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Isabel’s morning briefing

Wednesday, Jul 10, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* ICYMI: Central Illinois receiving $4.7M grant for clean energy pre-apprenticeship program. WAND

    -Central Illinois is receiving a $4.7 million grant to launch a pre-apprenticeship program for several hundred people to join the clean energy workforce this year.
    -The Climate Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program will prioritize underrepresented communities and Illinoisans who historically faced economic and environmental barriers.
    -The Pritzker administration is providing approximately $13.6 million in grant funding to start the pre-apprenticeship programs in northern, central and southern Illinois.

* Related stories…

Governor Pritzker will sign the Healthcare Protection Act at 10 am. Then at 2 pm, the governor will give remarks at Reimagining Public Safety Act reception. Click here to watch.

*** Isabel’s Top Picks ***

* WGN | Chicagoland transit heads push back on proposal to combine agencies: The Metropolitan Mobility Authority Act, unveiled earlier this year by state Sen. Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) and state Rep. Eva-Dina Delgado (D-Chicago), aims to streamline services and reduce the competition for funding between the RTA, the CTA, Metra and Pace. “We all want to do the best job we can and do not believe that combining us into one organization will make us better,” said Pace Executive Director Melinda Metzger.

* Crain’s | Illinois to expedite Medicaid services for those leaving prison: The Illinois Department of Healthcare & Family Services will launch a new program to bring Medicaid services and other resources to people transitioning out of incarceration or other institutional settings, following federal approval of an HFS demonstration waiver request.

*** Statehouse News ***

* Capitol News Illinois | Former GOP state lawmaker, candidate for governor sentenced to 42 months in prison: In February, [Former Republican State Sen. Sam McCann] pleaded guilty to seven counts of wire fraud and one count each of money laundering and tax evasion – but only after prosecutors had spent nearly three days presenting evidence against him at trial. U.S. District Judge Colleen Lawless hearkened back to that moment as she was handing down her sentence Tuesday afternoon, saying McCann’s refusal to “accept responsibility” until the last possible moment factored into her calculation for prison time. She also told McCann she was bothered that he “continued to steal” all while “holding yourself out (to be) a God-fearing public servant.”

* Rep. Kam Buckner | While we debate changes to DuSable Lake Shore Drive, let’s focus on the lakefront: The roadway portion of the project requires coordinated efforts between the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago, and while some, including me, eventually envision a true boulevard, we should not delay in advancing improvements to our lakefront. Enhancements such as better beaches, improved bike paths and increased greenspace are essential, regardless of the ultimate design of the drive itself. Why not undertake the critical work of improving the lakefront first, with trail upgrades and more greenspace that has near universal support now? By doing so, we can get to work sooner and lay the groundwork for a more modest, environmentally conscious and transit-focused lakefront boulevard. This approach allows us to demonstrate the benefits of such improvements, making it easier to build consensus over time.

* SJ-R | New Illinois budget invests heavily in education. Why do some say it’s not enough?: Both the home visiting and early intervention programs saw their funding increase by 21% and 3% respectively under this budget. Still, Illinois Action For Children believes the $6 million tallied for early intervention to be paltry and unable to increase provider reimbursement rates leading to delays in service. “Illinois must increase investment in the early childhood workforce across all programs and settings,” said Angela Farwig, IAFC’s vice president of public policy, advocacy and research in a news release. “Our early childhood system thrives from the commitment of our educators, and we need robust workforce investment to build a brighter future for our children.”

*** Statewide ***

* Tribune | Kroger identifies 35 Illinois Mariano’s, Jewel locations to be sold off pending megamerger approval: Eight of the stores slated for sale are in Chicago. If Kroger and Albertsons — which first announced plans to merge in 2022 — secure approval for the deal, the store locations listed would be sold to C&S Wholesale Grocers for $2.9 billion. Most Kroger-owned Mariano’s would be divested under the plan, which calls for selling 31 of the company’s 44 stores. Kroger has also said it would sell the Mariano’s brand name to C&S. Just four of the planned divestitures are Albertsons-owned Jewel-Osco locations.

* Chalkbeat | Illinois revenue from a tax on corporate profits is projected to decline. Here’s what that means for school districts: The shift comes as federal COVID recovery money dries up, and local education advocates fear that the recent addition of $350 million to the state’s education budget isn’t enough to match the needs of schools. The state’s evidence-based funding uses data from previous years, which means districts that saw unexpected gains from this unique tax on local businesses could receive fewer state dollars in the future. As districts finalize their budget for this upcoming school year, those receiving fewer state dollars will have to figure out how to fill in the gaps.

*** Chicago ***

* WBEZ | Mayor Johnson slowly builds on a campaign promise to hire more young people for city’s summer jobs program: Roughly 27,140 young people are working in the One Summer Chicago program this year, according to figures provided by the Department of Family and Support Services. That falls short of Johnson’s goal to hire 28,000 young people (though the number may still grow this summer) and far below his campaign promise to double the program in size.

* WTTW | Board Yanked Convicted Ex-Ald. Ed Burke’s $96K Annual City Pension Just Minutes After Sentencing, Records Show: U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Kendall sentenced Burke to two years in prison and imposed a $2 million fine shortly before 3:30 p.m. June 24. Less than 30 minutes later, pension fund executive director Tiffany Junkins directed her staff to stop the $8,027 per month pension payments to Burke and to cut him a check for $543,516.92 — the amount he contributed to his pension during the 62 years he spent working for the city of Chicago and its sister agencies, plus interest, according to records obtained by WTTW News through the Freedom of Information Act.

* Sun-Times | Chicago’s Democratic convention could cause traffic nightmares for hospitals near United Center: Just how bad traffic could get snarled isn’t clear. The Secret Service is still finalizing plans for a security perimeter around the Near West Side arena, and those plans won’t be released until late July. Hospital officials expect the perimeter to butt up against the medical district, which lies south of the Eisenhower Expressway down to Roosevelt Road, between Ogden Avenue and Ashland Avenue. The district includes Rush, Cook County Health, the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System, several nonprofits and city, county and state health agencies.

* Tribune | School board candidate roster narrows as more than half face objections before the Chicago Board of Elections: The crowded field of candidates vying to win one of 10 seats on Chicago’s first elected school board in the fall narrowed slightly Tuesday, with three candidates filing withdrawal papers, trimming the race down to 44 candidates, according to the Chicago Board of Elections. Among 27 candidates subject to challenges to the validity of their nomination petitions, nonprofit administrator Danielle Wallace, educator Darius Dee Nix and former Chicago Public Schools Principal James Walton have dropped out of their respective races in the 6th, 8th, 10th districts.

* WBEZ | The path to a CPS test-in high school often begins at age 4, with a test most don’t know exists.: Chicago Public Schools refuses to produce data that would reveal how many students can access these gifted programs and their racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. The district said providing the demographics for gifted programs within schools would entail creating a new database, which it is not required to do. Nine of the regional gifted centers are in elementary schools that also have neighborhood or magnet programs.

* Tribune | More than 12,000 have applied to volunteer for the DNC in Chicago: Chicago 2024 Host Committee Executive Director Christy George said the volume of volunteer applications showed excitement about the convention throughout the city and state, calling the achievement a “massive planning milestone.” Nearly 75% of the applications came from Illinois residents and people from every Chicago ZIP code applied to volunteer, George said in the release.

*** Cook County and Suburbs ***

* Daily Southtown | Former Dolton lawyers sue competing attorney for defamation: The Berwyn-based law firm claims Burt Odelson, of the Odelson, Murphey, Frazier and McGrath law group, made knowingly false statements about the Del Galdo group that led to the trustees turning against them as village attorneys. […] According to the lawsuit, Odelson told attendees at a Feb. 22 Dolton Village Board meeting that Del Galdo had a conflict of interest in representing the village and had billed the village tens of thousands of dollars “in violation of Dolton’s corporate authorities.”

*** Downstate ***

* Tribune | University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign taps new business school dean: The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has named W. Brooke Elliott as its new dean of the Gies College of Business. Elliott’s appointment begins Aug. 16 and is subject to approval by the university’s board of trustees, according to the school’s news release. She will also serve as a professor in business.

* Capitol News Illinois | Menard prison staff picket, citing unsafe working conditions: The problems at the southern Illinois facility stem from low staffing levels, said Rick Hepp, a correctional sergeant at the prison. Hepp said that in recent months the prison has been operating with about 50 fewer correctional officers than it should have daily. “There’s lots of issues here that add up to a big powder keg and the fuse is lit,” said Hepp, who is president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1175, a union representing Menard employees.


  1. - I hate Scott Turow - Wednesday, Jul 10, 24 @ 7:53 am:

    That Dolton story: everyone seems to be a bad actor.

  2. - DuPage Saint - Wednesday, Jul 10, 24 @ 8:16 am:

    I guess Sam McCann needed a few more letters of support

  3. - Donnie Elgin - Wednesday, Jul 10, 24 @ 9:04 am:

    “A jury found Burke ran City Hall like a mafia don for decades, shaking down those who needed or desired an official action from their elected leaders”

    Burke losing his pension so quickly after his convictions makes my day.

  4. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Wednesday, Jul 10, 24 @ 9:10 am:

    I think the best part of the Dolton story is Loevy and Loevy representing Del Galdo’s law firm. It is like a charcuterie board of the biggest egos on planet Earth.

  5. - JoanP - Wednesday, Jul 10, 24 @ 9:16 am:

    = They also warned . . . that “no one wants to represent the village.” =

    Gee, I wonder why.

  6. - Nick - Wednesday, Jul 10, 24 @ 9:18 am:

    I do like that they’re naming it Metropolitan Mobility Authority because to make it Transit Authority would just be confused with New York’s MTA.

  7. - Payback - Wednesday, Jul 10, 24 @ 9:20 am:

    “Enhancements such as better beaches, improved bike paths and increased greenspace are essential, regardless of the ultimate design of the drive itself.” How is Buckner going to make the beaches “better?” How is Buckner going to increase “greenspace?” The Chicago Park District only has so much space between the Outer Drive and the lake to work with, so how is Buckner going to “increase” that?

    Putting CTA buses on LSD is one of the stupidest ideas I’ve heard in the last forty years. I seriously wonder if any of the young socialists actually grew up within ten miles of the lake.

  8. - low level - Wednesday, Jul 10, 24 @ 9:23 am:

    For Chicago School Board, just tell me who is supported by CTU and who has the best chance of defeating the CTU candidate. Then vote for that person.

    It’s that simple.

    If the CTU is able to gain control, say goodbye to Payton, Whitney Young and Jones among others. They will wreck anything that has highly performing students and positive learning environments.

  9. - Suburban Mom - Wednesday, Jul 10, 24 @ 9:55 am:

    ===Most Kroger-owned Mariano’s would be divested under the plan, which calls for selling 31 of the company’s 44 stores.===

    Like I expect many people do, I not only object to this merger in general, but I am specifically annoyed that I will lose access to the Kroger house-brand lemon juice that I can get at Marianos, which is BY FAR my preferred lemon juice because it has the most sensible packaging. Like I will probably get mad about this again every time for the next 20 years I go to use lemon juice.

  10. - Suburban Mom - Wednesday, Jul 10, 24 @ 9:58 am:

    The WBEZ story fails to note that testing for giftedness before about the age of 7/2nd grade is utter nonsense and not supported by any scientific evidence. It’s just showing differential development and parental socio-economic status before then.

  11. - Hannibal Lecter - Wednesday, Jul 10, 24 @ 9:58 am:

    === Burke losing his pension so quickly after his convictions makes my day. ===

    Except he got over a half a million bucks of his contributions back. With that and his age, this decision will have little to no impact on his quality of life, especially if you consider his wife has a very nice Tier 1 pension herself.

    But have your feel good moment, for whatever that is worth.

  12. - James the Intolerant - Wednesday, Jul 10, 24 @ 10:01 am:

    Is anyone fact checking the transit talking heads? Metra receives 50% of their budget from taxes. Of course they don’t want to lose their bloated organizations. Metra salaries:
    CEO $325K, Dep Exec Dir Admin $297K, Dep Exec Dir Operations $277K, Dep Exec Dir External Affairs $272K. And countless bloated salaries under these positions.
    Plus, Metra pays a Project Management firm $30M/year to oversee their projects because with 23 employees earning more than $184K/year, no one can do that. Revamp/merge now.

  13. - Donnie Elgin - Wednesday, Jul 10, 24 @ 10:50 am:

    “I am specifically annoyed that I will lose access to the Kroger house-brand lemon juice”

    Be annoyed at the Feds - they are forcing the divestiture.

    “It’s still not clear if the plan will satisfy federal regulators. The Federal Trade Commission sued to block the merger in February”

  14. - Stix Hix - Wednesday, Jul 10, 24 @ 11:11 am:

    Suburban Mom–You made my day. Thanks.

  15. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jul 10, 24 @ 12:15 pm:

    ===How is Buckner going to increase “greenspace?” ===

    Maybe try reading the op-ed first?

  16. - Lurker - Wednesday, Jul 10, 24 @ 12:18 pm:

    Hopefully as McCann deservedly goes to prison his letters to the editor will be rejected. They are a crime in themselves.

  17. - Bus Rider - Wednesday, Jul 10, 24 @ 12:30 pm:

    Can somebody tell me - why aren’t the other transit boards(Sangamon, Champaign, Winnebago, etc) included
    in the debate of consolidation?

    Maybe the Northern Counties are the only counties that matter to the Senate Transportation committee

    just saying

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