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Third vaping-related death in Illinois

Thursday, Oct 31, 2019

* Press release…

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reporting the death of a third Illinois resident who had recently vaped and been hospitalized with a severe lung injury. At this time, a total of 166 people in Illinois, ranging in age from 13 to 75 years old, with a median age of 22, have experienced lung injuries after using e-cigarettes or vaping. IDPH continues to work with local health departments to investigate another 42 possible cases in Illinois.

“The unfortunate death of a third Illinois resident underscores the seriousness of these lung injuries,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “New cases continue to be reported in Illinois and across the country. IDPH is urging Illinoisans not to vape or use e-cigarettes products, especially illicit THC based products, while we continue to investigate this outbreak.”
At this time, no single compound or ingredient used in e-cigarette, or vaping products has been identified as the cause of this outbreak. The latest national and state findings suggest products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), particularly those obtained off the street or from other informal sources (e.g. friends, family members, illicit dealers), are linked to most of the cases and play a major role in the outbreak. More than 80% of the cases in Illinois report recent use of THC-containing products, primarily obtaining them from informal sources. Additionally, almost half of the cases in Illinois have also used nicotine-based products.

Affected individuals have experienced respiratory symptoms including cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue. Many have also experienced gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. Some patients reported that their symptoms developed over a few days, while others have reported that their symptoms developed over several weeks.

To date, IDPH has received 46 preliminary laboratory results on vaping products and devices submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Almost half of the test results were positive for THC, and of those, approximately 40% had evidence of vitamin E acetate. The FDA continues to perform additional testing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) arrived in Illinois on August 20 to assist with the investigation. IDPH is also working with local health departments, other state health departments, and the FDA to investigate the names and types of e-cigarettes, vaping products, and devices, as well as where they were obtained.

At this time, health officials have not identified the cause or causes of the lung injuries with the only commonality among all cases being patients report the use of vaping products, including e-cigarettes. No one device, compound, or ingredient has emerged as the cause of these illnesses to date; and it may be that there is more than one cause of this lung injury.

Cases have been reported in 32 counties statewide. In order to protect the identity of the affected individuals, additional information is not being provided. The investigation is ongoing, and more information will be shared as soon as it becomes available.

People who experience any type of chest pain or difficulty breathing after using e-cigarettes or vaping should seek immediate medical attention. When seeking medical attention, be sure to tell the provider you have vaped in recent weeks or months. Health care providers caring for patients with unexpected serious respiratory illness should ask about a history of vaping or e-cigarette use. [Emphasis added.]

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


Lightfoot appears open to compromise on real estate transfer tax

Thursday, Oct 31, 2019

* Greg Hinz on a possible compromise on Mayor Lightfoot’s graduated real estate transfer tax

[Rep. Will Guzzardi’s] idea, first pitched at a Springfield press conference, is to look at New York, which has a much lower threshold for a relatively high rate, with any sale of more than $500,000 hit with a levy of 1.425 percent. That would provide both Lightfoot’s budget figure and a significant stream of new money to spur low-income housing, he said.

“It’s obvious (Lightfoot’s) bill isn’t going to pass as it is,” Guzzardi told me in a phone interview. “We can reach a deal with transfer tax that lives up to the mayor’s promise.”

Guzzardi said Lightfoot’s office has indicated it may be interested in a compromise—not necessarily his idea but different from what’s now being pitched. But raising the rate on lower-priced sales would work because it would provide more money for both sets of needs, he argued. “I’m optimistic we’ll find a way.” […]

“We’re open to having conversations,” said a mayoral spokeswoman. “We are not aware of his proposal nor have we reviewed it. But we certainly welcome the conversation.”

You’ll recall that 13 Chicago House Democrats, including Guzzardi, said this week they won’t vote for Mayor Lightfoot’s plan as-is because it doesn’t provide funds for homeless prevention and affordable housing. The mayor had pledged during the campaign to hold a referendum to pass a graduated real estate transfer tax and use the money for those two items.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


There’s the right response and then there’s this one

Thursday, Oct 31, 2019

* Greg Bishop at The Center Square

The revelation in the federal indictment of state Rep. Luis Arroyo that an unnamed state Senator had been wearing a wire and cooperating with federal investigators since 2016 elicited a mix of reactions from lawmakers in Springfield this week. […]

State Rep. Marty Moylan, D-Des Plaines, said the disclosure regarding a cooperating witness hasn’t changed the way he operates.

“Well I think you should always be cautious what you say to anybody, you know, and not do anything criminal,” Moylan said.

State Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez, D-Cicero, said the idea that one of her colleagues had been wearing a wire was disappointing.

“Because for those who try and work in such a way to build that trust among the public, the unfortunate actions of a few really impact all,” she said.

🤦

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


SEC now probing Exelon and ComEd lobbying

Thursday, Oct 31, 2019

* Steve Daniels at Crain’s

Add the Securities & Exchange Commission to the list of those wanting to learn more about Exelon and Commonwealth Edison’s lobbying.

Exelon disclosed that the agency notified the company on Oct. 22 of an investigation it had opened into Exelon and ComEd’s “lobbying activities,” according to the company’s quarterly filing today with the SEC. […]

Interestingly, the SEC probe may not be confined to lobbying in just Illinois, given that Exelon didn’t specify that in the latest disclosure. Exelon owns utilities in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., as well as ComEd in Chicago.

On the company’s quarterly earnings call today, Exelon CEO Chris Crane was asked specifically whether the investigations into Exelon and ComEd’s practices were confined to Illinois. He declined to answer that, saying the company wasn’t in a position to talk in any detail about the probes other than to say it’s cooperating with all of them.

Yeah, but keep threatening to shut down those nuke plants.

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      


CTU strike is over

Thursday, Oct 31, 2019

* More details as they are made available…


…Adding… National Association of Social Workers, Illinois Chapter…

We want to thank and congratulate the members of the Chicago Teachers Union on their historic gains achieved in today’s announcement. Contractural gains that will have a meaningful impact in Chicago schools. The contract includes (in writing) enforceable commitments for more school nurses, and more school social workers. It includes additional case managers and workforce development funds so social workers can do the work they were trained to do and the city can recruit a diverse pool of future clinicians.

This was a great win for Chicago, but the advocacy work isn’t done.

Even with the historic five year commitments on social workers, CPS will still be understaffed to effectively address the volume of trauma our kids face. We will keep advocating for new funds not only for CPS but the entire state until mental health services for schools in Illinois reach a safe level. We ask the State of Illinois and our federal legislators to find creative ways to tackle this issue head on, to help speed up the contractural timeline and expand services to schools throughout the state. Schools should not have to go on strike to fund elementary mental health. Illinois can do better, Illinois will do better.

…Adding… Crain’s has some contract dot points

“Enforceable” staffing: 209 additional social workers; 250 additional nursing positions, 180 additional case managers; 120 new counselors, restorative justice coordinators and librarians, and a social worker and case manager assigned to every school by the end of the contract in 2023.

Recruitment: $2.5 million to recruit and train clinicians, $2 million for nurse tuition and licensure, and a 50% tuition reimbursement for English language and bilingual endorsement programs.

Class sizes: A $35 million annual allocation to reduce oversized K-12 classrooms in “schools serving the most vulnerable students.”

Coaches: A $4 million investment in a Sports Committee to hike coaching stipends and buy new equipment.

Health care: No plan changes to health insurance benefits, a cut in co-pays for mental health and physical therapy services. Teachers can now bank sick days earned after July 1, 2012, from 40 to 244 days.

Looks like a pretty good deal.

- Posted by Rich Miller   104 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - Pritzker: Up yours *** Exelon threatens to shutter four nuke plants if it doesn’t get what it wants

Thursday, Oct 31, 2019

* Steve Daniels at Crain’s

The threat is explicit now.

Springfield will have to swallow hard and agree to legislation next spring to rescue Exelon’s financially ailing Illinois nuclear fleet despite the legal cloud enveloping the company, or the company will move to close plants. That was the message CEO Chris Crane delivered on a Halloween earnings call with analysts.

For good measure, he added a fourth plant to the three the company already has said are at risk of early closure.

Now in the crosshairs: Exelon’s LaSalle power station in addition to the previously identified Byron, Braidwood and Dresden plants. Two other Illinois nukes, Clinton and Quad Cities, already are benefiting from more than $200 million a year in ratepayer subsidies, enacted in the 2016 Future Energy Jobs Act.

Go read the rest. That company has the strongest sense of entitlement of any company in this state.

*** UPDATE *** From Gov. Pritzker’s communications director Emily Bittner…

If companies under a federal microscope believe it’s appropriate to make threats to get their way, they need to recalibrate their thinking and how they deal with this administration. The governor’s priority is to work with principled stakeholders on clean energy legislation that is above reproach.

…Adding… WBEZ

Reeling from a federal investigation into Commonwealth Edison’s lobbying practices, a top Exelon official on Thursday downplayed the impact of the corruption probe and any possible fallout on Wall Street.

“We’re not passing judgment on [whether there] is anything legal or illegal in some of our past practices with contract lobbyists or consultants,” Exelon CEO Chris Crane told analysts during the company’s quarterly earnings call Thursday morning. “I don’t expect [the investigation] will impede our business at all going forward.” […]

Referring to “a lot of speculation in news articles” about the investigation, Crane said Thursday, “There’s things out there that people are speculating on that — they’re guessing, to say that the best.”

It’s unclear what Crane was referring to, and he did not offer any details or clarification.

- Posted by Rich Miller   115 Comments      


Question of the day

Thursday, Oct 31, 2019

* Bernie

With questions of ethics swirling in and around the Statehouse, can anything get done?

It depends who you ask. And while both political parties can have ethical lapses, those caught in binds for the moment are Democrats — and their party-mates are more optimistic about being able to go on with business as usual than their GOP counterparts.

“I think that this is going to give people in the chamber pause to do anything of a significant nature,” said House GOP Leader JIM DURKIN of Western Springs. […]

But state Sen. ANDY MANAR, D-Bunker Hill, said, “It doesn’t have an impact on me.”

He noted that a bill he’s sponsoring to cap out-of-pocket costs for insulin has been pushed since May — and it passed out the Senate this week shortly after we spoke.

* Yesterday, Gov. Pritzker seemed to say that alleged corruption was impeding progress

You know we have challenges in the state of Illinois. I’m disgusted by all of what’s going on in this regard, and I also view it as they’re throwing obstacles in the way of us accomplishing pension consolidation and lowering taxes, property taxes and other things in the state.

* The Question: Will the federal probe impede legislative progress? Make sure to explain your answer.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


Today’s fun Illinois fact

Thursday, Oct 31, 2019

* Sweet…


- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


*** UPDATED x2 *** A miscommunication or is somebody not telling the truth?

Thursday, Oct 31, 2019

* We discussed this yesterday

In a possible attempt to help end the teachers strike, both Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan and Illinois Senate President John Cullerton on Wednesday showed their support for an elected school board — a priority of the Chicago Teachers Union.

The CTU had pushed for Mayor Lori Lightfoot to publicly back the bill as a condition of a new teachers contract. But Lightfoot had resisted the call, saying it had no place in a contract. After the show of support for the measure by the legislative leaders Wednesday, the union dropped the demand.

Madigan was the first to release a statement on the legislation, reminding the public that the House has made efforts to try to pass an elected school board and to give the CTU more bargaining power — another bill the union wanted Lightfoot to support. The speaker said he will “again give full consideration to these proposals in the upcoming spring session.” […]

“The Governor has long expressed his support for an elected school board and changes to the collective bargaining process. He looks forward to reviewing the specifics when these bills reach his desk.”

After some Democratic Senators issued a similar pledge yesterday to take up the bills next spring, the Senate President also committed to working with his members on these issues.

* The mayor was asked about the topic during a press conference last night

Reporter: [CTU Political and Legislative Director] Stacy Davis Gates has said that the CTU has been meeting with the governor, Senate President Cullerton and Madigan about an elected school board and changing the negotiations, their ability for collective bargaining rights, and that they are supportive. Have you been part of those conversations?

Mayor Lightfoot: I’ve had contact with all three of those individuals, the governor, the president and the speaker. That’s not my understanding.

…Adding… I mean, they all put out statements yesterday. It was an attempt to placate the CTU and help ease the path to the end of the strike. The mayor should’ve probably just taken the path.

*** UPDATE 1 *** Text from the governor’s comms director…

To clarify: The governor has not been meeting w the CTU.

*** UPDATE 2 *** I missed this thread until a few minutes ago about Lightfoot’s news conference…


- Posted by Rich Miller   68 Comments      


Judicial candidate slapped with emergency no-stalking order

Thursday, Oct 31, 2019

* McHenry County Blog

On October 25th, County Risk Manager Lisa Shamhart filed documents asking for an emergency “Stalking No Contact Order” against former McHenry County Clerk Mary McClellan, now a second time candidate for Circuit Court Judge.

The petition was signed by Associate Judge Jennifer Johnson with a hearing set for 9 AM on November 15th.

Shamhart says the following occurred, including fake blood on her daughter’s front door and a beheaded duck on the front porch. Shamhart notes, “Mary and her husband Ed Gil are well known bird hunters.”

* You may recall McClellan from last year

More than 116,000 McHenry County residents voted in Tuesday’s midterm election – but unofficial election results showed about 21 percent of them did not pick candidates in statewide races.

What a mess that was.

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      


Pramaggiore resigns from Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Thursday, Oct 31, 2019

* Wall Street Journal...

Anne Pramaggiore has resigned from her position as chairwoman of the board of directors overseeing the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the bank confirmed Wednesday.

The Chicago Fed said that Ms. Pramaggiore stepped down from her position on Oct. 25. The resignation wasn’t made public by the Chicago Fed until it was confirmed by a bank spokesperson in response to a question from The Wall Street Journal. The U.S. Federal Reserve referred questions about Ms. Pramaggiore to the Chicago Fed.

* Ray Long at the Tribune

The Exelon Utilities CEO who retired abruptly two weeks ago amid a wide-ranging federal investigation of lobbyist activities now has stepped down as chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Anne Pramaggiore’s latest move follows Exelon and ComEd receiving two federal grand jury subpoenas in the probe. A source with knowledge of the case has told the Tribune that Pramaggiore is one focus of the ongoing federal investigation.

Pramaggiore released a statement on Wednesday that did not address the federal investigation, saying the Chicago Fed is “well-positioned to execute on its important mission.” A Pramaggiore spokesman said her Oct. 25 departure was voluntary. Her term as chair was scheduled to end at year’s end.

Even so, she’s leaving as federal authorities are looking into two companies where she had been a top executive.

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      


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Thursday, Oct 31, 2019

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*** LIVE COVERAGE ***

Thursday, Oct 31, 2019

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PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Chairman Welch sends letters to potential witnesses, sets hearing date for September 29
* *** UPDATED x1 *** SUBSCRIBERS ONLY: Update to today's edition
* Today's must-read
* Rate the new Dani Brzozowski TV ad
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Governor's office flatly denies CBS 2 rumor about high school sports
* Illinois has 8th worst unemployment recovery year over year, 6th worst recovery since January, 9th highest unemployment rate
* 2,120 new cases, 20 additional deaths, 1,481 people hospitalizations, 3.6 percent positivity rate, 24 counties reach warning level, Will/Kankakee off mitigation
* Open thread
* House investigative committee coverage roundup
* Question of the day
* Hang in there, Maggie!
* Pritzker to sit down with stakeholders after uproar over cannabis lottery process
* Rep. Mason claims she received a "rather threatening note" on her car
* Federal judge rules against Cook County GOP lawsuit to block new vote by mail program
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today's edition and some campaign updates
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* *** LIVE COVERAGE ***
* Yesterday's stories

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