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Isabel’s morning briefing

Wednesday, May 8, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* ICYMI: Nearly 8 months into Illinois’ new era without cash bail, experts say recidivism and jail populations are trending lower. KDSK

    -”Our jail population is actually down lower than what we’ve ever been in the past,” Sgt. James Hendricks of St. Clair County Jail said.
    - The total number of inmates in custody at the jail is 384, down from a peak of 550, and a 19% reduction from where county jail population levels were on the day Illinois abolished cash bail.
    -Under the new system, Eric Rinehart, the top prosecutor in Lake County, said judges now place their focus on “safety, safety, safety, and not access to cash.”

*** Isabel’s Top Picks ***

* Tribune | CTU’s credibility questioned in Springfield as their biggest ally, Mayor Brandon Johnson, heads to state Capitol: The Chicago Teachers Union’s role in the debate over legislation that would extend for two years a moratorium on closing public schools in the city — including selective enrollment and magnet schools — has raised questions about the powerful union’s credibility in Springfield for some lawmakers. The CTU’s biggest ally, Mayor Brandon Johnson, is headed to the state Capitol on Wednesday to plead for more school funding from the state amid negotiations over a new teachers union contract and on the same day a Senate committee hearing is scheduled on the moratorium extension, which was approved by the House last month.

* Capitol News Illinois | Lawsuit alleges sexual abuse was rampant in state-run juvenile detention centers: Rampant sexual abuse occurred unchecked for decades at Illinois’ juvenile detention centers, a new lawsuit filed on behalf of 95 former detainees alleges, citing hundreds of incidents over more than two decades. The plaintiffs were boys between 12 and 17 years old when the alleged abuse occurred and are now adults. The alleged perpetrators were both men and women working in the facilities.

* AP | Survivors of alleged abuse in Illinois youth detention facilities step forward: Calvin McDowell, 37, who alleged he was abused by a chaplain at a suburban Chicago youth center as a teenager, said he didn’t want others suffering as he did for decades. “Instead of being cared for, I felt more alone than ever,” McDowell said at a Chicago news conference. “I held my secret from the people I loved out of fear and embarrassment. I had nights where I wanted to give up on life.”

*** Statehouse News ***

* Tribune | Illinois hemp businesses owners call for regulation and taxation, not prohibition: Hemp entrepreneurs came out Tuesday in favor of a state legislative proposal to license hemp sales, require testing and labeling of their products, prohibit products that look like well-known snack brands, and limit sales to those 21 and over. The bill would create 10% wholesale and a 10% retail sales taxes, and an unlimited number of $500 licenses. That proposal stands in contrast with a bill backed by the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois, which would prohibit sales of hemp-derived intoxicating products.

* Capitol News Illinois | Thousands of youths at risk of losing access to after-school programs: Advocates for community-based after-school programs say as many as 40,000 youths statewide could lose access to tutoring services, recreation and other extracurricular activities this summer unless Illinois lawmakers approve an infusion of funds to keep them going. “The time is now for legislators to act to save after-school (programs),” Susan Stanton, executive director of Afterschool for Children and Teens, or ACT Now, said at a Statehouse rally Tuesday. “We literally only have weeks left before programs have to shut their doors. Staff will be laid off and families will be in crisis.”

* Daily Herald | A push to raise pay for those who work with developmentally disabled: James Sitati, who has worked at Little City for 20 years, describes DSPs like himself as jacks-of-all-trades. His duties include waking up residents, getting them breakfast and medication, and taking them to daily enrichment activities. […] Sitati said the $2.50 raise this year has helped, but a raise next year also would mean less overtime and more time with his family. It would also help attract more people to the profession and ensure a higher quality of work, he added.

* WAND | Gov. Pritzker marks grand opening of Ferrero chocolate factory in Bloomington: Governor Pritzker joined the Ferrero North America team three years ago to break ground on the new facility. Construction was completed this year. The $75 million investment from Ferrero builds on the company’s impact in Illinois. In 2018, Ferrero took over management of a manufacturing plant in Franklin Park, Illinois, where they focus on Butterfinger and Baby Ruth products. The company also manufactures Keebler products at a plant located on 110th street in Chicago.

*** Chicago ***

* Tribune | Bally’s Chicago sees first monthly revenue decline in April: Bally’s Chicago revenue was down 7% to about $10.4 million in adjusted gross receipts in April, the first month-over-month revenue decline since the temporary casino opened at Medinah Temple in September. Admissions were also down, declining more than 4% to 112,751 visitors for the month, according to data released Tuesday by the Illinois Gaming Board.

* Crain’s | Legalizing video gambling in Chicago could come with a major hitch: The city’s agreement with Bally’s, called the host community agreement, or HCA, lays out parameters for the separate $2 million annual payments to the city. At the time the casino was approved, city officials said those payments were needed to support community groups and to cover an increased police presence around Bally’s temporary casino at Medinah Temple as well as its future permanent location in River West. But those payments would be “subject to good-faith renegotiation” if a second casino was permitted in the city, if gambling taxes were increased or if new forms of gambling were permitted in the city.

* Tribune | Proposal aimed at quieting anti-abortion protests outside Chicago clinic moves forward in City Council: Protesters have targeted the West Loop’s Family Planning Associates clinic at West Washington Boulevard and North Desplaines Street for years, said Ald. Bill Conway, 34th. They rush toward arriving patients and amplify sound so loud that it disrupts work being done inside, he said. The ordinance Conway sponsored that passed through the City Council’s Public Safety committee Tuesday seeks to block the use of loud noise-making devices directly outside the clinic.

* Sun-Times | Friends of the Parks ‘prepared to fight for the lakefront’ in battle for new Bears domed stadium: Gin Kilgore, acting executive director of the group, tried hard to thread a needle Tuesday, in her first extended interview since the Bears unveiled their $5.9 billion plan to build and finance that stadium and retire existing debt used to renovate Soldier Field and Guaranteed Rate Field, current home of the White Sox.[…] “We are prepared to fight for the lakefront. We are prepared to stand on behalf of the doctrines, the principles that say our lakefront should be forever open, clear and free for public use. … [But] this is not a fully-fleshed-out proposal,” she added.

* Crain’s | Claiming fraud, lender sues migrant shelter landlord: A venture led by Chicago real estate investor A.G. Hollis and developer Scott Goodman defaulted on an $11.5 million loan tied to the 50,000-square-foot building at 344 N. Ogden Ave., according to a lawsuit filed May 3 in Cook County Circuit Court by an affiliate of Greenwich, Ct.-based lender Knighthead Funding. Knight alleged in the complaint that the Hollis-Goodman entity failed to make its loan payments since October and that it engaged in a “fraudulent scheme” to sign a lease for the property to be used as a shelter for asylum seekers.

* Fox Chicago | Outdoor dining season kicks off amidst political debate over Clark Street closure: Some local restaurants along the 400 block of North Clark Street have petitioned the city to shut down the street, a measure implemented since the onset of COVID-19, to create an outdoor dining plaza. This proposal, which has been successful in previous years, has sparked division within the community. While advocates argue for the benefits of pedestrian-friendly dining spaces, opponents, including numerous businesses and neighborhood groups, insist on keeping the street open to vehicular traffic, citing concerns about traffic congestion and its impact on nearby establishments.

*** Cook County and Suburbs ***

* Pioneer Press | If a Bears stadium isn’t built in Arlington Heights, village leaders already listed what can’t be constructed on the site: It was almost three years ago when the Arlington Heights Village Board set restrictions on the usage of the now-former racecourse property. Those use stipulations came even before the Bears bought the land. […] The new zoning insists on sustainable development features such as permeable pavers, green rooftops, energy efficient building design, solar energy and bicycle access. It also permits the continued use of the property as a horse racing track. However, the grandstand, stables and all of the other elements of the racetrack have been demolished.

* Daily Herald | Last billboards in Arlington Heights — other than one owned by Bears — to come down: With approvals due to expire next month for the Bears’ revenue-generating billboard at Arlington Park, Arlington Heights village board members this week told a small-business owner to tear his old billboards down. The village is one of the few towns in the area that prohibits such signage, but has made exceptions, such as the 20-by-60-foot double-sided digital sign installed on the west side of the racetrack site in 2017.

* Daily Herald | Metra ‘wants to be part of the conversation’ on merging with CTA and Pace, but stays neutral: “We share the view that this is an opportunity to improve public transportation for this and future generations,” Metra officials said. “Metra stands ready to continue its work on behalf of regional riders and taxpayers. We want to be transparent; we want to listen to all stakeholders to address our funding issues; and we want to be part of the conversation to create the best possible public transportation system for the region.”

*** Downstate ***

* WCBU | Peoria Township residents cast their opinion on a different style of voting this November: Residents of Peoria Township face an unusual question down-ballot this November: would they support the adoption of ranked choice voting in Illinois? The question is non-binding, but it does check the temperature of the public’s sentiment toward the policy. Voters might remember a similar question on independent legislative redistricting, called “fair maps” by supporters, that township voters approved by a 3-to-1 margin in 2022.

* WCIA | Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever confirmed in Champaign County: The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District announced that a case of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever was recently confirmed in Champaign County. The illness is a tickborne disease that the CDC calls “one of the deadliest” in the Americas. It takes one to four days to show symptoms of RMSF, which include a high fever, a severe headache, muscle soreness, gastrointestinal distress, and swelling both around the eyes and the back of the hands.

*** Sports ***

* Tribune | ‘We’re just getting bit’: Chicago White Sox back to 20 games under .500 with loss to Tampa Bay Rays: The Sox went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and left eight on base while falling to 8-28 — their worst 36-game start in franchise history. For the second time this year, they are a season-high 20 games under .500. “It’s not too much different than what I’ve been telling you guys the whole year about me — there’s a lot of good, there’s some bad and we’re just getting bit,” Soroka said. “We’re putting together better at-bats of late, we’re putting together better innings. It’s just a matter of keep going.”

* WaPo | Gregg Doyel, a longtime voice at the newspaper, will not be allowed to cover the Indiana Fever: The paper did not offer any details, saying it does not comment on personnel matters. According to a person with knowledge of the situation, Doyel will not attend Fever games in person this season but may still write about the team. Earlier Tuesday, Bob Kravitz, a former Star columnist, reported on Doyel’s ban on his Substack newsletter and said Doyel is in the midst of a two-week suspension. The person familiar with the situation confirmed the suspension to The Post and added that it is unpaid.

*** National ***

* WaPo | Boy Scouts rebrands as Scouting America, dropping gendered name: After 114 years of being known as the Boy Scouts of America, the nation’s largest scouting organization is changing its name to the more inclusive Scouting America. The major rebrand, announced Tuesday, comes after years of turmoil for the organization, as well as major changes meant to stem the tide of declining membership. The new Scouting America name is also a reflection of the organization’s biggest change: the decision five years ago to welcome girls into its ranks at all levels.

* NYT | France Says It Built the Olympics Safely. Migrant Workers Don’t Count.: But inspection records and other documents show that Olympics sites have been more dangerous than organizers have let on, with some projects failing to meet basic safety standards. When undocumented immigrants are hurt on the job, workers and officials say, the injuries are often handled off the books, all but guaranteeing that they will not show up in government statistics. […] When two workers died on a subway project that Mr. Macron’s former transportation minister called “the lifeline of the Olympics,” their deaths were not included in the Olympic total.


  1. - Rachel - Wednesday, May 8, 24 @ 8:17 am:

    You have to wonder if Mayor Johnson will address rampant anti-semitism issues in public education when asking for additional funding for public schools?

  2. - DuPage Saint - Wednesday, May 8, 24 @ 8:35 am:

    if I was Arlington Heights I would make Bears take down billboard too. Fair is fair and they said it hey wanted to be good neighbors

  3. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, May 8, 24 @ 8:50 am:

    Very good early results on the SAFE-T act so far: less recidivism and reduced jail population. Also, dangerous individuals are being kept in jail rather than released on bond only to re-offend. Looks like it’s working as planned. Now it’s time for the law’s opponents to pivot to other manufactured fear to gin up voters. /s

  4. - Proud Papa Bear - Wednesday, May 8, 24 @ 8:51 am:

    Regarding DSPs, it’s a tough career. The pay is horrible, the potential for injury is high, and there are situations where you can be accused of abuse or neglect.
    As my son is starting his career, my strongest bit of advice is to select a job that’s very different from that of a DSP. It’s sad because the job is essential, but that’s the level of respect that our society has for them.

  5. - JS Mill - Wednesday, May 8, 24 @ 8:52 am:

    = Mayor Brandon Johnson, is headed to the state Capitol on Wednesday to plead for more school funding from the state amid negotiations over a new teachers union contract=

    Not one additional penny beyond what the EBF very generously grants to CPS. If CTU wanted control of CPS and has it (not sure that is actually true in a complete sense) they will now find out what happens when the dog catches the car.

  6. - supplied_demand - Wednesday, May 8, 24 @ 10:56 am:

    ==recidivism and jail populations are trending lower.==

    Eagerly awaiting the mea culpas from Joe Rogan, Fox News, and the others who foretasted apocalyptic results. Any day now.

  7. - thechampaignlife - Wednesday, May 8, 24 @ 12:16 pm:

    ===Eagerly awaiting the mea culpas from Joe Rogan, Fox News, and the others who foretasted apocalyptic results.===

    I would love to campaign pieces which just quote the fear-mongerers and then show the actual results reported in the news. It would make for a great collectible series highlighting just how terrible of prognosticators they are and why they should not be trusted to make public policy.

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