County Board Acts Like a Legislative Body, Fails to Over and Play Dead for Jack Franks – Part 1

After acting like Jack Franks’ punching bag since the organization meeting (see “Board Votes 14-9 to Replace Paula Yensen as Chairman of Public Health with Chuck Wheeler” and “County Board Rules Passed with Addition of Human Resources Committee” the McHenry County Board hit back at last month’s Board meeting.

They has a personal stake in the fight about salaries and health benefits, but, still, it was refreshing to see push back against the Democratic Party’s McHenry County Board Chairman after so many months of acquiescence to seemingly his every wish.

At the meeting, Franks began his offensive to cut County Board and countywide elected officials salaries (in 2022) and require time cards for those receiving health benefits during his opening statement.

He pointed out that local countywide officials were paid more than those in other collar counties, that County Board salaries on a per capita basis were the “highest by far” and that he “gets paid twenty thousand less” than any other collar county board chairman (ignoring the fact that Franks has County Administrator Peter Austin to do his heavy lifting, while, Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen, for instance, actually does what Austin does, plus what part-time Franks does).

In an attempt to shame the County Board members into voting to lower their compensation, Franks mentioned county furloughs, without pointing out there were only fifteen such affected employees.

With the county facing a “$20 million” deficit, Franks argued, “Our salaries are low hanging fruit.”

He did not point out how minuscule (0.05% of county budget) the reduction of County Board salaries would be, but a bi-partisan group of Board members did in an op-ed piece published by the Northwest Herald before the meeting.

National Guard to Chicago

From Gov. JB Pritzker:

Gov. Pritzker Activates Illinois National Guard at Request of City of Chicago

Guard To Help Chicago Police Department Manage Street Closures

Chicago – In response to a City of Chicago request, Governor JB Pritzker activated 375 Illinois National Guard soldiers for State Active Duty to assist the Chicago Police Department in protecting the City of Chicago and its residents.

Using Chicago River to protect the Loop. From Mary Ann Ahern, NBC-TV.

The Guard will carry out a limited mission to help manage street closures and will not interfere with peaceful protestors exercising their first amendment rights. 

“At the request of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, I am activating the Illinois National Guard to support the City of Chicago in protecting our communities and keeping people safe,” said Governor JB Pritzker. 

“This is an immensely challenging moment for our city, our state, and our country, one born from decades and centuries of systemic racism.

“To those peacefully expressing the pain, fear, and rage of this moment, I hear you.

“Your voices matter.

“We must address the profound injustices in our society and bring about real and meaningful change.”

Antifa in Chicago?

From Chicago Tribune video:

Broken window at Old Navy.
Fire at Dunkin Donuts.

The White House reacts to riots as President Trump designates Antifa as a “terrorist organization:”

Fox News reports:

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison told “Fox News Sunday” he has evidence that people from out-of-state were involved in violent behavior in Minneapolis, but he did not specify whether they were affiliated with any particular group or ideology.

The Minnesota Attorney General is not known for having conservative views.

Cook County Assessor Finally Follows Rest of State by Assessing All Homes at the Same Time

Cook County’s Assessor in times past for as long as I have followed the office (starting with PJ Cullerton’s corruption in the late 1960’s), has been hide-bound, even under reformer Houlihan James.

For decades only one-fourth of the county was assessed each year. That meant three-fourths of the county was underassessed, resulting in the most recently re-assessed quadrant bearing more than its fair share of the real estate tax burden.

The inequities could have been ameliorated by using quadrant equalizing facts (commonly called “multipliers” in the rest of Illinois, but, even when I brought up the subject to my former House colleague Houlihan, who could have gotten necessary authorizing legislation enacted, nothing happened.

Then, there was a slight improvement.

From assessing one-fourth of the county each year, Cook County started assessing one-third each year.

An improvement, but not a giant step toward equity.

Trident multipliers would helped a lot, but no such effort was made.

Now, Assessor Fritz Kargi, an avowed reformer, has decided to adjust assessments on all homes this year using Coronavirus as the reason.

The Tribune story reports,

To calculate the adjusted home values, the assessor’s office estimated regional unemployment and declines in housing prices in each neighborhood in the south and west suburbs. Townships in that area that already received initial values this year will receive new numbers after the assessor’s office calculates the COVID-19 adjustment.

There’s more in the article.

I’m just thankful that Cook County is doing what pretty much every other county has been doing since I started following real estate assessments in the late 1960’s.

Conflicting Advice on Wearing Masks to Fight Coronavirus

Found this tweet about the need for wearing masks from Blue Room Stream”

The recommendation has not changed and differs from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which urges individuals to wear a mask or face covering in public settings, regardless of infection or not, to limit the spread of the virus.

= = = = =

BlueRoomStream@BlueRoomStreamDr. April Baller, a public health specialist for the WHO, says in a video on the world health body’s website posted in March.

“If you do not have any respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough or runny nose, you do not need to wear a mask.”

Stabbing in Crystal Lake

From the Crystal Lake Police Department:

Crystal Lake Police Investigating Stabbing Incident

Crystal Lake, IL – At approximately 6:27am, the Crystal Lake Police Department responded to the 1300 block of Parkridge Court for a report of a disturbance.

Partridge Court, Crystal Lake

While enroute to the location, dispatch advised officers several subjects had left the scene.

Responding officers located two adult male victims on foot near the 500 block of Carlemont Drive.

A 31 year old male from Crystal Lake suffering from stab wounds to the abdomen, back and leg.

The second victim, a 24 year old male from Lake in the Hills had minor lacerations to his face and hands. Crystal Lake Fire Rescue responded to provide emergency medical care to the victims.

However, both victims refused treatment and were released from care at the scene.

One victim later self-transported to an area hospital for treatment where he currently remains.

The offender(s) fled the scene prior to police arrival.

Both victims and witnesses who were involved in this incident are currently being uncooperative with police.

This is an isolated incident.

It is believed the victims and offender(s) know one another.

There is no danger to the public.

We are in the early stages of this investigation.

At this time, we have no further information to provide.

As more information becomes available we will provide an update.

We encourage anyone who may have information relating to this event to contact the Crystal Lake Police Department at 815-356-3620. In addition, anyone can send an anonymous tip to the Crystal Lake Police Department by texting the word CLPDTIP along with the tip information to
847411 (tip411). Normal text messaging rates do apply.

Three Win Environmental Defenders Scholarships

From the McHenry County Environmental Defenders:

Environmental Defenders of McHenry County Awards Three $1,000 Scholarships

Woodstock, IL – May 29, 2020 – The Environmental Defenders of McHenry County is pleased to announce that three outstanding McHenry County high school seniors have been awarded $1,000 scholarships each.  

The graduating seniors plan to pursue a major or minor course of studies related to the environment.

The applicants were judged by a panel from The Environmental Defenders’ Education Action Team and to be eligible needed to reside and attend high school in McHenry County, have a respectable GPA, two letters of recommendation, plan to attend an accredited college or university, and complete an essay and full application, including volunteer service over their high school years related to the environment.

Tyler Butler

The scholarship winners this year are:

  • Tyler Butler, Woodstock High School
  • Haley Wegener, Prairie Ridge High School and
  • Jasmine Villavicencio, Woodstock High School.  

Tyler will attend Drake University with a double major in Environmental Sustainability and Resilience/Management and possible minor in Zoo and Conservation Science.  He was active in his school’s Green Club and Blue Planet Club and was fortunate his school offered an Environmental Science class.  

Haley Wegener

Haley is planning to pursue education toward becoming an environmental lawyer one day and will begin her studies at Iowa State and plans to major in political science with a secondary major in environmental science.  Haley excelled in her school’s AP Environmental Science Class.

Jasmine Villavicencio

Jasmine will be studying environmental science at the University of Tampa, and like her fellow scholarship awardees, took an environmental science class in high school.  She has a passion for travel and wildlife conservation and is the first recipient of The Environmental Defenders’ new Latino Environmental Scholarship.  The scholarship awarded to Jasmine was made possible through the Gerry & Bill Cowlin Foundation for which The Environmental Defenders is extremely grateful.  

The grant will also be used, in part, to help fund The Environmental Defenders’ general Latino Outreach Program of which the scholarship is a part.

The Environmental Defenders of McHenry County is a non-profit organization celebrating its 50th year of environmental stewardship through advocacy, preservation, protection and education. 

Democrats Control Cities Having Trouble, But Apparently Should Not Be Blamed for Not Solving Them

Just look at Chicago, for instance.

Since the corrupt Republican “Big Bill” Thompson lost in 1931, Chicago has been ruled by Democrats.

No need to go into a litany of problems in Chicago, but I can’t think of any for which Republicans are responsible.

Yesterday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot corrected pointed out that President Trump is trying to blame problems of big cities on Democrats:

He wants to show failures on the part of Democratic local leaders, to throw red meat to his base.

His goal is to polarize, to destabilize local government and inflame racist urges.

We can absolutely not let him prevail.

And I will code what I really want to say to Donald Trump.

It’s two words.It begins with F and it ends with U.

Notice that Chicago’s Mayor does not refute Trump’s generalization that her party is to blame.

Fox River Grove Village Hall Office Re-Opening Monday

From the Village of Fox River Grove:

Given the recent commencement of Phase III of the State’s Restore Illinois plan, the Fox River Grove Village Hall will reopen for normal business hours (Monday – Friday from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm) Monday, June 1st.

To protect the health and safety of all of our residents and staff, please plan to wear a face covering and adhere to physical distancing guidelines if you are coming in.

Dems Protect Public Sector Jobs during Lockdown

From Wirepoints:

Illinois government jobs protected, private sector jobs decimated during COVID-19 shutdown – Wirepoints

By: Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner

Industries across Illinois have suffered catastrophic job losses due to the state shutdown and COVID-19. Sectors including leisure and hospitality, business services and transportation have all experienced job losses in excess of 100,000 positions.

The least impacted sector in Illinois? State government.

A key element of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s initial lockdown strategy in early March was to select which industries were “essential” versus those which would have to shut down. Two months and more than 800,000 lost jobs later, we now know who the biggest losers and winners are.

Workers in Illinois’ leisure and hospitality industry have been the state’s hardest hit according to April data from Illinois’ Department of Employment Security (IDES). The sector has slashed 320,000 jobs, or 52 percent of its workforce, compared to a year ago. “Other services” are down 20 percent, while construction jobs have fallen by 13 percent.

In all, 13 percent of Illinois’ private sector, nonfarm jobs have disappeared. “Decimated” – derived from a Latin term meaning one in ten – is thus an understatement of private sector job losses. The losses will only get worse when May numbers are reported.

State government jobs, meanwhile, are down just 2 percent compared to April 2019. That’s a loss of 3,000 positions.

It seems like only municipalities in suburban and downstate Illinois have done any cuts at all. Even so, local government jobs are only down about 6 percent.

It’s clear from the numbers that the public sector is not going through downsizing like the private sector is. Not that government positions should be cut for cutting’s sake. Many of those jobs – police, fire, public health, etc. – are essential to protecting Illinoisans.

The real problem is that the private sector, the one that’s taken all the hits, has to keep paying for the public sector whose jobs and benefits have been protected. Gov. J.B. Pritzker refuses to consider layoffs, furloughs or pay cuts to state workers. Ditto for Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle.

But Illinois’ leaders aren’t just protecting workers from cuts. They’re actually growing public sector pay and benefits in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot has been quietly finalizing the $1.5 billion, five-year contract she negotiated with the CTU, which she calls the “most generous” ever granted to the union. CPS employees will see five-year raises of anywhere from 24 to 50 percent, depending on the job.

And at the state level, thousands of AFSCME employees, who are already some of the nation’s highest paid state workers, are scheduled to receive automatic raises in July. They’ll get step increases plus cost-of-living raises worth an additional $260 million as part of the state’s record-spending 2021 budget. Lawmakers passed the budget with a $6 billion deficit with the hope the hole will be filled by federal aid.

Those actions just add insult to injury for the millions of Illinoisans impacted by the shutdown.

The most frightening issue for the private sector is that 40 percent of lost jobs may never come back. “Our best guess is something like 60 percent of the employment reduction is going to be temporary, and 40 percent is going to be permanent” said Nicholas Bloom, an economics professor at Stanford University and one of the co-authors of a recent study.

The fundamental problem in Illinois has long been that we do not have the jobs and growth to pay for the public sector we created and the promises we have made to it.

Now that shortfall will be even more extreme.

U.S. Constitution 1, Pritzker 0

From Wirepoints, which tells of former State Rep. Peter Breen’s victory over JB Pritzker at the highest court in the land:

Pritzker Wilts Hours Before United States Supreme Court Review, Double-Talks About-Face on Churches – Wirepoints

By: Mark Glennon*

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker Thursday abandoned all restrictions in his emergency pandemic order related to religious services. The Illinois Department of Public health released replacement, voluntary guidelines.

The retreat came hours before the State of Illinois was due to file its response with the United States Supreme Court to an appeal by two Illinois churches for emergency relief from his stay-at-home order.

That appeal would have been handled by Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Elena Kagan who, according to a report by FOX News, could have either handled the case themselves or referred it to the full court.

But now the state has told the Court that the churches’ request is moot because the mandatory rules have been dropped.

The full text of the state’s response does nevertheless include the state’s argument on the merits of its defense.

Pritzker’s announcement that he had reversed positions was uncandid, to say the least.

In his prepared remarks at his daily press conference Thursday he said only that IDHP was posting the new voluntary guidance, but never said his mandatory restrictions were being cancelled. Those comments are below.

He then ducked and equivocated when asked specifically, burying the fact that he was abandoning mandatory restrictions.

When finally asked directly whether the new guidelines would be enforced, he said, “As you know, I have never encouraged any police enforcement or any other kind of breaking up of gatherings.” The Q&A is also below.

But that’s not true.

While Pritzker has gone back and forth on whether enforcement of his order would be left to local officials, his most recent action was to threaten local police and enforcement officials who don’t enforce it.

Chicago has been enforcing the order, sending police to break up church services, making parking for churchgoers impossible and fining churches.

It was “like the Soviet-style KGB” said one pastor about how police tried to break up his service.

Pritzker can spin it as he wants, but here’s how counsel for some of the churches, Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society, correctly put it:

Peter Breen

This is a total and complete victory for people of faith. The Illinois’ governor and his administration abused the COVID-19 pandemic to stomp on the religious liberty of the people of Illinois.

By issuing guidelines only and not the previously announced mandatory restrictions, he has handed a complete victory to the churches in Illinois.

Why did Pritzker wilt?

Why did he try to obscure his retreat?

Was it because his “science and data” somehow changed?

Everything he does is based on that and anybody who doesn’t abide is costing lives, he says constantly.

Or was it because he feared having his vast emergency powers challenged in the United States Supreme Court?

I’d say the latter.

*Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints.

Pritzker’s Prepared Statement on May 28:

We will also be posting recommendations for houses of worship, providing more guidance for houses of worship in phase three.

Having received many plans and ideas from responsible faith leaders, IDPH has reviewed many detailed proposals and has provided guidance, not mandatory restrictions for all faith leaders to use in their efforts to ensure the health and safety of their congregants. [Emphasis added.]

This includes suggestions on capacity limits, new cleaning protocols indoor gatherings of 10 persons or less a reduction of activities like sharing food, and the safe conduct of outdoor congregating.

The safest options remain remote and driving services, but for those that want to conduct in person activities, IDPH is offering best practices.

Q&A After Pritzker’s Statement:

Question: Today five churches in Lake County filed a lawsuit against your administration. The  Christian Assembly of God says they run a food pantry out there, which gets state funding, 30 volunteers feeding 1200 people a week, but they can’t have more than 10 people on Sunday for phase three. How do you respond to that discrepancy which they say, just frankly is not fair to them?

Pritzker: Well as regards of food pantry you know I was in East St. Louis yesterday at a food pantry and like many nonprofit organizations they’ve had to make adjustments in order to keep their patrons safe you know to keep the people who use the food pantry safe. I know that lots of organizations have made those adjustments, it isn’t. Nothing is directed here at at a religious organization that happens to have a food pantry it’s really the idea here for everybody for everything and food pantry specifically is just to make sure that those who get served are served in a safe environment so you know we provide guidelines for different kinds of food service, and organizations, you know in grocery stores and so on. So I think those would apply here too.

Question: I’m sorry maybe the pastor is saying they have 30 people in working the food pantry. If they can have 30 people to work a food pantry, you’re going to find so they can only have 10 people in a service. And the discrepancy there has frustrated the pastor.

Pritzker: Well, again, we have guidelines that are now available for the afternoon on the or will be this afternoon on the dceo website. And those are our best recommendations. We’re not providing restrictions. We’re simply providing the best recommendations that we can for keeping people safe. So we hope that the pastor will follow that guidance and those recommendations for his services his or her services

Question: But if there’s no restrictions then you’re not going to be asking for any law enforcement?

Pritzker: As you know, I have never encouraged any police enforcement or any other kind of breaking up of gatherings. What I have said is that pastors should use their judgment and the science and data, and should follow the recommendations that have been made, but I realized that some have ignored that.

McSweeney Moves to Protect Reputation from Blogojevich-Voiced Video

WCIA-TV is reporting that State Rep David McSweeney has taken court action to excise a video wishing him a happy retirement featuring former Governor Rod Blagojevich.

WICA reports, “John Bambenek, a Champaign Republican who ran an unsuccessful campaign for the Illinois state Senate in 2012, purchased the video and authored the script.”

The message linked McSweeney with Blagojevich and implied a relationship with the former Governor’s illegal activities.

A cease and desist letter, the station obtained, indicated that McSweeney thought House GOP Leader Jim Durkin was involved.

McSweeney has been harsh in his criticism of Durkin, especially with regard to keeping a negative Inspector General’s report of an unnamed colleague secret.

The story says the video

…needle[d] McSweeney for his close relationship with House Speaker Michael Madigan’s longtime confidante and clouted former lobbyist Mike McClain.

“If McSweeney wants to be chairman of the Mike McClain supper club, you’ll pardon me if I question his credentials as a reformer and conservative,” Bambenek said, dubbing McClain a ringleader in the “patronage class of the Democratic Party.”