Lester: Illinois electors won't change votes
While there are efforts around the country to upend Donald Trump's victory during today's Electoral College vote, Illinois' electors tell me they're not diverting from the script.
"It's pretty clear our electors are sticking with Hillary," state Rep. Michelle Mussman of Schaumburg said.
Mussman, 10th District Democratic Chairwoman Lauren Beth Gash and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle of Chicago are among the state's 20 Democratic electors chosen to cast ballots because the state's popular vote went to Clinton in November.
The group, which meets to vote at 10 a.m. in Springfield, also includes North Aurora Trustee Mark Guethle, 6th Congressional District Democratic Committeewoman Nancy Shepherdson of Barrington and Will County Auditor Kevin Duffy Blackburn.
Electoral revolt 'inane'
Gash and Mussman say they've heard from groups seeking a U.S. intelligence briefing on Russian intervention in the election before the electoral voting. But they haven't been pressured to take part in any sort of electoral revolt, an idea that Gash views as "inane."
One national movement calls for Democratic electors and Republican electors to agree on a different Republican choice for president.
"What that fails to understand is the Republicans electors are some of the most insidery political operatives in the entire country and a whole big group of Democrats urging them to vote in a different way isn't likely to be effective," Gash said.
An elector in both 2008 and 2012, Gash says this year's vote will be "heartbreaking" to cast. "I worked very hard for Hillary," she said.
You can watch the vote live at www.ilga.gov.
Mourning Elgin Latino pioneer
I was saddened to hear of the death of one of Elgin's Latino pioneers. Rita Pompa Camacho, 98, was a member of one of the first six Hispanic families to move to Elgin in the 1920s. She and her husband, Joaquin Camacho, started one of the first Hispanic grocery stores in the area, at the corner of St. Charles and Villa streets. They also were a driving force in the founding of Club Guadalupano, which provides scholarships to first-generation college students. Services were Friday at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Elgin. She is survived by two daughters, two sons and many grandchildren.
In Netsch's footsteps
Two suburban lawmakers were among those honored by the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. Republican state Sen. Karen McConnaughay of St. Charles and Democratic state Rep. Elaine Nekritz of Northbrook each received the Dawn Clark Netsch "Straight Talk" award. Netsch, an ICPR board member, former state comptroller and candidate for governor, died in 2013. In accepting the award, McConnaughay noted it's a difficult time to be part of Illinois state government, with partisan gridlock over the budget and other issues. Nekritz, assistant majority leader of the House, said even with the current budget impasse in Springfield, she is committed to "finding a way to be resilient and carry on the legacy of Dawn" and to have frank conversations on difficult issues.
U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk's staff is closing up shop this week as the Highland Park Republican ends a run of more than 30 years at some level of involvement in federal government, first as a member of former 10th District U.S. Rep. John Porter's staff and later as Porter's successor and then as U.S. senator. Kirk will be replaced in January by Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates, who won the Nov. 8 election.
Additionally, Will Cousineau, master strategist of Democratic legislative races in the suburbs and beyond and Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan's issues director, has announced he'll move on from his current post in May.
A calendar review
Elizabeth Roskam, an artist and the wife of GOP U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton, has again produced a yearly calendar of paintings, which constituents and local residents can request for free. Roskam, who has a studio in her home, has given paintings to a number of world leaders, including South Korean President Park Geun-hye, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The 2017 calendar features images of the U.S. Capitol dome at dawn, the Lincoln Memorial at dusk and the reflecting pool on the National Mall. See a video with Elizabeth and Peter plus a form to request a calendar at www.roskamforcongress.com/get-your-2017-calendar/.
I again emerged inspired from the second of three Illinois Humanities education forums based in the suburbs, this one last Thursday at Bartlett High. A small but vocal group braved the cold for a really invigorating discussion about the way Elgin Area Unit District 46 -- the state's second-largest school district -- has adapted to serve a predominantly Hispanic population, notably expanding its dual-language program to the middle school level. Princeton sociology Professor Alejandro Portes -- who flew in to give a presentation about factors leading to academic success in first-generation immigrant children -- called the district's program "cutting edge."