Biography of Cal Skinner, Sr. – Part 8 – The Star Reporter, Daughter Ellen Bored in High School, Prohibited from Attending MCC Classes

Before we moved to Crystal Lake in 1958, the Government Improvement League of McHenry County had a newsletter. Dad belonged to the group and became responsible for publishing that newsletter. From 1963 to 1968 the publication became the Public Affairs Newsletter.
I

An issue of the Star Reporter.

In 1969, Dad renamed the publication “The Star Reporter.” It was a weekly newspaper. (Click to see the arguments by Herb Lutter against the proposed Ladd Site in McHenry for McHenry County College, published in 1970.)

Among other issues, he spoke out about the building of the new courthouse without a referendum. It was built with illegally accumulated surpluses.

That and other “rock turning over” stories must have irritated the Establishment as much and, perhaps more, than McHenry County Blog.

I remember McHenry County State’s Attorney Bill Cowlin, who was first elected in 1968, interrupting a Finance Committee meeting held in the county board room.

He started berating me for an article my father had published saying it was inaccurate. I knew the article was accurate because I had written it. It was about a legal opinion that county treasurers could put up to the insured amount ($15,000 at the time) in savings and loans associations. Dad’s headline was a bit off.

I told Cowlin that it wasn’t the time or the place for such a discussion. He walked out in a huff. (That was the same meeting that the county board members decided to double the number of copies of the 1968 county history book. My father was working on selling them into the 1980’s.)

In 1969, my father again took on District 155. My sister Ellen was bored in high school, so Dad asked fellow church member and Superintendent John Buckner if she could attend some classes at McHenry County College instead.

Buckner replied that would result in the school district losing State Aid to Education.

“John,” my father replied. “It’s $154 a year. I’ll write you a check.”

Buckner didn’t accept the offer, but, starting the year after my sister graduated from CLCHS, its students were allowed to take MCC classes.

Ellen and Dad found a way around her boredom.

She entered the Diversified Occupations program and spent every afternoon working on the Star Reporter.

Typing, mainly.

And, she got paid for it.

In 1970, the McHenry County College Board put a referendum on the ballot to buy land from Ladd Enterprises in McHenry on which to construct a campus. Dad opposed the December 5th referendum, as you can see by clicking on The Star Reporter article above.

80% voted against the referendum.

The next time around, the board proposed the current Crystal Lake site and it was approved.

= = = = =
More of the biography tomorrow.

Biden’s Fight on Domestic Terrorism Could Bring Cash to Local Police Departments

From the U.S. Department of Homeland Security:

Statement from Secretary Mayorkas on the National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism 

With today’s release of the first-ever National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism, President Biden is demonstrating his steadfast commitment to addressing the most significant and persistent terrorism-related threat to the homeland today. 

In furtherance of the National Strategy, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will remain focused on addressing violence, while at the same time protecting privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties. 

DHS is undertaking a number of actions as part of an all-of-government effort to fight domestic terrorism. 

DHS is enhancing its analysis of open-source information to identify threats and leverage credible threat-analysis produced by others.

The Department is continuing its efforts to provide timely and useful information to state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement as well as international and private sector partners.

DHS is developing key partnerships with local stakeholders through the Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships (CP3) to identify potential threats and prevent terrorism. 

For the first time, the Department designated domestic violent extremism as a “National Priority Area” within DHS’s Homeland Security Grants, which will provide local partners with more than $77 million to prevent, protect against, and respond to domestic violent extremism.  

We must and we will remain vigilant in our steadfast efforts to safeguard our Nation and our democratic principles.

IL-16: When Jack Lombardi Asks John Lopez a Question – Part 1

Catalina Lauf

From the desk of John Lopez: When one asks loaded questions, they may not like the answers

Yesterday afternoon, IL-16 Republican candidate Jack Lombardi asked a question on Twitter of I, John Lopez:

Jack Lombardi strikes an il duce pose 4/17/21

Since Lombardi claimed to be asking an “honest” question concerning the proven leadership of Republican Catalina Lauf, I intend to give readers what was requested.

First, I, John Lopez, do not “gaslight”.

In several Twitter exchanges with me, when Lombardi refers to me as gaslighting, it’s simply a projection of what he normally does, as these articles will prove.

Also, I’ll take the questions he asked, but I’ll also add components he did not include, either out of omission or simply lack of Twitter space in his 3-part tweet.

Finally, as always applied here on McHenry County Blog, I will apply full context as best as I can, given the subject matter.

Now, on to the answers and the honest truth.

I’m going to remind everyone of the age difference between Lombardi, who is 44 and Lauf who is 28. Both are running for a seat in the United States House of Representatives where 25 is the minimum eligible age.

Several of Lombardi’s questions will be answered on disclosure reports to be filed later this summer. Therefore, I am going to defer, including the following questions:

  • What companies has she built?
  • Investors or self funded?
  • What home has she bought?

Per McHenry County Blog updated article on June 2, both Lauf and Lombardi chose to file 90-day extensions for their respective Financial Disclosure (FD) reports originally due on May 15.

By August 13, both candidates will have disclosed their financial holdings along with income, both earned and unearned for all of 2020 and over half of 2021 (at least through June, possibly July).

The bulleted questions for both candidates, will be answered with the FD. If answers not there, I’ll be asking all candidates for their full information.

While Lauf filed an FD in late 2019 for her 2020 candidacy in IL-14, questions were raised by me as well as other members of the media and Lauf filed an amended FD. Nearly two years have passed since her previous FD, and much could have changed in her financials.

We’ll know by August 13.

Catalina Lauf’s Defense of Freedom PAC

There is a filing which qualifies for Lauf having shown leadership built a company in her own name, and it is something McHenry County Blog has tracked since late last year — her Defense of Freedom PAC (DOFPAC).

Earlier this year, after her latest filing of DOFPAC through January 25, Lauf took her $5,000 initial investment, and in just over 4 months, Lauf raised over $111K from investors/donors.

McHenry County Blog documented it here, but this is empirical proof Lauf knows how to build a business, even if it’s a PAC, and at the same time, helped other Republicans financially late last year.

That’s known as “carrying water for the Republican elephants” and I’m curious to know what Lombardi has done to help other Republican candidates, financially or otherwise, in his 26 years of adult life.

Catalina Lauf’s Leadership on Important Issues Against the Left

Another area where Lauf has matured as a leader and as a leading candidate has to do with taking on the Left on important issues with broad appeal outside the usual emotional issues in a Republican primary, like the 2nd Amendment and Immigration.

Lauf established herself as a leader on worker classification over a month before her 2022 candidacy launch. McHenry County Blog documented this here.

The issue with worker classification demonstrated how far the Left went on the livelihoods of all Americans, including center-left voters in California where many of these voters crossed over in 2020 to vote Republican.

Lauf showed real leadership by breaking out of the mold of the traditional Republican candidate, and taking on challenging issues, complete with her own research proving she’s ready to lead in the United States Congress.

Part 2 will cover the final question Lombardi asked, and will explore why he asked it in a way that left out some important components that also need to be disclosed.

Legislators Avoid Vote on July 1st Gas Tax Hike

From The Center Square:

Gas tax increasing, trailer tax could decrease

(The Center Square) – Taxes for drivers filling up at the pump in Illinois are going up again July 1, an annual increase one analyst says politicians made to take them off the hook from having to vote for tax increases in the future.

Gas prices are up more than a dollar over the previous year, driven partly by demand as government COVID-19 restrictions lift.

Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis with GasBuddy, says Illinois is 6th highest in the nation and the highest in the midwest by far.

“Illinois is not the place to fill up if you’re hitting the road this summer. You’ll want to get outside the state before filling your tank,” De Haan said.

As of Friday afternoon, GasBuddy had the average for regular blends in Illinois at nearly $3.30 a gallon. Indiana was $3.05. Wisconsin was $2.92. Kentucky was $2.88. Iowa was $2.87. Missouri was $2.76.

Chicago requires a different blend which pushes prices in the metro area up, De Haan said.

Then there are the taxes. Illinois doubled state gas taxes two years ago to 38 cents a gallon and started annual increases tied to inflation. Last year’s increase was seven-tenths of a penny per gallon. This year, it’ll increase about a half-a-penny per gallon, but it depends on the blend.

“Many states now index gasoline tax changes to inflation so that politicians don’t have to vote to increase taxes, but indeed that is going to be another hit on gas prices across the state of Illinois,” De Haan said.

Before doubling the gas tax and indexing annual increase, drivers filling up in Illinois paid $1.3 billion in taxes in Fiscal Year 2019. In Fiscal Year 2020, that was $2.3 billion. So far this year with a month left to report for Fiscal Year 2021, motor fuel taxes are $2.2 billion.

While gas taxes in Illinois next month will have another half-a-penny per gallon tacked on, other driving-related taxes could possibly decrease.

A measure headed to the governor’s desk may change a variety of other tax increases in that two-year-old law that doubled the gas tax. Lawmakers passed Senate Bill 58 last month to decrease trailer plate fees from $118 to $36. It also removes the $10,000 cap on vehicle trade-in credits some said was double taxation.

Motorcycle lobby ABATE of Illinois’ Josh Witkowski told WMAY the measure is a win all around.

“It’s a win for people who purchase used vehicles,” Witkowski said “It’s a win for people who have small trailers. It’s a win for motorcyclists all throughout Illinois because that small trailer behind your motorcycle is no longer $118.”

But, the measure does increase the title transfer fee from $150 to $155.

The bill cleared both chambers and has yet to be sent to the governor.

Biography of Cal Skinner, Sr. – Part 7 – Running for County Auditor, Precinct Committeeman, Calling the Meeting that Led to McHenry County College

In honor of the anniversary of my father’s 105 birth year, I continue this series about his life:

In 1963, my mother and I attended the Illinois Crime Commission’s summer hearings held in the old county board room at what is now Woodstock City Hall. It was twice the size of the current Woodstock City Council Chambers.

Crime Commission Executive Director Charles Siragusa had investigated a bookmaking operation in Crystal Lake and presented diagrams of Crystal Lake businesses (like the magazine shop on Williams Street) from which bets were phoned to a room on the second floor the Pinemoor Hotel southwest of the First Congregational Church. At the time, we knew the Pinemoor as a great place for pizza. (It still is near the “V” in the Crystal Lake Plaza.)

The owner of the Pinemoor was Harry Snell, our Republican precinct committeeman. He told the commissioners he didn’t know what was going on upstairs.

Algonquin Township Precinct 7 was huge. It went from Route 14 to the the McHenry-Kane County line east of McHenry Avenue. Most of the homes were in Crystal Lake and Lakewood. The current Lake in the Hills and Algonquin subdivisions west of Randall Road did not exist then. They were farms.

In 1964, my father ran for the office of McHenry County Auditor. It was the first year that the county had enough population to have one–over 80,000 people.

He ran against McHenry County Board Chairman Harley Mackeben, who was on the board by virtue of his position as Grafton Township Supervisor.

My father and mother ran a leisurely campaign in the then-90,000 person county, telling people who asked whether he would quit his Barley and Malt Institute job that he wouldn’t, that the job only require part-time work, which was subsequently proven correct.

Mother and Dad campaigned in the little northern and western towns on weekends, going into the small bars and stores and introducing themselves.

Dad lost the two-way race by about 300 votes, preparing the way for me to become McHenry County Treasurer in 1966 in a 3-way race (33%+, 33%, 33%-) by 72 votes with about 13,000 cast.

Lots of people obviously thought they were voting for my father. “I thought you were older,”

I heard again and again when they met me, the 20-something, in the Treasurer’s Office.

The same year, Dad decided that he would make a more appropriate precinct committeeman than Harry, ran against him and won.

In 1967, Dad, who had successfully opposed the formation of a junior college district in 1963, called a meeting in the cafeteria of Crystal Lake Community High School that led to the formation of a committee that successfully created McHenry County College with a ten-cent tax rate. The committee promoted a college that would be one-third funded by student tuition, one-third by local property taxpayers and one-third by the state. (Needless to say, state government did not come through with the promises made by state officials who spoke to McHenry County college proponents.)

The referendum passed on April 1, 1967, and Dad was elected to serve on its first board.

More tomorrow.

Chemtool Plant, Sold to Berkshire Hathaway, Suffers Devastating Fire

Chemtool smoke from a Rockton home.

The plant of Chemtool, the plant that exploded in Rockton near the Wisconsin border today, started in Crystal Lake.

Chemtool smoke plume from an airplane flying out of Rockford Airport.

There still is a facility on Ridgefield Road in Crystal Lake.

The firm decided it needed a larger footprint and trying to obtain it west of Marengo.

When they did not work out, an attempt to locate in Garden Prairie was considered.

Eventually, the Beloit Corporation property in Rockton was acquired.

It is near the Rock River and fire fighters have decided not to pour so much water on the fire that runoff will pollute the waterway.

Jim Athans announced the sale of his company to Warren Buffett’s Birkshire Hathaway in 2011.

Wonder Lake Church Robber Caught in the Act

From the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department:

Christopher Kalisz Arrested Again for Burglary

Christopher A. Kalisz, of Wonder Lake, was arrested on June 14, 2021, for burglary at a Wonder Lake church after bonding out of McHenry County Adult Correctional Facility several hours prior.

Christopher Kalisz,

On June 14, 2021, at approximately 2:05 a.m., McHenry County Sheriff’s Office was called to Wonder Lake Bible Church located at the 7500 block of Howe Road, Wonder Lake, in regard to a trespass complaint captured on a Ring Doorbell.

Upon arrival, the Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with Wonder Lake Police Department, entered the church.

Kalisz then ran out of the building and was immediately taken into custody by deputies.

Kalisz was found to have numerous burglary tools as well as money from a church fundraiser.

Christopher Kalisz had recently been arrested on June 8, 2021, for a series of burglaries in Wonder Lake and McHenry.

He was released on bond around 8:00 p.m. on June 13, 2021.

Deputies checked other businesses in the area and did not locate any other break-ins. The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office encourages anyone who observes suspicious or criminal activity to contact us at (815) 338-2144.

Arrested: Christopher A. Kalisz, 39, Wonder Lake, IL

  • 1 count of burglary to a place of worship (Class 1)
  • 1 count of violation of bail bond (Class 3)
  • 1 count of criminal damage to property – place of worship (Class 4)
  • 1 count of possession of burglary tools (Class 4)
  • 1 count of theft less than $500 – place of worship (Class 4)

The charges against this individual are merely allegations against him. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Estimated McHenry County Salaries (Really, Total Compensation), Fiscal Year 2021, Fi-Gl

During the coming days, McHenry County Blog will publish total compensation estimates for County employees.

The figures include salary and fringe benefits including health insurance, uniform allowance, pension, etc.

Fitzgerald,Breanna, Correctional Officer – Union, $113,003.56
Fitzgerald,Kevin J, Maintenance Tech II, $73,232.00
Fitzgerald,Ryan T, Corrections SGT, $101,118.00
Flannery,Michael E, Deputy – Union, $120,400.76
Fleming,Nina S, Registered Nurse, $80,119.62
Flora,Manvinder K, Registry – RN, $18,720.00
Flores,Ariana G, Registered Nurse, $80,120.40
Flores,Erick, Radio Dispchr – Union, $72,902.96
Flores,Rocio, Food Service Assistant, $47,995.52
Floress,Diana L, Mapping Technician I, $54,349.48
Floress,Michael I., Court Security Ofcr – Union, $78,374.84
Flowers,Egbert W, Correctional Officer – Union, $111,883.60
Foat,Sally A, Recorder Spec III, $50,939.22
Foley,Amanda J, GIS Mapping Specialist, $188,115.18
Follmann,Anthony J, Information Technology Spec, $51,430.34
Ford,Kevin W., Correctional Officer – Union, $113,003.56
Fragante,Johnson, C Registry – LPN, $13,572.00
Frank,Virginia M, Workforce Adult, $7,540.00
Freese,Randi L, Chief, Criminal Division, $127,103.76
Freschi,Joshua D, Deputy – Union, $99,591.64
Frisk,Karin E, Compliance Coordinator, $39,526.50
Frohling,Bonnie, Clerk II – Unio,n $58,133.06
Furman,Agnieszka, LPN, $80,120.40
Furst,Justin L ,GUI Designer, $70,089.50
Gallagher,Kelly M, Victim Witness Coordinator, $49,661.30
Gallegos,Julia, Clerk II, $44,920.86
Galuski,Zachery M Probation Officer $52,674.30
Gara,Rita M, First Assistant, $111,641.66
Garafol,Jennifer A,. Deputy – Union, $120,400.76
Garcia,Jenny C., Radio Dispchr – Union, $69,389.60
Garcia,Leticia, Interpreter, $59,904.10
Garcia,Mackenzie B, Court/Courtroom Spec I, $57,622.14
Garcia,Sandra, Administrative Specialist I, $34,971.96
Garcia,Vidal, Deputy – Union, $79,977.76
Gardner,Steve,n Building Inspector, $55,787.66
Gartner,Vicki E,. ZBA Mbr, $5,720.00
Garza,Hector M, Deputy – Union, $120,400.76
Garza,Jill A, Administrative Coordinator, $68,571.96
Gattuso,Nicole L. Director of GIS $136,760.94
Gearhart Jr,Robert A, Correctional Officer – Union, $54,775.60
GearhartSchinske,Catherine A, Court/Courtroom Spec I, $57,622.14
Geissler,Lauren N, VH Admin Spec I, $12,005.76
Gerc,Bryan G, Correctional Officer – Union, $67,878.88
Gibbs,Robin R, Administrative Specialist III, $63,248.46
Gibson Jr.,Donald, Correctional Officer – Union, $101,055.76
Gieseke,Jill M, Lead Court/Courtroom Spec, $54,095.58
Gilmore,Karsen, Activity Assistant, $10,447.08
Gipson,Jennifer A, Administrative Specialist I, $14,249.34
Glenn,Kaitlyn C, Assistant Public Defender, $71,148.22
Glorch,Jean G, Administration Section Manager, $68,626.00
Glover,Jade M, Certified Nursing Asst I, $29,11.75

Reick Reports Extensively on Spring Session

From State Rep. Steve Reick:

Spring Session Wrap Up

It’s hard to believe that at the beginning of the year, lawmakers met in Springfield’s BOS Center to adequately maintain “social distance” due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Steve Reick on Springfield Convention Center floor

Needless to say, it was great to be back in the Capitol building in April and May. A lot has happened that I want to share with you. 

FY22 Budget 

Democrats literally waited until the 11th hour to pass the Fiscal Year 2022 budget that begins July 1. Just minutes before midnight on the May 31 deadline, House Democrats passed a partisan $42.3 billion budget that adds a billion dollars in pork projects (exclusively for Democrat districts), includes a nearly $1,200 pay raise for legislators, and raises taxes on Illinois businesses by more than $650 million. 

Displaying their disdain for Illinois taxpayers and the legislative process, the Democratic supermajority rammed their budget through in less than 24 hours. House Democrats filed their first budget amendment after 12:30 AM on Monday, May 31 (Memorial Day). Their final budget amendment was filed less than an hour before the midnight deadline for passage. Democrats moved to suspend the House Rule 21 notice requirement so they could vote on the final budget prior to the deadline. Legislators and the public were given no time to review the 3,088 page budget before its passage. This is exactly why I introduced the 72-Hour Budget Review Act months ago…to avoid situations like this. Unsurprisingly, the Democrats in control did not allow my bill to even be heard in committee.

The Democrats’ tax-and-spend budget was drafted behind closed doors, at the last minute, without any openness, transparency or accountability to taxpayers. In an affront to the legislative process, Democrats ended debate on their massive spending bill in less than 15 minutes. Republicans were only permitted one speaker to ask questions about the bill. The FY22 Budget and capital plan were contained in SB 2800, which did not receive support from a single Republican in the House or the Senate. 

We didn’t see any honest attempt at addressing key issues with a huge impact on the budget such as meaningful pension reform. Public pensions eat up roughly a quarter of the state’s budget, yet elected officials continue to refuse to rein in this ballooning cost. The longer we wait to enact real pension reform, the greater the risk to the essential government services that people depend upon. Similarly, for years, we have heard constituents tell us that property taxes in this state are too high, and for years, the Democrat-controlled General Assembly has refused to provide relief.

Any budget that fails to address these priorities falls short of what the people of this state deserve. Decade after decade of unbalanced budgets and wasteful spending have landed Illinois in a dire financial situation. Unfortunately, this isn’t going to be the year that changes that. Democrats added hundreds of millions in new discretionary spending and intend to ask job creators to pay for it. 

Democrats are relying on four tax increases on Illinois businesses, totaling more than $650 million:

  • Reinstating the onerous and burdensome franchise tax on any business making more than $1,000;
  • Capping the amount of losses a business can deduct;
  • Stifling immediate investment in the economy by backloading when business can depreciate purchased assets; and 
  • Raising taxes on foreign income brought back to the U.S. from overseas.

Meanwhile, the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund is running on fumes, with a $5 billion deficit–despite the fact that American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds can be directly deposited into the UI Trust Fund. Many other states did just that. But Illinois Democrats were more interested in funding their pork projects with the magic federal money, instead of using ARPA funds responsibly. Democrats added $1 billion in pork projects for their districts, paid for by federal ARPA funds meant to help states struggling with the negative fiscal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One bright spot of this year’s budget is the preservation of the state’s Invest in Kids tax credit scholarship program. Gov. Pritzker proposed to cut the program by $14 million, reducing the tax credit donors receive from 75 cents on the dollar to 40 cents. Fortunately, we were able to preserve the program as is in the FY22 budget. The tax credit was set to expire in 2022, but the budget extends its sunset for one year and expands scholarship eligibility to include career and technical education! I support this program because it has provided more than 20,000 scholarships to low-income students since its inception in 2017. Our task now is to remove the sunset from the program and make it permanent. 

Another bit of good news is that we succeeded in pressuring the Governor to fund public education by appropriating $350 million for the state’s K-12 Evidence Based Funding formula, which he had left out of the budget he proposed in February.

2nd Amendment

Competing proposals in the House and Senate that would have made sweeping changes to Illinois’ gun laws were held up, meaning there will be no changes to existing requirements for Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) cards or Concealed Carry Licenses (CCL). 

You can watch my remarks on the House floor discussing the substance of these bills and the flawed process they were subjected to below. 

VIDEO: Rep. Reick defends 2nd Amendment rights, rejects proposed fingerprint requirement on FOID cards

I will never stop fighting to protect your 2nd Amendment rights!

Trailer Fees Reduced, Vehicle Trade-in Cap Eliminated

The House and Senate passed a bill that would lower small trailer license fees from $118 to $36. In 2019, the fee for licensing a small trailer in Illinois was raised from $18 to $118 as part of Gov. Pritzker’s Rebuild Illinois capital infrastructure plan. The compromise reached was to lower the annual fee to $36, along with removing a $10,000 cap on vehicle trade-ins. Under this bill, individuals can keep their same license plate and simply renew it. 

Labor

Gov. Pritzker is expected to sign a proposed constitutional amendment on workers’ rights that will set into motion a question being placed on the November 2022 ballot. If approved by voters in 2022, SJRCA 11 would codify in state statute that employees have the fundamental right to organize and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing for the purpose of negotiating wages, hours and working conditions, and to protect their economic welfare and safety at work. The proposed constitutional amendment would also ban right-to-work laws and ordinances at the state and local level from ever being considered. I think this is something for future local governments to decide; it should not be banned by the current General Assembly and/or sitting Governor. The right of an employee to join a union and participate in its organizing work is already protected under existing law so this exercise is unnecessary. All the major business groups opposed the bill and so did I

Health Care

Illinois’ proposed telehealth law applies to the medical procedures covered by workplace-based health care insurance and insurers, but not Medicaid. As approved by the General Assembly, HB 3308 gives health insurers the tools and legal standing to negotiate future contracts with medical care providers and employers. Under these future contracts, some of the contacts between a doctor or other health care providers on the one hand, and a patient on the other, can be done over a video screen. During the COVID-19 pandemic, some of these contacts were successfully completed by video conferencing throughout Illinois. Patients were happy to know that they were getting professional medical care and advice from home without putting themselves in possible harm’s way. If signed into law by Gov. Pritzker, this bill–approved unanimously by the General Assembly–will make this telehealth care pathway permanent in Illinois. 

Ethics Reform

It’s no secret that Illinois is in desperate need of comprehensive ethics reform to end the culture of corruption in our state. In just the past two years, several current and former state legislators have been indicted on federal corruption charges. Enter Senate Bill 539, an omnibus ethics reform bill. The legislation prohibits in-person fundraising on any day the legislature is in session, in addition to the day before and the day after legislative session (in-person or virtual, covering the entire state). Also included is a six-month revolving door prohibition for legislators and executive branch officers and a prohibition on legislators from lobbying for compensation on behalf of a lobbyist or lobbying entity that is registered to lobby the General Assembly or Executive Branch. SB 539 grants the Legislative Inspector General the authority to initiate an investigation without the approval of the Legislative Ethics Commission. 

SB 539 was approved by the Senate unanimously and passed the House nearly unanimously. I voted in favor of this legislation, but was disappointed because it barely scratches the surface of what needs to be accomplished. Debate on the bill revealed that the revolving door prohibition outlined in the legislation would allow current members of the legislature to become lobbyists for the General Assembly one day after their retirement. Many headlines bemoaned the “baby steps” bill as not going “anywhere near far enough”. Even the state’s Legislative Inspector General called the bill “a mixed bag”. 

It is a sad but true fact that an ethics bill being sent to the Governor can be considered a step forward, but this small step was as far as the Democratic majority could tolerate. While something is better than nothing, this development is by no means an indication that our work on improving the culture of corruption in Illinois is anywhere near finished. House Republicans have introduced more than three dozen ethics reforms in this General Assembly alone. And our proposed ethics reform platform actually has teeth. We are committed to continue sounding the alarm and keep pushing for more!

House Bill 642 provides a perfect example of how disingenuous the Democrats are about ethics reform. In April, the House overwhelmingly approved legislation that would impose term limits on legislative leaders so that no person may serve more than 10 consecutive years as Speaker of the House of Representatives, President of the Senate, Minority Leader of the House of Representatives or Minority Leader of the Senate. Lawmakers patted themselves on the back, blasted a press release out to media outlets and their constituents, only for the bill to die.

“Term Limits for Legislative Leaders, 1800-SHAKE-UP”reads the sign used on the day Cal Skinner announced his 2002 Libertarian Party campaign for Governor.

Shockingly, the Senate committee to which the bill was assigned never got around to taking it up. I’m sure House Democrats knew this would be the case, that they could politically benefit from voting for “change” in Springfield without that change ever actually coming home to roost. They were never serious about getting that done.

I wish I could say this was unexpected, or something I haven’t seen before, but it’s an all too familiar playbook. House Republicans began this spring legislative session with the promise of a “new day” from then-newly elected Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch. Sadly, the Speaker’s words ring hollow. 

Redistricting Update

As a candidate for Governor in 2018, J.B. Pritzker was asked the following question regarding redistricting:

“Will you pledge as governor to veto any state legislative redistricting map proposal that is in any way drafted or created by legislators, political party leaders and/or their staffs or allies?”

Then-candidate Pritzker’s verbatim response:

“Yes, I will pledge to veto. We should amend the constitution to create an independent commission to draw legislative maps, but in the meantime, I would urge Democrats and Republicans to agree to an independent commission to handle creating a new legislative map. That designated body should reflect the gender, racial, and geographic diversity of the state and look to preserve the Voting Rights Act decisions to ensure racial and language minorities are fully represented in the electoral process.”

Last Friday, Gov. Pritzker abandoned his promise to Illinois voters by signing into law partisan redistricting maps drafted and passed by House and Senate Democrats. These maps were drawn by Democrats behind locked doors. They were crafted using incomplete and flawed data. To add insult to injury, the maps were then rammed through the legislature less than 24 hours after being released. The Democratic supermajority ignored repeated requests and testimony from nonpartisan reform groups that the legislature should wait until the U.S. Census data is released in August before drafting the legislative maps for the next decade. A flawed process resulted in a flawed product.

House and Senate Republicans and Illinoisans of all political stripes repeatedly urged the Governor to uphold his promise and reject these partisan maps. Instead, Gov. Pritzker chose to side with his Democratic allies over the will of the people of Illinois. The Governor and Speaker keep punting by calling out Republicans for never putting forward a proposed map of their own. They’re missing the point entirely. Republicans don’t think politicians should be in the business of handpicking their voters, which is why they have called for the map to be drawn by an independent coalition all along–a sentiment Gov. Pritzker once purportedly shared. Ultimately, he cares more about keeping power for his political friends than fair elections. Through bad data, fake transparency and a false sense of urgency, Democrats pulled the wool over voters’ eyes. They assume they can get away with it because this is Illinois. The next election must be a referendum on whether or not voters will tolerate the officials they elect to public office to lie to them. 

Fortunately, we were prepared for this disastrous turn of events. This week, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie filed a lawsuit in Federal court to challenge the legislative maps. The lawsuit is being filed against House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch (in his official capacity), Senate President Don Harmon (in his official capacity) and the Illinois State Board of Elections and its members (in their official capacities).

The lawsuit argues that the use of American Community Survey (ACS) estimates violates federal law, including well established “one-person, one-vote” principles under the U.S. Constitution. More than 50 good government and community advocacy organizations and leaders implored the General Assembly to wait for the release of official census counts, which are expected by August. The use of ACS estimates will undercount minority, rural and growing communities and will result in a population disparity between districts that exceeds what federal law allows. Even the U.S. Census Bureau has said that ACS estimates are not appropriate for drawing legislative boundaries. This is something I have argued from the very beginning. 

VIDEO: Rep. Reick remarks re: proper use for American Community Survey data

This is why I urged lawmakers to reject the gerrymandered maps.

VIDEO: Rep. Reick urges a NO vote on Partisan Redistricting Map

The lawsuit requests that the court declare the Democrats’ plan to be unconstitutional, invalid, and void. The lawsuit also requests that the court direct Speaker Welch and President Harmon to make their appointments to the Illinois Legislative Redistricting Commission as required by the Illinois Constitution. That commission has been used in every redistricting cycle but one since the constitution’s adoption in 1970. Leaders Durkin and McConchie will make their appointments soon and have pledged to work with those commissioners and the Democratic Leaders to adopt a transparent, bipartisan and independent process for drawing and approving a legislative map after the release of official census data in August. Stay tuned!

Election Law

Speaking of elections…Democrats also passed omnibus elections legislation that will move the 2022 General Primary to June 28 (from March 15). This change was necessary because the U.S. Census data will not be released until August, thereby delaying passage of the U.S. Congressional redistricting maps.

In addition to moving the 2022 Primary date, Democrats added “vote-by-jail” language that will allow jails outside of Cook County to set up polling places in their facilities. The bill allows election authorities to create permanent vote-by-mail lists that voters may opt into. The legislation makes Election Day (November 8, 2022) a state holiday for schools and universities and requires closed schools to be available for use as polling places. It requires high schools to permit voter registration on premises and provide application information to students. It requires every county to have at least one universal voting center for the 2022 Primary and General elections. The legislation extends the county deadline for redistricting to December 31, 2021 (from July 1) and allows counties to use reasonable data including the most recent ACS 5-year data (currently, counties are required to use census data).

Frank Mautino, now Auditor General, at the Reapportionment Committee Hearing in Marengo in 2011.

In a particularly egregious example of legalizing previously illegal activity, this bill allows political committees to use funds to make expenditures related to vehicles not owned or leased by the committee. This change was made after the current Auditor General’s former political committee spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on vehicle servicing and repairs during his decades in office as a state representative. 

COVID-19 Update

As of this writing, more than 11.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Illinois. 54% of Illinois adults are now fully vaccinated against coronavirus and nearly 63% of Illinois adults have received at least one dose.

Public health leaders continue to urge all eligible adults to get the free vaccination services provided by health care providers statewide. All persons age 12 and up are now eligible for vaccination.

Gov. Pritzker has announced officially that on Friday, June 11 (yesterday), Illinois will reopen fully (also known as Phase 5, the final phase of the Governor’s Restore Illinois plan). This means that capacity limits on businesses, large-scale events, conventions, amusement parks, and all other venues have been eliminated. Businesses and communities can learn more about Phase 5 recommended public health practices by visiting IDPH’s website

Schools

On May 19, the Illinois State Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution in support of an upcoming declaration from State Superintendent of Education Carmen Ayala making it a requirement that schools reopen their doors in the fall.

Back to Springfield

Several items were not addressed by lawmakers before the May 31 deadline. One of those items is a controversial energy bill. So on Tuesday, the Senate will return to the Capitol to vote on the 866-page omnibus package. This language was only filed on Thursday and there are two different versions of the bill, so I am still reviewing the proposals. The House will return the following day to presumably take up that bill, among others, as indicated by Speaker Welch. One is House Bill 2908, which sets up a fully elected 21-member school board in Chicago by 2027. This bill already passed the Senate so all that stands between it and Gov. Pritzker’s desk is House approval. 

Steve Reick at his desk.

Since the first of the year, I have received 4,292 emails expressing opinions on legislation! My district office has fielded 469 phone calls in support or opposition of legislation being considered by lawmakers. I received 105 calls just to say hi and let me know that you saw me in the news. My extraordinary legislative assistant, Carrie, has worked tirelessly on 140 constituent cases to make sure residents of the 63rd district get the help they need. I am honored to serve you. Please continue to send me your ideas and feedback about things you like and/or things you don’t. Your input is always appreciated and helps inform how I represent you in Springfield. Thank you for engaging in the democratic process!

Save the Date!

The McHenry County Fair will be held August 3-8. I hope to see you there!

On Saturday, August 21 I will be hosting a FREE Shred Event. This is an environmentally-friendly way to protect you and your loved ones from financial fraud and identity theft. Be on the lookout for more to come!

Legislative Supporters of ComEd Bailout-Energy Bill Will Be Raising Taxes and Electric Rates

Take a look at one of our recent Commonwealth Edison electric bills.

Taxes that will go up if the bailout legislation are shown in reverse print on this ComEd bill.

For sales tax and municipal tax, the rate is multiplied by the total amount of the bill.

So, if the electric bills goes up, as it will under the ComEd bailout bill, taxes will increase as well.

State Reps, and Senators who vote for the bill, the content of which has not been made public, will be increasing everyone’s taxes.

Ness Schedules Internet Town Hall Meeting Tuesday, June 15th

From State Rep. Suzanne Ness:

Ness to Host Virtual Town Hall Event, Provide Legislative Updates

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Suzanne Ness, D-Crystal Lake, is hosting a town hall event on Tuesday, June 15 at 6:30 p.m. via Facebook Live and encouraging members of the community to attend.

“I believe in the importance of providing members of the district with updates on the work that I have been doing in Springfield on their behalf,” said Ness.

“My colleagues and I have been hard at work on important items such as passing a balanced budget, ethics reform, providing critical COVID-19 relief, increasing access to affordable healthcare, finding measures to improve safety in our communities, improving quality of care to vulnerable populations, and so much more. I encourage all residents to attend to learn more and share your feedback.”

This will be the second town hall meeting that Ness is hosting this year and will provide an overview of the legislative session and the impact to District 66, as well as providing information on the budget, COVID-19 relief, education, economic development, taxes and health care. Time will also be made for questions and concerns from attendees.

This virtual event is free and open to the public. To RSVP, individuals can send an email to info@RepSNessIL66.com with “June Town Hall” indicated in the subject line or call her constituent services office at (224)-484-8620. The town hall event can be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/repsnessil66.

“This meeting will help ensure that constituents are getting the information they need on new bills that passed this year,” said Ness. “Having face-to-face conversations and answering questions will help members of our community have a better understanding of new legislation and stay informed about issues that matter to them.  I’m looking forward to talking directly with members from the 66th District.”

Woodstock Pride Parade

First, because this is a political blog, take a look at what a Libertarian Party Friend of McHenry County Blog sent:

Libertarian Party contingent in the shade, but visible.
The beginning of the parade.
Members of the Woodstock High School Theatre Troop weer masked.
A balloon-festooned long, old car.
Turning Point banner.
Moms of McHenry County banner.
Bethany Lutheran Church of Crystal Lake.
McHenry CDB Shop.
A trailer of blown up balls.
McHenry County NOW banner.

A pickup truck with passengers.
Congresswoman Lauren Underwood was in the Woodstock Gay Pride Parade.
Woodstock Willie was presented as the Honorary Parade Marshal.
McHenry Township Clerk Danielle Aylward was the Grand Marshal.
The Libertarian Party banner comes into view.
Libertarian Party banner with people visible.

Woodstock Paints Steps to the Square in Honor Gay Pride Week

The photos below were taken by a Friend of McHenry County Blog.

They are from yesterday afternoon.

The city dedicated the steps that enter the square from Jefferson Street.

They have been painted with the colors of the gay flag, in honor of gay pride week.

The new mayor, Michael Turner, was scheduled to do the ribbon-cutting, but was a no-show.

CityCouncil member Darin Flynn was there, as was City Manager Rosco Selford was there, as well as Terry Willcockson and some others. (Porovide name in the comment section and I’ll add them.)

Cutting the ribbon of the Gay flagged-colored stairs to the Woodstock Square
Posing for a picture at the bottom of the steps to the Woodstock Square.
Dressed as Michael Jackson and, maybe, Raggedy Ann, people stand on the stairs.

State Representative Dan Brady Running for Secretary of State

Dan Brady

Brady allegedly calling House Republican colleagues seeking their support this weekend

State Representative Dan Brady (R, Bloomington), according to WCIA TV’s Mark Maxwell, has decided to seek the Republican nomination for secretary of state in next year’s election, which is open with incumbent Democrat Jesse White’s retirement next year at the age of 88.

White is in his 6th and final term since first being elected in 1998.

With Brady’s decision to seek statewide office, he will vacate his 105th representative district seat in the Bloomington-Normal area at the end of his current term.

It is unclear at this point which gubernatorial candidate (or potential candidate) Brady will be aligned with for the June 28, 2022 Republican primary.

Developing story…

Huntley Police Reports on Memorial Day Weekend Enhanced Enforcement

From the Huntley Police Department:

The Huntley Police Department announces ‘Click It or Ticket’ campaign numbers

Huntley, IL – The Huntley Police Department today announced it issued 11 citations during the recent Memorial Day “Click It or Ticket” enforcement period. Below is a breakdown of citations issued.

  • Seat belt violations 4
  • Speeding violations 4
  • Operating a vehicle while using an electronic communication
    device
  • Improper passing of emergency vehicle 1
  • Disobeying a traffic control device 1

While Illinois’ 2020 seat belt compliance rate was 94.6%, unbelted occupants still account for over half of those killed in traffic crashes.

The “Click It or Ticket” campaign aims to change the behavior of the millions of people who don’t buckle up. Thousands of lives could be saved each year if every vehicle occupant was properly restrained when traveling.

The Illinois “Click It or Ticket” campaign is administered by the Illinois Department of Transportation with federal highway safety funds.

Democrat Joe Manchin Vows to Keep Hyde Amendment in FY 2022 Spending Bills

Joe Manchin

“I’m going to support Hyde in every way possible.” — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D, WV) 6/10/21

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D, WV) for the 2nd time within a week, dashed the Democratic Party’s hopes for their Leftist agenda in spite of holding both the White House and majorities in both houses of Congress.

Last Sunday, Manchin vowed he would not support the “For the People Act”, or H.R. 1 / S. 1, the radical Federal takeover of elections currently administered by state and local governments and would include public financing of Federal political campaigns.

On Thursday, Manchin made clear he will not allow abortion-on-demand to be funded by Federal tax dollars by President Biden’s draft Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget, which excluded the Hyde Amendment prohibiting Federal funds to pay for abortions outside of cases of rape, incest or threat to the mother’s life.

Manchin, a member of the evenly divided Senate Appropriations Committee and a member of the Health and Human Services subcommittee, could single-handedly save the Hyde Amendment with appropriate follow-through.

The full story including Biden’s 2019 flip-flop on the Hyde Amendment, originally published by The Daily Caller News Foundation and republished with permission through LifeNews can be viewed here.