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Afternoon roundup

Thursday, Feb 16, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Gov. Pritzker is on the road

The Early Learning Center serves more than 700 preschoolers in Springfield each day, in morning and afternoon classes. Yet, like many preschools in the state, the ELC has to turn down parents of 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds because of a lack of staffing and space.

Springfield Public School District 186 Superintendent Jennifer Gill said the center plus two satellite sites are all that currently exist to serve the local need. As a result, anywhere from 100 to 150 families can find their way on a wait list she said. […]

Smart Start is a multi-tiered, $250 million program that would also address staffing issues experienced in early intervention programs and childcare facilities by providing workers a raise. It would also send $5 million to the Department of Human Services to expand its home visiting program.

Gill, Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder, and local Democratic legislators state Sen. Doris Turner of Springfield and state Rep. Sue Scherer of Decatur, joined the governor at the ELC library, his first stop on a state tour Thursday promoting the budget proposal that will need General Assembly approval.

* Mystery solved by Illinoisans? Aviation Week

A small, globe-trotting balloon declared “missing in action” by an Illinois-based hobbyist club on Feb. 15 has emerged as a candidate to explain one of the three mystery objects shot down by four heat-seeking missiles launched by U.S. Air Force fighters since Feb. 10.

The club—the Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade (NIBBB)—is not pointing fingers yet.

But the circumstantial evidence is at least intriguing. The club’s silver-coated, party-style, “pico balloon” reported its last position on Feb. 10 at 38,910 ft. off the west coast of Alaska, and a popular forecasting tool—the HYSPLIT model provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)—projected the cylindrically shaped object would be floating high over the central part of the Yukon Territory on Feb. 11. That is the same day a Lockheed Martin F-22 shot down an unidentified object of a similar description and altitude in the same general area. […]

The descriptions of all three unidentified objects shot down Feb. 10-12 match the shapes, altitudes and payloads of the small pico balloons, which can usually be purchased for $12-180 each, depending on the type.

* Interesting story in Crain’s

Schaumburg thought it scored an economic development win several years ago, when it inked tax break deals with Zurich North America and Motorola Solutions to keep two of the village’s biggest employers — and thousands of high-paying jobs — in the suburb and provide an anchor for an ambitious office, residential and retail development.

Then came the pandemic, severing the link between job and office. Suddenly, the economic ripple effects that local officials imagined when tax breaks were first dangled — a steady stream of office workers stepping out for lunch in the village each day, dropping off their dry cleaning, filling up at local gas stations or stopping by a nearby grocery store on their way home from work — shrank precipitously as workers stayed home, perhaps for good.

Now Schaumburg wants to rework the deals and stop paying millions to the companies for jobs being done remotely rather than in an office park. […]

In reaching the incentive deals, the village estimated that each employee would spend $222 to $361 a week in the suburb, generating nearly $300 a year in annual sales taxes locally, according to court documents.

The village is now in court for refusing to reimburse the companies.

And to give you an idea about the local spending involved with this job location shift, here’s another Crain’s piece

Compared to 2019, the average Chicago office worker is spending $2,387 less on meals, shopping and entertainment near their workplace, the researchers found. That dropoff is smaller than many other U.S. cities, including New York City ($4,661), Los Angeles ($4,200), Washington, D.C. ($4,051), and Atlanta ($3,938), among others.

Chicago workers are spending 26.8% fewer days in the office now than in 2019, according to the study. That ranks ninth among the studied cities, with Washington, D.C., seeing the highest in-office decline, at 37%.

The survey is here.

* It’s a terminal disease and I suffer from it as well…


Tim McCarver, the square-jawed catcher who anchored the St. Louis Cardinals famed “El Birdos” through three pennants and two World Series championships in the 1960s, then went onto a lengthy career as a broadcaster, died Thursday morning. The National Baseball Hall of Fame made the announcement with Major League Baseball later confirming that heart failure was the cause of death. McCarver was 81 years old. “Tim McCarver was an All-Star, a World Series Champion, a respected teammate, and one of the most influential voices our game has known,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “As a player, Tim was a key part of great Cardinals and Phillies teams in his 21-year career. In the booth, his analysis and attention to detail brought fans closer to our game and how it is played and managed. Tim’s approach enhanced the fan experience on our biggest stages and on the broadcasts of the Mets, the Yankees and the Cardinals.

* Isabel’s roundup…


  1. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Feb 16, 23 @ 3:01 pm:

    “I tried contacting our military and the FBI—and just got the runaround—to try to enlighten them on what a lot of these things probably are. And they’re going to look not too intelligent to be shooting them down,” says Ron Meadows, the founder of Scientific Balloon Solutions (SBS), a Silicon Valley company that makes purpose-built pico balloons for hobbyists, educators and scientists.”

    Shooting $400,000 missiles to take down $40 hobbyist balloons is not too intelligent indeed.

  2. - Amalia - Thursday, Feb 16, 23 @ 3:24 pm:

    why in the world would these things NOT be restricted by the FAA? birdstrikes can take down a plane. things floating around in airspace that can be occupied by planes? yeah. sorry hobbyists, I’m with the UK. restrict.

  3. - cermak_rd - Thursday, Feb 16, 23 @ 3:37 pm:

    Oh, man, RIP Tim McCarver! I loved listening to him call games. So calm.

  4. - cermak_rd - Thursday, Feb 16, 23 @ 3:40 pm:

    I worked in Schaumburg for 8 years of my total career. I definitely didn’t spend that much a week, usually preferred to fuel up close to home and just go to the office with my lunch sack and come straight home in the evening.
    Same was true for the months of the pandemic I worked. Took a box of protein bars to work on Monday, ate them in my car M-F for lunch and break and fueled up near home.

  5. - TheInvisibleMan - Thursday, Feb 16, 23 @ 3:59 pm:

    –which can usually be purchased for $12-180 each–

    I was really hoping this wasn’t the case. After drones became more restricted by the FAA because a lot of people with more stem than brain were flying them around, many people migrated to these balloons as a hobby.

    It was fun while it lasted.

  6. - buzz - Thursday, Feb 16, 23 @ 4:06 pm:

    “things floating around in airspace that can be occupied by planes?”

    The Alaska and Yukon objects were supposedly at 40,000 ft (although the speculation above is 38,000). The Chinese balloon was at 60,000 ft. The Lake Huron one was low at 20,000 ft. I get the concern about menacing commercial aviation (I don’t want to be in the plane that hits a balloon!). I think it is worth noting, however, that passenger jets are usually at about 36,000 and these balloons, while potentially a problem, may not constitute as much of a hazard as some hypesters would have you believe.

  7. - Steve Polite - Thursday, Feb 16, 23 @ 4:12 pm:

    From the Axios article: “Librarians also may not put on the shelves any book in the young adult section that includes descriptions of nudity, “any type of sexual act between individuals,” masturbation, cross-dressing, suicide, self-harm, or “excretory functions.”

    I think the ban, as described above, would include the bible. Song of Songs in the Old Testament would fall under this restriction. It has overt descriptions of nudity and sexual acts using metaphors.

    As a former young adult, I know they will always find a way to read or view forbidden content.

  8. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Feb 16, 23 @ 4:21 pm:

    Tim McCarver, a fine baseball player, an even better interviewer, announcer, ambassador of the game.

    A giant in the game. Godspeed.

  9. - Henry Francis - Thursday, Feb 16, 23 @ 4:22 pm:

    “Librarians also may not put on the shelves any book in the young adult section that includes descriptions of nudity, “any type of sexual act between individuals,” masturbation, cross-dressing, suicide, self-harm, or “excretory functions.”

    That’s really smart. All the impressionable kids I know, when they are looking for smut, they head down to the local library and read a book. There really aren’t any better options in this day and age.

  10. - Henry Francis - Thursday, Feb 16, 23 @ 4:38 pm:

    Interesting piece from the center square about individual states’ average ACT scores. They didn’t mention anything about how rtw states, and low taxed states, significantly outperformed high tax states without rtw.

    The red state with the highest scores was a tie between Idaho and Indiana. At 22.8.

    Which is lower than Illinois at 24.5 (13th best).

  11. - Dysfunction Junction - Thursday, Feb 16, 23 @ 4:43 pm:

    “Librarians also may not put on the shelves any book in the young adult section that includes descriptions of nudity, “any type of sexual act between individuals,” masturbation, cross-dressing, suicide, self-harm, or “excretory functions.”

    Yes, of course. That preschool classic “Everyone Poops” was surely contributing to the downfall of western society. Better safe than sorry.

  12. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Thursday, Feb 16, 23 @ 4:52 pm:

    I doubt Alden can “stall and delay and hold out” as Hinz describes. I’d imagine that if Alden does not negotiate over the compensation for relocation clauses in its contract with Bally’s in good faith there is an avenue in the contract to resolve any dispute (probably an arbitration).

  13. - Homebody - Thursday, Feb 16, 23 @ 4:58 pm:

    @Steve Polite ==As a former young adult, I know they will always find a way to read or view forbidden content. ==

    If anything this just makes it more likely that youngsters will get the entirety of their “education” from unrealistic sources like porn.

  14. - JoanP - Thursday, Feb 16, 23 @ 5:12 pm:

    = Song of Songs in the Old Testament would fall under this restriction. =

    Not just the Song of Songs. What about Lot and his daughters? Do we really want our children reading about incest? Not to mention polygamous marriages and the keeping of concubines.

  15. - MisterJayEm - Thursday, Feb 16, 23 @ 5:12 pm:

    “Librarians also may not put on the shelves any book in the young adult section that includes descriptions of nudity, ‘any type of sexual act between individuals’”

    Judges 19:16-30

    – MrJM

  16. - Amalia - Thursday, Feb 16, 23 @ 5:23 pm:

    @buzz some stories about the last couple of balloons intercepted stated the altitude was nearing the interference zone. it’s interesting that the UK does not allow it, perhaps because their airspace is already filled with conflictions.

  17. - West Wing - Thursday, Feb 16, 23 @ 5:40 pm:

    RIP Tim McCarver, Cardinal legend. I grew up when the “El Birdos” of the late sixties were crushing it. With my childhood baseball hero Orlando Cepeda are first, the Cards won the 67 and almost the 68 World Series.

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