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Campaign notebook

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Victory Geek, 512 voters called 8/25-28, automated (90%) and live calls (just 10%), MoE is ±4.3 percent

…Adding… 48 percent of the respondents for this poll were in Downstate and just 19 percent were in Cook County. In the last election, 36 percent of the votes cast for governor were from Downstate and 39 percent were cast in Cook County. So, that huge difference would tend to skew the poll even more Republican. Not good. At all.

Duckworth: 58%
Salvi: 35%
3rd party/Undecided 7%

Pritzker: 56%
Bailey: 38%
3rd/Undecided: 6%

Giannoulias: 55%
Brady: 37%
3rd/Undecided: 8%

Frerichs: 54%
Demmer: 33%
3rd/Undecided: 13%

Legislature Matchup
Democrat: 55%
Republican: 34%
3rd/Undecided: 11%

Not really sure about this pollster, but 18-23 point leads across the board and every Dem above 50 is pretty wild.

* Um, is Steve even a Republican these days?…


* ILGOP…

Former Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias just can’t seem to shake his past as he attempts his reboot. It’s been twelve years since Giannoulias left the public eye. As he continues his rehabilitation tour hoping voters will forget about his scandal-laden past, let’s recap his greatest hits.

First, there was his mismanagement of Illinois’ college loans savings programs, causing families to lose millions. According to NBC Chicago from January 6, 2010:

“Bright Start was supposed to be Alexi Giannoulias’ shining achievement. Instead, the beleaguered fund, which lost more than $150 million through risky Oppenheimer investments, is radiating trouble for the Illinois State Treasurer and his Senate campaign.”

Then, there were the loans to mobsters when he was a Senior Loan Officer of Broadway Bank. According to the Chicago Tribune from April 1, 2010:

“The family bank of Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias loaned a pair of Chicago crime figures about $20 million during a 14-month period when Giannoulias was a senior loan officer, according to a Tribune examination that provides new details about the bank’s relationship with the convicted felons. Broadway Bank had already lent millions to Michael Giorango when he and a new business partner, Demitri Stavropoulos, came to the bank in mid-2004. Although both men were preparing to serve federal prison terms, the bank embarked on a series of loans to them.”

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Broadway Bank was later seized by the feds. According to Reuters from April 23, 2010:

“Regulators on Friday seized a Chicago bank owned by the family of the Democratic nominee running for the Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama. Broadway Bank was among seven Illinois banks whose failure was announced on Friday. U.S. regulators have seized 15 banks in the past two weeks, as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp ratchets up efforts to clean up the banking industry.”

“Trouble seems to follow Alexi Giannoulias wherever he goes, and it never seems to be his fault if you ask him,” said Illinois Republican Party Chairman Don Tracy. “The Giannoulias family bank loaned money to mobsters when he was a Senior Loan Officer there, and Giannoulias as Treasurer lost millions in college savings loans. Putting Alexi Giannoulias in charge of the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office, where he’d be in charge of 4,000 state jobs, would be like putting an arsonist in charge of the fire department.”

* Press release…

This morning, Nikki Budzinski, candidate for Congress in Illinois’ 13th Congressional District, released her plans for middle class tax relief and to fight inflation. From ideas expanding the child tax credit to investing in union apprenticeship programs, Budzinskiis focused on attainable solutions that will bring down costs for working families.

Budzinski made the following statement: “There are some short-term solutions to inflation that Congress needs to act on today to provide immediate relief to working people. But ultimately, this is not a problem that occurred overnight.”

“Decades of Democrats and Republicans have contributed by allowing our jobs to be shipped overseas, exporting manufacturing from America to China, and allowing China to become the global economic leader that America used to be. In addition to short term measures, I will fight for long term, bipartisan solutions that will increase American manufacturing so we can start to make things at home again.”

    • Repeal the Trump tax cuts that benefit the super-rich over working people
    • Extend the child tax cut for working families
    • Cap the cost of life-saving drugs for everyone like insulin at $35
    • Invest in union apprenticeship programs to promote alternatives to a 4-year college degree and a path to a debt-free, high-paying trades career
    • Lower the price at the pump by implementing a year-round E-15 blend to provide sustained relief at the pump and support Illinois farmers
    • Enact a windfall profit tax on oil and gas companies to make sure oil companies aren’t profiting at our expense

* Same district…

Farmer trustees representing county Farm Bureaus in the 13th Congressional District will be endorsing Regan Deering for Congress with a three-stop tour in Champaign, Sangamon and Madison counties. Local leaders meeting as trustees for Illinois Farm Bureau ACTIVATOR® – the organization’s political action committee –endorsed Deering after interviewing both candidates in the race.

What: Three Stop Media Tour to announce Farm Bureau Endorsement of Regan Deering
Who: Candidate for the 13th Congressional District Regan Deering and farmer trustees
When: Tuesday, August 30, 2022

* Meanwhile

The Republican candidate running for Illinois U.S. House District 17 received a major endorsement on Monday, Aug. 29, ahead of a tour through rural parts of the state.

Esther Joy King, who is running against Democrat Eric Sorensen in the 2022 midterm elections, was endorsed by the Illinois Farm Bureau’s political committee ACTIVATOR.

The organization has a long history of supporting Republican candidates, and, this year, has also endorsed IL District 16 rep. candidate Darin LaHood and many other conservative bids for the Illinois state legislature.

“It’s truly an honor to be endorsed by the Farm Bureau activator,” said King. “I sat in a room being grilled by a lot of farmers, and for them to put their trust in me, it’s pretty extraordinary. It’s my goal and my ambition to be a champion for agriculture in Washington, D.C.”

…Adding… Press release…

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers(IAM) Districts and Locals in Illinois have raised $100,000 to support an Illinois constitutional guarantee of workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively. The Illinois Workers’ Rights Amendment would be one of four such guarantees enshrined in state constitutions, but Illinois Amendment 1 goes a step further than other states by also banning anti-union “right-to-work” laws.

The IAM is joining the Illinois AFL-CIO and legislative allies to promote the passage of the pro-worker ballot initiative, which will be on the ballot for Illinois voters on Nov. 8, 2022. To amend the state constitution, 60% of voters will need to vote “yes.”

The proposed amendment would add a new section to the Illinois Bill of Rights, guaranteeing workers the fundamental rights to organize and bargain collectively and to negotiate wages, hours and working conditions. It would also prohibit any law from being passed that interferes with, negates, or diminishes the right of employees to organize and bargain collectively over their wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment and workplace safety.The pro-worker efforts under Illinois Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker are in stark contrast to former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who failed in his effort to pass a statewide anti-union “right-to-work” law to weaken unions in 2015. At that time, Rauner declared that Illinois cities, counties, towns and villages could enact “right-to-work” laws. State courts threw that measure out.

“IAM members in Illinois, along with our allies in labor and state government, are leading the charge to make the state more worker-friendly,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Steve Galloway. “It’s our hope that other states will also make efforts to put workers’ rights at the forefront of their state constitutions.”

…Adding… Press release…

Illinois State Treasurer Candidate and State Representative Tom Demmer will join other Illinois legislators and candidates to discuss the harmful impact a retirement tax would have on Illinois families and why he is running against its champion Treasurer Mike Frerichs.

WHO:
Illinois State Treasurer Candidate and State Representative Tom Demmer (R-Dixon)
Illinois State Representative Amy Elik (R-Fosterburg)
Candidate for the Illinois Senate 56th District Erica Harriss

WHAT: Press conference and media availability to discuss Demmer’s prevention of the harmful effects of a retirement tax suggested by Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs.

WHEN: Wednesday, August 31, 2022, 2:30 pm

WHERE: Madison County Courthouse
157 N. Main Street
Edwardsville, IL 62025

* More…

* Pritzker calls Bailey a ‘liar’ without addressing farmers’ Grain Belt Express concerns: “If J.B. is comfortable walking into a room and lying to the faces of working people about this, how can he be trusted to tell the truth about anything? I’m focused on honest leadership that identifies problems, brings people to the table, and finds solutions to make Illinois safer and more affordable for everyone,” Bailey said.

* Who is this guy? Treasurer candidate hits the hustings: Demmer said that he’s been disappointed by Frerichs’ failure to be a more energetic financial watchdog. If elected, Demmer said he’ll embrace a “more active role in advocating for sound financial policy.” “I think (Frerichs) has taken a keep-your-head-down, don’t-ruffle-any-feathers approach,” Demmer said.

* Wheaton Democrat mounts challenge to GOP’s Amy Grant for 47th House seat

  38 Comments      


$100 million in gun violence prevention money announced, FOID reform bill introduced, Raoul prosecutes three for false FOID info

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release excerpt…

Today Governor JB Pritzker announced opportunities for organizations to apply for an additional $100 million in grants to fund gun violence prevention programs in municipalities across Illinois. This funding, part of the Reimagine Public Safety Act (RPSA), will support nonprofit community-based organizations and local governments in 16 municipal areas outside of the City of Chicago as they work to prevent and interrupt gun violence in their communities. This $100 million builds on $113 million in funding made available in May as well as $10 million in funding surged to Chicago and other areas of the state in advance of the summer.

“This administration is delivering historic levels of violence prevention funding to interrupt violence and keep our communities safe,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “I am grateful for the thoughtful work of our Local Advisory Councils in recommending community-specific solutions that can get at the root-causes of firearm violence. This funding will support on-the-ground work from people with the community knowledge and passion necessary to make substantive change.”

IDHS continues to accept applications for the $113 million in funding made available in May for violence prevention services in Chicago and youth development services statewide. Across funding sources, nearly $240 million in funding has already been committed to youth development and violence prevention efforts statewide for fiscal years FY22, FY23, and FY24. In addition to RPSA/ARPA funding, committed efforts also include ongoing funding to youth development and youth employment providers, an expansion in summer youth development services, and a unique youth engagement pilot program through Chicago Public Schools.

This new investment in Greater Illinois comes after the Office of Firearm Violence Prevention (OFVP) at the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) convened Local Advisory Councils (LACs) in each of the 16 RPSA eligible municipalities to make recommendations to the OFVP on how to allocate violence prevention resources in their communities. From these recommendations, OFVP designed a comprehensive Greater Illinois Funding Strategy to meet the violence prevention needs of each municipal area, taking into account local recommendations, service provider capacity, and area need.

The grants announced today will be awarded by the OFVP and will go to programs in Illinois municipalities with less than 1,000,000 residents that are disproportionately impacted by violence, based on a data-focused approach to prioritizing the highest need areas of the State. RPSA programs are specifically designed to address populations that are high risk of perpetrating or becoming victim to firearm violence.

The OFVP is releasing the $100 million in three new direct service Notice of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs), available in RPSA eligible municipalities in Greater Illinois.

Violence Prevention: For programs that include street intervention, victim services, case management, and other engagement and wrap around support services for those at highest risk of harming or being harmed by gun related violence.

Trauma Informed Behavioral Health Services: For programs that include mental and behavioral health interventions that address trauma recovery and other mental health improvements, specifically to mediate the high correlation between family adversity, trauma and violence, and subsequent involvement in gun related activity.

Youth Intervention Services: For programs that include mentoring, employment skills development, life skills development, assistance with accessing education/vocational programming and employment, as well as other activities that promote positive engagement for high-risk youth ages 11-24.

* Press release…

State Rep. Terra Costa Howard has filed a new bill, HB 5796, that would require teen FOID card holders to reapply for the card when they turn 21.

“In the wake of the tragic Highland Park mass shooting on July 4, it was painfully clear that the young man who has been charged with this terrible crime was in turmoil and should never have been legally allowed to buy deadly assault weapons,” Costa Howard said. “By requiring young people to re-apply for their FOID (Firearm Owner’s Identification) cards when they turn 21, law enforcement will have a chance to review any reports of violence or other “red flag” events and respond appropriately.”

Earlier this month, Costa Howard convened a Gun Safety Town Hall in Glen Ellyn to share factual information about Illinois’ gun laws and to hear from residents about their concerns and ideas for commonsense gun legislation.

“Again and again, we see these heartbreaking crimes committed by young adults with a documented history of threatened and actual violence, including self-harm,” Costa Howard said. “Simply requiring young adults to re-apply for FOID cards after they turn 21 will create an opportunity to spot red flags and intervene to prevent tragedies.”

Costa Howard added: “I have voted for every bill that could help to reduce gun violence and save lives in Illinois – even when my support for reasonable gun laws has made me a target for extremist gun owners across the country. I believe that reasonable and responsible gun safety laws can save lives, and I will keep on standing up for every person’s right to go to a concert, play in parks, walk down the sidewalk, shop at the grocery store, send our kids to school, or cheer at a parade without fear of gun violence. It’s time to make our voices heard.”

* Press release yesterday…

Attorney General Kwame Raoul today announced three convictions resulting from the office’s efforts to keep guns out of the hands of prohibited purchasers. Raoul alleges that all three defendants falsified information on FOID card applications they submitted to the Illinois State Police (ISP).

“These convictions are a critical part of my office’s continued work to prevent gun violence by making sure firearms do not get into the hands of those who should not legally have them,” Raoul said. “Individuals who lie on their firearm owner’s identification card applications to obtain weapons they are not legally able to possess must be held accountable.”

Joe Burks, 66, of Chicago, Illinois, pleaded guilty to a Class 2 felony offense of unlawful violation of the Firearm Owner’s Identification Card Act and was sentenced to two years of probation and four days in county jail.

Attorney General Raoul alleged Burks knowingly entered false information on a FOID card application. In addition to responding to one of the application’s questions with false information, Raoul alleged Burks forged and submitted a document certifying his honorable discharge from active military duty. However, according to U.S. Army records, Burks was dishonorably discharged and sentenced to 10 years of confinement in 1987. Illinois law prohibits individuals who have been convicted of a felony or dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces from being eligible for FOID cards. Assistant Attorneys General Steven Knight and Peter Ravoori prosecuted the case for Raoul’s Statewide Grand Jury Bureau.

Tyler E. Crown, 27, of Pecatonica, Illinois, pleaded guilty to a Class A misdemeanor offense of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and was sentenced to two years of probation and 15 days in county jail.

Raoul alleged Crown knowingly entered false information on a FOID card application. When filling out his FOID card application, Crown indicated he had not been adjudicated a delinquent minor for an offense, which had he been prosecuted as an adult, would have been a felony. However, according to Raoul, Crown had been adjudicated a delinquent minor for such an offense. Illinois law prohibits individuals who have been previously adjudicated a delinquent minor for a crime that if committed as an adult would have been a felony from being eligible for a FOID card. Assistant Attorneys General Steven Knight and Peter Ravoori prosecuted the case for Raoul’s Statewide Grand Jury Bureau.

Patrick S. Nichols, 60, of Taylorville, Illinois, pleaded guilty to a class 2 felony offense of unlawful violation of the Firearm Owner’s Identification Card Act and was sentenced to two years of probation and eight days in county jail.

Raoul alleged Nichols knowingly entered false information on a FOID card application by failing to disclose a prior felony conviction. Nichols was previously convicted of a crime against nature out of the state of North Carolina. Assistant Attorneys General Steven Knight and Heidi Epperson prosecuted the case for Raoul’s Statewide Grand Jury Bureau.

For context, Illinois has more than 2 million FOID card holders.

  5 Comments      


Indiana oil fire could lead to more Illinois ethanol sales

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2022 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* The Telegraph

An electrical fire Aug. 24 at a BP facility in Whiting, Indiana has led officials in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin to request and receive an emergency waiver of federal fuel regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The Whiting BP facility produces 430,000 barrels per day. No deaths or injuries were reported in the fire, which was successfully extinguished. But damage to the facility led to the partial shutdown.

The temporary waiver, granted through Sept. 15, allows high volatility gasoline to be sold during the summer months, reducing fuel disruptions following the fire. Illinois officials said the waiver also means that Illinois corn farmers will provide needed fuel through their production of ethanol, a lower emission alternative to gasoline produced without ethanol.

“Because locally grown and produced biofuels can displace a large percentage of petroleum fuel, motorists can feel confident that they are not only purchasing an available, safe, high-quality fuel, but also that they are saving money at the pump and cleaning the air when they drive,” said Marty Marr, President of the Illinois Corn Growers Association.

* Press Release

Governor Pritzker announced today that his administration has taken steps to proactively address a shutdown at a BP facility in Whiting, Indiana caused by an electrical fire. Illinois, along with Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin, requested and were granted an emergency waiver of federal fuel regulations from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“After learning of the electrical fire at the BP facility in Whiting, our administration has taken proactive steps to increase gas supply and reduce barriers so all Illinoisans have access to the fuel they need,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “This coordinated effort with our neighboring states will reduce the chance of disruptions and keep the people and businesses of Illinois moving.”

The temporary waiver, which was granted through September 15, 2022, allows for high volatility gasoline to be sold during the summer months, reducing fuel disruptions following the fire which broke out on August 24. The waiver also means that Illinois corn farmers will provide the needed fuel through their ethanol production, which is a lower emission alternative to gasoline produced without ethanol. […]

“Illinois EPA has worked closely with our federal and state partners to minimize impacts from the temporary shutdown of the bp Whiting refinery,” said Illinois EPA Director John J. Kim. “U.S. EPA’s approval of Governor Pritzker’s request for an emergency fuel waiver will help prevent major disruption to regional fuel supplies while still protecting the health and safety of Illinois residents.”

“BP is keeping us informed on their restart process as they safely protect their crews, responders, and the public,” said Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau. “We will continue to work with our local and state agencies to monitor the impacts.”

* Forbes

The U.S. Department of Transportation has declared a regional emergency for Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin after a fire shut down the BP oil refinery in Whiting, Ind., the largest in the Midwest, though there hasn’t been an impact on gas prices so far.

The federal order temporarily lifts restrictions on the maximum working hours for truck drivers in the four states.

It’s not clear when the Whiting refinery, which is the sixth largest in the U.S., will get back online. […]

The months-long trend in sharply declining gas prices should not be affected by the Whiting shutdown, according to GasBuddy analyst Patrick De Haan, and he cautioned against consumers “panic” buying gas, which could cause a strain.

  9 Comments      


Sentence reduction credits allegedly ignored at Galesburg correctional facility

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2022 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Press Release…

State Rep. Rita Mayfield, D-Waukegan, Chairperson of the Illinois House Appropriations-Public Safety Committee, is seeking answers from the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) following a report which details how people incarcerated in at least one IDOC facility say their applications for legally-earned ‘good time’ sentence reduction credits are being improperly ignored, delayed and denied by IDOC officials, including allegedly for political reasons.

“This is a nation of laws, and we need to be assured that personnel at correctional facilities are doing their jobs. And following the law is a big part of that,” Mayfield said. “Correctional officers have a tough job that certainly has to be done, and it’s important for them to know they have support. But that cannot and should not mean that we look the other way if and when standards are not being met.”

One senior IDOC official at a correctional facility in Galesburg allegedly stated while being interviewed that criminal justice reforms were responsible for rising crime rates, while also allegedly citing his personal opinion as justification for arbitrarily refusing to consider applications for sentence credits by people incarcerated there, who he allegedly referred to as “criminals”. That official denied these allegations.

The ‘good time’ credits, which are officially known as Earned Program Sentence Credits or Earned Discretionary Sentence Credits, are the result of an expansion in possible sentence credits for certain incarcerated people as part of the SAFE-T Act, which Mayfield helped pass in 2021.

“Incarcerated people are still people. Their rights are important, including their right not to remain imprisoned after the law says that they are eligible for release,” Mayfield said. “If people are not being released from incarceration when they should be, then we need to get to the bottom of why, make the necessary adjustments and ensure that there is accountability. I am continuing to monitor this issue and I will keep asking questions until we get satisfactory answers.”

* Prism originally reported on this topic

The SAFE-T Act was signed into law in January 2021, enacting sweeping criminal legal reforms such as eliminating cash bail and establishing a new process to decertify cops. While the legislation was mainly focused on pre-trial reforms, a small part of the bill gave incarcerated people a new pathway to release. The day the law went into effect, on July 1, 2021, at Hill Correctional Center (Hill CC), dozens immediately filed for the Earned Program Sentence Credits (EPSC) and Earned Discretionary Sentence Credits (EDSC) to which they were newly entitled. […]

Incarcerated paralegal Doiakah Gray told Prism that in November 2021, he had a conversation with Hill CC’s Clinical Services Supervisor Chad A. Schuldt—who’s responsible for approving good time credits—in which he said Schuldt expressed a belief that criminal legal reform was increasing crime, and “refused to release criminals into the street.”

In a written response to Gray that has been reviewed by Prism, Schuldt said the comments were inaccurate and that his “personal opinion has no bearing on the eligibility of whether someone meets the criteria for award or not.” He also concluded that Gray’s submission did not meet the criteria for awarding credits, and no further review was warranted.

Gray subsequently filed a grievance against Schuldt for retaliation and an “inordinate delay” in processing his credit request in the same month. In December 2021, Schuldt responded to Gray, “It does appear you are eligible for HB 0094 credits,” followed by a form response again delaying the review of Gray’s HB 3653 credits.

* Qualifying for sentence credits under the SAFE-T Act

Earned Discretionary Sentence Credit (EDSC)

    • Up to 180 days of EDSC can be awarded for individuals serving a sentence of less than five years
    • Up to 365 days of EDSC can be awarded for individuals serving a sentence of five or more years
    • This can be approved for individuals in custody before July 1 as well. Therefore, those who are serving a sentence of 5 years more can be awarded 365 days when these changes go in effect July 1. Those who already received time can be reviewed for additional time if they meet criteria.
    • NOTE: Lists are generated for the facility as to who needs to be reviewed. There is no application process for EDSC. An individual does not need to ask to be reviewed.

Earned Programs Sentence Credit

    • Adds Participation/compliance in work release/ATC programs/activities to eligible EPSC categories
    • Changes EPSC to day- for- day credit for Substance Use Treatment, Illinois Correctional Industries, Education, Behavior Modification, Life Skills, Reentry Planning, and Work release/ATC programming and compliance
    • EPSC for individuals who participate in IDOC approved self-improvement groups, volunteer work, or work assignments – shall receive 0.5 days credit for every day engaged in activities.
    • Self-improvement groups and volunteer work will need to be vetted by the statewide programs committee before being eligible for award of credit
    • 120 days EPSC will be awarded for obtainment of an associate degree (retroactive timing as well for past degrees). They cannot have earned the degree prior to the current incarceration though.

  9 Comments      


Question of the day

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Tribune

Darren Bailey, the Republican nominee for governor, received his biggest contribution so far in the general election campaign from his most generous benefactor — conservative megadonor Richard Uihlein.

The $1 million contribution was the first from Uihlein to Bailey since the state senator from downstate Xenia won the primary election in late June to take on first-term incumbent Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker in November.

While the $1 million is far from the $9 million Uihlein contributed to Bailey during the primary, the contribution from the CEO of the packing and shipping firm Uline at least temporarily ends suspense about whether he was going to financially support Bailey during the general election campaign. Uihlein’s previous contribution to Bailey was in late May.

The $1 million contribution on Monday was sorely needed by Bailey, who reported having just under $364,000 in his campaign fund at the end of June. Pritzker, the billionaire businessman and an heir to the Hyatt Hotels fortune, reported having $60.8 million in his campaign fund at the end of June.

* Some react…


* The Question: Your reaction to this news?

  31 Comments      


Rate the new Alexi Giannoulias digital ad

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Here you go

* Transcript

JESSE WHITE: I’ve committed myself to Alexi to be at his side every day, to make sure that you become the next Secretary of State for the state of Illinois.

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS: What holds us together as our unified belief in the rule of law, in democracy, in character integrity, and in fair and honest elections. We have seen what the political cult on the right has done to our neighbors where lawmakers are passing laws as we speak to make it tougher to vote harder, to make a living and more difficult to seek abortion care. And now more than ever we need a Secretary of State on the front lines to protect our democracy. The stakes in this election could not be higher. Our right to vote, the rights of working families and the reproductive rights of women are all on the ballot this November. My job as the first new Secretary of State in a generation will be to build on his legacy of public service.

JESSE WHITE: Alexi, you da man.

  25 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** BGA takes another look at Pritzker’s investment in Centene

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From January of 2019

Billionaire J.B. Pritzker on Thursday promised to shift some of his immense wealth into a blind trust to avoid conflicts of interest, but it’s unclear whether he will be able to fully wall off his fortune from his official duties as Illinois governor.

Pritzker said he has appointed Chicago-based Northern Trust Co. to act as an independent trustee and make all investment decisions about his personal assets. Those same rules won’t apply to the extended Pritzker family fortune that’s held in secretive onshore and offshore trusts. Pritzker said the terms governing the family trusts do not allow for the assets to be moved into the blind trust.

In addition, Pritzker is divesting “his personally-held direct interests in companies that have contracts” with the state, his campaign said. […]

What Pritzker promises to set up is not a true blind trust, however, since he will not be totally “blind.” He will need to know the names of the companies and funds he’s invested in to do his taxes and to comply with the state’s ethics laws.

* BGA

In 2019, Pritzker’s first year as governor, Centene faced federal antitrust scrutiny amid concerns it would control more than half the Medicaid market in Illinois and other states. To clinch the merger, Centene needed the Pritzker administration’s approval to swap thousands of patient accounts with other state Medicaid contractors.

“I can’t thank you enough for your help in setting up the meeting between Governor Pritzker, yourself and Michael Neidorff, CEO of Centene Corporation,” said Centene lobbyist Julie A. Curry in a March 29, 2019 email to Illinois Deputy Gov. Sol Flores.

Curry followed up with a July 30, 2019 email to Anne Caprara, Pritzker’s chief of staff.

“Anne, any help that you can give in getting the Governor’s Office to complete their internal review of the Centene/Wellcare MOU with HFS would be greatly appreciated,” Curry wrote. “Please let me know if you any questions or concerns. Thank you for your consideration and help!!”

In May 2019, Pritzker also accepted an invitation from then-CEO Neidorff to speak at a ribbon cutting for a new Centene facility in Carbondale.

Then in September 2019, Pritzker’s calendar listed an hour-long call “on Centene Merger” with seven top aides, including Ann Spillane, his general counsel, and her deputy general counsel. One of the attendees, Emily Bittner, the governor’s deputy communications director, downplayed the importance of the meeting as “general background on the issues relating to the Centene merger.”

“The GC and deputy GC were not asking the governor to make any decisions, only giving him background,” Bittner said in an email to the BGA.

In a written statement to the BGA, Spillane said it was her job — and not the governor’s — to “make final decisions” on the memorandum of understanding between Centene and the state Department of Healthcare and Family Services.

“I provided the Governor and senior staff with a detailed background briefing to address questions and to assure the Governor that all potential legal issues had been considered,” Spillane told the BGA. “I then advised HFS that the agency could sign the MOU.”

Bittner portrayed Pritzker’s meetings with company executives as insignificant.

“Governor Pritzker meets regularly with CEOs who do business in the state of Illinois, and he regularly attends events to celebrate the creation of new jobs throughout the state,” she wrote. “Our records indicate that the April meeting with the CEO of Centene was a brief introductory meeting and that the company was informed in advance that the meeting would not involve any discussion of the Wellcare transaction. The Governor was not involved in the transaction.”

In December 2019, with the approval of the Pritzker administration, Centene announced it was selling thousands of patients to another insurer, easing federal antitrust concerns.

In January 2020, Centene closed its deal to purchase Wellcare. That year, Pritzker’s trust bought his Centene stock, his ethics filings show. Also that year, the state oversaw a bulk patient transfer agreement that gave Centene a toehold in the Cook County Medicaid market, and Illinois activated Centene’s separate contract for the medical care of 36,000 juvenile state wards.

With these new lines of business secured, Centene subsidiary Meridian reported profits of $181.5 million on premiums from Illinois Medicaid contracts worth $5.2 billion in 2021. Those profits did not include more than $1 billion in management fees Meridian paid to its affiliates under intercompany arrangements, state insurance filings show.

Pritzker’s ethics filings show he made a capital gain from selling Centene stock last year, but the amount of the gain is not specified.

Pritzker was notified of his holdings in Centene in 2021 when it was listed among the 300-plus entities on his annual economic disclosure filings, a report required of all elected officials. Those disclosures require public officials to list all holdings worth more than $5,000. The specific value of the holdings does not have to be disclosed, nor would Pritzker provide it.

The BGA first reported his trust’s Centene investment in February. At that time, the Pritzker administration said he was not involved with Centene.

“The governor is not involved in the contracting process related to Centene,” Jordan Abudayyeh, Pritzker’s communications director, told the BGA. “There is nothing he would have to recuse himself from.”

Questioned by Chicago media days later, Pritzker made a striking admission: The governor said he only learned of his investment in Centene when the BGA contacted him about it.

The people who run that blind trust are doing the governor no favors.

*** UPDATE *** Natalie Edelstein at the Pritzker campaign…

Any Illinoisan who has ever worked with a financial advisor would agree that if they had no idea what their financial advisor was doing with their money, they would feel blind. Under the blind trust rules the Governor has in place, Illinois voters know as much about the Governor’s investments as he does. The BGA continues to have trouble understanding the basic facts. The Governor did divest his personal holdings in companies with state contracts before he even created his blind trust and entered office. Anything the trustees have done since then, he has had no say in. The Governor has a legal obligation to file a complete and correct tax return and a complete and correct Statement of Economic Interests. If BGA and its so-called experts had their way, Governor Pritzker wouldn’t even have the information he needs to meet these legal requirements. Imagine the story BGA would write then.

…Adding… ILGOP…

“Governor Pritzker’s repeated lack of transparency is disturbing. The Governor needs to answer why he has failed to avoid financial conflicts by not telling his trust managers to refrain from investing in state contractors. The Governor, or his trusts, should release all correspondence and documents pertaining to any companies in his ‘blind’ trust that have done business with the state since he became Governor. To do otherwise would be a disservice to the voters of Illinois and to honest and transparent government,” said Illinois Republican Party Chairman Don Tracy.

Pritzker most definitely should have told the blind trust managers to never invest in state contractors, etc. But if he does it now, it ain’t actually blind.

  41 Comments      


Bailey hit on campaigning again with 1/6er, lashes out at “liberal media,” claims Dems looking to take away free speech rights

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* DGA…

Just days after new reporting revealed video footage of two Bailey campaign surrogates participating in the January 6th insurrection, Bailey marched in Du Quoin with campaign supporter David Paul Blumenshine, organizer of a “Stop the Steal” bus tour to Washington, D.C. on January 6th and current “regional director” on Bailey’s campaign handling “election integrity.” Bailey has yet to explain his associations with the two pastors or Blumenshine, and has refused to acknowledge their work for his campaign.

These new ties are just the latest in Bailey’s long string of connections to disgraced former President Trump and the violent attack on the Capitol.

Lawrence Ligas, a “good friend” of the Baileys, was seen campaigning alongside a paid Bailey staffer as recently as May after being charged with three criminal counts for his involvement in the insurrection.

On his support for Bailey, Ligas said: “I believe in Darren Bailey so strongly that I’m out here trying to wake up the people that don’t get it.”

Ligas and Blumenshine weren’t the only Bailey supporters involved in the January 6th attack. One couple, identified by the article as Bailey supporters, is seen in a video yelling: “Do your (expletive) job or swing!,” presumably in reference to the MAGA refrain to “Hang Mike Pence.”

That’s after Bailey himself perpetuated uber-MAGA voter fraud conspiracy theories in the aftermath of the 2020 election and happily accepted millions from billionaire Dick Uihlein, the same man who threw millions at the ultra-conservative ‘Patriots’ group that helped organize the rally leading to the violent insurrection.

“From surrounding himself with extremist insurrection participants to spreading the same lies that sparked the violent attack, Darren Bailey has made his stance crystal clear: his allegiance is to his party, not his country,” said DGA Illinois Press Secretary Yael Sheinfeld. “Illinoisans won’t let an uber-MAGA insurrectionist apologist anywhere near the state’s highest office.”

* Bailey on Facebook this morning

The clip was provided by the Pritzker campaign, but the full video is here.

Transcript

You know, one thing I can’t figure out, and I really can’t, I have not discovered the answer to this: Why the liberal media and press wants to try to destroy any conservative conversation or idea to get this state under control? And why instead they go ahead and prop up people like Joe Biden and and JB Pritzker with their destructive policies? I, I really, truly don’t understand that because the freedom of speech is what makes this country so great. So you could do and say what you want, but they’re the ones that are able to, you know, report what they want and, and the I see, you know, people on the other side of the aisle looking to eventually take that away. I mean, we’re seeing that in our college campuses and in our schools. It’s not like we’re making something up. There’s a problem here. And we have got to stand up and change out our governments this year and in 2014. We have an amazing opportunity to do that. So keep spreading the word

  43 Comments      


Today’s quotable

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From a 7th Circuit of the US Court of Appeals ruling on a lawsuit designed to halt vaccination and COVID testing mandates

Plaintiffs in each case have failed to provide facts sufficient to show that the challenged mandates abridge a fundamental right. Nor do they provide a textual or historical argument for their constitutional interpretation. Plaintiffs do not cite any controlling case law or other legal authority in support of their position, instead relying on decisions that are either factually distinguishable or that have been overruled. Neither this court nor the district judges deny that requiring the administration of an unwanted vaccine involves important privacy interests. But the record developed and presented here does not demonstrate that these interests qualify as a fundamental right under substantive due process.

Other than that, they had a great case. /s

  13 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Bailey wants 90 percent of University of Illinois enrollment reserved for Illinois residents

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Bailey campaign…


* Dot points…

Guarantee Illinoisans 90% of undergraduate seats to the University of Illinois

The first priority of the University of Illinois should be to educate Illinois residents in order to improve the lives of citizens in Illinois.

Illinois students commonly make up 75% of freshman enrollees to the University of Illinois.1 The remaining quarter of the undergraduate student body comes from other states and countries. As the state’s flagship university, the University of Illinois should guarantee more spots in each class for graduates of Illinois high schools.

Senator Darren Bailey proposes to increase the proportion of freshman enrollees who come from the State of Illinois over each of the 4 years in his first term as governor. The goal of this policy is to increase the proportion of Illinoisans from approximately 75% to 90% of total enrollment at the University of Illinois. Senator Bailey proposes a new state law to guarantee the following proportion of first-year student seats at the University of Illinois to Illinoisans:

    • 2023-2024: 79% of the first-year class
    • 2024-2025: 82.5% of the first-year class
    • 2025-2026: 86.5% of the first-year class
    • 2026-2027: 90% of the first-year class

Every subsequent class will be required to have at least 90% Illinoisans.

State precedents

Guaranteeing seats to in-state students is a policy that other states have pursued.

For example, The University of Texas at Austin caps out-of-state enrollment at 10% of total enrollment, thus guaranteeing 90% of undergraduate seats to Texans.2
The University of North Carolina Board of Governors adopted policy 700.1.3 in 1986, creating the 82/18 rule. This rule put a cap on out of state student enrollment at 18% of enrolled freshman, guaranteeing 82% of positions in each freshman class to North Carolinians.3

Fulfilling the University of Illinois’ mission

The University of Illinois should focus primarily on enhancing the lives of citizens in Illinois by educating Illinoisans so that Illinois can have a more productive and educated population. Yet school administrators have a financial incentive to accept non-Illinois students because out-of-state students pay more, which provides more funding to the university.

Tuition to the University of Illinois ranges from $17,138-$22,324 for in-state students for the 2022-2023 school year. By comparison, tuition and fees for out of state students range from $35,110-$42,796 per year, while international students pay $36,018-$45,774 in tuition and fees.4

In-state students pay lower tuition and fees because their families pay taxes that fund the University of Illinois system. For example, the state appropriated $655 million in general funds to the University of Illinois System for the 2023 fiscal year. The System’s operating budget is $7.18 billion. Illinois taxpayers also cover the pension costs of university faculty and the cost of capital projects.5

Illinoisans pay taxes that fund the university’s operating budget, and so the university should show a strong preference for Illinois students. This policy needs to be reflected in state law. The University of Illinois should guarantee 9 out of every 10 seats to Illinois high school graduates.

    1 https://las.illinois.edu/news/2020-09-10/university-illinois-enrollment-remains-above-50000-fall-2020
    2 https://news.utexas.edu/2021/09/21/automatic-admissions-threshold-remains-at-6-for-ut- austin/#:~:text=Under%20state%20law%2C%2090%25%20of,through%20a%20holistic%20review%20process.
    3 http://mediahub.unc.edu/the-cap-on-out-of-state-student-enrollment-at-north-carolina-universities-could-be- increasing-but-only-for- hbcus/#:~:text=The%2082%2F18%20rule%2C%20mandating,policy%20have%20been%20made%20since.
    4 https://www.admissions.illinois.edu/invest/tuition 5 https://news.uillinois.edu/view/7815/1096621426
    5 https://news.uillinois.edu/view/7815/1096621426

…Adding… This could complicate matters. Crain’s

College recruiters call the population drop “the cliff.” The cohort of Illinois high school seniors graduating in 2023 is down 5% from a 2015 peak, with the ranks of Gen Zs thinner than their millennial predecessors. The number of high school graduates is expected to drop a stunning 22% by the mid-2030s.

*** UPDATE *** Natalie Edelstein at the Pritzker campaign…

The vast majority of students who attend the University of Illinois are from in-state. As of last year, more than 80% of the University of Illinois students were Illinois residents. Darren Bailey’s lackluster campaign promise to boost in-state attendance rates is based on a false premise and is yet another example of Bailey misunderstanding the role he is aiming to take on. It is critical that Illinois universities attract out-of-state students as these are the same people who go on to start families, businesses, and lives in Illinois upon graduation. Darren Bailey is woefully underprepared to serve as the State’s best Chief Marketing officer––a role that Governor Pritzker has done exceptionally.

She also included this link.

  99 Comments      


Union membership rate now higher in Illinois than Michigan

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2022 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Illinois ranks 11th in largest unionized workforces, according to Stacker

To determine which states are the most unionized, Stacker looked at BLS data for 2021 (released in January 2022) and ranked each state according to its percentage of wage and salary workers who were members of labor unions.

Not surprisingly, the issue is politically polarized. Republicans overwhelmingly back right-to-work laws, and Democrats overwhelmingly side with their historic allies in labor. In fact, a red/blue map of the right-to-work states versus pro-union states looks nearly identical to that of the Electoral College.

Today, 27 states enforce right-to-work laws. These free-rider statutes extend the gains of union-won collective bargaining agreements to non-union workers who didn’t join or pay dues themselves. Predictably and as intended, many workers simply opt to piggyback instead of pitching in, which causes union membership and the influence of organized labor to dwindle. Big business prefers divided labor over organized labor for a reason. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median weekly wage for union members in the United States is $1,169 vs. $975 for nonunion workers.

In 2021, union membership stood at about 10.3% of the U.S. workforce. That’s a little more than half of the 20.1% that existed when BLS began tracking it in 1983. Three decades before that, in 1953, more than one in three private-sector workers were union members. Today, that number has dwindled to just 6.1%. Right-to-work legislation is decided at the state level, so the country’s remaining union members are not spread out evenly. […]

11. Illinois

    -Members of unions: 752,000 (13.9% of employed population)
    -Up 13,000 from 2020 (-0.4 percentage points)
    -Workers represented by unions: 818,000 (15.2% of employed population)
    -Up 30,000 from 2020 (no percentage point change)

* Great Lakes States

6. Minnesota

    -Members of unions: 416,000 (16% of employed population)
    -Up 18,000 from 2020 (+0.2 percentage points)
    -Workers represented by unions: 446,000 (17.1% of employed population)
    -Up 19,000 from 2020 (+0.1 percentage points)

12. Michigan

    -Members of unions: 540,000 (13.3% of employed population)
    -Down 64,000 from 2020 (-1.9 percentage points)
    -Workers represented by unions: 620,000 (15.3% of employed population)
    -Down 41,000 from 2020 (-1.3 percentage points)

18. Ohio

    -Members of unions: 596,000 (12% of employed population)
    -Down 41,000 from 2020 (-1.2 percentage points)
    -Workers represented by unions: 647,000 (13% of employed population)
    -Down 39,000 from 2020 (-1.2 percentage points)

25. Indiana

    -Members of unions: 256,000 (9% of employed population)
    -Up 21,000 from 2020 (+0.7 percentage points)
    -Workers represented by unions: 290,000 (10.2% of employed population)
    -Up 20,000 from 2020 (+0.7 percentage points)

28. Wisconsin

    -Members of unions: 215,000 (7.9% of employed population)
    -Down 12,000 from 2020 (-0.8 percentage points)
    -Workers represented by unions: 251,000 (9.3% of employed population)
    -Down 13,000 from 2020 (-0.9 percentage points)

* Other surrounding states

25. Missouri

    -Members of unions: 235,000 (9% of employed population)
    -Down 3,000 from 2020 (-0.4 percentage points)
    -Workers represented by unions: 266,000 (10.2% of employed population)
    -Up 12,000 from 2020 (+0.1 percentage points)

30. Kentucky

    -Members of unions: 126,000 (7.2% of employed population)
    -Down 1,000 from 2020 (-0.3 percentage points)
    -Workers represented by unions: 170,000 (9.8% of employed population)
    -Up 10,000 from 2020 (+0.4 percentage points)

32. Iowa

    -Members of unions: 93,000 (6.5% of employed population)
    -No change from 2020 (-0.1 percentage points)
    -Workers represented by unions: 118,000 (8.3% of employed population)
    -Down 10,000 from 2020 (-0.8 percentage points)

* Q&A with WBEZ reporter Esther Yoon-Ji Kang…

Q: So first of all, tell us more about the Illinois Right to Collective Bargaining Amendment. Proponents are calling it the Workers Rights Amendment right?

Kang: Right. The amendment actually just enshrines the right for workers to collectively bargain in the Illinois constitution. And so the words that they use are employees shall have the fundamental right, to collectively bargain for wages, hours and working conditions and to protect their economic welfare and safety at work and so only a handful of other states. have such a guarantee. Those are Hawaii, New York and Missouri. So Illinois, if this amendment passes, and Illinois would be part of that group.

Q: Well, the amendment would also bar the state from passing so-called Right to Work laws. Can you explain what the Right to Work laws actually do?

Kang: Sure, Right to Work laws, what they do is they give workers the freedom to choose whether they want to join a union or not. The law also say that employees actually can’t be forced to pay dues to a union. So if that workplace is already unionized, and you want to join this company, you don’t have to pay dues to a union. Supporters of Right to Work laws say that these laws give freedom to the workers to choose. But of course they weaken the union’s power to collectively bargain. As of now, 28 states actually have Right to Work laws, including some states around us, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and Iowa all have these right to work laws.

Q: What does this polling suggest about whether or not this will pass?

Kang: Polling at the national level suggests there’s a lot of support for unions. One poll has it at 70% of Americans supporting unions and researchers say that that’s the highest level in decades. And also, you’re hearing a lot more about workers unionizing kind of everywhere. You’ve heard about Starbucks stores unionizing, Amazon workers trying to make that happen at warehouses. Just a few days ago, Intelligentsia in Chicago, cafe workers there also voted to unionize. And this week 500 workers at Howard Brown Health also voted to join, so there’s definitely a trend.

* Block Club Chicago

Howard Brown Health employees voted to unionize with the Illinois Nurses Association — a move employees say will address what they’ve called a toxic work culture at the LGBTQ-affirming health care organization. […]

Howard Brown Health is a federally qualified health center that employs several hundred people across its 12 clinics, the Broadway Youth Center and its resale shops. Howard Brown Health was founded in 1974 with a focus on serving LGBTQ people and other communities that are vulnerable.

Today, Howard Brown Health serves about 30,000 patients annually with a variety of services, including including primary care, dental services, pediatric care, counseling and HIV case management, testing and outreach. The organization has been on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, giving out more than 70,000 vaccinations and nearly 100,000 COVID-19 tests, said President and CEO David Ernesto Munar.

Since workers launched their campaign to unionize in February, Munar has said the organization would recognize the group if it forms and bargain in good faith. He congratulated the organizers in a statement Tuesday.

* Carbondale has the first unionized Starbucks location in southern Illinois. KFVS

According to a release from Starbucks Workers United and CMRJB, workers at the 1025 E. Main St. location won their union election on Thursday, August 11 by a tally of 11-2.

“It just goes to show that efforts to build a better future for everyone are worthwhile,” workers from the Carbondale location said in a statement.

A Richmond Heights location in Missouri also won their union election Thursday, becoming the fifth unionized location in St. Louis.

As of Thursday, according to the release, the Starbucks Workers United Movement has reached at least 210 unionized Starbucks.

  11 Comments      


Open thread

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Give us your best takes.

  11 Comments      


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Tuesday, Aug 30, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Tuesday, Aug 30, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

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