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The bluster continues

Monday, Sep 21, 2020

* BND

The Fainting Goat restaurant in Pocahontas, which has served customers inside this month despite a state-imposed ban on such services, has been cited by the Illinois State Police for an alleged violation of the Illinois Department of Public Health Act.

An attorney for the restaurant’s owners said the citation has “no merit.” […]

As of Sept. 12, the positivity rate in Clinton County was 17.6% and in Bond County it was 11.3%, according to the latest available statistics from the state.

Wanna guess who the lawyer is?

Tom DeVore, a Bond County attorney who is representing the Driemeyers, said the ticket issued on Thursday to The Fainting Goat in Pocahontas and another one issued to a client in Monroe County should not have been issued based on his interpretation of state law. […]

DeVore argues that according to this section, citations can only be issued “when there is a rule of the department of health that’s being violated or part of the actual health law that has been violated.”

If people in Region 4 continue listening to DeVore and his ilk, they will never get out of mitigation. Just ridiculous.

* From the Illinois State Police

In response to a consistently high positivity rate in Region 4 and complaints about a small number of businesses violating public health rules, the Illinois Department of Public Health requested assistance from the Illinois State Police in our role of helping to enforce IDPH emergency rules. As outlined in the administrative rule, enforcement is an incremental process starting with a notice of non-compliance. If businesses continue to not comply, as has been the case in some instances in region 4, state or local law enforcement can issue the business a misdemeanor citation, similar to enforcing indoor smoking laws. Local state’s attorneys determine how to proceed as they would in any other misdemeanor case.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


US Attorney hoped his answer would clarify his position, but it didn’t

Monday, Sep 21, 2020

* Been one of those days. I forgot to post my own weekly syndicated newspaper column

During both the impeachment proceedings against Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the disciplinary proceedings that led to the expulsion of state Rep. Derrick Smith, D-Chicago, the Illinois House was able to call witnesses.

But because of ongoing federal investigations in both instances, the U.S. attorney limited what some of those witnesses could be asked. Blagojevich had been charged with multiple felonies and Smith had been caught on audio accepting a cash bribe.

“We couldn’t call certain witnesses because we couldn’t ask them anything but their name,” explained an attorney who worked on both cases.

Last week, the House Republicans informed a Chicago newspaper that U.S. Attorney John Lausch had granted permission to call witnesses to a special House committee taking a look at whether disciplinary proceedings should be started against House Speaker Michael Madigan over his alleged role in a bribery scheme detailed in ComEd’s Deferred Prosecution Agreement. The company, you certainly know by now, agreed to pay a $200 million fine for its alleged role, although it has entered a plea of “not guilty” for the time being.

Not so fast, said the committee’s Democratic chairman, Rep. Chris Welch, D-Hillside. The U.S. attorney, Welch claimed, “requested we refrain from seeking any materials or testimony related to [ComEd’s deferred prosecution agreement] that is still confidential or anything in the possession of the federal government.”

In other words, Welch said, “we can call witnesses, but we can’t really ask them any questions.”

The committee’s next step was to draft a letter memorializing the conversation with Lausch and send it to Lausch’s office for a co-sign.

But Welch accused the House Republicans of playing political games and the Republicans were shocked, shocked that someone would suggest such a thing, and drafting a bipartisan response proved impossible.

So, the two parties, divided 3-3 on the committee, each drafted their own, conflicting letters.

Lausch responded to the two letters shortly thereafter.

“We hope this clarifies the positions we described in our Sept. 14 call,” he wrote.

Nope. Not even close.

The House Republicans issued an immediate statement claiming that Lausch’s response had given the committee “the green light to pursue all avenues of the investigation, including testimony and documents, that were articulated in the petition.” The petition forcing the creation of the committee was filed by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and focused mainly on ComEd’s deferred prosecution agreement.

Welch, the committee’s chairman, an attorney and strong ally of Madigan, claimed his reading of Lausch’s letter was that “information underlying the deferred prosecution agreement beyond what is already public could be met with objection by federal investigators.”

Lausch did reserve the right to object to specific testimony or documents. But he also said his office didn’t object “generally” to the committee’s “pursuit of testimony or production of documents.” The witnesses just couldn’t say whether they shared that information with the government or what they learned from federal investigators.

“The feds say we can ask our own questions as long as we don’t ask ‘Did you tell the feds XYZ?” is how one Republican put it.

So, I assume the Republicans could ask Madigan if he ever tried to get anyone appointed to ComEd’s board of directors, or if he knew that people were being hired on contract with ComEd’s money to do no-show jobs. But would he answer the questions or even appear?

“If the GOP’s objective is to get Madigan sitting in front of them unable to answer questions, then they won that one,” said one attorney close to the House Democrats. “If the objective is to actually do an investigation, then they lost.”

We’ll see.

Welch set the next hearing for Sept. 29 in Springfield. He also said he sent letters requesting testimony from Madigan and everyone on the House Republicans’ witness list.

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      


Question of the day

Monday, Sep 21, 2020

* Rep. Sam Yingling

Last week I tested positive for the COVID-19 virus after experiencing symptoms I thought were allergy related. The initial symptoms included significant sinus congestion and drainage. Those symptoms quickly evolved into cold-like conditions including sore throat, cough, chest congestion, headache, fatigue, and body aches.

Upon learning that I had tested positive for COVID-19, I immediately notified anyone with whom I knowingly came into contact and encouraged them to get tested. We all have a responsibility to slow and stop the spread of the virus by wearing face coverings, staying 6 feet apart, and getting tested if we have symptoms or have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19.

This is a very real virus that is proliferating in our communities and residents need to remain vigilant by following the protocols outlined by the Illinois Department of Public Heath and the Lake County Health Department. This is a highly contagious and opportunistic virus that does not discriminate.

I am following the guidelines outlined by the IDPH and the Lake County Health Department. I am recovering and remain quarantined at my home. My legislative district office will remain open and operating remotely as it has been since the beginning of the pandemic.

Thank you and stay safe.

* The Question: Do you know anyone who has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus? Explain.

- Posted by Rich Miller   58 Comments      


More than 500 elected officials, others say “No” to Kilbride

Monday, Sep 21, 2020

* ILGOP…

Today, the Illinois Republican Party is proud to announce the formation of the Vote NO on Kilbride grassroots coalition. The coalition is made up of more than 500 elected officials, community leaders, and activists from across the 3rd Judicial District who publicly urge a NO vote on the retention campaign of Madigan’s Favorite Judge, Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride.

“I’m honored to be joined by so many leaders and reformers in calling for an independent state Supreme Court where the people of Illinois have a fair shake. Right now, they don’t. Justice Kilbride is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Madigan Machine. After receiving $2.8 million in campaign cash from Mike Madigan, Justice Kilbride delivered results that were great for the Speaker’s pursuit of power and disastrous for the taxpayers of Illinois. That’s why Kilbride is Madigan’s favorite judge and why he must be defeated in November.” - ILGOP Chairman Tim Schneider

Justice Kilbride’s Illinois Supreme Court under Madigan’s control has blocked every major economic reform that could improve the state’s legal and business climates – namely pension reform, tort reform, and medical malpractice caps. Time and again, Kilbride has sided with government insiders and special interests over taxpayers, leading to higher taxes and more corruption.

And the biggest payoff for Madigan’s $2.8 million investment in Kilbride’s judicial career has been weaponizing the Supreme Court to block any challenge to his political power. Kilbride successfully blocked term limits in 2014. In 2001, Kilbride was the deciding vote to uphold Madigan’s gerrymandered map, and in 2016, Kilbride wrote the majority opinion striking down the citizen-led ballot (“Fair Maps”) initiative that would have given voters a say in redistricting and taken the power away from Madigan to draw gerrymandered maps.

Justice Kilbride is Madigan’s Favorite Judge because the judge has been one of the Speaker’s greatest instruments for amassing and maintaining his immense power in state government and politics.

Coalition Members

Illinois Republican Congressmen

Adam Kinzinger, IL-16 Congressman
Darin LaHood, IL-18 Congressman
Mike Bost, IL-12 Congressman
Rodney Davis, IL-13 Congressman
John Shimkus, IL-15 Congressman

Statewide Leaders

Jim Durkin, House Minority Leader
Bill Brady, Senate Minority Leader
Tim Schneider, ILGOP Chairman
Richard Porter, RNC National Committeeman
Demetra Demonte, RNC National Committeewoman
Mark Shaw, ILGOP Co-Chair & President of Republican County Chairman’s Association

3rd Judicial District Legislators

Neil Anderson, 36th State Senate
Chuck Weaver, 37th State Senate
Sue Rezin, 38th State Senate
John Curran, 41st State Senate
Jil Tracy, 47th State Senate
Jason Barickman, 53rd State Senate
Margo McDermed, 37th State Representative
Grant Wehrli, 41st State Representative
Tony McCombie, 71st State Representative
Ryan Spain, 73rd State Representative
Dan Swanson, 74th State Representative
David Welter, 75th State Representative
Tim Butler, 87th State Representative
Keith Sommer, 88th State Representative
Tom Demmer, 90th State Representative
Norine Hammond, 93rd State Representative
Mark Batinick, 97th State Representative
Thomas Bennett, 106th State Representative

The full list (it’s quite long) is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** CUB scorched in WBEZ profile

Monday, Sep 21, 2020

* WBEZ

After winning Springfield’s support for a multibillion-dollar piece of legislation in 2016, Commonwealth Edison decided to celebrate with a pair of invitation-only events at a Gatsby-esque River North nightspot once known as the Montgomery Club.

The first party featured cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and was to last two to three hours. At the second, more exclusive soiree, ComEd’s retiring top lobbyist was being toasted for getting the bill passed and for a long career in and around state government.

The guest list included more than two dozen executives from ComEd and its parent, Exelon. There were also company lobbyists and the bluest of blue-chip political luminaries: Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, whose son was also invited.

But there was another invitee who stood out.

David Kolata and the organization he has led for 15 years, the Citizens Utility Board, are supposed to be thorns in the sides of ComEd and Exelon. But in 2016, Kolata’s consumer advocacy group instead sided with the power companies, enabling them to boost ratepayers’ electricity bills by billions of dollars over a decade to subsidize underperforming nuclear plants.

The story eventually becomes far more nuanced than the fire and brimstone beginning might indicate, so go read the rest.

*** UPDATE *** CUB is out with a long response. Click here to read it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


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Monday, Sep 21, 2020

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Fight back against the idiots flying Confederate flags at Lincoln College and posting racist threats on Facebook: #SaveLincolnsLegacy

Monday, Sep 21, 2020

* WMAY

Officials at Lincoln College in Lincoln are condemning a series of social media posts and other incidents that they say are racist.

While Lincoln is a predominantly white community, the student body of the college is 60 percent Black or Latino.

The Bloomington Pantagraph says there have been recent online posts disparaging students as “animals,” and people have driven through the campus in cars displaying the Confederate flag while shouting insults and threats.

Um, this is not a “they say” thing. It’s racism. Period.

Tons of small, private liberal arts colleges are closing throughout the country. The town is darned lucky to have a viable college and yet some residents do this?

Also, our old pal Rikeesha Phelon just ended her term on the college’s board of trustees, but she’s remaining active and she and her fellow trustees have really done a remarkable job keeping that college going.

* Lincoln College President David Gerlach

At a time when our community is facing social, financial, and emotional challenges primarily due to the novel coronavirus, we need to band together to offer support and encouragement to one another.

In the midst of these challenges, I was notified of negative and racially-charged portrayals of Lincoln College students being shared on local Facebook profiles. Several of the comments included threats of violence against students and generally implicit racism.

Ironically, these negative, racist comments came on the same day that our student athletes were selected by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) as Champions of Character Silver Award Winners for volunteer contributions to the community over the past year.

Unfortunately, the bigoted behavior has not been limited to online activities. Our students have also had to endure vehicles displaying confederate flags driving through campus and incidents of shouting insults and threats. This behavior would be appalling in any community, but it is incomprehensible how anyone living in a city named for Abraham Lincoln could display flags that pay tribute to those who tried to destroy our nation.

I know that the social media comments represent just a tiny handful of individuals and are not representative of the overall Lincoln community. Unfortunately, for students who are young and living away from home for the first time in their lives, a few comments can feel as though the entire community is against them and wants them to feel unwelcome.

Lincoln College brings together students of different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives which allows us to live and learn together. Our diverse student body enables us to enrich our campus and the Logan County community.

Lincoln College has a $53 million annual economic impact on Lincoln and Logan County. All businesses and residents of the community benefit either directly or indirectly from that investment. The students that are the target of these attacks are the source of that economic impact. Those who attack our students are, in a very literal sense, biting the hands that feed them.

Our students have only a few short years in our community. But, for the rest of their lives, as they pursue careers, build businesses, make investment decisions, and influence others, they will carry with them the impressions of the community they develop during these years. Lincoln and Logan County cannot afford to let a tiny group of hate-filled individuals soil its reputation for decades to come.

Please show kindness and patience to our Lincoln College students, as well as the entire community.

Idiots are parading Confederate flags through Lincoln College. I never thought I’d see the day. Please tell me again how that flag is about “heritage.” The heritage of Lincoln, Illinois and Lincoln College is the Union, not the traitors.

* But rather than shout into the wind, we ought to step up and do something about it.

Please, click here and donate to Lincoln College’s LINCOLN Fund. Enter the hashtag #SaveLincolnsLegacy (suggested by Rikeesha) in the “comments” box. I just contributed $1,000. Times are tough for too many, so that means the rest of us who are more fortunate should dig a little deeper. I’ll check later this week to see if we can get a total from the college.

Thanks!

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


Careful what you wish for

Monday, Sep 21, 2020

* Nextstar

Gov. J.B. Pritzker walked off a press conference in Macomb Friday afternoon.

Pritzker went to Macomb to discuss the Census and began by addressing the shooting in a dorm hall on Western Illinois University’s campus Tuesday night. […]

A member of the crowd then asked if the governor would stop utility shutoffs.

“I think you know that from the very beginning, we’ve gotten most of the utilities in the state of Illinois to agree to a moratorium on shutoffs. It’s my intention to continue to lean on them to do the right thing. I must say though that many of them have stepped forward to do the right thing on their own. Some slightly more reluctant than others, but they’ve come to the table,” said Pritzker.

People in the crowd then began chanting, “No utility shutoffs,” and Pritzker was escorted away by staff.

I watched the video and it didn’t look like he was being escorted away.

More importantly, though, just how in the heck is the governor supposed to unilaterally prohibit utilities from shutting off customers? What in the world would give him that authority?

* The far left has made some highly questionable demands this year. Last March, they demanded that the governor unilaterally cancel the spring primary. They’ve also demanded that the governor cancel rent payments. And now it’s utility shut-offs.

Yes, the governor has unusual powers during the pandemic, granted by previous General Assemblies over the last century. But people need to stop demanding that he act even more like a dictator. And the news media should at least point out the legal problems with these outrageous demands.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


1,477 new cases, 7 additional deaths, 1,436 in the hospital, 3.5 percent positivity rate, state surpasses 5 million tests

Monday, Sep 21, 2020

* Press release…

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today reported 1,477 new confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 7 additional confirmed deaths.

    • Cook County: 1 male 50s, 2 females 70s, 1 male 70s, 1 female 80s
    • Ford County: 1 male 60s
    • Macon County: 1 female 80s

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 275,735 cases, including 8,457 deaths, in 102 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from September 14 – September 20 is 3.5%. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 38,234 specimens for a total of 5,143,387. As of last night, 1,436 people in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 364 patients were in the ICU and 153 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, IDPH is now reporting separately both confirmed and probable cases and deaths on its website. Reporting probable cases will help show the potential burden of COVID-19 illness and efficacy of population-based non-pharmaceutical interventions. IDPH will update these data once a week.

*All data are provisional and will change. In order to rapidly report COVID-19 information to the public, data are being reported in real-time. Information is constantly being entered into an electronic system and the number of cases and deaths can change as additional information is gathered. For health questions about COVID-19, call the hotline at 1-800-889-3931 or email dph.sick@illinois.gov.

* Press release…

At an event in Springfield, Governor JB Pritzker and IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike celebrated the state surpassing 5 million COVID-19 tests since the beginning of the pandemic. The governor and Dr. Ezike also detailed how the state continues to strengthen its nation-leading testing operation as Illinois continues to set new records in daily tests.

“In a pandemic, widely available testing and faster results mean our people are safer,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Here in Illinois, we’ve steadily added new in-state commercial labs and greater hospital and university lab capacity utilization to get to an average of more than 50,000 tests per day. We do three and a half times the testing the average state does. And we’re one of the fastest states in delivering tests back to our residents. I intend for Illinois to remain a leader in the fight against COVID-19, in part by making sure we are on the leading edge of technology and its proliferation throughout the state.”

“Testing is a critical step in reducing the spread of the virus, because a positive test result begins the contact tracing process, which identifies who was exposed and needs to be quarantined to prevent further spread,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. “Currently IDPH has 11 community-based testing sites around the state, as well as mobile testing teams that are deployed each week to various locations throughout Illinois. Anyone can go there to get tested, or at any state testing site. You don’t have to have symptoms, or a doctor’s referral or order, and there is no cost to you for testing.”

ILLINOIS SETS TESTING RECORDS

On Saturday, Illinois surpassed more than 5 million tests since the beginning of this pandemic – making ours one of the first states in the nation to do so. This benchmark was reached as the state has expanded testing capacity to over 52,000 tests a day on average and as Illinois labs reported more than 74,000 tests in a one-day period over the past weekend – two new highs.

Compared to the rest of the country, Illinois ranks third in the number of daily tests over the last week, behind only California and New York, and currently does 3.5 times the amount of testing than the average state. Illinois tops the Midwest by a large margin, doing 50 percent more testing than the second highest state, even while those states are among the top ten in the nation.

Illinois Department of Public Health labs have been a key part of this effort. The state’s three labs alone have done over 615,000 COVID-19 tests, more than 12 percent of all tests done in the state since the pandemic began. Beginning with a single-day capacity of 219 in March, IDPH labs have been running over 5,000 a day since June, a 23-fold increase in three months’ time.

TESTING OPERATION SPANS EVERY CORNER OF ILLINOIS

As the first in the nation to run its own tests in state, Illinois’ testing operation spans approximately 300 locations, including more than 100 Federally Qualified Health Centers which serve the most vulnerable in our communities and 25 state testing sites and teams. In order to respond to outbreaks, the state has mobile testing capacity to reach areas in every corner of the state, including places like meatpacking plants, nursing homes, migrant worker housing and other communities less able to access traditional testing clinics or in areas facing high levels of community spread – like the Metro East where mobile teams are currently deployed.

To continue building on this progress, the state is looking to new methods of testing including more fast-acting antigen testing like Illinois’ own Abbott’s BinaxNOW, saliva testing like that developed at Illinois’ own flagship University campus and continuing to grow our testing targeted at vulnerable communities. As has been the case since the beginning of the pandemic, all state-run testing sites are available to residents free of charge, with no insurance required.

* Sunday

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today reported 1,402 new confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 14 additional confirmed deaths.

    Cook County: 1 male 50s, 1 male 60s, 1 male 70s, 1 male 80s, 1 female 90s
    Douglas County: 1 female 70s
    Greene County: 1 male 60s
    Lake County: 1 male 70s
    Macon County: 1 male 60s, 1 female 70s, 1 male 70s
    Perry County: 1 female 70s
    Whiteside County: 1 male 60s
    Woodford County: 1 male 50s

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 274,258 cases, including 8,450 deaths, in 102 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from September 13 – September 19 is 3.5%. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 48,011 specimens for a total of 5,105,153. As of last night, 1,417 people in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 357 patients were in the ICU and 151 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

* Saturday

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today reported 2,529 new confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 25 additional confirmed deaths.

    Bureau County: 1 female 50s
    Cook County: 1 male 50s, 2 females 60s, 1 male 60s, 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s, 1 female 90s
    Edgar County: 1 female 70s, 1 female 80s
    Greene County: 1 female 90s, 1 male 90s
    LaSalle County: 1 male 50s
    Macon County: 1 male 60s, 1 female 90s
    Macoupin County: 1 female 70s
    Montgomery County: 1 male 80s
    Rock Island County: 1 female 70s
    St. Clair County: 1 female 70s
    Tazewell County: 1 male 70s, 1 female 80s, 1 female 90s
    Warren County: 1 male 80s
    Will County: 1 female 70s, 1 male 80s

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 272,856 cases, including 8,436 deaths, in 102 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from September 12 – September 18 is 3.5%. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 74,286 specimens for a total of 5,057,142. As of last night, 1,469 people in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 326 patients were in the ICU and 141 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      


“Show of force” falls short

Monday, Sep 21, 2020

* Saturday in Chicago from the Sun-Times

The Let Us Play protest Saturday at the Thompson Center was intended to be a show of force and numbers to put pressure on Gov. J.B. Pritzker to change his mind and allow all fall sports, especially football, to be played now instead of in the spring.

That isn’t how it turned out. An estimated 400 to 500 people showed up, the overwhelming majority wearing apparel from Lincoln-Way East, Loyola and Batavia.

There wasn’t a single Chicago school with a significant presence. Brother Rice football coach Brian Badke was on hand with three players, and there was a coach or two in attendance from about 10 Public League teams.

* Saturday in Springfield…


* Sunday in Chicago

Student athletes pushing for the return of fall sports planned to rally at Soldier Field Sunday before the Bears home opener, but the rally has been canceled.

* Fox Springfield

“Look around to the other states,” Auburn Wrestling Head Coach Matt Grimm said. “If the other states are doing it, why can’t we? They keep telling us that they’re following the science. Well, they have to follow the science to do the things that they are doing in the other states. Okay, why don’t we get with those people to find out what they’re doing, they’re doing it right and do it here. Our kids need this. Our kids need to be back in school. Our kids need athletics. They need an outlet.”

As my mom might say, “If another governor jumped off the roof, would you follow him?”

* ABC 7 Chicago

“The one thing you haven’t heard the governor say is that there will absolutely not be additional fall sports,” said Joe Trost, an advocate for student-athletes. “He hasn’t said that everything will be pushed to next spring. There’s been conversations going on behind-the-scenes with the Illinois Department of Public Health and the IHSA Sports Medicine Committee. … They’ve been having communication throughout the week.” […]

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike spoke with the IHSA Board about its safety plan for those sports, including football, soccer and volleyball, sources have said.

As we discussed last week, there are no ongoing conversations about this topic.

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      


*** UPDATED x4 *** Rep. Grant: “These comments do not reflect my heart or my faith”

Monday, Sep 21, 2020

* Media advisory…

State Reps. Will Davis, Camille Lilly, Greg Harris and Emanuel Chris Welch will present evidence of racist and homophobic statements made by a member of the General Assembly at a virtual press conference on Monday, Sept. 21 at 10 a.m. The offensive statements were recorded and will be released to the public during this event.

Rep. Amy Grant (R-Wheaton) is the subject of the recording. She speaks in the call about her opponent, Democrat Ken Mejia-Beal, who is a gay, Black Democrat. This was supposedly a fundraising call. Click here for what the House Dems say is evidence that Rep. Grant knew she was being recorded, although she is not heard giving permission. “To her recollection, Rep Grant did not give permission to be recorded,” said a House Republican spokesperson. However, the Democrats also claimed that there is little to no expectation of privacy for a legislator or a candidate.

* Grant excerpt

I mean he’s just another one of the Cook County people. That’s all you’re gonna vote for is Cook County, another, ya know, Black Caucus, that’s all we need is another person in the Black Caucus. Yeah, so anyhow. And I’m all for, ya know, I work across the aisle and Will Davis is a buddy of mine and he’s in leadership and I am a friend of his and he respects me.

* Another Grant excerpt

GRANT: Well, I think he’s afraid to come into the district actually, into the heart of the district anyhow.

CALLER: Why? Why do you think so? Why do you think he’s afraid? I’m just curious.

GRANT: I just think that maybe he’s afraid of the reaction that people might give him. Not because he’s Black, but because of the way he talks. He’s all LGBTQ. He wants to work for the chronically ill. He just gives us like crazy, and every week it’s a different reason for why he wants to get into the race.

The Democrats said they wouldn’t release the entire recording because of issues with personal identification. “She talks about other people, is disparaging of other people,” Rep. Welch said, adding “I just thought that it wasn’t our place to reveal the entire call.”

* From Rep. Grant

I deeply regret the comments I made about Ken Mejia-Beal, and reached out to apologize to him this morning. These comments do not reflect my heart or my faith.

* I asked the Democrats about the apology and Rep. Welch said this…

We have to question her questioning an opponent talking about the chronically ill. If you’re living with diabetes, you’re living with high blood pressure, you have pancreatic cancer like Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and you fought, you’re fighting like a champion like she did. Rep. Amy Grant has a problem with you speaking for the chronically ill. We heard that on that tape. Do we want someone like that in the Illinois legislature? This call questions her character and is completely inconsistent with her apology that she makes now, because she was caught on tape. But what’s she saying when she’s not on tape?

* I followed up with Welch and asked if this rose to the level of conduct unbecoming a legislator, since Welch chairs the committee that’s considering whether to punish House Speaker Michael Madigan for that very thing…

I think people should listen to that tape and listen to it repeatedly, and that’s a question for everyone to ask themselves. I think Leader Durkin should ask himself that question. I think Rep. Mazzochi [a fellow investigative committee member] should ask herself that question, Grant Wehrli [another investigative committee member] should ask himself that question, and honestl, answer that question because listen to the tape, she has a problem with Blacks, LGBTQ people, and the chronically ill. And so, I’ll let others answer that question for you, Rich.

“Release the tapes,” said House GOP spokesperson Eleni Demertzis this morning.

*** UPDATE 1 *** Press release…

On a recorded fundraising call, Rep. Amy Grant (R-Wheaton) made racist and homophobic remarks aimed at her Democratic challenger, Ken Mejia-Beal, a Black gay man. We the undersigned members of the Illinois House LGBTQ Caucus condemn this hateful rhetoric in the strongest terms possible.

The LGBTQ Caucus believes this kind of hate speech has no place in Illinois, especially from an elected state representative. The fact that these comments were made when Rep. Grant knew the call was being recorded demonstrates the emboldening and normalization of racism and homophobia, a deeply troubling trend that we have witnessed during the Trump era. To criticize and ridicule someone for who they are and who they love is despicable and unacceptable.

People in our community have fought for decades against discrimination and to be represented in our government at every level. There are LGBTQ people in every town and village and every corner of our state. For Ms. Grant to talk about needing fewer members of the Black Caucus and fewer LGBTQ members is just wrong.

This is a stark reminder that we as elected officials must continue the fight for equality and inclusion in the face of hate.

SIGNED,

Majority Leader Greg Harris
Representative Kelly Cassidy
Representative Yoni Pizer
Representative Lamont Robinson
Representative Sam Yingling

*** UPDATE 2 *** Senator Laura Ellman…

“We’ve gone through so much this year, fear, anger, uncertainty, distrust, outrage. And now this. Grant’s racist, homophobic remarks, and her words on the chronically ill, knowing she was being recorded, not only show her small mind and her cold heart, but show how little she cares for the people she represents. We don’t have time for this, the stakes are too high. We need people with expansive minds and compassionate hearts who work hard in Springfield. We need Ken Mejia-Beal.”

*** UPDATE 3 *** Ken Mejia-Beal…

“I am a DuPage County resident. I’m a financial professional. I’m a husband. I’m an advocate for property tax relief, access to health care, and other issues I am passionate about. But in her hurtful, degrading, and wholly unacceptable comments which have now come to light, Representative Grant makes it clear that she sees only the color of my skin and my sexual orientation – and that in her mind disqualifies me as a leader and even disqualifies me as a member of our community.

“Nowhere in Representative Grant’s one-line public response or the phone message she left me reading that same message is any acknowledgement that the statements she made so matter-of-factly on those recordings were also a grievous insult to every member of our community. Where is Representative Grant’s apology to those who hear her comments and wonder if they fit into her vision of our community? Where is the apology to all whose faith calls them to love their neighbors as themselves? Where is her apology to all in our area who are sick of politicians dividing people with their rhetoric? And where is Representative Grant’s commitment to use the time she has remaining in office to finally represent all of our unique community?

“I am running because I know we are a stronger, better community than the one Representative Grant depicts in her hurtful words and extreme agenda – and the people I talk to in every part of our district know that too.”

*** UPDATE 4 *** Equality Illinois…

Equality Illinois condemns the racist and homophobic comments made by State Rep. Amy Grant against her challenger, Ken Mejia-Beal, a Black gay man.

In a phone call to a donor released today, Grant said: “He’s afraid of the reaction people might give him, not because he’s Black, but because of the way he talks. He’s all LGBTQ, he wants to work for the chronically ill…” We at Equality Illinois and in the LGBTQ community recognize this age-old homophobic attack against gay men. Grant also made a pointed racist remark by saying “all we need is another person in the Black Caucus.”

Even in the age of Trump, Illinoisans expect their elected officials to act with integrity and in accordance with Illinois values of equality and inclusion. Amy Grant fails even that basic test. She is clearly unable to represent all of her constituents with equal care and respect. Her apology is insufficient for an elected official in 2020.

Homophobia and bigotry must have no home in DuPage County or anywhere in Illinois. Grant must drop out of the election. If she does not, the voters of the Forty-Second District must reject her and send a message on Election Day that love trumps hate.

- Posted by Rich Miller   59 Comments      


Illinois Lawmakers, Please Seize This Moment On Clean Energy And New Jobs

Monday, Sep 21, 2020

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Cleaner, greener energy. Fewer emissions. More jobs. That’s what Springfield lawmakers can deliver, thanks to Gov. Pritzker’s leadership in reviving clean energy legislation and putting forward thoughtful, ambitious principles to guide its progress.

As one of Illinois’ diverse energy providers, bp applauds Gov. Pritzker’s vision for a clean, renewable economy and urges state legislators to seize the moment for a comprehensive climate bill that includes a price on carbon.

Why? Because as Gov. Pritzker points out, “implementing a carbon price makes dirty energy less competitive, reduces emissions, creates room for renewable energy development, and raises revenue for the state.”

It’s fair to ask: why is an integrated energy company like bp advocating for carbon pricing? Because it aligns with our own low carbon ambition. Because we see business opportunity. Most of all, because we believe this is the right thing to do.

Read more about the Governor’s clean energy plan in our op-ed: https://thesouthern.com/opinion

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


To be clear, those Foxx numbers were from a poll of Lipinski’s district

Monday, Sep 21, 2020

* At first or even second or possibly third glance, you might think that these Foxx/O’Brien poll results are countywide

A new Ogden & Fry poll commissioned by the Cook County Republican Party shows Joe Biden clobbering Donald Trump but has Republican Pat O’Brien edging Kim Foxx in the Cook County State’s Attorney Race and Marie Newman in a tight race in the 3rd Congressional District.

Asked if the election were held today, O’Brien received 57.9 percent to Foxx’s 30.7 percent (“other candidate” or undecided garnered 11.4 percent).

But if you believed that this was a countywide poll, you would be wrong. Here’s the polling memo’s headline

IL Congressional District 3

The last census showed that CD3’s voting age population was only 4.54 percent Black. Now, to be clear, getting clobbered by 18 points in Lipinski’s district is definitely not a good thing for Foxx, but the district is not representative of the county as a whole.

* And this is an email I received from the Cook County GOP last week…

Cook County Republican Party Chairman Sean M. Morrison commissioned the polling firm Ogden & Fry to conduct a county-wide poll on the race for Cook County State’s Attorney featuring embattled Democrat incumbent Kim Foxx versus GOP challenger Judge Pat O’Brien.

The results of the Ogden & Fry poll shows Judge O’Brien has significantly closed the gap over the last 8 weeks with Foxx’s numbers falling below 50%.

    48.1% — Kim Foxx
    33.8% — Pat O’Brien
    18.1% — Undecided

The Ogden & Fry poll spoke with 447 Likely Voters with the margin of error for the poll is +/- 3.77% at the 95% confidence interval. The poll was conducted on September 5, 2020.

Also, it’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg, not Ginsberg.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


Illinois politicos, others eulogize RBG

Monday, Sep 21, 2020

* Posted in the order they were received on Friday. US Rep. Lauren Underwood…

It is impossible to put into words the sadness and grief our country feels with the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Justice Ginsburg was a giant for justice and a force that represented the best of our judicial system and our country. I am personally shaken and devastated. Her fierce advocacy for the protection of rights for all people under the law—women, workers, LGBTQ people alike—and her guardianship of the Constitution must not be taken for granted. As a lawyer, she challenged and defined ‘equal justice under the law’ in a way that changed our country to make it fairer and better. As a Supreme Court justice, she upheld those sacred principles. Her life and work paved a way for women like me to challenge norms and fight for people and causes that make our country stronger.

Our democracy depends on the American people having a voice by electing a President who will fill this vacancy.

* US Sen. Tammy Duckworth…

There are no words to adequately express just how devastated and heartbroken I am to learn of the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Not only did our nation lose a brilliant jurist, we lost a hero—a 5’1” giant who gave a voice to girls and women everywhere and moved the needle forward in our long fight toward justice and equality for all.

Like so, so many other Americans tonight, I am deeply grateful for all that Justice Ginsburg did to ensure equal protection under the law for women across this country and to defend the rights of so many others. She will be sorely missed, but her unparalleled legacy and impact will never be forgotten.

Tonight we are devastated, but tomorrow we will roll up our sleeves and keep working. We must honor her legacy by redoubling our efforts to safeguard the rights of women, the rights of Americans with disabilities and the rights of all Americans for future generations. We cannot let up now.

* Gov. JB Pritzker…

America has lost an icon and inspiration. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was first a trailblazer and then a bulwark for equality, whether you are a woman, gay, a person of color or disabled. Just as importantly, she was a shining role model for girls everywhere - a testament to working hard and fighting for what’s right. Her legacy will endure, but only if we fight as hard as she did to protect it.

MK and I grieve for Justice Ginsberg’s family, friends and followers - but most of all, our entire nation. Our prayer is that we honor this giant by honoring her fervent dying wish.

* US Rep. Bill Foster…

The passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a devastating loss for the Supreme Court and our country, and my thoughts go to her family during this very difficult time. Americans of all backgrounds benefitted from her fierce commitment to defending the rights enshrined in our Constitution. She was truly a pioneer in the legal world and an American hero.

Very soon, the principles of personal integrity and fair play on which the Senate has always operated will be tested, as each Senator decides whether to abide by recent precedent that a vacancy on the Court should not be filled before the American people have a chance to make their voices heard in an upcoming presidential election.

* US Sen. Dick Durbin…

The Supreme Court’s most valiant champion for justice in our lifetime is gone. Justice Ginsburg was an American hero.

Please remember Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s demand that Supreme Court vacancies go unfilled during a presidential election year, which was also Justice Ginsburg’s dying wish. Senator McConnell pleaded with us to let the voters have the last word. Every member of the Senate should be asked to commit to the McConnell Rule.

Rest in peace, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

* Republican Cook County State’s Attorney Candidate Judge Pat O’Brien…

I am deeply saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. A brilliant lawyer and justice who not only fought valiantly for the rights of women and minorities but also became a mentor for generations.

Justice Ginsburg broke barriers to become a respected and formidable legal mind and force on the court. Her work earned her the respect from leaders on both sides of the political aisle and her influence was evident from millennials to seniors. This is truly a sad day for all Americans.

* Thomas More Society Founder, President and Chief Counsel Tom Brejcha…

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will go down in legal history as a Jurist of very high stature and lasting repute who played a pioneering and pivotal role in paving the way for the advancement of women lawyers to their present positions of power and influence in our legal profession. She was supremely gifted and dedicated in her singular devotion and masterly contributions to the legal and associated social reforms that brought about this monumental progress over the many decades of her labors. But what marks her as a truly legendary jurist is her fidelity to the law, as a body of principles that stands apart from, and transcends, mere policy preferences and political partisanship, however deeply felt and ardently fought for. Thus we witnessed her voting twice in favor of our advocacy, which was assailed (stridently albeit baselessly) in so many quarters in the marathon NOW vs. Scheidler litigation, which gave birth to our Thomas More Society, a public interest law firm. The case lasted over 28 years from start to finish, and it culminated in a pair of successive U.S. Supreme Court decisions against the use of the federal racketeering and extortion laws against peaceable non-violent political protest. In that case, Justice Ginsburg joined an 8-1 majority in Scheidler II, handed down in 2003, and then again she joined an 8-0 majority in Scheidler III, handed down in 2006 (Justice O’Connor having retired, or it would have been 9-0) — proving herself faithful to the operative legal principles that proved dispositive, despite the fact that she was casting her vote against the National Organization for Women, another high profile advocate for the cause, so styled, of women’s rights. We deeply disagreed with her about abortion rights, but we too, at the Thomas More Society, salute her record of judicial service and mourn her passing.

* Illinois Holocaust Museum…

According to Jewish tradition, a person who dies on Rosh Hashanah, which began tonight, is a person of great righteousness. That is certainly true of Justice Ginsburg.

“As an institution, we have been lucky enough to be telling her remarkable story for the last 7 months, whether in person in our Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg exhibition or virtually,” says VP of Education and Exhibitions, Kelley Szany. “She has become a friend to us.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an amazing woman, full of spunk and grace and a quiet yet steely determination. She came of age in a time that was not supportive of women and the role they play in society. She fought discrimination at Harvard Law and when trying to find a job.

When she volunteered at the ACLU and saw the many challenges faced by women through their letters, it informed her life’s work. She used the law as a vehicle for change. And to reinforce the tenant that all people are created equal.

Her commitment to changing society was consistent and deliberate, and she argued case after case with the underlying theme that people should not be defined by their sex.

RBG was not just an attorney and judge, but a woman of huge heart, giant vision, and remarkable work ethic. She also became a cultural icon, gaining the attention and respect of so many through her humor, workouts, and fashion sense, using her collars to indicate her point of view for Supreme court decisions.

“While we will continue to tell RBG’s story at our Museum through January, we will always be inspired by her and will work to build on her legacy in the ongoing fight for human rights,” says Museum CEO Susan Abrams.

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg explores the life of mother, lawyer, judge, Supreme Court Justice, and pop culture icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg and is on display through Jan. 3, 2021. The exhibition tells Ginsburg’s story using a dynamic array of gallery interactives, listening stations, historical artifacts, and contemporary art.

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is organized and circulated by the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, California.

* US Rep. Dan Lipinski…

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a trailblazer and a giant of the Supreme Court who had a tremendous impact on our country. Before we begin the political talk about her replacement, we should remember her life and her legacy. Part of this legacy that is especially important to remember in this time of ideological vitriol was her friendship with the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. The two justices disagreed strongly in their opinions yet maintained a friendship throughout their time on the court. Our nation should learn from these two late justices the way to live together in spite of differing beliefs. My thoughts and prayers are with the Ginsburg family during this difficult time.

* Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton…

Tonight, when I learned of the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I felt a profound and deep sadness. This feeling is not only for the grief that her loving family must bear, but because of the devastating loss to our nation, and to women everywhere. Ruth Bader Ginsburg possessed a great legal mind and she used it to advocate for the rights of women and to be a voice for the underserved.

For women, the path to a law degree has extra hurdles. I am sorry to say that sexism is still prevalent in our society where women and men are not equally paid, and little girls are not always told to dream big. But Ruth Bader Ginsburg achieved and dreamed big for herself, and for all women. As a young black woman lawyer, Bader Ginsburg was one of my role models. I admired her intellect, her fearlessness to speak openly about issues, and her tenacity in court. She made it clear that it is the right and duty of every woman to be her best, and to expect equity, and to fight for herself and others, if she does not get it.

Bader Ginsburg once said, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” Those words guided me to bring my full self into rooms, and to sit at tables with the clarity that I’m there for a reason and must be boldly and courageously me.

Now Bader Ginsburg is gone, but her ideals and her example will live on. In her memory, we must fight for justice, equity and inclusion for all women, regardless of race, class or religion. In this 100th anniversary year of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, women should flock to the polls to vote for transparency, integrity, and leadership in the White House. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the Bader Ginsburg thing to do.

* Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx…

Our nation lost a legal powerhouse this weekend. Justice Ginsburg leaves behind a legacy of grace, principles and perseverance—to say she will be missed is an incredible understatement.

Through her position on our highest court Justice Ginsburg never wavered from her driving force to use one’s power in law to ensure social equity. She believed in justice and fairness for every American regardless of their race, gender, country of origin, sexual orientation and religion.

A true force in law, Justice Ginsburg turned a century-and-half policy on its head at Virginia Military Institute, finally granting women the right to attend this state-funded school. She believed a woman—not the government—should be able to choose how to approach her body, including having the right to have an abortion. As a result of Justice Ginsburg’s voice on the groundbreaking Lilly Ledbetter case, workers today can now sue their employers when discriminated against and paid less based on gender. These few examples of her heft and social activism affect life for each of us today as we know it—our country is better because of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s pioneering ways as a woman in law.

While some might argue the law is not a place for social activism, Ginsburg didn’t listen to this noise, always rising above the critics to bring justice and equality for the American people. Simply put: Justice Ginsburg unapologetically changed the course of our history.

A honorable woman, Justice Ginsburg carried her strength and fight for the American people until her very end. May she rest in power.

* Michael Madigan, in his role as DPI Chairman…

We have lost a giant – of the court, of truth and justice and of America. There is no replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She represents the best of us, and fought her entire life for human rights, gender rights and equality for all. An unmatched icon, Ruth Bader Ginsburg shouldered intense burdens and historic decisions with grace and integrity. She meant so much to so many. May she rest in peace and may her legacy carry on as the rest of us pick up the fight with her same passion and fervor. My thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends, colleagues and our entire nation.

I did not include tweets and fundraising emails.

…Adding… Senate President Don Harmon…

The passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an enormous blow to the millions of women and men in Illinois she spent her entire life fighting to ensure are equal under the law. While her legacy and place in history are secure, the issues she championed are under assault.

Healthcare is on the ballot in 2020 with devastating consequences now that we know Donald Trump and Republicans will strip away protections for those with preexisting conditions through the Supreme Court.

In the middle of a global pandemic made exponentially worse by Donald Trump’s failed response, Republicans have denied science to keep Illinois families safe, aid to those in need, and now they are marching forward to deny people healthcare. It is abhorrent that Republicans in Illinois support ending protections for preexisting conditions - especially those potentially resulting from COVID-19 infections - while 700,000 Illinoisians are out of work and at least 275,000 have been infected by this terrible disease.

Make no mistake, Democrats in Illinois will not let this stand. We will fight tooth and nail against Donald Trump, Republicans, and the corporate special interests that back their crusade to overturn Obamacare and kick millions of people off the healthcare rolls.

This moment underscores the stakes of this election now more than ever. We will make sure the voters of Illinois know how important their vote is this November 3rd.

…Adding… Comptroller Susana Mendoza…

I was heartbroken to hear Friday that my all-time Shero, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the “Notorious RBG” left us too soon at 87, while she was still such a force for good and for equality, writing opinions to uphold our rights. This tiny woman was such a massive, brilliant, powerful voice for disenfranchised communities, upholding rights to health care, marriage equality, fair treatment for Dreamers and so much more. In both her legal and judicial career, she opened so many pathways for people like me. Women across the United States and frankly the American people as a whole owe her a debt of gratitude for everything she made possible for us. Ruth Bader Ginsburg represented the very best of America. She made our country better. We will never have another Supreme Court justice quite like her. As our country mourns, may she rest in peace.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


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Monday, Sep 21, 2020

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« NEWER POSTS PREVIOUS POSTS »
* National Guard put on "state of readiness"
* Question of the day
* Kilbride rolls out endorsements from "champions of public safety," including Republicans
* ICC says utilities agree to voluntary disconnection moratorium
* 1,531 new cases, 30 additional deaths, 1,455 in the hospital, 3.5 percent positivity rate
* FOP still FOPing
* Another confirmation that the Cook County Democratic Party made the rich richer and the poor poorer
* Get it together, people
* Caption contest!
* Abudayyeh roasts Glennon idea
* HHS Secretary Azar says Illinois schools should reopen
* Rate the new Oberweis TV ad
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