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Isabel’s morning briefing

Monday, May 20, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* ICYMI: ‘Only so much to go around’: Spending demands mount as Illinois lawmakers craft budget. SJ-R

    - In addition to addressing legislative priorities, lawmakers’ last week in Springfield before scheduled adjournment will key-in on budget negotiations.
    - The budget priorities for the governor are building off the fiscal progress made during his administration now entering the sixth year in office. Primarily, he said it needs to reflect an economy that is slowing in growth nationwide and statewide.
    - The governor’s request to increase taxes, adding more than $1 billion to the state’s coffers, has been met with “significant enough” resistance from lawmakers. His administration has signaled to department heads to prepare for $800 million in spending cuts.

* Related stories…

Governor Pritzker will give remarks at the Illinois Law Enforcement Medal of Honor Ceremony at 1 pm. Click here to watch.

*** Isabel’s Top Picks ***

* Tribune | 3 women allege grooming, sexual misconduct by former high school teacher and coach: A Tribune review of Till’s case as revealed through public documents and interviews shows multiple missed opportunities by school administrators and teachers to investigate signs of alleged misconduct by the teacher and coach, beginning with Crawford’s complaint in 2002. State law requires school staff to report immediately when “they have reasonable cause to believe that a child known to them in their professional or official capacities” may have been abused.

* WCIA | IDFPR misses deadline to procure new professional licensing system: In the past, the agency has cited their outdated licensing system for delays. To address that, Governor Pritzker signed legislation in December giving the agency ninety days to enter a contract with a vendor to obtain a new one. But that deadline has come and gone. “I obviously am disappointed that we have not yet had a contract inked with regards to getting this processing system up and running so that we can start to dramatically reduce these wait times,” State Rep. Bob Morgan, (D-Deerfield), who sponsored the legislation allowing the agency to procure a new system, said.

* Tribune | Attorney general probing Cook County Health Foundation spending: The request from the AG’s Charitable Trust Bureau earlier this month follows Tribune reporting last month about a potential conflict of interest and spending issues at the nonprofit foundation while it was pursuing an expanded partnership with the county’s public health system. In the process, foundation leaders spent nearly $80,000, entered into contracts and hired attorneys with ties to one of the board’s leaders, at times without the rest of the board’s approval, according to a memo prepared for the board by the law firm Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila.

*** Statewide ***

* Tribune | Law enforcement leaders eye therapy dogs as potential boost to officer mental health: The Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board, which manages professional development and quality control for police departments across the state, recently acquired its first therapy dog. Board Chair Sean Smoot said he’d witnessed how animal therapy helped officers in other big-city departments such as Baltimore after they’d responded to traumatic incidents and hopes the board’s program will have a similar impact.

* Tribune | Landfill study shows flawed detection methods, higher methane emissions in Illinois, other states: Released Thursday by the environmental nonprofit Industrious Labs, the study is the most recent of several reports that show landfill operators are likely understating their annual emissions to the federal government as major methane leaks go unnoticed. A Harvard study using satellite data released earlier this month found emissions at landfills across the country in 2019 were 51% higher than EPA estimates for that year. A study published in March in the journal Science used airborne surveys and found emissions between 2016 and 2022 to be even higher.

*** Chicago ***

* Tribune | Miscommunication in migrant shelters leads to confusion and worry : When city officials announced the looming eviction day, it set off a wave of worry and panic among people living in the shelters. Many come with little means, can’t work legally, don’t have family in Chicago and don’t know where to go. Dozens of migrants interviewed by the Tribune at four migrant shelters around the city say they are unclear about where they will live and what will happen to them on the day of the deadline.

* NYT | Protesters Stormed an Ex-Senator’s Office and Demanded She Leave. She Refused: Ms. Heitkamp, the director of the institute and the only staff member left in the building, refused to go, slowing what had apparently been an effort to take over the building, the latest tactic in demonstrations over the Israel-Hamas war that have taken place on the University of Chicago campus and across the country.  “They desperately wanted me out,” Ms. Heitkamp recalled. “I told them, ‘I’m not going to leave. This is our building.’ And I planted my feet.” She added, “I’m a stubborn old woman.”Ms. Heitkamp, who represented North Dakota as a Democrat in the Senate, said she tried to engage in a dialogue with the protesters about their goals and why they had targeted the institute, even as she heard others smashing furniture in other rooms.  “I was trying to find common ground,” she said. “They kept saying, ‘Aren’t you worried about your safety?’”  The confrontation ended, she said, when campus police officers suddenly arrived and some protesters, who had brought a supply of bagels and water to last for an extended period, fled out of windows.

* Sun-Times | Bears season-ticket holders feel blitzed by steep price increases: Bears fan Mike P. from Downers Grove loves his season tickets in section 320 at Soldier Field, but this season, the cost to attend a game has jumped by nearly 50% for him to watch from the same spot he has sat in for years. “I gotta be honest with you, I wasn’t happy,” said Mike.

* Block Club | Maxwell Street Market Moving To ‘Original Home’ After 15 Years In South Loop: City officials are moving the famed Maxwell Street Market back to where it began near the University of Illinois Chicago and away from a Downtown landing zone for migrants arriving in the city. The open-air market at Desplaines and Polk streets will relocate to Maxwell Street between Halsted Street and Union Avenue near UIC; vendors will also be located on Union Avenue between Rochford and Liberty streets. The city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events announced the news Thursday.

* Tribune | Tribune press operators say goodbye to an era as Freedom Center makes its final run: On Saturday, the Freedom Center printed its final edition of the Chicago Tribune before facing a demolition deadline and planned redevelopment into a casino. Tribune Publishing is shifting printing operations to the northwest suburban Daily Herald plant, which it purchased in May 2023. For dozens of production workers, some of whom spent decades tending to 10 massive Goss Metroliner offset presses churning out upward of a million copies of the Tribune and other newspapers each day, their Freedom Center career was filled with sacrifice, camaraderie and by its nature, countless sleepless nights.

* NBC Chicago | Museum of Science and Industry debuts new name in honor of Ken Griffin’s donation: Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry officially changed its name to the Kenneth C. Griffin Museum of Science and Industry in acknowledgment of a record donation by the billionaire Illinois businessman. Signs on the museum’s grounds in Hyde Park reflected the new name, as did its website and account on X, the social media platform previously known as Twitter. To celebrate, visitors were granted free admission on Sunday.

*** Cook County and Suburbs ***

* Shaw Local | Joliet attorney raises constitutional challenge to Illinois civil forfeiture: A Joliet attorney seeks to have an Illinois civil forfeiture law declared unconstitutional under claims that Will County prosecutors are profiting from seized property belonging to people who’ve committed no crimes. The case that led attorney Frank Andreano to request a judge to declare civil asset state forfeiture law unconstitutional involves Almeda Cain, 84, of Richton Park, who owns a 2014 Mazda SUV. […] “They’re taking property away from people who’ve committed no crime,” said Andreano, who said he plans to take Cain’s case to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

* Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Sade Robinson’s mom wants Waukegan alderman “reprimanded” for social media post: Family members grieving the murder of Sade Robinson were disgusted to see a social media post from a Waukegan alderman that included a photograph of a human arm found on the Illinois shoreline, Robinson’s mother Sheena Scarbrough told the Journal Sentinel. “I respectfully want him held accountable,” Scarbrough said in reference to Waukegan Alderman Keith Turner. “I want him reprimanded.” She voiced frustration that a “professional person” would post something like that.

* Aurora Beacon-News | After estimates say city lost population, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin says he is ‘thoroughly disgusted’ with U.S. Census Bureau: Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin said Friday he is “thoroughly disgusted and ultimately dismayed with the U.S. Census Bureau” and its population estimates through the past three years. “The gravity of this situation” cannot be overstated, he said. “I am calling on the U.S. Census Bureau to be a more responsible and professional partner in this process.”

* WTTW | ‘We Were Not Dropping Acid’: The Story Behind the Making of DuPage Forest Preserve’s Viral Cicada Video: The brainchild of staff at the DuPage County forest preserves, this video has nabbed hundreds of thousands of views, tens of thousands of shares and comments, and caught the attention of a certain late-night TV talk show host (more on that in a minute). If you haven’t seen it yet, we’re jealous you get to experience this wonderful weirdness for the first time. Click play, and then read on as Jonathan Mullen, the fellow behind the camera, shares the backstory of this quirky creation.

*** Downstate ***

* SJ-R | Nearly 8,500 Springfield kids eligible for new food assistance program. What to know: A new federally-funded program granting food assistance to families with school children will have major local ramifications, District 186 School Superintendent Jennifer Gill says. State and federal officials announced the approval of the state’s Summer EBT program by the United States Department of Agriculture on May 15, now providing a one-time issuance of $120 per child benefit during the summer months. The program is described as the “first of its kind” in more than 50 years.

* WLOS | Bigfoot legend alive and well at Marion’s 5th WNC Bigfoot Festival: “The best part of the festival is always going to be the food. The vendors here are great, right?” said David Martin, content creator, Squatch Watchers. “The barbeque right behind me is to die for. The food brings me out here but the best part is the interactions with the fans.” “People these days? They talk about it. They are shows on TV that are talking about it. ‘Finding Bigfoot’ did a lot for that, ‘Expedition Bigfoot’ did a lot for that… people come forward to talk about it,” said Rick Reles, vendor.

* News-Gazette | Paxton showing how to revitalize a downtown: Donna Pepper, executive director of Paxton Main Street, perhaps put it best: “For Paxton, it has just fallen together perfectly.” The cooks in this creation are Paxton city government led by Mayor Bill Ingold; investors/developers John and Jeff Grove, as well as Alan Meyer, Casey Blakey and Scott Harden; and numerous business owners who take pride in their properties. Building improvements totaling $3.4 million have been made, according to Pepper, with more than 80 jobs created/retained.

* Rouley & Ruey | Morel Mushroom Hunt: Once a year, for just three to six weeks, morel mushrooms appear, flourish and then quickly disappear in wooded and not-so-wooded areas from southern to northern Illinois. These delectable and rare edible fungi have an earthy, nutty flavor and are highly valued by chefs and everyday cooks nationwide. But finding these delicate mushrooms is the real fun for morel hunters from the east coast to the Midwest, where they’re most plentiful. Passionate morel hunters get out, mesh bags in hand, at the first sign of mushrooms in their area. They keep their favorite spots a secret, compare successes, use pronouns to refer to mushrooms and exchange recipes and hunting stories as the season hits its peak. Call it a short frenzy of morel madness.


  1. - H-W - Monday, May 20, 24 @ 9:07 am:

    Re: Shaw Local story on civil forfeiture

    This practice is morally (if not legally) unjustifiable. It creates a motive for law enforcement to pursue property by means other citizens are not allowed to pursue (e.g., the taking and keeping of property from others).

    Life, liberty and “the pursuit of happiness” as articulated in the Declaration was an argument for unalienable rights of citizens to pursue property through free labor, in return for the happiness that labor is supposed to allow. As arbiters and enforcers of the law, agents and agencies of “the state” should not be entitled to violate what in any other circumstance would be treated as theft.

    I am often amazed to learn that many of the super-charged sheriff vehicles I see are the result of civil forfeiture, not, government purchases.

    The moral (and righteous?) thing to do with property that is seized would be to hold such property until a determination of guilt (and reparation) is determined. After that, the sale of property (rather than the keeping of property) would allow the state agencies to return those monies to the coffers of the state and community, for the common good. As it stands, the common good is treated as secondary to the desires of law enforcement agencies. It is simply an immoral proposition for the agents of power to serve their own interests above the common good that are supposed to serve.

  2. - low level - Monday, May 20, 24 @ 9:12 am:

    The Bears didnt come to start any trouble
    They just came to do the season ticket shuffle

    If you want change, stop buying tickets and boycott the Bears

  3. - Rahm's Parking Meter - Monday, May 20, 24 @ 9:25 am:

    Once again, Mayor Johnson allows lawlessness at U of C and does nothing Friday night about it. Get’s condemned by ADL and JUF, doesn’t care.. He is really on thin ice…

    He is not up for the job.

  4. - TJ - Monday, May 20, 24 @ 11:31 am:

    RE Bigfoot…

    A webcomic called XKCD put it best when it came to cryptids, the paranormal, etc. These have all been, more or less, very quietly proven false by cellphones. 25+ years ago, almost nobody had a camera on them at any given moment, and yet we still got occasional grainy photos and videos of them. Fast forward to today, when basically every single person has a high-quality camera with video functionality on them at all times, and yet we’ve somehow not seen an absolute explosion in the quality and quantity of documentable sightings?

    Almost as if cryptids and ghosts don’t actually exist…

    But hey, glad Marion can have fun with that.

  5. - Blitz - Monday, May 20, 24 @ 12:38 pm:

    XKCD, man that brings back memories. Highly recommend his What If books for the science curious that love weird mental exercises.

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