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Reader comments closed for the weekend

Friday, Oct 30, 2020

* While there may be weekend updates, comments are gonna stay closed until Monday. Have a good one

So we must go out and dance around

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Central Illinois federal court suspends all civil and criminal jury trials, public gatherings due to COVID-19 public emergency

Friday, Oct 30, 2020

* From the Central District of Illinois 7th

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE CENTRAL DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS SEVENTH AMENDED GENERAL ORDER 20-01
October 30, 2020
IN RE: COVID-19 PUBLIC EMERGENCY

WHEREAS the Governor of the State of Illinois has declared a public health emergency in response to the spread of COVID-19 and has subsequently placed further restrictions on some regions within the Central District of Illinois; further, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health authorities have advised public and private entities to take precautions to reduce the spread of the virus and set forth measures to avoid exposure. The United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois recognizes the need to take measures to effectuate these goals, while also continuing to fulfill its mission and keep both its civil and criminal court functions operating.

NOW THEREFORE, to protect the public health, reduce the size of public gatherings, and reduce any non-essential travel, the Court hereby enters this Seventh Amended General Order 20-01 to amend the directives issued in the Sixth Amended General Order 20-01 (entered on August 14, 2020), effective immediately and until January 25, 2021, or further Order of the Court as follows:

    Suspension of Jury Trials
    To limit the numbers of persons whose presence is required in the federal courthouses in Peoria, Springfield, Urbana and court operations in the Rock Island Division, temporarily relocated to Davenport, Iowa, all civil and criminal jury trials are suspended effective immediately and shall be rescheduled by the presiding judge to a date after January 25, 2021. The presiding judge in cases affected by this order shall enter any appropriate orders, including findings under the Speedy Trial Act, on the docket of the individual cases. The Court finds that the time period of any continuance entered from the date of this Order through January 25, 2021, as a result of this Order, shall be excluded under the Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(A), as the Court finds that the ends of justice are served by taking that action outweigh the interests of the parties and the public in a speedy trial, given the need to protect the health and safety of defendants, defense counsel, prosecutors, court staff, and the public by reducing the number of persons whose presence is required for such in-person hearings.

    Suspension of Public Gatherings
    All public gatherings, including Naturalization Ceremonies, at the federal courthouses in Peoria, Springfield and Urbana shall be suspended during the effective period of this Order, unless specifically authorized by the Chief Judge.

All other provisions of the Sixth Amended General Order 20-01 remain in effect.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - A couple quick things

Friday, Oct 30, 2020

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Get. Off. Facebook.

Friday, Oct 30, 2020

* My mom sent me this Facebook post that she spotted earlier today…

* I sent the link to the Illinois State Board of Elections and this was their response…

[Name redacted] was sent a ballot via email on Sept 16th. We’ve contacted the Rock Island County Clerk and National Guard to make sure this is resolved.

Matt Dietrich

Public Information Officer

Illinois State Board of Elections

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      


Sun-Times Editorial Board: Save The Solar Industry In Veto Session

Friday, Oct 30, 2020

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

“Among all the states, Illinois jumped to the head of the pack when it comes to the environment in 2016 with its Future Energy Jobs Act, a law creating a welcoming market for installing solar energy. But because of delays in acting on a successor law to provide new funding, the solar energy industry is leaving the state in what is being called a falling off of the “solar cliff.”

Illinois is estimated to have lost close to 3,500 solar jobs already, and 1,000 more jobs could be gone by the end of the year…

Illinois has worked hard to become a leader in green energy, attracting jobs in the industry and improving the environment. The state has become an important home to businesses installing solar energy and making use of “community development” projects, in which property owners without good access to sunlight can share projects with other property owners.

Why let that industrial advantage slip away?”

Chicago Sun Times, 10/23/20 - Legislature should look at cleaner energy, criminal justice reform and pot laws in veto session

Learn more at https://www.pathto100.net/ Solar power is an affordable, local, and clean energy investment that benefits all Illinoisans.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Question of the day

Friday, Oct 30, 2020

* Your closing argument for/against your favorite/most hated state/local candidate or ballot issue?

…Adding… As an example, Illinois Chamber CEO Todd Maisch says Illinois already has a fair income tax…

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


Another day, another failed lawsuit

Friday, Oct 30, 2020

* Northwest Herald

McHenry County Associate Judge Thomas A. Meyer dismissed a lawsuit Thursday morning filed by Nunda and McHenry townships’ road districts contending a new state law allowing local townships to be abolished through referendums is illegal under the Illinois Constitution. Attorney James Militello III, who represented the road districts in the suit, filed a notice of appeal of the decision Thursday. The lawsuit named Gov. JB Pritzker and McHenry County as defendants.

The road districts in their lawsuit argued that the state legislation in the matter, sponsored by state Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, and signed into law last year, was unconstitutional because it only applied to townships in McHenry County and nowhere else in Illinois. Their complaint alleged the law, which added a rule to the state’s Township Code that lets voters decide on whether to eliminate townships and their associated road districts in McHenry County through ballot measures, is “special or local legislation,” which is prohibited from being approved by the statehouse.

The law, Militello argued, only applied it to McHenry County because the law’s supporters intended to use the area as a test case for referendums seeking to abolish townships. McSweeney in a Thursday interview agreed that was the intent and said his goal was to eventually expand it to the rest of the state.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      


Shenanigans! “By any means necessary”

Friday, Oct 30, 2020

* Jim Dey

When opposing candidates accuse each other of lying, it’s a pretty fair bet they’re both telling the truth, at least partially.

Facts taken out of context or misrepresented are part and parcel of political campaigns, particularly in quick-hitting radio and television ads aimed at audience emotions.

Last week, Illinois Supreme Court candidate Judy Cates accused her opponent, David Overstreet, of being sympathetic to child molesters and hostile to victims based on a Fifth District appellate court decision that overturned a man’s conviction based on a “trial in absentia” issue.

“Trial in absentia” questions have nothing to do with being sympathetic or unsympathetic to criminals or victims.

But in an election year, who cares?

All that matters is winning — by any means necessary. […]

Overstreet voted to overturn a child molester’s conviction based on the judge’s mistaken decision to hold a trial for the defendant when the defendant was in the hospital. So Overstreet likes child molesters.

* Check out the mass text sent out in the district by a shadowy group opposing Overstreet…

By any means necessary is right.

* Also a bit ironic considering this

A class action lawsuit has been filed against Republican candidate for Illinois Supreme Court David Overstreet over alleged violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by a lawyer who’s a top contributor to his opponent, Democrat Judy Cates..

* The Republicans were clearly caught off guard in that district

A law firm representing the Overstreet 2020 campaign has asked a southern Illinois TV station to stop running a trial-lawyer sponsored ad it says is “disgustingly false.”

In a 30-second spot paid for by “Clean Courts Committee,” the mother of a 6-year-old who was allegedly raped says she can’t believe Judge Overstreet would let the accused “go.”

“No charges, no registering as a sex offender. Nothing,” the mother says.

The accused, Jerad Peoples, was convicted in absentia by a Marion County judge in 2017. His conviction was overturned in June at the Fifth District Appellate Court by a three-judge panel, lead by Justice Milton Wharton. The judges found that Peoples did not miss his trial date willfully but missed it because he nearly took his life and spent the day in a hospital.

Justices David Overstreet and John Barberis concurred in the decision with Wharton.

* Turns out, Judge Judy has a similar problem

But court records show that four years ago Cates, as appellate court justice in the same court where Overstreet serves, made a very similar concurrence in the case of a Bethalto man.

Cates, Democrat, runs against Overstreet, Republican, for the seat of retiring Justice Lloyd Karmeier.

In a Nov. 22, 2016 opinion, Cates concurred with a majority to reverse the first conviction of Michael Burgund, who upon second trial was convicted of sexually assaulting his two minor daughters between the ages of one and three.

The appellate court decision that Cates concurred in, like the one Overstreet concurred in, remanded the case back to the trial court for a second trial. The second Burgund trial took place a year and a half later, in Madison County.

- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      


Caption contest!

Friday, Oct 30, 2020

* From a reader…

These are the mailers that I’ve received since July 7th– almost non stop back and forth on Diane Pappas and Seth Lewis.

Pic…

Remember, this is just one race.

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      


Protected: *** UPDATED x1 *** SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Some campaign news

Friday, Oct 30, 2020

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6,943 new cases, 36 additional deaths, 3,092 hospitalized, 673 in ICU, 7.3 percent average case positivity rate, 8.5 percent average test positivity rate

Friday, Oct 30, 2020

* Press release…

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today reported 6,943 new confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 36 additional deaths.

    - Adams County: 1 male 90s
    - Carroll County: 1 female 80s
    - Christian County: 1 male 50s
    - Cook County: 1 male 40s, 1 female 50s, 1 male 50s, 1 female 70s, 1 female 80s, 1 female 90s
    - DuPage County: 1 male 60s, 1 female 70s
    - Fulton County: 1 male 70s
    - Greene County: 2 females 90s
    - LaSalle County: 1 female 80s, 1 female 90s
    - Livingston County: 1 male 60s
    - Macon County: 1 female 70s
    - Madison County: 1 male 70s
    - McDonough County: 1 male 60s
    - Morgan County: 1 male 80s
    - Peoria County: 1 female 90s
    - Piatt County: 1 female 90s
    - Saline County: 1 female 70s, 1 female 90s
    - St. Clair County: 1 male 70s
    - Tazewell County: 1 male 60s
    - Wayne County: 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s
    - White County: 1 male 80s
    - Will County: 2 males 70s, 1 female 80s, 2 females 90s
    - Winnebago County: 1 female 70s

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 402,401 cases, including 9,711 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 95,111 specimens for a total 7,637,209. As of last night, 3,092 people in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 673 patients were in the ICU and 288 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from October 23 – October 29 is 7.3%. This is the number that IDPH has been consistently reporting in its daily releases and is calculated using total cases over total tests. Similar to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, IDPH has been using test positivity for regional mitigation metrics on its website since mid-July. Test positivity is calculated using the number of COVID-19 positive tests over total tests. On October 29, 2020, IDPH began reporting the statewide test positivity in its daily releases. The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity from October 23, 2020 – October 29, 2020 is 8.5%.

Case positivity and test positivity rate are both relevant and offer insight into the bigger COVID-19 picture. Case positivity helps us understand whether changes in the number of confirmed cases is due to more testing or due to more infections. Whereas, test positivity accounts for repeated testing and helps us understand how the virus is spreading in the population over time.

Forty-nine counties are currently reported at a warning level – Adams, Alexander, Bond, Boone, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, DeKalb, Douglas, DuPage, Effingham, Ford, Franklin, Greene, Grundy, Hamilton, Henderson, Jackson, Jo Daviess, Johnson, Kane, Kendall, Knox, Lee, Macon, Marion, McHenry, Mercer, Morgan, Ogle, Perry, Pike, Randolph, Rock Island, Saline, Sangamon, Shelby, Stephenson, Wabash, Warren, Washington, Wayne, Whiteside, Will, Williamson. And Winnebago.

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

- Posted by Rich Miller   2 Comments      


More shenanigans! IPI spreads false rumor about polling place closures

Friday, Oct 30, 2020

* The Illinois Policy Institute’s headline is about as false as false can get

Alderman warns Pritzker could close Illinois polling places due to COVID-19

What?

Nope, nope and nope.

* Ald. Burke’s letter did not even mention the governor or the state

* To the IPI story

A Chicago alderman’s warning about sudden polling place closures thanks to COVID-19 orders has a Cook County commissioner asking Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker to reassure voters a statewide closure will not be used to impact the election.

The concern was prompted when embattled Chicago Ald. Ed Burke, 14th Ward, sent a letter to constituents urging early voting to avoid sudden Election Day closures.

“Remember, thirty percent of the polling locations in the 14th Ward have been relocated due to COVID-19. With COVID-19 on the rise, the likelihood of polling place locations closing is possible, without notice, as happened in the March election,” Burke’s letter states.

That set off Cook County Commissioner Sean Morrison, a Republican from Palos Park, who called on Pritzker to tell voters he would not issue shutdown orders for Election Day gain.

“I publicly challenge the governor to assure Illinois voters he will not interfere with the November 3rd election by proclaiming an emergency COVID shutdown similar to the one he proclaimed in March,” Morrison told Illinois Review.

Commissioner Morrison’s memory is faulty. The governor did not shut down the primary, despite pressure to do so from the far left. He also didn’t order a single polling place closure.

* But I asked anyway, and Pritzker’s spokesperson Jorday Abudayyeh said “The governor is not going to stop the election from taking place,” adding, “We have given instructions to locals on how best to conduct elections in this environment and polling places are not subject to the mitigation.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      


The IHSA could’ve opened up a big can of legal worms

Friday, Oct 30, 2020

* WBEZ

The boys and girls high school basketball seasons are on in Illinois, opening the door for other high contact sports to play this year — as well as potential lawsuits. […]

“IHSA may have their views of it, but school districts know what the rules are,” Pritzker said. “It’s unfortunate, but [school districts] would probably be taking on legal liability if they went ahead and moved beyond what the state had set as the mitigation standard.”

* Nexstar

[IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson] was asked about the risk of lawsuits the IHSA might potentially face.

“You know at some point, I think over the next month or whatever time frame we’ll figure out if this is a legal issue for us as an association or if it is for our schools and then we’ll have to pivot as we’ve been pivoting a number of times throughout this school year.”

It’s probably more about the schools. But we’ll see.

* Joliet Herald-News

“The problem you are going to have is, even if you have parents sign waivers, if a kid gets [COVID-19] and then goes out and gives it to someone else, you have a potential of a lawsuit against the school district,” [Attorney Terry Ekl] said. “The basis of the lawsuit is they ignored the Illinois Department of Public Health and went ahead and allowed these kids to play.” […]

“There’s a proof issue involved here, but that doesn’t mean the school district is not going to get sued and have to engage in costly defensive litigation,” Ekl said. “Sometimes the cost of litigation exceeds the cost proven to be a damage. You win the case, and you still have to pay the cost of defense, which could be tens of thousands of dollars.” […]

“[Insurance carriers] may very well say to the school district, ‘If the department of public health is saying they are recommending you should not play basketball, and you go ahead and do it, we would negate your insurance coverage,’” Ekl said. “‘We’re telling you right now you should not engage in athletic activities that are in conflict with the Illinois Department of Public Health.’”

Ekl said a group of parents approached him last month about suing the IHSA. He said he researched the matter and ended up turning down the case, which was dismissed by a DuPage County judge Oct. 1.

* Les Winkeler at the Southern Illinoisan

I covered the courthouse beat in a previous life. The lawsuit will read something like this, “Good ol’ Hometown High fielded a basketball team in the midst of a pandemic, disregarding state medical guidelines. As a result of this negligence, athletes suffered illness, resulting in death.”

And, given the strong, consistent pronouncements of state officials, that’s a difficult argument to refute.

What’s more, the Illinois State Board of Education also Tweeted that due to liability issues schools, should think carefully before plunging ahead with the basketball season.

In terms of standing up for student-athletes, I suppose you could interpret the IHSA’s actions that way. Given the fact that athletes could possibly be exposed to infected individuals by competing with students outside their circle, the organization’s response seems less heroic.

…Adding… I meant to post this and somehow forgot. Sorry

Chicago Public Schools will likely not play basketball this winter. The CPS sent a memo to schools on Thursday announcing that girls and boys high school and elementary school basketball is postponed until further notice and possibly moved to the spring or summer of 2021.

“While the Illinois High School Association has not removed high school basketball from its winter sports calendar, [Gov. J.B. Pritzker] and [the Illinois Department of Public Health] have determined that basketball presents a greater risk of COVID-19 transmission and is not safe to play this winter,” the email from CPS said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   61 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** State announces mitigation for eastern Illinois’ Region 6

Friday, Oct 30, 2020

* Press release…

Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) are announcing COVID-19 resurgence mitigations will be implemented in Region 6—East-Central Illinois—beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, November 2, 2020. The region has seen a 7-day rolling average test positivity rate of 8 percent or above for three consecutive days, which exceeds the thresholds set for establishing mitigation measures under the state’s Restore Illinois Resurgence Plan. Region 6 includes Iroquois, Ford, Dewitt, Piatt, Champaign, Vermillion, Macon, Moultrie, Douglas, Edgar, Shelby, Coles, Cumberland, Clark, Fayette, Effingham, Jasper, Crawford, Clay, Richland, and Lawrence counties.

The administration continues to provide relief for small businesses impacted by the ongoing pandemic, distributing more than $32 million in emergency grants and assistance to Region 6 alone. Moving forward, businesses in Region 6, as well as other regions currently under additional mitigations, will receive priority consideration for the current round of the historic Business Interruption Grants (BIG) program. To date, through BIG, more than $42 million has been directed to regions currently under mitigations or where mitigations will soon take effect. These programs are guided by an equity framework and seek to address the hardest hit communities with emergency relief dollars.

“As of this morning, Region 6 has now sustained an average positivity rate of 8 percent or higher for three days, today hitting 8.6 percent – meaning that, starting Monday, they will join the majority of the state in operating under resurgence mitigations,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “With community transmission rates on the rise all around our state, it’s more important than ever to take caution, mask up, avoid gatherings and ensure your family gets through this as safe as can be. Let’s remember that the quickest way we get kids back into schools and businesses open and workers employed is to bring down infections, positivity rates, and hospitalizations in our communities – and that means mask up, wash up, back up, and sleeve up to get your flu shot.”

“We are on the precipice of the entire state entering into mitigation,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “These last few regions have seen rapid increases in test positivity, one right after another, because of increasing disease spread throughout our communities. We need all people to adhere to both the community mitigation measures and well as personal and family measures so we can swiftly turn our entire state around.”

Mitigation measures taking effect November 2 in Region 6 include:

Bars

    No indoor service
    All outside bar service closes at 11:00 p.m.
    All bar patrons should be seated at tables outside
    No ordering, seating, or congregating at bar (bar stools should be removed)
    Tables should be 6 feet apart
    No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting
    No dancing or standing indoors
    Reservations required for each party
    No seating of multiple parties at one table

Restaurants

    No indoor dining or bar service
    All outdoor dining closes at 11:00 p.m.
    Outside dining tables should be 6 feet apart
    No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting
    Reservations required for each party
    No seating of multiple parties at one table

Meetings, Social Events, Gatherings

    Limit to lesser of 25 guests or 25 percent of overall room capacity
    No party buses
    Gaming and Casinos close at 11:00 p.m., are limited to 25 percent capacity, and follow mitigations for bars and restaurants, if applicable

These mitigations do not apply to schools or polling places.

From the onset of the pandemic, support for small businesses has been one of the central features of the Pritzker administration’s COVID-19 response. Since March, the administration has launched a menu of small business and community relief programs – with over $500 million in grants and programs launched by the Illinois Department for Economic Opportunity (DCEO), including emergency hospitality grants, a downstate small business stabilization program, Fast Track Capital, and more. For more information on programs available for businesses and communities, please visit DCEO’s website.

DCEO is also actively processing reimbursements for local governments impacted by COVID-19 via the state’s Local CURES program. Thus far, nearly $5 million has been awarded to governments in Region 6 to help cover the costs of the emergency response, with eligible costs including PPE and other public health expenses. All eligible governments in Region 6 can submit their certification to the department and begin submitting reimbursement requests. For more information on programs available for businesses and communities, please visit DCEO’s website.

Region 6 is currently seeing an 8.6% positivity rate, an increase from 5.2% in mid-September, a summer peak of 6.2% over Labor Day weekend, and a low of 1.1% in late-June. While nearly every region is seeing sustained increases in both positivity and hospitalization rates, today the COVID-related hospital admissions in Region 6 have tripled since mid-September now averaging 18 admissions per day.

In the coming days, IDPH will continue to track the positivity rate in Region 6 to determine if mitigations can be relaxed, if additional mitigations are required, or if current mitigations should remain in place. If the positivity rate averages less than or equal to 6.5% for three consecutive days, then the regions will return to Phase 4 mitigations under the Restore Illinois Plan. If the positivity rate averages between 6.5% and 8%, the new mitigations will remain in place and unchanged. If the positivity rate averages greater than or equal to 8% after 14 days, more stringent mitigations may be applied to further reduce spread of the virus.

Every region is being closely monitored since as of today, including Region 6, a total of ten of the state’s 11 regions have triggered one of the state’s failsafe state-action metric. Regions 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, and 9 will all operate under Tier 1 mitigation measures by the end of this weekend, given that these regions continue to report a 7-day rolling positivity rate above 8%. Regions 10 and 11 are now operating under Tier 1 mitigations after triggering additional mitigations based on sustained increases in both positivity and hospitalization rates. Region 1 is currently operating under Tier 2 mitigation measures after continuing to see a rise in positivity even under the Tier 1 mitigation framework, with the highest rolling positivity average in the state.

As part of the administration’s robust response to the pandemic, the state continues to strengthen its nation-leading testing operation. Today, Illinois reported a record high of 95,111 tests in a single day. The administration is building upon this groundbreaking progress, given that testing remains a critical step to reduce further spread of the virus. For a more targeted approach, the state provides mobile testing allowing testing to be directed toward communities most impacted by COVID-19. In Region 6, mobile testing has been deployed in Richland County today, in Effingham on Sunday, and in Macon at the Decatur Civic Center from today through Sunday. Next week, Region 6 will have a testing site from November 2 through November 8 at the Danville Area Community College. To find the nearest testing center, please visit DPH.Illinois.Gov/Testing.

IDPH will continue to work closely with local health departments in Region 6 to provide education to the public and offer information to businesses and organizations on keeping residents safe. The significance of face coverings, social distancing, and hand washing have been consistently emphasized by the administration throughout the pandemic.

A full list of mitigation measures pertaining to some businesses and industries may be found

*** UPDATE *** The entire state will likely be in mitigation in a few days…

- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Nicor dumped tons of poisoned water on fields above aquifer

Friday, Oct 30, 2020

* WCIA

Lab tests from wells near Nicor Gas’ oldest underground natural gas storage facility detected alarming levels of benzene, a chemical known to cause cancer.

In a violation notice issued in December 2019, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency alleged the state’s largest natural gas company broke the law and threatened the quality of groundwater when it dumped the carcinogenic wastewater into the soil.

Federal safety standards set the limit of benzene at five parts per billion. According to lab tests obtained in a Target 3 investigation, the benzene found in eight Nicor Gas wells exceeded federal safety standards for three consecutive months. One test conducted in February of 2019 detected 26,000 parts of benzene per billion, an astounding 5,200 times higher than legally allowed.

In an emailed statement, the company said it discovered benzene during regular monthly testing and reported it immediately the state’s environmental regulators.

“Nicor Gas and the IEPA have been unable to identify the source of the benzene,” spokeswoman Jennifer Golz wrote on Wednesday. “Benzene is not a chemical that we use in our processes.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, benzene “is a natural part of crude oil, gasoline,” and is a widely produced industrial chemical often associated with underground storage sites.

Gas companies like Nicor, a subsidiary of Southern Company Gas, routinely pipe fracked gas in from out of state before storing it deep underground in naturally occurring aquifers. Industry experts say the chemical liquids used in hydraulic fracturing are often kept secret as proprietary information, but several health studies and news reports have documented widespread use of benzene in fracking fluids

Go read the whole thing. Crazy.

*** UPDATE *** Nicor…

Hello Rich,

I saw your mention of the WCIA article about Nicor Gas, and I wanted to let you and your readers know that this downstate television station did not attempt to factcheck its reporting, nor has made the factual corrections Nicor Gas has requested. Therefore, I am reaching out to you directly to ensure you know that all Nicor Gas storage facilities are safe and in compliance with local, state and federal environmental standards and guidelines.

WCIA is presenting factually inaccurate information about the operation of our storage facilities in a misleading and irresponsible manner that alarms those in our state who rely on Nicor Gas to keep their families safe, homes warm and businesses running.

There are several inaccuracies in the WCIA report including assertions that Nicor Gas “dumped” contaminated water without regard. All produced water was discharged legally in seepage fields permitted by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for more than 20 years. The presence of benzene was not identified in any of the company’s routine monitoring and analytical tests until 2018. Nicor Gas was first to detect the benzene, and we immediately reported this to the IEPA and implemented proactive corrective actions to stop benzene discharge, including disposal of the produced water in appropriate and permitted disposal facilities.

It’s important to note, as we have also shared with WCIA, that benzene is not used by Nicor or in natural gas operations. Its presence is not an effect of our work or processes.

The source of the benzene is still unknown. However, as soon as it was identified, Nicor Gas immediately shut in the extraction well where benzene was detected despite the challenges it would present to operations and distributing natural gas to our customers during the winter heating season. These events were happening during the same time as last year’s Polar Vortex. Without the added capacity of our underground storage, more than 700,000 customers would have been without heat during the dangerously cold temperatures.

If you’d like to learn more about how our storage ensures we are able to safely and reliability meet the energy needs of Illinoisans, I encourage you to visit https://www.nicorgas.com/storage.

Thank you for your time and consideration to help set the record straight.

Jennifer

Jennifer Golz
Manager, PR & Media Relations
Corporate Communications

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


This is not some sort of made-up lie, for crying out loud

Friday, Oct 30, 2020

* Finke

Rep. Mike Murphy, R-Springfield, a former restaurant owner, said during a briefing with state health officials Thursday that lawmakers were told private gatherings and universities pose a bigger transmission problem than bars and restaurants. He, too, wants to see the data Pritzker is using to determine the mitigations.

Pritzker has said that information will be made available early next week. He said it’s taken time to compile records from nearly 100 separate local health agencies.

Murphy said if “it proved to be that restaurants and bars were the reason why we cannot control the spread of this, yes I would (support the mitigations). But I haven’t seen that proved, and I’m not sure they have it.”

“There has been no data that says there has been an outbreak linked to bars and restaurants,” Bourne added.

* I told subscribers about this earlier today, but it’s important enough that I think we should go over it here now. This IDPH data is for Region 3 (which includes Springfield) through a couple weeks ago. Expect an update very soon…

“Other”…

‘Other’ means locations not selected from the 37 standard locations available to the contact tracing workers. These locations include vacation, frat house, library, fire department and a variety of other venues and may include non- responses.

As you may recall, Rep. Tim Butler, who was also at yesterday’s HGOP press conference, said he had no idea how he caught the COVID. He’s therefore an “other.”

* Dr. Ezike yesterday

There’s exposure data, and then there’s outbreak data. Those are two different pieces of data that are collected.

As the governor explained, the outbreak data will be where all of these individuals in the same space and time were diagnosed as cases and they’re connected to one another clearly. There’s a connection like ‘I was with you. And I developed symptoms, we were in this space,’ and these people were all connected. So that could be at a fraternity party, that could be at a wedding. Those were clearly identified outbreaks.

Most people who end up contracting the infection don’t know exactly who they got it from. They don’t say, ‘Oh, I was with so and so who was positive, that’s where I got it’. If they don’t have any idea of who they got it from, then that’s when you go into the contact tracing, in terms of identifying places that they were in the time that you would have contracted the virus.

And so from that data that you collect from all these people who were just like, ‘Well, I was here, I was there,’ it is consistent that where those people recollect that they were in the time, were bars and restaurants. Obviously, if people were in school, they will say school people who were at work will say work.

So, we already told you we’re not the ones who are going to be closing school, we’re not going to tell people not to go to work. We have to operate in the place that we can operate. And there you have, sitting there, bars and restaurants coming up time after time in the exposure sites that people were before they contracted the virus.

…Adding… IDPH Region 3

And from Sangamon County

But, yeah. Go hang out in a crowded indoor tavern.

- Posted by Rich Miller   60 Comments      


Shenanigans!

Friday, Oct 30, 2020

* People should either get off Facebook or unfollow goofs like this…


- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


Today’s must-read

Friday, Oct 30, 2020

* NBC 5

A Chicago doctor took the podium during Thursday’s coronavirus press briefing to ‘set some facts straight’ on misinformation being spread amid a surge in coronavirus cases across Illinois.

Dr. Emily Landon, an infectious disease expert at University of Chicago Medicine, told media while she’s worried about the record high 6,363 coronavirus cases set on Thursday, she’s also worried about ‘misinformation and fatigue’ that she says has grown across the state.

“Today, I want to set some facts straight,” Landon began. “First of all, inconsistent recommendations are not evidence of a conspiracy, nor are inconsistent data. They’re evidence of a changing knowledge and epidemiology.” […]

“In different situations, different metrics mean different things,” Landon said. “For example, when testing rates are low or changing rapidly, the test positivity rate may not mean quite the same thing as when testing rates are stable, or when the testing rates aren’t increasing as much as the cases.” […]

“There are new data coming out every day. Science is learning,” Landon assured. “We change our guidance, because we learn something new. Changing advice should make you feel good that we’re making progress.”

* KMOX

There has been widespread disagreement about the ban on indoor dining in the Metro East, and other places in Illinois. Dr. Landon said the last time the ban was imposed, it worked in stopping the increase in positivity rates.

Yep.

* Another NBC 5 story

As temperatures cool down, more people have moved to dining indoors, which Landon said is a major spreading spot of the coronavirus. She said “there’s no way around” Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s recent order to shut down indoor bar service and dining in most regions in Illinois.

“Over 100 (coronavirus) cases were linked to one bar in Michigan in a week. And over the summer in Minnesota, 29 bars and restaurants started clusters that spread throughout the community” Landon said. “Shutting down bars and restaurants and putting in mass mandates changed the trajectory of the pandemic in Arizona, Texas, Florida, San Diego, Washington, DC, Illinois, I could go on.”

Officials said the major issue with bars and restaurants is the need to remove a mask in order to eat or drink, which could lead to a further spread of the coronavirus.

Landon said the spreading is not the fault of any particular restaurant, but rather that the spread is inevitable. She reminded that people with the coronavirus are contagious before experiencing symptoms.

“The reality is, that restaurant can be perfectly safe from 6 to 8 p.m. and become a super spreader event from 8 to 10,” Landon said. “It all depends on whether or not someone with COVID walks in the door.”

* AP

Dr. Emily Landon, a medical director at the University of Chicago’s medical school, said two factors facilitate the virus’s spread in winter, especially at restaurants: Colder air is drier, and the droplets that transmit the virus become even smaller.

Add to that, she said, what people do in a bar or restaurant.

“There are only a couple activities where you have to take your masks off around other people, and that is dining in a restaurant and going to a bar,” Landon noted. “There is just no way to escape the risks (of COVID-19) when you go into a restaurant.”

* ABC 7

New data comes in every day as science continues to learn, Landon said, which can lead to disagreements, but disagreements are a normal part of the scientific process.

“We change our guidance because we learn something new,” she explained. “Changing advice should make you feel good about our making progress. Disagreement is a normal part of every process, and there is no right way to handle a new pandemic. But we’re all in the same boat and we should try to row in the same direction as much as possible.” […]

Landon said studies have found that indoor ventilation in most buildings is not enough to prevent COVID-19 transmission without masks. That is one of the reasons bars and restaurants carry a higher risk of transmission; it’s not possible to eat and drink while wearing a face covering.

* WGN TV

The governor said his decisions were guided by models done by research experts which show when we might see spikes, including one developed by University of Chicago scientist Sarah Cobey.

While she wasn’t available for an interview Thursday, Cobey was recently quoted in the downstate Belleville News-Democrat questioning the governor’s reliance on the positivity rate.

“I have been very critical of their use of this metric and basically almost all of the metrics they’ve proposed so far because they are not scientifically founded,” the paper quoted Cobey as saying. “They’re roughly right, but they’re not metrics you want to hang your hat on.”

In the article, Cobey argues the metric is only useful if there is enough testing happening in a region. A high positivity rate in an area which averages very few tests may not be indicative of how widespread the virus has become.

During Thursday’s daily coronavirus briefing, University of Chicago Dr. Emily Landon praised Cobey as a world-class scientist, but said the governor makes his decisions based on a variety of information.

“In a pandemic, no one has a monopoly on expertise,” Landon said.

Take some time today and read Dr. Landon’s entire address.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


*** UPDATED x3 - McHenry, Cook and DuPage judges all deny TRO requests *** Another day, another lawsuit

Friday, Oct 30, 2020

* Tribune

Thirty-seven restaurants and bars in McHenry County filed suit Thursday against Gov. J.B. Pritzker and health officials, trying to prevent enforcement of an order to shut down indoor service, which is meant to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

A hearing was set in the matter for Friday, one day before the shutdown was scheduled to take place in Lake and McHenry counties. A similar order has been imposed in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kankakee and Will counties, and other parts of Illinois. […]

He based the legal challenge in part on the state law that gives the governor power to issue executive orders in an emergency, as Pritzker first did in March, but limits that power to 30 days. Some courts previously have upheld the governor’s power to issue consecutive orders to extend that time period indefinitely, but a downstate judge ruled this summer that the governor may not do so, a case that the state is also appealing.

* Pioneer Press

Five Park Ridge restaurant owners filed a lawsuit this week against Gov. J.B. Pritzker, objecting to the governor’s latest order shutting down indoor dining at bars and restaurants.

The lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court late Wednesday, claims Pritzker lacks the authority to issue the executive order because the emergency powers he used to issue it expired in April.

Just a ridiculous assertion.

*** UPDATE 1 *** Sam Toia of the Illinois Restaurant Association announced today that his group will develop a standard amicus brief so that it can weigh in on lawsuits as they are filed.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Welp…

A McHenry County judge denied a temporary restraining order Friday filed by 37 local bars and restaurants can remain open despite the governor’s mitigation rules that take effect Saturday.

Attorneys met Friday morning at the McHenry County courthouse in Woodstock, where they argued primarily about Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker’s powers or lackthereof to enforce consecutive 30-day executive orders.

McHenry County Judge Thomas Meyer said that he ruled that way because he felt that the new mitigation orders were based on new facts and were not simply an extension of Pritzker’s original executive order.

*** UPDATE 3 *** The attorney general’s office tells me that judges in DuPage and Cook counties today also denied TRO motions filed by restaurant plaintiffs.

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      


Open thread

Friday, Oct 30, 2020

* Keep it local, keep it polite and keep my thanks in your heart.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      


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Friday, Oct 30, 2020

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


*** LIVE COVERAGE ***

Friday, Oct 30, 2020

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PREVIOUS POSTS »
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Republicans want to hear Pritzker's remap thoughts while Democrats push back against GOP plans
* An unintended, but likely forseeable consequence of over-cautious policies
* COVID-19 roundup: Lawsuit filed over LaSalle Veterans’ Home death; IDOC resuming in-person visitation; Hotel revenues plunged 80 percent
* Question of the day
* Legislator pay ruling should not be a surprise
* *** UPDATED x1 *** 2,433 new confirmed and probable cases; 18 additional deaths; 1,998 hospitalized; 418 in the ICU; 4.4 percent average case positivity rate; 4.9 percent average test positivity rate; 132,188 average daily doses
* More like this, please
* State Board of Elections calls special meeting to discuss Sandvoss situation
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Fundraising event list
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Big teachers union wins prompt grumbling
* Center Square network gets grant to offer "an alternate perspective to legacy media’s unfair coverage of individuals who disagree with state shutdowns"
* Moody's: New Chicago firefighter pension law is "credit negative"
* Open thread
* *** UPDATED x1 *** SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today's edition
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
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