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.

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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.”

Analysis of Automatic Legislative Pay Hike

From The Center Square:

Op-Ed: Why Illinois state lawmakers are still in line for an $1,800 pay raise

“We don’t want nobody that nobody sent” is the most famous phrase on Chicago-style corruption.

But a lesser-known saying from the Daley machine explains the ongoing drama about whether state lawmakers just gave themselves an $1,800 pay raise in the middle of a pandemic.

“Don’t make no waves, don’t back no losers.”

Illinois lawmakers are still likely to receive a $1,800 pay raise. But some have tried their best to make no waves by giving themselves cover from backlash.

It didn’t work.

Average Illinoisans – 1.1 million of whom are jobless – were outraged to the point where Comptroller Susana Mendoza released a video this week assuring the public that lawmakers would be getting $0 in pay raises this year.

Kudos to Mendoza for standing up against political pay raises.

Susana Mendoza offers this as reason that there will be no pay hike.

There’s just one problem: It’s not her choice to make. The state comptroller does not create a budget and decide who gets paid and who doesn’t, she simply pays the bills for the state. Members of the General Assembly and the governor are the ones who create a budget and make it law.

And by refusing to reform the law, Statehouse Democrats decided to make $1,800 political pay raises more likely than not.

Follow along closely to understand how.

At the tail end of his term, former Gov. Pat Quinn tried to withhold lawmaker paychecks to pressure them into passing pension reform. House Speaker Mike Madigan didn’t take kindly to a governor wielding this kind of power over his members. So, along with then-Senate President John Cullerton, he passed a new law defining lawmaker pay and pay raises as a “continuing appropriation.” A continuing appropriation is like a bill that automatically gets paid each month, with or without a budget.

That means it doesn’t matter whether the governor uses his veto power to zero out appropriations for lawmaker raises. And it doesn’t matter if lawmakers pass a budget appropriating $0 to raises.

The Illinois law says the money shall be paid even if “aggregate appropriations made available are insufficient to meet the levels required” and “for any reason.”

In order to stop the raises, lawmakers must pass a new law specifically prohibiting them. They could also pass a law removing automatic raises from the definition of compensation, which the Illinois Supreme Court has ruled.

From fiscal years 2014-2019, they did the former. Lawmakers included specific language in the budget to stop their own pay raises.

This year they didn’t.

Under the law, appropriating $0 and touting a handshake agreement with the comptroller’s office is not enough to stop lawmaker pay hikes. But that’s what lawmakers did.

Imagine if the General Assembly verbally agreed to stop paying retirees’ pension payments. Or if lawmakers decided to budget $0 to pay the electric bills for the Capitol complex.

“The [pay raises] are on autopilot,” wrote Rich Miller of the Springfield political blog Capitol Fax. “They have to vote themselves to stop it from happening.”

If Pritzker and state lawmakers fail to pass a law prohibiting lawmaker pay raises this year – and Mendoza doesn’t cut larger checks for lawmaker pay – they will expose Illinois taxpayers to expensive lawsuits from aggrieved politicians.

Who would be brazen enough to sue for political backpay during a pandemic?

Do not underestimate state lawmakers. Especially after they retire.

In 2016, a group of Democratic members of the House of Representatives successfully sued to get paid during the state’s budget impasse. More recently, two retired state lawmakers sued for backpay for every year the General Assembly voted to freeze their own pay. Some lawmakers are using that lawsuit – which is still ongoing – as a justification for why they didn’t pass a bill stopping their pay raises this year.

Again, make no waves.

This argument ignores the fact that there was legislation on the table to reform the system – ensuring Illinoisans were protected from political pay raises going forward.

Craig Wilcox

“The General Assembly could have solved the recurring problem of legislative pay increases in this past session,” said State Sen. Craig Wilcox, R-McHenry.

“Unfortunately for Illinois taxpayers, my legislation never received a vote.”

Wilcox introduced a bill back in February to permanently end automatic pay raises for lawmakers.

But Senate Bill 3607 died in the Senate Assignments Committee without a hearing.

If lawmakers were serious about stopping pay hikes, they would have passed a bill specifically stopping the raises, dared anyone to sue (and taken it all the way up to the Illinois Supreme Court if necessary), and passed a statute ending all automatic pay hikes for future General Assemblies.

Instead, Illinoisans got a half-hearted song and dance that could end with raises for politicians as their constituents can’t find jobs.

This entire drama is uncomfortable for rank-and-file Democrats in Springfield.

Some surely would not have voted to hike their pay this year after voting for a $1,600 pay hike last year, which Pritzker signed into law. They are the fifth-highest paid state lawmakers in the nation – and the highest paid among any “full-time lite” state lawmakers.

But a failure in leadership means they’re now forced to defend actions that will not stand up to scrutiny in court.

For the rest of Illinois, make no mistake:

State lawmakers did not protect you from political pay raises.

They just made it harder to follow the money.

McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks Admits Not Being at His Office Often

Jack Franks

In the debate May 16, 2020, over whether Jack Franks’ agenda item to require McHenry County Board members who take health benefits to keep time sheets, the Chairman made a stunning admission.

Provoked by County Board member Jim Kearns, Franks admitted,

I don’t spend a lot of time at the Administrative Building.

I don’t keep hours.

I will start keeping hours [if the requirement passes].

On the average I spend much more than twenty hours a week.

Fifty to sixty hours.

I couldn’t get it done without an incredible staff.

McHenry Readies to Open for Business

From the City of McHenry:

McHENRY IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS!! COME HELP KICK START McHENRY!

In anticipation of being able to move to Phase 3 of Governor Pritzker’s Restore Illinois Plan tomorrow, May 29th, 2020, the City of McHenry has taken significant steps to reach out to local businesses to offer assistance in supporting their efforts to reopen.

This week City staff has hand delivered informational packets and personally coached over 200 businesses on the guidelines associated with Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois Plan to ensure that as many of our businesses as possible are capable of reopening this weekend.

These businesses include restaurants, gyms, salons, barber shops, retail businesses, manufacturing businesses, service businesses and more.

In addition the City held industry specific zoom meetings this week on outdoor seating at restaurants and sale/service of alcohol outdoors to ensure all state guidance is followed.

Part of this plan to “re-open McHenry” has also included City Staff working with many businesses to ensure they have the needed Personal Protective Equipment and sanitation products to safely open.

This week Mayor Wayne Jett, with the support of the City Council, issued an Executive Order to allow all McHenry restaurants and bars to offer outside on premise dining opportunities through the use of public property adjacent to businesses or within private parking lots.

This included the extension of the premises associated with liquor licenses to permit service at these expanded locations.

In addition, the City has personally offered and delivered over 150 picnic tables and 150 steel barricades to local restaurants so that those who do not have outside seating availability will starting tomorrow.

The City of McHenry is committed to acting within its authority to support the reopening of all local businesses under the guidelines of Restore Illinois and will continue to lead the effort to provide businesses with the support needed to reopen as quickly and fully operational as possible.

Mayor Wayne Jett stated,

“We want our residents to know McHenry is Open for Business. We have worked hand in hand with our businesses to create safe environments, so please come out and support McHenry by shopping local”.

The McHenry Chamber of Commerce is working diligently with a new business plan called, “Relaunch McHenry”.

The City is excited to continue their partnership with the Chamber to ensure that the health of our business community is maintained.

Additionally the City of McHenry will be launching a new business orientated website located at: www.shopndinemchenry.com.

Within this website local area businesses can register, allowing McHenry residents access to a wide range of local area retail, service and restaurants businesses.

As this site is brand new, please take the time to revisit it over the new few weeks as the list of businesses grow.

Reick Pins Re-Opening Success on Residents

From State Rep Steve Reick:

How Soon We Recover Depends Upon Us

Great Influenza

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Wilcox Finds Interest in Legislative Pay Raise Bill

From State Senator Craig Wilcox:

Sen. Wilcox: Sponsorship list for legislative pay raise ban grows

McHenry, IL. – Bipartisan support is growing and sponsors are being added to a measure, introduced earlier this year by Senator Craig Wilcox, eliminating cost-of-living pay raises for Illinois lawmakers.

“The legislation was virtually ignored when I introduced it on February 14, but now that the spring session has concluded, the public is beginning to discover there are political and legal nuances about the budget process, along with past court decisions that could lead to legislators getting a pay raise of $1,800,” said Wilcox (R-McHenry).

“My colleagues, who were uncomfortable with that part of the budget plan, are cosponsoring the legislation.”

Since the end of the spring session early Sunday morning, May 24, Republican Senators Jason Plummer, Sue Rezin, Steve McClure and Neil Anderson have signed on as chief cosponsors, while Democrat senator Suzy Glowiak Hilton and other Senate Democrats have expressed interest in cosponsoring Senate Bill 3607.

SB3607 would end automatic pay increases, known as cost-of-living adjustments, for members of the General Assembly beginning after January 1, 2023.

Craig Wilcox

“The legislation is simple and straight forward,” said Wilcox.

“It isn’t a complicated issue, like it’s been for years such as, requiring the Senate and House chambers to pass a resolution rejecting pay raises that must contain the exact same language.

“There’s too much ambiguity in the law and too many games have been played in the past. Additionally, when the General Assembly acted in unison to reject pay raises, lawsuits were filed by former legislators, and the courts reinstated the pay raises.

“That all ends with Senate Bill 3607.”

Sen. Wilcox said while the state constitution allows changes to legislative salaries, it prohibits changes in the salaries during the term for which the lawmaker has been elected.

The January 1, 2023 date was selected because, due to redistricting, all members of the General Assembly will be up for election in 2022.

“Everyone elected to office in 2022 and begins serving in 2023 starts fresh.

“That’s the appropriate time to begin this new state policy,” said Wilcox.

Wilcox said despite the pandemic-shortened spring session, lawmakers had time to consider SB3607.

“There were three full weeks of session prior to the legislative session being put on hold and plenty of time during the week after we returned to openly discuss the issue,” said Wilcox.

“Considering the fact that about one million Illinoisans are out of work, and that families and small business owners have had to cut back, and do with less, the waning days of session would have been an appropriate time to discuss, debate and decide pay raises.

“It certainly would have demonstrated transparency and accountability, and leadership.

“Unfortunately, the measure was never allowed to be publicly debated this spring.”

Illinois legislators are among the highest paid in the country.

With an annual base salary of almost $70,000, not counting extra pay for committee leadership and per diem payments for each day in session.

Illinois senators and representatives receive the fifth-highest pay, according to the Capitol city’s State Journal-Register.

Police State of Illinois Hits the Neighborhood

Here’s an email I received today from my property owners association informing residents of Country Club Additions that we can’t use our beaches.

Update on CCAPOA Beach Status: Beaches are closed…for now

With the warm weather quickly approaching we understand that people are anxious to head to the beach and enjoy the lake.  

Unfortunately the COVID19 pandemic and the State of Illinois restrictions are causing an impact on our ability to open our private swimming areas.

As a result CCAPOA Swim beaches are currently closed by the State of Illinois and McHenry County Department of Health.

Once the offices reopen and can certify our beaches we will reopen them as soon as possible. (We miss you too!)

To demonstrate our compliance with the statewide restrictions the beaches have been temporarily fenced and closed in order to minimize any inadvertent violations of any codes that the State/County Department of Health enforces.  

Lakewood’s Gate 7 Beach, closed by order of Governor JB Pritzker. Photo credit: Mackenzie Garcia.

It is important to note that the swimming areas are not closed for the season and will reopen as soon as the State allows.  

In the interim, we appreciate your patience during this difficult time.

In addition, it is also important for our members to understand that CCAPOA has been informed by the ILDH that if the Beach Closed status was violated, we may not have the ability to certify for the remainder of the year.  

In essence, that means if we have people in the water or on the beach then those individuals may directly cause us lose our beaches for the remainder of the year.

(Please don’t do it! Pretty please!!)

Please, be patient with us and don’t go on the beach or in the water.

It is not only a violation, but we also don’t know if the water is safe without certification.

(We don’t want an outbreak of water based bacteria to keep us all at home either.)  

I know this weekend is supposed to be warm and beautiful and I also want to go enjoy our beaches, we just need to give it a little more time.

That being said, the grass areas are NOT restricted or closed.

We request that you attend safely and follow the guidelines for safe interactions.

The websites for details on that are posted on the beach as well.

The association is not here to enforce any attendance in the grass areas unless they are immediately unsafe.

If you have questions regarding the Department of Health decision to close the swim beaches, please locate the number posted on the signs at every beach and contact them directly.

(The representative I spoke with today was Sean, he was extremely kind and professional and he welcomes any questions.)

We look forward to seeing everyone and safely enjoying the great weather.  

Thank you in advance for your cooperation!!!

Marcus Andreopoulos
President
CCAPOA

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A! May 22nd memo from the McHenry County Health department pinned the tail on Governor JB Pritzker.

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This intrusion on property rights and Freedom of Association reminds me of the Illinois Department of Public Health’s attempt to force port-a-potties at every CCPOA beach in the 1990’s.

As one might imagine, neighbors were not pleased.

I finally got the IDPH to back off by pointing out all residents using the beach were within walking distance of the beaches and could return home to go to the bathroom.

Ugaste Summarizes Legislation Session

From State Rep. Dan Ugaste:

News from State Representative Dan Ugaste

Dan Ugaste

After not having met since March 5, we met for four days of special session in the General Assembly and then officially adjourned. 

As there was still work to be done, I strongly advocated for longer session time – which was already built into the legislative calendar.

However, the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives chose to adjourn late Saturday night after pushing through a partisan, unbalanced budget for the new fiscal year.  

Below is a recap of what transpired last week during this special session as well as additional issues that have come up in the Governor’s response to COVID-19:

Letter to Governor Pritzker

I signed onto a letter to Governor Pritzker urging him to consider the human toll the Stay at Home Order for this pandemic is taking.  Along with 39 of my House Republican colleagues, we advocated for a holistic approach to handling this public health crisis.  

The data on the mental impact, the emotional impact and the indirect impact on people’s health the Stay at Home Order has had cannot be ignored.  There has been an increase in the number of suicides, domestic abuse cases and substance abuse.  There are consequences to being isolated for long periods of time and we must address this immediately if we are going to save not only the lives of those infected by the virus, but also the lives of those affected by the government’s response.

You can read our entire letter to the Governor here.  

New Legislation

This year I filed several pieces of legislation that I was not allowed to present due to the Speakers cancellation of the last 7 days of session, as well as the Governor’s unwillingness to call a Special Session.  Those bills included a property tax reform package to increase government efficiencies and reduce the heavy burden on residents. Property taxes remain a top issue and one of the biggest roadblocks to our success here in Illinois.  While this reform package wasn’t allowed to move forward, I will continue to push for these necessary reforms that will bring Illinois residents much needed relief. 

I also filed HB3910 to prohibit a cost of living adjustment ‘raise’ for state lawmakers.  This adjustment is built into state statute and is authorized each year unless legislation is passed to reject the raise.  Unfortunately, the Democrat majority refused to move this bill forward, which resulted in their wanted pay increase.  This was infuriating; especially at a time when 1.2 million Illinois residents are currently out of work.   In addition to a number of other bills that would help save taxpayers money. I filed HB5790 to fix the problems in the Illinois Emergency Management Act.  This legislation would have guaranteed legislative involvement in any declared emergency lasting more than 30 days and not required the involvement of the courts to ensure a co-equal branch of government is not silenced.

One productive bipartisan moment in special session included negotiating an amendment to the Occupational Disease Act.  I worked alongside my colleagues through the “agreed bill process” between Labor and Business to negotiate HB2455, which will help first responders and front line workers should they contract COVID-19 while at work.  This measure was in direct response to the pandemic and was a necessary step forward to help protect workers.

IDPH Emergency Rule Blocked by House GOP

The House Republican Caucus effectively blocked an improper and overreaching rule put in place by the Pritzker administration to create a new crime, including jail time and up to a $2,500 fine, for businesses who defy the Stay at Home Order and attempt to reopen.   This emergency rule was not only an unnecessary attack on small businesses, but something that should have been decided by the legislature. 

At one of his daily COVID-19 media briefings, Pritzker said this executive order would be an additional tool for law enforcement.   Yet, county sheriff’s offices from around the state publicly voiced their opposition, saying that they would not enforce it.  

Due to pressure from Republicans in the legislature in combination with that from the public, the rule was pulled last week by the administration before it was due for review by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR); the bipartisan legislative panel charged with approving or rejecting rules sought by the executive branch.  This was a big victory for the Republican caucus, businesses across Illinois and the people of Illinois.

Daycares Moved into Phase 3 of Restore IL Plan

Caving to pressure from the House Republican Caucus and childcare advocates, Governor Pritzker announced that more childcare centers will be allowed to reopen in Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois Plan.  

This was a win for the House Republicans, local business owners and Illinois families.   Had childcare centers been excluded from Phase 3, it would have led to massive shortages in daycare access and availability as people return to work.  

This was a necessary concession from the Governor, and I am pleased that this change was made, for the well-being of families and businesses.  According to the Illinois Directors and Owners of Childcare Centers, the administration’s current restrictions are putting childcare centers out of business while placing a heavy burden on families—including essential emergency workers.  

Previously, Governor Pritzker was insistent that the state’s few open childcare facilities for emergency workers would suffice. This theory placed daycare centers in Phase 4 of his Restore Illinois.  With last week’s announcement, more childcare centers will be allowed to open in the coming days.

A Partisan Budget 

On the fourth and final day of Special session, the House of Representatives passed a partisan, unbalanced budget, which appropriates roughly $42.8 billion in spending for FY2021. 

I voted against the budget for a number of reasons, primarily because the Democrat majority drafters admitted it is at least $6 billion out of balance; as well as being a partisan plan that did not involve the House Republicans.  Republicans were not allowed to participate nor give meaningful input into the process and therefore, it had a number of problems:  It gives the Governor more power over our state finances; it forces a tax increase on our already overburdened taxpayers; it increases spending and increases borrowing—thus, by doing so, increases our state’s debt.  

Most notably included in the budget was the pay increase the Democrats sought for themselves.  It is unconscionable that, at a time when so many in our state are suffering, the Democrats were looking out for themselves.  I did not support increasing my pay and will be returning that portion of my salary to the State of Illinois, since it is already broke.   

Before the vote on the budget, I stood on the “House Floor” and asked that we spend more time to come to a bipartisan agreement that would better serve the people of Illinois.  You can watch my floor speech here.  

Ultimately, this budget isn’t something that our chamber should be proud of and certainly wasn’t something that I could support.  Our state has real issues before us not only because of the pandemic, but many other issues that existed for our state before this crisis.  We owed it to the people of Illinois to work together to fix the problems in our State and produce a budget that would actually restore the State of Illinois.

Vote by Mail Expansion (VBM)

The Democrats also pushed through an expanded vote by mail program under the guise that it was needed because of the current public health crisis.  In reality, they have been trying to get this done for years.  While I am in favor of expanding voting opportunities to Illinois residents, it needed to be done in the right way.  

Our state already has some of the most permissive election laws in the country:  absentee voting, a long period of early voting, grace period voting, in-person Election Day voting, Election Day voter registration, online voter registration and more.  

The legislation makes several changes, most notably including the following:

  • Makes Election Day a State holiday for schools and universities, but not private sector employees;
  • Any registered voter who voted in the 2018, 2019 and 2020 will be mailed a Vote By Mail (VBM) application, but not voters from 2016, which will potentially work to disenfranchise 1 million Illinoisans;
  • The Illinois Secretary of State will twice conduct a taxpayer-funded “chase” program for VBM applicants encouraging them to return their VBM application or ballot;
  • Allows curbside voting;
  • Allows for remote VBM drop boxes, where a local election authority can set up an off-site location for VBM ballots to be dropped off, the security of which is at best tenuous under this legislation  

In its current form, this legislation has some serious potential flaws that would greatly increase the potential for voter fraud as well as an increased cost to taxpayers.  I also asked the Democratic majority to withdraw this piece of legislation and work to improve it with Republicans – this call went unheeded as well. 

IDES Failure

Two weeks ago, the Department of Employment Services’ online database was compromised, causing private information belonging to unemployment assistance applicants to be made public for a short period of time.

This breach was discovered when one of my colleagues was notified by a constituent who found that, while attempting to file for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits, they were able to access a spreadsheet with the names and Social Security Numbers of thousands of applicants.

The Governor’s office and IDES were made aware immediately and the problem has since been corrected.  However, the Pritzker Administration still have not answered questions from the legislature on the nature of the breach.

Despite the demands from lawmakers, the Governor has not discussed this matter with the General Assembly.  Until he answers for this grave error, if you did apply for unemployment, I would encourage you to stay vigilant about your personal information to ensure it has not been compromised in any way. 

Contact Me

My office continues to work remotely as we navigate this pandemic.  However, we are still working and available to you.  You can email me at ugaste@ilhousegop.org and contact me by phone at (630) 797-5530 if you have concerns or need assistance navigating community resources.

IL-6: Jeanne Ives Critiques State Budget…Again

Former State Rep. Jeanne Ives, currently running for Congress, offers the following commentary in today’s Chicago Tribune. It is reprinted with her permission.

Commentary: Illinois’ bloated budget needs a crash diet … again

In Illinois, the only good thing about the fact that nothing ever changes is that all of the op-eds you wrote seven years ago remain true today.

Jeanne Ives

I was inaugurated as an Illinois state representative in January 2013.

By July 2013, the naivete with which I had entered the Illinois House had worn off.

I went to Springfield to defend taxpayers, so getting pension reform implemented was critical.

In Springfield, however, pension reform bills were task-forced to death by then-Gov. Pat Quinn and his cartoon mascot, “Squeezy The Pension Python,” and the media were pressuring legislators to just get something done to reform pensions.

At that point in time, Illinois’ unfunded pension liability was close to $100 billion; it is now more than $138 billion.

With the inaction on pensions reaching fever pitch among all parties involved, I decided to write about Illinois’ bloated government.

I found that as a House member in the superminority and under Speaker Michael Madigan’s rules, I had little power through my vote.

But I had some power through my pen (or keyboard).

I penned an opinion piece for the Chicago Tribune that they accepted and titled, “Illinois needs to get on a serious weight-loss program.”

I look back at what I wrote then and can’t believe how much worse off our state has become.

In that article, I wrote a parody about Illinois government needing to lose weight, stating,

State leaders’ appetite for grease-laden power and political control has led to a $100 billion crisis that is clogging the arteries and slowing the flow of blood to the heart of Illinois.

Figuratively speaking, we Illinoisans can no longer button our pants.

I thought the line was clever — but it was also true.

Fast-forward to last weekend: Senate President Don Harmon, who just a month ago asked for a $41 billion bailout from the federal government, helped pass the biggest budget in the history of Illinois that included a $1,800 pay raise for all state legislators.

Pile on the second helpings and desserts.

But in 2013, the response from Gov. Quinn was far different.

He was so mad at the legislature, which his party controlled, that he used the amendatory veto process to zero-out legislative pay in one of the budget bills for fiscal year 2014.

He decided that until the Illinois legislature passed pension reform, salaries of lawmakers would be withheld.

Instead of rewarding legislators with a pay hike, he punished legislators for not getting the job done.

The media and citizens cheered, of course.

In my 2013 opinion piece, I also suggested a good weight loss program requires vision.

Let’s “tape a picture of our slimmer, sexier sister, Indiana, to the refrigerator.”

The comparison still stands. In the midst of an economic meltdown, Illinois Democrats just passed a budget more than 6% larger than last year’s budget.

Our “slimmer, sexier sister Indiana,” also facing diminished revenues because of the economic shutdown, passed a budget two days before Illinois with a 15% decrease in spending.

What in the world is wrong in Springfield?

Both Senate President Harmon and Speaker Madigan were around in 2013. They remember what happened.

They also remember that voters still kept them in power.

They are expecting the budget and pay raises will be long forgotten by the November election.

It will be up to voters to hold them accountable at the ballot box.

True in 2013 when I wrote it, still true today:

There are no quick fixes, diet pills or miracle creams to solve the problem. Major reform, like weight loss, requires commitment, hard work and true lifestyle changes. As one fitness guru might say, ‘Stop the insanity!’

Jeanne Ives is a former state representative, candidate for governor and the Republican nominee for Congress in Illinois’ 6th District.