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Friday, Dec 22, 2017

* I’ll be back in the new year. By popular demand, the 2017 Wordslinger Golden Horseshoe Award for Best CapitolFax.com Commenter goes to its namesake: Wordslinger. Here’s commenter Arthur Andersen

I’m on Team Wordslinger this year. Word has been on top of his game all year, with incisive, focused, and sometimes superbly snarky comments on all of our events of the day. The guy doesn’t miss a trick. He can distill an issue into fewer words than AA usually takes just to get going.

Honorable mention to my CMS homie RNUG and to the inimitable, irreplaceable Oswego Willy.

Agreed on all counts, including the honorable mentions, although I would add MrJM to that list.

* As is our tradition, we end the year with my mom’s three favorite holiday videos. Suzy Snowflake

* Hardrock, Coco and Joe

* And Frosty The Snowman…

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Kennedy calls out Democrats for lack of action on gun violence

Friday, Dec 22, 2017

* ABC 7

Democratic candidate for governor Chris Kennedy stood outside Stroger Hospital Friday to call for change to deal with the violence that has once again pushed Chicago’s homicides over 600 for 2017.

“It’s not just the wounded who come here to Stroger Hospital, but it’s the brother and sisters, the family members, entire communities that suffer from urban post traumatic stress disorder,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy blamed state and local leaders for failing people.

“Here in Illinos in 2017, we should already have bump stock legislation signed into law. Here in Illinois in 2017 we should already have a gun dealer licensing bill signed into law,” said Ra Joy, Kennedy’s running mate.

* The Trace

A top contender for the Democratic nomination for governor of Illinois said that state elected officials, including members of his own party, haven’t done nearly enough to combat gun violence.

In an interview with The Trace in his campaign office in downtown Chicago, Chris Kennedy, a son of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy, questioned the commitment of lawmakers after measures intended to fight gun crime failed earlier this year in the state Legislature. One of the bills would have banned bump stocks, the gun accessories that mimic machine-gun fire which were used by the killer in the Las Vegas massacre in October. It was defeated in the House after lawmakers, including Democrats, criticized it for being too broad.

“I don’t know how you could have that many Democrats in the House and Senate and not get something done,” Kennedy said. “I think the party has lost its way.”

Kennedy also called for a reform of the state’s property tax system, which he said shortchanges public schools, underfunds police, and has led to drastic cuts in social services — all of which he said have contributed to persistent gun violence.

That bump stock bill was intentionally drafted by the House Democrats to lose. They could’ve easily passed a clean bump stock ban, but the HDems wanted a political issue.

* Meanwhile

The population at the Cook County Jail has fallen below 6,000 inmates, its lowest point in decades, sheriff’s officials said Thursday.

Cara Smith, chief policy officer for Sheriff Tom Dart, said the number has been declining for some time in part because of a drop in arrests, but the biggest change came some three months ago when criminal court judges were ordered to set bail only in amounts that defendants could afford to pay.

Since the order took effect Sept. 18, the jail population has dropped to 5,909 inmates as of Thursday, down by more than 1,500, Smith said.

Authorities credited the recent drop in the jail’s population largely to an order by Chief Judge Timothy Evans requiring judges to set affordable bail amounts for defendants charged with nonviolent felonies. […]

Of the approximately 2,000 felony defendants released in the two months after the order took effect, about 93 percent had not committed a new offense by Nov. 30, Milhizer said. Nine out of 10 had appeared for all their scheduled court dates, he said, though he noted that the numbers involve a short time frame.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


Today’s number: $2.5 million

Friday, Dec 22, 2017

* Buried in today’s “Morning Spin”

Gov. Rauner’s campaign on Thursday reported a $2.5 million political contribution from Illinois’ wealthiest person, records show.

The donation from billionaire hedge fund founder Ken Griffin adds to the $20 million he gave the governor in May.

Griffin, the founder and CEO of Citadel, has been Rauner’s largest donor outside of the governor himself. It was almost exactly one year ago that the governor reported putting $50 million into his campaign fund.

* So, yep, it seems almost tiny now…



- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


Question of the day: Golden Horseshoe Awards

Friday, Dec 22, 2017

* The 2017 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Statewide Officeholder goes to Comptroller Susana Mendoza

The Comptroller has been tireless since taking office last December, both in her official work and in her public outreach. She not only successfully managed the impossible task of handling the state’s bills, she also fought and won decisively a battle with the governor over important reform legislation for her office.

The voting was nearly unanimous.

* The 2017 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Statehouse Insider goes to Dave Sullivan

Yeah, he wins these awards all the time. But he wins because he’s the best. Deep relationships on both sides of the aisle, really has his pulse on what is going on, but, more importantly, maintains his integrity and ethics. Great guy, great lobbyist, great insider.

Dave received a bunch of very strong nominations, and deservedly so.

* Let’s move on to our final category…

* The Wordslinger Golden Horseshoe Award for Best CapitolFax.com Commenter

This is always our most popular award, but explain your nomination fully or it won’t count. I’m shutting down the blog for the holidays around 4:30 or so today and will announce the winner at that time.

- Posted by Rich Miller   64 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Did Illinois lie to the CDC?

Friday, Dec 22, 2017

* Press release…

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has posted two Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports addressing the Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy (IVHQ). CDC generated the reports after two visits by environmental health and infectious disease specialists to IVHQ. IDPH requested Epidemiologic Assistance (Epi-Aid) from the CDC after confirming an increase in Legionella cases in August 2015, and again in 2016. The CDC also visited IVHQ earlier this month and a summary of that visit is pending. These reports address the complexities of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak and how the State of Illinois has taken appropriate action.

The CDC describes the State’s diligent response and efforts to help protect the health and safety of veterans and IVHQ staff and visitors, noting:

    • IVHQ has a well-established clinical infection surveillance and prevention program in place.
    • From the identification of the outbreak, IVHQ clinical staff performed checks on all residents in skilled care every four hours, and twice daily for all residents in independent living. Per established IVHQ protocol, any resident developing symptoms consistent with a lower respiratory infection had a chest x-ray performed immediately for pneumonia diagnosis.
    • Since the 2015 outbreak, significant remediation efforts undertaken by the Quincy Veteran’s Home have substantially reduced the presence of Legionella in the potable water system.
    • Based on observations during the Epi-Aid investigation, the water management program was fully implemented, followed, and continuously reviewed by the water management team to optimize the water systems.

Emphasis added because there’s significant contrary evidence. The full report is here.

* Let’s go back to the original WBEZ report

Dolores French, a native Chicagoan and lifelong Cubs fan who was 79, had only one health malady: deafness. Otherwise, she was in good health and was allowed to move into the veterans’ home with her husband of 57 years, Richard French Sr., because he was a U.S. Army veteran who served during the Korean War.

She was assigned to an independent living unit at the facility, Steve French said, while her husband was placed in another residential building at Quincy because he needed care for his worsening Parkinson’s disease. Typically, French said, his mother would walk to her husband’s room and spend eight hours a day with him.

When the phone call about Legionnaires’ at Quincy arrived, Steve French said he immediately wanted to check on his parents’ well-being and tried calling his mother, who had a device that translates phone calls into text. He got no response. He tried the desk in her building and also got nothing. The next call went to the facility’s administrative offices.

“I said, ‘This is Steve French. I heard the news. I’m just checking on my dad and mom,’” he recalled. “And she just said that they’re OK, that if something happens, we’ll get a call.”

That was Friday, Aug. 28, 2015.

But it wasn’t until the next morning, as French was contemplating making the drive to Quincy from Springfield to check on her, that he was notified by the home that his mother’s neighbors had reported her missing, and staff wanted permission to enter her room, he said.

Within 10 minutes, as the Frenches sat in their basement, another call came from Quincy to report his mother had been found on the floor in her apartment, dead.

As the news began to sink in, yet another call arrived, this time from the Adams County Coroner’s Office. French’s wife, Deann, took the phone.

“He said, ‘We found Mrs. French, and this is going to be difficult for me to tell you, but she has been dead for a significant amount of time,’” Deann French remembered. “So I’m processing that, and I said, ‘Do we know what happened to her? What happened?’ At this point, I’m not thinking Legionnaires’. I just wasn’t. And he said, ‘No, she was found on the floor in front of her recliner, pretty badly decomposed.’”

Within another hour or two, the coroner called back with confirmation that he suspected Legionnaires’, and that state law required an autopsy because an outbreak had been declared at the home.

According to the CDC’s report referenced by IDPH, the identification of the outbreak occurred on August 21, 2015. Mrs. French was found dead on August 29th in a state of decomposition. Yet, the state told the CDC they were checking on independent living residents twice a day starting August 21st.

I asked IDPH for comment yesterday and haven’t heard back.

* Again, the state supposedly identified the existence of an outbreak on August 21st. From the timeline I put together the other day

August 21: Illinois Veterans’ Home resident Melvin Tucker develops a fever. He is given Tylenol.

August 26: Gerald Kuhn, 90, is given Tylenol for a fever that reaches 104 degrees. Kuhn asks to go to the hospital and tests positive there for Legionella.

August 27: After six days with a fever, Melvin Tucker is still not on any kind of antibiotic and hasn’t yet been tested for Legionnaires’, despite the CDC being notified four days earlier of an outbreak and the state announcing eight confirmed cases that same day.

August 31: Melvin Tucker and Gerald Kuhn die, bringing the death total to four.

But, according to the CDC’s report, the state claimed to the CDC that Legionella urine antigen test samples “were collected from any resident with an elevated temperature.”

*** UPDATE *** From the Kennedy campaign…

This applies to the multiple stories out today about Bruce Rauner neglecting our most vulnerable — and lying about it:

Examples of neglect and deceit continue to mount under Bruce Rauner’s administration. He’s overseeing a system that lies, that manipulates data, that destroys the health of our seniors, our veterans, and the developmentally disabled and the mentally ill. It’s a horrifying display of mismanagement and, even worse, it’s inhumane. Not only do we need a new governor, but we need leaders in both parties to stop protecting a system that’s crushing the most vulnerable communities in Illinois.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - IDHS responds *** IDHS abuse and neglect allegations soar for developmentally disabled and mentally ill

Friday, Dec 22, 2017

* AP

Allegations of abuse and neglect of developmentally disabled and mentally ill residents under the care of the Illinois Department of Human Services have increased by half since 2010 and the time it takes to investigate them has grown, too, an audit released Thursday found.

The report by Auditor General Frank Mautino discovered that abuse and neglect complaints jumped to 3,698 in the year that ended June 30, compared with 2,468 seven years earlier.

The audit also found that the agency’s Office of the Inspector General did not complete investigations into the complaints within the 60 working days agency rules require. Cases were closed in a timely manner 50 percent of the time in the year ending in June. In 2010, 85 percent of the cases were closed on time. […]

The increase is sharper among community agencies. During the period, the state moved swiftly away from large institutions to community-living settings. Mautino’s audit determined that abuse and neglect claims at community agencies overseen by Human Services jumped 81 percent during the seven-year period, to 2,714 last year. […]

The report indicates that nearly 13,000 residents lived in centralized developmental and mental health centers in 2010, compared with 7,000 this year. Human Services also has oversight over 421 community agencies operating 4,500 program sites, such as group homes or day programs. That’s a 31 percent increase from 2010

More info is here.

These are some of our most vulnerable people and we as a state are obviously failing them. Merry Christmas.

*** UPDATE *** From IDHS…

Each and every allegation of abuse or neglect reported to IDHS OIG is taken seriously. It is our goal to dedicate the appropriate amount of time and resources to each investigation. We are committed to ensuring safe and therapeutic care for individuals with disabilities and mental illnesses in both the community and at our state developmental and mental health centers.

2,295 more people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are now living in community integrated living arrangements (CILAs) compared to 2010, which is a 19% increase. The increase of individuals living in CILAs has increased the amount of allegations of abuse and neglect in these facilities. Since fiscal year 2011, the rate at which these allegations are substantiated has remained around 16%.

In the past two years, we have more than doubled staff and streamlined many previously manual processes. The larger workforce and new processes are already having a positive effect on investigation thoroughness and timeliness. Since fiscal year 2016, the number of days to complete an investigation has decreased by 15%. IDHS will continue to examine our investigation processes and staffing levels to determine any additional improvements that we can make.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


Colorado college recruiter explains why she’s successful at poaching students

Friday, Dec 22, 2017

* Daily Chronicle

Two years of a budget impasse in Springfield that included cuts to state universities made the state’s graduating high school seniors a tempting target for out-of-state universities.

In that time, Northern Illinois University saw a decline in undergrad enrollment of 5 percent, and most state universities have suffered similar or greater declines in enrollment. At the same time, a network of recruiters in Chicago works to recruit Illinois’ best and brightest to other schools.

Tiffany Dallas, a Colorado State University admissions recruiter based in DeKalb, said a lot of the students she recruits from Illinois – specifically the area around Chicago – leave because it’s Colorado, although the uncertainty in state higher education plays a factor.

“Colorado is absolutely amazing and blows the state of Illinois out of the water,” Dallas said. “But the next step is the students don’t feel like their education is necessarily stable here. They’re just sick of hearing, ‘Yeah, there’s no budget; we don’t know if we have money; we have to cut programs.’ ” […]

The Chicago Area Regional Representatives, a professional group for college recruiters in the Chicago area, has more than 90 member schools and more than 100 recruiters in its ranks, and includes schools from across the country and Illinois.

More on that group is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   70 Comments      


Silverstein accuser drops out of House race

Friday, Dec 22, 2017

* From Denise Rotheimer’s Facebook page

I am publicly announcing my decision not to pursue my candidacy for State Representative of District 62. Since testifying at the hearing on SB402 to prohibit sexual harassment in the Ethics Act I have been overwhelmed with re-living the experience I suffered while working with senator Silverstein and figuring out how to participate in the process of going forward on my complaint. Had this issue not come up, I would have been 100% committed to my campaign–but, there were several consequences from testifying that I could not foresee at that time. I have done my best to get through this process which I feel progress has been made because of the efforts the legislative inspector general made to accommodate my participation and my request to present a victim impact statement to the legislative ethics commission. I do hope that this case and all the attention that it has received, including the progress that I have made by providing the complainant with some level of having a voice in this process will be of benefit to others. At this point, I want to focus on other aspects of my life, particularly on areas where I can do good and meaningful work that not only improves the quality of life for others but also for myself. With this being said, I wish the other two candidates good luck and again, please do not forget to vote in the primary election on March 20, 2018.

She was running against two other Republicans for the right to take on Rep. Sam Yingling (D-Grayslake). She never set up a campaign committee and she filed 517 petition signatures, just barely above the required 500 and her petitions were challenged. She told me she couldn’t make herself gather signatures after her public testimony against Silverstein. She essentially got out before she was kicked off.

* Meanwhile, Sen. Silverstein’s campaign committee has reported just three contributions since he was accused of sexual harassment. The Chicagoland Operators Joint Labor-Management PAC gave him $7,000 in mid-November. The Realtors gave him $1,200 and the Trial Lawyers gave him $1,000 in late November. He has reported nothing since then.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


Ford County GOP upset with Sen. Barickman for backing legal marijuana

Friday, Dec 22, 2017

* From the Paxton Record

The Ford County Republican Central Committee met last Saturday and erupted when the legalization of marijuana came up for discussion.

Noting that state Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, put out a memo earlier in the week in support of legislation to legalize recreational marijuana, many comments and questions arose among precinct committeemen and the public.

Many voiced their objection to Barickman’s position, stating that marijuana is an addictive gateway drug that will lead to using other illicit drugs. Since its use for medical purposes, many factions have been pushing for legalizing the drug for recreational use.

That caused one participant to ask what such use would do to DUI violations, or the use by teens.

“How accessible will it become for younger people?” the person said.

Already, there is no significant penalty for possession or use of small amounts of marijuana in Illinois. And the court system has not worked well in preventing use.

Barickman postulated that its legalization would raise money for the state.

“Addictive gateway drug.” It’s like we’ve stepped back in time.

Also, it’s easier for a teenager to buy weed than beer and has been for decades. Criminal drug dealers don’t check ID cards.

Sen. Barickman voted for gay marriage. He survived. He’ll survive this, too. The world will not end when we stop putting people in prison for inventing, growing, selling and consuming marijuana products.

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Kennedy, Kass blast Pritzker on property taxes, Berrios

Friday, Dec 22, 2017

* Kass

“We have people running for governor who won’t criticize the most important issue — the rigged property tax system — and that itself is disqualifying,” Chris Kennedy, also running in the Democratic Party primary, told me Thursday.

Kennedy has long made the property tax system, and the corruption in it, a feature of his campaign. He has called on Berrios to resign. Pritzker and his ally Mayor Rahm Emanuel would rather change the subject and talk about the guy in the White House.

“Pritzker talks about things that aren’t really the issue. He talks about Donald Trump, but he skirts the issue of using Joe Berrios’ office to call political supporters. Pritzker’s locked in with those guys.” […]

“As J.B. has made clear throughout the campaign, he believes we need to reform our flawed and inequitable property tax system, and it will be a top priority for him as governor,” said Slayen.

“Like (Democratic gubernatorial candidate) Daniel Biss, J.B. believes that voters should have the ultimate say on if Mr. Berrios deserves another term, and J.B. remains focused on beating Bruce Rauner and repairing the damage he has done to Illinois,” Slayen said.

Fair enough. But Pritzker isn’t running against Rauner now. He’s not running against Donald Trump either.

He’s running for the Democratic nomination against Chris Kennedy, and property taxes will be the issue. And they will be the issue in the general election.

Discuss.

*** UPDATE *** Good questions…



- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


“C’mon, man. That was just an accusation”

Friday, Dec 22, 2017

* You gotta read this entire story. It’s a real hoot

A Republican running to become the top law enforcement officer in the state took tens of thousands in campaign contributions from companies in the Cayman Islands, a restaurant whose owners are named in FBI mafia investigations and another group whose owners were jailed on federal fraud charges.

DuPage County Board Member and former Burr Ridge mayor Gary Grasso admits he has made some “first time mistakes” in his fledgling campaign for Attorney General. Twice, the State Board of Elections has rebuked him for accepting donations above the individual and corporate contribution caps.

Grasso reported a $25,000 campaign donation from Yorkville Investment I, LLC, on October 27th, which not only exceeds the corporate limit of $11,100, but state records show the business was registered as a foreign entity and is no longer open for business. Asked about the illegal donation, Grasso said he planned to give back $14,900 to bring the contribution within compliance.

“Contributions over the limit are not appropriate and those rules should not be circumvented,” said Sarah Brune, the Executive Director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

State records show Yorkville Investment I uses the same Wheaton address as 60 Degrees Group Ltd, another foreign firm based in the Cayman Islands. 60 Degrees Group gave Grasso’s campaign $2,800 on December 7th. JR Marital Trust is also registered at the same address in the Caymans, and sent Grasso $11,100 on the same date.

Go read the rest of it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


Pritzker uses old Rauner slam on Quinn to attack the governor on veterans’ home deaths

Thursday, Dec 21, 2017

* Pritzker campaign…

In the 2014 campaign, Bruce Rauner issued a searing indictment of his opponent, saying he was responsible for failings at a state agency, leading to tragic deaths on his opponent’s watch:

    “Yes,” Rauner said when asked by reporters if the deaths of 95 children with past contact with the Department of Children and Family Services from 2011-2013 were attributable to Quinn.

    “Pat Quinn is, in the end, responsible for the failings at the Department of Children and Family Services. If it was a one-year problem or a temporary problem you could say, ‘OK, maybe, there was, it’s not really his responsibility.’ But he’s been governor for six years. He’s had a revolving door of failure at Department of Children and Family Services for years and years,” Rauner said.

Fast forward to today, and Bruce Rauner has refused to take any responsibility for his own mismanagement of Veterans Affairs, leading to a Legionnaires crisis in Quincy that has taken the lives of 13 people.

“Bruce Rauner’s gross mismanagement and neglect led to 13 deaths at the Quincy Veterans’ Home, devastating countless Illinois families,” said Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh. “Like Rauner said in 2014, the governor needs to take responsibility for the state agencies he runs and the tragedy that has resulted from his mismanagement.”

…Adding… I told the Rauner campaign after their guy slammed Quinn on DCFS that Rauner would live to regret those words. The same thing will happen to Pritzker if he wins. A short-term hit that guarantees long-term pain.

…Adding… There’s a video now…


Ouch.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      


Circular firing squad holiday battles

Thursday, Dec 21, 2017

* Leader Durkin dropped another $48K on cable TV to fend off his Dan Proft-backed GOP primary opponent through Christmas…

* The ILGOP also has a holiday themed mailer blasting Durkin’s rival Mickey Straub…



Heh.

* On to the other side. In the 53rd House District Republican primary to replace retiring GOP Rep. David Harris, Dan Proft is backing Katie Miller over Eddie Corrigan. The Democrats have a strong candidate (one of our active commenters, former Rep. Mark Walker) and the Republican powers that be are worried that Miller could lose the seat

* Two Republicans are vying to challenge Rep. Deb Conroy (D-Villa Park). Proft is backing Dr. Jay Kinzler against Roger Orozco

* And in the 110th House District open seat race to replace retiring GOP Rep. Reggie Phillips, Proft is backing Chris Miller against Terry Davis in the Republican primary

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


Accelerated population loss could mean Illinois loses two congressional seats

Thursday, Dec 21, 2017

* Election Data Services took a look at the new US Census Bureau numbers yesterday (click here) and came up with some bad news for Illinois

The Bureau’s 2017 total population estimates shows that now 12 states will be impacted by changes in their congressional delegation if these new numbers were used for apportionment to- day. The state of Colorado joins the previously indicated states of Florida, North Carolina, and Oregon to each gain a single seat while the state of Texas is now shown to gain a second seat with the new data. The states of New York and West Virginia joins the states of Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania to lose a seat in Congress using the new data.

The new numbers, however, reflect subtle changes taking place across the nation in birth and death rates and resulting total population numbers that become magnified when the information is projected forward to coincide with the taking of the 2020 Census on April 1 that year. A short-term projection method, utilizing the change in population in just the past year (2016- 2017), would trigger a second seat lost to Illinois [Emphasis added]

So, if Illinois keeps losing population at this clip we wind up losing two seats

2016-2017 – Lost 33,703
2015-2016 – Lost 26,325
2014-2015 – Lost 20,387
2013-2014 – Lost 7,965
2012-2013 – Gained 11,909

* And check out where the big losses are…



According to the Census Bureau, Chicago has added only about 10,000 people since 2010. If Gov. Rauner wins reelection and the GOP wins the Abe’s hat drawing for the right to draw the new maps, Chicago could lose a seat as well.

- Posted by Rich Miller   69 Comments      


Lipinski to speak at annual March for Life in midst of Democratic primary

Thursday, Dec 21, 2017

* Press release

March for Life, the world’s largest annual pro-life demonstration, is proud to announce their initial list of speakers for the 45th annual March for Life held in Washington, D.C. on January 19th, 2018. This year’s impressive lineup will include NFL/MLB star Tim Tebow’s mother Pam Tebow, former NFL player Matt Birk and his wife Adrianna, U.S. Representatives Dan Lipinski (D-IL)…

* From NARAL…

The anti-choice group March for Life has announced that Illinois Congressman Dan Lipinski, a Democrat, will headline their annual march on Washington D.C. in January of 2018. Lipinski has made no secret of his right-wing agenda, which includes more than a decade of voting to curtail the rights of women, immigrants, and LGBT Americans. Billed as the world’s largest anti-abortion gathering, the annual March for Life supports banning abortion nationwide.

“Lipinski is doubling-down on his bid to ban abortion and subjugate women to second class citizens. Despite the ‘D’ next to his name, Lipinski consistently pushes an extreme right-wing agenda that couldn’t be more out-of-touch with the needs of hardworking Illinois families,” said NARAL Pro-Choice America’s States Campaigns Director, James Owens. “Luckily, Illinois voters can choose a true pro-choice champion to represent their values in Congress. Marie Newman will fight to ensure that women and families always have equal opportunities and equal representation.”

NARAL endorsed Marie Newman in November and has been a powerful force to help elect a true progressive to represent women and families across the 3rd district. NARAL launched a Let’s #DumpDan campaign including a website and TV ad as part of their larger plan to unseat the anti-choice incumbent.

As Co-chair of the Democrats for Life and co-sponsor of over 50 bills in Congress that restrict a woman’s right to choose, Lipinski has made restricting a woman’s right to control their own bodies and futures a hallmark of his political career.

…Adding… As a commenter points out, this is certainly an “interesting” Democratic primary strategy…



…Adding More… Press release…

“Dan Lipinski is no Democrat — just this past Monday, he was hamming it up with Paul Ryan and Donald Trump in the White House as they celebrated raising taxes on working families and giving a giant tax cut to big corporations and the rich. It’s yet another line in his long record of siding with Republicans against working families and consistently undermining the rights of women, immigrants, and the LGBTQ community. That’s not what the voters of Illinois’s 3rd district want or need — they need a progressive champion like Marie Newman who will fight for them in Congress. The people of Illinois deserve a real Democrat and progressive leader who will side with them — not with Wall Street.” — Marissa Barrow, spokesperson, Progressive Change Campaign Committee

* Meanwhile, in a different Democratic congressional primary…

Today, Sol Flores announced that she has received the endorsement of EMILY’s List.

Flores said, “I am honored to receive the endorsement of EMILY’s List. Women around the country are stepping up demanding a seat at the table. We must have more women in Congress who will fight for a livable wage, affordable health care, reproductive rights and fair taxes for the middle class. I have spent my life helping the most vulnerable families and youth of our community. We need their voices, their stories, and their ideas in Washington now more than ever. They want and need to be heard.”

Flores is up against Chuy Garcia and several others. She’s the only woman in the race.

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


Raoul pressed again on tobacco contributions

Thursday, Dec 21, 2017

* Some background is here. CBS 2 has a story about Sen. Kwame Raoul’s AG campaign taking $100,000 in $10K increments from companies owned by local tobacco mogul Don Levin

“It’s improper because there’s a case pending before the attorney general, and it’s seeking to influence someone who would be attorney general,” said Jesse Ruiz, an attorney general candidate. “I think you have to stand up and show ethical behavior now, even before you ask voters to elect you to that office.”

Illinois’ attorney general is seeking millions from Levin’s company, in a dispute over payments to the state from tobacco settlements. Raoul insists Levin’s donation isn’t a conflict.

“I’ve known him for years. He’s contributed to me before, and all my votes have been anti-tobacco. I’m not for sale,” Raoul said.

* From Maze Jackson’s Facebook page

I often tell the story of when I lobbied in Springfield, about the time heroin was changed from a crime to a sickness. I also talk about that being the turning point for me because at the same time we passed that law, we also passed a bill to ban flavored blunt wraps specifically, which was owned by a pair of Black businessmen.

I thought it was extremely odd that the the bill’s sponsor Senator Kwame Raoul attacked flavored blunts (which contained no tobacco and were essentially wrapping papers) but made a specific carve out to protect menthol flavored wraps. I will never forget the after the bill passed, the two Black men asking me why their business was targeted specifically.

Fast forward a few years and it all comes to light that Raoul was operating in the interests of Don Levin (a billionaire tobacco magnate) who makes his money selling tobacco products in the Black Community, essentially killing us. Additionally, I thought the Attorney General was supposed to fight Big Tobacco not work FOR them. So for ten contributions of $10,000 our potential AG candidate is willing to support Big Tobacco?

Well, at least he didn’t go cheap…

Ouch.

* I remembered when the flavored wraps language was added to the heroin bill, so I Googled it and found this story

An Illinois House committee Tuesday approved a ban on flavored cigar wraps despite concern from lawmakers that it unfairly favors one company over another. […]

Tony Abboud, a lobbyist for National Tobacco, said the two provisions were combined for political convenience, because similar bans on flavored cigar wraps have failed twice already.

Abboud said the bill is anti-competitive. National Tobacco makes chocolate chip and cotton candy flavored cigar wraps, while other flavors, such as menthol and tobacco, are specifically exempted. National Tobacco’s competitor, Republic Tobacco, makes those flavors.

“If you believe it is drug paraphernalia, why in the world would you leave unflavored wraps on the market?” Abboud said. “It is entirely and inherently inconsistent.” […]

Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, said the menthol and tobacco-flavor exemptions were requested by the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, which pointed out that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s ban on flavored cigarettes specifically exempts menthol and tobacco flavors.

Emphasis added, because as Greg Hinz reported this week, all ten of the Don Levin contributions to Raoul were companies with the same address as Levin’s holding company, Republic Group. Republic Group owns Republic Tobacco.

* On a side note, when I used the Google, this came up…

Clicking the link takes you to a post I wrote this week about Raoul and the contributions.

Obviously, I’m not running ads attacking Raoul, but somebody sure is. And that somebody is doing it in a way that avoids disclosing who is paying for it. Google shouldn’t allow that to happen, but somebody out there is violating state law.

Whoever it is, please leave me out of your little dirty trick. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


Legislative Inspector General finds 10 of 27 backlogged complaints “warrant further consideration”

Thursday, Dec 21, 2017

* The Legislative Ethics Commission has just sent a letter to all Illinois legislators summarizing a report the commission received from interim Legislative Inspector General Julie Porter about the 27 requests for investigations over the past few years. Click here or on the pic for the full letter

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      


November jobs down 1,100

Thursday, Dec 21, 2017

* Press release…

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced today that the unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.9 percent in November and nonfarm payrolls decreased by -1,100 jobs over-the-month, based on preliminary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and released by IDES. October job growth was revised up to show a larger gain (+9,300 jobs) than initially reported (+3,400 jobs).

November’s monthly payroll drop kept over-the-year job growth well below the national average. While Illinois job growth has had its ups and downs since the beginning of the year, the 3-month trend shows average gains of +100 jobs per month from September to November, while the six-month trend shows an increase of +800 average monthly job gains from June to November. The 3-month was better than reported last month, though the 6-month change showed less strength.

“Illinois employment growth saw a lot of over-the-month ups and downs this past year.” said IDES Director Jeff Mays. “But payrolls overall have increased by about a half-percent over the year to date, which is an additional 23,900 jobs.”

“Our focus remains on creating a business-friendly environment that is conducive to opportunity,” said Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Sean McCarthy. “While we are still growing slower than the nation, Illinois is seeing the benefits of a pro-business administration that is committed to fostering innovation, attracting investment and creating jobs.”

In November, the three industry sectors with the largest gains in employment were: Professional and Business Services (+6,300); Manufacturing (+2,200); and Construction (+2,100). The three industry sectors with the largest payroll declines were: Government (-2,800); Financial Activities (-2,200) and Other Services (-2,100).

Over-the-year, nonfarm payroll employment increased by +25,900 jobs with the largest gains in these industry sectors in November: Financial Activities (+13,600); Professional and Business Services (+9,500); and Education and Health Services (+7,400). The industry sectors with the largest over-the-year declines include: Government (-8,000); Leisure and Hospitality (-1,800); and Trade, Transportation and Utilities (-1,400). Illinois nonfarm payrolls were up +0.4 percent over-the-year in sharp contrast to the nation’s +1.4 percent over-the-year gain in November.

The state’s unemployment rate is +0.8 percentage points higher than the national unemployment rate reported for November 2017, which held at 4.1 percent. The Illinois unemployment rate is down -0.9 percentage points from a year ago when it was 5.8 percent. At 4.9 percent, the Illinois jobless rate is -0.8 percentage points lower than January 2017.

The number of unemployed workers dipped -1.0 percent from the prior month to 313,800, down -16.2 percent over the same month for the prior year. The labor force increased 0.3 percent over-the-month and declined by -0.9 percent in November over the prior year. The unemployment rate identifies those individuals who are out of work and are seeking employment. An individual who exhausts or is ineligible for benefits is still reflected in the unemployment rate if they actively seek work.

…Adding… Illinois Working Together…

Today, the Illinois Department of Employment Security announced the state lost over 1,000 non-farm payroll jobs last month while the job growth rate was just 0.4% over-the-year, far below the national job growth rate of 1.4%. This news comes a day after the U.S. Census announced Illinois has lost nearly 34,000 people since mid-2016, the worst outmigration for any U.S. state.

In his 2014 inaugural address, Gov. Bruce Rauner said, “People are leavin’ to find jobs, or because they run companies, and they’re takin’ their jobs with `em.” Nearly three years into his term as governor, Rauner not only has failed to reverse Illinois’ economic stagnation leading to population loss, he’s made things much, much worse.

“Bruce Rauner promised to ‘bring back Illinois,’ but instead, we’ve gotten the Rauner two-step: stagnant job growth and record-high outmigration,” said Illinois Working Together Campaign Director Jake Lewis. “Instead of providing the economic stability needed to grow new jobs and attract new residents, Rauner’s failed leadership continues to drag Illinois’ economy down and push Illinoisans out.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - Berrios spox says Tribune story “extremely unbalanced and, typically, unfair” *** ILGOP, Kaegi react to new Tribune story on Berrios

Thursday, Dec 21, 2017

* The story referenced below is here. From the ILGOP…

“There’s a reason why J.B. Pritzker is silent on his allies’ use of patronage - Pritzker has been on the receiving end of Blagojevich patronage himself. If elected, J.B. Pritzker would use state government to dole out patronage jobs to his allies and cronies of Madigan’s Chicago Machine. Illinois taxpayers can’t afford J.B. Pritzker’s tacit approval of patronage and corruption.” - Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Aaron DeGroot

Two weeks ago, ProPublica Illinois and the Chicago Tribune published their latest installment in a bombshell report exposing the incompetence and corruption of Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios. The report said Berrios “failed” at his job and allowed political allies like Mike Madigan to profit from faulty assessments.

Now, ProPublica Illinois and the Chicago Tribune are out with yet another extensive investigation into Joe Berrios’ office. This time, it’s exposing his use of patronage, favoritism, and nepotism. From the investigation:

    Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios has never made any secret of his affinity for old-school politics that put a premium on loyalty and favors.

    … The monitors’ reports, reviewed by the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica Illinois, reveal a persistent pattern in Berrios’ office of improper hiring and firing, arbitrary staffing decisions and resistance to change. The pace of reform has been slow and the assessor’s commitment often tepid, records and interviews show.

Berrios, who is backing J.B. Pritzker for governor, isn’t the only Pritzker supporter who has a problem with patronage. Pritzker supporters Jesse White and Mike Madigan both have been accused of a “pattern of patronage” in their offices and using state agencies to put loyal precinct captains in plum state jobs.

But why is J.B. Pritzker silent on his allies’ use of patronage?

Because he’s dabbled in their same corrupt system himself. Pritzker was on the receiving end of Blagojevich’s patronage, receiving a state appointment and attempting to get another. If elected, J.B. Pritzker would use state government to dole out patronage jobs just like his crooked allies - Blagojevich, Madigan, White, Berrios, and more.

* Kaegi campaign…

Following is a statement from Fritz Kaegi, the progressive Democrat running against embattled incumbent Assessor Joe Berrios in the March 2018 primary election, in response to the latest Chicago Tribune and ProPublica investigative report on nepotism and political patronage in the Cook County Assessor’s Office.

“Reports that Joe Berrios continues to operate in flagrant violation of the Shakman Decree confirms what many have known for years–that the current Assessor is only concerned with lining the pockets of his family and connected political allies while the taxpayers of Cook County continue to pick up the tab.

“When we began our campaign, I committed to fully implementing all Shakman requirements– and going beyond them to give the taxpayers of Cook County the confidence they deserve in a property tax assessment system that is fair, equitable and transparent for all. Cook County’s is the largest assessor’s office in the country, and needs staffers that are qualified and committed to reforming the assessment process. Cook County has the diverse talent needed to fix this problem and we are committed to building a diverse, qualified workforce that reflects our communities and protects our values. Berrios’ corruption, nepotism and patronage places an unbearable economic burden on working families already struggling under the Trump and Rauner administrations’ backward economic policies.”

*** UPDATE *** From the assessor’s office…

The writers of this Tribune story selectively omitted many key facts. These facts were given to one of the writers as part of approximately 27 emails and 11 phone calls over seven weeks.

The important information the Tribune did not present to readers includes that the court-appointed Monitor for Shakman accepting the Assessor’s Office Employment Plan four years ago (11/22/13). A new Monitor later decided to change that acceptance and start virtually from scratch.

The result was another year-and-a-half before implementation of the plan. Clearly, that lengthy delay was not due to the Assessor’s Office being “slow” to comply.

This story also states that the Assessor’s Chief of Staff was “rarely involved” in Shakman compliance efforts but it fails to note we hired a new Chief of Staff nearly three years ago. Three years. This new Chief of Staff has ordered complete compliance with Shakman.

Further, a new human resources chief was hired nearly three years ago. The current HR chief has also been aggressive and thorough with the goal of complete Skakman compliance and we are now at the point of full material compliance; only technical points remain. Most of what the Tribune wrote about is years-old.

Numerous references were made to the firing of the Director of Compliance (DOC), Deborah Ellis, but the Tribune failed to mention that the Shakman Monitor agreed to that change. It would not have happened without Shakman’s consent. A new DOC was hired nearly two years ago.

The Tribune’s choice to include none of these facts made the story extremely unbalanced and, typically, unfair to Assessor Berrios. It is also unfair to the Assessor’s Office HR Director, HR personnel and Shakman-specializing attorney who have brought us to near-completion of our goal of full Shakman compliance.

Tom Shaer, Deputy Assessor for Communications
Cook County Assessor’s Office

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


Question of the day: Golden Horseshoe Awards

Thursday, Dec 21, 2017

* The 2017 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Legislative Liaison goes to Mike Mahoney

He served as the governor’s top legislative liaison for the first seven months of this year. His determination, affability and old-school grit held the House and Senate GOP caucuses together longer than anyone ever imagined. Mike was the glue that held the caucus together and kept Jim Durkin sane all the way to the end. Rauner never understood and never appreciated how much Mahoney did to keep him in the game for additional months. Along the way, he helped broker major criminal justice reforms and a laundry list of agency initiatives that Rauner now takes credit for. Mahoney also should win this year hands down for the integrity and class he demonstrated during the Great Purge - walking out in solidarity with people he respected and doing so with grace. And even after all of that, Mahoney saved Rauner’s behind during veto session, devoting his every minute to keeping GOP members off the right to work bill. Effective, determined, creative, loyal and courageous. He is someone we should celebrate during this holiday season - a bright spot in an otherwise depressing year.

Agreed.

Honorable mention goes to Eric Lane with the Comptroller’s office. I’ve generally been looking for nominees who had discernible accomplishments this year, so both fit that bill.

* The 2017 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best In-House Lobbyist goes to Steve Selcke and the rest of AT&T’s Statehouse team

Straight-forward, honest, and always has an answer. This year he successfully navigated (well, almost there right now) the telecom rewrite, 911 issue, and the small cell bill. Some big lifts indeed.

Yep.

* OK, on to today’s categories…

* Best Statewide Officeholder

* Best Statehouse Insider

As always, please explain your votes or they won’t count and do your very best to nominate in both categories. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


Sun-Times wants Rauner apology to WBEZ

Thursday, Dec 21, 2017

* The Sun-Times editorial board says Gov. Rauner owes WBEZ an apology for claiming that it canceled his monthly interview show over partisan politics. The paper also picked up on this recent Rauner quote

What’s frustrating to me and many people around the state is how biased a lot of the media is around Chicago, around the state. Biased for the status quo. Biased for, you know, against the changes that we’re recommending. The bias is, is hard to overcome.

The paper opines

We stake our livelihood, as journalists, on the notion that facts matter, but an awful lot of people don’t seem to agree. The president’s constant harangue about “fake news” — when the news is anything but — has gotten serious traction. It’s even become an American export, used by brutal strongmen around the world to deflect any honest criticism.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, and a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, among others, have all in recent months complained of “fake news.”

Does Gov. Rauner really want to go down that low road?

There is a reason the charge of “fake news” sells in countries where democracy goes to die.

Seems a bit dramatic.

Either way, the governor really needs to stop whining and deflecting blame about almost everything under the sun. It’s just so tiresome.

- Posted by Rich Miller   45 Comments      


Tribune does its own top 10 list

Thursday, Dec 21, 2017

* From the Tribune’s “Top 10 Illinois political stories of 2017″

1. Republicans break with Rauner as Madigan leads major income tax hike, ends budget impasse. The effects of this blockbuster development that unfolded over Independence Day weekend are still reverberating, an event that reframed Illinois politics both for the rest of the year and likely for 2018 as well. […]

2. Lisa Madigan won’t run again, sets off crowded race to succeed her. Once considered a lock to run for governor, Madigan surprised the Illinois political world by announcing she wouldn’t seek a fifth term, a month after she said she’d go again at the state fair. The pent-up political ambition on the Democratic side was evident, as eight Democrats filed to run the March 20 primary election.

3. J.B. Pritzker enters governor race, quickly consolidates support, sets Democratic self-funding record with $42.2 million. The billionaire Gold Coast Democrat has been on TV all year introducing himself to voters and attacking Rauner. Kenilworth businessman Chris Kennedy held the early lead in public opinion polls, but Pritzker has overtaken him.

4. State school funding formula revised for first time in decades. School districts missed state aid payments as the budget lawmakers passed was contingent on a rewrite of the state funding formula also becoming law. Rauner spent months criticizing versions of the bill as a CPS “bailout,” and he even vetoed one that lawmakers put on his desk. But desperately needing a win as he mapped a re-election bid and needing to avoid taking blame if schools started shutting down without state funding, Rauner cut a deal with Democratic legislative leaders. He listed it as his No. 1 accomplishment this week.

Your own nominations?

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


Ives says Democrats are all running on pot, taxes and spending

Thursday, Dec 21, 2017

* Tom Kacich

Ives insisted that she could win a general election with her fiscally and socially conservative agenda.

“Yes, I can absolutely win the general election,” she said. “Look, the Democrats have destroyed the state and the people know that. And what are all the Democratic candidates selling you? Recreational marijuana, higher taxes, more spending.

“Is anybody buying that shtick? Anybody? No, and that’s the entire agenda of those folks.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   52 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Mentally ill prisoners subjected to medieval “treatment”

Thursday, Dec 21, 2017

* Bruce Rushton

The inmate was mumbling. Shaking. Clearly in a psychotic state and whispering about a black hole.

The black hole had already demanded, and received, his blood once, the inmate told Dr. Pablo Stewart, a psychiatrist who visited Pontiac Correctional Center last fall to determine whether the state was abiding by a settlement agreement crafted to improve care for mentally ill inmates. Now, the inmate told Stewart, the hole wanted more blood. Stewart says that he turned from court-appointed monitor to clinician, attempting convince the inmate that the black hole wasn’t real.

After a few minutes, the inmate was returned to his segregation cell, where mentally ill inmates who misbehave spend as many as 23 hours a day locked up alone, Stewart testified this week in U.S. District Court in Peoria. It could be worse. Inmates deemed seriously suicidal are sent to crisis cells where they are restrained to beds without mattresses, legs spread and shackled down, Stewart testified, their arms shackled and extended above their heads, as if stretched out on medieval torture racks.

“You get cramps and charley horses,” said Corrie Singleton, a Pontiac inmate who testified that he’s been so restrained seven or eight times for as long as 72 hours at a stretch since September. Once every two hours, guards loosen restraints, one limb at time, for eight minutes, Singleton said. He always picks his left arm. His right arm, Singleton explained, is dislocated, and so it is strapped down near his side instead of pinned down over his head, next to his left arm.

Testifying telephonically and fresh from a straitjacket, Singleton said Tuesday that he has been on suicide watch for six days after swallowing batteries. He had been allowed a shower and a chance to brush his teeth just once during that time, he testified in a flat voice, blinking little as he stared into the camera. He said he last had a one-on-one session with a mental health counselor in September. […]

Singleton is the face of a mental health disaster in Illinois prisons, according to attorneys for inmates who’ve been battling in court since 2007, attempting to force improvements. Inmates in 2015 agreed to abandon a consent decree, hoping that Gov. Bruce Rauner’s offer to settle the case without a decree would result in faster change. That, according to the plaintiffs, hasn’t happened, and so they’re back in court hoping for a judicial order to enforce the settlement agreement.

An inmate identified only as Tyler committed suicide in October after unsuccessful attempts in April and July that resulted in no significant change to his written treatment plans, which contained no mention that he had attempted to take his own life, according to Stewart’s testimony and court exhibits. Entire pages of the treatment plan form describing Tyler’s condition and what should be done to help him were left blank, and that’s typical, Stewart testified.

“This isn’t an outlier,” testified the doctor, who told the court that treatment plans routinely contain boilerplate language that doesn’t change from inmate to inmate.

Approximately 900 of the 1,100 inmates in segregation in state prisons are mentally ill, according to court records. Mental health professionals who check on mentally ill inmates must shout at them through small openings in cell doors that preclude inmates and those who are supposed to help them from seeing each other, Stewart testified. It’s a vicious cycle, with segregation cells making sick inmates even sicker, which prompts more misbehavior, which results in more segregation time. They cut themselves and smear their bodies with feces. The state last spring began giving mentally ill inmates more time out of segregation cells by shackling them to chairs in front of big-screen televisions that show movies, which Stewart acknowledged is progress.

Go read the rest.

*** UPDATE *** IDOC director John Baldwin…

The Illinois Department of Corrections has taken considerable steps to enhance the delivery of care for offenders who are on the mental health caseload. The Department remains focused on fully complying with the terms of the Rasho v Baldwin settlement agreement. It should be pointed out that, at a recent hearing, Dr. Melvin Hinton was called as an adverse witness. The vast majority of the questions he was asked required “Yes” or “No” answers. In other words, there were very few opportunities for him to explain the many accomplishments the Department has made in the 18 months since the Agreement was signed. It is important for the public to know the following:

    · While recruiting qualified mental health professionals has been a challenge, the Department has added hundreds of new staff members since 2015 to address the mental health needs of its offenders.
    · Department staff continues to receive ongoing training, including National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) training and Verbal Judo, which equips them with the knowledge to deescalate situations and meet the unique needs of its mentally ill population.
    · The Department has reduced segregation time by 44% since 2015 and has drastically increased out of cell time for offenders who are housed in segregation.
    · The Department has implemented additional programming for offenders who are on the mental health caseload.
    · Currently, there are seriously mentally ill residents receiving residential treatment level services at Joliet Treatment Center and the residential treatment units at Logan and Dixon Correctional Centers.
    · Additionally, the IDOC enlisted the services of an engineering firm to develop a state-of-the-art, 200 bed mental health and general medicine treatment unit for seriously mentally ill offenders.

The safety of our staff, the offenders in our custody, and the public are our top priority. The Department continues to make adjustments in its day to day operations that balance safety, security, and the needs of our mentally ill population. The Department remains committed to ensuring that mentally ill men and women receive the treatment that is essential to their wellbeing, rehabilitation and reentry into society.

- Posted by Rich Miller   39 Comments      


Is an appointed school board all about the CTU?

Thursday, Dec 21, 2017

* The Chicago Reader takes a look at the arguments for and against the city’s appointed school board

Proponents argue that having the mayor appoint the board increases accountability—if you don’t like the board’s actions, elect a new mayor. But this is sort of like blaming Toyota if your Uber is late. There are no checks and balances on the board’s tax decisions. Neither the mayor nor the City Council can veto those votes.

Just to put a fine point on how insane this is: We elect members of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District board, but not the school board. We vote on something like 30,000 judges every election, but not the people responsible for the stewardship of, among other things, special education dollars for the kids who need it most.

And an elected school board isn’t exactly a fringe idea. According to education advocacy group Illinois Raise Your Hand, 94 percent of school boards around the country are elected, and Chicago’s is the only one in Illinois appointed by law. Several nonbinding referenda over the last few years have shown again and again that Chicagoans want to elect their boards. So what’s the argument for having the board appointed by the mayor?

Supporters of an appointed board say it removes politics from the board’s composition. If you ignore for a second that Chicago has run on patronage since its inception, this still makes very little sense. An elected school board would represent the diverse viewpoints of members’ constituencies the same way any legislative body does. But an appointed board only represents one point of view: the mayor’s. What the politics-free argument truly is after is a board that will oppose the Chicago Teachers Union.

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      


The cover-up always gets you

Thursday, Dec 21, 2017

* There are two parts to the latest WBEZ story on Legionnaires’ disease at the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy. One is the six-day period between August 21 of 2015, when Illinois Public Health Director Nirav Shah claimed the administration “realized that the situation was the beginning of an epidemic,” and August 27 of 2015 when the Rauner administration issued its first public notice about that epidemic

In the email, Shah underlined “six days” for added emphasis, but it is not clear why. His reference to a “typical reporting protocol” also is not fully explained, with a spokeswoman on Wednesday saying there is no “hard and fast rule” about when the public must be notified about an infectious disease outbreak. […]

One of the nation’s top infectious disease experts said it’s “mind boggling” that the state would wait six days to notify the public about the initial outbreak at the Illinois Veterans Home.

“I think it’s really inexcusable,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Center for Health Security in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. “It takes you six days from seeing an epidemic to tell people that you’re seeing an epidemic? That’s six days that you’ve allowed that disease to spread in a manner that probably wouldn’t have happened if you would have known earlier because people would have been taking action. People would have been asking questions.

“If you know there is an epidemic, you need to tell people immediately,” Adalja said.

Keep in mind that Legionnaires’ is not typically passed from person to person. So, it wasn’t an “epidemic” in the way, say, measles can be. But by not informing the public, facility residents and their families couldn’t take precautions against the epidemic - like getting tested if they showed symptoms, or even temporarily moving out.

What’s worse to me is that top government officials knew what was going on and apparently didn’t order testing of everyone showing symptoms and then people died as a result.

* The second revelation in today’s story is about more Legionnaires’ cases this year that were not previously disclosed to the public

Meanwhile, Illinois public health officials are now telling WBEZ that five residents and one employee at the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy were sickened by Legionnaires’ in 2017. That outbreak included one fatality, an 88-year-old Korean War veteran from west suburban Lisle in early November.

As recently as two weeks ago, the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, which manages the Quincy home, had confirmed just three cases to WBEZ and disputed that Legionnaires’ caused the veterans’ death last month. But the coroner in Adams County confirmed Legionnaires’ as a cause of death on the resident’s death certificate.

In late October, when the state confirmed two cases of Legionnaires’, including the fatality, WBEZ explicitly asked a state Veterans’ Affairs spokesman whether there had been any additional cases. The spokesman responded by email saying there had not been. In a Dec. 6 interview with WBEZ, Jeffries also cited three cases.

But this week, after learning more cases did exist in 2017 beyond those two — and a later case in November that the state disclosed — WBEZ was told by state public health authorities that, in fact, six Legionnaires’ cases have been logged this year at the Quincy facility.

Arnold, the state Public Health spokeswoman, said on Wednesday that one case occurred in March, another in May, another in September, two in October, and one in November. She did not provide any other details about those cases.

What the heck is going on over there?

* Meanwhile

Rauner defended his administration’s handling of the problem of Legionnaires in the water at Quincy Veterans’ Home in downstate Illinois which has led to 13 deaths since a major outbreak in 2015.

However, are demanding details and accountability.

“If he’s in charge he definitely bears responsibility, but you have to ask him if he’s in charge,” said state Sen. Tom Cullerton, chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee.

Cullerton said he hopes to get answers during a hearing next month. The joint Senate and House hearing on the Quincy situation is set for Jan. 9 in Chicago.

“Who knew what, when they knew it, why the families weren’t there, what the long term goal is, what the CDC’s going to do going forward,” Cullerton said.

…Adding… Pritzker campaign…

“Bruce Rauner’s willful negligence is coming into focus as reports expose significant delays in releasing information and a failure to report all confirmed Legionnaires’ cases,” said Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh. “This administration hid information from Veterans, their families, and the public as Rauner let a health crisis spiral out of control and our nation’s heroes died on his watch.”

…Adding… Ives campaign…

“The Governor has a moral responsibility to those who are served by the state. He must ensure that services are delivered efficiently, meet the highest standards possible, and that they are, ultimately sustainable. When it becomes clear that the state is not living up to those responsibilities, the Executive Officer must then respond with urgency.

“Since his election in 2014, it become clear that Governor Rauner is very cavalier with other people’s lives. While Rauner plays his blame-shifting game with other IL ruling class pols, veterans died. Preventable deaths aren’t prevented when no one is in charge. Sweeping issues under the rug and breaking promises has become a common theme. This is another inexcusable betrayal of our veterans and the benefits they earned protecting our freedoms. Wasn’t Bruce Rauner the guy with business savvy who was going to make state government more efficient and responsive? He is AWOL and Illinois veterans are being short-changed as a result.”

…Adding… DGA…

“Bruce Rauner failed Illinois veterans and now he’s failing the public by not being honest,” said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “So far, there’s been no accountability from Rauner’s administration for its bungled response to the Quincy outbreak. Rauner needs to stop hiding information, and start being open and transparent about what his administration knew and how it failed the veterans at Quincy.”

* Related…

* Drink water at vets’ home linked to deaths? ‘Absolutely,’ Rauner says: Gov. Bruce Rauner on Wednesday defended his administration’s response to a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at a state veterans’ home, saying he’d “absolutely” drink the water there. “Absolutely, absolutely,” Rauner said when asked by a reporter about drinking the tap water at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy, where 13 residents have died from Legionnaires’ disease since July 2015.

* CDC: How It Spreads: After Legionella grows and multiplies in a building water system, that contaminated water then has to spread in droplets small enough for people to breathe in. People can get Legionnaires’ disease when they breathe in small droplets of water in the air that contain the bacteria. Less commonly, people can get Legionnaires’ disease by aspiration of drinking water. This happens when water “goes down the wrong pipe,” into the trachea (windpipe) and lungs instead of the digestive tract. People at increased risk of aspiration include those with swallowing difficulties.

- Posted by Rich Miller   51 Comments      


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