Rauner kills. Nursing homes and veteran homes.

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My drawing from 2014.

Bruce Rauner ran for governor promising to run the state like he ran his businesses.

Promises made, promises kept. And so people died.

Before running for Illinois Governor Rauner ran GTCE, a private equity firm that owned, among other things, a chain of nursing homes.

In November of 2014 In These Times writer David Moberg wrote:

GCTR had also assembled a chain of nursing homes, Trans Healthcare, Inc., for which Rauner had been making decisions four years after it was founded, the Chicago Tribune discovered—not the one year that Rauner claimed he had been involved. During those years, the nursing homes were sued and charged over $1 billion for at least six wrongful deaths. At the same time, investors, including GTCR, created a financial shell for all of the chain liabilities that was turned over to one of the residents of the nursing homes, thus protecting the assets of the investors.

Then there was yet another disquieting twist in the final weeks of the campaign. The Chicago Sun-Times, recently purchased by a group of investors including Rauner and still owned by many of his friends, pulled Dave McKinney, the paper’s long-time statehouse political reporter, off his reporting on the nursing home story and all politics on the grounds of questionable appearances because his wife works as a political consultant.

Six people died as a result of GTCR management.

The Sun-Times has since been sold to a group of Democratic Party liberals headed by Edwin Eisendrath.

Chicago public radio WBEZ broke this story Tuesday:

In three straight years, legionellosis killed 13 people and sickened at least 61 residents and staff at the downstate veterans’ home, and the state has failed to stop the outbreaks and other cases despite investing millions of taxpayer dollars.

The tragic and continuing ordeal at the 210-acre facility in Quincy has heightened scrutiny over how well Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration has managed a deadly public health crisis that started after he took office.

A WBEZ investigation is spotlighting how veterans who endured unspeakable experiences on the battlefield died at the facility after being sickened by bacteria-contaminated water. Their families contend they weren’t diagnosed nor given antibiotics quickly enough to fend off what typically is a treatable form of waterborne pneumonia.

And now, Illinois’ senior U.S. senator, Dick Durbin, is saying the facility should be shuttered until its water system is fully safe. And he said it’s a “scandal” and an “insult” to veterans that the state hasn’t been able to rid the facility’s water system of Legionella bacteria over the course of nearly 30 months

….

Eleven families are suing the state for negligence. But because those deaths occurred in a state facility, Illinois law caps any potential awards at $100,000 — well below the seven-figure outcomes Legionnaires’ cases have yielded in litigation elsewhere.

In 2015, a dozen residents at the home died in the first outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, which can be contracted when people inhale infected water vapor through showers, sinks, and fountains. Legionellosis is a term that encompasses both Legionnaires’ disease and a less-deadly infection known as Pontiac fever. Since the initial outbreak, the state has imposed new treatment protocols and spent nearly $6.4 million on emergency upgrades to the complex’s water treatment system.

Despite having plumbing more than a century old, those upgrades have left the Quincy home with “the cleanest water in the state,” the head of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs said recently.

But in 2016, five more people at the home contracted Legionnaires’ disease, though no one died. That’s when Rauner traveled to the veterans’ home and told reporters the state was closely monitoring the home’s water for the bacteria.

“We’re really on top of the situation,” he said at the time.

 

“States’ rights” was always a euphemism for racism. Rauner’s call for Washington to overturn Illinois’ constitution demonstrates that fact.

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Alabama segregationist governor George Wallace in the school house door.

In case anyone is still fooled by those who hide their defense of segregation and racism behind phrases like “states’ rights,” Governor Bruce Rauner’s most recent attempts at pension theft should help clarify things a little more.

I’m old enough to remember the segregationist Governor of Alabama George Wallace. He famously declared in his inaugural address in 1963, “Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!” He later said that he should have said, “States’ rights now! States’ rights tomorrow! States’ rights forever!”

Currently, the white supremacist Democrats in the South have been replaced by the white supremacist Republicans as a result of Nixon’s and Reagan’s Southern Strategy. When it comes to racism, issues of economic justice like right-to-work and gender issues, states’ rights is the euphemism that binds the Right-wing together,  north and south.

I say euphemism because their use of the term states’ rights has nothing to do with any principle’s involving the relationship between the states and the federal government.

Republican states’ rights Governor Rauner wants the federal Congress to overturn the Illinois Constitution’s pension protection clause.

SECTION 5. PENSION AND RETIREMENT RIGHTS
    Membership in any pension or retirement system of the
State, any unit of local government or school district, or
any agency or instrumentality thereof, shall be an
enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which
shall not be diminished or impaired.

Politico’s Natasha Korecki reports this morning:

“We’ve got a bill now, we’re working with Congress. (If) Congress passed a law, we’re lobbying right now, allow states to restructure their pensions, supercede the restrictions that the special interest groups have put on the state,” Rauner said at the Sept. 28 event. (Audio) “And I’m hoping to get it done with the tax overhaul that we’re doing. If we can get this bill passed — transformative for Illinois government and taxpayers.”

As of now, Illinois cannot declare bankruptcy as it has the power to tax and raise revenue.

The Chicago Trib reported;

(Rauner is) lobbying Congress to give states like Illinois the power to change public employee pension benefits, which he argues are overly generous because of a “corrupt bargain” between politicians and union negotiators. And the governor is hoping to get legal victories over unions at the U.S. Supreme Court, where the recent appointment of a new conservative justice could tilt decisions in his favor.

 That first sentence is a lie, of course. What Rauner is doing is asking Congress and the federal courts to take away the power of Illinois to draft language in its own constitution protecting the public employees’ pension rights. That language was drafted in a 1970 Constitutional convention.
The Illinois Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that the pension protection clause was included by those who drafted our constitution and was meant to do exactly what the language says: Keep politicians and elected officials from stealing our pensions.
Rauner has already been successful in getting the Supreme Court to consider overruling Illinois laws that protect our union’s rights to fair share and agency fees and the duty to fair representatiion.
Legal principle to Bruce Rauner: The states’ have the right to enact unjust laws and the federal government has no right to intervene.
But when Bruce Rauner can’t get what he wants at home, he runs to Washington.

Download this week’s podcast of Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers. Our guest is Charles Thomas, veteran African American political reporter who just retired from ABC television news. 

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?

charter-cst-091012-4_28764699
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:

Screen Shot 2017-04-26 at 10.35.38 AM

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.

bruce-almighty

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.

rauner blago

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.

rauner-quinn

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.