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Isabel’s afternoon roundup

Monday, Jun 17, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Chip Mitchell at WBEZ

Over the past two years, the city of Chicago has struggled to care for destitute migrants arriving from the southern border. The majority, around 30,000, are from Venezuela, a South American country whose economy has collapsed.

But the number of Venezuelans in Chicago hardly compares to how many have migrated over the past decade to neighboring Colombia. Bogotá alone, the capital, has received more than 600,000.

This spring, I flew to Colombia to see how that smaller and less prosperous country has handled its Venezuelan influx. In Bogotá and Cúcuta, the largest Colombian city along the Venezuelan border, I interviewed more than 30 migrants and public officials, humanitarian leaders and scholars, most of them in Spanish. I also asked dozens of regular Colombians for their views on the migrant tide.

I found that Colombia initially rolled out the welcome mat and, by many measures, absorbed this population with little harm and many benefits. Nearly 1.9 million Venezuelans gained paths to formal employment as well as Colombia’s education and health care systems.

* Sun-Times

Kimberly Brown showed up early Monday morning to submit the signatures she collected to run for Chicago’s school board in District 4 — so early that the doors were closed and windows were covered with brown paper. […]

When the doors eventually opened, Brown was first in line among a couple dozen hopefuls who filed their nomination petitions with city election officials in the Loop for the official kickoff to the first-ever Chicago school board races.

Prospective candidates took turns presenting their piles of papers for counting; officials had to confirm at least 1,000 signatures before they could be submitted. Candidates have until 5 p.m. next Monday to file.

Some spoke with representatives from various special interest groups who were there observing, like the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, Chicago Teachers Union and Leadership with Educational Equity. Others soaked in the moment with family and friends.

* Sun-Times

As chairman of the Illinois Senate’s Insurance Committee, state Sen. Napoleon Harris III is a gatekeeper on legislation affecting the multibillion-dollar insurance industry.

Now the Flossmoor Democrat, a former NFL player, has joined the industry he’s helping to regulate — partnering with two men who run an insurance brokerage called the Maxx Group in the southwest suburbs, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned. […]

[Sen. Harris’ committee] and the rest of the General Assembly recently backed a series of consumer-friendly industry reforms pushed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, including banning what are called “short-term, limited duration” health insurance policies. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, such policies are “designed to fill temporary gaps in coverage when an individual is transitioning from one source of coverage to another,” and generally are not “subject to the consumer protections.” […]

John Patterson, a spokesman for Illinois Senate President Don Harmon, the Oak Park Democrat who has also accepted campaign donations from the insurance industry, says Harris “has shown himself to be a knowledgeable, independent voice and has fostered conversations in the Insurance Committee that have led to pragmatic solutions that work.”

* Politico

Maurice “Mo” Green, the senior director for civic and community engagement with the Democratic National Convention’s host committee, says efforts are on track to get all 12,000 volunteers needed to put on the convention in August.

“Within 14 days, we’ve had 6,000 applications completed,” he told Playbook. Applications are coming from senior citizens and young people from 16 to 24 years old. “And we’re getting a good amount of folks who are just really sort of nerdy about politics. Folks who want to see their political hero or political star,” Green said, ticking off “AOC, Cory Booker and Delia Ramirez” as some of the notables mentioned.

What they’ll be doing: Green says volunteers will be assigned to hotels, the United Center and McCormick Place, where they’ll be being “walking and talking billboards,” recommending where people can go and what they can do in Chicago.

*** Statehouse News ***

* Investigate Midwest | As Illinois session ends, lawmakers’ attempt to reinstate wetland protections fails: An Illinois bill, SB 771, or the Wetlands Protection Act, that would have reinstated those protections in the state passed in committee, but failed to make it to the chamber floors of the General Assembly. The bill will be considered again during the veto session this fall. “We’re definitely disappointed the legislature didn’t act right away,” said Jennifer Walling, executive director for the Illinois Environmental Council. “They need to. This is an election issue, and we could be in even worse shape with a different president.”

*** Statewide ***

* Crain’s | Illinois is poised to become the country’s quantum computing hub: After strategic early investments in the emerging technology, Illinois is poised to become the country’s quantum computing hub — with Gov. J.B. Pritzker and partners like Intersect Illinois, P33 and others leading the charge. John Atkinson, chairman of Intersect Illinois, and Meera Raja, VP of deep tech at P33, help break down how the state remains at the forefront.

* Business Insider | During summer my family moves from New York City to Illinois. Summer camp is more affordable there: My niece was sampling a wide variety of Parks Department camps — from filmmaking to STEAM to gymnastics to nature exploration, trying something new each week. In New York, such special-interest camps carry the price tag of a semester of college and require an hour of subway commuting for those of us who don’t live in midtown Manhattan. But in Illinois, a five to minute drive could take you to a butterfly farm program, a graphic novel workshop, a cabaret camp — you name it. For half-day programs in my sister’s town, the rates are $100 a week, and non-residents pay $130. Anyone living outside town, whether 10 minutes away or halfway across the country, pays the slightly elevated fee. For a full-day program, the price increases to about $200 (residents) or $230 (nonresidents) a week.

*** Chicago ***

* Bond Buyer | Lawmakers urge new path forward for transit agencies: Transit agencies across the country are being forced to deal with new trends in ridership, new travel patterns, and dwindling federal funds from pandemic- related relief that make the next few years crucial for bringing our nation’s transit system into the new world.

* Block Club | Construction 12 Hours, 7 Days A Week: Here’s What To Expect From Freedom Center Demolition: In May, after 43 years in operation, the Freedom Center printed its last issue of the Tribune. The newspaper company will finish vacating the building next month. Bally’s Casino has five demolition permits for the Freedom Center under review, one for each structure on the property. The demolition of the Freedom Center has been categorized as an “environmentally complex” demolition, which means the Chicago Department of Public Health will need to review and inspect the site for potential health and environmental impacts. If the site passes inspection, the health department will give approval for the Department of Buildings to issue the demolition permits, officials said Friday.

* Sun-Times | Season’s first heatwave arrives in Chicago this week: “Temperatures getting below the 90s is not in the cards until maybe next Sunday,” said David King, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Romeoville. Monday and Tuesday will be especially hot as temperatures hit the mid-90s. Making things hotter is the extra humidity headed our way, King said.

* NBC Chicago | Developers break ground at site of failed Chicago Spire project: The hole at 400 Lake Shore Drive at the site of the failed Chicago Spire project is in the process of being filled. A 72-story residential building will go up in its place. “It has been a very, very long time,” Don Biernacki, the executive vice president of Related Midwest, quipped. “But when you have a vision for great development, great architecture and great projects that are going to be meaningful to our great city, it takes a while for that to come to fruition.”

* Block Club | The Bean Scheduled To Reopen At The End Of June: “We are happy to share that final Plaza construction work is nearly completed on a comprehensive rebuild of the Plaza podium including new stairs, accessible ramps, paver replacement, a waterproofing system and accessibility upgrades to Grainger Plaza. Weather-permitting, we expect to reopen the Plaza to the public before the end of the month,” Madeline Long, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events spokesperson, said in an email. If completed on schedule, the Bean will open just in time for the 20th anniversary celebration of Millennium Park, which will run July 18-21.

*** Cook County and Suburbs ***

* Daily Herald | ‘Empty does not mean unloved’: Is piece of DuPage’s farming past in jeopardy?: The white clapboard house seems like a pleasant hideaway in the shade of its namesake trees. Oak Cottage has stood empty for decades within the Greene Valley Forest Preserve “But empty does not mean unloved,” lifelong Naperville resident Jane Ory Burke said. Guardians of DuPage County history have long called on the forest preserve district to make the cottage — the center of the home was built circa 1850 — accessible to the public. Earlier this month, the district hired an architectural firm to assess the condition of the structure.

* Daily Herald | After public dust-up between officials, second District 59 school to get cop: After a public dust-up between a Northwest suburban school district superintendent and Elk Grove Village’s mayor over the latter’s push to add a school resource officer to a junior high, now the school board — controlled by the mayor’s son — has approved hiring a cop to walk the hallways of another school. A Mount Prospect police officer will be assigned to Holmes Junior High School for the start of the new school year in August, under an intergovernmental agreement approved last week by the Elk Grove Township Elementary District 59 board and pending a vote by the Mount Prospect village board.

*** Downstate ***

* WSIL | More than a Dozen Communities Issued Boil Water Orders in Southern Illinois: A boil water order has been issued to more than a dozen communities after a water main break in Benton, Illinois. The Rend Lake Conservancy District (RLCD) stated the water main break occurred on Sunday. The leak was reportedly found in Benton on the water transmission line which serves multiple communities in Franklin and Perry counties.

* SJ-R | Lincoln residents urge state officials to keep state prison in town, halt move near Chicago: Illinois Department of Corrections acting director LaToya Hughes confirmed that the location and facility design have yet to be finalized during a public meeting in Lincoln the prior evening. She and the department are adamant that Logan employees will be able to keep their jobs, stating there will be 850 open positions within a 90-mile radius including the neighboring men’s facility, Lincoln Correctional Center, and the Decatur Correctional Center.

* ABC | Suspect in shooting of 3 deputies in Illinois had multiple firearms, sheriff says: A man accused of shooting and wounding three sheriff’s deputies during a standoff at a home in northern Illinois had multiple firearms in his possession, authorities said. A fixed-blade knife, pepper spray and ballistic armor also were found following Wednesday’s shooting in the Lost Lake community near Dixon, the Ogle County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

* WSIL | Marion woman talks about being homeless for 13 months and the woman who helped her find a home: Rhonda Sturgeon spent 13 months living in her truck, moving around to different parking lots trying to sleep. And doing so in the heat and the cold, not knowing if, or when it would end. […] “I had it made before I ended up with cancer and then after I went through everything with it and trying to trust people to pay my bills,” she said. […] If you ask assistant director Tammy Dodd, she’d tell you she’s nobody special. But to Sturgeon, Dodd has been one of the few people she can count on.

*** National ***

* WGN | George Strait concert breaks US attendance record held by rock band since 1977: Country music star George Strait broke the record for the most-attended ticketed concert in the United States on Saturday night, playing for a crowd of 110,905 fans at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas. […] Strait, whose upcoming album “Cowboys and Dreamers” is due out later this year, is no stranger to the record books. He’s among the top-selling country artists of all time, according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and he’s accumulated more gold- and platinum-certified albums than only a handful of artists in any genre.

* Popular Information | Sinclair floods local news websites with hundreds of deceptive articles about Biden’s mental fitness: Articles produced by Sinclair’s National Desk are published at the exact same time on every local website. The June 10 article, for example, was published on each website at exactly 9:24 AM Eastern. This suggests these articles are automatically syndicated, and local journalists at affiliates are not able to exercise editorial discretion. When these articles are syndicated, they appear alongside identically formatted articles on local government, weather, and sports.


  1. - charles in charge - Monday, Jun 17, 24 @ 2:53 pm:

    Sen. Harris already has a reputation as an insurance industry-friendly chair of the Insurance Committee. His decision to become an investor in that industry will do nothing to diminish that perception.

  2. - TJ - Monday, Jun 17, 24 @ 3:07 pm:

    I’m sorry, but what? If you can afford to move from New York to Illinois and back again every single year for the summer camps, you can afford summer camps anywhere. The math they’re using only makes sense if you’re comparing just extremely specific specialty programs with run of the mill ones in Illinois, which also assuredly exist in New York. And their big pricetag reveal was two grand, what college can you go to where that’ll last you a semester?

  3. - Bigtwich - Monday, Jun 17, 24 @ 3:18 pm:

    TJ, interesting comment but you really should read the article.

  4. - Amalia - Monday, Jun 17, 24 @ 4:29 pm:

    i’m interested to hear about camps in NYC Where in Manhattan would accessible camps be held? all in Central Park? cause the pocket parks/playgrounds there are few and tiny. The Chicago Metro area has some fantastic parks systems with all sorts of classes. even if you pay the out of jurisdiction rate, it’s a bargain. and more open air here.

  5. - NIU Grad - Monday, Jun 17, 24 @ 4:58 pm:

    Columbia knows what many of our rural areas of Illinois are in denial about: A massive influx of new residents (and workers) is good, actually.

  6. - granville - Monday, Jun 17, 24 @ 5:16 pm:

    Feel like the volunteers are in good hands with Mo Green. He was making his bones back when most of us were dating cheerleaders.

  7. - Time - Tuesday, Jun 18, 24 @ 6:40 am:

    Journos should look at every committee. Not just the insurance committee that’s been co-opted

  8. - Nearly Normal - Tuesday, Jun 18, 24 @ 8:08 am:

    BloNo has lots of opportunities for kids to experience summer activities. Both Bloomington and Normal parks and recreation divisions have a variety of the usual activities found in day camps. There are specialized day camps from a variety of organizations: the McLean County Museum of History, Illinois State U Actuarial and STEM camps, the Gamma Phi Circus at ISU, the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Illinois Arts Station, etc..

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