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Illinois State Fair Butter Cow unveiled

Wednesday, Aug 10, 2022

* Press release…

Illinois State Fair officials unveiled the treasured Butter Cow today in the Dairy Building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds. Using the theme “Grow with Us,” sculptor Sarah Pratt’s creation brings together the interaction between the farmer, the land, and the animal. The sculpture features the iconic butter cow with a farmer kneeling beside her to tend to the land.

“I really connected with the theme ‘Grow with Us,’ said Sarah Pratt, 2022 Illinois State Fair Butter Cow Sculptor. “This design was personal for me. Our family just moved to a home with acreage and started growing our own garden. Through that experience, I was inspired to include a farmer growing on the land that in turns allows the cow to grow.”

“For a lot of families, it is not a trip to the Illinois State Fair unless they see the iconic butter cow,” said Illinois Agriculture Director, Jerry Costello II. “I am amazed by the thought and detail that is put into this buttery creation ever year.”

“Illinois Dairy Farmers are proud to carry on the tradition of the iconic butter cow at the Illinois State Fair,” said Kendra Anderson, Midwest Dairy Farmer Relations Manager. “The 2022 butter cow follows this year’s fair theme of ‘Grow with Us.’ We hope that State Fair visitors come to the Dairy Building to view the butter cow and celebrate the Illinois dairy industry.”

As in years past, 13 hearts have been hidden into the display to signify the 13 essential nutrients found naturally in milk.

The iconic sculpture will remain on display in the Dairy Building for the duration of the fair and is viewable live via the Butter Cow webcam.

The webcam doesn’t appear to be working as I write this, so here’s a first look…


…Adding… The webcam is working now.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


Witt, Lewis step down from DPI positions

Wednesday, Aug 10, 2022

* Things have been a bit tense at DPI, to say the least, and several contributions made out of the party’s precious federal funds “hard money” account just before the July 30 chair’s election to some of Chair Kelly’s supporters didn’t help matters much. Click here for a couple of them, but I’m told others will be reported later.

Letter to Democratic state central committee members from Abby Witt, the executive director of the Democratic Party of Illinois…

Dear Members,

I’m writing today to share some news about staff changes. While I know the hope was that our staff would continue on in its entirety, the reality of any organization as it grows and evolves over time is that some departures are inevitable. This time that includes the departure of myself and DPI’s Deputy Director Jake Lewis.

We share a respect for this body and its decision to elect a new Chairwoman. And as Illinois Democrats, we are counting on Chair Hernandez’s success in this role. But it has become clear that we are no longer the right people to implement the new direction for the party.

We have both been extremely proud to serve the party and all Illinois Democrats since last year. The work we’ve done together has been important, modernizing the DPI and building a new foundation for Democratic success. We know this foundation will serve Chair Hernandez well and wish her the best as she executes her plans for the November elections and beyond.

To ensure a smooth transition for the Chairwoman and DPI, my last day will be Friday, September 2. Jake will depart earlier, ending his time with DPI this Friday, August 12.

To our incumbent members: it has been an honor working with you as members of the Democratic State Central Committee, as well as Democratic campaigns, local organizations, activists, and volunteers over the past seventeen months. Thank you for welcoming me into this role and for your trust and partnership along the way. To our new members: thank you for taking on this challenge.

I deeply understand the promise of a modern Democratic Party that serves all Democrats, and know that with your guidance, the Democratic Party of Illinois can and will fulfill that promise.

Thank you,
Abby

* From new state party chair Lisa Hernandez…

Members of State Central Committee,

I am grateful to Abby and Jake for their demonstrated commitment to supporting Democrats across the state and dedication to the Democratic Party of Illinois. They played critical roles at DPI in service of the Party and I wish them the very best in their next endeavors.

For next steps, we will prepare to have an Interim Executive Director following Abby’s departure and establish a committee with SCC members to conduct an executive director search.

Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions. I look forward to working with you on this.

With thanks,

Lisa

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition, Part 2

Wednesday, Aug 10, 2022

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Question of the day

Wednesday, Aug 10, 2022

* Politico on Gov. JB Pritzker’s attempt to elect more Democratic governors

Pritzker isn’t weighing in on Florida’s Democratic primary for governor, where Rep. Charlie Crist and state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried are battling in a caustic rivalry. Instead, he’s committed to backing the victor of the Aug. 23 contest. […]

In the interview with POLITICO, Pritzker declined to say how much he might spend this cycle but explained his strategy for the midterms — and its limits: He plans to help Democrats running for governor in states with GOP-controlled legislatures, but he draws the line at places where Republicans hold supermajorities that could override even a governor’s veto. […]

Pritzker has given $500,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin this cycle. Pritzker and his wife, MK Pritzker, have given $40,000 to Evers, according to the governor’s campaign.

In mid-July, Pritzker met with North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, chair of the Democratic Governors Association, to discuss how the Illinois governor could support Democrats. That eventually led to the $2 million contribution.

Pritzker has also given $250,000 to the Minnesota Democratic Party, and MK Pritzker has given $4,000 to Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.

And Pritzker expects to donate to Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s political campaign as well.

* The Question: Your thoughts on Gov. Pritzker becoming a player in gubernatorial races around the country?

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      


Libertarian Party explains Jesse White surrender

Wednesday, Aug 10, 2022

* From the Libertarian Party of Illinois…

The Libertarian Party of Illinois completed its 2022 statewide petition drive on July 11, 2022. We handed in about 36,600 signatures to meet the 25,000 minimum required for our statewide slate to make the ballot. Although there is a presumption that a party has enough valid signatures to make the ballot, Illinois allows opponents to enlist voters to file objections to remove candidates for various reasons. The Democratic Party enlisted a voter to file an objection to our candidate for Secretary of State, Jesse White. Our other six statewide candidates did not draw an objection and will be on the November ballot.

The objection was filed by an individual affiliated with the Democratic Party of Illinois, and advanced by the Democratic Party of Illinois’ attorney. The objection sought to disqualify thousands of petition signatures based upon methods used to gather the signatures, and other grounds, such as one of our notaries was not eligible to notarize our petitions.

It became clear from the first electoral board meeting that the Democratic Party of Illinois was very serious in its goal to knock Jesse White off the ballot. No doubt the Democrats feared that Democratic voters would confuse the LP’s Jesse White (who would be shown on the ballot as “Libertarian Party”) with the retiring Secretary of State, and Jesse White would receive enough votes to cause the Democrat’s candidate to lose the November election.
The objection from the Democrats was largely based on two allegations:

“Pattern of Fraud #1” Two petitioners from a petitioning firm the LPIL hired produced over 5,000 signatures. The objection asserted one of the petitioners who signed the circulator affidavit (bottom of each petition) did not personally circulate those sheets (whether this was true could not be confirmed), and the other petitioner wrote three different residence addresses on his petition sheets, and he apparently lived in different places during the petition drive.

“Pattern of Fraud #2” Some sheets had additional info written at the address lines where petition signers had printed abbreviations (e.g., “Lake in the Hills” written in where the signer had written “LITH,” or “Arlington Heights” where there was “AH,”or “Lake Zurich” for “LZ”, etc.). No changes were made to voter names, signatures, or addresses. While these and other corrections may have constituted technical errors on the petition sheet, no signatures and no substantive information on the petition sheets were altered in any way, and it has been our policy to only add this information before the sheets were signed by a circulator and notarized.

We deny there was any “fraud” by our members. However, it was clear the Democrats intended to do everything possible to kick Jesse White off the ballot, with no budget restrictions. The Democrats hired six experienced election attorneys and a handwriting expert to advance their objection. A handwriting expert of our own would have potentially cost $15,000 or more. First thing, the Democrats requested subpoenas for many party members, the two petitioners above, and to several petitioners hired directly by LPIL (one of whom was in New Hampshire and the other in Las Vegas). Subpoenas would have required everyone to testify under oath at an evidentiary hearing that could have lasted many days, with cross-examination.

Then-LPIL Chair Steve Suess, then-Vice Chair Donny Henry, Treasurer Russ Clark, and Ballot Access Director Bill Redpath held discussions with our attorney, Andrew Finko, and evaluated where we stood from a legal perspective, the likelihood of having over 25,000 valid signatures after a long and costly objection process, and the anticipated negative publicity. What we faced was a huge financial setback if we spent every last dollar fighting this objection, with a significant risk of an adverse decision despite spending every dollar we have. We also realized the political establishment had a much bigger concern with our Jesse White for Secretary of State than any of us previously realized. This was a difficult decision for us to make.

We apologize to Jesse White, who was an excellent Secretary of State candidate and gathered about 1,400 signatures on the petition drive. Unfortunately, hindsight has again proven itself to be 20/20. Even though it had its issues, no other party in Illinois did a petition drive like the LPIL did this year, and we need to go forth and make this a great year for the LPIL by earning over 5% of the vote at the November 2022 election to achieve established party status.

Thank you,

Chase Renwick
Chairman, Libertarian Party of Illinois

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      


Governor says CHIPS and Science Act will benefit Illinois

Wednesday, Aug 10, 2022

* From KFVS12

Illinois could see part of the $280 billion dollar boost to make key products right here in America.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act into law.

Biden say it will help strengthen our nation’s domestic manufacturing and supply chains to prevent future backlogs. […]

“We have a lot of manufacturing,” said Pritzker. “We’re in the heart of what use to be called the rust belt, now the innovation belt, and our manufacturers use semiconductors in virtually everything that they do, and it’s been very hard to obtain those chips when they needed it.”

In the future, Pritzker says this law will bring production back to America and Illinois will benefit from it.

* Guests of the governor from Crain’s Chicago Business

Rivian is the biggest producer of electric vehicles in Illinois at its Normal plant, but, like all EV producers, the company has faced delays in ramping up production due to a shortage of components, including chips (especially semiconductors) and batteries. Rivian and Pritzker both have been trying to get a battery manufacturer to set up shop in the state.

Meanwhile, Ford runs the largest conventional vehicle assembly plant in Illinois, on Chicago’s Far South Side. But its future is increasingly in doubt unless the company makes the commitment to invest billions in converting it from gasoline-powered to electric vehicles.

Ford has been pretty mum about whether it will do so and when, but Pritzker’s decision to invite Tony Reinhart, the company’s regional director of government affairs, certainly would seem to leave the door open for lots of productive conversation.

Also on Pritzker’s invite list – the White House let him bring a limited number of guests – are execs from electric bus maker Lion Electric and Decatur electric compressor maker T/CCI.

* GOP response

Nationally, the House GOP is calling CHIPS an “inflationary death spiral.” Touting an opinion piece that CHIPS is not needed to compete with China, from the Wall Street Journal.

“Democrats have confirmed: CHIPS is a green light for higher taxes, worse inflation, and corporate welfare, just as President Biden’s cruel economy fell into a recession for the second quarter in a row.

If congressional Democrats succeed in providing $76 billion in corporate subsidies and carveouts to politically connected corporations, their next step will be tax increases, greater IRS audits, and inflationary spending that will hurt everyone else.”

Even so, lame duck Republican US Reps. Rodney Davis and Adam Kinzinger voted for the measure.

* The Hill

The new legislation is designed to increase domestic production of semiconductors over the long term to reduce U.S. reliance on foreign suppliers. Proponents also say it will help the U.S. compete with China, which has its own chip market.

The bill includes more than $50 billion in incentives for manufacturers of semiconductors, or chips, to build domestic semiconductor plants. It also includes more than $80 billion for the National Science Foundation authorized over five years to support innovation and research. […]

White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese told reporters at a recent press briefing that the bill would have near-immediate impacts on decisions by companies to stand up operations in the U.S. But he acknowledged the impact on the domestic supply chain would be longer term.

“This is a long-term project, a long-term national project, that is a vital economic and national security consequence, and the ultimate impact of that will be felt over the course of years,” Deese said.

- Posted by Isabel Miller   8 Comments      


Campaign notebook

Wednesday, Aug 10, 2022

* Excerpt from an Eric Sorensen fundraising pitch. Sorensen is a Democrat running for US Rep. in the 17th District…

I knew that attacks would be coming our way, but I didn’t expect this:

Over the weekend, we got word that some unmarked mailers had made their way to voters’ mailboxes. They contained some pretty heinous attacks on “E.R.I.C” — an “Extreme Radical Indoctrinating Children” — I wonder who that might be?

The obvious implication is that because I’m gay, a vote for me means a vote for “sexual perversion” against children. Oh, and they threw in an illustration of a terrified kid for good measure

This is sickening, but it’s not shocking — and I’m not holding my breath for my opponent Esther King to comment about this homophobic attack.

The truth is that the GOP has a longstanding policy of embracing this kind of hateful rhetoric. I grew up in an era when homophobic scare tactics were normal. It’s a shame we’re reverting back to this sort of shameful bigotry.

I’ve got thick skin, [name redacted]. If anything, this a reminder that our campaign is bigger than just flipping a House seat — this is about standing up to the extremism and hate that’s only grown in recent years. We need to restore some decency to the halls of Congress. That’s why I’m running, and it’s why I need your support:

The mailer…

If you’re having trouble reading the text…

Extreme Radicals Indoctrinating Children (E.R.I.C) is what democrats do. Goal to teach your children hate via CRT, life has no value via Abortion, that sexual perversion (homosexuality, lesbianism, transgender, bestiality) is normal. Democrats do not care about your safety or financial future. Extreme gas, food prices, taxes are all E.R.I.C offers. A vote for E.R.I.C is a vote against innocent children, for killing babies, a vote against your safety, financial well being, and for America’s downfall.

* Press release…

Today, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) announced their endorsement of Judge Elizabeth Rochford in the race for the Illinois Supreme Court’s Second District. Following a decisive victory in the Democratic primary, Rochford continues to build support for November’s general election campaign. She also received a general election endorsement last month from Personal PAC.

“It’s an honor to receive the support of the Illinois Federation of Teachers and its hardworking educators and education professionals. My mother was a special education teacher, so this endorsement is especially meaningful to me,” said Judge Elizabeth Rochford. “Throughout my career, I’ve dedicated myself to literacy and education efforts for our young people, and I’m grateful to the Illinois Federation of Teachers for their belief in my campaign for the Illinois Supreme Court’s Second District.”

IFT represents over 100,000 members throughout the state including a broad spectrum of professionals in four membership divisions, including teachers, paraprofessionals and school personnel; higher education faculty, staff, and graduate employees; and public employees in Illinois state agencies that govern education, in addition to retirees in each category.

“Judge Elizabeth Rochford knows how important it is to support our educators and education professionals. She has worked throughout her distinguished career to advance literacy programs for our children, and will bring her commitment to equity and fairness to the Illinois Supreme Court,” said Daniel J. Montgomery, President of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. “The Illinois Federation of Teachers is proud to endorse Judge Rochford, the daughter of a special education teacher, in this race and look forward to seeing her elected in November.”

The newly redrawn second Supreme Court District encompasses DeKalb, Kendall, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties.

* Standing up for nanny employers

Bailey recently criticized Pritzker for increasing regulations on casual workers such as nannies and caregivers. “The last thing we need in Illinois is more red tape, more rules and more regulations. If we want to grow our economy and be a leader for jobs and opportunities in the Midwest, we need to prioritize policies that will create jobs, not jeopardize the ones we have. Pritzker’s priorities are misguided. Silly bureaucratic rules won’t grow our economy. Families are wondering how to afford to gas up their cars and purchase basic household necessities and the focus of the Pritzker administration is making sure people fill out time sheets for their nannies? It is no wonder we are losing jobs and opportunities here in Illinois,” Bailey said

* Politico

Alexi Giannoulias, the Democratic nominee for secretary of state, is pushing for legislation to protect abortion-care data that could be threatened by anti-abortion groups known to use license plate scanners to get information about patients.

He’s working with state Reps. Kelly Cassidy (D-14th) and Ann Williams (D-11th), who have pledged to sponsor the proposed legislation in Springfield.

“Illinois must enact protections to ensure the data is not used to target women seeking access to abortion services or employing it as a surveillance system to track them,” Giannoulias said in a statement.

What the legislation would do: Giannoulias wants to limit the purpose for which Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPRs) can be used, such as to locate drivers involved in serious crimes and stolen vehicles. Giannoulias also is calling for legislation that specifies ALPRs cannot be used to track individuals seeking abortion care or individuals assisting them and nor should information be shared with other states.

* Media advisory…

Congressional candidate for Illinois-14 and Kendall County Board Chairman Scott Gryder is announcing today a joint media availability with U.S. Senate candidate Kathy Salvi on the impact of Democrats’ IRA bill on Illinois manufacturing.

Gryder and Salvi will be touring manufacturing plant Maze Nails in Peru, meeting with business executives, employees and stakeholders, then holding a media availability directly after to discuss the state of manufacturing in Illinois and what ramifications will occur from Democrats’ IRA bill.

Full details are below:

Thursday, August 11, 2022
IL-14 candidate Scott Gryder and U.S. Senate candidate Kathy Salvi hold joint media availability
Town Square - Maud Powell Plaza
Peru, Illinois
2:30 p.m.

…Adding… SGOP Leader McConchie is up against Democrat Maria Peterson. Here’s the most recent McConchie fundraiser pitch…

It seems every day, whether we like it or not, we are reminded about the stakes involved with this November’s election. As I meet with families in Algonquin, Barrington, Lake Zurich, Palatine, and Wauconda, I am committed more than ever before to ensuring that we have a strong check on the abuses of power of Governor JB Pritzker and his enablers.

As the Republican leader in the Illinois State Senate, I have been working hard to get Republicans out of the super minority and to bring balance back to our state government. There is a long way to go, but we are making real progress and I am encouraged by the support we have received thus far.

To that end, Springfield insiders have decided that I am a threat and have determined that I need to be given the treatment of their political machine this November.

Too much is at stake to let that happen, so I am reaching out to let you know about upcoming opportunities that you can help this campaign.

Take a moment to learn about some of the upcoming events that my campaign is organizing, learn about how you can make a difference in your neighborhood in this important race, and share this information with your neighbors, friends, and family in the area.

If you have any thoughts or questions for me, please send me an email at info@danmcconchie.com.

Thank you for all of your prayers, advice, and support, we simply cannot do it without you!

* More…

* Raspanti touts previous Park Ridge political experience in State Senate run challenging Sen. Murphy: Raspanti said he doesn’t expect to outraise Murphy, who had almost half a million dollars in the bank at the end of the second quarter. As of Aug. 9, he had $10,000 in funding, half of which came from a loan to himself. But, he said, “I think contested elections are good for the district. I think they’re good for taxpayers. And so that motivates me.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Missouri House Dem Leader pleads with Illinois for help on abortion funding

Wednesday, Aug 10, 2022

* AP last week

A top Democratic state lawmaker from Republican-led Missouri on Wednesday wrote to the Democratic Illinois and Kansas governors asking for help paying for abortions for out-of-state Medicaid patients.

Missouri House Democratic Minority Leader Crystal Quade called on Illinois and Kansas to apply for Medicaid waivers to cover abortions for out-of-state patients.

Her request came after Democratic President Joe Biden signed an executive order Wednesday aimed in part at making it easier for women seeking abortions to travel between states to obtain access to the procedure. […]

Spokespeople for Kelly and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker did not immediately respond to Associated Press requests for comment on the federal waiver and Quade’s request.

* Also last week

Missouri’s top Democratic lawmakers have yet to receive a formal response to letters urging governors in Kansas and Illinois to help pay for abortions for out-of-state Medicaid patients […]

Where there may be more political will is in Democratically-controlled Illinois, where the state’s Medicaid program already pays for abortions for its residents through state funds.

The Illinois legislature is set to convene for a special session on abortion rights, but a date has not yet been announced. Gov. J.B. Pritzker and legislative leaders said in July lawmakers would be convened “in the coming months,” according to The Chicago Tribune.

Representatives for Pritzker, House Speaker Chris Welch and Senate President Don Harmon did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday. […]

They noted a report released Monday by the state’s Pregnancy-Associated Mortality Review board found that women on Medicaid made up the largest percentage of pregnancy-related deaths at nearly 53% over the course of the three years analyzed. Women on Medicaid were also eight times more likely to die within one year of pregnancy than their counterparts with private health insurance.

* Tribune earlier this week

An executive order by President Joe Biden last week would let states use Medicaid to help pay for abortions for out-of-state residents in cases of rape, incest or medical emergencies.

Pritzker’s office did not immediately comment on an Associated Press report that Missouri House Democratic Minority Leader Crystal Quade called on Illinois to apply for Medicaid waivers to do just that.

*** UPDATE *** Apparently, nobody in the governor’s office has actually heard from the Missouri legislator…

After we learned of the Missouri leader’s request through the press we reached out to start a discussion, but have not heard back. Our administration remains open to any dialogue with leaders who are working to protect women in states where their rights are being rolled back.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Illinois Department of Corrections held in contempt over “staggering” health care failures

Wednesday, Aug 10, 2022

* From the Uptown People’s Law Center...

A federal court judge issued an order of contempt against the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) after the Department repeatedly ignored court orders and failed to take appropriate steps to improve health care in the State’s prison system.

Specifically, the court acted after repeated failures by IDOC since 2018 to develop a specific, detailed plan needed to implement and remedy problems in the prison health care system that court experts identified multiple times.

“IDOC’s failure here is staggering,” said Camille Bennett, attorney at ACLU of Illinois. “They were required by court order three years ago to develop a plan to fix the unconstitutional health care deficiencies for our clients across the state, and they have yet to do it. We hope this will wake up their leadership.”

Prisoners first sued IDOC in 2010, alleging systemic problems in health care, problems that lead to serious disease, harm and even death for people under the care of IDOC. The lawsuit, brought by named prisoners represented by the ACLU of Illinois, Dentons, and Uptown People’s Law Center resulted in an agreement with the State of Illinois in 2018, approved by the court in May 2019.

The agreement required IDOC to develop a comprehensive plan to improve medical care. For more than three years, the Department has failed to take that step, leading the court to enforce the contempt order.

“The delay in simply developing a plan has resulted in harm and death for people detained throughout the state,” added Harold Hirshman, attorney at Dentons. “That is not speculation – the court’s own experts have reported this sad reality on a regular basis.”

Just yesterday a report was made public wherein a federal court monitor found that IDOC had made virtually none of the improvements required during the past three years. The report noted that IDOC’s care of the elderly was so bad that it constituted elder abuse, in violation of Illinois law. The monitor describes patients who:

• developed bed sores because staff did not turn them in bed,
• were left to sit in their own waste in wheelchairs,
• wasted away because staff did not bother to feed them,
• broke their bones because staff did not help them get out of bed, and
• had symptoms of cancer that were ignored until the cancer had advanced so far that it could not be treated.

“IDOC clearly wants to continue their misconduct with impunity, hidden behind prison walls. Their complete disregard for the health and safety of people in prison should disgust every taxpayer in Illinois. If this was a private nursing home, the way these elders have been treated would trigger a state investigation, and the home would immediately be shut down,” said Alan Mills, executive director of Uptown People’s Law Center, which is co-counsel on all three lawsuits.

The contempt order on health care provided by IDOC fits a pattern of issues that the Department has failed to address in recent years. Prisoners with a mental illness, for example, have been in court since 2007 trying to force IDOC to provide them with meaningful treatment, represented by Equip for Equality, Dentons, and Uptown People’s Law Center. In May 2016, a settlement was reached in which IDOC agreed to make dozens of changes to ensure that prisoners received the treatment they needed.

Also yesterday, the federal court monitor’s sixth annual report on mental health care in IDOC was filed with the court, which found prison officials had failed to comply with almost every remaining term of the settlement—from hiring needed staff, to providing out-of-cell recreation and treatment. Even the most seriously ill prisoners in the Department’s residential treatment units received virtually no treatment and many were locked in their cells nearly 24 hours per day most days. In the face of these findings, prison officials declared they no longer had any obligation to comply with the settlement. Now, the plaintiff class—over 11,000 people with mental illness in Illinois prisons—must return to court, to prove their case all over again.

Prisoners who are deaf and hard of hearing also sued the prison system in 2011, represented by Equip for Equality, the National Association of the Deaf, Uptown People’s Law Center, and Winston & Strawn. In July 2018, a court order was entered by agreement which required prison officials to provide the accommodations necessary to allow deaf and hard of hearing prisoners to communicate effectively. A key step was to have all eligible prisoners examined by an audiologist to determine the degree of their hearing loss. On August 3rd of this year, the federal court found that for the first two years after the consent decree was entered, IDOC did virtually nothing, and did not make a reasonable effort as required by the court order to get prisoners an audiologist exam. As a result, rather than prompt evaluation, prisoners had to wait many months, and sometimes as long as two years before they were evaluated by an audiologist, let alone actually provided needed accommodations such as hearing aids. Only in year three, after plaintiffs sought sanctions from the federal court, did they make any real effort to comply.

The contempt order is here. The court monitor’s report is here.

I’ve asked the governor’s office for comment. Stay tuned.

*** UPDATE *** From IDOC…

Lippert –
The Department has been moving forward with detailed plans to improve healthcare services, completed an implementation plan on time and is working closely with an expert on those plans. The Court hearing was about the procedural disagreements in finalizing the official implementation plan for this year. The Court has asked for a document that details the areas of disagreement so that it can rule on those disagreements. The Department has been working through issues with the monitor and that process continues. We expect to have a finalized document very soon.

Background
Judge Alonso held Defendants in contempt because of our “failure to comply with this Court’s orders respecting an implementation plan”
o The order that we did not follow was a requirement to

    * Defendants shall submit a revised implementation plan to the monitor and Plaintiffs’ counsel by 4/20/22.
    * The monitor shall respond to Defendants with any disagreements by 5/10/22.
    * Defendants shall respond and submit the revised implementation plan back to the Court by 5/31/22.
    * The Defendants are directed to make their consultant available for a conference with the monitor before 5/10/22.

o We did each of these tasks.
o The one thing that was mentioned on the record was that we were supposed to respond to the Monitor’s redlines when we tendered the revised implementation plan to the court on 5/31. This was not possible because the redlines that we had were to an early version of the plan so it was unclear what if any disputes still existed (based on the changes between the April plan and the May plan)
o In our response to Plaintiffs’ motion for contempt we outline 8 pages of general disagreements that we believed still existed based on the monitor’s comments. This was the best we could do because the Monitor never commented on the May plan.

Rasho –
The Department of Corrections has prevailed on numerous motions in the Rasho litigation, including findings that the Department’s efforts are appropriate and not a violation of its Constitutional obligations. Plaintiffs’ recent motions seeking a preliminary injunction and seeking contempt have all been denied and the prior injunction against the Department was vacated in full by the 7th Circuit. As a result of these rulings, the District Court denied Plaintiffs’ motion to extend the already multi-year consent decree, finding the agreement could no longer be enforced against the Department. The Department recently opened the first ever state of the art inpatient facility this summer and remains committed to ensuring appropriate mental health care and treatment for all individuals in its custody.

Holmes –
The Court recently issued an order finding the Department is in full compliance with its obligations under the Settlement Agreement to use best efforts to send individuals in custody to audiologists for failed hearing screenings for the last two years. The Court and the parties agreed that all of the Settlement Agreement would terminate based on the Department’s substantial compliance with the exception of one issue that will remain subject to Court oversight for a short period of time. On August 3, 2022, the court issued an order finding IDOC violated the now terminated provisions of the agreement in 2018 and 2019, but finding that the Department had since engaged in best efforts for at least two years.

…Adding… Press release…

Illinois State Senator Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) released the following statement after a federal court judge issued an order of contempt against the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) after the Department failed to take steps to improve health care for Illinois inmates and ignored court orders:

“Today’s announcement is just the most recent example of a long line of incidents that reveals the disturbing reality that the Pritzker Administration is incapable of ensuring that the state agencies under his control are protecting the people in their care.

“There are no good excuses and any spin that the Governor can use to justify the fact that under his watch state agencies have repeatedly failed the people of our state in the worst possible ways. We have had veterans lose their lives for his Administration’s inability to properly implement recommendations, countless children have suffered under the so-called care of the Department of Children and Family Services, and now we have a state agency that can’t even come up with a detailed plan in three years to address health care deficiencies for Illinois inmates.

“This latest incident begs the question of how many times and how many agencies will it take before the Governor accepts responsibility for these failures and finally takes action to do the right thing for the people hurt under his inaction and failed leadership?”

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Hastings sues Frankfort police, alleges release of a “fabricated” report

Wednesday, Aug 10, 2022

* Mike Nolan at the Daily Southtown

State Sen. Michael Hastings is suing Frankfort’s Police Department and alleges that unnamed employees of the department or Will County released “a fabricated police report with false claims” of domestic violence against him alleged by his wife, who he said he is divorcing.

A petition for discovery, filed last month, seeks records from Frankfort and Will County regarding who may have accessed the June 20, 2021, police report in which his wife alleged that Hastings was verbally abusive toward her and had, several months earlier, battered her at the Frankfort home they shared.

In the discovery request, attorneys for Hastings are seeking records of who electronically accessed and printed copies of the report and who those copies may have been given to. In a news release issued Tuesday, Hastings alleges copies of the report were released in an effort to hurt his reelection chances.

Such records are needed by Hastings, according to the filing, in order to pursue claims against those “who deliberately disseminated and published false statements of fact to third parties.”

The Senate Republicans have made Hastings a priority this year, even tracking him at times, so he may be trying to get this story out there before they attack him. Hastings is up against Republican Patrick Sheehan.

* More info here

Within the Motion, Hasting alleges claims of Defamation, False Light Invasion of Privacy, and related torts from the publication of false statements of fact in a police report that the Frankfort Police Department prepared on or about June 20, 2021. […]

Additionally, Hastings goes on to explain, in substantial detail, the contents of the “sealed” police reports, which we believe constitutes his waiver of any claim for having them sealed, and based on this new filing they need unsealed so the public will know what is happening within their court systems and with their elected state Senator.

The police report indicates Hasting’s wife complained of him being verbally abusive and that he battered her – both of which Hastings claims in this filing to be false. He follows this with claiming the police report was a false statement of fact and it was distributed to third parties.

No word yet from his spouse.

*** UPDATE *** Sen. Hastings posted a statement on Facebook

Senator Michael Hastings filed a lawsuit seeking discovery from the Frankfort Police Department to determine whether any Frankfort employees republished defamatory statements about him by releasing, without authorization, a fabricated police report. The report contains false claims by his estranged wife to pressure him during his divorce proceedings during his re-election campaign. Hastings, filed for divorce against his wife because of her infidelity with another man. The police report she filed contains multiple falsehood involving “domestic violence” which never occurred.

The police report as written accuses Hastings of an alleged event that occurred seven months prior to his wife making the statement to the police, to which, Senator Hastings vehemently denies. Then she explicitly stated that she did not want police to investigate the matter, nor did she want the senator to be interviewed. Further, no investigation was conducted by the Frankfort Police Department and the matter was closed.

The divorce proceedings began in 2021 after Hastings discovered that his wife was having a long term, eight-month secret affair with another individual. This came to light after Senator Hastings discovered excessive amounts of text messages and late-night phone calls, some of which lasted more than two hours after midnight, in addition to geolocation information pinning his estranged wife at her paramour’s residence.

To make matters worse, Hasting’s wife then communicated with two of his known political adversaries’ and conspired with them to smear and defame him to gain a litigation advantage during the divorce proceedings through an underhanded pressure campaign.

“My whole focus has been to ensure that in this unfortunate divorce proceedings, the interests of our two young children are protected and they would be spared from this trauma,” Hastings said. “But, someone within the Frankfort Police Department, working with my wife, produced a police report to which I was never contacted or investigated, in which my wife makes false allegations of domestic violence that never occurred. That information was then intentionally leaked to the news media in a sinister attempt to influence the elections, hurt me politically by tarnishing my reputation, and turning the divorce around to blame the divorce on me by using these false domestic violence accusations. She wanted to turn her infidelity away from herself and put it all on me.”

Hastings, an Iraq war veteran who served as State Senator for the 19th District for 10 years, said that the sole purpose of the false police report was to create a political narrative that could be used to undermine his re-election campaign.

“To exploit a family’s personal problems for political gain is reprehensible, and I will be filing subsequent legal actions to defend my reputation in the court of law” Hastings said.

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* Bipartisanship, teamwork, fun at Bi-State Softball Showdown
* 2022 Illinois State Fair begins Thursday
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Campaign notebook
* Illinois abortion clinics still grappling with surge of out-of-state patients
* *** UPDATED x3 *** UIS drops out of DCFS simulation training program because state won't follow its best-practice simulation recommendation
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Question of the day
* With latest deposit, state's rainy day fund now exceeds a billion dollars
* Governor's office says Will County state's attorney spreading "misinformation" about SAFE-T Act
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