RichardWanke.Com

  • Attorney Desperately Needed!!!

    Since 2008, the murder of Attorney Gregory Clark has been the single highest-profile unsolved murder in Winnebago County, IL and an overall priority case statewide. Richard Wanke’s prosecution will now become the highest-profile criminal case prosecution in Winnebago County and be followed closely by regional, if not national media. It is doubtful that Richard Wanke has any chance of receiving an impartial trial in the Rockford community as he has been tried in the local media, in community electoral politics, and in the legal community now since 2008.

    Richard needs top-level, competent legal trial representation. He has past conflicts with the Winnebago County Public Defender’s office, so it will not be able to represent him. The conflict counsel representation available by Winnebago County is extremely limited and likely conflicted as well. It is critical for Richard to immediately find unbiased, conflict-free representation, probably from outside the Rockford legal community.

    Richard desperately needs an experienced private criminal defense trial attorney or law firm willing to defend him to avoid the further injustice of spending the rest of his life behind bars. We know that this is a financially rougher time for attorneys in general, but we hope that Richard can find an committed attorney to undertake his case because his is the only true protection the criminal justice system has available to offer.

    If there is the possibility that you can offer any assistance, please call Diane at (815) 980-6582, immediately! Thank-you!

    Click here to help.

  • Four Years of Injustice!

    Read our summarization of the events of the 5 year old investigation to date and our perspective as to why the allegations made against Richard Wanke, and Diane Chavez, are wrong. Please click on the tab on "Year Five: Where the Clark Murder Investigation Stands" in the top left center area of this page to read why we believe the investigation went astray and not only needs to be redone, but the charges against Diane Chavez also immediately dropped.
  • Richard Needs Your Help on Appeal!

    Richard is filing a post-conviction petition, and needs help. Please click on the "Help Needed" tab to read further. You can find all of his appeal court filings by clicking on the tab "Richard's Appeal Briefs.
  • Massive Clark Murder Investigation Fails to Link Richard or Diane

    Incidentally, the State's evidence comprising it's case against Richard and Diane (consisting of over 700 pages containing over 200 individual Rockford police reports and evidence summations) has been reviewed by an authoritative source who found nothing contained in that information which links either Richard or Diane to any involvement in Clark's murder other than the original claimed "witness reports" in February 2008. No DNA, no fingerprints, no weapon, no gunpowder residue, no questionable contacts, phone records, or transactions: nothing, zilch....
  • Why does this blog exist?

    On February 6, 2008, our friends, Richard Wanke and Diane Chavez, were arrested in alleged connection to the murder of a well-respected, local attorney, Gregory Clark. The vague scenario the Rockford police have submitted is problematic and more than five years later; the Rockford police still haven't been able to build enough of a case to charge Richard or Diane (or anyone else) with anything connected to the murder. We know Richard and Diane as gentle people; local community activists, who routinely participate in volunteer projects in the community. We hope, for the sake of our friends, and the family and friends of attorney Gregory Clark, that the Rockford police will rethink their current course and renew effort toward finding the real truth in this case.
  • How the Police Investigation of the Greg Clark Murder Went Astray

    The scenario on Wednesday, February 8, 2008, about 1:50 pm in the afternoon:

    The snow fall in Rockford, Illinois began the evening before and continued throughout the day. The snow accumulation was the heaviest experienced by the city in 10 years. The snowfall was so heavy that most businesses and all offices closed early or never opened, and for the first time in memory mail delivery did not even occur. At 1:50 pm, snow on the streets reached above car bumper level and visibility was poor.

    What happened: News media report that at 1:50 pm, attorney Greg Clark was home at his house in a quiet neighborhood on the east side of Rockford. According to the RRSTAR's latest summation of events from 2008: "A gunman springs from a van and opens fire, killing Gregory Clark, a Rockford attorney, who is clearing snow from his sidewalk." Clark was brutally shot in the back three times by an unknown shooter. He was pronounced dead at the hospital a short time later.

    News accounts and subsequent police action show that more than one perpetrator actively participated at Clark's shooting. Media reports show the police immediately focused upon Richard Wanke because of what they thought of him and not because of any of the evidence found at the murder site.

    The news reporter was told the next day that the police did not believe he shot Clark, but just that he was somehow involved. Subsequent questioning of Richard's acquaintances showed the police asking questions indicating they sought information about at least one other person other than Richard.

    Read the whole essay.

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  • About the Articles on this Blog:

    RichardWanke.com is written and updated by community volunteers. It's mission: publicity and assistance for the legal defense of IDOC inmate, Richard Wanke. This blog also features articles on topics affecting IL, IDOC, and IDOC inmates. Article information is gleaned from a variety of public media accounts and from other internet sources and reflects what we believe to be accurate. Readers are invited to respond and submit their own experiences.
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  • IDOC Early Release & Good Time Credits About to Change!

    If you are reading any of our earlier posts concerning All IDOC Early Release Programs, MGT, or Good Time, please be aware that the IL legislature has now passed new legislation replacing MGT to address giving inmates good behavior "sentence credit" which could release them early. However, the terms of who is eligible to receive sentence credit is more restrictive. Sentence credits have the potential to begin to reduce prison overcrowding, but have so far not been used to do so. IL now has a new governor who has expressed more concern with prison issues. We will wait to see what changes Bruce Rauner will make to IDOC and policy. You can read more here: (here)

    Sentence credits are more restrictive in accordance with the suggestions contained in the Erickson Report. You can read the Erickson Report and IDOC's official plan for implementing MGT (here).

    We will keep readers posted of any news or changes when these occur. We also urge readers to check these online sites: (ILprisontalk.com), and the (John Howard Association), for other information

  • Important Email Addresses:

    Send a letter with your thoughts or questions to Richard Wanke. (If you want a reply, you must include your name and a regular mailing address.) freerichardwanke@gmail.com, or snailmail (and it is slow):

    Richard Wanke, 20605 Winnebago County Jail 650 W. State St. Rockford, IL. 61102

    ____________________

    Express your frustration about IDOC, prison issues, or anything else to your IL State Representative or IL State Senator! Use this link to email them directly!: (Rep or Senator here)

    Send your thoughts to Congress!

    Thanks to reader prisonrightsadvocate, for letting us know of the following weblinks which you can use to directly email our US Rep, Don Manzullo and State Senator, Dick Durbin

    ____________________

    Send an opinion letter to the Rockford Register Star. (To be printed it must be less than 200 words, with name, address, and daytime phone number.) Opinions@RRStar.com

    Send an opinion letter to the Rock River Times. rrtimes@rworld.com

    Have you experienced problems with the Winnebago County legal system? Please write a short story about your incident for us to post. You can choose to add your name, or not. freerichardwanke@gmail.com

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Posts Tagged ‘illinois prison closings’

Governor Pat Quinn tries to hide behind BS!

Posted by mikethemouth on August 11, 2012


In our opinion, Quinn repeatedly shows that he is a hypocrite who is unconcerned about the physical welfare of his constituents despite his constant rhetoric to the contrary. Governor Quinn already, single-handedly, since he entered office has caused IL prison inmates and their families to suffer the most severe hardships in decades by first taking away  early release options, and causing severe overcrowding in state prisons during a time of short-staffing and deteriorating facility maintenance. State prisoners are enduring cockroaches, mice, sweltering heat, more and more frequent lockdowns, property confiscations, and reduced rations, but Quinn apparently does not want anyone to know about this or raise their voices to criticize the dire conditions! Nor, does he seem to want to move quickly to reduce the overcrowding and improve prison conditions. Now he is using misdirection to cite security concerns as justification for attempting to impose a news black-out to restrict public access to prison facilities in order to stop the public from finding out any more facts about just how bad state prisons are right now. Quinn claims to be a “democratic” governor promoting governmental “transparency”, but barring the press from the prisons and threatening IDOC staff whistle-blowers with legal prosecution and /or intimidation is nothing short of authoritarian “Big Brother” tactics and reveals just how resentful and insecure he is of criticism, no matter how justified it may be!

Gov. Quinn says journalists no longer allowed inside prisons

SPRINGFIELD — For years, journalists have been granted limited access to periodically tour Illinois prisons, but Gov. Pat Quinn Friday decreed the state’s lockups are off-limits to the media.

“I think that’s a fundamental policy that we will always follow,” Quinn said, citing unspecified security concerns voiced by top prison officials.

The governor, who often touts his administration as “transparent,” issued his decision in the wake of reports by WBEZ radio in Chicago that its reporters had been turned down numerous times in their attempts to confirm allegations of horrendous living conditions at the overcrowded, minimum-security facilities in Vienna and Vandalia.

The Associated Press also reported Friday that the administration declined an Aug. 1 request to visit Pontiac’s segregation unit, where dangerous inmates will be housed when high-security Tamms prison closes Aug. 31.

“We’re not going to have tours of Illinois prisons. I don’t believe in that,” Quinn said. “Security comes first. It isn’t a country club. I think prisons are there to incarcerate criminals. They are not there to be visited and looked at.”

The decision comes as the Illinois Department of Corrections is attempting to house more than 48,000 inmates in a system built to handle about 33,000 prisoners. The John Howard Association, a Chicago-based prison watchdog organization, has documented that prisoners are living in squalid conditions at Vienna and Vandalia.

Along with prisoners being packed into basements, common areas and gymnasiums not originally built to house prisoners, the organization found inmates dealing with infestations of mold, cockroaches and other vermin.

In July, a group of inmates at Vienna filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to improve the conditions.

While WBEZ reporters wanted a firsthand look at the situation, Quinn said top prison brass believe tours by reporters make prisons less safe for inmates and prison workers.

“I think it’s important that we listen to those who are on the front lines of the prison,” the governor said.

The policy switch comes after years of the prisons being occasionally opened for media tours.

In 1997, for example, more than 80 people — including 25 state lawmakers and members of the press — were given tours of the maximum-security Pontiac Correctional Center and the all-female Dwight Correctional Center.

In 2005, then-state Sen. Dan Rutherford, R-Chenoa, led a contingent of lawmakers and reporters on a similar tour of the facilities, giving the public a close-up look at how the facilities were operating.

In a statement issued Friday, Rutherford, now the state treasurer, said he was disappointed by the decision.

“For the governor to deny such access to a prison, and say we should just trust his administration with running state prisons is uncalled for and out of touch,” Rutherford said. “State prisons are taxpayer funded and may be posing safety threats not just to prison staffers and inmates, but also to communities.”

The move to limit access to facilities apparently began earlier this year when state Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, was barred from entering the Murphysboro youth prison in his district. He later was allowed entry after news reports highlighted the incident.

Luechtefeld said the new policy is likely more of a way to avoid bad publicity than a safety issue.

“It’s probably a lot about politics,” Luechtefeld said Friday.

The Quinn administration also is cracking down on prison employees talking with the news media. State police investigators were at Tamms Correctional Center last week, reportedly probing the leak of information obtained by the Lee Enterprises Springfield Bureau regarding a plan to ship some dangerous inmates to out-of-state prisons if Quinn gets his way and closes the state’s lone “supermax” facility.

A top prison official also sent a letter to the Lee bureau suggesting that if the names of the inmates being considered for out-of-state placement were printed, guards and inmates could be in danger.

“If you proceed to disclose any information in your possession on this subject beyond yourself, the department will view your actions as attempting to promote disorder within the prison system,” wrote Jerry Buscher, executive chief of the Illinois Department of Corrections.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, which represents prison employees, slammed Quinn for the decision.

“Instead of making prisons more crowded and dangerous, and silencing employees and journalists who blow the whistle, the governor should truly listen to what’s best for public safety and those who serve. Like legislators, prison employees are telling him to rescind his closures, layoffs and reckless inmate transfers at once,” the union said in a statement.

Posted in IDOC, IL in Fiscal Ruins | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

“…state’s dangerously overcrowded prisons have no margin for error.”

Posted by tennesseetree on July 2, 2012


Governor Pat Quinn just signed the State budget cuts and still plans to close prisons despite IDOC inmate overcrowding, poor prison conditions and now natural disaster strikes due to weather conditions! What’s next?

Storm damage forces inmate transfer from Dixon

“…SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Storm damage forced the transfer of dozens of maximum-security, mentally ill inmates Saturday, leaving the Dixon prison locked down with emergency generators providing power and prompting the correctional workers’ union to raise more questions about the practicality of Gov. Pat Quinn’s plan to close penitentiaries in a severely crowded system.

The Department of Corrections transferred 78 inmates from Dixon to segregated cells at the maximum-security Pontiac Correctional Center after severe weather that rolled through north-central Illinois Friday night ripped up roofs and caused other “significant” damage, spokeswoman Stacey Solano said…”

Posted in Early Release, IDOC, IL in Fiscal Ruins | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Quinn Tells Legislators he Wants to Use Prison Money to Save Children; so Stop Complaining!

Posted by smallmouth63 on June 30, 2012


The IL Senate sent the official budget bills to Governor Pat Quinn yesterday, and Quinn is now announcing that he want to going to go ahead and move money from the IL corrections budget to avoid cuts to DCFS.

Quinn to cut prison funding in hopes of helping DCFS

Quinn has angered a lot of state representatives, particularly downstate reps by what they perceive is a threat to continue to close prison facilities in an attempt to manipulate them into agreeing to pension reform. However, Quinn’s announcement today that he wants to go ahead to close facilities in order to save an already overburdened IL Department of Children and Family Services from additional cuts puts pressure on state legislators to quell their protests due to the dire shape that DCFS is already in:

The $33.7 billion budget landed on the governor’s desk Friday, and he plans to act on it Saturday morning. Quinn told the Tribune he plans to veto spending lawmakers dedicated to several prisons he plans to close.

The administration says it will shut the supermaximum prison near Tamms in far southern Illinois, the Dwight Correctional Center in central Illinois and juvenile justice centers in Joliet and Murphysboro. Two transitional centers for inmates will close, but the administration has reversed course and plans to leave open one on Chicago’s West Side.

“…About half of the lawmakers’ cut would force the agency to reduce its staff of 2,900 by about 12 percent, or 375 workers. The remainder of the cut would eliminate contracts that provide services to children and families, the agency said. The budget trims by lawmakers came on top of a $35.3 million reduction Quinn had proposed.

The Tribune has reported that the caseloads for DCFS investigators are often double what they should be and in violation of critical terms of a 1991 federal consent decree that sets monthly limits on new cases for investigators. The agency also is failing to inspect more than half of the state’s day care facilities on an annual basis as required by law, the Tribune found…”

The pressure will be on legislators during the fall veto session in November to decide which is the greater public area of concern: prisons or children? If they follow Quinn’s direction, legislators will approve Quinn moving the money to DCFS from prison facilities which will already be closed by then:

“…In November, we’re going to have to support our reductions, and the Legislature may try to override it,” the governor said. “But we are going to lay out a stark choice: Is it protecting children or is it maintaining facilities that don’t need to be open?”

Posted in IDOC, IL in Fiscal Ruins | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Quinn Plowing Forward to Close Tamms, Dwight, & Other State Facilities!

Posted by mikethemouth on June 21, 2012


As we anticipated, Quinn is not listening to the input of others when it comes to his plan to trim state government in IL. Despite widespread pain and outrage, it looks like Quinn is moving forward to close as many of the 59 state facilities he early this year announced plans to close as he can get away with closing. Quinn seems to be trying for a quick and sizable reduction in state government while he can get it without much opposition.

Perhaps Quinn is trying to flex some muscle having received widespread acknowledgement for his apparent willingness to tackle tough financial issues such as Medicaid and pension reform during the recent legislative session. Many remarked the appearance of a “new Quinn” in his taking a leadership role in working to resolve the state fiscal crisis. Now, Quinn appears to be going full steam ahead on his own.

Quinn first played coy by raising hopes that he would avoid closing correctional facilities and possibly turn Tamms super-maximum security lockup into a lower-security prison in order to alleviate prison overcrowding and reduce costs:

Finke: Quinn coy on facility closings-PJStar article

Tamms likely won’t remain a super-max-WBEZ.org

Yesterday and today Quinn made it plain that he has no plans for Tamms except closure. Via simple memo to state facilities yesterday, Quinn showed his disregard for any half-measures and the concerns of many state legislators as well as the recommendations of the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA). Quinn simply notified state staff that that he will proceed with the closure of not only Tamms prison, but also the women’s prison at Dwight, the Murphysboro Youth Center, and the Westside and the Southern Illinois Adult Transitional Centers, by August 31, 2012.

Quinn confirms Decatur facility to close with state prisons - Herald-Review article

Illinois Gov. Quinn moving ahead with Tamms prison closing and others-stltoday.com

The Peoria and Chicago Crossroads Adult Transitional Centers are spared the axe for now.

Reaction from the unions and state legislators who just sent Quinn a state budget with sufficient funding to avoid the closures of these facilities was quick and furious, particularly from downstate legislators who feel Quinn’s actions are particularly harmful to their constituents:

State Facilities to Close-WSILtv.com

Quinn Announces Prison Closures In Memo-WUISNews.wordpress.com

Unions and lawmakers push back on facility closures-Illinois Issues Blog

Quinn closing prisons against lawmakers’ wishes-Pantagraph.com

“…if the governor wants to show he is serious about getting the state to live within its means, he should focus on all of the waste and mismanagement that occurs in Springfield and Chicago on a daily basis before handing out pink slips to all the employees at Tamms,” Rep. Brandon Phelps, a Democrat from Harrisburg, said in a written statement…”

Approximately 720 state employees will be affected with some having a chance to move to other positions. As Kurt Erickson, a reporter who covers correctional issues in-depth reports, IDOC is going to have to expend a lot of manpower first in order to get every inmate moved appropriately before the state will begin to realize any savings the Quinn administration claims the facility closures will produce:

Dwight closure to trigger musical chairs for inmates-Pantagraph.com

Quinn’s office apparently only decided that it needed to explain more clearly why it is going ahead with these facility closures after a posturing attack by IL Treasurer Dan Rutherford:

Treasurer Dan Rutherford sent out a press release…

“I do not agree with Governor Quinn’s apparent final decision to close seven state correctional facilities and youth centers in the near future. Closing prisons will only exacerbate the overcrowding we face in Illinois with our prison population. Overcrowded prisons pose a real danger to employees and local communities. I took a similar stand back in 2008 when the previous governor abruptly suggested closing multiple state facilities without a comprehensive plan. As a state senator, I proposed legislation that would have put into place long-range strategic planning on certain facility closures. I am again calling on the state to implement business principles by having strategic long-range plans for its major state facility assets.”

Quinn’s budget office response to Rutherford today:

The Department of Juvenile Justice has a declining population of youth which means the state no longer needs eight state detention facilities. We have chosen which facilities to close based on the needs of our youth. In the case of Murphysboro, there is another IYC facility nearby in Harrisburg. Also, the facility has the capacity for 256 youth and currently houses less than 20.

In the case of Joliet, the physical plant does not provide the rehabilitative environment that our youth need. A more rehabilitative model of juvenile justice where youth are served and supported in the community instead of being incarcerated has been shown to result both in safer communities and better outcomes for our youth.

Tamms is only half full and very costly to operate with an average inmate cost of more than three times any other prison in the state. Approximately $64,800 compared to $21,405. The security level at Tamms for high level offenders can be safely replicated at other existing facilities. Closed Maximum security inmates will be transferred to Pontiac Correctional Center and Menard Correctional Center. These facilities will be able to supply the level of security needed for these inmates without compromising safety for staff or inmates. Tamms minimum security inmates will be relocated appropriately throughout other facilities around the state.

Dwight is located within 22 miles of Pontiac Correctional Center, 45 miles from Stateville Correctional Center, and 45 miles from Sheridan Correctional Center. Dwight houses women, and the female prison population is trending down. Between 2005 and 2011 IDOC female prison admissions decreased 41%.

Overall, these closures will allow the state to better live within our means and address the state’s most pressing needs.-capitolfax.com

_____________________________________________________________________
Commenters are already pointing out a few criticisms of Quinn’s justifications above for closing these state facilities pointing out:

the prisons listed around Dwight house MALE, not FEMALE inmates, so even if women inmates numbers are reduced. Dwight inmates still have to be moved about 90 miles away to Logan, and this one;

- Use Common Sense – Wednesday, Jun 20, 12 @ 9:39 am:

If Governor Quinn was doing what was right for Illinois he would have chosen facilities that were old and in need of repairs. Take IYC St. Charles and IYC Pere Marquette as examples. They are in need of a lot of repairs. Plus, if you are doing right by the youth ask them where they would rather be housed. Most probably would say Murphysboro cause it is a newer facility and nice. He can’t say he is doing this to save money cause if that were true he would keep newer facilities open and close old ones. Plus the IYC in Chicago is not even owned by the State. They pay rent on that facility just to run it, over a million a year. Nothing gets said about that. All politics. All about where you live in the state. Has nothing to do with saving money. If you believe that, you are just as bad as Quinn.-Capitolfaxblog

It will be interesting (but unlikely) to see if anyone is able to change Quinn’s mind before August 31st concerning these closures. If Quinn is pushing ahead to close facilities where funding was allocated then there is little doubt that he will also move ahead to close down the rest of the state agency facilities he has threatened to close. Initial responses to his actions are disbelief and the speculation that Quinn is up to his old tactic of threatening closures as a ploy to gain leverage in other negotiations with state legislators. In this case, speculation is rampant that since Quinn did not get legislators to give him all that he wants in state pension reforms, that he will only halt these closures if legislator leaders are able to agree with him on pension changes this summer, before the fall legislative session starts and confusion reigns. Perhaps these facility closures are just pawns in the process to Quinn, but if so, employing an old strategy of pressure again is likely to cost Quinn the good will he won for legislators in the Spring session. As many are now pointing out these closure facilities will end up hurting Quinn and the democrats too. The facility closures target Southern Illinois counties directly, including the poorer ones where it counts. Voters in those counties will not forgive Quinn or the democrats if the closures occur.

Posted in IDOC, IL in Fiscal Ruins, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

IL State Facility closures adverted for now by IL legislature, but it is all up to Quinn in the end!

Posted by lactoselazy on June 1, 2012


The IL legislature is sending IL Governor Pat Quinn a 2012 budget which includes funding to continue operation of all the facilities which Quinn proposed closing in order to save the State money. The Pantagraph article below summarizes the situation:

Budget keeps facilities open, but layoffs come anyway

“…The layoffs come as lawmakers gave Quinn enough money to avoid closing prisons in Dwight and Tamms, a youth prison in Murphysboro, the Murray Developmental Center in Centralia and adult transition centers in Decatur and Carbondale.

The proposed budget also provides more than $26 million to convert the prison at Tamms into a medium- or minimum-security facility to address concerns about the harsh conditions at the state’s only “supermax” prison.

The prison’s dangerous inmates would be transferred to maximum-security lock-ups in Pontiac or Chester.

Lawmakers cautioned there is no guarantee Quinn will actually spend the money to keep the facilities open…”

Yeah, there certainly is no guarantee that Quinn will either approve the budget or spend the money the way the legislators are telling him that they want it spent. We know enough about Quinn to bet that there are parts of the budget that he will not accept and that he will move some of the budget monies around. While there is money in the budget for all the facilities, funding runs a little short for some of them. For example for Developmental Centers current funding this year is $293M vs $269M in this budget.  As IL Senate Republican, Christine Radogno, characterizes it on her website today: “…Although the budget pretended to protect a number of state facilities from closure, the budget actually gave the Governor tremendous flexibility to shutter facilities and move money around. State facilities that the Governor targeted for closure were not allocated sufficient funds to remain open for a full year and provisions contained within the budget allowed the Governor to take funds earmarked for one facility, move those funds into a more general account and then reallocate those funds to a completely different facility…”

It will not be surprising if Quinn does choose to go ahead and close at least one or two of the state facilities which he is threatening with closure despite the recommendations of the The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) that none of these be closed. Quinn is already indicating that he will proceed with his closure of the Jacksonville Developmental Center,

Quinn: No change in position on Jacksonville Developmental Center

Quinn has the ultimate authority to close any or all of his wish list facilities regardless of input or the COGFA recommendations. It is just that no Governor has previously closed any facilities without COGFA approval. We will just have to hold tight to our seats and see what Quinn decides to do in the next 60 days or so.

Posted in IDOC, IL in Fiscal Ruins | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

As Expected: IL State Facility Shut-downs Averted!!!

Posted by tennesseetree on November 30, 2011


Well, the IL General Assembly Fall Veto Session is finally over! IL legislators tonight completed Governor Pat Quinn’s job and by reallocating the money in the IL current state budget they worked out a deal to avoid Quinn’s threatened shut-down for seven state facilities and the proposed lay-offs of over 1900 state employees. They also reinstated some funding for mental health and even came up with funds to pay for indigent burials!

Legislators also, fortunately, left Springfield without approving the unwarranted tax breaks for Sears and the Chicago Merchantile Exchange. Too bad that state legislators felt that they had to devote most of this one last day to considering whether or not to give these corporations the tax breaks they are demanding in return for remaining in IL. In the end only 8 legislators voted in favor of tax breaks, so we will see if Sears and CME flee the state or not.

Now, legislators are far from having addressed the serious fiscal problems which the state faces. Averting state closures now is still a temporary fix. Funding will only cover the state budget thru June 2011. We can certainly anticipate a lot more discussion about the state having to close facilities and cut additional staff in 2012. We just hope that Governor Pat Quinn doesn’t again create more chaos and waste everyone’s time and more state money by coming up with another hasty list of “must-do” state closures:

Written by Koehler Staff Tuesday, 29 November 2011 19:31, from IL Senator Koehler’s website:

Springfield – Late Tuesday evening, the General Assembly took action to partially restore human services funding, avert state facility closings, and prevent mass layoffs. They achieved these goals by reprioritizing state spending—not spending additional taxpayer dollars.

“This action is good news for people throughout the state of Illinois, particularly for the families of the mentally ill and developmentally disabled,” said State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria). “During the holiday season, no one wants to worry about finding care for a loved one or the possibility of getting laid off.”

After Governor Quinn approved the General Assembly’s budget last summer, he claimed that he did not have adequate funding to keep all of the state’s mental health and developmental disability centers open. He threatened to close seven state-run buildings throughout the state. This legislation, Senate Bill 2412, allows the facilities to remain operational for the rest of the fiscal year.

It also partially restores funding for mental health grants that go to local mental health centers, alcoholism and substance abuse programs, burial services for the homeless and very poor, homelessness prevention programs, and need-based financial aid for college students.

To pay for these restorations, the General Assembly sustained many of the governor’s budget-related vetoes, shifted money from other state funds, and reduced a number of lower-priority grants.

“I think this budget more closely reflects our state’s priorities,” Koehler said. “It helps protect the people who are least able to protect themselves. And, while I will admit that we may need to explore facility closures in the future, we need to make sure we plan ahead and transfer mental health patients and developmentally disabled people into safe situations. Closing their facilities without a plan in place could result in unreasonable hardship for these people and their families.”

“I think this is the way budgeting should work,” Koehler added. “We set our priorities, re-examined the budget, and then lowered spending in some areas to allow us to pay more in others.”

7 state facilities getting short-term reprieves

Quinn, legislators work out deal to keep Tinley Park Mental Health Center, 6 other sites open through June

(Chicago Tribune article)

Posted in IDOC, IL in Fiscal Ruins, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

IL Budget News: STATE FACILITY CLOSURES & LAYOFFS May Be Avoided!

Posted by lactoselazy on November 9, 2011


New plan forms to keep state facilities open, for now

November 10, 2011

Illinois lawmakers reject Quinn’s closure plans

The formal IL Fall Veto Session has ended. There will be another session extension on November 29, 2011, for consideration of other major issues still outstanding, but Quinn and legislators appear to be avoiding closing the 7 state facilities. This is good news to many: Quinn is starting to be more flexible and realistic. Critics and advocates have pointed out too many flaws in the Quinn administration’s plans to close the state facilities and layoff 1900 employees. Quinn’s original plans were drawn up as just a tactic to try and pressure the legislature into approving a supplemental appropriation for the budget. The plan provisions for closure and relocating individuals served by these facilities were just too hasty without much consideration about their implementation. Quinn’s new plan may still be bad, but at least there will be time for more review and changes. It seems that it will take until January to work the details of funding out, but, if approved, these seven facilities will at least be funded thru the end of June 2012.

Some of these facilities (or others) may still end up on the chopping block because there is the widespread recognition that the state cannot afford to keep all facilities open and that it will, at some point, have to consolidate or eliminate some services. Quinn’s new position will still need legislative approval and consensus, but will allow time in the next few years for careful planning to minimize danger to state clients.

New budget plan may avert closures, layoffs

BY KURT ERICKSON, The Southern Springfield Bureau | Posted: Wednesday, November 9, 2011 1:00 pm | from thesouthern.com

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Pat Quinn has floated a retooled budget plan that could avert more than 1,900 layoffs and the closure of seven state facilities.

As part of an 11th-hour budget agreement being brokered with lawmakers, Quinn instead would agree to close four state developmental centers and two mental health facilities within the next 2 ½ years.

It remained unclear Wednesday whether a deal could be approved before the end of the fall veto session Thursday.

Under the governor’s new proposal, the Department of Human Services would reduce the number of residents served by state-operated developmental centers by at least 600. That would allow the agency to close up to four of the state’s eight developmental centers by the summer of 2014.

An outline of the proposal did not identify which facilities, including centers in Anna, Dwight, Dixon and Centralia, may be on the future chopping block.

The new plan also calls for the closure of two unidentified state psychiatric hospitals by mid-2014.

The proposal would at least temporarily end Quinn’s threat to close Logan Correctional Center and the youth prison in Murphysboro.

For state Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, the potential deal could be a double-edged sword. Although the Murphysboro youth center could be spared, it could put the Choate Developmental Center in Anna in the cross-hairs for future closure.

“It’s frustrating. This has been the way Quinn works. He tests the wind and then changes his mind. We need a leader,” Bost said.

The revamped closure plan doesn’t specifically address other cuts made by Quinn in reaction to the budget he was handed by lawmakers in May.

Regional school superintendents, for example, were still pushing for legislation Wednesday allowing them to get paid for the first time since July.

Funds to reimburse hospitals and school districts for various costs also remained in limbo with one day left before lawmakers leave town for the year.

It appeared Quinn’s decision to cut money for school transportation costs may stand, leaving local districts scrambling to pay for busing.

“There’s not a lot of support for education in the negotiating room,” said state Rep. Will Davis, D-Chicago.

The new plan was being circulated a day before a legislative panel is scheduled to meet to vote on Quinn’s recommendation to close Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln, Jacksonville Development Center and the Tinley Park Mental Health Center.

The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability last month voted to reject Quinn’s plan to close mental health centers in Chester and Rockford, a developmental center in Dixon and the juvenile lock-up in Murphysboro.

Although the commission’s recommendation is non-binding, the governor has never gone against the commission’s recommendations.

(Kurt Erickson can be reached at kurt.erickson@lee.net or 217-782-4043)

Read more: http://thesouthern.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_5b0f77e4-0b05-11e1-afda-001cc4c03286.html#ixzz1dEzywVzr

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First day of the end of IL Legislative Veto Session

Posted by parchangelo on November 9, 2011


IL legislators have begun tackling several major issues in this first day of the end of the regular fall veto session. They have such a long list to get through that some legislators are already discussion an extension of this veto session later this month. Whether that will happen depends on how much momentum they get out of the next couple of days. House legislators were able to pass a watered down gambling bill which addresses some of Governor Quinn’s expressed concerns on gambling but still leaves in slots at racetracks. Quinn has said he would veto anything with racetrack slots, but he has irritated lawmakers to such an extent that the legislature is attempting to pass a gambling bill that will have enough supermajority votes to override a veto from Quinn. More work remains to be done on the bill before setting it up for voting. Legislators are also attempting to pass their pension reform bill, but that faces a much more uncertain passage during this session since recent analysis of the bill indicates from several sources that instead of curbing future state pension obligations, the proposed manner in which the legislature is approaching reform will likely result in either higher costs to the state or far less savings than plan advocates intend. See article below:

Illinois House committee OKs major pension overhaul

The only other issues considered by legislators far are huge tax breaks (which we can’t afford) for the profitable CME Group Inc. and CBOE Holdings Inc. based in Chicago exchanges; increasing the number of speeding camera; and fixing financing for the Leucadia Chicago Clean Energy project.  The General Assembly has adjourned to today, so we will see if anything useful happens tomorrow. AGAIN, WHAT WILL DEFINITELY NOT HAPPEN THIS SESSION is anything respecting the reinstatement of Meritorious Good Time (MGT) credits or any state prison early release program. At this moment, what is more urgent is that the legislature do something to reallocate budget monies enough to forestall Governor Pat Quinn’s threats to close down 7 state facilities at the end of December 2011, and layoff 2000 plus staff.  Today, mental health advocates are pressuring legislators to reinstate threatened funding for programs.  They also presented 8,000 petition signatures against closure of the Chester Mental Health Center, one of the 7 state facilities Quinn has targeted.

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