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  • Writer's pictureLucas Nava

State Senator DeWitte: "The Governor must be held accountable for his inaction"

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Illinois Republican state Senator Donald DeWitte criticized what he alleged to be harmful inaction on the part of Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker's administration in a post on his website Monday.

"I find the number of people who have been severely impacted by the failed leadership within the Pritzker Administration appalling," the post read. "The Governor must be held accountable for his inaction."

DeWitte's post came as a response to a federal judge finding the Illinois Department of Corrections in contempt of court due to its failure to make certain improvements to its health care services in adherence with three different class action settlements. The settlements resulted in a 2018 consent decree that the IDOC allegedly ignored, with critics calling the lack of action comparable to elder abuse due to elderly patients being left to sit in their own waste, developing bedsores, and having cancer symptoms ignored.

Illinois' auditor general released a new report in May related to the death of 36 residents of LaSalle Veterans' Home in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the initial audit absolved the Illinois Department of Public Health of most wrongdoing, the new report holds the agency more responsible.

IDPH officials allegedly failed to visit the veterans' home for two weeks following the outbreak. During the on-site visit, officials found a lack of critical protective equipment - such as face masks, staff members taking their own temperatures, and hand sanitizer - which failed to meet expected standards of quality. The auditor general's report said the IDPH "did not identify and respond to the seriousness of the outbreak."

Department of Children and Family Services Director Marc Smith was also grilled by lawmakers on July 26 due to the numerous issues recently affecting the child welfare department.

"You are delusional," Republican state Senator Chapin Rose said in response to Smith praising his agency's effectiveness. "The facts are that other states' directors and agencies don't get held in contempt of court over 10 times for being non-responsive."

The DCFS has an annual budget of $1.5 billion and manages approximately 20,000 children. However, nine children under the department's management have died since December, with audits uncovering other problems, such as 48% of children who have been victims of abuse or neglect related to substance abuse not having their cases sent to state attorneys for review. In addition, out of all DCFS children, 88% are missing dental exams, 18% are missing physical exams, 14% have missed vision screenings, and 56% have missed hearing screenings.

Despite the personal and professional issues facing him, Smith asserted that Pritzker, who had personally selected him for the position, continues to support his leadership.

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