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At mayor’s request, Pritzker activates National Guard ahead of Chauvin verdict

Monday, Apr 19, 2021

* Press release…

At the request of the City of Chicago, Governor JB Pritzker is activating 125 personnel from the Illinois National Guard to stand by to support the Chicago Police Department with a verdict expected in the trial of Derek Chauvin. Members of the Guard will deploy to Chicago beginning tomorrow, April 20, to pre-position and support the Chicago Police Department as needed.

The Illinois National Guard will carry out a limited mission to help manage street closures and will not interfere with peaceful protestors exercising their First Amendment rights, much the same role as Guard members played in previous deployments.

“At the request of Mayor Lightfoot, I am activating members of the Illinois National Guard to support the city in keeping our communities safe,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “It is critical that those who wish to peacefully protest against the systemic racism and injustice that holds back too many of our communities continue to be able to do so. Members of the Guard and the Illinois State Police will support the City of Chicago’s efforts to protect the rights of peaceful protestors and keep our families safe.”

“Our greatest priority at all times is ensuring the safety and security of the public,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “While there is no actionable intelligence at this time, we want to be fully prepared out of an abundance of caution. Our city has a long history of peacefully expressing its First Amendment rights and I encourage residents to exercise their rights to free speech this coming week thoughtfully, respectfully and peacefully.”

“The Illinois National Guard Soldiers assigned to this mission are trained, equipped and prepared to assist law enforcement authorities with protecting lives and property of Illinois residents,” said Maj. Gen. Rich Neely, the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard.

Governor Pritzker also directed the Illinois State Police (ISP) to support the Chicago Police Department with additional troopers. The troopers will work closely with the Chicago Police Department and other local law enforcement, supporting efforts to keep the community safe.

“The Illinois State Police will work closely with Chicago Police Department, other local law enforcement and the Illinois National Guard to protect peaceful protests and keep the community safe,” said ISP Director Brendan F. Kelly. “We appreciate the assistance of these agencies in our continuing mission to protect people, peaceful protests and property.”

The State Emergency Operations Center is monitoring operations throughout the state and is poised to fulfill requests from local governments, if they arise. All Soldiers will be tested for COVID-19 prior to deployment and they will be offered a COVID-19 vaccine. Additionally, Soldiers will be outfitted with personal protective equipment, such as face shields and masks, to address the threats of our current COVID environment.

Soldiers assigned to this mission are from the Illinois National Guard’s 33rd Military Police Battalion. These individuals are specially trained in riot control operations. The 33rd Military Police Battalion is comprised of Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, based in Machesney Park, the 233rd Military Police Company, based in Springfield, the 333rd Military Police Company, based in Freeport, and the 933rd Military Police Company, based in Fort Sheridan. The battalion is drawing Soldiers from each of these companies.

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** ALPLM explains its claims about Lincoln presidential library foundation

Monday, Apr 19, 2021

* Dean Olsen at the State Journal-Register about bickering between the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and the foundation which shares a name and which is now persona non grata

[Melissa Coultas, ALPLM acting executive director] said the [Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation] has a “parasitic” relationship with the ALPLM, adding that the ALPLM has “faced delay or outright rejection from the foundation when we’ve requested simple information on fundraising efforts and basic finances that purport to support the ALPLM. … I have never experienced anything close to this level of stonewalling and hostility.”

When comparing the foundation’s reported income to what ALPLM receives, Coultas said, “the amount is just over 7 cents on every dollar — a mere 7%.

“We concede some foundation spending, such as payment on its Taper Collection debt, indirectly benefits the ALPLM. But the details on that are hazy — and other spending is a complete mystery to us,” Coultas said.

On the other side, foundation CEO Mast said the ALPLM has issued “misleading narratives that aren’t supported by the facts.” She said the foundation has raised $42 million to benefit the ALPLM since the site’s inception, with half going toward paying for the Taper Collection.

And in the past year, about 70 cents out of every dollar raised or earned by the foundation — not 7 cents — was “put toward ALPLM expenses,” Mast said. She added that the foundation has “robust practices” to promote financial accountability as a nonprofit and posts financial documents that it files with the IRS on its website.

OK, I looked at the most recent 990 form and saw that the foundation raised $2.680 million between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020.

Of that, the foundation spent $823K on salaries and benefits, $407K on interest payments, $90K on office expenses, $65K on lobbying expenses and $61K for “other” expenses, among other things.

In support of the library, the foundation lists $502.5K in direct support, $240.5K for grant expenses, $217K for special events and $25.6K for investment expenses and $24K for investment expenses.

So, that’s neither 70 percent nor 7 percent.

* I reached out to ALPLM spokesperson Chris Wills…

When we talk about seven cents on the dollar, we are examining the Foundation’s claim that it provides about $2 million a year to the ALPLM. Most people hearing that would assume it means giving the ALPLM $2 million to spend on our needs — exhibits, equipment, marketing, etc. That may be the amount that flows through the Foundation’s accounts, but it is wrong to think they give us that amount to spend. In fact, if you look at their wording, the Foundation says the money merely “supported expenses for ALPLM.”

In the attached document, look at the section labeled “Foundation Average Expenditures by Function FY18-20.” That is our best estimate of how the Foundation spends its money.

First, 40 percent of that money goes to the Foundation’s own payroll. Another big chunk, about 19%, goes to interest on the Foundation’s debts. About 12 percent is grant money that comes from other institutions (and ALPLM staff, not the Foundation, are often the ones writing the grant requests and other administrative work). Another 12 percent goes to “special events” which we presume are costs associated with the Foundation’s fundraising events. The Foundation will not explain to us how that money is raised or where it goes. There are other spending categories we don’t fully understand. The amount we can verify that they actually raise and then make available to the ALPLM is about 7.5 percent of their claim.

So of the $2 million they claim, only about 7 cents of every dollar is actually the cash support most people would envision when talking about the Foundation assisting the ALPLM. As we said in the hearing, we think the ALPLM does benefit from some of the other Foundation spending. If they had met with us or even answered our written questions, we might have a clearer idea of the total impact.

I should also note that we put together the attached document because we kept getting questions from our board and from the administration about how the Foundation did or didn’t assist the ALPLM. We could not provide concrete answers from the Foundation, so we did our best to come up with an overview on our own. The Foundation says its financial picture is discussed at meetings that include ALPLM representatives. What they don’t mention is that the ALPLM representatives are NOT given copies of the financial reports their board discusses.

The attachment is here.

*** UPDATE *** Press release…

Governor JB Pritzker today announced Gary Johnson will be the new Chair of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Board (ALPLM). Johnson was appointed to the ALPLM Board of Directors in September 2019 after serving as President of the Chicago History Museum for 15 years. He previously spent 28 years as a lawyer and partner in international law at Mayer Brown and Jones Day.

“The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is a treasured institution that pays homage to not only the country’s first president from Illinois but also our great state’s incredible history,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “I am pleased to announce Gary Johnson will serve as Chair of the Museum’s Board, bringing years of prior, award-winning service with him. I am confident he will excel in the role and work to ensure the ALPLM remains a top destination for Illinoisans and visitors alike.”

Under Johnson’s leadership, the Chicago History Museum received the National Medal from the Institute for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest award for museums and libraries. He also served for 10 years as President of Museums in the Park. Additionally, he worked as Vice Chair on the Special Commission on the Administration of Justice in Cook County.

“It is an honor to become the chair of this board. This is an important time for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum,” said Gary Johnson. “It has accomplished so much for both Springfield and the nation. At the time of its anniversary, we look ahead to making it become even more relevant in our national dialogues.”

Gary Johnson is a member of the American Law Institute and a Life Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and the Illinois State Bar Association Foundation, and he served as president of the Chicago Council of Lawyers. Johnson earned his Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School, his Master of Arts from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and his Bachelor of Arts from Yale College. He also holds an honorary doctorate from Lake Forest College.

Johnson’s appointment to ALPLM Board Chair is effective immediately.

Johnson replaces Ray LaHood.

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      


It’s just a bill

Monday, Apr 19, 2021

* This is why you never want to chair the Revenue Committee

Despite broad bipartisan support for measures to reduce the tax Illinois levies on trailers, legislation has failed to advance.

State Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Raymond, has House Bill 636. There are 62 co-sponsors on the bill, more than enough to pass the House with a simple majority of bipartisan lawmakers.

Bourne said there are nine identical bills from Republicans and Democrats that decrease the trailer fee that was increased in the governor’s capital bill enacted in 2019. […]

State Rep. Mike Zalewski, who is the chairman of the House Revenue and Finance Committee, said despite having more than enough cosponsors to pass the measure in the House, he won’t let it out of committee.

“Until I’m provided with a funding alternative, I’m not going to willy nilly send every single bill to the floor,” said Zalewski, D-Riverside.

The following day on the House floor, state Rep. Tim Butler said the fee increase wasn’t negotiated as part of the governor’s capital plan. Some Republicans said they were told it was a drafting error, but Butler said it’s led to as many as 150,000 fewer trailer plate renewals and needs to be addressed because people can’t afford it.

Chairing that committee means telling lots of people “No” when you’d rather just say “Yes.” Zalewski told me last week they’re trying to work it out. We’ll see.

* Center Square

Illinois could be moving closer to a ban on the sale of dogs and cats that have been sourced from breeders at retail pet stores.

House members have approved a measure that would prohibit a pet shop operator from offering for sale a dog or cat that has been obtained through a breeder or a person reselling animals from a breeder. Retail pet stores still would be allowed to offer dogs and cats obtained from an animal control facility or an animal shelter.

State Rep. Andrew Chesney, R-Freeport, says the stores don’t have an incentive to make sure families can take on the financial burdens of these pets, which often end up with serious health problems.

“These pet stores want to buy really, really cheap animals, really, really, really young,” Chesney said. “They want to pull the heartstrings of an uninformed buyer. They want to sell it at a very expensive cost. And any time they get a buyer that’s unhappy, they’re going to just pay them a bunch of money to go away because they have so much profit built into these animals.”

* Email from Rep. Stoneback’s office…

Rep. Stoneback introduced HB 3483 to strengthen our state’s Firearm Restraining Order. The bill is timely in light of all the mass shootings our country has seen this past year. I wanted to bring this to your attention in hopes of having it included as part of your “It’s just a bill” segment. I’ve included a quote below that you may use as part of the post. Thank you for your time and consideration.

“In the wake of the over 150 mass shootings our country has experienced so far this year, our state legislature must do more. The Firearms Restraining Order (FRO) in Illinois is a crucial—but vastly underutilized—tool to prevent tragedies by temporarily removing firearms from those who pose a significant danger to themselves or others. My bipartisan bill, HB 3483, would strengthen this law by closing loopholes and providing much-needed educational resources for law enforcement as well as the general public.”

From the synopsis

Provides that the Department of Public Health, subject to appropriation or other available funding, shall conduct a program to promote awareness of firearms restraining orders to the general public. Provides that beginning July 1, 2022, the program must include the development and dissemination, through print, digital, and broadcast media, of public service announcements that publicize the options victims of domestic violence have to seek help with special emphasis on the firearms restraining order. Amends the Illinois Police Training Act. Provides that the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Standards Board shall develop and approve a standard curriculum for a training program on the Firearms Restraining Order Act. Provides that the Board shall conduct a training program that trains officers on the use of firearms restraining orders, how to identify situations in which a firearms restraining order is appropriate, and how to safely promote the usage of the firearms restraining order in a domestic violence situation. Officers who have successfully completed this program shall be issued a certificate attesting to their attendance. Amends the Firearms Restraining Order Act. Provides that a firearms restraining order includes the seizure of the respondent’s ammunition. Provides that “family member of the respondent” includes a former spouse and a person with whom the respondent has or allegedly has a child in common. Provides that a petition for a firearms restraining order may be filed in any county where an incident occurred that involved the respondent posing an immediate and present danger of causing personal injury to the respondent or another by having in his or her custody or control, or purchasing, possessing, or receiving, a firearm or ammunition. Includes printing a petition for a firearms restraining order for which no fees may be charged by the circuit clerk. Provides that the Illinois State Police shall submit a yearly report to the General Assembly concerning the applications and issuance of firearms restraining orders.

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      


Illinoisans can get free U of I covidSHIELD tests at community colleges

Monday, Apr 19, 2021

* Press release…

Community colleges across the state now have the ability to provide the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s (UIUC) innovative, saliva-based COVID-19 test at no cost to any state resident who wants one.

The testing will be funded through an agreement between the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and SHIELD Illinois, the University of Illinois System unit that is deploying the test throughout the state.

Under the agreement, the state’s 49 community colleges can test their own students and staff, and can choose to serve as community testing sites where any Illinois resident can get a free test.

There are currently five active SHIELD Illinois community testing sites – Black Hawk College, Heartland Community College, Lincoln Land Community College, Oakton Community College, and Sauk Valley Community College – and more in development.

The agreement is being funded with money the state received through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the American Rescue Plan.

UIUC’s innovative, saliva-based COVID-19 PCR test has held the virus in check at the U of I System’s three universities thanks to widespread testing with rapid results. The test, known as covidSHIELD, was granted emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in February.

Go get ‘em!

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      


Republicans continue having money problems

Monday, Apr 19, 2021

* Politico

The Illinois GOP has never been a fundraising juggernaut, and yet the first quarter numbers were still pretty bleak.

For the first quarter, Illinois GOP reported receiving a little more than $115,000 in donations, leaving $74,374 in the bank after expenses, according to the State Board of Elections.

Usually, the ILGOP does much better with its federal fundraising, but they only raised about $100k in January and February and had about $230K on hand.

* More

House Minority Leader Jim Durkin raised $125,000 in the first quarter and had about $267,00 on hand after expenses. His House Republican Organization, which funds GOP reps’ campaigns, raised $111,000, leaving a mere $200 in the bank after expenses. And Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie raised $68,000 and has $432,000 cash on hand. His caucus committee raised $206,000 and has $209,000 in the bank.

As I told subscribers on Friday, HRO reported raising $219K since the end of the quarter. Their new House Republican Majority committee reported $48,500 in contributions this month.

* More

The Democratic Party of Illinois, meanwhile, received about $2 million, leaving it with $2.6 million cash on hand. And Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker reports having $35 million in the bank, thanks to his self-funding.

DPI reported raising just $2,500 since Robin Kelly was elected party chair. That $2 million was a transfer from Democratic Majority before Chairman Madigan left office. He then moved half of that back to the caucus committee.

* Center for Illinois Politics

Democrats currently have five active party-wide committees. Each of these committees may broadly distribute funds to other Democratic committees across the state, helping pool and direct party funds to various strategic races. Put together, the five Democratic committees had a total of $5,411,409 in available funds as of March 31st, and raised $3,139,147 from January 1st to March 31st. By contrast, Republicans have four active party-wide committees. As of March 31st, all of them totaled $434,280 in available funds, having raised $432,559.68 from during the same time period - a startling advantage for Democrats, giving them a major financial edge of more than 12 times the current funds of Republicans.

Much the same holds true for the committees of each party’s leadership: Senate President Don Harmon’s individual committee had $5,988,860 in available funds as of March 31st, with newly-elected Speaker Chris Welch holding $1,223,835 (Note: Madigan had over $10 million in his individual campaign account). By contrast, Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie only had $432,323, with House Minority Leader Jim Durkin holding $266,564. Outside of the General Assembly, Governor Pritzker’s committee currently has $35,084,460 in available funds ($35,000,000 of which was donated by Pritzker himself on March 12th), while Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton’s committee holds $33,663. Once again, Democrats take the lead - and it bears mentioning that funds in these individual committees can also be transferred to other candidates. These well-funded individual committees may also serve as party-wide assets.

Democrats are clearly poised to have a strong financial advantage next year - a lot more money is going to start trickling into political committees as the year goes by, but the Democratic Party has a formidable head start. However, it remains to be seen how much difference it will ultimately make: Democrats poured millions into political committees supporting last year’s progressive tax ballot initiative, yet it still failed to pass when a single Republican donor (Ken Griffin) stepped up and matched the pot. As always, it will ultimately come down to individual Illinoisans, and for whom they choose to cast their vote.

Note: Additional leadership funds were collected by both parties via A -1 filings: Republicans received $133,750 and Democrats received $288,000.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      


Question of the day

Monday, Apr 19, 2021

* Sigh…


* The Question: Your “best” spring snowfall memories?

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


Ethics at issue with energy bill

Monday, Apr 19, 2021

* WBEZ on the reform angle of the evolving energy bill

In the House, state Rep. Ann Williams, D-Chicago, is carrying legislation to establish a path for ratepayers to win restitution if a utility company engages in criminal wrongdoing. In its deferred prosecution agreement, ComEd said its corrupt lobbying yielded legislative victories valued at more than $150 million for the company.

Her legislation also would do away with automatic rate increases for ComEd customers based on a preset formula. It would bar utilities like ComEd from billing ratepayers for charitable contributions or for legal fees tied to criminal investigations.

And Williams’ measure would establish a czar to oversee utility ethics compliance at the Illinois Commerce Commission, which regulates utilities.

That czar would have access to a database that ComEd and other utilities would be required to log, showing “requests for anything of value” sought by public officials or their staffs. But those records of potential job or contract asks wouldn’t be directly accessible to the public under current language in Williams’ bill — something she said she’s willing to reconsider.

Her legislation also would prevent ComEd-hired lobbyists from subcontracting, which the company acknowledged in its deferred prosecution agreement as a way political friends of Madigan’s were funneled rewards. That practice, which evaded state lobbying disclosure rules, enabled ComEd lobbyists to hire Madigan associates as consultants, who did little to no work.

“It’s really a shame that we have to babysit the utilities in this way,” Williams told WBEZ. “But unfortunately, ComEd has shown us that they were really willing to make a mockery of the legislative process.”

* AARP Illinois, Illinois PIRG and the Environmental Law & Policy Center recently released a laundry lists of reforms they’d like to see…

Restitution

    Make ComEd really pay for its $200 million settlement by taking it out of future revenues, in turn lowering customers’ bills
    Explore other ways to get money back for ComEd customers, as the General Assembly has done before

Regulation

    End automatic “formula” rate hikes for ComEd and Ameren
    End “Rider QIP,” a mini-formula rate for gas utilities
    Commission an independent audit of ComEd’s grid
    Establish integrated grid planning for ComEd and Ameren
    Provide the Illinois Commerce Commission with increased resources and staffing to effectively carry out its mission

Reform

    End utility political giving
    No longer allow utilities to charge customers for charitable giving

* Related…

* Illinois lawmakers considering legislation that could hike ComEd bills less than a year after utility admitted multimillion-dollar bribery scheme: Since the federal prosecutors announced the bribery case last summer, ComEd has argued that even though the legislative process was tainted, consumers still benefited from its passage and no harm has been done to ratepayers. “It is a preposterous position,” [former Gov. Pat Quinn] said. “It’s OK to use bribery to ‘pass’ good laws? You can’t allow that. You ruin democracy that way.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      


Today’s quotable

Monday, Apr 19, 2021

* Forbes

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), asked about the $2,000 he got from [embattled US Rep. Matt Gaetz], told Forbes he “probably got 5 million bucks” in campaign contributions in the 2020 cycle and said to “ask the TV stations and radio stations that got my money where it’s at… ask them what charity they’re gonna give it to.”

* Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association President Kristina Zahorik

“Rodney Davis has now refused to donate to charity the tainted campaign cash he received from Matt Gaetz and continues to deflect from commenting on the damning allegations surrounding Matt Gaetz. While three of Rodney Davis’ colleagues have donated Matt Gaetz’s money to charity, Rodney has only made jokes and now quips that he already spent the money — well we have the receipts.”

“Rodney Davis closed out his reelection with money in the bank, but pretends he’s spent it all to avoid having to unburden himself and his constituents of Matt Gaetz’s dirty money. Either Rodney Davis is lying, or he’s unable to keep his own finances in order just like the FEC has recently questioned him about.”

In 2020, Rodney filed FEC campaign disclosures showing he had $229,247 cash on hand after the campaign, and $140,435 at the end of the year. On February 9, 2021, Rodney Davis’ campaign received a Request for Additional Information (RFAI) from the Federal Election Commission regarding debts he owed. The RFAI mandated a response by March 16, 2021, but Rodney Davis’ campaign has so far apparently not filed the required, amended report with the requested “…clarifying information as to why this activity was not disclosed on your original report.” The FEC states that “Failure to adequately respond by the response date noted above could result in an audit or enforcement action.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      


1,959 new confirmed and probable cases; 22 additional deaths; 2,128 hospitalized; 491 in ICU; 4.0 percent average case positivity rate; 4.7 percent average test positivity rate; 125,212 average daily doses

Monday, Apr 19, 2021

* Press release…

53% of those 18 years and older and 50% of those 16 years and older in Illinois receive at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today reported 1,959 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 22 additional deaths.

    - Cook County: 1 female 50s, 3 males 50s, 2 males 60s, 1 male 70s, 3 males 80s, 2 females 90s
    - DuPage County: 1 female 50s, 1 female 80s
    - Mason County: 1 male 60s
    - Peoria County: 1 female 60s, 1 male 70s, 1 male 80s
    - St. Clair County: 1 female 80s
    - Will County: 1 male 60s, 1 female 80s
    - Winnebago County: 1 male 50s

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 1,304,200 cases, including 21,685 deaths, in 102 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 47,506 specimens for a total of 21,776,820. As of last night, 2,128 individuals in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 491 patients were in the ICU and 227 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from April 12-18, 2021 is 4.0%. The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity from April 12-18, 2021 is 4.7%.

The total number of COVID-19 vaccine doses for Illinois is 9,930,945. A total of 8,119,867 vaccines have been administered in Illinois as of last midnight. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 125,212 doses. Yesterday, 65,233 doses were reported administered in Illinois.

*All data are provisional and will change. In order to rapidly report COVID-19 information to the public, data are being reported in real-time. Information is constantly being entered into an electronic system and the number of cases and deaths can change as additional information is gathered. For health questions about COVID-19, call the hotline at 1-800-889-3931 or email dph.sick@illinois.gov.

One month ago today, the average daily doses figure was 102,775. That’s a 22 percent increase.

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      


Illinois, Chicago right around national average on vaccines so far

Monday, Apr 19, 2021

* NPR

After a year of grim milestones, Sunday marked a hopeful statistic in America’s fight against the coronavirus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of all American adults have now gotten at least one vaccine dose.

After months of limited vaccine availability, every adult in the country will be eligible to sign up for vaccination on Monday. The only remaining states still with certain adult age restrictions — Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont — will open vaccine registration to all people age 16 and older, meeting a federal deadline for all adults to be eligible set earlier this month.

About 130 million adults have gotten at least one vaccine dose, the CDC reported Sunday. And 84 million, or about a third of all adults, are fully vaccinated. (The CDC considers people “fully vaccinated” if they have received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.) The U.S. has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world.

The CDC says 50.4 percent of Americans 18+ have received at least their first dose.

* Press release…

The City of Chicago has reached a milestone in its vaccine rollout with 50% of Chicago adults having received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. About four times as many Chicagoans have now received a first dose of vaccine as have ever been diagnosed with COVID. The vaccine numbers – more than a million Chicagoans and another almost 350,000 non-Chicago residents who have received the vaccine – is equivalent to the number of regular vaccines the City would administer in three years.

The City has officially moved into Phase 2 of COVID-19 vaccine eligibility today, meaning all Chicagoans age 16 or older are eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Anyone 16+ living in the City of Chicago can look for vaccine appointments at zocdoc.com/vaccine or use the City’s COVID-19 Vaccine Finder to identify additional vaccine providers. For Zocdoc, Chicagoans under 18 must have a parent or guardian book vaccine appointments on their behalf.

The governor’s office says that 53 percent of 18+ Illinoisans have received at least their first shot. 50 percent of Illinoisans 16+ have had at least one shot.

Just remember, though, that a member of Gov. Pritzker’s own staff who had received their first shot contracted COVID. Unless you got the J&J, one ain’t done.

* Speaking of Johnson and Johnson

The nationwide pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine is likely to end by Friday, Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, said in a series of interviews on Sunday.

“By Friday, we should have an answer as to where we’re going with it,” Fauci said on ABC News’s “This Week.” “I would think that we’re not going to go beyond Friday in the extension of this pause.”

* Back to vaccines. According to IDPH, 26.14 percent of all Illinoisans (3,330,480 people) are fully vaccinated. That’s a tiny bit above the national rate of 25.4 percent, according to the CDC.

But we’ll eventually get to a plateau if current trends hold

The disparity in vaccination rates has so far mainly broken down along political lines. The New York Times examined survey and vaccine administration data for nearly every U.S. county and found that both willingness to receive a vaccine and actual vaccination rates to date were lower, on average, in counties where a majority of residents voted to re-elect former President Donald J. Trump in 2020. The phenomenon has left some places with a shortage of supply and others with a glut.

As we discussed Friday, this is happening in Illinois.

* Meanwhile, this sort of fraudulent behavior is gonna increase demand for vaccine passports…


Brenden Moore

Several private companies have started developing vaccine passport apps that can be downloaded on smartphones. And in late March, New York became the first state to launch a free, voluntary vaccine passport available to all the state’s residents.

In Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has been relatively mum on the issue. When asked by reporters in March, he said that he likes the idea “that everybody will have with them easily on their device some way to show that they’ve been vaccinated.”

“Look, your friends, your neighbors, we all want to get together,” Pritzker said. “You may also want to show each other that ‘hey, it’s okay, we can take our masks off … as the CDC has allowed, as long as the group of people getting together have all been vaccinated.”

Pritzker said “there’s nothing wrong with that as long as it’s your choice,” but said that a vaccine passport should not be required to enter an event.

* Related…

* Illinois’ COVID-19 vaccine total surpasses 8 million as Chicago set to expand eligibility to all adults Monday

* Hundreds of CPS students and staff are in quarantine, but as high schools reopen, COVID-19 cases remain isolated in the district so far

* As cases rise, health authorities urge younger people to get vaccinated

* COVID-19 vaccine and Chicago sports: Who has received it? What are they saying about it? And how does it affect fan attendance?

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


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Monday, Apr 19, 2021

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Our sorry state

Monday, Apr 19, 2021

* The 2019 budget implementation bill is preventing thousands of autistic kids from getting therapy. Here’s Megan Valley and Raymon Troncoso from the Belleville News-Democrat

(D)espite a 2014 federal mandate that states cover autism treatment through Medicaid, Illinois was one of a handful of states that didn’t provide Medicaid coverage for behavioral therapy until 2019.

However, an error in implementation created restrictions on who could provide behavioral therapy, an obstacle that has functionally prevented Illinois’ Medicaid plan from covering behavioral therapy despite it technically being included in Medicaid spending on paper. […]

A notice from the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services released in October confirmed that dual credentials would be required to receive Medicaid funds through the department for behavioral therapy.

But the Illinois Autism Task Force, based in the Illinois Department of Human Services, warned in a February letter to Gov. JB Pritzker and the General Assembly that “the dual credential requirement will result in devastating barriers to access.” That same letter said only 26 BCBAs possessed one of the other required certifications and it was unclear whether any of the 26 provided behavioral therapy.

The Autism Task Force, in a 2020 meeting, claimed that $42 million placed in the state’s FY 2020 budget for behavioral therapy through Medicaid remained untouched due to the mistake.

Paul estimated there are about 3,500 ASD-diagnosed children under age 5 who are covered by Medicaid in Illinois.

The letter is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      


Rate Giannoulias’ first online ad

Monday, Apr 19, 2021

* Press release…

Former State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias released his first ad of the 2022 campaign season today that features his fight to successfully save jobs at Illinois suit maker Hartmarx and protect worker rights at Republic Windows.

The new ad entitled “Working Together,” which was produced by Adelstein & Associates, discusses the impact of Covid crisis and the resulting hardships facing workers and middle-class families, but it also offers hope.

“When times get hard, it means we need to fight hard,” Giannoulias says in the ad. “Because the stakes are so high. We know what we need to do: Fund projects to put folks back to work; protect the right to organize; and help working families get ahead. We need to do it together, in solidarity. That’s how we win. That’s how we bring back the middle class.”

The ad also highlights Giannoulias’ efforts as Illinois State Treasurer to prevent Hartmarx from closing and laying off hundreds of workers.

Giannoulias threatened to pull the state’s $8 billion investment portfolio from Hartmarx’s main creditor, Wells Fargo, in 2009 after it planned to shut down the plant and liquidate the hundreds of jobs. Wells Fargo relented, agreeing to sell the factory to an owner willing to preserve the jobs at the Des Plaines plant.

In addition, the ad mentions Giannoulias’ role in helping to reach a settlement between Bank of America and Chicago-based Republic Windows to ensure its workers receive wages, vacation and health care after the factory shut down.

“We’re excited to release our first ad and committed to reemerge from this pandemic with a stronger economy that is focused on renewed opportunities for working families, a stronger middle class and better lives for all Illinoisians,” Giannoulias said.

* Ad

* Script…

Giannoulias Voiceover:

Working people are hurting right now.

Middle class families are losing ground. Getting pushed to the edge.

When times get hard, it means we need to fight hard. Because the stakes are so high.

We know what we need to do:

Fund projects to put folks back to work.

Protect the right to organize.

And help working families get ahead.

We need to do it together, in solidarity.

That’s how we win. That’s how we bring back the middle class.

We’ve been here before.

I’ve been with you, I’ll always be with you.

Standing up to big corporations and powerful special interests.

Fighting for working people, working families.

I’m running for Secretary of State to restore trust in our ability to change things for the better.

And that starts with restoring our commitment to workers.

- Posted by Rich Miller   48 Comments      


*** UPDATED x2 *** Key remap Dem says no guarantee US Census data will be accurate

Monday, Apr 19, 2021

* The Illinois Constitution requires that new legislative maps be enacted by June 30th, but the census data won’t be available until September or so. The National Conference of State Legislatures has suggested using the population estimates from the US Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey and Illinois Democrats have come up with a bit of spin to cast aspersions on the official numbers

Democrats have said they intend to finish the legislative mapmaking process by June 30, ensuring they will be relying on alternative data to the actual federal 2020 census.

“That’s our constitutional responsibility and that’s our goal to be done by June 30,” said state Sen. Elgie Sims, the Chicago Democrat who is vice chair of the senate redistricting committee. […]

Illinois’ Constitution does not require the use of federal census data for legislative redistricting, and some leading Democrats question the accuracy of the final census data by pointing to efforts by former President Donald Trump’s administration to block the counting of undocumented immigrants.

“There’s nothing that says that this (census) data is going to be accurate anyway because there were significant steps made to impact and influence some of that data,” Sims said. […]

Kathay Feng, the national redistricting director for Common Cause, said to rely on survey data to draw maps “is a guaranteed malapportionment lawsuit.”

Every redistricting cycle involves lawsuits. You can bet your house there will be filings on this topic.

*** UPDATE 1 *** Speaking of redistricting and possibly getting dragged into lawsuits, here’s Lynn Sweet

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the most prominent Republican in Illinois, said if Democrats carve up his congressional district in the pending remap, he would consider a statewide run for senator or governor in 2022.

Kinzinger made the comment Thursday on the Chicago Sun-Times political show “At the Virtual Table. On the show another guest, new Democratic Party of Illinois chairwoman Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., said freshman Rep. Mary Miller, R-Ill. — not Kinzinger — should be the Democratic target if a district needs to be eliminated.

With Democrats having the upper hand in a remap and Illinois likely to lose at least one seat because of population declines, Kelly said, “If we have something to say about it, I don’t think that it’ll be Adam’s seat.” […]

It is “fine with me” if “her seat is no longer there,” [Kelly said about Miller].

*** UPDATE 2 *** Meanwhile…

Dear Governor Pritzker:

On Monday, April 12, 2021 we requested from the Chairs of the House and Senate redistricting committees that yourself or a high-level member of your office testify at the only scheduled joint House-Senate redistricting hearing. The hearing is scheduled for this next Monday, April 19, 5:00 p.m. in East St. Louis.

At a House Redistricting Committee the evening of Friday, April 16, 2021, the Chair of the Committee that evening stated House Democrats had yet to receive a response to our request.
As the Spokesmen on the respective Senate and House redistricting committees, we ask for your attendance at this hearing.

Comments from Members of the Democratic party during hearings on the 2021 redistricting process lead us to believe that the majority fully plans to enact new maps, without using decennial census data, for both the Legislature and U.S. House of Representatives through a process that includes your approval of new maps by June 30, 2021.

To date, with over 30 hearings being conducted, not a single House or Senate hearing has included testimony from your office.

Given your numerous stated positions in favor of fair mapping, as well as a commission process for redistricting, it is vital that both the people of Illinois and our Committees hear directly from your office in a public hearing as to your views and plans for redistricting.

Sincerely,
Senator Jason Barickman
Representative Tim Butler

The full interview is here.

* Related…

* A guide to political redistricting in Illinois

* How you can share your thoughts with lawmakers on Illinois’ new congressional districts

* Hearing in East St. Louis today ahead of state’s redistricting process

* U of I hosts redistricting talk Tuesday

* Maine redistricting thrown into confusion by census delay, constitutional Catch-22

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      


Mayor Lightfoot deals with rumor head-on

Monday, Apr 19, 2021

* WGN

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot rebuked rumors of her resignation that began circulating on social media late Saturday night and early Sunday morning, saying she will serve “today, tomorrow and into the future.”

Community activist Ja’Mal Green said in a now-deleted tweet Saturday night that Lightfoot would resign from her position on Sunday, with later rumors speculating a potential resignation was due to rumors of personal infidelity.

Lightfoot responded to the rumors Sunday morning in a series of tweets, where she said “it’s shocking and disappointing” to see people with a prominent social media presence “peddling this trash as truth.”

* Tribune

“It’s shocking and disappointing to see some media members and verified Twitter handles are peddling this trash as truth,” Lightfoot said. “If people hadn’t noticed, we have major challenges in Chicago we need to address TOGETHER. This nonsense that some apparently have the luxury of indulging in has not fed one person, stopped the pandemic, housed anyone living on the street or saved one young person.”

On Saturday, Activist Ja’Mal Green, a frequent Lightfoot critic, posted — and then deleted — a tweet saying Lightfoot was going to resign. On Sunday, Green tweeted that he was “sorry” he helped spread the rumor that she was resigning. […]

Rumors about politicians are nothing new, particularly on social media. But it’s rare for elected officials to publicly respond to unsubstantiated rumors unless reporters ask about them at a news conference. Lightfoot’s unorthodox decision to address the tweets opens the door to more of the public finding out about the rumors than otherwise would have.

* Sun-Times

Green said the rumors about Lightfoot were “circulated” by members of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, the union that represents Chicago’s rank-and-file police officers.

In a Facebook post Sunday, the FOP urged its members to “temper their public comments” while attempting to distance John Catanzara, the union’s embattled president, from the conversation.

“There are many rumors flying around about the Mayor,” the FOP said. “Several posts and comments have mentioned President Catanzara being in possession of proof and that he is pushing the issue. BOTH ARE FALSE!!!”

“Pushing rumors,” the FOP added, isn’t the proper way to address the “extreme differences” between the union and the mayor.

“No parent would want their child to read disgusting rumors about them, including US. Extend that courtesy in this situation also,” the FOP said. “Have some empathy and use common sense.”

* It’s tempting to just laugh this whole thing off, but…


- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      


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Lightfoot low-balls elected school board issue

Monday, Apr 19, 2021

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

Illinois Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford really has her work cut out for her if she wants to forge a compromise on an elected Chicago school board.

Lightford agreed to become the sponsor of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s alternative school board proposal last week. Sen. Rob Martwick (D-Chicago) has been pushing a bill for years that would elect 21 school board members, which have long been appointed by the city’s mayor. Leader Lightford has a reputation among the education establishment for being an honest broker and, frankly, she excels at negotiations like this, but this one will be particularly difficult.

Mayor Lightfoot’s proposal was privately criticized by numerous House and Senate members in both parties last week when it finally emerged.

It puts off the first school board election until 2026, and then only elects two out of seven members. Seven years from now, in 2028, the city’s voters would elect a third member, but the mayor would appoint three more, giving appointed members an 8-3 majority. Mayor Lightfoot said often during her campaign that she supported a “fully elected” school board. This proposal is more like tokenism.

The mayor can currently appoint school board members without any sort of confirmation process. They are direct appointments without input or oversight by the City Council, and her bill would keep it that way.

Some opponents who testified in committee last week against Sen. Rob Martwick’s elected school board bill criticized the measure for having no provisions to allow undocumented immigrants to serve on the board, as they currently can on local school councils. But Lightfoot’s proposal only requires that the mayor’s appointments “strive to achieve representation that reflects the diversity of the City of Chicago,” although it does remove both citizenship and voter registration requirements for the elected positions (which will create quite a stir on the political right).

Martwick’s bill would prohibit school board employees and contractors from running for the board. Lightfoot’s bill would do essentially the same, but would also require that all election candidates must have served on a local school council, the governing board of a charter school or contract school or the board of governors of a military academy. That would severely limit the types of people who can run for the tiny handful of seats, and particularly helps lock out candidates affiliated with the Chicago Teachers Union, which is the major force behind the Martwick bill.

Leader Lightford criticized Martwick’s proposal in committee for not specifically guaranteeing districts be created on the city’s West Side, but Martwick pointed out that his bill mirrors the city’s representation in the Illinois House. With only two initially elected members and considering the large populations on the city’s North and South Sides, no guarantees can be given that the mayor’s proposal would give the West Side a seat at the table in the first round of elections.

Martwick’s bill would let the General Assembly draw the initial district maps and then turn it over to the elected board for the remap. Lightfoot’s bill would give the mayor pretty much complete and permanent control over the map-making process.

This is the mayor’s first volley, but it’s such a lowball offer that it doesn’t appear to be taken all that seriously by members. Some legislators had been intrigued by the idea of a “hybrid” school board, but this is far more SUV than Prius and they appeared to be laughing it off.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin claimed during debate on the House’s own elected school board bill that Mayor Lightfoot told him the Democratic leaders had walked away from a hybrid plan and wouldn’t call her proposal for a vote. That was denied, and I doubt the mayor did herself any favors by claiming such a thing.

The House passed its version of the bill, which mirrored Martwick’s legislation except for sunsetting the entire process in five years, with 71 votes. Rep. Tony McCombie (R-Savanna) was the lone Republican in favor. A couple of Democrats voted “Present” and some were absent. The bill was backed by both teachers’ unions.

The Democratic leaders themselves both said through their spokespersons that the mayor’s proposal was under review.

Sen. Martwick pledged to negotiate in good faith, but pointed to the strength of his position (including that House vote and the Senate committee approval) compared to Lightfoot’s.

Like I said, a compromise won’t be easy.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


Open thread

Monday, Apr 19, 2021

* Please keep it Illinois-centric and polite. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


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Monday, Apr 19, 2021

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Monday, Apr 19, 2021

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PREVIOUS POSTS »
* At mayor's request, Pritzker activates National Guard ahead of Chauvin verdict
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* Republicans continue having money problems
* Question of the day
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* Illinois, Chicago right around national average on vaccines so far
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* Rate Giannoulias' first online ad
* *** UPDATED x2 *** Key remap Dem says no guarantee US Census data will be accurate
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* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today's edition
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