* OK, that’s it for me. I’ll have something for subscribers either tonight or tomorrow morning, but otherwise I’m done for the week unless something truly weird happens. I hope all of you have a relaxing and joyful Thanksgiving break.
I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who supported my campaign. While Election night ended with us hopeful, we soon learned in the 3 days that followed that 14,000 absentee ballots arrived at the DuPage Election Commission that still needed to be counted. Unfortunately, with those votes now counted, we are going to come up short. I congratulate my opponent and her supporters. I am proud of the campaign we’ve run, and I am forever grateful for the honor to represent the 21st Senate District. Thank you again, and may each and every one of you have a Happy Thanksgiving holiday.
Connelly (R-Lisle) lost to Laura Ellman (D-Naperville).
The Senate Democrats picked up three seats. They now have a 40-19 advantage.
And to be clear about how big this Connelly pickup is, the two House members in his district are Jeanne Ives and Grant Wehrli.
The Illinois Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) has released its five-year budget projections. The forecast, not surprisingly, is alarming. Spending continues to outpace revenues by a large margin.
Despite last year’s 32 percent tax hike ($5 billion yearly), GOMB expects Illinois to maintain average budget deficits of about $3 billion over the next five years.
Barring the passage of meaningful economic and political structural changes, Illinois’ anemic employment and economic growth is expected to continue to underperform the nation over the next five years.
Does that “meaningful economic and political structural changes” phrase mean “right to work and term limits”?
* Despite the governor’s repeated claims during the campaign that the first budget he signed into law is balanced, his GOMB is projecting a deficit at the end of this fiscal year of $546 million, plus maybe another $500 million more if Rauner loses his AFSCME step increase case.
The projection for FY20 (Pritzker’s first full fiscal year) includes an overall resources decrease of about $100 million, due mainly to a $400 million disappearance of interfund borrowing and a super-anemic projected state tax revenue increase of just $331 million (1 percent). GOMB projects a spending increase of about $2 billion, driven mainly by pensions ($1.1 billion), K-12 education ($400 million) and healthcare ($400 million).
* Looking more long-term, of that grand total of $16 billion or so in projected structural budget deficits racked up over the next five fiscal years, about $2.3 billion of that is due to pensions. Another $1.8 billion is for K-12 education, $1.3 billion for AFSCME step increases, $1.1 billion for healthcare, $459 million for human services, $334 million for employee group health insurance and $181 million for public safety.
Not to mention that the state’s projected bill backlog at the end of the current fiscal year is $7.8 billion.
Illinois Attorney General-elect Kwame Raoul announced the transition committee for his office today. The group will assist in transitioning the functions of the office from Attorney General Lisa Madigan to Raoul, who was elected to the office earlier this month.
“I am pleased to be working with this team of accomplished legal and policy professionals as I prepare to serve Illinois’ diverse communities as attorney general,” Raoul said. “As the transition proceeds, I will continue to engage perspectives from throughout the state, including through issue-specific working groups.”
* Committee members…
Kimberly M. Foxx is the first African American woman to lead the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. She was elected in 2016 with a vision for transforming the office into a fairer, more forward-thinking agency. In her first year in office, Foxx undertook substantial reforms, such as revamping the Conviction Integrity Unit, leading bond reform efforts, and prioritizing resources away from low-level offenses. Prior to being elected state’s attorney, Foxx served as an Assistant State’s Attorney for 12 years and as a guardian ad litem advocating for children navigating the child welfare system. She also served as chief of staff for the Cook County Board President. Foxx is a graduate of Southern Illinois University, where she earned a B.A. in Political Science and a J.D. from the SIU School of Law.
Nancy Rotering was elected mayor of Highland Park in 2011 and re-elected in 2015. She began her career on the General Motors Treasurer’s staff. In 1990, she joined McDermott Will & Emery as a health law attorney. She shifted her focus to government work in 2008, joining the staff of state Representative Karen May. In 2015, she founded the Highland Park-Highwood Legal Aid Clinic. Rotering earned a Bachelor’s degree in economics from Stanford University, an MBA from Northwestern University and a law degree from the University of Chicago.
Bob Berlin serves as state’s attorney for DuPage County and president of the Illinois State’s Attorneys Association. A prosecutor for more than 30 years, Berlin worked for the Cook County and Kane County state’s attorneys before moving to the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office. Berlin held supervisory roles in the Juvenile, Felony Trial and Criminal divisions before becoming the county’s state’s attorney in 2010. Berlin has since been elected to the position twice as a Republican. He is well-known for his expertise in criminal justice reform and policy issues surrounding opioid abuse. Berlin received his J.D. from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis and his undergraduate degree from Dickinson College.
Andrea Zopp is president and CEO of World Business Chicago, leading a mission of inclusive economic growth, supporting businesses, and promoting Chicago as a leading global city. Most recently, she served as Deputy Mayor, Chief Neighborhood Development Officer for the City of Chicago. She also served in the United States Attorney’s Office and was the first woman and African American to serve as the First Assistant in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. Zopp has held executive leadership positions at several Fortune 500 companies, including Sara Lee, Sears Holdings and Exelon, and she previously led the Chicago Urban League. She has served on the Chicago Board of Education and the Cook County Health and Hospital System Board. Zopp is a graduate of Harvard College and Law School.
Renato Mariotti, an experienced trial lawyer and former prosecutor, is a partner at Thompson Coburn, LLP, where he represents clients in high-stakes litigation. As a federal prosecutor, Mariotti was best known for leading the first-ever indictment and prosecution of a high-frequency trader under the anti-spoofing provision of the Dodd-Frank Act, a major case that signaled a sea change in the government’s ability to enforce securities regulations in the era of computer-aided trading. In addition to his legal work, he is a CNN Legal Analyst and an advocate for the rule of law and for protecting electoral systems from attack. Mariotti is a graduate of Yale Law School and the University of Chicago.
Brendan Kelly has served as state’s attorney for St. Clair County for eight years, focusing on violent crime and public integrity. A graduate of Notre Dame and Saint Louis University of Law, Kelly served in the Middle East in the U.S. Navy, conducting research on joint Israeli-Palestinian police patrols. He served as President of the Illinois State’s Attorneys Association and on the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, the Illinois Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform Commission, and the Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task Force Law Enforcement Working Group. As state’s attorney, he has been a strong supporter of innovative law enforcement work on opioids and juvenile justice, reducing violent crime by 41% during his tenure.
Kathryn Bocanegra, AM, LCSW, ABD is a National Institute of Justice Graduate Research Fellow and doctoral candidate at the University of Chicago examining the intersection of communities and criminal justice interventions and how to develop localized strategies to enhance public safety and heal from traumatic exposure. Bocanegra has directed community violence prevention programming such as street intervention, school-based mentoring and trauma-informed family interventions. She has over 10 years of experience running support groups for families of homicide victims and trains community groups on working with crime survivors. Bocanegra is a member of the Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council and served on the Illinois Governor’s Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform.
Zachary Fardon, a former federal prosecutor, is Managing Partner and Head of Litigation at King & Spalding LLP, and a partner in the firm’s Special Matters and Government Investigations practice. As United States Attorney in Chicago, Fardon oversaw successful investigations and prosecutions in the areas of financial crime, corporate misconduct, fraud, public corruption, gangs and terrorism. His 25-year career in the private and public sectors has focused on high-stakes litigation of criminal and civil matters. Fardon earned law and undergraduate degrees from Vanderbilt University.
Alan King is a partner in Drinker, Biddle & Reath LLP, representing clients in the areas of employment litigation and counseling. He is vice chair of the firm’s Labor and Employment Group. He has extensive experience on behalf of private and public employers in individual and class-action cases in federal and state court, and he has participated in more than 100 mediations and settlement conferences. King was named one of 40 Illinois Attorneys Under 40 to Watch by the Law Bulletin Publishing Company in 2003. He has served on the boards of many civic and professional organizations, including the Children First Fund, the Ounce of Prevention Fund, the Chicago Chapter of the Federal Bar Association and the Chicago Committee on Minorities in Large Law Firms. King earned his J.D. from the University of Illinois and his B.A. from Augustana College.
Kathryn Saltmarsh is the Executive Director of the Sentencing Policy Advisory Council (SPAC), an independent commission tasked with providing system-wide fiscal impact analysis for sentencing policy as well as facilitating the use of research and analysis to support implementation of evidence-based practices. Attorney General-Elect Raoul has served as Vice-Chair of SPAC since its inception in 2009. Saltmarsh previously served as Legislative Affairs Bureau Chief for the Office of the Illinois Attorney General and an assistant defender with the Supreme Court Unit of the Office of the State Appellate Defender. Kathy currently serves on the Budgeting for Results Commission, the Criminal Justice Information Authority Board, and the Board for the Center for State Policy & Leadership at the University of Illinois Springfield.
At least one Republican, some former primary opponents, a former US Attorney and a Downstate prosecutor who ran a decent congressional campaign (good candidate, wrong district).
Kim Janas has worked in a variety of positions in state government, including as Secretary of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. Formerly, she was an Associate Counsel at the Office of Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton, where she advised the Senate Judiciary and Insurance Committees. Janas was also an Assistant Attorney General in the General Law Bureau under Attorney General Madigan and a Staff Attorney at the Legislative Reference Bureau. Most recently, Janas was the General Counsel for the Illinois State Medical Society and ISMIE Mutual Insurance Company. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois College of Law and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Adam Braun is Of Counsel at Greenberg Traurig LLP, where he has been a member of the Government Law & Policy group since 2012. At Greenberg Traurig he has represented clients before State agencies and the General Assembly. Previously, he served as Deputy Legislative Director and Legislative Counsel to Governor Pat Quinn. Earlier in his career, he worked as Staff Attorney in the Office of the Illinois State Treasurer. Braun chaired the Illinois Holocaust and Genocide Commission from 2011-2014 and was appointed to chair the State Workers Compensation Advisory Board in 2011. He earned his J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law and undergraduate degrees from Columbia University and Jewish Theological Seminary.
Joe Duffy served as Raoul’s campaign manager, leading all statewide efforts through a competitive eight-way primary and general election for attorney general. Previously, Duffy worked with Everytown for Gun Safety in Nevada, where he managed a successful ballot initiative to require background checks on all gun sales. In 2014, he directed Iowa’s Democratic Party coordinated campaign. Duffy has also served as Executive Director of the Missouri Democratic party and worked for President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s reelection, and Organizing for America. A native of Northbrook, Illinois, Duffy holds a Bachelor’s degree in political science from Illinois State University.
Katharine P. Eastvold served as press secretary to Raoul’s campaign for attorney general. Previously, she worked at the Illinois General Assembly in the Office of the Senate President. She has also been a senior account executive at Frontline, an association management firm, serving as the Illinois HomeCare & Hospice Council’s Director of Regulatory and Government Affairs. Eastvold is a graduate of Princeton University and currently attends Loyola University Chicago School of Law.
Those interested in a position with the Office of the Attorney General or in contacting the transition team should email email@example.com.
Two weeks after Election Day, it’s still one of the closest countywide contests in DuPage’s recent history — and it may not be decided any time soon.
Unofficially, just 116 votes separate Democratic challenger Daniel Hebreard and Republican incumbent Joseph Cantore in the race for president of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County.
On the night of the election, unofficial results showed Cantore ahead by more than 3,400 votes. But Hebreard has gained ground since vote-by-mail ballots began coming in, leaving the final result in doubt.
As of Monday night, Hebreard clung to a 116-vote lead with 177,185 votes, around 50.02 percent of the unofficial total. Cantore had 177,069 votes, around 49.98 percent of the unofficial total.
The DuPage County Election Commission counted nearly 300 vote-by-mail ballots on Monday. Suzanne Fahnestock, the commission’s executive director, said Tuesday is the deadline for additional vote-by-mail ballots to arrive.
Also on Tuesday, the commission will complete its review of roughly 1,800 provisional ballots, Fahnestock said. Provisional ballots that are found to be valid then will be counted. [Emphasis added.]
The overwhelming success of the Democrats’ vote-by-mail program is one of the least-covered stories of this election year.
In 1994, the Democrats lost 13 House seats by something like 2,000 votes. Lots of races are won and lost at the margins and the Democrats essentially had the vote-by-mail field to themselves.
So, as the Republicans talk about what they can do differently in 2020, a solid VBM program should be at or near the top of their list.
*** UPDATE *** The Democrat Hebreard ended up winning by 702 votes. County Board Chairman Dan Cronin, by the way, won with just 51.02 percent of the vote.
Creates the Firearms Restraining Order Act. Provides that a petitioner may request an emergency firearms restraining order by filing an affidavit or verified pleading alleging that the respondent poses an immediate and present danger of causing personal injury to himself, herself, or another by having in his or her custody or control, purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm. Provides that the petition shall also describe the type and location of any firearms presently believed by the petitioner to be possessed or controlled by the respondent. Provides that the petitioner may be a family member of the respondent or a law enforcement officer, who files a petition alleging that the respondent poses a danger of causing personal injury to himself, herself, or another by having in his or her custody or control, purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm.
Juan Lopez had threatened women before Monday’s shooting at Mercy Hospital but he never faced criminal charges, according to a review of court records by WGN Investigates.
Lopez’ ex-wife citied “constant infidelity and abuse” when she sought a dissolution of marriage roughly four years ago. “I fear that my safety is in jeopardy” the ex-wife said in a hand-written request for an emergency order of protection. […]
Court records reveal Lopez’ ex-wife was fearful as their marriage ended. “In the last month [Lopez] has slept with pistol under his pillow,” she wrote. She said she was fearful their young child would get his hands on the gun. She also described Lopez pulling a gun on a realtor. In December 2014, she wrote: “He began sending threats via text message to come to my job and cause a scene.” Their marriage ended in 2015.
Nearly five years ago, colleagues said Lopez threatened to shoot-up the Chicago Fire Department training academy after he was fired for “improper conduct,” according to the Chicago Tribune. “He was accused of aggressive and improper conduct toward females at the academy,” Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford told the Tribune. “He was disciplined and terminated.”
Lopez reportedly held a valid firearm owner’s identification card and concealed carry license. He legally purchased at least four guns in the last five years, according to the Tribune.
Lopez could very well have been a candidate for an emergency firearms restraining order back then.
Not that it ever really did, but Illinois no longer has any excuse for not dealing with its pension crisis, given how Arizona has reformed its system. Arizona’s state constitutional pension protection clause was identical to Illinois’ in promising that “benefits shall not be diminished or impaired.” As in Illinois, its courts struck down, as violations of that clause, legislative reforms that would have reduced certain pension benefits.
But this month, Arizona voters passed Proposition 125 to amend the constitution to reduce benefits for two of its major pensions, covering corrections officers and elected officials. In 2016, voters passed Proposition 124 for an amendment to reduce pension benefits for police and firefighters.
The world hasn’t ended in Arizona. The working class hasn’t been destroyed. Pensioners aren’t dumpster diving. Prospects for pensioners actually getting a fair, predictable benefit have improved.
The particulars of the benefit reductions in Arizona aren’t important for now—they mostly addressed cost-of-living increases. Exactly what an Illinois amendment should say and what the resulting reforms should be are a discussion for a different day. The point for now is just that if the state constitution has to be changed to address an otherwise insurmountable pension crisis, then change it.
The actual benefit reductions are almost always “a discussion for another day.”
* Amanda Kass brought up a very valid point last week. How much should pensions be cut for real people?…
* Bad laws are often made during trying times because legislators can get caught up in the emotions of the moment. It goes without saying that a proposal to cut police pensions and survivor benefits wouldn’t go very far on a day like today, regardless of the fiscal need.
But it’s also important to remember that current and future pensioners are not just random entries on a spreadsheet. These are human beings.
…Adding… From the op-ed writer…
Spare us the melodrama. The sooner we get real pension reform, the smaller the haircuts will be and the more fairly it can be done. It's deniers like you, who have delayed reform, who will be held culpable in the end.
First, these are not “haircuts.” You get a haircut at a barber shop. These would be benefit cuts to real Illinoisans, something he still won’t fully admit to. How big do these cuts have to be? And who would see their benefits reduced?
And I’ve never said that the pension systems are in fine shape. That’s a complete fabrication on his part. But that’s what people like him do. Anyone who disagrees in the slightest is a “denier” who will be “held culpable in the end.” Such a tough guy.
When former state GOP leader Pat Brady said President Donald Trump’s rhetoric about women and minorities “hurts” Republicans, some guests at Monday’s City Club event booed. “Whether you like it or not,” Brady told the City Club crowd at Maggiano’s Banquets, “We have to come up with an Illinois strategy that bifurcates us away from the president’s message or we won’t be able to recruit people.”
Monday’s contentious scene is just another indication of how divided the Republican Party is after that blue-ish wave swept Illinois. The event was titled “Illinois GOP: Now What?”
At one point Brady also called out Dan Proft, who runs a right-wing PAC, for funneling $1.2 million to a primary candidate challenging Illinois House Republican leader Jim Durkin—who ultimately won. That kind of financial support could have benefited Erika Harold, Brady said of the GOP attorney general candidate who fell short. Brady wants financial support to carry candidates through the general election. But Proft, also a panelist, disagreed, saying, “Competition produces better goods and services. Primaries are for improving the quality of the caucus and generals are for growing the caucus.”
There was a glimmer of unity. Proft agreed with Brady on the need to do a better job recruiting young people, women and minorities. So now what?
Proft, who backed 22 far-right legislative candidates with money from his Liberty Principles PAC, only won a handful of those districts, where most of the candidates were also incumbents and relied more upon the party’s infrastructure than Proft money. Proft said Monday that he nearly stepped away from the election cycle back in August when he first saw polling evidence of a Blue Wave.
“I’ll tell you something i haven’t said publicly: I looked at these races…that my little group supported pre-Labor Day,” Proft said. “And the numbers I saw coming from suburban races — I had a conversation internally with our group: “should we sit this election out?” Because they were that bad.”
Proft didn’t end up pulling his support, but acknowledged he did not do particularly well on Election Day. However, Proft said he wasn’t about to change his methods. […]
“If these two sides can constantly focus on what the real opposition is, and that should be the Democrats — look at what they’ve done to the state, you don’t need me to go through all the numbers,” McQueary said. “That should be the focus of every conversation that these two gentlemen have and party should have going forward.”
State Republicans took a shellacking in the midterms. Former state chairman Pat Brady told the City Club it’s in part because they were out-organized by the Democrats on the fundamentals, like getting out the early vote.
“Listen, I’m not using this as an excuse at all, but they had $171 million to play with. They had gold-plated everything. It was something none of us has ever seen, but the reality is it’s what we have to face in 2020. That’s what we’re up against.”
The state GOP does have a billionaire – Governor Bruce Rauner – but whether he going to be willing to spend even more millions on organization after his loss remains to be seen.
I just don’t think that much of anything is going to change between now and 2020, when President Trump is likely to be on the ballot for reelection. The suburbs are gonna be brutal yet again for Republicans.
They should focus mostly on Downstate (where the President will help), while doing the best they can to defend suburban incumbents and make an effort at picking off some of the fluke Democratic winners. Start early, work hard and smart and hold Gov. Pritzker to his promise to veto a redistricting map that isn’t fairly drawn and then help make sure his veto isn’t overridden by Democratic super-majorities.
Also, find a way to get Dick Uihlein back on the same page. With Rauner and his checkbook making an exit, these primaries will only drain the resources necessary for the general election.
This week, Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson reported that Chicago police routinely fail to notify the Illinois State Police when they recover a firearm from someone who is a “clear and present danger” to themselves or the public. State law requires such notification within 24 hours.
With that information, the state police could then revoke that person’s FOID — Firearm Owner’s Identification — card because of mental unfitness.
Yet in 37 cases that Ferguson sampled in the last 3 ½ years, that notification never happened.
It’s scary to think that after officers transported someone who had a gun to a mental health facility, as happened in those 37 instances, they failed to take every step possible — and as required by law — to make sure that person’s gun was confiscated and not returned. It’s even scarier to contemplate, given how routinely the police encounter unstable individuals, the hundreds of other times when officers, knowingly or not, have no doubt ignored the law.
To their credit, the Chicago Police Department has responded quickly to Ferguson’s findings, updating orders to clarify when and what officers must do to enforce the mandate. But CPD has not been the only broken link. State police also have fallen short.
We reported back in 2015 that state police were largely ignoring a law requiring that they track guns owned by thousands of people whose FOID cards had been revoked for mental health reasons. A Chicago Tribune report in February 2017 found things hadn’t changed much: State police revoked more than 11,000 FOID cards the previous year, but rarely took guns away as a result.
Fixing this problem needs to be a top priority of the incoming Pritzker administration. And whomever is nominated to run the Illinois State Police needs to be pressed hard on this issue during the Senate confirmation process.
A Chicago police officer and two other people were killed in an attack at a South Side hospital Monday afternoon that sent medical personnel and police scrambling through halls, stairwells and even the nursery in search of victims and the shooter before he was found dead.
Officer Samuel Jimenez, on the force less than two years, was gunned down as he went to the aid of other officers who had been called to Mercy Hospital & Medical Center around 3:20 p.m. about an assault. Jimenez, 28, was married with three small children. He’s the second Chicago police officer killed in the line of duty this year, the most since 2010 when five officers were fatally shot. The first was Near North District Cmdr. Paul Bauer, killed Feb. 13 outside the Thompson Center.
“Those officers that responded today saved a lot of lives,” said Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. “They were heroes because we just don’t know how much damage (the shooter) was prepared to do.”
Police had been called to the hospital after Juan Lopez, 32, confronted emergency room doctor Tamara O’Neal, apparently over a “broken engagement,” sources said. By the time Jimenez and his partner arrived on the scene, Lopez had shot O’Neal repeatedly, standing over her as he fired the last shots, according to police sources and witnesses.
“When they pulled up, they heard the gunshots, and they did what heroic officers always do — they ran toward that gunfire,” Johnson said. “So they weren’t assigned to that particular call, but they went because that’s what we do.”
That’s very true.
* There were some other heroes as well. If you have time today, listen to how the police dispatchers handled this horrible incident. They were calm professionals under pressure who helped focus and organize the police response…