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Full text for Articles for Yesterday, Thursday, March 22, 2018 - 36 Articles


More than 80 percent of Illinois counties saw population loss in 2017
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Commentary  |   Illinois Policy Institute/Bryce Hill - Research Analyst; Austin Berg - Director of Content Strategy
Demographics, Census, Statistics
As outmigration fuels population decline throughout the state, Cook County saw the largest numeric population loss of any county in the nation.

New data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau show Illinois’ concerning trends of population loss and outmigration are playing out at the county level across the state.

In December 2017, the U.S. Census Bureau released data confirming Illinois had dropped below Pennsylvania as the sixth most populous state in the country, due to four consecutive years of population decline. Even more troubling was the fact that Illinois’ population loss was primarily driven by Illinoisans relocating to other states at the rate of 1 person every 4.6 minutes.

The county-level data reveal 83 of Illinois’ 102 counties saw their population decline from July 2016 to July 2017.
Since 2010, 89 of Illinois’ 102 counties have experienced population loss, according to the census data.
Cook County saw its population decline by more than 20,000 people from July 2016 to July 2017 – the largest population loss of any county in the nation in raw terms. While Cook County saw more births than deaths and gained more than 20,500 people from international immigration, those gains were more than offset by heavy losses of residents to other counties.
Concerning long-term trends
Since 2010, Illinois has lost nearly 643,000 residents on net to other states. That’s comparable to the population of Illinois’ four largest cities outside Chicago combined. Only four counties in the entire state have seen positive domestic migration since 2010: Kendall (+2,309 residents from other U.S. counties, including counties in Illinois), Monroe (+852), Johnson (+416) and Williamson (+241).

Since 2010, 19 of the 20 largest counties in Illinois have witnessed net migration losses to other counties in the U.S. Among the largest counties in the state, Peoria County has seen the heaviest domestic migration losses, in percentage terms. The home of Caterpillar Inc. lost more than 12,500 residents to other counties over that time, which is equal to 6.7 percent of the county’s 2010 population.
Cook County has seen a net loss of more than 329,400 residents to other counties since 2010. At the same time, each of the collar counties experienced net losses to domestic migration as well: DuPage (-40,900), Lake (-39,200), Will (-17,900), Kane (-12,900) and McHenry (-11,200).

This period of outmigration and population decline coincides with Illinois’ almost nonexistent recovery from the Great Recession. Slow jobs growth and persistent outmigration have only been worsened by poor state policy.

For the last decade, Illinois state government spending has grown 25 percent faster than personal income for Illinoisans. To finance the massive increases in spending, Illinois has seen two of the largest income taxes in state history since the end of the Great Recession. The effects of the tax hikes, which are still being felt, have cost the economy thousands of jobs and billions of dollars.

Now, instead of learning from past mistakes, lawmakers are considering another tax hike on Illinoisans. The General Assembly is mulling over a progressive income tax that would raise taxes on Illinoisans making as little as $17,300 and cause further damage to the state’s economy.

Reversing the trend
Illinoisans deserve a state where their families can flourish and plant roots.

Instead of hiking taxes on hardworking Illinoisans, the state needs to free them from their enormous tax burden. A lower tax burden would stimulate investment and job creation, making the state a more attractive place for families to plant roots.

However, the only way to get lower taxes is to rein in government spending at the state and local levels. Illinois should look to states such as Virginia for ways to cut spending without harming the delivery of core services.

Money and momentum off the charts in Tuesday’s primary
Chicago Sun Times
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Article  |   Sun Times Staff
Candidates--Statewide (12)

More Democrats turned out to choose their party’s nominee for governor on Tuesday than they did in any other gubernatorial primary in the past four decades.


And J.B. Pritzker spent roughly $122.02 of his own money for each of the votes he received — but surprisingly that’s not a primary record.


Gov. Bruce Rauner’s spending is a bit tougher to figure, since he has also taken in big contributions from wealthy friends and spent some of his money helping other candidates.


But the numbers available suggest he is in the same ballpark — and skybox — as Pritzker, spending somewhere around $124.66 per vote.


Money and energy are what drive elections. And the numbers suggest a fair amount of both were at play on Tuesday.


The 1,269,161 Democrats who cast ballots in the six-way primary that Pritzker won eclipsed the 1,252,516 who turned out in 2002 to weigh in on Rod Blagojevich’s primary battle against Paul Vallas and Roland Burris.


The last time more Democrats came out to vote in a gubernatorial nominating contest was 1976, when 1,430,117 voted in the Dan Walker-Paul Simon race. But back then Illinois races for governor were still held in presidential election years, which likely helped drive up turnout.


The Republican turnout Tuesday didn’t break any records. The 703,110 voters falls short of the 819,710 who turned out four years ago in the GOP primary Bruce Rauner won against Kirk Dillard, Bill Brady and Dan Rutherford. But it beats out the 667,485 who voted in the seven-way contest that Bill Brady won four years earlier in 2010.


As for money, Pritzker reached into his pocket for $70 million and is believed to have spent most of it. He got 573,679 votes. That breaks down to $122.02 per vote.


Rauner’s campaign reported spending at least $45,040,091.12 between the beginning of 2016 and the end of last year. Those are the most up-to-date numbers for actual expenditures. They don’t include the crucial first three months of this year.


But if all of those expenditures are considered geared toward his own election, it would come out to $124.66 for each of the 361,301 votes he received through Tuesday night.


But during that same period, Rauner received big contributions from the hedge-fund operator Ken Griffin, the state’s richest man. And Rauner also used some of his money to help other candidates, such as Republican Comptroller Leslie Munger, who ultimately lost her failed re-election bid in 2016.


And obviously, his per-vote total will rise once his 2018 spending is included.

Once again, former Gov. Pat Quinn answers call of duty — jury duty
Chicago Sun Times
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Article  |   Michael Sneed
Quinn, Governor (44)

Pat’s all, folks?


Former Gov. Pat Quinn, who lost a primary race for Illinois attorney general, will be back in action soon.


But not in politics.


“I’ve been summoned for jury duty at the Criminal Courts building in two weeks,” said Quinn.


“So I’ve been called to public service duty once more,” said Quinn. “It’s an honor to serve.”


Added Quinn, who has been in public office for decades: “You can be a peacock one day and a feather duster the next.


“If you lose an election, you find another way of serving,” said Quinn, who won downstate but knew it was going to be a battle for the city upon learning he was not going to receive the endorsement of the Chicago Federation of Labor — minus the Carpenters’ Union — which had pushed him over the edge when he first ran for governor.


“You don’t have to run for office to be an active citizen.


“Look, I’ve been passing out petitions ever since [House Speaker] Mike Madigan said I wasn’t worthy of being an Irishman,” he said. “That’s when I successfully led an ethics-reform drive to cancel the legislators’ ability to get paid in advance,” he said.




Mayoral hopeful Garry McCarthy, who broadcast his decision to run for mayor via video Wednesday night on his website, did so minus two prime announcements.


McCarthy, who told Sneed last week, “I have yet to hire a campaign manager and a press secretary,” is reportedly now swimming in resumes.


A McCarthy source tells me:


“We were waiting for the primary to be over because the most qualified available candidates were working for other campaigns up to last night.


“Now we’ve got available applicants and time to choose,” the source added.


Meanwhile, Sneed is told McCarthy showcased his video at a private reception Wednesday night at Hugo’s restaurant for 100 early supporters of McCarthy’s candidacy, and received $50,000 in contributions.


Stay tuned.


St. Pat’s chat . . .


Foxy loxy: The Daley brothers — Rich, Bill, Mike and John — who tossed their annual St. Patrick’s Day party at Gibsons Italia on the river this year included two political rivals on their guest list.


• Translation: They invited Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is running for re-election — and his possible/probable mayoral opponent Paul Vallas, who tells Sneed: “I will be making a decision on running soon.”

Quoth Vallas, who recently lost a beloved son: “It was so very nice to be invited. It was great to see the mayor and his brothers as well as many old friends whom I haven’t seen in years.”


Oh, those Daley boys.


Strip ’em . . .


Porn star Stormy Daniels, aka Stephanie Clifford — who claims to have had a $130,000 paid tryst with President Donald Trump in 2006 and is now suing to tell all — still plans to bring her strip show to the Admiral Theatre June 14-16.

But surprisingly, there is still little traffic on the Facebook ad for her strip show at the 228 seat theater since an announcement in February.


Tickets are still available.


And as of Wednesday, the theater’s public Facebook event post shows only 66 Facebook users are interested in going to Daniels’ “Make America Horny Again” event, which has been shared only 15 times on Facebook.


An Admiral Theater spokesman tells Sneed the porn star “will be performing on stage alone, her performance will be approximately 20-30 minutes, and she will be signing autographs and taking pictures with guests following her performances.


“We may have a surprise guest,” the spokesman said.


The bunny beat . . .


It’s become a battle of the bunnies.


A parody of a picture book for children about “Marlon Bundo,” a rabbit belonging to Vice President Mike Pence, has skyrocketed to No. 1 best-seller status on Amazon late Wednesday.


The hit book, titled “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents a Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo,” is about a little gay bunny — and a hilarious parody of Amazon’s No. 4 best-seller Wednesday titled “Marlon Bundo’s Day in the Life of the Vice President,” written by Pence’s daughter, Charlotte, and illustrated by Pence’s wife, Karen.


The spoof is a take-off on Veep Pence’s dismal LGBT rights record.


Carrot, anyone?


Sneedlings . . .


I spy: Three legendary quarterbacks — Vince Ferragamo, Daryle Lamonica, and Dan Pastorini —were at Capri Ristorante in Burr Ridge recently. . . . Today’s birthdays: Reese Witherspoon, 42; William Shatner, 87; and Dexter Fowler, 32.

Rauner administration again puts disputed state workers pay raise on ice
Chicago Sun Times
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Article  |   Mitch Dudek
Rauner, Bruce

The Rauner administration is trying to avoid paying a 48-cent-per-hour to some home health workers. They are appealing a decision in a lawsuit by SEI Healthcare that led to a ruling by a Cook County judge that thousands of caregivers are due back pay and a raise. | Mitch Dudek


The pay raises and backpay that a judge ordered the administration of Governor Bruce Rauner to begin paying by March 21 to thousands of home caregivers employed by the state are again in limbo.


Rauner administration attorneys plan to appeal the order and on Friday — five days before the March 21 deadline — they filed paperwork seeking to postpone payments during the appeal process.


Cook County Judge David Atkins this week granted a temporary stay on the payments while he considers whether or not to allow the stay to remain in place during the entire appeals process.


“It’s disappointing that he would do this,” said Virginia Grant, a home caregiver from Charleston – about 50 miles south of Champaign – who is one of several plaintiffs in the case. “We’re all disappointed, but we’re definitely not giving up.”


Grant, 61, works 25 hours a week. She helps dress, bathe and feed a woman who suffers from multiple sclerosis. She also performs a variety of tasks that include laundry, letter writing, phone calls, check book balancing and grocery shopping for a man whose physical motion is limited after having tumors removed from his spine.


The modest 48-cent-an-hour raise pay bump was part of a bipartisan budget compromise passed last summer over a Rauner veto. It was supposed to take effect by Aug 5.


But the raises were never handed out.


So the workers and the their union, SEIU Healthcare Illinois, sued.


On March 13, Atkins ruled the caregivers should receive back pay by March 21 and begin receiving their raises by the same date.


But the temporary stay Atkins placed on his order means the workers are still waiting to get paid.


“Rather than wasting the tax payers money on appeal, the Rauner administration should respect the court’s ruling and give these workers the money they deserve,” said attorney George Luscombe, who represented several caregivers who sued the state.


The wage issue affects about 28,000 caregivers – mostly part time – employed by the Illinois Department of Human Services through the Home Services Program. Under the state program, the caregivers are known as “personal assistants.”


According to the union, the total of all backpay owed through March 17 had reached about $9.9 million.


For Grant, that 48-cents-an-hour equals $12 a week. And her back-pay check would have been nearly $400 by the end of last week. She said she’d probably just use it to pay bills — “or maybe a vacation, which doesn’t happen often.”


SEIU Healthcare is among a group of labor organizations holding ownership stakes in the Chicago Sun-Times.


A Rauner administration spokesperson did not immediately return a call seeking comment Thursday morning.

Yes, we endorsed them, but their spending is hurting our democracy
Chicago Sun Times
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Editorial  |   Editorial Board
Candidates--Statewide (12)

Bruce Rauner has raised more than $75 million for his reelection, mostly by writing checks to himself.


J.B. Pritzker has raised more than $70 million, also by throwing money at himself


And then the bottom drops out.


Chris Kennedy, vanquished by Pritzker on Tuesday, raised only (only!) $6.9 million — a tenth of Pritzker’s campaign funds. Dan Biss, vanquished by Pritzker, raised $6.7 million. And Jeanne Ives, edged out by Rauner, raised $3.9 million.


What the numbers say is obvious. The Republican and Democratic primaries for governor were not fair elections.


A couple of enormously wealthy men started out with an absurd advantage, and of course they won. What a shock.


We actually endorsed both super-rich guys, Rauner and Pritzker. Not because they’re rich, but despite their wealth.


We thought they were the best candidates in their respective primaries. But as we watched the campaigns play out over the last year, we were as disheartened as anybody by how their enormous wealth overwhelmed all else.


You couldn’t watch a Bulls game or a rerun of “Frasier” on TV in the last few months without being swamped by ads showing Rauner and Pritzker trying to act like regular people. TV ads — and robo calls and relentless social media — are the heart and soul of modern elections, where there are no longer armies of precinct captains to drive old people to the polls.

To his credit, Pritzker wants to restrain billionaires like himself, but says he can’t “unilaterally disarm” before the November general election. He says he favors campaign finance reforms that, at the very least, include a more generous system of public funding of elections. It is a travesty that most candidates today, other than the super-wealthy, spend more time courting potential donors than meeting with average voters.


Campaign finance reform is probably too late for November, and plenty of pundits predict Rauner and Pritzker will burn through $300 million when all is said and done. They will likely break the national record of $280 million set in the 2010 California race for governor.


But something’s got to be done if we are to preserve even a semblance of real democracy.


We favor a system of small matching public donations — say $600 in public funds for every $100 raised privately — to make elections at least nominally more competitive, financially speaking. That also would encourage candidates to raise money by going out among ordinary voters — and maybe listening to their concerns — rather than hole up in a back office calling union leaders and the rich.


This is not pie-in-the-sky stuff. Public campaign financing, in various forms, has been applied successfully in at least 25 states. In Maine, to take one of the more extreme examples, qualified candidates fund their campaigns entirely with public funds, removing the need for fundraising.


We understand the limits to any such solutions. Truly wealthy candidates, for one, will opt out of the public financing, if allowed, and continue to spend their tens of millions.


But it’s a step in the right direction. It feels a little more like fairness. And it beats just hitting the “mute” button when another campaign commercial for a billionaire comes on.

Bruce Rauner isn’t the change Illinois voters want this time
Chicago Tribune
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Editorial  |   Editorial Board
Rauner, Bruce

Four years ago, the Illinois electorate, weary of bad policies that had put the state deep in debt, decided to evict a sitting governor and take a chance on a super-rich political neophyte. Anything, they figured, had to be better than another term for incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn, who had proved supremely unsuited to the task of bringing about needed changes.

Bruce Rauner benefited from that desire for change in 2014. He now stands to be destroyed by it.

The Republican governor has taken on House Speaker Michael Madigan and many of the state’s debilitating policies. But he has done so without much success. For two years, he and the General Assembly had not been able to agree on a budget, forcing the state to operate without one. Illinois has a $8.3 billion backlog of unpaid bills, the highest pension debt in the country and the lowest bond rating. A survey of CEOs ranked its business climate the third-worst of all the states.

So a lot of voters who were willing to support Rauner in hopes of forcing change are likely to vote for his Democratic opponent, fellow billionaire J.B. Pritzker, for the same reason — saying, in effect, “Why would we want more of this?”

Rauner will no doubt try to make the campaign about Madigan, as he did in the primary. But he’s given his constituents no reason to think he’ll fare any better against the real power in Springfield in the next four years. And he can’t even count on Republican voters to turn out for him, given that nearly half of them voted for his conservative primary challenger, state Rep. Jeanne Ives.

Pritzker’s unwillingness to take on Madigan may very well mean that if he wins, the speaker will continue to have his way. But some voters may figure if electing a Madigan nemesis didn’t work, electing a Madigan friend might. Rauner had his chance, and he probably won’t get another.

Steve Chapman, a member of the Tribune Editorial Board, blogs at www.chicagotribune.com/chapman.


Buildup to fall showdown begins: Rauner calls Pritzker 'corrupt insider,' Pritzker labels Rauner 'failure'
Chicago Tribune
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Editorial  |   Editorial Board
Candidates--Statewide (12)

Illinois’ general election campaign for governor kicked off Wednesday where Tuesday’s primary results ended, with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic nominee J.B. Pritzker lobbing attacks and launching ads against each other.

Rauner, who barely staved off primary challenger Jeanne Ives, accused Pritzker of being a “corrupt insider who’s a tax dodger and machine candidate.” Pritzker, who handily won a multicandidate race, accused Rauner of being a divisive “failure” during his first term.

Pritzker coasted through his primary with the help of his personal wealth and Democratic enthusiasm showing itself at the polls. Rauner, too, used his personal wealth, but to overcome enthusiasm for Ives, a three-term House lawmaker from Wheaton.

Spending tens of millions of dollars on TV ads and building out a statewide field organization, Pritzker captured 45 percent of the vote and won 98 of the state’s 102 counties, easily overcoming state Sen. Daniel Biss of Evanston with 27 percent and Kenilworth developer Chris Kennedy with 24 percent. Biss and Kennedy each won a pair of Downstate counties.

More than 1.27 million votes were cast in the Democratic governor primary. That's more than 2 1/2 times the total in the 2014 primary, which featured few strong races. But Tuesday's Democratic total even exceeded the 960,000 ballots cast in the 2010 primary when then-Gov. Pat Quinn battled a challenge from then-Comptroller Daniel Hynes.

Pritzker also used his money to assist Chicago ward organizations, including many in African-American neigborhoods, to counter Kennedy’s efforts to gain support there. He had emphasized the historic involvement of his uncle, President John F. Kennedy, and his father, U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, in the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

The election results show Kennedy struggled to get more than 20 percent in Chicago’s majority-black wards. Pritzker had the edge in all but one of them, collecting more than 60 percent of the vote in a majority of them. In the end, Pritzker held the advantage in 33 wards and Kennedy in four wards. Biss led in 13 wards, particularly those on the North and Northwest sides in growing progressive or gentrifying areas.

The Republican primary for governor told a far different story.

Rauner got 51 percent of the more than 700,000 GOP ballots cast for governor, and with nearly all precincts counted won by fewer than 20,000 votes — or less than two votes a precinct across the state. Ives got 49 percent, winning at least 38 counties.

The challenger took the traditional Republican collar counties of DuPage, Kane, Will and McHenry, critical places Rauner will need for support in the fall. Already, the area looked problematic for the general election. All those counties except McHenry backed Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016 despite their longtime GOP leanings. Rauner won his home of Lake County — also won by Clinton in 2016 — by only 1,200 votes. Rauner took Sangamon County, the home of state government, by fewer than 1,100 votes despite the raft of workers who serve under him.

Turnout was down from the nearly 840,000 votes cast in 2014, which featured a competitive GOP primary for governor that Rauner won. Tuesday’s total also was down from the 783,000 ballots in another battle for the nomination in 2010, won by state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington.

Now, Pritzker and Rauner begin a race expected to easily shatter Illinois campaign spending records and possibly make a run at the national mark. Both candidates enter a nearly eight-month general election campaign needing to unify their respective parties following bruising primary campaigns. And Rauner and Pritzker also will compete for independent voters, with the suburbs once again expected to be a battleground as they were in 2014. Back then, Rauner narrowly defeated Quinn.

To some extent, Rauner’s task is the more daunting. It’s difficult for a Republican to win statewide in Democrat-leaning Illinois, and this fall is a midterm election in which Trump remains deeply unpopular here. In 2014, Rauner spent $65.3 million and defeated Quinn by just 4 percentage points.

On Wednesday, Rauner traveled to Ives’ home turf for a campaign event at a manufacturing plant on the outskirts of DuPage and Kane counties. One plant worker said employees had been ordered to attend, and were made aware that they’d be part of campaign photos and videos.

Rauner, who said he had not spoken with Ives, did not outline a specific plan for how he would reach out to her supporters other than to say that he was traveling to Rockford, Moline, Chicago and Springfield and would meet with “leaders all over.”

“I want to listen to their ideas. I want to find common ground on the issues that divide us,” Rauner said. “Most importantly, I want to bring us together on the issues that unite us.”

The governor angered conservative voters with his approval of bills to expand abortion, immigration and transgender rights. He said the message he received from the contentious primary was that “there are many issues that are very emotional and, frankly, very divisive.

“And I respect people on both sides of many of those issues,” he continued. “I personally don’t focus on social issues. They divide us when we need to be united to fix our economic problems. I focus on what unites us — more jobs, lower taxes and ending the corruption through term limits.”

Ives appeared Wednesday on the WIND-AM 560 radio show of her chief political ally, Dan Proft, but indicated no desire to heal any wounds.

“Gov. Rauner can talk to himself in the mirror and look at himself and decide whether or not he’s proud of what he’s done all around, from his governorship to the way that he ran his campaign,” said Ives, who reiterated that she would vote for Rauner in the fall. “I really don’t care to say anything to the governor at this point, quite frankly.”

Rauner’s battle with the right may not have ended on Tuesday night. State Sen. Sam McCann, a Republican from Plainview in west central Illinois, is considering an independent bid. McCann opted not to seek re-election to the Senate.

General elections usually are a referendum on the governor. That’s where Rauner will have work to do after nearly four years in office marked by ideological strife — and a record-setting budget impasse — in battling Democrats who control the state legislature.

But Rauner is trying to shift the contest from a referendum on his leadership to the leadership of Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, the Southwest Side lawmaker who has run the chamber for 35 of the past 37 years and also heads the state Democratic Party.

“I am the one person who can beat J.B. Pritzker and Madigan, and I will beat J.B. Pritzker and Madigan,” the Republican governor said during a campaign stop last week.

Throughout the primary campaign, Rauner sought to damage Pritzker through ads linking him to imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Madigan. The Chicago Tribune reported that in November 2008, Pritzker was caught on federal wiretaps asking Blagojevich to appoint him state treasurer and strategizing with the soon-to-be-arrested governor on who to appoint to President-elect Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat. Pritzker used blunt terms.

Pritzker also sought to defend offshore holdings as part of his long-standing philanthropy despite allegations from his opponents that he was using them to try to avoid taxes. And he was attacked for disconnecting toilets at a Gold Coast mansion to gain a reduction in his property assessment.

Pritzker’s theme in taking on Rauner is to label him as a failure. At a Wednesday news conference, Pritzker and others used the term “failure” or “failed” at least 16 times as they held signs and stood behind a lectern that referred to a website “RaunerFailedMe.”

Pritzker said Rauner’s lengthy budget impasse shred a variety of social service safety net programs. The Democrat also has called out Rauner for “fatal mismanagement” over the Legionnaires’ disease-related deaths at a state veterans home in Quincy.

“That is what failure looks like. And when a governor fails, real people get hurt. When a governor fails, real people feel pain. When a governor fails, those who can least afford it so often pay the price,” Pritzker said after greeting Red Line commuters on the South Side.

Pritzker said Rauner has sought to divide Illinoisans along regional and partisan lines. Referring to the GOP primary results, Pritzker said the governor has actually done the opposite. “What Bruce Rauner has amazingly done is brought Illinois together because no matter who you are, no matter where you live, no matter what political party you belong to, it is clear Bruce Rauner is a failure and four years of failure is enough.”

The ultimate battle will be fought as a cash war. It’s questionable whether the race will top the nation’s most expensive governor’s race, the 2010 California contest that saw former Gov. Jerry Brown defeat former Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman. About $280 million was spent.

But the spending in Illinois already has been significant.

In December 2016, Rauner, a private equity investor, put $50 million into his early re-election campaign as “seed money” with promises of more to come. That brings Rauner’s self-funding to $95 million. Then in May 2017, billionaire Citadel hedge fund founder and CEO Ken Griffin added another $20 million to the Republican governor’s campaign. It is believed to be the largest single outside donation directly to a political candidate.

Pritzker, whose worth is estimated at $3.5 billion by Forbes, also has used his deep pockets, putting $69.5 million into his primary campaign — an Illinois record for self-funding by a candidate.

Chicago Tribune’s Kim Geiger contributed.


Twitter @rap30

Hey voters, where were you?
Chicago Tribune
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Letter to Editor  |   Mark Zavagnin
Election Issues (not candidates) (39)

I continue to be amazed at voter turnout every time Illinoisans go to the polls. It is clear that we, as voters, are our own worst enemies. We live in a bankrupt state with a very bleak future, and still, the majority of registered Illinois voters forego their right to make a difference. At last count, there were just about 8 million registered voters in Illinois, and yesterday approximately 2 million Illinois residents voted in the Democratic/Republican gubernatorial primary — that’s right around 25 percent of all registered voters.


Based on that percentage of voter turnout, you would think we have no worries as Illinois residents. I read and hear daily about the dysfunction of Illinois government. I constantly hear complaints about a governor who is out of touch, the leader of the Democratic Machine who has overstayed his welcome, and a state so bankrupt that we are losing citizens daily. And our response as citizens is 25 percent voter turnout.


So the next time you hear a fellow Illinoisan complaining about the cesspool that is the state of Illinois, I challenge you to ask that person if he or she voted in the 2018 primary. If they respond no, then your response should simply be, “Quit complaining and thanks for being a drain on our state.”


In November, we will have the distinct privilege of voting for one of two incredibly wealthy men to lead our state. One who has misled his constituents and even lied to Cardinal Blase Cupich, and another who has been anointed the man to wash Messiah Michael Madigan’s feet. Wow, what great choices we have. ... And yes, we thank all of you who stayed home on March 20 and played the blame game.


— Mark Zavagnin, La Grange

Morning Spin
Chicago Tribune
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Editorial  |   Editorial Board
Quinn, Governor (44)

Soon after it was clear he'd lost the Democratic attorney general race, former Gov. Pat Quinn didn't say he would run for office again.

Quinn also didn't say he won't run for office again.

"I’m never going to quit," he told reporters Tuesday night. "I believe in petition passing. I believe in passing referendums.

"I really like the idea of having more referendums on issues that involve jobs and ethics in government and advancing workers’ rights and so on," said Quinn, 69. "So, I’ll probably focus a little more on petition and referendum. I’ve been doing that for quite a while, and I plan to keep on doing that until I don’t have any breath."

Quinn's unsuccessful attorney general bid means the only statewide office he hasn't sought is state comptroller.

For now, the former governor congratulated Democratic attorney general nominee Kwame Raoul, who will face Republican Erika Harold of Urbana in November.

"I think he’ll do a good job in the campaign and be a good attorney general," Quinn said. "I look forward to campaigning for him and definitely campaigning for J.B. Pritzker." (Christy Gutowski)

What's on tap

*Mayor Rahm Emanuel has no public events scheduled.

*Gov. Bruce Rauner will have a campaign event in Peoria, then attend an exhibit opening at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.

From the notebook

*Burke vs. Garcia part 2?: On Tuesday, Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia's candidate defeated state Rep. Dan Burke in a race seen as a test of the Burke family political dynasty

On Wednesday, Garcia was asked on WBEZ-FM's "Morning Shift" if he plans to get involved in City Council races next year.

"We're learning and incorporating the lessons of yesterday's victories," Garcia said. "There are many possibilities to elect new representatives to Chicago's City Council."

Garcia was asked directly if he was talking about Dan Burke's brother, longtime Ald. Edward Burke, who has controlled the 14th Ward as committeeman for 50 years and has been an alderman for 49 years.

"I'm talking about many incumbents who ought to be thinking about whether it might be time to move on," Garcia said.

The Tribune reported extensively on that possibility Monday.

What we're writing

*Rauner calls Pritzker "corrupt insider;" Pritzker labels Rauner "failure."

*Exclusive: Garry McCarthy, former top cop fired by Rahm Emanuel, details why he’s challenging him for Chicago mayor. He announced via video.

*Former campaign worker sues Madigan fund, Democratic Party in sexual harassment case.

*Mapping Pritzker's dominant night and Rauner's close call.

*After primary defeat, Berrios' days as Cook County Democratic chairman may be numbered.

*Democrat Marie Newman posts concession to U.S. Rep. Lipinski on social media in quiet end to tough primary race.

*Most Republican state lawmakers survive Proft-backed challengers, but he gets some wins too.

*Hultgren aide fired after teen says they had sexual encounter in car after meeting on Grindr.

*Metra board approves $29.4 million rehab for South Side repair facility.

*Elon Musk’s firm one of two chosen as finalists in competition to build O’Hare Express train.

*Roskam already calling for debates with Democratic challenger Sean Casten.

*Cronin: DuPage County Election Commission showed "incompetency" with election night delay.

*Bennett claims narrow victory, chance to take on U.S. Rep. Schneider.

What we're reading

*The Weeknd, Bruno Mars, Jack White among headliners who will bring the noise to Lollapalooza.

*With NCAA success, Loyola now looks for gains off the court.

*New female polar bear at Lincoln Park Zoo has its mate "obsessed."

Follow the money

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

Beyond Chicago

*Zuckerberg says Facebook wants to fix "breach of trust" following Cambridge Analytica controversy.

*Fed hikes interest rate.

*Congress could be close to a spending deal.

*Austin bombing suspect dead.

The complicated answer to a simple question: Should marijuana be legal where I live?
Chicago Tribune
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Article  |   Dahleen GlantonContact Reporter
Drugs (32)

I have long had a complicated relationship with marijuana.

It has been decades since I held a joint between my fingers. (I’m not even sure that’s what it’s called these days.) But memories from my youth came pouring back to me on Tuesday as I pondered over the question on my ballot.

Voters in Chicago and surrounding areas were asked to weigh in on whether marijuana should be legalized in Illinois. But it didn’t stop with recreational users. The nonbinding referendum also asked us to consider whether people should be allowed to cultivate it, manufacture it and distribute it without retribution.

I was stumped, and it felt like deja vu.

I’d been asked that question once before, in the 1970s when I was about 20. I didn’t know how to answer it then, either. And it cost me something that was very important to me at the time.

It was during the final round of interviews for the University of Georgia homecoming court. (Ok, go ahead and laugh, but it was a big deal to this idealistic kid from a small town called Hogansville that no one had ever heard of.)

There I was with what I considered to be a momentous opportunity to make history as the first African-American woman to walk onto the football field at halftime wearing a crown. I had made it through the first round of interviews with the committee, and this was the final hurdle before making the court from which the queen ultimately would be chosen.

Even the judges seemed to be pulling for me as they presented the question, “Should marijuana be legalized?”

I froze in complete silence. I didn’t have a clue. I’d never even thought about it.

Then something silly poured out of my mouth. “Maybe,” I said.

And that quickly, I had blown my chance.

I have thought about that missed opportunity occasionally over the years. It is less important to me now that I didn’t make the homecoming court. I am much more focused on the importance of being able to think things over quickly when necessary and make a decision.

Nothing is more frustrating to me than people who can’t make up their mind. I would rather make a wrong decision and deal with the consequences than to be unable to make a decision at all.

That kind of confidence usually comes with maturity. But on Tuesday, the confidence wasn’t there when I needed it.

There is a lot to consider when talking about legalizing marijuana.

I have no issue with legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes. There is a growing body of research showing its health benefits, ranging from pain relief to controlling epileptic seizures.

Illinois was right to pass legislation two years ago decriminalizing possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana. Throwing someone into jail for having a small amount of the drug was overkill. The $100 to $200 fine — much like a traffic ticket — is fairer.

And for the record, I don’t judge adults who choose to smoke marijuana for recreational use even though it’s illegal.

So what is my concern?

I’m not entirely comfortable with approving the drug primarily as a source of tax revenue. And it was ironic to see the marijuana question appear on the ballot along with another question addressing opioid addiction.

While asking voters if we wanted to legalize marijuana, presumably to add more money to the state coffers, we were also asked if we wanted the state to spend more taxpayer dollars on opioid and heroin addiction treatment.

There are many studies that suggest recreational marijuana use is harmless. But other studies raise doubts. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, studies have found that marijuana use can lead to something called marijuana use disorder, which often takes the form of addiction.

According to the institute, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, recent data suggest that 30 percent of those who use marijuana may have some degree of marijuana use disorder. And people who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than adults.

The bottom line is that we don’t know definitively the long-term impact of marijuana use. Are we willing to risk contributing to another potential substance abuse problem before all the facts are in?

In Cook County, 63 percent of voters said “yes.” Only 37 percent said "no."

The only time I ever tried marijuana was in college, not on my own UGA campus but while visiting my best friend at a historically black college in south Georgia.

It was following a concert by Parliament-Funkadelic, where frontman George Clinton emerged from a makeshift spaceship as the band played “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker).” Clinton thought nothing of pulling out a joint onstage in front of hundreds of screaming college students and encouraging us to do the same.

So let’s just say on that particular night, I was feeling it. When people started passing around a joint, I put it to my mouth and took a puff. But honestly, I didn’t inhale. It was just for show.

Afterward, I was disappointed in myself for following the crowd. Marijuana always was readily available at parties at UGA, but I never once bowed to the peer pressure.

In college, I would laugh my guts out whenever friends would get together and watch “Reefer Madness,” the 1936 propagandist film that depicts young people going crazy after smoking marijuana.

It was ridiculous. And it still makes me chuckle when I watch it.

Still, I wore my anti-drug and anti-alcohol stance like a badge of honor. It was my way of saying, “I’m my own person. I make my own choices.”

I’m still no good at following the crowd. So on Tuesday, to the question of legalizing marijuana, I voted “no.”


Twitter @dahleeng

Whittling government excess? Start with the townships
Chicago Tribune
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Editorial  |   Editorial Board

A quick quiz about government spending: Should the purchase of a $329 Levenger purse be regarded as a legitimate government expense? What about bills for dinner and drinks at Hooters, or tickets to Disneyland? Or $349 for cashmere and cardigan sweaters, and a wool coat?


The answer is no way, underlined and in bold. Yet these were expenses charged to township credit cards at the Algonquin Township highway commissioner’s office, when it was led by Robert Miller, the Tribune’s Robert McCoppin reports. Those and other expenses paid for with taxpayer money under Miller’s watch are now the subject of a lawsuit filed by the current highway commissioner, Andrew Gasser, who is challenging their validity.


Misuse of taxpayer money happens everywhere in government, but township governments are especially prone to it. Why? Because when it comes to visibility, townships are the dark web of local government in Illinois. It’s a fair bet that most Illinoisans don’t know who their township officials are, let alone what townships do.


Here’s a primer. Township government in Illinois has three functions: repair of roads not maintained by other levels of government, functions related to property assessment, and financial assistance for the poor through services such as food banks. These are all functions that have merit — and that, as in many states, can be provided by municipal and/or county governments.


Here’s something else you probably didn’t know about township government. In Illinois, there are 1,428 townships — a big reason this state has more units of local government than any other. By contrast, many states don’t see a need for any township governments. In southern Illinois, 17 counties don’t use township government, and they get along just fine.


Townships are America’s oldest unit of government, predating the Declaration of Independence. They may have had utility in bygone days when riding a horse-drawn wagon to and from the county seat was a substantial journey. So we’re hard-pressed to find reasons why townships are needed today. That said, township officials desperate to keep their sometimes well-pensioned jobs are a well-organized lobby; when this editorial appears, we’ll expect the self-praising letters to the editor in 3 … 2 … 1 ...


Ever so slowly, local governments are realizing this expensive obsolescence, and opting to jettison their township bureaucracies.


One of the more recent, prominent examples is Evanston. In 2014, voters chose to abolish Evanston Township and have the city’s government take over what the township did. As a result, Evanston taxpayers saved nearly $800,000 the year after the township disbanded.


That should inspire other cities and counties to jump on the bandwagon. The alleged shenanigans in Algonquin Township, which the Tribune reports are under investigation by the McHenry County state’s attorney’s office, have led to legislation proposed in Springfield that would allow voters in McHenry County to decide through a referendum whether to eliminate their township governments.


Last year, residents of Cook County’s northwest suburban Hanover Township voted to eliminate the township’s road district and highway commissioner. In DuPage County, voters in Naperville and Lisle opted to combine their township road districts, a move that was estimated to save $800,000 to $1.4 million annually.


That’s progress, but it’s a trickle. It’s time township abolition became a torrent.

Can Rauner, Pritzker unite their parties? (Ives won't endorse governor)
Daily Herald
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Article  |   Marni Pyke
Candidates--Statewide (12)

State Rep. Jeanne Ives of Wheaton, who came within 4 percentage points of upsetting Gov. Bruce Rauner in the Republican primary, will vote for the incumbent -- but not endorse him, she said Wednesday.


In just four months, Ives amassed a conservative following across the state that delivered 341,825 votes to Rauner's 361,285. Rauner will need Ives' voters in the high-stakes Nov. 6 general election when he faces Democrat J.B. Pritzker, who claimed 46 percent of the votes cast in his six-way contest.


For now, Ives is promising to deliver only one vote.


"I'm a Republican. I'll vote for him, but I will not endorse him," she said. "I will not campaign for him. ... Maybe if he takes out a million-dollar ad buy and admits he lied about me, maybe we'll talk."

Rauner ads painted Ives as a patsy for powerful Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan. That cost her votes downstate, Ives said, although she and Madigan are the polar opposite politically.


Ives did prevail in the collar counties but received only 52 percent of the vote in her home county of DuPage.


Much of that can be attributed to the Republican establishment favoring the incumbent. County board Chairman Dan Cronin and at least 14 mayors -- from Hanover Park to Naperville -- endorsed Rauner.


While Ives won't tell her voters what to do, Republican state Rep. Peter Breen of Lombard, who endorsed Ives early in her campaign, said Rauner "is our party's nominee, and I support him 100 percent."


The focus now must be to keep Pritzker from winning, Breen said. "The people have spoken. They gave Gov. Bruce Rauner the edge. Rauner stated in the media that he's heard the message, and I believe he has."


Rauner defended the negative ads but promised to unify the fractured party.


"I want to find common ground and create bridges on issues that divide us," Rauner said during an appearance Wednesday at CartonCraft Inc. in St. Charles.


State Rep. David McSweeney of Barrington, who endorsed Ives, thinks Rauner has a long way to go to regain the trust of Republican voters. While he's concerned about Pritzker, McSweeney noted, "the ball is in Rauner's court to take actions to show that he actually wants conservative support."


Rauner and Pritzker campaigned largely against each other during their respective primaries, and if Wednesday's sniping is any indication, the road to November will be filled with grenades.


Rauner called the Democrat "corrupt," a "tax dodger" and a "machine politician."


Pritzker, with the aid of a "Rauner Failed" placard at a downtown stop, said the governor "has nothing to run on and that's one of the reasons he's going to run a completely negative campaign."


While Pritzker primary opponent Chris Kennedy on Wednesday pledged to support Pritzker, some supporters of the vanquished Democrats aren't as quick to come to Pritzker's side.


Jose Villalobos, an Elgin Township trustee who backed Biss, said "Pritzker will have to earn my vote. He has proved he can spend money to win. He still needs to prove he can earn the trust of the voters."


And Kennedy volunteer and Democratic committeewoman Tina Tyson-Dunne of Lombard said negative ads by Pritzker made her "uncertain I can ethically check that box in November. He will have to do a lot of work between now and then to gain my trust and respect."


Ives, who will lose her legislative seat in January, hopes her new fame will translate into votes for legislation she supports in the remaining months.


"I term-limited myself," Ives said, not indicating whether she'll run for office again. "I have no idea what the future brings."


Still, Ives wants something positive to emerge from her campaign and intends to focus on policies such as reforming property taxes and improving government accountability on a statewide level later on.


"I didn't get into the race to fall short -- I got in to win," she said. "Our team is very proud of the work we put in to come this close."

Illinois primary results show angry bases in both parties demanding more purity
Daily Herald
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Article  |   James Hohnann
Election Issues (not candidates) (39)

The Republican governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, held off a primary challenge Tuesday from a largely unknown state representative on his right by just three points. A seven-term Democratic congressman from the Chicago suburbs, Dan Lipinski, beat a first-time candidate challenging him from the left by less than two points, or about 1,500 votes. The powerful chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party went down, Bobby Kennedy's son lost in the Democratic gubernatorial primary and a slate of candidates endorsed by Bernie Sanders won.


The second primary night of the year, in the country's fifth most populous state, showcased how angry the electorate remains in this Age of Disruption. The political establishments in both parties face restive grass-roots activists who are demanding more fealty to orthodoxy, from abortion to immigration. Two years after Donald Trump slayed every avatar of the establishment on his path to the presidency, the machines continue to crumble, more dynasties are ending and each party is becoming increasingly tribal.


Rauner lost support from the religious right by expanding access to abortion for Medicaid recipients last September. The governor also angered the nativists who are ascendant in the GOP by signing a bill that prohibits cops from detaining people they suspect of being undocumented immigrants without a warrant. "He has betrayed, literally, the core values of the Republican platform," challenger Jeanne Ives said in her stump speech.


Lipinski earned the enmity of women's groups by refusing to budge from his staunchly anti-abortion views. He opposed Obamacare, supported a 20-week ban on abortions and voted for religious freedom bills that many liberals see as giving license for discrimination against the LGBT community. Challenger Marie Newman, who has a transgender daughter, referred to Lipinski as a "Trump Democrat." "I know what's in his heart, and it's called hate," she said.

NARAL Pro-Choice America and Emily's List went all in for Newman and a few of the incumbent's liberal House colleagues campaigned against him, including Rep. Jan Schakowsky from a nearby district. Lipinski was dragged across the finish line by a field program paid for by Susan B. Anthony List. The anti-abortion group waded into a Democratic primary for the first time in a decade and flooded the district with 70 canvassers for the final four days.


• Turnout statewide surged among Democrats but was lackluster on the Republican side. About twice as many Democrats voted as Republicans. It's another proof point of an enthusiasm gap that continues to benefit the left as the midterms approach.


• Rauner's close call is reminiscent of what happened in Virginia last June to Ed Gillespie. The former chairman of the Republican National Committee only beat firebrand Corey Stewart in the GOP primary by one point, despite a massive fundraising advantage and overwhelming institutional support. The unexpected vulnerability foreshadowed Gillespie's struggles to unite the right in the fall.


It's bigger than social issues. Illinois didn't have a budget for two years and its credit rating got downgraded to nearly junk status when Rauner was unable to cut a deal with the Democrats who control the state legislature. Just as national Republicans use Nancy Pelosi as a foil, the governor has tried to blame all his problems on Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan.


It has not worked. Polls show Rauner is about as popular in his state as Trump, who lost the Land of Lincoln by 17 points in 2016. "Ives embraced Trump as part of her campaign, while Rauner said he and the president are not 'particularly close,'" The Post's Amber Phillips notes.


Seeing internal polls that showed him in trouble, Rauner last week decided to veto a gun-control compromise bill and announced it on conservative radio in the more rural and conservative downstate Illinois. He also tried to attack his opponent from the right on television, which didn't pass the laugh test and likely elevated her profile. National Review declared Tuesday that " Rauner Deserves to Lose."


"To those of you around the state who wanted to send me a message, let me be clear: I have heard you," Rauner said in a victory speech, which began hours later than planned on account of the photo finish.


• Like Ives against Rauner, Newman channeled the anger of the liberal base against Lipinski -- sometimes caustically. Even as the numbers moved against her Tuesday night, for instance, she declined to concede. She told her supporters that she "would like Mr. Lipinski to have a very painful evening, so we're going to wait."


The labor unions stuck with Lipinski because he's been an ally, and most of the business community backed him because he's brought home the bacon.


But make no mistake: The congressman's narrow win is not a vindication of his style of politics.It's a Pyrrhic victory that shows an era coming to an end. In the last round of reapportionment, the district was carefully drawn to include heavily Catholic suburbs so that Lipinski could hold the seat -- which he inherited from his father, Bill, who held it for 22 years until 2005. It's easy to see him retiring rather than face an even bigger onslaught from a stronger challenger in 2020.


Outside of ruby red states like West Virginia and North Dakota, the Blue Dogs have become an endangered species. Even then, Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., won the special election last December by promising to protect the Affordable Care Act and speaking out against a 20-week abortion ban.


• A Pew Research Study, which coincidentally was published Tuesday, highlights the degree to which the two parties continue a seismic, long-term sorting out: "The share of Democratic voters describing their political views as liberal has increased steadily since 2000. Currently, nearly half of Democratic and Democratic-leaning registered voters (46%) say they are liberal, while 37% identify as moderates and 15% say they are conservatives. A decade ago, more Democrats described their views as moderate (44%) than liberal (28%), while 23% said they were conservative ... Conservatives have long constituted the majority among Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters. Roughly two-thirds of Republicans (68%) characterize their views as conservative, while 27% are moderates and 4% are liberals. While there has been little change in Republicans' self-described ideology in recent years, the share calling themselves conservatives rose from 58% in 2000 to 65% eight years later."


College graduates, women, minorities and millennials continue moving toward Democrats while Republicans consolidate gains among less-educated whites, especially men. Pew, with a survey sample of 10,000 Americans, found that 56 percent of women identify with the Democrats, up four points from 2015; 58 percent of college graduates affiliate with Democrats, the highest number recorded since 1992; and 59 percent of millennials lean Democratic, compared with 48 percent of both Generation Xers and baby boomers.

• Lipinski is now virtually assured reelection because the only Republican who ran is a Holocaust denier who has been involved in anti-Semitic and racist groups since the 1970s. The Illinois GOP and the National Republican Congressional Committee both disavowed their nominee, Arthur Jones, and said he will get no support.


There were five other results in Illinois that ought to scare entrenched establishmentarians in both parties:


1.) Voters reject machine-style politics


It won't get much coverage outside the Windy City, but voters resoundingly rejected Chicago-style machine politics. The chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party, who has long been one of the most powerful figures in the state, lost reelection to another term as county assessor. To give you a sense of what a huge deal this is, the Chicago Tribune is treating Joe Berrios's downfall as the biggest story of the night. It's the banner headline across the top of Tuesday morning's front page.


The party boss got a dismal 34 percent of the vote: "The momentum for [Fritz] Kaegi, a mutual fund asset manager from Oak Park, was built on his pledge to make the property tax assessment system fairer," Hal Dardick, Ray Long and Joe Mahr report. "That theme was bolstered by 'The Tax Divide,' a series by the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica Illinois that found assessments under Berrios shifted an outsize portion of the property tax burden from the wealthy to the poor, with minority communities being hit particularly hard. Kaegi also railed against the 'Democratic Machine' ... pointing to Berrios' history of taking campaign contributions from property tax appeal attorneys who seek reductions in assessments from both his office and the Board of Review where he was previously a commissioner. He also pointed to Berrios' hiring of relatives and friends."


The Daley machine that Milton Rakove so vividly chronicled in his 1976 classic book "Don't Make No Waves" is no more. "The old machine style is no match for a campaign powered by the people of Cook County," Kaegi said in a triumphant victory speech Tuesday night.


2.) Tuesday was a good day for self-funders


J.B. Pritzker, a billionaire heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune, spent $70 million to win the Democratic primary for governor. Rauner, a longtime private equity executive, has already pumped $50 million of his own money into getting reelected. Their combined wealth guarantees that the general will be one of the most expensive races of 2018, if not ever. The Daily Herald frames it as a "CASH OF THE TITANS" on Tuesday morning's front page: "Multimillionaire will face multibillionaire in November's election."


3. But it was a bad day for political dynasties


Pritzker was the front-runner to win the six-way Democratic primary, but his 20-point margin of victory was unexpectedly huge. Chicago developer Chris Kennedy, the son of the martyred Robert F. Kennedy, entered the contest to great fanfare and waged an aggressive campaign, but he only managed to garner 24 percent. His failure comes two years after the son of a president and the wife of a president went down in flames to Trump.


4. Another humiliation for Pat Quinn


The former Democratic governor lost to Rauner in 2014. He made a comeback bid by running for attorney general. But he lost in the primary to state Sen. Kwame Raoul. Some guys just don't know when to hang it up. Quinn was a particularly ineffective governor, and his loss is another data point to underscore the hostility toward the powers that be.


5. Bernie is getting another ally in Congress


Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, a hard-left liberal who almost toppled Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2015, easily won the primary to succeed retiring Rep. Luis Gutiérrez in a heavily Hispanic district. Garcia supported Sanders's 2016 campaign, and the Vermont senator returned the favor by flying in to stump with him. Garcia pulled 66 percent in a three-way primary. "What has made Chuy's campaign so powerful is that he's not just working hard to win an election, he's building a grass-roots movement to support a slate of exciting new candidates who are taking on the political establishment," Sanders said in a statement.


The senator noted that Garcia ran on a slate with several other candidates who also won, including 28-year-old Alma Anaya, who ran to replace him on the Cook County Board of Supervisors; Beatriz Frausto-Sandoval, an immigration attorney running to serve as a Cook County circuit court judge; and 26-year-old high school counselor Aaron Ortiz, who won a state House primary. Sanders, mulling another run for president, met with all of them in Chicago a few weeks ago. "No one person can take on the political elite on their own. We must stand together," he said. "That is exactly what Chuy and his slate of candidates did today."

Madigan is the mess
Daily Herald
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Letter to Editor  |   Richard DiBattista
Madigan, Michael--State House, 22

Until the Democrats find a way to get rid of Michael Madigan and prevent that kind of political power given to one individual from happening again, the mess in Illinois will not get any better no matter who gets elected. Michael Madigan will still run the state, and we will still be blaming the governor for all the problems in Illinois.


Richard DiBattista

Mount Prospect


Takeaways from Illinois primary: Big money, party splits
Effingham Daily News
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Article  |  
Candidates--Statewide (12) , Rauner, Bruce

Illinois voters added their voices to the 2018 primary season, with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner surviving an unexpectedly stiff primary challenge from the right and a suburban Chicago congressman, Dan Lipinski, narrowly dispatching a Democratic challenger fueled by the party's liberal wing.

Takeaways from the nation's second statewide primary in President Donald Trump's midterm election year:

Rich candidates

The general election for governor will pit one wealthy businessman against another. The pair's combined personal spending on the race tops $120 million already.

Rauner, who's just shy of billionaire status, put more than $50 million toward winning his primary by fewer than 4 percentage points. Democrat J.B. Pritzker, an heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune, spent about $70 million to win 46 percent of the vote in a six-candidate primary.

Rauner, who's battled the Democratic legislature at every turn, offered his fall campaign theme Tuesday night by inviting support from anyone "disgusted by our system of corruption." Pritzker countered by embracing the populist liberalism that now animates the Democratic base; he promised to put "Illinois back on the side of working families" while "fighting for unions ... dreamers and immigrants ... women ... and black and brown communities."

National Democrats view Illinois as one of its best chances to flip a Republican-held governor's office four years after Rauner joined fellow Republicans Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Larry Hogan of Maryland to claim governorships in states typically dominated by Democrats. Baker and Hogan boast stronger job approval ratings than does Rauner.

Democratic groundswell

With 94 percent of precincts reporting, 1.2 million Democratic votes had been cast in the governor's race, compared to 655,000 for Republicans — an advantage that feeds Democratic hopes of a national wave election in November.

For comparison, in 2010, the year of a Republican general election sweep, the Democratic advantage was 959,521 to 783,060. In 2006, the last time the Democrats flipped control of the U.S. House, Democrats outvoted Republicans in the Illinois primary 997,720 to 751,627.

Besides reclaiming the governor's mansion, Democrats hope the apparent enthusiasm gap helps their nominees in five GOP-held congressional districts in Illinois that are among the party's targets nationally. Democrats need to flip 24 Republican-held seats for a House majority.

2 divided parties

Illinois voters didn't settle the ideological battles within the two major parties — they simply illuminated them, even with the impressive turnout among Democrats.

In the GOP governor's primary, state Rep. Jeanne Ives hammered Rauner for his moderate stances on immigration, abortion and LGBTQ rights. That raises doubts about Rauner's ability to build a winning coalition in a Democratic-leaning state. He gave a nod to his weaknesses on the right, saying he's "heard" from "those of you who wanted to send me a message" and asking them to "focus on issues that unite us: reducing taxes, growing jobs and reducing corruption."

The question is whether that approach, basically repeating his 2014 pitch as a Chamber of Commerce problem solver, can be enough without the national GOP wave that aided his initial election.

Perhaps Rauner's best comfort is in his Democratic rival's primary struggles. Despite his spending advantage, Pritzker couldn't manage a majority after a primary race that featured his two closest competitors calling him a "fraud" and a "liar." And Pritzker's pledges to working families notwithstanding, the liberal groups and activists that have propelled the anti-Donald Trump resistance movement lined up mostly behind the second- and third-place finishers, Daniel Biss and Chris Kennedy.

Pritzker must hope that the most outspoken liberal branches of the party follow the lead of Indivisible Chicago, the local chapter of one of the leading national grassroots organizations that formed after Trump's election to resist his agenda. The group called for party unity Tuesday, called Pritzker's platform "progressive" and said he "represents a significant upgrade" over Rauner. Perhaps not a full-throated endorsement, but a first step toward what Pritzker needs.

Endangered species

Illinois' top-billed congressional primary wasn't in a battleground district that will determine House control in November; it was a safe Democratic seat in greater Chicago where seven-term incumbent Dan Lipinski, part of the dwindling Blue Dog caucus of moderate and conservative Democrats, nipped his more liberal challenger, political newcomer Marie Newman, by about 2 percentage points.

Lipinski, whose father held the 3rd Congressional District seat before him, had broad union support and nominal backing from national Democratic bosses including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. But that didn't play with Democratic voters increasingly displeased with Lipinski's opposition to abortion rights and same-sex marriage, his vote against the 2010 health care law, and his late-breaking support for legislation to shield certain young immigrants called "Dreamers" from deportation.

Newman was endorsed by Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator and erstwhile presidential candidate, and liberal groups including the women's advocacy organization Emily's List, local Indivisible chapters and Our Revolution, the offshoot of Sanders' 2016 campaign.

Even with Lipinski surviving, the fact that Newman battled him to a near draw will embolden liberals in other Democratic primary battles and in the larger struggle for party identity.

After Illinois Primary, Public Option Takes Shape For November Elections
Forbes Online
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Commentary  |   Bruce Japsen , Contributor
Governor (44) , Medicaid, Managed Care Ives, Jeanne--State House, 42
A public option as an addition to subsidized individual coverage under the Affordable Care Act gained momentum Tuesday night after J.B. Pritzker won the Democratic gubernatorial primary in Illinois.

In the November general election, Pritzker will face embattled Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner who squeaked by his challenger in the GOP Primary, Illinois Rep. Jeanne Ives. With 90% of Republican votes counted, Rauner had 52% of the vote compared to Ives 48%.

Rauner has made strides to privatize Illinois’ Medicaid program by moving beneficiaries into managed care plans . That has benefited insurers including Molina Healthcare, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois and Wellcare Health Plans and its Harmony Health Plan.

The moves Rauner has made have been hailed by the health insurance industry, which is increasingly taking on a greater role across the country in managing Medicaid benefits for states. Part of this trend was fueled by the 32 states that opted to expand Medicaid coverage under the ACA.

But private insurers doing business in Illinois would gain some competition from a public option under Pritzker . The Democrat JB Pritzker’s public option would allow Illinois residents to buy into Medicaid coverage for the poor . “Let’s work toward universal healthcare by passing my plan for a public option,” JB Pritzker  said Tuesday night after running away with the Democratic primary. Pritzker is a billionaire businessman and brother of former U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, who served in the last term of Barack Obama’s White House.

Pritzker bases his plan on current costs for a public option to Illinois taxpayers as “about $3,350 per year per adult and $2,108 per child for Medicaid.” A detailed actuarial analysis would be needed, Pritzker has said, and analysts say the federal government would likely have to sign off on it. Pritzker’s campaign sees it as a more realistic option for the financially strapped state than a taxpayer supported single-payer expansion of health benefits.

“As a Medicaid buy-in option, IllinoisCares would require Illinoisans who do not receive federal healthcare subsidies to pay premiums to cover the full cost of Medicaid coverage,” Pritzker’s public option proposal says. “As a result, there should be no additional cost to taxpayers for this program. Participants who qualify for ACA tax credits could use those to help pay for their premiums.”

Chesney wins state representative Republican primary, Schroeder wins District G seat
Freeport Journal Standard
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Article  |   Derrick Mason
Freeport Alderman-at-large Andrew Chesney appears to have won the 89th District state representative seat, with all precincts reporting unofficial results.

Chesney received 7,319 votes, while Stephenson County Board member Steve Fricke had 6,339. Chesney received about 54 percent of the votes.

“It was a team effort and we couldn’t have done it without them,” Chesney said. “We had a consistent message. We ran on the issues, conducted a clean campaign, and we’re really proud of it.”

The results do not include mailed absentee or grace-period votes. The official results will be available in 10 days.

Chesney is currently division sales manager at Seaga Manufacturing and chairman of the Stephenson County Republican Central Committee. He served as the chairman of the City of Freeport Managerial Form of Government Committee, the group that hired Freeport City Manager Lowell Crow and rewrote a number of city ordinances to reflect a new form of government. He has said previously that he does not believe Illinois’ taxes should be raised under any circumstances.

Fricke is a third-generation farmer, real estate agent and retired Freeport High School teacher. He received 3,221 votes within Stephenson County, compared to Chesney’s 2,799.

“There are 6,500 people that I greatly appreciate receiving a vote from,” Fricke said. “I’m disappointed with the outcome. I’m sorry to see that’s what we’re going to have, but I’m excited for the team that I had.”

Chesney will face Democrat Nicholas Hyde in the Nov. 6 general election. Hyde, who is from Galena, ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Stephenson County Board, District G

Andrew Schroeder defeated incumbent Gail Clore with 63 percent of the vote. Schroeder is a lieutenant on the Freeport Police Department, serving as the head of the detective bureau. He served six years with the Army National Guard and has worked in law enforcement for 19 years.

Schroeder received 373 votes to Clore’s 219.

Clore was appointed to the board in June 2013 and has served as the chairwoman of the Finance Committee since 2016. She is the president of Cornerstone Credit Union.

Derrick Mason: 815-232-0133; derrick.mason@journalstandard.com; @derrickhmason

Tools for battling e-waste Landfill ban, recycling and “right to repair”
Illinois Times
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Article  |   Karen Ackerman Witter
EPA (41)

Electronic waste, commonly called e-waste, is a huge issue worldwide. In 2016, 44.7 million metric tones (49.3 million U.S. tons) of e-waste were generated worldwide and only 20 percent was recycled, according to the 2017 Global E-waste Monitor produced by a partnership among the United Nations University, International Telecommunication Union and the International Solid Waste Association. This is equivalent to almost 4,500 Eiffel Towers. The amount of e-waste generated globally is projected to grow to 52.2 metric tonnes by 2021. This comprehensive report says the growing amount of e-waste is the result of several trends:


• The global information society is growing at great speed, characterized by an increasing number of users and rapid technological advances that are driving innovation, efficiency and social and economic development.


• By 2017, close to half the world’s population uses the internet, and most people in the world have access to mobile networks and services.


• Many people own more than one information and communication technology device, and replacement cycles for mobile phones, computers and other devices are becoming shorter.


• Disposable incomes in many developing countries are increasing, and a growing global middle-class is able to spend more on electrical and electronic equipment, which results in more e-waste.

With our insatiable appetite for the latest electronics, computers, televisions, mobile phones and other devices, consumers toss aside their “old” devices in order to have the newest technology. According to a USEPA report, 142,000 computers and over 416,000 mobile devices were discarded every day in the U.S. in 2010.


To address the growing problem of e-waste, 25 states and the District of Columbia had passed and implemented some type of electronics recycling legislation as of 2015. According to the USEPA, 41.7 percent of “selected consumer electronics” were recycled in the U.S. in 2014. The rest was trashed – in landfills or incinerators, according to a USEPA report.


In Illinois the Electronic Products Recycling and Reuse Act took effect in September 2008. Among other provisions, this act banned 17 electronic products from landfills when taken

out of service from a residence in Illinois, effective Jan. 1, 2012. At the time, it was the most extensive ban in the country. These banned items include:


Cable receivers, computers (desktop, laptop, netbook, notebook, tablet), digital converter boxes, digital video disc players, digital video disc recorders, electronic keyboards, electronic mice, facsimile machines, monitors, portable digital music players, printers, satellite receivers, scanners, small scale servers, televisions, videocassette recorders, video game consoles.


The Illinois EPA 2015 Electronics Recycling Report to the Governor and the General Assembly reported that 69.9 million pounds of electronics were collected in 2014, with televisions making up the largest portion (39 million pounds).


In addition to responsible recycling, there is also a movement to make it easier to repair electronics. Numerous states, including Illinois, have introduced “right to repair” legislation, to provide the right of consumers and smaller independent repair businesses to have access to instructions, parts and tools necessary to repair electronics. If passed into law, this type of legislation would require manufacturers of electronic equipment to sell repair parts and release service information to consumers and independent repair shops.


“I love to see repair being highlighted and encouraged, because all too often in our culture, we’re trained to replace rather than repair when we experience minor damage or performance issues,” says Joy Scrogum, sustainability specialist at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, which is part of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Large Illinois counties see spike in voters, but turnout remained low overall
Illinois Watchdog.Org
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Article  |   By Cole Lauterbach
Demographics, Census, Statistics , Election Issues (not candidates) (39) , Governor (44)
Non-presidential primaries in Illinois don’t typically garner much enthusiasm, but voters bucked that trend Tuesday.

Nearly one in four registered voters in Illinois’ 10 largest counties cast a ballot yesterday. That’s far more than the number who went to the polls in 2014.

Most notably, Cook County saw a spike in participation from 2014. Some 441,732 ballots were cast yesterday, a participation rate of 29 percent. The county had a 16 percent participation rate in 2014.

Of the largest counties in Illinois, St. Clair saw the lowest participation rate, at 17 percent.

In Champaign County, more than 31,000 voters cast ballots. County Clerk Gordy Hulten said his office had never seen numbers like that before.

“Champaign County’s total turnout for yesterday was a record for us by a significant margin,” he said. “The previous midterm primary, we’d had about 23,000 votes.”

Democratic ballots largely accounted for the surge in numbers.

“Both parties had really strong turnout, but Democrats had about double their previous ballots cast,” Hulten said.

This is consistent with early voting results. A number of county clerks reported significant surges in Democratic early or absentee votes.

Democratic candidate for governor Daniel Biss beat out overall winner J.B. Pritzker in Champaign County.

For all of the significance of record-breaking voter attendance, the state still saw far more potential voters sit out the process. With a total voting-age population of more than 7.1 million in those counties, about one in twelve people voted Tuesday.

Lawmaker wants to change 1965 state law that caps health club costs in Illinois
Illinois Watchdog.Org
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Article  |   By Greg Bishop
Attorney General (6) , Health (49) Andrade Jr., Jaime--State House, 40
A state representative with a bill to increase the cap on annual gym membership fees says he’s open to lifting the cap altogether.

State Rep. Jaime Andrade, D-Chicago, said current law caps health club fees at $2,500 a year. That was enacted in 1965.

“$2,500 in 1965, according to present day value, is actually $20,000,” Andrade said.

He said existing law isn’t adjusted for inflation.

“Everything has gone up,” Andrade said. “You could have bought a [Ford] Mustang for $1,500 in 1965. A Mustang goes up to $85,000 … now.”

Andrade’s bill would increase the cap health clubs can charge to $6,500 a year. He said right now, club members are being nickeled and dimed for using a towel, for an extra spinning class, for daycare or access to a driving range, when they’d rather have that all included in their membership.

“The facilities, they want to accommodate, but they say ‘we can’t, we can’t do it because we’re hampered by this cap that was introduced in 1965’,” Andrade said.

With the proliferation of boutique fitness facilities, and low-rate or no-contract health clubs, Andrade said he’s open to lifting that cap entirely and letting the free market decide.

“The way the current law is, it never took in the fact of inflation, and now the free market does more than enough to protect the consumer,” Andrade said.

The Illinois Attorney General is opposed to the measure increasing the cap, Andrade said, but the AG’s office has yet to respond to requests from Illinois News Network seeking comment.

The Illinois Chamber of Commerce supports House Bill 4275.

Democrats giddy about odds of retaking Illinois' top job
Joliet Herald News
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Article  |  
Candidates--Statewide (12) , Governor (44) , President (73) , Rauner, Bruce

CHICAGO – After Illinois’ primary, Democrats are giddy about their chances of reclaiming the governor’s office from a GOP incumbent who barely survived his own nomination fight.

Billionaire J.B. Pritzker received almost 575,000 votes on Tuesday, consolidating support from Democratic voters who turned out in midterm numbers not seen in more than a decade to defeat his closest rival by 20 points. Pritzker’s vote total was about 200,000 more than Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner received against a conservative state lawmaker who had huge disadvantages in fundraising and name recognition but still finished within 3 points of him.

Pritzker said the results are an indication of how motivated Democrats are across the U.S. since President Donald Trump was elected, and how unhappy people in Illinois are with Rauner’s leadership.

“I’ve been involved in politics a long time and I’ve never seen Democrats as enthusiastic as they are right now,” Pritzker said. “I think it means in the fall we stand a real good chance of beating Bruce Rauner.”

Pritzker, an heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune who already has put about $70 million into his own campaign, launched new campaign ads Wednesday blasting Rauner’s “four years of failure.” He also held an event with Illinois residents who said they’d been hurt by the more than two-year state budget crisis that resulted from disagreements between the first-term governor and Democratic leaders.

Rauner, a wealthy former private equity investor, made clear he won’t go down without a fight.

He launched his own ads Wednesday, using clips of Pritzker’s primary opponents blasting him as the “poster child for pay-to-play politics” and linking him to unpopular but powerful longtime Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.

“We’re the reformers. We’re for the people of Illinois,” Rauner said during a stop at a suburban Chicago business where he called Pritzker “a corrupt insider who’s a tax dodger” and who “works for the corrupt machine that’s controlled by Madigan.”

Rauner, 61, was one of a handful of Republican governors elected to lead Democratic-leaning states as part of a GOP wave four years ago. He won his first political office with promises to “shake up” the state with an anti-union, pro-business agenda including term limits on lawmakers and lower property taxes.

He also said he had “no social agenda,” helping him pick up support from independents and even some Democrats who hoped electing a businessman could solve some of Illinois’ deep financial problems.

But his efforts to pass a more business-friendly agenda were stymied by the Democratic-controlled Legislature. Illinois also racked up billions in unpaid bills and other debts during the nation’s longest state budget impasse, then was unable to stop lawmakers from passing an income tax increase as part of a deal to end the stalemate.

It was his approval of abortion and immigration legislation, however, that most angered the more conservative wing of his party and prompted state Rep. Jeanne Ives to launch a primary challenge.

She accused Rauner of betraying Republicans, and it appeared the two weren’t putting the bad blood behind them even after Rauner’s victory. In her concession speech Ives didn’t pledge to support Rauner in the general election or call for other Republicans to do so. As of midday Wednesday they had not spoken.

That leaves Rauner with an even more difficult climb to a second term, said Northwestern University political science professor Jaime Dominguez.

“The Republican Party is disenchanted right now,” he said. “They don’t have anything to show for having a Republican governor. And [Rauner] barely squeezed through just with Ives, so that doesn’t bode well.”

Pritzker, however, has his own vulnerabilities. During the primary the Chicago Tribune published wiretap audio of Pritzker talking with former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who’s now imprisoned for corruption. Rauner used the audio, which was captured by the FBI, in a barrage of anti-Pritzker ads.

Pritzker also has had to answer questions about his connections with overseas trusts in low-tax countries, though he maintains they’re focused on charitable giving and that he has no control over them.

Our college students are leaving Illinois in big numbers
LaSalle News Tribune
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Article  |  
Education--Higher (37)

Megan Carmean was one of the 31,477.

In 2016, the Leonore native left home to go away to college in Iowa. That same year, the number of Illinois residents enrolled in an out-of-state four-year institution was 31,477, the Illinois Board of Higher Education reports.

That number was 16,987 students in 2000. Illinois had the second greatest net loss of residents to other states’ colleges in 2016, the board reports.

Carmean, a sophomore, is studying nursing at Luther College in Iowa. She said she enjoys Iowa more than Illinois, and is not sure if she’ll come back after college.

“I like it up here as far as the atmosphere,” she said.

It depends on the job offers she gets after graduation, but she plans on staying around her current area, and she realizes that’s two years away.

When Mike Phillips went to college in the 1980s, it was much cheaper to stay in Illinois, the Illinois Valley Community College instructor said.

Phillips is on the Illinois Board of Higher Education Faculty Advisory Council, so he’s aware of how many students are leaving the state.

Cost is an issue

Addison Lijewski, a 2015 La Salle-Peru Township High School graduate, applied to the University of Missouri on a whim, but she said she ended up falling in love with the college.

And guess what? It was cheaper for her to attend the Missouri college as an out-of-state resident than it was for her to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as an Illinois resident.

Now that she’s a Missouri resident, her tuition, roughly $11,000, is cheaper than any four-year public Illinois college, according to CollegeIllinois.org.

Cost is a huge factor when it comes to these students leaving Illinois, Phillips said.

Students have the perception it’s no more or less expensive to attend an out-of-state college, Phillips said.

“These out-of-state universities have been actively recruiting Illinois students,” he said, referring to programs such as the Midwest Student Exchange Program, which gives students discounts to certain colleges.

St. Bede Academy senior Maggie Daluga was offered academic scholarships that will cut the tuition in half for both the colleges she’s considering: Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta or the University of Pittsburgh, the Princeton resident said.

She said her tuition at either college will be cheaper than it would be at the U. of I.

State problems create issues

Although the two-year budget impasse had immediate and longtime consequences, IVCC worked toward making sure students knew the college supported them. said IVCC President Jerry Corcoran.

When MAP grant funding from the state was uncertain, IVCC was one of a handful of community colleges to cover the costs for students, he said.

It will be a long time before the state can recover, but he said he’s optimistic for the future.

Rumors of colleges closing from the state budget stalemate, may have deterred students from staying in Illinois, Phillips said.

When students are searching for colleges to attend, they’re not going to attend a college they heard might possibly close, he said.

What problems come from them leaving?

There’s no data to support this, but Phillips said he worries that if a student is already thinking about going to Iowa instead of Illinois State University, the student probably wonders, ‘why should I go to IVCC?’

IVCC’s credits transfer just fine out of state, he said.

Many of the students who leave to get their four-year degree outside the state don’t come back, he said.

JP Perona, a 2012 St. Bede graduate from La Salle, said he recently was offered a job in Chicago, but he doesn’t see himself returning to live in the Illinois Valley. Perona attended the University of San Diego in California.

If we want our economy to grow, we’ve got to grow colleges because these institutions provide an economic base, Phillips said.

There’s a correlation between colleges losing financial support and seeing students leave the state, and keeping students in Illinois is an investment in the state’s future, he said.

When asked if this vast number of students leaving will have an effect on the local economy, La Salle-Peru Township High School superintendent Steven Wrobleski said this could affect our ability to find a qualified workforce, and he also mentioned “brain drain,” which is when educated or highly trained people leave particular areas.

Are there ways to combat the issue?

The council Phillips is on talks about fixing the problem, but the issue comes down to getting college funding back from the state, he said.

Many local students who left Illinois said their major or specific program they entered into was a deciding factor. Does state funding have anything do with this?

“As funding has been cut, universities have had to cut back on programs. Generally, they cut the size of programs,” Phillips said.

When programs get smaller, they are less able to market themselves and can have less appeal to students, which is difficult to change if funding stays low, he said.

“It results in the impression that programs do not exist, when, in many cases, they are just very small,” he said.

High schools look out for students

“Whatever is best for them, that’s what we want,” said St. Bede guidance director Theresa Bernabei.

The school looks out for what is best academically and financially for students.

“Our role in preparing and planning for college is to help students find what they consider to be the best fit for them academically, socially, emotionally, etc.” said Andy Berlinski, principal at Princeton High School.

Peru and DePue gain federal grant funds to battle floods
LaSalle News Tribune
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Article  |  
Floods (42)

Peru and DePue received more than $1 million in grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Peru received $365,428 in pre-disaster mitigation funds for the construction of a floodwall around its east wastewater treatment plant, and DePue received $687,062 for the floodwall and floodwater storage basement to protect its wastewater plant, according to a release from FEMA.

Both municipalities will contribute additional money to the projects. DePue will provide $76,340 for its floodwall and basin, and Peru will spend $121,809.

Study: Illinois home to highest overall tax burden in the nation
Madison County Record
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Commentary  |   by Vincent Caruso, Illinois Policy Institute
Taxes, misc. (89)
The plight Illinoisans face under the state’s immense tax burden is hardly a secret. But a recent study offers a sobering reminder of the degree to which Illinois’ steep tax bills dwarf those of other states.

A report issued March 13 by WalletHub, a personal finance service, measures the combined state and local tax burdens of all 50 states and Washington, D.C. The Land of Lincoln ranked 51st in terms of the severity of its overall tax burden. Adjusted for cost of living, Illinois’ overall burden placed 43rd out of 51.

According to the study, the effective state and local tax rate on an Illinois household earning the median U.S. income is 14.89 percent, the highest in the nation. A household earning the state median income pays $8,330 in taxes annually, not including federal taxes.

Average Illinoisan pays higher taxes than average resident of any other state in the Midwest

The study reveals a striking disparity between Illinois and other states in the region. Illinois’ tax burden far eclipses all other Midwestern states. For example, median households in Wisconsin, the second-most burdened Midwestern state, pay an annual $7,193 in state and local taxes. But most effective tax burdens in the region are lower still. Median households in each of Illinois’ neighboring states, with the exception of Wisconsin and Iowa, pay less than $6,000 annually, meaning the tax burden on median households is at least 39 percent higher in Illinois compared to most of its neighbors.

Taxes included in the study ran the gamut, from income taxes to excise taxes. But by far the most glaring costs for the Land of Lincoln are Illinois’ punishing property taxes. Illinoisans with a home worth the U.S. median value pay $4,288 in property taxes annually, according to the study. Isolating the property tax findings, only New Jersey ranked worse than Illinois.

WalletHub’s findings mirror those illustrated by a previous tax study the service conducted in 2017. However, it is important to note that WalletHub’s analysis utilized data from a study using Illinois’ now-expired 2011 income tax rate of 5 percent, rather than Illinois’ current rate of 4.95 percent.

Some lawmakers have floated the idea of amending the Illinois Constitution to turn the state’s flat income tax into a progressive tax. But these findings should give Illinoisans pause.

Advocates proclaim a progressive tax would make room for reduced rates for lower-income taxpayers. But this claim is in conflict with at least one proposal currently floating through Springfield. The progressive tax bill authored by state Rep. Robert Martwick, D-Chicago, would hike taxes on Illinoisans making as little as $17,300 annually.

Taxpayers have made clear that Illinois’ massive tax burden has all but pushed them to the brink. This fact is reflected grimly by the state’s four-year streak of population loss, which culminated in Illinois falling from fifth- to sixth-largest state in December 2017, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

Instead of saddling Illinoisans with higher taxes, lawmakers need to rein in the growth of government spending at the state and local levels. State Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park, and state Rep. Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee, have both filed constitutional amendments tying growth in state spending to growth in the state’s economy: SJRCA 21 and HJRCA 38. And there are many commonsense reforms state lawmakers could pursue to ease residents’ property tax burdens as well.

Relieving Illinoisans’ heartache begins with relieving their wallets from the effects of government overspending.

Here’s your chance to reshape Illinois politics
Ottawa Daily Times
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Article  |   Jim Nowlan
Redistricting (78)

You and I have an opportunity, right now, to help reshape Illinois politics. The issue is redistricting of state legislative and congressional districts in Illinois.


First, some background.


Our 50 states are responsible, respectively, for redistricting. In 1812, Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry approved boundaries for a state senate district that outlined a salamander. Voters in the tortuous, non-compact district did elect a solon favorable to Gerry’s party.

Thus, “gerrymander,” a term that lives in political infamy.


Drawing districts has always been about benefiting those who draw the maps.


Starting with the US Supreme Court case of Baker v. Carr (1962) and many since, states have been required to draw districts that are equal in population, and in one piece. The result has been that the majority party in a legislature has drawn districts that meet those criteria, but otherwise are often contorted, incomprehensible.


Even small counties and cities are split into multiple districts in the quest to create as many safe, secure districts as possible for the party in charge. The result of concentrating the majority party’s voters into safe districts is that minority party voters are necessarily also pushed together in fewer, but also safe from challenge, districts.


In safe districts, most elected lawmakers have little fear of challenge at November general elections, so often feel little need to be responsive to the concerns of voters of the other party.


Ironically, and this is a little difficult to follow, lawmakers in safe districts do tend to worry about challenges from within their own party in primary elections, generally from the Far Right for Republican lawmakers, and the Far Left for Dems.


The Left and Right of each party do not, respectively, constitute a majority of all voters, yet they often represent a majority of the smaller number of primary voters in their own party.


Thus, lawmakers tend to kowtow to the respective wings of their parties in order to avoid primary contests. The result is polarization, which often leads to gridlock.


A simpler way of saying this: The present process allows politicos to select their voters (by drawing lines to include voters desired and exclude those not), rather than allowing voters to select their lawmakers at elections.


But here come the guys (and gals) in white hats, riding to the rescue.


In the House, Rep. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria, has introduced a proposal to amend the Illinois Constitution. Spain would take redistricting away from self-interested lawmakers and give it to a bi-partisan commission of non-elected Dems, GOPers and Independents appointed by state Supreme Court justices.


In the other chamber, Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield, and Heather Steans, D-Chicago, have introduced the same proposal. (By the way, both Spain and Morrison are former students of mine: Ryan at the U of I and Julie at Knox College.)


Democratic Speaker of the House Mike Madigan will fight these proposals tooth and nail. Above all else, Madigan craves political control. If a Democrat is elected governor in November, that party would control the redistricting process after the 2020 Census.


But both Democrats as well as Republicans across the nation have come to see the process as unfair to voters. California and Arizona recently moved to the bipartisan commission approach, and Ohio just did so. Iowa has long had nonpartisan technocrats draw its lines.


I have promised Ryan that I would help see his proposal put onto the November ballot by the legislature, when you and I can decide the future of redistricting.


The 20 newspapers that carry this column cover all or big parts of most of the downstate Senate and House districts. If you concur with me on the need for this redistricting reform (and not everyone does), I ask you to consider the following simple steps:


1. Identify your senator and house members. At the bottom of the Illinois State Board of Elections homepage (http://www.elections.il.gov), find District/Official Search and follow the easy directions.

2. The site provides phone numbers but not email. Call to ask for his or her email address.

3. By email, ask the lawmakers if they will support the constitutional amendment proposal to reform redistricting (HJRCA 43).

4. Since Speaker Madigan will try to bottle up these proposals, ask your lawmakers if they will also vote to discharge the House and Senate proposals from those chambers’ rules committees, so they can be voted upon.

5. If within a week you receive no response to your emails, call their offices and politely request responses to your questions.

6. Then, please report responses to me at jnowlan3@gmail.com as soon as possible, and I will forward the valuable information to my former students.


Don’t despair of politics. Instead, have an impact.


• JIM NOWLAN is a former Illinois legislator, agency director and aide to three governors. He also was lead author of "Illinois Politics: A Citizen's Guide" (University of Illinois Press, 2010). Nowlan can be reached at jnowlan3@gmail.com.

Stage is set, prepare to be involved
Ottawa Daily Times
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Editorial  |   Editorial Board
Candidates--Statewide (12)

THE ISSUE: Rauner, Pritzker win primaries in Illinois governor's race


OUR VIEW: Much is different, but always important to be educated and vote


A lot can change in four years.


Here’s the lead paragraph from our editorial dated March 22, 2014: “Well that's settled: the three career Republican politicians split enough of the primary vote for newcomer Bruce Rauner, an independently wealthy private sector businessman, to win a spot on the general election ballot. Incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn, a Chicago Democrat who also is a career politician, had little to worry about in his primary and now officially will campaign for election to a second full term.”


The dust again has settled on primary season in Illinois, but things are much different. This time it’s Democrats who nominated an independently wealthy private sector businessman, J.B. Pritzker, who survived a heavily contested primary that cost him $70 million but seems him emerge as a clear favorite among party activists and leaders, far different from Quinn, who stumbled into the state’s top office and never seemed to fully wield its powers.


On the other side, Rauner is now the embattled incumbent. He narrowly survived a primary challenge from state Rep. Jeanne Ives, a Wheaton Republican closely aligned with some of the conservative leaders who backed Rauner’s initial rise to power, much more warmly embraced President Donald Trump’s agenda and raised only $4 million to Rauner’s $50 million yet still came within about 21,000 votes.


Pritzker didn’t get a majority, collecting just 45 percent of the vote in the six-man field, but he won 98 of Illinois’ 102 counties and far outpaced runner-up state Sen. Daniel Biss, of Evanston, who topped out at 27 percent of the total. Ives far outpaced Rauner in the suburbs and won more than a third of counties, including La Salle and Livingston.


The vote totals are preliminary, but the trends are clear: Rauner is not well-loved among his core constituency, and Democrats were highly motivated to go to the polls. The GOP gubernatorial primary counted fewer than 800,000 votes statewide. Yet roughly 1.24 million Illinoisans cast Democrat ballots.


And now, the majority of the general election ballot is established. In addition to a key governor battle, there will be contested elections for attorney general, all 18 Congressional seats, many races for General Assembly spots in the state House and Senate and a few county offices as well. Simply having fewer candidates won’t guarantee any dropoff in the amount of yard signs and fundraising efforts and advertising campaigns that will sweep across newspapers, radio, television, social media and even email, phone calls and folks knocking on your front door asking for a moment of your time.


Incumbents have the advantage of name recognition and the ability to build a resume, but they also have to cast votes that lay bare their allegiances and strategies as well as the scrutiny of every public statement and questions about whether they’re paying more attention to their campaign than their current term in office.

Surely this page will see its share of letters from average voters looking to sway friends and neighbors, and we quite obviously do not shy away from taking money from campaigns in exchange for advertising space. The newsroom’s challenge is to ignore those dollars, to cover each race fairly, to keep candidates honest by checking the information they position as facts and to make sure everyone seeking office has equal access to reach the people.


We do this because it’s our job, but also because we feel free and fair elections are vital to the American experiment, and we urge everyone to participate as an educated, informed electorate.


So as much a political landscape can shift over four years, some things remain the same. Here’s the closing paragraphs from that same editorial:


“Hopefully voters take the time to ask hard questions of not just these candidates but anyone else hoping for a return trip to Springfield to do the people's work. This is an important time for Illinois, and the only way for the average citizen to be part of the process is to wield the power of the vote.


From now until November, it's campaign season. Brace yourself, but do not sit this one out.”


As true today as when it was written.

Rauner kicks off re-election campaign in Moline
Quad City Times
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Article  |   Sarah Hayden
Rauner, Bruce

— Gov. Bruce Rauner kicked off his re-election campaign Wednesday night at the River House, the day after narrowly winning the Republican gubernatorial primary.


He will face Democratic nominee and Chicago billionaire businessman J.B. Pritzker in the November general election.

After greeting diners table-by-table at the restaurant, Gov. Rauner proceeded upstairs where he spoke to a small group of supporters and campaign volunteers, delivering a speech lasting less than five minutes.


Taking aim at his arch rival, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, the governor outlined four goals for the state if he is elected to a second term.


“Let’s get term limits on the ballot; let’s roll back Madigan’s income tax hike; let’s get property tax relief in Illinois; and let’s cut the red tape on our businesses so we can grow more good-paying jobs in the state of Illinois,” Gov. Rauner said.


“Republicans want that; moderates want that; everybody wants those four things. Let’s come together and find some common ground to beat Pritzker and Madigan in November. We’ve got to take power away from the Chicago machine and give it back to the people.”


Gov. Rauner called Mr. Pritzker a “handpicked candidate for governor” by Speaker Madigan. He said the Democratic nominee hides his money in the Cayman Islands to avoid paying income taxes, but if elected, Mr. Pritzker will raise income taxes even higher on working class families.


“He’s corrupt, he’s an insider, and he’s Madigan’s crony. No new taxes.


“This election is essential,” Gov. Rauner said. “One thing we’re going to get done is redistricting after the 2020 census and we can’t let (Speaker) Madigan gerrymander the districts. When the districts are fair, we are going to elect more reformers and a lot more good Republicans in the General Assembly.”


Gov. Rauner narrowly edged out state Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton by a margin of 51 percent to 48 percent Tuesday night, with Rep. Ives capturing more than 330,000 votes.


“It was a hard-fought primary battle,” he said. “I’m honored and humbled by the victory. It’s an opportunity now to win the battle against the corruption that’s been plaguing our state for years. We need everyone to come together to beat Pritzker and Madigan in the fall. We need to unite on what we agree on.”


When asked by a Dispatch-Argus reporter what he can do to win back the support of Republicans who didn’t vote for him, Gov. Rauner said he would make an effort to meet with voters in person, and laid out an aggressive campaign schedule in the next few days.


“We need to find common ground on issues that have divided us,” Gov. Rauner said. “I don’t focus on social issues because they divide us when we need to be united to fix our economic problems. The way we’ll win is by focusing on what brings all of the people of Illinois together. We’ll bring unity back to the party.”


Gov. Rauner said he had not yet spoken with Rep. Ives, but his campaign has reached out to her representatives and he expects to speak with her soon.


Rock Island Mayor Mike Thoms came to the River House to show his support for Gov. Rauner.


“I think his message is strong, I think he is on target, and we do need to make some changes,” Mayor Thoms said. “(Gov. Rauner) didn’t have much of a chance the first four years. The road we’ve been going down is not the right road. No matter who is governor, as mayor, I will need to work with him.”


Rock Island County board member Dr. Rodney Simmer also said he supports the governor.


“I think he’s doing what he needs to do to make things better; he’s a smart man,” Dr. Simmer said. “He has good business sense.”


Exiting to cheers of “four more years; four more years,” Gov. Rauner encouraged young people to vote.


“Everywhere I go in the state, people say, ‘stay strong; don’t back down.’


“I’m just a volunteer; I got my work ethic from my grandparents who were dairy farmers. I’m doing this as a way to give back. On to victory in November.”


After dismal primary showing, turbulent times ahead for Illinois' GOP
St. Louis Post Dispatch
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Editorial  |   By the Editorial Board
Candidates--Federal (13) , Candidates--Statewide (12) , Governor (44) , Political Parties (Incld Tea Party) (39a)
In politics, money doesn’t just talk, it screams. In Illinois, even the obscene amounts of money spent in Tuesday’s primaries won’t be enough to help the Republican Party if it doesn’t find a way to field more palatable candidates. The party slate included two avowed racists along with multiple incumbents who clearly didn’t inspire the GOP masses.

Gov. Bruce Rauner had the hardest time of any statewide primary candidate. He had to convince Republican voters that his leadership during a two-year budget impasse had somehow left the state better off. Despite donating $50 million to his own campaign and spending $16.5 million on attack ads, Rauner managed only to squeak past his conservative primary challenger, state Rep. Jeanne Ives.

In the general election, Rauner might be rewarded for having moderated his stance on key issues over the past year, including abortion. But in Republican primaries, moderation can often be the kiss of death. Rauner managed only 51.3 percent of the vote against Ives’ 48.7 percent. Rauner’s approval ratings are far below those of even President Donald Trump.

On the Democratic side, billionaire frontrunner J.B. Pritzker pumped about $70 million of his own money into blasting away his five opponents. The combination of his wealth and Rauner’s, as well as the incumbent’s low approval ratings, promises to make the general election one of the most closely watched in the country.

Incumbency also won’t carry the usual advantages when U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, defends his 12th district seat against Democratic primary winner Brendan Kelly, the St. Clair County state’s attorney. Bost had an easy time defending his seat in 2016, largely because of his Democratic challenger’s inexperience. This time, however, Kelly enjoys widespread local name recognition. Bost has little to show for his asserted record of independence in Washington, having voted in lock-step with the Republican leadership. His seat could be among those that tip the balance of House control in November.

Belleville-area Republicans told white-supremacist radio host Bob Romanik to take a hike. By a nearly 2-to-1 margin, voters supported military veteran Tanya Hildenbrand over Romanik, a convicted felon whose daily radio program is laced with N-word references and anti-gay slurs.

Hildenbrand needed to spend little more than $4,000 to deliver a humiliating defeat to Romanik, who claimed to have given his campaign $50,000 this year after having spent more than $1.2 million in a failed bid for a state House seat in 2016. He also received massive free air time — undeclared in official filings — to promote his campaign on his show.

Romanik’s white supremacist cohort, Holocaust denier Arthur Jones, won an uncontested GOP primary race in the Chicago area’s heavily Democratic 3rd Congressional District. GOP leaders couldn’t find a challenger, so they labeled him a “Nazi.”

If these are the best candidates the party can muster, Illinois Republicans are in serious trouble.

Fact check: Rauner cites own remarks as proof of outside support for Election Night claim
State Journal Register
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Article  |   Kiannah Sepeda-Miller
Rauner, Bruce

Editor’s note: This is the latest in a periodic feature intended to verify the truthfulness of statements made by Illinois public officials and candidates. These articles — reported and written by PolitiFact and the Better Government Association, a nonprofit, non-partisan watchdog organization, parse statements for their level of truth, relying on primary sources such as government reports or other documents. Statements are rated for their accuracy on a six-level basis, ranging from “True” to “Pants on Fire.” See more at www.politifact.com/illinois.


Incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner struck a number of familiar notes in his speech Tuesday night as he claimed a narrow primary victory over insurgent Republican challenger Jeanne Ives, talking about tax cuts, job growth and term limits for elected leaders.


But the multi-millionaire Rauner also sought to frame his coming general election battle against Democratic nominee J.B. Pritzker as one pitting the interests of the little guy against entrenched political insiders allied with the billionaire Pritzker.


Then Rauner threw in a new wrinkle to his standard line of attack. “Newspapers have framed this election as my fight against the Illinois mafia,” he told the applauding crowd. “But it’s really the people versus the Illinois mafia.”


Rauner has long been free with tossing around incendiary terms to describe rivals, in particularly Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, whom the governor frequently lambastes as “corrupt.” But this latest turn of phrase, which Rauner attributed not to himself but “newspapers,” got us to wondering. Which newspapers?


A look in the mirror


So we reached out to his campaign for an answer. A spokesman quickly responded by emailing a link to a single opinion column published a few weeks ago in the Wall Street Journal titled, “Bruce Rauner vs. the Illinois ’Mafia.’”

In the piece, which represents the views of a single columnist and not the paper’s editorial board, Rauner pins Illinois’ problems squarely on Madigan. The Journal quotes Rauner referring to his archrival as “the mafia kingpin of Illinois” and then taking an additional swipe at Madigan for simultaneously serving as a powerful lawmaker and as a partner in a law firm specializing in property tax appeals.


“It’s a mafia protection racket,” Rauner said of Madigan’s dual roles.


But the ‘mafia’ references in the headline and column come from Rauner’s own mouth, not from the impressions of the writer, who also goes on to note that: “Mr. Rauner sounds confident and plans to spend whatever it takes to make the election a referendum on reform versus the Madigan Mafia.”


Rauner campaign aides did not respond to our follow-up email asking whether they believed other newspapers had framed the election in similar terms.


Our ruling


After barely squeaking out a victory over a primary challenger, Gov. Bruce Rauner declared to supporters that, “Newspapers have framed this election as my fight against the Illinois mafia.”


Incendiary rhetoric has been a staple of Rauner speeches for years, but in upping the ante even more in his fight against Pritzker it appears the governor is also projecting his own words onto the thoughts of others. Newspapers, or more precisely one column in the Wall Street Journal, did not frame Rauner’s re-election fight in terms of a struggle with a mafia-like force.


That is Rauner’s own characterization and he is simply quoting himself while seeking to attribute the observation to others.


This dizzying feedback loop earns Rauner’s primary night claim a False.



GOP seeks alternative to Illinois ‘Nazi’ candidate after he secures nomination
State Journal Register
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Article  |   David Weigel, Washington Post News Service

Republicans, looking to mitigate the embarrassment of a neo-Nazi grabbing the party’s nomination in an Illinois congressional race, are considering an independent or write-in campaign for an alternative candidate.

“Arthur Jones is not a real Republican — he is a Nazi whose disgusting, bigoted views have no place in our nation’s discourse,” said Tim Schneider, the Illinois Republican Party chairman, in a statement.

“We are exploring all of our options, but under no circumstances will we support this candidate,” said Jesse Hunt, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Jones, a 70-year old white supremacist who has waged five other campaigns for office, has surprised and dismayed Republicans by grabbing national attention despite a near-zero chance at victory in the general election and multiple previous denunciations by GOP officials.

After candidate filing ended in December, with Jones as the only candidate, the party effectively wrote off the 3rd District, which Rep. Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill., has represented since 2005.

In February, local Republican organizations in the district released a joint statement urging Republicans to leave their ballots blank rather than support Jones in the primary.

“We Republicans in the Third Congressional District and across Illinois urge civic-minded citizens, regardless of party, to get involved in the political process to prevent nonparty extremists like Arthur Jones from hijacking party nominations and corroding our country’s democracy,” local Republicans wrote.

But the attention-hungry Jones continued to attract national media. In mid-February, he surfaced at the only public forum between Lipinski and his liberal challenger, Marie Newman, sporting a “Make America Great Again” cap, introducing himself to members of the news media and asking if they wanted to interview him. On election night, several outlets ran news alerts about Jones’s primary win — which was never in doubt.

Republicans are now faced with putting up an alternative candidate that they doubt could win the election in November. In 2016, Lipinski faced no challenger at all; in 2014, a bad year for his party overall, he won reelection by 29 points in a district that was drawn specifically to keep him in Congress. But more than 64,000 votes were cast for his opponent, in a year when Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner won by just 142,284 votes.

Illinois election law gives candidates outside of the Democratic and Republican parties several options for getting on the ballot. Third party candidates can file to run as late as June, and write-in candidates can declare as late as September. In 2010, a novice politician named Scott Lee Cohen won the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, quit the race under a cloud of scandal, and then filed to run as a third-party candidate.

But in many recent cases where fringe candidates have won major party nominations, the parties have been out of luck. In 2012, an unknown conspiracy theorist named Mark Clayton won the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in Tennessee; the party recruited a write-in candidate, who was halted after courts decided that Clayton had fulfilled the requirements to be the Democratic nominee.

Two years earlier, Kesha Rogers, a member of the fringe political movement led by Lyndon LaRouche, won the Democratic nomination in a House race the party had written off. Texas Democrats officially sanctioned her campaign, removing any mention of her from party websites or literature.

On Tuesday night, the NRCC released a statement chiding their Democratic counterparts over the tight primary in the 3rd District. That statement made no mention of Arthur Jones.

Illinois Supreme Court won’t take up Rauner’s appeal of step pay case
State Journal Register
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Article  |   Doug Fink
Rauner, Bruce , Unions, labor (55)

The Illinois Supreme Court will not take up an appeal by the Rauner administration over lawsuit stemming from the administration’s refusal to pay step increases to unionized workers.


As a result, the Illinois Labor Relations Board will have to decide how to the state will comply with a lower court order that the step increases be paid.


A statement about the Supreme Court’s decision is posted on the website for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31.


The union and Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration have been locked in a labor dispute since 2015 when the union’s last state contract expired. A separate lawsuit over whether the two sides are at impasse is still pending.


The Rauner administration halted step increases in 2015 when the old contract expired. AFSCME, though, said labor law requires the old contract terms remain in force while negotiations continued, meaning the step increases should have continued.


Step increases are awarded to workers in the early stages of their careers. Depending on a person’s job, a worker can receive step increases for seven to 10 years. AFSCME said about 40 percent of the 38,000 state workers they represent qualify for step increases.


AFSCME filed a lawsuit seeking to force the administration to pay the increases. A state appeals court ruled in AFSCME’s favor and ordered the issue back to the ILRB for resolution. The administration asked the Supreme Court to step in, but the court has now refused.

Marijuana referendum could strengthen movement to legalize in Illinois, but naysayers say ballot question unfair
State Journal Register
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Article  |   Robert McCoppin
Drugs (32)

A Cook County referendum showing overwhelming support for legalizing marijuana has given a push to the movement to allow recreational use of the drug statewide, but opponents object that it wasn’t a fair vote.


A resounding 68 percent of voters in Tuesday’s referendum cast ballots in favor of “the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products for recreational use by adults 21 and older.”


State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, who is sponsoring a bill to legalize pot, said the vote “confirms what we already know: There is broad public support for legalization.”


Contrary to what some people thought, Cassidy pointed out, the referendum was advisory only, meaning it does not change state or federal law.


But its results also echoed the findings of two statewide polls by the Paul Simon Institute at Southern Illinois University, which found that two-thirds of state voters support legalization.


Opponents of legalization, though, say that asking voters whether they support legalization is a misleading way to frame the question. When voters are given other choices, support for legalization drops dramatically, detractors say.


In November, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a nonprofit group that opposes legalization, commissioned a telephone survey of 625 voters statewide.


Participants were told that Illinois has already decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis, and already has medical marijuana. Then they were asked if they want to keep the current system, repeal medical marijuana, legalize marijuana or make it all illegal.


When asked that way, only 23 percent of respondents said they wanted to legalize cannabis. Almost half, 47 percent, said they wanted to keep things the way they are.


Generally, the results were similar across the state and age ranges, though the percentage who wanted to legalize it was higher in Cook County, at 36 percent, while Downstate 23 percent wanted all of it to be illegal.


Cassidy dismissed the poll question as doing verbal “gymnastics” to reach a desired conclusion. Giving multiple options inevitably dilutes the results for each one, other critics said.


Cassidy and Sen. Heather Steans, both Chicago Democrats, have introduced a bill to allow the sale of marijuana for recreational use over the age of 21. They claim it would raise $350 million to $700 million in annual tax revenue and eliminate discriminatory and futile policing efforts, while undercutting existing illegal markets and hurting cartels and dealers who prey on young users and try to sell them harder drugs.


The two lawmakers say a vote on the issue in the General Assembly is unlikely before next year. That would be after the election for governor in November, which pits Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who opposes legalization, against Democrat J.B. Pritzker, who supports legalization.


In the meantime, members of the medical cannabis industry, which has been operating in Illinois since late 2015, urge Rauner to gradually increase access by adding new qualifying conditions, such as intractable pain, meaning that the pain persisted despite conventional treatment.


“The referendum shows overwhelming support for cannabis in Illinois,” said John Sullivan, a former Cook County prosecutor, board member of the Medical Cannabis Alliance of Illinois, and part owner of two MedMar dispensaries, in Chicago and in Rockford. “A gradual progressive approach is the way to go. This medicine should be available to people who need it.”


Medical marijuana growers and sellers also hope they will be among the first allowed to sell recreational marijuana if it is approved.


But Aaron Weiner, director of addiction services at Linden Oaks Behavioral Health in Naperville, warned that marijuana remains the most common substance of abuse he treats after alcohol. It can hurt people’s work and personal lives, and lead to psychosis, he said, and studies show that in the long term, it can reduce intelligence and income.

He warned of increased auto accidents from driving while high, increased emergency room visits and increased usage and addiction that have been reported in some of the eight states with legal pot.


“I see the fallout of this,” Weiner said. “People really don’t understand what they’re voting for and getting into.”

Marijuana referendum could strengthen movement to legalize in Illinois, but naysayers say ballot question unfair
State Journal Register
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Article  |   Robert McCoppin, Chicago Tribune(TNS)
Drugs (32)

A Cook County referendum showing overwhelming support for legalizing marijuana has given a push to the movement to allow recreational use of the drug statewide, but opponents object that it wasn’t a fair vote.

A resounding 68 percent of voters in Tuesday’s referendum cast ballots in favor of “the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products for recreational use by adults 21 and older.”

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, who is sponsoring a bill to legalize pot, said the vote “confirms what we already know: There is broad public support for legalization.”

Contrary to what some people thought, Cassidy pointed out, the referendum was advisory only, meaning it does not change state or federal law.

But its results also echoed the findings of two statewide polls by the Paul Simon Institute at Southern Illinois University, which found that two-thirds of state voters support legalization.

Opponents of legalization, though, say that asking voters whether they support legalization is a misleading way to frame the question. When voters are given other choices, support for legalization drops dramatically, detractors say.

In November, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a nonprofit group that opposes legalization, commissioned a telephone survey of 625 voters statewide.

Participants were told that Illinois has already decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis, and already has medical marijuana. Then they were asked if they want to keep the current system, repeal medical marijuana, legalize marijuana or make it all illegal.

When asked that way, only 23 percent of respondents said they wanted to legalize cannabis. Almost half, 47 percent, said they wanted to keep things the way they are.

Generally, the results were similar across the state and age ranges, though the percentage who wanted to legalize it was higher in Cook County, at 36 percent, while Downstate 23 percent wanted all of it to be illegal.

Cassidy dismissed the poll question as doing verbal “gymnastics” to reach a desired conclusion. Giving multiple options inevitably dilutes the results for each one, other critics said.

Cassidy and Sen. Heather Steans, both Chicago Democrats, have introduced a bill to allow the sale of marijuana for recreational use over the age of 21. They claim it would raise $350 million to $700 million in annual tax revenue and eliminate discriminatory and futile policing efforts, while undercutting existing illegal markets and hurting cartels and dealers who prey on young users and try to sell them harder drugs.

The two lawmakers say a vote on the issue in the General Assembly is unlikely before next year. That would be after the election for governor in November, which pits Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who opposes legalization, against Democrat J.B. Pritzker, who supports legalization.

In the meantime, members of the medical cannabis industry, which has been operating in Illinois since late 2015, urge Rauner to gradually increase access by adding new qualifying conditions, such as intractable pain, meaning that the pain persisted despite conventional treatment.

“The referendum shows overwhelming support for cannabis in Illinois,” said John Sullivan, a former Cook County prosecutor, board member of the Medical Cannabis Alliance of Illinois, and part owner of two MedMar dispensaries, in Chicago and in Rockford. “A gradual progressive approach is the way to go. This medicine should be available to people who need it.”

Medical marijuana growers and sellers also hope they will be among the first allowed to sell recreational marijuana if it is approved.

But Aaron Weiner, director of addiction services at Linden Oaks Behavioral Health in Naperville, warned that marijuana remains the most common substance of abuse he treats after alcohol. It can hurt people’s work and personal lives, and lead to psychosis, he said, and studies show that in the long term, it can reduce intelligence and income.

He warned of increased auto accidents from driving while high, increased emergency room visits and increased usage and addiction that have been reported in some of the eight states with legal pot.

“I see the fallout of this,” Weiner said. “People really don’t understand what they’re voting for and getting into.”

New exhibit at Lincoln museum honors four U.S. presidents with ties to Illinois
State Journal Register
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Article  |   John Reynolds
Abraham Lincoln, Presidential Library and Museum (50)

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is opening a new exhibit Friday that looks at what four U.S. presidents with ties to Illinois had in common and how their time in the state affected their lives.

The exhibit, “From Illinois to the White House: Lincoln, Grant, Reagan, Obama,” is being done as part of Illinois’ bicentennial celebration. Located inside the museum, it runs through the end of the year and includes historic artifacts that show the achievements of the presidents as politicians and communicators. Also included are items from the presidents’ wives.

“This nation would be much different today without the contributions of these four presidents, and they in turn would have been much different without Illinois’ influence on their character and careers,” said Alan Lowe, executive director of the presidential library museum in a press release. “The state’s 200th birthday is the perfect time for people to get to know these fascinating leaders.”

Items in the exhibit include:

A pawn ticket from Ulysses S. Grant pawning his watch for $22

Samuel Wheeler, the state’s historian, said Grant pawned his gold watch around Christmas time in 1857.

“Ulysses S. Grant, today we remember him as one of the driving forces in saving the union. He’s a two-term president of the United States. ... But, Ulysses S. Grant wasn’t always on a trajectory leading to success. When he came to Illinois up in Galena and began working with his brother in that tannery, things were not going well for him.”

An official White House basketball with Barack Obama’s name and the presidential seal

Wheeler said that basketball played a unique role in Obama’s life, and there was plenty of media footage showing him shooting hoops as president.

“He talks about the game in his book, ‘Dreams from my Father.’ Basketball was character building for him and helped him discover some things about himself,” Wheeler said.

The last ax used by Abraham Lincoln

Wheeler said that while visiting with Grant during the final push of the Civil War, Lincoln came upon a group of soldiers who were chopping wood for the night. Lincoln was very familiar with axes from his work on the family farm.

“The President of the United States asked to borrow the axe and began splitting wood for the soldiers. This is a 56-year-old man who had been ravaged by the stress of the Civil War, very underweight and probably not in the best of health, but those soldiers all remarked that, ‘He’s swinging that axe good.’ ... One of the soldiers ends up treasuring that ax, kept that ax, and (his family) ended up donating it to us. It’s a part of our permanent collection here.”

Note cards from Ronald Reagan’s “Tear Down this Wall” speech in Berlin

Wheeler said the note cards from Reagan’s famous speech in Berlin are on loan from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California.

“What I love about those speech cards is that you can see in pen that the president went and underlined certain sentences and phrases. That comes from an acting background. He knows to accentuate certain lines. He certainly retained that as president.”

Michelle Obama’s oath as an attorney

The exhibit also includes items from the four presidents’ wives, including Michelle Obama’s oath as an attorney. It is on loan from the Supreme Court of Illinois.

“In this exhibit, we’re talking about the four presidents and we’re talking about Illinois as a backdrop. But, we also have plenty of information about the first ladies of these presidents. Michelle Obama is probably the most accomplished of the first ladies. We have the attorney oath she signed. It’s one of the pieces that illustrates the amazing life of Michelle Obama,” Wheeler said.

Other items in the exhibit include the saddle used by Grant during the Civil War, a letter from Reagan reflecting on Lincoln’s legacy, the table where Robert E. Lee surrendered to Grant, the Grammy award to Obama for the audio version of ‘Dreams from my Father,’ Lincoln’s portfolio in which he likely carried the Emancipation Proclamation as it was being drafted, a Chicago Cubs jacket worn by Reagan when he threw the first pitch at Wrigley Field in 1988, a draft of Obama’s speech in Selma, Alabama, on the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” and a loving letter from Reagan to his wife, Nancy.

Admission to the exhibit is included with the regular admission price to the presidential museum.

Contact John Reynolds: john.reynolds@sj-r.com, 788-1524, twitter.com/JohnReynoldsSJR.

Pritzker on spending: Like Simon said, no unilateral disarming
State Journal Register
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Column  |   Bernard Schoenburg
Candidates--Statewide (12)

J.B. PRITZKER says campaign finance reform is needed in politics — but he doesn’t apologize for putting nearly $70 million of his own money into his successful effort to win the Democratic nomination for governor.

“We need, on the federal level, to overturn Citizens United,” Pritzker said in an interview Wednesday, referring to the U.S. Supreme Court decision that opened the door for corporations and unions to make unlimited independent expenditures in U.S. elections. “And on the state level, we need to implement new finance reform laws.”

“But as (late U.S.) Senator PAUL SIMON said when he was fighting for campaign finance reform, we can’t unilaterally disarm when the Republicans are trying to defeat Democrats,” Pritzker said.

He hasn’t yet forwarded a state-level plan as part of his campaign.

Just how Pritzker spent that money was shown in part in a memo issued by his campaign manager, ANNE CAPRARA, on Wednesday, highlighting the factors that led to Tuesday’s “decisive” win over Democratic opponents, and a look ahead at the general election campaign against incumbent Republican Gov. BRUCE RAUNER.

Among points in that memo were Democratic energy, the low approval rating in Illinois of Republican President DONALD TRUMP, and campaign infrastructure.

About that infrastructure: The campaign had 18 field offices, including 10 downstate, with one in Springfield. There were more than 100 field staff members and almost 10,000 volunteers.

While there had been indications the Democratic race was tightening in recent weeks, Pritzker ended up with more than 45 percent of the vote in a six-way race, with state Sen. DANIEL BISS, D-Evanston, second with nearly 27 percent and businessman CHRIS KENNEDY third with just more than 24 percent.

In the interview, Pritzker took heart that those two main contenders each called him Tuesday night.

“We had great conversations,” Pritzker said. “They were both very conciliatory and looking forward to working together to beat Bruce Rauner. I feel like we’ve got a good working relationship to unite as Democrats, and it especially contrasts with the fact that half of Republicans apparently don’t like Bruce Rauner.”

In the GOP race for governor, Rauner defeated state Rep. JEANNE IVES, R-Wheaton, by less than 3 points — 51.4 percent to 48.6 percent.

Rauner has poured millions of dollars into his own campaign — he donated $50 million to himself at the end of 2016 — and it was clear Wednesday both camps were pivoting immediately to the November showdown.

Pritzker’s campaign released an ad titled “Four years of failure,” packing into 30 seconds news clips about the 736-day state budget impasse, cuts to social services, the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at a state veterans’ facility, the conservative National Review calling Rauner the worst Republican governor in America, and Rauner saying he is “not in charge.”

On the Rauner side, the governor’s campaign issued a video showing footage from the primary contest of Biss calling Pritzker “Mike Madigan’s candidate,” and Kennedy calling him “the poster child for pay-to-play politics in this state.”

And Rauner campaign spokesman JUSTIN GIORGIO said Wednesday: “J.B. Pritzker is and always has been MIKE MADIGAN’s candidate. His agenda is completely in line with Madigan’s — higher taxes, no reform, and more corruption for the state of Illinois.”

Madigan, the speaker of the House and chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party, didn’t endorse in the primary, but many organizations who support the party, including the state AFL-CIO, were for Pritzker.

“I think that that is all that Bruce Rauner has to talk about,” Pritzker said in the interview. “He’s desperate. He has no accomplishments. And he’s just going to simply continue to run a very negative campaign and try to blame everybody else for the challenges that he’s brought to the state of Illinois.”

Ives was not talking up party unity on a radio show Wednesday. On AM 560 in the Chicago market, she told hosts DAN PROFT and AMY JACOBSON that Rauner “cannot be elected” this year.

“He’s a lame duck governor at this point,” she said.

More than seven months remain until the general election. It could be a long summer.

Party help

Sangamon County Treasurer candidate JOE AIELLO, who defeated Springfield city budget director BILL McCARTY in the GOP primary, got some late help in the campaign from his party.

Aiello’s campaign reported a $10,000 donation last week from the Sangamon County GOP, which had endorsed him. He also got $1,000 the next day from the campaign committee of Springfield Ward 1 Ald. CHUCK REDPATH.

Aiello, a former county clerk now working for the state, won by a 57-43 margin. He’ll face Democrat TOM RAYMOND in November.

Getting the truth

A once well-known voice in Springfield and across the state has been silenced with the death of BECKY ENRIETTO.

Enrietto worked for WTAX and a Statehouse-based radio network that provided news to stations across Illinois and beyond. She died March 15 at Heritage Health, Springfield, at age 59.

Enrietto, an Auburn native, reported from the Statehouse from 1982-1994, including a stint as president of the Illinois Legislative Correspondents Association, and worked in then-Gov. JIM EDGAR’s press office in 1994-95. She also was a spokeswoman for the state commerce department. For a time later, she volunteered as community news director at WQNA, the station at the Capital Area Career Center in Springfield.

“She worked hard and long hours to get the truth and tell it,” said RAY LONG, a Chicago Tribune reporter and former ILCA president who now lives in Chicago and who worked alongside Enrietto in Springfield. “She covered the beat hard and filed fast. Thank you, Becky, for fighting to get the news to your listeners and for a terrific run while you worked in the Capitol press corps.”

Contact Bernard Schoenburg: bernard.schoenburg@sj-r.com, 788-1540, twitter.com/bschoenburg.

Rauner says he has yet to speak to Ives after primary win
State Journal Register
Thursday, March 22, 2018  |   Article  |   Doug Fink
Rauner, Bruce

Two days after he narrowly won a primary election over a conservative challenger, Gov. Bruce Rauner said he has yet to speak to state Rep. Jeanne Ives.


After an appearance at Ace Sign Co. in Springfield Thursday, Rauner said he had reached out to Ives about setting up a meeting but has not heard back yet.


During a radio appearance Wednesday morning, Ives said she had no interest in speaking with Rauner. She was still upset about tactics Rauner used during the campaign against her and that he essentially declared victory while votes were still being counted in DuPage County, where Ives resides.


Convincing Ives supporters to vote for him in November could be crucial to Rauner’s chances of winning re-election. Democratic turnout is expected to be larger than usual because of the Illinois gubernatorial campaign and Democratic efforts to regain control of Congress.


Rauner told employees of the company that Republicans need to unite around themes that unite them, such as opposition to House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, and support for reform measures such as term limits.


During questioning by reporters, Rauner insisted he still does not have a social agenda, although many of Ives’ supporters may believe otherwise. Ives finally decided to challenge Rauner after he signed a controversial bill that expands public funding of abortions. Many conservatives believe Rauner promised to veto the bill and feel betrayed by his decisions to sign it.


This story will be updated.