Edwin Eisendrath, the former Chicago alderman who led the investment group that bought the Chicago Sun-Times last year, has resigned after 16 months as chief executive officer of the struggling newspaper’s parent company.
Along with his departure, effective immediately, the company announced the appointment Wednesday of Nykia Wright as interim CEO. Wright joined Sun-Times Media Group as chief operating officer last October after working as a financial analyst and consultant for companies in Chicago, Atlanta and London. […]
Sources said Eisendrath had lost the confidence of the Sun-Times board, and that the paper was still losing money. Its path to profitability by no means assured, Eisendrath predicted earlier this year that the Sun-Times had no better than a “60 percent chance” of surviving for two years.
In addition, growing tensions between Eisendrath and Sun-Times editor-in-chief Chris Fusco had come to the board’s attention, according to insiders. Fusco’s predecessor as top editor, Jim Kirk, stepped down just weeks after Eisendrath took over. Eisendrath also raised eyebrows when he hired his wife, Jennifer Schulze, as executive producer – new media, reporting to her close friend, Carol Fowler, senior vice president of digital news products.
I had no beef with Ed, but they need to get back to being a good newspaper with a functioning website and forget about all those other gizmos. More reporters, less “digital news products” and “new media.”
Kevin Morrison might be a political newcomer, but the Democratic challenger for the Cook County Board District 15 seat that represents much of the Northwest suburbs is getting lots of financial help ahead of Tuesday’s vote.
The Cook County Democratic Party has spent more than $260,000 on his campaign since June in Morrison’s bid to unseat longtime Republican county board Commissioner Tim Schneider of Bartlett, who also chairs the Illinois Republican Party.
“This is insane,” Schneider said, charging county President Toni Preckwinkle and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan “are trying to buy this election.”
Schneider has raised more than $125,000 since July, most of it coming from state GOP in-kind contributions with business PACs make up the a large portion of the donations as well.
In addition to Morrison’s race, Cook Democrats have given more than $250,000 to two other candidates — Scott Britton and Abdelnassar Rashid — who are vying for the seats of Republicans Gregg Goslin of Glenview and Sean Morrison of Palos Park, respectively.
Schneider, on the other hand, has raised just $134K since the primary. However, and this is important, the story doesn’t note that a dark money outfit called the Economic Freedom Alliance has spent significant bucks on Schneider: $105K to support Schneider and $26K to bash Morrison.
* Also, I didn’t hear Commissioner Schneider complain in 2016 when Rauner gave the chairman’s state party $15 million. All told, Rauner has given the ILGOP $36.656 million since June of 2014.
The Republicans were riding high on the governor’s money. But he’s since slowed his flow ($2 million to the ILGOP last year and $5.6 million this year) and the other side has a new sugar daddy.
In a permanent injunction issued Tuesday, a federal judge found that Illinois prison inmates face an ongoing, serious risk of harm because of inadequate mental health care.
Judge Michael Mihm gave the Department of Corrections 14 days to submit a plan to address what he called “systemic and gross deficiencies in staffing” that denies more than 12,000 mentally ill inmates adequate treatment and care. The ruling was handed down by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois in Peoria. […]
“A civilized society cares for the helpless. The IDOC has shirked this responsibility year after year. They should be ashamed,” [Harold Hirshman, one of the attorneys for inmates] added. […]
On the issue of segregation, Mihm noted that over 80 percent of the 1,105 inmates held in their cells 22 to 23 hours a day are mentally ill. In his testimony, [Pablo Stewart,a court-appointed monitor] called the inmates in segregation “some of the sickest individuals psychiatrically that I’ve seen in my career, and I’ve worked with seriously mentally ill (people). And these people are just suffering immensely.”
Once the state responds, the inmates’ attorneys will have a chance to respond and then the judge could turn the whole thing over to a special receiver who would oversee the prison system’s mental health reforms.
We are disappointed by the court’s findings but remain committed to continuing to improve the quality of care for offenders on the mental health caseload. It’s important to point out that the court noted IDOC’s serious efforts to improve the care for offenders with mental illness and outlined several accomplishments, including:
· The Department has implemented policies and procedures to improve mental health services.
· The Department has invested more than $45 million to build new facilities and rehabilitate existing facilities to provide mental health services to offenders.
· Plans are in place to construct a $150 million mental health and general medicine hospital for seriously mentally ill offenders.
In addition to these considerable improvements, other steps have been made to improve outcomes:
· The Department has reduced segregation time by 47.5% since 2015 and has drastically increased out of cell time for offenders who are housed in segregation.
· The Department has invested thousands of hours providing critical training for staff, which equips them with the knowledge and skills to safely defuse situations and meet the unique needs of the mentally ill population.
· The Department created the position of Correctional Treatment Officer, which requires a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, psychology, or social work. In the past year, the Department has hired dozens of Correctional Treatment Officers for Joliet and Elgin Treatment Centers.
· The Department has implemented additional programming for offenders who are on the mental health caseload.
The Department acknowledges its need for additional mental health professionals, and has been laser focused on recruiting new staff. We have dramatically increased our presence at hiring events throughout the state. In addition, we are expanding our partnerships with Southern Illinois University and the University of Illinois.
…Adding… Keep in mind here that this lawsuit was filed eleven years ago. It’s been a problem for a very long time.
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner says the state has the best people, the best agriculture, best location and best transportation. But, after four years in office, he is frustrated.
“We should be thriving. But, we have these self-inflicted problems of taxes and corruption and job losses. It’s been strangling us for decades,” Rauner said.
Rauner tells WMBD’s Greg and Dan that the powerful political machine in Chicago, run by Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, keeps pushing back against efforts to fix Illinois’ financial problems.
“We’ve grown 210,000 jobs, cut taxes for families who adopt and disabled veterans. We’ve got historic education funding, made great improvements to Medicaid and criminal justice reform. We’ve made progress, but, there still so much to do,” Rauner said.
Does Bruce Rauner deserve another four years? The short answer is no. That’s why newspapers across Illinois have endorsed JB Pritzker for governor, calling Pritzker a no-nonsense problem solver who has a record of job creation. JB has the best plan to put Illinois back on its feet, easing property taxes, boosting education and growing jobs. Hope for change rests only with JB Pritzker.
A Chicago psychiatric hospital that treats hundreds of children in state care is under federal and state investigation over safety concerns and alleged sexual assaults, and it may be forced to close if it can’t correct deficiencies.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has investigated 16 allegations of abuse and neglect this year at the Aurora Chicago Lakeshore Hospital in the city’s Uptown community, including allegations that children were raped and sexually abused by staff and other patients, physically assaulted and inadequately supervised, a ProPublica Illinois investigation found. […]
In addition to child welfare investigations, the Illinois Department of Public Health has conducted a series of inspections on behalf of federal authorities since July that found the hospital had failed to ensure the safety of suicidal patients, obtain consent before giving patients — including children — powerful medications and sufficiently monitor patients.
Federal authorities have said they will cut off funding that is crucial to the hospital’s operations by the end of November if officials there do not implement immediate changes, according to federal records and court documents. […]
The child welfare agency continues to send children to the hospital, which serves children and adults in two buildings a few blocks apart. Nearly half of the 16 investigations have not been substantiated, and the other cases reflect individual incidents rather than a systemic problem, [Neil Skene, the special assistant to DCFS Acting Director Beverly “B.J.” Walker] said.
“The question for DCFS is whether children are safe there,” Skene said. “Nothing that we are seeing gives us concern for their safety.” […]
The investigations alarmed Meryl Paniak, DCFS’ acting inspector general, who in a confidential memo urged Walker to take action. Paniak wrote that she had “significant concerns for the care and safety of the children” at Lakeshore, according to a copy of the memo obtained by ProPublica Illinois.
The feds are about to shut off funding, the IG is alarmed, but no worries, nothing to see here, move along?
At least three of those children had already been cleared for discharge but DCFS had not found them other placements, records show. ProPublica Illinois revealed in June that hundreds of children have spent weeks and even months trapped in psychiatric hospitals as the agency searched for residential treatment centers, foster homes and other placements.
S&P Global Ratings lowered its ratings on Illinois’ Build Illinois senior- and junior-lien sales tax bonds to ‘BBB’ from ‘AA-’ upon the implementation of our recently released priority-lien tax revenue debt criteria. The outlook is stable.
“The downgrade reflects our view of the state’s general creditworthiness, which, under the new criteria, limits the final ratings on priority-lien tax revenue debt,” said S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Gabriel Petek. Our priority-lien criteria takes into account both the strength and stability of the pledged revenues, as well as the general credit quality of the obligor where taxes are distributed and/or collected, in this case, the state of Illinois.
The ratings reflect what we view as Illinois’:
• Deep and diverse economic base and above-average income levels supporting sales tax collections;
• Very strong debt service coverage; and
• Strong credit structure that we believe largely insulates bondholders from economic and revenue volatility, with an additional bonds test that significantly constrains future leverage.
Offsetting these strengths, in our view, is the state’s general credit quality (general obligation [GO] rating BBB-/Stable). To date, the Build Illinois bond program’s authorizing legislation has restricted its use to financing capital and infrastructure projects. While this remained the case even throughout the state’s two-year budget impasse, future legislatures could enact laws broadening the program’s allowable uses. In our view, the inability to prohibit future lawmakers from taking such action, combined with the state’s unresolved fiscal imbalances, links the credit quality of the Build Illinois sales tax revenue bonds to the state’s general creditworthiness. Therefore, the rating on the Build Illinois bonds is constrained from going higher unless we raise the state GO rating. […]
The downgrade affects $2.27 billion in existing Build Illinois sales tax bonds and the state’s recent issuance of $250 million of Build Illinois sales tax bonds. The junior-lien bonds are subordinate in the flow of funds to the senior-lien bonds outstanding, but we have assigned the same ratings to bonds of both liens due to the similar credit structure, strong bond protections against dilution of coverage by additional debt, and very strong debt service coverage from the pledged sales tax revenues levied statewide.
This is a bit nuts, if you ask me. They’re backed up by sales taxes, nobody has ever talked about using that bond program for anything other than capital and infrastructure projects and bonds get paid first under Illinois law.
I imagine it would be, but an endorsement would be like a strong appeal for this guy to have four more years, and, look, I feel like part of being a Republican, quite frankly, and being in that contest against him. But you know, I will vote for him. He won fair and square, I guess. But you know, I can’t stand on the stage and endorse somebody who’s done some of the stuff he’s done. And you’re right it’s a distinction without a difference, but that’s where I stand.
And after bemoaning the negative attacks this election cycle against Republicans, Rep. Ives went on to say that a grand jury should be empaneled to indict Pritzker, his wife and his brother-in-law over that property tax thing.
* Candidates love to shake hands and distribute campaign fliers at Metra and CTA train stations, but Sen. Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) adds a twist to that tradition…
I like it.
* The Question: Have you seen any memorable campaign lit this fall? Tell us about it.
*** UPDATE *** A friend of mine who always, always takes Republican primary ballots and lives in a very Republican area says he’s now received 7 mailers from the Democratic Party of Illinois and nothing from the state Republicans or the Rauner campaign. Here’s the latest…
Today, the Rauner campaign is releasing a new digital video featuring Governor Bruce Rauner outside his childhood home in Deerfield.
In the video, Bruce talks about his old home, growing up in the neighborhood, and fond memories with his family and friends. Bruce says it’s these kind of wonderful neighborhoods with great schools that we need to have all across Illinois and he’s fighting hard to lower taxes so every community can thrive and grow.
* I was just messing with the governor a bit with that headline. I actually like this video…
This is the house I grew up in here in Deerfield. I have very fond memories of this house. Two-and-half bedrooms. My little baby sister had the tiny room, my two cousins and I shared a room. About 10-by-10, it was a pretty wild place, not a lot of sleeping going on in there.
But wonderful neighborhood. That was the Claremore’s house, that was the Baker’s house. Every house had between three and six kids in it. Lot of fun memories playing with everybody. My mom in the evenings to get us back home for dinner, she used to come outside, she got a boat horn, and squeeze and blow it out the back kitchen door. Every kid on the block in the neighborhood knew it was dinner time when my mom blew the boat horn, so we’d all run home and go get dinner.
This is what we want in every community in the state of Illinois. Wonderful neighborhoods for children with outstanding schools. And we need to make sure government is efficient so we can bring down the property taxes. I know even back then my parents used to talk about property taxes. They’ve always been higher, and boy they’ve grown a lot in Illinois. We need to find ways to bring those down, that’s what we’re working for every day.
TB: Gov. Rauner is a wealthy man with no government experience. President Trump, wealthy man, no government experience. You’re a wealthy man, no government experience. How are you different?
Pritzker: Well, that’s not true. I do have government experience. In fact, I think people should take note that if I was some sort of political person that was running for everything, I might not have chosen this year to run just for the point you made. There’s a failed president in Washington, DC who’s a wealthy businessman. There’s a failed governor here in Illinois, who’s a wealthy businessman. But here’s the thing: I bring real experience to the job getting things done for working families.
The only state government experience he has is chairing the Human Rights Commission and occasionally yakking on the phone with Rod Blagojevich. That ain’t much. I get that he’s in campaign mode and has to say those things, but I do hope he doesn’t actually believe that his limited experience means he understands state government. He doesn’t. If elected, he will need people who do understand.
“I had probably as good a resume as anybody going into the governor’s office,” says Jim Edgar, who was governor of Illinois from 1991 to 1999 — after being secretary of state, Gov. Jim Thompson’s top lobbyist, and a state legislator.
“But jiminy, I’ve got to say a lot of things surprised me,” Edgar says. “I can’t imagine people that hadn’t had any experience.”
Edgar says there are ways an amateur politician could help himself in the job: Bring in good people. People who know the history and process of Illinois government. And listen to their advice.
Possibly more likely to move to government is former Clinton labor outreach director Nikki Budzinski. A former president of Illini Democrats, she is a senior campaign adviser and would be a solid choice for a policy slot. Ditto scheduler Mary Urbani, political director Sean Rapelyea and Mike Alexander, a former staffer to U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin who’s been around the campaign a lot. Campaign spokeswoman Galia Slayen also may have a continuing role.
Some outside names also come up, including state Sen. Andy Manar of Bunker Hill and state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz of Chicago, a veteran House member who ran for Congress several years back and lost to Mike Quigley.
Manar’s name came up a lot in my calls, and for good reason: He has excellent legislative ties as former chief of staff to Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, comes from downstate and was chief sponsor of the new education aid package. In other words, he has the inside knowledge of how state government works that Pritzker lacks. He might work as state school superintendent, budget director or even chief of staff. But Manar is having to fight very hard for re-election—so hard that Pritzker might really, really have to lean on him to take the job.
Also mentioned for chief of staff is Steven Collens, who was J.B. Pritzker’s chief of staff at the Pritzker Group and played a key role in putting together the 1871 tech incubator. He now runs health care incubator Matter.
IMHO, under no circumstances should a governor - whoever it is - hire a chief of staff with no state government experience in Illinois. We do not need a Rauner repeat.
Also, while Manar is still campaigning hard all day every day, he’s practically coasting to reelection right now. The GOP has done almost nothing to take him out. But that’s an Andy Manar district. An appointed replacement would have a tougher time. If he ever wants to run statewide, though, he needs to get out of the Senate and move away from his position on guns or he’ll have a rough Democratic primary (unless the field can be cleared). He could be a good chief of staff, though. He could also be a good budget director (so would Sen. Elgie Sims, by the way, or Rep. Greg Harris, or Sen. Heather Steans, or Jessica Basham, or Kristin Richards or a ton of other good people).
Anyway, I’m gonna avoid talking about everyone else because the campaign is still chugging along and I have to deal with some of these folks. Your thoughts?
* More evidence that the governor’s first term in office is not ending the way he initially hoped…
On Tuesday, teachers at 15 Chicago charter schools voted 98 percent to authorize a strike as they continue to bargain a contract with Acero Schools, the largest unionized charter network in the city. On Friday, four locations of the Chicago International Charter Schools (CICS) will take a strike authorization vote. And teachers at nine other Chicago charter networks are also in contract negotiations, and could similarly opt to take strikes votes in the coming months.
If no agreement is reached, Chicago could be home to the nation’s first-ever charter strike. Teachers have been inching closer to this possibility for the past two years, during which time eleventh-hour deals have narrowly averted strikes against at least three other charter operators.
That’s a stunning reversal from 2012, when Chicago charter operators bragged that, unlike unionized public schools, charters were unaffected by teacher strikes.
Since then, “Chicago has become the epicenter of charter union organizing in the country,” as Illinois Network of Charter Schools President Andrew Broy lamented in the Chicago Tribune last year.
What’s more, charter teachers are currently bargaining their first contracts as members of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), which also represents the city’s 27,000 public school teachers. In March, the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers that represents more than 30 charters in the city, merged with the CTU in a bid to strengthen the hands of both unions.
President Barack Obama to Headline Get Out the Vote Rally in Chicago
JB Pritzker, Juliana Stratton, Kwame Raoul, Sean Casten, Lauren Underwood and Democrats Up and Down the Ballot to Join Rally
President Barack Obama to headline a Chicago GOTV rally to highlight the importance of electing Democrats up and down the ballot, including JB Pritzker, Juliana Stratton, Kwame Raoul, Sean Casten, and Lauren Underwood. President Obama will focus on electing Democrats and encouraging Illinoisans to get out and vote on November 6th.
Sunday, November 4 at 3:00 PM
525 South Racine Avenue
Chicago, IL 60607
* Joe Biden Campaigns for Democratic Candidates Across Illinois: Biden was expected to first stop in suburban St. Charles for a rally with Lauren Underwood, the Democratic challenger looking to unseat incumbent GOP Rep. Randy Hultgren in Illinois’ 14th Congressional District. … Later in the day, Biden was expected to head to East St. Louis to stump for a statewide and downstate candidates.
*** UPDATE *** Rauner campaign communications director Will Allison…
JB Pritzker has spent the last month being investigated for tax fraud and sued for discrimination, so it’s no wonder he’s bringing in President Obama at the last minute. This proves that this race is much tighter than public polling and pundits have indicated, and the momentum is with Governor Rauner in this final stretch.
* Tina Sfondeles interviewed Gov. Rauner on his campaign bus yesterday. You really should read the whole thing…
“The president is not on the ballot. Who is on the ballot is Pritzker and [Illinois House Speaker Mike] Madigan, and then Rauner and [Lt. Governor Evelyn] Sanguinetti,” Rauner said. […]
Rauner also claimed Madigan “orchestrated” the budget battles, which ultimately led to a historic and destructive impasse.
“Madigan — Pritzker wasn’t around then — Madigan, this was all orchestrated. Madigan’s always thinking. I give the guy credit. He was thinking about this election, that fight in 2015, three years prior. Cause a fight, blame the governor. And Madigan, because he’s so powerful and there are so any elected officials loyal to him, the comptroller, the treasurer, the members of the General Assembly in the super majority, all chattering to you in the media, all saying, ‘Oh it’s the governors’ fault. He’s so unreasonable.”
Rauner said he proposed “so many” budget ideas, compromises and policy reforms: “I was willing to do things that I didn’t agree with but would compromise to get some other good reforms done.”
“It was all to spin. Spin a story of, the governor was the problem,” Rauner said. “I’m one guy. They could do any budget they wanted.”
Rauner should at least make Madigan pay rent for all the space he’s been occupying in the governor’s head.
* So my hat is off to Cynthia Given, the Democratic candidate in the 109th. To even think about running in a district like that requires strong character…
Cynthia Given, a Democrat, is a resident of Olney and recently celebrated her 11th year as a small business owner. She also spends her time mentoring other small business owners and helping their businesses to grow. Given is a graduate of Carmi-White County High School, Wabash Valley College and Southeastern Illinois College. She has served on the board of directors for her high school alumni association for over 10 years and is involved in the Richland County CEO program, Richland County 100 Women Who Care and the Olney and Greater Richland County Chamber of Commerce. Given also serves as a precinct committeewoman and secretary of the Richland County Democratic party. […]
Given said that even before she began running for office, she has reached out to those across the political spectrum in the district and asked their opinions on her candidacy for the 109th House District. She said she also already has made connections with constituents through her work in two state Senate offices. […]
“I am one of those people who some of their political values don’t always fit into those neat boxes of ‘R’ or ‘D’, and I’ve kept that transparency. I’ve been open to people,” Given said. “The word that I haven’t heard here yet is ‘listen,’ and I think that is how you connect to your constituents.”
* Moving right along, Hillary Clinton won the 58th House District by a 40-point margin. It can be a bit “swingy” down-ballot, but, overall, this is a Democratic district currently represented by Scott Drury.
Since 1980, Rick has been in private practice representing individuals and small businesses. He has an A-V rating, the highest available, for integrity and skill. In 1987, he moved his business to Lake County. In 1997, Rick founded a firm in Lake County dedicated to estate planning for individuals and succession planning for small business owners. That firm, Lesser, Lutrey, Pasquesi and Howe, LLP, won the Chamber of Commerce award for community service.
Rick is an active community leader. He has served as a volunteer President of six civic organizations: Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce (Rick organized the merger of the two organizations); Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Rotary Club; Lake County Bar Association; Lake County Bar Foundation; Lake County Estate Planning Council; and Deerfield Optimist Club. As President of the Bar Association, Rick created the Association’s Board of Directors and opened the Association to non-lawyer members, such as paralegals. The result was a substantial increase in the size and the vitality of the 100-year-old Association. […]
In 1976, Rick graduated with an A average as a History major from the University of Illinois. After graduating college, he went to the corner of LaSalle and Jackson, took the elevator up to the top floor, and walked door to door until he found a job as a clerk with a small law firm. He then went on to graduate from the University of Michigan Law School, one of the country’s top law schools.
The Sun-Times said Lesser has “a strong resume of public service as a village trustee and former president of a variety of local civic and business organizations,” but endorsed his opponent Bob Morgan, who was also endorsed by the Tribune. The Daily Herald endorsed Lesser, saying his “local-government experience and background as a real estate attorney give him strong insight into the workings of government and an understanding of the complex challenges of the state’s property tax and pension problems — as well as a sense of urgency on the need to solve them.”
Lesser had $24K in his campaign account coming in to October compared to his Democratic opponent’s $164K. He’s gonna get slaughtered, but he’s still out there working.
* You don’t have to agree with either of these two candidates on the issues, or their sources of funding or whatever to respect what they’re doing. Neither has a chance in heck of winning and their respective state party chairmen have likely given them zero thought. They’re receiving almost no attention from any media outlet, no fancy political columnist will sing their praises or even make the effort to cut them down a peg. But they are both civic-minded people doing what they can to make a difference in the communities they love.
Hang in there, Cynthia and Rick. You make me proud to be an Illinoisan.