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Friday, Jul 31, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Nathaniel Rateliff covers an old Link Wray song

I hear talking of people
The whole world has gone insane
And all there is left is the fallin’ rain

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IDPH admits some testing problems at several state sites

Friday, Jul 31, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is responding to a test processing delay involving tests conducted at certain state-run sites and sent to Reditus Labs. Processing of up to 3,800 tests conducted at state community-based or mobile testing sites for COVID-19 testing between July 12-24, 2020 have been delayed beyond the appropriate laboratory testing and reporting window.

Community-based and mobile testing that may have been impacted include sites in Aurora, Bloomington, East St. Louis, Peoria, Rockford, Rolling Meadows, and South Holland. While the vast majority of the more than 450,000 tests done at these state sites and sites across Illinois during the July 12-24 time period have already received their results, IDPH recommends individuals who have not yet received their results visit a free state-run testing location to have another specimen collected.

IDPH is working closely with Reditus Labs to improve their interface with specimen collection at state-run sites and ensure the processing of specimens moves forward in a timely manner. Specimens collected after July 24, 2020 are being processed and individuals will be promptly notified of their results.

IDPH is committed to increasing COVID-19 testing across Illinois and in continuously working to improve and streamline the process at community-based and mobile testing sites.

OK, but July 12th was almost three weeks ago.


Pritzker’s most recent demand of Madigan: Answer the questions

Friday, Jul 31, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Gov. Pritzker yesterday in Ottawa…

Question: If the Speaker called you today, would you say stay or go?

Pritzker: Well I’ve been very clear about my position about this. I mean I think the speaker has an enormous amount to answer for. There are questions that the public needs to hear the answer to. I do, too. And so that’s what I would start with, questions about exactly what happened here. And what are these allegations that are being made that are somewhat vague, frankly, I mean there’s more information you would need but in that deal, the deferred prosecution agreement, the DPA, for ComEd, there is obviously reference to the speaker and and to people around the speaker. I want to know those connections. I want to understand what it is the speaker was doing. He needs to answer these questions. I think many many of us have called for that.

Please pardon any transcription errors that I didn’t catch.

* Gov. Pritzker on the Skullduggery podcast

Q: Governor, I want to switch gears a little bit. Illinois has a long and storied history of corruption in its politics. I know you would hope that that was a thing of the past, but the Speaker of the Illinois House, and the Chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party, Michael Madigan, was recently implicated in a pay to play scandal involving ComEd. A growing number of Democratic lawmakers are calling on Madigan to resign. One the other day, state Sen. Heather Steans said he needs to quit now over what she called, quote, a sordid picture of bribery influence peddling and insider dealing. Now you have not called on Madigan to resign. You said only if the allegations are proven to be true or if he is indicted or convicted. Is that really the only standard for participating in public life in Illinois, either you’re convicted or it’s okay to serve?

Pritzker: That’s not the standard that I set. I did say that the speaker would need to resign if the allegations are true. And I have we have, unfortunately, as you know, had other corrupt politicians who have been indicted over the last year and a half and the same standard here that, you know, when their offices get raided when they’re indicted, you know, when the facts come forward, that are directed at them. That is when it is time for people in important positions to either resign their position within the legislature or resign the legislature all together. And in either of those, you know, any circumstance of these allegations being shown to be true. As I’ve said with the other legislators, you know, when there is a preponderance of this kind of activity, you know, raids of their offices, etc. That is when people need to be resigning. Look, there is a growing belief that the speaker has a lot to answer for. There is an awful there are an awful lot of questions that he needs to answer and I have called for him to answer those questions. But thus far we have not heard from him.

Q: Right. I mean, but look, he has been identified in a federal indictment as Public Official Number One, the facts have been are laid out in that indictment of all sorts of payments going to friends and associates of his in exchange for favorable legislation for ComEd. What more do you need to know at this point to say, yes, Michael Madigan has to go?

Pritzker: Well, that’s what I’m saying is, those are serious allegations. Well, let’s start with the fact that this massive utility has committed massive infractions, right? They’ve been found guilty, essentially. And in the process of that, all kinds of things are coming to light. And we need answers to those questions because there hasn’t been any direct indictment. There’s an implication absolutely about a number of people in there. We need to know much, much more. But the truth is that we have a real problem here. There is no doubt about it a need for ethics legislation in our state that we have not seen before. I have called for major changes in the law. For example, we need to stop this the idea that a legislator can quit one day and become a lobbyist/consultant the next day. That kind of revolving door has existed in Illinois. It’s got to go and legislators can no longer while they’re legislators be lobbyists at other levels of government. Those are two examples of loopholes that exist in this State of Illinois that don’t exist elsewhere that we need to close.

And then we need to see exactly what it is that ComEd did that we don’t have a law that covers, and then make sure that we’re closing those loopholes. And that I think is going to be revealed in the process of the conviction of ComEd and the revelations around the people who are written about in the ComEd indictment.

* Gov. Pritzker today in Chicago on Speaker Madigan…

He continues to have unanswered questions hanging out there. He needs to stand up and answer those questions.

I’ve said this from the very beginning, I believe that people who serve the public interest, people who get elected to public office have a duty to be transparent, and to live up to the integrity that’s demanded by the public for their public service. He needs to stand up and answer these questions because people have serious questions about those things.

* The ILGOP sent out a release today responding to his Ottawa remarks…

In case you missed it, WCIA’s Mark Maxwell posted this video of Governor J.B. Pritzker dodging and weaving questions yesterday in Ottawa about whether House Speaker Michael Madigan should resign.

Pritzker now downplays the evidence presented in filings from the U.S. Attorney as “somewhat vague.” He says that he would like to ask Madigan some questions and that the people of Illinois deserve to hear from Madigan. But Pritzker refused to join the growing number of Democrats calling for Madigan to resign.

Here are the new questions Pritzker just raised:

    1. What allegations against Madigan does Pritzker find vague? What connections does he not see? Newspapers have reported extensively on the allegations in question.
    2. If Pritzker wants to ask Madigan questions, has he called him in the last week? If yes, what did they discuss? If not, why not?
    3. Does Pritzker believe that Madigan would ever admit guilt under questioning – should the standard of whether Madigan needs to resign be Madigan’s own word?]
    4. Pritzker knows that Madigan is not holding press conferences and that he won’t be answering questions publicly. So isn’t it a cop-out to say he wants to hear Madigan address questions before he would call on him to resign? Does that mean Pritzker will never call on Madigan to resign?
    5. Why is it so hard for Pritzker to join other Democrats in calling for Madigan to resign – what is Pritzker so afraid of?


Asked and answered

Friday, Jul 31, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

Today, U.S. Representatives Darin LaHood (IL-18), John Shimkus (IL-15), Adam Kinzinger (IL-16), Rodney Davis (IL-13), and Mike Bost (IL-12) renewed their demand for greater transparency of Illinois’ use of federal assistance. The delegation criticized Governor J.B. Pritzker for failing to fully utilize funding already allocated by Congress in multiple COVID-19 relief packages and refusing to disclose information about how smaller, rural municipalities can receive funding as Congress intended.

The U.S. Treasury Department Inspector General published data this week showing how much each state was given from the federal government and how much each state has spent as of June 30th. According to the report, the State of Illinois received $3,518,945,366 and spent only $505,085,663 or 14.4% of the federal COVID-19 relief funding allocated by Congress as of June 30th.

In May, Illinois Republicans sent a letter to Governor Pritzker requesting information about the process for smaller units of local government to obtain federal funding sent to the state and how much funding was sent to smaller units of local government. No information was provided in response to that letter.

“We continue to hear from local leaders in our districts who are struggling because of COVID-19 and Governor Pritzker’s stay-at-home orders. The lack of transparency regarding the federal funding sent to Illinois to support our communities through this pandemic is unacceptable. While Governor Pritzker continues to criticize the federal government and call for additional federal support, he must immediately provide information to the public about how the federal tax payer money he is withholding will be disbursed and a process for how smaller units of government can get access to the funding,” said Republican members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation.

I checked with the governor’s office about this topic because Crain’s had a story on it this week. They pointed out the obvious: June 30th is the end of the fiscal year. And very little could be spent until the GA passed an FY21 budget (which didn’t begin until July 1) . You can look at where the money is supposed to go by clicking here.

* From the Jordan Abudayyeh at the governor’s office…

Instead of baseless political attacks over information that is readily available online, congressional Republicans should focus on getting members of their party to support a comprehensive federal funding package for states and local governments that are providing vital services working families rely on.

All of Illinois’ share of CARES Act funding has been allocated by the General Assembly with the remainder to be spent through appropriations that recently passed during the spring session. In order to fully expend the funds, the General Assembly had to pass appropriations and create grant programs that will enable the state to spend the funds during FY21, which started July 1. A majority of the funding is allocated to FY21 programs that support critical needs such as contact tracing and testing, healthcare providers, economic development and local governments across the state.


1,941 new cases, 21 additional deaths, 3.9 percent positivity rate - 11 counties at warning level

Friday, Jul 31, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced 1,941 new confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 21 additional confirmed deaths.

    Cook County: 1 female 40s, 1 male 50s, 3 females 60s, 1 female 70s, 2 males 70s, 1 female 80s, 2 males 80s, 3 males 90s
    DeKalb County: 1 female 80s
    DuPage County: 1 male 70s
    Kane County: 1 male 40s, 1 female 70s
    Kendall County: 1 female 50s
    St. Clair County: 1 female 80s
    Will County: 1 female 90s

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 178,837 cases, including 7,495 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 49,782 specimens for a total of 2,699,568. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from July 24 –July 30 is 3.9%. As of last night, 1,369 people in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 346 patients were in the ICU and 148 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, IDPH is now reporting both confirmed and probable cases and deaths on its website. Reporting probable cases will help show the potential burden of COVID-19 illness and efficacy of population-based non-pharmaceutical interventions. IDPH will update these data once a week.

* Press release…

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today reported 11 counties in Illinois are considered to be at a warning level for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). A county enters a warning level when it experiences an increase in two or more COVID-19 risk indicators from the state’s COVID-19 Resurgence Mitigation plan.

Eleven counties are currently at a warning level – Cass, Gallatin, Jackson, Jo Daviess, Johnson, Perry, Randolph, Saline, Sangamon, St. Clair, and White.

These counties saw outbreaks associated with business operations and activities posing higher risk for disease spread, including school graduation ceremonies, a rise in cases among late teens and 20s, parties and social gatherings, people going to bars, long-term care outbreaks, clusters of cases associated with restaurants and churches, and big sports events including soccer, golf, and softball tournaments. Residents of many communities are not wearing face coverings that have been proven to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Public health officials are finding that most contacts to cases are testing positive as well.

Several counties are taking swift action and implementing mitigation measures to help slow the spread of the virus. Examples include the mayor of Springfield requiring bar employees to wear masks or be subject to fines, Perry County hospitals and nursing homes temporarily suspending visitors, and the state’s attorney in Jackson County allowing the local food ordinance to be used to enforce COVID-19 guidance at restaurants and bars.

IDPH uses numerous indicators when determining if a county is experiencing stable COVID-19 activity, or if there are warning signs of increased COVID-19 risk in the county.

    New cases per 100,000 people. If there are more than 50 new cases per 100,000 people in the county, this triggers a warning.
    Number of deaths. This metric indicates a warning when the weekly number of deaths increases more than 20% for two consecutive weeks.
    Weekly test positivity. This metric indicates a warning when the 7-day test positivity rate rises above 8%.
    ICU availability. If there are fewer than 20% of intensive care units available in the region, this triggers a warning.
    Weekly emergency department visits. This metric indicates a warning when the weekly percent of COVID-19-like-illness emergency department visits increase by more than 20% for two consecutive weeks.
    Weekly hospital admissions. A warning is triggered when the weekly number of hospital admissions for COVID-19-like-illness increases by more than 20% for two consecutive weeks.
    Tests perform. This metric is used to provide context and indicate if more testing is needed in the county.
    Clusters. This metric looks at the percent of COVID-19 cases associated with clusters or outbreaks and is used to understand large increase in cases.

These metrics are intended to be used for local level awareness to help local leaders, businesses, local health departments, and the public make informed decisions about personal and family gatherings, as well as what activities they choose to do. The metrics are updated weekly, with data from the Sunday-Saturday of the prior week.

A map and information of each county’s status can be found on the IDPH website at


Question of the day

Friday, Jul 31, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Seeing reports online about a Cardinals game being postponed because of an outbreak. What are your thoughts on the rest of the season?


Pritzker sounds the warning in Peoria, La Salle counties

Friday, Jul 31, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Sun-Times

Speaking in downstate Peoria, an area Pritzker has put on his warning list, the governor suggested residents are at a crossroads.

“We’re at a danger point everybody. Pay attention,” he said. “Now is the moment to wear your mask properly.” […]

“Much of the increase in cases has been tied to the 29 and under population, large social gatherings and household spread from family member to family member,” Pritzker said in a Facebook post. […]

If a region surpasses certain thresholds — metrics include percentage of people testing positive, hospital capacity, and rising hospital admissions — then officials can choose to tighten restrictions from a “menu” of options outlined in the new tiered-system.

* More from Peoria

Peoria County has determined, with the help of contact tracing, that cases are rising mainly because people under 30 have not been wearing masks and practicing social distancing, said Monica Hendrickson, administrator of the Peoria City/County Health Department, during a news conference last week when a health advisory was issued. Hendrickson relayed more alarming statistics during Thursday’s news conference.

“Our data shows that our positivity rate has doubled in the past two weeks, that our seven-day average, in terms of cases each day, has climbed 14 cases in one week, where we average 33 new cases each day in Peoria County, as well as our ICU and medsurge capacity is on the incline,” she said.

Peoria County’s positivity rate, at 4.3%, is higher than the state’s 3.8% seven-day rolling average.

Mayor Jim Ardis spoke about the detrimental impact more shutdowns would have on Peoria businesses.

“Taking a step back right now is very likely to be the end of a lot of our small businesses; they can’t take it,” he said.

Ardis is exactly right.

* Rep. Ryan Spain (R-Peoria) hit all the right notes

“This is not a time for Democrats and Republicans to do battle against each other on the topic of public health. We need to take this very seriously,” he said. “Our economic recovery is at stake, the reopening of our schools is at stake, the education of our children is at stake. We need compliance, we need your help. Everyone who is listening, Republicans, Democrats, independents, old people, young people, the millennials — I’m a millennial myself — we are not invincible. We need to take this message very seriously, and everybody needs to do their part to work together as a community. Work to beat this very serious public health challenge.”

Good on him.

* Pritzker also traveled to La Salle County

“La Salle County has seen an uptick in the number of cases since moving into Phase 4, and especially since early July. Cases in the county have more than doubled since that time. La Salle County is experiencing community spread of the virus. Community spread of the virus means some people are testing positive and are not able to pinpoint when or where they are becoming infected, which is happening all over the county, not one particular area or town,” [La Salle County Health Department administrator Julie Kerestes] said.

“In addition, our highest number of cases continue to be those who are 29 years and younger.”

The COVID-19 numbers are going in the wrong direction, La Salle County Board Chairman Jim Olson said. He said he was “urging” all La Salle County residents to follow procedures set in place by the IDPH and LCDH.

“It’s clear to see that the states that ignored the recommendations from the scientists and opened up early are paying the price now,” Ottawa Mayor Dan Aussem said, adding he doesn’t want to see the same happen here.

He admitted it is uncomfortable to wear the mask, but “at the end of the day, it’s a pretty simple task to do.” He said if you don’t feel comfortable wearing a mask, order curbside or delivery or stay home.

* NBC 5

In Peoria County, increases were traced to people under the age of 29, large Fourth of July parties and people traveling to Florida, Iowa, Texas and Wisconsin.

In LaSalle County, large family and social gatherings, increases in younger populations and young people visiting bars and attending large social events without masks were blamed.


Rep. Pizer calls on Madigan to resign his leadership roles, ties reasoning to Fair Tax

Friday, Jul 31, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Appointed Rep. Pizer lost his primary, so he won’t be around a whole lot longer. Even so, more drip, drip, drip..

State Representative Jonathan “Yoni” Pizer (D-12) joins fellow House members in calling for Speaker Michael J. Madigan to resign from his leadership roles as Speaker of the House in the Illinois General Assembly and as Illinois Democratic Party Chairman.

“We’re at a critical time in the history of our community, state, and nation. Over the past few months the importance of strong, honest, and ethical leadership has been made abundantly clear, and adherence to these values has been at the center of my life, campaign, and service in the legislature. Our state is reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, grappling with our history of racism and social injustice, and hurting from the economic downturn” said Pizer. “But, we still have an ambitious agenda ahead. We must ensure the passage of the Fair Tax and the Clean Energy Jobs Act, repeal the Parental Notification Act, prevent Illinois from becoming a right-to-work state, and effectively confront police brutality, racial injustice, and institutional discrimination.”

“The recent allegations of wrongdoing that have come to light amid the ComEd investigation are deeply disturbing” said Pizer. “With these allegations and previous ones relating to harassment, corruption and mismanagement, I am troubled by the Speaker’s failure to live up to the high ethical standards that the people of Illinois rightfully deserve from their political leaders. This is a clear violation of the public trust, and Illinois citizens should have full confidence in their elected officials. This is why I am joining other leaders of reform in our party who are now calling on Speaker Madigan to resign immediately as both the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives and Chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois.”

“Although I deeply believe in the bedrock Constitutional presumption of innocence, this is not a court of law, and we cannot wait for the courts to adjudicate and administer their verdict. As legislators, we don’t have to hold the Speaker to a criminal standard of proof or observe rules of evidence in order to demand a change in leadership. There is simply too much at stake in this historical moment, and we cannot tolerate any unnecessary distraction from the important work at hand. Our state’s leadership and the Democratic Party must be committed to zero-tolerance for wrongdoing and corruption - or even the appearance of it” said Pizer.

Pizer concluded, “I urge my fellow members of the Illinois General Assembly to join me in calling for Speaker Madigan’s resignation. This is a principled position which should be met without threats of political retribution from House leaders or staff. With the Speaker’s resignation, I believe we can focus on the critical issues that matter most to our state and our nation.”


All but three regulated utilities agree to extend disconnection moratorium

Friday, Jul 31, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

The Illinois Commerce Commission is pleased to announce that several of the state’s large and small regulated electric, natural gas, water and sewer utilities have voluntarily agreed to keep residential customers connected for an additional month due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns. The moratorium on disconnections expired on July 26, 2020, however, with the voluntary extension, disconnections for residential customers will not occur for most customers until September 2020. Several utilities have also extended similar relief to business customers and have agreed to continue waiving late fees.

Ameren Illinois, Aqua Illinois, Consumer Gas, ComEd, Illinois American Water, Liberty, Nicor, Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas, Utility Services of Illinois are among the utilities with extended moratoriums on service disconnections.

“No one should have to fear losing life-saving utility service during a pandemic. The Commission appreciates the companies’ recognition of the continuing public health emergency and their voluntary efforts to provide much needed additional relief to affected customers,” said ICC Executive Director Christy George.

On June 18, 2020, the Commission approved the landmark COVID-19 utility relief agreements in Docket No. 20-0309, which were the product of negotiations between thirteen utility companies and numerous consumer advocacy groups and parties. In addition to extending the moratorium on disconnections and late payment fees, the agreements provided historic consumer protections involving utility credit and collection practices, deferred payment agreements, and temporary waivers of reconnection fees and new deposit requirements.

I followed up with the ICC and was told three utilities have not yet agreed to the disconnection moratorium extension. MidAmerican Energy is the largest, with about 85,000 Illinois customers. Illinois Gas has about 9,000 customers and Mt. Carmel (which is both electric and gas) serves just over 5,000 customers here.


What’s the holdup, HFS?

Friday, Jul 31, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* There is big money at stake here…

State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, is calling on the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) to release contracting data from state Medicaid providers on their use of Black-owned businesses for professional services.

“Black-owned businesses that provide professional services deserve a fair chance to compete for contracts and provide services to the companies and organizations that insure most Illinoisans,” Welch said. “That’s why I’m calling for the release of data from the Illinois Medicaid program on whether its providers are acting in an equitable and inclusive manner in their businesses.”

Welch sent a letter to HFS director Theresa Eagleson calling for the department to release data from state Medicaid providers on their use of Black-owned businesses for professional services. HFS oversees the Illinois Medicaid program and serves as the largest insurer in the state according to the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA), a bicameral, nonpartisan research unit of the General Assembly. HFS primarily operates Medicaid in Illinois through managed care organizations (MCOs), which provide patients access to networks of medical professionals and health services. Welch is seeking data on the MCOs to ensure that they are inclusive and equitable in their use of Black-owned businesses for professional services.

“Economic justice and racial justice are two sides of the same coin and it is critical that Illinois and all of its partners in providing public services are focused on ensuring racial and economic justice for African Americans and Black-owned businesses,” Welch said. “The largest health insurance program in our state should and the providers that serve that program must have a commitment to equity and inclusivity in contracting.”

I FOIA’d the agency about this topic, but I didn’t get what I needed. That’s mainly my fault for the way I phrased the request. I’ll be trying again soon, but I really shouldn’t have to even file a FOIA and Rep. Welch has been trying to get at this same info for weeks and weeks. It was promised to him and that promise was never fulfilled.

This is totally inexcusable. Stop stonewalling, already.


Putting Rep. Ford into context

Friday, Jul 31, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From the Sun-Times’ Madigan story

“He just wanted to know if I was with him,” said West Side state Rep. La Shawn Ford. “And the point I made to him is that ‘If you say you’re innocent, then I’m with you.’”

* People who’ve been around a while will likely understand where Rep. Ford is coming from. Here’s a story from 2014

The odds were undoubtedly stacked against state Rep. LaShawn Ford when federal prosecutors indicted him on felony bank fraud charges more than a year and a half ago.

The already sky-high conviction rate at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse rises to near 100 percent in recent years when it comes to public figures. The cases that are brought against elected officials are typically buttoned down tight, experts say. Little is left to chance.

But in a highly unusual move Monday, prosecutors agreed to drop all 17 felony charges against Ford in exchange for his guilty plea to a single misdemeanor tax count. […]

In pleading guilty to the misdemeanor, Ford admitted that in his 2007 tax return he over-reported what he spent to rehab a single-family house in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, reducing his capital gain from the sale of the home. The deception cost the Internal Revenue Service a tax loss of $3,782, according to the plea deal. […]

Meanwhile, a lawsuit filed last year by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. blamed the failure of the politically connected bank — known for lending in blighted neighborhoods — on poor risk management by its directors and officers. Although the collapse cost the FDIC more than half a billion dollars, none of the bank’s upper echelon of executives or directors was sued.

That misdemeanor was for a return he filed seven years earlier.


Open thread

Friday, Jul 31, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Keep it local and keep it polite, please. Thanks.


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