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Reader comments closed for Thanksgiving

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2019

* I’ll be back Monday. Thanks so much for everything this year. And thanks to the skeleton crew of commenters who stuck it out all day today. I’ll talk at y’all on the flip side. Meanwhile, here is our traditional sign-off

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


ISBE: Sandoval submits resignation

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2019

* According to the Illinois State Board of Elections, embattled state Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago) has submitted his resignation effective January 1, 2020 at 12:01 pm.

That resignation date will trigger a special nominating petition filing period which, according to the Board, will run from December 3-9. The usual signature requirement will apply in order to qualify for the spring primary ballot.

The committeepersons in the district will also have 30 days after the resignation date to choose a replacement. That person will then serve until December 7, 2020, according to the board.

…Adding… The 13th and 23rd Wards have enough weighted vote combined to make the appointment on their own.

…Adding… More…


* There had been rumors that Senate President John Cullerton would also submit a similar resignation this week and therefore trigger the special nominating petition filing period. But Board spokesperson Matt Dietrich said they’ve been told this won’t happen.

If Cullerton waits until after the filing period ends, Cullerton’s replacement will effectively be the party’s nominee and won’t face the voters until November of 2020. The district is overwhelming Democratic, however, so the appointment is the replacement, barring some divine intervention.

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      


Pearson gets to sleep in Sunday mornings

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2019

* I am a devotee of Rick Pearson’s Sunday Spin show on WGN Radio, but I’ve never once listened to it live. I mean, 7-9 on Sunday mornings? Nope. Hard pass. I need my beauty rest (desperately, even). Instead I listen to it online at my leisure.

Maybe I’ll get my first chance at listening to it live now, except if the Bears are playing the afternoon game

The music of Ol’ Blue Eyes will air exclusively from 6:30 to 9 a.m. Sundays on WGN 720-AM, the Nexstar Media news/talk station announced Tuesday.

Starting December 8, David Plier will host the locally-produced showcase devoted solely to the classic tunes of Frank Sinatra, leading into “Dean Richards’ Sunday Morning” from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. […]

To accommodate the new addition, WGN will move “Steve Dale’s Pet World” to 5:30 a.m. Sundays and “The Sunday Spin: Politics with Rick Pearson” to 5 p.m. Sundays.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      


Feds blame lies to grand jury for failure to bring charges against Dorothy Brown

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2019

* Welp…


* This information was sort of cryptically revealed last week

Federal prosecutors want a judge to send a longtime Dorothy Brown worker to prison for more than two years after they said she lied to a grand jury, “threw a wrench in the wheels of justice and ground them to a halt.”

They also said the lies Beena Patel told the grand jury investigating job-selling allegations in the office of Brown, the clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, “directly impacted the government’s ability to charge those most culpable in the illegal activity.” […]

The feds’ investigation centered in part around a $15,000 payment by Sivasubramani Rajaram allegedly to land a job at the clerk’s office. The feds say Rajaram made a $5,000 cash payment at a meeting at the Corner Bakery across from the Daley Center. But when prosecutors asked Patel about that meeting in front of the grand jury, they said Patel gave misleading answers.

“She attempted to minimize her own involvement by stating that Rajaram slid the envelope containing $5,000 in cash directly to the Clerk,” McShain wrote in Tuesday’s memo.

Prosecutors said it was Patel who accepted the cash.

…Adding… Mike Cabonargi, candidate for Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County…

The Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County should be held to the highest ethical standards in order to foster access to justice. It should not be an office where Federal investigators spend years combing through allegations of corruption and lies, ultimately eroding the trust that should exist between the people of Cook County and the court system. It is time to usher in a new era of justice and credibility, and as a former Federal prosecutor, I’m the only candidate with a Reform Plan to do so.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Illinois makes over $40 million a year selling drivers license info

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2019

* Vice publication Motherboard

The California Department of Motor Vehicles is generating revenue of $50,000,000 a year through selling drivers’ personal information, according to a DMV document obtained by Motherboard.

DMVs across the country are selling data that drivers are required to provide to the organization in order to obtain a license. This information includes names, physical addresses, and car registration information. California’s sales come from a state which generally scrutinizes privacy to a higher degree than the rest of the country. […]

The document doesn’t name the commercial requesters, but some specific companies appeared frequently in Motherboard’s earlier investigation that looked at DMVs across the country. They included data broker LexisNexis and consumer credit reporting agency Experian. Motherboard also found DMVs sold information to private investigators, including those who are hired to find out if a spouse is cheating. It is unclear if the California DMV has recently sold data to these sorts of entities. […]

In an email to Motherboard, the California DMV said that requesters may also include insurance companies, vehicle manufacturers, and prospective employers.

Asked if the sale of this data was essential to the DMV, Marty Greenstein, public information officer at the California DMV, wrote that its sale furthers objectives related to highway and public safety, “including availability of insurance, risk assessment, vehicle safety recalls, traffic studies, emissions research, background checks, and for pre- and existing employment purposes.”

* I asked Secretary of State Jesse White’s spokesperson Dave Druker if Illinois does this. His response…

We provide information to eligible groups in accordance with the national Driver’s Privacy Protection Act and state law. Such sources include law enforcement, courts, government agencies, insurance companies and employers hiring people, especially for driving positions. All agreements are signed off by our legal department and must meet the highest standards for privacy protection, and cannot be used for commercial solicitation. The money generated goes to the state’s general revenue.

I followed up with a question of how much money this brings in…

It has generated $41 million this year, and it is expected to reach $44 million for the calendar year.

Thoughts?

*** UPDATE *** From Druker…

Hi Rich.

Just wanted to mention on the sale of driving records, social security numbers are not made available. Having driving records allows insurance companies to know the driving history of the person seeking insurance, and in the case of trucking companies, they are required to see an official driving record before they hire someone. Enjoy the weekend.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


The hollowing out of Illinois government: IEPA

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2019

* As I’ve said before, the high point in Illinois government was around Fiscal Year 2001. After that, it’s been all downhill due to two recessions (post 9/11 and the international financial collapse) and vastly increased pension payments. Here’s Ted Cox at One Illinois..

“Protecting the Illinois EPA’s Health, so That It Can Protect Ours” was written by Mark Templeton, heading a team from the Abrams Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School, as well as former IEPA and U.S. EPA staffers Mary Gade, Doug Scott, and Bharat Mathur — all of whom took part in a media conference call Tuesday.

Templeton said the report stemmed from “mutual shared concern about Illinois EPA” and its role “to protect public health and the environment.” They cited dwindling staff and resources at the agency dating back to 2003. According to Templeton, staffing last year was down to 639, almost half of the 1,265 EPA workers on staff in 2003. IEPA staffing and budget were cut every year going back to 2003, and stood at $382 million in the current budget for the 2020 fiscal year. down from $522 million in 2003. He pointed out that all came from a fee system that hadn’t been readjusted since 2003. Gade added that Illinois is the only state in the Great Lakes Region 5 area of the U.S. EPA that doesn’t fund its state EPA through general appropriations.

Gade, who headed IEPA throughout the ‘90s, added that statewide inspections had dropped from a couple thousand a year to a few hundred. Citing the “cumulative impact of years of declining IEPA budgets,” she said the “slow, gradual decline … needs to be reversed and reversed quickly.” She said failure to adequately test emissions of ethylene oxide at Sterigenics in Willowbrook as well as firms in Lake County were one thing that had attracted much attention, but perhaps the greater danger was the smaller, unobserved “accumulating” problems in air and water statewide “that isn’t as clean as it needs to be.”

The report also cited that IEPA referrals to the Office of the Attorney General had declined from 212 under Gov. Pat Quinn in 2014 to just 78 under Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2016 before rebounding a little to 116 in 2017.

According to Mathur, there are now just four engineers in IEPA’s Chicago office, where previously there were more than a dozen, and the staffing situation was even more dire in central and southern Illinois.

The report is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Question of the day

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2019

* As we’ve discussed twice before this month, the legal definition of when a contribution is received is the day it is deposited in the bank. So, we don’t know exactly when these contributions were actually made without checking with the respective campaigns or ComEd’s PAC…


* The Question: Should ComEd’s political action committee stop contributing to legislators’ campaign funds for a while? If so, for how long? Make sure to explain your answer. Thanks.

*** UPDATE *** From Kimberly Lightford’s campaign…

Both checks mentioned by Steve Daniels were written on Sept 11, well before Anne Pramaggiore’s retirement.

The checks with redactions by me…

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      


Fun with numbers

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2019

* Center Square

A poll of Illinois residents found many think Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s progressive income tax proposal will have a negative effect on the state’s businesses, leading to layoffs or relocation in response to the higher rates.

The Illinois Business Association, a nonprofit business advocacy group, commissioned a poll by Chicago-based Ogden & Fry asking Illinois residents about how businesses will fare under Pritzker’s proposed graduated income rates, which are dependent on voters passing a ballot initiative in 2020.

Of 615 randomly sampled likely 2020 General Election voters on Nov. 15, 68 percent agreed with the statement that “Businesses will cut jobs, or relocate jobs out of state, and Illinois’ economy will suffer” under the proposed rates rather than create more jobs to grow the state’s economy.

Fifty-seven percent said they didn’t trust Illinois politicians, saying they though lawmakers would raise rates in the future beyond what was initially proposed.

Um, OK. First of all, if a pollster doesn’t disclose the percentage of landlines and mobile phone contacts, that raises a red flag, and this pollster does not do so. Robopolls can only legally contact landlines.

* Secondly, this is essentially a push poll. Here’s the setup to the first question

Q1: Governor Pritzker has proposed a new tax increase, the Fair Tax, that changes Illinois’ flat income tax to a progressive income tax that taxes higher levels of income at higher rates. It also increases taxes on corporations and small businesses. The governor says the tax increase is needed to help stabilize Illinois’ budget and grow the state economy. Opponents of the Fair Tax say that raising taxes on the wealthy and businesses will lead to job losses, jobs moving out of state, and economic stagnation.

No indication that the tax increase would be shouldered by just three percent of individual taxpayers. Big problem.

Now, here’s the question

Which of the following statements comes closest to your view, even if neither is one-hundred percent accurate?

Raising taxes on Illinois businesses is a good way to grow the state economy.

Raising taxes on Illinois businesses won’t lead to economic growth.

Um, OK.

* After two more such push questions, here’s the final question

Q4: Over the last decade, states with progressive income tax rates have seen slower growth in jobs and wages compared to states with flat tax rates or no state income taxes. In the most recent state to switch to a progressive income tax, middle class families have seen their taxes go up thirteen percent since it was enacted and the state lost 362,000 jobs. Knowing this, do you support or oppose adopting a progressive income tax?

    Support 23.3%
    Oppose 62.6%
    Undecided 14.0%

I’m surprised the support is as high as it is after all that.

* What this poll means is that if the opponents’ message has unfettered access to voters, their argument likely wins. But that won’t happen. The governor has almost unlimited money he can spend on his own arguments.

- Posted by Rich Miller   49 Comments      


Report: More troubles at the SJ-R

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2019

* Illinois Times

Kate Schott, State Journal-Register editorial page editor turned interim editor after her predecessor was walked out of the building and a successor had second thoughts about accepting the job, has left the newspaper. Informed sources say she’s gone to work at the University of Illinois Springfield in the campus advancement office, which concerns itself with alumni affairs and raising money. […]

It’s unclear just who’s running the SJ-R since Schott departed this week. At last check, there is no editor, interim or otherwise, listed on the opinion page masthead where folks in charge are listed.

The SJ-R’s “contact page” lists only one editor, an “Illinois Editor” based at the Peoria paper.

And it may get worse. Read the rest of the piece.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


Lincoln’s Proclamation of Thanksgiving

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2019

* Worth remembering

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      


Gettysburg Address displayed “with an exploding rat”

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2019

* Bruce Rushton

The inspector general’s office is at it again.

This time, gumshoes figured out that Alan Lowe, erstwhile executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, wasn’t up to snuff. The investigation, according to an IG report released last Friday, was sparked by a tipster who blew the whistle three weeks after I wrote a column detailing the sordid journey of the Gettysburg Address to Texas, where right-wing huckster Glenn Beck displayed it along with an exploding rat and other scrapings from his collection of stuff that includes a Darth Vader mask and a fake pair of Dorothy’s ruby slippers. If Elvis had run a thrift store, I’m guessing it would have looked a lot like the storage room at Mercury One, the Texas nonprofit headed by Beck.

Pretty much, the IG’s report parallels my January column that questioned why the ALPLM ignored protocols and entrusted the Gettysburg Address to an unaccredited museum holding its first exhibition under the supervision of a curator months removed from employment as a server at Pluckers Wing Bar. Labeling the Mercury One loan “reckless,” the IG called for Lowe’s head and said we’re fortunate that artifacts came back intact. Instead of being displayed in a gallery, the Gettysburg Address was hung in Beck’s office. To compare Beck to Ralphie unwrapping his Red Ryder BB gun doesn’t go far enough.

“It’s Christmas, come on!” Beck exclaims as the Gettysburg Address and other relics are taken from a crate. “Let’s open presents!” Lowe was absent in the video that was live-streamed while gawkers watched in person, contrary to recommendations from pros who say the arrival of valuables should be kept low key to minimize security risks. Lowe told the inspector general he was “off doing other things” when the speech and other artifacts were unpacked, and he was also busy elsewhere when relics were repacked for the return trip to Springfield. Beck, who at one point questions the need for gloves, helps carry the document valued at $20 million to a table in his office. “Come see it for yourself,” he tells his online audience. “Tickets are available at the door.”

Even after the inspector general received a complaint, Lowe played footsie with Beck, whose outfit asked to borrow more artifacts, including a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation.

But, yeah, Lowe’s ouster was all about politics. Right.

Go read the whole thing because there’s lots more.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


Sherri Garrett speaks out about McQueary column

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2019

* Sherri Garrett, you will recall, accused Tim Mapes last year of alleged sexual harassment and that led to his immediate ouster as House Speaker Michael Madigan’s chief of staff. Garrett approached Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) with her story after Cassidy had spoken out about Mapes.

Garrett sent this to Rep. Cassidy last night and Cassidy forwarded it to me with permission…

Kristen McQueary’s column was upsetting for me as someone who came forward to try to stop my harassment. Making the decision to speak out was incredibly difficult–but I just wanted the harassment to stop, and I felt I had no protection. I know how terrifying it is to decide to come forward, and I fear that columns like that of Ms. McQueary may have a chilling effect for those who are afraid that they won’t be believed, that their harasser or assaulter will be proclaimed to be deserving of redemption without having actually done anything to deserve said redemption.

This has been one of the most difficult experiences of my life. The truth is, nearly a year and a half since coming forward, I am still not fine. Mr. Mapes’ abuse has left a lasting effect on my soul. An apology never came my way from Mr. Mapes or the Speaker.

I wish for complete recovery for myself. I also wish that the person who harassed me would realize his wrongs and account for them. I would then love to see him go forward in life and be a better person to everyone. I don’t believe that can be accomplished when you do not recognize your wrongs.

That so many people are spending so much time and energy worrying about the well-being of the perpetrators and if they are okay is confusing to me. I believe we should all have a chance to rebound–but you must be willing to do what is right to earn that rebound.

We discussed the column in question yesterday.

Garrett is right, by the way. John Anthony denied being a sexual harasser and disputed accounts of the allegations that led to his firing at IDOC, even though some of it was caught on videotape. He only admitted to unspecified “mistakes,” and offered no public apology. Mapes has flatly denied wrongdoing.

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


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Wednesday, Nov 27, 2019

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