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Question of the day

Monday, Jan 29, 2018

* Former Rep. Ken Dunkin posted a Facebook video last night which was hashtagged #Grammy #vote #Fortheculture

Hi. This is Ken Dunkin and I’m sure you’ve heard some things about me. But, baby, I’m back.

I’m running as an independent Democrat who will hold Republicans and us Democrats accountable to taxpayers.

Silly name calling does absolutely nothing towards job creation, school funding or stopping crime in our communities.

I want to hear from you. Please go to my website or call me at (312) 414-7106. Help offer legislative solutions. Thank you. I’m Ken Dunkin and I approved this message.

* The Question: Your message for Mr. Dunkin? Snark is heavily encouraged, of course.

…Adding… Silly me, I didn’t even check out Dunkin’s new website. I kid you not, here’s a screen cap of part of his home page


- Posted by Rich Miller   71 Comments      

*** UPDATED x3 - Quinn, Ruiz, Sen. Raoul respond *** Rauner bemoans “nightmare” of not having an attorney general who is “working for taxpayers and our administration”

Monday, Jan 29, 2018

* Gov. Rauner told the Tribune editorial board today that he was excited to have “personally recruited” Erika Harold into the attorney general’s race because retiring incumbent AG Lisa Madigan, who was “loyal to her father”

She and I together will transform this state. Having an attorney general who’s not actually undermining me every day, just working for her dad, blocking our initiatives, never defending our administration when we’re taking strong, tough actions. It’s been a nightmare for me not to have an attorney who is working for taxpayers and our administration.

*** UPDATE 1 *** From the Kwame Raoul campaign…

Bruce Rauner already bought one constitutional office and it’s clearer than ever that Illinoisans can’t afford to let him buy another.

We’ve seen this horror movie before. Bruce Rauner and his Comptroller “shook up” Springfield with a 793-day-long budget crisis which led to multiple credit downgrades, the erosion of the state’s safety net and a record bill backlog. Now Bruce Rauner wants a taxpayer-funded legal department to help promote his anti-worker Turnaround Agenda and guard his administration in secrecy.

Illinoisans deserve an Attorney General who will stand up for them AND win on their behalf. Kwame Raoul is the only candidate who has stood toe to toe with Bruce Rauner’s anti-worker agenda and won.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Jesse Ruiz…

Governor Rauner today whined to the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board that Attorney General’s Lisa Madigan’s refusal to do his bidding has been a “nightmare.” Rauner complained about how difficult it is for him to have to deal with an Attorney General who insists on upholding the law and protecting the rights of the people of Illinois.

Rauner’s comments were eerily similar to President Trump’s recently reported complaints about the apparent unwillingness of the “Trump Justice Department” to blindly follow every whim of the White House.

Although he took a solemn oath to uphold the Constitution, Rauner clearly fails to understand that the Attorney General is accountable to the people and the Constitution. We need a forceful, independent-minded advocate in the Attorney General’s office - not Bruce Rauner’s hand-picked political stooge.

I am proud of my record of standing up to the powerful. So when I’m elected as Illinois’ next Attorney General, I’ll keep on giving Bruce Rauner nightmares - and I’ll keep on fighting for everyone’s chance to achieve the American Dream.

*** UPDATE 3 *** Former Gov. Pat Quinn…

“The Office of Attorney General must be an independent lawyer for the people of Illinois, not beholden to Bruce Rauner and his ruthless agenda. Attorney General Lisa Madigan has been a strong advocate for Illinois consumers, taxpayers, and workers. Apparently, by doing her job, she’s causing nightmares for Bruce Rauner.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   87 Comments      

Kennedy claims MJM and MRE cut off his money, is open to taxing some retirement income

Monday, Jan 29, 2018

* Bernie interviewed Chris Kennedy the other day

In a visit Friday to Springfield, Kenilworth resident Kennedy — son of the late ROBERT F. KENNEDY — told me that his family has always been Democratic but has taken on the party when needed.

His uncle, President JOHN F. KENNEDY, had to fight fellow Democrats who didn’t want a Catholic elected president in order to win that office in 1960, he said. His father in 1968 ran to take over from the Democratic administration of President LYNDON JOHNSON because RFK didn’t want more “young Americans” sent to Vietnam. And his uncle, the late Sen. TED KENNEDY, ran against President JIMMY CARTER because he thought Carter “sided with the big banks” against people hurting from high interest rates.

“I don’t think the system that we have in Illinois is representative of the values of the Democratic Party, and if I have to speak out against it, I will,” he said.

Sen. Kennedy ran against President Carter because of the banks? Learn something new every day, I guess.

* Anyway, while Kennedy proudly pointed to his ancestors’ fights against the Democratic machine, he told a woe-is-me story at a Saturday candidates’ forum

In the Democratic Party all the money really flows at the behest of the Speaker of the House and if you cross swords with him that flow of money will be cut off.

If you look at how I’ll react to that, well you can see, you can see from the history of the primary, what’s happened during this election. I spoke truth to power, I said what Mike Madigan is doing is not illegal but it should be. And that money was cut off. I was threatened by him, I was told not to speak out against him by people associated with the party. And I said ‘No, I’m gonna speak the truth, what’s happening with the property tax racket is destroying our schools, dooming the next generation to a life of economic servitude.’

I spoke out against Rahm Emanuel and what’s happening in the City of Chicago, and my donors dropped.

Tracker video clip is here.

* Meanwhile, last Friday we discussed Bob Daiber’s call to tax retirement income and Sen. Daniel Biss’ assertion that he’d be open to the tax idea under a progressive tax structure. JB Pritzker opposes the tax, but Chris Kennedy’s campaign didn’t respond.

* Well, WMAY’s Jim Leach had Kennedy on his show later that day

JIM LEACH: Another issue that’s just arisen in the last couple of days, and we’re going to be talking a lot about taxes at every level, from progressive income tax to the sales taxes I know you’ve talked about in recent days. There’s also a proposal out now to tax retirement income in the State of Illinois. Bob Daiber’s put this forward, Daniel Biss has said it might work in the context of a graduated income tax. Your thoughts on whether Illinois should tax retirement income?

KENNEDY: I mean, in a flat tax environment I, absolutely, I don’t think we should do that. I think the average retiree, pensioner in Illinois makes, I don’t know, under $20,000 a year. Do I think that’s how we should pay for our government? By taxing people who make less than $20,000 a year? Absolutely not.

LEACH: If we move to a graduated income tax at some point would that be on the table then? Retirement income?

KENNEDY: I mean, I don’t know what that looks like. I mean, if ifs and buts were candy and nuts we’d all have a merry Christmas, so I don’t know, what…

LEACH: But you want to move to a progressive income tax?

KENNEDY: Absolutely, absolutely.

LEACH: If we do that, under your plan…

KENNEDY: If we means tested, if we means tested, um, retirement income. If you could say OK, people who have more than $250,000 a year household income and have retirement income, could that be part of progressive income tax? I think it could.

Clip is here.

* Related…

* Hinz: What Kennedy got right about Cook County property taxes: When I’ve talked to Berrios’ staff about this, they’ve said sales often are a lousy basis for a valuation. Instead the primary factor Berrios uses is building income, a somewhat more subjective standard in my view, but one that Berrios says the courts insist upon. Problem is, some tax experts say Berrios is wrong. The preferred factor set by courts in the key cases is the last sales price, not income stream, according to Civic Federation President Laurence Msall, whose group specializes in property taxation. Local officials have the discretion to use other factors, but only if there’s a problem with the sales data, such as no recent sales, he adds. I get a similar story from Berrios predecessor Jim Houlihan, who has endorsed Kennedy but who I’ve always found to be an honorable man. Assessors use three factors: replacement costs, income and sales, he says. And, he says, it’s “b.s.” to insist, as Berrios does, that sales data ought not usually play a major role.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      

Dick Uihlein gives Ives $500K

Monday, Jan 29, 2018

* OK, well, it’s on now…

…Adding… Greg Hinz

“This helps level the playing field,” said an Ives spokeswoman. “Because of people like Uihlein, voters now will know there’s a choice in the election.”

Even bigger money would help now, but the spokeswoman said she does not know if more is coming.

Rauner’s campaign had no immediate comment. He lately has been pretty much ignoring Ives to attack Democratic front-runner J.B. Pritzker, releasing a new anti-Pritzker TV ad earlier today.

Uihlein donated at least $2.6 million to Rauner in the 2014 election cycle and gave $2 million in 2016 to Rauner’s hand-picked state comptroller, Leslie Munger, who lost to Democrat Susana Mendoza.

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      

Some Tribune editorial board highlights

Monday, Jan 29, 2018

* During the Tribune editorial board meeting today, Gov. Rauner said he doesn’t lead on social issues. Rep. Jeanne Ives begged to differ

Ives contended Rauner’s signature on legislation that expanded taxpayer-subsidized abortions for women covered by Medicaid and state employee health insurance demonstrated that all the governor accomplished in his first term was a “progressive social agenda.”

“He told us he would veto the bill,” she said. He lied to a cardinal,” she said, a reference to Cardinal Blase Cupich.

Rauner would not say what he told Cupich about the abortion legislation, but called Ives’ allegations “outrageous.”

“There are a lot of politics swirling around the bill,” said Rauner, who repeatedly added that “the simple fact is I support a woman’s right to decide.” The governor said his choice to sign the bill was either to “follow what I believe or do politics.”

* Other highlights…

…Adding… Pritzker campaign…

“After manufacturing a 736-day budget crisis, adding billions to our state’s bill backlog, holding school funding hostage, and decimating Illinois’ social safety net, there aren’t many questions that are easy for Bruce Rauner to answer,” said Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh. “After today, it’s no surprise Rauner doesn’t want to defend his failed leadership.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   49 Comments      

Caption contest!

Monday, Jan 29, 2018

* Everybody looks happy to be there…

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      

Our Revolution Illinois endorses Biss

Monday, Jan 29, 2018

* Press release…

Our Revolution Illinois—one of the largest grassroots progressive organizations in Illinois and the statewide chapter of the national organization, Our Revolution, that grew out of Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign— is excited to announce its endorsement of State Senator Daniel Biss in the Illinois gubernatorial race ahead of the March 20 Democratic primary.

There has been a growing surge of support for Senator Biss’ people-powered campaign since Our Revolution Illinois’ gubernatorial forum last October which was co-sponsored by over 50 grassroots and progressive organizations across the state. Further, in a recent internal statewide poll of nearly 40,000 progressives across the state, Senator Biss was the overwhelming favorite.

“Daniel Biss and Litesa Wallace will bring fairness, reform, and middle-class values to Springfield,” said Clem Balanoff, Chair of Our Revolution Illinois. “For the first time in many years, working men and women have a true voice and champion in our next governor and lieutenant governor.”

Balanoff further added, “Daniel has been a longtime champion of increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour. He has been a longtime supporter of Medicare-for-All, because he understand that healthcare is a right and not a privilege. He has been a leader in the fight for education funding, including free tuition at public colleges and universities. And Daniel understands the need to get the state’s financial house in order by changing the tax system so that those who can most afford it will pay their fair share.”

“It’s an honor to receive the endorsement of Our Revolution Illinois,” said Daniel Biss. “We share a vision for this state: of a government accountable to middle-class and working people, and of universal healthcare, living wages, and tuition-free higher education. Just as importantly, we share a plan to make this vision a reality. By joining together in this election to organize our communities, we can transform our political system at its core and build a state that works for us.”

Rebecca Abraham, board member of Our Revolution Illinois and elected Sanders delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention, added, “I am a nurse and mother of two. While some may be hedging their bets on the person with the most money to defeat Bruce Rauner, I am taking into consideration the lives of my patients and the future of my children. I am excited to say that I am voting for Daniel Biss and I strongly urge fellow progressives across the state to do the same. Daniel has the most progressive plan that will expand medical and social services for seniors, children, and families.”

Our Revolution Illinois is dedicated to building on Bernie Sanders’ core set of values — the values and agenda that electrified Illinois voters in the March 2016 primary and won Bernie Sanders 24 of 50 wards in Chicago, 79 of Illinois’ 102 counties, 11 of 18 congressional districts and almost a million votes across the state.

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - Maxwell responds *** A long look at an alleged “tax scandal” story

Monday, Jan 29, 2018

* From Friday…

Daniel Biss today released the following statement in response to WCIA-TV’s report detailing how JB Pritzker transferred hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Hyatt Hotel Corporation stock from offshore accounts in the Bahamas to shell companies established in South Dakota and Nevada:

“JB Pritzker has claimed to be the solution, but today’s report detailing his latest tax scandal is more proof that he’s a continuation of the problem.

“JB’s repeated tax schemes don’t just cheat the state — they cheat middle-class and working families who have to make up for his tax evasion with higher taxes and reduced services. JB transferred money from offshore accounts to out-of-state shell companies that were not listed on his Statement of Economic Interest. This report has raised some alarming questions, and now JB Pritzker is asking us to take him at his word that he paid his fair share in taxes while still refusing to release his full tax returns. We should all be offended.

“We can’t trust a billionaire who benefits from the broken system to fix it. And we certainly shouldn’t elect one as the next governor of our state.”

OK, this was part of an interesting turn of events. A WCIA story was posted at 3:58 Friday morning, but was then taken down. Click here for the original, which I saved on my hard drive, and click here for the revised story, which was posted Friday night.

* The initial explanation for why the first story was taken down…

* Maxwell explained further…

* More

* The Pritzker campaign, however, still has problems with the revised story…

This “story” connects completely unrelated dates and facts and is a lesson in why regurgitating an anonymous political twitter account is so dangerous. Before taking anonymous information riddled with innuendo and parading it around as news, it would serve the voters to get the facts right first.

Below are excerpts from the story and bullets correcting inaccurate information:

In a series of tweets reminiscent of the now infamous WikiLeaks rollout of hacked DNC emails, the mysterious schemer peddled a web of tax avoidance theories which claim, with scant evidence, that Pritzker began filling his massive campaign war chest by “liquidating offshore assets” and funneling the money through shell companies in Nevada and South Dakota.

    * This sale in question only concerns a domestic trust.
    * No disbursements from offshore trusts ever went to trust companies in South Dakota or Nevada.
    * Money from offshore trusts only goes to charity, and this sale has nothing to do with an offshore trust.
    * The documents show the trust being a domestic trust.

SEC filing forms show the shares were cashed out and distributed into the Pritzker Family Foundation, which operates as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity. According to tax documents filed with the Internal Revenue Service in 2015, the Pritzker Family Foundation reported it held over $104 million in assets that year.

    * This is false. The SEC documents do not show that.
    * This sale is from a domestic trust set up in Illinois.
    * It doesn’t matter where the trustee or the trust company is located, taxes have to be paid based on where the trust was set up.
    * All applicable federal and state (Illinois) taxes were paid as a part of this transaction.

According to insider transaction documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Pritzker began unloading his shares of Hyatt Hotel Corporation stock on August 19th, 2016, less than one month after Julian Assange first published emails damaging to Hillary Clinton on WikiLeaks. At the time, Pritzker was heavily invested in Clinton’s presidential bid, donating over $15 million to Priorities USA Action, the pro-Clinton super PAC then run by current Pritzker campaign manager Anne Caprara.

    * The timeline of Hillary Clinton’s campaign has nothing to do with the timing of the sale.
    * At the time of the first sale, August 19, there was no indication that Hillary was going to lose the election.
    * The Pritzker family has restrictions on when they can sell Hyatt stock. Other Pritzkers sold stock around that time as well.

It was only after the trove of WikiLeaks emails was released, some of which contain fundraising emails and conversations with Pritzker himself, did he begin moving money out of his Hyatt fortune in the Bahamas to establish what would become, ostensibly, a hedge bet against Clinton’s unlikely loss in November. Pritzker personally signed off on the documents that show he used shell companies established in South Dakota and Nevada to complete the multi-million dollar transactions.

    * Again, this transaction has nothing to do with the Bahamas. If you look at the linked document it’s from 2010, not 2016.
    * The Pritzker family has restrictions on when they can sell Hyatt stock. Other Pritzkers sold stock around that time as well.
    * Hillary Clinton’s campaign had nothing to do with the timing of the transaction. Again, everyone thought she was going to win until election day. Even Trump’s campaign thought he was going to lose on election night.
    * They’re not shell companies, they’re trustees
    * No money from offshore trusts ever went to trust companies in South Dakota or Nevada.

Each of these stock transactions appears to have been conducted legally, but Pritzker’s political rivals will almost certainly raise questions about the timing and the ethics of the maneuvers, the civic duty of would-be public servants to pay taxes, the apparent contradiction between his transactions and his public statements calling on the wealthy to “pay their fair share,” and his pledge on Tuesday night to create a “truly blind trust” that would separate him from conflicts of interest.

    * These transactions were done legally. Period.
    * Trusts for JB’s benefit paid all applicable taxes on these transactions as Mark reports in the paragraphs previously.


*** UPDATE *** Maxwell has responded. Click here for his thread.

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      

Silverstein narrowly escapes the boot as Rotheimer holds press conference

Monday, Jan 29, 2018

* Chicago Board of Election Commissioners hearing officer Maurice Sone has recommended that Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago) remain on the ballot because he has two more signatures than the minimum 1,000

City election officials initially determined that Silverstein was about 45 signatures short, prompting a hearing at which lawyers for both sides were able to make their case.

Silverstein’s lawyer initially presented affidavits that were supposed to attest to the veracity of 116 of the signatures in question. Sone, however, compared the signatures on those affidavits to the signatures on the original petitions and was not convinced by the vast majority of them, rehabilitating just 26 of them. By the end of the first day, Silverstein appeared to be still 19 short of the minimum.

On the following hearing day, Silverstein appeared with more than two dozen of his allies, who testified in person that some of the petition signatures in question were theirs. A handwriting expert also gave hours of testimony defending many signatures that had been called into question.

Lawyers for the district resident trying to get Silverstein kicked off presented their own handwriting expert, and they offered several affidavits from people who said they were falsely identified on Silverstein’s petitions. Those attorneys also argued that Silverstein’s campaign had mishandled the process because a watcher from his campaign was not always present to defend the signatures as they were called into question during the board’s initial review.

* NBC 5

Despite the recommendation, one of the attorneys contesting the petition says that the fight to rule Silverstein off of the ballot is not over.

“There are insufficient signatures, which we proved,” election attorney Burt Odelson said. “The board or the court will rule him off the ballot. (It’s) almost unbelievable an incumbent senator didn’t have enough signatures.”

Silverstein is in a five-way primary for the 8th District Senate Seat on Chicago’s North Side that he has held for 18 years. […]

While Sunday’s ruling was certainly good news for Silverstein, the decision is not final and the battle is not over yet. The Electoral Board was slated to consider Sone’s recommendation in a meeting Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.

Regardless of what happens now, it’s clear an incumbent Senator who is also a ward committeeman with an aldermanic spouse was so damaged by the Rotheimer allegations that he had very real trouble gathering enough petition signatures to safely put him on the ballot. And the incumbent has spent the past several weeks trying to stay on the ballot instead of campaigning.

* There’s also stuff like this

Does [Sen. Silverstein] want to offer anyone an apology? “I don’t want to answer that,” he said. “I wouldn’t do what I did again, but I’m moving on.”

* However, Rotheimer is planning a press conference today intended to criticize the inspector general. Press release…

I am going to speak on the flaws, inconsistencies, victim-blaming tactics, omissions and contradictions in Julie Porter’s report on her investigation into the Silverstein “Abuse of Power” complaint I filed in 2016 and attached. She promised the public that she would conduct a thorough and complete investigation which she did not.

There were two issues at hand in Porter’s investigation:

    1. Allegation Silverstein behaved unethically by using his status as the bill’s sponsor to cultivate a personal relationship with Rotheimer.
    2. Allegation Silverstein killed the bill in retaliation for what he believed to be Rotheimer’s relationship with another man. […]

There will be other survivors at the press conference on Monday, January 29, 2017 at 11 a.m. to discuss similar grievances from the way their complaints are being handled.

You can watch the Rotheimer presser by clicking here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - NASW cautions not to pile on new IG *** ACLU lawyer criticizes Rauner admin for replacing longtime DCFS watchdog with “insider”

Monday, Jan 29, 2018


The longtime top watchdog for Illinois’ troubled child-welfare system — who’s been highly critical of the agency’s former director leading up to his resignation amid a corruption scandal last year — is now being replaced by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Gov. Bruce Rauner announced last week he’s appointing a replacement to Denise Kane, who was the first-ever inspector general for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. […]

Kane’s colleagues in the child welfare system are calling her tenure as “effective,” “fearless,” and “tenacious.”

The change in leadership comes after Kane published what will be her final annual report of DCFS, which included a biting critique of former Director George Sheldon’s leadership. Sheldon resigned last year under the cloud of a corruption investigation by Kane’s office into contracting and hiring. He was also facing questions about the death of 17-month-old Semaj Crosby, whose family had repeatedly been investigated by DCFS before her body was found under a couch in her Joliet home.

In the same report, Kane wrote that around the same time she was investigating Sheldon, DCFS contended she was overstepping her boundaries. […]

When asked if Kane’s biting report played a role in Rauner replacing her as DCFS’ watchdog, Rauner spokeswoman Rachel Bold responded, “It did not.” Kane’s term expired this year, after she served for governors from both parties over five administrations.

* I checked in with Ben Wolf, a top attorney with the Illinois ACLU who has been working on the DCFS problem for years. Wolf is quoted in the WBEZ story saying nice things about former IG Kane, but I was curious what he thought about this new turn of events.

“The more we learn about this decision, the more troubled we are,” Wolf said. Kane had a “record of independence and courage,” but the Rauner administration “replaced her with somebody who appears to be an insider,” Wolf said.

“That’s not the kind of background that we would endorse for an inspector general at this very troubled agency.”

The worry, as I take it, is that the Rauner administration will “solve” some of DCFS’ problems by appointing somebody who won’t be as aggressive.

Wolf went on to point out that Kane’s replacement, Meryl Paniak, had been an ethics officer at DCFS. If she was in that post during DCFS’ recent troubles with its former director’s “contracting practices,” he said, “that would only add to our concerns.”

Paniak was Chief Counsel in the Office of Legislative Affairs at DCFS before being upgraded to IG.

However, in her defense, Paniak has an MSW in social work and served as an attorney for the Cook County Office of the Public Guardian starting way back in 1992.

*** UPDATE *** From Kyle Hillman at the National Association of Social Workers, Illinois Chapter…

I think the timing, regarding the switch at DCFS, should give everyone pause – however, I would caution people from piling on Meryl Paniak. Our work with Paniak has been nothing but professional throughout the years. She is a strong advocate for the children in DCFS with an educational background that could bring a fresh look at oversight. She is hardly a Bruce Rauner insider and ACLU Illinois would be wise to keep their criticism toward the action of Kane’s removal rather than an unfair character hit against someone who has spent her career working to fight for children in state care. At minimum give the appointee an opportunity to prove her independence and professionalism in the job.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      

Berrios sues over fines while Burke may face ethics probe

Monday, Jan 29, 2018

* From earlier this month

Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios is facing $41,000 in fines for failing to return campaign contributions from property tax appeals lawyers whose donations exceeded legal limits, according to a pair of new rulings by the county ethics board.

The rulings raise the level of scrutiny on campaign contributions given by appeals lawyers to Berrios, who doubles as chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party and depends heavily on their donations in raising political funds. The action also ignites another high-profile showdown with the county Board of Ethics, with which he previously clashed over nepotism issues.

At the center of the ethics board’s rulings is a 2016 county ordinance stating that donors who seek “official action” with the county may contribute no more than $750 in nonelection years. Attorneys for Berrios are seeking to overturn the rulings, arguing that the county limits are unconstitutional and that higher limits set by state law should apply, among other objections.

The fines add to the controversy surrounding Berrios, who is heading into a March primary as he bids for a third four-year term as assessor.

* Friday night

Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios filed a lawsuit Friday that challenges a county ordinance limiting campaign donations, saying it unconstitutionally restricts the free-speech rights of contributors.

“I plan to make sure that every resident in Cook County is afforded the opportunity to exercise their First Amendment right when it comes to contributing to their candidate of choice, whoever that may be,” Berrios said in a statement.

Berrios also maintains that the Illinois Constitution gives governing authority over election issues to the state and that Cook County does not have the power to set its own limits.

The lawsuit against the Cook County Board of Commissioners and its Board of Ethics opens a new front in a battle over the contributions Berrios accepts, particularly from property tax appeals attorneys who seek to lower real estate assessments through his office.

* Also on Friday…

Progressive Democrat Fritz Kaegi, candidate for Cook County Assessor, issued a statement on Friday in response to embattled incumbent Assessor Joe Berrios’ absence from the scheduled candidate interview session with the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board. The statement follows:

“Assessor Berrios’ skipping of the Sun-Times editorial board meeting is another slap in face for Cook County taxpayers. Berrios continues to dodge any opportunity–and he’s had plenty–to come clean about issues that have been plaguing his office for years…”

* Friday morning…

Congressman Bobby Rush (D-1) endorsed progressive Democrat Fritz Kaegi for Cook County Tax Assessor on Friday, joining a growing list of Democratic Party leaders rejecting embattled incumbent Joe Berrios.

* In related news, this is from last week

Influential Ald. Ed Burke has sidelined an effort to increase the property taxes paid by the owners of two buildings his law firm represents on assessment appeals, a move one Chicago City Council colleague and ethics experts say could violate conflict-of-interest rules.

The issue arose last week after 22nd Ward Ald. Ricardo Munoz, joined by nearly two dozen aldermen, introduced a measure that would force Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration to take legal steps to try to increase the assessed property values of seven prime commercial buildings. Munoz contended the properties were sold for more than twice as much as Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios valued them.

* Friday night

City ethics officials are looking into whether longtime Ald. Ed Burke, 14th, violated ethics rules when he sidelined an effort to increase the property taxes paid by the owners of two buildings his law firm represents, according to the alderman whose effort he blocked.

Ald. Ricardo Munoz, 22nd, said the Chicago Board of Ethics told him it would take up the issue as soon as next month.

The machine is just having a grand ol’ time these days.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      

Taxpayers settled Daiber retaliation case for $500,000

Monday, Jan 29, 2018

* Tribune

As he campaigns for the Democratic governor nomination, Downstate schools administrator Bob Daiber is calling for Illinois to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, saying it’s time to guarantee equality for men and women.

“I am proud of the fact that my staff that works for me is 80 percent female, and I have great relationships,” Daiber said at a late October forum in Chicago. “Because I build my office on one word: respect. And I think that’s what all women want, and that’s what I am all about.”

But records show that Madison County taxpayers paid nearly $500,000 to settle a 2010 lawsuit after a federal jury found Daiber retaliated against a woman by laying her off after she complained she wasn’t being paid as much as a male colleague.

Daiber described the case as an “unfortunate situation,” but denied retaliating against the employee. Daiber said he tried to work with her to find a resolution, and added that he has built a reputation as a fair employer who has worked to help women achieve leadership roles in education and government.


…Adding… According to the Daiber campaign, the county’s insurer paid the settlement.

* In other news, we talked about this ad last week, but here’s the press release…

Today, Citizens for Rauner launched a new TV ad entitled “That’s the One I Would Want.”

Despite Pritzker saying that “no one knew the FBI was investigating the man,” it was widely reported that the FBI was looking into Blagojevich’s corruption well before Pritzker’s fateful conversations with the soon-to-be federal inmate. In this ad, Pritzker can be heard asking Blagojevich to appoint him as State Treasurer, very clearly stating “that’s the one I would want.”

JB Pritzker is just another corrupt insider who is part of the problem. The people of Illinois deserve to know the truth.

The spot is here.

* Saturday…

Today, JB Pritzker and State Representative Juliana Stratton hosted a panel with DACA recipients to discuss the policy changes needed at the state and federal levels to protect immigrant communities and help families thrive. As JB and Juliana moderated the panel, they learned about the obstacles DACA recipients face pursuing a college education, obtaining work permits, and securing healthcare for their families.

“Illinois should be a welcoming state where everyone is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve,” said JB Pritzker. “But right now, immigrant families across our state are under assault by a racist, bigoted president and his partner in Springfield, Bruce Rauner. We can’t remain silent, we need to listen to immigrant communities and stand together to protect the people of our state. There is no doubt DACA recipients deserve every opportunity to thrive in Illinois and when I’m governor, immigrant families will never have to question if they have a partner and an advocate in Springfield.”

* Today…

On Thursday, February 1, Daniel Biss will kick off a seven day tour visiting colleges across Illinois to meet with voters and share his vision for an Illinois that works for all of us. Daniel has fought in the legislature and on the campaign trail to make higher education accessible to every Illinoisan, including advocating for free in-state tuition at public colleges and universities and introducing, passing, and overriding Bruce Rauner’s veto of the Student Loan Bill of Rights.

“Students have so much at stake in this election,” said Daniel Biss. “Under Bruce Rauner’s administration, students have lost their MAP grants and seen academic programs cut while being asked to pay more and more every year. This tour is about acknowledging the challenges of the last three years and charting the road forward for the next thirty. It’s about joining together on our campuses and in our communities to build a state that guarantees every Illinoisan the opportunity to pursue higher education, exercise their right to healthcare, and earn a living wage.”

Over the course of the tour, Biss will visit 13 college and university campuses across Illinois.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      

Vallas gears up for yet another campaign

Monday, Jan 29, 2018

* The Tribune looks at a possible Paul Vallas mayoral bid

Vallas’ recent move back into the city could open him up to attacks that he’s a campaign carpetbagger. His role in an aggressive expansion of charter schools under former Mayor Richard M. Daley would all but guarantee opposition from the Chicago Teachers Union and grassroots education activists. And his time as budget director could leave an opening for Emanuel to paint Vallas as having a role in Daley’s financial mismanagement of the city.

Plus, there is Vallas’ history with an education consultant who later would end up at the center of a kickback scandal that landed former CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett in federal prison. At a minimum, those ties would require some explaining from Vallas, which he’s done little of publicly to date. […]

It’s also unclear what political base Vallas could claim. He’d have to find his lane in a field that already includes Emanuel and Chicago principals association president Troy LaRaviere, a favorite of teachers and progressives. Former police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer also continue to mull possible runs.

* Greg Hinz

But Vallas is somewhat more conservative than Emanuel, something that could hurt in a city that has moved to the political left in recent decades. He never has been a particularly strong fundraiser, and he’s been away from city politics long enough that someone with a deep war chest such as Emanuel could define him to younger voters.

* Sun-Times reporter Dan Mihalopoulos

That would not be wise. At all.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

Rauner ends crisis he created by cutting a deal with people he appointed

Monday, Jan 29, 2018

* From a late Friday afternoon Rauner administration press release

A compromise negotiated this week has paved the way for more Illinois schools to participate in the Invest in Kids scholarship tax-credit program, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner announced today. The move leaves the General Assembly clear to act swiftly to fully implement the requested cleanups to the state’s historic funding law. […]

The compromise announced today allows ISBE to notify IDOR in real time as new schools become recognized, eliminating the lag time that prevented schools from participating in this program.

Earlier this month, the governor used his amendatory veto power to address an issue that prevented a number of schools from participating in invest in kids; they had not achieved “recognition” status by the Illinois State Board of Education in time.

* The Tribune’s Kim Geiger explains

But it’s an election year, and Rauner is running as Illinois’ education governor, with the funding formula bill as his signature achievement. His State of the State speech is Wednesday.

So the governor “negotiated” a “compromise” with his own education agency.

As it turns out, changing the funding formula bill wasn’t necessary to achieve the governor’s objective of making more schools eligible for the new tax credit program. All that was needed was for the State Board of Education, whose members are appointed by the governor, to start accepting applications for the tax credit program on a rolling basis throughout the school year. ISBE agreed to do that, and thus the “compromise” was struck.

To the degree that members of the General Assembly have any role to play in the deal, Rauner now wants them to re-pass the legislation he vetoed. Or, as the governor put it in his announcement, “the move leaves the General Assembly clear to act swiftly to fully implement” the bill it already passed once. (It could do that by overriding his veto.)

* Speaking of the governor’s State of the State

Kent Redfield, retired professor of political science at the University of Illinois Springfield, said he expects Rauner will talk about education funding, early childhood education and criminal justice reform as accomplishments during the speech.

“Everything gets dicey beyond that,” he said. “He’s certainly not going to take a victory lap in terms we normally think of that.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Rauner, Ives meet today at 11

Monday, Jan 29, 2018

* Tribune

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and primary challenger state Rep. Jeanne Ives will appear before the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board at 11 a.m. Monday for an endorsement session that will be streamed online here.

It’s the first time since Ives announced her campaign that voters will have a chance to see the two candidates together. And it might be the last.

No televised debates between the two are scheduled, and Rauner has been careful not to talk about Ives much, once suggesting she is a “fringe” candidate.

Click here to watch it.

* Meanwhile, the Ives campaign sent this out yesterday…

Yesterday, State Representative Jeanne Ives, a conservative reform Republican for Governor, made several campaign stops in Southern Illinois. Ives spoke to voters and press at Meet & Greets in Newton and Litchfield, Illinois. Later, she delivered the keynote address at the Jersey County Lincoln Day Dinner, during which she defined the choice Republican voters have in the 2018 election. Ives told the audience, “Bruce Rauner doesn’t understand you. He doesn’t respect you. And that is why it was so easy for him to betray you.”


Likely previews of her attacks are in that clip.

*** UPDATE *** The live video isn’t yet on the Tribune’s website, but it is on the paper’s Facebook page. Click here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   79 Comments      

Chris Kennedy isn’t ready for prime time

Monday, Jan 29, 2018

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

For a while now, the book on Chris Kennedy has been that he may not be cut out for a career in politics, despite his famous last name and pedigree as the son of Bobby Kennedy and nephew of John F. Kennedy.

That thinking goes all the way back to Kennedy’s disastrous performance after a breakfast speech to Illinois delegates during the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Kennedy had a serious freak-out experience in front of TV cameras as reporters jumped on an elevator with him to ask questions.

The Democratic gubernatorial candidate has had some weird, uncomfortable moments since then, but none so weird and uncomfortable as a recent media availability.

By now, most everyone bothering to read this knows what happened. Kennedy was asked whether Gov. Bruce Rauner is “almost becoming like a super PAC for you as he’s trying to undermine JB Pritzker,” with Rauner’s constant anti-Pritzker hits on property taxes, House Speaker Michael Madigan and imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Kennedy responded by defending the Republican governor. “I think Bruce Rauner is trying to do what he thinks is best for the state of Illinois,” Kennedy said. “Now, we may disagree on what that is, but his willingness to speak truth to power, to take on the powers that have been strangling our economy for decades in this state is something that I think he should be applauded for.”

I kinda get where Kennedy was trying to go there. There is a strong vein within the Democratic Party that despises the party’s powers that be. By attacking powerful and unpopular Democrats, Kennedy believes he can reach those sorts of folks and also immunize himself against attacks by Rauner during the fall election (I doubt it’ll work because Rauner will use his favorite “Blame Madigan!” issue no matter who the nominee is, but whatever).

Before he can take on Rauner in the fall, however, Kennedy has to win a Democratic primary this spring. I shouldn’t have to even say this, but Democrats don’t usually win Democratic primaries by going out of their way to heap compliments on an incumbent Republican who polls worse among Democratic primary voters than … well, just go ahead and complete that sentence yourself with the worst possible thing you can imagine.

There were plenty of other ways to say what Kennedy said without patting Bruce Rauner on the back. You’d think just about any half-competent candidate could come up with a few if pressed as Kennedy was last week. That this was the way he chose to answer the question shows as much about Kennedy’s abilities as a candidate as his abject failure to raise significant campaign funds.

There was also a blowup last week when Kennedy pulled a no-class stunt during a candidates’ forum. He was asked to say something nice about the other candidates, but Kennedy said he just couldn’t say anything positive about his billionaire rival Pritzker.

Kennedy most definitely didn’t come off as a happy warrior during that forum. He seemed grumpy the whole time. But not many people actually watched it. That’s the biggest mistake too often made by people in this business. We all follow state politics closely, but we forget that few others do. Even so, I would venture a guess that if “normal” people do hear anything about the forum through their various networks, Kennedy’s insult will be high on that list.

What struck me the most, however, was something I haven’t seen reported elsewhere.

Kennedy said he wanted to put another billion dollars a year into higher education, and the forum’s moderator Carol Marin asked him how he would pay for it.

“There’s two buildings in Chicago that are so under-assessed relative to their sales price, there’s a billion dollars of missing value from them alone,” Kennedy declared. “That should pay five percent a year in taxes. That’s $50 million a year.”

While I have no problem with booting Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios from office, I don’t think the man can be blamed for underfunded state universities. Kennedy is apparently so caught up in his property tax reform shtick that it has become his go-to answer on pretty much everything. Property taxes are local revenues. The state doesn’t get a cut.

Kennedy’s response was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard proposed by a supposedly legitimate candidate for governor — and that’s really saying something. With early voting about to begin, Kennedy still hasn’t demonstrated that he’s ready for prime time.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      

* More evidence that Tribune editorial board members don't read their own newspaper
* *** UPDATED x2 *** IHSA defies governor
* Sun-Times Editorial Board: Save The Solar Industry In Veto Session
* Context is key
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Lightfoot and city's top public health doc clearly not on the same page as mayor responded to mitigation order
* 6,110 new cases, 51 additional deaths, 2,861 hospitalized, 6.7 percent positivity rate - Springfield region one day away from mitigation mark
* Lake and McHenry counties' turn in mitigation
* Question of the day
* *** UPDATED x2 *** After weeks of enduring attacks, Londrigan puts up new explainer ad
* Rate Ives' closing cable ad
* COVID-19 roundup
* Today's number: 124,000 hours of IDES overtime
* Downstate manufacturing training academies to be created by state
* Urbana city council calls on Pritzker to enact utility disconnection moratorium
* React rolls in to winter prep sports changes
* Open thread
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today's edition and some campaign news
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Yesterday's stories

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