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Isabel’s morning briefing

Monday, Jul 8, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* ICYMI: A major shake-up of Metra, CTA and Pace? Now’s the time to speak out as public hearings kick off. Daily Herald

    - Tuesday marks the beginning of several state Senate Transportation Committee hearings on the future of Chicago-area transit.
    - Proposed legislation would dissolve the boards of Metra, Pace, the CTA and RTA, and create a 19-member Metropolitan Mobility Authority board.
    - Out of nearly $780 million in transit system-generated revenues, 44% comes from Metra and Pace, 54% derives from the CTA, according to the RTA’s 2024 budget.
    - There will be tough questions about who pays more into the system, who’s riding and who deserves the most representatives on the proposed MMA board — city or suburbs?

* Related stories…

* Heh

*** Isabel’s Top Picks ***

* The Marshall Project | Domestic violence survivors in Illinois are in prison for abusers’ crimes: There is no comprehensive data about how many people are in prison for the crimes of their abusers. Through a search of legal documents, though, the Marshall Project was able to identify nearly 100 people across the country convicted of assisting, supporting or failing to stop a crime by their alleged abusers. Some of the women showed clear signs of abuse at the time they were arrested. One Illinois woman was in a neck brace.

* The Pantagraph | Behind the Pritzker administration’s quest to signal Illinois is ‘open for business’: After taking “a lot of good notes,” Pritzker and his team got to work. They determined early on that creating a new state-level economic development corporation “was going to take too long.” So the reworked apparatus would be housed within existing state agencies. It starts with the governor’s office, with Manar and first assistant deputy governor Claire Lindberg quarterbacking the effort day-to-day. Pritzker gets personally involved in pitching Illinois to CEOs and serving as a go-between different companies across the state when necessary.

* SJ-R | Shaboozey, Keith Urban, Lil Wayne: Here are all of the Illinois State Fair headliners: Crossover artist Shaboozey, who was featured on Beyoncé’s “Cowboy Carter,” will fill out the final Illinois State Fair Grandstand slot on Aug. 18. Tickets are $20-$30 and go on sale through Ticketmaster on Saturday.

*** Statewide ***

* Capitol News Illinois | Illinois switching to ACT exams for state assessments: In recent years, though, many colleges and universities stopped requiring either the SAT or ACT as part of their application and admission processes. In 2021, Illinois lawmakers passed the Higher Education Fair Admissions Act requiring all public universities and community colleges to adopt a “test-optional” policy for admissions, meaning students could voluntarily choose whether to include them in their application package. But ISBE continued using the tests as part of its federally mandated statewide assessments.

* Capitol News Illinois | State ends fiscal year with nearly $5B cash on hand: Comptroller Susana Mendoza noted the high cash balance helped Illinois generate over $558 million in interest income in FY24, a 53 percent increase from the previous year. She said in a news release she plans to exercise new authority granted to her office in the budgeting process this year to pre-pay required monthly pension payments while funds are available. “This will enable the (pension) systems to plan accordingly and keep more of the pension funds in their investment portfolios,” Mendoza said in a statement.

* WCIA | Senate GOP Leader talks Republican chairman exit ahead of convention: There are only a couple of weeks left until the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, but the Illinois Republican Party is struggling its way onto the convention floor after chairman Don Tracy announced that he will be resigning due to turmoil within the party. […] That infighting Tracy discussed grew as former president Donald Trump became the flag bearer for the national republican party. Republicans are going to officially nominate Trump as their candidate in Milwaukee. And Curran — who is seen as a more moderate Republican, is standing by him. “President Trump is our candidate. I thought his debate performance was very good the other night. I think he displayed a lot of vigor for the for the office he’s seeking to return to,” Curran said.

* WGLT | Soil and water conservation districts leader sees budget cut as a call to action: The new state budget includes a $4 million, or nearly 50%, cut to operating funds for Illinois soil and water conservation districts. That’s the money used to pay experts and other front-line staff who advise farmers and other property owners about conservation practices, like cover crops and no-till farming, and help them access federal or state cost-share funds to implement them. The intergenerational harm comes because many of those projects take years to complete.

*** Chicago ***

* Crain’s | Mag Mile landlords get the OK to tax themselves — but not without a delay: A bill recently signed by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker allows property owners along North Michigan Avenue and other commercial corridors in Chicago to impose a small tax on themselves to fund area improvements, but a new district won’t be in place along the Magnificent Mile until at least 2026. Backed by Mayor Brandon Johnson and pushed through Springfield by Chicago Democrats, state Rep. Kam Buckner and state Sen. Sara Feigenholtz, the legislation creates business improvement districts, or BIDs, in the city.

* Tribune | In Chicago’s tent cities, ‘a multitude of challenges’ to address the city’s rising homelessness: On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that cities and states can enforce bans on homeless people sleeping outdoors, which has experts and advocates for the homeless worried that accumulating citations and criminal proceedings could raise even higher barriers to housing and stability for people who started out with no place to go. […] In an interview with the Tribune, Sendy Soto, Chicago’s chief homelessness officer, said the homeless in Chicago had nothing to fear from the ruling. The city plans to stick with its housing-first approach to getting homeless people off the streets.

* The Triibe | Garfield Park and Englewood residents dream of safe futures: As Chicago enters the summer months, often marked by increased violence due to warmer weather, The TRiiBE interviewed people experiencing the most divestment in West Garfield Park, East Garfield Park, and Englewood to understand their visions for safety. In these interviews, they describe what they believe would be most effective in creating safety and security in areas with high levels of poverty, the challenges and barriers shaping the safety of their neighborhoods, and the role law enforcement should play in building a safe community. […] For Englewood residents, safety isn’t solely about policing; it’s about coming together. Initiatives like the R.A.G.E. Englewood (Resident Association of Greater Englewood) have been pivotal in giving residents the agency to reclaim their neighborhoods. Tra’Vonne Wright is an Englewood resident and member of the Getting Grown Collective, a neighborhood organization that supports communities through agriculture projects, policy collaboration, and health access. He spoke about organizations like R.A.G.E. fighting against gentrification and helping residents buy back homes, Grow Greater Englewood which supports sustainable farms and businesses, and Teamwork Englewood which provides essential resources and amenities.

* Tribune | ‘I want her to worry about who’s waiting on the corner’: How one man uses Facebook to frighten his children’s mother and why police do nothing: She had been locked in a custody and child support battle for years with her ex-partner, a computer whiz with a sizable social media following and a well-documented disregard for court orders. Since moving to Florida in 2021, he had been offering money on Facebook for information regarding his children. […] In a telephone interview with the Tribune, the children’s father, Micah Berkley, confirmed he wrote the posts soliciting pictures of his daughters on social media. He said he also seeks photographs through targeted Facebook ads that appear in the feeds of people who live within a ½-mile radius of Ward’s house and the children’s school. […] “I hear she’s scared,” he told the Tribune. “She should be scared. She should be terrified. I want her to worry about who’s waiting on the corner whenever she walks outside.”

* Tribune | A dedicated bus lane on Western Avenue? Nearby aldermen support overhaul plan to make CTA less ‘Loop-centric.’: The proposal will certainly face complaints. A similar idea floated by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel for Ashland Avenue flopped about a decade ago amid opposition, including from drivers who decried the project they said would slow car traffic to a crawl on the major thoroughfare. But the coalition pushing the latest plan for so-called BRT is stepping on the gas. Their aspirations, if realized, would amount to the most dramatic reimagining of a Chicago roadway in decades.

* WTTW | Bronzeville Community Microgrid Charts a Path to a Green Energy Future: The Bronzeville Community Microgrid is powered by rooftop- and ground-mounted solar installations at the CHA’s Dearborn Homes. Large batteries in the community then store that power. Natural gas-fired generation is also available to ensure continuous power to the community in the event of a major grid interruption, according to ComEd.

*** Cook County and Suburbs ***

* ABC Chicago | Northwestern College in Oak Lawn abruptly shuts down after 122 years: The Oak Lawn school made the announcement that it has shut down and closed its doors as of Saturday, July 6. The decision to close the college was made because of financial reasons, a statement from school officials said.

* Daily Southtown | Landmarks: ‘Globally rare’ habitat in Lockport gets an $8 million boost, Army Corps attention: And May 31, county, state and federal officials gathered at the site to cut a ceremonial ribbon for Lockport Prairie and nearby Prairie Bluff preserves, where the 6-year, $8.3 million “major ecosystem restoration project” had just wrapped up, marking the completion of a plan that had been in discussions since the 1990s. The Army Corps of Engineers invested $5.5 million in federal aquatic ecosystem restoration funds, while the Forest Preserve District contributed $2.8 million in land value, according to a Will County news release.

*** Downstate ***

* BND | Fight over $3.5 million to help fund East St. Louis police pensions heads to court: Seizing state money from the city of East St. Louis to help pay for police pensions is unconstitutional and would reduce local government’s ability to provide essential services to its citizens, the city says in a lawsuit against the Police Pension Board and Illinois Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza. […] Nick Mueller, president of the East St. Louis Police Pension Board, told the BND that city officials knew the board would be asking for the intercept. Some city officials were present when the board voted last month to proceed with the intercept request. They voiced no objections, Mueller said. Nine days later, on June 20, the city filed its lawsuit in St. Clair County Circuit Court. The pension fund, the pension board and Mendoza are named as defendants.

*** Sports ***

* Daily Herald | ‘We’re in a much better place’: Arlington Heights mayor says Bears have responded to proposed deal: “We’ve worked very hard to come to an agreement with the school districts that I think the Bears can be comfortable with, and that’s been communicated to the Bears, and that’s what we’re discussing now,” Mayor Tom Hayes told the Daily Herald. “So I feel very comfortable that should the Bears reengage with us and continue to explore the Arlington Park site, that the road is going to be much easier than we found in past months.”

* Tribune | Chicago Sky rookie Angel Reese surpasses Candace Parker for the WNBA all-time consecutive double-double record: To set the new record, Reese surpassed former Sky star and Naperville native Candace Parker, who previously set the record with a 12-game streak between the 2009 and 2010 seasons. She had already passed Parker’s record for a single-season double-double streak in last week’s loss to the Minnesota Lynx. The Sky lost 84-71 to the Storm on Sunday. Reese finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds.

* Tribune | From reliever to starter to All-Star: Chicago White Sox pitcher Garrett Crochet earns 1st All-Star nod: The Chicago White Sox left-hander earned All-Star honors for the first time in his career Sunday as he was named the team’s lone representative to the American League roster. “Now that it’s real, it definitely has a different feel to it,” Crochet said. “Excited. Thankful for the people who voted. Thankful for my teammates. I wouldn’t be here without them. I know it’s been a bumpy season, but the relationships we formed in the clubhouse really makes it easy to go out there and play hard for the guys.

*** National ***

* Tribune | Illinois AG Kwame Raoul joins Democratic counterparts in defending DEI initiatives: Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul took the lead on a letter signed by 19 Democratic attorneys general late last month reaffirming their position that programs supporting diversity are valid and mitigate racial discrimination, part of an effort to take back the narrative from conservatives. The letter was delivered to the American Bar Association, Fortune 100 company CEOs and other organizations that may be targeted for DEI initiatives. In an interview, Raoul said he wants to ensure “this very well-coordinated effort to undermine efforts to be inclusive, both in higher education and the corporate sector, does not succeed.”

* ABC Chicago | Six Flags, Cedar Fair complete $8 billion merger to create largest park operator: Six Flags this week completed an $8 billion merger with rival Cedar Fair to create the largest amusement park operator in the United States. Together, they operate 42 amusement and water parks across 17 states. The success of the deal will determine the future of these amusement parks, and diehard rollercoaster fans are watching carefully. Some are optimistic that the condition of Six Flags’ parks will improve. Others worry it will become more expensive to get into their favorite parks.

* NerdWallet | Corporations want you to rent, not own. Can lawmakers stop them?: Corporate landlords raise rent and charge ancillary fees because they can. “These institutions have outsized power in our housing market, and that influence is growing,” said U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, in an email. “By 2030, Wall Street could control 40 percent of U.S. single-family rental homes.” […] Merkley, the Oregon senator, has introduced a bill that would force corporate landlords to sell their houses. The End Hedge Fund Control of American Homes Act “is intended to give all families a fair chance to buy a decent home in a decent community at a price they can afford, because houses should be homes for families, not a profit center for Wall Street,” Merkley said in an email. His bill would make corporate landlords sell at least 10% of their inventories of single-family rental homes every year for 10 years or face steep tax penalties. A similar bill was introduced into the House, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Washington.

* AP | Boeing accepts a plea deal to avoid a criminal trial over 737 Max crashes, Justice Department says: The plea deal, which still must receive the approval of a federal judge to take effect, calls for Boeing to pay an additional $243.6 million fine. That was the same amount it paid under the 2021 settlement that the Justice Department said the company breached. An independent monitor would be named to oversee Boeing’s safety and quality procedures for three years. The deal also requires Boeing to invest at least $455 million in its compliance and safety programs.


  1. - Big Dipper - Monday, Jul 8, 24 @ 9:24 am:

    Curran: “I thought his debate performance was very good the other night.”

    If lying nonstop is a very good performance to the Illinois GOP it will continue its downward spiral.

  2. - Give Us Barabbas - Monday, Jul 8, 24 @ 9:51 am:

    The cyberstalking story infuriates me: the guy has admitted his actions to cops, but they don’t charge him, he’s got a warrant, nobody bothered to serve it. State police cyber crime division was designed for this and can’t executer. What’s it going to take to protect these women? And why are state’s attorneys and police departments so darned lazy about prosecuting cybercrime ?

  3. - Don't Bloc Me In - Monday, Jul 8, 24 @ 12:35 pm:

    I hate to break it to Jaret Lundberg,but Death Valley received flooding rains in 2022 and 2023. Badwater Basin became a lake. The park is still recovering from all the damage. I hear Arizona could use NASCAR’s charm.

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