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Afternoon roundup

Monday, Jan 23, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Natalie Finnie will be the new Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director. From a press release…

Finnie has served as Deputy Director of DNR since August of 2021 where she oversaw the Office of Land Management, Legislative Department, Office of Oil & Gas Management, and Office of Mines and Mineral. Prior to this, she was the State Representative of the 118th District from 2017 to 2019. She has experience as an Advanced Practice Nurse and Family Nurse Practitioner. Finnie received her Associate of Science and Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Southern Indiana. She received her Master of Science in Nursing at Vanderbilt University

Former Director Colleen Callahan was asked to leave, according to her

“I am not angry nor am I ticked off.”

That’s because she understands whether a presidential appointment, which she had earlier in her career, or the state-level, you serve at the pleasure of the leader. She admitted to being disappointed and hurt by the request.

Finnie is from the Phelps family.

According to the same release, the directors of the departments of Human Rights, Human Services, Veterans’ Affairs, Military Affairs, Agriculture, Aging, Financial and Professional Regulation, Public Health and Revenue will all be sticking around, as will the State Police Director, IEMA’s director and the Assistant Adjutant Generals of Army and Air. No word yet on embattled DCFS Director Marc Smith.

* A study for the Citizens Utility Board ranked Illinois fifth in the nation for overall utility performance.

Illinois ranked 19 out of 51, including DC, for total energy cost per household. Our annual household energy spending was $1,795 in 2020, compared to the US average of $1,911.

Illinois ranked 13th on energy reliability and performance in 2022, down from 5th in 2021. We were one notch below the national average for restoring power when factoring in “major event days” at 358 minutes in 2020. Without major event days factored in, we were 5th in the nation, at 85 minutes.

Illinois was 12th in the nation on environmental rankings in 2020, up eight notches. The state of Washington was first, West Virginia was dead last. And Illinois was 10th in the nation in renewable electric generation in 2021. As far as “clean” generation goes, we ranked 2nd.

* I love this Jim Durkin story from Sneed’s latest

In 2019, Durkin received a “regal invitation” to a private reception for Great Britain’s Princess Anne in Chicago.

“I was stunned,” he said. “Well, well, I’ve certainly come a long way from the small house I shared with my brothers Tom, Kevin, Terry, Mike, Pat, Bob and Bill in our middle-class neighborhood, where I always sat at the little kids table. I had arrived!

“So I followed all the protocols, even curtsied … bowed my head … although Princess Anne seemed to roll her eyes when I told her I was head of the Illinois Republican House.

“But, at the end of the reception, I found out my invitation was a mistake. I had been confused with U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin!”

* From Rep. Ann Williams’ constituent newsletter…

Just two years ago, in January 2021, we began the 102nd General Assembly meeting in the cavernous Bank of Springfield Convention Center, with our desks six feet apart amid an ongoing pandemic. Along with 18 of my colleagues, I pushed for new leadership in the Illinois House and welcomed Emanuel “Chris” Welch as the first black Speaker to guide us through a challenging time of transition - and accomplishment. We established Illinois as a global leader in clean energy through passage of the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) and passed a sweeping criminal justice reform package. We supported small businesses and our healthcare system through unprecedented times, balanced our budget and earned six credit rating boosts as a state. It was a whirlwind few years.

The end of the 102nd GA - the remaining few days in January referred to as the ‘lame duck’ session - was no different. We wrapped up the session by passing an assault weapons ban, increasing access to reproductive healthcare and gender affirming care, ramping up renewable development as a follow-up to CEJA, providing for greater investment in the revenue-generating tourism and hospitality industries, and more.

Quite the ride.

* Don’t be naughty…


* Greg Hinz

A new poll released today by Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s campaign indicates that while her support has softened a bit in the last month as she’s come under strong attacks from rivals, she’s still ahead a tad.

But the poll also indicates that former Chicago Public Schools chief Paul Vallas is surging and now is in a statistical tie with Lightfoot for the lead. […]

The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Some numbers

    Lightfoot 25%
    Vallas 22%
    Garcia 18%
    Wilson 11%
    Johnson 9%

Unsolicited advice: Garcia needs to get himself on the teevee and stop talking about Congress. Almost everybody hates Congress.

* Friendly reminder…


…Adding… From the Sangamo Club…

Dear Sangamo Club members:

We received numerous communications from people who believe the Sangamo Club is closing following the SJR article dated January 19, 2023.

We are not closing. Whether we sell the building or not, we intend to remain open. We have a new chef who has greatly improved our menu, our kitchen, and our service. We hope to be in business for another 133 years.

…Adding… Press release…

Today, Congressman Jesús “Chuy'’ García, candidate for Mayor of Chicago, received the endorsement of State Senator Ram Villivalam, 40th Ward Alderperson Andre Vasquez, the 39th Ward Democratic Organization, and Vote Assyrian.

“Chuy is my choice for Mayor. As a state legislator, I know that we will have a strategic partner in Chuy to work together in a collaborative manner and best serve our constituents,” said Villivalam. “I’ve seen how Chuy works with communities across our city and brings their voices to the halls of Congress. I am thankful for his invaluable work to deliver billions of federal dollars and investments during the pandemic that saved our city and paved the way for historic improvements in transit and infrastructure across Chicagoland.”

* Isabel’s afternoon roundup…

    * Crain’s | Durbin leads Democrats critical of Biden over documents mess: Biden should be “embarrassed by the situation,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, said the crisis meant Biden no longer held the moral high ground on an issue that had hurt Donald Trump, the former president and Biden’s 2024 rival. An FBI search last year of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence revealed he had taken boxes of classified material with him to Florida.

    * Talking Points Memo | Certainly Illinois Can Do Better Than Dick Durbin: I’ve been hearing from people in and out of the political world saying things like this: folks like Dick Durbin really need to retire. Yes, I’m talking about his Sunday show appearance yesterday and his commenting on the Biden classified documents. What I’m describing here isn’t only about Dick Durbin. But he is one of the prime offenders.

    * Pro Publica | Pressure Mounts for Hospice Reform: Industry leaders are not the only bloc pressuring CMS for greater hospice oversight. Senators and government watchdog agencies are also pushing the agency for concrete changes. Last week, the Government Accountability Office released a report asking that hospices be required to report observations of abuse and neglect, regardless of whether the alleged perpetrator works at the hospice. MedPAC, the congressional advisory panel on Medicare spending, has again endorsed modifying the hospice payment structure to reduce part of the financial incentive for enrolling ineligible patients. And in late December, the inspector general’s office at the Department of Health and Human Services announced that curbing the abuse of hospice patients was among its top unimplemented recommendations.

    * NPR | Changes appear to be coming for how wind and solar arrays are sited in Illinois: Wind arrays in particular have created controversy, usually from landowners of properties neighboring those participating in the projects. The state law would create a setback requirement of 1.1 times the maximum blade tip height of the wind tower to the nearest point on the property line of nonparticipating properties, or 2.1 times for nonparticipating residences. The law also requires occupied community buildings or nonparticipating residences not experience more than 30 hours of shadow flicker per year. Those are the moving

    * Tribune | Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 Superintendent Olson resigns: At a December Board meeting, an organized group of district parents called on the board to fire Olson over an attempt to move the traditional Holiday Sing to a Spring Sing. Some parents also questioned the district’s hiring of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion consultant.

    * Crain’s Editorial Board | The Loop crisis merits a higher priority on the mayoral campaign trail: Crain’s and Bloomberg News report, almost $175 billion of real estate credit around the world is distressed—about four times more than the next biggest industry. As the toll from higher interest rates and the end of easy money mounts, many global real estate markets are almost frozen. Weak demand and a surge of sublease offerings from companies trying to shed unneeded workspace are forcing landlords to shell out huge amounts of cash and other perks to get deals done, while pushing some to surrender their properties to their lenders rather than face foreclosure battles.

    * Beacon News | North Aurora police say new comfort dog will help them reach out to community: A 26-year veteran, Patrolman David Parr, 47, is now the handler for a new police comfort dog dubbed “Indy” - a 2-year-old black Labrador that joined the North Aurora Police Department last month. Already a dog owner himself, Parr said the new “officer” remains a work in progress but is convinced his new partner – whose full name is Indiana Jones - will deliver in the clutch whenever called upon.

    * Journal Courier | State police plan enforcement campaigns in Sangamon: Officers will look for motorists driving in an unsafe manner, driving with a suspended or revoked license, transporting open alcoholic beverages or violating one of the “fatal four” laws — driving under the influence, speeding, driving while distracted, or not using safety belts and child restraints. They are called the fatal four because they are involved in the majority of traffic crashes and deaths.

    * WGN | GoFundMe created for man with special needs critically wounded in Back of the Yards shooting: “He has a long road to recovery, so you can imagine how this will forever impact his and his family’s life. We are hoping his vision is not too affected by this as he uses vision boards to communicate,” the fundraiser reads. Police said Rega was waiting for a school bus along with his father and 15-year-old brother, who also has special needs, on Jan. 18 in the 4700 block of South Wolcott.

    * WaPo | Even after New Mexico shootings, little GOP reckoning over election denialism: After Peña’s arrest, Republican leaders condemned the attacks, which included a spray of bullets into a 10-year-old’s bedroom, and acknowledged that the former candidate’s criminal history should have been a red flag. There was far less apparent interest in a reckoning over Peña’s beliefs in widespread voter fraud, a false theory pushed relentlessly by former president Donald Trump and his supporters.

    * Crain’s | How abortion pills could be advertised after retail pharmacy ruling: Walgreens and CVS intend to become certified to sell the pill, according to brand spokespeople. CVS does not plan to advertise mifepristone or misoprostol, a representative said. Walgreens declined to say if it will advertise the pills.

    * Herald-Whig | United Alloy picks Quincy for third manufacturing facility: “We’re going to start out in a 24,000 square foot space we’re leasing on Commercial Drive,” Lodahl said. “Somewhere down the road, we’d like to either find a larger space to get into, or find some dirt that we can build up on.”

    * Crain’s | Choose Chicago gets $5.5 million in COVID relief funds: The three-year grant is part of the city’s Chicago Recovery Plan to “amplify once-in-a-generation federal funding to create an equity-based investment strategy to catalyze a sustainable economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

    * Vox | Your segregated town might finally be in trouble: The Biden administration’s housing department proposed a new rule last week that would require virtually all communities across the US to create plans to address local housing discrimination or face a penalty, including the potential loss of billions of dollars in federal funding. Essentially, any city or county that accepts HUD grant money — large and small, rural, urban, and suburban — would have to comply.

    * Center Square | Feeding deer does more harm than good, forest preserve officials say: “The state has banned the feeding of deer in Illinois because they do not want chronic wasting disease to spread,” she said. Cain said CWD is a cruel disease that causes a long slow death for infected deer. It is impossible to tell by looking at a deer if it has been infected with CWD. It takes at least 18 months for a deer that is infected to show symptoms. The only way to contain the spread of CWD is to keep deer from intermingling.

    * WaPo | FDA proposes switching to annual coronavirus vaccine, mimicking flu model: The proposed change is designed to reduce the complexity of the vaccine regimen for the public, doctors and manufacturers. It also reflects a view that “chasing variants” with ever-changing booster formulations is ultimately futile, in part because the public has little interest in getting repeated injections, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about it.

    * AP | Is tipping getting out of control? Many consumers say yes: Some fed-up consumers are posting rants on social media complaining about tip requests at drive-thrus, while others say they’re tired of being asked to leave a gratuity for a muffin or a simple cup of coffee at their neighborhood bakery. What’s next, they wonder — are we going to be tipping our mail carriers and dentists, too?

    * Sun-Times | Bob Dylan’s expanded 1997 masterpiece ‘Time Out of Mind’ reveals new layers: The 17th volume of Dylan’s bootleg series archival release series, reveals even more layers to the record that reset the trajectory of Dylan’s career. It also proves, yet again, that Dylan’s discards are as good or better than most people’s official catalogue.

    * AP | Elon Musk testifies in second day of Tesla tweet trial: Musk, who said he “had trouble sleeping last night and unfortunately I am not at my best,” testified that it was important for jurors to know that he “felt that funding was secured” due to his ownership of “SpaceX stock alone.”

    * Sun-Times | ‘Surreal’: 70 Chicago-area high school seniors receive full-ride scholarships through golf caddying: Each summer throughout high school, the students in the program spend several weeks living with other students, working as caddies and prepping for college entrance exams. As caddies, the students wake up at 6 a.m. each day to carry heavy bags, walk all 18 holes and assist golfers during their games.

       

24 Comments »
  1. - Treefiddy - Monday, Jan 23, 23 @ 2:41 pm:

    Updated my 2023 ID badges during the lame duck. Sadly, they weren’t updating photos, so I’m stuck with the old one with a big pandemic beard and the neck gaiter I forgot to take off for another year…


  2. - Big Dipper - Monday, Jan 23, 23 @ 2:48 pm:

    Aren’t angry and ticked off the same thing? Maybe it was time for a change.


  3. - Arsenal - Monday, Jan 23, 23 @ 2:48 pm:

    ==“But, at the end of the reception, I found out my invitation was a mistake. I had been confused with U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin!”==

    Well, to be fair to the royals, that was basically his campaign strategy in 2002.


  4. - Oh Boy - Monday, Jan 23, 23 @ 2:52 pm:

    Steve Brubaker made capfax. God help us! LOL


  5. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jan 23, 23 @ 2:53 pm:

    ===God help us===

    Too late /s


  6. - Walker - Monday, Jan 23, 23 @ 3:01 pm:

    That quote in the Crains piece is some word salad


  7. - Save Ferris - Monday, Jan 23, 23 @ 3:02 pm:

    Parents got a superintendent’s scalp over a holiday singing event being moved to the spring?

    Probably the same parents upset paddling isn’t still in every classroom.


  8. - Sir Reel - Monday, Jan 23, 23 @ 3:02 pm:

    Once again DNR gets a political director versus someone who actually knows something. DNR’s a small agency but has lots of constituencies, lots of special funds, conflicting mandates, etc. It deserves better.


  9. - NIU Grad - Monday, Jan 23, 23 @ 3:02 pm:

    I’m happy to see some stability across state agencies. Annoyed at the IDNR drama…it’s usually not the best way to find future opportunities when you criticize your dismissal on the way out.

    However….”She has experience as an Advanced Practice Nurse and Family Nurse Practitioner. Finnie received her Associate of Science and Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Southern Indiana. She received her Master of Science in Nursing at Vanderbilt University”

    Quite the education for leading IDNR…


  10. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jan 23, 23 @ 3:13 pm:

    As I am still really confused to the Lightfoot base I find myself look at this poll and wondering which of these candidates can get to a runoff, and if that runoff is with Lightfoot, can that candidate do what Preckwinkle couldn’t?

    I would like a real look-see at how things are in the Chuy Camp these days, just as a curiosity of sorts, nothing more.


  11. - JSI - Monday, Jan 23, 23 @ 3:18 pm:

    Southern Illinois with it’s large number of state parks and wilderness areas should be thankful to see one of our own serving DNR.


  12. - Yiddishcowboy - Monday, Jan 23, 23 @ 3:20 pm:

    DNR will do just fine with Natalie Finnie as director…just fine. If I recall, people had the same or similar concerns (or complaints) about Colleen Callahan when she was appointed. And Callahan ended up doing a lot of good for DNR. Yes, she had her detractors, but who doesn’t develop some enemies at an agency that interacts with and serves such a wide variety of constituents. And, I’ll remind people: DNR is involved with a lot more than just hunting and fishing.


  13. - Amalia - Monday, Jan 23, 23 @ 3:23 pm:

    That Dale Bowman. He gets stuff (banned punctuation)


  14. - 47th Ward - Monday, Jan 23, 23 @ 3:24 pm:

    I think it’s still very fluid OW. Vallas is getting a lot of traction among white voters along the lakefront, and Lori has a much tougher time without those people in her corner. I suspect you’ll see some strong ads going after Vallas for some of his controversial right wing comments.

    Chuy hasn’t taken off yet, and the longer it takes, the more I wonder if it’s going to happen for him. He got knocked back on his heels with the Madigan stuff, and as Rich noted, he needs to be on the air yesterday. His troops are currently working for Johnson, which doesn’t help.

    I think the top three candidates from the poll are right so far, but not necessarily in that order. And I think it’s going to get weirder from here on out.


  15. - James - Monday, Jan 23, 23 @ 3:31 pm:

    Anytime someone that isn’t from north of Springfield gets an agency head position that is a win. Qualified or not.


  16. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jan 23, 23 @ 3:39 pm:

    ===I think the top three candidates from the poll are right so far, but not necessarily in that order. And I think it’s going to get weirder from here on out.===

    On this, I do wholeheartedly agree.

    Thanks for your thoughts. They help.


  17. - Been There - Monday, Jan 23, 23 @ 3:41 pm:

    ==== and if that runoff is with Lightfoot, can that candidate do what Preckwinkle couldn’t?====
    I can’t say whoever gets in a runoff with her that they will definitely beat Lightfoot. But I will bet big that it will a lot closer than that last runoff. The one Lori thought she was given a mandate when it was actually an anyone but Toni vote.


  18. - Back to the Future - Monday, Jan 23, 23 @ 3:42 pm:

    Glad to hear the news from the Sangamo Club.
    Hope it is true.
    Always liked going to that place. The people at the Club are always nice and courteous.


  19. - Been There - Monday, Jan 23, 23 @ 3:48 pm:

    ====Former Director Colleen Callahan was asked to leave, according to her…====
    Callahan comes out of the Durbin (old Dixon) part of the spectrum. Guessing, but I would think the DPI struggle has to do more with this than anything else.


  20. - Friendly Bob Adams - Monday, Jan 23, 23 @ 4:18 pm:

    In my own unscientific survey, I’ve found quite a few suburbanites saying something like “If I lived in the city, I would vote for Vallas”.

    So if the Vallas commercials are attracting people that can’t vote for him, is that a good thing?


  21. - Big Dipper - Monday, Jan 23, 23 @ 4:21 pm:

    ==quite a few suburbanites saying something like “If I lived in the city, I would vote for Vallas==

    Vallas and his family lived in the burbs for most of the last two decades (he commuted to the Philly and NOLA jobs) so it makes sense that suburbanites would feel a natural kinship with him.


  22. - Gordon Willis - Monday, Jan 23, 23 @ 4:50 pm:

    What about Secretary of Transportation?


  23. - Joe Schmoe - Monday, Jan 23, 23 @ 7:42 pm:

    Sangamo dining product has improved immensely in recent months. Glad to still be a member and encourage others to join if you’re looking for a quality dining experience close to the capitol.


  24. - Loop Lady - Tuesday, Jan 24, 23 @ 6:35 am:

    Why would a nurse be named the head of DNR?
    Oh, I see she’s related to the Phelps family.

    I think Durbin should have been challenged at least two
    cycles ago.

    He has to make way for a new generation of Congress critters.


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