Josh Turner about and Performing the Star Spangled Banner

Josh Turner talks about singing “The Star-Spangled Banner”

Josh Turner performs “The Star-Spangled Banner”

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IL Supreme Court Rules Health Benefits Part of Pension

The IL Supreme Court today ruled that retirement health care benefits within the State pension systems are to be considered part of pension benefits that can not be constitutionally diminished or reduced.

Paragraph 40 [Emphasis mine] ~ Although some of the benefits are governed by a group health insurance statute and others are covered by the Pension Code, eligibility for all of the benefits is limited to, conditioned on, and flows directly from membership in one of the State’s various public pension systems. Giving the language of article XIII, section 5, its plain and ordinary meaning, all of these benefits, including subsidized health care, must be considered to be benefits of membership in a pension or retirement system of the State.

Paragraph 55 [Emphasis mine] ~ Under settled Illinois law, where there is any question as to legislative intent and the clarity of the language of a pension statute, it must be liberally construed in favor of the rights of the pensioner.

The conclusion of the case makes it pretty evident that the so called pension reform bill passed in the last session is dead on arrival in the courts.

Paragraph 57 [Emphasis mine] ~ For the foregoing reasons, we conclude that the State’s provision of health insurance premium subsidies for retirees is a benefit of membership in a pension or retirement system within the meaning of article XIII, section 5, of the Illinois  Constitution, and the General Assembly was precluded from diminishing or impairing  that benefit for those employees, annuitants, and survivors whose rights were governed by the version of section 10 of the Group Insurance Act that was in effect prior to the enactment of Public Act 97-695. Accordingly, the circuit court erred in dismissing plaintiffs’ claims that Public Act 97-695 is void and unenforceable under article XIII, section 5.

For several years, myself and others have been advocating fixing the pensions for new or non-vested employees to stop the bleeding in the system while a plan could be developed to fix/fund the current system.  My compromise plan can be found here.  To date none of the legislators on either side of the aisle have been really interested in fixing the long term problem while solving the short term needs.  They continue to want a comprehensive plan which has lead to nothing but watered down solutions that now appear to be unconstitutional  They have now wasted many more years and have made the problem even more dire by their refusal to act appropriately. The all or nothing approach is far to prevalent in Springfield.

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Interview with Harris v Quinn Attorney: The Fight Continues

PamHarrisEven though Pam Harris, mother of a disabled child defeated the SEIU on Monday at the Supreme Court her fight is not over.

Attorney, Bill Messenger of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation argued her case before the Supreme Court. The ruling was limited in it’s scope to non public employees, in this case home health care workers.  These non-employees can no longer be forced to pay union dues.

There are 2 main take aways from this ruling from Attorney Bill Messenger are:

  1. Non-public employees  cannot be forced to pay union dues, ie Abood doesn’t extend to non-public employees
  2. Abood is now on shaky ground and opens up further potential litigation

Note: You can learn about the 1977 Abood vs Detroit Board of Education summary here and court ruling here.

How much have these non-employees paid in so far?

Approximate AmountCare Givers Forced to Pay
2009 $9 Million
2010 $9 Million
2011 $11.5 Million
2012 $11.5 Million
2013 $11.5 Million
Total $52.5 Million

How many states does this ruling affect?

The ruling affects 10 states who currently are forcing home health care workers to pay these dues. Several other states have rescinded this practice. Michigan being one of them.

This ruling also affects 11 states who were forcing home child care providers to pay these same dues

Will Pam Harris and the other workers automatically get a refund from all the monies they were forced to pay?

No, they will have to sue to get their money back.  National Right to Work will assist them in getting back as much money as possible.

In addition, the automatic deductions will not stop. There still has to be action to stop them.

This fight is far from over.  Even though Harris and the other family members who care for their loved ones won the case, they still must fight to stop the monies from being taken from their support checks and they must fight to get refunds of the money they were already forced to pay.

You can read the full ruling here.

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Race Based Standards Leaving All Children behind

The Illinois State Board of Education has been granted a waiver to No Child Left Behind (NCLB) that will institutionalize racism in our public school system. How is the education bureaucracy doing this? The state is changing the standards students have to meet by “RACE”. Yes, each race will have a separate standard to meet over the time frame from 2011 to 2017.

Below are some of the new race based standards.  You can see the full breakdown at the ISBE website, attachment 17.

 

Grades 3 – 8 Reading Math
Proficiency 2011 2017 2011 2017
White 87.10 93.55 91.80 95.90
Black 64.90 82.45 72.10 86.05
Hispanic 69.80 84.90 80.70 90.35
Asian 91.20 95.60 95.30 97.65

As you can see even after 6 years, the standards still are not equal. The education bureaucracy has determined some races are not as smart or as capable of learning as others.  This mindset is pervasive in the public school bureaucracy. Not only has Illinois received this waiver, New York State is in the process of asking for this same waver.  How many other states are using race based standards.

Basing standards on race across the state eliminate the ability of students to transfer to a better school since all schools have these same standards. This traps the students in poor performing schools where they will receive a substandard education based solely on their race.

This type of separate and unequal education harkens back to the very reasons segregation of schools was ruled unconstitutional. The ruling, Brown vs Board of Education, took place 60 years ago and here we are again instituting raced based education to perpetuate and prop up the failures of our public school system.

We have a mindset problem within our public school system not a race based problem. The failures of our public school system can be laid directly at the feet of the teacher unions and administrators who have transferred astronomical amounts of money to legislators. These legislators then help pass teacher union friendly laws that do not help the students. In fact many of these laws hurt actual education. Standards like these are just excuses for more money and even poorer education outcomes for our children.

As the recent study by the Cato Institute shows, education spending has increased by 100% while test scores have remained stagnant. [See chart below] We pay more and more taxes, higher and higher salaries, only to continue to have far too many students who can’t read and write. Now we know why; race based standards.

ILeducationTrends

Here is an example of how students excel when given the chance instead of the constant face of “the soft bigotry of low expectation” as espoused by President George W. Bush.

St. Elizabeth’s Catholic School – Chicago Southside

If you look at homeschooling of black children, the racial achievement gap is virtually eliminated.  From the Black Home School:

On average black students who are home-schooled test at 82% for reading and 77% for math which is almost twice what their public school counterparts are scoring. You also don’t see many of the statistics of the racial gap scores when speaking about black children who are home-schooled. In the schools themselves there is a 30% test score gap between white children and black children. But when they are taught at home the gap all but disappears except for a small 5% gap in math scores.

They go on to explain why black students excel when homeschooled.

It is simple really. They are being given high expectations when it comes to learning and they are also shown love from their teacher. When students feel like they matter and know what expectations they have set out for them, they will do far better than sitting in a classroom. It is not often considered in schools that a student needs to feel loved and respected or else he or she will not learn anything.

As you can see from the 2 examples above. Money is not the answer. It is the mindset and the expectation that all children can learn.  This upside down mindset in the public school bureaucracy is what is causing the United States to continue dropping in international education rankings. We are now ranked about #35 when we use to be #1.

The more we federalize education with the likes of common core, the more our rankings will fall. The more we spend and increase the education bureaucracy while reducing local parental control, the more our rankings will fall. The more we lower expectations, the more the rankings will fall.

As the old saying goes, 100 years ago we taught Greek & Latin in schools, now we teach remedial Math and English in college. So, how do we fix education to return us to #1 in the world?

It’s rather simple. We must take the following steps:

  1. End the public school monopoly and allow true competition via Education Savings Accounts and parental choice
  2. Allow the local communities to vote on the opening of a local charter school
  3. Allow closed school facilities to be used for charter or private schools
  4. Raise the expectations of what students can learn
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Rauner Continues to Save State Money Just Running for Governor

On June 12th Bruce Rauner shared his blueprint for the start of reforming state spending.  Item #2 was a plan to sell the state planes saving the taxpayers $10 million dollars.  Today, Gov. Quinn announced $250 million in budget cuts.  As part of that plan, he is selling 9 of the state owned planes.

This is the second time this year Bruce Rauner has affected the deliberations in Springfield and saved taxpayers money.  Rauner helped stop the temporary tax increase from becoming permanent with his relentless statements on the issue and robocalls into the districts of vulnerable legislators.

Bruce Rauner is showing he will fight to cut spending, and lower taxes just while running for Governor.  Just imagine what he can do once he becomes Governor and has the veto pen in hand.

 

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Government Unions Join Democrats Againts Rauner

Last week it once again became crystal clear which side the government unions were on in the race for Illinois Governor.  The DGA (Democratic Governors Association) put $1 million into the Quinn campaign. In addition the teacher unions dumped in another $725,000.

UnionDOnations

What does this mean?  It means there is going to soon be a heavy dose of anti-Rauner advertisements on their way. Remember each time you see one, YOUR money that flowed to the teacher unions is paying for this.  And remember that the teacher unions are one of the main culprits in Illinois being the most broken state in the country.

 

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Employers Cannot Be Forced to Violate Their Religious Freedom

In a narrow 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that closely held companies cannot be forced to violate their religious freedom. The case is one where under the ACA (Affordalbe Care Act) aka Obamacare, HHS (Health & Human Services) mandated that employers had to provide insurance that covered abortifacients free of charge with its insurance coverage. Hobby Lobby and several other businesses filed this suit on the grounds that this violated their religious freedom in that they opposed anything that effectively caused and miscarriage/abortion as abortifacients do.

This ruling is limited to closely held corporations. Investopedia defines these in the following way:

Any company that has only a limited number of shareholders. Closely held corporation stock is publicly traded on occasion, but not on a regular basis. These entities differ from privately owned firms that issue stock that is not publicly traded. Those who own shares of closely held corporations should consult a financial planner with expertise in the tax and estate ramifications that come with owning this type of stock.

Despite the fact that its stock is listed, many transactions between major shareholders and closely held corporations do not receive the same preferential tax treatment as those of corporations with actively traded stocks. Deductions and losses may not be allowed in some instances for parties involved in these transactions.

This ruling opens up other possible lawsuits against violations of religious freedom as well. Recent cases that come to mind are does this affect businesses that do not willingly provide services in same sex weddings or celebrations.

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College of DuPage President Offers Quinn Election Votes for $20 Million State Grant

For the Good of Illinois has broken a bombshell story where the President of the College of DuPage offers Quinn votes in the upcoming election if Quinn will give him $20 million in construction grants.

“I needed to identify a project that would help release our state funding. My idea: a Teaching and Learning Center. Several Board members want to weigh in on the need for such a facility. I have  no problem with that; however, not being able to say how we would use the state’s money (perhaps no real need) could lessen our chances to break the money loose at this time  (the political moon is rising).”

“When I introduce Governor Quinn at commencement, I want to help our cause (getting the $20 million released sooner rather than later) by thanking him for his commitment in front of 3,500 people. There are many voters in our District. Please keep November 4 in mind.”

“Bottom line: I need some room to breathe on this matter so I can enhance the likelihood
we get the $20 million, soon.”

Dr. Robert Breuder, President of College of DuPage excerpts from email to Board of Trustees May 9, 2014

As you can see, the money isn’t even needed.  Dr. Breuder is asking the board for permission to just make up a project to get the money. In addition Breuder is going to make the commencement speech a political event for Gov. Quinn’s re-election.

You can watch Gov Pat Quinn’s speech from Friday May 16, 2014  and his introduction by Dr. Breuder starting at 59:26.  We now know why Breuder heaped 3 minutes of praise on Quinn.

GovQuinnCOD

UPDATE: So what do the Trustees think of this pay to play plan? They approved the new building on June 26th. Calls for comment have not been returned.

The Board of Trustees approved committing $30 million for construction of the Teaching and Learning Center, to be supplemented by $20 million in capital funding expected from the state.

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Breaking: Climate Change Blamed for Missing IRS and EPA Emails

PolarBearEatingHardDrive

The IRS and EPA have added new revelations about the crashed hard drives and subsequent missing emails. They now claim that global warming caused the rapid overheating and then rapid cooling within the polar vortex caused the metal in the hard drive to fracture. The fractured hard drives made it impossible to recover the missing emails.

An IRS spokeswoman stated, “The Tea Party had to be stopped. They are preventing President Obama from saving our planet with higher energy costs. People have to realize the damage they are doing to the environment and government workers. IRS employees won’t survive without their bonuses. They’ll be broke like Hillary Clinton or lose their nanny and not know how to feed their children like Michelle Obama.”

The EPA added additional information claiming, “It was so cold, staffers were pooping in the hallways because they were afraid they would freeze to the toilets. It isn’t a surprise the hard drives crashed as well.”

Note: Yes, this is satire and not real news.

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Cook County Judge Throws Term Limit Initiative off Ballot

From a press release from the Committee for Legislative Reform and Term Limits:

“Today we saw the entrenched special interests that fund and support the political status quo prevail, and the people of Illinois be denied the right to chose for themselves if term limits should be the law in Illinois,” said Term Limits and Reform Executive Director Mark Campbell. “We’ve always known that term limits opponents would use the courts to try to protect the failed status quo, and we’ve long been prepared to defend our initiative in the Illinois Supreme Court, which we intend to do. We are confident that we will prevail there, and the people’s voices will be heard in November.”

This ruling will be appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court for final determination if the people will be allowed to vote on this of if Madigan’s and the courts decide they want to remain in perpetual control.

UPDATE: The judge in this case was Cook County Circuit Court Judge Mary Mikva.

Bio:  Depaul University

Mary L. Mikva is a judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Chancery Division. She was previously assigned to the Juvenile Court, Child Protection Division. Judge Mikva has been active in judicial education, serving as faculty and part of the planning committee for the Advanced Judicial Academy and for Law and Literature seminars. She was a frequent presenter in ongoing training for judges and lawyers in Juvenile Court. She was the judicial representative on the DCFS Pregnancy Prevention Committee and a frequent speaker and advocate on delaying parenting for youth in foster care.

Judgepedia.org

150px-Mary-L-Mikva

Mary Lane Mikva is a judge of the Cook County 8th Subcircuit in Illinois.[1] She was elected to the bench in 2004, her current term expiring in 2016.[2]

Education

Mikva earned her J.D. from Northwestern University College of Law.[3] She was admitted to the bar in 1980.[2]

Career

Prior to her judicial election in 2004, Mikva was a partner at the law firms of Abrahamson, Vorachek & Mikva and Seliger & Mikva. She also worked as a criminal defense attorney (with Patrick A. Tuite & Associates) and a law clerk (to U.S. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. and U.S. District Court Judge Prentice Marshall).[3]

Judge Mikva’s Political donations from the Illinois State Board of Elections:

MikvaDonations

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