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Afternoon roundup

Thursday, Mar 23, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Crain’s

Illinois risks a “catastrophic” security breach of highly confidential personal data on millions of residents unless it soon upgrades outmoded computer systems based on 1980s technology.

That’s the bottom line of a report from newly installed Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias that takes a hard look at the status of Common Business Oriented Language, or COBOL, systems his office now uses to store and process Illinoisans’ data, including their home addresses, vehicle registrations, Social Security numbers and organ donor information. […]

A Giannoulias spokeswoman said security concerns prevent her from discussing any actual attack, but Dave Drucker, spokesman for longtime Secretary of State Jesse White, who retired in January, said there, indeed, have been “many” such attempted hacks.

“No records were broken into, but there were numerous efforts to do so” in recent years, Druker said. “We applaud the Giannoulias administration for pushing security.


The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced today that the unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.5 percent, while nonfarm payrolls increased by +10,700 in February, based on preliminary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and released by IDES. The January monthly change in payrolls was revised from the preliminary report, from +14,300 to +12,300 jobs. The January revised unemployment rate was 4.5 percent, unchanged from the preliminary January unemployment rate. The February payroll jobs estimate and unemployment rate reflect activity for the week including the 12th.

In February, the industry sectors with the largest over-the-month gains in employment included: Government (+5,900), Leisure and Hospitality (+5,100), and Trade, Transportation and Utilities (+2,700). The industry sectors with the largest monthly payroll declines included: Professional and Business Services (-3,000), Information (-3,000), and Construction (-1,100). […]

The state’s unemployment rate was +0.9 percentage point higher than the national unemployment rate reported for February, which was 3.6 percent, up +0.2 percentage point from the previous month. The Illinois unemployment rate was down -0.1 percentage point from a year ago when it was at 4.6 percent.

* Tribune ComEd 4 trial coverage

And in the wake of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s election in November 2014, some of [now vice president of external affairs for ComEd Keisha Parker’s] colleagues wondered wondered whether there had been a power shift in Springfield. “I just asked Em if Madigan is still in the driver’s seat? I mean what about Rauner???” a colleague asked in one email shown to the jury.

Parker responded: “You know Daddy is in charge. (Rauner) who??!!”

Parker testified that by “Daddy,” she meant Madigan.

* Press release…

Attorney General Kwame Raoul presented the proposed budget for the Attorney General’s office for next fiscal year to lawmakers today in Springfield. Raoul announced to a legislative committee that his office collected nearly $1.6 billion in revenue on behalf of the state through litigation and collection efforts in 2022. The revenue collected for the state by the Attorney General’s office shows that for every dollar of taxpayer funding the office received in Fiscal Year 2022, it generated $39.52 for the state. […]

In 2022, the Attorney General’s office was able to bring in $304 million through collections litigation, including cases involving the collection of funds for damage to state property, child support enforcement, fines and penalties. The Attorney General’s office also collected more than $807 million through tobacco litigation and more than $456 million in estate tax revenues.

In addition to recoveries for the state, the Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Bureau mediated more than 20,000 complaints in 2022. The bureau provided more than $8 million in mediated savings for Illinois consumers and secured more than $207 million through enforcement actions.


The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum opened a major new exhibit Thursday that explores the elusive idea of “home” and the many different ways Illinoisans have made this state their home over the centuries.

“Here I Have Lived: Home in Illinois” will also introduce visitors to

    • Black Hawk, the Sauk leader who refused to be driven away from the land where he grew up
    • Oscar Micheaux, a farm boy who broke barriers for Black artists in Hollywood
    • Michelle Obama, who started out in a Chicago bungalow and wound up in the White House
    • Louisa Phifer, who ran a farm and raised seven children while her husband served in the Civil War.

“Here I Have Lived” features multiple people from Springfield, including a forward-thinking socialite, an immigrant friend of the Lincolns and a witness to the racial violence of 1908.

The exhibit runs through Jan. 21, 2024, in the museum’s Illinois Gallery, a space used for highlighting Illinois history as part of the ALPLM’s role as the state historical library. The exhibit is free with regular museum admission.

* The McLean County GOP throws in everything but the kitchen sink…

Dear [Redacted],

If you don’t think that CRT (critical race theory) and DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) policies and practices are impacting kids in Illinois public schools, then consider the following facts:

    1. Time is being pulled from critical areas of education to make room for CRT and DEI, and recent school report cards show it.
    2. Standards are being eliminated, so no child feels excluded or left behind.
    3. Gender-affirming behaviors are practiced and promoted in the classroom, and traditional Christian values are being forcefully rejected.
    4. The most explicit form of sex education is being introduced to children at the most tender ages.
    5. Children whose parents remove them from objectionable lessons and activities are “punished” with excess workloads while others attend thought- and behavior-influencing events.
    6. Kids are routinely calling each other “racist” for the slightest slip of the tongue.

These are just a few instances where social radicals are erasing our children’s innocence and indoctrinating a generation of children in our public school systems. How long will it be before our children are forced to attend “drag queen” story hour or an “adult cabaret” performance for the sake of tolerance? Wokeism is poisoning the brains of youth, and their childhoods are being stolen.

Suppose we don’t act to stop forced conformity by electing good school board members in the April 4th election. In that case, it won’t be long before parents are accused of crimes against society, and our children report us to school authorities for various “undesirable” social behaviors such as child discipline and gun ownership.

Parents – indeed, all citizens – need to understand and think clearly about the political, economic, and moral issues of our day. Each of us must show courage and fortitude in protecting children.
Parents must be informed about the nature of CRT and DEI and how they impact children. Join the Republican Party of McLean County this Saturday morning in learning more about these evil influences. Attend our Critical Race Theory brunch on March 18 from 9-11 AM. Education Specialist Jonathan Butcher of The Heritage Foundation will speak on the “Critical Race Theory” issue as it impacts our schools and our children.

And they have a list of preferred candidates.

* Speaking of

Since UpRising Bakery & Cafe owner Corinna Sac announced plans to close the Lake in the Hills store by the end of the month, online donors have raised more than $34,000.

While the infusion of cash could keep her open, doing so by donation “is not sustainable” in the long run, and she is weighing her options, Sac said.

As of Wednesday, Sac said she was considering a few options: staying open in Lake in the Hills; moving to a smaller, accepting location; or closing.

If she closes, Sac said, she would ask the fundraiser creator to either return the online donations or ask if donors are OK with her using some funds to pay off final bills, Sac said.

That would be up to her, [Anti-Defamation League Midwest Regional Director David Goldenberg] said, noting the donations did not come with any ties.

* Isabel’s roundup…

    * Reuters | Union workers can’t sue under Illinois biometric law, court rules: The Illinois Supreme Court unanimously held that campus security workers at Roosevelt University in Chicago must bring claims that the school used their fingerprints for timekeeping without their consent in union arbitration rather than court.

    * Pantagraph | Cooperating ex-guard gets 6 years in Illinois inmate’s death: A contrite Willie Hedden, the last of three ex-correctional officers convicted in the beating death of an Illinois prison inmate, was sentenced Wednesday to six years in federal prison after pleading guilty to civil rights violations and obstruction and testifying against his codefendants.

    * Sun-Times | 4 Chicago cops placed on desk duty amid allegations seized guns were mishandled: Ephraim Eaddy, first deputy of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, said the oversight agency is “actively investigating the actions of the involved officers and made a recommendation to the Chicago Police Department to relieve the officers of their police powers.”

    * Crain’s | Biden budget may ease CTA, Metra fiscal pain — but only a bit: At issue is the roughly $350 million a year the three agencies collectively get annually from the federal government in what is known as Section 5307 Urbanized Formula Funds. The money has been earmarked solely for transit capital and capital maintenance programs under terms of a law adopted during the Reagan presidency that banned their use for fuel, pay for vehicle drivers and other operational costs. But Biden wants to loosen that provision.

    * Sun-Times | DuPage County’s new tool in fighting domestic abuse: a QR code that points to help: The idea came from John Caldwell, a fire medic with the Lisle-Woodridge Fire Protection District. Caldwell said paramedics often are called to treat people they suspect have been injured by an abuser. They try to give the victim a “tear sheet” that lists agencies that can help them.

    * Sun-Times | Sen. Duckworth joins bipartisan call for stronger rail safety measures: Senate Commerce Committee grills Norfolk Southern CEO on safety enhancements that can be implemented to prevent derailments like the one in East Palestine, Ohio.

    * Daily Herald | Proposal for marijuana shop near Buffalo Grove High School faces opposition: But it will need a zoning variance from the village board, since it falls short of the minimum 1,000-foot distance from schools required under village code. The distance from the building to the high school’s property line is 918 feet. Buffalo Grove trustees Monday barely approved sending the application to the planning and zoning commission for further consideration, with trustees Eric Smith, Joanne Johnson and Gregory Pike voting in favor and Andrew Stein and David Weidenfeld opposed.

    * SJ-R | Redpath Feger is no stranger to working on political campaigns but this time it’s her own: Former Springfield Mayor Karen Hasara has endorsed her as have former State Sen. Larry Bomke, Sangamon County Clerk Don Gray, Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell and former sheriff Neil Williamson. Redpath Feger has gotten the backing of the Sangamon County Republicans.

    * Tribune | Paul Vallas’ and Brandon Johnson’s 100-day plans for Chicago: More beat cops vs. ‘Treatment Not Trauma’: Johnson, a Cook County commissioner, said he will double youth employment and vowed to pass “Treatment Not Trauma,” a City Council ordinance to repurpose vacant police salaries to send social workers and medical specialists to nonviolent mental health crises calls, and “Bring Chicago Home,” a plan to raise the real estate transfer tax on properties above $1 million to fund homelessness services. Vallas, the former Chicago Public Schools CEO, said he would place more Chicago police officers on local beats, “address this issue” of recently incarcerated citizens and open school campuses through the dinner hours, weekends and holidays for community programming and services.

    * Chicago Reader | The ladies who sing from the back: These Chicago background vocalists have helped the likes of Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and Otis Clay sound their best. Here their own voices take center stage.

    * WCIA | Barbecue sauce, drug incinerator, moon habitat, radar face off in Illinois Maker’s Madness: “The diversity of products that have made it to this final round demonstrate the dynamic nature of our state’s manufacturing sector, as well as the versatility of the women and men who work on our factory floors,” Mark Denzler, president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association said. “Whether it’s delicious sauces created by a champion pitmaster, housing for astronauts on the moon, a portable drug incinerator to fight narcotics abuse, or a compact sensor to assist drivers and improve road safety, voters have a great field to choose from.”


  1. - The Dude Abides - Thursday, Mar 23, 23 @ 2:13 pm:

    It ain’t just SOS that runs on COBOL.

    I work for a different on the admin side, and the main database/program is also on COBOL.

    If we got hit with an attack, the hackers would have access to, unfettered SSNs, address histories, etc.

    I’ve heard talk of systems being upgraded and my area’s file systems being updated, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

  2. - Techie - Thursday, Mar 23, 23 @ 2:31 pm:

    Not that I’m a database person, but of the hundreds of technical people I have worked with in my career, I’m aware of 0 that know COBOL.

    Just having the appropriate staff who know how to manage that seems like it would be pretty difficult. Modernizing won’t be easy, but seems quite necessary.

  3. - OneMan - Thursday, Mar 23, 23 @ 2:34 pm:

    If something happens and they say, ‘It’s because it is COBOL’ call BS on it. A lot of the world still runs on COBOL. It’s old, which in some ways is actually an advantage.

  4. - Norseman - Thursday, Mar 23, 23 @ 2:56 pm:

    The McLean MAGA GOP screed is so full of … I had to put my boots on. I feel like putting in the school litter box and …

    Vote against every MAGA GOP candidate.

  5. - Matty - Thursday, Mar 23, 23 @ 3:13 pm:

    “Parents – indeed, all citizens – need to understand and think clearly about the political, economic, and moral issues of our day. Each of us must show courage and fortitude in protecting children. Parents must be informed about the nature of CRT and DEI and how they impact children.”

    That’s precisely why accurate and comprehensive history needs to be taught in schools. The youth are our future and maintaining the (Caucasian) ideals of the 1950s isn’t going to get us anywhere as a nation or society.

  6. - Appears - Thursday, Mar 23, 23 @ 3:25 pm:

    @ OneMan
    You’re right. I am a former COBOL programmer. It can be tougher to break into because it is old. The newer programmers learn and work on the newer languages and can not relate or translate their newer hacks to the old style COBOL. And a lot of the world really does still run on COBOL.

  7. - Suburban Mom - Thursday, Mar 23, 23 @ 3:33 pm:

    ===2. Standards are being eliminated, so no child feels excluded or left behind.===

    Won’t they be shocked when little Joey GOP stops getting socially promoted and none of their kids earn credit for AP exams because they have no critical thinking skills, because anything except uncritical regurgitation of sanitized 1950s history textbooks is forbidden.

  8. - Mister Whipple - Thursday, Mar 23, 23 @ 4:13 pm:

    Your “traditional” Republicans have either run from, or been run out of, the McLean County Republican Party. The party that developed some of the most-admired leaders who positively impacted state government over the decades has devolved into the Eastern Bloc varsity Cheerleaders.

  9. - thoughts matter - Thursday, Mar 23, 23 @ 7:09 pm:

    It’s not the COBOL computer language that puts systems at risk. Most COBOL programs run on mainframe computers. Those programs are accessible to the internet mainly through other programs and applications written in newer languages. That’s where the hacking dangers are.
    Techie- there are lots of programmers that know COBOL. Most of us are over the age of 50 and work in places that own mainframe computers. There are millions and millions of lines of COBOL code that is stable and runs all sorts of back end business applications.
    The major problem with COBOL is that colleges don’t teach it and the people that know it are retiring. It’s a language that us pretty easy to understand

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

* Pritzker says state has settled labor dispute at migrant tent city
* *** UPDATED x4 - Coverage roundup - Reporters received report before governor - Report finds high levels of mercury in soil - Report released to reporters *** After stonewalling governor’s office, city finally shares pollution report on migrant tent city
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Afternoon roundup
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Some campaign updates
* Citing 'delays' in Chicago's procurement process, Pritzker announces $2 million to feed asylum seekers
* Union says Pritzker office intervention at least temporarily prevented likely construction shutdown at migrant camp
* Today's quotable
* Not-for-profits at risk as state funding nears end
* Illinois Supreme Court again cites the plain language of a law to overturn lower court's ruling
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Open thread
* Isabel’s morning briefing
* Live coverage
* Yesterday's stories

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