* Monday is my “Christmas with Rich Miller” speaking gig and I’ve decided to just shut down for the day, so I’ll be back on Tuesday. If you’re going to the event, don’t forget to bring a toy for kids 2-5. Whether you’re going or not, you can donate to Lutheran Social Services of Illinois by clicking here. You’ll be able to watch the luncheon address live at the Chicago City Club website.
* WJPF’s Tom Miller asked Gov. Rauner today how he fights back against the blame he gets…
It’s such spin baloney. Tom, you understand the truth. You see both sides and you’re reasonable on these points. 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 reality though is that truth comes out. People of Illinois are gonna see the truth. The reality is our system has been rigged. It’s broken, it’s dominated by a corrupt Chicago political machine that makes them and their money, their cronies a lot of money. And it costs the people of southern Illinois higher taxes and more job losses.
* The 2017 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Government Spokesperson is, for the first time, a group award…
The Governor’s comms staff, prior to the July purge. They all played a thankless role in muzzling a lot of craziness. The best argument in support of their nomination is what happened when they weren’t there. Chaos.
* The 2017 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Campaign Staffer goes to Galia Slayen…
For giving the Illinois GOP a taste of their own medicine and ferociously taking Bruce Rauner to task. There isn’t a smarter, quicker, sassier campaigner in the game right now and Pritzker is lucky to have her.
The other campaigns are gonna murder me for that one, but she received some very strong nominations and she deserves it.
* And now let’s move along to today’s categories…
* Best State Agency Director
* Best Illinois Congresscritter
Yes, these are somewhat divergent topics, but please do your very best to nominate in both categories. Also, explain your votes or they won’t count. Thanks.
Today, JB for Governor released a new digital ad, “I Will Be In Charge,” highlighting Bruce Rauner’s excuses for his failed leadership, and JB’s commitment to taking charge as the next governor of Illinois.
“Bruce Rauner has done nothing but create crisis and destruction for Illinois’ working families while he’s been in charge,” said Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh. “Illinoisans deserve a governor in Springfield who will actually lead the state, stand up to Donald Trump, and get real results for Illinois families. Unlike Bruce Rauner, when JB Pritzker is governor, he will be in charge.”
Bruce Rauner unleashed 736 days of a budget crisis on our state. He destroyed jobs and opportunities. Our schools and social services suffered, and families across the state have paid the price. And after all of that, he has the nerve to look you in the eye and say, ‘I’m not in charge.’ If I’m elected governor, when it comes time to passing a state budget, I will work with every elected official in Springfield, Republican or Democrat. And to be clear, I will be in charge. When the LGBTQ community needs my voice, when the Dreamers need my protection, when people of color need my commitment to justice and women everywhere need me to say, ‘we believe you,’ you will find me standing right there next to you. I will be in charge. And when Donald Trump attacks our values, undermines our institutions, tries to pit one American against another, I won’t stand by. I will be in charge. Illinois deserves better than Bruce Rauner. Illinois deserves a leader.
* Emptying out my in-box. Listed from newest to oldest. This afternoon…
IL Attorney General Candidate Sen. Kwame Raoul received the formal endorsement of Congresswoman Robin Kelly today.
“I need a partner in the Office of the Attorney General who understands the plight of our communities and has a record of getting things done for us. Since filling President Obama’s seat in the state senate, Kwame has fought tirelessly to pass laws to keep us safe and reform our criminal justice system. Kwame’s work has led to laws which modernize our juvenile justice system, place tougher accountability measures on police, strengthen the state’s gun laws and prioritize prosecuting violent criminals instead of locking up low-level non-violent offenders,” said Congresswoman Kelly who represents the 2nd Congressional District.
During her time in the legislature, Congresswoman Kelly served with both Kwame and his predecessor Barack Obama.
“I’ve seen Kwame’s dedication to the critical issues in this race first-hand during my time in Springfield. We worked together in the legislature to protect victims of sexual assault and domestic violence,” added Kelly.
As a legislator, Kwame has also fought to pass the Illinois Voting Rights Act along with a constitutional amendment to protect voting rights, the law to expand the ACA to more Illinoisans and worked with Attorney General Madigan to prevent sexual assault on our college campuses. He’s vowed to continue those fights and more as the next Illinois Attorney General.
· As a father, he’ll join other attorney generals from across the country in the fight against Donald Trump and his Secretary of Education’s attempts to eliminate Obama-era Title IX guidelines on campus sexual assault investigations.
· As a cancer survivor, he’ll fight against the Trump White House’s defunding of cost-sharing subsidies which help lower the cost of health care for millions of Illinoisans.
· And as the author of the Illinois Voting Rights Act and a constitutional amendment protecting voting rights, he’s working to end the state’s use of Donald Trump’s Crosscheck program.
“Congresswoman Kelly has been a voice for the voiceless throughout her career in public service. She has been a champion of efforts to expand economic opportunity, community wellness, and public safety across the state - championing numerous initiatives to generate job growth, reduce health disparities, and end gun violence. I’m proud to call her a friend and thankful for her endorsement today,” said Raoul.
* This morning…
Today, Daniel Biss announced the endorsement of State Representative Will Davis.
“I’m excited to announce my support for Daniel Biss,” said Will Davis. “For decades, Springfield has left my constituents behind—whether we’re talking infrastructure investments or school funding, we’re always hearing that there just isn’t enough money to go around.
“This election is an opportunity to change that. We can elect a progressive legislator with real budget solutions, a community organizer dedicated to amplifying all of our voices, and a middle-class father we can trust to stand on our side. I’m proud to announce my endorsement today and to organize my community to join in as well.”
“It’s an honor to receive Will Davis’ endorsement,” said Daniel Biss. “A tireless public servant with an unwavering commitment to improving public education in Illinois, Will led the charge for school funding reform this summer and is sure to be a powerful advocate for our state’s children in years to come. Fully and fairly funding our schools is a years-long battle and a top priority of mine—that’s why I’m so proud to have Will as an ally in the legislature, on the campaign trail, and when I’m governor.”
* Also this morning…
Today, Ameya Pawar, progressive alderman and current member of the Chicago City Council, announced his endorsement of Marie Newman’s bid to represent the 3rd District of Illinois. Pawar joins a growing list of progressive people and institutions who are lending their support to Newman’s campaign.
“Marie Newman is a fighter committed to social justice. You see, while politicians like Bruce Rauner and Donald Trump bully people and communities with their divisive politics, Marie has been recognized nationally for her efforts to combat bullying in schools,” said Ameya Pawar. “She’s worked for many years to promote common sense gun reforms and as an advocate for cancer research.”
“Marie’s candidacy presents us with a choice: elect a progressive who believes we rise and fall together, or continue with more of the same entrenched and divisive politics,” said Pawar. “This is what makes her candidacy compelling and inspiring. By supporting Marie, we are supporting an agenda for all of us. An agenda which includes more funding for public education, Medicare for All, and greater support for working families across our nation. The choice couldn’t be clearer.”
“I am honored to have earned the endorsement of a pragmatic progressive like Alderman Pawar,” said Marie Newman. “He and I share a vision of the future in which American working families have a fair shot at realizing the American Dream. I look forward to tapping into his policy expertise as we map out a path for revitalizing the 3rd District.”
* Yesterday morning…
Today, Democratic Candidate for State Senate, Ram Villivalam (IL-8) announced the endorsement of Fmr. Gubernatorial Candidate & Alderman Ameya Pawar.
“I am proud to endorse my friend Ram Villivalam for State Senate. As a Gubernatorial Candidate, I worked hard to shine a light on how Bruce Rauner and Donald Trump use race, class, and geography to divide people and communities against each other.” said Alderman Ameya Pawar. “The best way to fight their divisive and bigoted politics is to unite people and communities. Ram will do just that because his whole career has been focused on bringing people and communities together for social justice. Having worked to pass legislation to raise the minimum wage, guarantee paid sick leave, and better working conditions, Ram was one of the organizers fighting in the trenches to build coalitions to help me pass these progressive policies. Ram knows how to get things done and he’s the kind of effective leader we need in Springfield.”
“I am honored to have earned the endorsement of Alderman Pawar,” said Ram Villivalam. “Alderman Pawar led a grassroots movement across the state of Illinois, which recruited more than 3,000 volunteers and 2,500 donors on the message of unity and that government does have a vital role in giving people a hand up and a push forward. I hope to follow in Alderman Pawar’s footsteps of using my progressive principles as the foundation of working together to pass substantive legislation.”
On November 27th, Ram filed 2,700 petition signatures, more than 2.5 times the amount needed and which was collected by more than 50 grassroots volunteers to become an official candidate for State Senate in the 8th District of Illinois. Ram raised approximately $90,000 in his first month on the campaign.
Ram also announced the endorsements of U.S Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, U.S. Congressman Brad Schneider, U.S. Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, State Senator Laura Murphy, State Representative Theresa Mah, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago Commissioner Josina Morita, the Illinois State Association of Letter Carriers, UFCW Local 881, and the Indo-American Democratic Organization.
Jesse White: This is Secretary of State Jesse White. Let me tell you about my friend Joe Berrios. Growing up in Cabrini Green, Joe learned early on the importance of hard work, commitment and giving back. That’s exactly what he has done as a public official. As Cook County Assessor he has protected homeowners, made the office more accessible while cutting his staff 25 percent. Please join me, Jesse White, in supporting Joe Berrios for Cook County Assessor.
Announcer: While Joe Berrios works to reform a broken system, investment banker Fritz Kaegi profited off of it. Kaegi managed a fund that invested nearly $30 million in private prisons. Prisons where minority women faced abusive guards and detainees died suspiciously. The company he invested in even pushed for harsher sentencing laws. Fritz Kaegi saw prisons as a way to make money. He is no reformer.
* Eric Zorn: Desperate Berrios and the ‘Republican’ lie: Kaegi’s camp fired back, calling the ad a “malicious lie,” saying the prison investments were made by others after he stepped down and declaring that “there is not a single document listing (a private prison company) as a holding that also lists Fritz as a portfolio manager.” Does the Berrios campaign have such a document? I asked Thursday and didn’t receive a response by my deadline. But even if they did … really? Is Berrios so desperate that he wants to make the campaign about ethical asset management in areas utterly unrelated to the duties of the assessor? And that he thinks branding his opponent as a secret Republican is the key to re-election?
The analysis shows a large percentage of first-pass reassessments under Berrios remained the same over multiple reassessment periods. For example, 51 percent of the approximately 40,000 PINs in the analysis had the same first-pass value for the 2012 reassessment as the 2009 reassessment. For the 2015 reassessment, 39 percent of first-pass values were identical to the 2012 reassessment. Twenty-three percent of first-pass values were the same for all three reassessment periods.
By comparison, just 1 percent of first-pass values for the 2003, 2006 and 2009 reassessments conducted under Houlihan stayed the same from one reassessment to the next.
In cases when the first-pass values didn’t change, many of the property owners filed appeals and won reductions that lowered their tax bill – only to see the value snap right back to the same first-pass value during the next reassessment. [Emphasis added.]
* I asked ProPublica for the numbers behind its “many of the property owners filed appeals and won reductions” line and here’s what they sent..
Of the parcels that saw no change in assessment, 77 percent had appeals filed on them. Of the ones that had appeals filed on them, 74 percent won a reduction, only to have the value snap back to the same number.
Why would so many of those property values snap right back to the previous values? Could this be some sort of deliberate make-work scheme for tax appeals attorneys, who often make money based on the amount they successfully reduce assessments on appeal and who then contribute to Assessor Berrios’ campaign committee?
In other words: Lawyer gets client’s property value reduced on appeal, lawyer gets cut from client, lawyer makes Berrios contribution; assessor’s office assigns pre-appeal value during the next round of assessments, lawyer again gets client’s value reduced on appeal, lawyer again gets cut from client, lawyer again makes Berrios contribution; assessor’s office again assigns pre-appeal value during the next round, and etc. ad infinitum.
* The assessor’s office sent me a long reply that pointed out what it claimed were some real problems with the ProPublica/Tribune story. The reply (click here) did not fully answer my question, however, so I sent them this…
OK, but I don’t see anything in your response that addresses why a property that was assessed at a certain level and then had the value lowered on appeal would then have the valuation snap back to the old level again at the reassessment.
I’ll also point out this statement from the Trib story: - “There is no rationale for having no change in these initial valuations,” said Richard Almy, former executive director of the International Association of Assessing Officers. “Especially if the assessor later agreed to a reduction, there’s no earthly reason for them to go back to the same value.”
* The assessor’s reply…
That is incorrect. Among the “earthly” reasons would be if the reduction-on-appeal were based on new data about revenue of an income-generating commercial building. Again, valuation of income-generating commercial buildings is done based on numerous factors, and revenue is tremendously important in the income-approach-to-value method of assessment used in for commercial buildings in Cook County.
We should never assume the revenue figures are the same for the next triennial, sometimes not even for the next single-year period. Therefore, a reduction-on-appeal may not be the fairest figure the next time around. In many of those cases, we consider the original (pre-appeal) number to once again be a reasonable starting point.
Still other reasons for returning to the former number as a reasonable starting point are:
· Turnover of previously below-market leases, resulting in increases built into the new leases (more revenue)
· Past reduction was based on the loss of a major tenant and revenue. That loss has since been made up and revenue is higher than in the period which had resulted in the return to the former Assessor First-Pass number.
· Improving market conditions
· New triennial change in the underlying land value
· Prior damage now repaired
· New construction/added square feet making up for the reduction in value that was granted on appeal, thus raising the former lower-by-appeal number back to the original Assessor First-Pass figure
Speaking to reporters after a speech in Chicago on Dec. 4, Gov. Bruce Rauner predicted a re-election victory in next year’s gubernatorial race and warned of dire tax consequences if any of the three main Democratic candidates for the post win.
“You know what will happen? We will get a massive income tax hike. The candidates controlled by (House Speaker Michael) Madigan, all of them have said, ‘The answer to our problems is a massive income tax hike,’ ” Rauner said, referring to Democratic candidates Daniel Biss, Chris Kennedy and JB Pritzker.
All three have stated they support replacing Illinois’ flat-rate income tax with a system in which those with higher incomes pay higher rates. […]
Despite Rauner’s examples, a progressive income tax system does not necessarily mean a tax increase for the middle class. And there is no evidence that anyone in Illinois politics has a blueprint for income and tax brackets under a potential Illinois system. The closest such blueprint, from 2012, had the vast majority of voters paying the same or lower taxes.
Nor is that decision up to the governor. It would take three-fifths of the General Assembly and a majority of voters to bring a progressive tax to reality. Recent history does not point favorably to this happening without significant Democratic gains in the Legislature.
Pritzker was squishy when discussing immediate revenue needs with Crain’s, but Rauner cites the Crain’s article as Pritzker’s solid endorsement of a “massive tax increase.” We rate Rauner’s statement Mostly False.
Two of 10 lawsuits filed against the state of Illinois claim the Illinois Veterans Home knew of the presence of the water-borne bacteria Legionella in its facility by July 2015 and did not notify the residents or their families about the issues.
They also claim that when two residents became ill and exhibited fevers, they never were tested for Legionella by medical personnel at the facility.
The Herald-Whig obtained the lawsuits from the Illinois Court of Claims through a Freedom of Information Act request. An 11th lawsuit is expected to be filed. […]
In the lawsuit filed on behalf of the family of Melvin Tucker, who died Aug. 31, 2015, at the age of 88 from a Legionella pneumophilia infection, the family claims that daily nursing logs in July 2015 showed Tucker was doing well. But the family claims that on Aug. 21, 2015, Tucker told the staff that “he did not feel well and was concerned that he was sick.” The family claims further logs noted that Tucker had a fever and issues with his lungs. He reportedly was given Tylenol, but the suit says no further action was taken.
“By August 27, 2015, Mr. Tucker was very anxious about his health and it is noted that he informed his priest that he was fearful he was going to die,” an exhibit from the lawsuit said. “Finally, on this date, the staff took a urine sample and confirmed that he was in fact positive for Legionella.”
August 27th is highlighted for a reason.
Consult the timeline we talked about yesterday. Veterans Affairs Director Erica Jeffries claims that the remediation cleanup started on August 21st. Since I posted that timeline yesterday, IDPH Director Nirav Shah has told me that his agency was informed by the county health department on August 5th about the first case and was notified about the second case on August 21st (individual cases are pretty common everywhere, but when a second case is found, it’s more cause for alarm). On August 23rd, the CDC was formally notified of five confirmed cases. The governor’s office was notified on August 24th.
And yet, it wasn’t until August 27th that Tucker was finally tested even though he was exhibiting classic symptoms?
* Oh, and by the way, in the midst of all this, on August 25th, Gov. Rauner and IDVA Director Erica Jeffries did a photo op in Springfield with some veterans…
* Rep. Jil Tracy, who represents the Quincy area, told me today that she would “not hesitate about putting my father into the veterans’ home.”
It does appear that the veterans’ home has upped its game since then. They’ve had a couple of outbreaks since 2015 and they’ve both been contained. “It’s a great place for anyone to live,” Tracy insisted.
* I think one thing that local leaders are really worried about is the potential for closure. From WBEZ’s report...
Sen. Durbin tells WBEZ far more dramatic steps are necessary in light of the most recent legionellosis cases in October and November.
He said the state must move the Quincy home’s nearly 400 veterans and their spouses to a safe place until its century-old plumbing system is fully free of the waterborne bacteria that killed residents. If that isn’t possible, the state should build a new home, Durbin said. […]
“I want an admission by the governor that we have failed these veterans, and we need to do something immediately on an emergency basis to protect those who are there to make sure this never happens again and, if necessary, to replace this facility,” said Durbin, who along with fellow Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, has endorsed candidate J.B. Pritzker to be their party’s nominee to challenge Rauner as the potential GOP candidate in the 2018 gubernatorial election.
“What we have now lurching from year to year is a situation that’s embarrassing, and it’s an insult to these veterans and their families,” Durbin said.
* Pritzker campaign…
“Allegations of failure to notify families and test residents are appalling and more evidence of Bruce Rauner’s gross mismanagement and neglect,” said Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh. “Sadly, this is only the tip of the iceberg as many more details remain unknown, which is why Bruce Rauner must immediately release all communication about the Legionnaires outbreaks in Quincy.”
Two new reports out today added more questions about Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration’s response to the tragic Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Quincy Veterans’ Home. Ultimately, 13 people died in 2015. The Herald-Whig obtained lawsuits that detail how residents were not tested or treated in a timely fashion, despite showing symptoms of the disease. Why did the Rauner administration not take more aggressive steps to ensure everyone was tested and cared for knowing the deadliness of the disease?
Secondly, Capitol Fax reported Governor Bruce Rauner attended a veterans’ honor flight with his Veterans’ Affairs Director after the Governor’s office was informed of the outbreak, but before the public was alerted. This meeting calls into question Rauner’s role in the then-unfolding situation at the Quincy Veterans’ Home. Was Rauner briefed by his Veterans’ Affairs Director during this meeting? Did Rauner and the Director talk about when the public should be informed?
So far, Rauner’s administration has done nothing to address the questions raised by WBEZ’s heartbreaking account from Wednesday. As new information leaks out, those questions will only grow.
“Bruce Rauner’s administration already failed veterans at the Quincy home, and now he is refusing to be transparent about what happened,” said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “The families of the deceased should not need to find out what happened to their loved ones through press reports. Rauner needs to come clean about what he knew when, and what he did about it. This is not the time for Rauner to simply duck accountability for his administration’s failures like he always does.”
Moody’s Investors Service is seeking comments from market participants on proposed changes to its methodology for states’ general obligation credit ratings, which would include an increased emphasis on states’ debt and pension obligations.
Under the proposed changes, debt and pension obligations will have a 25% weight on state credit ratings, up from 20% currently. The individual state’s economy, another factor in Moody’s ratings, will also have a 25% weight, up from 20%. Governance will fall to 20% from 30% and finances will be maintained at 30%.
The debt and pension factor “is critical because debt and pension obligations are the primary long-term liabilities that states have,” Moody’s said in an announcement on the proposed changes Tuesday. “As these liabilities grow, states face rising expenses to pay debt and pension benefits. High fixed debt service and pension costs can crowd out other budgetary priorities and force states to raise taxes in order to meet them. Debt and pensions can curtail a state’s budgetary flexibility and heighten the risk that it will seek to deleverage through a debt restructuring.”
The Illinois Policy Institute’s news service notes this potential change and concludes it “could make Illinois the first state whose bonds fall to junk status.”
Fitch Ratings agency put out their 2017 State Pension Update this week. It shows that Illinois’ pension crisis is the worst in the nation at more than $151 billion. That’s $60 billion more than second worst New Jersey’s liability.
“Six states have long-term liability burdens that Fitch considers elevated [in excess of 20 percent of personal income],” the report said, “with Illinois carrying the highest liability burden at 28.5 percent of personal income.”
Fitch Senior Director Doug Offerman said taxpayers should care because the burden takes up more than 28 percent of all personal income in Illinois, “which is essentially a proxy for the wealth level, the resource base of a given government.” […]
“For the last several years the [pension] increases did grow faster, and I would say do crowd out other spending that might have otherwise taken up organic revenue growth,” [Fitch Ratings Senior Director Karen Krop] said.
If anyone thought the holiday season would caused politicians to tone down the snark, guess again.
In fact, Gov. BRUCE RAUNER is using the holiday spirit to take another shot at his favorite target, House Speaker MICHAEL MADIGAN. At brucerauner.com we have #ThanksMike where you can “show your thanks to Mike Madigan this holiday season.” You enter your name, email and zip code and then type in a message.
A couple of messages are already posted. Gary says, “I am Mad Again at Mike Madigan. Please resign and make Illinois a better place.” Becky writes, “Thanks, Mike, that pretty soon, my property taxes will be so high, that I will be moving out of this state. I have no obligation to pay for your corruption.”
Clearly, Rauner is providing an outlet for people moved by the spirit of the season.
* The Kankakee Daily Journal profiles Jason Helland, who is the Republican candidate for secretary of state…
But [Secretary of State Jesse White], who has been in office since 1999 and is the longest-serving secretary of state in Illinois history, also is part of the problem, Helland said.
“Our biggest problem is career politicians who have burnt Springfield to the ground,'’ he said.
Helland considers himself the antithesis of these office holders. “I’m extremely ordinary,'’ he said. He also expanded on how his common background paved the way for success.
He was raised on a Grundy County farm and is a member of the Seneca High School Class of 1994. During his junior year, he began working at the Eagle Country Market in Morris. He remained there until 2000 and worked most jobs the grocery store had to offer.
The experience proved invaluable when he first ran for state’s attorney. He was considered an underdog in the race, but those making that assessment didn’t take his background into account.
“People discounted me in 2012,'’ he said. “But by working at the Eagle market, I knew everybody in town. A lot of people watched me grow up.'’