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Illinois in a must-win rematch vs. Missouri

Monday, Jul 29, 2019

* Last year about this time

Beer, hot dogs and sunshine made for a perfect afternoon at the ballpark, but those visiting Busch Stadium on Thursday weren’t there to see the St. Louis Cardinals.

Instead, they watched Missouri lawmakers defeat their legislative counterparts from Illinois, 7-4, in what officials from both sides hope will become an annual softball game. The winning team takes home both a shiny gold trophy and bragging rights to its respective state Capitol. […]

Still, Missouri pulled off the win, thanks to a strong showing in the first few innings that put them up 7-0 by the bottom of the fourth. The Illinois Legislature answered in the fifth inning with two runs to prevent a shutout, and eventually scored two more to tighten the score, but they couldn’t overcome the deficit.

After the game, the lawmakers joked that Missouri’s term limits may have given the Show-Me state the advantage of a younger team.

“We have more seasoned ballplayers,” joked Illinois Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Belleville.

It was hotter than blazes, and the Missouri team… Um, how can I put this politely?… Ignored some ground rules.

And, yes, term limits probably played a role. The average age of the MO squad was like 25. I’m not joking. OK, well, maybe a little. Their House Speaker was only 36 years old at the time. Dude looked like a kid and he may have been the oldest member of the team.

Not to mention that the teams were playing 12-inch softball, not the Chicago-area’s 16-inch, which is what they play during the annual House vs. Senate game. And they used the entire professional field, meaning 90-foot base-paths. One of our players (I won’t say who) hit a triple and I thought he was gonna die by the time he got to third base. He was huffing and puffing and covered in sweat and looked at me with such desperation that I tossed him a water bottle.

I didn’t realize how bitter I still was about that game until they asked me to come back again for the rematch. I “announced” the Illinois half-innings on the stadium’s PA system last July and I’ll be doing it again tonight.

* Illinois team captain Rep. Jay Hoffman recently talked about his team’s prospects with the BND

Come to think of it, maybe the players should ignore the headline on this post. Let’s just hope nobody gets hurt.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      

Pritzker names new Gaming Board chair and another member

Monday, Jul 29, 2019

* Press release…

Charles Schmadeke will serve on and chair the Illinois Gaming Board.* Schmadeke is a partner-in-charge of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP’s Springfield office. He has more than 25 years of litigation, mediation and administrative law experience and concentrates his practice representing business and governmental clients in litigation and mediation, including cases involving employment issues, civil rights defense, regulatory matters, and contract and tort claims. He has represented and counseled governmental clients on a wide variety of matters, including governance, organization and fiscal issues, civil rights, regulation enforcement and employment. Before joining Hinshaw & Culbertson in 2003, Schmadeke served in senior positions in Illinois state government. He was the General Counsel to the Illinois State Comptroller, where he advised the Comptroller on constitutional and statutory matters and fiscal affairs, and also conducted cases before the civil service board and handled litigation with cemeteries, funeral homes and other entities regulated by the Comptroller. He also worked 11 years for the Illinois Attorney General as Chief of the General Law Bureau, which represents all state agencies, state officers and state employees in federal and state litigation. In addition to supervising a staff of 21 attorneys and overseeing an active caseload of thousands of cases before federal and state courts and administrative tribunals, Schmadeke personally handled many cases including matters involving civil rights, professional regulation and employment issues.

Anthony Garcia will serve on the Illinois Gaming Board.* Since August 2013, Garcia has served as senior counsel for litigation and investigations at The Boeing Company where he manages litigation as well as supervises and conducts internal investigations implicating violations of the False Claims Act, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Anti-Kickback Statute and other statutes. Garcia previously served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Illinois where he investigated and prosecuted violations of narcotics and weapons statutes, murder for hire, and fraud and export control statutes. Previously, Garcia spent seven years at the U.S. Department of Justice, five years as a trial attorney for the Office of International Affairs and Counterespionage Section and two years as an attaché in Mexico City, working closely with senior U.S. and Mexican officials to combat transnational crime. He also served as an Assistant State’s Attorney in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and as an Intelligence Analyst at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Garcia received his Juris Doctor and Bachelor of Arts in international studies from the University of Wyoming.

He’s been under pressure for weeks to get this done.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      

Question of the day

Monday, Jul 29, 2019

* Eastern Bloc and assorted allies. Caption?…

At least it’s an Illinois flag.

- Posted by Rich Miller   97 Comments      

Lipinski was at Gilroy Garlic Festival during shooting

Monday, Jul 29, 2019

* Email…

Good afternoon,

Congressman Lipinski is in northern California on vacation and was at the Gilroy Garlic Festival last night when the shots were fired. Both he and his wife Judy are ok. Attached is a statement from him. For now, Congressman Lipinski has asked that you respect his and Judy’s privacy during this difficult time.

Thank you,

Phil Davidson
Communications Director
U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski

* Statement…

My wife Judy and I were at the Gilroy Garlic Festival during the shooting. The shooter was not far from us as we heard the loud “pops,” which seemed to get closer as we ran. We are very thankful to law enforcement. The tragedy would have been far worse if not for their quick action. Also, the festival staff did a great job in the aftermath.

Judy and I are okay. Thank God. We pray for those killed and injured, and for their families.

The level of gun violence in our nation is sickening. It is an issue we must deal with not only legislatively, but spiritually and socially.

* Meanwhile

Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday promised a “robust security plan” to protect patrons at this weekend’s Lollpalooza music festival after a random shooting at a California food festival killed three people, including a 6-year-old boy.

“Every time something happens nationally — you’ll recall that there was a report a year ago that the Las Vegas shooter had secured a hotel room here — so, we are taking all of these things into consideration,” the mayor said.

Lighftoot said she plans to participate in a “table-top-exercise” on Tuesday, two days before music lovers are expected to descend on Grant Park, to test the “robust security plan” put together by the Chicago Police Department and organizers of Lollapalooza.

“We are vigorously, aggressively reaching out, planning and drawing upon resources form our federal partners to make sure that there’s no incident here in Chicago,” the mayor said.

“Now, somebody who’s determined obviously poses a challenge. But it’s not gonna be for lack of preparation on our part.”

* Background

Authorities in California on Monday identified Santino William Legan, 19, as the gunman whose rampage at the Gilroy Garlic Festival left three people dead and at least a dozen injured.

Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee confirmed the identity of the shooter, saying he entered the festival Sunday with an “AK-47-type assault rifle,” cutting through a fence to avoid metal detectors and other security efforts. He appeared to shoot randomly for less than a minute before three officers confronted him, Smithee said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   55 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Bustos slammed over DCCC hiring, programs

Monday, Jul 29, 2019

* Cheri Bustos was named the chair of the DCCC partly because she won reelection in a blue-collar district won by President Trump. But when you address one issue, others pop up

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is in full-blown turmoil.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) was set to make an unplanned trip to Washington from her district Monday amid an outcry from top black and Latino lawmakers over a lack of diversity in the campaign arm’s senior management ranks.

Bustos’ sudden return to D.C., just days after Congress left for a six-week-long August recess, comes as aides and lawmakers are calling for systematic changes to the DCCC, the party’s main election organ.

POLITICO reported last week that black and Hispanic lawmakers are furious with Bustos’ stewardship of the campaign arm. They say the upper echelon of the DCCC is bereft of diversity, and it is not doing enough to reach Latino voters and hire consultants of color. In addition, several of Bustos’ senior aides have left in the first six months of her tenure, including her chief of staff — a black woman — and her director of mail and polling director, both women.

In the most dramatic move so far, Texas Reps. Vicente Gonzalez and Filemon Vela told POLITICO Sunday that Bustos should fire her top aide, DCCC executive director Allison Jaslow.

* From its story last week

Interviews with more than two dozen Democratic lawmakers, aides and strategists detailed months of frustration and unanswered questions about Bustos’ efforts to retain staffers of color in top positions, boost Latino voter outreach and hire firms run by people of color. They said Bustos was tactless when challenged by lawmakers of color.

“The overall plan for Latino outreach seems to be some 1980s playbook, which doesn’t work anymore,” Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said.

The DCCC declined to make Bustos available for an interview but said the “DCCC has continued to increase diversity amongst our staff.”

“Anyone seeking to divide our party and stoke infighting between Democrats at a time when Donald Trump is in the White House is undermining our ability to protect the majority,” DCCC spokesman Jared Smith said.

Yeah, that’ll keep everyone calm.


A DCCC aide also said “nearly 50 percent of the senior staff identifies as racially diverse” but they declined to name a senior staffer who is a person of color.


*** UPDATE *** Politico

The executive director of the House Democrats’ campaign arm is stepping down amid an outcry from Democratic lawmakers over the lack of diversity in the committee’s senior ranks.

Executive Director Allison Jaslow, a close confidante of Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Cheri Bustos, announced her resignation at an all-staff meeting Monday, according to multiple sources. Jaslow said her resignation is effective immediately.

“When I was in eighth grade, I decided that my life would be dedicated to serving my country. I did that first in uniform but since have tried to be a force of good in our politics,” Jaslow, an Iraq War veteran, said in a statement later. “And sometimes selfless service means having the courage to take a bow for the sake of the mission — especially when the stakes are so high.”

Jaslow’s sudden departure comes as Bustos tries to contain the fury from Democratic lawmakers and aides that she has done little to address the lack of diversity in the upper ranks of the campaign arm since winning the chairmanship late last year.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

The search for affordable housing

Monday, Jul 29, 2019

* Rebecca Anzel

Lack of affordable housing affects many facets of family life — access to education and health care, for example — for Illinoisans throughout the state, Sen. Mattie Hunter and Rep. Delia Ramirez say.

It’s a truth the Chicago Democrats said they each experienced before their time in office. Each has a background in social service work — Hunter as a community organizer who grew up in public housing and Ramirez as director of a community social service agency.

Illinois’ affordable housing program received $200 million through the state’s first capital plan in 10 years, signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in late June. Other investments totaling about $129 million are included elsewhere in the budget.

And while Hunter and Ramirez said that money will make a “significant difference,” they added it will take $1 billion to properly address the infrastructure need in Illinois.

* Meanwhile

Tucked on the outer edges of southern Cook County, suburban Park Forest was built to help answer a housing shortage in the 1940s as GIs flooded home from World War II. Before long, it became a model of suburban living, featuring enviable public schools and an attractive downtown shopping center anchored by a Marshall Field’s.

Today, the legacy department store is long gone. The high school, Rich East, is facing such low enrollment that it is being considered for closure. And, as of 2017, financially strapped homeowners were stuck with the second-highest property-tax rate in Cook County.

Among them is Ryan Dupée, who is being billed more than $3,800 in property taxes for a modest, ranch-style home he and his wife bought under foreclosure four years ago for just $25,000.

Affordable housing is about more than just rental or purchase costs.

* Speaking of

After a spring spent focusing on possibly bringing a graduated income tax to the state, Illinois lawmakers will soon be turning their attention to the other big tax bill affecting the state’s residents, property taxes.

Specifically, they’ll be looking at ways the state can provide some relief to property taxpayers, even though property taxes themselves are imposed by local governments and the revenue from them finances local government operations. […]

“I’ll hold out optimism that this might come up with some good suggestions on property tax reform, but since I’ve been in the General Assembly the last few years, the issue around property taxes seems to be something that we continue to like to talk about, but we really don’t take a lot of legitimate action on,” said Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, a Republican appointee to the task force.

* Related…

* Chicago’s 3 new apartment-library developments offer fresh take on mixed-use buildings: At each site, the library and residential units maintain separate entrances — and building configurations vary — but the premise is consistent: A neighborhood resource anchored to affordable housing.

* Affordable housing in thriving Naperville is elusive. This mother of twins knows all too well.

* Aldermen seek to address affordable housing, segregation: A group of about 20 aldermen is reintroducing a series of ordinances aimed at increasing affordable housing in Chicago—in some cases, tripling the number of affordable units developers would have to build.

* City Wants To Change Controversial Affordable Housing Ordinance, But Agreement Is Hard To Find

Read more at:

* Lincoln Yards Developer Opens Fleet Fields, The First Small Piece Of $6 Billion Megaproject: Sterling Bay doubled its commitment to on-site affordable housing earlier this year, agreeing to build 600 units within Lincoln Yards, instead of 300, just ahead of a key Zoning Committee vote on the project in March.

* Chicago: a tale of seven cities: The Far South Side lost nearly 100,000 people between 2000 and 2010 and is on track to lose another 80,000 by the end of this decade. The continuing decline offsets gains elsewhere in the city and explains why Chicago’s population has fallen the past few years.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      

Another mess that has to be cleaned up

Monday, Jul 29, 2019

* The Daily Line’s Hannah Meisel

The state board in charge of reviewing procurement and contracts and leases for property owned or leased by the state of Illinois failed to promptly pay interest due to vendors during the 2018 fiscal year, according to a new audit.

Auditor General Frank Mautino’s office found the Illinois Procurement Policy Board failed to pay interest on 36 percent of vouchers tested by auditors, according to the audit. The board is responsible for hundreds of vouchers every year.

The board blamed the state’s Enterprise Resource Planning system, a project in its fifth year but not completed, that is $150 million over budget, according to another recent audit. That audit also found that the Department of Innovation and Technology, which has run the planning system since it was created by former Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2016, also let bills pile up and accrue $40 million in late payment interest fees in the 2017 and 2018 fiscal years.

ERP was designed to consolidate hundreds of separate financial reporting and computer systems across state government in a single hub, but in the case of the Procurement Policy Board’s audit, the board blamed the technology developed by German company SAP the state has been on-boarding since 2015.

The board said it was “unable to access the interest due in the new ERP/SAP accounting program and, subsequently, were never able to release payments for the prompt pay interest due,” according to the audit.

The audit report is here.

* Earlier Daily Line coverage…

* DoIT overspent by $150M, dinged on all types of deficiencies from cybersecurity to oil changes: audit

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      

Today’s must-reads

Monday, Jul 29, 2019

* Some former Belleville News-Democrat folks have started a news site called the Metro East Meteor. Here’s one of their first stories by George Pawlaczyk and Beth Hundsdorfer

Lying face-up on a gurney, her hands cuffed behind her back and four men holding her down by her arms and legs, Rasha Talafhah fought back the only way she could. She yelled, “Rape!”

Again and again she hollered. “Rape!…Rape!…Rape!”

Finally, someone came to her aid with one word: “Stop!”

The four Illinois Department of Corrections guards let her go and allowed her to sit up. But it was too late.

A physician’s assistant sexually assaulted her when he placed gloved fingers between her thighs and in her vagina during a forced cavity search, according to a federal lawsuit filed by Talafhah.

An Illinois State Police investigative report stated afterward that the physician’s assistant quickly left the room. Later, concerned by Talafhah’s cries of rape, he tearfully asked to be allowed to go home and didn’t report for work the next day. No contraband was found.

Go read the rest. And there’s video. It’s all disturbing.

* And here’s the follow-up. One of the guards who held Talafhah down was Bradley Jenkins

Logan Correction Center guard Allissa Martin was popular with the inmates.

“She treated you with respect. She would listen to you,” said former inmate Rasha Talafhah, who was held for eight years at Logan. “Martin treated you like a person.”

Martin died in June from a fall from the seventh floor of a St. Louis parking garage. Police found Martin’s husband of a week and half, Bradley S. Jenkins, 31, standing over her body, covered in her blood.

Martin, 27, and Jenkins, who was a lieutenant at the prison, attended a Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals baseball game on June 2. The two argued. At some point during the altercation, police said, Martin rolled video on her cellphone.

Martin pointed the phone at herself, then to Jenkins, according to a probable cause statement.

The video caught Martin yelling at her new husband to stop punching her in the face. Then, she drops the phone.

Shortly after that, St. Louis Police Detective Mark West said, the video captures the sound of Martin’s scream as she falls.

Again, go read the whole thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      

1.9 billion opioid pills sold to Illinois pharmacies and physicians between 2006 and 2012

Monday, Jul 29, 2019

* AP

The maker of OxyContin has been cast as the chief villain in the nation’s opioid crisis. But newly released government figures suggest Purdue Pharma had plenty of help in flooding the U.S. with billions of pills even as overdose deaths were accelerating.

Records kept by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration show that 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pills — the vast majority of them generics, not brand names — were shipped to U.S. pharmacies from 2006 to 2012.

The annual number swelled by more than 50 percent during that period of time even as the body count climbed. The powerful painkillers flowed faster even after Purdue Pharma was fined $635 million for falsely marketing OxyContin as less addictive than other opioids. […]

The Washington Post, which along with HD Media, the owner of newspapers in West Virginia, went to court to seek the information, was first to publish the data.

* Jayme Fraser at GateHouse Media

The database, which The Washington Post released publicly last week, details 380 million times between 2006 and 2012 that manufacturers sold opioids to pharmacies, physicians or other distributors — including shipments of more than 1.9 billion pills to Illinois alone. […]

In Sangamon County, 4.3 million [oxycodone and hydrocodone] pain pills were sent to pharmacies and physicians in 2006 and reached almost 9.4 million in 2011 before dipping the next year to just more than 9 million, a GateHouse Media analysis of the data shows. Another 4.1 million pills were shipped to the surrounding area — Cass, Christian, Logan, Macoupin, Menard, Montgomery and Morgan counties — in 2006. The tally for that area had almost doubled by 2012.

The shipments averaged out to 35 pills per person each year in Sangamon County, with similar rates in Christian, Montgomery and Morgan counties. The rest were lower: 29 in Logan, 26 in Macoupin, 14 in Cass and 11 in Menard. That compares to the national annual average of 37 pills per person and the state average of 30.

The rates varied greatly in Illinois: Scott and Stark counties were shipped fewer than 5 pills per person while Hardin and Saline received more than 85 pills per person The top ten counties in the United States all saw annual rates of more than 155 pills per person.

* CBS 2

In Chicago, the nation’s third-largest city, more than 218 million pills were distributed. But no corner of Illinois was spared, the data shows. From Chicago to tiny communities interspersed between miles of rural land, millions of doses of the heroin-like drugs were bought and sold.

In Rockford, with its population of about 150,000: 53 million doses. In Springfield, the state’s capitol where about 116,000 people lived: 42 million. And in the tiny Lake County community of Old Mill Creek, with a population of just 144, more than 800,000 doses of opioid painkillers were distributed. That’s more than two pills per person every day. […]

Many of the pills — more than 700 million, to be exact — were distributed by Deerfield-based Walgreen’s, the nation’s second-largest distributor of opioids. Many were also sold by Walgreens’ retail stores, as well as at thousands of other storefront pharmacies in communities seemingly everywhere.

Those storefront pharmacies distributed and sold vast numbers of pills. A single pharmacy in Des Plaines described as a “long term care pharmacy” distributed nearly 16.5 million doses.

* Related…

* How to download and use the DEA pain pills database

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Pritzker on possible Madigan probe: “It’s hard to tell what it’s really all about”

Monday, Jul 29, 2019

* Ahern…

* Pritzker reiterated that he wants to wait and see the process play out before making any public stands. He also said he had not been contacted by the feds. Pressed on whether he still has “confidence in Speaker Madigan,” Pritzker responded

Well, again, we’re moving forward. Allegations are just that. And, so we’ll see. I haven’t actually seen what those allegations might be. I mean, I think at this point there are a number of people who have been contacted, you know, we’ve read the stories that you all have put out, but it’s hard to tell what it’s really all about.

* Meanwhile

A GoFundMe page has been set up by the family of Kevin Quinn — a former top political operative to Illinois Speaker Mike Madigan — who has been embroiled in many controversies, including a contentious divorce and federal authorities reportedly looking into payments he received from Madigan-related lobbyists.

The fundraising page, “Help Our Brother Kevin Rebuild His Life,” went up Sunday morning. It was created Quinn’s sisters Katie and Meghan. Quinn on Monday confirmed to the Chicago Sun-Times that the page is authentic.

“Over the last 17 months, we’ve watched our kind hearted brother remain stronger than you could ever imagine as he’s been dragged through the mud by one false and misleading news story after the other,” the page says. “In the midst of a turbulent divorce and insurmountable negative media attention, legal bills have stacked up. We have seen first hand the adversity Kevin has encountered and felt compelled to start this campaign because he needs our help to get the truth out there! The truth is Kevin is honest, sincere, and all around a great person.”

…Adding… ILGOP…

“The Speaker needs to come clean in the #MeToo cover-up of his political organization. Madigan hired a politically connected lawyer to ‘investigate’ sexual harassment when that lawyer’s own family members were funneling money to his top operative who had been fired for sexual harassment. It’s clear Speaker Madigan does not take the mistreatment of women seriously, and he doesn’t intend to sincerely investigate and stop the #MeToo behavior in his political operation.” - Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Joe Hackler

Recently, it was reported by the Chicago Sun-Times that “Kelly Smith-Haley was retained by Madigan in February 2018 to ‘receive and investigate harassment allegations’ regarding the speaker’s political staff…” according to a letter from Speaker Madigan to House Democratic Caucus members and staffers. Smith-Haley is the sister of Bill and Mike Smith, both of whom are senior members of the lobbying firm, Cornerstone Government Affairs.

It was reported by the Chicago Tribune and detailed in an ILGOP release that Cornerstone wrote two $1,000 checks to Kevin Quinn in January 2019. Cornerstone’s Vice President is Will Cousineau, Mike Madigan’s longest serving political director.

As if it wasn’t bad enough that Madigan’s friends and allies have been keeping Quinn on the team’s ghost payroll, the lawyer tasked with investigating Quinn’s sexual harassment is a close relative of individuals financially supporting him. It’s obvious that Madigan’s claim of wanting to change the culture of his boy’s club could not be more disingenuous.

*** UPDATE *** Greg Bishop at Center Square

Treasurer Michael Frerichs in Springfield on Monday said it was business as usual with Madigan’s office.

“I’m following the news just like anyone out there waiting to see what they discover,” Frerichs said. “[Madigan is] still the Speaker of the House. We work with other elected officials to accomplish our agenda and we’ll follow this case just like other people.”

Messages seeking comment from Madigan’s spokesman were not immediately returned.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      

Indiana gearing up to fend off Chicago, south suburban casinos

Monday, Jul 29, 2019

* Abdel Jimenez at the Tribune

As Chicago considers five possible locations for a casino, an Indiana gambling facility just across the state line is making expansion plans of its own.

Spectacle Entertainment, which owns two Lake Michigan riverboat casinos in Gary, announced plans earlier this month to move those gambling operations to a 40-acre site adjacent to Interstate 80/94.

It will partner with Hard Rock to manage the new $400 million casino property, which will be just 18 miles from the “Harborside” location at 111th Street and the Bishop Ford Freeway, one of the five possible casino sites Chicago has selected for consultants to study.

The timing of Spectacle’s announcement, just a month after Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill that expands gambling in Illinois and allows for the construction of a large Chicago casino, is no coincidence.

Spectacle and other casino companies in northwest Indiana have seen the amount of money they win from gamblers slide during the past decade, and they are moving aggressively to hang on to Chicago-area players who travel to the Hoosier State to gamble. The four northwestern Indiana casinos run free daily shuttle buses that pick up Illinois gamblers from various locations.


Hard Rock Casino Gary construction could begin as early as September and be completed by the end of next year — if owner Spectacle Entertainment gets required city and Indiana state approvals over the summer.

Spectacle officials told the Gary Plan Commission this week the approximately 200,000 square foot, $400 million venue planned for a vacant parcel near the Borman Expressway is scheduled to open on Dec. 31, 2020. Following that, the company is expecting an adjacent hotel and parking garage would open in 2022 or 2023.

The commission unanimously approved the casino last Tuesday.

“We originally envisioned to do that all in one fell swoop, but then along came Illinois [casino expansion] and that sort of set us back on our heels a little bit,” John Keeler, Spectacle vice president and general counsel, was quoted by Inside Indiana Business. “But we’re committed to this project and committed to doing it in two phases.”

* The Tribune editorial board points to this passage in Illinois law

In addition, prior to the Board issuing the owners license authorized under paragraph (4) of subsection (e-5), an impact study shall be completed to determine what location in the city will provide the greater impact to the region, including the creation of jobs and the generation of tax revenue.

And all but says the statute means the city casino will have to be downtown

Today we aren’t suggesting any particular site. We’re instead keeping three points top-of-mind:

· Illinois is expanding gambling to collect more tax revenue and create jobs — but mostly for tax revenue. We can’t fathom why a casino in one location would deliver substantially more jobs than in another.

· Casino operators aren’t neighborhood improvement societies. They’re businesses, each looking for the most lucrative return on their investments.

· So the question becomes: Which — if any — Chicago location would produce the biggest windfall?

* Related…

* Sun-Times editorial: Understaffed Gaming Board needs a fast bulking up

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

It’s mostly show business

Monday, Jul 29, 2019

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

Most state legislators don’t have to worry about next year’s general election. The combination of gerrymandering and the simple fact that many of the state’s regions are dominated by one party or the other pretty much guarantees that all but a handful of incumbents will sail through on the November ballot.

But first they have to survive the primary season. A Chicago Democrat has to worry about March 17, 2020, infinitely more than Nov. 3. The same goes for most Downstate Republicans.

And the most vulnerable of those are newbies who’ve taken controversial votes. Rep. Mark Kalish, D-Chicago, was appointed to his seat in January and then flip-flopped on the abortion issue and voted against the Reproductive Health Act, making him one of the most vulnerable House Democrats.

Other freshmen have other issues. Appointed Rep. Cam Buckner, D-Chicago, got pulled over in Springfield for allegedly driving while intoxicated and there’s video.

Smart incumbents are out walking precincts every day and attending events. The Democrats also have legislative accomplishments they can highlight to keep people from challenging them from their left. The Reproductive Health Act is just one of them; so is legalizing cannabis and cracking down on gun dealers. Republicans can use their “No” votes on those same bills to help prevent primary challenges.

But there are other ways to fend off intra-party opposition.

Rep. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, for instance, voted to increase the motor fuel tax and related license fees in May to fund the capital bill. Despite the vast number of benefits that new roads and bridges will bring to her district, voting with the super-majority Democrats to jack up the gas tax isn’t gonna make her a lot of friends on the right.

So, when a controversy erupted in Bryant’s region over the governor’s cancellation of the scheduled performance of a band called Confederate Railroad at the Du Quoin State Fair, she defended southern “culture” and demanded that Snoop Dogg’s Illinois State Fair performance also be canceled because of an album cover photo portraying an American flag-draped body with a “Trump” toe tag and the caption “Make America Crip Again.”

President Donald Trump won Bryant’s district by 28 points in 2016. It’s not uncommon to see Confederate flag decals on cars and trucks in Bryant’s deep southern Illinois district. It’s distasteful to say, but this was a no-brainer for Bryant. She’d much rather her constituents be focused on this “issue” than tax hikes, particularly during the summer months when folks decide whether to run in the primary. That band’s cancellation was a campaign gift and she should send the governor a thank you card.

Rep. Chris Miller, R-Oakland, and most of what’s known as the far-right Eastern Bloc were elected for the first time last year. It’s almost impossible to attack them on their right flanks because they all hewed to a solidly far-right line — there’s just no room over there. But it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle, so organizing rallies around the “issue” of kicking Chicago out of Illinois helps Miller and the rest stand out.

When Rep. Miller (no relation) tried picking an online fight with Rep. Bryant and House Republican Leader Jim Durkin over the gas tax hike and subsequently lost his House public relations staffer, he elevated his profile even more and helped solidify his reputation as somebody who stands up for southern Illinois values, as he defines them. Frankly, I’m a little surprised that other Eastern Bloc members haven’t yet pulled the same stunt. It sure “worked” for Miller, who might want to send Leader Durkin a bowl of fruit in thanks.

The right wing is fond of calling stuff like this “virtue signaling.” And while they use the term mainly as a slam on the left wing, they also engage in it just about all the time.

Some feel the need to prove they are “pure,” so they do stuff like post stupid Facebook memes about the “Jihad Squad” (last Monday’s controversy), or, on the other wing, compare the Ku Klux Klan to Trump (last Tuesday’s controversy).

While it’s fine sport to watch them stumble all over themselves after being outed for their ridiculousness, it’s also important to remember that this often serves a purpose: Riling up and unifying the base ahead of primary season.

Candidates can start circulating nominating petitions in 42 days. Prepare yourself for more of this stuff. There’s just no getting around it.

Rep. Miller and other Eastern Bloc members just announced they’re hosting an Effingham concert by, you guessed it, Confederate Railroad.

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      

New laws

Monday, Jul 29, 2019


A new state law will protect victims of sexual assault from being arrested due to outstanding warrants or fines when reporting the crime.

House Bill 92 was recently signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker and sponsored by State Sen. Jason Barickman, a Bloomington Republican.

Previously, when a sexual assault survivor came into contact with police, like when going to the hospital for treatment, they could be arrested for any outstanding warrants, even for minor non-violent offenses or unpaid fines. The new law requires police officials to request a waiver of the required execution of the warrant as long as it isn’t for a violent offense or parole violation.

* Tribune

All single-occupancy public restrooms in Illinois must be designated as gender-neutral beginning Jan. 1 under a law Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed Friday.

The legislation, sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Melinda Bush of Grayslake, prohibits signs outside any single-occupancy public restroom from designating a specific gender. The measure was approved unanimously in the Senate and by a vote of 109-5 in the House this spring.

“Making single-occupancy restrooms gender neutral is inclusive, but it also just makes sense,” Bush said in a statement. “It’s a small change that will make a big impact for thousands of Illinoisans.”

Bush called it “a common-sense measure that will benefit individuals who don’t identify as male or female as well as parents and caregivers who have dependents of the opposite sex.”

* AP

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed legislation Friday that makes Illinois the eighth state to remove time restrictions on prosecuting crimes of sexual violence.

The Democrat signed into law a measure that lifts a 10-year statute of limitations on pressing charges in felony cases of sexual assault and sexual abuse.

The law, which takes effect Jan. 1, is key for sex-crime victims, who sometimes are too traumatized or overwhelmed to immediately pursue criminal charges against their attackers, said Carrie Ward, executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

In 2017, Illinois abolished time limits on prosecuting sex crimes against victims younger than 18. Although current law for adult victims allows prosecution within 10 years, the time limit is actually less. The victim must have first reported the crime to authorities within three years.

* Capitol News Illinois

Gov. JB Pritzker surpassed 100 bills signed as he put his signature on more than 30 new laws last week. They included a measure to increase penalties on texting drivers who cause great bodily harm, and another to allow certain recipients of food stamps to use them at state-contracted restaurants.

House Bill 2386, which passed 82-24 in the House and 41-0 in the Senate, gives the secretary of state new authority to suspend or revoke a license for 12 months for any driver causing great bodily harm, disfigurement or death in an accident caused while texting and driving. The bill also imposes a $1,000 fine for the same offense, which is classified as “aggravated use of an electronic communication device.”

* Center Square

House Bill 2209: Property taxpayers will now know how much they’re paying for incentives to developers. The measure requires property tax bills to include a list of Tax Increment Finance, or TIF districts in the area and the dollar amount of tax allocated to each TIF district. TIF dollars come from any increased property tax revenue for a given period and is used as incentives to spur development in blighted areas.

Press release…

Surrounded by consumer advocates at Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, Governor JB Pritzker signed the bipartisan Consumer Fairness Act into law Monday, giving millions of Illinoisans relief from high interest on consumer debt.

“Consumer debt is at an all-time high all across the United States, and there are millions of people, including too many Illinois families, who are struggling under unconscionable circumstances,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Today, here in Illinois, we are giving real relief to those who are simply trying to pay off their debts, so they can end the cycle of debt they are trapped in.”

With one in three Illinois residents in the debt collection process according to the Heartland Alliance, the new law takes two steps to protect Illinois residents from crushing debt.

Helping families avoid the cycle of debt that prevents them from building long-term financial security, the new law lowers post-judgment interest rates on consumer debt under $25,000 from 9% to 5%. It also reduces the timeframe to collect on a judgment from 26 to 17 years by limiting revivals, preventing debt collectors from trapping families in debt with judgments that are decades old.

HB 88 was passed unanimously without opposition from debt collectors and other financial institutions. The new law takes effect January 1, 2020.

“Debt can be a real, crushing thing that keeps people trapped in a cycle of poverty,” said Assistant Senate Majority Leader Iris Martinez. “By making it easier for people to make payments, we are not only making it more likely for the debt to be paid but also helping people move toward financial independence.”

“Millions of Illinoisans struggle with consumer debt, and our laws have allowed far too many of them to get trapped in an endless cycle of collections,” said Rep. Will Guzzardi. “Today, we’re putting reasonable limits on debt collection to protect people from predation and help them get back on their feet. HB 88 is a significant reform for justice and fairness in our state, and I’m honored to have been a part of its passage.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Pritzker shifts on Trump impeachment

Monday, Jul 29, 2019

* April 23

Democrats across the country may be split about whether President Donald Trump should be impeached following the release of the Mueller report, but Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday said he has seen nothing to change his mind.

“Well, I was right two years ago when I called for his impeachment, and I’m right today. I’m sticking by that,” Pritzker told the Sun-Times.

* July 27

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who first called two years ago for Trump’s impeachment, said in an interview that, for tactical reasons, he is no longer certain if Democrats should pursue impeachment.

“I think that we’re now a year and a quarter away from the general election, and so I think there is a question, could you actually accomplish the goal of removing the president by impeachment before he would be removed by virtue of the election,” Pritzker said. “It’s a question of timing: How long would that take, how effective would that be?”

*** UPDATE *** The governor was asked about the above comment today and he appeared to back away from backing away. He talked about the amount of time it took to start the investigative process in the Congress, but then said

I think he should be out of office as soon as humanly possible. So the only question to me is, is that gonna happen with an impeachment process or is that gonna happen with an election.

…Adding… Bernie

“It does sound like he’s going all in … on the Illinois is a progressive state thing,” said CHRIS MOONEY, professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“The way he’s talking is unusual in the state of Illinois,” Mooney added, saying politics has tended to be more middle-of-the-road.

“But he’s taken a different approach,” Mooney said.

“That may be because he sees demographic trends and political trends in this state moving in that direction, and he wants to get ahead of it,” Mooney said. “It may be because that’s just who he is and that’s what he wants to do and he’s been elected and now he’s going to do it. Or it may be because he’s a neophyte.”

Mooney noted Pritzker’s statements on abortion “really got under the nerves of a lot of right-wing Republicans,” and the cancellation of the Confederate Railroad concert could have been done “without the flamboyant rhetoric.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   72 Comments      


Monday, Jul 29, 2019

* Follow along with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

* House returns to session next week, but gallery will be closed to public during Pritzker's address
* Question of the day
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Campaign notebook
* Do better, DCFS
* It's just a bill
* Another school district warns of "adaptive pause," move to remote learning if DeVore wins in court tomorrow
* Jesse Sullivan said he would "absolutely" use the National Guard to hunt down violent criminals, calls pandemic mandates "unAmerican"
* Harmon on retail theft proposals, items from a recent budget poll, pandemic laws and the state of American democracy
* Small Shift, Big Impact. A Better World With Biodiesel.
* Irvin hit on his National Guard claims, his 2018 Rauner endorsement and for touting support from a 1/6 conspiracy theorist
* Rate Gov. Pritzker's two new TV ads
* Open thread
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