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Afternoon roundup

Thursday, Jun 29, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Sun-Times

Chicago’s violent gangland history came to the forefront Thursday as three federal appellate judges confronted lawyers challenging Illinois’ ban on assault weapons, passed in the wake of the mass shooting in Highland Park that is nearing its one-year anniversary.

Judges Frank Easterbrook, Diane Wood and Michael Brennan tussled with the argument that a U.S. Supreme Court decision last summer — and the Second Amendment itself — forbids governments from banning weapons that are “in common use.”

Easterbrook asked whether laws against machine guns, following their use in Chicago’s notorious St. Valentine’s Day massacre and other mob hits, would be considered unconstitutional today. […]

Core to Easterbrook’s question was the notion that the Supreme Court decision suggests governments lose the right to ban weapons once they become popular with the general public — something unlikely to occur if governments were to ban weapons before they hit the marketplace.

“It’s very troublesome to have a popularity contest decide a constitutional principle,” Wood remarked.

* Daily Herald

[Chicago Bears President and CEO Kevin Warren] envisions a scenario where people would come to downtown Arlington Heights before games or other events to have a meal, walk over to Arlington Park, then return afterward. It’s in the Bears’ best interest that the established business community “thrives,” said Warren, adding that the club would show “sensitivity” to their concerns. […]

“But I know if I’m a restaurant owner or person in downtown Arlington, I’d be ecstatic about this.”

[Chip Brooks], who opened his 4,000-square-foot music listening room and bistro on Vail Avenue in 2018, was hardly ecstatic.

“He talks about people walking from downtown Arlington Heights to the stadium that’s two miles away — that just means that he really hasn’t studied it yet,” Brooks said. “To be fair, he hasn’t thought about the impact, so he hasn’t really thought through how to make it not hurt our downtown.”

* High praise

In a whirlwind visit to Chicago on Wednesday, President Joe Biden trotted out a re-election campaign message built on economic recovery – and effusively praised Gov. JB Pritzker for helping him win the White House in 2020.

“There’s a guy that helped me more than – I can say this without equivocation – helped me more than anybody in America get elected last time. A single person: your governor,” Biden said during a speech in Chicago’s Old Post Office, the first stop before a pair of private fundraisers, including one hosted by Pritzker and his wife MK, where the minimum donation was $3,300.

“He stepped up. He raised money, he raised support,” the president continued. “Governor, you’re the best. Thank you for being such a good friend. I really mean it.”

* Stay inside if possible

A Northwestern Medicine doctor said poor air quality created by Canadian wildfires that blanketed northern Illinois with smoke this week is likely leading to increased emergency department visits and respiratory complaints.

Dr. Jeremy Silver, director of the Emergency Department at Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital in DeKalb, said over the past week his department has seen about a 20% increase in patient visits. Respiratory complaints also have increased at a similar rate, he said.

“We have looked at the data and it does correlate with an increase in visits … so I can’t prove that it’s causal,” Silver said Wednesday. “But I think intuitively we’d expect to see at least a little bit of a bump, although, not all [Northwestern Medicine] campuses have seen the same type of data.”

* Oof

Former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Thursday for his role in the largest corruption scandal in state history.

The 64-year-old Republican appeared before U.S. District Judge Timothy Black, who meted out the punishment, about an hour after he and his wife arrived at the federal courthouse.

Householder and lobbyist Matt Borges, a former chair of the Ohio Republican Party, were both convicted in April of a single racketeering charge each, after a six-week trial. Borges is set to be sentenced Friday.

Jurors found that Householder orchestrated and Borges participated in a $60 million bribery scheme secretly funded by Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. to secure Householder’s power, elect his allies, pass legislation containing a $1 billion bailout for two aging nuclear power plants owned by a FirstEnergy affiliate and then to use a dirty tricks campaign to stifle a ballot effort to overturn the bill.

* Hope everyone is OK out there

Damaging straight line winds plunged about half the city of Springfield into darkness Thursday afternoon, felling tree limbs and power lines.

According to City Water, Light and Power, outages and damages stemming from the storm have been reported throughout the city. CWLP said that 40 separate outages have been reported throughout its coverage area, leaving more than 30,000 customers without power.

* Isabel’s roundup…

  20 Comments      


United Airlines blames FAA for its week of mass flight cancellations

Thursday, Jun 29, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* The Washington Post

United Airlines had canceled more than 560 flights as of Wednesday evening, a fourth day of heavy disruptions that mark the airline’s most turbulent stretch since demand for air travel bounced back two years ago.

Since Saturday, United has canceled more than 2,300 flights, including almost 800 on Tuesday — the carrier’s worst single day since the early weeks of the pandemic. The carrier saw 20 percent of its flights canceled and 39 percent delayed Wednesday.

The airline has been shaken by storms in the New York area that have caused setbacks at Newark Liberty International Airport, one of its major hubs. JetBlue, which also has a heavy presence in the region, has also been affected with nearly 90 flights canceled Wednesday. Among all carriers, more than 1,000 flights were canceled nationwide.

The disruptions were set to continue, with the Federal Aviation Administration issuing ground stops for Newark and LaGuardia Airport because of thunderstorms Wednesday afternoon. The continued bad weather raises the prospects of a troubled start to the July Fourth holiday weekend.

* Crain’s

CEO Scott Kirby called out the FAA in a note to employees Monday, blaming the agency that oversees air traffic control systems for United’s problems. “The FAA frankly failed us this weekend. The FAA reduced the arrival rates by 40% and the departure rates by 75% (on Saturday),” The Wall Street Journal and other outlets reported. “That is almost certainly a reflection of understaffing/lower experience at the FAA. It led to massive delays, cancellations, diversions as well as crews and aircraft out of position.”

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who has been pushing for stronger passenger protections when flights are canceled or delayed, says it’s wrong to blame air-traffic control for many of the operational problems plaguing the airlines.

Buttigieg said on CNN Primetime Wednesday night that he has spoken to Kirby. He also said: “Look, United Airlines has some internal issues they need to work through. They’ve really been struggling this week, even relative to other U.S. airlines.

“But where we do agree is that there need to be more resources for air traffic control. That’s why we’re hiring 1,500 more controllers this year. We got plans for another 1,800 controllers next year. And working with Capitol Hill to get more resources in terms of staff and technology.

* ABC

The latest spat also comes just after DOT’s Office of Inspector General found the FAA continues to face staffing shortages for air traffic controllers, and has made “limited efforts” to ensure adequate staffing at critical ATC facilities.

The OIG’s report found that 20 of 26 critical ATC facilities are staffed below the FAA’s 85% threshold. The FAA’s Certified-Professional-Controller workforce has decreased by 10% over the last decade, the audit found.

The problem was exacerbated by the pandemic, the audit found, when training was paused for nearly two years.      

Throughout its probe, officials interviewed managers at various ATC facilities who said their towers were not adequately staffed, and that controllers were working mandatory overtime and 6-day work weeks to cover the shortages.

* CNN

The problems with flight delays and cancellations that have plagued US travelers this week are mostly over — except at struggling United Airlines.

Tracking service FlightAware shows that there are 487 flights to, from or within the United States that have been canceled as of noon ET Thursday and another 2,000 delayed. For canceled flights, the problem is clearly focused on United, with 383 of those cancellations. That means 13% of United flights scheduled for Thursday were already canceled, or nearly one out of every seven. […]

Even before Thursday, United was the focus of the problem, with nearly 3,000 flights canceled since Saturday, or 36% of the industry total. United declined to give CNN an estimate of affected passengers, but based on United’s typical passenger volumes from previous earnings reports and the number of canceled flights, there were likely more than 400,000 passengers booked on canceled United flights.

There were likely more than 1 million passengers booked on the 8,000 canceled flights industrywide, based on statistics from aviation analytics firm Cirium and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

* Sun-Times

Friday is projected to be the busiest travel day at O’Hare, when 231,000 passengers are expected to come through the airport. At Midway, the busiest travel day is projected to be Saturday, when the airport will see about 58,000 passengers.

By Wednesday afternoon, nearly 3,500 U.S. flights were delayed and over 800 were canceled across the country, according to data from FlightAware. Of these disruptions, O’Hare saw over 350 flight delays and over 100 flight cancellations while Midway experienced about 85 flight delays and only one flight cancellation as of Wednesday afternoon.

Pat Mullane, a spokesperson for United Airlines, O’Hare’s largest carrier, said severe weather in the Northeast caused United to delay and cancel flights in Chicago. Mullane added that United flights have not been affected by Chicago’s air quality, which is listed by the federal government as “very unhealthy” due to smoke from Canadian wildfires.

John Monk, a 77-year-old who lives in South Carolina, said he experienced multiple flight delays and gate changes at O’Hare with United while flying back to the U.S. on Tuesday after a monthlong trip throughout Europe with his wife and 17-year-old granddaughter. Monk and his family were flying from Rome to Charlotte, North Carolina, with a layover in Chicago that was initially meant to be about five hours but turned out to be closer to eight hours.

* More background from CNN

The US air travel system is unable to recover quickly from widespread weather problems because it doesn’t have the bodies to deal with the disruptions.

Despite $54 billion of taxpayer funds funneled into airlines to keep them alive during the pandemic, most airlines greatly reduced staff during the first year of the pandemic when air travel, and fares, plunged. They were not allowed to involuntarily layoff staff but they did offer buyouts and early retirement packages. Many also permanently grounded older, less efficient aircraft. Rehiring staff has taken longer than planned.

The result has been that domestic US airline capacity, as measured by the number of available seats adjusted for miles flown, is still down 10% in the current quarter compared to the second quarter of 2019, ahead of the pandemic, according to data from Cirium, an aviation analytics firm. […]

This Friday, at the start of the four-day July Fourth holiday weekend, is projected by the Transportation Security Administration to be the busiest air travel day since the start of the pandemic.

* Related…

  5 Comments      


Question of the day

Thursday, Jun 29, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* NRDC press release…

The infusion of $10 billion in federal funds presents an opportunity to either double down on a dirty, unfair status quo—or choose a new transportation future.

Illinois is set to receive more than $10 billion in federal funding for our transportation system from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

This historic influx of money presents both an opportunity and a threat: We can either make investments to lock in a dirty and unfair status quo for another generation, or we can design a cleaner, safer transportation system that takes everyone into account, including those who can’t get to the grocery store or doctor with a car, like those with disabilities and seniors. 

The costs of our current transportation are intolerably high and affect many areas of our lives:

    1. Our roads are not designed for safety. Fatalities from motor vehicle crashes are a national crisis, and Illinois is no exception, with the number of people dying on roads having risen more than a third from a decade ago. In Chicago, organizers have been calling for safety improvements to prevent future crashes like those that took the lives of pedestrians and cyclists, including 11-year-old Ja’lon James, two-year-old Raphael “Rafi” Cardenas, 41-year-old Gerardo Marciales, and three-year-old Elizabeth “Lily” Grace Shambrook. 
 

    2. Air pollution from cars and trucks harms our health, contributing to asthma, cardiovascular disease, and premature death. Pollution from diesel vehicles alone will kill an estimated 416 people in Illinois this year, in addition to the health harms of pollution from passenger vehicles. These impacts are racially disparate, with Black, Latino, and Asian people in Illinois exposed to 20 to 30 percent more vehicle pollution than white people. Historically, roads—highways in particular—were constructed in ways that segregated and harmed communities of color, and those harms persist today in the form of increased pollution exposure and other injustices. 
 

    3. Car ownership is a financial burden, especially for people with low incomes. The average annual cost of owning and operating an automobile was $10,729 in 2022, up 20 percent in the last decade. At this cost, the average household in Illinois would spend more than one in every seven dollars of its income on a car, and a low-income family would spend more than one-third of its income on a car. Households with incomes below $25,000 per year are nine times more likely not to own a car, meaning that people with low incomes suffer vastly disproportionate harm from our lack of transportation choices. 
 

    4. Vital services are inaccessible to many Illinoisans. By improving transit and designing our streets in a smarter and safer way, we can ensure that everyone—including those who can’t get around without a car, like those with disabilities and seniors—can get to the vital places they need to be, like the doctor’s office or grocery store.
 

    5. The transportation sector is the largest driver of climate change in Illinois, generating one-third of our state’s carbon pollution. In sharp contrast to Illinois’s recent progress in reducing emissions from the power sector, vehicle miles traveled and emissions from the transportation sector have held steady or increased in recent years. Governor JB Pritzker issued an executive order to “fulfill, uphold, and exceed the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement,” rightly committing Illinois to doing its part to avoid catastrophic climate change. Electric vehicle adoption is key to meeting this goal, but it is not possible to meet our state’s climate goals with electric vehicles alone. It will require providing more and better options for transportation and reducing vehicle miles traveled by 20 percent by 2030, in addition to the ambitious adoption of electric vehicles.

Our transportation system as it exists today provides little choice beyond driving cars, leaving behind many of Illinois’s most vulnerable people and harming our climate and our health. 



The federal dollars now flowing into our state create a once-in-a-generation opportunity to modernize Illinois’s transportation system so that every Illinoisan has the ability to safely, affordably, and conveniently take public transit, or to walk, bike, or roll wherever they want to go.

* The Question: Should Illinois invest more federal dollars to address those five points above or remain on its same path?

  30 Comments      


The perils of putting all your promo eggs into one basket

Thursday, Jun 29, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* This WGN headline was bizarre…


Lakeview, suffice it to say, was not destroyed. From the story

Neighbors told WGN News they were horrified by the extent of the damage Tuesday morning that included shoeprints on cars, dented hoods and broken windshields. […]

Chicago police arrested two people, including a 15-year-old girl. The teen is charged with aggravated assault of a first responder and resisting and obstructing traffic.

The kids’ behavior was unacceptable. But the hyperbolic fearmongering (and worse) blared by the alleged adults at WGN was ridic. Also, only 2 arrests? Was it really that horrific or were the police officers standing down?

* Quite a few folks roundly (and rightly) mocked WGN for its breathless reporting. Again, WGN is supposed to be the grownup in the room…



* My personal favorite combined the WGN tweet with an erroneous tweet (since retracted) that President Biden had taken a CTA train after his speech yesterday…


* Anyway, remember the other day when we talked about the state’s latest tourism campaign, with every single ad featuring Jane Lynch? A state contract will pay a PR firm a total of $46.6 million this fiscal year for the ads. Most of that is for running the ads themselves, of course, but that’s still a big chunk of change.

Which brings us to the very same Jane Lynch


Lovely. $46.6 million for this?

I asked DCEO for a response, and was given nothing on the record. If it was a joke (as only one person tried to suggest to me) like the other tweeters, it sure wasn’t taken that way. Here, for instance, is one of the top far-right radio show hosts in St. Louis who regularly comments on Illinois and Chicago…


I’ve reached out to the state vendor, O’Keefe Reinhard & Paul, as well as the production company Lynch is with.

  33 Comments      


Pritzker announces Rainy Day Fund will exceed $2 billion next fiscal year

Thursday, Jun 29, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Press release…

Tomorrow, as required by the Governor’s and General Assembly’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget, the final deposit for FY23 will be made into the Budget Stabilization Fund, and the State of Illinois’ Fiscal Year 2024 budget will deposit an additional $138 million, boosting the fund to over $2 billion, its highest balance in state history. The Budget Stabilization Fund held less than $60,000 when the Governor took office.
 
“Just six years ago our state had nearly nothing in our rainy-day fund, $17 billion in unpaid bills, and had suffered 8 credit downgrades,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Today, we have no bill backlog, a $2 billion rainy-day fund, and eight credit upgrades. Illinois is finally finding its fiscal footing, and with an economy that has now reached over a $1 trillion in GDP, we are among the top states for workforce and business.”
 
Illinois created the Budget Stabilization Fund in 2001 with the intent to use it as a ‘rainy-day’ fund for future fiscal emergencies or economic downturns. Very little was deposited into the fund following its creation and its balance never exceeded $276 million – a small fraction of the state’s budget. It was used as a tool to assist with cash flow until it was nearly drained during the budget impasse in Fiscal Year 2017, when the $275 million balance was used to pay bills.
 


 
Strong revenue performance enabled the State to reduce unpaid bills, repay short-term borrowing, and set aside resources for future fiscal stability. During Fiscal Year 2022, the Governor worked with the General Assembly to deposit $746 million into the Budget Stabilization Fund, and the State will tomorrow finalize its deposits of another $1.18 billion in Fiscal Year 2023.
 
The balance in the Budget Stabilization Fund will grow an estimated $138 million in Fiscal Year 2024 under current law and is expected to have a $2.1 billion balance at the end of Fiscal Year 2024. Additionally, PA 102-1115 raised the targeted balance of the fund from 5 percent of general funds revenues to 7.5 percent of revenues, demonstrating Illinois’ commitment to responsible fiscal planning.
 
Ongoing dedicated revenues to the Budget Stabilization Fund and estimated FY2024 amounts include:
 
    * 10% of state cannabis tax revenues ($25 million)
    * Monthly transfers of $3.75 million from the General Revenue Fund ($45 million)
    * Repayment over 10-years from the loan of $450 million to the State’s UI Trust Fund ($45 million)
    * Interest earnings on the fund’s balance ($23 million)
     

* From the Comptroller’s office…

Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza announced Thursday that she is depositing $200 million into the state’s Rainy Day Fund (Budget Stabilization Fund), bringing the state’s reserve fund to a record of $1.94 billion.
  
The $200 million transferred to the Rainy Day Fund caps off an $850 million supplemental appropriation approved by the General Assembly and Governor in January, when revenue estimates came in higher than what was originally budgeted.

“One of the most important things state leaders did for this fiscal year was to resist spending this additional revenue on new programs, and instead decided to save and prepare the state for potential downturns in the future,” Comptroller Mendoza said. 

The cash balance in the Rainy Day Fund now has reached an all-time high of nearly $2 billion, miles from the $48,000 balance in the fund in August 2018, which was barely enough to run state operations for 30 seconds.

  11 Comments      


IBHE responds to US Supreme Court: “This ruling is an attack on people of color”

Thursday, Jun 29, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The ruling is here. From the Washington Post

The Supreme Court on Thursday held that admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina that relied in part on racial considerations violate the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection, a historic ruling that will force a dramatic change in how the nation’s private and public universities select their students.

The votes split along ideological grounds, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. writing for the conservative members in the majority, and the liberals dissenting.

“The student must be treated based on his or her experiences as an individual — not on the basis of race,” Roberts wrote. “Many universities have for too long done just the opposite. And in doing so, they have concluded, wrongly, that the touchstone of an individual’s identity is not challenges bested, skills built, or lessons learned but the color of their skin. Our constitutional history does not tolerate that choice.” […]

In dissent on Thursday, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that it is is “a disturbing feature of today’s decision that the Court does not even attempt to make the extraordinary showing required” to reverse precedent.

Sotomayor has said her own life is an example of how affirmative action programs can work. In her 69-page dissent, she wrote: “Equal educational opportunity is a prerequisite to achieving racial equality in our Nation.” […]

In his concurring opinion, [Justice Clarence Thomas] directly engaged with Jackson, one of the court’s most liberal members, and the only other Black justice. In Jackson’s view, “almost all of life’s outcomes may be unhesitatingly ascribed to race,” Thomas wrote.

Jackson’s reply to Thomas

JUSTICE THOMAS’s prolonged attack responds to a dissent I did not write in order to assail an admissions program that is not the one UNC has crafted. He does not dispute any historical or present fact about the origins and continued existence of race-based disparity (nor could he), yet is somehow persuaded that these realities have no bearing on a fair assessment of “individual achievement.” JUSTICE THOMAS’s opinion also demonstrates an obsession with race consciousness that far outstrips my or UNC’s holistic understanding that race can be a factor that affects applicants’ unique life experiences. How else can one explain his detection of “an organizing principle based on race,” a claim that our society is “fundamentally racist,” and a desire for Black “victimhood” or racial “silo[s],” in this dissent’s approval of an admissions program that advances all Americans’ shared pursuit of true equality by treating race “on par with” other aspects of identity? JUSTICE THOMAS ignites too many more straw men to list, or fully extinguish, here. The takeaway is that those who demand that no one think about race (a classic pink-elephant paradox) refuse to see, much less solve for, the elephant in the room— the race-linked disparities that continue to impede achievement of our great Nation’s full potential. Worse still, by insisting that obvious truths be ignored, they prevent our problem-solving institutions from directly addressing the real import and impact of “social racism” and “government-imposed racism,” thereby deterring our collective progression toward becoming a society where race no longer matters.

“Pink-elephant paradox” is explained here.

* On to local react. From the Illinois Board of Higher Education…

IBHE Statement on Supreme Court of the United States Decision to End Affirmative Action

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a ruling limiting how universities consider race into their admissions decisions.

This ruling is an attack on people of color, particularly Black people, who face discrimination through multiple facets of American society. Affirmative action already was not a robust solution - it was merely a tool that intended to chip away at an enormous obstacle. It is disheartening to know that there are people intent on stifling racial equity at a time when we should all be working together to break down barriers because that is the right thing to do. A college education is one of the leading predictors for getting out of poverty, and this decision by the Supreme Court will negatively impact people of color seeking economic mobility – something that already seems out of reach – for generations to come.

The Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) and our colleges and universities are committed to continue fighting to close equity gaps for Black, Latino, low-income, working adults and rural students, and we will continue working to make college more affordable. Our work toward an equitable higher education system will continue unabated because diverse and inclusive campuses and student bodies are critical to developing a well-rounded understanding of the world we live in and those with whom we share it. And we will continue to champion equity in the state’s higher education system because it is essential to Illinois’ economic growth.

* Rep. Niemerg…


This post will undoubtedly be updated.

…Adding… Gov. JB Pritzker…

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Affirmative Action is a travesty — reversing nearly 45 years of precedent that advances equity throughout our country’s higher education institutions.

The damage caused to Black communities by slavery and Jim Crow Laws, to Hispanics and Native Americans by a legacy of discrimination and oppression has not nearly been reversed. For centuries, students from historically underrepresented and underserved communities were locked out of higher education — preventing upward mobility and stunting economic development for generations to come. Affirmative action admissions practices were a critical step towards creating educational environments that are representative of our diverse nation, while righting the wrongs of our past.

This decision only sets us back.

But here in the Land of Lincoln and Obama, we will continue to uplift our students of color — promoting inclusion and expanding access through record-levels of funding for higher education institutions and our MAP Grant Program, so that every student has the opportunity to earn a degree.

To students of color throughout the Land of Lincoln and the entire United States: you belong in our institutions. And no archaic ruling will ever change that.

* LG Stratton…

We cannot go back in the journey for justice and opportunity for all. Today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to revoke affirmative action in college admissions is a step in the wrong direction, placing thousands of students at risk of discrimination in the pursuit of a bright future.

This is nothing short of an attempt to resegregate higher education. To succeed in our society, a diverse student body must be a part of our institutions of higher learning. Affirmative action has been an academic lifeline for decades that paved an equitable path into higher education for Black and Brown communities across the country. Diverse voices belong in our future, and they deserve support in overcoming barriers propped up by a history of systemic racism.

In Illinois, we believe in a vision of an education system that is fair, just, and uplifts all. From investing in scholarships for educators from underrepresented communities so students can learn from people who look like them and understand their experiences, to increasing state funding for MAP grants so even more can access an affordable education, our administration will continue to create and expand pathways to academic access.

We are proud of our diversity because we know it makes us stronger. Today’s decision does not represent who we are in Illinois, and we are committed to advocating for our students who are seeking a brighter future across our state.

* Speaker Welch…

“Once again, this Supreme Court has cast aside decades of precedent. Once again, this Supreme Court is targeting marginalized populations. And once again, this Supreme Court is telling a generation of young people that they will have fewer opportunities than generations before them.

“Today’s decision is not only out of touch with the majority of people in this country, but it erodes the very foundation of our democracy. Turning a blind eye to systemic inequities will not end racial exclusion, it will perpetuate it. That’s why, once again, Illinois must resolve to move in a fundamentally better direction. As we evaluate the new framework this Court has imposed, we will work to ensure everyone in our state has access to a world-class education and the opportunity to pursue their dreams.”

* Partnership for College Completion…

In the wake of the United States Supreme Court’s decision to strike down affirmative action through cases Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina in a 6-2 and 6-3 ruling respectively, the Partnership for College Completion (PCC) remains committed to ensuring racial equity is at the forefront of the work we do in higher education and urges bold action from legislators and institutional stakeholders in the wake of this decision that turns its back on enduring racial inequities within our higher education institutions.

“Simply put, the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down affirmative action is a step back and will hurt students of color, Black students in particular, who have worked hard to gain access to places of higher learning across our country,” Director of Policy and Advocacy Christian Perry said. “The Partnership urges lawmakers, advocates, and institutions to speak out against this decision and not allow it to hinder our efforts to increase racial and socioeconomic diversity through admissions and financial aid processes, as well as on campus once students are enrolled.”

While affirmative action alone was never enough to dismantle all barriers students of color face in accessing higher education, it was a crucial factor for institutions to consider in admissions decisions and was upheld in a number of cases, including as recently as 2016. As college access and degree completion disparities remain significant between white students and students of color, we must continue to push our institutions and leaders to urgently use every available opportunity to correct these wrongs, even now that the affirmative action decision will add one more obstacle to equity.

“We don’t have to let an unjust ruling from the Supreme Court determine how we serve our students – we can still transform our institutions to be more racially equitable and representative of the population of our state and nation. From admissions to degree completion, let’s use this moment to work with state policymakers to give institutions the tools they need to create better policies to ensure all of our students can not only access higher education but also obtain their degrees,” Perry said.

In the wake of this decision to strike down decades of precedent, institutions, and lawmakers will need to be thoughtful in order to maintain and increase racial diversity on our college campuses.

* DPI…

Democratic Party of Illinois Chair Lisa Hernandez released the following statement on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling to end affirmative action in college admissions:

“Today, the U.S. Supreme Court sent down a devastating ruling that ends affirmative action in higher education. Members of marginalized groups have been historically denied access to institutions of higher education, and today’s decision will further harm Black and brown students seeking opportunities that have long been afforded to those with power and privilege. Affirmative action is a key protection in working to level the playing field for those who have been sidelined for far too long. This decision undermines decades of progress reducing inequality in education. We won’t let far-right extremists on the Supreme Court determine our futures as they repeatedly roll back rights and protections, especially for the most vulnerable among us. Student bodies that reflect the diversity of our society make educational institutions more fulfilling and more enriching. We can’t afford to go backward; we must continue our fight to build a more just, equitable, and inclusive future for all,” said DPI Chair Lisa Hernandez.

* Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson…

Today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that will effectively end affirmative action is devastating for decades of progress toward creating equitable and inclusive education opportunities for students of color. Affirmative action was a means by which generations of children were allowed access to institutions, access to ideas, and access to cultures that a wicked system of discrimination had long excluded them from. This decision will only further divide communities and strain existing inequities in higher education, but through those inequities will come opportunities for organizing and excellence in the face of struggle.

* US Sen. Durbin…

“I’m disappointed in the Supreme Court’s ruling effectively barring the use of race as a factor in college admissions. The Court’s conservative majority just upended nearly 50 years of established precedent in a move that undermines the progress our country has made advancing racial justice.

“America’s ever-evolving commitment to the fundamental right to live free from discrimination requires us to acknowledge historical wrongs. Tearing down support for historically marginalized populations makes our country less equal, not more.

“The impact of this decision will be felt immediately, as universities struggle to adapt to a troubling new reality that ignores the compelling and valuable interest of diversity in a student body — and students of color will face admissions cycles that devalue their lived experience in America.”

* Sen. Duckworth…

For decades, affirmative action helped chip away at systemic barriers and discrimination against students of color in our education system’s college admissions process. Let’s be clear: colorblindness has never been a true friend of fairness—it ignores our history and perpetuates discrimination. In ending affirmative action, today’s misguided ruling from the far-right, ultra-conservative Supreme Court is a devastating blow to progress, equity and equality for all. In every facet of our society, diversity always makes us stronger—and I’ll continue to do everything I can to help expand opportunities and make sure every American has a fair shot at accessing higher education.

* Chuy…

Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04) issued the following statement on the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn affirmative action.

“Today, the Supreme Court issued another ruling that takes away our rights and sets us back decades. To quote Justice Brown Jackson’s dissent, ‘deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life.’ Overturning affirmative action and returning to a mythical ‘colorblind’ admissions policy means doubling down on a legacy of segregation and exclusion. And to be clear, there is nothing colorblind about ending affirmative action while legacy admissions continue.

“This decision rips away education access from communities already facing disinvestment and inequitable paths to opportunity. It also undermines a diverse workforce, our economy, and our future. This is a devastating ruling from a cruel Supreme Court.”

* SEIU Local 1 President Genie Kastrup…

The highest court in the land – one that is supposed to promote justice and equality for all – just ended one of the most effective social justice policies this country has seen. Simply put: SCOTUS’s decision only benefits the wealthy, the well-connected, and frankly, white folks – all at the expense of people of color.

Affirmative action benefits everyone. It levels the playing field for marginalized groups and ensures every student is exposed to multi-ethnic and multi-cultural environments that reflect the real world we live in. It’s hard enough for working families to pursue college and until we can guarantee that every young person regardless of their skin color, zip code, or income can access high-quality education, affirmative action must remain.

Local 1 remains committed to empowering communities of color and will work to dismantle institutions that perpetuate racism – from the workplace to the education system. We need to urgently meet this moment and demand better for our young people – the future depends on it.

* Latino Policy Forum…

Today, in two decisions (SSFA v. UNC and SSFA v. Harvard), the United States Supreme Court effectively dismantled affirmative action in college and university admissions decisions. The Latino Policy Forum decries these decisions.

These decisions have the potential to impact college access for Latino students dramatically, something we can ill afford in a knowledge-based economy in which Latinos have the lowest levels of college completion among racial and ethnic groups.

Geographic considerations for admission and legacy admissions appear legally intact and available to those who can access them. Why racial and ethnic considerations are precluded from playing such a role is a significant and aggravating question for those concerned with equity in education.

The Court’s action has the immediate impact of demolishing an avenue of ensuring that college students reflect the demographic mosaic of the United States. This demolition creates yet another structural impediment standing in the way of individuals from historically marginalized groups gaining access to public and private colleges and universities, but especially disheartening is what is likely to happen to Latinos in the game of college admissions.

With this action by the Supreme Court, Latinos, one of the country’s youngest and fastest growing demographics, with recent growth in college attendance but still, relatively low rates of college admission and completion, are likely to see their admission numbers decrease.

While colleges and universities cannot erase the impact of the Court’s decisions, one way to ensure some enhanced equity in admissions for Latinos and other marginalized groups is for colleges and universities to significantly expand their commitment and resources to and outreach efforts in, recruiting first-generation college students, low-income students, immigrants, and students whose primary language is not English.

These decisions are profoundly regrettable, and it is now incumbent on colleges and universities to structure admissions procedures in such a way as to legally ensure that student bodies reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the nation.

* IFT…

linois Federation of Teachers (IFT) President Dan Montgomery issued the following statement after today’s devasting ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on affirmative action in college admissions.

“As an educator and union leader, I am devastated that countless Black, Brown, Indigenous, and marginalized students will lose opportunities to pursue higher education at top universities. This harmful ruling will have lasting implications for students looking to attend institutions that seek to promote diversity and equity in their student bodies and will have detrimental effects far beyond the few universities at issue in today’s rulings.

“We cannot continue to sweep racism under the rug and pretend that our institutions are color blind. Sadly, today justices stripped thousands of students of their futures by making it acceptable for institutions to operate under exclusionary policies. Their decision seriously threatens democracy and equality and harkens back to our shameful Jim Crow past.

“As this court did with labor rights in Janus, with voting rights in Holder, and with reproductive rights in Dobbs, these affirmative action decisions cavalierly discard decades of established law. Americans are in the clutches of a rogue radical right-wing court detached from mainstream American legal thought and far out of touch with the beliefs of most Americans.

“Today’s decision makes it very clear why elections matter. Among other efforts, we will continue to work with our governor and legislature to revamp higher education funding so the neediest students have college access, and no students or families must endure crippling debt simply to get a college education.”

* ISAC…

As the state’s college access and financial aid agency, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) works every day with students and families of color, first generation students, rural students, and low-income students. Many of these students face significant obstacles to higher education—obstacles that can stem from lack of college-going experience, financial pressures, and racial discrimination. None of these obstacles exist in a vacuum. They can create a cycle that disadvantages students with talent and promise who must often work much harder just to gain access to a college education. A diverse community in higher education benefits all of us.

Our colleagues at the state’s colleges and universities have their work cut out for them as they react to today’s ruling. We know that regardless of this decision, they will work to ensure access and to promote equity and opportunity for Illinois students from all backgrounds, all ZIP codes, and, indeed, students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. For over six decades, ISAC’s mission has focused on making education beyond high school accessible and affordable for all students, and we will not waver in our commitment. ISAC will continue to support students and families statewide, through the Monetary Award Program for students with financial need, outreach programming designed to support all students, including those who would be the first in their families to get a college degree, and other free resources to help ensure that every student gets the opportunities they deserve.

  57 Comments      


ComEd wants ratepayers to help pay some insurance cost increases in the wake of federal corruption trial, but won’t say how much

Thursday, Jun 29, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Steve Daniels at Crain’s Chicago Business

Insurers of Exelon and its subsidiary, Commonwealth Edison, so far have agreed to pay $213 million to settle shareholder lawsuits stemming from the ComEd bribery scandal.

No surprise then that premiums are soaring for policies insuring Exelon and ComEd’s directors and officers for liability stemming from the decisions they make or actions they fail to take that harm the company.

ComEd is asking ratepayers to bear at least some of those higher insurance costs in the $1.5 billion, four-year delivery rate hike the utility is seeking, a ComEd spokeswoman confirms. But she won’t say how much, and filings with the Illinois Commerce Commission don’t disclose the figure. […]

The ICC filings do lay out, however, how much more Exelon must pay now to shield directors and officers from liability — hardly a surprise given the hundreds of millions in settlements the insurers have agreed to absorb. The company expects to pay $9.6 million this year, $10.4 million in 2024, $11 million in 2025, $11.5 million in 2026 and $12.1 million in 2027. […]

Not only are insurers covering all of Exelon’s shareholder-lawsuit settlement costs so far, but the company is set to gain financially from the agreements. Exelon stands to reap $30 million from the proposed settlement of several lawsuits brought by shareholders on the company’s behalf against a large group of current and past directors and officers.

Unreal.

  26 Comments      


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Thursday, Jun 29, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

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Thursday, Jun 29, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

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Live coverage

Thursday, Jun 29, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

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