Thursday, October 27, 2011

Statement from Regional Superintendents of Schools on Veto Session

SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools, representing regional offices of education and intermediate service centers in Illinois, today issued the following statement on developments during the Legislature's fall veto session:

"We have said from the outset we deserve to be paid now and moving forward. We are disappointed by today's vote in this chamber against this possible funding solution. We know we need a solution now and can't wait any longer. We will keep working with legislators to find the votes for a reasonable solution for our very serious funding problem, and we remain hopeful that resolution will happen in this veto session."

-- Bob Daiber, president of the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools and Madison County regional superintendent.


The Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools represents the dozens of elected leaders of regional offices of education, which provide a variety of key services to

AUDIO of IL House Debate on Funding Regional Superintendets

NOTE -- AUDIO RECORDING ERROR MISSED THE VOTE COUNT AT THE END. IT WAS 59-55. The measure failed to pass, but may be brought back later for reconsideration.

The first speaker is Rep David Harris. You may wish to ck out Rep Roger Eddy's heated comments around 12 mins into the debate. You can go directly to that point by double clicking on the time line.

AUDIO: IL House Debate on Funding Regional Superintendents by Illinois Channel

AUDIO of Sen Cullerton's Closing Remarks in the Debate of SB-678,the Tanaska "Clean Coal" Bill, from Oct 27, 2011

SB-678, Tanaska "Clean Coal" bill. Sen Cullerton's closing remarks by Illinois Channel

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

SIU Prof Charlie Leonard Releases 4th Annual Simon Poll of Illinois Citizens

Professor Charlie Leonard of the Paul Simon Institute at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, released the results of the 4th Annual Simon Poll of Illinois citizens.

The poll questioned 1000 citizens across the state on issues related to taxes, spending, pensions, and what candidates they prefer to see as the GOP nominee, and how those candidates would do in a head-to-head race against President Obama.

For results of the Poll:

Here's our one-on-one conversation with Professor Leonard about how he conducts a poll, and what steps are taken to see that the results are reflective of the true positions held by citizens across Illinois

Monday, October 24, 2011

Gov Quinn Statement on Utilities Dropping Trailer Bill

CHICAGO – October 24, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today released a statement regarding the trailer bill to Senate Bill 1652:

“Hours before veto session begins, ComEd and Ameren have dropped a “trailer” bill that they claim would be a better bill for the people of Illinois. Unfortunately, this movie still has the same unhappy ending: blockbuster annual rate hikes for consumers and businesses.”

“The bill still guarantees annual rate hikes every year for the next ten years. This bill still guarantees annual profits for utilities at the expense of hard working families and businesses, which will cost jobs. And this bill still eliminates any real oversight by the Illinois Commerce Commission.”

“Businesses, homes and families will see their electricity bills go up each year for the next 10 years as result of this bill. Legislators have a choice – they can listen to the people of Illinois who've clearly spoken out against this or they can listen to the fairy tales being spun by the two big utilities.”


Rep Holbrook Resigns to Take Seat on Illinois Pollution Control Board

Rep Thomas Holbrook,(D) of Belleville, resigned to accept an appointment by Gov Quinn to the Illinois Pollution Control Board. It also means Holbrook will raise his salary from $67,000 to $117,000

Gov Quinn Appoints Ann Schneider, Transportation Sec, John Holton, Dir of Aging

CHICAGO – October 24, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today announced two top appointments to his executive cabinet. Today’s actions are the latest in a series of appointments Governor Quinn will make as he continues to fulfill his commitment to creating jobs, fostering economic development, and increasing efficiency and accountability in all areas of state government.

Effective immediately, Governor Quinn named Ann Schneider as secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and John Holton as director of the Illinois Department on Aging. The Governor also appointed two acting directors and one interim director: Jim Larkin as acting director of the Department of Agriculture, Andrew Stolfi as acting director of the Illinois Department of Insurance and John Kim as interim director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

“Effective government requires leadership by talented and motivated public servants, and I am pleased to announce these qualified individuals to lead critical state agencies,” Governor Quinn said. “These strong directors will serve the people of Illinois well with their skills and commitment to improving state programs and services.”


Ann L. Schneider has served as acting secretary of IDOT since July 2011. Prior to her appointment, Schneider served as IDOT’s chief of operations, responsible for managing and overseeing the department’s six offices and four divisions. Schneider also spent five years as director and chief financial officer for IDOT’s Office of Finance and Administration. Before joining IDOT, Schneider was the chief fiscal officer for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and in the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget. Schneider has a bachelor’s degree from Augustana College and a master’s degree in public administration from Sangamon State University (now University of Illinois-Springfield).

John Holton will apply his expertise in community and human development to Illinois’ unprecedented increase in its older adult population. Holton served from 2007 through 2010 as associate director of the Division of Mental Health at the Illinois Department of Human Services. Previously, he served as site director for the Harvard University School of Public Health’s Project on Human Development in Chicago’s Neighborhoods, and is a member of the American Public Health Association. Holton’s experience addressing domestic violence and other issues impacting older adults and their families will strengthen the department's efforts to help older adults live with comfort and dignity. He holds a Ph.D. in human development from Pennsylvania State University, as well as a master’s in urban education from the University of Hartford and a B.A. from Howard University.

Acting Directors

Jim Larkin is a fourth-generation family farmer who lives on the farm where he was raised in the McLean County town of Towanda. He joined the Illinois Department of Agriculture in 2003, and has served as bureau chief of Agricultural Products Inspection since 2004. He manages a 680-acre grain farm, which includes 80 acres devoted to sustainable, organic production. A graduate of Illinois State University, Larkin founded Agri-Fire, a business that markets corn-burning heating appliances, prior to his state employment. He joined the Illinois Department of Agriculture in 2003. Mr. Larkin is married and has four adult children.

Andrew R. Stolfi has served as chief of staff and special counsel for policy and legislative affairs at the Illinois Department of Insurance (DOI) since 2009. He is part of the leadership team responsible for implementing national health insurance reform in Illinois, and is an active participant at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, where he chairs the Corporate Governance Working Group. Prior to joining the department, Stolfi was an attorney and policy analyst in the Office of the Governor. He has also worked as a judicial law clerk to Appellate Justice Thomas E. Hoffman and as a special assistant corporation counsel for the City of Chicago Law Department. Stolfi holds a bachelor’s of science degree from the University of Vermont and a law degree with honors from the Chicago-Kent College of Law. He is married with two children.

Interim Director

John Kim has served as chief legal counsel and ethics officer at the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since 2009. Kim has worked to protect Illinois’ environment since 1988, previously serving as acting general counsel at the Illinois Department of Agriculture, managing attorney and staff attorney at the Illinois EPA, and assistant attorney general and special assistant attorney general for the Illinois Attorney General. His experience ranges from working with state and federal environmental statutes to providing guidance in pollution prevention principles to selected industries in China, to working with China EPA, USEPA, the World Bank and the United Nations’ Environment Program. Kim holds a bachelor’s of science degree in industrial engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a J.D. from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.


Friday, October 21, 2011

President Obama Signs Three Trade Agreements Into Law

Statement by the Press Secretary

On Friday, October 21, 2011, the President signed into law:

H.R. 2832, the “Trade Adjustment Assistance Extension Act of 2011,” which extends the Generalized System of Preferences program through July 31, 2013, and reauthorizes the Trade Adjustment Assistance program through December 31, 2013;

H.R. 3080, the “United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act,” which implements the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement;

H.R. 3078, the “United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act,” which implements the United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement and extends the Andean Trade Preference Act; and

H.R. 3079, the “United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act,” which implements the United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Illinois Launches New Searchable Physician Profile Website

from the Gov's office

CHICAGO - As part of his ongoing efforts to increase consumer protections and transparency in Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn launched a website that makes important information regarding Illinois’ physicians available to the public. Maintained by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), the site offers consumers the information they need to make good decisions about their families’ health care.

“Information is power, and we want to make sure that people get the information they need to make informed decisions about the doctors who treat them,” Governor Quinn said. “This online tool will provide valuable assistance for patients as they choose health care providers for their families.”

The website allows health care consumers to review important information about the professional and disciplinary backgrounds of the more than 46,000 physicians and surgeons licensed to practice in Illinois. It offers a search engine that is easy to use, and enables consumers to search by the physician’s name, specialty, geographic region or hospital affiliation. The program also allows consumers to compare several doctors who have similar specialties.

More than 85 percent of all licensed physicians and surgeons have provided the information necessary to create or update their profiles. Categories of information available to consumers include: the location and scope of practice; the type of insurance the physician accepts; specialties and certifications; legal and disciplinary actions taken against the physician; educational background; and professional activities or honors.

“It is clear that Illinoisans are craving this information and they should,” said Brent Adams, Secretary of Financial and Professional Regulation. “Everyone is entitled to providing informed consent to medical treatment – not just being informed as to the procedure or medication, but also being informed as to who is recommending that course of treatment.”

The new website takes the place of Illinois’ original physician profile website, which was available between 2008 and 2010 and was removed as part of a larger Supreme Court decision. At the time, it averaged over 150,000 hits per week by over 42,000 unique visitors. The Patients' Right to Know Act (House Bill 105), signed into law by the Governor earlier this year, restored Illinois’ consumers’ right to access this important health care information.

“This legislation is needed even more today than it was in 2008, especially as more doctors are receiving performance-based pay,” Representative Mary Flowers, House sponsor of HB 105, said. “It provides valuable information to patients when they go to select a health care provider.”

"The Patients Right to Know Act will help to ensure that consumers are choosing the right physician for their needs," Senator Delgado, Chairman of the Senate Public Health Committee and Senate sponsor, said. "The database created under this Act will enable anyone to search by a doctor's partial first or last name, city, specialty, keyword, or hospital affiliation. Patients will be able to find out ahead of time if the physician has any the specialty certifications or legal and disciplinary actions for the past 5 years in addition to being able to see their resumes."

To find a physician’s profile, visit the IDFPR’s website:, or visit


Former Chair of Iowa GOP Joins Herman Cain's Campaign

from the Cain Campaign

The Herman Cain presidential campaign announced Wednesday that former Republican Party of Iowa Chairman, Steve Grubbs, will join the campaign as the Iowa State Chairman.

“We tried a community organizer as president, maybe it's time we put a CEO in the White House,” said Grubbs. “I've had the good fortune to work with Bob Dole, Steve Forbes and Tommy Thompson and I can honestly say that I've never quite seen the groundswell of excitement that I'm seeing for Herman Cain.”

“Having Steve Grubbs join our team demonstrates the commitment the Cain campaign has for its state-by-state strategy. We believe in our national strategy, but we know that we will need a strong ground based organization to do well in Iowa,” said Mark Block, chief of staff for the Cain campaign. “Steve Grubbs has been a part of the Dole Presidential campaigns in '88 and '96 as well as the Forbes campaign in 2000. These presidential bids were well organized campaigns and that's our goal for the caucuses.”
Steve Grubbs is considered one of the leading Republican strategists in Iowa. He has worked on four presidential campaigns and more than 100 state and local campaigns in the state. He served as Chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa in '97-98 and served six years in the Iowa House of Representatives prior to that.

“I've looked at the Cain campaign organization and while there's a lot of work to do, it has the ingredients to win. Herman Cain has deep support in Iowa and that makes the job of finding precinct leaders easier,” said Grubbs. “Mitt Romney has five years behind his organization in Iowa and that makes him the frontrunner, but the momentum of the Cain campaign is only getting stronger and the enthusiasm for Herman’s vision to turn our country around is only getting louder.”

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Illinois Broadband Leaders to Meet in Urbana to Address Bringing Broadband to Rural Illinois

Digital Future Brings Opportunities for Jobs, Education, Health Care

URBANA, Illinois – Jobs, education and the challenges of bringing broadband to rural Illinois will be among the topics of the Central Illinois Regional Broadband Summit on Wednesday, October 12 at the University of Illinois.

National and statewide leaders and elected officials will come together at the summit, sponsored by Partnership for a Connected Illinois (PCI), to review public and private investment in broadband and high-speed internet, and to discuss opportunities for the future. Representatives of two broadband projects in central Illinois, the Illinois Century Network and Urbana Champaign Big Broadband (UC2B), will share progress reports and detail the ways the investments can make a significant difference in the lives of people both locally and statewide.

Companies that have made significant investments in broadband will also participate in the summit, including AT&T, Champaign Telephone Company, Comcast, Consolidated Communications, and Frontier Communications. Representatives of each company will highlight their investments in broadband and discuss their views on how citizens and communities can benefit from access to broadband and high-speed internet.

Featured speakers will include Rep. Connie Howard (D-Chicago) the sponsor of legislation creating the Illinois Century Network; Sen. Mike Frerichs (D-Champaign); Rep. Naomi Jakobsson (D-Urbana); and Kevin Johnson of the office of U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson (R-IL). At the summit, Representative Howard will be recognized for her leadership efforts to eliminate the digital divide in Illinois.

“Illinois is in a race with other states and nations to develop broadband and high-speed internet in our communities,” said Drew Clark, executive director of PCI.

“Broadband and high speed internet are among the most significant infrastructure investments of our time, equating to improved health care, more jobs and a better education for our citizens,” said Clark. “Better broadband means better lives,” Clark added. ”Investments in broadband are vital to help our communities prosper, to help people live longer and healthier lives, and to bring essential education programs to areas that are currently economically disadvantaged.”

The Central Illinois Regional Broadband Summit will be held on Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), 1205 W. Clark St., Urbana, on the campus of the University of Illinois. PCI held similar earlier this year in Naperville and Carbondale. Following is a schedule of related events, all of which will be at the NCSA:

9:00 a.m - Noon – Research Symposium featuring Broadband Researchers
1:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. – Central Illinois Regional Broadband Summit

On Thursday morning, the Governor’s Broadband Deployment Council will meet from 9:00 a.m. until Noon, also at the NCSA. Two remote participation sites for the BDC meeting are also open to the public, one in Springfield and the other in Chicago.

Both days events will be streamed live on the internet via PCI's website.

Additional information about the summit and related events, including registration information, can be found on PCI’s website, The registration page is

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Sen Mark Kirk (R-IL) Says State of Illinois' Debt Worrying Credit Markets

from Sen Mark Kirk's office.. Oct 11,2011

State’s Debt Rising, Credit Rating Declining, Illinois Communities Paying More Than Other States in Interest

Citizens Owe 2x More than People in Indiana, Iowa or Missouri and

3x more than people in Michigan or Wisconsin

Combined State, City, County Government Debts Load For Each Chicago Household: $78,000

CHICAGO - With reports that the State of Illinois faces debt concerns greater than any other state, U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today published the Report on Illinois Debt, advising citizens on how much their state owes and the danger of its mounting debt. The report was prepared in consultation with Senator Kirk’s Sovereign Debt Advisory Board, chaired by financial expert Henry Feinberg.

“If Illinois enters an unrecoverable debt spiral, there will be no federal bailout. Therefore, the people of Illinois need to know the dire financial position of our state and what we need to do to fix it ourselves,” said Senator Kirk.

This report shows Illinois directly owes over $30 billion, on top of unpaid bills that increased ten times in ten years. The state’s accumulated health and pension obligations total over $140 billion -- with less than 60% of these promises covered, representing the lowest percentage in the nation. Illinois has the worst credit rating of any state in America and ranks 48th out of 50 states in healthy business climate. By adding the debts owed to Illinois, Cook County and the City of Chicago, each Chicago household owes $78,000.

“Illinois is in a self-perpetuating, destructive cycle of debt resulting from increasingly mismatched revenue and obligations,” said Henry Feinberg, Chairman of Senator Kirk’s Sovereign Debt Advisory Board.

Illinois pays almost $3 billion annually for interest on the money it already borrowed. Spending on interest already totals four times the amount needed to erase the $700 million budget deficit of the Chicago Public School System. The debt picture is not improving because Illinois unemployment is rising. The state employed 190,000 more people in January, 2001, than it does today. For debts and unfunded liabilities, each person in Illinois owes twice as much to the state as people in Indiana, Iowa and Missouri and three times more than people in Wisconsin and Michigan.

Because Illinois has such a poor credit rating, local governments must pay higher interest rates than similar communities in better-run states. For example, Cook County School District 163 had to pay more in interest expenses than similar Midwestern creditors because it was in Illinois: $592,706 more than Brownsburg Redevelopment Authority, Indiana, $893,109 more than Waterloo, Iowa and $1,096,437 more than a school district in Randolph County, Missouri.

Prospects for repayment are difficult. Illinois lost over 190,000 jobs since January 2001. The City of Chicago lost over 200,000 people during the same period.

Lost population means the debts and unfunded liabilities must be repaid by taxpayers who remain in the state. If Illinois had the same population growth rate as Indiana, per household debt would be approximately $400 lower than it is today.

Illinois citizens face higher taxes and larger debts because so many of their fellow citizens have moved to other, more fiscally responsible states. The State lost over 85,000 net taxpayers between 1995 and 2007 to neighboring states. Taxpayer flight between 1995 and 2007 cost Illinois an estimated $2.4 billion in tax revenue.

While Illinois is an American state with substantially stronger institutions than Europe, its debt load per person is higher than for citizens in Spain, Portugal, Ireland or Greece.

While there are many solutions to this problem, knowledgeable Republican and Democratic state legislators joined the Civic Committee to focus on key pension reforms needed to improving the state’s dismal record with borrowed money.

Senator Kirk concluded, “The deteriorating credit rating of Illinois harms our state’s ability to attract new jobs and higher incomes. To maintain the federal credit rating, Congress cannot bailout a few spendthrift states. Therefore, our state’s leaders must focus on pension reform and other anti-spending measures to replicate the growing success of Indiana and other Midwestern states.”

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fmr Rep Debbie Halverson Announces She's Running Against Rep Jesse Jackson Jr, in the new 2nd District

Former Rep Debbie Halverson, who spent one term in the US House representing the 11th Congressional district, announced today she is running again -- this time in the 2nd Congressional district, where she will face Jesse Jackson Jr. Halverson notes the new 2nd district map includes much of her former cong district, and areas she represented when she was in the state senate.

This will be an interest race to follow as it pits the Jackson family, against Halverson -- who is close to President Obama. At one time, President Obama was close to Jesse Jackson Jr, whose wife was friends with Michelle Obama, before she married the president. But today, Jackson Jr is reportedly on the outs with the President. In fact, following his recent address to Congress, the President turned his back to Rep Jesse Jackson Jr, while shaking the hands of other representatives gathered to with the president well.

Halverson no doubt has reason to believe she will have a good shot at grabbing the nomination from Jesse Jackson Jr, who she claims has been an ineffective representative for his district.

Here's a part of her announcment that she sent out to supporters:

Today, at the Skyline Restaurant in Chicago Heights, across the street from Bloom High School where both my father and I went to school, I launched our campaign to create jobs and bring real representation, real leadership and real results back to our district.

After listening to local residents talk about losing their jobs, losing their homes, or having to choose between putting food on the table and keeping their utilities on, I’ve decided that I can no longer stand on the sidelines.

Can you join me?

Working men, women and families throughout Chicago’s south side and the south suburbs have struggled for far too long. We need jobs. We need a better education for our children and grandchildren. We need better policies and stronger leadership that our district can count on.

As a lifelong resident of the Chicagoland area, I have worked here. I was a single mom raising my children and trying to make ends meet here. I understand the struggles that families are facing in our district.

Throughout my time serving our region, I have fought for the people I represent. I brought over 7,000 jobs to the area by bringing a new transportation facility to the south suburbs. I have stood up for disabled veterans and ensured they have access to VA healthcare without co-pay. I’ve advocated for seniors to make sure they didn’t have to decide between food and medications.

My track record shows that I am a strong advocate for the people in our district and I will continue to fight for you if elected to represent the 2nd Congressional District.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cong John Shimkus (R) Statement on Retirement of Cong Jerry Costello (D)

Washington, DC...Congressman John Shimkus (R, Illinois-19) issued the following statement upon the announcement of Congressman Jerry Costello’s retirement:

“This morning I received a call from Congressman Jerry Costello informing me that he has decided to retire from public office as a Member of Congress. This is a great loss for Southern Illinois and a personal loss for me.

“While we hail from different political parties, I have counted Jerry as one of my closest friends and confidants. I have been amazed at the productivity of Jerry in meeting the needs of the working men and women that he represents. In the House majority or in the minority, Jerry always seemed to get the job done. Regardless of who held the White House, Jerry was always able to get the work done.

“Many have heard me call him the patron saint of Scott Air Force Base. Well even patron saints retire, which will cause all of us to work a little harder to fill this gap. To Georgia and the entire Costello clan, thanks for sharing Jerry with me, Southern Illinois, and the country.”