Secretary of State's spokesman Dave Druker says a bomb threat was called into a legislative office for the fourth floor of the Capitol. Authorities are searching the fourth floor. House and Senate, with chambers on third floor, have recessed and evacuated.
* Inauguration day for governors is the second Monday of January. The General Assembly’s official start date is the second Wednesday of January. January starts on a Tuesday next year, so the second Monday is the 14th. The legislature’s second Wednesday is the 9th. That means Gov. Rauner, and not JB Pritzker, will be presiding over the Senate on the 9th when its members are sworn into office and elect its president…
Senate Democrats met last night and decided to re-elect John Cullerton as Senate President. The official vote on the Senate floor won’t happen until January 9th. For a brief moment, @GovRauner will preside over the State Senate, as instructed by the state Constitution.
The oddest Senate swearing-in I ever saw was in 2009, when Gov. Rod Blagojevich presided over the chamber after he’d already been impeached by the House and just a few weeks before the Senate removed him from office.
* The Question: Any snarky predictions for the Senate ceremony on January 9?
Sneed has learned that mayoral candidate Susana Mendoza has chosen Kathy Byrne, the daughter of former mayor Jane Byrne, to be the chairperson of her campaign.
Reached by phone, Kathy Byrne said, “I am thrilled that Susana chose me for this job. And I look forward to working for the second woman who may become mayor of Chicago. I’ve been impressed with her for a long time. I’ve watched her performance. She has got some strength [to stand up] against all the bullyboys, and I look forward to fighting on her behalf for the people of Chicago.”
* Garry McCarthy…
The voters have been duped again as another ‘Machine Democrat,’ Susana Mendoza, following the lead of her Democratic Party boss, Toni Preckwinkle, just got elected to one position, but now wants another. Both are entering the mayor’s race after Rahm Emanuel dropped out. My question is, where was their commitment and courage when Rahm was still in the race?
Um, if she’s “following the lead” of her party boss, wouldn’t she stay out of the race?
* Paul Vallas…
Susana Mendoza’s assertion that she fought Rahm Emanuel’s efforts to drastically raise city sticker prices is absurd. As news stories earlier this year by WBEZ and ProPublica painfully show, Mendoza pushed a draconian city sticker penalty program that led to the financial ruin of thousands of Chicago’s neediest families. While she proclaims herself the enemy of bullies, she seems most adept at bullying Chicago’s most disadvantaged into bankruptcy court.
“Before the election last Tuesday, Susana Mendoza was disingenuous and mislead the public when she said she was focused on her race for Comptroller. A leaked campaign video revealed she was already planning on running for Mayor. Now Mendoza says she’s concerned about high taxes, but she spent a decade in Springfield working with Mike Madigan to raise taxes on hardworking, middle-class families. The last thing the City of Chicago needs is another self-serving politician like Suzana Mendoza.” - ILGOP Chairman Tim Schneider
When he first decided to run for Illinois Secretary of State, Grundy County State’s Attorney Jason Helland planned to run a fiscally responsible campaign. He purchased a used Ford Crown Victoria from the Elgin Police Department for $600 with every intention of driving it until it died.
And it did die, at the Love’s Truck Stop in Utica, one night in January as he was heading out to a State of the Union watch party in Henry County. Helland said he opened the hood to see a spark plug sitting on top of the engine.
“I wanted to prove to the taxpayers of the state of Illinois that you need to live within your means and government needs to live within its means and I was driving that car to prove that,” he said.
He was stuck, not even his wife would pick him up. He soon bought a new Ford Fiesta, but even that broke down by election night.
Looks like he was proved wrong about living within your means, especially since not even his own wife would pick him up.
By the way, Helland, who lobbed several ageist attacks against Jesse White, lost his home county to the incumbent by about 1,200 votes.
Because thousands of Democratic votes were miraculously found in Florida’s heavily Democratic Broward County after polls were closed on Election Day.
The Republican candidate for Senate, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, had the votes to declare victory. On Tuesday night. And Republican Ron DeSantis, the candidate for governor, had the votes to win. On Tuesday night.
But after Wednesday morning, and with those thousands of votes coming in, things changed. […]
Ballots were found in abandoned boxes and other mysterious places. And ballots that were supposed to be kept separate from other ballots were mysteriously mixed together.
Further, Rubio shared the account of a lone box labeled “Provisional Ballot Box” left at a county elementary school that served as a polling precinct. But the reporter who originally flagged the abandoned box later walked it back, citing another local reporter who tweeted a photo showing the apparent container filled with little more than supplies.
On Friday, the three-person canvassing board — on which Snipes usually sits — found about 20 of those 205 votes had mismatched signatures and declared them illegal. That means there are at least 20 illegal votes mixed into an anonymous pile of 205, all sitting in a machine that counted them but did not add them to the final count. […]
Republican Party lawyers immediately pressed Snipes about the future of those 205 votes and if they’d be counted. Snipes declined to answer and continued judging signatures on remaining ballots. There is no statute guiding what happens next. [Emphasis added]
Ugh. 185 legitimate voters may now be disenfranchised because of that stupid error.
* Florida is a weird and goofy place and I ain’t gonna ever defend it. I only bring all this up because his entire “On Tuesday night” premise is just flat-out ridiculous and even dangerously undemocratic. Election outcomes aren’t decided on Tuesday night. Outcomes are officially decided when all the votes have been counted by the deadline day. In Illinois’ case, that deadline is next Tuesday.
And as you can see by looking at the far right hand side of this website, Sen. Mike Connelly is now trailing his Democratic opponent by 512 votes. “On Tuesday night” Connelly was leading by 12. Should Connelly have been declared the winner “on Tuesday night”? Absolutely not. Hundreds and hundreds of legitimately cast ballots hadn’t been counted “on Tuesday night.”
Why weren’t they counted? Well, people are humans and they need sleep “on Tuesday night” is one reason. Some mailed-in ballots postmarked by the deadline hadn’t (and some still haven’t) arrived is another. Provisional ballots hadn’t (and some still haven’t) yet been determined to be valid.
If you click here, you’ll see the remaining ballots left to be counted in every Illinois election jurisdiction. They have another six days to figure this out.
Robert Werderich used to pay the property taxes he owed for operating his Illinois Aviation Academy out of space he rents from the DuPage Airport Authority.
But he stopped paying years ago, which explains why his company now owes $187,937 in back taxes to 13 taxing bodies, including the airport itself.
Werderich is exploiting a loophole in the state property tax law that fails to penalize tenants operating businesses on government property who ignore property tax bills because the property can’t be seized for noncompliance. […]
Werderich is among at least seven current or former tenants of the airport that owe nearly $770,000 in back taxes, according to property tax sale information released by DuPage County Treasurer Gwen Henry.
The tax sale is where delinquent property taxes are purchased by investors who will either receive interest from the property owner to clear the debt or — after a couple years of nonpayment — be allowed to claim the deed on the land. However, Henry said, no one wants to buy the tax debt for the airport tenants because they can never claim the deed because it’s government land.
There’s also no mechanism to force the tenants to pay the tax obligation.
And if it’s happening there, you gotta wonder if it’s happening elsewhere.
Rob is a farmer, sportsman, entrepreneur, former high school agriculture teacher, current director of the Madison County Career and Technical Education System and a very good friend of mine who was born and raised in rural Madison County.
Direct Energy is a proud supporter of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH). Since Direct Energy’s relationship with CMNH began in 2015, the company has donated $116,300 to Lurie Children’s Hospital. In addition to funds, employees from Direct Energy’s Buffalo Grove and Oak Brook offices have volunteered at the Hospital and its outpatient centers.
In January, the Chicago-area offices help Lurie celebrate National Reading Day with a book donation. In the past two years, Direct Energy has donated more than 200 books.
Lurie Children’s is just one of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Direct Energy supports across North America. For the company’s support, CMNH inducted Direct Energy into the Miracle Millions Club, the international recognition program for corporate partners that raise more than $1 million annually.
According to the Illinois State Police, which is in charge of the labs that process evidence, the average time to process DNA evidence for all cases, including sexual assaults, is 285 days. They do not track average processing times specifically for rape kits, but for the quarter ending Sept. 30, 2,079 sexual assault and abuse cases were awaiting analysis, and 586 of these had been received between 181 and 365 days earlier.
In 2010, Illinois was the first state to enact a law requiring that all rape kits be tested, and in the years since, forensic scientists have worked their way through the influx of kits at labs. In August, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation requiring hospitals to have nurses trained to collect evidence, which advocates say will improve evidence and bolster prosecutions. […]
The Illinois commission modeled its proposal on a system being piloted in Michigan. There, the state began a tracking system in one county in August and is working toward a statewide launch. Michigan law mandates a 90-day turnaround time if the lab has adequate resources and personnel. In the last year, evidence was processed in an average of 84 days. Michigan’s system costs about $700,000 per year, including technical upkeep and a 24/7 help desk to assist with any technical issues as people try to access updates. […]
Arlene Hall, commander of Illinois State Police’s Forensic Sciences Command, hopes to quicken the pace of processing, ideally to within six months. She said labs are always evaluating how to improve, including the use of robotics to automate more processing. As of June, ISP had 63 forensic scientists working on DNA testing, below the 81 needed to address new cases and reduce the backlog, according to ISP’s annual report. Hall said ISP plans to hire five more forensic scientists in December.
One of the things I discussed with JB Pritzker last week was this “hollowing out” of state government for the past decade or more. Before he runs ahead with new programs, he needs to get everybody else up and walking and eliminate or reduce programs that are soaking up precious resources.
Testing rape kits should simply not take this long. It’s an abdication of responsibility and duty.
* Meanwhile, I love that these good folks are doing this and you should definitely head over there today and buy some tasty treats, but the plight of homeless veterans and their families is yet another responsibility that the government isn’t doing enough about…
House Speaker Michael Madigan, who also chairs the Democratic Party of Illinois, gave indication on Tuesday that Democratic leaders will present a unified front.
He told reporters he’s had several “very friendly and very productive” conversations with Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker since last week’s election, and that he backs two of Pritkzer’s major campaign promises – legalizing marijuana, and moving from a flat to a graduated income tax. […]
Madigan helped to draft the current constitution, which forbids taxing on an income-based sliding scale; it would be difficult to amend the state constitution without his muscle.
It should come as little surprise that the two are in sync; finance records show Pritkzer gave $7 million to Madigan’s campaign committees, funding that helped Madigan achieve the supermajority.
For Republicans, there is a cautious optimism about Pritzker’s promise of bi-partisanship.
“I spoke to him last week and I had a very nice conversation with him on election night and I’ll have to take him at his word, and so we will, like anything else I’ll operate in good faith until I’m shown otherwise,” said state Rep. Jim Durkin, House Republican Leader. […]
The same could not be said about the relationship between Speaker Madigan and Governor Rauner who was asked how he thought Rauner would be remembered.
“Oh, I’m not going to get into that, I’m just happy that he’s leaving,” Madigan said.
* Barickman: Republicans Split On Legalizing Marijuana: “Republicans are split on this issue,” Barickman said. “There are certain Republican voters who are opposed to any form of legalization, including medical, which is the law of the land in Illinois. They’re opposed for a host of reasons, and I’m very respectful of that. I hear that. I’m not dismissive of their opposition. I’ve also heard from Republican party chairmen to tea party activists to plain old Republican voters who say, look, tax and regulate it. That’s the proper role of government on this one,” he added. “So there’s a group of Republicans who support the position I’ve staked out here.”
* Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker gives $7 million to House Speaker Michael Madigan-backed campaign fund: “It was probably a third of what was spent” on House races, Brown said. “We had a broad array of candidates — very good candidates — up and down the state and it helped up and down the state.” “You had this constant array of smears from the Rauner people and all their different allies, and you had to combat that,” Madigan said, referring to Gov. Bruce Rauner, who along with other Republicans painted the longtime speaker as the poster child for the state’s troubles.
The Abe Lincoln in Springfield on Tuesday was definitely a fake.
The jury is still out on Abe’s beaver-fur stovepipe hat.
But the dwindling patience of state lawmakers was very real.
A Lincoln impersonator helped kick off the Illinois General Assembly’s fall veto session when he appeared before the House tourism committee along with officials of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Foundation.
It was all part of an attempt to get state funds to help preserve artifacts connected to the 16th president and to remind state lawmakers that Lincoln’s legacy should extend beyond the controversial stovepipe hat.
“I commonly have carried my notes in my hat, but that appears to be a contentious issue right now so I shall forbear it,” the impersonator, Randy Duncan, said before reading his introductory statement.
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum staffers who testified before the House Tourism Committee said it would be a “tragedy” if the loan isn’t repaid and the Lincoln memorabilia in the Taper collection had to be sold at auction.
Some skeptical lawmakers, however, said there needs to be greater oversight of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation and that the case still hasn’t been made for the state to pay off the remaining $9.2 million owed on the loan to acquire the collection.
“I think we still have questions on how the foundation is going to move forward in paying down the debt,” Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, said after the hearing. “Certainly no plan was presented today.”
He said that “given the questions surrounding not just the history of the hat but the whole operations of the foundation,” it’s a “hard ask” of state government to provide the money to pay off the loan.
Although the loan isn’t due until October, time is of the essence. Foundation executive officer Carla Knorowski said a decision will have to be made by the end of December on whether to proceed with auctioning off additional parts of the collection. Some items not connected to Lincoln or which were duplicated have already been auctioned. She said that even those few items required a lead time of several months for the auction house.
Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office says it supports a “vibrant” Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum but wants more information before committing state money toward $9 million owed on a collection of 1,500 Lincoln artifacts. […]
The foundation wants $5 million in tourism tax funds to encourage other contributors. Foundation CEO Carla Knorowski told a House committee Tuesday that Rauner’s office had committed the money last spring but backed off.
Rauner spokeswoman Elizabeth Tomev says the governor’s office asked for a detailed business plan and other debt-repayment information. She says, “We continue to work to gather relevant information.”
I dunno, maybe lawmakers could think about a loan? That way, nobody is rewarded for alleged bad behavior, but the entire collection is kept in-state.
Susana Mendoza launched her campaign for Mayor of Chicago this morning, committing to a vision that invests in the future of Chicago and its neighborhoods.
A fiscal watchdog and fierce proponent of government transparency, Mendoza has spent the past two years leading the resistance against Governor Bruce Rauner while expanding government transparency and cutting the state’s bill backlog in half as the twice-elected Illinois Comptroller. Her campaign released a video Wednesday morning announcing her candidacy.
“Chicago is so many things: gritty, hardworking, welcoming,” Mendoza says in the video. “It’s a city of neighborhoods, of all kinds of people. And it must become the city of the future.”
In addition to her work as Comptroller, Mendoza has a long record of public service as a state representative in the Illinois Legislature, where she wrote and passed legislation that saved the jobs of 3,000 teachers who would have lost them due to antiquated immigration rules and created the Illinois School Breakfast Program. As Chicago City Clerk, Mendoza modernized the city’s 105 year-old sticker program so people would not have to wait in line for hours and fought Mayor Emanuel’s efforts to dramatically raise city sticker prices.
Mendoza, 46, was born in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood but at age 7 her family was forced to move after someone was murdered on their block.
“My parents were like so many parents traumatized by gun violence every day in this city,” Mendoza said. “They felt like they had to leave. No family should have to leave their city because their neighborhood isn’t safe.”
After graduating from college, Mendoza moved back to Little Village because she wanted to make a difference there for other families. She was elected to six terms, representing the Southwest side district in the Illinois House of Representatives.
“What happens in any neighborhood, what happens anywhere, affects all of us everywhere,” Mendoza said. “Every parent in Chicago should be able to expect that when they send their child to a neighborhood school, they will get a good education and, most importantly, they’ll come home safely.”
Mendoza certainly understands the importance of safe neighborhoods and a quality education. She and her husband, David, currently live in Chicago’s Portage Park neighborhood with their 5-year-old son who attends a neighborhood Chicago Public School. And they know what it’s like to get a big property tax hike in the mail.
“The job of mayor isn’t for a caretaker or someone who protects the status quo,” Mendoza said.
“Every Chicagoan deserves a mayor who every waking moment, every day asks herself one fundamental question: Did I do enough?”
“This election is about the next generation, not just the next four years.”