When Illinois was applying for statehood, the borders had to be clearly defined, Wheeler said. An initial application had the northern border about 50 miles south of where it is now, which would have put what now is Chicago and the Lake Michigan coastline outside the state, he said.
Nathaniel Pope, the Illinois territory’s delegate in Congress, saw opportunity in moving the border north to include the lead-rich mines of Galena, as well as waterway access. He redrew the state, Wheeler said.
“He knew access to Lake Michigan was profound,” he said. “If (the border) wouldn’t have been moved … the state would’ve developed so much differently.”
The population in the northern part of the state (and Chicago) with its access to other parts of the country through Lake Michigan and connecting waterways is due to that shift in boundaries, Wheeler said.
The fix was orchestrated by Nathaniel Pope, Illinois’ congressional representative when it was not yet a state. His nephew Daniel P. Cook was a newspaper publisher and a leader in the movement for statehood. Cook County would be posthumously named for him, though he probably never set foot there.
Cook got the honor because he used his paper to lobby members of the local legislature to pass a resolution asking that Illinois become a state. It was sent to Washington, where Pope was in a good position to shepherd it through Congress. He was on the committee that considered Illinois’ application for statehood.
But Cook and Pope had a problem. Illinois didn’t meet the requirements for statehood.
A territory was supposed to have 60,000 inhabitants before being bumped up, and Illinois was a thinly populated slice of the western frontier. There was a loophole: Congress could set a lower bar, and Pope persuaded his fellow legislators to grant Illinois that exemption. Pope seems to have claimed there were 40,000 Illinoisans, though a special census could only find 34,620 of them. And even that number might have been inflated by counting migrants who were just passing through Illinois on their way farther West.
In an effort to protect the privacy and reputation of individuals in Illinois, state Rep. La Shawn K. Ford, D-Chicago, has introduced a measure that will allow people with low-level charges to see their day in court before their police photograph or mug shot is posted online.
“In our communities, too many people are falsely arrested and later have charges against them dropped. Posting their arrest photo online creates a false narrative and paints these individuals as criminals, even if they are never proven guilty,” said Ford. “An online mug shot of an innocent person can ruin a person’s life and destroy families. This practice is unfair and unjust, and must be changed.”
Ford introduced House Bill 5998 on Thursday. This corrective measure will make it unlawful for a mug shot to be shared publicly unless an individual is convicted, providing privacy for innocent individuals as they navigate the criminal justice system. The bill also works retroactively and would require current mug shots to be taken down if a person was not guilty or had their charges dropped. There is also a caveat in the legislation that would require websites to take down photos of people who provide an order to expunge or seal their criminal information.
“This measure allows people to truly be innocent until proven guilty, and not simply tried in the court of public opinion,” said Ford. “Information posted online can be accessed by millions of people instantly and once it is on the internet it can be captured and used forever. This history can cause huge hardships on innocent individuals who are searching for employment, housing, and many other necessary things in life. This legislation will prevent people from continually facing discrimination for a crime that they did not commit.”
* The Question: Agree or disagree with the sponsor? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please…
U.S. District Court Judge Jorge Alonso today appointed a special master to oversee the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services’ implementation of the BH v. Walker consent decree. The ACLU of Illinois requested the court take this action back in June, and now the Court has accepted the ACLU recommendation.
The parties were in court today to address the crisis of Chicago Lakeshore Hospital, where patients, including children, have made allegations of sexual assault and abuse. This follows other well-documented problems plaguing DCFS, including children remaining in psychiatric hospitals beyond medical necessity, facility closures due to inadequate funding, and a growing intake in response to the ongoing opioid epidemic.
“It’s been apparent to us for a long time that the Illinois child welfare system is in crisis. The child welfare system is charged with stepping in to keep children and youth safe and stable when there are allegations of abuse or neglect, and to work expeditiously to address the child’s trauma, and either stabilize the family so they can be reunified, or identify a permanent loving home for that child,” said Andrea Durbin, Chief Executive Officer of the Illinois Collaboration on Youth. “For the past 20 years, we have seen a systematic disinvestment in the child welfare system that has led to this crisis today. The State of Illinois has done little to turn this around, refusing to provide adequate resources to support the most basic levels of service. As a result, children and youth languish in care, and Illinois ranks worst in the nation for permanency rates.”
“The situation is not sustainable. Illinois has a legal responsibility to address the complex needs of children who have suffered trauma, abuse, and neglect, and today the Court recognized that extreme measures are needed to ensure that children and youth receive the services they deserve,” Durbin added.
ICOY providers stand ready to assist in rebuilding the Illinois child welfare system so that children and youth are safe, healthy, and living with loving families that are able to care for them.
Also, Illinois has more than just a “legal responsibility to address the complex needs of children who have suffered trauma, abuse, and neglect.” It has an absolute moral responsibility. These are some of the most vulnerable people in our state.
Today, Governor-elect JB Pritzker announced the formation and members of the transition’s Restorative Justice and Safe Communities Committee at Safer Foundation, one of the nation’s largest nonprofit organizations that provides employment, educational, and supportive services for individuals with criminal records.
The committee is the eighth of several working groups of the transition made up of subject-matter experts who will advise and guide the incoming Pritzker-Stratton administration. The Restorative Justice and Safe Communities Committee will be chaired by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, and Congresswoman Robin Kelly and consist of 42 members.
“Across our country – including here in Illinois – our criminal justice system is broken, and throughout the campaign, I listened to Illinoisans impacted by this broken system and witnessed how it’s harmed communities,” said Governor-elect JB Pritzker. “If we’re committed to economic justice, let’s be committed to criminal justice reform and public safety. These problems are not separate from each other. They’re intertwined with each other. It’s time to bring real prosperity to every community, tear down the barriers that block people from opportunity, and move away from a system of imprisonment and build a true system of justice.”
“A core promise of our campaign was the creation of the Office of Criminal Justice Reform and Economic Opportunity,” said Lieutenant Governor-elect Juliana Stratton. “It will build a system of justice that reflects the values of Illinois and listens to the people of Illinois. That’s a system that diverts youth and adults from incarceration in the first place, a system that modernizes sentencing, a system that encourages rehabilitation, and a system that works to reduce gun violence and creates economic opportunity. I know we can achieve meaningful, lasting progress and opportunity and justice that we all believe in – but only if we act together.”
“The state of Illinois needs to reimagine our criminal justice system,” said Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. “This committee will work to challenge and transform the ways our state deals with systemic issues that leave communities of color behind. I look forward to JB and Juliana’s leadership statewide to address gun violence and a more holistic approach to public safety.”
“It’s no secret that Illinois’ criminal justice system has failed communities across our state, and it’s time to fix it,” said state Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth. “We can start by making our state agencies more accountable to the people they serve, and we can build collaboration across agencies to bring interconnected services into communities that need them most.”
“Governor-elect Pritzker and Lieutenant Governor-elect Stratton are ready to reinvent our criminal justice system so every Illinoisan has a chance to reach their full potential,” said Congresswoman Robin Kelly. “They recognize that gun violence is a public health epidemic and have real prevention and intervention plans that will keep our communities safe.”
RESTORATIVE JUSTICE AND SAFE COMMUNITIES COMMITTEE MEMBERS
Kim Foxx co-chairs the transition’s Restorative Justice and Safe Communities Committee and 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 focused on rebuilding the public trust, promoting transparency, and being proactive in making all communities safe. During her first two years in office, Foxx has revamped the office’s Conviction Integrity Unit, resulting in overturned convictions in over 60 cases, led bond reform efforts, and prioritized resources away from low-level offenders. 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.
Jehan Gordon-Booth co-chairs the transition’s Restorative Justice and Safe Communities Committee and serves as state representative for Illinois’ 92nd district. In 2014, Gordon-Booth and her husband, Derrick, lost their son, DJ, to gun violence. Two years later, she introduced and passed the “Neighborhood Safety Act” — the most comprehensive and impactful criminal justice bill in Illinois history. The law aimed to address over incarceration and the needs of crime victims by eliminating over 1,000 mandatory minimums and expanding judicial discretion, incentivizing rehabilitation for inmates and establishing trauma recovery centers for victims of crime. She is the first African-Americanwoman ever elected to the Illinois legislature from Central Illinois, the youngest woman to serve in leadership in the House and is a 2013 Edgar Fellow.
Robin Kelly co-chairs the transition’s Restorative Justice and Safe Communities Committee and serves as congresswoman for Illinois’ 2nd district. Since being elected in 2013, she has worked to expand economic opportunity, community wellness, and public safety across the state, championing numerous initiatives to generate job growth, reduce health disparities, and end gun violence. A staunch champion of common-sense gun reforms and responsible community policing, Congresswoman Kelly is a co-chair of the Congressional Gun Violence Prevention Taskforce, was tapped to sit on the House Task Force on Community-Police Relations and is the author of the 2014 Kelly Report on Gun Violence in America, the first-ever Congressional analysis of the nation’s gun violence epidemic that offers a blueprint for ending the crisis.
Phillip Andrew, Director of Violence Prevention, Archdiocese of Chicago
Brian Asbell, Sheriff, Peoria County
Charles Bachtell, CEO and Co-Founder, Cresco Labs
Kathy Bankhead, Ombudsperson, Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice
Deanne Benos, Former Assistant Director, Illinois Department of Corrections
Walter Burnett, Alderman, City of Chicago
Annalise Buth, M.R. Bauer Foundation Fellow, Center on Negotiation and Mediation at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law
Kelly Cassidy, State Representative, Illinois General Assembly
Kahalah Clay, Circuit Clerk, St. Clair County
Colleen Daley, Executive Director, Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence
Victor B. Dickson, President and CEO, Safer Foundation
Arne Duncan, Managing Partner, Emerson Collective
Michael Frerichs, Treasurer, State of Illinois
Dr. Nneka Jones Tapia, Leader in Residence, Chicago Beyond
The David Lynch Foundation is working with schools, community organizations, partner foundations and Chicago leaders to:
Improve school climate and academic outcomes
Bring the healing effects of the [Transcendental Meditation] technique to mothers and their families who have lost loved ones to violence
Bring the benefits of the TM technique to non-custodial African American fathers, to better help them connect with their children
Heal the trauma and side effects of PTSD among veterans
Help our youth in juvenile detention centers
New numbers Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that drug overdoses killed more than 70,000 Americans in 2017, a record. […]
Since 2013, the number of overdose deaths associated with fentanyls and similar drugs has grown to more than 28,000, from 3,000. Deaths involving fentanyls increased more than 45 percent in 2017 alone. […]
The recent increases in drug overdose deaths have been so steep that they have contributed to reductions in the country’s life expectancy over the last three years, a pattern unprecedented since World War II. Life expectancy at birth has fallen by nearly four months, and drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for adults under 55. […]
The trends in overdose deaths vary widely across the country. The epidemic has been strongest in Northeast, Midwest and mid-Atlantic states. In the West, where heroin is much less likely to be mixed with fentanyls, overdose rates are far lower. Data from the C.D.C. indicate that a state’s overdose trend closely tracks the number of fentanyl-related deaths.
Despite the sharp recent increases in drug-related deaths, some early signs suggest that 2017 could be the peak of the overdose epidemic. Preliminary C.D.C. data show death rates leveling off nationally in the early months of this year, though there is still a lot of local variation. Several states and cities have embarked on ambitious public health programs to reduce the deadliness of drug use and connect more drug users with treatment, and some of those changes may be bearing fruit, for instance in Dayton, Ohio, where local officials have worked hard to push down the overdose rate. And in a ruling with implications for prisons and jails nationwide, a federal judge in Massachusetts this week ordered a jail to offer an addicted man access to methadone.
Rauner also complained about a bill that says people entering medical facilities like nursing homes are presumed to be eligible for Medicaid benefits until the state determines otherwise.
“That has the likelihood of costing tens of millions and potentially hundreds of millions of dollars that cannot be recouped,” Rauner said. “It is a huge mistake on the part of the General Assembly.”
Rauner had proposed changes to the bill that he said would help control costs. However, the House and Senate voted to reject those changes without any dissenting votes.
Lawmakers passed the bill in the first place because the state is far behind in determining if someone is eligible for Medicaid assistance. They were concerned that nursing homes were assuming costs for patients who should have been covered by Medicaid but weren’t because the state was behind in its work.
Since taking office, Comptroller Mendoza, as the state’s chief fiscal officer, has prioritized payments to programs serving the state’s most vulnerable populations, including the roughly 55,000 Medicaid long-term care (LTC) program participants, many of whom reside in nursing homes and supportive living and hospice care facilities.
But now the failure to process millions of dollars in bills for critical services and a spike in enrollment delays is threatening care providers’ ability to cover basic costs like medicine, food, and payroll, Comptroller Mendoza said. […]
The Comptroller’s report, which uses Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) data, found that the number of pending Medicaid eligibility determinations for LTC over 90-days-old rose 143 percent between December 2017 and May 2018. HFS has reported it can only process 60 percent of new, incoming applications in a timely manner and, as of the end of last month, there were 16,378 pending admissions. According to the Associated Press, the estimated cost of these pending admissions is up to $300 million.
These problems are occurring at the same time the Rauner Administration continues to dump tax dollars into a failed technology solution meant to streamline Medicaid eligibility processes. The state has committed $288 million to Deloitte, the global consulting firm, for an Integrated Eligibility System (IES) to modernize enrollment in benefit programs like LTC or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps.
HB 4771 enshrines into law the decision made in Koss v. Norwood, which requires the State to grant “provisional eligibility status to any applicant whose application is more than 46 days old.” Additionally, the bill requires the Department of Healthcare and Family Services to submit a voucher to the Office of the Comptroller within 10 business days of being granted provisional eligibility.
As noted above, the bill unanimously passed both chambers and then the governor’s veto was overridden without dissent. It had bipartisan sponsors, including Republicans with experience dealing with Medicaid issues.
The GA stepped in to fix something because Rauner couldn’t or wouldn’t. Legislative fixes opposed by the executive are never optimal. But they become necessary in these sorts of situations. And the time to influence legislation is during the spring session, not with a long amendatory veto in August.
Federal agents mysteriously raided a former Trump attorney’s office: what we know - Ed Burke represented Trump on property tax issues between 2006 and 2018
* Experienced in-town reporter…
The national media narrative is interesting. We have it on multiple sources that today's FBI raid is not related to the work Burke did for Trump. Purely focused on his role as alderman and chair of City Council's Finance Committee https://t.co/cNxvyG0edW
Nationally, media outlets and websites were quick to note that Burke once served as the attorney who appealed property taxes on behalf of President Donald Trump’s Chicago tower before cutting those ties earlier this year. And the raids on Burke’s office came on the same day the president’s former attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about a Trump project in Moscow as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
The timing of that development and the raid on Burke’s offices led to rampant speculation that the searches were related to work Burke’s law firm did for Trump. The Burke investigation, however, was being conducted in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago, not Mueller’s office, said Joseph Fitzpatrick, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney John Lausch.
Authorities did not search Burke’s law office Thursday, a law enforcement source told the Chicago Tribune. The investigation involves recent allegations and no arrests were made or are imminent, according to the source.
“For the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office to be executing search warrants at his government offices, that had to be approved at a very high level of the Department of Justice in Washington. This is not something you do on a notion,” [mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot, a Burke nemesis and former federal prosecutor] said.
“A magistrate judge had to sign off on the particulars of the search warrant to show there was a credible allegation that a federal crime was committed and that evidence of that federal crime would be found in these locations. That means this is a very, very serious matter.”
Lightfoot predicted that there would be “a very bare bones charging document, probably a criminal complaint” issued relatively soon. A search warrant laying out the probable cause and an inventory of items taken, is likely to come later after all of it is presented to a grand jury, she said.
“It doesn’t always happen that way. … Sometimes search warrants are issued and nobody gets charged. But it would surprise me if that happened here,” she said.
“This is a very high-profile elected official. A search of his government offices very close to an election, which they would be mindful of and the consequences of that. This is not a nothing. This is a very serious action.”
It’s the way the feds went about it that makes me so curious. This was a very public raid. They didn’t go the quiet subpoena route like they did in 2012, when a grand jury subpoenaed records from Burke. This time, they made their presence known. When they seized Brown’s phone, they just quietly showed up at her home with a warrant. They didn’t put brown paper over her office windows and dispatch a legion of federales in full view of reporters.
Burke has been in office for nearly 50 years and is the powerful chairman of the Finance Committee, which oversees the administration of the $100 million Workers Compensation Fund for city workers injured on the job.
In 2012, the City Inspector General sought to review the records, but was rebuffed by Burke. The Legislative Inspector General, which oversees the City Council, then tried to intervene. […]
The statute of limitations for any corruption charges that could stem from that investigation is five years. But a source familiar with these kinds of cases said if the feds can show in an investigation that there are continuing crimes, the statute runs from the last crime.
Thursday’s federal search warrants also come a few months after a federal lawsuit was filed in Chicago challenging the legality of Burke’s control of city workers’ compensation and alleging that the South Side alderman commands a dozens-strong patronage army under the cover of his Finance Committee. The suit, filed by several former and injured city employees, claims that Burke falsifies his committee budget, understates his staff size and hides information from the public. According to an amended complaint filed this month, Burke allegedly hires unqualified employees who have “worked as a dog groomer, dog walker, hairstylist, waitress, and other jobs unrelated to the administration of Workers’ Compensation.”
Oddly, there was a scheduled status hearing on the lawsuit in federal court at the same time the raids were underway in Ald. Burke’s City Hall and ward offices. Attorney Michael Greco, who represents the plaintiffs in the case, said he was “curious about the document raids” but had no information on them or comment.
The raids happened as Burke’s wife, Ann Burke, was being sworn in for another term on the Illinois Supreme Court. Mariotti thinks that is not mere coincidence. […]
“What I think is interesting is the timing of this was the day that his wife was getting sworn in. It seems like a very good day to conduct a search if you want to be able to talk with (Burke’s) employees without him being around.”
As FBI agents rummaged through his offices, the alderman attended a luncheon at the Chicago Yacht Club celebrating his wife, Anne Burke, who on Thursday was sworn into her second 10-year term on the Illinois Supreme Court.
The Mendoza campaign may have taken down the page but here’s a screengrab from earlier. “She calls fellow Democrats Ed Burke…and Mike Madigan political mentors…” pic.twitter.com/iKtDAi16uR
Susana Mendoza is taking a long-planned family vacation next week. A source close to the campaign says Mendoza and her husband didn’t have the heart to cancel the trip they planned with their 6-year-old son—a trip that was in the works long before Mendoza thought she’d be running for mayor.
“Long-planned.” (Update: I was shown a receipt that clearly indicates she booked that trip months ago. Also, the link has been restored to her website.)
Rauner was asked why he was handily dispatched by Pritzker after one term in office. Instead of answering that question, he issued a warning over Democratic control of state government.
“I am very scared for the people of Illinois. I believe that the folks who put Illinois into a financial quagmire are now back in complete control of the government,” he said. “The policies that have created the financial mess for the state of Illinois are now the policies that will be dominating completely without any resistance whatsoever.”
Contrasting with his call for unity in his postelection concession speech, Rauner on Thursday predicted a future of “deficit spending, tax increasing, overregulating, self-dealing” by Democrats with “no voice pushing back.”
Rauner said Thursday was not the day to discuss whether it was a mistake to have made opposition to House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, a key component of his campaign and that of other Republican candidates. Rauner said simply, “We worked hard and ran the best campaign that we could and we did not prevail.”
Though he criticized Democrats, Rauner also said his own party needs to take a look at itself post-election. When asked who should lead the Illinois Republican Party, Rauner did not give a direct answer.
“Well, we have a chairman, Tim Schneider and a co-chairman,” Rauner said, referring to the newly ousted Cook County Commissioner, whom he handpicked to lead the party, and conservative Lake County GOP Chairman Mark Shaw, who led a quasi-coup of the party leadership in May.
“We have some wonderful elected officials who are Republicans,” the governor continued. “We have major donors and funders who are proud Republicans and I think it’s going to be an appropriate process for the Republican party to do some reflection and some discussion about where we go as a party and where we go as a state and lay out a vision for the future. Clearly, changes are needed. Clearly, improvements are needed.”
As he prepares to leave government, Rauner said he hasn’t talked to Pritzker personally since conceding the election not long after the polls closed on Nov. 6. But he said his staff has worked closely with Pritzker’s transition team to help the incoming Democrat get started.
“My immediate predecessor did the exact opposite,” Rauner said of former Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. “I learned what not to do.”
Yeah. Quinn did not leave office on a particularly noble note.
Despite his stated misgivings about the incoming administration, Rauner said his office is “making every effort to make sure the transition is smooth and very effective. It’s the right thing for the people of Illinois.”
Pritzker’s office agreed that the Rauner administration has been cooperating in making a smooth transition of power.
I spoke with a high-level member of Pritzker’s transition team yesterday and was told the same thing.
Quinn did not attend Rauner’s inauguration in January 2015, but Rauner said he’ll be at Pritzker’s, saying “it’s the appropriate thing to do.” Up until the moments before Rauner was sworn in, Quinn also signed four bills, amendatorily vetoed two, granted 43 clemency petitions and denied 119 and released 102 new appointees to state boards and commissions.
Asked Thursday whether Rauner intended to do any last-minute business like executive orders, the governor laughed and said that “At the moment I don’t foresee that.”
In one of his first acts as governor, Rauner rescinded seven of Quinn’s executive orders signed in the Democrat’s last week in office, alleging the orders “were not wholly motivated by serving in the public’s interest.”
In addressing reporters Thursday, Rauner also spoke out against some pieces of legislation that lawmakers passed over Rauner’s vetoes. In particular, he singled out a bill that would raise the caps on legal payouts for anyone who sues the state.
“Now, the incentive for the trial bar, the plaintiffs bar, to go look for problems, challenge, try to find problems, sue — the risk-reward for them to spend some time proactively suing now that the balance is on the side of, ‘Yeah, go ahead and sue.’”
The push to raise the limit from $100,000 to $2 million came after 11 families sued the state for neglect in the deaths of their loved ones at the Quincy veterans’ home who died during a 2015 Legionnaires’ outbreak. A twelfth lawsuit — filed earlier this year — stemmed from a 2017 Legionnaires’ death at the same home.
“This is going to be a massive invitation for lawsuits,” Rauner said. “Our taxpayers could be on the hook for many millions, hundreds of millions of dollars.” […]
Rauner said the bill was “falsely sold as a Quincy veterans bill” even though it will apply to all lawsuits filed in the Court of Claims.
“I view this as a major sop, a major giveaway to the trial lawyers who are major funders of many legislators’ campaigns,” he said.
He also said the General Assembly should’ve just passed stand-alone legislation that specifically applied to the Quincy veterans home.
*** UPDATE *** Tim McLean at the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association…
Let’s re-visit the outgoing governor’s record on the handling of the Legionnaire’s crises that occurred at the Quincy Veteran’s Home, which caused 14 unnecessary deaths and sickened 70 other residents and staff:
Delay—his administration delayed notification of the outbreak, which denied families access to potential life-saving information about the well-being of their loved ones, and possibly contributed to the illness and death toll.
Deny—The governor repeatedly claimed that “our administration did everything right,” despite documented evidence from industry experts and his own staff that the claim is untrue.
Deflect—The governor tried to blame this tragedy on the weather, on a local river, and on a former director that is now a U.S. Senator from the opposing party.
Veto—instead of finally seizing the opportunity to begin the healing process for the victims’ families, Rauner AV’d this bill, which was a product of bi-partisan agreement with all stakeholders.
The Governor has clearly learned nothing over the four years of his massively failed tenure, and his sour grapes press conference yesterday only further solidifies his dissonance from voters, and the bi-partisan supermajorities that overrode his reckless veto. It was clear from the outset to all parties that this legislation was prompted by the tragedies in Quincy, but would be applicable to claims brought by other victims as well; that issue was fully vetted in negotiations, and was made abundantly clear in floor debate. If the governor felt so strongly that it should have applied only to the Quincy tragedy, why did his AV not reflect that position?
The truth is that Illinois was an outlier (tied for the lowest among all states) for damage caps at the Court of Claims, and the families of our heroes in Quincy would have been denied access to justice as a result of that antiquated law–as would future victims of the state’s negligence. This law rectifies that issue, and gives Illinoisans a reasonable opportunity to pursue justice when they are harmed. Remember, seventeen (over 1/3) of states have no cap at all.
This month, the voters of Illinois roundly rejected Governor Rauner’s slash-and-burn, political hackery approach to governing with a 15-point defeat. Instead of holding rambling press conferences and vilifying his perceived political enemies (which proved to be a failed approach for 4 years), the governor should embark on an apology tour with victims’ families.
To help celebrate National Caring Month, Home Warranty of America and Direct Energy employees from the Buffalo Grove office have given back to the community by holding a coat drive and packaging nutritious meals.
Over the past two months, employees gathered more than 30 coats to be donated to Palatine Assisting Through Hope, or PATH, to help those in need keep warm this winter. PATH’s mission is to provide food, clothing, and other basic needs for families in crisis in the greater Palatine area.
On November 7, employees took a break from the office and spent more than 60 hours collectively packing bags of food at Feed My Starving Children, a nonprofit focused on providing nutritious meals.
* No question today. Sorry. I was working on my Crain’s column and several other things and forgot. Instead, chew on this…
“I’m very scared for the people of Illinois,” @GovRauner says after a question about election night results and overwhelming wave of Democrats coming into state govt, including Gov-Election @JBPritzker
The House voted 62-45 to overturn the “Tobacco 21” veto, but it needed a three-fifths majority of 71 votes to become law. The legislation would have set a minimum age of 21 to buy cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco and nicotine-based products such as e-cigarettes and vaping materials.
The bill didn’t have enough House votes to overcome a veto when it was first passed.
A veto override vote on a measure that proposed regulations for online car rental programs is on hold.
House Deputy Majority Leader Arthur Turner of Chicago skipped the vote on Rauner’s veto of legislation on so-called peer-to-peer car rental apps. It would subject the rental cars to safety rules and tax collection required for rental car companies .
Turner, who sponsored the measure, hopes he can negotiate a deal and present new legislation in January. Critics said the programs allow people to make extra cash by renting their cars and shouldn’t be required to follow the same rules as companies with large fleets.
That bill received 78 votes in the House when it passed. The car-sharing companies really did a number on it.
The issue had sparked a massive lobbying campaign on both sides, with substantial campaign cash beginning to flow. Sponsors claimed they had the votes, but I’m told they agreed to talk peace after House Speaker Mike Madigan sent word that he’d prefer not to proceed with an override now. Beyond that, a couple of key lawmakers who favored an override were not able to attend this week’s session, I’m told.
All it took to give nearly two dozen labor leaders from Chicago a windfall worth millions was a few tweaks to a handful of sentences in the state’s lengthy pension code.
The changes became law with no public debate among state legislators and, more importantly, no cost analysis.
Twenty years later, 23 retired union officials from Chicago stand to collect about $56 million from two ailing city pension funds thanks to the changes, a Tribune/WGN-TV investigation found.
Because the law bases the city pensions on the labor leaders’ union salaries, they are reaping retirement benefits that far outstrip the modest salaries they made as city employees. On average, their pensions are nearly three times higher than what the typical retired city worker receives. […]
Pension experts from around the country say they’ve never heard of such a perk for union leaders. They warn that it not only creates opportunities to scam the system but also robs the city of its ability to control pension costs. The city doesn’t set union salaries, the most important ingredient in determining the size of the leaders’ pensions.
What’s more, none of the labor officials retired in the traditional sense. Even as they collected their inflated city pensions, they held on to their high-paying union jobs. A decade ago, those public pension funds were flush, but they’re now in such deep financial trouble that they threaten to burden taxpayers and dues-paying union workers alike.
The State concedes that a statutory right to union service credit was created but argues that the right is not one entitled to constitutional protection because the framers of the constitution did not intend it to be entitled to such protection. In so arguing, the State merely relies upon the general justification for a public pension system, which is to reward past public service, to provide a form of compensation for past public service, and to encourage continued public service.
We find nothing in the case law, in the text of the pension clause, or in the constitutional debates on the clause that would support the State’s argument that the particular benefit conferred here is not entitled to protection. Kanerva held that the text of the pension clause places no limits on the kind of “benefit” that is protected by the clause so long as the benefit is part of the contractual relationship “derived from membership” in the retirement system. The participants at issue here are members of their retirement systems entirely due to their government employment. Each plaintiff was either working in his public job when the option to earn union service credit was added as a benefit or started public employment and joined the retirement system after the benefit was already in place. The benefit was clearly a “benefit” within the meaning of the pension clause, and the State’s argument must therefore be rejected. […]
(W)e hold that the ambiguous statutory framework prior to the amendment of Public Act 97-651 must be construed as allowing the right to use a union salary from a leave of absence under section 8-226(c) or 11-215(c)(3) to calculate the highest average annual salary. The amendments effected by Public Act 97-651 necessarily changed the law and thereby diminished plaintiffs’ retirement system benefits in violation of the pension-protection clause of the Illinois Constitution. […]
Plaintiffs next raise an issue of statutory construction unrelated to the two constitutional issues resolved above. They argue that the circuit court erred in denying their motion for summary judgment with respect to counts X and XI of their complaint, which sought a declaration that the “any pension plan” language of section 8-226(c)(3) of the Pension Code does not apply to defined contribution plans. In that regard, section 8-226(c)(3) provides that an MEABF member may receive service credit for time spent on a leave of absence working for a local labor organization, provided “the participant does not receive credit in any pension plan established by the local labor organization based on his employment by the organization.” […]
Because the term “pension plan” in section 8-226(c)(3) is ambiguous in this respect, it must be liberally construed in favor of the rights of the pensioners so as to apply to a defined benefit plan only and not to defined contribution plans. See Kanerva, 2014 IL 115811, ¶ 55. Accordingly, we reverse the circuit court and hold that the term “receive credit in any pension plan” as used in section 8-226(c)(3) does not include defined contribution plans.
Gov. Bruce Rauner today asked the Illinois Investment Policy Board (IIPB) to investigate the listing practices of home-sharing company Airbnb to determine if there is a violation of Illinois state law prohibiting investment in companies engaged in boycott, divestment or sanction (BDS) against the Jewish state.
Airbnb Inc., the San Francisco-based online marketplace that its members use to list properties for lodging or other tourism experiences, recently decided to remove all listings in Jewish settlements in the West Bank, a development that Rauner called “abhorrent and discriminatory.”
“We find Airbnb’s decision highly disturbing and we are calling on the company to reverse its West Bank decision,” Rauner said. “We are also looking into ways that we can exert pressure on Airbnb to end its prejudicial policy against the Jewish state.”
“We must not — and will not — remain silent when we detect discrimination of the sort being practiced by Airbnb,” Rauner told the IIPB in a letter released today. “An investigation — and the scrutiny that accompanies it — could impact the behavior of investors around the country if Airbnb follows through with a reported potential public stock offering and these concerning policies remain in place.”
Under Rauner, Illinois became the first state in the nation to pass a law aimed at halting discriminatory business practices against Israel. The country is one of the state’s most important business, education and cultural partners.
It’s simple. Credit unions are member-owned, so any earnings are simply returned in the form of lower loan rates, higher interest on deposits and lower fees. Credit unions create a fair financial alternative for the taxpayers of Illinois. Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives that don’t focus on increasing revenue or paying dividends to outside stockholders. Illinois credit unions are focused on the member-owners we serve. Visit www.asmarterchoice.org to learn more about the benefits of credit union membership.
Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) was elected chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Thursday, beating out Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) and Denny Heck (D-Wash.).
Bustos won 117 votes, compared to 83 for Heck and 32 for DelBene. […]
Bustos dropped out of the assistant leader race to run for the DCCC position. She is slated to succeed DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján (N.M.), who was elected Wednesday to serve as the next assistant leader.
Bustos currently serves as the co-chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee and was the committee’s recruitment vice chairwoman during the 2016 election cycle.
Across Illinois, consumers of every type will benefit from clean energy thanks to the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA).
FEJA’s Illinois Solar for All program will offer affordable solar power to residents who can’t afford solar panels or do not own their own home. Customers who participate in the Illinois Solar for All program will immediately and consistently see lower energy bills and eligible participants pay no upfront costs. Beyond affordability for consumers, Solar for All will support job training and careers in the solar workforce to deliver FEJA programs.
The state of Illinois must build on the success of FEJA and continue to expand this new clean energy economy to every corner of Illinois.
* One of the oldest ploys by interest groups here is to trot out a preacher to use race to make their case for them and the Tribune fell for it hook, line and sinker…
Anti-marijuana forces warned Wednesday that legalization will allow white corporate exploitation of minority customers, comparing its effects to those of alcohol and tobacco.
The Rev. Gregory Seal Livingston of New Hope Baptist Church said that legalization will amount to marijuana companies “pimping” blacks and Hispanics.
“Profit is the motive,” he said. Livingston spoke in downtown Chicago with several other members of Healthy and Productive Illinois, a group that opposes legalization and is supported by Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a national anti-cannabis organization.
Illinois has already decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana, which takes away much of the social justice argument in favor of legalization, said Livingston, who has been active in social justice issues in Chicago.
[Kevin Sabet, head of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which opposes legalization] said decriminalization of marijuana, which took effect in Illinois in 2016, addresses many of the social justice issues.
That sounds familiar.
Look, stopping at decriminalization means the supply and distribution chain will still be run by criminals, some of them violent criminals. We need to dry up these criminals’ revenue source as much as we can in order to get their operations out of neighborhoods.
* The Tribune used some of Rev. Livingston’s more “reasonable” quotes, but conveniently left out his comparison of legalizing marijuana to the use of alcohol “as an instrument of genocide” against Native American people…
Burke’s ward office on the Southwest Side also had the same brown paper taped over its front door with three signs that read, “Office closed.” An officer sitting in a squad car parked behind Burke’s ward office said a search warrant was being executed inside but offered no further details. […]
A law enforcement source told the Chicago Tribune that FBI agents raided Burke’s City Hall office and that the search was ongoing. No arrests were made or are imminent, said the source, who had no details on the nature of the investigation.
Follow-up: Apparently Justice Burke's swearing-in ceremony in the court chambers on the 18th floor of the Bilandic Building were canceled. She was sworn in by Chief Justice Karmeier in her chambers "some time this morning," according to security guards who talked to me.
There was no immediate word on what instigated the raids, but Burke’s influence as chairman of the Finance Committee over the city’s workers’ compensation fund could be a focus. Burke has kept outside oversight of its payouts to a minimum—even outside the purview of the city’s inspector general.
Another area of law-enforcement interest could be reflected by a recent surge in payments to the Internal Revenue Service by one of Burke’s campaign finance committees.
According to filings, Friends of Ed Burke paid nearly $150,000 to the IRS during the three months ended in June. That compared with much more modest sums in earlier periods, including two checks issued for $2,154.80 each and a third for $84 in 2017’s second quarter.
The committee also stepped up its payments to the Illinois Department of Revenue, sending more than $10,000 during the three months ended in June.
Ald. Burke responds to FBI raid: “I’ve been in office for 49 years. I’ve been under investigation in the past. Nothing has ever come of it, and I’ve always cooperated. And I’ll cooperate whatever this investigation is.” @fox32news pic.twitter.com/KQiiSfnGQW
The Illinois House took the rare step Wednesday of erasing from its record a Democratic legislator’s remark suggesting she’d like to infect the water supply of a GOP colleague’s loved ones with “a broth of Legionella.”
Soon after Kifowit read her apology, Breen addressed the controversy, while also urging legislators to act with more “civility” and “decency.”
“Earlier this year, I received a death threat that prompted police protection for my home and family. And my family and I endured a vile, filthy election campaign with $2.5 million spent to falsely connect me to rapists and child molesters. And yesterday, we all listened as a member of this House leveled a heinous death wish on my family.”
Breen said his wife and two adopted sons — ages 2 and 2-months are “the joy of our lives.”
“We know that if the representative had made that statement to me in the parking lot outside or left it on my office phone voicemail, she’d be in custody right now,” Breen said. “But because she made her remarks right here, they were met with applause, instead of handcuffs.”
“This body, this state, is at a tipping point,” Breen said. “We are faced with two paths. We can continue on our current path of worsening threats, and even violence. Or we can make the difficult decision to take the path up, to civility and decency.”
“There certainly needs to be accountability for the conduct we saw yesterday. Otherwise this sort of despicable behavior will become the new standard of what we allow in this chamber. And it will set the bar for acceptable conduct very low for the people of our state,” Breen said.
“In my four years here, I’ve watched this General Assembly avoid the tough decisions needed to divert our state’s government from the path to fiscal ruin. Now, I wonder whether this General Assembly will have the character to divert our state’s politics from the path of moral and ethical ruin.”
The governor is suing the state attorney general and One Illinois to withhold emails on government appointments from the public.
Although he lost his re-election bid Nov. 6, Gov. Bruce Rauner filed suit a week later to fight a binding opinion issued by Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office that 1,783 emails should be released to One Illinois in a Freedom of Information Act case.
The move was unexpected — at least by One Illinois — in that Rauner could have simply ignored the binding opinion issued by the attorney general’s public access counselor and forced One Illinois to file suit to compel enforcement. Instead, he took the initiative in filing — and in spending government money and resources to keep the emails from the public.
According to legal experts, suits against binding opinions in FOIA cases are likely losers, as the public access counselor has already examined and ruled on the issues. Madigan’s office will handle the litigation and press for release of the emails.
If the suit’s not decided by the time Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker is inaugurated Jan. 14, control of it would pass to his administration and he could simply move to release the emails. The Rauner administration would violate several laws if it tried to destroy the emails before he left office. Professor Emeritus Kent Redfield of the University of Illinois at Springfield speculated that Rauner could seek a restraining order that would extend beyond his term in office, but such rulings are rarely granted in these cases.
*** UPDATE *** From the governor’s office…
We’re not suing the AG, we can’t just ignore the opinion.
We’re appealing a binding decision made by the Public Access Counselor.
It’s now law for police in Illinois to certify in a timely manner complaints of abuse or assault filed by illegal immigrants, who can then use such reports in working toward certain citizenship visas.
Gov. Bruce Rauner had vetoed Senate Bill 34, the Voices of Immigrant Communities Empowering Survivors, or VOICES, Act. The Senate passed it over his veto earlier this month. On Wednesday, the House did the same.
State Rep. Litesa Wallace, D-Rockford, who supported the measure, said it will protect immigrants who are crime victims, regardless of how they entered the country.
“This is not an automatic pathway to citizenship, but what it is is empowering individuals in our community who may be undocumented to come forth and talk about crimes that have happened which only moves or serves to make the rest of us, all of us, safer because we’re able to address the crimes these individuals are victims of,” Wallace said.
Illinois State Police said the measure could cost an extra $425,000 for additional staff to process requests within 90 days. There’s also the potential for more lawsuits against state police, the agency said in a fiscal note. It’s unclear how much it could cost local police agencies.
State Rep. Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee, said he was concerned that an illegal immigrant could potentially get special visa priority for merely reporting a crime.
The measure requires Illinois law enforcement to submit the proper paperwork to the feds within 90 days. Whether or not an immigrant crime victim ultimately gets a visa will still be up to those authorities. […]
“It has been layers of difficulty to try to place the protections on people, everyday people, that deserve it,” [Rep. Lisa Hernandez. D-Cicero] said of the legislative effort.
Rauner vetoed the proposal in August in southern Illinois, as he tried to get rural conservatives who back President Donald Trump behind his re-election.
“That ties the hands of law enforcement,” Rauner said at the time. “It can delay deportations that should otherwise occur.”
* JB Pritzker…
“I applaud the House and Senate for overriding the veto of SB 34 and standing up for immigrant families across the state,” said Governor-elect JB Pritzker. “The VOICES Act is critical legislation that protects immigrant survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking and other crimes, and I’m proud to see it enacted into law. Illinois is a welcoming state, and I look forward to serving our 1.8 million immigrant residents as your governor.”
A report from Oregon shows that workers’ compensation costs are falling in Illinois, but a manufacturing group said employers here have yet to see any savings.
The Illinois Trial Lawyers Association heralded a report this week from the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services that ranked Illinois workers’ compensation costs at the 22nd highest in the nation, down from the eighth highest. […]
Illinois Manufacturers’ Association’s Mark Denzler said while the industry group has seen the Oregon report, the state’s employers haven’t seen the savings.
“We talk to companies on a daily basis who actually pay workers’ comp and write the checks for it and they have not seen significant reductions in workers’ compensation costs,” Denzler said.
Love me some Denzler, but show us actual numbers.
*** UPDATE *** With a hat tip to a commenter, these are the premium rates before they dropped from 8th highest to 22nd highest in the nation. You can plainly see premiums were already going down. From the Illinois Department of Insurance…