Tag: Illinois House

More evidence that Dennis Hastert is a disgusting human being

Earlier today, former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) was sentenced to fifteen months (one year and three months) in federal prison for violating federal banking laws by attempting to conceal hush money that was being paid to individuals who were sexually abused by Hastert.

However, that wasn’t the biggest story of the Hastert sentencing proceedings today.

During the sentencing proceedings, one of the victims of Hastert’s sexual abuse was identified as Scott Cross, the brother of former Republican Illinois State House Minority Leader Tom Cross. Furthermore, it was revealed that Hastert called Tom Cross for his support of Hastert:

That right there proves that Dennis Hastert is a disgusting human being. The fact that Hastert would call the brother of someone he sexually abused and ask him to support an abuser is the ultimate form of being a total scumbag. Hastert has absolutely zero regard for victims of sexual abuse.

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How I will fill out my Illinois Democratic primary ballot on March 15 (plus other Illinois endorsements)

On March 15, I will be a Democratic primary voter in the State of Illinois, Vermilion County, Georgetown Township, Precinct 7. My precinct includes parts of my hometown of Westville, Illinois.

Below is a complete list of races on my ballot (for the presidential and U.S. Senate races, the order in which candidates are listed on the ballot for a particular race may vary from one part of the state to another), as well as which candidates I will vote for (if any).

President of the United States

There are six candidates on the Illinois Democratic presidential primary ballot: Hillary Clinton, Willie Wilson, Martin O’Malley, Rocky de la Fuente, Larry Cohen, and Bernie Sanders, from top to bottom. Additionally, there is a line available for write-in candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, although I know of no write-in candidates who have filed official paperwork to run as such.

I will vote for Bernie Sanders. Bernie is the only candidate who strongly supports raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, making higher education tuition-free, restoring American manufacturing jobs, and protecting America’s environment. In the extremely unlikely circumstance that Bernie were to drop out of the presidential race before March 15, I would write-in the name of an individual who is not running for president, although I won’t publicly name that individual. In any case, I will vote for the Democratic presidential nominee in the November general election.

United States Senator

There are three candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Mark Kirk: Andrea Zopp, Tammy Duckworth, and Napoleon Harris, from top to bottom.

I will vote for Tammy Duckworth. There’s not really a progressive candidate in this race, but Duckworth served our nation during the Iraq War as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot, and Duckworth will stand up for those who served our country in uniform if elected to the U.S. Senate. Andrea Zopp voted for Rahm Emanuel’s school closing scheme in Chicago as an appointed Chicago school board member, and Napoleon Harris refused to vote for marriage equality as a member of the Illinois General Assembly.

Illinois Comptroller (Special Election)

This is a special election for the last two years of what would have been Republican Judy Baar Topinka’s second term as Illinois Comptroller (Topinka died not long after being re-elected in 2014). The current Illinois Comptroller is Leslie Munger, who was appointed to the Comptroller’s office by Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.

There is only one Democrat seeking the party’s nomination for this office (Susana Mendoza), so I’ll leave this race blank for the primary, since I think that it’s worthless to vote for a candidate in an uncontested race. I will vote for Mendoza in the special general election in November, however, as she will face opposition from Munger in the special general election.

United States Representative – 15th Congressional District

No Democrat filed to run for this office.

Delegates to the Democratic National Convention – 15th Congressional District

Illinois is unusual in that Democratic primary voters are asked to vote for both a presidential candidate and delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Delegates are elected by voters in each of Illinois’s 18 congressional districts, although I’m not sure of the exact formula that is used. There are seven individuals who have filed for four delegate slots out of the 15th Congressional District: four delegates pledged to Hillary, one delegate pledged to O’Malley, and three delegates pledged to Bernie. Democratic voters in the 15th Congressional District can vote for as many as four delegates.

I will vote for the three Bernie Sanders delegates (Cory Douglas, Amanda Benefiel, and Barbara Lawrence), and I will also vote for Hillary Clinton delegate Ann Sykes. Since I’m voting for Bernie in the presidential preference poll, I’m obviously going to vote for Bernie’s delegate slate here in the 15th Congressional District, and I’m grateful that Douglas, Benefiel, and Lawrence are supporting a fantastic presidential candidate in Bernie. However, since Bernie is one delegate short of a full slate here in the 15th Congressional District, that gives me three options: either vote for only the three Bernie delegates, vote for three Bernie delegates and O’Malley delegate John Warner, or vote for the three Bernie delegates and one of the Hillary delegates. I’ve decided on the latter-most of those three options, and my vote for Hillary delegate Ann Sykes will be a tribute to the late former Vermilion County Clerk and incredible public servant Lynn Foster, who passed away not long ago (Sykes worked for Foster when she was county clerk here in my home county).

Illinois Senate – 52nd Legislative District (4-year term)

There is only one candidate on the ballot in this race (incumbent State Senator Scott Bennett, who was appointed to the seat after Mike Frerichs was elected Illinois Treasurer), so I’ll leave this race blank for the primary, although Bennett will get my vote in the November general election, as he’ll be going up against Republican Mike Madigan in November.

Illinois House of Representatives – 104th Representative District

No Democrat filed to run for this office.

Vermilion County Circuit Clerk

No Democrat filed to run for this office.

Vermilion County Recorder

No Democrat filed to run for this office.

Vermilion County State’s Attorney

Despite this being an open seat due to the Republican incumbent retiring, no Democrat filed to run for this office.

Vermilion County Auditor

There is only one Democratic candidate seeking this office (incumbent county auditor Linda Lucas-Anstey, the only Democrat to hold a county-wide office in Vermilion County), so I’ll leave this race blank for the primary, although I will vote for Lucas-Anstey in the general election.

Vermilion County Coroner

Although we don’t get too many Democrats running for county-wide office here in Vermilion County, there is a competitive primary for county coroner (believe it or not, Illinois county coroners are elected in officially-partisan races). There are two Democrats running for coroner: Steve Cornett, the Village of Tilton police chief, and Butch Fields, a paramedic from Tilton.

I will vote for Steve Cornett. Butch Fields is a convicted arsonist, so that completely disqualifies him from receiving my vote in a Democratic primary, although I will vote for the Democratic nominee in November.

Vermilion County Board of Supervisors – County Board District 4

There are two seats up for election in Vermilion County Board District 4, and there are two Democrats running for the party’s nomination in the district, which includes all of Georgetown, Love, and McKendree townships in Vermilion County. There are two candidates seeking the Democratic nomination in this race: Dale Ghibaudy and John Barton. In county board races in Illinois, voters in the Democratic primary can vote for as many Democrats as the number of county board seats in their district that are up for election (in my district this year, this is two, although this number varies from one Illinois county to another, as well as within Illinois counties and from one election cycle to the next).

Although both Dale Ghibaudy and John Barton will be on the November general election ballot, I’m not sure if one candidate receiving more votes than the other would have any affect on general election ballot placement, so I will vote for Dale Ghibaudy. I know absolutely nothing about John Barton, and I know extremely little about Dale Ghibaudy outside of the fact that I attended high school with two people of the same last name (Kody and Karly Ghibaudy, who are siblings, but I’m not sure how they’re related to Dale, if at all).

Vermilion County Democratic Party Precinct Committeeman – Georgetown Township Precinct 7

In my home precinct, no candidate filed for a Democratic Party precinct committeeman slot. Georgetown Township Precinct 7 includes parts of the Village of Westville in Vermilion County, as well as some rural areas immediately to the west and east of Westville.


Additionally, I want to take this opportunity to endorse candidates seeking Democratic nominations in other parts of Illinois. Please note that I do not live in any of the constituencies listed here, so I am encouraging people who live in an area of Illinois where one or more of these races are on the ballot to vote for the candidates that I’m endorsing. The two U.S. House races where I’m endorsing a candidate are in the Chicago suburbs, whereas the state house and state’s attorney races where I’m endorsing a candidate are all in Cook County.

United States Representative – 8th Congressional District

I endorse Michael Noland in Illinois’s 8th Congressional District. As an Illinois State Senator, Noland has been a strong champion of good government and ethics reform, and he’ll bring his pro-good government mindset to Washington if nominated and elected.

United States Representative – 10th Congressional District

A while back, I endorsed Nancy Rotering in Illinois’s 10th Congressional District, so, for the sake of completion, I’ll reiterate my endorsement of Rotering on here. As mayor of Highland Park, a Chicago suburb located in Lake County, Rotering helped to provide legal aid to people who couldn’t afford to sue their landlord after their landlord wronged them. Rotering’s Democratic primary opponent, Brad Schneider, is a D.C. insider who opposes President Obama’s deal to keep nuclear weapons out of Iranian hands.

Illinois House of Representatives – 5th Representative District

This race pits incumbent State Representative Ken Dunkin, a Raunercrat (i.e., a Democrat who is a political ally of Republican Governor Bruce Rauner), against primary challenger Juliana Stratton. I endorse Juliana Stratton in Illinois’s 5th Representative District. Ken Dunkin has voted with Bruce Rauner in opposition to funding child care and other important state government services, and Dunkin has benefited from big-money Rauner allies like Dan Proft.

Illinois House of Representatives – 22nd Representative District

This race pits powerful State House Speaker Mike Madigan (not the same Mike Madigan who is running as a Republican in the 52nd Legislative District state senate race) against primary challenger Jason Gonzales and two other primary challengers planted by Madigan in an attempt to split the anti-Madigan vote in the Democratic primary. I endorse Jason Gonzales in Illinois’s 22nd Representative District. Madigan is anti-abortion, supported a pension theft bill that was unanimously struck down by the Illinois Supreme Court, has strongly opposed many common-sense good government measures, such as independent redistricting and term limits, and supports corporate-minded politicians like Rahm Emanuel.

Illinois House of Representatives – 26th Representative District

This race pits incumbent State Representative Christian Mitchell against Jay Travis, who nearly defeated Mitchell in the 2014 Democratic primary for this seat. I endorse Jay Travis in the 26th Representative District. Christian Mitchell has taken money from the same anti-public education/pro-school voucher lobby that supports far-right Republicans like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Cook County State’s Attorney

This race pits incumbent Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez against primary challengers Kim Foxx and Donna More. I endorsed Kim Foxx for Cook County State’s Attorney a while back, so I’ll reiterate that endorsement here for the sake of completion. If nominated and elected, Foxx will restore public trust in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office. Anita Alvarez played a key role in hiding the video of the police shooting of LaQuan McDonald for many months, and Donna More donated to Bruce Rauner’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign.

Bernie Sanders tries to win Illinois with a Chuy-Downstate coalition

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post corrects a spelling error that I made in regards to the name of Former Illinois State Representative Naomi Jakobsson on Twitter earlier today.


While the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign is scheduled to file official paperwork to get Bernie and his slate of Illinois delegates on our state’s ballot tomorrow afternoon, the Chicago Sun-Times is already reporting the identities of many pro-Bernie delegates who are running for delegate slots at the Democratic National Convention later this year.

Some of the names are fairly obvious anti-establishment/anti-Rahm Emanuel figures in the Chicago area, such as State Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago), who defeated a Mike Madigan-supported machine incumbent in a 2012 Democratic primary, State Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago), who is leading the effort to recall Rahm from office, and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who ran against Rahm in last year’s Chicago mayoral race.

However, a couple of names are clearly indicative of Bernie’s effort to win support in downstate Illinois, something that is virtually unheard of in regards to high-profile Democratic campaigns in Illinois these days, which tend to focus almost exclusively on the Chicago metro area. These are Phil Hare, a two-term former U.S. Representative from Rock Island County, and Naomi Jakobsson, a former state representative from Champaign County. I am not standing for election as a delegate, as I would only do so if the Democratic National Convention were being held in a place like Champaign, Illinois, or Terre Haute, Indiana, which is not the case (it’s being held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania this year).

For Bernie to win a majority of delegates out of Illinois, he’d need a coalition consisting of Chuy Garcia voters from the Chicago mayoral race last year and a large majority of Democratic voters downstate, and Bernie’s Illinois delegate slate is clearly reflective of his attempt to win with a Chuy-Downstate coalition.

Bruce Rauner tries to buy votes from his own party’s legislators, some Republicans won’t take his money

In May of this year, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner sent out campaign donations, totaling $400,000, to every single Republican member of the Illinois General Assembly. Since there are a total of 67 Republicans in the General Assembly (47 in the state house, 20 in the state senate), that means that the average donation from Rauner to legislative Republicans is, rounded to the nearest cent, $5,970.15; the donations range anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000.

According to a (Decatur) Herald & Review report, several state legislators have refused to cash their checks from Rauner: 22 of the 67 Republicans (16 of 47 in the state house, 6 of 20 in the state senate) have not yet cashed their checks from Rauner. Given that the checks were doled out by Rauner in May, not long before the end of the spring General Assembly session and in the midst of a political stalemate over Rauner’s hostage politics over the state budget that is still ongoing, the Republicans who are claiming that Rauner is trying to buy their votes have every right to make that claim, since it’s 100% clear to this stubborn-headed progressive Democrat that Rauner is trying to buy off members of his own party.

To me, this says two things about Rauner. First, Rauner is a weak politician, since he’s not really trying to work with the Democrats who hold the supermajorities in the General Assembly. Second, Rauner is trying to buy support for his anti-worker, anti-middle class agenda from members of his own party, who are in the minority in both houses of the General Assembly.

Bruce Rauner paying former charter school executive $250,000 per year out of the budget of a social services agency

You may remember Republican Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner hiring Beth Purvis, a former Chicago charter school executive, to a newly-created post that could best be described as an “education czar”.

Well, you may be surprised about where the money for Purvis’s ridiculously high $250,000/year salary is coming from.

Rauner is paying Purvis’s $250,000/year salary out of the budget of the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS). DHS is not responsible for overseeing education in Illinois (the Illinois State Board of Education oversees K-12 education at the state level in Illinois), instead, it’s a government agency that, among other things, administers social safety net programs run by the state and provides assistance to people with developmental disabilities. This revelation comes not long after Rauner authorized a funding cut of $26 million from DHS, which would make it harder for Illinoisans who need the state’s social safety net to survive and get their lives back on track to get the help they need.

Democratic Illinois State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), who is the chairman of the Illinois House Human Services Appropriations Committee, has called for Rauner to testify over cutting funding meant to help our state’s most vulnerable residents and using it to pay the ridiculously high salary of a mouthpiece for Rauner’s political agenda to destroy public education in Illinois (official letter here). I agree with Harris on this issue, because it’s absolutely ridiculous for Rauner to cut funding from the most vulnerable Illinoisans and give it to his political cronies.

Bruce Rauner gets ZERO support in the Illinois House for his wage theft agenda

Democratic Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan scheduled a vote in the state house on Republican Governor Bruce Rauner’s wage theft agenda, and not a single member of the Illinois House of Representatives voted for the legislation, although most of the Republicans voted “present” instead of actually voting against it, presumably because they’re too scared of actually taking a stance on whether or not they support driving down wages and busting unions or not.

Here’s the official roll call on the legislation. The final tally was 0 Yeas, 72 Nays, 37 voting present, 7 not voting, and 2 excused absences. Democrats have 71 members in the 118-member house, the remaining 47 members are Republicans, and all of those who did not vote at all or had excused absences are Republicans, indicating a nearly party-line vote in which all or nearly all Democrats voted against it and the vast majority of the Republicans voted present.

To put it mildly, this is a massive victory for Illinois workers and a massive defeat for Rauner and his agenda to drive down wages, bust unions, and leave Illinois worse off than when he was sworn into office as governor. I hope the General Assembly remains a strong opponent of the Rauner agenda, as the Rauner agenda is something Illinoisans simply can’t afford.

Illinois State Representatives should vote NO on wage theft bill

On Thursday, the Democratic-controlled Illinois House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on whether or not Illinois should become a right-to-work state, or what I like to call a wage theft state. In a wage theft state, non-union workers at unionized workplaces would be legally allowed to steal wages and other benefits negotiated by the union without paying union dues or some other form of payment. Republican Governor Bruce Rauner has publicly called for legislation allowing for local governments to enact local wage theft ordinances, which Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan believes would violate federal labor laws.

I strongly encourage members of the Illinois General Assembly to vote NO on the Bruce Rauner-Mike Madigan wage theft scheme.

While Madigan, the Democratic state house speaker, hasn’t advocated for the passage of the legislation, the fact that he’s scheduled a vote on wage theft is downright alarming. Wage theft legislation would do absolutely nothing to improve our state’s economy or fix our state’s fiscal problems. Instead, it would drive down wages, make workplaces less safe, create an even bigger burden on taxpayers, cost our state thousands of jobs, and severely hurt our state’s economy. That’s because when wages are driven down, workers have less to spend on groceries, gasoline, and other goods and services, resulting in both the state and the private sector making less revenue.

Bruce Rauner wants to put Illinois in the same league as third-world countries like Vietnam and Bangladesh, from an economic standpoint. Illinoisans simply can not afford Rauner’s corporate agenda of driving down wages, busting unions, and destroying what little of our state’s middle class remains.

Bruce Rauner thinks Illinois children are lab rats, threatens to veto opt-out bill

Later today, the Democratic-controlled Illinois House of Representatives is set to vote on legislation that would make it easier for Illinois parents to opt their school-age children out of state-mandated standardized testing.

However, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner has publicly threatened to veto the legislation if it hits his desk, claiming that Illinois would risk losing over a billion dollars in federal education funding if such a law were to be enacted. As Jim Vail, a Chicago Public Schools (CPS) teacher and the author of the progressive education blog Second City Teachers, pointed out, Rauner’s claim is absolutely false for several reasons:

  • Seven states, California, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin, already have laws on the books explicitly allowing for parents to opt-out their children from standardized testing, and efforts are underway in an eighth state, New Jersey, to enact a opt-out bill there.
  • The federal government has never withheld a state’s Title I education funding for low participation rates in standardized testing or for any other reason.
  • Illinois is currently operating under a federal waiver from portions of the federal No Child Left Behind law. The waiver exempts Illinois from the risk of facing federal penalties for low participation rates in standardized testing.
  • Congress is currently working on legislation that would completely eliminate the threat of states and school districts losing federal funding for having less than 95% of students participating in standardized testing.

It’s 100% clear to me that Rauner thinks that our state’s schoolchildren are laboratory rats who should be subjected to standardized testing and other neoliberal education policies that make education less interesting for our schoolchildren, shame teachers and students, and make a total mockery of K-12 education in this country. It’s time to end the plantation mentality in our education system by eliminating mandatory standardized testing altogether, ending the overemphasis on career preparation, and crafting strong education standards where teachers teach to the standards, not to standardized tests.

Bruce Rauner and his allies raided Illinois transportation funds

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The author of this blog post has no intention whatsoever of running against Republican Illinois State Representative Chad Hays and is not in any way affiliated with Better Roads Ahead.

My governor and state representative, Gov. Bruce Rauner (R-IL) and State Rep. Chad Hays (R-Catlin, IL), helped raid hundreds of millions of dollars from funds collected from state gasoline taxes, which are supposed to be used to pay for road construction and maintenance. In typical Illinois fashion, Rauner, Hays, and their ilk decided to use the money for other purposes.

A political front group called Better Roads Ahead, an organization that supports repairing and replacing Illinois’s structurally deficient bridges, sent my household this mailer attacking Rauner and Hays for putting the lives of Illinoisans at risk:

Better Roads Ahead Flyer - Front
Better Roads Ahead Flyer – Front
Better Roads Ahead Flyer - Back
Better Roads Ahead Flyer – Back

To give readers of this blog post a general idea of how terrible the condition of our nation’s infrastructure is, I strongly recommend reading and viewing this 60 Minutes feature about our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. You’d be absolutely shocked at how terrible the condition of our nation’s roads, railroads, and bridges are.

I find it highly disgusting that Rauner, Hays, and their ilk would use taxpayer money collected from state gasoline taxes, which are supposed to be used to fund road construction and maintenance here in Illinois, and use the money for other purposes. I would only support raiding transportation funds and using them for other purposes if our state’s politicians literally had no other option available to them to balance the state budget. The actions of our state’s politicians could result in bridge collapses that could kill tens of people. After all, if it happened in Minnesota, it could certainly happen here in Illinois.

To put it mildly, Illinoisans simply cannot afford the Rahm-Rauner-Hays corporate agenda, especially when it comes to transportation.

Conflict of interest: Bruce Rauner appointee to Illinois Department of Natural Resources took campaign cash from coal companies

Republican Illinois State Representative Wayne Rosenthal of Morrisonville has been appointed by fellow Republican and Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner to head the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), which, in addition to maintaining state parks and recreation areas and regulating hunting and fishing, is responsible for regulating coal mining and other forms of mining in Illinois.

This is a major conflict of interest in the Rauner Administration, since, as a candidate for state representative, Rosenthal has taken $13,000 in campaign donations from Foresight Energy and Hillsboro Energy, two coal mining companies owned by billionaire mining magnate Chris Cline:

Nearly two years ago, the Wisconsin newspaper Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that one of Cline’s coal mining companies here in Illinois, Macoupin Energy, was violating state environmental regulations designed to prevent groundwater from becoming contaminated by refusing to adequately clean up groundwater contamination at the Shay 1 mine, which is located in Macoupin County either in or near Carlinville:

An Illinois coal mine owned by the same investor who is trying to develop an iron ore mine in Wisconsin has come under fire by Illinois’ pollution control agency for failing to adequately address long-standing groundwater problems.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency formally notified Macoupin Energy in December that it believes the company is dragging its feet with the cleanup at the Shay 1 mine in Carlinville, Ill., according to government documents.

The agency said it plans to refer the case to the Illinois attorney general.

Macoupin is one of four mines owned in Illinois by billionaire Christopher Cline, who is proposing to build a $1.5 billion iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron counties if the Wisconsin Legislature rewrites mining laws to the company’s satisfaction.

To use a Sesame Street analogy, putting Wayne Rosenthal, who is a shill for coal barons, in charge of regulating the mining industry here in Illinois is like putting Cookie Monster in charge of protecting cookies. For Governor Rauner to appoint someone like Rosenthal to IDNR is a flagrant conflict of interest, and, while I’m not completely opposed to mining for coal and other minerals by any stretch of the imagination, I’m very afraid that Rosenthal’s IDNR will allow mining companies to get away with polluting Illinois groundwater and waterways.