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Isabel’s afternoon roundup

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* WGN

Gov. JB Pritzker was on the city’s Near West Side on Wednesday morning to speak about a statewide initiative that has designs on ending the HIV epidemic in Illinois within the next decade.

Getting to Zero Illinois (GTZ-IL), as its website states, is a community engagement initiative that aims to end the HIV epidemic in Illinois by 2030. […]

On Wednesday, Pritzker was among those gathered for a workshop at the University of Illinois Chicago Student Center West on Wolcott Avenue. The governor spoke about GTZ-IL, praising the initiative and vowing continued support from his administration.

“We will work together to reduce structural and institutional barriers to diagnose and treat,” Pritzker said. “We will expand access to care while breaking down the stigma for people living with or vulnerable to HIV, to seek help or to receive a diagnosis as soon as possible.

* Injustice Watch

Over the last two decades, Chicago’s political leaders have spent tens of millions on attempts to treat children arrested by police more like children and less like a public safety menace. […]

Now, an Injustice Watch examination of Chicago’s efforts at youth justice reform — including dozens of interviews, thousands of pages of public records, and a decade of arrest data — reveals an inept, grindingly slow response to kids who commit crimes. It’s been a Band-Aid on a deep wound.

The investigation showed the city has hired contractors with records of failure, the Chicago Police Department didn’t buy in to key reforms, and a long-promised new program has delivered barely any help to the thousands of kids who might need it.

The latest failure is a $10 million initiative offering some kids who have been arrested one to three months of services — including help with school, legal support, or counseling. While police arrested about 3,600 kids last year, they referred only 286 to the program in its first 11 months. Of those, only 35 completed the program. That’s roughly one for every 100 kids police arrest.

* Illinois Department of Transportation

IDOT is unveiling five new photo enforcement vans that will be used throughout Illinois work zones starting this construction season, a continuation of a program that traces back 20 years ago. The vehicles are the result of a new contract with Modaxo, which allows for as-needed equipment updates and a “train the trainer” program that will put operations firmly in the hands of IDOT and Illinois State Police.

Bearing clear markings designating them as speed photo enforcement vehicles, the vans feature updated technology and a large sign that displays the speed of approaching vehicles. Highway Safety Programs Unit Chief Juan Pava said the improved technological features are a boon to the program.

“We are going to have lidar-based speed detection, which is a huge improvement over our previous contract that had radar speed detection,” Pava said. “We have new cameras with much higher resolution, as well as new safety features within the units to keep the troopers who are deploying them safe. We’re hoping that with this new technology, we’ll be able to get better metrics to truly understand the speed issues in work zones and increase the effectiveness of the speed photo enforcement program.”

The vehicles will be used exclusively in work zones while workers are present, as mandated by the 2004 passage of the Automated Traffic Control Systems in Highway Construction or Maintenance Zones Act. Through district staff, IDOT determines where the vans should be deployed, with ISP troopers staffing them and handling any necessary ticketing. […]

“This is not a revenue generating program. The primary benefit is speed reduction and behavior change,” said Work Zone Safety Engineer Nathan Peck. “That’s why we use a big white van. We want it to be visible. It’s all about deterrence, presence and visibility.”

* WBBM Radio reporter Mallory Vor Broker


* AP

The Chicago White Sox have now had the worst half-season in the franchise’s 124-year history.

And they’re on pace to challenge for the ignominious title of worst team of all-time.

Shohei Ohtani hit a leadoff homer and a tiebreaking RBI single Tuesday night, leading the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 4-3 victory over the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

For reference, the 1962 New York Mets went 40-120, which remains the worst record ever since MLB went to a 162-game schedule prior to that season (the Mets had two postponed games that season that were not made up).

*** Chicago ***

* Tribune | Chicago reaches deal with protest organizers ahead of DNC: The ACLU of Illinois filed a federal lawsuit against the city last month on behalf of a coalition of LGBTQ+ and abortion rights groups, “Bodies Against Unjust Laws,” that sought a protest permit during the DNC. Wednesday, the ACLU announced the coalition was granted a permit to march south along Michigan Avenue from Wacker Drive to the statue of Union Army Gen. John Logan near 9th Street. The march is scheduled for 5 p.m. Aug. 18, the day before DNC activities begin in earnest.

* Chalkbeat | Chicago schools that removed police officers saw slight drop in high-level discipline violations: study: The study’s authors looked at the district’s more than 80 CPS-run high schools, and focused on those that removed officers after the summer of 2020, when the Chicago Board of Education directed Local School Councils to decide if they wanted SROs on campus. As of last school year, 39 high schools had on-campus police officers staffed by the Chicago Police Department, while 44 other schools had none, according to the study. Fourteen schools had voted since 2020 to remove them. The Board of Education plans to remove the remaining officers starting this fall.

* Sun-Times | CPS dropping school police officers didn’t change students, teachers feeling safe, U of C study reveals: A study released Wednesday by the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research examined the effects of CPS schools removing their police officers and found there were minimal changes to perceptions of safety. But the analysis discovered a reduction in high-level discipline infractions at schools that had gotten rid of their cops, and found Black students were more likely to have officers in their schools than other racial groups.

* Sun-Times | City prepares for large crowds at Pride Parade: The parade gets underway at 11 a.m. in Uptown, passes through Lake View and ends in Lincoln Park. The Office of Emergency Management and Communications said it is expecting large crowds and is preparing to ensure the safety of all attendees. Temporary black-and-white markers will be hung atop light poles along the parade route to mark the location. If anyone is lost or in need of help, the markers will allow first-responders to find the caller.

* Block Club | What Does The ‘Chicago Accent’ Actually Sound Like?: It’s a distinct sound: beginning “th” sounds become to “d” sounds, so that “this” or “those” becomes “dis” or “dose.” You add an exaggerated “s” to proper nouns, like the “Jewels” and “Soldiers Field.” And you have to have the flattest “a” in words like “cat” or “bag.” But there are actually many Chicago accents with different origins, and they span far beyond the North Side climes that soak up a lot of the cultural conversation. That reflects in the media set in, or filmed in, the city — often with non-Chicago actors who must learn the many ways we speak.

*** Cook County and Suburbs ***

* Sun-Times | Man accused of assaulting State’s Attorney Kim Foxx is placed on electronic monitoring: William Swetz, 34, was released from custody after appearing in court Sunday on aggravated assault and aggravated battery charges. He was ordered to have no contact with Foxx. But Swetz was back in court Tuesday morning after he was allegedly seen on surveillance video driving past Foxx’s home after his Sunday appearance, according to court records. The judge on Tuesday ordered him to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.

* NBC Chicago | Chicago suburb to host Illinois’ ‘largest’ fireworks show for 4th of July: July 4, Itasca, in DuPage County will host “Illinois’ largest fireworks show,” according to a press release. The live pyrotechnics show takes place place at Hamilton Lakes, west of Chicago O’Hare International Airport at the intersection of I-390 and Park Boulevard, the release said. According to organizers, the 2024 fireworks show marks the event’s 27th year.

*** Downstate ***

* SJ-R | Longtime Springfield Urban League leader, voting rights lawsuit plaintiff, dies at 81: Howard Veal Sr., the longtime head of the Springfield Urban League and a class action plaintiff in the voting rights lawsuit that led to the creation of Springfield’s aldermanic form of government, died June 12. […] Speaking to The State Journal-Register Monday, Frank McNeil, one of the original plaintiffs in the lawsuit with William Washington and Rudy Davenport, said Veal, representing the Urban League, and Archie Lawrence, representing the Springfield NAACP, bolstered the suit by bringing in “all classes of individuals. It extended (the lawsuit) beyond three individuals.”

* WGN | Authorities to identify victim in 1976 cold case in Grundy County: Authorities in Grundy County are preparing to make a major announcement this week in the case of an unidentified woman whose body was found along a road near Seneca, Illinois, in 1976. Grundy County Coroner John W. Callahan said Tuesday that his office has identified the victim in the 1976 cold case and will release her identity during a news conference in Morris, Illinois, on Thursday afternoon.

*** National ***

* Tribune | Paris puts Park Ridge artist’s statue of Lincoln on display near Champs Elysee: Many connections fell into place — and many challenges had to be overcome over the course of a decade– for Park Ridge’s Kalo Foundation, a nonprofit arts group, to ship the mold of a bust of Abraham Lincoln by Park Ridge’s best-known artist, Italian-American sculptor Alfonso Iannelli, to France, have it bronzed and then ceremonially presented to the city of Paris for permanent display near the Champs Elysee. Kalo Foundation officers flew to France for its official unveiling by officials of Paris’ 8th arondissement on May 13. In the decade from idea to execution, the process of casting the plaster Lincoln bust into bronze and donating it to Paris had to overcome several tripwires, including the deaths of its original French and Park Ridge backers, the COVID pandemic and fundraising challenges.

* NYT | Why U.S. Schools Are Facing Their Biggest Budget Crunch in Years: A flow of federal dollars — $122 billion meant to help schools recover from the pandemic — is running dry in September, leaving schools with less money for tutors, summer school and other supports that have funded pandemic recovery efforts over the last three years. At the same time, declining student enrollment — a consequence of lower birthrates and a growing school choice movement — is catching up to some districts.

  12 Comments      


Two Southwest Side Dems push back on Pritzker shelter expansion (Updated)

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Tuesday press release

Additional State-supported shelters are beginning to serve New Arrivals in Chicago. Two new shelters, operating as part of the City of Chicago’s existing shelter system, will prioritize families as they transition to independent living. This is in addition to a State-supported shelter in Little Village, bringing the total of State-supported and funded shelters in Chicago to three, with a total combined capacity of 2,000 people.

These latest additions to shelter capacity advance the State’s commitment to a joint funding plan with Cook County and the City of Chicago to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis presented by the arrival of over 43,000 New Arrivals from the U.S. southern border.

“In Illinois, we’re implementing our comprehensive data-driven plan to improve our response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis and amplify the effectiveness of State, County, and City investments,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “The additional temporary shelters will ensure that shelter capacity and wraparound services remain accessible to asylum seeker families as they transition out of our system of care and on to independence.”

“I’m thankful to our partners and the contributions across City, State, County, and nonprofit sectors. These additional shelters provide meaningful support to families seeking stability as they take their next steps toward independence,” said Dulce M. Quintero, IDHS Secretary Designate.

Hyde Park Shelter

A former hotel shelter that was previously used to quarantine New Arrivals from measles is serving as a facility for standard shelter operations now that the outbreak has passed. The hotel has been retrofitted to serve as a more traditional shelter site.

Under the guidance of public health officials, the State-funded quarantine shelter was decommissioned for quarantine in early May, allowing the State to transition the site to a shelter for families, with a maximum capacity to house 750 people.

Midway Shelter

Buildout for the next State-supported shelter at a former hotel on the Southwest side of Chicago began last week. The plan is to begin moving in families in July. This shelter has a maximum capacity of 950 residents.

More at the link.

* Press release today from Rep. Angie Guerrero-Cuellar and Sen. Mike Porfirio, who represent the Midway area…

We were informed by press release that the Illinois Department of Human Services plans to move forward with their plans to operate a state-run migrant shelter in our districts. Without sufficient information on how the state plans to protect the safety of the shelter and the surrounding community, we cannot support this plan. Our local 8th Chicago Police District is already stretched thin and will be challenged to support a shelter of 950 migrants. Opening a shelter in July does not allow for proper planning or ensure that our concerns are met. Local residents have had no say in this plan, and we will not ignore their valid concerns about safety and utilizing local resources.

As subscribers know, Guerrero-Cuellar and Porfirio are at odds with the governor over their bill to transfer some Midway Airport land to the city for a new police station. The Pritzker administration has other plans for the land.

…Adding… The governor’s office insists that both Guerrero-Cuellar and Porfirio were both fully briefed and some plans were even changed at their behest, including changing curfew times for residents. The administration “even called local mayors at their request.”

  5 Comments      


Pritzker signs massive economic development bill that includes quantum incentives, says there will be new partnerships in the coming months

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Press release…

Today Governor JB Pritzker signed a package of bills to incentivize corporate development and increase Illinois’ competitive edge for attracting new businesses and capital investments. The omnibus bills, HB5005, include investments in tax credit programs for the film industry and research and development projects across the state, as well as for the Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) and Reimagining Energy and Vehicles (REV) programs. The bills also build on Illinois’ growing status as a tech hub and reduce red tape for the Blue Collar Job Act (BCJA). […]

In 2023, Illinois tripled corporate investments incentivized by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). New jobs created by the EDGE and REV programs jumped up more than 60 percent from the previous year - from 2,691 to 4,329 - with the number of retained jobs increasing exponentially, from 204 to 3,127. Updates to Illinois’ premier business development tools will make Illinois even more competitive for jobs and capital investment and could generate more than an estimated $21 billion in new state revenue into GRF over the next 30 years.

The bill also expands River’s Edge Redevelopment Zones (RERZ) to include 7 new downstate communities, which will enable them to leverage new incentives to attract investments, create jobs and invest in their communities. Based on community feedback, the bill adds zones in Moline, East Moline, Ottawa, LaSalle, Peru, Rock Island and Quincy.

The Illinois film tax credit, created by Governor Pritzker in 2022 and expanded through 2032, offers tax credits for local labor and production expenditures and has been a key factor in Illinois landing major productions. The State’s tax credit has resulted in a $6.81 return on investment for every dollar spent on the incentive, resulting in $3.6 billion in economic activity between FY17 and FY22. 94 percent of Illinois’ current film industry economic impact is attributed to the impact of the tax credit enacted by Governor Pritzker.

The omnibus also includes:

    - Recodification of eligibility for the Manufacturing Illinois Chips for Real Opportunity (MICRO) program: This law codifies quantum computing, semiconductor, and microchip companies in the R&D phase as eligible for the program while reducing initial investment requirements to allow smaller businesses to enter the market.
    - Creation of a Quantum Enterprise Zone (QEZ): Designed to help position Illinois’ proposed quantum campus - funded through a $500 million bonded capital request introduced in the FY25 budget – to attract up to $11 billion in CHIPS and related federal funding and an estimated $20 billion in private investment.
    - Reduction of Blue Collar Jobs Act (BCJA) Red Tape: Based on industry feedback, this change allows BCJA credits to be based on industry standard or 3rd party verified construction wages rather than the submission of monthly payroll data.

* The governor fielded some quantum questions from reporters after the bill signing

Well, the announcement of the creation of a quantum campus has meant a lot of significant interest from large companies and from new well-funded startup companies. As well as from governments and industries that want to be plugged in to the efforts here at a quantum campus.

So you’ll see some announcements that will come out over the next month or two about some of those partnerships.

Then you’ll see the choice of a location for that campus. And then, of course, after that there’ll be a, you know, building of that campus and talk about what’s going to be on the campus itself. So I think that’s maybe the order in which things will happen. But it’s very exciting, I have to say.

I was talking to somebody who is very high up in the quantum industry, I guess you could say, who said to me that [Illinois is] alone in our leadership as a state in putting this quantum campus together. They haven’t seen any other state that’s this forward on the industry and it portends well as we look at what the opportunities are for billions of dollars. And I hasten to say, tens of billions of dollars of interest in the state of Illinois. […]

Question: This is an industry not everyone understands, so why put all that money there?

Pritzker: Appreciate you asking that question, and I will remind you that Illinois is where the first browser was developed. Nobody really remembers that.

PayPal came out of Illinois, YouTube came out of Illinois. We had the first big supercomputer [at the] University of Illinois.

We were poised in the early 90s and late 80s to be the leading state for development of the Internet, and most people had no idea what the internet was in 1990 let’s say. So, think about that analogy to where we are today.

And by the way, nobody at the state had a strategy for how do we keep those companies or the development of that industry in Illinois? There was no strategy, and it got up and left.

We, today, and as somebody who has been in the technology industry. We were on the cutting edge. We still are, but we were on the cutting edge. When I came into office the University of Illinois, University of Chicago, Northwestern and other institutions, our national laboratories, all [were] on the cutting edge of quantum technology, even if other people hadn’t heard of it.

This is the direction of things. And we’re in an international competition, I might add, from an economic security perspective and an international security perspective and a national security perspective.

I mentioned that because in my first year in office, even when people hadn’t heard much about quantum, we put in the infrastructure bill, $200 million dedicated - we were the only state that had done this at this time - dedicated to developing the quantum industry and Chicago Quantum Exchange and other investments that help us build the ecosystem.

That was 2019. Those institutions have thrived over the last number of years, and we are recognized around the world now in something that still maybe people don’t totally understand, but at least people know the word quantum. They know there’s something big happening, and Illinois and Chicago, among the researchers, scientists and companies around the world, they know that Chicago is the place to be.

And now that we’re creating this campus, it’s accelerated even more peoples’ interest in Illinois. So I don’t want to miss the opportunity, like the state did back in the early 90s, for us to be on the front end of something that could turn into, I hate these words, but the Silicon Valley of quantum.

* More topics

Well, I think if you hearken back to our 2019 economic development plan for the state - we’ll be issuing another one this year, which they’re five year plans - you’ll see that we have actually a broader focus on growth industries. Say, for example, life sciences is another area where we have a right to win, we have lots of healthcare institutions, major universities, that are developing new drugs or new solutions for healthcare related problems, and that’s just another, ag-tech in our agriculture industry. […]

You know we sit on the border of and we have access to 20% of the world’s fresh water. That’s unusual, I mean, go talk to people who live in California and in Colorado about what’s happened to fresh water for them. So think about what that means as an advantage for decades and decades to come.

So I mentioned those just to give you some baseline thinking about. We’re not just focused on incentives that are in this bill related to quantum, for example, but more broadly about, how do we turn the crank, so to speak. If you think about an old car from 100 years ago to get the motor going on industries that we have a right to win at, that we have the opportunity to really develop in our state. EVs being another one. You know, how do we do that? And at the same time enhance the industries that we already have in the state that we’re so good at.

Remember, one very important thing about Illinois is we have a diverse economy in the state. This is a terrific thing, because when we go through difficult economic times as a nation or across the world, Illinois tends not to get drawn down as much as some other places that have one or two industries that they rely upon.

So I’m proud of that diversity. We’re trying to lift up all the industries, the companies that are in the state of Illinois, and I reach out and talk to CEOs of all size companies across the state to find out what do you need, what’s going to help you grow. And at the same time talking to new industries and new companies that want to think about coming to Illinois and figuring out what is it that will make us the most attractive state for you to come to.

* There’s more to this bill. For instance…

With strong support from State Senator Christopher Belt, a new law signed Wednesday aims to spur economic growth and enhance benefits under the Grocery Initiative Act – a law Belt led in 2023.

“Grocery stores that open in or around food deserts need all the support possible in order to remain accessible for residents,” said Belt (D-Swansea). “This law recognizes the importance of the Grocery Initiative Act and allows these stores to qualify for additional assistance from the state.”

The new law expands eligibility for incentives under the Illinois Grocery Act, allowing grocery stores located in an Enterprise Zone — a designated area with available tax incentives aimed at stimulating economic growth in underserved areas — to apply for the High Impact Business program. Previously, grocery stores could only apply for assistance under the Grocery Initiative Act or the HIB program. Under this new law, eligible grocers can apply to both programs, making it easier for stores to open and thrive within food deserts.

And…

A new law sponsored by State Senator Suzy Glowiak Hilton establishes incentives for microchip manufacturers in an effort to make the electronics industry more competitive in Illinois.

“Microchips and semiconductors are part of just about every piece of technology we use every day,” said Glowiak Hilton (D-Western Springs). “By providing these new incentives, we are creating jobs, keeping Illinois at the forefront of a growing industry and making our community a hub for manufacturing.”

House Bill 5005 brings new opportunities to the Manufacturing Illinois Chips for Real Opportunity Act, which offers incentives to companies that manufacture microchips and semiconductors in Illinois. MICRO allows businesses to receive tax credits on new and retained jobs, training costs, investments and construction jobs. Under the new law, manufacturers will be eligible for a tax credit when relocating from one site in Illinois to another. Additionally, individual taxpayers who focus on research and development and innovation in the space of semiconductor manufacturing, microchip manufacturing and the manufacturing of semiconductor or microchip component parts will be eligible for this program.

Discuss.

  10 Comments      


Quid pro quo now apparently required to convict on § 666 (Updated)

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* More background is here if you need it. From a January Tribune story on Snyder v. United States

In court last month, Scott Lassar, an attorney for ex-ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, said the ComEd Four cases will likely see major upheaval, arguing that jurors were allowed to find her and her co-defendants guilty without evidence of a quid pro quo.

“It is all but certain that there is at least going to be a retrial, if not an acquittal, for the defendants,” Lassar said.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Amarjeet Bhachu, who is spearheading the Madigan and ComEd prosecutions, suggested defense attorneys were prematurely spiking the football.

“I wish somebody would just read the language of the statute,” Bhachu told U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber last week.

In a written motion Friday, Bhachu went even further, calling the effort to delay the sentencings another signal that the defendants are “unrepentant” and trying to shift blame.

* From that written motion

On the subject of quid pro quo, the defendants have repeatedly said that proof of a quid pro quo is required under § 666. But in doing so, counsel for McClain has described the term quid pro quo as being the equivalent of requiring proof of an agreement between two parties concerning the corrupt exchange of benefits for action, and counsel for Pramaggiore has also suggested that proof of an “agreement” is required.

This is incorrect; this misunderstanding is a result of casual and imprecise use of Latin jargon, namely, the phrase “quid pro quo,” to mask what is really required by the plain English of § 666. While proof of such a meeting of the minds is sufficient to violate the statute, no proof of an “agreement” is required under either prong of § 666. The language of the statute—which defendants ignore—not only punishes those who “agree to accept” and “agree to give,” but also anyone who “solicits” intending to be influenced or rewarded and anyone who “offers” with intent to influence or reward —without regard to whether any mutual understanding is reached with the counterparty.

* From the Seventh Circuit’s ruling in Snyder v. United States

A bribe requires a quid pro quo—an agreement to exchange this for that, to exchange money or something else of value for influence in the future. A gratuity is paid “as a reward for actions the payee has already taken or is already committed to take.” United States v. Agostino, 132 F.3d 1183, 1195 (7th Cir. 1997). Snyder insists that the evidence does not support a finding that he and the Buhas agreed to exchange money for the truck contracts before they were awarded. Without a prior quid pro quo agreement, he argues, § 666 cannot apply. […]

Accordingly, we follow here our precedents holding that 18 U.S.C. § 666 applies to gratuities and does not require evidence of a prior quid pro quo agreement.

* From US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s conclusion in Snyder v. United States

In sum, §666 tracks §201(b), the bribery provision for federal officials. A state or local official can violate §666 when he accepts an up-front payment for a future official act or agrees to a future reward for a future official act. See United States v. Fernandez, 722 F. 3d 1, 23 (CA1 2013) (the word “reward” “clarifies that a bribe can be promised before, but paid after, the official’s action” (quotation marks omitted)).

But a state or local official does not violate §666 if the official has taken the official act before any reward is agreed to, much less given. Although a gratuity offered and accepted after the official act may be unethical or illegal under other federal, state, or local laws, the gratuity does not violate §666.

* From Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s dissent

(F)or a payment to constitute a bribe, there must be an up-front agreement to exchange the payment for taking an official action.

Legislatures have also considered it similarly wrongful for government officials to accept gratuities under certain circumstances, but unlike bribes, gratuities do not have a quid pro quo requirement. Generally speaking, rather than an actual agreement to take payment as the impetus for engaging in an official act (a quid pro quo exchange), gratuities “may constitute merely a reward for some future act that the public official will take (and may already have determined to take), or for a past act that he has already taken.”

We took this case to resolve “[w]hether section 666 criminalizes gratuities, i.e., payments in recognition of actions the official has already taken or committed to take, without any quid pro quo agreement to take those actions.” The majority today answers no, when the answer to that question should be an unequivocal yes.

…Adding… Looks that way…

From that story

Pramaggiore’s attoney, Scott Lassar, said the Supreme Court ruling makes clear that “what Anne Pramaggiore was charged with is not a crime.”

“I don’t think the entire case would be dismissed,” Lassar said. “But we will argue — I think successfully — that all of the convictions have to be reversed. And so, if that’s the case, the government would have to make a choice about whether they want to retry the case.”

Patrick Cotter, McClain’s attorney, said he believes the ruling “does radically change what the U.S. attorney’s office for the Northern District of Illinois can argue is a crime.” […]

Madigan’s lawyers have noted that seven of the 23 counts he faces in his indictment are tied to the law in question.

  37 Comments      


Alleged Highland Park shooter rejects plea deal

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Yesterday in the Tribune

Wednesday’s hearing is expected to generate a lot of interest locally and nationwide. Kasey Morgan, the spokeswoman for the Lake County courts, said her office was working to accommodate survivors and family members of the victims of the parade shooting who want to attend, as well as members of Crimo’s family who want to be in the courtroom, which can hold about 110 people.

The courts office has also received requests for seats from area elected officials, and representatives of national news organizations. Interested parties can also view the hearing on Zoom if they register, Morgan said. The link is at: https://19thcircuitcourt.state.il.us/2320/High-Profile-Case-Information […]

If Crimo does change his plea to guilty, the case could move immediately into the sentencing phase. That could include testimony from law enforcement officers, detailing evidence that connects Crimo to the shootings. […]

Should Crimo plead guilty to the first-degree murder of more than one of the seven people killed, he would face an automatic sentence of life in prison. Prosecutors leveled more than 100 felony charges in the case, including 21 counts of first-degree murder.

* Nancy Harty

* Sun-Times

The Highland Park parade shooting suspect on Wednesday abruptly decided to not go through with a change of his not guilty plea.

Robert Crimo III fell silent when the judge asked if the agreement outlined by Lake County prosecutors was what he’d discussed with his lawyers. Court was briefly recessed, and when Crimo returned his lawyers said their client no longer wanted to go ahead with a change of plea.

Prosecutors said Crimo had agreed to plead guilty to seven counts of first-degree murder in connection with the mass shooting nearly two years ago. In all, he was to plead guilty to a total of 55 counts, prosecutors said. […]

The next hearing in the case is Aug. 28. His trial is scheduled for February 2025.

* Tribune

Victims and their families were expected to give emotional testimony following the plea deal on how the shooting has affected them, before Judge Victoria Rossetti delivered the sentence.

State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart previously said his office had been in touch with those affected before agreeing to the plea.

“We have been continuing to work with victims and survivors as the situation develops,” he said.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office said it would have extra officers on duty for the sentencing.

  10 Comments      


US Supreme Court rules against feds in case that may affect Madigan’s corruption case

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Jason Meisner in April

A government attorney faced tough questioning Monday from U.S. Supreme Court justices over concerns that the federal bribery statute often used to prosecute public officials, including a former Indiana mayor, is vague and potentially criminalizes innocuous gift-giving by people from all walks of life. […]

The high court’s decision to hear Snyder’s case has already had repercussions in Chicago. Since the Supreme Court’s announcement in December, Madigan’s trial was delayed from April 1 until October to allow time for the decision to come out and be digested before going forward.

In a parallel case, a different judge agreed, over the objection of prosecutors, to delay sentencings for the “ComEd Four,” a group of lobbyists and executives convicted of conspiring to bribe Madigan by showering his associates with do-nothing consulting jobs and other perks.

In Madigan’s case, prosecutors have noted that the 666 statute is charged in only five of the 23 counts of the racketeering indictment.

* The Sun-Times today

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a crucial federal bribery law aimed at state and local officials does not also criminalize after-the-fact rewards known as “gratuities.”

The ruling in the appeal of former Portage, Indiana Mayor James Snyder could have a major impact on public corruption prosecutions in Chicago, including the cases of former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. In fact, the Supreme Court accused prosecutors of trying to turn the law into “a vague and unfair trap for 19 million state and local officials.”

The high court’s decision to take up the Snyder case interrupted the momentum federal prosecutors here had built through a series of corruption trials in 2023. […]

The corruption conviction of Snyder gave the Supreme Court the opportunity to study a law known as the “federal program bribery” statute. It applies to any state or local government agent who “corruptly solicits … anything of value … intending to be influenced or rewarded in connection with any business” worth $5,000 or more. […]

It’s involved in five of the counts in the separate case dealing with the four Madigan allies, who include former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore.

* Jon Seidel


* Tribune

In the opinion, which has been highly anticipated in Chicago’s federal court, the justices sided 6-3 with the former mayor of Portage, Ind., James Snyder, who argued to the nation’s highest court that the anti-corruption law under which he was convicted is vague and could potentially criminalize innocent, everyday conduct. […]

“The Government’s so-called guidance would leave state and local officials entirely at sea to guess about what gifts they are allowed to accept under federal law, with the threat of up to 10 years in federal prison if they happen to guess wrong,” the opinion states. “That is not how federal criminal law works. And the Court has rejected the view that it should construe a criminal statute on the assumption that the Government will use it responsibly.”

The 47-page opinion also takes issue with the term “rewarded,” which it typically interpreted by prosecutors as a reward for a public official after an official act was taken. […]

Defense attorneys will likely request that certain counts be thrown out in light of the justices’ ruling on Wednesday, though prosecutors in the Madigan case have said they are willing to forgo any arguments to jurors that the benefits provided to Madigan were gratuities.

* The opinion

The question in this case is whether §666 also makes it a crime for state and local officials to accept gratuities—for example, gift cards, lunches, plaques, books, framed photos, or the like—that may be given as a token of appreciation after the official act. The answer is no. State and local governments often regulate the gifts that state and local officials may accept. Section 666 does not supplement those state and local rules by subjecting 19 million state and local officials to up to 10 years in federal prison for accepting even commonplace gratuities. Rather, §666 leaves it to state and local governments to regulate gratuities to state and local officials. […]

If the Government were correct that §666 also covered gratuities, Congress would have created an entirely inexplicable regime for state and local officials. For one, even though bribery has been treated as a far more serious offense, Congress would have authorized the same 10-year maximum sentences for (i) gratuities to state and local officials and (ii) bribes to state and local officials. See Sun-Diamond, 526 U. S., at 405. In addition, Congress would have authorized punishing gratuities to state and local officials five times more severely than gratuities to federal officials—10 years for state and local officials compared to 2 years for federal officials. […]

The Government asks this Court to adopt an interpretation of §666 that would radically upend gratuities rules and turn §666 into a vague and unfair trap for 19 million state and local officials. We decline to do so. Section 666 is a vital statute, but its focus is targeted: Section 666 proscribes bribes to state and local officials, while allowing state and local governments to regulate gratuities to state and local officials. Within constitutional bounds, Congress can always change the law if it wishes to do so. But since 1986, it has not, presumably because Congress understands that state and local governments may and often do regulate gratuities to state and local officials. We reverse the judgment of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

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Open thread

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* What’s going on in your part of Illinois?…

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Isabel’s morning briefing

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* ICYMI: Gov. Pritzker signs measure creating new state agency for early education. Sun-Times

    - The newly signed law will create the Department of Early Childhood.
    - The department will oversee early education programs, including the Preschool For All program, child care assistance programs and day care licensing.
    - This year’s budget included $14 million to create the new department.

* Related stories…

At noon the governor will sign the pro-business bill omnibus package. Click here to watch.

*** Isabel’s Top Picks ***

* WTTW | After Earning a Degree From Northwestern While Incarcerated, Michael Broadway Dies in Custody at 51 as Family Questions Medical Response: Friends who witnessed his death last week said he “didn’t have to die.” When asked about specific allegations around the timeline of Broadway’s death, a spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Corrections responded that “at this point, we’d only be able to confirm his death on 6/19/24” and that “the investigation is ongoing.”

* Crain’s | CME and Google to build new facility to move trading into the cloud: The two firms will develop cloud and colocation facilities — space rented to clients for their own IT equipment — next to CME’s existing data center in Aurora, executives said Wednesday. Construction will start later this year and the transition will happen in phases, they said. CME and Google began a 10-year alliance in 2021 to migrate data, clearing services and eventually trading into the cloud. As part of the agreement, Google made a $1 billion equity investment in the derivatives exchange.

*** Statehouse News ***

* WAND | Advocates urge IL lawmakers to close loophole allowing domestic abusers access to guns: “We felt really confident after hearing the oral arguments late last year of the way the Supreme Court was going to come down,” said Maralea Negron, director for The Network. “I think it wasn’t a huge sticking point. But for those that did have concerns, the decision is very straight forward. It comes down on the side of survivors. We’re really hopeful that the General Assembly will do what we’ve been asking, what is pass Karina’s Bill in veto session.”

* Press Release | Swanson Named Illinois VFW’s Representative of the Year: Earlier this month, Illinois State Representative Dan Swanson was named Illinois’ Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Representative of the Year. He received the honors at Joint Opening Session of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Illinois state convention in Springfield. Swanson, a veteran himself, has long championed veterans’ issues and has been an advocate throughout his service in the Illinois General Assembly. He was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2017 and currently serves on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

*** Chicago ***

* Sun-Times | Johnson announces dates, times for budget forums: Last year, Johnson used public input generated by a similar series of budget roundtables to craft a $16.77 billion budget that, among other things, added 4,000 summer jobs for Chicago’s youth and re-established a stand-alone Department of Environment. The mayor used a record $434 million in surplus funds from tax increment financing districts to balance his first budget. He also froze the city’s property tax levy.

* NBC Chicago | Thousands of DNC protesters expected, raising questions about security, neighborhood impact: “We don’t think it’s the city hiding the ball. We think that the city is dependent on decisions made by other agencies in the city or federal agencies, FBI, Secret Service,” said Chris Williams, the attorney representing the Coalition to March on the DNC. The coalition, which represents 125 protest organizations and counting, has been fighting a legal battle with the city over its denial of protest permits. The city declined the protesters’ request to set up at Union Park, just blocks away from the United Center, offering a spot several miles away on Columbus Drive instead. Protesters have maintained the spot near Grant Park is not a viable solution because it’s not within “sight and sound” of the convention hall.

* CBS Chicago | Chicago paramedics experience burnout amid staffing shortage, firefighters say: Chicago firefighters are calling out the city for not having enough ambulances and paramedics to safely serve the city, and they want that fixed as part of a new union contract. They plan to protest at next week’s NASCAR event, then outside of the Democratic National Convention.

* Tribune | NASCAR Chicago Street Race returns with shorter setup, fewer skeptics and hopes for less rain: “I think the big difference this year versus last year is people have an understanding of what the event is and how it comes together and what to expect,” said Julie Giese, 46, president of NASCAR’s Chicago Street Race. “It wasn’t as bad as everyone expected last year as far as moving around the city.” Tim Calkins, a marketing professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, said Chicagoans are generally less concerned after seeing NASCAR successfully pull off the first street race in its 75-year history amid biblical rains last summer.

*** Cook County and Suburbs ***

* ABC | Illinois man accused in mass shooting at Fourth of July parade expected to change not-guilty plea: The statement released by Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart’s office did not provide more detail on the expected changes or how it could influence sentencing. Crimo would face a mandatory sentence of life without parole if convicted of first-degree murder.

* Cook County Record | Judges’ association member recuses himself from case demanding judge association members recuse themselves from cases: U.S. District Judge Jorge L. Alonso is asking to be removed from a case that claims members in the state’s largest judicial lobbying group– of which he is one– play favorites and back the rulings of their fellow members over those of litigants. Alonso, a member of the Illinois Judges Association (IJA), asked on June 18 that Edward “Coach” Weinhaus v. Regina A. Scannicchio, et. al. be reassigned to another judge in the U.S. District Court.

* Sun-Times | Cook County agency employs Indiana politician who pleaded guilty in federal case: While his brother James Snyder has appealed his bribery conviction all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court — which is expected to issue a potential landmark ruling in the matter soon — Jon Snyder landed a new government job across the state line. He’s now working for an obscure but influential Cook County agency. Documents obtained by WBEZ show Cook County Board of Review Commissioner Samantha Steele hired Jon Snyder to join her staff as a $75,000-a-year analyst for commercial property tax appeals cases in December 2022.

* Tribune | North suburban commuter service to close, a sign of changing corporate office landscape: The Transportation Management Association of Lake-Cook Corridor will end operations July 1. The organization had for years run shuttles to north suburban campuses, providing one option to solve a problem that has long vexed suburbs: how to help employees travel the last bit of their commute between a train or bus station and their office. The closure comes amid a dramatic reshaping of the region’s corporate landscape. In just the north Cook County and south Lake County area once served by the TMA, insurance giant Allstate sold its sprawling Northbrook campus in 2022 and downsized. Baxter International tried to sell its Deerfield property, but eventually pulled it off the market after a prospective buyer pulled out when neighbors campaigned to derail a warehouse facility a developer proposed for the site.

* Daily Herald | Harper College student named Soldier of the Year by Illinois Army National Guard: At 19, Nathan Johnson is one of the youngest soldiers ever to win first place in the physically grueling, three-day Illinois National Guard Best Warrior Competition. Due to his rank as a junior enlisted man, Nathan Johnson, from Arlington Heights, was named Soldier of the Year by the Illinois Army National Guard at the April competition, which took place at the Illinois Guard training ground in Sparta.

*** Downstate ***

* Crain’s | VW’s lifeline to Rivian could help Illinois hang onto jobs: Volkswagen is throwing Rivian a $5 billion lifeline, a badly needed vote of confidence in the startup automaker that employs more than 8,000 people at a factory in downstate Normal. The German auto giant said it will invest $5 billion in a joint venture with Rivian, including an initial $1 billion infusion and another $1 billion in each of the next two years.

*** National ***

* STL Today | Acclaimed St. Louis restaurant Bulrush closes. Owner cites ‘hate politics’ in Missouri: Connoley, who is gay, cited Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s actions toward transgender people, including attempts to seek their medical records. “I’ve done LGBT advocacy for a long time, 30-plus years, and I’ve never seen something like this,” Connoley said. “Normally, it’s legislative, and there’s work you can do with your representatives and constituents. But here, it’s one person doing hate politics.”

* AP | Nation’s first publicly funded religious charter school blocked by Oklahoma Supreme Court: The high court determined the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board’s 3-2 vote last year to approve an application by the Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma for the St. Isidore of Seville Virtual Charter School violates the Establishment Clause, which prohibits government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion.” The ruling also says both the Oklahoma and U.S. constitutions, as well as state law, were violated.

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Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Live coverage

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* You can click here or here to follow breaking news. It’s the best we can do unless or until Twitter gets its act together.

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Selected press releases (Live updates)

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

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Isabel’s afternoon roundup

Tuesday, Jun 25, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Governor JB Pritzker…

Today, Governor JB Pritzker joined elected officials, early childhood advocates, and education leaders to sign Senate Bill 0001 into law, officially establishing Illinois’ new Department of Early Childhood. The new state agency, first proposed by Governor Pritzker in October 2023, will focus exclusively on early childhood programs and services for young children, improving equity and accessibility for families and caregivers.

“Our state-funded early childhood programs operate across three different state agencies, putting an unnecessary burden on those families looking for support and on those providing the support that’s needed,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “I am very proud to usher in the beginning of a new era for early childhood education and care in Illinois – as we create the Department of Early Childhood. Once fully implemented in 2026, this new agency will make life simpler, better, and fairer for tens of thousands of Illinois families.”

“The launch of the Department of Early Childhood puts the needs of our youngest learners front and center,” said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. “We’re making it easier for parents to find quality care and education, no matter their zip code. This new agency marks a transformative step in ensuring that every child in Illinois has access to the high-quality care and education they deserve.”

Currently, services for young children are housed in three separate agencies: the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Navigating the current system is complex and inefficient, often leaving service gaps and challenges for historically underserved communities. With this new agency, early childhood programs will be unified to improve ease and availability for families and providers seeking state resources, including:

    - The Early Childhood Block Grant at ISBE, which funds Preschool for All and the Prevention Initiative programs
    - The Child Care Assistance Program, Home-Visiting programs, and Early Intervention services at DHS
    Day care licensing currently managed by DCFS.

The transition will be led by education expert Ann Whalen, who has a background in education policy and teacher retention, and the Department of Early Childhood will begin administering all new programs in FY27 (July 1, 2026). Until then, programs will continue to be housed in legacy agencies as the State works with educators, parents, providers, and stakeholders to design the ideal framework and practical rollout for the new agency.

* Invisible Institute

Nine Black families interviewed for this story said they felt neglected and disappointed in the Chicago Police Department’s handling of their loved one’s missing person cases — services a majority believed were denied because their relatives were Black.

People searching for their missing loved ones felt abandoned and revictimized by Chicago police. In the face of rude behavior, unanswered phone calls and slow or lackluster investigations where evidence was fumbled or even lost by detectives, friends and family had to conduct their own searches and collect their own evidence.

In worst-case scenarios, people believe police delays and missteps allowed their loved ones to be murdered, leaving perpetrators uncharged or cases unsolved. Moore still wonders if Smith would be alive if police had followed up quickly, examined Smith’s phone and immediately questioned the man Smith was last seen with.

Shirley Enoch-Hill believes she will never find out what happened to her daughter, Sonya Rouse, who dreamed of being a news anchor. When Rouse went missing in 2016 at age 50, Enoch-Hill immediately suspected Rouse’s boyfriend, whom she claims physically abused her daughter throughout their relationship. According to police documents, an Illinois Department of Corrections official offered to arrange an interview between police Detective Brian Yaverski and the boyfriend (who was in an IDOC work release program), but Yaverski “decided to wait.” More than a year later, the boyfriend died of a suspected fentanyl overdose, and Yaverski never interviewed him. (Reporters contacted Yaverski for comment but he did not respond. CPD media affairs also did not respond to a request for comment.)

*** Statehouse News ***

* Press Release | Schmidt highlights support of legislation benefitting Seniors: HB1074 increases the maximum income limitation for the senior freeze to $73,700 for the 2024 taxable year. HB1274 standardizes the senior citizens homestead exemption to $8,000 across all counties and raises the maximum income limitation for the senior citizens assessment freeze to $75,000. HB1219 allows seniors to deduct Medicare premiums from their annual household income to qualify for the Low-Income Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption.

*** Statewide ***

* Bar News | Illinois Supreme Court Appoints Emily J. Hampton ARDC Commissioner: Ms. Hampton is the Director of Human Resources at Illinois CancerCare, P.C. in Peoria. She manages all strategic and operational functions of Human Resources and Administration over 14 locations throughout Central Illinois. Her work involves employee benefits, recruitment and retention, compensation, legal issues, contracting, and labor relations. She oversees a staff of 550 employees, including more than 20 physicians and over 40 mid-level health care providers. She attends and presents information at bi-weekly physician board meetings.

*** Chicago ***

* ABC Chicago | Democratic National Convention staff, volunteers start moving into United Center: Heavy-duty preps were happening inside the bowl at the United Center on Monday. Construction workers are transforming the sports and concert venue into the Democratic National Convention Hall, and Monday marked move-in day for staff and volunteers.

* Tribune | It’s not your imagination. Chicago traffic has gotten worse since the pandemic, report finds.: The region also had one of the biggest jumps in traffic congestion in 2023 compared with pre-pandemic, according to the new report from mobility analytics firm Inrix, made public Tuesday. Traffic was up 18% over 2019 levels, tying for the highest growth among the cities studied.

* Block Club | Walmart Donates Chatham Training Academy To Chicago Urban League A Year After Abruptly Closing: The academy was part of the Chatham Supercenter, which included the Walmart Health Center and a Walmart grocery store. The store and health center spaces remain vacant. Chicago Urban League will pay for the six-figure renovation, helping the group expand its existing job training and entrepreneurship opportunities at the Chatham site, said Karen Freeman-Wilson, president and chief executive officer.

* ABC Chicago | Chicago Cubs announce plan to use solar power at Wrigley Field for 1st time: A partnership with Invenergy, and their community solar company, Reactivate, will launch clean and renewable energy systems at the park. The Cubs will be an “anchor” for community solar projects in Wrigleyville.

* Block Club | West Nile Virus Found In South Side Mosquitoes: The mosquitoes — the first local ones confirmed to have West Nile in 2024 — were found in Greater Grand Crossing, Roseland and West Pullman, according to a Department of Public Health news release. No cases have been confirmed in humans. To prevent the spread of this virus, Chicagoans can use insect repellent; get rid of standing water where mosquitoes breed; keep grass and weeds short; ensure all screens, windows and doors are tight-fitting and free of holes; and wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing when outside at night, according to the health department.

* Tribune | Chicago Sky rookie Angel Reese is on track to be a WNBA All-Star — and she’s chasing a Candace Parker record on the way: Reese, who is second in the league in rebounding behind Wilson with 11.1 per game, was seventh in the first returns of fan voting with 118,490 votes. That ranked fourth among non-Olympians behind fellow rookie Clark (second overall), Boston (third) and Ogunbowale (fifth). “Every time that she’s stepped in, she keeps getting better,” Sky coach Teresa Weatherspoon said. “She does things that are incredible. Just to look at her, to see the way that she rebounds basketball — that’s All-Star status.”

* Crain’s | Union that helped build Chicago’s skyline opens new training facility: Ironworkers Local 63, which represented Chicago’s architectural and ornamental ironworkers, opened a 12,000-square-foot glass building at 2525 Lexington St. that will allow the union to simulate the pressurized work its members do such as installing glass windows and frames and other structural metal work on some of the city’s most recognizable buildings.

*** Cook County and Suburbs ***

* Shaw Local | St. Charles School Board president resigns from post, but staying on board: Before the vote, Fairgrieve, who has served on the school board since 2017 and as board president since May 2022, made a statement to address her reason for stepping down. “From my perspective, the reason for this agenda item is I am unable to complete all of my presidential duties at this time, specifically as they relate to school board policy 2:110,” Fairgrieve said.

* Sun-Times | Judge won’t overturn man’s murder conviction despite report that found ‘powerful evidence’ he may be innocent: A Cook County judge on Monday denied a man’s request to overturn his murder conviction, even as the state’s attorney’s office said it would not oppose it or seek to retry the case. In a nearly two-hour ruling, Judge Angela Petrone said Kevin Jackson’s latest attempt to overturn his conviction did not cite evidence that had not already been considered by his jury and other courts. In a statement released by his attorneys, Jackson said he believed the decision was “severely irrational and unjust.” His lawyers filed a notice of appeal hours later.

* Lake and McHenry County Scanner | McHenry County judge charged after allegedly speeding 93 mph, being injured in motorcycle crash: A McHenry County judge was charged after he allegedly drove his motorcycle at 93 mph and then crashed, leaving himself injured, as a sheriff’s deputy was conducting a traffic stop on him. […] The driver was identified as Jeffrey L. Hirsch, 55, of Woodstock, court records show. Hirsch is a McHenry County associate judge who was appointed to the position in October 2015.

*** Downstate ***

* Reason | Students in This Illinois School District Are Getting Tickets for Misbehaving: Students at an Illinois school district have been receiving tickets for misbehavior, resulting in fines of over $750, according to a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education this month. Further, the complaint alleges that black students in particular were singled out for this punishment—and white students who similarly broke school rules weren’t issued fines as frequently. Rockford Public Schools (RPS) serves a diverse group of nearly 30,000 students, around 30 percent of whom are black, 26 percent are white, and 31 percent are Hispanic. To handle disciplinary infractions, students are sometimes sent to school resource officers (SROs).

* WCIA | Urbana City Council passes budget without increased police funding: The proposed increase in funding for the Urbana Police Department has been a point of contention for weeks amongst the community. Chief Larry Boone wanted it in order to implement his plan for cutting down on crime — including new technology, increased staffing and improved community relations. Others wanted the funding to instead go toward having a more direct impact in the community such as social services and reducing poverty.

*** National ***

* Nieman Lab | Journalism has become ground zero for the vocation crisis:
As an occupation, journalism is attractive to many people because they can be paid to do work that’s interesting and socially beneficial. In this regard, it is similar to otherwise very different jobs like nursing, teaching, social work and caregiving. These are “vocations,” in the sense that sociologist Max Weber described them more than a century ago. Based on strong personal commitments, vocations promise recognition and a sense of self-worth for doing work that’s connected to broader values: healing people, fighting injustice, imparting knowledge, serving the cause of democracy.

* AP | US surgeon general declares gun violence a public health emergency: The advisory issued by Dr. Vivek Murthy, the nation’s top doctor, came as the U.S. grappled with another summer weekend marked by mass shootings that left dozens of people dead or wounded. “People want to be able to walk through their neighborhoods and be safe,” Murthy told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “America should be a place where all of us can go to school, go to work, go to the supermarket, go to our house of worship, without having to worry that that’s going to put our life at risk.”

* Bloomberg | Carolina Panthers win $650 million for stadium upgrade: The owner of the National Football League’s Carolina Panthers and Major League Soccer’s Charlotte Football Club has secured $650 million of public funds for a $1.3 billion renovation of Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. The newly approved plan uses existing hospitality and tourism tax resources to finance Charlotte’s part of the renovation through 2029. The sports group run by billionaire David Tepper, called Tepper Sports & Entertainment, is on the hook for another $150 million over the same time period. Tepper owns both the Panthers and Charlotte FC.

  3 Comments      


Today’s quotable

Tuesday, Jun 25, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From the Chicago Republican Party…

REMOVE DEMOCRAT SOCIALISTS FROM ALL GOVERNMENT

CHICAGO, IL — “Communism has been banned in the United States since 1954 with the Communist Control Act, yet we have numerous government officials who prescribe to Socialist ideology,” said R. Cary Capparelli, Republican candidate for the special two-year term at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

Capparelli added, “Communism is a growth of Socialism and we have a mayor in Chicago and other elected officials, all Democrats, that act as a Socialists.” He further noted that at least six (6) aldermen are members of the Chicago City Council Democrat Socialist Caucus.

“Leftists in academia are the foundation of the Socialist movement and they are poisoning our youth with unreasonable expectations. It’s also causing dishonesty in media which is ‘playbook’ Communistic tactic to disrupt honest government,” concluded Capparelli.

Voters are urged to disregard the term ‘progressive’ as it’s clandestine wordage for ‘socialist’. Republican candidates throughout Chicago and Cook County are working diligently to earn votes in the upcoming election to give citizens a real government with strong American values.

Other local Republican candidates in the November election include: Robert Fioretti for State’s Attorney, Lupe Aguirre for Clerk of the Circuit Court, Michelle Pennington for Cook County Clerk, Tien Glaub for Judge of the Cook County Circuit Court and the trio of Claire Connelly, Brendan Ehlers and Richard Dale, all for the six-year term at the MWRD.

Thoughts?

  34 Comments      


Study: The party’s over for Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax revenues

Tuesday, Jun 25, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The full study is here. From Melcher+Tucker Consultants…

Hi Rich and Isabel,

Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax Revenue and K-12 Education Funding in Illinois: Volume II, the newest report released today from the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (CTBA), finds that revenues from a tax on all Illinois businesses have surged in recent years, helping fund local government services, including education, but now are expected to decline sharply, “with important implications for state funding of K-12 education.” The report from the nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization, finds that revenue from the Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax (CPPRT) more than tripled between fiscal year 2019 and fiscal year 2023, jumping from $1.33 billion to $4.54 billion. But the Illinois Department of Revenue is expecting a fall of nearly 29% in FY2024. The revenues have been an important contributor to the state’s Evidence Based Formula for Student Success Act (EBF), and current projections show that CPPRT revenue to school districts in fy’25 will be $400 million less than they are in fy’24. “As CPPRT revenue begins to decline in the coming years, the educational services previously funded by some of the unexpected growth in CPPRT revenue will have to be funded with other revenue sources or be cut,” the report says.

The rise in CPPRT, according to the report, is due to a number of relatively unique economic circumstances: the release of pent-up consumer spending that occurred after pandemic restrictions were eased, higher than normal rates of inflation, and many corporations taking advantage of inflationary trends generally and supply chain issues specifically to price gouge and thereby generate record profit. The spike “was a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it did help close the statewide Adequacy Gap (in education funding) at a faster rate than anticipated—which is good. On the other hand, the CPPRT is a local revenue source, so the spike that occurred during the Surge Years effectively shifted more K-12 funding to local rather than state level resources, which is not ideal in Illinois, which already relies more on local revenue to fund K-12 education than any other state in the nation.” As CPPRT revenue growth reverts back to historical levels, the statewide Adequacy Gap will begin to worsen annually if the state maintains its current approach of increasing its year-to-year Tier funding by [$350] million, the report says. “Hence the amount of time it takes to fund the EBF fully will lengthen past current projections—which is an undesirable outcome to say the least.”

According to the report, Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax revenue shot up from $1.3 billion in Fiscal Year 2019 to $4.5 billion in Fiscal Year 2023. It’s projected to drop down to $3.2 billion this fiscal year.

* Impact on the Chicago Public Schools budget

(H)istoric highs in CPPRT revenue help explain why CPS moved into the next higher funding Tier under the EBF over the last two fiscal years. Also… other factors—including a reduction in total [Average Student Enrollment ] as well as a reduction in low-income student count, played a role in bumping CPS from Tier 1 into Tier 2. This change in Tiers for CPS was consequential. When CPS moved from a Tier 1 district to a Tier 2 district in FY 2023, the district lost just over half—52 percent—of its anticipated share in new, year-to-year state Tier funding.

* And this is just crazy

A major fiscal complication that arises from using CPPRT as a part of local resources is that it allocates revenue to school districts in accordance with their respective collections of Tangible Personal Property Tax revenue in either 1976 or 1977, depending on whether or not the district is in Cook County. Much has changed in the Illinois landscape over the last half-century, demographically, industry-wise, and economically.

Which means the allocation formula used in the CPPRT is outdated and no longer representative of where businesses exist geographically in Illinois. For example, in FY 2024, CPPRT revenue made up nearly 65 percent of the total Final Resources for Monticello CUSD 25 (“CUSD 25”). Part of the reason CPPRT revenue comprises such a significant portion of CUSD 25’s revenue is that, in 1977 large businesses like Illinois Power and General Cable were sited in CUSD 25’s community—allowing it to collect significant revenue from its assessment of the Tangible Personal Property Tax. Those industries have gone, yet the district’s CPPRT revenue share is determined as if they still exist.

Other districts that did not have as strong of a business or industrial presence in 1976 or 1977 are likely receiving significantly lesser shares of CPPRT revenue, even if they are now home to bigger business entities. This effectively means that CPPRT taxes paid by a business sited in one community are being transferred to the benefit of a school district sited in a different community, based on antiquated allocation design. Fixing these distortions will not be easy—as certain districts would stand to lose significant funding for their schools through any modernization of the CPPRT allocation formula, and should be held harmless by the state to ensure their financial condition is not impaired.

Yikes.

Lots more, so go read the rest if you’re interested.

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Another Bears stadium false alarm

Tuesday, Jun 25, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Twitter went kinda nuts after an NBC Sports Chicago host posted this…


Barstool Chicago and others jumped on it…


* I checked around and was told the story was, um, bovine excrement. “Change ’stadium deal’ to ‘property tax appeal’ and it might be accurate.”

* And now comes the inevitable walkback…


  24 Comments      


Showcasing The Retailers Who Make Illinois Work

Tuesday, Jun 25, 2024 - Posted by Advertising Department

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Retail provides one out of every five Illinois jobs, generates the second largest amount of tax revenue for the state, and is the largest source of revenue for local governments. But retail is also so much more, with retailers serving as the trusted contributors to life’s moments, big and small.


We Are Retail and IRMA are dedicated to sharing the stories of retailers like Lorena and Sugeiri, who serve their communities with dedication and pride.

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Massive tollway contract screwup leads to TRO

Tuesday, Jun 25, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Illinois Tollway press release from November of 2023

November construction contracts awarded include:

    • A $323.9 million contract to Judlau Contracting Inc., College Point, NY, to reconstruct and reconfigure the southbound side of the I-290/I-88 Interchange on the Central Tri-State Tollway (I-294) between the Cermak Toll Plaza and St. Charles Road

* Chicago Tribune last month

A contractor that says its $323 million contract for work on the massive Interstate 294 reconstruction project was improperly terminated has sued the Illinois Tollway.

Judlau Contracting, a New York-based company, says in its lawsuit that it had started work on the interchange of Interstate 290 and Interstate 88 when its contract was terminated by the Illinois Tollway on May 16. The lawsuit, filed in DuPage County Circuit Court, says the action was without proper legal basis and harmed the company’s reputation and overall business.

The company also says the sudden halt in the project could cost taxpayers millions of dollars extra and create safety risks for drivers on the interchange. […]

Judlau said the state agency cited two specific provisions for ending the contract. One specifies that termination can only occur if “there are changed circumstances, the effects of which were not known to the Tollway at the time of execution of the contract, and, for these reasons, the Tollway determines that termination is in its best interest,” according to the complaint. The other provision allows the Tollway to “cancel or alter any or all portions of the work” due to “circumstances either unknown at the time of bidding or arising after the contract was entered into.”

Judlau said it knows of no factors that satisfy those provisions, and that the Tollway did not provide further explanation, responding only several days later by saying “at this time, we do not have any additional information to convey regarding the termination.”

More from the Daily Herald

Judlau was chosen as the lowest bidder in 2023 to reconfigure the southbound side of the tangled interchange for about $323 million, the lawsuit states.

The company had hired subcontractors and laborers, moved equipment to the site, secured materials, and was about six weeks into construction when it was dismissed “in a cursory two-sentence letter.”

Pulling the plug on the work will impact hundreds of jobs, Judlau contends, and also create traffic hazards. Workers “left the site in a safe condition via use of temporary barriers — but this is not a permanent solution.”

The tollway has steadfastly refused comment.

* But now we’re finally getting some answers. Marni Pyke

Tollway officials said in an affidavit they did not initially realize they had to apply a 4% preference, or reduction, to Illinois companies bidding for the job. Judlau is based in New York.

The 4% preference is a relatively new change to the state procurement code that went into effect in December 2023.

The tollway board awarded the contract to Judlau, which was the low bidder over [Walsh Construction], in November.

But in April, “I reviewed the bids submitted … and discovered that the tollway had not allocated a 4% bid preference to the base bid submitted by Walsh, which was and is an Illinois business,” Chief of Procurement Peter Foernssler said, according to court documents.

The tollway misunderstood the mandatory nature of the change in procurement policy, he added.

*Facepalm*

According to Pyke’s story, a DuPage County judge has now issued a temporary restraining order preventing the tollway from hiring another firm.

  29 Comments      


Welch urges judge to toss staff unions’ lawsuit

Tuesday, Jun 25, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Subscribers know more. From Capitol News Illinois

Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch is urging a Cook County judge to dismiss a lawsuit members of his staff filed against him last month seeking to force recognition of their union.

In a new filing Monday, attorneys for Welch argued the Illinois Legislative Staff Association has no standing to sue over the speaker’s refusal to engage in collective bargaining with the would-be union’s members. Welch’s attorneys reiterated an argument the speaker has been making for nearly a year: Illinois law doesn’t currently allow legislative staffers to unionize.

Although Welch last fall introduced and passed legislation through the House that would explicitly allow his employees to unionize, the bill has not advanced in the Senate. The ILSA last month accused Welch of feigning solidarity in public while privately colluding with Democratic Senate President Don Harmon to ensure the bill died in his chamber. And a few days after the General Assembly’s spring session concluded, the staffers sued Welch.

The speaker’s attorneys pointed to the ILSA’s “failure to appeal” the Illinois Labor Relations Board’s decision to not certify the union in March 2023, which found legislative staffers are specifically excluded from being able to form a union.

* From the filing

Speaker Welch is Immune from Suit Regarding his Interactions With Legislative Staff Under Article IV, Section 12 of the Illinois Constitution Requiring Dismissal Under Section 2-619(a)(1) of the Code of Civil Procedure.

Article IV, Section 12 of the Illinois Constitution, which attaches broad immunity to legislators regarding legislative activities, provides:

SECTION 12. LEGISLATIVE IMMUNITY
Except in cases of treason, felony or breach of peace, a member shall be privileged from arrest going to, during, and returning from sessions of the General Assembly. A member shall not be held to answer before any other tribunal for any speech or debate, written or oral, in either house. These immunities shall apply to committee and legislative commission proceedings.

* ISLA organizer Brady Burden…

“These legal gymnastics are embarrassing. Speaker Welch is saying that he is both above the law and shackled by it. The Illinois Constitution unequivocally guarantees us the right to bargain collectively, and we remain confident the courts will ultimately side with us. At the end of the day, Speaker Welch is only continuing to demonstrate his utter lack of shame.”

  52 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Another supplement to today’s edition

Tuesday, Jun 25, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

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Open thread

Tuesday, Jun 25, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* What’s going on in your part of Illinois?…

  12 Comments      


Isabel’s morning briefing

Tuesday, Jun 25, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* ICYMI: Ed Burke sentenced to 24 months in prison. Crain’s

Ed Burke, Chicago’s longest-serving alderman, was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison and fined $2 million today for attempting to steer business to his law firm in exchange for helping companies big and small navigate the City Council where he held enormous sway.

Burke, 80 years old, was convicted in December on charges of racketeering, attempted extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion and promoting bribery, official misconduct and extortion. The sentence was far lighter than what Burke could have received and less than what some had expected.

U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall acknowledged the sentence of 24 months in prison, coupled with a $2 million fine, is unusual.

“I’ve never done this before,” she said, describing her thinking. “How do we give a sense to the public of some redress for the harm? One of the things I think would give them redress is the fines that are much higher usual. . . .Fines go into the victim crime fund. Part of my sentence is going to be a really significant fine.”

* Related stories…

The governor will sign a bill creating the state Department of Early Childhood today at 1:30. Click here to watch.

* Brenden Moore


*** Isabel’s Top Picks ***

* Capitol News Illinois | Advocates say SCOTUS ruling paves way for law ensuring abusers have guns confiscated: But after Friday’s high court ruling, advocates say there is nothing else standing in the way of lawmakers taking up the bill, which last summer was rebranded “Karina’s Bill” after Gonzalez’s murder. The bill would clarify existing state law and require law enforcement to take guns from those subject to certain domestic violence orders of protection. Amanda Pyron, executive director of Chicago-based domestic violence advocacy organization The Network, said it “hit a lot of us really hard” that Friday’s Supreme Court decision was published on the one-year anniversary of Gonzalez’s order of protection against her husband.

* WAND | Pritzker promotes Illinois workforce, innovation during 2024 SelectUSA investment summit: “We are a state that brings workforce, energy and great sites,” Pritzker said. “Just like Governor Youngkin, we invest in our sites to make sure that what you’re looking for is available in the state of Illinois.” Pritzker said he is glad that the Illinois economy has recovered following the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to major investments in renewable energy, manufacturing and quantum technology.

* Capitol Connection | Health insurance industry plans for incoming reforms: There are a number of reforms on the way for the health insurance industry. Governor Pritzker made it a top priority this legislative session, and now health insurance companies are preparing to make the changes. The plan prevents health insurance companies from using a process called step therapies, where they require a patient to use a less expensive option, even if their doctor prescribes something different. It also bans prior authorization for mental health treatments, and it requires health insurance companies to regularly audit their directories.

*** Statehouse News ***

* Tribune | Illinois’ landmark credit card fee law prompting strong opposition: Just last week a trade association representing credit card companies and banks began running online ads in Illinois declaring the ban “MAY FORCE YOU TO PAY FOR PARTS OF PURCHASE IN CASH,” and print ads saying, “Tipping on your credit card is closed to Illinoisans.” While some supporters — which include many Democrats and Illinois’ main association for retailers — say those claims are hyperbolic, the new law is setting up what could be a yearslong fight between the state and financial institutions that argue the overhaul is not only a bad idea but is unrealistic because it calls for implementation in a little more than a year.

*** Statewide ***

* WGEM | Planned Parenthood of Illinois, Pro-Life Action League reflect on second anniversary of Dobbs decision: Since Dobbs, PPIL said it’s seen a 47% increase in the number of patients seeking abortion care with 25% of all patients seeking abortions coming from other states. That number was 3-5% before Dobbs.

* Cook County Record | Former Employee Sues Major Party Supply Company Over Biometric Data Violations: Marquez was employed at Party City’s Naperville, Illinois distribution warehouse from August 26, 2018, to June 20, 2019. According to the complaint, Party City uses voice recognition technology called “Vocollect” to manage its warehouse operations. This technology requires employees to provide voiceprints—unique biometric identifiers created by reading specific words into the system during training. These voiceprints are then stored and used to identify workers during their shifts. The lawsuit alleges that Party City collected these voiceprints without informing employees or obtaining their written consent as mandated by BIPA.

* NBC Chicago | From gas taxes to minimum wage, here are changes coming on July 1 in Illinois: While Illinois’ minimum wage will not go up, residents in Cook County and Chicago will see higher minimum wages starting on July 1. According to city officials, the minimum wage in Chicago will rise to $16.20 an hour, up from $15.80. That number increases annually according to the Consumer Price Index or a rate of 2.5%, whichever is lower, according to officials.

*** Chicago ***

* Sun-Times | 47 candidates file for Chicago school board elections: Chicago’s first-ever school board elections will feature 47 candidates vying for 10 seats, a number surpassing most expectations and including parents, former teachers and principals, nonprofit workers and a rapper. The window for hopefuls to submit their minimum 1,000 signatures to get on the ballot closed Monday afternoon with more than two dozen final-day submissions wrapping up the week-long process that kicked off the elections.

* Chalkbeat | Who are the Chicago school board candidates for the 2024 election?: To learn more about the new school board districts and find out which one you live in, Chalkbeat created an interactive map. Many candidates have also begun fundraising for their campaigns, reporting contributions to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

* Sun-Times | Ann Lurie, who came to Chicago a nurse and became one of city’s best-known philanthropists, dies at 79: A self-described hippie, Ms. Lurie moved to Chicago in 1973 to work as an intensive care nurse. She wound up giving tens of millions of dollars to Northwestern University, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Greater Chicago Food Depository, PAWS Chicago and several other organizations both in the city and beyond.

*** Cook County and Suburbs ***

* Daily Herald | Cook County tax bills going out on time in July, officials say: After two years of significant delays blamed on the COVID-19 pandemic and technological problems, the second installment of Cook County property tax bills for Tax Year 2023 will be issued on time next month, officials announced Monday. Nearly 1.8 million tax bills will be accessible online by July 2 and mailed out early in the month, with a due date of Aug. 1, county officials said.

*** Downstate ***

* Advantage | Alton flood reduction measures to be discussed: Alton is kicking around the ways to protect downtown against future flood events. The city has spent millions of dollars building temporary walls and on post-flood cleanup in recent years, so the Riverfront Advisory Commission will hear a “Flood Mitigation Project Update” at the end of Tuesday’s public meeting. Most of the discussion since the topic was first brought up in late 2022 has focused on a permanent flood wall, but Christine Favilla of the local Sierra Club tells The Big Z there are other options.

* WREX | Rockford to host Ironman competition, city announced Monday: The competition, which is being called Ironman 70.3, is set to take place in 2025, 2026 and 2027. The triathlon will consist of swimming, biking and running, that will have athletes compete throughout Rockford as well as the countryside north of the city.

*** National ***

* Tribune | Early adopters, mainstream success, buyer’s remorse — where is the EV market headed?: In 2023, EVs made up 18% of global passenger-vehicle sales. By 2030, according to the report, 45% will be EVs. That number jumps to 73% by 2040 — still short of what the world needs to reach net zero emissions in transportation, the firm says, but enough to achieve major reductions in climate-changing carbon emissions. The long-term outlook adds a bit of glow to more recent news, especially in the U.S. and in California, where an EV sales slowdown, led by Tesla, has spanned two quarters, challenging the state’s climate goals.

* Crain’s | Supreme Court rejects challenge to $2.67B Blue Cross settlement: Justices declined a petition from the home improvement retailer, design consultancy Topographic and benefits provider Employee Services alleging that the settlement does not treat self-insured customers fairly and does not go far enough to promote competition between Blue Cross companies. The court did not specify why it rejected the employers’ request. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled in October that 93.5% of the settlement funds should reimburse individual and small business policyholders that paid monthly premiums for Blue Cross plans and that self-insured employers receive the remaining amount.

* NBC | Texas abortion ban linked to 13% increase in infant and newborn deaths: Lawmakers passed Texas Senate Bill 8, or SB8, in September 2021. The state law banned abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as five weeks. This effectively banned abortion in the state, which used to allow abortion up to 22 weeks of pregnancy. The law did not include exemptions for congenital anomalies, including conditions that will cause a newborn to die soon after birth. The new study compared infant death rates in Texas from 2018 to 2022 to those of 28 other states. The data included newborns 28 days or younger and infants up to 12 months old. Infant deaths in Texas rose by nearly 13% the year after SB8 was passed, from 1,985 in 2021 to 2,240 in 2022. During that same period, infant deaths rose by about 2% nationwide.

  13 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition

Tuesday, Jun 25, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)

Tuesday, Jun 25, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Live coverage

Tuesday, Jun 25, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* You can click here or here to follow breaking news. It’s the best we can do unless or until Twitter gets its act together.

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Selected press releases (Live updates)

Tuesday, Jun 25, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

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« NEWER POSTS PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Today's quotable
* The Internet is forever, Rodney
* Edgar Fellows Class of 2024 unveiled
* Uber Partners With Cities To Expand Urban Transportation
* Governor Pritzker endorses Kamala Harris for president (Updated)
* Mayor Johnson's actual state ask is $5.5 billion, and Pritzker turns thumbs down
* Open thread
* Isabel’s morning briefing
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Selected press releases (Live updates)
* Pritzker, Durbin, Duckworth so far keeping powder dry on endorsing VP Harris (Updated x7)
* Biden announces withdrawal from reelection (Updated x3)
* Yesterday's stories

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