Madigan creates special public/private House committee; and more from INN Radio

Madigan creates special public/private House committee

Leading Republicans are ready to go along with the state’s leading Democrat in a new special House committee to evaluate public/private partnerships.

The Special House Committee on Public Private Partnerships was announced this week by Speaker Michael Madigan to specifically review the creation of the private, nonprofit, Illinois Business and Economic Development Corporation (ILBEDC).

Madigan said in a news release the private nonprofit, which is expected to work with businesses to offer incentives to relocate or stay in Illinois, could boost Illinois’ economy “but our obligation to taxpayers includes working to ensure transparency and integrity within the program.”

Governor Bruce Rauner’s office said they welcome the idea to maintain and improve the integrity of ILBEDC, and the the organization will maintain the strictest standards of transparency and accountability to ensure it’s focused on the mission of improving economic development in Illinois.

For more than a year the governor has pushed for reforms he says will help grow the state. While Rauner touts the public private partnership as a tool to spur on more economic activity, Madigan points to other states that had transparency problems with public private partnerships.

Madigan’s news release said one example in an audit of a Wisconsin public/private partnership indicated the organization was “not requiring financial statements from companies receiving incentives, granting awards to ineligible businesses, failing to ensure jobs had been created by companies after awarding.”

Madigan said the newly formed committee will work to ensure taxpayer dollars are used wisely and efficiently.

In a statement leading House Republican Jim Durkin said ILBEDC is an innovative way to advance the state’s economy and he hopes the committee’s mission will be about collaboration with the administration and the House GOP. If that’s the case, Durkin said they’re ready to work in a bipartisan manner.

The committee has yet to schedule a hearing date.

Fantasy sports supporters say bill protects players, opponents say it expands gambling

An Illinois based small business says they can’t operate their fantasy sports operation in the state because of the uncertainty while opponents of fantasy sports say it’s an effort to expand gambling.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan issued a ruling in December that said fantasy sports is a game of chance and violates the state’s gambling law. Tony Giordano, founder of Chicago-based Sideleague Fantasy Sports, says when that ruling came down he stopped offering his product to Illinois residents.

“It’s really just important that we get kind of a hold of the legislative outlook for daily fantasy.”

Democratic Representative Mike Zalewski says his legislation would remove the uncertainty and allow for Giordano’s and others’ businesses to thrive in Illinois and allow players to play without fear of breaking the law.

“So what it has done is create a legal limbo where we don’t have an idea of what’s okay and not okay.”

Zalewski says the measure is necessary.

“We need to protect people and make sure that they are not subject to unscrupulous business practices.”

However, Anita Bedell with Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems says the measure is really about expanding gambling beyond riverboats and video gaming parlors.

“On their homes, on their cell phones, their tablets, they could have it anywhere, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, non-stop. That’s the problem.”

Similar measures to allow for fantasy sports to be legal in Illinois have been introduced in both the House and Senate.

Chicago evaluating legal options in wake of ruling on red light camera case motion

Don’t expect any refund on the red light camera ticket you got in Chicago as the city evaluates their options in the case challenging the tickets.

After a circuit court ruling on a motion from the city to dismiss, citing due process issues, and subsequent media reports that the ruling called for red light camera ticket refunds, a statement from Chicago Department of Law Spokesman Bill McCaffrey says “the city continues to believe that the plaintiffs’ claims are legally insufficient,” and it’s the city’s “position that the plaintiffs are not entitled to any recovery, let alone any refunds.”

Mark Wallace, director of Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras, says they plan to file a motion to stop red light camera enforcement.

“Attorneys will be filing for an immediate injunction on the enforcement of the camera program until the case has been completely adjudicated.”

Wallace says he’s sure the city will be “as defiant as they’ve always been.”

While the city says the program is a valuable tool to help make the city’s streets safer, Wallace says it’s just a money grab.

“If they really are interested in safety then take safety measures. This is not a safety measure, this is a financial profit protection scheme for private interests, not for public safety.”

Wallace suggests extending the yellow light on traffic signals as a way to lower crashes.

Governor doesn’t use email

As the state’s chief executive, Governor Bruce Rauner says he prefers face-to-face interactions, not email.

While the governor says he has a government cell phone, he acknowledges he does not have government email. Rauner says it’s done him some good.

“It has actually improved the quality of my life dramatically and it has increased my productivity. Now my work is done in person.”

Rauner says instead of emails, he conducts business the old fashioned way.

“Now I have more meetings, which is good. I have more phone calls, which is good. Now I actually use a pen and paper that was invented a couple years ago and that’s actually productive too and things are fine.”

Asked why he doesn’t use email, Rauner said using email has proven to be problematic. Last year his education secretary was found to use private email for official business. Rauner said problems can arise with the use of email.

“People send emails, copy emails, forward emails. Nothing good comes from that.”

Rauner says he would rather meet with people face-to-face. Meanwhile the governor does have a government cell phone and a personal phone he says is for his children to reach him.