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Feds have turned over “voluminous recordings” of Burke, but defense wants “vast” cache of recorded conversations the feds still have

Thursday, Jan 30, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Tribune

The sweeping racketeering indictment of Chicago Ald. Edward Burke isn’t expected to go to trial until at least next year as defense lawyers say federal prosecutors have yet to turn over a “vast” amount of undercover recordings, according to a court filing Thursday

Prosecutors said in the joint status report that they intend to ask U.S. District Judge Robert Dow at a hearing Tuesday to set a trial date for “early 2021” for Burke and his two co-defendants.

Prosecutors said they’ve turned over to the defense more than 44,000 pages of records so far, as well as additional electronic discovery and numerous boxes of hard evidence. In the coming months, prosecutors said, they will be turning over additional evidence pertaining to cooperating witnesses in the case.

* Sun-Times

That report says prosecutors have continued to turn over evidence as recently as Nov. 5 to lawyers for Burke and his two co-defendants, Peter Andrews and Charles Cui. So far, it says the feds have turned over more than 100 discs, more than 44,000 pages and “several boxes of hard copy material.”

However, there is additional evidence prosecutors don’t want to turn over until six months before the trial, according to the report. Defense attorneys say they understand the additional material to be “vast, and is made up in large part of recorded conversations.” The defense attorneys want the material sooner.

Material related to Burke turned over so far has been “comprised of documents collected from various City Departments, subpoenaed from third parties, and seized from the 14th Ward Office and Committee on Finance” as well as “voluminous recordings,” the report says.

Lawyers for the defendants say they are still reviewing the material. The case is set for a hearing Tuesday.

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Pritzker says his threat to veto unfair maps will take care of the problem

Thursday, Jan 30, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The governor was asked today about the fact that he didn’t mention remap reform in his State of the State speech. As we’ve discussed, several Republicans and reformers were upset at the omission. His reply

Well, as you know the remap process occurs, we have a census that’s taking place. And I want to remind everybody here, students, everybody in the room and everybody you know, that that census is taking place and that you need to take part in it, needed to encourage your neighbors and your friends and everybody else to take part in it. It’s very important for the state for the future of the state, for making sure that we get the proper number of congressional districts and the proper federal funding that comes from the number of people who are counted in the census, lots of undercounted people 10 years ago, we don’t want that to happen again. So that’s my first entreaty to all of you.

I, you know, ran a campaign in which I talked a lot about making sure that we had a fair mapping process, that we ended up with a fair map. And and I really believe that I think we should have compact contiguous districts as best we can.

Not to get into the weeds of it. As you know, when you start on a map, you start with the Supreme Court’s rulings around civil rights, you have to draw those districts first. And then you have to draw everything else around them. So it starts out a little bit gerrymandered by the Supreme Court. And appropriately so, if you ask me, but then, you know, we can have compact contiguous districts.

So look, I am going to veto any unfair map that gets presented to me. And yeah, and I believe that we’ll be able to take care of it that way. Thank you.

Discuss.

…Adding… This is the question I asked all gubernatorial candidates in March of 2018

This requires only a simple yes or no response: Will you pledge as governor to veto any state legislative redistricting map proposal that is in any way drafted or created by legislators, political party leaders and/or their staffs or allies? The exception, of course, would be the final official draft by LRB.

Pretty darned specific.

Pritzker’s response

Yes, I will pledge to veto. We should amend the constitution to create an independent commission to draw legislative maps, but in the meantime, I would urge Democrats and Republicans to agree to an independent commission to handle creating a new legislative map. That designated body should reflect the gender, racial, and geographic diversity of the state and look to preserve the Voting Rights Act decisions to ensure racial and language minorities are fully represented in the electoral process.

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It’s just a bill

Thursday, Jan 30, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Rep. Dave McSweeney’s red-light camera ban for non-home rule units is picking up lots of sponsors

Provides that, after January 1, 2020, no non-home rule unit within the counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, Madison, McHenry, St. Clair, and Will may enact or continue to enforce an ordinance for an automated traffic law enforcement system to enforce violations of intersection traffic control signals

* Capitol News Illinois

It is a mainstay of fairs and carnivals around the country: sink a ping pong ball into a fish bowl and win the goldfish swimming inside.

But if a bill in the Illinois Senate becomes law, carnivals would no longer be allowed to award live animals — such as fish, reptiles and hermit crabs — as prizes.

Illinois’ Humane Care for Animals Act already prohibits rabbits, ducklings and chicks as carnival prizes, but Senate Bill 2472 would expand the law’s protections to all animals — including the goldfish that winners can take home in a plastic bag.

Sen. Suzy Glowiak Hilton, a Democrat from Western Springs, introduced the bill with backing from the Humane Society of the United States.

“This isn’t just a ‘goldfish bill,’” she said. “Carnivals across the country give out other animals as prizes, specifically iguanas and other exotic reptiles.”

* Center Square

An Illinois bill would allow drivers with certain medical conditions to tint all of their vehicle’s window surfaces.

Under existing law, it’s illegal to apply window tint to the driver side window or entire front windshield unless the primary operator of the vehicle has a condition such as albinism that makes sun exposure damaging to the skin. The law specifically prohibits issuing full surface window tint for “any condition, such as light sensitivity, for which protection from the direct rays of the sun can be adequately obtained by the use of sunglasses or other eye protective devices.”

State Rep. Maurice West’s legislation would allow for all window surfaces to be tinted if a driver has a medical condition, such light sensitivity due to brain trauma, that results in photophobia.

“They will get a special license plate that will tell our law enforcement that they are approved through the Secretary of State’s office,” he said.

* Rep. Katie Stuart’s HB3994

Changes all statutory references of alderman and aldermen to alderperson and alderpersons. Changes all statutory references of congressman to congressperson.

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Ethics and Lobbying Reform commission co-chair signals support for Pritzker’s ethics ideas

Thursday, Jan 30, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

Members of the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform sought input on what could have been done to prevent recent high-profile conflicts of interest and what more must be done to hold lawmakers accountable at a hearing Thursday.

“We’re here to make systemic change, close loopholes, and root out opportunities for corrupt behavior that have been identified in recent media reports and investigations,” said state Rep. Greg Harris, who co-chairs the commission. “Yesterday, the governor talked about restoring public trust and cleaning up government. He specifically talked about dealing with disclosures of conflicts of interest, revolving door laws, and limitations on lobbying. Looking around the room as the governor talked, I was happy to see he got a rousing ovation for these three items. From the House, from the Senate, from Democrats, from Republicans. That’s a very good sign for our work. But these proposals are only as good as their details, and it is our job to fill in those details.”

Brad Cole of the Illinois Municipal League and former Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon encouraged members to update and improve the financial interest disclosures legislators are currently required to file. Cole reiterated the need for more complete lobbyist disclosures, including disclosure of lobbyists being paid to influence local governments. Aside from state government, only a handful of Illinois’ nearly 7,000 units of government have any kind of disclosure requirements for those seeking to influence decision-making by public officials.

“People deserve to know that their lawmakers are voting in their communities’ best interests, not in their own interest,” said Sen. Elgie Sims, co-chair of the commission. “We look forward to continuing to engage with experts and stakeholders in these critical discussions.”

Thoughts?

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Caption contest!

Thursday, Jan 30, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Have fun…


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Bloomberg Will Beat Trump

Thursday, Jan 30, 2020 - Posted by Advertising Department

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

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Trump has broken promise after promise and only one candidate can hold him accountable this November.

We’ll be talking to Capitol Fax readers every day through the March 17 primary. Stay tuned as we tell you why we like Mike and learn more at www.mikebloomberg.com.

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Question of the day

Thursday, Jan 30, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From the governor’s State of the State address

Those who would shout doom and gloom might be loud – using social media bots and paid hacks to advance their false notions – but they are not many. You see, we’re wresting the public conversation in Illinois back from people concerned with one thing and one thing only — predicting total disaster, spending hundreds of millions of dollars promoting it, and then doing everything in their power to make it happen.

I’m here to tell the carnival barkers, the doomsayers, the paid professional critics – the State of our State is growing stronger each day.

* The Question: Can he succeed in “wresting the public conversation” back? Make sure to explain your answer. Thanks.

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This might help explain some of the AVR glitch

Thursday, Jan 30, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Finke

Employees of Secretary of State Jesse White who are members of the Illinois Federation of Teachers have taken a strike authorization vote, but will continue negotiating for the time being. […]

The contract issue involves two locals of the IFT representing employees in White’s office. One is a group of 98 information systems employees and the other is a group of 157 workers with a variety of job titles in the state archives, state library, personnel, securities and elsewhere. […]

Taylor also said IT workers in the secretary of state’s office are paid less than comparable jobs in other areas of state government which leads to job turnover.

“We really don’t want the office to be the stepping ground for employees to move on to other offices or agencies,” she said.

Other job titles in the secretary of state’s office also pay less than comparable positions elsewhere, she said. Taylor said there is also an issue about not filling job vacancies which puts pressure on the remaining workers. She said the IT local has seen a 20 percent reduction in membership since 2010.

Underpaid and grumbling employees in woefully short-staffed offices. And we wonder why there was an undetected automatic voter registration programming glitch? I mean, what could possibly go wrong? [Hat tip to a commenter.]

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More SOTS react

Thursday, Jan 30, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Senate President Don Harmon

In his State of the State address Wednesday, Pritzker said he wanted Illinois to adopt a revolving door prohibition to prevent elected officials from retiring one day and then immediately lobbying their former colleagues.

Harmon offered his support for the idea.

“I’ve long been troubled by the appearance of someone serving as a member of the General Assembly on Friday and becoming a lobbyist on Monday. That’s a problem and one we should tackle,” Harmon said. “You shouldn’t be a lawmaker one day and a lobbyist the next.”

* Capitol News Illinois

But [Gov. Pritzker] said more needs to be done in the coming year, especially in promoting racial diversity and social equity.

“Bit by bit, inch by inch, I am working hard to reverse the harm that has been done to people and communities that have been left behind over many generations by government policies and elected officials who were content to simply ignore them,” Pritzker said.

Those remarks received high praise from members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus. But they also said they intend to make sure Pritzker follows through on the commitment, especially in the distribution of jobs created through the capital plan.

“There are no other communities in the state of Illinois that have been ignored like the black communities,” Rep. La Shawn K. Ford, a Chicago Democrat, said during a black caucus news conference after Pritzker’s speech. “So we are grateful that we voted for almost a $50 billion capital bill to rebuild Illinois. … That means that this caucus will stand strong to work with the governor’s administration and urge our constituents to urge the governor to rebuild our black communities.”

* Sun-Times

In its response, the Legislative Black Caucus also pushed for ethics reforms, more money for infrastructure and education, and criminal justice reform.

“The governor talked about corruption, but the greatest corruption in the state of Illinois is the communities where black people live,” said state Rep. La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago. “They’re deteriorating, schools are falling apart, roads are crumbling, bridges are crumbling and homeowners are struggling.”

* SJ-R

The governor pledged to work on new clean energy legislation, but that pledge came with a warning.

“I’m not going to sign an energy bill written by the utility companies,” he said, a clear warning to utility giant Commonwealth Edison which has had past support in the Illinois Statehouse.

Illinois Environmental Council Executive Director Jen Walling

At a time when the Trump administration is taking major steps backward on climate, Governor Pritzker’s commitment to signing community-driven energy legislation — not a bill written by big utility companies — is a refreshing and much-needed departure from the old way of doing things.

We are grateful to have the governor as a partner in the fight to combat the climate crisis, which may be the greatest challenge of our time. The Clean Energy Jobs Act, or CEJA, will make Illinois a national leader in addressing climate change by setting us on a course to eliminate carbon from the electricity sector by 2030 and achieve 100% clean energy by 2050. We look forward to working with Governor Pritzker and the bill sponsors to get this done this session.

* Bloomberg

The speech on Wednesday and Pritzker’s budget address next month will serve as reminders to voters of the importance of the tax proposal, said Dora Lee, director of research at Belle Haven Investments, which manages about $11 billion of municipal assets including Illinois debt.

“The upcoming income tax referendum could potentially be a turning point for the state and to the governor’s pension reform plan,” Lee said. “It’s vital that he continues to make the case to voters over the next several months.”

* Capitol News Illinois

Illinois’ top fiscal and investment officers touted some of the economic policy initiatives laid out by Gov. JB Pritzker in his State of the State speech Wednesday and stressed the importance of continuing to balance the budget.

The credit ratings agencies’ view that Illinois has better financial stability than it did a year ago means “more dollars are going into our roads and bridges and our schools than into Wall Street bankers’ pockets,” Treasurer Michael Frerichs said.

Ethics reforms will ensure state officials are “always looking for the opportunity to stand up for taxpayers and to be an advocate for them,” Comptroller Susana Mendoza said. Her office is backing measures to address the current “corrupt” red light camera system and eliminate the “exit bonus” some lawmakers get when they leave office.

And while it is “good to see a governor talking about positive aspects of our state,” Frerichs said, “it’s clear we have financial issues that will need to be addressed.”

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“Everyone knows this is a train wreck waiting to happen”

Thursday, Jan 30, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From the Cook County Public Guardian…

January 30, 2020

VIA EMAIL

Theresa Eagleson, Director
Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services

Marc Smith, Director
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services

Re: MCO Daily Horror Story

Dear Directors Smith and Eagleson:

I am at a loss as to how Illinois can, in good conscious, precipitously move forward on Saturday with the [managed care organization] scheme for 19,000 former youth in care who have been adopted or are in subsidized guardianship, many of whom have complex medical needs. Everyone knows this is a train wreck waiting to happen. The many and complex problems have been well documented. I’ve now sent you the plights of 9 families involving 15 special needs children.

Yesterday we received a call from an employee at IlliniCare. As you know, IlliniCare is the default MCO for the 19,000 children formerly in care. The utter dysfunction, chaos, and confusion within IlliniCare are well documented in the 6 prior letters I’ve sent you over the past two weeks.

The IlliniCare employee contacted us because she is alarmed by the dysfunctional way the MCO transfer is happening and its harmful impact on medical care for our most vulnerable children. Among other alarming concerns, this IlliniCare employee reported:

    • Many of the people doing assessments are not qualified. You will recall that I shared in a previous letter that a different IlliniCare worker reported the same problem to us.

    • Staff are assigned too many assessments to do them in a competent manner. Staff are pressured to just complete assessments, whether or not they are accurate or complete, for the sake of getting them done to meet a daily quota.

    • As a result, assessments are incomplete or inaccurate. Sometimes when a foster parent calls with a problem or question, and a worker looks at the assessment completed on the child, the assessment indicates that the child is healthy when, in fact, the child has special medical needs.

    • Basically what staff are doing is copying and pasting template assessments into the system.

    • DCFS caseworkers are often not helpful in assisting parents with the MCO process because it’s time consuming and they have so much else to do.

    • The IlliniCare phone lines are overwhelmed. Parents cannot get through. This is consistent with what foster parents, adoptive parents, and guardians are telling us.

For all of these reasons, the employee said that if anyone did an audit on the assessments, IlliniCare would fail. I am therefore requesting that DCFS and DHFS conduct a thorough audit of the IlliniCare assessments. I also request that the precipitous dump of the 19,000 former youth in care be delayed until the audit is complete and we have a handle on IlliniCare’s ability to competently manage the transfer without disruption in medical care for the children. I have copied Heidi Dalenberg and urge that the ACLU and Judge Brown oversee this audit.

Sincerely,

Charles P. Golbert
Public Guardian

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SOTS dissent

Thursday, Jan 30, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Center Square

The governor talked about reducing property taxes by allowing local government consolidation. But that wasn’t enough for state Sen. Neil Anderson, R-Andalusia.

“My takeaway was, something that stuck out to me, is he talked about Twitter more than he talked about property taxes,” Anderson said. “Which is a little frustrating.”

He talked about more than just consolidation.

* Capitol News Illinois

Veteran state Sen. Dale Righter, a Mattoon Republican who has announced he won’t seek re-election this year, said he was disappointed in how little Pritzker spoke about the need for ethics reform.

“The governor who is the leader of a party that is drowning in corruption devoted four paragraphs of an 80-paragraph speech to corruption,” Righter said in an interview. “He spent twice as much time talking about the flags outside the Thompson Center than he did about corruption within his own party. He missed a huge opportunity here.”

* WGN TV

The lobbying reforms could be a tough sell, many members work on the side as lawyers and lobbyists.

State Sen. Dale Righter (R-Matoon) said he’ll believe it when he sees it.

“If the governor wants this to happen in Springfield he’s going to have to do more than give it the brief lip service like he did in this speech,” Righter said.

Or maybe just quietly work hard to pass a bill.

* SJ-R

Durkin said he was disappointed that Pritzker didn’t spend time explaining how he plans to grow the state’s economy.

“There should have been more emphasis on that,” Durkin said. “We have to do everything we can to make Illinois a more (economically) viable state, for employers to make investments.”

Pritzker spent more than half of the speech recounting the significant accomplishments from last year, a lengthy list that included a balanced budget, recreational marijuana, a capital plan, expanded gambling and more.

* Sun-Times

Durkin said he was disappointed Pritzker did not mention redistricting reform, saying the governor previously said he supports a non-partisan map for the state’s legislative districts, but so far has not done anything to back up his pledge. […]

Illinois Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, too, said Pritzker should have focused more on a fair redistricting process and should take the lead in helping Democrats “change how we map things.”

“That will root out ultimate corruption in Illinois,” Brady said on the public television program “Illinois Lawmakers.”

* Politico

“There are an awful lot of us who think the scourge begins when lawmakers draw the lines and pick their own districts. That’s how it enters the bloodstream,” said Madeleine Doubek, executive director of Change Illinois, a nonprofit dedicated to cleaning up government.

Doubek praised Pritzker for tackling an issue head-on that so many politicos have avoided, but she added: “If we’re truly going to fix things, we need to start with fair maps.”

* Tribune

“I truly believe that the ability the Democratic Party has to draw this supermajority gerrymandered map is the root of corruption,” Brady said. “They’ve given themselves too much power, and that power leads to corruption.”

Pritzker has said he’ll veto any partisan map that reaches his desk, but Republicans say that’s too subjective and that the Democratic majority in the legislature could override that veto.

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AG Raoul sues to force ERA certification

Thursday, Jan 30, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I told subscribers about this a couple of days ago…

Attorney General Kwame Raoul today joined Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring in filing a lawsuit to ensure the federal government acknowledges that the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is now the 28th Amendment to the Constitution. The ERA guarantees equal rights for all Americans regardless of their sex.

Raoul and the attorneys general filed a lawsuit today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the Archivist of the United States. In the lawsuit, the attorneys general ask the court to direct the archivist to perform his statutory duty to certify the ERA as the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“Equal rights are not contingent upon a person’s gender or sex, which is why I was proud to vote in support of the Equal Rights Amendment as an Illinois state senator, and I am committed to continuing to fight for the ERA to be recognized as the 28th Amendment,” Raoul said. “It is past time that we ensure women across the country have the constitutional equality to which they are entitled, and I look forward to my daughter — who aspires to study law — being able to one day, when sworn into the bar, take an oath to promise to support a constitution that recognizes her right to equality under the law.”​

“I am so proud that Virginia was the 38th and final state needed to ratify the ERA, finally pushing us over the edge and enshrining gender equality in our nation’s founding document. For too long, women have not been afforded the same protections as men under the Constitution,” Herring said. “We now have this historic opportunity to ensure that equal rights regardless of sex are added to the Constitution. Virginians have made it clear that it is their will that the ERA be ratified and I now have the great honor of continuing that fight to make sure that gender equality is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing equality for generations of women to come.”

“Women have always been endowed with equal rights, even though our country has wrongly failed to recognize them,” Ford said. “These rights are entitled to their rightful place in the Constitution, and I am committed to ensuring they are permanently written into our nation’s history and its future. Advancing civil rights is one of my Administration’s main areas of focus. The gravity of this movement should not be underplayed—today we are advocating for women’s rights here in Nevada and all over the country, and we are taking an essential stride towards inclusivity.”

The ERA states that “[e]quality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Though an equal rights amendment was proposed as early as 1923, the ERA was not adopted by Congress until 1972, when it passed with broad, bipartisan support. By 1977, 35 states had ratified the ERA. Illinois ratified the ERA in 2018. When combined with Nevada’s ratification in 2017 and Virginia’s ratification vote just this Monday, a total of 38 states have now ratified the ERA, passing the constitutional threshold required for the ERA to become the 28th Amendment. With the ERA, the U.S. Constitution provides an explicit guarantee of protection against discrimination based on sex. These protections are forever enshrined in the Constitution.

“This country is ready for Constitutional equality for women,” Carol Jenkins, Co-President and CEO of the ERA Coalition/Fund for Women’s Equality said. “Our research shows that 94 percent of all Americans believe in it. We have worked tirelessly for nearly 100 years. This movement cannot be stopped. The Constitution must be amended and it will be.”

In the complaint, Raoul and the attorneys general explain that under the text of the Constitution, an amendment approved by Congress automatically becomes a valid part of the Constitution as soon as it is ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states. The complaint further asserts that the U.S. Archivist does not have any discretionary authority over which amendments are added to the Constitution. As a result, the Archivist is legally obligated to recognize that the ERA has become part of the Constitution. Raoul and the attorneys general are asking the court to order the Archivist to do his duty and certify that the ERA, as the 28th Amendment to the Constitution, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.

The lawsuit is here.

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Candidates release dueling ag endorsements

Thursday, Jan 30, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

Mary Miller, Candidate for Congress in the 15th District, has landed a major endorsement from Illinois Farm Bureau ACTIVATOR.

Representatives from the county Farm Bureaus throughout the 15th Congressional District met Monday with the candidates running for Congress and ended the day by endorsing Mary Miller for Congress.

Illinois Farm Bureau ACTIVATOR is pleased to endorse Mary Miller in the Republican primary. She’s a strong conservative who understands challenges facing farmers and rural Illinois and is clearly ready to roll up her sleeves and fight for our members and for all citizens of the state’s largest congressional district,” said 15th District ACTIVATOR committee chairman Gale Koelling, president of Washington County Farm Bureau.

Miller said she is looking forward to working with the Illinois Farm Bureau to advocate for farmers throughout the 15th District. 

“I am and always will be a friend of Agriculture,” Miller told the local Farm Bureau representatives. “I am in this race to win. I can assure you that I will work with you to promote Illinois agriculture when I get to Congress.”

Mary Miller is running for Congress in the 15th Congressional District, which includes all of 29 counties and parts of four counties. The District is almost 52 percent rural.

This is retiring US Rep. John Shimkus’ district. Miller is the spouse of Rep. Chris Miller (R-Oakland), an Eastern Bloc member. She faces the vice president of the Altamont School Board Kerry Wolff, physician Charles Ellington and Vermilion County Treasurer Darren Duncan.

* Duncan released his own endorsements to counter Miller’s Farm Bureau nod…

Conservative Vermilion County Treasurer Darren Duncan, a seventh-generation farmer, has been endorsed by two of the top House Republican Ag Committee members for Illinois 15th Congressional District.
Former House Agriculture Committee Chairman and current Ranking Member Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) and the Rural America Counts PAC, chaired by Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR) announced their endorsements of Darren Duncan Tuesday.

“As a farmer, a Christian, and a conservative, I’m confident Darren Duncan will be a great leader for central and southern Illinois farm families in the House of Representatives,” said Ranking Member Conaway. “As I’ve worked on many of the most difficult agriculture issues in my career in the House, I know we would be benefitted by a lifelong farmer who puts principle ahead of politics.”

The Rural America Counts PAC is chaired by Arkansas Congressman Rick Crawford, who serves on the House Agriculture Committee and has played a key role in the passage of two Farm Bills, serving on Conference Committees both in 2008 and 2018.

“I represent an area nearly as rural as the one Darren Duncan is seeking to represent, and I know that he will be a strong, principled leader who will govern with common sense in Washington,” said Crawford. “I want more farmers helping create agriculture policy in the House, and I know a lifelong farmer brings common sense, experience, and the values we need to be a champion for farmers and rural communities in the House of Representatives.”

Duncan says he’s honored to have the support of top agriculture supporters in the House of Representatives.

“I’ve spent my whole life farming, and to imagine I would have the opportunity to run for Congress and have the support of some of the top leaders in agriculture is beyond my expectations,” said Duncan. “I’m thankful to Ranking Member Conaway and Representative Crawford for having confidence in a farm boy from Illinois to want me in the House of Representatives to help them advance the cause of farmers and rural Illinois.”

We’ll see where the NRA goes.

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SoS office takes more heat on AVR

Thursday, Jan 30, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I’m not sure I totally get the uproar here. If you were 16 years old and would turn 17 before this year’s primary, you’d be eligible to vote in the primary as long as you turn 18 by the general election. So, starting the registration process for 16-year-old kids doesn’t seem to be a giant scandal. That being said, the ISBE was well within its rights to block the registration process from starting

The Secretary of State’s office allowed approximately 4,700 16-year-olds to begin the voter registration process under the state’s automatic voter registration program, officials said Wednesday. […]

Board of Elections spokesperson Matt Dietrich told The Daily line that the board had noticed a large number of voter registration applications for 16-year-olds were flowing in from the Secretary of State’s office, and had sent letters to roughly 4,700 of those teenagers letting them know their applications to register to vote would not be processed.

Secretary of State officials told the board Wednesday that the agency’s system now prevents a voter application from being forwarded to the Board of Elections if a person checks “no” on either the question about their citizenship or if they are 18 years or older after a recent programming fix.

While a recent law allows for 17-year-olds to vote in Illinois primary elections if they will be 18 by the general election, Dietrich said there’s no way a 16-year-old should ever be registered.

“There’s no getting around that,” Dietrich said. “That’s why we were kicking [the 16-year-olds] out.”

Some board members said they were worried about a potential “chilling effect” on young people voting if the very first interaction they had with a voting authority was a letter saying they were too young to vote.

The SoS and the Board of Elections needs a much better communications process.

* Senate GOP Leader Bill Brady responds…

The Illinois Secretary of State needs to suspend the AVR program until all glitches, known and unknown, are fixed. There clearly also needs to be an independent investigation into how these glitches occurred, why they were unreported and what can be done to ensure this never happens again. Our vote is our most cherished right in a democracy, and even just one illegal vote can tarnish the credibility of the entire system.

…Adding… A spokesperson for the secretary of state’s office says they will no longer send those applications to the board of elections.

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If a judge approves, Facebook may owe you a couple hundred bucks

Thursday, Jan 30, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Tribune

Facebook will pay $550 million to Illinois users to settle allegations that its facial tagging feature violated their privacy rights.

The settlement — which could amount to a couple of hundred dollars for each user who is part of the class-action settlement — stems from a federal lawsuit filed in Illinois nearly five years ago that alleges the social media giant violated a state law protecting residents’ biometric information. Biometric information can include data from facial, fingerprint and iris scans.

Illinois has one of the strictest biometric privacy laws in the nation. The 2008 law mandates that companies collecting such information obtain prior consent from consumers, detailing how they’ll use it and how long it will be kept. The law also allows private citizens to sue.

A federal court judge in San Francisco, where the lawsuit was moved, must approve the settlement. Those eligible to claim a portion of the settlement will be notified, said attorney Jay Edelson, whose firm represents some of the consumers.

Edelson’s firm is well-known for suing California tech companies and has expanded to Illinois. From the firm’s website

The next steps in this case will be the parties finalizing the settlement then presenting it to the Court and asking the Court to grant preliminary approval and direct notice to be sent to the Class. If you are a Class Member, you should get direct notice with additional details about the settlement and your specific options in the coming weeks. At this point, there is nothing you need to do.

* TechCrunch

The Illinois suit was filed in 2015, alleging that Facebook collected facial recognition data on images of users in the state without disclosure, in contravention of the state’s 2008 Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). Similar suits were filed against Shutterfly, Snapchat, and Google.

Facebook pushed back in 2016, saying that facial recognition processing didn’t count as biometric data, and that anyway Illinois law didn’t apply to it, a California company. The judge rejected these arguments with flair, saying the definition of biometric was “cramped” and the assertion of Facebook’s immunity would be “a complete negation” of Illinois law in this context. […]

2019 took the case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where Facebook was again rebuffed; the court concluded that “the development of face template using facial-recognition technology without consent (as alleged here) invades an individual’s private affairs and concrete interests. Similar conduct is actionable at common law.”

Facebook’s request for a rehearing en banc, which is to say with the full complement of judges there present, was unanimously denied two months later.

At last, after some 5 years of this, Facebook decided to settle, a representative told TechCrunch, “as it was in the best interest of our community and our shareholders to move past this matter.” Obviously it admits to no wrongdoing.

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