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*** UPDATED x1 - Quinn gets top spot on AG ballot *** Pritzker will appear at the top of the Democratic ballot

Wednesday, Dec 13, 2017

* Hmm…

Biss/Kennedy joint statement about a “rigged” lottery in 3… 2… /s

*** UPDATE *** Here we go…

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      

*** UPDATED x4 - Kennedy, Ives, Rauner respond *** Political blowback begins over Quincy Veterans Home debacle

Wednesday, Dec 13, 2017

* Biss campaign…

Daniel Biss released the following statement after a scathing investigative report by WBEZ revealed Bruce Rauner’s failure to address deadly outbreaks of the Legionnaires’ disease crisis at the state-run Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy, Illinois.

“This tragedy is the result of decades of disinvestments in the communities that need it most and a reflection of a broken system that fails to provide necessary care for Illinois’ most vulnerable residents. These brave men and women, who once answered the call to service, deserve to live the remainder of their lives with dignity and pride for the sacrifices they made for our country.

“Instead, Bruce Rauner has failed them by neglecting to address the outbreak of a wholly preventable disease in the Illinois Veterans Home. We need an immediate investigation into Rauner’s negligence and we must bring justice for these veterans and their families who are suffering as a result.”

* Pritzker campaign…

Following a tragic new report on Legionnaires’ disease deaths in Illinois Veterans’ homes, JB Pritzker called for an independent investigation into Bruce Rauner’s failure to prevent the deaths of our nation’s heroes.

At a press conference in front of the Thompson Center with Alderman Gilbert Villegas and members of the Chicago City Council’s Veterans Caucus, JB outlined three actions that must be taken immediately to begin to remedy the crisis and protect our Veterans. An independent investigator must be appointed to investigate the Legionnaires’ crisis and audit existing contracts; in consultation with their families, Veterans should be relocated from the Quincy Veterans’ home to keep them safe; and the construction of the new Chicago Veterans’ home that was stalled by Bruce Rauner’s budget crisis should be expedited and opened immediately.

“The obligation we have to these heroes and their families is sacred, and to have that obligation so thoroughly neglected is an unconscionable moral failing,” said JB Pritzker. “They served us, they defended us, they risked their lives for us. For them to come home expecting our support and care, and instead lose their lives to a preventable disease is appalling. These are real lives lost and families destroyed because of failures at the highest levels of our state government. When a governor does not take charge, people die. Bruce Rauner must be held accountable for this tragic failure of leadership.”

Alderman Gilbert Villegas said, “Legionnaires’ disease is totally and completely treatable, and it’s found in places like prisons and third world countries, but here we are talking about a Veterans’ Home in Illinois. Governor Rauner should be ashamed. Right here in Chicago, a Veterans’ Home has been sitting unfinished the entire time Bruce Rauner has been governor. Today, I am calling on Bruce Rauner to step up and do whatever it takes to serve our Veterans just like they have served him and all of us. Never allow another Veteran to die of Legionnaires. Never allow another vital building to go half finished. Governor Rauner, do what is right and serve our Veterans, just like they served us—you’re in charge.”

In support of these efforts, Veteran and Secretary of State Jesse White said, “There needs to be an investigation into the issues surrounding the Legionnaires disease outbreak in Quincy Veterans’ home and I urge the facility to be shut down until the source of the outbreak is known. As a Veteran, I find it especially frustrating that people who served our country should have to deal with this outrageous situation.”

* Press release…

State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is calling for a full legislative audit into the mismanagement of the Quincy Veterans’ Home that has resulted in deaths of Illinois veterans.

“Our veterans have survived combat zones and foreign conflicts – the greatest dangers they now face should not be living their golden years in a state facility,” Cullerton said. “I’m calling on my colleagues on the Legislative Audit Commission to launch a full examination into the Quincy Veterans’ Home to give the General Assembly a clear picture of the problems we have on hand. The sooner we examine this atrocity, the more quickly we can remedy the situation.”

Cullerton will file legislation today to quickly begin the audit. He hopes for cooperation from the Illinois Legislative Audit Commission and sent a letter to Co-Chairmen State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) and Representative Bob Rita (D-Blue Island) to drive the audit. Cullerton serves on the bipartisan commission.

“I’m outraged veterans have died on the governor’s watch,” Cullerton said. “Our nation’s heroes have laid their lives on the line to protect our great nation. I cannot believe Governor Rauner’s administration has been thoughtless and ineffective in the care and services our veterans continue to receive.”

Cullerton describes this as another example from the governor’s administration of mismanagement and ineffective usage of state funds and resources.

“Governor Rauner needs to answer for this ongoing epidemic,” Cullerton said. “Governor Rauner has failed our veterans once again. My hope is this thorough examination will result in our nation’s heroes receiving better services and living conditions. They have given us their very best, now it is our duty to make sure they receive the same from us.”

Cullerton served in the Army from 1990 to 1993 as an infantryman and serves on as the Chairman of the Illinois Senate’s Veterans Affairs Committee.

He will be calling a hearing soon to address this issue and begin examining the care and services veterans receive at Quincy Veterans Home.

* Comptroller Mendoza

I dunno. Did the governor order a cover-up? The WBEZ story doesn’t seem to show that. It looks like the state agency kept things quiet at first. But, again, I don’t know all the particulars yet.

*** UPDATE 1 *** Governor’s office…

Gov. Bruce Rauner issued the following statement regarding the Quincy Veterans’ Home:

“My administration is deeply concerned about the veterans at the Quincy Veterans’ Home. We are committed to ensuring the residents get the care and treatment they deserve in a safe living environment.

“When the first incidence of Legionella occurred in Quincy, six months into my administration, we quickly brought in the Centers for Disease Control and followed their recommendations. The state has implemented a robust and comprehensive water management plan including the construction of a new water management plant and routine testing of the water at the facility.

“The CDC in its most recent report said the remediation is ‘aligned with the best practices identified in CDC’s water management toolkit.’

“Legionella is a virus that is a growing concern in the U.S., not just in Illinois. That it has arisen in a place where our bravest and most cherished defenders reside is a tragedy, and we intend to keep working with the CDC at our side to protect our residents.”

Hmm. I wonder what he means by “six months into my administration, we quickly brought in the Centers for Disease Control.” If it’s the agency, then the decision not to tell the public is on it. If it’s Rauner’s office, then he didn’t inform the public (including family members of the afflicted) for weeks about the outbreak.

…Adding… Also, governor, it’s a bacteria, not a virus.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Rep. Jeanne Ives…

“This report is sickening. As a veteran, and the daughter and granddaughter of soldiers, it goes without saying that I understand the depth and significance of the sacrifice our men and women in uniform make. Today, my thoughts are with the families of the 13 people who died in the Illinois Veterans Home.

“Under Governor Rauner, state services have declined to a such degree that the maintenance of clean facilities to prevent outbreaks of bacterial maladies, like Legionnaires, has become grossly inadequate. In November, Rauner said at Hines VA Hospital, ‘One way we can support our veterans — keep a quality of life and achieve the American dream for themselves and their families — is to have high-quality health care services.’ Yet another betrayal at the hand of Benedict Rauner.

“Managing state agencies is one of the critical jobs of the Executive Office. Bruce Rauner promised to turn Illinois around. But on his watch, state services have deteriorated. If he can’t manage a 200-acre veterans home with 250 residents, how can he manage the state? Governor Rauner isn’t in charge, because he never took charge. And 13 veterans, or spouses of veterans, are now dead because of it.”

*** UPDATE 3 *** Chris Kennedy…

“Taking care of our veterans should transcend campaign politics. Those who served our nation should receive the best quality care no matter what. Of course, there should be an investigation into the failure to protect these veterans. I am hopeful that Governor Rauner will join the call for an independent audit into why this happened and how we can ensure it will never happen again.”

*** UPDATE 4 *** Sen. Paul Schimpf…

“Our first and foremost priority must be to ensure our veterans receive the best care possible, and that they receive it in a healthy environment. While the state continues to look for the source of this outbreak and enact the recommendations provided by the Centers for Disease Control, it is my hope that we remain focused on treating our veterans who have been affected. Our veterans deserve better than partisan finger-pointing,” said Schimpf (R-58th District). “As the Minority Spokesman for the Illinois Senate Veteran’s Affairs Committee, I look forward to hearing from the Illinois Department of Veteran’s Affairs in a public forum on how to best to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

* Multiple members…

State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora, state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, state Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Smithton, and state Rep. Al Riley, D-Olympia Fields, are demanding a full investigation and legislative hearings into why Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration has not taken aggressive action to provide better care for veterans living in state-run veteran homes and to prevent them from dying from avoidable diseases.

“Reading the investigative report about the Quincy Veterans Home and the individuals who died from Legionnaires Disease there due to the inability of the Department of Veterans Affairs to address the outbreak is outrageous and shameful,” Chapa LaVia said. “The highest possible safety standards should exist in our veteran homes.”

Following an investigative report by WBEZ, the Illinois Veterans Home, located in Quincy, was discovered to have experienced three outbreaks of Legionnaires Disease spanning from July 2015 to the fall of this year. The disease led to the death of 13 veterans and infected another 61 other residents. Despite receiving more than $6 million in taxpayer money to update the home’s water supply and other safety standards to prevent this disease from spreading, the location continued to face outbreaks.

“It’s clear that the Rauner administration cannot take care of our most vulnerable Veterans. He should have taken personal responsibility to solve this serious problem back in 2015″ Marine Veteran Kifowit said. “This is another example of failure of the Rauner administration and shows that it is true, he hasn’t been in charge. I support a full investigation of the conditions of all our Veterans homes, and extensive legislative hearings detailing this failure of the administration”.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) added that the Quincy facility’s plumbing system still poses risks to the health of residents and staff who live and work there. The CDC has noted that due to the building’s old age that completely eradicating Legionella is “very challenging.”

“As Americans, we owe so much to our veterans, and they deserve better than to fall victim to a preventable disease,” Riley said. “Clearly, the governor is not on top of this terrible situation, and he and the Department of Veterans Affairs need to answer for the lack of attention to this issue and explain to the families of the victims why this was allowed to happen.”

Chapa LaVia, Kifowit, Costello and Riley, all of whom are veterans, are demanding there to be a full investigation and legislative hearings to pass legislation that will demand the Governor to implement higher safety standards in veteran homes across Illinois in order to prevent more service men and women from dying from easily preventable diseases.

“As a veteran of the United States Army during Operation Desert Storm, I am disgusted to find out about the treatment of my fellow service members at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy,” Costello said. “It is time for us to take action and prevent another outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease by modernizing the facility.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   54 Comments      

Leader Durkin’s campaign now out-Profting Dan Proft

Wednesday, Dec 13, 2017

* Heh…

Background is here.

* This robocall from what appears to be a fake group went out this week attacking Operating Engineers Local 150 for supporting Mickey Straub. But there’s some dispute about how many Republican primary voters in Leader Durkin’s district actually received it. A couple of high-level Local 150 officers got it and one of them doesn’t even live in the district…

Hi, this is Sarah. And I’m calling you because of Mickey Straub’s open hostility towards organized labor. Mickey wants to repeal the prevailing wage here in Illinois and strip money from the pockets of working class families, all in the name of a radical anti-union agenda.

He called Scott Walker’s anti-union agenda ‘inspiring.’ It’s a shame the leaders at Local 150 are selling out their own members to play politics and support Mike Madigan’s backed candidate.

Don’t be fooled by Mickey. He’s a rat and no friend of labor.

Except for the Madigan reference, this is most definitely not a standard Republican primary voter pitch. More like a brushback pitch at 150. Full audio is here.

* Meanwhile, from

Jim Durkin has been an Illinois Representative for 20 years.

Jim Durkin voted against concealed carry for law-abiding gun owners.

Jim Durkin voted for a de facto state gun registration requirement on law-abiding gun owners.

Jim Durkin voted to provide health care benefits to persons in this country illegally.

Jim Durkin voted for legislation that allows people to change the gender on their birth certificate to the gender with which they identify.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

Question of the day: Golden Horseshoe Awards

Wednesday, Dec 13, 2017

* The 2017 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Illinois State Representative - Republican is a tie. Rep. David Harris

Rep. David Harris for his pragmatism, compassion and integrity. His departure signifies the potential end of an era. He’s a true Statesman. I wish the General well in his retirement.

And the people’s choice

Rep. Steve Andersson for many of the reasons already mentioned but also because he is the consummate statesman and gentleman. He refuses to join that element of his party which hates and rails against others. A face-to-face with Steve always restores my faith in the political process.

I think my own personal pick would’ve been Reggie Phillips, a Tea Partier if there ever was one who voted for a tax hike to prevent his district and his state from crashing and burning.

* The 2017 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Illinois State Representative - Democrat goes to Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie

BFC deserves this one for a long career’s worth of service to Illinois. Even as the Speaker’s majority leader, she’s well respected on both sides of the aisle. Her contributions to good public policy are numerous, spanning the fields of human services, healthcare, education, government transparency, and on and on.

Honorable mention goes to Rep. Chris Welch

He has done an outstanding job of representing his District. He successfully passed the Cursive Writing Bill, passed the Trust Act, he courageously sued the Comptroller’s office to get the General Assembly paid, and he is currently running unopposed. Rep Welch being unopposed is a reflection of the great job that he’s doing. He listens to his constituents and put us first.

* OK, on to today’s category…

* Best Illinois State Senator - Republican

* Best Illinois State Senator - Democrat

Make sure to explain your nomination or it won’t count. And do your best to nominate legislators in both categories, please. Thanks

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - Ives responds *** We’re number one! (and not in a good way)

Wednesday, Dec 13, 2017

* Pensions & Investments

Illinois has the highest pension burden among all 50 states, said Fitch Ratings’ 2017 state pension report released Tuesday. ​

According to the report, Illinois’ unfunded pension liabilities amounted to 22.8% of residents’ personal income at the end of fiscal year 2016, compared to a median 3.1% for all states and 1% for Florida, the least burdened state.

The median 3.1% for all states is higher than the approximately 2.9% reported in fiscal year 2015, which Fitch attributed in the report to weak asset performance, reduced discount rates, inadequate employer pension contributions, and “ongoing unfavorable demographic and actuarial trends.”

Douglas Offerman, senior director at Fitch Ratings, noted that a number of states with the highest pension burdens — Illinois, Kentucky, New Jersey and Massachusetts — help cover the cost of local teachers’ pensions. Teachers make up one of the largest populations of public-sectors workers, Mr. Offerman said.

Under Fitch’s calculations, Illinois’ net pension liabilities totaled $151.5 billion at the end of fiscal year 2016; New Jersey, $91.8 billion; Massachusetts, $48.9 billion; and Kentucky, $32.8 billion. For this year’s report, Fitch used a 6% discount rate to calculate net pension liabilities, down from 7% last year.


…Adding… Click here to see the payment ramp through 2045.

*** UPDATE *** I didn’t write this novella, I’m just posting it, so don’t blame me…

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published an article, Illinois Drives People Away, that said, “Fitch Ratings reported this week that Illinois’s unfunded pension liabilities equaled 22.8% of residents’ personal income last year, compared to a median of 3.1% across all states and 1% in Florida.” State Representative Jeanne Ives, a Republican Candidate for Governor, issued the following statement:

“In 2014, Governor Rauner ran on a reform agenda that would grow Illinois’ economy. The report in Wall Street Journal, one of the most reputable and well-respected newspapers in the nation, dramatically highlights Benedict Rauner’s betrayals on his fiscal promises.

“During the 2014 C-Span Gubernatorial Debate against Pat Quinn, Governor Rauner, in his closing statement said, ‘We need to grow our economy, which is the single most important thing we can do. And we are failing miserably under Pat Quinn to grow our economy and create jobs… I’ll drive that. I’ve been a business builder my whole career.’

“But, the WSJ reported, ‘The Prairie State lost a record $4.75 billion in adjusted gross income to other states in the 2015 tax year, according to recently IRS data released. That’s up from $3.4 billion in the prior year. Many of the migrants were retirees who often flock to balmier climes. But millennials accounted for more than a third of the net outflow in tax returns.’

‘While Florida with zero income tax was the top destination for Illinois expatriates, the Illinois Policy Institute notes that Illinois lost income and people on net to all of its neighbors—Wisconsin (6,000 people based on claimed exemptions), Indiana (8,200), Iowa (1,900), Missouri (2,000) and Kentucky (1,100).’


“In 2014, Governor Rauner promised roll back the income tax rate to 3 percent over four years.

“Yet, the WSJ reports, ‘Illinois’ corporate tax rate is 9.5 percent, and pass-through business owners pay 6.45 percent.’ Additionally, Illinois’ personal income tax rate is at 4.95 percent, 32 percent higher than when Rauner took office.


“In a 2014 campaign ad, Bruce Rauner blasted Pat Quinn for Illinois’ high property tax rates, which he claimed were the second highest in the nation. The ad said: ‘The second highest property taxes in America, and Pat Quinn wants to make his 67 percent tax increase permanent. Pat Quinn: He just doesn’t get it.’

“The ad debuted about a month after Rauner proposed a freeze on local property taxes with no increase allowed without voter approval.

“Today, according to the Wall Street Journal, ‘Property taxes in Cook County and Chicago’s “collar” counties are the highest in the country outside of California and the Northeast. The average homeowner who moves from Lake County, Illinois, across the border to Kenosha County, Wisconsin would receive an annual $3,200 annual property tax cut.’


“In 2014, Governor Rauner repeatedly said he would replace traditional pensions for public workers with 401(k)-style retirement plans common in the private sector. This was a plan advocated by the Illinois Policy Institute that would have cut the state’s unfunded pension liability in half in 2014 and eliminated the state’s unfunded liability by 2045.
“According to the WSJ report, ‘Taxes may increase as Democrats scrounge for cash to pay for pensions. Fitch Ratings reported this week that Illinois’s unfunded pension liabilities equaled 22.8% of residents’ personal income last year, compared to a median of 3.1% across all states and 1% in Florida.’


“In their 2014 endorsement of Governor Rauner, the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board said, ‘From the get-go, Rauner has campaigned on the urgent need to shatter the self-serving political power structure in state government and promote a dramatically different agenda to get Illinois growing again. He knows that the answer isn’t more tax increases. Unlike the ruling class in Springfield, he doesn’t see employers as enemies useful only to be milked. He wants government to be of a size taxpayers can afford… We believe a Gov. Rauner would explore changes made by governors of other states with balanced budgets, solid retirement systems and lower unemployment rates. He’s obviously competitive. He would strive to do what Quinn cannot: Make Illinois competitive again.’

“Yesterday, the WSJ reported, ‘Illinois’s economy has been stagnant, growing a meager 0.9% on an inflation-adjusted annual basis since 2012—the slowest in the Great Lakes and half as fast as the U.S. overall. This year nearly 100,000 individuals have left the Illinois labor force. The University of Illinois Flash Economic Index, which measures corporate earnings and investment as well as personal income, hit a five-year low in October. (See nearby for the recent labor force trend in Illinois and Wisconsin.)’

- Posted by Rich Miller   93 Comments      

Schakowsky endorses Rotering, Fairley talks Alabama, AG candidates attend forum

Wednesday, Dec 13, 2017

* Press release…

Mayor Nancy Rotering announced today that she earned the endorsement of Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (Evanston - 9th District) in the race.

“I support Nancy Rotering because she shares our progressive values. She will bring a lifetime of advocacy and a record of producing results to the IL Attorney General’s office. Nancy was the mayor that defeated the NRA and successfully banned assault rifles from her city. She will continue that fight against the NRA and stand up on behalf of working families, immigrants, seniors, the LGBTQ community, and those without a voice,” said Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. “Nancy is the best candidate to beat the Republican nominee, who has been unwilling to speak out against Donald Trump, Washington Republicans, and Bruce Rauner. Nancy isn’t afraid to fight back and make our voices heard.”

“It is an honor to have Congresswoman Schakowsky’s support. We’ve always counted on her to be our champion and she has delivered. As a leader on progressive causes, both locally and nationally, she has ensured that those she supports have what it takes to get elected and fight for what is right,” stated Mayor Nancy Rotering.

As a two-term Mayor, Rotering shook up City Hall with a major reform of city government that resulted in transparency, accessibility, and ethics accountability. She led the charge to pass one of the nation’s only local assault weapons bans and fought the NRA all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The founder of a legal aid clinic, she has ensured access to justice in the areas of immigration, domestic violence, and housing for hundreds of Illinois residents.

Rotering has reported raising about $281K so far.

* From Democratic attorney general candidate Sharon Fairley’s Facebook page

Last night’s momentous victory was very inspiring, but it was also a reminder of a sad fact: our party relies so heavily on Black women for their votes, but very seldom elects them to public office. There have only been three Black women ever elected as state attorney general in our country- including a grand total of zero here in Illinois. We have never had a Black woman elected to any state executive office. We must do more as a party to amplify the voices of the women we so often take for granted.

Fairley has raised about $337K so far.

* Last night, several attorney general candidates attended a candidates forum at NEIU. Maudlyne Ihejirika with the Sun-Times posted video excerpts of some of their closing statements…

* Sharon Fairley (”I became a lawyer to dedicate my life to public service”)

* Pat Quinn (He’s a “people person” who started CUB and had to pick up the pieces after Blagojevich)

* Kwame Raoul (Powerful speech about crime, which ends: “Violence begets violence, we have to invest in our community”)

* Jesse Ruiz (Pro bono legal work and baseball coach for inner city kids, two of whom were shot)

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      

Think before you post

Wednesday, Dec 13, 2017

* Monday

You are an awful human being. And no you don’t get to be my State Rep.

If homeless people are something to make fun of…

Posted by Kyle Hillman on Monday, December 11, 2017

* Tuesday

“It was inappropriate,” says Arthur Noah Siegel.

He is talking about his controversial post on Instagram and Facebook last week. It shows someone’s feet in hole-filled socks resting on an L seat. The post describes the feet as “stinky.”

Siegel, who’s running for Illinois state representative against incumbent Kelly Cassidy in the Democratic primary, says he deleted the post after about an hour.

But by then, screen shots were already being shared on social media by people disturbed that someone running for public office would post such a thing.

He indicates the photo was meant to show the reactions of other riders, even though the image is a close-up of the L rider’s feet. […]

Siegel blames his poor judgment on the stress he’s under from challenging Cassidy’s primary petition signatures — and challenges on his own petitions.

To that, [Rep. Kelly Cassidy] responded: “If this process is too stressful, the job is even more so.”

He falsely claims the pic was supposed to be about rider reactions when it was a closeup of the guy’s feet? Then he blames stress from petition challenges for the post? Hilarious.

Not the greatest scandal in the history of the world, of course. The point here is that this guy’s responses under fire show more about his character than he may realize.

Vote accordingly.

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      

ICPR has some disclosure ideas

Wednesday, Dec 13, 2017

* From the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform

To be a leader in financial disclosure for political candidates, Illinois should require the following information to be disclosed in each Statement of Economic Interest:

    Names of businesses and investments with financial ties to the candidate
    The amount of income a candidate received from reported entities
    A list of the candidate’s professional clients, as allowed by law

None of these reforms are unprecedented. At the federal level, and in ten states, including California and New York, candidates are already required to provide a list of assets, sources of income, and the amount received from each source. Many more states have versions of these requirements, where specifics on sources of income, but not value, are disclosed.

Additionally, the National Conference of State Legislatures reports that 15 states have laws requiring state legislators to disclose the names of individual clients when they receive income from sources beyond their state salaries.

A Chicago Tribune report from December 7th highlighted the importance of transparency in identifying state lawmakers’ potential conflicts of interest. Additionally, the State Journal-Register connected the issue of insufficient disclosure to an overall lack of robust recusal procedures for potential conflicts of interest.

Requiring these additional disclosures from candidates would make Illinois a national leader in financial transparency, for both candidates and elected officials. Additionally, detailed disclosure would become a requirement, rather than an expectation, empowering voters to make informed choices in state elections.


- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      

Rauner does bill-signing event at center which was whacked hard by impasse

Wednesday, Dec 13, 2017

* This bill was sent to the governor on November 9th

I don’t see any of the bill’s sponsors in the photos. Curious.

* Press release from the bill’s chief sponsor

A measure from Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) to reduce opioid abuse and “doctor shopping” was signed into law today.

Senate Bill 772 requires prescribers of controlled substances to check the Prescription Monitoring Program database to see if a patient has been prescribed a controlled substance by another doctor prior to writing an initial prescription. This would make it harder for individuals to obtain prescriptions from multiple doctors, a practice known as doctor shopping.

“As elected officials, we should be doing everything we can to prevent addiction and reduce opioid abuse,” Bush said. “Requiring doctors to check a patient’s prescription history before prescribing opioids is a simple way to ensure doctors aren’t overprescribing and patients aren’t doctor shopping.”

* Anyway, the place that “does God’s work” was seriously damaged by the impasse. From September of 2015

Comprehensive Behavioral Health Center in southern Illinois relies on state money to run some of its addiction programs. But because the state still doesn’t have a budget, the East St. Louis organization hasn’t gotten funding.

So recently the center had to lay off staff and shut down two of its residential programs. About fifty people who had been living at the center and getting addiction treatment had to leave.

You should really listen to the audio portion of that report. Ugh.

…Adding… From the audio…

* This April, 2016 story also quoted Jumper saying “We have no money. I don’t know how we’re going to make payroll”

Amelia Jumper, the executive director of Comprehensive Behavioral Health in East St. Louis, told St. Louis Public Radio she’s not sure how she’s going to make pay this month.

Jumper closed her agency’s inpatient drug treatment center and its halfway house last fall due to lack of funding from the state, but she recently reopened the inpatient center.

“Not because we received any money, but something had to be done,” Jumper said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      

Rauner refuses to answer questions about Murashko’s departure

Wednesday, Dec 13, 2017

* Tribune

On the morning of Aug. 24, Rauner held a rare conference call with staff to explain the departure of his newly installed communications team, saying they were “good people trying to do good work” but ended up not being a “good fit,” according to a source who was on the phone call but was not authorized to speak publicly about it.

During that same call, Rauner said to expect more “rumors” about staff departures but told employees to ignore them, including talk that [chief legal counsel Dennis] Murashko was leaving the administration, the source said. Just hours later, Rauner released a statement saying Murashko was resigning effective at the end of the month “to pursue opportunities in the private sector.”

On Tuesday, Rauner was asked to explain why he told his staff that Murashko would not be leaving, only to announce his departure later the same day. The governor did not directly answer, telling reporters “you guys are trying to spin up something that doesn’t exist.”

* The governor’s office has already released a copy of Murashko’s resignation letter, which was dated August 23rd. The very next day, August 24th, Gov. Rauner told his staffers this

During a morning staff conference call, Rauner sought to dispel controversy over the exodus, according to a source with direct knowledge of the call. He called rumblings of the departures of his chief of staff Kristina Rasmussen and chief legal counsel Dennis Murashko “rumors.” And he confirmed the communications staffers’ exits, saying they were not a “good fit.”

And he pointed the finger at “enemies” — everyone from Democrats, media, bloggers and “people who shouldn’t be our enemies, including people who used to work for this administration.” Rauner, too, vowed to go on the offense against attacks on his administration.

The governor told staffers his team would “fight every rumor and innuendo diligently,” calling them “disgusting,” the source said. The governor said his administration would “stand together” and squash rumors in every possible way and said some were coming because he’s trying to challenge the “status quo.”

* That same day, Rauner told reporters this

“We announced some changes in the communications department, and that’s all the changes there are.”

* And then that very evening, his office sent out this

General Counsel Dennis Murashko will leave the Administration at the end of August to pursue opportunities in the private sector.

The next day, August 25th, Murashko was reportedly escorted out of the building.

* Pritzker campaign…

“The General Counsel to the governor of this state abruptly resigned after producing what should be a standard ethics memo and no one knows why,” said Pritzker campaign communications director Galia Slayen. “Bruce Rauner refuses to tell voters what really happened and it is time for him to come clean and tell us why Dennis Murashko resigned.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      

Why hasn’t this problem been solved?

Wednesday, Dec 13, 2017

* WBEZ takes this chart and fleshes it out with stories about some of the 13 people who died at the Quincy Veterans Home from Legionnaires Disease and the outrage of those who are left behind

* One of the stories

When the state first made the dire situation at Quincy public in 2015, the story quickly got picked up.

Springfield resident Steve French was in his car when he got a phone call from his brother in Waukegan, who had heard a news report that the illness was spreading at the veterans’ home. Just a month earlier, their parents had become residents there.

Dolores French, a native Chicagoan and lifelong Cubs fan who was 79, had only one health malady: deafness. Otherwise, she was in good health and was allowed to move into the veterans’ home with her husband of 57 years, Richard French Sr., because he was a U.S. Army veteran who served during the Korean War.

She was assigned to an independent living unit at the facility, Steve French said, while her husband was placed in another residential building at Quincy because he needed care for his worsening Parkinson’s disease. Typically, French said, his mother would walk to her husband’s room and spend eight hours a day with him.

When the phone call about Legionnaires’ at Quincy arrived, Steve French said he immediately wanted to check on his parents’ well-being and tried calling his mother, who had a device that translates phone calls into text. He got no response. He tried the desk in her building and also got nothing. The next call went to the facility’s administrative offices.

“I said, ‘This is Steve French. I heard the news. I’m just checking on my dad and mom,’” he recalled. “And she just said that they’re OK, that if something happens, we’ll get a call.”

That was Friday, Aug. 28, 2015.

But it wasn’t until the next morning, as French was contemplating making the drive to Quincy from Springfield to check on her, that he was notified by the home that his mother’s neighbors had reported her missing, and staff wanted permission to enter her room, he said.

Within 10 minutes, as the Frenches sat in their basement, another call came from Quincy to report his mother had been found on the floor in her apartment, dead.

As the news began to sink in, yet another call arrived, this time from the Adams County Coroner’s Office. French’s wife, Deann, took the phone.

“He said, ‘We found Mrs. French, and this is going to be difficult for me to tell you, but she has been dead for a significant amount of time,’” Deann French remembered. “So I’m processing that, and I said, ‘Do we know what happened to her? What happened?’ At this point, I’m not thinking Legionnaires’. I just wasn’t. And he said, ‘No, she was found on the floor in front of her recliner, pretty badly decomposed.’”

Within another hour or two, the coroner called back with confirmation that he suspected Legionnaires’, and that state law required an autopsy because an outbreak had been declared at the home. Bewildered, Steve French said he asked that his father not be informed so that he could go tell him face to face the next day.

* Conclusion

“You know what he should do?” Deann French said of Gov. Rauner. “He should go back over there and he should drink some of the water. Or maybe he should take a shower. Or maybe he should eat off of one of those plates coming out of that kitchen. Maybe that would make an impact on him.”

Bottom line, Steve French said, someone has to answer for what happened — and is continuing to happen — at the Quincy veterans’ home.

“People are dying. Something’s killing them. Granted, it’s a water-treatment problem. But it’s killing people,” he said. “Shouldn’t somebody be held accountable?”

Take some time during a break, or your lunch hour or tonight and go read the whole thing.

…Adding… Pritzker campaign…

“Illinois veterans, who bravely served this country overseas are dying in our veterans’ homes and Bruce Rauner is failing to fight for them,” said JB Pritzker. “This is unconscionable negligence that has already taken the lives of 13 of our nation’s heroes. Our veterans should be living in dignity and instead they are losing their lives because of Bruce Rauner’s incompetence and inability to effectively lead our state. My thoughts and prayers are with those who lost their loved ones to this tragedy. You deserved better and our state deserves a real leader.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      

Unclear on the concept

Wednesday, Dec 13, 2017

* From the Illinois Policy Institute’s news service

A Democratic candidate for governor picking up the endorsement of the Illinois’ teachers’ union highlights the importance of the U.S. Supreme Court case Janus v. AFSCME for one state representative.

Democratic candidate for governor J.B. Pritzker said in a Saturday news release, “I’m so proud to receive the endorsement of the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the 100,000 teachers, paraprofessionals, higher education faculty and staff and public employees they represent.”

State Rep. Grant Wehrli, R-Naperville, said it’s naive to think all 100,000 members support Pritzker.

“I’m sure there are some that support other Democratic candidates and maybe even a few that support Gov. [Bruce] Rauner,” Wehrli said.

“[The endorsement] infers the entire union membership is behind [Pritzker],” Wehrli said. “It silences their own members’ voices that may have a different political viewpoint.”

Wehrli said IFT’s endorsement of Pritzker disregards those forced into the union who don’t agree with the endorsement.

“They somehow defer their rights to free speech to the union bosses who can endorse whomever they want and use their membership as a show of force even if some members don’t agree with that union endorsement,” Wehrli said.

So, to be legit, every group that endorses candidates has to do so unanimously? Odd.

Also, if a worker covered under a union contract doesn’t agree with an endorsement, that person is under zero obligation to vote for the candidate. The person is also free to speak out against that candidate. And none of that person’s fair share fees are used on the campaign side.

* From the IFT’s Aviva Bowen…

“The IPI propaganda arm ‘reporting’ about the IPI litigation arm’s attack on working families is rich. Rauner would make Steve Bannon proud.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   39 Comments      

Apples and oranges?

Wednesday, Dec 13, 2017

* From yesterday…

* Here’s the story

“He rips toilets out a mansion he buys, and he saves himself $230,000, thanks to Berrios,” Rauner said. “They’re totally in bed with each other and it’s wrong.”

But, has Rauner appealed his taxes, as well?

“We have not!” the governor said.

CBS 2 Political Reporter Derrick Blakley says Rauner did not, but the condo association for his Lakefront high-rise certainly did. Thus, Rauner benefited from the same system he has been known to call “corrupt,” by receiving hefty assessment reductions on his downtown penthouse.

    In 2008, his assessment of $244,833 was cut by $94,745; 38 percent
    In 2012, his assessment of $300,791 was cut by $22,776; 7.5 percent
    In 2015, his assessment of $350,409 was cut by $65,854; an almost 19 percent reduction

Rauner’s reductions didn’t come from Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios; instead, they came from the Cook County Board of Review. […]

Often, taxes can increase even though as assessment is reduced. Therefore, it is hard to determine whether Rauner’s taxes actually went down. The point being — some of the same candidates who are criticizing the property tax system, also took advantage of it when they had the opportunity.


…Adding… From the video…

Irika: “So the Governor, could he have chosen to opt-out of the property tax break for that condo?”

Derrick: “According to the Board of Review, he did have that ability to opt out of the appeal, but apparently chose not to do that.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   53 Comments      

Gutierrez endorses “good friend and brother” Berrios

Wednesday, Dec 13, 2017

* What a weird year…

Today, 4th Congressional District Congressman Luis Gutierrez announced his endorsement of Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios re-election bid.

“I’m proud to call Joe Berrios a good friend and brother. I have known him to be an honest public servant, who has dedicated his career to fighting for the interests of working families. He continues to work to fix the broken system he inherited by making it more equitable and fair for Cook County residents and seniors,” said Congressman Gutierrez.

“Like Bruce Rauner, Joe’s opponent Fritz Kaegi is a Wall Street Republican who has dedicated his career to profiting off the backs of working families. As an immigrant rights advocate, I find his firm’s association with the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) extremely troubling. CCA is a private prison operator that lobbied for legislation increasing incarcerations in the U.S. that unfairly target African Americans, Latinos, and undocumented immigrants. They have been at the forefront drafting anti-immigrant legislation such as, Arizona’s racial profiling law that has incarcerated many of our African American and Latino sisters and brothers. Fritz cannot be trusted to advocate for our families.”

“I’m very proud and honored to receive my good friend Congressman Gutierrez’s endorsement, who has been a champion for Latinos and immigrants. Serving as Cook County Assessor has been one of the greatest honors in my career. Owning a home in Humboldt Park was my parent’s dream and I want to make sure that I help every Cook County resident achieve that dream. I look forward to continuing to represent Cook County’s working families to make sure that our property tax appeal system is equitable and transparent for all homeowners,” said Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios.

Assessor Berrios has taken charge and focused on improving the assessment system he inherited by making it fair and equitable for every Cook County resident. He has increased the number of outreach events held across the county, made appeals easier, and successfully pushed for an increase in the homeowners and senior exemptions which will put more money back in the hands of homeowners statewide. The Civic Consulting Alliance is currently reviewing the County’s property assessment system, and Assessor Berrios plans to implement whatever changes and improvements are recommended to make the system even better.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      

Report: Ethics complaint filed against Murashko, Deputy Governor Childress probed

Wednesday, Dec 13, 2017

* Mark Maxwell at WCIA

Governor Rauner swatted down questions on Tuesday about the abrupt and unceremonious exit of his longtime legal adviser Dennis Murashko.

Security guards led Murashko out of the James R. Thompson Center just days after he penned a now-leaked memo which contained warnings against mixing politics and official state business. [This article has been updated to clarify that sources who witnessed Murashko’s exit from the Thompson Center initially described it as a security guard escort, but pressed for specifics, later recanted and acknowledged they could have been administration officials.] […]

At least one complaint was filed against Murashko with the Office of the Executive Inspector General, according to sources in the Governor’s office who saw the complaint. However, there is no available evidence to suggest that complaint ever triggered an official investigation. OEIG General Counsel Daniel Hurtado says thousands of complaints are filed with that office every year, but very few of them ever become full blown investigations. As a rule, the OEIG does not disclose any information about ongoing investigations or unresolved complaints. […]

Two sources tell WCIA they shared concerns about Murashko’s behavior in office with senior members of the administration before his departure, but on Tuesday, Rauner denied having any knowledge of personal ethical breaches involving Murashko.

“Not that I know of,” he said, “And you’re asking all kinds of questions based on rumor. Let me be clear. There is a lot of baloney rumors going around. You [reporters] are helping perpetuate them, and that’s wrong. You guys should not do that,” he scolded.

The anonymous complaint to the OEIG that I’ve seen claims Murashko engaged in “retaliation, intimidation, abuse of power and inappropriate office behavior.” As Maxwell notes, there’s no evidence yet that the complaint triggered an actual investigation.

I showed the anonymous complaint to Murashko the other day and he said: “The claims are ridiculous, false, and defamatory. They do not merit a further response. It’s sad that certain individuals turn political agendas into vicious personal attacks to distract from their own shortcomings. This is what discourages good people from serving in state government.”

Be that as it may, the anonymous complaint lists “Governor Bruce Rauner” on its “cc” list. But, of course, that’s not solid proof that the governor actually received it, or saw it or was told about it.

* Meanwhile, the governor confirmed that the Murashko memo I published last week was authentic. I already knew that, but here you go

Before he stepped down, Murashko penned an internal memo that laid out a series of guidelines about how the governor’s office should separate government work from work being done by Rauner’s campaign team.

On Tuesday, Rauner said that memo was “created at my urging,” calling it a matter of “good management.”

“In my administration, we have the highest expectation, the highest ethical standards. We have zero tolerance for bad behavior, zero tolerance for unethical behavior,” Rauner said.

* Back to Maxwell

WCIA has separately learned Deputy Governor Trey Childress was the subject of an investigation filed within the last six months, according to state employees who were called in for interviews with the OEIG. The findings and status of that investigation remain unknown, although at least one witness testified in his defense.

The problem with that investigation, I’m told, is that two people allegedly saw the same thing and then described it very differently to the investigators.

Keep in mind that an investigation doesn’t automatically make somebody guilty.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      

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