State Roundup: Madigan: Farnham’s child porn conviction means no state pension

From Illinois News Network
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A former state representative convicted of child pornography charges is required to forfeit his pension benefits. That’s a ruling from Attorney General Lisa Madigan about the pension for former State Representative Keith Farnham. In a letter to the Executive Secretary of the General Assembly Retirement System, Madigan says Farnham admitted to trafficking child porn at his state legislative district office using taxpayer-funded property on government time. Madigan says the state’s Pension Code requires Farnham’s pension benefits be forfeited upon his conviction. The Daily Herald reports that Farnham will lose his $1,200 monthly benefit. Farnham was sentenced to eight years in prison beginning in May.

Auditor: In 2 years 140 child death cases not reviewed for at least 165 days by DCFS

Not all the issues the state’s Auditor General found reviewing the Department of Children and Family Services were financial reporting problems, the majority of the Auditor’s findings were inadequate timely reports for child abuse, neglect and death cases. In an audit of DCFS published Thursday the Auditor says eighty reviews of closed child death cases were not conducted for an average one-hundred-eighty-two days in 2013. Twenty-three reviews of cases not closed were reviewed on average one-hundred-sixty-five days after information was initially received. In 2014 twenty-seven closed child death case reviews were conducted on average one-hundred-seventy-two days from the death date. Ten reviews of cases not closed took an average of one-hundred-sixty-five days from when the initial information was received. The Child Death Review Team Act requires reviews be done within ninety days. Other DCFS findings from the Auditor included untimely reviews of Child Welfare, Foster Care and Intact Family cases and the Auditor says the Department made untimely determinations on unfounded child abuse and neglect cases. The report also says the Department lacked adequate review of financial statements. Meanwhile, April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.

ISAC only reviewed 20 percent of MAP awards

Of more than one-hundred-forty required reviews of schools receiving Monetary Award Program funds over a three year period, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission only reviewed twenty-nine. That’s according to the state’s Auditor General. The ISAC audit published Thursday indicates that of the twenty-nine schools reviewed the Commission recovered more than $470,000 from students who had become ineligible after the initial award. Over that same three-year period the commission awarded over $1 billion in MAP funds. The Auditor’s report recommends the Commission perform timely reviews as required by law.

Report: State workers caught borrowing state-owned equipment was common practice

Two state employees are appealing discipline they received for taking state-owned chairs with a state-owned truck for a private party. They’re also pointing the finger at others who abused state resources, including borrowing power tools for private use and performing private vehicle maintenance with state resources on state-time. The Illinois Times reports a laborer and a maintenance worker were captured on surveillance cameras Christmas Eve last year taking an unknown number of chairs. When they were investigated, IT reports the workers said borrowing state-owned equipment was common practice and supervisors knew it. During the investigation the workers provided numerous examples of other instances where other employees borrowed tools or did private work on public time. Recent reports from the Auditor General indicate more than $500,000 of Department of Agriculture equipment has either been lost or stolen since 2005.

Pipe manufacturer leaving for Indiana

A series of incentives for a pipe manufacturer offered up in Indiana means another business will be leaving the state. T and B Tube Company plans to move their operations to Gary, Indiana, from South Holland, Illinois, by the end of the year. The North West Times reports that the manufacturer will get around $2 million of incentives, including a possible tax abatement program expected to be offered by the Gary city government, and incentives from a northern Indiana utility company. As for what Illinois can offer to future businesses looking to relocate, a statement from Governor Bruce Rauner’s office says they believe there should be a reforming of the current EDGE tax credit program. But the Governor says the main thing to attract jobs will be a lowering of the state’s workers’ compensation costs, reformation of unemployment insurance and freezing property taxes.

Governor contemplates bring spy agency and football stadium to Illinois

Be it a spy agency or a new pro football stadium, Illinois needs every strategic advantage possible to locate new developments to the Land of Lincoln. That’s according to Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner. Earlier this week while visiting parts of southwest Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner was asked about the possibility of bringing the National Geo-Spatial Intelligence Center to St. Clair County. Rauner said there’s a huge opportunity to provide a clear strategic advantage to the federal government and citizen safety by locating the Center near Scott Air Force Base. The Governor said he will be meeting with the Obama administration, and congressional and state leaders on a messaging plan to bring the Center to Illinois. Meanwhile Rauner was also asked about the possibility of moving a new St. Louis Rams stadium to the Metro East area. Rauner said Illinois has the infrastructure and hardworking people to build it and there’s access to and from St. Louis without congestion issues. Rauner says he’ll see what he can make happen.

McDonald’s giving pay raises and enhanced benefits without government mandate

Without a state or federal mandate, one of the nation’s largest fast food outlets plans to give some of their employees enhanced benefits. Oak Brook, Illinois, based McDonald’s announced Wednesday they will give wage increases and paid time-off for full and part-time employees at the company-owned restaurants. The company also plans to expand their Archways to Opportunities education program, which provides free high school completion and college tuition assistance, for both company-owned and franchised restaurants. A statement from Steve Easterbrook, the restaurant’s President and CEO, says they’ve listened to their employees and the coming benefit changes will make a real difference in their careers and lives. Beginning July the employees at the company-owned restaurants will get $1 over the locally-mandated minimum wage and employees with at least a year of service will begin to accrue personal paid time-off. It’s expected the benefit changes will impact about ten percent of McDonald’s restaurants nationwide.

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