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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.


  1. - Flyin' Elvis'-Utah Chapter - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 2:54 pm:

    “Wirepoints is at it again ”

    Listen to Dabrowski long enough you’ll be mowing the lawn in January.

  2. - Benjamin - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 2:54 pm:

    Sen. Fine’s bill is needed.Well done. Now, there needs to be oversight in the CILAs (group homes) in Illinois. A start would be unannounced visits, particularly by E4E, the advocacy group that is supposed to advocate for all those with disabilities in Illinois; not just those in state centers . E4E is frequently at the state centers, and rarely at a CILA; when we know from family reports, and individuals who have moved to SODCs, that there is abuse and neglect as well in the CILAs, and it is often ignored. Her bill is a start…………we need more to come.

  3. - Lucky Pierre - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 2:57 pm:

    Regarding student proficiency, maybe a better metric would be to stop comparing Illinois apples to Florida oranges and just compare them to the apples in Illinois from 5 and 10 years ago.

  4. - Homebody - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 3:12 pm:

    I’ll keep banging my drum that if you’re going to have elected judges, no one can complain about judges expressly taking sides on legal issues. I absolutely want to know whether someone is getting endorsed by Personal PAC or G PAC or the Federalist Society or Awake IL. Being human and having opinions isn’t grounds for recusal.

    If an adult in America doesn’t already have an established opinion on hot button political topics, it means they are an ignoramus who has been living under a rock and has no business being a judge in the first place.

  5. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 3:19 pm:

    Keeping in mind that IPI has a “documentary” that wants to target education, the vertical integration for maximizing grifting is taking place with IPI, Wirepoints, and the ridiculous types that see the Uber wealthy and cult-y challenged as mere marks.

    Wirepoints is purposely dishonest to get the checks that IPI gets, there’s no concern to education or a measurement of achievement.

    The marks want “education is bad”… so, “let’s give it to ‘em”

    Once you recognize the grifts, it all makes sense.

    Pushback is required, and so…

  6. - Demoralized - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 3:26 pm:

    Wirepoints shouldn’t be thought of as a place to get information from, rather it should be thought of as a propaganda outfit not to be taken at all seriously. It’s unfortunate that there are people out there that take them seriously.

  7. - Appears - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 3:28 pm:

    Between Blago, Quinn and Rauner, I am surprised we still have schools in IL. Leadership starts at the top and that was some hugely failed leadership.

  8. - Socially DIstant watcher - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 3:31 pm:

    Center Square is at it again, too giving a passable summary of Caulkins’ brief without ever acknowledging that supreme court rules prohibit candidates from soliciting campaign donations. The story acts as if the candidate and the campaign are interchangeable when in practice judicial campaigns are very different from other campaigns.

    If they had the candidate endorsing a position, wouldn’t you think they’d have included that? They don’t. But don’t expect Center Square to acknowledge that

  9. - Demoralized - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 3:36 pm:

    I somehow doubt Caulkins and his ilk would be making this same argument had their preferred candidates won.

  10. - Demoralized - Friday, Mar 31, 23 @ 4:01 pm:

    ==Drivers will have 14 days after missing a toll to pay with no fee==

    I got caught up in this tollway scam earlier this year. There’s a passing mention on the toll roads about going online but really you have to go in, login your vehicle info, your payment info, and then they process the toll. But if you don’t do it within the 14 day window they invoice you and charge you an outrageous fee. It’s a complete an utter scam. When I was driving out east on an open tolling toll road in Maryland they sent you an invoice to pay your toll. No added fees. But here? Nope. They need to gouge people.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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