051915 js 0211.resizeSPRINGFIELD- State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) has launched a formal investigation into the corrupt Springfield warehouse the Department of Human Services and Central Management Services leased to store state file.

Cullerton passed House Joint Resolution 63 today, which will require the Auditor General to conduct an audit of the irresponsible contract negotiated by DHS to rent the former Barney’s warehouse for $2.4 million for five years that could have been bought for $750,000.

His measure will also stop the signing and finalizing of any lease by Governor Rauner’s agency heads until the audit is completed.

“It’s judgement day,” Cullerton said. “Illinois taxpayers should soon know the truth behind this corrupt leasing deal.”

House Joint Resolution 63 outlines questions Cullerton wants answered by the audit.

Here are a few of his questions:

  • The justification used to request a new space by DHS including the condition of the previous location used to store the state files, the closed Pontiac State Prison and whether if renovations were considered to the prison prior to moving the files
  • If CMS compared the cost of digitizing records instead of storing hard paper copies.
  • If CMS explored the possibility of using another state-owned or leased space before they made the decision to enter into a new lease 
  • If there was a cost-benefit analysis conducted by CMS of purchasing the building instead of leasing the warehouse and if there were costs incurred by DHS for remodeling the building to adapt to DHS’ use of the warehouse 
  • And the role of the procurement board, the body who reviewed the contract, and whether any members excused themselves due to a conflict of interest because of their relationship any owner of with the leasing company

The former Barney’s Furniture building is being leased from Chicago-based Climate Controlled Holdings LLC, which bought the building when Barney’s relocated. One of the owners of the company is William Cellini’s son-in-law.
Cellini, a politically connected businessman, served a time in prison after his conviction in 2011 of a failed attempt to shake down Oscar-winning film producer Thomas Rosenberg for a $1.5 million contribution to the campaign of currently imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The records were moved from the closed prison which had little to no cost to taxpayers. Rauner’s administration had said that the prison building was in disrepair and the paperwork needed to be moved. But the state’s prison director told members of an Illinois Senate committee last month that he had no knowledge of this. He said he would try to get some answers.

Cullerton is outraged that as the state budget impasse continues, the administration is able to find time to cut sweetheart deals for political insiders.

“Governor Rauner has been busy cutting sweetheart deals for his insider friends instead of working with the General Assembly to pass a balanced budget to ensure our schools open their doors this fall, rape crisis centers are able to provide services and programs remain in place to help our seniors, disabled populations and veterans.”

Cullerton and Representative David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) were successful in their joint effort to request the Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s office to hold rent payments for warehouse space until the legislature is able to further review the contract.

“I’m here to send a strong message to Governor Rauner and his friends: the people of Illinois are not here to be pawns in your political games,” Cullerton said. “I refuse to stay quiet as you attempt to suck our state dry.”

House Joint Resolution 63 passed the Senate and House with overwhelming bipartisan support.

The Auditor General can begin his investigation immediately. After the report is completed, it will be released to the General Assembly for Cullerton to examine and determine whether further legislative action will be needed.

Category: Press Releases

PHOTO Tom Cullerton raises PANDAS AwarenessSPRINGFIELD— Children may soon no longer be denied treatment for PANDAS disease, thanks to Villa Park Democratic State Senator Tom Cullerton.  

Cullerton’s lifesaving initiative that will require Insurance companies to offer coverage for treatments of PANDAS — Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal Infections — passed the House and Senate with bipartisan support.  

Cullerton has been working with the group PANDAS/PANS Advocacy for the last four years to raise awareness and require insurance companies to cover the cost of treatment for this fairly unknown disease that affects approximately 1 in 200 children throughout the United States.

“As the father of three young sons, I know as a parent you do whatever you can to protect your children from unnecessary pain,” Cullerton said. “I have been honored to work with these incredible advocates from PANDAS/PANS Advocacy, to support Illinois’ children in receiving essential treatment and raising awareness of this tormenting disease.”

Cullerton first became aware of PANDAS four years ago after meeting with the group formed by Executive Director Wendy Nawara and Vice President Kate Drury of PANDAS/PANS Advocacy & Support, whose children have suffered from PANDAS to raise awareness of symptoms and to require insurance companies to cover the cost of treatment for this fairly unknown illness.

PANDAS and PANS is the result of an abnormal immune response to common infections such as strep throat, walking pneumonia, mononucleosis and other similar infections.

Drury saw a drastic change in her son Charlie overnight, who once loved performing in talent shows and putting on skits. He woke up on his 8th birthday scared of crowds and of talking to his friends.

After two months of looking for answers, a doctor diagnosed Charlie with PANDAS. Insurance companies didn’t cover the cost for his treatment, which can run upwards of $12,000 in hospital bills.   

“As a parent, it is so hard to watch your child completely deteriorate in front of your eyes. You go to the doctor, get a diagnosis, and then are unable to access the treatment that doctor prescribes. The biggest problem our families have faced is that we've not been able to rely on our insurance plans to cover the doctor recommended, medically necessary care required,” said Nawara.  “This treatment gives our kids their lives back. We have needed this for a long time. Our families are so grateful that Illinois is taking these steps to help us."

HB 2721 will provide that all individual and group plans of accident and health insurance must offer coverage for treatment PANDAS and PANS. Once this measure is signed into law it will be known as “Charlie’s Law.”
Symptoms range from severe separation anxiety to motor tics that appear similar to seizures and hallucinations. There is a drastic change in behavior that often becomes severe enough to prevent children from attending school, not completing basic tasks like taking a shower or accepting a hug from their loved ones and avoiding extracurricular activities due to social anxiety.

Cullerton pledges to continue to work to raise awareness and support to help children like Charlie.

“There are effective treatments for children inflicted with PANDAS and PANS,” Cullerton said. “It’s common sense to make sure there is treatment readily available to quickly treat children inflicted with PANDAS without loading Illinois’ parents with mountains of debt.”

House Bill 2721 now moves to the governor’s desk for consideration.  Cullerton is hopeful the governor will approve this measure.

Category: Press Releases

PHOTO Tom Cullerton and Dennis Reboletti host successful Addison Community Senior FairADDISON — State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) and Addison Township Supervisor Dennis Reboletti held a successful senior fair last week.

More than 70 seniors and local residents stopped by to visit with 25 community and state vendors at the Addison Township Building to learn about different programs and services available.

“This one-stop shop provides seniors and their loved ones with new information on programs and services available to help seniors live healthy and independent lives,” Cullerton said.  

Cullerton hosts an annual senior fair in Addison to provide seniors in the area with this free resource. Some local organizations and agencies that participated in this successful event include the Addison Public Library, Addison Fire Protection District, Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, Illinois Treasurer’s I-Cash Program and the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition.

“I work with my office to try to find a balance between state and local resources,” Cullerton said. “I’m thankful for the good work our community organizations do to give our seniors the best possible constituent service.”

DuPage Senior Citizens Council partners with Cullerton on multiple community events to help educate DuPage residents on different programs the county provides.

“Senator Cullerton’s Senior Fair was great,” said Marylin Krolak, executive director of the DuPage Senior Citizens Council.  “There were several excellent service providers and tons of information for seniors all under one roof. It was great to see one of our elected officials step up and provide an opportunity like this for DuPage seniors.”  

Cullerton urges area organizations and agencies to call his Villa Park office at (630) 903-6662 if they are interested in participating in upcoming community senior fairs.

Category: Press Releases

051915 js 0211.resizeVILLA PARK- State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is outraged at the latest golden parachute payout at Northern Illinois University.

News released today outlines NIU’s plan to pay President Doug Baker $600,000 plus benefits when he steps down later this month in the wake of the Illinois Inspector General’s investigation into illegal hires made by the university.  

“As students across the state of Illinois are struggling to pay tuition and fees, our public higher education institutions are handing out golden parachutes to disgraced administrators for violating taxpayers’ trust,” Cullerton said. “What message are we sending? This needs to stop now. Illinois needs to get out of the business of paying university administrators off for their mismanagement and failing to comply with state laws.”

Under the deal, Baker will receive a full year’s salary of $450,000 and $137,000 to not serve as a member of the College of Business faculty.  He also will be paid up to $30,000 for his "reasonable, unpaid expenses for legal counsel" related to his time at NIU.

“It is simple. If you mismanage state funds, you should not be rewarded,” Cullerton said.

The Inspector General’s report was publically released on May 31. The report details hires made by Baker and his administration that were paid contracts over $20,000, which are supposed to be subject to competitive bidding in accordance to state law. The jobs were incorrectly classified to get past the requirement according to the report.

The Chicago Tribune went on later to report that two of the nine employees involved in the hiring scandal made more than $400,000 for 15 and 18 months of work.

In the midst of the state’s budget impasse, NIU announced in May they will be eliminating and reducing 150 staff positions, which included 30 active employees. The active employees will have to transition to open positions across the university, exercise their civil service employment rights within their employment classifications or have contracts that will not be renewed.

“We are in the middle of a budget impasse. Every dollar, every penny, needs to be put toward the betterment and education of our children,” Cullerton said. “This deal is a betrayal of taxpayers’ trust. State dollars should not be used to line the pockets of failed administrators.”

Cullerton is calling for tougher regulations to stop state universities and community colleges from paying out administrators while under investigation or found guilty of university mismanagement

Category: Press Releases

Petition: Do Not Tax Retirement Income

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CONTACT SENATOR CULLERTON

Welcome to the official website of Senator Tom Cullerton. Please fill out our contact form to contact Senator Cullerton directly or you may call either of our offices. We look forward to hearing from you.

District Office
338 S. Ardmore Ave.
Villa Park, IL 60181
P: (630) 903-6662
F: (630) 903-6643

Springfield Office
122 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
P: (217) 782-9463