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Morning Spin

Chicago Tribune

Thursday, May 17, 2018  |  Editorial  |  Editorial Board

Rauner, Bruce , Veterans (95)

Facing continued criticism over his handling of Legionnaire’s disease cases at the state-run veterans home in Quincy, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner spent Wednesday night there “to celebrate our veterans.”

Rauner spent a week at the veterans home in January amid criticism over his administration’s response to what has become annual incidents of the potentially deadly waterborne bacteria that have led to the deaths of 13 people and sickened dozens more since 2015.

The governor was back in Quincy on Wednesday to announce a $3 million state grant to help the city switch to a new groundwater system, which also is aimed at improving water quality at the veterans home. Such a system has been part of the city’s long-range plans since 1981.

But Rauner also urged lawmakers to act quickly to authorize $230 million to rebuild the post-Civil War era veterans home, including replacing aging water pipes that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention contends may be the source of bacterial contamination.

“We need that bill to pass,” Rauner said, adding “that bill should have been sent to my desk already.”

“For the legislation, the General Assembly’s meeting today. They’ve been meeting every day. They could get this done, like today, tomorrow,” he said.

They need a few more days than that.

The administration-backed bill authorizing the money was introduced Wednesday. The House and Senate need three days each to pass a new bill.

Meanwhile, Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker has criticized the governor for “fatal mismanagement” at the Quincy home. On Wednesday, he called Rauner’s visit a “political stunt” and said the governor gave lawmakers “very little time” to look into the use of the money as the end of the spring legislative session nears.

That prompted Rauner campaign spokesman Will Allison to hit back.

“It’s time for Pritzker to put politics aside and call on (House Speaker Michael) Madigan to pass the funding bill through the General Assembly to get this done for the veterans at Quincy,” Allison said.

For now, though, the funding measure isn’t in front of Madigan or the House he controls. It’s a Senate bill, sponsored by Republican state Rep. Jil Tracy of Quincy. (Rick Pearson)

What’s on tap

*Mayor Rahm Emanuel will make an announcement about the Night Out in the Parks program.

*Gov. Rauner will speak at a procurement fair in Springfield and later will sign an executive order about African American-owned businesses and state contracts alongside mayoral candidate Willie Wilson.

*Plans for the Barack Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park go before the city Plan Commission for a first public vote.

*The Illinois House and Senate are in session.

*DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin is speaking to the City Club of Chicago.

From the notebook

*Check the record: Mayoral candidate Willie Wilson is giving $200,000 worth of feminine hygiene products to Cook County Jail.

The businessman donated the items from his medical supply company, Nubella Products. The Cook County Board voted Wednesday to accept the donation.

“We try to give to those who cannot help themselves and who cannot pay us back,” Wilson said. He added that he’s willing to give an extra $100,000 for shelters that house women coming out of jail if the county provides him a list, prompting applause from board members and President Toni Preckwinkle.

Wilson this year put $100,000 into his mayoral campaign, a move that allowed Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other candidates raise unlimited amounts of money.

Asked after the meeting how he would respond to criticism that the donation is a political ploy, he said he has a history of giving generously.

“Check my record,” he said. (Gregory Pratt)

What we’re writing

*Obama Foundation makes final push for support before Plan Commission meeting Thursday. The former president was in Chicago on Wednesday to introduce the foundation’s first fellows.

*State assumes sweeping authority over CPS special education practices.

*First public hearing on civilian oversight of Chicago Police Department abruptly breaks up amid protest.

*Rauner’s hand-picked Republican Party chairman set to keep his job in truce over looming leadership battle.

*Emanuel says he’s “playing it down the middle” on police reform as Fraternal Order of Police urges members to protest him.

*Illinois considers changing gun transfer rules following Waffle House shooting.

*Preckwinkle counters IG report on Cook hospitals, says system continues “to reform and modernize.”

*Judge blocks city’s bid for separate trials in fatal police shooting of Quintonio LeGrier and Bettie Jones.

*Riverwalk increases police and security presence to make people feel safe this summer.

*Duckworth wants to make assaulting rail crew members a federal offense.

*Bill to keep pregnant women out of jail while they await trial reaches governor’s desk.

What we’re reading

*“Things could have gone much worse”: Ex-student shot by officer during gunfire exchange at Dixon High School.

*Black rhino Layla gets a forklift-aided CT scan at Brookfield Zoo.

*“SNL” alum Vanessa Bayer returns to Second City for charity event.

Follow the money

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

Beyond Chicago

*Trump reports paying Cohen for apparent Stormy Daniels payment.

*Trump in roundtable calls some immigrants “animals.”

*Tillerson says lies threaten Democracy.

*Senate takes first step to save net neutrality rules.