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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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Friday, Feb 28, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

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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

* Follow along with ScribbleLive

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Today’s quotable: “I, I can’t answer that”

Thursday, Feb 27, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* WILL Radio interviewed congressional hopeful Mary Miller

Mary Miller says her bid for Congress is a case of “an ordinary person that’s stepping into an extraordinary opportunity.”

Miller is the wife of first-term State Representative Chris Miller. Together, they run a grain and livestock farm outside of Oakland in Coles County. Mrs. Miller, who has a degree in elementary education, also teaches children through a network of home schools.

When comparing herself to Republican incumbent John Shimkus, Miller notes her support for term limits. Shimkus, who signed a term limits pledge when he first ran for Congress, later rejected the idea of self-imposed term limits, and is now completing his twelfth term in the U.S. House. But Miller said that because of her support for term limits, she doesn’t expect to have a long political career. […]

When asked about health care policy, Miller said she wanted to work for solutions to health care that many Americans find unaffordable. She cites the need for more transparency and competition in the health insurance marketplace, but opposes any “single payer” proposals. Miller said she couldn’t answer the question of whether the Affordable Care Act passed by Democrats during the Obama administration needed to be entirely repealed and replaced.

Her Affordable Care Act response was kinda weird. She actually whispered “I, I can’t answer that” like she’d get in trouble or something if she did answer the question. And then the interviewer moved on like nothing had happened.

* Her response is at the 3:48 mark in the above link, but Darren Duncan’s congressional campaign isolated it


Mike Has The Steady And Experienced Leadership America Needs

Thursday, Feb 27, 2020 - Posted by Advertising Department

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

While President Trump is focused on polls and politics, Mike will always put the health and safety of Americans first. Mike is an experienced crisis manager who has prioritized public health throughout his tenure as mayor of New York City and in his global philanthropic efforts.

As the U.S. braces for the spread of the Coronavirus, President Trump’s reckless and paranoid leadership continues to put Americans at risk.

While Trump’s mouthpieces cry conspiracy, Trump has disbanded the National Security Council’s Office of Global Health Security and recommended cuts to the CDC’s funding.

Mike has the steady hand and leadership experience to manage a crisis, calm the markets, and save lives.

Read more about Mike’s public health plan here, and watch the newest ad “Pandemic” here.

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Coronavirus roundup

Thursday, Feb 27, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

State Representative David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) says Illinois needs a point person to coordinate coronavirus containment efforts with the federal government.

“We need a person with a strong medical background who can serve as a liaison between Illinois and Washington D.C.,” McSweeney said. “Millions of people visit Chicago every year. The impact this coronavirus would have on our state could be severe. It is important that we work with the federal government and make sure all of our state agencies are taking the appropriate measures. Governor Pritzker should immediately appoint someone to coordinate these efforts.”

Illinois currently has two confirmed coronavirus cases both in Chicagoland area.

“The disease is already here,” McSweeney said. “The Governor should be proactive in protecting Illinois citizens from this potentially deadly virus.”

* I asked the governor’s office for a response…

The health and safety of Illinoisans is a top priority for Governor Pritzker that’s why our state agencies have been coordinating to protect our residents since day one. IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau manages all state emergencies and IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike, who has decades of experience in public health, leads a team of qualified experts. IDPH has a team of seasoned epidemiologists who are working closely with other state agencies like IEMA as well as the CDC, CDPH and other public health partners to implement measures that have been able to successfully contain the virus to this point and they are now working diligently to prepare the state and keep our communities safe in the event of further spread.

As subscribers already know, the state’s head epidemiologist recently resigned.


The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is working with local, state, and federal health partners to take all preventative steps available to limit the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). While COVID-19 is not spreading in communities in Illinois or the U.S., there is evidence of community spread in several countries around the world and IDPH is committed to working across local, state, and federal agencies to ensure Illinois is prepared.

IDPH is currently conducting hospital assessments to determine all available capacity in the event more people need medical care. IDPH is also assessing the availability of personal protective equipment such as gloves, gowns, and masks for health care workers. Earlier this month, Illinois became the first state to provide COVID-19 testing in-state and IDPH is continuing to work on increasing capacity for testing to ensure rapid results.

“As additional cases of COVID-19 are diagnosed in an increasing number of countries, the Illinois Department of Public Health is working with health care providers and local public health officials, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other state agencies to coordinate a robust response and take every possible step we can to prepare,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “Illinois has already led the charge, becoming the first state to be able to test for COVID-19 at state laboratories. As we move forward, we are working across city, state, and federal agencies to identify all available resources and ensure we are using every tool to keep our communities safe.”

Since January 2020, IDPH has worked closely with local, state, and federal partners to successfully contain the virus in Illinois, with only two confirmed cases. Efforts have included:

* Implementing testing for COVID-19 in Illinois, becoming the first state to do so.
* Setting up a statewide hotline for questions about coronavirus
* Providing guidance and recommendations to local health departments, hospitals, EMS, clinicians, and other partners in a variety of areas:

    * Assessment for COVID-19 in patients based on risk due to travel or close contact to a confirmed case
    * Evaluation and reporting persons under investigation
    * Infection control practices
    * Precautions for schools, universities/colleges, and students
    * Isolation/quarantine
    * Prevention steps for caregivers and close contacts
    * Specimen submission and testing
    * Recommended strategies for personal protective equipment use
    * Emergency department call triage
    * Emergency Medical Services and 911 call center response

* Providing routine briefings to the General Assembly
* Communicating with the public by creating a coronavirus disease webpage, issuing news releases, hosting press conferences, conducting interviews, and providing information on social media.

While efforts to contain the number of COVID-19 cases will continue, Illinois will also utilize community mitigation strategies. Community mitigation aims to slow the spread of a novel virus in communities using nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) better known as “everyday preventive actions” including staying home when sick, covering coughs and sneezes, frequent handwashing, and routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces and objects.

In the absence of medications or vaccines, community mitigation measures are the first line of defense against highly transmissible infectious diseases. Preventative actions should be practiced by Illinoisans at all times, but especially as we continue to monitor potential spread of a new virus.

…Adding… Correct…

* Related…

* Coronavirus could lead to drug shortages in US: About 90% of the active ingredients used by U.S. companies in drug manufacturing come from China, which has prompted politicians and public health experts to express concern over potential shortages of common generics. To date, manufacturing disruptions caused by the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, haven’t led to reported shortages in the U.S., but the Food and Drug Administration said it’s closely monitoring the situation. The FDA said earlier this week it was tracking about 20 drugs that are manufactured primarily in China. Depending on the drug, stockpiles lasting weeks, perhaps months, have been warehoused, according to supply chain experts.

* What the state is doing about coronavirus

* Illinois public health officials briefing state legislature on coronavirus developments: “IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike has held conference call briefings with legislators’ offices as new information becomes available,” said IDPH spokesperson Chris Martinez. “[The] director and IDPH staff have also been available to answer questions or to provide an update in person or via phone at any time.”

* Patient screened for coronavirus at Belleville Memorial Hospital: “Following guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, BJC HealthCare hospitals have processes in place to screen patients for risk of coronavirus, or COVID-19,” a statement from BJC Healthcare read. “Based on medical symptoms and travel history, patients may be referred for further laboratory testing. Memorial Hospital Belleville has referred one patient to the Illinois Department of Public Health for testing and is expecting results in the next few days.”

* Area health departments address increasing coronavirus risk: Champaign-Urbana Public Health District has entered what it calls “full pandemic preparedness mode.” They haven’t done that in more than a decade, since the H1N1 virus in 2009. They’re making plans on what to do if the virus comes to central Illinois. Part of that is by holding meeting with hospitals and doctors and communicating with the public on prevention. … A lot of people are wearing surgical masks as a precaution to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. However, the CDC does not recommend this for a way to stop yourself from getting it. It is best used for those who are sick and want to keep from spreading whatever they have.

* America’s bad paid sick leave policy could make the coronavirus outbreak worse: There is no federal law guaranteeing paid time off for illness, and paid sick leave is comparatively rare for lower-wage workers. Just 63 percent of people working in service occupations have paid sick leave, versus more than 90 percent of people in management positions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For people working part-time, just 43 percent can get sick leave from their employer.

* Japan cancels all school for a month, Saudi Arabia puts hajj on hold as coronavirus spreads

* Is the coronavirus a threat to Southern Illinois? Here are 5 things you should know: The deadliness of an outbreak is often measured by the case fatality rate, or the ratio of deaths to the total number of cases in a given area. Within China, the overall fatality rate is 2.3%. The older you are, the greater the risk, Chinese health officials determined in a study released earlier this month. For those younger than 50, the death rate was less than 1%, a number that increases to nearly 15% for people over 80.

* Stocks Fall Sharply As Concern Over Coronavirus Grows

* Pence Picks Top U.S. AIDS Official for Coronavirus Response: Investors anxious about the spread of the coronavirus from its origins in China have sought assurances that the Trump administration is prepared to confront a potential public health crisis. Trump, who in the past has called for budget cuts at the CDC and other health agencies, said Wednesday he would bring in officials from within the government to help with the virus response.


Gift Of Hope CEO Says Kidney Patients Need Support

Thursday, Feb 27, 2020 - Posted by Advertising Department

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

In Illinois, over 30,000 people suffer from end-stage renal disease (ESRD). This disease imposes a harsh physical, mental, and financial burden on them and their families. That’s why organizations, community groups, health professionals, and businesses from across Illinois founded The Illinois Kidney Care Alliance (IKCA).

Kevin Cmunt, CEO of Gift of Hope— a founding member of IKCA— recently sat down for an interview with Health News Illinois.

“There are tens of thousands of Illinoisans who suffer from end-stage renal disease. It’s really expensive. It’s cost our society and our state, and it’s just a really crummy disease,” Cmunt told HNI.

For dialysis patients fortunate enough to have insurance, ESRD can still be an annual out-of-pocket expense in excess of $7,000. And many patients with advanced kidney disease are low-income.

Read more of Kevin’s interview and learn more about IKCA, kidney care in Illinois, challenges faced by those with ESRD, and next steps for the Alliance here.

The Illinois Kidney Care Alliance is proud to have Kevin Cmunt and Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network advocate for those with ESRD. For more information visit our website.

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Mazzochi to HDems: “You’ve done nothing” about corruption

Thursday, Feb 27, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I also told subscribers about this earlier today. The Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board’s executive director Brent Fischer testified at a House appropriations committee yesterday and was asked about Forrest Ashby. He was the guy Mike McClain was trying to protect when he vouched for him to two Pat Quinn administration officials. McClain said Ashby “kept his mouth shut on Jones’ ghost workers, the rape in Champaign and other items. He is loyal to the administration.”

Tony Arnold at WBEZ

“You’re saying that you paid Mr. Ashby $60,000 a year not to actually do the curriculum review and development but to just observe some classes and hire some interns?” Rep. Deanne Mazzochi, R-Elmhurst, asked Fischer.

“Well I mean he could participate but it wasn’t like he was gonna be the ultimate decider as far as what the curriculum was,” Fischer responded.

“Right,” Mazzochi shot back. “So what’s his value add for $60,000?”

Fischer said he did not publicly post the contractual position, but instead offered it directly to Ashby since the two already had a rapport. Fischer testified that he knew Ashby because he had volunteered on one of Fischer’s own campaigns. But he added that nobody from Pritzker’s campaign, the governor’s office, the speaker’s office, or McClain recommended he hire Ashby on contract.

* Just before the House adjourned today, Rep. Mazzochi rose to say this

I would like to alert all the members of this chamber that back in January many of you were extremely upset about the fact that a man named Forrest Ashby was being given political insider privileges and perks in connection with potentially keeping his mouth shut about ghost-payrollers and covering up knowledge about a rape in Champaign.

Yesterday at the Public Appropriations Committee hearing meeting was the first time we have on our side of the aisle had an opportunity to actually ask someone from the administration, what was going on with that. And as it turned out, this same person was given a $60,000 a year, no-bid job, based on his personal connections to the executive director of the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Standards Board.

We have called for investigations, we have called for transparency, as to what this person did, what did he know, and more directly, what was Mike McClain doing. Who was he getting into these political positions. We don’t agree with ghost-payrolling and if you don’t think that this kind of thing isn’t ghost-payrolling, I don’t know what you think is.

We’ve called for investigations, and you’ve done nothing. You haven’t convened any committees, you haven’t done any investigations, you haven’t made sure that this is not happening throughout all levels of our government. And I would like this body, because you said you were upset, you said you were concerned, to actually do something.

This was two months ago, that you found out about this, and you’ve done nothing. It’s unacceptable, and I would really like to know when you’re going to finally tell your leadership that this kind of corrupt culture is not acceptable here in Springfield, and finally start doing something about it.


*** UPDATED x1 *** Kim Foxx is not on Madigan’s 13th Ward palm card

Thursday, Feb 27, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Check it out…

* I asked the ward’s PR firm, Boyce Possley Communications, why the party-slated incumbent state’s attorney was not on the 13th Ward’s palm cards. Eileen Boyce…

We’ve weighed in on these races to date, and will continue to monitor all of the races.


*** UPDATE *** Looks like I stepped on Hannah. Sorry!…

Not a good look for the 13th Ward.

…Adding… Lightfoot and Preckwinkle actually agree on something…

With less than three weeks to go before Election Day, union members and labor leaders are joining together with Mayor Lori Lightfoot and President Toni Preckwinkle for a Labor Get Out The Vote Rally tomorrow, Feb. 28 at 11:30 a.m., in support of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.

The rally will be held at the headquarters of Painters District Council 14, 1456 W. Adams St. in Chicago, who will be announcing their endorsement of Kim Foxx. Speakers to include Painters District Council 14 Business Manager/Secretary-Treasurer John Spiros, Mayor Lightfoot, President Preckwinkle, and State’s Attorney Foxx.

WHO: Labor leaders and union members from the Painters District Council 14, SEIU, the Chicago Federation of Labor, the Chicago Teachers Union, and other unions along with Mayor of the City of Chicago Lori Lightfoot, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx
WHAT: Labor GOTV Rally for Kim Foxx
WHERE: Painters District Council 14 Headquarters

…Adding… Perhaps this 2019 story is why?

A Cook County grand jury has subpoenaed city election records related to 13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn’s challenge to a college student’s nominating signatures during the last City Hall campaign, the Tribune has learned.

Quinn, the hand-picked alderman of House Speaker Michael Madigan, the 13th Ward’s Democratic committeeman for decades, soundly defeated David Krupa, a DePaul University student, in the Feb. 26 City Council race.


New Senate Transportation chair promises break with the past

Thursday, Feb 27, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago), the newly appointed chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, sent a letter to his colleagues inviting them to reintroduce any legislation that Villivalam’s predecessor refused to give an open hearing.

“It has been widely reported that the chair of the Senate Transportation Committee from 2009 to October of 2019 conducted meetings and approached policy, as it relates to transportation issues, without making the public good and/or public policy his top priority,” Villivalam said. “As the new chair, I have vowed to create and implement an open, transparent and accountable process for legislation that will maintain and improve our transportation and infrastructure system in a data-driven, equitable way.”

Villivalam pledged to provide an open, fair and transparent process for all legislation assigned to the Transportation Committee this year. He also encouraged his colleagues in the General Assembly to notify him if a bill in the Transportation Committee was assigned to the committee in a previous year but never heard.

“I am committed to holding hearings throughout the state to enable local people to comment on the transportation issues that matter most to them,” Villivalam said. “The government works for the people, so it works best when everyone gets a chance to voice their opinions, and we legislators make the best, most informed decisions when we talk to both experts and the people whose everyday lives are effected by our decisions.”

The Senate Transportation Committee normally meets on Tuesdays at 5 p.m.



It’s just a bill

Thursday, Feb 27, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* SJ-R

The REACH Act would require all public schools to implement health curricula tailored for each grade level. Here’s the proposed breakdown:

    • Grades K-2: Personal safety, identifying trusted adults children can rely on for guidance and support, respecting others

    • Grades 3-5: Continues on personal safety and healthy relationships, discusses bullying, harassment and abuse, and covers topics such as anatomy, puberty, hygiene, body image, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression

    • Grades 6-12: Builds on prior instruction about healthy relationships by covering issues like consent, sexual harassment, abuse, and interpersonal violence, provides additional information on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, and covers the benefits of abstinence, behavioral changes, barrier methods like condoms, medication, contraception, and sexually transmitted infection prevention methods.

[…] The Illinois Association of School Boards plans to oppose the bill because the group is against all new curricular mandates, said Thomas Bertrand, IASB executive director.

The ACLU has a competing bill that would not be a state mandate. I’m hearing tensions are high between the two sides and that may prevent anything from passing this spring.

* Pete Janko, candidate for the Illinois House…

It used to be that millionaires and billionaires would just buy our politicians to do their bidding. But with so many special interests competing to buy favors from our elected officials, it’s becoming too much work for some of the rich to get the first in line spot with our elected officials. As the old saying goes, “If you want something done your way, you do it yourself,” right? So it looks like the rich are simply cutting out the middleman, spending huge amounts of money flooding the airwaves, the internet, and your mailbox with their propaganda, trying to buy elections.

No doubt we need to get Citizens United and Buckley v Valeo reversed. But, until that happens, I that the States should levy a so-called ‘sin tax’ on politicians, which I call the “Excessive Political Campaigns Tax” (EPC Tax).

How The Tax Work Would Work.

Every year, IRS Form 1040 asks taxpayers if they would like $3 to go to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund. Let’s interpret $3 as the suggested value of a single voter. We take that $3 and multiply it by the number of registered voters that can vote for a specific candidate (district, county, city, etc.). That becomes the amount of money raised in the election cycle that would be exempt form the EPC Tax. Any money a campaign raises above that amount, including any of the candidate’s own money spent on the race, would be considered “excessive” and taxed – let’s say at 15%.

For example, a given district has 50,000 registered voters. Multiplied by $3 equals $150,000 that will be exempt from the EPC Tax. The last thing anyone wants to do is hinder in any way a grass-roots campaign or just a traditional campaign. But as we can see, the vast majority of campaign will not pay the EPC Tax .

* Hannah Meisel

Illinois’ solar industry is sounding the alarm on a dwindling source of state money that supports hundreds of solar energy projects, leading renewable energy advocates to warn of a solar energy “bust.”

The 2016 Future Energy Jobs Act provides approximately $235 million in grant funding annually for renewable energy projects including solar and wind. But that fund — fueled by fees paid by utility customers— has failed to keep up with demand for solar energy projects from both large-scale companies and homeowners.

Those pushing a bill referred to as the “Path to 100” are asking the state to gradually increase renewable energy fees from 2 percent to 4 percent by 2020. Advocates said the change would mean the average residential customer would pay approximately $1.75 per month to support solar and wind energy.

* Tribune

Earlier on Wednesday, the House Transportation Committee voted to send another red-light camera bill that would prohibit employees of red-light camera companies or employee-created PACs from contributing more than $500 to any political candidate in a given year to the full House for a vote.

* Press release…

State Representative Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) has filed a constitutional amendment to create retroactive term limits in Illinois. HJRCA44 provides that each General Assembly office is limited to 12 years and each executive branch office is limited to 8 years, specifically:

    · A State Senator may not be elected to office for more than 12 years
    · A State Representative may not be elected to office for more than 12 years
    · An individual can serve a combined 24 years in the General Assembly
    · No person can be elected to an Executive Branch office for more than 8 years
    · Time served prior to the adoption of this amendment would also be considered in the calculation of years of service

Batinick has long advocated for term limits in the General Assembly, but with the uptick in corruption plaguing the statehouse, the Representative deemed the retroactive addition necessary to firmly part with the status quo.

“No amount of laws will make us immune to corruption, but we can minimize the root cause,” said Rep. Batinick. “If we are serious about ethics reform, this is a strong start to prevent concentrated power—and the influence peddling that goes along with that. To part with the corruption that has become the norm for us and the disappointment of our taxpayers, we need change.”

The purpose of this legislation is to make retroactive term limits a constitutional amendment to be put on the ballot in the November 2020 election. Should HJRCA44 pass, those who currently exceed these term limits would be able to finish out their term, but cannot run for reelection.

“We need term limits in Illinois to move forward to responsible and transparent government,” continued Batinick. “Until that happens, we will continue to wade through the old ways of governing that made Illinois synonymous with corruption.”

As legislative session resumes, Representative Batinick will continue the push for ethics reform, including HJRCA44. Currently, the legislation is awaiting further consideration in the Rules Committee.

* Other stuff…

* Why Supreme Court’s denial of term-limit referendum is a big win for Elk Grove’s mayor: The unanimous decision reverses a Cook County judge’s Jan. 15 ruling that found a state law barring retroactive term-limit measures to be unconstitutional. Instead, the high court sided with Elk Grove’s electoral board — and ultimately Gov. J.B. Pritzker — which upheld an objection to the referendum question on the basis it violated the recently-enacted state law.

* Advocates rally to end cash bail in Illinois


The rest of the story

Thursday, Feb 27, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller


Some voters in Champaign County are concerned after getting more than one ballot sent to them. They all chose to vote by mail. Now they’re worried other people may be able to vote more than once.

All of them have voted by mail at the same address more than once before. They never had any issues until now. We talked to three people: two who got two ballots and another who got three.

Janet Gravlin has lived at the same address in Urbana for 54 years. She has voted by mail for several years. This year, she got two ballots, each with a slightly different address. Sharon Petersson, on the other hand, got three ballots sent to her. All of them with the exact same address.

“When you stop and think how many people are getting duplicates that… maybe send them all back, I don’t know how they check if it does go back,” said Janet Gravlin.

What’s missing in the story is how mailed-in ballots are checked before they’re accepted at the county clerk level.

* I’ve never voted by mail, so I reached out to Matt Dietrich at the Illinois State Board of Elections…

The ballot is specifically for the voter who requests it and you return it in a special envelope with your signature, which is verified by an election judge just like if you get a ballot in a polling place.


Reading between the lines

Thursday, Feb 27, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Jason Meisner at the Tribune

Federal prosecutors are asking for a prison sentence of about three years for a Chicago lawyer accused of scheming with former Ald. Edward Vrdolyak to reap millions of dollars in legal fees from the state’s massive settlement with the tobacco companies despite having done no work on the case.

Daniel Soso, 67, pleaded guilty last year to one count of income tax evasion for his role in the scheme, which prosecutors said netted Soso and Vrdolyak at least a combined $10 million in illicit payments from the historic $9.3 billion settlement beginning in 1999.

Soso is scheduled to be sentenced next week by U.S. District Judge Robert Dow. Vrdolyak, 82, who also pleaded guilty, faces up to about 2½ years in prison when he is sentenced April 2.

In a court filing Tuesday, prosecutors said that sparing Soso from a significant term behind bars would “contribute to the current climate of cynicism that well-heeled white collar criminal defendants and the politically connected are held to to a different standard than others.”

Gee, I wonder what white-collar, politically connected criminal recently in the news for being held to a different standard they might be referring to here? Any guesses?


Question of the day

Thursday, Feb 27, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The setup

Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to take an epic trip to visit three or four of the states that have legalized cannabis, he told reporters in New York City on Thursday.

This trip is not the fulfillment of the governor’s tenth grade bucket list, however. Rather, the journey is to help him prepare for similar legislation in the state’s budget this year.

Cuomo said that he’ll be bringing his team to Massachusetts, Illinois and California or Colorado, “to meet with them, discuss what they’ve done, what’s worked, what hasn’t worked.

* The Question: Your suggested itinerary for Gov. Cuomo?


Universities ask for more state funding

Thursday, Feb 27, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The Center Square

Officials from three of the state’s public universities went before a Senate committee on Wednesday to detail their funding requests, including one double-digit increase.

Public universities had a difficult during the two-year state budget impasse brought on by the stalemate between former Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratically-controlled General Assembly. With Democrats firmly in control of all levers of state government, some of the state’s universities are asking for more funding than they had received in Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s first state budget.

Representatives from Eastern Illinois University, Governors State University, and the University of Illinois presented requests to the Senate Appropriations II Committee on Wednesday.

The University of Illinois system, which announced it would break a years-long tuition freeze this fall, requested a total of $657 million in the fiscal year beginning this July, a more than 12 percent increase in state funding from the current year, not including a $303 million request for capital project spending.

“We deferred upgrades during the budget impasse, we had to,” U of I President Timothy Killeen said of the steps the system was forced to take in recent years due to lack of state funding.

Higher education funding would remain level in Gov. Pritzker’s budget unless the graduated income tax is approved by voters in November.

* Capitol News Illinois

“Adjusted for inflation, this increase would still be below … our fiscal 2015 funding level,” said U of I System President Timothy Killeen. “And I want to remind you, we now have many thousands more students in our classrooms than we did back then.” […]

But some members of the committee were skeptical of the need for that large of an increase. Among those was Sen. Scott Bennett, a Champaign Democrat, who noted that U of I recently announced plans to raise tuition starting in the fall of 2020 after going five years with no tuition increases.

“When, by then, you had to increase tuition, it was at the same board (of trustees) meeting in which certain administrators also got increases,” Bennett said. […]

Killeen, however, noted that during the budget impasse, U of I eliminated about 300 higher-level administrative positions and that the school’s focus would be building up its teaching faculty by hiring 100 new faculty per year for the next five years.

The amount of ground lost by the state’s higher education system during the previous three administrations did incalculable harm. And the impasse darned near killed them off. Yes, I know this is a maintenance budget and there just isn’t a lot of money out there to be had. But the same Democrats who spent four years complaining about the damage done by Bruce Rauner should be stepping up now.

* Related…

* MAP is back - Increased funding to help low-income college students


*** UPDATED x1 *** Suburban mayor calls legislators who voted for red-light cam ban bill “a bunch of idiots”

Thursday, Feb 27, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* We discussed this yesterday, but let’s take a look at what reporters found when they asked around. First, Marni Pyke at the Daily Herald

The future of red-light cameras in non-home-rule municipalities is in question after the Illinois House passed legislation partially banning the devices Wednesday. […]

Democratic State Rep. Mark Walker of Arlington Heights voted no, saying the bill does not include Chicago or most of his district, where many suburbs have home-rule authority.

“It doesn’t cover any of the communities where corruption has been uncovered. There are better bills soon to come out of committee — to outlaw red light cameras across all counties and cities,” Walker said.

Democratic State Rep. Diane Pappas of Itasca voted no because the bill “takes away a safety tool and source of revenue from some of the communities that are most constrained in the state. It’s easy to pick on the little guys.”

* Jamie Munks at the Tribune

The House vote was 84-4 in favor of the legislation, but the measure will likely continue to face pushback in the suburbs and the Illinois Municipal League.

Rep. Diane Pappas, a suburban Democrat, said the measure is less a red-light camera issue and more a “local control issue.”

“What we’re doing by passing this bill is not banning evil red-light cameras, we are depriving non-home rule communities of rights that home rule communities will continue to have,” Pappas said. “People will continue to be ticketed for running red lights in home rule communities but not in non-home rule communities.”

* Neal Earley at the Sun-Times

Krzysztof Wasowicz, mayor of southwest suburban Justice, called the lawmakers who passed the bill “a bunch of idiots” who are unfairly punishing non-home rule municipalities such as his.

“The program could be administered better, things could be tweaked, things could be worked out differently,” Wasowicz said. “So why do you want to throw the baby out with the bathwater?” […]

“We don’t want to lay off people and cut services because of some rash decision by the House, [North Riverside Village President Hubert Hermanek Jr.] said. […]

“I think anybody who voted for this is more concerned about pandering to voters than the safety of residents,” [Libertyville Mayor Terry Weppler] said.

* Jerry Nowicki at Capitol News Illinois

Rep. Anthony DeLuca, D-Chicago Heights, suggested that taking away red light ticket revenue might cause affected municipalities to raise property taxes, but McSweeney said those communities should cut costs.

DeLuca said the red light camera program should be reformed rather than partially banned.

“I believe you’re doing this bill to create a headline, you’re not doing this bill to solve corruption,” Rep. Thaddeus Jones, D-Calumet City, said.

Rep. Rita Mayfield, D-Waukegan, however, strongly supported the measure, saying red light cameras “have been a crux in the black and brown communities for years.”

* Dave Dahl

Sponsoring State Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) is tying this to former State Sen. Martin Sandoval, who pleaded guilty in a scheme to protect red light vendors from a ban on their products.

“This is the bill I passed in 2015,” McSweeney said on the floor, “This is the bill that is so dangerous to the red-light camera companies that they acted to bribe a state senator. They have a roomful of lobbyists. This is a good first step.”

*** UPDATE *** Rep. McSweeney filed a motion to reconsider the vote on his red-light cam bill. I asked him why…

So that Team Durkin couldn’t do it. I’ll release it next week.

…Adding… Yep…


Open thread

Thursday, Feb 27, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Illinois-centric and polite comments only, please. Thanks.


Support The Healthy Youth Act

Thursday, Feb 27, 2020 - Posted by Advertising Department

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

The Healthy Youth Act builds upon the current requirement that instruction be medically accurate, developmentally and age appropriate to include instruction that is also culturally and linguistically appropriate and adapted for students with disabilities and non-English speaking students for grades K-12.

It also removes outdated, stigmatizing language and updates the current 6-12 standards for health and sexual health education courses by including information on healthy relationships and decision making; STIs including HIV; puberty, growth, and adolescent development; gender identity, gender expression; and sexual orientation; personal safety; and pregnancy and reproduction.

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Thursday, Feb 27, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Thursday, Feb 27, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Follow along with ScribbleLive

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* Isabel’s afternoon briefing
* Beyond the horse race
* Cannabis baron ridicules equity programs: "We’re going to give these assets to felons and people that have two heads and all this kind of stuff"
* IEPA says it won't do anything about polluting refineries
* Pritzker stands behind his messaging, claims support for candidates
* A quick Illinois history lesson
* Vallas gets out in front of attacks
* Following the money
* A massive failure
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today's edition
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Open thread
* Isabel’s morning briefing
* Live coverage
* Laurence Msall
* Yesterday's stories

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