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Senate Democrats choose Harmon for a full term as President

Thursday, Dec 3, 2020

* Press release…

Oak Park Democrat Don Harmon has the support of the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus to be Illinois Senate President in the 102nd General Assembly.

“I am honored and humbled to have the support of my colleagues to serve as president of the Illinois Senate. We have a fantastically talented collection of Senate Democrats who are ready to make their mark, solve problems and lead Illinois through an upcoming year that will be filled with both challenges and accomplishments,” Harmon said after the vote.

Senate Democrats caucused virtually Thursday regarding the upcoming session.

The Illinois Senate Democratic caucus will have 41 members for the 102nd General Assembly, which is scheduled to begin on Jan. 13, 2021. One of the first official actions of a new General Assembly is to elect the Senate President and minority leader posts. In the Senate, the governor presides over the chamber until the Senate President is elected.

Harmon was elected Senate President earlier this year by his colleagues to serve out the remainder of the two-year leadership term previously held by Sen. John Cullerton, who retired from office at the start of 2020.

During Harmon’s first session as Senate President, the COVID-19 global pandemic forced the cancelation of much of the 2020 spring legislation session. Faced with ongoing public health concerns regarding large gatherings, the Senate embraced technology and in May adopted official rules for online hearings so the Senate’s work could continue. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder and Black Lives Matter marches, the Legislative Black Caucus under the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford quickly embraced the new online Senate committee process and launched a series of hearings on racial and social justice in an effort to build a legislative agenda to address systemic racism in Illinois.

Harmon, 54, was first elected to the Illinois Senate in 2002. He lives in Oak Park with his wife Teresa. They have three children. He has a BA from Knox College in Galesburg, and a law degree and MBA in economics from the University of Chicago.

Harmon is an avid guitar player and founding member of the bipartisan Boat Drink Caucus band.

Speaker Madigan is currently embroiled in a reelection battle, Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady was ousted by his caucus and House GOP Leader Jim Durkin defeated a challenge. Harmon won his chamber’s top job a year ago after a bitter battle, but he had an easy ride to a full term.

…Adding… Politico

He also gave Lightford the reins to manage much of the online Senate committee process, including hearings on racial and social justice issues.

On Thursday, she nominated Harmon to keep the Senate gavel, a sign of his ability to unite the caucus.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Crowded hotel ballroom wedding draws widespread criticism and a county probe

Thursday, Dec 3, 2020

* CBS 2

Hundreds of people crowded into a hotel ballroom on Wednesday, toasting newlyweds.

But in the middle of a pandemic, how is that allowed? That is what we wanted to know, too. So CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar headed to the Hilton Chicago/Northbrook to find out.

The wedding at the hotel could be described as a potential COVID-19 super-spreader event, and on the same day Illinois hit the grim milestone of 238 deaths in one day – the most since the start of the pandemic. The national death toll was also a record for a single day.

The bride walked into a room filled with hundreds on her special day. All eyes were on her, and no masks were on to block the smiles.

At the Northbrook Hilton, where they promise a cleaner stay in the age of COVID, we saw no social distancing at the wedding – and the groups of people walking about without masks. Only a sparing number of people covered up.

* From the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association…

“The large gathering that was allowed to take place at the Hilton Chicago/Northbrook is unacceptable and does not reflect the careful efforts the hotel industry as a whole has taken since the onset of the pandemic to protect guests, employees and our communities. When I found out about this situation, I subsequently contacted public health officials to determine the appropriate next steps and reminded hotel management that they must abide by the Tier 3 mitigations and safety protocols to ensure the health of their employees and guests. In addition, we have reached out to our hotel membership across the state to once again stress the importance of abiding by all health and safety guidelines. The hotel industry is committed to working with policy makers and public health officials to ensure this situation is not repeated,” said Michael Jacobson, president & CEO, Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association.

* Tribune

Dr. Rachel Rubin, senior medical officer and co-lead for the Cook County Department of Public Health said during a news conference Thursday that she felt “profound dismay” after hearing about the wedding.

“This event should not have happened,” she said. “It’s put a lot of individuals in danger.”

County officials said they are now investigating. According to the health department, violations of the state order banning indoor dining and other indoor congregations such as this could lead to arrest, a fine of $1,000 per offense and further actions.

* Gov. Pritzker was asked about it today

Well first of all, I’m deeply concerned for the people who attended that wedding. I understand that people were in very close proximity to one another. I understand that those people will go home, or back into their communities and may in fact have infected other people.

And this is very concerning to all of us at a moment when we have rampant COVID-19 throughout Illinois community spread. Here we have people, who are in a concentrated fashion, have the ability now to go spread it to everywhere that they return to so I’m deeply worried for them and for the communities that they return to for their families and so on. I hope that each of them will isolate and get a test.

Now, as far as what should happen, what we’ve done, we contacted the Cook County Health Department and other authorities in Cook County as well as the city of Chicago. And we’ve made sure that they’re following up on this. It is their local enforcement that is very important to us and they are indeed doing just that I saw in the latest news story that Cook County is now following up with potential legal action law enforcement action. So we’ll have to see what follows here, but I certainly want to encourage them to do that. We’ve put in place the rules and regulations for them to follow to follow up on this.

It’s very irresponsible and it’s also irresponsible of the hotel to host an event like that. They too have breached the rules, and they should be held responsible.

* Meanwhile

Monday, December 14, 2020 at 7 PM EST
Thelma Keller Convention Center
Public · Hosted by Darren Bailey for State Senate 55th District

Join us for a Christmas Party Fundraiser on December 14th at the Thelma Keller Convention Center in Effingham.

We’ll have Christmas Deserts, a Hot Chocolate & Coffee Bar, Bingo, and even SANTA will be there! 🎅 Join us for an evening of fun and support our efforts to #RestoreIllinois!

Tickets are $25 for individuals or $50 for a Family Ticket! LIMITED TICKETS available, so don’t wait until the last minute!

Get your tickets at: [redacted]

Sponsorships are also available at the following levels: $2500 - $1000 - $500 - $250

*** UPDATE *** From the Hilton Chicago/Northbrook…

“Last evening, the Hilton Chicago/Northbrook hosted a family wedding with approximately 150 people in attendance. While the event was booked prior to the implementation of the state’s latest mitigation measures, we sincerely regret allowing this gathering to proceed and our family apologizes to our guests, employees, and the Chicagoland community.

The coronavirus pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for the hospitality industry and our family-owned business. However, our hope to keep the hotel afloat and employees working should not outweigh health and safety.

We are committed to working with state and local health authorities to ensure our hotel is abiding by all safety measures and mitigation guidelines. We immediately reviewed our bookings to ensure any business that is inconsistent with the state’s guidelines are not held at this property, and we are committed to following contact tracing and testing protocols recommended by health officials.

It will take time, but we hope to rebuild the trust of our guests, staff and community have placed in us for so many years,” said Holly Allgauer-Cir, General Manager, Hilton Chicago/Northbrook.

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      

Question of the day

Thursday, Dec 3, 2020

* What’s your favorite charity and why?

And while you’re mulling that over, please click here and donate to Lutheran Social Services of Illinois. As I write this, we’re almost at $10,000 after about 24 hours. That’s great, but I know we can do just a bit better. Thanks!

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      

*** UPDATED x2 *** Slammed for criticizing Trump, Kinzinger pivots to attacking Pritzker

Thursday, Dec 3, 2020

* Rep. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) on Facebook this morning

Here in Illinois, friends, this whole situation with this illegal voting, this voter fraud, friends, it’s real. Its very real. I am really encouraged because there are several Republicans who have run and were narrowly defeated up in the, I’ll call it the Chicagoland area, the northern part of the state, who are going to be calling for some recounts. This is good. I’m glad to hear this, they’ve found proof that has taken this many days, that they believe that something is off, something is wrong, so you’re going to be reading about that.

This all in the midst of the very same time we’ve got many Illinois Republican leaders throughout the state calling for Donald Trump to step down, calling for him to give up. That’s appalling. Adam Kinzinger, the US Congressman from the northern part of the state, seems to be leading this charge. Last night, he tweeted that Donald Trump should delete his Twitter account and he’s been calling for quite some time for Donald Trump to just give up, concede, and get out of the way. This man has never been a fan of the president. This man has been part of the problem with Illinois politics. So keep that name in mind, don’t forget that. Get on his Twitter and Facebook accounts and tell him to get his priorities straight if he’s a Republican, otherwise change his party. There’s several others that are joining this as well and we shouldn’t put up with this. If we want a healthy Illinois, if we want a healthy conservative movement, we’ve got to get real and we’ve got to get involved.

Recounts? Right. OK.

Anyway, on to Congressman Adam Kinzinger, who is widely rumored to be eyeing a 2022 run for governor. Bailey, you will recall, said months ago that he was thinking about a gubernatorial bid.

* Kinzinger appears to be trying to protect his right flank with an attack on Gov. Pritzker over the administration’s horrible response to the preventable disaster at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home. From a WCMY radio interview today

Kinzinger: The federal government, the US Department of Veterans Affairs, came in, did an assessment, found a whole number of things wrong. And then from that point on began offering daily help to the LaSalle Veterans Home into the state of Illinois and was denied all November, basically. Every day they would call and ask ‘Do you want federal government help?’”

That comes with money. We passed $150 million in the CARES Act for this kind of situation. And the state of Illinois kept saying ‘No’ and I want to look at the… Okay, you have things like hand sanitizer that doesn’t kill COVID because it has no alcohol in it. Okay, well that’s just a dumb clerical error or was that somebody to attempt to save money at the cost of the veterans?

And then you look at things like how come you would not take federal government support? And while I don’t want to level this accusation, I do think it’s kind of interesting that in the middle of the federal government offering help to the state of Illinois, you have the situation where the governor would constantly talk about how the federal government’s failing because we’re in the middle of an election.

So I think there’s a lot of questions that you’ve answered and that starts with the governor. This is on the governor to explain, or fire or hold accountable those responsible, if it’s not him.

Q: When somebody from Washington called, who said ‘No’?

Kinzinger: Well, you know, it’s basically every day at the veterans’ home, at the state of Illinois, they said ‘No.’ And I think that’s part of the question. Who’s not just saying ‘No,’ who’s making the decision that we won’t take federal government help?

Look, you can think that you have it under control, and you can think that maybe somehow you know more than the federal government, but let’s keep in mind the resources, the federal government comes. Anytime you get an extra set of eyes or ears, or in the federal government’s case, you have 50 other states or 49 other states and territories basically under your jurisdiction where you can see, and have examples of what worked and what didn’t. So why that happened for a month, I have no clue.

And the problem is the governor has decided to do an IG investigation, which is going to take six months, Jay. We’re not going to get any answers before that. We need answers now. And like I said, the one thing that really concerns me is the eagerness that Governor Pritzker was the entire time of the election to take on President Trump on COVID and everything else. And I hope that certainly didn’t come into play, but we need to know.

I followed up with Kinzinger’s office a few hours ago to ask who in the federal government was calling the veterans’ home and have not yet heard back.

* From Jordan Abudayyeh at the governor’s office…

It is unclear what federal help Congressman Kinzinger is referring to. At the beginning of November, as the first positive cases were discovered at the LaSalle Veterans Home, the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) was in regular communication with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (USVA).

In fact, on November 5, USVA asked if the home needed assistance with PPE and the home administrator asked for additional N95 masks. USVA provided thousands of masks to be used at LaSalle and other veterans homes.

On November 9, USVA asked IDVA if they would like to have an infection control consultation and IDVA responded yes. IDVA also asked for IDPH to conduct an onsite consultation as well. Both of those visits were completed just three days later, the recommendations were implemented and the reports were made public.

After the site visit, USVA offered to make infection control experts available for further assistance and IDVA has requested that assistance. Dr. Amelia Bumstead with USVA is spending four to six weeks visiting all state veterans homes to improve infection control protocols and practices.

Throughout this process both IDVA and USVA have continued their communication and the IDVA appreciates the help and support offered by their federal partners. An independent investigation is also currently underway, and as the Governor has said, if that investigation uncovers malfeasance, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken.

*** UPDATE 1 *** Maura Gillespie at Kinzinger’s office…

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs was offering assistance to the LaSalle Veterans’ Home, operated by the State of Illinois, to send infection control experts to assist. Our staff was briefed on that, as was Sue Rezin, on November 19th during a phone call with the VISN Network Director who confirmed that the USVA had been checking in daily to see if the State needed help. They were not taken up on their offer until the State finally requested that help at the end of November.

Well, somebody isn’t telling the truth. Stay tuned.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Back to Jordan…

As soon as the offer was presented by USVA to IDVA on November 19, IDVA said that day they were interested in additional help and began discussions regarding the scope of work and began the process to formalize the request for an intergovernmental agreement. Conversations between the USVA and IDPH doctors took place as the intergovernmental agreement was put together and was formally submitted to USVA on November 27.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      

Lightfoot piles on Madigan

Thursday, Dec 3, 2020

* Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was asked her thoughts on Speaker Madigan today. From Fran Spielman’s report

“Our democracy depends upon the people believing … that the leaders stand for them. That we are working hard every single day on behalf of the people and not on behalf of ourselves. That is the only way that our democracy will survive and flourish — if people have confidence in the people they elected to do the right thing for them,” the mayor said.

“That doesn’t happen when there is a cloud that hangs. That doesn’t happen when people feel like elected officials have been completely compromised and have an agenda that has nothing to do with doing the peoples’ business. That’s the wrong direction for any of us.”

Lightfoot said it’s hard to be an elected official and a leader during the best of times. It’s particularly difficult now “when we’re dealing with crisis after crisis after crisis.”

“We can’t do that if you don’t have legitimacy of the people that elected you in the first place. That’s not just a statement about Mike Madigan. That’s a statement about all of us,” she said. […]

She has also “watched with great interest the number of people who’ve been silent” and “haven’t stood up” against Madigan.

There’s more, so go read the rest.

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      

Illinois House Black Caucus to hold candidates’ forum for Speaker hopefuls

Thursday, Dec 3, 2020

* Potential candidates were asked to contact Rep. Camille Lilly, the ILBC House Chair, with any questions…


- Posted by Rich Miller   86 Comments      

10,959 new confirmed and probable cases; 5,653 hospitalized; 1,170 in the ICU; 10.4 percent case positivity rate; 12.3 percent test positivity rate

Thursday, Dec 3, 2020

* Press release…

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today reported 10,959 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 192 additional deaths. Some data reported to IDPH is delayed from the weekends, including this past holiday weekend.

    - Adams County: 1 male 70s
    - Bond County: 1 female 70s
    - Bureau County: 1 male 60, 2 females 80s, 1 male 80s, 1 female 90s, 1 male 90s
    - Carroll County: 1 male 70s, 1 male 80s
    - Clinton County: 1 female 80s
    - Coles County: 1 male 70s
    - Cook County: 1 male 20s, 2 males 30s, 1 male 40s, 1 female 50s, 1 male 50s, 2 females 60s, 1 male 60s, 10 females 70s, 5 males 70s, 3 females 80s, 2 males 80s, 11 females 90s, 2 males 90, 2 females over 100, 2 males over 100
    - Cumberland County: 1 male 60s
    - DeKalb County: 1 female 70s
    - Douglas County: 1 female 90s, 1 male 90s
    - DuPage County: 4 females 70s, 2 males 70s, 2 females 80s, 3 males 80s, 3 females 90s, 1 male 90s
    - Effingham County: 1 male 70s, 1 male 80s, 1 female 90s, 1 female over 100
    - Fayette County: 1 male 50s
    - Fulton County: 1 male 80s
    - Hancock County: 1 male 80s
    - Henry County: 1 male 60s, 2 males 70s
    - Iroquois County: 1 female 70s, 1 male 80s, 1 female 90s, 1 male 90s
    - Johnson County: 1 female 70s
    - Kane County: 1 female 60s, 3 males 70s, 1 male 80s
    - Kankakee County: 1 female 60s, 1 male 70s, 1 female 80s, 1 female 90s
    - Kendall County: 1 female 80s
    - Knox County: 1 female 90s
    - Lake County: 1 female 40s, 1 female 80s, 3 males 80s
    - Lawrence County: 1 female 80s
    - Lee County: 1 male 80s
    - Livingston County: 1 female 80s
    - Logan County: 1 female 70s, 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s, 1 female 90s
    - Macon County: 1 male 80s
    - Macoupin County: 1 female 80s, 1 female 90s
    - Madison County: 1 male 50s, 3 males 70s, 1 female 80s
    - Marion County: 1 male 30s, 1 male 70s, 1 male 80s
    - Mason County: 1 female 80s
    - Massac County: 1 female 90s
    - McHenry County: 1 female 80s
    - Morgan County: 1 male 40s, 3 males 70s, 1 female 90s, 2 males 90s
    - Ogle County: 1 male 70s, 1 female 80s
    - Peoria County: 1 female 60s, 1 male 80s
    - Perry County: 1 female 60s, 1 female 80s
    - Pike County: 1 male 60s
    - Rock Island County: 1 female 50s, 1 male 70s, 2 males 80s
    - Saline County: 1 male 60s
    - Sangamon County: 1 male 70s, 1 female 80s
    - St. Clair County: 2 males 60s, 2 males 80s
    - Stark County: 1 male 70s
    - Tazewell County: 1 female 50s, 1 male 50s, 1 male 80s, 1 male 90s
    - Vermilion County: 1 male 60s, 1 male 70s, 1 female 90s
    - Whiteside County: 1 female 60s, 2 males 60s, 1 female 70s, 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s, 1 male 90s
    - Will County: 1 female 60s, 2 males 60s, 2 males 70s, 1 male 80s, 2 females 90s, 2 males 90s, 1 female over 100
    - Williamson County: 1 male 70s, 3 females 80s, 1 female 90s
    - Winnebago County: 2 males 50s, 2 females 70s, 2 males 70s, 1 male 80s

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 759,562 cases, including 12,830 deaths, in 102 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 106,778 specimens for a total 10,806,364. As of last night, 5,653 in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 1,170 patients were in the ICU and 693 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from November 26 – December 2, 2020 is 10.4%. The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity from November 26 – December 2, 2020 is 12.3%.

*All data are provisional and will change. In order to rapidly report COVID-19 information to the public, data are being reported in real-time. Information is constantly being entered into an electronic system and the number of cases and deaths can change as additional information is gathered. Information for deaths previously reported has changed, therefore, today’s numbers have been adjusted. For health questions about COVID-19, call the hotline at 1-800-889-3931 or email

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      

Tom DeVore loses another court case, refuses to pay bounty, says he’s not filing lawsuits to win

Thursday, Dec 3, 2020

* From Jeff Wilhite at the Sangamon County Department of Public Health…


If you’re interested, below are details from the recent public health related court hearing in Sangamon County.

A lawsuit filed by a Thayer bar against the Sangamon County Department of Public Health on November 25th was thrown out Wednesday afternoon. Represented by Attorney Thomas DeVore, Brewzrz Pub claimed that the Public Health Department violated Illinois law by suspending its food license on November 19, 2020 as a result of the bar’s failure to comply with Sangamon County’s Covid-19 mitigation restrictions prohibiting indoor dining and bar service. The bar asked the Court to order the County to reinstate its suspended food service license. The Motion to Dismiss filed by Sangamon County State’s Attorney, Dan Wright, characterized the arguments in the suit against the County as “devoid of merit” and amounted to “analytical snake oil in the midst of a deadly global pandemic which continues to surge in Sangamon County.” In dismissing the case, Sangamon County Judge Gail Noll found that the suit failed to state a valid claim under Illinois law and did not establish a likelihood of success on the merits.

Excerpts from the Motion to Dismiss​ from State’s Attorney Dan Wright

Plaintiff’s arguments are devoid of merit and amount to analytical “snake oil” in the midst of a deadly global pandemic which continues to surge in Sangamon County. The Court should reject Plaintiff’s erroneous arguments, deny the Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and dismiss the Complaint with prejudice.

Plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies under the plain language of Section 5.20.080 (Suspension of Permits) which requires a petition to the Sangamon County Board of Health to “request a hearing for abatement of the order” which suspended Plaintiff’s food permit. See Sangamon County Code, Section 5.20.080. Plaintiff did not file a petition to request a hearing before the Board of Health. Moreover, Plaintiff has failed to “make application for a reinspection for the purpose of reinstatement of the permit” under Section 5.20.090 (Reinstatement of Permits).

Section 2 of the Department of Public Health Act provides the procedures that the Department must adhere to when “a person or group of persons [is] to be quarantined or isolated” or it orders that “a place [must] be closed and made off limits to the public to prevent the probable spread of a dangerously contagious or infectious disease.” 20 ILCS 2305/2(b-c) (emphasis added). Specifically, Section 2 requires that:

… [N]o person or a group of persons may be ordered to be quarantined or isolated and no place may be ordered to be closed and made off limits to the public except with the consent of the person or owner of the place or upon the prior order of a court of competent jurisdiction. Id.

Contrary to the repeated, unsupported, and conclusory allegations of the Complaint, neither the November 10 Notice nor the November 19 license suspension purport to require Plaintiff’s business to be “closed and made off limits to the public” for any and all purposes as required to trigger the procedural and substantive requirements of 20 ILCS 2305/2. Plaintiff’s bald assertions that the actions of Defendants “made [Plaintiff’s premises] off limits to the public” are unsupported by any allegations of specific facts. Complaint, ¶¶ 8-9, 11, 16, 19-20, 23-24, 26-27, 29, 31, 34, 36. Plaintiff simply invites the Court to join it in making the misguided analytical leap that suspension of a food license pursuant to the Sangamon County Code somehow equates to a closure order under the Public Health Act.

The November 10 Notice merely notified food service license holders of conditions found to constitute a “substantial immediate hazard to the public health” under Section 5.20.080 of the Sangamon County Code, e.g. indoor dining. The November 10 Notice did not, in any manner, make the premises off limits to the public for any other food service purposes such as outdoor dining, carry-out, or curbside service. The November 19 Notice of Violation attached to the Complaint as Exhibit “B” which suspended Plaintiff’s food service license merely prohibits food service without a valid license (“Permit suspended at time of inspection and all food service operations are to be immediately discontinued.”). It did not order the physical closure of the premises and make them off limits to the public for any and all purposes as would a “closure order” under the Public Health Act. Any complete closure of the premises was voluntary as a matter of law and not compelled by actions of Defendants.

For example, Defendants do not have jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s local liquor license which is subject to the authority of the Illinois Liquor Control Commission and the Liquor Commissioner for the Village of Thayer. Put simply, unlike a closure order under the Public Health Act, Defendants’ suspension of Plaintiff’s food service license did not make the premises off limits to the public or prohibit any lawful use of the premises other than unlicensed food service.

While Defendants’ actions were not premised upon any gubernatorial executive order, the Appellate Court recently held that Governor JB Pritzker’s Executive Order No. 2020-61 did not implicate “section 2(c) [of the Public Health Act] because its measures were not tantamount to quarantine orders, isolation orders, or business-closure orders. Instead [the Governor’s Executive Order] prescribed guidelines that restaurants must follow to safely operate while a region’s [COVID-19] positivity rates exceed state guidelines.” Fox Fire Tavern, LLC v. Pritzker, 2020 IL App. (2d) 200623, ¶41 (emphasis added) (citing Cassell v. Snyders, 458 F. Supp. 3d 981, 1002 (N.D. Ill. 2020) (holding that restrictions on large gatherings do not amount to orders of quarantine, isolation, or business closure)).

In Cassell, the Court succinctly articulated the threshold issue in the current case, stating:

Plaintiffs invoke Illinois’s Department of Health Act, 20 Ill. Comp. Stat. 2305/2(a). Under that Act, the “State Department of Public Health [or local public health authority]… has supreme authority in matters of quarantine and isolation.” Id. § 2305/2(a). Before exercising its authority to “quarantine,” “isolate,” and make places “off limits [to] the public,” however, the Department must comply with certain procedural requirements. Id. § 2305/2(c). As Plaintiffs see it, the Act vests the Department with the exclusive authority to quarantine and isolate Illinoisans, making Governor Pritzker’s orders ultra vires. The problem for Plaintiffs is that the challenged Order does not impose restrictions that fall within the meaning of the Act.

Just as in FoxFire and Cassell, the Defendants’ actions in the current matter “were not tantamount to quarantine orders, isolation orders, or business-closure orders” and did “not impose restrictions that fall within the meaning of the Act.” Id. Plaintiff cannot escape the reality that no action by O’Neill or the Department made its premises entirely “off limits to the public” for any and all purposes as necessary to apply the requirements of Section 2 of the Public Health Act. The Complaint contains insufficient facts to permit the Court to reach any other conclusion. Indeed, Plaintiff cannot ethically allege any set of facts that would permit the Court to find Defendants’ actions imposed restrictions that fall within the meaning of Section 2 of the Public Health Act. Id. Accordingly, the Complaint must be dismissed pursuant to Section 2-615.

Plaintiff ignores the legal reality that review of acts of administrative discretion, such as the November 10 Notice and November 19 license suspension under Section 5.20.080, is highly deferential. Bigelow Group, Inc. v. Rickert, 377 Ill. App. 3d 165, 174 (2d Dist. 2007). “The ‘arbitrary or capricious’ standard must be applied in light of the limited purview prescribed the judiciary by the separation of powers doctrine—the judiciary must limit itself to infringing on official discretion only where that discretion can be shown to have violated the law.” Id. at 174. Put another way, “arbitrary and capricious” review is a “single inquiry into the legality of the official decision.” Id. It is “the most deferential standard of review—next to no review at all.”

The November 10 Notice was lawfully issued as a finding of the Board of Health through its authorized representative in response to a public health emergency. Defendants’ actions were undertaken in direct reliance upon the expert recommendations of the BOH Physicians Advisory Group and in compliance with pre-existing Sangamon County Code provisions governing food service establishments, i.e. Section 5.20.080. Accordingly, the Defendants’ actions were not - under any good faith interpretation - arbitrary, capricious, or ultra vires as erroneously alleged by Plaintiff.

DeVore said he’d appeal the ruling on Greg Bishop’s radio show today. He said he’d go all the way to the US Supreme Court if need be.

* Greg asked DeVore whether he’d paid the $1,000 bounty of footage of Pritzker celebrating Thanksgiving with friends and family. As you know, I posted a photo of Pritzker and his wife on a Zoom chat during Thanksgiving dinner. DeVore’s response

Well one, I want to clarify that. The thousand dollars that I offered for footage from a journalist to take a picture of the governor should they see him out celebrating with friends and family. Friends and family being a generic term. I didn’t even know he had kids until I put that out. So he has kids, OK, I don’t care about that. But no, I didn’t pay it out because, again, you know I was looking for the governor. He’s using the word bounty, I didn’t use the word bounty. But no, I didn’t pay it out.

* DeVore was also asked about whether it was time to stop filing lawsuits since he’s losing so many of them

If they think that any of this is going on is about winning or losing lawsuits, the people that say that need to consider if they’re as intelligent as they think they are. This isn’t about winning lawsuits. If I want to win lawsuits, Greg, and that’s the goal and not to protect people, I’ll go into the federal court. It’d be a lot easier.

You can’t protect people by losing countless lawsuits. You can only give them false hope.

…Adding… From comments…

Also, just to point out, (1) Devore fought like crazy to keep Bailey’s case out of federal court when the AG tried to remove to federal court, and (2), his only “wins” have occurred in state court.

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      


Thursday, Dec 3, 2020

* Oh, man, did I ever screw up. Jim Nowlan didn’t chair the Fair Tax opposition committee. He chaired the other committee that spent a fortune this fall against Supreme Court Justice Tom Kilbride.

Post deleted. All apologies. I may need a nap and it’s not even noon.

As penance, I made another contribution to Lutheran Social Services of Illinois.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

Explaining Illinois’ political shift with Dick Durbin’s county maps

Thursday, Dec 3, 2020

* From Sabato’s Crystal Ball

* And here they are side-by-side for an easier comparison

Don’t get hung up on the Durbin reference in comments. This isn’t really about him. It’s about how the state has changed and what the trends look like. Yes, the Democratic Party has a whole has to reverse the trend in small Downstate cities, but the statewide vote is in the city and the suburbs and the Republicans are just getting slaughtered.

You already knew that, of course, but the map is a good illustration.

* Narrative

Durbin was first elected to the House in 1982, representing a Downstate district in between the Springfield and St. Louis areas. When another fellow Downstate Democrat, then-Sen. Paul Simon, retired from the Senate in 1996, Durbin ran for the seat, and he carried most counties south of St. Louis. As those demographically whiter and more rural counties have drifted Republican in past decades, Durbin’s coalition has increasingly become more urban and suburban.

This year, other than narrowly losing McHenry County, he carried every county that touches Chicago’s Cook; these formerly-Republican suburban counties are known collectively as the Chicago’s Collar Counties. In 1996, he lost the largest collar county, DuPage, by 10 percentage points — last month, Durbin got the same 55% there as he did statewide.

Durbin held a smattering of Downstate counties, but this seems like more a sign of his strength with white collar academics than blue collar workers — aside from St. Clair County in the St. Louis metro area, with its large Black population, every county south of Peoria that he won last month is home to a major university: Champaign (University of Illinois), McLean (Illinois State University) and Jackson (Southern Illinois University).

To be fair, Durbin did perform relatively well, compared to Biden, in the counties that made up his old congressional district. In rural counties such as Brown, Calhoun, and Macoupin, he ran double-digits ahead of the national ticket — but often, it was a case of Durbin polling in the 30s, compared to Biden, who was in the 20s.

…Adding… Tribune…

* How did your neighbors vote for president, Senate and the graduated-rate income tax amendment? Search our city and suburban map to find out.

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      

ISP says it has cut DNA backlog nearly in half

Thursday, Dec 3, 2020

* Press release from yesterday…

Governor JB Pritzker and Illinois State Police (ISP) Director Brendan F. Kelly announced today the ISP Division of Forensic Services (DFS) achieved a 48% overall reduction in Biology/DNA pending assignments, commonly known as “the DNA backlog.” On March 1, 2019, the backlog consisted of 9,289 pending assignments. As of Nov. 30, 2020, forensic scientists worked the number of pending assignments down to 4,857.

“Since the beginning of my administration, we have prioritized implementing policies and procedures that will allow the dedicated forensics team at ISP’s Division of Forensic Services to reduce the state’s DNA backlog. Thanks to the leadership of the Forensic Science Task Force, which my administration established in 2019, additional recommendations to help further decrease the backlog are now underway,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “I am encouraged by the 48% reduction in forensic cases and will continue to support ISP’s work to bring brings victims and their loved ones a step closer to justice.”

“For more than a decade, trends in forensic labs across the country, including in Illinois, have been headed the wrong direction, but because of the hard work and discipline of the Illinois State Police we are finally headed in the right direction in Illinois,” said ISP Director Brendan F. Kelly. “Our progress is real and significant, but no one in the Illinois State Police will be satisfied until all victims can trust that the cause of justice will be advanced and not delayed by forensics.”
Remarkably, this reduction was achieved while having up to six forensic scientists from the biology/DNA section on loan for more than four months to the Illinois Department of Public Health to assist with COVID-19 testing.

Forensics outcomes across a variety of metrics have significantly improved.

    • This year, the average age of pending DNA/Biology assignments has been reduced from 247 in May 2019 to 110 days in November 2020.
    • The number of DNA/Biology assignments that are older than a year was 1,329 in January 2020 but had dropped to 186 in November 2020.
    • The number of pending sexual assault assignments that are more than six months old has gone from 1,059 in January to 280 in November 2020.
    • The DNA/Biology section is completing 22% more assignments per month this year compared with 2019.
    These outcomes were achieved in part by executing a multi-prong strategy:
    • The ISP DFS has deployed technology to assist in the reduction of backlogs and turnaround times, implemented laboratory accountability measures, robotics, Rapid DNA, Lean Six-Sigma efficiencies and hired and trained additional forensic scientists.
    • The ISP Laboratory system implemented robotics to increase DNA casework capacity in November 2019. Robotics are now fully operational and are contributing to the backlog and turnaround time in DNA analysis.
    • To improve communication, ISP DFS began issuing agency specific reports on pending assignments to enhance communication between investigating agencies, state’s attorneys’ offices and the laboratories. Agencies are asked to review their list of pending assignments and tell lab management of any cases that need immediate attention and those that no longer require analysis. For example, this process identified 1,200 felony drug cases closed with a court disposition while still showing pending assignments at the lab. As a result, lab resources were not squandered on testing these 1,200 closed cases. This communication has and will continue to improve the prioritization of casework and reduce the waste of lab resources.
    • As part of the plan to reduce the number of pending assignments, the ISP DFS implemented an aggressive hiring plan and continues to work to recruit and hire scientists, as well as implementing training that is effective and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the beginning of 2019, ISP DFS has held two Forensic Science Trainee classes. Even with the difficulties navigating through the pandemic, ISP DFS has been able to keep training on track. The 2020 trainees are scheduled to complete their training between March 2021 and February 2022.

Additionally, Gov. Pritzker’s Forensic Science Task Force, chaired by ISP Director Kelly, continued to meet during the pandemic and made additional, specific recommendations that, if implemented, will sustain the momentum of reducing the backlog and improving turnaround times.

The ISP DFS will also move into a new laboratory in Decatur, occupying roughly 12,000 square feet in the first two stories of the building. The ISP DFS will utilize this as a DNA lab, initially processing evidence submitted from property crimes. The addition of this lab will allow the further reduction in turnaround times. Funding for the construction of a new forensics lab in the Joliet area was also secured under Gov. Pritzker’s bi-partisan capital bill and is moving forward under the Capital Development Board.

The ISP DFS unveiled the sexual assault kit tracking system, known as Checkpoint, before the statutory deadline. This system allows sexual assault survivors to track their evidence in real time from collection at the hospital to law enforcement pick-up and submission to the forensic lab and lastly, to the prosecutors’ office.

The ISP’s success in decreasing the forensic backlog are not limited to the Biology/DNA section.

    • The latent print backlog was slashed by 35% this year and 78% since January 2019. Average turnaround time for fingerprints this year has been reduced by 62% since 2019.
    • Average turnaround time for firearms evidence this year has been reduced by 44% since 2019.
    • The trace chemistry section is completing 49% more assignments per month than last year.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

Open thread

Thursday, Dec 3, 2020

* Stay on Illinois-centric topics and be polite while doing so. Thanks.

Also, thanks to those who have donated so far to our Lutheran Social Services of Illinois fundraiser. We’ve raise more than $8,000 since yesterday afternoon. Let’s keep it up, please.

The money we raise will buy Christmas presents for kids served by LSSI’s programs, as well as to make sure the children have essentials like coats and boots for the winter. Click here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


Thursday, Dec 3, 2020

* Follow along with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comment      

* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* The least surprising Tom DeVore news yet
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Kifowit requests in-person hearing for her House Veterans Affairs committee
* Question of the day
* 10,526 new confirmed and probable cases; 148 additional deaths; 5,453 hospitalized; 1,153 in the ICU; 10.3 percent case positivity rate; 12.1 percent test positivity rate
* COVID-19 roundup
* SoS announces Driver Services facilities will remain closed for in-person service until January 4
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Illinois turnout hit 72.92 percent; Voting evenly split between early, mail and in-person
* *** UPDATED x1 *** 10.4 percent of all new unemployment claims were filed in Illinois last week
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Despite losing by 1.4 percentage points, Oberweis launches discovery recount
* *** UPDATED x2 *** Expect a Black Caucus endorsement of MJM
* Open thread
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Senate Democrats choose Harmon for a full term as President
* Yesterday's stories

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