By The Associated Press
February 5, 2018
SIU chancellor who gets family hired looks like old Chicago ward boss
Here's a pro tip for you chancellors at hard-up public universities who are thinking about hiring your own daughters:
Don't do it.
Don't hire your sons-in-law, either.
It looks bad, and nobody afterward will feel quite so confident that you are serious about getting your university's finances in order and protecting important academic programs.
They might look at you, fairly or not, like you're an old-time Chicago ward boss.
Carlo Montemagno was hired last year as chancellor at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He makes $340,000 a year.
That's a lot of money, but top university talent doesn't come cheap, not even at a state university that has been forced to cut millions of dollars from its budget in recent years and has considered cutting seven degree programs.
Then, on Sept. 1, 2017, three months after Montemagno came on board, his daughter, Melissa Germain, was hired as assistant director of university communications, with an annual salary of $52,000. One month later, his son-in-law, Jeffrey Germain, was hired as "extra help" in the office of the vice chancellor for research, at $45 an hour.
Allow us to pause here to wonder why Montemagno, no stranger to the back-biting culture of university campuses, failed to foresee that this would become a minor flap. The Daily Egyptian, the student news operation, got word of it quickly.
Last week, SIU President Randy Dunn opened an ethics investigation into the two hires, as well as a separate investigation into Montemagno's reported recommendation of former colleagues for various campus jobs.
We'll admit to a level of sympathy for Montemagno. SIU is by far the biggest employer in Carbondale, as often is the case in college towns. When relatives of administrators are excluded from employment by the local university, their professional prospects can be limited. And Montemagno reportedly was upfront about his desire, back in June, that his daughter and son-in-law also be hired.
But appearances matter, especially at a public university struggling to find stability after several years of budgeting uncertainty. Other folks down in Carbondale might have liked those jobs, too. And, according to the original Daily Egyptian stories, the positions for Montemagno's daughter and son-in-law were created for them and never advertised to the public.
We look forward to reading the findings of the ethics review.
February 3, 2018
Fantasy fight card does not read Rauner vs. Pritzker
Illinois politics could be so much more interesting were it to act more like a fantasy sports league, where we pick our players and create our own match-ups.
The clash of the billionaires for Illinois governor is too predictable to be very interesting, and who really trusts the political machines that handed us the current system. How much more interesting the race would be between the folks positioning themselves farther right and farther left of the party heirs apparent.
In this corner, Republican state Rep. Jeanne Ives. And in the opposing corner, state Sen. Daniel Biss.
Now that would be a clash of ideals.
Ives is a conservative from Wheaton who was graduated from West Point and served as an Army officer. She studied economics and worked as a bookkeeper and tax adviser for small businesses while raising her five children. She was on Wheaton's City Council and was elected to the Illinois House in 2012.
She has been pounding her March 20 primary opponent, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, for betraying conservatives by making Illinois the only state that uses taxes to fund abortions. She has been pounding his inability to work with state lawmakers to pass a budget for two years and for Rauner's statement that he was not in charge of Illinois - that state House Speaker Mike Madigan was.
And she hammered Rauner recently during the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board, a must-see video before the primary. It prompted columnist John Kass to say this: "Jeanne Ives crushed it so hard, way up into the upper deck, Rauner's re-election dreams bouncing up there all alone, echoing desperately, and all the governor seemed to be able to say was 'Mike Madigan' again and again. How many times did he say Mike Madigan? You couldn't keep count."
Crain's Chicago Business warned Rauner not to underestimate Ives, the Trib hinted at an Ives endorsement and her performance got her a $500,000 donation, more than doubling her war chest.
Repeal the 32 percent state income tax hike, cap property taxes at 1 percent of house value, anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, anti-sanctuary city. Ives is a strong Trump supporter.
Biss is a progressive from Evanston. He got his doctorate in math from MIT and at age 25 became a math professor at the University of Chicago. President Bush, the Iraq War and Abu Ghraib changed his life goal, so he got involved with the John Kerry presidential campaign. From there he was elected to serve in the Illinois House in 2011 and Illinois Senate in 2013.
The Democrats have six gubernatorial primary candidates, but the Jan. 23 debate was the Pritzker-Biss show, with the pair mainly going at one another and ignoring the other poll leader, Chris Kennedy. Afterwards, Biss said, "What I left here wondering (was), 'What's in J.B. Pritzker's polling data? Why on this day was J.B. Pritzker all of a sudden going after me?'" Biss is now targeted by Pritzker attack ads.
Biss is channeling the ghost of Bernie Sanders, pushing free Illinois college tuition for all. He's true to his progressive roots: tax the rich, strong unions, $15 minimum wage, Medicare for everyone in Illinois. He proposes a "LaSalle Street tax" that would collect $8 billion from transactions on Chicago's commodities and financial exchanges.
He's the only one of the eight running for governor to visit the BND editorial board, touting his experience passing legislation, including a retirement savings plan 2.5 million Illinois workers can choose if their employer does not offer one.
These candidates represent distinctly different visions for Illinois' future. Both are experienced in politics and life. They are definitely right wing and left wing.
If only they could be our fantasy political league picks. Oh, wait: They could be.
February 1, 2018
(Arlington Heights) Daily Herald
Moving beyond naloxone to save addicts
About 840 times, first responders in the collar counties have administered naloxone to people who'd overdosed on opioids and appeared to have plunged into death.
In most of those cases, the person started breathing again, revived by a drug that came into routine use in the suburbs beginning four years ago and still seems miraculous to those who are alive because of it, and to their families.
Yet, even as hundreds were saved, hundreds continue to die in the suburbs.
As a way to take the next step toward reducing the tide of opioid deaths, some experts are zeroing in on what happens after someone is revived. Naloxone does not cure addiction, they pointed out to the Daily Herald's Marie Wilson in her story on Sunday.
"An hour or two later, the cravings return. We've got to find out how to identify people and treat them so they don't take that next deadly hit," Dr. Michael Wahl, medical director of the Illinois Poison Center, said.
We echo that call for heightened intervention beginning in the first hours after an addict arrives by ambulance at a suburban ER. Often addicts are stabilized and, when no longer acutely ill, sent home.
Hospitals like Advocate Good Samaritan in Downers Grove are working on procedures to pair an addiction specialist with revived overdose patients in the emergency department, with a goal of linking patients to an outpatient clinic where they can start medication-assisted treatment.
The DuPage County sheriff's office has begun sending deputies with clinicians to follow up with people who have been revived.
It's an obvious strategy, though with some hurdles. Treatment programs are in short supply and medication-assisted treatment can be controversial. Yet, in an election year when every candidate is introducing a plan to deal with opioid addiction, let's make this an area where we can progress.
At the same time, we need more consistent and complete collection and sharing of data about how well interventions work and about the naloxone programs themselves. Many jurisdictions in the suburbs are tracking naloxone doses administered and how many result in survival, but they rarely chart the number of people who are revived repeatedly.
It's thought to be a minority -- Lake County Coroner Howard Cooper says 175 to 200 individuals were treated in the county's 223 naloxone uses -- but getting the exact data is an important part of understanding the opioid addiction epidemic and the ways to stop it.
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