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Isabel’s afternoon roundup

Tuesday, Apr 2, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Tribune

Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough has been hospitalized with an undisclosed illness, her government spokesperson said Tuesday.

Yarbrough, 73, has a “serious medical condition and is currently undergoing medical treatment,” her deputy clerk of communications, Sally Daly, said. “Her family is requesting privacy, and we ask for prayers for the Clerk and her family at this difficult time.”

Daly did not say when Yarbrough was hospitalized or whether the clerk had been working during the recent primary election. In addition to managing suburban elections, the clerk’s office is in charge of certain property tax and business records, legislation at the Cook County Board and vital records such as marriage and birth certificates.

* Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson…

Today, Mayor Brandon Johnson appointed Dr. Cristina Pacione-Zayas as Chief of Staff to the Mayor. Pacione-Zayas, a distinguished leader born and raised in Chicago, with an extensive background in public service, policy development, and advocacy, steps into her new role today after serving as the First Deputy Chief of Staff. She will serve as the City’s first Latina chief of staff.

“Cristina’s unparalleled dedication to our city, her depth of knowledge on critical issues affecting our neighborhoods like housing, community safety and education, and her proven track record of leadership make her the ideal person to serve as my next chief of staff,” said Mayor Brandon Johnson. “I am confident that together, we will continue to make strides toward a better, stronger, safer Chicago.”

Dr. Pacione-Zayas brings to the position a wealth of experience gained from her service in the Illinois State Senate, where she served on several key committees including Early Childhood, Education, Education Appropriations, Health, Higher Education, Human Rights, and Revenue. Her contributions as secretary to the Illinois State Board of Education, the Illinois Early Learning Council, the Legislative Audit Commission, the BUILD Initiative, the Illinois Crime Reduction Task Force, State Designated Cultural Districts Advisory Committee, and the Title V Needs Assessment Advisory Committee have been instrumental in shaping policies to support a spectrum of public programs and services across the state.

“I am deeply honored to serve as Chief of Staff for Mayor Brandon Johnson and the City of Chicago,” said Dr. Cristina Pacione-Zayas. “This role presents a unique opportunity to advance our collective vision for a city determined to deliver equity and opportunity for all, and I am committed to leveraging every resource and partnership to make this vision a reality.”

* Senate Republicans…

In the wake of a decision by Governor JB Pritzker’s Prisoner Review Board to release a dangerous felon with a history of domestic violence accused of murdering an 11-year-old boy less than 24 hours after his release, the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus is introducing fundamental reforms that would put victims first, remove politics from the appointment process, and hold members accountable for their decisions.

Crosetti Brand is accused of stabbing a former girlfriend, Laterria Smith, and killing her son Jayden as the boy attempted to defend his pregnant mother from Brand’s brutal attack. The murder occurred just a day after Brand was released by the PRB. In February, while on parole, Brand sent Smith messages threatening to kill her, and tried to break into her home. This violation of his parole landed him back in the State’s custody while the PRB could reconsider his parole. Despite the threats, the boy’s mother seeking an order of protection, and Brand’s history of domestic abuse that included orders of protection from four different women, the Pritzker-appointed PRB voted to release him.

“This never should have happened,” said Illinois Senate Republican Leader John Curran (R-Downers Grove). “Many areas of our criminal justice system failed Ms. Smith and her heroic son, but at the end of the day, it was Governor Pritzker’s Prisoner Review Board that released this violent criminal despite overwhelming evidence that he was a danger to his victims and to the general public.”

At a news conference Tuesday, Curran unveiled legislation that would implement a number of reforms to improve how the Prisoner Review Board operates. Curran’s legislation would:

Put Victims First

    - Requires the Prisoner Review Board to immediately inform a victim of the early release of a prisoner from State custody or of the prisoner’s pardon, commutation, furlough, granting of sentence credit, or following a final revocation hearing when an individual has violated the conditions of their mandatory supervised release if the victim has previously requested notification of that information. If they have not, the board is to make every possible effort, which must be documented, to contact the victim.
    - Requires members of the board to complete yearly mandatory training on domestic violence and sexual assault so they may better understand these crimes impact the women and children who often become victims.

Put Experience Ahead of Politics

    - Requires that appointees to the Prisoner Review Board must have at least 20 years of cumulative experience in the criminal justice system.
    - Experience in the criminal justice system is defined as time spent as either a prosecutor, criminal defense attorney, judge, probation officer, or public defender.

Increase Transparency and Hold PRB Accountable

    - Requires the PRB to make written notice public within 24 hours of a decision to release in cases following a final revocation hearing when an individual has violated the conditions of their mandatory supervised release.
    - Provides that notification must include votes from the members of the board and any relevant notes about information presented in the case, as well as notes about the board’s deliberations on the case.

The Senate Republican legislative package is two-fold, focusing both on reforms to the PRB and on more severe consequences for repeat domestic abusers like Crosetti Brand, who had previous convictions for home invasion causing injury and violating an order of protection.

State Senator Steve McClure (R-Springfield), who sits on the Executive Appointments Committee, will also be introducing legislation that will:

Protect Victims of Domestic Violence

    - Increases the penalties for violating an order of protection.
    - Provides that for a first-time violation, the penalty increases from a misdemeanor to a class 4 felony; and from a previous conviction, it increases from a class 4 to a class 3 felony. […]

Senate Republicans view this legislation as a first step in the larger process of reforming how the Prisoner Review Board operates. The Senators noted that in this particular case, Pritzker’s Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) was also complicit. IDOC was notified of Lateria Smith’s attempt to get another order of protection following Brand’s attempted home invasion three weeks before but failed to make the information available to the PRB.

* Thoughts?

* Here’s the rest…

    * WBEZ | How Eileen O’Neill Burke won the razor-thin primary for Cook County state’s attorney: Harris captured nearly 400 precincts by 50 percentage points or more, compared to about 300 such precincts for O’Neill Burke. Harris was strongest in precincts on the South and West sides of Chicago and throughout the south suburbs and near west suburbs. But O’Neill Burke captured nearly 460 more precincts than Harris overall. Her strongest showings came in precincts on the Northwest and Southwest sides of the city and near downtown. O’Neill Burke also scored big in the near northwest and near southwest suburbs. She carried more than twice as many precincts as Harris — 991 to 430 — in suburban Cook County.

    * WBEZ | Every prison library in Illinois is getting a copy of a book about the Attica prison riot: When Pulitzer Prize-winning author Heather Ann Thompson sent a copy of her 2016 book “Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising and Its Legacy” to three people locked up in Illinois prisons, two of the three copies were rejected because of security concerns. So she sued.

    * Crain’s | After nearly a decade, Walgreens kickback lawsuit by whistleblowers can go forward: A federal judge has given the green light for a whistleblower lawsuit contending that Walgreens violated U.S. and Illinois false claims statutes by steering Medicare and Medicaid patients to its own pharmacy by waiving co-pays. In a case that’s been kicked around for about a decade after several amendments and U.S. and Illinois governments trying to hop aboard, Judge John F. Kness of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ruled on March 29 that the complaint brought by two former Walgreens pharmacy technicians could continue. However, Kness dismissed an accompanying complaint by the state of Illinois.

    * Daily Herald | Public hearing on proposed commercial solar facility near Hawthorn Woods canceled as village annexes property: Details of how that came to be were not immediately available but if upheld, the solar facility would come under village jurisdiction rather than the county ZBA, which deals with matters in unincorporated areas.

    * Sun-Times | Clark Street closure for outdoor dining ‘pending mayoral review,’ Ald. Reilly says: “It was amazing, what it did to the area,” The Smith General Manager Eric Scofield said. “[Clark Street] didn’t close until mid-July last year, and as soon as that happened, the foot traffic and environment in the area just became so much more vibrant … it was just a really kind of fun atmosphere in an otherwise bustling city.”

    * Crain’s | These Chicagoans traded their Ventra cards for car keys: Penn is part of a growing cluster of frustrated CTA riders who are swapping their Ventra cards for car keys as the transit agency struggles to get back to pre-pandemic service levels. At CTA President Dorval Carter’s City Council appearance in February, transit advocates pointed to friends who had abandoned the CTA and become first-time car owners since COVID hit. In interviews with lapsed riders, Crain’s found that reliability stood out as the main reason for leaving the system, though other issues, including safety and cleanliness, played major roles for their exits.

    * Crain’s | Bally’s shareholder blasts chairman’s ‘woeful’ takeover bid: In a sharply worded letter slamming “moon shot bets” and accusing Chairman Soo Kim of trying to take over the company “at a fraction of its fair value,” two investors are calling on Bally’s board to reject Kim’s “woefully undervalued” bid and reboot its overall strategy — including rethinking its Chicago plans.

    * Fox 2 Now | Western Illinois University waives application fee for the month of April: The universities Assistant Vice President for Student Success and Enrollment is hoping this will bring more applications to the college. “We hope to see an uptick. And as I mentioned, just taking one financial burden off of the plate, so students can at least apply and see if, entering WIU and pursuing their degree is something that they are interested in,” said Justin Schuch.

    * Block Club | Chicago Is The Deadliest City For Migrating Birds. Here’s How Advocates Want To Fix It: Advocates want the bird safety building requirements to be mandatory in an update to Chicago’s Sustainable Development Policy, which is set to be released this month, Prince said. […] The current sustainable development policy, last updated in 2016, doesn’t require developers to implement bird-safety measures. Instead, it uses a point system to reward developers who commit to protecting birds.

    * NYT | Tesla’s Sales Drop, a Sign That Its Grip on the E.V. Market Is Slipping: Tesla said it delivered 387,000 cars worldwide in the first quarter, down 8.5 percent from 423,000 vehicles in the same period last year. This was the first time Tesla’s quarterly sales have fallen on a year over year basis since a modest drop at the start of the pandemic in 2020. The sales figures were also significantly lower than the estimates of Wall Street analysts who had expected a modest increase.

    * Illinois Times | Photographing history: Lee Milner reflects on his life and career : After Milner came back to Springfield from Washington, a legislator friend of his asked then-state Rep. Bill Redmond, a DuPage County Democrat who had recently been elected speaker of the Illinois House and was building out his staff, to consider hiring Milner. Milner became Redmond’s assistant press secretary and worked for Redmond from 1975 to 1979.

    * Block Club | Chicago Partial Solar Eclipse 2024: Here’s What You Need To Know: Chicago will only be privy to a partial eclipse. But it’s still a rare event — one that won’t return for another 20 years after its conclusion.

    * SJ-R | Eclipsing expectations: Why experts say this celestial event might make you gasp: Reif, who is planning a return trip to DuQuoin, said the event can’t be oversold. “It is absolutely humbling,” Reif said. “I’m a geologist. We study big things, and we think we understand it all and then you have this moment where you can see the movement of the heavens, literally.”


  1. - One Time - Tuesday, Apr 2, 24 @ 2:39 pm:

    Thoughts and prayers for CPZ

  2. - Socially DIstant watcher - Tuesday, Apr 2, 24 @ 2:39 pm:

    Ok, all of the other board appointments that require twenty years experience?

  3. - JoanP - Tuesday, Apr 2, 24 @ 2:40 pm:

    And the CSO has a new music director:

  4. - DuPage Saint - Tuesday, Apr 2, 24 @ 2:48 pm:

    Lincoln to Marry Miller proof that Darwin was wrong

  5. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Tuesday, Apr 2, 24 @ 2:58 pm:

    Soo Kim seems shady to me. The stock buybacks just inflate how much of the company he owns.

  6. - Gravitas - Tuesday, Apr 2, 24 @ 3:00 pm:

    Sadly, the Chicago Transit Authority has been unable to address the homeless population that in some cases is literally living in the subway tunnels and aboard the trains. The decision to jettison conductors also seems bad in retrospect. Train operators cannot manage entire trains alone.

    One of the unintended consequences of a rail car purchase, which reconfigured the seats, is the fact that people can actually stretch out and sleep on Red Line.

  7. - NIU Grad - Tuesday, Apr 2, 24 @ 4:01 pm:

    Going to need a stiff drink thinking about how our state capital went from Lincoln to Miller (no relation)…

  8. - TheInvisibleMan - Tuesday, Apr 2, 24 @ 5:19 pm:

    “Chicago will only be privy to a partial eclipse. But it’s still a rare event — one that won’t return for another 20 years after its conclusion.”

    Reporting on eclipses has been terrible almost everywhere.

    The next partial solar eclipse in Chicago is January 11, 2029. Less than 5 years from now. Not 20.

    In my lifetime, partial solar eclipses have happened in the same spot about every 8 years. There was a really cool one at sunset a few years ago. Most people just don’t pay attention.

  9. - @misterjayem - Tuesday, Apr 2, 24 @ 5:55 pm:

    Congratulations to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Heather Ann Thompson and the Uptown People’s Law Center.

    – MrJM

  10. - Chito - Tuesday, Apr 2, 24 @ 6:15 pm:

    Wishing Clerk Yarborough the best!

  11. - West Side the Best Side - Tuesday, Apr 2, 24 @ 6:26 pm:

    If Mr. Lincoln was still alive he’d be spinning in his grave.

  12. - Cook countian - Tuesday, Apr 2, 24 @ 8:08 pm:

    Prayers for CPZ. Such a nice lady.

    Also, congratulations to Dr. Pacione-Zayas, I think this is the continuation of positivity for the mayor’s administration. Mr. Guidice was too much old guard and I think that contributed to the missteps as the agent of change movement is taking hold. He did not understand the new political reality of the city and Dr. Pacione-Zayas absolutely does. A great pivot by Mayor Johnson to hand her the administrative reins.

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