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Isabel’s morning briefing

Wednesday, May 15, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* ICYMI: Why has Mayor Brandon Johnson resisted demands to fire CTA President Dorval Carter Jr.? Sun-Times

    - Carter has delivered on the promise then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel made in 2015 — that Carter would win federal funding for major projects. But he has failed at day-to-day operations and customer service, mass transit experts say.
    - Nearly half the City Council wants the embattled CTA president to resign his $376,000-a-year job or be fired by Mayor Brandon Johnson.
    - “The money for the Red Line is probably one of the leading factors.” Johnson has stuck with Carter said veteran political consultant Delmarie Cobb.

* Related stories…

*** Isabel’s top picks ***

* Capitol News Illinois | House OKs program for student teacher stipends – but not the funding for it: House Bill 4652, by Rep. Barbara Hernandez, D-Aurora, authorizes the Illinois Board of Higher Education to disburse stipends of $10,000 per semester to student teachers working in public schools. That’s the rough equivalent of $15 an hour, based on a standard 40-hour work week. It also authorizes stipends of $2,000 per semester to the teachers who supervise them. But the authority to disburse those funds would be subject to appropriations. And with an estimated annual cost of $68 million to fully fund the program, Hernandez conceded it is unlikely such funding will be included in the budget for the upcoming fiscal year that lawmakers are currently negotiating.

* Capitol News Illinois | Illinois Supreme Court considers expectation of privacy in hospitals: While Cortez Turner was in a hospital room being treated for a gunshot wound to his leg in 2016, police took his clothes. Now, the Illinois Supreme Court is weighing whether that action violated Turner’s expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment. The arguments in the case were among several heard by the high court Tuesday, including a case that could change how police handle certain firearms possession violations.

*** Statewide ***

* SJ-R | Illinois voters’ information partially removed by right-wing outlet following judge order: Included on its 20 websites statewide, Local Government Information Services, Inc., has published a series of stories detailing voters’ names, date of birth, home address and whether or not they voted in the 2020 Presidential Election. The articles are still online but with several changes, now showing birth year instead of birthdate and street name instead of home address.

* WQAD | More than $20 million returned to Illinois residents by the State Treasurer: According to a press release, during Frerichs’ time in office, The Illinois State treasurer’s Office has returned nearly $2 billion in unclaimed properties. The Illinois State Treasurer’s Office recommends that people check for missing money at least twice a year. Click here to check if missing money is waiting for you.

* WGN | Illinois is the ‘most normal’ state in the U.S., new study shows: Recently, the Washington Post used U.S. Census data to determine which U.S. state best represents “normal” America as a whole. […] Illinois most resembled America as a whole based on its population’s racial makeup, broken down into percentages of white, Hispanic, Black, Asian, and Native American residents. The state of Connecticut ranked second behind Illinois, with a racial makeup index score of 98.7 based on Census data.

*** Chicago ***

* Block Club | A Better, Stronger, Safer Chicago? Mayor Brandon Johnson’s First Year: In the lead-up to the anniversary, Block Club reviewed Johnson’s major campaign promises and compared them to his legislative record and management of the city to see if he has served as the mayor he told Chicagoans he’d be. Where is the police department in promoting 200 new detectives, a frequent campaign pledge that Johnson said would begin on day one of his term? Has service and safety improved on the CTA like he promised? Have affordable housing projects and key neighborhood developments broken ground and expanded? Are Chicago children receiving a better education than they were a year ago?

* WBEZ | Chicagoans give CPS a ‘C,’ say students are not learning enough: Despite years of trying to convince Chicagoans that public school students here are making remarkable academic progress, most residents give the schools a grade of C and say students are not learning enough. That’s according to a poll released Tuesday by Public Agenda, a nonpartisan research organization. WBEZ and the Sun-Times collaborated with Public Agenda and the Joyce Foundation, which funded the project.

* Crain’s | Cutting teen unemployment key to lowering Chicago crime rate, study suggests: Young minority Chicagoans were particularly clobbered economically by COVID-19, and their recovery since has been mixed at best, a reality that all of the city is dealing with. So says a new report published today that uses U.S. Census Bureau data to conclude Latino and especially Black Chicago teens and young adults had stunningly high unemployment rates during and after the pandemic — worsening a historic economic gap between the North Side and the South and West sides — and then posits a possible connection between that and soaring COVID-era crime rates.

* WBEZ | Chicago Ethics Board wants fines and suspensions for lobbyists who give money to mayoral candidates: The board unanimously recommended Monday that the City Council update the ethics ordinance to give enforcement teeth to former Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2011 executive order that bars lobbyists from donating to a mayor’s political committees. The proposed changes would allow the board to issue a fine three times the amount of a lobbyist’s improper contribution — regardless of whether it was returned — on the first violation. That could escalate to a 90-day suspension of a lobbyist’s registration for any additional violations. The enhanced penalties would extend to entities that a lobbyist has more than 1% ownership in, such as an LLC, and apply to donations made to mayoral candidates — not just the mayor.

* WBEZ | A Chicago woman who helps migrants fights for a chance to stay in the United States: Most mornings, Luisette Kraal directs volunteers via walkie talkie. She makes sure newly arrived migrants line up and wait their turn to receive pants and jackets from the free clothing store she co-founded with her husband in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. Other times, Kraal is on her phone arranging furniture deliveries or helping migrants communicate with their landlords. Or she is teaching families how to use public transportation in their new city or inviting them to church dinners.

* Crain’s | NASCAR is no Lollapalooza — but it sort of wants to be: The Black Keys are no stranger to performing in Grant Park. Lollapalooza long made a habit out of booking the American rock duo. They played at the debut Chicago festival in 2005; performed again in 2007, 2008 and 2010; and headlined their most recent year in 2012. After a 12-year hiatus, the “Lonely Boy” stars are returning to Chicago’s front yard this summer — but instead of performing at Lollapalooza in August, they will be one of four headliners taking the main stage at the NASCAR Chicago Street Race this Fourth of July weekend.

*** Cook County and Suburbs ***

* Daily Southtown | Dolton trustees approve temporary mayor position, act on garbage pickup payments: Dolton trustees have named a fill-in replacement for Mayor Tiffany Henyard as a “precautionary measure” in the event she is absent from a meeting or otherwise unable to fill her duties, according to Trustee Jason House. The appointment of House to serve as mayor pro tem came at a special Village Board meeting held Monday at a village park district building. Henyard did not attend the meeting.

* Daily Herald | ‘So much time and work and imagination’: Improvements at Lake County’s largest forest preserve taking shape: “I don’t think most people have any idea what goes into transforming this forest preserve,” Commissioner Marah Altenberg said after one of the updates. “It is so much time and work and imagination.” Lakewood improvements involve three separate but related aspects: net-zero maintenance facility; new and rebuilt interior roads, parking lots and toilets for circulation and accessibility; and a nature play area offering varied experiences.

* News-Sun | Waukegan casino’s owner reports record earnings: ‘We look forward to continued growth at American Place’: Producing a 39.6% earnings increase over the first quarter of last year, Full House President and CEO Daniel R. Lee said in a press release the effort was “led by American Place.” It included a best-ever February, topping it in March after opening Feb. 17, 2023. Full House increased its earnings from $50.1 million for the first quarter of 2023 to $69.9 million in the first three months of this year, according to the release. American Place brought in $25.8 million of the total.

* Rock River Current | Hard Rock Casino Rockford Revenue Up 11% In First Four Months Of 2024: The casino’s first four months of 2024 included a record $6.58 million from gamblers in March, followed by $6.24 million in April. Gamblers lost a total $24.6 million through April, up from $22.2 million a year ago and $16.8 million in 2022.

*** Downstate ***

* KWQC | Illinois AG intervenes into Rock Island-Milan school district FOIA requests: A private resident and TV6 Investigates both filed requests to see emails regarding a controversial new deputy superintendent job. […] “Rock Island - Milan School District received a letter from the AG Office’s Public Access Bureau on May 3 requesting more information on our FOIA response process, to be provided within 7 business days. The district is currently working with its attorneys to meet that request in a timely manner.

* WSIL | Ferrell Hospital CEO says it could take up to six weeks before Hospital re-opens: Ferrell Hospital in Eldorado remains closed days after heavy rains caused the drainage system to overflow and flood major parts of the hospital. “After we had the water recede and we could take a look at things, we brought in a restoration company that specializes in this type of cleanup and this type of work,” said Ferrell Hospital CEO Tony Keene.

*** National ***

* NYT | Few Chinese Electric Cars Are Sold in U.S., but Industry Fears a Flood: The Biden administration’s new tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles won’t have a huge immediate impact on American consumers or the car market because very few such cars are sold in the United States. But the decision reflects deep concern within the American automotive industry, which has grown increasingly worried about China’s ability to churn out cheap electric vehicles. American automakers welcomed the decision by the Biden administration on Tuesday to impose a 100 percent tariff on electric vehicles from China, saying those vehicles would undercut billions of dollars of investment in electric vehicle and battery factories in the United States.

Isabel- Still a bit under the weather but feeling much better today!


  1. - Central IL Centrist - Wednesday, May 15, 24 @ 8:05 am:

    Thanks for the briefing, Isabella. Get well, we’re looking forward to more your stellar coverage.

  2. - Red headed step child - Wednesday, May 15, 24 @ 8:24 am:

    Cta= pensionable job…367k= big pension with 3% cola…do the math. Hes making double what governor pays…

  3. - Bruce( no not him) - Wednesday, May 15, 24 @ 8:43 am:

    Illinois is the ‘most normal’ state in the U.S….
    I resent that.
    We should try hard NOT to be normal.

  4. - Amalia - Wednesday, May 15, 24 @ 8:58 am:

    Isabel- glad you are doing better. Your format for the briefings, most helpful. thanks for helping us think things through more easily. Hope today goes well for you.

  5. - Chicago Voter - Wednesday, May 15, 24 @ 9:00 am:

    Really enjoy the breakdown of your briefing and the headings.

    Happy to see you’re on the upswing, take care of yourself!

  6. - JoanP - Wednesday, May 15, 24 @ 9:02 am:

    Isabel, I recommend chicken soup. Glad you’re feeling better.

  7. - Name Withheld - Wednesday, May 15, 24 @ 9:04 am:

    Yay! Isabel is on the upward swing!

  8. - Just Me 2 - Wednesday, May 15, 24 @ 9:13 am:

    I honestly don’t understand those that want Carter fired. Do they think his departure comes with buckets of free money or something?

  9. - Long Time Independent - Wednesday, May 15, 24 @ 9:38 am:

    The Treasurer’s office might have returned 2 billion but the process is terrible. I had one business closed in 1988 they have $480 and two more one in 2002 and another in 2004 they holding $2,100 combined. They want tax records, proof business is closed and documentation that no money is owed to other people. So who has records that are 36 years old in one case and 22 in the other? I gave up trying the whole thing is a PR stunt with next to impossible criteria to meet.

  10. - Carol Taylor - Wednesday, May 15, 24 @ 9:42 am:

    It was shameful Kemper Insurance and others were not making Death payments to Estates and heirs when they knew people had died. However take with a teaspoon of salt the Treasury is returning million of lost dollars. I had thousands of stock transferred to the Treasurer by CompuServe where my dividends were being reinvested. I received four quarterly statements and an annual income tax Statement. Then I get what looked like junk mail wanting me to contact them and register on their website. I didn’t want emailed statements so I ignored it. So the Treasurer held my stock for a year with four quarters not being invested in thousands of dollars of stock despite being a retired State employee living in the same home for 30 years with my same phone number listed in the White pages. This resulted in three hours of time to dig through my papers, go to the bank for Notary Service, to the library to make photocopies and post office to send it registered mail. Then of course I had to file amended tax returns. This was discussed in Committee that if mail wasn’t being returned asset transfers should not be forced but Frerichs wanted to build a bureaucracy. This needs changed. Ruined an afternoon to file paper to get my assets back and a morning to redo my Federal and State tax returns.

  11. - TJ - Wednesday, May 15, 24 @ 9:56 am:

    The idea that there isn’t an expectation for privacy in a hospital is absurd to me. How is that not a blatantly obvious doctor-patient confidentiality extension? Obviously, not speaking about a situation where someone is yapping in a waiting room, but if hospital staff removes clothes or other possessions from a patient to undergo treatment, there’s a fundamental understanding that the hospital is holding on to that and then will give it back to them.

  12. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, May 15, 24 @ 10:29 am:

    ===We should try hard NOT to be normal.===

    I wonder if Normal is the normalest town in the normalest state. Or if it is out of the norm.

  13. - supplied_demand - Wednesday, May 15, 24 @ 10:43 am:

    ==I honestly don’t understand those that want Carter fired.==

    They’ve been pretty clear, day-to-day operations of the CTA have deteriorated under his watch. It doesn’t have anything to do with “free money”, whatever that means. The system needs to be more reliable.

  14. - Oldtimer - Wednesday, May 15, 24 @ 10:46 am:

    A disturbing story in today’s Illinois Times on the lack of support by District 186 administration and at least one school board member for teachers at Grant MS over behavior and discipline issues. I recommend anyone thinking about going into teaching to read this first as a cautionary story. The story contains a quote from a student email to a teacher over a grade that was so disturbing it should have been forwarded to the police. No action was taken by the school over it.

  15. - Leap Day William - Wednesday, May 15, 24 @ 10:55 am:

    I honestly love both the articles being grouped geographically and validation of my belief that “downstate” is anything that is either south of I-80 *or* west of I-39.

  16. - Suburban Mom - Wednesday, May 15, 24 @ 10:57 am:

    ===Cutting teen unemployment key to lowering Chicago crime rate, study suggests===

    I think about this a lot, although more on the casual employment side, how nobody hires neighborhood teenagers to babysit or mow the lawn or pet-sit anymore. I think we’ve not only taken away a useful activity from teenagers, that helps reduce crime, but we’ve done a lot of damage to our community bonds and to how we teach responsibility and independence to kids.

    Because let’s face it, hiring a 13-year-old to mow your lawn is as much about “I want to give you, neighbor kid, some experience of responsibility by doing a job reasonably well for cash” as it is about getting your lawn mowed. You could do it yourself for free, or hire a service for better quality. But it’s how kids learn, and it’s how they build bonds in their community outside schools. I worry about how we’ve lost a lot of that.

  17. - @misterjayem - Wednesday, May 15, 24 @ 10:58 am:

    So glad your feeling better.

    [scrolls back up to actually read your work]

    – MrJM

  18. - ChicagoBars - Wednesday, May 15, 24 @ 11:06 am:

    ==I honestly don’t understand those that want Carter fired. Do they think his departure comes with buckets of free money or something?==

    Nobody pushing for it thinks that at all. Most of us think it’s been three years of reduced and spotty service, falling station cleanliness, and near total brushing off of rider concerns about that.

    And that was done with very full Federal funding for operations due to Covid. Why would any actual user of the system except current leadership to get better at this point?

  19. - Larry Bowa Jr. - Wednesday, May 15, 24 @ 11:11 am:

    “I honestly don’t understand those that want Carter fired. Do they think his departure comes with buckets of free money or something?”

    I’d like to see him replaced because while CTA has been slowly declining in quality for the 20+ years I’ve been riding it, the last few years have seen an huge amount of money dumped into it (that the agency will never see again) while it just inexplicably continues to get worse. Absurd gaps between trains, ghost buses, filthy, no security, no reliability.
    And just generally maybe it’s time to start treating CTA as something other than a dumping ground for the dumbest connected people in the city. The non-reverends out here need it to get to work. Some of the tourists still try to ride it.

  20. - @misterjayem - Wednesday, May 15, 24 @ 11:26 am:

    “Why has Mayor Brandon Johnson resisted demands to fire CTA President Dorval Carter Jr.?”

    Hanging in to Dorval Carter because of money he found for the Red Line extension and Red Line/Purple Line modernization reminds me of the misguided thinking about IDOC’ downstate prisons, i.e. making the agency’s central function secondary to local jobs and construction work.

    Both agencies’ mission statements are available on their websites and neither mentions “new construction” or “job creation.”

    Of course jobs are important — but when a government agency doesn’t deliver on its central mission — “We deliver quality, affordable transit services that link people, jobs and communities.” — it’s leadership is failing.

    – MrJM

  21. - RNUG - Wednesday, May 15, 24 @ 11:28 am:

    == The Treasurer’s office ==

    We’re in the process of claiming some insurance proceeds. It hasn’t been very long, but they do require a bunch of paperwork. I kind of understand that in that they want to be sure the funds go to the correct person.

    What I don’t understand is why the insurance company couldn’t find us. We’ve been at a total of 2 addresses the past 40 years.

  22. - RNUG - Wednesday, May 15, 24 @ 11:30 am:

    == Why has Mayor Brandon Johnson resisted ==

    If his connections for Federal funding are that valuable, I understand wanting to keep him around. But if he’s that poor at day to day operations, why isn’t there a competent 2nd in command to handle that part of the job?

  23. - Anyone Remember - Wednesday, May 15, 24 @ 11:37 am:

    Oldtimer - Thank you for referral. As bad as the situation is, the comments by the school board member are far worse.

  24. - Rudy’s teeth - Wednesday, May 15, 24 @ 11:57 am:

    The concept of providing teachers a stipend for supervising student teachers is needed. The $2000 per semester is a joke. That equates to $3 and change per hour over a 6 hour per day semester.

    During the semester, a student teacher graded papers and placed a number for credit on each paper. I asked where are the notations for syntax errors, punctuation, grammar, verb tense, comma splices and spelling errors. Sat with the student teacher after school and over several days reviewed 150 papers to explain the process of grading compositions.

    Glad you’re back Isabel. Take good care; we missed you.

  25. - Scooter - Wednesday, May 15, 24 @ 1:29 pm:

    “But if he’s that poor at day to day operations, why isn’t there a competent 2nd in command to handle that part of the job?”

    Carter needs to go, but there’s a cadre of C-suite people right under him who need to follow him out the door. CTA has implemented a lot of big decisions over the years which in retrospect have proven to be detrimental in the long term. (Elimination of conductors on its trains in the early 90s comes to mind as an example)

    Problem is that many top level administrators at CTA have never worked anywhere else and won’t revisit those decisions, because doing so would apparently be admitting that they (or CTA management in general) were previously wrong. I’ve seen some names of current CTA division chiefs suggested as a possible interim President until a more permanent person can be hired in that role; my question is, what good would that do? All evidence points to Carter being complacent with the CTA’s current C-suite, and vice versa.

  26. - @misterjayem - Wednesday, May 15, 24 @ 1:37 pm:

    “If his connections for Federal funding are that valuable, I understand wanting to keep him around.”

    I agree that the ability to get federal funds is an important tool in a CTA chief’s toolbox, but I see little evidence that this CTA chief possesses any of the other tools.

    – MrJM

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