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Pritzker defends vax record in response to Senate Republicans

Thursday, Jan 28, 2021

* Senate Republicans…

Dear Governor Pritzker,

It’s been over a year since Illinois’ first positive COVID-19 case. Since then, those in long-term care facilities have been dying, families haven’t seen each other in months, and our economy has faced historic obstacles. Yet, with a vaccine in hand, Illinois has failed its residents.

The numbers are staggering. According to your Illinois Department of Public Health, of the 537,050 doses of vaccines available and allotted to our long-term care facilities, only 20 percent of them have been administered to its residents—a population that makes up nearly half of COVID-related deaths. That is unacceptable.

Additionally, according to the New York Times, Illinois ranks 47th in overall vaccine distribution, with just 4.8% of Illinoisans receiving at least one shot as of today. We are dead last compared to our sister states—Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and California.

We are asking for you to provide a clear explanation to legislators and to the citizens of Illinois as to why Illinois is among the worst states in regard to getting vaccines out to those who need it most. With all due respect, blaming the previous President, the federal government and CVS/Walgreens simply will not suffice.

Since the pandemic began, you decided on a go-it-alone approach, one that left the Legislature, an equal branch of government, sidelined. You need to empower us as legislators by including us in this process so we can help our constituents who are calling us every day asking why they or their loved ones have not been able to access a vaccine.

It’s up to you to provide full transparency and implement the coordination necessary to maximize the rollout of this vaccine. Anything less is a huge disservice to the people of Illinois and will cost lives.

Respectfully,

Members of the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus

* Pritzker response…

To the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus,

Building out an equitable, efficient, and transparent vaccine distribution plan in Illinois has been my priority since the scale of this pandemic first became clear nearly a year ago. Our Illinois Vaccination Administration Plan coordinates our 97 local health departments on the frontlines in their communities, strengthens their efforts by directing vaccine to hundreds of Walgreens, CVS, Jewel-Osco, Hy-Vee, Mariano’s and Kroger locations, and backs it all up with the force of the Illinois National Guard, who are in the work of supplementing and standing up mass vaccination sites around the state.

My administration has made $25 million in state-funded grants available to local health departments to beef up their staffing, training and rental space – all of which have been challenging obstacles for these departments to overcome.

Furthermore, Illinois is on the right trajectory: we hit records on both Wednesday and Tuesday this week. In fact, as we have helped local health departments overcome their challenges, the State of Illinois is administering more doses a week than it is receiving from the federal government.

Though our work won’t be finished until all of our residents have access to the vaccine, the design of this system is paying off. Per the exact New York Times database you cite, Illinois is the seventh in the nation for total number of doses distributed – right beside our “sister states” of California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania. All but one of those states has received more vaccine on a per capita basis than Illinois has at the CDC’s last count – and yet, we have kept up with them despite having less to work with.

In the future, we expect that having a partner in the White House will advance our efforts. For example, FEMA announced today that Illinois will receive $43 million in additional funding to expand our mobile vaccination operations and offer more easy-access locations for our residents as the national vaccine supply increases. This comes on top of the Biden Administration’s announcement that it is pursuing major staffing infusions and securing 200 million additional vaccine doses.

Of course, as I and governors across the political spectrum have made clear, the current national vaccine supply pipeline is completely inadequate for national demand – a product of the previous presidential administration, whether or not you’d like to name it as such. In a country of 330 million, the CDC estimates that only enough doses to fully vaccinate about 23 million people have even gone out the door – and that doesn’t count delays in administration or reporting.

There is additional national bipartisan consensus on the insufficient preparation of the Trump Administration’s Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care vaccination program; most notably, that while 49 of the 50 states enrolled in the welcomed federal assistance for prioritizing our most vulnerable residents, the federal government did not ensure that CVS and Walgreens had the proper staffing. Indeed, the national program spent half of December accumulating precious doses, not actually delivering a shot into an arm until weeks after states had started this process.

Part of the problem, in Illinois and nationally, is vaccine hesitancy, and I encourage you to address disinformation and lies about the origin and purpose of these vaccines, which are becoming increasingly prevalent in conservative media. We saw this same phenomenon with the disinformation about masking, social distancing and following public health guidelines contributing to increased spread.

While I look forward to working together to address the economic crisis of this pandemic and invest in our residents’ recovery when the legislature does return, in the meantime, I encourage you to make clear to Illinois’ Congressional delegation the need to support additional funding to support our Department of Public Health, our children’s school systems, our first responders doing yeoman’s work and the job creation initiatives our working families need to build back stronger from this pandemic. Additionally, you can encourage your constituents to do their part to mitigate this pandemic until we reach widespread vaccination by staying masked up, keeping our distance, following public health protocols and treating our neighbors with respect.

As you noted, this last year has been immensely difficult for our residents and for all Americans, with far more death, distancing and economic devastation than any one person should experience in a lifetime. I would love to vaccinate all 12.7 million Illinoisans right now so we can begin to rebuild our lives, revitalize our economy, and properly address the traumatic experiences of the last year – but you know as well as I do that a lack of national supply means a lack of vaccination appointments. I encourage you to be a model for patience in your communities. As public servants, our job isn’t over until all the people we serve can claim good health for themselves and their loved ones. It will take all of us, working together and with haste, to keep our people safe and bring this pandemic to a close.

Sincerely,
Governor JB Pritzker

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      


Double birthday caption contest!

Thursday, Jan 28, 2021

* I don’t care what anyone says about him, I like Jim Durkin. Yeah, we disagree on a lot of stuff, but that’s not the point. He’s a decent man and a good legislator. Today is his birthday. I think he’s 75. Not sure. Here he is from the before-times with 2020 Golden Horseshoe Award-winner Eleni Demertzis and former Bulls great Horace Grant. It’s Eleni’s birthday today as well…

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      


Unsolicited advice

Thursday, Jan 28, 2021

* Center Square

Illinois’ municipalities are, again, on the watch for a potential reduction of their promised share of state revenue if lawmakers choose to use a tool they’ve utilized multiple times before to help shore up the state budget.

The state collects income tax and other types of revenue for municipalities and distributes it via the Local Government Distributive Fund. Until 2011, local governments received 10% of the personal and corporate income tax revenue but that was slashed to 5.45% for personal income taxes and 6.16% of corporate income tax collections to help the state fill a budget hole from the recession. Both of the last two income tax increases saw proportional reductions in the LGDF.

As it stands, Illinois is set to deliver municipalities 6.06% of personal income tax collections and 6.845% of corporate tax revenue but Illinois Municipal League President Brad Cole says that could change.

“We’re always concerned about LGDF as the local share of state income taxes,” he said. “There are only so many places where the General Assembly and the governor can go to make reductions and we’ve seen that LGDF is one that comes out, usually, at the front of the line as a place where they can make cuts.”

Mayor Daley and other mayors publicly opposed the 2011 income tax increase, so municipalities didn’t get a cut of the new revenues. Hey, they said the money wasn’t needed.

So, just saying, but maybe the mayors and county board chairs should start lobbying legislators to pass the governor’s $500+ million decoupling bill because I’m starting to hear that LGDF is where the shortfall could be made up if it fails to pass.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


Question of the day

Thursday, Jan 28, 2021

* From comments

With Alexi now in the running for SOS, is it just me or does anyone else think Pat Quinn is actually going to put his hat in the ring for either SOS or another statewide office next year? Since if I recall correctly, he hasn’t sat out a midterm election since about ‘82 or so.

I was talking with somebody about this just yesterday or the day before. Here is Quinn’s off-year statewide track record…

1986: Third place in Democratic primary for treasurer

1990: Won state treasurer’s race

1994: Lost secretary of state’s race to George Ryan

1998: Lost Democratic primary for lieutenant governor to Mary Lou Kearns

2002 and 2006: Won lt. governor’s race

2010: Won governor’s race

2014: Lost governor’s race to Bruce Rauner

2018: Lost attorney general primary to Kwame Raoul

He also lost the 1996 US Senate primary to Dick Durbin.

* The Question: Do you think Pat Quinn will run for statewide office in 2022, and if so what office? Take the poll and then explain your answer either way in comments, please…


polls

- Posted by Rich Miller   45 Comments      


It’s just a bill

Thursday, Jan 28, 2021

* Um, it’s two legislators and they are in the super-minority…


More

House Bill 273 requires the State Board of Education to issue vouchers to the parents or guardians of a student who previously was enrolled in a public school but was taken out of school to be either home schooled or enrolled in a private school as a result of no full-time, in-person instruction being offered at the school where they were enrolled. The amount paid to the parents or legal guardians would be equivalent to what the State pays the local school for per pupil enrollment for the entire school year.

“The public schools can’t have it both ways,” Wilhour said. “Our public school system does not give parents a choice in which public school they enroll their children. For better or worse, parents and students are stuck with the schools that serve their particular neighborhoods. So, if a student is enrolled in a school that does not have in-person learning, the parent should have the choice to enroll the student in a nearby school that does offer in-person learning. Unfortunately, our system has given parents no choice but to seek private sector options and so it is only fair for the state to reimburse these parents for the additional educational cost. If teachers’ unions and broken education bureaucracies are going to thwart established science and the best interests of the students, the least they should do is to reimburse parents for the cost of seeking private school alternatives to get the in-person learning their children need.”

OK, expand that concept to poor Black and Brown kids living in towns like Springfield who want to go to Chatham and maybe they can pick up some majority party co-sponsors.

* But, really, we hear “Local control!” all the time from a certain political party, and yet

“There’s absolutely no reason that these public education institutions aren’t providing the option of full-time in-person learning, and what this legislation does is simply gives parents a choice,” Wilhour said.

It’s a choice that involves taking away money from some local schools and giving it to others. Talk about a slippery slope.

* Rep. Wilhour was on Anna Davlantes’ WGN Radio program today

Davlantes: Well, you’re thinking outside the box and I think a lot of those parents that would like this option would appreciate that you’re doing that.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      


Unemployment applications remain sky high

Thursday, Jan 28, 2021

* Oy

The Labor Department reported this morning that 847,000 more Americans filed new claims for state unemployment benefits last week as President Joseph R. Biden began his first week in the White House. Economists polled by Dow Jones had expected first-time claims to total 875,000. The feds have now reported about 75.6 million initial jobless claims over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic — a number equivalent to roughly 47 percent of the nation’s workforce. Since February, the United States has lost 9.8 million jobs, including 140,000 in December.

* CBS 2

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) reported 95,481 new unemployment claims were filed during the week of Jan 18 in Illinois.

For comparison, during the same timeframe last year 9,762 people filed claims in Illinois. That’s an 878% increase. […]

There were 95,472 new unemployment claims were filed during the week of Jan. 11 in Illinois.

There were 94,944 new unemployment claims filed during the week of Jan. 4 in Illinois.

* Meanwhile, here’s ABC 7

The Illinois Department of Employment Security said it has caught or stopped nearly 1 million fraud cases since March 2020.

Now they’re warning that if you receive a 1099-G form but didn’t file for Illinois unemployment benefits, you may be a victim of fraud.

* Crusader

Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Secretary of State Jesse White warned Illinois residents to be on alert for text message scams related to upcoming federal Real ID requirements.

Raoul and White are warning the public of scammers who are sending unsolicited text messages claiming to be from the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). The text message urges the recipient to click on a link to update their driver’s license or state ID to comport with upcoming federal Real ID requirements.

* And in Kansas

Thousands of fraudulent unemployment claims are prompting Kansas to shut down its processing system this weekend, meaning some jobless workers will have payments delayed as the state installs new anti-fraud protections, Gov. Laura Kelly announced Wednesday.

Kelly acknowledged that fraudulent claims may have helped fuel a recent surge of filings for benefits, agreeing with Republican legislators.

The Democratic governor’s announcement came shortly after GOP lawmakers said they will push to protect employers from being forced to cover the cost of fraudulent claims in ex-employees’ names. They said the state Department of Labor doesn’t have a handle on the problem and that they’ve not gotten enough data or answers.

Kelly said the unemployment system will go down at 2 p.m. Saturday and go back up at 7 a.m. Tuesday. She said the state won’t pay benefits during that period but will work to catch up on claims when the system is back up.

…Adding… IDES…

The number of nonfarm jobs decreased over-the-year in all fourteen Illinois metropolitan areas in December, according to preliminary data released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). The unemployment rate increased over-the-year in all metro areas. The official, BLS approved sub-state unemployment rate and nonfarm jobs series begins in 1990. Data reported prior to 1990 are not directly comparable due to updates in methodology.

“As Illinois works to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic with the ongoing vaccine rollout, IDES remains committed to supporting displaced workers and families by offering support and services to those who need it,” said Deputy Governor Dan Hynes. “The Pritzker administration and IDES continue to work with the U.S. Department of Labor to implement the new federal unemployment program changes as seamlessly as possible to ensure claimants have access to benefits for which they are eligible to receive.”

The number of nonfarm jobs decreased in all fourteen Illinois metropolitan areas. The metro areas which had the largest over-the-year percentage decreases in total nonfarm jobs were the Peoria MSA (-9.6%, -16,300), the Elgin Metropolitan Division (-9.2%, -24,100) and the Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights Metropolitan Division (-7.4%, -284,800). Three metro areas recorded their lowest total nonfarm jobs for the month of December on record (dating back to 1990).

Over-the-year, the unemployment rate increased in all 14 metropolitan areas; the metro areas with the largest unemployment rate increases were the Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights Metropolitan Division (+5.9 points to 8.7%), the Decatur MSA (+3.0 points to 8.2%) and the Springfield MSA (+2.5 points to 6.3%). The not seasonally adjusted Illinois unemployment rate was 7.5 percent in December 2020. Nationally, the not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.5 percent in December 2020.

- Posted by Rich Miller   3 Comments      


500 Illinois National Guard members activated for Washington, DC security duty

Thursday, Jan 28, 2021

* Press release…

At the request of the U.S. Department of Defense, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has activated approximately 500 Illinois National Guard members in support of the continued security mission in Washington, D.C. The mission in Washington, D.C. will not impact the Illinois National Guard’s ability to perform the vaccination distribution mission, with 325 members of the guard already activated to carry out that mission and hundreds more to come online in the coming weeks.

“The U.S. Department of Defense has asked Illinois to assist federal and local agencies in this continued effort, and Major General Neely and I are ready to ensure that the state of Illinois continues its proud legacy of protecting our democracy,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Ultimately, we must root out the dark forces of racism, white supremacy and disinformation that have created this moment, but until we do that, our extraordinary troops will deploy with honor.”

The Illinois Army National Guard soldiers, along with a small contingent of Illinois Air National Guard airmen, are expected to remain on duty in the nation’s capital until mid-March. While Illinois National Guard members who deployed for the Presidential Inauguration have since returned to Illinois, approximately 50 members of that mission have volunteered to return for this mission. The Illinois Army National Guard’s Chicago-based 108th Sustainment Brigade and its subordinate battalion, the North Riverside-based 198th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, will provide the bulk of the Illinois National Guard force for the Washington, D.C. mission.

“We are deploying these forces in support of civilian law enforcement based on threat-levels against the U.S. Capitol. These threats were assessed by the FBI and other federal agencies,” said Maj. Gen. Rich Neely, the Adjutant General of Illinois and Commander of the Illinois National Guard. “Our soldiers and airmen are committed to the defense of both our nation and our state. We have asked a lot of them in the last year and each time these men and women have answered the call and upheld their oath to defend and support the U.S. Constitution. I could not be more proud of these Soldiers and Airmen.”

The Illinois National Guard forces will join a force of approximately 7,000 National Guard members from throughout the United States in assisting federal and local agencies with safety and security throughout Washington, D.C. In February that force will draw down to 5,000, which will include the Illinois National Guard service members who will stay on until mid-March.

The Illinois National Guard members were activated under the provisions of U.S. Title 32, which leaves them under the authority of the Governor with all costs paid by the federal government. The Illinois National Guard members supporting the COVID-19 vaccine distribution mission in Illinois were also activated under the same provision of U.S. law.

The Illinois National Guard troops will be in Washington, D.C. by the beginning of next week.

* Related…

* Extremists Emboldened by Capitol Attack Pose Rising Threat, Homeland Security Says - The warning was a notable departure for a Department of Homeland Security accused of being reluctant during the Trump administration to publish intelligence reports or public warnings about the dangers posed by extremists and white supremacist groups.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


Criminal justice reform coverage roundup

Thursday, Jan 28, 2021

* Sun-Times

House Republicans on Wednesday urged Gov. J.B. Pritzker to veto a sweeping criminal justice bill passed by the Legislature earlier this month that they say will create “major public safety issues.”

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said the state must “thoroughly and carefully address police reform and criminal justice reform. It is the right thing to do.”

“I believe no person should have to live in fear of their government, and we must address those issues,” the Western Springs Republican said in a Zoom news conference Wednesday. “House Bill 3653 doesn’t do it. In short, it is a confusing, inoperable and contradictory attempt to reform policing and the criminal justice system.

“The [legislation], in its whole, is a document that lacks clarity and will be unworkable for police, the judiciary, defense attorneys and prosecutors.”

The main concerns for the House Republican leader, who was joined by state Rep. Patrick Windhorst, R-Metropolis, and Joe Moon, president of Illinois Troopers Lodge 41, are the end of cash bail and mandating that police officers wear body cameras.

* Mike Miletich

[Sponsoring Sen. Elgie Sims] says this plan included every suggestion from the coalition of law enforcement involved in the process. He describes HB 3653 as a good officer protection plan.

“It allows officers to be able to do their job effectively and invests in training. It also invests in officer wellness,” Sims added. “Investing in all of those things will help those officers who want to do the job well.”

Moon mentioned law enforcement worked with Attorney General Kwame Raoul on the proposal for decertification and licensing of officers. However, Moon said they never expected lawmakers to quickly ram that proposal with the massive criminal justice package. Lodge members already started calling the office with concerns about continuing as troopers. Some close to retirement told Moon they don’t want to continue working without the support from Illinois.

“I’ve had new troopers reach out to me and say if this bill passes they will have to seriously consider, for their safety and the safety of their family, continuing to do this job. So, there are severe repercussions if this bill passes,” Moon said.

We’ve all heard these threats to quit before. Every time the Legislature enacts police reform, the cops predict massive resignations and retirements.

* Fox 32

Specifically, the police union and top Republican lawmakers object to provisions in HB3653 that would make it easier to discipline and fire law enforcement officers and would expand Cook County’s experiment with no-cash bail throughout the state.

They note the accused killers of retired Chicago Fire Department Lt. Dwain Williams were out on a no-cash bond on charges including home invasion, kidnapping and illegally possessing a firearm and stolen vehicle.

“It’s not isolated. I could spend another hour talking about individuals released for crimes they committed which were violent in nature, were put back out on the street and once again, committed violent crimes and even murders,” said Rep. Jim Durkin.

Supporters say HB3653 would allow judges to keep those with a history of violence locked up while they await trial on new charges.

“Folks who should be held in our jails are done so based on a dangerousness score,” said Rep. Kam Buckner.

Gov. Pritzker said on Thursday he supports many of the reforms in HB3653, but will need up to two months to decide whether to sign it or veto it.

The bill hasn’t even been sent to the governor yet.

* WMAY

The governor’s office hasn’t said yet if Pritzker plans to sign this particular bill.

Please. He’s gonna sign the bill.

* Meanwhile, I told subscribers about this a couple of times in the past few days, but not a single news outlet has written about it except the local public access TV station

At the latest DuPage County Board meeting the group discussed a resolution that would recommend to Governor J.B. Pritzker to veto House Bill 3653. […]

The board voted 10-8 to postpone the discussion indefinitely.

They basically tabled it despite (or maybe because of) over the top testimony from the local sheriff. DuPage is changing.

* Related…

* Every Illinois police officer would be required to wear a body camera by 2025 under bill awaiting Pritzker’s signature. But without penalties, will departments comply?

* Controversial president of Chicago police union, already under threat of firing from officer job, faces new charges at Police Board

* Here’s a ward by ward breakdown of Chicago carjackings for the past three years

* Rep. Maurice West’s Community Connection: Criminal Justice Reform Package

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


4,191 new confirmed and probable cases; 103 additional deaths; 2,802 hospitalized; 567 in ICU; 4.3 percent average case positivity rate; 5.5 average test positivity rate; 36,728 average daily doses

Thursday, Jan 28, 2021

* Press release…

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today reported 4,191 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 103 additional deaths.

    - Adams County: 1 female 80s
    - Boone County: 1 male 70s
    - Clinton County: 1 female 70s, 1 male 80s, 1 female 90s
    - Coles County: 1 male 70s
    - Cook County: 4 males 50s, 6 females 60s, 9 males 60s, 3 females 70s, 8 males 70s, 5 females 80s, 7 males 80s, 2 females 90s, 2 male 90s
    - DeKalb County: 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s
    - DuPage County: 1 male 60s, 2 males 70s, 2 females 90s, 1 male 90s
    - Fulton County: 1 male 60s
    - Henderson County: 1 male 70s
    - Henry County: 1 female 80s
    - Kane County: 1 female 70s, 2 males 70s, 1 female 90s, 1 male 90s
    - Kankakee County: 1 male 90s
    - Lake County: 1 male 40s, 1 male 60s, 1 female 70s, 1 male 70s, 1 male 80s
    - Lee County: 1 male 90s, 1 male 100+
    - Madison County: 1 male 60s, 1 male 70s
    - McHenry County: 1 male 80s
    - McLean County: 1 female 90s
    - Monroe County: 1 female 90s
    - Montgomery County: 1 female 90s
    - Perry County: 1 male 80s
    - Pike County: 1 male 80s
    - Sangamon County: 1 female 100+
    - St. Clair County: 1 male 70s, 2 females 80s
    - Stephenson County: 1 male 60s, 1 male 80s
    - Warren County: 1 male 70s
    - Will County: 1 female 40s, 2 females 70s, 1 male 70s, 2 females 90s
    - Williamson County: 1 male 80s
    - Winnebago County: 1 female 40s, 1 female 70s, 1 male 70s, 1 female 80s, 1 male 90s

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 1,116,372 cases, including 19,067 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 100,119 specimens for a total 15,733,562. As of last night, 2,802 in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 567 patients were in the ICU and 292 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from January 21–27, 2021 is 4.3%. The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity from January 21–27, 2021 is 5.5%.

A total of 1,293,075 doses of vaccine have been delivered to providers in Illinois, including Chicago. In addition, approximately 496,100 doses total have been allocated to the federal government’s Pharmacy Partnership Program for long-term care facilities. This brings the total Illinois doses to 1,789,175. IDPH is currently reporting a total of 829,488 vaccines administered, including 131,284 for long-term care facilities. Yesterday, a total of 55,865 doses were administered. The 7-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 36,728 doses.

*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. Information for deaths previously reported has changed, therefore, today’s numbers have been adjusted. For health questions about COVID-19, call the hotline at 1-800-889-3931 or email dph.sick@illinois.gov.

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      


Welch appoints committee chairs, talks about future

Thursday, Jan 28, 2021

* I told subscribers about the new chairs early this morning, along with an interview of the new House Speaker…

Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch today announced the committees and chairperson or the 102nd General Assembly, including six new committees to work on pressing priorities facing Illinois residents during this time of crises.

“Illinois is facing a number of major challenges at once,” said Speaker Welch. “From the ensuring a robust economic recovery to undoing systemic racism, delivering on gender equity and women’s issues, and getting our fiscal house in order; we need committee leadership who know how to facilitate collaboration, bring forward bold ideas, get bills through committee, onto the House floor, and to the Governor’s desk for signature. I am confident this group of committee chairpersons will deliver for Illinois residents.”

By creating new special committees focused on ethics, housing, immigration, and restorative justice, Speaker Welch has organized the House to deliver the priorities front and center underserved communities across Illinois. These chairs are experienced leaders who know the intricacies of lawmaking and will work in consultation with Senate counterparts and the Governor’s office to make sure Illinois comes back as a stronger, more equitable state.

As a next step in this process, members will have the opportunity to indicate which committees they wish to be assigned to.

Additionally, after consultation with all member of both political parties, Speaker Welch determined to cancel the February 2-4, 9, 11, and 16-18 sessions of the House. Representatives will return to Springfield on Wednesday, February 10, 2021, for a one-day session to adopt House Rules for the 102nd General Assembly that will authorize of remote work and legislating for committees.

The February 10 session will be at the State Capitol, rather than the Bank of Springfield (BOS) Center. A system of rotating members between the chamber and their offices will be implemented to maintain social distancing. The BOS Center will be available as a backup option if chamber use is ultimately determined not yet feasible.

The full list of chairs is here. A memo to House Democrats from Welch is here. The likely remote committee schedule is, to me, the most interesting thing about that memo.

* Tribune

Newly inaugurated Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch has signaled some of his legislative priorities with the creation of special committees on ethics and elections, restorative justice, and housing and immigration.

“We want to continue to be the voice of the most vulnerable,” he said. “But I also think one of the things that we need to focus on is rebuilding trust in the legislature and the legislative process.”

Welch also canceled most scheduled House session days in February but did set one for Feb. 10, when representatives will vote on whether to allow them to work remotely. […]

Welch said one of his goals is to pass an ethics reform package before the General Assembly adjourns in May. The General Assembly in late 2019 created a 16-member commission to recommend changes to state ethics laws, and ethics were seen as a top legislative priority leading into the 2020 spring session.

* Um

Welch is breaking up the powerful Capitol (or appropriations) chair position so that the heads of various subject areas are in control of their budgets.

The Capital Approp Committee was created in 2019 because the state was on the verge of passing a massive capital plan. The House had six appropriations committees during the 101st General Assembly covering numerous state issue silos. It now has five. I do not understand how that sentence came to be.

* Sun-Times

Welch said the appointments are people who are experienced and “passionate about the job.”

“They’re knowledgeable,” the speaker told the Chicago Sun-Times. “They are people who I think will work well with people, and they’re gonna be able to hit the ground running after our rules are approved on Feb. 10. So, I’m excited. I don’t think anyone will be able to question the credentials and integrity of the people as they go through this list.” […]

Others, such as state Rep. Bob Rita will move up. The Blue Island Democrat will now lead the Executive Committee after serving as vice chair of that panel under Welch in the previous General Assembly. […]

The vice chairs and members on the House’s committees will be announced next week, Welch said.

Discuss.

…Adding… Back to Politico

And Rep. Kelly Cassidy, who felt there were too many questions about harassment allegations leveled at Welch earlier this month to support his speakership yet, was named chair of the Restorative Justice Committee (she previously headed Public Safety). Cassidy is now angling for a state Senate seat. […]

Rep. William Davis will head the Elementary Education Committee (a new position for him); Rep. Fred Crespo heads General Services

Rep. Cassidy recently chaired the Public Safety Appropriations Committee. Rep. Davis will head the Elementary & Sec Ed Appropriations Committee. He’s chaired an approp committee in the past. And Rep. Crespo will chair the General Services Appropriations Committee.

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      


Shaw, Tracy and Gryder to be interviewed for state GOP chair

Thursday, Jan 28, 2021

* Politico

GOP to name party chair: Members of the Republican State Central Committee will meet in Bloomington on Saturday to elect a new party chairman. There’s concern among some Republicans that the meeting is purposely being done in person in Bloomington, which is inaccessible to many, so as to keep the public out. GOP leaders will interview applicants Mark Shaw, the Lake County Republican chairman; Don Tracy, the former head of the Illinois Gaming Board in the Rauner administration; and Scott Gryder, an attorney from Kendall County.

* I checked in with the ILGOP…

It’s in Bolingbrook and always has been in Bolingbrook.

Well, they both start with a “B.”

I’m told the candidate interview names are correct, though, so let’s focus on that. Your thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      


As usual, Illinois finds itself in a pickle, but there are things that can be done if the courts approve

Thursday, Jan 28, 2021

* NPR

The timing for the second set of new census results — the detailed demographic data that state redistricting officials need to redraw voting districts — remains unclear. That information is normally delivered to the states by the end of March.

“You should not expect it prior to July 30,” [Kathleen Styles, the bureau’s chief of 2020 census communications and stakeholder relations] said.

The delay ratchets up the pressure for states that are facing their own series of legal deadlines for the redistricting process in order to hold elections this year or next.

* TPM

Even before Styles’ comments Wednesday, word had informally gotten out of the bureau and to redistricting experts that they should anticipate a late summer or early fall release date.

Some states took actions to extend their redistricting schedules once it became clear the pandemic could push back the data release. But several other states — such as Illinois, Connecticut, Vermont and Maine — still have deadlines on their books that now appear to be in jeopardy.

In addition to adjusting the deadlines for the maps themselves, states might also need to push back other deadlines on their electoral calendars, to give their map-drawers more breathing room to complete the redistricting process.

* Illinois’ redistricting deadline is in its Constitution, and changing it was not on the radar last spring. Here’s the relevant portion

In the year following each Federal decennial census year, the General Assembly by law shall redistrict the Legislative Districts and the Representative Districts.

If no redistricting plan becomes effective by June 30 of that year, a Legislative Redistricting Commission shall be constituted not later than July 10. The Commission shall consist of eight members, no more than four of whom shall be members of the same political party.

* The likely prospect of the June 30th deadline not being met has freaked certain people out and they’re jumping to immediate conclusions that could very well be wrong and should probably take a breath…


And

The delay could have serious implications for Democrats’ future hold on power and the 2022 elections. Redistricting maps, crafted once every ten years usually by the party in power, must be submitted no later than July 30 under the state’s constitution. Otherwise, mapmaking responsibilities fall to an eight-person, bipartisan commission that’s hand selected by the state’s four legislative leaders.

The prospects of a remap going to a bipartisan commission is looking likely, says Ryan Tolley, Policy Director at CHANGE Illinois, where he leads advocacy efforts for good government reform. A remap commission has only been convened four times since 1970, and they’ve typically been messy.

In three of those instances, the panel couldn’t agree to a plan and were forced to “randomly select the tiebreaker, either giving Democrats or Republicans control over the final map,” said Tolley.

* Shia is actually a voice of semi-reason in at least part of her story

Election attorney Michael Dorf expects House Democrats will have a workaround, using census estimates so it can meet the constitutional requirement to have a map drawn by June 30. “They know that the map will be challenged in the Supreme Court anyway. So they could have it drawn and by the time they’re in court, it could be adjusted based on the data,” he told Playbook.

Dorf is speaking from experience, having represented lawmakers whose districts have been rejiggered in a remap. Legal challenges can come from the opposing political party and from minority groups concerned that boundaries don’t allow for proper representation of their communities.

First off, there is this thing called the Senate. It’s not just all on the House. C’mon.

* OK, re-read that constitutional excerpt above. It doesn’t say that the General Assembly has to use the 2020 US Census data. It just says they have to draw a new redistricted map after a decennial census. They can conceivably pass a new map with old data or recent estimates and then, as Dorf says, draw another map down the road.

To avoid the three-fifths passage requirement if they can’t draw a map until after receiving the data after July 30th, they could pass some sort of cross-your-fingers stopgap, delay the 2022 primary into the summer and put off the map voting until January - if the courts go along. Or, they could just try to hold their super-majority votes together and get something done this summer.

But, of course, then there’s the whole Pritzker veto threat of a map that isn’t a “fair map,” so it’s not guaranteed to be done even if the courts play ball.

Also, while the new congressional maps aren’t subject to this state constitutional deadline, delaying next year’s primary would solve that particular problem.

Ain’t nothing ever easy in this state. Nothing.

…Adding… Somebody just pointed out this other big error in the Politico story…

If that deadline isn’t met, then a bipartisan committee must be formed. That would give Republicans a bigger say in a process that would otherwise be dominated by Democrats who hold huge margins in the chamber to determine how boundaries are drawn for state House and Senate seats, as well as for city and county elected seats.

Um, no. The General Assembly does not draw the boundaries for the Iroquois County Board, etc. That’s just ludicrous.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


First union endorsements in secretary of state race go to Giannoulias

Thursday, Jan 28, 2021

* I’ve been kinda snarky about Giannoulias’ bid so far, partly because it’s so darned early and he seemed to be trumpeting the picking of low-hanging fruit. He does have a long relationship with this particular union, so snagging the endorsement wasn’t a gigantic feat. But it’s the first labor nod of the year in what is shaping up to be a crowded race, so you gotta hand it to him

Former state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias won the backing of two local chapters of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union in what’s likely to be a heated race to replace outgoing Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White.

Locals No. 881 and 1546 of the food workers union, which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, threw their weight behind Giannoulias and vowed to play a “major role” in electing the former U.S. Senate candidate about 13 months before the March 2022 primary for secretary of state.

“Alexi is a longtime ally of working people and has a proven track record of getting the job done for middle-class families,” said Steve Powell, president of Local 881 and vice president of Illinois AFL-CIO. “During this critical time, Alexi brings an experienced and trusted voice that will strengthen the foundation of our movement. … Local 881 is poised to play a major role in the 2022 campaign and elect Alexi as Illinois’ next Secretary of State.”

Giannoulias has reported $397,700 in campaign contributions, including donations from Cinespace president Alex Pissios and Michael Sacks, an investor in the group that owns the Chicago Sun-Times.

* Those two locals are large and pretty influential and so is the International. They kicked in some cash, too…


Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      


Open thread

Thursday, Jan 28, 2021

* Please keep it strictly local and totally polite. Thanks!

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition and lots of other stuff

Thursday, Jan 28, 2021

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Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)

Thursday, Jan 28, 2021

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*** LIVE COVERAGE ***

Thursday, Jan 28, 2021

* Follow along with ScribbleLive


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Question of the day (and a little MJM story)

Wednesday, Jan 27, 2021

* CNN

Well-educated people with plenty of words at their disposal, a 2015 study found, were better at coming up with curse words than those who were less verbally fluent. […]

Science has also found a positive link between profanity and honesty. People who cursed lied less on an interpersonal level, and had higher levels of integrity overall, a series of three studies published in 2017 found. […]

Science has also found a positive link between profanity and honesty. People who cursed lied less on an interpersonal level, and had higher levels of integrity overall, a series of three studies published in 2017 found. […]

Profanity improves pain tolerance […]

Swearing appears to be centered in the right side of the brain, the part people often call the “creative brain.” […]

Why do we choose to swear? Perhaps because profanity provides an evolutionary advantage that can protect us from physical harm, Jay said.

I am the son of a son of a (Teamsters) truck driver. People who know me know that I’m quite prolific with swear words. I swear literally all the time. And I use that to my advantage in my job. I know exactly when somebody is comfortable talking to me when they casually drop an F-bomb in conversation.

I don’t allow those bad words here partially for business reasons and partially because my mom reads this blog and partially because I want people to elevate themselves. I don’t use those words in the subscriber edition, either.

OK, I did twice. Both were quotes from Speaker Madigan.

The first time was when Richard M. Daley was mayor and hizzoner was trying to pull off some stunt late in the session. Rick Pearson caught Madigan as he was entering the rear of the chamber and asked him what the mayor was up to. Madigan said something like “I have no f-ing clue.” I quoted him directly and caught a bit of flak for doing it.

Years later, Madigan took me aside one evening and said he wanted to make clear that he wasn’t, um, f-ing with the governor (I think it was Pat Quinn) on a specific thing (no recollection of what) and he asked me if I would write that to send the governor a message. I laughed, walked away and didn’t end up using the quote. The next time he saw me he asked what happened to his quote. I said I thought he was joking. He said he was serious and wanted me to use the exact quote, and then he repeated it. So I did the next morning. About half my subscriber emails bounced back because of the egregious word and I was told later that Mrs. Madigan scolded the Speaker for his vulgarity.

Heh.

* The Question: Without, of course, using any actual examples here, how often do you swear?

- Posted by Rich Miller   92 Comments      


*** UPDATED x3 *** Can someone please translate this for me?

Wednesday, Jan 27, 2021

* Last night…


* The governor was asked about Leader McConchie’s tweet today…

Well, I think Senator McConchie isn’t paying attention to the numbers. The real numbers are that we have separated out the number of doses that are necessary for all of our long-term care facilities. And that is taking time to roll out, that’s being done by a federal partnership. If you take all of those doses out and remove the number of second doses that have been delivered to the state of Illinois, for people who, when they are needed, will get them and therefore those are in storage as well, because their second doses, we are not even allowed to dip into those second doses, to give them out as first doses. When you take all of those out, actually, we’re doing quite well as a state at getting administration of vaccinations, putting them in people’s arms.

I can’t even follow that mess. A little help?

*** UPDATE 1 *** Jordan Abudayyeh called and during our little chat I asked if she’d just send me a coherent translation…

Looking at the total number delivered versus the total number administered fails to take into account the data lag between those two numbers. Deliveries to the state are reported immediately, but once a shot is administered providers have 72 hours to report that to the state and the CDC. There are also more than 500,000 doses in reserve for the pharmacy partnership for long term care facilities. Just yesterday, providers broke another record and reported administering more than 53,000 doses in one day.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Leader McConchie…

I’m actually paying very close attention to the numbers, which is why I questioned why Illinois is 44th out of 50 states in the percentage of the population that has received at least their first shot. The New York Times data clearly shows that we are far behind other states with large populations like Florida (ranked 9th) and New York (ranked 13th). Based on IDPH data, 49 percent of our COVID-19 deaths have been associated with long-term care facilities, yet only 22 percent of the total allocated doses for LTCs have been administered, despite being designated in Phase 1 A. Contrary to what the governor said today, I do not believe ‘we are actually doing quite well as a state’ in this area.

*** UPDATE 3 *** Back to Jordan…

All of the skilled nursing facilities have been visited as part of the federal pharmacy program; the partners completed that phase Monday. Skilled nursing facilities are where 90% of the deaths at long term care facilities take place. The federal partnership has moved on to assisted living facilities now.

* Related…

* Pritzker, CVS/Walgreens Point Fingers Over Long-Term Care Facility Vaccine Program

- Posted by Rich Miller   54 Comments      


Suicides declined again in Illinois during the first nine months of 2020

Wednesday, Jan 27, 2021

* We’ve seen a lot of chatter online lately about teen suicides. So I asked the Pritzker administration a while back for some numbers and they compiled the latest data from the counties and I’m a bit late presenting it to you. Sorry.

Click the pic for a larger image

So, teen suicides were up last year compared to 2019, when most demographics saw significant declines, but they’re down compared to 2018. Note, however, the rise in Black suicides.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Another process kerfuffle

Wednesday, Jan 27, 2021

* Credit to Rep. Cassidy for participating in this event, even though the sponsors (the local Indivisible chapter) are openly hostile to her state Senate appointment bid

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy and two others interested in the appointment to outgoing state Sen. Heather Steans’ legislative seat laid out their resumes and fielded questions from constituents Tuesday evening at a virtual meeting hosted by a group that has raised concerns that the selection process shuts out voters. […]

As Democratic committeeperson for the 49th Ward, Cassidy is one of the nine members of the Cook County Democratic Party who will ultimately decide who gets the appointment Cassidy and Simmons are seeking and Koziatek is considering.

“This process isn’t perfect. I don’t know that there would be a perfect one or could be a perfect one,” Cassidy said. “But the committeepeople in the North Side have, for years, worked to go way beyond what the, I believe, intentionally vague state law on filling vacancies permits. This is not a smoke-filled room, and none of the other forums I’ve heard about so far will be either, but we can lead and set an example of doing better.” […]

On Sunday, Ald. Harry Osterman, who also represents the 48th Ward as its Democratic committeeperson and has the largest share of the weighted vote, said he plans to convene the nine committeepeople for an open forum at 1 p.m. on Feb. 6 at the Swedish American Museum, though the meeting will be conducted via videoconference.

“We’re trying to do this in an open, fair, transparent process,” Osterman told the Chicago Sun-Times Sunday. “I think that’s really important for us, I think our constituents expect that, and that’s what we’re committed to.”

* Chicago Magazine

Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth, the group’s co-founder, said its campaign has been called “naive” and “unfortunate” by local politicians who gained their offices through this system. But, she argues, the last Far North Side state senator who was fairly chosen by the voters was Arthur Berman.

That was in 1976.

Sen. Berman served until 2000. He quit and Rep. Carol Ronen was appointed to his seat. But she quit in time to allow for a contested primary in 2009, which was overwhelmingly won by Steans. Also, Steans wasn’t even opposed last year in the primary.

* Politico

This process of stepping away from your elected position so a small political committee can replace you seems pretty consistent with machine-style politics. So it’s ironic that Steans and Cassidy are enmeshed in it. They were outspoken critics of former House Speaker Michael Madigan, who was a master at such maneuvering.

Some politicos have a greater concern. They worry minorities are being shut out of elected positions. Steans and Cassidy’s seats encompass the Rogers Park community, which is majority minority. Cassidy is white.

1) Most Chicago wards are bigger than most Downstate towns.

2) Cassidy was initially appointed to her House seat, so I’m not sure I see the irony here.

3) Chicago and Cook County committeepersons are elected by primary participants. Outside Cook, county party chairs make the appointment decisions and they’re not directly elected.

4) During the last census, the Senate district was about 17 percent African-American, 17 percent Hispanic, 17 percent Asian-American and 53 percent white. It’s not all about Rogers Park, no matter how much that Indivisible chapter may want to make it so.

* Look, if people want to change the law to allow for special elections, then fine. Give it a go. Get a bill introduced for starters and then actually work it.

But stop stretching the truth and be careful what you wish for because special elections cost real money and are generally low-turnout affairs that can be more easily controlled by the people who pay attention to these things and know how to run campaigns. You know, the sort of people who don’t spend their entire days on Twitter.

In other words, the heavens aren’t automatically going to open and unicorns won’t fall out of the sky if we switch to special elections for vacancies.

*** UPDATE *** As if on cue…

On Tuesday, January 26th, the 48th Legislative District Committee met to select the finalists for interviews to fill the vacancy in nomination after State Senator Andy Manar resigned his seat in the Illinois Senate. Interviews will be conducted on Saturday, January 30th. On Saturday, February 6th, the 48th Legislative District Committee will meet again to discuss & vote on the appointment. Time and location for the vote will be advised.

Applicants were asked to submit a resume or biography, detailed statement describing their involvement within the Democratic Party, detailed statement regarding their electability & vision for the 48th State Senate District, and a headshot. Applications had to be submitted by Monday, January 25th at 5pm. Applicants must be at least 21 years of age, a resident of the 48th State Senate District for at least two years & be a Democrat in good standing.

Finalists for the 48th State Senate Appointment include:

    Lisa Badger, Springfield Park Board Member
    Shad Edwards, retired Illinois State Police
    Frank McNeil, former Springfield Alderman
    Doris Turner, Springfield Ward 3 Alderwoman
    Roberta Vojas, Macoupin County Board Member
    Ruth Waller, Macon County State’s Attorney’s office
    Chase Wilhelm, previous candidate for State Representative (IL 95th)
    Julie Moore Wolfe, Mayor of Decatur

The 48th State Senate District includes a large section of central Illinois, stretching from the east side of Springfield to Decatur then heading south to include Christian and Montgomery Counties and portions of Macoupin and northern Madison Counties. A map of the 48th State Senate District can be found at http://senatorandymanar.com/48th-district/map.

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      


3,751 new confirmed and probable cases; 81 additional deaths; 2,931 hospitalized; 591 in the ICU; 4.5 percent average case positivity rate; 5.6 percent average test positivity rate; 33,698 average daily doses

Wednesday, Jan 27, 2021

* Press release…

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today reported 3,751 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 81 additional deaths.

    - Adams County: 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s, 1 male 90s
    - Cass County: 1 male 80s
    - Clark County: 1 male 80s
    - Cook County: 1 male 30s, 1 female 40s, 1 male 40s, 1 male 50s, 1 female 60s, 3 males 60s, 2 females 70s, 4 males 70s, 1 female 80s, 3 males 80s, 3 females 90s, 1 male 90s
    - DeKalb County: 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s, 1 male 100+
    - DuPage County: 1 female 80s, 1 female 90s, 1 male 90s
    - Grundy County: 1 male 70s
    - Hancock County: 1 female 90s
    - Hardin County: 1 male 90s
    - Henry County: 1 female 70s
    - Jefferson County: 2 males 70s
    - Kane County: 1 female 40s, 1 female 90s
    - Kendall County: 1 male 70s
    - Knox County: 1 male 50s
    - Lake County: 2 female 90s
    - LaSalle County: 2 males 70s
    - Livingston County: 1 male 80s
    - Logan County: 1 female 80s
    - Madison County: 1 male 60s, 1 male 70s, 1 female 80s, 1 male 90s
    - McHenry County: 1 female 50s, 1 male 60s
    - McLean County: 1 female 90s, 1 male 90s
    - Montgomery County: 1 female 50s, 1 female 80s
    - Ogle County: 1 male 80s
    - Saline County: 1 female 90s
    - Sangamon County: 1 male 70s, 1 male 80s, 1 female 90s
    - St. Clair County: 3 females 70s, 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s
    - Stark County: 1 female 80s
    - Stephenson County: 1 female 90s
    - Tazewell County: 1 female 80s
    - Vermilion County: 1 female 90s
    - Wayne County: 1 male 60s
    - Will County: 2 males 70s, 2 males 80s
    - Williamson County: 1 female 80s
    - Winnebago County: 1 male 70s, 1 male 90s

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 1,112,181 cases, including 18,964 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 80,124 specimens for a total 15,633,443. As of last night, 2,931 in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 591 patients were in the ICU and 300 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from January 20–26, 2021 is 4.5%. The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity from January 20–26, 2021 is 5.6%.

A total of 1,253,300 doses of vaccine have been delivered to providers in Illinois, including Chicago. In addition, approximately 537,050 doses total have been allocated to the federal government’s Pharmacy Partnership Program for long-term care facilities. This brings the total Illinois doses to 1,790,350. IDPH is currently reporting a total of 773,623 vaccines administered, including 117,983 for long-term care facilities. Yesterday, a total of 53,628 doses were administered. The 7-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 33,698 doses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is adjusting the number of doses per vial of Pfizer vaccine. Initially, each vial of Pfizer vaccine was counted as having five doses. However, it has since been found that the vials contain six doses. Therefore, the CDC is adjusting the number of doses of vaccine that have been made available. Each box of Pfizer vaccine containing 195 vials and was considered to contain 975 doses. Now, each box of 195 vial will be counted as containing 1,170 doses.

*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. Information for deaths previously reported has changed, therefore, today’s numbers have been adjusted. For health questions about COVID-19, call the hotline at 1-800-889-3931 or email dph.sick@illinois.gov.

- Posted by Rich Miller   3 Comments      


Just saying, but 2022 petitions can be circulated in 216 days

Wednesday, Jan 27, 2021

* When I read this the other day, I thought of the governor’s massive and complicated 2019 legislative agenda that is still not yet implemented and the myriad issues brought to fore by the pandemic…


* As I told subscribers earlier today, this anger about IDES is not at all confined to Republican legislators

Illinois legislators are still struggling to get ahold of the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), while subsequently thousands of Illinoisans are still waiting in the callback queue.

State Sen. Steve McClure, R-Springfield, said he has tried everything he can to get ahold of IDES, but after weeks of calling, he never got a response.

McClure said he called the legislative liaison, the department, and even the governor’s liaison, but no one ever got back to him.

So, in a last ditch effort on Tuesday, Jan. 26, he went down to both IDES offices in Springfield to see if someone would talk to him, but they said no one in the office is qualified to do so.

* Another bone of contention with cranky legislators

After being stifled by the coronavirus outbreak and a series of lawsuits from jilted applicants, state officials confirmed Tuesday that the process for issuing the next round of highly sought-after cannabis licenses is again moving forward.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture issued the latest round of notices detailing specific problems that hopefuls for the upcoming craft cultivation, infusion and transportation licenses can remedy in their applications. Similar notices will also be sent “in the coming days” to applicants who didn’t initially qualify for an upcoming lottery to determine the winners of the next 75 lucrative dispensary licenses, according to Charity Greene, a spokeswoman for Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office.

The move follows months of delays and criticism from applicants of color who have lambasted the governor and other officials for allegedly falling short of their goal of diversifying the state’s overwhelmingly white weed industry.

Long way to go, but this is at least a start (or restart, as the case may be). Even Rickey Hendon is quoted as saying something favorable.

* Legislators in both parties have been getting lots of calls from angry constituents who can’t obtain a vaccine and at least some members are blaming the governor, so this may help

With Illinois in the first week of ramping up its COVID-19 immunization effort to include elderly residents and “essential” workers, state officials on Tuesday were told to expect a welcome boost in vaccine shipments.

In a phone call with the nation’s governors, including Gov. J.B. Pritzker, the Biden administration pledged to increase vaccine shipments to all 50 states starting next week, Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said in a statement.

(According to the Illinois State Board of Elections, 2022 nominating petitions can be circulated on August 31st.)

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


On final day of Trump administration, HHS started probe of Illinois abortion law

Wednesday, Jan 27, 2021

* Fox News

The Health and Human Services (HHS) Department opened an investigation into whether Illinois violated federal law by discriminating against insurers that excluded or limited coverage for abortions.

Under the Weldon Amendment, federally funded governments are prohibited from discriminating against those insurers. The Thomas More Society, a conservative legal nonprofit, announced Tuesday that HHS had notified them of the investigation in a letter sent just before President Biden’s inauguration.

Sent by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) deputy director Luis Perez, the letter read: “OCR is investigating whether the state of Illinois, through its Department of Insurance and Department of Central Management Services, is discriminating against health plan issuers and plans that would offer health coverage that limited or excluded abortion coverage but for the Reproductive Health Act.”

Illinois’ Reproductive Health Act requires private insurers to cover abortion. It’s unclear how the investigation will proceed under Biden’s leadership, but it resembled a similar investigation HHS undertook that ultimately resulted in threatening to revoke Medicaid funding for California.

* Thomas More Society press release…

“This Illinois law requires health insurance policies to cover elective chemical and surgical abortions,” explained Thomas More Society attorney Michael McHale. “It compels businesses and individuals to pay for even late term abortion coverage and offers no religious exemptions. This is a violation of the federal Weldon Amendment.”

The Weldon Amendment ensures that federal appropriations by the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education may not be issued to any government that discriminates against a “health care entity,” including an insurance plan sponsor, on the basis that it does not provide health insurance coverage of abortion.

“This abortion-coverage mandate is a blatant violation of the religious and conscience rights of many who live or work in Illinois,” added McHale. “And it forces exactly what the Weldon Amendment prohibits. Under federal law, Illinois cannot compel those like Dr. Mantoan or the Thomas More Society who do not believe in paying for abortions to either pay for abortion coverage or drop our insurance. Doing so will require Illinois to forfeit federal funding for essential programs such as Medicaid.”

“We are pleased that the Office for Civil Rights has taken our complaint seriously,” declared McHale. “Federal law clearly prohibits this brazen attempt to encroach upon our conscience rights. We await federal intervention to halt this illegal mandate.”

* Annie Thompson at the Illinois attorney general’s office…

We were notified – on the final day of the Trump administration – of the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights’ intention to investigate complaints filed by the Thomas More Society. In the event that the new administration follows through on this 11th hour attempt to undermine access to reproductive care in Illinois, Attorney General Raoul is committed to defending Illinois’ Reproductive Health Act.

* Jordan Abudayyeh at the governor’s office…

This sham complaint is a last ditch effort by the Trump administration to deny women their rights. The Governor’s Office will work with the Attorney General to respond appropriately, and in the meantime we look forward to working with the Biden administration to ensure women’s rights and access to healthcare are protected.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      


Republican politician claims state mitigations may have made death rate worse

Wednesday, Jan 27, 2021

* Center Square

An Illinois state representative says data and science show Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s COVID-19 mitigation, which was among the strictest in the nation, may have made the death rate worse in Illinois compared to neighboring states that had fewer economic restrictions. […]

Illinois state Rep. Tony McCombie’s district is on the border with both Iowa and Wisconsin, which ranked No. 3 and No. 8 respectively for least strict states by WalletHub. McCombie said for months consumers have been going to neighboring states’ restaurants and other businesses, including herself.

“We were going over there if someone wanted to go for a cocktail or if they wanted to go for a meal, or if they wanted to go shopping, consumers will find a way and they did,” McCombie said.

She said based on numbers she’s reviewed, the more strict restrictions in Illinois haven’t helped the state’s COVID-19 death rate compared to neighboring states.

The CDC pegs the Wisconsin COVID-19 death rate at 106 per 100,000. WalletHub ranked Wisconsin eighth least restrictive on COVID-19 mitigation. Iowa, ranked by WalletHub at No. 3 least restrictive, had 148 deaths per 100,000. Illinois’ COVID-19 death rate was 163 per 100,000.

McCombie, who’s Illinois district borders both Iowa and Wisconsin, said it doesn’t appear the governor’s mitigation in Illinois did any good.

“Wisconsin is ranked 8 compared to Illinois’ 42, so it just shows you that the increase of restrictions did not do what the intention was,” McCombie said.

Um, OK. So when the Chicago area was being absolutely slammed with a deadly virus, the state should have literally done nothing? And what would’ve happened everywhere else if Chicago had continued to party on, Garth?

* Back to the story

When comparing Illinois with neighboring states for total cases per 100,000, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin surpassed Illinois.

That would be in large part because the virus didn’t slam those states early and doctors and scientists learned how to treat it a bit better.

* One more

Another indicator of the impacts stricter mitigations are having on Illinois compared to neighboring states is the unemployment rate. Illinois’ unemployment rate is 7.6. That’s more than double Iowa’s unemployment rate of 3.1 percent and higher than all neighboring states.

Every study I’ve seen says the virus itself is causing people to avoid public facilities. And Iowa isn’t exactly an international hub for huge conventions, etc.

Is Rep. McCombie running for president of Facebook Comment Land or something?

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Goodbye begins to JRTC

Wednesday, Jan 27, 2021

* Greg Hinz

The state of Illinois has bought a West Loop office building, a move that ought to erase any doubt it soon will fully vacate the historic but dilapidated James R. Thompson Center downtown.

In a deal being announced this morning, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office says the state has closed on the $73.3 million purchase of 555 W. Monroe, the former home of PepsiCo. The 18-year-old structure has 430,000 square feet of office space and has green certification for energy efficiency.

More than 1,000—and potentially 1,400—of the 3,500 state workers now based in downtown Chicago eventually will relocate to the new facility, starting in April, according to Ayse Kalaycioglu, chief operating officer of the Illinois Department of Central Management Services, which manages the state’s real estate needs.

About 900 of the employees moving to 555 W. Monroe will be coming from the Thompson Center, leaving 1,300 in the structure named after the named the former governor who championed its construction and mourned its declining fortunes. But they won’t be there long, said Kalaycioglu and Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes in an interview late yesterday.

* Dan Petrella

“As part of our analysis, it became readily apparent that we’re spending an inordinate amount of money on leasing costs,” said Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s top fiscal adviser.

Once those leases are terminated, the state will save $21.3 million annually in rent and operating costs. The purchase of the Monroe Street building will be funded with capital bonds, repaid over 25 years at a rate of $5 million to $6 million annually, Hynes said.

The existing leases expire between this year and 2024, with some, including three that will be terminated this year, giving the state an early out with no penalty, Pritzker spokesman Jose Sanchez Molina said.

While the state has 3,500 employees between the Thompson Center and the leased offices, officials determined that only about 900 actually need to be in the Loop, either because of requirements in state law or due to the nature of their work, said Ayse Kalaycioglu, chief operating officer for the Illinois Department of Central Management Services.

*** UPDATE *** Press release…

Governor JB Pritzker today announced the State of Illinois has acquired 555 West Monroe in Chicago’s West Loop for a purchase price of $73.25 million, with annual savings that will more than pay for the building. Eventually, the State will relocate over 1,000 employees to 555, including employees who work in nearby leased facilities as well as those who are currently at the James R. Thompson Center but don’t need to be downtown.

“The acquisition of 555 West Monroe is an important step in our effort to optimize the State’s real estate portfolio, reduce operating expenses, and enhance workforce and workplace performance,” Governor JB Pritzker said. “Since I took office, I’ve been focused on making sure that we manage our assets efficiently and maximize taxpayer savings. This building pays for itself because we’re terminating a patchwork of expensive downtown leases.”

The State leases office space in seven properties in the loop, at a cost of $21.3 million in base rent and operating costs and will continue to seek consolidation opportunities into State-owned real estate.

The acquisition of the building represents the next phase of the State’ review and restructuring of its real estate portfolio. In Phase 1, Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS) met with all of the agencies located in downtown Chicago to understand their physical space and geographic location requirements. This was done through the lens of our new space standards, effective as of September 1st, 2020, which more closely reflect current best practices. Through this lens, CMS found that our real estate footprint could be reduced by approximately 30 percent.

As part of this analysis, CMS determined that of the state employees located in downtown Chicago, approximately 2,200 employees at the Thompson Center and 1,300 employees in leased facilities, only about 900 employees require a Loop location. The remainder of the employees can be located elsewhere.

In Phase 2, CMS developed relocation scenarios, performed a financial analysis for the commercial real estate market, identified properties with large, contiguous space, and ultimately acquired 555 West Monroe. The final Phase will include the sale of the Thompson Center.

Due to prolonged deferred maintenance and delayed capital projects, it is estimated that the cost to bring the Thompson Center into a state of good repair exceeds $325M and is projected to increase to over $525M by 2026. The facility is costly to operate with annual operating expenses exceeding $17 million and is the subject of employee dissatisfaction as a result of its design flaws. By selling the oversized, outdated and expensive facility, the State can relocate its core services to more appropriate and efficient replacement spaces. This strategic relocation effort will reduce operating costs, increase productivity, and better serve constituents.

555 was constructed in 2002 and designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. It previously served as a regional office for a Fortune 100 company. In 2008, it achieved LEED Silver for Existing Building certification. LEED or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, was created by the U.S. Green Building Council and is an internationally recognized green building certification system to ensure it was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving energy usage, indoor air quality, water efficiency, and selecting building materials that protect our natural resources. By comparison, 555’s annual operating expenses are approximately $10.80 per square foot.

CMS has been reviewing its downtown Chicago real estate portfolio to identify opportunities for efficiency improvements, space consolidation, and other strategies that produce real savings while maintaining a productive workforce.

“This purchase will provide significant operational savings while providing a state-of-the-art location that meets the specific needs of our operations”, said Director of CMS Janel L. Forde.

The State also saved approximately $2.6 million on the purchase by making the acquisition without a broker.

555 is a 429,316 rentable square foot building that includes many attributes that are suitable for State operations. The building is situated in a transit-oriented location, proximate to Union Station and Oglivie Transportation Center and walking distance to Chicago Transit Authority train stations. Unlike many older commercial office buildings, 555 West Monroe is well designed with efficient floor layouts and modern building systems. The existing layouts, as constructed and furnished, are well suited to immediately re-use by the State. Offices are positioned as adjacent to the building center and workstations flank the perimeter affording all occupants daylighting and views. The building has been designed to incorporate modern security protocols including entry lobby turnstile access controls as well as programmable proximity reader access controls on each floor. Operational enhancements, including existing data center, mailroom, and loading dock, are well maintained. Workstations, furniture, select equipment are all included in the acquisition cost.

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