* Center Square…
The first public hearing of the Restore Illinois Collaborative Commission focused on grants of federal dollars the Pritzker administration is administering to businesses. But one aspect of the program was labeled “abuse of power” by a commission member.
Tuesday’s hearing also gave the public a glimpse of what Republicans have characterized as short and unproductive meetings.
The hearing lasted about 70 minutes with about half the time for questions from lawmakers. The other half was a presentation about federal funds being administered to businesses through the Business Interruption Grant program.
The grants for businesses are being managed by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Agency officials said a third party vendor helping facilitate the application process cost around $1 million. Of $270 million available, there’s about $130 million left to distribute.
DCEO Assistant Director Michael Negron said if grant recipients don’t follow the governor’s executive orders, the grants ranging from $5,000 to $150,000 could be clawed back.
“It’s something that the state is trying to communicate that in order to get the economy on a path to recovery and in order to save lives we’ve got to get the virus under control, and that requires certain measures,” Negron said.
State Rep. Dan Caulkins, R-Decatur, said that’s “government overreach and abuse of power.”
“For you to put in your contract that these businesses have to follow executive orders with no level of certainty of what those orders might be and then face clawback, it rubs me quite wrongly,” Caulkins said.
I just have no words for that.
* Once again, the federal government is forcing states to participate in a dystopian Hunger Games scenario…
Chicago health officials yesterday announced that they expect the COVID-19 vaccine could be ready for distribution by mid-December 2020. According to ABC Chicago, the CDC is expected to formally recommend that health care workers and residents of long term health facilities are first in line for vaccines, but “it will be up to state and local officials to decide where doses go first…” The state of Illinois is expected to announce a tiered plan later this week.
In response to this news, Anthony McGee, Vice President of Teamsters Local 700, the union representing nearly 3,000 Corrections Officers at the Cook County jail, issued the following statement:
“We agree 100% that initial distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine should be determined by risk of exposure to the virus. With that in mind, Teamsters Local 700 is urging city and state leaders, including Governor Pritzker, Mayor Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, to ensure that CCDOC Corrections Officers, and all other law enforcement officers, are among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“CCDOC Corrections Officers have heroically put their lives on the line to protect their communities since the start of the pandemic. As the virus raged throughout the Cook County jail — labeled at one point as the top COVID-19 hot spot in America — officers continued to work long hours in confined spaces, where keeping social distance is impossible, oftentimes without proper PPE or protocols in place to keep them safe. CCDOC Corrections Officers have paid a terrible price for their service: five officers have died due to COVID, and hundreds more have tested positive for COVID-19.
“Unfortunately today, many months after the COVID-19 pandemic began, the Cook County jail is still a dangerous COVID-19 hotspot. Despite knowing for months that COVID-19 would likely spike at the jail as winter approached, Sheriff Tom Dart failed to develop a comprehensive plan to protect Corrections Officers and others in the jail from the deadly virus. COVID-19 cases have now reached their highest levels at the jail since April–and officers are still reporting that the Sheriff is failing to provide them with proper PPE and forcing others to interact with inmates who have not been wearing masks.
“Given the high risk of exposure to COVID-19 that currently exists at the Cook County jail, along with the essential work Corrections Officers do every day, it is imperative that city and state officials prioritize CCDOC officers with vaccine distribution. The wellbeing of CCDOC Corrections Officers — along with their family, friends, and the public at large — depends on it.”
* Ladies and gentlemen, my alderman…
A Springfield alderman unsuccessfully sought the removal of a newspaper reporter from city council chambers Tuesday evening, arguing that the reporter was violating his social distance.
Minutes before the Springfield City Council was set to convene, Ward 1 Ald. Chuck Redpath requested that Illinois Times reporter Bruce Rushton be restricted to the space in the back of the council chambers reserved for the media.
Redpath alleged that Rushton, who typically sits in the public seating area nestled in between the horseshoe where council members sit and the press box, was getting too close to him.
Redpath typically does not wear a face mask when seated at the horseshoe, and this trend continued throughout most of Tuesday’s meeting, with his mask either completely off or around his chin.
He later told reporters that he has a medical condition exempting him from the city’s mask ordinance. But, he declined to elaborate further.
A medical condition? A good friend of mine has asthma. She has to regularly visit her doctor for steroid shots and IV treatments. She wears a mask whenever she leaves her home and has never once complained.
* Speaking of masks…
The Naperville City Council affirmed that everyone who is medically able should wear a protective face covering in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but stopped short of mandating masks.
After hearing two hours of comments Tuesday from nearly 150 people, many of whom oppose wearing masks or governmental interference in their decision to cover their face, the council opted to take a positive approach rather than a punitive one.
The council initially voted 5-4 against an ordinance requiring people to mask up in Naperville anytime a 6-foot distance cannot be maintained.
Mayor Steve Chirico and council members Kevin Coyne, Patty Gustin, Paul Hinterlong and John Krummen opposed the mandate; council members Judy Brodhead, Patrick Kelly, Theresa Sullivan and Benny White voted in favor of it.
* Sun-Times live blog headlines…
Officials announced Chicago and Illinois will receive its first doses of COVID-19 vaccines later this month
Starbucks offering free coffee to health care workers, first responders
Who will get the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in Chicago?
Anthony Fauci optimistic that stadiums could be full by late 2021
CDC to shorten COVID-19 quarantine to 10 days, 7 with test
Celebrities, stop partying like arrogant buffoons
A national pandemic plan — finally — comes to the rescue first of health care workers and the elderly
* NBC Chicago live blog headlines…
Pritzker Recommends COVID-19 Testing for Residents Who Traveled for Thanksgiving Holiday
Physicians Urge Drug Makers to Step Up Efforts to Ensure COVID Vaccine is Safe for Children
Arwady, Pritzker Don’t Anticipate COVID-19 Vaccine Will be Mandated by Officials
Chicago Could See Coronavirus Vaccine Within the Month, Health Officials Say
Chicago Includes 46 States, Puerto Rico in Coronavirus Travel Order Update