How a 2011 ruling keeps state money to disabled moving now
It wasn't their eventual role in the ongoing state budget stalemate that Stanley Ligas of Oswego and David Cicarelli of Wheeling were cheering for when their lawsuit was resolved nearly five years ago.
But the decision's legacy has helped buffer some social services agencies from the budget fallout.
Ligas and Cicarelli were part of a federal class-action suit seeking to allow people with disabilities the option to live in community settings. They lived in larger facilities in Woodstock and Lincolnshire at the time.
The resulting Ligas decree has required the state to keep paying for many services for people with disabilities while Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic lawmakers feud over the incomplete Illinois budget.
"Without it, by now, we would be closing our doors," Carl La Mell, president of Arlington Heights-based Clearbrook, an agency that helps care for people with disabilities, said this week.
The Daily Herald covered the decision at the time, when the two men celebrated and took photos together outside the courthouse in Chicago. Advocates went to court over the decree last summer to ensure the state would keep paying after July 1 despite Illinois' lack of a budget.
Nowadays, Cicarelli lives in a Clearbrook group home in Wheeling.
"He's a happy camper," La Mell said.
His mom, Julie, lives a couple miles away. She says she volunteers with Clearbrook and she's glad for that decision several years ago. But she adds she'll "always have to advocate" for services for people with disabilities.
Barry Taylor, director of the nonprofit Equip for Equality and a lead attorney on the case, said Ligas now lives in a group home in Oswego.
"He's doing great," he said. "He has a job and he's living in a house with three other guys."
Earlier this month, the monitor in charge of making sure the state complies with the decree issued a report that found Illinois in "noncompliance." For example, the monitor says it's a problem that some of the employees that take care of people get paid so little.
In interviews to mark his first year in office, Rauner suggested he was considering ways to cope with consent decrees that have Illinois spending more money than it's taking in, though he named no specific decrees or methods to do so.
The debate over debates
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Andrea Zopp of Chicago criticized opponent Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates for agreeing to only one televised debate and two meetups at newspaper editorial boards and argued that she's been "noticeably absent" from the campaign trail. Zopp's campaign pointed to five additional broadcast debates they said were in the works.
"Hopefully Congresswoman Duckworth won't ignore the voters of Springfield, or Peoria, or women, or the African-American community," Zopp campaign manager Bryce Colquitt said in a statement.
Zopp, Duckworth and state Sen. Napoleon Harris of Harvey are seeking the Democratic nomination to try to win Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk's seat at the Capitol.
Duckworth's campaign didn't respond.
On the Republican side of the race, IT consultant James Marter of Oswego is making a primary run at Kirk.
He was asked at a Daily Herald editorial board meeting whom he'd back for president.
Marter says he's not endorsing a particular candidate but did say he likes Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Ben Carson.
"I even like what Donald Trump's bringing to the table in terms of bringing discussion to the Republican Party and putting that in the forefront of everyone's television sets for the last, you know, six to nine months," he said.