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Saturday, Feb 24, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Reader comments closed for the weekend

Friday, Feb 23, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Taj Mahal will play us out

To love me to my soul, oh to rock me to my soul

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Judge rules Bring Chicago Home referendum should be struck from ballot (Updated x2)

Friday, Feb 23, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The Sun-Times has edited its story, so I updated my headline and here’s the revised version

A Cook County judge Friday ruled that a referendum question funding homelessness prevention in Chicago via a real estate transfer tax increase should be struck from the March primary ballot, dealing a major political blow to the measure’s biggest proponent, Mayor Brandon Johnson.

The ruling represents a big win for the real estate industry and development groups that sued to block the ballot measure.

Judge Kathleen Burke also rejected the Chicago Board of Elections’ efforts to dismiss the case and she also denied a motion by the city to intervene in the case.

While the referendum question was in flux, voters were already weighing in through mail ballots and in-person early voting. A spokesman for the Chicago Board of Elections previously said the results of any votes already cast would not be made public if the referendum question were to be struck down. […]

The suit asserted the referendum measure is a “textbook example” of a time-honored legislative tactic known as “log-rolling” — combining a politically unpopular proposal with a popular one to sugar-coat and, therefore, convince voters to swallow the bitter pill.

I assume there will be an appeal, but the clock is ticking.

…Adding… Daily Line…

…Adding… Crain’s

A Cook County judge ruled today that votes on the March 19 city ballot measure to increase the real estate transfer tax on properties over a $1 million will not be counted.

Even so, the measure’s proponents are still telling voters to go to the polls.

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Burke ruled in favor of the Chicago Building Owners & Managers Association, who sought to block the Bring Chicago Home initiative, which would have used revenue from the higher transfer tax to fund programs for homeless people. As a result of her ruling, the question will remain on the ballot but the votes will not be counted.

Burke did not elaborate on her reasoning and abruptly left the court after a two-hour session. Advocates for the transfer tax proposal, dubbed Bring Chicago Home, say they plan to appeal.

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Isabel’s afternoon roundup

Friday, Feb 23, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Sun-Times

Nearly four years after Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration gave the OK for the General Iron scrap-metal operation to move to the Southeast Side, he’s agreed that the state of Illinois will take a tougher look at the likely environmental impact in the future before allowing such pollution-producing businesses to move into low-income areas.

The deal made public Friday with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency commits Illinois to consider the impact of allowing more polluting industry in low-income neighborhoods already burdened with environmental and social stresses.

Under the agreement, sparked by a complaint from Southeast Side groups, Illinois environmental officials will beef up their oversight of polluters who are setting up operations or expanding. New measures include more notifications to residents and possible public meetings. Prior violations of environmental laws may trigger additional pollution controls or monitoring. Site locations of polluters near schools, day cares and health centers will get more scrutiny.

Community organizations, health and environmental advocates and other politicians made the case to Pritzker in 2020 that he should deny a state permit to allow construction and a pollution-control plan for the General Iron car-shredding operation that was being moved from Lincoln Park. Pritzker’s environmental officials said they had no choice but to approve the project at East 116th Street along the Calumet River.

* Press release

The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus called a press conference Wednesday to offer their responses to Governor Pritzker’s annual budget address.

“The stability and progress that was mentioned by Governor Pritzker today has helped many communities, but we expect that help to trickle down to the Black community,” said State Representative Carol Ammons (D-Chicago), Illinois Legislative Black Caucus House chair. “Our goal is to not just put it into the budget, but to get it out to our communities. We look forward to redressing investments in the Black community, because as we invest in the Black community everyone knows that is an investment all other communities benefit from.”

Black Caucus members joined to address the parts of the governor’s budget proposal relating to the ILBC’s four-pillar legislative agenda aimed to rid Illinois of systemic racism. Members echoed a resounding responsibility to speak to the issues in the Black community that do not quite translate into the budget investments.

Black Caucus members called for investments to improve academic opportunities for low-income and minority students, investments in trades in communities of color to foster economic development, and increased investments in public safety and gun violence prevention in disadvantaged communities. Despite previous budget proposals including investments to counter-act inequities across a wide range of issues, data shows little improvement in these inequities.

“We saw a proposed budget that acknowledges a handful of issues that disproportionately affect Black communities, such as gun violence, maternal mortality rates, and economic access and equity,” said State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago), Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Senate chair. “The ILBC fought hard to enact four key pillars to reform Illinois and dismantle systemic racism across the state. I look forward to fighting alongside my colleagues to ensure adequate funding reaches the communities that need it most as we move forward with budget negotiations.”

The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus also announced they will release a document entitled, “Leveling the Playing Field: Using the General Fund Budget to Invest in Building an Equitable State and Eliminating Structural Racism” with dollar figures listed alongside issues mentioned at the press conference.

* Does Martinez not have a comms director?


* From Graciela Guzman’s campaign…

Today, a new article from the Illinois Answers Project detailed how Clerk of the Circuit Court Iris Martinez improperly exposed the names of thousands of juvenile defendants to the public in violation of state law. In January, Martinez’s office added a feature to the court system’s online case search system to allow the public to look up criminal court records. However, for weeks Martinez’s office did not realize the feature exposed the names of juvenile defendants, which are supposed to be sealed under state law, potentially risking the privacy and safety of these young people.

Martinez is the top political backer of State Sen. Natalie Toro (20th District) and was key to her appointment to the position in July. Multiple members of Toro’s family, including Toro’s aunt – a disgraced former Cook County Judge – work as top deputies in Martinez’s office.

20th District State Senate Candidate Graciela Guzman’s campaign manager Caitlin Brady released the following statement in response:

“Iris Martinez’s catastrophic failures continue to undermine criminal justice reform, all while political protegee Natalie Toro follows directly in her footsteps. Is Toro willing to call out her chief political patron for her disastrous term in office, or will she simply continue to use big money ads to hoodwink voters and lie about her previous endorsement from the FOP? It’s time for Natalie Toro to come clean about her relationship with Iris Martinez.”

* WBEZ

Although [Ald. Ray] Lopez points to his differences with [US Rep. Chuy] García, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson and other top Democrats, he has longstanding and deep ties to one of the party’s most powerful figures of the past half-century — the recently convicted former Ald. Edward Burke.

Even as the federal corruption case against Burke toppled him from power, the former alderman’s ties to Lopez have grown closer, records show. Lopez has moved his ward office and political operation into Burke’s old headquarters at 2650 W. 51st St.

A little more than five years ago, that same building was raided by federal agents, and Burke was charged soon after that. The city has paid $21,000 to the entity that owns the building since July, according to records.

Lopez’s campaign headquarters are in the building’s rear unit, which is listed as the address for Lopez’s political fund, the 15th Ward Democratic organization and the congressional campaign.

The landlord is none other than Burke himself. According to Cook County and state records, the building’s owner is a company whose managers are Burke and daughter Jennifer Burke.

That company gifted $1,750 in “headquarters rent” to Lopez and his ward organization, state campaign finance disclosure records show.

* A silver lining, at least his heirs will sell the team?


* Someone bought it! Was it Speaker Welch?



* Here’s the rest…

    * Crain’s | AT&T wireless nightmare was triggered by company work on network expansion: “Based on our initial review, we believe that today’s outage was caused by the application and execution of an incorrect process used as we were expanding our network, not a cyber attack,” an AT&T spokesman said in a statement. “We are continuing our assessment of today’s outage to ensure we keep delivering the service that our customers deserve.”

    * Vital City | Learning about ShotSpotter — and Gun Violence — from Chicago: Our research in Chicago found that police officers stopped their patrol cars more often and closer to the location of reported gunfire when responding to ShotSpotter alerts than 911 calls, as measured by GPS coordinates of patrol vehicles. The recovery of illegal firearms increased in police districts covered by ShotSpotter, particularly at the scenes of fatal shootings. However, ShotSpotter did not reduce the occurrence of shots-fired calls for service, fatal shootings, non-fatal shootings or other violent felonies committed with firearms. The introduction of ShotSpotter in police districts had no impact on gun-violence crime clearance rates (the proportion of cases solved by police).

    * Crain’s | After Alabama ruling, Duckworth moves to protect in vitro fertilization: “We were right to be worried that IVF could be next,” Duckworth said on X, formerly known as Twitter. “This ruling effectively labels women in Alabama who undergo IVF as criminals and their doctors as killers. Congress must pass my bill to establish a statutory right to access IVF and other ART services nationwide.”

    * Tribune | Top cop offers harsh critique of COPA after agency recommends CPD fire 28 officers: In the last eight weeks, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability has recommended the Chicago Police Department fire 28 officers — an “unprecedented” number, CPD’s top attorney told the Chicago Police Board. But the avalanche of new disciplinary cases now sitting with Snelling is a byproduct of the City Council’s decision to approve most of the new CPD union contract last year — unanimously, without a single question posed to city negotiators.

    * Daily Herald | Board of Review member says panel’s decision to increase Arlington Park property about ‘fairness’: If approved, the value would still be lower than what the Cook County assessor’s office set earlier this year. In a news release issued Thursday, Cardenas said he voted along with Larry Rogers Jr. to increase the assessed value of the former horse-racing track now owned by the Chicago Bears to $124.7 million out of “fairness to the Bears and fairness to Arlington Heights taxing bodies.”

    * Sun-Times | Official at center of Little Village implosion debacle tapped as city’s acting buildings chief: Mayor Brandon Johnson named Marlene Hopkins acting commissioner of the Department of Buildings after firing her former boss last week. Almost four years ago on Easter weekend, Hopkins and another buildings department official were in charge of making sure that the implosion of an almost 400-foot chimney was performed safely.

    * Daily Herald | Kane County Board incumbent Kenyon to face challenger Stare in Republican primary election: A stark contrast in views among Kane County Republicans could not be more apparent than in the March 19 primary contest between Kane County Board District 16 incumbent Michael Kenyon of South Elgin and his opponent Eric Stare. Kenyon is a dairy farmer who has served on the board for 18 years.

    * Bond Buyer | S&P lowers outlook on Chicago’s GO bonds to stable: S&P Global Ratings has revised the outlook on Chicago’s general obligation bonds to stable from positive, the rating agency announced Thursday. S&P affirmed its BBB-plus rating on the bonds.

    * Sun-Times | Retiring WGN meteorologist Tom Skilling: ‘It seems like what I did meant something to people’: “I thought: ‘Oooh, I’m not funny, I’m not much of a showman. What’s my schtick going to be?’ ” Skilling says. “And I always worried about that. Well, it turns out, I guess, in retrospect, my schtick is that I dug into the science of weather. And, I’ll tell ya, it used to scare the devil out of the news consultants. They’d look at you grimly and say, ‘jetstream, dew point?’ Nobody knows what that is. All they want to know is: Is it going to rain tomorrow?’”

    * Reuters | Chicago corn’s race to $4 more significant than meets the eye -Braun: Projections released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in October implied the cost per bushel to raise corn domestically in 2024 would be around $4.80, down from 2023. CBOT December corn CZ24, which represents the upcoming harvest, has undergone its biggest February slide since 2013, settling at $4.53-1/4 on Thursday.

    * Sun-Times | Former Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould is the new head football coach at Rolling Meadows: Multiple sources have confirmed that former Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould is the new head football coach at Rolling Meadows High School. Gould replaces Sam Baker, who held the job for four seasons. Gould met with the Rolling Meadows players on Friday morning. Some local media members were at the school for the announcement but they were not allowed to speak with Gould.

    * WaPo | An ectopic pregnancy put her life at risk. A Texas hospital refused to treat her: Norris-De La Cruz ultimately received emergency surgery about 24 hours later at a different hospital in the area, at which point her ectopic pregnancy had already started to rupture. The OB/GYN who performed the procedure said that, if Norris-De La Cruz had waited much longer, she would have been “in extreme danger of losing her life.”

    * USA Today | Caitlin Clark inches closer to Pete Maravich’s scoring record as Iowa hosts Illinois: The fourth-ranked Hawkeyes (23-4, 12-3 Big Ten) were routed 86-69 by Indiana on Thursday and now find themselves two games out of first place in the Big Ten behind Ohio State, which they play in the regular season finale on March 3. Clark is averaging a nation-leading 32.4 points, 8.5 assists, and seven rebounds this season. Next up for Iowa is Illinois (13-12, 7-8), which is coming off an 86-66 win against the Hoosiers on Feb. 19.

    * WTTW | Exhibit Explores Impact of Evictions With Help From People With Lived Experience: James Lee Williams can relate to the one of the videos playing at the “Evicted” exhibit at the National Public Housing Museum in River North. “It’s touching,” Williams said. “It’s about a woman pouring out her heart because she lost everything.”

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Doom Grifter announces 2024 ‘Blue Room Tour’ with special guests

Friday, Feb 23, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Made by a friend with probably a little too much time on his hands

Hey, it’s Friday.

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Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Campaign updates

Friday, Feb 23, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Question of the day

Friday, Feb 23, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I wouldn’t have expected to see a press release like this, but I did, so here it is…

Illinois AFL-CIO and Chicago Federation of Labor leaders support medical-aid-in-dying state legislation

SPRINGFIELD (February 23, 2024)—A bill introduced in the Illinois Senate last week that would allow medical aid in dying for those suffering from terminal illnesses is supported by the principal officers of both the Chicago Federation of Labor and the Illinois chapter of the AFL-CIO.

The legislation—SB3499, the End of Life Options for Terminally Ill Patients Act, initially sponsored by Senate Assistant Majority Leader Linda Holmes and State Sen. Laura Fine, would make Illinois the 11th state to give terminally ill individuals the option to experience a peaceful death by requesting and self-administering medication.

“Our Illinois unions have a long history at being at the forefront of positive social change, and this is another example of them leading the way,” said Amy Sherman, Midwest Advocacy Director for Compassion & Choices Action Network Illinois, a member of the Illinois End-of-Life Options Coalition. “The majority of Illinoisans - 7 out of 10 likely voters in a 2023 Impact Research poll - want this compassionate option. Advocates, especially those experiencing terminal illnesses or who have witnessed loved ones suffer at the end of life, are grateful to see key labor leaders support this legislation.”

“When a worker chooses to join a union, they exercise a fundamental right to engage in collective action to even the field with their employers,” said CFL President Bob Reiter. “And when faced with a terminal diagnosis, people should also have a choice when planning their end-of-life care with their medical providers.”

“Terminally ill patients deserve autonomy and compassion as they weigh end-of-life care options with their medical provider. Dying people should have the power to choose what brings comfort and peace of mind for themselves and their families,” said Tim Drea, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO. “Just as we fight for the rights of workers to choose to join a union, we must also fight for individuals to have control over their own medical care, especially when faced with a devastating prognosis.”

The Illinois End-of-Life Options Coalition is a statewide partnership dedicated to raising both awareness and support across Illinois for medical aid in dying for terminally ill adults. The coalition’s goal is to authorize medical aid in dying and ensure that terminally ill people who want it can access it. The coalition’s partners include ACLU Illinois, Compassion & Choices Action Network Illinois, and Final Options Illinois. Learn more about their work at illinoisoptions.org

* The Question: Do you agree with their arguments? Explain.

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Illinois Is #9 In The U.S. For Reported Gas Leaks, End The Halt On Gas Line Replacement

Friday, Feb 23, 2024 - Posted by Advertising Department

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Illinois ranks #9 in the U.S. for reported gas leaks, shows a study conducted in June 2022 on methane gas leaks. Frequent leaks are resulting in death, injury, and other damage to our health and environment. Pausing critical replacement of our aging natural gas lines is dangerous for everyone.

When Governor Pritzker’s appointees on the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) shut down the natural gas line Safety Modernization Program in Chicago, it not only wiped out 1,000 jobs, but also subjected residents and business owners to the unnecessary danger of aged gas infrastructure that is no longer allowed to be replaced.

Tell Gov. Pritzker and the ICC to restart the program, lives are at risk. Transitioning to electric without a plan will cost homeowners thousands of dollars. We need to fix our dangerous natural gas lines for our safety.

Click on the links to view our ads: Ticking Time Bomb & Real Change.
To learn more and help fight back, visit us online at Fight Back Fund.

Paid for by Fight Back Fund

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It’s just a bill

Friday, Feb 23, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Secretary of State Giannoulias in the Tribune

New state legislation targets titanium dioxide and four other synthetic ingredients — brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propylparaben and red dye No. 3 — that have been linked to serious health problems, including hyperactivity, nervous system damage, reproductive issues, hormonal impairment and even cancer.

I recently stood with state Sen. Willie Preston and Rep. Anne Stava-Murray to introduce the Illinois Food Safety Act, which aims to ban these harmful chemicals in candy, soda and other ultraprocessed foods sold here. […]

As secretary of state, I oversee the state’s organ donor registry, one of the largest organ and tissue donation programs in the nation, which depends on healthy organs for individuals suffering from life-threatening diseases or injuries. Unfortunately, we’re seeing far too many chronically sick individuals in need of transplants these days and far fewer healthy organs available.

The goal of our legislation is to help ensure Illinoisans — and especially our children — eat safer and healthier food. What the bill doesn’t do is equally important: It doesn’t take food off the shelves, it doesn’t force companies to eliminate brands or products, and it doesn’t restrict the manufacturing or distribution of products with those ingredients, so long as they aren’t sold in Illinois.

* Center Square

State Rep. Maura Hirschauer, D-Batavia, introduced House Bill 4709 that would amend the current state statute that says if a county board chooses a school to be a polling place, then the school district must make the school available for use as a polling place.

“At my son’s elementary school, I have to buzz through two doors and show an ID just to talk to the secretary. There’s a disconnect between that safety measure and the safety measures we have in place for polling,” said Hirschauer.

Right now, the law says the school is encouraged to close school for Election Day, which is in November. The law makes no mention of closing schools for primaries or consolidated elections. […]

Lakeview Junior High School is currently used as a polling place in Downers Grove and Superintendent Andrew Wise said when there are distractions where the entire community is let in while school is in session, it raises anxiety.

“It raises anxiety in our students, in our faculty and staff because there are people in the building that have not been granted permission to be inside for the day for a specific purpose,” said Wise.

* WAND

One proposal could support the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation’s goal to reclaim land stolen from them more than 200 years ago. The measure would allow Illinois to transfer ownership of Shabbona Lake State Park to the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. […]

Chief Shab-eh-nay is the great grandfather four generations removed of Joseph Rupnick, Chairman of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation.

“In the 1850s when Chief Shab-eh-nay traveled to his home after we were forcibly removed from Illinois to Kansas to make sure the nation was settled, the government stole the land and illegally auctioned off more than 1,200 acres of his land that was rightfully and legally ours,” Rupnick said. […]

“The governor has shown his support conceptually,” said Rep. Mark Walker (D-Arlington Heights). “The details of this deal are not finally settled. But the Department of Natural Resources has been cooperative and helped with this. We’re going to get there.”

* WGEM

A bill would require public K-12 schools with names, logos or mascots containing Native American tribes or aspects of Native American culture to change them. It’s sponsored by state Rep. Maurice West, D-Rockford.

“The presence of native mascots, logos and names harm native children. They harm native children,” said Megan Bang, director of Northwestern University’s Center for Native American and Indigenous Research.

She said research shows mascot names like Warriors, Indians and Braves hurt Native American kids. […]

The bill only impacts public K-12 schools. It does not impact the University of Illinois’ nickname, Fighting Illini.

* RDN

Two Illinois bills seek to create the Motor Vehicle Insurance Fairness Act, which would create a review process for car insurance rate increases in the state.

HB4611, introduced by [Rep. Thaddeus Jones], and SB3213, introduced by Sen. Javier Cervantes (D-District 1), will be heard in the General Assembly’s Insurance Committee Monday. […]

Guzzardi filed a similar bill last year in the House. It never made it out of the Rules Committee after a review by it and the Insurance Policy Subcommittee.

A consumer advocacy group in California, Consumer Watchdog, says an insurance review process in their state has saved consumers from $3 billion in auto insurance hikes since 2002.

* Jenna Prochaska’s op-ed in the Tribune

The Illinois legislature has the opportunity to enact long overdue protections from the harmful effects of so-called “crime-free” housing and nuisance property ordinances.

These ordinances, known as CFNOs, are local laws that encourage landlords to evict or exclude tenants based on their contact with the criminal legal system or calls for police help. The Community Safety through Stable Homes Act, introduced earlier this month by state Rep. La Shawn Ford (H.B. 5314) and state Sen. Karina Villa (S.B. 3680), will provide important protections for Illinois tenants and property owners. The legislation would prevent local governments from imposing penalties based on a tenant’s contact with police. It would also prohibit local policies that encourage or require landlords to use broad criminal background checks or to evict tenants based solely on their contact with the police or alleged criminal or nuisance behavior. […]

The harms caused by CFNOs are well documented and persistent. These ordinances are drafted very broadly and give wide discretion to the local officials charged with enforcing them — often the police. As a result, they can affect innocent tenants who are not at fault for the alleged criminal or nuisance activity and who may even be attempting to report crime or request police assistance. A family in Granite City, Illinois, for example, faced the possibility of eviction under the city’s CFNO based on the alleged criminal activity of the adult daughter, who did not even live with the family in its home.

For more than a decade, advocacy organizations have targeted harmful CFNOs through litigation, local policy advocacy, community outreach and education. The issue has historically united unlikely coalitions. Advocates for tenants have come together with advocates for the rights of property owners, who risk facing unfair penalties for failing to evict tenants under the ordinances. Civil rights groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, as well as groups with an economic libertarian focus such as the Institute for Justice, have taken legal action in response to the civil rights threats CFNOs pose. These efforts have generated important successes, but municipalities throughout the country — including more than 100 in Illinois — continue to enforce some form of CFNO.

* Sen. Mike Porfirio…

State Senator Mike Porfirio introduced legislation that would require public colleges and universities to waive transcript evaluation fees for refugees of Iraq and Afghanistan.

“In waiving these fees, we can invest in the academic journey of Iraqi and Afghan refugees while helping them,” said Porfirio (D-Lyons Township), who served alongside Iraqi and Afghan translators during Operation Iraqi Freedom and served as a police advisor during the war in Afghanistan. “We have a moral obligation to support those who have served shoulder to shoulder with us.”

Currently, transcript evaluations assess foreign transcripts as part of an admission process for higher education institutions. These evaluations are used to establish a U.S.-equivalent GPA, verify the accreditation of the schools where the applicant obtained or will obtain their degree, and benchmark completed coursework to determine if the applicant has met the prerequisite coursework requirements for their intended program.

Some institutions require applicants with foreign transcripts to pay a fee to outside vendors to evaluate the transcripts. Transcript evaluation fees vary widely in price, but they usually cost over $100. Porfirio’s bill would require higher education institutions to waive these fees for Iraqi and Afghan refugees.

* Poynter

The ailing local news industry in Illinois would receive compensation from Big Tech companies and benefit from state tax incentives and a new journalism scholarship program under sweeping legislation introduced in the general assembly this month.

“It is the most ambitious package of local journalism policy that I’ve seen,” Anna Brugmann, policy director for the nonprofit Rebuild Local News, said of two bills introduced by state Sen. Steve Stadelman, a Democrat who chaired the bipartisan Illinois Local Journalism Task Force.

“Employment in newsrooms has drastically declined,” Stadelman said. “A third of the newspapers in Illinois have closed over the years. Clearly there is a crisis in local journalism.”

The Journalism Preservation Act would require Big Tech companies such as Google and Facebook to compensate news organizations for the content that they share, display or link to on their platforms. The Strengthening Community Media Act offers a broad array of incentives, tax breaks and scholarships intended to repopulate local newsrooms. Included in that bill is a provision that calls for 120 days’ written notice before a local news organization may be sold to an out-of-state company.

  32 Comments      


More budget news

Friday, Feb 23, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Dave McKinney last year

With tax season approaching, millions of Illinoisans won’t be seeing a bump up in a widely used state tax credit known as the standard exemption after lawmakers throttled a planned increase in the credit for the 2023 tax year.

Tucked within a 558-page revenue package, the little-noticed tax change came about last spring with passage of the state budget omnibus package approved by the Democratic-led General Assembly and enacted by Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker. […]

Prior to the 2023 tax year, the standard exemption increased 10 times under an automatic escalator tied to inflation put into effect in 2012 by former Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who served as the state’s chief executive between 2009 and 2015. The change roughly a decade ago had overwhelming bipartisan support in the legislature.

But the standard exemption will remain flat this tax-filing season at $2,425 for those who declare adjusted gross income of $250,000 or less individually or $500,000 or less for married couples.

* Dave McKinney this week

An inflation-indexed tax credit that millions of Illinoisans receive would rise for the 2024 tax year under a $93 million proposal by Gov. JB Pritzker, but the increase is short of what current law dictates and what legislative Republicans and former Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn want.

The possible increase in the standard exemption from $2,425 to $2,550 per person was included within Pritzker’s proposed $52.7 billion budget proposal he outlined Wednesday.

Pritzker’s proposed change would amount to slightly less than $25 in savings for a family of four over 2023 tax year levels, according to calculations by WBEZ. […]

When Pritzker and Democrats instead decided last year to keep the $2,425 amount in effect for the 2023 tax year, the law was written so the inflation escalator would resume for the 2024 tax year and continue in place through the 2028 tax year.

That meant the standard exemption would automatically rise to $2,775 for tax year 2024.

That’s $225 more than what Pritzker is now proposing — setting up a scenario where lawmakers doing nothing on the governor’s proposal this spring actually would be more generous for taxpayers than what Pritzker is floating.

I explained this to subscribers yesterday morning. I’d suggest clicking the links if you don’t quite get it. I can only excerpt so much.

But the bottom line is the governor essentially decided to skip an increase in the standard exemption during a major inflationary year and then restarted the cost of living clock, likely because it would’ve been an even bigger hit to the budget than the $93 million this will cost.

* Here’s more…

  14 Comments      


Open thread

Friday, Feb 23, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* What’s going on with y’all?

  7 Comments      


Isabel’s morning briefing

Friday, Feb 23, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* ICYMI: ShotSpotter microphones have been hidden from police and the public, now the secret locations of microphones are revealed. WIRED

    - Nine cities have more than 500 sensors installed, including Albuquerque, New Mexico; Chicago, Illinois; Washington, DC; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Las Vegas, Nevada.

    - SoundThinking equipment has been installed at more than a thousand elementary and high schools; they are perched atop dozens of billboards, scores of hospitals, and within more than a hundred public housing complexes.

    - An analysis of sensor distribution in US cities found nearly 70 percent of people who live in a neighborhood with at least one SoundThinking sensor identified as Black or Latino.

    - In February, a leaked internal report from the State’s Attorney’s Office in Illinois’ Cook County found that nearly a third of arrests stemming from a ShotSpotter alert had nothing to do with a gun.

* Related stories…

* Isabel’s top picks…

* Here’s the rest of your morning roundup…

    * Daily Herald | 11th District GOP congressional candidates complain of ‘moral decline’ in U.S.: Hathaway-Altman, a chief sales officer with a travel company who unsuccessfully sought the nomination in 2022, raised the issue during her opening remarks. She proclaimed the U.S. is experiencing a “sharp” moral decline. When asked to clarify, Hathaway-Altman said Americans don’t focus enough on families and family values.

    * Effingham Daily News | Write-in candidates vie for GOP nomination in 102nd District: Incumbent Adam Niemerg is being challenged in his bid for reelection by Jim Acklin of Ogden and Edward Blade of Toledo. Niemerg began pursuing a write-in campaign after the Illinois State Board of Elections elected not to place his name on the ballot for failure to have his nominating petition notarized. He was the only candidate who filed a petition to have his name placed on the Republican ballot.

    * Daily-Journal | Governors State awarded $500K grant for addictions studies scholarships: The grant will provide tuition scholarships, internship stipends and wraparound support for students attending. Funded through the Illinois Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery and the Illinois Certification Board, this initiative is part of a new workforce incentive program for certified alcohol and other drug counselors (CADCs) in Illinois known as the CADC Workforce Expansion Program.

    * Daily-Journal | Bourbonnais preparing ordinance dealing with migrant buses: “We took a little longer to review and be sure about enforcement and legality,” Mayor Paul Schore said. During Monday’s meeting the board’s attorney, Patrick Dunn, said he looked at several recently passed ordinances, including the city of Kankakee and Manteno.

    * Telegraph | Resolution opposing sanctuary status passed in Madison County: The resolution declares opposition to “sanctuary state status,” directs the county administration to “take no discretionary action” supporting sanctuary state policies, and encourages citizens to “actively advocate” for changes in state policies and federal immigration laws.

    * Sun-Times | Why is Jerry Reinsdorf spending millions buying up parking lots around the United Center?: Over the past 19 months, a Reinsdorf-connected company has spent $44.7 million buying vacant lots from two politically connected families that have long offered discounted parking deals to fans of the Bulls and Blackhawks, records examined by the Chicago Sun-Times show. A third family has refused to sell its parking lots.

    * Paul Sullivan | Jerry Reinsdorf’s about-face on the White Sox possibly leaving Chicago is history — and hypocrisy — repeating itself: The good news for Chicago White Sox fans is the team eventually will be up for sale, according to Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. The bad news is it won’t happen as long as Reinsdorf is alive. Before he does go, Reinsdorf — who turns 88 Sunday — wants to leave Chicago with a special gift: a shiny, new ballpark for the Sox that would anchor the redevelopment of The 78 site in the South Loop. Sox fans would enjoy the gift long after he’s gone, and Reinsdorf believes the city and state would benefit as well.

    * Daily Herald | ‘We regret it deeply’: Ventra app’s creators accept blame as Metra questions fare collection meltdown: “We fully understand how critical it is that our platform operates as seamlessly as possible for riders who rely on it every day,” Cubic General Manager Matt Newsome said. The implosion was “entirely a Cubic issue and we regret it deeply and apologize wholeheartedly to those it affected.”

    * Axios | Billionaire George Soros steps up to save Chicago radio stations: Billionaire George Soros’ investment firm is poised to take control of Audacy, which owns several radio stations in Chicago. The 93-year-old progressive philanthropist is set to become the latest owner in Chicago media to have political leanings, stepping in after the publicly traded radio and podcast company filed for bankruptcy in January.

    * Sun-Times | Hard liquor sales proposed at rooftop clubs surrounding Wrigley Field: At Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Ald. Bennett Lawson (44th) introduced an ordinance that would pave the way for selling hard liquor at the rooftop clubs surrounding Wrigley, clubs primarily owned by the Cubs. For now, rooftop patrons can buy only beer and wine.

    * BND | 52 Swansea homes evacuated due to ‘potentially hazardous substance’ in sewers OK’d to return: That investigation led to the discovery of “a potentially hazardous substance within the sewers,” according to a Facebook post from the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency. Emergency responders didn’t know what the substance was or where it was coming from, but based on initial readings, determined it could be considered flammable and/or explosive, Whitaker said.

    * SJ-R | Doughnut shop that opened in the 1930s is moving from its longtime Lincoln location: Generations of Lincolnites have perched atop the low-seated stools at the Formica countertops that “V” off the Mel-O-Cream doughnut display case stocked with everything from long johns to old fashions, cake to cream filled, apple fritters to tiger tails. But that six-decade tradition is set to come to an end Sunday with the last deep-fried pastry passing the counter at 704 Keokuk St. Lincoln’s original home to Mel-O-Cream is closing as owners relocate the business to a newly constructed structure at 227 N. Kickapoo St., just two blocks north of the Logan County courthouse square.

    * WPSD | Shawnee National Forest Snake Road closes early for spring migration: A news release from Shawnee National Forest said the road is closed biannually during the animals’ migration season. The 2.5-mile-long road is regularly closed March 15 through May 15; however, forest officials closed the road early due to higher seasonal temperatures. The road is closed to vehicles, but is open to people travel on foot. The gradual, two-month migration attracts people from across the country who want to witness the diversity of reptile and amphibian species along the single stretch of road. Visitors may see volunteers assisting the Forest Service with counting snakes, people, and cars that visit the area.

    * Herald-Whig | ‘All schools need a Bunny’: QJHS therapy dog making difference for students and staff: One of the newest faces at Quincy Junior High School sports an alert expression and a love of kids along with a tail. Bunny the Therapy Dog walks the halls, visits classrooms and takes a turn at bus and lunch duty with her owner and handler, seventh-grade counselor Jackie Martin.

    * SJ-R | Local artists help tell authentic stories while showcasing Black history in central Illinois: Tori, as Kolanowski likes to be called, said that her art she creates is meant to do more than just to inspire younger Black audiences, but to teach fundamental history of Illinois. “My art, especially with the pieces I’ve put forth in museums, has gotten a lot of feedback from the people I was reaching out to while creating these pieces,” Kolanowski said. “One of my pieces I used lots of central Illinois history of the Black community … it encouraged a lot of people who I had shown (the art) to, to look further into the history and these peoples names and the stories behind them.”

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