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“Rauner was treated like a conquering hero”

Thursday, Jan 11, 2018

* Not a great lede from the Tribune

More than two years after Legionnaire’s disease killed a dozen residents at a state-run veterans home in Quincy, Gov. Bruce Rauner on Wednesday said he would convene a task force to look at how to best overhaul the facility and prevent another outbreak. […]

The governor, however, provided little in the way of details about how he plans to achieve that, beyond laying out some broad ideas for the task force to explore. That includes the possibility of replacing pipes, exploring whether to change the water source from the nearby Mississippi River, and constructing a new building on campus to improve resident rooms.

Ouch.

Even so, the governor received the most positive media coverage since before his staff purges.

* AP

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner emerged Wednesday from a weeklong stay at a military veterans home beset by a deadly Legionnaires’ outbreak and announced that the state would replace the plumbing at the sprawling, 130-year-old site.

He told reporters that cutting-edge water distribution would quickly advance his goal of “zero risk” of Legionnaires’ at the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy, where the disease has contributed to the deaths of 13 residents since 2015 and sickened dozens more veterans and staff members.

“The goal is, latest technology on material, latest technology on water flow,” Rauner said. “We do not want any places where any water could be standing for any period of time.”

Rauner, a Republican, also said he would assemble a group of experts to determine whether a state-of-the-art dorm should be built and whether a safer groundwater source was available for the home.

* ABC 7 topped the AP

Gov. Bruce Rauner showered and drank the water at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy for the last week during his stay at the facility where 13 people have died of Legionnaires’ disease since 2015.

On Wednesday, Rauner held a press conference to talk about his stay at the veterans home where he ate and slept with residents. He also laid out his long-term plans for addressing water safety concerns.

“What I’ve determined being here and living here is, okay, let’s take it to the next level. Now let’s fundamentally change, replace and upgrade our water systems for this campus,” said Rauner, who toured the 200-acre campus and followed the water management team around during his stay.

The governor said they will be developing plans for a new plumbing system and work could begin in the coming weeks. He said he has secured a funding commitment from lawmakers, but will be looking to federal partners and philanthropists to contribute.

* Sun-Times

He slept in the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy. He drank the water. He got schooled in “Connect Four.” And he walked to the public shower with a towel wrapped around his waist.

Breaking his public silence after spending a week at the troubled state-run home, Gov. Bruce Rauner also said he wants to replace and upgrade “water systems” there and is considering the possibility of a brand-new facility on the campus.

* CBS 2 topped them all

Since 2015, 13 veterans have died from a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy. Now, after his weeklong stay at the troubled home, Gov. Bruce Rauner is vowing to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

The governor has taken some heat for the response to the outbreak. Now, however, CBS 2 Political Reporter Derrick Blakley reports Rauner received nothing but love while promising change.

In fact, after seven days of visits, chats, card games, shared meals, and even the same medical tests as the residents, Rauner was treated like a conquering hero.

* Meanwhile, you don’t usually see state government press releases issued on a Sunday, but IDPH did just that on January 7th

A water pipe in the building that houses the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Chicago Laboratory at 2121 W. Taylor St. in Chicago burst Sunday morning, damaging several areas of the laboratory and pieces of equipment. IDPH has notified the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Illinois Central Management Services. Emergency clean-up crews are on site.

The IDPH Chicago laboratory performs testing for environmental hazards, arboviruses, pathogens, newborn screening, novel diseases and potential biological threat agents. Examples include Zika virus, Ebola, Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria, influenza, measles, tuberculosis, meningitis, rabies, cystic fibrosis, plague, environmental lead, and more./blockquote>

OK, so that release seems quite responsible. All sorts of bad things could’ve happened (Ebola!), so the public should most definitely have been made aware of the potential hazards as soon as possible.

But if IDPH could immediately notify the public about the flooding of its testing lab, why do its top officials still insist that waiting 6 days to tell residents and their families about an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease was perfectly fine?

…Adding… Press release…

Irked by three years of inaction from Gov. Bruce Rauner, State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) filed legislation this week to begin fixing infrastructure problems at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy.

“Governor Rauner has had three years to come up with a long-term solution to protect these heroes of our nation, and during that time, 13 people have died from the spread of Legionnaire’s disease,” Cullerton said. “My hope is this time the governor will realize the severity of inaction and do his job to provide our veterans the service and care they deserve, not more bureaucratic red tape and band aids.”

Cullerton aimed to kick start progress at the facility by filing Senate Bill 2308, which would authorize infrastructure improvements at Illinois’ flagship veterans home. The improvements would include updates to the water systems or new construction to prevent the spread of Legionella bacteria.

A veteran himself, Cullerton serves as the Chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and is leading the way to a legislative fix to the spread of Legionnaire’s disease at any Illinois veterans home.

State Representative David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills), the chief sponsor of the bill in the House, is working on building a bipartisan coalition to ensure speedy passage in that chamber once the bill clears the Senate.

During the Veterans Affairs Committee hearing this week, Gov. Rauner’s agency directors made their first request for additional funding to begin construction and renovations at the veterans facility despite the three-year outbreak and 13 deaths at the facility.

“If we in the general assembly knew additional funds were needed to improve living conditions and eliminate risk factors for Legionella at this facility, it would have been approved in a heartbeat,” Cullerton said. “Sadly, we are once again waiting on the governor for answers and results.”

On Wednesday, the governor punctuated a weeklong, well-publicized stay at the Quincy facility with a theatrical press conference calling for funding to either fix water piping systems throughout the complex or build a whole new facility.

“The Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy is a home for our heroes. Not a hotel for the governor to check in and out of,” Cullerton said. “Now that he’s had his picture taken, I would hope the governor’s office will submit legislative language within the next week to begin discussions on how to prevent the death of even one more United States Veteran.”

While Cullerton is committed to fixing the problems with the infrastructure at the facility, he said he was impressed by the care and the staff at the facility during a recent tour.

“The care and service residents receive there is exceptional,” he said. “The staff comes to work every day and gives our veterans and their loved ones their very best. Still, our heroes shouldn’t have to wait three years for the governor’s “world-class” work.”

Cullerton is hoping to have some answers from the governor’s office within the next week.

“At the end of the day, 13 brave heroes have died on the governor’s watch,” Cullerton said. “We cannot afford to lose another warrior to a preventable disease. Let’s get to work and give our veterans the service and care they deserve.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

20 Comments
  1. - Juice - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 11:10 am:

    Rich, “you don’t usually see state government press releases issued on a Sunday”

    Pat Quinn wasn’t governor that long ago.


  2. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 11:16 am:

    A task force, nearly three years after the first deaths.

    Pay no attention to that governor behind the curtain; he’s not in charge.


  3. - Honeybear - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 11:17 am:

    In all caps
    I write this
    At the top of my lungs
    I scream this

    Perfidy
    Perfidy
    Perfidy

    Scream perfidy the next time you see
    Bruce Rauner in person

    It is perfidy because
    His agency
    Just made their first
    Request for additional funding
    Staying there, drinking there
    Is perfidy
    Forming a commission is
    Perfidy
    Requesting funding
    Is governing

    Scream perfidy


  4. - Gruntled University Employee - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 11:19 am:

    2+ years and millions of dollars addressing the problem after the incident he had the courage to spend the weekend there? If he had pulled this publicity stunt 2 weeks or even 2 months after the deaths I might have bought it. Too little, too late.


  5. - Jocko - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 11:21 am:

    I (dis)like how Channels 2 and 7 gloss over the fact that this occurred during Bruce’s watch.


  6. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 11:35 am:

    First and foremost,

    Thank you to Tony Arnold and Dave McKinney for their hard work avd dedication to this story, and to Rich Miller for having this tragic story here to read and the work you’ve done on this story.

    Top shelf, the three of you.

    To that with the Post,

    Rauner’s vertical integration will try to cobble a story of an engaged Governor with a task force, and an administration working hard to say being less transparent is being quite engaged.

    Rauner held, rightly or wrongly, Quinn accountable and while Rauner claims not to be in charge, and that he and his administration have done “exactly” what was needed to be done, the tragedy that has happened wil now be defined by how successful Rauner can use vertical integration to push his take, or how visible the works of Arnold and McKinney, Rich Miller, and others… like giving timelines and facts… are seen too.


  7. - Annonin' - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 11:47 am:

    What is most amazing is that WLS & WBBM actually sent reporters to Quincy 2 years, 13 deaths, +$7 million spent, Chicago vets home undone and GovJunk proclaims the need for a robe and a task force. Clearly his polling is showin’ this is a political death sentence for him


  8. - Swift - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 11:52 am:

    Seems odd the Chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is acting surprised about something that happened in 2015. I can help set up a Google news alert for Illinois Veteran’s Homes if he needs help because obviously 3 years of inaction on his part haven’t done much to make anything better either.


  9. - Sigh - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 12:07 pm:

    —Rich, “you don’t usually see state government press releases issued on a Sunday”
    Pat Quinn wasn’t governor that long ag—

    I think the point is: was notifying the public about a water pipe issue that damaged part of a lab truly worthy of public notification? How many people might have been impacted by the water damage in the lab?

    If IDPH can notify the CDC and the public immediately about water damage in the laboratory that performs “testing for environmental hazards, arboviruses, pathogens, newborn screening, novel diseases and potential biological threat agents” then why did IDPH wait 6 days to tell an at risk population at the Quincy Veterans Home and their families about legionella?

    At the time of the water damage did IDPH have any samples of “Zika virus, Ebola, Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria, influenza, measles, tuberculosis, meningitis, rabies, cystic fibrosis, plague or environmental lead” pending? How did IDPH determine what testing examples to include in their press release- item that they could test for or items that were actually being tested? Was the clean up crew or any Illinois resident at risk of contracting Ebola as a result of water leak/damage?

    I have to agree with Rich on this one.


  10. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 12:19 pm:

    –I think the point is: was notifying the public about a water pipe issue that damaged part of a lab truly worthy of public notification? How many people might have been impacted by the water damage in the lab?–

    The overkill here definitely calls into question Rauner and Shah’s claims that they notified everyone regarding the outbreak at Quincy in a proper and timely manner.


  11. - Henry Francis - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 12:34 pm:

    Rauner overcorrects on issuing IDPH press releases.

    Rauner overcorrects on Rivian. (See above post)

    Considering all that he needs to correct, I fear we are gonna be seein’ a lot of overcorrectin’


  12. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 12:36 pm:

    Three years and 13 lives short. And *now* he’s expediting things. We’ll watch with keen interest if he vetoes those express repair funding bills or not.

    This is management by crisis, crises that need not have happened, if he hadn’t put a brick on state funded operations for so long. Would state infrastructure, from roads and bridges, to state fair historic buildings, to state hospitals - be in bad condition like this if Rauner hadn’t blocked budgets for two years?

    I’m thinking, these vets didn’t die for their country - they died (indirectly) for the sake of Rauner’s quest of “stigginit” to the unions by creating a crisis. They are the cost and “collateral damage” of the “leverage” Rauner wanted.

    I don’t doubt there are many more lives disrupted, and worse, from the social safety net being rent asunder by Rauner’s cuts and lack of payments for all this time.


  13. - Roman - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 12:57 pm:

    As much as he likes to complain about his press coverage, the governor can still count on Chicago TV news outlets for a big, no-questions-asked wet kiss when he needs one. (With the exception of Mary Ann Ahern at NBC 5 and Tahman Bradley at WGN.)


  14. - Chris Widger - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 1:00 pm:

    ==“At the end of the day, 13 brave heroes have died on the governor’s watch,”==

    “Brave.” Wow.


  15. - Macbeth - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 1:48 pm:


    We’ll watch with keen interest if he vetoes those express repair funding bills or not.

    No, the real thing is gonna be when the bills don’t pass. It’ll be Madigan all day, and Rauner will have a new issue to politicize.

    If the bills don’t pass, he’ll be 100% immune to criticism, too.


  16. - xyz - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 4:13 pm:

    @ Chris Widger - What’s wrong with using the word “brave?” It’s often used to describe those who serve/have served in the military. These are veterans, remember?


  17. - Mama - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 7:35 pm:

    Did the Legionnaire’s disease only kill residents at a state-run veterans’ home in Quincy? Did any residents of Quincy (outside of the veteran’s home)die from Legionnaire’s disease? Why not solve the water problem for the veterans’ home & the whole city at the same time?


  18. - Anon - Friday, Jan 12, 18 @ 7:19 am:

    Rauner-”I care about safety”

    Well can you explain the multiple federal audits saying IL is short staffed in Occupational Safety at both the federal and state level.


  19. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Friday, Jan 12, 18 @ 8:41 am:

    “these heros of our nation.” Yup. Veterans. What is wrong with calling them heros?


  20. - FunnyIfItWasntSoSad - Friday, Jan 12, 18 @ 10:45 am:

    “The Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy is a home for our heroes. Not a hotel for the governor to check in and out of,” Cullerton said. “Now that he’s had his picture taken, I would hope the governor’s office will submit legislative language within the next week to begin discussions on how to prevent the death of even one more United States Veteran.”

    While Cullerton is committed to fixing the problems with the infrastructure at the facility, he said he was impressed by the care and the staff at the facility during a recent tour.”

    Funny to hear a legislator saying the gov should be writing the legislation and then calling him out for visiting the facility (which Cully, himself, just visited).


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


* Reader comments closed for the weekend
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