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The next step after Janus

Monday, Sep 24, 2018

* Bloomberg

Within hours after the high court’s Republican majority applied Janus’s argument to all government workers, a conservative advocacy group called the Buckeye Institute sued on behalf of an Ohio teacher named Jade Thompson. Not a union member, Thompson argued she should have the right to refuse union representation entirely. […]

The lawsuit filed by Thompson (the wife of a Republican state legislator) in Columbus, Ohio, was followed by matching litigation in Alaska, California, Minnesota, Maine and Maryland. In her complaint, Thompson argued that designating a union as the representative of workers who haven’t chosen to be union members violates their right to free speech and association under the First Amendment. If the courts agree, exclusive representation could eventually be replaced with a system where a union can only negotiate on behalf of workers who affirmatively decide to join it. Co-workers doing the same jobs could form competing groups to negotiate separate deals with the same boss, or hammer out their own individual contracts.

Union leaders warn that’s a recipe for favoritism, where employers will seek to divide and conquer employees. If groups of workers are subject to separate contracts, they could be coerced into dumping whichever union their employer didn’t like, unions say. Letting management negotiate separate deals would foster a “Lord of the Flies/Game of Thrones kind of environment,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers. “And that is what the right wing wants.”

Some conservatives label their effort as a boon to labor, one that will help them adapt to a post-Janus world. They contend unions should welcome policies that would release them from providing now-free services to people who refuse to join. Ending exclusive representation “gives unions the ability to say ‘goodbye’ to people not paying them, and public employees the chance to say ‘no thanks’ to unwanted representation,” said Vincent Vernuccio, a senior fellow at the Michigan-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a conservative advocacy group.

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      


Question of the day

Monday, Sep 24, 2018

* Your question(s)?…



- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      


Did the Van Dyke trial judge make a mistake?

Monday, Sep 24, 2018

* From the Jason Van Dyke trial…

* The Illinois Supreme Court ruling in People v. Lynch is being used to bring Laquan McDonald’s past into the Van Dyke trial. An excerpt

We hold that when the theory of self-defense is raised, the victim’s aggressive and violent character is relevant to show who was the aggressor, and the defendant may show it by appropriate evidence, regardless of when he learned of it.

* Zorn

What we do have is dash-cam video that leaves no doubt that Van Dyke was advancing on McDonald with his gun drawn as McDonald angled away from him — images that turned this case from a routine police shooting to an international sensation.

“I don’t see how there can be an argument that McDonald was the aggressor, which is the threshold claim for allowing the introduction of Lynch material,” said Jeffrey Urdangen, director of the Bluhm Legal Clinic’s Center for Criminal Defense at the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. “There’s no interpretation of the known facts in which you can argue that there’s a dispute.”

“The video blows out of the water any contention that McDonald was coming at Van Dyke,” said Chicago-Kent College of Law professor Richard Kling, a former public defender. “And when you plead self-defense, you can’t be the one who started the fight.”

McDonald’s troubled and troubling past is irrelevant to the question of whether Van Dyke was justified in shooting him down like a dog.

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      


Does the governor realize he’s been in office almost four years?

Monday, Sep 24, 2018

* From the Rauner campaign

This morning, Governor Rauner spoke to employees at Piasa Motor Fuels in Hartford. He outlined his vision for the future of Illinois and why he is the right choice in November.

Take a look at some of Governor Rauner’s remarks:

    “Every challenge we face can be overcome if our small businesses are growing and thriving and hiring more and being successful. We can overcome every challenge by helping small business become bigger business. That’s what I’m all about. I was never in public service. I helped companies just like Piasa start to grow. I was in the investment business for 32 years and I helped hundreds of companies like Piasa grow. That’s what I’m devoted to.”

He did indeed help hundreds of companies grow while he was in the private sector. I’m infinitely more interested now in what he’s done while holding public office.

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


Follow the Lincoln hat money

Monday, Sep 24, 2018

* The New York Times takes a look at the alleged cover-up by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation over the provenance of what it claimed was a hat once owned by the former president

In 2015, the foundation took further steps to gain evidence that Lincoln owned the hat, said Nick Kalm, a vice chairman of the foundation’s board of directors. It arranged for the F.B.I. to take DNA samples from the hat, one of three of Lincoln’s believed to have survived, to see if it matched. […]

[Alan Lowe, the executive director of the museum] said he had no knowledge of this analysis until the chief executive of the foundation, Carla Knorowski, told him about it in January, when the nonprofit was seeking state funding to alleviate its debt. […]

Mr. Kalm disputed that the foundation had been secretive about the reports and said Mr. Lowe and previous leaders were kept informed. […]

“Did we keep it from the public? Sure,” he said. “But this isn’t a public issue.”

The private foundation, Mr. Kalm said, had no “duty to disclose.” He said if the reports had offered conclusive evidence one way or another, the foundation would have communicated that to the public.

It’s a “public issue” because the foundation’s hat was being displayed to the public as a bona fide item by a publicly funded museum. And it’s a “public issue” because they’re now asking the public for a bailout.

But they had no “duty to disclose.” Sheesh.

* Here’s something that hasn’t been played up nearly enough

In the world of Lincolniana, it’s hard to fathom a more valuable artifact than Lincoln’s stovepipe hat. In 2007, an appraiser valued the hat now in Springfield at $6.5 million and used adjectives like “transcendent” to describe its apparent majesty.

It once belonged to Louise Taper, a wealthy West Coast collector who sat on the Lincoln foundation board when the purchase occurred but is no longer a member. […]

Taper purchased the hat from that previous owner for an undisclosed price in 1990.

In 1988, [former state historian Thomas Schwartz] valued the hat at $15,000, a far cry from its $6.5 million appraisal in 2007, Lowe told WBEZ. […]

In 2007, prior to the foundation’s purchase of the hat and other artifacts from Taper, an appraiser acknowledged he did not investigate the provenance of the hat. Instead, he based his evaluation on “prior in-depth research” by the museum.

In their 2013 report, Rubenstein and Lewis said they couldn’t find any evidence of that research.

So, Louise Taper buys the hat two years after a former state historian appraised it at $15,000. The foundation then buys the hat from Ms. Taper 17 years later for $6.5 million, while Taper sits on the foundation’s board. And the foundation’s purchase was based on research that can’t now be found.

How convenient.

* Press release…

The Illinois House Committee on Tourism will hold a hearing at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, October 12 at the Michael A. Bilandic Building to review allegations of financial mismanagement on the part of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation (ALPLF), the nonprofit entity tasked with raising money for the taxpayer-supported Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, State Representative Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, announced today.

Ives made the announcement after speaking with Representative Ann Williams, D-Chicago, Chairperson of the Tourism Committee. The Committee will also schedule a follow-up hearing in Springfield during the Fall Veto Session of the General Assembly in November.

Recent media reports have highlighted the Foundation’s massive debt and controversy surrounding the authenticity of a stovepipe hat purported to have belonged to Lincoln, which is part of the collection at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield.

They ought to seek subpoena power.

…Adding… From Rep. Ann Williams…

Hey Rich, the date/time for the hearing was posted today before we had the opportunity to firm up the date, details and witnesses. I am working closely with Rep. Barbara Wheeler (she’s minority spokesperson) for the committee and we decided it’s best to have the initial hearing in Springfield, to better accommodate the stakeholders and maximize attendance and participation in the hearing. I’ll keep you posted - in the meantime we continue to gather information and do our due diligence in preparation for the hearings.

So, the Chicago hearing is off.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Rauner says nepotism EO will help stop outmigration

Monday, Sep 24, 2018

* Tribune

Rauner signed an executive order on Friday banning nepotism in state government hiring and blamed mistrust by residents as a reason for people moving out of Illinois.

As a rationale for Rauner’s action, the executive order said “with the problem of outmigration growing in Illinois, it is imperative to strengthen the ethical practices of state government to ensure residents of Illinois trust that the state is promoting their interests.”

“Public trust historically has been diminished by a belief that the work of state government is done by the backroom dealings of a few focused on personal gain, while the people of Illinois are left wondering who has their interest in mind,” the order said.

Rauner has frequently used the word “corrupt” to attack his political opponents, namely Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.

The EO is here.

Outmigration is a real problem. Everybody watching last night’s football game in Arizona got a depressing lesson in outmigration when the cameras continually focused on the huge number of Bears fans in the stands. I kinda doubt that most of those folks flew out for the game.

Rauner connecting his EO to the problem is a bit odd, but not totally unjustifiable. More reforms are clearly needed and Rauner’s talked about nepotism and outmigration for years. I guess my only question is: “Why did this take so long?” At first I thought he might be trying to get in front of a weekend story, but nothing broke. Maybe I’m just too cynical these days.

* Speaking of executive orders

Gov. Bruce Rauner has issued executive orders eliminating 53 boards and commissions his administration said serve no public purpose and have been inactive for years, some for as long as two full decades. […]

One of the organizations that Rauner eliminated — the State Government Accountability Council — was formed in 1999 and there isn’t any recorded activity since that time. Another, the Illinois Board of Athletic Trainers, last met a decade ago in 2008.

The EO is here. Go to page 7 for this next part.

* From a subscriber…

The EO listed the Commission on Police Professionalism as a defunct board citing an internal statutory repeal date in 50 ILCS 725/8.

However, the GA passed this year and the governor signed SB3263, which extended the deadline for the commission to issue it’s report and transferred staff responsibility for the commission from the Law Enforcement Training Standards Board to the State Police.

My understanding is that the bill was introduced because LETSB had never done any work to convene the commission so it could begin it’s work.

So if my reading is right, the governor has abolished the commission before it has met and just a few weeks after extending it’s deadline. Kinda goofy.

The bill is here. I asked the governor’s office for a response hours ago and never heard back.

…,Adding… I was just shown evidence that my e-mail inquiry was sent to spam. They’re checking on it now.

*** UPDATE *** From the governor’s office…

Your subscriber is flat out wrong.

The commission that SB3263 refers to is not one of the 53 boards or commissions that we abolished. Our executive orders also clarified that 44 boards and commissions no longer have legal authority to function, and one of those 44 was an old version of the commission.

The old version of the commission had statutory authority from 50 ILCS 725/8, which we referred to in Exhibit B of EO 2018-11. That section of the statute had a sunset date of April 1, 2016. When that date came and went, the previous version of the commission became defunct.

More than a year later, Public Act 100-319 (eff. 8-24-17) created a new version of the commission in a different section of the statute, 50 ILCS 725/7.5. The new commission has slightly different membership and slightly broader functions, compared to the old commission. The new statute added the Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, as a member, and adds “review [of] officer-involved shooting investigation policies, review policies and practices concerning the use of force and misconduct by law enforcement officers” to the functions.

Our executive order doesn’t affect this new version of the commission at all.

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      


Should state Dems be worried?

Monday, Sep 24, 2018

* Laura Washington

Chicago political prognosticators, instigators, spectators and voters are already besotted with the Feb. 26 mayoral election.

The election scheduled just six weeks away? Not so much.

Voters could be complacent about November and distracted by February. For Democrats, that’s a dangerous combination. […]

In recent weeks, voters have been hearing a lot about lopsided polls at the top of the Nov. 6 ticket. […]

Pritzker has bagged this race, they might conclude. Why bother to vote?

It’s a fact that the city’s political reporters and their editors are so heavily focused on the mayor’s race that they’re ignoring the statewide and legislative contests, other than horse-race stuff.

However, Mayor Richard M. Daley set off a huge media bomb when he announced his retirement eight years ago and the incumbent Democratic governor still managed to win despite a national GOP wave.

What’s really dominating coverage, though, is the stuff out of Washington, DC. Lots of folks are up in arms about the national political situation and November is their first general election opportunity to express that anger. As long as the election is nationalized, turnout should be pretty good.

…Adding… Pritzker campaign…

Today, the Pritzker campaign released a new digital ad, “Day In The Life,” highlighting the gloomy news cycles Illinoisans are living through with a failed governor in office.

Turns out, it’s unpopular when a governor fails to do his job and pass a budget for over two years. Bruce Rauner’s approval rating has tanked, he’s been named both the Worst Republican Governor in America, and the nation’s most vulnerable incumbent running for re-election.

The ad

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


An all-around disaster in the 41st House District

Monday, Sep 24, 2018

* I’ve been telling subscribers about this odd case for a couple of weeks

A Democratic candidate for the Illinois House filed petitions to run in a district where she doesn’t live because of a DuPage County error, making her ineligible to serve if she is elected, a judge ruled this week.

Val Montgomery, of Naperville, ran unopposed in the Democratic primary in March for a chance to take on Republican state Rep. Grant Wehrli, of Naperville, in the 41st District.

But DuPage County Judge Bonnie Wheaton ruled this week that Montgomery could not be a candidate in the 41st because the apartment building in which she lives — in the 1600 block of Country Lakes Drive — is actually in the 49th House district.

Actually, the judge merely ruled that Montgomery’s voter registration must be changed to the 49th House District. She can’t vote for herself, but she’ll remain on the ballot pending any further state action.

* ABC 7

Montgomery was hoping to be part of the democrats blue wave and represent the district, which covers the heart of Naperville. She was one of three Naperville women featured on the cover of Time magazine and was challenging Republican incumbent Grant Wehrli. He says a few weeks ago he learned that she did not actually live in the district, and filed a lawsuit on Monday.

“The Illinois constitution has two requirements to run for office, one, you must be 21 and the second is you must live in the district for two years, it is clear that my opponent does not live in the district through no fault of her own,” said State Rep. Grant Wehrli, (R) 41st District. […]

The DuPage County Democratic Party said the decision will be up to Montgomery, but it is exploring options.

“So right now we’re looking for candidates in her district to see if anybody is willing to step up and have their name put on the ballot and if there is my recommendation to Val would be OK, drop out, will get somebody else on there, it’ll be clean we won’t have to worry about any lawsuit later,” said Bob Pieckert, Chairman, Democratic Party of DuPage County.

It doesn’t sound like Montgomery is prepared to drop out, however.

* From her Facebook page

My opponent doesn’t seem to want to discuss issues or voting records. So, when people show you who they really are, listen.

Political corruption and white privilege are real and happen in too many places.

The only thing I am guilty of is being a black woman in Naperville. This is not the first time a black woman in IL has run for office and suddenly issues with residency emerge.

The NAACP has experience dealing with these kinds of things and will be helping so I can focus on the voters.

Please Vote Val, more now than ever- we women need to vote!

Also, while Time magazine did feature her on its cover, the House Democrats haven’t done anything in that district.

* Naperville Sun

“A single building was miscoded with information for a different representative district. It should have been coded for the 49th and it was coded for for the 41st district,” [Pat Bond, general counsel for the DuPage County Election Commission] said. “(It) could have been information that was provided, or in that instance somebody might have just transposed (a) number wrong, altering the coding.”

Montgomery ran for office believing her address was in the 41st legislative district, based on information provided by the county, he said.

The coverage so far is missing two things. After the DuPage County Election Commission miscoded her address last year, it corrected the mistake in late March. Then it moved her back into the wrong district after Montgomery complained. The judge made the commission move her back. This all runs counter to the national narrative of white Republican counties attempting to disenfranchise black candidates. After the initial flub, DuPage deliberately put her into the wrong district so she could run for office. But that clearly violated the law and a judge put her foot down.

* The other thing everyone else is missing is this claim by the Illinois Republican Party…

Records from the 382nd Judicial District Court of Rockwall County, Texas show Val Montgomery, current Democrat candidate for state representative in the 41st District, was indicted by a grand jury on two charges of forgery of a financial instrument, both felonies, in 2007. All documentation can be found at the recently launched website www.valmontgomeryreport.com.

“The grand jury indictment is clear: Montgomery intentionally forged checks from someone else’s account for over $6,000 with the intent to defraud,” Illinois Republican Party Executive Director Travis Sterling said. “Worse yet, she still hasn’t answered for these charges. Prosecutors spent five years trying to track her down, even enlisting the help of the FBI, but were forced to drop the case in 2012 without justice being served due to a lack of resources.”

During the same time period authorities actively sought her for the forgery charges, Montgomery filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection and escaped her creditors. Documents also show Montgomery, who claims to have college degrees in Accounting and Business Administration, never earned a degree from Missouri Western State University or DeVry University, the two schools she has publicly claimed an affiliation with.

Oof.

The website is here. Montgomery’s only response to me was that Facebook page post above.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      


JB Pritzker has financial ties to Jim Edgar

Monday, Sep 24, 2018

* Anita Bedell at Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems e-mailed me the other day to ask why this part of Mark Maxwell’s story about former Gov. Jim Edgar’s kind words for JB Pritzker hasn’t received more notice

Edgar talked fondly of Pritzker, calling him “bright” and someone who can “learn on the job.”

The two men met in 2007 when they both sat on the board of YouBet.com, an early gambling website for horse racing. Less than two years after Pritzker joined the board at YouBet, the state legalized advanced-deposit wagering, but only granted a license to four companies. YouBet was one of them. It raked in $34.7 million in its first year operating officially on the books, according to records kept by the Illinois Racing Board, though the website and operation were up and running before the state legalized it.

The company has since merged with a website called TwinSpires, a Churchill Downs entity that was also a charter member approved for a business license in Illinois. Last year, TwinSpires handled 46 percent of all legal online horse racing bets placed in Illinois.

Pritzker, like Edgar, wants to legalize sports gambling in Illinois. After a speech to the City Club of Chicago last Friday, Pritzker floated the idea as a potential revenue stream to pay for some of the items on his political wish list.

* Illinois Review

The Courier-Journal in Kentucky reported that Churchill Downs opened Derby City Gaming, with “900 ‘instant racing’ machines similar to slot machines, and a “50 seat sports bar featuring stacks of television screens”.

Could the company be positioning the facility for sports gambling? Read more

ILCAAAP NOTE: Churchill Downs also owns Arlington Park in Illinois and has been lobbying for slot machines, table games and Internet sports gambling at racetracks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      


Could Rauner declare the Willowbrook plant a “threat to public health” and sue?

Monday, Sep 24, 2018

* Michael Hawthorne at the Tribune

A company responsible for some of the nation’s highest cancer risks from toxic air pollution says its sterilization plant in west suburban Willowbrook operates well within the law.

Also vouching for the company is Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, a former private equity executive who still has a financial interest in Sterigenics, a global corporation that uses highly potent ethylene oxide gas in Willowbrook and 16 other cities to fumigate medical instruments, pharmaceutical drugs and food. […]

Another option is buried in the same permit that allows Sterigenics to pollute surrounding neighborhoods. Written in obscure legal language, it gives Rauner — or President Donald Trump’s administration — authority to declare the DuPage County facility a threat to public health and seek a court order to immediately shut it down. […]

The Rauner administration, which has cut back on enforcement of state environmental laws, appears more inclined to work with Sterigenics than take the company to court. Nearly two months before the cancer report was made public, the Illinois EPA quietly gave the Willowbrook facility another permit to voluntarily install new pollution-control equipment, making it more difficult for authorities to pursue legal action against the company unless it can be proven the fix has failed to eliminate health risks from ethylene oxide pollution.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


*** UPDATED x2 - White responds *** Democrats, activists say Jesse White “failed” to implement AVR

Monday, Sep 24, 2018

* Press release…

Secretary of State Jesse White’s plan to implement automatic voter registration falls short and fails to comply with the clear requirements of the law, Illinois’ leading voting rights coalition said at a press conference on Monday.

The automatic voter registration bill, which passed the legislature unanimously and which Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law in August 2017, required the Office of the Secretary of State to implement automatic voter registration by July 1st of this year. The Secretary of State has already missed that deadline, meaning that the landmark law will not be in place before the November election.

Advocates stated they were exploring all legal options, including litigation.

Automatic voter registration would change the process to register to vote at state agencies from an opt-in system, where eligible voters must to take multiple additional steps to be registered, to an opt-out system that registers all eligible voters unless they request to be left off the voter rolls. It would also shift agency registration from a paper-based to electronic system. As has been demonstrated in other states, a well-designed automatic voter registration system registers more eligible voters, saves taxpayer money, and results in a more accurate and secure voter list.

This July, working in coordination with the State Board of Elections, the Secretary of State implemented one portion of the law, modernizing the current opt-in voter registration system. This system, where eligible voters must take multiple steps to register to vote or update their registration, changed in July from a paper-based to an entirely electronic process. However, the Secretary of State failed to implement the cornerstone of the law, opt-out registration, where eligible voters are registered to vote automatically unless they take action to opt out, by the July statutory deadline.

The Office of the Secretary of State’s initial plan for the opt-out process would have no tangible difference from the opt-in process. Their planned process would require eligible voters to take all the same steps register to vote as the opt-in process, including additional signatures and duplicative verifications in order to complete the process. Through a series of negotiations, the Office of the Secretary of State has agreed to make some changes to their plan, but not until July or August 2019, more than a year late, and past both the November state and February Chicago local elections.

Advocates asserted their attempts to help the Office of Secretary of State were not welcomed.

“Over the past year, our coalition has offered assistance to help the Secretary of State’s office with implementation - whether it was calling for more resources, providing community feedback, or connecting them with national experts, and with one minor exception, they rebuffed our offers,” said Stevie Valles, Executive Director of Chicago Votes, another Just Democracy Illinois Steering Committee member.

“Illinois was a leader when it passed automatic voter registration with unanimous bipartisan support,” said Hannah Kim, Public Interest Advocate with Illinois PIRG, a Steering Committee member of the Just Democracy coalition who has lead coalition implementation efforts. “Unfortunately, the Secretary of State’s plan fails to achieve the fundamental objectives of the law.”

“The Illinois legislature passed the bill and the governor signed it into law because it was good for Illinois citizens,” said Natalie E. Tennant, Manager of State Advocacy for the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and former West Virginia Secretary of State. “We should not lose that momentum or the spirit of bipartisanship. Other states are watching Illinois to see that it is on track for implementation.”

“It’s disappointing to see how the implementation of automatic voter registration has been rolled out. When we passed this law unanimously, there was no indication that deadlines weren’t going to be met and that community interests weren’t going to be kept in mind,” stated House sponsor Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston). “I sincerely hope these problem can be resolved swiftly so that Illinois voters can begin to benefit from this landmark legislation in the spirit it was intended.”

“As an advocate at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, I spent the last several years fighting for automatic voter registration. We met with community partners and key stakeholders to craft this landmark legislation in a way that could get everyone on board,” added Rep. Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago). “Now as a State Representative, I’m calling on the Secretary of State to implement AVR in compliance with the law without further delay.”

Just Democracy Illinois strongly recommends that all eligible voters make sure their voter registration is accurate and up to date by using the state’s online voter registration system before the October deadline.

I’ve asked White’s spokesman for comment.

*** UPDATE 1 *** From Secretary White…

My number one priority in implementing the Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) program is to ensure the integrity of the election process. The system we have designed and implemented does this.

The fact is the AVR program is up and running. It is going very well. The system is completely automated and the information provided to the Secretary of State’s office is being sent electronically to the Illinois State Board of Elections each night. Anyone who wishes to register to vote may do so.

In fact, the Illinois State Board of Elections says the registration numbers are close to double since the program went into effect July 2, 2018. According to the Illinois State Board of Elections, registration figures before AVR averaged around 31,500 a month. But since the implementation of AVR on July 2 of this year, more than 145,300 have been registered in less than three months.

We understand there are people on both sides of the political spectrum that may have issues with this new law. But my number one priority is to ensure we are protecting the integrity of the election process. I will not be intimidated by threats as we continue to move forward with this new system.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Hannah Kim, Illinois PIRG Advocate, on behalf of Just Democracy Illinois…

Despite Secretary of State White’s claim, automatic voter registration is not up and running in Illinois.

In July, the existing voter registration process at Driver Services facilities–which requires individuals to affirmatively opt-in to register–transitioned from a paper process to a fully electronic process.

This is just one change that the automatic voter registration law requires, and we celebrate its initial success.

However, modernizing opt-in voter registration is different than implementing automatic, or opt-out, registration. Secretary White failed to implement opt-out registration, the cornerstone of the law, by the July 2018 statutory deadline.

We call on Secretary White to comply with the law we fought passionately to enact by fully implementing opt-out registration by January 2019.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      


The almost non-issue that won’t go away

Monday, Sep 24, 2018

* Illinois News Network

Car enthusiasts from around Illinois and beyond would rather see cuts and reprioritized spending than another tax, like a possible vehicle miles traveled tax, something they see as a nonstarter.

Gov. Bruce Rauner is doubling down on claiming his chief opponent, J.B. Pritzker, wants to tax vehicles by the mile. Pritzker denied he has a plan to do so during Thursday’s NBC 5 debate, but he said at a forum last month he’s open to all ideas to find more money for roads.

Reports have said Illinois’ roads need billions more a year than the state is spending now just to keep up on upkeep.

Dale Sterns from Carbondale was showing his 1955 Ford F150 in Springfield at a car show this weekend. Asked what he thinks about new taxes for roads, he said “I think: Where do we start cutting?”

OK, Dale, how about we start the cutting with your car show?

The Route 66 Festival is sponsored by… Illinois Office of Tourism

Or, perhaps, we can send fewer Road Fund dollars to Carbondale.

* Anyway, this whole thing is a bit silly. Pritzker merely said he’s open to considering a pilot program. But, voters do not do nuance and so the governor has pounced

Rauner’s ad says “Pritzker’s tax plan” includes a “new tax per mile you drive with government tracking device.”

But Pritzker hasn’t endorsed any plan as of yet when it comes to measuring and taxing miles driven, and Rauner in a televised debate last week appeared to back away from directly claiming otherwise. His ad, however, is still running.

Pritzker has simply said it’s an idea worth exploring as other states test the concept, given the erosion in collections from the gas tax long relied on to pay for road upkeep. And he has said nothing about a tracking device, which is only one of several options employed in mileage tracking tests conducted in other states.

We rate Rauner’s claim False.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


AG candidate tweets out engagement announcement

Monday, Sep 24, 2018

* Last night…



* Press release…

Good evening!

I wanted to share some big personal news that Sen. Kwame Raoul, Democratic candidate for Attorney General, just tweeted.

Kwame proposed to Dr. Lisa Moore this morning at St. John AME Church in Aurora, her parents’ church, after addressing the congregation. She was completely surprised!

Lisa is an anesthesiologist at St. Joseph Hospital. They each have two children; Kwame’s son and daughter are both in college. Lisa has one child in high school and one in college.

Kwame and Lisa started dating two months prior to his prostate cancer diagnosis three years ago. She guided him through the experience.

Earlier this evening, they attended a campaign meet-and-greet with the LGBTQ community in Lakeview, where Kwame shared the happy news with supporters. He reemphasized his commitment to defending marriage equality and said,

“We’re here tonight to celebrate love! Love is love. Everyone should have the rights that Lisa and I have, and nothing less.”

Aviva

* The happy couple…



Sometimes we can forget that candidates are human beings. This is a helpful reminder.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


New Rauner digital ad goes after Pritzker’s off-shore banking: “Hide your money in the Bahamas!”

Monday, Sep 24, 2018

* It’s not yet running on Facebook, and the ad is currently unlisted on YouTube [Update: It’s now listed], but commenters have said in the past that the Rauner campaign has been all over Hulu…

Today, the Rauner Campaign is launching a new digital ad titled “JBahamas Bank.”

Working with its sister company, “Pritzker Plumbing Inc.,” JBahamas Bank serves people who want to dodge taxes by keeping their money in offshore accounts, just like JB Pritzker.

The Chicago Tribune reported that Pritzker set up several shell companies between 2008 and 2011, some of which are based in the Bahamas. Despite Pritzker’s claims that his offshore dealings are “only providing charitable contributions,” JBahamas Bank is hard at work behind the scenes managing Pritzker’s business dealings and helping him dodge taxes in the beautiful sunshine of the tropics.

* The ad

* Script…

You work hard to provide for your family. Saving for a house in a good neighborhood. Budgeting for a summer vacation, or maybe a new car. But just think what your budget would be if you avoided paying taxes!

Well, at JBahamas Bank, we can help Illinois families like yours! We’ll hide your money offshore, far from the IRS, on the sandy beaches of the Bahamas, just like JB Pritzker did. And considering our man JB’s plan to raise taxes on every family in Illinois, there’s no better time to open an account than today

Hide your money in the Bahamas!

- Posted by Rich Miller   45 Comments      


Blue Wave money update

Monday, Sep 24, 2018

* Bernie

The Sangamon County Democratic Party has gotten another shot of Blue Wave money.

The party received $48,125 from the program in July, and in early September got another check for the same amount.

Democratic governor candidate J.B. PRITZKER has made a goal of building local Democratic parties, and as a big part of the effort, his campaign fund gave $1 million to Rock Island County Democrats in May, and another $1 million on Sept. 5. The Rock Island Party — led by DOUG HOUSE, who is also president of the Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association — has been distributing funds to other local parties.

House said providing funding in installments is a way for local parties to be accountable — to show they are using the money to do things they said, such as holding regular meetings, having headquarters and being active on social media.

So far this month, House’s RICO party organization has distributed $473,496 to 25 committees. The organization has shoveled $799,686 out the door since the beginning of July.

JB Pritzker’s campaign has contributed another $6.7 million to various campaign committees during that same time period.

* Related…

* Naperville Congressional candidate Lauren Underwood to get ice cream made in her honor by Ben and Jerry

- Posted by Rich Miller   2 Comments      


All heat, no light

Monday, Sep 24, 2018

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

The first gubernatorial debate of the 2018 general election was almost all heat and no light. Instead of talking about where they want to take the state, the candidates focused mainly on delivering rehearsed zingers at other people in the race.

Gov. Bruce Rauner and Sen. Sam McCann, the Conservative Party candidate, crafted some of the better put-downs, so they dominated the news coverage. News coverage always follows conflict, and that debate was definitely chock full of conflict.

Rauner is convinced that J.B. Pritzker is a tool of the machine and that the machine is out to get him. The machine is most definitely out to get him, but he came off as undignified and angry. Maybe I’m just way out of touch, but I’d like to see a grownup as governor. Instead, it was one nasty wisecrack after another from Rauner. Every word seemed to be drenched in bile.

Sen. McCann, who Rauner rightly noted was, um, helped into the race by allies of House Speaker Michael Madigan to draw conservative and Downstate votes away from the incumbent, interrupted both Rauner and Democratic nominee Pritzker time and again to deliver putdowns and what was supposed to pass for homespun wisdom.

McCann talked about how he’d watched TV news in his Chicago hotel room the night before and was shocked at the coverage of all the crime – as if this was his first visit to the state’s largest city. I frankly can’t tell if the man is even running a campaign. If he’s making speeches out on the hustings, there’s been practically no coverage. He appears to have one job and only one job and he did that job at the debate.

Pritzker also stuck closely to his script and dodged and weaved around legitimate questions about his disconnected toilets in his unused mansion that got him a property tax break, and what he wants to do about graduated income tax rates.

Pritzker faithfully stayed on his campaign’s game plan of making sure everyone in Illinois knows that Rauner is a liar and a failure. Calling Rauner a liar is a clever way of deflecting Rauner’s claims about Pritzker: You can’t believe Rauner’s attacks because he’s a liar. And, hey, it’s not like Pritzker’s all wrong. Rauner even lied about his own grandfather, claiming he was born in Sweden when he was actually born in Wisconsin. And the governor kept telling that lie after he was publicly called out on it. Every single thing he says has to be fact-checked, starting with whether or not he spoke on the phone with House Speaker Michael Madigan on election night four years ago (he said he did, but he didn’t).

Libertarian Kash Jackson was the least offensive, but to say he has no chance would be insulting the concept of chance.

Anyway, while the debate should’ve been about Illinois, it was all about the candidates. I don’t care if they think their opponents are the worst people in the world. I get the politics of it, but I still don’t care. Rauner is so unpopular that he has to bring Pritzker down to his level. Pritzker isn’t beloved, so he has to keep his boot on Rauner’s political throat. McCann’s job is to attack Rauner from his right flank.

They all say this campaign is about the “character” of their opponents. Fine. It’s their money (literally, in the case of Rauner and Pritzker). But the moderator of the next debate needs to make sure we don’t again get the equivalent of a professional wrestling match. Also, how about talking about your own character, gentlemen?

As to who “won,” I would say nobody lost. You could say that nobody losing means the governor actually lost because he’s so far behind in the polls. But this isn’t like a presidential debate, where half the country tunes in. It was on one TV channel in one part of the state, not all of them everywhere. Most people will either get their information from post-debate news coverage or social media or they won’t get any information at all.

The big impact will be advertising. We’ll have to see if the campaigns can pull any particularly damaging clips from the debate to use in TV ads, as the Rauner campaign did with Jeanne Ives in the primary. Most people thought she won the Tribune editorial board debate, but she ended up being the big loser because her soft words about Speaker Madigan were used by Rauner to great effect.

* Zorn

“Is there anything that you admire about Mr. Pritzker? An action or achievement? Is there anything you think he’s done that you think is worthy of praise?” […]

Rauner didn’t hesitate when he whiffed at the question.

“I’ve been very clear that I believe (Pritzker) is lacking in integrity, in ethics and in character,” he said, launching a 90-second, entirely negative talking-points tirade accusing Pritzker of being an unpatriotic tax cheat and self-dealer. “It’s appalling.” […]

Try making it rational. The lot of you. Look forward. Tell us why, if we vote for you, the next four years will look different from the last four years. Be specific. What will your budget priorities be? How will you balance revenue and spending without the fairy dust of ideological fantasies?

* Related…

* Follow the money: Republican state Sen. Sam McCann, the Conservative Party candidate for governor, got $125,500 last week from the Fight Back Fund, an operation of the Operating Engineers International Union Local 150.

* Finke: Lots of sound, not much light in governor debate

* Editorial: Cut debate field to two

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


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