Will the looney wing of the Illinois Repugs let the Democrats off the hook?

Leader of the looney wing of the Republican Party, State Representative Jeanne Ives, rails against child care for those “who don’t deserve it.”

Illinois Republicans, at least the members of the looney wing, have gone ballistic over Bruce Rauner for signing HB40, a bill ensuring that women’s reproductive rights will remain in place in Illinois no matter how the SCOTUS decides and that abortions will be covered by state aid for poor women.

Repugs get their drawers really twisted over the idea that poor women should have the same access to reproductive choice as rich women.

Rauner has been on all sides of this issue over the past months since HB40 was passed by both chambers of the General Assembly. Ironically he chose to sign the bill on the day the SCOTUS agreed to hear his challenge to public employee unions’ agency fees and fair share.

That has been one of his major goals since he was elected.

Our governor is on the list of the most vulnerable Republican governors in 2018.

For the looney wing, his anti-union turnaround agenda was never quite enough. He never seemed to have that fire in his belly when it came to taking away the rights of poor women for example. Denying services for two years because the state had no budget didn’t satisfy the loonies.

Then he signed HB40.

The Chicago Tribune’s looney right-wing columnist Kristen McQueary went into a rage that we haven’t witnessed since she called for a Katrina-like hurricane to hit Chicago and have it just target Chicago public schools.

Access to abortions for poor women? No way, said Kristen McQueary.

So let’s be clear: The bill Rauner signed was not about protecting safe and legal abortion. It was about putting taxpayers on the hook for more abortions.

“I mean, you lied to a priest,” looney wing state Rep. Peter Breen said in a radio interview. “Once he’s done that there’s no one left that thinks this guy is a credible governor or candidate to continue to be governor going forward.”

Breen seems to forget that the Governor also promised Chicago Cardinal Cupich millions of dollars of state aid to Catholic schools. The Governor, the Mayor and the Democrats in Springfield delivered on that promise.

Suburban looney wing State Representative Jeanne Ives threatened to run against Rauner. If not her, somebody else from the looney wing will run.

If it is possible to get inside Rauner’s head and figure out motivation or strategy in signing HB40 it would be this: Having the looney wing backing a Republican state-wide has never been the path to victory in this blue state. He thinks he can peel away Democrats like he did last time after the pension betrayal by Democratic Governor Pat Quinn.

That strategy definitely worked last time.

He is likely to get challenged in the Republican primary. Is that a problem for him? I’m dubious.

Yet stranger things have happened. 

I’m thinking Donald Trump.

The problem for me is that all this sturm und drang on the Repug side over reproductive rights and public funding of abortion will continue to let the Democrats off easy.

We need to remind them that Quinn lost because Democratic voters voted Democratic but left the governor’s line blank.

That can always happen again.

 

 

 

 

 

Rauner’s education advisor Beth Purvis is leaving. Do the kids with autism who paid her salary get their money back?

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Rauner’s education czar Beth Purvis is departing.

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s education czar Beth Purvis will leave her post on Friday.

Purvis will join an unnamed national nonprofit where she will oversee educational philanthropy.

Purvis previously ran a network of charter schools, and was hired by Rauner on a yearly contract of $250,000.

Readers may recall that her salary came from a fund that supplied resources for students with Autism.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times under the Freedom of Information Act show that one of the highest-paid state employees hired under Rauner isn’t making a dent in the governor’s office budget.

 In March, Rauner tapped Beth Purvis, a former charter school director, as his education secretary at an annual salary of $250,000.

At the time it was the highest-paid position in the governor’s cabinet.

But her contract, signed March 13, indicates that she’s being paid out of the Department of Human Services, even as it indicates she will “report directly to the governor’s chief of staff or designee.”

Three weeks after Purvis’ contract was signed, the governor’s office announced that the Department of Human Services was strapped for cash, and sliced $26 million in services including for autism, epilepsy and burials for the indigent. The cuts, later known as “the Good Friday Massacre,” caused some programs to completely shut down. The cuts caused a furor, prompting House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, to call a public hearing on why it happened after Democrats said they believed a budget deal with the governor protected such services.

 The Department of Human Services in its mission statement says it aims to serve “those who are striving to move from welfare to work and economic independence, and others who face multiple challenges to self-sufficiency.”

Once Beth leaves on Friday will the kids with Autism get their money back?

Rauner is Trump’s mini-me when it comes to white supremacist terror.

When you got the news that a fascist member of one of the Nazi groups drove his car into anti-fascist, anti-racist protesters killing Heather Heyer, did it take you a couple of days to gather your thoughts about what had happened?

And what was your response to that robotic statement to the press Donald Trump gave yesterday after getting pounded for his “all sides” statement days before?

Total bullshit, right?

When you heard the news, did you have to consult with law enforcement officials to know whether it was domestic terrorism? Did it take you three hours to calculate the political pluses and minuses?

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner:

CHICAGO (CBS) – Gov. Rauner, after initially refusing to say the violence in Charlottesville, Va., was an act of domestic terrorism, on Monday corrected his position after consulting with law enforcement on the topic.

At an event on Monday morning, Rauner declined to say the death of a woman, killed when a car slammed into a crowd of protesters on Saturday, was terrorism.

About three hours later, speaking with reporters, he said he had since consulted with Illinois law enforcement to get a clear legal definition on the issue.

“Is it an act of terrorism?” an NBC5 reporter asked Rauner on Monday morning.

“It is outrageous and we’ve got to fight it,” he said.

“It is not an act of terrorism?”

“I did not say that.”

“Well, is it an act of terrorism, yes or no?”

“You define terrorism,” the governor replied.

Random thoughts. Spinners and blocks.

I’ve been away from elementary school kids for a while.  June will be the 5th anniversary of my last day in a classroom.

I’m out of the loop when it comes to the latest fads.

Over the past couple of days I have noticed that teachers on Facebook are complaining about spinners in the classroom.

I had to Google it.

They are a little fidget toy that sits on a pencil and, well, spins. I found it on Amazon for ten bucks. Not cheap.

I had a box of fidget toys in my art room. They were intended for students that were hyperactive, but any kid could get one when I was talking to the entire class or reading a story. We also had inflatable balls to sit on and cushions with little rubber spikes. The kids with Autism liked the tactile quality of the cushions, but any kid could sit on it until the newness of the idea passed and they went back to sitting on the floor or on one of our stools.

I checked with an old colleague about the spinners.

“The number of spinners last week is unreal. Stores sold out. Kids that need fidgets is one thing. Every kid spinning a spinner is crazy,” he texted me.

I understand.

I had to laugh to myself though. I used to teach color mixing with a piece of tag board and some string. We made spinners. After the second graders cut out a circle on the tag board they colored them with markers and we threaded string through two holes. They twisted the string and let go.

Voila!

Color theory in action.

Sometimes we put the disks on a pencil and spun it like a top with the same effect.

I should have charged ten bucks.

I have always had good ideas. I just am never was good at finding a way to monetize my good ideas.

On another topic, I was following the debate over HB40. It passed the Illinois House yesterday.

HB40 will pass the Illinois Senate and then get vetoed by Governor Rauner.

HB40 would do two things.

It would protect abortion rights in Illinois if or when the Supreme Court ever overturns Roe v. Wade. It also expands the availability of abortions in the state to poor women.

Most Repugs in the House voted against HB40. Most – not all – Democrats voted for it. Mike Madigan wants to use the vote as a wedge issue in the elections next year.

Rauner gave Madigan a gift. He was visiting a Beer Nuts factory and chomping them down while the debate and vote was going on.

Great optics, Governor. Beer Nuts contrasted with a concern for women’s health.

Meanwhile.

A new amendment to the House Republicans’ ObamaCare replacement bill exempts members of Congress and their staff from its effects.

The new changes to the bill would allow states to apply for waivers for certain ObamaCare provisions, such as a ban on insurers charging premiums based on a customer’s health and the requirement that insurers’ basic health plans cover certain services, like prescription drugs and mental health.

The GOP amendment exempts members of Congress and their staffs to ensure that they will still be protected by those ObamaCare provisions.

Politico’s Natasha Korecki reported on her Illinois Playbook that Tribune’s Kristen McQueary gets into it (HB40) with Trisha Rich over Twitter.

Kristen McQueary is the doofus member of the Trib editorial board that wrote the infamous piece wishing for a Hurricane Katrina to destroy Chicago’s public schools.

Which I helped bring attention to.

McQueary has not been a favorite of mine for a long time. She is a long-time union basher.

When I went to her Twitter link I got this:

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I am blocked by a member of the Trib’s editorial board whose Twitter handle is @StatehouseChick.

I wonder if the state house chick was sharing Beer Nuts with the Governor.

“No-choice” Rauner promises to veto women’s rights.

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Illinois’ HB40 was introduced by state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz and will likely pass both chambers of the Illinois legislature.

Governor Rauner, in spite of running as a social moderate, says he will veto the bill.

Being anti-choice on abortion rights for women is what passes for moderation in a Republican Party that is into vaginal probes and death sentences for women who seek an abortion.

Google it if you don’t believe me.

Pro-choice advocates are justifiably concerned that Trump may get enough votes on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.

If that happens and abortion rights laws become states rights, Illinois will be a no-choice state. Anti-choice laws are still on the books in Illinois and only Roe has kept them from being enforced.

HB40 would stop the so-called “trigger law” that makes abortion illegal in Illinois should Roe vs. Wade be overturned.

Need a reason to get Rauner gone before an anti-choice Supreme Court majority rules?

Bargain Grande. All foam. Can’t mess with our TRS.

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Rauner approval at Blago-levels.

I call what Rauner wants to pass in exchange for signing a state budget a Bargain Grande  -like something you would get from Starbucks except all foam and no espresso.

With voter approval ratings approaching Blago-levels and disapproval numbers looking more like the temperature I was feeling in Sarasota yesterday (60), The Ruiner has all but abandoned his Turnaround Agenda from two years ago.

He is now down to begging Emanuel and the legislature to let him cut pensions in exchange for $215 million to CPS’s pension debt.

Emanuel gets excited at the mention of cutting retiree pensions so he is open to it. But who cares what Emanuel is open to doing?

I believe it was Sue Sadlowski Garza who said on our radio show, Hitting Left, that even those who support the mayor don’t want to be seen with him.

Last week he threatened to cut state subsidies to the retiree health insurance.

The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that any reduction in public employee benefits is a violation of the pension protection clause of the Illinois Constitution.

The court held in Kanerva v. Weems that, under the Illinois State Constitution’s pension clause, any benefit of an Illinois retirement system “cannot be diminished or impaired,” with no exceptions for health benefits.

Sorry Charlie. Threaten all you like, but the subsidies will remain or the court will order it.

Same goes for the Rauner/Cullerton/Radogno pension bill that the Governor wants in exchange for the $215 million to CPS.

The pension reform offers a a choice of two diminishments. If it happens, the court will rule as it has consistently done.

They can’t do it.

And then there is Rauner’s third brilliant idea: A third tier of retirees. New hires wold go into a group that gets no defined benefit. They would receive a defined contribution annuity.

You know who would do well under a state pension system that is constructed around three tiers, one that includes current retirees and most current employees, one that includes some current employees and another that would be for future employees?

Tell you kids to study bookkeeping. That would be the growth industry.

A bookkeeping nightmare doesn’t begin to describe it.

I’m still waiting for those tier two teachers to hit retirement age and the state discovers they owe millions for violating federal Social Security safe harbor rules which requires a state pension be at least as good as what the employee would receive from Social Security.

Rauner loses to an unnamed Democrat. Unfortunately, the Democrats have to name someone.

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Bruce Rauner and Pat Quinn.

The latest Illinois poll on next year’s Illinois Governor’s race is good news and bad news for Governor Bruce Rauner.

On the one hand he is polling at 32 percent. That’s the bad news for the Governor.

The poll shows an unnamed Democratic candidate gets 47 percent. That’s more bad news.

The good news for Rauner?

The Democrats have to name somebody.

Recall that Bruce Rauner beat Pat Quinn last time by around 70,000 votes in an overwhelmingly blue state.

In spite of union support and plenty of campaign cash, Quinn was perceived as an anti-union, anti-pension, anti-working families governor even compared to Bruce Rauner. Many retired state employees and their families voted Democratic but left the governor’s line blank.

In the presidential primary last year, Bernie Sanders lost to Hillary Clinton by only 30,000 votes out of two million cast. Hillary went on to crush Trump in the general election.

Not only is Illinois a blue state, it is a progressive blue state.

The Democrats in Illinois should be able to take back the governor’s mansion.

Their only problem is that they can’t run an unnamed Democrat.

If they run a billionaire centrist in the Clinton/Quinn model who backs pension theft and targets the state public employee unions like Democrat Quinn did, their odds of winning decrease.

By a lot. And then we all lose with four more years of Bruce Rauner.

Download podcast. Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers. This week, an hour with CTU President Karen Lewis. New podcast on Friday afternoon. An hour with 10th Ward Alderwoman, Sue Sadlowski Garza.

30,000 Illinois state workers begin strike authorization vote.

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When billionaire businessmen take charge of government, chaos seems to follow.

The latest corporate thing is direct control of government by businessmen. It’s not as if they didn’t do it before, but they always went through a middleman, a politician.

Rauner was among the first to try a direct takeover.

Trump is into it now.

What a mess, right?

Illinois state workers who are members of AFSCME started voting on strike authorization. The voting will take a couple of weeks. You know the drill. It is not a vote to strike. It is a vote to give the leadership the authority to call a strike.

The Governor made a last, best and final offer to AFSCME members.

That’s a take it or leave it offer.

It’s an attack on collective bargaining.

Pro-labor legislators passed a bill calling for binding arbitration. The Governor vetoed it and the legislature failed to override.

(AFSCME’s Anders) Lindall said each of the union’s 74 locals will designate a time and place to conduct informational meetings about what a strike-authorization vote entails. Informational meetings have been going on for some time, he said.

Those meetings will cover what was in AFSCME’s framework to resume contract negotiations a year after the administration of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner broke them off, saying talks had reached an impasse. Last fall, the Illinois Labor Relations Board agreed talks were at an impasse, opening the door for the administration to impose its last, best and final offer on the union.

This is what happens when you give direct control of government to a businessman.

Chaos.

The Russians at work again? Democrats considering Pritzker and Kennedy for Illinois governor.

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It is now the Democratic Party’s official excuse that Hillary lost because of Russian interference.

It was the Russians and not voter suppression.

Or it was fake news.

Hillary lost because of fake news.

Or it was Julian Assange and Wikileaks.

There was also Edward Snowden. Jill Stein and Bernie Sanders.

And that guy Johnson who didn’t know what an Aleppo was.

And, of course, FBI Director James Comey.

And the Russians.

Mostly the Russians.

But it wasn’t about the Democrats picking Hillary, a pillar of the center-right wing of the Democratic Party and a symbol of all that people have grown to detest in electoral politics.

By every poll and measure, Hillary was the most disliked candidate in recent history.

Second only to the guy who won.

And now I suspect that with the race for Governor of Illinois less than 18 months away and with a chance to oust the most viciously anti-worker governor, the Russians are at it again.

What else can explain the fact that with Bruce Rauner’s polling running in the low 30s, and among the country’s most unpopular governors, the Democrats are considering running billionaire family members, J.B. Pritzker and Christopher Kennedy , to run against him.

The only reason these two are being considered – aside from support from the Russians – is that they are filthy rich.

A match-up between billionaires can only have one possible outcome. And not a good one for the working families of Illinois.

Last time the choice was between a union-hater and a pension thief.

I’m pretty sure the Russians had their hands in that one too.