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Gubernatorial Candidate Bruce Rauner—and Protesters—"Shake Up" Hamburger Jones in Elmhurst

Bruce Rauner stopped in Elmhurst Saturday afternoon as part of a week-long, 1,000-mile "Shake Up Express" bus tour of Illinois. 

The Republican candidate for governor and his running mate, Evelyn Sanguinetti, rolled into the parking lot at Hamburger Jones in a big blue bus at about 1:30 p.m., but not everyone there to greet them were fans.

While little information was shared in advance about where Rauner would be—an employee of Hamburger Jones said she had heard he was coming only an hour before he arrived—a dozen or so protesters managed to know in time to gather well before Rauner's arrival.

The crowd outside the restaurant, made up of union laborers, union staff, Democratic Party representatives, retirees and others, said they were protesting because they believe Rauner does not have the best interest of the "working man" at heart.

"This is just a peaceful protest against a governor (candidate) who we feel is going to be unfair to the common working man," said Brian Hacker, a member of Local 96 Labor Union and a resident of Warrenville.

They all said they want to see Illinois' minimum wage increased from its current $8.25 an hour. The federal minimum wage requirement is $7.25.

Carol Davis of Villa Park works at the Secretary of State's office and is a member of SEIU Local 73.

"It's outrageous at a time when income inequality is the highest it's ever been that Rauner suggested we should lower the minimum wage in Illinois," she said. 

Rauner has been under fire after a Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce event last week when he said he advocated "moving the Illinois minimum wage back to the national minimum wage" for Illinois to be competitive. Four states have a minimum wage higher than Illinois: Connecticut ($8.70), Oregon ($9.10), Vermont ($8.73) and Washington ($9.32). California and Connecticut minimum wage will increase to $9 July 1, and New York will increase to $8.75 Dec. 31.

He has been answering his critics about his statement ever since. On Saturday, he clarified that he does not want to lower the minimum wage, and would support an increase to $10, but he wants minimum wage to be uniform nationally.

"I am on record and I'm clear," he said. "I support raising the minimum wage if it's done at the national level, so Illinois then is competitive and equal with the other states," he said. "That's the critical thing."

He said if that is not possible, he still would support a minimum wage increase, but it would have to be done "along with business reform, workers comp reform, tax reform and tort reform," he said. 

But most of the protesters outside Hamburger Jones said $10 an hour wouldn't be enough.

"Fifteen dollars is a fair wage, a living wage," said Remzi Jaos of SEIU Local 73. "Not even $10 is going to cut it. It's just not enough in the state of Illinois. How are you going to pay rent? Feed your children?"

Glen Ellyn resident Marian Tomlinson and her husband, Gary, are both retired. They advocate for a minimum wage of $10 immediately, increasing gradually from there.

Gary was a physicist at Bell Labs in Naperville, then ran a scrap metal business for 17 years. He said a passerby began discussing the difficulties employers face having to pay $10 an hour. But Tomlinson doesn't buy it.

"I hired employees, and I paid $10 an hour and more. You can do it," Tomlinson said.

Davis, of Union Local 73, says businesses get all the benefits while workers suffer.

"People are starving. People are losing their homes. People are having trouble sending their kids to school," she said. "It really upsets me. When businesses don't give workers enough money, the worker suffers, but the economy also suffers because there is no money to pump into it, and our state has to pick up the public problem."

She said most lower-paid workers are on government assistance.

"There is no reason businesses should get the advantage while the state has to pay for food stamps," she said.

Rauner, who is a self-made millionaire, said his critics don't like to see that his message of running the state like a business and "shaking up Springfield" is resonating with people because most are part of special interest groups.

"They are making their money from government," he said. "They're here because we're going to shake up those special deals they've got with the corrupt politicians. We are going to stand up and fight for the voters and taxpayers, and they don't like us shaking up the status quo." 

He said the first thing he will do when he gets to Springfield is bring in experts in government operations, health care and education.

"That's what (Gov.) Mitch Daniels did when he turned around the state of Indiana," Rauner said. "He's a role model for what I want to do. He brought in 30 superstars from the business community in Indiana and ran the government more like a business, so it's efficient, effective and transparent. That's what I want to do."

This was not Rauner's first visit to Elmhurst. Read what he had to say at Elmhurst College last JuneGov. Candidate Bruce Rauner: It is Totally Within Our Ability to Fix Illinois

CheKeroauc January 11, 2014 at 06:22 PM
SEIU is a communist led union. Funny isn't it that they're complaining about the economy and how their members are struggling to a Republican candidate when it's the Democrats that they helped put in office (from Obama to Madigan) that are at the cause of their hardship. Also, the stories the union paints of families struggling and not being able to feed their kids because they only make minimum wage another one of their many lies. A person on minimum wage is eligible for food stamps, Section 8 housing and an earned income tax return (usually around $5,000) plus a myriad of other government programs. Plus if their kids are in school they get free breakfast and lunch every school day on top of the food stamps. The true ones who are struggling are the middle class who have to pay for all these welfare programs and take care of their own families as well.
Steven Bayne January 11, 2014 at 06:41 PM
The SEIU is not communist; they are self interested and could care less about the finances of this state. They see the handwriting on the wall, BUT like most union operatives they don't want us to have a choice; and even this early in the game they see that Rauner threatens them with a choice the voters might like. Rauner's lazy primary opponents get no attention; they've lost and they are beginning to realize it, thanks in part to the SEIU and other Democrat Party establishment types.
Mike Worrell January 11, 2014 at 06:54 PM
I'm not anti-union; I think people should be able to organize to negotiate for better wages, etc. But the SEIU is, in fact, essentially Communist in their philosophy (anti-Capitalist). They avoid that label like the plague for obvious reasons, and I doubt most members know or care. They just want job security, benefits and raises.
Independence666 January 11, 2014 at 11:09 PM
This guy would be a fantastic governor. To bad he doesn't have a chance here in the Peoples' Republic of Illinois.
Dave January 12, 2014 at 09:26 AM
Rauner has not been flip-flopping as your other headline suggests. He has been consistent in saying he wants Illinois to be competitive with their neighbors laws on minimum wage. To quote the Tribune who responsibly reports both sides of the issue: "Illinois has some real competitive disadvantages with its neighbors. The minimum wage here is $8.25 an hour. The minimum wage in Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin is pegged at the national level: $7.25 an hour. Illinois also has the fourth-highest unemployment rate in the nation, notably higher than the unemployment rates in Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin. So when Gov. Pat Quinn and some other political leaders say we should raise the Illinois minimum wage even higher, they're full of good intentions — but their intentions carry consequences." Our "leaders" don't care about the consequences. They know their statements will garner more votes! Businesses are pulling out and the wealthy are changing their state of residence by the droves. If anyone thinks we don't need to change our fiscal policies at both the state and federal levels, they are not facing reality.
Steve January 12, 2014 at 09:42 AM
The quotes in this article is what scares me about the voting public. Illinois has the FIFTH highest minimum wage. Do we really think that by making IL the highest paid minimum wage that it will help??? It will help to destroy already struggling small businesses. If the individuals who are getting paid minimum wage then they can change it. Either move to one of the higher paid minimum wage states, four to choose from, or get a better job. Rauner is just vocalizing smart business sense. Think people.
Doremus Jessup January 12, 2014 at 10:06 AM
This is not the first time Hamburger Jones has hosted candidates I find unappealing. I would hope that people who care about the less fortunate among us would notice and frequent the other burger joints in Elmhurst and not this supporter of Republicans. Bruce Rauner to me is the Mitt Romney of Illinois, he is very wealthy but by putting on a vest and calling people folks he thinks he will get the vote of the regular guy. I applaud the people who came out to protest this candidate. I am sure this candidate appeals to the fear selling Fox news watchers we have out here in DuPage County but those are a dieing breed, being replaced with younger more sophisticated crowd that doesn't vote by fear but by compassion. So Bruce who made 53 million dollars last year, and owns 6 houses take your shtick elsewhere, the good solid people of Elmhurst can see right through your vest.
Independence666 January 12, 2014 at 10:21 AM
I have never eaten at Hamburger Jones before, but now that they have hosted such an excellent candidate for Governor, my family and I will be heading over there for some meals in the near future. The owners are obviously some good common sense business folks, and I'm sure that the quality of their product will reflect the quality of their thinking.
Doremus Jessup January 12, 2014 at 10:37 AM
Good luck with that Indy. I'm sure you'll have your choice of seat.
Steven Bayne January 12, 2014 at 12:14 PM
Rauner's opponents, both left and right, attack him for his wealth. The right does it because he is not a vocal social conservative, and they too understand that, like the race card, the class warfare card frequently works. The Democrats on the other hand do it because they want you to turn your attention from the fact that their policies are making everyone poor or poorer. Franklin D. Roosevelt was a very rich man; his heart was in the right place, even if his policies, like Obama's, failed. Rauner is a wealthy man whose policies can only contrast with those which have put us in a situation where the poor get poorer and there just aren't enough rich to sustain all that is required to buy votes for the Democrats. The time has come to at least try someone like Rauner: a nonpolitician, someone who understands that private enterprise is what pays the taxes and that big government does NOT create wealth, someone who has set aside the petty egoisms of the political class and ventured to make the attempt to improve our circumstances, even though with his money he could be having a lot more fun.
Doremus Jessup January 12, 2014 at 12:25 PM
Yes Mr. Bayne, why haven't we as citizens tried the wealthy rich white guy, I mean when will we give them a chance? Just as a curiosity, have you seen how much money Rauner contributed to Daley's campaigns? Take a look at that and tell me what you think.
Steven Bayne January 12, 2014 at 02:09 PM
Doremus, it is time to take Martin Luther King's main message to heart: judge a man by the content of his character. Your invective directed against Mr. Rauner betrays a very narrow vision of what voters are looking for in a candidate. They are growing weary of talk about "white guys" and "the wealth rich." All you guys are left with are three things: class war, racial division, and policy failure. Time to give someone who thinks in broader terms a chance. You guys have failed.
Mark Garrity January 12, 2014 at 03:07 PM
I was there and we had over 30 protesters against Rauner's destructive proposals, not a dozen or so. I'm self employed and have never been in a union, or had a government contract, never made any money from government and have never had any special deals with corrupt politicians, unlike Bruce Rauner. Rauner's investment firm has had the contract to manage investments for the largest and third largest public pension funds in the state of Illinois for years. His campaign contributions to politicians are more than most people make in a lifetime. He's part of the problem, not the solution. Especially when it comes to backroom deals and under performing pension funds. After $2 million dollars worth of campaign ads here's what we know about him. He has a brand new Carhartt coat, a cheap watch, a sledgehammer, a snowglobe. And apparently a lot of money he's willing to waste insulting the intelligence of Illinois voters. Just another rich guy who thinks he can buy his way into power. No thanks.
Steven Bayne January 12, 2014 at 03:52 PM
The issue is not Rauner's coat, his cheap watch, or even his money. The issue is OUR money. The only argument against his intelligence is wanting this job in the first place. His watch may be cheap, but so far he hasn't taken a cheap shot. And that along with his business skills makes him a refreshing alternative to the party hacks on both sides of the isle who know only the business of politics.
kittenmalibu January 13, 2014 at 07:50 AM
Yes, that's what we need. A rich douchebag who thinks it's ok to pay people less, and also deny those same people benefits to allow them to survive, while looking to line the pockets of other fat cats. That will REALLY "shake up" Illinois! (Sarcasm)
Nancy Murphy January 13, 2014 at 08:49 AM
Rauner has been charged in the past w/ tax fraud, how on earth does that resonate as a "good political candidate" when he has committed a known felony? I don't' understand how people can embrace such a lack of honor, especially when it's someone who clearly does not NEED to commit such fraud, someone who has enough and then some, and then cheats the tax coffer... Not to mention his charter school, which is just another way into our public trust, as private schools and charter schools get BIG tax breaks and subsidies, but do not do better than public schools (check the record, it's easy to do). Don't just take my word for it, search this guy... I am not saying the dems are any better choice, but here in IL we need to be CAREFUL not to put more criminals in our political system, we've already enough. OH, and YES to a higher minimum wage, i feel bad for small businesses but they need also to get out and make a statement about how much they are charged in fees and taxes, moreso than their larger counterparts, they need to take it up w/ the State and Fed, not w/ their workers...
Ken January 13, 2014 at 10:16 AM
I don't know if Rauner would be best for Illinois or not. The fact is that everything done in Springfield flows through Madigan and the Democratic party. They are the ones responsible for the mess we are in and to continue to keep them in power will only make matters worse here. It's sad to see some here use Rauner's wealth as a Red Herring for the ills the Democrats have laid upon us. So, only a 'poor' person can turn around our economic misfortune? We tried that with Obama and it didn't work.
Steven Bayne January 13, 2014 at 10:22 AM
Nancy, You are a bottom feeder if you really think Rauner is a crook. Rauner's opponents are now wading in the sewer. Good grief, it doesn't get any filthier than this! Rauner record is spotless. Accusations come cheap; convictions require evidence. Mud slinging is an art Rauner's critics understand. What they don't understand is his policy on education, excessive public union pensions, and failed tax plans that hurt the poor more than help them. Charter schools are a great idea when the concept is pursued consistently and with careful targeting of students who will help make it work. Rauner is also a supporter of digital education. This is something the teachers's unions and their pension grabbing greedy leaders opposes because it is the best way to teach math, reading and quantitative subjects. Rauner has been supportive of this new innovation in applied technologies. Time to put down the mud balls; time to take a look at a more than competent candidate who refrains from this sort of trash talk.
Doremus Jessup January 13, 2014 at 10:44 AM
Mr. Bayne, is this your candidate of choice? http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/24839723-452/gov-hopeful-bruce-rauner-gave-payton-250k-after-pulling-strings-to-get-daughter-into-elite.html
Steven Bayne January 13, 2014 at 10:55 AM
Doremus: I have not decided on a candidate. It will, however, not be Quinn, a governor who has failed this state miserably thanks to his union buddies and political cronies. ?The pulling strings argument so called was entirely legal and not pulling strings anymore than any man would pull to help his daughter. How many hot shot Democrats have angled their kids into private schools and privilege. I don't hold it against Jesse Jackson for getting his kids in, or Obama. This is okay with me and a mark of good character. Again, I will not vote for Quinn on the recommendation of political operatives out to smear Rauner.
Doremus Jessup January 13, 2014 at 11:04 AM
Mr. Bayne, For someone who hasn't chosen a candidate you are really going to bat for this guy. I will say that Quinn as of now has my vote. I don't blame him for decades of artificially low taxes and excessive spending/debt. The older generations of Illinoisans have benefited the most from those policies and now they are the ones hightailing it out of Illinois to lower tax climates, they are also the first to complain about our state of financial affairs. We had the greatest generation during World War 2 only to be followed by the greediest generation in my opinion. Hopefully successive generations will lead a better example. Sorry for the tangent.
Max Smart January 13, 2014 at 12:05 PM
Equality does not equate to fairness! LIBERALISM IS A DISEASE!
Steven Bayne January 13, 2014 at 12:44 PM
Doremus, I agree with you on a number of points and they are well worth considering. My defense of Rauner was predicated on the belief that he is being subjected to typical smear tactics from the unionized left. Having taken a surprising beating at the hands of the voters in Wisconsin the unions will stop at nothing to prevent the same thing happening here. Rauner is a realist; many of his opponents are ideologically driven (the right) or driven by a need to protect their turf. Rauner may be the best exit from the political games. You mention WWII. This is worth a comment. In the early days of the war, it became clear that business as usual had to come to a halt. Mechanisms from the top to the bottom were put in place in order to draw the best from EVERY segment of society. Rich people were in foxholes with the poor; and the poor supplied much talent, indeed genius in prosecuting that war. But now we have a different situation. Now the mechanisms by which talent is accessed in an emergency have broken down owing in large measure to class warfare rhetoric, "social justice" rhetoric (in exchange for votes; and political litmus tests, quotas, etc. Rauner in my opinion has talent at managing money; he seems to have a talent for going at the right issues in a credible nonvindictive way. Of those running in this race, he appears to be best suited in this crisis. This is a crisis that can't be solved by suppressing either the wealth producing tools of capitalism unleashed or talent that transcends the ideological divide. He's bland; doesn't seem to hate anyone; has friends all across the spectrum. Realizes that education is not taking place - Chicago high school diplomas are worthless, e.g. - and has some ideas. It is the mud pies being hurled at him in the absence of serious policy discussion that motivates me in this instance. I will decide on either Brady or Rauner in the future. Both are honorable men.
Ken January 13, 2014 at 04:13 PM
Rauner did nothing wrong in asking to have his daughter accepted into Payton. If you want to blame anyone it is Obama's Sec. of Education Arne Duncan who pulled the strings. The financial mess this state is in is due chiefly from the Dems buying union votes with outrageous pension promises. Pensions for all government workers and pols have to be eliminated in all future hires. They should have to get by on 401k's and social security just like most of the taxpayers must do.
Max Smart January 13, 2014 at 05:00 PM
Rauner is the ONLY who is not a career pol. He has nothing to lose and is the ONLY that can end madigan's rule!
Mark Garrity February 11, 2014 at 06:35 PM
Ken I don't think you realize that Illinois has public pensions because the state doesn't have to pay as much as an employer into them as they would Social Security. The state taxpayers would be on the hook for millions more contributions to SS than they are to the pensions. Think again.
CheKeroauc February 12, 2014 at 10:50 AM
Mark--But on the other hand, when a person retires from the state (as early as 50 years old depending on length of service) the state is on the hook for that pension PLUS medical till that person dies. In the private sector the payments to social security stop on the day the person retires and there never was or will be an obligation to pay medical premiums.
Max Smart February 12, 2014 at 11:35 AM
I know several people who have retired from the state police at 50 yrs. old on $70,000+ pensions. This is wrong.
Steven Bayne February 12, 2014 at 12:28 PM
When pensions are in the hands of government, there is a political advantage to keeping them high. In the private sector, there is motivation to keep them competitive, but not responsive to political pressure. Much of the current problem is that unions representing state employees have put the "muscle" on the Democrat powers that be; the result is that because few care to buck the unions in this blue state abusively high pensions prevail in the public sector.

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