After Erik Bohen won a hard-fought special election for the Assembly back on April 24, he appeared ready and eager to tackle his new assignment. He dutifully reported to Albany last Monday, filled out the paperwork, moved into his new Legislative Office Building digs, and then discovered the realities of life in the Capitol. Leaders assigned him a seat on the Assembly floor apart from his colleagues – an “island” in a sea of Democrats and Republicans. Bohen’s natural Democrats, the ones with whom he planned to caucus, labeled him unwelcome after winning the seat on the Republican-Conservative lines. The GOP, meanwhile, displayed similar bad manners. They also told Bohen to find a seat – anyplace but within their conference. “You’re on your own, pal,” the Official Welcoming Committee proclaimed. It all resembles Sister Mary Alma’s “seat of honor” back in St. Joseph’s School – the one reserved apart from the … [Read more...] about Bob McCarthy: Bohen the Assembly castaway
WASHINGTON – So many of us have walked down Yonge Street. So many of us have ended long nights of partying seeking a dose of recovery in a diner like the Waffle House. And so many of us have shuddered over the horrors of the past few days, which seems, to some degree, to be an ultra-concentrated version of the horrors of the past few years. As always, then, some perspective is in order – and it's hard to find. “There is little good research on what are probably a host of problems contributing to mass violence,” criminologist Grant Duwe, of the Minnesota Department of Corrections, told Science News earlier this month. Duwe ought to know. He's been studying mass killings for more than two decades. Still, a cursory review of the research and journalism stemming from mass killings yields some conclusions. Mental health matters. A mentally fit person does not walk into a Waffle House restaurant wearing nothing but a green jacket and then shoot four people to … [Read more...] about The Briefing: Some perspective amid the carnage
The photographs are flying around Twitter. There is George H.W. Bush, in his wheelchair, a pensive figure near the casket of his wife, Barbara, in a Houston church. There are the Secret Service agents with that casket, agents assigned for years to protect the former First Lady, who even now are staying at her side. You would need a heart of stone to be unmoved by these images. Yet beyond the immediate sense of condolence, I felt something I had trouble defining, some kind of aching gratitude for such simple grace. It suddenly occurred to me this morning, as the sun finally broke the layers of cloud in this gray April, as this long-awaited spring finally came to the Northeast: Even in death, Barbara Bush is offering a service to the nation. She was a Republican, the wife of one president and the mother of another. She was strong-willed, sometimes acerbic, no one's pushover. She was no more perfect than any of us, no less passionate in defense of those she loved, but she projected a … [Read more...] about Sean Kirst: Barbara Bush, her passing, and one last national service
Imagine a host of police cars and first responders swarming into your neighborhood one night. Not long after, you see someone being led away in handcuffs. Another person leaves in an ambulance. You'd want to know who was arrested, what for, and whether you and your family are safe. Under a change in state law proposed by a downstate legislator, getting that information could take weeks. And that concerns the ACLU, a prison watchdog group and media organizations across the state."It's who, what, where, why information about police exercising their authority," said Don Craven, a media law attorney representing the Illinois Broadcasters Association, an opponent of the measure. "It absolutely should be public record."Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer, a Republican from Jacksonville, is the sponsor of HB4230, which would amend the Local Records Act. Currently, police have to release arrest information, including names and a mug shot, within 72 hours of an arrest, unless doing so threatens an active … [Read more...] about Legislation would let police withhold arrest details for weeks
The Illinois tollway has paid more than $636,000 over seven months as part of an estimated $6.6 million contract with a politically connected communications firm whose hiring largely flew under the radar. Morreale Communications is led by CEO Kim Morreale, who is married to Chicago's only Republican state representative, Michael McAuliffe. The firm's client list includes Chicago and Pace bus, but unlike those public entities, the tollway's board of directors is appointed by the governor, in this case Republican Bruce Rauner.Tollway officials said the communications firm, which was hired as part of a larger contract with engineers WSP USA Inc., was picked on its merits. Neither contract was competitively bid."Morreale Communications is a well-known and respected communications firm in the transportation industry and has proven to be an invaluable resource to the tollway," spokeswoman Joelle McGinnis said. "The tollway has operated with 100 percent transparency and integrity in … [Read more...] about Did Illinois tollway give contract to firm because of political connections?