Coronavirus outbreak continues worsening in Illinois
One week ago the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 15,415 new cases of coronavirus in Illinois in a single day – a new and terrible record. Barely a month earlier we were talking about record-setting days which had totals of less than one-third of that number. The entire state has now been placed in enhanced mitigation measures because the spread has exceeded guidelines set by public health officials.
Please remember the protective measures we have heard about for these many months: avoid crowds, wear a face covering in public and wash your hands. I was glad to hear the welcome news that prospects for a vaccine are looking bright, and now the states are formulating plans for its distribution once it becomes available.
The Secretary of State’s office just announced the closure of its driver services facilities through December 7 due to the illness. Meanwhile, just in time for Thanksgiving, the Department of Public Health has rolled out its “Healthy Holidays to You” campaign to share information about safe ways to celebrate.
Madigan allies indicted in bribery scheme
The federal investigation into a bribery scheme in which House Speaker Michael Madigan has been implicated drew even closer to the Speaker this week as four of his close allies were indicted on Wednesday. Prosecutors allege that the utility company ComEd bribed a policymaker termed “Public Official A” in exchange for favorable government actions. “Public Official A” has been determined to be Madigan.
This week the Department of Justice indicted the former CEO of ComEd Anne Pramaggiore and lobbyist Michael McClain who was closely involved with Madigan for many years, as well as two other individuals allegedly involved in the plot. Madigan has not been charged. Another former ComEd executive has already pled guilty. The four individuals indicted on Wednesday were charged with bribery, bribery conspiracy and falsifying records.
The House convened a special investigating committee over the summer to look into Madigan’s conduct, but it has not met since September 29 and its most recent meeting was abruptly cancelled. It is time for that committee to immediately re-convene and resume its investigation. It is also long past time for the Illinois House to re-convene and take up tough ethics reform legislation to break the cycle of corruption.
How much do we owe?
As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $8,410,367,559 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $6.0 billion. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is subject to a wide range of factors and has been estimated to be more than $137 billion.
Have a very happy and safe Thanksgiving!
Just like so many other holidays in 2020, Thanksgiving is going to be very different this year. But we still have much to be thankful for, including the men and women in uniform who protect our country and those in the health care field who are working so hard to fight the pandemic that has touched us all. Thank you for all that you do, and thanks also to the truck drivers, farmers, grocery store workers, first responders, teachers, small business owners and so many others who are keeping our communities going during these difficult times.
I am especially thankful for my hard-working district office staff, Angel Crawford in Watseka and Deb Karch in Pontiac. They are a great asset for our district, but especially this year. Since the beginning of the pandemic in March they have worked long hours trying to help 106th District residents with the many different aspects of this emergency. In that time they have managed 10,745 e-mails and handled more than 10,000 phone calls in the process of resolving constituent issues with state agencies. They work extremely hard for the people of our district and I appreciate them very much.
I will be back with another Update from the Capitol on Friday December 4. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!
More news from around the state
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For continually updated news from state agencies, visit: coronavirus.illinois.gov or my website at repbennett.com and click on COVID-19 Info. Persons with coronavirus questions or concerns should call the statewide toll-free coronavirus hotline at 1-800-889-3931. You can also submit questions via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My district offices remain closed to in-person visits, but are still accessible by phone at (815) 432-0106 (Watseka) and (815) 844-9179 (Pontiac).