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Archive → January 20th, 2016

ILL. Democrat Leaders would rather kick the can than face the problem

kick the can

Democrats on Rauner’s CPS takeover plan: ‘Not going to happen’

Gov. Bruce Rauner and Republican legislative leaders on Wednesday proposed a state takeover of Chicago Public Schools and permitting the troubled district to declare bankruptcy to get its finances in order, billing the controversial ideas as a “lifeline” and not “a state bailout.”

It’s the latest move as Gov. Bruce Rauner and Mayor Rahm Emanuel continue to play the blame game over CPS’ $480 million budget shortfall that threatens layoffs and has led to heavy borrowing to keep the state’s largest school district afloat.

Rauner offered perhaps his harshest criticism of Emanuel to date, suggesting the mayor “is ready to back down and cave into the teachers union” in current contract talks.

“The mayor has failed on this,” Rauner said of fixing CPS’ finances. “He’s failed on public safety, he’s failed on schools, he’s failed on jobs in the neighborhoods, he’s failed on taxes, he’s failed on reforms. And I’m tired of it. We have to take action.”

The governor said if the state gets involved, “we can take on the teachers union in Chicago. The mayor is afraid of them. He’s not taking them on. He caved in the teachers strike 41/2 years ago, and he’s sending the message right now, he’s going to give them what they want and then say, state pay for it. We are not going to let that happen.”

The Emanuel administration pushed back.

“Giving control of our children’s future to a governor who can’t pass his own budget, who is racking up billions in unpaid bills, and who is crippling higher education across the state makes zero sense,” Emanuel spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said. “With just a few weeks to go before delivering a second budget address without having passed his first budget, it’s clear the Republicans in Springfield are trying desperately to distract from their own failures.”

Democrats control the legislature, and both House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton made it clear the Republican takeover plan is dead on arrival at the Capitol.

“Gov. Rauner hopes to use a crisis to impose his anti-middle class agenda,” Madigan said in a statement. “Republicans’ ultimate plans include allowing cities throughout the state to file for bankruptcy protection, which they admitted today would permit cities and school districts to end their contracts with teachers and workers — stripping thousands of their hard-earned retirement security and the middle-class living they have worked years to achieve.

“When Detroit was granted bankruptcy protection, retirement security was slashed for employees and retirees. That is not the path we want to follow in Illinois.”

As described by the GOP leaders, the legislation would allow the Rauner-appointed State Board of Education to remove the current Chicago Board of Education and create an independent authority to run CPS until it is determined the district is no longer in financial difficulty. The leaders said the change would add CPS to a state financial oversight law that it is exempted from but that applies to all other Illinois school districts.

Another measure would allow school districts like CPS to declare bankruptcy, which could allow it to void union contracts. Rep. Ron Sandack, R-Downers Grove, acknowledged that’s a possibility under the bankruptcy option.

“We didn’t come to this lightly, but the track record of Chicago and its public school system is abysmal,” said Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno of Lemont.

House Republican leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs said “the goal here is to provide the tools to right the ship.”

Cullerton outright dismissed the plan, saying it “is not going to happen.”

“It’s mean-spirited and evidence of their total lack of knowledge of the real problems facing Chicago Public Schools. The unfair treatment of pension systems by the state is the immediate cause of CPS’ financial problem,” Cullerton said in a statement. “That situation ought to be addressed rather than promoting this far-fetched notion that the state is somehow in the position to take over Chicago schools. This ridiculous idea only serves as a distraction from the state’s problems that these two state leaders should be focusing on.”

The state covers the cost of teacher pensions in the suburbs and Downstate, but not for CPS, which has long had its own pension system. CPS instead gets more state money in other education areas as Chicago homeowners pay property taxes that cover teacher pension costs.

Durkin and Radogno tried to pressure Cullerton and Madigan on the issue.

“We are willing to help Chicago Public Schools, but we have been stonewalled by Mike Madigan and the Democratic majority to protect the status quo,” Radogno said.

Forrest Claypool, who Emanuel appointed to serve as CPS’ chief executive, said in a statement that the governor’s proposal was “a sideshow” and a “reckless smoke screen” that distracted from the district’s recent demands that lawmakers change how Illinois schools are funded and bail out CPS.

“In fact, while Republican leaders choreograph this distraction, CPS is taking steps to fix everything within our fiscal control and keep as much money in our classrooms as we can,” Claypool said in a statement.

“CPS and the CTU leadership are working feverishly to reach a deal that would cut costs while preventing midyear layoffs, the district is going to market with $875 million in bonds and we’re on the verge of even deeper cuts to the bureaucracy.”

The Chicago Teachers Union blasted the proposal, saying the legislation amounted to “the latest example of the ‘bull in a china shop’ methods in which (Rauner) clumsily attempts to lead.”

“A call for Springfield to assume responsibility of the finances of Chicago Public Schools is a non-starter when state government has so far been unable to assume responsibility for its own budget,” the union said in a statement.

Talk of a move to re-establish state fiscal oversight of the city’s schools has circulated since the summer and comes as bond ratings agencies have dropped CPS’ debt deeper into junk status in advance of district plans to add more than $850 million to its overall debt load.

The city’s schools have been under the state’s emergency oversight before. In 1980, a district fiscal crisis that prompted banks to withhold loans from CPS prodded state lawmakers to create the Chicago School Finance Authority to supervise schools.

CPS had to submit a balanced budget to the authority, which had power to keep school doors closed until it approved or rejected district spending plans and contracts.

That arrangement lasted until 1995, when a Republican-led legislature passed legislation that gave then-Mayor Richard M. Daley control of CPS. Daley quickly sought permission from Springfield to divert district pension dollars to other uses and saw the school system take its first partial pension holiday.

Source: Will County News

El Chapo has guns from U.S. from Fast and Furious/ Obama tries to hide the truth

Federal Judge Rejects Justice Department’s Executive Privilege Claim in Withholding Fast and Furious Docs

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge has rejected the Justice Department’s claim of executive privilege used to withhold documents tied to the Fast and Furious “gun-walking” scandal from release to a congressional committee.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

House Republicans subpoenaed thousands of emails related to the operation and sued in federal court to obtain them.

In her decision on Tuesday, Judge Amy Berman Jackson rejected the department’s blanket assertion of executive privilege, saying much of the withheld information had already been disclosed through other channels.

The ruling is the latest development in a years-long legal fight over the botched effort by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to track guns across the Southwest border.

Source: Will County News

Hilary Clinton above top secret Emails

hillary2

Fox Just Broke News That Could End Hillary Clinton’s Campaign                                                January 19, 2016

Fox News exclusively obtained the unclassified letter, sent Jan. 14 from Intelligence Community Inspector General I. Charles McCullough III. It laid out the findings of a recent comprehensive review by intelligence agencies that identified “several dozen” additional classified emails — including specific intelligence known as “special access programs” (SAP).

That indicates a level of classification beyond even “top secret,” the label previously given to two emails found on her server, and brings even more scrutiny to the presidential candidate’s handling of the government’s closely held secrets.

“To date, I have received two sworn declarations from one [intelligence community] element. These declarations cover several dozen emails containing classified information determined by the IC element to be at the confidential, secret, and top secret/sap levels,” said the IG letter to lawmakers with oversight of the intelligence community and State Department. “According to the declarant, these documents contain information derived from classified IC element sources.”

Intelligence from a “special access program,” or SAP, is even more sensitive than that designated as “top secret” – as were two emails identified last summer in a random sample pulled from Clinton’s private server she used as secretary of state. Access to a SAP is restricted to those with a “need-to-know” because exposure of the intelligence would likely reveal the source, putting a method of intelligence collection — or a human asset — at risk. Currently, some 1,340 emails designated “classified” have been found on Clinton’s server, though the Democratic presidential candidate insists the information was not classified at the time.

“There is absolutely no way that one could not recognize SAP material,” a former senior law enforcement with decades of experience investigating violations of SAP procedures told Fox News. “It is the most sensitive of the sensitive.”

In a statement, Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said, “This is the same interagency dispute that has been playing out for months, and it does not change the fact that these emails were not classified at the time they were sent or received. It is alarming that the intelligence community IG, working with Republicans in Congress, continues to selectively leak materials in order to resurface the same allegations and try to hurt Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

“The Justice Department’s inquiry should be allowed to proceed without any further interference.”

Executive Order 13526 — called “Classified National Security Information” and signed Dec. 29, 2009 — sets out the legal framework for establishing special access programs. The order says the programs can only be authorized by the president, “the Secretaries of State, Defense, Energy, and Homeland Security, the Attorney General, and the Director of National Intelligence, or the principal deputy of each.”

The programs are created when “the vulnerability of, or threat to, specific information is exceptional,” and “the number of persons who ordinarily will have access will be reasonably small and commensurate with the objective of providing enhanced protection for the information involved,” it states.

According to court documents, former CIA Director David Petraeus was prosecuted for sharing intelligence from special access programs with his biographer and mistress Paula Broadwell. At the heart of his prosecution was a non-disclosure agreement where Petraeus agreed to protect these closely held government programs, with the understanding “unauthorized disclosure, unauthorized retention or negligent handling … could cause irreparable injury to the United States or be used to advantage by a foreign nation.” Clinton signed an identical non-disclosure agreement Jan. 22, 2009.

Fox News is told that the recent IG letter was sent to the leadership of the House and Senate intelligence committees and leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as well as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and State Department inspector general.

Representatives for the ODNI and intelligence community inspector general had no comment.

In a statement, State Department spokesman John Kirby said, “The State Department is focused on and committed to releasing former Secretary Clinton’s emails in a manner that protects sensitive information. No one takes this more seriously than we do.”

The intelligence community IG was responding in his message to a November letter from the Republican chairmen of the Senate intelligence and foreign relations committees that questioned the State Department email review process after it was wrongly reported the intelligence community was retreating from the “top secret” designation.

As Fox News first reported, those two emails were “top secret” when they hit the server, and it is now considered a settled matter.

The intelligence agencies now have their own reviewers embedded at the State Department as part of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) process. The reviewers are identifying intelligence of a potentially classified nature, and referring it to the relevant intelligence agency for further review.

There is no formal appeals process for classification, and the agency that generates the intelligence has final say. The State Department only has control over the fraction of emails that pertain to their own intelligence.

While the State Department and Clinton campaign have said the emails in questions were “retroactively classified” or “upgraded” – to justify the more than 1,300 classified emails on her server – those terms are meaningless under federal law.

The former federal law enforcement official said the finding in the January IG letter represents a potential violation of USC 18 Section 793, “gross negligence” in the handling of secure information under the Espionage Act.

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

 

 

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Source: Will County News