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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.


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.”


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.”


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.


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.


* To Sen. Duckworth’s bill

In this Act:


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.”


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.


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.


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.


Open thread

Thursday, Feb 29, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

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


*** 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.


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.


* Reader comments closed for Juneteenth
* Cash bail did not necessarily make us any safer (Updated)
* Isabel’s afternoon roundup (Updated)
* GOP poll has Sorensen up by 9 points, but below 50 percent
* Showcasing The Retailers Who Make Illinois Work
* It’s just a bill
* Revenue omnibus includes some little-noticed charitable provisions
* Pritzker teams up with IBM, Discover Financial to push for federal quantum funds
* They’ll come back to it
* Open thread
* Isabel’s morning briefing
* Live coverage
* Selected press releases (Live updates)
* Yesterday's stories

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