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Reader comments closed for the weekend

Friday, Mar 18, 2016

* Smiling and dancing is good for you. Even in a subway

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


A dish best served cold

Friday, Mar 18, 2016

* First, read this background

The Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund is questioning whether McHenry County Board members are working enough hours to justify pensions after they leave office, the Northwest Herald has learned.

And a state representative known for tussling with the County Board over various issues in recent years plans to ask that a special prosecutor be appointed to investigate.

Under state law, McHenry County government employees must work at least 1,000 hours a year – or about 20 hours a week for 50 weeks – to qualify for IMRF benefits. The County Board in 1997 set a higher standard for its employees – the law otherwise sets a 600-hour annual minimum.

But an audit conducted last year by IMRF cast doubt on whether most board members are meeting the threshold, IMRF Director Louis Kosiba said.

Kosiba, who along with state Rep. Jack Franks asked to meet with the newspaper’s editors, pointed to a line from the IMRF’s own manual to back his assertion. Barring “highly unusual circumstances,” officials elected to county, village, township or municipal boards will not qualify for IMRF under the 1,000-hour threshold.

A special prosecutor? Wow. But, hey, did they do enough work to qualify for pensions? If not… could be big trouble.

* Now, read this comprehensive account of the latest board meeting. But take special note of this

Board Chairman Joe Gottemoller treated Kosiba as if he were a witness in a trial.

He got a reply that no issue was raised until Local 150 and Jack Franks separately brought the question to the attention of IMRF. […]

“The information comes from a union [Local 150 of the Operating Engineers] that is suing us because we supported Governor Rauner’s [Turnaround Agenda],” Gottemoller interjected.

* More background, this time from last year

A labor union claims the McHenry County Board violated the Illinois Open Meetings Act when at least eight of its members gathered at a private discussion with Gov. Bruce Rauner at the Woodstock Opera House April 8.

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 filed a lawsuit against the County Board April 17, accusing board members of failing to comply with a state law that requires the public be allowed to attend government meetings. […]

According to the lawsuit, Chairman Joseph Gottemoller, Yvonne Barnes, Jim Heisler, Nick Provenzano, Chuck Wheeler, Tina Hill, Michele Aavang and Larry Smith were on hand to listen to a talk from Rauner, who was in Woodstock to tout his Illinois Turnaround agenda, a set of plans supporters say will improve the state’s economy but which opponents have labeled as an attack on unions and the middle class. […]

The next day, the County Board voted 16-5 in favor of a non-binding resolution supporting Rauner’s plan, which calls for localized right-to-work zones, the repeal of prevailing wage laws, the elimination of unfunded mandates and more.

Ouch.

- Posted by Rich Miller   46 Comments      


Question of the day

Friday, Mar 18, 2016

* From the twitters…


* The Question: Your vision of Jason Gonzales’ political future?

- Posted by Rich Miller   50 Comments      


An uncertain future, to say the least

Friday, Mar 18, 2016

* This AP story is kinda jumbled but I’m gonna try to clear it up for you

Illinois’ chief fiscal officer said Thursday that the state’s pile of overdue bills is even higher than earlier reported and could hit $10 billion by summer.

Comptroller Leslie Munger told a Senate appropriations committee that the $7.6 billion backlog only queues up money that’s still owed because the state is required to pay it by court order.

The Republican says there’s another $1.25 billion not included in the total because that’s money owed to vendors under contract […]

The state has no authority to spend money because Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislative Democrats have bickered for nine months about a fiscal plan.

What Munger was trying to say was that if the Democrats successfully appropriate money for state vendors (including human service providers), the state’s official payment backlog is going to increase by another $1.25 billion.

Why? Because while those services are currently being provided under state contracts, there are no enacted appropriations. All state contracts are subject to appropriations. So, the owed money isn’t officially counted by the comptroller because agencies can’t even submit anything to her without an appropriation or court order - and she couldn’t pay the bills even if she wanted to. But if the Democrats appropriate that money, the backlog will grow because it will then be added to the tab.

* And this brings us to an e-mail I received today from a very worried provider. The sender asked that I keep his name and organization out of it, for good reason…

Mr. Miller,

I would prefer that my name and position not be used in any story. I run a medium-sized Human Service organization in [redacted]. We have services in [redacted] counties. We have a few contracts with the state.

I wanted to explain to you why it is important that the General Assembly pass and the governor sign an appropriation for FY 16 whether there is revenue tied to it or not.

Our contracts all have a clause that states “pending appropriations.” The theory is, if there are no FY 16 appropriations then all of the non-consent decree services that we are performing do not have to be paid. So in essence, we have a contract with the state to perform services. If we hit July 1, 2017 and there is no appropriation bill that covers our services, we very well may have performed these services for free.

But if there is an appropriation, our payments will be treated like any other contract.

I’m telling you this because it is my belief that is the reason the House and Senate Democrats are pushing an appropriation bill.

* The reader is partially right. Without an appropriation (or a successful lawsuit), those providers won’t ever be paid. It’s one reason why the Democrats are attempting to pass an appropriations bill right now.

However, if a deal is reached after the beginning of the new fiscal year, an appropriation for unpaid FY 16 contracts could still be enacted.

* There’s a big “if” here, though. Will the governor’s office and maybe even the Democrats cut a deal which deliberately shorts those FY 16 vendor contract payments to keep the deal’s costs down? They’ve shorted approp lines before, after all.

Nobody can answer that question with any sort of certainty right now.

* And here’s another problem: What if they never reach a “real” budget deal? No appropriation, no money. Ever. Not without a successful lawsuit, anyway. And that’d be tough.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


Save the date!

Friday, Mar 18, 2016

* I’ve never bartended in my life, so this ought to be interesting…

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


Turncoat turns coat again

Friday, Mar 18, 2016

* You have likely seen this nefarious billboard

* Guess who just hired the creator?

The new Illinois Business and Development Corp. has hired as its first marketing director—and, in fact, its first big hire at all—Kelly Nicholl, who until recently was the vice president for marketing of the Indiana Economic Development Corp.

In a phone interview as she prepares to assume her new gig next week, Nicholl, 53, admitted, “I guess I’m going to have to try to undo part of hard work in Indiana,” but added that she does not expect that will be much of a chore.

“There are great assets in Illinois,” said Nicholl. “That’s my job, to find those assets and put them in front of people.”

Nicholl kept a downtown condominium here during her stint in Indianapolis and said she “loves” Chicago.

“I’m really excited about trying all of the things I’ve learned about marketing the state of Indiana and trying them in Illinois,” she said. The trick is, “You’ve got to be top of mind”—the kind of place corporate locators think of without a lot of constant prompting.

Wait. She had a condo in Chicago all along? She “loves” the city but whacked us anyway?

Great.

- Posted by Rich Miller   67 Comments      


Disastrous White Sox open thread

Friday, Mar 18, 2016

* I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Kenny Williams has got to go

White Sox pitcher Chris Sale said executive vice president Ken Williams created an unnecessary distraction when he asked Adam LaRoche to limit the amount of time his son spent in the clubhouse.

LaRoche said Tuesday he planned to leave the team following Williams’ new restrictions, but Sale said Friday the problems now go beyond LaRoche’s possible retirement to trust issues within the organization.

“We were rolling,” Sale said. “We had a team coming together of new guys, getting acquainted. No hiccups, nothing. We were a steam engine going full steam ahead, and it kind of derailed it. … There was no problem in here with anyone, and he created a problem.”

Sale said the players “got bold-faced lied to by someone we are supposed to be able to trust.”

Sale said Williams told contradicting stories, citing the players, the coaches and Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf at different times as the reason he was setting the limitations now. Many Sox players publicly have said they didn’t have a problem with Drake LaRoche, 14, spending enough time with the team that he had a locker at U.S. Cellular Field.

I got some great discounts on airfare and a hotel, so I’m planning to spend a few days at spring training later this month to wind down from the campaign and this never-ending impasse. But now I’m as depressed about my team as I am about my state.

Ugh!

- Posted by Rich Miller   86 Comments      


Caption contest!

Friday, Mar 18, 2016

* Remember this Maze Jackson campaign flier?

* From Jackson’s Facebook page yesterday

I’m figuring that’s not a recent photo.

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


Um… wow

Friday, Mar 18, 2016

* You probably already know that Cook County State’s Attorney candidate Kimberly Fox won suburban Cook County 52-33-15. To me, anyway, that margin was as or even more surprising than her 62-26-12 win in the city.

What you might not know is that Foxx unexpectedly won quite a few townships, most of which are considered pretty upscale white, including Barrington, New Trier, Niles, Northfield, Palatine, River Forest and Wheeling.

Upscale white liberals obviously wanted a change at the top.

And Foxx only narrowly lost Elk Grove, Maine, Norwood Park, Riverside and Schaumburg townships to incumbent Anita Alvarez.

Besides those close races in the above suburban townships, Alvarez had expected but mostly not overwhelming victories in Berwyn, Cicero, Hanover, Lemont, Leyden, Lyons, Norwood Park, Orland, Palos, Stickney and Worth townships. Those are more working class places and townships with significant Latino voters. She got stomped everywhere else, particularly in the county’s largest townships.

* Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders lost suburban Cook 54-46, but did win many of the same townships won by Alvarez, including Berwyn, Cicero, Elk Grove, Hanover, Lemont, Leyden, Lyons, Orland, Palatine, Palos, Riverside, Schaumburg, Stickney and Worth.

As some of these township results and the Chicago results showed, Sanders did really well with Latinos on Tuesday. He won Madigan’s 13th Ward, for instance, but didn’t do as well as Alvarez, who took the 13th with 60 percent.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


Out of context

Friday, Mar 18, 2016

* From the Democratic Party of Illinois…

Kirk Should Demand Supreme Court Nominee Gets Fair Hearing & Vote

Senator’s unwillingness to lobby colleagues for Illinois native an abdication of leadership, indication of preference for Trump to pick next Justice

This morning, Senator Kirk told WLS-AM 890 that President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee will not be confirmed and the vacancy will be filled by the next President. In response, Democratic Party of Illinois Senior Communications Advisor Sean Savett released the following statement:

“Senator Kirk’s refusal to demand his Republican colleagues provide Illinois native Judge Merrick Garland with a fair hearing and an up-or-down vote is an affront to Illinois voters. If Senator Kirk were serious about fulfilling his constitutional responsibilities, he would publicly rebuke the strategy of the Republican Majority Leader he voted for, not predict the strategy’s success.

“Kirk’s refusal to advocate on behalf of an eminently qualified Illinoisan is all the more galling given the increasing likelihood that Donald Trump will be his party’s nominee and potentially be in position to fill this Supreme Court vacancy. Apparently Kirk is just fine with that, as he indicated last week.”

Link to interview: https://soundcloud.com/user-929004173/scotuskirk/s-mJbdc#t=1:59

Key Excerpt:

    Howell: Do you ever think we will have any sort of hearings on Judge Merrick Garland or is it a foregone conclusion that this is just kind of DOA?

    Kirk: “I think that given Mitch’s view, I don’t see his view changing too much. You know, eventually, we’ll have an election and we will have a new President. The new President will obviously come forward with a nomination. And that’s all for the politics of a new time.

* From the actual WLS news story

Illinois Republican U.S. Senator Mark Kirk says his fellow Republicans should “man up” and vote one way or the other on President Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee Merrick Garland.

Kirk told “The Big John Howell Show” on WLS, “Just man up and cast a vote. The tough thing about these Senatorial jobs is you get yes or no votes. Your whole job is to either say yes or no, and explain why.” […]

Kirk admits it is not likely that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will change his mind on the issue.

…Adding… Hilarious comment…

DPI is one to talk about pushing a chamber’s leader for an up or down vote on something the public wants.

Exactly right.

Can’t anybody play this game?

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


The Dan Proft scorecard

Friday, Mar 18, 2016

* That Chris Harris race was more of a onetime lark, so I don’t count it as a Dan Proft “loss.” If you look at the races where Proft’s Liberty Principles PAC was all-in, he did pretty darned well, winning 6 out of 8

* In comparison, IllinoisGO went 2 for 5, but they really didn’t have much to do with those two claimed wins

Rep. Mitchell won by 12 points and ILGO’s spending was small compared to the grand total. Sen. Van Pelt won by 36 points.

Proft, on the other hand, was the dominant player in all of those races and gets much of the credit for the wins.

* Daily Herald

The Liberty Principles political action committee, run by conservative radio host Dan Proft and paid for in part by a group supporting Gov. Bruce Rauner, spent big on two Republican candidates in the suburbs.

Proft’s group spent $493,567 in support of Dan McConchie, a Hawthorn Woods Republican running to replace state Sen. Dan Duffy, according to IllinoisElectionData.com. That’s an effort run by Scott Kennedy, a data expert tracking Statehouse campaigns across Illinois. […]

He declared victory late Thursday after vote-counting delays.

Illinois House hopeful Allen Skillicorn of East Dundee, who won his primary race to replace Rep. Mike Tryon, got a boost from Liberty Principles, too. The group spent $456,963 on his race.

* Another one

Former state Rep. Brad Halbrook of Shelbyville, aided by the fundraising muscle of Gov. Bruce Rauner and his allies, Tuesday defeated two other candidates to win the Republican nomination in the 102nd House District.

Halbrook defeated Jim Acklin of Ogden and Randy Peterson of Paris, taking 43.6 percent of the vote to 38 percent for Acklin and about 18.4 percent for Peterson. […]

Halbrook raised $96,746 since Oct. 1, most of it from Gov. Rauner, to whom the Shelbyville farmer pledged allegiance, saying he would vote for every part of the governor’s “turnaround agenda.” Not only did Halbrook get $53,000 from the Citizens for Rauner campaign fund, he also was the only individual candidate this year to receive a personal campaign contribution from the governor and his wife. Both of the Rauners gave Halbrook’s campaign $5,400.

In addition, a superPAC known as Liberty Principles PAC, funded largely by the governor and his allies, gave the Halbrook campaign about $300,000 in campaign aid, including television and radio advertisements and mailings.

* More

Brandi McGuire took about 59 percent of the vote to beat Jordan Thoms who had 41 percent with most precincts reporting.

Both candidates were political newcomers but Ms. McGuire was helped by $185,000 in outside money that came from Liberty Principles, a super PAC chaired by conservative talk show host Dan Proft with close ties to Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Ms. McGuire said would start formulating her plan to beat Mr. Halpin today and said she was confident she would prevail in a district that has long been in Democratic hands.

“The people of this district deserve to be heard,” she said. “I am just a regular person, a mother of a middle class family, and I think Springfield needs people like me.”

* More

Phillips, 62, of Charleston, was first elected in 2014. Phillips pulled in 10,920 to 7,387, for about 59.6 percent. Kaye, 54, of Toledo, owns Cedar Ridge Nursery.

Phillips called the race “grueling.” He also said his short time as a freshman representative has been an “eye-opening” experience in Springfield.

“I was naive,” Phillips said. “It is like pulling teeth to get anything done in Springfield.”

* More

Paul Schimpf: 18,277

Sharee Langenstein: 9,094

- Posted by Rich Miller   61 Comments      


Oppo smear or legit hit?

Friday, Mar 18, 2016

* Rep. Phelps is a Tier One target and this is exactly the sort of thing that can be easily twisted into a very nasty ad campaign

[Rep. Brandon Phelps’ campaign] expenditures in 2015 included a $1,100 donation to the Central Florida Shootout, a fishing tournament in the Sunshine State. He said in an interview that he did not attend the tournament. He spent time at Lake of the Ozarks last summer and also went to Las Vegas in January 2015 to attend the Shot Show, a gun exposition. The tab for his stay at the Hard Rock Hotel during the gun show came to $1,340. Coincidentally or not, Adult Video News was holding its annual adult entertainment convention, which draws crowds of porn stars and their fans, at the Hard Rock at the same time as the gun show was in town.

Phelps said that the National Rifle Association arranged for his lodging and that he did not rub shoulders with porn stars. He says that he checked out when he discovered that porn stars were coming.

“When I heard that, I left early,” Phelps says. “They (the porn convention) came in the day after I left, supposedly. I was not there. God knows that I was not.”

The events did overlap (here and here). But Rep. Phelps’ explanation is buttressed by the fact that the adult entertainment show didn’t start until the day after the gun show started. That timeline conveniently wasn’t mentioned in the story, even though it took all of a minute to find with the Google.

I’ve asked Phelps for any receipt or proof that he checked out of the hotel early, but he’s at his eye doctor (he lost the use of an eye in an ATV incident years ago) in St. Louis and won’t be back home until the evening.

- Posted by Rich Miller   45 Comments      


Volunteers behaving horribly

Friday, Mar 18, 2016

* Glad to see this

In a case that touched on free speech limits, gun control, same-sex marriage and Sarah Palin, a Chicago man was found guilty Thursday of threatening a west suburban state representative.

Stephen Bona, 52, was convicted on two felony counts of threatening a public official by DuPage County jurors, who listened to a day of testimony Wednesday and then deliberated about 90 minutes after listening to closing arguments. Jurors acquitted him on one count related to threatening property damage.

Bona, who is gay, left a voice message for Republican state Rep. Jeanne Ives in March 2013 that was prompted by statements Ives made in a radio interview in opposition to same-sex marriage.

Ugh

Bona left his messages, with statements such as “we know where you live,” “there’s no longer a ban on assault weapons” and “think about that before you speak next time” after the legislator made statements on a radio program about same-sex marriage and concealed carry gun laws.

“Your Tea Party brethren, Sarah Palin, put up a map that included the names, locations, faces of Democratic candidates and put them in the cross hairs of a gun. Perhaps we should do the same for you,” Bona said, according to DuPage County court documents provided by his defense in early 2014.

The man was completely unrepentant

Bona testified Tuesday that he never intended to threaten Ives but merely wanted to make her think seriously about and change her stance on the issues of gay marriage and gun control.

After Thursday’s verdict, DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin disagreed with Richards’ assessment.

“The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees everyone the right to free speech. What the First Amendment does not do, however, is to allow free speech to digress into threats against public employees or elected officials,” Berlin said. “These men and women who have chosen public service must be allowed to do their jobs without having to worry about their personal safety or the safety of their families.”

* Uh-oh

Two people are accused of attacking local politician, Robert Zwolinski, with a staple gun. Both volunteered for the campaign of Illinois Rep. Cynthia Soto, who he ran against this week.

Jessica Soto and Bradley Fichter, both 26, each face multiple charges in connection with the beating. Police said Zwolinski was attacked outside his campaign office in the 800-block of North Ashland Avenue around 9:15 p.m. on March 6.

Zwolinski said he saw Jessica Soto and Fichter were putting up signs near his office. When he approached them, both allegedly started hitting him and struck him in the head with a bottle and staple gun before running away. […]

An attorney representing Soto and Fichter said the two are volunteers for Soto. He said his clients are innocent and Zwolinski started the fight.

Fichter filed his own police report, but he was charged with false report of offense.

That false report charge is gonna blow out his self defense case.

* Ugh

“Hey, Danny Solis. This is Eddie Jr. Let me tell you something, m————,” begins the phone message that Solis found sufficiently threatening to file a police report Wednesday.

Solis identified the voice of the caller as Eddie Acevedo Jr., son of state Rep. Eddie Acevedo (D-Chicago), who is retiring after 20 years in the Legislature. […]

Just hours before the call to Solis came in at 12:40 a.m., awakening the alderman and his wife, unofficial election returns had given the Acevedos some bad news.

They had failed in their effort to install Alex Acevedo, Eddie Sr.’s son and Eddie Jr.’s brother, as the father’s replacement.

Instead, the winner by 500 votes was Theresa Mah, who rode a wave of ethnic pride in Chinatown and the endorsements of key Latino leaders including U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez to win the Democratic nomination.

It gets worse.

Alex Acevedo called Solis to apologize. Alex is a good guy. His brother, however, ought to man up.

* Related…

* Bernie Sanders’ supporter leaves feces in front of East Moline pizza shop owned by former congressman [NSFW]

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      


Tilting at windmills

Friday, Mar 18, 2016

* Monique

The Senate and House will be on spring break until the first week in April, prompting criticism from Rauner, who said lawmakers should stay in town to negotiate a budget fix. But the real deal-making usually comes behind closed doors among the governor and legislative leaders, who have not met face to face in months.

That last sentence (which, unfortunately is at the end of the story) is exactly right. The governor has not called a leaders meeting since December. Madigan didn’t attend that one, but he may have had an excuse (a grandchild was being born).

But it’s now the middle of March, for crying out loud. There is no substitute for face to face meetings.

- Posted by Rich Miller   69 Comments      


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* Reading and slave insurrection.
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* Governor Bruce Rauner Honors Carnegie Hero From Buffalo Grove
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