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Lawmakers eviscerate CPS for sexual abuse of students at hands of teachers, staff

Wednesday, Jun 20, 2018

By Hannah Meisel

* The Senate Education committee just wrapped up a marathon hearing on the sexual abuse students suffered from faculty and staff at dozens of schools for years. The hearing was called in response to a bombshell Tribune investigation published earlier this month that found hundreds of incidents, either kept under wraps or quietly dealt with.

Six+ hours of testimony yielded both gut-wrenching accounts from former students and angry exchanges between lawmakers and school officials.

The Tribune’s full coverage is here. An excerpt…

Speaking to an audience of at least 20 legislators and dozens of observers, former Walter Payton College Prep student Morgan Aranda said she lost her “sense of wonder and excitement” about school after she reported being groped and kissed at age 14 by one of her teachers. School and district officials repeatedly questioned her about the alleged abuse.

“I’m here to shed light on the re-traumatizing, intimidating interrogations, the questions of my dignity, of my intent, of my character” after reporting abuse, Aranda said, pausing at times to wipe tears away. Payton administrators and Chicago Public Schools investigators, she said, subjected her to a humiliating investigation that undermined her story.

“I was pulled from class to sit alone in a room with an old man who asked not how I felt or what they could do to make me feel safe in my school again — but what I was wearing when I had been assaulted,” said Aranda, now 22. “Do you know what it’s like to be made to feel like a criminal, when you are in fact the victim?”

Tamara Reed, who was an eighth-grader at Black Magnet Elementary when a substitute teacher sent her sexually explicit texts and solicited sex from her, spoke about the way school administrators suggested she was at fault for the abuse and the lasting pain the experience has caused.

“I will never be the same again because of what has been done to me. I struggle to connect with people and to trust them. I constantly wonder if the people around me mean well or mean me harm,” said Reed, also faltering at times as she became emotional.

* Moments from Twitter…

- Posted by Hannah Meisel   10 Comments      

Black Caucus strikes back at Rauner for yesterday’s claims on WVON

Wednesday, Jun 20, 2018

By Hannah Meisel

* It took a while (large file) to get the video from today’s Black Caucus presser responding to Gov. Rauner’s claims yesterday on WVON that he has done more for the African American community in Illinois than any other governor. Here are a couple comments. The presser videos are linked here and here.

Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields) pointed out the ripple effects that cuts to the Childcare Assistance Program had on economic opportunities for parents, and the community as a whole.

“So whenever we see working class people across the city and across the state, many of them working class folks that are inclusive of who we represent, losing their access to services, losing their access to contracting opportunities, losing their access to higher education, and then hear with a straight face and a little laugh that, ‘I’ve been better than anybody else in the history of the state’ — I said at first that I didn’t have words for that. Unfortunately, we do have words for that because the Black Caucus has been working diligently.”

Rep. Camille Lilly (D-Chicago) disputed Rauner’s claims, citing the closures of health facilities, including mental and behavioral health centers that treat addiction.

“It is not correct that he has done things, particularly in the district that I represent, to help the African American community. He has hurt it. When you remove resources that address the healthcare needs, you have hurt their opportunity to be viable citizens here in the state.”

* Gov. Rauner’s state account this afternoon did an eight-part tweet thread this afternoon under the hashtag #checktherecord, listing progress his administration made for African Americans.

* In response, Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago) and Rep. Chris Welch (D-Chicago) had their own Twitter threads.

- Posted by Hannah Meisel   15 Comments      

Governor appoints new Human Rights Commission exec

Wednesday, Jun 20, 2018

Posted by Barton Lorimor

* From a press release…

In addition to the executive order, Gov. Rauner has appointed Philip Dalmage as the new Executive Director of the Illinois Human Rights Commission to oversee the commission’s coordination efforts.

The newly appointed executive director is a former Chief Administrative Law Judge at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (IDCFS), and served as the Director of the Business Enterprise Program at the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS). Most recently, Dalmage worked as a practicing attorney dealing with civil and family cases, specifically working with IDCFS abuse and neglect cases. He holds a B.A. from Marquette University and a J.D. from the John Marshall Law School.

“It is an incredible honor to be appointed Executive Director of the Illinois Human Rights Commission,” Dalmage said. “I am aware of the long and storied history of the Illinois Human Rights Act in Illinois and look forward to using this role to adjudicate civil rights violations in as fair, just, and expeditious a manner as possible. I thank Governor Rauner for giving me this great opportunity.”

The appointment was announced in conjunction with an executive order issued today that “mandates coordination between the Bureau of Administrative Hearings, IHRC, and IDHR to eliminate backlog and improve due process.” The full text is here.

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   4 Comments      

*** UPDATED 1 *** Did he actually say anything?

Wednesday, Jun 20, 2018

Posted by Barton Lorimor

* What can actually be extracted from Gov. Rauner’s comments on President Trump’s zero-tolerance policy?

As Hannah posted yesterday afternoon, here is the Governor’s response to a question about whether he will rescind his offer to send National Guard troops to the border if asked to do so by the President…

“I’m not giving that any thought whatsoever,” Rauner said.

Because you made your decision and you are satisfied with what you said in April? Because there are more significant issues to think about than what has become an international black mark for our country?

I don’t know what this means.


“We’ve been in communication with the White House. We’ve been in communication with members of Congress,” Rauner said at an event announcing a university partnership and a $500 million corporate sponsor for the proposed Discovery Partners Institute in the South Loop.

Rauner, too, reiterated that he believes the zero-tolerance immigration policy is “bad policy,” “wrong,” “heartbreaking” and “not the moral thing to do.”

He did not specify who is to blame for the policy, or name President Donald Trump or any congressional leaders in his answers to questions.

Asked about the communications with the federal government — whom Rauner spoke with and what he requested — the governor’s office released a statement saying there is “constant communication with our congressional delegation and the White House.”

“By maintaining these relationships we are able to discuss important issues, like ending this bad policy,” Rauner spokeswoman Rachel Bold said in a statement.

If it’s “bad policy” and “not the moral thing to do,” why has he not given any thought to rescinding his National Guard offer?

Look at the language in Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s announcement that he will recall his state’s National Guard…

He does not name Trump other than to say he should be a part of the solution, he does not assign blame to Democrats, and yet, although he does not specify what the solution is, he backs up his condemnation with action instead of letting us imagine what phrases like “in constant communication with the White House” means.

By the way, for those keeping score, Hogan is a Republican in a traditionally Democratic state facing re-election. His announcement came on the heels of one from Charlie Baker, also a Republican governor in a state where Democrats out-number Republicans 2:1.

* What is happening at the border is not going away, and it is not confined to whatever ends up happening with the National Guard. The kids we see being mocked as they cry for Mommy and Daddy lying on floor mats under foil blankets are not staying behind the fences in a warehouse in the middle of the desert. How will the Governor react when these kids make it to Illinois? Very soon, this will be about how we as a society provide for these kids that we put in a situation where they are reliant on us for the most basic human necessities like food, shelter, health care, and education.

I spoke with officials in Michigan earlier this morning who are preparing for their arrival as the Federal government starts contracting with foster care groups there…

“While the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, along with people all over the nation, decry the forced separation of children from their parents taking place on our southern border, the policy is a federal issue and beyond the scope of this department’s responsibilities under law. But for those children who have been separated from their parents and brought to Michigan, the Department of Civil Rights has a duty to make sure their civil rights are protected.”

“This week, I have been in touch with various agencies and organizations working with these vulnerable children. We have received reports and are very concerned that the children arriving here are much younger than those who have been transported here in the past. Some of the children are infants as young as three months of age and are completely unable to advocate for themselves. While we commend the work of resettlement agencies in Michigan attempting to serve these children with dignity and compassion, nothing can replace the love, sense of security and care of a parent.”

“I take very seriously our responsibility under state law to see to it that the civil rights of every person in this state, especially these vulnerable children in crisis, are protected. We will continue to monitor this situation closely to ensure the rights of these children are protected to the fullest extent.”

I asked the Governor’s Office and a few of the executive agencies if they know if any of the children directly affected by this zero-tolerance policy are already in Illinois, what programs and services they might be able to partake in and if they are confident they can provide those services. No response as of yet.

* Even if you were to look at this from a purely public relations standpoint, holding this course allowsmore time for criticism of the chief executive…

Today, Congressman Krishnamoorthi released the following statement urging Governor Rauner to refuse to deploy the Illinois National Guard to the US Border:

“The policies and procedures that the Trump Administration have taken with regards to separating children from their families when entering this country are immoral and inhumane. This is a moment for every public official to decide if they will be complicit in their detention of children for the sole purposes of extracting pain on their parents. So far, the Governors of Maryland, Massachusetts, and other states have taken the moral stance that they will not allow their National Guard troops to participate in any activities on the border until the situation changes. Today I am formally calling on Governor Rauner not to deploy any Illinois National Guard troops to the southern border until the Administration changes its policy of child detention and family separation.”

As Pope Francis observed when he weighed in on border security, “It’s not easy, but populism is not the solution.”

*** 2:22 p.m. - ***Like I said, this is not going away (emphasis added)…

U.S. President Donald Trump said he would sign an executive order on immigration on Wednesday to end the immediate separation of immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border, which has sparked outrage in the United States and abroad.

An administration official said Trump would sign an order that would require immigrant families to be detained together if they are caught crossing the border illegally. Trump previously had insisted his hands were tied on the separation policy.

The order also would move parents with children to the front of the line for immigration proceedings but would not end a “zero tolerance” policy that urges criminal prosecution of immigrants crossing the border illegally, the official said.

* Related…

* What’s Fueling Trump’s Rise in the Polls

* DGA: Why Won’t Rauner Say Where He Stands on Trump’s Immigration Policies?

* Action 2: Tell Rauner to Refuse to Send the National Guard to the Border

* Attorney General Madigan reacts to Federal administration’s inhumane immigration policies

* Raoul speaks out on Trump border separation policy

* American Airlines tells feds not to use its planes to carry migrant children separated at border

* What We Know: Family Separation And ‘Zero Tolerance’ At The Border

* Governors Refuse to Send National Guard to Border, Citing Child Separation Practice

* For Migrant Families in Mexico, Threat of Separation Puts Plans in Doubt: And an increasing number, migrants’ advocates say, will heed the siren call of human smugglers, who will try to use the separation policy to sell their services, arguing that they are the migrants’ best hope for getting across the border and holding onto their children. The smugglers will even be able to increase their prices for the work as a result of the Trump administration’s policy, advocates predict. “Any restrictive measure in terms of migration and refuge is going to favor the business of the transnational criminal networks,” said Ramón Márquez, director of La 72, a migrant shelter in Tenosique, Mexico.

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   41 Comments      

Sanguinetti says she’s not ruling out run for governor

Wednesday, Jun 20, 2018

By Hannah Meisel

Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti appeared on WOC AM Quad Cities this morning, as she’s in the area promoting work done by the Illinois Opioid Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force. Late in the interview, the host asked Sanguinetti whether she’d be at the top of the ticket in 2022.

Host: Once Rauner’s done being governor, when are you going to put your hat in the ring, how does that work?

Sanguinetti: Well, we’ve term limited ourselves. So I won’t be running for Lt. Gov. again.

Host: I think you know what question I’m asking, Lt. Gov. Are you going to be the governor after Bruce Rauner’s done?

Sanguinetti: Well I don’t know, but the fact is if I want to —

Host: Can I just say this? If not you then who? ¿Si no tú, entonces quién? [note: this is a hearkening back from an earlier part of the interview in which Sanguinetti says her mother used to tell her in Spanish, “if not you, then who?”]

Sanguinetti: But I’m not ruling it out. And you know what, I’ve been working with Bruce Rauner for the last four years and when we win this election, we’ll be together for another four years. So I should decide that I want to be governor, nothing should preclude me from that.

- Posted by Hannah Meisel   39 Comments      

With $500 million in state support, UI-led research institute officially underway in Chicago

Wednesday, Jun 20, 2018

By Hannah Meisel

* Lost yesterday in a flurry of other news (about whether Gov. Rauner would rescind his offer to send Illinois National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border and his claim that he’d done more for African Americans than any other governor) was a pretty major announcement involving ~1.3 percent of the state’s overall FY19 budget (yes, did the math).

The Discovery Partners Institute is getting off the ground with $500 million in state support and a $6 million pledge from the University of Illinois over four years. DPI is imagined to be an innovation hub for research and tech, which would help Illinois compete with other hot tech areas like Silicon Valley.

Yesterday’s event was the announcement of the site, “in a large swath of undeveloped land just south of Roosevelt Road near downtown Chicago,” according to the News-Gazette, and an announcement that a DPI office has opened and has planned its first classes for the fall.

More info from the governor’s office…

The anchor project in the plan is the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI), an innovation center led by the U of I System intended to be located within The 78, Related Midwest’s 62-acre planned development in downtown Chicago. Bordered by the South Loop, Chinatown, Bronzeville and Pilsen, DPI will be the centerpiece of the Illinois Innovation Network (IIN), a system of research centers across the state tailored to meet the needs of individual regions and lift their economies.

* The governor’s official account was also tweeting artist renderings of the project yesterday…

* Rauner and Mayor Rahm Emanuel were on hand at the event, even complimenting each other on making the DPI a reality. Rauner has long pushed for the project, even before running for office. Also present: Senate President John Cullerton and Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady.

* From a Tribune article about the project in October…

[UI President Timothy] Killeen said the university wants to recruit 90 new faculty members and up to 1,800 students to the center, whose total cost has not been finalized but potentially would attract hundreds of millions in investment. No opening date has been set, but a location has emerged in the South Loop on highly coveted land to be donated by the development company Related Midwest.

“It’s an attempt to really take advantage of the assets that the state and the city have to accelerate economic development and to provide opportunities for our students to stay in the state and for innovations to flow into our economy,” Killeen said.

- Posted by Hannah Meisel   27 Comments      


Wednesday, Jun 20, 2018

Posted by Barton Lorimor

* I’m personally running behind schedule after my browser closed all of my new post tabs a few hours after I started working on them. Fortunately, the kids were not present when that went down. Keep checking back with us throughout the day, and follow along

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   3 Comments      

*** UPDATED x5 Bourne, ILGOP responds, Clark was on Rauner payroll in ‘14, Manar, Clark respond *** 95th District Dem candidate touts embellished record as volunteer firefighter

Wednesday, Jun 20, 2018

By Hannah Meisel

* WCIA’s Mark Maxwell filed an interesting story last night, in which he caught Democratic state rep candidate Dillon Clark of Litchfield embellishing his record as a volunteer firefighter. Clark, 26, is challenging Avery Bourne (R-Raymond), also 26.

The story focuses on Clark’s campaign ad, which I cannot find (his other two campaign ads on his website are “unlisted,” an interesting YouTube feature, by the way) *update* click here for the video hosted on Facebook — but footage of the ad in Maxwell’s story shows repeated shots of the Litchfield Fire Department interposed with shots of Clark standing both next to a fire truck and in the driver’s seat.

“As a volunteer fireman, I watched as the budget crisis tore apart our small towns,” Clark says in a narrated video, which shows him climbing into a Litchfield Fire Department Truck, wearing the Chief’s hat, and sitting in the driver’s seat of the fire engine. 

However, Clark never served as a volunteer firefighter for Litchfield, or any other fire department in Illinois. 

When asked about his campaign costume, Clark confessed that while he wore the chief’s helmet, “I am not a fire chief. The chief let me wear his helmet on that day. But I was a volunteer fire man back in the day and I really enjoyed that. It taught me a lot.”

Clark stated that his stint as a volunteer fireman in Bolivar, Missouri, lasted “one point two years.” Asked to clarify what exactly that meant, he repeated, “One point two years,” which apparently was intended to mean something between 14 and 15 months. 

However, the fire chief at the Bolivar Department disputed Clark’s claim, writing in an email that their records show Clark was only on the volunteer roster for seven weeks in the fall of 2010, “during which time he attended one training event and responded to one emergency incident.”

* Clark did not like the WCIA story, and alleged on Twitter overnight that it wasn’t factual.

I can’t see the Facebook statement, but here’s a screen grab:

* Meanwhile… (*update* Clark unblocked Maxwell in late morning)

* Another tidbit from Maxwell’s story that didn’t make it to air…

Reporter: Would you vote for Speaker Madigan to retain his title as House Speaker?

Clark: I will say this: I do not care who is the head of Chicago, who is in Chicago, who is the head of Springfield or anything like that.
Reporter: But you’re running to be a House Democrat.

Clark: Yes.

Reporter: As a House Democrat, you get a vote. Would you vote for or against Speaker Madigan to remain Speaker?
Clark: Again, I just want to represent my district. I am solely going to represent my district. I don’t care who’s in charge.

Reporter: But why dodge that question?

Clark: Again, I just want to represent my district.

*** UPDATE 1 ***

* Statement from Avery Bourne…

“Our volunteer firefighters sacrifice so much to serve our communities. It is shameful for my opponent to lie about his experience as a volunteer firefighter for political gain. He should take down the false campaign ad, give us the whole truth, and apologize to our first responders and their families.”

*** UPDATE 2 ***

* Statement from ILGOP Executive Director Andrew Collins…

“Dillon Clark will need to attend more than one training to put this big fire out. Clark shamefully exaggerated his time served as a volunteer firefighter for political gain, doubled down on his false claims, and then blocked a reporter on Twitter who called him out for it. To make matters worse, Clark disagreed with a Missouri fire chief’s assessment of his time served in college. What else is Dillon Clark not telling us?”

*** UPDATE 3 ***

* Earlier this morning I called Clark to ask where he got the “150+ present votes” number he claims about Bourne in his statement. Here’s what he told me late morning:

Our team gathered this information from by looking through Bourne’s Rauner inspired tenure.

* Also, looks like Clark unblocked Maxwell on Twitter, but also unearthed the fact that Clark was on the Rauner campaign payroll in 2014.

Mark was kind enough to point me toward the Board of Elections website, which indicates Dillon was paid a total of $5,833.33 for “grassroots consulting” and “field consulting” for Citizens for Rauner Inc. between July and November of 2014.

A 2014 campaign source told me that both Clark and Bourne were paid walkers for Rauner.

*** UPDATE 4 ***

* Sen. Andy Manar, who is supporting Clark and even has a campaign event scheduled with him (and Betsy Londrigan) for Monday, told me today that Clark is “one of the hardest working candidates I’ve ever seen.”

“He won incredibly challenging county board race in 2016 in Montgomery County because of hard work and connecting with voters,” Manar said. “[The ad] maybe perhaps insinuated something that wasn’t the case but the fact is he was a volunteer firefighter, and because he lives in a small community he has seen the devastation of Rauner’s cuts. He’s doing one heck of a job knocking on doors. If he were to ask me for advice, I would encourage him to continue to do that.”

*** UPDATE 5 ***

* Clark provided this statement mid-afternoon, and also called me to confirm that yes, he had worked for the Rauner campaign, but had quit in September of 2014 due to Rauner’s position on public employee unions…

As I was just getting into politics, a local state representative I was interning for encouraged me to join the Rauner campaign. He said it would provide me with solid work experience and be a great way to figure out whether I wanted to keep working in politics. I worked on his campaign through September, when I finally decided he wasn’t someone I could continue to support. We disagreed on a lot, but it was his attacks on union workers that drove me to leave his campaign and his new brand of Illinois Republican Party. Families like my granddad’s depended on hard work and a union wage to get by, and here, in one of the most union-member-filled districts in Illinois, Bruce Rauner and Avery Bourne’s anti-union agenda has been awful on our district.

In response I joined the Democratic party and worked hard every day, knocking door after door to defeat the Republican Vice Chairman of the Montgomery County Board.

Today, I’m running just as hard to be State Representative in the 95th, because representing people here needs to be about making sure hard workers have jobs and the money to provide for their families, not about which Chicago millionaire is backing you.

- Posted by Hannah Meisel   97 Comments      

* Reader comments closed for the weekend
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