point

It’s Halloween, that day of the year when kids dress up as their favorite Marvel superhero, “Walking Dead” zombie or Disney princess and ring neighborhood doorbells begging for candy and threatening pranks if they don’t get any.

Against that backdrop of fun and tomfoolery comes Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan with a warning: check the state’s sex offender registry before you head out to trick or treat.

“The number of known sex offenders throughout Illinois is extremely alarming, and they do not live in any one neighborhood or community; they live in every part of our state,” Madigan said in a statement.

Lest you think that was a bit of alarmist hyperbole from the outgoing attorney general, her office included some stats: there are more than 30,200 registered sex offenders on the Illinois State Police’s list, and more than 24,700 of those committed a crime against a child.


Ives on the budget

Tuesday, Oct 31, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Illinois Public Radio’s Brian Mackey interviews Rep. Jeanne Ives

Mackey: Do you think it’s possible to balance the budget with the old tax rate — could we forego the current income tax rate? Is that something Illinois could do?

Ives: That’s a great, fantastic question. You know it takes decades — years — for people to really understand the Illinois budget, because it’s so convoluted. But I think that we didn’t try hard enough to make the cuts that need to be made first. That’s what I’m worried about. And I think we didn’t try hard enough to use for the reforms that we have to have.

And I’ll tell you what: I’ve said it before, but the reason you would raise taxes in the state of Illinois is because it’s immoral to hold the amount of debt that we have, and owe people that kind of money. That would be the only reason to do it. But you have to make those reforms, so we don’t get into this bad spending cycle again. And you know, I just don’t think that the conversation was lengthy enough and persistent enough to sell to the people that you cannot raise taxes without these reforms.

Editor’s note: We asked the Rauner campaign if it wanted to respond to Ives’ charge that the governor lied to supporters and taxpayers on public funding for abortions, the Trust Act, and school funding reform.

Spokesman Justin Giorgio emailed the following statement: “Gov. Rauner is focused on fighting for Illinois’ future and defeating Mike Madigan’s machine so Illinois can have property tax relief and term limits, and we can roll back the Madigan income tax hike.”


Open thread

Monday, Oct 30, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I’m out of the office for the rest of the afternoon. Please keep your discussion as Illinois-centric as possible (and, yes, while there is a tenuous local connection to today’s national developments, steer clear of it) and be nice to each other. Thanks.


GOP legislator blasts use of state funds for Obama library infrastructure

Monday, Oct 30, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* RFD Radio/WFMB

State Rep. Bill Mitchell, Forsyth, said he’s hearing House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton may seek a nine-figure sum during the just underway veto session to help get the [Obama Presidential Library on Chicago’s South Side] project off the ground.

“Never in our country’s history have we used state funds for a presidential library, but Madigan and Cullerton are trying to urge the governor to provide that $100 million that should go to roads,” Mitchell said.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum has been partially funded by the State of Illinois since it opened in 2006. […]

“I would urge people to call Governor Rauner’s office at 782-6830 and urge the governor to resist Madigan’s and Cullerton’s pressure to use our road money for the Obama library,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell has co-sponsored legislation seeking to prevent the state from spending $100 million on the library project. His co-sponsors are State Reps. David Reis, C.D. Davidsmeyer, Terri Bryant and Charles Meier.

I asked Madigan’s spokesman Steve Brown for comment. Brown said he would remind Rep. Mitchell “we are talking about a state infrastructure program and that Chicago is in Illinois. Perhaps that has slipped his mind.” Senate President Cullerton’s spokesman has not yet responded.


Almost 60 percent of seized Chicago guns came from out of state dealers

Monday, Oct 30, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* NBC 5

Nearly 60 percent of guns recovered in Chicago come from out-of-state dealers, with more than 20 percent traced back to Indiana, according to a newly-released report on the city’s violence.

The Chicago Police Department, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the University of Chicago Crime Lab unveiled Sunday the findings of their 2017 Gun Trace Report, a study that analyzed crimes between 2013 and 2016 to better understand where guns in Chicago come from, and to develop impactful solutions to address the root causes of the city’s violence. […]

Just 10 federally licensed firearms dealers (seven in Illinois and three in northwest Indiana) sold nearly a quarter of the guns recovered in Chicago, the research also showed. The top two locations – Chuck’s Gun Shop in Riverdale and Midwest Sporting Goods in Lyons – have been the source of a disproportionate number of weapons for the better part of a decade, according to the report, providing a combined 11.2 percent of all crime guns recovered in Chicago.

The rest of the top 10 sources included, in order: Westforth Sports in Gary, Indiana, Cabela’s in Hammond, Indiana, Shore Galleries in Lincolnwood, GAT Guns in East Dundee, Suburban Sporting Goods in Melrose Park, Pelcher’s Shooter Supply in Lansing, Blythe’s Sport Shop in Griffith, Indiana, and Sporting Arms & Supply in Posen.

* Sun-Times

The city’s second “Gun Trace Report,” set for release on Sunday, looks at guns recovered by CPD from 2013 through 2016 — where they came from, who bought them — and offers ways to put a dent in Chicago’s entrenched gun violence.

Out of approximately 27,500 weapons recovered during that period, the report focuses on 15,000 guns — all of which were initially bought legally at more than 5,000 federally licensed gun dealers in Illinois and other states, according to the report. […]

City leaders have long bemoaned the relatively lax gun laws in Indiana as a driver of gun violence in Chicago. Indiana does not require background checks when gun sales occur at gun shows or between private parties.

According to the new report, 21 percent of guns recovered in Chicago from 2013 through 2016 were initially purchased in Indiana. […]

To stem the tide of shootings, the report recommended Illinois General Assembly pass the Gun Dealer Licensing Act to help curb straw purchasing, impose anti-theft measures and help police in their gun trafficking investigations.

The senate bill was filed Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, in February and has attracted 18 co-sponsors. It passed the Senate in April. It has 30 sponsors in the Illinois House and has a final action deadline of Nov. 10.

* Tribune

Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson called on state lawmakers to approve legislation to more aggressively regulate gun dealers in Illinois, pointing to a newly released trove of data that shows many guns recovered by police in connection with crimes can be traced back to licensed gun stores in the Chicago area.

The call for legislative action came as Johnson and other advocates for stricter gun rules convened Sunday at police headquarters to highlight findings of a new report tracing so-called “crime guns” — firearms found at a shooting scene, in the possession of gang members or otherwise being used illegally — to their original point of sale.

The Tribune reported on the study, a collaboration among the mayor’s office, Chicago police and University of Chicago Crime Lab, in advance of its official release.

The report found that “roughly two out of every five of Chicago’s crime guns come into the city from Illinois source dealers, making Illinois the single largest source state for Chicago’s illegal guns.”

The report also found that nearly one-fourth of guns recovered at crime scenes over a recent four-year period came from just 10 Chicago-area businesses.

* From the report

Both three-year and one-year “time to crime” analyses were conducted for crime guns traced back to the top ten source dealers. A firearm’s “time to crime” refers to the amount of time that lapsed between the initial retail sale and the subsequent recovery of that firearm by law enforcement. A shorter time to crime serves as an indicator than illegal trafficking or transfer activity took place before the firearm came into the hands of law enforcement. In addition to the time to crime, law enforcement also look to other factors that indicate a firearm has been illegally trafficked, such as whether the firearm was originally purchased by someone other than the illegal possessor, originally purchased in another state, originally purchased among multiple firearms by the same purchaser, reported lost or stolen, or has an altered or defaced serial number. The more of these factors present, the greater the likelihood that the crime gun involved a straw purchase or other illegal sale before it was seized by police. […]

Notably, Suburban Sporting Goods had both the highest three-year and one-year time to crime of any top ten FFL, with almost half of its Chicago crime guns having been recovered within one year of initial sale.

Midwest Sporting Goods continued to surpass Chuck’s Gun Shop in short time to crime recoveries. Following the previous release of Chicago Police firearm trace data, in late October of 2015 the Village of Lyons passed an ordinance to regulate gun dealers within its jurisdiction, which includes Midwest Sporting Goods. From 2015 to 2016, Midwest Sporting Goods’ shortest time to crime gun recoveries – those of less than one year from point of sale to recovery in a crime – dropped by almost 10 percentage points. While more time and analysis are needed to evaluate the impact of the new ordinance in Lyons, the early results are promising.

* Related…

* Melrose Park shop jumps to a leading seller of ‘crime guns’ in Chicago area

* New FBI chief says he’s already losing sleep over Chicago violence


Caption contest!

Monday, Oct 30, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* A photo posted on Facebook by Consul General of the State of Israel to the Midwest Aviv Ezra

Keep it clean, people.


Question of the day

Monday, Oct 30, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* AP

Illinois has received nearly 4,500 responses to its public survey asking about highway rest areas in less than two weeks.

The Illinois Department of Transportation launched the public survey to get feedback because the agency is considering how to rehab or possibly close some of those rest areas, the Chicago Tribune reported.

“Many of our rest areas have reached a point where it’s time to evaluate their future,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn said. […]

Illinois Department of Transportation spokeswoman Kelsea Gurski said many of the state’s 30 public rest areas and 11 welcome centers are 30 to 40 years old. […]

“As they reach the end of their useful life, we want to know how best to meet the needs of the traveling public — what features are valued by the public,” Gurski said.

* Mark Brown says he smells a “rat”

An educated guess, given the preferences of our current governor, is that it also could involve privatizing them in some way to open them up to commercial businesses to reduce the cost to the state.

Try as I might, I couldn’t get IDOT spokesman Guy Tridgell to actually verbalize any of those possibilities.

Instead, he stressed that no decisions have been made.

“At this point, nothing’s being ruled out,” Tridgell said.

Fair enough.

Then maybe there’s still time to register my opinion that Illinois could use more rest areas, not fewer, especially one on the edge of the metropolitan area along I-55 before motorists get caught in Chicago traffic.

Lots of rest areas are maintained by groups that employ developmentally disabled adults.

* The Question: Should Illinois’ rest areas be privatized? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.

online surveys


Rauner in Israel

Monday, Oct 30, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Greg Hinz

Gov. Bruce Rauner is off to Israel, accompanied by University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen and other academics on a trip designed to boost trade and particularly high-end research investment with the Jewish state.

According to Rauner’s office, the trip will begin this Sunday, Oct. 29 and last until Nov. 3. Officials from the Rauner administration and university are to promote the new Illinois Innovation Network on the Near South Side meet with leaders of the Israeli Innovation Authority and other entrepreneurial organizations, and formalize partnership with Ben Gurion University and other research schools.

A chat with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also is on the agenda. If conversation lags, perhaps the governor and prime minister can talk about Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has fought with Rauner on any number of matters and who clashed with Netanyahu back in the days when the mayor was a policy aide to then-President Bill Clinton.

More seriously, “We believe in connecting the dots between the state of Israel and the state of Illinois,” said Aviv Ezra, the Israeli counsel general for the Midwest, who is based in Chicago. “The best way to do that is to create a win-win environment.”

At a minimum, Ezra said he expects some memoranda of understanding to be signed on the trip, with at least some discussion of Israeli investment here.

* Hey, what do you know, it’s Scott Walker…

* He got his MOU…

But it took him five tries to get the tweet right…

Must be jet lag.

* He also met the prime minister…

Did you realize that Israel is about to start exporting marijuana? I kid you not.

Also, I’m told that former Rauner chief of staff Richard Goldberg is in Israel as well. No pics of the two of them together yet, though.


Quigley endorses Pritzker

Monday, Oct 30, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

Today, Congressman Mike Quigley endorsed JB Pritzker for governor at an event in Chicago. This marks JB’s third congressional endorsement after Congressman Luis Gutierrez and Congresswoman Cheri Bustos endorsed the campaign.

“Mike Quigley is one of our state and nation’s most respected congressman,” said JB Pritzker. “At every turn, he stands up for civil rights, immigrant rights, women’s rights and LGBTQ rights as President Trump tries to take them away. But while Mike Quigley is in Washington taking on Donald Trump and making his voice heard, we have a governor in Illinois who remains silent as Trump attacks our people. With Mike by my side, I’m confident that we can take down Donald Trump’s partner in Illinois, and get our state back on track.”

“JB Pritzker has the values we need in the governor’s office, the experience to turn this state around, and the track record to prove to me that he will do it,” said Congressman Mike Quigley. “When one branch of our government fails, others need to step up and protect us, promote our economic interests, and preserve the gains we have made as a society. But Bruce Rauner has been an absolute failure when it comes to this momentous responsibility. Democrats in Illinois have a special responsibility to the people of Illinois to put forward a candidate who will not only defeat Rauner, but restore Illinois. That person is JB Pritzker.”


The Daily Herald’s unsolicited advice

Monday, Oct 30, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The Daily Herald editorial board offers reelection campaign advice to Gov. Rauner

In offering it, we recognize that the governor is not apt to take our advice. His first term suggests that he generally doesn’t listen to advice from anyone.

And that, Mr. Rauner, seems to be one of your fundamental problems — figuring out how to work with people and keeping in mind that a big part of that is listening to their problems and ideas, building consensus and trying to build win-win solutions rather than dictating winner-take-all confrontations where someone has to lose.

This is especially important when you face an opposition party that has overwhelming control of the Illinois legislature and the someone who is most apt to lose is you!

Somehow, you didn’t recognize that obvious truth during your first term, leaving even those of us who endorsed you, sympathize with you and pull for you perplexed by your apparent naiveté.

Where has this man-in-the-tower approach gotten you, Governor? A state in stagnation. A tax increase you didn’t want. A mass exodus of frustrated legislators. […]

It’s not enough, Governor, for you to tell us again that Springfield needs to be reformed. We’re with you on that and most of the state is, too.

But unless you can show us how you’re going to effect that change, it’s just empty talk. Illinois needs action, not recycled rhetoric. What will you do, Mr. Rauner, to produce it?



Two takes on Rauner’s new TV ad

Monday, Oct 30, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Chuck Sweeny isn’t a fan of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s new TV ad that features Republican governors claiming Speaker Madigan’s policies have been a boon for their states

The ad assumes Jack and Jill Voter know all there is to know about Mike Madigan, who has never been on a statewide ballot and doesn’t travel around the state making speeches. The ad also assumes that if voters know of Madigan, most don’t like him and blame him for every one of Illinois’ fiscal irregularities since the state nearly went bankrupt in the 1840s because it spent too much money building the Illinois & Michigan Canal.

It’s quite a reach to expect people to know all that.

Here’s one more reason the ad could backfire: It invites the neighbors to intrude into our family argument and lord their alleged superiority over us.

People hate that. This is our fight, so let us fight it. Butt out, Scott, Eric and Eric.

The ad also fails because it smacks in the mouth Illinois business owners who are loyal to the state, saying in effect, “Boy, are you a dummy for staying in that state.”

People know who Madigan is and they don’t like him - and they don’t like what they believe he has done to their state. The “this is our fight” argument is a good one, but a year ago a poll found that almost half of Illinoisans want to leave their state.

* Finke

The legislature is taking a week off before returning to finish the veto session.

Rauner plans to put that time to good use by leading a delegation to Israel to “explore opportunities for expanded business and research ties” that are linked to technological innovation. A number of top officials from the University of Illinois are also part of the delegation.

Obviously, everyone hopes the trip will be a success. But just to be safe, maybe Rauner can bring along copies of his new campaign ad to show all of the wondrous opportunities right next to Illinois, in case this state isn’t good enough.



RAGA ridicules potential Quinn candidacy

Monday, Oct 30, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I’ve already told subscribers what I think of this, so let’s do a roundup starting with RAGA…

Pat, are you serious?

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rejected by Illinoisans in 2014, former Governor Pat Quinn is back, and he is running for Illinois Attorney General.

Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) Executive Director Scott Will issued the following statement:

“Haha! Seriously, I thought I was reading the Onion when I saw Pat Quinn announce for attorney general. Under Quinn’s leadership Illinois government spending and budget deficits exploded, leaving taxpayers on the hook. Remember, after Blagojevich went to jail, Quinn allowed the corruption in Springfield and state government to continue, leaving appointees in place - some even received promotions.

“Quinn should be a uniting force for the current Democratic field. It’ll be a good test to see if Drury, Fairley, Goldstein, Raoul, Rotering, Ruiz, and Mariotti, not only denounce the corrupt Madigan machine, but also acknowledge the mess Quinn left behind.”

* Tribune

“He’s a fighter who never gives up,” [David Vaught, Quinn’s former budget director] said. “He hasn’t won every election, but he’s had the guts to run and I’m sure there is a little buyer’s remorse out there.” […]

At the same time, a Quinn candidacy could help rejuvenate Republicans who have seen their ranks divided following Rauner’s signature on legislation expanding taxpayer-subsidized abortions.

Rauner controls the Illinois Republican Party, which is solidly behind Erika Harold, the Urbana attorney whose winnings in the 2003 Miss America pageant paid for her tuition at Harvard Law School. Harold would face Quinn in the fall if both were to emerge from the March primary election.

Beyond the attorney general’s race, a Quinn candidacy would allow Rauner and the GOP to attempt to tarnish Democrats in general by reusing much of the material from 2014. That includes a flier linking Quinn, his imprisoned predecessor former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan as “corrupt career politicians destroying Illinois.”

* Sun-Times

Quinn claims the statewide phone poll of 1,047 likely Democratic voters conducted this month by Public Policy Polling shows him leading six contenders vying to become the state’s top legal eagle, netting him an overall lead with 28 percent of the vote. […]

He also claims he led among all racial groups, with Raoul coming in with 23 percent to Quinn’s 25 percent among African-Americans. For Hispanic voters polled, Ruiz came in with 31 percent to Quinn’s 32 percent.

“Amongst white voters, I led with 30 percent” said Quinn.

“The state needs an attorney general who can get laws passed and do what we did with CUB (Citizens Utility Board) . . . ” referring to the consumer advocacy group, which Quinn created.

“It’s time to make the will of the people the law of the land.” he added.


New legislation would require social media disclosure

Monday, Oct 30, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The synopsis of SB2251, sponsored by Sens. Ira Silverstein and Andy Manar

Amends the Election Code. Provides that the disclosure requirements for political communications shall also apply to any political committee, organized under the Code, making a political communication utilizing any social media platform.

* Silverstein press release

Political ads on social media platforms would be regulated to disclose their sources and funders if a new measure sponsored by Senator Ira I. Silverstein (D-Chicago) becomes law.

Senate Bill 2251 was filed this week and would extend the same requirements for disclosure regarding print, TV and radio advertising to social media political ads.

“Social media is immediate and far-reaching,” Silverstein said. “Just because it is new media doesn’t mean it shouldn’t fall under the same requirements for existing media in terms of disclosing who funded, prepared and distributed the material. Voters deserve to know what organizations are behind all political ads.”

Attention to online political ads has grown in recent months after Facebook admitted that accounts connected to Russia purchased politically contentious ads ahead of the 2016 presidential election. An estimated $100,000 purchase targeted audiences in swing states with no disclosure about the sources of those ads.

“A recent Facebook ad falsely attacked an Illinois Senate colleague with no clear means of pursuing the source,” Silverstein said. “The laws must apply to online ads as they do everywhere else to keep our elections fair.”

Senate Bill 2251 awaits assignment to a Senate committee before moving to the full chamber for consideration.

* Bernie

A dispute that broke out on Facebook in recent weeks involving the Christian County GOP and state Sen. ANDY MANAR, D-Bunker Hill, has helped lead to some new proposed state legislation.

State Sen. IRA SILVERSTEIN, D-Chicago, said Senate Bill 2251, introduced last week with Manar as a co-sponsor, would require the same kind of disclosure for advertisements on social media sites as are now required for television, radio or newspaper ads if a political committee pays and names a candidate. […]

The proposed new state law would add “any social media platform” to categories such as pamphlets, radio, TV or print ads that require disclosure. That law already includes “Internet … communication,” but Silverstein and Manar want to make sure social media is covered.

“We always welcome any kind of clarification from the legislature,” said TOM NEWMAN, director of campaign disclosure at the State Board of Elections. “It might be covered under the existing statute, but if they want to make sure it’s covered, we’re all for that.”

* One issue I’ve been noticing online is that fundraising appeals aren’t including this state mandated language

10 ILCS 5/9-9) (from Ch. 46, par. 9-9)
Sec. 9-9. Any political committee shall include on all literature and advertisements soliciting funds the following notice:
“A copy of our report filed with the State Board of Elections is (or will be) available on the Board’s official website (insert the current website address) or for purchase from the State Board of Elections, Springfield, Illinois.”


No attempt to override veto of $15 minimum wage

Monday, Oct 30, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* No surprise

The principal sponsor of a bill to gradually raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour said the votes weren’t there to attempt an override of Gov Bruce Rauner’s veto of the bill.

Instead, Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, said she’ll continue to negotiate to find a compromise that will have the support of enough lawmakers to overcome a gubernatorial veto.

The first week of the veto session passed without an attempt to override Rauner’s veto of Senate Bill 81 that would have gradually increased the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by January, 2022. Illinois’ minimum wage currently is $8.25 an hour, a rate that’s been in effect since 2010. The federal minimum wage is set at $7.25 an hour. About 2.3 million Illinois workers make the minimum wage.

“I don’t believe we have the votes to override the governor,” Lightford said of her decision not to call the bill for a vote. “It’s difficult garnering a super majority. I’m hoping we can reintroduce a bill that can garner the votes that we need.”

The bill passed the General Assembly in late May, just before the legislature’s scheduled adjournment. However, it got only 61 votes in the House and the minimum 30 in the Senate to pass. Both totals were far short of what is needed to override a veto.

The Democratic leadership plays more games with its base on this topic than on anything else except maybe a graduated income tax.


“That’s not too much to ask”

Monday, Oct 30, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

I don’t think I’ve ever seen House Speaker Michael Madigan move faster to get in front of a legislative issue than he did last week when he vowed action to address the climate of sexual harassment at the Illinois Statehouse.

The decision came the morning after an “open letter” was published on Facebook by women who work in and around the Statehouse and who claimed: “Misogyny is alive and well in this industry.” The letter has roiled Springfield in a manner that I’ve never seen before.

In case you somehow missed it, the House Speaker claimed that because harassment “thrives in silence,” the House would move forward with legislation requiring legislators, staff and lobbyists to participate in annual sexual-harassment training. Lobbyists would also be required to develop and submit their own sexual harassment policies to the state. Madigan said more changes could be coming after a “thorough review.” I’m told that review will be conducted by a group of legislators, staff and lobbyists.

It’s easy to be cynical here and say that Madigan moved so quickly in order to make sure more stories don’t emerge — perhaps with actual names attached to them next time.

But, really, even if that is the case, so what? After just a couple of days of public agitation by current and former elected officials, lobbyists, staff and consultants, we now have a proposal that all four legislative leaders have signed off on and which will zoom to the governor’s desk as quickly as they can get it there.

It’s also easy to predict that Madigan’s proposal won’t really solve anything. But the excuse often heard is “I didn’t know my behavior was wrong or inappropriate.” At the very least, the annual training will take away that excuse, whether it’s legitimate or not. Once the rules are defined and digested, then more concrete steps can be taken. This problem won’t be solved with a bill alone. But it’s clear that something had to be done.

Depending how they’re drafted, the rules may also ease the minds of some in the community that their past consensual behavior is going to come back to haunt them. There is, without a doubt, a “hook-up culture” in Springfield. Humans being humans, I’m not sure that it can or even should be stopped. But the problem isn’t sex. The problem, as made clear in the open letter, is the creepy stuff.

Is this just a political ploy by Madigan to jump in front of a parade? In some respects, yes. It’s not like he consulted with the other leaders before deciding on his course of action or allowed women to take the public lead on the issue. But, as flawed as it may be, that’s just Madigan’s usual mode of operation. When he gets an idea in his head, he goes with it. And he has a unique ability to make things happen.

I’ve heard several complaints, including from more than a few women, about the methods of the folks behind the letter about sexual harassment that circulated last week. For instance, a whole lot of people, including reporters, are now wondering who that unnamed “chamber leader” is who allegedly propositioned a female staffer by claiming to have an open marriage. There’s worry that this will just devolve into yet another hyper-partisan, gotcha exercise of finger-pointing and anonymous recriminations.

But the letter is having an impact with or without the new rules. Some women told me last week that they’d shaken more hands with men than ever before (instead of the usual hugs). This uproar is causing pretty much all of us to think about what we’ve done, what we could’ve done better and what we should be doing in the future. That’s not a horrible thing. It’ll take some time to work itself out, but at least it’s being addressed.

There’s simply no telling at this point where all this will lead. But almost every woman has a horror story about Statehouse life. They’ve dealt with it over the years in various ways — staying silent, setting their own boundaries, privately consulting with other women about whom to avoid, asking others to discreetly intervene. It can be utterly exhausting.

I think what the women behind this letter are demanding now is that the boundaries should no longer be set by each individual. They should be clear, universal and fair.

That’s not too much to ask.

* Related…

* Rauner ‘deeply troubled’ by accounts of sexual harassment in Springfield: “We’ve seen that 75 percent of complaints in the workplace for sexual harassment receive retaliation, so there needs to be some protections in place so there are no retaliations for women who do choose to come forward,” said Michelle Fadeley, president of Illinois NOW.

* Male Democratic Gubernatorial Lineup Addresses Women’s Issues At Forum: State Sen Daniel Biss, who has been in the legislature since 2011, said he can’t believe some of the conduct he personally has seen at the capitol — seeing women ignored, silenced and harassed. And Biss looked inward. “I think we all need to tell the truth and say that we’ve not done enough,” he declared. “I have not done enough.”

* Greg Hinz: Why is sexual harassment rampant in Springfield?

* Suburban lawmakers join ‘me too’ movement in legislature


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