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Open thread and another LSSI reminder

Thursday, Dec 13, 2018

* I have a bunch of errands to run and I am badly in need of a haircut before my “Christmas with Rich Miller” City Club gig on Monday.

Speaking of which (you didn’t think I was gonna let you off the hook, did you?) the charity auction benefiting Lutheran Social Services of Illinois is still happening. You can bid on tickets to my annual City Club speech through Friday night, so click here. If you’ve already purchased tickets or you can’t make it and still want to contribute, you can also click here and then click that green “Donate” button in the upper right hand corner.

Anyway, be kind to each other and keep it Illinois-centric. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      

In defense of Mary Todd Lincoln on her 200th birthday

Thursday, Dec 13, 2018

* Dr. Stacy Pratt McDermott wrote a book about Mary Todd Lincoln and is a Lincoln scholar. Today is the 200th anniversary of Mrs. Lincoln’s birth and McDermott has a post up on her blog defending the former First Lady

First, we should take off our stove-pipe hats to Mary Lincoln’s intellect and her extraordinary education, which consisted of ten years of formal schooling when most Americans, like Abraham Lincoln himself, had very few educational opportunities. Let’s acknowledge the fact that Mary’s education, combined with her unique family circumstances in the peculiar context of Lexington, Kentucky, emboldened her nature. Let’s remember that her father and her sophisticated French female teacher gave Mary confidence and encouraged her to raise her own voice. It is true, indeed, that raising her voice often landed Mary “in trouble,” but doesn’t that tell us more about the gendered nature of nineteenth-century America than it does about Mary Lincoln? And do you really think Abraham Lincoln knew nothing of Mary’s confident voice when he married her in 1842? Do you really think the brilliant Mr. Lincoln knew nothing of Mary’s strong will and opinionated nature before he put the ring, engraved with “Love Is Eternal,” on her finger?

Let’s acknowledge the intellectual connection Mary shared with her husband. Let’s give Lincoln some credit for wanting a wife who was pretty and smart. Throughout their marriage, the couple shared a passion for partisan politics, a deep appreciation for literature, and love of music and the theater. Remember, too, Mary gave Abraham Lincoln four of his greatest joys: his sons. The Lincolns shared a love of their four boys and were, together, indulgent and thoroughly modern parents, who believed in the idea of childhood. The Lincoln marriage was not perfect, because both Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln struggled with their own very different emotional difficulties. Mary was high-strung and prone to wild mood swings; while Abraham was emotionally distant and depressive. But throughout their marriage, they were companions and shared common interests and beliefs. In the dark days of Civil War, Mary carved out periods of family time, which not only gave her boys some semblance of normalcy but were a refuge for her overburdened husband, as well. Lincoln needed Mary to force a little leisure upon him, and the brief periods of escape at Soldier’s Home or the theater brought some solace to his suffering soul.

Let’s acknowledge Mary Lincoln’s own suffering and give her some credit for living through it. During most of her adult life, she suffered migraine headaches and a difficult delivery of her fourth son left her with an injury that plagued her. She also definitely suffered some degree of mental illness, which no doubt would have been much alleviated had she lived in a time of modern medicine instead of a time when so-called doctors dismissed women’s health issues as hysteria. Yet despite her ill physical and emotional health, Mary got up out of bed almost every day of her life, and she put on pretty dresses, and she raised her boys (often all by herself), and she found joy in books, at White House receptions, while shopping and visiting the theater, and through her husband’s politics.

Mary Lincoln also suffered terrible emotional blows. She buried her four-year-old toddler Eddy in Springfield in 1850, and she buried Willie, her beloved 11-year-old boy, in Washington in 1862. She lost family members to the Confederacy and had a public, front-row seat for the horrors of the war, witnessing the physical and emotional damage on soldiers she visited in Washington. In 1865, Mary Lincoln was sitting next to her husband when an assassin put a bullet in his head; people removed her from her husband’s deathbed, where he died without her, because she was wailing at the loss of him; and people criticized her for lingering too long afterwards in grief in the White House. In 1871 just as she was finding her way through life as the widow of a martyred president, she buried her third son Tad, a blossoming eighteen-year-old man in whom she found joy and so much comfort.

I buried a child myself, and let me tell you, if I had to bury a second one there would be no breath left in my body. Losing three children and witnessing her husband’s violent murder, along with the post-traumatic stress of it all, was not the end of her suffering, either. Mary Lincoln then had to endure fears of financial disaster as a widow in nineteenth-century America, fears exacerbated by her emotional instability, emotional instability that was not her fault! She also faced public ridicule for visiting spiritualists, which was in fashion at the time and brought her some comfort. She had to listen to snipes for visiting health spas, even as mainstream physicians failed to offer her relief. She was also unfairly judged for shopping with her own money and for selling her own dresses; and then her last surviving son Robert had her incarcerated in a mental asylum, an injustice that cut her off from her grandchildren.

Go read the whole thing.

* This is one of my favorite prints…


- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      

Caption contest!

Thursday, Dec 13, 2018

* Heh…

- Posted by Rich Miller   58 Comments      

Rauner says he’ll file end of term report, clear clemency backlog

Thursday, Dec 13, 2018

* Jim Thompson commissioned a book on his way out the door after 14 years as governor

“The Governor, at the beginning of each annual session of the General Assembly and at the close of his term of office, shall report to the General Assembly on the condition of the State and recommend such measures as he deems desirable,” the Illinois Constitution says.

Rauner vows to do just that.

“Governors haven’t done it for, I don’t know how long, a long time,” Rauner said. “But we’re going to be issuing a report of our term; initiatives, activities, services, accomplishments, incompletes.”

I cannot wait.

* This, however, is a good idea

Rauner said he plans to clear any clemency request backlog

He inherited a huge backlog from Blagojevich and Quinn.

* Also a good idea...

“I will not be issuing many executive orders that could undermine the efforts of the new administration,” Rauner said. “I will not be rushing to make appointments to fill positions with cronies as was done with prior administrations. That’s just not proper policy.”

Quinn issued several EOs on his way out.

* Meanwhile, the very capable Jennifer Hammer has left her job as director of the Department of Insurance. There was some confusion at the end, however. From an internal staff memo…

Dear Staff,

Yesterday, Director Hammer announced her departure and nomination of CJ Metcalf to replace her as Acting Director. However, in coordination with the governor’s office, it has been decided that I will fill the acting director role. I look forward to partnering with CJ and the rest of the staff to continue to implement DOI’s mission and vision. My goal is to create a seamless transition to the next administration. Thank you for your continued hard work and dedication.

Very respectfully,

Karin Zosel
Chief Operating Officer
Illinois Department of Insurance

The governor appointed Zosel as acting director yesterday.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      

Question of the day: Golden Horseshoe Awards

Thursday, Dec 13, 2018

* The 2018 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Democratic Illinois State Representative is a tie. Rep. Kelly Cassidy

She has been able to find a way to take on leadership within her caucus and still get things done in a real way, even when members of her caucus weren’t willing to stand with her. She’s smart, passionate, and a bulldog when she wants to get something done. She represents her district well, with an amazing ability to blend leftwing policy priorities with pragmatism, and bringing people on board from all over the political spectrum. She’s everything that we should want in every one of our legislators.

And here’s Wordslinger’s nomination of House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie

On her way out the door, Rep. Currie gets the nod on the Dem side. If I’m to highlight one facet of her career, it would be her tireless persistence in finally ending Illinois’ hopelessly corrupt and unjust death penalty system.

Honorable mention goes to Rep. Christian Mitchell, who is leaving soon to be JB Pritzker’s deputy governor.

* The 2018 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Republican Illinois State Representative goes to Rep. Dave McSweeney

(H)e has been able to effectively pass legislation across the aisle when most of the Caucus has been ineffective. He dealt with sexual harassment payoffs and township government, even when his party objected to it. he continuously called out the Governor for his mistakes even if it meant he could have had retribution against him. While he won’t make friends in talks about taxes he continuously gets Democrats to sign on and help pass his bills.

Runner up is CD Davidsmeyer

C.D. is another example of, when you got it, you do not need to carry any airs. He is quiet, observant, effective, and salt of the earth.

Congrats to everyone. You earned it.

* OK, let’s move along to today’s categories…

* Best Illinois State Senator - Republican

* Best Illinois State Senator - Democrat

Please explain your nominations or your votes won’t count. Also, do your best to nominate in both categories. But, as always, I will understand if you only deal with one party or the other and don’t have enough info to nominate both.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      

Pritzker roundup

Thursday, Dec 13, 2018

* As subscribers have known for weeks, floor votes to fund a capital bill have been put off until after lame duck session

Democratic Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday didn’t dismiss the possibility of a gas tax hike to help pay for rebuilding the state’s infrastructure, but he also cautioned that a major construction program won’t come quickly when his administration begins Jan. 14.

Pritzker also said a capital program and money to pay for it isn’t something the lame-duck legislature should pursue when it returns to Springfield on Jan. 7.

“I think it’s unnecessary to do it before I take office. We’re going to work hard on it all together to make it happen and I want to make sure that we’re focused on it immediately upon taking office,” Pritzker said at an unrelated event in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood.

Still, Pritzker said it “might take a little time” to put together a comprehensive statewide bill to build and replace roads, bridges, water systems and mass transit, along with “the various sources that might fund it.”

* Meanwhile, the answer is “No”…

Emanuel is trying to stay relevant on his way out. Pritzker is coming in and will have to deal with a new mayor.

* And if there was still any doubt

Illinois governors don’t have a role in that [constitutional amendment] process, but Pritzker made it clear that he wouldn’t expend any political capital on a constitutional amendment.

“My commitment is to pay the pensions that are owed to people,” Pritzker said. “I just don’t see the likelihood of anybody getting a constitutional amendment passed to change that provision in our constitution. And it’s not something that I’m out promoting.”


* Same goes for the mayor’s casino idea

Emanuel said he’d push for the Chicago casino before his term ends in May, but negotiations on the long-shot bid will be in the hands of lawmakers in Springfield. The prospect of a Chicago casino has been floated numerous times in the past, only to be sunk by competing demands in other betting industries.

A spokeswoman for J.B. Pritzker said the governor-elect has supported the expansion of gaming to help pay for a capital bill, but the actual details haven’t been directly discussed.

* Meanwhile, WSIL TV talked to a business owner about Pritzker’s vow to eventually raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour with some sort of tax relief to small businesses

17th Street Barbecue in Murphysboro is one of those small businesses that could feel the impact of hiking up wages.

Amy Mills is co-owner of the restaurant. She says Pritzker’s plan would devastate her business.

“Our menu prices would have to rise so high that I don’t think our locals would be able to eat out very often,” Mills said. “To me, raising the minimum wage really is penalizing the mom and pops.”

During his stop in Springfield on Monday, Pritzker reminded everyone the increase would happen over several years.

“I feel like in this area would be so difficult to even raise the hourly wage in increments because we still will be raising prices to keep up,” Mills said.

* The La Salle News Tribune talked to some workers

Deenna Moss placed a customer’s purchases into plastic bags.

“You can’t live on $8.25 an hour,” Moss said.

Moss is compensated with Illinois’ minimum wage for her work as a cashier at Dollar General in La Salle.

Moss, a proponent of raising the minimum wage, said she has to live with her 31-year-old daughter to make ends meet. […]

Melissa Carter, who makes $9 an hour, said she needs three roommates just to survive. She has two kids at home. Carter works as the manager at Little Caesars Pizza in Peru.

“It’s frustrating,” she said about the pay. Carter has college credits, but said she wasn’t able to afford to finish the degree.

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      

Cook County Public Guardian sues DCFS: “Abject moral and human rights failure”

Thursday, Dec 13, 2018

* Press release

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) today was hit with a federal class action lawsuit for locking youth in psychiatric hospitals “long past the time that their treatment required them to be confined… Upon being medically cleared for discharge, instead of going to an appropriate facility, the Defendants forced the children to remain in locked psychiatric wards, causing immense harm.”

While locked up, the children received no formal education, were largely kept indoors, and had little if any opportunity to interact with family members and friends. The prolonged confinement is detrimental to kids’ mental health, making them feel like they have been abandoned while subjecting them to dangerous and frightening conditions.

“The first rule of health care is ‘do no harm,’ yet the State of Illinois and its child welfare agency have made a mockery of that precept,” said Charles Golbert, acting Cook County Public Guardian and leader of the class action suit. “The harm to these youth that DCFS is committing by locking them up long after they’ve completed their courses of treatment is incalculable. It’s an abject moral and human rights failure.”

Today’s suit charges not only that state officials have known of the problem for decades, but have actively worsened it by repeatedly cutting budgets for appropriate treatment facilities and foster homes. Tragically, this practice not only violates vulnerable children’s rights, it also costs Illinois millions of dollars – every month DCFS is wasting over $125,000 to lock children in psychiatric wards where they are not supposed to be.

Since the 1980s, Golbert and every one of his predecessors at the Cook County Public Guardian’s office have complained to DCFS and in federal court about children being locked in psychiatric wards long after they should have been discharged. Although the federal court entered a consent decree 27 years ago requiring DCFS to not hospitalize children longer than medically necessary, DCFS’s unconstitutional practice remains and has actually become much more prevalent.

* ProPublica Illinois

DCFS would not comment on the lawsuit but said finding placements for children is challenging. Some residential treatment centers and foster homes won’t accept children in psychiatric hospitals with serious mental or behavioral health conditions, said Neil Skene, special assistant to Walker.

The agency is working to build additional services and reduce the need for hospitalization, Skene said, but the problem is part of a larger issue related to rebuilding the state’s mental health system.

“The availability of community resources and facilities to handle complex behavioral and physical health needs of children and teenagers is a serious need in Illinois,” Skene said. “This is a decades-long problem in Illinois that has now fallen to the current leadership of DCFS. We are at the deep end of a challenge within the healthcare system.”

The number of children being held beyond what is considered medically necessary has increased in recent years. In 2017, 301 psychiatric hospital admissions of children in DCFS care went beyond medical necessity, a sharp rise from 88 in 2014, according to DCFS figures.

* Tribune

Also Thursday, an Uptown psychiatric hospital that is struggling to survive amid complaints that young patients face unsafe conditions will ask a federal judge to intervene in its battle with the federal government over funding.

Chicago Lakeshore Hospital will ask U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman to grant it a temporary restraining order to stop Saturday’s cutoff date for the facility to continue billing Medicare and Medicaid for new patients.

With the vast majority of patients receiving federal benefits, hospital officials argued in Wednesday’s court filing that they would be forced to close and the area’s access to critical mental health services will be diminished.

DCFS stopped admitting children in its care to Chicago Lakeshore several weeks ago amid an increased number of calls to the state’s child abuse hotline this year. The final DCFS teen was transferred out of the hospital Nov. 30.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

Mendoza signature clearance rate is high during first round

Thursday, Dec 13, 2018

* Not shocking, really. But if this trend does hold up, a whole lot of political pundits are gonna be eating crow…

It seems like everybody reported that the standard for turning in signatures is three times the amount needed. That was news to me because the standard I’ve always been told is twice the number of signatures needed. Mendoza turned in twice the minimum.

So, we’ll see. I think Mendoza will survive, but like everyone else who’s been commenting on this, I haven’t examined her sheets myself.

* Meanwhile…

The A-1 report is here. Lots of lawyers, plus $10K from Leslie Liautaud, an author who is married to Jimmy John Liautaud.

And as we discussed yesterday, Daley is no longer facing a challenge to his petitions.

…Adding… Speaking of Daley’s petitions, there’s nothing suspicious about this at all /s…

* Remember this from yesterday?

* Kristi Dunn Kucera has served as spokesperson for Chicago mayoral candidate Amara Enyia. She sent this e-mail to reporters today…

    As of December 12, 2018, I no longer represent Mayoral Candidate Amara Enyia as Communications Director. In light of several unknown and troubling factors that I was not privy to during the campaign, I am unable to effectively continue in this role. I wish her the best in her endeavor.

Mary Ann Ahern

The specifics of the factors Kucera references weren’t immediately known. Kucera was still listed Wednesday as the media contact on Enyia’s website.

Sources within the Enyia campaign said this shakeup comes as the campaign heads to the next level. With more financing and more momentum comes the hiring of more experienced political staff.

They could probably use a spokesperson with more campaign experience, but the Enyia campaign hasn’t reported receiving any contributions since the end of October.

* Related…

* Cook County Board Repeals Tax Break for Popular Parking Apps

* McCarthy points lots of fingers on crime wave—but not at himself: In a wide-ranging and occasionally rambling speech in which he seemed to blame just about everyone else but himself for the city’s woes, McCarthy, who was fired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel after the Laquan McDonald shooting, depicted himself as a truth teller in a city that, to paraphrase the old saying, don’t want nobody nobody sent.

* Mayoral contenders have more to say on anti-crime plans: I also heard from a supporter of Lori Lightfoot plugging her plan to put police rookies on the day shift rather than dangerous overnight hours so they get a better opportunity to know the neighborhood they’re patrolling. … I also heard from a supporter of Lori Lightfoot plugging her plan to put police rookies on the day shift rather than dangerous overnight hours so they get a better opportunity to know the neighborhood they’re patrolling.

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      

Your holiday season moment of Zen

Thursday, Dec 13, 2018

* My buddy Tony stopped by this morning to deliver Christmas cookies and have a cup of coffee. Oscar just loves Tony…

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      

Pritzker criticized over lack of Active Transportation Alliance members on his transition committee

Thursday, Dec 13, 2018

* John Greenfield at StreetsBlog Chicago has a post up about the Pritzker transition’s Restoring Illinois Infrastructure Committee….

However, conspicuously absent from the committee are any dedicated pedestrian and bike advocacy organizations. ([Metropolitan Planning Council] does frequently voice support for better walking and biking conditions, but it has a broader mission of “shaping a more equitable, sustainable and prosperous greater Chicago region.”)

According to a source, the Active Transportation Alliance — the region’s leading walking, biking, and transit advocacy organization – directly asked Pritzker’s organization to be included in the committee, and was recommended by others to the governor-elect. Two Active Trans reps served on Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel’s transition team in 2011. Moreover, current Active Trans director Ron Burke served as associate director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency from 2003-2008, so he has plenty of state government experience. […]

However, a couple of possibilities come to mind. Organized labor was a key source of support for Pritzker’s campaign, and there are plenty of entities that benefit from road-building projects represented on the committee. After current governor Bruce Rauner proposed widening multiple Chicagoland expressways to create more capacity for driving, Active Trans called for a moratorium on expressway expansion. That likely irritated some figures in the road-building lobby.

Active Trans has also been pushing for $50 million a year in state transportation funds to be earmarked for walking and biking projects, with a focus on improving conditions in lower-income communities. 27 Chicago CEOs sent a letter to Rauner and Pritzker asking them to commit to making the state Bike Walk Fund a reality, and multiple Chicago community organizations have voiced support for the idea.

While $50 million would only represent about 2 percent of the Illinois transportation budget, very little state money is currently used for walking and biking infrastructure. So it’s likely some labor, construction, and highway engineering folks would be loathe to see any funds diverted from road building.

* I reached out to the Pritzker transition team…

The Restoring Illinois’ Infrastructure committee represents a wide range of interests and is considering every mode of transportation, including biker and pedestrian concerns. There are a number of critical voices and stakeholders on this subject matter and while all could not be included on this committee, we are soliciting feedback from the public and other organizations on the transition website. As JB transitions into office, he will continue bringing stakeholders to the table to shape his policy agenda and improve the lives of Illinoisans.

* And there’s this…

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      

Color me skeptical

Thursday, Dec 13, 2018

* Tribune

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday floated a port district site on the Far Southeast Side as the possible location for a Chicago casino, if state lawmakers finally grant the city the long-sought gambling palace.

In a meeting with the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board, Emanuel noted his “love-hate” relationship with the idea of a casino but said if the city finally builds one it should be away from the Loop and McCormick Place. Instead, he said it should bring economic development to an area of the city that needs it, before floating an Illinois International Port District site near Pullman as “an example.”

The land, just off the 111th Street exit on the Bishop Ford Freeway, currently is home to the Harborside International golf course with some harbor operations and terminals nearby on Lake Calumet. The port district that owns the land is a joint city-state entity.

“If you go down to the port authority where the golf course is, there’s enough land there for both a hotel and a casino,” Emanuel said. “That would be a big boon economically to the Southeast Side of the city.”

That area really does need some investments, but when have casinos ever helped a neighborhood to thrive? They suck people inside and do everything they can to keep them there until the customers have no money. Hey, I’m not anti-gambling. It’s a free country. But let’s not kid ourselves here.

Remember when East St. Louis lost its city hall in a lawsuit? The Casino Queen was supposed to help revitalize the town. It did pump money into the local government and has provided some jobs, but the casino didn’t do much for economic development otherwise. Alton is no different. Same with Atlantic City.

So, color me skeptical.

If a goodly chunk of the revenues from the casino is dedicated to local reinvestment, then maybe. Perhaps they can use some cash to build a high-end golf/gambling resort or something. Aurora’s Paramount Theater is one example of a casino helping an area.

But Emanuel wants casino revenues directed to the city’s pension funds. I don’t think that simply plopping down a casino will do much for the region. We’ll see.

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      

Pritzker heading to White House today

Thursday, Dec 13, 2018

* During the campaign, JB Pritzker unveiled his “plan to resist Trump”

Donald Trump’s legislative agenda threatens to wreak havoc on the lives of Illinois families. Trump is actively working to dismantle health care in the United States, potentially stripping millions of families of their coverage and targeting those who need it most. He is waging war on science in his refusal to acknowledge climate change and his rejection of the policies that will preserve our future. Trump’s attacks on public education, immigrant families, and people of color are tearing communities apart, and undermining the principles that make this country strong. Every day, Trump is exploiting divisions and peddling hate.

Illinois will be deeply impacted by this administration’s devastating agenda, and Governor Bruce Rauner is asleep at the wheel. Rauner is silent in the face of Trump’s attacks and refuses to put in place policies that will protect Illinois families. Worse, Rauner is actively working to force a special interest agenda on Illinois that will amplify Donald Trump’s destruction. After a 736-day budget crisis, with a state economy in turmoil, and with public school funding at risk, Illinois simply can’t afford Trump’s agenda or more of Rauner’s failed leadership.

My parents raised me with a commitment to social justice. I’ve spent my life fighting for Illinois families and bringing people together to solve big problems for this state. Those values are under attack and I am ready to fight every day to make sure Illinois is a firewall against Donald Trump’s destructive agenda and hateful rhetoric. We will protect and expand health care for all of our families, invest in education, defend our environment, stand with our immigrant families, and fight for civil rights. I’m running for governor because the values that I care about are under siege by Donald Trump and Bruce Rauner and I am ready to stand with passionate Illinoisans and resist.

After Bruce Rauner’s failed leadership, there is so much work to do and this my plan to resist Trump as Illinois’ next governor.

* Today

JB Pritzker will attend a meeting Thursday with other governors-elect at the White House Thursday. The White House says both Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump will meet with the new governors elected this past November.

During the past two years, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner kept his distance from President Trump, rarely attending White House events.

* Sun-Times

“JB was invited to the White House and will be taking this opportunity to advocate for Illinois. As JB said on the campaign trail, he will work with Democrats and Republicans to bring more federal dollars back to the state and fight for policies that benefit working families,” Pritzker transition press secretary Jordan Abudayyeh told the Sun-Times. Pritzker, who will be inaugurated Jan. 14 in Springfield, tied Republican Bruce Rauner to Trump, not particularly popular in Illinois. Pritzker used Chicago’s Trump Tower as a backdrop for Rauner-Trump trashing, in commercials and in a speech.

Quentin Fulks, who was the deputy campaign manager, will be accompanying Pritzker on the day trip.

This is Pritzker’s first visit to Washington since his election in November. On the weekend of Nov. 17, Pritzker traveled to Colorado Springs for the National Governors Association new governor conference.

* Tribune

Despite the attacks, it’s not unusual for newly elected leaders to meet. Soon after Trump was elected president, Mayor Rahm Emanuel met with him at the president’s namesake Manhattan tower. Since then, the mayor’s administration has sued Trump’s multiple times over immigration and other issues.

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      

Sen. Schimpf wants Satanic sculpture removed from rotunda as Rep. Bryant introduces condemnation resolution

Thursday, Dec 13, 2018

* From Sen. Paul Schimpf’s (R-Waterloo) Facebook page

I’ve had a lot of questions about the satanic sculpture at the Capitol. Here’s a letter I delivered to the Secretary of State’s office today asking for the display to be removed:

Dear Secretary White,

I am writing to express my disappointment in your approval of a Satanic statue in the Illinois Capitol Rotunda.

As an attorney who evaluated the legality of religious displays in the United States Marine Corps, I appreciate the complexities associated with balancing the First Amendment with the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution. In this situation, I believe you received poor legal advice recommending approval of the Satanic display.

The Satanic display should not have been approved. It does not celebrate or recognize the observance of a religious holiday. Instead, the display seeks to provoke and antagonize members of the Christian and Jewish faiths. As such, you would have been well within your discretion to deny that display request.

I respectfully request that you reconsider your decision and order the removal of the Satanic statue.

Paul Schimpf
Senator, 58th Legislative District

* From a sign near the display

The State of Illinois is required by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution to allow temporary, public displays in the state capitol so long as these displays are not paid for by taxpayer dollars. Because the first floor of the Capitol Rotunda is a public place, state officials cannot legally censor the content of speech or displays. The United States Supreme Court has held that public officials may legally impose reasonable time, place and manner restrictions regarding displays and speeches, but no regulation can be based on the content of the speech.

* From earlier this month

Dave Druker, spokesman for the secretary of state, said the Chicago-based Satanic group had the right, just like religious organizations, to put up its display in the rotunda.

“Under the Constitution, the First Amendment, people have a right to express their feelings, their thoughts,” Druker said. “This recognizes that.”

* Patch followed up on Sen. Schimpf’s letter

[Lux Armiger, chairperson of the Satanic Temple’s Chicago chapter] says celebrating holidays is not at all a requirement for displays in the rotunda. “No such specification exists,” Armiger told Patch. “These displays are permitted by the Constitution, not because they are recognizing a holiday, but because the space is a public forum.”

This is “something someone with a law degree like Sen. Schimpf should understand. If he does not, Southern Illinois University School of Law should consider rescinding his degree,” Armiger added.

Permitting one group, and not another, to use the forum would be “government-imposed viewpoint discrimination,” he said.

Lucien Greaves, co-founder and national spokesperson for the Satanic Temple, had a simple response to Schimpf’s letter: “No. In fact you aren’t within your rights to deny a religious organization access to a forum for religious expression based simply on your assumptions regarding their intentions.”

* Meanwhile

State Rep. Terri Bryant has introduced a resolution in the Illinois House condemning the decision by the Illinois Secretary of State to allow The Satanic Temple-Chicago to place a statue in the Statehouse rotunda along with displays that celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah.

Bryant, a Republican from Murphysboro, said in a news release that hundreds of constituents have called her office to complain about the statue, which is called “Knowledge is the Greatest Gift” and depicts the forearm of a young woman holding an apple.

Bryant said in the release her resolution would send a message that the House “as a body, reject and condemn the decision to allow this disgusting display at our Capitol.”

* From her resolution

WHEREAS, The Satanic display is nothing more than a publicity stunt meant to cause outrage and division

So, I dunno, maybe ignore it instead of expressing outrage?

- Posted by Rich Miller   87 Comments      

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Thursday, Dec 13, 2018

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* Reader comments closed until Tuesday
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Tribune asked 16 mayoral candidates to release tax returns, 6 complied
* A rough idea of what they're looking at
* Question of the day: Golden Horseshoe Awards
* Rauner was wrong about "record levels" of unionization
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY: Stava-Murray updates
* Pritzker's inauguration ball tix will benefit Cabrini Green Legal Aid Clinic and Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation
* Rauner claims he's been too busy to reflect on his term
* Pritzker's day in DC
* *** UPDATED x3 - Morrison wants emergency meeting of ILGOP - McConnaughay explains - Schneider responds *** Rauner says he tried to drop out of race after primary
* Feds re-raid Ald. Burke's office
* Yesterday's stories

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