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Isabel’s afternoon roundup

Friday, May 3, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Center Square

Candidates eying ballot access say they feel cheated after Illinois Democrats in less than two days approved and enacted legislation to end the slating of candidates for the November election if they didn’t run in the March primary. They’re eyeing a potential lawsuit.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed Senate Bill 2412 Friday morning, less than two days after it was approved by the House and concurred by the Senate. […]

The Illinois State Board of Elections told The Center Square on Friday they have already accepted some slating filings and despite the new law will continue to accept them under the original deadline of June 3. After that, there is the objection process. There could also be litigation from those objecting to the law, or from candidates on the ballot looking to use the law to block opponents seeking to be slated.

* Route Fifty

The child welfare agency in Illinois has been in crisis since the 1990s, regularly sparking outrage when abused kids in its care die or children in state custody languish in hospitals or jails for months instead of finding a home with families. The Department of Children and Family Services has suffered from frequent leadership changes and chronic underfunding, but one big problem that officials say has contributed to the agency’s troubles has been a persistent staffing shortage.

To recruit more workers and ultimately achieve better outcomes for children across the state, DCFS has cut the hiring time for frontline workers from nine months to just a few weeks, according to agency officials. Sometimes, the department can even offer candidates a conditional job offer after a single day of interviews.

DCFS has focused on replenishing its ranks as part of a broader strategy to address the long-standing issues with the agency. Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat in his second term, has made new hires a central part of his plan for turning the agency around.

“DCFS is more focused than ever on how to best protect Illinois children,” he told lawmakers during a February budget address. “Of the more than 94,525 investigations conducted last year by DCFS, 99.7% were initiated within 24 hours. And within seven days, 96% of children have been seen by an investigator. With an additional $14 million in funding in [the next fiscal year], DCFS will reach a headcount of 4,000 staff for the first time in more than two decades.”

That would be a significant turnaround for an agency that had just 2,500 employees a decade ago. But getting the headcount to 4,000 by next year would still mean gaining a net of about 500 workers.

* Jason Meisner

* Sun-Times

Chicago Police Department leaders said Thursday they have decided not to punish any officers whose names appeared on the leaked membership list of the Oath Keepers, an anti-government extremist group that played a key role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.

“The investigation is closed and the allegations were not sustained,” a spokeswoman for the CPD said in a statement, declining to provide any documents from the internal probe.

The brief statement stood in stark contrast to Chicago Police Supt. Larry Snelling’s zero-tolerance vow to the City Council in October, after WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times revealed the misconduct records of cops with ties to the Oath Keepers.

In a joint investigation, “Extremism in the Ranks,” WBEZ, the Sun-Times and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project found 27 current and former Chicago police officers whose names appeared in leaked Oath Keepers membership records. Nine remained on active duty, some with troubling disciplinary histories, according to public records.

* Chalkbeat

The students are the inaugural class of a new, eight-month fellowship launched by National Louis University to prepare people for Chicago’s first elected school board, said Bridget Lee, the fellowship’s executive director. The fellowship is funded by Crown Family Philanthropies, The Joyce Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, and Vivo Foundation (Crown, Joyce, and Vivo also support Chalkbeat. Learn more about our funding here.)

Known as the Academy for Local Leadership, or ALL Chicago, the fellowship is happening at a critical time. Chicago voters will begin electing people to the city’s school board this November, and candidates are building campaigns. But Lee said the program is for advocates as well as potential candidates.

Fellows had to apply to join the program, which began in March and will last through November and are hosted across the city, said Lee, who added that they are still figuring out the timing for the second cohort of fellows. Fellows are given a $400 stipend to help cover transportation costs — an amount Lee hopes will increase in the future, she said.

*** Statehouse ***

* Capitol Connection | Stadelman discusses proposal to alleviate medical debt burdens: Governor J.B. Pritzker (D-Illinois) is pushing one proposal. It would have the state work with third party organizations to buy up people’s medical debt, and save the long term impacts of the payments. Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) has a different approach. He is pushing a bill in the Senate that would prevent medical debts from impacting a person’s credit score.

* Daily Journal | Illinois gun lawsuits headed to U.S. Supreme Court?: After Illinois banned more than 170 semi-automatic firearms and magazines over certain capacities in January 2023, federal lawsuits were filed. Appeals of separate preliminary actions against the law were shot down by the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals last year. Plaintiffs in February asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene. On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court moved several Illinois cases, and one challenging Maryland’s ban, to conference for May 16, 2024.

* Capitol News Illinois | Former state trooper who caused fatal crash halts effort to get driving privileges restored: Tom Daley, a retired Belleville criminal defense attorney who for 25 years specialized in handling DUIs and drivers’ license reinstatements, said he’s never seen an instance where a client had to submit to a mental evaluation for reinstatement purposes. But a Giannoulias spokesperson said that in cases where a crash caused by the driver has resulted in a death, it is common to require the petitioner to provide a mental evaluation and prove that they can safely operate a vehicle. Former Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White had previously blocked Mitchell’s attempts to have his license reinstated, overturning recommendations by his own hearing officer.

* WCIA | State representative visits UIUC pro-Palestine encampment: Encampment organizers announced in their Telegram group that State Representative Abdelnasser Rashid will be visiting the encampment for a press conference at 1:30 p.m. to extend his support.

*** Statewide ***

* University of Illinois System | April University of Illinois System Flash Index increases for the third month in a row: The University of Illinois System Flash Index for April continued its upward trend moving to 103 from its 102.8 reading in March. “The strength of the U. S. and Illinois economies has surprised many observers. Over a year ago, a minor recession was expected but the hope was for a soft landing instead,” said Fred Giertz, Professor Emeritus, Institute of Government and Public Affairs, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. “More recently, the desired soft landing seems to have been achieved. Now a third possibility is in play, that of no slowdown at all. The strength of the economy and recent inflation numbers has persuaded the Federal Reserve to defer expected rate cuts.”

*** Springfield ***

* Illinois Times | Lincoln and American Immigration: Expert to discuss latest book about Springfield’s favorite son Preeminent Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer will speak May 7 about his new book, Brought Forth on this Continent: Abraham Lincoln and American Immigration, during an event at the Lincoln Home National Historic Site.

* News Channel 20 | Gov. Pritzker in talks with Springfield officials about revamping Y-Block: The Governor said he’s been in talks with Springfield Mayor Misty Buscher about placing something at the Y Block. […] Pritzker says he would like to see the potential site to be open all year long and open to the public.

* SJ-R | Pritzker hints at Y-Block development during forum in Springfield: Of other local note, Pritzker maintains that state lawmakers will approve his proposal eliminating the grocery tax in the budget for the upcoming fiscal year. … “I know some of you will say ‘Well, gosh, one penny on a dollar doesn’t seem like a lot,’ but then again, people come and say, ‘Well, you know, every tax is, you know, is burdensome,’” Pritzker said. “I really believe in having a less regressive tax system. This is one tax I think we can eliminate.”

* Illinois Times | An odd business partnership: An Illinois State Police officer who jointly owned a Wabash Avenue building with a Springfield man charged with using the site for sex trafficking and prostitution didn’t know anything illegal might be going on there, according to his attorney. “He denies any wrongdoing,” Springfield lawyer Scott Sabin said on behalf of state trooper Nathan Shanks. “He owns a legal and clean and appropriate real-estate business on his own with his wife.” Shanks hasn’t been charged with any crimes in a local and federal investigation into Asian massage parlors in the Springfield area. But Shanks’ name has come up in court documents in the case against Springfield resident Gregory Fraase.

*** Chicago ***

* In These Times | The Fight to Bring Chicago Home Isn’t Over: Polls and outreach by community organizations showed that the plan enjoyed significant support in the year leading up to the referendum. But the real estate industry wasn’t having it. Powerful real estate and property owner organizations declared that Bring Chicago Home would chill development and kill jobs. A dark money Political Action Committee (PAC) called Chicago Forward (formed in 2014 to support Emanuel’s re-election as mayor) contributed $800,000 to a separate committee called ​“Keep Chicago Affordable,” which opposed Bring Chicago Home, according to an In These Times analysis of Illinois State Board of Elections records between October 2023 and the March 2024 election.

* Block Club | Chicago’s Shrinking Pride Parade: Police Want To Shorten Route After City Already Cut Entries: The route proposed by the Chicago Police Department would remove 48 officer posts. Members of the mayor’s Advisory Council on LGBTQ+ Issues say they want the parade restored to its previous form.

* Sun-Times | Relative’s bank card crucial to tracking down suspect charged with killing Chicago Police Officer Luis Huesca: A relative’s bank card was crucial to tracking down the man suspected of killing Chicago Police Office Luis Huesca as he returned home from work late last month in Gage Park, officials disclosed Friday. The suspect, Xavier Tate, 22, had used the card in a store not long before Huesca was gunned down shortly before 3 a.m. April 21 in the 3100 block of West 56th Street, Police Supt. Larry Snelling said at a news conference before Tate was to make his first court appearance on first-degree murder charges.

* WTTW | 5 Years After Shooting Put Him in a Coma, Chicago Police Officer Reflects on the Road to Recovery: ‘I’ve Learned to Forgive’: “Just keep going no matter what,” Jones told WTTW News. “Be your self-motivator, your self-inspiration, your own muse. … You can’t be stuck in the past. Life continues to move forward, so should you.” For a time after the shooting, Jones depended on a wheelchair to get around. Now he moves strategically, using techniques from a therapist.

* WBEZ | How the FAFSA debacle is playing out in one college counselor’s office: College counselors like Robinson are helping their students navigate the difficult situation — and trying to promote financial prudence without dimming the teens’ enthusiasm for college. In normal years, colleges send out financial aid award letters by February or March, giving students plenty of time to consider the affordability of their options before College Decision Day on May 1. But this year, colleges are woefully behind. According to a recent survey, as of April 16 about half of colleges had not even started packaging financial aid offers.

* Crain’s | This legal startup packs an increasingly powerful political punch: In the last few months, Croke Fairchild brought on David Reifman, the former Chicago planning and development commissioner, to build out a real estate practice and then hired Jim Durkin, who retired last year as the Illinois House Republican leader, to do the same with municipal clients. The firm tapped the third branch of government in luring former Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride, who starts June 1, to develop an appellate court practice.

*** Cook County and Suburbs ***

* Crain’s | Lakefront homeowners sue Winnetka over new bluff-protection rules: The owners of 25 lakefront homes in Winnetka, claiming a new bluff-protection ordinance will rob them of millions of dollars in property value, sued the village in federal court today. The plaintiffs, who own some of the highest-priced properties on the North Shore suburb’s lakefront, include investment executives Andy Bluhm, Terry Mackay and Michael Hara, former United Airlines president and Computer Discount Warehouse CEO John Edwardson and mortgage company chief Dmitry Godin.

* Daily Herald | Wild Ones Kane County to host Native Plant Sale at Gray Willows Farm: Wild Ones of Greater Kane County is partnering with Campton Township Parks and Open Space for the 12th annual native plant sale on Saturday, May 18, from 9 a.m to 2 p.m. at Gray Willows Farm, 5N949 Corron Road in Campton Hills. They will be offering over 150 species of native plants, as well as ferns, trees and shrubs.

*** National ***

* Crain’s | Inside Edelman’s large language model and how it tracks brand trust: Dubbed “Archie,” the LLM took nearly one year to develop, requiring the use of open source code and training data provided by pre-existing models, as well as significant investments in time and labor. The overall costs have contributed to Edelman more than doubling its spend this year as compared to last year, which itself substantially outweighed the company’s spending for the year prior.

* The Root | You Won’t Believe What Tiffany Haddish Has Done to Stop Internet Trolls: Though she denied having a fake Instagram account to snoop on what people are saying, she recently revealed to taking things a step further bringing in extra help to find these trolls and talk to them directly. Per the interview, Haddish shared that she hired a “digital forensics analyst to research where her death threats were coming from — 75% were created by robots in Malaysia and Iran, which made her feel better.”

* Crain’s | Rivian taps Volvo exec as COO ahead of new-model launch: The move shakes up leadership at a delicate time for the automaker, which has battled production challenges, stock declines and shaky consumer demand in the increasingly crowded EV market. The Irvine, Calif.-based company, backed by big-name investors including, is the next biggest standalone, pure-play maker of battery-electric vehicles in the U.S. behind Tesla Inc.


  1. - Cool Papa Bell - Friday, May 3, 24 @ 2:20 pm:

    I want the Y Block to have a building on it. Downtown needs density and people.

  2. - Homebody - Friday, May 3, 24 @ 2:25 pm:

    I’m not sure why anyone would trust anything CPD says about anything these days, and certainly not when it comes to every “we investigated ourselves and found nothing wrong” story.

  3. - ModerateGOP - Friday, May 3, 24 @ 3:13 pm:

    While it’s great that DCFS is able to use tools such as offering conditional employment to workers to speed up the hiring process, private child welfare agencies do not have that ability. They’re facing even greater hiring challenges than DCFS and must wait a considerable amount of time before they can make an offer to a potential employee. Many times those job candidates find other work while waiting for their background check/fingerprints to clear. DCFS should give all child welfare agencies that tool.

  4. - ModerateGOP - Friday, May 3, 24 @ 3:16 pm:

    @ Cool Papa Bell

    How many buildings are currently sitting empty in downtown Springfield? Downtown doesn’t need more buildings. It needs an attraction to draw families there.

  5. - TJ - Friday, May 3, 24 @ 3:45 pm:

    CPD: We investigated ourselves and found nothing wrong.

    Good job, guys. Meanwhile, I’m sure if one of your officers was a protester at Northwestern, you’d have assigned them to desk duty in a supply closet already.

  6. - The Dude Abides - Friday, May 3, 24 @ 4:05 pm:

    =must wait a considerable amount of time before they can make an offer to a potential employee. Many times those job candidates find other work while waiting for their background check/fingerprints to clear.=

    The conditional offers being made are also contingent on people passing background checks, so your complaint is moot.

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