March 29, 2014 § Leave a comment
“Crook County” corruption how much do we let it go on?
A report issued today by the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Better Government Association chronicles corruption in Cook County, calling the county “infested with conflicts of interest.”
In addition to naming about 150 convicted county politicians and employees, it outlines a five-point plan for curing the county of corruption.
“Cook County has become Crook County,” said UIC professor Dick Simpson, one of the report’s authors, at a press conference today outside County Board President Todd Stroger’s office. “This pervasive pattern of corruption must be changed if county government is to provide honest, effective, efficient and transparent government that taxpayers can afford.”
The report, the third in an ongoing series published by UIC, includes a lengthy list of offenses, ranging from decades-long corruption in the assessor’s office to the offenses in the 1980s and 1990s in the sheriff’s office and more recent instances in the offices of the president and the clerk of court.
Simpson, flanked by Congressman Mike Quigley, a former county commissioner, and Andy Shaw, executive director of the Better Government Association, said the county should take steps to eliminate corruption.
Recommendations include barring officials from collecting multiple pensions, auditing the county’s operations, and preventing elected officials from working as lobbyists.
At least one commissioner, Evanston Democrat Larry Suffredin, has acted as a lobbyist, according to public records and news reports.
Quigley called the county’s history of corruption “a tragic comedy,” and said Illinois is a laughingstock in the halls of Congress.
“It’s not just costing us money,” he said. “It’s costing us a critical ability to govern democracy.”
The report delves into County Board President Todd Stroger’s hiring of Tony Cole, a busboy-turned-administrative assistant with a felonious past.
After he was fired in April 2009, former chief financial officer Donna Dunnings, Stroger’s cousin, resigned. She twice bailed Cole out jail and allegedly helped him, recoup pay for days he did not report for work, according to news reports.
Last month, Stroger fired three Shakman-exempt Forest Preserve employees. All three had either donated to campaigns of Stroger’s opponents in the race for the Democratic nomination for County Board president or were tied to his political rivals.
The BGA report recounts efforts by employees to siphon money from the President’s Office Employement Training program.
The report also details allegations of corruption at the office of Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown, whose practices of asking employees for campaign donations received media attention during her her unsuccessful run for County Board president.
Stroger spokeswoman Chris Geovanis called the press conference a publicity stunt, and pointed to measures undertaken by Stroger to curb corruption.
“President Stroger has a documented track record of achievement in pushing forward real reform and real openness, despite objections from both county agencies and, sometimes, county commissioners,” she said.
Stroger increased the powers of the county’s inspector general and helped revise the county’s procurement code, as well as signing the Shakman decree, barring political hiring and firing for some county jobs. Geovanis said no indictments have stemmed from Stroger’s administration.
The county has undertaken measures to make its operations more transparent. Last week it put its checkbook online, allowing the public to view its expenses. Clerk David Orr’s office has begun tallying roll call votes from County Board meetings. There’s also a new Web page devoted to tracking disclosure efforts.
Republicans support gay marriage and win? These three lived to tell the tale. Do they support families rights of the children(house bill ,HB5425) or Do they support the (ISBA,Illinois State Bar Assoc.)?
March 23, 2014 § Leave a comment
March 20 at 1:41 pm
Three state House Republicans voted to legalize gay marriage in Illinois last year, breaking ranks with their party and giving Democrats just enough support to pass the legislation. All three are still standing Thursday despite an intense effort from social conservatives to defeat them in GOP primary voting.
“If you wanted the takeaway to be that voting for gay marriage for an Illinois Republican is the kiss of death, you can’t make that case,” said Kent Redfield, a University of Illinois at Springfield political scientist.
The campaign served as the latest front in the Republican Party’s ongoing internal fight over gay rights. Same-sex marriage advocates in the GOP see what happened in Illinois as another sign the ground is shifting in their favor, while opponents cast it as evidence that Republicans who support gay marriage won’t go unchecked.
Of Tuesday’s winning trio, state Rep. Ron Sandack (R) was the most significant. Challenger Keith Matune conceded to Sandack Wednesday, a day after the incumbent squeaked out a narrow victory that for a time looked like it was headed to a recount. Sandack’s vote for gay marriage became a central focus in his race, which was flooded with money and resources by outside forces on both sides.
Sandack received financial support from Paul Singer, the billionaire hedge fund manager protecting Republicans who support gay marriage with his pocketbook. Singer donated to Sandack’s campaign and also gave thousands more to Illinois Unity PAC, which supported Sandack.
Matune opposed gay marriage and was backed by conservative groups Liberty Principles PAC and Illinois Family Action. The former is headed by conservative radio host Dan Proft and funded heavily by Richard Uihlein, who founded the packaging company Uline.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, state Rep. Ed Sullivan easily won his primary, in which his vote for gay marriage was less of an issue than it was in Sandack’s. Still, it was on the radar, as Singer also gave him money. Sullivan was targeted by an Illinois Family Action mailer featuring two men kissing. “You can kiss the GOP goodbye with officials who vote like Democrats,” it said. Sandack faced the same attack.
State Rep. Tom Cross was the only other Republican to vote for the gay marriage law that will go into effect in June. He comfortably won the Republican nomination for state treasurer.
Gay marriage advocates said the three won by campaigning on multifaceted platforms and refusing to allow the opposition to use the marriage debate as a divisive issue.
“I think for anyone considering using marriage equality as a wedge issue in 2014 or 2016, it should give those individuals pause,” said Gregory Angelo, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights group.
But gay marriage remains among the most sensitive topics in the Republican Party, even as more and more states are legalizing it, the public has shifted heavily in its favor and the GOP donor community has vouched for it. Only a handful of Republican senators support same-sex marriage publicly. The Republican National Committeereaffirmed its opposition last year. Sandack, gay marriage opponents say, would never have experienced such a close call if not for his vote.
“The takeaway is, you vote for same sex marriage, you are going to have a serious primary,” said Brian Brown, head of the National Organization For Marriage, a group that opposes gay marriage.
Republicans have paid a price for supporting gay marriage in the past, perhaps most notably in New York where a trio of state senators who supported gay marriage arguably lost their jobs as a result. But gay marriage advocates hope Illinois will help the party turn the page.
A generational divide may march the GOP toward embracing gay marriage more and more. A Pew Research Center poll showed that 61 percent of young Republicans favor same-sex marriage.
This much is clear: The issue is far from settled in the Republican Party. Illinois was proof of that.
How do they show their support where it counts for the children or the ISBA?
It’s 4th and Goal and HB 5425 is on the 1 yard line in the Super Bowl of Democracy. Will you help carry HB 5425 across the goal line to righteous victory??? The children of Illinois await your answer. Wednesday, at the Capitol, we had a wonderful 1.5 hour press conference with many Illinois television markets enthusiastically covering the HB 5425 Shared Parenting story(finally!!!).
But the bigger news is that, through dogged determination, we finally met face to face with Rep. Elaine Nekritz and she said she would call the bill for a vote on Monday, March 24th at the 3pm meeting.
We need just 9 yes votes out of 16 votes to pass HB 5425 to a full house vote. That 16 member vote will no doubt be taken on Monday late afternoon.
Number 1: Call all 16 members(see below) of the Illinois House Judiciary Committee and ask them to vote yes on HB 5425 at Monday’s(March 24th) hearing. If you cannot call all the members, please concentrate on the Democrat members because they are in the majority. Democrat Chairwoman Rep. Elaine Nekritz is against HB 5425 and she wields majority influence over the Judiciary Committee. Ask all representatives or their secretaries to fill out the yellow sheet Co- Sponsor form supporting HB 5425. Inform them that we have 16 co-sponsors listed already so there’s no reason not to be a co-sponsor now. Call today and even all day Monday. Report back all comments, good, bad or in-between to me at NurseRichardThomas@gmail.com
Number 2: Come to the Capitol Monday!!! Call in sick(of injustice), take a personal day, bring family, friends and kids….EVERYONE!!! Hitch hike if you have to, ride a wheel chair in if you have to, but come and get the democracy you’ve longed for. Many kids are on Spring Break – bring the kids. Make it a family Democracy Project. Let them make signs to hold up during the vote. Signs that say “HB 5425 Vote Yes.” If your kids are in school Monday, know this – the best educational experience for kids in the state is at the Capitol Monday(Judiciary Hearing Mar 24 2014 3:00PM Stratton Building Room C-1 Springfield, IL).
So, you are the quarterback at the Super Bowl and if you choose to sit on the sidelines, Illinois children will continue to suffer with no assurance that they could be the next victim of the Illinois Family Law Business, a 50 billion dollar a year business. HB 5425 is so close to the most critical victory of getting passed the House Judiciary Committee. We can win – but ONLY if you get in the game right now!
Click on below for full list of Illinois House Judiciary Committee members. There are 6 Republicans, 10 Democrats and Rep. Welch has already signed on has a co-sponsor. Make the calls(respectfully, but insistent) TODAY!!!
March 23, 2014 § Leave a comment
Sneed: Evans seeks to calm jury pool as verdict on his stewardship nears
By MICHAEL SNEED March 20, 2014 8:06PM
Updated: March 21, 2014 2:22AM
Out of Order!
Cook County Circuit Court Chief JudgeTimothy Evans is trying to stave off Judgment Day.
Sneed’s blast Wednesday of Evans’ stewardship over a sloppily run court system — which is being audited by the lllinois Supreme Court — hasn’t stopped him from continuing his successful campaign of fawning over the judges who keep re-electing him.
◆ To wit: Sneed’s criticism prompted Evans to immediately dispatch a kiss to his black-robed electorate at the Circuit Court of Cook County.
In a memo addressed to all court judges and employees, Evans stated:
“It is important for you to understand that I am proud of you and our court system and how much I appreciate your hard work and dedication to it and the litigants we serve.
“Unfortunately, overly broad, speculative assertions on the integrity and authority of the justice system continue to arise. We are not perfect, as no one in any field, profession or branch of government is perfect, but half-truths and innuendo are reckless and do more harm than good . . .
“I encourage you to continue to perform the fine work on which the public, the legal community and our sister court agencies know they can rely.”
◆ Buckshot: Evans’ leadership of a bollixed court system, which condoned a run amok probation and pre-trial department, is now under the microscope of the Illinois Supreme Court — which is this/close to releasing a critical report.
◆ Backshot: The probation department is being audited for claims it lost track of hundreds of convicts, some of whom allegedly raped or killed while on probation; and had a shoddily run pre-trial system used by judges to determine who goes or stays in jail.
◆ Upshot: Evans suddenly dismissed his acting adult probation chief, Jesus Reyes — whom he appointed in 2005 — on Monday.
◆ Shock shot: Yet, Evans, who refused to replace Reyes despite serious management complaints for years, is continuing to allow Reyes to serve as the Circuit Court’s “advisor for research and policy”!
◆ Penalty shot: A top Sneed source familiar with the court’s probation and pre-trial services division, who asked to remain anonymous, claims: “Giving Reyes this job is a joke. Reyes never initiated a policy during his time in office.
“He even refused to develop a critical incident protocol,” the source said. “We carry guns. Anything could result in a critical incident. The police had an incident protocol. We didn’t. We begged Reyes to develop one. No dice. He never responded to car incidents and shootings involving office workers,” he added.
Hair’s the deal . . .
An inadvertent photo tech slip on the front page of the Chicago Sun-Times Thursday looked like Gov. Pat Quinn had a bad trip to the barber.
◆ Let’s set the record straight: Quinn’s head of hair may be white, but it’s very much there. Check out this tress trip down memory mane.
Noah’s ark . . .
There’s a Chicagoan in the cast of actor Russell Crowe’s new film, “Noah,” which is being pitched for endorsement by Pope Francis . . . a la actor Mel Gibson’s hit flick: “The Passion of the Christ.”
◆ Translation: The youngest of the four sons of the biblical Noah, a child called Japheth, is being played by Leo McHugh Carroll, who is the grandson of Special Olympics Chicago founder Jack McHugh and his late wife, Rosemary. “Leo loved having Crowe and actress Jennifer Connelly as his ‘parents’,” said a family source. “His twin, Lucas, played actor Matt Damon’s son in the film “The Informant.”
The ring thing . . .