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Barack Obama biographer David Garrow at the ALPLM tonight
Other
Tuesday, May 22, 2018  |   Commentary  |   WTAX 1240
Abraham Lincoln, Presidential Library and Museum (50) , Obama, Barack
Joey McLaughlin talks with historian David Garrow about his book “Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama.” David is appearing at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library tonight. http://wtax.com/podcasts/barack-obama-biographer-david-garrow-at-the-alplm-tonight/

You can make book on Illinois jumping at sports gambling
Belleville News Democrat
Tuesday, May 22, 2018  |   Editorial  |   By the BND Editorial Board
Gambling, Gaming , Racing, racetracks (76)
The U.S. Supreme Court decision to allow states to legalize sports gambling leaves us betting Illinois will be scoring taxes in time for basketball season.

Like too many poor, desperate people, state lawmakers will replace hard work with games of chance. No need to watch your pennies when you can win big bucks. No need to seek treatment for your addiction to gambling taxes.

We're mighty far from the 1990s, when we were so worried about gambling being too accessible that we put casinos on boats in the middle of the rivers. Sports betting holds the potential to gamble on your smart phone, placing bets on every game, inning or pitch.

One argument is that legalizing sports book will protect gamblers by eliminating organized crime. Maybe, or maybe the local bookie figures out how to offer better odds or payouts when he isn't paying taxes or business overhead.

Taxes are the real prize. One estimate was below $100 million in Illinois, but a gaming researcher put the figure at $300 million to $681 million.

If sports gambling comes to Illinois, it should not be online. It should require a destination, and that should be the place that's been betting on one sport since 1925.

Fairmount Park horse race track needs something to save it. Sports book makes more sense than competing with the slot machines found in every local bar and fraternal hall, plus 5,000 gaming cafes across the state.

The camel's nose is already under the tent. Maybe he'll let Seabiscuit find a little shelter, too.


It’s ‘gut-check time’ for lawmakers on legislation to curb sexual harassment
Chicago Sun Times
Tuesday, May 22, 2018  |   Article  |   Madeline Doubek
Sexual assault, Sex Crime (96) , Sexual Harassment (96)

It was a surreal moment last week to sit in an ornate Illinois Senate hearing room with a group of young men from a championship Chicago high school football team and listen, with them, to two women describe in excruciating detail having been raped and repeatedly sexually abused back in high school by their club volleyball coach.

 

Everyone in the room was riveted to their words.

 

The coach, Rick Butler, wasn’t present. He repeatedly has denied the claims made by the women. The statute of limitations for criminal charges ran out before they came forward. Still, the women repeat their story, again and again.

 

“I want to stop it from happening to another child,” Julie Romias told lawmakers serving on a sexual harassment and discrimination task force last week.

 

Two such task forces were created in the wake of the #MeToo movement and in the wake of allegations that some people who work in Illinois government and politics behave inappropriately. The movement also laid bare the fact that Illinois had no legislative inspector general investigating complaints about the Legislature for three years. The office sat vacant because legislative leaders did not appoint anyone to fill the post.

 

Now, with less than two weeks left in the spring session, will lawmakers fix the broken process within their own walls and throughout Illinois?

 

Members of the Senate task force co-chaired by state Sen. Melinda Bush, a Grayslake Democrat, are working on a proposal to beef up the Illinois Human Rights Act. Two other bills, drafted by state Sens. Karen McConnaughay, a St. Charles Republican, and Cristina Castro, an Elgin Democrat, attempt to fix the office of legislative inspector general and the legislative ethics commission.

 

The sexual harassment omnibus legislation Bush introduced expands the definition of harassment and extends discrimination protections to independent contractors. It would give workers two years, rather than six months, to file charges and sue. It would require

reporting of settlements from large public contractors and employers, and prohibit non-disclosure agreements unless the victim wants one. Among other things, it also requires a panic-button system for hotel workers and mandates that anyone who works in youth sports be required to report abuse suspicions to the Department of Children and Family Services.

 

McConnaughay and Castro still are working on their legislation, but McConnaughay noted temporary Legislative Inspector General Julie Porter has agreed to stay until year’s end to finish investigating complaints from the period the office was vacant. The commission has agreed to hire a full-time LIG who would conduct ethics and sexual harassment training for government workers, increase the response time to complainants and create a more robust website, she said. The commissioners, all of whom are lawmakers appointed by their legislative leaders, also have agreed to post meeting minutes.

 

All those changes represent progress, but they don’t yet have the force of law. Castro and McConnaughay hope to push legislation through the Senate and House that would codify that and more:

 

The LIG should not have to secure an OK from the commission before launching any investigation or issuing a subpoena.

 

The LIG should publish summaries of any investigation in which a violation is found to have occurred so the public knows ethics standards are being upheld and bad behavior is being punished. Castro’s working bill would require a supermajority vote to quash publication of such a summary report.

 

Commissioners would be required to recuse themselves and be replaced if they are involved in any investigation.

 

A process for replacing the LIG within 30 days of a vacancy occurring would be set.

 

These are critically needed attempts to bring accountability, transparency, safety and justice to Illinois and to the halls of the Capitol.

 

But, in the next two weeks, will the women and men of the Illinois House and Senate get the chance to debate and vote on changes that have the effect of policing of lawmakers and diluting some of the legislative leaders’ control?

 

“We need to get something done so that victims and the accused have better protection and so that there’s a fair and timely process,” Bush said.

 

“I feel a sense of urgency,” McConnaughay said. “This is a women’s issue. How is it over 200 women (who work in the Capitol) signed a #MeToo letter and we’re having real difficulty coming up with legislation and getting it done?”

 

How indeed. Will lawmakers put protections and accountability in place for themselves, the women who testified last week and countless others in Illinois?

 

It’s gut-check time.

 

Madeleine Doubek is policy & civic engagement director for the Better Government Association.


Morning Spin
Chicago Tribune
Tuesday, May 22, 2018  |   Editorial  |   Editorial Board

Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President Kevin Graham previewed the union’s planned protest at Wednesday’s City Council meeting, saying he’s calling on officers to pack council chambers in part to highlight slow contract negotiations with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration.

“That would be one of the reasons,” Graham said on Monday after appearing on a City Club panel with aldermen to discuss civilian police department oversight. “One of the things I think that needs to be said here is that officers on the street are very frustrated. They don’t feel that they have been given the due respect that they deserve and the hard work that they have.”

“It is a very slow go. It’s very frustrating at times, as well,” he said of the pace of negotiations.

The union last week published a letter urging all its members to turn up at the Wednesday council meeting “to demand that Mayor Rahm Emanuel back the police.” In response, the mayor said he’s playing it “down the middle of the fairway” when it comes to groups on opposite sides of the police reform issue.

Graham also said Monday the union might seek to increase the amount of schooling recruits need to get on the force from two years of college to four years and push for the city to help pick up the tuition tab.

“I think whenever you have a four-year degree, it is a commitment you have put forth both financially and through your dedication and hard work,” he said. “And if you want to be here as a Chicago police officer, I think that degree goes a long way to showing what kind of person you are, to put that kind of effort into your education just to be here.”

City Council Black Caucus chairman Ald. Roderick Sawyer, 6th, appeared on the panel with Graham and said he worried putting more educational requirements on police recruits would amount to another barrier to the city’s attempts to hire more African-American and Hispanic officers.

Graham said “we don’t want to do that,” and suggested the financial hurdle could be mitigated by the city agreeing to help pay new officers’ outstanding student loans, and said the union might seek to get that language included in the new contract. (John Byrne)

What’s on tap

*Mayor Emanuel will hold two events about renovations on the CTA Blue Line.

*Gov. Bruce Rauner is scheduled to appear at a Springfield elementary school to announce the Illinois Bicentennial STEM Fusion Legacy Program.

*Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti is appearing at a Chicago elementary school about schools participating in the Illinois Bicentennial STEM Fusion Legacy Program

*The Illinois House and Senate are in session.

*The City Council’s Zoning Committee will consider plans for the Barack Obama Presidential Center.

*Former House Republican leader Tom Cross moderates a City Club of Chicago panel featuring former state GOP chairman Pat Brady and conservative radio host Dan Proft.

From the notebook

*Rauner death penalty plan gets heard: Democratic lawmakers held a hearing Monday about Gov. Rauner’s proposal to partially reinstate the death penalty, featuring a long list of opponents who said Illinois should not move backward on the issue.

Republicans contended the move was nothing more than a political “dog and pony show,” saying they did not believe Democrats who control the House had any intention of seriously considering the proposal.

The governor suggested bringing back the death penalty for mass murderers and cop killers as part of his broad re-write of legislation that would have created a 72-hour waiting period to buy assault weapons. Rauner says executions should only happen in cases where guilt can be determined “beyond all doubt,” rather than the standard “reasonable doubt” requirement.

Rauner’s criminal justice director David Risley acknowledged that some may feel that threshold “is an impossible standard.” But he pointed to his more than three decades as a prosecutor, saying in many cases “there was no doubt about who committed the crime.”

Rep. Christian Mitchell, D-Chicago, told Risley that he was “both alarmed and envious of your moral clarity.”

“I don’t agree with this policy, sort of on it’s merits, I think the death penalty is flawed,” Mitchell said. “But if you were going to do it, this is slapdash and haphazard and pathetically constructed.” (Monique Garcia)

*Pritzker launches grassroots funding mechanism for down-ballot Dems: One reason that J.B. Pritzker’s governor campaign appealed to some Democrats was the billionaire’s ability to self-fund his bid, allowing traditional allies to direct their attention to down-ballot races.

Pritzker, an heir to the Hyatt Hotels fortune, spent a record $68.3 million to win the March primary, and now he’s launching “Blue Wave Illinois 2018” to accept donations intended to help Democrats across the ballot.

“Now that we’ve won the primary, I know how important it is that we don’t just beat Bruce Rauner, but that up and down the ticket Democrats have the resources they need to win. That’s why I’m excited to tell you about Blue Wave Illinois 2018, a new project within my campaign we’re launching to make sure Democrats win this November,” Pritzker said in a fundraising email.

Pritzker said he also will put some seed money into the effort and that contributions will be maintained as a separate account within his own “J.B. for Governor” campaign fund.

Pritzker has long talked about using his campaign and personal wealth to help build up a Democratic political apparatus in the way the governor used his money to rebuild the Illinois Republican Party. For Democrats, the political system has normally been centered upon state party chairman Michael Madigan, the veteran House speaker.

On Twitter, Republican state Rep. Grant Wehrli of Naperville wasn’t impressed, posting a video of blue-colored water swirling down a toilet. (Rick Pearson)

*Drama continues in state GOP ranks: The Illinois Republican Party held its organizational meeting Saturday and re-elected Gov. Rauner’s handpicked chairman as part of a compromise with insurgent conservatives.

But despite that attempt to show unity, the battle is continuing and may end up in a federal courtroom.

Bob Winchester, a former state representative from Rosiclare, had been the longest-serving member of the Republican State Central Committee, serving since 1992. Winchester is an opponent of Rauner and party Chairmman Tim Schneider, and he was challenged for re-election by state Sen. Chapin Rose of Mahomet.

The State Board of Elections certified Rose as the winner at a special May 10 meeting and said it didn’t have the authority to investigate what Winchester alleges were misdeeds that made Rose the victor to represent the 15th Congressional District GOP.

Winchester’s attorney, Stephen Boulton, said he filed suit a week ago in Downstate Hardin County to try to stop Rose from being seated, but his office said the case was not electronically recorded as being filed until late last week, too late to prevent Rose from being seated.

The lawsuit contends both the state GOP and the State Board of Elections violated Winchester’s federally constitutionally protected due process rights and that county vote totals were changed to a “false result” in favor of Rose.

The Illinois GOP has filed notice to move the case to the U.S. District Court in Benton.

"The Illinois Republican Party is confident that the State Central Committee elections were conducted in accordance with state law, our party bylaws, and in an open and transparent manner,” Illinois Republican Party Executive Director Andrew Collins said in a statement.

“We are also confident that the results reported to the party by the county Republican central committees were accurate, that the State Board (of Elections) certification of those results was proper and that the results are now final,” Collins said. (Rick Pearson)

*Green to grace Teen Vogue cover? Chicago mayoral candidate Ja’Mal Green tweeted a few times over the weekend from New York where he said he was in town for a cover shoot for Teen Vogue.

Green, a 22-year-old activist, tweeted a photo with two other young aspiring politicians who he said would grace the cover with him – 18-year-old Hadiya Afzal, a Democrat running for the DuPage County Board, and Kat Kerwin, a 21-year-old running for City Council in Providence, R.I.

“Shooting the front cover of my first national magazine releasing next week,” Green wrote in another tweet from the photo shoot. “You ready? Ooooo.”

What we’re writing

*Watchdog report: Rauner administration mismanaged patronage positions

*Chicago alderman given free Wrigleyville parking at police station lot.

*Former Chicago Ald. Marion Volini, who pushed for Edgewater designation, dies at age 83.

*Democratic lawmaker says she resigned Cook County sheriff post because she felt pressure from Madigan allies.

What we’re reading

*Eataly to terminate relationship with chef Mario Batali amid sexual misconduct allegations.

*Chicago-area hospitals aim to boost transplants with “lung in a box.”

*Obamas sign Netflix deal.

*Illinois’ top baby names for 2017

Follow the money

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

Beyond Chicago

*South Korea blames Bolton for problems with Trump-North Korea summit.

*Trump wants investigation of Russia inquiry.

*Supreme Court rules employers can make workers waive rights to be in class action lawsuits.

*Toxic cloud from Hawaii volcano drifts over ocean.


Report cites Rauner's office for improper hiring
Chicago Tribune
Tuesday, May 22, 2018  |   Article  |   Associated Press
Rauner, Bruce

A state inspector on Monday criticized Governor Bruce Rauner 's office for improper hiring that violated the same anti-patronage law Rauner blasted his predecessor for skirting.

 

The Office of the Executive Inspector General's report found that Rauner's Department of Central Management Services hired seven people for positions that on paper were described

as sensitive, policymaking posts that are exempt from the personnel code and which a governor can fill based on political loyalty.

 

But the investigation discovered that the "regional client managers" in the agency's Bureau of Property Management didn't report to the people they were supposed to and did routine jobs such as setting up tables for meetings, inspecting state buildings for handicapped-accessibility and monitoring inventory. The jobs should have been open to anyone who applied and free from political considerations.

 

A 1990 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on a case from Illinois prohibits the governor from hiring for most state jobs based on an applicant's political affiliation. Only a few thousand are exempt — positions in which someone advises the governor or speaks publicly for the office, posts that require loyalty to the boss.

 

"While the OEIG did not find evidence that the governor's office staff placed individuals into exempt positions knowing they would not be doing exempt work, the OEIG's investigation revealed that the governor's office, like CMS, did not prioritize this issue and believed it was someone else's responsibility," the report stated.

 

It's the type of hiring for which candidate Rauner in 2014 lambasted his predecessor, Gov. Pat Quinn . The inspector general found that Democrat Quinn and Gov. Rod Blagojevich before him had hired hundreds of people at the Illinois Department of Transportation for jobs that supposedly involved policymaking but did not.

 

Rauner's office responded to the report saying it can't be responsible for employees not doing work they were hired for but would improve oversight.

 

"This report ignores the huge strides we've made to eliminate more than 2,500 patronage jobs during Gov. Rauner's time in office," Bold said in a statement. "That's more than half of the patronage jobs under his authority. For the first time in state history, we also have implemented reforms that prohibit patronage appointments to any position with job-protection."

 

The investigation also found mismanagement on the part of several administrators in the governor's office and CMS, including former director Michael Hoffman, now Rauner's senior policy adviser on the response to the Legionnaires' disease crisis at the Quincy veterans' home. Hoffman told investigators when he learned of the problem, he eliminated the jobs, allowing the dismissed employees to reapply for other CMS positions.

 


Sexual assault nurses needed STAT
Chicago Tribune
Tuesday, May 22, 2018  |   Editorial  |   Editorial Board
Sexual assault, Sex Crime (96)

Emergency room nurse Melissa Cochrane had never opened a rape kit before she was called on to care for a sexual assault victim at a Chicago-area hospital.

“I remember sitting there and reading the box and not knowing what I was doing and just feeling very overwhelmed,” she told Tribune reporter Alison Bowen recently. “And I’ll think about that person for the rest of my career.”

Cochrane is now working toward certification as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, trained to provide appropriate care to rape victims and to collect evidence so their attackers can be prosecuted.

There are critically few SANEs in Illinois, and that means victims who have already been traumatized don’t always get the medical care and emotional support they need. It also makes it less likely that their rapists will be charged and convicted.

Increasing the number of sexual assault nurses has been something of a crusade for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Since 2004, her office has been working with hospitals to train nurses who can follow a case from the emergency room to the courtroom.

About 1,500 have completed the AG’s free classroom training in how to recognize trauma and collect evidence. But fewer than 300 have completed the clinical part, which includes observation and practice in hospitals, crime labs and courtrooms.

It makes perfect sense: A nurse who can do the job with confidence can reassure a patient at an especially vulnerable time. A victim who is treated with compassion will be more comfortable dealing with police and prosecutors.

But too few nurses have completed the training because many hospitals haven’t made it a priority. Though the training is free, nurses often have to use their vacation time and pay for the necessary travel themselves. (Cochrane’s employer, Swedish Covenant Hospital, pays its nurses to attend the training.)

So sexual assault victims who seek treatment in emergency rooms — there were 4,500 such patients in 2016 — can’t count on being attended by a nurse who is trained for the task.

The hospitals themselves should find this unacceptable. But many of them don’t. State lawmakers are close to passing a bill that would require them to get with the program.

The bill passed the House 101-0 in April. It would require the 160 Illinois hospitals that treat sexual assault victims to make a SANE available within 90 minutes after a patient arrives in an emergency room. That’s a significant compromise from the not at all unreasonable standard of having a SANE on hand 24/7.

The Illinois Health and Hospital Association is balking at the Jan. 1, 2021, deadline. So Senate sponsor Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield, offered 2022. A floor vote could come as soon as Tuesday.

"I think it's an appropriate timeline," Morrison said last week. "I think we're all going to be pleasantly surprised that just about everybody will be able to do this."

We share her sense of urgency. We wish the hospital association did.


End the lip service, commit to regionalism
Freeport Journal Standard
Tuesday, May 22, 2018  |   Editorial  |   Editor
Business (10) , Economic Development (35) , Ethics, Campaign Reform, Transparency (12a) , Local Government (60)
News flash: Local company finds local solution as it continues its amazing growth and success. The news of Berner Foods’ decision to build a warehouse distribution center in Winnebago County ought to be cause for celebration throughout the Rockford region. Berner’s decision will result in a few new jobs — and give the company room for further growth. Instead, there’s enough political squabbling, finger-pointing and backstabbing for a reality TV show. We’re thankful that most of it has occurred behind closed doors, but it’s been ugly nonetheless. Threats and name-calling are not economic development strategies. Objective observers understand that the Baxter Road site chosen by Berner in Winnebago County is an ideal fit. Case closed. The chances that Berner was going to build in Stephenson County, where it employs more than 500 in areas such as manufacturing, skilled labor, quality control and technical services, were slim to none. The odds that it could increase its capacity at its location on Rockford’s west side were just as low. And where in Rockford is there a “shovel ready” site that could accommodate a 675,000-square-foot facility? Berner executives made a business decision in the best interests of their company. It’s what businesses do. The company still is in the region and still is in Illinois, although it easily could have decided to locate across the state line. Berner should be looked at as a regional success story, but when it comes to practicing regionalism, everyone retreats to their own silo. We had hoped that the Region 1 Planning Council, a collaborative planning and research umbrella governed by economic development and government leaders from Rochelle and within Winnebago, Boone, Stephenson and McHenry counties, could not only encourage regionalism, but foster the kind of culture that would lead to more success stories. For decades, the culture has been every-municipality-for-itself — political entities that refuse to look beyond their own interests. How’s that working for you? Now, the council is working on a “code of ethics” under which members would pledge to share information about regional business prospects and refrain from poaching such opportunities from one another. We do not think there was any “poaching” whatsoever involved in the Berner deal. The council has been working on the code of ethics for six months so there is no correlation between the code and Berner, except that the code may prevent officials from being surprised if something similar happens in the future. Just think about the possibilities if local, regional, state and federal stakeholders collaborate on plans to expand businesses that are already here and to entice new businesses to locate here. Of course, our definition of “here” is broad. “Here” could be any of the counties that form the planning council and we could argue Janesville and Beloit could be considered “here” in some circumstances. Fifteen years ago the Rockford Register Star, The Journal-Standard of Freeport, the Beloit Daily News and the Janesville Gazette embarked on the Rock River Valley Project to examine efforts of five counties — Boone, Winnebago, Ogle and Stephenson in Illinois, and Rock in Wisconsin — to cooperate regionally. We have yet to see the kind of regional cooperation that effort was meant to encourage. That type of cooperation requires all involved to take a broad view — what’s good for Freeport is good for Rockford, what’s good for Rochelle is good for Belvidere, and so on. Rockford is the largest city in the region, and like it or not, the city’s success affects all the communities that surround it. Those communities that want to disassociate themselves from Rockford do so at their own peril. Lines on a map should not stop people from working together to bring jobs and prosperity to our communities. Leaders need establish priorities to determine what can and should be dealt with regionally. Each community will have different agendas for development and they must cooperate on what they have in common. Regionalism is about partnerships, collaboration and cooperation. It’s not rocket science, although there is rocket science being done in Rockford and the region. Let’s set aside arbitrary divisions, whether personal or geographic. Let’s adopt a regional approach and watch northern Illinois boom.

Congressman proposes new tax credits for nuke plants
Illinois Watchdog.Org
Tuesday, May 22, 2018  |   Article  |   By Scot Bertram
Energy, Alternative Energy (93) , Legislators (former) (58) , Nuclear (67)

A central Illinois congressman has proposed legislation that would offer tax credits for investments in existing nuclear power plants across the county.

Congressman Darin LaHood, R-Illinois, is behind a bill that would provide a 30 percent credit for refueling costs and capital expenditures at plants through 2021.

“Right now about 51 percent of the electricity in Illinois is generated from nuclear plants,” LaHood said. “When you look at some of the federal tax credits that have been in place in the past and currently for things like solar and wind, we looked at nuclear energy and wanted to make sure they are staying competitive in our ‘all-of-the-above’ approach to energy.”

After 2021, the tax credit rate would be gradually reduced until it reached 10 percent in 2024. LaHood said the bill is modeled on the phase out currently in place for solar and wind. Future energy needs necessitate a strong nuclear industry, he said.

“In the last 17 months, we’ve added 240,000 new manufacturing jobs in this country,” LaHood said. “We’re revving back up the industrial manufacturing base in this country. There will be a lot of energy use that goes on, and that will help drive nuclear energy and the use of electricity across the board.”

Illinois lawmakers also have moved to help stabilize the nuclear power industry in the state. In 2016, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill that included a rate increase to help pay for the modernization of both the Clinton Nuclear Generating Station and the Quad Cities Nuclear Generating Station in Cordova.

“Illinois is home to six nuclear plants, which support about 6,000 jobs,” LaHood said. “I’m concerned about the state of Illinois, but this is a nationwide approach. When you think about having a broad, diversified energy portfolio across the country, we [need to] make sure everyone is being treated equally."

Competing companies in other sectors of the energy industry, including coal plants, previously have criticized various subsidies to the nuclear industry saying the practice is akin to playing favorites and acts to distort the market. Some argue it also depresses development of more competitive energy sources and limits potential job creation in those areas.

LaHood said his legislation would help keep Illinois a top choice for manufacturing.

“You have cheap energy and it’s reliable and there are good grids,” LaHood said. “Illinois is a great place to do that. The future looks bright. Having abundant and diversified energy available will be helpful.”

LaHood said the bill had 11 co-sponsors. He’s hoping for a hearing date to be set soon.


Illinois lawmakers face requests for 'more' as they push toward new state budget
Illinois Watchdog.Org
Tuesday, May 22, 2018  |   Article  |   By Benjamin Yount
Budget--State (8) , Human Services (75) Bellock, Patricia "Patti"--State House, 47 , Flowers, Mary--State House, 31
It's not just roads, bridges, schools, and pensions that are making it tough for Illinois lawmakers to come to terms on a new state budget.

Legislators in Springfield are beset by social service groups and the people who they serve, who want more.

For each state-supported or state-managed service, there is someone with a personal story who says lawmakers cannot possibly cut their program.

About a dozen or more people flocked to the Illinois Capitol late last week to make their case for more.

Maxica Williams, a client at Illinois Coalition for the Homeless, told lawmakers that she cannot make it unless they increase her Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) grant.

"Having a TANF grant for a family four, for me was $427 a month," Williams said. "It was simply not enough to meet the basic needs that we had. With trying to get an apartment when I wasn't working."

State Rep. Mary Flowers, D-Chicago, said Williams is one of the many people in Illinois who rely on state government and who need more from state government.

"If she could, she would work. But the fact is, she can't," Flowers said at last week's hearing. "She is one of thousands of other people who are out there that want to do better. But every time they take one step forward, someone or something is pushing them five steps back."

Lawmakers also heard pleas for more dental services, more adult care programs, better pay for home care assistants, and others.

The state can't afford it all. Last year the state spent over $40 billion. Illinois should have about $37 billion to spend on the next state budget. That doesn't include the nearly $1 billion that lawmakers say they must find by June to pay to keep Illinois' prisons open and pay for other parts of state government. Nor does it include the $7 billion in unpaid bills sitting at the comptroller's office.

State Rep. Patti Bellock, R-Hinsdale, said that Illinois wants to help, but won't be able to help everyone.

"We support the idea, the goal of [these programs]," Bellock said. "We just need to know when we go into the budget process, how much we are talking about."

Few of the social service providers or their clients had specific price tags, they simply made the case for more.

McCann denied temporary restraining order
Jacksonville Journal-Courier
Tuesday, May 22, 2018  |   Article  |   Nick Draper
Brady, Bill--State Senate, 44 , McCann, Sam--State Senate, 50

A federal judge has dealt a partial blow to a senator’s lawsuit against party leadership that claims retaliation for his campaign for governor.

Although Sen. Sam McCann’s case against others will proceed, Judge Andrew Wood denied a request for an injunction and said Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, the head of the state Republican Party, has immunity from such civil action in connection with his legislative activity.

McCann’s lawsuit, filed in early May, claims Brady denied him access to several resources to which he should have access as a member of the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus. The lawsuit claims that, shortly after McCann’s April 19 announcement that he would be running for governor, he was cut off from necessary caucus resources, thus violating his freedom of speech.

In his ruling, Wood noted that Brady, as Senate minority leader, has the authority to allocate the resources “according to the agenda and priorities of the Minority Caucus.”

“McCann does not challenge Brady’s authority to allocate the Resources according to Brady’s determination of the best interests of the Minority Caucus and its legislative agenda so much as he takes issue with Brady’s motivation for doing so,” the opinion reads. “Legislative immunity turns on the function being carried out by the legislator, not his motive or intent.”

Wood granted Brady’s motion to dismiss, dismissing all claims against Brady with prejudice, and denied McCann’s motion for a temporary restraining order. However, a final judgment has not been issued, because the court wasn’t sure if the charges filed against Brady were distinct from those filed against the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus, also a defendant in the suit.

A representative of Brady’s office said the minority leader was pleased with the outcome.

McCann issued a statement Monday that accused Brady, Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Illinois Republican Party of “hiding behind immunity.”

“Bruce Rauner and his Republican Party are hiding behind immunity to silence me, but every attempt to weaken me and attack my constituents shows the party’s need to resort to desperate tactics to protect its dwindling hope in November’s election,” McCann said. “The truth is that Illinois has lost faith in Bruce Rauner and the Republican Party that he has purchased and poisoned.”

Nick Draper can be reached at 217-245-6121, ext. 1223, or on Twitter @nick_draper.


Democrats offer harsh assessment of Rauner’s death penalty proposal
State Journal Register
Tuesday, May 22, 2018  |   Article  |   Brenden Moore
Death penalty (27a)

Democratic lawmakers offered a harsh assessment Monday of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposal to reinstate the death penalty for cop killers and mass murderers.

The proposal, which was heard before the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee, is part of a package of public safety measures Rauner introduced last week with his amendatory veto of House Bill 1468.

Essentially rewriting the bill, which had initially called for a mandatory 72-hour “cooling period” following assault weapons purchases, Rauner proposed narrowly reinstating the death penalty, banning bump stocks, freeing up funds for schools to hire more resource officers and extending the cooling period to encompass all guns.

Rauner deemed it a comprehensive approach to public safety that “can really increase the safety of our residents in Illinois, our schoolchildren especially.”

But the reinstatement of the death penalty, which was officially abolished in Illinois in 2011 and essentially out of practice since 2000, has garnered the most attention. Under Rauner’s proposal, cop killers and mass murders (those who kill two people or more at a time) would be eligible to receive the death penalty if convicted “beyond all doubt.”

“As the governor and I discussed the elements that should be included in his amendatory veto and the subject turned to the death penalty, he made very clear that it should be narrowly crafted as a new statute, not a return of the old statute,” said David Risley, the governor’s policy chief on public safety, who testified before the committee.

Lawmakers pushed Risley to be more specific in the definition of “beyond all doubt” and to provide examples of where that standard would be met. He said those like Saddam Hussein, Timothy McVeigh or John Wayne Gacy would meet such a bar.

But they were nevertheless critical, saying that the standard — a higher bar than reasonable doubt — is impossible to meet while questioning the motives behind the proposal.

“I don’t agree with this policy on it’s merit,” said Rep. Christian Mitchell, D-Chicago. “But if you were going to do it, this is slap-dash and haphazard and pathetically constructed beyond all recognition. If you do support the death penalty, this isn’t the way to do it.”

Rep. Kathleen Willis, D-Addison, a member of the public safety working group the governor formed a few months ago, called the proposal a “poison pill.”

But Ridley insisted that was not the governor’s intention.

“What he wanted to do was lay these things on the table instead of sitting back and being like a punching bag for critics,” Risley said. “He wanted to lay on the table what he was for, affirmatively, instead of just playing defense. And so this is the manner in which he choose to do so.”

Rep. Jonathan Carroll, D-Northbrook, the original sponsor of the cooling period legislation, agreed to accept Rauner’s recommendations so that a hearing could be held. He has not decided which way he will vote, however, saying “it’s important that we hear differing perspectives on this issue.”

But his motives were challenged by Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, who called the hearing “another roadshow” by Democrats.

“We are playing political games and disgracing the memories of these men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice,” Cabello said. “If you want to play games, sir, do it with other parts of this bill, of this amendatory veto. Don’t do it with this.”

But Carroll said it was the governor who waited to act on the bill. And with all the changes made, he wanted to ensure all the information could be digested.

Also testifying in opposition included Cook County Recorder of Deeds (and former Rep.) Karen Yarbrough, who was the sponsor of the 2011 abolition legislation. Representatives from the ACLU and Catholic Conference of Illinois also spoke in opposition, while Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz offered his support.

The committee will hear the non-death penalty aspects of Rauner’s public safety package on Wednesday.

Contact Brenden Moore: 782-3095, bmoore@sj-r.com, twitter.com/brendenmoore13.


Expanded use of HIV prevention drug faces stigma, lack of awareness
State Journal Register
Tuesday, May 22, 2018  |   Article  |   Dean Olsen
AIDS/HIV

At age 37, Ryan Bandy hasn’t seen any close friends or relatives die from AIDS.

 

That lack of intimate familiarity with tragedy, however, didn’t reduce Bandy’s determination to take a once-a-day pill the past three years that is more than 90 percent effective at preventing infection by the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

 

“This is just another layer of prevention,” said Bandy, a Springfield resident and openly gay man who owns two bars, including Club Station House, which serves a significant gay clientele. “As long as you can reduce the chances of getting HIV, you should.”

 

But Bandy, like health officials and AIDS activists locally and nationally, is frustrated that relatively few people who could benefit from “pre-exposure prophylaxis,” or PrEP, are using what would have been considered a miracle drug during the height of the AIDS epidemic. AIDS and the human immunodeficiency virus have killed more than 700,000 people in the United States and more than 26,000 in Illinois since the early 1980s.

 

Truvada, a pill containing two different drugs, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a PrEP regimen in 2012. But with better treatments drastically reducing death and disability from HIV and AIDS, advocates said barriers to widespread PrEP remain. They include lack of awareness, misperceptions about cost, lack of easy access and sexual stigma.

 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated in 2016 that 1.2 million people nationwide could benefit from PrEP — including HIV-negative gay and bisexual men with multiple partners, heterosexuals with multiple partners or an HIV-positive partner, and intravenous drug users.

But only 77,000 people — or 6 percent — were using PrEP, according to the CDC. In Illinois, the estimated number using PrEP in 2016 was 4,400. And in Sangamon County and nearby counties, a total of about 65 people were on PrEP.

 

Dr. Janak Koirala, an infectious disease specialist at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, called PrEP “a big stride forward in the prevention of HIV.” But he, too, estimated that fewer than 100 people in Sangamon County are on PrEP when potentially thousands of people locally could benefit.

 

HIV cases have dropped but disparities remain

In 1995, at the peak of the AIDS epidemic in the United States, about 43,000 people died from HIV- and AIDS-related illnesses. That was the same peak year for Illinois, when 1,828 people living with HIV/AIDS died.

 

By comparison, in 2014, there were 6,721 deaths directly attributable to HIV nationwide, and there were 567 deaths among people living with HIV/AIDS in Illinois, according to federal and state health officials.

 

The estimated number of annual HIV infections nationwide declined 18 percent from 2008 to 2014. Gay and bisexual men were the only group that didn’t experience a decline in infections nationally.

 

There were an estimated 1.1 million people diagnosed with HIV living in the U.S. There were more than 38,000 living with HIV or AIDS in Illinois as of late 2017, including 294 in Sangamon County, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

 

Big disparities in HIV infection remain when it comes to race in Illinois and nationally. Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men make up a majority of people living with HIV in Illinois and those who are newly diagnosed. Non-Hispanic black men represent a majority of the new infections in this population.

 

Among heterosexual women, non-Hispanic black women account for three-fourths of all HIV cases and new infections in Illinois, according to the Department of Public Health.

 

Jim Pickett, senior director of prevention advocacy and gay men’s health for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, said PrEP is “vastly underused ... but it’s incredibly effective.”

 

The medicine works by blocking pathways in the body that HIV uses to set up an infection, according to the state health department. It must be taken every day to ensure effective blocking of the virus.

 

The Sangamon County Department of Public Health began a major push this year to educate the public and medical community about PrEP with the help of a $20,000 state grant. The money has paid for seminars with doctors, billboards and print advertising, according to Joan Stevens Thome, the department’s director of health education.

 

The Illinois Department of Public Health operates and hotline for PrEP information (800-825-3518) and a website, prep4illinois.com. The department’s goal is to increase PrEP use by at least 20 percent by 2028 as part of the state’s “Getting to Zero” campaign to reduce new cases of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

 

“The numbers have been low,” said Eduardo Alvarado, chief of the state health department’s HIV/AIDS section. “We have a great opportunity in front of us to expand PrEP services.”

 

Middle-aged gay men are much more likely to be aware of and seek out PrEP, Pickett said. Younger gay men, especially blacks and Latinos, are the least likely to be on PrEP.

 

There are many reasons for low PrEP use among certain populations, Pickett said.

 

“We’re not really good arbiters of our own vulnerability,” he said.

 

The urgency to avoid contracting what used to be a terminal disease — but now is a chronic condition — isn’t there, especially for younger people who didn’t come of age during a tidal wave of AIDS deaths, according to Jonna Cooley, executive director of Springfield’s Phoenix Center.

 

“The mindset is, ‘Oh, I won’t die,’” said Cooley, 56. “We haven’t educated the young people today ... about what HIV and AIDS have been. It doesn’t make sense to me that this is still happening.”

 

Some racial groups in at-risk populations have lingering mistrust for the medical community rooted in situations such as the “Tuskegee Experiment,” in which black men with syphilis in Alabama were denied effective treatment from 1932 to 1972 as part of a federal research study, Pickett said.

 

In addition, many young gay men are unfamiliar with the health-care system, he said. And many people fear being shamed for their use of PrEP because it can indicate they don’t use condoms for every sexual encounter, he said.

Such shaming shouldn’t occur but is the result of the inability of some people in the gay community to change their thinking from a time when condom use was just about the only responsible way a sexually active person could practice prevention, Pickett said.

 

HIV wouldn’t continue to be a problem if men used condoms every time, he said, so people should take advantage of a medicine that is more than 90 percent effective in preventing HIV transmission, even when condoms aren’t used.

 

The shaming “shouldn’t be happening with this drug because it is helping the general public prevent a very costly disease,” said Dylan White, a medical case manager at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.

 

Truvada, which just last week received FDA approval for use by adolescents, can cost up to $16,000 annually retail, but it’s covered by Medicaid and by most private insurance. Truvada’s manufacturer, Gilead Sciences Inc., offers patients financial assistance. Illinois’s PrEP Assistance Program also helps patients pay for the medicine.

 

By contrast, the lifetime cost of treatment for an HIV patient is $466,000, Pickett said, and that cost can affect taxpayers through Medicaid and other public insurance programs.

 

The medicine has few side effects but requires medical checkups and blood tests every few months to make sure a patient remains HIV-negative and hasn’t developed any complications or acquired sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea, according to Dr. Vidya Sundareshan, another SIU infectious-disease specialist.

 

Patients with kidney problems may not qualify for PrEP but can receive a more kidney-friendly medicine that is effective, Sundareshan and Koirala said.

 

The two doctors prescribe PrEP. So does Springfield Clinic infectious-disease specialist Dr. Steven O’Marro, who said Truvada patients need to be committed to comply with monitoring and testing as long as they use the medicine.

 

PrEP advocates are trying to get more primary care doctors to prescribe Truvada because specialists can be more expensive for patients to use, and there can be longer waits to see them. Advocates said they want more patients to ask their primary care doctors about PrEP.

 

SIU family medicine doctors offer PrEP, and SIU internal medicine specialists are being trained on PrEP, SIU spokeswoman Karen Carlson said.

 

Central Counties Health Centers’ Dr. Gerardo Gomez, an internist, offers PrEP treatment, spokeswoman Heather Burton said.

 

Planned Parenthood of Illinois’ 17 health centers, including the outpatient clinic in Springfield, offers PrEP, according to Brenda Wolfe, statewide director of clinical initiative and education.

 

Many patients are not comfortable talking with their primary care providers about sex, Wolfe said. While Planned Parenthood hopes that situation changes, the nonprofit provider specializes in sexual health and welcomes potential PrEP patients, she said.

 

Bandy, the Springfield bar owner, said learning nine years ago that a man with whom he had unprotected sex had contracted HIV was a “wake-up call” that eventually led Bandy to learn about PrEP and ask his doctor about it.

 

“I’m very lucky,” Bandy said of his HIV-negative status. “We all have our wild and crazy moments.”

 

He said he tells many of his bar patrons about PrEP.

 

“Most people around here don’t even know what PrEP is,” Bandy said. “Condoms are still very important, including for other STIs. But condoms didn’t solve the AIDS crisis. Some people like to have unprotected sex, and you’re not going to change them.”

 


Pritzker giving, raising funds for ‘blue wave’
State Journal Register
Tuesday, May 22, 2018  |   Article  |   Bernard Schoenburg
Candidates--Statewide (12)

Democratic governor candidate J.B. Pritzker, after funding his own winning primary campaign, is now committing at least $3 million toward an effort to help elect other Democrats this November.

 

Pritzker on Monday announced what his campaign calls “Blue Wave Illinois 2018.”

In a fundraising email, Pritzker said contributions to the effort “will not just help elect amazing Democratic candidates across the state, but will make sure we have the field, digital, and messaging training and capacity to win.

 

“I’ll be supporting Blue Wave Illinois and I hope you do too,” he states.

 

Last month, Pritzker put out a video encouraging Democrats to step forward to get appointed to ballot vacancies so Republicans don’t go unchallenged in hundreds of races across the state. In that video, he referred people to a website, ilbluewave.com.

 

That site on Monday asked that people make donations to “a separate account within JB for Governor,” which is Pritzker’s campaign fund.

 

“Contributions made here will be placed in the Blue Wave Illinois 2018 account,” the site states.

 

Galia Slayen, spokeswoman for Pritzker, said that this week, Pritzker will provide $1 million each to funds that help elect Senate Democrats and House Democrats; and another $1 million to the Rock Island County Democratic Party, which is chaired by Doug House. House is also president of the Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association. Other Democratic candidates will also get funds, including $50,000 that will go to state Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, who is the party’s nominee for attorney general.

 

Details of the program were first reported by Capitol Fax.

 

“Not only has Doug House worked on the county level as a chair, but he is someone that we have worked with in his capacity as president of the IDCCA and we are confident in his ability to build a statewide, grassroots infrastructure that invests in counties across the state so we can beat Bruce Rauner and win campaigns up and down the ticket,” Slayen said.d

 

Republicans also have tapped money from Gov. Bruce Rauner’s campaign funds to help down-ballot efforts. In October, the Illinois Republican Party announced it had received $4.45 million from Rauner’s campaign to launch the “2018 Madigan Retirement Plan.”

 

Through that plan, the GOP said in a news release at the time, the party “will specifically target members of the Illinois House and Senate who empower their political boss, Mike Madigan.”

 

Madigan is Illinois House speaker and chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois.

 

The GOP money was also to be used to offer “unprecedented support to local GOP organizations by providing innovative grassroots tools, enhanced digital and data integration, and targeted support for local Republican candidates in an effort to defeat Democrats at every level who empower their party leader, Mike Madigan.”

 

GOP spokesman Aaron DeGroot has said that the application process for grants was open to all 102 county Republican organizations in the state.

 

“All contributions were made with no strings attached,” DeGroot has said. “They have total discretion over the use of the funds.”

 

Fred Floreth of Springfield, a member of the Republican State Central Committee from 13th Congressional District, said as of Monday, $75,000 total has been distributed to GOP central committees in 11 of the 14 counties that have territory in the 13th. That includes $10,000 to the Sangamon County GOP, and $5,000 each to the Christian, Montgomery and Macoupin County Republican organizations.

 

“I think anything that engages the local parties on either side is good for the process,” Floreth said.

 

With the November election on the horizon, Rauner and Pritzker camps criticized each other Monday about the respective party-building efforts.

 

Pritzker, said DeGroot, “is wholly committed to electing Democrats who are loyal to Madigan and will keep him in power,” adding that Pritzker and Madigan want to “work together to hike taxes after the November election.” And Colin Maynard of the Rauner campaign said Rauner is “challenging the broken status quo and fighting against the Madigan machine” while Pritzker is “fundraising for Mike Madigan’s candidates. ...”

 

Slayen responded that Pritzker is “not just an independent leader and thinker,” but someone committed to helping turn out voters and elect Democrats “across the state.” She also said Rauner, over the past four years, has spent tens of millions of dollars to support GOP candidates and “push his agenda of gridlock and dysfunction in Springfield that has decimated our economy and education system in Illinois.”

 

Slayen also said Blue Wave Illinois will not take money from corporations or their political action committees.

“We’re happy to have that support, and support from thousands of other people from all over the country,” said Steve Brown, spokesman for Madigan, of the Blue Wave effort. He characterized Rauner and the GOP as “a well-financed negative message machine.”


Rauner administration cited for hiring mismanagement
State Journal Register
Tuesday, May 22, 2018  |   Article  |   Doug Fink
CMS (29) , Rauner, Bruce

An inspector general’s report said Monday there was mismanagement in Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration in filling Rutan-exempt jobs at the Department of Central Management Services.

 

The Office of Executive Inspector General said workers in positions of “regional client managers” were not doing policy-making work that justified the jobs being exempt from Rutan anti-patronage protections. The report from the OEIG’s office faulted top management officials in CMS and in Rauner’s executive office for not ensuring the seven regional client managers were doing the work outlined in their job descriptions.

 

In 2004, nine regional client manager positions were created. A lengthy list of job responsibilities for those positions were also created, including policy making duties that qualified making the job exempt from anti-patronage rules.

 

Two of the positions were later eliminated and the job responsibilities somewhat reworked, but the title still remained Rutan-exempt. All seven of the remaining positions were most recently filled by the Rauner administration.

 

However, in interviews with the seven people who held those jobs, the OEIG’s office found they were doing little, if any of the work outlined in their job description that made the jobs Rutan-exempt. One of the client managers worked in the James R. Thompson Center and said his job included setting up tables and chairs for conferences. He also reported instances of burned out lights and stains on the floor, the report said.

 

Another manager who worked in the Bilandic Building in Chicago and said he ordered supplies for the building and monitored the shift from day to night janitors.

 

In a response to the report, Rauner’s office said it eliminated the regional client manager job title on Jan. 1 and fired the people in those positions. The office also said it is reviewing similar jobs that fall under a certain classification for Rutan exemptions to ensure no other examples are occurring.

 

Two of the CMS officials cited for mismanagement in the report have retired. A third was suspended for 14 days and counseled on properly carrying out his duties.

 

Michael Hoffman, who headed CMS at the time of the investigation, is now in charge of overseeing improvements to the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy.


Rauners move back into Governor’s Mansion
State Journal Register
Tuesday, May 22, 2018  |   Article  |   Brenden Moore
Rauner, Bruce

Rolling up in a beat-up van with their dog Stella in tow, Gov. Bruce Rauner and first lady Diana Rauner moved back into the Illinois Governor’s Mansion on Monday morning.

 

The Rauners had been taking up residence at the Director’s House on the Illinois State Fairgrounds for the past year while the mansion, the third-oldest governor’s mansion still in use, underwent an extensive yearlong renovation.

 

“I have to say, I’ll be happy not to be listening to the speedway anymore,” Diana Rauner joked, in reference to the fairgrounds. “I’ll listen to the trains instead.”

 

The mansion, 410 E. Jackson St., had fallen into a state of disrepair after decades of neglect and lack of upkeep. Before Rauner, Jim Edgar was the last governor to live in the mansion full time.

 

When all the dust is settled, the mansion will be ADA-accessible, feature a functioning kitchen in the private residence, and have a revamped visitor’s experience to showcase the history of Illinois.

 

“This is one one of the most historic, beautiful governor’s mansions anywhere in the United States, and we’re very proud to have it restored to its historic beauty,” Gov. Rauner said.

 

The mansion will include exhibits highlighting 1893′s World Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois life during the Civil War, the children who have lived in the mansion and an “Art of Illinois” project showcasing 80 pieces of fine and decorative art throughout the building.

 

Education will be key component to the new mansion experience, Diana Rauner said. This includes the creation of a visitors center on the first floor, which will provide space for orientations for large student groups and to show a short informational video before tours.

 

Diana Rauner has taken a lead role in the renovation efforts, co-chairing the non-profit Illinois Governor’s Mansion Association, which has raised nearly $15 million for the mansion from private donors. She said the association is “finalizing the list” of donors, which will be released to the public soon.

 

With the private foundation continuing to raise funds for the mansion in the future, Rauner said she is not concerned about future taxpayer liability to upkeep the property with most of the heavy lifting now done.

 

“Ensuring that the building is well-taken care of is really important,” she said. “One of the things that we’re so proud of is that this building will now be part of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and the Department of Natural Resources. It will be well-curated and well-cared for.”

 

Though the mansion is still under construction, it is slated to reopen to the public on July 14, in time for the state’s bicentennial celebration.

 

“We are going to have a large party, a large event,” Gov. Rauner said. “And our focus is to celebrate all that’s wonderful about the state of Illinois — everything that’s born, built and grown in the state.”


Lawmaker felt pressured by Democrats to quit part-time job
WICS
Tuesday, May 22, 2018  |   Article  |   Rachel Droze
Sexual Harassment (96) Cassidy, Kelly--State House, 14 , Madigan, Michael--State House, 22 , Rita, Robert "Bob"--State House, 28

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WICS) — An Illinois lawmaker is standing up to her own party after she alleged allies of Illinois’ powerful Speaker of the House targeted her for speaking out against how the party handled harassment claims.

Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, resigned from her part-time job at the Cook County Sheriff's Office last week.

She said she felt the Democratic Party pressured her to make that decision.

In February, Cassidy publicly stated that she thought an independent investigation was needed to look into harassment claims made by a democratic party volunteer.

Within days of that statement, Cassidy said Madigan’s Chief of Staff Tim Mapes called her supervisor to check on her employment status.

Cara Smith, the chief policy officer with the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, said Cassidy did come up in a conversation she had with Mapes, but said it was not in an accusatory or retaliatory manner.

Mapes declined to comment on the situation Thursday.

Cassidy said things escalated last week.

She said Rep. Bob Rita, D-Blue Island, who is sponsoring a bill backed by Cassidy’s employer, asked her why she was allowed to oppose a bill backed by her boss.

We've reached out to Rita for comment but haven't heard back yet.

In a letter sent to Cassidy by Madigan Tuesday, he said he didn’t retaliate against Cassidy in any way, nor did he ask anyone to do so on his behalf.

"He said he had no knowledge of this and he didn't direct anyone to do it,” Cassidy said. “I know he didn't because I told him he didn't have to. This is the operation you set up and this is always how you operated and until you get stopped it will continue."

Madigan also sent a letter to the Legislative Inspector General asking her to investigate the matter.


 

Cassidy said she came forward in hopes of changing the atmosphere for others.

"I’d like to ultimately find a path to make this place where it's safe to ask for something different,” Cassidy said. “Where it's safe to work free of that kind of treatment.”

The Cook County Sheriff’s Office said Cassidy resigned because she opposed their legislative agenda.

 

 


Local educators work to end teacher shortage
WICS
Tuesday, May 22, 2018  |   Article  |   Cymphanie Sherman
Education--Elementary and Secondary (36)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WICS) — The national teacher shortage continues to hit Illinois hard.

Right now there’s 1,000 open positions statewide and 20 of those vacancies are in Sangamon County.

“I've seen more vacancies for teaching positions than I have in the 23 years I’ve been in education," said Regional Superintendent Jeff Vose, with the regional office of education for Sangamon and Menard County.

Vose had enough, so he called Dr. Scott Doerr, the superintendent in Nokomis, who offers a dual-credit class for his students and asked him to help bring an education dual-credit program to the University of Illinois in Springfield.

"My goal here was to take our local students and bring them back to our communities,” said Dr. Scott Doerr, the superintendent in Nokomis.

For the first time, this fall, UIS is offering a dual-credit course for the teaching program.

Students will get credit on the high school level, as well as college credit in education.

The goal is to get more people interested in becoming an educator.

"They also can get experience with teachers to see what good teachers do and to see how excited teachers still are about teaching kids," explained Dr. Cindy Wilson, the Chair of the Teacher Education Program for UIS.

Right now, 20 students are enrolled.

The course starts at the end of August and goes until December.

If more students show interest, they'll offer another course in the spring.

For more information follow this link.


Seven counties in west central IL getting Opportunity Zones
WLDS
Tuesday, May 22, 2018  |   Article  |   Blake Schnitker
Economic Development (35) Davidsmeyer, Christopher "C.D."--State House, 100

Seven out of nine counties in Illinois’ 100th House District have been approved for Opportunity Zones through the federal government.

Jacksonville-based State Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer’s office is announcing the approval of these zones that create opportunities for tax-free investments that could lead to the creation of new jobs throughout west central Illinois. Among the seven counties in our area to receive Opportunity Zones are: Morgan, Greene, Pike, Sangamon, Macoupin, Madison and Jersey Counties. For those who might be unfamiliar with exactly what an Opportunity Zone is, Davidsmeyer provides a breakdown of how they function, and the benefits they create for communities in west central Illinois.

“Basically, the Opportunity Zones were created by the new federal tax plan from the federal government, and what it’s trying to do is leverage capital gains. So if somebody has investments in the stock market, or say they bought a house for $100,000 and it’s now worth $125,000, if they sell it, they have an extra $25,000 that they’d have to pay capital gains tax on. Or they could put it into an Opportunity Zone and not have to pay taxes on it, but basically the funds can be used to create new jobs and new businesses,” says Davidsmeyer.

Davidsmeyer goes over the various criteria by which Opportunity Zones are judged.

“I believe they were based on areas that have high unemployment or high poverty rates, so you’re looking at both large urban areas, and you’re also looking at extremely rural areas like our district. It really opened it up for a very diverse state like Illinois, and it had to be spread fairly evenly throughout the state, so it couldn’t just be in one area. You’ll notice if you look at the map, they’re placed throughout the state of Illinois,” explains Davidsmeyer.

Davidsmeyer also explains how these new Opportunity Zones will help bring new jobs to west central Illinois.

“I think everybody understands that the state is, for lack of better terms, broke. So trying to find funds to invest as far as tax dollars to help create opportunities for businesses is a little tougher right now, so this is a great opportunity for individuals, private citizens, to put their money in and allow their money to work to better our communities,” Davidsmeyer says.

In terms of the Opportunity Zone coming to Morgan County, or Jacksonville more specifically, it will cover an area south of Morton Avenue to Michigan Avenue, and stretch west to east from approximately Massey Lane all the way out, expanding until it reaches the incoming Enterprise Zone on the eastern part of town near the Jacksonville Country Club.