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Question of the day

Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Oops. Got busy and forgot to post one. I’m declaring a late-afternoon open thread. As always, keep it Illinois-centric and be nice.


Four new lawsuits filed over ethylene oxide emissions in northern Illinois

Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* These facilities don’t get nearly the same coverage as Sterigenics…

* More

The lawsuits were filed on behalf of named plaintiffs Chandra Sefton; Dawn Rex and her three-year-old son; Kathleen Koch; and Patty Bennett. All of the plaintiffs lived within a 3.5 mile radius of the Vantage and Medline plants, and all of them have been diagnosed with forms of cancer, including leukemia and breast cancer, according to the complaints.

The complaints lay the blame for the cancer on alleged emissions of ethylene oxide from the Medline and Vantage plants.

The use of ethylene oxide (EtO) is widespread in industry. Sterilization plants, like that operated by Medline, use EtO gas to sterilize large quantities of medical devices, such as surgical implants, stents, catheters and surgical kits and other health care tools.

The chemical is also regarded in industry as a key “building block” ingredient, used to make a wide variety of other products used extensively on a daily basis in the U.S. and around the world. These include antifreeze; brake fluid; carpeting; upholstery; recyclable plastic packaging; and products made from fiberglass, including bathtubs and bowling balls, among other uses. Derivatives of EtO are also used to make shampoo, cosmetics, ointments and pharmaceuticals.

* Meanwhile…


* Related…

* Air testing for ethylene oxide in Waukegan, Gurnee shows highest results in residential area near Medline


ISP reports some progress, but at this rate it’ll take another 25 years to clear the backlog

Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Tribune

Illinois State Police said more than 200 people who lost their gun licenses were brought into compliance with state law this summer, months after a gunman who had lost his license but kept his weapon opened fire in an Aurora warehouse and killed five employees.

Between May and July, state police working with local law enforcement agencies brought into compliance 256 people whose gun licenses had been revoked, requiring them to surrender their permits and complete paperwork accounting for their weapons, the agency said in a news release Wednesday. It highlighted a series of steps it has taken to boost enforcement of revoked Firearm Owner’s Identification cards, including designating officers to prioritize people who should be subject to further enforcement. […]

In a May investigation, the Chicago Tribune and The Beacon-News found nearly 27,000 Illinois residents over the past four years had failed to inform authorities what they did with their weapons after state police revoked their gun licenses.


*** UPDATED x1 *** And then there were two: Lipinski and Bustos

Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

Today, Congressman Bill Foster (D-IL) issued the following statement in support of the U.S. House of Representatives opening an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump:

“I take no pleasure in announcing my support for the House to begin an impeachment inquiry into the President of the United States.

“I have wrestled with this decision over the past several months as I’ve listened to my constituents and reviewed the evidence presented by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, including his direct testimony to Congress.

“On the Financial Services Committee, on which I serve, I have seen President Trump attempt to block legitimate Congressional investigations into the role of foreign money in transactions by the Trump Organization, Deutsche Bank, and others.

“I have watched with horror as President Trump has perpetrated an assault on American values. In word and deed, President Trump has demonstrated an utter disregard for the rule of law and the fundamental principles that make up the foundation of our democracy.

“The Mueller report details several occasions – at least ten – where President Trump took actions to obstruct the Special Counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in our 2016 elections.

“Our Constitution vests Congress with the unique obligation to perform oversight of the federal government, including of the President and his administration. Under our system of checks and balances, no person – not even the President – should be above the law or immune from facing the consequences of their actions.”

* Sun-Times

Foster is the 11th member of the Illinois congressional delegation to announce explicit support for an impeachment inquiry; the state sends 13 Democrats and five Republicans to the House.

The two other Illinois Democrats in the House, Reps. Cheri Bustos and Dan Lipinski, are following more closely the lead of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and have more cautious positions, with a bottom line for both that they back the Trump-related investigations being conducted by five committees, including the House Judiciary panel.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., is pursuing an investigation “into obstruction, corruption and abuse of power by Trump and his associates” in order to “determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment against the President.”

* Greg Hinz

That leaves Lipinski, who in a separate statement said he’s standing with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “We don’t need and should not have an official ‘impeachment inquiry’ vote in the House at this time, I have been and continue to be in support of the investigative work that is being done in the House committees.”

Added Lipinski, “Right now, I think the best way to remove President Trump from office is voting him out in the 2020 election. This may change as the work of House committees continue, but if the House impeached the president now, it could backfire because the president would be able to say that he was persecuted by the Democratic House but exonerated by the Senate.”

I’ve asked the Marie Newman campaign for comment.

*** UPDATE *** Marie Newman…

I believe there is ample justification for an impeachment inquiry and I think that voters in my district are looking for a leader who will, at all costs, defend and uphold the Constitution. It’s unfortunate to see Dan Lipinski standing apart from other Democrats while President Trump continues to abuse power and exhibit blatant disregard for the Constitution. An official impeachment inquiry will bolster ongoing investigations in the House and make it clear to President Trump and his administration that no one is above the law.

Also, here’s another Dem candidate, Abe Matthew…

Congress must open an impeachment inquiry based on the actions of President Trump, as set forth in the Mueller Report. It is precisely the role of Congress to act as fact-finder in determining what role the President Trump played in Russia’s 2016 interference in our elections and to what extent the President obstructed justice in the ensuing investigation.

Our democracy can multi-task. Congress can conduct hearings related to an impeachment inquiry while we the people work to put a Democrat back in the White House. The people elected their members of Congress on the assumption that those members would be able to handle the wide array of issues facing our nation. Regardless of an impeachment inquiry’s ultimate result, it is imperative that Congress fulfills it’s obligation to investigate and give the American people some finality to this dark chapter in our nation’s history.

Rush Darwish…

“It’s no surprise that Dan Lipinski stands apart from 11 Democratic colleagues from Illinois and refuses to support opening impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump. Dan Lipinski has stood firmly in support of components of Donald Trump’s racist and backward agenda when it comes to healthcare, women’s rights, and immigration. Leadership is about taking a stand with courage, doing the right thing - not playing it politically safe with an upcoming election. This silence from Lipinski is just another example of why we need to elect more bold, independent Democrats like who will fight Trump and not bow to party leadership on either side.”


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Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

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*** UPDATED x1 *** Churchill Downs points finger at horsemen in threat to close Arlington Racecourse

Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Las Vegas Advisor last month

JP Morgan‘s Daniel Politzer expects Churchill Downs to be a winner thrice over in Illinois: first, a lower tax rate on table games, starting in 2020; second, a potential 800 additional gaming positions at Rivers Casino Des Plaines (which will probably require physical expansion: it’s pretty packed in there); third, slots at Arlington Park, though Politzer thinks Churchill Downs may sell the latter now its real estate is more valuable, among several other options: “we could envision a scenario whereby CHDN would opt to sell its 336 acres of land at Arlington Park, utilize a 1031 exchange to limit tax leakage, and pursue an additional casino license in Illinois (potentially with Rush Street Gaming/Neil Bluhm; the Waukegan license seems most logical, in our view …).”

Since Arlington and Rivers are only 15 minutes apart, Churchill Downs might look askance at the obvious cannibalization. Arlington’s capacity will also be capped at 1,200 gaming positions, unlike Waukegan. Rivers can also absorb a nearby competitor, as its per-position numbers are out of sight, the most impressive I’ve ever seen in gaming: $800/win/slot/day and $7,300/win/table/day. Politzer estimates that the tax cut will translate into $45 million extra a year in cash flow, too. Churchill Downs bought 61% of Rivers at a well-above-average 11.25X cash flow, but one easily see why it was worth it. With the tax cut, that multiple goes down to 8.3X, closer to industry average. That number could go yet lower still if Rivers maxes out its gaming positions.

As for competition from the 4,000-position mega-casino in Chicago, “We acknowledge concern that a Chicago casino could be a negative for Rivers/Waukegan, but see potential for the political stars to once again align and the casino (if even feasible at the proposed 67% tax rate) being located on Chicago’s south side.”

* Crain’s last month

With the looming super-saturation of the Chicago-area casino business, one theory is that Churchill Downs will opt to focus on its Rivers Casino stake, a pure-play gambling option, and one that comes with Rivers co-founder and Chicago real estate magnate Neil Bluhm, whom Carstanjen, 51, has said he values for his local political savvy.

“Local political savvy.”

Just the other day, Churchill Downs and Neil Bluhm’s Rush Street Gaming, put in a bid to jointly operate Waukegan’s casino.

* Today in Crain’s

The owner of Arlington International Racecourse is threatening to close the storied horse track despite winning long-sought authority to add gambling options there.

Louisville-based Churchill Downs blames prohibitive tax rates that would penalize it relative to competing Chicago-area casinos, it said.

* The proximity to Bluhm’s Rivers Casino is clearly an issue, however. From the company’s press release

All options will be considered, including moving the racing license to another community in the Chicagoland area or elsewhere in the state.

* Churchill Downs’ CEO did complain about taxes in the press release, but that was about the new state-mandated payments to horsemen

Arlington would enter this market with an effective tax rate that would be approximately 17.5% - 20% higher than the existing Chicagoland casinos due to contributions to the Thoroughbred purse account.

* The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association was not amused…

We are stunned and profoundly disappointed by Churchill Downs’ decision not to pursue supplemental gaming at Arlington Park in order to do its part to grow jobs and economic opportunity for thousands of Illinois men and women both at the track and throughout the state’s agribusiness community.

For more than a decade, Arlington has lobbied Illinois governors and legislators for permission to offer casino-style games as a means to boost revenue at the track and generate funds to significantly improve the quality of horsemen’s purses. Indeed, Arlington in recent years elevated its lobbying push by insisting that the track be granted the authority to offer table games – in addition to slots – to ensure its racino would be economically feasible.

Yet now that it is finally poised to operate both slots and table games, as a direct result of the gaming law recently approved, Arlington’s parent Churchill Downs has, astoundingly, declined to apply for the license necessary to operate a racino. The company evidently plans to instead abandon its commitment to racing in Illinois and focus solely on its stake in the Rivers Casino and potentially other Illinois casinos not yet developed. Churchill has snubbed not only the working men and women of thoroughbred horse racing whose collective livelihood depends on live racing, but also all of the elected officials it has so intensely lobbied over the last decade.

As a consequence of its abrupt change in course to the detriment of this state and its taxpayers, Churchill immediately should be denied the enormous financial advantages it enjoys by virtue of its now-annulled commitment to Illinois racing. Those include Arlington’s considerable property tax break ($2.47 million this year), the track’s recapture subsidy ($4.47 million in 2019 alone, straight from horsemen’s purses), and the chance to apply for a sports betting license linked to Arlington (a form of gaming that will do nothing to benefit purses).

In clear contrast, Hawthorne Race Course has applied for its racino license and has, moreover, made clear its plan to maximize the benefit of that license for thoroughbred racing.

* More

CDI’s decision not to move ahead at Arlington triggers another portion of the new law relating to the number of “gaming positions” allowed at each racino.

The law states: “Each applicant for an organization gaming license shall specify in its application for licensure the number of gaming positions it will operate, up to the applicable limitation … Any unreserved gaming positions that are not specified shall be forfeited and retained by the [Illinois Gaming Board].”

The board then is required to “allocate expeditiously the unreserved gaming positions to requesting organization gaming licensees in a manner that maximizes revenue to the State.”

Churchill Downs wants to protect Rivers, but slots at Arlington would threaten Rivers. So, it complains about taxation, blames the horsemen and hints that it will move the track elsewhere. And Rivers could wind up with even more gaming positions in the process.

…Adding… The Mayor is correct

Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes said he interprets the announcement as a corporate decision about Churchill Downs’ unwillingness to compete with its gambling operations at River Casino in Des Plaines.

That company should probably be broken up.

*** UPDATE *** Emily Bittner in the governor’s office…

This represents a significant reversal from the years and years of race track owners seeking additional ways to generate revenue to keep their operations working. In fact, the gaming legislation provides several opportunities for significant additional revenues, including table games and slots. Just as importantly, the legislation allows the racing industry to flourish instead of facing more years of decline. Just to be clear: actions taken around gaming will be done to benefit the people of Illinois, not solely for the bottom line of individual operators.

My question was: Should the Illinois Gaming Board break up the Churchill Downs/Rivers partnership? Not exactly an answer.


*** UPDATED x1 *** Let’s get it together, please

Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Molly Parker

The law allows current medical cannabis dispensary operators to seek a license to sell recreational marijuana, so long as they continue to provide products for medical use. The idea in allowing the medical marijuana dispensaries the ability to also sell recreational marijuana was to ensure the state has at least a minimum number of facilities open and operating on Jan. 1.

But some medical dispensaries may need to change locations. That could mean moving down the block where parking is better, or to another city entirely, if the one where the operator is presently located decides to prohibit recreational sales.

The law allows municipalities the ability to opt out, as well as implement zoning requirements, much like with liquor stores. Yet the state’s regulatory agency recently informed medical dispensary operators that if they move locations, they forgo their ability to receive a license for adult use recreational sales.

This narrow interpretation of the law runs counter to lawmakers’ intent, according to a letter from two of the bill’s sponsors sent to Pritzker late last week. It also represents an about-face by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, which issues the licenses.

What the what?

* There are other worries

Advocates are concerned that the state has not yet set up a funding program meant to make it easier for those with marijuana-related arrests on their records to start businesses in the industry. The application process for 75 new dispensaries opens Oct. 1, and time is running out, they say.

The applications will be the first path into the industry for entrepreneurs who don’t already operate a marijuana facility, and those applicants could face stumbling blocks if there isn’t clarity on the promised financial aid.

“People are … working on their plans, they’re working on their locations, they’re working on what they can work on, but they don’t know how much money they have to spend,” said Edie Moore, executive director of Chicago NORML, a marijuana reform nonprofit that has been working with people preparing to apply for licenses.

The state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is charged with establishing the grant and loan program. Spokeswoman Charity Greene said it will issue details on the program, including loan and grant sizes, by the time the state begins accepting applications.

*** UPDATE *** From the governor’s office…

August 27, 2019
Senator Steans and Representative Cassidy:

Thank you for sharing your concerns about the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation’s implementation of certain provisions of the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act. Your dedication to this issue and leadership during the legislative session led to the most equity-centric law in the nation to legalize adult-use cannabis. Now through implementation, I am confident that we can build a safe, successful and equitable adult-use cannabis market.

The early access to market for existing medical dispensaries was intended to ensure that the State has a minimum number of facilities open and operating on January 1, 2020, and to allow the State to use funding from those early facilities to build a fund for social equity programs. Keeping equity in mind, however, the Act was also designed to balance this early growth for existing medical dispensaries with our commitment to bringing in new applicants through the social equity program.

With an understanding of the existing medical dispensaries’ current capacities, we struck that balance by providing the opportunity for existing medical dispensaries to open two adult use dispensaries before any new businesses can enter the market: one at their current medical dispensary and one at a different location. The language of the bill distinguishes between these two dispensaries. The statute specifically provides that the first is to be opened at “any medical cannabis dispensing location in operation on the effective date,” Section 15-15(a), and the second may be opened at “a secondary site…within any BLS region that shares territory with the dispensing organization district to which the medical cannabis dispensing organization is assigned,” Section 15-20(b).

This language allows for early expansion by the existing medical dispensaries but, importantly, seeks to ensure that they do not completely dominate the new market before new dispensaries can enter the market in July 2020. Any implementation of the early approval program by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation must maintain this balance between early growth and social equity that was written into the law.

I appreciate the concerns that you and the medical cannabis industry have raised regarding medical dispensaries in operation on the effective date located in municipalities that ultimately opt out of adult-use cannabis or that impose zoning restrictions that prevent adult-use sales at the current medical dispensary sites. Medical dispensaries in such a situation are still permitted early access to the new adult-use market by opening a secondary site under the Act while continuing to operate their existing medical dispensary. At this time, the Department does not know how many medical dispensaries will not have the opportunity to operate at their current sites as many municipalities are still considering how to proceed. The Department will continue to monitor the situation to assess and my office is more than willing to discuss potential solutions with you when we have a better understanding of the scope of the problem.

We value your input as we work through implementation of this historic legislation and we look forward to continuing this conversation about how to ensure success for all aspects of this new industry.

JB Pritzker

* And there’s this

Hope Smith said her 19-year-old daughter uses medical cannabis to alleviate a qualifying medical condition. She said her daughter was able to get more precise doses of the medicine by vaping or smoking it as opposed to other cannabis products.

After the governor signed the medical cannabis expansion measure making the pilot program permanent and adding conditions, Smith said she was told by her dispensary that the updated law no longer allows the sale of smokable products to adults younger than 21.

Smith said that needs to change for her daughter’s sake.

“The medical marijuana and dispensaries, and the diseases, for people that are able to buy it and are able to get the right medicine, I don’t want my child to turn to buying flower or vape on the street, I don’t want her to use an opioid,” Smith said. “Because those are unsafe.”

State Rep. Bob Morgan, D-Deerfield, sponsored the medical cannabis expansion measure the governor signed.

“There was a good intention behind [the change aligning with Tobacco 21] … but as with anything, there are unintended consequences with new legislation and I think this is a great example of the potential harm that can happen to individuals when you start to conflate different topics,” Morgan said.

* But check this out

Former Chicago Ald. Ameya Pawar wants to get into the cannabis business with a restaurant entrepreneur, a doctor and a political consultant. They’re angling for one of the 75 new licenses to operate a retail dispensary in Chicago once recreational use of marijuana becomes legal next year.

Pawar and his partners, including political consultant and fundraiser Hanah Jubeh, have come up with an over-the-top plan that combines elements of dining, spa and medicine with marijuana sales.

“We’re focused on total wellness,” says Pawar, a former 47th Ward alderman who briefly ran for governor in 2017 and then lost the city treasurer race in April. “It’s going to be a place where you could get a massage or take a yoga class, get a bite to eat and stop at the dispensary on your way out.”

* More

Additional partners to join Pawar and Weiner include:

    * Dr. George Chiampas, an emergency room doctor and medical director of the Chicago Marathon
    * Nikki Hayes, president of Laborers International Union of North America, Local 1001
    * Hanah Jubeh, a political consultant and fundraiser. […]

Pawar told Crain’s he plans to apply for social equity applicant status and aims to hire more than 50 percent of his staffers from areas affected by the war on drugs.


New laws

Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Almost exactly four years ago

It’s a time-honored tradition for Illinois governors to invite lawmakers, journalists and members of the public to ceremonial bill signings, an easy way for the chief executive to take credit for accomplishments and create a sense that he’s getting things done. Rauner has signed more than 400 bills into law since he took office in January. He has held zero public signing ceremonies.

Asked why that’s the case, Rauner spokesman Lance Trover did not directly answer the question but did say the “work of the General Assembly is not done.”

The governor’s allies in the General Assembly put a finer point on it: The stalemate has set up a situation where Rauner has tried to keep the focus on his agenda and the pressure on Democrats to pass it. Highlighting the achievements of others would detract from that effort.

“Bill signings are ceremonial, and they’re meant to be almost like victory laps,” said House Republican leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs. “I don’t see any reason why anybody would be celebrating what has happened in Springfield until we get a budget done.”

And that refusal to celebrate any victory - small or large - continued almost unabated for years. He refused to take a win on just about anything until he had to declare defeat last November.

* Capitol News Illinois today

Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday signed the final three bills of the 599 sent to him by the Illinois General Assembly during the spring legislative session.

Per the final tally, Pritzker signed 591 of the bills into law, while vetoing seven and sending one back to the General Assembly with an amendatory veto. The General Assembly will return in late October and early November to discuss new legislation and consider overriding any of the vetoes.

Among the final measures signed by the governor this week was the Home Energy Affordability and Transparency Act, which aims to provide greater regulation on alternative energy providers, many of whom go door to door locking customers into high energy rates.

Unlike Rauner, Pritzker has held numerous bill signing events. There have been exceptions, however. He didn’t have any sort of event when he signed Leader Durkin’s Sterigenics-related bill into law, for instance.

…Adding… Pritzker deputy press secretary…

* Related…

* CUB Statement On Gov. Pritzker Signing HEAT Act

* Public companies in Illinois will soon have to disclose racial, gender makeup of corporate boards

* IL bars and restaurants can now fill growlers and crowlers: A growler is a 64 ounce resealable jug, a crowler is a 32 ounce can that breweries use to serve to-go beer .


Lightfoot marks 100 days in office

Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Mayor Lightfoot’s press office…

* Creation of a multifaceted comprehensive crime-fighting strategy centered on unprecedented citywide coordination that has resulted in nearly 7,000 guns recovered year-to-date, a three-year low in murders, shooting incidents at their lowest count since 2015 and 20-year lows in robberies, burglaries and motor vehicle thefts.

* Directing a significant expansion of school staffing and resources, including an unprecedented equity-focused budget, commitment to increasing social worker, nurse and special education case manager positions, and one of the largest capital budgets in recent history with investments to upgrade classrooms and facilities at over 300 schools across the city in 2020.

* Passing the most comprehensive worker scheduling law in the nation that will finally give lower-wage workers and their families predictability in scheduling and fairer working conditions.

* Begun reforming an historically regressive fines and fees system in order to help people move into payment plans and compliance, instead of into bankruptcy.

* Overhauling the workers’ compensation program to improve benefits to workers and reduce liability and claims costs to the city.

* Achieving passage of a series of ethics and good governance reforms to ensure the City operates more efficiently, transparently and in a way that is accountable to all residents and taxpayers.

* Doubling down on protections for immigrant and refugee families by issuing an executive order to terminate ICE access to citywide databases and city facilities, increasing legal aid funding by $250,000, and uniting with community and business leaders to address fears in the wake of threats.

* Working with partners to secure authorization on a Chicago casino, and taking additional steps toward creating a long-term sustainable financial plan for the City.

* Creating the City’s first-ever Office of Racial Justice and Equity to oversee the development of policies and practices to advance racial and social equity for the City.

* Creating the City’s first Chief Risk Officer position, which will focus on launching an enterprise risk management system to reduce the cost of legal settlements to the City.

* Beginning steps toward a comprehensive redevelopment strategy to tackle years of disinvestment on the City’s South and West sides, including creating a coalition of over 40 business leaders to participate in a corridor reinvestment strategy.

* Launching a new and improved Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) which for the first time makes explicit collaboration with the Continuum of Care, resulting in a coordinated application process for addressing homelessness.

I’m not sure claiming credit for the guns confiscated since the beginning of the calendar year is accurate, but your thoughts otherwise?

* Related…

* Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot holds panel discussion to mark 100 days in office

* Quig: Lightfoot grades herself

* Tribune: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot 100 days in — reform at City Hall still a work in progress: ‘We haven’t declared victory, but I think we’ve taken some very positive steps’

* Greg Hinz: 100 days and counting: A hard look at how Lightfoot is doing

* Fran Spielman: Lori Lightfoot’s action-packed first 100 days

* CBS 2: Mayor Lightfoot Reflects On 100 Days In Office

* Critics give Lightfoot D grade as she nears 100 days in office


Pritzker seeks consultants on Thompson Center sale

Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Tuesday afternoon press release…

Governor JB Pritzker today announced a major step toward the sale of the James R. Thompson Center (JRTC). The Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS) will issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) this week for an array of technical and project management expertise for the disposition of the JRTC at the best value to the State of Illinois.

“The Thompson Center is an inefficient work environment for the current demands of State business,” Governor Pritzker said. “Today we are moving forward with the process of selling the facility and using the proceeds to help stabilize the pension system.”

Opened in 1985, the JRTC is a 17-story marble, granite, glass, and steel structure, encompassing approximately 1.2 million sq. ft. of enclosed area. The building’s steel frame is topped by a cylindrical skylight, 75 ft. above the roof level. The sky-lit rotunda is 160 ft. in diameter and is surrounded by 16 floors of open office space. The main building enclosure system is glazed with single-pane, non-thermally broken aluminum frames. The system is energy inefficient and does not meet current standards for performance or thermal comfort.

Because of prolonged deferred maintenance and delayed capital projects, the construction cost in 2016 was estimated to be over $300 million to bring the building into a good state of repair. The facility is also larger than necessary and costly to operate with annual operating expenses exceeding $17 million. By divesting of the oversized, outdated and expensive facility, the State can relocate its core services to appropriate replacement spaces. This strategic relocation effort will reduce operating costs and increase productivity.

“Issuing this RFP moves the State a step closer to selling the property,” CMS Acting Director Janel Forde said. “The property is inefficient and expensive to operate. The State can achieve significant cost savings by relocating to more optimized space.”

The RFP for Technical and Project Management Expertise will be issued this week; responses are due at 1:00 P.M. Central Time on October 4, 2019. A copy of the RFP will be available on the General Services Illinois Procurement Bulletin, also referred to as the Bulletin or BidBuy ( The Offeror’s conference meeting and networking event will be held at the JRTC in Chicago and at the Stratton Office Building in Springfield at 1:00 P.M. Central Time on September 13, 2019.

In April, the Governor signed Senate Bill 886 into law that dictates the process for the sale of the property.

The move is the latest by the Pritzker administration to ensure the State’s pensions are sustainably funded. In February, the Governor established the Pension Asset Value and Transfer Task Force and the Pension Consolidation Task Force. Both task forces will provide recommendations and help finalize a long-term pension reform plan. In April, Illinois received significantly stronger than expected revenues that allowed the State to meet the current funding commitment to the pension systems without extending the ramp.

* CBS 2

Former Gov. Bruce Rauner announced in 2015 that he planned to ask state lawmakers to ask him to unload the Thompson Center. At the time, Rauner said the building needed $100 million in maintenance in the few years to come, and said selling the building and moving state workers elsewhere could save the state between $6 million and $12 million annually.

Then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel blocked efforts to go ahead with the sale, insisting that the city must not be held financially responsible for rebuilding the Chicago Transit Authority Clark/Lake Blue Line subway station inside the building as part of any major redevelopment of the site.

In 2017, Rauner offered to dedicate all future property tax revenue from a Thompson Center sale to help fund the Chicago Public Schools – a proposal that Emanuel dismissed as a political stunt. Afterward, Emanuel said he would help rezone the Thompson Center property in exchange for a city pension deal. Rauner refused the offer.

* Tribune

If the building is sold, state employees will be moved across LaSalle Street to the Michael A. Bilandic Building and to other state-owned or -rented offices, according to the governor’s office. […]

Pritzker spokeswoman Emily Bittner said the governor’s office has “had a number of productive conversations with the city about the transaction, including zoning.”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office confirmed in a statement that the governor’s office had been in touch.



Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

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* Secretary of State has plans to install cameras and call boxes in Stratton parking garage
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