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*** UPDATED x1 *** Open thread

Wednesday, Dec 4, 2019

* I have to take a family member to the airport, so I’ll be gone for a while. Keep your conversation Illinois-centric and please be nice to each other. Also, you might use some of this time to donate to Lutheran Social Services of Illinois. Just sayin…

*** UPDATE *** Ever heard that old saying about how adventures don’t begin until something goes wrong? Yeah, that’s been my entire afternoon. Talk with you tomorrow.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

*** UPDATED x2 *** Tillman files appeal on bond case

Wednesday, Dec 4, 2019

* Background is here if you need it. Public finance/muni bonds reporter for Debtwire Municipals…

*** UPDATE 1 *** Press release…

“Illinois taxpayers are so tired of Illinois Policy Institute CEO John Tillman and his named or unnamed partners who seek to profit from trying to tank Illinois’ finances,” said Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza. “This appeal should be laughed out of court the same way the original case was. Remember, that 2017 refinancing I championed saved taxpayers $4-$6 billion and helped businesses across Illinois. It hurt the profit margins of Tillman’s partners.”

*** UPDATE 2 *** The appeal is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Three different ways of looking at the same situation

Wednesday, Dec 4, 2019

* Letter to the editor from Alaina Hampton’s former spokesperson Lorna Brett

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan could stand in the middle of Michigan Avenue and shoot someone, and the Democrats of Illinois would still support him. Like President Donald Trump, his vengefulness against anyone who dares cross him is legendary. I am most disappointed in the female leadership of the party. With the entire country’s support for the #MeToo movement behind them, they still cross their legs. Profiles in courage, they are not. When Alaina Hampton needed an advocate, “they” had to bring in someone from out of state — me — to help her because of fear of retribution. Hats off to Chicago Tribune for continuing to cover this story and stand up for women and clean government.

* Letter to the editor from Sen. Iris Martinez (D-Chicago)

In its Nov. 22 editorial, the Tribune called on lawmakers to challenge House Speaker Michael Madigan for his response to the #MeToo scandal in the statehouse. It’s true that most politicians won’t call out the speaker for publicly promising to end sexual harassment in politics while his friends apparently arranged a payout of $30,000 for the harasser he formerly employed.

Madigan’s spokesman says the speaker knew nothing about the payoffs. This denial strains credulity. The Tribune shouldn’t scold legislators for failing to ask the speaker what he knew and when he knew it. Questions are challenges, and politicians who challenge the speaker face retribution. Political contributions might dry up, worthy legislation might not advance, and challengers might be put up to run for your seat.

The #MeToo movement has given a voice to women who may be justifiably afraid to speak up. Our legislators and leaders need encouragement, support and, most important, protection from Mike Madigan.

* And this is something I already posted from Rep. Deb Conroy (D-Elmurst)

This is just unbelievable coming from McQueary. She criticizes the women’s caucus every chance she gets when in reality we have spent our time doing the difficult work to change a culture and not chasing headlines.


*** UPDATE *** From Rep. Conroy…

Rich, I have lived through my own issue, faced it head on and tried to move forward in private. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to do so. I have been trusted by many victims who have also wanted to keep their stories confidential. I have honored their wishes by working behind the scenes to find a resolution to their satisfaction. My respect for any victim of bullying or sexual abuse of any kind will always be my guide. Each victim deserves all of our respect in how they chose to handle their story, either in public or in private. So many people, including myself, have not only had to face the fear of our own story but on top of that have been shamed and bullied by others who believe that they have the right to judge us. We must support and respect each other. Every individual’s story public or private has moved us to where we are today. Changing a culture is hard although there is more work to be done we are making progress.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      

Question of the day: Golden Horseshoe Awards

Wednesday, Dec 4, 2019

* It seems like every year we get fewer and fewer nominations for best bartender/waitstaff and this year was no exception. There simply weren’t enough nominations to make a choice, so the category is no more.

Today’s categories…

* Best Senate Administrative Assistant/District Office Manager

* Best House Administrative Assistant/District Office Manager

Make sure to fully explain your vote and try to nominate in both categories. However, I totally get that some of you only work with (or in) one chamber, so I’m more lenient on these sorts of categories. Anyway, have fun!

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Plummer says he was offered ethics commission slot in exchange for his silence

Wednesday, Dec 4, 2019

* Background is here if you need it. Mark Maxwell followed up with Sen. Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville)…

* Transcript

Plummer: Certain legislators are making a lot of money from industries where they have a tremendous amount of influence. And I think that the more the average voter in Illinois paid attention, the more shocked they’d be about what’s going on in Springfield. […]

This bill eliminates the opportunity for elected officials and employees of the General Assembly to be owners of privately held gaming enterprises or receive consulting… payments from those entities. […]

A lot of people were surprised by the news that broke at the end of May [about Senate GOP Leader Bill Brady receiving commissions from a video gaming company]. And everyone that I have talked to has been extremely supportive of the general concept. […]

Bill’s inclination was to work more closely with the other leaders to maybe take a slower approach and maybe go after, I think in your article you said ‘low hanging fruit,’ and I would say that, I believe those were the exact terms he used. […]

I agree that the words ‘video gaming’ never came up [in conversations with Brady], that’s not really how things work in Springfield. What was crystal clear was his intention. And his intention was this legislation couldn’t be filed. And his intention was that I couldn’t speak publicly about this legislation. And those conditions and those terms weren’t placed on the other people who were being appointed to the commission. Those terms and conditions weren’t placed on other ethics-related legislation. It was just my ethics-related legislation.

Maxwell: You’re saying he basically offered you a position in exchange for your silence.

Plummer: Yes. […]

Maxwell: Do you still want to serve on the commission?

I very much want to serve on the commission. There’s a significant difference between resigning from the commission [as Brady has claimed he did] and declining an appointment that was very inappropriate. I’d love to serve on the commission.

Other Republican Senators have confirmed to me that Brady originally supported the Democrats’ idea to create a new legislative ethics commission, but had to bow to the will of caucus members who were furious that a “low hanging fruit” ethics bill was the only thing they’d get out of the veto session. Brady and Plummer reportedly got into a heated argument in caucus about this.

Plummer is not the lying type. He may be interpreting things in a different way, but he seems genuine in his belief that he was effectively being silenced in exchange for a little campaign sweetener, when he actually wanted to make some real changes in the way the Statehouse functions. That’s not an unusual thing for a legislative leader to do, by the way. Co-opting members is part of the game.

Brady also does have some issues with his caucus, and while there’s nothing illegal with him profiting from video gaming, some of his members tell me they were most concerned with the fact that he never actually reported he was making money off the industry

The senator lists Brady Ventures but not [Midwest Electronics Gaming] on his legislative statements of economic interests, which are filed with the Illinois secretary of state under the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act. That’s because payments to Brady from Midwest go through Brady Ventures and are not made to him directly.

And with the recent revelations that the Illinois Gaming Board has given licenses to people with connections to organized crime, the entire industry is now under a cloud.

*** UPDATE *** From Leader Brady’s spokesperson…

· The leader originally supported the ethics commission task force because it was evenly split and not partisan.

· If you’ll recall during Senate Executive Committee, it was changed to become a partisan commission and the leader strongly voiced his concerns.

· The leader then shared those concerns and his opposition to the changes with caucus and that is when they all decided to oppose it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      

Because… Madigan!

Wednesday, Dec 4, 2019

* Lorraine Swanson at the Patch

Art Jones, the snookering, Holocaust-denying, Jew-hating, self-avowed Nazi is making another bid for the Republican nomination in Illinois’s 3rd Congressional District. Jones filed his petitions at 8:32 a.m. Monday, the deadline for candidates to file to run in the 2020 election. Those hoping for an Art Jones-free election cycle are now lining up (again) to challenge Jones’ petitions and get him tossed off the ballot.

The former president of the American Nazi Party and part-time Lyons insurance broker has called the Holocaust of World War II — where 6 million Jews were exterminated — the “blackest lie in history” and “a fairy tale.” He hasn’t denied his Nazi past and, in fact, says he’s proud of it, including his minor street skirmishes with leftists. Jones says he supports President Donald Trump but doesn’t care for Trump’s “punk” Jewish son-in-law and senior White House advisor Jared Kushner.

“We challenge Art Jones every time he runs,” said Cook County Commissioner Sean Morrison, who chairs the Cook County Republican Party. “This is history repeating itself. We’re going to have to waste time and resources to knock him off. I don’t like talking bad about people, but this is a bad guy.” […]

Provided that Jones survives a petition challenge, he will be joined by two other GOP candidates in the Republican congressional primary. Oak Lawn resident Catherine O’Shea and Will County board member Mike Fricilone have both declared their candidacy.

Reached by phone Tuesday evening, Jones told Patch he thinks the two GOP candidates are shills sent by Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan and Morrison.

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      

A note from Wordslinger’s daughter Emma

Wednesday, Dec 4, 2019

* I forgot to post this email from Wordslinger’s daughter Emma which I received before Thanksgiving and I forgot that Wordslinger’s birthday was mentioned in her email. Those were both massive fails on my part. Sorry!

But since we’re fundraising for LSSI partly as a tribute to Wordslinger’s legacy, I thought you might like to read it. You’ll recall that Emma Oxnevad is a DePaul journalism student and we raised some money to help her pay for college after we found out that her dad had died…

Hi, Rich!

This week in my student newspaper, I wrote a column about staying thankful even when your life has been rocked by tragedy. I mention my dad frequently throughout it and thought you may like to read it.

What I didn’t mention in the column is how thankful I am for you and everyone at Capitol Fax, not only for the extreme generosity you all showed me but the respect and love you showed to my dad and his work. It may interest you to know that his birthday is coming up (December 3).

Also, I talked to my mom and she said she would be very much interested in meeting you. I know you mentioned wanting to meet sometime in the spring, and I can see if my brothers would be interested or available as well.

I hope you have a wonderful, wonderful Thanksgiving.


As I told you yesterday, I’m hoping to put together a meet and greet with Wordslinger’s family during the spring legislative session.

Click here to contribute to Lutheran Social Services of Illinois. We’ve raised about $8,000 so far, which is pretty darned amazing. Thanks! Let’s keep it going.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      

ISBE revises restraint rules after pushback

Wednesday, Dec 4, 2019

* I was told yesterday that several schools had threatened to disenroll a large number of students over the ISBE’s new rules on student seclusion and restraint. So, ISBE revised its rules…

After receiving significant feedback from schools and advocates across the state, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) filed an amendment yesterday to its emergency rules that banned seclusion in Illinois schools and placed restrictions on the use of physical restraint.

The amendment temporarily allows prone and supine physical restraints in narrow circumstances and only for severe crisis situations to protect the safety of students and staff. The amendment will give schools time to transition to the use of alternate interventions without causing students to be disenrolled. The amendment mandates that other less restrictive and intrusive interventions have been tried first and have not succeeded in stopping the danger.

ISBE developed the amendment in collaboration with numerous stakeholders, in response to feedback from the field. ISBE received feedback that, in certain emergency situations, the use of prone or supine restraint is currently the only way to prevent a student from physically harming themselves or others. Several stakeholders indicated that students in private placements would be disenrolled from those schools without the amendment. Temporarily allowing prone and supine physical restraints in crisis situations supports schools in continuing to serve students safely while the State develops further training and guidance on alternate interventions and proceeds with permanent rulemaking.

The amendment continues to prohibit using prone or supine restraints in a manner that impairs a student’s ability to breathe or communicate, as well as for students with medical or psychological limitations that contraindicate their use.

The amendment requires that one staff person trained in identifying the signs of distress observe the student during the entire incident of prone or supine physical restraint. The amendment also requires an additional layer of review if a student is restrained in a prone or supine position in at least two separate instances within a 30-school day period.

The emergency rulemaking extends for 150 days from its initial filing on Nov. 19. The amendment to the emergency rules allows ISBE to collect additional feedback and review data as it develops permanent rules. Stakeholders will have multiple opportunities to submit formal comments on the proposed permanent rules.

The amended rules are here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      

Unfunded pension liabililties grew a half billion dollars more than expected

Wednesday, Dec 4, 2019

* Whew…

Yep. Click here and you’ll see COGFA projected in April that the unfunded liability by the end of Fiscal Year 2019 would be $136.8 billion. Click here and you’ll see that COGFA’s most recent report shows the actual unfunded liability for FY19 was $137.3 billion.

* More from Hannah’s report

The total amount of pension costs included in the current fiscal year’s budget is $9.2 billion — which represents 22 percent of the total amount of state spending in the current $40.7 billion budget. The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget estimates the state budget for the 2021 fiscal year will grow to $42.2 billion, and the estimated $9.8 billion in pension contribution costs for the state’s five pension systems would represent 23 percent of the state’s operating budget.

When debt service payments for past pension bonds — including pension funding bonds from the 2003, 2011 and 2020 fiscal years — are included, along with the state’s contribution to the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund, the total amount of pension costs the state expends represents over a quarter of the state’s overall operating budget. Illinois is projected to spend $708 million in debt service for its pension bonds in the 2020 fiscal year.

The estimated costs for next year could climb even higher, as represented by the increase between actuarial demands for the pension systems this time last year and what ended up being included in the state’s fiscal year 2020 budget. Additionally, the Teachers’ Retirement System — by far the largest retirement system of the five under state control — actuarial funding policy calls for contributions of $8.3 billion, $3 billion more than called for in state statute. […]

The growth in unfunded liabilities to $137.3 billion during the 2019 fiscal year is “largely due to the continued actuarially insufficient State contributions and lower-than-expected investment returns,” according to COGFA’s report.

- Posted by Rich Miller   52 Comments      

“And they wonder why these kids have such bad outcomes”

Wednesday, Dec 4, 2019


As a result of our FOIA, we received a document showing DCFS and the company they hired, Jim Stewart Transportation, used either full restraints or leg restraints more than 25 times since 2017 [on children in their care]. […]

The log shows one transport, which took place on September 24, 2019, was from Benton, Illinois to Portsmouth, Virginia.

According to our search, the drive would take about 13 hours to complete.

The Cook County Public Guardian, Charles Golbert, who represents close to 6,000 kids in DCFS care, said this is unacceptable.

“It’s just outrageous and there is no justification documented on these documents at all. Not a safety justification, not a clinical, not even attempted to give any kind of rational and that’s because there is not any rational,” Golbert said.

Keep in mind here that full restraints means arms and legs are shackled with metal cuffs. DCFS has since said it will only allow “soft” restraints in certain cases.

* From the National Association of Social Workers’ lobbyist…


* Hillman also told me via DM he suspects that DCFS was using shackles as a substitute for staff. “Instead of staffing these transports, they were cuffing and shackling kids,” he said. “That way they couldn’t get away at stops or lash out when dealing with the trauma of transport.”

“Imagine being a kid - taken from an abusive home - and then shackled in a van with a stranger,” he continued. “And they wonder why these kids have such bad outcomes.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      

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Wednesday, Dec 4, 2019

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Wednesday, Dec 4, 2019

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* Just something to think about
* Question of the day: Golden Horseshoe Awards
* *** UPDATED x1 *** CPD: Your home is not your castle
* "Illegal, unconstitutional, outrageous and stupid"
* Tom Cullerton's trial set for July
* What the critics are missing, intentionally or otherwise
* Reform roundup
* Senate Democratic leadership roundup
* Fundraising, better loan terms help Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation stave off disaster
* Drea, Devaney new IL AFL-CIO leaders
* *** UPDATED x2 - Radogno appointed to replace Andersson *** Oops!
* *** UPDATED x1 - Women and indies now needed *** If you're a Republican or an independent, please help this kid with her school project
* "These were the people they were most focused on"
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Yesterday's stories

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