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Question of the day: Golden Horseshoe Awards

Friday, Dec 6, 2019

* The 2019 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Illinois House Democratic Staffer - Non-Political goes to Kit Walsh

If you don’t know her, you should make it your business to get to know her. She has quickly garnered a reputation as someone you can go to for advice and help, plus she’s wicked smart. She was part of the dynamic trio of staffers who wrote the marijuana bill (Ashley Jenkins/Marishonta Wilkerson/Kit Walsh).

* The 2019 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Illinois House Republican Staffer - Non-Political is a tie. Jen Paswater

She’s a former prosecutor (not federal and doesn’t shout it in the annoying Drury kind of way) who went to the State Police, then left to help save the shinking ship that was the Rauner administration, only to get her job cut when they “reorganized.” Leader Durkin and Andrew Freiheit were incredibly smart to ask her to join the GOP team. She has more than proven her worth. She’s a mentor to staffers and kind to the swarms of lobbyists who often need her time and attention. All this while raising two adorable little boys.

And Frank Straus

No one knows their issues better than Frank. He is GOP staff point for gaming, among others, during the year we finally passed a “big one” again. Works his tail off and always accessible. Also, his knowledge of history and trivia is top-notch and hilarious.

Congratulations to everyone!

* On to today’s categories…

* Best Illinois Senate Democratic Staffer - Non-Political

* Best Illinois Senate Republican Staffer - Non-Political

Please do your very best to nominate in both categories and make sure to explain your votes or they won’t count. Thanks and have fun.

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      

Three prison guards indicted on charges related to inmate death

Friday, Dec 6, 2019

* Press release…

Three Illinois correctional officers made their initial appearance in federal court this morning following their arrest on charges related to the May 2018 assault of an inmate who later died, at Western Illinois Correctional Center in Mt. Sterling, Ill. Those charged are Todd Sheffler, 51, of Mendon; Willie Hedden, 41, of Mt. Sterling, and Alex Banta, 28, of Quincy.

The indictment alleges that on May 17, 2018, Sheffler, Hedden and Banta assaulted an inmate, who was restrained and handcuffed behind his back at the time, during an escort to another prison unit, in violation of his Constitutional protection to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. The victim, identified as Larry Earvin, suffered multiple broken ribs, a punctured colon, and other serious internal injuries, and died in June 2018. The indictment alleges that each defendant falsified incident reports to omit any reference to the assault and that they misled agents of the Illinois State Police by denying any knowledge of the assault of Earvin that each participated in and witnessed.

“Our laws protect the civil rights of all,” stated U.S. Attorney John Milhiser. “Every day, correctional officers report for public service that is often demanding and under-appreciated. However, our criminal justice system requires that those who perform these difficult duties do so lawfully. Those responsible for the deadly assault of Mr. Earvin must be held accountable.” Milhiser commended the Illinois Department of Corrections for its cooperation and the FBI and Illinois State Police for their thorough investigation of this tragic incident.

Sean M. Cox, FBI Special Agent in Charge stated: “The FBI is committed to vigorously investigating allegations of Constitutional violations by law enforcement officers, including correctional officers, who in this investigation have been indicted with violating the civil rights of Mr. Earvin. This case should be a reminder that everyone, including individuals who are incarcerated, is afforded the same protections under the U.S. Constitution, and no one wearing a badge is above the law.”

“The people of Illinois must have confidence in the constitutional integrity of the criminal justice system from the streets, to the courthouse, to corrections,” stated ISP Director Brendan F. Kelly. “It is the mission of the Illinois State Police Division of Internal Investigations to work with our state and federal partners to hold accountable those who betray that trust.”

The defendants were arrested late yesterday, Dec. 5, by the FBI and Illinois State Police, and appeared today for arraignment in federal court before U.S. District Judge Sue E. Myerscough. The indictment, returned by the grand jury this week, remained sealed pending the defendants’ arrest and court appearance. An initial trial date of Feb. 4, 2020, has been scheduled. Detention hearings for the defendants have been scheduled for this afternoon.

At the time of the alleged crimes, Sheffler was a lieutenant at Western Illinois Correctional Center (WICC); Hedden was a sergeant, and, Banta was a correctional officer, subordinate to Sheffler and Hedden. Inmate Larry Earvin, who was 65 years old, was an inmate at WICC and would have been eligible for parole in September 2018.

According to the indictment, on May 17, 2018, Sheffler, Hedden, and Banta participated in the forcible escort of Earvin from his residential unit to the segregation housing unit. During the transport, Earvin was physically assaulted, without legal justification, while he was restrained and handcuffed behind his back and posed no physical threat to the defendants or other correctional officers. The indictment alleges that Sheffler, the lieutenant, and most senior officer, and Hedden, the sergeant and senior officer to Banta, failed to intervene to protect Earvin from the assault.

Following the assault, Sheffler, Hedden and Banta each allegedly filed knowingly false incident reports that failed to disclose any assault of Earvin. The false reports allegedly included identical language used by Hedden and Banta that falsely stated that Earvin was delivered to staff in the segregation housing unit “without further incident” other than Earvin resisting the escort and refusing to walk. In addition, the indictment alleges that Sheffler, Hedden and Banta knowingly misled agents of the Illinois State Police during individual interviews by falsely denying any knowledge of the assault of Earvin that they participated in and witnessed.

Hedden is charged in an additional count of obstruction that alleges he persuaded a friend, a fellow employee at WICC, to delete a text message Hedden had sent to the friend following the May 17 incident, to conceal and destroy information relating to the offenses charged.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy A. Bass and Victor B. Yanz are representing the government in the prosecution. The charges were investigated by agents of the FBI-Springfield Division and the Illinois State Police Division of Internal Investigation with the cooperation of the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Specifically, the indictment charges Sheffler, Hedden and Banta with conspiracy to deprive civil rights (one count); deprivation of civil rights (one count); and conspiracy to obstruct justice (one count.). Each defendant is charged individually with obstruction of the investigation: falsification of document (one count) and misleading conduct (one count.) In addition, Hedden is charged with destruction of a record or other object (one count.)

As charged, the statutory sentence for both conspiracy to deprive civil rights and deprivation of civil rights under color of law resulting in bodily injury and death is any term of imprisonment up to life. For each count of obstruction, the maximum statutory penalty is up to 20 years in prison.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; each defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

The indictment is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   3 Comments      

Doherty out at City Club, may have been conduit for 100 ComEd jobs

Friday, Dec 6, 2019

* Greg Hinz

The evolving federal probe into Commonwealth Edison’s Springfield lobbying has claimed a major civic victim, with Jay Doherty out as head of the City Club of Chicago, the politically connected public policy forum.

But check this out

“The only thing I’ve heard is that various people were working for Commonwealth Edison and he seems to have been the point person in taking care of that, making sure W-2s were filed and so forth,” [City Club Chairman Ed Mazur] said.

Mazur’s reference is to recent stories and talk from political insiders that Doherty served as a conduit or vehicle to provide compensation for friends and associates of Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, whose help was crucial to ComEd’s advancing its extensive agenda in Springfield.

One source close to the probe into ComEd, which has been subpoenaed for records related to its activities in Springfield, says Doherty had more than 100 people drawing funds that originated with ComEd on his payroll, some in positions that involved little actual work.


Greg also has the resignation letter and other stuff, so go read the rest.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      

Roundup and open thread

Friday, Dec 6, 2019

* I fully intended to have a subscriber edition and the blog up and going for at least a few hours today, but life has intervened. I have workers at my home and people I haven’t seen in a while are coming to town. Not to mention that my Internet connection is buggy as heck so I’m currently tethering from my mobile phone. Like I said, life has intervened.

My buddy Ryan Keith sends out a very handy news roundup every morning, so I’m going to post that. You also have our live coverage post and all the RSS feeds to rely on. I’ll see if I can post a story or two/tree today, but it could be tough unless it’s big breaking news.

As always, please keep your conversations Illinois-centric and be nice to each other. Thanks…

* Pritzker backs former Senate Republican leader for ethics commission after mistakenly appointing recent lobbyist

* Illinois GOP uses Trump impeachment effort to fuel fundraising: Despite Schneider’s rhetoric, any money raised by the “defense fund” will go to the Illinois Republican Party and not to any legal defense fund or to Trump’s campaign fund, according to the fundraising website.

* Editorial: ‘We need to send a message’ about corruption? Illinois voters, too, should send a message.

* Elgin mayor wants ethics ordinance after reports that councilman is a lobbyist

* Police shouldn’t ticket pot smokers in backyards or on balconies, Lightfoot says

* When a ComEd rate cut is actually a rate hike

* The stakes are high for Illinois cannabis

* Your Guide to Marijuana in Illinois

* And here’s a few more from me…

* CVS Health to buy Illinois insurance unit: IlliniCare has 16 percent of the state’s Medicaid managed care market, and WellCare’s Meridian has 36 percent, according to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Healthcare & Family Services, which oversees Medicaid. … Centene says it will retain IlliniCare’s Medicare-Medicaid Alignment Initiative business and that its Ambetter business in Illinois is not affected.

* FOID card law’s age saves it from constitutional challenge: appeals court: A state appellate court this week ruled that the saving grace for Illinois’ Firearm Owners Identification card law was the fact that it’s been in place for 51 years — and any ruling finding it unconstitutional would upset the status quo. But in the same opinion, justices on the state’s Fourth Appellate Court said the group that filed the case against Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly earlier this year satisfied three other key elements of an argument against the law’s constitutionality.

* How Bad Are Billionaire Politicians for Democracy?

* SIU Carbondale applications up significantly as recruitment efforts pay off

* Mascots, Money Or Math: What Stops School Consolidation?

* Springfield’s Shortfall Illustrates Broader Pension Problem

* Schoenburg: Despite distance, Gray thinks he’s best for 15th

* Colleges and Universities Adopting Test Optional Policies

* Preliminary plan for downtown Springfield university campus emerges

* Trump food stamps rule could affect up to 140K people in Illinois

* CTA wants answers from Chinese L car manufacturer after NBC report on child labor

* SJ-R veteran reporter set to depart

* Nearly 5 decades into performing career, Tawl Paul releases 1st studio album

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      


Friday, Dec 6, 2019

* Follow along with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comment      

* Question of the day: Golden Horseshoe Awards
* Three prison guards indicted on charges related to inmate death
* Doherty out at City Club, may have been conduit for 100 ComEd jobs
* Roundup and open thread
* Yesterday's stories

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