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Thursday, Dec 20, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The 2018 Wordslinger Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Commenter goes to RNUG

RNUG gets my nomination for the best commenter for his in depth knowledge on a variety of topics, but especially his pension expertise, and pension topics continue to dominate this blog. He is also timely and even when others may throw a barb or two his way, he is the model of respectful discourse in this medium of communication that can bring out the worst in the best of us.

RNUG, is the most deserving recipient.

He is an absolute treasure.

* Runner-up is MisterJayEm

As for commentator, we are all here fools, but MrJM is the one who, when we disagree, I check my own reasoning, not his. And what takes most of us 100 words, he gets across in 10.

MrJM received several nominations as did many others. But that one was by far the best because it’s so true. He also received nominations for best Twitter account. It’s really good.

* Honorable mention goes to Sue because of this nomination from her regular sparring partner Honeybear

I’m going to nominate someone who has really stepped up their game this year. Someone whom I disagree with 100% of the time. But in a democracy that’s what I have realized I need probably the most in order to derive the temporary better. I nominate Sue.

She has moved from being annoying to enraging me, which tells me she’s improving and adapting. But the biggest compliment that I can give her is I’ve never wanted to call her a bot. She is consistent in her positions but not so much that she doggedly sticks to the same tired talking points. I hope you get what I’m trying to write. She is a competent and formidable adversary. I am made better for her and I have learned the most from her.

I wrote some pretty fierce stuff at her this year. I don’t regret the content or the tone. What I regret is not seeing a new way forward until just now. I will still wrestle with you but with the pledge and intent to make Illinois and her people a better state. That’s the way forward

But with respect.

My nomination of you, Sue is my pledge of respect to you.

If a single comment could sum up what I want this little website to be, it’s that one.

* The 2018 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Illinois-Centric Twitter Account goes to Illinois Working Together (@IllinoisWorking)…

There was silly content that was funny, but plenty of serious content that he came up with on his own, fact checked, and put out there. For me and for many of the folks who follow this stuff, it made an impact and best Twitter account shouldn’t be just funny memes, but something impactful to people’s thinking. People not only followed him, but learned, and reacted to the races a bit differently. As a guy who hangs on Twitter a bunch, I think that’s rare and Jake deserves the nod.

It wasn’t even close.

* Runner-up goes to Amanda Kass

@Amanda_Kass is not the hero we deserve, but the hero we need. If you want to talk about fact checking before you Tweet it, Amanda is the standard. Statute, administrative rule, procedures, reporting styles - she has them down. She is not throwing stuff out there HOPING it is right. She knows it is, and if she does not she is transparent about it. That is how we solve the pension crisis.

She is indispensable.

* Honorable mention goes to the hero of 2017 Radical Candor….

Created to highlight the deficiencies of the Best Team In America ™ who took over state government following the infamous Purge, RC quickly grabbed the attention of Illinois political circles.

From the day it came online with its insight and wit, RC drove media attention, drove people to truly laugh out loud, and, most importantly, drove Bruce and Diana Rauner crazy.

Rarely does the creation of a twitter account with 2,000 followers push a politician to start a manhunt in order to find out who could possibly be behind it. Of course, not all politicians are Bruce Rauner.

RC did all of that.

Restaurant quality, as Oswego Willy would say.

* And now, per tradition, I will sign off for the holidays with three videos. Suzy Snowflake

* Hardrock, Coco and Joe

* And Frosty the Snowman

That’s it. I’m outta here. Happy holidays to everyone and I’ll see you in a bit!

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“A narrow, jagged death-tunnel”

Thursday, Dec 20, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Background is here if you need it. While there’s some NSFW language in here, Albert Burneko at a DeadSpin publication has a brutal take on Elon Musk’s “loop” idea that Chicago wants to run between downtown and O’Hare

Okay so wait, I think I’m explaining it wrong. Picture this! It’s, it’s, you see, it’s a subway, only instead of trains filled with many dozens or hundreds of people at a time, riding through a grid of large tunnels, in a grand choreographed underground ballet capable of moving tens or hundreds of thousands of riders per hour, it’s … Tesla-brand cars … with their owners and maybe a couple other people … driving at moderate speed … through narrow, bumpy tunnels with no emergency exits. […]

People invented subway trains like 150 years ago, man, you’re saying now. This guy just invented a comically slow-moving conveyor belt for his other company’s cars. Literally the only innovation here is that it’s a worse version of both driving and riding the subway, and only available to people who’ve bought one brand of car. Yes. True. Wait. No. It’s innovative! It’s a solution to the problem of traffic, because now, merely by purchasing a Tesla-brand autonomous electric vehicle and outfitting it with special retractable side-wheels, Tesla owners can bypass gridlock and choose instead to spend their time sitting in the insanely slow-moving line outside of this dumb tunnel, waiting for their turn to go through it, one car at a time.

This isn’t even a good idea for Tesla drivers, you’re saying now. Why would anyone want to make use of this dumb tunnel. We haven’t even really gotten into how even in the press demonstration, it was such an uncomfortable ride that the Washington Post reporter described, in an otherwise not particularly hostile article, as not “an experience you’d tolerate from a public subway service” and which the Los Angeles Times likened to “driving on a dirt road.” Or the danger the stupid aftermarket retractable sideways wheels could pose to other drivers and their ordinary cars if they malfunction. Or the fact that Tesla cars are infamously prone to bursting into flames, which makes them uniquely unsuited to being driven through narrow bumpy tunnels with no room for fire trucks or emergency exits. Or how the planned tunnels are so narrow that even opening a car door inside one looks like a dodgy proposition. Or how even just at the highest conceptual level this is an obviously dumb and pointless idea that even in the absolute best case—which it isn’t presently aiming for—would be redundant to and/or worse than existing rapid-transit rail systems that do not require their riders to own Tesla cars. You’re being a little bit of a jerk right now, to be honest. Why can’t you just get on board with innovation?

* Slate’s Henry Grabar

As hard as it is to imagine such a system in operation, it’s even harder to imagine the network of light-speed elevator shafts that would be required to lift and let down a vehicle every second. Or the ramps required to allow those vehicles to accelerate to join the flow of traffic … or the means of egress in case of an accident … or, or, or. Why are we still talking about this?

There is one arena in which to hold out hope, however: that Musk has made a substantial advance in tunnel technology. He has not fulfilled his promise to tunnel faster—the 6,000-foot tunnel took 18 months to dig, a distance that a state-of-the-art tunnel-boring machine could clear in eight.

But he may have done so at a bargain price: a measly $10 million, he says. But that doesn’t include research, development, or equipment, according to the Los Angeles Times, and it’s not clear if it includes land acquisition or labor. (Musk has been using SpaceX to fund the Boring Company, to the consternation of some of the former company’s investors, according to the Wall Street Journal.)

* My favorite tweet on this topic…


Preckwinkle poll has her leading in first round and runoff

Thursday, Dec 20, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From the Toni Preckwinkle campaign

Our poll finds Toni Preckwinkle currently runs first among the field of mayoral candidates, attracting support from 22 percent of voters. Susana Mendoza (12 percent), Bill Daley (10 percent), and Paul Vallas (10 percent) are locked in a close contest for second place while all other candidates are currently attracting only single-digit support and 19 percent of voters remain undecided. […]

Our poll additionally finds Preckwinkle well positioned in a runoff election and leads both Bill Daley and Susana Mendoza in hypothetical head-to-head match-ups. Preckwinkle leads Daley by an 18-point margin, attracting 49 percent of the vote while Daley attracts 31 percent and 20 percent of voters are undecided. A race against Mendoza proves more competitive but Preckwinkle leads with 42 percent of the vote while 39 percent are [for Mendoza].

Click here for the full memo and methodology.

The big takeaway for me is that yesterday’s poll and today’s show the most competitive runoff race is between Preckwinkle and Mendoza. There’s still plenty of time for someone to catch fire from below or someone to flame out from above. Bill Daley’s millions in campaign cash may very well help him make a run of it. John Kass, however, thinks Preckwinkle, Mendoza and Daley should all get out of the race because reasons.

Monica Trevino from the Preckwinkle campaign…

The campaign is encouraged by the early polling results that demonstrate the broad base of support for Toni Preckwinkle. Chicagoans clearly recognize Toni’s strong record of standing up to the Good Old Boys Club and fighting for change. We are working to carry our momentum forward and bring the change that Chicago voters want.

* Meanwhile, from a Preckwinkle fundraising e-mail

I’ll cut right to the chase. We have a chance, right now, to help a sex-trafficking victim avoid a life sentence in prison. Her name is Cyntoia Brown. In 2004, as a 16 year old, Cyntoia killed her would-be rapist in self defense. She was a child. And instead of seeing her as a survivor of sex-trafficking, she was criminalized and convicted of first-degree murder, sentenced to life, now is being forced to serve 51 more years before there could be any possibility of release.

And then Preckwinkle goes on to ask for a $3 contribution to her own campaign fund. There’s no action requested on Cyntoia Brown.

* Unsolicited advice: Don’t make slam-dunk predictions. From December 3rd

Burton Odelson, a lawyer for former Chicago schools CEO Paul Vallas, said he didn’t bother to challenge Mendoza’s petitions because “that’s a done deal. She’s going to be way below” the 12,500 minimum.

Former state Sen. Rickey Hendon, the campaign manager for businessman Willie Wilson, agreed.

“They’re going to get her,” he said.

And then there was this doozy.

* The Sun-Times took a look at who circulated petitions for Ald. Ed Burke

Burke’s volunteers included 23 who, in addition to helping to get him on the ballot, collected 1,351 signatures for Gery Chico, a longtime Burke ally who is among the 21 candidates vying to succeed Mayor Rahm Emanuel. […]

Another Burke volunteer, Michael J. Synowiecki, gathered 121 signatures for mayoral candidate Susana Mendoza, who was recently won re-election as Illinois’ state comptroller. In a ceremony performed by Burke’s wife, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, Mendoza and her husband were married at the Burkes’ home in December 2011, a week before they were married by a priest in Joliet.

* And Paul Vallas held a press conference today to go after Bill Daley

Vallas served as Richard M. Daley’s revenue director and budget director before being dispatched to the Chicago Public Schools as CEO in 1995 as part of a dream-team pairing with then school board President Gery Chico.

At one point during that period, Vallas recalled a retreat was held for the mayor’s cabinet.

“The mayor didn’t attend that retreat. Bill Daley ran that whole retreat. He was there. He was like chairman of the board. He’s been his brother’s closest adviser for decades so, who are we trying to kid?” Vallas said.

“I don’t think there has been any major decisions that have been made in this city that Bill hasn’t had some influence on.”

* Related…

* Daley starts the ball rolling on a series of televised mayoral debates

* Most volunteers who got signatures for embattled Ald. Burke can’t vote for him

* All seven candidates challenging incumbent Ald. Jason Ervin were bounced from the 28th Ward ballot in 2015. This time, four candidates face challenges — could it happen again?


*** UPDATED x1 *** Dan Hynes, Christian Mitchell, Jesse Ruiz will serve as deputy governors in Pritzker administration

Thursday, Dec 20, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

Today, Governor-elect JB Pritzker and Lieutenant Governor-elect Juliana Stratton made the following personnel announcements for their incoming administration:

Dan Hynes will serve as Deputy Governor. Hynes currently serves as a senior adviser to the transition committee and as a senior executive at UBS Asset Management in Chicago, following a distinguished 12-year career in public service as the Comptroller for the State of Illinois. Hynes was elected Comptroller in 1998 as the youngest state constitutional officer since World War II. He was re-elected in 2002 and 2006 by wide margins. In 2011, President Barack Obama named Hynes as the United States Observer to the International Fund for Ireland, which makes investments in Northern Ireland for the purpose of promoting peace and stability in the region. Hynes also serves as a member of the Democratic National Committee. He received his Juris Doctor from the Loyola University School of Law and Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Notre Dame.

Christian Mitchell will serve as Deputy Governor. Mitchell currently serves as a senior adviser to the transition committee, state representative of the 26th District, and executive director of the Democratic Party of Illinois. Mitchell began his career as a community organizer on the south side of Chicago before entering politics. He served as a deputy field director on Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s re-election campaign and was Midwest Paid Media and Polling Director for President Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012. He has consulted for state assembly, city council, and congressional races across the country and was a senior adviser to U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth’s successful 2016 race. Before being elected to office, Mitchell also served on the senior staff for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy Analysis from the University of Chicago and is pursuing a Juris Doctor from the Loyola University School of Law.

Jesse Ruiz will serve as Deputy Governor. Ruiz currently serves as counsel to the transition committee and is a partner in the Corporate & Securities Group of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP and a Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago Law School. Throughout his career, Jesse has also dedicated time to public service. He currently serves as the President of the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners and as a Commissioner on the Public Building Commission. He has also served as Vice President of the Chicago Board of Education, Interim CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education, Commissioner on the U.S. Department of Education Equity and Excellence Commission, Commissioner on the Illinois Supreme Court Character and Fitness Committee, and Commissioner on the Chicago Public Schools Desegregation Monitoring Commission. Jesse received his Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago Law School, where he served as an editor of the University of Chicago Law School Roundtable. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Nikki Budzinski will serve as Senior Adviser. Budzinski currently serves as transition director and previously served as senior adviser to the JB Pritzker for Governor campaign. Budzinski led JB Pritzker’s exploratory effort for Governor and advised the campaign on political strategy, messaging, and outreach. From 2015 to 2016, she served as the labor campaign director on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. Previously, Budzinski worked in the labor movement for ten years in Washington, D.C., working for the Laborers International Union of North America, International Association of Fire Fighters, and United Food and Commercial Workers Unions. From 1999 to 2004, Budzinski served numerous roles in the Office of the Comptroller in Springfield. Budzinski is a Peoria native and received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Alexis Sturm will serve as Director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB). Sturm has over 20 years of experience in Springfield working on state fiscal policy, debt management, and administration. She currently serves as the director of cash management and bond reporting for Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza. Sturm previously served in the administrations of three Republican governors and Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka. From 2015 to 2017, she served as chief of staff and deputy director for debt, capital, and revenue in Gov. Rauner’s GOMB. From 2004 to 2015, Sturm served as director of research and fiscal reporting and senior fiscal advisor for Comptrollers Hynes, Topinka and Munger. Under three governors’ administrations from 1997 to 2004, she worked in senior roles in debt management, revenue and economic analysis after beginning her state government career as a Dunn Fellow in 1997. She grew up in Carbondale, received her Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Miami University and a Master of Arts in Economics from Washington University in St. Louis.

Erin Guthrie will serve as Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO). Guthrie currently serves as the regional general manager for Uber Midwest in Chicago where she partners with cities and regulators to create safe, positive experiences for customers and residents. From 2013 to 2017, she was a client engagement manager and partnership portfolio manager at McKinsey and Company in Chicago. Previously, Guthrie worked as a product manager (MBA intern) at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, as an account executive at 4INFO and as a business development manager at Nokia in San Francisco. She received her MBA from the University of Michigan Stephen M. Ross School of Business and Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy from Stanford University. Erin lives in Wicker Park with her husband and son.

Additional personnel announcements will be made on a rolling basis.

Budzinski is tops in my book and she’s doing a good job on the transition. Sturm’s experience should serve her well at GOMB. I don’t know much about Guthrie.

Your thoughts?

*** UPDATE *** From Tim Nuding, who ran the Senate Republican appropriations staff, was chief of staff to the Senate Republican Leader and then was director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget…


Just wanted to weigh in on Alexis Sturm since I worked with her. She’s fantastic. One of the best and brightest people I’ve ever worked with. Great pick by JB.

…Adding… I think they did good…

I’m told she was also one of Steve Schnorf’s favorites.


Where do we rank nationally?

Thursday, Dec 20, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* A new report by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability takes a look at where we stand nationally on various metrics. I’m going to skip things like state taxation and most state spending because the income tax rates have risen since the numbers were compiled and a lot of state spending was curtailed during the impasse, so state support for things like higher education crashed.

So, let’s start with local government revenue

In 2016 (the most recent year of compiled [US Census] data available), Illinois ranked 5th in the nation in the category of local government tax revenue collected with an amount of $73.3 billion. California was ranked 1st with an amount of $305 billion. On a per-capita basis, Illinois ranked 9th at $5,709 per capita and was the highest ranked state in the Midwest Region. New York was first at $9,849 per capita. A major reason for Illinois’ high rankings in this area is because

The per capita number is the one to focus on here and that’s why I’m highlighting it.

* Now, let’s look at just local property tax collections

(I)n 2016, Illinois ranked 5th in the nation in the amount of property tax revenue collected. It was also the highest ranked state in the Midwest in terms of total dollars. On a per-capita basis, Illinois ranked 7th and was the highest ranked state in this category in the Midwest Region. Illinois’ per-capita rate was $2,115, which was well above the national average of $1,507.

We keep being told that we have the highest or second highest property taxes in the country, but the COGFA report says otherwise. Still, 7th is nothing to be joyful about.

* K-12 was always funded during the impasse

Illinois ranked 7th in the nation in the amount spent on elementary and secondary education in 2016 with an amount of $26.5 billion from state and local governments (property tax revenues). California was the highest ranked state with a total expenditure amount of $76.7 billion. On a per-capita basis, Illinois ranked 15th at $2,067 per capita, which was above the national average of $1,933. Wyoming was the highest ranked state on a per-capita basis at $3,445. Illinois has the second highest per capita ranking in the Midwest, just behind Iowa (ranked 14th)

* Local K-12 funding share

55.3% of Illinois’ portion of education funding in the [2015-2016 school year] came from local sources, 37.5% came from state sources, and 7.2% came from federal sources… Illinois’ local government portion of elementary and secondary education is among the highest in the nation. In the year shown, Illinois ranked 8th in the nation, but has been ranked 1st in this category as recent as the 2007- 2008 school year. Illinois has consistently been ranked above other states in the Midwest region for this category over the last several years.

The report includes this Census Bureau note: “Payments made by the state government into the state’s public school retirement systems on behalf of Illinois school districts are included in the tables that display state totals of elementary- secondary education finances.”

* Police protection

In 2016, Illinois ranked 5th in the nation in the amount of state and local government expenditures for police protection with a total of $5.2 billion. California ranked 1st with a total of $17.6 billion. On a per-capita basis, Illinois ranked 6th in the nation with a value of $406 per capita, above the national average of $338. Illinois was the highest ranked state in the Midwest Region in total dollars and on a per-capita basis. The highest ranked states on a per-capita basis were New York and Alaska, tied at a per- capita value of $500.

* Corrections

Illinois is ranked 12th in the nation in the amount of state and local government expenditures for corrections in 2016, spending $1.9 billion. California ranked 1st spending $15.5 billion. On a per-capita basis, Illinois ranked 49th with a value of $144 per capita, which was well below the national per-capita rate of $241. The highest ranked state on a per-capita basis was Alaska with a per-capita value of $456.

Illinois’ ranking on a per-capita basis has steadily declined over the past two decades. Illinois was ranked 29th in 1997, 38th in 2004, 43rd in 2006, and 46th in 2010, before settling to its current position of 49th. Similar to Illinois’ low ranking, several other states in the Midwest also had relatively low rankings in this category (Indiana: 39th; Ohio: 41st, Missouri: 44th; Iowa: 50th).

* Public welfare programs

In 2016, in the category of state and local government expenditures for public welfare programs, Illinois ranked 7th in the nation in total dollars with a value of $20.2 billion. California was ranked 1st with spending totaling $98.5 billion. Illinois, on a per-capita basis, ranked 34th with a per-capita value of $1,572, which was below the national average of $1,972 per capita. Kentucky (10th) was the highest ranked Midwest Region state with a per-capita value of $2,527. Only Missouri (38th) had a lower ranking than Illinois in the Midwest Region. New York had the highest per-capita ranking overall with a value of $3,307.

* Highways

In 2016, Illinois ranked 6th in the nation in the category of state and local government expenditures for highways with an amount of $9.6 billion. California had the highest total at $17.1 billion. On a per-capita basis, Illinois ranked 13th with a value of $745, which was above the national average of $541. Illinois’ per-capita ranking has increased in recent years from 25th in 2012 to as high as 10th in 2015.

Illinois was the second highest ranked state in the Midwest Region on a per-capita basis behind Iowa (ranked 9th) at $825 per capita.

* State and local debt outstanding

In 2016, Illinois ranked 4th in the nation with a total debt of $151.7 billion. In this category, state and local government debt outstanding includes short-term, long-term, full faith and credit, non-guaranteed and public debt for private purposes. California had the highest level of debt outstanding with $433.8 billion. On a per-capita basis, Illinois ranked 5th with a value of $11,816. This amount was well above the national average of $9,285. Illinois has consistently been the highest ranked state in the Midwest Region in both total dollars and on a per-capita basis

Also, our unemployment rate was 32nd lowest in the country as of September. We were tied at 4.1 percent with 5 other states.


Question of the day: Golden Horseshoe Awards

Thursday, Dec 20, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The 2018 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best “Do-Gooder” Lobbyist goes to Polly Poskin at the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault

She started with an organization that practically had no money, and has grown them into a very important, state wide advocacy network. She will retire at the end of the year, and it will be sad not seeing her around the rail. Her quiet demeanor should not fool anyone, as she has a wealth of knowledge and is great at forging relationships that come in very handy when she needs them.

Polly has been so helpful to me over the decades. We both grew up in Iroquois County and there aren’t that many of us at the Statehouse. I’m gonna miss her.

* The 2018 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Legislative Liaison goes to John Webb at IDFPR

He was with the Treasurer’s office going back to Topinka and moved over to DFPR with the Rauner administration. He worked nonstop in a thankless agency with far from glamorous subject matter and still got results.

Congrats to both of our winners!

* OK, on to our final categories of the year. I’m skipping the best insider award this year because we ran out of time, our nominations in the past have been sporadic and I wanted to add a new category…

* Best Illinois-Centric Twitter Account

* The Wordslinger Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Commenter

The Twitter award can go to either an individual or an entity. Make sure to explain your nominations or they won’t count. And please try to do your best to nominate in both categories.


SB 1226 Endangers Safe Drinking Water & Public Health

Thursday, Dec 20, 2018 - Posted by Advertising Department

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Illinois continues to reel from the fatal outbreak of legionella at the Quincy Veterans’ Home. School and park districts are scrambling to address troubling levels of lead in water lines and drinking fountains. Now the House is considering a radical measure that would eliminate longstanding protections that ensure the proper installation of drinking water systems and would, in so doing, endanger safe drinking water in Illinois.

SB 1226 would put the health of all Illinoisans, especially seniors and children, at risk by effectively deregulating the practice of plumbing for public works projects, commercial construction, and residential buildings over four stories. In addition, it:

    * Would be a regulatory nightmare. Representatives of the Illinois Department of Public Health and Capital Development Board strongly oppose the bill and believe it conflicts with multiple statutes.

    * Would compromise existing energy efficiency standards. The Illinois Environmental Council opposed the bill in committee.

    * Is also opposed by: the Illinois Plumbing, Heating, Cooling Contractors Association; Illinois Mechanical & Specialty Contractors Association; South Suburban Building Officials Association; Central Illinois Chapter of the Illinois Plumbing Education Association; and organizations representing licensed plumbers, registered plumbing contractors, and plumbing inspectors across our state.

At a time of heightened awareness about threats to safe drinking water, the last thing Illinois needs is the creation of a legislative loophole that enables unqualified individuals to work on water supply systems.

Learn more here.

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Shriver Center to Rodney Davis: “Starving people is not an effective job creation program”

Thursday, Dec 20, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release from yesterday…

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) today sent a letter to Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner requesting further information about a waiver the State of Illinois submitted in November to exempt every county except for one from work requirements within the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP).

“The biggest concern I hear right now from employers is the inability to hire for the jobs they have available,” said Davis. “These are good paying jobs that we need taken to keep our economy growing and they’re jobs that help people get out of poverty. I want to make sure our state is doing everything they can to pair those who can work with these jobs. The Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents work requirement was a bipartisan initiative put in place during the Clinton Administration, but it seems states continue to exploit loopholes. Just because the rules allow it, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily what’s best for our our state so I’m hoping to get a little more clarification from Governor Rauner on the need for a waiver.”

Under current law, Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs) who are are enrolled in the SNAP program have been subject to a work requirement since 1996, under President Clinton. This requirement is 80 hours per month of either working or workforce development activities such as SNAP Employment and Training. If that individual does not comply with the work requirement, they are limited to receiving SNAP benefits for 3 months in a 3 year period.

States can apply for a waiver from the time limit for ABAWDs if there are areas within the state that have an unemployment rate of over 10% or if there is a lack of sufficient jobs. In 2001, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) promulgated a final rule establishing that areas could qualify where the unemployment rate was 20% higher than the national average for 24 months. Additionally, the Obama Administration released further guidance in 2016 outlining how states could establish the need for waiver.

Davis fought for stricter work requirements and a nearly $1 billion a year investment in SNAP Employment and Training programs in the most recent farm bill. Unfortunately, these reforms were not included in the final bill.

* I asked the Shriver Center for a response and here’s Dan Lesser…

The Republican Congress just passed a Farm Bill that rejects the harsh work requirement penalties Cong. Davis advocates for. It did so in recognition that starving people is not an effective job creation program.

Gov. Rauner is to be commended for taking action through a waiver request to protect SNAP benefits for 200,000-300,000 Illinoisans, almost of whom face major and sometimes multiple major barriers to working 20 hours per week, including functional illiteracy, undiagnosed mental illness, and a criminal record. The meager SNAP benefits that these single adults receive — $192/month with no other assistance — is hardly enough to function as a work disincentive, as some would have you believe..

Empirical research has shown that the vast majority of men and women who would be cut off SNAP because they are not working at least 20 hours per week want to work. They either aren’t able to work, can’t find a job, can’t maintain 20 hours per week of employment in our unstable, low-wage work market, or are actually meeting the 20 hour requirement but are being cut off through bureaucratic errors.

* But

The Trump administration is setting out to do what this year’s farm bill didn’t: tighten work requirements for millions of Americans who receive federal food assistance. […]

The USDA’s proposed rule would strip states’ ability to issue waivers unless a city or county has an unemployment rate of 7 percent or higher. The waivers would be good for one year and would require the governor to support the request. States would no longer be able to bank their 15 percent exemptions. The new rule also would forbid states from granting waivers for geographic areas larger than a specific jurisdiction. […]

A Brookings Institute study published this summer said more stringent work requirements are likely to hurt those who are already part of the workforce but whose employment is sporadic. […]

“I expect the rule will face significant opposition and legal challenges.” [said the top Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, Debbie Stabenow, of Michigan]

…Adding… Congressman Davis responded to the proposed federal rule…

“Our safety-net is catching people when they fall, but it’s doing little to help them get back on their feet,” said Davis. “We have employers who can’t fill jobs, yet 74 percent of able-bodied adults without dependents on SNAP are not working. The proposed rule restores the intent of the 1996 law, which was passed in a divided government to help more individuals find a good-paying job and become less reliant on government assistance. I still believe greater investment is needed in our employment and training programs like we had in the House-passed farm bill and I want to work with our state to ensure they have what they need to help place people in open jobs.”


Richard Porter was fourth person Rauner asked to run in his place

Thursday, Dec 20, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Shia Kapos

Richard Porter was the fourth person Gov. Bruce Rauner approached to run for governor. The Chicago attorney who also serves as an Illinois RNC National Committeeman told POLITICO it wasn’t so gauche as to be an outright ask.

“I would have described it as more of an aside in a strategy conversation focused more on how he could win (rather) than an offer,” Porter said of their telephone call. Rauner also approached state Sen. Karen McConnaughay, Cubs owner Todd Ricketts and then-GOP attorney general candidate Erika Harold.

Rauner “was in to win,” Porter said. “He was never a quitter. To the contrary. He was always focused on finding the best path to winning. And if that meant he should fall on his sword, then he was willing to do that — and give millions of his money away to boot. I think Rauner’s comments on this have been misunderstood.”

Porter’s referring to political watchers who say Rauner’s courting of others was a desperate act by a candidate who thought he’d lose. But Porter says Rauner just wanted to be assured of a win.



People like Travis Reinking should not have access to firearms

Thursday, Dec 20, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller


The man accused of killing four people in a Nashville Waffle House used to send his father text messages in which he punctuated everyday chitchat with delusional rants.

Police say 29-year-old Travis Reinking was nearly naked, only wearing a green jacket, when he opened fire outside the restaurant on April 22 and then stormed inside. Police have said there would have been far more casualties if it weren’t for a quick-thinking restaurant patron who wrestled the AR-15 rifle away from the gunman.

By the time of the shooting, Reinking’s erratic behavior had already come to the attention of law enforcement, including the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office in Illinois, where he lived part-time.

According to several incident reports, Reinking believed the singer Taylor Swift was stalking and harassing him, including hacking into his computer and phone. He believed the police and his family were part of the conspiracy, and his delusions went back to at least August 2014.

* Text message from May 21, 2017

“These people are still listening and reading stuff on my phone over the internet,” he wrote. Then, “I don’t want to be told gay things inadvertently when I’m trying to learn about something else, and they have been saying stupid stuff like I’m a transsexual, and things like that.”

* May 23, 2017

“These people told me that you guys signed a non disclosure agreement, to hide it from me. If your helping them, please stop no matter what it cost you. I don’t think you fully realize what these people have been doing to me. … These people tried to kill me.” […]

A few weeks later, his father texted him about a job and he texted back, “You’re going to hell for what you are doing. Don’t say nobody warned you. You are the same type of people who nailed Jesus to the cross. They acted out of fear because of what they didn’t understand.”

He was arrested in July by the Secret Service at the White House while trying to get a meeting with the president. The state police subsequently revoked Reinking’s FOID card and his father took possession of his guns from the local police.

* August 1, 2017

[Reinking] sent a long, profanity-laced rant calling his father a “psychopath” and writing, “You are actively assaulting me, with organized crime, and then being dishonest about doing it.”

* Nov. 12, 2017

“Dad, I got a place out of town now, I’m going to need to get my firearms back from you somehow.”

The shooting took place on April 22, 2018.


AG Madigan finds 500 additional allegations of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests and clergy

Thursday, Dec 20, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release from yesterday…

Attorney General Lisa Madigan today released preliminary findings of her ongoing investigation into the Catholic Church. While the six dioceses in Illinois have now publicly identified 185 clergy members as having been “credibly” accused of child sexual abuse, Madigan’s investigation has found that the dioceses have received allegations of sexual abuse of at least 500 additional priests and clergy members in Illinois.

“Because I know that the Church has too often ignored survivors of clergy sexual assault, I want to share the initial findings from our work,” Madigan said. “While the findings are preliminary, they demonstrate the need for and importance of continuing this investigation.”

Madigan began her investigation in August following the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report describing the scope of clergy child sexual abuse in that state. Since then, Madigan and her office have spoken or met with bishops, lawyers and diocesan representatives from all six dioceses in Illinois: the Archdiocese of Chicago, and the dioceses of Belleville, Joliet, Peoria, Rockford and Springfield. Madigan’s office also has reviewed thousands of pages of documents and files from each diocese, including diocesan procedures for receiving and investigating allegations of abuse.

At the outset of the investigation, only two of the dioceses had published a list of clergy whom the diocese had determined were “credibly” accused of sexually abusing children. As a result of the investigation, the four other Illinois dioceses have compiled and published similar lists. Also as a result of Madigan’s office reviewing diocese files, over the past four months, the dioceses have added 45 clergy to the lists of those who have been “credibly” accused, resulting in a total of 185 clergy members who have been publicly identified by the dioceses. Madigan anticipates additional names will be disclosed as her office’s investigation continues.

Based on the preliminary review of the dioceses’ files, Madigan’s office has found that there are at least another 500 clergy that the Illinois dioceses have received allegations about. The investigation has revealed that allegations frequently have not been adequately investigated by the dioceses or not investigated at all. In many cases, the Church failed to notify law enforcement authorities or Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) of allegations of child sexual abuse. Among the common reasons the dioceses have provided for not investigating an allegation is that the priest or clergy member was deceased or had already resigned at the time the allegation of child sexual abuse was first reported to the diocese.

“By choosing not to thoroughly investigate allegations, the Catholic Church has failed in its moral obligation to provide survivors, parishioners and the public a complete and accurate accounting of all sexually inappropriate behavior involving priests in Illinois,” Madigan said. “The failure to investigate also means that the Catholic Church has never made an effort to determine whether the conduct of the accused priests was ignored or covered up by superiors.”

The full report is here.

* Sun-Times

Madigan acknowledged it’s not clear whether all of the newly unearthed allegations are credible.

But she noted that in many instances the church did very little to try to determine their validity.

“If they had an excuse not to investigate” a sex abuse claim internally, “they took it,” Madigan said.

“The Catholic church, they should have never been in a position to police themselves.”

* Tribune

In a prepared statement, Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich acknowledged that victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests continue to live with the pain. He said the archdiocese has been looking into the issue of sexual abuse since at least 1991, when then-Cardinal Joseph Bernardin formed a special commission. He also cited the archdiocese’s Office for the Protection of Children and Youth as a way it has tried to help survivors.

“I want to express again the profound regret of the whole church for our failures to address the scourge of clerical sexual abuse,” Cupich said in the statement. “It is the courage of the victim-survivors that has shed purifying light on this dark chapter in church history.” […]

William Kunkel, the general counsel for the Archdiocese of Chicago, said he doesn’t anticipate the public list of Chicago-area priests with credible allegations of abuse to grow. The archdiocese has no immediate plans to review past allegations — some of which go back decades — because it has already reported past allegations to prosecutors in Cook and Lake counties, Kunkel said. In cases involving a priest who has died, children are no longer at risk, Kunkel said.

“We expect to add no further names at this point. We think the list is a complete list of all priests, of all clergy who have worked in the archdiocese who have substantiated claims,” Kunkel said.

* WaPo

Some state Catholic leaders, under siege during a year of global scandal over bishops’ handling of abuse cases, pushed back. The crux of Madigan’s announcement was unfair and “false,” said William Kunkel, counsel for the Chicago archdiocese.

“The idea that clergy sexual abuse of minors is more extensive than [we] reported is just false,” he said.

“We don’t see lawyers, doctors, schools publishing lists like this,” he said of allegations not found to be reasonably credible. “It’s not fair to put out a list of people accused, any more than it would be fair to put out a list of accused reporters.”

The full archdiocese response, along with others, is here.

* AP

The Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests is criticizing the Illinois Catholic church for its handling of allegations of clergy sexual abuse.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan reported Wednesday that her investigation has found as many as 690 allegations of abuse by Catholic clergy. Illinois six dioceses have reported they found 185.

Zach Hiner is executive director of SNAP. He says Madigan’s finding is why SNAP wants independent investigations by outside groups of priest abuse. He says only when Madigan began her investigation did the Illinois dioceses disclose that they were aware of 45 additional undisclosed clergy who had credible allegations against them.

Hiner says he wants every state to conduct similar investigations and wants the Justice Department to make inquiries as well.


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