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Isabel’s morning briefing

Tuesday, Sep 26, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Here you go…

    * WBEZ | Chicago’s migrant crisis tied to U.S. foreign policy: First of all, you have the inability of the local governments to deal with what is essentially a federal problem: The Congress and the federal government, since 2006, have been unable to reach a new immigration policy for the United States. […] For instance, as many Ukrainians roughly have come to the United States in the last couple of years, as have Venezuelans. There is no narrative in the media that the Ukrainians are creating a crisis. Why not? Because the government is quietly integrating them into the society, giving them work permits, giving them social benefits, and they’re in essence melting into the U.S. population. There are more Ukrainians that have come to Chicago in the last year than Venezuelans. But somehow we see the Venezuelans in the police precincts, we see them in the shelters, we see the government claiming it has no ability to deal with them.

    * Tribune | As migrants clash near high-volume shelters, neighbors and businesses grow alarmed: ‘We don’t feel safe’: With the city buckling under the growing number of migrants — 12 buses carrying 560 more asylum hopefuls arrived this weekend — and no sign of the influx slowing down, tensions among migrants, residents and business owners are reaching a boiling point. The neighbors say they’ve witnessed frequent fights, loitering and other misconduct.

    * Crain’s | Manteno battery plant is first coup in Illinois EV ambitions: The auto industry is set to make a massive and abrupt shift to battery-powered vehicles over the next decade. Any state with a piece of the auto industry has to make that shift, too. In the past two years, companies have announced plans to invest roughly $140 billion in EV and battery plants, compared with $20 billion in the previous two years, estimates Dave Gohlke, an energy and environmental analyst at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont.

    * WTAX | State legislators turn to Illinois Dept. of Insurance in BCBS/Springfield Clinic standoff: The standoff between Blue Cross Blue Shield and Springfield Clinic continues, and now state legislators are getting involved. Springfield Clinic’s Chief Brand and Advocacy Officer Zack Kerker, appearing on the WTAX Morning Newswatch, says Illinois Senators Doris Turner and Steve McClure and Representatives Sue Scherer and Mike Coffey sent a request to the Illinois Department of Insurance asking the government to do more. He adds that Scherer and Turner have asked the IDOI to consider stopping the sale of the Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance plan.

    * WTTW | Federal Judge: Ald. Jim Gardiner Violated First Amendment by Blocking Critics from Official Facebook Page: “The record is clear that Gardiner engaged in both content-based and speaker-based restrictions on his Facebook page, according to the ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman. “He deleted and hid comments from disfavored constituents voicing opposing political beliefs and even went as far as to block some of those constituents. The Court thus finds Gardiner in violation of the First Amendment.”

    * Daily Herald | Where local members of Congress went on lobbyist-funded trips: Six members of the congressional delegation serving the North, West and Northwest suburbs took trips abroad last year funded by special interest groups, federal documents show. Destinations included Honduras, Israel, Spain and Egypt. The hosts included groups that oppose U.S. activities in Central America, two that promote pro-Jewish policies in Congress and others focused on different domestic and global issues.

    * Daily Herald | Duckworth has earned more than $1.6 million from memoir sales, documents show: Last year alone, the book — titled “Every Day Is a Gift: A Memoir” — netted Duckworth $462,500 in royalties — more than double the $174,000 annual salary she receives as a senator. The income was detailed in Duckworth’s latest annual financial disclosure report, which she filed with the Senate in early August. Illinois’ other senator, Springfield Democrat Dick Durbin, disclosed he owns stock in Pfizer — the pharmaceutical giant that makes a COVID-19 vaccine, Viagra and other popular drugs — and has money in mutual funds, retirement accounts and other types of investments.

    * WTAX | Dillard: GOP is right of me: Out of the Capitol for more than eight years, former longtime State Sen. Kirk Dillard doesn’t miss the process. “It’s a people business to be in politics and government, and I miss my colleagues,” said Dillard during a visit to Springfield last week. But today’s Republican Party, particularly in Illinois, may not have room for a moderate such as he.

    * BGA | Growth of “Finance General” Category in Chicago’s Budgets Obscures Departmental Costs; Reflects Rising Pension and Borrowing Expenses: As they are each year, these hearings are designed to hold each department accountable for its budgeted expenditures. But one pot of city money isn’t held to the same scrutiny: a catch-all category called “finance general” for budgeted expenditures not assigned to a specific department. A Better Government Association policy team analysis has found that over the past three administrations, an increasing number of appropriation items has been added to this category, significantly growing the portion of the city budget without direct departmental accountability from about one-third to nearly half of the overall city budget.

    * Sun-Times | Democrats blast House Republicans for planned forum on Chicago crime instead of working to avert a government shutdown: Foxx — who is not seeking reelection — told the Sun-Times Jordan is coming to Chicago rather than fulfilling his obligations to his constituents as the nation is on the verge of a “Republican sponsored government shutdown.” She also took aim at Chicago FOP President John Catanzara, who last year apologized for comments he initially made in defense of Jan. 6 insurrectionists. […] Speaking at Ald. Emma Mitts’ West Side office, U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., called the GOP forum “unbelievable” and a distraction from House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s struggles to gather enough votes to pass a short-term spending plan.

    * Tribune | Even as Chicago Bears open season with losses, Arlington Heights Village Board working to bring stadium to suburb: Trustees identified nine strategic priorities for the village over the next two years during a goal-setting session late last month. That was used by village staff to help create the 2024-2025 strategic priority list that was presented for approval at the Sept. 5 Village Board meeting.

    * Sun-Times | As Red Line extension advances, a cheaper way hides in plain sight: “The oft-stated goal of the Red Line extension is to do right by the underserved residents of the Far South Side. At some point the realization ought to have dawned: There’s already a railroad down here!” Zotti wrote. “We don’t have to build another one! We could massively improve service without waiting 20 years!”

    * The Climate Brink | Visualizing a summer of extremes in 7 charts: Global surface temperatures have dramatically spiked since the start of June, with the past four months (June-September) breaking prior monthly records by a large margin. This extreme global heat has made it virtually certain that 2023 will rank as the warmest year on record, and means that there is a chance it will emerge as the first year exceeding 1.5C above preindustrial levels – at least in some datasets.

    * NYT | America Is Using Up Its Groundwater Like There’s No Tomorrow: Groundwater loss is hurting breadbasket states like Kansas, where the major aquifer beneath 2.6 million acres of land can no longer support industrial-scale agriculture. Corn yields have plummeted. If that decline were to spread, it could threaten America’s status as a food superpower. Fifteen hundred miles to the east, in New York State, overpumping is threatening drinking-water wells on Long Island, birthplace of the modern American suburb and home to working class towns as well as the Hamptons and their beachfront mansions.

    * NYT | ‘Monster Fracks’ Are Getting Far Bigger. And Far Thirstier.: Along a parched stretch of La Salle County, Texas, workers last year dug some 700 feet deep into the ground, seeking freshwater. Millions of gallons of it. The water wouldn’t supply homes or irrigate farms. It was being used by the petroleum giant BP to frack for fossil fuels. The water would be mixed with sand and toxic chemicals and pumped right back underground — forcing oil and gas from the bedrock.

    * Crain’s | Mayors press Congress for big expansion of affordable housing tax credits: Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson and several other local and state leaders are urging Congress to pass legislation that would turbocharge a tax credit that spurs affordable housing development nationwide. They say changes in the tax credit program could lead to an additional 2 million affordable rental units coming online nationwide in the next decade, on top of the roughly 1.25 million units that would get built without the changes.

    * AP | Joe Biden will join the UAW strike picket line. Experts can’t recall the last time a president did that: Biden’s trip to join a picket line in the suburbs of Detroit is the most significant demonstration of his pro-union bona fides, a record that includes vocal support for unionization efforts at facilities and executive actions that promoted worker organizing. He also earned a joint endorsement of the major unions earlier this year and has avoided southern California for high-dollar fundraisers amid the writers’ and actors’ strikes in Hollywood.

    * Crain’s | Instant Pot and Pyrex maker draws interest from Citadel, Centre Lane: Citadel has offered to purchase loan holdings from existing lenders at around 7 cents on the dollar, said the people who asked not to be named because the details of the matter are private. It’s asking those who don’t want to sell to team up in a potential bid for certain assets, such as the housewares business, some of the people said. That would allow lenders to use debt they’re owed toward purchasing the company’s assets out of bankruptcy.

    * WAND | Illinois’ first lady to speak at Lincoln Presidential Library about Gov.’s mansion: The first lady will share stories about some of the mansion’s renowned residents and visitors – including Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt – and explain how the building has changed with the culture and style of the times.

    * The Atlantic | Lincoln’s Lessons: It’s not that he greatly changed his critics’ beliefs, nor that they greatly changed his. Rather, he learned how to make his beliefs actionable.


  1. - Tony T. - Tuesday, Sep 26, 23 @ 7:59 am:

    That Sun-Times red line extension story is right on target. Underused Metra tracks spiderweb all over the south side. They could be renovated and the number of trains boosted, which would serve far more commuters and neighborhoods for much less than the red line extension will cost. But that would require our innumerable transit authorities to actually work together, something that doesn’t happen. This has the potential to be one of the great government spending boondoggles of our time, and almost no one is paying attention to it.

  2. - Walker - Tuesday, Sep 26, 23 @ 8:38 am:

    Much of the venture capital arena, and the billions made by the players, couldn’t exist without our bankruptcy protections and courts. It leverages failures in our capitalist markets while relying on government to minimize losses.

    Ironic that so many of the wealthy beneficiaries in that industry will tout the successes of ideal free markets, while attacking evil government.

  3. - Lurker - Tuesday, Sep 26, 23 @ 8:45 am:

    Reading these migrant stories, breaks my heart. These are people and yet that seems forgotten in some instances. I hope a federal solution comes from somewhere.

  4. - MOON - Tuesday, Sep 26, 23 @ 9:05 am:


    This is a federal solution……enforce the existing laws.

  5. - cermak_rd - Tuesday, Sep 26, 23 @ 9:13 am:

    Metra has its place no doubt. But because of the nature of metra it prefers fuller trains and therefore has less schedule. Typically it has bunches of trains in the AM and lots in the PM but one an hour at other times.
    The L on the other hand, when its going well is every 10-20 minutes and no need to schedule your life by it. Simply show up and grab the next that comes.

  6. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Sep 26, 23 @ 9:16 am:

    ===enforce the existing laws.===

    The asylum laws are being enforced. You people keep defaming these folks as “illegals.” They’re not.

  7. - Steve - Tuesday, Sep 26, 23 @ 9:21 am:

    -You people keep defaming these folks as “illegals.” They’re not.-

    Rich is right . Many of the migrants you see on TV have a court date (often years away). That’s a failure of current law.

  8. - Jibba - Tuesday, Sep 26, 23 @ 9:41 am:

    Dillard was the last Republican I voted for. And from the way it looks, perhaps the last ever.

  9. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Sep 26, 23 @ 9:43 am:

    This. All day, every day, “thrice” on Sunday…

    ===Out of the Capitol for more than eight years, former longtime State Sen. Kirk Dillard doesn’t miss the process. “It’s a people business to be in politics and government, and I miss my colleagues,” said Dillard during a visit to Springfield last week. But today’s Republican Party, particularly in Illinois, may not have room for a moderate such as he.===

    For me, I do not identify as a Republican in its cultish, far right, extreme base needs, nor am I an election denier… and January 6th was an insurrection, t-shirts and all.

    I miss so much of what it means to have actual facts in evidence policy discussions, I miss the Reagan Rule, I miss the idea of looking to do the doable, the policy of not making the perfect the enemy of the good… and that the opposing party is not your enemy, the enemy of America, and the enemy of democracy and our Republic.

    What the RaunerS did was usurp a party of collective thinking and required that party to be a collective… and beholden to the couple.

    The cultists, Proft, “Timpone” types, Uihlein… Griffin… by aiding in the collapse of a legitimate party to governing, and made it a hollow vessel as cultists and extremists went from 27% in a two way primary race against Jim Edgar… to 56+% in a six way primary race where the apostle Darren Bailey prayed, shot up a budget, denied a global pandemic, and supported (and now supports again) the leader of an insurrection because we in the United States now deny the realization of a fair and free election has legitimate results… even if one does disagrees.

    Grant told me, patriots and traitors. Ok. I never thought in 21st century America we find our Republic in that mindset, not by rhetorical choice but by the demand of the Republic… if we can keep it. I don’t identify with traitors.

    You can’t be a lil seditious, can’t be a lil traitorous. You can choose to realize the televangelists like a Darren Bailey shouldn’t lead a party’s ticket… and recognize that a majority of those voters in that party side with the bad hurting the constitution.

    I write sometimes and get to lazy to stop.

    Dillard knows the score, understands the game, the players, and how things fit. A good soul to his own thoughts here, I appreciate him, here and to a greater good too.

    I’ll end with this thought of political homelessness, and it’s not that I don’t identify as a Dem or that I now by default must be an independent, I can’t get past Grant. My two sides are far greater than donkeys or elephants, red or blue, my two sides are far crisper, no ambiguity, no give to the other. In reality, surrendering means failure to our Republic. Dillard’s words tell of a man where he finds himself, and how far things have fallen.

  10. - Big Dipper - Tuesday, Sep 26, 23 @ 10:29 am:

    Alderman Gardiner so clearly violated First Amendment rights that no trial on liability is needed, just damages. And he did this stuff after the Chicago Board of Ethics told everyone that it was illegal conduct. I hope taxpayers aren’t on the hook as he was denied qualified immunity.

  11. - H-W - Tuesday, Sep 26, 23 @ 10:35 am:

    But how do you really feel, OW? /s

  12. - Back to the Future - Tuesday, Sep 26, 23 @ 11:58 am:

    That Trib article on the area around the financial district and the Standard Club is accurate.
    Many people do not feel safe in the area anymore. Not sure what can be done as you have a thousand displaced people that need assistance in a very concentrated space.
    Perhaps the State of Illinois can provide some additional social workers, law enforcement personnel or other professionals on site as well as a plan to move these folks to suitable housing in other areas of the state until things have a chance to settle down.
    Generally all the people in the Standard Club are here legally and more help for them is needed now.

  13. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Sep 26, 23 @ 12:02 pm:

    ===Many people do not feel===

    Anecdotal… and Brandon Johnson won with “crime” as it sits in polling.

    The rest is the want to a feeling. The Trib is about wanting fear and anger to most things, even if what people decide is the opposite to thoughts?

    More needs to be done because more needs to be done. Amplifying angst is a steering.

  14. - Back to the Future - Tuesday, Sep 26, 23 @ 12:25 pm:

    Take a walk in the area around the Standard Club and let me know how you “feel”. Take a break for lunch and sit in that park.
    We have people who work in that area. It really is genuinely concerning.
    Have to give credit to the CPD for being active in the area and showing a great deal of professionalism and kindness to the people in the Standard Club and also the people who work in the area.
    These immigrants are here legally. Our CPD needs assistance in handling this situation. Time for less talk and a lot more action. The number of immigrants is going to keep increasing as more people are bused in. Not sure people not directly impacted by the problem actually appreciate the issues.
    The Trib does a fair job of reporting on the problem.

  15. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Sep 26, 23 @ 12:31 pm:

    ===know how you “feel”===

    My thoughts to your “feelings” or any feelings are not beneficial to actually understanding any problems.

    ===a fair job of reporting===

    Reporting, but this ain’t reporting…

    ===It really is genuinely concerning.===

    … this is concerned trolling

  16. - Back to the Futur - Tuesday, Sep 26, 23 @ 12:49 pm:

    Not sure you can completely understand the problem unless you live with it everyday.
    Come visit the area. Talk to a police officer or one of the legal immigrants waiting for some progress or just look around. The Trib covered the problem well.
    Of course, this facility is still better than sleeping on the floor if a police station, but the longer this goes on the more problems will show up.

  17. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Sep 26, 23 @ 12:53 pm:

    ===Talk to a police officer===

    … and there it is.

    It’s like reading a Paul Vallas op-ed expecting a rational thought to an overall.

    The problem is a national crisis that requires multiple governors to, in a bipartisan way, force the Feds to act in the best interests of all, including the immigrants.

  18. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Sep 26, 23 @ 4:46 pm:

    I work near Pritzker Park and use the Library el stop pretty much everyday. In my experience, the migrants living in the shelter who hang out in the park all day is an improvement in the overall vibe of that place. Prior to migrants populating the park, it was often used by drug dealers as an open air market. I’m sure there is illegal activity occurring, but for the most part, the addition of the migrants makes it feel a bit safer to me.

    Crowded places tend to police themselves in certain ways. But I’m also not ignoring that the police presence is noticeably higher, and that someone is finally cleaning up the litter in the park that has plagued it for years, long before any migrants came to Chicago.

    All in all, Pritzker Park feels less problematic today than it did immediately following the pandemic. At least that’s been my experience as a daily observer.

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