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ISP has probed 11 violent threats against Pritzker

Monday, Jun 29, 2020

* Tina Sfondeles

Illinois State Police have investigated 11 violent threats against Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker since the COVID-19 pandemic began, including an email from a man who vowed to “put a bullet through” the governor’s brain.

In another incident, a social media user asked in late May, “Anyone got a high powered sniper rifle I can have? The governor needs to die and I will gladly kill him.” Illinois State Police said they reached that person in the Chicago area, who said it was an attempt to “vent.” […]

Pritzker has been the target of so many threats over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic that the Illinois State Police needed a PowerPoint presentation to detail them all. […]

The most serious of them came from social media, and each was investigated by agents with the Illinois State Police. The threats led the governor to beef up his security details, from the usual two to occasionally as many as five agents accompanying him to his home and to news conferences. […]

The most violent threat came in late April when State police investigated an email and eight comments sent by the same person. In an April 25 message, the person wrote, “you will suffer death, via a bullet in your brain.”

Go read the rest. Somebody forwarded me one of the threats Tina wrote about and I sent it to the ISP out of an abundance of caution.

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


738 new cases, 14 additional deaths, 2.7 percent positivity rate

Monday, Jun 29, 2020

* Press release…

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced 738 new confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 14 additional confirmed deaths.

    - Cook County: 1 female 30s, 2 males 40s, 1 female 60s, 1 male 60s, 1 male 70s, 2 females 80s, 2 males 80s, 1 unknown 80s, 1 female 90s
    - DuPage County: 1 female 80s
    - Perry County: 1 male 50s

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 142,461 cases, including 14 deaths, in 101 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 26,918 specimens for a total of 1,571,896. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from June 22 –June 28 is 2.7%.

According to this site, Illinois’ R0 factor is 0.89, which is a good thing. Wisconsin’s is 1.22, Indiana’s is 0.92.

According to IDPH, 43 percent of hospital beds are available and 50 percent of ICU beds are open.

* Weekend numbers…

For Sunday, June 28, 2020:

• 646 new cases for a total of 141,723 cases
• 15 additional deaths for a total of 6,888 deaths
• 23,789 new test results for a total of 1,544,978 tests

    - Cook County: 2 males 60s, 1 female 70s, 1 male 70s, 1 female 80s, 1 female 90s
    - DuPage County: 1 male 70s
    - Kane County: 1 male 50s
    - Kankakee County: 1 male 80s
    - Lake County: 1 female 90s
    - Peoria County: 1 female 70s
    - Will County: 1 female 60s, 1 male 70s, 1 male 90s
    - Winnebago County: 1 female 90s

For Saturday, June 27, 2020:

• 786 new cases for a total of 141,077 cases
• 26 additional deaths for a total of 6,873 deaths
• 30,237 new test results for a total of 1,521,189 tests

    - Cook County: 1 male 40s, 1 female 50s, 1 male 50s, 2 females 60s, 1 male 60s, 2 females 70s, 1 male 70s, 1 female 90s
    - DuPage County: 1 male 60s, 1 male 70s, 1 female 80s
    - Kane County: 2 males 60s, 1 male 80s
    - Kankakee County: 2 males 70s
    - Lake County: 1 female 50s, 1 female 80s
    - McHenry County: 1 male 90s
    - Peoria County: 1 female 80s
    - St. Clair County: 1 female 60s, 1 male 70s
    - Union County: 1 female 70s
    - Winnebago County: 1 male 80s

* Related…

* Mounting clues suggest the coronavirus might trigger diabetes - Evidence from tissue studies and some people with COVID-19 shows that the virus damages insulin-producing cells.

* Court: Police have no right to COVID-19 patients’ names, addresses

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      


Rate the Pritzker response ads

Monday, Jun 29, 2020

* As predicted, Gov. JB Pritzker is responding to those Illinois Rising Action ads I told you about last week. Statement from Quentin Fulks, Senior Political Advisor…

We won’t let Donald Trump’s allies at Illinois Rising get away with attacking JB Pritzker and lying about his record just because the Governor is standing up to the President. They know there is no legislator pay raise but they are lying about it anyways because that’s what they do – lie.

18 months ago JB Pritzker inherited a state government that had been hollowed out and destroyed by Bruce Rauner and his allies who cut workers and funding at the agency Illinois Rising is now criticizing.

In his first two years in office, JB Pritzker signed a bipartisan balanced budget into law, worked with Republicans to pass an infrastructure plan that is creating and supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs while repairing our crumbling roads and bridges, raised the minimum wage to a living wage for all Illinois workers, and expanded healthcare to 120,000 more Illinoisans. In the fight against the coronavirus, Governor Pritzker has followed the advice of medical experts helping make Illinois one of the states with the biggest decreases in infections and protecting our hospitals and first responders.

Illinois Rising should stop wasting their time falsely attacking a Governor who has stepped up to lead as Donald Trump hides in his underground bunker and spews his racist diatribes.

Both ads will beging running in the Chicago and Springfield media markets tomorrow.

* “Paid for”

* Script…

Seen this ad? It’s paid for by the same Republican group who brought you Donald Trump.

But why are they attacking Governor Pritzker? Because he’s calling out the President’s failed leadership.

Don’t believe their lies. State legislators will not be getting raises. It’s Governor Pritzker who worked to pass a bipartisan budget, finding common ground on issues like investing in infrastructure. And he’s worked night and day to help Illinois confront the pandemic.

Governor Pritzker has risen to this moment.

Not sure if much money will be spent on that ad in Trump country.

* “Getting Things Done”

* Script…

This is a false attack.

This is a governor getting things done.

The truth is, state legislators will not be getting raises.

It’s Governor Pritzker who worked to pass a bipartisan budget, making education a priority, expanding access to health care and finding common ground with Republicans on issues like investing in our state’s infrastructure. And he’s working night and day to help Illinois confront the pandemic.

Governor Pritzker has risen to this moment.

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


We’re number one, and for a change that’s a good thing

Monday, Jun 29, 2020

* The Brennan Center has a new study up entitled “Preparing Your State for an Election Under Pandemic Conditions”

Here’s a 50-state breakdown of what policies states already have and still need in order to best protect the November 2020 election from the Covid-19 pandemic.

* Illinois was the only state to meet all of the criteria. Click the pic for the full list. The last column is same-day registration, by the way. It got cut off

The Brennan Center only dinged Illinois on one topic: We have no pre-paid statewide postage for mail-in ballots. Fourteen states have that.

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      


Caption contest!

Monday, Jun 29, 2020

* From the Twitter machine

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      


Move beyond the slogans to focus on what works

Monday, Jun 29, 2020

* Quality managers achieve quality results, is I think the best way to sum up Mark Brown’s profile of Liz Dozier, who turned around Fenger Academy High School

Dozier inherited a bad situation at Fenger, which is located in Roseland, with daily brawls involving 50 to 60 students. In the second week of school, one of her students, Derrion Albert, was clubbed to death in a melee on his way home.

Police made 300 arrests at Fenger in her first year there.

What eventually turned around those problems, Dozier believes, was building relationships with students, not making arrests.

Dozier and her Fenger staff emphasized creating a school more attuned to the emotional needs of its students than to policing them. That required understanding why students were acting out.

Instead of relying on police to enforce discipline, they instituted restorative justice practices, which focus on repairing harm rather than applying punishment, and held peace circles to defuse conflicts. They provided grief counseling and anger-management training to students and created trauma groups to help deal with emotional baggage they brought to school from home.

It might sound like mumbo-jumbo, but these methods work well with young people.

By the time I visited Fenger a few years later, I encountered a warm, friendly atmosphere and a more relaxed student body.

After her first year at Fenger, Dozier moved to replace the police officers assigned to the school with new ones more attuned to her philosophy. She has only good things to say about the work of that second set of school resource officers.

But she thinks her students would have been better off with more counselors, social workers or therapists instead. Security guards from the neighborhood trained in de-escalation techniques are just as effective in providing school security in most situations, she says, and can call in police in extreme circumstances.

Go read the whole thing. Mark Brown proved once again why he’s the best newspaper columnist in Chicago by leaps and bounds.

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Was reopening bars a mistake?

Monday, Jun 29, 2020

* Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday took his most drastic action yet to respond to the post-reopening coronavirus surge in Texas, shutting bars back down and scaling back restaurant capacity to 50%.

* Block Club Chicago

Bars across Chicago reopened this weekend — and people in Wrigleyville lined up to celebrate.

On Saturday night, Clark Street felt and looked much like it did on a normal summer night before coronavirus upended the city, though social distancing and new guidelines are part of the new normal. As patrons bounced from bar to bar in packs, some donned face masks. Many did not.

Crowds waited in long lines with little to no adherence to the 6-feet social distancing guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Some people said they do have worries about the pandemic and are concerned they’re part of the problem as cases rise throughout the country — but others said they’re young and wanted to get out during the summer.

* Springfield…


Would be nice to see some coverage of this topic in the SJ-R. Just sayin…

* Back to Texas…


I’m hearing that Illinois bar owners might soon be getting a letter warning them that they’ll all be shut down again if they don’t start enforcing the rules.

Thoughts?

*** UPDATE *** New Jersey…


- Posted by Rich Miller   74 Comments      


Protected: *** UPDATED x2 *** SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - React to today’s edition

Monday, Jun 29, 2020

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Question of the day

Monday, Jun 29, 2020

* Illinois State Bowling Proprietors Association President Bill Brennan

With the State of Illinois poised to enter Phase 4 of the Governor’s “Restore Illinois” plan, 270 bowling centers, most whom are members of the Illinois Bowling Proprietors’ Association, are extremely excited to open their doors for business. These mostly-independent small businesses have gone to great lengths during the 100 days of the stay-at-home order, preparing their staff and facilities to be the safest destinations for recreation throughout Illinois. Online education, in-person staff training, the purchase of PPE, installation of barriers, and the development of a comprehensive list of best practices and procedures are just a few of the steps centers have taken that make them confident in safeguarding everyone who comes to the lanes

Unfortunately, with the news that bowling centers would be restricted to the extremely limited number of 50 guests in our facilities, many centers are now determining if reopening is even an option. Small to larger centers all share the traits of having large areas to facilitate social distancing, and these facilities have never been better equipped to clean and sanitize high-traffic touch points. Even before the stay-at-home order, the ISBPA’s members had evolved their operations to prevent the transmission of the virus, including Limiting group size, voluntarily reducing capacity, discouraging spectators, and the thorough cleaning and sanitizing of all shared equipment and spaces.

It’s really disheartening that the State of Illinois doesn’t believe that the bowling centers can reopen at a safe 50 percent of our granted capacity with the even heightened awareness and emphasis of safety and cleanliness. The fact that casinos, fitness clubs, gyms, indoor recreation facilities, and other similar location-based industries can open at this percentage of capacity bewilders the bowling community’s business owners. Expecting facilities that have tens of thousands of square feet to even pay their overhead with a maximum of 50 guests is preposterous. What’s worse is throughout the shutdown, numerous phone and camera calls were made in helping shape what Phase 4 looked like for bowling in Illinois. All in attendance knew our emphasis and expectations of safety and sanitation, and all regarded the granting of 50 percent capacity in our centers was a safe and business sound compromise.

* I asked about the viral load issue…

We have centers in membership that range in 4 lanes to 84 lanes. 50 people inside these facilities would look drastically different. Our centers are large enough that if we were granted 50 percent capacity we could responsibly distance groups of customers from each other. The fact that casinos and fitness centers, which have many more high traffic areas and touch points, and are allowed a 50 percent capacity and we are not isn’t logical.

He also sent the guidelines that were distributed to owners. Click here.

* The Question: Should bowling centers be granted the same 50 percent capacity limits as casinos? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please…


bike trails

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      


AAP issues recommendations for reopening schools

Monday, Jun 29, 2020

* The American Academy of Pediatrics “strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school”...

• School policies must be flexible and nimble in responding to new information, and administrators must be willing to refine approaches when specific policies are not working.

• It is critically important to develop strategies that can be revised and adapted depending on the level of viral transmission in the school and throughout the community and done with close communication with state and/or local public health authorities and recognizing the differences between school districts, including urban, suburban, and rural districts.

• Policies should be practical, feasible, and appropriate for child and adolescent’s developmental stage.

• Special considerations and accommodations to account for the diversity of youth should be made, especially for our vulnerable populations, including those who are medically fragile, live in poverty, have developmental challenges, or have special health care needs or disabilities, with the goal of safe return to school.

• No child or adolescent should be excluded from school unless required in order to adhere to local public health mandates or because of unique medical needs. Pediatricians, families, and schools should partner together to collaboratively identify and develop accommodations, when needed.

• School policies should be guided by supporting the overall health and well-being of all children, adolescents, their families, and their communities. These policies should be consistently communicated in languages other than English, if needed, based on the languages spoken in the community, to avoid marginalization of parents/guardians who are of limited English proficiency or do not speak English at all.

* Face coverings

Cloth face coverings protect others if the wearer is infected with SARS CoV-2 and is not aware. Cloth masks may offer some level of protection for the wearer. Evidence continues to mount on the importance of universal face coverings in interrupting the spread of SARS-CoV-2. Although ideal, universal face covering use is not always possible in the school setting for many reasons. Some students, or staff, may be unable to safely wear a cloth face covering because of certain medical conditions (eg, developmental, respiratory, tactile aversion, or other conditions) or may be uncomfortable, making the consistent use of cloth face coverings throughout the day challenging. For individuals who have difficulty with wearing a cloth face covering and it is not medically contraindicated to wear a face covering, behavior techniques and social skills stories(see resource section)can be used to assist in adapting to wearing a face covering. When developing policy regarding the use of cloth face coverings by students or school staff, school districts and health advisors should consider whether the use of cloth face coverings is developmentally appropriate and feasible and whether the policy can be instituted safely. If not developmentally feasible, which may be the case for younger students, and cannot be done safely (eg, the face covering makes wearers touch their face more than they otherwise would), schools may choose to not require their use when physical distancing measures can be effectively implemented. School staff and older students (middle or high school) may be able to wear cloth face coverings safely and consistently and should be encouraged to do so. Children under 2 years and anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a face covering without assistance should not wear cloth face coverings.

For certain populations, the use of cloth face coverings by teachers may impede the education process. These include students who are deaf or hard of hearing, students receiving speech/language services, young students in early education programs, and English-language learners. Although there are products (eg, face coverings with clear panels in the front) to facilitate their use among these populations, these may not be available in all settings.

* Immunizations

Existing school immunization requirements should be maintained and not deferred because of the current pandemic. In addition, although influenza vaccination is generally not required for school attendance, in the coming academic year, it should be highly encouraged for all students. School districts should consider requiring influenza vaccination for all staff members. Pediatricians should work with schools and local public health authorities to promote childhood vaccination messaging well before the start of the school year. It is vital that all children receive recommend vaccinations on time and get caught up if they are behind as a result of the pandemic.

There’s a lot more, so click here if this topic applies to you or a loved one.

* From the Southern

Southern Illinois school officials got their first glimpse of rules for in-person learning for the next school year on Tuesday and began planning to implement them before the mid-August start of the school year.

Some school districts posted on social media new guidelines and information about how they are developing their plans for in-person learning.

Century School District 100 posted a message on Facebook that included: “We know that everyone is anxiously waiting to see what school will look like for us in the fall. Over the coming weeks, our staff and other stakeholders will be working to develop Century’s back to school plan. Once we have a plan in place, we will disseminate it accordingly.”

They asked that parents have patience and included a link to the new guidelines from the state. School officials also asked that parents not overreact to the guidelines because there are six weeks until the start of school, and things may change before that date.

* Tribune

With new cases of COVID-19 continuing and no vaccine, many parents have questions about what a return to school might look like.

Will young children be able to concentrate with face masks required? Will schools close over and over again if outbreaks occur, disrupting kids’ ability to learn? What if kids contract the disease and spread it to vulnerable family members?

Some parents are considering home-schooling their children.

Kids all over the world are wearing face coverings.

* Eastern Bloc


MPORTANT MESSAGE from Attorney Thomas DeVore:
Your children’s education is a fundamental right which cannot be withheld…

Posted by Brad Halbrook on Sunday, June 28, 2020

“Restrictemmendations”? Sheesh.

From comments…

Dress codes have been upheld by the courts for a long time.

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      


National Guard’s top general: “Treating every member of our organization with dignity and respect starts with listening and compassion”

Monday, Jun 29, 2020

* From the Illinois National Guard’s Adjutant General, Brigadier General Richard Neeley

To the Soldiers, Airmen, and Civilian Employees of the Illinois National Guard and Department of Military Affairs:

Diversity brings strength. We want to draw as much as we can from the talents of all our service members and civilians. Inclusiveness and the act of including others into the team, no matter their race, sex, religion, or sexual orientation strengthens our organization and the nation.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Pride and 10 years since the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Dedicated LGBTQ+ Soldiers, Airmen, and civilians have long served in the military and in the Illinois National Guard, but both policy and prejudice robbed them of the dignity and respect we all deserve no matter how we identify.

Pride means different things to different people. For those of us in uniform, we often talk about pride in our service, pride in the accomplishments of our organizations and pride in those on our right and left. For the Illinois National Guard’s LGBTQ+ Soldiers, Airmen and civilians, Pride carries an extra meaning: it is a celebration of progress, and progress still to come.

It was almost 100 years ago that the first gay rights organization was formed. Henry Gerber, an Army veteran who served in France during World War I, returned to Illinois and founded the Society for Human Rights in Chicago, in 1924, laying the groundwork for future organizations within the community. This mission of this organization was:

“[T]o promote and protect the interests of people who … are abused and hindered in the legal pursuit of happiness which is guaranteed them by the Declaration of Independence and to combat the public prejudices against them by dissemination of factors according to modern science among intellectuals of mature age.”

Gerber’s organization was short-lived, but it served as an anchor for the modern movement that Pride celebrates this month.

Pride comes in June to mark the anniversary of one event, the spark in the fire that still burns today. The “Stonewall Inn,” a hangout for members of the LGBTQ+ community, was raided by New York Police on June 28, 1969. Simply existing as an LGBTQ+ person was not legal at the time and protests and violence ensued. Hot on the heels of the Civil Rights Movement, the LGBTQ+ Rights Movement gained steam. The first Pride Parade was held in Chicago, the very next year in 1970, and has been held all over the world ever since.

We acknowledge the hard-fought battles for civil rights, those already won and those ongoing. Treating every member of our organization with dignity and respect starts with listening and compassion.

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Duckworth gets her moment in the sun

Monday, Jun 29, 2020

* The national media had slowly begun to take interest in US Sen. Tammy Duckworth as a possible vice presidential choice for Joe Biden. Duckworth was then put on the vetted list and a recent New York Times profile elevated her profile even further

Dan Milberg is a retired Army helicopter pilot who voted for Donald J. Trump in 2016, and does not wish to vote for him again. But before he can consider pulling the lever for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., he needs to know who his running mate will be.

“It might be someone too progressive,” said Mr. Milberg, who lives in Robertsville, Mo.

The one person who would put him at ease, Mr. Milberg said, is the pilot whose seemingly lifeless body he lifted from a helicopter in 2004, her legs blown off by a rocket-­propelled grenade not far from Baghdad: Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois.

It is not so much the event that indelibly marked both of their lives and earned Ms. Duckworth a purple heart that draws him to her, Mr. Milberg said. Rather, he continued, she “is moderate enough that I think she can be appealing.”

* The idea of appealing to the center took hold with NYT columnist Frank Bruni

But mightn’t Warren also give moderate voters pause? What about her age? She’s 71. Biden’s 77. Can the party of change and modernity, whose last two presidents were both under 50 when first elected, go with an all-septuagenarian ticket?

Governing partners don’t matter if you don’t get to govern. The certain catastrophe of four more years of Trump demands that Biden choose his running mate with November at the front, the back, the top and the bottom of his mind.

Harris also ably prosecutes the case against Trump. But many progressives have issues with her, and the idea that she’d drive high turnout among black voters isn’t supported by her failed bid for the Democratic nomination. She lacked support across the board, including among African-Americans. And in a recent national poll conducted by The Times and Siena College, more than four in five voters — including three in four black voters — said that race shouldn’t be a factor in Biden’s vice-presidential pick.

Duckworth is neither progressive idol nor progressive enemy. That partly reflects a low policy profile that’s among her flaws as a running mate but could actually work to her advantage, making her difficult to pigeonhole and open to interpretation. Trump-weary voters can read into her what they want. And in recent congressional elections, Democrats have had success among swing voters with candidates who are veterans.

* Fox News profile

She’s received high marks on legislative effectiveness.

As a freshman senator, Duckworth passed three proposed bills into law, earning her the rank of “Exceeds Expectations” as a freshman senator from the Center for Effective Lawmaking, alongside Republican John Kennedy, for the 115th Congress, 2017-2018.

* From WaPo’s top eleven

10. Tammy Duckworth: The senator from Illinois, Iraq War veteran and double-amputee made her case as Biden’s running mate in a New York Times story Thursday: “I can push back against Trump in a way others can’t,” Duckworth said. She added: “I can say, ‘Listen, that American flag is the same flag that would drape my father’s coffin, my coffin, my husband’s coffin and my brother’s.’ It has draped them for generations. No one respects that flag more than I have. But I will respect the right to protest it, too.” (Previous ranking: 9)

* CNN

An emerging consensus is that Biden should select a woman of color. University of Virginia Professor Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball ranks all five of Biden’s top vice presidential choices as women of color, with Harris, Demings, and Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth leading the way.

* Sabato’s advantages for Duckworth

•Inspiring life story as double amputee
•Military background could give her crossover appeal
•Succession in the Senate not an issue
•Safe pick

Disadvantages

•Has kept a low profile in the Senate
•Biden won’t need help carrying IL
•Safe pick

Discuss.

…Adding… I was talking with a pal who brought up a potential issue. Duckworth was a Blagojevich appointee (Veterans Affairs). Blagojevich now describes himself as a Trump supporter. Could be problems there.

*** UPDATE *** VoteVets is backing her…


* Related…

* Sen. Tammy Duckworth Demands Senate Hearing Into Report Russia Secretly Offered Bounties To Afghan Militants For Killing U.S. Troops

- Posted by Rich Miller   55 Comments      


Gov. Pritzker, Mayor Lightfoot rebuke President Trump

Monday, Jun 29, 2020

* From the White House, June 26, 2020

Dear Governor Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot:

I write to you today to call your attention to and urge action on the devastating violence in Chicago. While I have been heartened to see crime reductions nationally the last few years, I have been horrified by the continued violence in this great American city.

I recently read an article from the Chicago Sun-Times on June 8, 2020, “18 murders in 24 hours: Inside the most violent day in 60 years in Chicago,” which discussed the severe crime and lack of law and order in our Nation’s third largest city. The article details how “85 people were shot and 24 killed the previous weekend, the most in modern history in Chicago.” Your lack of leadership on this important issue continues to fail the people you have sworn to protect. I am concerned it is another example of your lack of commitment to the vulnerable citizens who are victims of this violence and a lack of respect for the men and women in law enforcement. The article recounts the following horrors:

    A hardworking father killed.

    A West Side high school student murdered.

    A college freshman who hoped to become a correctional officer, gunned down.

    18 people killed Sunday, May 31, the single most violent day in Chicago in six decades.

    The weekend of May 29, 25 people were killed and another 85 wounded by gunfire.

    The most violent weekend in Chicago’s modern history, stretching police resources that were already thin because of protests and looting.

Violence and death, which are disproportionately harming young African Americans, are tragic and unacceptable, particularly on such a shocking scale. According to the Chicago Sun Times, “shootings across the City increased by 71 percent last month,” and just this past weekend 102 people were shot in the city’s most violent weekend of the year. A 3-year old toddler was killed. More Americans have been killed in Chicago than in combat zones of Afghanistan and Iraq combined since September 11, 2001, a deadly trend that has continued under your tenure.

The American people (hardworking taxpayers) send you millions of dollars in Federal funding each year to support public safety in Chicago. In 2018 and 2019, the City of Chicago benefited from $136 million in funding from the Urban Area Security Initiative Grant Program, and another $68 million was recently announced for Chicago from this important program. The Department of Justice awarded and is in the process of awarding nearly $20 million to support law enforcement and law-enforcement related entities in the City of Chicago and Cook County across 2019 and 2020, including resources for combating opioid abuse and recidivism reduction. The Department of Labor has also awarded funding to programs targeting prisoner re-entry and recidivism reduction in the Chicago area. My Administration allocated $898.6 million to the City of Chicago and Cook County from the Coronavirus Relief Fund, which helps support your first responders on the front lines. In the absence of any modicum of leadership, however, these substantial sums of taxpayer money are not being turned into results, and the safety of your most vulnerable communities continues to deteriorate. These funds are in addition to those collected through your combined insatiable appetite to tax the people of Illinois and Chicago.

I will continue to lead the way to support historically disadvantaged communities and would welcome your help in these endeavors. In December 2018, I signed into law the First Step Act, marking the first major reforms to our criminal justice system in over a decade. This brings historic reforms to make our justice system fairer and to help inmates successfully transition back into society by providing prisoners with a second chance through rehabilitative programs and fair sentencing. Additionally, when I signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, we created Opportunity Zones. Nationwide, nearly 9,000 communities have designated Opportunity Zones, including over 130 in Chicago, which are incentivizing investments in areas that have been forgotten for far too long. My Administration has also provided robust, unprecedented support to Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Recently, on June 16, I signed an Executive Order advancing important reforms to elevate a noble profession and strengthen the essential bond of trust between police officers and the communities in which they serve. My Administration continues to work closely with Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina and others across the political spectrum to advance further policy improvements and meaningful reforms.

Unlike previous Administrations of both parties, I am willing to tackle unsolved challenges. If you are willing to put partisanship aside, we can revitalize distressed neighborhoods in Chicago, together. But to succeed, you must establish law and order. The combination of crime, high State and local taxes, and onerous State and local government regulations have caused thousands of Illinoisans to flee to other States. Between 2010 and 2019, Illinois lost more of its population than any other state in the Nation. If you are interested, I am willing to ask members of my Cabinet to meet with you and help devise a plan to make Chicago safe, since a successful formula has escaped both you and your predecessors. My Administration would also welcome the opportunity to engage with you and your colleagues as you develop bipartisan policy recommendations to improve policing and make our great cities safer for all.

Unfortunately, you continue to put your own political interests ahead of the lives, safety, and fortunes of your own citizens. The people of Chicago deserve better.

Sincerely,

Donald J. Trump

* Sun-Times

Lightfoot replied: “I don’t need leadership lessons from Donald Trump. As our police officers, street outreach workers and residents continue to work tirelessly to keep our communities safe, he’s using the victims of gun violence in our city to score cheap political points, spew racist rhetoric, and ignore the impact of COVID across this country. It is despicable, disgusting and all too typical. Same old tired playbook. How about some leadership not steeped in the divide and conquer tactics?

“I stand with the Governor in providing for the safety and well-being of our residents.” […]

Trump has focused on Chicago crime since his 2016 presidential campaign, accusing city leaders and then Mayor Rahm Emanuel of thwarting police and at one point pledging to “send in the Feds.”

One of Trump’s oft-cited claims, which has never been proved, is that he talked to a “top police officer in Chicago” who told him he could stop crime in the city “within one week.”

* Pritzker press secretary Jordan Abudayyeh…

President Trump is a failure who has once again resorted to a press stunt in an attempt to distract from his long list of failures, especially his response to the deadly coronavirus and nationwide calls for racial justice. The people of this state and this nation have unfortunately come to expect his unhinged attempts to politicize tragedy with his predictable and worn-out strategy to distract, distract, distract. The Governor stands with the Mayor in working to accomplish meaningful change.

* Tribune editorial board

Pritzker and Lightfoot should call him on it. Schedule a meeting with Justice Department officials. Draw up a wish list. Federal dollars and law enforcement assistance are valuable. Maybe it means more manpower, more imaginative approaches, more technology. There are existing, effective social service programs in Chicago, ranging from gang conflict mediation to teen mentoring, that would benefit from a targeted infusion of federal dollars.

Deep breaths before commenting, please. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   123 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Prepare for return fire

Monday, Jun 29, 2020

* I know we’ve discussed this topic before, but it’s now become my weekly syndicated newspaper column

Illinois Rising Action, a dark money super PAC, is running a TV ad against Gov. J.B. Pritzker. The group reportedly is putting $1 million behind the spot on both cable and broadcast over two weeks.

Called “Failed,” the ad heaps criticism on the governor for the “toilet scandal,” increased gas taxes, increased taxes on cars and allegedly giving a “huge” pay raise “to his politician buddies.” It also goes after his administration’s response to massive unemployment. The ad is appearing on broadcast and cable TV in Chicago, Champaign/Springfield and in Paducah, Kentucky.

A million bucks isn’t a lot of money in the TV world, but it’s not nothing, either. And since he began running for governor, Pritzker has never allowed an attack ad to go unchallenged and never allowed himself to be outspent.

As I write this, no response ads are airing, but I think it’s safe to say the governor will respond, and will also up the ante in the process. How much is anyone’s guess, but it’ll likely be substantial.

Illinois Rising Action has issued numerous press releases since early March. The group’s hits on the governor have rarely been mentioned by the media, perhaps because some of the attacks have been a bit of a stretch.

For instance, the organization, which does not have to reveal its funding sources, has pointed out that an investment group the governor founded with his brother backed a company that won a $13 million federal contract to develop a test for COVID-19. The story was covered by Fox News, but didn’t gain much traction beyond anti-testing social media paranoids.

Pritzker has put all of his investments into a blind trust. Besides that, the company has no state contracts and, frankly, developing a new federally funded test isn’t exactly the most horrible thing I’ve ever heard.

The organization also attempted to connect the dots between Pritzker’s “toilet” scandal and the massive federal effort to convert McCormick Place into an acute alternate care facility.

The contractor, Bulley & Andrews, was the master contractor for Pritzker’s spare mansion rehab, which blew up in his face when it was discovered that toilets were removed in order to reduce the property taxes on his vacant house. The McCormick Place contract, however, was let by the United States Department of Defense, not the State of Illinois. According to the Department of Defense, 18 firms bid on the $9 million contract.

Nonetheless, “A pattern is beginning to emerge of vendors with close ties to Governor Pritzker being awarded coronavirus related contracts,” the group recently claimed.

Bulley & Andrews is one of the oldest contracting firms in Chicago.

The governor has blamed the group for privately dishing to reporters that his wife and daughter were in Florida and that his family had visited their Wisconsin horse farm. Pritzker has said his wife and kid were in Florida before the first stay-at-home order was issued and that he owns a “working” farm in Wisconsin, so travel to it would be covered by his order.

Both stories visibly angered the governor — a guy who rarely shows that side of himself in public (or in private, for that matter). He claimed at one point that the “GOP super PAC” was “putting my family and my children in danger.”

Illinois Rising is run by a former Mark Kirk/Bruce Rauner operative who also consults for the firm running the opposition to the governor’s “Fair Tax” (some of whom also worked for Rauner before “the purge”). The idea, apparently, is to rough up the governor, and then the group working against the “Fair Tax” will build on that work to try and prevent it from passing. To succeed, the constitutional amendment needs the votes of either 60 percent plus one of those who cast ballots for or against the amendment, or over half of all votes cast in the entire election. The opposition doesn’t have to necessarily win in order to prevail.

A response ad is therefore a bit tricky. If this were only about Pritzker, his advertising team would just kneecap the Republican Party, a not-so-popular entity in this state. But this fight is ultimately about the progressive income tax proposal. So, in order to succeed, Fair Tax proponents will likely need some Republican or GOP-leaning votes.

All we can do now is sit back and wait to see how the Pritzker people thread that needle and track how much they spend.

Hey, at least it’s something to occupy ourselves with while the world burns.

Thoughts?

*** UPDATE *** And here it comes…


- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


Open thread

Monday, Jun 29, 2020

* A buddy of mine is in Alabama and he says these are everywhere…

Every team should be doing something like this.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition

Monday, Jun 29, 2020

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

Monday, Jun 29, 2020

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*** LIVE COVERAGE ***

Monday, Jun 29, 2020

* Follow along with ScribbleLive


- Posted by Rich Miller   Comment      


Reader comments closed for the weekend

Friday, Jun 26, 2020

* First, a little news from the governor’s press secretary…

Reporters—

Welcome to phase four!

We will no longer utilize a pool system for the Governor’s press conferences and will return to a normal press conference format, with masks and physical distance.

Thank you for your patience as we worked through the challenges the pandemic brought us.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Jordan

* Meanwhile, today marks an important five-year anniversary for the nation. Lady Gaga will help us commemorate it

Also, please wear a mask in Phase 4 so we don’t end up like Texas or Florida. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


857 new cases, 39 additional deaths

Friday, Jun 26, 2020

* Press release…

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced 857 new confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 39 additional confirmed deaths.

    - Cass County: 1 male 80s
    - Cook County: 1 male 20s, 2 females 50s, 1 male 50s, 3 females 60s, 5 males 60s, 4 females 70s, 2 males 70s, 2 females 80s, 3 males 80s, 3 females 90s, 1 male 90s
    - DuPage County: 1 female 70s, 1 male 80s, 1 female 90s
    - Kane County: 1 female 60s, 1 female 70s, 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s
    - Lake County: 1 female 70s
    - St. Clair County: 1 male 70s
    - Will County: 1 female 70s
    - Winnebago County: 1 male 40s

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 140,291 cases, including 6,847 deaths, in 101 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 30,425 specimens for a total of 1,490,952. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from June 19–June 25 is 3%.

Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, IDPH is now reporting both confirmed and probable cases and deaths on its website. Reporting probable cases will help show the potential burden of COVID-19 illness and efficacy of population-based non-pharmaceutical interventions.

* Some related stories…

* Gov. Pritzker addresses antisemitism, “crisis of morality” during COVID-19 pandemic

* Naperville Park District to Dismiss Pritzker Lawsuit

* Is Illinois ready to reopen? Epidemiologist weighs in on Phase 4 risks like crowds, indoor dining

* Families: Gov. Pritzker’s Nursing Home Liability Order Strips Justice

* 911 Calls Show Nursing Home Outbreak Unfolding In Slow Motion

* A group spread face mask exemption cards on Facebook. The DOJ says they are fraudulent

* Mayor Lori Lightfoot says Chicago’s ‘not there yet’ on fans in stands at ballparks

* Sun-Times live blog headlines

Florida’s new COVID-19 cases reported Friday more than double Illinois’ highest single-day total

University of Chicago to assist with COVID-19 vaccine study

Texas shuts down bars, tubing as coronavirus cases surge

16 NBA players test positive for coronavirus as season restart approaches

‘I’ll have the Post-Pandemic Special please’

* Tribune live blog headlines

Lightfoot takes part of Chicago summer youths job program online during COVID-19 pandemic

Employers brace for a ‘PTO bomb’ as vacation-starved employees make time off requests

Longtime regulars celebrate Gene & Georgetti’s reopening – its first since an October fire – over lunch

Morning classes at Northbrook gym run a waitlist Friday as indoor workouts resume

Curtain finally rises again at movie theaters – ‘I’ve been waiting for this day’

Bowling to live, once again

Huge drop in Illinois home sales due to COVID-19 might be great for sellers, but not for buyers: ‘There’s a feeding frenzy.’

Job seekers get more options — and competition — as working from home becomes permanent. ‘If we decide we need people to come in, we can fly them in.’

Takeout still preferred at MacArthur’s as lunchtime draws customers to West Side cafeteria

Cook County court system eyes July reopening, mostly via video

YMCA reopens for indoor workouts as Illinois moves to Phase 4. ‘It’s not buzzing like it should, but it will be.’

City Colleges of Chicago have suspended athletics for the 2020-21 academic year as a precaution amid the coronavirus pandemic

Man who lost two sisters, including Illinois’ first COVID-19 victim, hopes to spare others from similar tragedy

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


Question of the day

Friday, Jun 26, 2020

* Greg Hinz

In what you might call a sign of the times with special meaning, a whopping 78,823 Chicagoans already have applied to vote by mail in the fall general election, even though they won’t get their ballots until late September, cast them in October and have them counted in November.

The explosion in remote voting is only expected to continue, driven by long-term trends and voters’ reluctance to mingle in crowds amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Lance Gough, executive director of the Chicago Board of Elections, more than 500,000 city residents will likely apply to vote by mail by early October. Anything close to that would swamp the 118,000 mail applications the board received for the March primary election. In the 2016 general election, about 93,000 city voters cast their ballots by mail.

Wow.

* The Question: Do you plan to vote by mail in the general election? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please…


free polls

- Posted by Rich Miller   63 Comments      


Don’t believe everything you read

Friday, Jun 26, 2020

* Brad Weisenstein at the Center Square

Putting things on “automatic” just makes life so much easier in Illinois, at least for the state’s leaders.

No need to make politically unpopular decisions, because that state gasoline tax automatically goes up on July 1. Same for lawmakers giving themselves $1,800 raises while being able to claim: “We didn’t vote for those. They were automatic.”

And so it is for Gov. J.B. Pritzker. He doesn’t need any courage to face the state’s biggest government worker union and speak the truth about COVID-19 shutdowns blowing a $6 billion hole in the state’s revenues. On July 1 there will be $261 million in raises going to members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, automatically.

Nearly 1 in 4 Illinoisans is out of a job. Many are still fighting the state’s Rube Goldberg machine of an unemployment system to get the federal money they were promised.

So how fair is it that some of the highest-paid state employees in the nation are getting a raise that must be funded by an economically wounded bunch of taxpayers?

Pritzker dismissed the idea of delaying the state worker raises: “That’s not something that we’re currently having discussions about,” he said in late April.

But other governors, and specifically other Democratic governors, have taken action to preserve scarce cash as they deal with extra costs and crumbling tax bases thanks to the pandemic.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is canceling a 3% pay hike for some state employees and forcing one-day-a-week furloughs on 40,000 others to handle a nearly $9 billion shortfall.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo delayed raises for 80,000 state workers for 90 days, and is now considering employee buyouts. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam pushed back state worker raises, and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf stopped paying 9,000 state workers on April 11.

1) Illinois didn’t previously index its Motor Fuel Tax to inflation and as a result the revenues lost half their value.

2) The budget didn’t include legislator pay raises and the comptroller won’t pay them.

3) For the umpteenth time, the Illinois governor cannot unilaterally delay pay raises for unionized workers.

4) Washington Gov. Inslee’s press release reveals that he did cancel some pay raises for exempt employees, but the vast majority of raises (mostly union workers) will proceed. It’s still worth considering here, but that’s a drop in the bucket.

5) Washington’s furloughs were not unilaterally forced on unionized workers. Gov. Inslee negotiated with the union and 95 percent of members voted to accept the plan. Why would workers do such a thing? Because state employees will actually make more money from the furloughs. Unlike Illinois, Washington has implemented a shared work program. The state shifted costs to its unemployment system. Check this out

Heh.

6) New York merely delayed the pay raises. The largest union representing workers apparently has contract language allowing for freezes in extraordinary circumstances. The freeze reportedly won’t apply to the second-largest union, which has 56,000 members.

7) Is the Center Square praising a proposal to prematurely dump active state workers into the already over-burdened state pension system? Looks like it.

8) Virginia doesn’t have much of a state employees’ union. The legislature approved raises before the virus hit, but the governor doesn’t have to spend all the money.

9) Pennsylvania’s governor did, indeed lay off 9,000 state workers who were not essential or weren’t telecommuting. They were able to use their paid leave and kept their health insurance.

* Again, there are most certainly budget reductions that should be on the table in Illinois. But after nearly two decades of state operational reductions and those two horrible years without a state budget, there ain’t a whole lot of maneuvering room.

* Related…

* ‘Everything is on the table,’ Cook County board President Toni Preckwinkle warns as 2021 budget gap forecasted to be largest in a decade

* Cook County Finances In The Red Due To COVID-19 Pandemic; Layoffs, Tax Hike Possible

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


AG responds to ILGOP lawsuit

Friday, Jun 26, 2020

* Rebecca Anzel at Capitol News Illinois

State regulation of the number of people allowed at gatherings does not violate Illinoisans’ First Amendment rights, the attorney general’s office argued in a court document.

A lawsuit filed on June 15 by the state’s Republican Party alleged Gov. JB Pritzker’s executive order limiting gatherings to 10 residents or fewer was unconstitutional because it restricted the party’s freedom of speech. It also contended the order treated religious institutions and protests differently than other groups, which breaches the U.S. Constitution’s equal protections clause.

The governor’s May 29 executive order suggested houses of worship follow COVID-19 safety guidelines — limit indoor services to 10 people, for example — but did not require they do so. The GOP also pointed to Pritzker’s attendance at a Black Lives Matter demonstration as evidence he was not enforcing his order against groups he supports.

But neither allegation is accurate, the state wrote in a document filed Wednesday.

* First up, the alleged double standard on religious services

Plaintiffs’ erroneous logic regarding the treatment of houses of worship would require invalidation of numerous exemptions for religious conduct under Illinois and federal law, such as the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act and its federal counterpart. Indeed, the First Amendment itself, which expressly elevates the “free exercise” of religion, would fail Plaintiffs’ ill-conceived test. That is not and cannot be the law.

* And what about those protests?

Plaintiffs are also wrong that the Governor’s personal participation in a protest converts the 10-person limitation into viewpoint discrimination. Plaintiffs allege no facts indicating that the Governor has selectively enforced the 10-person limitation in a way that constitutes state- sanctioned viewpoint discrimination. To the contrary: during the peak of the pandemic, the Governor did not prohibit or sanction the “Reopen Illinois” protests against his own “stay at home” orders that violated the 10-person limit on state property.

* More from the AG’s filing

Plaintiffs identify no specific instance of actual expression that they fear is prohibited under EO38. Rather, they point to types of events, such as a candidate rally and a July 4 celebration, that they claim are “barred” by EO38. […]

The 10-person limitation on gatherings is no different for First Amendment purposes than a building occupancy limit imposed by a municipal fire code. Political rallies and conventions have always had to abide by occupancy limits, even though overflow crowds (or lack thereof) may signal strong support (or the reverse) for a particular message or messenger. The act of gathering in a confined space, which increases the risk of casualties in the event of a fire, is what is being regulated, not the message being delivered at the gathering. But no one could plausibly contend that a building occupancy limit triggers First Amendment scrutiny, even if applied to a political convention. The same reasoning applies here. Yes, the numerical limit in EO38 is stricter, but only because the risk of COVID-19 transmission increases with each additional person present and the imminence and probability of harm and death from COVID-19 are far higher.

Plaintiffs have also demonstrated their ability to communicate their message to the public despite the numerical limit on in-person gatherings. Although Northwest Side GOP Club chairman Matt Podgorski declared that his committee’s “meetings have been canceled,” the group’s Facebook page indicates it hosted virtual club meetings in April and May, with a video of at least one meeting viewable online. Plaintiff Schaumburg Township Republican Organization announced it was opening its offices on May 14–16 and May 20–23 to collect signatures for a political candidate. Members of the Will County Republican Central Committee held a press conference on June 5; a video posted to the group’s Facebook page shows six people standing shoulder-to-shoulder addressing reporters. And the Illinois Republican Party hosted part of its convention online two days before filing this lawsuit, inviting the public to “gather[ ] with Republicans all across Illinois!” and join over a dozen training and discussion events.

Plaintiffs include a single sentence in their brief that could be responsive to the distinction between conduct and speech, arguing that political speech “is most effective and persuasive when delivered in person.” But the First Amendment does not guarantee a right to the “most effective and persuasive” mode of speech in the midst of a pandemic, and Plaintiffs appear to acknowledge that they can still “deliver[ ]” speech of their choice. Because EO 38 regulates the conduct of gathering in close quarters to limit the spread of COVID-19, and does not limit the content of Plaintiffs’ speech, it does not violate the First Amendment.

* The filing also claims the EO is “a reasonable, content-neutral time, place, and manner regulation.” The AG’s office says plaintiffs “cannot demonstrate irreparable harm” and that the “balance of harms weighs decidedly against injunctive relief”

Plaintiffs also turn a blind eye to a once- in-a-lifetime health crisis. As one court in this district recently found, “the balance of hardships tilts markedly” in favor of social-distancing measures; deciding otherwise “would pose serious risks to public health. … COVID-19 is a virulent and deadly disease that has killed thousands of Americans and may be poised to devastate the lives of thousands more.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      


There oughta be a law

Friday, Jun 26, 2020

* From the Illinois Environmental Protection Act

In granting permits, the Agency may impose reasonable conditions specifically related to the applicant’s past compliance history with this Act as necessary to correct, detect, or prevent noncompliance. The Agency may impose such other conditions as may be necessary to accomplish the purposes of this Act, and as are not inconsistent with the regulations promulgated by the Board hereunder.

* IEPA press release from yesterday…

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has issued a construction permit to General III, LLC, along with a document responding to public comments.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Act requires the Illinois EPA to issue a construction permit to an applicant upon a showing that the proposed facility or equipment will not cause a violation of the Act or Pollution Control Board regulations. In such a case, as it is here, the Illinois EPA does not have discretion to deny the permit, but does have the authority to enhance the permit by adding special conditions tailored to the proposed operation – accordingly, such conditions have been included in this particular permit. In addition, an applicant’s past or on-going compliance issues must be addressed through the Agency’s compliance and enforcement programs. This stems from past court rulings holding that permitting and enforcement are two separate functions, that enforcement cannot be conducted through permitting activity, and that the Agency must not deny or base a permit decision upon mere allegations that a source is violating or has violated applicable requirements.

General III is a scrap metal recycling facility to be located at 11600 South Burley Avenue in Chicago. The permit application was received by Illinois EPA on September 25, 2019, and multiple extensions of the statutory decision deadline were obtained to allow sufficient time to review the application and allow for public input. The facility will receive recyclable material for shredding and processing that will be regulated and controlled through the permit’s terms and conditions.

The facility is being moved from its existing location in the Lincoln Park area to the southeast side of Chicago. The Illinois EPA has no legal role in the zoning or siting of facilities; where a facility may locate is the exclusive determination of units of local government, in this case, the City of Chicago. The move of the current General II facility comes following a deal reached in September 2019 between the City of Chicago and General Iron Industries, the owner and operator of the existing General II facility, and RMG Investment Group, LLC, the owner and operator of the new facility. The term sheet signed by those parties calls for the facility to cease operations at its Lincoln Park location by the end of 2020 in conjunction with the relocation of the facility to the new southeast side location. The Illinois EPA was not a party to this agreement. The existing General II location is adjacent to Sterling Bay’s new Lincoln Yards development.

The Illinois EPA is aware of the high level of public concern over this project. To allow for oral and written public comments while still adhering to social distancing requirements brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Illinois EPA held an afternoon and evening “virtual” public hearing to provide two opportunities for participation and also opened a written public comment period of 77 days to accept public input over the proposed draft permit. Over the two public hearings, which were accessible by video web connection, smartphone app, or telephone dial-in, a total of 21 citizens provided oral comments and 203 people participated. At the close of the written comment period, 329 people provided written statements or other submissions or exhibits.

After consideration of all public comments and further review of the permit application and proposed project, the Illinois EPA strengthened the protections afforded by the permit and fulfilled its obligations under law and to the public to create a strict, enforceable, and comprehensive permit.

The special permit conditions impose additional requirements upon General III including:

    • Limitations on emissions and hours of operation based on modeling of hazardous metallic pollutants
    • Extensive initial and follow-up emissions testing, including capture efficiency testing
    • Installation and operation of monitoring devices
    • Development and implementation of Fugitive Emissions Operating Program
    • Development and implementation of Feedstock Management Plan
    • Development and implementation of Operation and Maintenance Plan
    • Addition of LEL Monitoring System to the exhaust from the capture system associated with the Hammermill Shredder System, and associated recordkeeping and reporting requirements to prevent explosions at the Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer

A copy of the final construction permit and responsiveness summary are available on the Illinois EPA’s website. Cut and paste the below links into your web browser.
https://external.epa.illinois.gov/WebSiteApi/api/PublicNotices/GetAirPermitDocument/6380 and
https://external.epa.illinois.gov/WebSiteApi/api/PublicNotices/GetAirPermitDocument/6381

However, before the company may begin operations at the Burley Avenue location, it must also receive permits from the City of Chicago, including one pursuant to the City’s new rules for large recycling facilities. The new rules, effective June 5, 2020, implement the City’s Recycling Facility ordinance and include additional requirements that General Iron must meet in order to begin operating at the southeast side location. The City’s rules provide minimum standards for what is required in a permit application, including information to demonstrate that the facility will be designed and operated in a manner that prevents public nuisance and protects the public health, safety, and the environment. The rules also contain location, operational, and design standards applicable to large recycling facilities such as General III, including vehicle and traffic requirements, noise monitoring, air quality standards, and air emission monitoring.

The Illinois EPA recognizes the growing concerns surrounding the location and relocation of emissions sources in communities or neighborhoods that have historically been disproportionately impacted by industrial pollution, particularly areas identified as environmental justice areas. Environmental justice policies and activities should be continually evolving. Oftentimes multiple state and local entities play a role throughout the process of zoning and permitting a facility. The Illinois EPA is committed to continuing to work with legislators, environmental justice advocacy groups, municipalities including the City of Chicago, and other interested parties to identify and implement additional state and local policies to expand statutory protections for environmental justice communities.

* Tribune coverage

Mayor Lori Lightfoot is the last hurdle for a troubled but clout-heavy scrap shredder seeking to move from wealthy, largely white Lincoln Park to a low-income, predominantly Latino neighborhood on Chicago’s Southeast Side.

Brushing aside opposition from neighborhood groups and elected officials, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration on Thursday granted General Iron Industries a permit to build a new scrap yard along the Calumet River in the East Side neighborhood.

Pritzker appointees at the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency said state law gave them no choice, despite the company’s repeated violations of federal and local health laws.

Moving General Iron would rid the city’s North Side of metallic odors and unsightly piles of flattened cars, twisted rebar and used appliances. But community leaders on the Southeast Side contend Pritzker is perpetuating environmental racism by approving the company’s new location in a neighborhood that has struggled to recover since the steel industry abandoned it during the 1980s. […]

Jordan Abudayyeh, the governor’s chief spokeswoman, said the administration’s “hands were tied” by judicial interpretations of state law. She took a swipe at “statewide or national” advocates, suggesting it was up to them to propose legislation that would address “a broader regulatory problem that most severely impacts the health and safety of low-income communities — especially those of color.”

* The company itself essentially agrees that this is environmental racism on the part of the city

General Iron and partner RMG have said that the pollution controls proposed for the facility will be “state of the art.” The “decision to build this shredding operation on the Southeast Side was prompted by political and business realities,” company officials said in a letter to Illinois EPA June 15.

“A narrative has been constructed around this operation being moved from a rich white neighborhood to a lower income neighborhood where a majority of the population comprises people of color. Those facts are not in dispute,” company executives said in their letter. General Iron “was essentially zoned out of business,” they added, a reference to the $6 billion Lincoln Yards development being built around the car and industrial metal shredder’s longtime home at 1909 N. Clifton Ave.

* Environmental advocates strenuously contend that the IEPA has too narrowly interpreted case law on denying permits. They essentially made the same argument during the Sterigenics debate. But it looks to me like the statute needs to be changed.

And there actually was legislation introduced earlier this year to address this very issue

Provides that the Environmental Protection Agency shall ensure that possible adverse economic, social, and environmental effects on environmental justice communities relating to any permit or permit renewal have been fully considered prior to publishing a draft permit or permit renewal for public comment, and that the final decision on the permit or permit renewal is made in the best overall public interest

But the bill went nowhere and none of the legislators who recently sent a letter to the governor about General Iron signed on to the legislation.

…Adding… The IEPA responded to the objecting legislators. Click here to read the letter.

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      


Restaurant owners seeing light at the end of the tunnel, but hotel owners are gloomy

Friday, Jun 26, 2020

* Bill Wheelhouse

“We started with 594,000 people working in the [restaurant] industry at the beginning of the year and 321,000 are either on unemployment or furlough,” [Illinois Restaurant Association President Sam Toia] said. “But we’re seeing some light at the end of the tunnel here as we move into Phase Four. What we see as the governor, you know, confirms that the state is ready to safely reopen, that you have to have your tables six feet apart, social distancing is very, very important.”

The association is encouraging workers to wear face coverings and gloves and to clean hands frequently. Groups of diners will be separated by at least six feet. Toia is also asking diners to give a bit.

“So it’s very important when you go into a restaurant you have your face cover on. Then when you sit down you can take it off while you are eating, but if you get up to go to the restroom, you put your face covering back on,” said Toia.

Toia expects about 80% of food establishments to still be in business.

* The hotel industry is quite upset, however. This is from Michael Jacobson, president and CEO of the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, hotels across Illinois have worked closely with health experts to implement new safety procedures designed to protect employees and guests. Hotels are tightly controlled environments, making it easier to mitigate risk than in other public spaces. For instance, technology can be used to limit interactions between employees and guests, our ballrooms have far greater capacity for social distancing and we utilize guest lists to assist in contact tracing, if needed.

As an early adopter of these practices, we are confident hotels can safely host larger gatherings in meeting rooms and ballrooms as Illinois enters the next phase of the governor’s reopening plan. By implementing additional protocols, including temperature checks, limiting the number of people seated at tables and eliminating buffet-style food options, we believe occupancy limits can responsibly be raised to 50% of capacity. Under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s current plan, hotels would face a strict 50-person limit for all events until a treatment or vaccine becomes available — a prospect that could take years and jeopardizes thousands of events already booked in our venues.

Such a limit makes it nearly impossible for hotels to host weddings and business meetings in a cost-effective manner. These events make up to half of a hotel’s bottom line. Unnecessarily limiting attendance will only compound the damage hotels have already experienced, including massive layoffs and closures. In Illinois, state and local municipalities have lost out on $691.8 million in tax revenue generated by the hotel industry, according to a recent study by Oxford Economics.

No mention of how they intend to address the viral load issue.

…Adding… From a JP Morgan report…


* Meanwhile, in Texas…


- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      


Harmon to give away FOP contribution, won’t accept more

Friday, Jun 26, 2020

* Rachel Hinton at the Sun-Times

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has signed on to a pledge urging elected officials to reject political donations from the Fraternal Order of Police, joining a slew of political leaders around the country who say they won’t take money from police unions. […]

Illinois Senate President Don Harmon received $2,000 from the police union in February.

On Thursday, the Oak Park Democrat said he’d be donating that contribution to groups helping West Side communities.

“I won’t be accepting any contributions from the FOP and I will donate the contribution my committee received earlier this year to West Side community organizations working to lift up our community,” Harmon said in a statement.

It’s not like the FOP would’ve ever given any money to Foxx anyway, but the Harmon move is interesting.

More reaction and information at the link.

- Posted by Rich Miller   50 Comments      


Open thread

Friday, Jun 26, 2020

* Please keep it polite and Illinois-centric. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      


*** LIVE COVERAGE ***

Friday, Jun 26, 2020

* Follow along with ScribbleLive


- Posted by Rich Miller   Comment      


« NEWER POSTS PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Pritzker contributes $51.5 million to his "Fair Tax" campaign account
* *** UPDATED x1 *** SUBSCRIBERS ONLY: This just in...
* Reader comments closed for the holiday weekend
* *** UPDATED x3 *** Devore tells reporters he's won both cases
* Question of the day
* 869 new cases, 36 additional deaths, 2.6 percent positivity rate
* *** UPDATED x2 - ILGOP will appeal *** Federal judge denies ILGOP's TRO request: "Granting Plaintiffs the relief they seek would pose serious risks to public health"
* Today's must-watch video
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY: New ads; More react to Wednesday's edition (password fixed)
* After returning from Florida, Rep. Bailey won't get tested "on the advice of his doctor"
* We're number one... in FBI gun background checks during June
* White Sox vs. Cardinals at Field of Dreams game
* Lightfoot spins tall tale to justify preemptive sweeps
* Well, that escalated quickly
* If you want schools to reopen, wear a mask, keep your distance and wash your hands
* 1.43 million Americans, 45.25 thousand Illinoisans filed new unemployment claims last week
* Open thread
* *** LIVE COVERAGE ***
* Yesterday's stories

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