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Isabel’s morning briefing

Monday, Feb 5, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* ICYMI: Mayor Johnson tells state lawmakers he wants 10 school board members elected this year — not all 21. Sun-Times

    - Some of the most critical details of the city’s first-ever school board elections remain up in the air just nine months from Election Day.
    - Johnson, who previously hadn’t publicly shared his view on the debate, said this week he would like to stick with the original legislation.
    - The original legislation was a compromise, establishing a hybrid board before transitioning to a fully elected one. Most pushing for an elected board — including the CTU — had wanted all 21 seats elected simultaneously.

* Isabel’s top picks…

    * KXAN | Records: Abbott’s migrant busing has cost Texas $124 million: According to documents Nexstar obtained, Texas has paid $124,603,616.19 to bus more than 100,000 migrants from the state’s border communities to Washington D.C., New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver and Los Angeles as of Jan. 10. That equals out to 2,245 buses year to date, an average of 45 migrants per bus.

    * WTTW | Shootings, Homicides in Chicago Both Down at Least 25% to Start 2024, According to Police: “We are trending in the right direction,” Police Superintendent Larry Snelling said when discussing the city’s crime trends during an appearance Wednesday before the Economic Club of Chicago. “But we also understand that there are people who are still being affected, and we’re going to continue to work for those people.”

    * WGN | Police chief, pantry owner latest to say they’re victims of Dolton dysfunction: This isn’t the first time the Henyard administration has been accused, even sued, over allegations of political targeting by people inside and outside of local government. This week, former Dolton police chief Robert Collins filed a lawsuit against the village claiming the mayor wrongfully fired him in October. “Henyard discharged [Chief] Collins simply because his wife is friendly with some individuals who Henyard believes to be political opponents,” the lawsuit claims.

* Here’s the rest of your morning roundup…

    * SJ-R | Unemployment claims in Illinois declined last week: Initial filings for unemployment benefits in Illinois dropped last week compared with the week prior, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday. New jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, fell to 9,945 in the week ending Jan. 27, down from 12,261 the week before, the Labor Department said.

    * SJ-R | Trial of former state senator scheduled to begin Monday in federal court: U.S. Central District Judge Colleen Lawless will preside over the bench trial for William “Sam” McCann on federal wire fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion charges. McCann was indicted in February 2021 on charges that he misused over $200,000 in campaign funds over five years from May 2015 to June 2020. Prosecutors say the funds were used to pay for a wide range of personal items, such as a Ford Exposition, a Ford F-250, a motor home with a recreational trailer, and a family vacation in Colorado.

    * SJ-R | ‘Meet voters where they are’, UIS grad running for GOP primary nod: Vying for the Republican nominee in Illinois Congressional District 13, Thomas Clatterbuck is facing off against Virden native and Army veteran Joshua Loyd in the Republican primary. The winner in the March 19 primary will then take on Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Nikki Budzinski in November. Both GOP candidates have served the country in varying ways and share many of the same policy initiatives, said Clatterbuck, a law student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Yet, Clatterbuck wants voters to fill the circle next to his name come March 19 for one reason: experience.

    * Sun-Times | Illinois incumbents in Congress have fundraising advantage over rivals heading into March primary: The main challenger to Rep. Danny Davis is City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin. Davis has more cash on hand, but Conyears-Ervin raised more than Davis last year. Kina Collins, an executive in a nonprofit, is making her third try to oust Davis. There are several others in the race, none with substantial fundraising numbers. Collins so far has not gotten the robust fundraising help from progressive groups that boosted her in 2022. The district is drawn, under civil rights laws, to increase the power of Black voters.

    * Center for Illinois Politics | Trump lost voters in independent-voting suburbs, could that translate into a boon for Haley?: Collin Corbett, a Republican strategist and pollster based in the Northwest suburbs, said in Illinois right now, “enthusiasm is so low that Trump is winning by default. If Haley could excite Republicans and even bring some traditional (conservatives) back in, she could create some needed momentum. She’s going to have to do well in these next couple states and get people excited in order to be relevant here.”

    * Sun-Times | Left-wingers will not be ignored: Trying to be thorough, I sought out Kristi Keorkunian-Rivers, another protest organizer. Does the justification matter if they end up supplying images for Fox News to terrify their sheep into defeating Biden? ”I would say that if the Democrats lose then they didn’t meet expectations, not that our disobedience is the problem,” said Keorkunian-Rivers. “Democrats will never shift to more appropriate policies until we make them. Left to their own devices, they just slide more and more to the right.”

    * Tribune | Financial crisis at Heartland Alliance leads to furloughs, program cuts and an attempt to sell hundreds of affordable housing units: Heartland’s health division, struggling to cover escalating health costs and expenses associated with a surge of migrants in its shelters, indefinitely furloughed more than 150 employees between September and November and cut back programming. It’s now considering spinning off into an independent organization, according to a written statement from Mary Kay Gilbert, interim executive director of Heartland Alliance Health, and Chief External Affairs Officer Ed Stellon. Health care centers in Englewood, Uptown and the Near West Side remain open.

    * Daily Herald | A time of change: Suburban office market adjusts as tenants downsize and shift to higher-end buildings: Despite bright spots including the Federal Aviation Administration’s relocation and Culligan’s expansion in Rosemont, the market for suburban office space continued to soften during the last months of 2023, new data shows. The FAA will move to 108,000 square feet in the O’Hare Gateway Office Center in Rosemont, while Culligan is adding 66,000 square feet at Riverway West, according to Chicago-based Savills’ fourth quarter market report.

    * Sun-Times | Ex-Chicago gang leader’s third chance gets him an invitation to the White House: Rodney “Hot Rod” Phillips is a former Black Disciples member featured in “The Interrupters,” a documentary about felons hired to intervene in conflicts. But he wound up back in prison. “When I came home, I rededicated myself back to the work,” he says. “The flame was lit.”

    * Daily Herald | Controversial West Chicago trash site halted by state board: The decision by the Illinois Pollution Control Board delays but doesn’t kill the project, which was opposed by some Latino residents who called the plan racist. Opponents said that their community would be a landing place for garbage hauled from white communities, including Naperville and Wheaton.

    * Tribune | Belt Junction is a notorious bottleneck. Fixing it could increase rail capacity, but benefits to South Side residents could be mixed: It’s Chicago’s most notorious rail bottleneck because, more than a hundred years ago, somebody decided five sets of tracks should merge into two and cross each other’s path. It’s such a torment that Fields and other freight railroaders, plus Metra, Amtrak and government officials from across Chicago, have been working for more than 20 years to rip up Belt Junction and start over.

    * Sun-Times | Ventra app back up and running for Metra, but the real test comes during Monday commute: The new fee structure is meant to simplify pricing and attract new riders. Among the changes, Metra replaced the 10-ride ticket with a day pass five-pack available only on the Ventra app. Prices are now based on zones traveled. A monthly pass costs $75 from Zone 2 to Zone 1; $110 from Zone 3 to Zone 1; and $135 from Zone 4 to Zone 1.

    * Beacon-News | Kane County plans for carbon neutrality by 2050: In the short-term, the draft Climate Action Implementation Plan has the goal of reducing emissions to 25% below the county’s emissions in 2019. Kane County’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 were already falling, down nearly 5% from 2010 despite the county growing in population by around 3% and the economy growing by over 18%.

    * AP | 1 icon, 6 shoes, $8 million: An auction of Michael Jordan’s championship sneakers sets a record: The pair he wore in the second game of the 1998 NBA Finals was sold through Sotheby’s last April for $2.2 million, a record for a pair of sneakers. The highest auction price for any Jordan memorabilia was $10.1 million for his jersey from the first game at that series, according to Sotheby’s, which sold it 2022.

    * Jim O’Donnell | Is DraftKings weighing a plan to shake up sports media in Chicago?: Draftkings stock was selling for about $15 per share less than a year ago. It closed Friday at $41.59. Some informed speculators project that it will hit $100 in 2025. […] News that Theo Epstein is back as a senior adviser and minority partner with the Fenway Sports Group is another gut shot to the pursuit of championships in Chicago. The future Hall of Famer would have been a godsend as a controlling principal in a fresh White Sox ownership group. (Dream on.)

    * WCIA | Sen. Bennett honored at Gibson City Fire Department: The award thanked Senator Bennett for his role in getting the new tax credit law aimed at supporting volunteer firefighters. It passed on the state level this past spring. As of Thursday, volunteer firefighters from across the state can now qualify for up to $500 of credit on income taxes.

    * Mother Jones | “The Algorithm” Does Not Exist: In 2009, when Facebook changed its newsfeed significantly for the first time, there wasn’t much uproar over “the algorithm.” Now we’re all talking about it—whatever “it” is. The algorithm and its ramifications have been the focus of congressional hearings and scholarly debates. In an article on the collapse of Twitter, writer Willy Staley noted “vague concerns about ‘the algorithm,’ the exotic mathematical force accused of steering hypnotized users into right-wing extremism, or imprisoning people in a cocoon of smug liberalism, or somehow both.” But “the algorithm” does not exist.

    * ARS Technica | Google will no longer back up the Internet: Cached webpages are dead: A lot of Google Bot details are shrouded in secrecy to hide from SEO spammers, but you could learn a lot by investigating what cached pages look like. In 2020, Google switched to mobile-by-default, so for instance, if you visit that cached Ars link from earlier, you get the mobile site. If you run a website and want to learn more about what a site looks like to a Google Bot, you can still do that, though only for your own site, from the Search Console. The death of cached sites will mean the Internet Archive has a larger burden of archiving and tracking changes on the world’s webpages.

    * Triibe | A look into the Black women’s suffrage movement in Chicago: We can’t talk about abolition today without talking about the Black women integral to the movement. In Chicago, Ida B. Wells was essential to building political power for Black women. As an investigative journalist, teacher, anti-lynching crusader and mother of six, Wells was already influential to the national political arena before making an impression on Chicago politics.


  1. - Larry Bowa Jr. - Monday, Feb 5, 24 @ 8:52 am:

    “If Haley could excite Republicans”

    Her name would be Donald Trump?
    “With a completely different base of voters who don’t actually exist in meaningful numbers, this candidate could certainly win!”

  2. - Anon324 - Monday, Feb 5, 24 @ 9:23 am:

    ==Ventra app back up and running for Metra, but the real test comes during Monday commute==

    Per Metra’s social media accounts, the Ventra app was down again today.

  3. - Friendly Bob Adams - Monday, Feb 5, 24 @ 10:33 am:

    Which has been the bigger mess: the new Ventra app requirements or the Secretary of State online reservation system?

    I’d say Sec. of State since that affects so many more people. But either way, they are good examples of how not to use technology.

  4. - Frida's boss - Monday, Feb 5, 24 @ 2:03 pm:

    Well, it seems Brandon finally tells Harmon what “he” wanted for the elected school board. sn/Yeah it was him.
    Did Brandon have a meeting with Harmon to negotiate? Did he sit down with him and go through the “why’s” it was so important to have only half of the members elected?

    So does Brandon have a chair on the 5th floor?
    Is it CTU/Gates, DSA/Sigcho-Lopez, and UWF/Kennedy all sitting there as they explain to their “mayor” what’s going to happen, how he needs to talk to the press (who treats him so badly) and what he should do/say at city council?

  5. - thechampaignlife - Monday, Feb 5, 24 @ 2:23 pm:

    ===Texas has paid $124,603,616.19 to bus more than 100,000 migrants===

    $1,246 per person for a one-way bus ticket? That is a one heck of a cash cow for the bus companies. A Greyhound ticket from TX to NYC is under $200. That leaves a lot of room for meal vouchers, a chaperone, and driving empty back to TX.

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