Senator Syverson’s Week in Review: Oct. 13 – Oct. 17, 2014

In this newsletter:

Another potential Quinn administration scandal brewing and an upcoming town hall with Senator John McCain. Plus, a new report from a major bond rating agency offers a grim forecast, hospitals release an Ebola fact sheet, and are there more rats in Chicago?

John McCain Coming to Rockford

U.S. Senator John McCain will be the special guest at a Veterans Town Hall Meeting in Rockford hosted by Senator Syverson and Congressman Adam Kinzinger. The event will take place Friday, October 24th at 2:00pm at the Veterans Memorial Hall located at 211 North Main St. in Rockford.

Weatherization Program Scandal

Another Quinn administration jobs initiative is drawing headlines for wasting taxpayer dollars and failing to provide marketable job training skills.

This time, it’s the Urban Weatherization Initiative, started in 2009 with the intent to train workers in predominantly African-American neighborhoods in weatherization and other energy efficiency trades.

Coming just days after a bipartisan legislative commission took two days of testimony on Governor Pat Quinn’s failed Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, a Chicago-based reform group is highlighting the failures of the massive weatherization training program that was supposed to create skilled workers and provide low-cost services to homeowners across the state.

A Better Government Association (BGA) investigation has found that five years into the program, more than $16 million has been spent, with just 183 homes upgraded and only a handful of persons actually working. The program is also the subject of a Chicago Sun-Times report, and the newspaper editorialized that the program is a “boondoggle.”

The investigation found $13 million of the $16 million spent went toward administrative costs and training.  The program claims to have trained 1,900 persons, but the state agency charged with overseeing the program says it does not have figures on how many trainees found jobs or are currently working. The BGA investigation found few former trainees who had obtained permanent work.

S&P: Illinois last in Job Creation

A new forecast of state and local government credit conditions ranks Illinois last in the region for job growth.

The report, from rating agency Standard & Poor’s looks at economic growth by region. Illinois is included in the East North Central area, along with Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Region-wide, the report predicts a slight improvement in unemployment rates, but warns that the projected 6.61% average for 2014 is likely to remain above the national average and that the area is likely to experience slower growth than other regions.

The analysis predicts manufacturing job growth through 2014 of 1.63% for the region, but then declares, “Illinois, despite being the least manufacturing-reliant state in the region, ranks last in job creation.”

On a positive or maybe sad note the driving factors that keep Illinois in this negative predicament are easily fixable, with the right leaders. Illinois has the infrastructure and the workforce the only thing holding the state back economicly is a regulatory and tax system that exceeds that of any other state.  

Hospital Association Issues Ebola Fact Sheet

Although no cases of the deadly Ebola virus have been reported in the state, the Illinois Hospital Association has compiled a fact sheet on the disease and the risks associated with it.

While the disease has ravaged countries in West Africa, as of Mid-October just eight cases of the disease have been reported in the United States, most involving persons who contracted the disease in West Africa and returned to the United States for treatment. One person died, four are in treatment and three have recovered.

In addition to the Hospital Association Fact Sheet, information on Ebola is available from the Centers for Disease Control and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Chicago No. 1 – in rats (I know what you’re thinking, but no we’re not talking about the political kind)

Pest control company Orkin has released its list of the 20 “rattiest” cities in the nation and Chicago beat out all others for the dubious title.

Or, maybe not.

The ranking is based on the number of rodent control treatments performed by the company during the previous year. While it stands to reason that the cities where the most businesses and individuals sought rat control are the cities with the most rats, it’s also possible that it just means Chicagoans are more vigilant in rooting out the rodents.

That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.

At any rate, the top five cities after Chicago were Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., New York and San Francisco. While Illinois often loses out to Indiana in job-related rankings, Indianapolis came it at 19 on the list. Take that Hoosiers!

Seriously, the rankings serve as a reminder to home and business owners that fall is a prime season for rodents to move indoors.

Orkin warns that a rat can slip inside using a hole the size of a quarter, while a mouse needs only a dime-sized hole to get inside. They also warn that rodents are known to chew around smaller holes to make them large enough to get indoors.

Dave Syverson

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