* The governor is right on his overall position. Not sure if the veto was the right thing to do, but it is past time that the GA solved this problem…
Veto Message for SB 332
January 26, 2018
To the Honorable Members of
The Illinois Senate,
100th General Assembly:
Today I veto Senate Bill 332 from the 100th General Assembly, which would authorize the issuance and renewal of a liquor license for a specific establishment in Chicago.
This legislation requests an exemption from a state law regarding which establishments can hold liquor licenses based on their distance from a church, school or other specified institution. Many of the broad exemptions to the general 100-foot restriction still leave out certain business owners, especially in Chicago. As a result, owners of 75 businesses have found it necessary to secure individual exemptions through legislation like this.
The time has come for the General Assembly to reform this broken system. Businesses should not have to secure exemptions to state law to acquire the licenses they need to thrive. Liquor licensure of this sort should be handled at the local level, where the impact of allowing a business to sell certain products is the greatest. Local government officials can better determine whether allowing such exemptions and licenses is appropriate for a given community, and are more well-situated than the state legislature to create a streamlined process for making these determinations in a business-responsive manner.
I have stated in the past that I would no longer sign these carve-outs into law, and have repeatedly urged the General Assembly to address the flawed structure. Legislation such as Senate Bill 2436 provides for local liquor commissioners to take ownership of this process and grant exemptions to the 100-foot rule if authorized by local law or ordinance, and represents a solution to a problem instead of a repeated work-around.
Therefore, pursuant to Section 9(b) of Article IV of the Illinois Constitution of 1970, I hereby return Senate Bill 332, entitled “AN ACT concerning regulation,” with the foregoing objections, vetoed in its entirety.
(sss) Notwithstanding any provision of this Section to the contrary, nothing in this Section shall prohibit the issuance or renewal of a license authorizing the sale of alcoholic liquor at premises located within a municipality with a population in excess of 1,000,000 inhabitants and within 100 feet of a church if:
(1) the premises are approximately 2,800 square feet with east frontage on South Allport Street and north frontage on West 18th Street in the City of Chicago;
(2) the shortest distance between the north property line of the premises and the nearest exterior wall of the church is 95 feet;
(3) the main entrance to the church is on West 18th Street, faces south, and is more than 100 feet from the main entrance to the premises;
(4) the sale of alcoholic liquor is incidental to the sale of food in a restaurant;
(5) the principal religious leader of the church has not indicated his or her opposition to the issuance or renewal of the license in writing; and
(6) the alderman of the ward in which the premises are located has indicated his or her support for the issuance or renewal of the license in writing.
*** UPDATE *** Looks like I should’ve waited another half an hour. Press release…
A compromise negotiated this week has paved the way for more Illinois schools to participate in the Invest in Kids scholarship tax-credit program, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner announced today. The move leaves the General Assembly clear to act swiftly to fully implement the requested cleanups to the state’s historic funding law.
“We have worked with schools, advocates, legislators from both parties, the Illinois Department of Revenue and the Illinois State Board of Education to ensure that more schools will be able to participate in the Invest in Kids Program,” Rauner said.
The compromise announced today allows ISBE to notify IDOR in real time as new schools become recognized, eliminating the lag time that prevented schools from participating in this program.
Earlier this month, the governor used his amendatory veto power to address an issue that prevented a number of schools from participating in invest in kids; they had not achieved “recognition” status by the Illinois State Board of Education in time.
“We encourage swift passage in the General Assembly of legislative language necessary to correct the other unintended consequences so the historic school funding law can be fully implemented,” Rauner said.
Invest in Kids is a scholarship tax-credit program that gives low- to middle-income students the opportunity to attend nonpublic schools that best meet their needs.
“I applaud Governor Rauner for taking action, and working with us in a bipartisan way, to ensure that even more schools, students and families in Illinois have the opportunity to participate in Invest in Kids,” said State Rep. La Shawn K. Ford, D-Chicago. “I look forward to continuing to work with the governor to support schools across Illinois.”
Going forward, ISBE has committed to accepting applications for initial nonpublic school recognition on a rolling basis throughout this school year. An updated list of schools that are recognized has been posted on the ISBE website. That list will continue to be updated as new schools reach this status.
Advocates including Robert Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, Rabbi Shlomo Soroka, director of Government Affairs for Agudath Israel of Illinois, Nakisha Hobbs, principal and co-founder of the Village Leadership Academy, and Myles Mendoza, executive director of Empower Illinois, lauded the bipartisan, collaborative compromise that gives Illinois families more choices when it comes to educating their children.
“Once again, bipartisan leadership worked together to benefit the education of all Illinois children,” said Gilligan. “The Catholic Conference of Illinois, on behalf of the state’s Catholic schools, is grateful for this latest effort by the governor and legislators, along with the Illinois State Board of Education, to find a solution that allows more families to apply for a tax-credit scholarship so their children can attend a recognized school of their choice.”
“Following discussions with stakeholders, a solution ensuring the participation of all schools that become recognized was achieved,” said Rabbi Soroka. “Agudath Israel of Illinois thanks the Rauner Administration, the bipartisan group of legislators, the Illinois State Board of Education, the Illinois Department of Revenue and advocates who worked together to provide quality educational options to more students.”
“Over the past few weeks I’ve worked closely with State Rep. La Shawn K. Ford, the Governor’s Office, African-American school leaders and other education advocates from across the state to ensure that all high-quality schools had a path to participation in the inaugural year of the Invest in Kids Tax Credit Scholarship Program,” said Hobbs. “I am grateful to Governor Rauner’s administration for its demonstrated commitment to inclusion, and to Representative Ford for his unwavering and effective leadership.”
Empower Illinois also praised the collaboration. “This was a bipartisan effort by lawmakers, schools and advocates to expand quality education options for students across Illinois,” said Mendoza. “There is clear unity on the value of this program, as the demand for scholarships by families continues to grow. Today is a victory for Illinois kids.”
“Thanks to this collaborative, bipartisan effort,” Rauner said, “families in Illinois will have more choices when it comes to the education of their children.”
Lawmakers in Illinois are so desperate to shore up the state’s massively underfunded retirement system that they’re willing to entertain an eye-popping wager: Borrowing $107 billion and letting it ride in the financial markets.
The legislature’s personnel and pensions committee plans to meet on Jan. 30 to hear more about a proposal advanced by the State Universities Annuitants Association, according to Representative Robert Martwick. The group wants Illinois to issue the bonds this year to get its retirement system nearly fully funded, assuming that the state can make more on its investments than it will pay in interest.
It would be by far the biggest debt sale in the history of the municipal market, and in one fell swoop would be more than Puerto Rico amassed in the run up to its record-setting bankruptcy.
An effort is underway in Illinois that would let the terminally ill choose to end their life.
Oregon approved the option back in the mid 90’s. A few more states and Canada have followed with similar laws. They allow a terminally ill and mentally sound individual to choose to end their life.
“We all die and unfortunately as we approach death, as we get sicker and sicker, often a lot of pain and suffering comes with it. And when death is imminent, when suffering is intolerable, it should be your choice,” said Ed Gogol of Final Options Illinois. […]
Gogol wants an Illinois law that would have the patient being prescribed medication they would self-administer. It’s not “physician-assisted suicide” or “euthanasia” because the doctor would only make sure the person qualified.
Paul Vallas continues to set the stage for a run against a formidable Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Vallas, who was appointed by Gov. Bruce Rauner to help restart a financially beleaguered Chicago State University, tells Sneed he plans to step down from that job soon — a clear reminder of what he has done politically in the past: not hold a public job while running for public office.
“My job is done,” said Vallas. “Although my contract ran until July 1, I now plan to leave March 31,” he said while also repeating an earlier report by Crain’s Chicago Business columnist Greg Hinz he was “seriously considering” running for mayor.
Trust me: The decision by Vallas to leave early is a huge indication he hopes to run for mayor.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly is taking attorney general candidate Kwame Raoul to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address next week.
Kelly, of Matteson, has endorsed state Sen. Raoul in the eight-way Democratic primary. His parents immigrated from Haiti, and Trump was quoted this month calling Haiti and African countries “shithole countries.”
“As a first-generation Haitian-American, his presence and voice at the State of the Union is greatly needed,” Kelly said of Raoul, “especially in light of the president’s recent racist and derogatory comments about Haiti and other nations.” […]
Raoul’s trip to Washington lets Kelly make her point about Trump and gives him a bit of a profile boost in the crowded attorney general primary.
What, no mention of Raoul’s Trump comments at the Tribune editorial board meeting this week?
* Kristen McQueary had asked the candidates to describe how they would specifically go up against the Trump administration. Raoul pointed to the Affordable Care Act, immigration and the “very insecure” Crosscheck system…
McQueary: I think you were one of the only candidates on your survey where you said the attorney general needs to be nonpartisan… If an attorney general is constantly fighting a Republican administration does that tend to look partisan?
Raoul: Well, it’s not because he’s Republican, it’s because he’s nuts.
Mayors and village managers across Illinois often complain bitterly that they have little control over the cost of the governments they run. They’re mostly right, and it’s thanks to unfunded mandates imposed by the state. Those mandates include workers’ compensation, binding arbitration for labor contracts and pension coverage.
This is about another one of those unfunded mandates—prevailing wage requirements for public works—and the numbers are scandalous.
The Illinois Department of Labor publishes, county by county, the hourly wages local governments must pay contractors and subcontractors. It’s important to note, and often overlooked, that 1) wages are set based on compensation paid on other public works, not private-sector compensation; 2) municipalities have to pay the cash equivalent of the additional compensation, including pension benefits, paid on other public works; and 3) all of that must be calculated on a full-time-equivalent basis to understand it properly.
The all-in result: The average total full-time-equivalent compensation, including benefits, for all job categories over all counties is $119,000.
* Jim Sweeney of Local 150 claims in a rebuttal that Glennon’s $119K figure is baloney because it assumes all construction workers are employed throughout the year…
The average salaries that Glennon suggests are preposterous, as construction workers do not earn “full-time equivalent” wages. Most construction is seasonal work, influenced as much by weather as by municipal budgets. According to the 2016 Economic Census of Construction, the average public works construction worker in Illinois clocked an average of 1,786 hours in a year, and earned an average base wage of $60,000. Put in perspective, that’s roughly the same as the statewide median household income figure Mr. Glennon cites in his column—a figure that is conveniently distorted downward by its inclusion of people who are either not working or work part time.
By contrast, most other occupations in Illinois are easily working the full-time equivalent of 2,080 hours per year.
Weather is a factor, but so is the availability of jobs. Very often, even with perfect weather, the jobs just aren’t there.
* Yesterday, we discussed some of the objections to Personal PAC’s endorsement of JB Pritzker for governor, even though he isn’t the only pro-choice candidate. Here’s Terry Cosgrove’s full explanation about why his organization is backing Pritzker…
Who Will Defeat Governor Rauner?
The Personal PAC Board voted to endorse JB Pritzker after fully considering the qualifications of all of the candidates and conducting in-depth interviews of Daniel Biss, Chris Kennedy and JB Pritzker. Despite claims by their supporters to the contrary, none of these candidates is without flaws. That is to be expected from loyal partisans, passionate supporters and close friends of each candidate.
Governor Rauner lacks the capacity to tell the truth and does not hesitate to take inconsistent positions on the same issue at any given time. The only way to fully protect the reproductive rights of all women in Illinois for the next decade is to defeat Bruce Rauner on November 6, 2018. Within hours of the polls closing on March 20, the Rauner team will unleash a non-stop torrent of television, radio, direct mail and social media ads that will cost upwards of $250 million on a 7+ month nonstop assault on the winner of the Democratic primary.
Because Rauner has accomplished little to nothing over the past 4 years, his ads will be negative, untruthful and predictable: Biss voted for Speaker Madigan and ran his Super PAC; Kennedy sought Speaker Madigan’s endorsement at some point; Pritzker is secretly Speaker Madigan’s candidate; and all three have ties to the evil Cook County Democratic party. Wash. Rinse. Spin. Repeat.
Beware of those who refuse to learn from history. After the 2006 primary election, then severely wounded and endangered incumbent Governor Rod Blagojevich found himself facing Judy Baar Topinka, one of the most popular and admired officials from one end of Illinois to the other among Independents, Democrats and Republicans. The Blagojevich campaign was smartly flush with money and Topinka was broke after the primary, leaving the Blagojevich campaign to immediately launch a brilliant non-stop campaign of “Judy Baar Topinka: What’s She Thinking?” ads. With no money, Topinka never had a chance to recover from or respond to those ads and this highly respected candidate was trounced by Blagovich’s team in the November election.
The Rauner campaign will be the 2006 Blagojevich campaign on steroids, regardless of who wins the 2018 Democratic primary on March 20. Given the near unanimous agreement among Democrats and progressive independents that Rauner must be defeated and the few significant policy differences among the Democratic nominees, including support for reproductive rights, the critical question is which Democrat is in the best position to defeat Bruce Rauner.
I completely reject the most common arguments about this race, which are 1) Rauner can’t possibly win (think Donald Trump); 2) Democrats won’t be united around any one candidate (see none are without flaws above); 3) Money shouldn’t matter and is evil (think Rauner’s $250 million, Citizen’s United is the law of the land in 2018 no matter how much anyone hates it). It is quite possible that, despite being incredibly unpopular, Governor Rauner could win a second term. Democrats must be united behind their nominee and money does matter a great deal.
As I frequently tell people, don’t expect me to show-up to a proverbial knife fight against anti-choice activists with my left leg in a cast, my right arm tied behind my back, holding a toothpick, and expect me to win for pro-choice candidates. It’s-not-happening! We have to show up on a level playing field and play by the rules, whether we like the rules or not. Complaining about the rules in the middle of an election is like showing up for a rugby game and complaining about the rules and the players on your team, saying “if only the players and rules were different, I could win this match.” The same is true in politics. If you are going to sign-up to compete as a candidate or supporter of a candidate, know the rules and accept them. It’s called reality. Think passing HB 40, thank you.
I firmly believe JB Pritzker is the very last person Rauner wants to face in November, as only JB can go toe-to-toe with Rauner hours after the polls close on March 20 through the November 6 general election. Why would Rauner spend millions and millions of dollars before the Democratic primary attacking Pritzker instead of his Republican challenger? Rauner will immediately bury Biss or Kennedy in an avalanche of social media, radio and tv ads starting at 5 a.m. on Wed. March 21, from which they will never recover a la Blago/Topinka 2006. Instead, at that same time on March 21, Pritzker’s team will be up with their onslaught of ads against Rauner that will never cease until November 6, even as Rauner spends $250 million to survive. Pritzker will not be outdone, outsmarted, outspent or intimidated by Rauner. Pritzker is building the deepest statewide campaign apparatus I have ever seen by a gubernatorial candidate whose organizers are embedding themselves in local communities in 25+ field offices with over 100 full-time staff from Rockford to Carbondale, in Cook County and the Collar counties. Pritzker social media platforms are diverse and massive. His paid television and radio is superb with high rotation statewide, along with his direct mail campaign, making a huge impact in every corner of the state. And it is only January. No other candidate has travelled to and spent more time in as many counties as Pritzker has in this campaign. Pritzker is the only candidate in the Democratic primary that is doing more to unite the Democrats than divide them. That demonstrates strong leadership.
JB Pritzker’s commitment to progressive values and reproductive freedom is lifelong. He marched with us in the 1993 Washington, D.C. National March for Abortion Rights and was one of the earliest allies of LGBTQ rights in Chicago decades ago, long before it was “mainstream” and comfortable for most other people to do so openly.
In addition to Personal PAC believing JB Pritzker is the best candidate to defeat Rauner, a broad range of diverse organizations and individuals across Illinois have endorsed only his candidacy, including nearly every labor union that has made an endorsement to date, Citizen Action, Democratic County Chairs’ Association, Illinois Education Association (IEA), Illinois AFL-CIO, Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT), United Mine Workers, United Steelworkers District 7, U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin, U.S. Reps. Mike Quigley. Cheri Bustos and Luis Gutierrez, State Treasurer Mike Frerichs, Comptroller Susana Mendoza, Secretary of State Jess White, HB 40 Senate sponsor Heather Steans, HB 40 House sponsor Sara Feigenholtz, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle City Clerk Anna Valencia along with dozens of other State Senators and State Representatives, Alderpeople and Cook County elected officials. All of us united behind JB Pritzker to defeat Bruce Rauner.
We cannot allow Rauner to be re-elected. I firmly believe JB Pritzker is the best candidate to prevent that from happening on November 6, 2018.
Terry could very well be right about Rod and JBT and how that could repeat itself in the spring. But I’d rise to make a point of historical order here: Cosgrove helped Blagojevich by repeatedly attacking Topinka for not being pro-choice, even though she was. She just wasn’t pro-choice enough for Personal PAC.
Creates the CTE Prevention Act. Defines terms. Provides that a child under the age of 12 may not participate in tackle football offered by an organized youth sports program. Provides that a child under the age of 12 may participate in all other athletic activities offered by an organized youth sports program.
Keep in mind that Sente is retiring and she has no co-sponsors. But her bill did strike a nerve.
The best evidence shows CTE risk correlates to the number of years playing football, much as lung cancer risk correlates to number of years smoking. Athletes who begin football before 12 have a greater risk of cognitive impairment, mood and behavior disturbances as adults than players who began after 12.
The coalition also pointed to overwhelming public support from former and current football players and coaches and the general public to end tackle football for pre-teens, and to encourage them instead to play flag and other non-contact versions of football.
“They don’t need a helmet. They can play flag football. And with flag football you can get all the techniques. Why do we have to start with a 6-year-old who was just potty trained a year ago and put a helmet on him and tackle? … We’ll eventually get to tackling.”
The Illinois bill is similar to a proposal in New York, and Nowinski said lawmakers in at least one other state are working to raise the age at which children begin playing tackle football. He said studies have shown that starting tackle football before the age of 12 can lead to great neurological impairment later in life.
“This isn’t about an act to ban tackle football,” Nowinski said. “This is about an act to prevent children from being hit in the head hundreds of times through sports each season.“
State Representative Carol Sente, a Democrat from Vernon Hills is sponsoring the bill. Sente says research and data prove the risks of playing tackle football “aren’t worth it.”
“I’m not trying to ban football. You can balance protecting football with protecting our kids,” says Sente. “Illinois has been a leader in concussion legislation and I’m proud of that. We want to be the leader in the CTE issue.”
Chris Nowinski, CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, said because there is no national organization that oversees youth football, a state law would be the best bet for establishing guidelines.
“This isn’t about an act to ban tackle football, it’s an act to prevent children from being hit in the head hundreds of times through sports each season,” Nowinski said. “CTE is not something you get from bumping your head every once and a while. This has to come from the government if it’s going to happen at all.”
More recently, a Boston University publication linked CTE to repetitive hits to the head, even if they don’t produce symptoms of a concussion. According to the report, the risk is higher for athletes who played tackle football as children, which is why Sente’s proposal would target pre-teens.
At the Aspen Institute discussion, Robert Cantu, a leading concussion and brain trauma researcher at Boston University, said he believes children younger than 12 should not play tackle football.
Cantu said research shows brains reach their maximal developmental state between ages 10 and 12. If kids experience brain injuries at that point, he said, it can have stark effects later in life. He also said playing contact sports at a young age increases the number of subconcussive blows, which research has shown can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy even without a concussion.
“If you injure a brain at that early age, you have later life potential consequences,” Cantu sad. “I want very much for football to be played in a safer form. I think that safer form is flag.”
Some experts, though, took issue with Sente’s bill, saying no evidence demonstrates that younger football players are at greater risk for the disease.
“There’s no scientific consensus that 12 or 11 is a threshold age below which (tackle football) becomes more dangerous,” said Dr. Julian Bailes of the NorthShore University HealthSystem Neurological Institute, a CTE researcher who advises the Pop Warner youth football organization.
Jerry Miller of Bill George Youth Football, a suburban league of 3,500 players, about 1,000 of whom are under 12, said the game already has undergone numerous changes that have made it safer.
“The problem is that when all this happened, football was played as a gladiator sport,” he said. “Football has toned down so much. Our league hardly hits.”
In a statement, Brian Heffron, a spokesperson for Pop Warner, said that while the youth football organization encourages player safety, they “don’t agree banning football for young people is the answer.”
“We can’t imagine elected officials mandating to parents which sports their children can play,” Heffron said. “Literally millions of young people have played Pop Warner football for nearly 90 years and have grown up to be healthy, successful adults contributing to society in so many ways. We think the life lessons, experiences and memories from playing this great team sport far outweigh the risks.”
Not everyone agrees with the new proposed legislation. John Calabria, head of the Schaumburg Athletic Association’s football program, says the legislation is over-reaching.
“You’re not getting that growth, that ability to be a teammate,” he said. “Hard work, ethics, all that is taken away. Yes, you get some of that with flag football, but not to the fullest effect as with tackle (football).”
If a bill proposed Thursday ends up getting passed, youth football organizations like Sycamore Youth Football League won’t be able to offer tackle football to children younger than 12.
SYFL President Brian Klaassens said he feels football is being unfairly targeted.
“I’m not very surprised that’s what they are trying to do,” said Klaassens, who is in his first year as president but has had two children play football in the league. “At what point do we try to stop and limit any kind of sports to our kids?”
Just sayin, but a lot of those adults would be out of jobs if this bill passed.
Children under the age of 12 should not play tackle football. It is too dangerous.
We say that as an editorial board, and also as parents. We don’t say it as a matter of potential law. We believe this is a decision best left to parents, not dictated by the Illinois Legislature.
If ever there was a problem that seems to be taking care of itself, this is it. Participation in youth tackle football is plummeting, even without legal bans, as the risks become more widely understood. Since 2009, participation among boys ages 6 to 12 has fallen nearly 20 percent, according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, and you can bet participation will fall further as more parents wise up.
“Public safety issues that have severe health implications, I think, the government does play a role, whether that’s car seats or seat belts or smoking I think that the data at this point, for me, while it’s not 100 percent, it’s convincing,” said State Rep. Carol Sente, D-Vernon Hills.
Mayor Emanuel and Gov. Rauner are on the set of Chicago P.D. this morning, according to a source. Both gov’s office and mayor’s office not immediately responding. Cinespace visit not on their public schedules.
Democratic governor contender Chris Kennedy abruptly left a candidate forum Monday, criticizing Republican candidate Jeanne Ives for what he called “ignorance and stupidity” after she said Chicago’s gun violence could be solved if more fathers stayed in the home.
The controversy came when Ives, a three-term conservative lawmaker from Wheaton who is challenging Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, responded to a question on curbing gun crimes.
“The problem is the gun violence in this city of Chicago, predominantly. And you know how you’re going to solve it? Fathers in the home,” she said.
As the audience booed and shouted, she repeated, “Fathers in the home.”
The Ives campaign later doubled down on the comment, explaining in a statement released to media that “many have advocated the same idea, including President Obama.”
The Ives statement quoted from a 2008 Father’s Day speech in which then-candidate Obama, himself raised mostly by a single mother and her parents, called on fathers to own up to their family responsibilities.
So is Ives seeking to further an idea that was earlier championed by Obama? Did Obama say fathers actively raising their children will solve the epidemic of gun violence in Chicago? We decided to check.
Ives claims she was echoing comments from former President Obama as she declared recently that the solution to curbing rampant gun violence would depend on more fathers taking responsibility for their families.
In his 2008 speech, Obama drew a link between children from fatherless homes and those who stray into crime. But Ives took it a lot further than Obama ever did.
Her sweeping claim is not supported by the passages from Obama’s speech that her campaign pointed to as evidence. A reading of the full speech doesn’t support Ives either.
As president, Obama made several speeches about the proliferation of guns and violence, and also laid out an array of proposals to deal with the problems. In his public pronouncements, however, Obama did not make statements linking the problem of absent fathers with gun violence.
Ives is taking the message from Obama’s 2008 Father’s Day speech out of context. We rate her statement False.
* The video file didn’t come from the Rauner campaign or even a Republican. But I’m told this new Rauner TV ad which uses FBI wiretap audio of JB Pritzker talking to Rod Blagojevich about being appointed state treasurer will go up Monday…
In the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s downfall due to sexual assault and harassment claims from numerous women - it’s glaringly apparent that the issue is not limited to a certain industry or segment of society. Statehouses across the nation have joined in the #MeToo movement. Some are saying state legislatures harbor environments where such activity is commonplace.
In Illinois, over 150 people signed an open letter calling for change and alleging rampant sexual harassment within the system of state politics. Kerry Lester was one of those people to sign. She’s spent years covering the statehouse as a reporter for the Association Press, she’s now with the Daily Herald. She says like many other women, she has been treated inappropriately by men in power, but hadn’t know how to respond in a meaningful way that wouldn’t threaten her credibility. Listen to an interview with her below about what’s been going on in Springfield as a result of that letter.
* Lester has since left the Daily Herald and has written a new book called “No, My Place: Reflections on sexual harassment in Illinois government and politics.” Click here to order it on Amazon…
Illinois women understand well that political currency is a delicate mix of connections, favors and power. They’ve also learned that the game is fixed, one that puts them, more often than not, in no-win situations. Award-winning journalist Kerry Lester collects the stories of harassment, inappropriate and sexist behavior endured by the state’s most powerful women, including the Illinois Attorney General, the Cook County State’s Attorney, Chicago’s City Clerk, numerous members of the General Assembly, lobbyists and political consultants.
* Kerry was kind enough to send me an advance copy and said I could post an excerpt here. There are no “outings” of men by name, but some folks may be able to figure some stuff out.
Several years ago, before I was a lawmaker, I was an advocate down in Springfield working on a bill. When the legislation finally passed both chambers, a state representative who had helped me suggested we go to The Globe, a popular bar near the Capitol, and celebrate.
It was then when I experienced how gross and entitled many men can be. While we were having drinks, this lawmaker became very handsy. He was clearly not being professional and took the instance as a sexual opportunity. He was on the make, and it became obvious to me that this was pretty habitual for him.
After he’d had a few drinks, he put his hand on my leg and invited me up to his room. I was able to extricate myself from the situation as quickly and politely as possible. I made it clear that I wasn’t interested and left it at that. I was glad that the bill we had worked on together had passed already, so I didn’t really have to have much to do with him after that. I was able to put that episode behind me.
I think a lot of men in Springfield behave like that because they believe it’s the norm, and they don’t believe there’s any chance they’ll be reprimanded or anything. And experiences like mine aren’t serious enough that most women would go and report them. I didn’t.
Again, click here to order. You can buy the hard copy now and it can be downloaded on January 31st.
Illinois could lose political clout and federal funding if immigrants afraid of deportation in the Trump era sit out the 2020 census, experts say.
Officials with the U.S. Census Bureau are weighing whether to ask households across the country about their citizenship status, a move experts say could have a chilling effect on participation among immigrants. The fear is that the data, including home addresses, could lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to the doors of those living in the country without documentation. And even for those on their way to becoming naturalized citizens, the controversial question may keep them from raising their hands and being counted, especially as the immigration debate has taken sharp turns and left them uneasy about their future here.
In Illinois alone, immigrants make up about 7 percent of the state’s population, ranging from those on their way to becoming naturalized citizens to others living here illegally, said William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution. Illinois’ falling population means it’s already on the cusp of losing one representative, but if immigrants decide they don’t want to be counted, that could cost the state a total of two seats, Frey said. […]
Thomas Saenz, the president and general counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said if a question about citizenship made it onto the 2020 census, the bureau could face legal challenges on the grounds that it would lead to an inaccurate count and thus not fulfill its constitutional mandate. That’s one of the reasons why Saenz said the request could be more political than rooted in an actual need.
“I’m not sure the DOJ is serious,” Saenz said. “This could be just a dog whistle to the far right that this administration often seems to feel the need to cater to. It could be a political message.”
I emailed Rauner campaign spokesman Justin Giorgio to find out why the governor is laying low. He did not respond to multiple emails.
Of course, Rauner doesn’t likely see himself as a coward. He’s probably been advised not to give his opponent an opportunity for free publicity since he is leading her in the polls.
But there is a problem with that contention. When there is no debate, the loser isn’t Jeanne Ives. The losers are the voters.
They deserve to know where their candidates stand on the issues. When Rauner thumbs his nose at debating the person he is running against, he is showing contempt not just for his opponent but for the process. […]
Since Rauner’s campaign won’t say why he won’t debate, I asked Ives why she thinks the governor is avoiding facing her.
“Bruce Rauner is not prepared to have a substantive policy discussion with me. There is much he has to answer for during his four years in office. He’s just afraid to debate a woman on the issues.”
They are meeting at the Tribune editorial board next week, but that’s it.
The inspector general for the Illinois General Assembly says a top state senator did not sexually harass a woman whose legislation he was sponsoring last year.
Inspector General Julie Porter concludes in a report that Sen. Ira Silverstein’s interaction with Denise Rotheimer did not rise to the level of ethical misconduct. But she says it was “conduct unbecoming of a legislator” and recommended the 19-year veteran lawmaker be counseled by the Senate’s ethics officer.
Rotheimer helped author a 2011 law to increase penalties for violent sex offenders. She said she was working with Silverstein to pass legislation to help crime victims get free legal representation during ongoing criminal cases, when the senator killed the bill because he thought she had a boyfriend.
“Once I explained to him I don’t have a boyfriend, my bill came back alive,” Rotheimer said at the hearing.
Contacted Thursday, Rotheimer said she was “livid” over the ruling and fears it will discourage others from lodging complaints against lawmakers.
“For her (Porter) to victim-blame and to say I was flirting with him, that shows that the whole system is corrupt,” Rotheimer said. “The process is worse than the abuse because now I’m being blamed.” […]
Porter said Silverstein’s conduct could only be defined as sexual harassment if it created “an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.”
She also found evidence that Silverstein continued to push the legislation even after it was clear there was little support for passage. Rotheimer said that’s why, recognizing there was no employer-employee relationship with Silverstein, she filed an “abuse of power” charge with the Legislative Ethics Commission, not a sexual harassment complaint.
Porter noted two instances when Silverstein teased Rotheimer that he would drop sponsorship of the bill. The context of the conversations was lighthearted, but even the appearance that a lawmaker’s opinion of legislation could be based on his relationship with the advocate “has harmed the public’s trust in the General Assembly,” she wrote.
[Inspector General Julie Porter] also noted many of the messages were “flirtatious,” although none were “sexually explicit and there was never any express discussion in the messages about cultivating a romantic relationship.”
And she did not conclude that Silverstein “killed” the bill.
“If anything, it appears that Silverstein — like Rotheimer — was misguided or naive about whether the bill could actually succeed as proposed. He kept going and going because he wanted to help, please and placate Rotheimer,” she wrote.
In explaining why she considered Silverstein’s conduct “unbecoming” of a legislator, Porter writes that “he did not maintain an appropriate professional distance from the proponent of a bill he was sponsoring.”
She writes that Silverstein “should have been much more cautious and conscientious about engaging in these types of teasing and flirtatious communications with someone he knew was depending on him to advance legislation.”
“Legislators are public servants, held to a higher standard,” Porter wrote. “Even the appearance — which Silverstein himself created — that Silverstein felt enamored with a bill proponent and may have used his office to advance or impede legislation as a result is problematic and warrants my finding.”
Attorney Les Alderman, who has handled harassment cases in Washington, D.C., said Porter’s report will have consequences.
“Here you have this inspector general airing all of this dirty laundry and declaring it to mean nothing, and to amount to no violation of the law,” Alderman said. “That will have a chilling effect on the victims who will decide that they don’t need to go through the same process and get the same result.”
Alderman said accusers should take their cases to court. Rotheimer said she’s evaluating her options and that the process is rigged in lawmakers’ favor.
Illinois state Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Raymond, said the legislature’s harassment task force is evaluating how other inspectors general investigate cases in other agencies and other states.
Becky Carroll, a political consultant and one of the women behind the open letter last fall, said she did not think the inspector general’s finding would discourage women from coming forward.
“Women and our allies are united more than ever around this issue, and this movement is too strong a force to be deterred by any single incident of this nature,” Carroll said. “There’s no going back.”
Carroll said she could understand why Rotheimer was dissatisfied with the process, saying state government needs a “clear, consistent and fair process in place so everyone who comes forward has confidence that their complaints will be taken seriously and addressed accordingly.”
Lawmakers have formed two task forces to try to address the larger issues of sexual harassment and sexual discrimination in Springfield.
Silverstein didn’t want to answer any of my questions about the finding, but he did say “I am very grateful that we have an independent inspector general who saw the facts for what they were. My priorities are now my family and my re-election.”
But Silverstein’s two more impediments to his re-election: He’s currently 45 signatures short on his petition to get on the March 20th ballot and even if he does get on the ballot he’s got a primary challenger.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bob Daiber put some distance between himself and his primary opponents Thursday afternoon by suggesting the state tax retirement income to help pay pension obligations.
Daiber, the only Downstate candidate running for governor, said those seeking the office had to “think outside the box” to meet the state’s more than $130 billion pension obligations instead of acting as if it could be solved by spreading “fairy dust.” To do that, Daiber said everyone in the state will have to pitch in, from retirees to those currently receiving large tax breaks. […]
State Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, one of Daiber’s opponents in the Democratic primary, said he does not support taxing retirement income under the state’s current flat tax structure, but would be open to the idea under a progressive system.
“I would only consider taxing retirement income once we’ve amended the Illinois Constitution to allow for a progressive income tax so that we tax retirement income of wealthier Illinoisans rather than burden middle-class Illinoisans,” Biss said.
Fellow contender J.B. Pritzker does not support a tax on retirement income, his campaign said.
Chris Kennedy’s campaign couldn’t be reached for comment by the reporter.
Illinois farmers harvested 611.9 million bushels of soybeans last year, which led the nation, and we had a 58-bushel yield, also No. 1 in the nation. At nearly $10 a bushel, this is a $6 billion industry. We are a soybean factory in Illinois. Soybeans are used in food, fed to livestock, and converted to biodiesel. Thousands of jobs are generated in the handling, transportation and processing of soybeans, and in the biodiesel industry. Soybeans are essential to the Illinois economy.
But the health of the soybean industry is threatened by the herbicide dicamba.
Bob Daiber, a Democratic candidate for governor and a small-time farmer himself, is urging Illinois, at the center of the soybean universe, to ban dicamba, either through legislation or regulation, before crop damage and insurance claims are rampant. The ban should last indefinitely, until problems with drift are resolved. Arkansas and Missouri already have banned the use of dicamba.
“Somebody has to look out for the long-term health and best interests of agri-business in Illinois,” Daiber said. “If we let this get out of hand, farmers will end up in a thicket of crop loss, insurance claims and litigation, none of which are good for business. If I should be honored to be elected governor, you’ll have someone in Springfield who knows about farming, and how a few pennies here or there, multiplied over thousands of acres, make a difference. But I will also be someone who wants to make sure we don’t kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, whether it’s regarding corn and beans, livestock or specialty crops.”
Daiber, in addition to his duties as regional superintendent of schools for Madison County, is a small-time farmer himself: He and his wife own 250 acres in four locations in Madison and Macoupin counties, and he personally farms 120 acres (corn and beans).
Dicamba kills plants – except for the soybean plants that are genetically modified to survive dicamba. But the trouble is, whether through misapplication or off-label use by farmers, or because of a design flaw in the product itself, dicamba drifts. It not only damages soybeans: A farmer in Pulaski County lost 40 acres of beans and 12 acres of grapes (www.semissourian.com/story/2456331.html). There are reports of oak trees damaged by drifting dicamba.
Dicamba has been used in the United States for 50 years, but starting with the 2017 crop year, it was approved for the first time to be sprayed on fields after the soybeans are already growing, instead of before they sprout. It’s a product farmers find attractive because some weeds have developed resistance to other herbicides.
Lawsuits and insurance claims are piling up. Farmers are having insurance claims against neighboring farmers denied, with the insurance companies claiming it is not the farmer who is to blame, but the product itself. The manufacturers – Monsanto, BASF and DuPont – are being sued.
Nationally, 3.6 million acres have been damaged – that’s 4 percent of the crop – and 2,708 claims are in process, including 245 in Illinois, according to the University of Missouri.
“There are herbicides on the market that don’t drift. Illinois farmers in this important crop sector should stick to those until that bugs are worked out of dicamba,” Daiber said.
* Democrat Daiber Pushes Dicamba Herbicide Ban For Illinois Farming: “We have to make a decision in this state whether we want billionaires to govern us. I believe that the best thing that could happen for all of Illinois, from Chicago to Cairo, is if an everyday working-class person like me became the next governor, (someone) who really understands how everyday people work and live,” Daiber said.
Madison County regional superintendent of schools and Democratic candidate for governor, will address labor issues on Monday, Jan. 29 at news conferences in Wood River and Springfield.
Daiber, a teacher for 28 years, was a member of the Illinois Education Association, and served four years as president of his local at Triad H.S. in Troy.
Members of the media are invited and urged to attend. The Wood River news conference will be on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bobdaiber2018/. The Springfield news conference will be available on Blue Room Stream.
* Eric Zorn’s latest column is entitled “Kennedy fail: Camelot has become Goofalot in the race for governor.” It basically covers Chris Kennedy’s slam on JB Pritzker when asked to say something nice about the other candidates during the NBC 5 forum, and Kennedy’s flubbing a press conference on Joe Berrios…
When reporters asked Kennedy to name his greatest weakness, he replied, “my honesty.”
No. Not in this context. Though I agree with him on many issues, Kennedy’s greatest weakness is that he simply isn’t ready to play the game at this level.
It was not too long ago that Chris Kennedy was seen by many as the best challenger to J.B. Pritzker. But after a couple of stumbles during and after some candidate forums this past week, some political observers say Kennedy needs to rev up his campaign quickly, before it’s too late.
“I think it’s very clear from the debate performance, that he was a bit sluggish and it’s very clear from just watching the airwaves that both Pritzker and Biss are a bit ahead of him,” Northwestern Political Science Professor Alvin Tillery said.
Time is of the essence for Kennedy. And with Biss launching a new TV ad attacking Kennedy and Pritzker by trying to tie them to President Donald Trump and Governor Bruce Rauner, Tillery said Kennedy needs to make a move now with a new TV ad of his own. Kennedy’s campaign says they will, soon. […]
“He needs more than an ad to go up, he needs a series of ads. In fact, he needs to go up and not come down through March 20 is what he needs at this point,” political consultant Delmarie Cobb said. […]
“I think he still has an opportunity to correct any mistakes he’s made, I mean they haven’t been fatal blows at all, they’ve been what I would call novice mistakes,” Cobb said. […]
Kennedy’s campaign said they are the only ones message of vision and change for Illinois. On Thursday, a spokeswoman said “we’re very much in contention with or without ads.”
He can’t run ads without money and he doesn’t have enough to go up and stay up more than a week or so, if that.