Thursday, April 30, 2009

Squashing the Green Bug

by Cal Skinner

My son has morphed from a 7-year old, “Dad, take the bug outside” type of guy to an 11-year old “I'll help you get rid of the ants, Mom” type of kid.

That probably led to the title of this article.

You see, the Illinois power parties are in the process of limiting electoral competition again.

It wasn't bad enough that write-ins have to register with the county clerk 60 days before the election. (That's before anyone but an insider even knows there is a possibility of winning a write-in for an office for which there is no candidate on the ballot.)

Now, Republicans and Democrats are so insecure that they want to further limit the Green Party from slating candidates.

And the Illinois Green Party, the only third party in Illinois with official party slating status, has noticed this incumbent protection bill.

Here's part of the email I received before the Senate Elections Committee voted 8-1 to shoot the bill out onto the Senate floor for certain passage:

“House Bill 723...would protect Illinois' incumbents by effectively ending the practice of slating, which will almost certainly decrease the number of competitive elections in Illinois.

"'Legislators in Illinois have an aversion to having someone run against them,' said Dan Kairis, of Elgin, who himself was slated in 2008 to run for State Representative, 55th district.

“'Rather than accept competitive elections as a necessary function of a democratic system, here we have legislators who want to avoid facing any competition in the future.'

“Kairis and other Illinois Green Party members will be attending the hearing to voice opposition to the bill. The ILGP is urging its members and anyone else interested in bringing democratic reforms to Illinois to call their state senators and tell them to vote NO on HB 723.

“To slate a candidate under current law, leaders of an established party meet and choose a candidate, based on a weighted vote.

“Slating can occur after the primary election if no candidate was nominated in the primary, or if the nominated candidate drops out or passes away.

“Currently, the three 'established' parties in Illinois who can slate candidates are the Greens, Democrats and Republicans.”

“If HB 723 passes, the process to fill vacancies in nomination would be become much more difficult, complicated and resource intensive.

“Candidates would not only have to seek the approval of party leaders, but they would also have to collect a massive amount of signatures in a short time frame.

“The additional requirements would also create more paperwork, which leaves candidates even more vulnerable to filing challenges that could keep them off the ballot.

“In fact, HB 723 would make running as an independent or creating a new party a much simpler an alternative for a candidate than running on an established party ticket.

“Despite the availability of the current slating option, in the November 2008 general election, 59 of 118 Illinois House seats and 20 of 40 Illinois Senate seats went unopposed in the general election.

"Even though half of all legislative seats go uncontested anyway, HB 723 will ensure there are many more uncontested races," said Steve Alesch, co-chair of the DuPage County Green Party, which slated a number of candidates in 2008, including an opponent to Rep. Mike Fortner (R-95th), the bill's chief sponsor in the House.

"This will have a chilling effect on democracy."

"With the scandals of Govs. Ryan and Blagojevich not far behind us, the citizens of Illinois are demanding reforms that would reduce the unchecked power of our elected officials," said Tom Abram, of Urbana, member of the Illinois Green Party coordinating committee.

"This bill is the exact opposite of reform, and it would only further erode the public's trust and confidence in our electoral system."

“The bill passed the House earlier in April with a 112-4 vote. “
Sponsored by first term western DuPage County State Representative Mike Fortner (95th District), House Bill 723 is an attempt to prevent a Green Party candidate from challenging him again in 2010.

Is that a classic conflict of interest and admission of vulnerability or what?

Fortner, who beat Green Party candidate Gerard Schmitt 32,257 to 10,024 last year, obviously doesn't want to bother with a fall election. Hard to take a fall vacation when one has an opponent.

And the DuPage County Republican Party doesn't want the possibility of a Green Party candidate running for
  • county board, as occurred in McHenry County when Frank Wedig ran in the Woodstock-Huntley-Lake in the Hills district last year (getting 8% of the vote, while the lowest winner received 28%) or

  • township office, as happened this year when door knocking Wedig ran only 158 votes behind the lowest Republican for Dorr Township Trustee.
The proposed maintain-the-power-party franchise language is below:
a vacancy in nomination shall be 8 filled only by a person designated by the appropriate committee of the political party
  1. whose name is submitted by that committee to the State Board of Elections within 60 days after the day of the general primary and

  2. who files nominating petitions with the number of signatures, and at the time, required for an independent candidate for that office under Article 10.
The circulation period for those petitions begins on the day the State Board of Elections receives from the committee the notice of the person's name.

The State Board of Elections shall hear and pass upon all objections to nomination petitions filed by candidates under this paragraph.
Of course, the bill passed the State Senate Committee. By an 8-1 vote. Only Republican Senate Elections Committee Spokesman Dale Righter of Matoon voted against the competition limiting bill.

In the Illinois House, only Mike Boland (D-Moline), Beth Coulson (R-Glenview), Paul Froehlich (D-Schaumburg), Keith Sommer (R-Morton) opposed the bill. Oak Park Democrat Deborah Graham voted “Present,” which has the same effect as voting “No,” because bills need a majority to pass.

= = = = =
The green bug above is used in advertising by Certified Master Arborist Wayne White. He specializes in saving ash trees from the Emerald Ash Borer, which is a plot by the Democratic Party, don't you know?

Posted first on McHenry County Blog.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - April 30, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 44,658 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the April 30, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swine flu in Illinois

by Jamey Dunn

Illinois Department of Public Health officials on Wednesday reported nine probable cases of swine flu in the state and are expecting more. Federal and state officials are making efforts to prepare for the possibility of the virus spreading in Illinois and the rest of the nation.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last reported 91 confirmed cases in 10 states and one death in Texas. The outbreak of swine flu in multiple areas across the country prompted the federal government to declare a public health emergency. The declaration is an administrative move to kick state and local government’s individual treatment and prevention plans into motion.

Dr. Damon Arnold, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said that the situation is serious but the state is prepared. “While this is indeed sobering, it is important to keep in mind— we are not helpless. The planning, preparation and training that the public health system has been doing since 2001 has us ready to deal with this threat.”

Gov. Pat Quinn made a move similar to the federal declaration with a gubernatorial proclamation that allows him to access state resources to address any needs that may arise. U.S. Health and Homeland Security officials released stockpiled medical supplies and anti-viral drugs, Tamiflu and Relenza, to the states, and the Illinois Department of Public Health expects the state to receive a shipment this week.

The Illinois State Board of Education has posted information and recommendations regarding swine flu and school closings on its Web site.


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Tell Me Why Yorkville Isn't in This Program to Stop Teen Car Deaths

Operation Click was started in Crystal Lake eight years ago. Sadly, Operation Click outgrew the Crystal Lake Holiday Inn.

Happily, 40,000 high school Illinois students from Harvard to Champaign were involved this year.

The program involves offering incentives to high school students to fasten their seat belts and not drink and drive.

Over 95% seat belt compliance is common. Harvard and Hebron reached and maintained 100% for the whole year...in their first year.

I so enjoyed the Crystal Lake award ceremony two years ago when Cary-Grove High School's Kate McNamee won.

The photograph above was taken by Graham Hill, sports photographer for the Chicago Slaughter, the arena football team that plays at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates.

It's taken of a winner at an Operation Click awards ceremony – Johnsburg High School's Jeremy Cable.

He won a won a Chevrolet HHR donated by Gary Lang Auto Group.

Other car contributors are

Crystal Lake Pontiac/GMC (Crystal Lake Chapter)

Libertyville Chevrolet (Wauconda Chapter)

Marquardt Pontiac/Buick/GMC in Barrington (Barrington Chapter).

Worden-Martin Pontiac/Buick/GMC in Champaign is donating two cars (Champaign Chapter in memory of Caleb M. Roche and the Champaign County Chapter).

Black Diamond Plumbing and Electrical (Woodstock Chapter).
My thanks to Crystal Lake Police Officer Sean McGrath for providing the photo and the information. McGrath is seen above on a YouTube presentation of the program produced by Dobbe Marketing and Afterglow Creative Services.

More articles on Operation Click coming up on McHenry County Blog.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - April 29, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 44,617 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the April 29, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Panel votes to close two health centers

By Hilary Russell

In an 11th-hour move, Gov. Pat Quinn sent a letter requesting an extension in the decision to close the William A. Howe Developmental Center in Tinley Park, a Chicago suburb. The letter was sent to members of the legislative Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, requesting a minimum 30-day extension to complete his own assessment of the facility.




Howe, which houses developmentally disabled adults, has had its share of problems in the past three years. It was decertified almost two years ago by the federal government for failing to meet minimum standards of care, forcing the state to pick up the check for the center’s operating costs.

Prior to today’s vote, committee members expressed dismay concerning the governor’s actions.

“This is a difficult decision for all the members of this commission. I just think it’s irresponsible of the governor at this late stage to come in with a letter and ask us to delay this decision,” said Sen. Bill Brady, a Bloomington Republican. “My opinion is, the worst thing we can do is be indecisive. We should make a decision for the commission and move forward for all those affected, and I just can’t fathom why we would grant an extension at this late date, even for the governor.”

In an effort to explain the governor’s actions, Michelle Saddler, Quinn's director of policy, and Sean Vinck, chief legislative counsel, spoke on his behalf. “The principle that’s guided us is a fundamental one. First, do no harm,” said Vinck. “We’re very concerned about taking any other action because we fear unintended consequences, so we take it with great seriousness. … We decided that the best course to pursue was to engage an outside consultant who can objectively and meaningfully evaluate the circumstances and give a recommendation based on wisdom, good philosophy and good practice, and that’s the position we’d like to take.”

With 12 members present, the vote was deadlocked 6 to 6, but with a quorum of seven votes needed to deny the governor’s request, the motion died and Howe is now recommended for closure. However, the State Facilities Closure Act makes a closure by the commission only advisory to the governor.

Similarly, the committee members also voted to close Tinley Mental Health Center. Both facilities occupy the same parcel of land. Members voted 9 to 3 in favor of closure.

Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a Northbrook Democrat, voted yes on both measures. “I think (Quinn has) been trying to find someone for a while to take a different look at Howe, … but the timing of (the request) was a little stunning,” she said. Nekritz said closing either facility won’t happen overnight. “In order to adequately meet the needs of the residents, it’s going to take months to do that because they’re going to have find appropriate placements, placements that the families are comfortable with. And that’s going to take awhile for the department to work through, but they’ve been planning for this, so I think that they should feel they can do this in fairly short order, in a matter of months.”

Rep. Richard Myers, a Colchester Republican, also voted to close Howe. He said that visiting with the Illinois Department of Human Services, which supported the closing, gave him reason to consider his position. “Looking at the facts about the operations there, and the question surrounding the deaths and the fact that we haven’t been able to be certified by the federal government to receive Medicaid reimbursement,” he said. “All of those facts combined suggested to me that it is time to close that facility.” But if the governor accepts the commission’s recommendation, Myers expects there to be a public outcry. “In the past few days, our office has received numerous calls from families who wanted it to stay open because they felt their care there was such that they were able to continue to stay together,” he said. “And I can understand that. Others, of course, feel there’s a real lack of care.”

Advocates who wanted the center closed cite at least 30 deaths that have occurred on the grounds in the past 2 ½ years, one as recent as last month.
See background here.

Tom Green, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Human Services, said he is pleased with the decision made today by the commission.

Sheila Romano, executive director of the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities, said in a statement: “Howe’s closure is a very difficult, emotional issue for all parties who are advocating for what they believe is best. We urge the people of Illinois or elected officials and policy-makers to reflect on whether there is a place for a failed institution that has lost all federal funding due to repeated allegations of substandard care and neglect.”

Advocates who want the center to stay open tell a much different story.
Belinda Baker, director of the Mechanical and Transportation Department at Howe Developmental Center, said she thinks members made a terrible mistake. “First they need to review all of the facts and look at the data that we’ve provided that shows we give quality care to all of the patients and residents of Howe,” she said. As for any alleged incidents of mistreatment and the number of deaths reported in the past three years, Baker said, those can happen anywhere.

“You’re going to have deaths at any facility based on the age and the health issues that some of our residents have,” she said. “The majority of those are attributed to natural causes. They were not because of any abuse or neglect.”

Betty Turturillo, president of the Howe Family and Friends Association, said the group is “is outraged that the members of COGFA think they know better than us what is best for our loved ones.” Turturillo added that the closing of a facility like Howe doesn’t just affect the patients. “The real ‘choices’ that have been offered to Howe families if our center closes are no choice at all. We would have to choose between moving to another state center much farther away or settle for fewer services in the community, often in more isolated settings, that could endanger our loved ones.”

The commission’s recommendations are filed May 9, 2009, at which time Quinn will either accept the vote or proceed with an independent inquiry into Howe before issuing a decision.

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A fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans

Yesterday, the Senate Republicans voted to keep government barriers in place from citizens and taxpayers from voting while the Democrats in the Illinois Senate Elections Committee voted to reduce some of those government restrictions from citizens voting in elections.

The place was Room 400 of the Illinois Capitol (the same room where President Barack Obama used to chair the Health and Human Services Committee five years ago). The occasion was the meeting of the Senate Elections Committee yesterday. And the topic of discussion was House Bill 267, a proposal advanced by Senator Meeks to cut in half the 14-day period before each election when the government no longer permits citizens to register to vote at their current address.



The four Republican Senators (Dale Righter, Randy Hultgren, David Luechtefeld and Dan Rutherford) were united in opposition to the very concept that the legislature might limit the amount of time that the government denies citizens the ability to register to vote. That would lead on a very dangerous path, they said, to same-day voter registration. Besides, the idea of a herd of voters just showing up to vote that are presumably uneducated in not good government, they said.

Got that? The government officials are going to judge which of the taxpayers and citizens -- who decide whether they get to keep their job -- are worthy enough to vote.

The Democrats -- James Meeks, Terry Link, Ira Silverstein, Lou Viverito and Maggie Crotty -- were united behind the bill and the belief that there should be as few restrictions as possible put up by the government between the people and the ballot. The bill passed on a party-line vote, and it will likely pass the Senate on a party-line vote.

I should have been happy, since I drafted the bill and testified in favor of it. But I was left with a very sour feeling. Why would the Republican legislators oppose the bill -- when the election administrators who run the elections were good enough to suggest an amendment last month that removed their opposition to the bill? So even though the bill is not an administrative burden on the people who actually conduct elections in Illinois, the Republican Senators still opposed the bill on principle!

I think this is a hint as to why the Republican Party is dying. On the same day that Pennsylvania (a big, northern industrial state like Illinois with big cities and small towns) lost its last Republican Senator and went into all-blue status with Arlen Specter's switch and the day before a popular Democratic President celebrates 100 days in office and the most ambitious progressive federal agenda in 30 and maybe 70 years, this vote in the Illinois Senate Elections Committee showed me that Republicans have a hostility towards regular people getting more power. They have a fundamental streak of elitism. And it's deadly for them.

There are exceptions. Beth Coulson and Sid Mathias, two suburban Cook County Republicans, voted for the bill in the House. But every other Republican voted no and every single Democrat voted yes. I think there might be a Republican Senator or two that votes yes.

But at base, the principle that the government should stop citizens from registering to vote -- not because it might be administratively difficult or because there might be fraud, because the election administrators who run elections agreed not to oppose the bill, but just because on principle it is better for democracy and for government if fewer people vote -- that's one of the principles of the Republican Party.

And as long as the Republican Party believes that we're better off when fewer people vote, we Democrats are going to be running governments for a good long time.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

If the flame is extinguished- UPDATED

By Jamey Dunn
Quinn is sticking to his back-up plan of tackling ethics issues at the ballot box if the legislature does not approve substantial reforms by the end of this session. However, the state Constitution limits the issues voters can petition to get on the ballot.





“If things don’t go exactly according to plan, there is a process in Illinois that exists that allows people to go to the ballot box,” Quinn said outside his Statehouse office this morning. “And I haven’t been a stranger to that over the years, and we certainly will examine that, if necessary. But, I hope it isn’t.”

Despite Quinn’s generally optimistic and cooperative tone, Quinn essentially said if the legislature fails to make major changes in the way state government operates, he would look to the voters to do it for them.

He’s tried to do that in the past. However, the proposals were blocked from the ballot by the Illinois Supreme Court in 1976, when it ruled the initiatives did not fall under the limited scope set by the Constitution. The state charter limits voters from changing anything other than the section that deals with the legislature. And any proposed changes have to pertain to “structural and procedural subjects.”

The governor said he would like to broaden the way voters can amend the Constitution by allowing them to also consider initiatives related to ethics, which he said would “give the voters ongoing power to enact ethics wherever needed.”

Quinn backs other changes that were not recommended in the report, including recall of elected officials and extending public financing beyond judicial races to the other branches of government. He said that he hopes to get a recall amendment on the ballot in 2010. UPDATED: Lawmakers are considering several recall amendments. Some would grant voters the power to recall executive officers only, and some would apply to the legislative and judicial branches, as well.

Commissioners said they could not reach a unanimous decision on whether to recommend a recall amendment, so the report lists “recall” as needing further consideration.

Quinn said that because many of the proposed ethics reforms have been discussed for years, the General Assembly should be able to make decisions on them by the end of session. “The people of Illinois are impatient, and they feel it shouldn’t take long at all to enact good government and clean government.”

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Pass of the torch

By Bethany Jaeger
Gov. Pat Quinn’s Illinois Reform Commission issued its final recommendations for reforming Illinois government, passing the torch to the state legislators to act before their scheduled May 31 adjournment. While some reform measures appear slated for widespread agreement and enactment, other provisions are more controversial and expected to take a lot more time to negotiate.



Quinn said today that if the legislature fails to act, he might resort to grassroots citizen action to place major reforms on the 2010 ballot. But the state Constitution may limit his power to change anything beyond legislative procedures. (See our next blog, “If the flame is extinguished.”)

Commission chairman Patrick Collins, a former assistant U.S. attorney, said for legislators or opponents who say the commission’s recommendations equal “pie-in-the-sky” ideas, every proposal has been tried in other states or jurisdictions. “It is no excuse to say that these can’t be done because they have been done,” he said.

Commissioner David Hoffman, inspector general for the City of Chicago, said anything short of comprehensive and bold reforms would foster more of the same. “In general, our standard is that reform should not be piecemeal, it should not be tinkering, it should not be minor.”

While commissioners are open to discussing changes with legislators, Hoffman said the commission’s final report is the measuring stick for meaningful change. (See highlights of the commission’s recommendations here.)

A few of the recommendations are new concepts for this legislature to consider, meaning lawmakers will have to build to a new comfort level before acting, said David Morrison, deputy director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform in Chicago. That comfort level might not come until proposals are spelled out in new legislation. “It’s not enough to describe the cake. You have to give the recipe, too,” he said.

Even for the controversial proposals, Morrison said he’s encouraged by the commission’s thorough report (the appendices alone take up 152 pages), which resulted from active engagement from people throughout the state. The commission’s effort also couples with the legislature’s special joint government reform committee. “There’s real intentional, deliberate action that may come out of this,” Morrison said.

Commissioner Brad McMillan, executive director of the Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service at Bradley University in Peoria, spoke directly to the cynics during a Statehouse news conference this morning: “We have a new governor. We have new leadership in Springfield. We have a rare moment in time where the public believes that public corruption and ethics reform is the No. 1 issue in this state. We are hoping that this convergence will mean real, meaningful reform gets passed this legislative session.”

Law enforcement
Something new for legislators to consider is the commission’s concern that state law hamstrings state-level investigators. In turn, Illinois tends to rely on federal prosecutors to go after such public corruption cases as former Gov. George Ryan, political insider Tony Rezko and, now, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, among many others. According to the report, prosecutors in most other states have powers and resources similar to those of federal investigators. Not Illinois. The commission said this state is only one of four that prevents states investigators from recording conversations with consent of one of the parties.

Also, the Illinois attorney general can convene a statewide grand jury to investigate some crimes but not cases of public corruption. That contrasts with Pennsylvania and most other states, according to the report.

Morrison said the idea of strengthening the powers of state prosecutors was one of the “most inspiring” recommendations. “We plainly cannot rely on federal law enforcement to police Illinois politics,” he said. “We need something that’s going to move faster than that.” It took prosecutors more than seven years to prosecute and convict Ryan.

Legislative reaction
Legislators are expected to debate some of the proposals soon, but Rep. Lou Lang of Skokie said the commission’s recommendations are “not necessarily the Holy Grail.”

“Just because the Collins commission says jump, it’s not our responsibility to say, ‘How high?’” he said.

Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno said areas ripe for change include those where Illinois lags behind other states. She said some issues, including beefing up the Freedom of Information Act or cleaning up state contracting practices, could move quickly. Others, including campaign contribution limits, could take longer. “Some of the things we’ve already kind of vetted, and now we need to act,” she said. “Others we need to vet for the first time.”

Limiting the length of time state legislative leaders can serve in the top positions, for instance, hasn’t been debated. And it’s unlikely to find traction any time soon.

Limiting the amount individuals and political committees can donate to politicians has been debated, but it’s far from a consensus. Democratic Sen. Susan Garrett of Lake Forest said however controversial, she expects campaign contribution limits to get to the Senate floor for debate. “Absolutely, yes. I can’t imagine there not being a vote. I think every independent commission that is testifying across the state and hearing from different elected officials, the trend is, yes, Illinois needs to have caps on contributions.”

The amount of the cap is at least one sticking point. “We may be voting for two or three different caps,” Garrett added.

On the other hand, procurement, or the way the state contracts with service providers, is one area where widespread agreement could expedite reforms. But legislators are unlikely to go as far as recommended by the Illinois Reform Commission, which suggests pulling out all chief procurement officers and putting them into a new, independent state agency. Procurement officers expressed concerns last week about whether new rules would slow down an already cumbersome process.

Rep. Renee Kosel, a New Lenox Republican, said: “I think it is essential that we do all of it. Otherwise, you’re just going to leave ways to go around it.”

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - April 28, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 44,572 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the April 28, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Swine flu update

By Jamey Dunn

While Illinois has no confirmed cases of swine flu yet, health officials said today the virus eventually will reach the state and that they are prepared for it.




Dr. Damon Arnold, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said in a Statehouse press conference, “We fully expect to see confirmed cases within Illinois state at some point and time.” The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last reported 40 confirmed cases in the nation. Seven people who got tested in Illinois this past weekend were cleared. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, no pigs in the United States have tested positive for the virus.

Illinois already has an emergency plan for serious communicable diseases. Arnold said the department created a virus pandemic plan a few years ago when bird flu became a threat. “People are actually in place already and know what their jobs are,” he said. Arnold added that his agency is constantly monitoring the situation.

The symptoms of swine flu resemble the common flu but typically are more intense. They can include fever, chills, sore throat, body aches, headache, fatigue and lower back pain. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are less common symptoms.

Andrew Velasquez III, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, said anyone who has debilitating symptoms, including difficulty breathing and severe vomiting, should go to a family physician or hospital for testing. He also said that people whose symptoms start to improve and then take a turn for the worse should seek medical attention. The elderly, children younger than 18, and individuals with respiratory illnesses or weakened immune systems are especially at risk.

Arnold said that there are two types of standard seasonal flu viruses going around, so people who get sick should not immediately assume it is swine flu. He said that if people have mild flu symptoms, they should treat them the way they would normally treat flu at home and only go to the doctor if that doesn’t work.

Velasquez added that anyone who feels sick after recently traveling to an area with confirmed cases of swine flu should seek medical attention. The incubation period for the flu averages three to five days. If travelers do not get sick after seven days, they shouldn’t worry about being infected.

Both Arnold and Velasquez said that their agencies are taking the threat seriously and coordinating their efforts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as state agencies and local health departments.

Arnold said that because no cases of swine flu had yet been diagnosed in Illinois, agencies should take the time to asses their plans and ensure they are ready when and if the swine flu comes to Illinois. He also called on citizens to avoid panic. “We always take our own pulse first. You know, take a deep breath. This is something that we will get through. We have an incredible team of people, who are working on this every day —every minute of every day. We feel very well prepared.”

Updated information about swine flu and tips to stay healthy can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - April 27, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 44,540 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the April 27, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bringing the Kids to Springfield for Gifed Ed Day

It's time for OneMan's annual pilgrimage to Springfield talk about gifted education funding with OneDaughter and now OneSon in tow (they are both gifted, suffice to say they take after their mom).

Remember last year the former Governor now Reality Show Star(tm) used my daughter to avoid the media. So who knows what kind of fun we can have...

So besides for pulling a legislator off of the floor and the standard tourist stuff (we have family in Chatham, we have done the tourist stuff) I am again looking for suggestions, post below or send me a e-mail

OneManBlog@yahoo.com

Thanks

OneMan

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A Very Civil Editorial

While I have my share of criticisms about much of the recent output of the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board (which I'll discuss at a later date), I want to give credit where credit is due. They put out a cogent and thoughtful editorial in support of HB2234, Rep. Harris' bill which would legalize civil unions in Illinois.

In so doing, they recognize the fact that much, but certainly not all, of the tensions over this bill are rooted more in semantics then they are in substance:
Unnoticed in the uproar is that most Americans favor extending the benefits and obligations of marriage to same-sex couples -- just as long as it goes by a different name. Call it marriage, and most people bridle. Call it a civil union, and some 55 percent of citizens are in favor.
While Rep. Harris and other advocates of the bill have put in countless hours trying to explain to our colleagues what the bill is, and isn't, about, there are obviously many of them who are nevertheless opposed to the proposal, often times citing moral or religious reasons. It's to this mindset that the Tribune does, IMHO, a great job of setting the record straight.
If it's enacted, gay couples will gain the right to do things that heterosexuals take for granted: make emergency medical decisions and funeral arrangements for a partner, visit each other in the hospital and share a nursing home room. More important, perhaps, it will protect kids by placing same-sex couples that split up under the same rules that govern divorce, while assuring access to survivor benefits when a de facto parent dies.

By this compromise, the state would promote long-term commitments and the well-being of children. But it would avoid the intense emotions that surge around anything altering the traditional definition of marriage, which for many people has deep religious meaning. Harris' bill stipulates that no religious entity may be forced to bless such unions.
Nothing in HB2234 requires anybody to approve of homosexual couples if they choose not to. Rightfully, nothing in the bill imposes any requirements or restrictions upon any religious institutions or entities. Rather, in a modern-day version of the civil rights struggles of the 60's, the bill simply extends equal legal rights to a class of people that some people would prefer didn't have those rights. The bill should be passed. Now.

To read or post comments, visit Open House

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - April 26, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 44,509 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the April 26, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - April 25, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 44,486 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the April 25, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com Thanks

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Friday, April 24, 2009

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - April 24, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 44,446 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the April 24, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

State historic sites reopen

by Jamey Dunn

After facing uncertain futures and becoming pawns in a game of political revenge, the state’s closed historic sites reopened today.

The 11 historic sites were closed last year, along with several state parks, by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich in a move that many said was politically motivated. Gov. Pat Quinn would not say that Blagojevich closed the sites out of retribution for lawmakers, but he did say that his predecessor’s decision was not a “rational” one.

The money to reopen the sights was included in the mini-capital plan that passed early this month. Jan Grimes, director of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, said that even in difficult financial times for the state, it’s important to preserve history. “It’s times like this when we face historic challenges that we most want to look back on how others managed change before us, how others endured and even thrived,” she said.

Quinn signed an executive order to merge the Historic Preservation Agency with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in what he described as an effort to streamline government and save money. The agencies will officially combine July 1.

Quinn said the state’s historic sites draw tourism and help to bring money to local economies. “When people go to visit another city or another place, they want to see unique things that are special that make a difference. And the Dana-Thomas House is one of those, and the other historic sites are, too,” he said.

The sites that reopened are:

  • Apple River Fort in Elizabeth
  • Bishop Hill
  • Hauberg Indian Museum at Black Hawk State Historic Site in Rock Island
  • Cahokia Courthouse in Cahokia
  • Dana-Thomas House in Springfield
  • Fort de Chartres in Prairie du Rocher
  • Fort Kaskaskia in Ellis Grove
  • Pierre Menard Home in Ellis Grove
  • Jubilee College in Brimfield
  • Lincoln Log Cabin in Lerna
  • Carl Sandburg’s birthplace in Galesburg (This site will not actually open its doors until April 25 because it is only open to the general public on Saturdays and Sundays.)

Although the money needed to keep the historic sites open was not specifically included in Quinn’s budget proposal, he said that the sites will remain open through the next fiscal year.





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Blagojevich Editorial Cartoons

by Cal Skinner

Maybe now that Judge James Zagel has ruled that former Governor Rod Blagojevich may not go to Costa Rica to participate in an NBC-TV reality show, maybe the desert island ridicule of him will shift to other aspects of the farce we are watching.

But, before the ruling Chicago Sun-Times editorial cartoonist Jack Higgins came up with a “What might have been.”

He has Zagel giving Blagojevich a choice of sitting in a room with U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald “with only the aid of a court-appointed attorney” or “spending a week on a desert island with two hungry cannibals.”

“Heh-heh. That's an easy one!” the coiffured one replies.

The bottom part of the three-paneled cartoon shows the sun setting over the ocean with a one palm three island being circled by sharks.

Two men are fighting over a long bone.

“HEY –
LEGGO
MY
BLAGO!”

one says to the other.

Have you seen these other cartoon depictions:



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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - April 23, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 44,410 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the April 23, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Walking the Walk – Gov. Pat Quinn Leads by Example

by Cal Skinner

Governor Pat Quinn has released his income tax forms to at least the Chicago Sun-Times.

Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney reports that Quinn earned $120,226 last year.

More interesting to me was that he contributed to $12,379 to charitable organizations.

Over 10%.

10.26%, to be more exact.

You will remember the Biblical suggestion that believers tithe 10% of their income to church. In fact, tithe meant a tenth in Old English.

Why is this worth a story?

Check out what now-President Barack Obama gave to charity before and after he gained the national spotlight.

Compare what Obama, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and retired President George W. Bush contributed to the percentage donated by Quinn.

All are less than what Methodist Church founder John Wesley recommended:

Gain all you can.

Save all you can.

Give all you can.
Wesley died with very little, having given away what he got as it came to him.

Any other politicians who want to share their percentage of charitable giving, drop me a line at McHenry County Blog.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Quinn lights the way

By Jamey Dunn
Gov. Pat Quinn commemorated Earth Day by signing an executive order to make state agencies more “green,” while several measures addressing environmental issues are under consideration in the legislature.


Quinn signed the executive order after announcing that several light bulbs in the Executive Mansion will be replaced with more efficient LED bulbs, and rain barrels will be placed around the building to catch water for gardening. The LED bulbs, which were donated by a company called The LED Way based in Skokie, are expected to save more than $4,500 a year.

The executive order sets goals for agencies to cut waste and energy consumption:

  1. Cut solid waste production 40 percent by 2015.
  2. Reduce paper consumption 20 percent by 2012.
  3. Decrease electricity and natural gas usage 25 percent by 2025.
  4. Lessen petroleum consumption 20 percent by 2012.

And after 2025, 60 percent of the new vehicles purchased by the state would have to be hybrid gas and electric vehicles, and 15 percent would have to solely run on electricity.

Quinn said that the order is geared at “making sure that our state government and our universities and our community colleges and our local governments really are focused on sustainability and a green way of thinking and a green way of acting.”

According to Sarah Wochos, a policy advocate for the Environmental Law and Policy Center in Chicago, the order puts Illinois on par with environmental goals set in many Midwestern states.

Meanwhile, several measures in the House and Senate address environmental concerns:

A bill that advanced to the Senate sponsored by Rep. Karen May, a Highland Park Democrat, would require state-owned buildings to be cleaned with only environmentally friendly products.

Another measure that passed the House would potentially make environmentally friendly products or services more competitive in the bidding process for state contracts. Agencies could consider a “green” product or service that costs up to 10 percent more than a regular product or service under this proposal by Rep. Michael Tryon, a Republican from Crystal Lake.

Perhaps the most controversial bill would create a so-called cap-and-trade program for Illinois. Companies that vent large amounts of carbon emissions would have to buy carbon credits from the state to offset their pollution. A certain amount of credits would be auctioned off to create revenue for the state.

A cap-and-trade program for carbon is being considered in the U.S. House, as well (summary here).

In Illinois, Sen. Heather Steans, a Chicago Democrat, is sponsoring the Senate version of a state cap-and-trade program. She said that she doesn’t think it’s time for the state to pass its own program. However, she said she hopes the bill will help to pressure Congress to take action on a nationwide program.

House sponsor Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a Democrat from Northbrook, agrees. But she said that if legislators approach a statewide cap-and-trade policy as a potential revenue source, it might be realistic to consider it during the current budget crisis.

Wochos said that a state as large as Illinois has a responsibility to address its impact on the environment, and it is time for lawmakers to start making some tough choices. “I can understand legislators and politicians being risk-averse, but we are at a critical crossroads,” she said. “Now is time to get real.”

Much of the legislation under consideration does not have any real teeth. Most bills include suggestions and not mandates, and Nekritz said it can be difficult, especially in a financial crisis, to get additional funding to make projects green. She is pragmatic about the possible timing for passing any strict environmental legislation. She said that the state can expect to see some major changes, such as a policy that regulates carbon emissions, “when we have the votes.”

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - April 22, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 44,370 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the April 22, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit http://www.gopillinois.com/. Thanks

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Alternative transportation

By Jamey Dunn
A transportation and business group is proposing what it says is a more specific plan than Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposal for major construction plans for roads, bridges and transit.

Sen. Martin Sandoval, a Cicero Democrat and chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, came out in support of the Transportation for Illinois Coalition’s proposed capital plan today. The coalition claims the plan calls for more state money than Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposal for a capital plan, but almost $10 billion less than the coalition says the state should be investing in its infrastructure.



According to a 2006 study commissioned by the Transportation for Illinois Coalition, the unfunded need for Illinois transportation projects exceeds $23 billion. That number has not been adjusted for inflation. Linda Wheeler, a transportation consultant for the Transportation for Illinois Coalition, said the findings mirror the Illinois Department of Transportation’s estimates of the unmet needs.

In an attempt to be more realistic about the state’s budget restraints, the coalition has since pared that number down to a $13.5 billion “minimally adequate” plan. Michael Kleinik, Transportation for Illinois Coalition co-chair, said, “There is little money for expansion in this proposal, but it does bring us closer to where we need to be.”

Wheeler said that Quinn’s proposed budget is not specific enough about how much state money would go toward transportation and that it uses some creative accounting techniques. She said that some of the money that is listed as highway funding actually would go toward debt service on bonds.

Sandoval said he wants to fund the alternative plan with a motor-fuel tax increase, which he said has support in the Senate. However, he said he supports a higher increase than a version proposed in the House, which seeks an 8 cents per gallon increase. Sandoval said that he thinks there is little to no support for Quinn’s proposal to spend part of the money from an income tax increase to fund a capital plan.

While Sandoval had the backing of business groups, labor unions, transit officials and transportation experts, he was the only legislator making a pitch for the coalition’s proposal.

Sandoval urged swift action to hammer out a plan that could find enough votes to pass. “We are at a crossroads literally and figuratively here in Illinois, and if we don’t get it right today, I don’t know if we ever will.”

Many of the speakers who addressed the Senate committee this morning raised concerns that too much squabbling in Illinois over a capital plan could hurt the state’s image in Washington, D.C. and possibly damage its ability to seek increased federal funding in the future.

“It’s not lost on me, and I think it’s not lost on anyone in Washington who follows what’s going on in the states, that Illinois has struggled to come to terms with what it needs to do in the long term,” said Janet Kavinoky of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “But, the longer you debate and discuss and struggle with who’s going to invest in what, and who’s going to get credit for what, … it appears chaotic.”

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Health care scare

By Hilary Russell
State employees who want to decide which doctor they see or what hospital they are admitted to may have to re-think their health care options.

According to the legislative Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, state employees collectively would be on the hook for $200 million more for their health insurance plans. The commission met with medical providers today to determine whether existing contracts should be renewed for next fiscal year, which starts July 1.





Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration is seeking a health insurance policy that would charge state employees more in monthly premiums if they chose more flexible plans, as opposed to a managed care policy. For example, employees enrolled in the most flexible plans currently pay about $90 a month. Under the administration’s proposal, that premium would increase to nearly $310.

Retirees also would pay more, under Quinn’s proposed operating budget. If approved by the General Assembly, retirees who are not enrolled in Medicare would see the biggest increase. They currently pay about $13 a month for state health benefits. That would increase to about $583 a month.

“That’s a big change,” said Rep. Frank Mautino, a Spring Valley Democrat. “It’s a change from $13 a month, which is unrealistic, to $7,000 a year. People have worked under that and retired under the premise that the state would pay the predominant share of their insurance. Now the governor’s budget assumes that they will pick up about one third of the cost, and that will come as a big surprise.”

The increase in premiums is, in part, an effort to encourage employees to sign up for less expensive managed care plans. The flexible plans allow patients to see any doctor they prefer, while managed care plans limit patients to see doctors on a pre-approved list.

Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a Northbrook Democrat, said that with the increase comes the question of how to pay for it. “What one doesn’t pick up, the other has to. It’s not going to be easy to tell employees that their premiums just increased 5,000 percent. On the other hand, can we come up with another $200 million? Where does it come from? I don’t know. Ultimately, those are the questions we have to work through in the next six weeks.”

Collectively, the projection for Illinois’ State Employees’ Group Health Insurance Liability tops out at $2.1 billion for the next fiscal year, compared with $1.9 billion last year, according to the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.

Hospital board chair steps down
By Jamey Dunn
Dr. Quentin Young withdrew himself today from consideration as the new chair of the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board because of a possible conflict of interest.

Last Friday, Gov. Pat Quinn named Young, a health care advocate who previously served as Quinn’s physician, to head the board.

According to a statement from Quinn, Young withdrew his name when he realized that his former practice owns part of a property that rents space to a health care provider. Young still has a stake in the practice, and Illinois law bars the head of the hospital planning board from having financial ties to any institution licensed under the state’s hospital licensing act.

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Forty days and 40 nights

That cliché of the day indicates the number of days state legislators have to negotiate major spending and revenue proposals before they’re scheduled to adjourn their spring session May 31. With ethics reforms, health care negotiations and construction projects in the mix today, alone, lawmakers have a ton of work to do in the next five and a half weeks.




Government reforms
By Bethany Jaeger
Today marked the first time that Gov. Pat Quinn’s Illinois Reform Commission directly interacted with the joint legislative committee on government reform, both of which are working separately on some of the very same topics.

Today, however, the commission was asked to narrow its testimony to state procurement and contracting practices. The focus conveniently skipped over one of the commission’s most controversial proposals: limiting campaign contributions. So-called contribution limits topped the commission’s first set of recommendations late last month.

It’s hard to avoid the link between campaign contributions and state procurement decisions, said Commissioner David Hoffman, inspector general for the City of Chicago, particularly when repeated investigations reveal that public funds flow through contracts to the same companies that shovel large amounts of money into candidates' political campaigns. “You’ve got to get to both sides of the equation, the pay side and the play side,” he said.

But the commission abided by the committee’s request and focused on ideas for state procurement reforms. The commission’s recommendations are intended to improve transparency and insulate the process from political influence, preventing such alleged scandals as requiring state contractors to go through political fundraiser Bill Cellini. Commissioner Patrick Collins, a former assistant U.S. attorney, said Cellini was not a state employee, but prosecutors allege that he exercised significant influence over which firms received state business.

“We are entering a critical period in the next 40 days,” Collins said. “The state will learn much about itself. This is a gut-check time. … The nation is watching.”

The Illinois Reform Commission suggests creating a new department to house all state procurement officers, making them independent from the state agencies and from the governor’s office. A new procurement monitor also would oversee and review contracts.

The state already has a Procurement Policy Board to oversee contracts; yet, Hoffman said because members are appointed by the governor and the legislative leaders, they’re powerless to resist political pressure. Hoffman said the goal is not to change the procurement rules but to change whom the procurement officials report to.

Legislators and some state officials aren’t fully on board with the commission’s idea to consolidate procurement officers into a new department because needs are so different when hiring companies for road construction, power supply or higher education material.

Auditor General Bill Holland added that consolidation efforts under Blagojevich resulted in members of the governor’s inner circle playing key roles in selecting the companies that received state contracts. In one instance, a state contract was granted to an agency that did not yet exist. (See Holland’s 2005 audit for background.)

The commission plans to release its second set of recommendations next week, marking 100 days since the panel started holding public hearings throughout the state.

Senate President John Cullerton said the committee will consider all of the commission’s recommendations, but he also intends to speak with Quinn to find out what he wants to pursue. House Speaker Michael Madigan indicated the legislative committee and the governor’s commission would work closely together to draft legislation.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - April 21, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 44,329 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the April 21, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Mental health providers fear cuts

By Bethany Jaeger
While human service providers have long fought for more state funding, mental health and substance abuse providers who offer services at the community level say they need as much as $93 million to prevent thousands of people from losing access to critical services next year.



Frank Anselmo, chief executive officer of the Springfield-based Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois, said Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget proposes $26 million less than last year for mental health services and $12 million less for substance abuse services. The cuts have a cumulative effect, Anselmo added, because the state reimbursement rate for Medicaid providers doesn’t cover half of the cost of providing the services to needy clients.

The association surveyed providers throughout the state to ask what would happen if the legislature approved the cuts this spring. Providers reported that more than 16,000 Illinois residents could lose access to treatment in their communities by July 2010. And the nearly 30,000 people who do have access to treatment could receive reduced services.

Diane Knaebe, president of Heritage Behavioral Health Center in Decatur, said at a Statehouse news conference this morning that the agency could serve 400 fewer clients in Macon County next fiscal year and decrease services by at least 10 percent for existing clients if more funding didn’t come through.

Lora Thomas, executive director of the Illinois chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said saving money by not funding mental health services often causes untreated conditions to eventually demand costlier care in emergency rooms, prisons and nursing homes.

The Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois’ goal is to access existing state funds, increased federal reimbursement funding and new state revenues to help pay for mental health services, substance abuse services, backlogged Medicaid bills and health care for Illinois veterans. According to the association, about $35 million sat dormant in dedicated state funds during the last few years of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s administration and continues to be unused. The Illinois Department of Human Services had not responded to questions by the time of this post.

At least 10 senators of both political parties have signed on to a resolution, SJR 31, urging Quinn’s administration to tap into the unused state funds, as well as increased federal Medicaid reimbursements available through the federal stimulus package, to support mental health and substance abuse services. But the resolution is not binding.

If new revenue came into Illinois through a state income tax increase, community providers want part of it dedicated to human services. Anselmo said the group also supports the concept of increasing the sales tax on alcohol by 1 cent or 2 cents per alcoholic drink.

Watch for more on funding of mental health and other human services soon.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - April 20, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 44,286 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the April 20, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Why Townships Don't Just Reduce the Amount They Tax?

After the Grafton Township meeting (if you have never been to one, take a look--lots of pictures, plus an explanation of what happened), Township Assessor Bill Ottley came over and asked why I cared about the proposed Town Hall.

After all, I don't live in Grafton Township. (We live right on the Algonquin-Grafton Township line. Appropriately, it is called “Meridian Street.”)

He told me the township board did not need a referendum to borrow the month.

Frankly, that would not surprise me.

My Algonquin Township added onto its Route 14 building without referendum approval.

Somehow I missed that in all the state representative business of the time.

I told Ottley that non-referendum borrowing to buy Lakewood's golf course (Red Tail) had cost me $500 a year for the better part of the 1990's and that's why I was such a strong supporter of the Tax Cap and holding referendums when local governments borrow large sums of money.

He explained to me that the cost would amount to about $7 a year per household.

I was willing to grant him whatever figure he came up with.

He is a finance guy, after all.

He said it wouldn't raise taxes.

There I interjected that, while financing a new township building and garage might not raise tax bills from where they are not, if the new building were not constructed, township taxes could be reduced by $7 (or whatever the figure is) a year.

That's when I got the answer to the question in this article's headline.

Ottley told me if the township ever asked for less than it was getting, it could never get it back.

I pointed out that it could, if a referendum could be passed.

He suggested that—passage of a township tax hike referendum—was unlikely to occur.

He is probably correct.

Much of the opposition to the $3.5 million (plus over $1.5 million in interest) Grafton Township office complex and garage is based on opposition to township government's very existence.

Few would argue with a straight face that township supervisors should be paid what they earn.

I was reminded to write this story by Brian Slupski's Northwest Herald story on the failure of the Dorr Township electors to approve the purchase of land for a new town hall at its annual town meeting.

Here's a clue that fits into Ottley's revelation:

“(Dorr Township) had set aside about $2 million for the project in the township fund and about $750,000 in the highway district’s road fund.”
That brought about an
“Ah ha!”
moment.

I don't know the size of the Woodstock-based township's town fund, but, if someone looked, he or she might conclude that a $2 million surplus is hard to justify.

But just as with Grafton Township, if Dorr Township asked for less money than the maximum it is allowed to collect under the Tax Cap law, it would then end up with a lower base for the next year's request.

That would result in less money every year thereafter.

Downsizing government is pretty much against all the laws of political nature, of course.

= = = = =
Grafton Township Assessor Bill Ottley is seen addressing the April 14, 2009, Annual Town Meeting. The Town Meeting photo shows the current township trustees voting to continue with the new town hall building project.

Posted first on McHenry County Blog.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - April 19, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 44,259 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the April 19, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - April 18, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 44,217 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the April 18, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Friday, April 17, 2009

New leadership for a board with history of corruption

by Jamey Dunn
Gov. Pat Quinn announced today his pick to run the state health planning board that has been recently plagued by scandal.


At a Chicago news conference, Quinn named Dr. Quentin Young, his one-time personal physician and an advocate for health care reform, to chair the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board. Young has served as chairman of the Department of Medicine at Cook County Hospital and president of the American Public Health Association. He is currently the national coordinator for the universal health care advocacy group, Physicians for a National Health Program.

The board approves major construction projects and equipment purchases for health care facilities in Illinois. They could include such improvements as “who gets to have an MRI machine and who gets to build a new wing,” according to Chris Mooney, political studies professor with the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

The choices the board makes have a substantial financial impact on many in the health care industry. Because of that, Mooney described the board as “a place that has attraction to those who are interested in making money.”

That apparently was the attraction that drew former board member Stuart Levine, and former Gov. Rod Blagojevich fundraiser, Tony Rezko to seek control of the board. The two used their influence over the body, which also considers proposals for new hospitals in Illinois, to pressure interested parties for kickbacks. Levine, a former board member, has pleaded guilty to corruption charges, and Rezko, a friend and adviser of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, has been convicted on corruption regarding their dealings with the board.

Mooney said that past corruption on the board does not mean that there will continue to be problems under new leadership.

“Obviously some pigs went to that trough,” He said. “But that doesn’t mean that would always be the case.”

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - April 17, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 44,163 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the April 17, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - April 16, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 44,098 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the April 16, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The TEA Party in Cary

When my son and I got to Cary we discovered people who had been at the Crystal Lake demonstration, 550 strong according to Libertarian Party Chair Dave Brady of Wonder Lake.

This was the third McHenry County TEA Party I visited April 15th. The second was on Route 62 in Algonquin.

We parked at Kelli's Cuckoo's Nest across from the Metra station. She offered free pizza to protesters. (All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.)

When I recognized some protest signs and asked what had happened in Crystal Lake, I was told that the Crystal Lake Police closed down the demonstration at one.

Apparently, Crystal Lake requires a permit and an insurance policy if more than 50 people are going to demonstrate and organizer Jim Thompson said his demonstration would be from noon to one.

So, a number of people just drove down the road to Cary.

There Cary Coffee Shop proprietor John Bobrytzke didn't contact city government.

His location, across Main Street from the train station, didn't attract many demonstrators. That was because people figured out that more motorists could see their signs from Route 14.

But Bobrytzke is the reason the demonstrators were there.

He stepped out in front and the rest of us followed him to bring the message to homebound commuters in Cary.

And, it's a superb location for a protest, because not only motorists, but those taking the train could see their signs.

I'm sure the Metra engineers were not blowing their horns because of the signs, but, then again, I don't ever remember hearing a train horn blast in Cary before.

Again, big trucks blowing their air horns brought a thrill to my body. Above you see a Crystal Lake-based W. Smith Cartage gasoline truck “blowing”around the corner past the old village hall.

Sometimes when the trucks and cars were not blowing their horns enough for one sign carrier, she pulled out a tiny air horn to make some noise.

Not that it was silent for long stretches.

This man was the chief horn honking cheer leader. He was so persistent.

And, when the folks on the street couldn't get a honk, there were people like this lady with open windows giving the sign holders a “thumbs up.”

How far did people come?

This man, a sign shop owner from West Frankfort, IL, came up to Palatine to help out a buddy and they both came up to Cary for the demonstration.

I found an anti-U.S. Senator Dick Durbin sign in Cary.

Every once in a while another horn-blaring semi would breeze through town. Here's one from Custom Companies.

As in Crystal Lake, a police presence was evident. In Cary, they weren't in cars. They were standing in full view of the demonstrators. Pretty easy duty.

“Term Limits” were the answer to one man.

Another man had the simple message of
NO
MORE
TAXES

A bit longer, but quite understandable message was

ENOUGH IS
ENOUGH
DAMN IT
Her friend's says

CONGRE$$
YOU'RE
FIRED!!!

One of the woman who drove down from the Crystal Lake event was pro-life leader Irene Napier. Her sign said,
To Steal From One
Person Is Theft
To Steal From Many
Is Taxation

Next to her on the Southeast corner of the intersection I saw the above.

There was one of the few non-homemade signs nearby.

A family of four was on the north side of the street. Two flag wavers and two sign carriers.

They could see this scene across the street if they looked. I like the sign held by the little girl saying,
I'm a kid.
Don't Spend
My Money
Before I Earn
It!

A longer view of that side of the street showed this.

It was crowded in front of the little park with a pond next to the old Cary Village Hall.

There were two misplaced Obama supporters standing on the traffic island next to the railroad crossing. They were electricians whom I suppose were not working on tax payment day.

Posted first at McHenry County Blog.

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