Democratic State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz on the unresolved issues from the veto session

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Democratic State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz on the unresolved issues from the veto session

Rick Pearson talks to Democratic State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz of Chicago about the accomplishments in the veto session as well as the issues that were left unresolved. Sara touches on the proposed casino bill and her optimism in getting it passed, the graduated real estate transfer tax issue, and the continuous goal to not raise property taxes.

 


via WGN Radio – 720 AM

November 17, 2019 at 11:16AM

The Sunday Spin: Politics with Rick Pearson Full Show 11/17/2019

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The Sunday Spin: Politics with Rick Pearson Full Show 11/17/2019

On this edition of The Sunday Spin:

Rick Pearson speaks with Senate Republican leader Bill Brady of Bloomington about the final acts of the fall veto session in Springfield and what did, and didn’t, happen. Bill talks about IL Senate President John Cullerton’s retirement announcement; the successful move to consolidate pension funds for first responders; the failure of having anything concrete move forward in the way of banning vaping; and more.  

Next, Rick is joined by Michael Golden, President of Golden Mean Strategies, to get his thoughts on the public impeachment inquiry. Michael discusses the strategies being engaged on each side, the difficulties of forming a strategy with/for Trump due to his impulsive actions, and much more.

Then, Rick talks to Democratic State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz of Chicago about the accomplishments in the veto session as well as the issues that were left unresolved. Sara touches on the proposed casino bill and her optimism in getting it passed, the graduated real estate transfer tax issue, and the continuous goal to not raise property taxes.

via WGN Radio – 720 AM

November 17, 2019 at 11:15AM

JIM NOWLAN: Looking at a troubling future

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Many of us sense our great nation — that City upon a Hill — is slipping down the slope, yet we’re not sure how to restrain the slide.

Our democratic process is wonderful, yet not perfect. For example, frequent elections — combined with candidates who think the fate of the Western World rides on their personal re-election — induce politicians to focus laser-like on short-term gratification, their own and that of the voters. There is no political benefit, indeed there are costs, in thinking about the world our grandchildren will inherit.

Our political campaigns are rife with claims of leadership qualities, yet elected officials are really followers, not leaders, as maybe they should be in a democracy. Candidates pore over opinion polls to learn what they can talk about to curry voter favor, and what they must avoid.

The really tough, fundamental issues are rarely on America’s radar screen, among them the following:

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  • Social Security and Medicare. In a few years, both will run out of the money to pay full claims. Modest tweaking of the taxes and benefits could assure a future for both.
  • Debt. The recent federal tax cut for you and me is paid for almost dollar for dollar with $1.5 trillion in debt, piled atop many other trillions.
  • K-12 education. We talk about this endlessly, yet we ignore the imperative to lengthen the school day and year, and replace the long summer break with several shorter breaks throughout the year — as in other developed nations and China.
  • Higher education. According to the College Board, per student spending by state and local governments declined by 15 percent in real terms between 2000 and 2017, while student debt soared.
  • Health care. Expenditures have increased from 5 percent of GDP in 1960 to near 20 percent of a much larger real GDP today. Our governments have shifted spending from seed corn functions like higher education to meet health care costs, which are disproportionately claimed by old codgers like me. We are robbing young Peter to pay old Paul.
  • Health. We couldn’t have fought World War II with today’s young, of whom fewer than 3 in 10 can meet armed services standards, according to Pentagon data reported in the Wall Street Journal. Related, obesity is an expensive epidemic, pumping diabetes rates sky high.
  • A new political party, maybe the Party for the Common Good; we may be individualist by nature, but we’re all in this together. The two major parties are bankrupt. The Democratic Party offers little but identity hand-wringing and more spending; the GOP, more tax cuts paid with debt.
  • The Republican Party started out as a third party, and Lincoln won the presidency with just 39 percent of the vote. I think a plurality of voters would resonate to the call to address tough, even uncomfortable, baseline issues.
  • A national spreadsheet (today’s term is “dashboard”) that annually tracks and puts in our faces the trend lines of our progress or decline on issues such as those above. The Party for the Common Good could take the lead in this, as part of its focus on the future.

I worry readers might smile at my musings, as if our situation is beyond resolve. Yet, absent action on the fundamental problems, I worry about the future of our City upon a Hill, and of our grandchildren.

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Jim Nowlan was a senior fellow and political science professor at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. 

via Herald-Review.com

November 17, 2019 at 08:49AM

State Rep. Hernandez, Sheriff Hain to discuss criminal justice reform

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AURORA – State Rep. Barbara Hernandez, D-Aurora, is hosting a public safety roundtable to discuss the current criminal justice system with Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain on Nov. 20 from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Aurora Regional Fire Museum, located at 53 N. Broadway in Aurora.

“At my last public safety roundtable, we had a spirited discussion on back-to-school safety and gun violence, and I am excited for further discussion on criminal justice reform at this upcoming meeting,” said Hernandez. “Hearing directly from residents gives me the ability to create laws and policies to better serve them. It is especially important to discuss criminal justice reform with communities that historically have been negatively impacted by a justice system that is supposed to protect them.”

Hernandez is hosting her second public safety roundtable to discuss important aspects of criminal justice reform, including strengthening the relationship between police and communities, and the implications of the legalization of recreational cannabis and its impact on minority communities. This event is free and open to the public, and attendees will be invited to share feedback and ask questions.

"It is extremely important to facilitate an open, honest discussion on the criminal justice system, racial disparity in the U.S. jail system and root causes of poor police-minority community relations," said Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain. "I am honored to join Rep. Hernandez for this public discussion."

For more information, or to RSVP, please contact Hernandez’s constituent services office at 630-270-1848 or email RepBarbaraHernandez@gmail.com.

via Kane County Chronicle https://ift.tt/2r32Acp

November 17, 2019 at 05:45AM

Voice of The Southern: There are intangibles for FEMA to think about when it comes to flood victims

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Sometimes the math doesn’t add up.

Oh, the totals at the end of each column may match formulaic expectations, but the human bottom line is greater than the sum of cold numbers on a spreadsheet.

Such is the case in Illinois where the state’s application for individual aid for flood victims in Alexander, Union, Jackson and Randolph counties in Southern Illlinois and several counties in the Mississippi and Illinois river flood plains in other parts of the state has been rejected by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The numbers don’t add up.

The families in East Cape Girardeau that lost their homes, their family photos and their lives as they know it — they have been deemed ineligible for federal assistance because they are stuck on the wrong side of an equation. The same holds true for families living south of Olive Branch who had to boat to and from their home to keep an eye on things for most of the first six months of 2019.

Damage throughout the state was sufficient for Illinois to qualify for public assistance. That declaration will allow local governments, as well as churches and nonprofits, to be reimbursed up to 75 percent for flood-fighting expenditures repairs to public infrastructure.

In Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s letter of appeal to FEMA, it was pointed out that state agencies, counties and other units of local government spent $28 million fighting the flood, more than $9 million above the threshold for public assistance.

In cash-strapped Illinois, the public assistance funds are a welcome relief.

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Unfortunately, the federal math doesn’t add up as well for individual property owners. The state’s appeal points out that FEMA itself calculated $8,221,601 in damage to private property, which is slightly above the $7.5 million threshold where 90 percent of individual assistance requests are approved.

The unfortunate caveat for the flood victims, they are living in the poorest part of state that has a lot of private wealth. The wealth of successful entrepreneurs and industry titans in Illinois’ urban areas have little bearing on the person trying to get back into their modest home — except it means that they won’t be getting the money they need to get back on their feet.

The state’s appeal laid out that case eloquently, pointing out the unprecedented nature of the flooding — the longest flood in Illinois history, spanning nearly five months and affecting 2.1 million residents. According to the state’s figures, that represents more than 49 percent of the state’s population living outside the Chicago area.

It was also noted that more than 1,400 homes and numerous families affected by the flooding live in some of the most impoverished areas of the state. One of the counties affected by the flooding has a poverty rate of 30.3 percent.

What’s more, there seems to be some federal culpability in the actual flooding as well.

Much of Alexander County is impacted by the unrepaired breech in the Len Small Levee. When intact, the levee protected area residents when the Mississippi River reached about 50 feet. Since the levee was breeched nearly three years ago, flooding occurs when the river reaches 33 feet — something that normally occurs a couple times a year.

If the government isn’t going to fix the levee, it should either mitigate costs to repair homes, or institute a program to buy up properties and move residents to safety. It’s not unprecedented. The entire town of Valmeyer was relocated after severe flooding in 1993.

This statement from the state’s appeal makes the point eloquently, “(the lack of individual assistance) leaves once thriving communities at the point of no return as once longtime residents and business owners move away, unable to cope with the impacts that long-term flooding has had on the resiliency of our communities and residents.”

It’s time to re-add the figures, this time including intangible human costs in the equation.

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via thesouthern.com – RSS Results in opinion/editorial of type article https://ift.tt/2L723SH

November 17, 2019 at 05:59AM

Jim Dey | Madigan keeping his cool amid feds’ investigations

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A couple weeks ago, Democratic Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan found himself in a public forum where he had little choice but to respond to reporters’ questions about ongoing multiple federal corruption investigations.

He was, as usual, clipped in his remarks. But not, as usual, cryptic.

“I’m not a target of anything,” he said.

That may be the case, although his emphatic answer raises questions about how the speaker would know such a thing. The feds, after all, aren’t exactly garrulous when it comes to discussing their criminal investigations.

But if Madigan is not a target of investigators — and he may well not be — there’s no doubt that an array of his political associates are.

That’s why tongues were flapping this week in Springfield, where legislators had gathered for the now-concluded fall veto session.

One of the hot topics of conversation was a Chicago Tribune story that quoted anonymous sources as saying that investigators are taking a real hard look at one of Madigan’s best political buddies — former state representative-turned-lobbyist Michael McClain.

Earlier this year, McClain’s Quincy residence was the target of an FBI search warrant. That’s bad news for anyone.

But the Tribune story piled on with another stunner of a revelation. With court authorization, the feds have been listening to McClain’s phone calls with what surely must be a who’s who of political heavyweights in this state, including Madigan.

Here’s the key factor when it comes to federal wiretaps: They have to be approved by top dogs in the U.S. Justice Department, as well as a federal judge. To get a wiretap authorization, investigators must provide proof “that a specific crime was being committed but also that the target was using a particular phone to do so.”

In other words, this is no fishing expedition.

There is, of course, considerable speculation as to what the feds are up to, and it’s not easy to read the tea leaves.

For starters, there are multiple investigations underway involving multiple political heavyweights in Chicago’s municipal government, Cook County government and various municipalities outside Chicago and the General Assembly in Springfield.

Heavy hitters already have been charged on the basis of wires worn by other heavy-hitters who were caught and agreed to cooperate. Where all this is going will be fascinating to see.

This chapter in the annals of public corruption in this state could be the all-timer.

McClain and others occupy a narrow but powerful niche in this Byzantine affair — the confluence of power, money and influence where the major players ask, “What’s in it for me?”

It involves Exelon/ComEd, an array of lobbyists like McClain, Madigan associates, and perhaps Madigan himself.

What’s the deal? Well, a couple years ago, Exelon/ComEd hired a small army of lobbyists to push a bailout bill through the General Assembly that was characterized as necessary to keep open two nuclear power plans — one at Clinton and the other near the Quad Cities.

After the feds issued subpoenas to Exelon/ComEd, two things happened. The company’s CEO suddenly decided, along with another top-ranking executive, that it was time to retire. At the same time, the company announced that it would cooperate fully with federal investigators under the leadership of outside directors and lawyers and disclosed to the Securities & Exchange Commission that it was the subject of a federal investigation.

So what happened with Exelon/ComEd, the Exelon bailout legislation and the army of close Madigan associates who lobbied for the bailout bill? Was the legislative process regarding the bailout another example of business as usual, an above-board effort to save good-paying jobs, or some combination of the two?

Inquiring minds want to know. But they won’t know until the feds are ready to drop a bomb — or a series of them — on these unusual suspects.

One more thing: The leak about the McClain wiretap had to be calculated to draw a response from those who are starting to get nervous about their futures. Are the feds advertising that it’s time to play “Let’s Make a Deal”?

The possibilities are endless, just like the patience of investigators who are hot on the trail of a passel of slippery Illinois politicians and their hangers-on.

via The News-Gazette

November 16, 2019 at 09:09PM

Statehouse Insider: Cullerton announcement caps veto session

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Just three weeks ago, many people were talking about how uneventful the upcoming veto session would be, a snoozefest to be gotten through quickly and easily — and then forgotten.

Then former state Rep. Luis Arroyo, D-Chicago, was arrested for allegedly trying to bribe a state senator, along with news that a state senator was wearing a federal wire. That livened things up a bit.

And now there’s the stunning news that Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, plans to retire early next year. The only inkling that something was up came at the very end of the day Thursday in the Senate, as senators were packing up their stuff at the conclusion of the veto session.

“The Democrats are going to have a very short, but important, caucus after this adjournment,” Cullerton announced.

Important, indeed, as Cullerton told his members that he is hanging it up after a decade leading the chamber.

The four legislative leaders play an outsized role in the legislative process. They represent their respective caucuses in negotiations with the governor over major issues. Cullerton was known for seeking input from his members on issues and trying to build consensus among them — not an easy task with a diverse group like the Senate Democrats.

Cullerton’s departure will open doors to a virtual flood of candidates to replace him as president. The question is whether the process will play out relatively peacefully or leave lingering divisions. The history of the Senate Democrats has its share of, um, spirited leadership fights.

Cullerton’s legacy

Cullerton issued a statement listing some of the accomplishments he was most proud of during his tenure.

Those things included passage of two capital bills, marriage equality, abolishing the death penalty, school funding reform and immigration reform.

He also mentioned his work with former Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno in trying to end the disastrous state budget impasse under former Gov. Bruce Rauner. At a time when everyone else seemed absolutely dug into their positions, Radogno defied Rauner and worked with Cullerton to be the adults in the room and put an end to the impasse. When the deal fell apart, Cullerton said it was Rauner who pulled GOP votes away from it.

Anyway, it was a bold move worthy of remembering, even if it doesn’t qualify as an accomplishment.

Farewell statement

In his farewell statement, Cullerton said he’s been in the Legislature for 41 years and married to his wife, Pam, for 40 years.

He also said that his wife deducts the time he spent in Springfield on legislative business from their years of marriage. Consequently, he noted that he has only been married for 30 years.

Ethics reform pool

If you picked “do less” rather than “do more” in the “What Will the General Assembly Do About Ethics” pool, you win.

No, they didn’t undo any ethics laws already on the books, but they didn’t add significantly to the list either, despite a renewed focus on ethics thanks to federal investigations into seemingly everything.

Lawmakers did pass some mild new disclosure requirements for lobbyists. But there was no move to prohibit lawmakers from getting paid to lobby local governments. The argument is that such a ban has to be carefully worded so a legislator doesn’t get charged with a crime for simply speaking to a local mayor or the like.

A provision that would have made statements of economic interest actually, you know, useful was ditched. Those statements, which are filed by lawmakers and top state officials, have been ridiculed for years, but the decision was made that such a radical change needed further study.

The next pool is set for the end of March, when a new ethics commission will recommend changes to ethics laws. Strong recommendations or weak? You pick.

Contact Doug Finke at doug.finke@sj-r.com, (217) 788-1527 or twitter.com/dougfinkesjr.

via Journal Star

November 16, 2019 at 08:42PM

OUR VIEW: Illinois Statehouse ethics must improve

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State lawmakers are considering proposing new disclosure requirements for lobbyists and public officials.

As we would expect from Illinois, politicians flaunting the existing legislation has led to shocking-but-not-shocking raids, indictments and convictions.

The Harvard University Center for Ethics says Illinois is the second-most corrupt state in the country, just behind Kentucky. New Jersey, you’re not trying hard enough.

Since May, in excess of a half-dozen arrest and raids were carried out against Illinois officials and insiders, all having to do with assorted investigations of political improprieties:

• Illinois House of Representatives’ assistant majority leader Luis Arroyo was arrested and charged with bribery of a state official.

• FBI and IRS agents conducted raids on the home and offices of state Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Chicago, who resigned his chairmanship of the Senate Transportation Committee.

• The FBI raided the homes of three Illinois political insiders who are members of Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan’s inner circle.

• Chicago’s longest-serving alderman, Ed. Burke, was indicted on racketeering and extortion charges.

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• Cook County suburb government offices were raided by the FBI and IRS.

• Chicago Alderman Willie Cochran was sentenced for wire fraud.

• The office of Chicago Alderman Carrie Austin was raided.

An Illinois Policy Institute’s analysis says since 2000, corruption has cost the state in excess of $10 billion.

One of the key ongoing issues is lobbying. The measure also would require more disclosure by state lobbyists.

Unfortunately, the proposal does not address one of the stickiest and corruption-inviting Illinois tradition – state legislators lobbying local governments. That’s how Arroyo got in trouble.

Predictably enough, politicians who don’t like the heat are trying to turn around the glare of the spotlights. Take now-retiring Senate President John Cullerton, who said the ethics task force should investigate news organizations and see how they’re being funded. That’s easy to find out, sir, and it works the same way – find the public records, and find the receipts. No one has suggested new organizations have cost the state $10 billion this century.

Any law that clamps down on lobbying – particularly lobbying by state legislatures – would be a welcome one. The current proposal is a start, and a report is due at the end of March. By that time – and after undoubtedly more arrests, charges, indictments and convictions – maybe a closer look will shut off some of these potential problem areas.

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via Herald-Review.com

November 16, 2019 at 07:48PM

Will County communities debate allowing recreational marijuana businesses

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[Eric Ginnard – eginnard@shawmedia.com]

Who’s out?

Several communities, including Bolingbrook, Crest Hill, Frankfort, Homer Glen, Lockport, Mokena, New Lenox, Plainfield and Wilmington, have already elected to opt out of allowing recreational marijuana establishments.

Officials in these communities argued they simply didn’t want recreational marijuana businesses. “We just don’t want it here,” Mokena Mayor Frank Fleischer said. “There’s no reason for us to have it.”

Others argued they wanted to take a more cautious approach, especially considering there was further legislation coming from the state government to address concerns like public use and enforcement.

“I don’t know why I would want to be in a hurry to jump into something when the state itself has said, ‘Yeah, we passed the law, and we know there are a lot of unanswered questions – we’ll get to that later,’” New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann said. “I’d rather wait for later.”

When the Bolingbrook Village Board opted out of allowing recreational businesses at its Aug. 13 meeting, Mayor Roger Claar defended the decision on principle.

“I philosophically have a real problem with governments which have turned to drugs and gambling to balance their budgets,” Claar said during the meeting.

via Daily, local and breaking news for Joliet and Will County, Illinois | The Herald-News

November 16, 2019 at 07:47PM

State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz eyeing appointment to Senate seat of mentor John Cullerton

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The heir apparent is already in line to fill the soon-to-be vacated seat of longtime state Sen. John Cullerton.

Within hours of Cullerton’s shocking announcement at the end of the fall veto session in Springfield Thursday that he plans to retire in January, signs were already pointing to state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz to replace her fellow North Side Democrat in the Illinois Senate.

Feigenholtz — who worked as Cullerton’s district chief of staff for more than a decade dating back to his time in the Illinois House of Representatives before she was first elected in 1994 — said Saturday she has contacted Democratic ward committeemen who will eventually vote to appoint Cullerton’s replacement once he steps down.

Senate President John Cullerton.
Illinois Senate President John Cullerton.
AP

“I learned a great deal from John,” she said. “He’s been a great mentor, and we’ve had a great working relationship meeting the needs of the community together.

“But I’m excited to go on another adventure,” said Feigenholtz, whose 12th House District encompasses the lakefront half of Cullerton’s 6th Senate District. “I feel like I can be as or more impactful in the Senate compared to the House. But it’s a seismic shift with him not being there. It’s the end of an era, and he walks out on his own terms with his head held high.”

Feigenholtz said she was as stunned as anyone by Cullerton’s bombshell end-of-session announcement, ending a legislative career that has spanned four decades. She said her first call was to state Rep. Ann Williams, whose 11th District covers the western half of the Cullerton’s Senate district.

State Rep. Ann Williams, D-Chicago.
State Rep. Ann Williams, D-Chicago.
Sun-Times Media

Williams, the only other obvious candidate to potentially seek the Senate appointment, threw her support behind Feigenholtz to become Cullerton’s replacement.

“The three of us have been a really strong team. Sara brings so much to the table and she puts 100% of herself into every issue,” said Williams, who added that she wants to see things through as the recently appointed chair of the House Energy and Environment Committee.

While the successor for Cullerton’s Senate seat seems clear-cut, the race to fill his post as Senate president is poised to be a free-for-all, with a handful of leaders already being floated.

And as for who might eventually take Feigenholtz’s House seat, it’s too soon to say who might eventually land in that portion of the legislative game of musical chairs. Feigenholtz said she’ll still file to run for the House in the March election.

“There is no shortage of committed, educated, politically active folks around here,” she said. “I hope it’s someone who appreciates the diversity of the district.”

via Chicago Sun-Times

November 16, 2019 at 06:07PM

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