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Agencies a no-show for Senate hearing on Quincy veterans’ home

Tuesday, Feb 20, 2018

* AP

The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee plans a hearing Tuesday on a 2016 engineers’ report that estimated an $8 million cost to replace plumbing at a veterans’ home stung by Legionnaires’ disease.

The Associated Press reported last week that the estimate is far below the $25 million to $30 million cost Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration had cited to lawmakers. Experts have said since the first outbreak at the Quincy home in 2015 that antiquated plumbing could house Legionella bacteria responsible for the deadly pneumonia-like malady.

Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Erica Jeffries initially told WBEZ Chicago that new plumbing could cost more than $500 million.

Not $500 million, not $25-30 million, but $8 million.

Also, the Senate has been trying to get that 2016 report for a while, but the AP finally obtained it late last week.

* The hearing didn’t accomplish much because nobody showed up to testify…

* There was a lot of Democratic venting, though…

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Michelle Flaherty - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 1:50 pm:

    That’s convenient.
    Deliver info at 5 p.m. on Friday in advance of three-day weekend.
    Then cite short notice for being unable to attend hearing on said info, which they’ve had since 2016.

  2. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 1:54 pm:

    –Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Erica Jeffries initially told WBEZ Chicago that new plumbing could cost more than $500 million.–

    For the life of me, I don’t understand how anyone could have ever thought that was a reasonable statement.

    I question the judgment of anyone who could make it.

    You can make a real big, shiny new building for a lot less than $500 million.

  3. - Mama - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 1:54 pm:

    “Veterans Affairs Committee about to adjourn after @GovRauner’s agency department heads didn’t show up to answer questions about Quincy vets home.”

    This can only mean that Rauner put a brick on fixing the problem in Quincy. Otherwise, his VA peeps would have been there.

  4. - Henry Francis - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 1:54 pm:

    Where’s Goldberg and his wails of Sham Hearing?

  5. - Norseman - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 1:54 pm:

    === … new plumbing could cost more than $500 million … ===

    The Vets would admire the Trumpian gold plumbing fixtures Jeffries must be envisioning, but I’m sure they’d be OK with plumbing that would not lead to diseases that kill them.

    C’mon man, that estimate sounds like an entirely new facility.

    P.S. Who’s surprised by the Rauner cover-up.

  6. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 2:01 pm:

    $500 million? You could build some nice buildings for that amount of money.

    It doesn’t help your credibility when you state a number that’s more than 60 times higher.

  7. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 2:02 pm:

    Between Rauner outright refusing to fund his state agencies for a whole fiscal year with his signature and Rauner also claiming he’s not in charge, getting agency heads to show up might be difficult.

    Who do they report to, since Rauner isn’t in charge?

    This is all snark, of course.

    Governors own. They always do.

  8. - Anon221 - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 2:05 pm:

    Shah and Jeffries couldn’t find anyone to attend in their stead??? Were they all at a secret retreat tackling this issue??? The heat is just gonna be all that much hotter at the next hearing.

  9. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 2:07 pm:

    Usually these sorts of public projects start with an $8 million projected budget estimate but balloon to $25 million, then $30 million, before finally topping out at $500 million once all the bills are paid.

  10. - Iggy - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 2:07 pm:

    =Where’s Goldberg and his wails of Sham Hearing=

    huh? You realize he doesn’t work in the admin anymore right? are you genuinely this behind or is this your attempt at humor?

  11. - Cubs in '16 - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 2:15 pm:

    I realize this is a Congressional hearing and not criminal proceedings but does the Legislature have any ‘muscle’ to make the agency’s appear or recourse if they don’t?

  12. - Short notice - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 2:15 pm:

    Isn’t IDPH just a couple blocks from the capitol? As a result of this November 2014 Rauner statement, Shah and Jefferies should be working in Springfield, right?

    “Illinois’ next governor says he will lead a procession of state government workers back to the capital city once he takes office in January.”

  13. - Cubs in '16 - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 2:16 pm:


  14. - Osborne Smith III - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 2:20 pm:

    =Where’s Goldberg and his wails of Sham Hearing=

    =huh? You realize he doesn’t work in the admin anymore right? are you genuinely this behind or is this your attempt at humor? =

    Iggy, are you genuinely not able to pick up the sarcasm in the original comment? LOL

  15. - Retired Educator - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 2:22 pm:

    Having paid attention to the news, and politics here on Capitol Fax, I knew there was going to be a meeting last week. You would think some of these people would pay a little attention to what is going on. Their false outrage is only a ploy to put the blame on someone else, and Stall, Stall, Stall.

  16. - allknowingmasterofracoondom - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 2:28 pm:

    Can this Rauner admin team possibly screw things up any more?

  17. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 2:30 pm:

    –Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Erica Jeffries initially told WBEZ Chicago that new plumbing could cost more than $500 million.–

    How is that a reasonable statement? I question the judgment of anyone who would make it.

    You can build a bright, new, shiny home for a fraction of $500 million.

  18. - Precinct Captain - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 2:33 pm:

    So on top of the actual $8 million cost, we’ve got a $492 million Rauner Incompetence and Corruption Tax.

  19. - Real - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 2:34 pm:

    Why do they need such long of an advance notice unless it’s just time to make up a story that everyone can agree on?

  20. - illini - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 2:39 pm:

    It appears to be fairly obvious once again that the Superstars and the BTIA(tm) are having problems with their messaging.

    We the taxpayers, the Veterans and their families deserve far better than these mixed messages.

  21. - Norseman - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 2:40 pm:

    FYI Cubswin

    Illinois Constitution, Article 4, Section 7.

    … (c) Either house or any committee thereof as provided by law may compel by subpoena the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of books, records and papers.

    A 1974 Illinois Appellate Court decision held that despite this subsection, a legislative committee or subcommittee does not have authority to subpoena witnesses without a specific delegation of authority from its house. (1970 Illinois Constitution Annotated for Legislators (2/05)

  22. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 2:46 pm:

    How do they screw this up this badly? How do you make one of the hottest problems even hotter in an election year? Did BTIA make a comeback?

  23. - A guy - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 2:48 pm:

    OMG, $500 Million? You could install plumbing in a small town for that amount. Whoa.

  24. - Cubs in '16 - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 2:53 pm:

    Thanks Norseman. I wonder if the “delegation of authority” would come from the house leader or by a vote of its members…

  25. - Skeptic - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 2:57 pm:

    “Can this Rauner admin team possibly screw things up any more?”

  26. - PublicServant - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 3:01 pm:

    ===You could install plumbing in a small town for that amount. ===

    Like Flint?

  27. - RNUG - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 3:09 pm:

    == we’ve got a $492 million Rauner Incompetence and Corruption Tax. ==

    Actually, it’s the Pinstripe Patronage Fee.

  28. - Give Me A Break - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 3:13 pm:

    Speaking as a former legislative liaison, you don’t ever, ever under no circumstances blow off a committee hearing when they summon you.

    I’m thinking Veteran’s Affairs liaison should not be worrying about moving that agency’s legislative agenda anytime soon this session.

  29. - Power House Prowler - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 3:55 pm:

    I dont think 8 million is enough to completely replumb the veterans home. Unless they are just doing the living areas?

  30. - Michelle Flaherty - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 5:06 pm:

    Power house Prowler: $8 million was 2016 estimate for replacing plumbing in all the buildings that house people considered to be at-risk of infection.

  31. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 5:09 pm:

    The fact that numerous Rauner officials apparently believed that $500 million figure to be credible leads me to believe the administration is bereft of common sense. Pathetic.

  32. - FormerParatrooper - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 5:31 pm:

    Hey Republicans, veterans are generally a large part of your base, but we see what you did and that is why many of us have left your sinking ship. You left us to drown, and you are hurting our fathers in Quincy, we will remember this when at the ballot box.

  33. - Whatever - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 5:40 pm:

    AA, now you know why the Governor believes cutting $500 million from the budget by special agreement is a valid line item. It’s just pocket change to them. After all, how many bottles of wine from the Governor’s wine club can you get for that amount?

  34. - cdog - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 5:41 pm:

    That $500m quote should be embarrassing enough for someone to be forced to address it.

    If that pack of whatevs ever show at a hearing, I hope someone has that question ready to go.

    Do you think that government projects ever cost several times more than they should?
    I sure hope not, that would be too disappointing.

  35. - My New Handle - Tuesday, Feb 20, 18 @ 7:25 pm:

    Remarkably, we buy into that $1/2 billion figure. Rauner said it. Who can legitimately dispute it? We are all a Lucky Pierre.

  36. - Anon - Wednesday, Feb 21, 18 @ 7:14 am:

    500 million…

    That’s one of the most incompetent estimates I think I’ve ever seen in my life.

  37. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 21, 18 @ 7:54 am:

    –That’s one of the most incompetent estimates I think I’ve ever seen in my life.–

    A few weeks ago, the new Medicaid contracts went from a $40B estimate to $63B a week later when they were actually signed.

    Being off by $23B over the course of a week has to be in the running.

  38. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 21, 18 @ 8:57 am:

    Read John O’Connors AP story and you’ll know why the Rauner administration didn’t show at the hearings. They’ve engaged in gross lying about the plumbing replacement cost for a year and a half and have been trying to cover it up.

    From the story:

    August 2016 — A report commissioned by the Rauner administration estimates the plumbing replacement cost at $8 million.

    December 2017 — Jefferies tells WBEZ that the cost estimate is $500 million (what an insane lie).

    January 2018 — Jefferies says the cost is now $25 -$30 million (much more reasonable lying).

    Last Week — O’Connor gets his hands on the report (which has been denied to lawmakers). It shows the actual $8 million estimate, made in August 2016.

    There’s a lot going on in state politics right now, but this has to be at the front burner because lives are at stake. The Rauner team has been lying and stonewalling out their tukkus on this issue, and vets remain at risk — of dying.

    What’s even more galling is that for $8 million, the plumbing could have been replaced in the fall of 2016.

    Instead, lying and stonewalling for more than a year-and-a-half, and risking other peoples’ lives.

    Is there not some federal money in play here? Can the federales step in? The current state executive has demonstrated he cannot be trusted to do his job.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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