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IDOC issues new social media policy for employees

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Background is here. From Injustice Watch

Following Injustice Watch reporting last month about more than two dozen state correctional employees who participated in conversations that mocked or disclosed personal information about transgender inmates in private Facebook groups, the Illinois Department of Corrections announced a revised social media policy for its roughly 12,000 employees that goes into effect over the weekend.

The new social media policy specifically bars employees from sharing confidential information about prisoners or other staff, including details about current or past investigations and criminal or civil proceedings involving the department. The policy also prohibits any content that is vulgar, obscene, threatening, discriminatory, or disparaging based on race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.

New employees will be taught the policy prior to beginning their service, and all staffers will undergo training on the policy on an annual basis, the policy states.

In the two private Facebook groups, posts written by by low-level officers, sergeants, lieutenants, and other correctional staffers degraded transgender women, outed other LGBTQ prisoners, alleged sexual acts and disclosed information about medical treatments prisoners received.

The policy, which goes into effect December 1, also prohibits employees from sharing a wide range of information related to their employment with the department on social media, including their rank, title or position, department seals, logos, uniforms, and name tags, without express permission from the director.

All of the corrections officers named in Injustice Watch’s reporting had publicly identified themselves on social media as corrections staffers, had posted about their specific roles or had photos of themselves in uniform online.

The full directive is here.


Question of the day

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From the governor’s office…


The Office the Governor in Springfield will undergo renovations beginning the week of December 10 with the goal of improving functionality for staff. It is expected to conclude before the end of the year. The work will take place in the Governor’s working office and in the reception area on the second floor in the capitol. The Governor will be funding the renovations himself, at an estimated cost of $40,000.


    * The administration worked with the Architect of the Capitol to ensure the modifications will not compromise the historical integrity of the office.
    * The work will be done by a union firm that uses only union subcontractors.
    * The Governor’s working office is a small office that is beside the ceremonial office, and where the Governor primarily does his work.
    * The Governor’s working office will be renovated to improve soundproofing to make the area inside and outside of it more private. In the reception area, a partition will be installed so the space can be more accessible to staff.
    * The renovations to the reception area are temporary and can be easily removed at a future date.

* The Question: As long as he’s paying for the renovations, what “cool” stuff should the governor add to his working office?


Our sorry state

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The Crain’s story by Lynne Marek entitled “Looking for solutions to a black exodus in Illinois higher education” is worth a read in its entirety. But let’s take a look at this

Tuition and fees this year at the state’s 12 four-year public universities run $15,936, on average, according to data from the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, about 50 percent more than 10 years ago and about 50 percent more than the national in-state average of $10,440, according to the College Board.

That national average of $10,440 is far lower than any public university here. The lowest are Eastern Illinois University ($12,642), Southern Illinois University/Edwardsville ($13,034), Governors State University ($13,452), Chicago State University ($13,532) and Western Illinois University ($13,665).

* Back to Marek’s story

To defray costs, Pritzker proposed an increase this year in state financial aid available to college-bound students to $450 million and aims to take it to the highest level ever by 2023.

That’s a very good thing regardless of how out of line our tuition prices are.

But there’s also a real problem with the directionals and others being priced out. I mean, SIUC’s tuition is $15,774, which is $542 higher than University Of Illinois At Chicago and just $436 lower than UIUC, not to mention $5,334 higher than the national average.


Citing improved liquidity, Moody’s upgrades CPS a tick

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* FYI, “B” ratings are still junk territory. But the trend is heading the right direction, at least with Moody’s…

Moody’s Investors Service (Moody’s) has upgraded to B1 from B2 the rating on the Chicago Board of Education, IL’s (Chicago Public Schools, CPS) general obligation unlimited tax (GOULT) debt and non-contingent lease revenue bonds backed by the district’s GOULT pledge. The outlook had been revised to positive from stable at the B1 rating. The rating applies to $3 billion in debt.


The upgrade to B1 on the GOULT debt is based on the district’s improved liquidity, which reflects a significant infusion of new state and local revenue that will stave off material cash flow pressures for at least the next two to three years. In fiscal 2018 the district began receiving increased property tax authority for its pension contributions and support for pension normal costs from the State of Illinois (Baa3 stable). The upgrade to B1 also incorporates the district’s large and diverse tax base that serves as a regional economic center for the Midwest and tight governance connections with the City of Chicago (Ba1 stable), where the mayor appoints the members of the board.

Although revenue and cash have improved, the district’s credit profile remains constrained by several factors. The district will face growing costs associated with long-term liabilities and the recent five-year contract with the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) that will likely keep reserves thin compared to revenues. The B1 rating also considers very high direct and overlapping leverage from bonded debt and post-retirement liabilities.

The B1 rating on the lease revenue bonds is the same as the rating on the GOULT debt due to the district’s GOULT pledge to make lease payments, a pledge which is not subject to appropriation.


The positive outlook reflects the possibility of continued revenue growth and expenditure adjustments that will enable the district to absorb increasing costs associated with pension contributions, debt service, and the recently-ratified union contracts. It also incorporates the expectation that the district will not materially increase its reliance on short-term borrowing or other sources of non-recurring revenue.


    - Continued and sustained growth in operating liquidity
    - Ongoing expenditure adjustments and continued growth in revenue from state and local sources, including continuation of the state to meet its funding targets under the new evidence based formula

FACTORS THAT COULD LEAD TO A DOWNGRADE (or revision of the outlook to stable or negative)

    - Declines in operating liquidity or increased reliance on short-term cash flow borrowing or other sources of non-recurring revenue
    - Stagnant revenue trends that are outpaced by the district’s growing costs

* Earlier this month…

* S&P dings CPS contract deal with teachers: The agency’s junk rating on Chicago Public Schools debt is unchanged, but it warns the $1.5 billion deal “will widen a structure gap” in school finances that already were weak.


Today’s quotable

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Bernie

Asked if federal investigation of Democrats, including some in the state Legislature, is a drag on the ticket, [US Sen. Dick Durbin] said: “Of course it is. You have to take that seriously. … Any corruption in public office is unacceptable, by either political party, period.”


$36 million computer upgrade panned

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* While new systems are almost always difficult to use, this one may take the cake

The rollout of a long-awaited upgrade to Cook County courts’ archaic case management system by beleaguered Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown’s office has caused disarray at the county’s main criminal courthouse on Chicago’s Southwest Side.

Attorneys and clerks interviewed by the Tribune since the rollout two weeks ago complained the supposed advancement has instead resulted in incomplete case information, poorly trained staff and lengthy delays in securing the most basic documentation.

One lawyer said he waited 45 minutes for paperwork that under the old system would have taken just a few moments to obtain. With some routine tasks now taking far more clicks to complete, clerks reportedly have worked late into the night to finish the same workload they routinely completed during a normal workday. […]

To the surprise of veteran lawyers interviewed by the Tribune, the new criminal case management system does not even provide for electronic filing of court documents — the standard in federal courts for years and already mandatory in many Cook County civil divisions.

Go read the whole thing. Crazy.

…Adding… Press release…

- Progressive reformer and Democratic candidate for Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court, Jacob Meister has issued the following statement about Dorthy Brown’s troubled rollout of the county’s new case management system:

“The rollout of the case management system in the criminal courts has been a disaster that many of us who regularly practice in the county courts saw coming down the road for a long time.

“Judges, lawyers and those who have to live with the clerk’s decisions were not consulted about the new system and users were not adequately trained. The system wasn’t designed to meet the realities of our fast-paced and often overcrowded court calendars, which is the second-largest court system in the country.

“The clerk’s office sufferers from a serious leadership problem, with decisions being made in secret, without transparency or an inclusive process. In order to avoid any more damage, the clerk needs to take a step back and address these issues before the case management system is rolled out in other divisions of our courts.”

…Adding… Press release…

Statement from Mike Cabonargi, candidate for Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County

“We cannot achieve access to justice by amplifying the already existing problems in an office plagued with patronage hiring, a lack of transparency, and an outdated system. The newest broken system, highlighted in today’s Chicago Tribune, does nothing to restore the trust between the people of Cook County and the Circuit Court. It would be irresponsible and a misuse of taxpayer money to expand a system that’s already proven to be a failure. The office needs leadership that’s ready to usher in a new era of credibility and reform - and it’s why I’ve released a Reform Plan to lead on day one.”


Head of proposed National Museum of American Presidents says Alan Lowe’s problems were “largely political”

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Knoxville News Sentinel

The new director of the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge started his new gig Monday, three days after the Illinois Office of Executive Inspector General released a report explaining why [Alan Lowe] was fired from his last one [as executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum]. […]

Lowe has also signed on to be the lead consultant for the quietly discussed National Museum of American Presidents that would – if financing and a number of other factors play out – be placed somewhere in downtown Knoxville.

The project has received little media attention but has been headed for nearly two decades by Knoxville’s Bruce Anderson and Danni Varlan. Recently it has picked up steam. […]

Anderson said Lowe’s issues in Illinois were largely political and will not impact his work with the proposed museum for Knoxville.

“He got permission from all the people he normally gets permission from to do those sorts of things, but apparently the board took exception that he didn’t ask them,” Anderson said. “I’ve known Alan for at least 15 years, maybe longer. I’m not worried at all that this is something that would cause me to think he still isn’t one of the best museum people in the country.”

Yeah. Largely political. Right.

For crying out loud, somebody in Tennessee needs to actually click here and read the Inspector General’s report. Anderson is just totally wrong about everything.

Hilarious comment…

Sending the Gettysburg Address by FedEx is “largely political”?

…Adding… Another one…

If “largely political” means overriding objections of qualified ALPLM historians and curators to fedex a priceless and irreplaceable document to an unaccredited museum with no experienced curatorial staff in order to obtain a small donation to pay down a $9 million debt, then guilty as charged.


Dick Lockhart’s celebration of life

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The celebration of life for longtime lobbyist Dick Lockhart will be held after the Third House holiday party on December 5th. Normandy Room in the Chicago Hilton and Towers, 720 S. Michigan from 1:45-5:45.

This is particularly fitting because Dick would often host a party at his place after the Third House event.

* Keith Sias sent me this pic the other day of himself, Joe Lyons and Dick at a Sox game. I thought you’d like to see it…


*** UPDATED x2 - Witness comes forward - “This type of journalism is why victims are afraid to come forward” *** “Are you going to glorify Kevin Quinn next?”

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Kristen McQueary last year

There certainly are stories about the Illinois Republican Party also being accused of aggressive control-freakery. But I haven’t heard nearly as many complaints from that side as I have during my 20 years of covering Madigan’s office.

So spare me the mea culpa, the “woke” moment, the grasping press releases. Democratic women running under Madigan’s political umbrella have become adept at looking the other way.

* Last night…

* Refresh your memory…


As for the incident caught on surveillance tape, an Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice employee told investigators she was walking to an exit to go smoke a cigarette when she was approached by Anthony, who put his arm around her and asked if she was a corrections employee.

She told him she wasn’t. He then allegedly told her she had “nice t—, nice a–.” Then he stepped to the side and pressed himself onto her left thigh and licked her neck, the report says. […]

Other women at the party told investigators that Anthony had been inappropriately commenting to and touching them as well.

The behavior warranted a talk by another state employee during the party, according to the records. That discussion happened after a woman reported Anthony had touched her breasts.

McQueary’s column claims that only one woman alleged groping. There were clearly others that night. And if you think that was a one-off thing, you’d be mistaken.

Video is here.

* Reaction to the column was swift and brutal…

* Emily Miller gets the last word…

*** UPDATE 1 *** Rep. Deb Conroy (D-Elmhurst)…

Hi Rich, I do not tweet but I’m just as angry.

This is just unbelievable coming from McQueary. She criticizes the women’s caucus every chance she gets when in reality we have spent our time doing the difficult work to change a culture and not chasing headlines. As a journalist she may want to work a bit harder on the other side of the story. Everyone deserves a second chance, absolutely. In this case the writer completely disregarded the women who chose out of fear to keep their story private and push through the pain. This type of journalism is why victims are afraid to come forward.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Legislative & Political Director for UFCW Local 881…


Party honcho name change takes effect this year

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Chairman and committeeman are out, chair and committeeperson are in

Thanks to a 2018 change in Illinois law, county parties statewide now use gender-neutral language. The March primary will mark the first time the updated language will appear on the ballot when voters choose Democratic and Republican ward and township committeepeople.

Jacob Kaplan, executive director for the Cook County Democratic Party, welcomed the change, saying “I think it’s a good thing anywhere it happens.” […]

Still, the “people” holding the Democratic Party posts are still mostly male — 30 men represent the 50 city wards, and 24 of 30 townships are represented by men, according to the county party’s site. And only four of the ten members of the party’s executive committee are women.

But at the helm is Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who became the first woman, and the first African American, elected Cook County Democratic chair last year.




Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

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