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Doug Finke

Holiday cheer from Rauner to Madigan

If anyone thought the holiday season would caused politicians to tone down the snark, guess again.

In fact, Gov. Bruce Rauner is using the holiday spirit to take another shot at his favorite target, House Speaker Michael Madigan. At we have #ThanksMike where you can “show your thanks to Mike Madigan this holiday season.” You enter your name, email and ZIP code and then type in a message.

A couple of messages are already posted. Gary says, “I am Mad Again at Mike Madigan. Please resign and make Illinois a better place.”

Becky writes, “Thanks, Mike, that pretty soon, my property taxes will be so high, that I will be moving out of this state. I have no obligation to pay for your corruption.”

Clearly, Rauner is providing an outlet for people moved by the spirit of the season.

Those are just a couple of examples posted to the site so far. More will be coming, it promises. So get those Madigan holiday greetings in as soon as possible and help spread the cheer.

* There’s also Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, who continues to poke at fellow Democrat J.B. Pritzker, along with Republican Rauner.

The latest was Biss’ “The Billionaire’s Guide to Becoming Governor.” It begins by saying Rauner “used a rigged system that benefits the wealthiest few to become governor and now (Pritzker) is following his lead.”

It then provides a handy checklist to see if your preferred candidate for governor has taken the necessary steps to become a billionaire governor. That includes such things as the candidate donating more than $40 million to his own campaign fund and also disclosing only minimal details about the source of his wealth.

Only recently, Bill Houlihan, a member of the Democratic State Central Committee and state director for U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Springfield, said he’d urged Biss to tone down his criticism of Pritzker, which was giving ammunition to the Republicans.

It looks like Biss isn’t going to back down, but at least this time he is taking shots equally at Rauner and Pritzker.

Concern in Quincy

Illinois gubernatorial candidates pounced Wednesday after a report aired on public radio about ongoing deaths at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy from outbreaks of Legionnaire’s disease.

The story produced by Chicago’s WBEZ and aired statewide documented repeated outbreaks of the disease that resulted in 13 deaths since 2015. Another 61 residents and staff fell ill from the disease. The story raised questions about how the crisis has been handled by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration since he has been in office.

Democrat J.B. Pritzker held a news conference in Chicago where he called for an independent investigation into problems at the facility and whether the Rauner administration has appropriately addressed them.

Pritzker said veterans should be moved out of the Quincy facility for their safety and work should be completed as soon as possible on a new veterans facility in Chicago. Construction of the Chicago home was delayed because of the state’s budget problems.

Democrat Chris Kennedy also called for an independent investigation to ensure there were no repeat occurrences.

“I am hopeful that Governor Rauner will join the call for an independent audit into why this happened and how we can ensure it will never happen again,” Kennedy said.

Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, said Rauner has “failed (veterans) by neglecting to address the outbreak of a wholly preventable disease in the Illinois Veterans Home. We need an immediate investigation into Rauner’s negligence and we must bring justice to these veterans and their families who are suffering as a result.”

Rauner’s Republican challenger, Rep. Jeanne Ives of Wheaton, called the report “sickening” and “another betrayal at the hand of Benedict Rauner.”

Rauner issued his own statement saying that the administration worked with the Centers for Disease Control and followed its recommendations when the first outbreak occurred early in his term. That included a new water management plant to control the bacteria that can be spread through contaminated water vapor.

“The CDC in its most recent report said the remediation is ‘aligned with the best practices identified in the CDC’s water management tool kit,’” Rauner said.

A 2015 Legionnaire’s outbreak killed 12 people and sickened many others. Another person died during an additional outbreak this past fall. Eleven families have sued the state.

WBEZ’s story included comments from Springfield resident Steve French, whose parents, Dolores and Richard lived the veterans home. After hearing about the outbreak in 2015, French said he called the facility to check on his parents and was told they were OK.

The next day he received a call from the home informing him that Dolores had died and had been dead for at least two days, the story said. The coroner suspected Legionnaires’ contributed to the death.

Richard French tested negative for the disease, but Steve French promptly moved his father out of the home. Richard French died four months later.

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