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Isabel’s morning briefing

Monday, May 13, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* ICYMI:Mark Walker has been appointed to 27th SD. Here’s the press release….

Mark L. Walker, formerly the state Representative for the 53rd District, was appointed today as the new state Senator for the 27th District.

“I’m honored to become the new Senator for the 27th District,” Walker said. “Over my time serving the 53rd District in the House, I’ve represented most of the people and communities of the 27th District. It’s great to be representing them again and I’m excited to continue advocating for our communities in Springfield.”

Former state Senator Ann Gillespie resigned her seat on April 14th, 2024, following her appointment by Governor Pritzker as the Acting Director of the Dept. of Insurance. In accordance with the vacancy replacement process, the local Township Democratic Committeepeople comprising the 27th District met on May 11 to fill the vacancy. Walker received the majority of votes to become the new Senator for the District.

“Sen. Gillespie was a tremendous Senator and I thank her for her service to the 27th District,” Walker added. “I’m looking forward to a seamless transition into this new position so we can continue working for Illinoisans delivering another balanced budget, meeting our pension obligations, and building an Illinois for all.”

The 27th Senate District contains most or parts of Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Des Plaines, Mount Prospect, Palatine, Prospect Heights, Rolling Meadows, and Schaumburg.

Subscribers know more.

* Related…

Governor Pritzker will be at the Lawndale Christian Health Center at 9:30 am to celebrate Medicaid redetermination efforts. Click here to watch.

*** Isabel’s top picks ***

* Capitol News Illinois | Stateville may close as early as September under Pritzker’s prison plan: Top officials with the Illinois Department of Corrections testified in front of a key panel of state lawmakers. The 12 members on the General Assembly’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability face a mid-June deadline to make a recommendation on the governor’s plan to close and rebuild a pair of prisons in central Illinois and in Chicago’s south suburbs. But no matter what the panel decides, the Pritzker administration can go ahead with its plans so long as money is built into the state’s next budget.

* WBEZ | Local election officials hope to report aggregate vote totals this November: Election officials in Chicago and Cook County are exploring how they can work together to report their aggregate ballot numbers in the days after Election Day following widespread confusion among voters in March’s primary election. The tight race for the Democratic Cook County State’s Attorney nomination saw mail-in, provisional and military ballots trickle in up to two weeks after primary Election Day, with Eileen O’Neill Burke winning by just over 1,500 votes.

* NPR | Medical residents are starting to avoid states with abortion bans, data shows: Isabella Rosario Blum was wrapping up medical school and considering residency programs to become a family practice physician when she got some frank advice: If she wanted to be trained to provide abortions, she shouldn’t stay in Arizona. Blum turned to programs mostly in states where abortion access — and, by extension, abortion training — is likely to remain protected, like California, Colorado and New Mexico. Arizona has enacted a law banning most abortions after 15 weeks. “I would really like to have all the training possible,” she said, “so of course that would have still been a limitation.”

*** Statehouse News ***

* Capitol News Illinois | Labor-backed bill banning ‘captive audience’ meetings awaits House action: With two weeks left before the General Assembly’s spring session is set to adjourn, negotiations continue on a labor union-backed initiative that would allow Illinoisans to skip religious and political work meetings without reprimand. Dubbed the “Worker Freedom of Speech Act,” Senate Bill 3649 advanced out of the Senate on May 2 with only Democratic support.

* Daily Herald | Legislation could help lower concrete’s carbon footprint in Illinois: ‘It’s literally what the world is made out of’: Lawmakers and advocates are looking to offset greenhouse gas emissions from one of the world’s most consumed materials second only to water — concrete. The building material’s main binding ingredient, cement, represents a whopping 7% to 8% of global carbon emissions. But experts say it’s not likely construction projects will slow down any time soon — or that a zero-emission replacement will crop up like EVs have for gas cars, for instance. […] Rather than replace concrete, the leading solution is to transform it.

* SJ-R | Calls continue for an increase in pay for Direct Service Professionals in Illinois: Due to higher turnover rates and vacancies, state legislators and Direct Service Professionals are asking for $3.00 rate wage increase. The call for a rate increase comes after a $2.50 wage increase for the workers in Fiscal Year 2024. Skipping an increase for Fiscal Year 2025 means that there have been two consecutive years without wage rate increases.

*** Statewide ***

* Pontiac Daily Leader | 2024 list of Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois released. Here’s what’s on it: The sites, announced during a Tuesday news conference, include historic homes, banks, places of worship, factories, theaters, office buildings, schools, courthouses and cultural centers. “This year’s ‘Most Endangered’ sites are not only incredibly important places in their communities, but many are large-scale buildings that sit prominently in highly visible areas near city centers, in historic districts or on state-owned land. Their neglect is seen and felt,” Bonnie McDonald, president and CEO of Landmarks Illinois, said in a news release.

* PJ Star | OSF, other medical professionals found liable in $41 million malpractice lawsuit in Illinois: A jury in the Circuit Court of Cook County has awarded $41 million to a 72-year-old lawyer whose cerebral artery stroke was brought on by medical mismanagement at the Peoria-based OSF HealthCare System, according to a news release from the law firm representing him. Craig Pierce was awarded the verdict on Tuesday against OSF, an Illinois nephrologist, a kidney care corporation and a dialysis service. According to his lawyers, this is the largest award in Illinois history for a medical malpractice case with a plaintiff over 70 years old.

*** Chicago ***

* Tribune | Mayor Johnson on the record: The full Tribune Q&A as he approaches 1 year in office: Q: What do you see as the area that most needs improvement within your administration? A: Well, I mean, look, we’ve had 40 years of gross neglect and disinvestment within the city of Chicago, right? And we’re talking about real severe disinvestment. I’m not sure if either one of you were here during the time in which schools were closed. It’s a very profound, lasting impact that it has had on the people of Chicago. And when mental health clinics are shuttered, that creates a lot of frustration that leaves a gaping hole, right? And so part of my responsibility, of course, is to address the age-old systems of failure and to build a better, stronger, safer Chicago, and that is something that I’m committed to doing. That’s what the people of Chicago elected me to do.

* Tribune | Mayor Johnson at one year in office: Former activist grapples with being the boss: Jason McGrath, a Chicago-based strategist who was a pollster for the last three mayors, said Johnson should be concerned about these “calls coming from inside the house.” “It’s a very, very hard job, and I think he’s finding now that it’s a lot easier to throw bombs from the sideline than it is to be in the ring and actually defuse them,” McGrath said. “Right now, there are too many people who are openly criticizing him who should be with them. And if that’s not a flashing red light yet, it certainly will be soon.”

* Sun-Times | Chicago cop convicted in Capitol riot has been fired from the police department: Karol Chwiesiuk spent roughly 10 minutes inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as a mob attempted to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s electoral victory. Chwiesiuk was ultimately sentenced to three months of home detention in January. However, his dismissal from the police department is only tangentially related to his case in federal court. A police spokesperson said he was “terminated for a break in service, in violation of the city’s personnel rules.”

* Tribune | U. of C. study shows cops at high risk of misconduct also at elevated risk for off-duty trouble: The study, which examined 10 years of Chicago Police Department data as part of implementing the federal consent decree, found that police misconduct was predictable based on an officer’s history of complaints. It suggested that a relatively simple system of tracking past complaints to prevent future incidents could have a public value of “infinity,” considering the potential to avoid costly lawsuits that result from high-profile incidents of officer misconduct.

* WTTW | Social Service Organization The Ark Celebrates Reopening of $21.5M Renovated Facility Serving Chicago’s Jewish Community: The facility now has the capacity to serve an additional 1,000 clients per year, bringing the total to about 5,000 clients annually. The new building is 60% larger than the original. The renovations include a four-fold increase in the size of its food pantry, which features new walk-in refrigerators and freezers. The pharmacy was relocated to the first floor for better accessibility, and the community space doubled in size.

* Tribune | After repeated blasts of smoke last summer and one of the driest winters on record, Chicago enters the 2024 wildfire season with trepidation: “The conditions are ripe for another bad fire season,” said John Mooney, air quality director for the Environmental Protection Agency’s regional office in Chicago. “The snowpack was down. The ice cover on the lakes was down. If the wind blows in the right direction, we’re going to get hit in the eastern half of the United States again,” Mooney said in an interview.

*** Cook County and Suburbs ***

* Daily Herald | DuPage County clerk to county: Pay my bills: In a Tuesday memo to DuPage County Board Chairwoman Deborah Conroy, Kaczmarek requested that all the invoices approved by her office be submitted to the treasurer for payment. The move would bypass approval from the county auditor. If the invoices are not paid, Kaczmarek said she would “instruct the state’s attorney to commence legal action on my behalf in my official capacity.”

* Daily Herald | DuPage County Forest Preserve invites Stephen Colbert to be featured in follow-up cicada video: A viral cicada video that the DuPage County Forest Preserve District put out last week has reached new and national heights, inviting attention from the likes of CNN, NPR and Stephen Colbert. Colbert joked about the video, which features forest preserve district employees acting out the life stages of cicadas, on “The Late Show” Wednesday night. A former member of Chicago’s Second City improv troupe, Colbert quipped that he would have killed for the role of cicada larvae back in his Illinois acting days.

*** Downstate ***

* BND | Cahokia 187 is getting a new high school. Here’s the timeline, design & financing: District 187 will pay back the lease certificates with corporate personal property replacement tax funds it gets annually from the state and interest earnings for the first two years of repayment, Assistant Superintendent Arnett Harvey told the BND. Starting with the third year, the district will continue paying off the certificates annually with revenue it will get from two retiring tax increment financing districts within the school district’s boundaries.

* PJ Star | After 31 years as a Journal Star reporter and photographer, Leslie Renken says goodbye: In May of 1993 I drove up out of the desert to work at the Journal Star. Peoria was literally a breath of fresh air after working for three and a half years in Odessa, Texas. All the things that were missing in Odessa, like humidity, trees, drinkable tap water, and historic architecture, were present in Peoria. And it felt a lot like coming home, since the move meant I would be only three hours from my family in St. Louis, a far cry from the 18-hour drive to west Texas.

* WCIA | Central Illinois woman gets state award for volunteer service: Sarah Rochnowski has been volunteering in the area for over half of a decade. Now, she has won the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award. Rochnowski said she never thought about getting recognized when she set out to give her time to others, but now she has even more motivation to volunteer. She said it’s always been about others.

*** National ***

* ProPublica | IRS Audit of Trump Could Cost Former President More Than $100 Million: Former President Donald Trump used a dubious accounting maneuver to claim improper tax breaks from his troubled Chicago tower, according to an IRS inquiry uncovered by ProPublica and The New York Times. Losing a yearslong audit battle over the claim could mean a tax bill of more than $100 million. […] But when Trump sought to reap tax benefits from his losses, the IRS has argued, he went too far and in effect wrote off the same losses twice.

* Crain’s | Small Midwestern cities are killing it in home price growth this year: Home prices are rising so fast in those and three other small cities in Illinois and Wisconsin that this swath of the Midwest dominated the National Association of Realtors’ May 8 report on U.S. home price increases during the first quarter of the year. In a three-month period when the median price of homes sold nationwide was up 5% from a year earlier, prices in Fond du Lac were up 23.7%, the highest in the country, according to the NAR report.

* WSJ | There’s Not Enough Power for America’s High-Tech Ambitions: —Bill Thomson needs power fast. The problem is that many of the other businesspeople racing into Georgia do too. Thomson heads marketing and product management at DC Blox, which in recent years built a string of data centers in midsize cities across the fast-growing Southeast. The company more recently set its sights on Atlanta—the would-be capital of the region—joining a slew of tech and industrial firms piling into the state.

* Daily Beast | We Asked Baristas, Retail Workers, and Servers About Their Comfiest Shoes: Most people, except maybe people who use the word “summer” as a verb, will work a service job at some point in their life. And while the vocations under that umbrella vary from barista to line cook to showroom sales associate and beyond, they all require one thing: surviving long shifts—and often long shifts on their feet for eight hours straight.

* Independent | Scientists celebrate ‘first step’ in making food allergies history: Sibel Sonmez-Ajtai, paediatric allergy consultant and principal investigator at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This study is enabling us to do something we would never have dreamed of doing before – giving patients the foods we know they are allergic to. “This treatment is not a cure for a food allergy, but what it achieves is life-transforming.


  1. - Suburban Mom - Monday, May 13, 24 @ 8:15 am:

    Yay, the cicada video is finally viral. Funniest thing I’ve ever seen.

  2. - Just Me 2 - Monday, May 13, 24 @ 8:42 am:

    How many other states have a vacancy replacement process that allows someone to appoint themselves?

  3. - low level - Monday, May 13, 24 @ 8:53 am:

    ==How many other states have a vacancy replacement process that allows someone to appoint themselves?==

    You would rather there be a May special election now with a general election in November?

  4. - @misterjayem - Monday, May 13, 24 @ 8:53 am:

    “Chicago cop convicted in Capitol riot has been fired from the police department”

    Not fired for participating in the riot on the Capitol, though — fired for violating the department’s “personal leave of absence” policy.

    Sure would be nice if the CPD could discipline its officers for something other than HR violations.

    – MrJM

  5. - Occasionally Moderated - Monday, May 13, 24 @ 9:03 am:

    ===Sure would be nice if the CPD could discipline its officers for something other than HR violations.===

    Probably easier to fire based on policy violations.

    I agree though, and the message matters. The right message was not sent in this case.

  6. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Monday, May 13, 24 @ 9:22 am:

    So much chicken feed in the Tribune’s City Hall coverage. You’d think Percy Alleline was their editor.

  7. - JoanP - Monday, May 13, 24 @ 10:16 am:

    Illinois is the most normal state in the U.S.:

  8. - Anon221 - Monday, May 13, 24 @ 10:19 am:

    RE the Daily Herald article on concrete. Will any of the proposed tax credits also go toward industrial wind construction sites? May depend on what the future definitions of “public projects” are and how the Renewable Energy Credit purchases are finally defined in the REAP model currently before the ICC.

    One 5MW wind turbine foundation requires between 850-900 cubic yards of concrete (,the%20on%2Dsite%20concrete%20placement. ), about 3.6 million pounds on the high end. Only 4-5 feet of that column is required to be removed at decommissioning. Most new projects are going in at 50 turbines per site. Concrete is rarely used at solar site installations. The piers for the panel racks are just pounded into the ground, perhaps just past the freeze line based on project proposals I’ve seen. There may be concrete pads for some of the infrastructure for solar, but nothing compared to industrial wind when it comes to concrete use.

    Video of a 3 MW turbine base build-

  9. - Amalia - Monday, May 13, 24 @ 10:29 am:

    Walker…how nice. Always wonderful when good people get recognized and given another opportunity. The Senate is lucky to have you Mark.

  10. - Responsa - Monday, May 13, 24 @ 10:50 am:

    (Trib) ==”McGrath, a Chicago-based strategist who was a pollster for the last three mayors, said Johnson should be concerned about these “calls coming from inside the house.”==

    Yikes. Politico article out this past weekend is titled “The DNC is Preparing for the Worst in Chicago –Without the Help of the City’s Mayor”.

  11. - Rich Miller - Monday, May 13, 24 @ 10:52 am:

    ===Yikes. Politico article===

    Maybe stop right there.

  12. - Just Me 2 - Monday, May 13, 24 @ 11:05 am:

    === You would rather there be a May special election now with a general election in November? ===

    Right now I’m just asking a perfectly legitimate question, but I would point out allowing the voters to choose their elected officials isn’t exactly an unheard of practice in a democracy.

  13. - Aaron B - Monday, May 13, 24 @ 11:08 am:

    The 2023 tax bills (and assessments) aren’t on the website yet but from the Kankakee County GIS site, it appears property assessments in the City of Kankakee rose 14.25% from last year. Our mill rate when down but our actual property taxes appear to be going up about 9% again. If someone in the City of Kankakee just took the normal increases without protesting, assessments have risen by 50% from 2019 to 2023. Of course the mill rate has only gone down by 22% during that time.

  14. - Rahm's Parking Meter - Monday, May 13, 24 @ 12:51 pm:

    I get why Walker took it, but that rep seat will be interesting to fill.

  15. - blue in the burbs - Monday, May 13, 24 @ 5:03 pm:

    @Rahm’s Parking Meter “I get why Walker took it, but that rep seat will be interesting to fill.”

    How so?

    The weighted balance now goes to long-time political staffer Ted Mason, Elk Grove Democrat Committeeman. Mason is one of the nicest guys on the planet. A rarity in politix.

    If PA 103-0586 holds then the seat is free and clear til 2026.

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