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Friday, Sep 30, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I have several readers and subscribers down in Southwest Florida. I also have more than a few friends in that part of the world. Some made it out of the hurricane better than others. As I told you Monday, my buddy Bruiser rode it out at Fort Myers Beach. I’ve seen the photos and videos, but he says they don’t do the situation justice. It’s bad. Very bad. Paradise lost? I hope not. It’s such a nice spot.

* Utilities have “mutual assistance” pacts, and I saw on a SW Florida news site last night that crews from 30 states had been sent to the region. So, I reached out to ComEd to see what sort of assistance they were sending to the region. This is the response from John Schoen, ComEd’s Senior Communications Manager…

On Tuesday, we sent 100 ComEd employees, plus support staff, to assist Georgia Power with potential restoration efforts from Hurricane Ian, at their request. We also sent 250 contractors to assist Tampa Electric, at their request. Because Georgia was not significantly impacted, the ComEd crews were redirected to South Carolina to assist Duke Energy, as Hurricane Ian is expected to make landfall there next.

* Anyway

The water was risin’ up at my friend’s door
The man said to his women folk, “Lord, we’d better go”

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More like this, please, but also please follow through

Friday, Sep 30, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* As we’ve discussed before, the consolidation by just a few companies of the meat and poultry processing industry allows the giant companies to drive up prices for consumers while driving down prices paid to producers. Broadening the industry could help. But I also wonder if smaller companies will be able to navigate the state paperwork to obtain the grants. We saw that happen earlier this week.

Press release…

Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity announced Friday a new $6 million capital grant program designed to strengthen the meat and poultry supply chain by helping independently owned meat processing companies in Illinois build capacity and create and retain jobs.

Through the Meat & Poultry Supply Chain Capital Grant Program, companies are eligible for grants of $250,000 to $1.5 million, with a company match of at least four times the amount awarded.

“The Meat and Poultry Supply Chain Capital Grant Program is part of Illinois’ holistic effort to lower the costs of consumer goods for Illinois families,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “By building capacity in Illinois’ meat processing industry, we are strengthening the supply chain, creating and retaining jobs and working to lower costs for families.”

Meat prices have increased considerably since the pandemic, in part due to limited capacity and lack of competition. […]

Through the program, companies can get funding for the construction of a new facility, expanding or renovating existing facilities, and modernizing processing and manufacturing equipment. Priority goes to applicants located in underserved and rural areas.

  2 Comments      


Bailey on Trump, J6, SAFE-T Act and Rep. Kelly Cassidy

Friday, Sep 30, 2022 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* The Tribune’s Rick Pearson

Bailey, appearing before the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board’s endorsement session of Illinois candidates for governor, also said he wanted to “clarify” comments he’s made previously about former President Donald Trump. While he welcomed Trump’s pre-primary endorsement and had previously said there was “no” daylight between him and Trump, Bailey said he was speaking of a bustling economy under the Republican former chief executive’s leadership.

“Honored to have his endorsement, obviously, but he’s not on the ballot. I’m on the ballot,” Bailey said, adding that Illinois was his “focus.”

Asked if the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol has shown Trump’s culpability in the insurrection, Bailey said, “I’m not educated enough or informed enough to give you an answer on that.”

“I am 150% ingrained in Illinois. That’s Washington. That’s national politics,” said Bailey, who said the constitutional transition from Trump “was followed” and Democrat Joe Biden “is president.”

* Crain’s on today’s Illinois Associated Press Media Association Editors forum

“I am always open to working with people who are rational and reasonable with their proposals,” the governor added [about Sen. Scott Bennett’s proposed SAFE-T Act changes].

Meanwhile, Bailey latched on to crime, the biggest theme of his campaign, early and often, noting, “law and order is out of control,” and continued to beat the drum later.

And when given his own chance to address the SAFE-T act, Bailey said, “Sometimes, I can’t figure out if our governor’s a fool or a liar but he’s trying to dupe us… he intends to let criminals out of jail.”

Touting the endorsement of various police groups, Bailey said the act should be repealed but added if he were to win the election, he’d call a special session to make necessary changes to the law.

* WBEZ also interviewed Bailey

And Bailey moved to repeal the Reproductive Health Act of 2019 — the subject of his tense late-night exchange with the law’s lead House architect, Rep. Cassidy.

At one point during that hearing, Cassidy dramatically recounted her own emergency abortion in 2000 as Bailey pressed her on how many abortions in Illinois were the result of medical emergencies.

Bailey didn’t acknowledge Cassidy’s ordeal that night, and today she still remembers how “dismissive” that felt. […]

Bailey recalls their exchange, too. He disputes that the procedure Cassidy underwent truly represented an abortion because of its emergency, life-saving nature but said he remains “against what Kelly Cassidy stands for” on the issue.

Bailey said he hopes, despite their legislative clashes, he and Cassidy — and, more broadly, Democrats in general — can collaborate to fix the state’s problems if he is governor.

“I respect Kelly Cassidy. I know she respects me,” he said. “I look forward to working with legislators, whatever their background is, whatever their beliefs are….We’re going to stay on point fixing the things that truly matter to the people of Illinois.”

* Rich asked Rep. Cassidy if she does, indeed, respect Sen. Bailey…

Anyone who knows me knows my ability and willingness to engage across the aisle and build genuine relationships with my Republican colleagues. And when he first came to Springfield, I had some hope that Darren Bailey and I could also build a relationship. But that means sincerely acknowledging each other’s humanity.

There are very few people in Springfield I don’t interact with, but someone who has the audacity to ignorantly declare that he knows better than my doctor and I do about an incredibly painful period in my life brings to mind the old saying “when someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Add on his cartoonish embrace of anti scientific nonsense in an effort to raise his profile during a deadly pandemic that quite literally cost people their lives, and he’s not someone to be taken seriously. Period.

…Adding… The Bailey campaign pointed to this photo, taken after their 2019 row, to dispute Cassidy’s account


Representative Kelly Cassidy stopped me in the hall to introduce newly seated Representative Yoni Pizer.
They are both…

Posted by Darren Bailey for Governor on Tuesday, February 18, 2020

  20 Comments      


It’s just a bill

Friday, Sep 30, 2022 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* KFVS

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza is asking the state legislature to change the way it pays families of fallen first responders.

The way the current law is written, money for benefits could run out before the end of the year, requiring the state legislature to approve supplemental appropriations.

In Williamson County on Thursday, September 29, Mendoza urged lawmakers to pass a bill in the legislature to approve more funding.

“No family should have to wait a minute more than it takes to process their claim and get it to my office for payment. Now I immediately knew that this was a problem that needed to be fixed and I’m happy to be able to lead the charge along with these wonderful members of the legislature who are going to carry the bill on behalf of all of these families and unfortunately the future families who will in fact have to receive benefits,” Mendoza said.

* The Southern

Together with State Rep. Dave Vella of Rockford and State Sen. Christopher Belt of Swansea, Mendoza is championing HB 5785 and SB 4229, which are measures to ensure timely compensation for the next of kin of fallen first responders and members of the armed forces.

“It seemed absurd to me. Legislators budgeted $5 million that year in death benefits. We underestimated by almost half what benefits would be needed,” Mendoza said.

She added that no family should have to wait longer than it takes for the Comptroller’s Office to get the claim and pay it. […]

The legislation also will extend the time a family has to apply for benefits. They currently have one year; the new law extends it to two years.

* The Telegraph

Inappropriate and coercive teacher-student relationships would be outlawed under legislation introduced by state Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville. […]

Stuart introduced House Bill 5809 in response to an incident in which a male former teacher at Granite City High School published an online book detailing a reported sexual relationship with a female student, then 18 years old.

The student later obtained a restraining order against the teacher. The teacher resigned and has lost his teaching license. He was cleared of criminal wrongdoing because the student was above the legal age of consent at the time.

“My bill will close what is, honestly, an appalling blind spot in our current state laws,” Stuart said. “No educator should be having this kind of relationship with a student, and no student — regardless of age — can truly consent to this kind of relationship. The risk of coercion is too high, and the imbalance of power is too great.”

* Press Release…

Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), an advocacy organization dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, has welcomed the announcement by Illinois State Senator Ram Villivalam that the state will change a law, passed earlier this year to set up an Indian American Advisory Council, that uses religion to define the Indian American community, thus creating the potential for anti-Muslim discrimination.

After meeting civil society groups, Senator Villivalam tweeted: “It has been brought to my attention that the Indian American Advisory Council law was drafted with language that is not inclusive to all Indian Americans who call Illinois home. I am committed to working with my colleagues, stakeholders, and constituents to rectify this language. Just like we have done with hundreds of other laws and programs, we will ensure this law reflects the diversity and the welcoming nature of our state. I am proud of the work that has been done on behalf of and in collaboration with the Muslim American community.” […]

The current law says the Council will, “advise the [Illinois] Governor and the General Assembly on policy issues impacting Indian Americans and immigrants; to advance the role and civic participation of Indian Americans in this State; to enhance trade and cooperation between Indian-majority countries and this State; and, in cooperation with State agencies, boards, and commissions, to build relationships with and disseminate information to Indian American and immigrant communities across this State.” […]

The activists urged the lawmakers to pause any appointments to this Council until the law was altered. Illinois must consult extensively with the Indian community, including all faiths, caste, and language, to select the Council’s members, they said.

* The Center Square

Last April, the House narrowly passed a measure that lowered the criminal penalties for what they call low-level possession of drugs like fentanyl and heroin. Misdemeanors under the bill include possession of less than five grams of cocaine, less than five pills of most scheduled III substances such as Xanax and Valium, and less than 40 pills of oxycodone and similar painkillers. […]

Republicans have introduced legislation designed to allow state attorneys to prosecute fentanyl dealers.

  2 Comments      


Ratepayers, taxpayers picking up some big legal tabs

Friday, Sep 30, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Crain’s

Commonwealth Edison ratepayers are helping to cover the cost of the utility’s $140 million settlement of lawsuits stemming from the death of one cable TV worker and the permanent injury of another due to a faulty power pole in downstate Sterling. […]

Additionally, it’s possible more as-yet unquantified settlement costs may be recovered based on reconciliations that took place last year, the ICC says. […]

The treatment of legal costs is in line with the virtually risk-free environment in which ComEd operates, thanks to a series of changes in law over the past 15 years. The company bears no risk from customers who can’t pay, for example. When past-due accounts are written off and the amounts are above what the utility budgets for in its base rates, ComEd collects the remainder in a surcharge.

That’s thanks to a 2009 law. Before that, utility shareholders had to cover those costs.

* Crain’s

Why has Chicago paid out more than $250 million in just three years for legal settlements involving alleged misconduct by Chicago Police officers?

A prime reason, other than the misconduct itself, is that city officials have failed to follow, analyze and learn from the misconduct, leaving the door open to further abuse and claims, according to an eyebrow-raising report from Chicago Inspector General Deborah Witzburg.

“The City lacks a comprehensive approach to the collection of litigation data,” Witzburg said in a statement about the review, which covered 2017-2020. “It is therefore critically impaired in its ability to effectively manage the risk of expense to the City and harm to its residents arising out of CPD’s operations,” she added.

“Given the pressing need to reform CPD’s practices—and the extraordinary number of dollars involved—the City should take every opportunity to learn lessons from those instances in which the conduct of CPD and its members gives rise to costly legal claims.”

The report is here

$83 million a year could pay for a lot of stuff. Just sayin…

  18 Comments      


Question of the day

Friday, Sep 30, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I’ve believed for quite a while that the Thompson Center is an apt metaphor for Illinois government

Chicago’s relationship with the Thompson Center has always been tortured. Jahn specified insulated double-paned windows for the glass-faced $172 million structure, which was known as the State of Illinois Center when it opened in 1985. But cost-cutting builders opted for single panes, creating a building that baked the government employees working inside. Stubborn air conditioning and heating woes persisted despite the best efforts of engineers to ameliorate the situation, and the building began to rack up millions of dollars of deferred maintenance.

In 2015, just after then-Illinois Governor ​​Bruce Rauner proposed selling the beleaguered building, Chicago Magazine talked to unhappy state employees who worked there, who complained about threadbare carpets and noisy open-plan offices. What was supposed to be a monument to transparency in public service had become an example of government failure.

The state starts up a lot of well-meaning programs, then cheaps out because it’s already fiscally over-extended, or nothing works right because the state isn’t properly staffed and the regulations are onerous because somebody corruptly gamed the system in the past, and working for or with the state winds up being more trouble than it’s worth.

* The Question: More Thompson Center metaphors?

  34 Comments      


As early voting begins, Pritzker defends his record

Friday, Sep 30, 2022 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Pritzker “makes no apologies” as his re-election campaign puts his record up for examination, Tina Sfondeles reports

When J.B. Pritzker first announced his run for governor in a packed South Side gymnasium in 2017, he told reporters he’d be a “progressive governor for everyone.”

Since then, the Gold Coast Democrat has signed four budgets, touted improvements in the state’s shoddy financial ratings, and signed legislation that raised the minimum wage, legalized marijuana and enshrined the right to get an abortion in Illinois at a historic time. […]

“I have had to manage through a lot of crises over the course of my life, and I’m not suggesting they’re all like a global pandemic,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times in an interview a little over a week ago.

“I’m just saying that in a difficult circumstance, when tensions are high, and it’s an emergency, that reacting quickly, being decisive, listening to experts, those are all things that I had learned through the course of my personal life and my business life.”

* Yesterday, Pritzker made several campaign stops highlighting early voting

In Springfield, he was joined by Nikki Budzinski, the Democratic nominee for the 13th Congressional District, and state Sen. Doris Turner, D-Springfield. […]

There, Pritzker touted policy achievements such as raising the minimum wage while vowing to protect abortion rights and declaring his support for the “workers rights amendment.”

But, above all else, the message of the day was: every day up to Nov. 8 is Election Day. […]

Pritzker signed several laws last year that expand early voting and curbside voting, making ballot dropboxes — a pandemic-era innovation — a permanent feature and allowing voters to permanently opt in to vote-by-mail.

* The Tribune on the governor‘s “flurry” of donations to Dem candidates and orgs

The governor’s largesse comes with early voting getting underway in some parts of the state and as Republican candidates relentlessly hammer their Democratic rivals on crime and an overhaul of the state’s criminal justice system that includes ending cash bail on Jan. 1. […]

The governor “does not take the threat of Republican extremism lightly and is committed to supporting candidates who will fight for our shared Democratic values at every level of government,” Edelstein said in a statement.

Along with Pritzker’s $1 million, the Giannoulias campaign on Thursday reported $769,000 in additional contributions from labor unions, auto dealers and other supporters. That’s on top of more than $1.3 million in large-dollar contributions that campaign had previously reported since July 1.

Giannoulias spent more than $5.2 million in the first half of the year to win the primary and came into the general election campaign with more than $773,000 cash on hand in his campaign fund, state campaign finance records show.

* Politico

Former Gov. Jim Edgar had thoughts on Pritzker’s big donations: “For the party of the rich, we sure don’t show it sometimes. And the party of the Democrats, who are supposed to be the working man, they seem to have all the money,” Edgar said Thursday in Springfield after Pritzker made donations to Democrats up and down the ballot — including $1 million to secretary for state candidate Alexi Giannoulias. Edgar has endorsed Dan Brady, the Republican in the race.

* WGLT

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said he’s open to tweaking the Safe-T Act that will do away with the cash bail system in the state starting in January.

Pritzker’s Republican opponent, Darren Bailey, claims the law will let people out of jail who should be kept behind bars. During a stop in Bloomington on Thursday, Pritzker said that is not the case.

“The Safe-T Act is about keeping people safe all across our state, keeping murderers, rapists, and domestic abusers in jail, not letting them buy their way out, which is the system that we had,” said Pritzker. […]

On the flip side, the governor said moms who shoplift should not be kept locked up for months on end just because they can’t afford a few hundred dollars in bond. Pritzker said the legislation is not done.

“You know Republicans act like they don’t vote for amendments to bills. But they voted for thousands of amendments to existing bills and we’re always willing to consider changes to a bill that need to be made,” said Pritzker.

  11 Comments      


Today’s quotable

Friday, Sep 30, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Rick Pearson at the Tribune

Republican governor candidate Darren Bailey likened Chicago to an “unruly child” Thursday and said he considers the city he has frequently referred to as a “hellhole” as part of his family in the way “I consider all of Illinois my family.” […]

In recent weeks, Bailey moved into the 875 North Michigan Avenue building, formerly the John Hancock Center, as he spends more time in the state’s most populous area. And he was asked if he wanted to retract his “hellhole” comments, but did not do so.

“Raising children. When we had the unruly child, we dealt with it. Said, ‘this is a problem,’” Bailey said. “The family. Family. I consider all of Illinois my family. I consider Chicago my family and I want to get Chicago fixed and there’s other parts of Illinois that have issues, too. Let’s address it. Let’s deal with it. Let’s unify.”

* So, how did Bailey and his family deal with their unruly children? Well, Bailey spoke at a Belleville church last fall and addressed this very topic. The link magically came over the transom today

So during that time, this was what God was preparing, you know, during that time, with all the other stuff with the farm, our oldest son rebelled and I kicked him out of the house.

It took us about a year and a half to, Cindy and I tried ourselves to outsmart him. I’m president of the school board, leader in the church. But we raised him pretty smart. So he would outfox us and maneuver us everywhere. We tried to head him off at the pass. But, he eventually, through a work of God, came back.

Two years later, our daughter, our number third child, she rebelled to the extent that I felt that I needed to kick her out of the house.

And by then, through all this prayer and fasting that we were going through, we got on our faces quickly. We didn’t rely on our own means and our friends. We got on our faces before God and, thank goodness, you know, within six months, she was back.

And the cool thing is that today those two children and number one our son of whom, you know, couldn’t stand us at the time and wanted to get away. His house is probably the distance of this tent behind us. So, God is good. And they’re both leaders in their churches, using the experiences that they went through to teach young people, to teach them, encouraging them what not to do and what to do if they do make mistakes.

Glad that all had a happy conclusion, but you can’t just kick a city out of a state, even though he did try.

…Adding… Democratic Party of Illinois…

In case you missed recent coverage of his latest denigration of Chicago, Darren Bailey referred to the state’s largest city as an “unruly child” in the Illinois “family” — and Bailey, who has repeatedly called Chicago a “hellhole” and sponsored legislation to remove it from the rest of the state, is no stranger to “unruly children.”

In a 2021 video, Bailey recounted kicking his own children out of his house when they “rebelled,” saying: “Our oldest son rebelled, I kicked him out of the house. … Two years later, our daughter, our number third child, she rebelled to the extent that I felt that I needed to kick her out of the house.”

Every day, it becomes more clear that Bailey is incapable of serving as a governor for all of Illinois. From posting insensitive and inappropriate sentiments about members of the LGBTQ+ and Muslim communities, to encouraging mass shooting victims to “move on and celebrate” 90 minutes after a massacre, to comparing abortion to the Holocaust, it’s apparent that Darren Bailey has no interest in bringing Illinosians together.

When Darren Bailey identifies a problem, his solution is to simply throw it out. Comparing the city of Chicago to an unruly child makes perfect sense in Bailey’s mind because at the end of the day, he knows he’s kicking both to the curb.

  61 Comments      


A look at Champaign-Urbana’s 2021 homicide rate shows real problems in the area

Friday, Sep 30, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Champaign News-Gazette editor Jeff D’Alessio

The News-Gazette requested homicide data from more than 400 cities, villages and townships similar in size to Champaign (17 deaths by firearm in 2021, 16 of them homicides) and Urbana (nine homicides). […]

— Of the 68 U.S. cities with populations within 5,000 of Champaign (pop. 88,302), according to 2020 U.S. Census figures, only one has had more homicides by firearm in 2021.

That city: Trenton, N.J., with 36, four shy of the 2020 total that gave the crime-plagued New Jersey capital the seventh-highest murder rate of any city in the U.S., according to FBI data. […]

— Of 316 U.S. cities, villages and townships with populations within 5,000 of Urbana (38,336), five reported more homicides by firearm this year, including three that ranked in the top five nationally on 2020’s highest murder rate list — Petersburg, Va., Pine Bluff, Ark., and Saginaw, Mich. […]

— Of the 46 U.S. cities with populations within 10,000 of Champaign-Urbana combined (126,638), only Hartford, Conn., has had a higher death-by-firearm count in 2021, with 32.

Waukegan had 8 homicides, Cicero had 4, Belleville and DeKalb had 3. Several had 1.

  40 Comments      


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Friday, Sep 30, 2022 - Posted by Isabel Miller

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Open thread

Friday, Sep 30, 2022 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* It’s Friday? Already? What’s going on? (Keep it Illinois-centric.)

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Friday, Sep 30, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Friday, Sep 30, 2022 - Posted by Isabel Miller

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