State Roundup: Former governor Walker passes away

From Illinois News Network

Illinois’ 36th Governor has passed away. Dan Walker was 92 years old. He was perhaps best known for serving prison time for bank fraud, a case not involving his time in the executive office.

Kent Redfield, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois Springfield, tells WMAY Springfield the former Governor used his time in prison to highlight the need for prison reform.

But Redfield says he was known for changing the political dynamic in Illinois’ democratic party when he announced he wanted the office.

“Before it was all about the party slating candidates and Walker recruited himself, financed his own campaign, ran it completely independent and went out and he was Walking Dan Walker, walking the state of Illinois.”

Walker served as Illinois’ Governor for one term from 1973 to 1977 before losing the democratic primary.

However, Walker wasn’t replaced by the democrat victor, Republican Jim Thompson won that gubernatorial race. Former Governor Pat Quinn and current Governor Bruce Rauner both sent condolence messages following news of Walker’s passing.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Rep. Drury on the “Other Budget”

A state representative wants to shed more light on what he’s calling Illinois’ “Other Budget”. Earlier this month in a newsletter to constituents Democratic State Representative Scott Drury says Illinois has several hundred special funds outside of general revenue funds that lawmakers treat as rainy day funds.

During an Illinois News Network radio profile, Drury said recent fund sweeps to plug a more than billion dollar budget hole in the current fiscal year highlights the importance of exposing that “Other Budget”.

“Why was it just sitting there? And did it hurt anybody, did it not? Those need to come into the light and need to become part of the real discussion because Illinois’ budget isn’t $30 billion, it’s about $65 billion, and we only talk about $30 to $35 billion of it in any given year and I think that’s highly problematic.”

The hundreds of special funds with tens of billions of dollars generate revenue from fees imposed by the state and money from federal government transfers. Drury says “before discussing severe cuts to vital services or the need for additional revenue, Illinois should first analyze all of its existing revenue and whether it is being put to its best use.”

Citations for smoking in car flames out in Senate

A measure that would have made adults smoking in vehicles where children are passengers a ticketable offense has been snuffed out in the Senate. Democratic State Senator Ira Silverstein says the offense wouldn’t have been something police could use to initiate a stop, but police could have still issued the citations if drivers are stopped for another traffic infraction. Senator Kimberly Lightford says there is strong opposition to Senate Bill 729 because of concerns over the potential of increased racial profiling.

“We need not to have an additional reason at all for officers to stop moving vehicles. I personally feel if you’re in the privacy of your own personal automobile what you do is your own personal business. It’s not a public restaurant. It’s not a public facility.”

Lightford said that she’s voted for every second-hand smoke regulation in the past, but this measure goes too far in meddling in peoples’ private domains. The measure ultimately failed with only eight Senators voting in favor.

OEIG releases several investigation findings

The Illinois Office of Executive Inspector General released several investigations that were concluded this month ranging from failed grant oversight, improper hiring and falsified Family and Medical Leave Act documentation.

IDVA employee engaged in conflicts, etc.

One report highlights a former Grants and Special Projects Administrator for the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs violated several rules, including accepting gifts from grantees, engaging in conflicts of interest and misusing state time and resources.

Former IDVA employee Kevin Cavanaugh was responsible for monitoring compliance of grant recipients, a task the OEIG investigative report says he failed.

The OEIG report also says Cavanaugh admitted to accepting numerous gifts from United Cerebral Palsy Foundation including multiple free tickets to three consecutive annual fundraisers. Cavanaugh also received gifts totalling over $600 in golf equipment and benefit dinners from RevelationGolf.

During the investigation, OEIG says Cavanaugh resigned from his position. OEIG recommends Cavanaugh not be hired for state employment again.

IDVA employees circumvented hiring process

Several employees at the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs found ways to circumvent competitive hiring procedures for an extended period of time. OEIG says several IDVA staff violated the state’s code concerning personnel by allowing emergency appointments to be renewed. One employee found in violation is no longer with the state. OEIG recommends several other employees still employed be counseled on the proper rules and policies concerning emergency appointments. The report does say that allegations of nepotism were unfounded.

CTA employee violated ethics, other rules

A former bus operator with the Chicago Transit Authority falsified statements over several years concerning leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. OEIG says the employee failed to cooperate with and knowingly lied to investigators. The former CTA employee, Shenequa Carter, initially filed FMLA forms saying she had to take leave to take care of her son. The OEIG investigation found Carter falsified records claiming to be from a physician and lied about faxing falsified forms from her child’s school. Documents from CTA to OEIG indicates Carter was discharged as a result of several rule violations.

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