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Yet another state trooper killed by motorist

Saturday, Mar 30, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

[Comments are now open on this post.]

* This is a different circumstance than the Scott’s Law violations, but Trooper Ellis was the 16th Illinois State Police trooper hit by a motorist this year and the third to be killed. From the ISP…

Illinois State Police (ISP) Acting Director Brendan F. Kelly regretfully announces the line-of-duty death of ISP District 15 (Downers Grove) Trooper Gerald Ellis.

This morning, March 30th, 2019, at approximately 3:25 a.m., Trooper Gerald Ellis, #6038, was on-duty in his squad car traveling home on I-94 westbound near milepost 16.75 in Green Oaks, when a wrong-way driver, who was traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes, struck Trooper Ellis head on. Trooper Ellis was transported to a local area hospital with life threatening injuries. At approximately 4:04 a.m. Trooper Ellis succumbed to his injuries.

“While the men and women of the Illinois State Police are still grieving our recent loss, it is with profound heartache and unfathomable sadness that we inform you of the death of another fallen trooper, Trooper Gerald Ellis. Trooper Ellis laid down his life while protecting the citizens of this state. We are asking the public to respectfully give consideration to the family of Trooper Ellis and the ISP while we continue to process and work through this tragedy,” stated Acting Director Brendan Kelly.

Trooper Ellis was 36 years old and an 11-year veteran of the Illinois State Police District 15 in Downers Grove.

Additional information will be released once it becomes available.

Two state troopers have been killed in just a few days.

* Monday is Illinois State Trooper Day…

(5 ILCS 490/147)

Sec. 147. Illinois State Trooper Day. April 1st of each year is designated as Illinois State Trooper Day, a day to honor the dedicated men and women of the Illinois State Police. Illinois State Trooper Day shall be observed throughout the State by the citizens of Illinois with civic remembrances of the sacrifices made on their behalf by Illinois’ finest, the Illinois State Troopers, especially the ultimate sacrifice given by those State Police Officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.

…Adding… Secretary of State Jesse White…

I am issuing a call to action to motorists throughout Illinois: Stop driving while distracted. Stop texting while driving. Stop driving while impaired.

Please protect those who protect us by moving over when approaching a stopped emergency vehicle.

I grieve for those officers who lost their lives while protecting us, and I grieve for their family members.


Reader comments closed for the weekend

Friday, Mar 29, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Jackie Greene

Seldom turns out the way it does in the song

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Friday, Mar 29, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Question of the day

Friday, Mar 29, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

Today, Think Big Illinois released new ads in several districts urging state legislators to support Governor Pritzker’s fair tax. The ads push back on false attacks from opponents who currently benefit from our current unfair tax system and want to avoid finally having to pay their share.

The ads also highlight why a fair tax is right for Illinois, including that 97% of Illinoisans will not see a state income tax increase, with only those making above $250,000 paying more. A fair tax will also solve the $3.2 billion budget crisis Illinois is currently facing, which otherwise would have to be addressed by raising income taxes on everyone by 20% or by drastically gutting critical social service programs.

The ads urge Representatives Monica Bristow, Jonathan Carroll, Terra Costa Howard, and Mary Edly-Allen. Think Big Illinois’ previous ad, Hole, will continue to air across the state.

* One of the ads

* Script

Wonder who’s paying for these ads attacking the fair tax?

Take one guess.

Yup, you’re right.

They’re paid for by the same millionaires who would be forced to pay more if Illinois makes our tax system fair.

The truth is, under a fair tax 97% of Illinoisans will not see an income tax increase.

Only those making above $250,000 a year would pay more.

Tell Terra Costa Howard to vote yes and put the middle class first.

* The Question: Your thoughts on this ad?


It’s just a bill

Friday, Mar 29, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Paul Shapiro, the author of Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World

If two members of the Illinois House get their way, you may not be able to call those frozen chunks of water made by your freezer “ice” anymore.

Well, that’s not exactly what Rep. Mike Murphy and Rep. Tim Butler, both Republicans from Springfield, want to do, but it’s what they might have proposed had they been in office in the 19th century.

Their newly introduced bill — HB2556 — would prohibit meat grown from animal cells rather than animal slaughter from being called exactly what it is: meat.

For background on this meaty matter, many food sustainability experts are expressing serious concerns about the connection between meat production and food insecurity, climate change, antibiotic resistance, food safety problems and more. To address these concerns, a new crop of startups, financed by investors such as Bill Gates, Richard Branson and even meat companies like Tyson and Cargill, has been growing real animal meat in cultivators rather than in animals’ bodies.

It may sound like science fiction, but it’s actually quite similar to other technologies we’ve been using in food and medicine for decades. Simply by taking a sesame seed-sized biopsy from an animal’s muscle (their meat), these entrepreneurs are culturing animal cells in conditions where they grow into muscle just like they would inside the body. And from that minuscule piece of muscle, they can grow literally tons of meat.

* Illinois News Network

State lawmakers are one step closer to removing a line from property tax bills in a number of cities in Illinois.

State Sen. Dan McConchie’s legislation allows for water drainage districts, responsible for keeping small waterways cleared of debris, to be absorbed into the municipality they’re at least 75 percent inside of through a court filing process.

“Drainage districts served to keep ditches clear of debris and improve farmland, but now, their services could easily be merged with another unit of government,” he said.

McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods, told lawmakers on the Senate floor Wednesday that the measure is needed in more suburban areas where the cities have largely taken over drainage responsibilities already.

* Ibid

It wasn’t just opening day for baseball Thursday, it was also opening day for a bill to legalize sports betting in Illinois.

The Illinois House Revenue and Finance Committee heard about various aspects of expanding gambling during an hourslong hearing Thursday, that included testimony from NBA Senior Vice President Dan Spillane. Afterward, he said the NBA supports legalizing sports betting in Illinois, but the association wants to make sure it protects the integrity of the game and protects the fans who would be placing bets.

“If sports betting is going to be successful it crowds out illegal markets, encourages people to bet in legal markets, and that’s going to create jobs and revenue for the state,” Spillane said.

Illinois’ professional sports teams support the concept. One proposal would give teams 25 cents for every $100 wagered. The teams also support online sports betting.

* Twitters…

The bill was withdrawn for an amendment.

…Adding… The sponsor has decided not to attach a new amendment after all. Click here to watch.

…Adding… The bill passed with 61 votes after a brief debate.

* Related…

* The Inside Story Of How The Ricketts Family Schemed And Feuded Their Way To Owning The Chicago Cubs

* Lawmakers move to allow graduate research assistants to unionize


PBMs Help Lower Prescription Drug Costs

Friday, Mar 29, 2019 - Posted by Advertising Department

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) are the primary advocate for consumers and health plans in the fight to keep prescription drugs accessible and affordable. By leveraging competition among drug-makers and drugstores, PBMs help 266 million Americans every year access needed medications. PBMs will save patients and payers $123 per brand prescription, help prevent 100 million medication errors, and negotiate prescription costs down nearly $26 billion in Illinois. That means better care for more people at a lower cost.

Think of PBMs as your advocates—they’re in your corner, clamping down on prescription drug hikes because your health is non-negotiable. Learn more at

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Friday, Mar 29, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Catholic dioceses press conference roundup

Friday, Mar 29, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From the Chicago Catholic, which is the newspaper of the Chicago Archdiocese

The bishops of Illinois’ six Catholic dioceses gathered in Springfield March 28 to speak against proposed legislation that would define abortion as a fundamental right and do away with a law requiring that the parents of minors seeking abortions be notified.

“This is not about the right to an abortion, although we would question that,” said Cardinal Cupich. “This is a radical departure from the status quo that goes far beyond Roe v Wade.”

One of the two bills would define abortion as a fundamental right and states that embryos and fetuses would have no independent rights. It also would remove protections for doctors and other health care providers who refuse to participate in abortions because it violates their consciences and would require that private health insurance in Illinois fully cover the costs of abortions. […]

“As physicians, we take an oath to do no harm,” said Stallings, who is Illinois director of the Catholic Medical Association and a member of the Illinois Catholic Healthcare Association. “We offer patients an objective treatment plan based upon medical training and scientific testing. It has been a longstanding practice, however, to respect doctors’ rights of conscience when they are asked to perform a morally objectionable procedure. … I love taking care of women and delivering babies. If this legislation passes, I am not going to leave the medical profession and abandon women who need good health care. But I will refuse to participate in an abortion.”

* Cardinal Cupich

Further, the legislation removes the right of health care workers to refuse to participate in a procedure that violates their right of conscience. Does the State of Illinois really want to become a place where people are forced to do things in their workplace that are against their most deeply held beliefs?

* Colleen Connell, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois…

When we proposed the Reproductive Health Act, we expected a vigorous debate – but one based on facts. The Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act – which is unaffected by this legislation – continues to protect health care providers from participating in any care that inconsistent with their religious and moral beliefs. Period. Full stop. Suggesting otherwise is simply not true.

* From the Illinois Health Care Right Of Conscience Act

“Conscience” means a sincerely held set of moral convictions arising from belief in and relation to God, or which, though not so derived, arises from a place in the life of its possessor parallel to that filled by God among adherents to religious faiths. […]

No physician or health care personnel shall be civilly or criminally liable to any person, estate, public or private entity or public official by reason of his or her refusal to perform, assist, counsel, suggest, recommend, refer or participate in any way in any particular form of health care service which is contrary to the conscience of such physician or health care personnel. […]

This Act shall supersede all other Acts or parts of Acts to the extent that any Acts or parts of Acts are inconsistent with the terms or operation of this Act.

* Capitol News Illinois

The legislation exists in both chambers of the General Assembly. Both House bills are seemingly stuck in a subcommittee, as is the Senate version of the Reproductive Health Act.

Only the Senate version of the effort to repeal the Parental Notification of Abortion Act has moved to the chamber floor for a possible vote.

Robert Gilligan, executive director of Catholic Conference of Illinois, said Thursday that could change “at any point in time, so we’re here to just express our opposition to (them), and we hope they stay where they are.”

The parental notice bill made it out of a Senate committee, but the Reproductive Health Act is stuck in Senate Assignments after missing the committee passage deadline last week when the Executive Committee didn’t take action. Exec is tightly controlled by Democratic leadership.

And, yes, as subscribers have known for a while now, the House bills are stuck in a subcommittee.

* Sun-Times

“This morning I come to question the unlimited right of one human being to end the life of another,” Cupich said, while calling the measures “the latest attack on human dignity.”

Cupich said a Roe v. Wade protection was already granted in the signing of House Bill 40, the controversial measure former Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law. The law ensures abortion remains legal in Illinois even if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, while also allowing women with Medicaid and state-employee health insurance to use their coverage for abortions.

“This is a fundamental question that should be well considered before such important legislation is voted on,” Cupich said. “Who lives? Who dies? who decides?”

* Illinois News Network

Questions from reporters quickly turned to the church’s child sex abuse scandal. Earlier this month, a Minnesota law firm released a 182-page report with details about 395 Catholic clergy members and church staff in Illinois who have been accused of sexual misconduct.

One reporter asked what standing the church had to lecture about the issue given the widespread, decades-long practice of priests abusing children.

“Those are all very important questions … but this issue, no matter who speaks for it, is so compelling that it needs to be heard and the focus needs to stay on [abortion] today,” Cupich said. “Those other questions – and others you may have about other topics – are important and they surely should be responded to in their own venue.”


Bishops from across Illinois joined together in Springfield Thursday to voice their concerns about potential changes to state abortion laws. The Catholic bishops held a press conference about the issue, which marks the first media event Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky was present since new allegations of priest sex abuse came to light in the Peoria Diocese.

After numerous requests for interviews via phone, e-mail, and in person about sexual abuse allegations in the Catholic Church. Again, this is the first time there has been a press event where Bishop Daniel Jenky was present, and available for questioning. […]

“Cardinal, since you are speaking about it, since you are speaking for Bishop Jenky then what is the catholic church doing to prevent these things from continuing to happen within the Catholic Church when it comes to priest sex abuse?”

“Yes again we will be happy to discuss that issue and any other issue you have but we want to put the focus on these two bills today. said Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago ”

The bishop was then wheeled away. Reporter Kyle Beachy tried to speak with him in the hallway mentioning the numerous times we have tried to go through proper channels to offer the diocese a chance to speak on camera.

* More

The Archbishop and bishops would not answer questions about sexual abuse allegations during the press conference. When Pearson tried to ask Jenky some questions following the event, he said, “You’re clearly trying to do one of those ‘gotcha’ things.We are here to express our opinions on these two bills…” Jenky then directed us to their website for information on their response to this issue.

After that our other reporter, Kyle Beachy, approached Bishop Jenky before he left the Capitol.

Kyle Beachy, Heart of Illinois ABC: “Do you think you’ve been transparent about the issue of sexual abuse?”

Bishop Daniel Jenky: “Yes, go on the internet and you can see everything we know going back to the 1870’s.”


“Take it down, just take it off the TV”

Friday, Mar 29, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* So, lemme get this straight. You’re way behind and decide to run a nasty campaign TV ad that uses the fiery death of three children to score a political point and you don’t even bother to check in with the family before forcing them to relive this horrific tragedy? That’s not only gross political malpractice, it’s grotesquely inhumane. This election cannot end soon enough

A new TV ad released by Chicago mayoral candidate Toni Preckwinkle’s campaign is drawing ire from the family whose tragedy is at the center of it.

The ad, Preckwinkle’s first in more than a week, attacks her opponent, Lori Lightfoot, over a 2004 fire on the West Side that killed three children in the Funches family. The family says they were never contacted or consulted about the ad. […]

Lovera Funches, the oldest daughter in the family, agrees that Preckwinkle is trying to take advantage of her family’s tragedy.

“Now y’all using this as a weapon and it’s hurting us. It’s hurting my family,” she said. “Take it down, just take it off the TV. We don’t want nothing else but to take it off. Please, we’re asking, we don’t want to see it no more.” […]

“Lightfoot, if you know that those four beautiful babies died in that fire and you destroyed that evidence, I pray that God have mercy on you,” she said. “Preckwinkle, I really appreciate you for doing what you’ve done, for bringing everything out to the light, but I don’t appreciate the way you did it.” […]

“If you have no regrets for using my family as a political weapon, then you’re not the choice for the city of Chicago!” Funches said.


Preckwinkle said she will not pull the ad, and doesn’t regret it.

“No, I think this is an ad that shares with the voters important factors of my opponents capacity to lead,” she said.

That’s not all it shares with voters.


Pot more popular than Moylan in Moylan’s district

Friday, Mar 29, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Crain’s Chicago Business posted my column early, so we get to talk about it on Friday instead of our usual Monday. It’s about legalizing cannabis and historical polling by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University which showed a marked switch in public opinion since its spring of 2017 poll, when support jumped from 45 percent to 66 percent, where it has stayed ever since. There’s also this aspect…

* Here you go

Despite this, a majority of Illinois House members have sponsored a resolution asking that the General Assembly slow down the legalization process.

We don’t have poll numbers for all these legislators’ districts, but we do have results from a March 2018 nonbinding referendum when 63 percent of Chicago and suburban Cook County voters said they favored legalizing cannabis.

I asked my pal Scott Kennedy at Illinois Election Data to crunch the numbers for a few districts represented by “go slow” legislators, and he graciously agreed.

The chief sponsor of that resolution is Rep. Marty Moylan, a Des Plaines Democrat. The referendum passed with 62 percent in Moylan’s district. In fact, about a thousand more people voted “yes” than voted for Moylan, who ran unopposed.

About 63 percent voted to legalize cannabis in the 38th House District, which is represented by freshman Rep. Debbie Meyers-Martin, an Olympia Fields Democrat. Meyers-Martin is a co-sponsor of Moylan’s resolution. (Six of her district’s 112 precincts are in Will County, so the Cook County referendum wasn’t held in her entire district.)

And almost 63 percent voted for the referendum in Rep. Bob Rita’s district. Rita, D-Blue Island, is a “go slow” co-sponsor, but he’s also a key legislator involved with expanding legalized gambling, which is somewhat ironic.

A deliberative legislative process is fine by me. But cannabis legalization needs to get done this year, and when the time comes to vote, these legislators and others should listen to the vast majority of their constituents and legalize it already.

Click here to read the rest before commenting, please.


Welcome to our new media overlords

Friday, Mar 29, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Robert Feder

With an infusion of new capital from prominent Chicago investors Michael Sacks and Rocky Wirtz, the Chicago Sun-Times is getting a change of control at the top — and what may be a new lease on life.

The deal announced today will shift control of the company from a consortium of organized labor groups to Sacks, Wirtz and Jorge Ramirez, who continues as board chairman. A majority of seats on the board will be held by the new entity, Sun-Times Investment Holdings LLC. The announcement did not disclose financial details.

Sacks is CEO of Grosvenor Capital Management and a longtime adviser and confidant to Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Wirtz is president of Wirtz Corp. and principal owner and chairman of the Chicago Blackhawks. Chicago magazine ranked Wirtz No. 7 and Sacks No. 10 on its most recent list of the 50 most powerful people in the city.

Ramirez, former president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, works for Sacks as a managing director of his GCM Grosvenor investment and advisory firm. […]

Sacks and Wirtz previously were among investors in Wrapports Holdings LLC, which sold the Sun-Times to the current ownership group in 2017.

* Sun-Times

Jorge Ramirez will continue as the company’s chairman of the board, but the newspaper said in a press release that no decision had been made by Ramirez on whether Sacks and Wirtz will join him on the board.

“We are pleased to welcome Michael Sacks and Rocky Wirtz,” Ramirez was quoted as saying in a press release. “It is nice to bring representatives of the business community into the ownership group as we strengthen Sun-Times Media and drive the business forward.”

The newspaper has been owned since summer 2017 by several organized labor groups and businesspeople brought together by businessman Edwin Eisendrath, a former alderman, and the Chicago Federation of Labor. Those entities and individuals, which succeeded in blocking an effort by the Chicago Tribune’s parent company to take over the Sun-Times, will continue to hold ownership in the company.

This is the third ownership change in two years.


McAuliffe introduces “JUSSIE Act”

Friday, Mar 29, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* As promised, Rep. Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago) has introduced a bill to take film tax credits away from any company that employs our new Public Enemy Number One Jussie Smullet. It’s entitled the Just Usage of State Subsidies In Entertainment Act

Amends the Film Production Services Tax Credit Act of 2008. Provides that, for accredited productions certified or renewed on or after the effective date of the amendatory Act, the applicant shall verify that no person hired on the applicant’s production has, prior to the date of the application or renewal: (i) been convicted of or pled guilty to a hate crime; (ii) been convicted of or pled guilty to disorderly conduct for falsifying a police report of a hate crime; or (iii) participated in a deferred prosecution program for disorderly conduct or for falsifying a police report of a hate crime. Makes conforming changes prohibiting the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity from issuing a tax credit certificate to a production that fails to verify that information. Effective immediately.


So far, Rep. McAuliffe has appeared on TMZ and CNN and been featured in a story by the Daily Mail, among other outlets.


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Friday, Mar 29, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Friday, Mar 29, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Follow along with ScribbleLive

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* Isabel’s afternoon briefing
* Beyond the horse race
* Cannabis baron ridicules equity programs: "We’re going to give these assets to felons and people that have two heads and all this kind of stuff"
* IEPA says it won't do anything about polluting refineries
* Pritzker stands behind his messaging, claims support for candidates
* A quick Illinois history lesson
* Vallas gets out in front of attacks
* Following the money
* A massive failure
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today's edition
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Open thread
* Isabel’s morning briefing
* Live coverage
* Laurence Msall
* Yesterday's stories

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