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Syverson appears to claim state is “adjusting” positivity rate

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2020

* Wut?

A state Senator from a region slated for additional COVID-19 restrictions from the Pritzker administration says the governor has too much power flipping the COVID-19 restriction switch. […]

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office on Tuesday announced that starting Saturday, Region 1, which includes counties in the northwestern-most part of the state, will have added COVID-19 restrictions such as limits on restaurants and bars. Schools are not impacted by the new mitigations. That’s similar to measures still in place for Region 4 and what was put in place but repealed weeks later in Region 7. […]

“The state with this new power, they can shut any community down anytime they want just by adjusting the positivity rate,” Syverson said. “It makes no sense. These are bureaucrats making bureaucratic decisions.”

And Tom Skilling controls the weather. Right.

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      


Question of the day

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2020

* Tribune

The Democratic chairman of the Illinois House special committee investigating Speaker Michael Madigan’s conduct in connection with an alleged Commonwealth Edison bribery scheme blocked an effort by Republicans to legally compel the powerful Democrat and others to testify.

State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch of Hillside ruled Tuesday that a motion by Republicans to subpoena witnesses was out of order, and didn’t allow a vote. The move comes after Madigan and several other potential witnesses declined invitations to appear voluntarily.

* The Question: Should Madigan and other witnesses be subpoenaed by the committee? Make sure to explain yourself. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


New ads in Rodney Davis district

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2020

* NRCC…

Hi!

Betsy Dirksen Lobbyist, who has taken thousands from Mike Madigan’s cronies under federal investigation, keeps a tight circle of other fellow lobbyists, including her corporate lobbyist husband.

And now they’re funding her campaign.

Lobbyist family, lobbyist friends, lobbyist money – that’s Besty Dirksen Lobbyist.

* Rod Blagojevich makes an appearance as well

Script…

Betsy Dirksen Londrigan sure knows a lot of lobbyists. Betsy was a lobbyist and political fundraiser tied to corrupt politicians. Betsy’s husband, another lobbyist. He worked as a top aide to Rod Blagojevich. Yikes, that’s his campaign is bankrolled by her lobbyist friends. She’s taken thousands from lobbyists under federal investigation for corruption and a rape coverup. Lobbyist, family, lobbyist, friends, lobbyist money. That’s Betsy Dirksen Londrigan. The NRCC is responsible for the content of this average.

I really do not like this trend of dragging family members into campaigns.

* As an aside, the GOP can’t figure out if Rod is a bad guy or a good guy…

* Back to the ads. Press release…

Today, Rodney Davis’ campaign for Congress released a new ad titled “Pam,” which highlights Betsy Londrigan’s support for a government-run insurance plan that could force the closure of over half of America’s rural hospital, including 39 in Illinois. The ad also highlights Rodney’s record of strengthening rural hospitals and protecting coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Ad

Script…

Pam: As a nurse, I want the best care for my patients. That’s why I won’t vote for Betsy Londrigan.

Londrigan supports a government-run health insurance plan that could force rural hospitals to close and take away your choice of doctors. Betsy Londrigan’s liberal plans would jeopardize your family’s care.

Rodney Davis is fighting to strengthen rural hospitals and protect those with pre-existing conditions. Rodney Davis is on our side.

* Londrigan response…

Rodney Davis and his allies are currently airing misleading attacks against Betsy and her family in an attempt to distract voters from the fact that Rodney Davis’ own family received over one million dollars in PPP loans, which Davis repeatedly voted against disclosing to the public.

Davis voted against the TRUTH Act, which was intended to bring much-needed transparency and oversight of funds to the Paycheck Protection Program, as well as against the formation of a House committee to oversee coronavirus relief spending.

“Instead of explaining why he repeatedly voted to hide that his family took more than $1 million in PPP loans, Rodney Davis and his party bosses are airing misleading attacks against Betsy and her family,” said campaign spokeswoman Eliza Glezer. ”Davis’ allies are desperately trying to distract from his record of votes against transparency for the Paycheck Protection Program, but taxpayers in Central Illinois won’t fall for it.”

Um, that story broke in July.

* On to the DCCC…

When asked about the President only paying $750 in federal income taxes, Congressman Rodney Davis brushed aside any concerns that many working and middle-class families in Central Illinois pay more in taxes, saying that “those are things [he’s] happy to address in Washington.”

But Davis has had his chance to address that in Washington and instead he voted for his party’s massive tax handout to the wealthiest Americans and big corporations.

Davis’ vote was also considered “a major victory for pharma manufacturers” and gave a tax break to the top five pharmaceutical companies to the tune of $42.7 billion – the same industries that bankroll Davis’ campaign.

“Either Rodney Davis is on the side of working families in Central Illinois or he’s with the wealthiest few that bankroll his campaign. Judging by his votes in Washington, we know where his loyalties lie. For Congressman Davis to claim otherwise is a bad joke and nobody’s laughing,” said DCCC Spokesperson Courtney Rice.

Video…


Speaker Pelosi’s Super PAC has a new ad attacking Davis, but I couldn’t find it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      


Pritzker says he “strongly” believes Madigan should testify to House Special Investigating Committee

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2020

* From Gov. Pritzker’s press conference today

Q: Should Speaker Madigan testify before the House Special Investigating Committee? Why or why not?

A: Well, let me just say this, that I think it’s incumbent upon all of us as elected leaders, as people who represent the people of Illinois, to work to restore public trust in government at every level.

I think it’s an important opportunity that this committee in the House receive testimony, and it’s an opportunity to get answers that I think the public deserves to get. You’ve heard me talk about that in the past. And I really, I strongly believe that the speaker should take any opportunity, and this is one, to present answers to the questions that I think you know, all of us have.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


2,273 new cases, 35 additional deaths, 1,632 in hospitals, 3.6 percent positivity rate, IDPH issues Halloween guidance

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2020

* Press release…

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today reported 2,273 new confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 35 additional confirmed deaths.

    Bureau County: 1 female 80s
    Carroll County: 1 male 70s
    Champaign County: 1 female 80s
    Cook County: 1 male 60s, 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s, 1 female 100+
    DeKalb County: 1 male 90s
    DuPage County: 1 female 80s
    Effingham County: 1 female 70s
    Fayette County: 1 female 70s, 2 females 80
    Greene County: 2 females 70s
    Grundy County: 1 male 80s
    Jackson County: 1 female 60s
    Jersey County: 2 female 90s
    Lake County: 1 male 70s
    Lawrence County: 1 male 70s
    Macon County: 1 female 80s
    Madison County: 2 males 80s
    Peoria County: 1 male 80s
    St. Clair County: 1 female 70s, 1 male 70s
    Tazewell County: 1 male 70s, 1 female 80s
    Will County: 1 female 70s, 2 males 70s
    Williamson County: 1 female 60s, 1 female 70s
    Woodford County: 1 male 80s

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 293,274 cases, including 8,672 deaths, in 102 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from September 23 – September 29 is 3.6%. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 58,546 specimens for a total of 5,624,822. As of last night, 1,632 people in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 378 patients were in the ICU and 152 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

IDPH has been closely monitoring the Region 6 data. As has been noted, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) is performing repeated saliva testing for staff and students. This is resulting in a tremendous number of tests, which can average up to 20% of all tests done in the state during some weeks. Because of this high volume, the positivity rate for Region 6 could be overshadowed by what is happening at UIUC. Therefore, in addition to providing data for Region 6, IDPH is now presenting data for Region 6 without Champaign County. However, Champaign County will still be required to implement mitigation efforts if regional metrics are tripped in Region 6.

In doing this, IDPH has found that Region 6, with Champaign County included, is seeing a 2.0% 7-day rolling test positivity average. Without Champaign County, Region 6 is seeing a 7.2%, which puts the region at risk for needing to implement additional mitigation measures, including no indoor bar service or dinning at restaurants, and limiting the size of event gatherings. IDPH is encouraging local leaders and communities in Region 6 to begin taking action now to reduce the test positivity rate, which includes making sure people are wearing masks in public, maintaining social distance, and not gathering in large groups.

Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, IDPH is now reporting separately both confirmed and probable cases and deaths on its website. Reporting probable cases will help show the potential burden of COVID-19 illness and efficacy of population-based non-pharmaceutical interventions. IDPH will update these data once a week.

*All data are provisional and will change. In order to rapidly report COVID-19 information to the public, data are being reported in real-time. Information is constantly being entered into an electronic system and the number of cases and deaths can change as additional information is gathered. For health questions about COVID-19, call the hotline at 1-800-889-3931 or email dph.sick@illinois.gov.

* Press release…

As we head into the holiday season, starting with Halloween, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is issuing guidance to help people celebrate safely as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. Guidelines include following the 3 W’s – Wash your hands. Watch your distance. Wear your mask.

“One of the hallmarks of holidays and celebrations is gathering with friends, family and loved ones,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “We are still in a pandemic, and unfortunately, this year, that means the safest way to celebrate is to stay home and plan virtual gatherings. That said, IDPH recognizes that some who will choose to gather together anyway, and instead of denying that reality, we are issuing guidance and recommendations for safer ways to celebrate together in person. Remember, we know what our best tools are: wearing our masks, keeping our distance, limiting event sizes, washing your hands, and looking out for public health and each other.”

If you think you could have COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, do not participate in any in-person Halloween activities.
Trick-or-treating

    - Anyone participating in trick-or-treating, including those passing out candy, should maintain 6-feet of social distance and wear proper face coverings.
    - Consider leaving individually wrapped candy (spaced apart) on a table in driveways or in front of walkways, sidewalks, or any outdoor space where 6-feet of distance can be maintained.
    - A Halloween costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask. Ensure that breathing is not impaired if a cloth mask is worn under a costume mask. If so, discard the costume mask.
    - Trick-or-treat in groups with household members only.
    - Candy collected during trick-or-treating should not be eaten until after handwashing.

An alternative to traditional trick-or-treating is to set up in a large parking lot or other outdoor setting with tables with individually wrapped candy (spaced apart) where participants with a parent/guardian can parade past while still keeping 6-feet of distance and wearing a face covering. It’s suggested to offer reserved time slots to limit everyone showing up at once.
Haunted Houses

    - Halloween haunted houses currently are not allowed in Restore Illinois Phase 4 Guidelines.
    - Consider open-air, one-way haunted forests or haunted walks where 6-feet of distance can be maintained and face coverings are used.

Adult costume parties, social gatherings, Halloween parties at bars

    - Gatherings of more than 50 people or 50% or more of a building’s maximum occupancy are prohibited. (Lower limits may apply for regions in additional mitigation.)
    - The more time you spend at a gathering, the closer the contact, the more people, the higher your risk of exposure to COVID-19.
    - Follow small social gathering safety tips from IDPH.
    Pumpkin patches and orchards
    - Cloth face coverings and social distancing should be enforced.
    - Use hand sanitizer before handling pumpkins, apples, and other produce.
    Hayrides
    - Hayrides should not exceed 50% capacity with parties spaced at least six feet apart.
    - Wear face coverings at all times when around people not from your household.

After participating in any of the above activities, if you think that you may have been exposed during your celebration, take extra precautions for 14 days after the event to help protect others. You should:

    • Stay home as much as possible.
    • Avoid being around people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
    • Consider getting tested for COVID-19.

…Adding… The revelation that the state is not using UIUC data has been brought up in comments. In addition to what was mentioned above, there’s also this

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s saliva-based COVID-19 test has never operated under emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, despite prior claims that it did, an FDA spokesperson tells Illinois Newsroom. […]

But in response to questions from Illinois Newsroom about the EUA status of U of I’s saliva test, an FDA spokesperson said in an email: “The University of Illinois is not authorized under an umbrella EUA, and they have not had an EUA.”

In an emailed statement, Robin Kaler, a spokesperson for the U of I’s Urbana campus, says faculty and staff relied on an Aug. 5 email from the FDA stating that the campus could perform a “bridging study” — comparing the efficacy of its own saliva test to one that has been authorized by the FDA.

Kaler says the university compared its saliva test to one created at Yale University, which received emergency use authorization from the FDA on Aug. 15. After the bridging study was completed, the university’s regulatory and compliance consultant advised faculty and administrators that they could claim that the university’s COVID-19 test was operating under the umbrella of the test created by Yale University.

Kaler says the FDA reached out to the U of I via phone this month and asked the university to discontinue using the terms “bridging study” and “umbrella.” At that point, the university updated its language to remove references to its test operating under the umbrella of an FDA EUA test.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


Money becoming a factor in Kilbride retention

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2020

* Greg Hinz writes about the Supreme Court Justice Tom Kilbride retention race

Now, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce has called a press conference for tomorrow to urge a “no” vote. In a preview phone call, chamber CEO Todd Maisch said Kilbride “has been a consistent supporter of organized labor and trial lawyers,” to the detriment of the state’s economy. “The state would have been much better served to have a more even-handed justice.” […]

Maisch said he wouldn’t “tip my hand” and indicate whether the chamber will open its wallet in the race. But in the last few days, several other big donors have, contributing heavily to a group urging a “no” vote run by former downstate GOP Rep. Jim Nowlan.

The biggest donor is Wisconsin businessman Dick Uihlein, a frequent giver to conservative causes and candidates, who gave $250,000. Just behind him is the Judicial Fairness Project, a dark-money group that does not disclose its own donors and gave $200,000 to Nowlan’s group, Citizens for Judicial Fairness.

The Chamber doesn’t currently have much of a wallet to open. Its PAC reported having $9,560.52 on hand at the end of June. Since then, it’s reported raising about $7500.

But Nowlan’s PAC has raised about half a million dollars so far, half of which came from Dick Uihlein.

Justice Kilbride’s committee has reported about three times that amount so far, $1.496 million. But the opponents don’t have to “win.” They just have to keep him from reaching 60 percent.

* More on Kilbride’s money

Tom Keefe’s firm in Swansea and John Simmons’s firm in Alton each contributed $100,000 to retention of Supreme Court Justice Tom Kilbride after he removed the limit on his contributors.

The Gori firm of Edwardsville added $82,500 to a stream of contributions that topped $1 million in a week.

Less than one percent of it came from the Third District where Kilbride and his voters live.

* And a bit of oppo from the ILGOP…

• Kilbride was the only justice to support allowing a man to sue an ambulance driver that he hit. A six-justice majority ruled that a hospital was not liable under the Local Governmental And Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act and set aside the jury verdict, but Kilbride was the only justice to agree with the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA) – which had submitted an amicus brief – that a man should be allowed to sue after he was injured when he hit an ambulance responding to an emergency call. (Opinion, Harris v. Thompson, Illinois Supreme Court, Docket #112525, 6/21/12)
• Kilbride was the only justice to argue a Mississippi man who was injured in Mississippi and never worked in Illinois should be allowed to sue in Illinois. A six-justice majority ruled that St. Clair County was not an appropriate venue for an asbestos exposure case where the plaintiff lived in Mississippi, had worked in Mississippi, and had never been to Illinois beyond one month of engineering school in Homewood. Kilbride was the only justice to agree with an amicus brief filed by the ITLA that the plaintiff’s choice of forum should be given deference. (Opinion, Fennell v. Illinois Central R.R. Co., Illinois Supreme Court, Docket #113812, 12/28/12)
• Kilbride was the only justice to support giving workers compensation to a man who was injured on his own time driving to work. A six-justice majority ruled that a plumber who had taken a job 200 miles from his permanent residence was not entitled to workers compensation for injuries he sustained while commuting to work. Kilbride was the only justice to agree with an amicus brief by the ITLA that the plumber should be considered a traveling employee even though the employer did not direct his travel in any way or reimburse him for travel expenses. (Opinion, The Venture—Newberg-Perini, Stone & Webster v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Comm’n, Illinois Supreme Court, Docket #115728 12/19/13)
• Kilbride was the only justice to agree that CSX railroad could be sued after a child trespassed on CSX’s railyard and injured himself while trying to jump onto a moving train. The Court initially unanimously ruled that a moving train was indeed an obvious danger and thus the railroads did not owe the plaintiff a duty of reasonable care, but Kilbride later changed his mind and said the railroad owed a duty of reasonable care to the child. (Opinion, Choate v. Indiana Harbor Belt R.R. Co., Illinois Supreme Court, Docket #112948, 11/26/12)
• Kilbride was the only justice to support allowing a personal injury suit against a dead man to proceed, despite the plaintiff failing to notify the decedent’s estate of her lawsuit and instead having her lawyer’s secretary appointed as a “special representative” for the estate. A six-justice majority ruled the lawsuit was time-barred because it was filed after the statute of limitations period, but Kilbride was the only justice to agree with an amicus brief by the ITLA that the plaintiff should be permitted to continue her lawsuit. (Opinion, Relf v. Shatayeva, Illinois Supreme Court, Docket #114925, 10/18/13)

* From the Kilbride campaign…

Republican law enforcement officials, judges and legal professionals warned against the influence of a shadowy dark money group that has funneled more than a half of million dollars into the state in an attempt to influence the retention campaign of Illinois Supreme Court Justice Tom Kilbride.

Republicans including past Chief Judge Steve Kouri and former Kankakee State’s Attorney and retired Chief Judge Michael Kick joined prominent Peoria attorney Tim Bertschy, a past president of the Illinois State Bar Association, to decry the influx of out-of-state money being spent on false attacks by special interest groups attempting to influence Illinois’ highest court. It should be noted that donors from Washington, D.C and the state of Georgia are contributing to the shadowy dark money group, which begs the questions who is really behind this organization and why?

“Tom Kilbride has participated in over 1,800 cases while on the Supreme Court. His partisan critics can only point to a few decisions they don’t like, and these are cases which the Court decided unanimously or where Justice Kilbride was only one vote in a majority decision. I have known Tom Kilbride for over thirty years. He is a man of unquestioned integrity and honesty, both personally and professionally. He has a reputation for treating fairly all people and companies before him. He is non-partisan. He is independent. That is why even former Republican colleagues on the court support his re-election and why so many other people and organizations – of both political parties and independents – support him,” said Tim Bertschy, Peoria attorney and past president of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA).

“All Illinoisans should be deeply concerned about anonymous special interests attacking Justice Tom Kilbride and an independent judiciary. As a judge, who was elected as a Republican, I reject in the strongest possible terms unfair attacks financed anonymously against Justice Kilbride and ask voters to send a message that our courts are not for sale. Vote YES to retain Justice Tom Kilbride,” said past Chief Judge Steve Kouri, 10th Judicial Circuit.

“As a former Kankakee County state’s attorney and judge, I’ve seen all aspects of our court system and have the highest confidence in Justice Tom Kilbride to fairly administer the law and treat everyone equally. The anonymous, big-money special interests that are distorting Justice Kilbride’s record and trying to mislead voters should be ashamed of themselves. Money can buy a lot of things, but it shouldn’t be used to buy our courts. Justice Tom Kilbride deserves a YES vote for retention on the Illinois Supreme Court,” said former Kankakee State’s Attorney and retired Chief Judge Michael Kick, 21st Judicial Circuit (representing Iroquois and Kankakee counties).

While dark money groups try and politicize the state’s highest court, the state’s top legal professional organization, three U.S. Attorneys, two former Chief Justices of the Illinois Supreme Court, a former Illinois Attorney General and more than two dozen law enforcement officials thought the 3rd Appellate District are supporting Kilbride. Additional endorsements can be found at www.kilbride2020.com.

* Nexstar

Former Congressman Ray LaHood said the [anti-Kilbride] committee will shine a light on the impacts on Central Illinois communities.

“His decisions regarding pensions have made it very difficult for communities like Peoria to meet their pension liabilities. His decision about pensions have now rendered every city in Illinois bankrupt because we can’t meet the pension liabilities,” said LaHood.

Kilbride responded Monday saying, “Ray LaHood, who enjoys a reported $125,000 annual tax-payer funded pension, has his facts wrong. The court’s 2015 pension decision was authored by a justice elected as a republican and was unanimous.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


A brief look at some legislative races

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2020

* The Tribune took a quick look around

After winning a slew of suburban state legislative seats long held by Republicans in 2018, Illinois Democrats are looking to expand their reach even further in November as renewed controversy swirls around their powerful leader, longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Republicans for years have built their campaign strategy around vilifying Madigan, who has been speaker for all but two years since 1983, but it hasn’t paid off in a big way at the ballot box. This year, however, the GOP hopes its anti-Madigan message will resonate in a new way after federal prosecutors in July alleged that Commonwealth Edison engaged in a “yearslong bribery scheme” designed to curry favor with the speaker.

But Madigan, who has not been charged and has denied wrongdoing, is only on the ballot in his Southwest Side district, and Democrats are hoping to capitalize on a changing suburban electorate’s dissatisfaction with the name at the top of the Republican ticket: President Donald Trump. […]

“Voters across the state, and suburban voters in particular, are responding to the intersection of the pandemic, the economy and access to affordable health care,” [Senate President Don Harmon] said. “That’s been our message across the state. It’s resonating, especially in the suburbs.”

A snarky parlor game being played by some these days is guessing which number will be higher after the election: Membership in the Senate Republican caucus (currently at 19 with one on the bubble) or Madigan’s excess majority (currently at 14).

* Some of the spending has been horribly lopsided

* But at least one district is so pro-Trump that money may be a lesser factor than elsewhere

If you don’t subscribe to Scott Kennedy’s Illinois Election Data, you need to change that. Click here.

* Both parties are airing brutal ads. Here’s one from a week ago

Script…

They’re called the Eastern Bloc, a group of ultra-right-wing extremists. And Seth Lewis is their newest recruit. Their agenda? Dismantle Planned Parenthood and block women’s health care, strip away a woman’s right to choose even in cases of rape and incest. The Bloc are for unlimited gun access and against vaccinations for school children. And they’ve removed life-saving COVID protections for essential workers and seniors. Seth Lewis’ agenda? Radical, bizarre, dangerous.

* From the Daily Herald’s endorsement of Lewis, who is running against Democratic freshman Rep. Diane Pappas

He’s a moderate and personable Republican and strikes us as a fundamentally decent person.

You wouldn’t know it by the ads.

* And as I told subscribers this morning, some new oppo was released in the Metro East yesterday

As focus of a local celebrity roast more than three years ago, Monica Bristow downed six shots of Fireball whiskey while listening to several roasters, one of whom said she “drinks all the time.” […]

However, one of the most controversial statements made by Bristow during the Jan. 19, 2017 roast, held as a fund-raiser for Pride, Inc. at Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey, was a joke she told about a retired teacher whose remains were found inside a vehicle in the Mississippi River in 2005, three years after her disappearance. […]

“About Miss Bricker. I was Miss Bricker’s favorite student…Miss Bricker was the one who met her end going into the river,” Bristow said at the roast. ”I shouldn’t do this but I’m gonna because I’ve had Fireball. She had no children so they’re not here.”

Bristow joked that Bricker was identified by lipstick on her teeth.

“I know it’s in poor taste,” Bristow said, “but I love that joke. God, I love that joke.”

Oy.

But will the HGOPs have enough cash to make sure people hear about it?

That district is in the St. Louis media market, and those TV ads ain’t cheap.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


Drug sentencing reform is topic of Senate hearing

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2020

* Center Square

A joint hearing of the Senate Criminal Law and Public Safety Committees on Tuesday took up the subject of drug sentencing reform.

The meeting was a subject-matter only hearing, meaning it was for informational purposes and no legislative remedies were proposed or voted upon.

Ben Ruddell, criminal justice policy director with the American Civil Liberties Union, called for the reduction of penalties for all drug offenses.

“Our recommendation is reforms for all drug offenses to take them down by at least one class, including reducing simple possession from a felony to a misdemeanor,” Ruddell said.

* Capitol News Illinois

“While Black Illinoisans make up 14.5 percent of the state’s population, they make up 54.8 of those in prison and are imprisoned at 8.8 times the rate of whites, one of the worst disparities of any state,” [Ben Ruddell, director of criminal justice policy for the Illinois ACLU] said.

Isolated to drug crimes, the disparities are larger. Between 2016 and 2018, Black Illinoisans made up 69 percent of drug offenders admitted to the Illinois Department of Corrections, and 59 percent of strictly cannabis offenders.

Ruddell suggested three reforms to combat these disparities: reduction of all drug crimes by one class; reclassification of felony possession to a misdemeanor; and elimination of mandatory minimums and sentence enhancements. Lawmakers discussed the third point in a previous joint hearing. […]

[Wendell Robinson from Restore Justice Illinois] cited a Justice Policy Institute study of 200 elderly prisoners in Maryland who were jailed as juveniles and released as result of a ruling by the Maryland Supreme Court. The median age of the individuals was 64 and they had served 34 years on average. Over a 6-year period upon release, the group had a 3 percent recidivism rate. That was far lower than the national average of 43 percent of those released from prison being incarcerated again, according to a 2011 Pew research study.

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      


House Special Investigating Committee coverage roundup

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2020

* Center Square

An Exelon official testified before a legislative committee on Tuesday that the utility entered a deferred prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors as a result of a nearly ten-year-long bribery scheme intended to influence House Speaker Michael Madigan, but said the utility didn’t know if Madigan was aware of the effort.

In the first substantive testimony before the House Special Investigating Committee regarding the ComEd bribery scandal that federal prosecutors revealed this summer, committee chairman state Rep. Chris Welch, D-Hillside, asked utility executive David Glockner a direct question.

“There’s nothing anywhere in the deferred prosecution agreement that establishes personal knowledge by Speaker Madigan, correct?” Welch asked.

“I would agree with that,” said Glockner, executive vice president of compliance and audit for Exelon, the parent company of ComEd.

State Rep. Deanne Mazzochi, R-Elmhurst, went a bit further.

“Is it fair to say that Commonwealth Edison paid over $1.3 million at least in part to influence Michael Madigan’s actions as speaker of the house?” Mazzochi asked.

“Yes,” Glockner said.

* Capitol News Illinois

Mazzochi asked Glockner about a section in the DPA that stated that “Consultant 1,” identified as former City Club of Chicago President Jay Doherty, “had ‘every reason to believe’ that Individual A had spoken to Public Official A about the retention of Public Official A’s associates.”

“Is it reasonable to infer that Mr. Madigan had knowledge of the scheme from that, from ComEd’s perspective?” Mazzochi asked.

Glockner said he wasn’t in a position to comment on that inquiry.

“ComEd has acknowledged repeatedly through the agreement that it believed or intended to influence the speaker through its conduct. Whether it in fact … influenced the speaker, whether the speaker was aware of its intent to influence – those are questions that I’m not in a position to comment on,” Glockner said.

* Tribune

Glockner hewed closely to the deferred prosecution agreement ComEd entered into in July with federal prosecutors, but avoided comment on whether the utility’s efforts had the intended effect on Madigan.

“ComEd acknowledges repeatedly through the agreement that it believed or it intended to influence the speaker through its conduct,” Glockner told the six-member special investigating committee. “Whether it, in fact, influenced the speaker, whether the speaker was aware of its intent to influence, those are questions I don’t think I’m in a position to comment on.” […]

In an opening statement, Durkin said that if Democrats set partisan interests aside, they would see there was sufficient evidence to support a charge that would send Madigan before a disciplinary committee.

“In order to discredit ComEd’s admissions, you would have to believe that Michael Madigan didn’t know what was going on around him,” Durkin said. “You know Michael Madigan. He’s not ignorant of what’s going on around him. He is not naive. And he is not easily surprised.”

* Finke

Once Durkin was finished, Welch thanked him and said he looks forward to Durkin returning in the future and testifying under oath. Welch has suggested Durkin be called as a witness because he helped pass legislation that was beneficial to Commonwealth Edison. The legislation is mentioned in the deferred prosecution agreement.

* Sun-Times

State House Speaker Mike Madigan’s former hand-picked alderman was named Tuesday as one of the powerful Southwest Side Democrat’s associates who was on ComEd’s payroll despite doing little or no work.

Testifying before the Illinois House committee investigating Madigan, David Glockner, ComEd’s executive vice president of compliance and audit, identified Frank Olivo as one of the people who received some of the $1.3 million that the utility paid to Madigan’s associates in what amounted to a ghost-payrolling scheme at a time when ComEd was seeking the speaker’s support for legislation.

Glockner declined to confirm whether the Frank Olivo he identified as Associate No. 2 in the utility company’s deferred prosecution agreement was the former 13th Ward alderman.

But a federal subpoena issued to Madigan’s office named Olivo as well — and tied him to Madigan’s 13th Ward.

* WTTW

Democrats also questioned Glockner about whether ComEd hired lobbyists who were close to legislative leaders other than Madigan and whether Durkin had recommended any hires. The answer was yes.

The Democratic legislators on the committee also indicated they plan in the future to call Durkin as a witness, given his role negotiating the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), an item referenced in the DPA as beneficial to ComEd and which passed during the latter portion of the bribery scheme.

* WBEZ has a lot of details

Glockner, for the first time, publicly identified specific subcontracts ComEd had with Madigan allies for whom no work product could be identified, including Madigan operative Raymond Nice, former Chicago Ald. Michael Zalewski and Frank Olivo, though it was not clear whether he was referring to the ex-13th Ward alderman or his son of the same name. All were paid through the lobbying firm once owned by former ComEd lobbyist and City Club of Chicago head Jay Doherty, Glockner said. […]

In another new disclosure, Glockner identified that other no-work contracts to associates of Madigan were funneled through four Springfield lobbying firms owned by the speaker’s close friend, ComEd lobbyist Michael McClain; lobbyist Victor Reyes; former Madigan staffer Shaw Decremer; and ex-state Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion.

None of those individuals have been charged in connection with the federal investigation, and Glockner declined to give details about those particular arrangements. […]

And in one other new development, Glockner confirmed ComEd had received an email from a Madigan office assistant encouraging the company to place former McPier chief Juan Ochoa on ComEd’s board of directors. Ochoa was on the utility’s board from April 2019 until last April.

* And Mark Brown has seen enough

A trio of Illinois House Democrats dug in their heels, buried their heads firmly in the sand and did their best Tuesday to ignore a litany of damning evidence against House Speaker Michael Madigan.

This was not a surprise. The three were named to an Illinois House Special Investigative Committee looking into Madigan’s dealings with Commonwealth Edison specifically for purposes of defending him.

The real question is how long the rest of their Democratic colleagues will continue with the charade.

Madigan needs to go.

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Vote by mail applications top 2 million here

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2020

* Whew…


* From WBEZ

[Deleted]

Those DuPage numbers are bonkers.

*** UPDATE *** Email…

Rich,

The numbers in the graph would, as you state, be “bonkers” if they were accurate, but they are not. The state report WBEZ referenced in their article appears to have been overstating DuPage’s reported mail-in ballot requests by a factor of 2. As of our most recent numbers this afternoon, 27.3% of DuPage registered voters have requested a mail-in ballot, still a quite large number, but in line with the trends in other counties. WBEZ has updated their story, and I am told that the state will be correcting their report later today.

Please feel free to contact me with any additional questions.

Regards,

Adam Johnson

Chief Deputy Clerk

DuPage County Clerk

Have you requested a VBM ballot yet?

- Posted by Rich Miller   64 Comments      


Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago turns thumbs down on “Fair Tax”

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2020

* The group is actually upset that the proposed “Fair Tax” doesn’t raise enough money

A group of executives from the state’s leading employers on Tuesday came out against Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed graduated income tax referendum, saying approval of the measure on the November ballot “all but promises that Illinois will not address its long-term financial challenges.”

The Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago said in a statement that its opposition to the proposal is “based on the state’s decades-long history of fiscal mismanagement.”

“The result will be further loss of jobs and people, long-term cuts in critical social services, a shrinking tax base burdened with growing debt and a guarantee that Illinois will continue to have the worst credit rating of any state in the country,” the group said.

* Don’t believe me? From its policy statement

Proponents of the amendment seem to think that a graduated income tax will do the trick, and that the projected $3.6 billion in additional revenue is enough to address the State’s financial difficulties. It is not.

* Press release…

Vote Yes For Fairness Chairman Quentin Fulks released the following statement in response to the Civic Committee:

“It’s no surprise that an organization of the wealthiest people in our state who have benefited from avoiding paying their fair share for 50 years is voicing their opposition to the Fair Tax. Instead of standing up for working people, the Civic Committee has repeatedly advocated for increasing the flat tax by 20% and implementing a retirement tax because they prefer to put the tax burden on our lower and middle-income families and seniors.

“The choice facing Illinois voters is clear: Either vote yes for the Fair Tax to ask the wealthiest in the state to pay their fair share and give a tax cut to 97% of Illinoisans, or let the millionaires and billionaires have their way and make hardworking families pay.”

See the Civic Committee’s report, where they advocate for increasing the flat tax and implementing a retirement tax, here.

* Tribune

The Civic Committee in a 2019 report called for an $8 billion package of tax increases, budget cuts and more funding for Illinois’ massively underfunded public employee pension systems to stabilize the state’s finances. That report called for increasing the flat-rate tax by 20%, from the current rate of 4.95% to 5.95%, as well as imposing the income tax on retirement income.

Both issues have surfaced in the debate over the fate of the proposed amendment.

Pritzker has noted that a 20% hike in the flat tax is an option, along with 15% across the board spending cuts, if voters reject the proposed amendment. At the same time, opponents have contended the amendment would open the state’s income tax to retirement income though Illinois does not tax retirement income and nothing in the amendment changes that law.

* Crain’s

While the committee’s [2019] proposal did call for pension reform, it would do so by boosting state contributions rather than cutting benefits. It also proposed establishment of a new, cheaper health insurance program for state workers; rapid consolidation of local governments to save money; and a full review of state spending it believes could save $1 billion.

Committee President Kelly Welsh said the decision to urge a “no” vote was reached after extensive discussions among a 90-person group. The organization will not buy ads, Welsh said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   50 Comments      


Open thread

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2020

* Keep it local, please. Be polite to each other, please. If you want to debate last night’s debate, please find another venue. Thank you kindly.

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2020

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Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2020

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*** LIVE COVERAGE ***

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2020

* Follow along with ScribbleLive


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PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
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* Question of the day
* 10,526 new confirmed and probable cases; 148 additional deaths; 5,453 hospitalized; 1,153 in the ICU; 10.3 percent case positivity rate; 12.1 percent test positivity rate
* COVID-19 roundup
* SoS announces Driver Services facilities will remain closed for in-person service until January 4
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Illinois turnout hit 72.92 percent; Voting evenly split between early, mail and in-person
* *** UPDATED x1 *** 10.4 percent of all new unemployment claims were filed in Illinois last week
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Despite losing by 1.4 percentage points, Oberweis launches discovery recount
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