* If it wasn’t already evident that the governor’s proposal to shift hundreds of millions of dollars of state pension costs to schools and universities was dead, it is pretty crystal clear now.
GOP Rep. Dave McSweeney’s HR27 declares “the opinion of the Illinois House of Representatives that the proposed educational pension cost shift from the State of Illinois to local school districts, community colleges, and institutions of higher education is financially wrong.” It now has 60 sponsors and co-sponsors…
Rep. David McSweeney - Sam Yingling - Jerry Costello, II - Jay Hoffman - Mary E. Flowers, Norine K. Hammond, Allen Skillicorn, Bill Mitchell, Linda Chapa LaVia, Cynthia Soto, Stephanie A. Kifowit, Sara Wojcicki Jimenez, Katie Stuart, Terri Bryant, LaToya Greenwood, Sue Scherer, Deb Conroy, David B. Reis, Natalie A. Manley, John Cavaletto, C.D. Davidsmeyer, Charles Meier, Randy E. Frese, Michael Halpin, John Connor, Emanuel Chris Welch, Anna Moeller, Tony McCombie, Will Guzzardi, Litesa E. Wallace, Peter Breen, Carol Ammons, Monica Bristow, Natalie Phelps Finnie, Kelly M. Burke, John M. Cabello, Daniel Swanson, Christine Winger, Luis Arroyo, Camille Y. Lilly, Mark Batinick, Jehan Gordon-Booth, Nick Sauer, Chad Hays, Lawrence Walsh, Jr., Steven A. Andersson, Thaddeus Jones, Barbara Wheeler, Jonathan Carroll, Steven Reick, David A. Welter, Joe Sosnowski, Dave Severin, Keith R. Wheeler, Lindsay Parkhurst, Brad Halbrook, Rita Mayfield, Arthur Turner, Marcus C. Evans, Jr. and Nicholas K Smith
The campaign of conservative reform candidate for governor State Rep. Jeanne Ives today released a book entitled The Governor You Don’t Know: The Other Side of Bruce Rauner.
The book provides Republican primary voters a factual history of Governor Rauner’s tenure, bumping his rhetoric up against his policy choices and connecting the dots between the candidate who promised “no social agenda” and an “Illinois Turnaround” with his numerous betrayals.
Authored by Chicago GOP Chairman and Ives Campaign Chairman Chris Cleveland with a foreword by respected conservative State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine), the book provides a succinct and substantiated nine-chapter distillation of an extreme leftist record that Rauner has been able to obfuscate for some with his checkbook.
* Included in the new book are some neither-emasculating-nor-sexist-at-all passages like this…
Bruce Rauner strongly implied during his campaign that he was a Republican. Though wife Diana was a strong Democrat, it was reasonable for Illinois voters to believe that Gov. Rauner wore the pants in the marriage and would wear them in the Governor’s Mansion.
There appears to have been a wardrobe change. […]
Reports circulated widely that Rauner, true to his campaign pledge, had promised to veto House Bill 40. Among those who received such an assurance was Chicago Catholic Cardinal Blase Cupich. Rauner more than once said he would oppose the legislation because it was “too divisive,” especially as he was in the middle of a critical battle over the budget. Conservatives felt confident that Gov. Rauner had now promised them and effectively promised God that he wouldn’t do anything radical.
But in the end, he chose peace with Diana over the Catholic Church, and he signed the legislation. […]
There was a telling anecdote of Diana’s iron grip on Gov. Rauner in the midst of this battle. Before signing the “free” taxpayer-funded abortion bill, he met with Republican leaders to explain his decision. But he wouldn’t start the meeting until Diana showed up and was seated. It appeared to those present in the room that he was not allowed to speak until Diana had arrived to ensure that he didn’t stray from the decision that they had reached together.
(T)here has been a surfeit of “last straws” from Rauner’s term, with each failure (like on immigration) competing to be the most outrageous. Consider:
• Signing a voter registration measure to automatically enroll people on the voting rolls at drivers’ license and other state facilities when applying for, updating or renewing a driver’s license or state ID. That’s after he had promised a year earlier to veto such legislation.
That budget battle was a textbook example of how not to govern, of how politicians can dig in their heels while neglecting the public interest. The Democrats (as usual) deserve much of the blame for spending money Illinois doesn’t have. But Gov. Rauner, alleged deal maker and business genius, was simply AWOL when it came to new ideas or strategies. And his rookie political incompetence allowed a HUGE tax increase to pass. His stewardship has been a disservice to the people of Illinois.
New revelations today in the bribery cases involving Cook County Clerk Dorothy Brown.
A court filing in a pending case against one of Brown’s former aides contains details such as one employee having told investigators that the “going rate” to a buy a job in Brown`s office was $10,000, to be paid to her personal bagman.
Another said in an FBI interview that it was well known that giving gifts to Brown could earn workers a promotion.
A “bagman” allegedly collected money for the clerk. And her employees generally had the impression that “financial benefits to the clerk could result in securing promotions,” according to documents filed by federal prosecutors.
The allegations revealed in the newly filed documents may date back at least to 2015. But they also indicate the feds are still conducting “an ongoing and active criminal investigation” which has involved allegations of lies told to a grand jury, bribery, wire fraud and extortion.
“We deny the allegations wholeheartedly,” Vadim Glozman, one of Brown’s attorneys, told the Chicago Sun-Times. “Ms. Brown has engaged in absolutely no wrongdoing in her time in office.
Brown has not been charged with a crime. And she has survived politically in spite of the years-long investigation of her office. The new records are related to the case against Beena Patel, a one-time top administrator with Brown who allegedly lied to a grand jury about office politicking.
Another [employee] said in an FBI interview it was well known that showering gifts on Brown could earn you a promotion, citing a trip Brown took to India that was partially paid for by relatives of one of her top employees.
Financial records appeared to back up the claims, including transactions showing the alleged bagman — who is also a clerk’s office employee — paid $40,000 directly to Brown and a company she controlled. The clerk later deposited $30,000 of those funds into her campaign war chest. […]
Another employee, Sivasubramani Rajaram, was convicted in 2016 of falsely testifying to the grand jury that he had not talked with Brown after his 2014 hiring. Prosecutors alleged that to secure the job, Rajaram had paid a $15,000 bribe to Brown disguised as a loan to Goat Masters Corp., a goat meat supply company that Brown and her husband had recently founded. Rajaram was sentenced last year to probation.
In their 16-page response Tuesday, prosecutors wrote that they presented plenty of evidence to justify the search warrants, including interviews with current and former employees as well as records showing loans and other financial dealings between Brown and people who worked for her, including Patel and Rajaram.
The U.S. intelligence community developed substantial evidence that state websites or voter registration systems in seven states were compromised by Russian-backed covert operatives prior to the 2016 election — but never told the states involved, according to multiple U.S. officials.
Top-secret intelligence requested by President Barack Obama in his last weeks in office identified seven states where analysts — synthesizing months of work — had reason to believe Russian operatives had compromised state websites or databases.
Three senior intelligence officials told NBC News that the intelligence community believed the states as of January 2017 were Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Texas and Wisconsin. […]
While numerous state election officials told NBC News that the Department of Homeland Security has been stepping up communications with them, many say they’re worried they are still not getting enough information from Washington. […]
Illinois itself had detected a “malicious cyberattack” on its voter registration system in the summer of 2016 and reported it to DHS, saying its voter rolls had been accessed but nothing had been altered. It is the only state to acknowledge actual compromise.
Board spokesman Matt Dietrich said he’s received “numerous calls” from voters who are worried that the Russians going to be changing votes at the precinct level.
“The Russian hacking that you’re hearing about is something that’s very much different than what we consider to be the integrity of the actual voting systems at the polling places,” Dietrich said. No votes were changed, no registrations were changed during the 2016 election, he emphasized.
But Dietrich said the Department of Homeland Security believes the attack threat “is still very real” and wants all states to stay on guard for the coming elections. Further attacks, DHS believes, could be multi-faceted, including cyber security, social media, disrupting the elections process, etc.
* Since October 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has performed weekly “hygiene scans” to detect potential vulnerabilities in our systems. None have been identified to date.
* Scheduling a “Risk and Vulnerability Assessment” with DHS, the most stringent cybersecurity analysis the agency offers
* Participation in numerous groups and associations dedicated to sharing cybersecurity intel and analysis, including the Multi-State Information Sharing & Analysis Center
* Working with state and federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies to facilitate information sharing from the Federal level all the way down to the local level
* Continued partnering with the Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology to leverage their cybersecurity services
* Purchased specialized hardware designed to further protect us from attacks
* Executive Director Steve Sandvoss obtained security clearance to attend national briefing with DHS in Washington, D.C., on cybersecurity and election integrity efforts on Feb. 18, 2018. SBE Director of Voting and Registration Systems Kyle Thomas and Legislative Liaison Cris Cray also attended the briefing.
The board also handed out an explanation of its “elaborate testing process” to protect the voting system’s “integrity and accuracy.” Click here for that.
Legislation that would help small business owners who supply durable medical equipment to Medicaid patients passed the Senate Human Services Committee last week. Durable medical equipment includes equipment such as portable oxygen, feeding tubes and ventilators.
State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) is the sponsor of SB 2262, which would require that the suppliers of the equipment are reimbursed the same amount as the Medicaid Fee for Service fee schedule.
“While some believe the state should have no role in assisting businesses, it’s different when we are talking about life saving equipment for young children,” Koehler said. “I don’t think we should allow this dog-eat-dog environment to put the safety and well-being of Medicaid patients and their families at risk. “
Senator Koehler said that comments made during the committee hearing were misleading and showed a lack of understanding of how the Medicaid system works, pointing out that any “savings” generated from rate cuts will not translate to savings for taxpayers.
“Cutting the rate at which small business owners are reimbursed serves only to send more tax dollars to for-profit medical corporations,” Koehler said. “Last I checked, the purpose of Medicaid is to provide quality health care services, not make money.”
This comes after a report from the Auditor General that found that the Rauner Administration has done little if anything at all to collect information needed to determine if the state’s largest contract in history is actually saving any money. The latest estimate places the cost of the contract at $63 billion over five years, nearly $23 billion higher than the Rauner Administration originally estimated.
* Press release…
In a unanimous vote on Wednesday morning, the House of Representatives’ Elementary & Secondary Education- Licensing, Administration & Oversight committee recommended approval of legislation sponsored by State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) which would bring public school district administrative costs in line with national averages. The bill would also limit future administrative spending increases to the consumer price index or 5%, whichever is lower.
“It’s long past time to get control of our school district administrative spending,” said Breen. “Illinois schools are spending about 2 ½ times the national average on these costs. When our school districts bring these expenditures in line with national norms, we can either redirect that money toward classroom instruction where kids would directly benefit or use that money to reduce property taxes.”
According to Breen, the General Assembly last took up the Limitation of Administrative Costs section of Illinois law in 1997, and two decades later, the metrics in that section used have become outdated and insufficient. “Whether school districts use shared service agreements, intergovernmental agreements, or the consolidation tools available to them, there are a variety of ways to get administrative costs back to the national average,” Breen said. “The Better Government Association suggested last year that $400 million could be saved if Illinois schools limited administrative spending to national averages, as outlined in this bill.”
With the committee’s 8-0 recommendation for approval, Breen’s HB 4789 will now be forwarded to the House floor for a full debate and vote.
* Speaking of Rep. Breen, this is from Planned Parenthood of Illinois…
Through the introduction of HR 798, Rep. Peter Breen suggests that parents should give up earned benefits in order to pay for parental leave.
No parent should have to dip into her retirement in order to be able to spend time with her children. Rep. Breen’s proposal (HR 798) calls on Congress to create a paid parental leave program that allows parents to defer Social Security payments in order to pay for time off when becoming new parents.
Breen’s plan will disproportionately hurt women. This plan requires parents to give up retirement benefits that they’ve earned in order to have paid parental leave.
The organizations listed oppose HR 798, proposed by Rep. Peter Breen:
American Association of University Women – Illinois, Chicago Foundation for Women, Indivisible Brookfield, Indivisible Illinois, Lincoln Square Indivisible, Illinois National Organization for Women, Mujeres Latinas en Acción, Planned Parenthood of Illinois, Rock Island County Indivisible, and Women Employed.
Women, in particular, need to have support for paid parental leave AND improved retirement benefits. According to the National Institute on Retirement Security, women are 80% as likely as men to live in poverty after age 65. Women cannot afford to trade retirement benefits for parental leave.
Only 15 percent of U.S. workers overall have access to paid family leave, and that percentage is even less for low-wage workers. One in four women return to work within two weeks of giving birth, and one in five employees — male and female — leave the workforce earlier than planned to care for a spouse or loved one.
The Trump-Pence administration, and Congress, have been attacking women’s rights at every level possible – Rep. Breen is just adding to the countless insults with this new proposal.
* Press release…
Yesterday, State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) advanced legislation out of the Illinois Senate Judiciary Committee that would reinstate the right of Illinois citizens to challenge pollution permits issued by state agencies. State Representative Steve Andersson (R-Geneva) has introduced identical legislation - HB5119 - in the Illinois House.
Due to several recent court cases where the courts have narrowly understood the law, currently “affected parties” only include the agencies that issue a permit or the companies that receive them. SB3005/HB5119 seeks to provide an opportunity for residents to challenge certain permits that, if issued, present a significant environmental and public health threat to their community.
“Because courts have narrowly interpreted current law, only the applicant for a pollution permit and issuing agency are considered “affected parties”, but the reality is that many others are affected by these decisions - affected by putrid air, fouled water, and other health threats,” said Senator Raoul. “SB3005 strengthens the law to recognize and protect the right of Illinois citizens to have a voice in what goes into their communities.”
“We’ve heard from communities across Illinois who feel ignored. We’ve talked to farmers and neighbors who have been left helpless as polluting industries or massive animal confinements go up in their backyards, threatening their air, water, and livelihoods. This legislation aims to give these people their voices back,” said Jen Walling, executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council.
SB3005/HB5119 would amend the state’s Administrative Review Law to allow residents to challenge permits issued by state regulators, such as the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Department of Agriculture. Under the bill, residents would have standing to challenge new permits that may lead to environmental harms such as air pollution, contaminated groundwater, and offensive odors.
“This bill will provide justice by giving Illinois citizens who are adversely affected by certain wrongful environmental-permitting decisions the ability to challenge those decisions in court,” said Mark Templeton, director of the Abrams Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Chicago.
Dani Diamond, from the organization Illinois Citizens for Clean Air & Water, which is a statewide coalition of family farmers and community groups, stated that “for too long neighbors and communities impacted by polluting industries had no access to the legal system to prevent pollution or contamination until it was too late. Thankfully, this bill restores fundamental rights for Illinoisans.”
SB3005 passed out of committee on a 10-2 vote, but will be heading back to committee for an amendment.
* I sent two questions to all gubernatorial candidates in both parties the other day. Their deadline was noon today. As with the AG candidate responses, their answers have been slightly edited to avoid repeating these two questions…
(1) Does your campaign have a written sexual harassment policy? (If so, please send. If not, please explain why.)
(2) Has your campaign conducted any sexual harassment training sessions? (If so, please include dates. If not, please explain why.)
* Posted in the order they were received. Pritzker campaign…
1) “The campaign has a written sexual harassment policy included in its employee handbook, which staff is required to review and sign at the beginning of their employment with the campaign. The campaign’s sexual harassment policy makes clear that the campaign is committed to providing a work environment that is free from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, gives examples of prohibited sexual harassment, and outlines reporting procedures so that victims and witnesses of sexual harassment know who they can talk to if they experience or witness harassment, discrimination, or retaliation. The campaign ensures that reported sexual harassment allegations will be investigated in a timely fashion and by an independent and external body when appropriate. JB and Juliana’s administration will operate under these same policies and have zero tolerance for harassment of any form.”
2) “On December 14, 2017, the campaign participated in a comprehensive, all-staff sexual harassment training that was conducted by labor and employment attorney, Jeannil Boji. The campaign takes harassment very seriously and chose to devote time and resources to participate in this training so that our staff understands the campaign’s sexual harassment policies and reporting procedures as well as the campaign’s commitment to cultivating a fair, respectful, non-threatening workplace environment free of sexual harassment and intimidating behaviors. The training, entitled “Advancing Respect and Fairness in The Campaign Workplace,” aimed to go beyond what is merely required under the law, making clear that even if conduct does not fall under the legal definition of harassment, conduct which erodes a fair and respectful work environment is contrary to the campaign’s values, culture, and policies. The training provided an open forum for staff to ask questions, discuss the #MeToo movement, and examine specific issues and examples applicable to political and campaign settings. After the all-staff presentation, senior management received additional training focused on recognizing, rooting out, and investigating sexual harassment, and fostering a workplace where colleagues treat each other with the utmost respect and civility. Training participants were provided with the campaign’s written sexual harassment policies and were asked to sign a statement confirming their participation and pledging to abide by the campaign’s policies.”
See below for our campaign’s policy [click here]. It’s a part of our standard employee contract. In light of recent events, we’re working to ensure every employee and volunteer on the campaign has the appropriate resources and training to comply with our policy.
I followed up about the training date(s) and haven’t heard back.
* Biss campaign…
“Yes, our campaign has a written sexual harassment policy and yes, we have conducted a sexual harassment training session where we established procedures for reporting harassment. We signed on to the IDCCA sexual harassment policy and have posted the policy publicly in each of our field offices to make sure staff and volunteers are aware as well.”
I followed up about the training dates and was told “last week.” The IDCCA sexual harassment policy is here.
* This whole question idea came to me when Chris Kennedy announced a plan to combat campaign-related sexual harassment. Here’s his campaign’s response…
1) Yes, we have a written sexual harassment policy. It’s included in our overall campaign policy document signed by staff members when they start. [Click here.]
2) This is an important issue and one for which our campaign has developed a proposed policy platform that we released earlier this week. We are bringing in an outside expert to lead sexual harassment training for our campaign staff. We have an ongoing dialogue on our team about harassment and we have identified a staff member on our team who others can turn to with any concerns, complaints or allegations of workplace and sexual harassment.
Republican Rep. Jeanne Ives and Democratic candidates Bob Daiber and Tio Hardiman did not respond. Neither of the Dems have much of anything in the way of staff, however.
*** UPDATE 1 *** The Daiber campaign insists they sent this to me last night, but I can’t find it. Here’s their answer…
1. The Daiber for Governor Committee adopted the IL Democratic County Chairs’ Association Sexual Harassment Policy and Pledge.
2. Yes, Friday, February 23rd. A review of the policy and pledge was discussed at the training.
So, the tiny little Daiber campaign has had a sexual harassment training and the Kennedy campaign, which recently unveiled a plan which would require every campaign to do harassment training, hasn’t yet done a training session.
*** UPDATE 2 *** Yikes…
Once again, the Kennedy camp proves they're not ready for prime time. The #metoo issue is proof that policies aren't worth the paper they're written on w/o leadership and follow-through. Issue a plan & flog it for all the press you can but don’t bother adhering to it. SMH #twillhttps://t.co/0tep0ExAtb
* I sent these two questions to all attorney general candidates in both parties. Their deadline was noon today. The answers have been slightly edited to avoid repeating these questions…
1) Does your campaign have a written sexual harassment policy? (If so, please send. If not, please explain why.)
2) Has your campaign conducted any sexual harassment training sessions? (If so, please include dates. If not, please explain why.)
The IDCCA sexual harassment policy referenced by some Democratic candidates is here.
* Here are the answers in the order they were received. Nancy Rotering…
“Every organization is a product of its leadership. Culture is set at the top. In my city government, we have a clear zero tolerance policy towards sexual harassment. Every City employee is required to sign an acknowledgment form confirming receipt and understanding of the policy. In addition, the City mandates sexual harassment sensitivity training for all City employees.
Sexual harassment has no place in government, political campaigns, or frankly, anywhere. I have signed and my campaign has adopted the IL Democratic County Chairs’ Association (ILDCCA) policy.
I deeply understand the call for help. My own experiences in school, working in the car industry, practicing law, and frankly, walking down the street, led me to become an outspoken advocate against sexual harassment. As my campaign has a lean, all-female staff, we have not conducted sexual harassment training sessions.”
* Sen. Kwame Raoul’s campaign…
1) Yes and it has been signed by each member of Raoul for Illinois paid staff. A copy is attached. [Click here.]
2) No; however, Sen. Raoul is in constant communication with his colleagues on the Senate Sexual Discrimination and Harassment Awareness and Prevention Task Force about how we can prevent harassment in every workplace.
I’d also note that Sen. Raoul signed on to the Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association (IDCCA) zero-tolerance sexual harassment policy and pledge last week. View his tweet here: https://twitter.com/KwameRaoul/status/965760862056337408 and learn more about the pledge here: http://ildcca.org/2018/02/sexual-harassment-policy-and-pledge/
* Gov. Pat Quinn…
1) Yes. We have adopted the policy of the Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association and the suggested policy for private employers that was developed by the Illinois Department of Human Rights. They are attached.
2) The sessions are ongoing. Staff, contractors and frequent volunteers have been asked to complete an online training course from Compliance Training Group and to certify to the campaign that they have done so. The campaign is paying for this service. Volunteers who work limited hours are given training materials that include information about our strict policy against sexual harassment.
* Gary Grasso…
1) Citizens for Gary Grasso is committed to a safe workplace environment with a zero tolerance policy for any form of sexual harassment. The campaign will investigate any allegations of sexual harassment immediately and if any staff member is found to have sexually harassed another will be dismissed immediately. All complaints of sexual harassment will be taken seriously and treated timely with respect and in confidence.
2) This policy was reviewed in December with staff at 1st meeting.
2) Friends of Scott Drury does not tolerate harassment or other misconduct. Friends of Scott Drury is in the process of finding a reputable entity that can provide meaningful training to its organization.
* Erika Harold…
1) The Citizens for Erika Harold campaign has a zero-tolerance policy [Click here] for any sexual or racial harassment. This policy applies to every employee of and/or agent working with the campaign. Any person deemed to have engaged in sexual or racial harassment will immediately be removed from his or her role with the campaign.
Every employee or agent of the campaign is clearly notified of the campaign’s position on sexual and racial harassment upon engagement with the campaign.
As a victim of severe racial and sexual harassment, Erika Harold takes these issues very seriously and ensures everyone associated with her campaign is aware of her strong, zero-tolerance position on these issues. Erika has a long history of personally championing the exposure of sexual and racial harassment and received a leadership award from the National Center for Victims of Crime for her national anti-bullying campaign.
I followed up to ask about training sessions. They only have one full-time official staffer, so no trainings have been held.
* Renato Mariotti…
* 1) We have a small staff, and Renato met individually with each staff member when they were hired. He informed everyone that if there was ever any inappropriate behavior by a staff member, they could come to him directly, and he would address it. We have formalized this policy using the Illinois Democratic Campaign Sexual Harassment Policy as a guideline.
2) We have not had any formal training sessions re: sexual harassment — Renato has made his stance on workplace harassment clear during the entry meetings as well as during the course of the campaign. We will not stand for inappropriate behavior from anyone on the campaign.
Democrats Jesse Ruiz, Sharon Fairley and Aaron Goldstein did not respond.
The gubernatorial campaign responses will be posted in a bit.
*** UPDATE *** The Jesse Ruiz campaign responded yesterday and I just didn’t see it. Here it is…
1) Yes. As a matter of fact, our campaign was one of the first to sign the IDCCA policy and pledge stating that our campaign will be sexual harassment free. The pledge has been shared with our campaign staff, consultants, volunteers, and interns.
- To not tolerate, condone, or ignore sexual harassment of any kind from anyone.
- To take action to prevent sexual harassment and create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all staff, consultants, volunteers, and interns.
- To take all reports of sexual harassment seriously.
- To ensure that all staff, volunteers, consultants and interns are aware of how sexual harassment should be reported and investigated.
- To educate ourselves and others about sexual harassment.
2) Other than sharing and prominently displaying the above mentioned pledge, we have not. However, we would actively participate in a democratic organization sponsored training session that would set the standard statewide for all campaigns providing guidelines and operating procedures regarding sexual harassment that would include reporting, investigation and resolution.
…Adding… Fairley’s response arrived just before 1 o’clock, but here it is…
1) We shared the written ILDCCA policy that Sharon signed with our campaign staff and used that as a guideline for our sexual harassment policy.
2) Yes, all campaign staff have been made aware of the process for reporting and investigation allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct.
* I told subscribers that a Pritzker his on Kennedy was coming. I didn’t know what it was, however. Turns out, it’s about college tuition…
Five times. Five times Chris Kennedy voted to raise tuition as chair of the board at the University of Illinois. Kennedy’s votes drove up the cost of college nearly 30 percent for Illinois students and their families.
At the same time, Chris Kennedy voted for huge pay raises for administrators and coaches. [Overlay: Chris Kennedy approved $600,000 for university president, $1.6 million for football coach, $1.4 million for basketball coach.]
Pay raises for them, higher tuition for Illinois families. Chris Kennedy. Shouldn’t we judge him by his record?
Keep in mind that the idea here is not to knock Kennedy out, but rather to halt any surge.
*** UPDATE *** Kennedy campaign response…
According to the University of Illinois, Chris Kennedy’s leadership while Chairman of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, “fixed tuition increases at or below the rate of inflation and precipitated a downward trend for the rate of tuition increases that continues.”
While the state failed to fully fund its obligation, leaving the University $500 million short of what it was owed from the state, Chris Kennedy’s leadership generated $100 million in new aid for students who couldn’t afford full tuition. This ad is a smear from a spiraling campaign with plummeting poll numbers that’s looking to stop Chris Kennedy’s surge among voters. JB Pritzker has opted to make false claims about Chris Kennedy to hide from his record of being caught on FBI tapes with Rod Blagojevich.
* Background info…
* It’s not true that Chris’s votes “drove up the cost of college nearly 30% for Illinois students and their families.” That 30% figure refers only to the tuition component of the cost of going to U of I. Room and board and fees are actually a bigger piece of the cost equation. The true total cost hike depends on which campus you look at. You can see his sleight of hand by comparing the language used in the narration versus the accurate “30% higher tuition” in the visual, which is what campaign do when they want to exaggerate but be able to claim they’re not lying.
* 2/3rds to 3/4ths of the compensation for the football and basketball coach was to be footed by corporate sponsors. It wasn’t coming out of kids’ tuitions or taxpayer dollars. (Moreover even the UIUC share was from athletic department “revenues.”)
* Finally, none of the votes was actually a “pay raise” in the sense of raising the pay of someone already on the job. The coaches and the president were new hires having their pay set for the first time.
Hours after Madigan released the abridged list of complaints, a group of Chicago Democrats opened discussions with campaign workers and a union group over how to prevent abuse and harassment in Illinois’ raucous political environment. About a half-dozen staff members and three lawmakers attended the meeting, which focused primarily on pay, long hours, troubles with temporary housing and sexual harassment.
Emma LaBounty, a member of the executive council of the fledgling Campaign Workers Guild, said the union is getting started by organizing individual campaigns throughout the country. So far, she said, the union has reached contracts with only a handful of campaigns but is working with dozens to organize at the local, state and federal levels. […]
[Alaina Hampton], a former foot soldier in Madigan’s political organization [who has complained about sexual harassment], attended the gathering and plans to meet with a legislative women’s caucus Wednesday. […]
“Now more than ever, campaign workers need protection and the kind of safe work environment I didn’t have access to,” Hampton told the Tribune late Tuesday. “The guild is a step in the right direction.”
A Chicago meeting is in the works.
* I took video of the press conference. It’s in two parts because I had to stop and quickly answer some urgent text messages. Part One…
* More Paul Simon Public Policy Institute poll results. Remember, these are registered voters, not likely voters, which may be why they’re not matching up with some of the tracking poll results I’ve seen…
In the most recent statewide version of the Simon Poll, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner leads challenger Jeanne Ives, a state representative from Wheaton, in the Republican Primary, by 20 points, 51 percent to 31 percent. Businessman JB Pritzker leads State Sen. Daniel Biss in the crowded Democratic primary by 10 points, 31 percent to 21 percent. Former University of Illinois Board of Trustees Chairman Chris Kennedy trails in third place, at 17 percent. […]
In hypothetical general election matchups, asked of the full sample, Gov. Rauner trails both leading Democratic candidates by similar margins: Pritzker leads the governor 50 percent to 35 percent, while Biss leads Rauner 48 percent to 34 percent.
“It’s interesting that Pritzker’s and Biss’s margins over Rauner are essentially the same in The Simon Poll,” said Charlie Leonard, an Institute visiting professor involved in the polling. “One explanation may be that in the minds of voters—who may know little about either Biss or Pritzker—the decision may come down to ‘Rauner versus not-Rauner.’ If the election were held today, I’d rather be ‘not-Rauner.’”
Both Pritzker and Biss lead the governor by wide margins in the City of Chicago and the Chicago suburbs (see Table 9), while downstate, Rauner leads Pritzer by three points and leads Biss by eight points—keeping in mind the smaller sample sizes and wider margins for error in the geographic subgroups.
“It is three weeks to go until the March 20th Primary and major events could still move these numbers,” said John S. Jackson, another designer of this poll. “However, for all the money and attention these two races have garnered, the results so far fairly faithfully reflect the bedrock strength of these two parties in the state of Illinois, and this advantages the Democrats.”
Those are not good Democratic primary numbers for Pritzker, to say the least. And Ives at 31 means she’d better get a big check soon. Rauner’s general election Downstate lead over Pritzker is very small, considering the recent trends in this state.
* Regional breakdowns…
In the poll of 1,001 registered voters across Illinois, conducted February 19 through 25, the margin for error is plus or minus 3 percentage points. It is important to remember that among self-identified primary election voters, the margin is significantly wider: plus or minus 6 percentage points in the 259-voter sample of Republicans, and 4.5 percentage points in the sample of 472 Democrats.
In the Republican primary for Attorney General, Harvard Law graduate and Champaign-Urbana attorney Erika Harold, well known in Republican political circles, leads the lesser-known Gary Grasso, a DuPage County board member, 18 percent to 14 percent, with almost two-thirds (65 percent) undecided.
The Democratic primary for Attorney General is as crowded as the gubernatorial field, with eight candidates vying for the nomination. State Sen. Kwame Raoul of Chicago leads the pack with 22 percent of respondents, vs. former Gov. Pat Quinn, with 18 percent. None of the other candidates registers double-digit support, and the undecideds total 39 percent.
Biggest takeaway: Gov. Rauner needs to start giving Erika Harold some cash. Now.
* The only crosstabs included…
* These are registered voters, not likely voters, so be careful with this…
In the poll of 1,001 registered voters across Illinois, conducted February 19 through 25, the margin for error is plus or minus 3 percentage points. It is important to remember that among self-identified primary election voters, the margin is significantly wider: plus or minus 6 percentage points in the 259-voter sample of Republicans, and 4.5 percentage points in the sample of 472 Democrats.
Today, the JB Pritzker campaign released a new TV ad, “Lead the Charge,” featuring the Chicago Sun-Times resounding endorsement of JB in the Democratic primary.
In the endorsement — which Capitol Fax called “one of the strongest I’ve ever seen for anyone” — the Chicago Sun-Times acknowledged that JB is best candidate to beat Bruce Rauner and praised his leadership and vision for Illinois.
“I’m so honored to receive the endorsement of the Chicago Sun-Times, and when I’m governor, I will lead the charge to put Springfield back on the side of working families,” said JB Pritzker. “Bruce Rauner has decimated this state’s future, but I’ll be a governor who works hard every day to create jobs across Illinois, expand healthcare, and invest in education so every community can thrive. This is a grassroots, statewide campaign ready to win this primary and beat Bruce Rauner in November.”
The Chicago Sun-Times endorses JB Pritzker for governor, praising JB’s achievements in both the private and public sectors.
JB’s future-focused approach to economic development is precisely what Illinois needs.
He offers Democrats the best chance to defeat Bruce Rauner.
And JB has a plan to properly fund public education that would ease the pressure on property taxes.
JB Pritzker has what it takes to lead the charge.
* Meanwhile, from yesterday…
Today, the JB Pritzker campaign released a new Spanish language TV ad, “Un Aliado.” The ad features Congressman Luis Gutiérrez highlighting how JB will be an ally for every community in Illinois by investing in education, expanding healthcare, and standing up to Donald Trump’s attacks on immigrant communities and Dreamers.
“Congressman Luis Gutiérrez is a tireless fighter for Illinois’ families and I’m so honored to have his endorsement,” said JB Pritzker. “As governor, I will stand with Luis as an ally and a staunch advocate for every community in Illinois. Together, we will protect Dreamers from Donald Trump’s attacks, expand healthcare for Illinois families, and invest in the education that Illinois children need to thrive. It’s time for a governor who brings people together and lifts up our communities and that’s the leader I will be in Springfield.”
In his run for Illinois governor, billionaire J.B. Pritzker is investing an average of about $171,000 a day from his fortune to try to win a job that pays $177,412 a year and comes with major headaches.
The same enormous wealth that has benefited Pritzker’s campaign is now complicating what until a few weeks ago looked like an easy victory for him in the March 20 Democratic primary.
Rivals are pointing to his fortune to suggest the Hyatt hotel heir is out of touch with average voters. One opponent, State Senator Daniel Biss, has created an online calculator that pictures Pritzker in a tuxedo and asks visitors to enter their salary to see how quickly his team would spend that amount.
It adds to a separate perception challenge for Pritzker, in a party primary where non-whites are likely to account for a third or more of the vote. A recently released audio recording from almost a decade ago captured Pritzker and then-Governor Rod Blagojevich, now serving a long prison sentence for corruption, making crass comments about several of the state’s prominent black politicians.
Names were not included to preserve confidentiality, which [Madigan lawyer Heather Wier Vaught] pointed to when asked whether the people complaining were satisfied with the resolution. She said identifying the dates of each would give clues to the people involved, but that the oldest was in 2013 and the latest more recently. […]
Vaught said with reporters and lawyers calling multiple Madigan staff members to ask about harassment, and rumors swirling, “The point of this document, in part, is to show you, here’s what we really heard, here’s what we really received, here’s how we handled it.”
Vaught said specific dates were left off the list to protect the confidentiality of complainants who did not want to be named or identified. She also decried reporters for calling staffers to ask if they had lodged complaints in recent weeks as Madigan’s office has come under fire for its handling of sexual harassment allegations.
“That has led to a lot of concern, and very, frankly, frightened people who may have things in their lives… that they don’t want to discuss publicly,” Vaught said. […]
Madigan insisted there is no negative culture in any of his operations.
“There’s no culture with me, and if you read through how these [complaints] were processed, you can see that at the leadership level, we don’t tolerate inappropriate behavior,” he said. “We just don’t tolerate it.”
Madigan said the list, the product of an internal investigation by his office, was released in response to “a lot of questions from a variety of people, what kind of complaints come into our office about unwanted, unwarranted activities.”
He said his office prepared the list as an “educational document.”
The list contains nine entries that offer vague descriptions of staff complaints made about discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment or retaliation. Madigan said they were complaints that were brought to the attention of his chief of staff or any director, supervisor or ethics officer. […]
Senate President John Cullerton’s office released a statement saying “our personnel policies spell out that any complaints are to be treated in as confidential a manner as possible in order to protect the privacy and rights of the victim. Our priority is a professional work environment in which anyone who feels victimized can come forward with confidence knowing that their rights and privacy will be protected.”
Though state Democratic Party members have pressured the Speaker to stand down in recent weeks, Madigan says he’s staying the course.
“I’m not resigning, I’m moving forward. I’m, uh, working with this particular issue, and we’re gonna work our way through it. And we’re gonna provide good strong leadership, as I have for several years.” Madigan says.
Before speaking to reporters, Madigan distributed the memo during a heated closed-door meeting with House Democrats. Lawmakers peppered Madigan with questions after two of his top campaign aides were dismissed in recent weeks following allegations of sexual harassment and bullying.
“You’ve got a bunch of elected officials who were saying, ‘What’s going on? What’s going on? What’s going on?’ ” Democratic Rep. Robert Martwick of Chicago said afterward. […]
Rep. Kelly Cassidy, a Chicago Democrat who has requested an outside investigation into complaints about Madigan’s statehouse and political organization, called the speaker’s Tuesday disclosure a “good start.” But she said more needs to be done to ensure people feel safe enough to come forward. Cassidy noted that the Capitol is not a traditional work environment, and it’s often unclear how to report allegations and who would be responsible for looking into them.
“I just think back on my experience when I was first down here, it didn’t occur to me that there was anyone I could turn to,” Cassidy said. “So for those nine on that sheet, that is no doubt just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more that doesn’t get reported.”
* Democratic attorney general candidate Sharon Fairley…
The memo of complaints about misconduct House Speaker Mike Madigan made public Tuesday should be evaluated for what it didn’t say rather than what it did. It didn’t list complaints by a member about another member. It didn’t list complaints by a member about a lobbyist. It didn’t list complaints by a lobbyist about a member. It didn’t list complaints by staff about a member regarding ill treatment or derogatory comments. It didn’t list complaints about another caucus leader, member or staff. Lastly, it didn’t list unresolved complaints.
Speaker Madigan would have the people of Illinois believe the nine complaints that he disclosed have been all tied up in a nice, neat bow. What the Democratic Party leaders don’t seem to comprehend is these complaints and the way they were handled are indicative of a profound lack of interest in accountability.
If these complaints took place over the last five years, they should’ve been referred to the Legislative Inspector General office for an independent investigation. What is the point of having a Legislative Inspector General to investigate allegations of misconduct if lawmakers are simply going to take complaints and then sweep them under the rug? If the Speaker wants to show Illinoisans “new and unprecedented action,” then he should release all complaints—including those against other legislators. Voters need to know what else is out there. There should be full disclosure and full referral to the inspector general for independent investigation.
If these complaints took place during the three-year absence of the LIG, then this makes clear Madigan was aware of the need for this position to be filled and did nothing. The veteran legislator needs to step down as speaker and the General Assembly needs to step up to select someone to fill the LIG’s position permanently. These disclosures also illustrate the need for fundamental changes to the statute governing the Ethics Commission and the LIG. In particular, the Speakers disclosure clearly sets out the case for including a duty to report misconduct to the LIG for independent investigation.
These recent revelations of sexual harassment and sexual assault give credence to Springfield being a frat house. It’s the lack of transparency and tepid response that allows improper behavior to go unchecked.
Contrary to those who believe asking Madigan to resign would be like firing a general in the midst of an important battle, in my view, the only battle the Speaker seems to be waging is the one to keep challengers to his slate of candidates from prevailing in the Democratic primary. There’s precedent, however, for taking a general off the battlefield. In an historical article I recently read it says, “Sometimes during the emergencies of war even senior officers are found to be lacking in brains, skills, or character necessary to win the war.” So, I say let Madigan be the Illinois version of George S. Patton, shall we.
For now at least, a vote for Andrea Raila in the Democratic primary for Cook County assessor won’t count.
Circuit Judge Robert Bertucci on Tuesday agreed with a county Electoral Board decision to kick Raila out of the primary race against Assessor Joe Berrios. The board determined her campaign engaged in a “pattern of fraud” while collecting nominating petition signatures.
But Bertucci denied a motion by primary rival Fritz Kaegi asking to remove Raila’s name from city and county ballots and touch screens. Election authorities said doing so was “impossible” this close to the March 20 election.
Instead, officials will provide notices that votes for Raila won’t count. And they’ve agreed to print notices in newspapers, including the Tribune, advising voters of that fact.
“It’s not a perfect world,” Circuit Judge Robert W. Bertucci said after election officials argued it’s too late to physically remove Raila’s name from printed ballots or electronic touchscreen voting machines.
Instead, voters will receive printed notices in their polling places that any votes for Raila will not be counted. Election officials also said they will place legal notices in newspapers. They even offered to pay for broadcast commercials to spread the word. […]
Raila’s lawyer, Frank Avila Jr., said he will appeal. […]
[Circuit Judge Robert Bertucci] acquiesced to the election officials when they told him election tabulating equipment used in the precincts would not work properly if Raila’s name was removed from the electronic ballots but left on the paper ballots. Both systems are used in polling places, then the voting results merged. […]
A similar situation is unfolding in the race for the Democratic nomination to succeed retiring Cook County Clerk David Orr, where lawyer Jan Kowalski McDonald filed petitions to run against Karen Yarbrough, who currently holds the office of county recorder.
McDonald was kicked off the ballot, but her case won’t be heard in court until March 7th. Sheesh.
Legislative candidate Burt Minor strongly denies uttering a homosexual slur in front of Republican attorney general candidate Erika Harold and says he used a racial epithet during their October conversation only after she asked him to explain the meaning of the term “N-word.”
Minor, 58, a candidate March 20 in the GOP primary for the 42nd Illinois House, says he’s willing to take a lie-detector test to support his version of what happened. […]
But Harold on Monday said Minor has given “multiple versions” of the story.
“My story has never changed,” said Harold, 37, of Urbana. […]
Harold is calling Minor’s description of what happened “preposterous.”
Suzanne Heffner Hackenbruch, who has been a GOP committeeman for roughly 20 years, said she was “shocked and offended” when Minor told a group of fellow Republicans about his conversation with Harold.
She said Minor recounted how he asked Harold a series of questions that culminated with asking whether she was a lesbian.
“I couldn’t believe what I heard,” she said. “At no time did he indicate that Erika had invited him to ask her any tough questions … I don’t see how her personal life has anything to do with (issues in DuPage).”
• In his lengthy statement last week, he failed to specifically deny the slurs attributed to him. That did not come until he spoke to our Editorial Board days later. If the claims were untrue, wouldn’t those be the first things you’d deny?
• In our conversation with him, he referred to reports he’d heard in December that his meeting with Harold may create problems. But as much as we asked him about where he’d heard those reports, the more he danced around the subject. It left us with the impression that something is missing in his story of what happened.
• Under what circumstances would anyone, much less an African American like Harold, ask what the N-word means?
• Minor’s answer to that question was that he thinks Harold may have been setting him up. But he hadn’t announced his candidacy for the House yet; what was there to set up?
Not only had he not yet announced his candidacy for Rep. Ives’ seat at the time of that meeting, Ives hadn’t even begun circulating petitions to run for governor.
Today, the Rauner campaign launched the latest ad highlighting JB Pritzker’s ties to disgraced former Governor Rod Blagojevich.
Earlier this month, the Chicago Tribune released another set of wiretaps featuring Blagojevich and Pritzker discussing Barack Obama’s Senate seat with Pritzker calling Jesse White “the least offensive” African American. These tapes, as well as the Tribune’s first bombshell report, show Pritzker’s insider status and self-interested approach to public service.
Chris Kennedy said “J.B.’s conversations with Blagojevich are disqualifying and they’re a reflection of his integrity.” State Sen. Daniel Biss called the conversation “horse-trading for more power” and made clear that they “can’t afford to nominate JB Pritzker.”
His fellow Democrats have summed it up best - JB Pritzker is unelectable in Illinois.
If you’re forced to put an African-American in the spot, which I, my guess is, you’re not forced to do anything, but my guess is a lot of pressure to do it. Um, of all the African-Americans I can think that are sort of like qualified and vetted and people will say, ‘Oh, that’s, you know, that’s, that’s a pretty good pick,’ the one that I, you know, that’s least offensive and maybe gets you the most because it gets you that secretary of state appointment is Jesse White… the one that I, you know, that’s least offensive and maybe gets you the most.”
I’m told by a Democratic campaign that they believe there are 400 ratings points behind this ad for the week.
…Adding… Pritzker supporter…
Sorry, @GovRauner, you don’t get to do this. Your cabinet is virtually devoid of black folk. GTCR’s team looks like a sheet of computer paper. Your budgets decimate ppl. of color. Your commitment to black entrepreneurs is non-existent. This is laughable hypocrisy. #twill#ilgov
A previously undisclosed email chain involved deliberations over the crafting of an Aug. 27, 2015 press release issued jointly by the state Veterans’ Affairs and Public Health departments confirming eight cases of Legionnaires’ at the home. By that point, the state had known for six days it had an “epidemic” on its hands.
The day before the press release went out, part of the email chain included a draft release and messaging bullet points, including one from Yantis, the Veterans’ Affairs spokesman, reinforcing that “there is no cause for alarm; this is a manageable situation and we are focusing talents, efforts and appropriate resources to meet the needs.”
The draft release ended with a rundown of how staff at the facility had cleaned ice machines and common bathing and shower areas, among other things, to try and kill the waterborne bacteria that causes Legionnaires’.
The head epidemiologist at Quincy’s Blessing Hospital, where many of the Legionnaires’ victims were taken for testing and treatment, questioned that phrasing in an email later that night.
“The last paragraph sounds like the cleaning is a new activity; did they not clean these before and what did they do as a result of the first cases in July? A smart reporter will eat the spokesperson alive,” emailed Dr. Robert Merrick.
“They should have had you write the release,” Merrick continued in his note to the hospital staffer. “Overall I think it is poorly written, confusing and in my view just a smoke to cover peoples [sic] butts.”
The press release later issued publicly by the state had the reference to cleaning removed.
* Meanwhile, here’s the political react. Biss campaign…
Daniel Biss released the following statement in response to the latest WBEZ story revealing Gov. Bruce Rauner’s failure to acknowledge and address the Legionnaire’s crisis at the Illinois Veterans Home.
“Bruce Rauner was apparently more interested in avoiding another PR crisis than doing his job and addressing the crisis that cost veterans their lives. When he had the opportunity to protect our veterans and prevent their untimely deaths, he chose to look the other way. It’s irresponsible and immoral—and entirely disqualifying.”
* Ives campaign…
“The contents of these emails confirm our worst fears and suspicions about this Governor. It is not that he was inept, an outsider trying to figure his way around state government. But that he and his administration were as cold and calculating at they seemed. These emails revealed that they were more concerned with appearances, status and protecting their seats of power, than they were with people who were suffering – and, in this case, dying. Those who had taken ill in the Illinois Veterans Home were discussed as political obstacles, instead of people in need of care. No one should be treated the way these men and women have been treated, least of all veterans and their families who have served their country and sacrificed in ways most of us cannot imagine.
“I’ve asked before, ‘What the hell is wrong with this Governor?’ This morning, I am afraid we know.”
* Pritzker campaign…
“Bruce Rauner put managing headlines above managing the care of our nation’s heroes,” said JB Pritzker. “As Legionnaires’ spread in the Quincy Veterans’ Home, the Rauner administration moved quickly to stop the public relations crisis while leaving Veterans and their spouses behind. This is what failed leadership and fatal mismanagement looks like. Illinois Veterans deserve better than a governor who refuses to take charge and has no regrets after 13 Veterans and spouses died on his watch. When I’m governor, I will treat our Veterans with the dignity and respect they deserve.”
Notice that no “unresolved” complaints are listed above. Also, lots of exclusions.
…Adding… Speaker Madigan said he sent the document to the other legislative leaders and constitutional officers and recommended that they do the same.
Reporters were told there are only a small number of unresolved complaints.
Madigan could not say when the above incidents occurred.
“What does this say about your office?” Madigan was asked about the volume of complaints. “Is there a culture within your office?” Madigan replied, “There’s no culture with me… (The report shows) we don’t tolerate this behavior.”
Madigan was asked if any new allegations had emerged against his leadership team or members of his caucus. “Not to my knowledge.”
According to Heather Wier-Vaught, the first allegation occurred in 2013, the last one on the list was “more recent.”
Speaker Madigan also reiterated that he would not resign.
More than 20 pastors from throughout Chicago endorsed Chris Kennedy for Governor today at Quinn Chapel AME Church.
“Illinois needs someone who will not bow to the party bosses. I’ve listened attentively to Chris Kennedy, and this man has made a believer out of me,” said Rev. Ira Acree of Greater St. John Bible Church on Chicago’s west side. “He’s not going to Springfield to be anybody’s pawn, but he’s going there to lead the system overhaul that’s needed in Illinois.”
The pastors cited Kennedy’s character and contrasted it with JB Pritzker, referencing his comments on FBI tapes and his ties to the political establishment in Springfield.
“Chris Kennedy is a man of passion and compassion. Chris Kennedy has a passion to serve and a compassionate heart for the people,” said Rev. Alvin Love Lilydale First Baptist Church in Chicago. “He is not afraid to make radical change. I stand with Chris Kennedy because I trust his character.”
During the endorsement Kennedy reinforced his commitment to justice.
“We believe in the separation of church and state,” Kennedy said. “But what we don’t believe in is the separation of morality and politics. What we don’t believe in is the separation of ethics and government.”
* Meanwhile, put another zero behind that and we’re talking…
Democratic Gov. candidate Chris Kennedy receives $245k in contributions, including $100k from nephew Joe Kennedy's Congressional campaign committee #twill#ilgovhttps://t.co/urDwuHjzkg
To me, uh, the discussion should be about why do we have a generation of kids who are, you know, is it a, is it, is it the family, is it the decline in, in, in the family unit, do we have broken homes that these kids are coming from?
[Raising his voice] Why do we have a government bureaucracy of social workers that aren’t doing their jobs?
In fiscal year 2016, more than 20,000 Illinois youth — many of them elementary and high school students — were treated by a mental health agency, according to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The agency reported that children from birth through age 17 made up 28 percent of the 72,826 people statewide who received treatment in the last fiscal year at a mental health agency.
Due to their overwhelming caseloads, school social workers, in some cases, will not see a student unless the individual is suicidal or an immediate danger to others. Students with mental issues deemed non-life-threatening are often given an appointment weeks away.
“If I could clone myself to make five more of me, I think I could be adequately handling my caseload,” said Katie Smiley, a social worker at Larkin High School in Elgin. “The burden becomes heavier and heavier every day. We need more support. We need help.” […]
Susan Hickey, a retired Chicago Public Schools social worker, noted before a hearing of the Mental Health Committee Oct. 2 that CPS has one social worker for every 1,250 students, [one fifth] the recommended ratio put forth by the School Social Work Association of America [of one per 250].
“I still hear from social workers at CPS and they are literally crying their eyes out,” Hickey said. “They can’t handle what they have to deal with.”
Hickey noted that there are more security officers in the Chicago Public Schools than social workers and counselors combined.
“Security officers are not able to handle kids in crisis situations,” Hickey said. “That is not their training.”
…Adding… I forgot to mention that the new school funding reform law sets some targets to get to that 1:250 ratio.
* Interviews during an investigation do not equal guilt, but this is an interesting point…
Why has @GovRauner been so silent on criticizing Speaker Madigan after Madigan had to dismiss 2 of inner circle for #sexharassment? Sources say EIOG Maggie Hickey has interviewed women about former Rauner General Counsel Dennis Murashko's behavior, will public see final report?
TUES, 7:30PM: Legislators and members of newly formed Campaign Workers Guild meet to discuss protecting political staff from abuse and harassment
WHO: State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), State Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago), State Rep. Theresa Mah (D-Chicago) State Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago), other legislators, and the Campaign Workers Guild, a newly formed union representing political campaign workers
WHAT: Four Democratic Chicago State Representatives — Cassidy, Guzzardi, Mah and Mitchell will meet with the Campaign Workers guild on Tuesday to seek guidance to begin to address concerns arising from recent allegations about sexual harassment in the Democratic Party of Illinois. The meeting from 5:30-7:30 will be closed to the press but the legislators as well as a representative from the Campaign Workers Guild will be available for comment immediately after the meeting.
WHERE: Red Roof Inn (formerly State House Inn), 101 E Adams, Springfield, IL, in the Gallery Room
* Democratic candidate invokes a movement against sexual harassment called “Time’s up!” in a campaign press release about petitions…
An expedited decision will be made today by Judge Robert Bertucci in the Circuit Court of Cook County—Room #1704 to determine if Andrea Raila, Candidate for Cook County Assessor will remain on the ballot.
Andrea Raila has been submitted to an unprecedented 73 days of a grueling and often dehumanizing petition challenge process and over $300K in an unchecked mix of taxpayer and private money thrown in every direction to keep her name off the ballot.
The war waged against Andrea Raila is led by self styled progressive Frederick “Fritz” Kaegi. As a result, Kaegi has allowed thousands of taxpayer’s dollars to be spent to fight his war to remove a qualified woman with more than 37 years of experience in property tax assessments and appeals from the ballot.
An examination of Kaegi’s unchallenged petitions reveals identical technical irregularities that he accuses Raila of with the slanderous term “pattern of fraud.” In addition, petitions have surfaced belonging to the Kaegi camp that were circulated and notarized before the legally allowed date for petitions to be circulated along with affidavits from the circulators.
Up to now, the Kaegi camp has gone virtually unchallenged. Raila declares, “If Kaegi wants this office, he will have fight for it tooth and nail and come clean with the voters of Cook County. Time’s up! We are not going to sit idly by while he makes arrogant decisions for the voters of Cook County. Our voices will be heard and our supporters will see their democratic right to vote for me realized.”
…Adding… From Kaegi campaign manager Rebecca Reynolds…
“All the feigned outrage in the world doesn’t change the fact that Andrea Raila personally engaged in an unprecedented level of fraud. The voters see right through this political charade.”
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on Monday disputed Sheriff Tom Dart’s recent assertion that public safety could be compromised because hundreds more gun suspects have been released from custody on electronic monitoring since bond overhaul measures took effect last fall. […]
“The types of cases addressed by Sheriff Dart (in his letter) are gun cases — but they are gun cases in which nobody was shot or killed,” [Pat Milhizer, a spokesman for Chief Judge Timothy Evans] said. “That means the charge is not an inherently violent charge,” he said. […]
In a letter to Cook County authorities last week, Dart expressed concern that bond changes had led to a dramatic increase in the number of gun offenders released from Cook County Jail on electronic monitors. In response, he said, his office has begun to make changes: shifting staff, conducting a more thorough vetting process and, if necessary, declaring detainees too risky for the anklets altogether.
But Preckwinkle’s letter, citing Dart’s own data, pointed out that out of 195 alleged gun offenders released pretrial since bond changes took effect, just five had picked up a new gun charge as of Feb. 1. And felony gun charges have remained constant, Preckwinkle said, indicating that no increased safety threat can be attributed to bond decisions about gun offenses.
Look, most everybody wants bond reform to work. But the reform was specifically designed for non-violent accused offenders, not alleged gun-carrying felons. Dart’s spokesperson says it’s way too early to make a judgement on recidivism of those offenders. If she’s right, there’s gonna be heck to pay.
Before 9/18/17, D-Bonds [defendant has to post 10 percent] for felony gun charges were administered at a higher rate with higher bond amounts than after 9/18/17. Before 9/18/17, No Bonds, IEM [no cash, but electronic monitoring], and I-Bonds [released on own recognizance] were rarely administered for felony gun charges. After 9/18/17, the use of No Bonds, IEM, and I-Bonds increased dramatically.
And that’s not all. According to the sheriff, the median D-Bond before the change was $75,000. After the change, the median D-Bond dropped to just $10,000.
Sheriff Dart also says he simply doesn’t have the resources to electronically monitor all these alleged gun felons because they require so much extra attention.
…Adding… OneMan is exactly right…
Also concerned that it will have a negative impact on the bond changes overall. If there is an issue with someone, it will be used as a reason to push back on all the changes.
The changes Dart trumpeted made sure that accused non-violent offenders aren’t in jail just because they couldn’t afford to post bond. The pendulum has swung too far and could swing back if something bad happens.
A lawsuit brought by a former primary challenger to Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan can continue after [federal Judge Matthew F. Kennelly] ruled Wednesday he’d previously overlooked allegations that Madigan used his authority and influence to damage and discredit his opponent.
Jason Gonzales alleges that the veteran South Side lawmaker put up “two sham candidates with Hispanic last names to split up the Hispanic vote” in order to defeat him in the March 2016 primary, according to the ruling. […]
The decision also indicates an interest in digging into the time-honored tradition of placing sham candidates on a ballot. […]
Citing precedent set in a 1973 case involving a Democratic primary for a state Senate seat, Kennelly notes that, “Gonzales alleges that defendants registered these sham candidates to split up the Hispanic vote and prevent the election of a Hispanic representative. This is sufficient to allege purposeful discrimination.”
Because of that ruling, I don’t know of any other alleged Chicago-area put-up candidates this year, except in Rep. Rita’s race.
A Democratic challenger in the race for the 28th House District — one of the most expensive in Illinois this primary season — is accusing incumbent state Rep. Robert “Bob” Rita of benefiting from election shenanigans straight out of House Speaker Michael Madigan’s playbook.
Mary Carvlin, a Spanish teacher from Blue Island, Illinois, says the race’s third contestant Kimberly Koschnitzky is a “ghost candidate” put on the ballot by Speaker Madigan’s political organization solely to draw votes away from her campaign. Having a second challenger could split the vote between the two women and help Rita by default. […]
After Carvlin accused the Speaker of supporting the race’s third candidate earlier this year, NBC 5 Investigates has confirmed several volunteers and donors from the 13th Ward Democratic Organization — Madigan’s political operation — helped Koschnitzky gather petition signatures to get her onto the ballot.
The Illinois State Board of Elections documents reveal at least six of Koschnitzky’s petition circulators — William Nambo, Ronald Crane, Steven Hensley, Frank Varnagis, Steven Szalko Jr. and John Grzymski — have been affiliated with Madigan’s political operation. In addition, State Board of Elections campaign contribution reports show each of them has donated to the 13th Ward Democratic Organization between $200 and $2,900.
Nambo and Crane were confirmed by multiple sources in and outside of Madigan’s political organization as having been precinct captains for the 13th Ward in the past.
Mary Carvlin reported having just $550 in the bank at the end of December and has reported nothing since then. The alleged ghost Koschnitzky has not filed any paperwork with the Board of Elections as of this writing.
The best candidate in the race is party apostate Drury, who has committed the unpardonable sin of breaking politically and publicly with Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Other candidates may pay lip service to politics-as-usual. But Drury is the only one who, in both word and deed, made it clear that he is a new type of Democrat trying to build a new type of Democratic Party in Illinois.
As a former federal prosecutor, Drury is clearly suited to hold the position he seeks. As a sincere reformer, the liberal Drury represents a beacon of hope for Democrats, as well as independents and Republicans who are as sick of Illinois’ corrupt and dysfunctional state government.
Being an ambitious Democrat in Illinois requires fealty to Michael Madigan in one way or another. All he asks is loyalty to doing things his way when he wants things to go his way. The cost to Illinois of his long, blinkered leadership has been high. […]
Michael Madigan & Co. are working hard to ensure Drury’s defeat in the primary election. They did their best to knock him off the ballot altogether through a frivolous objection. But Drury is on the ballot, and Democrats won’t go wrong in supporting him.
Illinois must change to survive. Business-as-usual is killing this state, and Drury is anything but business-as-usual.
The State Board of Elections says about 30 voting districts were not ready to sign off on all of the candidates when early voting started. Some were still dealing with ballot challenges, which meant they could have been pulled from the race at any time.
Early voting was supposed to begin nearly two weeks ago. The last real roadblock was a case against Democratic attorney general candidate Scott Drury, which was resolved last week.
* Drury, by the way, got name-checked by Republican Illinois House candidate Mike Babcock…
“Political operative Kevin Quinn’s treatment of women is disgusting and the warning signs about his behavior were everywhere,” Babcock said in the statement. “Speaker Madigan is out of touch and turned a blind eye. He should immediately resign as Speaker of the House and as head of the Illinois Democratic Party.”
Babcock also challenged Rep. Monica Bristow, his Democratic opponent in the November election, to call for Madigan’s resignation as well.
“Will she stand up for the victims of domestic violence and sexual harassment, or continue bowing to the pressure of Madigan and look the other way?” Babcock said. “I pledge to not vote for him as speaker if elected, and challenge Bristow to publicly commit to do the same.
“Democrat State Representative, Scott Drury, has demanded Madigan resign. Yet, Representative Bristow remains silent,” said Babcock. “Monica’s silence speaks volumes.”
If a child disappears, an Amber Alert is issued. It’s a Silver Alert if the person is elderly. But, what about those who are disabled?
Right now, there’s no alert system to find those with intellectual disabilities, but that could soon change thanks to some work at the Capitol. Lawmakers are filing legislation hoping to give many families peace of mind.
Greg O’Connor is the director of Sparcs. The nonprofit helps those with disabilities lead productive lives. He says he doesn’t think it’s extremely common, but admits these people are extremely vulnerable and it could be a major help if they get lost.
The bill would change the Missing Persons Act and include those living with developmental and intellectual disabilities under the high-risk label. That way, caretakers and loved ones can request an alert to help locate them.
Following the brutal beating and eventual death of a Department of Children and Family Services caseworker who was trying to take a child into protective custody, efforts are in motion to protect child welfare workers going out on potentially dangerous visits.
The measures are happening at both the agency rulemaking level, as well as in the state Legislature, where a pair of bills have been proposed to help thwart future attacks.
DCFS caseworker Pamela Knight was at the Carroll County home of Andrew Sucher’s parents on Sept. 29 when Sucher allegedly kicked her in the head with such force that she suffered a fractured skull. Knight, 59, died Feb. 8. Sucher, 25, was indicted last week on first-degree murder charges.
The attack, along with a November report in The Chicago Tribune that found more than a dozen attacks against DCFS workers since 2013, have officials pursuing changes.
Senate Bill 2272, introduced by state Sen. Tim Bivins, R-Dixon, and co-sponsored by Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, would give DCFS case workers the same protected status as police officers and firefighters harmed while performing official duties.
Some Illinois lawmakers want to allow residents to bypass federal caps to state and local tax deductions by creating a program that could turn people away from the new private school scholarship plan.
Initially, lawmakers wanted to create the “Illinois Excellence Fund,” a public charity that would allow a 100 percent state tax rebate and a deduction on federal taxes. This would, in theory, subvert the $10,000 cap on the SALT deduction in the federal tax overhaul, according to a University of Chicago professor.
State Rep. Jonathan Carroll amended the plan to call it the Illinois Education Excellence Fund. It would send money to local public schools for a 100 percent deduction on state taxes, more than the 75 percent deduction from the Invest in Kids program that helps students go to private schools. The Invest in Kids program was created last year as part of a partisan compromise that that also sent hundreds of millions of more state tax dollars to Chicago Public Schools.
Carroll said the change was made to be “more specific.” The program could take donors – and dollars – from the Invest in Kids program because it would create a 25 percent more lucrative incentive for Illinois residents looking for state tax credits.
* A press release from Rep. Jeanne Ives points out that former Madigan aide Kevin Quinn, the younger brother of Madigan’s alderman, spent years moving back and forth between state and campaign work…
In round numbers, alleged sexual predator Kevin Quinn is in line for a $750,000 payout from Illinois families.
Here’s how the scam works. Political bosses like Madigan put political operatives on the state payroll in dubious jobs to accrue benefits. They roll on and off the state payroll based on their political campaign assignments throughout an election cycle. […]
Over 17 years, Kevin Quinn went on and off state payroll over and over again. He spent half the year– ostensibly– working for the state, and the other half working for Madigan’s campaigns.
What exactly did Kevin Quinn do while working for the state?
In what kind of employment situation and for what kind of work can someone work half the year?
What kind of employer can maintain an employee who consistently works 50 percent of the time over 17 years?
No employer other than the State of Illinois.
* And then after a bit she goes off on her own House Republican Leader…
How about Rauner toady Jim Durkin? The House GOP Leader is another who likes to decry Madigan while behaving like him.
Denise Rotheimer has called out Durkin for being unresponsive to her call for help in her case of sexual harassment against State Sen. Ira Silverstein.
And the Daily Herald has been covering the hiring of Durkin’s sister-in-law Laura for an $80,000 job in the engineering department at the Illinois Tollway, a traditional patronage dumping ground. Durkin’s sister-in-law last worked in 2001 selling office furniture.
This bipartisan scamming of Illinois taxpayers has to end. And it will if I’m governor.
After two years of an extensive privately-funded renovation, the Illinois Governor’s Mansion will reopen to the public on July 14, 2018, Illinois’ First Lady Diana Rauner announced today at the annual Illinois Governor’s Conference on Travel & Tourism.
“Bruce and I made a promise to the people of Illinois to renovate the Governor’s Mansion to restore the pride in this historic building,” said First Lady Diana Rauner, chair of the Illinois Governor’s Mansion Association. “With an all new visitor experience, expanded accessibility, and updated programming, we know the Governor’s Mansion will be a must-see destination for tourists and Illinois residents to visit again and again.”
The renovation, funded entirely with private dollars, makes the Mansion a usable residence for Illinois Governors. When it reopens this summer, the Mansion will also offer visitors a completely reimagined experience. It has a new look that is both stately and richly inviting in keeping with the Midwest hospitality of Illinois people.
The Mansion’s new mission is focused on history education and appreciation and that is reflected in the newly renovated space. Visitors will be able to gather and learn from period art and exhibits featuring the 1893 Columbian Exposition. There is space to showcase Illinois fine and decorative arts. There a visitor’s center and trained docents will lead tours 7 days a week. For the first time, the Mansion is ADA accessible.
“Our work to renovate the mansion focuses on so much more than just an updated façade and interior design,” said John Bryan, Illinois Governor’s Mansion Association board member. “I am very pleased to be part of a project that highlights the rich history of Illinois and brings art by local artists to the forefront of our state’s capitol.”
The Illinois Governor’s Mansion Association received a grant from the Terra Foundation of American Art to support the inaugural art exhibit, ‘Art in Illinois.’ The exhibition brings together fine and decorative art from Illinois artists and features 102 works from mid-nineteenth century to present day. Twenty of the pieces have never been seen before and are on loan from private collections. ‘Art in Illinois’ will run through January 2019.
A new report shows that Illinois’ education funding system provides 78 cents to a low-income student for every dollar spent on a non-low-income student and remains the most regressive system in the nation. Funding Gaps 2018, released today by The Education Trust, is an update to a report that was widely circulated by Advance Illinois and other partners as part of the effort to fix Illinois’ school funding formula. The previous Funding Gaps report showed that Illinois spent 81 cents on a low-income student for every dollar spent on a non-low-income student.
“The Education Trust data has been instrumental in drawing attention to the inequity of Illinois’ funding system and galvanizing action toward a solution,” said Ginger Ostro, Executive Director of Advance Illinois. “Today’s report underscores why the school funding formula needed to be fixed.”
The report also features Advance Illinois and its campaign toward school funding reform, noting that the new formula went into effect for the 2017-2018 school year, after the education funding data reflected in this year’s analysis were collected. Data in the analysis is from 2013-2015.
“It will be a number of years before these reforms are evident in the school district financial data used in these analyses,” the report states. […]
In Illinois, the highest poverty districts receive 22 cents less in state and local funds per student than the highest poverty districts.
According to the Illinois section of the report, the highest poverty districts receive $3,380, or 22 percent less per student than the lowest poverty districts. When the numbers are “adjusted for additional needs of low-income students,” the highest poverty districts receive $4,281, or 29 percent less per student than the lowest poverty districts.
That funding reform bill couldn’t have come too soon.
Sneed has learned State Rep. Dan Burke will pay homage to the memory of slain CPD Commander Paul Bauer Tuesday by introducing a major piece of gun legislation named after him.
The Commander Paul Bauer Act, originally introduced in 2017 as House Bill 1469 — a piece of legislation with no substantive language — will include Burke’s amendment banning the sale of body armor and high capacity gun magazines to anyone other than police officers, licensed security guards and members of the armed forces.
Sneed is also told the Bauer Act will have behind it the full weight of powerful House Speaker Mike Madigan. […]
Ald. Ed Burke, the state lawmaker’s brother, said the bill “would be the first time that the legislature in Illinois been able to resist the forces of the NRA opposing any kind of reasonable gun control legislation.”
Unlawful use of body armor. A person commits the offense of unlawful use of body armor when he knowingly wears body armor and is in possession of a dangerous weapon, other than a firearm, in the commission or attempted commission of any offense.
Declaring that America is in the midst of a gun violence crisis, Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday urged state lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner to approve a series of gun control bills and called on the public to hold officials’ feet to the fire this week and in the upcoming elections.
Lawmakers could consider a group of bills on Wednesday that would require gun dealers to be licensed, raise penalties for the illegal use of body armor, address waiting periods for gun purchases, and ban “military-style” assault weapons high-capacity magazines and “bump stocks,” Emanuel and Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said.
Johnson said he will travel to Springfield on Tuesday to testify in favor of the efforts, and Emanuel said he would be working the phones. The mayor on Monday repeatedly called on the public to get engaged in the maneuvering in Springfield and contended that a vote against the gun control bills was a vote against police officers.
“Watch this vote, and if the legislators do not back up the public safety, do not back up the police officers — in the primary and in this general election, you must hold them accountable,” Emanuel said, pounding a podium as he addressed Chicago’s latest class of police recruits. “Trust me, if they think they can get away without having any political pressure, they’re going to do the bare minimum rather than what is the appropriate thing. This is not about their political safety, this is about our public safety. And don’t let them get away with doing the bare minimum to take the issue off the table.”
But the bill that bears Bauer’s name is just one piece of a broad gun control bill that will go before state legislators this week.
“The Gun Dealer licensing Bill, which will allow us to encourage better business practices among gun dealers as well as holding corrupt dealers accountable. It will also require background checks for dealers and their employees, training to prevent straw purchasing, and enforce proper dealer security measures,” Emanuel said.
As the national conversation about gun control has taken on a renewed urgency over the past few weeks, advocates are now hoping their proposal will get a better chance at becoming law.
“We’re seeing more energy from young people than we’ve ever seen before, saying enough is enough,” said Colleen Daly of the Illinois Council on Handgun Violence.
The bill also includes a waiting period for buying assault weapons, and a ban on bump stocks.
* Speaking of guns, Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios has a TV ad bashing his Democratic primary opponent Fritz Kaegi on the issue.
“To stop the NRA, follow the money,” the ad begins, claiming that Kaegi “invested heavily in this NRA donor’s company.” Kaegi “got rich and the NRA got millions to spend blocking gun control.”