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Gaming Board ignored admissions of illegal gambling and tax fraud, and that came back to bite them today

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Tribune, 2015

Testifying under a grant of immunity, [Vince Dublino] said he would visit each bar every week or so to count up the money and split the proceeds with the bar owners after paying off the winners under the table. He told the jury he then underreported the income on the machines on his taxes and on the tax forms he filled out for the taverns he serviced. On top of that, he told jurors he was still operating the so-called gray games at the time of his testimony, when video gambling in Illinois was still illegal.

Dublino testified that in summer 2002, an irate Sarno accosted him outside a Berwyn bar after learning the witness planned to install illegal video gambling machines in a Lyons diner that was on the mobster’s turf. […]

Dublino’s admissions of illegal gambling and tax fraud weren’t sufficient to bar him from receiving a handler’s license from the Gaming Board in 2013. The following year, the board granted him his first establishment license at his bar in Berwyn, Nonna D’s, which allows him to pocket 35 percent of the profits from each of the five machines he installed. This year, the board granted establishment licenses allowing him to install five machines each in Vinny’s Cafe and another bar he owns.

“The board’s investigation revealed no evidence that Dublino is a member of organized crime but did indicate that he cooperated with law enforcement by testifying against organized crime at the trial of Mike Sarno,” Gaming Board spokesman Paul Prezioso said in an email response to Tribune questions about Dublino’s licenses. “Mr. Dublino’s known record does not disqualify him from licensure.”

* Today…

Illinois State Police (ISP) and Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) officials announce the arrest of Vincenzo Dublino, a forty-five (45) year old man of Oak Brook, Illinois (DuPage County), who was arrested and charged with two counts of Felony Theft and one count of Forgery.

In 2017, Illinois Gaming Board Agents received information alleging Dublino was knowingly taking United States Currency from Accel Entertainment Gaming, LLC (Accel), an Illinois licensed video gaming terminal operator, by submitting fraudulent documentation for reimbursement. After receiving this information, a thorough investigation ensued. As a result of the investigation, on Tuesday, October 29, 2019, Illinois Gaming Board Agents arrested Dublino at his residence without incident. Dublino was arrested and charged with two counts of Felony Theft and one count of Forgery. Dublino was lodged at the DuPage County Jail on a $50,000 bond.

Dublino is a licensed video gaming terminal handler for Accel, and he is also an Accel sales agent. The Gaming Board voted on December 12, 2018, to order Accel to disassociate from Dublino and to issue a disciplinary complaint to revoke Dublino’s terminal handler license. These matters are currently pending.

“The IGB takes all allegations of wrongdoing by its licensees seriously,” said Illinois Gaming Board Administrator Marcus D. Fruchter. “The IGB works closely with all of its federal, state and local law enforcement partners to maintain the integrity and safety of gaming in Illinois.”

“These matters are currently pending” almost a year later? What?

* And here he is…

Hat tip: Hannah Meisel.


Gov. Pritzker claps back at President Trump

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* AP

Visiting Chicago for the first time as president, Donald Trump disparaged the city Monday as a haven for criminals that is “embarrassing to us as a nation.”

* From the president’s speech

It’s embarrassing to us as a nation. All over the world, they’re talking about Chicago. Afghanistan is a safe place by comparison. (Laughter.) It’s true. […]

Last year alone, here in Illinois, local officials blocked ICE detainers for illegal aliens responsible for hundreds of offensive — including homicide, trafficking deadly drugs, trafficking humans, robbery, and sexual assault.

* Politifact

[US Sen. Richard Durbin] said that in Illinois, less than 20% of immigrants who are deported “have been charged with any serious crime.”

Limited federal backs that up, but it comes with a few caveats — most notably the fact that the available count includes all individuals who departed from Illinois at the time of their deportation. That means they may have resided and been arrested in a state other than Illinois before leaving the country.

We rate Durbin’s claim Mostly True.

* Gov. JB Pritzker Twitter thread

If President @realDonaldTrump wants to know what’s ‘embarrassing to us as a nation,’ he should look in the mirror.

Offering no solutions to the real challenges facing cities across America – from poverty to gun violence – the President used his visit to Chicago to spew hateful rhetoric that has no place in that great city or our great state.

Comparing any Illinois city to war-torn Afghanistan is insulting & wrong. Chicago is the crown jewel of Illinois: the transportation & logistics hub of the nation, home to world-class universities & a thriving economy and a shining example of the values that make America special.

While we shouldn’t be surprised at the character deficit of someone who lied and cheated his way to the top, the American people should demand more from the man who holds the highest office in the land.

Having a President who visits a great American city only to slander our residents, our communities and our police officers is embarrassing to us as a nation.

Having a President who demeans immigrant families in a country built by immigrants is embarrassing to us as a nation.

Having a President who so thoroughly disregards the rule of law – putting foreign dictators over the American people and using the federal government to enrich himself – is embarrassing to us as a nation.

The President has committed impeachable acts, and @realDonaldTrump must be held accountable. No one is above the law.

Take a deep breath before commenting, please.

…Adding… Another view

Illinois state Rep. Chris Miller (R-Oakland) argues that a new poll revealing that Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s disapproval numbers have climbed to above 40 percent does not accurately represent the sentiment in the 110th District.

“I would say those numbers would be shockingly low among the people in my district,” Miller told the East Central Reporter. “It’s closer to 90 percent where I live, and it’s because he’s been part of passing legislation that is the most egregious ever. It’s killing babies, putting small business owners out of business and tyrannizing taxpayers and hardworking people everywhere.” […]

“All those things would be drivers of why people are starting to feel the way they do about him,” Miller said. “I think it’s going to get worse as he’s voted to get more kids hooked on dope with this recreational marijuana law and all the taxes. It’s just a downward spiral as we move toward a more addictive society.”


CPS strike updates

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Yesterday

At a time when union leaders claim another $38 million could end the teachers strike, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s 2020 budget requires the Chicago Public Schools to reimburse the city for $60 million in pension contributions previously covered by City Hall. […]

[The mayor’s budget overview] states: “In 2020, an additional $60 million is expected from Chicago Public Schools to cover a portion of its share of the city’s annual contribution to the Municipal Employees’ Annuity and Benefit Fund.”

For years, City Hall has covered the school system’s annual contribution to the largest of four city employee pension funds. […]

And, according to a Chicago Teachers Union official, Lightfoot also wants CPS to repay the city for $33 million in security costs, although the city says that’s not a new demand this year.

* This morning

Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union met at the bargaining table for nearly 16 hours Monday with talks ending around 2:00 a.m. with no resolution.

* Late this morning

At a City Hall press conference, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the union’s bargaining team “continues to move the goalposts and bring in more issues that do not belong in any collective bargaining contract” by introducing issues that don’t belong in a contract and demanding a reduction in class time for students.

The union wants her to support a bill for an elected school board in Springfield that she opposed and changes to the state law that restricts what issues CTU can strike over, Lightfoot said.

As a mayoral candidate, Lightfoot promised to support an elected school board but she has opposed a bill supported by the union that would create a board that’s too large.“

Are we really keeping our kids out of class unless I agree to support the CTU’s full political agenda wholesale?” Lightfoot said. “If the CTU wants a deal, there’s a deal to be had, right now, on the table.”

* Early this afternoon

The Chicago Teachers Union has called in its House of Delegates for a key meeting Tuesday evening to discuss the state of negotiations with Chicago Public Schools.

The meeting will bring the union’s 800-plus school-level delegates up to date on the latest talks and could set the stage for either a vote on the school district’s current offer or another meeting in the next day or two for the governing body to end the now nine-day strike.

The delegates are set to meet at 6 p.m. at the CTU’s Near West Side headquarters.

* A few minutes ago…


NCAA switches course on athletes benefiting from their names

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* As we discussed yesterday, Gov. JB Pritzker said he supported legislation allowing Illinois college athletes to be compensated for their likenesses.


The NCAA Board of Governors has taken the first step toward allowing athletes to cash in on their fame. The board voted unanimously on Tuesday to clear the way for the amateur athletes to “benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness.”

The vote came during a meeting at Emory University in Atlanta.

In a news release, board chair Michael V. Drake said the board realized that it “must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes.”

…Adding… Earlier today…


…Adding… No hard plan as of yet…


Cullerton says state/city owned casino off table, Fix the FOID still stalled in Senate

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Senate President John Cullerton was asked today about the Chicago casino negotiations and specifically about joint state/city ownership

It’s not about the ownership, that’s not an issue any more. We’re talking about the rates. The tax rates that passed were apparently too high that Chicago may not even get a casino. If that happens, the state loses money.

I think we’re pretty close to a compromise on changing those rates that would result in us being able to pass a bill.

Subscribers know some details of what’s under discussion.

* He was also asked about SB1966, a bill to require fingerprinting of FOID card recipients (among other things) which passed the House in the spring and then stalled in the Senate

We had a very positive meeting on that today with a number of members that are affected. That bill will be in a position to require 36 votes, which I don’t believe we have today.

* Related…

* Country Club Hills, Crestwood drop casino bids; field down to four in south suburbs as state deadline passes

* Road map to riches — or ruin?


*** UPDATED x1 *** Madigan files paperwork to initiate process of removing Arroyo from office

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

House Speaker Michael J. Madigan released the following statement Tuesday:

“Today, I filed the necessary paperwork initiating the official process of removing Representative Luis Arroyo from office. At my request, Representatives Fred Crespo, Justin Slaughter and Barbara Hernandez will serve on an investigative committee as required under House rules. They will plan on meeting for the first time this Friday, Nov. 1, with a second meeting on Friday, Nov. 8.”

…Adding… From the House Republicans…

We will have our three announced later this afternoon

*** UPDATE *** Appointed…


Cullerton wants legislator lobbying addressed, wants two-chamber solution, talks about expulsion, addresses Link questions

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* In the wake of Rep. Luis Arroyo’s arrest, Senate President John Cullerton told reporters today that he wants to work with the House on rules and statutory changes. He said the two chambers worked together after Rod Blagojevich was impeached to put together an ethics package

We are definitely going to deal with responses to the other incidences of ethics violations that have been alleged by working with the House and working with ethics changes.

I went back and looked at what we did when Blagojevich was impeached. We had a joint committee with the House and the Senate. So I’m going to talk to the speaker about urging us to do that again, have hearings to find responsible changes to our rules and our statutes to address it.

There are clearly some issues we’re dealing with, that were not addressed ten years ago with regard to lobbying, which is something we should look at for sure.

* A reporter pointed out to Cullerton today that the House will likely soon begin an investigative process into Rep. Arroyo. So what will he do about Sen. Tom Cullerton, who’s been indicted?

That’s what we’re gonna talk about with regard to the House. It doesn’t do any good just to have one chamber dealing something. I think it’s important that we look and see if we have to have any statutes changed. So, we’re gonna talk to them and I’m gonna talk to the speaker today.

* Cullerton was then asked what it would take to possibly expel Tom Cullerton

There’s a whole bunch of different issues with regard to that. There’s issues dealing with whether or not the activity alleged directly relates to the legislature, like taking a bribe to pass a bill, something like that. As opposed to something that’s not related. That’s an issue.

There’s issues dealing with due process for the people that are charged with a crime, allowing them to defend themselves while they’re also defending themselves in a different forum. It’s very complicated. So I think the best thing to do is set up a joint committee with the House and have testimony on the various ways in which we can change the rules to address them.

He said later than Sen. Tom Cullerton’s indicment doesn’t appear to involve the legislature and noted that Sen. Sandoval hasn’t yet been charged with anything.

* Cullerton also said he’s talked with Sen. Terry Link in the past 24 hours about a gaming bill for the city of Chicago. Cullerton said that Link is still his point person on gaming and since Link denies that he is the cooperating witness, “I don’t know what else you can say about that.”

Cullerton said he hadn’t talked to Link about the Arroyo case. He was asked how he deals with a caucus which includes someone who may be wearing a wire

I just learned about it yesterday, I haven’t had a chance, we didn’t even talk about it in our own caucus yesterday. So I don’t know what people want to do. That’s why I want to see what the members want to do in response to it. That’s all I can say. We don’t even know who it is, you see.


Sen. Link: “I’m not going to continually answer this every day of my life”

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Background is here if you need it. This recording is courtesy of Hannah Meseil at the Daily Line. She was talking to Senate President John Cullerton and then Sen. Terry Link (D-Waukegan) was approached by reporters and Hannah quickly shifted to that conversation

Link: I said what’s their source? You answer me. You’re a reporter. I answered the question yesterday. I’m not going to continually answer this every day of my life. I’m down here to do a job that I was elected to do and that’s what I’m gonna do.

Reporter: But how are you going to do that job if everyone suspects…

Link: Real easy! Real easy. Because you’re the only ones that are bothering me. The public’s not bothering me. I’m getting emails from all of my constituents very happy with me. ‘Stick in there.’ ‘Fight.’ And so they’re not mad at me. I don’t represent you, I represent them.

Reporter: So you’re saying you are not, you did not wear a wire.

Link: Why don’t you ask them where they got their source? [Cross talk] Hey, you know I’ve been around a long time. I know how people like to twist my words. I’m not gonna twist, I’m not gonna twist my words.

Some video is here.

More on the rest of this audio later.


Durkin’s EtO bill goes down in House committee

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Jerry Nowicki at Capitol News Illinois

The House Energy and Environment Committee diverged Monday on a pair of highly-publicized bills aiming to better regulate ethylene oxide gas emissions in the state, passing one while letting another remain in committee.

The opposing votes represented a largely partisan split in a months-long effort from lawmakers to impose stricter regulations on, and create greater local authority to regulate, a known cancer-causing gas used in medical supply sterilization and manufacturing processes.

House Bill 3885, sponsored by House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, a Western Springs Republican, failed to pass with 11 voting in favor and 17, all Democrats, voting present. That bill would have given home rule municipalities the authority to ban ethylene oxide emissions from sterilization facilities within their communities.

Democrats voted present on the bill after Durkin would not commit to any Republican support for House Bill 3888, a stronger ethylene oxide regulatory bill sponsored by Waukegan Democratic Rep. Rita Mayfield, which was to be heard later in the committee hearing.

* Leader Durkin’s response…

The actions taken today by the House Democrats to block my legislation that would allow local municipalities to ban the use of ethylene oxide just proves they put partisan politics ahead of the health and safety of Illinois residents, including their own constituents.

The trouble some have with the Durkin bill is that some believe that Waukegan will not act on its own to shut down the EtO-using company Medline because it employs so many people there. Local activists want the plant gone.

* Hannah Meisel at the Daily Line

Durkin filed a bill to allow [home rule] municipalities to ban the use of ethylene oxide in their towns. But State Rep. Rita Mayfield (D-Waukegan), facing a primary challenge over ethylene oxide issues, filed a bill that would completely phase out the use of ethylene oxide in the state. Business interests, which had mostly stayed out of the fight in the spring, have now jumped on board to oppose that bill.

Durkin’s bill, HB 3885, failed in committee Monday, with Democrats voting no. The lone “present” vote was from State Rep. Mary Edly-Allen (D-Libertyville), who was still listed as a sponsor on the bill. State Rep. Joyce Mason (D-Gurnee) withdrew her sponsorship of Durkin’s bill prior to Monday’s committee.

Edly-Allen told The Daily Line after the vote that she still wanted Durkin’s bill to be heard, but said Durkin’s “bill didn’t have as much teeth as Rita’s.”

“And it really just comes down to keeping people safe,” she said. “Hers is much more aggressive. I think that’s what the people want.” […]

During the committee roll call, both State Rep. Will Davis (D-Homewood) and State Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston) said they were voting yes “to get the bill out of committee.” Gabel added that she thought there “may be a compromise here.”

Mayfield’s Democratic primary opponent is an organizer against local EtO use.

* Related…

* Health Department: ‘Extended air monitoring’ for ethylene oxide underway outside Gurnee and Waukegan plants

* ‘I’ve never gotten sick’: Employees from Medline stage protest in Waukegan against ethylene oxide regulations

* Medline Quality Division president: Illinois shouldn’t ban ethylene oxide, which ensures the state’s supply of sterile medical products


Question of the day

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Greg Bishop at Center Square

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker wouldn’t say Monday if Michael Madigan should step down as House Speaker, or even as chairman of the state’s Democratic Party, despite Madigan being named in a sweeping federal corruption probe. […]

Earlier this month, Chicago public radio WBEZ reported Madigan’s name was included in a subpoena sent to the City Club of Chicago. Federal agents also raided the offices of several people associated with Madigan, including a former campaign worker and a former ComEd lobbyist. The FBI also recorded a conversation between Madigan, then-Chicago Ald. Danny Solis, and a businessman and a developer. Madigan was pitching his private law firm’s tax appeal services to the businessman, according to media reports. Madigan has not been charged with a crime.

Asked if Madigan should step down from his leadership positions, Pritzker said he wouldn’t tolerate corruption or deception.

“The kinds of things that we’ve seen that apparently have been now called out and even raids have taken place,” the governor said.

Pritzker said his position on Madigan was different than Sandoval. After the Sandoval raid, Pritzker asked the senator to step down from his committee leadership position.

“[The federal investigators] seem to be directly about transportation,” Pritzker said. “[Sandoval] was chairman of the Transportation Committee. I didn’t ask him to step down from his position as senator, but he should have and did step down as chairman of the transportation committee while we find out the rest of the story.”

Also this summer, prosecutors filed charges against State Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park, for allegedly embezzling money from the Teamsters union. Cullerton has pleaded not guilty.

Pritzker also talked about how Cullerton was transferred from heading the Labor Committee to the Veterans Affairs Committee after the indictment. That move allowed Cullerton to keep an extra stipend.

“I’ve been very clear that when there is direct action taken, very specifically, then that is the time in which I’ve been willing to come forward and will always be to call out the kind of corruption that we’re hearing about,” the governor said.

* The Question: What should Gov. Pritzker say about Speaker Madigan?


Clean Jobs Coalition says it has stopped negotiating with Exelon

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Steve Daniels at Crain’s

As the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition prepares to bus hundreds of activists to Springfield for a lobbying day [today], it confirmed that coalition members voted a week ago no longer to negotiate with any utilities on their bill to promote more energy sources in Illinois that don’t emit heat-trapping carbon.

The decision was made following news of federal subpoenas of Exelon and its Chicago utility Commonwealth Edison, tied to a grand-jury probe of corruption in the state capital and elsewhere.

“The utilities oppose the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Period. They have made that clear to us, and have made that clear to lawmakers,” a spokeswoman for the coalition said in an email. “We were asked by legislators to work with all stakeholders to find areas of agreement, and we have been diligently doing that, including with the utilities, among others. However, the steady revelation of news is troubling. While we continue to meet and talk with other stakeholders, last Monday, our coalition voted to suspend talks with the utilities indefinitely.” […]

To say that Exelon opposes the Clean Energy Jobs Act may be true technically. But Exelon executives have spoken out repeatedly in favor of the centerpiece of the legislation, which is a state takeover from a federally chartered regional organization of the responsibility of determining the mix of power plants paid each month by ratepayers to promise to deliver when demand is highest and resources are most needed.

Go read the rest of Steve’s report for why Exelon favors a big aspect of that bill.


Unclear on the concept

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Illinois Policy Institute

Gov. J.B. Pritzker claims only 3% of Illinois taxpayers will see their tax bills go up under his progressive income tax ballot measure.

But that picture changes significantly at the community level.

In Wilmette, for example, nearly a quarter of all taxpayers, 22%, will see higher income taxes if voters approve Pritzker’s progressive income tax amendment at the ballot box in November 2020. Springfield would take an additional $75 million from those taxpayers, in total.

A staggering 39% of joint filers in Wilmette would be hit with a tax increase, according to IRS data:

    1,446 fall into the $250,001 to $500,000 tax bracket
    729 fall into the $500,001 to $1 million bracket
    426 fall into the more than $1 million bracket

Additionally, 165 Wilmette single filers would experience a tax increase:

    76 fall into the $250,001 to $350,000 tax bracket
    76 fall into the $350,001 to $750,000 bracket
    43 fall into the $750,001 or more bracket

Several Ricketts family members reside in Wilmette. So, yeah, that’s the whole idea of this thing.


Arroyo at sweepstakes hearing: “Somebody here is lying”

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Dan Mihalopoulos at WBEZ last year

For years, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been staunchly opposed to allowing video gambling machines at bars and restaurants in the city, hoping instead to land approval for one big downtown casino.

But unregulated devices that look and work almost exactly like video poker machines are popping up in places all over Chicago.

Thanks to these machines — often referred to as “sweepstakes” — the city has become studded with what effectively are mini-casinos in gas stations, convenience stores, and even a laundromat.

Unlike the video poker machines that the state has regulated and taxed since 2012, the other machines don’t pay state or local government. And the state does not conduct background checks of sweepstakes machine operators or the businesses that install them, as is required for video poker licenses.

* Tribune

According to the charges unveiled Monday, CW-1 told the FBI that [Rep. Luis Arroyo, D-Chicago] had approached him about “the passage of sweepstakes-related legislation” during the House’s spring session.

Arroyo is a manager of a lobbying firm called Spartacus 3 LLC, which includes as a client the owner of a company involved in video gambling sweepstakes machines, according to the complaint.

Sweepstakes machines, sometimes called “gray machines,” allow customers to put in money, receive a coupon to redeem for merchandise online and then play electronic games like slot machines. Critics contend the largely unregulated devices, which operate in cities like Chicago that have banned video gambling, are designed to skirt the law.

In that Mihalopoulos story from last year, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, who sponsored a bill to outlaw the machines, said he played a sweepstakes machine and was paid a cash prize, not a coupon.

* Sun-Times

The case against Arroyo revolves around his lobbying work in Chicago as manager of Spartacus 3 LLC. Arroyo signed a deal between Spartacus 3 and V.S.S. Inc. in August 2018 that promised $2,500 in monthly payments from V.S.S. to Spartacus. V.S.S. had hired Arroyo’s company to lobby the Chicago City Council for a sweepstakes ordinance, according to the feds.

Sweepstakes machines are not regulated by the Illinois Gaming Board but look like regular slot machines.

Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) said he introduced an ordinance in 2018 to legalize sweepstakes machines in the city and tax them after being approached by Arroyo on behalf of two firms “that wanted to come out of the shadows” to end questions about whether they were operating lawfully.

Also contacting Villegas in support of the ordinance was James Weiss, son-in-law of former Cook County assessor and Democratic chairman Joe Berrios, the alderman said. Villegas said Weiss is an owner-operator of sweepstakes machines. Weiss is married to Berrios’ daughter, former state Rep. Toni Berrios.

* Mihalopoulos yesterday dug up the recording of a House committee hearing in May about sweepstakes games

[Former Gaming Board lawyer William Bogot], who is now in private practice, told lawmakers that “every published case in the country that has looked at a sweepstakes vending machine has held them to be illegal.”

At that point, Arroyo interrupted Bogot.

“I’m just concerned with Illinois,” Arroyo said. “Not New York, none of the other states. I don’t care what goes on in any of those other states. I want to know what’s happening here.”

Arroyo said a lobbyist for the sweepstakes companies had testified that there were court cases in their favor.

“He says it’s not illegal, you’re saying it’s illegal,” Arroyo told Bogot. “Somebody here is lying. Why are you up here saying it’s illegal? Either you’re lying or the gentleman in the back [of the] room is lying.”



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Tuesday, Oct 29, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Madigan: “I’m not a target of anything”

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* This is the same basic playbook Madigan used during the #MeToo scandals. Eject the accused, promise a change in state laws and conduct a review of what went wrong

After a closed-door House Democrats caucus meeting Monday afternoon, Madigan handed out a written statement saying Arroyo had agreed to step down from his committee chairmanship, but he said he agreed with Durkin that Arroyo should resign immediately or face disciplinary proceedings.

“I urge Representative Arroyo to resign from the House of Representatives, effective immediately,” Madigan said in the statement. “If he refuses, I will take the necessary steps to begin the process to remove him from office.”

Madigan, who has served as speaker for all but two years since 1983, also said he plans to call in “stakeholders and experts” to re-examine the state’s ethics and lobbying laws, but he said he didn’t know why it isn’t already illegal in Illinois for the owner of a lobbying firm to serve as a lawmaker.

“I don’t know the answer to that question. That’s the type of thing that should be addressed by this group that we’re going to convene,” he said to a group of reporters Monday in the Capitol.

Legislators shouldn’t be lobbying local governments. They also shouldn’t be selling red light cams to local governments. And, a case could very well be made that they shouldn’t be involved in local zoning matters or even property tax appeals.

* Madigan also said this

“I’m not a target of anything,” Madigan said.

…Adding… I should’ve put this story here

Amid an ongoing flurry of federal investigative activity pertaining to state government, a bipartisan group of lawmakers called during a Statehouse news conference Monday for the creation of a task force to recommend greater ethical safeguards.

“We’re not here to be the judge and the jury at all, we are here to start a conversation,” Rep. Tony McCombie, a Savanna Republican, said. ”… We need the people who put us in office to be able to rely on us and trust us, and today, they can’t do that.”

McCombie is sponsoring House Joint Resolution 87, which would create a bipartisan task force to examine state ethics laws and how to better improve and enforce them. […]

Maurice West, a Rockford Democrat who has been in office since January, agreed with his Republican colleagues.

“This issue should not be a partisan issue. Matter of fact, it should not even be a bipartisan issue, this should be a moral issue,” West said.


*** UPDATED x2 - Cullerton addresses issue - Now 13 *** Nine Chicago House members say they’ll vote against Lightfoot’s real estate transfer tax bill

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

With Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot already facing formidable odds in her quest to convince the Illinois Legislature to approve an increase in the city’s Real Estate Transfer Tax (RETT), nine state lawmakers said Tuesday they’re not prepared to vote for the measure unless it includes funds dedicated to alleviating homelessness.

In a letter submitted to Lightfoot, members of the Illinois House of Representatives wrote, “It is our intention to support your proposed Real Estate Transfer Tax increase only if a significant amount is statutorily dedicated to homelessness, and we believe that at least 60% should go toward that purpose.”

The letter is signed by State Reps. Kambium Buckner (D-26th); Will Guzzardi (D-39th); Aaron Ortiz (D-1st); Elizabeth Hernandez (D-24th); Thaddeus Jones (D-29th); Theresa Mah (D-2nd); Delia Ramirez (D-14th); Anne Stava-Murray (D-81st); and Celina Villanueva (D-21st).

Their announcement threatens to place another hurdle in Lightfoot’s path, unless the Mayor is willing to revisit a proposal to allocate some of the tax funds to reducing homelessness – a concept that she repeatedly promised to support during her campaign for office.

While soliciting support on the campaign trail, Lightfoot touted a proposal to increase the RETT on higher-priced property sales to pay for programs that reduce homelessness and expand affordable housing. But in the wake of her election, she gutted those provisions from her plan and now is seeking legislative authorization to funnel all revenues from the tax increase into the city’s coffers to defray Chicago’s budget deficit.

On Tuesday, several of the lawmakers who signed the letter joined members of the Bring Chicago Home coalition – which has championed a measure akin to the one Lightfoot promoted in her campaign – at a news conference to say that they share the Mayor’s commitment to resolving the budget deficit, but also believe the 86,000 Chicago residents currently afflicted by with homelessness shouldn’t be a casualty to that effort.

“Chicagoans experiencing homelessness are already struggling on the margins, so we shouldn’t exacerbate their woes by leaving them stranded from the legislative support they were promised,” Rep. Ramirez said. “The proposed RETT increase is one mechanism in Mayor Lightfoot’s arsenal to rectify the budget deficit, and I would certainly favor using it for that purpose, in part. But we should do that in concert with, rather than at the expense of, Chicago’s homeless population. In fact, funding aid for the homeless is the one justification for the proposed RETT increase that has already garnered public support.”

In a 2018 public opinion poll, two-thirds of Chicago’s likely voters said they supported the proposal to increase the RETT on properties sold for more than $1 million if the money was legally dedicated to programs that relief homelessness.

This doesn’t necessarily kill the mayor’s RETT plan, but it sure isn’t a good sign. Their letter to Lightfoot is here. Lightfoot has justified her change of position by pointing to the city’s large budget deficit.

*** UPDATE ***

Rich, just an update: The number of signatures on the letter — the latest editions of it is attached — has expanded to 13. The names:

T. Jones

*** UPDATE 2 *** Senate President John Cullerton was asked about the issue today

There’s a difference of opinion in our caucus on the real estate transfer tax, we’ll see. It’s just something we need to address. […]

There’s concerns that [progressives in his caucus] raised about how the money would be spent. So we talked about the fact that our state legislation would not spend the money. We would only authorize the city to spend the money. So that’s maybe something that the progressive members of the House were not aware of.


*** UPDATED x1 - Shimkus says he’s re-thinking plans *** Shimkus says he’s been asked to reconsider retirement

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The Hill

Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), who announced this summer he won’t run for reelection in 2020, said Monday night he has been asked to reconsider his decision.

In a brief interview with The Hill outside the Capitol, the 23-year veteran lawmaker declined to say whether House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) or Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), the House GOP campaign arm’s chief, had asked him to run again.

Shimkus, 61, also declined to say whether he was seriously entertaining the idea.

But his remarks come at an interesting time. Earlier Monday, longtime Oregon Rep. Greg Walden, the top Republican on the influential House Energy and Commerce Committee, announced that he would retire at the end of this term, even though he could have served in the top job through January 2023.

Walden had defeated both Shimkus and then-Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) for the Energy and Commerce gavel in a hotly contested 2016 race. Barton had previously served as chairman, and Shimkus had more seniority than Walden on the committee.

*** UPDATE *** Politico reporter…


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* Reader comments closed for the weekend
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