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“Men” dropped from Democratic group’s name

Monday, Jan 22, 2018

* The Illinois Democratic County Chairmen’s Association has changed its name…

In a sense, the Illinois Democratic County Chairmen’s Association no longer exists. The statewide grassroots coalition today announced a name change to better reflect the composition of their membership. The organization is now the Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association.

“The reference to ‘men’ in our name is a leftover of the past that inaccurately reflects who we are,” said Doug House, president of the IDCCA. “The Democratic Party has long engaged in the battles for equality, fairness and justice for all people – regardless of their gender. In Illinois women have served as chairs of county Democratic Party organizations for decades and, as simple as it may appear to some, our outdated name is in conflict with these facts.”

The new name requires adjustments to association material such as logo branding, websites and other social media. Additionally, legal documentation with state and federal election authorities must be adjusted. More than any other consideration, the effort is a modernization reflecting the women who currently serve as chairs of county Democratic party organizations and are members of the association. In total, 21 women serve as chairs of Illinois county Democratic Party organizations.

State law is also outdated, according to Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) who serves on the IDCCA’s recently-established Sexual Harassment Task Force. Bush is introducing legislation this year to change state statutes regarding political party references of ‘men’ to gender-neutral terminology.

“The Trump presidency and the candidacy of people like Roy Moore have propelled scores of women to get active in politics at all levels,” said Bush. “If women are elected to represent the Democratic Party in their local precinct, Illinois law still references their role as a precinct committeeman. Changing these references to committee person is as logical as ensuring equal pay for equal work.”

In 2017, IDCCA formed a Sexual Harassment Policy Task Force to address how the Association should approach training and responses to incidences of harassment. The group’s name change aims to be a meaningful symbolic reinforcement of the values of County Democratic Parties throughout Illinois.

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      

Union membership rises here, declines in neighboring states

Monday, Jan 22, 2018

* From a Rauner campaign TV ad which is no longer airing

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker: Our economy’s on fire.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens: We’re growing good jobs.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb: And we’re growing union jobs faster than Illinois.

* Politifact looked into Gov. Holcomb’s claim last November

The Rauner campaign said Holcomb’s claim is based on a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report from January 2017 on union employment and membership.

The report shows that from 2015 to 2016 — the first two years Rauner was in office — workers represented by unions in Indiana grew from 319,000 to 335,000, an increase of 5 percent. During that same time, workers represented by unions in Illinois fell by 4 percent, from 892,000 to 856,000. […]

We rate this statement True.

* But new numbers were released Friday

Illinois added 15,000 union members in 2017 while its five bordering states lost 104,000 union members.

New Bureau of Labor Statistics data released last Friday show that Illinois’ unionization rate increased by 0.5 percentage point in 2017. The number of union members in Illinois also increased over the year, from 812,000 to 827,000. At 15.0%, Illinois’ union membership rate now towers over each bordering state. The unionization rate in neighboring states ranges from 7.0% in Iowa to 9.6% in Kentucky.

The data also reveal that Illinois added more union members in 2017 than every bordering state. While the number of union members increased by 15,000 in Illinois, Indiana lost 38,000 members in 2017. Iowa lost 25,000 union members, Kentucky lost 16,000 union members, and Missouri lost 36,000 union members. Wisconsin was Illinois’ only neighbor to see an increase in union members with a gain of just 11,000 members.

Overall, the five states that border Illinois saw a net loss of 104,000 union members in 2017. While Illinois’ unionization rate increased by 0.5 percentage point, the neighboring states’ aggregate unionization rate fell by 1.0 percentage point. The decrease in unionization was largest in Iowa, which experienced a 1.8 percentage-point drop.

The state-by-state BLS data is here.

Illinois’ unionization rate went up for two reasons: 1) 15,000 new union members were added; 2) The total number of employed dropped from 5.587 million in 2016 to 5.516 million in 2017. So, not totally wonderful news.

* More from the BLS

Among full-time wage and salary workers, union members had median usual weekly
earnings of $1,041 in 2017, while those who were not union members had median
weekly earnings of $829. In addition to coverage by a collective bargaining agreement,
this earnings difference reflects a variety of influences, including variations in
the distributions of union members and nonunion employees by occupation, industry,
age, firm size, or geographic region.

* Related…

* How the Right’s War on Unions Is Killing the Democratic Party: In a new study that will soon be released as a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, James Feigenbaum of Boston University, Alexander Hertel-Fernandez of Columbia, and Vanessa Williamson of the Brookings Institution examined the long-term political consequences of anti-union legislation by comparing counties straddling a state line where one state is right-to-work and another is not. Their findings should strike terror into the hearts of Democratic Party strategists: Right-to-work laws decreased Democratic presidential vote share by 3.5 percent.

- Posted by Rich Miller   57 Comments      

Question of the day

Monday, Jan 22, 2018

* Tribune

The women of Chicago came out in force once again, with an estimated crowd of 300,000 rallying for equal rights – and against the Trump administration – at the second Women’s March Chicago on Saturday.

“The energy we saw throughout the year and continuing through today demonstrates once and for all that we are experiencing a resurgence in the women’s movement,” said organizer Jessica Scheller. “Only time will tell how much we can accomplish through it.”

Last year’s event unexpectedly shut down parts of the Loop with what organizers said was a quarter-million participants flooding Grant Park the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. While some wondered if momentum might wane over time, many marchers said cultural movements like the #MeToo and Time’s Up campaigns against sexual misconduct – as well as Trump’s policies – only increased their fervor this year.

* Fox Springfield

Millions of women spent Saturday marching.

This is the second year a nationwide women’s march has taken place following President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

One of those rallies was in Springfield.

There were at least 500 people out for the event, where they continued chanting “this is what democracy looks like.” […]

We reached out to multiple Republican leaders for their opinion on the march and have not heard back.

* Southern Illinoisan

For Jennifer Michaels, not hitting the streets of Carbondale for the 2018 Women’s March was never an option — she was going to be there no matter the elements or her personal welfare.

She definitely wasn’t alone Saturday. She was joined by hundreds of women, men, children and a few furry animals. Among several chants throughout the mile-long walk were “power to the People, power to the polls,” and “this is what democracy looks like.” […]

This year’s march’s was dubbed “March to the Polls,” encouraging all women and their allies to get involved in the 2018 primary and general elections. The march was also a celebration of the 2017 Women’s March, which also drew hundreds of people in downtown Carbondale and hundreds of thousands across the country.

* Quad City Times

Adriana McBride of Davenport liked the atmosphere of people with different voices coming together in one setting for a purpose.

She was not alone Saturday as more than 300 people, mostly women, gathered at Schwiebert Riverfront Park in Rock Island for the 2018 Quad-Cities Women’s March.


The 2018 Women’s March happened all across the world Saturday.

Tens of thousands of people in cities marched, including right here in central Illinois.

Many gathered to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Women’s March and to launch the 2018 #PowerToThePolls agenda.

The rally was held at East Peoria Riverfront Park and hundreds were in attendance.

The rally was hosted by HOI National Organization for Women & Indivisible Peoria Area.

* Kankakee Daily Journal

The Women’s March, which began when President Donald Trump was inaugurated last year, returned to the streets of America and the world on Saturday, and it was estimated about 5 million participants took part in various locations, including the Kankakee County Courthouse in downtown Kankakee.

There, about 200 marchers gathered and circled the property. One of the common chants heard during the rally was, “Build bridges, not walls,'’ an apparent protest of Trump’s plans to build a wall on the U.S. southern border.

* Register Star

Chanting and marching to the beat of drums, an estimated 1,500 people took to the streets of Rockford on Saturday to protest and take a stand for women’s rights.

This was the second march in Rockford, which began last year in response to Donald Trump’s inauguration as the country’s 45th president. This year’s march, organizers said, was meant to be more inclusive of men, harnessing the power of solidarity in protecting and advancing women’s rights. It appeared that more men and families turned out.

“I want my daughter to see, and model for her, what men in her life should do and be,” said Scott Zibell, 34, of Roscoe, who attended the march carrying a sign that read: “I look up to my wife.”

I didn’t see any coverage of the Galesburg event and the Naperville march was rolled into the Chicago event.

* The Question: Your own thoughts on the second Women’s March?

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - Assessor: Kennedy screwed up his example *** Assessor claims Kennedy’s plan has been prohibited by state courts for 70 years

Monday, Jan 22, 2018

* Let’s go to the substance of Chris Kennedy’s property tax press conference today. I originally had this Crain’s story in another post, but I moved it here

In the case of Hyatt Center, for tax purposes the building is valued at $160 million by Berrios, but it has a mortgage of $385 million––a solid indication in Kennedy’s view that the building is underassessed, shifting costs to homeowners “in the bungalow belt, and, as a result people are losing their homes.”

Kennedy said his solution bases assessments strictly on property sales, rather than on the “income” basis Berrios uses.

Berrios had no immediate response, but in the past he has suggested that the law requires him to base assessments on how much money a building makes rather than how much it last sold for, which can vary wildly at any point in time depending on market conditions.

Kennedy did not specify whether he would propose legislation to change the system, but said Democrats who long have controlled the General Assembly “did nothing to fix this system.”

Kennedy’s idea may not be as desirable as it sounds. Real estate values tend to be extremely volatile in the commercial market, and taxing bodies such as schools and City Hall need stable sources of finances.

* Kennedy was asked today if he knew why properties are assessed primarily on the income they generate rather than on sales prices and mortgage costs

I would say that it’s not surprising that occurs around the city. Joe Berrios ignores that data. He says the property’s sales value shouldn’t inform the valuation. He says that the mortgages shouldn’t inform valuation. The fact is every mortgage on anything big is recorded at the Cook County Recorder of Deeds’ office. The information is already in the hands of the county. Why we’re not using it to properly assess our buildings is a question best asked of Joe Berrios.

* From the Cook County Assessor’s office…

Mr. Kennedy demonstrates a woeful lack of knowledge about the assessment process in general, and Illinois law in particular, for commercial buildings – including buildings his family either controlled for decades or still controls.

Because commercial buildings exist solely to generate income, current income is the primary factor in the value of such buildings – as Illinois courts have stated for some 70 years. Sale prices are not primarily driven by a building’s current value. Transaction prices in these buildings are highly speculative and based on future income expected by buyers investing in buildings. They often include significant non-real estate components.

A mortgage for such a building can be based on that speculation and a discounted cash flow analysis but the Assessor, by law, cannot speculate on future income or non-real estate factors.

Mr. Kennedy was quite happy with the current-income-approach-to-value before, during and after his sale of the Merchandise Mart. The prohibition on speculative price valuation in property assessment has been bedrock of Illinois law for 160 years. He should actually become informed on the laws of this state.

To base individual assessment on a sale price is known as “sales chasing.” Sales chasing is prohibited by decisions of both the United States Supreme Court and Illinois Supreme Court as violations of equal protection under the law and the Article IX Illinois Command of uniformity in assessments.

*** UPDATE *** Oh, man, this is so bad for Kennedy. From the assessor’s office…

The Cook County Assessor’s Office assumed Mr. Kennedy would not have the temerity to state a false number, but he did. His claim is wildly inaccurate. The Hyatt Center at 71 S. Wacker is actually valued at approximately $382 million, not the $160M Kennedy falsely stated.

It is not uncommon for large commercial buildings to have multiple Property Identification Numbers (PINs). Evidently, Kennedy checked only two PINs. There are, in fact, seven PINs totaling $382M for the property at 71 S. Wacker (Hyatt Center). Clearly, he does not know how to even calculate a current, accurate assessed value.

By the way, the $382M is the Cook County Board of Review’s figure, reduced from the original, higher Assessor’s Office figure of $396M.

In addition to his failure to properly calculate value, Kennedy demonstrates a woeful lack of knowledge about the assessment process in general, and Illinois law in particular, for commercial buildings. That includes buildings his family either controlled for decades or still controls.

Because commercial buildings exist solely to generate income, current income is the primary factor in the value of such buildings – as Illinois courts have stated for some 70 years. Sale prices are not primarily driven by a building’s current value. Transaction prices in these buildings are highly speculative and based on future income expected by buyers investing in buildings. They often include significant non-real estate components.

A mortgage for such a building can be based on that speculation and a discounted cash flow analysis but the Assessor, by law, cannot speculate on future income or non-real estate factors.

Kennedy was quite happy with the current-income-approach-to-value before, during and after his sale of the Merchandise Mart. The prohibition on speculative price valuation in property assessment has been bedrock of Illinois law for 160 years. He should actually become informed on the laws of this state.

To base individual assessment on a sale price is known as “sales chasing.” Sales chasing is prohibited by decisions of both the United States Supreme Court and Illinois Supreme Court as violations of equal protection under the law and the Article IX Illinois Command of uniformity in assessments.

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      

Republican with primary opponent wants to kick undocumented kids out of health care program

Monday, Jan 22, 2018

* From what I’ve been able to determine, this was a legit poll and the question was asked just in case Dan Proft’s Liberty Principles PAC jumps into the GOP primary race for Jonas Petty

JONAS PETTY of Pittsfield had raised less than $600 in his primary race against state Rep. C.D. DAVIDSMEYER, R-Jacksonville, as of Dec. 31, but survey calls going into the district have been accusing Petty of getting outside money from a questionable source.

Petty says he is being bullied with “blatantly false accusations.”

And Davidsmeyer, who had more than $146,000 in his campaign fund as of Dec. 31, is offended by the tactic as well.

“I have nothing to do with this,” Davidsmeyer told me. “It legitimately hurts us both.” Some people, Davidsmeyer added, “are going to think that I’m behind it, and that’s not my character.”

Petty led me to some people who received “survey” calls late last week. NIKI ARCHER of Pittsfield, an accountant who supports Petty, said the caller from “Victory Processing” asked some basic questions about her intent to vote, but moved to a line of questioning that seemed to be positive toward Davidsmeyer and attacked Petty as “receiving funding from Chicago.” That funder, she was told, had also supported a “child molester.”

This sounds as if somebody might think that Petty is being supported by Liberty Principles Political Action Committee, a group that has gotten millions of dollars from Lake Forest businessman RICHARD UIHLEIN. But there’s no indication that Petty is getting such support.

You’ll recall that the HGOP is using the very same hit against House Republican Leader Jim Durkin’s primary opponent, Mickey Straub. Mike Z is running that campaign and he uses Victory’s polling, a company run by his old friend and fellow Rauner campaign vet Mike Schrimpf.

* Meanwhile, the pressures of a primary campaign, even one that hasn’t yet amounted to much, may be getting to Rep. Davidsmeyer…

Mark later tweeted that Rep. Davidsmeyer wants to confine his cuts to kicking undocumented kids off the program in order to save the state $38 million. But, of course, somebody would end up paying when those kids go to the emergency room.

* Related…

* The trouble with Medicaid work requirements: Kicking people off is one way to save money on Medicaid. But under a 1986 law signed by President Ronald Reagan, hospitals are obligated to provide patients with emergency care regardless of their ability to pay. If Medicaid doesn’t cover these bills, hospitals and taxpayers will.

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      

Martwick talks possible money-saving ideas for pensions

Monday, Jan 22, 2018

* Doug Finke talked to Rep. Robert Martwick (D-Chicago) about possible pension bills this year. Martwick chairs the House Personnel and Pensions Committee

Martwick wants to pursue a bill designed to encourage people to give up the 3 percent raises and opt for the smaller annual raises that are awarded to people in the Tier 2 plan. That plan awards annual raises of 3 percent or half the rate of inflation, whichever is less.

Martwick’s idea is to have pension systems compute how much those annual raises would amount to cover the estimated life span of a retiree. A rough estimate would then be made for the same person if they were in the Tier 2 plan and getting smaller annual increases. The person would then be offered a portion of the difference as an up-front cash payment if the person agreed to give up the Tier 1 annual increase and accept the Tier 2 version. […]

Another idea that will at least get some discussion is a massive bond issue that would be applied to the state’s pension debt. The idea is the money could be borrowed at a lower interest rate than the state is essentially paying on its $129 billion pension debt. […]

The idea is being pushed by the State Universities Annuitants Association. A fact sheet from the association says that $107 billion in bonds would be sold and repaid over 27 years. It contends the state would save $103 billion by 2045 over the payment plan currently in effect.

Martwick acknowledged “this would be the largest bond sale in the history of the world” and said additional hearings would have to be scheduled with bond experts to see if such a sale is feasible. But he also said the idea is worth exploring.

I don’t know that the state has to physically sell bonds. A buddy of mine contends that it might be able to just hand the pension systems a promissory note.

Anyway, your thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   86 Comments      

Madigan on Kennedy: “He speaks for himself”

Monday, Jan 22, 2018

* I’ve tried to find the audio of Speaker Madigan’s Q&A with reporters in Ottawa over the weekend, but I haven’t been successful

When Madigan arrived at the Knights of Columbus, he had his picture taken with well-wishers. Then, he spoke to three local reporters for a few minutes.

Madigan, who has not formally endorsed any candidate for governor, declined to answer Democratic candidate Chris Kennedy’s attacks on him. “He speaks for himself,” Madigan said. […]

Madigan said all the Democratic candidates, including Kennedy, supported a progressive income tax, which the speaker said was a big improvement over Rauner’s agenda. […]

As for his long tenure, Madigan said he enjoys his job, adding that if someone can work with people, they can get things done.

* More

Prior to his speech, Madigan briefly took questions from reporters.

Madigan rebuffed the idea he controls the state.

“The people are in control of the state,” Madigan said. “Every two years, there’s an election of the legislature.”

Madigan credited his lengthy tenure in the state house of representatives to liking his job.

“I enjoy what I do,” Madigan said. […]

He said he was in favor of an equitable model that provided more money for schools with a larger population of low-income, English-learning or otherwise at-risk students.

Madigan called state money directed toward private schools a “price” for reform.

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      

*** UPDATED x2 - Biss, Pritzker respond *** Kennedy asked about Rauner praise

Monday, Jan 22, 2018

* Chris Kennedy talked to reporters about property taxes today, but he was also asked to address his Friday comments about Gov. Rauner

Rick Pearson: Why should any Democrat be lauding Bruce Rauner? I mean, you said that he speaks truth to power. What exactly are you talking about as far as ‘the power’ [unintelligible]

Chris Kennedy: I think that, that Bruce Rauner was critical of Mike Madigan and the pay to play culture that’s present in our state. And when you, you see, when you see JB Pritzker, when you listen to that tape of him talking to Blagojevich, and this notion that big money is coming in to buy an outcome, buy an outcome maybe for him to become treasurer of the state or some other appointed position. I think that’s the culture that we need to get rid of in Illinois. We cannot have a pay to play system if we’re gonna end up with a great economy and an expanding, uh, economy that works for everyone because we’re underfunding the very institutions that lead to those good outcomes.

Greg Hinz: Do you have any regrets over saying what you said the other day?…

Kennedy: I mean, I’m running against Bruce Rauner. I campaigned against him all over the state while he was running. I’ve been an absolute critic of his behavior. I think he’s reprehensible for, for throwing a million people out of government programs. His silence against Donald Trump is beyond belief. His willingness to put Dreamers at risk is inhuman. And, and yet, and yet, and yet he’s, he’s taking on this pay to play culture that needs to be criticized.

The full Q&A video is here.

*** UPDATE 1 *** I asked the Pritzker and Biss campaigns to respond to the fact that Kennedy didn’t say he had any regrets when pressed. Here’s the Pritzker campaign’s Galia Slayen…

Bruce Rauner has done unconscionable damage to this state, stripping over 1 million Illinoisans of critical services and creating crisis after crisis. The fact that Chris Kennedy can’t stop praising Rauner tells Illinoisans all they need to know about Chris and his failed campaign.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Biss spokesman Tom Elliott…

“Chris Kennedy wants to be governor so bad he’s unapologetically copying Bruce Rauner’s playbook. Kennedy blames Democrats for maintaining the broken system he and J.B. Pritzker use to enrich themselves, and he ‘applauds’ the worst Republican governor in the country who’s made life harder for middle-class families in Illinois.

“When Kennedy applauds Rauner for speaking truth to power, does he agree the budget impasse between Rauner and Madigan was worth the lasting damage it caused to our state and working families?

“When Kennedy applauds Rauner for calling out a pay-to-play culture, is he forgetting about the politically-connected lawyers he hired to get massive tax breaks on his properties?

“And now, with the Rauner-Kennedy plan to ban lawmakers from being property tax appeals lawyers, they both fail to understand that the problem is larger than any one elected official.

“Instead of casting blame, we need a leader who will offer real solutions and work toward meaningful reforms to finally make our state work for the rest of us. Not someone who uses a crisis to score political points.

“That’s the choice we have in this election. We could have Bruce Rauner — or a copy of Bruce Rauner — for four more years. Or we can elect Daniel Biss, who knows how middle-class families like his own are struggling to make ends meet, while Rauner, Kennedy and Pritzker all take advantage of a broken system to enrich themselves and avoid paying their fair share.”

[ *** End Of Updates *** ]

* From the Pritzker campaign…

Today, Chris Kennedy held a press conference where he provided more property tax rhetoric that is at odds with his record, refused to say if he regretted “applauding” Bruce Rauner on Friday, and said “I don’t know the answer” to basic questions about his own plan.

Most notably, the basis of Kennedy’s “plan” is the idea that the building he was standing in front of was assessed for a fraction of what a bank valued the same building. However, Chris Kennedy’s Merchandise Mart benefitted from this same practice during his tenure.

THE FACTS – In 2007, while Chris Kennedy was President of the Merchandise Mart:

    * The Merchandise Mart was appraised at $917 million in documents used to obtain a loan.

    * That same year, the Assessor and Board of Review assessed the Merchandise Mart at $436,068,830, less than half of its appraised value.

    * The Cook County Assessor at the time, James Houlihan, is now a major donor and fundraiser for Chris Kennedy’s campaign.

“Chris Kennedy held a press conference to attack himself, railing against the same practice he exploited to get millions in property tax breaks at the Merchandise Mart,” said Pritzker communications director Galia Slayen. “For Chris Kennedy, it is do as I say not as I’ve done for millions of dollars in property tax breaks.”

* From Daniel Biss’ spokesman…

When you post about Kennedy’s presser, maybe include this video and transcript?

“We can let these two guys complain about whose tax scam was the worst until Bruce Rauner gets reelected. Or we can elect someone who’s not participated in a tax scam, we can elect someone who lives a normal, middle-class life, oh and by the way, elect someone whose property tax burden is a legitimately significant part of his income, because I pay more than ten percent of my income in property taxes. I’m sure neither one of you does. I don’t think it’s important to get into JB Pritzker’s head and figure out exactly what he was thinking at the moment that the toilet got removed, what I know is what happened in your two mansions is not what fifty thousand residents do a year, and what I know Chris, is that you hired the most politically-connected people on a repeated basis to get massive property tax breaks. And now you guys are both running for governor and you say that you want to fix the system. Who is actually going to fix it? Come on.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      

Andy Shaw to step down from BGA top job

Monday, Jan 22, 2018

* Press release…

Better Government Association President and Chief Executive Officer Andy Shaw will be stepping down from his day-to-day responsibilities at the nonpartisan, nonprofit civic watchdog organization later this year.

Shaw, 69, has led the BGA since 2009 after spending 37 years as a print and television journalist in Chicago.

Under his leadership, the BGA has grown from a staff of three people and a budget of $300,000 to a full-service statewide organization with 30 full, part-time, freelance and contract employees and an annual budget of more than $3.5 million.

“Andy has done a phenomenal job elevating the scope and impact of this vitally important watchdog organization,” said BGA Board Chairman Mark Rust. “He has made a lasting contribution to the fight for government that is more honest, efficient, transparent and accountable.”

Once his successor is chosen, Shaw will remain active in supporting the BGA’s fund-raising, journalistic and civic engagement efforts.

In addition to his BGA leadership duties, Shaw is a columnist and regular contributor to radio and TV stations in Chicago and Springfield. He is also a frequent guest speaker at business and civic events.

“There’s still a lot of work ahead of us if we’re ever going to have the good government we’re entitled to in exchange for our hard-earned tax dollars,” Shaw said. “I plan to support our board and new leadership team in whatever ways I can to keep the BGA in the forefront of this critically important mission.”

The BGA has won dozens of national, state and local awards for journalistic excellence and civic contributions, including last year’s national Society of Professional Journalists’ First Amendment Award for unearthing the Chicago mayor’s private emails, which prompted major changes in the city’s private email policies.

The BGA will celebrate its 95th anniversary this year. The organization was founded in 1923 by a group of Chicago business, civic and religious leaders who were sick of corruption at City Hall and mobster Al Capone’s influence on local politics and government.

The search for Shaw’s replacement is being directed by BGA board member Clark Bell, former Journalism Program Director of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. Internal and external candidates will be considered. Those interested in applying should email a cover letter and resume to Ernest Crowder, the BGA’s VP of Operations (

He’s been one heck of a fundraiser and has lately restored the group’s investigative chops.

…Adding… Andy also sent out a personal message about his decision. Click here to read it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      

Donne Trotter’s legacy

Monday, Jan 22, 2018

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

Assistant Illinois Senate Majority Leader Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) has retired after almost 30 years in the General Assembly.

Sen. Trotter has been talking about retiring for years, but he has repeatedly been persuaded to stick around awhile longer. This time, the entreaties fell on deaf ears. He’s done and he told me he wants to enjoy his retirement while he’s still able.

It’s safe to say that Leader Trotter has created dozens of invaluable state programs on health care and social services over the decades.

He was the Senate Democrats’ top point person on appropriations for years, and that “budgeteer” status gave him the access and the power to help shape the government in incremental measures with every new state budget. His contributions cannot be minimized. From KidCare, to things like clean needle exchanges, mental health programs, HIV programs – pretty much anything whatsoever to do with improving the health of people in Illinois – Trotter (who has a master’s degree in Health Policy of Jurisprudence from Loyola Law School and was an administrator at Cook County Hospital) has been part of it.

Trotter is also well known for his mentorship of young African Americans. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched him stop a conversation among older people to make sure a young black person’s voice was heard.

Rep. Elgie Sims (D-Chicago) is probably one of his most successful mentorships. Sims served on the Senate appropriations staff under Trotter, then became the caucus’ budget director and, after law school, became a state representative who is now chairman of the House Judiciary Criminal Law Committee.

Sen. Trotter got his political start with Congressman Ralph Metcalfe’s 1974 campaign. Later, Trotter helped register tens of thousands of voters for Harold Washington’s 1983 mayoral campaign. The late Chicago political expert Paul Green used to tell the story about how Mayor Washington was duly impressed when only two voters in Trotter’s assigned precinct cast their ballots for one of the other mayoral candidates.

Trotter thought his big move to the Illinois General Assembly would happen in 1986, when then-Rep. Carol Moseley-Braun decided to run for lieutenant governor. He backed out of the race when the future U.S. senator decided not to run statewide. Instead, Trotter wound up being elected to the House in 1988, after Moseley-Braun was elected Cook County recorder of deeds.

The new legislative district map in 1991 forced him to run for the Senate the following year, where he has served ever since. Trotter turned out to be far more suited to the Senate (he often chafed under House Speaker Michael Madigan’s rule) and quickly became an indispensable member of Senate Democratic Leader Emil Jones’ team. When Jones was elected Senate president, Trotter’s power increased exponentially.

It’s no secret that Sen. Trotter and I are longtime friends. I first met him in 1990, not long after I started writing about Illinois politics.

I don’t have a lot of “real” friends in this business because it can cause too many problems. Politicians inevitably do stupid things, so being their friend can put you in the middle of sticky situations.

I’ve made an exception for Trotter because, frankly, he’s one of the most interesting people I’ve ever known in my life. Yeah, he’s made his share of mistakes, some bigger than others. But he’s owned up to all of them and, to my mind, that’s what really matters.

He has a biting sense of humor powerful enough to slay a man. He’s well read with a broad knowledge and appreciation of music and he loves the experience of travel. Except for the whole politician thing, he’s the type of person I like to hang with. He’s also helped me broaden my own horizons by showing me places on Chicago’s South and West sides that I wouldn’t usually just stroll into as a white guy from Kankakee.

The man is always trying to learn something new, which is something I try to do on a daily basis, so I greatly appreciate that about him.

I thought it was a little weird when Trotter took control of the legislative talks on state craft beer regulations, but he mastered the subject matter and ably led the meetings. He wanted to try tackling a topic outside of his usual wheelhouse and he succeeded.

To me, good legislators (and good people) are always trying to learn new things and move outside their comfort zones. Sen. Trotter has been a darned good legislator and I think he’s a good person. I’m going to miss him.

* Related…

* Chicago lawmaker known for budget expertise, bow ties retires

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      

Ives calls Rauner property tax EO “pandering, ineffective”

Monday, Jan 22, 2018

* Background is here. Press release…

On Friday, Gov. Bruce Rauner issued an Executive Order banning state legislators from representing clients before the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board. State Representative Jeanne Ives released the following statement in response:

“Governor Rauner’s order doesn’t ban legislators from doing property tax appeals work. It only prohibits them from representing clients at the state level. Speaker Madigan, Senate President Cullerton, and their cohorts make their money at the local level, in Cook County. Not the state level. This E.O. solves nothing other than Rauner’s need for a little good publicity in an election year.

“Lawmakers working to profit off of a property tax appeals system they control has hurt families and businesses for decades. Truly bold legislation would prohibit legislators from doing property tax appeals work at the state and local levels, the latter being the most important. Additionally, an Executive Order requiring legislators to disclose their property tax appeals clients and the fees they derive from those clients, just as legislators have to disclose sources of income over $5,000 and other investments, would better serve taxpayers than a watered-down Executive Order.

“Property taxes were one of the state’s most urgent problems when Governor Rauner took office in 2014. They were at confiscatory levels in Cook County’s Near Western and Southern Suburbs, Lake and McHenry County then. Now, they are even worse.

“From 2007 to 2017, families in Country Club Hills saw their effective property tax rates double from 2.30% to 4.44%. In Dolton, property owners saw their rates increase from 2.09% to 8.62%. Harvey sustained increases that took rates from 1.70% to 9.72%. In Riverdale, homeowners were punished with increases that took their property tax rate from 2.16% to 12.10%. Governor Rauner’s E.O does nothing to address the rising cost of owning property in Illinois.

“When he took office, Governor Rauner proposed a property tax freeze, which would only serve to maintain the status quo by locking in Illlinois’ ‘highest in the nation’ property tax rates. But even for that he wasn’t willing to fight.

“Illinois has had phony limitations for thirty years, which is why we have the highest property taxes in the nation. The state needs what I am proposing: a hard 1% cap on property taxes, like Indiana has.

“A property tax cap will force us to reconsider the way we fund schools and make the state pay the majority of the freight. Our goal is to return home equity and home value to Illinois homeowners, so they can get a real return on their investment.

“While Governor Rauner issues pandering, ineffective Executive Orders, Illinois families are struggling under the very real effects of his inaction.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      

Illinois is one of the least affected states during federal shutdown

Monday, Jan 22, 2018

* It’s possible that the federal shutdown could end soon, but this is still useful information…

Hi Rich,

With the U.S. government closed for business for the 19th time since 1976 and a lot of blame going back and forth, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on the States Most & Least Affected by the 2018 Government Shutdown to add some hard data to all the rhetoric.

WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of six key metrics, ranging from each state’s share of federal jobs and contracts to the percentage of kids covered by CHIP. You can check out some of the main findings below.

Impact of the Government Shutdown on Illinois (1=Most Affected, 25=Avg.):

    40th - Share of Federal Jobs
    35th - Federal Contract Dollars Per Capita
    39th - Small Business Lending Per Capita
    27th - Real Estate as a Percentage of GSP
    49th - Access to National Parks
    23rd - % of Children under CHIP

The full report is here. Illinois ranked 44th overall. Indiana was 49th, Michigan was 50th and Minnesota was 51st.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      

*** UPDATED x3 - Ruiz responds to Raoul - Raoul responds without addressing the charge - Ruiz claims Raoul bragged about delaying a bill to elect Chicago school board *** CTU backs Raoul, NNU backs Biss

Monday, Jan 22, 2018

* Press release…

Sen. Kwame Raoul joined Chicago Teachers Union officials today, who formally announced that their 24,000-strong union is endorsing Raoul in his candidacy to serve as the next Attorney General of Illinois.

“Our members know how critical it is to support candidates who are principled, trustworthy and committed to the greater public good – not just by the words they speak but by the record of public service they bring to the table,” said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey.”We can count on Kwame to put the people’s business and the people’s needs front and center as Attorney General, something we simply could not expect from some of the other candidates vying for this office. We know he’ll support fair taxes, adequately and fairly funded schools, the health and safety of Illinois residents, and honest, open, accountable government. We’re proud to support him.”

For more than 75 years, the Chicago Teachers Union has been in the forefront of education advocacy and public school reform in Chicago. The CTU represents the teachers and educational support personnel working in the Chicago Public Schools and, by extension, the students and families they serve.

Sen. Raoul has been a strong champion of teachers during his 13-year legislative career, and believes that protecting and investing in public education is a critical element in mitigating the violence that plagues Chicago’s streets.

“A quality education is a civil right that must be afforded to all the children of Illinois,” Raoul said. “Unfortunately, we live in a state with a separate and unequal public education system that teeters on the brink of educational apartheid – one for the students of affluent districts and parents, and another for low-income students in districts like Chicago. I’m proud to stand with the CTU in its efforts to ensure that public education is governed and funded with equity, here in Chicago and across the state. I appreciate the CTU’s endorsement immensely, and I look forward to serving the best interests of public school students from across the state as Illinois Attorney General.”

In the legislature, Raoul has voted to increase education funding, fought for more equity in the State’s school funding formula, and is sponsoring legislation to bring an elected school board to Chicago.

“Kwame has consistently demonstrated his belief in democracy and voting rights,” said high school teacher Ben Coyle, who chairs the union’s legislative committee. “He is committed to protecting both the families who depend on public education and the union educators, clinicians, and paraprofessionals who are the backbone of our school communities, and after a vigorous review of all the candidates for AG, we are proud to endorse him.

CTU President Karen Lewis, who has been ill, also sent a statement declaring her support for Raoul.

“Kwame believes in fairness – for our children, our families, our public workers and all of Illinois’ residents,” she wrote. “He cares deeply about the rights and needs of Black students across the city, and as the child of immigrant parents, he’s also committed to the needs of immigrant students and families. As Illinois’ highest ranking legal advocate, he’ll protect the rights and dignity of our schools’ children and their parents, and he’ll advocate for fair treatment for the city’s Black educators, who have seen their numbers decimated by school closures and so-called ‘turn-arounds’. He’s the candidate we need in the age of Trump and Rauner’s attacks on moderate-income and poor families, and for all of our state’s school-children.”

The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT), as well as the third largest teachers union local in the country and the largest local union in Illinois. Chicago Teachers Union affiliations also include the Chicago Federation of Labor (CFL), the Illinois State Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (ISFL-CIO) and the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). The union represents nearly 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in Chicago public schools, and by extension advocates for nearly 400,000 public school students and their families.

*** UPDATE 1 *** Democratic attorney general candidate Jesse Ruiz…

For months now, Kwame Raoul has been trying to curry favor with the teachers’ unions by claiming that he strongly supports an elected school board in Chicago. But in a March 15 meeting behind closed doors in his Senate office, he bragged to me and to others that he was actually working to delay a pending bill that would enable election of Chicago school board members. That bill still has not moved in the Senate.

Kwame Raoul is the ultimate Springfield insider: He says one thing behind closed doors and something completely different in public. Teachers in Illinois can’t trust Kwame Raoul to fight for them and for our children’s futures.

In December, I called on the Illinois General Assembly to pass new legislation giving voters control of the Chicago Board of Education. I am sorry that the Chicago Teachers Union has been deceived by Kwame Raoul’s empty rhetoric. Illinois voters don’t need a duplicitous, ethically-challenged attorney general.

There was no way on Earth that the CTU would’ve ever endorsed Ruiz because he was vice president of the Chicago school board when it unanimously voted to close 50 schools.

Anyway, I’ve asked the Raoul campaign for comment and will post an update if they respond.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Raoul campaign…

No one can testify to the harm and havoc that Jesse Ruiz wreaked on Chicago’s school children and our neighborhoods more than CTU. Mr. Ruiz voted to close 50 schools, borrowed $1 billion just to cover budget gaps created by his board’s mismanagement and had multiple ethics scandals take place on his watch. Meanwhile, as a legislator Kwame has voted to increase education funding, fought for more equity in the State’s school funding formula, and passed legislation out of the Senate to bring an elected school board to Chicago.

Kwame is on the right side of history and he’s happy to have Chicago’s teachers on his side during this campaign.

That didn’t address the claim at all.

*** UPDATE 3 *** Jesse Ruiz…

“I have been honest and candid throughout my career - as I proved when I publicly stood up to CPS leadership as they tried to sweep an ethics scandal under the rug. People may not agree with every decision I’ve made throughout my decades in public service, but the voters of Illinois can count on my word.

In Kwame’s response to my statement, he attacked me but didn’t deny what he knows to be true: Kwame Raoul told me and others - to my face- that he didn’t support Chicago Teachers in their efforts to have an elected school board. Then he turned around and told the CTU the opposite, in a bald-faced attempt to get their support.

Unfortunately for the people of Illinois, Kwame Raoul frequently finds himself on the wrong side of the truth. The voters deserve better.”

[ *** End Of Updates *** ]

* Press release…

Today, National Nurses United (NNU) and Reclaim Chicago announced their endorsements of Daniel Biss for Illinois Governor. The first union to endorse Bernie Sanders for President and first national labor union to endorse a candidate in the Illinois governor’s race, NNU is the nation’s largest and fastest growing union of registered nurses with more than 150,000 RNs across the country, including 6,500 in Illinois.

Reclaim Chicago is known for its ability to mobilize grassroots volunteers to talk with voters about how our lives and communities could be transformed by electing people who will prioritize Medicare for All, fully funded public education and social services, world-class infrastructure and other investments in the common good. They gave 9,000 hours of volunteer field-work over five months in the 2015 Chicago municipal elections and more than 5,000 hours over 10 weeks to the campaigns of Kim Foxx, Bernie Sanders and many down ballot races in 2016.

Together, these organizations represent national and local progressive communities and will be a dominant force in this election by mobilizing grassroots support for Daniel Biss and sharing his vision of a state government that puts people first.

“Nurses are proud to endorse Daniel Biss because he shares nurses’ values of caring, compassion and community,” said Martese Chism, RN, a member of the Board of Directors of National Nurses Organizing Committee, NNU’s Illinois affiliate. “Under Governor Rauner, our communities are in jeopardy. Daniel Biss shares our vision for an Illinois where every resident receives quality healthcare through a single payer/Medicare for All healthcare system. He rejects the notion that cuts to social services are necessary or inevitable and is committed to raising the progressive revenue that we need to fully fund and expand the services that our communities need.”

National Nurses United cited Biss’ support and co-sponsorship for SB 1970, the LaSalle Street Tax, which would create a tax on the nearly $900 trillion of financial transactions that occur yearly at the Chicago Mercantile and the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE). While working families pay sales tax for their purchases, LaSalle Street traders pay no sales tax on trades.

“It’s an honor to receive the endorsement of National Nurses United,” said Daniel Biss. “I’m running for governor because our system is broken: for too long, the wealthy and well-connected have gotten further ahead while working families have fallen further behind. In this election, and in elections like this one across the country, we need to decide whether we will compromise within a system that’s failed us, or chart a new path. As the national leader in the fight for Medicare-for-all, National Nurses United understands the stakes in this election. I’m especially proud to have their support as we fight for an Illinois where healthcare is a right, not an option — and where working families are a priority, not an afterthought.”

“Daniel is not a billionaire. He worries about balancing the cost of living with saving for his children’s college education, and he understands that the necessities of life are out of reach for far too many families,” said Amanda Weaver, Reclaim Chicago’s Executive Director. “Daniel knows first hand what a difference it would make in our lives to fully fund public education, to make public universities tuition-free, and to have a Medicare for All system that would free us from the financial crisis that almost always accompanies a health crisis. Daniel is already leading the fight to close corporate tax loopholes and make the very rich pay their fair share so that Illinois can afford to make these investments.”

“I’m incredibly excited to receive the endorsement of Reclaim Chicago,” said Daniel Biss. “By mobilizing middle-class and working people to fearlessly take on incumbents, machine politicians, and the ultra-rich, Reclaim Chicago is changing what’s possible in Illinois.

“It’s humbling and inspiring to join a group of Reclaim-backed leaders including Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, State Senator Omar Aquino, State Representatives Will Guzzardi and Theresa Mah, and so many other progressive champions. Our grassroots movement is proving that that no race is a done deal—that we can reject a mode of politics that has failed our families, and build a state that works for us.”

Reclaim Chicago’s members conduct a rigorous endorsement process. Unlike traditional political parties who close up shop after each election, Reclaim Chicago builds power in between election cycles by organizing grassroots support for public policies that increase investment in our communities and reduce income, racial and gender inequality.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      

Mendoza releases first “debt transparency report”

Monday, Jan 22, 2018

* Press release…

Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza today released the state’s January Debt Transparency Report. The report, for the first time, provides a detailed monthly snapshot of the state’s bill backlog by compelling state agencies to comprehensively disclose liabilities they are holding, including late payment interest penalties, bills at the agency level and unappropriated liabilities and obligations.

Eighty out of the 84 state agencies and universities required to report responded for the reporting period ending Dec. 31, 2017. The four agencies that failed to submit and remain in non-compliance with the state statute are the Department of Children and Family Services, the Council on Developmental Disabilities, the Human Rights Commission, and the Sex Offender Management Board.

The Debt Transparency Report confirms the Comptroller’s estimate that as of Dec. 31, 2017, the state had incurred more than $1 billion in late payment interest penalties.

The agencies with the largest late payment interest liabilities accrued thus far include the Department of Central Management Services with $434 million and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services with $236 million. Agency totals ($741 million) combined with interest payments already made in 2017 ($143 million) and pending payments at the Comptroller’s office ($116 million), show that the state incurred $1.03 billion in late payment interest penalties in 2017, primarily caused by the record two-year budget impasse that ended in July of last year.  

“This report will be an effective cash-management tool for my office and provides a much greater level of transparency for taxpayers and policymakers,” Comptroller Mendoza said. “Now we can all see a clearer picture of what Illinois owes to small businesses, universities, community colleges, social service providers and others. The Debt Transparency Report takes the politics out of the numbers to provide meaningful data.”

The fiscal information submitted by state agencies to the Comptroller’s office demonstrates the need for the Debt Transparency Act, which became law in November when Republican and Democratic lawmakers came together to overwhelmingly override Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto of Comptroller Mendoza’s legislation.

Other key findings from the report, which compiles and aggregates data from state agencies as of Dec. 31, 2017:

The state’s general funds bill backlog stood at $9.246 billion on Dec. 31 with $2.476 billion of that total at state agencies.

The report also confirms that there are $2.3 billion in unappropriated liabilities held at state agencies. The agencies with the largest unappropriated liabilities include the Department of Corrections, which has $420 million in unappropriated liabilities, and the Department of Human Services, which has $118 million in unappropriated liabilities. The Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) has a $443 million shortage in General Revenue Funds transfers to be deposited in the Healthcare Provider Relief Fund for medical programs administered by HFS.

Until appropriations for these liabilities are approved by the legislature and become law, these bills cannot be submitted to the Comptroller’s office for payment. They will remain at the agencies, and many of them will continue to accrue late payment interest penalties. 

“The bipartisan Debt Transparency Act is already providing the people of Illinois with valuable financial information,” Republican Rep. David McSweeney, a chief co-sponsor of the act, said. “Governor Rauner needs to immediately tell us what his detailed plan is for addressing the over $2 billion of unpaid bills that have not been appropriated.”

Today, the state’s bill backlog stands at an estimated $8.835 billion. That number is down from a record high of $16.675 billion. The bulk of that reduction came through a debt restructuring program pushed for by Comptroller Mendoza. With the proceeds of a $6 billion bond sale, she brought in $2.2 billion in federal matching funds and saved taxpayers billions of dollars by stopping the clock on more than $8 billion worth of bills that were accruing late payment interest penalties.

The January Debt Transparency Report accentuates the challenges facing policymakers as they work to pass a budget for the next fiscal year.

“It is incumbent upon the Governor to meet his responsibilities and present a balanced budget plan,” Comptroller Mendoza said. “When Governor Rauner took office, he inherited, through no fault of his own, a bill backlog of $5 billion. Through a debt refinancing plan, our office recently paid down more than $8 billion worth of bills, covering what he inherited and then some. There is no disputing that the Rauner administration owns the remaining $8.835 billion backlog, which is a product of deficit spending and failing to budget for the state’s true liabilities during his tenure. As part of his budget address, he needs to present taxpayers with a detailed proposal for paying off the operating debt and interest penalties his administration ran up.”

Click here to see the report.

* In other news

The Illinois Toll Highway Authority on Friday withdrew a proposal to pay almost $9 million to a consulting firm to finish work on a technology upgrade after the plan was questioned by the state comptroller.

But Tollway officials said the decision was not the result of Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s complaint, but rather because of discussions with the state’s independent chief procurement officer on the best way to finish the job.

The Tollway had already agreed to spend $7.9 million for a contract with Deloitte Consulting to implement the State’s Enterprise Resource Program, a technology project to help manage state finances. The Tollway had asked for the additional $9 million to finish the work, and it was on the agenda for an upcoming committee meeting. The agenda item had referred to the amendment as a “tollway emergency.”

Mendoza, who manages the state’s checkbook, on Thursday called for a review of the proposal by independent procurement officials, saying in a news release that “failing to properly estimate cost and overspending is not an emergency — it’s poor project management.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      

RGA rips Pritzker over Blagojevich coverage

Monday, Jan 22, 2018

* RGA…

Illinois Democrat candidate for governor and heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune J.B. Pritzker continued to face damaging headlines this weekend over his longtime ties to convicted ex-governor Rod Blagojevich. During an editorial board meeting at the Chicago Tribune, Pritzker received intense questions from moderators and attacks from fellow Democrats over his conduct on the FBI tapes.

The Chicago Tribune summed up the forum well, noting that Pritzker “found himself at the center of an attack-filled forum Friday as Democratic governor rivals accused him of being an insider who benefited from property tax breaks and questioned his relationship with former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.”

In a statement that is sure to cause heartburn for Pritzker, the Hyatt heir claimed that he did not do “anything wrong” during his conversation with Blagojevich, despite clearly engaging the kind of pay-to-play politics with Blagojevich that has bankrupted Illinois.
J.B. Pritzker: “I have not been accused of any wrongdoing. I have not done anything wrong.” Watch here.

CBS Chicago reported that Pritzker was “under fire” at the forum over the Blagojevich tapes, while ABC Chicago said that Pritzker continues to be “haunted by wiretapped conversation with Blagojevich.”

J.B. Pritzker’s decision to defend his conduct with Blagojevich, which was caught on tape just days before Blagojevich was arrested, continues to show that Pritzker lacks the judgement needed to hold elected office.

The governor and other Republicans have been making a lot about Pritzker’s “I have not been accused of any wrongdoing” response to the Blagojevich story. But here’s a Rauner spokesman back in 2013 fending off claims that there was something hinky going on with Stu Levine

“Bruce has never been accused of wrongdoing.”

It’s a standard line.

But, whatevs. Politics gotta be politics. Have at it.

* Meanwhile, I think the best line on Friday was delivered by Sen. Daniel Biss

The biggest tussle was over the FBI tapes — recordings that show J.B. Pritzker angling with then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich for an appointment as state treasurer. The conversation is featured in an ad put out by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s re-election campaign.

“I’m just a little baffled as to why were you talking to this guy about these kinds of things,” editorial page editor John McCormick told Pritkzer.

“I was simply seeking the opportunity to do public service,” the candidate responded.

Primary opponent Daniel Biss chimed in: “If that phone call was your definition of public service, you’re doing it wrong.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      

Madigan tells audience he rejected a 2015 deal proposed by Rauner

Monday, Jan 22, 2018

* House Speaker Michael Madigan spoke at the 2018 Labor Summit in Ottawa on Saturday

Shortly after Gov. Bruce Rauner took office in 2015, he met with House Speaker Michael Madigan about cutting a budget deal. […]

The governor, Madigan said, wanted the Democrats to enact a right-to-work law, repeal or dramatically change prevailing wage rules, and end collective bargaining for public employees.

“He told me that this was what his turnaround agenda would be,” said the speaker, whom those in attendance greeted with a standing ovation. “He said, ‘I want you to cooperate with me, and if you cooperate, you tell me what you want.’ It was the proposal for the usual government deal.”

Madigan refused the offer.

“He told me in the meeting that if I didn’t cooperate, he would go on a major assault against me. He told me this on the front end. That didn’t change my judgment or decision,” Madigan said. “My service in Illinois government has always been on behalf of working people.” […]

“If you listen to Rauner or see his ads, every problem in the state of Illinois is caused by Mike Madigan,” said the speaker, who also heads the state Democratic Party. “That’s his strategy. That’s his publicity policy, and to a certain extent, it worked.”

Thoughts on this?

* Listen to the full speech

Some video is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   102 Comments      

Today’s number: 11 Illinois women in 200 years

Monday, Jan 22, 2018

* Lynn Sweet

An important aspect of these women’s marches – something that crosses party lines – is the push to get more women into elected office.

Illinois has a lousy record. Only nine women, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, have held Illinois statewide elected office since Illinois became a state in 1818. I’ll add to that the two females elected to the U.S. Senate.

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      

Mark Brown and Eric Zorn on Chris Kennedy

Monday, Jan 22, 2018

* I’ve already told subscribers what I think of Chris Kennedy’s comments about Bruce Rauner on Friday (click here if you missed the action), so I’ll just leave it at that.

But here’s Mark Brown’s take…

It’s obviously been very helpful to Chris Kennedy’s underfunded campaign for governor that Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is sinking millions of dollars into campaign commercials slamming Kennedy’s chief Democratic rival, billionaire J.B. Pritzker.

But does Kennedy have to sound so appreciative?

That was the question Friday after Kennedy set off a firestorm of intra-party criticism for opining that Rauner “should be applauded” for running attack ads against Pritzker before the Democratic primary.

If that was all Kennedy said, he might not have caused such a big fuss. But he also praised Rauner for “trying to do what he thinks is best for the state of Illinois” and for being “willing to speak truth to power.”

Ahem. Bruce Rauner? The guy who is almost physically incapable of saying Donald Trump’s name aloud let alone criticize him? Speaking truth to power?

Only when what Rauner is saying serves his own political interests. […]

I made the comment earlier in the week that no matter what they think of each other, the major Democratic candidates must certainly find each other preferable to re-electing Rauner.

Now, I’m not so sure.

* And Eric Zorn focuses his take on Chris Kennedy’s response to JB Pritzker, who said yet again that he wouldn’t call out individual Democrats (like Joe Berrios) “for their failures” because it wouldn’t be “productive”

Businessman Chris Kennedy jumped in with his take: “That’s why we have a divided government,” he said. “For gosh sakes, if we’re not going to call out other parts of government — if you don’t see your role as governor to call out a mayor who’s not representing the people of a certain city, if you’re not willing to call out an assessor who’s violating the 1964 Civil Rights Act — if you don’t think that’s the proper role of government, you should go read the Constitution …

“We want elected officials to call each other out to provide better service, and to stop dooming the next generation to a life of economic servitude, which is exactly what these insiders are doing when they underfund our schools by (lowering) property taxes for big buildings downtown.”

Well, yes, I’m all for calling politicians to account — pointing out their failings and demanding they do better. And while I understand that constructive criticism and attempts at engagement and compromise aren’t politically fashionable, I don’t think Kennedy set the table for long-term success, should he be elected, with his over-the-top accusation earlier this month that Mayor Rahm Emanuel is leading a “strategic gentrification plan” to drive African-Americans and other minorities out of the city.

Like the casual flinging about of the accusation “corrupt,” such rhetoric generates more heat than light and is the enemy of progress.

Zorn also pointed out that lowering property taxes for downtown buildings shifts the burden to others and doesn’t directly “underfund” schools as Kennedy claims.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      

Citizen Action backs Pritzker, Evanston backs Biss, Kennedy to unveil property tax reform plan

Monday, Jan 22, 2018

* From yesterday…

Today, Citizen Action/Illinois voted to endorse JB Pritzker for Governor. Citizen Action is led by Lynda DeLaForgue and William McNary, and is the state’s largest public interest coalition, fighting social and economic justice campaigns and holding elected officials accountable at the state and national levels. Citizen Action has led progressive, grassroots campaigns to create a fair tax system, expand affordable and high-quality healthcare, reform our insurance and campaign finance system, and create stronger environmental protections. Citizen Action joins Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, the Illinois AFL-CIO, and over 30 individual unions in support of JB Pritzker for governor.

“I’m honored to have the endorsement of Citizen Action/Illinois and the independent, progressive voices they represent,” said JB Pritzker. “For over a decade, Citizen Action has been leading grassroots, progressive campaigns to fight for critical policies that help Illinoisans build better lives. Together, I know we will be able to put Springfield back on the side of working families by expanding healthcare, raising wages, and investing in quality education for every Illinoisan, no matter their zip code. I’m proud to have Citizen Action standing with me as we bring Democrats together and build a statewide, grassroots campaign ready to take on Bruce Rauner in November.”

* Also from yesterday…

The Democratic Party of Evanston voted to endorse Daniel Biss at its endorsement meeting for the March 20 primary election. Biss overwhelmingly won the support of his hometown party, earning the support of 85 percent of the vote.

“Tonight, Evanston Democrats voted to endorse someone we’ve seen up close and personal as our Representative and Senator and who we know will make a great, progressive Governor,” said Evanston Township Democratic Committeeman Eamon Kelly. “Our grassroots members are fired up and ready to put in the work to nominate him on March 20.”

In addition to Biss, DPOE members voted to endorse Kelly Cassidy for re-election to the State House, Toni Preckwinkle for re-election as Cook County Board President, Larry Suffredin for re-election as Cook County Commissioner, and Debra Shore and Kari Steele for re-election to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.

In the eight-way race for Attorney General, the top vote getter was Nancy Rotering with 30 percent followed by Kwame Raoul with 23 percent. No candidate secured the 66 percent of the vote needed to earn the organization’s endorsement.

* And…

Advisory: Chris Kennedy to Release Statewide Plan to Reform the Property Tax System

Chris Kennedy will be releasing his statewide plan to reform the property tax system, protect taxpayers, and ultimately bring fairness to funding Illinois public schools.

Chris will be joined by Alderman Anthony Beale and Alderman Rick Muñoz. Ald. Muñoz recently filed a proposal that would require the city to challenge assessments on the largest commercial buildings in or near the Loop.

WHO: Democratic Candidate for Governor Chris Kennedy and his running mate, Ra Joy, along with Alderman Rick Muñoz and Alderman Anthony Beale […]

WHEN: 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 22, 2018

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      

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Monday, Jan 22, 2018

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Monday, Jan 22, 2018

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* Question of the day
* Rauner calls marijuana a "very dangerous drug" as he plans court appeal
* *** UPDATED x3 - Pritzker, Biss, Kennedy respond *** Rauner campaign echoes Blagojevich demand to release the FBI tapes
* Jimenez wants Sangamon County to get priority for most new state jobs
* Ives' state budget solution: Slash CPS funding and repeal Obamacare expansion
* *** UPDATED x1 - Ives responds *** Rauner promises to patch $2.3 billion hole, balance next year's budget, start rolling back the tax hike and provide "record funding" for K-12
* Dick Uihlein gives Proft group another $3 million
* Legionella bacteria might have been found at Capitol Complex
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Unclear on the concept
* Yesterday's stories

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* Ex-doctor gets 20 years for trying to kidnap prosecutor
* Legionella bacteria possibly at Illinois Capitol Complex
* Democratic governor candidates to have 1st televised forum
* Police: Man who shot at motorist was angry about truck crash
* Retrial to begin in 1995 arson, murder case
* Popular Lincoln sculpture in Bloomington needs cleaning
* Bill would require state jobs be located in Sangamon County
* Legionella bacteria possibly at Illinois Capitol Complex
* Board approves plan to create Will County's 1st solar farm
* William Cousins, prominent in Illinois law, dead at 90

* Former Springfield Ald. Jobe added to State Fair Advisory Board
* Democratic governor candidates to have 1st televised forum
* Popular Lincoln sculpture in Bloomington needs cleaning
* Legionella bacteria possibly in Capitol Complex water system
* Rauner wants to 'step-down' income tax increase
* Sangamon County should get first dibs on state jobs, lawmaker says
* Report: State agencies holding nearly $2.5 billion in bills
* Illinois lawmakers hold hearing on marijuana legalization
* Illinois hunters harvest 2 percent more deer than last year
* New session will bring new efforts at pension reform

* Tax winnings in hand, Chase shares some with 2,700-plus local workers
* Chicago Stock Exchange bidders may seek extension
* Naf Naf to debut new stores, franchise program
* Tick tock: Bid for Chicago exchange involving Chinese investors delayed
* Chinese-backed bid for Chicago Stock Exchange hits a snag

* Man tries to kidnap girls in Fuller Park
* Blachawks goalie Corey Crawford works out again, could be on the ice ‘soon’
* Mary J. Blige thrilled at becoming a double Oscar nominee
* LETTERS: Change state constitution and make pensions less generous
* Legionella bacteria possibly at Illinois Capitol Complex
* Police: Man in custody after holding girlfriend, kids hostage in Riverdale
* Schumer takes back wall offer in new immigration push
* Bulls guard Zach LaVine is finding out that minute restrictions have no give
* Alex Rodriguez, Matt Vasgersian join Jessica Mendoza for ‘Sunday Night Baseball’
* Rahm’s running mate rises to defense of potential mayoral challenger

* 'The Shape of Water' leads Oscar nominees with 13 nods
* 2 dead, 19 injured in rural Kentucky high school shooting; suspect held
* Bank of America ends popular free checking option, causing customer uproar
* Man dead after Evanston apartment fire
* Hush money President Trump’s lawyer allegedly paid porn star Stormy Daniels broke election laws, new complaint charges 
* Flu season causes more challenges for Barrington-area blood banks this winter
* Joe Walsh — who promises to vote for Chuy Garcia if he's proved wrong — is proved wrong
* Are the Bears exciting now?
* P&G CEO says company working to stop 'Tide pod challenge'
* Trial date set for former Lincoln-Way superintendent Lawrence Wyllie's federal fraud case

» State Pays $1 Billion In Late-Payment Charges
» CHA To Add More Mixed-Income Housing In Bronzeville
» National Study Hammers Illinois Budget Practices
» Hundreds Of Thousands Gathered For Women's March In Chicago
» Women's March Chicago Stays on Message - Get to the Polls
» Chicago Schools Chief: Cost A Driver In Special Ed Overhaul
» One Year Later, Women’s March Demands More Than Attendance
» State Week: Education Funding, Pritzker-Blagojevich, Rauner-Duke
» Sheriff Offers To Help Review Police Shootings In Suburban Cook County
» A Prescription For Fruits And Veggies: One Solution To Food Insecurity in Illinois

* Democratic governor candidates to have 1st televised forum
* Popular Lincoln sculpture in Bloomington needs cleaning
* Legionella bacteria possibly in Capitol Complex water system
* IBHE: There is a need for bold changes for Illinois' higher education system
* Rauner wants to 'step-down' income tax increase
* Sangamon County should get first dibs on state jobs, lawmaker says
* Report: State agencies holding nearly $2.5 billion in bills
* Illinois lawmakers hold hearing on marijuana legalization
* Illinois hunters harvest 2 percent more deer than last year
* New session will bring new efforts at pension reform

* Iowa jobless rate dips
* Tiny and high-tech: QC Fuel offers coffee and more in Moline
* 2 dead, 19 injured in Kentucky school shooting; suspect held
* Former massage therapist to serve 16 years for sexual assault
* You could soon save money on electricity and natural gas. Here’s why.
* This is what America must do to end its problem with race, Bishop Braxton says
* Harrisburg man gets 20 years in attempted kidnapping of prosecutor; in jailhouse tapes, he offered $1K for the job
* UPDATE: I-74 reopens after crash spills cash
* Bishop Edward Braxton talks about being racially profiled in Chicago
* Noon update: Breezy afternoon, oscar nominations and Super Bowl data bank

* Despite resident objections, Buffalo Grove board approves plans for 187 homes
* 7 take-aways from the 90th Academy Awards nominations
* Officials working to identify Addison fire victims
* CEO says company working to stop 'Tide pod challenge'
* The Latest: Trudeau announces Pacific trade deal without US

* Bipartisan Illinois criticism follows Trum...
* US places Pakistan on special watch list f...
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* Dick Durbin's not the only Illinois Senato......

* Two gubernatorial candidates support repealing Illinois’s rent control ban
* Academy Awards 2018: The Oscar nominees
* Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers. Episode #48. Amber Smock, people with disabilities advocate and activist.
* Sketchbook.
* Ahead of Janus, union haters are collecting teacher names.
* Two more candidates removed from ballot
* Documentary on violence in Roseland
* Martin D. Reggi fundraiser set for January 25
* Moore withdraws from countywide McGinnis race
* In 1924 Maxwell Street regular Daddy Stovepipe became one of the first bluesmen ever recorded

* Illinois Awarded Funds to Offer Advanced Training on Detecting Impaired Driving
* Illinois EPA Announces Upcoming Household Hazardous Waste Collection Events
* IEMA Highlights Emergency Preparedness for People with Access and Functional Needs in May - Ready Illinois website offers preparedness tips for people, caregivers
* First Lady Launches Illinois Family Connects
* Governor and Lt. Governor Unveil 2016 Journal of Local Government Shared Service Best Practices

* HomePod AppleCare+ plan will cost $39
* RED’s ‘holographic,’ ‘SOLID’ Hydrogen phone will ship this summer
* The iPhone X was the top shipping smartphone over the holidays, according to analysts
* YouTube TV and Hulu pick up 750,000 subscribers
* [TA Deals] Pick up the Ethical Hacking A to Z bundle for just $19 right now
* Apple Releases New Beta Software for HomePod
* Apple Releases Minor tvOS 11.2.5 Update With Bug Fixes and Security Improvements

* Notable 2018 Spring Training non-roster invitees
* Anderson on mission after challenging 2017
* Burger third among top third-base prospects
* Burger among MLB's Top 10 3B prospects
* Kopech, Jimenez among White Sox NRIs
* Baseball America top 100, Sox-Brewers rumors, and other reading
* Advocating for retired non-numbers

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