DeWitte Delivers over 130 winter coats to assistance agencies
The residents of the 33rd District are incredibly generous. Because of their giving spirit, over 130 residents in this area will now have adequate winter outerwear this year. I recently held a winter coat drive, and collected new and gently used coats from people across the District. Thursday into Friday was the first night temperatures officially dipped below freezing, so the timing for our coat drop-off was perfect. Over 130 new and gently used coats were delivered Thursday to three very worthwhile organizations, and they are already being distributed to families in need.
My staff and I delivered coats of all sizes to the St Charles Lazarus House, Elgin’s Wayside Center, and to the Salvation Army of St. Charles. Coats were collected at bins located at my office in West Dundee, at the Lake in the Hills Village Hall, at the St. Charles Municipal Building, and at the Salvation Army in St. Charles.
My deepest thanks go out to everyone who donated items for this winter coat drive and to the community partners who served as drop-off points for donations. Individuals who would still like to donate coats may drop them off at my legislative office, located at 641 South 8th Street in West Dundee.
New “Stop the SAFE-T Act” Website Launched
As state’s attorneys from across Illinois continue to file lawsuits trying to block the implementation of the SAFE-T Act, confusion has only increased as to what the new law will do, and how it will affect public safety.
In an attempt to provide people with answers, a new website: www.StopTheSafe-TAct.com has been launched. This site offers insights into some of the concerning language of the Act and what it will do, recent news surrounding the Act, links to follow the lawsuits that have been filed against the Act, testimonials from prosecutors across Illinois, and the chance for people add their names to a statewide petition calling for a repeal of the controversial Act. There are also quick links for sharing the site on Facebook and Twitter.
As you may know, a few weeks ago I launched my own petition to repeal and rewrite the SAFE-T Act. As of this writing, I have collected 10,640 signatures!
The SAFE-T Act was signed into law in early 2021, with some of the most controversial aspects of the Act set to take effect on January 1, 2023, including the end of cash bail, which will pave the way for offenders who commit serious crimes to be able to walk free until their trial.
Public pressure and fears about the potential for releasing violent criminals back onto the streets has prompted proponents of the SAFE-T Act to admit that there are issues with their new law. While some of them have discussed the possibility of a new trailer bill being unveiled during the fall veto session, no such bill has yet been read into the record.
Following repeated questions from reporters, Governor Pritzker has finally admitted that he also believes that the SAFE-T Act’s language may need to be altered, but he has still refused to say what changes he thinks should be made.
There are multiple problems with the SAFE-T Act, and I do not believe trailer bill after trailer bill (a trailer bill during veto session would be the 4th for the SAFE-T Act) is the right approach. We need to repeal the Act and start over with all stakeholders at the table. This “approve it and then fix it as we go” is not the way to approach a topic as important as public safety.
Another Company Admits Guilt in Madigan Bribery Probe
The pay-to-play environment that plagues Springfield has led to another company now facing federal charges after it admitted to attempting to illegally influence former House Speaker Michael Madigan.
AT&T joins ComEd as companies that have been recently charged with such crimes. AT&T has agreed to pay a $23 million fine as part of a deferred prosecution agreement. Federal prosecutors also unveiled a superseding indictment against Madigan and his ally Michael McClain related to AT&T.
The allegations are based on legislation AT&T was pushing to end landline telephone service in Illinois. The company was accused of funneling money to Madigan associates to try to influence the outcome of the legislation. Paul La Schiazza, the former president of AT&T Illinois, was also charged.
In 2020, federal prosecutors reached a similar agreement with ComEd, with the utility giant agreeing to pay $200 million. In that case, ComEd admitted that it had “arranged jobs, vendor subcontracts, and monetary payments associated with those jobs and subcontracts, for various associates” of Speaker Madigan.
DeWitte and Ugaste Host Another Successful Shred Event and Food Drive in Elgin
Event volunteers enjoyed beautiful weather on Saturday as we collected thousands of pounds of sensitive documents for our shred truck event and hundreds of non-perishable food items for local food pantries. A similar event was held a few months ago in St. Charles, and due to its success, Rep. Ugaste and I scheduled a second event that would benefit people living in the Elgin area of our districts.
We host these events every year, and residents always come out in large numbers to safely dispose of old bank statements, receipts, and other sensitive items. Pairing the event with a food drive has also proven to be beneficial because people seem more than happy to grab a few cans or boxes from their cabinet to help replenish the supply at local food pantries.
Thanks to all who came out, and we’ll make sure we host more of these events in 2023.
Residents are being urged to make sure their tax rebates have arrived before it’s too late
Have you received your “Illinois Family Relief Plan” tax rebates? If not, and if you think you’re eligible, you may need to take quick action. TODAY October 17 is an important deadline for making sure you get your rebates.
The rebates are part of a one-time program passed earlier in the year that offers income tax and property rebates to eligible Illinois residents. To receive both of the tax credits, individuals would have had to file an Illinois 1040 for the 2021 tax year, along with a Schedule ICR. If they didn’t file either the 1040 or the ICR, then they have to file a Property Tax Rebate Form (IL-1040-PTR) by TODAY, October 17th, to receive the property tax rebate.
The administration of the program has created confusion, because while rebates started going out the week of September 12th, some of them won’t be issued until after the October 17th deadline. Additionally, some of the payments are being mailed out as checks, while others are being made via electronic bank deposit.
I recommend that you check to see if you have received your rebates, and if not, visit the following link to check the status of the payments: https://mytax.illinois.gov/?link=REBINQ
More information on the rebate program is available here: https://www2.illinois.gov/rev/programs/Rebates/ and information on filing a PTR can be found here: https://www2.illinois.gov/rev/forms/incometax/Documents/currentyear/individual/IL-1040-PTR-Instr.pdf
Additional Allegations of Abuse at Choate Center Uncovered
More allegations of abuse have been brought to light in the ongoing scandal surrounding Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center in southern Illinois.
A recent investigative story in Capitol News Illinois and Lee Enterprises Midwest on ProPublica has uncovered a recording of a 911 call from 2020, in which a struggle was recorded alongside a voice asking to be let go and another threatening to break the first person’s other finger. Further investigation showed that from 2015 – 2021, approximately 1,180 allegations of abuse or neglect have been reported.
Facilities for people with mental and developmental disabilities have long been plagued by tales of alleged abuse, however Choate has stood out in the news for the high number of allegations as well as the culture of cover-ups that has been noted in dozens of instances where employees have been caught lying to investigators. Of the 184 records of cases when the Office of the Inspector General found substantiated proof of problems and wrongdoing, 29 cited employees failing to follow policy as the reason, 11 failed to report the allegation in a timely manner, 9 found that employees actively lied to investigators, and in more than 1/3rd of the cases the only resolution was to “retrain” employees.
You can read the full story here: https://www.propublica.org/article/illinois-choate-mental-health-abuse-911-staff