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Reader comments closed for the holidays

Friday, Dec 20, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I’ll be back the Monday after New Year’s Day. Thanks for everything this year. Thanks for subscribing, for reading, for commenting and for just being you.

Thanks again to all those who donated to Lutheran Social Services of Illinois in Wordslinger’s honor. Thanks for donating earlier this year to a college fund for Wordslinger’s daughter. Thanks to everyone who donated to help Heather Whited’s daughter. You folks are truly amazing and I love you.

…Adding… I just looked at the numbers and this blog raised nearly $40,000 in donations this year. Thanks!

…Adding… A more precise total…

…Adding… Can you help reach the goal?…

…Adding… We did it! Thanks again, John!…

…Adding… I almost forgot to say thanks to everyone who helped Greta Lindall with her school science project. She and her project partner Orla Byrley have advanced to the area competition. Congratulations to both! After that, it’ll be the city and then the state competition, so keep your fingers crossed!

* The 2019 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Use Of Social Media goes to John Amdor

John Amdor and it isn’t even close. He literally goes through old debate transcripts in order to find funny moments to share on twitter. Plus: Rob the Dog, videos of cars driving in bike lanes, and genuinely insightful and humorous takes on whatever is going on. The man is a must follow. He even commented on this thread - that’s how prolific he is.

Not to mention the never-ending saga of his stolen recycling bins. Dude is an Illinois treasure and he’s not even from here.

Runner-up goes to Tina Sfondeles of the Sun-Times

Every time I pass by a construction site, I think about her Men Watching Construction and have to laugh!

Aside from that, she has THE CUTEST cat and this is coming from a dog person!

* We’ll close out the year with our traditional holiday videos that my mom loves. Suzy Snowflake

Hardrock, Coco and Joe

And Frosty the Snowman

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*** UPDATED x1 - Will Stephens also drops out *** Baldermann drops out of GOP primary

Friday, Dec 20, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From 37th House District candidate Tim Baldermann’s (R-New Lenox) Facebook page on December 5

So many people dislike politics because of the lies and dirty tactics used by far too many political campaigns. These smear tactics are most frequently employed by candidates who don’t have a real platform or record to run on.

Today, the Will County Gazette, which is nothing more than a prop used by unscrupulous political consultants for their own personal profit, posted another fake story in order to help my opponents campaign.

It continues with some explanations. The story he referenced is here.

Baldermann faces Tim Ozinga in the Republican primary. This is an open seat contest created when GOP Rep. Margo McDermed announced her retirement. The Republicans have been worried that the Democrats might try to make a run for the seat, and some Republicans worry that Baldermann is too easy of a target..

He receives $71,000 a year in disability from Chicago Ridge as former police chief there, a salary of $206,000 as superintendent of the tiniest school district in the state, and an $18,000 salary as mayor of New Lenox (which he says he donates to charity). He also received $15,000 as a Metra director until stepping down in August when he announced he was running for the state House seat.

The total package for the superintendent of Union School District 81 includes a $10,000 annual bonus, a car allowance and health insurance. The district also picks up the cost of his pension contribution.

The amount was questioned last fall in a report by Fox 32 Chicago.

“Two-hundred-thousand a year to run a school district isn’t extraordinary,” the story said. “But what makes Baldermann’s salary stand out is the size of the district: one building, 11 teachers and about 100 students, with as few as 92 a couple years ago.”

* Baldermann today

Dear Friends and Supporters,

I wanted you to hear from me personally that my name will not appear on the ballot for State Representative.

I have served as an elected official locally for 18 years. Seeing the dysfunction in our state capitol drove me to consider a run for State Representative. With my experience and passion for good government, I believed we would be able to run a successful campaign focused on the issues. Unfortunately, in today’s political climate that’s not enough.

Recently, Illinois Republican leaders expressed concern that an expensive and exhaustive primary in the 37th District could leave the winner vulnerable to Mike Madigan and the Illinois Democratic machine in a general election. I do not have the personal finances and resources necessary to sustain these all-too expensive campaigns. Additionally, the House Republican Organization doesn’t have the funding to finance this campaign in a general election. Finally, there were concerns about me remaining on as mayor and superintendent. We have accomplished so much at the village and school district that I’m not willing to give that up.

I don’t fault the Illinois Republican Leadership for their position. They have to put the Party’s interest ahead of any individual candidate. This is not a reflection on the other candidates in this race.This is a systemic issue.I have issues with the process. Until there is change that includes open primaries, meaningful campaign finance reform and term limits, elections will be out of reach for many who wish to serve at a higher office.

Additionally, politics beyond the local level have become far too negative, polarizing and expensive. I will not tear another person down just because they are my political opponent. Furthermore, I will not subject my family and friends to that same all-too common treatment. Many campaigns and special interest groups engage in unscrupulous activity just to further their agenda.

*** UPDATE *** The Southern

Murphysboro Mayor Will Stephens has ended his primary bid to run as the Republican candidate in Illinois’ 115th House District.

Stephens was a late addition to an already competitive race and announced through a Facebook post Sunday that he would be withdrawing his name from candidacy in the spring primary. […]

Stephens wrote in his post that his petition was challenged by fellow primary candidate Zach Meyer. Stephens wrote that Meyer objected on a host of reasons, including that a few people who signed his petition didn’t live in the district, while others were not registered voters or had signed other candidates’ petitions. […]

“Though we likely could have overcome some of these challenges, it became uncertain as to whether I could retain enough of my signatures to remain on the ballot,” Stephens wrote in his Facebook post.


Proposed repeal of parental notification law sparks heated exchange

Friday, Dec 20, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From a press release entitled “March For Life Chicago Denounces Personal PAC for ‘Predatory Behavior…Preying on Minor Girls’…

March For Life Chicago is condemning abortion-promoting political group, Personal PAC, for attacking the rights of Illinois parents.

“This is purely predatory behavior by Personal PAC and Planned Parenthood of Illinois,” stated Mary Kate Knorr, March For Life Chicago board member. “They are preying on minor girls and strategically forcing parents out of the conversation to cash in on their vulnerability. This is a direct attack on the rights of parents - not just across the state, but across the Midwest.”

The abortion lobby’s latest move is to seek repeal of Illinois’ 1995 Parental Notice of Abortion law. Personal PAC’s president, Terry Cosgrove, is quoted saying that the proposed 2020 legislation, is “the most important bill coming up.”

An attempt to overturn the 25-year over law would eliminate one of the few protections remaining for Illinois women and children.

According to Knorr, “Repealing this law does not protect girls in crisis; on the contrary, it protects their abusers and traffickers by opening the door for coercion and forced abortions. Parental Notification Laws are known to save lives, as they discourage many teenage girls from receiving abortions. In the state of Illinois alone, statistics show that more than 1,000 lives are saved every year because of the Parental Notice of Abortion law. In fact, since 2012, the rate of teenage abortions has decreased by 55% in Illinois.”

The March for Life Chicago is issuing a call to action. “As Personal PAC zeros in on this piece of legislation for the coming year, it is essential that we, as pro-lifers, do whatever we can to combat their tactics,” explained Knorr. “We cannot let abortion promoters in Illinois get away with this. We expect this obscene move to supercharge life advocates throughout the Midwest, to make their voices heard at the January 11 March For Life Chicago and beyond.”

* I asked Terry Cosgrove for a response…

It is no surprise that those who seek to outlaw abortion for all women, under all circumstances for all time harbor absolutely no concern for the health and safety of young women.

The fact remains that a large majority of young people voluntarily tell a parent about an unplanned pregnancy. For the minority of teens who do not talk to their parents, it is usually for good reasons, including fear of physical and emotional abuse, loss of financial support, homelessness, fear of being forced to carry a pregnancy against their will, or other serious family problems such as a parent who is ill or imprisoned.

This is why over 35 Illinois affiliated organizations support repeal of this dangerous law, including American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Health and Medicine Policy Research Group, Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, National Association of Social Workers, and Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

These groups, as well as many others, have the health and safety of young women at the core of their mission, unlike the self-named “pro-life” extremists who never disappoint when it comes to the complete disregard for the health and safety of young women living in the real world.


One thing leads to another, and another and another for Link

Friday, Dec 20, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Lots of sizzle in this Tribune story

A Democratic state senator embroiled in a federal government corruption investigation failed to report a $50,000 profit from the sale of a Florida condominium as required on his state ethics form, the Tribune has found.

The 2016 real estate transaction involved veteran Lake County Sen. Terry Link, identified by a source as the unnamed senator who wore a wire on a fellow lawmaker. The recording, made in August, captured what authorities said was a bribery offer that led to criminal charges against then-state Rep. Luis Arroyo of Chicago.

Link, who has denied being the unnamed senator, ended up cooperating with the FBI after authorities discovered evidence that showed he’d cheated on his taxes, prosecutors have said in court filings. A source said Link’s undisclosed condo sale isn’t what spurred their investigation into his finances.

The buyer of Link’s Florida condo? The mother-in-law of a man who sources say is under investigation in the federal probe of state Sen. Martin Sandoval and SafeSpeed, the red-light camera company. Link said that tie is a coincidence.

On the same day Link sold his condo, he bought a larger unit in Florida, taking a personal loan from a Northbrook mortgage broker who was a campaign donor because Link could not qualify for a conventional mortgage at the time, the broker told the Tribune.

Link has some reasonable explanations. For instance, he couldn’t qualify for a regular mortgage because Comptroller Leslie Munger held up all legislator paychecks and that’s his only income, so he took out an interest-only bridge loan.

And if you’ve ever spent any time in Southwest Florida, you know how many Illinoisans are down there visiting or enjoying their winters. They’re as thick as no-see-ums. So, selling his condo to the mother-in-law of a perhaps shady south suburban guy is probably just rotten luck on Link’s part, and there’s nothing in the story that suggests otherwise, including the fact that the sale price wasn’t out of line with others in the area.

Not reporting the income from the condo sale is a problem, however, even though I spoke with a reform-minded legislator today who said she had no idea that sort of income was supposed to be reported. But Link amended the disclosure and nothing will likely happen beyond maybe a fine.

Anyway, whenever you’re under a federal microscope you can expect reporters to scour your public records, and that’s what happened here.

* Related…

* What Can Candidates and Elected Officials Buy With Campaign Funds?: “Unless you’re doing something that creates an income tax liability, it’s pretty difficult to run afoul of the state law,” campaign finance expert Kent Redfield said. “When people get in trouble in terms of how they spend money, it usually involves federal law enforcement.”


Question of the day: Golden Horseshoe Awards

Friday, Dec 20, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The 2019 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best In-House Lobbyist goes to Khadine Bennet of the ACLU of Illinois…

Can’t imagine this session without Khadine. The Reproductive Health Act was believed to be dead by most in the Capitol complex. Khadine never gave up and by sheer force of will kept things alive and moving. While other states were passing repro bans, Illinois moved forward. On top of that, Khadine was the moving force behind making traffic stop study data permanent - an old Obama bill from the early bill to check racial profiling. that is a good record for a decade — she did it in one session

She received a lot of nominations for “Best Do-Gooder Lobbyist,” and she deserved a win this year.

* The 2019 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Contract Lobbyist goes to Liz Brown-Reeves

High energy who never leaves a stone unturned. Secret sources hint she also helped TeamJB get a lot of their wins. […]

She does a nice balance between the 2nd and 3rd floors. She organized the Build UP coalition to focus on the vertical construction for the capital bill. Also, she was heavily involved in the cannabis and gaming efforts.

I’ve done away with the “Best Insider” award, but Liz would’ve won that one hands down this year.

* Y’all voted overwhelmingly to give the 2019 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Commenter to Wordslinger and I will honor that vote and believe it was a wise choice.

That leaves our final category…

* Best use of social media

Please confine your nominations to Illinois residents only and make sure to explain your votes or they won’t count. Also, please get on it because I posted this kinda late and I will be announcing the winner when I shut the blog down for the holidays at 4:30ish. Have fun!


Some ComEd/Madigan history

Friday, Dec 20, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The beginning of Steve Daniels’ latest for Crain’s Chicago Business

The roots of Commonwealth Edison’s entanglement in the current wide-ranging federal investigation of Illinois political corruption stretch back to 2003, when the company’s leaders discovered just how deeply they had fallen into disfavor with the powerful House speaker, Michael Madigan.

Madigan torpedoed a rate hike that John Rowe, then CEO of ComEd parent Exelon, said was needed to complete his plan to acquire troubled downstate utility Illinois Power. So ensued four years of cold and hot warfare between Madigan and Rowe, culminating in a fraught 2007 negotiation that led to a rate-hike compromise only because Emil Jones, the Senate president at the time, was a staunch ComEd backer and wouldn’t allow Madigan to call all the shots.

With Jones’ retirement looming, the company’s political playbook had to change fast. Rowe set in motion a sustained charm offensive to transform Madigan from an adversary into a solid supporter of a far more ambitious legislative agenda.

It would take years for the effort to bear fruit, but, starting in 2011, the campaign would help the Chicago-based power giant achieve two of its most remarkable Springfield victories. The first: elbowing aside state regulators and putting ComEd’s delivery rate hikes on something resembling autopilot. The second, a $2 billion ratepayer-financed bailout of two struggling nuclear plants.

Go read the rest.


Stop torturing children!

Friday, Dec 20, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Jennifer Smith Richards of the Chicago Tribune and Jodi S. Cohen and Lakeidra Chavis of ProPublica Illinois

An analysis of more than 15,000 physical restraints in 100 Illinois school districts from August 2017 to early December 2018 found that about a quarter of the interventions began without any documented safety reason. Instead, they often happened after a student was disrespectful, profane or not following rules. These instances violate a 20-year-old state law that allows children to be restrained at school only for safety reasons.

Records show that most of the children restrained had behavioral or intellectual disabilities.

The law defines physical restraint as holding a student or otherwise restricting the child’s movement. The student can be standing, seated or lying down. A brief hold intended to keep students safe or to escort them from one place to another is not considered a restraint. Illinois law prohibits the use of mechanical restraints, such as straps or handcuffs, in schools. […]

In 50,000 pages of school records reviewed by reporters, aides and teachers documented numerous injuries to the children they had restrained: Cuts on the students’ hands, scratches on necks and noses. Collarbones that hurt to touch. Knots on their heads and split lips. Sore ankles and wrists.

In at least two dozen incidents, schools called an ambulance for a child.

You hurt a kid enough that it requires an ambulance call, you should be arrested. Also, where the heck is DCFS on this?

* More

The schools examined as part of this investigation likely represent a fraction of the number that actually used physical restraint in Illinois. The 100 school districts and special-education cooperatives included in the analysis were selected because they previously reported using seclusion to the federal government or because they exclusively served students with disabilities.

Many more districts — more than 280 — reported to the U.S. Department of Education that they had used physical restraint in the 2015-16 school year, the most recent data available. Even that number is likely an undercount, as the federal database relies on self-reporting from districts and is known to omit information. […]

Restraints in a prone position are particularly dangerous because they can cut off a child’s ability to breathe. Officials from the state Board of Education, which was not monitoring schools’ use of seclusion or restraint, said in an interview they did not know the extent to which Illinois children were being put in prone restraints. A board official noted it was not required by law to keep track.

The board, which put emergency restrictions in place on all restraints in the wake of “The Quiet Rooms,” is moving to ban prone restraints permanently.

* Ugh

For 11-year-old Austin Kelly, being restrained or secluded has been a routine part of his time at school, his family told reporters.

The school he attends, the Kansas Treatment and Learning Center in east-central Illinois, restrained students at least 171 times from August 2017 to early December of last year, records show. Officials from the Eastern Illinois Area Special Education district did not respond to requests for comment. […]

About three dozen districts examined for this investigation had restrained children at least 100 times between August 2017 and December 2018. For some, it was many more.

In Mount Prospect, the Northwest Suburban Special Education Organization, or NSSEO, reported 2,078 incidents of physical restraint. The total for the Southern Will County Cooperative for Special Education in Joliet was 1,424. For the Northern Suburban Special Education District in Highland Park, or NSSED, 1,175.

State records show each of those entities enrolls fewer than 425 children.

* More

Of the 15,000 restraints analyzed by reporters, roughly 1,300 lasted 15 minutes or longer. About 260 went on for more than 30 minutes — with more than a quarter of those involving children being held faceup or facedown on the floor.

Some children had medical conditions that made restraint unsafe for them, but school staff physically restrained them anyway in apparent violation of state law, the investigation found. […]

Restraints that can obstruct breathing, including prone restraints, are prohibited in 31 states for all children and in a handful more just for students with disabilities. Last month, three California school workers were charged with involuntary manslaughter after the death of a student with autism who had been restrained prone. […]

Reporters’ analysis of school records found that “floor restraints” — both prone and supine — were used in about two dozen of the 100 districts analyzed. Together, districts used these restraints nearly 1,800 times in the 15-month period examined.

Thirteen-hundred of those floor restraints were in the prone position, and three districts accounted for the majority of those incidents. A.E.R.O. used prone restraint 530 times in 15 months; the Southwest Cook County Cooperative Association for Special Education, more than 300 times.

There’s so much more. Click here to read the rest.

* React from Rep. Jonathan Carroll…

As a parent, I’m angry. As a legislator, I’m outraged. As a child who was punitively restrained, it’s humiliating.


A completely useless “debate”

Friday, Dec 20, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I updated yesterday’s post with this story, but I want to circle back to it today

The chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus threatened Thursday to try again to delay recreational marijuana sales in Chicago for six months after accusing Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office of backing off from a commitment made to African American aldermen demanding a piece of the pie.

Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) said “seven or eight” black and Hispanic aldermen voted against a six-month delay based on the promise they were told the governor’s office made to earmark two medical marijuana dispensary licenses — in Hyde Park and Chinatown — for social equity applicants. […]

Hours after a divided City Council voted to let recreational marijuana sales begin as scheduled Jan. 1, the governor’s office disavowed any such guarantees about the two new licenses. […]

On Thursday, Ervin accused the governor’s office of backing away from a commitment made to the Black Caucus during marathon negotiations brokered by aides to Mayor Lori Lightfoot that continued up until and during the tension-filled City Council meeting Wednesday.

“The governor’s office … made commitments for two medicinal social equity licenses — one in the Hyde Park area, one in the Chinatown area — relayed to us by the mayor and her staff. They [said] they had to adjust some rules or do something to make that happen,” Ervin said.

This is just so ridiculously ill-informed by so many people on so many levels.

* First of all, the state created several medical cannabis dispensary licenses years ago. But not all of them were awarded. This year, a law was passed to apply social equity requirements to the owners of the not yet awarded licenses. But before that happened, way back on May 20th in 2014, the state published some new rules that specified the locations of those dispensaries. Among those newly specified locations back in May were these

Hyde Park Township shall be a Dispensing Organization District and shall be allocated two registrations. […]

South Township shall be a Dispensing Organization District and shall be allocated one registration.

That South Township location contains Chinatown. One of the Hyde Park registrations is already taken.

…Adding… My bad. This rule with the locations was actually first adopted in July of 2014.

I don’t know if the mayor and her people messed up by claiming that these dispensaries were part of some “new” offer by the governor, or if the aldermen misunderstood the mayor, or what. But those locations have existed in state rules for seven months.

* Aaron Gettinger at the Hyde Park Herald

Currently, there are five more medical dispensary licenses available in Illinois. The state authorized 60 medical dispensaries under administrative rules and established districts with a set number of licenses available to geographically disperse them.

Districts in Chicago are organized by townships. Two dispensaries are allowed in Hyde Park Township, and one is authorized in South Township, which includes Chinatown. One medical dispensary, Mission Chicago South Shore Medical Marijuana Dispensary, 8554 S. Commercial Ave., exists in Hyde Park Township; there are none in South Township.

Revisions made to the Medical Cannabis Act in the spring added social equity standards to the medical cannabis program, but rulemaking is required to incorporate them into the application process. Abudayyeh says the rulemaking process is going on now.

“The state is working to finalize social equity standards for the remaining medical licenses and has to work through the rule-making process to get that done,” she said in a statement. “When the rules are approved, applications for the remaining medical licenses will be opened for applicants, and we will follow the application process to award those licenses.”

On Dec. 18, Ald. Jason C. Ervin (28th), who chairs the Black Caucus, said in an interview that he had not reviewed all the nuances of the administration’s plan, “but in principle, that is what was agreed to.”

Wait a second. On Wednesday, December 18th, Ald. Ervin was shown the actual facts and said it was what he had agreed to. But on Thursday Ervin threatened to bring his implementation delay ordinance back to the council floor.

This really makes it look like Ald. Ervin is up to something completely separate from minority involvement in the cannabis industry.


A costly week for IDOC and Wexford

Friday, Dec 20, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From the Illinois Times yesterday

An inmate at Taylorville Correctional Center has won $11 million after his kidney cancer was neither promptly diagnosed nor treated.

After a weeklong trial, the jury award entered Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Springfield might be cold comfort to William Dean, who is still listed as a prisoner on the Illinois Department of Corrections website. Dean, 59, is serving a 15-year sentence for a cocaine conviction.

“He has stage four cancer,” says Craig Martin, a Chicago lawyer who represented Dean. “It’s terminal.”

The verdict of $1 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages came against Wexford Health Sources and its employees. Wexford holds a state contract worth nearly $1.4 billion to provide health care to inmates in state prisons.

* Also from the Illinois Times yesterday

The Illinois State Supreme Court today ruled that settlements reached in malpractice claims against the company that provides care for inmates in Illinois prisons are public records.

The ruling ends a legal battle that began four years ago, when Illinois Times asked the Illinois Department of Corrections for a copy of a settlement reached in the case of Alfonso Franco, a Taylorville Correctional Center inmate who died of colon cancer in 2012. According to a federal lawsuit filed against Wexford Health Services, a Pennsylvania company that holds a $1.36 billion contract with the state to provide medical care in state prisons, Franco’s deterioration was obvious and his condition treatable if it had been properly and promptly diagnosed. Instead, he languished to the point that he was emaciated and in diapers before he was finally sent to a hospital, where doctors quickly diagnosed late-stage cancer. He died one month later. He was 53. Franco was doing time for a cocaine conviction.

While the newspaper requested just one settlement agreement, Don Craven, attorney for Illinois Times, said that the ruling goes beyond just Franco. “All settlements with medical contractors for state and local governments are in the public purview at this point,” Craven said.

* WBEZ last month

Multiple Illinois prisoners say they have been denied eye surgery because of a “one good eye” policy that only entitles them to have one functioning eye. […]

The Illinois Department of Corrections and Wexford Health Sources, the private company that provides health services in the state’s prisons, both refused to answer questions about the allegations raised by Cox, Fiedler and other prisoners about a “one good eye” policy. Both the department and the company refused to provide a copy of the eye surgery policy stating it is a “trade secret.”

But court documents from a 2014 lawsuit filed by a different prisoner give some insight into the trade secret: The documents include affidavits from doctors working for Wexford that say they denied a prisoner’s eye surgery because one functioning eye is sufficient for the daily activities of a prisoner. Those court filings also include a copy of a Wexford eye policy from that time that says cataract surgery can be denied so long as the prisoner has sufficient vision in their dominant eye.

* WBEZ this week

In an email to Wexford, the private company that runs Illinois’ prison healthcare, Illinois Department of Corrections Medical Director Steve Meeks said Wexford’s written eye surgery policy “has been interpreted as implying” that prisoners can’t get surgery on both eyes.

But Meeks wrote that “this is not the position of the office of health services,” and if a doctor recommends surgery in both eyes “those recommendations are to be followed.” He instructed Wexford to communicate that information to its medical providers.

* ACLU of Illinois yesterday…

Transgender prisoners in Illinois prisons will have access to more humane, professional health care after U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Rosenstengel ordered the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) to overhaul its practices and policies for providing treatment to prisoners with gender dysphoria. Judge Rosenstengel granted a preliminary injunction in the class-action lawsuit Monroe v. Jeffreys on behalf of five women who are transgender and detained in Illinois prisons, aimed at reforming the larger systemic crisis regarding how IDOC treats the hundred or more transgender prisoners in its facilities throughout the state.

Critically, the order requires IDOC to immediately cease the policy and practice of allowing its “Transgender Committee” (no members of which have any experience or expertise in treating gender dysphoria) to “make the medical decisions regarding gender dysphoria.” The order also requires IDOC to stop any delay in providing hormone therapy and to provide materials that facilitate prisoners’ social transition, including gender-appropriate clothing and personal grooming products.

The decision also ends the practice “mechanically” assigning housing based on “genitalia” and/or physical size and appearance.

“This is a sweeping victory for our clients, who have been subject to unspeakable harm by a Department of Corrections that has truly been deliberately indifferent to our clients’ suffering. We look forward to ensuring that IDOC complies with the order without any delay so that all prisoners who have gender dysphoria in Illinois will receive humane and professional treatment,” said Ghirlandi Guidetti, staff attorney of the LGBTQ & HIV Project at the ACLU of Illinois.

Judge Rosenstengel’s order also calls for:

    * Allowing transgender prisoners access to health care providers who meet the competency requirements stated in the WPATH Standards of Care to treat gender dysphoria;
    * Allow inmates to obtain evaluations for gender dysphoria upon request or as a result of clinical indications;
    * A new IDOC policy to allow inmates medically necessary social transition, including individualized placement determinations, avoidance of cross-gender strip searches, gender affirming clothing and grooming items; and,
    * Training for all IDOC correctional staff on transgender issues, including the harms caused by mis-gendering and harassment.

Janiah Monroe, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, waited approximately three years after requesting treatment before her hormone therapy was initiated. Her treatment only began after several attempts to self-castrate. All of the plaintiffs experienced significant delays in receiving medically necessary treatment, while some treatments are being denied entirely. You can read their declarations in detail here.

“The Illinois Department of Corrections now has a clear path forward to provide a better baseline of medical care for individuals who are transgender and have gender dysphoria. We urge the IDOC Director and the entire department to move quickly to implement these court-ordered reforms so that its prisoners can receive the constitutionally adequate medical care that treatments they need to survive,” said Guidetti.

In addition to Mr. Guidetti, John Knight, Carolyn Wald, and Camille Bennett of the ACLU of Illinois, the plaintiffs are represented by Catherine L. Fitzpatrick, Jordan M. Heinz, Erica B. Zolner, Megan M. New, Sydney L. Schneider, Austin B. Stephenson, and Sam G. Rose of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Brent P. Ray of King & Spaulding LLP, and Sarah Jane Hunt of Kennedy Hunt, P.C..


Yet another fiscal hole we’ve dug ourselves into

Friday, Dec 20, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release

An increase in state funding for K-12 public education could enable Illinois municipalities to limit the growth of local property tax rates, boost the economy by up to $1.25 billion, and create as many as 14,000 new jobs according to a new study by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI) and the Project for Middle Class Renewal (PMCR) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Read the Report: Assessing Potential Options to Provide Property Tax Relief in Illinois

“Illinois ranks 50th nationally in state support for public schools, and it’s no secret that municipalities are relying on property taxes to fill the gap,” said study co-author and ILEPI Policy Director Frank Manzo IV. “However, property taxes are regressive and reliably consume a larger share of income for working and middle-class families than the state’s highest wage earners. This leaves lawmakers with the choice between finding ways to equitably boost state funding or dramatic reductions in the delivery of local public services.”

Illinois currently has the 7th-highest property tax collections per capita in the United States, and the average Illinois taxpayer pays more in local property taxes than state income taxes. A state task force is expected to issue a report on the cause of increasing local tax burdens later this month, but four prior efforts since 1982 have called out a lack of state funding for public education and the expansion of local units of government as major contributing factors.

In its analysis, ILEPI and PMCR evaluate three possible solutions to providing property tax relief— increasing the state’s share of funding for public schools, consolidating townships, or drastically cutting municipal services. ILEPI and PMCR researchers concluded that by adding $5 billion in state funds over four years to the coffers of K-12 public schools, property tax levies could be held constant. The additional funds could be fully financed by either Governor Pritzker’s progressive income tax proposal, by subjecting retirement income over $100,000 to state income tax (which 38 of the 41 states that have state income tax systems already do), or by expanding the state’s sales tax to 81 services that are currently taxed in Iowa but not in Illinois.

* One Illinois

Adding $5 billion in state funding — on top of the additional funding allotted last year and retweaked this year under the evidence-based funding formula — would enable counties to hold property taxes flat for four years. […]

The study concludes: “Local schools are responsible for about two-thirds of all property tax assessments, so any effort to reduce property taxes likely relies on increasing the state’s proportion of the revenue spent on public education. Any other approach would have little effect and may produce negative unintended consequences for school quality. By rebalancing the state’s share of the investment in public education, Illinois lawmakers could reduce Illinois’s overreliance on property taxes and promote both taxpayer fairness and funding equity across school districts.”

That’s a lot of dough, but the state has neglected to fund K-12 for decades. Just another deep hole we’ve gotten ourselves in.

* But here’s something interesting from the study

The state could also reduce administrative costs by consolidating townships.

    • While Illinois’ 1,431 townships account for 24 percent of all local government units, they only receive 2 percent of all property tax revenue.

    • Township consolidation could reduce the average property tax bill by 0.4 percent.

Everyone talks about township consolidation, and it’s not a bad idea at all. But even eliminating townships wouldn’t cut your taxes by all that much (especially since lots of their duties would still have to be performed). And consolidation would provide only minimal savings.


*** UPDATED x1 *** Report: SoS IG probing if rock star should’ve registered as a lobbyist

Friday, Dec 20, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Rick Nielsen is getting more than he bargained for…

* Brief story excerpt

This after WCIA’s Target 3 investigators dug into Senator Syverson’s connections to a proposed casino in Rockford. One of his ties was to Rick Nielsen, who he brought onto the chamber floor in violation of senate rules. Nielsen handed out guitar picks with the words ‘It’s time for a casino in Rockford’ stamped on them to legislators.

The Inspector General wants to find out why Nielsen did not register as a lobbyist. Syverson insists Nielsen wasn’t lobbying on the floor.

*** UPDATE *** Politico

The headline-grabbing news Wednesday was about the graduated income tax. But the chatter from lawmakers was about the sports luminaries walking the halls of the Capitol. Chicago Bulls and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, retired Bulls star Horace Grant, and former White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen posed for selfies and waved at lawmakers who cried out “Go Sox” and “Go Bulls” at every turn. The sports trio was in Springfield [on May 1] to schmooze lawmakers who are debating a sports-betting bill.

CBS 2 on May 1

Senate President John Cullerton introduced the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls owner, Jerry Reinsdorf, along with Ozzie Guillen and Horace Grant, on the senate floor by saying,

So, if they’re going after Nielsen, what about Reinsdorf and Guillen? At minimum, they probably shouldn’t have been invited on to the Senate floor. But, I don’t think they were handing out White Sox swag promoting sports betting.


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Friday, Dec 20, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

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* Isabel’s afternoon roundup
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* Yesterday's stories

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