Friday, July 21, 2017

Top Illinois Stories

Replace Shirley Madigan on the Illinois Arts Council – Forbes

"The Illinois Arts Council – led by the matriarch of the most powerful political family in Illinois – conferred grants without official meetings, ignored rampant conflicts of interest, and funneled millions of taxpayer dollars to asset-rich organizations – including media outlets – which don’t need public money."

Illinois has a budget, why aren’t we getting paid? – KFVS

Illinois' budget impasse has ended, but the financial fallout from the two year stand-off continues.

Other Highlighted Illinois Stories

Another blow for heartland workers: Slashed pensions – CBS News

"Unfortunately, this is only a glimpse into the future awaiting at least a million pensioners in the Rust Belt and elsewhere.... In the meantime, several states' public pension funds are running dry, including Illinois, New Jersey and Connecticut."

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is set to lead a multimillion-dollar research center devoted to the future of biofuels – Chicago Inno

This week the Department of Energy announced that UIUC will lead the $104M Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation.

The Prairie State’s Nuclear Waste Conundrum – NPR IL

Radioactive waste – tens of thousands of tons of it – is sitting in temporary storage at dozens of current and former nuclear power sites all over the country, as it has been for decades. The largest portion of it is divided among seven sites that dot the nation’s fifth-largest state: Illinois. Comment: Thanks to a political deal cut between Sen. Harry Reid and Barack Obama.

Big state pension takes a hatchet to hedge funds – Crain’s

The Illinois State Board of Investment, one of the state's biggest pension funds, soon will have jettisoned all but its best performing hedge funds because of low returns and high fees.

Over the past 18 months the pension fund has fired 65 hedge fund managers, and it will cut some of the remaining 17 as well, leaving it with just the best-performing funds that are reclassified by their strategies, such as stock investing.

"Hedge funds have not generated returns justifying the fees," said ISBI Board Chairman Marc Levine, who has overseen the near elimination of $1 billion invested by ISBI in hedge funds. Comment: Well, well, well. It looks like those evil vulture capitalists and bankers in the Rauner Administration are the ones draining the swamp to help pensioners at the expense of hedge funds. The thanks from pensioners and unions are deafening, eh?

Demand our leaders choose children over politics – Editorial – QCOnline

"Among the devilish details in the 583-page Illinois budget...lurks a potentially dangerous phrase requiring school funding to be given out via an evidence-based system."

Jim Nowlan: Someone needs to call out the IPI

Comment: Respectfully disagree with Nowlan on this. I don't think he fully understood the IPI budget proposal because the IPI didn't fully communicate it. See our article on that linked here.

The Big Myth of Health Care. Busted – Illinois Review

Comment: Cost containment is indeed what has been ignored.

New Illinois bond law offers locals a road to higher ratings – The Bond Buyer/SourceMedia

Comment: It offers a road to a disastrous, assetless bankruptcy. See our article linked here.

Fitch agrees: Chicago hit mini-jackpot in new state budget – Greg Hinz – Crain’s

Comment: Poor Greg. He'll never understand anything about finance. See the article above and our comment on it.

Observer: Madigan historically kills amendatorily vetoed bills – INN

It’s certain that when state Democrats' evidence-based school funding reform measure gets to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk, he’ll sign an amendatory veto to remove about $300 million a year in additional funding that he says bails out Chicago Public Schools' failing pension system. It’s just unclear what happens then.

Gov. Rauner signs bill addressing teacher shortage in IL – KFVS

The bill streamlines the licensing requirements for various endorsement areas, such as Career and Technical Education (CTE) and school psychologist, and makes other related changes. More than 1,000 teaching positions statewide are unfilled, according to data collected from school districts in October 2016. The majority, approximately 67 percent, of school districts in Illinois have 100 or fewer faculty members, according to the same data.

Illinois is on the verge of reforming its inequitable school funding system – CTBA

Comment: More misleading propaganda from the union-backed CTBA. For starters, Chicago schools get much more funding per student than the state average, even adjusting for the pension double-charge. The CTBA is reporting only state dollars, but you have to look at state, local and federal. We'll be writing more about that soon.

LaHood: Federal budget cuts are a must, just not Peoria USDA lab – INN

Republican Congressman Darin LaHood said the federal government absolutely must cut spending, just not the spending for Peoria's USDA laboratory.

Republican who broke ranks on budget undecided on school bill – Chicago Sun-Times

Comment: It would be nice if reporters would start reporting on what's actually in the school funding bill, instead of just putting "bailout" in quotes as did this author. The bill provides vastly disproportionate money for Chicago than other poor districts.

Send S.B. 1 to governor – Editorial – News-Gazette

"Democrats are certainly correct that the longer they hold S.B. 1, the greater the chances that chaos will ensue and Gov Rauner will be blamed."

Illinois school finance bill bails out Chicago – Illinois Policy

And it bails out the CPS pension, too. Statewide taxpayers will be expected to pay up to cover the nearly ten-year pension contribution holiday CPS took.

Economics prof: Credit ratings crushing, pensions punishing Illinois – Chicago City Wire

"A Chicago bankruptcy is likely unavoidable, as even the Obama Administration and Democratic Congress made clear that no bailout was in the cards," he wrote. "The shear human cost of a failed city is profound, and we should all be worried that about half of all 18 year olds in Chicago graduate into a lifetime of poverty each year. These folks live next to us, and their failure or success will label the Midwest for decades … The time for jokes about Illinois has passed.”

Holding Your Ground Against Austerity: Lessons from the Illinois Budget Deal – In These Times

Comment: "We’ve made important strides toward a bold vision," say these lunatics. Indeed they have.

Seventh Circuit: Wisconsin copy of Indiana right to work law constitutional – Cook County Record

Comment: Illinois is surrounded by states with labor policies dismissed here as radical and right wing.

Quigley Offers Amendment to Redirect Border Wall Funds to Essential Homeland Security Grants – Congressman Mike Quigley

Comment: Congress won't give a hoot about his proposal, of course, but virtue signalling is what counts with the open borders crowd.

Illinois’ $21 billion in school debt pushes up property taxes – Illinois Policy

School districts across Illinois owe nearly $21 billion in long-term debt. That’s an increase of over 67 percent since 2002, when debt equaled $12.3 billion. School debt grew at nearly double the rate of inflation over the 2002-2015 period.

Nuclear Competitors Handed Decisive Court Loss In Illinois – Forbes

On Friday, District Court Judge Manish Shah, U.S. District Court of Northern Illinois, handed a decisive victory to nuclear energy supporters and plant owners in a case that challenged Illinois's right to choose the mix of fuels used to produce power inside its borders.

Senator: Non-Chicago schools are falling for school funding ‘nonsense’ – INN

"What's amazing to me is how many downstate school superintendents are falling for this," Rose said. "They are being led by the architect of their own demise. It's the worst case of Stockholm syndrome I've seen since Stockholm."

Top Chicago Stories

Suburban property taxpayers would be on hook for CPS’ $17B in debt if schools bill becomes state law – Chicago City Wire

"A Chicago City Wire analysis of the the 482-page bill found carefully crafted language that would, in effect, distribute responsibility for paying off the massive debt incurred by Chicago Public Schools (CPS) across the rest of Illinois."

New deputy mayor Rivkin has transportation experience – Chicago Sun-Times

Rivkin is replacing Steve Koch, who departs after five years.

Other Highlighted Chicago Stories

Judge: South suburban Harvey illegally diverted water cash owed to Chicago, millions missing – Chicago Tribune

In a rare move, a Cook County judge has taken away a south suburb's control over its lucrative water operations after ruling the suburb's leaders "failed to grasp the severity of their years of illegal conduct."

Emanuel Email Case Nets Five More Lobbying Violations – BGA

Comment: City rules on this are written far too broadly. They capture improper lobbying, but can also capture harmless, innocent emails and other communications.

Emanuel’s right-hand man leaves City Hall – Greg Hinz – Crain’s

Comment: Greg Hinz writes, "The city official who played a key role in rebuilding Chicago's finances and boosting its post-recession economy is leaving." Good God, what planet is Hinz on?

Let liberal cities do what they want – National Review

Comment: Lots to be said for this point of view, and you can certainly insert Chicago into much of this article, though it's not mentioned specifically. The problem is the complexity and inconsistency that results -- a compliance nightmare for companies with a big footprint.

Political hiring laid groundwork for racist emails, alderman says – Chicago Sun-Times

Comment: Racism in Chicago Water Department? Political hiring? So shocking.

Chicago’s Wm. Blair leaving muni bond business – The Bond Buyer/SourceMedia

Chicago-based William Blair has decided to shed its municipal bond business, abandoning an effort that started four years ago to expand the public finance practice to new regions. Blair, which is both an investment bank and asset management firm, made the decision public Tuesday.

Grocery store’s video gambling opens new wagering frontier in suburbs – Daily Herald

As more grocery stores seek liquor licenses, often to allow sales of beer and wine along with prepared food in dining areas, they also become eligible under state law for video gambling licenses. Comment: How morally and fiscally bankrupt government raises money.

A Sign From The Past: What Happened To Chicago’s Koreatown? – WBEZ

Comment: Education and entrepreneurship. They assimilated. The melting pot works if its virtues are honored.        

These are the four hottest suburban real estate markets – Crain’s

The four towns that rose to the top of the list are Winthrop Harbor and Beach Park, a pair of neighbors on the northern tip of Illinois' Lake Michigan shoreline, and Homewood and Flossmoor, another pair of neighbors in southern Cook County. Comment: That's especially welcome news for those two south suburbs, that have been hammered.

Multiple waterfront towers planned for Tribune site in Chicago’s River West – Curbed Chicago

Riverside Investment plans a campus containing 1.5 million square feet of residential and office space.

Rep. Sam Yingling Op-Ed: Bruce Rauner doesn’t care – Chicago Tribune

Comment: Compassion for Illinoisans, you must understand, is entirely the province of the left and Madigan's caucus members in the House like Yingling.

Food processing, manufacturing no longer major way of life in Chicago – Marketplace

Chicago and the state of Illinois have lost multiple food manufacturers, and the jobs they provided, including a General Mills and a Tyson Foods plant. In 2000, the state had more than 47,000 food manufacturing jobs. That number has since dipped by the thousands.

Amazon plans 440,000-square-foot warehouse in southwest suburban Crest Hill – Chicago Tribune

Amazon is expected to have the facility up and running in mid-October, after completing more than $25 million in renovations, according to McMaster. The Crest Hill site will employ several hundred full- and part-time workers, he said — anywhere from 400 to more than 1,000 during peak shipping periods during the holidays.

Chicago Lays Off Prosecutors as Bodies Pile Up – Daily Beast

http://www.thedailybeast.com/chicago-lays-off-prosecutors-as-bodies-pile-up

Despite hiring surge, CPD on pace to break overtime record – Chicago Sun-Times

The Chicago Police Department is on pace to set another record for overtime spending in 2017 — despite a two-year hiring surge tailor-made to keep pace with attrition and bolster the force by 970 police officers.

Chicago Transit heads into bond market – The Bond Buyer-SourceMedia

While it faces some operating aid cuts, the CTA stands to benefit from the new state budget because funding levels are more certain and the state may be able to speed up payments due to an income tax hike and other measures aimed at lowering a bill backlog. The state owes more than $600 million to the CTA’s fiscal parent – the Regional Transportation Authority. On the capital side, the CTA remains starved for help as a prior state public works program expires. In the absence of state help, the CTA has turned to alternative financings.

IG alleges preferential parking scheme on streets near United Center – Chicago Sun-Times

Ever try to find street parking around the United Center on your way to a concert, Bulls or Blackhawks game and come up empty, forcing you to pay through the nose at a private lot? It might just be the result of a clout-parking scheme engineered by a former manager at the city’s 911 emergency center and executed by eight supervisors and traffic control aides to benefit “friends and family” attending United Center events.

Here comes your bailout for the financially-mismanaged Chicago Public Schools – Belleville News-Democrat

"What they really should call it is the 'Downstate Taxpayers Bail Out Chicago’s Broke Schools Act.'"

Cook County Assessor Faces Questions About Property Tax Inequity – ProPublica

After reporting showed that Cook County’s property tax assessments punish the poor and reward the rich, Assessor Joseph Berrios is called before a public board to explain.

As companies relocate to big cities, suburban towns are left scrambling – The Washington Post

McDonald’s may not even be the most noteworthy corporate mover in Illinois. Machinery giant Caterpillar said this year that it was moving its headquarters from Peoria to Deerfield, which is closer to Chicago. It said it would keep about 12,000 manufacturing, engineering and research jobs in its original home town. But top- paying office jobs — the type that Caterpillar’s higher-ups enjoy — are being lost, and the company is canceling plans for a 3,200-person headquarters aimed at revitalizing Peoria’s downtown.

Chicago shows off during the summer – USA Today

Comment: Just another page in the tale of two cities.

Wirepoints Original Stories

Rauner’s New Staff, Extremism and the Stockholm Syndrome – Wirepoints Original

That which can't pass the establishment in the General Assembly and its enablers in the press is "too radical" for Illinois.

The Importance of Being Scared (in Illinois) – WP Original

"If you are protected from dark things then you have no protection of, knowledge of, or understanding of dark things when they show up.”

New Financial Statements: Cook County Bleeding Red Worse Than Ever – Wirepoints Original

And check out the ten-year record of huge losses.

Outrageous Giveaway to Muni Bond Buyers Hidden in Massive Budget Bill – Wirepoints Original

We are being looted. The muni bond industry is going all out to keep raising the credit card limit and sucking every ounce of blood out to ensure it gets repaid.

The Many Ways Illinoisans Won’t Pay Higher Taxes – Wirepoints Original

It's not just that people are moving out.

Progress for Illinois? Here’s a Small Hint. – Wirepoints Original

Read this and guess where it's from.

Most House Members Don’t Know What’s in the $36 Billion Spending Bill Passed – Wirepoints Original

"We have no idea what's in it." - House Minority Leader Jim Durkin

With All Reforms Now Off the Table, Illinois Faces Disaster No Matter What – WP Original

Illinois has a financial crisis, not a budget crisis.

Speech Muzzlers Triggered: Chicago’s Theater Community On The Attack – WP Original

Together we make great theater -- unless you disagree with us, in which case you're a bigot.

New Study Details How Pensions Exploit New And Younger Teachers – Wirepoints Original

Illinois gets an 'F' as you'd expect, but we have plenty of company on this.

Why You Shouldn’t Believe The Illinois Budget Deficit Numbers Released This Week – Wirepoints Original

True numbers are 2X or 3X worse and show the genuine bind Illinois is in -- not just an ego clash between Rauner and Madigan.

Media Watch

Reporter Loses Job after Exposing Chicago Dyke March’s Anti-Semitism – National Review

The journalist who first reported the fact that three Jewish women were thrown out of the Chicago Dyke March several weeks ago has been moved from her reporting role to a job at her paper’s sales desk. As of yesterday, Gretchen Rachel Hammond — who works for a Chicago LGBT paper called the Windy City Times — no longer serves as a reporter at the paper, but she has declined to say officially whether her coverage of the march was the reason for the sudden shift.

Brown: Chronicle this — news website wants to fake you out

Comment: Kudos to Brown who, though not a Rauner fan himself, calls out an anti-Raune website. The Illinois Chronicle, brown says, is more like “fakeout news,” a political campaign vehicle masquerading as a legitimate news organization with a clear purpose of undermining Rauner’s re-election.

— Connecting the dots between our economy, government and business —

Top Illinois Stories

Replace Shirley Madigan on the Illinois Arts Council – Forbes

"The Illinois Arts Council – led by the matriarch of the most powerful political family in Illinois – conferred grants without official meetings, ignored rampant conflicts of interest, and funneled millions of taxpayer dollars to asset-rich organizations – including media outlets – which don’t need public money."

Illinois has a budget, why aren’t we getting paid? – KFVS

Illinois' budget impasse has ended, but the financial fallout from the two year stand-off continues.

Top Chicago Stories

Suburban property taxpayers would be on hook for CPS’ $17B in debt if schools bill becomes state law – Chicago City Wire

"A Chicago City Wire analysis of the the 482-page bill found carefully crafted language that would, in effect, distribute responsibility for paying off the massive debt incurred by Chicago Public Schools (CPS) across the rest of Illinois."

Wirepoints Original Stories

Rauner’s New Staff, Extremism and the Stockholm Syndrome – Wirepoints Original

That which can't pass the establishment in the General Assembly and its enablers in the press is "too radical" for Illinois.

The Importance of Being Scared (in Illinois) – WP Original

"If you are protected from dark things then you have no protection of, knowledge of, or understanding of dark things when they show up.”

New Financial Statements: Cook County Bleeding Red Worse Than Ever – Wirepoints Original

And check out the ten-year record of huge losses.