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Beth Purvis investigation in Springfield... Rauner's 'education' chief is actually the long-time zealot who worked tirelessly for a decade to expand Chicago charter schools... Is 'education' for the State of Illinois basically charter schools expansion?... Purvis's pay subject to investigation....

By June 5, 2015, one of the foci of Illinois political theater was on the current status of Beth Purvis, a longtime fixture in Chicago Public Schools politics because of the support she received from two Chicago mayors (Richard M. Daley and Rahm Emanuel) and other leaders of the Democratic Party long before she was appointed "Chief Education Officer" for Illinois by Republican Governor Bruce Rauner. Beth Purvis (above) after speaking at the October 22, 2008 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. At the time, the Board President was Rufus Williams, the mayor was Richard M. Daley, and the promotion of the expansion of charter schools was in the hands of Democratic Party leaders. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.

The article below from Jim Broadway was forwarded to us by Susan Ohanian. Other articles are also included, including the coverage in the Sun-Times.

The revelation that Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has selected one of the most important charter school officials in Chicago to be his head of education for Illinois is one of the most important facts before the state. The fact that Rauner is spending money that should be spent on programs for the poor to pay Beth Purvis is just another local example of the hypocrisies that have long been a part of the Chicago charter schools scams.

The other articles on June 5, 2015, in the Chicago newspapers indicate that more reporters are doing part of their jobs in checking a bit on how Rauner is operating, but we can't lose sight of the fact that Rauner's current stupidity and arrogance are in a long tradition of similar examples of what we might call "Executive Arrogance" on the part of the leaders of Chicago and Springfield. During the years that the Daley administration was expanding the reach of Chicago International Charter Schools (CICS) from the city's far north side ("Chicago International Northtown Campus) all the way out to the farthest reaches of the South Side (the St. Anthony "campus"), every scandal involving CICS operations -- from sexual misconduct to broken promises to parents (poor and working class parents were promised "computers" for their kids in a CICS bait-and-switch more than ten years ago) -- was covered up by successive CPS administrations beginning with CEO Paul Vallas, continuing under Arne Duncan, and to the present day.

While Rauner's aides try and create distractions over whether it was decent to pay Purvis her quarter million dollar annual salary out of money earmarked for the poor, other histories are missed.

Rauner's office, Dems clash over gov paying $250K salary out of autism, epilepsy money

WRITTEN BY NATASHA KORECKI POSTED, Chicago Sun-Times, 06/04/2015, 10:02AM

Beth Purvis' $250,000 salary is being paid out of a department that funds epilepsy and autism services. A House panel today is reviewing the issue.|Al Podgorski/Sun-Times Media

Gov. Bruce Rauners office repeatedly clashed with House Democrats on Thursday as a House panel attempted to examine why the governors $250,000 handpicked education secretary is being paid out of a budget meant for the states most vulnerable.

At the onset of the committee hearing, the governors office released a statement calling it a sexist smear a characterization that further fired up House Democrats later in the day.

At issue was why Rauner was paying a member of his cabinet Beth Purvis out of the Department of Human Services budget. That agency has been the target of past and future cuts.

It really looks bad when were taking poor people off of child care, and kicking them off of community care and paying somebody out of this budget, said state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago. I think the optics are bad. My only request is that you go back to the governors office, speak to your counsel, and find another place to pay Beth Purvis out of the state budget, please.

The hearing was called in response to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times last week that revealed Rauners education secretary was being paid out of the Department of Human Services. That department had been the target of $26 million in cuts aimed at autism, epilepsy and burials for the indigent. While those services were restored, DHS faces additional cuts over the next year.

I think this line of questioning is really hypocritical, said Rauner aide Richard Goldberg as he testified on Thursday. Goldberg characterized the hearing as a distraction from a budget that is $4 billion out of balance. Goldberg defended the practice of off-shoring as something past administrations had engaged in and said that the state doesnt operate in silos its all taxpayer money.

Members of the committee said it might not be prudent to follow in the footsteps of past governors such as Rod Blagojevich and Pat Quinn on that issue.

As a shot across the bow, the governors office released a list of salaries and benefits of top Democratic staffers, including the chief of staff to Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago.

The hearing grew heated and divisive along political lines, with debate over the matter spilling over onto the House floor later. Democratic committee members, who said they were troubled not by Purvis salary but from where it was being paid out of and the governors office, who dismissed the hearing as a political sham.

Youre speaking to a committee that has the right to ask you questions . . . you keep going around in circles, said state Rep. Edward Acevedo, D-Chicago. I think the only sham thats going on today is the answers youre giving us right now. So if you want to speak to us like that, Im gonna speak the same way towards you. Because Im not a little child thats going to sit here and be chastised by the governors office.

Purvis herself did not appear before the committee, though numerous members said they wanted to question her personally.

Later in the day, state Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, blasted Rauners aide on the House floor.

You used that committee time as an opportunity to be insulting and to be degrading and to say things that are beneath the dignity of this chamber, Lang shouted. I stand against those comments. I stand against that press release. . . . Those comments were degrading to the process, and they should stop.

When Lang sat down after his remarks, Democrats gave him a standing ovation, including Madigan who inched toward Lang while applauding and smiling.

This is an example of gotcha politics at its worst, said state Rep. Ron Sandack, R-Downers Grove. Precious dollars are being wasted, right here, right now and its a waste.

But House members in turn said Goldberg was creating a distraction and not answering why Purvis is being paid out of a department that funds the states neediest, including services for autism and epilepsy. Goldberg said he has answered, explaining Purvis is looking at education from cradle to career, which overlaps with DHS.

State Rep. Gregory Harris, D-Chicago, rattled off a list of services that could have been paid for with $250,000, including day care funding.

In March, when Rauner hired Purvis, a former charter school director, her salary was the highest-paid position in the governors cabinet.

On Sunday, the Sun-Times reported that another top Rauner aide, Jennifer Hammer, is being paid her $155,000 annual salary out of the Department of Human Services budget. Hammer, identified by Rauners administration as the governors senior policy adviser, testified last week in a different committee as the governor sought implementation of his Turnaround Agenda.

Rauner was asked about his practice of off-shoring, taking the salaries for his employees out of budgets other than the governors budget.

We are all about reform, Rauner responded. We have assembled the most talented team of leaders that I know of to turn around a state government. Im very proud of our team. And we are going to drive a transformation.

Harris blasted the off-shoring.

This lucrative salary for the states head of education is paid by an agency where Governor Rauner recently eliminated funding for autistic children and after-school tutoring and wants to make further reductions that would drastically impact services for the frail, the elderly, children with disabilities and our most vulnerable citizens, said Harris, who chairs the House Human Services Appropriations Committee.

Taxpayers and the families who stand to be seriously harmed by the governors slash-and-burn budget plan deserve an explanation. This six-figure salary buried within the Department of Human Services could go a long way toward helping to fund medical care services for the elderly, persons with disabilities, struggling families, autistic children or any number of other services provided through the department.

Purvis contract, signed March 13, indicates that shes being paid out of the Department of Human Services, even as it states she will report directly to the governors chief of staff or designee.

Three weeks after Purvis contract was signed, the governors office announced that the Department of Human Services was strapped for cash and sliced $26 million in services including for autism, epilepsy and burials for the indigent. The cuts, later known as the Good Friday Massacre, caused some programs to shut down. The cuts caused a furor, prompting Madigan to call a public hearing on why it happened after Democrats said they believed a budget deal with the governor protected such services.

Beth Purvis of Chicago International Charter Schools (CICS) spoke regularly at the meetings of the Chicago Board of Education, as she is seen doing above at the December 15, 2010 Board meeting. Purvis and CICS received massive support from mayors Richard M. Daley and Rahm Emanuel long before Purvis was appointed by Governor Bruce Rauner to be Rauner's "Chief Education Officer" for the State of Illinois. The Purvis activities extended through two Democratic and into one Republican administration. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Inquiry into 'Secretary of Education' assignment starts today, By Jim Broadway, Publisher, Illinois School News Service

It shocked legislators in both parties (although only one party's legislators complained) to learn late last month that the "Secretary of Education" appointed by Gov. Bruce Rauner (1) was being paid $250,000 per annum and (2) her salary was being paid by the Illinois Department of Human Services.

Yes, that is the state agency that suffered $26 million in cuts in the infamous "Good Friday Massacre," the agency that supports state services to persons with epilepsy and to families with autistic children, the agency whose fragile budget must cover the costs of burying indigent citizens.

Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), who chairs the House committee that considers appropriations for human services, was outraged on the floor of the House. "Financial trickery," he called hiding the outsized salary of the governor's top advisor on education policy in the budget of an agency the most vulnerable citizens rely on.

How tricky was it? Neither Secretary of Education Beth Purvis' salary, nor the fact that she was assigned to the DHS even though she reports to Rauner's Chief of Staff was known until the Chicago Sun-Times filed a Freedom of Information Act demand that the information be disclosed. That's "not transparent," Harris railed.

How could it have come about? Harris hopes to find out at a hearing of his committee scheduled at 11 a.m. today, a hearing on the "Subject Matter: Regarding the Department of Human Services employing Beth Purvis as a Secretary of Education." In a hand-delivered letter, he invited Rauner to testify.

"I invite you to appear [before the committee] to explain the decision-making process that led to this situation," Harris wrote to Rauner. "We are also interested to know if there are other department heads whose compensation is buried within the budgets of departments other than those that they lead."

Will the governor show up? Or will he invoke "executive privilege"? We don't know. Perhaps Purvis will attend. She would not respond to the Sun-Times reporter because, in the last week of the legislative session, she was at a conference in sunny California. But she has gumption and may very well respond to Harris.

The venue for the event if Room 118 at the Capitol. You should be able to listen to the proceedings live via the General Assembly's webcast feature. Here's the link to House audio/video access. Click it at 11 a.m. or so, choose Room 118 (not Room 114; another committee is to meet there) and enjoy the show.

It's worth noting that Illinois governors are noted for the sneaky practice of "outsourcing" key advisors to agencies where they have too little involvement to justify the payroll shuffle. Former Gov. Dan Walker made the practice famous; one of his out-sourced staffers was a young law student named Pat Quinn.

What else might the House be up to this week? Ostensibly, their main mission might be to figure out how they can raise more than $3 billion in state revenue so that $36.3 billion FY 2016 budget they amended last week might balance. But other than the Purvis matter, only amendments to a workers' comp bill are posted.

Many bills that were on the calendar last week, but were not called for a vote, remain available for the House to debate and enact - but as of Monday the three-fifths majority vote requirements has taken effect. The House can pass bills, but it would take 71 votes, not the usual 60, to get the job done.

The Senate is not in this week. It is scheduled to convene Tuesday.

Legislators passed hundreds of bills this session, but almost all of them are still in the custody of the chamber of origin. Nearly 500 of them - 269 originating in the House and 226 originating in the Senate - have not yet been "certified" as having passed in a constitutional manner, which is required.

The Constitution (Article IV) gives the legislative leaders 30 calendar days from the final action vote on a bill as its deadline for delivery to the governor for his consideration. The only bill now on the governor's desk is HB 352, which would allow bobcat-killers to satisfy their unique form of bloodlust.

The 30-day time allowance for certification of bills, by the way, is why the Republicans were so vocal in insisting that House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton promise to certify the budget bills with their usual one-day timeliness. A timely certification would be in Rauner's interest.

A month's delay would bump against the July 1 start of the fiscal year, putting Rauner under maximum pressure. Would Madigan and Cullerton do such a thing? Anyway, GOP legislators put on quite a show. Sen. Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) even compared a delayed budget to a "tree falling in the forest. It didn't happen."

Currently, no budget bills have received "final action" votes. Some are House bills that have passed the House but not the Senate. Others are House bills that were amended in the Senate but the House has not yet concurred with amendments. At this point, there is nothing for the leaders to certify.

Rauner, however, has taken action. In anticipation of receiving budget bills dramatically out of balance, the governor has already decided on administrative steps he shall take to save an estimated $400 million. Significantly, the first item on his list is the suspension of state tax incentives for corporations.

No "film credits" for moviemakers who might bring their projects to Illinois. No "high-impact" designations conferring tax breaks to businesses. No "EDGE" grants or other incentives to attract large businesses to the state.

Next on the list is the "State Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program," a way to keep the lights and air-conditioners running for low-income families. The state portion is suspended. The $170 million in federal support still remains.

There are five museums owned and operated by the state. Preparations to close them are under way. Programs serving the elderly, poor children, the state prisons, juvenile justice and transportation - all will be ended or scaled back.

A bill to ease up on student discipline is among the measures waiting to be certified and sent to Rauner's desk. Briefly, SB 100 is designed to discourage school districts from expelling students or suspending them for more than three days unless their presence in a school is truly disruptive.

The bill describes in great detail the circumstances under which a student may be barred from school for a period of time, and it prescribes an elaborate process for districts to follow when they take such action. Districts would have until the school year starting September of 2016 to have adopted policies called for in the bill.

The language of the bill clearly expresses the intent of legislators favoring it, that "interventions" not involving expulsion or suspension are much preferred. The bill was not unanimously favored. It's final form passed by a 73-41 vote in the House and the Senate concurred with House amendments 43-11.

In an almost unique situation, SB 100 was a result of efforts by an organization composed largely of high school students. The group is called "VOYCE" (Voices of Youth in Chicago Education), and its members have traveled to Springfield often in the last two years in their "Campaign for Common Sense Discipline."

The organization cites the approximately 2,400 expulsions and 272,000 out-of-school suspensions as evidence that "Illinois students are losing over one million instructional days per year." Their news release says the bill is "now awaiting the Governor's signature." But the kids are wrong about that.

SB 100 has not yet been certified as having passed in a constitutional manner. (But it was so passed and it will soon be certified and, by the end of the month it will be "awaiting the Governor's signature.")

The Illinois Coalition for Community Services has helped communities of low-income, often high-poverty, rural and urban areas of about 80 of Illinois' 102 counties for 35 years. This non-profit organization has also made sure thousands of children get nutrition each summer when school it out.

Like many human services organizations, the ICCS relies on state reimbursements as well as on the generous spirit of citizens to continue its mission. As recently demonstrated, the state is not the most reliable source of support. Your help would be greatly appreciated. Check Here to Donate to the ICCS. Thank you.

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