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Thanks, Mike Madigan!

Thursday, Feb 22, 2018

* One of the three gubernatorial “stars” of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s much-ballyhooed “Thanks, Mike Madigan” campaign ad got frogmarched today…

More info about the arrest is here.

* In other news, there’s an unusual disclosure at the tail end of a George Will column today which cheers on Illinois state employee Mark Janus’ fair share case against AFSCME

This columnist’s wife, Mari Will, is an adviser to Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, who originally filed the lawsuit that became Janus v. AFSCME.

Will has written several complimentary columns about Rauner, but that’s the first time I’ve ever seen such a disclosure.

The Rauner campaign confirmed today that she is advising the governor. I asked how long she’d been with the campaign, but haven’t heard back. Her website doesn’t have a client list and I searched expenditure reports on the Board of Elections site and neither she nor her consulting firm Maseng Communications turned up any hits. So, it looks like her hiring was fairly recent.

Ms. Will previously worked for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s presidential campaign. Gov. Walker was also in that Rauner TV ad.

The Greitens thing and the Will thing aren’t at all related, of course. But, hey, I did some work on that George Will column, then realized it wasn’t enough to post on its own and then Greitens was arrested, so presto. Instant blog post.

* But, then I figured I needed something from Indiana to make this post complete. Gov. Eric Holcomb was the third governor in that Rauner TV ad. The big news in Hoosier Land today is Gov. Holcomb’s pledge to sign a Sunday alcohol sales bill.

So, there you go.

I guess.

I need a nap.

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      

When even the dictionary dunks on you

Thursday, Feb 22, 2018

* This was a bit weird yesterday, but people were clapping, so whatevs…

* The Trib followed up

In an awkward onstage appearance this week, Gov. Bruce Rauner drank a glass of chocolate milk to demonstrate his belief in diversity.

“It’s really, really good,” Rauner said after taking a sip of the sugary drink. “Diversity!” […]

[Hyatt Hotels diversity and inclusion executive Tyronne Stoudemire] told Chicago Inc. he’s been using the chocolate milk stunt for 16 years as a simple way to illustrate the lack of diversity at the top of Fortune 500 companies. He typically picks on the most powerful person in the room to be his assistant, he said, adding that Rauner “didn’t know what he was getting into.”

He declined to comment on Rauner’s efforts to improve diversity in Illinois government, but said, “I give him credit for his willingness to step up and put himself out there … he could have said, ‘No.’ ”

Rauner’s spokeswoman Rachel Bold did not respond directly when asked whether Rauner was embarrassed by the stunt, but wrote in a statement, ”This was the event moderator’s example of diversity that an audience of all ages could see and understand. It was one of two demonstrations at the event, both of which received ovations from the crowd.”

Gotta be Pritzker’s fault since it was a Hyatt guy’s idea. Then again, by logical extension it would be… Madigan’s fault? We can only guess.

* Anyway, trolled the governor today…


- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      

Question of the day

Thursday, Feb 22, 2018

* On the left, Rep. Jeanne Ives, on the right, Rep. Kelly Cassidy…

Fox 32’s Mike Flannery has a new politics show called “Flannery Fired Up” and the two legislators are featured this week. Check your local listings.

* The Question: Caption?

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      

It’s all one, big thing

Thursday, Feb 22, 2018

* I went down a bit of a rabbit hole today after seeing a typo in one of Dan Proft’s papers

State Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) is portrayed as having “served up” her constituents in the 115th House District in a new Liberty Principles PAC ad on YouTube ridiculing her as a pawn of powerful House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago).

“You know Terri Bryant voted for Mike Madigan’s 32 percent income tax hike, but that’s only half the story,” a voice blares in the ad. Branding the tax hike the largest in state history, the video adds “after raising taxes, Bryant sent our money to bail out Chicago Public Schools’ pensions.”

So, you’ve got a Proft paper story that’s purely about a Proft PAC’s ad. How… 21st Century of them. Click here to watch the spot.

* Now, for the typo, scroll down to the end of the story

Bryant is being challenged in the March 20 Republican primary by Paul Jacobs of Pomona, who is running on a platform of proposed budget reforms and spending cuts.

Citing rising taxes as one of the primary reasons for the state’s spiraling out-migration problem, Griffith has also blasted Bryant over her support for the state’s newly enacted $36.1 billion spending plan.

Griffith? Who dat?

* For the answer, read this eerily similar story about an eerily similar Proft ad written by the same author for a different Proft paper

With just weeks remaining before the March 20 primaries, a new Liberty Principles PAC ad on YouTube blasts incumbent state Rep. Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) as doing a disservice to her 93rd House District constituents based on her constant support of powerful House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago).

“You know Norine Hammond voted for Mike Madigan’s 32 percent income tax hike, but that’s only half the story,” a voice blares in the ad. Branding the tax hike the largest in state history, the video adds “after raising taxes, Hammond sent our money to bail out Chicago Public Schools’ pensions.” […]

Hammond is being challenged in the Republican primary by U.S. Army veteran and Abingdon resident Joshua Griffith, who has repeatedly blasted her throughout his campaign over her support for the $36.1 billion budget plan enacted last year. [Emphasis added.]

So, the guy who wrote both of those stories must’ve been typing too fast and got his primary races a little mixed up. It happens, but it made me look around.

* If you click here, you’ll see the Hammond ad is almost identical to the Bryant ad. And Liberty Principles PAC produced two other nearly identical ads. One’s against Rep. Charlie Meier, the other against Rep. David Reis. One of Proft’s papers also has a story up about the Proft ad against Rep. Meier. Click here.

OK, so he does a lot of cookie-cutter stuff. No surprise.

The factory-like production standards did create somewhat of a problem because the ad claims the education funding reform bill was a “Chicago bailout” and notes that Reis voted for it. That’s true, but as Reis points out, his Proft-backed opponent is on record saying he would’ve voted for the bill as well. It’s not a real problem, though, because Proft’s ad is an independent expenditure. So, by law, he’s not supposed to coordinate with the candidate.

* But, wait, there’s more. Three of the four aforementioned Proft-backed candidates have nearly identical websites (Griffith, Moore and Jacobs).

And if you go to the “News” section of each of those sites, you’ll see that most of the posted stories are actually from… you guessed it: Proft’s papers.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      

It’s just a bill

Thursday, Feb 22, 2018

* Tribune

Illinois voters could get a say whether the state should legalize recreational marijuana if lawmakers decide to put the question on November ballots.

A state Senate committee advanced the idea on Wednesday, but a ballot question would be non-binding. That means it would work like a statewide public opinion poll and wouldn’t legalize marijuana even if a majority of voters approve. Lawmakers who want to legalize the drug could get a political boost, though, if voters favor it. […]

In voting against the ballot question, state Sen. Chris Nybo, R-Elmhurst, named property tax reductions, redistricting reform and term limits for party leaders as questions he’d rather see on the ballot.

“Of all of the issues that we as a state are facing and that we have the opportunity to present to our citizens in terms of an advisory referendum, I would frankly put this one very low down the list,” Nybo said.

* There was an objection to the question’s language, saying it should stop at “21 years of age” and not include the subsequent mention of tobacco and alcohol, but isn’t that important?

“Do you support the legalization of possession and use of marijuana by persons who are at least 21 years of age, subject to regulation and taxation that is similar to the regulation and taxation of tobacco and alcohol?”

* Tribune

Gun control advocates are renewing their push to require Illinois firearm stores to get state licenses, saying federal regulations do not go far enough to ensure sales are handled properly.

Legislation to license dealers cleared the state Senate last year, but stalled in the House amid fierce opposition from gun rights groups. They contend that licensing would drive up the price of purchasing a firearm by as much as $300.

Democrats in the Senate are hoping to calm those fears, advancing companion legislation on Wednesday to limit the cost of licensing fees to $1,000 for a five-year period.

* Press release…

State Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago) along with Attorney General Lisa Madigan and other allied organizations are pushing new legislation, the Illinois Generic Drug Pricing Fairness Act which would stop companies from making essential drug prices too high.

“News of Martin Shkreli’s Turing Pharmaceuticals buying a vital AIDS medication and raising the prices from $13.50 to $700 a tablet shocked the world,” said Rep. Guzzardi. “But the sad truth is, that kind of price gouging happens all the time. In fact, more than 400 generic drugs saw price increases of more than 1000 percent between 2008 and 2015. That’s unacceptable, and it’s time we make it illegal.”

The legislation gives the Illinois Attorney General’s office the power to put the brakes on price gouging of essential off-patent or generic drugs. Drug companies that increase prices sharply must show documentation that they are raising prices due to increased production costs. If they can’t do so, they will face civil penalties including restitution to customers and fines of up to $10,000 per violation.

Maryland passed a generic drug bill in 2017, and over half of state legislatures in the country introduced similar bills.

“Out-of-control drug prices have a profound impact on our budget, as the state spends billions each year on prescription drugs through the Medicaid program,” Guzzardi said. “This bill will curtail an egregious practice that’s exploiting the sick and the vulnerable for corporate profit, and bankrupting our state in the meantime.”

In many instances, generic drugs play an important role in keeping healthcare costs down. But a scathing, bipartisan US Senate report described the process by which some generic companies gain monopolies over essential drugs and raise the prices exorbitantly. The Generic Drug Pricing Fairness Act takes aim specifically at this behavior.

The bill, HB4900, has been assigned to the House Human Services Committee.

* Press release…

The Annie LeGere Law is another step closer to implementation as an amendment sponsored by State Senator Chris Nybo (R-Elmhurst) seeks to increase participation of medical professionals in the program that would place epinephrine auto-injectors (EpiPens) in the hands of law enforcement across the state. The amendment was approved unanimously by the State Senate on February 21.

“The EpiPen program is a vital public health measure that has a proven need, and can truly mean the difference between life and death in the case of a fatal allergic reaction,” said Nybo. “Elmhurst Police Department has already budgeted for the EpiPens and extensive device training—the only challenge presented is the hesitance from health professionals to provide the prescriptions and approve the training courses. After hearing their feedback, I believe Senate Bill 2226 will offer them the liability protection and coverage they need to join our initiative.”

The amendment specifies that any physician, physician’s assistant or advanced practice registered nurse with prescriptive authority who issues a prescription or standing order for epinephrine to an Illinois police department will not be subject to civil or professional liability for law enforcement’s misuse of the medication.

The Annie LeGere Law, effective as of January 2017, allows for Illinois police officers to carry and administer EpiPens on duty as an emergency measure to reverse life-threatening allergic reactions following proper training and procedural requirements. The legislation was inspired by Elmhurst’s own Annie LeGere, a 13-year-old who passed away from a fatal allergic reaction that could have been prevented by epinephrine.

“Pending the approval of the House of Representatives and the signature of the Governor, law enforcement officers could begin training on EpiPens and carrying them this year,” said Nybo. “We’ve suffered losses in past years from police departments being without these life-saving devices. Together with members of law enforcement, state and local government, the medical community and the public, let’s all take a step in the right direction—and as soon as possible.”

Senate Bill 2226 was approved by the State Senate, and now State Representative Deb Conroy (D-Villa Park) will sponsor it in the House of Representatives.

* Related…

* Chicago-area high school students chanting ’save our kids’ stage walkouts to demand action on gun violence

* Editorial: Stay angry, kids, and fight for saner gun laws

* Why Illinois needs to restore parole for juvenile lifers

* Coalition Announces New Push for Clean Energy in Illinois

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      

Stay classy, Daniel

Thursday, Feb 22, 2018

* So, you have a press conference in front of a rival’s house to announce an endorsement? Seriously?…

Dude, it’s a man’s house, where his children live.

This race is starting to get out of hand.

- Posted by Rich Miller   116 Comments      

*** UPDATED x10 - Breen responds to Minor - Minor responds - Harold speaks to Sun-Times - Raoul, Schneider, Ives, Rauner campaign, Durkin call on Minor to withdraw *** GOP township chairman alleged to have directed racist, homophobic remarks at black female GOP candidate

Thursday, Feb 22, 2018

* From an e-mail sent by Rep. Peter Breen…

Dear Fellow Republican,

As we read recent headlines about the kinds of inappropriate and disgusting behavior that have been tolerated for years by the Madigan/Democrat machine, I write you today about similar behavior by a current candidate running under our Republican Party label. In particular, I’m writing you because your name has been associated with that individual, potentially without your permission.

You may have heard over the past few months about a meeting in which an unnamed Republican township chairman directed offensive questions and comments to Erika Harold, a Harvard attorney and former Miss America, who is our party’s leading candidate for Attorney General. That chairman asked Ms. Harold personal questions about her marital status, and even her sexual orientation, going so far as to inquire whether she was a “lesbo.” The chairman also used the full n-word repeatedly in front of Ms. Harold and her assistant, asking whether she found its usage offensive.

After the initial reports, it was confirmed that the chairman in question is Burt Minor, of Winfield Township. Mr. Minor later filed petitions to become a candidate for State Representative in the 42nd District, the seat currently held by Representative Jeanne Ives.

At an in-person meeting that Mr. Minor requested with me, with a witness present, Mr. Minor confirmed that he had asked Ms. Harold if she was a lesbian and that he had used the full n-word in her and her assistant’s presence. He explained this away by claiming that Ms. Harold “wanted him to ask the question” about her sexual orientation and claiming that Ms. Harold asked him to say the full n-word. Suffice it to say, this is not how the other participants to the meeting heard or understood the statements, nor how they reported those statements to others both immediately after the meeting occurred and consistently in the months since.

While this conduct is not appropriate for anyone in our Party, it is especially outrageous for a declared Republican candidate for Illinois General Assembly.

The General Assembly’s unified endorsement of “#MeToo” and “#TimesUp” isn’t just lip service–it’s a recognition and demand that the culture of sexual harassment in Springfield is, and must be, finished for good. Additionally, revelations like the FBI wiretaps of conversations between Democrat gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker and disgraced former governor Rod Blagojevich demonstrate that we still have a long way to go in addressing race discrimination in Illinois politics.

Mr. Minor’s boorish behavior is beyond the pale on both fronts. I would respectfully contend to you that a person willing to engage in this sort of speech–the casual use of vile racial epithets–and line of inquiry–asking unmarried women highly personal questions about their sexual orientation–is not fit to serve in the House Republican Caucus. And I am certain that my fellow caucus members agree.

Since Mr. Minor’s actions came to light, many in our Party have urged Mr. Minor to withdraw his candidacy for state representative. However, he has continually refused to do so. And, just as with the white supremacist currently running as an alleged Republican in the 3rd Congressional District, we appear to have no means to have Mr. Minor thrown off the ballot.

The reason I bring these concerns specifically to your attention is that Mr. Minor has used your name as one of his alleged endorsers. And in numerous consultations with others whose names Mr. Minor listed in his fundraising solicitations and on his web site, I have learned that he fabricated a not insubstantial number of those endorsements, including alleged endorsements from my own colleagues in the Illinois General Assembly. Some of those individuals have since asked to be removed from his solicitations, his website, and any campaign literature.

If you fall into the category of those whose names are being used without their permission, then I would respectfully request that you contact Mr. Minor directly and instruct him not to use your name as an endorser. I know that some individuals in this category have not reached out to Mr. Minor as of yet, because they do not want to risk recrimination from him, but at this time and under these circumstances, I would urge that his unauthorized use of your name gives an impression of support for Mr. Minor that is undeserved and unwarranted.

If you did give Mr. Minor permission to use your name as an endorser on his solicitations, then I would respectfully request that you withdraw your endorsement, because he is not fit to serve as a Republican nominee for the General Assembly.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Very truly yours,

Peter Breen
House Republican Floor Leader
State Representative, 48th District

* Erika Harold’s campaign and Breen’s witness, Kevin Fitzpatrick, both confirmed the two conversations.

“She found [Minor’s comments] offensive when he said them and she told him at the time they were offensive,” said Ms. Harold’s spokesperson Jason Heffley.

Fitzpatrick said Minor explained to Breen during their meeting that Harold wanted to be asked about her sexual orientation because “she wanted to get it on the record” that she was straight.

Asked if Harold wanted Minor to ask the question about her sexual orientation, Heffley flat-out denied his candidate ever did such a thing.

During the follow-up meeting with Breen, Fitzpatrick said that Minor explained he used the n-word while “discussing a radio show” hosted by Joe Walsh. Heffley confirmed that Minor used the word several times in his meeting with Harold.

* I’ve asked Minor for comment. He is running against two other candidates for Rep. Ives’ seat.

*** UPDATE 1 *** React is coming in. From GOP Rep. Dave McSweeney…

Minor needs to drop out of the race now! I hope that Tim Schneider, Chairman of the Illinois Rauner Party, immediately seconds my call for Minor to exit the race.

* From GOP Rep. Mark Batinick…

A few weeks ago I became aware of very troubling statements made by township chairman Burt Minor who is a Republican State Representative candidate. I have since had those statements confirmed by multiple sources and have been working with party officials in an attempt to remove him from the race. It is my understanding that those attempts have been futile. This sort of conduct does not belong in our party and will not be tolerated. He needs to immediately withdraw.

*** UPDATE 2 *** House Republican Leader Jim Durkin…

Mr. Minor’s statements are offensive and beyond unacceptable. I call on him to withdraw from the race immediately.

*** UPDATE 3 *** From GOP Rep. Grant Wehrli…

Racism in any form cannot be tolerated anywhere. Burt Minor must withdrawal from this race immediately. After learning of his disturbing comments I can no longer support his candidacy

*** UPDATE 4 *** From Gov. Rauner’s campaign spokesperson Will Allison…

Erika Harold is a star attorney and candidate who is a bright part of the future of the Republican Party in Illinois. Burt Minor’s racist and demeaning language has no place in the GOP or our society. He should drop out of the race.

*** UPDATE 5 *** Gov. Rauner and Rep. Jeanne Ives agree on something…

Based on the letter from my colleague Rep. Peter Breen and the corroboration of the accusations against Burt Minor, I join my colleagues in calling for Mr. Minor to withdraw from the primary election to be the nominee for the seat I currently hold. Mr. Minor’s alleged comments are inexcusable, indefensible and disqualifying.

*** UPDATE 6 *** Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider…

I was appalled to learn today of Mr. Minor’s deeply offensive comments. His words do not represent the views of the Illinois Republican Party. Racial and gay slurs have no place in our political discourse and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Mr. Minor should withdraw from the race for State Representative in the 42nd House District and immediately issue an apology to Erika Harold and to all Illinoisans he offended by his disgusting choice of words.

*** UPDATE 7 *** The Sun-Times interviewed Erika Harold

“We had a meeting with [Winfield Township Republican Chairman] Burt Minor, and during the course of the conversation he asked me if I had children. I said no. He asked me if I was married. I said no. He then asked me if I had ever been married. I said no.”

Harold said Minor then asked her if she was a lesbian, using a slur.

Harold said she told him no.

“But then I also made it clear that someone’s sexual orientation should not be used to disqualify them for running for office,” Harold said.

Harold said Minor seemed “surprised” that she was standing up for herself.

Within the same conversation, Minor also asked Harold whether it was ever appropriate to use the n-word, “but he said the full word,” she said.

*** UPDATE 8 *** From Minor…

Candidate, 42nd House District

Last October, I met with Erika Harold in my capacity as Winfield Township Republican Chairman, at her request, to discuss the challenges she might face in her campaign for the Republican nomination for Attorney General. Our meeting has been greatly misrepresented.

Not all Republican voters are comfortable discussing issues of race and sexual orientation. I wish it were different, but it is a reality those of us active in the Republican Party’s leadership confront, not infrequently.

My discussion with Erika was an attempt to point out this unfortunate reality, it was in no way meant to be offensive. I honestly left our meeting unaware that our conversation might have made Erika uncomfortable. My apologies to Erika if she was in any way offended.

Erika is a great candidate who has a bright future in the Republican Party.
Throughout my 23 years in the military, I worked alongside people of all faiths, ethnicities and backgrounds. We worked together to get the job done, and that is the way it should be. Period.

Ironically, at the 2016 Illinois Republican State Convention I was vilified for defending fellow Republicans who were advocating for a more inclusive and tolerant Illinois Republican Party Platform.

I was also upset with Gubernatorial candidate Jeanne Ives recent television advertisement. Interestingly, many of the individuals criticizing me over this misunderstanding remain silent about that disgustingly provocative television ad. The hypocrisy is stunning.

Peter Breen and Kevin Fitzpatrick, who are attempting to capitalize on this misunderstanding for the benefit of one of my opponents, tried to bribe me months ago with the offer of a government job if I were to get out of this race. They told me that they wanted another candidate to win because Peter Breen would be able to control her. When I declined the offer, they said they would support my daughter if she were ever to run for higher office. This morning, when Peter sent his letter to the media he attempted to follow through on a promise to destroy my reputation.

I completely understand the fierce reaction this misunderstanding has generated, but I wish those who rushed to judgment would have gotten all the facts first. I intend to discuss those facts and the many issues of importance to the residents of Illinois’ 42nd District in the days leading up to Election Day. So there is no further misunderstanding, let me be clear, I believe there is no place for racism or intolerance in the Republican Party and the State of Illinois.

*** UPDATE 9 *** Sen. Kwame Raoul…

I applaud the Republican leaders and others who have joined together to speak out against this incident. No one who’s putting themselves forward as a candidate - in politics or in the workplace - should be subjected to what Erika faced. Unfortunately, this incident represents a broader reality of what individuals face everyday and we all need to join together to put an end to it.

*** UPDATE 10 *** Rep. Peter Breen…

Burt Minor’s statement makes clear that he doesn’t deny the allegations against him, nor does he see any problem in his repeated use of the full n-word in conversation or his questions to an unmarried woman about whether she is a “lesbo.” He now shifts the blame to the victims of his vile actions for being “uncomfortable,” with a half-hearted apology to Ms. Harold, “if she was in any way offended.” Burt Minor should take ownership of his outrageous and offensive statements, apologize for making them, and return to private life away from any public involvement with the Republican Party.

Burt Minor lied in his fundraising solicitations by claiming the endorsements of numerous elected officials who had never given him permission to use their name, including falsely claiming an endorsement from our Republican Leader Jim Durkin. His accusations today are more lies.

At no time was any government job offered to Mr. Minor by anyone, and certainly not by me or anyone on my volunteer team. As a state representative, I have the ability to appoint a single Legislative Aide—and I have one of the most qualified and experienced Legislative Aides in the state in that position today.

Even if I had control over 1,000 jobs, I wouldn’t willingly put a person like Burt Minor anywhere near my family, my volunteers, or any of the residents of my district. As for Mr. Minor’s daughter, I couldn’t pick her out of a lineup and have never made any statement about her, whether in regards to her apparent political ambitions or otherwise.

All of his other accusations are false, and in particular, Burt Minor now insults and slanders yet another strong female candidate—respected DuPage County Board Member Amy Grant—by claiming she would somehow be “controlled” instead of serve the people of the 42nd District. Folks in the district know Amy as an accomplished community leader, wife, and mother of two great kids. She doesn’t deserve Burt Minor’s insults.

Shame on Burt Minor. He is unfit to serve in any position of public trust.

- Posted by Rich Miller   70 Comments      

National “Our Revolution” endorses Biss

Thursday, Feb 22, 2018

* Bernie Sanders is having a Chicago rally this afternoon, so good timing for Biss, but notice there is no endorsement by Sanders himself. He’s said he’s not making a personal endorsement in this race. Press release…

Today, Daniel Biss announced the endorsement of Our Revolution, following the endorsement of the organization’s Illinois chapter in January.

“Our Revolution is proud to endorse Daniel Biss for governor of Illinois,” said Our Revolution President Nina Turner. “Daniel will be accountable to middle-class and working families, and to people who have been ignored and pushed aside for generations. He’s committed to co-governing and will put our shared progressive vision first in everything he does.

“FBI tapes released by the Chicago Tribune have told us all we need to know about JB’s character: he views representation as a PR stunt and will only give us a seat at the table when there’s a camera around. We deserve better—we deserve leaders who will include us at every level and tear down the broken systems that hold us back. That’s why we’re joining with Daniel in this race, and why we’re working all across the country to build a powerful, grassroots movement.”

“I’m honored to receive Our Revolution’s endorsement,” said Daniel Biss. “Our Revolution was founded to mobilize the nation around an ambitious, progressive agenda that transcends a single candidate or election cycle—and that’s just what we’re trying to do here in Illinois. As we organize around a bold vision for Medicare-for-all, living wages, free higher education, we’re transforming the Democratic Party from the ground up. I’m proud to partner with Our Revolution to build a state and a nation that put middle-class and working families first.”

In endorsing Daniel Biss, Our Revolution joins other progressive leaders and organizations including Sierra Club Illinois, National Nurses United, MoveOn, BlackRoots Resistance, Reclaim Chicago, U.S. Congresswoman Robin Kelly, former Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon, State Representatives Kelly Cassidy, Carol Ammons and Will Guzzardi, and many more.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      

“Wauconda forever!”

Thursday, Feb 22, 2018

* This is great story

On Tuesday, Wauconda village hall got its first phone call from somebody yelling “Wakanda Forever.”

It’s the thrilling battle cry from the smash hit movie “Black Panther,” which opened over the weekend.

“We had a guy call and [he] was shouting that. I was a little confused,” said Alise Homola, who works at the village hall in the far northwest suburb.

“He was joking around about it,’’ she said. “He just said that ‘I was searching the Wakanda from the movie, and your village came up, so I thought I’d call you and give you a hard time.’ ” […]

To be clear, Wauconda is not the futuristic vibranium-filled African utopia of “Black Panther.” It’s a town in Lake County with a landmark nature bog.

But that hasn’t stopped comic book geeks and fans from joking on social media that the smash hit film about Wakanda might make Wauconda seem cooler than it is.

* Not a bad idea…

Any suggestions for such a visitors’ center?

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      

Maybe he’s not so holy

Thursday, Feb 22, 2018

* Politico

In the last 30 days, Stephen Schuler became Biss’ second largest donor with a $250,000 donation in that period. Schuler is an interesting donor because his company Final Finish Inc. gave $5,000 to Gov. Bruce Rauner on Feb. 6 then gave $25,000 to Biss on Feb. 7. Schuler’s also donated to other Republicans, including the Republican National Committee, Mitt Romney and John McCain.

Given Biss’ positioning as the progressive in the race, we asked: what gives?

Here’s Biss campaign’s explanation, from spokesman Tom Elliott:

“There’s no conspiracy theory. Schuler personally gives to a lot of Dems. His company, Final Finish, is a medical marijuana group so it makes sense that they would give money to the Governor who controls the outcome of their industry in Illinois.”

I don’t really care too much about campaign contributions like that. And I checked around and was told the guy is not hatching some evil plan to back both Rauner and Biss. It was apparently a chance to have dinner with the governor and he took it. So I took a pass on the opportunity.

* But… did that really come out of the mouth of a Daniel Biss person? Hasn’t Biss said time after time that this is supposed to be “an election not an auction”? Yep.

And now his campaign is rationalizing a contribution as no big deal because it’s just Statehouse business as usual? Again, it is probably no big deal and I really hope that Schuler talked to Rauner about med-mar at the dinner because Rauner has been so darned awful on the issue. But this is the holier-than-absolutely-everyone progressive campaign we’re talking about here. SMH.


- Posted by Rich Miller   59 Comments      

Pritzker and Biss spar over pension issue again

Thursday, Feb 22, 2018

* SJ-R coverage of last night’s forum

Pritzker criticized Biss for voting for the 2013 pension reform legislation that was later declared unconstitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court, saying it contradicts his “middle class” governor narrative.

“Dan Biss introduced a bill that took pensions away from 450,000 workers across the state, including teachers and nurses. And I don’t think that’s good for the middle class,” Pritzker said. “It’s a contract we make with those folks, and it’s time we stand up to the plate and pay what’s owed to them.”

Biss said the vote was a mistake that he has since learned from, but shot back at Pritzker for donating money to a political action committee that also received contributions from Gov. Bruce Rauner and that pushed the pension reform bill.

“I was a legislator in early 2011 when there was a huge budget crisis,” Biss said. “I was trying my best and fell for a false choice on what this problem was. I’ve learned that lesson, and that lesson is visible in my voting record for years since that time.”

* Pritzker campaign press release during last night’s forum…

Despite using We Mean Business PAC as a talking point, Dan Biss cashed two checks totaling $15,000 from the very same organization. Those contributions came as Biss was writing and passing the unconstitutional pension bill that cut benefits for 467,000 teachers, university workers, and state employees. Since the bill was blocked by the Illinois Supreme Court, Biss has taken heat for his “flip-flop” as he tries to back away from the same bill he wrote.


    After flip-flopping on pensions at the Crain’s editorial board, Biss was asked, “if you can so completely change your opinion on something you spent so much time and energy on, what can people trust you not to change your opinion on?”

    Dan Biss received two contributions totaling $15,000 from We Mean Business PAC.

    Biss “helped write” and led efforts to pass the pension bill that was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and cut pension benefits promised to over 467,000 state workers.

    While Biss attacks JB for donating to We Mean Business PAC, the donation came two years before Biss authored the unconstitutional pension bill.

The campaign also released a video clip of Pritzker talking about this topic

* Biss campaign…

At tonight’s Illinois Democratic candidate forum hosted by the State Journal-Register, WMAY and the University of Illinois in Springfield, the Pritzker panic continued as JB Pritzker recycled his sloppy attacks against Daniel Biss.

Let’s check the facts.

Pritzker Panics on Pensions

JB Pritzker brought up Daniel Biss’ record on pensions. Pritzker neglected to mention that he funded the pro-business PAC that lobbied for a far more extreme bill.

Pritzker donated $20,000 to the We Mean Business PAC, which supported the passage of SB512, a bill designed to benefit wealthy business people over workers. Daniel Biss voted against this legislation despite Pritzker’s PAC’s pressure.

“Pensions are a promise, and I’ve been very open about my record on this issue, and what I’ve learned about it,” said Daniel Biss during the debate. “I was a legislator in early 2011 when there was a huge budget crisis. I was trying my best and fell for a false choice about the right way to solve this problem. I’ve learned that lesson, and that lesson has been visible in my voting record for years since that time. As governor, I’m going to pass fair tax policies to fund our pensions and make sure we can guarantee them.

“What I want to say about the breathtaking hypocrisy of JB Pritzker, my god, what was he doing? At that same time that I was doing something that I’ve said I learned a lesson from, he was funding a right wing organization that was attacking me from the right and trying to do away with pensions altogether. He hasn’t said he learned a lesson, he hasn’t acknowledged it, he hasn’t admitted it. It’s pure hypocrisy, it’s a failure of leadership.”

Daniel Biss has addressed his role in passing SB1 and acknowledged his error. He has explained his reasoning, the lessons he learned from it, and how his approach to the issue has changed. JB Pritzker has not.

- Posted by Rich Miller   107 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - IEA weighs in *** Kennedy takes heat for dissing Cairo schools

Thursday, Feb 22, 2018

* Chris Kennedy met with the Southern Illinoisan’s editorial board earlier this month and said this about Cairo’s school

“Zero percent of kids in Cairo are college-ready. Seventy-five percent of high school graduates need remedial education,” Kennedy said. “The problem with Cairo is not with the housing authority. It’s with the school. It needs to be fully funded by the state.”

* Um

The senior class disagrees. In fact, 10 of the 24 members of the Class of 2018 are taking college classes this semester through Shawnee College Escrow Program. About half of them will graduate with a full year of college credit or close to a year. They will start college in the fall as sophomores.

In addition to their classes, several students have been accepted to SCC Phi Theta Kappa international honor society for two-year colleges and academic programs.

Cairo seniors have received scholarships and been admitted to colleges and universities across the country. Eight seniors spoke on behalf of their class. They started by talking about the colleges that accepted them.

* And

“I’ve been accepted to SIU, SIUE, Tennessee State University, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Culver Stockton, and DePaul University. Oh, and Spartan College,” said Mack Hicks.

In fact, most of the students who spoke up on Wednesday have been accepted to several colleges and offered scholarships. Coming from a town that has seen its share of struggle, the teens said they are unfazed by the negative comments. […]

The students said they were a little confused about Kennedy’s comment because, according to the superintendent, 42 percent of the students will enter colleges and universities as sophomores, rather than freshmen. The senior class has 24 students, and 18 of those students have at least 1 college offer. So, they said something about his math doesn’t add up

“What person that is seeking the highest job in the state would even form his lips to say something like this? (It) shows us he is not ready to be our governor,” said Mayor Pro Tem Connie Williams.

“I actually want to thank him for doubting us. It’s going to push me further right now. It makes me think: If he doesn’t think I can make it, I got to prove him wrong,” said senior Shamari Smith.

Kennedy’s campaign told the local TV station that the candidate was referring to SAT scores, which are here.

You may recall that Kennedy was called out for the same sort of error on Springfield’s public schools.

* Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery, whose union is backing JB Pritzker, was not pleased…

“Chris Kennedy sounds more like Bruce Rauner every day, disregarding the facts and tearing people down instead of seeing their promise,” said IFT President Dan Montgomery, a high school English teacher. “As we’ve been reminded this week, high school students are stronger and smarter than some adults think, and it’s good to see them teaching Chris a lesson in Cairo. Kennedy’s defense – that he was only looking at SAT data – reveals even more. As teachers, we look at students as whole people, not just test scores. We’re proud to stand with JB Pritzker, who has spent decades fighting to expand early childhood education and supporting public school students, teachers, and staff.”

* Pritzker campaign…

“Chris Kennedy ‘applauded’ Bruce Rauner for creating a crisis for public education in Illinois and is now badmouthing the same students impacted by that crisis,” said Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh. “Kennedy’s comments undercut the future leaders of this state and entirely disregard the hard work these students have put in to their own education.”

*** UPDATE *** IEA President Kathi Griffin…

“Chris Kennedy needs a fact checker. During a meeting with the editorial board of The Southern Illinoisan this month, he claimed “zero percent of kids in Cairo are college-ready.” It’s not only false, it’s insulting! It’s insulting to the students and it’s insulting to the hard-working teachers and support staff of Cairo schools. The students there said it better than I could say it myself when they took to the media to defend themselves, pointing out that many of them will graduate high school with a year of college already under their belts, that many of the 24 members of the graduating class have received scholarships and been admitted to colleges and universities across the country. “Our entire class is smart. We’re going places. We will just have to show them, not tell them. We have a small town, a small school, but there is a lot of love here,” Mack Hicks said. Candidate Kennedy owes Mack Hicks, his classmates and his teachers an apology.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Biss’ poll has him tied for second and 8 points back

Thursday, Feb 22, 2018

* Polling memo

February 21, 2018

To: Biss for Illinois
From: Brian Stryker
Re: February Statewide Poll Findings

Daniel Biss continues to close the gap between him and JB Pritzker, trailing Pritzker by only 8 points. He has grown his vote by 20 points and caught Chris Kennedy with only two TV ads, and there’s a clear path for Biss to victory if he has the resources to continue to get his message out and build his name ID.

Key Findings

    • Biss has shot up in the polls after just more than one TV ad’s worth of airtime.
    We polled in the midst of Biss’ second TV ad with major movement for Biss. It’s noteworthy that between our two polls, Daniel Biss has spent roughly less than $2 million on TV while JB Pritzker has spent more than $20 million:

    • Biss has a healthy lead among voters who know all three major candidates, often a good predictor of where the race is likely to go. Daniel Biss leads by 9 points among people who can identify him, Pritzker, and Kennedy (35% Biss / 26% Pritzker / 25% Kennedy).

The following findings are based off a poll of n=500 likely March 2018 Illinois Democratic primary voters conducted February 6-11, 2018. The survey was conducted on cellphones and landlines; it has a margin of sampling error of +4.4% and higher for subgroups.

*** UPDATE *** Here’s something I didn’t take into account with the Biss poll until someone called to point it out. Biss may have deliberately sent his pollster into the field on February 6th because it’s the very same day the Tribune published a story about the Pritzker conversation with Rod Blagojevich caught on wiretap about appointing a black person to the US Senate. So, yeah, Pritzker would definitely not be doing well on that day and for several days afterward.

Something to consider anyway.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* Chart

* From late January

The We Ask America poll of 811 likely voters was taken Jan. 29-30 and shows Pritzker ahead at 29.79 percent, followed by Biss at 17.43 percent. Businessman Chris Kennedy was in third with 11.50 percent. And it shows that 37.95 percent of those polled are still undecided.

* Pritzker poll from late January

JB currently leads with 41% of the vote, ahead of Daniel Biss at 22%, Chris Kennedy at 16%, and 20% of voters undecided.

* Pritzker poll from mid February

Results: 37 percent of the those polled backed Pritzker, with Kennedy at 23 percent and Biss with 21 percent.

All but the WAA poll have Biss in the low-to-mid twenties.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Biss blasts Pritzker over Madigan issue

Thursday, Feb 22, 2018

* Most of the coverage of last night’s forum centered around this topic. From a Daniel Biss press release…

At tonight’s Illinois Democratic candidate forum hosted by the State Journal-Register, WMAY and the University of Illinois in Springfield, the Pritzker panic continued as JB Pritzker recycled his sloppy attacks against Daniel Biss.

JB has been sloppy in his continued attempts to smear Daniel. Let’s check the facts.

JB Pritzker is Michael Madigan’s candidate for governor. He paid his dues for the Speaker’s support with donations from newly-formed LLCs. Then after Madigan lined up establishment support for Pritzker’s campaign he returned the favor by refusing to call for Madigan’s resignation as Chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois in the face of his mishandling of multiple allegations of sexual harassment coming out of his office.

    “I’ve called for Mike Madigan to step down as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois,” said Daniel Biss during the debate. “I’m a Democratic elected official and I’ve lost my faith in his ability to lead the Illinois House as well. We have an important choice to make in this election. I have a record of independence from Mike Madigan, but JB Pritzker is Mike Madigan’s hand-picked candidate in this race. It took JB Pritzker a week to get permission from Mike Madigan to even name him in talking about the sexual harassment cover-up. We need someone with independence, and I’m that candidate.”

After Pritzker continued to dodge the question, Biss responded.

    “I just want to point out that when JB got done attacking me, he said he was going to answer the question but then didn’t, because he hasn’t gotten permission yet from Madigan to answer that question.

    “But here’s the truth,” continued Biss. “There’s a Pritzker-Madigan wing of the Democratic Party, and there is a progressive wing of the Party that I’m a part of. And I’ll work with anybody. When I’m in office, I work with both parties and all wings of all parties to move a progressive agenda forward.”

As Pritzker flailed on the Madigan question tonight, he attempted to change the subject to Daniel Biss, criticizing Biss for voting for Madigan for Speaker, and running his PAC.

As a member of the House in 2010, Daniel Biss was presented with two options for Speaker: a Republican or a Democrat. Biss voted for the Democrat.

JB Pritzker doesn’t always support Democrats over Republicans. During President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012, Pritzker told Bloomberg that he had to wait and see who the Republicans nominated before he could decide who to support for election, calling President Obama “mediocre.” At the time, the Republican candidates who he considered supporting over President Obama were Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul.

Daniel was offered a chance to fight against Bruce Rauner and Donald Trump’s agenda by heading the Leading Illinois for Tomorrow (LIFT) PAC, which sought to show voters the similarities between Rauner and Trump. JB Pritzker donated $900,000 to the PAC, and Chris Kennedy donated another $50,000.

* We have Biss’ full forum comments above, so let’s look at how Pritzker reacted at the event. SJ-R

Pritzker, responding to Biss’ criticism, essentially called the state senator a hypocrite for accepting financial support from Madigan in the past while running a super PAC in 2016 that was funded heavily by Madigan allies.

Despite not doing so in his initial statement on the sexual harassment controversy, Pritzker did call out Madigan by name at the debate.

“We need to make sure that there is a fully independent investigation, something that is totally independent of Speaker Madigan’s operation and Speaker Madigan himself,” Pritzker said. “We need to make sure that we stand up for the women who come forward in workplaces across the state of Illinois and, in (running mate) Juliana Stratton and my administration, there will be a zero tolerance policy for sexual harassment.”

* And

But Pritzker did not answer a panelist’s question of whether Madigan should give up his party chairmanship, his speaker role or both.

“He hasn’t gotten permission yet from Madigan to answer that question,” said Biss in noting the dodge.

For his part, Pritzker lashed out at Biss and labeled “utterly ridiculous” the lawmaker’s claims of independence from Madigan.

“This is a state representative who got elected with Mike Madigan’s help, who accepted tens of thousands of dollars from him, who ran Mike Madigan’s super PAC and who’s accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from Springfield insiders, bankers and lobbyists,” Pritzker said.

* More

Pritzker said an independent investigation that Madigan has approved will identify where blame should fall. He labeled Biss’ claim “utterly ridiculous,” contending Biss was first elected to office in 2011 with Madigan’s help and has taken “tens of thousands of dollars” from Madigan-controlled campaign committees and “from Springfield insiders, bankers and lobbyists.”

* And

On his second try, Pritzker still avoided the question, saying an independent investigation prompted by Madigan “will determine who the perpetrators are and who is truly responsible.”

Shaw Decremer became the second Madigan operative to be dismissed this month — his exit coming just seven days after the firing of Madigan’s longtime aide Kevin Quinn after a woman came forward with allegations of unwanted and repeated advances from Quinn, the brother of Ald. Marty Quinn (13th).

“Everybody, I mean, everybody up and down the line, who is responsible should be held accountable,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker may have been lucky that Chris Kennedy couldn’t attend the forum.


As Illinois Democrats turn up the heat on Mike Madigan for his mishandling of sexual assault allegations within his political organization, one Democrat has given Madigan his tacit support - J.B. Pritzker, Madigan’s candidate for governor.

But media outlets aren’t letting Pritzker off the hook for his refusal to answer a simple question that’s on everybody’s minds - ’should Mike Madigan resign as Chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois, House Speaker, or both?’

I already posted most of the links they included, but the party included this powerful clip of Biss after the forum that I hadn’t seen…

Mic drop.

- Posted by Rich Miller   39 Comments      

*** LIVE *** Session coverage

Thursday, Feb 22, 2018

* I was working on two interesting stories yesterday and they both petered out, so no Fax this morning. But we still have session, so watch it in real time with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

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