Saturday, July 30, 2016

Cullerton repeats demand that Rauner will decide tax hike




Cullerton repeats demand that Rauner will decide tax hike

Friday, Jul 29, 2016

* This is by no means the first time Senate President John Cullerton has said this about a potential tax hike, but it’s still worth noting

In June, Illinois legislators approved a stopgap budget that will get the state through the November election and into the lame duck fall session.

Cullerton said he’s willing to work with the governor on a budget “as long as he doesn’t have radical ideas.”

“We look forward to finishing up our budget negotiations, getting a grand bargain and any kind of an agreement has to be with Gov. Rauner’s blessings. We’re not going to have any tax increase unless Gov. Rauner wants it,” Cullerton said.

“And if he wants a tax increase, he’ll determine how much that tax increase will be. But we’ll work with him. But it’s not going to happen unilaterally. It has to be two parties sitting down and willing to compromise and that’s certainly where I am.”

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Boone County Health Department aims to charge nonprofits for food service permits



By Adam Poulisse
Staff writer

Posted Jul. 29, 2016 at 10:00 AM
Updated Jul 29, 2016 at 12:50 PM

BELVIDERE — Boone County Health Department is pushing for a change to county code that will force nonprofit organizations to pay food service permit fees.
Organizations and some residents contend it would be unfair for nonprofits to shell out money for the permits amid a rocky state budget.
Establishments that serve food to the public — be it a chain restaurant like McDonald's, or a local nonprofit's monthly breakfast or weekend cookout — must first obtain a food service permit through the Health Department. However, the county code states nonprofits are exempt from paying permit fees. The fee reimburses the Health Department for time and resources spent issuing the permit, as well as education, tracking, evaluating and inspecting.
Annual permit fees cost $470, the most expensive of the food service permits; short-term permits and lower-risk entities cost less.
Last year, distributing permits to the nearly 30 nonprofits in Boone County would have generated $22,000 for the Health Department. That money had to be made up by the taxpayers, Administrator Cindy Frank said.
"It's going to kill us," she said. "Most not-for-profit events are on weekends, so I have to staff my people to meet that requirement and it takes them out of (weekday) hours."
Frank said the current code may result in some organizations not applying for the permit, which could mean improperly handling food.
"When they're told they don't have to pay for the permit, they don't come in to get the permit, so (we) don't know how they're serving (the food)," Frank added.
The Health Department went before the Health and Human Services Committee earlier this month to recommend the change to the county code. The committee said the Health Department needed to prove the current code is causing a financial hardship. There was no vote.
The Health Department will meet on Monday then return before the health committee on Thursday.
County Board and Health and Human Services Committee member Cathy Ward said she's opposed to nonprofits paying the permit fee.
"I know how hard our not-for-profits work to make every penny," she said.
There are more than 300 fees in the county code including liquor licenses and building permits, but the food permit fee is the only one nonprofits get exemption for.
"This is a bottomless hole," said Bill Hatfield, director of environmental health. "We want everyone who applies for ... a function that requires local government oversight and causes expenses to pay for those expenses."
VFW Post 1461 in Belvidere, 1310 W. Lincoln Ave., has been at odds with the Health Department regarding food service fees for years. The VFW hosts breakfast 10 months out of the year and sells soda and candy bars.

The Health Department charged the VFW $2,485 in permit fees since 2008, until the organization fought and won a refund earlier this year because of its nonprofit status.

They don’t really understand what a nonprofit is,” said Greg Kelm, post commander. “They said we make money but the IRS letter says we are a nonprofit. If the IRS says we are a nonprofit, we are a nonprofit.”
In neighboring Winnebago County, the Health Department charges all nonprofits for food permit fees, except food pantries, Lisa Sprecher, public facilities supervisor, said. Fees in Winnebago County range from $40 for a temporary permit, to $640 for a long-term permit for establishments that seat 200 or more.
Nonprofits across the state faced a difficult time amid the budget impasse, forcing some to close down, or layoff workers and clients to keep services going. Charging the VFW and other Boone County nonprofits the permit fees would be bad timing, Kelm said.

"We are on a tight ship," he said. "If the whole county ran themselves like the VFW runs itself, they wouldn't have financial problems."

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Rockefeller Foundation invests in Mainstream project

July 28, 2016 3:14 am


Rockefeller fund backs Africa renewables

Andrew Ward, Energy Editor

The family foundation built on the riches of John D Rockefeller’s Standard Oil has backed a $177.5m wind and solar power programme in Africa, marking its biggest move into green energy since announcing plans to stop investing in fossil fuels.

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund is part of a consortium of investors supporting a scheme led by Mainstream Renewable Power of Ireland to build 1.3 gigawatts of carbon-free generating capacity in Africa by 2018.

The agreement is the clearest sign yet of the fund making good on its 2014 promise to withdraw from fossil fuel investments and reallocate resources to green energy because of concern about climate change.

That decision drew criticism at the time from some in the oil sector who saw it as a betrayal of an industry that formed the basis of Rockefeller wealth. But Stephen Heintz, president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, said this week that the switch to renewable energy was in keeping with the family spirit.

He said: “John D Rockefeller was a great visionary who saw in petroleum a product that was going to change the world. If he were alive today he would see that the future is going to be in green power.”

About 3.3 per cent of the $816m fund is still invested in fossil fuel assets — mostly oil and gas companies — but this is down from 7 per cent two years ago and Mr Heintz said these would continue to be sold.

The fund, founded by the sons of Mr Rockefeller in 1940 to promote “a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world”, has committed $10m to the African renewables scheme.

The money will help finance Lekela Power, a joint-venture between Mainstream and Actis, a private equity fund spun out of the UK government in 2004 to invest in the developing world. Lekela is planning wind and solar projects in South Africa, Egypt, Ghana and Senegal.

Mr Heintz said that while there would be environmental and humanitarian benefits from the investment, his fund’s main objective was to make money.

“This is a continent with a huge energy deficit,” he said. “So there is a social impulse [to invest] but it is also an extraordinary opportunity for Africa to leapfrog the old energy systems of the past to the new green energy systems of the future.”

The Rockefeller-backed consortium will contribute $117.5m to the fundraising, with a further $60m coming from Mainstream. Other investors include the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank’s private lending arm.

If [Rockefeller] were alive today he would see that the future is going to be in green power

- Stephen Heintz, president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund

Mainstream has been operating in Africa since 2009 and says it is playing an important role in the delivery of US President Barack Obama’s “Power Africa” plan to add 30,000 megawatts of electricity capacity to the continent by 2030.

Eddie O’Connor, the co-founder and chief executive of Mainstream, said the falling cost of wind and solar power meant these were increasingly the most affordable options for expanding access to electricity in Africa.

“Wind power is about 50 per cent cheaper than new coal capacity in South Africa,” he said. “It’s not only the righteous thing to do from an environmental standpoint but it’s also sensible economically.”

According to the International Energy Agency, 635m people in Africa — more than half the population — did not have access to electricity in 2013.

Gov. Rauner calls for term limits for state legislators

By WIFR Newsroom

Posted: Tue 5:51 PM, Jul 26, 2016

BELVIDERE, Ill. (WIFR) – Governor Bruce Rauner calls for reform of what he says is a rigged system in Springfield by putting term limits on state legislators.

The governor points out some state politicians have held office for two, three, or even four decades. Only one third of candidates will face an opponent in the upcoming general election and only 12% had an opponent in the primaries. Rauner is encouraging the Illinois General Assembly to vote for a term limits constitutional amendment during the veto session this fall.

"You know when George Washington founded America he could have been president for life. he said no, 8 years and left. We need that mindset. I want a term limit myself, at the max 8 years. I think everybody should leave office after a few years, go back to the real world and let new ideas, fresh faces come into government,” says Governor Bruce Rauner (R) Illinois.

Rauner says term limits won’t fix every problem with state government, but will shift politicians’ focus from power to public service.

Above is from:

Fiat Chrysler ending car production in the US


Fiat Chrysler ending car production in the US

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Brent Snavely 3 hrs ago


The company may be called Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, but by early next year, it won't be making cars in the U.S.

Instead, Fiat Chrysler's U.S. plants will be focusing entirely on pickups and SUVs for the Ram and Jeep brands.

Fiat Chrysler is winding down production of the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart and will primarily produce Jeep SUVs and Ram pickups in the U.S. The company's remaining car models will be made in Mexico or Canada.

Ending passenger car production in the U.S. is part of CEO Sergio Marchionne's multibillion-dollar plan to increase profit margins to match competitors. It's a bet that recognizes the growing popularity of SUVs in America, low gas prices and lower cost of producing vehicles  in Mexico.

"By the time we finish with this, hopefully, all of our production assets in the United States — if you exclude Canada and Mexico from the fold — all those U.S. plants will be producing either Jeeps or Ram," Marchionne said Wednesday during a conference call with Wall Street analysts after the automaker reported second-quarter earnings.

The Jeep and Ram brands have been driving sales gains recently,  with the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200, highly touted when they were launched, have been disappointments.

"There will be no passenger cars that will be produced in the U.S., and therefore, our expectation is that concentration will give us the possibility to get very close" to the 12.1% profit margin that General Motors reported as part of its second-quarter earnings last week.

Marchionne has been trying for years to increase its North American profit margins and match crosstown rivals Ford and General Motors. His realignment will help the automaker finally reach that goal. That plan also includes moving production of the replacement for the Jeep Compass and Patriot to Mexico.

"I think our biggest task now is to close the operating margin gap with our competitors. That remains a permanent fixation that we have inside the house," Marchionne said. "I think we will be de-carred in the U.S. by  (the first quarter) of 2017."

A major piece of the puzzle is shelving the Chrysler 200 in Sterling Heights. The automaker said earlier this week production will end there in December.

On Tuesday, FCA announced that it plans to spend $1.49 billion to retool its Sterling Heights, Mich., Assembly Plant to make the Ram 1500, which will move from its current plant in Warren when production begins in 2018.

Another piece of the plan is to move production of the Jeep Cherokee from Toledo, Ohio, to Belvidere, Ill., so it can expand production of the Wrangler in Toledo. FCA said last month it plans to spend $1 billion to retool its plants in Toledo, Ohio, and Belvidere, Ill., and create 1,000 new jobs.

UAW President Dennis Williams — who has frequently criticized automakers for moving production to Mexico — said Tuesday that FCA's recent investments were discussed last year as part of the union's contract negotiations.

The Sterling Heights investment "is great for all of our members and all of the employees at FCA and for the local communities," he said.

In negotiations with the Detroit Three last fall, the UAW won raises for entry-level members hired after 2007, moving most to about $29 per hour from $19.28 over the next eight years.

That agreement, combined with other benefits, erodes the ability of the Detroit Three to make a profit off lower-priced small cars in the U.S.

"When you look at the economics of car manufacturing ...the margins that we were getting from our experience of both the Dart and the Chrysler 200 ...yielded returns that would not, on a competitive basis, match even anything close or remotely close to what we could derive from utilization of those assets in the Jeep or Ram world. So we have made that shift," Marchionne said.

Despite FCA's plans to stop producing the Dart and Chrysler 200, Marchionne continues to say he is looking for a partner willing to make those cars for the automaker.

“I think we have made progress. We’re not in a position to announce anything," Marchionne said.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

NWI Times’ Editorial on GLB RR




EDITORIAL: Where's support for rail?



After months of public comment on the proposed $8 billion railroad that would ring the Chicago metro area, the U.S. Surface Transportation Board has its work cut out for it.

There were more than 3,000 comments from property owners, railroads, elected officials, schools, advocacy groups, opposition groups and communities through which the 278-mile Great Lakes Basin Transportation rail line would run.

Frank Patton, chairman of GLBT, has promised sweeteners to the public, including free electricity to homes along the route and a promise to pick up farmers’ rail cars of grain, if the farmers build a rail spur. That doesn’t seem to have resonated with the public.

Nor has the acknowledgement that with the volume of freight increasing, and the Borman Expressway unable to be expanded, there must be another way to keep that freight moving through the Chicago freight bottleneck.

We have seen before the recalcitrance of major railroads in accepting new routes, including the free tracks skirting the newly expanded Gary/Chicago International Airport runway. Getting that new route to be accepted, at no cost to the railroads, took nearly a decade. And unlike the runway project, Patton’s GLBT would change the competitive landscape by, in effect, building a toll road for trains.

To many, this project brings to mind the idea of a third airport for the Chicago area. That concept, put forth by the Federal Aviation Administration, has been talked about for years, with airport plans put forward in Peotone, Gary and elsewhere, but airlines haven’t committed to serving a third airport.

Which railroads want this new rail line built? Which shippers want it?

And what long-term benefits, after the initial construction, would this railroad bring to Northwest Indiana and the rest of the route?

We have heard of alternate routes, including one that would avoid Porter County with the addition of new track near Wanatah and using existing rail routes south of the county.

What we haven’t heard much of is support for the rail project.

Above is from:

Friday, July 22, 2016

Commander Kelm speaks out in Boone County Journal regarding Health Department, its governing board and the County Board

Boone County Health Department: The self feeding government entity in Boone County concerned with self preservation who out of a 1.1 million dollar budget spends 88% for wages and benefits for their 18 employees. (Their 2015 annual report taken offline).

Now the Boone County Health Department is stamping their feet at both boards ( Boone County Board & health department boards that is) trying to ride the backs of the not for profits for more fees.

There are some great people in the health department in Boone County, there are maybe 4 or 5 on their health department board that can think on their own and make rational decisions on their own in my opinion. The rest are lemming followers, who will “sing back” to the health department what ever the health department wants them to sing back. I have personally observed this in the very few meetings I attended. In my opinion, if you want to watch a very weak board in action, go to a health board meeting and watch the board dance to the tune of the ones they are supposed to manage.

Now on the Boone County Board Health and Human Service committee: Jeff Carlisle (chairman) and Cathy Ward (member) will not be “lead around by the nose” by the health department. Thank heavens we have 4 on the county board with some backbone.

Ms. Frank wants us to believe that we are all in extreme danger with food-borne illness, that is about all I have ever observed her chant. The fact is when I sent in a freedom of information act request, asking for the last 5 of food-borne outbreaks occurring in Boone County, the health department replied there may have been one. They could did not give me a date, people involved, cost to inspect or correct. Until I see some ink on the paper how do we even know one incidence happened? Is it worth $5.5 million over a 5 year period? I truly do not think so. Yesterday I told the 1 incident had nothing to do with a restaurant or church. It was a private event.

Lets look at fees for food permits.

Since 2006, our food permit fees at the VFW have increased more than 522 percent. The VFW paid $450 for a food permit in 2015; McDonald's & Burger King paid $205 per year; Belvidere Ace, $120; Subway Gateway, $205; The Brick, $240; Buchanan Street Pub, $140; Buchanan Street Bar and Grill, $450; Tropical Oasis, $260; Pizza Hut, $240; Maria's Pizza, $450; Arby's, $450; and Starbucks, $240. Moose Lodge (tax except by stature) $450. The fees are all over the place with no rhyme or reason.

When I asked the Health Department why there was a more than 100 percent difference in fees between the VFW and McDonald's, I was told that the VFW was considered “high risk.” Again, I would like to point out that the McDonald's fee is $205 and Belvidere Ace is $120. One sells food 24/7 (McDonald's), the other sells soda and candy bars and gives away popped popcorn (Ace Hardware).

Now, the Health Department wants all nonprofits to pay fees. The sky is falling and the Health Department says, "We are in the red. We need more money. We need more fees, now!"

My concern is, if you have budget problems, why, in 2013, did you, the Health Department, give your staff $56,000 in wage increases? In three years, that raise has grown to more than $168,000. It is reported that Cindy Frank gave herself a 55 percent pay increase. I am curious if this was really true? I know we all dream of a “cushy” lifetime, an 8-to-5 government job with most weekends and all major holidays off, and raises to our own pay whenever we can. But in the real world outside of government that does not happen.

The Health Department now proposes hiring an administrator for $90,675 in 2017. Boone County Health Department, hello, have you ever heard of truly working to have a balanced budget in place? Maybe you need to combine some jobs or have some layoffs so you can then be in the black. All of your money comes from local, state or federal taxes, (grants) our money.

Do we really need a health department? Not really. Many feel, myself included, they are just one huge duplication of many services we already have. Many “fees” could be paid right at the circuit clerks office. For 1.1million dollars I think you could pay for a few more staff at the clerks office. The Crusader Clinic is just down the street for medical services. The health department is not there nights and weekends. There must be no danger on weekends or evenings of food-borne illness. Maybe they have an answering machine and can get back the next day or Monday?

•Put this money to the Sheriffs Department and Fire Protection. Now there is where the men and women are out there 24/7 looking out for us, truly keeping us safe. Lets trim all the expensive “fat hanging on the bone” in the health department.

•This is the opinion of Greg Kelm Commander VFW Post 1461 since 2006, President of Boone County Veteran's Club since 2006. Please email comments to

An indication that Feingold is winning?




Conservative group cancels $2.2 million in ads for Johnson

  • Updated Jul 20, 2016

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A conservative group funded by the Koch brothers that is backing Sen. Ron Johnson canceled $2.2 million worth of ads it had planned to run to help the Republican in August and September, a blow to his re-election campaign as he tries to win a rematch against Democrat Russ Feingold.

Feingold has been outraising Johnson and leading in the polls in the closely watched race. Democrats are hoping to pick up the Senate seat as they try to regain majority control in the Senate.

The super PAC Freedom Partners Action Fund ran about $2 million worth of ads attacking Feingold in May. It was slated to run another $2.2 million in pro-Johnson ads over the next two months, but a Democratic media tracker said Wednesday that they had been canceled.

"We are realigning our television advertising strategy to ensure maximum impact across key Senate races," Freedom Partners spokesman James Davis wrote in an email. "We will continue direct citizen outreach through our grassroots activists, volunteer phone calls, digital media and direct mail. Last weekend alone network grassroots organizations made almost half a million contact attempts to targeted audiences."

The bad news for Johnson comes a day after he spoke in prime time at the Republican National Convention, a late-reversal from his long-held position that he was going to skip the gathering to campaign in Wisconsin. It also comes the day after the National Republican Senatorial Committee said it was delaying until October $1.3 million in ads it originally planned to run over the next two months.

Johnson campaign spokesman Brian Reisinger tried to downplay the effect of the ad cancellation by the group funded by influential billionaire conservatives Charles and David Koch.

"We just had our strongest fundraising quarter ever and the polls show this race tight," Reisinger said. "We are comfortable and confident and believe we have the support to run a winning campaign. The voters already fired Senator Feingold once, and they will reject him again."

In the three-month period ending in June, Johnson raised $2.8 million, up from $2.1 million in the first three months. That put him in the top three of all Senate Republicans. But he still trails Feingold, who served 18 years in the Senate before Johnson defeated him in 2010. Through the first six months of the year, Feingold raised about $7.4 million, compared with $4.9 million for Johnson. Feingold also had more money on hand at the end of June — $7.2 million compared with $6.3 million for Johnson.

A Marquette University Law School poll released last week showed Feingold ahead of Johnson by 5 points among likely voters and 7 points among registered voters. The race has tightened considerably since January, when Feingold was up by 12 points over Johnson among registered voters.

Johnson has benefited from spending by outside groups, which had outspent Feingold's campaign by about $5 million to $1 million from the April 5 primary through late June. In addition to Freedom Partners, the ads benefiting Johnson have come from Americans for Prosperity, another Koch brothers group, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Let America Work and the Judicial Crisis Network.

"Senator Johnson has always relied on the Koch Brothers and these outside groups to run his campaign for him, so this must come as a disappointment for their model legislator," said Feingold spokesman Michael Tyler in an emailed statement.

Associated Press writer Julie Bykowicz in Cleveland contributed to this report.

Above is from:


In 2011 email Gov. Rauner calls half of CPS teachers 'virtually illiterate'


Thursday, July 21, 2016 08:56PM


An email written by Governor Bruce Rauner has surfaced where he called half of Chicago Public Schools teachers "virtually illiterate."
The email was written in 2011, before Rauner was governor, and was sent to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other top education reform activists in the city.

A judge ordered the mayor's administration to release a batch of emails Thursday and this email was one of them.
Illinois Federation of Teachers president Dan Montgomery released a statement saying, in part: "Governor Bruce Rauner's statement that half of Chicago teachers are 'virtually illiterate' is a grotesque affront to the thousands of dedicated, hardworking, and talented educators and, indeed, the children who learn from them and love them."
Montgomery continues, "While Rauner publicly claims to love Illinois teachers, his private emails reveal the appalling truth: he holds them in contempt. No public servant, let alone a governor, is fit to oversee the education of our children when he or she has so little regard for those who teach."
A spokesperson for the governor released a statement which read, in part, "This particular email was sent out of frustration at the pace of change in our public school system. The Governor regrets writing it and apologizes to CPS educators for making an unfair, untrue comment."

Above is from

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Ill House candidate opposes GLB RR



Lindsay Parkhurst, the Republican candidate for the District 79 State House seat,  recently expressed support for the Kankakee County Board's opposition to the Great Lakes Basin Transportation (GLBT) railroad project.

Lindsay Parkhurst Lindsay Parkhurst | Contributed photo

The county board's concerns include the impact of a last-minute addition of a 15,000-acre rail port, which was added to the project during the environmental review process without advance warning. Kankakee County did not have time to analyze the impact of an additional 15,000-acre site being added to the rail project. There are 271 homes and two cemeteries within the boundaries of the proposed rail port, which would be affected if the project is approved.

In addition to the rail port, the board expressed concerns regarding the effect of the proposed railroad route on existing infrastructure, traffic patterns, farmland and waterways. The board proposed that the railroad expand and improve the existing infrastructure instead of building a new rail line.

"I'm pleased that the Kankakee County Board unanimously approved a letter opposing the Great Lakes Basin Rail Project," Parkhurst said. "This project is a boondoggle in the making -- similar to the Illiana Expressway or South Suburban Airport -- and ought to be opposed. I proudly stand with the folks at BLOCK GLB Railroad and many other local entities in opposing this project. Any possibility of using eminent domain for private gain is a gross abuse of state power. This project threatens the lives and livelihoods of farmers, homeowners and rural communities in our area and is not the way forward for our state."

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Cathy Ward via Facebook: PSB tax referendum will be discussed again in August

Cathy Ward

"BOONE COUNTY PUBLIC SAFETY SALES TAX INCREASE PROPOSAL - Excellent review but no decision at last night's board meeting, but the board will discuss this proposal to double the tax again at the finance meeting on Aug. 4. A few guests spoke and predicted an increase will never pass because our taxpayers had been promised in 1999 that this tax would end in 2018 but now it will go forever. That's because a couple years ago, under the leadership of Chair Bob Walberg, the board voted 8-4 to keep this tax going forever, even without voter approval. Board members who voted to keep it going forever said the county needs the money to meet ever increasing expenses. I proposed, and will again, that we put a different referendum on the ballot and ask taxpayers if they want this tax stopped as promised in 2018. That's the real question. Do our taxpayers want us to make cuts, increase revenue with businesses like the wind farms, or increase taxes? I'm fine with putting a referendum on the ballot to ask our taxpayers if they want to double the tax, too. Please, please let our voters decide, not just 8 of our 55,000 residents. That's what I call taxation without representation," said Boone County Board member Cathy Ward.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

RR STAR’s View: Promises made must be promises kept

  • Our View: Promises made must be promises kept


  • By Register Star Editorial Board


  • Posted Jul. 19, 2016 at 5:04 PM

    We can't recall a time in recent history when people have had so little trust in government at any level. One reason is that governments too often promise one thing and then ignore that promise when a new batch of officials arrive on the scene.
    Here are some examples:
    Remember 2002? The Winnebago County Jail was crowded with inmates. The county was being sued because of the deplorable conditions inside.
    County leaders asked voters to add 1 percentage point to the sales tax to construct what turned out to be the $140 million Winnebago County Justice Center, complete with a jail to house more than 1,200 people.
    Our Editorial Board was skeptical of the plan because we believed the answer to jail crowding was not tripling capacity but making the justice system efficient and implementing programs to keep ex-offenders from committing more crimes.
    Near the end of the referendum campaign, county leaders added alternative programs to the list of things on which they'd spend the money. These programs would be designed to provide ex-offenders with the tools they needed to join above-ground society.
    That cinched the Editorial Board's support, as well as the backing of prominent black ministers. The referendum passed 60 percent to 40 percent in the city of Rockford and 52 percent to 48 percent in the rest of Winnebago County.
    Since then, county leaders have remained faithful to their promises, even though funding has been cut from the original $3.4 million a year, according to board member Ted Biondo.
    Recently, however, attempts were made to abandon funding for the alternative programs and giving the money to the sheriff. The programs remain in place, but for how long we don't know. It seems not everyone respects or even remembers that 2002 promise.
    More recently, the County Board voted to refinance one of the jail bonds to get $2.6 million, originally to give to the sheriff. Instead, the money may be used to pay off this year's county deficit, which is $1.6 million.
    Next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, the county is projected to run a deficit of $7 million.
    In Boone County, a similar situation has dissolved voter trust. In 1999, voters in Boone enacted a half-percentage-point public safety sales tax on the promise that it would be ended in 2018.
    In 2015, the Boone County Board voted 8-4 to remove the 2018 sunset clause so the tax could continue indefinitely. Boone County Board Chairman Bob Walberg, who voted to continue the tax, made a telling statement.
    "There was a promise made by a few people in support of the referendum (in 1999). You can't impose that on a future body. The board of 2018 will have to make that decision," he said.
    We urge all voters to remember that statement. It means that when politicians promise you something in return for a tax increase, they may mean it.

                  But only at the time they say it


Above is from:

IL Gov. Rauner signs Molly's Law, extends statute of limitations on violent crimes



On Tuesday afternoon, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 6083 and House Bill 4715. The bills are known as Molly’s Law. 

He signed the legislation in front of a packed room full of Justice for Molly supporters and members of the media.

The legislation was inspired by Molly Young who was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head in her ex-boyfriend's Carbondale apartment four years ago. 

The initiative will change the statute of limitations to sue for wrongful death and add stiffer financial penalties to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act for non-compliance.

“Today is an important day for Illinois families seeking justice,” Gov. Rauner said. “This bill provides families a longer time frame to bring wrongful death actions against perpetrators of intentional violent crimes and gives families access to the necessary public information to find closure in a loved one’s death.”

Governor Rauner told Molly Young's family and supporters that he would be listening to their concerns. 

Larry Young is asking the Governor to help orchestrate a meeting with the head of the Illinois State Police to see if a new investigation can be conducted.

HB 6083 extends the statute of limitations for wrongful death cases to 5 years, instead of two as in the current law.

The bill allows a maximum fine of $5,000 for public bodies that refuse to turn over documents under the Freedom of Information Act by court order or a binding opinion from the Illinois Attorney General, and adds a fine of $1,000 per day for every day the public agency is not compliant.

The manner of Molly Young's death could not be determined by a coroner's jury.

Molly Young's family remains convinced foul play was a factor in her death.

No criminal charges have ever been filed.

HB 6083 and HB 4715 go into effect on January 1, 2017.

Above is from:

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

5 reasons Trump picked Mike Pence as his running mate


Donald Trump named Mike Pence as his running mate Saturday, roughly 48 hours after everyone knew the Indiana governor was his pick. Regardless of the odd timing and zany rollout, there are a lot of reasons to recommend Pence as the best choice Trump could have made from his vice-presidential shortlist. Here are five.

1. Trump needs to reassure the GOP establishment.

For all of his bluster about how he will go it alone if the Republican establishment does not get behind him forcefully enough, it was clear in my conversation with Trump last week that he grasped the need to find a way to placate party leaders — and soon. In that conversation, Trump touted the unifying potential in picking a politician who had the approval of the establishment. He will have that in Pence.(Here’s Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on rumors of the Pence pick.)

Pence is someone who spent time in the House GOP leadership before returning to Indiana to run for governor in 2012. He was seen as a possible future House speaker. He was widely rumored to be looking at the 2016 presidential race. He was viewed as a major rising star in the party by the establishment until he badly mishandled the debate in his state over what some call religious-freedom issues. His ultimate decision left no one happy with him — or it.

Even so, Pence is the sort of pick McConnell and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) — a Pence friend — can easily and enthusiastically get behind. And that’s exactly what Trump needs.

2. Trump needs to reassure social conservatives.

Although Trump carried the evangelical Christian vote in a surprising number of states during the Republican primary process, significant doubt remains about whether he is really one of them — or is even committed to social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. Trump’s dismissiveness about his religious beliefs and his past positions on some of those divisive social issues have only stoked concern.

The Fix's Chris Cillizza explains why Gov. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) was the best vice presidential pick of the candidates Donald Trump was considering. The Fix's Chris Cillizza explains why Gov. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) was the best vice presidential pick of the candidates Donald Trump was considering. (Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post)

The Fix's Chris Cillizza explains why Gov. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) was the best vice presidential pick of the candidates Donald Trump was considering. (Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post)

In Pence, Trump would be getting someone who is widely regarded as a front-line fighter for social conservatives; Pence often describes himself as a “Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.” He led the 2011 fight to defund Planned Parenthood in the House. (Worth noting: His backtracking on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act made some social conservatives skeptical of him.)

3. Trump needs the industrial Midwest.

If you look at an electoral map of the country, it’s very clear that unless Trump can find a way to make the Rust Belt competitive, he can’t win.Remember that this is what the 2012 map looked liked — when Mitt Romney took just 206 electoral votes.

Without finding a way to put Ohio, Pennsylvania, and maybe even Michigan or Wisconsin in play, Trump would have to run the table of traditional swing states. There would be zero margin for error. Possible, but far from likely.

Putting Pence on the ticket does not suddenly guarantee that Trump wins in the parts of the Midwest that he needs. But putting a son of that region on the ticket should give Trump an effective messenger across that area. Pence can say, “I get it, because I’m one of you,” in Wisconsin or Pennsylvania or Ohio and have real credibility.

4. Trump needs the Koch brothers.

It’s no secret that lots of major Republican donors are sitting on the sidelines of the presidential race, concerned that Trump lacks the message discipline or core conservative beliefs that would make him worth their investment. And it’s also no secret that the two biggest players in Republican money circles are Charles and David Koch.

“We are happy to talk to anybody and hope they understand where we’re coming from, and they will have more constructive positions than they’ve had,” Charles Koch told USA Today ahead of a June meeting with the Trump team.

Freeing up that Koch money — and some other major-dollar donors who would probably follow suit — is of critical importance to Trump, who is being badly outspent by Hillary Clinton and her super PAC allies.

There are few politicians in the country more tied into the Koch world than Pence. Marc Short, Pence’s onetime chief of staff in Congress, is now an uppity-up in the world of the Kochs, and he is one of a number of former Pence staff members who work under the umbrella of the Koch brothers’ organization.

Pence’s close ties to the Kochs give Trump the best shot he is going to have to persuade some of the party’s biggest fundraising wheels to jump onboard. (Worth noting: Matea Gold, The Washington Post’s terrific campaign reporter, talked to a Koch spokesman who said the Koch network still had no plans to get involved in the presidential race.)

5. Trump needs some message discipline.

Trump is one of the least on-message politicians in modern political history. Pence is his exact opposite: relentlessly on message at all times, to the point of boredom and frustration. Pence is also deeply cautious (watch his brutally tepid endorsement of Sen. Ted Cruz before the Indiana primary) and almost always looks (and looks) before he leaps.

Pence’s precision and caution will not fundamentally alter Trump’s I-do-what-I-feel-like approach to politics. But think about the alternative — as in former House speaker Newt Gingrich or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Both men have built political careers on their willingness to go off-script, to freelance, to “tell it like it is.”

Trump does not need another one of those on the ticket with him. He has enough of that trait himself to last a lifetime.

Above is from:

Monday, July 18, 2016

Commander Kelm’s view of Boone County Health Department

By Greg Kelm

Posted Jul. 17, 2016 at 10:00 AM

The Boone County Health Department recently wrote a check for $2,485 to the VFW/Boone County Veterans Club for food-service permit fees with which they had been wrongly charged since 2008.
Now, the Health Department again wants to charge all of the nonprofits in Boone County.
About eight weeks ago, I asked for the last three years of wrongly charged food-service permit fees, totaling $1,260 ($470, $395 and $395) to end this matter. Sherry Branson, a board member for the Boone County Board and the Boone County Health Department, countered with $412 to settle it.
At the last Health Department board meeting, I firmly asked the board to pay what it owed the club — $2,485 — or the club would hire counsel. And if it won, members would ask for not only the $2,485 since 2008, but for attorney fees and court costs. I was contacted later that day and told that a check for $2,485 would soon be in the VFW's hands. When countered, the Health Department board topples like a house of cards. At our VFW Post meeting June 13, the VFW decided it will donate the $2,485 back to the nonprofits in the community within the next 90 days.
Since 2006, our food permit fees at the VFW have increased more than 522 percent. The VFW paid $450 for a food permit in 2015; McDonald's & Burger King paid $205 per year; Belvidere Ace, $120; Subway Gateway, $205; The Brick, $240; Buchanan Street Pub, $140; Buchanan Street Bar and Grill, $450; Tropical Oasis, $260; Pizza Hut, $240; Maria's Pizza, $450; Arby's, $450; and Starbucks, $240. The fees are all over the place with no rhyme or reason.
When I asked the Health Department why there was a more than 100 percent difference in fees between the VFW and McDonald's, I was told that the VFW was considered “high risk.” Again, I would like to point out that the McDonald's fee is $205 and Belvidere Ace is $120. One sells food 24/7 (McDonald's), the other sells soda and candy bars and gives away popped popcorn (Ace Hardware).
Now, the Health Department wants all nonprofits to pay fees. The sky is falling and the Health Department says, "We are in the red. We need more money. We need more fees, now!"
My concern is, if you have budget problems, why, in 2013, did you, the Health Department, give your staff $56,000 in wage increases? In three years, that raise has grown to more than $168,000. It is reported that Cindy Frank gave herself a 55 percent pay increase. I am curious if this was really true? I know we all dream of a “cushy” lifetime, an 8-to-5 government job with most weekends and all major holidays off, and raises to our own pay whenever we can. But in the real world outside of government that does not happen.

The Health Department now proposes hiring an administrator for $90,675 in 2017. Boone County Health Department, hello, have you ever heard of truly working to have a balanced budget in place? Maybe you need to combine some jobs or have some layoffs so you can then be in the black. All of your money comes from local, state or federal taxes, (grants) our money.

Maybe everyone needs a 10 percent pay decrease at the Health Department. But please leave the churches, the granges, youth baseball and all of the volunteer organizations of Boone County alone. They give so much back into our county.
The 2015 annual report stated that the Health Department had a budget of more than $1.1 million dollars. Eighty-eight percent was used for salaries and benefits for staff. Again I say, hello? Is anybody out there?
Health Department: Is it true that year after year you have more than $500,000 in untapped grant money? Are you keeping this for future pay increases?
Greg Kelm has been the commander of VFW Post 1461 Belvidere since 2006; president of the Boone County Veteran's Club since 2006; and commissioner of the Veteran's Assistance Commission of Boone County recognized 12-12-12 by Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Please feel free to contact him at



Above is from:

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Koch brothers are Pence fans, but not enough to support Trump


The Koch brothers are Pence fans, but not enough to support Trump

Politics Peter Overby · NPR · Jul 15, 2016

Mike Pence, newly chosen as Donald Trump's running mate, has a strong following among social conservatives for his stands on Planned Parenthood, gay marriage and other hot-button issues.

Less noticed are his ties to low-taxes, small-government conservatives. Pence has well-established connections to the politically powerful armada of tax-exempt groups led by the billionaires David and Charles Koch.

The ties are deep. But so far, they don't seem likely to bring badly needed Koch money into the presidential race.

Two years ago, Pence made a one-day trip to Dallas, for two quick appearances at the Defending The American Dream Summit, the annual grassroots convention organized by Americans For Prosperity. AFP is the primary front-line group in the Koch network, and this was just one of several appearances Pence has made at AFP events.

"The reason I got on that airplane and am standing before all of you today ... is to simply say thanks," he said in Dallas. When his tax-cut proposal stalled in the Indiana legislature, he said, "AFP of Indiana at a critical moment in that debate came alongside our administration and informed the people of Indiana. And we put together an income tax cut and a tax cut package that was the largest state tax cut in Indiana history. And AFP made a difference."

There's something of a revolving door between Pence's office and Koch offices. When Pence was in Congress, his chief of staff was Marc Short, who later became president of Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce. Freedom Partners serves a central office of the Koch network. Pence's congressional press aide, Matt Lloyd, went on to become communications director for Koch Industries. Then Lloyd returned to Gov. Pence as a deputy chief of staff.

These connections have roots. Pence and the Kochs have inhabited the same political world since at least 1991, when he became president of the newly organized Indiana Policy Review Foundation. It was one of many state-level conservative think tanks, in a national network funded in part by Koch family foundations.

None of this, however, seems likely to help the woefully underfinanced Trump-Pence campaign.

The Koch network once expected to spend nearly $900 million in the election cycle. Not anymore. Most significantly, David and Charles Koch refused to back Trump for president. Instead, Koch network money and energy are going to protect the Republicans' vulnerable Senate majority.

When the Trump campaign confirmed that Pence would be the VP pick, there was speculation that he could yet pry loose some of the Koch millions. Freedom Partners spokesman James Davis cut off the speculation with a terse email statement: "We are not engaging in the presidential. Our focus will remain on the Senate."

Above is from:

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Fiat Chrysler's Belvidere plant gets $350M, 300 jobs to retool for Jeep Cherokee

By Adam Poulisse
Staff writer

By Brian Leaf
Staff writer

Posted Jul. 14, 2016 at 4:18 PM
Updated Jul 14, 2016 at 8:45 PM


BELVIDERE — A $350 million investment and 300 new jobs are coming to Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s plant here as the company retools for Jeep Cherokee production.
Fiat Chrysler made the announcement at 4 p.m. today.
The plant now produces Dodge Dart, Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot models. Production of Darts will end in September, and Compass and Patriot production will cease in December.
Speculation that the Jeep Cherokee would move to Belvidere started last fall. Automotive News reported that Cherokee production would be phased out at a plant in Toledo, Ohio. In May, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said in Turin, Italy, that the hot-selling Cherokee would be made in Belvidere.
Fiat Chrysler is betting that gas prices remain low in coming years. So it is investing in trucks and SUV production instead of smaller vehicles. Last year 220,000 Jeep Cherokees were sold. Marchionne said in May that he chose Belvidere because he needed a plant that could produce 300,000 cars a year.
The announcement "sounds extremely significant," Boone County Administrator Ken Terrinoni said, and it's "most appreciated having that kind of investment in the community."
Fiat Chrysler says the 5 million-square-foot Belvidere plant employs 4,500 people.
Companies that supply parts and components for the Belvidere plant, clustered in commercial spaces in and around the plant, employ hundreds more. They operate in warehouses that schedule parts shipment to coincide with vehicle production.
The model change will mean a change in the supplier base and a scramble for real estate for inbound suppliers.
"There has been a lot of interest in Boone County and the Belvidere area from companies that normally supply Fiat Chrysler US," said Jarid Funderburg, executive director of Growth Dimensions, the economic development agency for Belvidere and Boone County.
"I think that is anticipated with any line change."
Funderburg said much of the real estate shopping has been done by site selectors hired by companies to find them property or buildings or both.
"If they can’t find a good home in Belvidere, I sure hope they find it as close as possible in Winnebago County," he said.
The auto assembly plant is a regional economic powerhouse.
Jimsi Kuborn, vice president of investor relations for the Rockford Area Economic Development Council, said a government study found that for every 100 jobs created at the Belvidere plant, 46 additional second- and third-tier jobs are created. And every $1 million in output at the plant results in $322,000 output by other industries in the region
"It’s a great win for Belvidere and Boone County," said Kuborn, who noted 55 percent of plant employees live in Winnebago County.


- Boone County Board Chairman Bob Walberg said he's looking forward to what Chrysler's investment will bring to the county and region.

"Typically, all the (employees) don't reside in Belvidere or Boone County. We should get a significant portion of (them)," Walberg said. "It'll certainly add to our community. They'll be bringing paychecks home to spend in our community."

Above is from:

New interesting fact regarding GLB RR’s main railyard




SOAPBOX: 'A profit-making scheme at the expense of taxpayers and landowners'

  • Jason Kokos
  • Updated 13 hrs ago
  • 0

There is a looming threat to our county that many are unaware of. It would mean the destruction of the community of Sumner Township in Kankakee County.

Residents would be forced from their homes and their land. A church, two cemeteries, and 15,056 acres of farmland and homes would be taken, and we aren't even being told what that 15,056 acres would be used for.

The Great Lakes Basin Railroad is a private speculative project that has no proven need or benefit to Illinois. Frank Patton, GLB spokesman, Frank Patton says the group will take land through quick take eminent domain and they want more than 15,000 acres in Sumner Township.

The proposal to build a railway from Janesville, Wis., to LaPorte, Ind. is a profit-making scheme at the expense of taxpayers and landowners. Various Chicago rail groups say it is not needed.

Patton, the voice of the project, says the proposed rail line would take a nearly 5- by 4.5-mile rail yard but refuses to explain why the project would need that much land. Something is being kept secret, considering the largest railyard in this country is fewer than 3,000 acres. This would make GLB's railyard more than five times the size of the largest yard in all of North America.

What are they planning to put in Kankakee County? We cannot afford to let a private group of investors take a major part of our county and use it for their profit at our expense. This time it is Sumner Township, but the next private group of investors may choose your township for a scheme.

One thing is for certain — they have dollars in their eyes, not the best interest of our community.

More than 2,750 petition signatures of concerned citizens have been given to Kankakee County Board members and our state and federal representatives. They also have been provided with research regarding GLB and a copy of *Great Lakes Basin Rail: News and Views."

A second edition of News and Views is available and was published sharing GLB project information in

a newspaper format. The website also contains information as well as the "Kankakee County Block GLB" Facebook page.

The GLB is trying to rush this project through so it won't be scrutinized at the state and local levels. We must educate and protect ourselves and the people who represent us must work to educate themselves and stop this pillaging of private land.

Above is from:

GLB RR: The No-Build Proposition




Opponents would send railroad down the 'no-build' tracks

Residents in three states have issued a legal broadside against the proposed Great Lakes Basin Transportation Inc. railroad as the federal agency overseeing train service closes its public comment period.

An attorney for Rock Against The Rail, a Wisconsin group, has summarized arguments that the 278-mile rail line would be an environmental and safety hazard providing little or no benefit to the Midwest’s transportation infrastructure.

John Bryant and Lisa Cosgrove, of Railed, the organized opponents in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties, said they support this final effort to stop Great Lakes. They said Great Lakes would divide local farms, create more dangerous train crossings and bring new risks of derailment and toxic chemical spills.

Frank Patton, founder and managing partner of Great Lakes Basin Transportation Inc., said the 18-page “Motion for Adoption of No-Build Alternative” is another rehash of the same objections Northwest Indiana groups have made to the Surface Transportation Board during months of public meetings and written statements.

Patton said the “no build” alternative is the standard request made by rail line opponents. He said the Transportation Board also could grant Great Lakes’ application with a range of conditions that could make the project financially feasible.

The public comment period was scheduled to end Friday. The board already has received more than 3,500 comments. The newly filed motion lists 80 government agencies, schools, elected officials and citizen groups opposed to the project, including 24 in Indiana.

Cosgrove said the motion also wants Patton to file a construction application that would specify exactly where the rails would go across Northwest Indiana. “Even now he says it is subject to change. Our lives are just torn apart by this,” she said.

The Surface Transportation Board has asked Patton to provide, by Aug. 29, alternative routes and detailed explanations of why they would more or less reasonable than the one Great Lakes prefers.

Patton has proposed a private $8 billion train line that would loop from LaPorte, west to Milton, Wisconsin, to offer freight trains a route around congested lines around Chicago.

The rail line could result in the closure of some rural roads and eventually allow up to 110 trains daily.

The newly filed motion states the tracks would split 728 fields, many of them belonging to active farms that would have to cross the 200-foot-wide right of way with farm implements and livestock. The tracks also would create 200 new grade crossings.

It states rail carriers have expressed indifference to the proposed rail lines and that improvements to existing lines around Chicago will allow them to accommodate heavier traffic.

Above is from:

Saturday, July 9, 2016

GLB RR needs more alternatives



The federal agency charged with regulating railroads has told Great Lakes Basin Transportation that it needs to detail alternatives to its preferred alignment for a proposed freight railroad around Chicago.

The Surface Transportation Board’s Office of Environmental Analysis instructed the company in a July 5 letter to submit alternative alignments — or explain why there aren’t any — along its 278-mile route from LaPorte to Milton, Wisconsin.

“We are proceeding to respond to the board’s inquiries,” railroad counsel Michael Blaszak said Thursday.

The Great Lakes Basin Rail Line would serve as a bypass around Chicago, where congestion can cause a freight-rail trip through the city to take as long as 30 hours, according to the company.

The letter, signed by agency Director Victoria Rutson, said that more than 3,500 comments have been submitted regarding the proposed project since scoping meetings were held this spring. Comments will continue to be received through Friday.

Many of the comments suggest alternative alignments, according to Rutson’s letter.

“The alternatives include using underutilized rail routes and existing transportation corridors that, in the commenters’ view, could minimize impacts to farms, homes, and businesses that would result from construction of the GLBT’s proposed route,” Rutson wrote.

The Porter County Commissioners, who have registered their opposition to the railroad, are scheduled to discuss an alternate route at their 1 p.m. meeting Tuesday. The agenda includes a presentation by Bob Cauffman, a member of a citizens group fighting the railroad.

Railroad Chairman Frank Patton and President Jim Wilson have said throughout the early stages of the planning process that Great Lakes Basin Transportation’s intent is to minimize the railroads impact on property owners along its route.

“We definitely want to be good neighbors,” Wilson told The Times Editorial Board in May.

The alternatives GLBT will submit to the Surface Transportation Board will be included in a draft Environmental Impact Statement, the next step in the planning process.

Environmental impact statements generally include several alternatives — including a “no build” option — as required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

The environmental study can’t move forward without detailed alternatives, according to Rutson: “(I)t appears that consideration of one alignment may not allow the Board to meet its obligations under NEPA in this case.”

The Office of Environmental Analysis has given GLBT an Aug. 29 deadline to submit its study of alternatives

Above is from:

Friday, July 8, 2016

Non-profit food fees on apparent HOLD

The following is from Cathy Ward’s FACEBOOK and refers to Boone County’s Health and Human Services Committee of the Boone County Board.  This committee under normal circumstances must vote on the issue before the issue goes to the Boone County Board.

Cathy Ward

11 hrs ·

BOONE COUNTY - NOT FOR PROFIT FOOD FEES - Decision on the Health Department's request to add food fees for not-for-profit groups on hold for a while. Last night (Thursday) Toria Funderberg, Marion Thornberry and I argued at length against these fees but Health Administrators Cindy Frank and Bill Hatfield kept pounding on their need for more money from these fees (they would add about $25,000 to their budget.) I have long argued that the good these many, many groups here do , far outweights the money the health department wants. Committee Chair Jeff Carlisle said he needs lots more information before he will consider a vote on this highly controversial issue. Thanks, Jeff. Their proposed budget is over $1 million this year and includes a proposed salary for the administrator of more than $90,000. Lots of questions here need to be answered. If you recall the health department gave raises a couple years ago that were 55%, 33% and 13%. These have added to their increased budget. Amazing. Thanks to all that attended.

High turnover in Rauner’s Administration—what does it mean?


ILLINOIS -- Governor Bruce Rauner's administration hasn't gone on unscathed in Illinois's budget crisis.

In the first year and a half, around a half dozen top aides or agency directors have left their positions. While turnover can be normal in a governor's term in office, some of these departures have been anything but.

UIS political science professor and former Illinois Board of Elections director Ron Michaelson said it’s not a great sign when a number of key officials leave unexpectedly.

"This is quite a few replacements or departures I should say when you're only not only halfway through your term,” Michaelson said.

In a number of cases, the departures have been for greener pastures. Former Rauner chief of staff Mike Zolnierowicz left to help the Illinois Republican Party in the fall elections.

Not all goodbyes were equally as smooth,

The most chaotic of departures involved the governor's appointees for director of the Department of Agriculture Phil Nelson and state fair manager Patrick Buchen. The resignations came shortly after last year's fair when numbers appeared to be significantly lower.
Buchen publicly criticized the Rauner team for unprofessional behavior and accused his office of cronyism and interference. The Governor's Office said Buchen had been involved in threatening a staffer during the affair.
More recently and much more professionally, chief operating officer Linda Lingle resigned her post last week. The governor had put her in charge of transforming state government.
Michaelson said the state's budget climate has likely not been an easy one to work in.

"It certainly drains people who have been working on this night and day for weeks and months,” Michaelson said, “And to have a result like we had which is an imperfect or impartial result can cause discouragement or disillusionment."
Lingle was one of two highly paid officials involved in helping fix the state financially. She earned $198,000 a year as COO.

Another official, Donna Arduin, was tasked with helping craft a budget last year. She was paid between $15,000 and $30,000 a month for about half a year in 2015. Arduin, unlike Lingle, was under a contract which the governor chose not to extend.

The Governor’s Office issued the following statement in response to this story.

It read:

"Like any large corporation, organization or governmental office there will always be turnover.”

Above is from:

Don Ellingson’s comments on GLB RR and a printed response




    Posted Jun. 29, 2016 at 3:01 PM

    This is a copy of a letter I sent to the Surface Transportation Board regarding the Great Lakes Basin Railroad Project. To nyone reading this who agrees with this, please send your thoughts to the Surface Transportation Board. Comments may be submitted to Several voices are much more influential than one voice. The deadline for such letters was June 15, but it has been extended to July 15.
    To the Surface Transportation Board:
    I know that you as a federal board has the power to OK or reject the application of the Great Lakes Basin Railroad Project. Neither I, nor anyone else, knows what your decision will be. However if, and I said if, you decide that the railroad project can go forward, I have one imperative suggestion that you should require of the group planning the railroad.
    That suggestion is: All the crossings of roads and railroads must be an overpass. At first mention this may shock you, but if you give it real serious thought, I think you will agree. It sounds extreme, but, yes, I said all of the crossings. Some crossings today may seem insignificant, but who knows about a few years from now. Once a railroad is built, changes are rare. This will cost a lot of money, but it is worth it.
    Crossing accidents between trains and cars, trucks and buses are not real common, but they are still too common and usually result in fatalities. As the number of trains and highway traffic increases, the chances of accidents and fatalities also increases. And everyone knows that traffic will increase as the years go by and the population grows.
    The railroad project is not planned for the past 100 years. It is planned for the next 100 or more years. I said it would be costly, but spread over 100 or more years it is not so costly. If one, five, 10 or more lives are lost, what is the cost?
    If, as in the past when all crossings had waiting times, it would not only be a great inconvenience for thousands of motorists and vehicles on the highways, but for the fire trucks on the way to fight a fire, or an ambulance rushing to help someone in dire need or rushing someone to the hospital.
    Remember, population is ever increasing or you would not be considering new railroads, but so is traffic. No one can predict what the increase will be in the long-term future, but you can be confident it will be a great amount.
    One final thought — overpasses will not only guarantee safety, but also help to prevent noise. Instead of a train whistle at every crossing, which could be almost nonstop, the area would be reasonably and peacefully quiet.

    Please think long and seriously about this — the future safety of many depends on it.

    — Donald Ellingson, Poplar Grove
    • Posted Jul. 6, 2016 at 10:00 AM

      In response to the July 3 “My View,” titled “Overpass for the GLB Railroad”: First and foremost, the information we have seen about the proposed Boone County route shows absolutely no benefit to Boone County.
      As to Mr. Ellingson’s proposal for an overpass at every county road crossing, very diabolical! Great Lakes Basin Transportation Inc. is considering the Boone County route because the Winnebago route would cost $1 billion more due to environmental issues that have to be addressed. An overpass at every road crossing in Boone County would easily add $1 billion to the cost, plus, years of construction delays — not so brilliant! If there is one positive about the GLB issue, it is that the Boone County board finally realizes the value of our prime farmland and the county’s comprehensive plan. Add to this the fact that an overpass at every crossing would probably destroy twice as much farmland. Further, has there been an estimate of the cost of raising the six-lane Interstate 90 to cross over the proposed GLB track? This would not be at the expense of Illinois taxpayers. Right? — Richard Gadke, Capron

    Thursday, July 7, 2016

    Cathy Ward’s Update on food permits for not for profits

    Cathy Ward

    20 hrs ·

    BOONE COUNTY NOT-FOR-PROFITS FOOD PERMITS - Fee hikes for not-for-profit food events are not expected to be voted on at the monthly Boone County Board Health Committee meeting Thursday (July 7) , Health Committee Chair Jeff Carlisle said today (Tuesday). The Health Board, by a vote of 8-1, approved seeking fees for all not-for-profits last week, but Carlisle wants more time to review their proposal. Good news. I have been opposed to this for years, but it keeps coming back from the health board. Carlisle voted against the proposed hikes a few months ago, too. To be approved, the majority of the full board must approve this proposed hike. Unless other county board committee members push for approval, it will not come before the full board this month. I will continue to oppose this.

    Above statement is from FACEBOOK

    Monday, July 4, 2016

    Boone County opposes GLB RR

    Jim Dayton

    Illinois county votes to oppose proposed railroad

    Thursday, June 30, 2016



    BELVIDERE, ILL.--Boone County, Illinois, has joined six other counties in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin in opposing the proposed Great Lakes Basin Railroad, according to the Rockford Register Star.

    The county board's resolution, approved during a special meeting Wednesday, says the proposed line “would cut across prime farmland in Boone County.”

    Great Lakes Basin Transportation wants to build a 275-mile railroad line that would begin near Milton, run south around Chicago and connect to La Porte, Indiana. The project would “expedite freight movements across the nation and … provide additional capacity for growing railroad traffic,” according to the company's website.

    Boone County joins Wisconsin's Rock County, Indiana's Lake and Porter counties and Illinois counties Grundy, LaSalle and Lee in opposition to the rail line. Three counties in Illinois and one in Indiana along the proposed route have so far taken no action.

    Above is from:


    Bill Brietsprecher questions Newhouse’s anti-GLB RR position

    Email from June 30.  Mr. Brietsprecher has circulated numbers anti-GLB RR articles and other submissions

    Julie Newhouse & Illinois Farm Bureau recently released a statement on
    eminent domain -- it does have some important stuff, BUT do not count on
    her or the bureau as meaningful allies.
    Boone County Chair Bob Walberg, according to good sources I have, is who
    brought Frank Patton's GLBT RR over from Winnebago as proposed earlier.
    While some say it is the Sugar River and wetlands that created this move,
    this is not true.  There is no real difference between wetlands on the
    west edge of Winnebago and the east edge of Boone and it is laughable to
    state otherwise.  I am sourcing this story and will publish if we print an
    August Greal Lakes Basin Rail: News & Views.
    Julie Newhouse is tight with Walberg -- she has repeatedely insisted
    directly to me that Walberg is against GLBT!  That is a lie, she knows it,
    and you know it too.  Walberg, at advise from his attorney, abstained from
    voting -- but he jacked the resolution around for many weeks and even
    tried to prevent Toria Funderberg from speaking last night.
    I met Walberg in April and it was clear to me he was going to do what he
    could to promote GLBT.  The only reason his attorney would tell him to
    abstain from voting on anything is because he has a serious conflict of
    interest which potentially would make it criminal (Remember, he invited
    GLBT to Boone and said he could get the county to approve).
    Walberg and the Newhouse families own lots of land and will make fortunes
    selling out to Patton at a premium (probably MORE than $20,000 per acre),

    which would help GLBT buy the rest of the property for minimal market
    value -- probably no more than $5,000 per acre.
    Julie Newhouse is not on our side and, like Walberg, will play a game to
    appear to be listening to us while undermining our work.  The Farm Bureau
    directly told me in April that they would take no stand on GLBT and would
    support it under certain conditions.
    I have seen people promoting a recent eminent domain article by the Farm
    Bureau -- it is not actually helpful and it will be a mistake to think
    that they will do anything meaningful to stop GLBT.  Newhouse is a board
    member and there is too much money to make selling less-powerful people
    If we do not stand together, GLBT will be built, not to reroute 25% of
    Chicago's through rail freight, but to get the most hazardous and
    dangerous carloads out of Chicago Metro and through YOUR community.  This
    will also allow the rest of the rail & oil industry to massively increase
    crude-by-rail shipments.
    Currently, no Class 1 carrier will admit this -- they cannot, because if
    there was a rail accident in Chicago Metro, they would be held responsible
    for shipping hazardous materials through a corridor they knew and
    acknowledged is unsafe and dangerous to tens-of-thousands.
    If GLBT is built, they may start routing crude along Patton's line and
    will have no choice if that is what the crude oil shippers demand.  If
    GLBT develops tank farms and a refinery in the excessive 25 square mile
    rail port by Kankakee, all crude coming to that would have to come through
    your community as well.
    Do not count on the Farm Bureau!
    Bill Breitsprecher


    By Adam Poulisse
    Staff writer

    Posted Jun. 29, 2016 at 10:32 PM

    BELVIDERE — Eleven of 12 Boone County Board members tonight approved a resolution that states the community's opposition to the proposed Great Lakes Basin Railroad.
    Board Chairman Bob Walberg abstained.
    After the meeting, Boone County Board member Cathy Ward posted on her Facebook page:
    "Finally. It took months to get our board to approve this resolution, but thanks to all of you who stood your ground for all of us. It helps a lot to have people come to our meetings. You do make a difference."
    The one-page resolution states that the $8 billion, 275-mile rail line slated to cut through Boone and several other counties in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana would "cut across prime farmland in Boone County." The railroad route was proposed to provide quicker freight rail surface and bypass Chicago.
    "Farmland preservation is the focal point of the Boone County Comprehensive Plan, which includes strategies and goals to protect nonrenewable farmland and natural resources ..." the resolution reads.
    The resolution will be sent to the U.S. Transportation Board along with a three-page letter from the county, which outlines objections to the project in such areas as land loss, safety, water quality, geology and soils, noise and insurance costs. The letter was approved during a County Board meeting May 18.
    Ward said the resolution was crafted because "the state's attorney told us it is a more formal letter of opposition."
    With the resolution, Boone County has followed suit with LaSalle County, Illinois, and Lake County, Indiana, two other potentially affected communities that have drafted resolutions.
    Rock County Board last month also approved an official resolution stating the 200-foot wide rail corridor would remove 570 acres of prime farmland, and would result in a $608,615 annual loss of agricultural production.
    Staff writer Chris Green contributed to this report.

    Adam Poulisse: 815-987-1344;; @adampoulisse

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    Would the vote have been 11-0-1 without the huge crowd?
    Cathy Ward

    June 29 at 9:05pm ·

    TRAIN TALKS - 11 of the 12 Boone County Board members voted tonight (Wednesday) to send a resolution to the feds saying we OPPOSE the proprosed freight train in our county. Chair Bob Walberg abstained. Boone County resident Toria Funderberg read a detailed statement of why this train is a bad idea for our county and suggested strongly that board members who have supported the train or have tried to stop discussion to this resolution should resign from the board. The board roo...m was full. Walberg tried to stop Toria's statement, but the crowd urged her on and she received loud applause after her strong statement. Finally. It took months to get our board to approve this resolution or even be allowed to discuss it, but thanks to all of you who stood your ground for all of us. It helps a lot to have people come to our meetings. You do make a difference.

    Green Bay area study on low frequency sound from wind turbines?


    Shirley Wind Farm opponents see ray of hope

    Doug Schneider, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin 8:35 p.m. CDT July 3, 2016

    A group of Brown County lawmakers has given initial approval for items sought by Shirley-area residents who say low-frequency sound from the farm's eight turbines is making them sick

    GPG Wind Turbines Buy Photo

    The Brown County Health Board declared the Shirley Wind Farm operated by Duke Energy Renewables poses a health risk to its neighbors in the Town of Glenmore, which is in the southern part of the county. (Photo: USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)Buy Photo

    GREEN BAY - It wasn't the definitive answer they were looking for, but people concerned about potential health impacts from the Shirley Wind Farm have been given a glimmer of hope.

    A group of Brown County lawmakers has given initial approval for items sought by Shirley-area residents who say low-frequency sound from the farm's eight turbines is making them sick. The committee is recommending the county seek an independent review of findings saying insufficient evidence exists to link the turbines to health problems, and that the county consult the state attorney general to clarify its rights in the matter.

    "There are concerns that our Health Department doesn't properly investigate the windmills," said Guy Zima, who with fellow Supervisor Patrick Evans is pushing for the county to be more aggressive in assessing the potential health impacts of the wind farm. He likened living near the turbines, for some, to "Chinese water torture."

    Guy Zima, District 9

Green Bay City Council meeting Buy Photo

    Guy Zima, District 9 Green Bay City Council meeting at City Hall in downtown Green Bay on Tuesday, April 19, 2016. (Photo: Evan Siegle/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)

    Zima suggested forming committees, holding hearings and buying additional equipment for the health department as ways the county could better address Shirley-area residents' concerns.

    Some people in the Shirley area, though, believe the county should do more than Zima is suggesting.

    They insist that the county board should reject a December ruling by then-Health Director Chua Xiong that there is insufficient evidence to link the turbines and illnesses, alleging that it could have negative impacts well beyond the county's borders. They say Xiong didn't follow scientific protocols and delegated two much research work to an assistant they say wasn't qualified to do the work.

    "The consequences of this are are not just benign. And they are global," said Jim Vanden Boogart, who heads a citizens' group calling for more regulation of the turbines. "Wind developers are taking the decision by Chua Xiong and using it … Brown County's Health Department is going to be personally responsible for harm to public health across the globe."

    Some people living near the wind farm have complained of sleep problems, headaches, nausea and irritability and other issues they say are caused by the turbines and low-frequency sound, or infrasound, they emit. The farm's operator, Duke Energy Renewables, points to studies saying there is no clear link between turbines and the health issues claimed by people who live near them.

    Xiong resigned in March to take another job. Since her ruling, the county has discussed several options, amid debate about what to do next. Lawmakers in February discussed a proposed task force devoted to wind-farm issues — but saw the idea withdrawn a week after it was introduced.

    A recommendation by the county's Human Services Committee last week means the wind issue will next be considered by a second committee — Administration — which will consider whether the county should bring in an independent reviewer to examine Xiong's ruling. Human Services, meanwhile, will give the issue further consideration when it meets again in late July.

    At issue now is how much authority a group of lay supervisors might have to reject the ruling of a health professional. While several supervisors have indicated they'd like to overturn Xiong's conclusion, doing so might open up another can of worms, one of their colleagues warned.

    "You should defer this to next month and get a legal opinion … as to what you can and cannot do," Supervisor John Van Dyck said. "if you just look at this from a view that is one-sided, then the conclusion you draw is going to be called into question."

    The issue has even divided members of the county Board of Health, a panel that previously had labeled the turbines "a human health hazard." Board Chairman Jay Tibbetts, a retired physician, said last week that Xiong's ruling must be overturned.

    "I don’t believe this was done right, so it's important that it cannot stand," he said. "It’s going to harm people all over the place. It’s going to harm people."

    But new board member Jim Crawford said Xiong's ruling was "a wise decision."

    "To reverse her decision would be a step back to the voodoo of the Middle Ages," Crawford said. "The medical community does not support the infrasound theory. Neither should Brown County."

    Duke bought the wind farm in 2011. Electricity produced at Shirley, which can power an estimated 6,000 homes, is sold to Wisconsin Public Service Co. and follow him on Twitter @PGDougSchneider

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