Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » 2021 » December
SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      About     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact Rich Miller
To subscribe to Capitol Fax, click here.
*** UPDATED x1 *** AFSCME loses vax arbitration case; Pritzker and IHA urge hospitals to expand bed capacity

Thursday, Dec 30, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

[Comments are now open.]]

* As expected…

Building on efforts to protect state employees and people in the State’s care or custody from the threat of COVID-19, Governor JB Pritzker today announced that the Arbitrator in the State’s Vaccine Mandate Interest Arbitration determined that the State can and should require vaccinations for Illinois Department of Correction (IDOC) guards and Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ) staff

This decision will ensure employees in State Correctional Centers and Juvenile Justice facilities are protected with the COVID-19 vaccines. Employees subject to this decision will be required to get their first shot by January 31, 2022 unless they are approved for a religious or medical exemption.

“The recent surge of cases brought on by the Omicron variant has brought a serious threat to our state, and I’m glad that this ruling will protect nearly 10,000 state workers and all of the people at these facilities,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Protecting the health and safety of workers and residents across the state remains a top priority for my administration and I look forward to continued discussions with our labor partners as we move forward with the task of keeping our employees and residents of our congregate facilities safe.””

Vaccination is the key to ending the COVID-19 pandemic. All Illinois residents over the age of 5 are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost and proof of immigration status is not required to receive the vaccine.

The administration has taken extensive measures to make the COVID-19 vaccine equitable and accessible. Governor JB Pritzker recently directed the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) to enhance its partnerships with local health department mass vaccination operations throughout the state to help meet the growing demand for the COVID-19 vaccine booster.

Individuals can visit to find a nearby location to receive a vaccine or booster dose. Testing locations can be found at, including information on the days and hours for free Community-based Testing Sites.

* Meanwhile…

To prepare for a likely surge of post-holiday Omicron COVID-19 cases and to prepare for a potential shortage of staffed ICU beds, Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Health and Hospital Association are urging hospitals to take every possible measure to maintain and expand bed capacity, including postponing non-emergency surgeries and other procedures as needed and without risking patient harm.

The state and hospitals throughout Illinois are continuing to work in concert to prevent the state’s healthcare infrastructure from being overwhelmed by the ongoing Omicron variant surge of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. By working closely together over the course of this pandemic, this partnership has prevented Illinois from exceeding capacity, unlike other states.

Throughout Illinois, hospital admissions are rapidly increasing, further diminishing ICU bed capacity. Holiday gatherings are anticipated to drive an increase in the coming weeks, placing an additional strain on Illinois’ hospitals and healthcare workers.

In particular, hospitals should continue to follow the Illinois Department of Public Health’s guidance on when to consider postponing elective surgeries and procedures that physicians believe can be rescheduled without risking patient harm. Some hospitals have already delayed non-emergent procedures to increase capacity, and the Governor and hospital leaders urge all hospitals to take needed steps to ensure sufficient capacity in the coming weeks.

“We are preparing for a continuing post-holiday surge, and with hospital staff already working so hard, I appreciate the work hospital leadership is doing to assure capacity, including postponing non-emergency surgeries and procedures to ensure their ability to handle serious COVID cases and other emergencies without putting patients at risk,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “To all Illinoisans: please understand that the nation is experiencing high COVID transmission rates, and some surgeries in Illinois will be postponed. We’re asking our residents to temporarily hold off on important medical care like tonsillectomies, bariatric surgeries and hernia repair. As we work to keep ICU beds open, I continue to applaud the efforts of our hospitals and healthcare workers across the state, who have been heroes for us all.”

“We are currently seeing approximately 500 new admissions a day to Illinois hospitals due to COVID-19, and approximately 90% of those are unvaccinated,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “There is a health care worker shortage in Illinois, in the U.S., and across the world. We’re seeing health care workers leave the profession because they are burnt out after watching people suffer severe illness and even death for almost two years now. We want to make sure that there is a hospital bed available for anyone for any reason - cancer complications, appendicitis, stroke, heart attack, car crash, or COVID-19. Please get vaccinated and get boosted, for all of us.”

With the Governor’s encouragement, hospital leaders continue implementing other strategies to further free up availability in Illinois hospitals. This includes utilizing telehealth technology, reallocating staff resources, and expanding ICU capacity. In an effort to increase staffing to ensure care is available, the Governor has already extended state waivers to allow out-of-state healthcare professionals to work in Illinois. The State of Illinois has invited hospitals to participate in its staffing contract so that they can bring in additional available staff when needed to ensure capacity to treat COVID-19 patients. The Governor also supports hospitals and healthcare facilities that choose to implement new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance accelerating return-to-work timeframes. The Pritzker administration is also working with Illinois’ federal partners, seeking federal assistance to address healthcare staffing shortages.

However, healthcare experts emphasize that getting vaccinated, boosted and following recommended social distancing and masking guidelines remains critical.

“Hospitals continue to be on the front line of this fight, and are doing everything in their power to maintain access to healthcare for all patients. But we need your help. Wear a mask. Social distance. Avoid large gatherings. And please get vaccinated and boosted. Vaccination remains the best way to prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death,” said Karen Teitelbaum, President and CEO of Sinai Chicago Health System and Chair of the IHA Board of Trustees.

“I want to thank Governor Pritzker for his continued partnership and collaboration with the hospital community during this pandemic. The overwhelming majority of the 5,000 COVID patients currently in our hospitals are unvaccinated. Hospitals cannot end this pandemic on their own. They need the continuing help and support of the public,” said AJ Wilhelmi, President and CEO of the IHA. “The best way to support your hospitals is to get vaccinated.”

Ted Rogalski, Administrator at Genesis Medical Center in Aledo and incoming 2022 Chair of IHA’s Board of Trustees, appealed to the public.

“Healthcare workers need your help,” Rogalski said. “This pandemic has taken a mental and physical toll on those who see the worst side of this virus every day. They are exhausted, but still standing tall. Please support your community healthcare workers and all frontline responders by taking all precautions to prevent sickness.”

*** UPDATE *** From Council 31’s website

On December 29 Arbitrator Edwin Benn ruled against AFSCME members in the interest arbitration regarding the State’s plan to require COVID vaccinations for employees in IDOC and IDJJ (see below). AFSCME had invoked the right of security employees to interest arbitration when the State broke off negotiations with the Union over the mandate and was prepared to unilaterally implement its terms.

In the arbitration, as at the bargaining table, AFSCME opposed the State’s rigid vaccine mandate, arguing that employees who do not wish to be vaccinated should have the option of testing weekly for COVID—a protocol in place for all school districts in the state. Benn did not agree and instead affirmed the State’s position that a crisis exists that requires the most robust possible response. He set January 31 as the date by which employees must receive a first vaccination shot.

Interest arbitration relies on a tripartite panel which in this instance includes the neutral arbitrator (Edwin Benn) who serves as chair; a union representative (Ed Caumiant, AFSCME Council 31 Regional Director) and an employer representative (Ed Jackson, DHS Labor Relations). The panel effectively functions as a sole arbitrator, since the employer and the union panel members invariably vote in opposition to each other, leaving the neutral arbitrator to be the deciding vote. The AFSCME representative on the panel has filed a formal dissent from the decision at the Labor Board (see below).

The arbitrator’s initial ruling only pertained to the core question of whether the mandate could proceed. He remanded all related issues—e.g. time off for COVID-related quarantines—to the parties to resolve by January 7. He retained jurisdiction to rule on any outstanding issues that cannot be resolved within that timeframe.


Hospitalizations up 33 percent from a week ago, nearing all-time high

Thursday, Dec 30, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

[Comments are now open.]

* In November of 2020, Illinois hit its all time peak of 6,175 covid hospitalizations. If you’re keeping track, we’re only 486 away from that number right now…

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today reported 128,246 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including an increase of 386 deaths since December 23, 2021.

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 2,149,548 cases, including 27,821 deaths, in 102 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years. Since Thursday, December 23, 2021, laboratories have reported 1,260,179 specimens for a total of 44,469,630. As of last night, 5,689 individuals in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 1,010 patients were in the ICU and 565 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from December 23-29, 2021 is 10.2%. The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity from December 23-29, 2021 is 14.4%.

A total of 19,176,277 vaccines have been administered in Illinois as of last midnight. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 46,046 doses. Since Thursday, December 23, 2021, 322,324 doses were reported administered in Illinois. Of Illinois’ total population, more than 72% has received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and more than 64% of Illinois’ total population is fully vaccinated according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

All data are provisional and will change. Additional information and COVID-19 data can be found at

Vaccination is the key to ending this pandemic. To find a COVID-19 vaccination location near you, go to

Also in November of 2020, ICU usaged peaked at 1,224, so we’re not too far away from that, either.

* Related…

* Illinois Department of Public Health Adopts CDC Recommendations for Isolation and Quarantine


Three-judge federal appellate panel upholds Democrats’ legislative remap plan

Thursday, Dec 30, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

[Comments are now open.]

* Click here for the full opinion

Plaintiffs in these three consolidated cases, McConchie, Contreras, and East St. Louis NAACP, challenge Illinois’ legislative redistricting map1 and ask this Court to order alterations that would create additional districts featuring majorities of either Latino or Black voters. All Plaintiffs bring statutory claims, arguing that the redistricting map impermissibly dilutes minority votes in violation of § 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 52 U.S.C. § 10301, et seq. Contreras and East St. Louis NAACP Plaintiffs also present constitutional claims, contending that several legislative districts were racially gerrymandered in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.

On § 2 Voting Rights Act claims, the Supreme Court has admonished that “[f]ailure to maximize cannot be the measure of § 2” because “reading § 2 to define dilution as any failure to maximize tends to obscure the very object of the statute and to run counter to its textually stated purpose.” Johnson v. De Grandy, 512 U.S. 997, 1016–17 (1994). Nearly three decades later, those principles animate this Court’s analysis of these three challenges to Illinois’ legislative redistricting map. Many of Plaintiffs’ proposed districts barely surpass the 50% mark. For all but one of the districts in SB 927, Latino voters maintain a census voting age population of 42.7% or higher, which Legislative Defendants insist allow for additional opportunities to form coalitions with voters of other races to elect their candidate of choice, enhancing the overall political power of Latinos in Illinois.

In light of these figures, these three cases are not about “the chance for some electoral success in place of none.” Johnson, 512 U.S. at 1012–13. Rather, for many of the challenged districts, these cases are about “the chance for more success in place of some.” Id. at 1013. This disagreement also reflects competing views about how to guarantee Latino and Black voters, in their respective districts, equal opportunity to elect their candidate of choice when minority voters could form different permutations of majority-minority, coalition, and opportunity districts.

Although there is debate about how to achieve the guarantees of the Voting Rights Act, one thing is clear: A federal court is not the arbiter of that dispute unless Plaintiffs carry their burden to prove that an elected legislature’s approach violates the law. […]

As to the constitutional claims, Contreras Plaintiffs allege that House District (“HD” or “House District”) 21 and Senate District (“SD” or “Senate District”) 11 constitute racial gerrymanders, and East St. Louis NAACP Plaintiffs allege the same for HD 114. But neither set of Plaintiffs has proved that race predominated in the configuration of any of the challenged districts. Indeed, the record could not be more clear that partisan politics—a legally acceptable criterion—controlled that decision. The second part of this opinion lays out our evaluation of those constitutional claims.

For the reasons that follow, we uphold the General Assembly’s redistricting map under SB 927 and reject in full all three Plaintiffs’ remedial proposals, denying Plaintiffs any further injunctive or declaratory relief.

…Adding… Press release…

House Speaker and Senate President Statement on Federal Court Decision to Uphold Fair Map

“From the beginning we have been guided by the goal of creating a fair map that recognizes the true diversity of the people of this great state. We appreciate that the court recognized and affirmed our efforts to ensure all communities across Illinois receive equal representation,” said House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch and Illinois Senate President Don Harmon.

We would like to thank Chairs Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez and Sen. Omar Aquino, Vice Chairs Rep. Curtis Tarver and Sen. Elgie Sims and the bipartisan Redistricting Committees for their work, as well as members of the public who offered testimony and insight throughout this redistricting process.”

* And…

Leader Hernandez’s Statement Regarding Federal Court Decision on Legislative Map

“From the beginning of this redistricting process, we have sought to reflect the diversity of this great state. Today’s ruling confirms that our map is constitutional, adheres to the Voting Rights Act and preserves Illinois’ reputation as a model for the nation when it comes to minority representation,” said Rep. Lisa Hernandez, Chair of the House Redistricting Committee. “I want to thank our bipartisan Redistricting Committee, community organizers, advocacy groups and the general public for their participation in this long but important process.”

…Adding… From the plaintiffs…

“This ruling is a disappointment, but that does not mean we will ever stop fighting for independent maps in Illinois,” said Illinois Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods). “While we didn’t get the outcome we believe the people of Illinois deserve, the fact remains that Gov. Pritzker and his cronies broke their promises and failed Illinois families.

“It didn’t have to be this way. Gov. Pritzker could have kept his promise to support independent redistricting, but instead signed a map that was ruled unconstitutional and another that was opposed by voting rights groups throughout Illinois. Gov. Pritzker and his Democratic allies have made their allegiance clear: they are more committed to protecting the same political insiders who have been wrecking our state for decades than defending voting rights in Illinois.”


“We are disappointed at the three-judge court’s decision today,” MALDEF President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz said in a statement. “In particular, we believe that the court reached conclusions about the extent of crossover voting by non-Latinos to support Latino-supported candidates that are not accurate under the law. Nonetheless, the legislatively-drawn districts will be in effect as a result of today’s decision, and MALDEF will be carefully monitoring electoral outcomes in the districts we have challenged.” […]

MALDEF staff attorney Ernest Herrera said the decision means Latino voters will continue to be underrepresented in Springfield.

“The Court unfortunately agreed with Illinois’s legislative leaders that their map was just good enough for Latino voters for technical reasons, despite the facts that Latinos remain underrepresented in the General Assembly and continue to be left behind in education, housing access, healthcare, and income,” Herrera said in a statement. “Rather than provide Latinos equal opportunity to choose candidates who best represents their interests, today’s decision signals to the Latinos of Illinois that they remain significantly dependent on the purported munificence of the current majority political party.”

  1 Comment      

House, Senate will meet Wednesday, but cancel next Tuesday and Thursday session dates, following week “likely to be canceled”

Thursday, Dec 30, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

[Comments are now open.]

* From House Speaker Chris Welch’s chief of staff Tiffany Moy…


I hope everyone is having a nice holiday break and that you and your families are healthy and well. This email contains several important announcements relating to session activity over the next few weeks:

1) The House and Senate will convene on Wednesday, Jan. 5. Session will be canceled on Tuesday, Jan. 4 and Thursday, Jan 6. We will continue to monitor the public health emergency and will make a final decision on the week of January 11-13 in the very near future. The attached joint release will be sent to the media shortly.

2) Please hold Tuesday, Jan. 4 at noon for a virtual caucus. Additional information will follow.

3) SHIELD Illinois testing will be available in the Stratton Building on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays beginning next week. The available dates/times and the registration information for those who have not previously registered for testing is below: [Redacted]

House Members will not be required to test, but I very strongly encourage everyone to take advantage of the SHIELD testing upon arrival to/departure from Springfield during session weeks. If testing upon arrival is not feasible, I strongly encourage obtaining a PCR or rapid test before coming to Springfield.

Additional information on testing and protocols are in the attached memo, and will also be reviewed in Tuesday’s caucus.

4) There is no intention to extend any of the existing deadlines. As a reminder, the deadline to submit legislation for drafting is Friday, January 14. The deadline to file legislation is Friday, January 28. Your Issues/Legislative staffer will be following up to ensure your drafting requests are submitted and processed before the deadline.

Thank you all for your patience as we work through this, and please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

…Adding… And if that testing schedule doesn’t make sense because they’re meeting Wednesday, this is from another internal memo

For the week of January 3rd ONLY, evening testing on Monday will be canceled and instead take place on Tuesday, January 4th from 4:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

* Press release…

The Illinois General Assembly will be in session Wednesday, Jan. 5, but the Tuesday (Jan. 4) and Thursday (Jan. 6) session days are being canceled, legislative leaders announced.

House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch and Senate President Don Harmon also said the following session week (Jan. 11-13) is likely to be canceled amid the ongoing global pandemic.

“In the past 2 weeks, Illinois’ daily average of COVID-19 cases increased 130% and hospitalizations have risen 50%. This pandemic is not over,” said House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch. “We must take necessary precautions to mitigate the spread of the virus, reduce the burden on our health care systems and keep each other as safe as possible. We know how important the people’s work is and we are committed to getting that work done in a safe way. Please take advantage of the free and widely available vaccines and boosters because we know it is our best tool in this fight.”

“We continue to monitor the situation in an effort to protect our colleagues, our staffs and everyone else who is part of a legislative session day,” said Illinois Senate President Don Harmon. “We have work to do, and we’ve proven that we can do it, minimize exposure and keep people healthy and safe. I encourage everyone to take advantage of the vaccines and booster shots available to protect themselves and those around them.”

* Meanwhile…

Due to an increase in COVID-19 cases statewide, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White is announcing that all Secretary of State departments will not conduct in-person transactions – including Driver Services facilities – from Jan. 3, 2022, through Jan. 17, 2022. All departments and Driver Services facilities will reopen on Tuesday, Jan. 18. White is encouraging the public to visit for online services. Online transactions will remain open for all departments to conduct office services, including, but not limited to the following:

    • Renewing a license plate sticker.
    • Renewing a driver’s license or ID card for those who qualify (individuals may call 217-785-1424 to confirm their eligibility or to obtain their PIN).
    • Obtaining a duplicate driver’s license or ID card.
    • Obtaining a driver record abstract.
    • Filing Business Services documents, such as incorporations and annual reports.

In addition, the Drivers and Vehicles Services hotline phone number will remain open at 800-252-8980. Customers with issues involving administrative hearings may email or call 312-793-3722 or 217-782-7065.

…Adding… It’s pretty widespread, but mostly mild for those who are vaccinated and boosted…


* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* After being charged with grooming and possessing images depicting child sexual abuse, Nicholas Kachiroubas to be ousted from ICCB (Updated)
* Isabel’s afternoon roundup
* You reap what you sow
* Coverage roundup: US Supreme Court upholds domestic violence gun law (Updated x2)
* US Attorney's office files blistering motion supporting Haymarket Center's discrimination lawsuit against Itasca (Updated)
* Uber Partners With Cities To Expand Urban Transportation
* It’s just a bill
* Stop Illinois From Making Credit Cards Hard To Use
* Question of the day
* Open thread
* Isabel’s morning briefing
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Live coverage
* Yesterday's stories

Visit our advertisers...







Main Menu
Pundit rankings
Subscriber Content
Blagojevich Trial
Updated Posts

June 2024
May 2024
April 2024
March 2024
February 2024
January 2024
December 2023
November 2023
October 2023
September 2023
August 2023
July 2023
June 2023
May 2023
April 2023
March 2023
February 2023
January 2023
December 2022
November 2022
October 2022
September 2022
August 2022
July 2022
June 2022
May 2022
April 2022
March 2022
February 2022
January 2022
December 2021
November 2021
October 2021
September 2021
August 2021
July 2021
June 2021
May 2021
April 2021
March 2021
February 2021
January 2021
December 2020
November 2020
October 2020
September 2020
August 2020
July 2020
June 2020
May 2020
April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020
December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004

Blog*Spot Archives
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005


RSS Feed 2.0
Comments RSS 2.0

Hosted by MCS SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax Advertise Here Mobile Version Contact Rich Miller