Following tonight’s Democratic Forum on NBC 5 Chicago, Citizens for Rauner Communications Director Will Allison released the following statement:
“JB Pritzker’s response to the very first question of tonight’s debate gave voters the answer they need: Pritzker can’t give a clear explanation as to why he was seemingly the only person in Illinois who didn’t know that now-imprisoned Governor Rod Blagojevich was under investigation in 2008.”
- Citizens for Rauner Communications Director Will Allison
Governor Rauner said it best last week: “It shows how pathetic our system is, how broken. Anyone who would use an excuse and say, ‘I did something immoral, unethical, disgusting, and self-dealing, but I didn’t go to jail, so it’s ok.’ Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me?”
After Pritzker touted his union support as evidence that he was the best candidate to take on pension reform, Biss said:
“JB was funding the right wing organization that was trying to push for much much more changes to pensions - it was trying to do away with pensions all together and replace them with 401Ks, something I never supported.”
* The Pritzker campaign was sending out “reality check” e-mails throughout the debate…
REALITY CHECK: Kennedy Supported Rahm Emanuel, Until He Didn’t
On the campaign trail, Chris Kennedy has all but declared war on Rahm Emanuel, but he has a closer relationship with the mayor than he’d like to admit. In 2014, Kennedy praised Emanuel’s leadership and donated $5,000 to his re-election campaign. Kennedy even sought Emanuel’s endorsement prior to his run for governor. And while his primary criticism of Emanuel is his “strategic gentrification plan” to push African Americans residents out of Chicago, Kennedy himself skirted requirements to include affordable housing units at Wolf Point.
Chris Kennedy donated $5,000 to Rahm Emanuel’s re-election campaign in 2014 and praised Emanuel’s leadership in a speech in front of Wolf Point, even comparing him to Joe Kennedy.
Despite claiming Emanuel has a “strategic gentrification plan” that pushes African Americans out of Chicago, Kennedy hired zoning lawyers to avoid affordable housing unit requirements at his luxury Wolf Point development.
Chris Kennedy even asked Emanuel for his endorsement in the governor’s race.
REALITY CHECK: JB Pritzker Has a Plan to Reform Our Criminal Justice System
JB Pritzker has a four-point plan to reform our criminal justice system and give all Illinoisans a chance to reach their full potential. JB’s plan focuses on legalizing marijuana and modernizing sentencing practices, reducing recidivism rates, reforming the juvenile justice system, and treating gun violence like a public health epidemic. With these reforms, JB will help build a criminal justice system that delivers justice to victims, rehabilitates individuals, and builds safer communities after decades of systemic disinvestment.
JB’s plan will legalize marijuana in a safe way and modernize sentencing laws to reverse the foundational causes of mass incarceration that disproportionately impact communities of color.
To reduce the recidivism rate, JB will prioritize rehabilitation and re-entry services for incarcerated people and create economic opportunities in all of our communities.
JB will promote rehabilitative alternatives to prosecution and incarceration in our juvenile justice system with a focus on restorative justice.
JB will address gun violence as a public health epidemic and hold police more accountable to the communities they serve.
REALITY CHECK: Biss Voted for Mike Madigan and Ran Madigan’s SuperPAC
Despite trying to put daylight between himself and Mike Madigan now, Daniel Biss is closer to the House Speaker than he’d like to admit. Biss accepted Madigan’s help to get elected to office in 2010 and then voted for Madigan for Speaker the following year. Biss accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Speaker’s state party. In 2016, he even ran Madigan’s Super PAC. While Biss uses anti-Madigan campaign rhetoric on the campaign trail, his years of loyalty to the Speaker tell a much different story.
In 2010, Daniel Biss accepted Madigan’s help to get elected, receiving $14,374.35 in in-kind contributions from Friends of Michael J. Madigan.
In 2011, Biss voted for Mike Madigan to be Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives.
Over the years, Biss has accepted nearly $250,000 from the Democratic Party chaired by Madigan.
In 2016, Biss also ran Mike Madigan’s Super PAC, Leading Illinois for Tomorrow (LIFT), filling its coffers with millions from Madigan and top allies.
Biss did run that Super PAC and Pritzker was one of its top donors.
REALITY CHECK: Kennedy Is Against Legalizing Marijuana
Unlike what he said tonight, Chris Kennedy is against the legalization of marijuana despite the fact that it could bring in $350 to $700 million annually in much needed revenue. Kennedy said it’s “dangerous” to legalize recreational marijuana, calling it a “public health hazard.” However, studies show legal marijuana can actually help combat opioid addiction, and is less harmful than tobacco or alcohol. If Kennedy’s preference for decriminalizing marijuana instead of legalizing was all that was implemented, it could mean fines and jail time that would disproportionately impact communities of color.
Chris Kennedy called legalizing marijuana “dangerous” and a “public health hazard.”
While Chris Kennedy supports decriminalization, this alone could still mean fines or jail times that disproportionately impact communities of color.
A variety of studies have found that marijuana can be legalized safely, including a University of British Columbia study that found, “using marijuana could help some alcoholics and people addicted to opioids kick their habits.”
REALITY CHECK: JB Pritzker Has a Plan to Expand Healthcare for Illinois Families
JB is committed to defending the progress we’ve made under the Affordable Care Act and building on that progress to ensure all Illinoisans have quality care. JB was the first candidate in this race to put forward a comprehensive plan to expand healthcare for Illinois’ working families. In early August, JB introduced his plan, IllinoisCares, which would allow every Illinois resident to have access to quality, affordable healthcare through a public option. If implemented, Illinois would be the first state in the nation to expand healthcare in this way, at little to no cost to the taxpayer.
JB’s plan for healthcare, IllinoisCares, would be a first-in-the-nation program allowing Illinois residents to buy into the state’s Medicaid program.
The Medicaid buy-in option would expand quality, affordable healthcare for Illinois’ working families across the state.
JB has also been a fierce advocate for President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, running a statewide ad campaign to encourage Illinoisans to sign up after Donald Trump slashed the advertising budget and shortened the enrollment period.
REALITY CHECK: Biss Led Efforts to Cut Benefits for Working Families
In 2013, Daniel Biss helped write legislation to slash pensions for hundreds of thousands of workers, earning him the lowest lifetime AFL-CIO rating of any Democrat in the Senate. Were it not for the Supreme Court stepping in and ruling Biss’ bill unconstitutional, the bill would have had a devastating effect on Illinois workers.
Daniel Biss helped write legislation to cut pensions for more than 467,000 downstate teachers, university workers, and state employees.
Biss also voted for $1.6 billion in cuts to Medicaid and to strip some employees of collective bargaining rights.
Biss’ attacks on working families in the General Assembly earned him a 62% lifetime rating from the AFL-CIO through 2015, the worst of any Democrat in the State Senate.
JB Pritzker Makes Choice Clear in First Democratic Debate
Chicago, IL – At the first televised debate among Democratic candidates for governor, JB Pritzker demonstrated why he is the only candidate ready to take on Bruce Rauner. JB clearly laid out his vision for Illinois and spoke about his plans to expand healthcare, pass a progressive income tax, and invest in communities that have suffered from decades of disinvestment.
“Tonight, JB Pritzker showed Illinois why he’s the only candidate capable of beating Bruce Rauner,” said Pritzker campaign manager Anne Caprara. “With focus and force, JB made a clear case for his candidacy and proved why this failed governor is already running scared. JB took charge, laying out his vision for Illinois and his real policy plans to get this state back on track. Illinoisans watching across the state saw JB for the strong leader he is – ready to bring people together and move Illinois forward.”
* We’ll talk lots more about this topic tomorrow, but here’s the last Pritzker e-mail I received tonight…
Chris Kennedy Compliments Rauner, But Can’t Say a Single Nice Thing About a Democrat
Chicago, IL – While Chris Kennedy has been “applauding” Bruce Rauner for the past few days, he couldn’t muster a single nice thing to say about a Democrat running for governor at the NBC 5 / Telemundo debate tonight.
On Friday, Kennedy said, “I think Bruce Rauner is trying to do what he thinks is best for the state of Illinois,” and praised Rauner’s “willingness to speak truth to power.” But when asked to name something positive about JB, Kennedy paused for six seconds before resorting to his desperate Rauner playbook of attacking JB.
“While Chris Kennedy has heaped praise on Bruce Rauner for speaking ‘truth to power,’ in a stunning display of ungraciousness, he refused to name a single positive thing about JB,” said Pritzker communications director Galia Slayen. “JB praised the Kennedy family for their work on the Special Olympics, but Chris would rather praise the Worst Republican Governor in America than a Democrat running for governor.”
On May 31, 2017, House Resolution Number 100 was adopted and directed the Office of the Auditor General to conduct an audit of Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (MCOs), which included a comparison of State expenditures between MCOs and the Medicaid fee-for-service program for fiscal year 2016.
The audit found:
Auditors determined that the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) did not maintain the complete and accurate information needed to adequately monitor $7.11 billion in payments made to and by the 12 MCOs during FY16.
Specifically, HFS could not provide auditors with the following information:
* all paid claims to Medicaid providers by the MCOs in FY16;
* Medicaid provider claims denied by MCOs in FY16;
* the administrative costs incurred by MCOs in FY16;
* the coordinated care costs incurred by MCOs in FY16; and
* Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) calculations since calendar year 2012.
* In FY16, HFS made multiple monthly capitation payments to MCOs for the same months for the same individuals totaling $590,237.
The audit recommends HFS should:
1) monitor the actual administrative costs incurred by its MCOs to ensure that the administrative costs do not exceed what is allowed by contract;
2) calculate the Medical Loss Ratios for the previous four calendar years (2013 through 2016), and determine whether the State should be reimbursed by MCOs due to overpayment;
3) require all MCOs to submit all Medicaid provider payment data for all services (including DASA, LTC, and waiver services), and perform on-site reviews of the MCOs’ financial data systems and test the completeness and accuracy of the data reported to HFS that is used to monitor the payments made to Medicaid providers;
4) provide clear guidance to the MCOs for reporting denied claims, and ensure that MCOs provide the denied claims to HFS as required by contract;
5) ensure multiple monthly capitation payments are not being made for the same Medicaid recipients, immediately identify and remove all duplicative recipients from its eligibility data, and recoup any overpayment of duplicate capitation payments; and
6) ensure that it effectively monitors the newly awarded MCO contracts to ensure compliance with all contractual provisions.
I just read the Auditor General’s performance audit of the FY 16 MCO contracts. The most damning part of the report is the conclusion that ‘HFS did not maintain the complete and accurate information needed to adequately monitor $7.11 billion in payments made to and by the 12 MCOS during Fiscal Year 16.’
This is another example of the hypocrisy of Governor Rauner. He runs around the state claiming to be a fiscal conservative, but his real record as Governor reflects extreme financial mismanagement.
Gov. Rauner: I am not. So, to be clear, my assets, all my investments are in a trust that I don’t control. I did that when I became governor. I can’t comment on any business disputes. That gets settled in its own process.
Reporter: Is that the reason why it’s sealed because it’s through a blind trust?
Gov. Rauner: I can’t even tell you, I mean, I don’t really have much to do with that.
Reporter: Is there attorneys who are doing that?
Gov. Rauner: I assume. I don’t know.
Rauner aide: Alright, thanks everyone.
He didn’t know anything about it and didn’t have much to do with it, eh?
Rauner invested $5 million as a limited partner in Kirkpatrick Capital to acquire a minority share in United Shore Financial Services, LLC (”United Shore”), a privately held mortgage lender.
Rauner received an exceptional return on that investment which was made possible by a settlement of two distinct disputes with United Shore—a personal bonus claim brought by Kirkpatrick against United Shore and derivative claim brought by Kirkpatrick Capital against United Shore. This parties’ dispute concerns the allocation of those settlement proceeds. Rauner’s share of the settlement proceeds turned his $5 million investment into more than $20 million.
This $15 million gain, however, apparently is not enough for Rauner. Rauner now seeks to cut-off Kirkpatrick, in a confidential arbitration closed to public scrutiny, from his fair share of the settlement proceeds by seeking to ensure his own, self-serving interpretation of the United Shore settlement agreement (even though he is not a party to it). Rauner seeks to use Kirkpatrick Capital’s partnership agreement as a shield in the proceeding, alleging that his claims arise under Kirkpatrick Capital’s partnership agreement (which has an arbitration clause). Rauner’s claims, however, do not arise from the partnership agreement, but instead from the settlement agreement (which requires litigation in this Court) and therefore must be heard in this Court. […]
Kirkpatrick specifically kept Rauner informed throughout the litigation regarding his objectives in terms of a return on Rauner’s investment and the allocation of the settlement proceeds. At an in-person meeting in Springfield, Illinois, on May 11, 2015, on the back porch of the Governor’s mansion, Kirkpatrick laid out his expectations regarding the return to Kirkpatrick Capital from a settlement and the allocation of the settlement. These expectations were updated and communicated at a second in-person meeting between Rauner and Kirkpatrick at the Chicago Club on the evening of September 15, 2015. At neither meeting did Rauner object to the proposed allocation of the settlement proceeds, nor the return on his investment he would receive. […]
Rauner’s total proceeds from the United Shore investment were approximately $20 million, with $15 million of that being profit.
In the summer of 2017, after receiving all payments due to him, Rauner filed a demand for arbitration before the American Arbitration Association that the settlement agreement precludes Kirkpatrick Capital’s allocation of the United Shore settlement proceeds and claiming that Kirkpatrick and the Kirkpatrick Capital breached and interfered with the LPA.
Tellingly, Kirkpatrick Capital’s other two investors, Ganzi and Chaifetz—who are seasoned and sophisticated equity investors did not dispute or take issue with Kirkpatrick Capital’s allocation of the settlement proceeds.
Also, Politifact took a look at the “blind trust” angle. Click here. The topic will likely be revisited now that an allegation has been made that Rauner took an active role in his investments while he was governor.
*** UPDATE 1 *** Biss campaign…
“This is why we need to be careful when a billionaire uses the word “trust” colloquially. From Rauner’s investment scams to JB Pritzker and Chris Kennedy’s tax scams, it’s getting hard to tell these guys apart.” - Tom Elliott
*** UPDATE 2 *** Pritzker campaign…
Today, a judge unsealed Kip Kirkpatrick’s lawsuit against Bruce Rauner, shedding light on a business dispute Rauner had previously claimed to have no involvement in and no knowledge of.
The lawsuit details Bruce Rauner’s maneuvers as governor to maximize returns on a $5 million investment he had made in Kirkpatrick Capital. Kirkpatrick claims to have met repeatedly with Rauner, including once at the governor’s mansion, regarding his business interests despite Rauner’s claim to the public that “all my investments are in a trust that I don’t control.”
“Bruce Rauner is allegedly conducting private business out of the governors’ mansion and then openly lying about it to the public,” said Pritzker communications director Galia Slayen. “It is no wonder this failed governor tried to keep this lawsuit sealed, but now that it’s public, it is time for Bruce Rauner to tell voters the truth.”
*** UPDATE 3 *** Kathleen Murphy at the Jeanne Ives campaign…
“Lying and screwing people out of their money is apparently a practice Bruce Rauner brought with him from his dealings in the private sector to his dealings as Governor.”
* As we discussed yesterday, Chris Kennedy erroneously claimed that the Cook County Assessor had valued the Hyatt Center at $160 million even though the building has a $385 million mortgage. The assessor’s office pointed out that Kennedy didn’t do his homework because the building is actually valued for tax purposes at $382 million, reduced on appeal by the Cook County Board of Review from the assessor’s initial $396 valuation.
Greg Hinz caught up with the gubernatorial candidate today…
Today, in a phone call, Kennedy admitted his error, agreeing with Berrios that he’d looked at only some and not all of the Property Index Numbers that cover the property and its assessment.
“I’m conceding that we are missing PIN numbers,” Kennedy told me in a phone call. “The error is on me,” and not the campaign worker—a former employee of the assessor’s office whom Kennedy declined to name—who researched the matter before yesterday’s news conference.
If Berrios ran a truly open and modern office, he wouldn’t rely on multiple PINs for the same property, some of them with different street addresses, Kennedy said.
“Why do we have five different PINs? Why can’t we collapse them into one. . . .That’s just one of the signs that (Berrios’) system lacks transparency.”
Berrios’ office denied that the system is complicated, particularly for someone such as Kennedy, who ran the Merchandise Mart for years and is developing high-end apartment towers at Wolf Point.
“He’s incompetent on this issue,” Shaer said. “His family has made billions of dollars on real estate.”
* Rumors circulated last April that the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity was shutting down. Not so, the Franklin Center claimed…
“The Franklin Center has not shut down; it continues to operate and we expect growth as we progress through 2017,” said Franklin Center spokeswoman Laurel Patrick, who previously worked for Walker. “In order to achieve this growth, it is undergoing a reorganization.”
She said that the center had appointed new leadership. John Tillman, the CEO of the Illinois Policy Institute, has been named the new chairman, and Chris Krug, the publisher and general manager of the Illinois News Network and Illinois Radio Network, has been named president, Patrick said.
Krug replaces Nicole Neily, who was in the job for only a year.
“Watchdog.org will continue, and we are committed to growing that brand,” Patrick said. “The new management team will be working with all current and former employees in the coming week to find the right path forward for each person and Franklin.”
Lots of familiar names in that piece. Laurel Patrick, you will recall, was brought in last July as Gov. Rauner’s director of communications during the first round of staff purges. She was purged by late August.
* And then this press release went out today…
Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity announced today that it acquired the Illinois News Network (INN) from the Illinois Policy Institute, and will utilize INN as the template for an initiative at Watchdog.org to improve statehouse coverage nationwide.
INN – a non-profit, non-partisan news service that reports on state, regional and local issues and distributes its content from the digital hub ILNews.org – continues to attract new partners, and delivered content to 139 media outlets across Illinois in 2017.
ILNews.org published nearly 1,600 news stories in 2017, and legacy media companies republished more than 1,300 of them in their print and digital editions.
Chicago Tribune Media Group, Hearst Newspapers, Lee Enterprises, McClatchy, Paddock Publications and Shaw Media are among the legacy news companies whose newspapers and digital sites published INN’s reporting in 2017.
Franklin Center’s Watchdog.org project is a non-profit, non-partisan journalism initiative that seeks to improve the accuracy, balance and quality of statehouse news reporting across the United States.
“Acquiring INN is precisely the right next step for the future of Watchdog.org,” Franklin Center President Chris Krug said. “INN has become an essential read for Illinoisans. Our focus now moves to bringing that same journalistic energy, focus and timeliness in highly consumable news packages to readers across the country.”
Krug, named president of Franklin Center last April, has served as publisher and general manager at INN since 2016. INN was launched by IPI in 2013, and operated as an independent project prior to acquisition by Franklin Center.
Krug said that accuracy, consistency and speed have made ILNews.org a trusted statewide reporting service for media companies seeking balanced coverage in their daily reports.
“ILNews.org established itself over the past two years as a trusted source for high quality, state-focused journalism created specifically for an Illinois audience,” he said. “We weigh in on important issues every day at INN. It’s that core approach and daily execution that will benefit Watchdog.org in other states.
“Each state will require a customized approach, but will benefit from INN’s operational excellence and efficiency. We begin with an incredible core group of journalists in Illinois who will mentor and train our national editors, reporters and contributors.
“Statehouse news coverage is in need of attention and manpower across the country. Legacy media is hurting everywhere, and the resources allocated to covering state legislatures have dwindled substantially. Contextual coverage of statehouse news is the proverbial donut hole in local news coverage. The expertise we have demonstrated in Illinois will allow us to bring truth to light elsewhere, and bridge the gap for readers in states across the country,” Krug said.
Dan McCaleb, News Director at INN, was named News Director for Watchdog.org. McCaleb will focus on building each of the forthcoming Watchdog.org state news teams.
“Dan has uncommon drive,” Krug said. “He has a true passion for finding the truth. He is an excellent news leader and manager who understands and meets the expectations of readers in the digital age. The editors and reporters Dan recruits into the Watchdog.org project will raise the bar for statehouse reporting nationwide.”
During 2017, the CEO of Illinois Policy assumed the chairmanship of the Franklin Center, another 501(c)(3) not for profit organization, and the board of directors of that organization was reconstituted. Also during 2017, a for-profit subsidiary of the Franklin Center, named American Media Unlimited, was established. During 2017, the assets of the Illinois Radio Network, currently owned by the Institute, will be transferred to American Media Unlimited.
* While I’m feeling much better than I did a couple of weeks ago, I still have it and I’m still miserable…
Of the 30 U.S. children who have died from the flu so far this season, some 85 percent had not been vaccinated, said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, who urged Americans to get flu shots amid one of the most severe flu seasons in years.
“My message is, if you haven’t gotten a vaccine, please get a vaccine. Also, please get your children vaccinated,” said Fitzgerald, who is urging citizens “to take every advantage that you can to protect yourself.”
The dominant strain during this flu season is an especially nasty type called influenza A (H3N2) that in seasons past has been linked with severe disease and death, especially in the elderly and young. This year’s seasonal flu epidemic is especially severe.
In its latest report, the CDC said the virus is present in every state, with 32 states reporting severe flu activity.
Although the vaccine is only estimated to be about 30 percent effective against the H3N2 strain, it has been shown in studies to reduce severity and duration if people do become infected, said Dr. Dan Jernigan, director of the influenza division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Fitzgerald conceded in a telephone interview that reports that the flu vaccine in Australia was only 10 percent effective may have caused people to think the vaccine would not be worth the trouble.
Thirty kids. Wow.
I really wish I had ignored those “10 percent effective” stories and gotten the vaccine.
Rauner said marijuana has changed dramatically over the years.
“It’s not what it used to be 20, 30, 40 years ago. It’s a very potent, very dangerous drug. I think we should watch, take our time, and not rush into changes that could impact the quality of life for many Illinoisans,” the governor said.
That attitude may explain why the governor and his Department of Public Health have been dragging their feet on medical marijuana.
Tell Gov. Rauner, drop the appeal & allow medication access.
Petition by Rep. Kelly Cassidy & Sen. Heather Steans
To be delivered to Governor Bruce Rauner
The Court has ordered the Rauner administration to add chronic pain to the list of conditions in the Illinois medical cannabis program. The administration has promised to appeal rather than allow people in pain access to medication safer than addictive opioids.
If the administration won’t show compassion and allow people access to safer pain relief, the General Assembly needs to. Is it a good use of state resources to appeal the court’s decision on including chronic pain in the medical cannabis program? Tell Governor Rauner to drop the appeal and allow pain patients access to the medical cannabis program.
* Press release…
Given a choice between showing compassion for those suffering from chronic pain or pursuing a costly legal battle, the Rauner administration should choose compassion, Senator Heather Steans said today.
Steans (D-Chicago) called on Gov. Bruce Rauner to expand access to Illinois’ medical marijuana program by adding intractable pain to the qualifying condition list rather than appeal a judge’s order that the condition be added.
Intractable pain is a severe form of chronic pain that is constant and incurable. It can be resistant to treatment, but some patients can benefit from using medical cannabis.
“Gov. Rauner needs to drop the appeal and allow patients with intractable pain to have access to medical cannabis,” Steans said. “Patients should have an alternative to opioids that doesn’t force them to turn to the black market for medicine.”
A patient with intractable pain recently sued the Illinois Department of Public Health over rejecting her petition to add intractable pain to the list of qualifying medical conditions for medical cannabis. A Cook County judge ordered the IDPH director to add it to the list last week.
“It’s time for the governor to show some compassion for Illinoisans who are suffering from severe, life-altering pain and allow them to access medical cannabis for relief,” Steans said.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on Monday pointed to Northwestern University students in Evanston smoking weed with impunity as an example of the racial disparities in enforcement associated with the drug.
While addressing an Illinois House-Senate committee tasked with reviewing the implications of legalizing marijuana in Illinois — Preckwinkle is for it, by the way — she told a quick anecdote about her daughter, Jen, visiting a friend who attends Northwestern.
“My youngest, who is college aged, went to visit one of her friends up at Northwestern and she came back and she said, ‘Mom, you won’t believe it. The kids walk up and down the streets smoking dope, and nobody says anything.’
“I said: ‘Yes, Jen,’” Preckwinkle recalled in an exhausted voice.
“And then she said, ‘You know, if my friends and I did this in our neighborhood we’d be arrested.’”
“I said: ‘Yes, Jen.’”
The Preckwinkles live in the Kenwood neighborhood.
Citizens for Rauner Launches Petition for Release of All Pritzker-Blagojevich Tapes
Since JB Pritzker says he was “never accused of wrongdoing,” he should have no problem with the rest of the FBI wiretap tapes being released. We have a petition just for him, and we invite him to sign it himself. Even Patti Blagojevich, the former governor’s wife, has called for the full tapes to be released.
Today, Citizens for Rauner is starting a petition to release ALL the recordings of conversations between Pritzker and disgraced former governor Rod Blagojevich caught on FBI wiretap. This comes after the release of the full, unedited 11 minutes of conversations previously published by the Chicago Tribune.
As is widely known, the main evidence used to convict former governor Rod Blagojevich, and send him away to prison for 14 years was his private conversations with his aides, wife and brother. The conversations were secretly recorded by the government in late 2008, over eight separate phone lines, including the governor’s home phone and campaign office.
But only a tiny fraction of these tapes have ever been released despite the governor’s repeated demand that the government “release them all.”
There are literally hundreds of hours of Blagojevich tapes that the people of Illinois have never heard. When I first came onto the governor’s case in 2011, I put all of these recordings onto my ipod and spent weeks listening. I can assure you that these tapes tell a very different story about the governor than the story told by the federal prosecutors.
At trial, the government played for the jury cherry-picked excerpts of its tapes — the ones that fit its narrative that the governor tried to sell the senate seat for personal gain and betrayed the people of Illinois. In response, Blagojevich argued that the deal he tried to make for the senate seat was for the benefit of the people of Illinois, not for himself.
Blagojevich argued that he tried to negotiate a deal to appoint Lisa Madigan to the Senate in exchange for Speaker Mike Madigan’s cooperation in enacting the governor’s legislative priorities, including an infrastructure bill and healthcare reform.
Government lawyers, however, convinced Judge James Zagel to exclude the tapes in which Blagojevich discussed the Madigan deal. Then, in closing argument, the lead prosecutor deceptively told the jury to “go back and look at the calls and see how many times Lisa Madigan is actually mentioned … and you’re not going to find it.”
As the prosecutor well knew, the reason the jury couldn’t find these tapes is because the court had excluded them, at the government’s request. […]
Readers will note that this newly leaked tape illustrates exactly what Blagojevich tried to tell his jury – that the primary aim of his deal-making was to make a deal with Madigan to get a “capital bill” (to pay for new and repaired infrastructure) and “health care” reform through Madigan’s House. But the jury never heard this tape. Nor did it hear dozens of other similar taped conversations where Blagojevich worked towards a deal with Madigan.
I recently spoke with the former governor, and his response to this latest episode of selective leaking by the government of his private calls is both consistent and predictable: The government should “release them all.”
As I’ve said many times before, Blagojevich’s plan was pure fantasy. But this is a pretty clever little move by Rauner. He ain’t going down without first waging the fight of his life.
I’ve asked the Pritzker, Kennedy and Biss campaigns for comment.
*** UPDATE 1 *** Chris Kennedy campaign…
If there is nothing wrong or untoward in those FBI tapes, then this is something JB Pritzker should welcome too.
*** UPDATE 2 *** Daniel Biss campaign…
“It’s another day of team Kennedy-Rauner squaring off against team Pritzker-Blago. We can do so much better than this.” -Tom Elliott
*** UPDATE 3 *** Pritzker campaign…
Bruce Rauner is continuing to play politics in the Democratic primary so he can distract from his disastrous record as governor. Instead of falling for Rauner’s ploy, Democrats should focus on calling out his failures. This includes refusing to release documents and emails related to how 13 Veterans and spouses lost their lives due to his fatal mismanagement in Quincy, attempting to keep lawsuits against him sealed, and rejecting standard FOIA requests of his administration.
Seeking to address longstanding fears of state jobs being poached from Springfield, a local lawmaker has proposed legislation that would require most new and vacant positions to be located in Sangamon County.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez, R-Leland Grove, said the legislation, House Bill 4295, would make Springfield and the county the default location for employees of most state agencies and the governor’s office. It would require the director of Central Management Services to give a reason why a job needs to be based elsewhere.
“It’s my opinion that if those folks are providing a direct service or need to be in a different part of the state, they should be,” Jimenez said. “But for all jobs that don’t need to be in a specific geographic location, I believe and many of my constituents I think would agree that those jobs should be located in the capital city because we are the seat of state government.”
A 2016 study conducted by CMS found that nearly 400 state jobs, both filled and vacant, could be moved back to Springfield.
A total of 267 of the jobs were filled, and Jimenez had said she had no desire to uproot families by relocating them to Springfield. However, the survey said the other 119 jobs were vacant at that time.
Even if she wins in November, the conservative lawmaker running against incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner in the March Republican primary says the income tax hike that was enacted on his watch will have to remain in place for at least two more years. And Chicago and Cook County taxpayers should be prepared to dig deeper if her state budget plans pan out. […]
[Rep. Jeanne Ives] Ives said she’d start by working to repeal the income tax hike that was approved over Rauner’s veto. But “I wouldn’t do that immediately,” she said. “I suspect that, within two years, we could set that out as a goal.” […]
On her list for axing are hundreds of millions of dollars of year in new state funding that CPS got under terms of the fiscal 2018 state budget. Chicago, for purposes of the new aid formula, is considered a poor, Tier IV district, even though in reality the city economy is doing so well that Chicago actually is Tier 1, she said. […]
Ives would save another big chunk in the budget by eliminating the Obamacare expansion and making other cuts in Medicaid, even though the former has shifted hundreds of millions of dollars a year from Cook County taxpayers to the state and federal governments. “Chicago’s got a lot more state support than they should,” she said. And if that means local taxpayers will pay more to give relief to taxpayers outside of the city, “I don’t have to win (Chicago and Cook County) to be elected, she said. “This is a 50-percent-plus-one race.” […]
New workers need to be shifted from a defined-benefit pension to a 401(k)-style defined-contribution model, perhaps with a “generous” inducement, she said. Old pension debt, roughly $120 billion just in the state retirement system, can be “renegotiated” with employee unions that have rejected such actions so far, but may come to the table as they realize some of the pension funds are “one (economic) downturn away from failing.”
Reporter: Governor, there’s a new debt transparency report that the comptroller’s office put out, and it shows that there’s going to be a $2.3 billion shortfall for this year. That seems about on par with some of the numbers that you’ve given. We’re about half way through the fiscal year, what are you gonna do about it?
Gov. Rauner: Propose a balanced budget, actually propose a process to begin to roll back the tax hike that was passed over my veto last summer. We need to…
Reporter: That’ll be in this year’s budget address?
Gov. Rauner: Correct. Unfortunately, in the budget that was passed over my veto last summer, not only was there a very large income tax increase, but there was spending that was even out of balance even after the tax increase. We have been fiscally irresponsible again. So, we’re gonna propose changes into our government operations to reduce wasteful spending so we can put more money into education. I’m gonna propose even more record funding for our schools around the state to support our teachers and our students. But change other things in the system. Pension changes and healthcare changes so that we can reduce the cost of government so we can put more money into our schools and our students.
Reporter: So, just to be clear, in this budget address you’re going to take care of a balanced budget for FY19, the $2.3 billion shortfall for FY18 and more money for education while also doing away with an income tax increase? All of those?
Gov. Rauner: We’re gonna step down, it’s gonna take a few years, we’re gonna step down the income tax increase and put more money in education and shrink the wasteful spending in government and close this deficit. This is, we’ve had a deficit now for years and even after a tax hike there’s still deficits. It’s financially irresponsible.
*** UPDATE *** Rep. Jeanne Ives…
“No one should believe Governor Rauner’s statement on stepping down the tax increase. First, everyone knows that the Governor was actually in favor of a tax increase. He openly stated as much when he took office. Secondly, the tax increase is permanent. So it would take legislative action to change the tax rate, which will be nearly impossible under the current Democrat leadership. Once again, Governor Rauner is making promises he can’t keep.
“The truth is Governor Rauner publicly removed himself from negotiations over the summer when the tax increase occurred. He didn’t make phone calls to Republican members or make any attempt to hold the caucus together on the most important vote of his tenure – the largest permanent tax increase in state history. Governor Rauner is right about one thing: he is not in charge.”
“Ending the tax increase by the end of his second term just as he promised to do at the end of his first? Fool me once…”
Chicago-based conservative radio commentator Dan Proft, an influential operative in Illinois Republican politics, has spent thousands supporting one candidate in the three-way GOP race to fill the seat held by state Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth.
From October to the end of 2017, Proft’s Liberty Principles political action committee spent $19,455 for Dan Caulkins, a former Decatur city councilman, according to documents filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections. The money has gone to television, online and direct-mail advertising.
Caulkins’ own campaign spent $14,181 in 2017 on other items such as printing, T-shirts, and radio ads. Meanwhile, state records also show his primary opponents, Piatt County Board Chairman Randy Keith and Cerro Gordo School Board President Todd Henricks, have spent a fraction of that. Keith raised $16,733 last year and reported spending $8,046. Henricks raised $13,345 and spent $2,619 in 2017.
The only Democrat in the race, Jen McMillin, raised $600 last year.
Preliminary test results show the “possible presence” of Legionella bacteria in the water system of the Illinois Capitol Complex, a memo disclosed Monday night.
Officials said they are not aware of any reports of Legionnaire’s disease, a type of pneumonia, among state employees or the public. And experts at the Illinois Department of Public Health are confident the complex is safe for state employees to go to work.
“Out of an abundance of caution and because of heightened awareness and continued misconceptions about Legionnaires’ disease, we want to make you aware of preliminary test results that indicate the possible presence of Legionella bacteria in the Capitol Complex hot water system,” said the memo sent to state employees who work in the complex from Deputy Gov. Trey Childress and Mike Wojcik, the secretary of state’s director of physical spaces.
The Secretary of State’s Office, which oversees the Capitol Complex, ordered the test after a pipe burst in the Illinois State Armory just north of the Statehouse.
“Given the fact that it was at the dead end of a pipe, we wanted to err on the side of caution and have it tested right away, which we did because of the potential for stagnated water,” Henry Haupt, a spokesman for the secretary of state, said Monday night.
Only a preliminary test has been conducted, which does not indicate whether the bacteria are alive. Only cells that are alive cause a health risk, said Ian Cull, owner of the indoor environmental consulting company Indoor Sciences.
“If water treatment is doing it’s (sic) job, you may have dead cells in the system,” Cull told Chicago Tonight via email.
The memo advises employees to avoid using showers or “removing aerators” but that “we have been advised by experts that the transmission of this bacteria in normal, day-to-day office operations is unlikely” given that Legionnaires’ disease is not spread from person to person or by drinking water, but rather by inhaling vapors from a contaminated water source.
Additional testing at the capitol complex is underway. According to the memo from Childress and Wojcik, it could take 14 days to determine whether the cells are living.
This is a good idea, even if it turns out to be a false alarm. But taking this step so early completely undermines the claims by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Public Health that early warnings like this could panic the public.
It also opens up the state to claims that it acts with an “abundance of caution” when it comes to the health of high-level Capitol Complex bureaucrats, but waits weeks to notify residents and their families of the presence of Legionnaires’ disease at the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy.
* Democratic attorney general candidate Aaron Goldstein hasn’t raised much money on his own ($6500 last quarter), but he did loan himself $185,000 and now he wants to spend it…
Aaron Goldstein’s campaign for Illinois Attorney General has released a preview of its new television commercial, entitled “Standing Next to You.” It is part of an aggressive $100,000 ad campaign which will be seen on broadcast TV, cable TV and digital media throughout the entire state beginning today. The commercial will air on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS and NBC as well as local media in markets in all of Illinois, such as Rock Island, Champaign, Carbondale, Chicago, Springfield and many more.
“We want people throughout the state who are frustrated with the status quo—politics dominated by big money, big corporations and political insiders, at the expense of everyday Illinoisans—to understand our bold progressive message,” said Goldstein. “Our campaign is about returning power to those who haven’t had a voice, and bringing fairness and justice to everyone, not just powerful special interests. I will be the People’s Defender. I will stand with the people of Illinois.”
The ad features Goldstein, who is a career public defender and civil rights attorney with the most trial experience in this race, representing clients who feel the legal and criminal justice system is rigged against them. The ad also shows Goldstein with his family: his wife Nicole, also a public defender, and their two lovely daughters.
Goldstein is running for Illinois Attorney General on a platform that includes reforming the criminal justice and police systems, including legalizing marijuana and ending the racist drug war, fighting big-money politics and public corruption, and defending Illinois against the extremist right-wing policies of the Trump administration. As Attorney General, one of his first actions will be to establish a Public Integrity Bureau within the Attorney General’s office, whose sole function will be to investigate governmental corruption and hold accountable those public officials who exploit and manipulate the system for the select few.
Sorry, but a $100,000 statewide media buy is in no way, shape or form “aggressive.” $100,000 in this state will not even have the impact of spitting into the wind.
He might’ve done himself more good by holding a press conference to give that $100K to charity
* 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.
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. […]
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.
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.
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.
* 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
* 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.
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.
* 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.
* 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.
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.
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.
*** 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.”
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
He’s been one heck of a fundraiser and has lately restored the group’s investigative chops.
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.
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.”
* It’s possible that the federal shutdown could end soon, but this is still useful information…
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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 […]
Gov. Bruce Rauner today issued an executive order declaring it impermissible for state legislators to represent clients before the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board, which hears appeals of assessment decisions made in the state’s 102 counties.
Calling the practice a “clear conflict of interest that must end,” Rauner said the order, which is effective immediately, is a key step toward restoring public trust and motivating lawmakers to tackle meaningful property-tax reform.
“We have a deeply flawed and overly complicated property-tax system that recent investigations have shown results in inequitable, disproportionately high property-tax burdens on low-income residents — not to mention our property taxes overall are simply too high,” Rauner said. “For any legislator to profit from this system undercuts the public’s faith that they are in office to do what’s best for their constituents.
“Legislators who make money representing clients who are appealing their property-tax assessments have little incentive to do what’s right when it comes to property-tax reform,” Rauner continued. “Frankly, they have everything to gain from the status quo. The action I’m taking today marks the beginning of the end of a dubious era.”
Directs members of the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board to prohibit state legislators from participating in appeals coming before them.
Directs the board to prohibit legislators from receiving any fee or compensation, directly or indirectly, through any interest in a partnership, limited liability corporation or other business entity representing clients before it.
Notes a State of Illinois Code of Personal Conduct requirement that government be conducted in a transparent, ethical, accountable and motivated manner.
Points out that state officials and employees “may not engage in outside employment or activities, including seeking or negotiating for employment, that conflict with their official state duties and responsibilities,” according to the conduct code.
Directs the board to amend its rules and procedures to reflect the executive order.
The Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board hears about 30,000 appeals a year, approximately three-fourths of them from Cook County.
“Conflicts of interest clearly arise where legislators and regulators receive financial benefits by charging Illinois citizens and businesses through a morass of red tape those same officials created by passing complicated rules and establishing confusing and bureaucratic processes,” the executive order states.
Crippling taxes overall and an onerous property-tax system are eroding the state’s ability to thrive and driving homeowners and small businesses toward insolvency — and increasingly, toward the border.
While property taxes are cited frequently as a top reason for leaving Illinois, the state is duty-bound to take concrete steps to correct the system, Rauner said. He noted the state’s population declined by an estimated 33,700 in 2017, the greatest numeric population loss of any state, and the fourth year in a row that Illinois’ population dropped.
“Illinoisans are tired of a rigged system that allows lawmakers to profit at their expense,” Rauner said. “I’m here to fight on their behalf.”
* The gubernatorial candidates were asked today what rates they’d like to see on a progressive income tax. JB Pritzker dodged the question. Chris Kennedy answered…
I think that people are entitled to understand what the brackets might look like. I think we need to make it clear that Governor Rauner’s leadership and lack thereof make it very difficult to predict will we have a budget this year or will we not. Will he rack up more unpaid bills and how do we fund that? I don’t think the high end of the range of a progressive income tax should go above a number that starts with a five. That’s what I’d say. I think it has to be somewhere between five and six percent at the high end of the range.
But this is all for naught. I mean, truthfully, we’ll never move to a progressive income tax unless we ban elected officials from being property tax appeals lawyers.
I don’t know how you make that work. How do you provide real tax relief for some while still being able to balance the budget at a top rate of less than 6 percent?
But, hey, maybe he’ll explain it later.
Also, I’m not quite clear on how passing a progressive income tax will first require banning legislators from being property tax lawyers (or how that’s even legal), but that’s his schtick, so whatevs.
Craig Wall: Somebody said, he put it this way, that Bruce Rauner is almost becoming like a super PAC for you as he’s trying to undermine JB Pritzker.
Chris Kennedy: I think Bruce Rauner is trying to do what he thinks is best for the state of Illinois. 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.
* As noted below, Daniel Biss and the JB Pritzker campaign have both taken Kennedy to task. Biss tweeted that Rauner “should not be ‘applauded’ for the lasting damage and harm that he’s done to the state” and the Pritzker campaign released this statement…
“The Worst Republican Governor in America unleashed devastation across this state and is standing in silence as the lives of immigrant families and healthcare for children hang in the balance, but don’t worry, because according to Chris Kennedy, Bruce Rauner is just speaking ‘truth to power,’” said Pritzker communications director Galia Slayen. “Throwing bombs and creating crisis is not speaking truth to power, but it’s clear that Chris Kennedy has failed to understand that throughout this campaign.”
…Adding… Another Kennedy campaign statement…
I’ve always been honest about Bruce Rauner’s broken leadership in our state. Under Bruce Rauner’s administration, our state amassed $15 billion in unpaid bills. Under Bruce Rauner’s administration, our state went two years without a budget — the longest budget impasse in U.S. history. Under Bruce Rauner’s administration, 1 million people were cut off of social services.
I’m running because Bruce Rauner has left our state in shambles. He’s a failed governor and our state is desperate for radical change.
Taking my remarks out of context is a weak attempt from JB Pritzker to deflect from the pressure he’s under. JB is the poster child of play to pay politics in Illinois and the FBI wiretaps that feature him begging Rod Blagojevich for political favors prove it. He’s everything the Republicans want to run against.
I believe voters have a right to know what’s on those tapes and I agree that they should’ve been released.
* The Question: Fair hits or not? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.
“It’s important to recognize that if people who voted for Rod Blagojevich had known that he was engaging in the activities that he was, nobody would have voted for him, nobody would be supporting, nobody would have spoken with him, and hundreds of people did at the time,” Pritzker said.
“And I’ve not been accused of any wrongdoing. I have not done anything wrong. And I’ve been proud of the work I’ve done in public service for many, many years,” Pritzker added.
That prompted Biss to reply: “If that phone call is your definition of public service, you’re doing it wrong.”
After the forum, Kennedy backed Rauner’s ads highlighting the Pritkzer-Blagojevich recordings.
“I think Bruce Rauner is trying to do what he thinks is best for the state of Illinois,” he said. “And 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.”
They’ve officially merged.
* From the Rauner campaign…
During today’s Chicago Tribune editorial board meeting with Democratic candidates for governor, JB Pritzker claimed that he has “not done anything wrong” regarding his conversations with Blagojevich.
The wiretaps tell a different story, as Pritzker was caught making shady deals with Blagojevich, and even called just 6 days before Blagojevich’s ultimate arrest.
You be the judge as to whether JB Pritzker did anything wrong in his conversations with Blagojevich. The full wiretaps are available HERE.
Pritzker lobbied Blagojevich to be appointed to the Treasurer’s seat
Pritzker advised Blagojevich to engage in a ‘morally repugnant’ quid pro quo with Mike Madigan
Pritzker does not “rebuff” Blagojevich’s suggestion of an appointment to Attorney General
Despite claiming that “nobody knew the FBI was investigating the man” just last week, Pritzker acknowledges Blagojevich needing to “get the legal thing behind” him.
Governor Rauner summed it up best yesterday: “Anyone who would use an excuse and say, ‘Well, I did something immoral, unethical, disgusting and self-dealing but I didn’t go to jail, so it’s OK.’ Are you kidding me?”
* Text from a pal…
Team Rauner laser-focused on becoming Kennedy’s super PAC effectively. Anti-Rahm, Blago tape and MJM prop tax lawyer stuff
…Adding… Some Twitter react…
*** UPDATE 1 *** Kennedy campaign…
Chris has been calling out Rauner for ever. Chris thinks JB is the poster child for what is wrong in Illinois. He’s the poster child for everything Rauner wants to run again. And when he agrees with someone, he says it. He agrees that these tapes should be out. He agrees that voters should know how JB Pritzker really operates.
*** UPDATE 2 *** Pritzker campaign…
Did Chris Kennedy Just Endorse Bruce Rauner?
Following the Chicago Tribune Editorial board session Chris Kennedy said: “I think Bruce Rauner is trying to do what he thinks is best for the state of Illinois. And 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.”
As governor, Bruce Rauner is responsible for nearly 1 million people losing access to social services, vetoing a historic equitable school funding formula, holding funding for children and families hostage to his far-right, Koch brother funded agenda, standing by while Donald Trump attacks immigrant families in Illinois and health insurance for children and families, and just this week failing to call former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke a racist… or as Chris Kennedy sees it, speaking “truth to power.”
“The Worst Republican Governor in America unleashed devastation across this state and is standing in silence as the lives of immigrant families and healthcare for children hang in the balance, but don’t worry, because according to Chris Kennedy, Bruce Rauner is just speaking ‘truth to power,’” said Pritzker communications director Galia Slayen. “Throwing bombs and creating crisis is not speaking truth to power, but it’s clear that Chris Kennedy has failed to understand that throughout this campaign.”
* I told subscribers about this earlier today. I assume the press releases will start rolling in soon. The first is from Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady…
“While an aisle may have separated us politically, Sen. Donne Trotter and I shared a passion to serve the people of Illinois, and to make our state a better place. Throughout his tenure, Donne was always a voice of reason, which was befitting the stature of the august chamber that is the Illinois Senate. Now, as he closes this chapter on his Senate career, he will no doubt begin writing another that will undoubtedly make a difference in the lives of those he comes into contact with on a daily basis.”
I’ll update as necessary.
…Adding… Senate President John Cullerton…
Donne Trotter is a unique individual and he will be missed in the Illinois Senate.
I will miss his leadership, his counsel, his wisdom, his calm, his experience and to top it all, his fantastic sense of fashion. I wish him nothing but the best, and am honored to have worked with him and to consider him my friend.
* Mayor Rahm Emanuel…
“Senator Trotter’s vibrant personality and commitment to our state’s most pressing issues are matched only by his compassion for those he serves. Throughout his three decade career he has been a tireless advocate for the people of Chicago and the state of Illinois. From fighting to make quality care affordable and accessible to reforming a disproportionate and discriminatory state education funding formula, Senator Trotter has been voice for the vulnerable and a champion for hardworking families. His service in Springfield created a stronger city and state. I wish him the best in his well-deserved retirement.”
* Sen. Kwame Raoul…
“I was lucky enough to call Senator Trotter not just my colleague, but also my mentor, my roommate and my friend. He supported me in replacing Barack Obama in the Senate when it was not popular in Springfield to do so, and I have benefited from his advice and support ever since. His intelligence, dedication and compassion will be sorely missed in the Senate.”
Senate Assistant Majority Leader Donne E. Trotter (D-Chicago) released the following statement today:
“It was truly a pleasure to serve my constituents in Springfield over the last 25 years in the Senate and four years in the House.”
“I cannot say when the best time is, but I feel this is the right time to go forward and search out different opportunities, and to more importantly give others the chance to serve.”
“Throughout my career, I have tried to pass along the wisdom I’ve gained over my years of service. My own career was never my only focus; I also wanted to ensure the success of those who I knew would follow in my footsteps someday.”
“I’m comfortable with the people who are still serving in the Senate. They have the knowledge and the work ethic to lead our state in the right direction, and I’m not standing in their way.”
“I’m proud of being a strong voice on health care, education and budget issues, which are all of great importance to people of the 17th District.”
“It’s a very diverse district, including urban and rural areas. We haven’t been able to accomplish everything, but we’ve certainly made a measurable difference in our communities and statewide.”
“I had the great privilege of being able to sit at the table during all policy negotiations, especially the budget. I’m thankful for the voices back home who helped me to articulate the needs of our district and the state at large.”
Trotter has held his Senate seat since 1993. The district encompasses parts of the City of Chicago, Will County and Kankakee County.
Trotter has also served as assistant majority leader since 2013. His resignation is effective immediately. […]
Members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus released the following statement regarding Senator Donne Trotter’s resignation from the Illinois State Senate:
“Senator Donne Trotter has been the consummate example of dedication to not only the citizens of the 17th District, but to the great people of this entire state. His 30 years as a member of the General Assembly, and specifically his 25 years as a member of the Illinois Senate have shown the Senator’s passion for public service.
“The Caucus will miss the Senator’s wealth of institutional knowledge and dedication to ensuring all Illinois residents have access to quality health care, education and general life wellness.
“Senator Trotter has stood fair and firm throughout his illustrious career. The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus thanks him for his three decades of service, and wishes him nothing but the best during his retirement.”
Members of the caucus released individual statements below:
Senator Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood): “It has a been an incredible journey working alongside my dear friend and colleague Leader Trotter for 20 of his 30 years of service. He was the seasoned appropriations chairman and public health enthusiast when I arrived and always showed me leadership, expertise and commitment. I will truly miss him, his support and his passion for serving people. He helped to lay the foundation for the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus and his legacy will continue on for generations to come.”
Senator Toi Hutchinson (D- Chicago Heights): “It is not easy to sum up a career in public service in just a few words. But my knowledge of the budget and revenue process was sharpened in a way that could have only happened with a teacher like Donne Trotter. From his impact on the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Black Caucus of State Legislators to our statehouse, he challenged us to be better. And that means we as legislators are better for his service.”
Senator James F. Clayborne (D- Belleville): “Senator Trotter has been a public servant and champion of his community for his whole life. His knowledge of complex issues and ability to work across the aisle will be sorely missed.”
Senator Mattie Hunter (D- Chicago): “I knew Senator Trotter long before I became a legislator. When I worked for the Human Resources Development Institute he was our go-to guy for legislation and funding purposes. When I later became a colleague, Sen. Trotter and I worked together on many issues to address behavioral health and other social services. He was a great advisor and his institutional knowledge will be greatly missed.”
Senator Kwame Raoul (D- Chicago): “I was lucky enough to call Senator Trotter not just my colleague, but also my mentor, my roommate and my friend. He supported me in replacing Barack Obama in the Senate when it was not popular in Springfield to do so, and I have benefited from his advice and support ever since. His intelligence, dedication and compassion will be sorely missed in the Senate.”
Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago): “I have had the honor and privilege of serving with Senator Trotter over the last 13 years. He’s a true gem and gentleman in the Illinois General Assembly. Donne is well-read, knowledgeable and a powerful advocate and voice for the children and families of the state. No one ever has to wonder what he’s thinking because his remarks can be both brilliant and biting. Sometimes a jester but always a drum major for justice. He’s a public servant with heart, who embodies character, courage, and compassion. Donne is a dapper man of distinction, dignity, and decency, and I will truly miss my colleague and friend.”
The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced today that the unemployment rate decreased by 0.1 percentage point to 4.8 percent in December and nonfarm payrolls increased by +1,500 jobs over-the-month, based on preliminary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and released by IDES. November jobs were revised up to show a slight gain (+3,100 jobs) rather than a slight loss as initially reported (-1,100 jobs).
December’s monthly payroll gain kept over-the-year job growth well below the national average. While Illinois job growth has had its ups and downs since the beginning of the year, the 3-month trend shows average gains of +4,700 jobs per month from October to December. This reflects an improvement over the 3-month average gain of +1,500 from September to November.
“The unemployment rate dropped in December, even as the labor force increased in the final quarter of the year.” said IDES Director Jeff Mays. “Payrolls overall have now increased by about a half-percent over the year to date, which is an additional 29,600 jobs.”
“The fourth quarter trend is certainly promising,” said Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Sean McCarthy. “Illinois is beginning to see results from investments made in securing businesses by this administration.
In December, the three industry sectors with the largest gains in employment were: Government (+4,100); Other Services (+2,600); and Construction (+2,200). The three industry sectors with the largest payroll declines were: Professional and Business Services (-3,100); Financial Activities (-2,600) and Education and Health Services (-2,300).
Over-the-year, nonfarm payroll employment increased by +29,600 jobs with the largest gains in these industry sectors in December: Financial Activities (+8,700); Manufacturing (+7,700); and Education and Health Services (+6,600). The industry sectors with the largest over-the-year declines include: Government (-4,100); Trade, Transportation and Utilities (-2,900); Leisure and Hospitality (-1,400). Illinois nonfarm payrolls were up +0.5 percent over-the-year in sharp contrast to the nation’s +1.4 percent over-the-year gain in December.
The state’s unemployment rate is +0.7 percentage points higher than the national unemployment rate reported for December 2017, which held at 4.1 percent. The Illinois unemployment rate is down -0.9 percentage points from a year ago when it was 5.7 percent. The Illinois jobless rate last stood at 4.8 percent in July.
“Mickey Straub isn’t a ‘proud Republican’ as he says. He’s a phony Republican who makes Mike Madigan proud. After missing three consecutive Republican primaries, Straub is teaming up with Mike Madigan’s union allies in an attempt to hijack the Republican Party and keep Madigan in power. Madigan Mickey doesn’t share our Republican values and can’t be trusted.” - Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Aaron DeGroot
Mickey Straub says he’s “proud to be Republican,” but it’s all a ruse designed to trick voters and keep Mike Madigan in power.
This morning, Politico Illinois Playbook reported that Straub hasn’t voted in a single Republican primary since 2010 - not even one. There’ve been two consequential presidential primaries and a critical gubernatorial primary, yet “proud Republican” Mickey Straub was AWOL.
Now, an outside group backing Mickey Straub is running an ad featuring testimonials from “neighbors,” but their Republican credentials are just as spotty as Straub’s:
Jorie Peirce - voted in 2016 GOP primary, no other recent primary elections
Peter Smolka - voted in 2016 GOP primary, no other recent primary elections
Gail Demory - voted in 2012 GOP primary, no other recent primary elections (Liberty Principles PAC misspelled her name - Gail De Mory)
Keith Lutz - Chicago resident and voter (can’t vote for Straub); voted in 2010 and 2012 Dem primaries, 2014 and 2016 GOP primaries
That’s why it’s no surprise phony Republican Mickey Straub is teaming up with Mike Madigan’s union allies in an attempt to hijack the Republican Party. It’s all a coordinated effort to keep Madigan in power.
It’s clear - Madigan Mickey doesn’t share our Republican values and can’t be trusted.
A suburban community is taking on the Illinois Republican Party and state House Republican Leader Jim Durkin.
Campaign pieces on behalf of Durkin have been hitting mailboxes in Burr Ridge and other parts of the 82nd state House District, claiming that Burr Ridge has enacted “four unbalanced budgets,” “hiked property taxes 16 percent” and “raised fees to funnel money for a Chicago bailout.”
Burr Ridge has written a letter to the party and Durkin insisting that they “cease and desist from any further distribution of false information pertaining to the village of Burr Ridge and that you immediately provide a written correction and apology for false information.”
The village’s mayor, Mickey Straub, is challenging Durkin of Western Springs in the spring Republican Primary for his state House seat.
The mailers have linked House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Democrat, with Straub. The pieces have even pegged Straub as Mini-Me, the clone of Dr. Evil, Austin Powers’ nemesis, in the “Austin Powers” movies. Madigan is depicted as Dr. Evil in the mailers.
“I got sick over it,” Straub told the Chronicle, regarding the mailings that have been hitting southwest suburban homes for the past two months. “The lies about the village and me could not be further from the truth.”
* I asked the ILGOP for a response and this is from Aaron DeGroot…
Unfortunately the Cook County Chronicle did not reach out to the state party for comment. Contrary to what Mickey Straub told the reporter, a written and dated response was sent via email from the ILGOP’s general counsel to the Village of Burr Ridge this past Friday [letter attached], sufficiently rebutting the claims made in the Burr Ridge letter, which was written by taxpayer-funded village officials.
Sadly, but not surprisingly, the Burr Ridge letter is yet another example of Madigan Mickey using public resources for political purposes. Mickey Straub should not be authorizing the use of taxpayer resources to prosecute his own personal political grudges.
This isn’t the first time Mickey Straub has misused taxpayer resources. As you know, Village records show Straub previously used taxpayer funds to attend political events. You reached out to him three times on that topic. Has he ever gotten back to you? My guess is he hasn’t.
It’s clear that “Madigan Mickey” Straub is just another politician playing the ultimate Madigan insiders game.
…Kennedy basically said he’s not dropping out because he expects to win. That his polling shows when people are “fully informed,” they choose Kennedy far above his opponents. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that “fully informed” isn’t on the table. “Fully informed,” like “perfect vacuum,” is a physical impossibility, an ideal dreamworld that doesn’t apply here. He’d do better polling people who are completely uninformed, because that’s basically who’ll find their way to the voting booths in March.
A lawsuit against Illinois’ Department of Healthcare and Family Services claims the state illegally withholds medically necessary services from children with severe mental health disorders. The case was settled in federal court this week.
Federal Medicaid law requires intensive home- or community-based services for children who need it. A class action lawsuit filed in 2011 claims Illinois violates that law.
Robert Farley, Jr., is the attorney on the suit. He says some Illinois families are so desperate to get treatment for their children, they bring them to a psychiatric hospital — and never come back for them.
“DCFS will then take custody of the child and then basically place the child residentially,” Farley said. “So you get residential services, but then you’ve given up custody of your child, which is, you know, barbaric. You have to give up your child to get something necessary.”
Data from the state shows some 18,000 children in Illinois have severe emotional or behavioral disorders. But only about 200 receive intensive treatment.
Farley estimates the changes could cost the state upwards of $400 million.
* Collins-Mandeville at the Illinois Collaboration on Youth explains…
The settlement requires the State “to design and implement a systemic approach through which Class Members will be provided with reasonable promptness the Medicaid-authorized, medically necessary intensive home- and community-based services, including residential services, that are needed to correct or ameliorate their mental health or behavior disorders.”
Even though the state had to pay court-ordered Medicaid services during the impasse, this new consent decree will actually require revamping the children’s behavioral health system and building up much needed service capacity, not just maintaining the status quo of Medicaid service delivery. As we all know, maintaining the status quo today compared to a status quo of two years ago will already be more expensive since the impasse toppled the community-based service system infrastructure.
The N.B. class is much larger than a variety of other consent decrees. It covers all Medicaid-eligible children under the age of 21 in the State of Illinois:
(1) who have been diagnosed with a mental health or behavioral disorder; and
(2) for whom a licensed practitioner of the healing arts has recommended intensive home- and community-based services to correct or ameliorate their disorders.
This settlement also comes on the heels of the Feds issuing a letter about pending and future 1115 waiver requests — something the Administration was counting on to draw down federal funds for services like those needed under the new consent decree.
Additionally, it should be noted that:
The federal court has increased oversight in the DCFS case (B.H. v. Walker), which now requires monthly status updates. Class counsel also filed a motion to enforce that consent decree alleging DCFS’ noncompliance (with clear cut, convincing evidence).
In October, the plaintiffs in Rash v. Baldwin (DOC consent decree) filed a motion to enforce their settlement agreement for timely and consistent mental health services. (The Administration agreed to that agreement and the court approved it in May 2016.)
Today, the JB Pritzker campaign released a new ad responding to desperate attempts by failed governor Bruce Rauner to meddle in the Democratic primary.
The ad highlights the growing list of blunders, missteps and failures that the Worst Republican Governor in America struggles to address as he launches an attack strategy that was recently called “prematurely desperate.” Just this week, Rauner created school funding uncertainly, thousands of Illinoisans saw their healthcare disrupted, an auto plant chose to break ground in Alabama instead of Illinois, and Rauner was forced to distance himself from embattled Missouri Governor Eric Greitens and couldn’t answer a simple question about former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke being racist.
“After coming up short on accomplishments and creating constant crisis, it’s clear that Bruce Rauner now believes inserting himself in the Democratic primary is his only chance to win re-election,” said Pritzker campaign communications director Galia Slayen. “Rauner has reached a new low in his attempt to distract from the countless failures of his governorship, but Illinoisans won’t forget the damage they’ve been forced to live through for the past three years.”
Gov. Bruce Rauner was joined by homeowners in south suburban Chicago Thursday as he took steps to end a property tax system he called immoral, unethical and something that should be illegal.
At the news conference, Rauner announced he signed an executive barring lawmakers from arguing cases in front of the Illinois State Tax Appeals Board. […]
In order to fight high property taxes under the current system, Rauner said homeowners have to hire politically connected law firms, like the one where longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan works.
“No one who sets tax policy, no one who has an influence to increase taxes on one hand should be in a position where they financially benefit from fighting about property taxes and try to get them reduced on the other hand,” Rauner said. […]
Rauner said the system to dispute high property taxes is rigged. In addition to signing the executive order barring lawmakers from arguing cases in front of the Illinois State Tax Appeals Board, he proposes a law to ban lawmakers from making money from property tax appeals.
“We also don’t let legislators argue cases in the Court of Claims. We should do the same thing for property tax appeals,” Rauner said. “It’s a conflict of interest. It’s unethical. It’s immoral. We should also make it illegal.”
OK, first of all, he didn’t sign an EO yesterday. He said he plans to sign one in the next few days. Secondly, not many regular homeowners are hiring politically connected property tax appeals attorneys. Thirdly, legislators have to specifically vote to appropriate money to fund Court of Claims rulings, so that would definitely be a direct conflict of interest. I’m not sure such a direct conflict exists with the state property tax appeals board.
The Property Tax Appeal Board shall consist of 5 members appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall designate one of the members as Chairman. The Property Tax Appeal Board shall be totally independent of the Department [of Revenue].
That makes an EO pretty iffy.
* Meanwhile, the governor was asked yesterday about this recent analysis by the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform which suggests that the Department of Revenue has some unused powers over Cook County, but he didn’t have an answer…
In Illinois, the Department of Revenue (DOR) only contributes to the final calculation of property values through an equalization assessment, and does not serve in an oversight role, as in other states. Illinois state law gives the Department of Revenue the authority to provide more oversight to county assessors, but this practice is not currently in place. Specifically, the DOR does not conduct the same equity studies that occur in Florida and Arizona, or audits similar to those in California. […]
Conduct COD (Coefficient of Dispersion) studies on assessments, used to measure equity and uniformity, and publish summary reports for each tax cycle
Perform audits of county assessment procedures every three years, and publish reports of recommended changes
Take a more proactive role in requiring assessors to produce evidence of internal controls and fair assessment practices when reviewing tax rolls
The goal of these recommendations is to ensure a more transparent and accountable assessment process across the state, and encourage oversight for this important responsibility.
* Gov. Bruce Rauner and Mayor Rahm Emanuel talked about Chicago making the Amazon list yesterday…
Rauner referenced taxes and the perception of “a corrupt system” in the state. Speaking at an event in Country Club Hills to highlight property taxes in the south suburbs, Rauner said “The CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, knows how bad taxes are, and … the state of Washington, where they’re coming from, does not have an income tax.”
“So what I think, we’ll have a better case to make to Amazon if we show that we’re disciplined about our own taxes, that we work to keep our taxes low and help bring our taxes down,” Rauner later added. “If we make progress on this, this will send a great message to Amazon that Illinois is not always just raising taxes with a corrupt system, that when they grow here and they bring their employees here and grow our economy. So I hope we can make these changes. It’ll help us bring Amazon here.” […]
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, told of the governor’s Amazon comments while speaking at a separate event Thursday, suggested “it would be helpful if the state was pulling with us.”
“The governor has some challenges, he has a campaign, he has a budget coming up,” Emanuel said. “But we have incredible strengths, and as I said, four years in a row the city of Chicago has been number one in both corporate relocations and direct foreign investment. And the only thing I would say to the governor is, we’ve done that in the face of pretty bad dysfunction in Springfield. Imagine if Springfield got its stuff together, how good it would be.”
Washington doesn’t have a state income tax, but it does have a corporate gross receipts tax.
Just hours after the city and state received the good news that Chicago has made the cut of 20 cities still in the running for its prized HQ2, sniping broke out between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Bruce Rauner that can only imperil the city’s prospects. […]
Emanuel and Rauner had, until now, avoided just that kind of infighting, which a couple of years ago appeared to have been a factor in Chicago losing its bid to house the headquarters of GE. Their collective staffs were working well together, with World Business Chicago and Intersect Illinois in regular communication.
But today’s exchange may underline what outside experts have said is the weak point in Chicago’s bid: the perception that government here is more about quarreling and scoring points than getting things done.
In an email, Rauner communication director Patty Schuh rejected the mayor’s criticism.
“It’s BS,” she said. “It took bipartisan cooperation to make the bid. It will take bipartisan cooperation to get Amazon.”
Emanuel has known privately for weeks — through back-channel communication with Amazon — that Chicago would make the cut. What the mayor didn’t know was that Chicago would have so much company on that list.
“The range of cities in terms of where they are, what they are and their airport, transportation and higher ed capabilities, their cost of living, the size and depth of their workforce, their diversity is still so varied that it is hard to read too much into this list,” a mayoral confidant, who asked to remain anonymous, wrote in a text message to the Sun-Times.
“No city on the list is that surprising to see and nobody missing that you thought you were in real competition with,” the person continued. “They received over 200 applications. Had to spend time on all of them. The hard work begins now.”
Despite the heavy competition, Chicago “makes a ton of sense” for Amazon, Google, Apple or “any other fast-growing company looking for scale. … We will compete hard and show well. We are very strong when you dig deep into the data and analyze it,” the Emanuel confidant said.
…Adding… From the governor’s office…
There was a lot more to what the Governor said yesterday. He specifically said that Illinois has a very compelling case to make that’s not purely about tax incentives. He talked about how we’ve got hardworking people here, a good location and transportation network, a great education system and other assets that make Illinois’ bid attractive.
But there’s a time and a place for everything. And this is not the first time Rauner has soiled a corporate location pitch with a simultaneous counterargument.
It happened a couple of years ago, when talks with GE about moving its headquarters here failed in part because the governor couldn’t stop himself from about talking about the need for changes in Springfield that he would be unable to deliver. And it happened just last year, when the governor plugged the state’s shortcomings even as Illinois was trying to land a big, next-generation Toyota-Mazda plant.
If Rauner had a new plan to get some of his agenda through Springfield, I might cut him a break. But if he has, he sure has kept it secret.
If Rauner had limited his comments to something along the lines of “Illinois has a great bid and I’m working hard to make it better,” I might let it pass.
Instead, though, he appears to have shot off his mouth, impatient that Speaker Mike Madigan has not rolled over and given him his heart’s desire. Or, worse, he’s decided his path to re-election is to make Illinois truly a basket case by sabotaging the Amazon bid.
The pity is, at the staff level, the mayor’s people and the governor’s people appear to be working well together on this one. If there’s any friction, they’ve kept it quiet. Too bad their bosses can’t do the same.
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is stepping up his efforts to influence the Democratic governor campaign, purchasing statewide TV time to air a 15-minute ad featuring secretly recorded FBI conversations between then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich and businessman J.B. Pritzker, who is now a leading Democratic governor candidate.
Despite the much-hyped nature of Rauner’s move, his campaign is spending only about $11,900 to run it on six TV stations this weekend, said a media analyst who was not authorized to speak publicly about political ad buys. That’s a pittance compared to the $1 million a week Rauner and Pritzker each have spent at times to run political commercials across Illinois.
Rauner, however, is getting plenty of bang for his buck through the media coverage his unorthodox strategy is attracting. It’s unusual in Illinois for a candidate in one party to go to such lengths to try to steer the direction of the other political party’s primary campaign, and it’s rare to air a 15-minute ad. But Rauner, a wealthy former private equity investor from Winnetka, has the money to do so.
Except during major sporting events or stuff like that, weekend TV ads are pretty cheap.
In response to the new ad, Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Galia Slayen said: “Hundreds of people spoke to the governor at the time and whether Bruce Rauner chooses to buy a 60-second or even a 14-minute negative ad, the fact is JB Pritzker was accused of no wrongdoing. Bruce Rauner is desperately trying to interfere in the Democratic primary because he can’t defend his failed record and because he doesn’t want to face JB Pritzker in November.”
Though it had been known that Pritzker was one of the people Blagojevich considered for the Senate vacancy, the wiretaps showed Pritzker asked Blagojevich to appoint him as state treasurer instead.
“What you will not hear,” the latest ad intones, “is Pritzker rule out an appointment.”
The recordings had been obtained by the Chicago Tribune, which didn’t say how it obtained them.
* From the RGA…
Illinois Democrat candidate for governor and heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune J.B. Pritzker is facing embarrassing coverage over his weak response to his conduct on FBI wiretaps of conversations between himself and disgraced ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich.
Pritzker was pressed hard by local media yesterday on his refusal to explain or even apologize for his actions on the tapes.
ABC 7 Chicago, Illinois’ most-watched television station, showed Pritzker’s weak response on camera last night, during which Pritzker would say that “Governor Blagojevich spoke with hundreds of people at that time, and bottom line is I was never accused of any wrongdoing.”
Governor Bruce Rauner blasted Pritzker’s response, “That shows how pathetic our system is, how broken. Anyone who would use an excuse, and say, well, I did something immoral, unethical, disgusting and self-dealing, but I didn’t go to jail. So it’s okay. Are you kidding me?”
Even fellow Democrats slammed Pritzker over the tapes. State Senator Daniel Biss called him a “flawed” candidate and declared that nominating him would be a “risk” for the Democrats. Chris Kennedy went further, saying that Pritzker is “the poster child for everything Republicans say is wrong about Democratic politicians.”
That J.B. Pritzker doesn’t seem to understand why engaging in pay-to-pay politics with the convicted Rod Blagojevich demonstrates exactly why he lacks the character and integrity to hold elected office.
* The Channel 7 piece was really rough. Here’s the video. Watch it all…
J.B. Pritzker is facing brutal press following yesterday’s Chicago Sun-Times editorial board forum after refusing to call for Mike Madigan’s resignation or show remorse for his conduct on the Blagojevich FBI wiretaps. Pritzker was given multiple opportunities to distance himself from both controversial politicians. Instead, he chose to dodge and hedge in a transparent attempt to avoid casting blame on his longtime political allies and take responsibility for his actions.
Following the forum, NBC Chicago reported that Pritzker “will not speak critically of Madigan or Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios.” Watch here.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Sun-Times write-up of the forum focused on Pritzker’s ties to disgraced Governor Rod Blaogjevich.
“Pritzker, a billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist, has been hit hard as of late by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s campaign over FBI wiretaps of Pritzker’s conversations with now imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.”
Pritzker was asked at the forum whether he had “close ties” to Blagojevich. Pritzker dodged that question, instead only saying that he regretted “the tone of portions of that conversation.” Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown labeled Pritzker’s response a “limited” and “fuzzy defense,” calling the FBI tapes a “significant problem for Pritzker.”
“To the extent Pritzker ‘rebuffed’ Blagojevich, he did so rather gently, leading to the particularly unbecoming ‘I’d do it’ segment being used in the Rauner television commercials.”
J.B. Pritzker’s ties to Mike Madigan and Rod Blagojevich represent an existential threat to his candidacy.
…Adding… Rauner campaign…
Yesterday, Citizens for Rauner launched an extended television ad featuring the full, unedited FBI wiretap capturing the quid pro quo discussion between JB Pritzker and Rod Blagojevich. State and national media reported on the ad, describing it as “full throttle,” “taking off the gloves,” and “unprecedented.”
ABC 7: “Governor Bruce Rauner taking off the gloves in his attacks on chief Democratic rival, JB Pritzker. In fact, this weekend, the governor will be begin airing a 14-minute long commercial of a conversation between Pritzker and convicted former governor Rod Blagojevich.”
Chicago Sun-Times: “The latest ad — 14 minutes long — features what it says is the entire 11-minute chat Pritzker and Blagojevich had. This ad’s introduction notes that after the earlier commercial, ‘Pritzker didn’t deny the conversation — he complained what was released wasn’t the full conversation.’ In the latest volley, the campaign now is promising the ‘full, unedited, original wiretap recordings.’”
NBC 5: “This lengthy, unprecedented ad will play the FBI tapes of the phone call between JB Pritzker and disgraced former governor Rod Blagojevich. … Governor Rauner defends the ad as a chance for the voters to hear the unedited version for themselves.”
Politico: “Gov. Bruce Rauner’s campaign is dipping deep into the campaign warchest for this one. After billionaire Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker complained that a new TV ad featured a “selectively edited” recording of a 2008 conversation between Pritzker and Rod Blagojevich, Rauner’s campaign decided to go full throttle. This weekend, the Rauner campaign bought airtime to play all 11 minutes of the FBI wiretap conversation between Pritzker and Blagojevich. The ad will appear in all major media markets in the state on Saturday and Sunday, according to the campaign.”
Associated Press: “Rauner’s campaign says the move is a response to Pritzker’s statements that an ad released last week was selectively edited. That ad included a portion of audio captured on FBI wiretaps in which Blagojevich and Pritzker discuss the possibility of Blagojevich appointing Pritzker attorney general. Pritzker is heard saying, ‘That’s a deal I would take.’ … ‘J.B. Pritzker is part of the corruption and cronyism that has plagued Illinois for decades,’ the Rauner campaign said in a statement. ‘The people of Illinois deserve better.’”
National Journal: “What to do with $55.6 million in the bank for your reelection bid? If you’re Illinois Governor @BruceRauner, you air a 14-MINUTE TV AD showing your likely Democratic opponent on an FBI wiretap with Blago.”
CBS 2: “Rauner, who seeks re-election and may face Pritzker in a general election, counters: ‘Anyone who would use an excuse and say, ‘Well, I did something immoral, unethical, disgusting and self-dealing but I didn’t go to jail, so it’s OK.’ Ae you kidding me?’ Pritzker tried to brush off the recorded wheeling and dealing.
‘At no time in that conversation did I do anything that is anything other than trying to do public service to make the state better,’ he says. Not so, say his Democratic opponents. ‘It just shows what a risk it would be for the Democratic Party to nominate a flawed candidate like J.B. Pritzker,’ Daniel Biss says. Chris Kennedy adds: ‘Who’s going to want to turn out, who’s going to want to work, who’s going to want to do the extra things needed to vote for somebody who’s playing footsie with Rod Blagojevich?’”
“Rauner’s campaign is dipping deep into the campaign warchest for this one.” Right. I think Rauner’s campaign is gonna pay a price for encouraging some reporters to write or convey such nonsense.
Access to quality, affordable health care is the most fundamental basis for quality of life. Chris Kennedy, Democratic candidate for governor, and his running mate, Ra Joy, released their health care plan today to put Illinois on a path to accessible, affordable health care.
“Illinois can play a major role in ensuring that every resident has access to health care and quality healthcare experiences at all stages of life,” Kennedy said. “No individual or family should suffer for lack of access to care, and no individual or family should suffer because they cannot afford health care.
“Our state thrives when our residents are healthy and able to contribute fully to society. We envision a state where high-quality health care is easily accessible, affordable, and delivered with compassion.”
The campaign’s plan highlights women’s healthcare. Protecting a woman’s right to chose, providing broader access to birth control, and standardizing the state’s sex education curriculum to be inclusive of women’s needs is imperative.
The standardization of the state’s sex education will include information about birth control, Plan B, abortion, sexual harassment, domestic violence, rape, and tools for survivors. The increase in information is vital to future of our state.
The campaign’s plan is inclusive and includes a path to a single-payer system that starts by creating a state-backed public option of large-scale, Illinois-based employers and pre-existing municipal insurance pools to allow them to aggregate together as one negotiating entity to drive down costs. This will reduce our reliance on costly, profit-driven insurance companies and provide modern, accessible, and just coverage to all.
The employer-backed option will be made available to anyone in the state—including undocumented immigrants—which will further drive down costs for plan holders and the overall healthcare market in Illinois.
The campaign’s healthcare plan also proposes a $15 minimum wage bill that will be a required base minimum pay for all caregivers and healthcare workers. License-exempt caregivers who are caring for our children—often the children of low-income families—should not be earning less than minimum wage. Some license-exempt providers are earning as little as $16.22 per day.
“This is unacceptable. No one who works a full-time job should be forced to live in poverty,” Kennedy said.
The plan also includes works a program to treat addiction. The opioid crisis is claiming lives across our state: in big cities like Chicago, which have long suffered from government indifference to issues of addiction—particularly in predominantly minority communities—and in rural areas, where addiction to opioids has exploded in recent years. A Kennedy/Joy administration will follow Vermont’s innovative lead by adopting a Hub and Spoke model to treat addiction.
On the Path to Single-Payer: A State-Backed Public Option
A Kennedy/Joy administration will put Illinois on a path to a single-payer system. We will start by creating a state-backed public option of large-scale, Illinois-based employers and pre-existing municipal insurance pools to allow them to aggregate together as one negotiating entity to drive down costs. This will reduce our reliance on costly, profit-driven insurance companies and provide modern, accessible, and just coverage to all.
These aggregated insurance pools will emerge as an economic and political force in the state with clout, leverage, and contacts to overcome the insurance lobby. By allowing the largest employers in the state to work together to negotiate the cost of health coverage and drug prices, existing insurance companies will become nothing more than benefits managers.
Once established, with a solid foundation of committed members and employers, the employer-backed option will be made available to anyone in the state—including undocumented immigrants—which will further drive down costs for plan holders and the overall health care market in Illinois. […]
Medicaid Buy-In Program
Every person in our state should have access to affordable, quality health insurance. However, for a family of four in Illinois, the federal government will only subsidize the cost of monthly premiums if that family’s net income is $98,400 or less. As premiums rise due to decisions by the republicans in Washington, but income levels stay the same, there will be a gap in coverage, a so-called “donut” of people, who do not qualify for Medicaid but whose premiums are too high to be affordable.
A Kennedy/Joy administration will create a Medicaid Buy-In Program to allow those families who cannot afford a plan on the Health Care Exchange but who also don’t qualify for Medicaid to pay a less expensive premium, based on their income, in order to receive Medicaid coverage.
The Governor’s Office is starting a new PolicyPOV blog intended to deliver points of view (POV) on policies, programs, issues and events of concern to Illinoisans. The first post addresses how the new federal tax reform act impacts Illinois families and businesses. The blog is being hosted at the governor’s website.
The inaugural post is pretty darned complimentary of the new federal tax law. Click here.