Week in Review: Crime, Madigan, Daylight Saving Time & More


Majority rule and rising crime rates. Illinois State Representative Deanne Mazzochi has accused the Democrat majority of not just being soft on crime, but creating state and local policies that allow crime to thrive.

Carjacking, burglaries, and retail thefts are on the rise in her district. Murders, robberies and gang violence are threatening other Chicagoland communities. And Democrats in Illinois won’t tackle the problem. They are comfortable sitting back while Illinois families endure violence in their neighborhoods with little recourse because Democratic lawmakers have refused to make laws to protect them.

According to Mazzochi, the Democrats in control of the committee tasked with hearing crime prevention legislation have focused on bills dealing with the rights of prisoners, criminal record expungement, and expanded parole, while ignoring a great number of bills targeted at combating crime.

Representative Dave Severin, the ranking Republican on the committee hearing criminal justice bills, agrees with Mazzochi’s assessment. He believes the prohibition of new public safety laws coupled with the recent passage of the Safe-T Act is fueling the violence and increased crime rates across the state. Many of the provisions in the Safe-T Act hamper the ability of law enforcement to do their jobs and at the same time it had made it easier for criminals to avoid prosecution, keeping them on the streets doing harm.

State Representative Patrick Windhorst, an experienced prosecutor, says law enforcement officials in his district have been vocal about their concerns, especially about ending cash bail that is part of the Safe-T Act. Windhorst filed legislation to repeal the Safe-T Act citing the need to curb rising crime rates, but his legislation was not permitted a public hearing by the Democrat majority.

For all but two of the last 37 years, Democrats have held the majority position and thus control the Illinois House of Representatives. They decide what bills are sent to committee and whether or not those bills actually receive a public hearing.

In recent years, the new Democrat leadership has found it necessary to flex their muscle in the General Assembly by refusing to let bills combating crime see the light of day. Their reason? Because they can. Time and time again they have cited “majority rule” as the rationale for blocking bills that would keep Illinoisans safe.

Just because they can, doesn’t mean they should. Public hearings equal transparency and accountability. So when Democrats prevent legislation from receiving a public hearing they are purposely keeping Illinoisans in the dark. Legislation should go through rigorous debate with input from experts, proponents and opponents. Only after that should the majority play its upper hand, voting to pass or kill a bill. Keeping legislation from public debate is tyranny, not leadership.

The Democrat majority has gone too far and Illinois residents are paying for it.

Former Speaker arraigned. The longtime head of the Democratic Party of Illinois was arraigned this week on a 22-count federal felony indictment. The indictment leveled charges of racketeering and wire fraud against the former Speaker of the Illinois House. The charges are related to an alleged pattern in which former Speaker Michael J. Madigan is said to have weaponized his legislative leadership and political party leadership in the interests of his law firm and close associates.

The former Speaker was not required to be present in person for his arraignment, and did not speak on the phone call that carried out the court procedure. Madigan’s arraignment was a procedure that officially acquainted him and his lawyers of the charges against him, and granted him standing as the defendant before a court of law. The former Speaker will now be granted time to study the charges against him, and to select a strategy for his criminal defense.

Reporters ask about former Speaker Madigan’s campaign money. The indicted former political party boss has a campaign fund of almost $10 million, much of which he can spend for his criminal defense. Millions of additional dollars were raised by Speaker Madigan and given to other Illinois politicians, many of whom are still in office. Reporters are asking questions about who received Madigan money, how much, what times the moneys changed hands, and what sorts of “key votes” on Illinois’ policy and future were taking place at the time these dollars where changing hands.

Spring flooding season begins. With snowmelt and heavy March rains comes the likelihood of flooding for many Illinois homes and farms, especially those located on clay soil or in bottomlands and floodplains. In the first week of March 2022, authorities had already published flood warnings for stretches of the Big Muddy River, Illinois River, Kaskaskia River, Ohio River, and the Wabash River. As March continues, these flood warnings will multiply as many Illinois rivers and streams lap at, or overflow, their banks.

Floods not only slow down spring farm work and close rural roads; they also damage property. The Illinois Emergency Management Authority (IEMA) maintains a webpage with useful public information about statewide flooding incidents. The webpage not only distinguishes between different levels of statements and warnings, but also contains information on how Illinoisans can act before, during, and after a flood to maintain safety and limit property damage. It is important to keep in mind that local water waste disposal infrastructure may be compromised in flooding incidents, so overflow waters should be treated as potentially hazardous.

Rep. Swanson Legislation Calls on President to Increase U.S. Oil & Gas Production as ‘Urgent National Priority.State Representative Dan Swanson filed legislation this week to declare U.S. oil and natural gas energy independence an urgent national priority. House Resolution 719 calls upon the federal government and President Joe Biden to reverse current anti-production policies and to take all possible steps to maximize immediate U.S. oil and gas production, including from U.S. federal lands and waters.

“This is not a partisan political issue but is actually a national security concern for our country and a real concern for all of the families and seniors on fixed incomes who are struggling every day with rising gas prices,” commented Rep. Dan Swanson. “Whether you’re a farmer planting crops, a trucker hauling our goods, or a business owner providing services, we need to act on this energy independence problem immediately and it should be a priority for the federal government.”

Rep. Swanson’s resolution points out that motor fuel is a commodity for which demand is inelastic, because its consumption is closely tied to promises made by ordinary American families; parents have promised their employers they will drive to work, and they have promised their children they will drive them to school and soccer practice.

The home production of oil and natural gas is closely tied to federal policies and much of the U.S. oil and gas that is yet to be pumped comes from federal lands and waters in the Rocky Mountains, the Great Plains, the Gulf of Mexico, coastal California, and Alaska. HR 719 points out that the price of motor fuel, at the pumps where Americans buy it, is approaching the record-high price set in 2008.

In this time of grave national uncertainty and economic and military threats, it is urgent that we achieve true energy independence in the United States of America. To achieve true energy independence, we need to maximize the production of American energy, including energy from U.S. federal lands, as well as reducing barriers to the construction of infrastructure to pump, deliver, and refine energy.

After repeated calls for action by House Republicans, House lifts face covering mandate. COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations dropped sharply in February and the first week of March, 2022, with the waning of the “Omicron variant” of COVID-19. The move to make face covering optional was contained in HR 717. The House changed its rules by bipartisan vote on Tuesday, March 8, 2022. House committees will continue, for now, to primarily meet electronically by videoconference. Legislative leaders praised the work of House staff for helping to keep operations going during the time of pandemic. The Illinois Senate also lifted its face covering mandate this week.

Fighting Illini win share of Big Ten men’s basketball championship. In its 20-game regular-season record, Illinois wound up 15-5 (22-8 overall) in the Big Ten. This record put Illinois among the Top 20 teams nationwide, and was the highest Big Ten men’s basketball regular season outcome for the Illini since 2005. As regular season co-champions, the Fighting Illini are preparing for the Big Ten tournament this weekend and for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament that will follow it. The Illini’s regular-season record assures it of a high-ranking seed in these tournaments.

The Loyola Ramblers, who are playing their final season in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC), won the 2022 MVC Men’s Basketball Tournament held on the first weekend of March. In games played at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, the Ramblers defeated Bradley, Northern Iowa, and Drake to win the MVC trophy. Like the Illini, the Ramblers will be invited to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, which will tip off with “play-in” games on Tuesday, March 15; the full NCAA tournament will begin on Thursday, March 17.

Gen. Wilma L. Vaught, member of the Women’s Hall of Fame. Growing up in Illinois, Vaught studied business administration at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). She joined the U.S. armed services as a financial comptroller, taking on additional responsibilities and promotions in rank. Serving in Europe, Vietnam and the United States, she was entrusted with handling the executive record-keeping of at least one bombardment wing of the U.S. Strategic Air Command – a job that involved both procurement challenges and maintenance of high-level operational security. As the first U.S. woman to deploy with an Air Force bomber unit, she was awarded the Bronze Star for executive service in field operations.

In 1980, Vaught was named a brigadier general of the U.S. Air Force on active duty. Wearing a general’s star until her retirement in 1985, Vaught turned in her second career towards the active celebration of her fellow women in the U.S. military. Vaught led the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit entity dedicated to the recognition of women in America’s armed forces. Private-sector donors raised $20 million to construct the memorial installation that stands today at the main gateway to Arlington National Cemetery. In 2000, Gen. Vaught was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Spring forward on Sunday. Daylight Saving Time begins this Sunday, March 13. Don't forget to spring ahead one hour Saturday night.

Illinois will observe daylight time, with clocks one hour ahead of standard time, until the first Sunday in November (November 6). All 102 counties in Illinois observe Central Standard Time and Central Daylight Time. This marks a major difference from the neighboring states of Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan, in which different counties within the state are in different time zones.