Economist says Illinois’ progressive income tax could exacerbate poverty, income inequality

“The U.S. economy was booming, poverty rates were falling across the country, poverty rates actually increased in the state of Connecticut. And 70 percent of that increase in poverty rates could be directly accounted for by the change to a progressive income tax in 1996.”

An economist from a nonpartisan think tank said poverty rates could climb if Illinois changes from a flat income tax to a structure with higher rates for higher earners.

— Read on

Posted in #taxation, Economy, Employing Disabled, Illinois, Illinois Pensions, illinois politics, infrastructure, political satire, politics, Pritzker, Roy F. McCampbell, senator durbin, senator Mulroe, Social Media, Taxation, USCongress, vote | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Will Legal Pot Work in the Workplace?

With recreational marijuana becoming legal next year, there are a growing number of questions still to be answered. Here’s what you’re probably wondering…

With recreational marijuana becoming legal next year, there are a growing number of questions still to be answered.

Among them, are how things will work in the workplace.

The answer? It will be on a company-by-company basis.

While smoking marijuana in a public place will still be off limits, it will be up to employers to decide how to handle and different companies will have different rules.

For some companies, and employees getting the job won’t care while other companies are going to be very concerned about it.

Companies will need clear policies about marijuana use.

They will need to make sure they have clear communication about the rules and put them into place quickly.

It won’t just be employers setting guidelines for use.

Any person, business or landlord can prohibit the use of marijuana on private property as the drug still remains federally illegal.

Those with pot convictions are also hoping the new law will mean a clean slate.

The governor could start pardoning those with past convictions for up to 30 grams beginning Jan. 1.

People have been held back due to cannabis offenses on their record.

Specifically in Chicago, where black men are being targeted for arrest, it is an opportunity to get their records expounded and with that, you can create new opportunity for jobs and inclusion.

Different companies will have different rules.

For some companies, employees getting the job, it’s OK. “Other companies are going to be very concerned about it.

Companies will need clear policies about marijuana use.

Make sure they have clear communication about the rules and put them into place quickly.

It won’t just be employers setting guidelines for use.

Any person, business or landlord can prohibit the use of marijuana on private property as the drug still remains federally illegal.

Those with pot convictions are also hoping the new law will mean a clean slate.

The governor could start pardoning those with past convictions for up to 30 grams beginning Jan. 1.

“People have been held back due to cannabis offenses on their record,” said Donte Townsend with Chicago Normal, a group that has been pushing for marjuana law reforms.

Specifically in Chicago, where black men are being targeted for arrest, it is an opportunity to get their records expounded and with that, you can create new opportunity for jobs and inclusion.

Posted in #420day, #taxation, Foxx, Health, health risk, Illinois, Illinois Pensions, illinois politics, legal services, Leyden, marijuana, Medical, mental health, News, political satire, politics, Pritzker, Rauner, referendum, robert martwick, Roy F. McCampbell, Social Media, vaping, weed | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Watch “Leyden 212 Presentation on Vaping at Leyden Parent University” on YouTube

According to the CDC, more than 3.6 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes over a 30-day span in 2018. That figure includes 4.9% of middle schoolers 20.8% of high schoolers.

See the Leyden High School presentation on “vaping”.

Posted in #420day, #madigoon, #mentalhealthmonth, #taxation, Crime, e cigarettes, East Leyden, Education, Elections, illinois politics, Leyden, Leyden High School Dostrict 212, Mannheim School District 83, marijuana, Roy F. McCampbell, Social Media, Union, vaping, weed, West Leyden | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Illinois police authorities will be in “a tough spot” when the recreational use of marijuana becomes legal on Jan. 1.

Illinois law-enforcement officials are “incredibly unprepared” for the potential upswing in impaired driving that could result from legalization of recreational use of marijuana.

That view of the impact of House Bill 1438 came from a Chicago-area police officer spearheading a pilot program to develop a roadside chemical test for marijuana.

Sgt. Brian Cluever, director of traffic safety at the Carol Stream Police Department, said technology to accurately check saliva for cannabis-related impairment and support driving-under-the-influence cases in courts is months and potentially years away in Illinois and other states.

And unlike alcohol, there’s no breath test for marijuana.

In addition, Cluever said it’s unclear how much it will cost and how long it will take to train more Illinois police officers on how to interview people and conduct field sobriety tests for marijuana. The field tests for pot are different from alcohol but still can be used to arrest and charge drivers with marijuana-related DUI.

Those various challenges will put police in a “tough spot,” Cluever told The State Journal-Register last week. “We won’t be ready by Jan. 1, 2020.”

His statements reflected many of the concerns raised by police, prosecutors and even the speaker of the Illinois House before and since passage of HB 1438 last month. The legislation would make Illinois the 11th state to legalize use, possession and sales of marijuana involving people 21 and older.

The work being done in Carol Stream to develop a non-invasive chemical test was described by supporters of the bill during debate in the General Assembly as a sign that technology is moving forward to identify and prosecute cannabis-related impaired driving.

But the saliva testing program that the Carol Stream Police Department began using in early 2018 for marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines, opiates and other drugs has slowed because problems with the testing equipment prompted the department to change suppliers, Cluever said.

Testing with equipment from a new supplier began only this year, and the equipment isn’t sensitive enough detect the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, down to the legal limit in Illinois — 10 nanograms per milliliter in saliva, he said. The equipment is sensitive only to 40 nanograms, he said.

Illinois’ legal limit for THC in blood for drivers is 5 nanograms/ml.

A trial of saliva-testing equipment in Michigan could detect THC no lower than 25 nanograms/ml. A February report on the Michigan pilot program said results were encouraging but that more study was needed.

“This is why I asked the legislature to slow down and get these public-safety components in place before the bill moved forward,” Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell said. He testified in front of lawmakers on behalf of the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association.

Concerns raised by Campbell and others weren’t enough to stop progress of the legislation, which is expected to be signed into law by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker so it can take effect Jan. 1.

Heather Steans, D-Chicago, chief sponsor of HB 1438 in the Senate, said impaired driving related to marijuana is taking place now, and law-enforcement groups probably will never support legalizing cannabis, so their request for more study wasn’t persuasive.

“I don’t think waiting is a compelling argument,” she said.

Legalizing adult use probably won’t lead to a “significant” increase in impaired driving, Steans said, so the wisest move would be to create a streamlined path for Illinois to implement the latest testing technology as it’s developed and, at the same time, fund more training for police.

The bill would create a “DUI Cannabis Task Force,” made up of lawmakers and representatives from the Illinois State Police, Secretary of State’s Office and advocates promoting civil rights and safe driving.

The task force would be required to make recommendations to the governor and General Assembly by July 1, 2020, on “best practices” in impaired-driving law enforcement and “emerging technology in roadside testing.”

Steans noted the bill calls for 8 percent of tax revenue generated by sales of recreational marijuana to be distributed to local law-enforcement agencies. Based on her estimates for sales, the 8 percent could total $4.5 million in fiscal 2020, $11 million in fiscal 2021 and up to $40 million a year once the state’s recreational pot market is fully developed.

Whether marijuana is making roads less safe in Illinois and the rest of the country is unknown. Also unknown are ways of measuring marijuana’s influence on impaired driving and fatal crashes, but officials in Illinois and other states say there are troubling signs that require more research.

House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, didn’t vote when the House approved the legalization bill on a 66-47 vote. He issued a statement afterward that he has taken no stance on the issue.

“The lack of adequate field sobriety testing that our police need to identify and stop impaired drivers remains of concern,” Madigan’s statement said.

Jim Kaitschuk, executive director of the sheriffs’ association, said police are worried legalization will lead to more use of marijuana and more people driving after they smoke it or use marijuana-infused edibles. Without a chemical test or adequate police training, some impaired drivers could go unpunished and remain on the road, he said.

“We’re already depleted with resources on the street,” he said.

A 2017 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration highlighted the challenges facing law enforcement.

The report said surveys show there was a 48 percent increase in the prevalence of drivers testing positive for THC at any level from 2007 to 2013-14, with 8.6 percent positive in 2017 and 12.6 percent positive in 2013-14.

At the same time, the report said the percentage of drivers testing positive for alcohol at any level declined from 12.4 percent in 2007 to 8.3 percent in 2013-14.

The report pointed out that the driving risks posed by alcohol use have been well known for decades, while “relatively little” is known about the risks posed by marijuana and other drugs.

There’s evidence that marijuana “impairs psychomotor skills, divided attention, lane tracking and cognitive function,” but “its role in contributing to the occurrence of crashes remains less clear,” the report said.

THC levels in blood are highest in people right after they finish smoking marijuana, and THC levels decline significantly in the next hour or two, the report said.

Experts say the THC decline can pose problems for police who want to take a blood test for THC but could face delays associated with bringing a driver to a hospital or summoning a phlebotomist for a blood draw.

There also could be delays in obtaining a search warrant for a blood test if the driver refuses to give consent.

The report pointed out more problems with police relying on THC levels. The few studies looking at the relationship between THC in the blood and level of impairment showed that peak impairment usually doesn’t occur at peak THC levels, the report said.

And impairment can vary by person at the same THC level, the report said.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety analyzed the available studies and said specific THC threshold levels for legal impairment “cannot be scientifically supported” even though the foundation is concerned that marijuana may be contributing to fatal crashes.

AAA spokesman Nick Jarmusz said there’s a mistaken perception in the public that marijuana isn’t as dangerous as alcohol when it comes to driving.

In Colorado, the number of DUI citations by the Colorado State Patrol in which police listed marijuana or marijuana in combination with alcohol or something else as the impairing substance increased from 12 percent of all DUIs in 2014 to 15 percent in 2017.

Legal recreational use of cannabis in Colorado began in 2012, and legal sales began in 2014.

However, Colorado officials said the state’s increase in police trained in recognizing drug use could have played a role in the higher marijuana detection rates.

“Training is key,” said Sgt. Blake White, spokeswoman for the Colorado State Patrol.

Cluever, the Carol Stream police officer, said police who are trained as “drug recognition experts” or who have gone through “advanced roadside impairment drug-enforcement” training learn how to spot the telltale signs of marijuana impairment that are different from indicators of alcohol intoxication.

The clues for cannabis impairment can include body tremors, dilated pupils and fine-motor exaggerations, he said.

Having a reliable roadside chemical test, as well as a chemical test that’s admissible in court, would only help police and prosecutors secure convictions, Cluever said.

The lack of a roadside chemical test makes training for officers even more important, he said.

“These people are just as dangerous, sometimes more dangerous, than the alcohol-impaired driver,” he said.

Posted in #420day, #madigoon, #taxation, cancer, Crime, e cigarettes, Elections, Health, health risk, Medical, mental health, mike madigan, News, politics, Pritzker, Rauner, referendum, robert martwick, Roy F. McCampbell, senator durbin, senator Mulroe, Social Media, Taxation, vaping, weed | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Illinois Pot Industry Buzzing With Union Drives—-Union Label on Weed

The marijuana industry is expected to generate thousands of high-wage jobs in Illinois over the next decade, and there’s a strong chance cannabis growers and sellers will be hiring union labor.

Legislation (H.B. 1438) legalizing cannabis for recreational use Jan. 1, 2020, includes language affirming labor neutrality. The bill, headed to the desk of Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) who’s expected to sign it, also specifies that businesses seeking marijuana licenses with the state must be given credit for demonstrating “a plan of action” to “engage in fair labor practices, and provide worker protections.”

While the proposed law doesn’t create requirements for the use of organized labor, unions including the United Food and Commercial Workers, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and the Service Employees International Union said they believe the labor peace language gives them a seat at the table as Illinois’ budding cannabis industry catches fire over the next decade. 

“This bill was a full acknowledgment from a bipartisan legislature, in both House and Senate, to say labor should have a role in this activity lifting up and building out our economy,” said Zach Koutsky, legislative and political director for UFCW Local 881. 

Pritzker announced he would sign the measure after it passed the House May 31. The first-term governor said H.B. 1438, making Illinois the 11th state to embrace recreational marijuana, would “have a transformational impact on our state, creating opportunity in the communities that need it most.”

Job-Creating Machine

By all accounts, H.B. 1438 will be a bonanza for businesses lucky enough to snag licenses and a job-creating machine for the state, employing thousands in new cultivation centers, dispensaries, and transportation networks. 

Cresco Labs Inc., one of the largest cultivators and retailers of marijuana in the country, estimates the adult-use cannabis market in Illinois will outpace the state’s current medical marijuana program by a factor of between 10 and 20. 

Jason Erkes, Cresco’s chief communications officer, said his company plans to quickly double its Illinois workforce from 300 to 600, open five new dispensaries, and expand its current cultivation and manufacturing facilities to accommodate a flood of new customers. The impact across all cannabis companies will be broader.

“Right now there are roughly 20 cultivators and 60 dispensaries in the state. All of those businesses will have to expand a lot more,” Erkes said. “Easily there will be another 60 dispensaries added that will need staff. There will be delivery services that need to be staffed. Sales forces will need to be built up to sell from 120 dispensaries instead of 60.”

He added, “and that’s just short term. The state will be issuing more licenses for cultivation and dispensaries long term.”

Labor Peace Agreements

Organized labor will have strong opportunities for organizing those workers under the licensing requirements laid out in H.B. 1438, Koutsky said. Companies seeking operating licenses would be given credit for adhering to “labor peace agreements,” by which the licensee couldn’t interfere with a union’s efforts to organize and represent workers’ interests. 

“You have seen this emerging as a standard approach in the states where this is happening,” said Koutsky, who worked with lawmakers drafting the bill. “So Illinois is in line with what’s happening elsewhere, but this is a significant step that Illinois is taking because it is the first state where this happened through a legislative process rather than a rulemaking or administrative approach.”

Koutsky said the UFCW would take a lead role organizing Illinois workers engaged in the cultivation, testing, and sales of cannabis products. That effort meshes with the UFCW’s national goals under its Cannabis Workers Rising campaign, which has organized more than 10,000 cannabis workers in states with medical and recreational marijuana programs. 

As a jurisdictional matter, Koutsky said the SEIU would likely have authority to try to represent security personnel hired in cannabis facilities. The Teamsters would have jurisdiction for workers transporting cannabis products and driving armored trucks, he said.

Posted in #420day, #madigoon, #taxation, Education, Elections, Finance, Health, Illinois, Illinois Pensions, illinois politics, marijuana, Medical, mike madigan, News, political satire, politics, Pritzker, Rauner, referendum, robert martwick, Roy F. McCampbell, senator durbin, senator Mulroe, Social Media, Union, vaping | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

States Attorneys Across Illinois Continue to Prosecute Cannabis Cases

A Montgomery cancer patient who ordered 42 pounds of THC-infused chocolate to his home in 2014 began serving his 4-year prison term Friday, expressing his gratitude to the judge for accepting a guilty plea on a lesser charge.

I happened to be at the Kane County Judicial Center for another matter yesterday and stopped for this matter.

Thomas Franzen, 37, was charged in February 2014 after postal inspectors intercepted a suspicious package, obtained a search warrant and waited until he accepted it at his home.

Franzen, whose attorney says he has been battling various forms of cancer since high school and was using the drugs to “self-medicate,” faced a punishment of 12 to 60 years in prison on charges of a drug conspiracy and cannabis trafficking of more than 5,000 grams.

If convicted, Franzen would have had to serve 75% of any sentence, meaning he faced a minimum of nine years behind bars.

Two weeks ago, Franzen pleaded guilty to felony marijuana possession of more than 5,000 grams and was sentenced to the minimum of four years; the top penalty was 15 years and he can have his sentence cut to two years for good behavior.

On Friday, defense attorney David Camic presented Kane County Judge Clint Hull with a letter from one of Franzen’s doctors stating that Franzen is battling stage 3 testicular cancer that spread to his lungs and a kidney. The letter outlined surgeries Franzen underwent and urged that he receive regular access to doctors and medication while in prison.

Franzen also wanted to express his gratitude to the judge for accepting the plea on the lesser charge, Camic said.

“Your health is really important. From that standpoint, I appreciate the documentation you gave (the court),” Hull told Franzen. “It’s a hard day for you and a hard day for your family. But my hope is you do what you need to do.”

Camic said Franzen was 220 pounds in high school when first diagnosed with cancer and now is down to 130 pounds.

“He’s really sick,” Camic said outside court.

After Franzen’s guilty plea, Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said members of the North Central Narcotics Task Force, a unit of the state police, searched Franzen’s home after his arrest and found “evidence of drug dealing,” such as ledgers, more than $2,000, a digital scale, hashish oil, paraphernalia, and receipts for packages he mailed across the country and Canada.

“In recognition of the seriousness of Mr. Franzen’s medical condition, our office reduced a 12-year mandatory minimum sentence to four years, of which he is required to only serve two years,” McMahon said.

He said the amount of drugs Franzen had was far in excess of what is deemed for personal use. “We did this in spite of evidence that proves Mr. Franzen is a drug dealer.”

Camic disagreed with McMahon’s assessment, arguing Franzen was reselling items on eBay and other online sites.

“My client was not selling drugs,” Camic said. “What he was selling was sneakers, vintage clothing, vintage toys and sporting goods.”

Camic said the criminal justice system is ill-equipped to deal with someone seriously ill who is facing a mandatory minimum sentence, such as Franzen. A mandatory minimum term is a lawmaker’s way of saying to a judge, “We don’t trust you,”

Posted in #420day, #madigoon, #mentalhealthmonth, #taxation, marijuana, Medical, politics, Pritzker, referendum, robert martwick, Roy F. McCampbell, senator durbin, senator Mulroe, Taxation, vaping, weed | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inflated Costs Boost Costs to End Users as Trucking Companies are Hit Hard by Increased Taxes in Illinois

Drivers aren’t the only ones frustrated with the increase in the Illinois gas tax, trucking companies also fear this tax increase could cost them thousands. 

Illinois lawmakers voted to increase the fuel tax, to pay for the $45 billion capital plan.That plan, known as “Rebuild Illinois,” will improve roads, bridges and other transportation projects. 

Currently the state collects 19 cents on each gallon of gas sold and 21.5 cents on diesel, but under the new legislation both of those rates would double.

Starting July 1, a gallon of gasoline will increase to 38 cents and diesel will rise to 45.5 cents a gallon. 

Dan Bost owns Bost Trucking Service in Murphysboro, a third generation trucking company, moving anything from landscaping products to household jobs. 

“They are destroying the state’s economy,” Bost said. “If they want to maybe increase it five cents or something like that, but to increase it 24 cents?”

Bost Trucking Company said their customers, that buy products like rock, can expect to see an added fuel surcharge on their bill. 

Bost said he thinks the increase in diesel will add an extra $20,000 onto their fuel bill for the year. 

“It’s good to be efficient but it makes it tough in Illinois to be efficient,” Bost said. “It’s just one more thing in the state of Illinois that  makes us uncompetitive.”

Brad Roberts is the operations manager at Shawnee Express in Herrin, another family owned trucking business in southern Illinois. 

Shawnee Express transports car parts and boats throughout multiple states. 

“In Illinois, the raising of our taxes is inevitable,” Roberts said. “The cost of the inflated prices will certainly find it’s way to the end user and to the store shelves and at the warehouses.”

Shawnee Express’ 75 semi trucks can hold anywhere from 250 to 300 gallons of fuel. 

Roberts said this 24 cent increase will cost them about $11,000 a month. 

“What’s frustrating to people is when they raise taxes and say they are going to go to one thing and then it doesn’t improve any,” Roberts said. “If the money is used for these purposes exclusively, then these up grades will be very welcome.”

The legislation also increases vehicles registration fees. 

Most drivers will see a $50 jump in fees, but for commercial vehicles like semis, companies will see a $100 dollar increase. 

Companies will get a break in a commercial distribution fee. Lawmakers voted to stop collecting the $400 fee starting July 1. 

Posted in #madigoon, #taxation, Elections, gasoline, Illinois, Illinois Pensions, illinois politics, Illinois Tollroad, infrastructure, mike madigan, News, political satire, politics, Pritzker, Rauner, referendum, Roy F. McCampbell, senator durbin, senator Mulroe, Social Media, Taxation, Transportation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Western Illinois University President Is Forced To Resign and Gets 2 Years of Paid Salary and a Professorship—-Don’t You Just Love Illinois Government !!!

Western Illinois University President Jack Thomas said his final day on the job will be June 30, 2019, ending a presidency marred by employee layoffs, declining student enrollment, and increasing tensions between the administration and faculty. Dr. Thomas made the announcement at the beginning of the Friday, June 14 Board of Trustees meeting in Macomb.

“At this pivotal time in our history, I believe the university would best be served by new leadership,” Thomas said, reading from a prepared statement to the crowd of about 200 people in attendance.

Under terms of his negotiated departure, Thomas will spend one year on paid administrative leave and one year on sabbatical.  He will receive his full $270,528 salary in each of those years. He will then have the option of returning to the classroom as a professor of English.

BoT Chairperson Greg Aguilar said Thomas brought the proposal to the board’s closed door meeting Thursday night.  The board gave unanimous approval Friday morning after reviewing and discussing the proposal.

Aguilar praised Thomas’ leadership.

“He met the board’s charge to keep the university’s doors open. He met payroll obligations and maintained the quality of the educational experience we provide here,” Aguilar said.

“We wish to thank Dr. Thomas for the leadership he has provided.”

Thomas received a standing ovation from many of those in the room after Aguilar concluded his comments.

Incoming provost Martin Abraham will serve as WIU’s temporary president until the BoT can choose an interim president.  The board will conduct a national search for Western’s next president.  No timetable was set for completing that search.

The Thomas Presidency

Dr. Jack Thomas took WIU’s top job in July, 2011, succeeding Dr. Al Goldfarb, who retired.

Thomas (seated) received a standing ovation during Friday’s BoT meeting.

Thomas came to Western in January 2008 to serve as provost.  His previous job was at Middle Tennessee State University – Murfreesboro, where he served as senior vice provost for academic affairs, interim dean of the College of Continuing Education and Distance Learning, and professor of English.

His personal page on Western’s website lists what the university considers his top accomplishments, such as the Western Commitment Scholarship and the Centennial Honors College Scholarship programs. He has also touted the President’s Executive Institute, a realignment plan announced in July, 2018, and the creation of 17 new degree programs at WIU.

Thomas served longer than the average college president, leading led Western for eight years. An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education cited a 2017 survey by the American Council on Education, which found the average tenure for college presidents was 6.5 years in 2016. 

Thomas was a finalist for leadership positions at a few other higher education institutions last year but he was not hired for any of the jobs.

Declining Enrollment, Program Cuts

The decline in student enrollment preceded the Thomas presidency, though his administration was unable to stem it or turn it around:

  • Fall 2010:  12,585
  • Fall 2011:  12,554
  • Fall 2012:  12,205
  • Fall 2013:  11,707
  • Fall 2014:  11,458
  • Fall 2015:  11,094
  • Fall 2016:  10,373
  • Fall 2017:  9,441
  • Fall 2018:  8,502 

Western was especially hurt during the unprecedented two-year state budget impasse under former Governor Bruce Rauner. Public universities received little state funding during that period, which started in July 2015 and created uncertainty for higher education across Illinois.

Western laid off 147 workers in May, 2016: 

  • 113 of its 781 civil service workers
  • 30 of its 679 faculty members
  • 4 of its 311 administrative/professional employees

Also in 2016, WIU eliminated four majors:

  • African American Studies
  • Philosophy
  • Religious Studies
  • Women’s Studies

More programs are currently under scrutiny.

“Without a doubt, I have had to make some difficult decisions, including ones that have sometimes been very unpopular but nevertheless were always made with the best interests of the overall university’s future at heart,” Thomas said during his remarks at the BoT meeting.

Campus Unrest

The past year-plus has been especially contentious at WIU. 

In March, 2018, faculty members held a “no confidence” vote on WIU’s administrative leadership team. About 65% of those who cast ballots voted “no confidence,” 33% expressed confidence, and a few ballots were invalidated. 

At the end of June, 2018, the administration laid off about two dozen faculty members and two other employees in academic affairs. Those let go include eight tenured or tenure-track teachers, one of whom is a Fulbright scholar.

In addition, the administration targeted 62 other positions for elimination. Five of the positions were already vacant, and the administration said the remaining 57 people were retiring from Western, had already left, or planned to leave for another job.

In August, 2018, the administration announced it was cutting 100% of the appropriated funding for Tri States Public Radio, effective March 1, 2019.  The announcement angered hundreds of people who attended the subsequent BoT meeting to denounce the decision. The administration has never explained why TSPR was chosen over other programs/services. 

At about the same time, Thomas announced administrators would no longer take furloughs, even though the furlough program was established to help save money for the university. The furlough program had been in place for three years.

In November, 2018, acting on orders from the Illinois Attorney General’s office, WIU released audio recordings that showed the administration and previous Board of Trustees repeatedly violating the Illinois Open Meetings Act by talking about budget matters behind closed doors. State law requires such discussions be held in public. The state ordered audio from more illegal meetings be released early this year. 

On March 1, 2019, Western laid off 132 employees, which was about 8% of the total workforce.  120 of the layoffs were on the Macomb campus:

  • 2 administrative positions
  • 10 academic support personnel
  • 27 faculty members
  • 81 civil service workers

The other 12 layoffs were on the Quad Cities campus:

  • 2 academic support personnel
  • 2 faculty members
  • 8 civil service employees

During the course of the past year, several BoT members resigned.  At the end of March, 2019, new Governor J.B. Pritzker cleared the deck, appointing seven new members to the eight member board (the eighth member is the student representative, who is elected by fellow students).

At the end of the 2018-19 school year, faculty remained unhappy with the administration. 230 faculty members completed the entire President’s Performance Survey Report (out of 478 who were eligible). On a five-point scale (with five being the high mark), Thomas received a mean value rating of 1.62, down from the year before. Among the other findings:

  • Nearly 69% strongly disagree that “Overall, President Thomas is highly effective at performing the duties of the President.”
  • Nearly 72% strongly disagree that “President Thomas manages the university’s resources well.”
  • Nearly 71% strongly disagree that “Regarding faculty, President Thomas’s management practices promote excellence.”
  • Nearly 71% strongly disagree that “President Thomas makes effective administrative appointments.”
  • More than 67% strongly disagree that “President Thomas fosters effective relationships with the UPI (University Professionals of Illinois, the union representing faculty).”

The cries to oust Thomas increased in late May after he fired Brad Bainter, Vice President, Advancement and Public Services, who graduated from Western and had worked for the university for more than 35 years.  Neither side has publicly commented on the matter.

Posted in #madigoon, #taxation, Chicago, College, Economy, Education, Illinois, Illinois Pensions, illinois politics, political satire, politics, Pritzker, robert martwick, Taxation, Western Illinois University | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Illinois Gasoline Tax May Be 43.5 Cents Per Gallon In 2025….Think About That…..

Illinoisans will see the state gas tax double starting July 1. But that’s not all: the tax will be tied to inflation, meaning it will automatically rise in future years so lawmakers are shielded from motorists’ ire.

Based on current inflation projections, the gas tax will rise almost a penny a year. Lawmakers bumped it from 19 to 38 cents starting in July. Their inflation mechanism is expected to drive the gas tax to 43.5 cents by 2025 — almost 25 cents per gallon more than now.

Posted in #madigoon, #taxation, Chicago, Elections, Finance, gasoline, Illinois, Illinois Pensions, illinois politics, Illinois Tollroad, Taxation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Willis Tower SkyDeck ledge cracks under visitors’ feet

Visitors to the Willis Tower’s SkyDeck got an extra scare Monday when the attraction’s protective layer covering the glass splintered into thousands of pieces.

— Read on

Posted in Health, health risk, Illinois, illinois politics, News, politics, Roy F. McCampbell | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
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