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Fake news!

Monday, Jan 28, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Chicago Tribune letters to the editor

Pritzker’s plan to boost aides’ salaries unconstitutional

According to the Jan. 12 front-page story “Pritzker personally to bump aides’ pay,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker intends to supplement the state-paid salaries of some of his appointees with funds from “East Jackson Street LLC, an organization Pritzker set up.”

However, Article V, Section 21, of the Illinois Constitution says: “Officers of the Executive Branch shall be paid salaries established by law and shall receive no other compensation for their services.”

It seems Pritzker’s supplemental compensation scheme has serious constitutional problems.

— Dennis M. Dohm, retired circuit judge, Oak Lawn

* Hannah Meisel

Twenty of Pritzker’s deputies will be paid through the LLC and the biggest checks will be cut to the governor-elect’s chief of staff and deputy governors, whose state salaries will not start off as high as some of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s top staff.

Article V, Section 21 of the Illinois Constitution bans “officers of the Executive Branch” from receiving any other compensation for their services, which is generally interpreted to mean the state’s six constitutional officers — the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, comptroller and treasurer. But Section 9 of the executive article does refer to personnel who are nominated by the governor and confirmed by the Senate as “officers,” which by some interpretations would then ban them from receiving extra compensation. But Pritzker’s transition team stipulated that the governor would not offer the pay boost through his LLC to those who must be confirmed by the Senate.

Do better, Tribune editors.


Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police: Top priority is killing homegrown in legalization bill

Monday, Jan 28, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

A draft plan allows people to grow small amounts of marijuana in their homes. The idea is to help marginalized populations get a piece of the pot. […]

Illinois Chiefs of Police Director Ed Wojcicki says he understands the point, but says lax growing rules is just asking for trouble.

“It’s dangerous and we’re not trying to be alarmist. It’s just what’s happened in other states,” said Wojcicki.

He says Colorado law enforcement warned homegrown programs help cartels on the black market thrive. Wojcicki says killing this part of the plan is now their top priority.

“If the bill has home-growns, it’ll make any type of regulation impossible,” said Wojcicki.

The Colorado homegrown law is outlined here.

On the bright side, that means the chiefs are coming to the table with the realization that something is going to pass and they want to leave their stamp on it.

Personally, I don’t care one way or the other. If on the off chance that I ever wanted to partake of a tiny stinkweed nugget, I’d want an expert to provide it. But that’s just me. Some people really want to grow it themselves, like the home-brewers.



Administration given two months to decide fate of impasse appeal

Monday, Jan 28, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Background is here. From AFSCME

Today the Supreme Court entered an order granting “in part” the State’s motion for an extension to decide whether to appeal the appellate court’s finding that Bruce Rauner had wrongly broken off state contract negotiations based on a false claim of impasse. The Court granted an extension to March 29, a month shorter than the additional time requested by the Pritzker Administration.

* Also, remember this?…

* The actual quote

Webb-Gauvin, AFSCME Council 31’s legislative director also laid out what she described as a preliminary wish list for the union’s members.

“We want fair wages that are fair,” she said. “Our members have gone four years without a penny of a pay raise. We want health care that we can afford. We want basic rules of the road for privatization so that public services can’t be outsourced for private profit.”

“Now that we are sitting across the table from a governor who understands and respects the collective bargaining and understands the stability and predictability that a contract settlement would provide — not just to the workers but to people that rely on our service — we are hopeful that we can go to the table and get a contract that is fair to everybody,” she said.


Weak oppo dumps

Monday, Jan 28, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* First

[Susana Mendoza] also took a shot at Bill Daley, a fellow mayoral contender.

Daley was the White House chief of staff in 2011, when the Obama administration was grappling with a regulation in the Affordable Care Act that required religiously affiliated hospitals, charities and universities to provide birth control coverage for employees.

According to news reports, Daley, a lifelong Catholic, organized a meeting with President Barack Obama and then-New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan. Dolan and other Catholic leaders wanted an exemption to the contraceptives mandate.

“Democratic members of Congress who lobbied the White House said they believed that Mr. Obama’s chief of staff, William M. Daley, and his special assistant for religious affairs, Joshua DuBois, favored a broader exemption,” The New York Times reported. They eventually carved out a compromise.

Now Mendoza questions Daley’s commitment to reproductive rights. “You can’t claim to be pro-choice and then try to use your power to cut off access to reproductive choice for women as a chief of staff to the leader of the free world.”

* Response from a Daley campaign comms worker…

* Next

Mayoral contender Susana Mendoza’s own words were used against her Monday as two political allies of Toni Preckwinkle and a man exonerated from death row questioned her record on the death penalty. […]

Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough, state Sen. Robert Peters, D-Chicago, and Nathson Fields, who was cleared of double murder, sought to “set the record straight” about Mendoza’s role in abolishing the death penalty. The three specifically pointed to Mendoza’s claim that she was the deciding vote in overturning capital punishment — a claim that was found to be “mostly false.”

“This is especially concerning for me that she would use this because she had already made herself very clear where she stood on criminal justice issues,” Yarbrough said at the West Loop law offices of Loevy and Loevy.

“She’s no reformer and I really take issue with this whole business of being the 60th vote, like she carried the day.”

The fact check actually found that Mendoza’s claim was “technically correct.”

* Speaking of weak. Here’s a one-minute spot introducing a mostly unknown candidate which displays said candidate’s name on-screen for just a few seconds tops

Don’t do this at home, kids.

* Related…

* With the mayor’s race now up for grabs, who does biz back?: The most likely to gain from that situation is former U.S. Commerce Secretary Bill Daley, who already has far and away the most business backing in the field. But doubts remain that Daley, despite his family name, has enough support to finish in the top two on Feb. 26 and make it to the April runoff election at a time when Chicagoans may be seeking something different in their next mayor.

* Mendoza seeks to reset campaign with ethics plan - After weeks spent under fire for her political ties, the mayoral hopeful brings in Dan Webb to help her refine an anti-corruption plan that includes term limits, a ban on hiring relatives, public campaign financing and more.


Question of the day

Monday, Jan 28, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* SJ-R

The Illinois State Fairgrounds’ Coliseum will now be called “The Coliseum of Champions.”

The Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation on Monday announced the new name, the result of a foundation naming contest open to members of Illinois 4-H, FFA and the Junior Horseman’s Council.

Emma Eathington of the Fairview Huskies 4-H, Elaina Kessler of the Clay City FFA and Kylie Neisler of Country Roots 4-H Club of Montgomery County all submitted the winning entry. They will receive a silver platter of recognition, an Illinois State Fair Mega Pass and be the guests of honor at a grand reopening event.

The Coliseum — built in 1901 and home to horse shows and other events — was closed in 2016 when engineers found it structurally unsafe. It has been out of commission for the last two state fairs.

* The Question: What new name would you give to the Grandstand?


Pritzker: “Reasonable” to review Van Dyke prison sentence

Monday, Jan 28, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From Gov. Pritzker’s media availability today

Q: The attorney general’s office said that it’s going to review the sentence of Jason Van Dyke. Do you think that’s a good idea for him to step in like that and do you think that Van Dyke’s sentence was fair?

A: Well, I think any ruling can be reviewed and I think it’s, there’s nothing wrong with doing that. Um, look, I happen to think that, uh, when someone has been killed, uh, the way that this, uh, you know, murder took place, uh, that, uh, a strong sentence, uh, would have been better than the one that was, uh, that was, uh, put in place here. So, it’s reasonable to review it, but, but I don’t know what the outcome of that review would be.


13th Ward candidate files suit against Speaker Madigan, Ald. Quinn and their political operations

Monday, Jan 28, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From the federal lawsuit of David Krupa v. Marty Quinn, Michael Madigan, et al

This action is the one of David Krupa, a very brave, serious young man who has dared to challenge the Chicago Machine to end the rapacious reign of a corrupt power, only to see just how shockingly corrupt that power can be in defending its ill-gotten power. It also exposes for the public yet another example the vicious conduct that underlies and supports machine politics in Chicago. Those politics must end, and will end if Chicagoans are willing to follow the lead of David Krupa.

No hyperbole there.

* The initial conspiracy

On information and belief, based upon the actual misconduct of Defendants, once Defendants became aware that DAVID intended to run for Alderman in the 13th Ward the Defendants entered into an agreement to engage in a campaign of intimidation, harassment and illegal tactics against DAVID to cause him to withdraw from running for Alderman or else hinder his campaign to the point where he could not get sufficient signatures to obtain ballot access in the municipal election of February 26, 2019.

Defendants through their agents and operatives attempted to engage in personal intimidation of DAVID with an intent to cause his termination of his campaign, including but not limited to:

    a.Pairs of large male operatives and/ or agents of Defendants, which on Plaintiff’s information and belief included Precinct Captains or other agents of 13THE WARD, routinely followed DAVID as he went door to door for signatures, entering the yards and stoops of voters after him and literally standing right behind DAVID in a hostile manner as he asked for signatures, thereby intimidating the voters talking to DAVID;

    b.On one occasion when DAVID campaigned with voters in front a house, an operative and/or agents of Defendants who had been tailing him emerged from a truck, approached the group and instructed the voters “Don’t talk to him!” The operative then stated to DAVID “You’re a nice kid, but I’d hate to see something bad happen to you.” When DAVID asked for clarification, the operative stated “I’d hate to see you get hurt,” plainly implying that DAVID should abandon his campaign or risk violence against his person;

    c.Attempts were made to blackmail DAVID, with false threats being made that QUINN and MADIGAN had embarrassing pictures of DAVID and would release them if he continued his campaign;

    d.Harassment of DAVID occurred on social media, with persons using fake accounts and identities while making threats against DAVID’s life and his family;

* Alleged expanded conspiracy

In reaction to DAVID’s candidacy, Defendants expanded their conspiracy from a campaign of intimidation and harassment against DAVID to a campaign of intimidation, harassment against voters in the 13th Ward as well as fraud against the BOARD, all to eliminate DAVID as an opponent to QUINN for Alderman of the 13th Ward in the City of Chicago. […]

    a.sending operatives and agents of Defendants to the homes of voters in the 13rth Ward who signed Nomination Petitions for DAVID to demand and extort execution against the will of the said voters documents which revoked their signatures on Nomination Petitions of DAVID;

    b.having operatives and agents engage in repeated entry to the yards and doorways of voters in the 13th Ward who signed Nomination Petitions for DAVID to further demand and extort execution of documents which signatures on Nomination Petitions of DAVID, even after the first request was refused, so to harass and intimidate said voters into signing documents revoking their signatures on Nomination Petitions of DAVID;

    c.having operatives and agents block in a physically threatening manner the path to the doorways of the homes of voters in the 13th Ward who signed Nomination Petitions for DAVID even after the first request was refused, and thereafter deny the voters entry to their own homes unless and until the voters agreed to sign statements revoking their signatures on Nomination Petitions of DAVID;

    d.having operatives and agents threaten a cutoff of Ward services to voters in the 13th Ward who signed Nomination Petitions for DAVID if they would not sign documents revoking their signatures on Nomination Petitions of DAVID;

    e.having operatives and agents engage in misrepresentations to voters in the 13th Ward who signed Nomination Petitions for DAVID concerning the legal effect of documents revoking their signatures on Nomination Petitions of DAVID in order to prevent the voters from realizing that the documents would revoke their signatures on said Nomination Petitions;

    f.having operatives and agents affirmatively identify themselves as “from the Alderman’s Office” while showing identification as same, while asking for signatures on documents revoking signatures on Nomination Petitions of DAVID with the false explanation that the signature was only to verify the voter signature for election records; and,

    g.having operatives and agents state to voters in the 13th Ward who signed Nomination Petitions for DAVID that their signature on Petitions for DAVID were “illegal” making mandatory the execution of statements revoking said signatures.

He’s alleging violations of his First Amendment rights and violations to the Equal Protection Clause. He’s also alleging a civil conspiracy. He’s asking for “substantial compensatory and punitive damages, plus attorneys’ fees, costs, and for such other and further relief as this Honorable Court deems just and proper, including temporary and permanent injunctions from further engaging in the foregoing conduct.”

* React…

Ald. Quinn…

    This lawsuit is just an effort to distract voters from my opponent’s extreme right-wing agenda. My opponent is a day-one Trump supporter who surrounds himself with people who share the same dangerous views of the world. What we should be discussing is how to continue building opportunity for the residents of the 13th Ward, how to support and promote the best schools and teachers, where to find new economic investment for the neighborhood and how to keep our residents safe. I believe my record demonstrates my commitment to those goals.

Speaker Madigan…

    This lawsuit is blatant defamation of me and Ald. Quinn. But we’ve seen this highly political tactic before. Distracting voters with ludicrous claims is pulled directly from the ultra-right-wing playbook. The residents of the 13th Ward deserve better. This election should and will be decided at the ballot box and not in the courtroom.

* Related…

* DePaul freshman accuses Madigan, Quinn of using fraud and intimidation: “We have notarized statements from people saying … they were visited like three or four times-a-day for a week by their precinct captain saying that they had to sign it and they wouldn’t stop coming back until they signed. When they caught people outside their house, they wouldn’t let people go into the house until they signed,” Krupa said Monday. “They operate as a criminal enterprise. They harass, blackmail, intimidate and strong-arm people. They use their public government services to further their own political agenda.”

* There’s a rare contest for alderman in Michael Madigan’s southwest-side stronghold: “I do have my own graffiti blaster,” [Ald. Quinn] said, explaining he bought it with his aldermanic expense account usually reserved for office supplies. “Yesterday alone we blasted 11 different spots down 63rd Street. I subscribe to the broken window theory, and removing the graffiti is very, very important.”


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Monday, Jan 28, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Illinois has eleventh highest per capita tax burden

Monday, Jan 28, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Tax Foundation

Today’s state tax map shows state and local tax collections per capita in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. D.C.’s tax collections per capita ($10,841) are higher than in any state. The five states with the highest tax collections per capita are New York ($8,957), Connecticut ($7,220), New Jersey ($6,709), North Dakota ($6,630), and Massachusetts ($6,469). The five states with the lowest tax collections per capita are Alabama ($3,206), Tennessee ($3,322), South Carolina ($3,435), Oklahoma ($3,458), and Florida ($3,478).

According to the Foundation, Illinois ranks eleventh at $5,654 per capita.

The Illinois Policy Institute has in the past pointed to a WalletHub study of household tax burdens that ranked Illinois at the top of the heap.


Is it possible to be a progressive and a machine boss?

Monday, Jan 28, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Sun-Times headline

Progressive pioneer or boss of ‘corrupt’ machine? Preckwinkle, Lightfoot spar

Can it be both?

Chicago has a “weak mayor” system of government which forces mayors to build political organizations to project more power than they actually have. Mayor Harold Washington didn’t really have much power until he was able to elect a majority on the city council through herculean political efforts.

So, controlling the county party’s strings would help her get more done, if you believe she wants to get more done.

Party bosses are generally “don’t make no waves” types. Preckwinkle is anything but that on progressive policies. On people, however, well, that’s a different story

“She may have been progressive at some point in her career, but … she is the machine,” Lightfoot said after the forum ended. “She’s the president of the Democratic Party, which is one of the most regressive organizations in our state. She sided with Joe Berrios, she sided with Ed Burke. There’s no way she can legitimately claim that she is progressive.”

And when you side with Berrios and Burke, you’re siding with the way they ran things in the county and the city.

So, maybe it can’t be both?


One of Bruce Rauner’s greatest successes is almost never discussed

Monday, Jan 28, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Um, no…

One of the least appreciated successes of the Rauner years was his ability to work with the Senate on his nominations. The Democratic Senate rarely voted to reject the Republican governor’s nominees (I think it happened only a couple of times) because Rauner’s team worked very closely with the Senate leadership. They made sure to vet all the candidates, closely followed all the nominating rules and they cut side deals to sweeten things with the SDems.

BJ Walker got sideways with the Black Caucus and that’s why I’m told she was never confirmed. But the Senate did not take the step of actually rejecting her, so she leaves as she came in: “Acting Director.”

* Rauner’s success is all the more remarkable when you recall things like this

Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s attempt to install a prominent consumer watchdog as head of the Illinois Commerce Commission flopped Thursday when the state Senate rejected his nomination.

The dramatic vote to deny the job to Martin Cohen prompted complaints that he was being punished for an effective career on behalf of consumers, and that the Senate was siding with powerful utility companies against ratepayers.

And this

In a rare move, the Illinois Senate Wednesday slapped down Gov. Pat Quinn’s latest appointments to the Southern Illinois board of trustees.

Just two days after Quinn nominated new members to the board, senators used their appointment powers to send a strong message to the governor that they don’t approve of his tinkering with the make-up of the board.

The governor’s proposed appointments of Sandra Cook of Collinsville, Melvin Terrell of Chicago and Lee Milner of Springfield received zero “yes” votes, 23 “no” votes and 32 “present” votes.

* Back to the Sun-Times story

The acting director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services says she’s stepping down next month.

Beverly “BJ” Walker told the Chicago Tribune late Friday that Gov. J.B. Pritzker is conducting a national search for her replacement and she has agreed to stay on to help the transition.

Walker was appointed as the acting head of the agency by former Gov. Bruce Rauner in June 2017 following the departure of George Sheldon, who left in the fallout of DCFS’ admitted mishandling of the Semaj Crosby case.


It’s just way too early to be predicting this

Monday, Jan 28, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Politico

The GOP romance is already on the skids. Republicans who thought Pritzker was a centrist say he’s just catering to his left-leaning base. “We’re two weeks in and there’s zero indication” of him hugging the middle, said one GOP lawmaker. “So what” that he had dinner with Republican leaders Jim Durkin and Bill Brady? Pritzker then went and signed an executive order to ensure HB40 was being properly enforced. The measure allows taxpayer funding of some abortions. Republicans saw it as “a slap in the face.”

Pritzker ran with the full support of pro-choice groups like Personal PAC and his EO last week was designed to make sure insurance companies were following the law, enacted with the signature of a Republican governor, no less.

I gotta figure stuff like that has been long baked-in to just about everyone’s expectations of Pritzker, or at least it should’ve been to anyone paying attention.

Two weeks ago, the honeymoon was supposedly over because of a single partisan press release from the Illinois Republican Party, a partisan entity. And now it’s over again because the governor is doing stuff he overtly promised to do during the campaign?


* Usually, people who say things like “slap in the face” aren’t the ones who are gonna be negotiating the big stuff anyway. If we hear Leaders Brady and/or Durkin talk like that then we know we’ve got problems.

In other words, if the Republican leaders ever decide to boycott the capital bill talks, then the troubles are real. Would they do such a thing over a liberal executive order designed to enforce existing state laws? Some hardline rank-and-filers surely would, but I kinda doubt they’ll be voting for any compromises anyway.

And this is not to say that everybody is going to get along swell all day, every day. Democrats are Democrats and Republicans are Republicans. Disagreements are natural, expected and even healthy. Pritzker is not going to become a Republican and Bill Brady isn’t going to become a Democrat. The object is to work together, not be like each other.

What I don’t expect to see is a quick return to the past four years, when just about everything was politicized to the Nth Degree and deals with the governor were next to impossible.

Besides, the spring session hasn’t even started yet. Let it play out for a bit and we’ll see what kind of governor he turns out to be.


It’s just a bill

Monday, Jan 28, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* SJ-R

Legislators are bringing back a bill to raise the age at which people can legally purchase tobacco products to 21, after Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed similar legislation last session.

“I have reason to believe we can pass it again in both houses,” said Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield, adding that she thinks Gov. J.B. Pritzker will look at the bill favorably. […]

Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said the governor “looks forward to reviewing the legislation.”

“The governor believes in order to help build a healthy society, we have to work to prevent young people from smoking,” Abudayyeh said via email.

* “He’s running”…

Senator Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville) is sharing concern over recently introduced legislation, (House Bill 888) that forces law-abiding citizens to give Illinois state agencies access to their personal social media accounts for merely considering exercising their constitutional right to own a firearm.

“It’s shocking that big-government liberals think the people of Illinois would be OK with granting government agencies the ability to snoop through their social media platforms,” said Sen. Plummer. “This ‘Orwellian’ mindset is frightening and something that all Americans, regardless of their partisan affiliation, should be on guard against. In America we care about individual rights and privacy.”

Sen. Plummer also highlighted legislation (Senate Bill 107) that calls for a ban on the sale or the unregistered possession of dozens of semi-automatic firearms, dubbed, “assault weapons,” to scare and mislead citizens. The bill also forces law-abiding gun owners to pay additional fees and consent to a massive government registry simply for owning these firearms, otherwise risk criminal penalties.

“This means that failure to pay additional fees and acquiesce to register lawful and privately owned firearms in a massive government-controlled database, even firearms passed down in a family from generation to generation, will lead to a felony charge and fines and/or prison time,” said Sen. Plummer.

Numerous types of widely-owned semi-automatic rifles, pistols, and shotguns are included based solely on their appearance rather than how they function.

“This legislation is an obvious overreach and infringes upon law-abiding citizens’ privacy and Second Amendment rights,” said Sen. Plummer. “The proposed legislation penalizes good, law-abiding citizens who have done absolutely nothing wrong. I plan to share my concerns with HB 888 and SB 107 with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. This legislation sounds like stuff that comes out of the mind of totalitarian state apparatchiks—not from elected officials in a republic committed to individual rights and freedoms.”

Response from the Democratic freshman sponsor, Rep. Dan Didech…

In an increasingly online world, we must have an open discussion about the tools law enforcement may use to keep our communities and our children safe. This legislation would modernize the tools available to help law enforcement by allowing them to determine whether a person seeking to obtain a firearm is showing signs of violence toward themselves or their community online.

Standing up to Donald Trump and the National Rifle Association’s extreme agenda requires us to take a serious look at current policies and look for changes that can be made to end the epidemic of gun violence in our country. My hope is that this legislation continues a conversation about the actionable steps we can take to make our communities, schools, and places of worship safer. The stakes are too high for us to sit on the sidelines.

* Rep. Steve Reick (R-Woodstock)

Everyone tends to roll their eyes when public officials promise to eliminate “waste, fraud and abuse”. But nobody denies that those things exist. The trick is to figure out what can be done to eliminate it.

It’s with that in mind that I’ve introduced House Joint Resolution 6 and a House Bill 275 which is modeled on President Reagan’s 1982 Executive Order establishing a private-sector cost study of the agencies of the Federal government, which resulted in the issuance of the 1984 “Grace Report”. In the report, the Grace Commission offered up 2,487 separate recommendations for streamlining government agencies which it estimated would have saved $424 billion over a 3-year period (and that’s in 1984 dollars).

H.B. 275 creates the Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which is a private sector panel authorized to undertake a thorough review of Illinois agencies and provide recommendations for improvement. Its goal is to identify inefficiencies, redundancies and insufficient control over the operations of state agencies which result in inadequate services being provided at too high a cost. It would be charged with recommending improvements that would increase efficiency, reduce costs, enhance accountability and improve administrative control, and would also provide opportunities for managerial improvements over the short and long term, suggesting specific areas where further study could result in additional savings.

Like the Grace Commission, this Commission will be privately funded by soliciting contributions to be made to a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization as called for in the bill. Commission members would not be paid, and would be charged to present their findings to the Governor and the General Assembly by October 1, 2020.

Cleaning up audit findings isn’t enough; we must do this deep dive into our agency operations with a focus on finding where outdated and redundant processes can be eliminated or combined. We must also set policies in place which demand greater accountability from those stakeholders which come to the state asking for appropriation of taxpayer money. It’s time for them to show us how well they’ve spent the money we’ve given them before we give them more. In my first term, I was a member of the K-12 Appropriations Committee. I’ve seen firsthand that it’s not now being done.

This is not an attempt to fix blame or to point fingers at any agency or person. Every organization, public or private, needs a periodic review to find ways to improve its operations. Otherwise it grows sclerotic and gets in the way of its own purpose. But it’s obvious that something more robust than a mere audit is needed. It’s time for the Governor’s office and the General Assembly to step in and shine a light on what’s been allowed to languish for far too long. It’s what we’ve been elected to do.


Sims talks more about Orland Square Mall shooting

Monday, Jan 28, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I told subscribers about this last week

State Senator Elgie R. Sims Jr. (D-Chicago) released the following statement after an unknown gunman shot and killed an 18-year-old man and wounded another person at Orland Square Mall Monday night:

“Monday night, I, unfortunately, witnessed two tragedies. The first was yet another senseless shooting, as a young man was gunned down literally a few feet away from where I was shopping with my family, along with other families, at Orland Square Mall.

“The second was the loss of innocence that died in the eyes of the children who witnessed the horrifying aftermath of the shooting. As parents, we do everything we can to protect our children and shield them from harsh realities. Yesterday, my heart sunk to the pit of my stomach realizing that these children will remember the violence that occurred for years to come.

“The shooting is yet another tragic reminder that the gun violence epidemic has only worsened in our country. It’s another reminder that we must act now in a meaningful way to address this problem and end the blood that flows onto the floors of churches, elementary schools, movie theaters, city streets and malls.

“The solutions are not a secret. We know that simple and broadly supported measures like universal background checks, cracking down on straw purchases and illegal weapon sales and limiting access to high-capacity magazines and military-style assault weapons would save countless lives. The time to act is now.”

The gunman has since been apprehended.

* Sun-Times

State Sen. Elgie Sims, D-Chicago, was inside Justice — a children’s clothing store — with his wife and daughters when the shots rang out.

“I told everybody to get back, get down, get in the back and behind the counter because we didn’t know where the shooting was. Then I came from behind and crawled behind the register and got the front doors locked,” he said Tuesday.

Sims said he saw the victim on the floor right outside the doors of Justice.

He was also one of many shoppers who called 911. When police arrived, they searched the Justice store for the shooter and soon after, gave an all-clear, he said.

“We stayed there [in the store] while they worked on him. I kept everyone in the back of the store so nobody — so the kids — didn’t have the chance to see him being worked on.”

* A new story from Illinois Public Radio

Q: And then in your statement, you take a turn to policy. Does this change or amplify or solidify — how do you see this in relation to the policies that you think Illinois should be pursuing in terms of preventing this sort of violence?

A: This situation only reinforces for me that we’ve got to have an honest conversation about gun violence and treat gun violence as the public health crisis that it is.

We’ve got to get away from this fallacy that gun violence is perpetrated by this “boogeyman,” this “gangbanger.” It’s not. Gun violence can happen anywhere, and I think the fact that this happened in Orland Park only serves to reinforce that these issues of gun violence — they don’t just happen in poor communities. They can happen anywhere.

When you’ve got free access to Illegal guns, these types of things happen.

* Sen. Sims posted his story on Facebook last week. Most commenters were supportive, but some were not…



The Illinois State Rifle Association today is issuing the following statement on the senseless act of violence at the Orland Park Mall.

“Earlier this week there was a senseless shooting and murder at the Orland Park Mall. State Senator Elgie Sims was a witness to this horrific act along with his family. Sen. Sims took to social media to describe the ordeal his family and others at the mall faced. We commend the heroic actions Sen. Sims took to shield his family and others in the store until law enforcement arrived.

Unfortunately, in the aftermath of this horrible tragedy Sen. Sims and his family were subjected to comments that were beyond the pale of civil discourse. The Illinois State Rifle Association condemns these threatening, racist comments.

In this country we value to our core the fundamental belief in free speech. In the discussion regarding gun violence and potential ways to solve the problem there inevitably will be differing opinions. The Illinois State Rifle Association has at times disagreed with the Senator’s philosophy and votes on the topic of gun violence.

In the coming months there will be a continued discussion regarding the scourge of gun violence and how to keep guns out of the hands of criminals such as the shooter in this tragic incident. We at the Illinois State Rifle Association welcome all perspectives.”


More tough times ahead for Illinois Republicans

Monday, Jan 28, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

We all know that former Gov. Bruce Rauner was outspent by our new Gov. J.B. Pritzker during the 2018 campaign. But the actual numbers are pretty darned eye-opening.

During the final three months of last year, Pritzker reported spending $37.2 million. Rauner, on the other hand, spent just $7.1 million — less than a fifth of his Democratic rival’s expenditures.

Overall, Pritzker’s campaign committee spent $173.1 million since its formation in March of 2017.

Of that, Pritzker’s committee contributed $28.1 million to other candidates and spent $145 million on Pritzker’s campaign. Pritzker reported spending a grand total of $90 million on media buys.

Starting in March of 2017, Rauner reported spending $78.6 million, about 45 percent of Pritzker’s amount.

Of that, Rauner’s campaign contributed $15.9 million to other campaigns and committees, a little over half of what Pritzker spent. Rauner spent $62.7 million on his own candidacy, 43 percent of what Pritzker spent. Rauner’s campaign reported spending a total of $41.1 million on media buys, which was less than half what Pritzker spent.

After last March’s primary (starting April 1), Pritzker’s campaign reported spending $104.7 million, including $27.1 million in transfers to other committees and $77.6 million on Pritzker’s own effort. $47.5 million of that was spent on media buys. He spent another $7.4 million on salaries and payroll costs, which gave him a veritable army.

During that same period since the primary, Rauner’s campaign spent $41.6 million (40 percent of Pritzker’s spending), including $8.4 million to other committees (31 percent of Pritzker’s spending) and $33.2 million on himself (43 percent of what Pritzker spent). Rauner’s campaign spent $20.8 million on media buys (44 percent of Pritzker’s spending) and $2.7 million on salaries and payroll costs (just 36 percent of Pritzker’s spending).

Rauner essentially got smothered in every possible way.

By the way, Rauner ended the year with $801K in the bank, far less than the rumors that were going around in November suggested.

Looking forward, one of the biggest questions facing Republican legislators is where will their campaign money come from. Not only did their primary contributor, Bruce Rauner, depart the scene, but after losing so many seats last year combined with the possibility that President Trump will be at the top of the ballot in 2020, who’s gonna give them any cash?

And it’s not like they have a comfy money cushion built up, either.

The House Republican Organization ended the fourth quarter with just a bit over $76,000 in the bank. The Republican State Senate Campaign Committee had a mere $29,000 at the end of the year. Yes, you read that right. $29K.

The true situation isn’t quite that dire, but it ain’t great. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin ended the year with $826,000 in his personal campaign account and Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady ended with $315,000. So, they have more than crumbs, but it’s still not a pleasant situation.

On the other hand, House Speaker Michael Madigan ended the year with almost $7.9 million in his personal campaign account and about $3.4 million in his Democratic Majority account. He had expected the Republicans to spend more than they did, so he piled up as much cash as possible. He now begins the next election cycle with a gigantic advantage.

Things are quite a bit tighter for Senate President John Cullerton, whose personal account had about $261,000 in it while the Senate Democratic Victory Fund had about $447,000. But he’s in the majority, so, unlike the Republicans, raising money should not be a problem.

The Democratic Party of Illinois ended the year with about $1.4 million in the bank. The Illinois Republican Party finished with $313,000. The IL GOP is going to have to be frugal for a while until they can raise some dough.

Rauner has been the state GOP’s most reliable donor. The former governor contributed $36.9 million to the state party since June 13th of 2014. The party raised another $20 million or so on top of that since that same date, but a large chunk of that money was pass-through cash from the two legislative caucuses for direct mail costs.

The unofficial leader of the Republican Party’s wealthy Chicago-area “donor class” was Ron Gidwitz. He helped raise a ton of money for his party over the years. But Gidwitz is now the US Ambassador to Belgium, so he can’t do them any good.

Bottom line: The Republican Party in this state is in very dire straits.



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