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Reader comments closed for the holiday weekend and some late news updates

Friday, Feb 16, 2018

* Before we go, let’s get to a few news items. The “drip, drip, drip” continues for Speaker Madigan…

* But the House Speaker sent this letter to his members today…

Earlier this week you received a briefing about the situation involving a member of my political organization. The purpose of this letter is to advise you of the next steps.

Today each staff member of the Office of the Speaker, as well as my political committees, received the names of individuals they can contact to report any incidents or allegations or get additional information.

    * State Staff: Staff should contact Justin Cox or Margaret Livingston at xxxxxx. They
    will be available to provide confidential guidance and information or direct staff to an outside resource to address their specific situation. Staff may also contact Special Legislative Inspector General Julie Porter to report any incident or allegation.

    * Political Staff: Staff may contact Emily Wurth (xxxx), Michael Kasper (xxxx), or Heather Wier Vaught (xxxx). We have also retained an independent counsel who is available to receive and investigate harassment allegations. Kelly Smith-Haley of Fox Swibel Levin & Carroll, LLP will provide independent review of allegations, conduct investigations, and provide recommendations for updating policies and procedures, including clear rules for conduct and penalties for violations.

It is clear from the number and nature of the conversations taking place that we need to do better when it comes to the issue of equality in the workplace, and that we must work harder to provide a safe and constructive environment for every individual regardless of gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation. We must rethink the culture of politics if we are to move forward as an institution and as Democrats. In order to change this culture and ensure equality in the workplace, we must provide a positive work environment free from any type of harassment, including sexual harassment and bullying. I recognize this at starts at the top, which means it starts with me and with each of you.

We cannot tolerate harassment or abuse of any kind. Every member, employee, contractor, and intern is valued and necessary for the operation of the General Assembly, this caucus, and for the successful election of Democratic candidates in Illinois. No one should be made to feel otherwise. Everyone has a right to work without fear of harassment, abuse, or retaliation.

We haven’t done enough. I take responsibility for that. I would never condone, sweep under the rug or refuse to take any step to ensure we did not eradicate any behavior of this kind. I understand the “knock it off” mentality is not enough, and we must, and will, do better moving forward. I commit to do more, and I welcome any and all suggestions you may want to bring forward. Our culture must change and I want to work together to make the necessary changes. We must do better. We will do better.

Please reach out to me if you have any questions or need further information.

With kindest personal regards, I remain
Sincerely yours,

Speaker of the House

The “knock if off” stuff makes me think he read this morning’s Capitol Fax.

* And the drip, drip, drip continues for Gov. Rauner

Engineers told Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration 18 months ago that replacing problematic plumbing at a veterans’ home beset by Legionnaires’ disease would cost $8 million and “should be carefully considered,” according to a report obtained by The Associated Press.

That estimate is far below the estimate — up to $30 million — that Illinois Veterans’ Affairs Director Erica Jeffries has repeatedly told lawmakers it would cost to replace aged and corroded pipes at the Quincy veterans home. Legionnaires’ there has led to the deaths of 13 residents since 2015 and has sickened dozens more, including three new cases this week.

The Veterans’ Affairs Department took no action on the August 2016 report by Belleville-based BRiC Partnership. Then, on Jan. 8 — facing questions from lawmakers reviewing the administration’s response to the outbreak — the agency requested the plumbing replacement as an “emergency” project, according to emails the AP obtained with the report under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.

Sen. Tom Cullteron, chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said the report shows the administration “has been misleading us on facts and figures.”

* Pritzker campaign responds…

While the Rauner administration has said replacing the water system at the Quincy Veterans’ Home could cost up to $30 million, an August 2016 estimate revealed today shows the fix would actually cost $8 million.

This follows another new report today confirming that Air Force Veteran Ivan Jackson, who Rauner invited to his State of the State address, is one of the three Quincy residents that tested positive for Legionnaires. As this crisis continues to spiral, Rauner’s decision to delay replacement of the water system and lie about the cost becomes even more glaring.

“Bruce Rauner lied about the cost of a potentially lifesaving fix to the Quincy Legionnaires crisis and failed to take action to protect our nation’s heroes,” said Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh. “This is gross mismanagement and unacceptable dishonesty from a governor who continues to fail to take charge of this state.”

* I’ll talk to you Tuesday

They say every man must fall

- Posted by Rich Miller        

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