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Appeals court denies city’s motion to stay enforcement of lower court’s Bring Chicago Home ruling

Thursday, Feb 29, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* First Appellate District

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the City of Chicago’s motion to stay enforcement pending appeal is denied. The referendum that is the subject of this litigation remains on the ballot and voters are free to cast their ballots as they choose. The effect of the lower court order is to enjoin the Board of Elections from counting those ballots, which will not occur until after the polls close on election day, March 19, 2024. Nevertheless, cognizant of the issues raised by the City, we granted its motion to expedite this appeal in order to resolve the case on an expedited basis.

  5 Comments      


Belvidere UAW local sticking with Foster despite regional UAW’s endorsement of Dem opponent Rashid (Updated x2)

Thursday, Feb 29, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Qasim Rashid is challenging incumbent US Rep. Bill Foster in the Democratic primary. And this UAW endorsement of his candidacy was unexpected, to say the least

Qasim Rashid’s campaign for US Congress in Illinois’ 11th District gains significant momentum as it announces its endorsement by the United Auto Workers (UAW) Union. The only candidate in IL-11 to receive the endorsement, UAW’s support of Rashid’s candidacy underscores his commitment to represent organized labor and champion the rights and well-being of working families in the Chicago suburbs and nationwide.

Rashid, a human rights lawyer raised in DuPage County, has dedicated his career to fighting for justice, equity, and opportunity for all. His platform seamlessly aligns with UAW’s steadfast commitment to economic, social, and climate justice.

“UAW is proud to endorse Qasim Rashid, a proven advocate for working people,” said John Gedney, UAW Illinois Legislative/Political Representative for Region 4. “Qasim is the only candidate in this race aligned with UAWs principles. He’s the only one who never accepted contributions from Ford or GM as they abused our workers for decades. He’s the only candidate who champions guaranteed universal healthcare, has experience protecting civil rights for all Americans, and advocates for a ceasefire in Israel and Palestine.

As one of the largest labor unions in the country, UAW’s endorsement of Rashid reflects his dedication to economic justice for all working families. He pledges to fight for debt-free college and trade schools, dismantle monopolies, combat price gouging, pass the PRO Act, advocate for a $17 federal minimum wage, and mandate paid sick and parental leave. His platform centers on holding billion-dollar companies accountable by advocating for campaign finance reform, penalizing companies that pay poverty wages, and curbing stock buybacks to prioritize investment in workers and infrastructure.

“I am grateful to UAW for recognizing my unwavering commitment to people and working families. For nearly 90 years, UAW has stood as a beacon of leadership and economic justice for tens of millions of working Americans, and I am honored to partner with them to build a future that continues to expand on worker’s rights,” said Rashid. “After the UAW won its contract negotiations with Ford, GM, and Stellantis, non-union automakers Hyundai, Toyota, and Honda all increased wages for their workers to keep up. I am excited to work with the UAW and other labor organizations to increase membership, improve pay and benefits, and build an economy that prioritizes working people.”

Rashid has made an issue out of Foster’s campaign contributions from automakers. Also, the UAW called for a ceasefire in Israel and Palestine back in December. Congressman Foster has not done so.

* Even so, the endorsement is baffling because Foster has been a big UAW supporter, even inviting Belvidere’s UAW Local 1268 President Matt Frantzen to this year’s State of the Union as his guest

“I’m honored to join Congressman Foster at this year’s State of the Union Address. After Stellantis idled the Assembly Plant last February, Bill was one of the first to call asking how he could help. From getting the White House involved to securing federal incentives, he played a vital role in ensuring the plant reopened and workers could return to Belvidere,” said Matt Frantzen.

* Frantzen and other local UAW members appeared in a Foster ad

* So, in a split with his region’s leadership, Frantzen told me his local will be endorsing Foster.

“Foster’s been here with us,” Frantzen said today. “He’s been here for us. He stepped up when we needed him. I see no reason to step away from him now.”

Frantzen also said he has “no idea why the region is making the decision they’ve made.”

[Thanks to Isabel for helping put this post together.]

…Adding… Rashid’s financial disclosure report indicates that he bought a BMW in November of last year, not long before the Belvidere plant was shuttered. Foster drives a Ford.

…Adding… And here it is…

Today, the Foster for Congress campaign announced that Congressman Bill Foster has been endorsed for reelection by Belvidere United Auto Workers Local 1268.

“Belvidere UAW Local 1268 is proud to endorse Bill Foster for reelection to Congress. Simply put, our plant would be closed and our jobs would be gone if not for Bill,” said Matt Frantzen, President of UAW Local 1268. “Last February, when Stellantis announced it was shuttering the Belvidere Assembly Plant, one of the very first phone calls we got was from Bill asking what he could do to help get the plant reopened. And Bill’s offer to help wasn’t just hollow words – he took action. He went to bat for us, getting the White House and President Biden involved and making it possible for the plant to reopen and for workers to return to Belvidere. The fact is, Bill Foster had our backs from day one. We’re proud to have his back so we can make sure he remains our representative in Congress.”

  12 Comments      


Isabel’s afternoon roundup

Thursday, Feb 29, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* A new anti-Bailey mailer from Mike Bost…

* Meanwhile

The House passed another short-term spending measure Thursday that would keep one set of federal agencies operating through March 8 and another set through March 22, avoiding a shutdown for parts of the federal government that would otherwise kick in Saturday. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill later in the day. […]

The vote to approve the measure was 320-99. It easily cleared the two-thirds majority needed for passage.

From Bost…


* In other news, former Secretary of State Jesse White withdrew his endorsement of Peter DiCianni…

In the race for DuPage County Recorder, Peter DiCianni asked that I support his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for the office. I agreed because I know him and consider him a friend. However, two videos surfaced this week in which I found his actions to be inappropriate and divisive.

While I remain a strong advocate for law enforcement, I equally support efforts to ensure all people are treated fairly. Once you experience discrimination of any kind, you understand how deeply it cuts. Pete’s conduct in these videos disappoints me and is not what I expect from our political leaders. As a result, I withdraw my endorsement of his candidacy for the office.

Some background is here and here.

From a Sept. 21st press release…

The Executive Committee of the Democratic Party of DuPage County unanimously passed a no confidence vote on Pete Dicianni. Pete Dicianni has strong ties to the Republican Party and has only been elected as a Republican.

* Here’s the rest…

    * Capitol News Illinois | His conviction was overturned after 35 years wrongfully served. State law caps his compensation at 14 years: Because of the way the system is structured, Beals’ potential compensation essentially stopped accruing after he served 14 years. A new bill in the General Assembly would seek to remove the roughly $200,000 cap on payments to exonerees that maxes out at the 14-year mark, replacing it with a payout of $50,000 per year, capped at just over $2 million.

    * Shaw Local | Ex-Bolingbrook cop Drew Peterson’s attorneys issue subpoena to NewsNation: On Tuesday, Carlson issued an order “dealing with WGN and [Nexstar Media Group] as well as NewsNation at the request of the parties,” according to court transcripts of the hearing. The court order was based on the interview from Banfield, managed to attain what she said was an “exclusive jailhouse interview” with Peterson. The interview also ran on WGN-TV.

    * CBS | Restrictive abortion laws disproportionately impact Black women in GOP-led states, new Democratic memo notes: For instance, in Florida, where abortion is banned at 15 weeks, Black women are nearly four times as likely to die from complications related to pregnancy, compared to White women, the DLCC noted, citing data compiled by the Florida Department of Health. In Georgia, where a six-week abortion ban is in place, Black women “are more than three times more likely to die from pregnancy complications than white women, the worst ratio in the country,” the DLCC said in its memo.

    * BGA | Campaign Cash from City Contractors Target of New Ethics Ordinance: A BGA Policy analysis of 2022 and 2023 contribution records from the campaigns of former mayor Lori Lightfoot and eventual run-off candidates Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas found more than a hundred contributions from individuals to whom the new rules would apply. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to the three campaigns would have been capped at the $1,500 limit, had the board’s proposed language been in place for the 2023 municipal election cycle.

    * Tribune | Civic groups call on mayor, aldermen to enact City Council ethics reforms: The leaders of the Better Government Association, the Civic Federation and the League of Women Voters of Chicago called for more transparency and better public access in the body in a letter Thursday to Johnson and council Rules Committee chair Ald. Michelle Harris, 8th. The groups criticized current City Hall leaders for circumventing rules designed to publicize what aldermen are considering and chipping away at public access to meetings in a letter signed by BGA President David Greising, Civic Federation President (and former Chicago Inspector General) Joe Ferguson and League of Women Voters of Chicago President Jane Ruby.

    * Sun-Times | Proposal to ship tons of Chicago garbage down the river is dead in water: LRS had put the project on temporary hold after the community organization Little Village Environmental Justice Organization raised concerns that the company’s barge operation would stir up toxic materials in the nearby collateral channel just off of the canal. Last week, company officials notified the Little Village group, other environmental and community organizations and the city to let them know that the project is being shelved.

    * Crain’s | Discover-Capital One deal leaves Chatham call center’s future uncertain: Capital One’s plan to buy Discover Financial Services raises questions about whether Discover’s highly touted call center in Chatham will remain a key job provider for the largely Black South Side neighborhood or face closure as part of cost-cutting measures related to the $35 billion deal. […] Discover declined to comment on its plans for the call center, pointing to a statement announcing the deal that said, “Capital One appreciates the importance of Chicagoland and remains committed to maintaining a strong presence in that market, as well as maintaining service excellence across the U.S.”

    * Axios | Chicago still stalled on free public toilet pilot: The city has not begun the process of procuring the goods and services for a public restroom project, and “there is no agreement currently in place regarding public restrooms,” a spokesperson tells Axios.

    * Naperville Sun | 7th gun-related arrest at Naperville TopGolf since September: Naperville police Cmdr. Ricky Krakow said Lee’s arrest was “the same as the others.” “An officer (on) foot observed a firearm in a parked car,” he wrote in an email to the Sun. “The suspect returned to the car and was taken into custody without incident.”

    * Daily Herald | Parking woes could doom planned Durty Nellie’s redevelopment: The clock is ticking on a proposed mixed-use development in downtown Palatine anchored by a re-imagined Durty Nellie’s pub, and time soon could run out because of unresolved parking issues. “I think it’s looking very unlikely that that project will go forward,” Village Manager Reid Ottesen said Wednesday during the annual State of the Village event hosted by the Palatine Area Chamber of Commerce.

    * Crain’s | A night of art and innovation: Museum of Science & Industry’s Black Creativity Gala: With more than 700 attendees, the gala raised over $685,000 to support educational programs and experiences aimed at inspiring the next generation of Black leaders. With more than 700 attendees, the gala raised over $685,000 to support educational programs and experiences aimed at inspiring the next generation of Black leaders.

    * Block Club | Remembering Richard Hunt, The Legendary Sculptor Who Inspired Artists In Chicago And Beyond: Taking inspiration from civil rights, the natural world and sculptors who came before him, Hunt’s career includes thousands of pieces, works like “The Light of Truth Ida B. Wells National Monument” in Bronzeville, the “Growth Columns” in Washington, D.C., and numerous exhibits at museums around the country, from California to New York.

    * Tribune | Tom Skilling delivers emotional final forecast on WGN-TV: “What’s especially amazing about WGN is the bond between this television station and you, our viewers,” Skilling said in his sign-off address Wednesday. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart, because in this line of work, if no one watches us, we don’t have a job. So thank you for 45 extraordinary and loyal years of viewership.”

  15 Comments      


Despite reported shortage, state claims city has not requested diapers for migrant babies since October

Thursday, Feb 29, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Isabel posted this Tribune story earlier today

Migrant families are reporting a shortage of diapers in the city’s shelters, forcing some parents to reuse dirty diapers on their babies, according to migrants and a network of volunteers working closely with those living in shelters. […]

Hygiene products, including diapers and toilet paper, are provided by the city’s emergency operations center’s logistics section, which was created to coordinate and allocate resources for migrants. The city receives supplies from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and outside vendors.

Mary May, a spokesperson for the city, acknowledged that “supply shortages from IEMA and FEMA can result in temporary shortages of some supplies” for migrants, but said in the statement last Friday that officials had “received a large delivery of supplies” that included diapers to deliver to shelters.

“Shelter staff can only distribute what they have in supply. If inventory levels of certain items get low, emergency deliveries of the items are made,” May said.

I followed up with IEMA this afternoon…

IEMA-OHS received the city’s one and only request for diapers in October and provided 64,000 diapers the next day. Earlier this week IEMA-OHS received a request for additional supplies from the city, which did not include diapers, but IEMA-OHS provided another 600 diapers that had been donated.

IEMA-OHS is unclear on what OEMC is referring to in its attempts to blame shortages on IEMA-OHS, but given that it is the city of Chicago that is responsible for providing diapers in city of Chicago shelters, further questions should be directed there.

I’ve been paraphrasing a song line from the late, great Albert King recently whenever anyone has asked me about city government: “If it wasn’t for incompetence, they wouldn’t have no competence at all.” Not completely true, of course, but the line does go over well.

* Meanwhile, as of yesterday morning, 12,189 migrants were in Chicago shelters, that’s 18 percent below the 14,900 in shelters in late December.

Also, between last Tuesday, February 20th, and yesterday, February 28th, 1,320 additional asylum seekers have been resettled, for a total of 13,798. And another 234 have been reunited with sponsors, for a total of 4,893. The state launched an effort a few months ago to reduce shelter and resettlement bottlenecks.

* Migrant rumors circulated wildly on social media, so a local news media outlet checked into the rumors but found them to be bogus and didn’t run a story. The rumors then persisted to the point where the local mayor had to hold a press conference, which was then covered

Jacksonville officials are trying to be kill social media buzz claiming immigrants are being bused to buildings on the former campus of MacMurray College.

Rumors about the buses have been so prevalent on social media that Mayor Andy Ezard asked Phil McCarty, director of Jacksonville-Morgan County Emergency Management, to speak on the subject at Monday’s City Council meeting. […]

The Journal-Courier first received reports about immigrant buses in town in early February, but determined there was no validity to them.

“There has been a lot of social media push, which is not always the appropriate place to get the news. The news is over here,” said McCarty, gesturing to the table where members of the media sit to cover council meetings. “It’s also available from the official city Facebook page.”

* From Isabel…

    * Tribune | Migrants report reusing soiled diapers on babies amid essential goods shortages in Chicago shelters: Volunteers say it is not clear who rations diapers and toilet paper if shelters experience a shortage. The city did not respond to a question about who is in charge of rationing the supplies.

    * News Nation | Sanctuary city migrants facing spring evictions live in ‘limbo’: Leonardo Pérez Suárez and his wife Wendy arrived in Chicago on New Year’s Day after a months-long journey from Cuba. But in a city where Mayor Brandon Johnson plans to evict newcomers from the city’s temporary housing centers beginning in mid-March, they’re living on borrowed time. The couple’s baby was born less than a month ago at the American Islamic College — one of Chicago’s 28 city-run shelters. With less than three weeks before the city’s eviction deadline, the Pérez-Suárez family lives with more questions than answers.

    * Bloomberg | This Is Where New Migrants Are Going When They Reach the US: The data also suggest that New York state saw the highest number of migrant arrivals in 2023 on a per capita basis: 1 per 100 residents of the state. New Jersey and Florida were next at 0.9. Texas and Colorado had 0.8, and Illinois ranked eighth at 0.6.

    * WaPo | The birth of Fox News’ ‘migrant crime’ obsession: A month ago, this idea of “migrant crime” was not part of the Fox News patter. In late January, host John Roberts introduced a story about Chicago by asserting that, while dealing with strains because of the arrival of immigrants to the city, there was also another problem: “migrant crime.” But that was an isolated mention. It wasn’t yet a focus of his employer’s coverage. It has since become one. Over the past month, Fox News hosts, guests and video clips have mentioned “migrant crime” nearly 90 times, more than half of those in the past 10 days. The reason has a little bit to do with a police official in New York City. It has a lot to do with Donald Trump.

    * NBC Denver | Over 400 migrant families now being housed by Highlands Moms and Neighbors: Since then, the group in total has spent over 36,000 volunteer hours working to help migrants. They’ve been leveraging community network and connections to help get migrants established with jobs. So far, more than 1,300 have been hired for services such as yard work, cleaning services and other odd jobs. The group has also provided more than 61,000 meals at encampments and outside of shelters.

  10 Comments      


IVF debate takes a weird political turn

Thursday, Feb 29, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Daily Herald

A Republican senator on Wednesday derailed a bill sponsored by U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth intended to protect access to in vitro fertilization care.

The Hoffman Estates Democrat, backed by colleagues, said it was crucial to pass the measure following the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision that frozen embryos should be considered children. […]

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Mississippi Republican, blocked the bill, saying it was a “poison pill” that could legalize cloning among other objections.

“I support the ability for mothers and fathers to have total access to IVF and bringing new life into the world. I also believe human life should be protected,” Hyde-Smith said.

* Sen. Hyde-Smith went on Tony Perkins’ show and the host said this

This is the first piece of legislation that explicitly waives the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, going back to the 1990s which Chuck Schumer was a supporter of back in the 90s.

But as you pointed out on the Senate floor, this legalizes something that we have been fighting for many years and that is human cloning, which is already prohibited in many states. This would wipe those prohibitions away and legalize human cloning. It allows gene editing, or the so called designer babies, it legalizes this Frankensteinian type of gene of creation of human-animal hybrids, these chimeras.

Really?

* To Sen. Duckworth’s bill

In this Act:

(1) ASSISTED REPRODUCTIVE TECHNOLOGY.

The term ‘‘assisted reproductive technology’’ has the meaning given such term in section 8 of the Fertility Clinic Success Rate and Certification Act of 1992 (42 U.S.C. 263a–7(1)).

With links added by me, this is from section 8 of the Fertility Clinic Success Rate and Certification Act of 1992

The term “assisted reproductive technology” means all treatments or procedures which include the handling of human oocytes or embryos, including in vitro fertilization, gamete intrafallopian transfer, zygote intrafallopian transfer, and such other specific technologies as the Secretary may include in this definition, after making public any proposed definition in such manner as to facilitate comment from any person (including any Federal or other public agency).

Maybe I’m wrong, but I ain’t seeing any cloning or human-animal hybrids there. I mean, the definition in Duckworth’s bill is based on a 1992 law, for crying out loud. You think Congress in 1992 was gonna legalizing cloning and human hybrids?

* Back to Sen. Duckworth’s bill

(1) INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS.—An individual has a statutory right under this Act, including without prohibition or unreasonable limitation or interference (such as due to financial cost or detriment to the individual’s health, including mental health), to—

    (A) access assisted reproductive technology;

    (B) continue or complete an ongoing assisted reproductive technology treatment or procedure pursuant to a written plan or agreement with a health care provider; and

    (C) retain all rights regarding the use or disposition of reproductive genetic materials, including gametes, subject to subsection (c).

(2) HEALTH CARE PROVIDER RIGHTS.—A health care provider has a statutory right under this Act to—

    A) perform or assist with the performance of assisted reproductive technology treatments or procedures; and

    (B) provide or assist with the provision of evidence-based information related to assisted reproductive technology.

(3) INSURANCE PROVIDER RIGHTS.—A health insurance provider has a statutory right under this Act to cover assisted reproductive technology treatments or procedures.

Not seeing any monkey clones in there, either.

* However, the opponents are right about one thing. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 would be preempted by Duckworth’s bill

(1) GENERAL APPLICATION.—This Act supersedes and applies to the law of the Federal Government and each State government, and the implementation of such law, whether statutory, common law, or otherwise, and whether adopted before or after the date of enactment of this Act, and neither the Federal Government nor any State government shall administer, implement, or enforce any law, rule, regulation, standard, or other provision having the force and effect of law that conflicts with any provision of this Act, notwithstanding any other provision of Federal law, including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (42 U.S.C. 2000bb et seq.).

* Isabel’s coverage roundup…

    * Politico. | A ‘Stunning’ Element of the Alabama IVF Ruling: Mary Ziegler, a leading historian on the abortion battle and a law professor at the University of California, Davis School of Law, says widespread adoption of fetal personhood laws would have far-reaching policy implications, including criminalizing people who receive abortions and banning certain kinds of contraception. Politically, she notes, it’s already straining the relationship between the anti-abortion movement and the Republicans who are eagerly trying to showcase their support for IVF.

    * AlterNet | Republicans kill bill to protect IVF after claiming they fully support it: Sen. Duckworth stamped out [Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith]’s claims, saying, “She said at one point the bill would allow for chimeras — human-animal hybrids — it does nothing of the sort. All the bill says if you want to seek reproductive technology you can …” Sen. Hyde-Smith then killed the bill by formally objecting to Duckworth’s bill on Wednesday, which the Illinois Democrat tried to pass via unanimous consent.

    * ABC Chicago | Republican blocks Senate Democrats’ push to pass IVF protections nationwide: Duckworth, in her own speech, had called Republicans out for “hypocrisy” as many of them defend access to IVF while simultaneously cheering the fall of Roe v. Wade’s guarantee to abortion access, which Democrats cite as a precedent paving the way for decisions like the Alabama ruling on embryos.

    * AP | Republicans block Senate bill to protect nationwide access to IVF treatments: Several clinics in the state announced they were pausing IVF services as they sort out last week’s ruling, which said that frozen embryos can be considered children under state law. The court said that three Alabama couples who lost frozen embryos during an accident at a storage facility could sue the fertility clinic and hospital for the wrongful death of a minor child.

    * NYT | Senate Republican Blocks Bill to Protect I.V.F. Treatment: Some Republicans have said they would look at the bill, but most others argued that it should be up to state legislatures — not the federal government — to protect fertility treatments. They sought to cast the Alabama ruling as an outlier and said the Legislature there would surely act soon to protect I.V.F.

    * Sun-Times | Sen. Tammy Duckworth, whose daughters were born through IVF, pushes to safeguard access to IVF nationwide: Since the Alabama ruling, Duckworth has been sharing her personal story in several high-profile TV appearances and a news conference Tuesday in the Capitol of being an older woman and wounded Iraq war vet trying to get pregnant. Duckworth will be 56 in March, and her daughters, Abigail and Maile, were born in 2014 and 2018. She was the first sitting senator to give birth while in office. “My girls are my everything,” Duckworth said in her Senate floor speech. “But they likely would’ve never even been born if I hadn’t had access to the basic reproductive rights that Americans — up until recently — had been depending on for nearly a half a century. Because after a decade struggling with infertility after serving in Iraq, I was only able to get pregnant through the miracle of IVF.

    * All Things Considered | After Alabama’s ruling, this senator’s bill aims to protect national access to IVF: [Duckworth] spoke with All Things Considered host Ari Shapiro on Tuesday morning about her own experience with fertility treatments, her attempts to build bipartisan support for her bill, and why she thinks state Republican lawmakers in Alabama looking to pass legislation to protect IVF are just “covering their butts.”

  22 Comments      


ComEd Four sentencing will be delayed

Thursday, Feb 29, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Tribune

Sentencing hearings in the “ComEd Four” bribery case involving former House Speaker Michael Madigan will be delayed until after the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in on a key federal bribery statute that has put several high-profile public corruption cases in limbo, a judge ruled Thursday.

Prosecutors had argued against the delay, saying defense attorneys were doing a premature victory lap and that there is a public interest in seeing the case through in a timely fashion.

In announcing his decision, however, U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber said it “makes sense to me to find out precisely” where the high court lands before proceeding to sentencing. He also quoted from the prosecutions’ opening statements at trial last year, which the judge said mirrored some of the exact issues in the Supreme Court filings.

Leinenweber’s ruling follows a similar decision by U.S. District Judge John Robert Blakey, who agreed to postpone Madigan’s racketeering trial from April to October in order to have the Supreme Court’s decision in hand.

* Sun-Times

In his ruling Thursday, Leinenweber quoted from the prosecutors’ opening statement in the trial of Madigan confidant Michael McClain, former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, ex-ComEd lobbyist John Hooker and onetime City Club President Jay Doherty.

The feds told jurors the four “sought to reward Madigan for past beneficial conduct to Commonwealth Edison,” Leinenweber noted. The judge said prosecutors also assured the jury they were pursuing a “gratuity theory” and that the trial wasn’t going to be a “straight-up bribery case.”

The judge said that means a Supreme Court decision in favor of Snyder “will impact” the ComEd case.

  5 Comments      


It’s just a bill

Thursday, Feb 29, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Crain’s

Legislation in the Illinois General Assembly would force companies to disclose “junk fees,” the pesky additions hiding at the end of transactions for concert tickets, hotels and other services.

The bill, sponsored by Democrats Sen. Omar Aquino and Rep. Bob Morgan, would amend Illinois’ Consumer Fraud & Deceptive Business Practices Act to prohibit “hidden and misleading fees” to ensure that prices as advertised reflect the total cost. The measure would make bad actors punishable under the existing consumer fraud law, which empowers the state attorney general to fine non-compliant companies up to $50,000 per violation. […]

So far, the Illinois bill does not specify which industries it would cover. That’s already cause for concern among trade groups across the state.

“The most common question I get is, ‘Is my industry (fill in the blank) going to be examined?’ Whether that’s pre-emption or some other issue?” Morgan said. “Those are the things that I think are at play here and certainly expect to have that play out over the next month or two. There is certainly an interplay between federal legislation and federal opposition and what we will hopefully do at the state level.”

* Illinois Public Media

Black residents in Illinois who are descendants of slaves may soon have access to free DNA testing.

Rep. Carol Ammons (D-Urbana) proposed a [House Resolution] urging support for the Family Roots Genealogy Program pilot, which aims to reconnect African Americans to their ancestral roots. The program is in partnership with the Department of Anthropology at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Carl Woese Institute for Genomic Biology.

Ammons says she noticed the need for this program when she and her husband, County Clerk Aaron Ammons, were doing their own DNA testing and found that the process costs hundreds of dollars from commercial vendors. She said it took paying more than $700 for her husband to get substantial information about his ancestry, which revealed that he had a long lost sister and nephew.

“We felt and believe that it is inappropriate for the descendants of those who were enslaved in the Americas or anywhere else in the world to have to pay a commercial vendor to find out where they come from,” she said. […]

The bill received a 7-to-4 vote in committee. Ammons said she expects the bill could be voted on in the House of Representatives in the next few weeks, and that the program could start as soon as this summer.

* Center Square

During a House Appropriations-Elementary and Secondary Education Committee hearing this week, officials administering the program asked for $10 million in taxpayer funds for bonuses. Jennifer Ross, a lobbyist for the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards, said the bonuses are an attempt to get teachers in hard-to-staff schools.

“Hard-to-staff schools are defined by a school that is at least 30% below income,” Ross said. “We’re providing retention bonuses of $4,000 a year for two years.” […]

State Rep. Brad Halbrook, R-Shelbyville, said a teacher could take two years of bonuses and then just move on.

“Now that they have two more years of experience, do they move on to a school that pays better overall,” said Halbrook. “I guess I’m just trying to figure out if this is a good value for taxpayers or not.” […]

State Sen. Christopher Belt, D-Swansea, was behind the legislation and said it is aimed at addressing the teacher shortage in underserved areas.

* SB107 from Sen. Linda Holmes is in Assignments

Amends the Illinois Police Training Act. Provides that the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Standards Board may investigate complaints concerning drone use by a law enforcement agency. Provides that if a pattern of willful and wanton violations is confirmed, the law enforcement agency shall take actions to prevent future violations through specified means. Provides that if the agency fails to take actions to address the violations and prevent future violations from occurring, then the Board may restrict the agency’s ability to use its drones for a period not to exceed 3 months per incident. Amends the Freedom from Drone Surveillance Act. Changes the name of the Act to the Drones as First Responders Act. Defines “permitted special event”. Adds various exemptions allowing the use of drones. Permits records of drone usage, including flight path data, metadata, or telemetry information of specific flights, to be disclosed subject to the Freedom of Information Act and rules adopted under that Act. Provides that the information relating to infrastructure inspections conducted at the request of a local governmental agency may be disclosed to that local governmental agency or, in the case of traffic and parking evaluations conducted at school, it may also be disclosed to the school or any engineering staff involved in the process. Provides that nothing in the Act prevents the disclosure of information through a court order or subpoena in connection with a criminal proceeding or if the disclosure is in regard to a completed traffic crash investigation. Changes drone usage reporting requirements of law enforcement agencies to the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. Makes other changes, and amends the School Code to make conforming changes. Provides that a drone may not be used over a school unless the parents are notified by a principal or administrator prior to the use of the drone.

* WSIL

Controversy is brewing in Gallatin County over a proposed State senate bill.

The Bill would give the Shawneetown Regional Port District the right to regulate public or city property within 7-thousand feet of the Ohio River. […]

“This will allow them to throw out any ordinances or resolutions that the local municipal government has passed,” Gallatin County Board member Warren Rollman said. […]

“I am aware of the issues focused around Senate Bill 3654 and the Old Shawneetown Regional Port District,” said Senator Fowler. “Because of the issues with this Bill and concerns raised, I’ve made sure that this Bill will not be called for a vote. My hope is that both the public and private sector can continue to work on some sort of agreement together as this port district will play a critical role for our local economy, workforce, and for our farmers.”

* SB3654 sponsored by Sen. Dale Fowler is on First Reading

Amends the Shawneetown Regional Port District Act. Allows the Port District to regulate the use of public-owned or municipal-owned property that is (i) within 7,000 feet of any navigable waterway within the District and (ii) within Shawnee Township, Bowlesville Township, or the Village of Old Shawneetown, but limits the regulation for the fulfillment of the Port District’s purpose of commerce and economic development. Provides that the District’s authority to regulate the use and construction of the property is superior to the authority of any unit of local government within the property, including the District’s right to vacate streets, alleys, and easements within the property; to vacate ordinances or resolutions of units of local government relating to the property; to issue permits for the use of buildings or structures on the property; and otherwise adopt any ordinances or resolutions regarding the property as necessary to fulfill the District’s purposes. Provides that the Port District may impose a charge of the throughput to a company for products being imported or exported through the Port District from navigable waters at a rate to be set by the Port District.

* Sen. Kimberly Lightford…

Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford is leading the charge to create a new state agency – the Department of Early Childhood – to streamline the administration of early childhood education care programs and services.

“The foundation of a child’s success and well-being is built starting the moment they are born,” said Lightford (D-Maywood). “As a state, it is our duty to provide the necessary support and resources to build such stability. The creation of this unique agency will break ground on our transition to a whole, trauma-informed approach to meeting children’s diverse needs.”

The Department of Early Childhood – which would be created through Senate Bill 1 – would focus on administering early childhood education programs. The new agency would be dedicated to making access to such state programs easier for parents and providers to navigate.

Combining streamlined oversight to state-funded early childhood programs within the State Board of Education, Department of Human Services and Department of Children and Family Services, the new agency would house the responsibility of the Early Childhood Block Grant – which funds the Lightford-backed Preschool for All initiative – among other items.

“Illinois has become a national leader in the fight to enhance support for our most vulnerable children,” said Lightford. “However, we also acknowledge we can’t stop our work until every child in the state has access to the best, all-around care – and the creation of this agency would be a grand step toward that goal.”

Senate Bill 1 will be heard in the Senate Executive Committee.

* Press release…

Continuing his commitment to modernize the Secretary of State’s office, Secretary Alexi Giannoulias is championing legislation to allow Illinois residents to start using digital driver’s licenses and state IDs.

Giannoulias’ backing marks the first time the Illinois Secretary of State’s office has supported such a measure, which now includes digital IDs as well as digital driver’s licenses. HB 4592 is sponsored by State Representative Kam Buckner (26th District) and State Senator Michael Hastings (19th District). If the bipartisan legislation passes, implementation could occur as early as next year. […]

If approved in the General Assembly, Illinois would join 12 other states that already offer digital forms of identification (including bordering states – Iowa and Missouri) while at least 18 other states are currently working toward the implementation. The legislation would not eliminate physical driver’s licenses, but instead digital IDs would act as a companion to a physical card. […]

New technology allows for more privacy by allowing individuals to decide what personal information they share via a contactless encrypted data exchange between their device and the reader. Digital IDs offer privacy control options that allow people to verify their age when legally purchasing alcohol, cannabis or renting a car, while hiding other personal information – like their address.

Giannoulias added that the initiative will also help reduce in-office wait times and lines at DMVs because the digital platform will allow users to make changes to their licenses and IDs remotely without having to make an in-person visit.

The proposed legislation would give the Secretary of State’s office the authority to begin the process of providing digital IDs. The office would issue an RFP and then select the vendor that is most capable of producing digital IDs in the safest way possible, ensuring that the final product meets testing requirements and the highest standards of security for Illinoisans.

  34 Comments      


Open thread

Thursday, Feb 29, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

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

  3 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Isabel’s morning briefing

Thursday, Feb 29, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* ICYMI: Is Trump still on Illinois ballot? What to know after judge rules to remove his name. Sun-Times

    - The Cook County Judge put the ruling on hold until Friday, expecting an appeal from Trump’s lawyers.
    - So for now, nothing has changed at the ballot box. If Porter’s ruling does go into effect, she ordered that “any votes cast” for Trump “be suppressed” through administrative procedures.
    - Once Trump’s lawyers appeal, what happens next will likely depend on action by the First District Appellate Court, the Illinois Supreme Court or even the U.S. Supreme Court.

*** UPDATE [By Rich Miller] *** Something being lost here is this line from the Sun-Times story

Trump delegates on the March 19 ballot have been certified and would still be free to vote for Trump at the Republican National Convention no matter how the court battle here plays out.

The real votes are the ones cast for delegates, who then cast those votes at the convention.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* Related stories…

Click here to read the ruling.

* Isabel’s top picks…

    * WBEZ | Convicted aide to former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan will see his six-figure pension suspended: The state retirement board that oversees pension benefits for current and retired state workers also is asking Democratic Attorney General Kwame Raoul to recommend whether former Madigan Chief of Staff Timothy Mapes’s pension should be permanently revoked.

    * Tribune | Migrants report reusing soiled diapers on babies amid essential goods shortages in Chicago shelters: Hygiene products, including diapers and toilet paper, are provided by the city’s emergency operations center’s logistics section, which was created to coordinate and allocate resources for migrants. The city receives supplies from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and outside vendors. Mary May, a spokesperson for the city, acknowledged that “supply shortages from IEMA and FEMA can result in temporary shortages of some supplies” for migrants, but said in the statement last Friday that officials had “received a large delivery of supplies” that included diapers to deliver to shelters.

    * Daily Southtown | Dolton trustee candidate who lost in 2023 accuses Mayor Tiffany Henyard of libel, defamation: The two mailings targeted Tammie Brown, Steave and Stubbs as well as Williams, portraying them as “failed leadership” and being poor choices for elected office. One mailing, indicating it was paid for by Residents for a Better Dolton, accused Williams of committing theft of services from the village by forging medical documents related to a paid time-off fraud under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, according to the lawsuit.

* An update on yesterday’s briefing via WMBD

Peoria Police Chief Eric Echevarria is apologizing for a controversial recruitment ad that referenced a violent video game. […]

“There was no ill intention there. Obviously it was a play on words to really target the younger generation and relate to a younger generation,” said Echevarria.

Echevarria said he takes ownership for the ad. […]

Going forward, Echevarria said they will vet recruitment ads with non-police partners to ensure the messaging is right.

* Here’s the rest of your morning briefing…

    * Sun-Times | After Alabama frozen embryo ruling, Pritzker has message for in vitro fertilization seekers: ‘Come to Illinois’: Illinois already mandates insurance coverage for infertility, but state Democrats are working to further expand fertility access and coverage. “We’re protecting your rights in so many ways, but specifically regarding IVF,” Pritzker said, reacting to the Alabama decision.

    * Sun-Times | At Democratic convention in Chicago, perks for big Biden campaign donors include coveted credentials, hotels: In June, the Chicago Host Committee perk packages for donors and sponsors — an important incentive tool needed to help the committee fulfill its promise to raise $84.697 million for the convention — included VIP access to credentials, exclusive hotels and suites in the United Center. The $5 million contributors get the most perks. For sponsors, custom packages will be available, with “other potential options signage within United Center, building out activation spaces, sponsoring hospitality spaces, etc.”

    * Chicago Reader | Best new legislation that supports freelance workers: Thanks to the new Freelance Worker Protection Act (HB1122), cosponsored by Rep. Will Guzzardi, Illinois freelancers will soon be required to receive a written contract, compensation within 30 days of completing work, and protection from discrimination and retaliation when pursuing payment. It will also allow for double damages if freelancers aren’t paid on time.

    * Daily Herald | 49th District GOP rivals debate their electability in November showdown with Hirschauer: Hannah Billingsley of West Chicago and Aris Garcia of Streamwood are business owners who say they don’t feel represented in Springfield by the Democratic party or Hirschauer. […] “I think it would be tough for … a male to beat Maura, and I’m not trying to make this a gender thing,” Billingsley said. “I was like, ‘Hey, it’s not personal, Aris, it’s you and I both want the same thing,’ we both want to flip this seat, and if I were a betting person I’d be be betting on me.”

    * NBC Chicago | Emails show Chicago mayor pushed Sox for unified messaging amid stadium funding ask: The emails obtained via Freedom of Information Act request show a spokesman for the Sox reached out to Johnson’s communications staff at 4:38 p.m. on Jan. 16, asking for a call. Six minutes later, the Sox spokesman sent over a draft of a possible White Sox statement, reading “White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and team representatives met last week with Mayor Johnson and his staff to discuss potential future ballpark opportunities within the city of Chicago. While we look forward to continuing these conversations, we cannot respond to specific reports or speculation at this time.

    * Center Square | Transportation leaders urge Pritzker to not divert road funds to Chicago transit: Kevin Artl, president and CEO of the American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois, said he doesn’t think it’s a shock to anyone that work travel has changed post pandemic. “It’s not right, at this point, to begin diverting funds from the Road Fund, designed for roads and bridges … to fund a system that I think everyone has concerns with and is going to be going through some sort of major reform over the next couple of years,” Artl said, referring to Chicago public transit.

    * Tribune | Melissa Conyears-Ervin gets backing from pastors in bid for Congress: Among those backing Conyears-Ervin were several high-profile Black clergy members who are known to help candidates they support get out the vote. They included the Rev. Byron Brazier, head of the Apostolic Church of God where Barack Obama spoke during his successful run for president in 2008, and Bishop Larry Trotter of the Sweet Holy Spirit Church.

    * WTTW | Chicago Taxpayers Pay $99K to Ex-CPD Officer Who Said Boss Ordered Her to Protect His Bridgeport Block During 2020 Unrest: Former Chicago Police Sgt. Cassandra Williams, who worked for the Chicago Police Department for 32 years, retired after the harassment and retaliation she said she endured caused her such significant stress that she became ill as she watched as her career “went down the drain” in 2021. “I crossed the blue line,” Williams said, referring to the so-called “code of silence” that keeps Chicago Police officers from complaining about misconduct by other officers, even when it puts members of the public at risk.

    * ABC Chicago | Loyola University Chicago students fueling shuttle buses with biodiesel made by used vegetable oil: They use cooking oil flows in from all sorts of places including Loyola cafeterias, other universities, museums and restaurants, Waickman said. […] “If you drop off your used cooking at Loyola, we’re then going to filter out any solids from it, run a chemical reaction to remove the glycerin molecule, clean up the resulting biodiesel with a little bit of water and then the final result is biodiesel fuel ready for a diesel engine,” Waickman explained.

    * SJ-R | Reopening of longtime Springfield restaurant appears to be delayed: Fans of Fritz’s Wagon Wheel Restaurant continue to await the promised reopening of the landmark establishment. But that goal seems a little further off with the recent expiration of the business’s liquor license. […] “We relinquished (our liquor license) until such a time as we are either ready to reopen or to do something else entirely with the location,” Bart wrote in an email. Bart said the restaurant’s chef and kitchen manager are still working to assemble a reliable staff.

    * Daily Southtown | Leap Day baby celebrates turning 100 at her 25th birthday party: Loretta, who was born Feb. 29, 1924, “used to joke that she was younger than her own children,” said her daughter, Maria Gotfryd. Her family members gathered a few Saturdays ago to celebrate Loretta’s 25 birthdays and century of life, throwing the party early to accommodate travel arrangements for 65 relatives, many from out of town. It was an advent that even garnered a note from the office of Pope Francis in Rome, imparting a “requested Apostolic Blessing” on Gotfryd.

  33 Comments      


Live coverage

Thursday, Feb 29, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* You can click here or here to follow breaking news. It’s the best we can do unless or until Twitter gets its act together.

  Comment      


Isabel’s afternoon roundup

Wednesday, Feb 28, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Notice, however, that the mailer does not identify the CTU
as Guzman’s employer



* Mayor Johnson has said he will not extended the contract again, but ShotSpotter is still fighting

* Here’s the rest…

    * Lake County News-Sun | Lake County to pay $1.68M to McHenry County for first 3 months of housing inmates; ‘Money for the correctional officers would go a long way’: At this time, no further transfers are expected as the Lake County Sheriff’s Office does not intend to raise the number of transfers allowed in the agreement, said Chris Covelli, spokesperson for the county’s sheriff’s office. said it’s inconclusive whether the temporary inmate housing costs to McHenry County will be more or less expensive than the costs associated with housing inmates at the Waukegan facility. There are “fixed and floating” costs associated with operating a jail, and those costs are largely impacted by a fluctuating inmate population, he said.

    * Shaw Local | YWCA services for families and immigrants now available in McHenry County: The Welcoming Center can help new residents get adjusted to the country by getting connected with local churches, agencies and food pantries. Case managers can help break language barriers by translating and explaining school systems, health care and court cases, Valdivia said. The program can help with Spanish, Russian and Ukrainian languages, case manager Anyi Pardo said. […] The current Crystal Lake location only has those two programs available, but other services like racial justice and literacy help could be offered in the future, YWCA Northwestern Illinois CEO Kris Machajewski said. “Our goal is to expand out this office,” Machajewski said.

    * STLPR | Illinois awarded more than $75 million to clean up and develop its abandoned mine lands: Illinois used to the initial installment last year — north of $75 million — to address mining-related issues across the state, including 6 mine-related projects in St. Clair County. One project sought to close off a mine opening in Mascoutah and another corrected vertical openings along a mine path in Trenton.

    * Illinois Public Media | Illinois now requires public schools to teach diverse histories. Are teachers ready?: “Teachers generally feel prepared to meet the calls of the inclusive American history mandates – all of them, no matter how old or new. However, there are a number of teachers that feel unprepared,” said Asif Wilson, an education professor at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.[…] Wilson noted that the program attracts teachers from all over the state with a small stipend and the opportunity to meet their professional development requirements. He added that teachers, regardless of their location, have received strong support from both administrators and parents for teaching the updated curriculum.

    * Crain’s | Ascension names president for Joliet hospital mired in labor strife: Ascension names president for Joliet hospital mired in labor strife. Barbara Martin, a veteran of Chicago’s health care scene, will be stepping into a dispute with union nurses when she takes the reins next month.

    * Daily Herald | Rolling Meadows mayor announces pregnancy: Rolling Meadows Mayor Lara Sanoica — the city’s first female mayor and its youngest — announced another milestone: she’s pregnant, which would make her the city’s first sitting mayor to give birth while in office. Sanoica, elected to the top post last April at age 32, said she has no intention to take a leave of absence from public office, but she is taking an extended maternity leave from her private employer, CME Group, this summer.

    * SJ-R | Mötley Crüe will headline the 2024 Illinois State Fair. Here’s what to know: Stalwarts Vince Neil on vocals, Nikki Sixx on bass and Tommy Lee on drums are joined by John 5 on guitar. John 5 (John William Lowery) formerly played with Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie. Former guitarist Mick Mars, who suffers from ankylosing spondylitis, an aggressive and progressive form of arthritis. is out of the band but said recently he would be open to writing new music with the band.

    * Daily Express | Four state laws prevent divorce if a woman is pregnant with no domestic violence exception: While the laws in Missouri, Texas, Arizona, and Arkansas allow for couples to file for divorce, the court must wait until after a woman gives birth in order to finalize child custody and child support. Two of these states – Missouri and Texas – are subject to trigger laws where, since the overturning of Roe v Wade in June 2022, abortions are automatically banned in the first and second trimesters of pregnancy.

    * Daily Herald | At least 11 tornadoes may have touched down in region Tuesday night, weather service says: Preliminary reports show a tornado likely touched down near Sugar Grove and ran between Batavia and Geneva. Another possibly touched down just south of St. Charles. More potential tornadoes were spotted near Hoffman Estates, Palatine, Lake Zurich and Buffalo Grove.

    * Tribune | Cleanup from storm damage begins as temperatures move into low 40s: On Wednesday morning, neighborhoods that suffered storm damage began the arduous chore of cleaning up. In north suburban Mundelein Tuesday night, high winds tore through a two-story apartment building, collapsing part of the roof and damaging 21 units. Officials from the Mundelein Fire Department said a piece of drywall struck one resident who was transported to Advocate Condell Medical Center. The Red Cross is helping find temporary housing for 59 displaced residents.

    * Block Club Chicago | Catcade Cat Rescue Has A New Home And A Surprising Fall Out Boy Connection: Born in Lakeview, Gutierrez has local music bona fides. He was in hardcore group Arma Angelus with none other than Pete Wentz, the bassist and lyricist for pop punk/emo band Fall Out Boy. When Arma Angelus dissolved, Gutierrez went to beauty school, while Wentz and others made the move to Fall Out Boy. Gutierrez still toured with the band, and he’s the subject of the 2003 song “Grenade Jumper,” written with lyrics like “Hey, Chris, you were our only friend/And I know this is belated, we love you back.” Although the two eventually had a falling out, they’ve since mended fences, and Wentz has donated memorabilia to fundraising efforts for the Catcade.

    * Sun-Times | Black History Month offers lessons, excitement for young Chicago students: The East Garfield Park public school that has around 300 students from pre-K to eighth grade is among many schools that devote extra time in February to study and share lessons about Black history. The students present what they’re learning through art, speeches and skits, and their teachers ensure what they learn has practical value.

    * WBEZ | An insider’s guide to Bronzeville: Where to eat, shop and celebrate Black history: Looking for live music every night of the week? A neighborhood that offers a quick bike ride to the lake? Or a quick walk to grab Southern comfort food from a handful of local spots? Bronzeville has you covered.

  9 Comments      


Pritzker: ‘People who live in other states who want to have children using IVF, come to Illinois’

Wednesday, Feb 28, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Gov. JB Pritzker’s chief of staff…

* The governor really leaned into it today when asked about the in vitro fertilization topic at an unrelated news conference

We always knew that when Dobbs was decided, and you read the decision by Clarence Thomas, which seemed to begin to go after other issues, beyond just reproductive rights, like gay marriage, for example, or like, you know, what now is going to be IVF that they’re outlining, that our rights are in danger. Much broader than the original decision of Dobbs. So that’s very disturbing.

IVF is protected here in the state of Illinois, and I welcome the members of the General Assembly who are looking at new ways for us to protect doctors and patients on IVF. But it is protected.

People who live in other states who want to have children using IVF, come to Illinois. We’re protecting your rights in so many ways, but specifically regarding IVF.

  19 Comments      


‘Like something from a scary, filthy freak show’

Wednesday, Feb 28, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Beth Hundsdorfer

The pictures that are said to depict the condition of the embalming room of the Moran Queen-Boggs Funeral Home in Centralia are shocking.

Eight photographs and one video taken late last year purported to show the conditions of the funeral home depict piles of dirty sheets, a dead rodent rotting in a stairway and water running from pipes in the embalming room.

The person who took the photographs requested to remain anonymous for their safety but filed a complaint to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation in December. […]

“The embalming room was spraying water from pipes overhead with bottles, trash, fluids, sheets, clothes and things unrecognizable all over the room,” the complaint stated. “This place is horrific, looks like something from a scary, filthy freak show.”

More than 10 weeks after that complaint – and three days after a Capitol News Illinois reporter visited the funeral home and sent questions to IDFPR – funeral home director Hugh Moran said the agency conducted an inspection on Monday. IDFPR would not confirm that they had inspected the embalming room, citing confidentiality. Moran said Tuesday afternoon that he was still operating. […]

This comes weeks after allegations that IDFPR failed to act for months against another Illinois funeral director in Carlinville after receiving a complaint alleging the director cared for remains in an “unacceptable and criminal nature” and had a decomposing body in his prep room.

You gotta wonder how prevalent this problem is.

Go read the rest. But the pics are pretty disgusting.

  11 Comments      


Teams are attempting to manufacture momentum via the news media (Updated)

Wednesday, Feb 28, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Chicago Tribune earlier this week

As city and state lawmakers discuss public funding for the Chicago White Sox and Bears to build new stadiums, the Chicago Red Stars are making a move to be part of the conversation.

The National Women’s Soccer League club’s current stadium in suburban Bridgeview is not ideal for the team, and it has been a pressing issue predating the new ownership group. If elected officials use taxpayer dollars for new stadiums for the White Sox or Bears, then Red Stars executives contend they also should be included in whatever funding is allocated.

Red Stars Executive Chairperson Laura Ricketts and team President Karen Leetzow recently met with Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch in Westchester and are scheduled to meet this week with Illinois Senate President Don Harmon at his district office in Oak Park.

Just to be clear, “meetings” do not equal “support.”

* Crain’s last night

The Chicago Bears and Chicago White Sox are being urged to cobble together one financial request for their stadium proposals that state legislators can consider rather than dueling plans that could box each other out.

Representatives for the teams are hearing the same message from state officials as they jockey for public subsidies to build new stadiums. State Senate President Don Harmon specifically has told both teams there is little appetite in the General Assembly to approve separate stadium legislation.

“I’m not planning to referee fights between billion-dollar sports franchises,” Harmon told Crain’s in a statement. “I hope the teams took heed of the governor’s expression of reluctance to use tax dollars to subsidize new stadiums.” […]

In the past week, White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf and Related Midwest President Curt Bailey, the developer of The 78 property where the Sox are looking to build a ballpark, met with Bears Chairman George McCaskey, team President and CEO Kevin Warren and Chief Financial Officer Karen Murphy, according to two sources familiar with the meeting.

Mischaracterizing or even just leaking details of meetings with a legislative leader may get you a sweet headline (“Bears and Sox told to team up on stadium financing pitches”), but it won’t move the Statehouse ball forward, and it may actually do the opposite. Also, read Harmon’s statement carefully.

…Adding… Harmon is out with a slightly revised statement that makes his intent more clear…

“I share the governor’s reluctance to spend taxpayer dollars to subsidize private stadiums. I’m not going to referee fights between billion-dollar sports franchises.”

The teams probably need to stop listening so much to their PR people and start listening more to their lobbyists.

If the object is to pass a bill, then this ain’t the way to do it.

* Gov. Pritzker was asked about the latest Crain’s story today

I think organizing it together seems to make some sense if they can do that. I mean, these are different businesses. They will be in different locations. I’m not exactly sure how that will work.

I know that they, what do they have in common? They’re looking for taxpayer dollars. So that’s, as far as I can tell, the thing that they have most in common. And I think you’ve heard me say over and over, and I’ll repeat it one more time, which is taxpayer dollars are precious, and we ought to treat them as if we have priorities in this state. And I’m not sure that supporting private sports teams in their desire for a new stadium is more important than, for example, building jobs here and a grant program and across the state, or, as I said the other day you know, building birthing centers, in communities that where we’ve got maternal mortality rates that are three times what they are, let’s say in white communities versus a black family, we ought to be building birthing centers. So there’s so many priorities that I think rise above investing in you know, building a stadium for private enterprise.

In other words, it’s time the teams made a case for why these would be smart investments for government instead of publicly spiking the ball every time they set up a meeting. What would taxpayers get out of their proposals? What even are their proposals? Let’s hear it.

  23 Comments      


Pritzker says ‘I’m not willing to reconsider’ grocery tax elimination proposal (Updated)

Wednesday, Feb 28, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* In the days leading up to Gov. JB Pritzker’s budget address, the Illinois Municipal League pushed a plan that would cost the state’s budget $800-875 million per year

The [Local Government Distributive Fund] share is 6.47% of individual income tax collections and 6.845% of corporate income tax collections. Before 2011, 10% of state income tax dollars were dedicated to LGDF and distributed to cities and counties. IML is supporting a bill to reinstate the 10% number.

Tons of mayors, including Chicago’s, hotly opposed the state income tax increase back in 2011.

* In seeming reply, the governor’s budget office noted in its analysis of the proposed spending plan how much the state is spending on local governments since Pritzker took office

The operations of local governments are a critical part of the state financial infrastructure. When possible, the State has provided additional funding mechanisms to help local governments, including one-time and permanent revenue supports to minimize the need for local property tax increases. Examples of on-going support, totaling over $1.3 billion annually, enacted since Governor Pritzker took office include:

    • An additional $200 million a year in sales taxes from the passage of internet sales tax language following the Wayfair decision, including the Leveling the Playing Field for Illinois Retail Act, to help ensure compliance with state tax laws on internet sales.
    • Over $680 million annually in additional motor fuel taxes directed to local governments and transit districts to support needed transportation projects through the passage of Rebuild Illinois.
    • Granting $1.5 billion in state transportation bond funds directly to local governments for road and highway project expenditures, saving local governments $110 million annually in debt service costs from not issuing local bonds.
    • Authorization of adult-use cannabis, generating an estimated $100 million in additional revenues for local governments.
    • Increased allocations through the Local Government Distributive Fund process totaling $46 million annually from business loophole closures included in PA 102-0016.
    • Increased tax rates and positions for video gaming operations expected to generate an additional $80 million a year for local governments Additional local revenues from the opening of new casinos authorized under the Rebuild Illinois plan, including the first revenues from the new Chicago casino licensed in 2023.
    • Increased percentage of individual income taxes that state government shares with municipalities and counties from 6.16 to 6.47 percent of total individual income tax collections. This increase is worth $88 million annually.

Illinois distributed to smaller local governments $250 million from its Coronavirus Relief Fund allocation and established the infrastructure necessary to distribute the $740 million Local Fiscal Recovery Fund payment received pursuant to ARPA. These key sources of funding helped small local governments maintain services during uncertain fiscal times.

* So now, instead of focusing on expanding the LGDF, the Municipal League is playing defense against the governor’s proposal to eliminate a state-collected but locally distributed and very regressive tax

A major element of the governor’s proposal of eliminating the 1% grocery tax will be entirely on the backs of local governments.

“That’s for the rest of time, hundreds of millions of dollars annually impact against local governments,” Cole told The Center Square. “That grocery tax solely goes to municipalities. There is no state money in there at all. So when the governor offered to reduce that, he eliminated local funding. So, take away three- or four-hundred million dollars, [cities] are going to have to come up with it somehow.”

* Some local government officials are unclear on the concept

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s plan to eliminate the grocery sales tax will result in an $800,000 loss in revenue to the village of Montgomery.

At Monday’s Montgomery Village Board meeting, trustee Steve Jungermann voiced opposition to the proposal: “State officials, you need to do your jobs and pass an honest, balanced budget.”

After the meeting, Jungermann was interviewed by WSPY News: “…The state, they need to pass an honest, balanced budget and not depend and fall back onto the municipalities. You’re essentially stealing money from the municipalities. We depend on that money.”

To be clear, Pritzker isn’t proposing that the state spend the $350 million or so per year from the grocery tax. He just wants to get rid of the tax altogether and allow locals to impose their own replacement if they want.

* At an unrelated press conference today, a reporter noted “there’s a lot of pushback on this bill.”

“They say ‘If you take this away and you save taxpayers $1 for every 100 they spend on groceries … they’re gonna have to raise taxes elsewhere.” So, the reporter asked Pritzker, “Are you willing to reconsider this? Because it’s going to hurt communities across the state of Illinois by taking away that source of revenue.”

Pritzker’s response

No, I’m not willing to reconsider it. Here’s what I’m saying about the grocery tax. It’s the most regressive tax you could have, really We think about all the regressive taxes that exist in the state of Illinois. This one goes after people who are just trying to buy food. And when you say it’s, ‘Oh, it’s a dollar out of every 100.’ Well, that could be hundreds of dollars for a family across a year. So you know that that matters to many people.

And the grocery tax, by the way, we’re in the vast, vast minority of states that still have a grocery tax. Almost every other state has gotten rid of their grocery tax. We still have one, that’s not right.

Now, municipalities I absolutely believe that the state should be supporting municipalities. And indeed, as long as I’ve been governor, we’ve added $1.3 billion to the coffers of local governments across the state. That didn’t happen under my predecessor. It’s because I believe in investing in local government. It’s closest to the people. They deserve to have the kind of funding that they need to support local projects and local government, but the grocery tax doesn’t seem like the best way to do it.

But I want to be clear, I have said that the bill that would be put forward should include the ability for local governments, if they want to impose a grocery tax on their local residents, they should be able to go do that. I don’t think it’s the right thing to do. I wouldn’t do it locally. Having said that, I understand the need for the dollars and if they feel like they need them, they should think about imposing that tax on their own.

I have increased LGDF, that’s the Local Government Distributive Fund, which is one of the ways in which we send money from the state to local governments. I have increased the dollars that local governments get for infrastructure. By passing rebuild Illinois sending dollars directly without any conditions other than as for us for infrastructure to local governments. So I’m you know, I’m a believer in continuing to fund them. But you know, we have a tight budgetary situation this year, so we won’t be able to do as much more as we have done in previous years, but we’ll continue to look at ways to support them. Grocery tax, it seems to me, it’s time for us to end this regressive tax.

I’m thinking the mayors absolutely do not want to have the power to impose the tax on their own, up to and including Chicago’s progressive mayor.

Thoughts?

…Adding… Good point in comments…

I do wish the governor had chosen his words more carefully when talking about the savings that families will see. I doubt many families will even see $100 of savings in a year let alone “hundreds of dollars” a year as he said. I know groceries have gotten more expensive but a family would have to spend $10,000 on groceries a year to see even a $100 savings.

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Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition

Wednesday, Feb 28, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Study: Invest in Kids scholarship students lag, but report called ‘meaningless’

Wednesday, Feb 28, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Tribune

Conducted by the nonprofit research agency WestEd, the 14-month study contrasts the Illinois Assessment of Readiness (IAR) reading and math scores of scholarship recipients in grades 3-8, with their public school peers. In 2022 and 2023, Invest in Kids recipients fared worse in both subjects. At the high school level, researchers juxtaposed students’ SAT performance, with mixed results. […]

Along with student performance on standardized tests, the WestEd study aims to assess “how private schools are organized to support students’ success,” drawing on a total of around 1,000 survey responses from students, parents and educators and interviews at 10 schools. Faith-based schools comprise the vast majority of schools that received Invest in Kids funds, according to the Dept of Revenue’s most recent annual report on the program. Researchers found that faith is “a critical organizing element in school culture, curricula, and interpersonal relationships,” according to the study. Just over 8 percent of teachers surveyed said they worked at an independent private school without a religious affiliation. […]

In 2022, 30 percent of public school students met or exceeded standards, compared to 21 percent of scholarship recipients, according to the report, which notes that in the following year, 35 percent of public school students met or exceeded reading standards, compared to 23 percent of Invest in Kids scholarship recipients.

“The same was true in Math for both 2022 and 2023,” the study continues. “Illinois public schools had a higher percentage of grades 3–8 students meeting or exceeding expectations than [Invest in Kids] scholarship recipients.”

* From the report

In both 2022 and 2023, Illinois public schools had a higher percentage of grades 3–8 students meeting or exceeding expectations in [English language arts] compared to IIKA scholarship recipients (in 2022, 30.1 percent to 20.8 percent, and in 2023, 35.4 percent to 22.5 percent respectively). The same was true in Math for both 2022 and 2023. Illinois public schools had a higher percentage of grades 3–8 students meeting or exceeding expectations than IIKA scholarship recipients (in 2022, 25.5 percent to 17.8 percent, and in 2023, 27.1 percent to 16.3 percent, respectively).

WestEd examined year-to-year gains by performance level, using 2022 as the baseline performance level and 2023 to calculate the gain or loss in scale score. Overall, the difference in the mean growth between IIKA Scholarship Recipients in private schools and students enrolled in public schools was not statistically significant, with two exceptions. Comparing students who achieved performance level 1 (“Did not yet meet expectations”) in ELA on the SY 2021/22 tests, scholarship recipients recorded a significantly larger increase in their 2022-23 scale score in ELA than the average public school student. But comparing students who achieved performance level 5 (“Exceeded expectations”) in ELA on the SY 2021/22 scholarship recipients recorded a significantly larger average decrease in their 2022-23 scale score in ELA compared to the average public school student.

* Save My Scholarship…

In a new report conducted for the Illinois State Board of Education that can be found here, analysts failed to compare low-income Tax Credit Scholarship recipients to their low-income counterparts in Illinois public schools. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) makes testing data readily available to sort by income levels, but researchers instead compared low-income scholarship recipients to all Illinois public school students, rendering the results meaningless because they lack proper context. In fact, low-income Tax Credit Scholarship recipients actually outperform their low-income counterparts enrolled in public schools in nearly every category according to ISBE’s own data.
 
Dr. Patrick Wolf, College of Education Department Head at the University of Arkansas, is offering his independent analysis of the test score data: “The evaluators made highly inappropriate comparisons between the average test score gains of the income-disadvantaged students in the program and the average gains for all public school students statewide. That comparison is apples-to-zebras and tells us nothing about the effect of the program on student achievement.”
 
“What belies this flawed study is the overwhelming satisfaction parents and students provided regarding their schools’ safety, climate, teachers, and educational opportunities. These findings demonstrate the immense value Invest in Kids gives to low-income scholarship families across the state of Illinois,” said Bobby Sylvester, executive director of Empower Illinois. “Parents and students showed above 95% agreement that their scholarship schools provide equitable access and opportunity to high-quality general academic programs. This highlights why the Illinois legislature must renew the Invest in Kids Act (IIKA) to help level the playing field for low-income students.”

Here are some highlights of the qualitative polling of IIKA scholarship parents:

    * 98% say their school environment is safe.
    * 98% say their school climate is positive.
    * 98% say their teachers care about their child(ren).
    * 98% say their children are getting a quality education.
    * 97% say students of all backgrounds have equitable access and opportunity to high- quality general academic programs.
    * 97% say their school has high expectations for student behavior.
    * 96% say students of all backgrounds have equitable access and opportunity to receive academic support (e.g., remediation, tutoring).
    * 95% say students of all backgrounds have equitable access and opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities.

 

Similarly, scholarship students offered high praise:

    * 95% feel safe at school.
    * 95% say students of all backgrounds have equal opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities.
    * 94% say their teachers care about me.
    * 94% can get help from teachers if needed.
    * 94% say students of all backgrounds have equal opportunity to receive academic extra help or tutoring.

Rabbi Shlomo Soroka, director of government affairs for Agudath Israel of Illinois, added, “While the parental survey polling data highlights the enthusiastic parent satisfaction we expected, we are disappointed with how the researchers did not compare comparable test scores. Instead, low-income scholarship recipients’ test scores were compared to all average Illinois public school students. Despite this inequity, the low-income scholarship students performed admirably, especially on their SATs in high school. We know if researchers had compared scholarship students to equally low-income public school students, those who received the benefit of a Tax Credit Scholarship would have scored much higher than their lower income-equivalent counterparts.”
 
“Regarding special education services, school officials shared their concerns with researchers about the state’s current lack of financial resources allocated to educate students in private schools with behavioral issues and those who require more specific special education services,” said Robert Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois. “Members of the General Assembly who are champions for kids should note that schools expressed an interest in adding special education opportunities, counseling, and after-school programs if funded.”
 
The Invest in Kids Act Tax Credit Scholarship Program is an investment in opportunities for kids, poverty reduction, and economic acceleration. The General Assembly’s failure to take action in 2023 to save the program will cause over 14,000 students from low-income families to lose their scholarships and now may have to leave their best-fit schools. Reinstating the program this spring is unmistakably the right thing to do.
 

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Open thread

Wednesday, Feb 28, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* What’s going on in your part of Illinois?

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Isabel’s morning briefing

Wednesday, Feb 28, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* ICYMI: CTA President Dorval Carter grilled by alderman, public over service and safety. Tribune

    - Carter spoke before aldermen as part of a new requirement that CTA officials appear for quarterly City Council committee hearings.

    - The agency said it expects to add more buses and trains in April, when it next addresses service as part of a regular union employee scheduling process.

    - Carter outlined a plan to add 200 new train operators this year.

* Related stories…

* Isabel’s top picks…

    * Crain’s | Illinois’ nursing shortage may soon get worse: The report, which surveyed 385 Illinois nurses, found 34% plan to leave the profession in the next 12 months, primarily because of unsafe staffing levels and unresolved moral distress — the feeling of being unable to help people or operate at the highest quality level because of systemic industry issues. About 87% said they are experiencing moral distress and 32% say they have cared for more than six patients at one time. Only 27% said the nurse-to-patient ratio is adequate and safe and 98% cited unsafe staffing as a reason for why they were considering leaving the profession.

    * Sun-Times | Art Institute showed ‘willful blindness’ in buying Nazi-looted art, N.Y. prosecutors say: The 160-page filing by the Manhattan district attorney’s office lays out its case contending the work of art was stolen by the Nazis from cabaret star Fritz Grunbaum and later laundered through art dealers before arriving in New York. It accuses the Art Institute of failing to engage in “reasonable inquiry” as to the origins of the piece when it purchased it in 1966 and again decades later when questions arose about its provenance.

    * Chicago Reader | Illinois EPA must revamp its permitting process after Chicago activists file civil rights complaint: While the resolution does not say that the agency violated any anti-discrimination laws, the agreement does compel the Illinois EPA to make sweeping changes to its air permitting process. It’s a rare victory for community groups that cite race-based discrimination when it comes to pollution, especially when working through the federal government.

* The Peoria Police Department’s latest hiring ad. It was deleted on Twitter and Facebook around an hour after being posted…



Governor Pritzker will be at the Fields Studios to announce film industry capital grant awards at 10 am. Click here to watch.

* Here’s the rest of your morning roundup…

    * Sun-Times | Longtime Rep. Bill Foster, challenger Qasim Rashid face off in 11th District primary, differ over Gaza war: Rashid has lambasted Foster for no-shows at several debates and forums, but Foster faced his challenger on Jan. 24 — albeit briefly, before leaving to attend another town hall meeting. That exit prompted a Rashid campaign ad featuring Foster’s empty seat.

    * SJ-R | Pritzker introduces pension reform plan that could save taxpayers billions. Will it work?: Asked his thoughts on Pritzker’s proposal, [Gov. Jim Edgar] told The State Journal-Register the new plan is not a major difference from the one led during his first term as governor. “How you get out of this pension problem takes time,” he said in a recent interview. “And you got to be disciplined and not increase benefits

    * Crain’s: State Senate President Don Harmon specifically has told both [the Chicago Bears and the White Sox] there is little appetite in the General Assembly to approve separate stadium legislation. “I’m not planning to referee fights between billion-dollar sports franchises,” Harmon told Crain’s in a statement. “I hope the teams took heed of the governor’s expression of reluctance to use tax dollars to subsidize new stadiums.”

    * WTTW | Are Publicly Funded Stadiums a Good Investment? State Lawmakers Weigh in on Chicago Teams’ Plans: But as all these plans were being pitched, Gov. J.B. Pritzker seemed to call a time out. “I think I’ve been fairly clear about the fact that the taxpayers’ dollars are precious,” Pritzker said in response to a reporter’s question at an unrelated event. “And the idea of taking taxpayer dollars and subsidizing the building of a stadium as opposed to, for example, subsidizing the building of a birthing center, just to give the example, does not seem like the stadium ought to have higher priority.”

    * WCIA | Central Illinois superintendent of school, child tax credit advocates react to proposed early childhood budget investments: In 2020, the Rochester Community Unit District #3A had 30 kids in their early childhood education program. Now, they have 250. Dan Cox, the superintendent of schools for the district, credits Smart Start Illinois with helping the program grow. “It continues to support the research and evidence that giving children access to early education, early childhood education, only gives them the foundation for both success academically and socially,” Cox said.

    * Windy City Times | Advocates call for increased HIV funding amid state’s ‘disappointing’ pattern of flat funding: “It’s a mixed bag because we are absolutely on board with the investments in early childhood development and the elimination of medical debt for many Illinoisans,” said Timothy Jackson, senior director of policy and advocacy at AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC). “But it’s disappointing to see no new funding on the state level; it really stands in the way of us progressing.”Pritzker’s budget offers no increase to the state’s HIV Lump Sum, which is the largest source of funding for HIV testing, education, treatment and prevention. This marks the third fiscal year in a row that the HIV Lump Sum hasn’t seen an increase in funding, Jackson said.

    * KFVS | DCFS to hold hiring fair as it continues push to bring on more staff: During his State of the State and budget address on Feb. 21, Gov. JB Pritzker announced plans for the agency to eventually have 4,000 employees, which would be the largest number in two decades. “These are people who dedicate their lives to others in service,” said Jassen Strokosch, DCFS chief of staff.

    * Chalkbeat Chicago | Who’s the boss? Chicago principals report to many different people: Those unknowns — as the principals union takes root and the city moves to an elected school board — may disrupt an already complicated hierarchy. As it stands now, a Chicago principal’s direct supervisor is the head of their network — the geographic area their school is organized under — and they are also accountable to their Local School Council, or LSC, a unique-to-Chicago elected body at most schools made up of parents, teachers, students, and community members, that can hire principals. Both have different hiring and firing powers.

    * Crain’s | Before his last broadcast, Tom Skilling looks back on four decades as ‘Chicago’s Very Own’: “I was told early on that ‘you’re too technical, you’re too scientific.’ I do go into greater depth in describing the weather than a lot of folks do. I’m so fascinated by the way nature puts these things together. I just thought other people might find it interesting, too.” That attention to detail is why Skilling is the personification of Chicago’s weather, as one viewer described him during a nightly special celebrating the famed forecaster. Skilling carries with him a level of passion that makes him captivating to viewers. Having been doing weather reports since age 14, it’s a lifelong love of completely unknown origin.

    * SJ-R | Springfield’s only Black-owned dentist hopes to be an inspiration to the community: Crawford is approaching the one-year anniversary of when he purchased and began operating his own medical practice, Crawford Family Dental at 1900 E. Sangamon Ave., providing dental care to the North side of Springfield. “When I was a young kid they’d ask, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’,” Crawford said. “And I never said dentist, but I never had a dentist who looked like me. I always like to be in public and speak to people as much as possible just so I may inspire someone.”

    * ABC Chicago | Watch: Tornado spotted near Sublette, Illinois amid severe weather outbreak: The tornado is part of a system affecting much of northern Illinois on Tuesday, with turbulent conditions following record-high temperatures in the Chicago area on Monday and Tuesday afternoon. The storm system precedes a rapid cooldown which will see wind chill values drop to below 0 degrees in much of the region.

    * Block Club | From 76 To 27 Degrees, Chicago To Experience 3 Seasons In 24 Hours: Tuesday could break the record for being the warmest Feb. 27 in Chicago’s recorded history, with a high of 76 degrees expected, according to the National Weather Service. It’ll be mostly sunny, with wind gusts up to 20 mph. Rain will move in overnight, and there’s a chance for thunderstorms 6 p.m.-midnight, according to the weather service. There’s a chance for tornadoes, damaging wind and hail stones up to 2 inches.

    * Axios | WBEZ to scale back local programming: Chicago’s NPR station WBEZ is cutting down its locally produced, daily on-air talk programming to one hour. WBEZ, one of the largest public radio stations in the country, has scaled back its on-air local daily news shows from four hours roughly a decade ago.

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Wednesday, Feb 28, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Wednesday, Feb 28, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

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