[New Jersey] Governor Phil Murphy today signed into law legislation sponsored by Senator Troy Singleton and Senator Linda Greenstein that will require independent advocacy committees to disclose their donors, bringing greater transparency to organizations that work to influence the political process. The new law will require the so-called “dark money” groups to make public their expenditures and donors.
None of us expected the opponents of this legislation – some well-intentioned, some not – to just go away quietly. However, I was disappointed and dismayed earlier this month when I read about the groups bringing legal challenges against the law. One group involved in the litigation, the Illinois Opportunity Project, is particularly concerning.
The Illinois Opportunity Project is a “free-market” conservative group out of Chicago, Illinois, who has announced their intent to try to influence public policy here in New Jersey. In Illinois, this group is actively trying to silence the voice of voters through its efforts to have the legislative maps redrawn. It also hasn’t gone unnoticed that they are represented by the Liberty Justice Center, which led the charge in the Janus v. AFSCME decision. This group worked diligently to silence the voice of workers through its legal actions. The Janus decision effectively undermined the organizing rights of workers to create better conditions in their workplace.
Now, the Illinois Opportunity Project wants to undermine New Jersey’s voters. It has turned its focus on our effort to achieve a more open and transparent political process. It is complaining that under New Jersey’s new dark money law they “would be required to register and disclose its donors to the Commissioners and its sponsorship of certain messages.” Well, that’s exactly the point.
But, New Jersey’s dark money law is not this group’s only target. The Illinois Opportunity Project is trying to undo campaign finance laws in Montana that require greater disclosure for businesses seeking state contracts.
The Illinois Opportunity Project “team” includes Dan Proft, Matthew Besler and Pat Hughes. The Liberty Justice Center is a project of the Illinois Policy Institute. Their complaint is here. From their rationale…
Illinois Opportunity Project is concerned that compelled disclosure of its members and supporters could lead to substantial personal and economic repercussions for its contributors. Across the country, individual and corporate donors to political candidates and issue causes are being subject to boycotts, harassment, protests, career damage and even death threats for publicly engaging in the public square. Illinois Opportunity Project fears that its members and supporters may also encounter similar reprisals if their donations are made public, while supporters of union and business organizations are protected from the same scrutiny.
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), at a Select Committee on Modernization hearing, discussed impeachment with former congressman and Obama transportation secretary what advice he would give members of Congress who want to get legislation passed in the midst of impeachment. Then-Congressman Ray LaHood, who chaired impeachment proceedings of former President Bill Clinton in 1998, told members of the committee to avoid impeachment “like the plague.”
LaHood was also recently named by Governor JB Pritzker to serve as chairman of Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum’s board of directors because of his experience and ability to get things done. […]
Below is a written transcript of the exchange on impeachment between Davis and LaHood at the hearing.
Davis: You had a job to do during the last impeachment proceedings — you chaired the proceedings in the House…
Davis: You and I have had conversations before about how that impeachment process impacted the ability to get things done…
Davis: Can you give us any examples of how we as the Modernization Committee can offset the inaction and how can we lead to still put good policy forward in the midst of this?
LaHood: Look, impeachment is, um, probably the most controversial, volatile thing. It’s gonna turn this place upside down. If I were where you were, I would avoid it like the plague. This place will never be the same if you go down that road and all of your work will have to come in the next Congress. It will not come in this Congress.
“There’s a lot of anxiety and frustration out there in the ag community,” U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, said. “We need a win when it comes to trade. We’re suffering under the trade war with China because we’re not allowed to sell our soybeans and products to China, which is a huge market.”
LaHood said impeachment talk has taken up all the oxygen in Washington.
“And [U.S. House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi needs to put aside partisan politics and instead of being worried about giving the president a win, let’s worry about giving the American worker a win,” LaHood said. “And this will help the workers and it will help the economy here.”
Sean Casten’s next door neighbor, Vietnam veteran and four-time Purple Heart recipient Paul Hall knows who Sean Casten is. He knows Casten’s extreme agenda doesn’t represent him or his neighbors.
Paul wants everyone to know: He is ‘All In’ for Jeanne Ives. The veteran knows that Ives will do what Casten won’t: represent him and his neighbors in government, rather than pushing a radical, big government agenda at the neighborhood block party and across the district
Today, Peter Breen, two-term Illinois State Representative (R-Lombard) and former GOP Floor Leader, announced that he is going back to Springfield. Breen, a champion of taxpayer rights, is returning to the legislative arena to fight the 21 excessive tax and fee hikes that Chicago Democrats have heaped upon Illinois residents this year.
“The General Assembly demands more and more money from Illinois families, with no end in sight,” Breen pointed out. “There’s never any talk of restraining spending, truly balancing budgets, or dealing with our mounting debt. The only concern voiced by Springfield politicians is how much more of your hard earned money they can take from you.”
“I’m going back to Springfield to put a stop to this madness and end the exodus of people and businesses from our state. Illinois government is out of touch and costs its residents way too much,” he added. “I will fight the politicians who keep hiking your taxes while refusing to rein in spending.”
This election presents a clear choice. As a State Representative, Breen led the fight against Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan and his spending and tax hikes, while Breen’s opponent, Terra Costa Howard (D-Glen Ellyn), has repeatedly backed them. Costa Howard’s first act as a state representative was to break her campaign promise to be independent of Mike Madigan: immediately after taking the oath of office, she gave the 48th District’s vote to Madigan, making him Speaker of the House. She then proceeded to do his bidding, voting for his graduated income tax hike, which she had previously promised to oppose, and his plan to spend tens of billions of dollars, over budget, on capital projects – spending paid for by over $250 in new gas and vehicle taxes on every Illinois household.
After thousands of District 48 residents reached out to Costa Howard asking her to oppose radical late-term abortion legislation, she ignored them. Instead, Costa Howard championed the most liberal abortion policies in the nation, including abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy and the removal of Illinois’ parental notice requirement prior to performing an abortion on a minor child.
Breen notes that Costa Howard’s record is “out of step with the families of the 48th District.” He continued, “My opponent has been dishonest with the people of our district. She promised to be ‘independent’ of Mike Madigan and a ‘moderate,’ but instead, she’s ramming through an aggressive liberal agenda, repeatedly hiking taxes and spending, while ignoring the sincere moral beliefs of our neighbors and friends. She can’t and won’t stand up to the corrupt Democrat machine that’s destroying Illinois.”
Breen and his wife, Margie, are the proud parents by adoption of Matthew, age 3, and James, age 1. Those young children are the primary reason for Breen’s recent founding of FairMapsIllinois.com, an effort to put a “Fair Maps” constitutional amendment on the 2020 Illinois ballot, and his own return to elected office.
“Our families, especially young families, deserve effective and efficient government – one that provides necessary services and respects their needs,” stated Breen. “But now, many of our children face a future where they will have to move to other states in order to find opportunities to hold decent jobs, own homes, and raise families. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can turn Illinois around by adopting Fair Maps, to put a stop to gerrymandering and break the hold of Madigan and his cronies on our state government,” he declared.
Breen served as an Illinois State Representative from 2015 to 2019, and as Floor Leader from 2017 to 2019. Recognized as a defender of families and community businesses, Breen passed 32 bills into law, more than any other two-term representative. His legislation saved millions of dollars for Illinois’ small businesses and non-profit organizations, protected seniors from estate-raiding scams, and halted pension spiking in local government.
From 2011 to 2014, Breen served on the Lombard Village Board, and he served as Acting President of Lombard after the untimely death of its long-time Village President, Bill Mueller. In those roles, he cut half a million dollars in excess spending, eliminated the village vehicle tax and sticker, froze property taxes for the first time in 20 years, and led efforts to revitalize downtown Lombard.
In 2018, during the national “blue wave,” Breen lost a tight reelection. In that contest, Costa Howard accepted over $2 million in campaign cash from Madigan, while misleadingly promising voters that she would be independent of him.
Breen is nationally known for his work as a constitutional attorney with the Thomas More Society, where he focuses on First Amendment issues. An Eagle Scout, he holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Vanderbilt and a law degree from Notre Dame.
Breen lost to Costa Howard last year by seven points, 53.5 to 46.5. Donald Trump lost that district in 2016 by 17 points. And he’ll likely be on the ballot again next year.
You can’t hike into Tonti Canyon anymore. The trails are so badly eroded that officials at Starved Rock State Park decided they’re unsafe to tread.
Pam Grivetti fears the park’s remaining major trails also are on borrowed time. She decided somebody needed to get Springfield’s attention and pump some money into the state park — and fast.
Grivetti is president of the Starved Rock Foundation, and she went on a letter-writing blitz to Springfield. She wants every lawmaker and state agency attached to Starved Rock and Matthiessen state parks to know: Starved Rock is headed for a tipping point and desperately needs help.
“The No. 1 goal of the Department of Natural Resources is to preserve and protect the resources of the state of Illinois,” Grivetti wrote. “The DNR has been losing the battle at the busiest park in the state and one of the busiest state parks in the nation. […]
[Sen. Sue Rezin] championed a bill to charge a $5 parking fee, with funds allocated for infrastructure and safety. Senate Bill 1310 stalled, however, over a fee exemption for La Salle County residents. Rezin said recently she plans to reintroduce the measure in 2020, though not in the veto session beginning Oct. 28.
The Effingham County Board in a special meeting Wednesday passed a 3.5 percent cannabis retailers’ occupation tax in anticipation of recreational marijuana legalization, which takes effect Jan. 1.
The tax passed 6-2, with board Vice Chairman Dave Campbell and board member Lloyd Foster voting ‘no’.
Board Chairman Jim Niemann said in a recent United Counties Council of Illinois meeting, the consensus among county representatives was to pass a tax to offset the expected cost of enforcement when cannabis becomes legal for recreational use in the state.
“The statistic was they figured each user was going to cost the government about an average of $4.50 a year in added enforcement,” Niemann said. “At the advice of the UCCI, (local governments) are going to legalize it in the towns because they know residents are going to go to a neighboring town and buy some, bring it back, use it, and they’re going to have the cost associated with that.”
I seriously doubt that enforcement costs will rise much, if any. So many people refuse to admit that lots of their constituents are consuming the product now.
Seeking answers, NBC News commissioned one of the nation’s leading cannabis testing facilities to test a sampling of THC cartridges — 18 in all — obtained from legal dispensaries and unlicensed dealers. […]
Of the three purchased from legal dispensaries in California, the CannaSafe testing company found no heavy metals, pesticides or residual solvents like Vitamin E.
But 13 out of the other 15 samples from black market THC cartridges were found to contain Vitamin E.
CannaSafe also tested 10 of the unregulated cartridges for pesticides. All 10 tested positive.
The products all contained myclobutanil, a fungicide that can transform into hydrogen cyanide when burned.
* Gov. J.B. Pritzker taps state Sen. Toi Hutchinson to oversee pot rollout: “She has thoroughly impressed me with her drive, insight and ability to get big things done,” Pritzker said. “I couldn’t be more proud that she has agreed to join my administration and bring her leadership to our effort at keeping equity at the forefront of the state’s new adult-use cannabis industry.”
* State’s new cannabis czar faces a challenging to-do list: Hutchinson’s involvement is likely to be more critical after Jan. 1, which is when the first new licenses will be awarded for dispensaries, transport companies and “craft” growers. As one of the key legislators on the weed bill, she knows that its social-equity provisions were crucial to getting the bill through the Legislature.
* State Sen. Toi Hutchinson appointed as Illinois’ pot czar: In her new role, Hutchinson will be tasked with publishing a study by March 2021 that probes possible discrimination in the cannabis industry and its effects on the state. The study will include recommendations to the Illinois departments of agriculture and financial and professional regulation “for reducing or eliminating any identified barriers to entry in the cannabis market,” according to the legalization law. Further, Hutchinson will suggest and promote methods to ensure diversity in the industry, coordinate the cannabis-related efforts of various state agencies and make recommendations for policy and rule changes.
Cook County’s public guardian asked a federal judge to stop state officials from changing the health care coverage for 36,000 Illinoisans currently or formerly in foster care, saying the move would violate a decades-old consent decree designed to improve care for the state’s most vulnerable kids.
Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert on Wednesday sent a letter to U.S. District Judge Jorge Alonso, alleging the coming transition of 17,100 foster children and 18,800 former youth in care from traditional fee-for-service Medicaid to Medicaid managed care on Nov. 1 would violate a 1991 federal order governing the Department of Children and Family Services. […]
Golbert said a too-fast rollout of the transition would be “in bald violation of DCFS’s promises to the children under the consent decree.”
“It is clear that DCFS’s scheme to precipitously dump tens of thousands of children and youth into the MCO on November 1 is being done without adequate thought or planning,” Golbert wrote. “It is equally clear that this dump will result in wholesale violations of the children’s rights to health care under the consent decree.”
I just don’t get the rush to do this. Thank goodness for Hannah Meisel’s reporting.
The poverty rate for the United States was 11.8% in 2018, a decline of 0.5 percentage points from 2017. There were 38.1 million people in poverty nationwide.
In 2018, 1.5 million Illinoisans were in poverty—a rate of 12.1%. Additionally, 2.0 million Illinoisans are near poor and economically insecure with incomes between 100% and 199% of the federal poverty threshold.
This year marks the first time that the U.S.poverty rate is below pre-recession levels; Illinois lags behind this trend, with its poverty rate just returning to pre-recession levels.
But the Census Bureau also reported that a key measure of income inequality rose to the highest level ever recorded in the United States. The Gini index measures income inequality on a scale from 0 to 1, with 0 being a totally equitable society where everyone has the same and 1 being a society where all wealth is concentrated in one household. The U.S. Gini index rose “significantly higher” from 0.482 in 2017 to 0.485 last year, according to a U.S. Census Bureau news release. When the bureau began compiling the Gini index in 1967 it stood at 0.397. Last year, no European nation had an index higher than 0.38.
The bureau didn’t give a state-by-state breakdown on the Gini index, but reported that most states, including Illinois, saw little or no increase last year. It worsened in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Kansas, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Texas, and Virginia. Overall, income inequality tended to be worst on the coasts, including California, Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, New York, the District of Columbia, and in Puerto Rico.
In a statement to WBEZ, a representative for the Internal Revenue Service declined to talk specifics about the raids, but said the “IRS Criminal Investigation [unit] was out on search warrants today in some villages near Chicago.”
A criminal defense lawyer representing Sandoval said the FBI’s activities in the three suburbs Thursday did “not directly” pertain to his client and called the law-enforcement action an “excessive use of federal money.”
He did not elaborate on any possible direct or indirect connections to Sandoval.
“You’d probably have to ask those folks,” attorney Craig Tobin said, referring to the FBI. “The issue is whatever I would know, I can’t disclose to you.”
An FBI spokesman described the visit to McCook, Lyons and the insurance agency as “authorized law enforcement activity,” but he drew a distinction in Summit, calling the visit there “investigative activity.” FBI agents took no records in Summit but interviewed village employees about contracts and licensing, a source said. […]
Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office said the governor is concerned about the reports of federal activity.
“No elected official in Illinois should use their office to personally profit, and these reports are deeply concerning to the governor,” said spokeswoman Emily Bittner. “The governor expects elected officials to uphold the highest ethical standards, and for anyone who fails, they should be held accountable to the fullest extent possible.”
Gary Perlman, village attorney for McCook, said Thursday that FBI agents executed a search warrant “very early in the morning before the building was even open,” and removed files and other materials.
The warrants were seeking information about several individuals and entities, including contractors that do business with the village, Perlman said. He declined to specify what was being targeted, saying village officials were “still reviewing (the warrants) ourselves.” […]
Meanwhile, a clerk at the Summit village hall said the mayor was not available and she was not aware of any FBI activity there Thursday.
“Cook County is a Democratic county and there are thousands of elected officials, a handful have been raided,” said Preckwinkle, who’s also chair of the Cook County Democratic Party. “It’s painful to hear this. However, the assumption in our criminal justice system is innocent until proven guilty. This is a raid, it may or may not go any further than that.”
Illinois’ state historian says he can’t confirm whether a stovepipe hat that was once the crown jewel of Springfield’s Abraham Lincoln presidential museum actually belonged to the nation’s 16th president.
That previously undisclosed assessment by the now-fired executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Alan Lowe, was made in a June email with a senior aide to Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker.
The documents, recently obtained by WBEZ, shed the first light on the workings of state historian Samuel Wheeler, who last year was asked by Lowe to research the hat as questions mounted over its shaky tie to Lincoln.
State emails turned over by the Pritzker administration through an open records request show Wheeler and his associates pored through the vast collection of the Illinois State Archives and through the papers of the hat’s ex-owner, an early 20th century downstate lawmaker.
The criminal investigation into more than a dozen Legionnaires’ disease deaths at the state-run Quincy veterans’ home appears to be focusing, in part, on the errant release of stagnant water into the facility’s hot-water system, new records show.
A criminal grand jury in downstate Adams County, where Quincy is located, issued a subpoena in late August to the Illinois Department of Public Health. It asked for a series of documents pertaining to the mistaken discharge of what a former state public health official characterized as a “broth of Legionella” – a mistake that may have caused the first deadly Legionnaires’ outbreak in 2015.
The document, which the state agency provided WBEZ on Thursday in response to an open-records request, also sought information about the state’s delay in installing special faucet filters first recommended in 2015 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Chicago Teachers Union voted in overwhelming numbers to authorize a strike, union officials announced late Thursday. The union is planning to set a strike date next Wednesday. Teachers likely will walk out in mid-October if no deal is reached by then.
CTU leaders said 94% of members had voted in favor of a strike, surpassing the 75% threshold required by law. Some 90% of the ballots had been counted Thursday night.
The earliest the union’s 25,000 teachers could strike is Oct. 7, though indications from the CTU are that a walkout would come closer to mid-October. […]
With the vote, the CTU joins more than 7,000 members of SEIU Local 73 who already voted in favor of a strike. SEIU represents school support staff workers at CPS who include special education classroom assistants, bus aides, security guards and custodians. Park District workers have also authorized a strike, possibly putting a dent in the city’s usual plan during a teachers’ strike of sending the about 300,000 students at district-run schools to Park District buildings. […]
“We’ve had a very successful launch of the start of school,” the mayor told reporters at a South Side event. “Our kids are involved and engaged in their extra-curricular activities. They’re bonding with their teachers. Having a strike would be catastrophic for the learning environment for our kids. We can’t lose sight of that.
“In our schools, there’s lots of different pieces that go into making that ecosystem the kind of learning environment where our kids can be successful and thrive. Of course teachers are a big part of that but, fundamentally, we’ve got to focus on our kids and keeping them in school,” Lightfoot said. “We know that kids who stay in school are much less likely to be victims of crime and much less likely to be perpetrators of crime, so putting 360,000 kids on the street when a deal is right here at our fingertips, how does that make sense? It doesn’t.”
Davis Gates challenged the mayor, saying the city doesn’t adequately fund after-school programs.
“To immediately go to crime and to try to shift blame to teachers for crime and to label our students as perpetrators is absolutely irresponsible,” Davis Gates said. “… She is out of line and she needs to apologize to our members for making such a gross offensive statement, and she needs to apologize to our students and our families for labeling them as criminals.”
…Adding… Five presidential candidates support the CTU…