“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

Posted on by Steve Reick | 2 Comments

Silence is Corruption – Time for Dems to Break Their Silence on Speaker Madigan

Once again the smell of corruption is wafting through the Illinois House of Representatives. This time the smell is coming from the office of the Speaker, who’s been subpoenaed as part of a bribery investigation involving Com Ed. While he hasn’t been indicted, and may never be, there’s a point at which someone has to say “enough is enough”.

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When is this going to end? How much humiliation and ridicule will we have to endure while the rest of the world points fingers at our State and says: “Oh, that’s just the way things are in Illinois, everybody knows it.”

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I’ll tell you when this is going to end. It’s going to end when Democrats, both those who are now in the House and those who hope to be in the House next session stand up and say something more than “if he’s guilty, he must resign”, if they’re saying anything at all.

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Not having been indicted or found guilty of public corruption is a pretty low bar to be eligible to hold a position of public trust. The people of this State deserve something better from those who they elect to govern them. Otherwise we get what we now have: government through the back door, legislation like the ethics bills Republicans have tried to introduce that get bottled up in the Rules Committee, a Speaker who famously doesn’t have a cell phone or email account, so he can claim plausible deniability to being directly connected to the corruption swirling around him, a State in financial collapse.

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If the Governor is serious about turning the page, he needs to call a special session of the legislature to address this issue.

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And those, like my opponent, who’ve had ample time to consider what this means, it’s time to say something, even if it’s nothing more than “if he’s found guilty…” After all, on his own website he says: “I believe we need honest, ethical individuals to represent us at all levels of government.”

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Sager WebsiteWell, Mr. Mayor, here’s your chance. But when you list the Woodstock City Hall as your campaign office, you really aren’t off to a very good start yourself. That building belongs to the people of Woodstock, not your campaign.

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Governor Pritzker Follows the Science Only Up to the Point Where It Interferes With Politics

RallyOn June 6th, Governor Pritzker and Attorney General Kwame Raoul attended a South Suburban Day of Action event in Calumet City. Yesterday A.G. Raoul announced that he’s tested positive for COVID-19. The Attorney General’s office said he had been in his Chicago office for the last couple of weeks, and most of his meetings and events have been conducted via video link, so it seems very possible, if not probable, that he contracted the virus at that event. Right after the protests arising from the death of George Floyd, health officials urged people who attended the protests to self-quarantine for 14 days to fight the possible spread of coronavirus.

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Ten days later, the Governor got a test for COVID-19, and was found to not have been infected. Good for him, and I wish a speedy recovery for the Attorney General.

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But the Governor apparently didn’t get the self-quarantine memo, because what did Governor “Don’t Second-Guess Me Because I Follow the Science” do in the intervening days? Here’s an archive of his public events from June 8th through the 15th, taken from the Illinois Playbook published every weekday morning:

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  • June 8th: At the Thompson Center for a 1:30 p.m. briefing on insurance coverage for rebuilding businesses. In the late afternoon, Prtizker will attend the South Suburban March for Justice and Love that starts at Victory Apostolic Church.
  • June 9th: At Union Baptist Church in Springfield at noon for a roundtable discussion with state Sen. Andy Manar, local aldermen, T. Ray McJunkins, and teen organizers of a Black Lives Matter march. Then the governor will tour the Decatur Boys & Girls Club’s Child Care Facility and discuss early childhood education issues.
  • June 10th: At Skip-a-Long Child Development Services at 11 a.m. in Moline with Rep. Cheri Bustos, state Rep. Michael Halpin, Mayor Stephanie Acri and others to discuss the Child Care Restoration Grants program to provide emergency relief to childcare providers. Then, at 2 p.m. he’ll be at the Rockford YMCA with Bustos, state Rep. Maurice West and others to talk about emergency relief there, too.
  • June 11th – 14th: No public events.
  • June 15th: At the Community Interfaith Pantry in Belleville at 11 a.m. to discuss grants administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity. He’ll address the grants again at 2 p.m. at the Crosswalk Community Action Agency in West Frankfort.

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The fact that the Governor tested negative is beside the point. He was violating his own Executive Order 2020-38 which limits gatherings to no more than ten people, and he was ignoring his own epidemiologists’ recommendation for self-quarantining.

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But the most infuriating thing is what he did to possibly expose other people to the virus because he had to make a political statement. The first thing out of his mouth in Calumet City was a pitch for his progressive income tax. He’s willing to expose people to COVID-19 for that? I guess following the science only goes so far.

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Those people at the Thompson Center, the Victory Apostolic Church, the Union Baptist Church, the Decatur Boys & Girls Club’s Child Care Facility, Skip-a-Long Child Development Services, the Rockford YMCA, the Community Interfaith Pantry in Belleville and the Crosswalk Community Action Agency in West Frankfurt, did they know they were at risk? Were they subject to the contact tracing that’s part of the Governor’s Phase 3 Recovery Plan? Were they told to get tested and self-quarantine? It doesn’t matter that Pritzker tested negative this week, at the time he met with these folks, he didn’t know.

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Governor, though I’ve tried to get you to allow my county, among others, to determine for themselves the pace at which they open up, I’ve been pretty supportive of your calls for social distancing and sensible personal actions to slow the spread of coronavirus. But you’re losing me and whatever credibility you had at the beginning of this pandemic with your opportunistic disregard for your own injunctions. If we get hit by a second wave in the fall, you’ll have lost that credibility just when you’re going to need it most. Elected officials don’t lead by making pronouncements and issuing Executive Orders, they lead by example. With this action, you aren’t setting a very good one.

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How Soon We Recover Depends Upon Us

Great InfluenzaAs we move into Phase 3 of the “Restore Illinois” plan tomorrow, there are a few things that need to be said.

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None of us are happy about the pace at which life is returning to “normal”. We all want to enjoy the warmer weather and do the things that define summertime for us. We’ve seen surrounding states loosen their restrictions on businesses and social activities and chafe at the notion that we’re still where we are. I get that. I’ve been as adamant as anyone in calling for a loosening of restrictions on public activity and to go to a more regional approach to opening up our economy.

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But there’s something that we all need to understand. Moving to Phase 3 is not a license to let the good times roll. I’m reading “The Great Influenza”, the classic narrative of the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic that swept the world toward the end of World War I, killing over 100 million people, and that narrative is chilling.

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The influenza came in three waves, the first being a mild form of flu that most people took in stride. However, in a matter of a few months, the virus mutated into such a lethal form that the second wave caused thousands to fall ill daily. The influenza virus is very adept at changing its form within a few generations, gaining lethality as it does. There’s no reason to think that this one is any different.

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I’m not saying this as a prediction that what we’re now experiencing will be followed by a much more deadly strain in the fall. What I am saying is that neither I nor anyone else knows what is coming. But if we see in the fall what the world saw in 1918, we have very little with which to fight it.

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That’s because, short of developing a vaccine in the near future, we’ve shot the only arrow we had in our quiver. By shutting down the entire economy, our schools, elective surgeries and all the rest, we’ve put ourselves into a position where, if this virus comes back with a vengeance, it’s going to be very difficult to institute a second shutdown without resorting to the kind of enforcement mechanisms that none of us want. Not only would people accuse the government of crying wolf, but an economy which would just be starting to climb back would be thrown back onto the mat.

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The people who’ve been standing on the front lines of this pandemic, our first responders, doctors and nurses and technicians in our ICU’s, grocery clerks and truck drivers all deserve our thanks. But they deserve something else, as well. They need to know that we’re going to be sensible to the continuing threat that a resurgence of this virus can bring if we aren’t careful about how we exercise the responsibility we have to our families, to them and to each other.

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That begins by taking the lessons we’ve learned about how to bend the curve of this disease downward and continuing to do so, even as we move into a more open economy. There isn’t one of us who wants to move back into shutdown and the chaos that goes along with it. Exercising sensible precautions is a tradeoff we should be willing to accept, because if we have to go backwards, it’s going to be a lot worse.

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“Mort de la Guerre”

GraveOver forty years ago while bicycling through eastern France, I took a break and walked into a small grove of trees which grew in the middle of a wheat field. There, sitting in a small clearing was a simple stone, inscribed with the phrase “mort de la guerre”.

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There was no name, no date and no means of identification, just a simple stone marking the final resting place of someone who had fallen in defense of Liberty.

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Since then, the men and women of the United States armed forces have been sent to the far corners of the world to defend the Liberty that we so often take for granted. It’s only appropriate that we dedicate at least one day a year in remembrance of those who didn’t come back.

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This weekend there will be remembrances, parades, and family gatherings. To those of you for whom that family gathering will be to honor one of their own who, in words attributed to Lincoln: “laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom”, we should all offer a silent moment of thanks.

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Secretary of State Colin Powell said in 2003:

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“Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return.”

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Cemeteries around the world stand as testimony to the price our country has been willing to pay for our freedom. But whether it’s the beautifully manicured grounds at Arlington or Normandy or an anonymous grave in eastern France, our obligation is the same: to remember the cost of freedom and to honor all who were “mort de la guerre”.

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Illinois is Burning, Governor. Stop Fiddling Around.

What a week.

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And, as is often the case, the big news of the week came on Friday afternoon, when the Illinois Department of Public Health issued an emergency rule which, in effect, turned small business owners who are deemed “non-essential” into criminals if they opened their doors in violation of the Governor’s Executive Orders. So now we have a Governor who’s willing to let murderers and rapists out of jail to make room for people who just want to earn a living, all in the name of protecting everyone from COVID-19.

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IDPH already has authority under the Illinois Department of Public Health Act to bring charges against anyone who refuses to obey any Public Health regulation:

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20 ILCS 2305/8.1

(20 ILCS 2305/8.1) (from Ch. 111 1/2, par. 24):
Sec. 8.1. Whoever violates or refuses to obey any rule or regulation of the Department of Public Health shall be deemed guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. The Director of Public Health shall institute prosecutions and proceedings for violation of the rules and regulations adopted by the Department of Public Health…Each State’s Attorney shall prosecute all persons in his (!) county violating or refusing to obey the rules and regulations of the Department of Public Health… (Source: P.A. 87-895; 87-984.) (Emphasis mine)

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20 ILCS 2305/2(k):

(k) Any person who knowingly or maliciously disseminates any false information or report concerning the existence of any dangerously contagious or infectious disease in connection with the Department’s power of quarantine, isolation and closure or refuses to comply with a quarantine, isolation or closure order is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

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The rule was issued to bridge the gap between the authority granted in statute and those businesses deemed “non-essential”. As a member of the Joint Committee on Administrative rules (JCAR), I’ll have one of the first bites of the apple when the Committee meets this coming Wednesday in Springfield. Needless to say, I will strongly object to this rule.

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Not to be outdone, on Friday afternoon, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) sent an email to owners of barbershops, hair salons and other businesses regulated by the “Barber, Cosmetology, Esthetics, Hair Braiding and Nail Technology Act of 1985 (I kid you not) telling them that if they didn’t follow the dictates of Executive Order 2020-32, they were at risk of having their operating licenses revoked. I find it ironic that IDFPR’s mission statement is as follows:

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“The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation’s mission is to utilize responsive, innovative, transparent, and efficient (R.I.T.E.) governance to create an ideal regulatory environment that (1) allows economic growth to flourish, and (2) effectively optimizes consumer choice.”

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Instead of threatening these businesses with the loss of their licenses, maybe we should repeal the “Barber, Cosmetology, Esthetics, Hair Braiding and Nail Technology Act of 1985”. These rules often amount to nothing more than rent seeking and serve no further purpose than to provide barriers to entry to people who just want to make a living. If I want someone to braid my hair (and if this shutdown goes on much longer, my hair will be long enough to do that), I should be able to let someone do it without them having to jump through all these regulatory hoops.

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But Wait! There’s More!

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On Friday afternoon I received a phone call telling me that the Illinois Department of Employment Security’s (IDES) website set up to process unemployment claims for “gig” workers had been hacked, but that I couldn’t say anything because the site was still up and running, with private information being made publicly available. To bring attention to it may have done more harm than good.

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This is only the latest in an ongoing series of problems that IDES has had while processing new unemployment claims.

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When you add it all up, and throw in the fact that Illinois is going to see a reduction in state revenue of about $7 billion in the next fiscal year, it’s quite apparent that the state stands on the edge of a precipice. I didn’t want to get all “Nero fiddled while Rome burned” here, but I think the Governor had better start opening up the state sooner rather than later, or when we all get to go outside again without him telling us how to behave, there won’t be anything to go outside for.

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