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ILGOP pledges to “continue to oppose taxpayer funding of abortion”

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2019

* Didn’t Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner sign HB40 into law? Wasn’t he the guy who essentially funded the ILGOP for five years? I guess times truly have changed…

Yesterday, Governor J.B. Pritzker issued an executive order concerning taxpayer-funded abortion and stated Illinois will be the “most progressive state in the nation” on abortion under his administration. Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Aaron DeGroot issued the following statement in response:

    “Making Illinois the ‘most progressive state in the nation’ on taxpayer-funded abortion is not something to be proud of. Rather, it’s tragic. At a time when our state budget is strained already, allowing this new and unfettered entitlement program to continue is beyond fiscally irresponsible. The Illinois Republican Party is deeply disappointed in Governor Pritzker’s executive order and will continue to oppose taxpayer funding of abortion.”

* From 2017

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider released the following statement after Governor Rauner announced he will be signing House Bill 40 into law:

    “I am disappointed in the Governor’s decision to sign HB40 as the Illinois Republican Party opposes taxpayer-funded abortions.

    “While I am frustrated and saddened, I also know that Speaker Madigan and the Democrats are trying to use this issue to divide our party and elect a Madigan-backed candidate for governor.

    “As Chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, I will not let that happen. Our state faces great challenges, and we are focused on the issues that unite us as Republicans and as Illinoisans. There is no daylight between Governor Rauner and the Illinois Republican Party and we will continue working hard to ensure his reelection and finally defeat Mike Madigan once and for all.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


The Madigan PR campaign continues

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2019

* Press release…

House Speaker Michael J. Madigan and members of the House Democratic Women’s Caucus are calling on the Trump administration to stop a plan to roll back protections against sexual harassment in public schools and college campuses.

Madigan, Assistant Majority Leader Kelly Burke and House education committee chairs Michelle Mussman, Rita Mayfield and Sue Scherer are working with the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) to submit public testimony to Trump’s Department of Education ahead of a vote this week on proposed rule changes that would make it harder for students to report abuse.

“Here in Illinois we have taken important steps to allow all students learn and reach their full potential in an environment free of harassment, but the Trump administration’s extreme ideology is threatening to take our schools backwards,” Madigan said. “No student should face harassment in school, but the administration’s onerous new rules would silence survivors and create an environment where unacceptable behavior is ignored, excused or accepted as normal. We will not sit back and allow this to happen.”

Madigan, Burke and fellow House Democrats have submitted letters decrying the Trump administration’s proposed changes to Title IX. Under the proposed rules, schools would no longer be required to take action on complaints made to teachers and counselors; only reports made to the few school employees with “authority to institute corrective measures” would require follow up. When an investigation does occur, the rules would require schools to assume no harassment had occurred, and schools would be encouraged to use a standard of proof the NWLC says “stacks the deck against survivors.” Additionally, schools would also be required to ignore harassment that occurs outside of a school activity, including most off-campus and online harassment, even if a student must see her assailant each day at school.

“The House Democratic Women’s Caucus and Speaker Madigan are dedicated to working together to create a culture free of harassment. But the Trump administration’s policies undermine these efforts in our schools, where we can least afford it,” Burke said. “The administration’s message to young people is that they should remain silent. In Illinois, we will do the opposite. We will speak up on behalf of survivors and continue to work toward a better culture for all.”

Citizens can join House Democrats in expressing concern about the Trump administration’s proposed changes to Title IX by joining NWLC letter campaign to submit testimony to the Department of Education at ilhousedems.com and facebook.com/HouseDemsIL.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


Climate change denier warns of mob violence if renewable energy is expanded

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2019

* From the Illinois News Network’s story on today’s executive order committing Illinois to the Paris Climate Agreement

Climate Science Coalition Executive Director Steve Goreham said there is demonstrable evidence that the more renewable energy injected into the power grid, the higher the utility cost will be for ratepayers. He said that could lead to ratepayer revolts that have been seen in other countries.

“If you look around the world we’re seeing ratepayer revolts already,” Goreham said. “The most visible one is the yellow jackets in Paris regarding a fuel tax that [French] President Emmanuel Macron was putting on.”

In December, Macron suspended France’s gasoline tax increase after weeks of violent protests.

More info on Mr. Goreham is here, here, here, here, here and here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      


Pritzker, Frerichs announce loan program for furloughed federal workers

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2019

* Since this will be run through the state’s linked deposit program, the only state cost will be lost investment returns…

Governor JB Pritzker joined Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs to announce a $100 million program to fund zero or low-interest loans so furloughed federal workers who live in Illinois can pay their bills during the partial federal government shutdown.

In addition, the Governor called on lenders doing business in the State of Illinois to waive fees and provide other support to furloughed workers, especially as they deal with mortgage payments, student loans and car loans. Lenders that have already agreed to participate are listed online at www.illinois.gov/shutdownaid; their assistance ranges from deferments on loans to 0 percent interest to assisting individuals on a case-by-case basis.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is also offering winter heating assistance to qualified federal workers through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Federal workers whose last 30 day income has been impacted by the federal shutdown can find a complete listing of LIHEAP’s local administering agencies and additional information about the programhere, or call the LIHEAP toll-free hotline at 1‑877‑411-WARM (9276).

More than 8,000 federal employees who live in Illinois have been affected by the partial shutdown that began Dec. 22. Nationally, the figure is more than 800,000.

“Through no fault of their own, federal employees living in Illinois are not receiving their paychecks while expenses continue to pile up,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “We have an obligation as a state to do everything we can to help those paying a direct price for the actions of the president. This loan program will help those struggling to meet their day-to-day expenses as the shutdown drags on. My administration is continuing to explore all possible options to shore up critical services that receive federal funding, to make sure our most vulnerable families are protected from the harm the Trump shutdown might cause, and to assist impacted federal employees.”

The “linked” deposit loan program will be run by the Treasurer’s office in partnership with various banks and credit unions across the state. The Treasurer’s office will make deposits in participating financial institutions, allowing these institutions to provide below-market rates to federal workers who qualify for the program. For example, the state might offer a deposit at 0.01 percent if the financial institution agrees to loan out the money to federal works at 0.0 percent. Specific rates and terms of eligibility will vary by institution.

“This program will help bring relief for working families impacted by this impasse,” said Treasurer Michael Frerichs. “The President shut down the federal government and threatened the livelihood of thousands of families in Illinois to play political games. Difficult policy debates are a hallmark of government, but we cannot let our disagreements hurt working families who want nothing more than to pay their bills, raise a family, and save for the future.”

“The Illinois Bankers Association’s 300 member banks stand with Governor Pritzker in his call to assist workers who are struggling with the federal government shutdown,” said Linda Koch, President & CEO, Illinois Bankers Association. “We are proud that banks throughout Illinois are offering help to federal employees and other businesses and individuals affected by the shutdown.”

“On behalf of the IBA Board of Directors, I thank Governor Pritzker for his leadership and call to action on this serious matter,” said Daniel P. Daly, Illinois Bankers Association Chairman and President & CEO, SENB Bank, Moline. “Illinois’ banking community takes pride in serving the needs of our customers, and certainly those individuals and businesses impacted by the shutdown are no exception. Our bank, and all Illinois banks, stand ready to help our customers through this hardship.”

“Based on the makeup of the membership, we have a number of the 270 credit unions in Illinois with a significant percentage of federal workers as members,” said Tom Kane, President Illinois Credit Union League. “Many of these credit unions have implemented formal programs to assist federal workers with special low or no interest payroll interruption loans, skip-a-payment options, or waiving penalties for cashing in a CD early. In addition, I would urge any furloughed federal employee who is a member of a credit union to stop into a branch and ask what they can do to help during this challenging time.”

A partial list of participating banks and credit unions offering assistance are below:

    1st Mid America
    Bank of America
    BMO Harris
    CIBC
    Citizens Equity First Credit Union (CEFCU)
    Community Plus Federal Credit Union
    First Midwest Bank
    Heartland Credit Union
    Home State Bank
    IH Mississippi Credit Union (IHMVCU)
    KCT Credit Union
    R.I.A. Federal Credit Union
    Scott Credit Union
    JP Morgan Chase
    SENB Bank
    SIU Credit Union
    University of Illinois Community Credit Union
    U.S. Bank
    U.S. Employee Credit Union
    Wells Fargo
    Wintrust
    Vibrant Credit Union

A full list services being provided by participating banks can be found here and participating credit unions can be found here. For more information on aid for federal workers during the shutdown visit the governor’s website at www.illinois.gov/shutdownaid. The site will be updated periodically with additional information.

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      


Today’s quotable

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2019

* WBEZ’s city hall reporter…



…Adding… The great Fran Spielman…



More

Ald. Carrie Austin (34th), the always outspoken Budget Committee Chairman, was suddenly speechless when asked to comment about Solis.

“Not about Danny. I might cry,” Austin said. “You don’t do that. You just don’t.”

Rules Committee Chairman Michelle Harris (8th) offered a variation on Don Corleon’s infamous admonishment to his son in the movie, “The Godfather”: “Don’t take sides against the family.”

“I try to think that we’re a family down here and we all work together. So, I got to say it’s probably a little disheartening for me,” Harris said.

…Adding… Paul Vallas…

My fellow candidates have been extremely and unusually quiet today, so let me be the first to call out the latest episode around corruption at City Hall. I said it first and I will say it again – there is a “code of silence” amongst Chicago’s political elite – including many elected and appointed officials and those who lobby to them, many of whom have made generational wealth of the city. Today’s revelation that Alderman Solis wore a wire to tape criminally-charged Alderman Ed Burke is just the latest scandal at City Hall.

There was a code of silence around Laquan McDonald and cover up of the video tape. There was a code of silence around former Country Assessor Berrios and his outrageous tax assessment practices that punished working families. There was a code of silence around the $22 million no-bid contract that landed CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett in prison. There was a code of silence around Emanuel and McCarthy’s degradation and scapegoating of the police department. This has got to stop!

There are only two reasons someone would wear a wire when conversing with public servants: they are in trouble themselves and are seeking to lighten the consequences through cooperation, or they have a sense of integrity. I won’t pretend to know which is the case in this instance of Alderman Solis taping conversations with the charged Alderman Ed Burke.

However, the sense of betrayal that is being expressed today by some other aldermen is frankly disgusting. One alderman said Solis was like “family,” with the clear inference that Solis betrayed the family. If there is a family of aldermen like that, then it is a crime family with a code of silence – and every one of the machine candidates who got into this race after Emanuel bowed out is connected to Alderman Burke in some way or another. I will be holding a press conference tomorrow to talk more about those connections. It is time for a clean sweep at City Hall. We need a Mayor and a City Council that are honest and puts our citizens first.

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      


A twofer for Preckwinkle

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2019

* Some interesting layers to this Tribune story. First

Ald. Edward Burke’s son was under internal investigation for allegedly making inappropriate sexual comments at the sheriff’s office when Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s administration hired him to a nearly $100,000 per year job, newly released records show. […]

One investigation began after a female sheriff’s employee alleged that Burke was “consistently disrespectful of women,” talked about sex acts and would leave the office by saying, “I’m leaving, going to watch the girls on Rush Street,” records show.

Preckwinkle’s office denies knowing anything about that investigation.

* Preckwinkle and Sheriff Tom Dart have feuded for years, so this is also a fascinating angle

[The female sheriff’s employee] also said Burke called himself “the law,” claimed to have “tapes” that would “humiliate” Dart, vowed to run for sheriff and said he would fire a bunch of employees when he won, records show. […]

A male lieutenant filed a separate complaint from a female employee against Burke, claiming he made false allegations against the supervisor and had said publicly he had $11 million for a sheriff’s run.

The lieutenant quoted Burke saying that if anything happened to him as a result of his own complaint against the supervisor, “his father (Ald. Burke) would take care of it,” according to the records.

Rumors about the younger Burke challenging Dart circulated for quite a while. So, Preckwinkle got a twofer. She did a solid for a powerful alderman and hired someone who thoroughly despised Dart, which probably irked the sheriff.

Also, I don’t hate patronage because people who campaigned for their bosses get jobs. That’s never really bothered me. I hate patronage when connected, self-entitled swellheads think they can’t ever be touched (and rarely are) no matter what they do. The world would be a much better place if politicians would stop protecting their mopes. But that won’t happen, obviously.

* In other news

At the first City Council Finance Committee meeting in decades without embattled Ald. Edward Burke in charge of the body, aldermen on Tuesday took a step toward giving up the $100 million-per-year workers’ compensation program he has long tightly controlled with little oversight.

Ald. Patrick O’Connor ran his first meeting as chairman of the committee weeks after federal authorities charged Burke with attempted extortion and he stepped down from the powerful post. Burke did not attend Tuesday’s meeting as O’Connor fielded questions from aldermen pushing for more transparency about how the opaque workers’ compensation program is run.

The committee voted to move workers’ compensation to the city Finance Department, a change Mayor Rahm Emanuel backed as one of several City Council reforms after the charges against Burke.

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Update to this morning’s edition

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2019

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Question of the day

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2019

* Scott Kennedy…



* The Question: Any other ideas for using the space? Snark is heavily encouraged, of course.

- Posted by Rich Miller   55 Comments      


First Class all the way

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2019

* Someone’s been drinking too much Potomac water during the government shutdown

With President Donald Trump and the GOP prolonging the partial government shutdown, a Republican lawmaker had an uncomfortable run-in Tuesday when a fellow airplane passenger found him flying first class from Chicago to Washington, D.C., according to a video of the encounter shared with HuffPost.

“Congressman, do you think it’s appropriate to fly first class while 57 TSA agents aren’t being paid?” the person says to Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), in an apparent reference to the Transportation Security Administration’s 57,000 employees, who are being required to work without pay. […]

Davis remained silent, prompting the person to say, “Taking that as a yes.”

“Taxpayers paid for this flight? Fair enough,” he added.

Not a good look.

* More

Davis spokesperson Ashley Phelps told the site that the lawmaker has never used tax-payer money to purchase first-class tickets, and did not do so for Tuesday’s flight.

Phelps said Davis’s office bought a coach ticket and was upgraded to first class because of his frequent flyer status.

“There was no additional cost to taxpayers,” she said.

OK, fine. I’ve taken upgrades before (the first time was when I was 16 and was delighted to be treated to champagne at takeoff). And the frequent flyer upgrades are allowed by congressional ethics rules. But it’s not like this hasn’t been an issue for Davis in the past. From the 2014 campaign

Eerily prescient right down to the shutdown.

Not to mention that an ad on endless loop supporting Davis last fall made a big issue out of his opponent’s membership in a local yacht club.

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


Manteno Veterans’ Home tests show “low levels of Legionellosis”

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2019

* Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs…

The safety and health of our residents and staff is the highest priority for the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs. To ensure that you are fully informed, I’m writing to provide information about a recent case of Legionellosis at the Manteno Veterans’ Home.

On January 8, 2019, a sole case of Legionellosis was detected in a resident who lived at the Manteno Veterans’ Home.

At the time of the diagnosis, we immediately put protocols into place out of an abundance of caution, including installing filters on all showerheads, conducting additional wellness checks on residents, conducting thermal eradication of our water, and increased flushing of the water system. Engineers also conducted additional testing of the water to determine whether there was a “false positive” or whether other locations in the facility had been impacted.

On January 22, 2019, the Manteno Veterans’ Home received our first preliminary water sample test results. These results showed low levels of Legionellosis at three fixtures: a faucet, a sink, and a shower. These three water fixtures were immediately taken out of service. To confirm these test results, the facility will undergo additional testing on Wednesday, January 23, 2019. Results for the second round of tests are expected on February 1, 2019 and we will promptly communicate those results to you and your family.

Through this period, we will support the care of residents and staff with filtered and bottled water. Bottled water and fresh ice are being delivered to the home for drinking and preparing meals. Filters in showers will remain in place until Legionella-free water test results are received. IDVA will continue increased resident vital sign checks. Legionella bacteria exist in most public places, and test results can vary day by day, which is why we will continue testing and keeping rigorous protocols in place to protect the health and safety of our residents and employees.

We will continue to inform you of developments moving forward. If you have any questions, please reach out to Tanya Huston, Manteno Home Administrator at (xxx) xxx-xxxx, ext. xxx. The State of Illinois will take every precaution necessary to protect our residents, staff, and visitors at the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Manteno.

Sincerely,

Brig Gen (R) Stephen Curda, Ph.D. Acting Director
Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA)

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      


Pritzker signs EO committing Illinois to Paris Climate Agreement

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2019

* Press release…

Surrounded by environmental advocates in the state capital’s Southwind Park, Governor JB Pritzker took executive action joining the U.S. Climate Alliance, becoming the 18th governor to uphold the environmental protections despite President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement.

“I ran on a bold agenda to protect our environment, help our workers thrive and build the 21st century economy our state deserves, and now I’m taking action to join the U.S. Climate Alliance and stand on the side of science and reason,” said Gov. JB Pritzker. “I’m proud to join the bipartisan coalition of governors and states committed to upholding the provisions of Paris Climate Agreement. While the president is intent on taking us backwards, I will work hard every day to move our state forward. We know that climate change is real. We know it’s a threat. And we know we must act.”

Advancing a key environmental priority, the governor officially signed on to the U.S. Climate Alliance which commits the state to the principles of the Paris Climate Agreement in order to protect Illinoisans from the damaging effects of climate change. President Trump pulled out of the international agreement on June 1, 2017.

Executive Order 2019-06 also directs the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to monitor the Trump Administration’s environmental proposals and identify opportunities to protect Illinoisans from environmental harm. The executive order takes effect immediately.

“Communities across America are facing the impacts of climate change. We need more leaders like Governor Pritzker that are committed to deploying climate solutions, promoting sustainable economic growth and creating high-quality jobs,” said Julie Cerqueira, executive director of the U.S. Climate Alliance. “We welcome the state of Illinois into the Alliance, and look forward to supporting their priorities and learning from their experience.”

“The governor’s commitment to clean energy will improve public health and bring new economic opportunities and investment to Illinois,” said Jennifer Walling, president of the Illinois Environmental Council. “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has found that we have just 12 years to limit carbon emissions in order to keep climate change at moderate levels. Governor Pritzker’s executive action commits Illinois to the goals of the U.S. Climate Alliance.”

“By joining the U.S. Climate Alliance as one of his first acts in office, Governor Pritzker is showing the world that, even though Donald Trump wants out of the clean energy economy, Illinois is all in,” said Jack Darin, director of Sierra Club Illinois. “We can and must reach these climate goals, and we know we need to do so in a way that puts our workers and disadvantaged communities first. We know Governor Pritzker shares these values and can unite Illinois in planning for the 100% clean energy future we all want, and that starts today.”

“Climate change is real and Illinoisans are already experiencing its harmful effects,” said Sen. Melinda Bush (D-31st), who chairs the Senate Energy and Environment committee. “I’m proud to stand with Gov. Pritzker in acknowledging science and taking action to preserve and protect our planet. We must make every effort to secure Illinois’ place as a leader in the green economy”

“The governor’s actions today will put Illinois at the forefront of efforts to develop and use clean energy and take concrete steps to reduct carbon emissions,” said Rep. Ann Williams (D-11th), who chairs the House Energy and Environment committee. “We must get serious about pushing back on the dangerous environmental policies of the Trump administration which have left our communities vulnerable and put the public health at risk. Today, under the leadership of Governor Pritzker, we’ve done just that.”

The EO is here.

One thing he could do is come up with some reasonable and uniform statewide siting requirements for solar and wind power to prevent local NIMBYs from stopping reasonable developments. Counties are developing patchwork quilts of regulations, some reasonable, some less so. We need to standardize this across the state, but the various interest groups haven’t been able to reach an agreement on their own. An engaged governor could knock some heads and offer some capital plan goodies to convince folks to go along.

…Adding… Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition…

While the Federal Government remains shut down, today’s announcement is an important reminder that the responsibility to protect citizens from the harms of climate change has fallen to the states. By signing on to the U.S. Climate Alliance, Governor J.B. Pritzker has taken an important first step in fulfilling his commitment to put Illinois on a path to 100% renewable energy by 2050, and he has demonstrated his leadership on climate action in the Midwest.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


The Dome is leaking

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2019

* Finke

Illinois officials are going to undertake a comprehensive study of the Capitol dome after secretary of state workers noticed small pieces of concrete fell from the inside portion of the outer dome.

Described as about the size of marbles, the pieces do not represent an emergency situation, said Harl Ray, senior project manager for Secretary of State Jesse White, whose office is in control of the Capitol. […]

There is space between the inner and outer domes, which is where the pieces concrete were seen. The metal skin of the outer dome is attached to lightweight concrete panels, which in turn are attached to the steel framework for the dome.

Ray said there is evidence of some leakage occurring in the outer dome, likely from places where the outer metal skin is bolted to the concrete panels. That probably has caused the pieces of concrete to fall. The last time the dome was patched for leaks was in 2000 or 2001, he said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


It’s Time To Put Our Progressive Values Into Action

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2019

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- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


More on Pritzker’s HB40 EO

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2019

* Sun-Times

Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday signed an executive order aimed at ensuring the state is properly enforcing a politically divisive law that allows for the taxpayer funding of abortions — saying he was “concerned” former Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration wasn’t “making sure that it was enforced for state government employees.” […]

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois said that within the past month, some state employees had received notices that abortion is now covered under their plan. The group says Rauner’s administration “didn’t really prioritize fully implementing and creating the mechanics for people to be able to easily access abortion through Medicaid.”

“We were concerned and are concerned that the leadership that Gov. Rauner had in place wasn’t in fact making sure that it was enforced for state government employees,” Pritzker said. “And of course more broadly we want to make sure that private and public health insurance coverage included it and that it’s enforced. So we had some indications, but the most important thing is we’re going to make sure that everyone, every woman in state government has the coverage that she deserves.”

You may recall that I asked the governor’s office yesterday about complaints or compliance issues with state employee group health insurance plans. I was referred to the ACLU of Illinois.

* Ed Yohnka with the ACLU…

Here is the information about the state insurance plans’ coverage of abortion. This is based on information we received via FOIA requests in 2017 and mid-2018.

The following plans do not appear to cover abortion in most circumstances. As of the time of our FOIAs, it appears these three plans covered nearly half of all enrollees.

    * Healthlink OAP. Appears to contain a life exception only. This plan does not renew until 2021.

    * Aetna QCHP. Appears to contain a life exception only. This plan does not renew until 2021.

    * Aetna HMO. Does not cover “elective abortion” or “abortion drugs.” This plan was renewed for FY2019. We do not have any more updated information to indicate if abortion was covered, but we believe it might not be.

The following plan just expanded its abortion coverage, but it is not complete.

    * Health Alliance HMO. Before viability, it now covers abortions determined by the physician to be necessary. After viability, the abortion is covered if the life of the mother is endangered, the fetus has a condition incompatible with life outside the uterus, or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. Based on the notice we received, it does not contain an exception post-viability for the health of the pregnant person.

Two other plans cover election abortions, but have a lifetime limit of two.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      


Yeah, that’ll work well

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2019

* Dispatch-Argus editorial

Clearly, mapmaking is a power that Madigan has no intention of ceding. So how to go forth? First, lawmakers can stop leaving the fight to others; that includes the U.S. Supreme Court. Those applauding the court’s decision to again hear a pair of gerrymandering cases this term should be careful what they wish for. The court’s new makeup has court observers worrying that the majority will protect, not reject, partisan maps.

That means Pritzker and Illinois lawmakers must take the matter out of justices’ hands by crafting a constitutional amendment that creates an independent commission to draw districts that let voters choose their political leaders and not the other way around, as well as answers the constitutional objections raised in past court challenges.

They must then demand en masse that Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton call identical bills — without amendments — for a vote. And Pritzker must sign it.

Um, governors don’t sign constitutional amendments. And governors who publicly and loudly demand things from Madigan don’t succeed. Perhaps the editorial board missed the last four years.

As I’ve said many times before, you don’t need a constitutional amendment to get a fairly drawn map. The best leverage Pritzker has is to stick to his March, 2018 pledge to veto any map “that is in any way drafted or created by legislators, political party leaders and/or their staffs or allies.” If their super-majorities hold up, the Democratic leaders will try to override a map veto in 2021. Then it’ll be up to Pritzker to pick off as many members as he can to prevent the override.

But, think about it, if the Democratic leaders do wind up overriding a governor’s veto of an unfair map, there’s no way in Hades their members would’ve ever approved a constitutional amendment to remove that power from them and no amount of yelling at the clouds will do any good. The only leverage Pritzker would have at that point would be to threaten to do something drastic like shut down the government or something, and we’ve all seen how that turns out.

* News-Gazette editorial

CHANGE Illinois wants legislation or a proposed state constitutional amendment that will strip legislative leaders of their map-drawing authority and transfer it to a bipartisan commission directed to draw maps without regard to voting patterns. That way, more voters will have a real choice on Election Day.

But Madigan is a ruthless political tactician who is determined to retain gerrymandering. Using the courts, he’s twice defeated efforts to put a proposed Fair Map constitutional amendment to a public vote.

Further, one ought not get too excited about Pritzker’s anti-gerrymandering pledge because, unfortunately, campaign promises don’t count for much.

When he was governor, Democrat Pat Quinn made the same pledge Pritzker did, only to meekly sign Madigan’s gerrymandered 2011 maps into law.

Quinn flip-flopped on a lot of things. For instance, he said he wouldn’t sign any tax increase above a single percentage point and signed a two-point hike. And Madigan knocked the remap amendments off the ballot with ease because they were Rube Goldberg contraptions which clearly exceeded the constitutional limits of what can and what cannot be placed before voters.

* From ILGOP Chairman Tim Schneider…

An overwhelming majority of Illinois voters supports independent redistricting reform, but Speaker Madigan and President Cullerton have, through lawsuits and obstruction in the legislature, blocked all efforts to let the people have their voices heard. Governor Pritzker must follow through on his fair map pledge, work around Madigan and Cullerton, and empower rank-and-file Democrats to stand up to their leaders and enact meaningful change. Republican lawmakers are ready to work with Democrats on this critical issue to finally get the job done. It’s time for the people to truly be able to choose their representatives, not the other way around.

The Republicans have 44 members in the House and 19 in the Senate. That’s a very long way from the 71 and 36 required to pass a constitutional amendment over the objections of Democratic Party leaders.

I support fairly drawn maps, so it’s fine to keep up the heat, but people should retain some perspective and try to learn from the failures of the past. And one of the biggest failures is relying on frontal assaults against Madigan. They don’t work. They only make him stronger.

* Related…

* Sun-Times editorial: In the glow of victory, Governor, listen to the GOP on gerrymandering

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


Report: Ald. Solis recorded conversations with Ald. Burke

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2019

* Fran Spielman and Jon Seidel with the bombshell scoop

Retiring Ald. Danny Solis (25th), the powerful chairman of the City Council’s Zoning Committee, has secretly recorded more than a dozen conversations with Ald. Ed Burke (14th) over the last two years, including at City Hall, to help federal investigators build their corruption case against him, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

Those conversations include Burke meeting with individuals seeking actions by the city, a source familiar with the matter said. […]

Solis’ cooperation is extraordinary, not only because the target was Burke but because Solis was a trusted ally of both Burke and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Solis’ position as Zoning Committee chairman gave him the influence and standing to arrange for meetings where Burke could pitch potential clients.

In late November, Solis surprised his colleagues by announcing that he would not seek re-election, ending a 23-year career in the City Council that began with his 1996 appointment by then-Mayor Richard M. Daley to replace the disgraced and convicted Ambrosio Medrano.

Now that his role as an FBI mole has been exposed, Solis is prepared to resign immediately and start taking his aldermanic pension, the source said.

Go read the whole thing.

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