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Morning Spin

Chicago Tribune

Thursday, December 7, 2017  |  Editorial  |  Editorial Board

Immigration (99a) , Rauner, Bruce Ives, Jeanne--State House, 42

Republican governor challenger Jeanne Ives is scheduled to hold a Thursday news conference to unveil legislation that would repeal an immigration law Gov. Bruce Rauner signed.

The Trust Act was approved by lawmakers and the governor just months ago, so a bid to repeal it is all but dead on arrival. The law protects immigrants who are in the country illegally from being detained solely because of their immigration status.

For Ives, Thursday's event outside the Cook County Jail will be a chance to highlight another difference she has with Rauner in their race for the Republican governor nomination. His signature on the Trust Act in August angered conservatives, but has been overshadowed by their disdain for his signature on an abortion law the following month.

Immigration was a key issue for President Donald Trump in last year's election, and he won some Downstate counties by wide margins. So the issue could be one that comes up as Rauner tries to fend off Ives' challenge.

When the governor signed the bill into law, he said he sought the guidance of law enforcement officials.

"I asked them, should I sign this bill, should I not sign this bill?" Rauner said at the time. "They all said to me, governor, this is a reasonable compromise, it will help us do our jobs better, it will help us keep our communities safer." 

Ives is set to appear with Brian McCann, whose brother Dennis was hit by a car and killed while crossing the street in Logan Square by driver Saul Chavez. Police said Chavez had a blood-alcohol content of 0.29 percent.

Chavez was released on bond and never prosecuted, and the family says Cook County's so-called sanctuary laws allowed Chavez to flee the country.

What's on tap

*Mayor Rahm Emanuel will host a naturalization ceremony at City Hall in the morning.

*Gov. Rauner will participate in a Pearl Harbor remembrance in Springfield and later host a meeting of his Cabinet on Children and Youth. First lady Diana Rauner will announce winners of an art contest in Springfield in the morning.

*An Illinois House committee will have a hearing in the Bilandic Building to talk about Medicaid managed care.

*Obama Foundation board Chairman Martin Nesbitt will speak to the City Club of Chicago.

From the notebook 

*Whom do you trust: Rauner’s campaign team again attacked J.B. Pritzker by repeating accusations that his potential Democratic rival is parking his inherited billions offshore to avoid paying taxes.

The Rauner camp released a digital video just a day after the governor went after Pritzker by contending he was a bad investor or was hiding his money in trusts as a tax-avoidance strategy.

“An incompetent investor or hiding income offshore. J.B. Pritzker, it’s one or the other,” a narrator says in the Rauner ad. “Born a billionaire, bankrolling (House Speaker Michael) Madigan, Gold Coast mansions. Pritzker’s spending big. Now, Pritzker’s ducking questions. Stashing his cash overseas? Refusing to pay his fair share?”

It’s the latest shot in a battle between two very wealthy men. Rauner has made hundreds of millions of dollars as a private equity investor and has used a strategy of accepting investment profit shares instead of management fees to reduce his tax liability.

Pritzker is an heir to the Hyatt Hotel fortune, and income tax cover sheets released by his campaign showed an income of $15 million in 2016 and even less in the prior two years. The Pritzker camp said any offshore investments were in longtime family established trusts and that any disbursements were to be given to charity.

Neither Rauner or Pritzker has released any detailed backup information about their taxes, wealth or claims of disbursements.

But Rauner’s most recent statement of economic interest lists among his sources of investments Roundtable Hedge Strategies Offshore LP, which records show is based in the Cayman Islands. Rountable’s parent is the firm that manages the governor’s investments in lieu of a true “blind trust.” (Rick Pearson)

*On a lighter note: Pritzker’s campaign unveiled a new feature on its Twitter account entitled “Up close and personal with J.B. Pritzker” that asks the candidate some trivial questions.

His favorite sports team? “Oh, Blackhawks for sure.”

His favorite all-time television series? “Gilligan’s Island” and “Walking Dead.”

Twitter or Facebook? Twitter.

Rather win a Grammy or an Oscar? Grammy.

Best concert? The Steve Miller Band and The Eagles. “And that’s a long time ago.” 

State Sen. Daniel Biss of Evanston, another candidate for the Democratic nomination, did some trolling of Pritzker on Twitter:

“I have a question — which is your favorite offshore trust fund?” (Rick Pearson)

*Rauner vs. Madigan again: Gov. Rauner on Wednesday blamed House Speaker Michael Madigan for the cancellation of a $12.5 million state contract with management consulting company McKinsey & Co.

The contract to help the state comply with Medicaid rules became controversial after it was made public, with Democrats questioning why the administration needed to outsource management services to a private firm.

The state’s chief procurement officer warned at a legislative hearing last week that she might void the contract if the administration wasn’t able to correct some errors to her satisfaction. She pulled the plug on Tuesday.

Ironically, the cancellation was made possible by new guidelines for how the state buys and sells services that Rauner signed into law earlier this year. The new law was one of the few items on Rauner’s original “turnaround agenda” that lawmakers granted him, though he said Wednesday that it hadn’t gone far enough.

“Procurement in Illinois is broken, it has been broken and it is still broken,” Rauner said when asked to explain what went wrong with the McKinsey contract. “We did pass a modest procurement reform bill. Didn’t go nearly far enough. It probably fixed about a third or a quarter of the problem.”

Then he pivoted to Madigan, saying the speaker “has resisted because he controls a lot of the procurement people through his patronage operation. He likes the current procurement system. That’s how he gets some of his political power that we have to defeat.”

Asked if he thought the procurement officer who’d voided the contract was controlled by the speaker, Rauner said he thought Madigan had “heavy influence.”

Madigan spokesman Steve Brown dismissed the accusation as “empty talk.”

The McKinsey contract is closely related to another, much larger contract between the Rauner administration and insurance providers seeking to participate in Medicaid, which lawmakers will examine at a Thursday morning hearing in Chicago(Kim Geiger)

*Debate schedule: The Democratic candidates for governor started releasing dates for which debates and forums they've agreed to do before the March 20 primary.

In case you need to set your DVR really early before entering a holiday daze, here are the debates dates and sponsors that show up on both Pritzker's and Chris Kennedy's lists. Their last debate will be six days before primary day on Chicago public TV.

Jan. 23: NBC Chicago, Telemundo, Chicago Urban League and the Union League Club of Chicago.

Jan. 30: Daily Herald and Southern Illinois University.

Feb. 21: Springfield State Journal-Register and WMAY-AM radio in central Illinois.

March 1: Politico, WBEZ radio and the University of Chicago Institute of Politics.

March 2: ABC 7 Chicago, Univision and League of Women Voters.

March 14: WTTW-TV.

*Cash plan crashes for now: Aldermen on Wednesday considered a measure to require Chicago businesses to accept cash for transactions. Call it a "Burke special."

Southwest Side Ald. Ed Burke introduced the ordinance and argued at a committee hearing that it’s discriminatory not to allow customers to pay with currency since lower income Chicagoans are more likely not to have bank accounts and credit cards. North Side Ald. Michele Smith, 43rd, countered that some businesses feel safer without cash on hand, and some people would prefer not to have to carry bills.

The committee did not vote on the plan, and Burke said it merits more study. (John Byrne)

*How they voted: Four Illinois Democrats voted against killing a Texas lawmaker's failed proposal to impeach President Trump.

Outgoing U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Chicago, who had most vocally pushed impeachment among Illinois' delegation, didn't vote on Wednesday. Here's who did vote against tabling the impeachment proposal: U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky of Evanston, Bobby Rush and Danny Davis of Chicago, and Robin Kelly of Matteson.

And on a different vote, U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, a Wheaton Republican, broke with his party and joined all 11 Illinois House Democrats in opposing a measure to let people with permits to carry a concealed firearm in their own state take the weapon into other states that allow concealed carry.

The measure also enhanced the background check system for gun purchases and passed 231-198, with Roskam one of 14 Republicans opposed. All other Illinois Republicans voted for it. (Katherine Skiba)

*Quick spins: Secretary of State Jesse White endorsed Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios for re-election in his campaign against asset manager Fritz Kaegi of Oak Park and Andrea Raila of Chicago. ... An initial hearing in the lawsuit brought by conservative groups challenging legislation Gov. Rauner signed into law to expand taxpayer funding of abortion was held Wednesday. Lawyers for Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office said they planed to file a motion to dismiss the suit in the next ten days. Another hearing was set for Dec. 28 before Judge Jennifer Ascher in Sangamon County Circuit Court. 

What we're writing

*CPS IG recommends CEO Claypool be fired for clouted law contract, but Emanuel sticking by longtime friend so far.

*Data mining program designed to predict child abuse proves unreliable, DCFS says.

*Emanuel gets better interest rate under new borrowing approach.

*City settles suit with immigrant falsely accused of gang ties.

*Durbin, Duckworth join list of Democrats calling for Franken to resign.

*Judge puts off deciding whether reporter must testify at Laquan McDonald hearing.

*Illinois has enough children's insurance cash to last through September.

What we're reading

*Mike Adamle's struggle and his crusade: "I can feel the decline every single day." 

*Chicago's best baked goods.

*After a storage unit opened, a Rockford family's World War II service and secrets were revealed.

Follow the money

*Ald. Ameya Pawar filed his campaign finance report from his abandoned run for governor, found here.

*Track Illinois campaign contributions in real time here and here.

Beyond Chicago

*Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel capital.

*Government shutdown deadline still looming at the end of the week.

*Facing more sexual harassment accusers, Franken schedules Thursday announcement.

*Wildfires consume southern California.