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Thursday, Feb 24, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Let’s be careful out there

Thursday, Feb 24, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Northbound I-55 near Lincoln not long ago…

Photo submitted by a reader.


Question of the day

Thursday, Feb 24, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* First, a bit of background

State Senator Tom Cullerton resigned from his seat in the Illinois Senate Wednesday.

According to his attorneys, the suburban Democrat, currently under federal indictment for extortion and embezzlement, plans to plead guilty in the case. […]

In 2019, Cullerton was charged with 39 counts of embezzlement from a labor union, one count of conspiracy and one count of making false statements.

The indictment stated Cullerton was hired as a union organizer, a full-time salaried position with benefits. The charges allege that Cullerton did little to no work for the next three years but was paid roughly $275,000 in salary and benefits.

The federal anti-featherbedding laws were basically designed to stop the Teamsters from doing just this. Every time he signed a time card, Cullerton was committing a felony. I like Tom and always have. But I don’t know what else to say except that he really screwed up.

* Also

Another member of one of Chicago’s storied political families, former Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson, was convicted in federal court just last week on charges he cheated on his taxes and lied to regulators. He is a grandson and nephew of Chicago’s two longest-serving mayors.

* A little bit of politics from the Richard Irvin campaign before we get to the meat of the post…

The culture of Mike Madigan corruption clouding Illinois government is alive and well under JB Pritzker as another lawmaker resigned this week after pleading guilty to corruption charges. This marks the fourth lawmaker to resign under a cloud of corruption since Pritzker took office.

Last week, a federal judge refused to drop charges against friends of former House Speaker Mike Madigan in an ongoing federal corruption investigation. Pritzker, of course, said Illinois should be grateful for Madigan and gave a massive bailout to the company implicated in the federal probe.

Yesterday, State Senator Tom Cullerton abruptly resigned and announced an intended guilty plea on 39 federal embezzlement charges. But despite a two-year investigation into Cullerton, Pritzker remained silent on this cloud of corruption - refusing to call on Cullerton to resign his seat and never taking action to clean up Springfield. Cullerton’s resignation follows other Democratic lawmakers resigning in disgrace during Pritzker’s tenure, including former State Rep. Luis Arroyo, State Sen. Terry Link, and the late former State Sen. Martin Sandoval.

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin has vowed to fight corruption and clean up Springfield. Irvin believes change needs to start at the top with a new governor who isn’t part of Mike Madigan’s corruption web.

* Natalie Edelstein at the Pritzker campaign responded when I asked…

The governor believes that those who violate the public trust must be held accountable. Full stop. That’s why he passed meaningful ethics reform legislation which restricts government officials from lobbying activities, tightens regulations on registered lobbyists and consultants, and expands economic interest disclosures. There is more work to be done to fully restore Illinoisans’ faith in their government––but that work certainly wouldn’t happen under Richard Irvin. Irvin’s aggressive 180s on everything from COVID-19 mitigations to his support for Black Lives Matter underscores how little conviction he really has.

* OK, we have (finally) arrived at the policy point in this discussion. Rep. Curtis Tarver (D-Chicago) called today to tell me about a bill of his that is currently going nowhere even though he believes it’s particularly timely in the wake of the past week’s conviction and resignation/guilty plea, among other things.

* Here’s what state law says about legislative and statewide officeholders

A person convicted of a felony shall be ineligible to hold an office created by the Constitution of this State until the completion of his sentence.

So, when Tom Cullerton and Patrick Daley Thompson complete their sentences, they can run for the General Assembly or a statewide executive office.

* And here’s what state law says about people running for municipal office

A person is not eligible to take the oath of office for a municipal office if that person … has been convicted in any court located in the United States of any infamous crime, bribery, perjury, or other felony, unless such person is again restored to his or her rights of citizenship that may have been forfeited under Illinois law as a result of a conviction, which includes eligibility to hold elected municipal office, by the terms of a pardon for the offense, has received a restoration of rights by the Governor, or otherwise according to law. Any time after a judgment of conviction is rendered, a person convicted of an infamous crime, bribery, perjury, or other felony may petition the Governor for a restoration of rights.

“Infamous crime” is defined here.

So, Daley Thompson couldn’t run for city council ever again unless his rights were restored. And Cullerton couldn’t run for mayor of Villa Park unless he also convinced a governor to help him out.

Obviously, that’s quite a large gap.

* “No other state in the nation has such disparity between municipal and state law,” Rep. Tarver claimed. “Also, no other state differentiates solely based on the type of office as opposed to the type of crime.” For instance, Tarver said, if you’re convicted of bribery in California while in office you can’t ever hold public office again.

So, Tarver introduced HB5046, which would do two things.

1) After the “completion of his sentence” language for offices created by the Constitution, Tarver proposed this language

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a person convicted of a felony for an offense committed on or after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 102nd General Assembly and while he or she was serving as a public official in this State is ineligible to hold any local public office in this State or any office created by the Constitution of this State at any time after his or her conviction, unless that person is again restored to his or her rights of citizenship that may have been forfeited under Illinois law as a result of a conviction, which includes eligibility to hold office, by the terms of a pardon for the offense, has received a restoration of rights by the Governor, or otherwise according to law.

That language would make the prohibition uniform between state and local office and confine the banishment to convictions committed while the person was holding public office.

2) But - and this may be the reason the bill went nowhere - the legislation would delete all of the prior felony conviction language from the municipal code that I quoted above. I could see where people might get skittish, particularly in a year like this.

* Even so, it sure seems to me that the state has a strong interest in preventing somebody like former Rep. Luis Arroyo, who pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges, from ever running for any state or local office ever again. (And, before anyone mentions it, the state can’t control who runs for federal office, except for things like petition requirements, districts, etc.)

* The Question: Your thoughts on Rep. Tarver’s proposal?


Campaign notebook

Thursday, Feb 24, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Greg Hinz

Why did the Giannioulias bandwagon suddenly have a flat?

Part of the reason is Giannoulias himself. Already considered by some party pros as someone who’s a little too eager to move in and up, efforts by Team Giannoulias to spread the word that he was a sure victor you’d better get behind while you still can sparked more than a little blowback.

Only White knows for sure if that blowback affected his decision. After all, Valencia is a member of his 27th Ward Regular Democratic Organization. But nobody likes to be pushed.

Whatever the impact, there almost certainly is a bigger reason: Insider after insider tells me that other people on this year’s Democratic ticket, most definitely including Pritzker, are petrified at the thought that Republicans will seize on the collapse of the Giannoulias family’s Broadway Bank and use hedge fund mogul Ken Griffin’s wallet to tarnish the entire statewide Democratic slate with tales of tawdry taxpayer bailouts and the like.

* Relevant excerpt from a Senate Republican press release…

Noting the importance of a strong education system for the future of the state, the members of the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus are working to advance legislation that promotes greater transparency and accountability, and offers hope for struggling students.

The Senators’ legislative package aims to empower parents with new bills designed to allow them greater access to school curriculums and a voice in statewide educational decisions.

The first bill, Senate Bill 4180, adds five new positions to the Illinois State Board of Education. Currently, all members of the state board are appointed by the Governor, meaning the individual members aren’t held directly accountable to voters. Those members make far-reaching decisions on school curriculums, health and safety requirements, and how mandates affect schools.

The new legislation creates one board member per judicial district, elected by voters and thus directly accountable to families in local districts.

“The Illinois State Board of Education, whose members are hand-chosen by Governor Pritzker, sets rules and standards for all public schools. Unfortunately, this system minimizes the voices of families, doesn’t provide any sort of accountability to the public, and creates a situation where members are more beholden to the Governor than Illinois families. That’s not right,” said State Sen. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro). “Parents of our state deserve to have a voice in the education of their children. One of the ways we can begin to give them back their voice is to allow for the public to choose the individuals that are making crucial educational decisions on behalf of our children.”

This from the same caucus that voted lockstep against an elected Chicago school board.

* Amanda Vinicky at WTTW

An additional 111,000 voter registration applications have been processed at Illinois Secretary of State facilities annually thanks to a 2018 state automatic voter registration law, according to an analysis by Illinois PIRG.

“We believe that democracy works best when everyone is involved in it,” said the report’s author, PIRG Democracy and Civic Engagement Associate Keegan Hollyer. “Of course, given our system, that requires that people be registered to vote. Obviously, the report shows that automatic voter registration has boosted the number of people registered to vote.”

* Alexi Giannoulias campaign…

I’m excited to share my new campaign video for Secretary of State that addresses the frustration that many of us have experienced waiting in long lines at driver’s license facilities.

My new Skip the Line program will reduce wait times, increase efficiencies, curb redundancies and adhere to protocols and precautions to ensure the health and safety of customers who need to make in-person visits to renew their driver’s licenses or obtain other services. Check out our new campaign video below outlining Skip the Line!

The video is here.

* Media advisory…

Attorney Richard Boykin, who previously served on the Cook County Board of Commissioners (2014 - 2018), and served on Capitol Hill for 11 years, including time as Chief of Staff to Congressman Danny Davis, will be joined by several prominent supporters when he officially announces his run for President of the Cook County Board. Specifically joining Attorney Boykin will be his Campaign Chair, the legendary Coach Dorothy Gaters, the winningest high school basketball coach in Illinois history, and retired Cook County Sheriff Kenneth Jones who lost his 29-year-old son to gun violence.

* Pritzker campaign…

Today, U.S. Representative Jesús “Chuy” García joined Alderman Mike Rodriguez and supporters in Little Village to endorse Governor JB Pritzker and Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton for reelection.

“I proudly endorse Governor JB Pritzker in his bid to continue leading Illinois,” said Congressman García. “Under Governor JB Pritzker, Illinois emerged as a national leader in the fight against COVID-19 and also became the most welcoming state in the nation. He has been a champion for protecting and defending Latino and immigrant communities. Through his compassionate and effective leadership, he has forged partnerships across parties, regions, caucuses, and community stakeholders to secure resources for millions of families. We must continue on our path to serve the diverse people of Illinois while uplifting our state as a national model — and that is only possible with Governor JB Pritzker.”

Not quite sure why that was needed since Pritzker has no realistic primary opposition. Anyway, an online video ad is here.

* Related…

* GOP dominates ad spending in top five gubernatorial races—except Illinois: In Illinois, Democrats are ahead of Republicans—$5.8 million vs. $3.2 million in terms of ad spending across TV, radio and digital—the nation’s third-highest tally so far.

* Lightfoot announces process for replacing convicted Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson in 11th Ward


Racial And Health Disparities, Unsafe Care Of Nursing Home Residents To Continue Without Immediate Reforms

Thursday, Feb 24, 2022 - Posted by Advertising Department

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

AARP IL is fighting to ensure nursing home residents receive safe and high-quality care by emphasizing the urgent need for reform.
Nursing home residents and staff have experienced devastating conditions during the Covid-19 pandemic, and an unacceptable number have lost their lives to the disease.

This session, Illinois lawmakers have the opportunity to improve care and conditions for nursing home residents.

Join AARP Illinois as we urge lawmakers to make sure legislation under negotiation:

    • Prioritizes accountability, quality of care for residents, and workforce development in nursing homes.
    • Addresses racial inequities that contribute to health disparities among nursing home residents enrolled in Medicaid.
    • Ends the practice of overcrowding rooms with three and more residents.
    • Requires greater transparency of nursing home ownership and revenue.
    • Ties funding/rates/incentives to direct resident care and demonstrable and sustained nursing home quality outcomes and performance.
    • Ensures incentives result in improved outcomes for resident care and sustainable workforce development.

SENIORS DESERVE BETTER. Now more than ever, it’s time to hold Illinois nursing homes accountable for providing high-quality care and safe environments for our loved ones. Urge state lawmakers to vote YES on the HFS Compromise Nursing Home Rate Reform.

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Illinois pols react to Russian invasion of Ukraine

Thursday, Feb 24, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Gov. Pritzker’s great grandfather came to America from Ukraine in the 1920s, so he gets top billing…

* Durbin…

U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today released the following statement on Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine:

“Let me be clear: Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine’s sovereign land is a dire threat to the established international order and must be resolutely deterred. Ukraine and our NATO allies facing ongoing Russian belligerence have strong bipartisan, bicameral support in the U.S. Congress. As someone who has strong ties to the region, my prayers are with the Ukrainian people and all of Eastern Europe.”

* Duckworth…

Combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) who served 23 years in the Reserve Forces, issued the following statement after Russia escalated its invasion of Ukraine:

“The human suffering caused—and any blood spilled—as a result of this unjustified and unjustifiable attack on Ukraine’s sovereign territory are solely on Vladimir Putin’s hands. Our nation, our NATO allies and all countries who value human rights, sovereignty and the rule of law must hold him and his cronies fully, painfully and immediately accountable. Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked and inexcusable escalation of this violent invasion will succeed in only one thing: uniting the free world against Russia’s autocratic regime in support of Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty, its people and its right to self-governance.”

* LaHood…

Congressman Darin LaHood (IL-18), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement on Ukraine:

“I condemn Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked and unjustified attacks against Ukraine in the strongest possible terms. The world is witness again to the true evil of Putin, who alone has chosen a path of bloodshed in Ukraine. America and the free world must stand with Ukraine by enacting the strongest possible economic sanctions, crippling Russia’s ability to make war, and punishing Putin’s regime and his oligarchs on the international stage. My prayers will remain with the Ukrainian people.”

* Foster…

Today, Congressman Bill Foster (D-IL) issued the following statement after Russian military forces launched an invasion of Ukraine:

“The Russian military’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine is a destabilizing threat to Europe and the entire international order. The United States, our NATO allies, and our international partners must hold Putin accountable for this unprovoked attack on a sovereign nation and the senseless death and destruction it will cause.

“Although we have no treaty-level obligation to defend Ukraine, we have a special moral duty to assist Ukraine because of its decision to give up its nuclear weapons at the end of the Cold War, in return for international assurances of its territorial integrity.
“The people of Illinois stand on the side of democracy and with the people of Ukraine.”

* Krishnamoorthi…

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence issued the following statement after President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine:

“I join countless millions across the world in keeping the people of Ukraine in my prayers as Vladimir Putin has chosen to begin his unjustified, unprovoked, and premeditated invasion of Ukraine. Despite the efforts of Ukraine, the United States, and our European allies to prevent bloodshed through diplomacy, millions of lives now lie in the balance because of Russian military aggression.

In the face of Russia’s senseless and avoidable war, the United States must continue to stand with the people of Ukraine as they defend their homeland, their freedom, and their right of self-government from Vladimir Putin’s iron yoke. We must join with democracies across the world to dramatically expand sanctions on Russia to hold its leaders accountable for the needless destruction and suffering they will cause, while also coordinating with our NATO allies to stand firm in the face of any attack on our alliance.

While none of us can say for certain what will come next, Russia will gain no security from this needless war as democracies across the world once again stand shoulder to shoulder in the face of despotic militarism.”

* Quigley

“Tonight, Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine begins a war of choice entirely of President Putin’s making, despite months of intense diplomacy. The price that Ukrainians will pay for that choice is unfathomable.

“While the Kremlin’s disinformation apparatus is in full swing, I want to be clear that no one is responsible for this bloodshed other than Putin. As I have for months, I will continue to call for appropriate repercussions for Russia’s invasion, and if necessary, I will press the administration and our allies to take broader, harsher action.

“As these events unfold, my message to the Ukrainian people is simple: we stand with you.”

* Bost

Republican Rep. Mike Bost called on President Joe Biden to “impose crippling sanctions” on the Russian economy.

“Putin’s invasion of Ukraine must be met with decisive action from the U.S. and our global partners,” Bost said. “This isn’t the time for subtle nuance and split hairs.”

* Davis…

* Miller (no relation)…

…Adding… Miller press release…

Congresswoman Mary Miller (R-IL) released the following statement on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Americans miss the “Peace Through Strength” and energy independence that were achieved during the Trump Administration. President Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan and dismantling of US energy production have severely weakened our national security. Biden and the Democrats’ open border policies allowed more than 2,000 Russian nationals to cross our southern border, and our border is still open while Putin issues threats to our homeland. Gas prices are about to skyrocket even higher, and the American people will suffer because of the Green New Deal policies pushed by radical leftists in Congress. None of this would be happening if President Trump was still in the White House. I will continue to pray that God watches over the people of Ukraine.”

Trump wanted the US out of NATO. Withdrawal would’ve likely satisfied Russia, but caused all sorts of other problems.

* Durkin…

While Russian troops move into Ukraine, an act of war the likes of which has not been seen in Europe since 1939, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin will introduce legislation to send a message to the Ukrainian people that Illinois supports them and will not do business with these vicious warmongers.

“This morning, we woke up to shocking images crossing our TV screens. People in cities throughout Ukraine huddled in subways and shelters while explosions shake their cities as Russian soldiers begin an invasion of their homeland,” said Durkin. “Today, we must send a strong signal to these people that we stand with them and support their sovereignty – that the State of Illinois is prepared to do what we can to help.”

Durkin’s legislation would require Illinois to divest of any pension funds in Russian companies and prohibit the state’s treasury from holding any Russian assets.

“Too often partisanship dominates our efforts in the General Assembly, but this is an opportunity for us to stand up as a bipartisan body and do what is right to support the Ukrainian people in the face of unimaginable hardship. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get this done.”

* Demmer…

As Russia launches a large-scale military invasion of Ukraine, an act of war not seen on the European Continent in a generation, House Republican Deputy Leader Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) has introduced legislation to send a strong-message to the people of Ukraine that the State of Illinois supports them.

“In this dark and dangerous moment, it is crucial that we stand strongly and unequivocally with the people of Ukraine and offer every tool at our disposal to provide aid to refugees who flee from the invasion of their sovereign nation,” Demmer said. “As a nation founded by refugees, there is no American value more enduring or essential than welcoming refugees from war-torn places all across the world and helping them and their families resettle safely.”

Demmer’s legislation would include an additional $20 million in the Department of Human Services (DHS) budget for FY22 and FY23 to aid in the resettlement of Ukrainian refugees. Illinois’ refugee resettlement program, run by DHS, has resettled more than 123,644 refugees from more than 60 countries since 1975.

The Refugee Program provides community-based services, including counseling, orientation, and English classes in addition to vocational training, job readiness, and job placement assistance. Additionally, multi-lingual mental health services are available for refugees who have experienced severe trauma.

“I call on my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to come together quickly on a bipartisan basis to pass my legislation into law so that the State of Illinois is prepared to provide the necessary aid to Ukrainian refugees and their families during this tragic and anxious period in their lives,” Demmer added.

…Adding… Rush…

Today, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.), a member of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus, released the following statement on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine:

“Today is a dark, dark day. Under preposterous and false pretenses, Vladimir Putin has chosen to invade a sovereign democratic nation, a critical and strategic ally of the United States. My heart goes out to the people of Ukraine; I am praying for their safety. I am praying for Chicago’s Ukrainian community and for their loved ones in Europe who may be impacted by this war. Ukraine must know that the American people and the American government stand unequivocally with them during this time of crisis.

“I support the sanctions that President Biden, in close coordination with our allies, has already imposed. Should Russia continue to move down this dangerous path, I am confident that the U.S. and our allies will swiftly impose increasingly severe consequences that will cripple Russia’s economy and strategic interests. I stand ready to work with my colleagues in Congress to do what is necessary to make clear that Ukraine is not alone in its fight to retain its sovereignty and that our nation and its leaders stand firmly and unmistakably on the side of democracy.”

…Adding… Irvin…

* Sullivan…

* Schneider…

Today, Congressman Brad Schneider (IL-10), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement:

“America and the world stand with the People of Ukraine.

“Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine is not just an unprovoked, illegal invasion of a sovereign country, but a blatant attack on the world order—an affront to every nation that respects international law and national self-determination. Putin is counting on the unity of the international community to fracture and wane in short order. We must ensure that his confidence is misplaced and that his intentions are thwarted.

“It is imperative for the US to resolutely lead with our allies in preserving the united response to Putin’s war. We must stand together to support the people of Ukraine and also work in unison to mitigate the impact Putin’s illegal aggression will have on the global economy. We will continue to assist Ukraine and the Ukrainian people with the resources necessary to defend their country and humanitarian assistance to feed and provide for their citizens.

“We see Vladimir Putin for what he is: a warmongering, dictatorial tyrant who seeks a permanent conflict with the West and restoration of Russian rule over the former Soviet empire. Additional sanctions must directly target Vladimir Putin, Russian elites, the Russian military and the country’s financial institutions. Our grievance is not with the Russian people, and it is unfortunate that they will be the ones to bear the greatest burden of the international response. Putin bears responsibility for their suffering every bit as much as he is responsible for the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine.

“Putin’s ambitions know no bounds. America, NATO, and our allies must be resolute in defense of democracy.”

* Speaker Welch…

* Rep. Kifowit…

United States Marine Corps Veteran and Chair of the IL House Veterans Affairs Committee, State Representative Stephanie Kifowit – Oswego (D) gave the following remarks at the beginning of session on the IL House Floor today after Ukraine is under Russian attack.

“I wish I could say it was a good morning, but it was not. I rise not only as the Chair of the IL House Veterans Affairs Committee, but also as a US Marine Corps Veteran who has served on active duty, and a mother of a currently serving US Navy sailor.

There is no question, there is no political divide, when evil rears its head and the world see the death and destruction that is yielded by an individual without a conscience or respect for human life. President Putin of Russia has acted in the most despicable manner, without merit, and without provocation, engaged in a military assault of an ally, a sovereign nation, the country of Ukraine.

Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe by area and has a population of over 43 million people. President Putin has destabilized peace in Europe, attacked a friendly country.

Missiles and bombs are raining down on an innocent population and this premeditated attack is underway by land, air and sea.

We must unite with our allies to demand an end to this aggression and to hold Putin accountable. I am truly in fear for our future due to the unpredictable and reckless nature of Putin and his regime.

Families today are still affected by the wars of our past, as many are sharing their histories on social media. We cannot let this situation continue as it affects all of us and will have a tremendous impact on the future of our entire country.

We need to hold all our men and women serving in our thoughts and prayers. We also need to reach out to our Veterans, who know all too well the realities of war, and especially our WWII Veterans who are still with us today.

* Comptroller Susana Mendoza…

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will have more impact on Illinois than just higher gas prices and lower 401Ks. Even those of us without friends and relatives in Ukraine will feel the chill on our collective Democratic freedoms as Russia’s dictator tries to push the world toward autocracy. Let us stand with Ukraine and with the protestors in Russia.


“I want them to be a little scared of me,” says “Maximum Mike” of state legislators

Thursday, Feb 24, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Beth Hunsdorfer scored and then conducted and then wrote up one heck of an interview with the new LIG

Michael McCuskey assumed his role of legislative inspector general this week, bringing 32 years of judicial experience to the position charged with investigating lawmaker misconduct.

“I want them to be a little scared of me,” McCuskey, in an interview, said of the lawmakers who appointed him on Feb. 17. […]

He’s known for handing down tough sentences for criminal defendants, earning him the nickname “Maximum Mike.” […]

He once appeared on a radio show and called the University of Illinois president and other administrators “gutless” for their handling of a student protest of an appearance of then-Gov. Bruce Rauner. […]

McCuskey drew national attention when he presided over the case of six students suspended for a brawl at a football game in Decatur. A civil rights lawsuit was filed by an organization headed by Rev. Jesse Jackson. McCuskey, who worked as a high school teacher and coach before he went to law school, upheld the students’ suspension.

You really gotta wonder what the Democratic caucuses are thinking about their votes right about now. /s


It’s just a bill

Thursday, Feb 24, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* NPR Illinois

Illinois senators have approved a plan to help survivors of Department of Children and Family Services caseworkers who die in the line of duty.

It would allow them to receive a State Employee Group Insurance death benefit, no matter how long the person worked for the agency. That’s similar to when a law enforcement officer is killed. Current law requires eight years of service for employees.

The proposal follows the death of Deidre Silas of Springfield, a caseworker killed while on a home visit in Thayer last month. The legislation would be retroactive to ensure Silas’ family receives health coverage.

Silas is survived by her husband, a five year old son and a two year old daughter.

* Press release…

On Wednesday, legislation co-sponsored by State Representative Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) to combat human trafficking in Illinois passed the House of Representatives. House Bill 4593 was introduced by Rep. Chris Bos (R-Lake Zurich) to prevent sexual predators from claiming they did not know the person they solicited for sex was underage or had an intellectual disability.

“I spoke with Rep. Bos about human trafficking in our state on my radio show, Policy Nuance, back in October,” said Rep. Batinick. “This is a serious issue affecting vulnerable populations and I am proud to co-sponsor this legislation to place responsibility on perpetrators, not victims, of sexual abuse.”

House Bill 4593 passed the House with bipartisan support and no opposition. According to Homeland Security, human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. According to the 2018 Illinois Human Trafficking Task Force Report, 970 children were trafficked since 2011 with the average trafficked child’s age being 13.89.

Rep. Batinick is a co-sponsor of additional human trafficking-related bills introduced by Rep. Bos. These include House Bill 4402 to create the Human Trafficking Order of Protection Act, House Bill 4407 to include sexual servitude of a minor in the definition of “sex offense”, and House Bill 4592 to increase the penalties for human traffickers and abusers who target children in particularly vulnerable settings.

If you or someone you know is being forced to engage in any activity and cannot leave, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or Text “HELP,” or “INFO” to 233733.

* Media advisory…

Illinois Engineering Leaders to Introduce Legislative Agenda to Prioritize the State’s Infrastructure

WHO: Kevin Artl, President and CEO of the American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois (ACEC Illinois)
Steve Donahue, President of Horner & Shifrin, Inc and Chair of the ACEC Illinois Board of Directors
Tanya Adams, Vice President of WSP USA and Secretary of the ACEC Illinois Board of Directors
P.J. Fitzpatrick, Principal of HR Green and Chair Elect of the ACEC Illinois Board of Directors
Linda Moen, President of EFK Moen and Treasurer of the ACEC Illinois Board of Directors

WHAT: As the country celebrates National Engineering Week, Illinois’ engineering industry leaders will unveil their 2022 ‘Prioritize Our Infrastructure’ legislative agenda aimed at ensuring Illinois’ physical infrastructure projects continue to be well-funded by the state and completed by the most qualified professionals in the industry.

WHEN: Thursday, February 24, 2022
10:00 a.m.

WHERE: Illinois State Capitol Blue Room (basement, room 010)
401 S. 2nd Street
Springfield, Illinois

* Press release…

A measure to make the capitol complex more accessible for visitors with disabilities clears an important hurdle thanks to State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago).

“The Capitol grounds belong to all of the people, ‘’ said Peters. “All people, regardless of their physical ability, should be able to freely move about the capitol and be able to navigate their way through our public spaces.”

Senate Bill 0180 requires the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate to each appoint an accessibility coordinator to work in consultation with the Architect of the Capitol to address accessibility needs for each chamber.

The measure also creates the General Assembly Accessibility Task Force, which will include members appointed by each legislative leader and a chair jointly appointed by the Speaker and the President. The appointees would include individuals who have a disability or advocates for people with disabilities. The task force shall examine issues concerning accessibility of the General Assembly to persons with a disability. The task force’s recommendations would be due by Dec. 31, 2023 and allow the task force to continue to stand until Jan. 1, 2025.

“I am pleased that we are one step closer to addressing a critical lack of inclusion in the very center of democracy in this state,” Peters said. “I hope that after the task force completes its recommendations, that we are able to make our capitol grounds more accessible to all.”

The measure passed the Senate on Wednesday.

* Media advisory…

Media Advisory: Senate Republicans to unveil legislative package to empower parents and grow opportunities for students

WHO: State Senator Neil Anderson
State Senator Jason Barickman
State Senator Terri Bryant
State Senator Jil Tracy

WHAT: Press Conference

WHEN: Thursday, February 24th, 10:30 a.m.

WHERE: Blue Room, Illinois State Capitol

* Press release…

In response to the current mental health professional workforce’s struggles to keep up with increasing demand, State Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview) is leading a measure aimed at growing the workforce in Illinois.

“For people who are bravely taking the first steps to seek mental health care, overbooked providers are major deterrents to receiving the care they need,” Senator Fine said. “I am committed to making mental and behavioral health care more accessible for those who need it, which includes addressing the shortage of mental health providers needed for the demand we are seeing in our communities.”

In Illinois, there are only 14 behavioral health care professionals for every 10,000 Illinois residents. Many people are forced to wait longer for essential treatment or forego health care entirely because of this gap. This can be detrimental to their mental and physical well-being.

To address these issues, Senate Bill 3617 focuses on expanding the current workforce. It will accelerate the process for out-of-state clinicians applying for licensure in Illinois, as well as streamlining requirements for social workers, professional counselors, and clinical psychologists with licenses that have been inactive for five years. Additionally, it includes initiatives to support diversity in the mental health field, establishes tax credits, and many more provisions, all of which will encourage more quality, accessible care to those seeking assistance.

“Mental health is just as important as physical health,” Senator Fine said. “This measure will address the gap between available providers and potential patients so that all who are seeking mental and behavioral health care face fewer barriers in receiving treatment.”

Senate Bill 3617 passed the Senate on Wednesday. It now goes to the House for further consideration.

…Adding… Senate Dems…

MEDIA ADVISORY: Senate Democrats to outline plan to address teacher shortage

SPRINGFIELD – Nearly 90% of school districts across the state have reported a teacher shortage problem, with even more believing the crisis will worsen in the years to come.

To tackle the school staffing crunch, members of the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus have outlined a tangible solution to the ongoing issue through a legislative package. They will expand upon their plan at a press conference Thursday.

What: Press conference on measures to address teacher shortage

When: Thursday, Feb. 24 at 12:30 p.m.

Where: Illinois State Capitol, Blue Room or virtually at

Who: Senators Christopher Belt, Cristina Pacione-Zayas, Meg Loughran Cappel, Patrick Joyce, Rob Martwick, Napoleon Harris, and Doris Turner. The Senators will also be joined by a local educator from Washington Middle School.

* House Dems…

House Democrats To Highlight Week’s Legislative Activity

What: Members of the House Democratic Caucus will highlight some of this week’s activity and give a brief look ahead
When: February 24, 11:30 a.m.
Who: Majority Leader Harris and other members of the Democratic Caucus
Where: Blue Room (Room 010)
Format: Remarks; brief moderated Q&A

…Adding… This bill never got a hearing, the committee passage deadline has expired and it’s currently sitting in Rules Committee for a month

If a new bill becomes law, Illinois workers who get tips will receive the state’s minimum wage in addition to their tip money.

State Rep. Camille Lilly, D-Chicago, has introduced House Bill 5139, which would allow servers and bartenders to receive the state’s minimum wage starting in 2025 in addition to their tips.

…Adding… Media advisory…

Many farm equipment manufacturers prevent Illinois farmers from accessing the software tools they need to fix their modern tractors. That forces farmers to turn to corporate-authorized dealers for many problems, which can lead to high repair bills and delays that can put their crops—and their livelihoods—at risk. While farmers have always relied on local dealerships for help, more and more those dealerships have been bought up by large chain networks, further reducing competition and exacerbating the problems farmers already face due to repair restrictions.

WHAT: The release of a new report, “Deere in the Headlights II,” which demonstrates how consolidated dealerships have become and how these large chains can reduce choice for Illinois farmers. We will reveal which tractor-maker’s dealerships are most consolidated and talk about how this trend impacts farmers’ livelihoods and how the Right to Repair could dramatically increase farmers’ repair choices.

WHO: Representative Michelle Mussman, author of the Digital Fair Repair Act (HB3061)
Willie Cade, Midwest Regional Director at
David J Lee, Associate at Illinois PIRG

WHEN: TODAY @ 10:00 AM to 10:30 AM CT

WHERE: Register for the Zoom webinar by clicking the link below or by copy and pasting it into your browser:

…Adding… Ana Soskic, Protect Our Pets Illinois…

“This morning an Illinois Senate Committee passed yet another anti-business, anti-family bill, SB 705, targeting dog dealers who are Illinois small business owners. This time it was based on a blatant mischaracterization by Sen. Linda Holmes (D-Aurora).

After I testified about how a recently enacted, HB 1711, supported by extreme animal rights groups, will crush my small woman-owned business, Furry Babies, and many other small businesses including veterinarians and vendors, Sen. Linda Holmes dismissed my concerns and told the committee SB 705 was merely clarifying language. That is not true.

SB 705 changes the definition of dog dealers, a valuable and lawful service, to prohibit their ability to sell dogs to the public. That’s not clarification, that’s putting people out of business.

SB 705 will continue the extreme agenda and ensure the shutdown of other businesses who sell dogs from breeders while failing to improve animal welfare standards and close puppy mills. The Illinois government is already shutting down reputable pet stores this week with HB1711 taking effect.

We’re disappointed, but not surprised, that Sen. Holmes’ mistruth carried the day. Illinois voters need to understand the extreme agenda being promoted on a daily basis in Springfield.

No one has worked harder to protect our pets than our coalition. We believe in cracking down on irresponsible breeders while ensuring Illinois families have the choice of adding animals to their families where I assure you they receive the loving care they deserve.

We are continuing our fight to pass improved legislation to make Illinois the safest state possible for our customers and their family pets.”

* Related…

* A look at what legislation is advancing in Springfield


Newman could lose bigtime contributions from scandal fallout

Thursday, Feb 24, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Background is here if you need it. Near the end of Rick Pearson’s very good story on the scandal that may be engulfing US Rep. Marie Newman

The ongoing ethics investigation has prompted a variety of groups, from organized labor to issue-based PACs, that were early endorsers of Newman to rethink their support, said two sources knowledgeable about her political operation who were not authorized to speak publicly about her campaign’s inner workings.

“Some people have talked to her and I know others are considering when and how to talk with her. I think it’s incumbent on the campaign at this point in time to show us their path to victory,” said one of the sources. “It’s not always saying, ‘Oh, we’re going to pull an endorsement.’ It just the level of support of what you’ll do from here.”

Both sources said the biggest effect of the probe is on “independent expenditure” contributions to Newman from outside groups, which cannot be coordinated with her campaign. […]

Newman received millions of dollars from [independent expenditure] efforts in her 2020 primary race, and that money was seen as a key element in her election to Congress.

…Adding… Greg Hinz

In a statement, the FEC confirmed that it has received a complaint against the campaign of Downers Grove Rep. Sean Casten, who’s battling to retain his job in the Democratic primary against Rep. Marie Newman of La Grange. The complaint alleges that Casten’s campaign committee in 2018 illegally colluded with a super PAC funded by his wealthy father in airing $130,000 worth of ads attacking a Casten primary rival then, Kelly Mazeski. […]

The complaint was filed by a former district resident, Kerri Barber. … Asked if the Newman campaign prompted the complaint, Barber replied, “not directly.”


Open thread

Thursday, Feb 24, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

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