Legionnaires' report inquiry ignored by Rauner administration

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Springfield, Ill (WAND) – State Senate Democrats tore into Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration for failing to appear at a hearing to answer questions about a report showing a possible fix for a veterans’ home where 13 people have died since 2015.

Legionnaires’ disease is blamed for the deaths.  Three new cases of the disease were reported last week.  A fourth case was confirmed on Tuesday.

Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Cullerton, (D) Villa Park, called the hearing for Tuesday after the Associated Press obtained the report late Friday before the holiday weekend.  The Rauner Administration told Cullerton officials from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Capital Development Board could not attend on such short notice even though the report was apparently in the administrations hands since the summer of 2016.

The report shows an engineering estimate to replace plumbing that likely is the cause of the deadly Legionella virus at the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy could be replaced for $8 million.  The administration has claimed it would cost at least $25 million. 

When it was announced to the committee the administration would not be sending anyone to the hearing Democrats wasted little time to blast the governor.

“I want the home repaired and I want it repaired now,” demanded Senator Bill Haine, (D) Alton.  “People are suffering with this state-of-affairs and we’re spinning around with alternatives that should have been decided years ago.”

“This is an emergency situation.  It’s an emergency situation,” said Senator Cristina Castro, (D) Elgin.

Republicans retorted asking for people to attend a hearing announced over a holiday weekend was unfair.  “It’s a press conference.  It’s a Democrat press conference and it’s a bit of a waste of time,” said Senator Dale Righter, (R) Mattoon.

Haine came back, “Present us with a bill.  We’ll appropriate the money.”

Democrats are also calling for an audit on how the Rauner administration has handled the Legionnaires’ breakout at the Quincy facility.

(Picture: Cover of 2016 engineering report.)

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