Coffee Break 3-8-18: A Tale of Two Stories

A Tale of Two (News) Stories


“Nearly a month ago, Rauner infamously declared that he ‘would not do anything different’ in the aftermath of a Legionnaires’ outbreak at the Quincy Veterans’ Home. Since then four residents have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ and new reports keep raising questions about Rauner’s response to the crisis.

Yesterday, Rauner’s administration dodged a legislative committee who wanted to know why the state never acted on a recommendation to replace water pipes back in 2016. After a WBEZ investigative report into the home, which prompted a Rauner stay at the home, his team requested an updated report. And they asked for the plumbing replacement as an ‘emergency project’ since ‘frail, elderly residents at the home (are) still becoming sickened.’

Rauner told Crain’s Chicago this month, ‘We’ve handled it exceptionally well and we would not do anything different.’”

–DGA, quoted in Capitol Fax 2-21-18

There’s plenty of news circulating these days, but not all of it is making front-page headlines in the MSM—or at least, not until the stories themselves are played out.

Below the fold, we consider two stories we’re following, one out of West Virginia, and the other out of Illinois. The first was the West Virginia teachers and service personnel strike, the other is a mystery-tragedy in Quincy, Illinois.  Both serve to illustrate separate-but-related facets of the trend towards “small government”—small in terms of citizen services, that is. Continue reading “Coffee Break 3-8-18: A Tale of Two Stories”


Coffee Break 2-26-18: Janus v. AFSCME

Oral arguments today in Janus v. AFSCME


Now, what does all of this mean in this great period of history? It means that we’ve got to stay together. We’ve got to stay together and maintain unity.

The issue is injustice. The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants, who happen to be sanitation workers.

Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation.

–excerpts from Martin Luther King, Jr., “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” delivered April 3, 1968, one day prior to his assassination during the Memphis public sanitation workers’ strike

Today is a historic day for public unions: oral arguments are scheduled before the Supreme Court on Janus v. AFSCME. Continue reading “Coffee Break 2-26-18: Janus v. AFSCME”

Coffee Break 2-5-18: Public Education

Lest We Forget

DeedSpeakOut has recently joined a Facebook group called “Abandoned Images of Illinois.” Yesterday members posted photos of two abandoned early 20th-century schoolhouses, the Time School in Pike County and another near Clinton (Galilee Road off Rte. 51) in Dewitt County. Continue reading “Coffee Break 2-5-18: Public Education”

HEJE Overview 1-27-18: Environment


Children playing feet away from open pools of raw sewage; drinking water pumped beside cracked pipes of untreated waste; human faeces flushed back into kitchen sinks and bathtubs whenever the rains come; people testing positive for hookworm, an intestinal parasite that thrives on extreme poverty.”

Thinking Haiti, or El Salvador, or some random African country?

Well, you’d be wrong. Today’s quote characterizes a county in Alabama, U.S.A.

Today’s HEJE Overview returns to environmental issues. Of note: Puerto Rico, four months after Hurricane Maria, is privatizing its power system; the richest men in the U.S. want to “save” the Rust Belt, their way; Pueblo, Colorado is contemplating going 100% green, but can a poor city afford environmental awareness?; dicamba update in advance of the 2018 planting season; the U.S.S. Lead Superfund site in East Chicago, IN: environmental justice advocate Catherine Flowers fights for water and sewage justice in rural Alabama, and finally (whew), some good environmental news for Alaska’s Bristol Bay.

There’s a wealth of environmental injustice recounted below the fold. Continue reading “HEJE Overview 1-27-18: Environment”

Illinois Update 1-20-18

Illinois Update, updated: Peoria’s new program for homeless men

Earlier this week, in our post of 1-16-18 (“Cairo, Illinois: Our Nation Writ in Miniature”), we concluded with a discussion of the purchase by OSF (Peoria’s largest healthcare provider and the fourth-largest provider in Illinois) of an historic nine-story commercial property in the urban core of the city for its new mission headquarters. The property had belonged to a series of department stores and banks over the course of its century and more of life (built 1905), and had been purchased by Caterpillar for conversion to the corporation’s new headquarters. Continue reading “Illinois Update 1-20-18”

HEJE Overview 1-20-18: Education


Ed reforms = failed reforms

What is the ultimate goal of public education? Do we genuinely want our citizens to be able to embrace an active role in American civic life, from neighborhood watch volunteers to Congressional representatives? Is every child in America equally deserving of a good education?

If the answer to these questions is “Yes,” then we’re doing something terribly wrong.


We’re back to our regular HEJE coverage, and today review recent education developments, including: ESSA/NCLB (hint: they’re not all that different); Michigan charters and their funding; rural/urban low minority college attendance; Freezing Baltimore public schools suggest neglect, structural racism and classism; California private schools are subject to zero oversight. Bonus: another piece of poorly-thought-out education legislation from Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s BTIATM. Continue reading “HEJE Overview 1-20-18: Education”

HEJE Overview 1-19-18: Health Care

About that Medicaid Work Requirement …


My question is this: Who doesn’t deserve dignity and respect? Why should you have to pass a wallet biopsy before a health care provider determines she can talk to you, order a test, figure out what is wrong or decide how to treat you? This is our issue.”

–Dr. Claudia Fegan, speaking on the occasion of MLK’s birthday in Louisville, Kentucky (2011) Continue reading “HEJE Overview 1-19-18: Health Care”