Statewide update—Sept. 19, 2011

Daily HeraldState treasurer’s mailing sent to big-name donors, “This summer, the office of Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford sent a glossy summary of ‘successes’ to a select 850 state residents — a majority of whom happen to be major campaign donors to the Pontiac Republican. Rutherford, who party insiders say is strongly mulling a bid for governor, says it is ‘merely a coincidence’ that nearly two-thirds of the recipients of the slick mailer are also donors to his political campaign.”

  • Chicago Sun-TimesSome county commissioners say furlough days are for union workers, not them, “On Friday, Preckwinkle sent a letter to Cook County commissioners generically thanking those who were taking 10 days off without pay this year — part of a countywide cost-saving plan. But she also indicated she knew who hadn’t and was ‘disappointed by the decision of a number of commissioners who have chosen not to participate in this process.’…[Commissioner Beavers] went along with it until he started chatting with some other commissioners, and they decided the pay cut was ‘illegal.’ He’s referring to the Illinois Constitution which says the salaries of sitting elected officials can’t be increased or decreased during their term of office. That doesn’t mean Beavers and others can’t voluntarily give up some of their pay.”
  • SouthtownStarCountry Club Hills officials log $30,000 in cell phone bills, “With little oversight and scant record keeping, Country Club Hills aldermen have spent thousands of dollars on cell phone bills, charging taxpayers for multiple phone lines and cell phones for family members, a SouthtownStar analysis has found.”
  • State Journal-RegisterDebate over insurance premium for state retirees to resurface, “A key state senator said he will try to push legislation during the upcoming veto session that would require retired state employees to pay premiums for their state health insurance. Sen. Jeff Schoenberg, D-Evanston, said he is still working on details of the plan, but he wants to have something he can give lawmakers to study before the veto session starts Oct. 25.”
  • State Journal-RegisterState fair casinos in Delaware, New Mexico generating millions, “If Gov. Pat Quinn signs the gambling expansion bill — a big ‘if’ given the myriad of objections expressed by the governor to date — the Illinois State Fairgrounds would join at least two other state fairgrounds nationwide in having slot machines. The fairgrounds in New Mexico and Delaware have full-fledged casinos at the racetracks on their facilities. The casinos provide revenue streams that help those state fairs to be mostly self-sustaining, instead of depending upon millions of taxpayer dollars, as the Illinois State Fair does.”
  • Daily HeraldIllinois poverty growing as state help shrinks, “Department of Human Services budget by hundreds of millions of dollars, including $4.7 million for homeless services. The result is that many of the state’s poorest and most vulnerable…are left with fewer options and more uncertainty even as census data shows Illinois grappling with its highest poverty rate in nearly two decades as the jobless rate rises.”
  • Chicago Sun-TimesFraud case targets grants awarded by President Obama’s friend, “The indictment of a Chicago nurse accused of diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer funds for her personal use has turned a spotlight on an Illinois state agency that awarded her money while it was headed by one of President Barack Obama’s closest friends, Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, [the former head of the Illinois Department of Public Health], records show.”
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