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Isabel’s afternoon roundup

Thursday, Feb 15, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Early voting is underway. Click here for the Sun-Times voter guide.

* Subscribers know more. From the 20th Senate District race

* U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Illinois…

A former investigator for the Illinois Department of Agriculture has been sentenced to a year in federal prison for groping several women while on duty and then lying under oath about it during an official proceeding.

JOSE GUILLEN inappropriately touched and groped female operators of animal care facilities that he inspected for the State of Illinois. In his official capacity as a state investigator, Guillen had the power to influence whether an animal care facility received a license to operate and whether it could continue in operation after receiving the license.

When one of the victims filed a civil lawsuit against Guillen, he repeatedly lied under oath during a deposition in the case. In the deposition, Guillen stated that he touched the victim’s buttocks by accident. In a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to resolve the federal criminal case, Guillen admitted that he “intentionally touched [the victim’s] buttocks for purposes of his own sexual gratification.” Guillen also admitted in the plea agreement that he lied in his deposition when he denied having inappropriately touched four other animal care facility operators.

* Metropolitan Planning Council Board Chair Paul Carlisle…

I’m writing to share an important message regarding an impending leadership change at Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC). On March 29, 2024, Darlene Hightower will be stepping down from her role as President and CEO of MPC to pursue other professional opportunities. Darlene has been instrumental in leading MPC through a successful strategic planning process, refocusing our priorities, and ensuring our organization’s financial stability. We are grateful for her impactful leadership during her two-plus years with us.

As we move forward, the MPC board search committee is actively seeking both an interim and a long-term replacement for Darlene. During this transition, our experienced senior leadership team, management, and dedicated staff will ensure that our essential work continues seamlessly.

* Press release…

The Illinois Department of Transportation announced today that more than 500 paratransit vehicles valued at $57.1 million have been awarded to 113 transit providers through its Consolidated Vehicle Procurement Program, helping to offer safe, reliable and accessible transportation options in communities large and small throughout the state. The vehicles will be delivered to public transportation providers as well as nonprofit organizations serving seniors and individuals with disabilities, continuing to strengthen IDOT’s effort under Gov. JB Pritzker to grow and support Illinois transit.

“Transit is an essential service that allows our urban, suburban and rural communities to survive and thrive, providing transportation to people who might not have any other option,” said Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “More than ever, IDOT under Gov. Pritzker is getting communities the resources they need. These vehicles are going to benefit people immediately and far into the future.”

* Here’s the rest…

    * Center Square | Labor dispute continues between Teamsters and Illinois Dept. of Transportation: In addition, IDOT is facing an unfair labor practice charge. Teamsters Local 916 is accusing IDOT of monitoring and surveilling workers. The move comes just days after Teamsters across the state voted to authorize a strike.

    * Block Club | 911 Calls On South, West Sides Ignored While ‘Rapid Response’ Cops Make Traffic Stops Instead: In the first half of 2023, only a tenth of the activity reported by rapid response officers was dedicated to 911 calls — a steep drop from 2020, when 911 responses accounted for nearly half of their activity, according to data from the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications. Instead of servicing 911 calls, rapid response officers spent the majority of their time conducting traffic stops, the dispatch data shows.

    * SJ-R | McCann’s mother-in-law testifies on second day of former state senator’s federal trial: Magdalene “Maggie” Ramey, mother of McCann’s wife, Vicki, said during witness testimony that she set up the account at Litchfield Bank and Trust in September 2016 alongside her daughter as a way to prevent overdrafts and provide her with money when she was away for her job as a nurse. Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois, led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Bass, showed Ramey a series of checks from McCann’s campaign account to the shared account, including several that paid Ramey thousands of dollars in fees for “consulting”.

    * Elgin Courier-News | Elgin News Digest: League of Women Voters holding two candidate forums; Coldest Night of the Year walk being held in Elgin: The Feb. 22 forum will feature candidates running in contested primaries for 83rd District Illinois House seat and the 11th District U.S. House seat. It will be held at 7 p.m. at Batavia City Hall. Invitations to participate have been extended to Democrats Matt Hanson and Arad Boxenbaum, who are competing in District 83; incumbent U.S. Rep. Bill Foster and his 11th District Democratic challenger Qasim Rashid; and 11th District Republican candidates Jerry Evans, O Kent Mercado and Susan Hathaway-Altman.

    * Beacon-News | First-time candidates compete in GOP primary for Illinois House District 49 seat: The race in the Republican primary for representative from Illinois House District 49 is between two first-time candidates, Aris Garcia and Hannah Billingsley. […] The winner in the GOP contest will square off against incumbent state Rep. Maura Hirschauer, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary.

    * WTTW | Public Guardian Raises Concerns About DCFS Care for Kids Awaiting Placement: ‘It’s Devastating’: Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert shared concerns in a letter to the court. He wrote children averaging 12 years of age are being held in locations such as psychiatric hospitals “beyond medical necessity.” The average stay in 2023 was 94 days — a 20% increase from the prior year, according to DCFS.

    * Sun-Times | ShotSpotter could be cut off as early as this week as Chicago and firm remain at odds over contract extension: City officials have proposed a shorter deal that would allow the police department to continue using the technology until Sept. 22, giving cops access to ShotSpotter throughout the historically violent summer months and the Democratic National Convention.

    * Bloomberg | O’Hare to get $40 million from feds: The money for O’Hare “funds improvements to Terminal 3 to include increasing the central passenger corridor width, a reconfigured TSA checkpoint, new hold room . . . and updates to the baggage system,” according to a press release. The new funding comes on top of $50 million awarded last year for what’s expected to be $200 million worth of work at Terminal 3. The terminal is home to American Airlines, O’Hare’s second-largest carrier, behind United.

    * NBC Chicago | ComEd is making a huge change to billing — and some customers may need to take action: Part of the change includes assigning all ComEd residential and business customers “new unique account numbers,” which the utility says will follow customers through new addresses and service changes.

    * Crain’s | Ford CEO says automaker will rethink where it builds vehicles in wake of UAW strike: UAW President Shawn Fain has indicated that the union will take a more confrontational tone with the automakers in the future, saying “the days of the UAW and Ford being a team” to compete against nonunion rivals were over. Farley said Ford understands that employing more UAW workers and building more vehicles in the U.S. than its competitors has a cost. The new contract could prompt some reevaluation as the business evolves, he said.

    * WBEZ | Millions of gallons of fossil fuel could move through a new pipeline under the Great Lakes: Tribal leaders from the Midwest are taking a stand against a crude oil and natural gas liquids pipeline that carries millions of gallons of fossil fuels via the lakebed of the Mackinac Strait that separates Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

    * Sun-Times | CDC might drop 5-day COVID-19 isolation guideline — prompting mixed feelings in Chicago expert: Dr. Emily Landon, an infectious disease doctor and the executive medical director of infection prevention and control for the University of Chicago, said she has mixed feelings about the potential change. She said it makes sense for the CDC to recommend people isolate based on their symptoms rather than for a specific amount of time.

    * WTTW | South Shore Voters to Weigh Need for Protection From Gentrification Sparked by Obama Presidential Center: Voters in two precincts of the 7th Ward will find an advisory referendum on their March 19 primary ballot asking whether Ald. Greg Mitchell (7th Ward) and Mayor Brandon Johnson should “support a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) ordinance to prevent the displacement of renters, condo & home owners in South Shore in light of the impact of the Obama Center and growing development in the area.”

    * Tribune | Columbia College president resigns following cut classes, historic adjunct faculty strike: In an email, the Columbia College’s senior director of external communications Jacqueline Partridge, said an effort is underway to reposition the college as a more sought-after destination for students and families.

    * Illinois Times | Targeting diversity efforts: A scholarship for medical students on Southern Illinois University School of Medicine’s Springfield campus is the target of an Ivy League law professor’s ire because he says it discriminates against white and straight people. […] But Yolanda Lawson, president of the National Medical Association, ascribes more sinister motives to Jacobson and others challenging diversity initiatives. “It’s racism and it’s anger. It’s unfortunate that they feel threatened,” she said. “Obviously, there is an undertone of them feeling threatened about their position in society. And it’s quite unfortunate, and it saddens me greatly.”

    * Eater Chicago | Etta’s Five Bankruptcies Have Left a Collective Mess: Aya Pastry is just one of the dominoes to fall in Pisor’s restaurant empire, an empire that at one point consisted of five restaurants in three states. In the past month, Pisor closed the River North location of Etta and filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy papers for Etta Collective and Etta River North. On the same day, Thursday, February 1, his attorney made two more bankruptcy filings — one for Etta Bucktown and another for Aya Pastry. The Aya filing revealed Pisor owed $500,000 to Fukai (she received $200,000 upon closing, it went mostly to attorneys fees, she says). A fifth filing had been made on January 18 involving Etta in Scottsdale, Arizona.

    * Post-Tribune | Indiana House committee OKs psilocybin bill: Committee members lauded the bill on Tuesday as a sign of hope for Indiana residents suffering from treatment-resistant mental and neurological conditions, though some voiced concerns over what advocates fear could prove to be an expensive form of treatment.

    * Crain’s | Evanston one step closer to approving housing ‘microhome’ project: The council agreed on the measure in a 5-2 vote on Feb 12. The approval would allow for a “microhome” development proposed by Wisconsin-based BluePaint Development, which is seeking to build on a third of an acre on Grant Street. The approval will allow 12 new units, described as “missing middle” housing, which are nontraditional affordable units that aim to open the housing market to help potential homebuyers who may otherwise be priced out.

    * Tribune | A dozen senior couples, ranging in age from 80 to 90, renew wedding vows at Elmhurst retirement community: “When you work with our residents and get to hear their stories, it’s endearing to see just how close they are as couples, particularly as the aging process continues,” said Peter Crane, the community’s executive director. The couples sat at the front of the room as Elmhurst Mayor Scott Levin presided over the ceremony. Each man had a rose pinned to his suit, while the women held pink bouquets. One senior had a lace veil pinned in her hair.

    * SJ-R | Popular, upscale Springfield restaurant temporarily closes: “Due to unforeseen circumstances beyond our control … we are sad to announce that Loukinens’ on 4th will temporarily close until further notice,” the Feb. 13 posts on Loukinens’ on 4th’s website and Facebook page read. “We sincerely apologize to our patrons who have reservations and events booked with us. We look forward to serving you again very soon.

    * WCIA | Monticello company aims to build 2nd largest 3D-printed building: “So our goal has been to make it so inexpensive that nobody would ever consider building their own home ever again. If we can apply advanced manufacturing systems like you see in many consumer goods — if we can apply that to construction — our goal is that you see more creative, beautiful, architecturally designed geometry in buildings, faster and cheaper.”

    * Block Club | Inside Art Collector Patric McCoy’s South Side Home, Bursting With More Than 1,300 Pieces: McCoy, an art collector, photographer and retired environmental chemist, has been acquiring artwork — mostly by Chicagoans, many of whom are Black artists — for more than five decades. He’s also co-founder of Diasporal Rhythms, a 20-year-old nonprofit dedicated to collecting, promoting and preserving art from the African Diaspora.

    * WBEZ | Black History Month, which has Chicago roots, has faced resistance from the start: The origins begin at the historic Wabash YMCA in the Bronzeville neighborhood, where a renowned historian Carter G. Woodson came up with an idea that would eventually become the Black History Month we know today. But in the 1920s and ‘30s, he faced resistance from white people who felt threatened by the celebration and some Black leaders who were under pressure. Woodson’s defense of the commemoration holds nearly 100 years later.

    * AP | Conservative group tells judge it has no evidence to back its claims of Georgia ballot stuffing: Texas-based True the Vote filed complaints with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in 2021, including one in which it said it had obtained “a detailed account of coordinated efforts to collect and deposit ballots in drop boxes across metro Atlanta” during the November 2020 election and a January 2021 runoff.


  1. - Give Us Barabbas - Thursday, Feb 15, 24 @ 4:31 pm:

    Shot spotter is no more effective than a ouiji board. It’s throwing good money away that could be put towards more patrol assignments in the problem areas. Actual eyes and ears versus hardware.

  2. - Amalia - Thursday, Feb 15, 24 @ 5:37 pm:

    Metropolitan Planning Council, the head leaves after a short tenure. although anyone is a short tenure compared to the previous head, wonder what is up there.

  3. - Juvenal - Thursday, Feb 15, 24 @ 10:37 pm:

    There is more to that Jose Guillen story, Rich and Isabel.

    He quit the Department of Agriculture when the scandal broke, then showed up on the IDES payroll.

    Someone was helping this guy.

  4. - KSDinCU - Friday, Feb 16, 24 @ 11:58 am:

    The Block Club article about Patric McCoy made my morning. He seems to be a joyful and open-hearted person. Thank you for sharing.

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