Monthly Archives: November 2013

Rauner vs. public unions, for school reform

Much more is available from Bruce Rauner than what he said in River Forest last Thursday, among which is a long Chicago Magazine interview from last June, in which he tells what he’s heard on a listening tour:

There’s a business owner who has operations around the Midwest, and he said… “workers comp costs five times as much in Illinois as it does in Indiana and we’ve been quietly shifting our jobs out of Illinois… and hiring in Indiana and reducing our job base in Illinois….” . . . .

. . . . I met with a young man who works in the [Illinois] Department of Transportation…. He told me a few years ago when Blagojevich through executive order forced in card-check unionizing, some of the union members came to him, basically threatened him, and said you have to sign this card or else…. He felt pressured… and signed the card. Pretty soon they pressured other people in his department. They got 51 percent to sign the card, they were unionized, and I believe he said the pay went up immediately 17 percent. And he said, in his view, the work effort has actually declined since unionization and the cost went through the roof.

Another source is a Chicago Tribune op-ed from a year ago, where he flayed public-sector unions:

The most powerful political force in Illinois today, by far, is the government employee labor unions. They have contributed mightily to our state’s budgetary and economic chaos.

The bosses of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; Service Employees International Union; and the Illinois Federation of Teachers/Illinois Education Association are in virtually every legislative meeting, every budget meeting, every policy meeting in Springfield. They take their taxpayer-funded, government-collected union dues and funnel them by the tens of millions to politicians in both political parties. They use their vast membership to supply patronage workers by the thousands for political campaigns throughout the state.

A few weeks ago, he talked up education choice, as by a voucher program in a WIND-AM interview in a manner that “set himself apart from his GOP competitors” in the race for the governor nomination,” tying together

the issue of education choice with . . . criticism of teacher’s union bosses when asked . . . by Joe Walsh on his WIND AM 560 radio show. How does Rauner plan to support a school voucher program with a Democrat majority in the Illinois General Assembly and strong opposition from the teacher’s unions?

Rauner replied: I believe we can get it done in Illinois because there’s a significant number of parents around the state who want school choice. I’ve met with African-American leaders, Latino leaders who tend to vote Democratic, who want and encourage vouchers and have school choice.

He told in this interview of how he

formed a PAC four years ago, and got a piece of legislation drafted, that took away tenure for ineffective teachers, took away the teachers’ ability to strike in Illinois because its a nuclear bomb on our taxpayers, and it’s a public safety issue for kids, and put in a rigorous school accountability system.

. . . the bill [was] drafted, it was pending in the legislature, Madigan, Daley – it [has] bi-partisan support, and we lost most of the bill. And you know who fought us the hardest in the legislature in the end when it got killed? Republicans in the legislature who take teacher union money.

An interesting candidate.

Blue Line extension, expansion, whatever. Why wasn’t this mentioned?

In all the discussions about Blue Line this, Blue Line that, why did this never come up?

It’s her pet, raised from infancy.

Rauner the unions-slayer, Nov. 14 in River Forest

Illinois is “in deep trouble,” Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner told a River Forest cafe audience Thursday night in a gathering pulled together by committeeman Tom Cronin with an assist from Oak Park committeeman Linda Tibensky.

Go after government unions, for one thing, whose “bosses bribe politicians.” Gov. Quinn, for instance, while “not a standard crook . . . is inept and owned by government unions.” Unions have “bought [even] a number of Republicans.” To the unions Rauner would say, “You can’t bribe me.” He would limit collective bargaining rights if need be, as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker did. It’s “a key part” of his platform.

Another “big union issue” is the “right to work for government employees, which he called “critical.” No one, he said, should be subject to “forced membership” in these unions.

Local voters can decide this issue as affecting privatesector unions — a separate issue, he notedcounty by county. If union requirements scare off businesses, he said, the state “will suffer.

He intends to run the state “like a business.” He admires and would emulate three Midwest governors — Mitch Daniels of Indiana, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, and Rick Snyder of Michigan — and has gone to Indiana to study and learn from Gov. Daniels’ operation.

Rauner supports vouchers, charter schools, merit pay for teachers and removal of tenure for “ineffective” teachers. Asked about federally approved Common Core State Standards — adopted by 45 states including Illinois — he declared himself “not comfortable with” a program which he said gives the federal government a role comparable to Obamacare’s role in dispensing health care.

As to the state’s $100-billion shortfall in pension funding, he would “freeze” the current system and put all pensions into defined-contribution accounts — which measure benefits by what employer and beneficiaries put into them. As to pension abuses, he cited a “former mayor of Chicago” maneuvering for a $100,000 annual payment for life, school districts giving raises before retirement to boost pension payments with money “not in district budgets,” and similar behavior by the former head of the Chicago Federation of Labor.

Rauner’s approach would be to prosecute what’s illegal in these matters and seek legislation to end what’s unethical, all with a view to saving “honest pensions,” which are in jeopardy.

Action on term limits is “critical” to his program. He has “recruited” the U.S. Term Limits organization to come to Illinois and work to get 300,000 signatures, so as to put the matter on the November ballot — prescribing an eight-year limit on all state offices. He and his running mate, Lt. Gov. candidate Evelyn (Pacino) Sanguinetti will limit their own terms accordingly.

Sanguinetti spoke briefly. A lawyer and law professor, she is daughter of a Cuban-immigrant mother and Ecuadorean-immigrant father and currently councilwoman at large for the city of Wheaton.

Rauner told of his and his wife’s 11-year-old daughter, one of their six children, objecting to his running for governor, for fear of his experiencing the fate of predecessors. “Don’t go to jail, daddy,” she told him.

Quinn talks pensions when asked about tax hike – chicagotribune.com

Oak Park Republicans

The Guv, like Sen. Don Harmon, has something he’d rather not talk about.

Gov. Pat Quinn won’t say if he wants to keep in place the major income tax hike he signed into law instead of letting it start to expire at the end of next year, suggesting Wednesday that he first needs to gauge the impact of potential reforms to the state’s debt-ridden public worker pension system.

The Democratic governor, who is seeking re-election next year, has been using the pension issue to avoid talking about the volatile topic of taxes for weeks now. During a stop Wednesday in Springfield, Quinn was asked three times about keeping the income tax increase. He opted to discuss pensions instead.

There’s a difference, of course. Harmon would rather talk about anything but pension reform — green fuel, gay marriage, Eisenhower expansion, to name three.

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Chi Trib on Harmon, 11/14/13

Oak Park Republicans

Trib on Don Harmon as of Nov. 14, ’13

To keep interested people in the know on Oak Park’s senator.

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Don Harmon’s energy distracts from our fiscal crisis

Oak Park Republicans

As to Sen. Don Harmon’s zeal for clean power, as noted yesterday and the day before, consider this by Bjorn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center and author of How Much Have Global Problems Cost the World? A Scoreboard from 1900 to 2050 (Cambridge, 2013):

For 20 years the world has tried subsidizing green technology instead of focusing on making it more efficient. Today Spain [for instance] spends about 1% of GDP throwing money at green energy such as solar and wind power. The $11 billion a year is more than Spain spends on higher education.

At the end of the century, with current commitments, these Spanish efforts will have delayed the impact of global warming by roughly 61 hours, according to the estimates of Yale University’s well-regarded Dynamic Integrated Climate-Economy model. Hundreds of billions of dollars for 61 additional hours? That’s a bad deal.

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Oak Park renews security contract days after theft from garage | Oak Leaves

The board voted to renew Securitas, knowing nothing about the theft of 75 feet of copper pipe on Securitas’ watch. Village president Anan Abu-Taleb objected:

Abu-Taleb said he planned to review the issue with village staff and determine if Securitas did everything possible to prevent the theft. He also said he will ask staff why nobody mentioned the crime before the board’s vote.

“Why was it held back?” he said. “Was it held back intentionally?”

This is the sort of indignation that makes sense.

Dozens for marriage, not enough for pensions

Blithe Spirit

Illinois Democrats and three others have reformed marriage, badly in need of it of course. Now pensions? No.

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