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Question of the day

Thursday, Nov 30, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

Bob Daiber, Madison County Regional Superintendent of Schools, officially filed his candidacy for Governor on Thursday. Daiber and his running mate Jonathan Todd filed over 9,500 signatures with the Illinois State Board of Elections. Daiber stated that they exceeded the required threshold of 5,000 signatures to ensure a spot on the March 20th Democratic primary ballot.

“Jonathan Todd and I would like to thank the volunteers across Illinois who have joined in this grassroots campaign to make our candidacy possible. The effort has been incredible,” stated Daiber.

Daiber is the only candidate outside of Cook County who has filed and the first Democrat from Southern Illinois to file for governor in twenty years.

* The Question: Do you think Daiber stays in the race to the end? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.

survey tool


NARAL buys a little cable time to blast Lipinski

Thursday, Nov 30, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* This is a $9,345 cable buy. Not much, but it’s enough to convince Roll Call to write a story

NARAL Pro-Choice America is launching a five-figure TV buy attacking Illinois Democrat Dan Lipinski on Thursday.

The ad, shared first with Roll Call, hits the congressman for voting against the 2010 health care law, opposing abortion rights and background check and same-sex marriage legislation. It will run on cable TV in his 3rd District for a week.

Lipinski is facing a primary challenge from marketing consultant Marie Newman, who secured the backing of NARAL,, Democracy for America, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Human Rights Campaign on Tuesday. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s leadership PAC endorsed Newman earlier this month.

“Dan Lipinski is way out of step with his constituents and with Democratic party principles when it comes to women’s rights, LGBT equality, and the basic freedoms that Americans hold dear,” Mitchell Stille, NARAL’s National Campaign Director, said in a statement.

* The ad

In contrast, Dan Proft’s Liberty Principles PAC just bought its second week of $70,000+ in cable ads against House GOP Leader Jim Durkin. JB Pritzker’s latest cable buy was $55,605.


A tale of two campuses

Thursday, Nov 30, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* SIU-Edwardsville’s student population has grown 27 percent since 1996. What’s happening there?

SIUE officials attribute the enrollment growth to the evolving campus and community.

“SIUE’s consistent and steady growth over the past 20 years can be attributed to the ever-evolving nature of this campus and the Edwardsville/Glen Carbon area,” said Association Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Scott Belobrajdic.

He highlighted past construction of residential halls, the addition of the School of Pharmacy, expansion of the School of Engineering and the move to NCAA Division I athletics as points that bolstered enrollment.

“Beginning in the mid-’90s we began the transition to a primarily residential campus,” he said. […]

“In 1996 the mean ACT for an incoming class of 1,191 was 20.9. Fall of 2014 brought a record of 2,126 new freshmen to campus with an average ACT of 23.5,” he said.

Adding and expanding reputable programs most certainly helped not only grow the student population, but attract more qualified students. And Edwardsville itself is a lot different than the backwater it was 20-some years ago. It’s now the jewel of the Metro East. The city and the university worked with each other, fed off each other and grew together. (It’s probably no coincidence that Edwardsville’s highly successful mayor of 20 years also ran the local YMCA and grew both while stressing quality. When the now-retired mayor took over the local YMCA, it had less than a thousand members. Now, as he is about to retire from that job, it has 19,200 members - three quarters of the town’s population.)

* Anyway, SIU-Carbondale? Not so great. Enrollment has dropped, the town has struggled and now we have yet another grand scheme from the campus’ tenth chancellor in twenty years - twice the turnover rate as SIUE.

The Illinois Policy Institute approves..

Southern Illinois University, Carbondale Chancellor Carlo Montemagno has unveiled a plan to restructure the university’s academic programs. A core feature of the chancellor’s proposed plan underscores the need to minimize administrative costs and sharpen the university’s focus on teaching and curricula.

The plan calls for the elimination of SIU’s current department-based structure to be replaced by a system of colleges and schools within the university, thereby cutting down on administrative bloat.

Addressing the university’s fiscal priorities in a video posted on the university’s website, Montemagno said, “We are spending too much time and money on administration and not enough time on teaching and research.” […]

Full-time equivalent administrator positions at Illinois public universities increased by 26 percent from 2005 to 2015, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics. But full-time equivalent fall student enrollment dropped by almost 3 percent over that time. Further, teaching- and classroom-related functions, including instruction, research and public service full-time equivalent positions, increased by only 2 percent.

If it saves significant money and doesn’t disrupt education, then go for it. But the university has to start thinking about way more than cutting bureaucratic jobs (which will, unfortunately, exacerbate the city of Carbondale’s problems). It needs stability and growth. A state of near-constant flux has not helped that place.

Kids want to go to schools where they can have some fun, and money is definitely an issue, but they really want to get a degree that’s respected in their chosen fields.


*** UPDATED x2 - Frerichs, Pritzker respond *** Lawsuit filed to block HB40 implementation

Thursday, Nov 30, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

Today, the Thomas More Society filed a taxpayer lawsuit against State of Illinois officials in a counterattack against House Bill 40, which requires public funding of tens of thousands of elective abortions. The taxpayer lawsuit, filed in the Sangamon County Circuit Court, is brought on behalf of hundreds of thousands of Illinois taxpayers, represented by county and statewide pro-life organizations, the Springfield Catholic Diocese, and a group of Illinois legislators from across the state.

“The people of Illinois totally reject taxpayer-funded abortions,” stated Thomas More Society Special Counsel Peter Breen, who drafted the lawsuit. “Under HB 40, Illinoisans will be forced to pay for 20,000 to 30,000 abortions per year with their tax dollars. Even apart from the sincere moral objections that many folks have to paying for abortions, there is no money in this year’s Illinois state budget to pay for them. And, because of games played by Senate Democrats, in holding HB 40 until late September, after the May 31 cutoff for legislative action, this bill can’t be effective until June 1, not January 1.” Breen also serves as state representative for Illinois’ 48th District.

The complaint levels two challenges against HB 40. First, the General Assembly has not set aside funds to pay for HB 40’s tens of thousands of elective abortions, and there’s no money available to pay for those abortions and still be within the Balanced Budget requirements of the Illinois Constitution. Second, despite efforts to make HB 40 effective January 1, 2018, it cannot come into effect until June 1, because it did not pass out of the Senate until September 25, 2017. The Illinois Constitution imposes a May 31 cut-off date for General Assembly action for bills to go into effect faster.

If implemented, despite its illegality, HB 40 would force every Illinoisan to pay for free abortions for those on Medicaid and state employee health insurance. This would apply through the full nine months of pregnancy and for any reason, even when the latest scientific research has shown that the unborn child can feel pain and survive outside the womb.

There is no cap on the number of abortions that could be covered under Medicaid and no cap on the amount of taxpayer dollars spent on these procedures. Based on recent figures from the Department of Healthcare and Family Services showing a cost of up to $1000 per Medicaid abortion, state government spending on abortions could range anywhere from $15 million to $30 million.

The State of Illinois is unique in having a tradition of allowing taxpayer lawsuits, which are brought by private individuals to protect the public treasury. Illinois law requires such a suit to be brought by a petition for leave to file a complaint. The petition in this case has been set for hearing before Associate Judge Brian T. Otwell, on Thursday, December 7, at 10:30 a.m., at the Sangamon County Courthouse.

“Regardless of your feelings about abortion, it is incredibly fiscally irresponsible to enact a law designed to spend millions of dollars that Illinois does not have,” said Breen. “The state legislative process has steps that must be correctly followed in order to prevent budget-busting laws like this from being ramrodded through. It is part of our civic process of checks and balances.”

The Illinois legislators bringing the lawsuit include:

    ● Representative Barbara Wheeler, District 64
    ● Representative Mark Batinick, District 97
    ● Representative Steve Reick, District 63
    ● Representative Keith Wheeler, District 50
    ● Senator Dale Fowler, District 59
    ● Senator Kyle McCarter, District 54
    ● Senator Dan McConchie, District 26
    ● Senator Paul Schimpf, District 58

The pro-life groups listed on the complaint include:

    ● Pro-Life Action League, Inc.
    ● Springfield Right to Life
    ● Clinton County Citizens For Life
    ● Henry County Right to Life, Inc.
    ● Knox County Right to Life, NFP
    ● Lake County Right to Life Committee, Inc.
    ● Morgan County Right to Life, Inc., NFP
    ● Pro-Life Action League, Inc.
    ● Illinois Right to Life Action
    ● Illinois Federation for Right to Life

The above listed legislators and groups are joined in this action by:

    ● Diocese of Springfield In Illinois

Read the Petition for Leave to File a Taxpayer Action to Restrain and Enjoin the Disbursement of Public Funds and the Taxpayer Complaint to Restrain and Enjoin the Disbursement of Public Funds here.

Seems like a long shot at best, but you never know with the courts.

*** UPDATE 1 *** Pritzker campaign…

“Reproductive rights are once again under attack by Illinois Republicans, and we must continue fighting these archaic attempts to restrict a woman’s right to choose,” said JB Pritzker. “Whether it’s a new lawsuit filed today or legislation filed a month ago, the GOP is committed to rolling back the clock on women’s rights. As governor, I will be a champion for women’s rights, and I will always fight to expand and protect reproductive rights in Illinois.”

*** UPDATE 2 *** Treasurer Mike Frerichs…

“My office has not yet been served in this lawsuit. But, perhaps before coming to me, the anti-choice groups and Republican representatives bringing this suit should first have a conversation with the Office of Governor Bruce Rauner, who signed HB40 into law.”

…Adding… Jesse Ruiz…

Passing HB 40 was an important milestone in the protection of a woman’s right to choose. Now a far-right-wing organization wants to undo the progress made by the Illinois General Assembly and throw out this vital law. They must be stopped.

This lawsuit demonstrates how critical it is that we elect an Attorney General who will fight for a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices. As your Attorney General, I will be a champion for women’s rights, including the right to access contraception and safe, legal abortion.

I know that Attorney General Madigan will stand up strongly to this wrongheaded lawsuit, and I feel confident that our courts will overturn this extreme attempt to endanger women’s health in Illinois.


*** UPDATED x1 - Rauner campaign blames Madigan *** National Review calls Rauner “worst Republican governor in America”

Thursday, Nov 30, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Check out the cover. Whew

* From the story

Bruce Rauner’s Illinois breakdown

When Governor Bruce Rauner of Illinois announced in October that he would seek reelection in 2018, he released a two-minute campaign video. It shows the Republican wearing blue jeans and a black leather vest as he rides his Harley-Davidson motorcycle from Chicago to Springfield, the state capital. “Four years ago,” he says in a voiceover, “I crisscrossed our state, looked people in the eye, and promised to fight business as usual.”

This boast came about a month after Cardinal Blase Cupich accused him of breaking his word and the Chicago Sun-Times put his picture on its front page, below a headline that shouted: “Benedict Rauner.” The governor’s offense was to have signed what may be America’s most radical abortion-funding law after vowing to veto it. The betrayal capped a season of defeats for conservatives, including an income-tax hike, a big bailout of Chicago’s public schools, and turning Illinois into what critics of illegal immigration are calling a “sanctuary state.”

Now Rauner, 60, confronts a problem that few would have predicted as recently as last spring: a possible Republican meltdown in the Land of Lincoln. In next year’s GOP primary, he’ll face a scrappy challenge from a credible conservative opponent. Jeanne Ives is a graduate of West Point, a mom, and a wonky state representative from Wheaton, Ill. “Somebody needs to stand up for Republicans and conservatives,” she says. “We can do a lot better than Bruce Rauner.”

This much is clear: Illinois hardly could do worse. It suffers from one of the weakest economies in the nation, with the slowest personal-income growth, low labor-force participation, and distressing levels of manufacturing-job losses. Its tax burden is among the heaviest in the country. It has the lowest credit rating of any state (just a notch above junk-bond status) and the highest level of unfunded pension liabilities (about $250 billion, according to Moody’s). Four of its last ten governors have wound up in prison. “Illinois is worth fighting for,” says Rauner in his new campaign ad — but many of its citizens have chosen to flee. The state has lost population every year since 2014

…Adding… DGA…

“Democrats and Republicans have finally found something they agree on – Bruce Rauner is the worst,” said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “Rauner cannot even count on the support of his own party in Illinois and conservative leaders have concluded that Illinois is worse off with him at the helm. Under Rauner, the state endured a two-year budget impasse that drove up debt, drove out jobs and people, and devastated the state’s services. The facts are undeniable – Bruce Rauner has failed.”

*** UPDATE *** Sun-Times

Although there are only two references to Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan in the story — one calling him “perhaps the most powerful state lawmaker in the country” — Rauner’s campaign chose to focus on the speaker in reacting to the story.

“We’re glad National Review pointed out that Mike Madigan and his cronies have consistently blocked Governor Rauner’s reform agenda just to protect their own corrupt practices,” campaign spokesman Justin Giorgio said. “Governor Rauner will keep fighting to make a Illinois a better place to live and work for everyone by working to lower property taxes, increasing school choice, and eliminating job-killing regulations.”


Republicans say Democrats are “crying wolf” over “puppet” label

Thursday, Nov 30, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From the ILGOP…

Hi Rich,

I wanted to follow up on yesterday’s post about the governor’s comments concerning Susana Mendoza. The Democrats feigned outrage on this issue is absolutely stunning. It’s ridiculous that the Democrats are crying wolf over words that they use on a regular basis. Where was the outrage when:

    ** Susana Mendoza called Leslie Munger “a lapdog to Rauner” **

    Roberta Lynch called legislators AFSCME Council 31 are opposed to (which I assume includes female Republican legislators) “Rauner puppets”

    SEIU called Christine Winger, Avery Bourne, Sara Wojcicki Jimenez, and Terri Bryant “Rauner puppets” in an 8-20-16 Facebook post (photo attached)

    Macoupin County Democrats said Avery Bourne should cut her “puppet strings to Rauner”

    Tony DelGiorno called Sara Wojcicki Jimenez a “puppet” for Rauner

    Sangamon County Democrats also called Jimenez “Rauner’s hand picked puppet” in a 10-18-16 Facebook post (photo attached)

    Springfield’s Laborers Local 477 also called Jimenez a “puppet” in a 3-10-16 Facebook post (photo attached)

    Mike Madigan’s DPI sent mailers against Avery Bourne and other female Republican lawmakers featuring Governor Rauner pouring them a glass of champagne, among other poses, last year (photos attached)

I could go on and on, but you get my point. Let’s assume for a second that the Democrats will apply their standard for acceptable political rhetoric to themselves.

Does Kelly Cassidy think SEIU’s comments toward Winger, Bourne, Jimenez, and Bryant were sexist? Does Christian Mitchell think Susana Mendoza is sexist since she called Munger “a lapdog”? Does Carol Ammons think Madigan’s mailers against Bourne and other female GOP lawmakers were sexist?

Hypocrisy is a word that comes to mind. If the Democrats think this sort of rhetoric is unacceptable, maybe they should practice what they preach.



Aaron P. DeGroot
Illinois Republican Party

* Attachments…

* DPI Bourne mailer 1

* DPI Bourne mailer 2

* Sangamon Dem FB post

* SEIU Facebook post

* Laborers FB post

…Adding… From Rep. Christian Mitchell…

Did I miss the portion of Mr. DeGroot’s reply where he addressed the monochromatic nature of Mr. Rauner’s cabinet or senior staff at GTCR?


Pritzker campaign accuses Gov. Rauner of “brazen lying”

Thursday, Nov 30, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From yesterday’s appearance by Gov. Bruce Rauner on WJPF Radio

I put out a balanced budget proposal, they overrode, uh, ignored it, passed an unbalanced budget, I vetoed it, they overrode me.

* Pritzker campaign…

Bruce Rauner can’t stop lying about the fact that he never presented a balanced budget. On WJPF yesterday, Rauner once again claimed his budget was balanced, but Politifact debunked that claim in March, rating it ‘pants on fire’ and saying the claim “doesn’t come close to adding up.”

That’s not the only lie Rauner keeps repeating. Rauner was caught lying about his grandparents being immigrants on September 5 and was caught lying again on October 24 and November 13 despite another Politifact ‘pants on fire’ rating.

“For three years, Bruce Rauner failed to complete his basic responsibilities to govern this state and now he’s set on pretending none of that ever happened,” said Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh. “No amount of brazen lying will hide the truth: Bruce Rauner is a failed governor who never produced a balanced budget and did irrevocable damage to this state.”


*** UPDATED x1 - Rauner weighs in *** Rauner spokesperson clarifies congressional tax bill stance

Thursday, Nov 30, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* DGA…

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Governor Bruce Rauner is “applauding” Congressional Republicans’ efforts to pass a tax plan, which will raise middle-class taxes while cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans. Rauner said, “I hope they come through” in an interview with Tom Miller on WJPF radio. The Sun-Times reported that “moments later” the Illinois Republican Party, largely funded by Rauner, took to Twitter to defend the plan.

Numerous independent analyses, including by the Congressional Budget Office, have found that the GOP bill would raise taxes on middle- and lower-class households in order to cut taxes for the wealthiest. The latest analysis of the Senate bill shows:

    By 2027, a majority of Americans earning less than $75,000 would pay more in taxes;

    By 2027, 60% of middle-class American earners would face a tax increase;

    Nearly all of the top 0.1% of earners would receive an average $208,060 tax cut;

    Health care provisions in the bill would force up health care premiums on Illinois residents buying their own insurance. By 2027, a 27-year old would pay $745 more in premiums, and a 60-year old $1,928 more.

Costs are going to go up for middle-class Illinoisans, and Rauner’s “applauding” the effort.

“Bruce Rauner’s hypocrisy knows no bounds,” said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “By siding with President Trump and Washington Republicans, Rauner has proven his campaign slogans to be nothing more than a farce. Rauner just endorsed a plan that will raise taxes on middle-class families all to support a tax break for the wealthiest Illinoisans. No wonder Rauner wanted to hide his real views for so long.”

* SEIU Healthcare…

On Wednesday, Governor Rauner went on the record to support Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans’ tax plan, saying, “I’m applauding Congress. I hope they come through.”

That plan would net Rauner an estimated $300 million in tax breaks according to an analysis SEIU Healthcare Illinois’ research division conducted last month.

The GOP tax plan will be paid for by slashing Medicaid and other federal health care supports and with tax hikes on a majority of all families.

SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Greg Kelley issued the following in response to Rauner’s support of the GOP tax plan:

“Today, Gov. Rauner showed his true colors. He’s not the Carhartt jacket, $18 watch wearing ‘every day man’ that he wants us to believe. He’s a billionaire who would rather have Illinois families give up their healthcare to pay for HIS massive $300 million tax cut provided by Trump and the Republican Congress. Rauner doesn’t need another mansion, but families – children, people with disabilities and the elderly — need healthcare provided through Medicaid, which would be drastically cut and lead to devastating circumstances for millions if Rauner gets his wish.”

* Tribune

Was the governor endorsing the Senate version of the plan or the House version? (The Senate version would eliminate the deduction for property taxes, which tend to be higher in Illinois than elsewhere. The House version would keep the deduction, but limit it to $10,000.)

Neither, apparently. Rauner spokeswoman Patty Schuh said the governor was expressing “general” support for reducing taxes and hopes Congress is able to “deliver when all said and done.”

*** UPDATE *** So, he’s not applauding them today?…


*** UPDATED x2 - ILGOP, Biss respond *** Big money, big investments for Kennedy and Pritzker

Thursday, Nov 30, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Sun-Times

Big Tobacco. Big Oil. Casinos. The largest defense contractor in the world. And the developer of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Those are just some of the hundreds of investment portfolio areas Democrats J.B. Pritzker and Chris Kennedy list as part of paperwork they were required to file to run for governor.

The disclosure form — aimed at transparency — gives information about entities and investments. But it doesn’t provide full financial disclosure, including how much money is involved or other details.

Kennedy, a businessman and son of former U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, listed companies linked to defense, tobacco and oil interests among the hundreds he named in the economic interest statement he filed Monday with the Illinois secretary of state.

Kennedy’s listings included shares in Philip Morris International, the nation’s largest cigarette manufacturer and part of the 1998 court settlement tobacco companies reached with the attorneys general of 46 states over public health concerns. […]

Pritzker’s extensive filing — 10 pages of hundreds of stocks, mutual funds partnership and membership interests — shows a partnership interest in Energy Transfer Partners LP, a pipeline operator that constructed and is a part-owner of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which carries oil underground from North Dakota all the way to an oil tank farm near Patoka, Ill.

Click here for Kennedy’s statement of economic interest, click here for Pritzker’s and click here for Biss’ (nothing really there).

*** UPDATE 1 *** Biss campaign…

“JB Pritzker and Chris Kennedy’s financial disclosures perfectly encapsulate why we should be skeptical of billionaire businessmen who say they’ll fight for us—and why we need to see full tax returns to better understand their financial interests,” says Biss campaign manager Abby Witt. “How can we trust someone invested in the Dakota Access Pipeline to stand against big oil once in office? Someone invested in our nation’s largest cigarette company to work to curb teen smoking? Someone invested in fracking to keep fracking out of our state? The revelations of these financial disclosure forms, a legally-required bare minimum standard of transparency, raise serious doubts in my mind—and make me wonder what they’re still hiding.”

J.B. Pritzker’s mouth is writing checks even his wallet can’t cash.

In yesterday’s Chicago Sun-Times report, it was revealed that Pritzker continues to hold investments in industries that don’t line up with his own rhetoric.

From the Sun-Times:

    “Pritzker’s extensive filing — 10 pages of hundreds of stocks, mutual funds partnership and membership interests — shows a partnership interest in Energy Transfer Partners LP, a pipeline operator that constructed and is a part-owner of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which carries oil underground from North Dakota all the way to an oil tank farm near Patoka, Ill.

    ” … Pritzker also has a partnership interest in Niagara Casino Group, LP and a stock in A.N.P. Gaming Corporation. The Pritzker family has part ownership of the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin. Pritzker, too, invests in big oil, with stocks in Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp.”

But just last month at a Sierra Club Forum, Pritzker repeatedly proclaimed the ‘evils of fossil fuels,’ saying things like:

    “We’ve got to stand up to them. Our endeavor must be to say no when they say it’s ok if we pollute the air and make it harder to breath to stand up for the profits of the fossil fuel industry.”

    “This idea of profits over people we have to do away with.”

    “I believe we need that clean energy technology here in Illinois… in order to get to that 100% clean energy goal.”

Watch HERE.

Pritzker continues to lie to Illinoisans, regardless of their party preference. Pritzker’s incessant hypocrisy is proof that he is the wrong choice for Illinois.


New Proft mailer ties Durkin to Madigan

Thursday, Nov 30, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Background is here if you need it. From a reader…


Elon Musk will bid to build high-speed O’Hare-Loop tunnel

Thursday, Nov 30, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Reuters

Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk said on Tuesday The Boring Company will compete to fund, build and operate a high-speed Loop connecting O’Hare Airport to downtown Chicago.

Musk, the chief executive of electric car maker Tesla Inc and rocket company SpaceX, recently started the Boring Company to build transport tunnels for the system, which he says would be far faster than current high-speed trains and use electromagnetic propulsion. […]

Musk is seeking to revolutionize transportation by sending passengers and cargo packed into pods through an intercity system of giant vacuum tubes known as the “hyperloop.”

When asked on Twitter to elaborate on his “high-speed loop” proposal that would link O’Hare Airport to downtown Chicago, Musk tweeted, “A Loop is like a Hyperloop, but without drawing a vacuum inside the tube.”


*** UPDATED x1 - Tillman responds *** Deep dives into the growing Illinois web of conservative “propaganda”

Thursday, Nov 30, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

*** UPDATE *** From John Tillman…

Hi, Rich,

One of the golden rules of journalism is to stick to the facts. Unfortunately, a hit piece published by Gateway Journalism Review missed the mark. The authors of this piece set out not to investigate the truth, but to build a case to support a false premise they’d already convinced themselves was true. Virtually every paragraph is riddled with inaccuracies or distortions.

It’s important to note that before maligning the Illinois Policy Institute, the authors of this piece failed to pick up the phone and talk to the Institute. They even failed to offer our organization a chance to comment. If the authors had extended this basic journalistic courtesy, perhaps they could have avoided the many inaccuracies in their piece.

Our bias — as the authors like to refer to our point of view — is to advocate for policies that empower the people, not the government. We believe in fiscal responsibility, limited government and reforms that will grow the state’s economy. It’s very clear that Gateway’s complaint about our organization isn’t a process disagreement over modes of operation, which nearly every media organization has confronted and experimented with as new media has reshaped the landscape. It’s a desire to silence different points of view and new ways of reaching the public.

Hit pieces like this don’t make journalism better. They make Illinois worse.

John Tillman

Illinois Policy Institute
Illinois Policy

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* From the introduction to a Gateway Journalism Review story entitled “Illinois’ ‘independent’ news network publishes pro-Rauner propaganda”

This report is the work of an investigative reporting class in the School of Journalism at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The project analyzed public records about an interlocking network of conservative news organizations connected to the free market, anti-tax, anti-union Illinois Policy Institute. The SIU reporting project examined documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. In addition, reporters tracked down freelancers who wrote local Illinois stories from thousands of miles away. Nathaniel Dean Fortmeyer was the student who took the lead in the investigation. William Recktenwald taught the class and reported from Harrisburg. Recktenwald was an investigative reporter at the Chicago Tribune. William H. Freivogel is publisher of GJR.

* From the story

A group of free-market billionaires and conservatives allied with Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner controls a network of newspapers, radio stations, news sites and policy institutes promoting the governor’s agenda while presenting themselves as independent and free from bias.

When people in Carbondale, DuPage, Chicago, Kankakee, Rock Island, Will County and other Illinois communities pick up the local newspaper or click on a website, they are promised traditional journalistic values — the “highest standards of truth and accuracy…and independence” — “Just the Facts” — “nonpartisan, nonprofit…dedicated to the principles of transparency, accountability and fiscal responsibility.”

What readers get is a strong pro-Republican, pro-Rauner, anti-Michael Madigan slant manufactured by the interlocking group of media organizations revolving around the free-market, anti-tax, anti-union Illinois Policy Institute (IPI).

Readers also get “local” stories often written by freelancers thousands of miles away who never set foot in Illinois. And, even though the conservative network promises transparency, some funding is shrouded in dark, unreported money.

Go read the whole thing.

* There’s also an accompanying graphic

* From a companion piece

Brian Timpone — who runs ICS and the Local Government Information Services newspapers where the stories are published — describes himself as an “entrepreneur focused on developing software and systems that grow and enhance media.”

Timpone said in an interview that distant reporters are better and fairer than those who live in the community.

“The reason local news reporting is so crappy is because the reporters are too local. You don’t want them to live in the communities…. If you have [a reporter who has] done city councils in a city, you are too close.” Local journalists embedded in communities are “ill-equipped to objectively judge information,” he said. “I am partisan to ideas. Free market. Capitalism.”

In 2012 Timpone admitted that his company had made mistakes. This American Life had reported that a freelancer, Ryan Smith, had rewritten content from foreign contributors from the Philippines, who were given fake bylines. Timpone acknowledged the fake bylines were a mistake, although he still claimed the foreign contributors were just entering data, not writing stories.

Some of Timpone’s current journalists say they can’t talk about their duties because they are required to sign non-disclosure agreements. One of those is Chandra Lye, a freelancer from British Columbia. Her byline appeared on a Sept. 19 story in the Metro East Sun headlined: “Belleville area cheers Lisa Madigan’s decision to call it quits.”

Contacted via Twitter, Lye responded with an email, “I have been informed that I am not authorized to discuss the process with you.”

Some reporters discussed their work.

Go read the whole thing.


Rotheimer claims IG asked for unlimited access to her mobile phone and Facebook account

Thursday, Nov 30, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From the Illinois Policy Institute’s news service

The newly appointed Inspector General in Springfield told the victim of alleged sexual harassment by a lawmaker to turn over unlimited access to her cell phone and social media account.

Anti-abuse advocate Denise Rotheimer says Julie Porter, the woman lawmakers tabbed to be the Legislative Inspector General, asked for a little more of her private life than she wanted to give up.

“What she was asking for was way too overreaching and unrelated to the complaint,” Rotheimer said. “I didn’t want to give her access to all of my text messages going years and years back.”

Eventually, Porter settled for just the information specific to Rotheimer’s complaint.

Rotheimer had already given Porter hundreds of pages of Facebook and other comments she received from married state Senator Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago. The comments included things that ranged from aggressive flirtation to lewd comments about Rotheimer’s body.

* Meanwhile, WBEZ has a story up about how Sen. Ira Silverstein did some legal work for Denise Rotheimer’s father while he was allegedly sexually harassing her

What’s more, if Rotheimer’s sexual harassment claims are validated by [interim Legislative Inspector General Julie Porter], the law license Silverstein has held since 1985 could be at risk, said the former 15-year head of the state Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, which licenses Illinois attorneys and recommends sanctions against lawyers who engage in misconduct. […]

“If he were found to have engaged in conduct that amounted to sexual harassment of her in the context of representing her father — and there were a finding by some administrative body that the harassment had occurred — he would be vulnerable in terms of his law license,” said lawyer Mary Robinson, the ARDC’s former administrator who is now in private practice.

However, after reviewing portions of the emails Rotheimer released, Robinson said she is not entirely certain that what she read at WBEZ’s request constitutes a clear-cut punishable offense by her former agency.

“I don’t see a sense of him using authority to keep her engaged. It appears as much as you can tell from just reading black and white … to be a very collaborative engagement. No one seems to be pulling the other one way or another,” Robinson said.

“I didn’t read them all, but I didn’t see any instance in which I would have read any of his messages as suggesting she would be more likely to get what she wanted either on behalf of her father or on behalf of her base … by keeping him happy,” she said. “I did not see an indication he was trying to use power in order to get something she would have been otherwise unwilling to engage in.”

Well, that’s one opinion.


*** UPDATED x2 - Pritzker, Rauner campaigns respond *** Tribune reports on Tobin’s anti-Lincoln rants

Thursday, Nov 30, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From the twitters…

I’ve been writing about the anti-Abraham Lincoln rants of Taxpayers United’s Jim Tobin since 2011.

* Tribune

Bruce Rauner may be the governor of the “Land of Lincoln,” but he’s promoting kudos from a group led by a self-styled taxpayer watchdog who contends Abraham Lincoln fought the Civil War to keep collecting taxes from Southern states, not over the issue of slavery.

On Wednesday, Rauner’s campaign Twitter account noted the governor had “been graded 92 percent in taxpayer friendliness, because as governor, I’m the biggest advocate for taxpayers. I won’t stop fighting to protect Illinoisans from more tax hikes.” […]

Tobin’s foundation features several posts critical of Lincoln with such titles as “Lincoln brutalized the country and shredded the constitution,” “Illinois and Lincoln set the bar for political sleaze” and “Lincoln’s unpopular war.” […]

After the Tribune asked the Rauner campaign for comment, the Wednesday tweet promoting Rauner’s ranking by Tobin’s Taxpayers United was removed from Twitter. […]

The Tribune asked the Rauner campaign for comment about its promotion of Tobin as part of the governor’s re-election. A Rauner campaign spokesman sent a statement: “The Chicago Tribune, as well as other respected news sources, have cited Jim Tobin and the Taxpayers United of America several times.” Five Tribune stories were about transportation and school issues.

That’s true. Tobin is often cited by reputable publications that ought to know better.

*** UPDATE *** From Justin Giorgio at the Rauner campaign…

Hi Rich,

Providing some clarification on the Tribune story you posted this morning. They only mentioned 5 Tribune stories in the article, and justified those by saying they were ‘transportation and education’ focused. However, all had a political slant, and there were additional stories not focused on those issues at all. Here’s a list we provided of stories from the Tribune and others citing Taxpayers United of America.–20120625-story.html

Additional citations:


*** UPDATE 2 *** Pritzker campaign…

Bruce Rauner was again promoting recent praise from Jim Tobin, an activist who believes the Civil War was fought over taxes, not slavery. But after the Chicago Tribune started asking questions about the controversial move, Rauner’s campaign deleted the now nowhere to be found tweet:

Despite pushback, Rauner’s campaign continued to defend the praise today and stand by Tobin and his radical views.

“After a 736-day budget crisis that hurt working families across the state, it’s clear that praise from the likes of Jim Tobin is the best this failed governor can muster,” said Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh.


Bernie Sanders endorses Chuy Garcia

Thursday, Nov 30, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

Sen. Bernie Sanders is endorsing Cook County Commissioner Jesús “Chuy” Garcia in the Democratic primary race to represent Illinois’ 4th Congressional District. Garcia, who served as a national Latino surrogate for Sanders in his 2016 quest for the Democratic Party nomination for president, said yesterday he would run for the U.S. Representative seat after the current U.S. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez announced he was retiring and backing Garcia to replace him.

“‘Chuy’ Garcia is the right person at the right time for the work we have ahead of us,” Sanders said. “He is ready and willing to stand up and fight for the working families of Chicago and our nation and take on the powerful special interests who have far too much power over the economic and political life of our country. He is also an experienced legislator who has risen up the ladder of Chicago’s brawling politics. That makes him well groomed for jumping into the House’s rough and tumble political battles.

“There will be no learning curve when Chuy gets to Washington. He served on the Chicago City Council, he was the first Mexican-American in the Illinois state Senate and he is currently serving on the Cook County Board of Commissioners. As an immigrant who has embraced his adopted homeland, he will be a fresh voice in Congress.

“And with his strong ties to the Puerto Rican community, he will be a strong ally and powerful advocate for our ‘Marshall Plan’ legislation to rebuild and renew that island.”

Sanders noted that the need to have a voice for immigrants on the national stage becomes more urgent every day, as the March 2018 withdrawal of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) protection for undocumented young people draws near and the Trump administration continues to escalate immigration raids, check-ins and deportations.

Garcia said he was looking forward to joining the new wave of progressive, national Democratic Party leaders, inspired by Sanders. He said he was aligned with the senator on virtually all of his key issues, including a strong program for rebuilding Puerto Rico, health care for all, immigration reform, boosting access to higher education and fiscal responsibility with a tax system where everyone pays their fair share.

“I support America, a nation of rich cultural heritage and unmatched strength, whose founding fathers believed in building bridges, not walls,” Garcia said. “I champion opportunity for all as an ally of independent Sen. Bernie Sanders. I will do everything in my power to move the nation forward on these crucial issues.”

* Related…

* Race Already Heating Up to Replace Rep. Gutierrez: Six candidates are scrambling to get onto the ballot in time for the March primaries, when the race will truly begin to replace the retiring Gutierrez.


* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* After being charged with grooming and possessing images depicting child sexual abuse, Nicholas Kachiroubas to be ousted from ICCB (Updated)
* Isabel’s afternoon roundup
* You reap what you sow
* Coverage roundup: US Supreme Court upholds domestic violence gun law (Updated x2)
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* Uber Partners With Cities To Expand Urban Transportation
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