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Isabel’s morning briefing

Thursday, May 9, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* ICYMI: Mayor Brandon Johnson talks school funding, Bears stadium and ‘less high-profile budget needs’ during Springfield visit. Tribune.

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson met with Gov. J.B. Pritzker and state lawmakers on Wednesday to make his pitch for more state funding for critical city operations such as the public schools, and to discuss the Chicago Bears’ $3.2 billion domed stadium proposal. […]

Johnson’s budget requests at the Illinois State Capitol came on the same day a state Senate committee approved legislation opposed by the mayor’s key ally, the Chicago Teachers Union, that would extend a school closure moratorium for all of the city’s public schools by two years. The CTU has labeled the measure, initially drawn up to protect selective-enrollment schools, as “racist,” as the union presses to invest more money in neighborhood schools.[…]

Johnson previously has said his Springfield wish list includes $1 billion in state funding that’s “owed” to the “families of Chicago.” That money would include greater state aid under the evidence-based funding formula and additional teacher pension funds. […]

Pritzker also has indicated that belt-tightening is needed to secure his $52.7 billion budget proposal, which is now negotiated by state lawmakers ahead of a scheduled May 24 adjournment.

There was no full accounting of specifics disclosed by city or state officials on what the progressive mayor discussed at Wednesday’s meetings. But a meeting with progressive Democratic lawmakers involved some “less high-profile budget needs,” such as lead service pipe replacement, according to state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, a Chicago Democrat.

* Related stories…

*** Statehouse News ***

* SJ-R | Lawmakers, organizations express frustration over continued licensing delays in Illinois: Under legislation signed into by Gov. JB Pritzker in December, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation had 90 days, or until March 7 to enter into contract with a technology vendor to build a new computer software system. Now two months after the deadline, lawmakers pressed IDPFR officials during a subject matter hearing in Springfield on Wednesday. “I mean, the reality is, Mr. Secretary (Mario Treto Jr.), this is a self-imposed deadline,” state Rep. Bill Hauter, R-Morton, said during the House Health Care Licenses Committee hearing. “And you told us 90 days and then you said another 90 days, it would be implemented… it is very disappointing that this didn’t happen.”

* Sun-Times | Hemp sellers push back on delta-8 ban as lawmakers tackle unregulated cannabinoid market: [Rep. La Shawn Ford’s] bill would limit sales to people 21 or older, prohibit name-brand lookalike packaging and require manufacturers to undergo product testing to obtain $500 licenses. Products would be taxed 10% at wholesale and 10% retail. […] That stands in opposition to a bill introduced last month by state Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Hillside, that would halt sales of mind-altering, hemp-derived products pending a lengthy evaluation to set consumer safety standards.

* WTTW | New DCFS Director Shares Vision for Troubled Agency: ‘It Requires Collaboration’: Heidi Mueller is taking on the big task of leading the beleaguered Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). […] The director said core priorities for her are ensuring kids have the best placement and increasing the number of placements available. She attributes these historic problems, in part, to a lack of government investment in DCFS. Pritzker’s 2025 budget proposal invests $100 million into the agency.

* Capitol News Illinois | State officials offer last goodbye to former Thompson Center as renovations begin: “It already looks better than when we owned it,” Gov. JB Pritzker quipped on Monday. The Thompson Center, built in 1985, gained a reputation for being difficult to maintain. At the time of its sale, the governor’s office said the state spent $17 million annually on the building due to “operational inefficiencies” and that bringing it up to standard would have cost more than $325 million.

*** Chicago***

* WTTW | CTA Touts Report Showing Transit’s Key Role in Chicago Region – But Agency President Quiet on Proposal to Merge CTA, Metra and Pace: While board chair Lester Barclay and one public commenter briefly mentioned the proposed governance reforms, Carter kept mum on the issue and focused his comments on funding and the MIT/Argonne report. “We’ll be incorporating this into our broader strategy down in Springfield as we continue the conversation around the fiscal cliff,” he said.

* WTTW | Key City Panel Advances Johnson’s Pick to Serve on RTA Board After Tense Hearing: Acree repeatedly struggled to articulate exactly what changes he would make if confirmed to the RTA board to serve a five-year term, declining to answer questions about Johnson’s specific transit agenda and how he would implement it as a member of the 16-person board charged with financial oversight. Board members earn $25,000 annually and meet once per month.

* Block Club | Pastor’s Appointment To Transit Board Advances Despite Saying He Rarely Rides CTA: “As a man, I don’t have to use CTA. I’m fortunate to have a car. But I use the CTA often when I come Downtown,” Acree said. “I came up on the CTA. I know the glory days. I looked at my own leadership skills, my ability to collaborate with diverse stakeholders…and I thought this would be a great opportunity to come here and share my wisdom and the networks I represent.

* Sun-Times | City Hall thrown under the bus: Report rips ‘do nothing’ effort to save Greyhound terminal: The city of Chicago has adopted a “do nothing approach” and offered no substantial plan to either purchase the station or propose an alternate site before Greyhound’s lease ends in October, according to the report by DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development. The report builds on the Institute’s brief from last year, when it established the need to save the station that serves a half-million riders yearly, many of whom are low-income or disabled. The terminal at 630 W. Harrison St. was put up for sale last year by a company that wants to sell it to a residential high-rise developer.

* Sun-Times | City to pay $1.75M to family of woman found hanged at South Side police station:
The $1.75 million settlement, on the agenda for Monday’s meeting of the City Council’s Finance Committee, will resolve a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by the sister of Chavez. That lawsuit claimed the 10 officers involved in the arrest denied Chavez basic medical care after she repeatedly asserted she was a veteran dealing with PTSD, and an officer escalated the tension after aggressively shouting at Chavez.

* Sun-Times | Uniting Voices Chicago receives largest-ever gift, from anonymous donor: “We are thrilled that we were given this anonymous gift and someone recognizing us from New York City … that they are recognizing the work that we’re doing,” said the organization’s president, Josephine Lee. Among other things, the gift will “at least double” the available scholarships for domestic and international tours, a spokesman for the organization said. It will also help pay for the continuing education of the organization’s music teachers.

* WBEZ | Musician Steve Albini — ‘provocateur, troublemaker, firestarter’ — had an outsized influence on Chicago’s sound: Albini’s influence as a recording engineer and punk sage spanned genres and all levels of the recording industry. He worked on more than 2,000 albums in his lifetime. Many of those were among the most important bands of his generation, from America’s punk underground — with bands such as Slint, Silkworm, Jawbreaker, Pegboy, Tar and the Jesus Lizard — to mainstream stars like Nirvana, PJ Harvey, Cheap Trick, Bush and the Pixies.

*** Cook County and Suburbs ***

* Daily Southtown | Calumet City mayor promises to pay back disputed credit card charges after aldermen flag spending: Thousands of dollars in charges made on Calumet City’s municipal credit card that aldermen say could not be fully explained by Mayor Thaddeus Jones led aldermen Tuesday to recommend policy changes, including taking away Jones’ access to the card. A city spokesman said Wednesday Jones will repay the city for some of the expenses. Aldermen in April asked Jones to provide more information about a series of charges that showed up on an itemized bill listing totaling more than $13,000, including hotel stays in New Orleans, Uber rides and meals the aldermen did not remember being for city business.

* Lake County News-Sun | Lake County GOP chair angered by new ballot-access law; ‘We will challenge it in court’: Lake County Republican Central Committee Chair Keith Brin is angry about a new law eliminating the ability of political parties to nominate candidates for offices where no nominee was selected in the primary election. He is planning a challenge. “You only change the rules when you think your party is going to lose,” Brin said. “That’s exactly what the Democrats have done. It’s offensive. It’s terrible.”

* ESPN | Three more former Northwestern players file hazing lawsuits: Former linebacker Nathan Fox, who played for Northwestern from 2015 to 2019, and two men identified as John Doe filed the lawsuits in Cook County circuit court this week. Both Fox and the whistleblower, identified as John Doe 22, spoke with attorney Maggie Hickey, whom Northwestern hired to investigate John Doe 22’s allegations after they were first brought forward in late 2022. Hickey’s investigation found that the player’s hazing allegations could largely be corroborated but that there was no evidence Fitzgerald and other coaches and staff members had knowledge of the incidents. After Hickey’s investigation concluded, Northwestern suspended Fitzgerald for two weeks without pay. The whistleblower then went public with his allegations in the Daily Northwestern campus newspaper, and Northwestern president Michael Schill fired Fitzgerald two days later.

* Crain’s | DuPage Water Commission pays $80 million for shuttered Northbrook golf club: After rejecting a plan to turn the shuttered Green Acres Country Club into a residential subdivision and watching a senior living development proposal fall apart last year, the village of Northbrook is now facing the prospect of a massive water treatment facility being built on what its leaders have dubbed the “emerald” of the north suburban community.

* Daily Herald | Food scrap collection services growing, but not in all suburbs: Like Oak Park, several suburbs have gone one step further than ride-along services, offering a subscription composting program that allows residents to compost year-round. But while Oak Park’s compost service is with its regular trash and recycling hauler, some towns partner with local composting haulers. For instance, Hoffman Estates offers subscription through Evanston-based Collective Resource Compost Cooperative and Morton Grove through Chicago-based WasteNot.

* Daily Herald | Lisle police chief out following employee complaint: On Monday, village trustees approved the agreement that allows Kevin Licko to use unused sick and vacation time and stay on as a sergeant until he retires on Oct. 1. […] Licko was placed on leave in February following an employee complaint against him. Mayor Christoper Pecak and Village Manager Eric Ertmoed declined to comment on the complaint or the investigation that followed.

* CBS Chicago | Suburban Chicago native and paralympic athlete hopes to bring home the gold from Paris: Sarah Adam is the first woman named to the U.S. Wheelchair Rugby Team. She hopes to win gold at the Paralympics in Paris this summer. “It’s really, truly a relief when your name is finally called, and it’s exciting to be a part of the opportunity to go to Paris.”

*** Downstate ***

* WICS | HSHS Medical Group, St. John’s Hospital set to leave Aetna network by July 1: Effective on July 1, HSHS Medical Group and St. John’s Hospital in Springfield will no longer be in the Aetna network. Officials say negotiations between the two parties are ongoing but as of right now on July 1, HSHS Medical Group and St. John’s Hospital will no longer be in the Aetna network.

*** National ***

* AP | Net neutrality restored as Federal Communications Commission votes to regulate internet providers: Net neutrality effectively requires providers of internet service to treat all traffic equally, eliminating any incentive they might face to favor business partners or to hobble competitors. The public interest group Public Knowledge describes net neutrality as “the principle that the company that connects you to the internet does not get to control what you do on the internet.”

* WaPo | Fish are shrinking around the world. Here’s why scientists are worried: Overfishing and human-caused climate change are decreasing the size of adult fish, threatening the food supply of more than 3 billion people who rely on seafood as a significant source of protein. […] “This is a pretty fundamental question,” said Lisa Komoroske, a conservation biologist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. “But we still don’t understand why.”

* Reuters | Exclusive-In Tesla Autopilot probe, US prosecutors focus on securities, wire fraud: Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving systems assist with steering, braking and lane changes - but are not fully autonomous. While Tesla has warned drivers to stay ready to take over driving, the Justice Department is examining other statements by Tesla and Chief Executive Elon Musk suggesting its cars can drive themselves.

       

26 Comments »
  1. - H-W - Thursday, May 9, 24 @ 7:58 am:

    Re: City to pay $1.75M

    Maybe its time we rethink detainment policies.

    I cannot imagine serving as a jailer or whichever term is appropriate. Even here in smalltown Illinois, the job is too stressful. But in Chicago I can only imagine anger, frustration, fear, hate, and a dozen other elements of masculinity necessary to dehumanize staff while working.

    Perhaps another model, in which workers rotate through direct contact and non-contact positions would serve all, better. Perhaps fewer assaults and batteries and death would occur if staff were not forced to come to work each day, prepared for battle, and given more periodic respite.


  2. - Give Us Barabbas - Thursday, May 9, 24 @ 8:41 am:

    The Thompson Center wasn’t so much “difficult to maintain”, more like, they never actually maintained it in the first place. Every administration deferred needed preventative and corrective maintenance due to budget issues and fear of negative press articles that would characterize the upkeep as “wasteful perks on the taxpayer’s dime”. Check the Pepsi HQ building they bought in ten years, and I bet you’ll see the same degradation showing, because the state is a terrible landlord and a worse tenant.


  3. - Model T - Thursday, May 9, 24 @ 8:43 am:

    Good riddance Thompson Center!


  4. - Excitable Boy - Thursday, May 9, 24 @ 8:43 am:

    Hopefully the feds stick it to Elon good. I’m tired of his grifting going unchallenged.


  5. - NonAFSCMEStateEmployeeFromChatham - Thursday, May 9, 24 @ 9:00 am:

    To me it makes sense for any and all licensing and IDFPR functions to be transferred to the Secretary of State’s Office.


  6. - Not Amused - Thursday, May 9, 24 @ 9:27 am:

    @Excitable,

    You are encouraging government agents to “stick it to” businessmen you do not like.

    Sounds very 1930ish.


  7. - TJ - Thursday, May 9, 24 @ 9:32 am:

    Johnson: I’d like to speak to you about school funding…
    Pritzker: Sounds like a worthwhile conversation to have.
    Johnson: … and funding the Bears stadium.
    Pritzker: Get out of my sight.


  8. - cermak_rd - Thursday, May 9, 24 @ 9:35 am:

    I’m not sure what Excitable meant, but I have seen Mr. Musk repeatedly make statements that the SEC would have come down hard on any other business person for making (and indeed those other business men would not have made those statements because they know and respect the law.)
    Additionally he has made statements about the autonomous driving that over-promised what it could offer (as opposed from corporate who stick to the assistive descriptor). There are a number of collisions to which that assistive driving have contributed. Again, other business people don’t behave that way because they respect the law.


  9. - Demoralized - Thursday, May 9, 24 @ 9:38 am:

    ==To me it makes sense for any and all licensing and IDFPR functions to be transferred to the Secretary of State’s Office.==

    On what basis? You think the Secretary of State should get into the business of licensing professions? That’s just goofy.


  10. - Demoralized - Thursday, May 9, 24 @ 9:39 am:

    Wait. Were you talking about ALL state licensing functions beyond those handled by IDFPR?


  11. - Give Me A Break - Thursday, May 9, 24 @ 9:51 am:

    In honor of the closing of the JRTC, today I’m placing buckets under my office ceiling, turning the heat up to 90, then backing it down to 60, pouring water on the carpet and firing up a dehumidifier and having someone randomly walk in my office just because they can.


  12. - JoanP - Thursday, May 9, 24 @ 10:14 am:

    = As a man, I don’t have to use CTA. =

    What the ?


  13. - Donnie Elgin - Thursday, May 9, 24 @ 10:39 am:

    =DuPage Water Commission pays $80 million for shuttered Northbrook golf club=

    This results from the racket pricing model that the Chicago Department of Water Management (CDWM) established with the Chicago Water Partners Advisory Council (CWPAC). After years of asking for a more fair pricing model, the solution was to offer a new model in 2030 - talk about slow.

    Meeting of the Chicago Water Partners Advisory Council (CWPAC) (An Advisory Body to the Chicago Department of Water Management) Tuesday, June 27, 2023

    “Mr. Kohn responded that as of this time, the City is at the early stages of developing the cost-of-service rate model for each customer of the system and everyone is going to get their rate model in advance of the transition to the AWWA rate setting methodology. The target date for Chicago’s implementation of cost-ofservice, he reminded everyone, is January 2030”


  14. - Long time Independent - Thursday, May 9, 24 @ 10:46 am:

    Johnson’s statement that the states owes the city and the students 1 billion is exactly his and CTU/ Gates problem. You don’t go to Springfield and tell them what they owe, you go and ask can you help us out because we need your help. His way of demanding things as a union organizer is a lot different than reality in dealing with the General Assembly.


  15. - @misterjayem - Thursday, May 9, 24 @ 10:46 am:

    “Musician Steve Albini — ‘provocateur, troublemaker, firestarter’ — had an outsized influence on Chicago’s sound”

    Perhaps as important as his musical contributions, Albini provided an example of how GenX men who engaged in “ironically” harmful behavior could take responsibility for their juvenile antics and be better people as men.

    With regard to his work as a r̶e̶c̶o̶r̶d̶ ̶p̶r̶o̶d̶u̶c̶e̶r̶ recording engineer, Steve Albini was who people think Rick Rubin is.

    – MrJM


  16. - ArchPundit - Thursday, May 9, 24 @ 10:51 am:

    Isabel, great job on asking the question about data centers yesterday. It’s an important issue and one much of the media isn’t focusing on.


  17. - Steve Polite - Thursday, May 9, 24 @ 11:11 am:

    Re: IDFPR Licensing delays
    “Treto shared Hauter’s frustrations, but due to the state’s procurement process, declined to share specifics as to why a vendor had yet to be selected. He previously disclosed during a September hearing the agency had walked away from those talks once IDFPR leaders realized the vendor wouldn’t have been able to meet the agency’s specific needs.”

    IDFPR does not necessarily need to go through the procurement/RFP process to select a vendor. DoIT has master contracts with Salesforce and Microsoft (Dynamics/PowerApps) both of which are highly configurable. These infrastructures are already in place. SOI technical requirements such as security and accessibility have already been approved and implemented on these platforms. Either one of these platforms could be configured for licensing submission, review and approval workflows. It would be faster than issuing an RFP and going through the procurement process.


  18. - Lincoln Lad - Thursday, May 9, 24 @ 11:20 am:

    While constructing the JRTC, corners were cut and specs were changed that saved money in the immediate, but cost money in the long term through a need for increased maintenance. Constantly defer that maintenance and it builds up and things deteriorate even faster. I’m grateful Google has stepped in and will make it into what it was always intended to be.


  19. - NonAFSCMEStateEmployeeFromChatham - Thursday, May 9, 24 @ 11:21 am:

    =Wait. Were you talking about ALL state licensing functions beyond those handled by IDFPR?=

    Just IDFPR licensing functions only.


  20. - estubborn - Thursday, May 9, 24 @ 11:51 am:

    =Aldermen in April asked Jones to provide more information about a series of charges that showed up on an itemized bill listing totaling more than $13,000, including hotel stays in New Orleans, Uber rides and meals the aldermen did not remember being for city business.=

    What’s going on in the South Suburbs with Mayors and Super Mayors abusing municipal credit cards? Not to mention Rep-Mayor Thaddeus Jones and Super-Mayor Tiffany Henyard both having the AG investigate their non-profits. Career politicians like Jones and Henyard are reason enough for the GA to ban elected officials from holding more than one elected office.

    Ironically, last year Super Mayor Tiffany Henyard taunted Rep/Mayor Jones for being investigated by the FBI. Two peas in a pod..

    I hope the Feds clean house in the South Suburbs.


  21. - Anon III - Thursday, May 9, 24 @ 12:10 pm:

    “Yes, Chicago Remembers 1968. Mayor Says That Was Then”, NYT, May 9, 2024. Interview with Mayor Johnson.

    Isabel, you don’t do the NYT?


  22. - Long time Independent - Thursday, May 9, 24 @ 12:22 pm:

    -estubborn- your spot on about these Southland Mayors and different abuses. The Mayor of Orland Park received a free full golf membership to Crystal Tree CC. That membership has a worth of $15k a year and he never disclosed it. He also has a consulting agreement with the mall in Orland Park where they have Orland Park police doing the security work on village time.


  23. - estubborn - Thursday, May 9, 24 @ 1:59 pm:

    = He also has a consulting agreement with the mall in Orland Park where they have Orland Park police doing the security work on village time.=

    Keith Pekau is such a lovely person and I wish him nothing but the best /s. But in all fairness, Orland Park cops are basically mall cops.


  24. - Another Prof - Thursday, May 9, 24 @ 3:10 pm:

    H-W, I wholeheartedly concur. I have thought a rotation of jobs is critical where people need to remove themselves from dealing with the difficult sides of humanity. DCFS, police, and corrections immediately come to mind as careers that would benefit from a sabbatical of sorts into another, less stressful career path for some time would probably pay dividends.


  25. - Nonamie - Thursday, May 9, 24 @ 4:41 pm:

    As an Springfield-area Aetna subscriber with medically complex children, I’m very stressed about the St. John’s hospital news. I’m on the Consumer-driven plan, and it’s the only one like it. If I switch to one of the HMOs or OAPs, my annual healthcare costs will go up by several grand, and I’ll be in for many hours of hassle.


  26. - Demoralized - Thursday, May 9, 24 @ 4:42 pm:

    ==DoIT has master contracts with Salesforce and Microsoft (Dynamics/PowerApps) both of which are highly configurable==

    Lol. I had the opportunity to look into these and they are a dumpster fire. When someone tells you that they can “configure” anything for state government run because they are lying.


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