Lester: New sticking points in Duckworth workplace suit

More than a week past their deadline, parties in the workplace harassment suit against U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates still haven't reached an agreement. What's the holdup?

Sources involved with the case tell me plaintiffs Christine Butler and Denise Goins, workers in the downstate Anna Veterans' Home, have two sticking points.

They don't want to agree there was no wrongdoing by Duckworth in the case stemming from her time heading the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs, and they want more than the reported $26,000 compensation in an earlier agreement.

Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk of Highland Park has seized upon the case in his race for re-election against Duckworth.

<h3 class="leadin">More delays

Judge Mark Boie has given both sides several more days to settle before he takes matters into his own hands, records from the Union County clerk's office show.

Goins and Butler told me earlier this summer that they were insulted by the Duckworth campaign's referring to the suit as "a frivolous workplace case." Though a settlement was announced in June, the women said their attorney told them they weren't committed until the papers were signed.

But spokeswomen say Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who represents Duckworth, views that agreement as final.

The case dates back to 2007, when Goins and Butler said Duckworth violated state ethics laws by disciplining them after they spoke out against their bosses while she was head of the Illinois VA. Duckworth denies treating the employees unfairly.

<h3 class="leadin">FOIA denied

Remember reading here that I'd submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for a draft report from the Illinois auditor general, who was looking into questions about financial management at the College of DuPage?

The college on Monday denied my request, with FOIA officer Barbara Mitchell citing state statute that exempts preliminary drafts from public disclosure except "when the record is publicly cited and identified by the head of the public body." New COD President Ann Rondeau said Aug. 18 that the college had received the report, which Chairwoman Deanne Mazzochi later said was "an error."

I'll be filing an appeal. Stay tuned.

<h3 class="leadin">Keeping quiet

Meanwhile, Mazzochi sent a note to board members, who had a special closed-session meeting about the report Monday, urging them not to "engage in any discussions with any member of the public, or anyone not authorized within the college for that matter, regarding the nature, scope, timing, contents, status, etc. of the audit."

<h3 class="leadin">Could be you

Voters in the suburbs were among the 200,000 affected when the Illinois State Board of Elections database was hacked, general counsel Ken Menzel tells me.

"The city of Chicago, suburban Cook and collar counties were all hit. No particular places were much more or less affected than any other," he says.

The investigation of the July hacking is ongoing, and the FBI has issued a warning to election officials across the country after Arizona had a similar attack.

The state is taking steps to notify those who have been hacked.

<h3 class="leadin">

Margie Breen and state Rep. Peter Breen, of Lombard, adopted their new son, Matthew Elijah, last week. Courtesy of Breen Family

A long time coming

Congratulations to state Rep. Peter Breen and his wife, Margie, of Lombard, who brought home their newly adopted baby, Matthew Elijah, last week after a nearly 10-year journey to become parents.

After undergoing years of fertility treatments, the Breens began the adoption process several years ago and connected with a birth mother in Virginia this summer. Matthew was born Aug. 9.

It's a delight to hear dad Peter go on about all the little joys - and sleep deprivation - of being a new parent.

He says Republican U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton gave him some food for thought about having Margie and the baby down in Springfield during the spring session.

"We're going to strap (Matthew) into the car seat and take him down," Breen says.

Democrat Steve Swanson of Lombard is challenging Breen in the November election.

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