Arlington Heights Daily Herald - Feb. 19, 2015

By Mike Riopell

More Breuder plans

State Sen. Melinda Bush, a Grayslake Democrat, has added another idea to the growing list of proposals sparked by the $763,000 severance package given to College of DuPage President Robert Breuder.

Her legislation would cap severance packages at 30 percent of a college president's annual salary.

"Families are struggling with the ever-rising price of higher education," Bush said in a statement. "To award nearly $1 million to an official just to quit is more than tone-deaf.

Read the original column here.

Category: In The News

Arlington Heights Daily Herald - Feb. 18, 2015

By Mike Riopell

Gov. Bruce Rauner today is asking suburbs to give up about half of the money they get each year from state income taxes.

The proposal comes as part of his sweeping ideas for budget cuts across state government intended to rescue the state's troubled finances, but mayors might not love what the move means for their budgets.

Rauner supported the state income tax reduction at the beginning of the year, but asking for the mayors' share would boost how much the state gets at the expense of local governments.

"Saying no is not popular," Rauner said.

The new governor touts the budget as one that doesn't rely on new taxes and says the amount the state has sent to communities over the years has continued to grow despite the state's troubles.

Mayors saw the proposal coming, and have already crunched some of the numbers. For Schaumburg, that'd be a cut of about $3.5 million in the next year.

Because of the give-and-take likely to occur with the legislature, however, Schaumburg Village President Al Larson considered it too early to start forming a plan as if Rauner's proposal was the final word.

"We have yet to sit down and discuss what our options are, but we have to wait until we find out what the final numbers are before we make any premature comment," Larson said.

Rauner, a Winnetka Republican, also has called for a freeze on property taxes, and Democrats said it was a contradiction that the governor would try to take money away and ask them to take in less local money at the same time.

"To me, it's a logical step to think that if we're taking their money ... that their option will be to increase property taxes," state Sen. Melinda Bush, a Grayslake Democrat, said.

Republicans, though, said there would need to be pain everywhere to solve the state's deep financial problems.

"It's going to be tough medicine for a lot of groups, but it's a realistic budget," state Rep. Tom Morrison, a Palatine Republican, said. "We actually balance the budget rather than using gimmicks."

Communities now share a pool of 8 percent of Illinois income taxes, and Rauner wants them to take 4 percent in the budget starting July 1.

Other towns that get less would lose less.

Rauner's plan will need lawmakers' approval to go forward.

His proposal is a more severe version of what's been proposed by former Gov. Pat Quinn in past years, so mayors have fought this battle before. They'd won so far, tapping into the political strength of local government at the Capitol, which is inhabited by lawmakers who have close ties to local officials. Many are former mayors or former members of various local boards.

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Category: In The News

Chicago Tribune - Feb. 11, 2015

By Stacy St. Clair and Jodi S. Cohen

An Illinois Senate panel will ask College of DuPage President Robert Breuder to appear before its members and answer questions regarding his controversial severance package from the publicly funded school, lawmakers said Wednesday.

The newly formed subcommittee on executive compensation also wants to speak with some of the college's trustees, most of whom have refused to discuss the $763,000 buyout. The board has referred to the deal as a "retirement" package in news releases, but at least two members now acknowledge they approved the deal in order to prematurely terminate Breuder's contract, which ran until 2019.

"It has sparked outrage in DuPage County and, really, throughout the state," state Sen. Bill Cunningham, D-Chicago, the subcommittee's chairman, said at a news conference. "It has raised a series of questions on how institutions of higher learning compensate their top executives."

Breuder's total compensation this year is about $484,000, according to an agreement that was secretly changed by the trustees over the years. Among other perks, Breuder gets housing and car allowances, $10,000 a year for professional development, pension contributions and a membership at an exclusive hunting club.

College spokesman Joseph Moore said the school is confident the subcommittee's investigation will find that Breuder's compensation is not unusual for an administrator with his experience. But he would not say whether Breuder would appear before the panel voluntarily.

"We are supportive of examining the compensation of senior higher education administrators," Moore said.

The Senate panel plans to investigate the salaries and perks provided to college administrators throughout the state. On Tuesday, Cunningham sent letters to the presidents of the state's nine public universities and 38 community colleges requesting senior leaders' contracts, buyouts and severance agreements from the past 10 years. He also requested all perks given to those employees, including housing expenses, memberships and other compensation.

The institutions are to provide records related to the president, provost, vice presidents, general counsel, athletic director and other top executives, according to letter. The schools were given a deadline of Feb. 17 to respond.

In the wake of the College of DuPage controversy, legislators have filed numerous bills aimed at punishing the school and preventing other taxing bodies from approving similar buyouts. Committee members said there must be a comprehensive look at college and university compensation before any decisions are made on those bills.

The Senate subcommittee plans to hold hearings across the state and intends to finish its work by the end of the spring session, lawmakers said. The subcommittee will post the contracts online as part of its efforts.

View the original story, including video of Senator Bush's comments.

Category: In The News

Feb. 13, 2015 - Lake County News-Sun

By Yadira Sanchez Olson

More than 200 people answered the third annual call to rise and fight for the safety of all women Thursday during a local version of the international One Billion Rising campaign..
 
The Lake County Rising event brought together residents as well as dozens of local officials and social service agencies at the Round Lake Beach Cultural and Civic Center, all determined to continue and broaden the movement.

Each year, near Valentine's Day, One Billion Rising reminds the world that while some women are feeling love and affection, there are others who are experiencing pain and fear.

"What a horrible thing to bring us together," said state Sen. Melinda Bush, D-31, of Grayslake, who helped organize the event. "But together is how we can end the violence."

Although the message is profound and pressing, as one in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime, the night's presentations were filled with hope that those in attendance will take action and make a change.

Former Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, who has prosecuted domestic violence cases, used her musical talents to bring attention to the dark side of some relationships.

Simon played the banjo and sang songs with stories about women who met tragic deaths at the hands of men who said they loved them.

"As you can see, violence is part of our culture and it's going to take a culture change to fix it," Simon said.

Grayslake mother Lauren Roback said it was fate that brought her to the Lake County Rising event Thursday.

Hours before, she had been cleaning her car and found a flier to the event.

On a whim she decided to attend with her 7-year-old daughter Angela and her friend Kritina Zavala.

"I'm a victim of emotional abuse," Roback said. "Coming to these events helps identify what you're gong through."

Roback was able to connect with a Safe Place and said she was happy to find out that the organization provides free counseling.

"I don't want my daughter to ever have to go through this," Roback said. "I have to break the cycle."

Agency officials passed out literature and spoke about available resources.
 
Additional performances included poems written by women who have experienced violence as well as a dance routine by Zion middle school dancers and the North shore Elite Cheerleaders.

View the original story.

Category: In The News

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