“Historic” Legislative Session

Why did some Republicans vote for the gas tax in the capital bill? Were there any highlights for taxpayers this session? Democrats voted for the graduated income tax, abortion on demand, and higher spending, but did Republicans muddy the waters after voting for the budget and gas tax increases? House Republican Floor Leader, State Rep. Mark Batinick joins Dan and Amy to discuss.

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More Taxes And A Legislative Salary Bump

How were lawmakers able to raise taxes on ordinary Illinoisans and give themselves a salary bump? How are the neighborhoods on the west side of Chicago going to benefit from the legalization of marijuana and the capital bill that doubled the gas tax? Why would legislators remove health and safety standards at abortion clinics on the premise of protecting women? State Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago) joins Dan and Amy to discuss the end of the legislative session in Springfield.

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IL Becomes Abortion Capital Of The Nation

What is “pro woman” about sex selective abortions and removing requirements to investigate the deaths of women who died during an abortion? Does the “Reproductive Health Act” passed repealing the partial birth abortion ban make Illinois the most pro-abortion state in the nation? What else do they have planned in Springfield for the rest of session? Chicago Tribune editorial board member, Kristen McQueary joins Dan and Amy to discuss.

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Bipartisan Combine In Springfield To Silence Accusers Of Sexual Harassment

How is it that only one woman has come forward to name an Illinois politician as a sexual harasser even though 300+ signed a letter? Is the General Assembly following in the ranks of Congress and making victims jump through hoops to end up frustrated with the process and retract their complaints? Are the legislators on both sides looking for this to quiet down so they can all save their seats? Denise Rotheimer, victim rights advocate and accuser of State Sen. Ira Silverstein of sexual harassment, joins Dan and Amy to discuss if the Inspector General will ever investigate her complaint.

View full transcript

Proft: Dan and Amy, and that story that Mike Scott was reporting about, that Veterans' Home in Quincy...good reporting, WBEZ Dave McKinney and Tony Arnold on that. Since July of 2015, 13 residents of that home in Quincy have died from Legionnaires Disease. Jacobson: Oh my gosh... Proft: 11 families now suing the state for negligence. This...I mean...Legionnaires...this is a matter of...of like, cleanliness in that facility. Jacobson: Cleanliness, yeah. They don't have a fountain in that facility, either. Proft: So, we've spent a lot of time and rightly so talking about VA hospitals and their failure to provide the service and medical care that our veterans are guaranteed and have earned, and we seem to have the same thing going on in the state. Rauner...Governor Rauner...where is he? Jeanne Ives saying that if Rauner can't manage a 200 acre facility with 250 clients, then he really isn't in charge, as he has previously said. This is big, it's a big issue. The state fai...at the state level, failing our military men and women. There's also another seeming failure going on, and have you noticed since the allegations started, allegations of sexual misconduct against high-profile individuals in media and entertainment and politics, since they started...we were expecting that the floodgates would open in Illinois too. Jacobson: Yeah! Because there were so many rumblings of people who wanted to tell their stories, but we've really only had one person publicly come forward. Proft: Well right, we had...you had 300 women sign a letter, and we've had one woman so far in testimony for a hearing for a specific piece of legislation, make an accusation about a specific politician, state senator Ira Silverstein. Denise Rotheimer accusing Silverstein of pursuing her while she was just trying to pursue legislation on behalf of her daughter, who is the victim of a sexual crime. And the result of that was a couple of things. One, without admitting any guilt, Silverstein was removed from Senate Democrat leadership, and from his committee chairmanship. He's still in the Senate. And then two, we find out that Denise Rotheimer's complaint that she filed to the Legislative Inspector General's office last November hadn't been acted upon, because there is no... Jacobson: Because there is NO Legislative Inspector General! Proft: There wasn't until two weeks ago! So, and then we find out from another legislator that there's more than two dozen complaints of one nature or another, some ostensensibly including allegations of sexual misconduct by members of the General Assembly, that have also just lain there, collecting dust. And so, what's happened since these revelations? No one else has come forward, they hurry through legislation, mandatory sexual harassment training for all the legislators, but we don't have any action on the release of those complaints, even with the accusers' names redacted, and we don't have any action on...are we waiving any time restrictions, because of the General Assembly's failure to have a Legislative Inspector General? Which was...and was that purposeful? So they could have this kind of non-partisan combine, hat tip John Kass, non-aggression pact? "If you allow us to protect our bad actors, we'll allow you to protect your bad actors."? Is that what's going on? What's going on? There's a task force, a House task force, that has had hearings...so where are we? For more on this topic, we're going to talk to the one woman who HAS come forward, who made those accusations against state senator Ira Silverstein. She is Denise Rotheimer, Denise thanks for joining us again, appreciate it. Rotheimer: Thank you. Thanks for having me again. Proft: So, there's been a couple of sexual harassment task force hearings, have you participated in those hearings? Rotheimer: I believe those are closed to the public. I've watched them online...I listen to the hearings. Proft: Well, why didn't you go before the task force to tell your story? Rotheimer: They won't allow me, because I'm an active case. And so being an active case, I can't even speak with the members of the Ethics Commission, which I understand. So as an alternative, to be heard, I've been trying to reach out to Leader Durkin, and express the concerns I have while going through this process, because what I've learned since testifying at that hearing for prohibiting sexual harassment is that I have no right. And it's very scary to be put in a situation I was once in back in 2003 when my daughter was raped, and I don't want to go through that kind of trauma, being railroaded again. So I'm just not... Proft: Well okay, well...so, on the legislative Ethics Commission, so let me know, the Legislative Ethics Commission...are they charged with making recommendations to the Legislative Inspector General for pursuing investigations? Rotheimer: How the process works is THEY get the complaint, then they give the authority to the Legislative Inspector General to investigate. So the Legislative Inspector General has to get approval from the Legislative Ethics Commission to investigate, which NO other agency has to do. Legislative Inspector Generals of the other state agencies like Treasurer's Office, Comptroller, Governor, they can just investigate a complaint they receive. My complaint was actually referred by the Executive General's Office of the Governor to Senate President Cullerton. It didn't even get to the Legislature, it was first handed to him. And then he said, after my testimony and all that, that they referred it to the Legislative Inspector General, knowing that there was no one there. Proft: This is like the game that Congress is playing! Jacobson: Yeah, but this seems worse, it seems a little more unorganized. So, how many times have you had to testify, or tell your story to people? Rotheimer: Well back in November of 2016, I went directly to Cullerton's office, and when I was being ignored on the status of my complaint, I went to my state senator. She then stopped returning my call or giving me any follow-up. So really, I was just silenced way back then, until I testified for Senate Bill 402 on Halloween in support of that bill, and I briefly touched on my experience to support that bill, and then after that they got the inspector general. I met with her for two and a half hours, I wasn't comfortable in the situation because I'm already not trusting anyone, for obvious reasons. So she just kind of confirmed for me that I need to have my own voice. So I'm just trying to figure out how I can be heard by the Legislative Ethics Commission, who actually determines the outcome of the case. Proft: Well, how they do that without hearing from the accuser? Rotheimer: Well, that's the thing! I've read the operation rules, it's about 13 pages long, not one word is mentioned in there about the complainant, or the accuser. So, there was never an intent to give a voice to the person actually making the complaint. Proft: Well, that's remarkable...it's...it's ABSURD, because not only should you hear from the accuser, and be able to query the accuser, but also in your case, it's not like you're asking for any special treatment! "I don't want my name disclosed, I don't want anybody in the room, I want this to be closed to the public", "I'm Denise Rotheimer, I've got this complaint. I've been trying to pursue this complaint FOR A YEAR, through all these avenues. I've been given the run-around. I just want to testify to what I...what happened to me, before this commission, and I'm there to answer questions", and they're uninterested! I mean...what is that? Rotheimer: Well, they don't even want to hear it, is the point, just like they didn't want to do anything about the complaint I filed last year. All Spring Session, even up to Senate Bill 402 was authored and filed by Senate President Cullerton, there was no intention of ever filling the vacancy, KNOWING there was a live, active complaint! They didn't even want to go there! It was only because I spoke out that they had no choice. So, I'm not under the impression that they care or take my complaint seriously, at all. Because if they did, they would have filled the vacancy before they filed Senate Bill 402. Jacobson: Well, what do you think should happen to state senator Ira Silverstein? Or what do you think he should do? Rotheimer: I think we should BOTH have the right to due process. He is afforded already the right to due process, he has rights, he gets representation, he even has relief. So if there's an appeal, he's fined for any reason, he can appeal that. I get absolutely NOTHING. So what I would like to see happen is a fair playing field. Let me have an opportunity to be heard. It's very important that I'm heard, and it's also important to be cross-examined, you know, to have them ask any questions, because you're not going to know the hostile environment that I was in until you hear from me. Proft: I'll tell ya, this is just...it's...here's what I think is happening. Jacobson: It's a hot mess. Proft: Here's what I think is happening. I think this is fairly straightforward because these people down there are not all that smart. "Sexual harassment training, we'll mandate that, we'll rush through some legislation, then we'll get...since we've been called out on not having a Legislative Inspector General, we'll put somebody in that post. Keep the complaints that have been sitting there untended to for a year, just keep those behind closed doors, push those off. Let's keep those until at least March...", and then they'll say "at least get past November." This is just about protecting everybody's hindquarters for elections..."and you don't go after names that have been rumored about, and we won't go after names on your side that have been rumored about. And we'll just kind of protect everybody, close ranks. If Denise calls, don't answer her." Her Democratic state senator won't answer, the House Republican leader won't answer...this is the bi-partisan combine, self-survival so the floodgates DO NOT open, and that all of the bad actors down there...and it's NOT just Ira Silverstein I can GUARANTEE you that! So all of them are protected and they find a way maybe at some point to quietly move on without being held to account. That's what I think is happening. Rotheimer: If they really wanted people to speak out and come forward and go through this process, they would afford them with some basic rights: a right to notification, a right to information, a right to some level of participation, even a right to representation. We have absolutely, as complaints, ZERO. So you're...my first conversation with a reporter, I asked her, "What rights do I have?" She said "None that I can think of." I called Lida Jerkins (?) office, I said "Can you explain to me why I'm going through a process that does not afford me any rights?" And he said "I understand what you're saying, I don't have an answer to your question." He referred me to the operational rules. Proft: Yeah, this is...this is like what's happening in Congress. You have to go through all these hoops, because they want to frustrate you, they want to tire you out. The only thing we don't have, or we don't know we have yet maybe, are these secret, clandestine, taxpayer-funded sexual harassment settlements. We'll see if those are ultimately a part of this story like they are in Illinois like they are nationally as well. Denise, thanks so much again for joining us, and for your continued willingness to speak, to publicly speak out and try to break this thing loose. Because there's another two dozen complaints that we should see. Absolutely. Denise, Denise Rotheimer, Victim Rights Advocate, we appreciate your time and we'll continue on this story. Thanks for joining us. Rotheimer: Thank you, thank you and have a good day. Jacobson: And she joined us on our Turnkey Dot Pro Answer Line.

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Springfield's Toxic Culture

 Illinois’ political culture is toxic. Those in power have protected themselves from policy challenges, electoral challenges and now, sexual harassment complaints. Lawmakers are protected without questions, as long as they vote the right way. This “insiders-first” policy has bred an expectation of silence for victims and witnesses alike, particularly for those who wish to get ahead. Pat Hughes explains on this week's edition of Two Minute Warning


Change Is Coming

Governor Rauner has replaced key leaders in his administration with executives who understand state policy, Springfield’s political environment, and – importantly – the “Turnaround” vision. It was this vision that originally convinced Illinois voters to give Bruce Rauner, a political outsider, a chance. Pat Hughes explains why the political ruling class should be worried in this week's Two Minute Warning.


All These "Fiscal Conservatives" Are Killing Us

With all these "fiscal conservatives" in Springfield, why is Illinois broke? Will there be accountability for the 16 Republican legislators who voted for the 32% tax hike? Shouldn't the Illinois GOP be doing less to sabotage the state? Dan and Kristen McQueary, a member of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board, asked Illinois State Rep. Reggie Phillips, one the 16 surrender Republicans who voted for the tax hike.


You'll Look Like Chumps

The Chicago Tribune wrote that the 15 Republicans who voted for Madigan's tax hike will look like chumps. Does the 32% tax hike change Illinois' fiscal trajectory? Does Governor Rauner want his veto overridden? Does Speaker Madigan want to override the veto? Is Madigan the master of blackmail politics? Illinois State Representative for the 97th district Mark Batinick joined Dan and John Kass to argue for a principled path forward that protects Illinois families.


Democrats' Fake Reform

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There Would Be No Reason To Hire A Man

Dan & Amy are joined by Dr. Amy Farmer Derick, owner of Derick Dermatology, to discuss the Illinois General Assembly's most recent mandate on employers. Legislators passed a bill aiming to curb wage discrimination against women by barring employers from asking for wage history. Dr. Derick explains why this is bad for her business and the 150 women she employs. And with mandates like this, is it any wonder Illinois lost 9,000 jobs in March?


What To Make Of Rahm's Emails

On this edition of Illinois Rising, Joe Kaiser & Eric Kohn, both of Illinois Policy Institute, fill in for Dan Proft to discuss Rahm Emanuel's email scandal, what to expect from Springfield this year and more.

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Renegade Dem State Rep. Ken Dunkin Wants Off Madigan's "Plantation"

State Rep. Ken Dunkin, an African-American Democrat whose district goes from "the Gold Coast to the Soul Coast" in Chicago, is bucking House Speaker Mike Madigan and calling on his fellow House Democrats to exercise independent thought to foster a deal on the state budget. Dunkin discussed with Dan & Amy the press conference he had after Gov. Rauner's State of the State Address where he brought a backpack and a sleeping bag and suggested he was prepared to stay in Springfield and sleep outside of Madigan's office until the Speaker stopped his "shenanigans" and started negotiating with Gov. Rauner.

View full transcript

Dan: Dan and Amy show. Yesterday after Governor Rauner's State of the State Address, there was a lot of reaction from legislators including Madigan. But there was also a press conference yesterday afternoon by someone I describe as a renegade. Amy: He's [inaudible]. Dan: Democrat Illinois State Rep. His name is Ken Dunkin, from Chicago. Amy: You know, we spoke about him yesterday. Charles Thomas was on the air and you said that he was going to have a big press conference at 3 o'clock. Dan: And he did. And he showed up like he was preparing to climb Mt. Everest. Amy: I thought I'd seen 'Out of the Wild.' The movie? Dan: Yes. Right. 'Into the Wild.' A sleeping bag, backpack. . . Amy: Canned goods. Dan: Yeah. He's ready to camp out in Springfield until a budget's done saying, and I'm quoting from Natasha Korecki: "'We should not be held hostage to Michael Madigan's political shenanigans,' said Rep. Ken Dunkin" He also said this according to Scott Forek, it's over at the Sun-Times: "Waiting for Mike Madigan is plantation mentality." Amy: Oohh. Dan: I like them. Those are fighting words. All right, let's talk to the source. He is State Representative Ken Dunkin, from Illinois 5th District. Rep. Dunkin, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it. Rep. Ken Dunkin: Good morning, good morning. Thank you for having me. Dan: And so I don't understand where do you get off thinking that as a Democrat State Legislator, you're allowed to think independently from Mike Madigan. Rep. Ken Dunkin: You're right. What's a concept? And that's the part of the problem with us. The 71 of us here in the House of the Representatives. And there's no moving unless Mike Madigan greenlights it. There's no legislation that's moving, no negotiation, there's no plan unless one person tells us what the next steps are. So I just think he's a major part of the problem that we're having with the state in terms about pension debt, in terms of some of this [inaudible] economy. We should be [inaudible] in every state around us in terms of job growth. [inaudible] should be well-funded even if for 45 years. And here it is, we're in the 7th month with no budget merely because he doesn't want to talk to the governor. The senate president, [probably to the?] governor. If you're fighting in your house and someone leaves the toilet seat up or the cap off the toothpaste and you argue about it, but you resolve it. His say is and I've been here for almost 13 ? years. I'm telling you what I see, what I understand I've been on the plantation for quite some time. [And I sit?] there. It's just now I'm scratching my head and saying, "What the?" Amy: Okay. Rep. Ken Dunkin: You know what? Listen. Amy: So, I understand your passion and I hear it in your voice. So you're willing to sleep out in Madigan's office, and you slept there last night, too I mean, but this could go on for months. I mean, it's been 14 years, really, since we've had a complete [bounced/balanced?] budget. Rep. Ken Dunkin: You are absolutely correct. I'm willing to do whatever it takes. Now, me sleeping out in front of his office or inside his office does no one any good across the state unless other members are there. You know, are here with us, [the Springfield?]. The fact is we met for the first time in 28 days this year. Last year, after the regular session, special sessions, which were a joke, or a political [pardons?] [inaudible], we met maybe about 15, 16 times. Got nothing done. The speaker wants to go and maintain this teardown concept with the governor who multimillionaires tearing each other down, saying, "My way or the high way?" Dan: Well, let me ask you this, Rep. Dunkin. Mike Madigan was asked whether or not you should remain in the Democrat caucus in the house, and his response was: "That's a good question." Let me be the first to put down the Welcome carpet for you to come on over to the Republican side. We could use a few more legislators in Springfield. So what about that Madigan contemplating ex-communicating you? How do you respond? Rep. Ken Dunkin: See, that's a part of the problem. I'm a registered Democrat who happens to be able to seek independently of anyone [inaudible] of their political stride. And yes, I'm still 10 plus years into this. I've seen it all, I've seen enough. People will cross the state in my district, around the [inaudible] area, the [inaudible] bars, as well as the South Shore [inaudible] Community. From the Gold Coast to the [inaudible] Coast, they want to see solution. [inaudible] entertain anything else but that. Dan: Well, right. And so with super majorities and the general assembly of Democrats and with, as you say, Madigan being the speaker since the state was incorporated in the early 1,800s, and John Cullerton being there almost as long. I mean at some point, particularly your colleagues in the black caucus, and minority voters African-American, Latino voters in the city of Chicago. And the award, as you say, is from the Gold Coast and the Soul Coast I mean, the district from the Gold Coast to the [inaudible] Coast I mean the district from the Gold Coast to the [inaudible] Coast is you say that you represent. Is it time for them to consider stopping support for not only Madigan, but maybe for some of their own representatives who aren't willing to do what you're doing but just stand up to them? Rep. Ken Dunkin: You know, that [ultimate?] is going to be the deciding choice of the voter. Here's why members are [inaudible] and asleep: because the democratic part of Illinois, they [seem so comfortable?] for you, they [cuddle?] you in such a way that you don't have to think, you don't have to do anything because we would take care of your election [effort?], would've staved off any [challenges?]. When you're not forced to fight, you're trying to [inaudible] and you tend to neglect the citizens who's sitting you down there and negate them with various issues that you're saying that you're going to fight for. So with Mike Madigan being here for 45 years, he's creating a system that really speaks to a power that is [unpresent?] probably across the county. I mean, look at the red light [camera?]. [inaudible] with that situation and see who the players were in that. That speaks [inaudible]. Amy: Are you in the speaker's office right now? Dan: Yeah. Rep. Ken Dunkin: I'm next door. Amy: Okay. Look. But you spent the night there last night. How was it? Rep. Ken Dunkin: Well, we're in session right now, literally, as we speak. Dan: M-hmm? Rep. Ken Dunkin: And so tonight's going to be the night. I'm going to ask my members to spend the night on the house floor. Amy: Oh, like a sleepover. Okay. Dan: Oh, wow. All right, we'll send some canned goods. All right. That Rep. Ken Dunkin: No, we need something that's a little pressured than a can. Dan: How about S'mores? Rep. Ken Dunkin: When you send canned goods, send a can opener. Dan: Okay. Yeah, of course. Yes, right, yeah. Well, obviously, members of the General Assembly can't fund for themselves. They can't survive in the wild, we know that. You've got your housecats. I get it. You've got to be fed. Rep. Ken Dunkin: Right. Yeah. Dan: So Rep. Dunkin, now, one of the issues, and this has been pointed out by Democrats, is you're facing a primary challenge and you're getting independent expenditure support from Super PAC run by a Democrat, but somebody that's received funding from [inaudible] or allies. So are you just pretending to be an independent thinker because you've got a primary and you're being supported by allies of Rauner's or how do you respond to that charge? Rep. Ken Dunkin: I have the choice to do whatever Madigan wanted to have me do back in September, back in October, and November. I chose to put people before politics. Remember, all I had to do was to vote like Madigan wanted me to vote. Do what he told me to do. I picked the choice of [inaudible]. "Governor, release this money. This $2B for our disabled community, for our childcare assistance program, and our senior tour, homebound, and who are living in nursing homes." I chose those three categories over at the party. When a governor kept his word and released that, over $2BñI said, "I'm sitting with the people." And for some reason, that was so offensive to the Democratic Party and Mike Madigan. That, I guess [inaudible] preoccupied. Let me say this Amy: Well, you kicked the hornet's nest. Dan: Well, and he destroyed the narrative of Mike Madigan. Rep. Ken Dunkin: Exactly. No, he's overrated in a lot of categories. If members realize that it's okay to think, to fight, and to come up with new ideas and by the way, most of us [take?] money from any and everybody. We don't care if it's tobacco, liquor money, if it is from grandmother, or the guy on the street corner. We're having a fundraiser and we want support. I get that it shouldn't be a bad word compared to Mike Madigan's [inaudible]. Or [inaudible] or anyone else. [inaudible] we're on the same [inaudible] situation down here. Mike Madigan hosted a fundraiser for Dennis Hastert. Excuse me, for John Boehner. A few years ago. Dan: Yeah. And actually, he tried to get $500,000 in state funds to build a statue to Dennis Hastert. So that might Rep. Ken Dunkin: Isn't that something? Dan: Yeah. Rep. Ken Dunkin: So again, the [Parson politics?], it is really for the amateurs. The real deal for the elected officials I don't care what your [inaudible] is. Do right about the people in this state. If you know what's falling off [a pistol cliff?], let's come up with solutions together. Dan: Well Rep. Ken Dunkin: If you know when you can improve our public education across the state, do the right thing. Dan: Speaking Rep. Ken Dunkin: That's all about that. Dan: Speaking of public education particularly in Chicago, if I'm recalling correctly, you were a yes-vote for James Meeks's school choice bill back a few years ago. And so I wonder how you react to what's going on at CPS. The prospect of bankruptcy, they tried to do a $875M bond issue, they had to postpone it because they're junk-rated and the bond market basically spit it back out. What should be done about CPS in addition or something on the order of what the governor has proposed or something else? Rep. Ken Dunkin: I believe that every governor, every new-and-coming governor should have the right should have a honeymoon period. To see what it is that the majority of the people who elected this person can do. So we can [give on?] some things such as school funding reform, pension reform we know we have to address that. I don't have a problem with it. And part of the challenge is we have been sitting still at the same [inaudible], at the same rate, waiting on our leader, our so-called leader, Mike Madigan, to do XYZ and to tell us all the great ideas with very little or limited input and with worth the same level. Imagine was it Chase and Citibank, Citigroup rejecting the ability to buy our bonds. [inaudible] deal because if the bonds fail, our [inaudible], we're on the hook for all of his [debt?]. That is [unprecedented]. Unheard of in our city, in our state's history. So that speaks to a structural change that has to occur. [inaudible] and have that because the unions control most of the actions down here. And the speaker conveniently uses them when he wants to attack opponents who will [start?] different ideas, different you pay apple, I pay banana. That's the [inaudible]. [inaudible] this is his money and he's the smartest man in the room all the time. Dan: He is State Representative Ken Dunkin, Democrat, for Illinois 5th District. Democrat for now but my offer to come over to the Republican Party stands. So you think about that. State Representative Ken Dunkin, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate your time. Rep. Ken Dunkin: Thank you so much. Good morning. Amy: He joined us on our [inaudible].

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