The Land of Lincoln is in trouble.
Illinois is falling flat on its face and quickly becoming one of the worst states in the country. This didn’t happen overnight. Republican governor Bruce Rauner is just one of the many powerful individuals responsible for the crisis.
Under his tenure, Illinois went without a budget for two years. The stalemate between Illinois Democrats and Republicans left the state in disarray. And though the two sides mercifully came to an agreement in July, the impact of the budget impasse will be felt for years to come.
There is more than enough blame to go around on both sides of the political spectrum, but it’s important to understand the specific policies and actions of those in power that led Illinois down this path. Governor Rauner inherited a mess.
His failure to act as the true leader decimated the state economy beyond belief. According to the governor, none of this is his fault. In fact, he believes that he’s not even in charge of Illinois.
In a soundbite that will likely live in campaign ad infamy, Rauner said “I am not in charge” in reference to his ongoing fued with longtime Speaker of the House Michael Madigan.
The governor said he would like to be in charge, but he failed to explain how he’s been overruled by the Speaker. This comment came at the end of another embarrassing year in Illinois in which the governor failed to act as a leader and only solidified his destiny as a one-term wonder.
He’s certainly not the only person to blame in this catastrophe, but his lack of accountability shows he’s not the person to run a state in deep financial turmoil. The election won’t come until later this year, but Rauner will face a significant threat from any of the top three Democratic primary challengers.
Nevertheless, the damage has been done. And those who flocked from Illinois aren’t going to want to come back to a state with one of the worst economies in the United States. It will take years, if not decades, for Illinois to recover from the two-year budget impasse that wreaked havoc on the working class and virtually the entire state.
The 2018 state elections will be critical to getting the state back on the right path. Billionaire JB Pritzker is the likely candidate to take on Rauner in November, but that will be decided by Democratic primary voters in March. While most elected officials have thrown their support to Pritzker, a contested primary could be good for the state.
But blame for the issues in Illinois are certainly not solely the fault of the Republican party.
Joseph Berrios, the Cook County assessor, has long been considered one of the most corrupt politicians in Illinois. His office determines property taxes for all residents in Cook County, which includes millions of Illinois residents predominately in the Chicago and suburban areas.
Berrios was recently the subject of a ProPublica and Chicago Tribune investigation that determined his office often gives unfair assessments to property owners around the county. The reports were especially damaging as they provide evidence that the county unfairly taxed poor residents and people of color.
Berrios is facing tremendous opposition about these developments, though the Democratic establishment has been quiet about the controversy. Democrats would be wise to distance themselves from Berrios, but that doesn’t seem likely. As property taxes go up, residents either migrate out of Cook County to other parts of Illinois or out of the state altogether.
And the unfair taxes aren’t limited to property owners either. Cook County recently passed (and then later revoked) a sugary beverage tax that charged consumers a penny more per ounce in drinks containing sugar and other potentially unhealthy ingredients.
It’s not a shocker that Illinois lost more residents in 2016 than any other state, but the common mistake is to blame one political party for this mess. For years, both parties have been developing detrimental policies that have culminated in a financial crisis that has people fleeing the state. It’s clear that change will need to happen to save Illinois and repair the damage that has been done.
The 2018 elections will prove whether or not there is hope for the state going forward. And with time, if all goes right, maybe Illinois can begin to win back people’s trust.
Pennsylvania University Stunned by Child Pornography Allegations
Popular philosophy professor at Bloomsburg University charged with possessing child porn.
Scott Lowe, a professor of philosophy at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania, was arrested late last week and charged with with four counts of possessing child pornography and one count of criminal use of a communication facility. The charges against the popular professor have left students and administration at the school of just over 9,000 students shocked.
The school’s newspaper, The Voice, reported:
Steve Hales, the head of the Philosophy department, expressed his disbelief for the situation, “It seemed like must be some kind of disturbing mistake which I couldn’t understand.” Hales was a friend to Lowe and, like many who knew him, could not understand what was happening. Lowe was known to be easy to get along with, reliable and was a very popular professor. Lowe enjoyed hanging out with his friends and playing pub trivia, according to Hales.
Bail for the 56-year-old Lowe was set at $250,000 and a preliminary hearing scheduled for February 28.
According to Lehigh Valley Live, a routine audit on the professor’s computer turned up “alarming malware associated with his internet usage of the Bloomsburg University network,” which led to a police investigation.
Several students told The Voice that they got no messages from the school about the situation and were surprised to find that classes were either cancelled or that other professors had stepped in to teach.
Miranda Jacobs told the paper that she had “heard a lot of stories about this guy about him being really nice and just very family oriented.”
Did the College Board Use Florida Shooting as Advertising Strategy?
A controversial mass email sent by the College Board on Wednesday has gone viral.
A controversial mass email sent by the College Board on Wednesday has gone viral, eliciting a wave of public backlash against the organization’s alleged attempt to exploit last Wednesday’s Florida school shooting massacre to advertise the College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) courses.
In his email to fellow colleagues and education administrators, College Board President David Coleman began his message by conveying College Board’s condolences to individuals and families affected by the tragedy. Coleman progressed to commend the efforts of student activist coalitions and draws upon Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez’s plea for gun control legislative reform.
He emphasized on how he felt “compelled to share the unadulterated, impassioned voice of a student,” whose exposure to AP Government has equipped her with necessary skills to identify evidence. However, Coleman expressed his conflicting perspective to Gonzalez’s position on gun control, asserting his belief that Gonzalez could have attempted “to better understand the positions of gun rights proponents.”
Coleman also references a published interview of another Stoneman Douglas student David Hogg, in which Hogg credits his AP History class for spurring his interest in the role of journalism in society, declaring that “David Hogg’s words honor Advanced Placement teachers everywhere, for they reflect their power to open worlds and futures to students.”
Provoked by the contents of the email, several recipients have unleashed their ire on social media platforms. Andrew B. Palumbo, the Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, tweeted his outrage in a reply to Jon Boesckenstedt, the Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management and Marketing at DePaul University, calling for College Board to immediately issue an apology to the public.
I hope an apology is sent immediately and the College Board does something to support the brave students of Parkland!
Another example of adults failing our students. Shameful attempt to turn a mass shooting into a free advertisement for AP.
— Andrew B. Palumbo (@InsideAdmission) February 21, 2018
Former chairman of College Board’s science academic advisory committee, Jennifer Pfannerstill, tendered in her formal resignation on Thursday afternoon, citing that she is unable to “advocate for, and stand by, [an] organization that in one of our nation’s times of trial, would question the very students who allow them to exist and would promote itself as the only program to teach students how to use evidence”
The College Board has since broken its silence, publishing a public apology in an attempt to appease its angered social media followers and critics, exerting that they had no intention of diverting the attention away from the plights of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School survivors and their community.
So, mistakes happen. And stupid mistakes happen. No one–including me–is immune to them. But what came next is even more strange. This morning, a staff member at the College Board posted this to the NACAC e-list (and probably elsewhere) pic.twitter.com/AL1RPIaijV
— Jon Boeckenstedt (@JonBoeckenstedt) February 22, 2018
College Grants Scholarship Aid to Slain Police Officer’s Family
Eric Joering was fatally shot while on duty on February 10th.
The children of slain Westerville Police officer have been awarded full-ride scholarships to attend Otterbein University.
The private four-year university first disclosed its decision to sponsor the daughters of Officer Eric Joering, who was fatally shot while on duty alongside Officer Anthony Morelli on February 10th, 2018, at a Westerville City Council meeting on Tuesday, February 20th. In a subsequent press release published on its website and social media accounts on Wednesday, the university expressed its hopes of providing a system of support for the Joering family as they transition through this difficult period by ensuring that each daughter “has sufficient support to complete an undergraduate degree at Otterbein.”
#Otterbein is committing to full tuition scholarships for each of Officer Joering’s 4 daughters for a period of up to 4yrs of full-time study to assure that each of them has sufficient support to complete an undergrad degree at Otterbein. #WestervilleStrong #OtterbeinKindness 1/2
— Otterbein University (@Otterbein) February 21, 2018
Our #Otterbein community hopes this act of kindness via scholarships for Officer Joering's 4 daughters will bring some peace to his children during this difficult time by providing them long-term security and support. #WestervilleStrong #OtterbeinKindness 2/2
— Otterbein University (@Otterbein) February 21, 2018
Otterbein University has also dedicated a Spotlight tribute in honor of the two officers, extending the university’s condolences to the families of the fallen officers as well as the Westerville Police Department.
Authorities have charged the 30-year-old perpetrator, Quentin Smith, with two counts of aggravated murder of Joering and Morelli. Officers Joering and Morelli were said to have arrived at Smith’s townhome residence after having received an urgent 911 domestic violence call where they were met with a hostile Smith. Former reports have indicated that there were several prior domestic violence incidences where police similarly had been called to Smith’s property, albeit without any arrests made.
Smith was reported to have been critically injured upon his arrest and was promptly hospitalized. Smith has since been discharged and is currently held without bail.
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