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Isabel’s afternoon roundup

Friday, Apr 5, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Good to know…


The Illinois Department of Transportation announced today the completion of a new bridge on Interstate 55 over Lemont Road, a project made possible by Gov. JB Pritzker’s historic, bipartisan Rebuild Illinois capital program. The $17 million bridge project will improve safety and traffic flow as part of a combined $254 million investment to deliver multiple projects along a key section of a critical travel and freight corridor. […]

The rebuilt bridge at Lemont Road also includes reconstructed ramps with I-55 that will improve traffic operations and efficiencies as well as new lighting and storm sewers. Miscellaneous punch list items and landscaping will start this spring with minimal traffic impacts.

Other I-55 projects in the area made possible by Rebuild Illinois include:

Ongoing projects:

    - I-55 over Illinois 53 and Joliet Road
    The $18 million project consists of replacing the existing I-55 bridges over Illinois 53 and Joliet Road with new wider structures, new deck overlays and approaches, resurfacing and new lighting. - Work over Illinois 53 is anticipated to be completed later this spring, with Joliet Road later this fall.
    - I-55 at Illinois 59 and at U.S. 52 (Jefferson Street)
    - The $80 million project consists of converting the existing interchange at I-55 and Illinois 59 into a full-access, diverging-diamond design to improve safety and traffic flow, with the East - Frontage Road relocated and reconstructed. Construction is anticipated to be completed in late fall. A previous effort completed $9 million in advance work.

Completed projects:

    - I-55 at Weber Road, a $75.7 million project that ended in 2022, converted the interchange into a diverging diamond design, with a third lane added in each direction to Weber Road.
    - I-55 from I-80 to Weber Road, a $48 million patching and resurfacing of both directions of the interstate wrapped up last year.
    - U.S. 52 over I-55, a $5 million project repaired the bridge joints, with a new deck overlay installed. The I-55 ramps to U.S. - 52 were widened to accommodate an additional lane on each ramp. The bridge is scheduled to be painted later this spring with minimal traffic impacts.

* CBS Chicago

Members of the Dolton Village Board plan to hire former Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a onetime federal prosecutor, to investigate Dolton Mayor Tiffany Henyard, who has been accused of misusing public funds while the village is millions of dollars in debt.

Sources confirmed the board was working on a resolution proposing to hire Lightfoot to investigate allegations regarding Henyard’s spending, including lavish personal spending, reportedly on the taxpayers’ dime.

Lightfoot also would be tasked with investigating a village employee’s claims that she was sexually assaulted by a Dolton village trustee on a trip to Las Vegas – and then retaliated against. The employee claimed after she told the mayor about the lawsuit, she was eventually fired.

Sources said the board is still finalizing language on the resolution to hire Lightfoot, and will vote on the measure at a special meeting on Monday.

Fox Chicago

If approved by the Board, [Lightfoot’s] law firm will charge $400 per hour for her services.

* This will be an innovative string ensemble specializing in contemporary classical crossover…

* Here’s the rest…

    * Sun-Times | Heartbreak? Historic Heartland Alliance to spin off its divisions into separate entities: Heartland Human Care Services, Heartland Alliance Health, Heartland Alliance International, and the National Immigrant Justice Center will become independent nonprofits, Ed Stellon, Heartland Alliance’s chief external affairs officer, said in a statement. Stellon said the restructuring was necessary “to protect the long-term viability” of Heartland’s services.

    * LGBTQ Nation | Rep. Kelly Cassidy helped make Illinois a haven for LGBTQ+ rights & says the impact is beyond words: You chair the Restorative Justice Committee in the General Assembly, where you did a lot of work on your cannabis bill. What’s the most egregious miscarriage of justice you’ve seen in your work, and how was it resolved? “I’m a mother of many, many children. I love them all equally, so it’s difficult to choose just one. In the criminal justice arena, there are so many things that are still not quite right. But last year, I was finally able to pass a comprehensive bill that allows incarcerated survivors of gender-based violence, whose abuse was not contemplated in their original trial, to be offered an opportunity to seek resentencing.”

    * Tribune | Justice Department can reopen realtors case, court rules: The Justice Department can reopen an antitrust probe into the National Association of Realtors, an appeals court ruled Friday, rejecting a bid by the real estate trade group to enforce a 2020 settlement with the Trump administration to close the case. “The fact that DOJ ‘closed its investigation’ does not guarantee that the investigation would stay closed forever,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit wrote in a 2-1 decision. “The words ‘close’ and ‘reopen’ are unambiguously compatible.”

    * Crain’s | Johnson unveils plan to cut red tape for real estate developers: The report, dubbed “Cut the Tape,” is the result of an executive order Johnson signed in December giving city departments involved in the approval process 90 days to provide recommendations to streamline the bureaucratic hurdles developers face when seeking zoning changes, building permits and financial assistance from the city.

    * Daily Herald | Keep your eyes on the road: More than 200 law enforcement agencies throughout Illinois this month are stepping up enforcement of the state’s texting while driving law, which spells out clearly what you may and may not do behind the wheel. […] In 2021, 193 people died in distracted driving crashes in Illinois, according to the Illinois State Police. Every one of them was completely avoidable.

    * NPR Illinois | Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton spotlights women in Illinois with two new initiatives: Juliana Stratton is the 48th lieutenant governor of Illinois. In December 2023, the office of the Lt. Governor launched a new initiative called We Thrive, which focuses on women and financial freedom. In February 2024, Governor Pritzker announced a new initiative that focuses on maternal health care called the Birth Equity Initiative. Lt. Governor Stratton spoke to Community Voices about how Chicago shaped her life, the challenges women have faced, and how the whole state will benefit from the two new initiatives. The Lt. Governor also talks about traveling throughout the state hosting “We Chats” to hear from a variety of different women.

    * Chalkbeat | Chicago Public Schools shares student-to-teacher ratios used in new budgeting formula: Elementary schools will get one teacher for every 26 students next year and high schools will get one teacher for every 21 students, according to details about the new budget formula replacing student-based budgeting shared by Chicago Public Schools officials. Those ratios will decline for higher-needs schools — potentially providing them with additional teachers — and all schools will be staffed with at least 10 classroom teachers for the 2024-25 school year, officials told Local School Council members Thursday night.

    * Sun-Times | Union wave is picking up at Chicago, suburban libraries, cultural institutions: In addition to the Newberry’s staff, library workers in the suburbs also have unionized. Since 2020, library employees in the Niles-Maine district, Elk Grove, Oak Lawn, St. Charles and Waukegan have organized. In contrast, none had joined AFSCME in 2019. AFSCME Council 31, which represents workers in Illinois, added more than 2,200 members from the state’s cultural institutions since 2021, according to spokesperson Anders Lindall.

    * Sun-Times | Arab American community in Chicago says data from new racial category could help address disparities: Atassi, who identifies as Syrian American, considered choosing Asian, but the definitions on forms usually guided her to check white. Although she was born in the United States, Atassi often traveled to her parents’ native Syria. The ties to the country were an important part of her identity that weren’t captured in the questions about her race. “It’s really just recently that I’ve been able to see the fabric of how the system works and how there’s power in the system in excluding people, but there’s also power in the system when you want to advocate for what your needs are,” said Atassi, the co-executive director of the Syrian Community Network, based in Chicago.

    * Sun-Times | Bears in a hurry to build domed lakefront stadium, but Friends of the Parks says, `Not so fast’: Bears president Kevin Warren sounds like a man in a hurry when it comes to building a domed stadium adjacent to Soldier Field. But the advocacy group that has long served as the lakefront’s primary protector is saying, “Not so fast.” Gin Kilgore, acting executive director of Friends of the Parks, is not about to go along with what she called Warren’s “Buy now, this deal won’t last!” sales pitch.

    * Crain’s | Baxter among 200 companies warned by FTC over deals: The FTC sent identical letters to Baxter over its $10.5 billion acquisition of medical device maker Hill-Rom Holdings Inc., to Thermo Fisher related to its $17.4 billion deal for clinical research services company PPD Inc. and to Clarivate Plc for its deal to purchase the data provider ProQuest. All of those deals closed soon after receiving the FTC warning letters.

    * WBEZ | Your guide to EXPO Chicago, from must-see artists to after-hours parties: Art from around the globe, along with the who’s who of the art world, will descend on Chicago next week in the first EXPO Chicago since the prominent Midwest art fair was purchased by the mega-global brand Frieze. The event next weekend at Navy Pier’s Festival Hall will bring to town nearly 200 galleries, thousands of artists and seemingly infinite opportunities to see art.

    * Sun-Times | Caitlin Clark vs. Paige Bueckers is a rematch years in the making: “It takes the entire team to win a basketball game,” Clark said. “Both of us are going to do everything we can. “I think the coolest thing about Paige is how resilient she is.” […] “I think the biggest thing about her is she competes and she’s just a winner; she wants to win at all costs,” Bueckers said. “So I know going into that, it will be a great matchup.”

    * Sun-Times | White Sox trounced by Royals, fall to 1-5: Three walks, an error by shortstop Braden Shewmake on a routine ground ball, a throw from right fielder Dominic Fletcher to the wrong base that allowed a run to score and a home run by MJ Melendez against Leone were the lowlights. “Physical mistakes are OK, but we made some fundamental mistakes we’re not accustomed to making,” manager Pedro Grifol said.

    * Sun-Times | What’s that lean, green, pedal-powered machine on Chicago streets? And who’s inside it?: It’s a velomobile, and the man behind the wheel is Greek Orthodox monk Father Ephraim, who moved to the Northwest Side after five years at a religious commune in remote Alaska. And who wouldn’t want to navigate Chicago streets in a vehicle not much taller than a fire hydrant?

    * WaPo | I’m a planetary physicist. An eclipse is wondrous — don’t underestimate it:Thousands of years ago, early scientists used eclipses to refine their calendars by pinning down the regular characteristics of the Earth’s and the moon’s orbits. As the moon passed in front of the sun, an ancient astronomer could also figure out the diameters of both bodies. Today’s astronomers take advantage of the moments of totality to study the sun’s fainter atmosphere, observing important phenomena such as solar flares, which spew hazardous high-energy particles at Earth.


  1. - NIU Grad - Friday, Apr 5, 24 @ 2:27 pm:

    “plan to hire former Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot”

    That’ll calm things down…

  2. - Homer Simpson's Brain - Friday, Apr 5, 24 @ 2:41 pm:

    Hurray for the workers that work at non-profit cultural institutions. They’ve finally realized that they are no different than workers that work at for-profit employers. God speed to their unionization drives.

  3. - Demoralized - Friday, Apr 5, 24 @ 2:58 pm:

    That must have been an interesting time sitting in the Empire State Building (or any tall building in NYC) during that earthquake since a quake that size is not at all something you would expect to happen there.

  4. - Rudy’s teeth - Friday, Apr 5, 24 @ 3:24 pm:

    For sure, Darren Bailey will not be invited to play violin with the CFM Local 10-208 at the State of Illinois Library Atrium.

  5. - very old soil - Friday, Apr 5, 24 @ 3:50 pm:

    $400 per hour seems pretty low for a one-time federal prosecutor.

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