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Ah, but the algorithms! That’s where I had them!

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Daily Southtown

The losing candidate in the 2022 race for Will County clerk is asking a judge to order a new election in the case, citing mathematic formulas alleging the final count was fraudulent.

Republican Gretchen Fritz filed the lawsuit Dec. 28, claiming she believes “mistakes and fraud have been committed in the casting and counting of ballots” in the Will County clerk’s race because her opponent, Democratic Will County Clerk Lauren Staley Ferry, received more votes than Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker. […]

“It appeared quite unusual that a candidate for Will County Clerk, listed at least eight offices below the office with the most media coverage and largest political spending in the state, would receive more votes than the gubernatorial candidate of her party,” according to the lawsuit. […]

Fritz’s attorney, David Shestokas, said Tuesday the lawsuit highlights a “21st Century approach to manipulating the election process.”

Man, Will County really dodged a bullet. Imagine that person overseeing elections. Whew.

* Also, Fritz’s lawyer David Shestokas ran for attorney general last year as a Republican. He has repeatedly claimed that the 2020 presidential election was corrupted by fraud and even outright stolen…

[Headline explained here.]

…Adding… Per a tip in comments, this is from September of 2020, right as the second wave was gaining steam

Several Will County Republican candidates in the Nov. 3 election say the Illinois Department of Public Health coronavirus data used to restrict Joliet area bars and restaurants from being open for indoor guests is flawed and it’s not accurate data. […]

Will County Board member Gretchen Fritz, District 5 Republican from Plainfield, said she does not believe Will County’s coronavirus data is accurate, either.

Fritz is running on the Nov. 3 ballot for Will County Recorder of Deeds. […]

Fritz contends the totals have been inflated because Pritzker wants to unfairly target the people in Will and Kankakee Counties. “We are never going to get an accurate positivity rate,” Fritz said.


Gov. Pritzker announces end of state COVID-19 public health emergency on May 11

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Press release…

Governor JB Pritzker announced the state’s public health emergency will end on May 11, 2023, aligning the state with the federal government’s decision to end the national public health emergency. Ensuring Illinois’ and the federal government’s health emergencies were linked brought in additional federal funding and expanded healthcare access for residents across the state.

“Since COVID-19 first emerged nearly three years ago, my administration has worked diligently alongside the federal government to battle this once-in-a-generation pandemic by following scientific and medical guidance to support frontline workers and save lives. Our state’s disaster proclamation and executive orders enabled us to use every resource at our disposal from building up testing capacity and expanding our healthcare workforce to supporting our vaccine rollout and mutual aid efforts,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Let me be clear: COVID-19 has not disappeared. It is still a real and present danger to people with compromised immune systems—and I urge all Illinoisans to get vaccinated or get their booster shots if they have not done so already.”

After joining 12 other states and the Department of Health and Human Services in declaring a public health emergency at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic on March 9, 2020, the state of Illinois has continued to remain aligned with the federal government to ensure every available resource was utilized in the state’s COVID-19 response. Illinois residents were able to collect additional SNAP benefits, more than 1.4 million children received Pandemic EBT (nutrition) support, and Medicaid expansion ensured access to telehealth options and the resources Illinoisans needed to stay healthy.

The proclamation formalized emergency procedures by activating the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC), bringing together decision makers from every state agency and the state’s highly qualified mutual aid network to deploy resources as necessary during the public health threat.

Since March of 2020, state and local partners benefitted from a disaster proclamation in the following ways:

    • Allowing federal reimbursement for state response costs.
    • Allowing use of State Disaster Relief Fund, covering direct state costs and reimbursements to Illinois National Guard and mutual aid groups.
    • Allowing use of the state’s mutual aid network, groups of public safety response professionals — including hundreds of health care providers and management professionals, law enforcement officers, fire fighters, emergency medical technicians and disaster response professionals — that are available to deploy to areas of shortage.
    • Authorizing the Governor to activate Illinois National Guard reservists, some of whom were doctors and nurses and served on the front lines of the pandemic response.
    • Allowing expedited procurement should it be necessary.
    • Authorizing additional executive actions as needed to protect public health and safety.


Afternoon roundup

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Shelby County only has two prosecutors? Can’t they just permanently share these expenses and duties?

The soon-to-be vacant position of Shelby County’s state’s attorney is set to be temporarily filled with the help of area state’s attorney’s offices.

The Shelby County Board voted during a special meeting Monday night to request that the resident circuit judge “take necessary action” to fill the position until a new state’s attorney can take this post full time. […]

In response to questions from fellow board members, [Shelby County Board Chair Robert Orman] said this action will involve having state’s attorney’s offices from other counties help fill the Shelby County position starting Wednesday. […]

The current Shelby County state’s attorney, Nichole Kroncke, will leave her office Tuesday, Jan. 31, to become a special prosecutor for the Illinois State’s Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor’s Office. Shelby County’s only assistant state’s attorney, Jay Scott, is also set to end his employment on that day.

There has to be a better way.

* ABC 7

A challenge to the Illinois assault weapons ban by McHenry County has been transferred up to federal court after a hearing Monday.

McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally filed the challenge to the Illinois assault weapons ban.

Monday morning, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul made the request to remove the case from state court and send it to federal court.

* Press release…

Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias announced that Illinois will receive $424,500 as part of the $45 million multi-state settlement with Nexo Capital, Inc.

Through its Illinois Securities Department, the Secretary of State’s office joined other state security administrators and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as part of the investigation and settlement of $45 million with Nexo Capital, Inc. (Nexo), which was offering and selling unregistered securities in digital asset investments. This is part of a $45 million settlement, $22.5 million which will be distributed to state securities regulators.

“Crypto assets are not exempt from state and federal regulations, and financial services involved with them must comply with those regulations to ensure consumers are protected,” Secretary Giannoulias said. “We will continue to investigate interest-bearing cryptocurrency accounts and take action against firms that offer them without complying with state law. However, this settlement demonstrates why Illinois investors must make sure that any financial advisor they use is properly registered with the state.”

Nexo’s Earn Interest Product (EIP) accounts allowed customers to deposit crypto assets with Nexo. In exchange, customers earned interest rates on their deposited crypto assets. The quoted rates were significantly higher than rates offered for short-term, investment grade, fixed-income securities, or bank savings accounts.

Illinois found that when Nexo offered its EIP, it failed to disclose material information about the investment and did not disclose all the risks associated with the digital assets.

In addition to the monetary settlement, Nexo agreed that it will stop offering its EIP unless properly registered. It also agreed to notify account holders on or before Feb.1, 2023, that investors should withdraw any assets from their accounts before April 1, 2023. The company also agreed to separate U.S. investor assets, recognize that U.S. investors hold legal title to those assets and not use those assets in risky speculative activities.

* Press release…

Mayoral candidate Paul Vallas outlined his Economic Development plan at a speech today at the City Club. Designed to rebuild disadvantaged communities within the city, Vallas’ plan consists of five major planks that collectively would lay the foundation for sustainability and growth.

Vallas’ full Economic Development plan can be found here:

“For far too long, too little of government has been devoted to holistic and inclusive community development that brings opportunity to the historically disadvantaged and neglected, and as Mayor I will change that course,” said Vallas. “Alongside our key goals of reducing crime and improving public schools, our economic development plan will deliver more opportunity to our city and our residents, helping move Chicago out of the current crisis created by failed leadership and into a brighter future. Our plan isn’t about the same old transactional redistribution of wealth, it is about reactivating the wealth within communities and putting it to work for all Chicagoans.”

Highlights of the Vallas Economic Development plan include:

    • Creating an independent Community Development Authority (CDA) that will operate free from City Hall politics and aldermanic privilege.
    • Establishing a Fair Share Investment Trust to hold and reinvest both public and private monies for second and third generation (re)investment.
    • Implementing a strategy to reclaim and repurpose vacant & idle property across the city’s South and West Sides to support their development into locally owned performing assets like affordable housing.
    • Recognizing that economic development must be supported by an ecosystem of wellness and framework of well-being, by ensuring that all new developments must include an agreement that takes into account cumulative environmental impact and commits funds to social service infrastructure.
    • Elevating and empowering citizens returning from incarceration into full and productive economic and community participation and standing through a blend of alternative educational, workforce development, and prioritization of community development project contractors and vendors who employ returning citizens.

An “independent” development authority and a trust fund. What could possibly go wrong?

* Lightfoot press release excerpt…

As Vallas prepares to rebrand INVEST South/West and sell it as his own, we put together a run down of his less-than-impressive record of financial mismanagement to add some context to his sub-par dupe:

* Politico

The flawed email campaign to recruit student volunteers to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s reelection campaign is now the subject of a negative ad by an independent political action committee.

Cue haunting music: “Politicians have no right to enlist public school students as campaign pawns,” the ad says, referring to emails sent by Lightfoot’s campaign to teachers to rally student volunteers. Lightfoot says the emails were a mistake, and the Chicago Board of Ethics is looking into whether they violated the city’s ethics rules.

Behind the attack: A group called Americans for a Safer and Better Tomorrow PAC is running the digital ad on Facebook and YouTube. It also plans to send texts to likely Chicago Public School parents based on cell numbers on voting records, according to a person familiar with the PAC’s efforts. (Is that different from sending emails to teachers? We’ll defer to the ethics board.)

Connecting the dots: The PAC is the same group behind a poll by M3 pollster in December showing Lightfoot trailing Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and Paul Vallas in the mayor’s race.

So far, it appears to be just a YouTube video. No Facebook ads have been booked that I can find. Also, the committee has so far reported raising just $10K from its own dark money not for profit. M3 polling is run by Matt Podgorski.

* Isabel’s roundup…

    * Capitol News Illinois | Amid ‘unprecedented’ prolonged revenue boom, Illinois finds budget breathing room: The governor attributed the strong revenue performance at least partially to conservative initial budgeting estimates, changes to corporate tax exemptions and collection of online sales tax. Others have cited such factors as inflation and wage growth, as well as changes in consumer spending amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

    * Fox 2 Now | ‘St. Louis’ Bears? Illinois rep. wonders amid stadium talks: Todd Maisch, president of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, tells the Chicago Sun Times, “I think it needs to happen by the end of this session. If not, you’re going to start to have other states make their cases on why the Chicago Bears should be the St. Louis Bears.”

    * Crain’s | How Willie Wilson built the fortune that fuels his populist giveaways: His disclosure valued Omar at between $25 million and $50 million. He also reported assets, including his Hazel Crest home (he rents his Wacker Drive penthouse), stock options and bank accounts valued between $2.4 million and $5 million.  … While Wilson says his company does not have any contracts with the city, it was listed as a minority participant, splitting a 30% stake in an up to $30 million contract from the city’s sister agency, Chicago Public Schools, awarded to Office Depot.   

    * Daily Herald | Pritzker helps open CLC’s new $48 million student center in Waukegan: The 62,692-square-foot, six-story building houses support services, a library, a welcome center and a career placement office, as well as adult education classes aimed at connecting nontraditional students to new careers.

    * Press Release | Crypto Lender to Pay Illinois Investors More Than $400,000: Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias announced that Illinois will receive $424,500 as part of the $45 million multi-state settlement with Nexo Capital, Inc.

    * CNN | Prosecutors say Sam Bankman-Fried tried to obscure his crimes with Robinhood’s stock: Prosecutors have since seized the stock and other assets totaling more than $700 million after Bankman-Fried laid claim to the shares saying he legitimately bought them and needed the money to defend against the criminal charges he’s facing.

    * Streets Blog Chicago | Mayoral candidates weigh in on transportation at Safe Streets for All forum: The coalition’s platform calls for investments in pedestrian and biking infrastructure and improvements to CTA service and safety. All candidates except Mayor Lori Lightfoot attended. The event was moderated by Urban Gateways CEO and Elevated Chicago co-chair Leslé Honoré, who posed a set of questions to each mayoral hopeful, curated from queries submitted by pre-registered attendees. Or rather, posed them to candidates who kept their responses concise enough to get through more than one or two.

    * Center Square | Illinois cannabis sales remain strong in 2022: About 113 dispensaries now operate across the state, leading to booming adult use cannabis sales in Illinois. In 2022, legal cannabis sales totaled $1.5 billion, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation said.

    * Chalkbeat | Tony Sanders named next Illinois State Superintendent of Education: “Dr. Sanders’ breadth of experience as superintendent of School District U-46 and his entire background have prepared him to take on this role,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement. “His focus on innovation, social emotional development, and academic excellence make him an extraordinary pick. I can think of no better person to lead the Illinois State Board of Education as we continue to invest in, support, and elevate our students and educators.”

    * AP | Adult Happy Meals and the McRib feed McDonald’s sales in the fourth quarter: Global same-store sales — or sales at stores open at least a year — rose 12.6% in the October-December period, the Chicago company said Tuesday. That beat Wall Street expectations for an 8.8% increase, according to analysts polled by FactSet.

    * Marketplace Tech | Rural communities are slow to adopt EVs — but a national charging network depends on them: The federal government aims to change that as part of the Joe Biden administration’s larger plan to decarbonize the transportation sector by 2050. It wants to increase the number of public charging stations for electric cars tenfold by the end of this decade. Rural areas play an important role in the broader electrification plan. In the 2021 infrastructure bill, there’s $7.5 billion dedicated to building out EV chargers nationwide, with a special emphasis on rural America.

    * NPR Illinois | Dirksen Driver’s Services facility to close for lengthy period: A temporary facility at 1650 Wabash Ave., which is comparable in size to the Dirksen Pkwy. facility, will be open Mondays through Fridays, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will provide the same services to the public including: the issuance of driver’s licenses, ID cards and instruction permits; license plate sticker renewals; and title and registration services.

    * CNN | ChatGPT creator rolls out ‘imperfect’ tool to help teachers spot potential cheating: OpenAI on Tuesday announced a new feature, called an “AI text classifier,” that allows users to check if an essay was written by a human or AI. But even OpenAI admits it’s “imperfect.”

    * AP | 2 monkeys taken from Dallas Zoo in latest suspicious event: Two monkeys were taken from the Dallas Zoo on Monday, police said, the latest in a string of odd incidents at the attraction being investigated — including fences being cut and the suspicious death of an endangered vulture in the past few weeks.

    * WILL | Hip hop’s history in Illinois and America: Hip hop as a genre is only 50 years old, and its cultural impact in Illinois and America at large is unquestionable. According to Nielsen, hip hop and R&B are the most popular genres in the United States, and it’s the subject of a new documentary. Fight the Power: How Hip Hop Changed the World premieres tonight on your local PBS station. It features interviews from some of the most prominent Hip Hop acts of all time, including Run DMC, and Chicago’s Lupe Fiasco.

    * NBC Chicago | Country Music Star Maren Morris to Headline 2023 Illinois State Fair: “To kick it all off with Maren Morris who brings hit after hit to our Illinois Lottery Grandstand Stage is a dream come true,” Clark continues. “Whether you are a fan of her hit collaboration “The Middle” with Zedd or her hit country singles such as ‘My Church,’ ‘80’s Mercedes’ or ‘The Bones,’ it is sure to be a concert you are not going to want to miss.”

    * Sun-Times | Sean O’Shea, a South Side native who worked at the White House under Clinton, dies at 46: “I am not exaggerating, the guy walked in our office and I think within the first day we were like ‘Who the —k is this kid?’ He was amazing,” said Kris Balderston, who was Mr. O’Shea’s boss while he worked for a semester as a White House intern in the Office of Cabinet Affairs under former President Bill Clinton.


*** UPDATED x1 *** Divided Downstate appellate court narrowly upholds limited TRO on assault weapons ban case

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

*** UPDATE *** Annie Thompson from the attorney general’s office…

The Protect Illinois Communities Act is an important tool in what must be a comprehensive approach to addressing gun violence throughout Illinois, and we remain committed to defending the statute’s constitutionality. We are reviewing the 5th District’s decision, and we will seek its review by the Illinois Supreme Court, and we will ask the court for an expedited schedule.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* Fifth Illinois Appellate Court

The narrow issue before us in this case is whether the circuit court of Effingham County properly granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) in favor of plaintiffs under Illinois law. In counts I, II, and III of plaintiffs’ verified complaint, plaintiffs alleged that the procedure by which Public Act 102-1116 (eff. Jan. 10, 2023) (Act or Protect Illinois Communities Act) became law violated the Illinois Constitution and therefore denied them due process of law. In count IV, plaintiffs alleged that the exemptions provided for in the Act violate the equal protection clause of the Illinois Constitution based on their right to keep and bear arms. […]

In order to obtain a TRO, plaintiffs are required to demonstrate the following elements: “(1) a clearly ascertained right in need of protection, (2) irreparable injury in the absence of an injunction, (3) no adequate remedy at law, and (4) a likelihood of success on the merits of the case.” … Once the plaintiff establishes a fair question that his or her rights were violated, the plaintiff has also established a fair question that he or she would likely prevail on his claim. […]

With regard to count I, plaintiffs alleged that the Act violated the “single subject rule” and therefore should be declared unconstitutional. … The Illinois Supreme Court enunciated a two-tier test to determine whether an act runs afoul of the single subject rule. … The court determines first whether the act involves a legitimate single subject and then whether the various provisions within an act all relate to the proper subject at issue. … Thus, in light of the test before the court, and the liberal construction afforded to the single subject rule (Cutinello, 161 Ill. 2d at 423), we cannot conclude that inclusion of these clarifications offends the subject matter so much as to violate the single subject rule. […]

We turn now to count II of the complaint, which alleged the Act violated the three-readings rule found in article IV, section 8 of the Illinois Constitution. … Plaintiffs acknowledged the enrolled-bill doctrine before the circuit court, and that the legislation at issue was certified pursuant to the doctrine. However, plaintiffs asserted the enrolled- bill doctrine should be abandoned and/or abrogated. The circuit court agreed, specifically stating that “the time to revisit this practice is now.” … We cannot agree. … Accordingly, in this case, the circuit court did not have the authority to decide if or when the Illinois Supreme Court should revisit the issue raised by the plaintiffs in count II, and this court does not have that authority either. […]

With regard to count III, plaintiffs alleged that the manner in which the Act was passed violated due process as required by article I, section 2 of the Illinois Constitution, and that accordingly the Act should be declared unconstitutional. Specifically, plaintiffs alleged they “were denied any meaningful opportunity to participate in the passage of [the Act] which attempts to materially impair their fundamental rights to bear arms.” As further explanation, plaintiffs alleged that the “due process violation being complained of herein is the complete and total failure of the [d]efendants to comply with express constitutional procedural guarantees afforded the [p]laintiffs under Ill. Const. 1970, art. IV, § 8(d).” In the response filed with this court, plaintiffs stated that the crux of count III is that plaintiffs “demand the legislative process comply with the procedural requirements of the Illinois Constitution, particularly the single subject rule and the three-readings rule.” However, because we have found there is no likelihood of success on the merits with regard to counts I and II, we must likewise conclude there is no likelihood of success on the merits of count III, because by its plain language it is contingent upon the existence of potentially meritorious claims on counts I and II. As such, we find the trial court erred in granting a TRO on this basis.

With regard to count IV, plaintiffs present an equal protection claim, based not upon the process by which the Act was passed, but upon the groups created by the enumerated exemptions found in the Act. … Defendants claim there is no fundamental right at issue here and so the level of scrutiny is rational basis. This standard requires the court to determine whether the statute bears a rational relationship to a legitimate government purpose. […]

[In Guns Save Life, Inc. v. Ali, the Illinois Supreme Court stated] “We agree that the ordinances impose a burden on the exercise of a fundamental right protected by the second amendment. At its core, the second amendment protects the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms for self-defense in the home.” […]

While there is no dispute that the Illinois Supreme Court did not find the right to bear arms under the Illinois Constitution was a fundamental right in 1984 when deciding Kalodimos, it is equally undisputable that the Illinois Supreme Court now accepts the second amendment as a “fundamental right” guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the fourteenth amendment. […]

Under the strict scrutiny analysis, legislation that significantly interferes with the exercise of a fundamental right will be upheld only if it is “necessary to serve a compelling state interest” and is “narrowly tailored” to effectuate that purpose. … Defendants have argued that plaintiffs have no right in need of protection and are unlikely to succeed on the merits; however, defendants’ arguments were based on an erroneous perception that plaintiffs’ right to keep and bear arms was not a fundamental right. As such, we find that plaintiffs’ allegation that the Act infringes on their rights as Illinois citizens to keep and bear arms is a sufficiently alleged right in need of protection. Here, plaintiffs’ complaint alleged that the legislation’s exemption of seven categories of persons from the now prohibited purchase and/or possession of assault weapons, assault weapons attachments, .50-caliber rifles, and .50-caliber cartridges had no basis and therefore violated equal protection guarantees.

In response, defendants claimed the purpose of the Act was to reduce firearm deaths and mass shooting casualties and the exempted categories were based on employment and/or training. We note, however, that no such purpose or basis for the exempted categories is found in the record. The closest this record comes is the naming of the Act as the Protect Illinois Communities Act. While intent of legislation can be found by reviewing the legislative history, based on the legislative procedures utilized for this Act, there is no legislative history. We only have post- enactment statements. Comments issued after legislation is passed is “subsequent legislative history,” not “legislative history,” and is entitled to little, if any, weight. … Accordingly, we find that plaintiffs alleged sufficient facts for a TRO to issue on count IV. […]

We hold no crystal ball allowing us to determine the likelihood of potential harm if the TRO is granted, but we temper our lack of prescience with recognition that both interests—whether through the regulation of firearms or through the fundamental right to keep and bear arms—are based on the increased desire to protect and defend loved ones in light of these horrifying and devastating shootings.

Here, we find it extremely relevant that no opportunity for discourse was provided to the citizens of this state that would allow for recognition of the competing interests in accomplishing what we believe is likely a common goal. Nor does it appear that the legislative process allowed for even a moment of debate between the lawmakers to ensure that the enactment of this law was “narrowly tailored” to effectuate the Act’s purpose in any manner that would allow a larger exempted group to retain their fundamental rights. For these reasons, we find that balancing the equities favors the issuance of a TRO for count IV, and therefore, we affirm the trial court’s order granting the TRO for count IV.

* From Justice James Moore’s dissent

I begin by stressing that in my view, this appeal does not allow us to address whether Public Act 102-1116 (eff. Jan. 10, 2023) (Act) infringes upon any rights granted by the United States Constitution, specifically the second amendment. This significant point was expressly stated to the circuit court by counsel for the plaintiffs during the hearing on the emergency motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) when he stated, “We are not making second amendment constitutional arguments here because those are for a different day and a different court ***.” Because no issues related to the second amendment of the United States Constitution are before us, as they were not pleaded and were notably disclaimed by counsel for the plaintiffs, I believe our ruling on the grant of the TRO should in no way be interpreted as instruction or guidance as to any issues that may in the future be raised under the second amendment of the United States Constitution. […]

Turning to count IV, as noted by the majority, in this count the plaintiffs present an equal protection claim, based not upon the process by which the Act was passed, but upon the group created by the enumerated exemptions found in the Act. However, I believe the majority has failed to adequately address a crucial threshold matter relating to count IV. As the Illinois Supreme Court has stated, “it is axiomatic that an equal protection claim requires a showing that the individual raising it is similarly situated to the comparison group.” People v. Masterson, 2011 IL 110072, ¶ 25. If a party fails to show that he is similarly situated to the comparison group, his equal protection challenge fails. Id. The plaintiffs’ complaint failed to allege how each, or even any, of the plaintiffs are similarly situated to the exempted group set forth in the Act. The plaintiffs’ complaint and arguments point to a hypothetical Navy SEAL, but failed to allege this scenario was applicable to the plaintiffs. As set forth above, “to be considered ‘well-pleaded,’ a party’s factual allegations must be supported by allegations of specific facts.” Allegations that are “cursory,” or “inexplicably lacking in specifics,” are not sufficient to support the granting of a TRO. This is true because “the standard for injunctive relief is far too high for a court to rely solely on the moving party’s innuendo.” … Therefore, because the plaintiffs have failed to allege facts demonstrating that they are similarly situated to the exempt group complained of, their equal protection challenge fails, and the circuit court’s granting of the TRO must be reversed in its entirety.

I also cannot agree with the majority that if we were to further analyze count IV, strict scrutiny would apply. … As a factual matter, Ali involved a claim under, inter alia, both the second amendment to the United States Constitution and the Illinois constitutional provisions regarding the right to bear arms. Accordingly, it is not surprising that the court would mention “a fundamental right protected by the second amendment.” At no point did the court state that Kalodimos was no longer good law, or in any other way imply that the right to bear arms is now a fundamental right under the Illinois Constitution. Thus, I cannot attribute to Ali the significance the plaintiffs desire.

Accordingly, in light of the only extant precedent on this question, the only way this court could find that a fair question existed that the plaintiffs had a likelihood of success on the merits of this claim under a strict scrutiny equal protection analysis would be to find that Kalodimos has been overruled by a case or cases other than Ali. There is no evidence to support such a conclusion, and as explained above with regard to the other counts before us in this appeal, the circuit and appellate courts of the State of Illinois are required to apply binding precedent from the Illinois Supreme Court to the facts of the cases before the circuit and appellate courts. […]

Put another way, only the Illinois Supreme Court could rule that in a case such as this one—where the plaintiffs pointedly do not invoke the protections of the second amendment to the United States Constitution, and in fact pointedly disclaimed, in the circuit court, “making second amendment constitutional arguments [in this case]”—the development of federal precedent related to the second amendment to the United States Constitution nevertheless has rendered untenable the Illinois Supreme Court’s previous holding that the right to bear arms under our state constitution is not a fundamental right. […]

(I)n this case the plaintiffs have stated emphatically that they are not proceeding under the United States Constitution, and thus have clearly and unequivocally chosen not to avail themselves of the level of protection offered by the second amendment. That leaves only the protection offered by the Illinois Constitution, which pursuant to Kalodimos does not afford to the plaintiffs a fundamental right and does not entitle them to strict scrutiny analysis of their count IV equal protection claim.


*** UPDATED x1 *** DuPage County sheriff lashes out at media, posts defensive and misleading letter on Facebook

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

*** UPDATE *** It appears the sheriff broke an agreement. From DuPage County Board Chair Deb Conroy…

I’ll just stick by our statement yesterday. We had a productive conversation, and the sheriff assured me he would uphold all state and local laws. During our meeting, we agreed to release a joint statement and say nothing further.

So, as far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing more to say. We move forward, focusing on keeping our residents and community safe.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* Background is here if you need it. Letter posted by DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick on Facebook

Do not listen to the media. I was not threatened to be censured or anything else during this meeting.

Um, the public threats of censure clearly came well before the meeting. Sheriff Mendrick knew what he’d gotten himself into and what consequences he faced. As far as I can tell, no media outlet reported that any such threats were made during the meeting. Maybe he just saw something on Facebook.

* Back to the letter

The meeting that I had with States Attorney Bob Berlin and County Board Chair Debra Conroy yesterday was the first day three tiers of government came together in discussion on this topic.

We ALL agreed that our police should not be going to the homes of our law. abiding residents to harass them over gun registration. They get the issues. We will not be sending deputies out proactively to take your lawfully owned guns. Please remove that stressor from your lives.

Sheriff, it was you and others like you who freaked people out by claiming that law enforcement would be going door to door.

* Returning to the letter

What we will be doing is enhancing penalties for those that use guns illegally in the commission of crimes. Those that commit gun crimes in DuPage will find out how seriously we take gun offenses. If you are not using a gun to conduct criminality, you have nothing to fear from us. If your use of a gun is to harm someone within DuPage County, we are united to make sure you endure every possible penalty that we can bestow upon you for your crimes.

We have reached a time where we must protect our citizens from illegal gun use and at the same time allow law-abiding citizens the ability to defend themselves. The media will make up their own version of this interaction to create conflict, but the truth is that we all agree on the difference between lawful citizens and criminals.

So, if a Naperville police officer arrests a gun store owner for selling banned assault weapons, the sheriff will now allow that person to be incarcerated in his county jail?


It’s just a bill

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Politico

We asked about a State Journal Register story that says there are nearly 1,700 bills being introduced from both chambers that apply to income tax credits for eligible taxpayers, state agencies and departments.

That’s not even close to what the story says

As of Friday, there were 1,690 bills introduced from both chambers - 156 in the state Senate and 1,534 in the House. A common thread in the bills was income tax credits applying to a wide spectrum of eligible taxpayers, state agencies. and departments.

The SJ-R story looked at only a sampling of all the bills. Of those 1,690 bills, Speaker Welch has introduced 940 shells. Deputy Majority Leader Mary Flowers introduced another 76 bills, as did Rep. La Shawn Ford.

* Campaign press release, but it ain’t a bad idea…

Kam Buckner filed legislation to ensure that the head of CPS is a Superintendent and not a CEO, ensuring that schools prioritize students, are not run like businesses, and that there are strict education, certification, and work experience requirements for this role.

CPS had a superintendent until 1995 when the legislature changed Illinois’ law and appointed Paul Vallas to run Chicago’s school district. The change has allowed people like Paul Vallas to ignore the needs of children, their families, and communities and instead make decisions driven by financial outcomes and self interest.

“Our school district has been traumatized by school closures and poor decision making,” Buckner said. “By having a CEO lead our schools we have allowed people without the proper job qualifications to run our district as a business and see our children as data points and not the future of our great City. Legislation I have proposed will change that by reinstating the Superintendent role in CPS and eliminating the title of CEO.”

There have been ten CEOs of Chicago’s public schools since Paul Vallas first took office in 1995.

“As CEO Paul Vallas was driven to create a balanced budget for CPS and it resulted in neighborhood school closures for our children,” said Buckner. “He didn’t put our kids first then and he certainly won’t as Mayor of Chicago.”

Paul Vallas has been an opportunist collecting titles instead of prioritizing Chicago’s youth and education. Chicago State University’s board of Trustees created a job specifically for Vallas to help them turn things around but Vallas was terminated by the Trustees after they realized they had been a pawn in his attempt to advance his bonafides among black voters during his first Mayoral run.

“I sat on the board of Trustees that fired Vallas,” Buckner said. “It was clear then and it’s even clearer now that he puts himself first and it is that same self interested attitude that is allowing him to accept donations from people who used our schools to increase their personal profits. We simply cannot have people like this running our schools or our City.”

Paul Vallas has accepted campaign contributions from Deborah Quazzo, a former CPS employee who violated ethical school standards by pitching her businesses to school principals in an effort to secure CPS contracts and she benefitted from a kickback scheme under CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett.

As state Representative, Kam Buckner has sponsored 100s of bills to help improve public safety, education, housing, and transportation in Chicago including legislation on needs based school funding, which set a minimum teacher salary and an elected Chicago school board.

The bill is here.

* Meanwhile

A proposed amendment to the Sports Wagering Act in Illinois filed by Rep. Robert Rita would introduce exchange trade wagering.

House Bill 1405 seeks to extend the current sports betting regulations in the Prairie State to include betting exchanges, defined in the bill as “the buying and selling of betting contracts at any time prior to the conclusion of an event based on a describable zero to 100 scale of probability”.

Under the bill’s terms, two betting exchange licenses would be up for grabs if it were to pass, with licensees liable to a $500,000 licensing fee. 

Any licensee would be allowed to offer betting exchange services for a period of four years initially and may renew for a $100,000 fee as long as the operator remains compliant with regulations. 

* This is a Republican-sponsored bill, so keep that in mind

Illinois lawmakers on Monday introduced workers compensation bills that would affect compensability on cumulative trauma and work travel.

H.B. 1543 would determine that an injury arose out of and in the course of employment only if the accident “significantly caused or contributed to both the resulting condition and disability.”

The bill doesn’t define “significantly caused,” so it’s not clear how that would compare to other causation standards such as major contributing cause, proximate cause and predominant cause.

Case law says only that workers must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the work incident or duties were a causative factor in an injury. That bill would limit coverage for cumulative trauma, prohibiting coverage for “ordinary, gradual deterioration or progressive degeneration of the body caused by aging or normal activities of living.”

* Same sponsor for this one

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission would be required to establish a new medical fee schedule and implement a closed drug formulary, under legislation introduced Monday.

H.B. 1548 would render all current medical fee schedules inoperative after Aug. 31, 2024, and establish new reimbursement rates based on Medicare percentages. The bill would also require annual updates to the fee schedule starting Sept. 1, 2025, that would be equal to exactly half the increase in the Consumer Price Index.

H.B. 1546 would require the commission to adopt an evidence-based drug formulary by Sept. 1. The bill does not direct the commission toward any current formulary.

* Stand Up America…

State Legislatures are Back. Here’s How They Can Protect and Strengthen Democracy.

State legislatures are back and beginning to set priorities for the 2023 session. As lawmakers gather it’s critical that they prioritize protecting and strengthening democracy – especially with a divided Congress in Washington.

Legislators and voters in New York and Michigan are coming off of big wins in 2022 – having passed sweeping democracy legislation and ballot initiatives – that will now need to be implemented. Meanwhile, the Illinois and New Mexico legislatures will take up fights that fell short last year like voting rights restoration and a democracy package to create a permanent absentee voter list, restore voting rights, implement automatic voter registration, and more.

Here are a few ways states are prioritizing protecting democracy in 2023:

    • Minnesota: Minnesota lawmakers recently introduced a comprehensive pro-democracy package – the “Democracy for The People Act” – that includes automatic voter registration, restoring the right to vote for Minnesotans on probation or parole, and modernizing the state’s campaign finance system. Legislators also launched a democracy caucus in the Minnesota state house. Recently, lawmakers and voting rights advocates from We Choose Us MN held a press conference to announce a legislative agenda to make the North Star State a national leader in democracy.

    • New Mexico: Last session, New Mexico voting rights advocates nearly passed a sweeping legislative package to strengthen democracy and secure citizens’ access to the ballot. Last week, legislators introduced a revamped version in the statehouse. The bill includes a permanent absentee voter list, rights restoration for people on parole/probation, automatic voter registration, an Election Day holiday, and more. New Mexico lawmakers and advocates hosted a press conference on their plans for the session.

    • Oregon: For the past few years, Oregon advocates have worked diligently to pass legislation to allow currently incarcerated citizens in the state the opportunity to vote to support their communities and families. Last year, the legislation was held up in the Joint Committee on Ways & Means, but with Sen. Elizabeth Steiner and Rep. Tawna Sanchez at the helm of the committee this year, hopes of passage are much greater. A coalition, led by formerly incarcerated individuals, continues to fight to pass the legislation, SB 579, this session.

    • Illinois: Illinois voting rights advocates have been working to pass voting rights restoration for people with felony convictions for years. Last year, SB 828, legislation to restore voting rights for currently incarcerated Illinoisans, came just a few votes shy of passing the House on the final day of session. This session, advocates are bringing back the bill, HB 989, and making sure it is prioritized by lawmakers.

Stand Up America’s members are not new to fighting for legislation to shore up democracy at the state level. In fact, last year, Stand Up America’s members drove more than 1,800 calls and 15,000 emails to legislators and sent over 650,000 texts in support of state-level measures that would strengthen democracy in Arizona, Michigan, New Mexico, Illinois, Oregon, New York, and beyond. This year, they will again work in their state houses to pass legislation to state level protections for their democracy.

* And…

I wonder if the upholstered furniture lobby has a position on that one. /s

…Adding… Press release…

Today, U.S. Congressman Sean Casten (IL-06) introduced a package of legislation to increase the size of the House and Senate, as well as restore the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction to better align with Article III of the US Constitution.

The package, named “A Common Sense Vision for American Democracy” would:
Establish 12 at-large senators to be elected through a nationwide system of ranked choice voting
Add approximately 138 additional Members of the House (if it had been implemented after the 2020 census)
Change the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and create a 13-judge multi-circuit panel to hear cases where the United States or a federal agency is a party

This is the first attempt by a sitting Member of Congress to enact this type of reform. There have been no attempts in Congress to expand the Senate or reinstate the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. The last time the House was expanded was in 1911. After an inability to settle disputes over reapportionment after the 1920 Census, the size of the House was arbitrarily locked in place at 435 in 1929.

An overview of A Common Sense Vision for American Democracy can found below, including bill text and section-by-sections of the legislation.

“The fundamental promise of our democracy is to fulfill the will of the people,” said Rep. Sean Casten. “In recent years, we have failed to meet that promise. There is a growing list of issues – from climate action to gun control to healthcare to voting rights – where the federal government has consistently ignored the priorities of the majority of Americans. This failure not only breeds cynicism but ultimately risks the very survival of our government. We must act against the counter-majoritarian institutions of our political system and seek to reestablish the government as a stalwart for the people.

“The Equal Voices Act will increase the size of the House to be in line with the growing population of the United States. Not only will this bill create smaller districts to allow Members to be more responsive to the needs of their constituents, it will also rebalance inflated representation between districts, and allow for greater diversity that is more representative of our great nation. On top of that, it will grow and equalize the Electoral College, better aligning outcomes with the national popular vote.

“The Senate was purposefully constructed to not reflect the will of the majority. However, a government that doesn’t represent the people cannot sustain the support of the people. This amendment establishes 12 at-large senators to be elected through a nationwide system of ranked choice voting. By creating this bloc of senators, comprising roughly 10% of the body, who are directly responsible to public will, the Senate will be forced to move their agenda towards the will of the majority.

“There are currently incentives to control the composition of the Supreme Court to affect the resolution of disputes in a way that furthers specific policy objectives and politics. These incentives have distorted the actual and perceived fairness and independence of the Court, and this must be remedied. The Constitution gives Congress the power to address the structural concerns of the Supreme Court, and we must do so. It’s time for Congress to restore the Court’s jurisdiction to align with Article III of the Constitution and eliminate the current elements that allow the Court to be gamed for political advantages”


Tony Sanders named new state superintendent of education

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I’ve been following this person for a while on Twitter, etc. and he seems to be pretty darned good at what he does. Press release…

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) today named School District U-46 Superintendent Dr. Tony Sanders the new state superintendent of education after a nationwide search. He will assume his duties in late February. ISBE Deputy Education Officer Krish Mohip will serve as interim state superintendent of education during the transition. Dr. Carmen I. Ayala’s term as state superintendent of education concludes Jan. 31. She announced her retirement after 40 years of service and leadership in Illinois public schools.

“Dr. Tony Sanders is an extraordinary choice for State Superintendent of Education,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Dr. Sanders’ breadth of experience as superintendent of School District U-46 and his entire background have prepared him to take on this role. His focus on innovation, social emotional development, and academic excellence make him an extraordinary pick. I can think of no better person to lead the Illinois State Board of Education as we continue to invest in, support, and elevate our students and educators.”

“Dr. Tony Sanders has distinguished himself as a visionary leader and passionate advocate for students and educators,” said ISBE Board Chair Dr. Steven Isoye. “As the superintendent of one of Illinois’ largest school districts, he intimately understands the strengths, the policy history, and the challenges of our public schools. At U-46, he has championed equity, expanded opportunities for students, and brought innovative new programs to the district. The Board looks forward to his leadership; we are confident he will build on our record-high graduation rates and college and career readiness to continue leading Illinois’ schools in a positive direction.

“We are also very grateful to have Krish Mohip serve as interim state superintendent. Krish has a wealth of education leadership experience and will provide important guidance and oversight for the agency during this transition.”

Dr. Sanders expanded the district’s offerings during his tenure in U-46, which is headquartered in Elgin and is the second-largest school district in Illinois. He added full-day kindergarten for all students and implemented a developmentally appropriate play-based instructional program. Dr. Sanders grew the district’s dual language program and created a new alternative high school, the DREAM Academy, to reduce expulsions and better serve students in need of trauma-informed care. He also invested in a grow-your-own educator initiative to provide educational support professionals the ability to return to school to earn their teaching credentials. The initiative has supported more than 60 U-46 employees in receiving full tuition reimbursement as they work toward their teacher licensure. Dr. Sanders improved the district’s financial standing, while overseeing a $660 million operating budget.

Dr. Sanders also has advocated at the state and federal levels as a member and past chair of the Large Countywide and Suburban District Consortium. He supported the effort to reform Illinois’ school funding formula and enact Evidence-Based Funding and to pass the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Prior to becoming the U-46 superintendent in 2014, Dr. Sanders served as the district’s chief of communications and accountability and then chief of staff. He also previously served as the chief communications officer for St. Louis Public Schools and in communications and governmental relations roles within Illinois government, including at ISBE. Dr. Sanders received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois Springfield, his Master of Business Administration from New York Institute of Technology, his Chief School Business Official Endorsement from Northern Illinois University, an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Judson University, and his Doctor of Education from Aurora University.

…Adding… IFT…

The Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) President Dan Montgomery issued the following statement on the appointment of Dr. Anthony “Tony” Sanders as the 31st State Superintendent of Education for the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).

“We congratulate Dr. Tony Sanders on his appointment as State Superintendent of Education and are thrilled to partner with him to achieve policies that center and engage our students and teachers, especially our Black and Brown students who are still recovering from the pandemic. As an Illinois superintendent with a strong education background, Dr. Sanders thoroughly understands the challenges facing our students, teachers, and staff. His steady leadership during the pandemic ensured that Elgin students and school staff were safe and healthy.

“During Dr. Sanders’ tenure leading Elgin District U-46, he was a strong advocate for equitable policies for Black and Brown students. His visionary leadership helped improve district assessment data collection to better the student and teacher experience. We support furthering that effort at the state level and call on him to convene assessment experts, including practitioners, to develop an assessment theory of action.

“We appreciate Dr. Sanders past advocacy for the Evidence Based Funding Formula and hope in his new role, he helps to move our state closer to achieving equitable funding and eliminating disparities in districts statewide.

“We thank Dr. Carmen Ayala for her service and strong leadership during the pandemic, and we are eager to work with Dr. Sanders to continue the equity work that Dr. Ayala started on behalf of our students and teachers.”


Question of the day

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Illinois Chamber President Todd Maisch in Crain’s

The Illinois Chamber of Commerce believes that business and labor can work together. Here are three areas where they can in Illinois. […]

Business and labor both like to build productive assets for our economy. Unfortunately, the state of Illinois has a history of waiting until the last minute to decide what our critical infrastructure needs are and how to pay for them.

The harsh reality is that our typical answer—an increase in the gas tax—will not meet our future needs. Increasing fuel efficiency and a move to electric vehicles will leave our roads, bridges and transit to the ravages of perpetual underfunding. Illinois leads the nation in the vitality of our transportation system. We must have a better way.

Tolling our interstates, allowing public private options and deciding how we fund our waterways and airports are absolute musts. They may not be instantly popular, but we cannot wait for these complicated issues to be addressed years from now. These issues must be addressed now.

Just for a little context, Illinois raised the Motor Fuel Tax by 19 cents per gallon in 2019 and pegged it to inflation. The most recent MFT increase before that was in 1990 - 29 years earlier.

* The Question: Should Illinois convert its interstate highway system to a tolled system? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


Report: ISP takes unspecified enforcement action on weapons ban

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Center Square

Illinois State Police say they took enforcement action against a business for openly advertising the sale of newly banned weapons, but no additional information was provided.

In a YouTube video Friday, gun-rights advocate Todd Vandermyde revealed he’d been told that the state is taking actions to enforce the state’s ban on certain semiautomatic guns and magazines.

“It appears that there was a gun shop that was selling stuff, post the enactment,” Vandermyde said after sharing an anonymous tip that state police confiscated weapons from an individual. 

Monday, a spokesperson for Illinois State Police confirmed in a statement to The Center Square that ISP took enforcement action earlier this month against a business for “openly advertising the sale of banned weapons.” The statement said the investigation is ongoing and additional information wasn’t immediately available.


Isabel’s morning briefing

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Interesting…

* Here’s your morning roundup…


Open thread

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* What’s going on? Keep it Illinois-centric please…


Live coverage

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Follow along with ScribbleLive

  Comments Off      

* Reader comments closed for Juneteenth
* Cash bail did not necessarily make us any safer (Updated)
* Isabel’s afternoon roundup (Updated)
* GOP poll has Sorensen up by 9 points, but below 50 percent
* Showcasing The Retailers Who Make Illinois Work
* It’s just a bill
* Revenue omnibus includes some little-noticed charitable provisions
* Pritzker teams up with IBM, Discover Financial to push for federal quantum funds
* They’ll come back to it
* Open thread
* Isabel’s morning briefing
* Live coverage
* Selected press releases (Live updates)
* Yesterday's stories

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