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*** UPDATED x1 *** Pritzker’s office reiterates opposition to unlimited paid leave for willfully unvaxxed public employees

Tuesday, Jan 18, 2022

* I’ve been over this with subscribers and briefly here on the blog. Tribune last week

Despite the urging of Illinois educators and strong bipartisan support from lawmakers, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he plans to veto a bill that would grant school employees administrative leave for COVID-19-related sick days for themselves and their children.

In a Tuesday letter to the leaders of the state’s two largest teachers unions, the Illinois Education Association and the Illinois Federation of Teachers, Pritzker said, “I have been very clear in stating that I will veto HB2778.”

“While that continues to be my plan, I have also said that I agree with and support the purpose of the bill: keeping teachers and students safe and in school during this unprecedented global pandemic,” Pritzker said.

The School Employee Benefit and Wage Protection bill, which passed with strong bipartisan support from lawmakers in October, was championed by the state’s teachers unions, who said school employees with young families were being forced to use all of their sick days if they or their children contracted the virus or were required to quarantine.

* From our old friend Emily Miller at the governor’s office…

Hi Rich,

Some recent newspaper articles left several people I know scratching their heads wondering why the Governor would veto HB2778, a bill giving teachers paid leave to deal with Covid-19-related absences. I thought it might be useful to straighten this out by just explaining the Governor’s actual position.

To be clear: the Governor supports giving paid administrative time off to teachers who need it for Covid-19-related reasons and he hopes to sign a bill that achieves that goal. The Governor also supports doing everything we can to keep kids and teachers safe and in the classroom. The language in the bill achieves the first goal, but not the second. The Governor’s team is in the middle of negotiations with the IEA and the IFT to agree on language that achieves both goals.

As written, the bill provides unlimited paid time off to teachers who have chosen not to get vaccinated. It is unsustainable and bad public policy to give people who make the choice not to get vaccinated unlimited paid time off while they continue to willfully expose themselves to a virus that kills people and packs our state’s hospitals, limiting access to healthcare across the state. The science is very clear and there is not room for debate: vaccines are a vital tool in preventing the deadly effects of Covid-19, and those who take the steps to be fully vaccinated against this virus are doing their part to keep everyone safe.

It should be noted that some people don’t get to choose not to take the vaccine—they are medically prevented from taking it. And those people need protection. That’s why federal law prevents discrimination against those who have medical exemptions, and federal law extends to the state of Illinois. The Governor supports paid administrative leave for Covid-19 related absences for those teachers as well.

While there were technical changes the Governor’s team proposed to clarify the bill and make it easier to implement, the only real sticking point is whether, as a matter of public policy, we can grant unlimited paid time off to people who choose not to get vaccinated during an ongoing global pandemic. The Governor does not believe that is a sustainable position.

Most teachers are fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated teachers are protecting themselves and their communities and are doing everything they can to teach students in person during this stressful, unprecedented time of uncertainty. Our hope is that the bill’s proponents will compromise on this point so the Governor can sign a bill that gives paid Covid-19 time to the vast majority of teachers and prioritizes keeping teachers and children safe and in school.

This administration has worked closely with school districts and teachers throughout this pandemic to keep everyone safe, and we remain committed to that collaborative approach. If we are able to reach agreement, we’ll work with proponents and legislators to get a new bill moving and signed as soon as possible.

I hope that helps clear things up.

Stay healthy,

Emily

I happen to strongly agree that it would be bad policy to give unlimited paid leave to willfully unvaccinated public employees.

The flipside is that I realized over the past few days that I personally know some vaccinated and boosted school district workers who are quickly burning through their paid sick leave as omicron infects one after another of their children, requiring them to be home. And nobody knows when the General Assembly will return.

But, on the other hand, there is a retroactive paid leave clause in the current bill. However, can they pass it?

I blame the sponsors for not working this out in advance. But that’s cold comfort to the people who may be about to have no banked paid sick leave.

And they can’t do an amendatory veto because there are other technical problems which, I’m told, can’t be fixed that way.

So, bottom line for me right now is they need an agreement pronto and the GA needs to get itself back to town to pass it. Toot suite.

Your thoughts on this?

*** UPDATE *** Press release…

The Illinois Council of Community College Presidents appreciates Governor Pritzker’s request for a collaborative and inclusive approach to addressing the concerns that have been raised regarding HB2778. This collaborative spirit is a long-standing tradition of collective bargaining at the local level, between an individual community college district’s elected board and their local bargaining units. This has allowed agreements regarding wages, benefits and working conditions to be addressed within the context of the specific institution and the region it serves. Unfortunately, HB2778 was introduced as a statewide approach to legislating COVID-19 working conditions without input from Illinois community colleges.

This muted the experienced voices of institutions serving more than 600,000 Illinois residents each year through credit and non-credit courses. We hope that community colleges can engage in collaborative discussions surrounding the state’s approach to proposed legislation impacting community college employees.

The Illinois Council of Community College Presidents stands ready to work together with Governor Pritzker, legislators and statewide union leaders to continue encouraging vaccination and ensure those taking appropriate steps to vaccinate and protect themselves, and our students, against COVID-19 are afforded reasonable accommodations to address COVID related incidents.

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      


Speaker Welch partially blames Republican anti-maskers/vaxxers for remote session

Tuesday, Jan 18, 2022

* Mark Maxwell interviewed House Speaker Chris Welch last week

Maxwell: The House and the Senate just passed remote voting rules and remote committee rules again for this third year in a row. Let me go back to December of 2020. That was the peak of the deadliest wave of COVID-19 that we had. We didn’t have vaccines at the time. And you were meeting at a committee here in person, that Special Investigative Committee. Since then, schools have returned to work in person. We’ve seen a lot of other types of industries return to work in person. We’ve had the rollout of the vaccine. Lawmakers were among some of the very first groups of people entitled to access to that vaccine, plus the masking requirements, the distancing. We know how to do this. And I just wonder, with all of those things that have changed, how can we still justify meeting remotely today? Why can’t people space out in a committee room with a mask on?

Welch: Well, as you know, Mark, in the legislative space, it’s more than just members when we’re in person. There are staff that we have to be considerate of. There’s journalists like yourself that we have to be considerate of, and those who follow what we do on the legislature. And, you know, we have to be considerate of everyone. And we want to make sure that everyone is as safe as possible. The virtual committees work very well. I think we had probably one of the busiest years last year than we had in quite some time. It showed that the committee work that was done virtually works quite well. And so we do plan to return in person at some point. I like that to be when we believe it’s safest to do so. If you saw a press conference by Governor Pritzker this week, hospitalizations are smashing records, according to Doctor Ezike. We cannot ignore that. And unfortunately, many of our colleagues, particularly those on the other side, like to flaunt our mask rule, they don’t like to have the mask on, we have to constantly remind them to put the mask on. We don’t know if they’re vaccinated or not. And we know that these records of hospitalizations is because of those who are unvaccinated. And so we have to be mindful of our entire surroundings and try to operate as safely as we possibly can. When we were last year a couple of weeks ago, I had to take into mind that most of our staff was out, many of them because of COVID positive tests. They have family members and members have family members. We have to think about the whole and not just ourselves.

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      


Today’s quotable

Tuesday, Jan 18, 2022

* Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin as quoted on March 16, 2021 while he was running for reelection, a campaign he won the following month

Q: Is there any reason you would not serve your full term of office, other than those of health or family?

A: No.

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      


Question of the day

Tuesday, Jan 18, 2022

* Your caption?…


- Posted by Rich Miller   56 Comments      


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Tuesday, Jan 18, 2022

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


“Normal” seems so far away

Tuesday, Jan 18, 2022

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

House Speaker Chris Welch marked his one-year anniversary as his chamber’s top leader with a series of news media interviews last week. One of the questions I asked was what his legislative district’s constituents were talking to him about the most.

“The No. 1 issue in my district, and this is across the state, is crime,” Speaker Welch said.

Welch said he is telling people in his district that he’s working on legislation to address carjacking, organized retail theft and other crime-related issues. He also said he’s talking to mayors and police chiefs in his suburban district about their ideas.

And Welch said he wants to put money into the state budget. “I want to make sure our police are properly funded, properly trained, properly educated.”

When told about Speaker Welch’s response, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said, in part, “Democrats must just be getting their polling in, showing how disastrous their defund the police and anti-crime victim agenda has been with Illinois voters. Talk is nice, but actions are more important. Just last week the Democrats again passed a law that gives accused criminals more rights than victims. It is no surprise that the No. 1 issue in Speaker Welch’s district is crime, because Democrats have created a consequence-free Illinois that has emboldened criminals.”

I’m hearing from people in both parties that current poll results are extremely ominous for Democrats, particularly in the suburbs. Welch told me he’s “well aware of the political climate as we head into the election season.”

I mentioned that former House Speaker Michael Madigan was often criticized for living in 1994, when Democrats were swept out of office after a massive, racialized anti-crime backlash. But, in a somewhat bizarre twist, it was Madigan’s strong support for the Black Caucus’ criminal justice reform “pillar” as part of his last-minute attempt to hold onto power a year ago that resulted in the controversial bill’s passage. That bill has intensified the Democrats’ political woes.

“We’re going to be fine in 2022, but it’s not going to be given to us. We’ve got to do the work,” Welch said. “And there’s a lot of difference between 2022 and 1994. There’s a lot of ways to communicate to voters that exist now that didn’t exist in 1994.”

Also, the Republicans drew the legislative district map ahead of that 1994 national blowout. Madigan’s Democrats managed to hold on to the majority during the 1992 race, but lost it two years later (and then regained it in 1996).

As far as Leader Durkin is concerned, Welch was completely dismissive. “Leader Durkin has proven that he can’t get past Speaker Madigan,” Welch said, adding that Durkin “is stuck in a partisan fight in his own mind, and so we’ve got to find other ways to work with members on his side of the aisle.”

Welch is disclosing he has $12 million cash on hand in his caucus and personal campaign committee accounts. Madigan’s standard election cycle budget was $30 million, but Welch’s operation also focuses on helping members raise money for themselves, which is not something Madigan ever did. Even so, he has a long way to go.

“There was never a fundraising apparatus within the caucus’ political side,” Welch said. “We’re also helping our members with their political messaging. … From a social media standpoint, we’re providing them with content. That’s never been done before.” He also claimed his members “have had quite a successful year when it comes to fundraising.”

And with petition circulation kicking off last week, I asked Speaker Welch what will happen if any of his House Democratic members attracts a primary opponent. Will he step in to help with money and people?

“I have told our caucus members that it is my plan in every sense of the word to protect incumbent members,” Welch said. “And we will do that.”

By the way, I also asked Senate President Don Harmon what people in his district are telling him.

“What I’m hearing most,” Harmon said, “is a longing for something that resembles ‘getting back to normal.’ It is most often voiced in growing concerns about crime, schools and COVID.”

Normal seems so far away right now.

…Adding… Tom Kacich

As we know too well, homicides and shooting incidents in Champaign-Urbana were off the charts in 2021. Champaign reported 16 deaths and 259 reports of shots fired. Urbana had 10 deaths and 115 confirmed shootings. Just 10 years ago such numbers were unthinkable.

And Champaign-Urbana isn’t the only downstate community gushing insane gunfire numbers. Peoria’s 34 homicides last year, a local record, were more than twice as many as Champaign, which is about three-quarters the population of Peoria.

Springfield had “only” a dozen homicides last year — slightly above its five-year average — but it had 68 victims of gunfire and an astonishing 308 reports of “shots fired.” That was after the Gun Violence Task Force, an aggressive effort to recover illegal firearms, swept up 421 guns in Springfield, an increase from the 269 retrieved in 2020.

Rockford had 24 homicides last year, down from a record 36 in 2020. Danville had six gun homicides — but 37 victims of gun violence. Still, that was an improvement from the 55 shootings in 2019. Decatur had eight homicides — but 179 shootings, more than three times the number just five years earlier.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      


Superintendents’ study finds growing teacher shortage problem

Tuesday, Jan 18, 2022

* From an Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools press release…

Five years after its debut, Illinois’ pre-eminent study finds the statewide teacher shortage problem continues to grow – accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic – and school districts overwhelmingly expect it to get even worse in the near future.

* Top results…

Illinois school districts report the teacher shortage problem has worsened from last year in virtually all major areas:

    • 88 percent of schools say they have a teacher shortage problem, and 77 percent report the shortage is getting worse
    • 93 percent of districts expect the shortage will worsen over the 2023 and 2024 academic years
    • More than 2,000 positions are either not filled or filled by someone not qualified to teach there – more than double the amount reported from the last school year
    • 96 percent of schools report a substitute teacher shortage problem
    • More than 400 classes were canceled, and nearly that many sent online because schools simply had no one to teach them in person
    • While administrator shortages are much less severe, schools report they’re having a harder time finding qualified candidates amid retirements and are more and more concerned those struggles will grow over time

* COVID-19 impact…

As students returned to classrooms, schools have struggled to fill needed gaps in educator availability during the pandemic. More than 70 percent say the pandemic has created budget or logistical challenges increasing hiring needs. Nearly 60 percent of districts report increased hiring of teachers and paraprofessionals during the pandemic.

But the actual effects of COVID-19 on day-to-day school instruction goes much deeper. Administrators report their teachers and staff are burned out, their substitute teacher pools are bare as more educators choose to retire or not return to the classroom, and very public battles over mask and other education mandates are taking a heavy toll.

“Anyone ‘on the fence’ about becoming or staying an educator is likely not going to be around,” reported one elementary school leader in northwest Illinois.

* Where it’s worst…

While shortage problems are evident in all parts of Illinois, rural school districts report the most significant problems and the worst outlook ahead. The most severe shortage problems are found in west central and east central Illinois – each region has more than 90 percent of schools reporting shortages. Shortages are also most extreme in unit districts.

* What’s next…

Policy recommendations included in the 2021 study include:

    • Increased funding throughout the teacher pipeline: enticing more young people to go into the field and better supporting those who start but can be tempted to leave
    • Streamlining restrictive requirements to get into teaching and substitute teaching
    • Expanding programs that recruit and support minorities and those who teach in high-need subject areas
    • Helping schools find more candidates to meet short-term educator shortage needs

* Capitol News Illinois

The survey results paint a different picture than the most recent state report card from the Illinois State Board of Education, which indicated the teacher workforce has been growing, due in large part to the additional funding districts have received from both state and federal sources.

“We are encouraged by a lot of what we can see at the state level in terms of growth overall in the number of full-time teachers,” Jen Kirmes, ISBE’s executive director of teaching and learning, said in an interview. “We’re also encouraged by what we see in terms of educator preparation, programs, enrollment and completion. And so there certainly are reasons to be optimistic.”

“We also know that there are great needs in places still for classroom educators,” she added. “But also, we’re hearing from districts about the need for other really critical support professionals who make school work for students like bus drivers, substitute teachers, paraprofessionals. And of course, especially during a pandemic, school nurses.”

Klaisner said IARSS does not dispute the data from ISBE, but he said 2020-21 findings were skewed by the pandemic and the fact that most districts were operating entirely remotely.

* Capitol News Illinois also has a few regional stories about the study…

* Northwest Illinois school districts struggle with teacher, substitute teacher vacancies

* West central Illinois communities struggle with lack of teachers

* Teacher shortage at crisis level in east central Illinois

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** COVID-19 roundup: Hospitalizations fall 9.3 percent since January 12

Tuesday, Jan 18, 2022

* The January high for hospitalizations was 7,380 on January 12th. That number dropped to 6,695 yesterday, a 9.3 percent decrease. Here’s what it looks like…

That puts the 7-day rolling average decrease at 1.04 percent. The 14-day rolling average decrease is 0.15 percent.

* Keep in mind that Cook County is 65 percent white and 24 percent Black. WBEZ

Since Dec. 7, 2021, the date when the state’s first omicron case was found in Chicago, the city’s Black residents are dying at rates four times higher than Asians, three times higher than Latinos and nearly two times higher than white residents, according to WBEZ’s analysis. A total of 97 Black Chicagoans died of COVID-19 during the seven-day period ending Jan. 9, 2022 — more than at any point since May 11, 2020.

Black Chicagoans aren’t the only demographic that has been particularly vulnerable since the arrival of omicron. Older suburban Cook County residents have also seen their seven-day COVID-19 death totals reach levels not witnessed in more than a year. According to WBEZ’s analysis, a total of 181 suburban Cook County residents 60 years and older died from COVID-19 during the week ending Jan. 9, 2022. That’s the highest seven-day total for that group since Dec. 24, 2020.

Throughout the pandemic in suburban Cook County, older white residents have died at far higher rates than any other group. White residents who are 60 years and older account for just 6.4% of the total population in suburban Cook County, but they make up 53.7% of all COVID-19 deaths among Cook County residents outside Chicago during the pandemic, according to WBEZ’s analysis.

Wow.

* Sigh…


* AP

The fast-moving omicron variant may cause less severe disease on average, but COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are climbing and modelers forecast 50,000 to 300,000 more Americans could die by the time the wave subsides in mid-March.

The seven-day rolling average for daily new COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. has been trending upward since mid-November, reaching nearly 1,700 on Jan. 17 — still below the peak of 3,300 in January 2021. COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents started rising slightly two weeks ago, although still at a rate 10 times less than last year before most residents were vaccinated.

*** UPDATE *** Press release…

Governor JB Pritzker announced today the federal government has granted the state’s request for medical staffing assistance for UChicago Medicine Ingalls Memorial Hospital. Under the agreement, a 26-person National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) team, including physicians, pharmacists, nurses, paramedics, and other specialists have been deployed to support UChicago Medicine Ingalls doctors and nurses as they treat COVID-19 patients and other patients in Harvey. This federal surge team will be available for 14-days to help reduce the strain on the region’s hospitals.

* More…

* Henry County’s COVID cases up 10.4%; Illinois cases plummet 11%: Across Illinois, cases fell in 19 counties, with the best declines in Cook County, with 69,479 cases from 95,907 a week earlier; in Will County, with 9,959 cases from 12,450; and in DuPage County, with 14,715 cases from 17,063.

* Cook County brings back 3 mass vaccination sites amid appointment shortage

* You Can Order Free COVID Tests From the Government Later This Week. Here’s How

* Omicron, Flu, Allergies: How Can You Tell the Difference in Symptoms?

* The Silent, Vaccinated, Impatient Majority

* People Are Hiding That Their Unvaccinated Loved Ones Died of COVID: With the arrival of vaccines, compassion for COVID deaths began to dry up, sometimes replaced by scorn.

* Why Omicron Is More Likely to Kill Americans: Just 63 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated, 37 percent are boosted. That leaves 122 million people with, at best, fading natural immunity to COVID. It should come as no surprise that Omicron is tearing through this large, mostly unprotected group.

* Covid pandemic ‘nowhere near over’, new variants likely to emerge: WHO chief: “In some countries, cases seem to have peaked, which gives hope that the worst of this latest wave is done with, but no country is out of the woods yet. I remain particularly concerned about many countries that have low vaccination rates, as people are many times more at risk of severe illness and death if they’re unvaccinated,” said the WHO chief.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      


Campaign notebook

Tuesday, Jan 18, 2022

…Adding… DPI…

Today, the Democratic Party of Illinois announced it raised a total of $701,723.68 in the fourth quarter of 2021, including $251,903.27 in federal fundraising and $449,820.41 in non-federal fundraising. The DPI began 2022 with a total of $3,918,603.77 on hand, resources it will use to support all Democrats as it heads into the critical 2022 midterm election year. The nearly 650 unique donors to the DPI in the fourth quarter set a highwater mark for the party as it continues to expand its outreach under the leadership of Chair Rep. Robin Kelly.

“I want to thank everyone who chipped in and helped us finish the year strong,” said Democratic Party of Illinois Chair Rep. Robin Kelly. “I couldn’t be prouder of the work we’ve done together to strengthen our party as we enter 2022. We have the resources we need to play a much-needed support role for Democratic campaigns up and down the ticket, and we look forward to doing the work necessary to deliver for all Democrats in November and beyond.”

…Adding… I told subscribers several days ago that Cassandra Tanner Miller was being touted as a potential congressional candidate. She has now filed paperwork with the FEC and is running in the 11th CD, which is currently represented by Democrat Bill Foster. The district is a lot more swingy than it was and Republicans have been worried that Catalina Lauf was too hardcore to be a good candidate against Foster. Miller (no relation) was in the news last year for “Colton’s Law”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a package of legislation Friday aimed at combatting domestic violence, sparked in part by the death of 18-month-old Colton Miller, whose father broke into his estranged wife’s Joliet home two years ago and asked “are you ready to die today?”

…Adding… Oops. Forgot to post this…


* I talked about this with subscribers earlier today, but here’s the press release…

Candidate for Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias has won the endorsement of one of the most solidly Democratic-affiliated county organizations in the state.

“Alexi will continue Jesse White’s extraordinary legacy and fight for working families in Springfield,” said Bob Sprague, Chairman of the influential St. Clair County Democratic Organization.

“Alexi stands out as the best candidate to lead this important office that interacts with the public more than any other and plays an important role in registering voters, issuing drivers licenses and serving as the state’s chief librarian,” he added. “He has a plan to modernize and improve every aspect of the office to make services easier to access and more convenient for all Illinoisans.”

St. Clair County has played a pivotal role in Democratic politics in recent years with nearly every endorsed candidate winning their primary election contest. In 2018, Governor JB Pritzker won an overwhelming 76 percent of the primary vote in St. Clair County, the highest vote-getting percentage of any county in the state.

St. Clair County has delivered Democratic votes in general elections as well. It was one of just five Illinois counties where Democrats Hillary Clinton, JB Pritzker, and Joe Biden each received over 50 percent of the General election vote in their respective races.

Pritzker went on to win the general election in 2018 with nearly 100,000 votes cast in St. Clair County, defeating then Gov. Bruce Rauner 52,603 to 40,524.

In 2020, nearly 130,000 votes were cast for U.S. President with Joe Biden winning with 68,325 votes to Donald Trump’s 57,150. Four years earlier, more than 122,000 ballots were cast with Hillary Clinton winning over Trump 60,756 to 53,857.

“I’m honored to have received the endorsement of this legendary organization of Democrats who work hard to ensure they elect candidates who share their values,” Giannoulias said. “The St. Clair Democrats have a long history of endorsing successful candidates, working tirelessly on the campaign trail and getting out the vote for candidates they believe in when it matters most. My campaign is excited to work with them in both the primary and general elections and serve St. Clair County residents as Secretary of State.”

* Global Strategy Group is a good pollster. The push questions, however, can be misleading and Mark Maxwell was right to point that out

The Democratic primary race for Secretary of State is a “dead heat,” according to a generic poll sponsored by the campaign for Anna Valencia, the current City Clerk of Chicago.

A Global Strategy Group poll of 600 likely primary voters found 58% of people surveyed were still “undecided” with six months to go before the election. Valencia and former Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias tied at 13% each. Chicago Alderman David Moore came in last with 12%.

However, once the pollsters started introducing likely primary voters to the glowing parts of Valencia’s personal backstory, her poll numbers, unsurprisingly, shot up.

The polling memo is here.

* Greg Hinz looks at the Newman vs. Casten primary

Newman, an ad agency exec and business consultant by trade, has emphasized bread-and-butter issues such as expanded health coverage. That’s won her the backing of SEIU and other progressive groups, and the support of fellow members of Congress known for advocating on such issues, including Rashida Tlaib and Ro Khanna. But campaign aides suggest she’ll tack to the middle in the primary, emphasizing her role on the House Small Business Committee and pitching herself as a hard worker who knows how to deliver for constituents.

Team Casten counters that he, too, has a progressive voting record in Washington and underlines that, despite the COVID pandemic, he has been able to hold more than 50 town hall sessions with constituents. Casten also has been particularly outspoken, even by Democratic terms, in talking about the Jan. 6 riots and what’s needed to protect U.S. democracy as Donald Trump plans a potential bid to regain the presidency in 2024.

Casten, who has some personal wealth, is expected to be better funded—particularly if Jewish groups still upset about the fact that Newman was one of only eight House Democrats to vote against funding the Israeli Iron Dome missile defense system. (Newman aides reply that voters in the district didn’t want to spend $1 billion on the project, given other needs.)

Newman, in turn, may end up having more energy out in the precincts from party activists who tend to dominate primary elections. That potential advantage could be diminished if groups such as the 19th Ward Regular Democratic Organization get involved. Ditto Lipinski, who says he hasn’t decided yet whether to endorse but certainly could stir the waters some.

* Meanwhile…

Today, Congressman Sean Casten announced he raised over $700,067 in the fourth quarter of 2021. The campaign’s impressive fundraising haul is its highest off-year fourth quarter ever and brings its total cash on hand to over $1.5 Million. The campaign has raised $1.96 million this cycle and has a lifetime average online donation of $41.38.

* And…

Congresswoman Marie Newman announced that she had received endorsements from The Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, Sprinkler Fitters Local 281 UA, Riggers, Machinery Movers & Machinery Erectors Local 136, Transport Workers Union Local 512, the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 4016, and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) District Lodge 19, the Railroad District.

* Press release…

- Today, the Judge Rochford for Supreme Court campaign reported raising more than $262,000 in the fourth quarter of 2021 and ended the year with $215,000 on hand in the race for the Second District of the Illinois Supreme Court. The campaign enters the election year in a position of strength, having outraised their nearest opponent by more than $150,000 in 2021 and ending the year with $110,000 more on hand. The campaign received support from a broad coalition of legal professionals, organized labor, elected officials, and small dollar individual donors from across the district.

* I had a brief bit on this Greg Hinz piece in a long Friday post, but it deserves more attention

A major new candidate is pondering whether to enter the race to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, and his entry could shake up the contest.

In a phone interview, Jonathan Jackson—the son of civil rights leader, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and the brother of former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.—said he not only is seriously considering running, but he’s checking with potential fundraisers, staff and big-name allies about whether to do so. […]

Jackson’s family legacy is not all positive. His brother, Jesse Jackson Jr., left office in disgrace from an adjoining district after being convicted on federal charges of spending $750,000 in campaign funds on personal luxury items.

“I love my brother,” Jackson said when asked about that. “I think he had admitted his mistakes, and repaid his debt to society.”

* She’s been a bit busy with other things, so we’ll see what happens when she starts really cranking up…


* Press release…

Illinois Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods) unveiled the Voter Empowerment Project, a legislative package of constitutional amendments designed to allow Illinois voters a more active role in their democratic process.

“For too long in this state, Illinoisans haven’t had a voice in their state government,” said Leader McConchie. “Legislative leaders have consistently marginalized the voices and opinions of the people of Illinois, cutting them out of the legislative process as important decisions continued to be made behind closed doors without public input. That’s why I am renewing Senate Republican calls to give the people back their voice through our Voter Empowerment Project.”

The package includes four Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendments:

SJRCA 13: Requires an independent redistricting commission, where the chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court and the most senior supreme court justice of the opposite party would jointly select 17 commissioners to serve on the commission.

The commission would be comprised of seven individuals representing the Democratic Party, seven individuals representing the Republican Party, and three independent commissioners. The first redistricting process would occur in 2023 and then after every subsequent federal decennial census.

SJRCA 14: Allows Illinois voters to make more substantive changes to their constitution. The Illinois Constitution currently limits citizen-initiative amendments to specified structural and procedural subjects. This amendment would put voters in the driver’s seat, allowing them to circulate petitions for and vote on many key issues such as taxation, redistricting, and other important constitutional provisions.

SJRCA 15: Permits citizens the ability to initiate up-or-down referendums on newly passed laws. By giving citizens the right to veto unpopular or rushed legislation, the amendment would allow voters a form of popular redress to political overreach and unwanted mandates.

SJRCA 16: Allows voters to recall elected officials including any executive branch officer, the Speaker of the House, the President of the Senate, the Auditor General, Members of the General Assembly, and local government officials. Currently, only the Governor is subject to recall.

“This package provides needed checks and balances to Illinois’ government—protections that have been weakened after decades of corruption and mismanagement,” said Leader McConchie. “It will empower the people of Illinois by providing them with tools to take back their government.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      


Small Shift, Big Impact. A Better World With Biodiesel.

Tuesday, Jan 18, 2022

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Learn about the change we can make now.

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- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Richard Irvin coverage roundup

Tuesday, Jan 18, 2022

* Hannah Meisel

The Republican Party nationally has changed dramatically in the eight years since Rauner won, as Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and four years in the White House maligned more traditional GOP politicians — especially those aligned with business interests. Instead, a growing number of Republicans have tapped into a growing and self-perpetuating hunger among previously disaffected voters, even if it means touting baseless conspiracy theories and sometimes amplifying outright racism.

Elected state Republican leaders in Illinois — a blue island on a presidential voting map surrounded by an increasingly red Midwest — have been resistant to riding the new GOP tide. This resistance has divided the state party, a body made up of hyper-partisans who have revolted against their party chairs twice in the past decade for being too moderate.

A key faction of longtime GOP operatives, however, are placing a bet that a diverse mix of Republicans running mostly on kitchen-table issues can attract crossover voters, mostly from suburban areas. But it’s a high-stakes bet, especially given the GOP primary electorate has shifted to mostly downstate areas in the past two decades, which have gotten more conservative as former Democratic strongholds buoyed by union organizing have disappeared, along with key industries.

The bet also promises to be expensive. Griffin, the founder and CEO of Chicago-based hedge fund Citadel, this fall reportedly vowed to spend as much as $300 million on Republican candidates in the 2022 cycle. After Irvin’s announcement Monday, Griffin touted the candidate’s credentials.

Top Illinois Republican leaders also resisted embracing Reaganism back in the day. This internal party fight has ancient roots here.

* Greg Hinz has questions

• Will the public’s memory focus on Pritzker’s failed effort to push through a graduated income tax, or on his more recent accomplishments in balancing the state’s budget, raising its credit rating and paying off old bills rung up during Rauner’s tenure?

• Will COVID finally ease for good, boosting the state’s mood and taking the edge off of what augurs to be at least a good year for Republicans nationally?

• Who will turn out to be the bigger bogeyman: Rauner, whom Democrats seek to mention at every turn, or Mike Madigan, the now retired but still remembered Illinois House speaker?

• Will other top GOP fundraisers—Ron Gidwitz, Dick Uihlein and Craig Duchossois, to name three examples—open their wallets wide for the ticket? I’m told that was a condition of getting Griffin involved, but we’ll see.

* Rick Pearson

“I’ve seen it up close. Defund the police is dumb, dangerous and it costs lives. And I believe that all lives matter. Every family should be safe,” he says. “My city is now safe, stronger and full of opportunity. I want that for Illinois.”

Irvin, 51, the first Black mayor of the state’s second largest city, chose Martin Luther King Jr. Day to launch a campaign he and Republicans believe can appeal to Black voters who traditionally vote overwhelmingly Democratic.

At the same time, Republicans see the recent outbreak in violent crime in the city and suburbs as an opportunity to portray Democrats as soft on crime for enacting criminal justice changes such as an end to cash bail, even though many of those changes have yet to go into effect.

Crime will be the central issue for that Republican slate this year.

* Craig Wall

“He has to convince diehard GOP voters that he is conservative enough to satisfy their concerns, but he also has to be looking for the general election and he has to be able to convince GOP voters that he can win in the fall,” ABC7 political analyst Laura Washington said.

“The best part about the campaign, the primary this year is not in March. It’s June 28,” political analyst Thom Serafin said. “So he’s got a lot of time to do what he needs to do to get done, and he got a good start based on that video I saw today.” […]

“He’s getting into the race late, but it’s not that late,” Washington said.

“We’ve got almost six months ahead of campaigning. If he has a huge amount of money behind him, he can play catch up very quickly.”

* Marni Pyke

One issue likely to come up in the primary is that Irvin pulled Democratic ballots in the 2014, 2016 and 2020 election primaries and in the 2017 and 2021 consolidated election primaries.

He picked a Republican ballot in the 2018 primary that former Gov. Bruce Rauner won.

“I welcome Mayor Irvin to the race and I look forward to reviewing his conservative credentials and comparing and contrasting his vision for Illinois with ours,” said Palatine Township Highway Commissioner Aaron Del Mar, who is running for lieutenant governor on a ticket with governor candidate and businessman Gary Rabine of McHenry.

Del Mar called it “strategic” that Irvin’s campaign announcement came in a video and he was not available for questions. “I think there’s a lot about Mr. Irvin that Republican voters want to know,” Del Mar said.

* Lynn Sweet

Leading the Irvin project is Kirk alum Mike Zolnierowicz, a former chief of staff for Rauner who was the “strategic consultant” for the successful 2020 campaign, fueled by Griffin’s millions, to defeat Pritzker’s bid for a graduated income tax.

With Irvin’s name in play since December, Pritzker’s team, the Democratic Party of Illinois and the Democratic Governor’s Association have been steadfastly linking him to Rauner and Griffin.

The Democrats labeled the Irvin-led slate the “Griffin slate,” and hope the name sticks. The Irvin-Bourne nominating petitions call themselves the “Fight for Illinois Team.” The address for their petition drive is Zolnierowicz’s firm, Z Strategies, in Ravenswood.

* Steven Spearie

[Don Tracy, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party], at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast in Springfield, encouraged all GOP candidates to heed the 11th Commandment.

“Thou shalt not speak ill of thy fellow Republican. It’s going to be tough in a competitive primary, but as state party chair, it’s my job to remind people of that and I will continue to do so,” he said.

* Greg Bishop

Reform For Illinois Executive Director Alisa Kaplan said it’s going to be a big money campaign the state hasn’t seen before.

“This is an insane amount of money by any standard,” Kaplan told The Center Square Monday. “By national standards, by local standards, by global standards.”

Pritzker spent more than $170 million to get the job in 2018.

“Look at the vicious cycle that Illinois has gotten into with two billionaires,” Kaplan said. “It’s very distressing that Pritzker put $90 million into his campaign account. But when you look at Ken Griffin saying he’s going to put $300 million, how is someone going to fight except with a lot of money.”

Kaplan said voters must beware the influence big money has.

“I think people should be very concerned about what this means for their democracy and do whatever they can to get involved and see how we can empower everyday voters instead of just sitting back and accepting this situation,” Kaplan said.

…Adding… Mark Maxwell

The next year, while he was running for re-election in Aurora in the spring of 2021, Irvin told a local news outlet, “I support Black Lives Matter strongly and passionately.”

This year, now that he’s running for governor in a Republican primary, Irvin repeated critics of the Black Lives Matter movement who often retort, “I believe All Lives Matter.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      


Irvin rolls out over 60 GOP endorsements

Tuesday, Jan 18, 2022

* Press release…

Over 60 national, state, and local Republican leaders will serve as campaign co-chairs on Richard Irvin and Avery Bourne’s campaign for Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Illinois. The diverse list includes endorsements from all over the state, ranging from party activists to elected officials who want to see Irvin’s leadership in Springfield.

Former US Congressman and 28 year military veteran John Shimkus noted Irvin’s military background and prior leadership success guiding the city of Aurora.

“Richard has dedicated his life to serving our country and our state,” Shimkus said. “In the Army he fought to protect our freedoms in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. As a prosecutor he brought criminals to justice. As mayor he improved the lives of Aurora families. Richard loves America and he loves Illinois. He knows our state is on the wrong track with high crime, out-of-control taxes and never ending corruption. I can’t think of anyone better to take our state back and get it on the right track than this veteran, prosecutor and mayor.”

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) proudly voiced support for Irvin, who has a clear record of reducing violent crime in the second largest city in the state, and for the Assistant Minority Leader of his caucus, Avery Bourne, who has a proven record of leadership in Springfield.

“As murders, carjackings and mayhem surged across Illinois, JB Pritzker’s answer was signing a bill that lets violent criminals walk the streets without consequence while crippling the ability of our police to do their jobs and keep our communities safe,” Durkin said. “Richard Irvin was a prosecutor who knows what it takes to make Illinois safe. As Mayor, Richard hired more cops and stood proudly with law enforcement when Illinois Democrats repeatedly turned their backs. That’s the kind of leadership we need today in Illinois.”

In light of the rapid rates of rising crime, law enforcement officials have voiced their approval for the needed change Richard Irvin and Avery Bourne would bring, including Kendall County Sheriff Dwight Baird.

“Crime is out-of-control throughout Illinois and JB Pritzker made it worse by signing a bill that lets criminals out of jail and doesn’t allow the police to do their jobs,” Baird said. “That’s wrong. As a prosecutor, Richard put gangbangers and thugs behind bars, and worked to make neighborhoods safer. As Mayor of Aurora, Richard hired more cops, defeated the Defund the Police movement and has helped reduce crime. Patterns of violent crime can’t continue to go unchecked–which is why we need a proven leader like Richard as our next Governor of Illinois.”

Leslie Munger, former Illinois Comptroller and fiscal conservative, proudly supports Irvin for the opportunity this election brings to turn around state finances.

“Our state is headed in the wrong direction,” Munger said. “High taxes and violent crime are out of control, and the corruption from Springfield never ends as JB Pritzker continues to prioritize the special interests and political insiders over Illinois families. Illinois is in desperate need of change. We need new leaders who will put the hardworking taxpayers of Illinois first, and that’s why I am proudly supporting Richard Irvin for Governor. As Mayor of Aurora, Richard has reduced crime, stood with law enforcement, brought economic growth to Aurora to reduce the local tax burden, balanced budgets, and has taken on corruption. I know he will do the same for Illinois.”

Terry Richmond, Montgomery County GOP Chairman, echoed the need for better budgeting in Illinois as state finances continue to crumble.

“Under JB Pritzker spending continues to surge and his only answer is to try and institute the largest tax hike in Illinois history on families, farmers and small business owners,” Richmond said. “As Mayor of Aurora, Richard has balanced budgets and returned money to taxpayers. As state representative, Avery has been a consistent conservative fighting back against the Pritzker-Madigan Machine. We need change in Illinois that doesn’t come at an expense to taxpayers, which is why Irvin and Bourne are undoubtedly the best team to lead the State of Illinois back to prosperity.”

With Illinois residents continuing to bear the brunt of the rising cost of living in the state, local leaders including Dan Cronin, Dupage County Chairman, have voiced support for new leadership that wouldn’t resort to ‘tax and spend’ habits.

“JB Pritzker already tried to pass the largest tax hike in Illinois history, and if re-elected he will try again,” said Cronin. “As people flee the state in droves, the last thing Illinois needs is higher taxes. As mayor, Richard balanced budgets and returned money to its citizens. I’ve known Richard for years - he’s a former prosecutor, veteran and true leader. With his common sense approach to government, he can take our state back and get it on the right track.”

Aurora Alderwoman Patty Smith (8th Ward) has witnessed Richard Irvin’s success in bringing significant change at the local level–and endorsed the opportunity to do that on a larger scale throughout Illinois.

“I am endorsing Richard Irvin for Governor because he has a proven record of leadership in Aurora that he can bring to all of Illinois,” Smith said. “He fought Mike Madigan’s hand-picked candidate in the mayor’s race and won. He balanced our city’s budget and stood proudly with law enforcement to keep Aurora safe. We need Richard’s leadership in Springfield, to restore Illinois back to the great state it once was.”

Mike Bigger, Stark County Republican Chairman & Former Secretary of the Illinois Republican Party, highlighted Irvin’s pro-growth mindset, a stark contrast to the anti-business policies under the Pritzker Administration.

“Under JB Pritzker, businesses large and small are fleeing for lower taxed states because of his constant push for higher taxes,” said Bigger. “Where he’s failed, Richard has succeeded by working with businesses and creating a welcoming environment in Aurora that has seen an explosion in growth the last several years. It’s that track record of success in helping bring businesses and growth that we so desperately need in Springfield.”

The list of support for Irvin and Bourne includes the following leaders throughout Illinois:

    • Nick Africano, Kankakee County Treasurer & Kankakee County GOP Chair (Kankakee County)
    • Mark Aguilera, Former National Committeeman, Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Illinois (Cook County)
    • Janice Anderson, Former DuPage County Board Member (DuPage County)
    • Shweta Baid, Aurora Alderman (Ward 10) (DuPage County)
    • Dwight Baird, Kendall County Sheriff (Kendall County)
    • Sue Barfield, Former Chair of the Massac County GOP Women (Massac County)
    • Dick Barr, Lake County Board Member & Lake Villa Township GOP Vice Chair (Lake County)
    • Mark Batinick, Illinois State Representative (HD97) (Will County)
    • Bob Berlin, DuPage County State’s Attorney (DuPage County)
    • Mike Bigger, Stark County Republican Chairman, Former Secretary of the Illinois Republican Party
    • Adam Brown, Former Illinois State Representative (HD102) (Macon County)
    • Tim Butler, Illinois State Representative (HD87) (Sangamon County)
    • Eugene Carpino, Former Executive Director of the Illinois House Republican Organization (DuPage County)
    • Sandi Cianci, Kankakee County Circuit Clerk (Kankakee County)
    • Dan Cronin, DuPage County Board Chairman (DuPage County)
    • Tom Cronin, River Forest Township GOP Chair (Cook County)
    • Tom Cross, Former House Republican Leader (Will County)
    • Judy Diekelman, Illinois Republican Party Treasurer & State Central Committee (CD2) (Cook County)
    • Jim Durkin, Illinois State Representative (HD82) and House Republican Leader (Cook County)
    • Marianne Eterno, National Chairwoman of the Private Enterprise Advisory Council of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) (Cook County)
    • Larry Falbe, Lake County Republican Federation President (Lake County)
    • Ron Gidwitz (Honorary), Trump Co-Chair & Former U.S. Ambassador
    • Andy Goleman, Sangamon County Auditor (Sangamon County)
    • Scott Gryder, Kendall County Board Chairman (Kendall County)
    • Patty Gustin, Naperville City Councilmember (DuPage County)
    • Tom Haine, Madison County State’s Attorney (Madison County)
    • Aren Hansen, Grundy County GOP Chairman & Illinois Republican Party State Central Committee (CD16) (Grundy County)
    • Kathy Hilton, Illinois Republican Party State Central Committee - Deputy (CD1) and New Lenox Township Trustee (Will County)
    • Nathan Hoffman, Former Vice Chairman of the Illinois College Republican Federation and Chairman of University of Illinois-Springfield College Republicans (Sangamon County)
    • Nimish Jani, Illinois Republican Party State Central Committee (CD8) (Cook County)
    • Diante Johnson, Black Conservative Foundation President & Former Blacks for Trump Advisor (Vermilion County)
    • Brian Kasal, 43rd Ward Republican Committeeman, Northside Chicago GOP Organization President & Illinois Republican Party Finance Committee Member (Cook County)
    • Ammie Kessem, 41st Ward Republican Committeeperson (Cook County)
    • Jake Lee, Kankakee County Auditor (Kankakee County)
    • Gus Leventis, Addison Township Trustee & Addison Township GOP Member (DuPage County)
    • Alejandro “Alex” Lopez, Elgin Township Trustee, Elgin Township GOP Member & Invest Aurora Board Member (Kane County)
    • Joan McCarthy LaSonde, Executive Director of the North Cook Republican Organization (Cook County)
    • Joe McMahon, Former Kane County State’s Attorney (Kane County)
    • Raquel Mitchell, Will County Board Member & Wheatland Township GOP Chair (Will County)
    • Sean Morrison (Honorary), Cook County Commissioner, Cook County GOP Chairman & Illinois Republican Party State Central Committee (CD3) (Cook County)
    • John Munger, Vernon Township GOP Chairman (Lake County)
    • Leslie Munger, Former Illinois Comptroller (Lake County)
    • Gray Noll, Morgan County State’s Attorney (Morgan County)
    • Lynn O’Brien, Illinois Republican Party State Central Committee - Deputy (CD6) & Illinois Republican Party Finance Committee Member (Lake County)
    • Jim Oberweis, Former Illinois State Senator (SD25) & Former Illinois Republican Party State Central Committee (CD14) (Kane County)
    • Steve Orlando, Former Chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Illinois (Will County)
    • Tim Ozinga, Illinois State Representative (HD37) (Will County)
    • Rocky Pintozzi, Past Chairman of the Aurora Convention & Visitors Bureau (DuPage County)
    • Matt Podgorski, Northwest Side GOP Club Chairman (Cook County)
    • Randy Pollard, Former President of the Illinois County Chairmen’s Association & Former Chairman of the Fayette County GOP (Fayette County)
    • Richard Porter (Honorary), Republican National Committeeman (Cook County)
    • Matt Prochaska, Kendall County Circuit Clerk & Young Republicans Statewide Executive Board (Kendall County)
    • Dennis Reboletti, Former Illinois State Representative & Addison Township Supervisor (DuPage County)
    • Jay Reyes, Illinois Republican Party State Central Committee (CD4) (Cook County)
    • Terry Richmond, Montgomery County GOP Chair (Montgomery County)
    • Bob Schillerstrom, Former DuPage County Board Chairman (DuPage County)
    • Tim Schneider, Former Illinois Republican Party Chairman (Cook County)
    • Mike Shackel, Lemont Township Supervisor & Lemont Township GOP Chair (Cook County)
    • John Shimkus (Honorary), Former U.S. Congressman (Madison County)
    • Patrick Simon, Calhoun County GOP Chairman (Calhoun County)
    • Grace Simpson, Mercer County State’s Attorney (Mercer County)
    • Patty Smith, Aurora Alderman (Ward 8) (DuPage County)
    • Dan Ugaste, Illinois State Representative (HD65) (Kane County)
    • Richard Veenstra, Mayor of Addison (DuPage County)
    • Grant Wehrli, Former State Representative & Naperville City Council Member (DuPage County)
    • Neil Williamson, Former Sangamon County Sheriff (Sangamon County)
    • Ron Woerman, Aurora Alderman (At-Large) (Kane County)
    • Jim Zay, DuPage County GOP Chairman & DuPage County Board Member (DuPage County)

- Posted by Rich Miller   90 Comments      


Open thread

Tuesday, Jan 18, 2022

* Be nice to each other.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition

Tuesday, Jan 18, 2022

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Tuesday, Jan 18, 2022

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Tuesday, Jan 18, 2022

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« NEWER POSTS PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Irvin touts "Back the Blue" fund
* Bailey gave two-thirds of his Q4 net contributions away to fellow Republican legislators, had a 183% net burn rate
* Question of the day
* Campaign notebook
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Slate pledges support for Irvin, Bourne
* WBEZ to finalize Sun-Times purchase by end of the month, paper will stop endorsing candidates
* A fitting end
* Open thread
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today's edition
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