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Kennedy unveils “government reform agenda”

Thursday, Oct 19, 2017

* Press release…

Chris Kennedy, Democratic candidate for governor, and his running mate, Ra Joy, presented their government reform agenda today to prevent the destruction of democracy in Illinois.

During a speech where he outlined a range of policies, Kennedy cited the need to restore faith in government by not letting, “Crony capitalists infiltrate our party and betray the democratic activists who have always made up the mosaic-like fabric of our party.

“With millions of dollars flowing into campaigns for Illinois Republicans from just two or three donor families, like the Rauners, Ken Griffin and the Uhlines, the Democrats have become desperate.

“Democrats now believe that to compete, they must adopt the same behavior as those who have oppressed us. We are mimicking behavior that we abhor. Just as debilitating behavior can be passed from one person to another, so too can self-destructive traits be passed from one party to another.

“A small group of billionaires has realized that, if they can control the government, then they can reap massive financial benefits at the expense of everyone else.”

Kennedy and Joy’s plan includes the following five priority areas to increase voter registration and voter turnout, implement campaign finance reform and campaign reform, and improve the Democratic Party and the political system:

Voter Empowerment

    * Increase voter registration by fully implementing automatic voter registration and supporting the infrastructure and appropriate staff levels to guarantee same-day voter registration at every voting site.
    * Increase staffing at early voter sites making it easier to vote and less time consuming.
    * Move primaries to a more hospitable month, like May or June.
    * Align the Illinois gubernatorial election with the presidential election year cycle.
    * Align municipal races with midterm congressional elections.

Direct Democracy

    * Adopt direct democracy by pursuing a constitutional amendment that will allow voters to make major decisions by ballot initiative or referendum.

Campaign Reform

    * Draw fair maps so voters can choose their elected officials instead of elected officials choosing their voters.
    * Institute term limits for statewide office, including the governor, to end the stagnation and careerism that plague our government.
    * Support elected school boards.

Campaign Finance Reform

    * Ban political parties from making contributions to any candidate during a primary election.
    * Create a small-dollar donor matching system in Illinois that allows campaigns to raise a majority of their funds from small dollar donors to compete with the campaigns financed by special interests, crony capitalist donors, and suppliers.

Conflicts and Corruption

    * Put a year-long ban on the revolving door that allows elected officials to go into private practice and lobby that same office, just like their employees are subject to.
    * Ban property tax lawyers from making contributions to local assessors or to the assessors’ political organizations or even to political parties that have a hand in slating these political candidates.
    * Ban family members from working as lobbyists and agents before elected officials from their own family.
    * Separate party leadership roles from elected official roles.
    * Create an Inspector General role that is responsible for ensuring that the legislature follows these rules.

“If we can fix the way the system itself works, we can get good people into office who can make the other necessary reforms,” Ra Joy said. “To stem the rising power of oligarchic big money in our elections and the increasingly unrepresentative nature of our institutions, we must pursue these reforms.”

The campaign’s government reform policy speech is part of a series of policy speeches intended to cover a range of topics and plans that will help bring lasting change and move Illinois forward. Over the summer, Kennedy spoke about ways to end the state’s property tax racket and he presented an eight-point plan to address the scourge of gun violence throughout the state.

Chris Kennedy is a Democratic candidate for Illinois Governor, who ran the Merchandise Mart and is currently leading a privately-financed construction project that is bringing 2,000 jobs to Illinois. Along with his wife, Sheila, he founded Top Box Foods, a community-based nonprofit that offers healthy food at affordable prices. Previously, he served as chairman of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. Chris is the son of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Skakel Kennedy and is the eighth of their eleven children. He and his wife have four children and reside in suburban Chicago.

Some of that is good, if not particularly new.

But having the primary during or just after spring legislative session would not be a good idea. Legislators could wind up falling all over themselves to please the PACs while they’re taking final action votes.

Also, banning political parties from contributing to primary candidates seems fruitless because they’ll just get around it another way. Money is fungible.

Putting statewide races on the same schedule as presidential cycles would be great for Democrats. I’m not sure Republicans would love it here, though.

Anyway, do you have any other thoughts on these proposals?

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      

Accidental (and apparently harmless) password leak could prompt move away from Crosscheck program

Thursday, Oct 19, 2017

* Indivisible Chicago

Crosscheck is an interstate data-sharing program between 28 states. Participating states send their entire voter file to a server in Arkansas. Kansas then downloads all of this data, runs a rudimentary name matching algorithm, and then uploads the results back to Arkansas. We have the passwords to every step in this process.

We’ve posted documents obtained by Indivisible Chicago as a result of FOIA requests to Florida and Illinois. The “yellow paper” redactions are our redactions of usernames and passwords carelessly sent via email. We have redacted instead of posting publicly, as we take the sensitivity of this data more seriously than the Illinois, Arkansas, and Kansas election authorities.

The documents include:

    Passwords to Crosscheck Results files for all states, 2011
    Passwords to Crosscheck Results files for all states, 2013
    Passwords to Crosscheck Results files for all states, 2014
    Illinois State Board of Elections, full voter file encryption password, 2012
    Illinois State Board of Elections, full voter file encryption password, 2014
    Arkansas decides not to change passwords, 2011
    ISBE username/password to Arkansas FTP server, 2016
    ISBE username/password to Arkansas FTP server, 2017
    Florida-Kansas matches; Florida provides Kansas SSN4
    ISBE IT emails Kansas asking how Crosscheck works\basic security questions, 2017

For some background on how counter-productive and perhaps even dangerous Crosscheck is, click here.

* The documents appear to show the group was sent this info via FOIA

ISBE Encryption Password - 2012
The password used by the Illinois State Board of Elections to encrypt over 8 million voter records in a file sent to Arkansas and Kansas state authorities.

ISBE Encryption Password - 2014
The password used by the Illinois State Board of Elections to encrypt over 8 million voter records in a file sent to Arkansas and Kansas state authorities. NOTE: This is the same password as 2012, only it ends with “2014″ instead of “2012″.

FTP Server Credentials - 2016
Both the username and password, in a single email, which allows Illinois to login to the FTP server in Arkansas which houses over 100 million voter records across 28 states. The server connection is not encrypted, meaning this username/password is not only sitting in email but is transmitted across the internet in plain text.

FTP Server Credentials - 2017
Same as the image above. Exactly the same. How many years states have gone without ever changing their passwords to access such sensitive systems is unknown.

* I reached out to Steve Sandvoss, the executive director of the Illinois State Board of Elections. He said they did attempt to redact all user ID info, login IDs and passwords, but four of them got through. “They should’ve been redacted but they weren’t,” Sandvoss admitted.

But, Sandvoss said, all the login info and passwords are “obsolete” with the exception of the one for 2017. “It’s possible that it is active,” he said, but “the file is empty” because te people who run Cross Check in Kansas are required to immediately delete the information.

And even if it wasn’t empty, Sandvoss said, the file itself is encrypted so you’d need an encryption key to access it and Indivisible Chicago doesn’t have that. And the file can only be accessed remotely via a specific IP address. Without that, you can’t get in.

“At first glance, it looks bad,” Sandvoss admitted. But when you peel the layers back, “We don’t feel that the information they have poses a risk to voter data.”

* But there is an upside for Indivisible Chicago, which has been working to get Illinois out of Crosscheck for a while now. Sandvoss said Florida FOIA laws are “pretty liberal.” A lot of information can legally be requested in that state, which brings up a “legitimate security concern” about remaining in the program. Sandvoss said he thought the full board would take a hard look at that issue when they meet in November to decide whether the state will remain in the program.

…Adding… From Sandvoss…

Hi Rich,

Just an update; the FTP login ID and password contained in the January 19, 2017 e-mail have been changed, therefore the ones that were released are no longer valid.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      

Question of the day

Thursday, Oct 19, 2017

* Greg Hinz

In case you had any doubt, Mayor Rahm Emanuel says there’s none in his mind. He’s running for a new term in the February 2019 election, with the goal of spreading the prosperity and new jobs that have blossomed in the central area of the city throughout Chicago.

In a meeting with Crain’s editorial board yesterday evening, Emanuel had an instant reply when asked if he intends to seek a new term: “The answer is yes.” He later repeated the sentiment—”I am (running)”—and said he’s doing so because “I want to make sure that every part of the city is participating in the quality of life.”

So far, there’s no sign that Emanuel will face a major opponent despite some very rough patches after the shooting of Laquan McDonald. Insiders say that his popularity numbers, which had dipped very low, are back about 50 percent in the latest polling.

“My goal is to make sure people feel they have a stake in the future,” Emanuel said, saying he’s tried do that by luring new employers to town and expanding the schools model from K-12 to pre-college. But “there’s more work to be done” he said, referring to widespread variance in crime rates, educational levels, income and other measures from one part of town to another.

* The Question:  Your suggested reelection campaign slogans?

- Posted by Rich Miller   65 Comments      

Another legislative gun fight

Thursday, Oct 19, 2017

* HB4107

Makes it unlawful to deliver, sell, or purchase or cause to be delivered, sold, or purchased or cause to be possessed by another, an assault weapon, assault weapon attachment, .50 caliber rifle, or .50 caliber cartridge. Makes it unlawful for any person to knowingly possess an assault weapon, .50 caliber rifle, or .50 caliber cartridge 300 days after the effective date of this amendatory Act, except possession of weapons registered with the State Police in the time provided. Provides exemptions and penalties. Prohibits delivery, sale, purchase, or possession of large capacity ammunition feeding devices. Provides exemptions and penalties. Prohibits the knowing sale, manufacture, purchase, possession, or carrying of a trigger modification device. Defines “trigger modification device”.

* Illinois State Rifle Association

If you’re a lawful gun owner and you’re not welled up with anger, you really should be. Why? Because Mike Bloomberg, Marty Moylan, and the Moms have identified you as the “other shooter” on the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay.

As you read this, the gun control movement is crafting a package of severe punishments specially for you just because you dare to own firearms.

The most dangerous of these insults to your liberty is HB4107, introduced by Rep. Marty Moylan (D-DesPlaines).

If passed, Moylan’s bill would inflict the following punishments on you:

    Force you to register as a potential offender.
    Force you to pay a yearly tax on lawfully-acquired firearms.
    Force you to surrender to the police all the firearms that Marty Moylan doesn’t want you to have.
    Force you to surrender standard capacity magazines to the police.
    Prohibit you from making repairs to your lawfully-owned firearms.

The good people of Illinois should not be subjected to such mistreatment at the hands of a political opportunist like Moylan.

Any reader who does not believe that Moylan poses a serious threat had better think again. The Las Vegas mass murder was a godsend to the Gun Control Movement. For years, the gun grabbers have been waiting for an excuse to justify larceny of your gun collection. Marty Moylan is looking forward to grinding his boot heel into your forehead. Are you going to stand by and let him?


* Journal & Topics

“It’s shameful that organizations would rather attack than engage over such an important issue, in the wake of the largest mass-shooting in American history,” Moylan said in response. “If the machine-gun enthusiasts refuse to engage in a discussion, the only course of action is to proceed without them and for common-sense folks to work to enact real change that is going to keep people safe.”

Moylan added, “Organizations like the Illinois State Rifle Association run for the panic button to stir up anger and fear in their members, feeding them false information about the legislation in question. They even refuse to use the term ‘assault weapons’ because they know the truth and are more focused on their agenda than the safety of their fellow citizens. When…Pearson said I have an ‘obsessive hatred of firearms and the people who own them,’ I was not surprised. The shameful tactics of machine gun activists is to try to scare citizens and intimidate legislators who want real change, but I’m not backing down from this fight because there have been too many lives lost as a result of others backing down.”

* Back to ISRA…

“Moylan accuses the ISRA of stirring up fear and anger – to that we plead guilty,” commented ISRA Executive Director, Richard Pearson. “The state’s gun owners should be fearful of legislation that would render their firearm investments worthless and cause them to forfeit their lawfully-acquired property. Likewise, gun owners should be very angry that a politician like Moylan would accuse them of complicity – figuratively placing the state’s hunters and sportsmen in that Las Vegas hotel room, shoulder to shoulder with the murderer as he committed his heinous crimes. Yes, the ISRA expects the state’s gun owners to be very fearful, and very, very angry at Moylan for vilifying them in the public eye.”

“In his statement, Moylan seems to imply that firearm owners have backed away from engagement on the issue of violent crime,” continued Pearson. “Of course, that isn’t true but, nevertheless, we’d love to see Rep. Moylan engage gun owners to explain why he plans to register them like sex offenders; require them to forfeit their lawfully acquired property; and apply annual taxes on their constitutional right to own firearms. Yes, it would be interesting indeed to see Moylan ‘engage’ sportsmen face to face as he explains how he plans to brand them as felons.”

“Like all good Americans, the state’s law-abiding firearm owners abhor violent crime,” said Pearson. “After all, our friends and families live here too. We understand that the key to stemming violent crime is deterrence and rehabilitation – not imposition of bad public policy that criminalizes a sizeable portion of the citizenry. That is why ISRA and the state’s gun owners support proactive law enforcement, meaningful sentencing, and effective rehabilitation.”

“Moylan does a great disservice to victims of violent crime by interjecting his personal dislike for gun owners into the equation,” continued Pearson. “Moylan’s legislative proposals are divisive and serve only to punish the innocent while giving violent criminals a pass. The state’s gun owners are well aware of what Moylan is trying to do to them and are mobilizing on a scale not seen since the campaign to pass concealed carry. Gun owners are watching this issue very intently and will note well which legislators see gun owners as partners, and which legislators see gun owners as enemies.”

Moylan also has a “bump stock” bill in committee next week.

- Posted by Rich Miller   138 Comments      

A consolidation stalemate in McLean County

Thursday, Oct 19, 2017

* From the Illinois Policy Institute’s news service

The woman in charge of elections in McLean County is skeptical of a proposed independent election commission, she says, because she trusts voters.

Kathy Michael is the McLean County clerk. She is in charge of elections in the county, but not the city of Bloomington, which has its own election commission.

There are talks to combine the offices, and Michael said it makes sense for voters and for taxpayers.

“Illinois needs to be cutting their units of government,” Michael said. “We have the largest amount of government in the United States, and that includes Texas. It’s long past time that we start to make cuts.”

Michael said consolidating the county election office and the city of Bloominton’s election commission could save $100,000 a year.

But McLean County’s League of Women Voters is threatening to try and scuttle the effort. They want an independent commission.

League leaders told The Bloomington Pantagraph that “anyone can be elected clerk.” They argue an independent commission would be non-partisan.

Michael isn’t a fan on that plan, mainly because she trusts voters more than appointed commissioners, she said.

As you might imagine, it’s not quite that simple.

* The League wants to model the combined county system on Bloomington’s election commission, which has minimum requirements for each party’s representation (the three-person board must include a Democrat and a Republican) and rules forbidding employees from campaigning for a candidate or issue. That stuff wouldn’t happen at the clerk’s office.

The county clerk is a Republican. So, some Democratic folks in Bloomington naturally want to continue having a say in how the elections are administered

Nikita Richards, a Democrat running for county clerk in 2018, said Sunday she supports a countywide election commission. Kathy Michael, the Republican clerk seeking re-election, said last week, “Moving the Bloomington Election Commission duties into the county clerk’s office makes good fiscal sense.”

* The weird local quirk is that, for whatever reason, the county funds both the clerk’s office and Bloomington’s election commission and the county is now facing a $1 million deficit in the upcoming fiscal year.

They’ve been trying to get something done since at least 2009, according to the League of Women Voters’ website. And they’re still at loggerheads

Board action would break a long stalemate between the county, which prefers to absorb election duties into the clerk’s office, and League of Women Voters McLean County, which has pushed for a countywide commission for years.

Officials have identified two possible solutions: 1,000 Bloomington voters could petition for a referendum of city voters to eliminate the BEC, or the county could push for a legislative change to allow a countywide referendum on establishing a new commission covering all McLean County elections.

Springfield saved about $500,000 a year since it consolidated its election office with the county clerk. Peoria got a legislative change a few years go that allowed it to create a bipartisan election commission, which saved $300,000 per year.

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - Denied *** Dynegy seeking a new deal on pollution control

Thursday, Oct 19, 2017

* Apparently, seeking two separate subsidies for its coal-fired plants isn’t enough. From the Sun-Times editorial board

Now Dynegy, which owns eight coal-fired power plants in central and southern Illinois, wants the Illinois Pollution Control Board to scrap the limits on the rate of pollution each of its plants can emit. Dynegy, which also is reportedly seeking rate increases in the Legislature, proposes instead that existing annual caps apply to its plants as a group, which would allow it to give its dirtier plants more leeway to belch out soot and other pollutants that cause smog and acid rain.

The proposal comes as Dynegy faces a deadline that Ameren, which previously owned the plants, agreed to in 2006 to reduce air pollution.

In a classic example of the problems with revolving-door government, Dynegy has worked with Gov. Bruce Rauner’s director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency — a former lobbyist for a trade association that represents Dynegy — to draw up the plan. According to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office, the revised pollution cap would provide a financial incentive for Dynegy to actually increase pollution if it chose.

For a hearing on Thursday, Dynegy is on the agenda with a request for the Illinois Pollution Control Board to rush through the decision-making process. But there is no need to rush. This is a matter that demands full input and careful consideration. Illinois does not face any shortage of power generation capacity.

* Background

Environmental experts who analyzed documents obtained under the FOIA request and publicly available emissions and generation data said that it appears Dynegy is comfortably able to meet both the current and proposed new limits with its current generation mix. But they suggest Dynegy might not be able to meet the existing average rate of emissions limit if Coffeen or other plants with scrubbers were to close.

“Coffeen has a big very effective scrubber that makes it the cleanest plant in their operations and probably one of the cleanest in the country, but it has all this extra cost” to run, said Brian Urbaszewski, director of environmental health programs at the Respiratory Health Association.

“Right now because of the way the rule is set up, every time they run a dirty plant to make money, they have to run the clean plant to make sure the rate evens out. If the rule were changed to allow [the annual tonnage] cap, they could just ditch Coffeen.”

“Just because Dynegy has decided to shut down some of its uneconomic coal plants, doesn’t give it a hall pass to not clean up its older coal plants,” added Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center.

*** UPDATE *** Hmm…

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      

*** UPDATED x3 - Biss responds - DCEO upbeat *** Illinois lost 10,800 jobs last month

Thursday, Oct 19, 2017


The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced today that the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.0 percent in September and nonfarm payrolls decreased by -10,800 jobs over-the-month, based on preliminary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and released by IDES. August job growth was revised up to show a smaller decline (-2,600 jobs) than initially reported (-3,700 jobs).

September’s monthly payroll drop kept over-the-year job growth well below the national average. While Illinois job growth has had its ups and downs since the beginning of the year, the 3-month trend shows average declines of -4,200 jobs per month from July to September, while the six-month trend shows a -400 per month average job loss from April to September. Both the 3-month and the 6-month changes are worse than reported last month.

“The Illinois economy continues to sputter.” said IDES Director Jeff Mays. “Moving one step forward and one step backward, as we have done this past number of months, does little to build the positive jobs momentum that most other states have built during this recovery.”

“Illinois stands apart in terms of the assets and opportunities we have to offer business across industries,” said Illinois Department of Commerce Director Sean McCarthy. “We must continue to market our exceptional assets while implementing reforms that boost our economy and make us competitive on a national stage.”

In September, the two industry sectors with the largest gains in employment were: Financial Activities (+3,600) and Manufacturing (+1,100). The three industry sectors with the largest payroll declines were: Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (-4,200); Education and Health Services (-3,400); and Leisure and Hospitality (-3,300).

Over-the-year, nonfarm payroll employment increased by +3,700 jobs with the largest gains in these industry sectors in September: Financial Activities (+12,000); Education and Health Services (+9,600); and Professional and Business Services (+8,000). The industry sectors with the largest over-the-year declines include: Trade, Transportation and Utilities (-10,700); Government (-7,100); and Construction (-5,800). Illinois nonfarm payrolls were up +0.1 percent over-the-year in sharp contrast to the nation’s +1.2 percent over-the-year gain in September.

The state’s unemployment rate is +0.8 percentage points higher than the national unemployment rate reported for September 2017, which decreased to 4.2 percent. The Illinois unemployment rate is down -0.8 percentage points from a year ago when it was 5.8 percent. At 5.0 percent, the Illinois jobless rate is -0.7 percentage points lower than January 2017.

The number of unemployed workers dipped -0.4 percent from the prior month to 321,700, down -14.5 percent over the same month for the prior year. The labor force remained about unchanged over-the-month and declined by -1.3 percent in September over the prior year. The unemployment rate identifies those individuals who are out of work and are seeking employment. An individual who exhausts or is ineligible for benefits is still reflected in the unemployment rate if they actively seek work.

*** UPDATE 1 *** Some positive spin from DCEO Director Sean McCarthy…

“This administration is working hard to change the course of the decline in non-farm payrolls. While the numbers were down overall, we made gains in very important sectors including Financial Activities; Education and Health Services; and Professional and Business Services. This morning’s announcement of the launch of Discovery Partners Institute, coupled with our efforts to land Amazon HQ2, show our commitment to increasing opportunities that will attract and keep workers in Illinois.”

Um, Education and Health Services was down last month, although it was up for the year.

Either way, that’s the first time I’ve ever seen positive spin on an employment report from this administration.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Do you get the feeling that today’s supplemental statement from McCarthy (after all, he was already in the original press release) had something to do with not allowing this bad news to overshadow today’s big Discovery Partners Institute press conference? Here are his statements going back to April…


“Our state has the potential to be the most competitive in the nation,” said Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity Director Sean McCarthy. “To expand opportunities and good paying jobs, we need to make common sense reforms that will give businesses the confidence to grow and thrive in Illinois.”


“We continue to see sluggish growth in our economy due to the inability of the legislature to institute common-sense structural changes that would encourage investment in our state,” said Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity Director Sean McCarthy. “If we create a business-friendly environment, we will see greater opportunities and more good paying jobs in every community.”


“We hear from companies every week that are concerned by the current business climate in Illinois,” said Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity Director Sean McCarthy. “We need to implement common sense reforms that would lead to booming job growth and expansion of opportunities across our state.”


“A competitive economy is crucial to creating jobs and opportunities for Illinoisans in every corner of the state,” said Illinois Department of Commerce Director Sean McCarthy. “We must institute true reforms that will help businesses expand and thrive here.”


“The modest gains in Illinois continue to lag behind the rest of the nation,” said Illinois Department of Commerce Director Sean McCarthy. “We need reforms to provide business owners relief and incentives to make our state not only competitive, but attractive to bring good jobs back to Illinois.”


“Illinois is working tirelessly to highlight our strongest assets – our strategic location and dedicated workforce – to bring more opportunity, competition and good paying jobs to our state,” said Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Sean McCarthy. “We need to couple that with lasting reforms and incentives to attract businesses and quality jobs in Illinois.”


“Illinois stands apart in terms of the assets and opportunities we have to offer business across industries,” said Illinois Department of Commerce Director Sean McCarthy. “We must continue to market our exceptional assets while implementing reforms that boost our economy and make us competitive on a national stage.”

*** UPDATE 3 *** Press release…

Daniel Biss released the following statement in response to the latest Illinois Department of Employment Security report stating that Illinois lost 10,800 jobs last month.

“Bruce Rauner doesn’t seem to understand that strong businesses rely on strong communities. When you decimate social services, perpetuate a broken tax system, and refuse to pass a budget, people suffer—and businesses do too. Building a state that works for business starts with building a state that works for the rest of us, not just the millionaires and billionaires.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   73 Comments      

Status hearing sheds no light on lawsuit against Rauner, except he wants it dismissed

Thursday, Oct 19, 2017

* Sun-Times

Attorneys for a former business partner of Gov. Bruce Rauner who has filed a lawsuit against him want the case unsealed — but the governor is both fighting off that attempt in court while also trying to dismiss the suit entirely.

The lawsuit against Rauner — who ran a private equity firm before becoming governor — was filed Oct. 5. by Harreld “Kip” Kirkpatrick III and the Kirkpatrick Capital Partners Fund, according to Cook County Circuit Court records. […]

“We believe it should be unsealed. They believe it should be sealed,” [Kirkpatrick’s attorney Bill O’Neil] told the judge.

Rauner attorney Joe Smith plans to file a written request to oppose the unsealing while also filing a motion to dismiss the case. Smith plans to file both by Oct. 26. The plaintiff plans to respond to those requests by Nov. 9. Lawyers will meet on Dec. 13, sans the judge, to discuss the case.

During the short status hearing, [Cook County Judge David Atkins] told attorneys there may be a need for oral arguments.

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      

Pritzker buys into pot myth, but is right on the broader point

Thursday, Oct 19, 2017

* Daily Herald on yesterday’s candidate forum

Pritzker thinks legalization [of marijuana] could save lives. “Unfortunately, marijuana is readily available and also unfortunately some of it is laced with heroin. If we legalize it and regulate it, marijuana won’t have those problems,” he said.

Laced with heroin? Who’s gonna sell a dime bag of weed and secretly add heroin to it without jacking up the price so high that nobody would buy it? Not a very good business plan. I suppose you could sell weed that’s specifically laced with heroin for a premium price. And you can add pretty much anything to your own stash.

* So, I checked with the Pritzker campaign. They sent along the full quote from yesterday…

Look there are reasons to legalize marijuana and I favor legalization, but the reasons are less to do with revenue then they are with safety and criminal justice reform. But those are the three reasons that we should legalize it. Let’s talk about safety for a moment. Unfortunately, marijuana is readily available, it just is. And also unfortunately, they’re sometimes laced with heroin.

And in fact, I talked to a mother who lost her son to heroin addiction, who got into it, this son – by the way self-medicating for a mental health problem – got into it by smoking marijuana that ended up being laced with heroin and then got into a heroin addiction problem.

If we legalize marijuana and we regulate it, marijuana will not have those problems and it’ll – yes, it’s readily available today – it’ll be available in recreational use but regulated. Criminal justice reform – Dan [Biss] talked about that and I think it’s hugely important to recognize how unfair the system has been. And then of course the 350 to 700 million dollars of tax revenue that this state could garner.

* From the campaign…

“While it is highly uncommon, there are a few cases of overdoses linked to marijuana being laced with stronger drugs. Ultimately, JB was addressing a broader problem of lacing and making the point that illegal marijuana is a lot less safe than if we legalize it and regulate it.”

* They also sent me a link to this story

Police in Yarmouth used two doses of Narcan to revive an unresponsive man Saturday afternoon and investigators believe the man may have been experiencing an overdose after smoking marijuana laced with the powerful opioid fentanyl. […]

Police said the man and his girlfriend had smoked marijuana earlier in the day “but did not realize it may have been laced with another drug which caused the overdose.”

* But looked into the fentanyl angle and found real problems with that story and other stories like it. They concluded that people simply did not want to admit to the cops that they were knowingly doing a drug which could get them busted for a felony, so they lied.

Vice also looked into it

Kirk Maxey, who works with law enforcement agencies like the DEA to test suspected synthetic opioids, said that not only would such a mixture be rare—it might not even be scientifically possible.

The Cincinnati Enquirer also looked into the topic because of a large number of social media posts and came up empty. Fake news.

* Pritzker is right about the broader point. Take the criminal and other unknown elements out of it by legalizing it with reasonable restrictions and taxation. But he should stick to that, and not buy into fringe “Reefer Madness” conspiracies.

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      

Welcome to our world, Mr. Coates

Thursday, Oct 19, 2017

* Tribune

Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates didn’t get to be the most discussed public intellectual in America by pussyfooting around when it comes to race.

So he was characteristically direct this week during a trip to Chicago, telling Chicago Inc. that President Donald Trump and conservatives “use Chicago as a tool — ‘Chicago’ has become code for ‘black people.’ ” […]

He said the constant national focus on Chicago’s crime problem started under President Barack Obama as a way to diminish the first black chief executive.

“They use ‘Chicago’ to shame people,” he said… “I’m not trying to make light of any of the violence in Chicago at all that you see on the West Side or the South Side, but this sense that Chicago is somehow alien or outside of America is just absurd, it’s ridiculous.

That’s been the case in Illinois for as long as anyone can remember. It’s why I’ve been so hard on Gov. Rauner whenever he’s used that dog whistle

“The Senate and the House were competing with each other, who could spend more to bail out Chicago with your tax dollars from southern Illinois and central Illinois and Moline and Rockford and Danville — the communities of this state who are hard-working families who pay their taxes.”

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what he was saying there.

- Posted by Rich Miller   58 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - Brown responds *** The devil is always in the details

Thursday, Oct 19, 2017

* After having praised the governor in an earlier post today about the proposed Discovery Partners Institute on the city’s near South Side, I should probably return to the usual problems he has, particularly with Speaker Madigan

Last week, Rauner said he planned to use proceeds from the sale of the Thompson Center to help finance the institute. Rauner has said unloading the 1.2 million-square-foot building would fetch $300 million, though the state would have to pay around $60 million off the top to buy out the leases of the current tenants.

Rauner also said that though he was seeking some public funding for the initial stages of the work, over time he expected the institute to be primarily funded through private dollars.

Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, said Tuesday that legislative leaders were in talks about the institute but denied there had been any such accord, “in part because there was sort of a lack of detail about exactly how the state funds might be utilized.” Brown also said the Thompson Center profits are incorporated into this year’s state budget, comprising a large chunk of new revenues.

“The money has been accounted for in the current state budget, and there is no agreement, verbal or otherwise, to support state funding for this institute,” Brown said.

That pool of money isn’t exactly earmarked for the state budget either. The bill allowing the sale of the Thompson Center has been hung up in political wrangling and has yet to be sent to the governor’s desk.


* More

“There’s no way to say that from Madigan’s point of view whether we’re on board or not on board because we don’t know what we’re getting on board for,” Brown said of the potential for the state to have to pitch in for the center.

*** UPDATE ***  From Steve Brown in comments…

When called by the Tribune, I was told the governor said he had a verbal agreement from the legislative leaders to shift the proceeds from the JRTC sale to this project. I advised the reporter the JRTC funds were committed to the budget and there was no agreement by the Speaker in no small part because there were few details provided to the leaders.

Tribbies robbed readers of these facts.

Seems all hands need more details before there can be an agreement.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* And there’s this

State Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, said he had heard about the project last week and on Friday called Rauner, who told him that components of the project will help downstate cities such as Champaign-Urbana, Peoria and Rockford.

But he said he still hasn’t heard many details.

“I’m going to reserve judgment until I see what it is,” Rose said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      

Rauner eliminates manufacturing program during Manufacturing Month

Thursday, Oct 19, 2017

* The Tribune fleshes out some more cuts being made by the Rauner administration. The full list of those cuts is here. I suppose zeroing out money designed to help manufacturers during Illinois Manufacturing Month isn’t quite as egregious as slashing autism funding on World Autism Day, but it’s still pretty ironic

Other belt-tightening includes $41 million in cuts to programs administered by the state’s economic development agency, including the elimination of a $1.4 million grant for the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. The grant was used to help partially reimburse companies for offering qualified training to employees.

The group has been a strong supporter of Rauner as he pushes for changes to the state’s workers’ compensation system, and he has spent the last several weeks touring various companies after declaring October “Manufacturing Month” in Illinois.

“We understand the governor’s challenge in balancing the budget and we hope there is a way this program can be restored,” said Ryan McLaughlin, spokesman for the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association.

Other cuts include money set aside to promote tourism in Illinois, including a 50 percent cut to the state’s advertising campaign. Rauner used to head Chicago’s tourism efforts, where he called for increased spending on marketing.

By the way, the slashed Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center funding comes with a federal match.

* Related…

* Special events to mark Manufacturing Month: Beginning today, Oct. 6, more than 100 events will take place statewide to celebrate Illinois’ commitment to the past, present and future of manufacturing.

* Gov. Rauner Calls Manufacturers ‘Backbone Of Illinois Prosperity’

* Rauner takes Manufacturing Month tour to South Elgin’s Hoffer Plastics

* Governor Rauner to speak at manufacturing expo

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      

Make this happen, please

Thursday, Oct 19, 2017

* When Bruce Rauner was elected, this is exactly the sort of thing I hoped he’d be doing

Rauner is backing the University of Illinois-led Discovery Partners Institute, a public-private facility for conducting specialized research in an array of fields, including computing and big data, food and agriculture, and health and wellness.

The center, which is to be announced officially on Thursday morning, is intended to bring together academic faculty, students and companies to collaborate on research and to parlay that work into new products and companies, U. of I. President Timothy Killeen said.

It would also give the state’s flagship public university, the Urbana-Champaign campus, a prominent footprint in Chicago — a long-held goal — and bring it closer to the city’s most prestigious private institutions. Northwestern University and the University of Chicago have committed to become partners in the new center, school representatives confirmed.

“What if we formed more collaboration with those universities and created a dense network of students, faculty and research; and encouraged them to form businesses, connect them to the university, and give them the rights and ability to take their research and their technology and commercialize them, and develop products?” Rauner said in an interview last week. “We thought that would be a major magnet to keeping and growing the Illinois economy.”

* More

Dubbed the Discovery Partners Institute, the UI-led initiative would allow top faculty and students from several universities to work side-by-side with industry to produce innovations and spin-off companies that would create high-paying jobs for the state and keep talent in Illinois, according to the UI. […]

Research would initially focus on advances in “big data” technology, from cybersecurity to the “internet of things; in health care, including new drugs and treatments; and in food and agriculture breakthroughs, to improve nutrition and help feed a growing world,” the UI said.

“It incorporates some of what UI Labs is already doing, but this is a much bigger initiative,” said Rauner spokesman Hud Englehart, referring to the public-private research and development organization in Chicago involving the UI, launched in 2013.

Seidel said the new institute will be “much more deeply integrated with the university curriculum” than UI Labs and would hire its own faculty.

The interdisciplinary collaborations would address real-world challenges, in the hopes of creating breakthrough discoveries that lead to new products and companies, while giving students hands-on experience and creating a highly skilled work force for the future, the UI said.

* More

University of Illinois President Tim Killeen sees the center as a way for the state to retain talent.

“If you look at the state of Illinois we know there is a net outflow of college-ready high school graduates to the tune of about 16,000 a year,” Killeen said. “We want to reverse that arrow if we can,” he said, noting that the goal would be to keep that brain power, degree in hand, in Illinois to build the sort of tax base that creates a healthy state. […]

Plans also include using 40 percent of the land for a public park in the shape of a crescent — an homage to the original shape of the river on the site before it was straightened in the 1920s to accommodate barge traffic.

The site will also include a 100-feet wide riverwalk that developers said will be part of a larger plan to build a continuous river walk extending to Wolf Point. […]

He did say though that he envisions a place that includes, residential, commercial and entertainment that would become a tourist destination.

“What we are building is what we refer to as 78 — the city’s 78th neighborhood,” Bailey said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      

Define “investing”

Thursday, Oct 19, 2017

* From today’s Morning Spin

But as we tell our college journalism students: Remember, when you buy stock in Apple or put money in a 401(k), that’s investing. When the government “invests,” that’s spending taxpayer money.

I do agree that the word is overused by politicians.

But, when the government spends taxpayer money on mass transit, roads, bridges, education, childcare for kids whose economically struggling parents are working or attending college, healthcare (including disease prevention), etc., etc., etc. that’s just spending money and not an investment in the state’s future? The spending won’t provide any returns at all?

I dunno about that.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      

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Thursday, Oct 19, 2017

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* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Amazon HQ2 site list unveiled
* Out of sight out of mind?
* Frerichs tries to use state investments to prod Facebook into cleaning up its act
* The rise of the billionaire governors
* Camelot promises to grow lottery sales by 40 percent
* Munger tries to defend Rauner veto of Debt Transparency Act
* Rauner: "I can’t comment on any business disputes"
* Question of the day
* Rauner finally takes a stand on a federal issue
* Moody's says "political backlash" against pop tax could make other tax hikes more difficult
* Report: Amazon subsidy could add up to $2 billion
* *** UPDATED x1 *** 10,800 jobs lost in a single month, but Illinois media barely notices
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