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Isabel’s afternoon roundup

Friday, May 17, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Capitol News Illinois

While the governor’s office instructed its agency directors to prepare for $800 million in potential budget cuts last week, all facets of his plan to raise $1.1 billion in revenue to avoid those cuts remain under consideration.

Deputy Gov. Andy Manar relayed that point on the latest episode of “Illinois Lawmakers” this week, adding that the administration is also open to ideas from lawmakers. The program has been recently acquired by Capitol News Illinois and filmed this week on Thursday.

“The governor has said that if the legislature doesn’t support one or multiple of those individual pieces of his proposal, whether that’s revenue or spending, that all ideas should be welcomed,” Manar told host Jak Tichenor.

There’s a week left before the General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn on May 24 – and two weeks left before more votes are needed to pass an immediately effective budget – but the last-minute budgeting process is nothing new. Budget negotiations in recent years have resulted in late nights and the occasional overtime session but have ultimately ended in agreement among most Democrats, who control the legislature.

* Brenden Moore

*** Statewide ***

* Kate Maher | A new program helps Illinois farmers and hungry families — but only if we fund it: At a time when the demand for food assistance throughout Cook County has increased 26% over first-quarter 2023, Farm to Food Bank is a critical program that gets quality produce, meats, dairy and other products into the hands of families struggling to put food on the table. But Farm to Food Bank is more than an anti-hunger program. It also provides new economic opportunities for Illinois growers, producers, processors and distributors. All of these benefits hinge on a General Assembly vote next week to dedicate funds to the Farm to Food Bank Program in the state budget. Funding this program isn’t just common sense, it’s essential.

* CBS | Illinois Department of Public Health reports first 2 mosquito batches of 2024 to test positive for West Nile Virus: Two batches of mosquitoes in Illinois have tested positive for West Nile Virus for the first time this year, the Illinois Department of Health announced on Friday. The Northwest Mosquito Abatement District collected the first batch of mosquitoes in Hoffman Estates, Cook County, on Tuesday. A second batch was found in Jacksonville, Morgan County, on Thursday. The department said the batches follow a mild winter and spring, with the findings coming two weeks earlier than last year.

* Chalkbeat | Illinois high school juniors must take the ACT to fulfill graduation requirements starting next spring: The Illinois State Board of Education was updated on the switch during its monthly meeting on Wednesday. A spokesperson for the school board says the ACT was awarded a $53 million contract over the course of six years. The state requires students to take a college entrance exam in order to graduate. “At the end of the day, it came down to price,” said Stephen Isoye, chairman of the State Board of Education, noting that state law requires assessment vendors to go through a competitive procurement process.

* ABC Chicago | How Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi became a major player on Capitol Hill: Since taking his seat in the House of Representative, he has taken part in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trials in 2019 and 2020 as a member of the Oversight and Intelligence Committee. And he was in the Capitol on January 6, 2021, when insurgents stormed the building. He says there’s not quite as much rancor on Capitol Hill as people see. “A little bit less. I think that when people are off camera, I think they’re much more candid,” he said.

* NBC Chicago | Organization calls for emerging cicadas to be ‘celebrated, not vilified’: The two emerging broods are Brood XIII and Brood XIX, which haven’t emerged simultaneously in 221 years. While the cicadas will cause plenty of noise and leave behind plenty of shells, they can actually be beneficial in more ways than one. According to American Humane, the cicadas are “essential” to habitats, and provide benefits to ecosystems across the Midwest. Those benefits can include natural aeration of soil, with cicadas tunneling and burrowing opening up channels for air, water and nutrients to reach the roots of plants.

*** Chicago ***

* South Side Weekly | CPD Stats on ShotSpotter Full of Holes, Experts Say: The CPD report also includes data on the number of gunshots that CPD reported were missed by ShotSpotter sensors. The company’s contract requires ShotSpotter to detect at least 90 percent of unsuppressed outdoor gunfire in the twelve police districts that make up its coverage area. The police department is also required to report verified gunfire incidents for which there was no ShotSpotter alert to the company, via an online portal and email. According to the CPD report, the department reported 205 misses to ShotSpotter in 2023, a year that had 43,503 ShotSpotter alerts.

* Tribune | Morgan Park man continues search for daughter who’s been missing for over a month: Morgan Farley, 25, has been missing since April 3, according to Chicago police, and her dad says he’s relying on friends and prayer to hopefully bring her home, a situation that’s all too familiar for families of Black and brown women and girls in the city. […] However, Farley struggled to get attention from police on the case, as first reported in Capital B News. He said it took more than a week to get ahold of the assigned detective after filling out a missing persons report on April 3. The Police Department posted a flyer on April 16. Although Farley said he knows police have a lot of people to worry about, the process seemed “very slow and drawn out.”

* Block Club | Former Loretto Hospital Exec Charged With Embezzling $500K During COVID Crisis: Heather Bergdahl, 37, has been charged with embezzlement, according to a criminal complaint released Monday. The charges come amid an FBI investigation into Loretto after Block Club Chicago and the Better Government Association revealed questionable practices at the hospital — including funneling vaccine doses meant for the city’s poorest people to places where Chicago’s wealthiest lived and played.

* Sun-Times | Trucks kept backing into NW Side man’s house. Now, City Hall is after him to repair the damage.: Robert Christie wants City Hall to do more to protect his home from errant trucks that find they can’t fit through a nearby underpass. But City Hall went after him recently, citing him for failing to fix the damage the trucks had left. Now, he’s considering selling.

* Block Club | After Coach Suspended For Leaving Student With Relative During Canada Trip, West Siders Rally Around CPS Chess Team: One of Ocol’s students, originally from Peru, did not have the proper identification documents to cross the border. Ocol tried to reason with Canadian border officials, but they weren’t hearing it. […] So the coach said he called the student’s father, who told them he could leave his child overnight with an aunt in nearby Detroit — while the rest of the team journeyed on to the tournament. The school’s principal approved the move, Ocol said. The student’s travel status had not been flagged ahead of time by the school or CPS central offices when Ocol filed his sponsored trip paperwork, he said.

* Crain’s | Major construction at O’Hare won’t start till next year: The Department of Aviation says it will be working this summer to award contracts for excavation and foundation work for the first satellite concourse, but major construction won’t start until the middle of next year. The city expects to sell bonds in the third quarter of this year to fund the next phase of construction, but the amount has not been finalized. A venture involving AECOM Hunt, Clayco and Bowa Construction was designated as the construction manager for the Satellite 1 concourse earlier this year.

* Crain’s | Why a U of I tech founder came home from Silicon Valley to build a company in Fulton Market: Bedrock Materials set up shop in Fulton Market about a month ago. The startup will take its place alongside Nanograf, a Northwestern University battery spinout that’s making lithium-ion cells on the Near West Side. They’re also part of a growing collection of companies related to electric vehicles, including automakers Rivian and Stellantis, bus manufacturer Lion Electric and battery producer Gotion.

* Crain’s | 60 years on, Weigel Broadcasting sticks to the plan: The Chicago-based broadcaster has been a pioneer in the live TV space with expansions and partnerships, while filling a niche that persists even in an era when on-demand media is king. Earlier this month, the company announced its own Channel 26 “The U” as an independent station after Nexstar revealed it would move CW programming to the networks it owns such as WGN-TV. Weigel will also expand its portfolio this summer with the launch of the national network MeTV Toons. The channel is a spinoff of its popular retro Memorable Entertainment TV (MeTV) network that will feature classic cartoons 24/7.

*** The Bears ***

* WBEZ | Bears stadium debate should shift south to Michael Reese site, Civic Federation president says: Bears President Kevin Warren has said the 48.6-acre Michael Reese site — acquired by the city for an Olympic Village that was never built — was one of “10 to 12” Chicago stadium sites the team considered before settling on the lakefront. Warren said the Bears rejected it as “too narrow,” saying it “doesn’t work from an NFL standpoint” because the stadium would have to be built “over an active train line.” The marshaling yards for trucks serving McCormick Place also would have to be relocated, he said. None of those impediments bother Ferguson, the city’s former inspector general.

* Sun-Times | New hope? Why the Bears believe they will succeed where George Lucas failed: That’s not to say the team is ignoring the fight over the Lucas Museum, which effectively ended with a preliminary — but far from final — victory for the advocacy group known as Friends of the Parks. Rather, sources familiar with the proposal say, the team has evaluated three developments that have sparked the most notable lakefront legal battles since 2000, which they think bolster their case for a Museum Campus dome.

*** Cook County and Suburbs ***

* Sun-Times | The shepherd and the flock: ‘Passionate’ Cook County sheriff’s official brings back wayward drug users: Cook County Sheriff’s Deputy Director Jason Hughes has picked up and brought back 71 drug court participants, working with drug court Judge Charles Burns. “We’re determined to get them back,” Hughes says, because otherwise “it’s just a matter of time before they will get on fentanyl and die.”

* Patch | Board Has ‘Many Concerns’ About Golf Property: Northbrook Village Prez: At its latest meeting Tuesday, Village President Kathryn Ciesla read a statement regarding the move, saying the Village Board wasn’t aware of the purchase before it happened. “Had the Village known about this land purchase before its closing, the Village Board would have made the Water Commission aware of its many concerns,” Ciesla said. “Of course, Northbrook’s local government does not have the authority to review, approve, or deny the private sale of property.”

* WSPY | Yorkville City Council okays cost sharing agreement for Lake Michigan water project: The Yorkville City Council on Tuesday approved an agreement with Oswego and Montgomery which lays out what percentage of the Lake Michigan water project each community will finance. Under the agreement, Yorkville will pay a little over 44 percent, Oswego will pay about 32 percent, and Montgomery will pay around 22 percent. Yorkville is paying the most as it is the furthest community from the source.

*** National ***

* VOX | ChatGPT can talk, but OpenAI employees sure can’t: On Monday, OpenAI announced exciting new product news: ChatGPT can now talk like a human. […] But the product release of ChatGPT 4o was quickly overshadowed by much bigger news out of OpenAI: the resignation of the company’s co-founder and chief scientist, Ilya Sutskever, who also led its superalignment team, as well as that of his co-team leader Jan Leike. [..] [Leike’s] resignation message was simply: “I resigned.” After several days of fervent speculation, he expanded on this on Friday morning, explaining that he was worried OpenAI had shifted away from a safety-focused culture.

* AP | Bike shops boomed early in the pandemic. It’s been a bumpy ride for most ever since: The boom didn’t last. Hobbled by pandemic-related supply chain issues, the shops sold all their bikes and had trouble restocking. Now, inventory has caught up, but fewer people need new bikes. So, bicycle makers have been slashing prices to clear out the excess. It all adds up to a tough environment for retailers, although there are a few bright spots like gravel and e-bikes.


  1. - @misterjayem - Friday, May 17, 24 @ 2:51 pm:

    “New hope? Why the Bears believe they will succeed where George Lucas failed”

    The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art?

    Now, that is a name I haven’t heard in a long time. A long time.

    – MrJM

  2. - NonAFSCMEStateEmployeeFromChatham - Friday, May 17, 24 @ 3:35 pm:

    If Sinclair sticks with their plan to sell many of their stations, I know of a station they own in Peoria that Weigel could gobble up and instead put MeTV, MeToo, MeTV Toons, etc. all on it instead of Sinclair’s netlets.

  3. - Rudy’s teeth - Friday, May 17, 24 @ 3:39 pm:

    Do the folks at the Bears including Kevin Warren realize that Millennium Park was built over an underground parking structure built on top of Metra/Illinois Central tracks in Grant Park?

    The city is full of architectural firms that can certainly make another site work—-just not on the lakefront.

  4. - Six Degrees of Separation - Friday, May 17, 24 @ 3:50 pm:

    Good to know Oswego Willy and his neighbors will continue to be in the drink with a new hookup to that Lake Michigan water.

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