Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Byron Reactor Shuts Down Due to Ice - MyStateline.com - Powered by WTVO-TV and WQRF-TV

 

Byron Generating Station Unit 1 automatically shut down at 11am Tuesday after an 'ice intrusion' interrupted power on one of the unit’s transformers.  A plant spokesperson said the unit is designed to shut down in such situations, and the equipment acted properly.
Repairs will be done to the unit, although it is not clear how long that will take.
Unit 2 continues to operate at full power.

Byron Reactor Shuts Down Due to Ice - MyStateline.com - Powered by WTVO-TV and WQRF-TV

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Rauner, Democrats disagree on short-term budget fix - Chicago Tribune

 

More than a week after Gov. Bruce Rauner declared he was "literally days away" from a solution to the $1.6 billion shortfall in this year's budget, the governor insisted Friday that he and Democrats are "very close" to a deal.

 

"We'll get it done," Rauner said after delivering a speech to business leaders in Chicago. "The critical thing … is that we don't raise taxes because of this and that we don't do borrowing because of this, we just reallocate."

By that Rauner means he wants to take money from some programs to pay for others on the verge of going broke. But doing so requires cooperation from Democrats, some of whom say the Republican governor hasn't done enough to persuade them to get behind his plan.

A key sticking point is what Democrats describe as a lack of specifics.

 

"We still need more information," said Rikeesha Phelon, spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago. "There certainly have been conversations, but we're still trying to mine out relevant information."

Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, said the governor has yet to offer up legislation to spell out which programs he plans to raid or cut to solve the shortfall.

 

"I think the easiest thing to do is for the governor to be specific," Brown said. "We haven't seen a full bill. When the governor provides a full bill, then maybe something can move forward."

Rauner insisted all week that negotiations were progressing and a deal was "close." It's a familiar refrain from the rookie governor, who as a candidate had a habit of batting back reporters' questions about when he would offer specific proposals with promises of answers "soon" and "in due time."

Timing for the deal was better before last week's budget address, when Rauner laid out his agenda for sweeping cuts to programs favored by Democrats, Phelon said.

It was during that speech that Rauner said a deal on the current budget crisis was imminent. Madigan agreed at the time. Negotiations appear to have stalled.

"Once (Democrats) got a picture of how he intends to manage and how he intends to prioritize, that just made it harder for them to grant him a blank check or to grant him expanded authority to do the same thing in this current year," Phelon said.

A partial rollback of the temporary tax hike meant a projected drop of $4 billion in revenue that could have helped cover the shortfall, which threatens to cut off payroll for prison guards and court reporters, as well as funding for other programs. Already, state funding for a popular subsidized day care program has run out. Without more money, the options are to cut program spending, move money around between programs, or borrow.

On Friday, Rauner suggested Democrats were trying "to take advantage of the cash flow crisis to try to force a tax hike."

Leaders in both chambers disputed that claim.

"We have never made that a condition for solving the issues with (this year's budget)," Phelon said. "What we have made an issue of is a need for greater transparency when it comes to the types of things he considers nonessential services and the types of things he wants to cut."

READ THE WHOLE STORY:  Rauner, Democrats disagree on short-term budget fix - Chicago Tribune

Monday, March 2, 2015

Hillary Clinton Used Personal Email at State Dept., Possibly Breaking Rules - NYTimes.com

 

WASHINGTON — Hillary Rodham Clinton exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as secretary of state, State Department officials said, and may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record.

Mrs. Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department. Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act.

It was only two months ago, in response to a new State Department effort to comply with federal record-keeping practices, that Mrs. Clinton’s advisers reviewed tens of thousands of pages of her personal emails and decided which ones to turn over to the State Department. All told, 55,000 pages of emails were given to the department. Mrs. Clinton stepped down from the secretary’s post in early 2013.

Her expansive use of the private account was alarming to current and former National Archives and Records Administration officials and government watchdogs, who called it a serious breach.

“It is very difficult to conceive of a scenario — short of nuclear winter — where an agency would be justified in allowing its cabinet-level-head officer to solely use a private email communications channel for the conduct of government business,” said Jason R. Baron, a lawyer at Drinker Biddle and Reath who is a former director of litigation at the National Archives and Records Administration.

A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, Nick Merrill, defended her use of the personal email account and said she has been complying with the “letter and spirit of the rules.”

Read the entire article by clicking on the following:  Hillary Clinton Used Personal Email at State Dept., Possibly Breaking Rules - NYTimes.com

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Does mayoral runoff mean return of 'Rahmner?' | Chicago

 

Several elections ago, what feels like a political lifetime, a wealthy guy named Bruce Rauner wanted to run for governor.

In those early days of 2013, Rauner knew he had to appeal to the far right to get through the Republican primary, while staying somewhat toward the middle to not alienate voters he would need in the general election.

That meant staying as far away as he could from an old pal — Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

As one of my colleagues, Neil Steinberg, once entertainingly put it: the two are like lovers who see each other at a party but have to pretend they don’t know each other.

In the thick of the Republican primary, Rauner’s opponents tossed Emanuel’s name at him like it was a dirty word.

They called him “Rahmner.” They accused the private equity investor of making Emanuel wealthy after Emanuel left his post as White House chief of staff. They brought up the fact that the two took fishing trips together at Rauner’s Montana ranch and that their families vacationed together.

A Sun-Times analysis showed the two shared a slew of wealthy, top-tier contributors, including some of the wealthiest businessmen in the world.

The pair’s fine tastes in wine were the subject of much scrutiny before the gubernatorial election.

Rauner eked his way through the primary and went on to win the general election by a comfortable margin.

Now, the tables are turned. It’s Rauner who is the dirty word in the Emanuel camp, as the mayor failed to reach the more than 50 percent needed to avoid an April 7 runoff against Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

The governor just proposed a budget that would mean $125 million in cuts to the local share of income taxes coming to the city of Chicago.

Emanuel angrily slammed the plan, saying, “Do not think you’re gonna do this — not only on the backs of families and children, but on the resources that . . . pay for our police and firefighters and first responders.”

Garcia said he didn’t believe Emanuel and wanted to make sure the public knew the mayor and the governor had a high-flying backstory.

“He and Rauner are good friends,” Garcia said after Emanuel’s comments on the budget. “They apparently share expensive wines together. They talk on a very regular basis. I’m sure the mayor had advanced notice that these cuts were coming down. The mayor should have ensured that the governor wouldn’t have the audacity to even think about draconian cuts.”

Voters’ biggest beef with Emanuel was over closing 50 schools and for his reputation for making decisions unilaterally. So now isn’t the time to be seen hanging out with the governor, whose budget proposes cuts to the CTA and other city entities.

One Emanuel supporter told me Tuesday it’s the mayor’s hard-charging style that make him the best equipped to push back — or negotiate with — the governor.

But Garcia supporter and progressive caucus member Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) argues the opposite is true.

“Rauner and Rahm are drinking buddies,” Munoz said. “They’re wine-tasting buddies. They vacation together. I mean, who vacations with someone that you’re going to call out for cutting social services? Chicago is a beer-and-brats kind of town — not a cheese-and-wine kind of town.”

Those are not-so-veiled references to Rauner and Emanuel having been photographed vacationing in Montana, with the mayor holding a pricey bottle of wine. Rauner revealed during the governor’s race that he belonged to a $100,000 wine club. Not good, if you’re trying to get away from the “Mayor 1%” image.

So will the “Rahmner” taunts keep rolling as Garcia pushes for an April victory?

Not necessarily. While it could help Garcia politically to bash Rauner in the short-term — there aren’t too many Republican voters in Chicago — it could create friction down the road should Garcia prevail in April.

“I would suggest not doing it directly about Rauner,” said University of Illinois political science professor Dick Simpson.

Simpson, a former Chicago alderman, said Garcia would be wise to focus any criticism on the proposed budget itself, its potential harm to the city and the fact that it could further complicate efforts to fund a large pension payment that comes due later this year.

“I don’t know that he needs to get into a fight with the governor,” said Simpson.

Does mayoral runoff mean return of 'Rahmner?' | Chicago

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sosnowski wins debut award for Random Acts of Statesmanship | DeKalb County Online

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DeKalb County Online is pleased to announce that Joe Sosnowski, Illinois state representative for the 69th District, which covers Boone County, eastern Winnebago County and northern DeKalb County, has been selected by our Editorial Board as the inaugural recipient of our Random Acts of Statesmanship Award.

A common saying throughout the 6,963 local units of government in Illinois is “what is pork to one is a treasure to another.” Illinois is one of the top “pork” producing states in the union and has the debt to prove it. Sosnowski is that rare politician with the backbone to call it pork. It takes a backbone for a politician to become a statesman.

When a local unit of government sees the dangling carrot of state or federal funding it seems like they can get talked into anything. So when the Rockford city council was pitched an idea to build the Lyford Street bus station with federal matching funds — proposed at about 97 percent of the Lyford Street station’s cost paid with federal money, including $3.7 million from federal stimulus spending.

Rockford’s Lyford Street bus transfer station became the first Illinois transit project completed with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act when it opened its doors on May 23, 2012.

But a WTVO 17 Eyewitness News investigation has found that three years after it was built at a cost of $8.1 million dollars the station is barely used.

Sosnowski was on the Rockford City Council when the controversial project was proposed. He asked to see feasibility study information and planning and saw there was just very little of it. That raised a lot of red flags about the feasibility of the proposal actually working and he voted against the project.

It was not a popular vote. Longtime Rockford Register Star (and Rockford Journal before that) columnist suggested Sosnowski was just being a grumpy old man. Federal money used for a local project is always a good thing. Right? The proof is in the pudding and after watching no one use the bus station for three years Sweeny has changed his mind. Pork is pork is pork is pork.

In exchange for the “free” federal money Rockford taxpayers must cover another $12,000 to operate the Lyford Street Station each month.

“If they just would have slowed the process down a little bit more to look at different possibilities [and] to have a true study, to evaluate their future needs, I think we would have been in a different situation today,” said Sosnowski.

Sosnowski served as DeKalb’s 7th ward alderman from 1999 – 2003. He is a 1999 graduate of Northern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in Political Science.

We miss him.


Editors’ note: Random Acts of Statesmanship will be awarded sporadically on an as earned basis. Decisions of the DeKalb County Online editorial board are not final. Like Sweeny, we reserve the right to change our minds.

Sosnowski wins debut award for Random Acts of Statesmanship | DeKalb County Online

Legal Action by FDIC maybe part of the reason DeKalb County Treasurer left so suddenly after his 2012 election.

As shown by the two documents that follow, Mark Todd  was appointed(February 2011) County Treasurer when Christine Johnson filled the Illinois Senate District seat.   The former bank vice-president  ran unopposed in the November 2012 General Election as a Republican and resigned in December 2012 effective February 2013.

 

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Mark Todd Quits County Treasurer Position

December 26, 2012 - Gov Watch - 2 comments

marktoddApparently county board Chairman Jeff Metzger announced that DeKalb County Treasurer Mark Todd quit to pursue a job in Hawaii. That’s according to a news release sent to the Daily Chronicle. According to his Facebook page his wife got a great job there back in October.

I’d take a better job in Hawaii. What an opportunity!

But the warm sunny skies and grass skirts of our 50th state didn’t influence this rant against the great injustice of it all. The press release should have come from Todd and it should have been posted on the County Treasurer’s website for all those that just voted in the election three weeks ago.

For this voter who filled in Todd’s slot on my ballot the Chronicle report read like a “wham bam thank you ma’am” letter direct from someplace near Honolulu.

“While the statutes do not provide specific qualifications for the office of county treasurer, I plan to develop criteria to evaluate candidates interested in this post so that the county is assured of getting a highly qualified individual to manage the treasurer’s office,” Metzger said in the news release.

Todd’s resignation will be effective Feb. 8 [2013], if the news release was accurate. He was appointed DeKalb County Treasurer back in February 2011. Long serving Christine Johnson left to fill the Illinois Senate District 35 seat vacated by Brad Burzynski’s retirement. He rain unopposed in the November 2012 election.

It would be more courteous, in my opinion, if elected officials shared their job pursuits with the public before election day instead of three weeks after. Especially in this job market. Had Todd announced his Hawaii intentions earlier who knows how many highly qualified candidates might have applied for the voters to choose from. Instead the deal will be done among party bosses or among those most connected. Maybe that’s what Metzger meant when he said that leading Republicans would step up and say why they wanted him for the county board chair. He won the seat by unanimous vote of the Democrats (plus his lone Republican vote).

Metzger will appoint the new DeKalb County Treasurer some time in the next 60 days (from Feb. 8).  Evidently, state statutes require the appointment go to someone of the same political party as the vacating incumbent. Mark Todd was a Republican.

Feb 8. Why that date? Severance pay? Severance agreement?

Fair questions.

Above is from:  Mark Todd Quits County Treasurer Position | DeKalb County Online

 

 

Mr. Todd was Vice-President of Farmers and Traders State Bank, Shabbona which was closed by the FDIC in June 2012. (see  document below). 

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First State Bank, Mendota, Illinois, Assumes All of the Deposits of Farmers and Traders State Bank, Shabbona, Illinois

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 8, 2012

Media Contact:
LaJuan Williams-Young
Office: 202-898-3876
Email: lwilliams-young@fdic.gov

Farmers and Traders State Bank, Shabbona, Illinois, was closed today by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with First State Bank, Mendota, Illinois, to assume all of the deposits of Farmers and Traders State Bank.

The two branches of Farmers and Traders State Bank will reopen on Saturday as branches of First State Bank. Depositors of Farmers and Traders State Bank will automatically become depositors of First State Bank. Deposits will continue to be insured by the FDIC, so there is no need for customers to change their banking relationship in order to retain their deposit insurance coverage up to applicable limits. Customers of Farmers and Traders State Bank should continue to use their existing branch until they receive notice from First State Bank that it has completed systems changes to allow other First State Bank branches to process their accounts as well.

This evening and over the weekend, depositors of Farmers and Traders State Bank can access their money by writing checks or using ATM or debit cards. Checks drawn on the bank will continue to be processed. Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.

As of March 31, 2012, Farmers and Traders State Bank had approximately $43.1 million in total assets and $42.3 million in total deposits. In addition to assuming all of the deposits, First State Bank agreed to purchase essentially all of the failed bank's assets.

Customers with questions about today's transaction should call the FDIC toll-free at 1-800-640-2607. The phone number will be operational this evening until 9:00 p.m., Central Daylight Time (CDT); on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., CDT; on Sunday from noon to 6:00 p.m., CDT; on Monday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., CDT; and thereafter from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., CDT. Interested parties also can visit the FDIC's Web site at http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/ftsb.html.

The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $8.9 million. Compared to other alternatives, First State Bank's acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF. Farmers and Traders State Bank is the 27th FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the second in Illinois. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Premier Bank, Wilmette, on March 23, 2012.

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Above is from:  https://www.fdic.gov/news/news/press/2012/pr12066.html

 

In December 2014 the following legal action was finalized by the FDIC. . As shown by the legal order, Mr. Todd is prohibited from bank ownership or conducting the affairs of a financial institution.

 

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Above is from:  https://www.fdic.gov/news/news/press/2015/pr15011a.html?source=govdelivery&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

 

 

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The above is the attachment from:  https://www.fdic.gov/news/news/press/2015/pr15011a.html?source=govdelivery&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

Bloggers in McHenry County asking many questions regarding a motorcycle

This mink-condition 2012 police motorcycle showed up on the Harley-Davis, Woodstock website.  And then disappeared when questions were being asked by blogger—McHenry County Secrets--http://www.mchenrycountysecrets.com/  

In case you cannot make out the lettering; it says: “McHenry County Conservation District POLICE”.  And the vehicle has seven miles on the odometer. Did this ever belong to this governmental agency?  If so, why was it never used?

 

 

 

 

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It is pretty certain that this story is not over with. Keep turned to:  http://www.mchenrycountysecrets.com/ (shown below)   or Cal Skinner’s McHenry County Blog:  http://mchenrycountyblog.com/  (also shown below).

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