Democratic lawmakers unveiled legislation on Tuesday that would prevent Illinois pension funds from investing in any companies that hold contracts to help build a wall along the Mexican border, as promised by President-elect Donald Trump.
Sponsoring Rep. Will Guzzardi, who represents a majority Latino district on Chicago’s Northwest Side, said the bill is designed to send a message that taxpayer funds should not “be used to help send a message of hate to immigrants in this country.”
“Walls aren’t terribly effective with keeping people out,” Guzzardi said. “What walls are, walls are symbols. And Donald Trump’s proposal to build a wall with our border is trying to send a message that the people on the other side of that wall are dangerous.”
Under the legislation, the Illinois Investment Policy Board would conduct a review every four months to ensure the state is not investing in companies that receive federal contracts to work on the border wall. Last year, lawmakers approved legislation that required the state pension systems to stop investments in companies that boycott Israel.
Critics argue the focus should be on beefing up the state’s investment returns, noting the state’s $130 billion unfunded pension liability. Guzzardi counters there are plenty of companies to invest in that will help the state’s bottom line. He plans to call the bill for a vote in the House next week, but faces a tough deadline to get it through the Senate before a new crop of lawmakers is sworn in Jan. 11.
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner declined to weigh in on the legislation, saying he needed to review it further. But he said it was time to move past the "appalling" rhetoric of the campaign, saying "the people of Illinois value inclusion and tolerance and diversity."
"The rhetoric needs to tone down and everybody has to take a deep breath in order to start to be positive together," Rauner said. (Monique Garcia and Kim Geiger)
*Community remembers grandson of Rep. Danny Davis at vigil
*NCAA orders Notre Dame to vacate two seasons’ worth of wins for academic violations, including 12-0 run to ’13 championship game.
*Aloe vera lotions at some big retailers contain no aloe vera.
From the notebook
*City tab for outside review of Law Department is $1.6 million: The city has been billed $1.6 million for former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb to review Law Department practices after it came under fire for its handling of potential evidence in police misconduct cases, according to documents released Tuesday.
That was the tab for seven months of work earlier this year by Webb and a team of attorneys from the Winston & Strawn law firm — which a Law Department spokesman said came with a 55 percent discount from the normal fees that he said would have otherwise amounted to $3.5 million.
"More important, however, is the value the City and taxpayers received from the review and the report," spokesman Bill McCaffrey said in a statement. "First, they provided assurance to the public, the courts, plaintiffs’ attorneys and others that there was no pattern of intentional or other misconduct in (the Federal Civil Rights Litigation) division. Second, the review and report made a series of recommendations that the Law Department immediately implemented that improved FCRL’s policies and procedures — and its performance — going forward."
Webb in July recommended more than 50 Law Department reforms, including new, robust training that concentrates, in part, on “reinforcing a culture of compliance in discovery" — the formal legal process of opposing parties exchanging potential evidence.
The report also recommended that the Law Department stop interviewing officers named as defendants in group settings, which critics said promoted the Police Department’s code of silence by allowing officers to align their stories. And it concluded the FCRL division was understaffed and needed better supervision.
Next year, the division will add nine new staffers, according to the budget approved last week by the City Council. Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton previously told the Tribune he has instituted several reforms to ensure better discovery practices to reduce the role of police in collecting litigation documents, improve the management and verification of those documents, and expand discovery and ethics training for division lawyers.
Webb’s findings came one month after a Tribune investigation detailed how the Law Department routinely fights requests to turn over potential evidence in police misconduct cases, in some cases leading federal judges to take the unusual step of sanctioning city attorneys.
Emanuel tapped Webb to lead the review in early January, just days after U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang sanctioned one city lawyer for intentionally concealing evidence and another for failing to make a reasonable effort to locate key records. (Hal Dardick)
*Patrick joins Obama Foundation: Former Massachusetts Gov. and South Side native Deval Patrick has joined the board of directors of the Barack Obama Foundation that’s overseeing fundraising and planning for the Obama presidential library in Jackson Park.
Patrick, who’s now a managing director at Bain Capital investments, joins a group of Obama friends and political insiders on the nonprofit’s board.
Patrick grew up in the Washington Park neighborhood before leaving for an East Coast boarding school at age 14. After graduating from Harvard Law School, he worked as an assistant attorney general in the Clinton administration before winning election in 2006 as Massachusetts’ first African-American governor. He served two terms.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel named Patrick a senior adviser to the Police Accountability Task Force the mayor put together to offer advice on how to repair the relationship between the Chicago Police Department and the community in the wake of the release one year ago of the Laquan McDonald police shooting video.
"As a former South Sider, I am thrilled to participate in the development of a Foundation and Presidential Center in my old neighborhood,” Patrick said in a statement Tuesday from the foundation.
The foundation in its quarterly report last month listed among 11 donations a gift of between $500,000 and $1 million from a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and one of between $250,000 and $500,000 from a California-based foundation managed by the owner of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club.
The library is expected to cost a half-billion dollars and open in 2021 in historic Jackson Park south of the Museum of Science and Industry. (John Byrne)
Follow the money
*Track Illinois campaign contribution contributions in real time here and here.