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Pritzker wants Rauner to release veterans’ home documents

Thursday, Dec 14, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I’ve seen the Pritzker campaign’s FOIA request and would suggest they amend it to include communications from the governor’s current chief legislative liaison Darlene Senger, the GOP comptroller candidate who sent an e-mail last night advising the administration to try to tie this Illinois Veterans’ Home scandal to US Sen. Tammy Duckworth…

Today, the Pritzker campaign announced that it will submit Freedom of Information Act requests to Governor Rauner’s office to seek details surrounding Rauner’s fatal mishandling of Legionnaires’ disease at the Quincy Veterans’ Home. JB Pritzker is also calling on the Rauner Administration to release all communications responsive to the FOIA request.

The FOIA requests will seek email correspondence between the Governor’s office, Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that reference the disease. It will also seek the public release of the $5 million contract to upgrade the Quincy facility’s water system, including the metrics required to show its successful completion, and all DVA and CDC reports, protocols and evaluations relating to the multiple outbreaks.

“While an independent investigation must be launched, Illinois families and those who lost loved ones deserve immediate answers and transparency from their governor on his mishandling of the Legionnaires outbreak in Quincy,” said JB Pritzker. “It shouldn’t take a FOIA request to get answers for this unconscionable negligence, so I’m calling on Bruce Rauner to immediately release all requested communication about the Legionnaires outbreak. Despite Rauner’s attempts to minimize the severity of this crisis, brave heroes lost their lives year after year and it is time for those responsible to be held accountable.”

…Adding… DGA…

Yesterday, WBEZ/NPR released a heartbreaking story about the death of 13 people at the Quincy Veterans Home due to Legionnaires’ disease. WBEZ recounted how Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration was slow to notify the public about a major outbreak in 2015. Despite Rauner promising his administration has a handle on the disease, outbreaks have occurred the past three years in a row contributing to the death of someone this year.

This is not the first time Rauner’s failed the state’s veterans. In 2015, Rauner halted construction of residential veterans’ home in Chicago due to budget constraints. Brown of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the closest facility to Chicago has a three-month waiting list, a gap this building was supposed to bridge. Now, some 30 months later construction has not restarted.

In 2016, Rauner bragged that he had cut $800 million in “wasteful spending” from the budget. On that list? The Chicago veterans’ home.

“Bruce Rauner has it wrong – caring for veterans is not wasteful spending,” said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “Rauner’s misplaced priorities put political talking points ahead of fulfilling the pledge made by Illinois’ citizens to veterans. Rauner’s administration failed to care for Illinois’ veterans, but he’s too concerned with dodging responsibility than to show leadership on the issue. Now is the time for Rauner to step up.”


  1. - Arsenal - Thursday, Dec 14, 17 @ 9:23 am:

    == the GOP comptroller candidate who sent an e-mail last night advising the administration to try to tie this Illinois Veterans’ Home scandal to US Sen. Tammy Duckworth…==

    This is very reminiscent of the last season of “The Thick Of It”.

  2. - cdog - Thursday, Dec 14, 17 @ 9:27 am:

    Duckworth may have known something.

    They should also Foia employee discipline records and see what problems existed at that level, chronic patterns that weren’t handled with resident safety as first priority.

  3. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Dec 14, 17 @ 9:27 am:

    ===…the GOP comptroller candidate who sent an e-mail last night advising the administration to try to tie this Illinois Veterans’ Home scandal to US Sen. Tammy Duckworth…===

    I had to read that twice.

    The suggestion is…

    “… you’re not in charge. You need to blame another governor’s appointed… for the tragic events during your term. Oh, you can’t blame Blago, can’t have a governor own this, so remember, it’s Duckworth” - Fake memo meaning.

    I’m so disheartened, angry, sad… what is wrong with…

  4. - Roman - Thursday, Dec 14, 17 @ 9:34 am:

    The Senger email is a bombshell and really stupid…it’s now gonna be nearly impossible for Rauner to credibly criticize his opponents for politicizing the deaths of veterans.

  5. - WasAnon - Thursday, Dec 14, 17 @ 9:35 am:

    It’s hard to believe once, long, long ago, elected officials were looked up to by adults and children. Aspire to be mayor, governor, president. Quaint reminiscences- sad and discouraging.

  6. - anon - Thursday, Dec 14, 17 @ 9:37 am:

    duckworth v kirk
    rauner office
    full of kirk staffers and allies
    help kirk politically by tying dva to duckworth?
    governing or politics?
    someone should keep foiaing and asking lots of qs

  7. - Arsenal - Thursday, Dec 14, 17 @ 9:38 am:

    Also, this was probably said yesterday, but I’m reminded of Rauner’s pressure on the Sun-Times to oust McKinney.

    “Don’t Shoot and Miss.”

  8. - cdog - Thursday, Dec 14, 17 @ 9:40 am:

    Duckworth left IDVA in Feb 2009, even if she did know anything it definitely was not her problem to fix.

    She had been gone over six years, so even if Duckworth had been given a report of terrible conditions on all levels, with what reasoning could Benedict Rauner tie her this?

  9. - Roman - Thursday, Dec 14, 17 @ 9:41 am:

    Anon @ 9:37

    Wasn’t most of Kirk Crew removed during the summer purge?

  10. - Sugar Corn - Thursday, Dec 14, 17 @ 9:43 am:

    The more that comes out the more appalling this is.

    JB and crew should not relent in their call for answers.

    Darlene, you’ve undercut the finger-wagging by your Republican brethren (eg Paul Schimpf) to “not politicize” this.

  11. - Sigh - Thursday, Dec 14, 17 @ 9:47 am:

    1. Is Darlene doing political work on state time?
    2. A FOIA should be sent to IDPH.

    “On August 30, 2015, IDPH requested aid from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for epidemiology and environmental health assistance. Yesterday, three CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service Officers and one environmental health specialist arrived at the Illinois Veterans’ Home – Quincy to work with IDVA and IDPH in investigating the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak. CDC will also provide laboratory support from its headquarters in Atlanta, GA.”’-disease-outbreak-illinois-veterans’-home-quincy-update

  12. - cdog - Thursday, Dec 14, 17 @ 9:53 am:

    Rauner’s mysterious motivations strike again.

    Please allow me to introduce myself
    I’m a man of wealth and taste…
    …But what’s puzzling you
    Is the nature of my game.

    (Heavy beats and a master-level lead from Motorhead cover.)

  13. - Chris Widger - Thursday, Dec 14, 17 @ 10:09 am:

    ==It’s hard to believe once, long, long ago, elected officials were looked up to by adults and children. Aspire to be mayor, governor, president. Quaint reminiscences- sad and discouraging.==

    This is a positive development in society. People are not more perfidious than they were; we just see them more clearly.

  14. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Dec 14, 17 @ 10:12 am:

    ===Darlene Senger, the GOP comptroller candidate who sent an e-mail last night advising the administration to try to tie this Illinois Veterans’ Home scandal to US Sen. Tammy Duckworth===

    Congratulations Darlene Senger. You are today’s “Worst Person in Illinois.”

  15. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 14, 17 @ 10:29 am:

    Chris Widger. There’s truth in what you say, maybe the friendly press back then didn’t know, or report what they did know. But, I do believe we are in a declining age of ‘virtue’
    (a reviled term today) as compared to decades past. We’ve lost perspective, we’ve lost faith in each other, especially those that run the government. Saturated newsfeeds, diminished respect for the values that have served us well for a few hundred years. I sound like my grandma, I know, but dammit, it’s true, and I worry about my grandchildren. There. Now I’ll go crack open a beer and watch “It’s A Wonderful Life”…..a few times.

  16. - Gettysburgaddress - Thursday, Dec 14, 17 @ 10:32 am:

    There needs to be an immediate full GA investigation of the Quincy Veterans Home situation. What did the Governor know and when did he know it?

  17. - Sigh - Thursday, Dec 14, 17 @ 10:50 am:

    ==What did the Governor know and when did he know it? ==

    Well…December 4, 2015 CDC Memo to Nirav Shah (IDPH Director)Page 22:

    “This outbreak occurred in a setting with no formal water management plan, no Legionella specific prevention plan, limited previous Legionella testing both clinically and environmentally, and limited monitoring of water treatment parameters making conclusions regarding the Legionella risk prior to the outbreak investigation period impossible. However, our investigation did reveal multiple potential exposures that may have resulted in the large outbreak experienced at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy, Illinois. Widespread colonization of the highly pathogenic outbreak Legionella strain identified throughout the facility’s potable water and cooling tower, an at-risk population, and one or a combination of plausible scenarios consistent with either a contaminated aerosolized plume or contaminated potable water bolus dissemination likely explains the explosiveness of the outbreak.”

  18. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Thursday, Dec 14, 17 @ 10:55 am:

    ===Darlene Senger, the GOP comptroller candidate who sent an e-mail last night advising the administration to try to tie this Illinois Veterans’ Home scandal to US Sen. Tammy Duckworth==

    Congratulations Darlene Senger. You are today’s “Worst Person in Illinois.”===

    Senger had better have some rock-solid evidence on Duckworth to support that kind of finger-pointing because that kind of memo would definitely come out at some point. If not, Mendoza is gonna make mincemeat out of her over this.

  19. - FormerParatrooper - Thursday, Dec 14, 17 @ 11:27 am:

    Seriously we need to get this fixed, move the residents somewhere more hygienic then start the investigations. Apparently our State government can’t do two things at once, so do the most logical thing and move the residents now.

  20. - Olivia Pope - Thursday, Dec 14, 17 @ 11:34 am:

    Hey Darlene,

    I don’t think you were around in 2016, so if the report is true about your email, then I will help you out with some background information. Your boss has knowledge of this situation -“We’re really on top of the situation,” Rauner said (link to article below). I know he recently said he was not in charge, but in 2016 he was really in top of this situation. .

    Governor Rauner visits Quincy Veterans Home-July 2016…

    Rauner says the water is being boiled 150 degrees above what it has been, and he says the water is being treated with the strongest chemicals safely possible to try to kill any bacteria. He says the bacteria, which thrives in warm water, shows up naturally in the water source. He says when the water, which is treated by the City of Quincy, leaves the city’s treatment facility and arrives at the veterans’ home, it’s had time to get warmed up along the way, making it tough to treat.

    “Monitoring and testing,” Rauner said. “We test every possible way that water comes in contact with the residents. We’re testing this at a scale that’s never been done before.”

    Rauner says the state is working with Blessing Hospital to ensure any resident showing signs or symptoms of pneumonia gets immediate medical care and has their temperature checked every two hours. The state sent an alert to doctors throughout the region to let them know about the cases so that anyone with signs or symptoms of pneumonia can be checked for Legionnaire’s disease. He says the home is monitoring, testing and taking swabs.

    “We’re really on top of the situation,” Rauner said.

  21. - Moe Berg - Thursday, Dec 14, 17 @ 12:01 pm:

    I nominate Darlene Senger for the Saxby Chambliss Award for Extraordinary Smearing of a Decorated American War Hero. Chambliss ran one of the most disgusting political campaigns in the nation’s history, which is saying something, attacking the patriotism of Sen. Max Cleland, a triple amputee Vietnam veteran and juxtaposing him in a television ad with Osama bin Laden.

    Congratulations, Darlene! Saxby is no doubt very proud of you for your attack on Sen. Duckworth.

  22. - Gettysburgaddress - Thursday, Dec 14, 17 @ 12:29 pm:

    13 dead veterans/spouses. What did Governor Rauner know and when did he know it?

  23. - Rusty Jones - Thursday, Dec 14, 17 @ 12:32 pm:

    We were really on top of the situation, before we weren’t…

  24. - Sigh - Thursday, Dec 14, 17 @ 1:29 pm:

    Since the Governor was on top of this situation in 2016, then I guess we must question who is really in charge at IDPH and Veterans Affairs. What are their qualification and how often do they communicate with the Governor and his staff? The first outbreak occurred in 2015 and people died. In 2016 more people became sick. In October - November 2017 more residents became sick. Yet, in Dec 2015 the CDC made corrective recommendations. {sigh}

  25. - wordslinger - Thursday, Dec 14, 17 @ 1:43 pm:

    ===…the GOP comptroller candidate who sent an e-mail last night advising the administration to try to tie this Illinois Veterans’ Home scandal to US Sen. Tammy Duckworth…===

    That’s just as brilliant a play now as when Kirk was running it. Real deep, original thinkers at BTIA(TM).

    Strangely enough, voters couldn’t be convinced that the war hero who lost both legs getting blown out of the sky over Iraq was indifferent to the plight of veterans. Go figure.

    Look, Rauner has been telling us from Jump Street that if he didn’t get his legislative agenda that Illinois wasn’t worth saving. He didn’t get it, and won’t.

    Given that, plus his actions and hires in office, and his appalling nursing home management record in the private sector, what would make anyone think that he was looking to run a tight ship as chief executive? That’s not what he got into this for.

  26. - Gettysburgaddress - Thursday, Dec 14, 17 @ 4:48 pm:

    What did Governor Rauner know and when did he know it? Governor Rauner last year “We’re really on top of the situation.”

  27. - Gone now - Thursday, Dec 14, 17 @ 8:40 pm:

    Is the foia request public? If it doesn’t already, it should also be broad enough to encompass emails to and from all of the Governor’s office and IDVA officials who were there during the entire time period.

    The gov’s office should waive attorney client privilege and produce the whole lot. They won’t but should. These are our veterans we’re talking about. We civilians owe them more than we could ever give. But by all means, play cover up after these self important, incompetent blowhards have utterly failed to do their jobs

  28. - Gettysburgaddress - Thursday, Dec 14, 17 @ 10:48 pm:

    Gone now “The gov’s office should waive attorney client privilege and produce the whole lot.”

    Maybe someone should ask the EOIG what she thinks. Oh wait, she might be too busy interviewing disgruntled spouses and Thompson Center employees…. What did Governor Rauner know and when did he know it?

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