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Friday, Mar 31, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The B-52s (pre-fame) will play us out

Name ‘em today?

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Afternoon roundup

Friday, Mar 31, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Fitch revised the state’s rating outlook to “Positive” from “Stable” earlier this week. Click here for the analysis.

* Wirepoints is at it again, so the Illinois State Board of Education has issued another statement on proficiency standards…

Illinois has among the most rigorous proficiency standards in the nation, which State Superintendent Sanders recently outlined in ISBE’s Weekly Message newsletter. In Illinois, “proficient” means much more than just reading on grade level. Our standards cover a depth and breadth of higher order language arts skills from writing, to logic, to critical thinking and analysis. When you compare Illinois’ student performance to that of other states, it’s like comparing home runs across ballparks that all have differently sized outfields. It’s much easier to hit a home in the Colorado Rockies’ Coors Field than in the Detroit Tigers’ Comerica Park. Our rigorous standards help guide instruction, so students are truly ready for the next grade level.

Additionally, school context matters. School proficiency rates strongly correlate to the income levels of the students and families served. Schools that serve historically under-resourced communities, students in alternative schools, and high numbers of English learners have a much steeper hill to climb to reach “proficiency.” Therefore, Illinois evaluates schools based on multiple measures of performance, including growth, student attendance, climate and culture surveys, and graduation rates. Evaluating schools based on growth in addition to proficiency gives us a more holistic understanding of school quality because even if a student starts school below grade level due to living in poverty, a good school can still help that student achieve significant growth. ISBE is committed to providing every school with the support and resources they need so that every student can meet these high expectations.

* Press release…

State Senator Laura Fine has passed legislation to ensure reports of abuse or neglect in state-operated developmental centers are thoroughly investigated and addressed. The legislation intends to address allegations of abuse at Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center in Anna, Illinois, where certain staff members have been accused and charged with multiple accounts of abuse to patients.

“Vulnerable residents living in state-run facilities are entitled to the best care possible and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” said Fine (D-Glenview). “This initiative will ensure people who take advantage of people in our care will face consequences for their actions.”

Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center serves patients struggling with mental and behavioral health concerns and/or developmental disabilities. Some employees of Choate have been charged with and found guilty of physically or emotionally abusing patients, as well as obstructing official probes and lying to investigators about wrongdoing.

Senate Bill 855 would create repercussions for employees who do not report incidents of abuse under the Code of Silence. People who do not report cases of abuse or who actively obstructed investigative reports would be added to the Illinois Department of Public Health’s health care workers registry, letting future employers know their role in silencing survivors of abuse at their job. These additions will hold bad actors accountable and discourage employees from obstructing investigations.

“It is the responsibility of the state to protect our most vulnerable from abuse and neglect,” said Fine. “This legislation will be an important tool to deter further atrocities from taking place.”

Senate Bill 855 passed the Senate on Wednesday, March 29. It now goes to the House for further discussion.

* Center Square

Because of “unreasonably large campaign contributions” to then-candidates now sitting justices on the Illinois Supreme Court from lead defendants in the case challenging the state’s gun ban, plaintiffs are seeking recusal. […]

Caulkins’ attorney Jerry Stocks filed a motion Thursday for the justice to recuse themselves because of “unreasonably large campaign contributions” from Pritzker and Welch that “undermine public confidence” in the judiciary. […[

Stocks argues the justices campaigned on supporting a ban on semi-automatic weapons and high capacity magazines. The motion filed Thursday notes that “each candidate voiced their support of [gun control] organizations’ top legislative priority: banning assault weapons and large-capacity magazines in Illinois.”

Also from the recusal motion: “The Justices were two of the G-PAC endorsed candidates that won the 2022 General Election with the support of G-PAC and Giffords PAC. The organizations claimed that they were heavily involved in delivering victories in many contested races. To earn the endorsement of G-PAC and Giffords PAC, each candidate voiced their support of the organizations’ top legislative priority: banning assault weapons and large-capacity magazines in Illinois. Looking toward veto and lame duck session before the 103rd General Assembly is sworn in this coming January, the gun violence prevention movement will be forcefully advocating to pass the measure into law.”

The motion is here.

* Isabel’s roundup…

    * Tribune | Where and how to vote in mayor and City Council races on April 4: With Chicago’s mayoral race winnowed to two candidates — Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas — and only a dozen or so aldermanic races headed to runoffs, Chicagoans will head to the polls one more time, on April 4, to settle who will take over the fifth floor at City Hall as well as the direction of the City Council for the next four years.

    * AdImpact | Chicago Mayoral Runoff Deep Dive: On Tuesday, April 4th, Chicago will be voting again in a runoff to decide who will become their next mayor. Last month, the general election resulted in Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson being the top two candidates, defeating seven other candidates, including incumbent mayor Lori Lightfoot, who placed third. We saw $22M spent on the general election—the most spent on a Chicago mayoral election. So far, $12.4M has been spent on the runoff election, for a combined total of $34M. This marks a 79% increase in spending from 2019’s mayoral election total of $19M, of which $16M was spent on the general election, and $3M on the runoff. The Chicago mayoral general and runoff elections are the second and third most expensive elections of 2023 thus far, trailing only Wisconsin’s Supreme Court general election.

    * WCBU | Former Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman touts plan to fix what ails Peoria by attracting more executive talent: Former Caterpillar CEO and chairman Doug Oberhelman wants to attract more business executives to the Peoria area. The new “Choose Greater Peoria” talent attraction strategy is helmed by the Gilmore Foundation and Greater Peoria Leadership Council, in collaboration with marketing firm Simantel.

    * Aurora Beacon-News | Planned Aurora marijuana dispensary a hometown affair: The principals - in addition to Salesky there is Linda Wirth, the chief operating officer and an East Aurora alum, and Spencer Thomas, assistant chief officer and a West Aurora grad - were awarded a conditional adult use dispensing license by the state of Illinois as a social equity applicant.

    * NPR State Week | Key government witness on the stand in ComEd bribery trial: Fidel Marquez is a former Commonwealth Edison executive turned government informant. His testimony dominated the federal trial of four other former ComEd officials during the week. Prosecutors used Marquez in an effort to show how the utility worked to keep on the good side of former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

    * Newswise | Hope for salamanders? Illinois study recalibrates climate change effects: “The older estimates were predicting almost 100% of the suitable habitat being wiped out for some of these species. But once we incorporated microclimate data at fine spatial scales for our study area in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP), we found it might not be nearly that severe.

    * Shaw Local | Illinois Valley schools dismiss early with threat of severe weather: Numerous schools across the Illinois Valley either canceled sporting events and/or announced early dismissals ahead of a severe weather alert that has been moved up. Though earlier forecasts had called for a two-hour window of powerful storms Friday evening, the forecast now calls for an extended window of storms beginning at 2 p.m. through 9 p.m., with storms most likely (80% chance) at about 5 p.m. when extra-curricular activities were set to take place.

    * Post Tribune | Gary shifts to new school bus company: Like Illinois Central, First Student’s drivers would belong to a union, he said. Illinois Central drivers had been represented by Local 73 of the Service Employees International Union. The move severs the often contentious relationship with Illinois Central, which provided bus service in Gary for several years. Gary has contracted out the service since the late 1980s.

    * Telegraph | Meadowbrook fire fueled by Thursday winds: Firefighters from four departments battled a blaze in Meadowbrook Thursday evening that closed Illinois 140 for more than two hours. Medowbrook firefighters responded shortly after 6 p.m. Thursday to a commercial building on fire at the corner of Maple Drive and Illinois 140. The building was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived, so they called for assistance from Bethalto, Cottage Hills and Rosewood Heights fire departments.

    * Tribune | Tollway to resume issuing fines for drivers with unpaid tolls: Drivers will have 14 days after missing a toll to pay with no fee. After 30 days, the Tollway will issue an invoice for a $3 fee for passenger vehicles, or between $5 and $15 for commercial vehicles. After 90 days the fee will rise by $5 per missed toll.

    * NYT | This Is What It Sounds Like When Plants Cry: To be clear, the sounds made by harried plants are not the same as the anxious mumbling you might utter if you have a big deadline at work. The researchers suspect the nervous, popping noise is instead a byproduct of cavitation, when tiny bubbles burst and produce mini-shock waves inside the plant’s vascular system, not unlike what happens in your joints when you crack your knuckles.

    * Sun-Times | What’s Easter without jelly beans, say Illinoisans: If you’re like a lot of Illinoisans, it’s Starburst Easter Original Jelly Beans — at least according to Instacart, the online grocery pickup and delivery folks. While that particular brand of candy was tops in the Land of Lincoln, it was edged out nationally by Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs.

    * Crain’s | Signature Room property in the Hancock tower goes up for sale: A venture led by New York-based Madison Capital and Newark, N.J.-based PGIM Real Estate has hired brokers in the Chicago office of Cushman & Wakefield to sell the 26,168-square-foot restaurant space on the 95th and 96th floors of the tower at 875 N. Michigan Ave., according to marketing materials. There is no formal asking price for the property, which includes the Signature Room restaurant as well as the Signature Lounge cocktail bar above it.

    * Crain’s | Need a table for 2 tonight at a Chicago restaurant? ChatGPT can help.: With OpenTable, diners will be able to type a request into ChatGPT’s chat bubble such as: “I’m looking for a romantic table for two in River North tomorrow at 7 p.m.,” or “Where can I take my mom for brunch this Mother’s Day in Chicago?” The chatbot will then deliver recommendations and pull up available time slots for the diner to book.

    * AP | Minor leaguers ratify 1st collective bargaining agreement with MLB: ‘Historic day for these players’: Minimum salaries will rise from $4,800 to $19,800 at rookie ball, $11,000 to $26,200 at Low Class A, $11,000 to $27,300 at High Class A, $13,800 to $27,300 at Double A and $17,500 to $35,800 at Triple-A. Players will be paid in the offseason for the first time.


Lawsuit promised if crisis pregnancy center regulatory bill becomes law

Friday, Mar 31, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* SB1909 synopsis

Prohibits a limited services pregnancy center from engaging in unfair methods of competition or unfair or deceptive acts or practices: (1) to interfere with or prevent an individual from seeking to gain entry or access to a provider of abortion or emergency contraception; (2) to induce an individual to enter or access the limited services pregnancy center; (3) in advertising, soliciting, or otherwise offering pregnancy-related services; or (4) in conducting, providing, or performing pregnancy-related services. Defines terms. Sets forth legislative intent. Effective immediately.

It passed the Senate today and the roll call is here.

* Press release…

State Senator Celina Villanueva’s measure to holds crisis pregnancy centers from using deceptive practices that interfere with women’s health care decisions continues the fight for equal healthcare reproductive rights for women in Illinois.

“The protection of women’s reproductive healthcare rights is something I will continue to put at the forefront of legislation,” said Villanueva D-Chicago). “Pregnancy is a life changing event in a woman’s life and brings up an array of emotions that deserve to be met with care rather than judgement and shame. “Any woman seeking guidance on what she should do when faced with pregnancy, should not be misled, bamboozled, or made to feel like they are doing something wrong for making the best medical decisions for their lives.”

Senate Bill 1909 prohibits the use of deceptive practices to interfere with an individual seeking to gain entry or access to the provider of an abortion or emergency contraceptives, induce an individual to enter a limited services pregnancy center, in advertising, soliciting, or otherwise offering pregnancy-related services, or in providing pregnancy-related services.

While crisis pregnancy centers may advertise themselves as health care clinics, many of these facilities provide very limited services, such as basic ultrasounds and counseling intended to discourage and limit access to abortion. Some centers are located near clinics that provide comprehensive reproductive health care and use names similar to these clinics in order to misdirect patients. Many provide misleading information overstating the risks associated with abortion, including conveying false claims that abortion causes cancer or infertility.

“Crisis pregnancy centers will often look like an abortion clinic, but often these professionals are not licensed and do not have licensed staff that can carry out proper medical procedures that will benefit women in need,” said Villanueva. “Deceptive practices can cause more harm than help and we need hold those who are at fault responsible for the mental, physical and emotion stress they are causing women all across the state.”

Senate Bill 1909 passed in the Senate and is headed to the House for further consideration.

Some provided audio is here.

* AG Raoul…

Attorney General Kwame Raoul applauded the Senate’s passage of his legislation to hold crisis pregnancy centers that engage in deceptive practices accountable.

Illinois law establishes the fundamental rights of individuals to make autonomous decisions about their reproductive health. There have been reports in Illinois and nationwide of limited services pregnancy centers, often referred to as “crisis pregnancy centers,” using deceptive and misleading practices to spread false information and interfere with patients’ timely access to the full range of reproductive care.

“I experienced deceptive crisis pregnancy center tactics firsthand on a visit to a Planned Parenthood health center in Illinois. People who appeared as though they might work there were outside attempting to divert us away from the health center,” Raoul said. “Patients report going to crisis pregnancy centers – sometimes even receiving exams and ultrasounds – thinking they were visiting a different clinic that offers the full range of reproductive care. This is an extreme violation of trust and patient privacy that should not occur in our state. I would like to thank members of the Senate for passing legislation to help my office hold those engaging in deceptive practices accountable.”

Senate Bill 1909, sponsored by Sen. Celina Villanueva, was approved by the Senate and will now be considered by the House.

“There is a war on people’s ability to make informed decisions about their reproductive health care,” said Sen. Villanueva. “Workers at crisis pregnancy centers should not be able to deceptively mislead women into making decisions that aren’t the best for them or their futures. When you go to the doctor and someone appears to be medical staff, you trust they are medical staff. You trust your ability to make autonomous, informed, evidence-based decisions. Reproductive health care should be no different.”

The mission of most crisis pregnancy centers is to convince pregnant people to carry to term and not have an abortion. While crisis pregnancy centers may advertise their services generally to pregnant people, many of these centers offer very limited services, such as basic ultrasounds and counseling against abortion. Many provide misleading information overstating the risks associated with abortion, including conveying false claims that abortion causes cancer or infertility.

Some are located near clinics that do provide comprehensive reproductive care and use names similar to clinics to misdirect patients from the full range of information and care that it is their right to access. Crisis pregnancy centers do not provide abortions or referrals for abortions. Many do not provide contraceptives or comprehensive prenatal care. They often do not have any medical professionals on site, and they do not necessarily disclose any of these limitations in their online or in-person materials. They also may not keep medical records and personal information private and confidential.

In addition to initiating SB 1909, Attorney General Raoul offered recommendations to patients seeking reproductive care to ensure they can access the full range of health services. Patients should check to be certain that they are entering the correct facility because crisis pregnancy centers may be located near abortion clinics and use similar names to divert women away from abortion providers. They should also make sure the facility they plan to visit offers the full range of reproductive care options if that is what they seek.

* Jennifer Welch, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Illinois Action…

“We applaud the Illinois Senate for passing Senate Bill 1909. This bill holds anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) accountable for deceiving and misinforming people as they are trying to receive reproductive health care. For decades, CPCs have systematically employed deception, fraud, and false pretense to get people in their doors with the goal of denying them abortion access. Often CPCs pose as legitimate health care organizations yet do not have licensed medical staff or follow privacy laws. Thank you to State Senator Celina Villanueva for sponsoring this important legislation. We encourage the Illinois House to pass the bill. If this is signed into law, individuals can file complaints and the Illinois Attorney General will be able to bring legal action against CPCs for their harmful and deceptive practices.”

* Thomas More Society…

“Senate Bill 1909 is a radical attempt to silence and chill the speech of pro-life advocates in Illinois,” stated Peter Breen, former Illinois state legislator and the Executive Vice President and Head of Litigation for the Thomas More Society. “The bill is presented as a ‘consumer protection’ measure, but its purpose is to protect abortion clinics from competition—the supporters of this bill object to pro-life organizations’ highly successful efforts to convince abortion clinic customers to choose life for their children, instead of aborting them. By exempting pro-abortion speech and applying an opaque floating standard against pro-life speech, the bill directly and illegally targets Illinois’ pro-life organizations for civil injunctions and tens of thousands of dollars in fines. This bill is flagrantly unconstitutional, and if it becomes law, we will immediately file suit to protect pro-life organizations’ right to free speech.”


That toddlin’ town roundup

Friday, Mar 31, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Brandon Johnson constantly says he “managed” a multi-billion dollar budget at Cook County. It’s pretty ridic, as the Tribune points out

But Johnson’s record is complicated by the realities of serving since late 2018 as one of the junior members on a 17-person body where President Toni Preckwinkle, who has endorsed Johnson, runs a tight ship and much of the real decision-making is top-down. […]

Preckwinkle and her financial team design the county’s annual budget and drive many of the policy decisions, taking suggestions from commissioners before the board passes their plans with overwhelming support. The Cook County Board president wears the jacket for those choices, as the mayor does for the city budget.

* I am flabbergasted at Vallas’ blatant flip-flop on this, but the reweeted thread does give a progressive explanation for Johnson’s angle…

* Another surprisingly good get for Vallas…

Democratic mayoral candidate Paul Vallas is being endorsed by Chicago baseball great and World Series champion Ozzie Guillen. A local legend as a player, manager and broadcaster for the Chicago White Sox, Guillen is supportive of Vallas’ plans to make the city safer, improve public schools and grow the local economy.

Guillen released a video endorsement that is available here:

“I love Chicago, I’ve made this city my home, and I know that Paul Vallas is the right choice for Mayor,” said Guillen. “We need a Mayor who will hit the ball out of the ballpark, and Paul Vallas is the candidate to do it. He will make our city safer, improve our public schools and invest in every neighborhood. We’re getting close to the 9th inning in this election, and I’m encouraging all Chicagoans to join me in supporting Paul Vallas so he can bring home a big win for our city.”

“Ozzie Guillen is a legend in our city and I’m so excited to have his support as we head down the final stretch of this election,” said Vallas. “I grew up in Roseland as a huge Sox fan, and baseball is such an important part of our city’s culture and history. I’m running to be a Mayor for all Chicagoans, and whether you’re a Cubs fan or a Sox fan we can all agree that we need a safer, more prosperous Chicago.”

* Preaching to the choir…

* Without any real money behind it, this is also mainly just preaching to the choir [UPDATE: The campaign now says this is going up on cable TV]…

Yesterday, news broke that Donald Trump was indicted by a grand jury in New York. Shortly thereafter, audio surfaced of Paul Vallas calling Trump’s impeachment a “witch hunt” in February 2021. This morning, the Brandon for Chicago campaign released a new digital ad, “Witch Hunt?”, exposing Paul Vallas’ opposition to holding Donald Trump accountable.

VALLAS: “And, you know, I always felt that it was a witch hunt. I mean, it doesn’t mean that they didn’t make mistakes and that Trump has acted irresponsibly and I’ve certainly been a critic of what he’s done. But at some point it is time to move on”

Here are five questions Paul Vallas must answer NOW about his stance on Donald Trump:

    Why did Paul Vallas call Donald Trump’s second impeachment a “witch hunt”?

    Does Vallas believe Donald Trump incited an insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021 despite his endorsers dismissing the violence of that day?

    Does Vallas also believe the Mueller Investigation was a “witch hunt”?

    Will Vallas reject any further donations from Donald Trump donors, who so far have fueled his campaign with more than $1 million in campaign contributions?

    In 2021, Vallas described the Biden Administration as “a circus in terms of the administration’s inability to manage anything” and said, “it’s just incompetency,” and “I think they’re clueless, quite frankly.” Does Vallas stand by his own harsh criticism of the President?

The ad is here.

* The choir preaches back…

Today, the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association (CPAA) released their Mayoral Survey results, showing that Brandon Johnson was selected by 62% of principals and administrators who selected a candidate.

“Who better to chime in on which candidate should run the school system than the men and women who run each school in that system?” said Troy LaRaviere, President of CPAAA. “In a way, these survey results are more powerful than an endorsement because they represent the full breadth and depth of the mayoral preferences of Chicago’s school leaders rather than the decision of a handful of association officers.”

* Background is here if you need it…

The guy in the last pic appears to be this person. Sometimes, I think Steve Rhodes had a decent point.

* Ouch…

…Adding… Brandon Johnson release…

Mayoral candidate Paul Vallas is falsely denying his connections to former President Trump’s former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and an Illinois Super PAC that DeVos funds.

DeVos funds and controls the Illinois Federation for Children PAC which made a $59,000 independent expenditure in support of Vallas’ campaign last week. On the same day, DeVos’ American Federation for Children Action Fund, a national 527 PAC funded primarily by DeVos and her husband, made a $65,000 contribution to the Illinois Federation for Children PAC.

Yesterday evening at the Sun-Times-WBEZ mayoral debate, Vallas denied having contact with DeVos, stating “I’ve never had any conversations or contact with Betsy DeVos. And our campaign has not received any money from her.”

The Vallas campaign said on Wednesday evening that “our campaign has not been in contact with this organization [Illinois Federation for Children PAC].”

In reality, Vallas and DeVos served together as hosts at an Urban League of Chicago event on September, 9 2021 in honor of the superintendent of schools of the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago.

Moreover, the chair of the Illinois Federation for Children PAC Nathan Hoffman has been regularly attending Vallas campaign events in the last month, including Vallas’ February 28th election night party:

Hoffman was a registered contract lobbyist in Springfield for the DeVos-founded and funded 501c4 American Federation for Children until January 2023.

On June 18, 2022, Vallas appeared on a panel hosted by extremist anti-LGBTQ+ group Awake Illinois with keynote speaker Corey DeAngelis, senior fellow at DeVos-founded and funded American Federation for Children.

Paul Vallas’ decades-long history of privatizing multiple school districts in the US and extensive support for transferring public funds to private schools are tightly aligned with DeVos’ ideological opposition to the existence of publicly-run, publicly-funded schools.

* Heh…

* Isabel’s roundup…


The art of the possible

Friday, Mar 31, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Synopsis of Sen. Rachel Ventura’s SB1653 as originally introduced

Requires the Department of Transportation, local authorities, or any responsible entity to erect and maintain hazard bars for all viaducts and underpasses with a clearance of less than 15 feet. Provides that the hazard bar shall hang at the same clearance level as the viaduct or underpass and at least 500 feet in front of the viaduct or underpass to alert motorists.

I get what she was trying to do there, but, as you might imagine, it did bring out a lot of opposition.

The Illinois Municipal League, the Township Officials, the Mid-West Truckers Association and the Illinois Trucking Association all registered in opposition to Sen. Ventura’s original bill.

Amendment 1 convinced the Illinois Municipal League to go neutral, but the others were still opposed and ABATE added its own opposition.

* So, she tried again. From Amendment 2

Low-clearance early warning device pilot program. The Department shall establish a pilot program to erect early warning devices on or near bridges or viaducts in this State. Early warning devices may include LiDAR, radar, visual signals, or additional signage. The Department may work with interested stakeholders to identify bridges and viaducts for the erection of early warning devices on roads outside of the Department’s jurisdiction. The Department may work with the University of Illinois on the pilot program. The pilot program shall include, but shall not be limited to, evaluating the effectiveness of early warning devices, developing design specifications, and projecting estimated costs. The Department may adopt administrative rules regarding the pilot program. The Department or local authority responsible for maintaining an early warning device may impose a fine on a motorist who damages an early warning device. The fine shall not exceed $1,000.

That second amendment convinced the two truckers’ groups to go neutral. Nobody else registered in opposition.

* Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) rose to speak on the bill today

I’d like to commend the sponsor as a freshman, the rest of us could all take a lesson from. When you let the committee process work, it works very well. You get a better piece of legislation. When you listen to the input from your colleagues, you get a better piece of legislation. When you take the time to amend it based upon that input, you get a better piece of legislation. This is a much better piece of legislation than it started.

I hope that we can all take a lesson from this freshman sponsor, and realize that shotgunning stuff through at the last minute really doesn’t help get anything done in the long term. So I’m very excited for this. And I thank the sponsor for actually taking the time to listen to members on both sides of the aisle who had very constructive input. … My mentor a long time ago, Rep. Bill Black, told me when you let this process work, it works very well. And this is an example of it.

Sen. Ventura’s close

I want to thank my colleagues for helping me through this very frustrating bill. But I’m happy to have it passed and maybe see less trucks jammed underneath viaducts and bridges in the future. Thank you for the ‘aye’ vote.

The bill passed 56-0.

* I bring this up because Ventura had a reputation in Will County as a progressive, rabble-rousing challenger of the status quo. Many people told me they were convinced she’d alienate her Statehouse colleagues and get nothing done.

So, needless to say, not a lot of folks probably had “Chapin Rose praising Rachel Ventura” on their 2023 legislative bingo cards back in January.

People can be wrong. People can also learn.


It’s just a bill

Friday, Mar 31, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Sen. Sue Rezin’s SB76 to lift Illinois’ moratorium on nuclear power plant construction passed 39-13. Capitol News Illinois

“The bill is going to come to the House with a lot of momentum,” Rezin said in an interview after the bill passed. “The unions are out and working their members to explain the importance of the bill and to just explain the technology.” […]

Sen. Ram Villivalam, D-Chicago, said the bill was “still not fully baked,” adding that the question of what is done with nuclear waste still doesn’t have a solution.

“Whether it’s one pound or a thousand pounds, it’s still nuclear waste,” he said. “We can’t wait for a national strategy, in my opinion.” […]

Some of the state’s largest environmental groups, including the Illinois Environmental Council, oppose the measure. Jack Darin, the head of the Illinois chapter of the Sierra Club, told Capitol News Illinois earlier this month that his organization doesn’t believe nuclear energy is “clean energy,” citing concerns over the environmental impact of nuclear waste.

A similar bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Mark Walker, D-Arlington Heights. That measure, House Bill 1079, was approved in committee with a bipartisan majority, 18-3, although it hasn’t been heard by the full House.

* SJ-R

Legislation from state Sen. Cristina Castro, D-Elgin, passed with only one dissenting vote, 55-1, and would change several stipulations of supplier licenses.

Under the Sports Wagering Act (SWA), signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker in 2019, applicants owed a nonrefundable license and application fee of $150,000 dedicated to the IGB. Currently, these initial licenses last for four years before the license holder would have to pay another $150,000 annually to maintain them. […]

Senate Bill 1462 from state Sen. Robert Peters, D-Chicago, would also deal with licenses and passed in a 44-12 vote mostly along party lines. Senate Minority Leader John Curran was among the six Republicans backing the legislation.

The bill updates eligibility standards for those seeking an occupational license, specifically with regard to their criminal record. IGB would be required to consider length of time since conviction, number of convictions and the severity of the charges among other factors when reviewing an individual’s application through the legislation.


The Illinois Senate unanimously approved a plan Thursday night to help address the shortage of firefighters and EMTs.

Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood) worked with Sen. Neil Anderson (R-Moline) to create an EMT training, recruitment, and retention task force.

They hope this group can address the impact this shortage is having on the state’s EMS and health care systems. The bill also requires the task force to recommend how EMT testing and certification requirements affect recruitment and retention efforts. Senate Bill 761 notes that the group should also discuss how apprenticeship programs can be utilized to help recruit and retain EMRs, EMTs, and paramedics. […]

Nine members of the task force would represent rural and ground ambulance providers while three members would bring the perspective of hospitals. The proposal also calls for members representing the State Board of Education, community colleges, and a statewide association of nursing homes.

* Sen. Martwick…

State Senator Robert Martwick has passed a measure that would prohibit companies from using personal data gathered from retirement plan participants to sell products and services that are not related to the plan.

“When an employee deposits their money in a retirement savings account, they trust the people handling their money are working in their best interest,” said Martwick (D-Chicago). “As we have seen throughout history, unfortunately, this is not always the case.”

The measure enacts a series of strict conflict of interest provisions. Included in the measure are rules regarding companies who perform contracted recordkeeping services for public employee deferred compensation plans.

Current law does not prevent the recordkeeping companies from making use of the personal data provided to them to solicit plan holders. Martwick’s measure would ensure that they could no longer act outside the plan holder’s best interest, and solicit them with services they do not need.

“Account holders’ data should be kept safe from being used for financial product marketing and predatory practices from large financial corporations,” Martwick said.

Senate Bill 1646 passed the Senate Thursday sand now goes to the House for further consideration.

* Scott Holland

When it comes to government, simple solutions are in short supply.

Consider House Bill 2500, which passed 107-0 March 24. State Rep. Harry Benton, D-Plainfield, filed the plan to waive animal shelter adoption fees for Illinois veterans, allowing one free dog or cat adoption every two years. […]

I’m not a veteran but we have two rescue mutts. Our fee covered micro-chipping, vaccines and the spay/neuter procedures at a partnering veterinarian. The rescue and its volunteers incurred expenses transporting the dogs to the suburbs and foster care, plus general website and office costs. […]

Perhaps the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Animal Health and Welfare could certify veteran adoptions and send checks to the rescues, or the veterans could qualify for 1:1 state income tax credits. It’s easy to imagine the pushback if the state ordered county health departments to create veteran pet adoption funds, even if they could pass it along through increased rabies tag fees.

Maybe pet food and supply companies could get tax credits for donating to a fund that would cover the adoption fees, perhaps with an annual cap on expenditures. The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars or other groups might consider helping such an effort, although it’s not as if those groups are presently flush with excess cash. […]

We’re not talking about huge sums, but whenever government pledges waiving a fee, it’s fair to ask who ultimately pays and if there might be a better option.

* Scott Reeder at the Illinois Times

The options for disposing of human remains in Illinois are limited. You can be buried, entombed or cremated. But a bill pending before the Illinois General Assembly would add another option: composting.

That process turns human remains into soil over the course of a few weeks. Companies that offer this service place a person’s remains in a container with wood chips, straw and other organic material and heat it to accelerate the growth of bacteria that breaks down the body.

LeNette Van Haverbeke, a representative of Illinois Cemetery and Funeral Home Association, told lawmakers that many in the field “oppose human composting as lacking the traditional dignity afforded to the dead.”

Call me a cynic, but could it be that some in the funeral home industry don’t like this idea because it limits their ability to upsell grieving loved ones on expensive caskets, vaults and burial plots?

* Sen. Mike Simmons…

To encourage cooperative housing developments, State Senator Mike Simmons advanced a measure out of the Senate on Thursday.

“Many communities across Illinois are experiencing a severe shortage of affordable housing,” said Simmons (D-Chicago). “Cooperative housing models help to fill that gap by providing lower-income individuals access to long-term permanent housing.”

Senate Bill 1484 creates the Cooperative Housing Fund, which would be used by the Illinois Housing Development Authority to award up to $5 million in grants to organizations developing cooperative housing for residents with an income less than or equal to the median income within the municipality.

This measure will promote cooperative housing, a form of housing where entities own the residential building, but its residents are shareholders of the entity. Cooperative housing provides a viable alternative to homeownership for low- to middle-income earners who may not be able to buy a home, while adding a key affordable housing option to those who need it.

* Senate Majority Leader Lightford’s SB16 passed the Senate yesterday…

Building upon her steadfast leadership to take a more holistic, trauma-informed approach in schools, Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford passed a measure to equip schools with the training and resources they need to meet the diverse trauma and mental health needs of students. […]

Schools across the state would be equipped with training and resources to meet the diverse trauma and mental health needs of students, under Lightford’s measure. The Illinois State Board of Education would create a Children’s Adversity Index, which would measure community childhood trauma exposure across the population of children 3-18 years old by May 31, 2025.

ISBE, under the bill, would create a committee to make recommendations amending education licensing requirements to include training on adverse childhood experiences, trauma, secondary traumatic stress, and creating trauma-responsive learning environments and/or communities.

* Naperville Sun

The Illinois House has approved a measure sponsored by state Rep. Anne Stava-Murray, of Naperville, that would allow the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office to deny grant funding to public and school libraries if they ban books or fail to devise policies against removing titles from their stacks.

The 69-39 party-line vote in the Democratic-led House reflected the partisan divide on the book-banning issue both in the state and nationally. The bill is now being considered by the Senate. […]

Republican state Rep. Martin McLaughlin called the bill “a complete go-around and end-around on the local control and authority” of elected library boards.

“I think it’s (a) very blatant attempt to strong-arm our local communities and how they want to direct their libraries to operate and function,” said McLaughlin, of Barrington Hills. “I don’t understand why we have local elections anymore if a bill like this passes.”

Moments before the bill passed, Stava-Murray called the “local control” argument “disgusting,” saying it is “a dog whistle for allowing statewide or nationwide racist or bigoted policies to persist.”

* Sen. Ann Gillespie…

To further prevent discrimination while looking for a place to live, State Senator Ann Gillespie passed legislation out of the Senate on Thursday that prohibits the consideration of immigration status during a real estate transaction.

“Those looking to rent or purchase property in Illinois should not be treated differently because of their immigration status,” said Gillespie (D-Arlington Heights). “Putting these protections in place will promote fairness to ensure people are not unjustly denied housing.”

Senate Bill 1817 amends the Illinois Human Rights Act to provide that it is a civil rights violation to consider immigration status when renting or selling property, including a refusal to engage in a transaction, receive or transmit offers, or negotiate terms of a deal. It would also prohibit a third party loan modification service provider from refusing to engage in loan modification services or altering the terms of such services based on a person’s immigration status. Inquiry or use of immigration status would still be allowed when required by either state or federal law. […]

The measure will now move to the House for consideration.


Judge calls election fraud lawsuit “an attack on the legitimacy and security of our elections”

Friday, Mar 31, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Background is here if you need it. We briefly talked about this story before, but here’s the Daily Southtown

A Will County judge dismissed an election fraud case Thursday filed by the losing candidate in the 2022 race for Will County clerk that claimed mathematic formulas showed the final vote 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 race because her opponent, Democratic Will County Clerk Lauren Staley Ferry, received more votes than Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

* Let’s take a look at Judge Anderson’s ruling

Specifically, the petition states that Ms. Fritz, “in good faith based upon reasonable inquiry,” “believes that mistakes and fraud have been committed in the casting and counting of ballots for the office Will County Clerk,” in such a way “that the outcome of the … election was predetermined.” Ms. Fritz bases her remarkable claims on the following: (1) the fact that Ms. Staley received 4,358 more votes in Will County than did Governor JB Pritzker; (2) the gubernatorial election entailed vastly more media coverage, spending, and superior ballot position than did the County Clerk’s race; and (3) mathematical “analyses” by Messrs. Edward Solomon and Walter Daugherity supposedly establishing that the election “does not reflect the [w]ill of the [p]eople, but the [d]emand of an [a]lgorithm,” and that the vote totals were “artificially contrived according to a predetermined plan or algorithm.”

Ms. Fritz seeks an extraordinary remedy to match her extraordinary claims. She requests (1) a finding that the election was the predetermined result of a fraudulent and manipulated voting process; (2) an order declaring the office of Will County Clerk vacant; (3) an order requiring a new election to be held; and (4) an order that votes be cast with paper ballots and physically hand counted. Equally extraordinary is the remedy Ms. Fritz does not seek: a recount and/or examination of the paper ballots that were actually cast and counted.

Emphasis added.

* I love this first graf

We do not use algorithmic, logarithmic, or statistical analyses to determine official election results. Generally speaking, we use addition.

Consequently, the “analyses” allegedly performed by Messrs. Solomon and Daugherity offer “expertise” that is no more valuable than that which a person with basic arithmetic skills could provide. Even the materials attached to Ms. Fritz’ response brief acknowledge that election forensics “do[] not produce definitive proof of fraud, only statistical anomalies. Finding proof for or explanation of the anomalies could come from in-person electoral monitoring or other social science research ….” Here, Illinois law provides a variety of tools which can actually produce definitive proof of vote counting fraud, such as recounts and in-person election monitoring-yet Ms. Fritz does not request or rely on any of that.

* Conclusion

Fritz’ lawsuit is, in sum and substance, an attack on the legitimacy and security of our elections- an attack no less disturbing than the one imagined in her petition. Abraham Lincoln once said, “elections belong to the people.” Setting aside the electorate’s voice in the County Clerk’s race based on how many votes someone else got in some other race, and based on mathematical probability analyses “would disenfranchise all voters who voted *** and who did nothing wrong in exercising their right to vote.” Accordingly, Ms. Staley’s motion to dismiss is granted; the Verified Election Contest Petition is dismissed on 2-615 grounds.

* Back to the Southtown

[Staley Ferry’s attorney Burt Odelson], who has been an election law attorney for 50 years, said in court Thursday he had “never ever” seen a case like this one, which he said was not based on facts or presented specific allegations but seemingly came from a “cosmic ray from Mars.”

Odelson said Solomon presented mathematical theories on elections that have been debunked in other election cases.

A previous analysis by Solomon is part of a defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems against One America News Network, after Solomon told the network the results in Fulton County, Georgia, for the 2020 presidential election “can only have been done by an algorithm.”


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Friday, Mar 31, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Star ComEd 4 prosecution witness grilled hard by defense

Friday, Mar 31, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I talked with two reporters who are covering the ComEd 4 trial and they both said yesterday’s cross-examination of Fidel Marquez by Mike McClain’s attorney Patrick Cotter was truly intense. Here’s Jon Seidel and Tina Sfondeles

Fidel Marquez made a decision four years ago that might have saved the longtime ComEd executive from dying in prison: He joined Chicago’s long list of government moles and began to secretly record his friends and colleagues for the FBI.

But Thursday, while being grilled on a federal witness stand, Marquez learned that decision can come with a price. With the eyes of his since-indicted former co-workers burning in Marquez’s direction, defense attorney Patrick Cotter pointed their way.

He demanded of Marquez, “You didn’t choose to sit over there, did you?”

“You decided to become their worker,” Cotter said, referring to the feds. “And make calls when they wanted to make calls, and go to meetings and tell lies they wanted you to tell.”

Go read the whole thing. Whew.

* Jason Meisner and Ray Long

Cotter also had harsh criticism for the deal the 61-year-old Marquez struck with investigators, in which he agreed to wire up on his colleagues and eventually pleaded guilty to bribery conspiracy. Marquez could have faced the rest of his life in prison, but prosecutors will instead recommend that he get no jail time, Marquez has testified.

“So the government offered something you wanted — not to die in prison — and you offered something they wanted, your testimony,” Cotter said. “That wasn’t a bribe, was it?”

“No,” Marquez answered.

Again, there’s lots more.

* Hannah Meisel

Cotter noted that for the first year of Marquez’s cooperation with the government, he still insisted he had not done anything criminal, attempting to paint his eventual guilty plea in September 2020 as a purely opportunistic move to avoid prison time.

“You understood that if you persisted in saying you were innocent, you could be criminally charged and potentially face 30 years in prison,” Cotter said.

Marquez responded with the exact maximum prison sentence: “405 months,” which is “33 years and five months,” Marquez offered.

“You remember,” Cotter replied. “And you remember because it’s important to you.…that’s why you’re sitting where you’re sitting.”

Cotter reminded the jury that FBI agents did not record their initial two-hour conversation with Marquez.

“By the end of that two hours, you had decided, without consulting with anybody on the planet except possibly the two FBI agents, that you were going to cooperate with the government and…(wear) a recording device and (record) your friends and co-workers, right?” Cotter asked Marquez.

“Yes,” Marquez responded.

And again, click here for more.

* Steve Daniels

Likewise, the existence of voluminous emails where McClain leans on Marquez and ComEd to hire or find work for people at Madigan’s request should suggest that McClain had no criminal intent, Cotter said.

“Did Mike McClain ever say, let’s not send emails about this? Come by my office and we’ll talk?” Cotter asked Marquez.

After all, Cotter told Marquez, “You know emails never go away. The government can always find emails if they want.”

“Clearly,” Marquez said dryly, drawing laughs in the courtroom.

* Matt Masterson

He also played a recorded phone call Thursday from May 2018 between Marquez, Pramaggiore and McClain in which they discussed strategies for defeating a rate increase bill backed by Madigan’s daughter, then-Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

On the call, the trio discuss using “all of our assets” — including labor unions, vendors, customers and municipal leaders — and “pulling out all the stops” to kill the legislation. But they make no mention of involving Madigan himself.

“At any point in this conversation, does McClain say, ‘Well, I’ll just go to the speaker because he owes us and I’ll ask him to ask Lisa to change the bill or pull it?’” Cotter asked.

“No. … He never said words like that,” Marquez said.

* Isabel’s roundup…


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Open thread

Friday, Mar 31, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Happy Friday! What’s going on in your part of Illinois?…


Isabel’s morning briefing

Friday, Mar 31, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Here you go…


Live coverage

Friday, Mar 31, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Follow along with ScribbleLive


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Pritzker says state will work to protect preventative services after Texas federal judge issues ruling striking them down

Thursday, Mar 30, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The Hill

A federal judge in Texas struck down a key provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires insurers and employers to cover preventive services for free, including cancer screenings and HIV drugs.

The ruling by Judge Reed O’Connor of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas — who previously struck down the entire ObamaCare law before it was upheld by the Supreme Court — applies nationwide.

It immediately jeopardizes access to treatment for the approximately 100 million Americans who use free preventive services annually, and it leaves the door open for insurers to impose deductibles and copays for potentially life-saving screening tests.

The ACA requires insurers to cover, without cost-sharing, more than 100 preventive health services recommended by the U.S Preventive Services Task Force. Cost sharing will likely deter patients — particularly those of limited means — from scheduling mammograms, colonoscopies and other procedures.


Other preventive care mandates under the ACA remain in effect. The decision applies to Task Force recommendations issued on or after March 23, 2010 – the day the Affordable Care Act was signed into law. While the group had recommended various preventive services prior to that date, nearly all have since been updated or expanded.

It is likely the case will be appealed, and the Justice Department has the option to ask that O’Connor’s ruling be put on pause while the appeal is litigated.

* React…


Afternoon roundup

Thursday, Mar 30, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From the governor’s press conference today

Q: Legislation you signed, the Gun Dealer Certification Act, tucked into that was a provision that required ISP to collect a bunch of data on gun crimes in the state. They’re supposed to report it to the General Assembly and to you every year, put it up on, for the public to see. ISP said in a report last month that they’ve been unable to compile that data. How can policymakers like you and Rep. Scherer make good, comprehensive statewide gun policy when we don’t have a full picture? And what’s your administration doing to address some of these?

Pritzker: I think it’s an excellent example for all of us that just passing a law by itself isn’t going to get the job done if there is a problem with implementing the law. That’s not the fault of the General Assembly, I think good intentions, and the general and the administration, good intentions, to be able to gather that data.

Here’s what ISP has discovered, which is, as you go county by county, and law enforcement agency by law enforcement agency, it turns out the systems are, some range of, on paper to, you know, to something that’s, let’s say, somewhat modernized. And so collecting that data year in and year out, or even month in and month out, has just been very difficult. The ISP has found they can’t get the data from some places. And so it’s incomplete. ISP is not able to deliver what the law wants it to deliver. And I think we all realize that there are maybe some adjustments that need to be made, and support for the modernization of law enforcement systems at the local level.

Again, it depends on where you go, right? Chicago has systems that allow them to report on a very regular basis. You probably know Jeremy better than I do. I think it’s on a weekly basis, they’re able to deliver stats in every category. I won’t name places, but let’s just say local law enforcement in some smaller jurisdictions really can’t deliver that stuff in a timely fashion.

So we need to make a change in the law, is likely a need. And then we need to make sure that we have systems that regularly pull the data, and it isn’t a human interaction that is required for every one of these jurisdictions. We just have too many local law enforcement agencies to be able to do that.

…Adding… React

“We continue to work with the Illinois State Police to bring this goal to reality,” said Harmon spokesman John Patterson. “We want to make sure the State Police makes available to the public the gun violence information it has, while also working on the bigger issue of how to get more agencies across this state to share that information in a way that’s useful to the public and public policy makers.”


Total nonfarm jobs increased in thirteen metropolitan areas and decreased in one for the year ending February 2023, according to data released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (DES). Over-the-year, the unemployment rate decreased in seven areas, increased in five areas and was unchanged in two.

“Today’s data is further indication that job growth continues to trend in the right direction with expansion throughout every corner of the state across sectors,” said Deputy Governor Andy Manar. “Job expansion creates new and growing career opportunities for jobseekers and the demand for employers to invest in and retain the talented and diverse Illinois labor force.”

The metro areas which had the largest over-the-year percentage increases in total nonfarm jobs were the Bloomington MSA (+4.8%, +4,500), the Peoria MSA (3.9%, +6,400), and the Champaign-Urbana MSA (+3.4%, +4,000). Total nonfarm jobs in the Chicago Metropolitan Division were up +2.1% or +77,500. Total nonfarm jobs were down in the Illinois section of the St. Louis MSA (-0.4%, -1,000). Industries that saw job growth in a majority of metro areas included: Mining and Construction and Leisure and Hospitality (fourteen areas each); Education and Health Services, Other Services and Government (thirteen areas each); Manufacturing and Wholesale Trade (eleven areas each); Transportation, Warehousing and Utilities (ten areas).

The metro areas with the largest unemployment rate decreases were in the Chicago Metropolitan Division (-0.9 point to 4.1%), the Rockford MSA (-0.8 point to 6.3%), and the Decatur MSA (-0.6 point to 5.9%). The largest unemployment rate increases were in the Lake County-Kenosha County Metro (+0.4 point to 5.4%), the Davenport-Moline-Rock Island IA-IL MSA (+0.3%, +4.6%) and the Elgin Metro (+0.3 point to 5.9%). The unemployment rate was unchanged in the Bloomington MSA (4.0%) and the Champaign-Urbana MSA (4.1%).

* G-PAC…

Today, the Gun Violence Prevention PAC (G-PAC), the state’s leading gun safety organization, released a statement from its CEO Kathleen Sances, responding to an anti-public safety protest orchestrated by gun lobby supporters, including state lawmakers. The event comes two days after a mass shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville left six dead, including three children.

“It is incredibly disturbing that several lawmakers protested our state’s much-needed assault weapons ban just two days after six people were shot and killed in a school in Nashville with similar weapons.

“Make no mistake, this kind of behavior directly fuels our state and country’s gun violence epidemic, which is now the number one cause of death for children in Illinois and the entire country.

“Elected officials are public servants. Their energy should, first and foremost, be directed towards centering the needs of their constituents. However, it is clear from this demonstration that members of the Illinois Freedom Caucus are more concerned with filling the coffers of the gun industry than they are protecting the lives of the most vulnerable in our state.

“The people of Illinois deserve to live safe and secure lives. We deserve lawmakers who are dedicated to keeping our families safe. Lawmakers who abuse their platforms to carry the gun lobby’s water will be voted out.”

* Press release…

Chicago City Council members today voted overwhelmingly to make Chicago history and create an independent and co-equal branch of city government. The votes to approve a wide range of rule changes signals a seismic shift for the City Council, establishing its independence and removing power from mayors who in recent decades have determined everything from legislative agendas to committee chairs.

As part of the approved changes, members can now make their own committee chair assignments, which were unveiled today. Vice chairs and new members of each 11-member committee will be chosen after the runoff election April 4. This process will provide new council members a significant say in the composition of the committees for the first time.

The rule changes also increased the number of committees from 19 to 28, allowing for more diverse voices in leadership positions. Members agreed to divide committee chairs in an equitable process that created the most diverse council leadership structure in Chicago history. Under the new committee structure there will be:

    • Increased percentage and total number of committees chaired by Latino Caucus members from four (21%) to eight (28.5%);
    • Increased total number of committees chaired by Black Caucus members from nine to 12;
    • Black and Latino members accounting for 71% of committee chairs in total;
    • Two Latinas chairing council committees for the first time in the council’s history;
    • A record nine women serving as committee chairs, an increase from 26% to 32% of committees; and
    • A record three members of the LGBTQ community serving as committee chairs.

The rule changes not only increase council independence, but also minimize mayoral influence over council deliberations, provide for increased transparency of committee business, and provide new ways for committees to operate.

The budget for the new committees is estimated at $700,000 for the remainder of 2023.

With today’s vote, the council joins other legislative bodies across the country as an independent, co-equal branch of city government. The resolutions detailing the rule changes can be found here and a full list of committee chair assignments can be found here.

* It’s a big hit…

…Adding… Tribune

A Will County judge dismissed an election fraud case Thursday filed by the losing candidate in the 2022 race for Will County clerk that claimed mathematic formulas showed the final vote 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 race because her opponent, Democratic Will County Clerk Lauren Staley Ferry, received more votes than Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker. […]

Odelson, who has been an election law attorney for 50 years, said in court Thursday he had “never ever” seen a case like this one, which he said was not based on facts or presented specific allegations but seemingly came from a “cosmic ray from Mars.”

* Isabel’s roundup…

    * WSIL | $200 million to improve freight routes throughout Illinois: “For the last four years, we’ve invested billions of dollars in communities across Illinois to restore and renew all modes of transportation throughout our state: roads, bridges, airports, and transit, as well as pedestrian and bike routes. And today, I’m proud to announce yet another leap forward — nearly $200 million for the freight routes that have defined Illinois for generations,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “These funds will be used for 22 port, rail, and highway projects in Illinois to address bottlenecks, increase mobility, and improve the supply chain up and down the state.”

    * Crain’s | Peoples Gas breaks another earnings record amid a pending request for a massive rate hike: The natural gas utility serving the city of Chicago earned $209 million, up from $205 million the year before, which also was a record, according to a report made public today. … Peoples has a record $405 million rate hike request pending before the Illinois Commerce Commission, which would take effect at the end of this year. The commission must rule on that by year-end.

    * Crain’s | Illinois lawmakers look to tighten hospital merger rules amid pricing, quality concerns: The new policy, which originated at Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office, would amend the Illinois Antitrust Act, State Finance Act and the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Act in ways that would require health care organizations to notify the AG’s office within 30 days of a proposed merger or acquisition. The legislation, called House Bill 2222, would also give the AG an opportunity to request additional information about a deal that would help determine whether a proposed transaction warrants further action.

    * ProPublica | Sweeping repatriation reform bill unanimously passes Illinois House of Representatives: If signed into law, the legislation would create a protected cemetery for the reburial of repatriated Native American ancestors and establish a committee of tribal leaders to review state projects that may disturb culturally significant sites.

    * CBS Chicago | University of Illinois Medical Center nurses protesting Thursday: They’re fighting for increased security measures after several nurses have been attacked by patients while on the job. The nurses will gather outside of the UIH emergency room at 10 a.m.

    * WIFR | Illinois Tollway decreases toll violation fines with new program: Starting in April, motorists with multiple unpaid toll invoices will see a final notice resulting in $20 fines on top of each invoice. “The Illinois Tollway will no longer issue escalated $50 fines,” Cassaundra Rouse, executive director of the Illinois Tollway states. “It is our hope that every customer takes advantage of all the ways the Tollway offers to pay tolls and avoid fees.”

    * Bloomberg | At UChicago, Northwestern and other elite private schools, sticker shock is hitting students: Full costs at elite private colleges now stretch well into the $80,000s, or upward of $320,000 for four years and well above what the typical U.S. household earns. At UChicago, the cost of attendance — tuition, room, board and fees — is just over $81,000. At Northwestern, it’s roughly $84,000.

    * Shaw Local | Thanks in part to Illinois innovation, ‘range anxiety’ won’t hamper electric cars for long: Mohammad Asadi, an assistant professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology, last month co-published a paper in the journal Science with Larry A. Curtiss and other Illinois colleagues about their work on a novel lithium-air battery that has a solid electrolyte made with a mix of polymer and ceramic.

    * Crain’s | City Council moves toward independence after raucous meeting: The rules overhaul was eventually approved after a lengthy debate where those opposed to the deal accused their colleagues of working up a “backroom deal” that was more about securing chairmanships than creating an independent body.

    * Block Club | Englewood’s Long-Awaited Nature Trail Will Cost $72 Million To Build, City Says: Dreams to develop the nature trail were ignited more than a decade ago by neighbors and leaders at the local community organization Grow Greater Englewood. ​​The city obtained the abandoned railroad line in 2014 from Norfolk Southern Railway, a company that in recent years has gained attention for its role in tearing down homes in Englewood to expand its intermodal yard and the freight train derailment in Ohio that sent toxic fumes in the air.

    * WREX | A look inside the planned $22 million renovation of The Rockford Register Star building: The local solar company’s CEO Teague Dickey says the Iconic Energy is about 90 days away from kicking off a $22 million renovation that’s close to his heart. “Yes it’s old and in disrepair, 93-years-old, but it’s important to me being a Rockford person,” Dickey said. “I’d rather have this building than some new thing.”

    * KFVS | Wienermobile coming to southern Ill. this weekend; driver, Carbondale native: Keagan Schlosser, who calls herself Chili Cheez Keagz, competed against thousands of applicants to become one of 12 Hotdoggers nationwide. “I feel fortunate to represent southern Illinois as I criss-cross America–I’ve seen 21 states since June,” Schlosser said.

    * Tech Crunch | Twitter is dying: The value that Twitter’s platform produced, by combining valuable streams of qualification and curiosity, is being beaten and wrung out. What’s left has — for months now — felt like an echo-y shell of its former self. And it’s clear that with every freshly destructive decision — whether it’s unbanning the nazis and letting the toxicity rip, turning verification into a pay-to-play megaphone or literally banning journalists — Musk has applied his vast wealth to destroying as much of the information network’s value as possible in as short a time as possible; each decision triggering another exodus of expertise as more long-time users give up and depart.


TikTok influencer persuades hundreds to settle down in Peoria

Thursday, Mar 30, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* New York Times

Ms. Ostaszewski, a 32-year-old energy efficiency consultant, has accumulated a modest following of more than 36,000 TikTok followers for her posts about affordable houses and things to do in Peoria.

She first moved to Peoria from Bloomington, Ill. about a decade ago to be with her partner. She purchased her first home for $33,000 in 2017, when she was 27. “I didn’t know if I would ever achieve homeownership, let alone before I turned 30,” Ms. Ostaszewski said.
Then she started to wave other people in: her brother, her sister and an estimated 300 strangers from across the country.

“I’m trying to show people that they can move here and actually have a reasonable mortgage, while building on the progressive community that is here,” Ms. Ostaszewski said.

Her pitch is attracting people who didn’t believe they could ever own property. “For a lot of people of color and queer people, there is this generational poverty that continues to get passed down. They don’t have family that can pass down housing or other assets,” said Ms. Ostaszewski, who is of Filipino and Polish descent. “I’m bisexual, and I’m a woman of color. I’ve been able to find a lot of community here through both of those aspects of my identity.”

* Buzzfeed reported on Ostaszewski last year

Though she doesn’t work for the town itself, Ostaszewski sets potential transplants up with job boards, moving resources, real estate agents, and lenders, and she has also organized a Facebook group for new residents that is “400 members strong.” Members have organized a kickball team, crafting clubs, and Dungeons & Dragons meetups. They have regular “transplant parties,” too.

She rebuked any concerns of gentrification by noting that Peoria doesn’t currently have enough residents to support its vast infrastructure. Bringing in more people would “grow the tax base,” and she said she would stop recruiting future Peorians if data suggested that residents were being displaced.

* Peoria Journal Star

The Times article provided a history of Peoria’s housing market, explaining why the median home price, $128,100, is considerably lower than the national average of $328,600. The story also delved into the city’s political leanings, pointing out the fact that the population is more liberal than those of surrounding communities. Two local politicians weighed in on the fact that Ostaszewski’s efforts may be making the city even more liberal.

“I don’t care what side people are leaning to. If they’re going to come in and help rebuild neighborhoods and be good neighbors, I think that’s great,” former Peoria City Councilman Jim Montelongo told the Times.

Republican state Rep. Ryan Spain also said he’s not worried about a wave of liberal transplants.

“I think Peoria is an attractive place, whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, a conservative or progressive. … Really, an ideal community is one that you would have people of diverse views.”


*** UPDATED x1 *** That toddlin’ town roundup

Thursday, Mar 30, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

*** UPDATE *** He’s really trying hard…

Democratic mayoral candidate Paul Vallas is releasing the following statement reacting to the indictment of former President Donald Trump:

“This unprecedented and historic news begins the process of proving once and for all that no one is above the law and everyone must be held accountable for their actions. A grand jury has reviewed the evidence and found that a crime was committed by a former President — that is unprecedented and must be taken seriously. Donald Trump repeatedly and shamelessly violated the rules and norms that govern the Office of the President, cheapening the most widely respected elected position in the world and demeaning our democracy. He must be held accountable and I’m grateful the first step towards justice has been taken.

The threats of retribution and violence that have been made recently by Donald Trump are dangerous and irresponsible. Our nation is still grappling with the devastation of January 6th and just how close the peaceful transfer of power came to being cast aside, and we must always do whatever is necessary to protect the integrity of our democracy.”

…Adding… This just in over the transom. When talking about the Trump impeachment, Vallas said on February 16, 2021 while substitute co-hosting for Dan Proft, “I always felt that it was a witch hunt.” 1:05:11

For those wanting to put Republicans on the spot, if he would have been censured, it would have put much more pressure on them. And, you know, I always felt that it was a witch hunt. I mean, it doesn’t mean that they didn’t make mistakes and that Trump has acted irresponsibly and I’ve certainly been a critic of what he’s done. But at some point it is time to move on because what do we need for years of people chasing Kamala Harris? At the end of the day, the country needs to move forward and you know, Biden’s talked about unity and here’s an opportunity. So I just think that, you know, they need an enemy.

…Adding… The Vallas folks point to this…

But a month after that, he’s calling the impeachment a witch hunt. Go figure.

[ *** End Of Updates *** ]

* We’re gonna do a little “dueling oppo” today. To set up the first one, here’s Crain’s

After weeks of jostling between Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas over whether Vallas really is a Republican, the horse’s mouth of sorts has something to say about it: Word from the Chicago GOP is that Vallas is not one of them.

Huh. OK. But check out this video taken of the Chicago GOP’s Lincoln Park office

Did you catch the end of it?…

Does that logo look familiar?…

Imagine that.

Isabel has been trying to reach that office since early this morning, but nobody’s answering.

* And now, this…

Brandon Johnson Currently Owes The City Of Chicago $3,357.04 In Unpaid Water And Sewer Charges. (Chicago Department of Finance Records, Accessed 3/21/23)

    • Johnson’s Payment Of $91.08 On February 13, 2023 Was The First Time He Had Paid His Water Bill Since June 22, 2022. (Chicago Department of Finance Records, Accessed 3/21/23)
    • Since 2010, Johnson Has Accrued $6,661.70 In Fines And Penalties Due To Nonpayment. (Chicago Department of Finance Records, Accessed 3/21/23)

Johnson Also Owes The City Of Chicago A Combined $1,044.58 In Unpaid Traffic Tickets From 2014 And 2015. (Chicago Department of Finance Records, Accessed 3/21/23)

Illinois Law Would Prevent Johnson From Being Sworn In As Mayor If His Debts To The City Remain Unpaid

Under Illinois Law, A Person Who Owes An Unpaid Debt To A Municipality Is Not Eligible To Take The Oath Of Office For An Elected Position In That Municipality. “(b) A person is not eligible to take the oath of office for a municipal office if that person is, at the time required for taking the oath of office, in arrears in the payment of a tax or other indebtedness due to the municipality or has been convicted in any court located in the United States of any infamous crime, bribery, perjury, or other felony, unless such person is again restored to his or her rights of citizenship that may have been forfeited under Illinois law as a result of a conviction, which includes eligibility to hold elected municipal office, by the terms of a pardon for the offense, has received a restoration of rights by the Governor, or otherwise according to law. Any time after a judgment of conviction is rendered, a person convicted of an infamous crime, bribery, perjury, or other felony may petition the Governor for a restoration of rights.” (65 ILCS 5/3.1-10-5, Accessed 3/29/23)

Johnson Currently Earns A Combined Salary Of Over $175,000 Per Year

Cook County Commissioners Earn $93,500 Per Year. “Under the plan, the board president’s annual salary will be bumped to $187,000 from $170,000, while commissioners will see a hike to $93,500 from $85,000 a year and the board’s finance chair salary will increase to $99,000 from $90,000. (Alice Yin, “Cook County Board Members Vote Themselves 10% Raises, With Automatic Future Pay Bumps,” Chicago Tribune, 5/24/22)
In 2022, The Chicago Teachers Union Reported Paying Johnson $85,906. (Chicago Teachers Union Form LM2, U.S. Department of Labor, 11/1/22)

The oppo is from a FOIA. Click here for the documentation.

I can’t believe he didn’t pay that off before getting into the race.

* Another press release from the 43rd Ward runoff…

Aldermanic candidate Brian Comer is once again playing shell games with his finances. This time, Comer broke campaign finance laws by taking several contributions over the legal limit and failing to report several high-dollar donations within the required two-day window.

“Brian Comer is breaking the law and continuing a pattern of hiding information about his finances from voters,” said Alex Hanns, Knudsen’s campaign manager. “Comer previously refused to tell voters any information about his clients from his last nine years as a ‘consultant,’ and now he’s taking illegal contributions and failing to disclose his donors as required by law. Voters deserve better than a shady candidate who is trying time and again to deceive them.”

Two donors, including Comer’s campaign treasurer, donated above the $6,900 limit for individuals. A total of 13 contributions of $1,000 or more were filed past the two business day window that is required by law.

Two donors gave an aggregate of $10,000 each to Comer’s campaign — $6,200 over the limit — both of which included at least one late filing:

There’s more, but you get the idea.

* Isabel’s roundup…

    * Block Club | The New Stop And Frisk? Chicago Police Make Millions Of Traffic Stops While Searching For Guns: Chicago police pulled over hundreds of thousands more drivers than they previously reported, but they found guns in fewer than one of every 150 stops, according to a new data analysis.

    * Sun-Times | Dollars vs. decentralization: Johnson’s and Vallas’ vastly different fixes for CPS: Paul Vallas plans drastic changes to CPS structure, bolstering principals and local leaders’ power over spending and programming — and even the ability to let a charter school take over their campus. He would prioritize standardized testing and make it easier to hold students back a grade so they don’t graduate without necessary reading and math skills. […] Brandon Johnson would rather the school district’s central office end per-pupil funding and guarantee a baseline of resources for every school — such as art teachers, social workers and librarians. This would reduce the role enrollment plays in whether a school can afford staff and, he says, help ensure every neighborhood can offer a quality education. He would focus on addressing poverty and trauma.

    * Sun-Times | Betsy DeVos-founded, Republican-funded school choice group backs Vallas campaign for Chicago mayor: A Vallas spokesman said his campaign “would strongly reject any endorsement from Betsy DeVos.” “Our campaign has not been in contact with this organization, we have certainly not sought its support,” the spokesman said in a statement. “Campaigns cannot coordinate activities with independent expenditure committees by law and we have no control over this group’s actions.” … The American Federation for Children created its Illinois Federation for Children PAC as an independent expenditure committee in March 2022 to support and oppose candidates for statewide office, all with the mission of advancing school choice. The political committee spent over $700,000 toward those efforts last year on Republican candidates for the Illinois Legislature. The PAC lists a Washington, D.C., address. … The Illinois Federation for Children PAC is chaired by Nathan Hoffman, who was a registered American Federation for Children lobbyist in Springfield until January. He has tweeted from Vallas’ February election night party and fundraising events since then.

    * Sun-Times | Young voters explain low turnout in Chicago elections: John Cook, 21, said he has noticed excitement about politics declining since 2020. Cook, a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, said he did not vote in February. “Our first election in 2020, it was like, everything is the most important that could possibly be, and so I think everybody was up on that. It’s been like a big deflation in political activism,” Cook said. “Even people who were engaged before have dwindled off.”

    * Jewish Insider | Chicago’s Jewish community could swing mayoral race: In February’s nine-way mayoral election, Vallas, 69, performed best in some of the city’s most heavily Orthodox areas, winning two precincts in the 50th Ward with more than 80% of the vote. Across the entire ward, where the majority of Chicago’s Orthodox community is concentrated, he claimed 50% of the vote, defeating Johnson, a Cook County commissioner and outspoken union organizer who has embraced a progressive platform, by more than 30 points. … Meanwhile, Johnson’s close affiliation with the Chicago Teachers Union, which endorsed him even before he announced his candidacy, has fueled speculation that he is beholden to its interests. He has rejected those claims. The union, from which Johnson is on leave as a paid organizer, has opposed the continuation of a tax credit scholarship program that has benefited low-income students who attend Jewish day schools. In alignment with Orthodox leaders, Vallas has expressed support for the state legislation, which is set to expire this year.

    * Alisa Kaplan | With an increase in dark money, Chicagoans have a right to know who’s trying to buy their vote: The U.S. Supreme Court says we can’t limit super PAC money, but it has consistently upheld efforts to illuminate it. Our organization, Reform for Illinois, worked with state Rep. Maurice West this year to introduce House Bill 3804, a bill that would require big donors to disclose the original source of their funds no matter how many secretive groups the money passes through. Alaska, California, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Minnesota have all enacted laws aimed at unveiling hidden political contributors, and last fall, 73% of Arizona voters approved a referendum requiring comprehensive donor disclosure. If they can do it, we can too.

    * CBS Chicago | Lightfoot, City Council gathering for special meeting Thursday: Several aldermen are calling for a vote on the new rules and committees for City Council members during the 2023 to 2027 term. The timing is considered unusual as council members typically vote on these matters *after the election.

    * Tribune | West Side incumbents fending off challengers in 24th and 29th ward runoffs: In the 24th Ward, which includes North Lawndale, challenger Creative Scott received only about 15% of the vote to Monique Scott’s 45%. In the 29th Ward, which includes parts of Austin north to Montclare, former Chicago police sergeant Taliaferro was forced into a runoff by just a few dozen votes, though community activist CB Johnson received nearly 40% of the vote in the first round.

    * ABC Chicago | Chicago mayoral candidates break down how they would manage city budget: In his $800 billion tax plan, Johnson proposes bringing back the city head tax, where large corporations who do most of their work in the city will pay a 1-4 dollar tax for each employee. Johnson also pitches increasing the hotel tax, jet fuel tax, a tax on securities trading and increasing the transfer tax on property sold for more than a million dollars.

    * Sun-Times | 6th, 21st Ward candidates discuss future of South Side ahead of runoff: Time to ‘resurrect dreams of residents: Hall, 38, lead pastor at St. James Community Church in Chatham and a field director for the Rainbow PUSH social justice organization, narrowly came in first place with 23.82% of the vote during the Feb. 28 election — only about 70 votes ahead of Wooten, an Army veteran and retired police officer.

    * NBC Chicago | 3 Former Chicago Police Superintendents Join NBC 5 For Conversation About Public Safety, Crime: “Without question, public safety is top of mind for many Chicagoans,” said Holt. “It’s clear, we need to figure out how to make the city safer. This show is a unique opportunity to sit down with three men who have been at the forefront of tackling this crisis. It’s a chance to learn from the mistakes of the past, figure out new ideas, and try to forge a new path toward a safer city.”

    * NBC Chicago | Chicago Department of Transportation Plans 150 New Miles of Bike Paths as Part of Cycling Program: The biggest part of the plan includes adding 150 additional miles of bike lanes. Other parts include adding low-stress options like concrete curbs separating the bike lanes from vehicular traffic, making bicycles like Divy more accessible to everyone.

    * Block Club | Workers At Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago’s Oldest Museum, Are Voting To Unionize: “We’re forming our union because we want to work with our colleagues and leadership to ensure that our institution is always becoming an equitable, inclusive and safe workplace,” said Anabel Hirano, a member of the union organizing committee who is a volunteer and intern coordinator at the Nature Museum. “That can’t happen unless we have an equal say in the decisions that affect us.”


Birds-eye view of the Capitol Complex construction project

Thursday, Mar 30, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Pretty cool pics. From Laborers Local 477


Keep Uber Affordable. Stop Lawsuit Abuse. Oppose HB 2231

Thursday, Mar 30, 2023 - Posted by Advertising Department

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ComEd 4 trial coverage roundup

Thursday, Mar 30, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Hannah Meisel’s story shows yet again how important it was for the General Assembly to finally mandate lobbyists to disclose their “consultants”

But a little over two weeks after Mapes’ firing, Anne Pramaggiore told one of her most trusted deputies within electric utility ComEd that she kept “thinking about how we can be helpful to him.”

Pramaggiore was less than a week into her new job as CEO of Exelon Utilities – a promotion after six years as CEO of ComEd, where she’d gotten to know Mapes after years of pushing for legislation in Springfield. […]

“I was talking with Anne and she told me that she’s looking at…doing something for the enterprise and governmental stuff and bringing Mapes on,” Hooker told Marquez. “Now Mapes would work with her, cause she says, ‘I wanted to kinda, well let’s pay him but hide his contract in someone else’s.’”

Hooker told Marquez he’d suggested putting him on as a consultant with Mike McClain, a longtime contract lobbyist for ComEd who was also one of Madigan’s closest friends and confidants.

McClain was no longer a registered lobbyist at that time, but, if memory serves, Mapes did eventually land at a lobbying firm as a consultant. Look, hire who you want to hire, but disclose it.

* These guys were relentless

In multiple emails, McClain made it clear that Madigan had inquired repeatedly about making sure that the law firm of Morgan Murphy, a former congressman, would keep getting legal business from ComEd.

A tranche of emails were introduced as McClain pushed for Kathleen Laski, the wife of the former city clerk who went to prison for corruption, to get a position with the utility company even though she didn’t want to work extra hours during storms.

“Kathy doesn’t want to work storm duty?? Really?” a ComEd human resources official wrote in one email, asking who sent her. Marquez wrote back: “Laski came to us from the Speaker.”

* True…

* Also true…

* Rent-a-pastor is an old tradition among utility companies and others…

* Isabel’s roundup…


DPI defends decision to target three Champaign County school board candidates

Thursday, Mar 30, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller


The Democratic Party of Illinois has accused three Champaign School Board candidates of pursuing “extremist political agendas.” But, they all deny promoting radical platforms and want to know why they’re being singled out.

In a news release from last week, the party described its $300,000 plan to “prevent extremist conservatives from implementing regressive platforms on school and library boards throughout the state.” To do that, they’re recommending candidates they believe share their values, and steering voters away from those they think have an extremist agenda.

“I am flabbergasted, to say the least,” candidate Jeffrey Brownfield said. “There is no need and there is no room for politics when we’re talking about our children.”

* The local Republican Party has been pushing these three candidates for weeks and months, so the “politics” thing has already been breached…

The party has done things like call out a local school district for the apparent crime of supporting inclusive language and griped about a bill to regulate all-gender restrooms…

Also from the Champaign GOP’s website

HB 5188 – MANDATED COMPREHENSIVE SEX ED. Over 70% of school districts have made public their intent to not serve up comprehensive sex education curricula to minor children after the legislator passed a requirement that those schools that do teach comprehensive sex ed must align their standards with the pornographic National Sex Education Standards. So, what was the response in Springfield by the radical Democrats? MAKE IT MANDATORY. It is an affront to parents, local control, and common decency. As of Jan 7, Bill before Illinois Senate would make sex ed mandatory in public schools, but allow students to opt out

* Let’s move on. As noted above, the three candidates deny they want to ban books, or ban sex ed.

I asked DPI how they came to be involved in the race. Their executive director told me this…

As to how we came to this point with these three candidates in Champaign County, across this whole program, we’ve been very thoughtful about sourcing local feedback and very deferential to understanding of nuances from our stakeholders on the grounds. And from the start of this program, our stakeholders in Champaign County have made it clear that these three candidates are running with bad intentions and are very much in support of that same framework that some of these other extreme organizations are.

I asked if the stakeholders were teachers unions…

Yeah, our party stakeholders. So if across this program and across the state in any instance where we’ve identified a candidate that we had an inkling was running for and in support of this extreme right wing agenda, we worked hard to source information from our apparatus at the local level. So precinct captains, township committees, county chairs any of our our most engaged Democratic grasstops folks on the ground. Because you can’t know everything when you’re operating statewide, so we’ve just been very deferential to local information.

* And DPI also sent me this…

These candidates all emphasize teaching the “basics”- commonly used language by those who support limiting the scope of inclusive curriculum. It’s a dog whistle employed by known extremist candidates and organizations including Darren Bailey (“I believe we need to back up and start teaching reading, writing and math skills”). This is their playbook for implying that schools/teachers are pushing a social agenda by teaching LGBTQ+ inclusive curriculum or certain discussions of historical racism that they label “CRT.”

Censorship of Books

When asked “Do you support censoring books or topics pertaining to racial justice, critical race theory, or LGBTQ issues?” each candidate gave caveats for removing certain books. While they state they wouldn’t support “banning books” they point to scenarios in which books should be evaluated for context or age appropriateness- the same arguments that extreme groups use to justify censoring books they disagree with.

    Mark Thies: Expresses concern about “age appropriateness” of books

    Mark Holm: Supports a committee to review books for “age appropriateness”

    Jeffrey Brownfield: Says that if people have concerns about books that should be elevated and evaluated and sometimes we should keep them and sometimes we shouldn’t



It’s just a bill

Thursday, Mar 30, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Capitol News Illinois

The Illinois Senate unanimously passed a bill Wednesday that gives financial protection to children whose parents make money posting videos of them on social media. […]

Senate Bill 1782 was introduced by Democratic Sens. David Koehler, of Peoria, and Linda Holmes, of Aurora, but it underwent significant amendments before passing the Senate. Koehler said if the bill is signed into law, Illinois would be the first state in the nation to enact such legislation.

The final version would provide that if a minor is featured in at least 30 percent of a vlogger’s revenue-generating video during a 30-day period, then the minor is entitled to a share of the revenue. That money would have to be set aside in a trust fund that the minor could access after they turn 18.

It would also require the vlogger to report periodically to the Illinois Department of Labor the names and ages of any minors engaged in the work of vlogging, the number of vlogs that generated compensation, and the number of minutes each minor was featured in the vlogs. It would also give minors the right to sue if a vlogger knowingly or recklessly fails to set aside the minor’s earnings in a trust account.

* Senate Bill 1508 also passed unanimously out of the Senate. WAND

The Illinois Senate approved a plan Wednesday to help people who may become addicted to mobile sports betting.

Senate President Pro Tempore Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago) said his proposal requires sports betting companies to display a message to people at least once every hour noting how much money they have wagered since logging on.

The alert would also include a hyperlink to websites and phone numbers for assistance with gambling addiction.

Cunningham noted that the state is making roughly $1 billion per year off betting.

“I think we would all acknowledge that that brings with it some responsibility for those of us who are policymakers,” Cunningham explained. “And I think that we need to ensure that part of that responsibility is making sure people who have problems with gambling can easily get help.”

* Sen. Robert Peters…

To address employment barriers for individuals impacted by the justice system, State Senator Robert Peters passed legislation to help those previously convicted of a felony to seek an occupational license to perform non-gaming related services at a casino.

“The amount of financially realistic employment opportunities for individuals impacted by the justice system are few and far between,” said Peters (D-Chicago). “Connecting those with prior justice system involvement with employment by allowing them to perform functions in a casino that do not involve gaming ensures financial stability and decreases the likelihood of backsliding into the justice system.”

Senate Bill 1462 also allows the Illinois Gaming Board to consider an applicant’s criminal record, reputation, associations and activities that could potentially threaten the integrity of the gaming institution. […]

Senate Bill 1462 passed the Senate Wednesday and will now head to the House floor for further consideration.

* HB2401 is in Rules. Fox Chicago

The Pierce twins, Phallon and Kyra, wrote legislation last year that passed the Illinois House but failed in the Senate. […]

The twins have teamed up with state Representative La Shawn Ford to introduce House Bill 2401, which would require school districts to include authors from all ethnicities and backgrounds in reading assignments for grades kindergarten through 12th.

“We want to make sure that everybody knows that it’s not a book ban. It’s simply adding books and adding context with books that kids are reading in schools,” said Phallon and Kyra.

In addition to writing “The Pierce Twins Bills”, the young ladies have started “Positive Change Charities” which has donated more than 2,000 books over the last two years to underfunded school libraries.

* SB1909 will head to the Senate floor for further consideration…

In continuing the fight for reproductive rights for women, State Senator Celina Villanueva passed legislation that prevents crisis pregnancy centers from using deceptive practices that interfere with women’s health care decisions.

“We must ensure that women who are seeking reproductive health care are protected from deceptive and misleading practices,” said Villanueva (D-Chicago). “At a time when they are already vulnerable, they must have peace of mind that they won’t be taken advantage of. Health care – in all forms – should be safe and transparent.”

Senate Bill 1909 prohibits the use of deceptive practices to interfere with an individual seeking to gain entry or access to the provider of an abortion or emergency contraceptives, induce an individual to enter a limited services pregnancy center, in advertising, soliciting, or otherwise offering pregnancy-related services, or in providing pregnancy-related services.

While crisis pregnancy centers may advertise themselves as health care clinics, many of these facilities provide very limited services, such as basic ultrasounds and counseling intended to discourage and limit access to abortion. Some centers are located near clinics that provide comprehensive reproductive health care and use names similar to these clinics in order to misdirect patients. Many provide misleading information overstating the risks associated with abortion, including conveying false claims that abortion causes cancer or infertility.

* Sen. Dave Koehler…

State Senator Dave Koehler led a measure through the Senate to create awareness of the history of the Underground Railroad in Illinois.

“Our state has a lot of history with the Underground Railroad,” said Koehler (D – Peoria). “Illinois played a huge role in the path toward freedom. Through a new task force, we will map the search for freedom and justice for African Americans throughout the 1800s.”

Senate Bill 1623 would create the Underground Railroad Task Force. The group would develop a statewide plan to connect existing local projects and new projects to create a cohesive statewide history of the Underground Railroad in Illinois, while developing new educational and tourism opportunities.

The task force would identify where historical sites are located, connections they may have to one another, and will paint a picture to recognize the history of the Underground Railroad in Illinois. It would also introduce educational and tourism opportunities throughout the state. […]

Senate Bill 1623 passed the Senate Wednesday. It now heads to the House for further consideration.

* Patch

After an Illinois Republican lawmaker recently introduced a bill that would lower the state’s legal drinking to 18, an overwhelming number of Patch readers who responded to a poll last week on the subject opposed the measure.

Illinois State Rep. John Cabello (R-Freeport) introduced House Bill 4021 earlier this month. The bill would amend the Liquor Control Board’s Act of 1934, which established the legal drinking age at the end of prohibition.

More than 4,000 Patch readers responded to a poll last week which simply asked if the state’s legal drinking age should be lowered from 21 to 18. Of the 4,044 readers who responded to the non-scientific poll, 86.2 percent voted that the state’s drinking age should not be lowered, while the remaining 13.8 percent responded that 18-year-olds should be able to partake in alcoholic beverages.

* Bill-related…

State Rep. Cyril Nichols, D-Chicago, will be joined by House colleagues La Shawn K. Ford, D-Chicago and Barbara Hernandez, D-Aurora, at a press conference in the State Capitol Blue Room at 11:30am on Thursday, March 30 to discuss the new Higher Education—Procurement Subcommittee, of which Nichols has been appointed Chairman.

“Equity and inclusion need to be at the heart of everything we do, especially in an area like higher education, which is so fundamental to equality of opportunity and access to upward mobility,” Nichols said. “The work of this subcommittee will be instrumental in ensuring that procurement practices and programs throughout Illinois’ public institutions of higher learning are consistent with 21st century values of justice and fairness.”

“I’m glad to join this subcommittee and push for a more equitable procurement process in our higher education community,” Hernandez said. “Illinoisans are committed to our state being a nationwide leader in promoting diversity and fairness, and the formation of this subcommittee is another step in the right direction.”

“Rep. Nichols has a strong committee to push our colleges and universities to increase diversity in contracts for professional services and other procurement opportunities,” Ford said. “As Chairman of the Appropriations-Higher Education Committee, I’m setting this subcommittee and naming Rep. Nichols as chairman to meet with colleges and universities in Illinois so that we can lead the nation in contract opportunities to Black, Brown and women-owned businesses.”

Nichols said he expects the subcommittee’s work to focus at least initially on improving the collection and use of demographic data to examine existing procurement practices and uncover areas where change may be needed.


Hold Uber Accountable. Support HB 2231.

Thursday, Mar 30, 2023 - Posted by Advertising Department

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*** UPDATED x7 - Mystery solved *** The adventure continues

Thursday, Mar 30, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The mystery shirt arrived early for committee today…

What a weird thing this is.

*** UPDATE 1 *** On the move again…

*** UPDATE 2 *** Part of the mystery has been solved. From comments…

I saw this shirt on the sidewalk two nights ago and hung it on the construction fence outside of Stratton. The shirt really is on the move!

The commenter included an email that only I can see. So, I reached out. The person is an intern for a legislative communications staff.

The shirt was on the hanger when the staffer found it.

*** UPDATE 3 *** This is the Capitol’s blue room. So maybe a press conference is coming?…

…Adding… FYI, it’s a Brooks Brothers shirt, size 17 1/2 - 36.

*** UPDATE 4 *** Post-presser meeting with Senate President Harmon…

*** UPDATE 5 *** OK, a prominent lobster is actually wearing it now, which is kinda hilarious but also a bit yucky, if you ask me…

I mean, check out the collar staining…

*** UPDATE 6 *** I hope it’s not driving…

…Adding… I think the shirt is heading north for spring break.

*** UPDATE 7 *** Rep. Kelly Cassidy took the shirt to Wally’s…

Rep. Marty McLaughlin happened to be at Wally’s at the same time, saw what was going on and said, “Hey, that’s my shirt.” He apparently dropped it the other night while helping a fellow legislator. It’s now back in the rightful owner’s hands…


…Adding… OK, one more…


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)

Thursday, Mar 30, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Open thread

Thursday, Mar 30, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

*Good morning! What’s goin’ on in Illinois today?


Isabel’s morning briefing

Thursday, Mar 30, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Here you go!…


*** ComEd 4 trial live coverage ***

Thursday, Mar 30, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Here you go…


Live coverage

Thursday, Mar 30, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Follow along with ScribbleLive

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* Pritzker says White Sox stadium push so far is 'not enough to make it a priority' for Springfield
* Evidence-based funding falling behind in more ways than one
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* It’s just a bill
* Should AG Raoul try to yank this guy's pension?
* ‘Nothing can be passed without our members’
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