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Friday, Feb 28, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I don’t speak the language, but there is so much love expressed in this song. See you Monday. Peace

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The Champaign county clerk really needs to get his act together

Friday, Feb 28, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From the Champaign County GOP

Earlier this week WCIA covered the mailing of multiple ballots to some absentee voters in Champaign County. The County Clerk claimed that it wouldn’t present any problems because these people couldn’t vote twice.

However, state law requires that every Election Authority (County Clerk) upload to the State Board of Elections the names of everyone who has received a pre-election ballot. Every jurisdiction in the state is complying with this law except Champaign County and Alexander County (literally, the poorest county in the state).

This list allows the state, other jurisdictions, and poll watchers to look for duplicate voting. So right now, a voter who casts a ballot in Champaign County is able to register to vote in another jurisdiction in the state and they would have no reason to believe that they were not entitled to a ballot.

Once again, Champaign County voters are given assurances about the conduct of elections, but once again a major failing exists.

Scaremongering aside, there’s just no reason for this nonsense. Click here and see the full statewide list for yourself.


Jerry Costello appointed new state Ag Director

Friday, Feb 28, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

Building on a strong team of experts in their fields, Governor JB Pritzker appointed Jerry Costello II to serve as the Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

“With farming playing an important role in his family’s history and a career of public service, there’s no better person to lead the Illinois Department of Agriculture at this time than Jerry Costello,” said Gov. JB Pritzker. “Our agriculture sector drives our state’s economy to the tune of $19 billion every year, and I’m confident that Jerry’s deep experience will bring a steady hand to the department and continue the impressive growth of this vital industry.”

“I’m honored to continue serving the people of Illinois and excited to take the helm at the department I once oversaw in the state legislature,” said Jerry Costello II, Acting Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture. “As a leading producer of soybeans, corn and swine, Illinois is home to the most dedicated farmers in the world, and I look forward to partnering with them to grow our state’s agricultural economy.”


Jerry Costello II will serve as the Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.* He joins the Governor’s cabinet from his position as the Director of Law Enforcement for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, which he had held since May 2019. Costello represented the 116th district in the Illinois House of Representatives from 2011 to 2019, during which he served as chair the Agriculture and Conservation committee. He also served on the Pritzker-Stratton Agriculture Transition Committee. A graduate of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Costello decided to serve his country by joining the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. Not long after signing up, he and his unit saw combat during Operation Desert Storm. Following his military service in Iraq, Costello returned to Illinois where he became a police officer and started a family. Initially a patrolman, he would rise through the ranks and become assistant chief of police. Born and raised in Southern Illinois, his family has a small farm in Franklin County, producing crops and raising cattle. Costello lives in Smithton with his wife Lori and their three children.

Costello replaces John Sullivan, who was forced to resign after he admitted opening that now-infamous “rape in Champaign” email from Mike McClain. Sullivan denied having read the entire email.


Corruption roundup

Friday, Feb 28, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Mark Brown and Robert Herguth at the Sun-Times

Worth Township Supervisor John O’Sullivan, who has been under investigation for his role in the SafeSpeed red-light camera scandal, told township officials he intends to resign Friday.

O’Sullivan, a former state legislator and Democratic committeeman, is under federal scrutiny because of his work as a sales consultant for SafeSpeed LLC.

SafeSpeed provides red-light cameras to numerous suburbs, including several where O’Sullivan has helped elect allies to local offices. […]

The Sun-Times reported previously that O’Sullivan, a political associate of [Patrick Doherty, who was indicted on bribery charges and is chief of staff to Cook County Commissioner Jeff Tobolski], lobbied Oak Lawn officials to more aggressively ticket motorists identified by SafeSpeed’s cameras as potential violators.

O’Sullivan has a strong precinct crew that has done work for Speaker Madigan’s operation, among others.

* Tribune

Former Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios and his political committees must pay $168,000 in fines after a judge dismissed his complaints challenging the ethics board’s findings and ability to sanction him.

The Cook County Ethics Board previously fined Berrios, the Committee to Elect Joseph Berrios Cook County Assessor and his 31st Ward Democratic Organization $41,000 in January 2018 and $127,000 more that May for accepting campaign contributions in excess of legal limits.

At the center of the ethics board’s rulings was a 2016 county ordinance stating that donors who seek “official action” with the county may contribute no more than $750 in nonelection years. Attorneys for Berrios sought to overturn the rulings, arguing that the county limits are unconstitutional and that higher limits set by state law should apply, among other objections. […]

“My office worked tirelessly to defend the actions of the Cook County Board of Ethics and demand accountability from Mr. Berrios,” Foxx said in a statement.

The ruling is here.

* Lauren FitzPatrick and Tim Novak at the Sun-Times

On a quiet street in Oak Lawn, a brick split-level home with a built-in pool sat empty for years, mold growing in the flood-prone basement.

Federal lenders seized the house after the couple who owned it split up. They sold it to the Cook County Land Bank Authority, a government agency established for just such a circumstance: to find buyers for vacant houses, usually in struggling neighborhoods.

Two developers offered to buy and fix up the home, which an inspector had warned “is not a rehab for the faint of heart or a tight budget.” But the land bank turned down both developers.

Instead, it sold the home in 2018 — at a lower price than what the developers offered to pay — to Natasha Cornog, executive assistant to the land bank’s top boss, and her elderly mother on the condition that they live there. And so the Cornogs paid $150,000 for the home the land bank had bought for $141,786. […]

But Cornog had another problem, a Chicago Sun-Times investigation found. She was taking homestead property tax exemptions on that house and also two more she owns, records show. The law allows you to take only one homestead exemption — on the home where you live.

Cornog has since been fired.


Question of the day

Friday, Feb 28, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The governor was in Peoria the other day for a tech demo

* The Question: Caption?


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Friday, Feb 28, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Groups sue over automatic voter registration implementation failures

Friday, Feb 28, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights…

After more than two years’ efforts working with state agencies stalled, six advocacy groups representing the nonpartisan Just Democracy Illinois coalition have filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Illinois Secretary of State’s office (SOS) and the Illinois Board of Elections (SBOE) for failing to properly implement Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) and violating federal and state voting rights laws. The coalition is seeking a court order to fix the implementation problems.

The suit charges that implementation of the voter registration law, which was supposed to be implemented in July 2018, has been riddled with problems and massively delayed. Three elections have passed without AVR properly in place. Earlier this year, the Secretary of State’s office revealed that it failed to protect hundreds of people who identified as non-citizens from being accidentally registered. The agency also allowed several thousand 16-year-olds to begin the registration process and sent election officials the information of eligible voters who appeared to decline to be registered.

The lawsuit filed today charges SOS and SBOE with violations under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), the federal Voting Rights Act, and the Illinois AVR statute by failing to provide language access for those with limited English proficiency and failing to automatically update voter rolls when people have moved, among other problems. “The implementation problems layered on top of each other create serious barriers to voter registration access,” according to the complaint.

Ami Gandhi, Senior Counsel at Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights which is representing the coalition, said: “By failing to implement AVR properly, these agencies are creating serious barriers to voter registration access.”

Lawrence Benito, CEO/Executive Director of Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) said: “AVR is not the problem, the Secretary of State’s office is the problem. SOS was tasked with executing this law and instead it has put individuals at risk and undermined confidence in our voting system.”

Jay Young, Executive Director for Common Cause Illinois, agreed: “We’ve tried meeting directly with officials, giving testimony at public hearings, negotiating a resolution, and sending legal notices to address these issues – but these agencies aren’t meeting us halfway. This lawsuit is a measure of last resort to fix the ongoing problems with AVR implementation and improve the accuracy and security of the state’s voter rolls.”

Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago, CHANGE Illinois, Chicago Votes, Common Cause Illinois, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) and Illinois Public Interest Research Group (Illinois PIRG) are steering committee members of the Just Democracy Illinois coalition, which advocated for passage of the AVR law in 2017. AVR was passed on a unanimous, bipartisan vote and signed into law by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

The voter registration law was intended to provide fair registration access to over one million eligible, but unregistered voters in Illinois. By automatically registering eligible voters interacting with state agencies, AVR would also address longstanding racial disparities in voting access. According to US Census Bureau data, voter registration rates for Black, Latino, and Asian citizens lag behind the registration rate for White citizens in the state.

“Asian American communities across Illinois continue to lag behind in voter registration rates, largely due to language barriers. That is why compliance with Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act is absolutely essential,” said Andy Kang, Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago. “This is about protecting our communities’ access to the ballot box.”

Niyati Shah, Assistant Director of Legal Advocacy at Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC said: “We want Illinois agencies to fulfill AVR’s promise and expand voter access to these very communities that have been historically excluded from civic participation while complying with federal laws such as the NVRA and the Voting Rights Act.”

Attorneys at Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC and pro bono co-counsel say that the lawsuit is not intended to suspend the AVR program but rather to get a court mandate to fix these ongoing problems.

The lawsuit is here.


Coronavirus roundup

Friday, Feb 28, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Click here for links to three real-time coronavirus heat maps. And now, a press release…

Governor JB Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot today joined City and State public health officials to announce a robust and coordinated effort to prevent spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Earlier this month, Illinois became the first state to provide COVID-19 testing in-state, allowing IDPH to produce results within 24 hours. Next week, the administration will expand testing statewide, with new testing labs in the central and southern regions to join the existing testing lab in Cook County. Following the recommendation of the CDC, the state will also partner with hospitals in every region to engage in voluntary testing, which will allow us to diagnose new cases quickly and prevent any further community spread. Under the plan, certain emergency departments will soon begin testing select patients who present with influenza-like symptoms for COVID-19.

“Our top priority is keeping Illinoisans safe and we are using every tool and resource at our disposal to prepare for this virus and contain any spread,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “This is a coordinated effort with state, city and local entities working together to put the full weight of our government behind this response. Illinois has a leading public health system that was the first – and remains one of just a few nationally – able to test for COVID-19 and we will continue leading the way forward to protect our communities.”

To date, Illinois has had two confirmed cases of COVID-19 and both individuals have made a full recovery. The immediate health risk to the state remains low. While the latest available information suggests that person-to-person spread will continue to occur and additional cases are likely to be identified in the United States, most cases of COVID-19 cause a mild illness. In very rare cases people infected with the virus have died. Additionally, to date, data shows that children are less likely to become ill.

“For over a month, Chicago has been working daily to strengthen and refine our response to this situation, contain the virus, and protect our residents from any harm,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “While the chances of contracting coronavirus remain extremely low, we will continue to closely monitor this situation as it evolves, and take appropriate preventive and pre-cautionary measures as needed in coordination with public health agencies, and our many community and healthcare partners.”

“We continue to actively monitor the international and domestic situation closely, plan ahead and strengthen and refine our local public health response,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. “We’ve undertaken these serious, but necessary measures while remaining in close communication with our federal and local partners to ensure all systems in place work efficiently and effectively.”

“Cook County Department of Public Health continues to work closely with IDPH, CDPH and the CDC in our efforts and will use what resources we have to minimize the risk of spread in our communities,” said Dr. Terry Mason, COO of Cook County Department of Public Health. “The collaboration between all the agencies is what resulted in the best possible outcome for the two confirmed cases. This is classic public health at work doing what we are trained and prepared to do.”

The city and state are experienced at responding to infections disease outbreaks and continue to work in lockstep to put systems in place to respond to this new virus. Current efforts include:

    Airport screening and monitoring health of travelers returning from China.

    Investigating confirmed cases of COVID-19 and monitoring friends and family who may have been exposed.

    Planning community measures that can help limit the spread of disease, like having ill individuals stay home (including housing and transportation needs).

    Providing regular guidance to hospitals and healthcare professionals, including information on infection control, personal protective equipment (PPE) supply planning, and clinical evaluation.

    Working to expand local laboratory testing for COVID-19.

    Developing and distributing guidance for childcare facilities, schools, universities, businesses, community- and faith-based organizations, among many others.

In addition to efforts by local health systems, there are important steps individuals and communities can take to help minimize the risk of COVID-19 spread:

    Practice everyday preventive actions such as performing frequent hand hygiene, using hand sanitizer or soap and water when visibly soiled; covering your cough and sneezes; avoiding ill people; and staying home when sick (except to seek medical care). These simple actions can prevent the spread of many illnesses, including COVID-19.

    Healthcare providers should continue to ask patients with fever and respiratory symptoms about their travel history. Refer to CDC’s Guidance for Healthcare Professionals for more information on screening and evaluating Persons Under Investigation.

    Childcare facilities, K-12 schools and colleges/universities should review their emergency operations plans, including strategies for social distancing and online learning.

    Businesses and employers should actively encourage all employees to stay home when sick, perform hand hygiene, and cover coughs and sneezes. Businesses should review their emergency operations plan, including identification of essential business functions, teleworking and flexible sick leave policies. For more information see CDC’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers.

    Community- and faith-based organizations should review existing emergency operations plans, including strategies for social distancing and modifying large gatherings such as concerts and festivals.

Officials also warned against stigmatization toward specific populations and said knowing the facts about COVID-19 will help minimize stigma and misinformation.

This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available. More information can be found on the IDPH website, the CDPH website, and the CDC website and questions can be directed to the IDPH hotline, 1-800-889-3931.

* The federal government really needs to get its act together

Federal health employees interacted with Americans quarantined for possible exposure to the coronavirus without proper medical training or protective gear, then scattered into the general population, according to a government whistle-blower who lawmakers say faced retaliation for reporting concerns.


World Health Organization officials said Friday they are increasing the risk assessment of the coronavirus, which has spread to at least 49 countries in a matter of weeks, to “very high” at a global level.

“We are on the highest level of alert or highest level of risk assessment in terms of spread and in terms of impact,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s health emergencies program. The group isn’t trying to alarm or scare people, he said. “This is a reality check for every government on the planet: Wake up. Get ready. This virus may be on its way and you need to be ready. You have a duty to your citizens, you have a duty to the world to be ready.”

The world can still avoid “the worst of it,” but the increased risk assessment means the WHO’s “level of concern is at its highest,” he said at a press conference at WHO headquarters in Geneva.

World leaders still have a chance to contain the virus within their borders, Ryan said. “To wait, to be complacent to be caught unawares at this point, it’s really not much of an excuse.”

* Reuters

World share markets crashed again, winding up their worst week since the 2008 global financial crisis and bringing the global wipeout to $5 trillion.

Hopes that the epidemic that started in China late last year would be over in months, and that economic activity would quickly return to normal, have been shattered as the number of international cases has spiralled.

“The outbreak is getting bigger,” WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told reporters in Geneva.

“The scenario of the coronavirus reaching multiple countries, if not all countries around the world, is something we have been looking at and warning against since quite a while.”

* This is a good point

Health officials are urging the public to get vaccines like the flu or pneumonia shot.

While it won’t prevent contracting the virus, it will help keep people out of healthcare systems.

* Other important news…

* ADDED: No, the CDC isn’t recommending men shave their beards to protect against the coronavirus

* How A Coronavirus Blood Test Could Solve Some Medical Mysteries: Very few kids globally have ended up in the hospital. Is that because they’re not getting infected, or they’re getting infected but not getting sick? An answer to that question will help public health officials figure out whether it makes sense to close schools if there’s a big outbreak.

* What are the novel coronavirus health risks?: It doesn’t get a lot of press attention, but seasonal influenza viruses kill tens of thousands of people every year in the U.S. Current estimates of mortality rates for COVID-19 – which may not be completely accurate because we do not know how many unreported or unconfirmed infections there are – suggest that this disease is more deadly than seasonal influenza. However, mortality rates are highly age-dependent and are only high for older people and people with other underlying health conditions. Accurate estimates of these numbers in the middle of an outbreak are hard, but the case fatality rates for confirmed cases of COVID-19 in China are 1.3% for ages 50-59, 3.6% for ages 60-69, 8% for 70-79, and 14.8% for 80+. Mortality rates are much lower for younger people.

* Chicago Area School Districts Putting Together Coronavirus Protocol: The IDPH says the state statute “allows schools districts to use e-learning days in lieu of emergency days if they have an e-learning plan approved by their Regional Office of Education.” … There were lessons learned when the 2009 H1N1 pandemic closed over 100 schools. The CDC said research since then shows that something small like keeping classes smaller and spacing desks further apart could have a big role in minimizing spread of other similar viruses, like coronavirus.

* Olympic Officials Dismiss ‘Speculation’ That Coronavirus Could Disrupt Tokyo Games

* Key Missteps at the CDC Have Set Back Its Ability to Detect the Potential Spread of Coronavirus: The CDC designed a flawed test for COVID-19, then took weeks to figure out a fix so state and local labs could use it. New York still doesn’t trust the test’s accuracy.

* Springfield businesses not seeing impact of coronavirus — yet: “If we have a suspected case of coronavirus, we know the testing criteria, we know how we isolate that patient, we know where we would place them in our facility, we know how we would contact the state Department of Public Health to get testing done, we know the equipment we will need,” said Raj Govindaiah, chief medical officer at Memorial Health System. “Yeah, we’re prepared.” The hospital has put together a group led by its infection prevention experts to make a coronavirus plan. The group has been meeting for about a month, with Govindaiah describing the effort as analogous to the hospital’s response to the Ebola outbreak in 2014.

* Coronavirus outbreaks worry students studying abroad, while colleges cancel some overseas programs. ‘Doing everything I can to stay safe and healthy.’


Feeding Our Future, Protecting Our Farmers

Friday, Feb 28, 2020 - Posted by Advertising Department

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Today, Mike Bloomberg announced a progressive agenda for the next generation of American farms, reversing the Trump administration’s missteps and restoring respect and opportunity to America’s farmers and rural communities.

As a candidate, Trump claimed he was going to “take care of the farmers,” but he has repeatedly put politics before the best interests of America’s agricultural producers and engaged in a reckless trade war with China that puts the American economy at risk.

Mike will reverse Trump’s needless trade war, promote farms of all sizes, make trade policy fair, and invest in a 21st century agricultural economy.

Read more about Mike’s agriculture plan here.

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Fun with numbers

Friday, Feb 28, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller


Chicago’s public schools will no longer observe Columbus Day, replacing that October school holiday with Indigenous Peoples Day. The decision by the Chicago Board of Education has aroused the ire of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans. Its president, Sergio Giangrande, on Thursday called the decision a “slap in the face” of the more than 500,000 Italian Americans in Chicago. Grande says his group, which sponsors the city’s annual Columbus Day parade, is moving to reverse the school district’s decision. The five-to-two decision by the Chicago Board of Education follows similar efforts elsewhere, including South Dakota, to recognize the negative effect of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the western hemisphere on the indigenous population.

Um, that 500,000 number is for the entire Chicagoland area, not the city itself. The Illinois portion of the Chicago region is about 8.63 million people, so they’re just under 6 percent of the population. Just 10.3 percent of CPS students are white, and it stands to reason that far fewer are Italian-Americans. That’s not meant to downplay the role of Italian-Americans in society, it’s just pointing out that the number used by Mr. Giangrande and repeated in several news outlets is inflated.

* Meanwhile…

* There’s obviously a strong feeling of entitlement by most ethnicities for “their” holiday, which is reflected in this comment…

To be fair, Sposato said “The Polish” and “the Irish,” so it’s kind hard to say this was racist. But that’s beside the point. People get all fired up about “their” holiday, so none of this is particularly surprising.

* As an aside, I have German ancestry. “We” have a “day,” but it’s not a “no-work” holiday, even though almost 20 percent of Illinoisans report German ancestry.

I’ve often wondered who should be chosen to celebrate on a German-American holiday. Albert Einstein comes to mind. Any musings from you?


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Only one black candidate on Madigan’s 13th Ward palm card

Friday, Feb 28, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* We talked yesterday about the 13th Ward’s palm card that doesn’t include party-slated State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. More from Hannah Meisel and Alex Nitkin at the Daily Line

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner Kimberly Neely DuBuclet were not included on Madigan’s list of candidates he supports, despite being slated by Cook County Democrats last fall ahead of the March 17 primary. Also missing from the palm card is MWRD Commissioner Cam Davis, who is running for re-election after a successful write-in campaign in 2018.

While the State’s Attorney’s race is totally absent from the palm card, MWRD candidates Eira Corral Sepúlveda and Patricia Therese Flynn are recommended on the card. DuBuclet, Davis and Sepúlveda were slated by the party last year, but Flynn was not, instead entering the race with the support of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 399, which has given nearly $83,000 to her campaign.

The party did not slate congressional candidates, but atop the palm card is U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, who is an embattled primary race with progressive Marie Newman, who came close to besting Lipinski in the 2018 primary matchup.

The palm card urges voters to back the official choice of the Cook County Democrats for the 1st District seat on the Illinois Supreme Court, P. Scott Neville. Neville was appointed to the high court in 2018 after former Justice Charles Freeman retired. Neville is the only African American on the 13th Ward palm card. […]

The palm card begins with outdated voting instructions to “connect the arrow” on the ballot. Touchscreens will be used at every early voting site and will be available by request on Election Day, with options to select ballots and audio prompts in English, Spanish, Chinese or Hindi, officials said.

All other voters will fill in bubbles to choose their candidates, ending the previous system of asking voters to scribble a thick line.

* Rachel Hinton at the Sun-Times

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who doubles as chair of the county Democratic Party, said she has “no control” over the palm cards of individual committeepersons.

“The Cook County Democratic Party slates candidates. It has always been true, and it is still true, that not every committeeman puts on their palm card every candidate slated by the party,” Preckwinkle said. “And the chairman of the party has no control over the individual decisions [made] by a committeeman.”

When asked if that means the speaker isn’t a team player, Preckwinkle, who is also mentor to Foxx, said “I think I’ve said all I’m gonna say.”

Preckwinkle and Mayor Lightfoot are doing an event for Foxx today at the Painters District Council 14 Headquarters, so I figure reporters will be asking more questions about this.


McSweeney says he reported “allegations of a potentially serious crime” to law enforcement

Friday, Feb 28, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills)…

I was made aware of allegations of a potentially serious crime involving public official misconduct and immediately reported it to law enforcement authorities. I have been authorized to report that there is an ongoing investigation into the allegations. When the investigation is complete, I will urge for all the documents and reports to be fully released to the public and will answer all questions authorized by law enforcement officials.

I believe that as a result of my involvement in this investigation, misinformation is being intentionally shared regarding my red light camera ban bills. As such, I want to make it clear that I will not be intimidated and will continue to fully cooperate with law enforcement on their important investigation described above. Law enforcement has also been made aware of these concerns.

On a separate note, my HB 322 (bans red light camera for non- home rule units of government) has passed the House and will be sent to the Senate. Yesterday as promised, I officially asked for HB 323 (bans ALL IL red light cameras) to be released from the Rules Committee.

We must end corruption in both parties in IL!

Rep. McSweeney said the potential crime did not involve red-light cameras, but did clarify that “One of the people who has knowledge of my interactions with law enforcement” is involved with spreading the above-mentioned misinformation about his bill.

He said he wasn’t authorized to tell me if this public official was a legislator or which law enforcement agency he notified.


Pritzker over Rauner, 130-10

Friday, Feb 28, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Lauren FitzPatrick at the Sun-Times

What do you give to a governor who has two mansions and can afford anything he wants? How about a $950 bottle of Japanese whisky. Or $450 worth of tequila. Or a bust of Abe Lincoln?

Those were among the 130 gifts Gov. J.B. Pritzker has logged getting since taking office a little over a year ago, records show. The uber-wealthy Illinois politician also reported getting six hats, a smattering of scarves, 14 shirts and 54 books among a haul that his staff values at an estimated $25,230. […]

Pritzker didn’t keep any of it, according to spokeswoman Jordan Abuddayeh, who says the governor shared anything perishable with his staff and put the rest in secure storage locations at the Thompson Center and the Capitol until they are donated to charity. […]

The logs list Republican former Gov. Bruce Rauner as having gotten just 10 items in his first year in office, 2015. It showed Rauner received chocolates that December, eight books — including one titled “Don’t Sell Yourself Short” — and a painting. It didn’t include prices or say what was done with the items. Rauner representatives didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.


*** UPDATED x1 *** Pritzker kicks three Racing Board members to the curb for allegedly illegal campaign contributions

Friday, Feb 28, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Mitchell Armentrout at the Sun-Times

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday forced out three members of the Illinois Racing Board for allegedly making illegal political contributions, leaving the state’s horse racing regulatory agency in flux as the struggling industry jockeys to get back on track with help from a massive gambling expansion.

The abrupt resignations of Racing Board Chairman Jeffrey Brincat and commissioners Edgar Ramirez and Gregory Sronce were the result of apparent violations of a new provision included in the gaming package signed into law by Pritzker last summer, which bars board members from giving money to politicians.

“The Illinois Horse Racing Act states that ‘[n]o member of the Board … shall engage in any political activity,’” Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said in an email. “Three sitting members of the Illinois Racing Board made political contributions. As a result, they were asked to resign and each has submitted a letter of resignation.”

Brincat, who was appointed by Republican former Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2015, gave $1,000 to the campaign of state Sen. Tony Munoz, D-Chicago, on Dec. 15, according to Illinois State Board of Elections records, almost six months after Pritzker signed the gaming expansion June 28. […]

Three seats were already vacant on the 11-person racing board before the abrupt resignations of Brincat, Sronce and Ramirez. That leaves just five members, which is short of the quorum required “for the transaction of any business” under state law.


*** UPDATE *** \Bernie

Sronce, 36, said Friday he agreed to resign from the panel that oversees horse racing in the state but was not aware of the law signed last summer until after he had written a $1,000 check to the Sangamon County Republican Foundation.

Gov. JB Pritzker signed the new gaming law on June 28. Board general counsel John Gay sent the board members a memo on July 15 saying in part “board members and staff are barred from participating in any political activity in support of or in connection with any campaign for state or local elective office or any political organization.”

Sronce produced a copy of a check he wrote July 2 to the GOP foundation. He also noted the group supports local candidates for offices including park and school board.

“It’s a very strange prohibition that as a commissioner you can’t donate to a local park board or school board candidate,” Sronce said, while gaming interests can donate to legislators who make laws concerning the industry and “can put them on the payroll.” He called the situation “ironic.”


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Open thread

Friday, Feb 28, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* A suggested topic: Do you want me to continue posting these open threads?


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Friday, Feb 28, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

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