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Senate Exec Committee zooms CTU-opposed selective enrollment schools bill to the floor (Updated x2)

Wednesday, May 8, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The Senate Executive Committee put House Bill 303 on the agreed bill list this afternoon and passed it unanimously without debate. That’s the bill sponsored by Rep. Margaret Croke (D-Chicago) which protects selective enrollment schools in Chicago from closure, admissions changes or disproportionate budget cuts.

They did this while Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson is in the Statehouse. Johnson and the Chicago Teachers Union opposed the bill.

Wow.

…Adding… I had been told earlier this afternoon that Senate Exec likely wouldn’t be taking the bill up today out of deference to the mayor’s presence in the building. That obviously changed.

…Adding… Mayor Johnson was asked for his reaction to the Senate Executive Committee’s action by reporters this afternoon…

Well, look, it’s ongoing the conversations and, Springfield is quite the place to be for those conversations.

Johnson also seemed to indicate he’ll do an availability at around 5 o’clock today.

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Isabel’s afternoon roundup (Updated)

Wednesday, May 8, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

…Adding… Press release…

Gov. Pritzker Announces Successful $1.8 Billion State Bond Sale

With this sale, spreads have decreased approximately 100 basis points since Gov. Pritzker took office

CHICAGO- Today, Governor JB Pritzker announced that the State of Illinois has sold two series of General Obligation Bonds totaling $1.8 billion to provide funding for capital projects, including projects authorized under the Rebuild Illinois capital program and for accelerated pension payments pursuant to the state’s ongoing pension buyout program.

“Once again, continued fiscal responsibility and discipline have paid off in a big way for the state of Illinois, funding essential state infrastructure programs and reducing pension obligation costs,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “The market has recognized that Illinois is no longer a mismanaged, unreliable state to do business with. We are now seen as a constantly growing and expanding economy benefitting from saving, investing, and shepherding taxpayer dollars responsibly.”

“After nine credit upgrades, the State of Illinois received tremendous feedback from the bond market today, and especially from retail investors, who came in at ​ approximately $1.5 billion in orders given the stronger ratings,” said Paul Chatalas, Director of Capital Markets for the State of Illinois. “Based on this very strong demand, the State accelerated its pricing to capture positive momentum and received more than $12 billion in overall orders from 150 accounts. The final result showed some of the tightest credit spreads the State has received in recent history and a notably expanded base of investors who have shown that the State’s tremendous fiscal progress are already paying off for the citizens of Illinois.”

* WCIA

The United States Postal Service announced Tuesday it will be moving forward with a plan to consolidate the Processing and Distribution Center in Springfield.

Now, all outgoing mail processing operations that were done at the Springfield location will be moved to the St. Louis P&DC. The Springfield facility will remain open as a Local Processing Center.

The USPS says this decision will help optimize their services in Central Illinois. The agency said it will invest up to $6.1 million in the Springfield LPC, and no career employee layoffs will happen because of the change.

The proposed change to relocate some services in Springfield is a part of USPS’s “Delivering For America” 10-year strategic plan.

Comptroller Susana Mendoza…

I am very disappointed to learn the USPS has approved a plan to convert the Springfield Post Office into a local processing center and move distribution out-of-state to St. Louis. This ill-advised decision leaves Illinois’ state capital without a distribution center for state payments.

Last week I sent a letter to U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, expressing my concerns that vital payments to home health care and childcare providers, state vendors, emergency child support and even tax refunds could be delayed. For many, receiving these payments even one day late can cause serious hardship. It is unfortunate these very real concerns were not addressed.

I requested an impact analysis of this proposal to ensure payments would not be delayed under the new system, as I am not convinced reducing the job of the Springfield Post Office and sending mail out-of-state, only to be sent back to addresses in Illinois will be more efficient. Regrettably, the opposite is more likely to be true.

How can anyone argue with a straight face that sending our mail – two-thirds of which is bound for Northern Illinois – 100 miles south to St. Louis before it can be shipped back north again will not delay delivery to Illinois residents?

My office sends out about 11,000 checks a day, or 3 million a year, to locations around the state, and it’s imperative they arrive on-time. U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy should focus on improving service and efficiencies, rather than encumbering Illinois residents with further delays. He should reverse course. I will continue to work with the Illinois Congressional Delegation on this matter.

*** Statehouse News ***

* Chronicle | Greenwood’s early cash influx outpaces Schmidt in 114th state House race: While money doesn’t guarantee political success, the lack of it all but guarantees failure. In 2022, Schmidt raised $131,000, with $22,000 coming from a loan from himself. He also received $57,000 in in-kind help, $42,000 of it from Republican political committees. […] On March 18, the Greenwood campaign received $61,000 from the Illinois Laborers’ Legislative Committee as part of $74,400 from 10 PACs, most of it union money.  She also received $13,800 from Chicagoans Michael and Cari Sacks. Michael Sacks is chairman and CEO of Chicago-based GCM Grosvenor, a board member of the Barack Obama Foundation, and a member of two advisory boards to Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnston. 

* Scott Holland | Truck fee proposal gives local governments options from the start: These thoughts surfaced while reading Bob Okon’s Herald-News report about Senate Bill 2784. State Sen. Rachel Ventura, D-Joliet, filed the plan to let municipal and county governments impose fees – from 50 cents to $8 – on each loaded semitrailer leaving an intermodal facility. She said the bill could raise $38 million a year for road repairs in the Joliet area. […] Imagine if there had never been a statewide grocery tax. Would someone like Rock Island’s Mike Halpin, another first-term Democratic senator, propose allowing local governments to enact a 1% tax on grocery sales? Backers could say it would raise up to $252 million to fund things like police and fire protection. State lawmakers wouldn’t be creating the tax, only the conditions for local officials to take those steps. […] One other thing to appreciate about SB 2784 is how it checks the “scalable solutions” box. As introduced, the plan applied only to trucks leaving yards of at least 3,500 acres, specifically facilities in Joliet and Elwood. Under a proposed amendment, it would apply to smaller facilities around the state.

*** Statewide ***

* Sun-Times | Illinois ended cash bail more than 6 months ago. Data shows early signs of success: Cook County Judge Charles Beach has presided over hundreds of pretrial hearings since Illinois became the first state in the nation to eliminate cash bail last fall. Despite all the anguish over the Pretrial Safety Act, Beach says he has been struck by how proceedings have significantly changed for the better in his courtroom. […] “There’s a sense in the courtroom that taking money out of the equation has leveled the playing field,” Beach said.

* WJBC | Illinois saw massive increase in tourism in 2023: Illinois saw 39% more international tourists in 2023 compared to the previous year, according to an Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity news release. Roughly 2.16 million were welcomed into the Land of Lincoln, brining with them nearly $2.7 billion into the Illinois economy.

*** Chicago ***

* Sun-Times | 3 Chicago-area buildings are among state’s most at-risk historic locations: Portage Theater, located in Chicago’s Portage Park neighborhood, was one of those listed. The theater, completed in 1920, has been closed since 2018 and needs updates and repairs. […] “Restoring the historic Portage Theater would be the icing on the cake amid a real estate resurgence at Six Corners,” said Amie Zander, managing director for the Six Corners Association, an economic development organization focused on the neighborhood.

* Block Club | Billy Goat Tavern Bringing Its Cheezborgers To Wrigleyville: Billy Goat Tavern is set to open its ninth Chicago-area location later this month at 3726 N. Clark St. in the former Full Shilling Public House. Although restaurant ownership has not announced an official opening date, Ana Luna, an assistant manager at the Billy Goat Tavern at 60 E. Lake Street, said the Wrigleyville location will be “opening soon.”

* Sun-Times | Steve Albini, legendary rock underground pioneer, dies at 61: Steve Albini, the legendary studio sound engineer and artist who produced albums for Nirvana, the Pixies, Jesus Lizard, PJ Harvey and countless other icons of the indie rock underground has died. He was 61. […] For more than three decades, Albini made his musical magic happen at his Electrical Audio on Belmont Avenue, recording thousands of artists from across the city and across the globe.

*** Cook County and Suburbs ***

* Naperville Sun | Gun arrest No. 18 since August made at Naperville Topgolf parking lot: Joshua Passafiume, 25 of Coal City, was arrested Monday night outside the 3211 Odyssey Court business on a charge of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. His arraignment is scheduled for May 21, according to DuPage County Circuit Court records online. […] According to Naperville police Cmdr. Rick Krakow, officers were walking the lot on foot when they allegedly observed a firearm in plain view inside a Jeep. When Passafiume and another person returned to the Jeep, they asked them to exit and the observed firearm was recovered, he said.

*** Downstate ***

* WIFR | Stellantis reassures Belvidere the assembly plant will re-open: Morris adds there is no set deadline on when activity will pick up on Chrysler Drive, but he expects progress to start soon. […] In a statement from Stellantis, the manufacturing company says, “During the 2023 UAW contract negotiations, Stellantis remained true to our commitment to finding a sustainable solution for the Belvidere Assembly Plant. We are continuing to work toward finalizing the business case for Belvidere and will provide additional details at the appropriate time.”

* WGLT | Normal mayor floats loan interest rate buydown program to address housing shortage: Normal Mayor Chris Koos has moved slightly off of his generally free market stance on development projects that could reduce the community housing shortage for mid-tier workers. Koos, speaking on WGLT’s Sound Ideas, said he’s now thinking about low interest buydowns of loans to get housing projects started, if a project meets the needs of the town for workforce housing. Such buydowns can lower the effective interest rate for financing used to put up apartment buildings.

* STLPR | Mothers who need breast milk for their babies can turn to O’Fallon, Illinois dispensary: A newly opened dispensary at HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in O’Fallon, Illinois, is offering donated milk to families in the Metro East who need breast milk for their babies. The hospital opened the dispensary after a lactation nurse found many of her patients were having trouble breastfeeding but didn’t know where to find donor milk in the region, said Amanda Schaefer, the manager of the hospital’s women and infants center.

*** National ***

* Crain’s | As pro sports teams seek larger stadium subsidies, some cities are pushing back: Pritzker isn’t alone. With many professional sports teams seeking public funding for new or renovated stadiums, voters and politicians in cities such as Kansas City, Washington D.C., Phoenix and, yes, Chicago are pushing back. […] Last week, the influential NFL website Pro Football Talk ran a story headlined, “The ship might be sailing on taxpayer money for NFL stadiums,” noting that while voters have always opposed taxpayer-funded stadium subsidies, “It’s becoming more clear that the elected officials are becoming less inclined to burn political capital by giving public funds to privately-owned football teams.”

* NYT | Environmental Changes Are Fueling Human, Animal and Plant Diseases, Study Finds: “It’s a big step forward in the science,” said Colin Carlson, a biologist at Georgetown University, who was not an author of the new analysis. “This paper is one of the strongest pieces of evidence that I think has been published that shows how important it is health systems start getting ready to exist in a world with climate change, with biodiversity loss.”

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Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Another update to today’s edition (Updated)

Wednesday, May 8, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Inappropriate Prior Authorization Harms Patients: Support Reform For Private Insurers And MCOs

Wednesday, May 8, 2024 - Posted by Advertising Department

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

It’s a common practice among health insurance companies: denying coverage for a procedure or test a doctor recommends, and denying transfers and inpatient admissions. Denials through prior authorization can delay care that worsen patient health and lead to poor outcomes.

Gov. JB Pritzker, in his Budget Address, promised to introduce a bill to “curb predatory insurance practices—putting power back into the hands of patients and their doctors.” The Illinois hospital community backs that bill, HB 5395, which would end prior authorization for inpatient mental health care for children and adults for the first 72 hours.

We agree when the Governor said, “Doctors and their patients should be making decisions about patient care.… We should never, ever, ever, ever cede those decisions to the whims of insurance executives whose focus is always on the bottom line.”

The Illinois Health and Hospital Association—and our membership of 211 hospitals—strongly supports efforts to hold insurance companies accountable and keep medical decisions in the hands of patients and medical professionals.

Additional prior authorization reforms must extend to Medicaid managed care organizations (MCOs). Inappropriate denials negatively impact healthcare for Medicaid patients, while reducing MCOs’ costs and increasing shareholder profits. Support IHA’s MCO prior authorization reforms.

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Mayor’s nominee to the RTA board says he didn’t know about upcoming $735 million transit fiscal cliff (Updated x3)

Wednesday, May 8, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Background is here on politically connected Black church leaders being appointed to the CTA board who have little to no transit experience. And click here for some mass transit fiscal cliff background. Click here for live video…

This, in a nutshell, is why the transit governing system needs to be reorganized and professionalized.

…Adding… And he’s one step closer to the RTA board…

…Adding… Illinois Transportation Labor Association Chairman, J.J. Balonek…

This decision highlights why the Illinois Transportation Labor Association will continue to advocate so that the voice of labor is added to the governance of our transit boards. We cannot move transit forward without informed decision makers who have a deep understanding of how public transportation operates and how critical it is to Illinois.

…Adding… This is yet another reason why a transit fix is so important. Chicago expressways are constantly gridlocked

Chicagoans don’t take criticism well regarding their driving skills, but Forbes recently ranked the ‘Worst Cities To Drive In,’ and like a shot of Malört, it’s not the best.

Chicago ranked seventh nationwide because “drivers spend the highest amount of time in traffic among the cities we analyzed, and as a result, drivers spend the most on gas thanks to traffic congestion.”

Chicago also ranked third worst for overall driving experience. The Windy City ranked fifth in longest average commute time (34 minutes and 30 seconds), with Forbes suggesting that it takes Chicago drivers, on average, about 17 minutes to travel six miles.

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Support House Bill 4781

Wednesday, May 8, 2024 - Posted by Advertising Department

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

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Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Update to today’s edition

Wednesday, May 8, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Lil Wayne added to State Fair lineup

Wednesday, May 8, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* WAND

Lil Wayne is coming to the Illinois State Fair.

The five-time GRAMMY award-winning rapper will headline the Fair Grandstand on Wednesday, August 14.

Lil Wayne has 109 entries on the Billboard Hot 100, making him the first male artist to surpass Elvis Presley on the list. He has 11 BET Awards, four Billboard Music Awards, two MTV VMAs, and eight NCAAP Image Awards.

“Lil Wayne is a rap legend, and this concert is going to be one for the record books,” said Illinois State Fair Manager Rebecca Clark. “His show is sure to be a crowd favorite.”

* WICS

Tickets for this event, featuring Lil Wayne, will be on sale Friday, May 10th at 10 a.m.

Tier 3 - $60 / Tier 2 - $65 / Tier 1 - $70 / SRO Track - $75 / Blue Ribbon Zone - $125

Mark your calendars for the 2024 Illinois State Fair, running from August 8th through August 18th in Springfield.

  12 Comments      


It’s just a bill

Wednesday, May 8, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* WAND

A group of Illinois Democratic lawmakers want to establish strict licensing, taxing and testing regulations for hemp products such as Delta-8 and CBD.

The proposal would ensure hemp businesses can only sell products to customers 21 and older. It could also prohibit the sale of hemp products that look like candy, chips and other common snacks.

Sponsors and advocates argue that hemp is a popular and diverse multi-billion dollar marketplace that Illinois should not ban. […]

This legislation has not been assigned to a House or Senate committee. However, sponsors hope they can move it in the final weeks of the spring session.

* AFSCME Council 31…

Urging legislators not to retreat from progress made toward sustainable wages for direct-support professionals (DSPs) who care for individuals with developmental disabilities, union-represented DSPs will converge on the Capitol TODAY (Wednesday) for a statewide lobby day and news conference.

Some 100 DSPs employed by approximately 30 agencies will participate, coming from Chicago and its suburbs, Dixon, Galesburg, Metro East, Quad Cities, the greater Rockford and Springfield areas and elsewhere.

After years of neglect, Illinois has made important investments in disability services over the past eight years. But the starting wage at many agencies is barely above the minimum, and no increase for DSP wages was included in the governor’s proposed FY25 budget.

DSPs urge a two-part solution:

    1: Fund a $3/hour wage increase to bring DSP base wage rates to 150% of minimum wage, and
    2: Include strong, clear language in the Budget Implementation bill and DHS guidance to ensure that dollars earmarked for wages are passed to all workers as an across-the board wage increase.

WHAT: News conference on need for DSP wage increase
WHO: Sen. Ram Villivalam, Rep. Maurice West, DSPs represented by AFSCME and SEIU
WHEN: TODAY (Wednesday, May 8) at 11:45 a.m.
WHERE: State Capitol blue room

Without continued investment and strong accountability provisions to ensure funds are passed on to frontline worker wages, DSP positions will go unfilled, dedicated and experienced caregivers will be forced out of the industry, and waiting lists for services will continue to grow.

DSPs are represented by AFSCME Council 31, SEIU Local 73 and SEIU Health Care Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Kansas.

* WGIL

House Bill 5396 aims to ensure the Illinois Prisoner Review Board is complying with a law that was passed by the 102nd General Assembly creating a hearing procedure for the incarcerated to petition for medical release.

State Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, is a sponsor of the bill that passed the Illinois House earlier this spring.

“This law passed this chamber in a bipartisan fashion in 2021. That act created a hearing procedure for incarcerated people, who are terminally ill or medically disabled, to petition for early release. This law has been in effect for a couple of years and there’s been a few implementation challenges,” said Guzzardi. “The PRB has implemented some of the language in a way that was different from our original intent. This bill is just clarifying that original bill to make sure the PRB complies with the spirit of the original law.” […]

The measure is now in the Senate and awaits further action.

* Capitol News Illinois

Advocates for community-based after-school programs say as many as 40,000 youths statewide could lose access to tutoring services, recreation and other extracurricular activities this summer unless Illinois lawmakers approve an infusion of funds to keep them going. […]

The problem facing many programs whose grant cycles are expiring is that in 2023, ISBE miscalculated how much money was available and made commitments to award more grants than the state could fund. As a result, many programs whose grant cycles are expiring cannot get them renewed because there is not enough funding available. Advocates are seeking $50 million in state funding to make up for the anticipated shortfall.

Stanton said programs serving about 6,000 students were forced to close at the end of the previous fiscal year, and without an injection of state funds, another 40,000 students will lose access to services after June 30 this year.

State Sen. Ram Villivalam, D-Chicago, has proposed legislation that would commit $50 million a year in state funds for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

* WGEM

After passing a law requiring the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to adopt Comprehensive Literacy Plan in 2023, state lawmakers are now looking to expand its requirements to ensure partners supporting teachers and students also follow the plan.

The state Senate Education Committee passed a bill Tuesday requiring any vendor or learning partner approved to work with a school in English/language arts to follow the literacy plan.

Adopted by ISBE in January, the plan uses evidence-based literacy instruction materials to teach students foundational reading skills. It also supports teachers by making sure they’re prepared to teach those foundational literacy skills. […]

The bill now heads to the Senate floor. The state House of Representatives passed the legislation on April 16.

* Sen. Rachel Ventura…

To protect renters from additional rental payment transaction fees, State Senator Rachel Ventura advanced legislation that would require landlords to be more flexible with payment options.

“As rent costs have skyrocketed across the country, residents are struggling to make ends meet and these transaction fees imposed on them by their landlord can add up quickly,” said Ventura (D-Joliet). “Some leases require 2-3% of rent to cover processing fees which adds a lot to an already high rent. By requiring landlords to also accept cash or check we help save Illinoisans from this unnecessary cost.”

House Bill 4206 would require landlords to allow tenants to make rental payments by delivering a paper check or cash to the landlord or their business office if the landlord uses a third-party payment portal to collect rent and has a transactional fee or other charge imposed through the portal on the rental payments.

Transactional fees on rent payments can vary depending on the total rent payment and the service a landlord uses. For example, if a tenant is paying $1,000 a month on rent and is required by the landlord to use a credit or debit card, the processing fee could be around 2-3%, making it an additional $20-30 per month. […]

House Bill 4206 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday and heads to the full Senate for further consideration.

* WAND

Students in Illinois public schools could be required to learn about climate change starting with the 2026 school year.

A plan moving in Springfield calls for instruction on identifying environmental and ecological impacts of climate change on people and communities. The proposal would also require education on solutions to address and mitigate the impacts of climate change. […]

The Illinois State Board of Education could prepare multi-disciplinary instructional resources and professional learning opportunities for educators that may be used to meet the requirements. However, that provision of the bill is subject to state appropriations.

The legislation passed out of the Senate Education Committee on a 9-4 vote. House Bill 4895 now moves to the Senate floor for further consideration.

* Sen. Julie Morrison…

State Senator Julie Morrison is leading a measure to bring more diversity in participants of clinical trials.

“Better representation in clinical trials will improve progress and innovation in cancer care and mitigate some inequities that currently exist in health care,” said Morrison (D-Lake Forest).

House Bill 5405 would require the Illinois Department of Public Health to work with the University of Illinois and other relevant organizations to conduct a study examining what demographics are currently underrepresented in clinical trials, identify barriers to participation and pinpoint ways to improve upon outreach to these communities. IDPH would report the findings of this study to the General Assembly by July 1, 2026.

“Prioritizing accessibility and equity in cancer research is vital as cancer disproportionately impacts marginalized communities,” said Morrison. “This bill will ensure participation from historically underrepresented communities.”

House Bill 5405 passed the Senate Public Health Committee Tuesday and moves to the full Senate for further consideration.

  9 Comments      


Welcome to Springfield

Wednesday, May 8, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Media advisory…

The Public Schedule for Mayor Brandon Johnson – May 8, 2024

Mayor Brandon Johnson will travel to Springfield, Illinois.

* Tahman Bradley at WGN

“There are a host of things that I will be requesting on behalf of the people of Chicago,” Johnson said about his impending trip to Springfield.

The mayor will try to help the Bears, who are seeking public funding for a new lakefront stadium, but that’s not his focus. Team President Kevin Warren is leading the charge.

“I know that President Warren has been in conversations with the General Assembly along with Governor Pritzker,” Johnson said.

Johnson is also keeping a close eye on school funding.

“It’s been very clear that I’ve been pushing for that,” he said. “The families of Chicago are owed $1 billion from the state of Illinois in order to build a better, stronger, safer city but particularly investing in our public school system. Now that’s something we can all get behind.”

I’m not sure how he’s made it clear that he’s pushing for state school funding. He and his people haven’t been doing much of anything in Springfield on this topic.

Also, they’re owed a billion dollars? I’d like to see the receipts.

* Tribune

With the expiration of federal COVID-19 emergency relief funds in September, CPS faces a budget shortfall of at least $391 million next school year. Johnson has said his Springfield wish list, in part, includes $1 billion in state funds that are “owed” to the “families of Chicago,” including greater state aid under the evidence-based funding formula and additional teacher pension funds.

But Johnson’s wish list is likely to be viewed as wishful thinking in budget-conscious Springfield. and his visit comes as the school closings moratorium debate has, at times, pitted progressives against each other as CTU pursues its far-left agenda.

Not to mention that the mayor was silent after the CTU, his most important ally, called that school closure bill “racist.”

* Politico

The take-away: Johnson may not get far with state lawmakers, but he’ll be able to tell residents he tried — putting the onus back on the General Assembly.

I mean, he can try to point fingers. I doubt it’ll succeed. The city is his. The “onus” is on him.

  40 Comments      


AG Raoul asks court to force Timpone/Proft papers to remove personal voter information from its websites

Wednesday, May 8, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* About a month ago in the Tribune

The State Board of Elections has asked Attorney General Kwame Raoul to consider legal action against the publisher of far-right faux newspapers and websites for publishing personal information about Illinois voters.

Matt Dietrich, a spokesman for the elections board, said the board has received dozens of complaints from voters asking how personal information got into the hands of the publisher, Local Government Information Services. The publication of that information on LGIS websites is a possible violation of a statutory prohibition on the use of voter identification other than for “bona fide political purposes,” the elections board said.

Dietrich said political committees registered with the state elections board are allowed to purchase voter data, containing names, addresses and birthdates, with an explicit prohibition on the use of the data for other business purposes. The board stopped collecting voter birthdates in 2018 for additional privacy protection.

LGIS, a purveyor of what has become known as “pink slime” journalism, operates dozens of websites in Illinois and throughout the country that try to disguise its far-right Republican campaign advocacy through mailers and websites with names that could be construed as those of legitimate newspapers such as “Chicago City Wire,” the “DuPage Policy Journal” and the “Will County Gazette.”

LGIS is operated by Brian Timpone, an ally and business partner of onetime failed gubernatorial candidate, political operative and right-wing radio talk show host Dan Proft of Naples, Florida.

* AG Raoul filed for a TRO and a preliminary injunction this week in Lake County

Beginning in the weeks before the March 19, 2024 General Primary Election, Defendant has published thousands of articles containing Illinois voters’ birthdates, full street addresses and voting records. Defendant’s use of old voter registration information violates Illinois Election Code provisions that permitted disclosure of that information to political committees in the first instance. Defendant is not a political committee and could not lawfully obtain voters’ birthdates and street numbers otherwise. While Defendant may believe that it is providing some value to the community by sharing with the public the rate at which various precincts’ voters do vote, Defendant has no lawful claim to the information that it has obtained. And publishing voters’ birthdates and full street addresses has put voters at imminent risk of identity theft and has placed several categories of voters, such as members of the judiciary and law enforcement, in harm’s way.

The potential harm caused to Illinois voters by Defendant’s publications, including identity theft or worse, to their physical safety, will be irreparable. Defendant has ignored the State Board’s request that it pull the articles from its websites. So now, through this motion, Plaintiffs seek both temporary and preliminary injunctive relief to maintain the status quo, in the form of an order requiring Defendant to remove voters’ birthdates and street numbers from its online publications, and enjoining Defendant from publishing such information until such time as the Court can resolve this dispute.

* From the argument

It is undeniable that an emergency exists. Defendant’s actions have put tens of thousands of Illinois voters at risk of identity theft. Further, some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens, as well as some of its most loyal servants, are now exposed to danger due to the publication of their home addresses—surely to no meaningful benefit to Defendant or the public. Defendant’s use of birthdates and street numbers, obtained most likely from a closely related political committee, is unlawful and Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on their claim for such a declaratory judgment. To the extent Plaintiffs are even required to show irreparable harm, the likely harm to Illinois voters will be irreparable, and the fears of identity theft or physical harm are supported by the massive scale of Defendant’s improper publication of voter information. Likewise, the voters whose information is included in Defendant’s publication do not have an adequate remedy at law, thus requiring the Court to enjoin Defendant from publishing improperly obtained voter information.

* The violation

Plaintiffs can certainly show that Defendant’s publication of sensitive voter data provided to political committees from 2016 and 2020 violates the Election Code. As explained in the Complaint, Defendant has obtained 2016 and 2020 voter registration data that would have been available only to political committees and merged that data to create lists of purported registered voters, publishing those lists in thousands of online articles. Defendant admits that it obtained the birthdates in its publications from files received in 2016, which likely came from a closely related political committee, and then combined that data with 2020 data.

But regardless of how Defendant obtained the 2016 and 2020 registration information, it is not a political committee. As such, Defendant has no right to use voter registration information provided to political committees pursuant to Sections 4-8, 5-7, and 6-35 of the Election Code. … Further, Defendant has no bona fide political purpose for sharing the confidential voter registration information that it has obtained because it is a for-profit news organization.

Moreover, while voter registration information is available to the public by the State Board as required under the NVRA, such information does not include sensitive voter information, including street numbers of home addresses and birthdates. Rather, the 2016 voter registration information that Defendant has obtained and merged with 2020 data, includes voters’ birthdates, which would have only been made available to a political committee that could not lawfully, under the Election Code, provide such information to Defendant. Compl. Defendant’s possession and publication of sensitive voter information from 2016 and 2020 is improper under the Election Code and Plaintiffs are entitled to injunctive relief preventing such violations of the Election Code.

* Conclusion

WHEREFORE, for the reasons stated above, along with those stated in the Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction, Plaintiffs, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul on behalf of the People of the State of Illinois and the Illinois State Board of Elections, respectfully request that this Court enter a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction enjoining Defendant and its officers, agents, employees, and any other persons or entities within its control or working in concert with it, from publishing on its websites or in print information improperly obtained from 2016 and 2020 voter lists, including voters’ dates of birth and street addresses, and ordering Defendant to remove voters’ birthdates and street numbers from its articles about voter turnout in the 2020 general election during the pendency of this case.

Verified complaint is here. Emergency motion is here.

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Uber Partners With Cities To Expand Urban Transportation

Wednesday, May 8, 2024 - Posted by Advertising Department

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Uber is leading the charge to close critical transportation gaps, ensuring reliable access to its services in places that need it most, such as underserved areas like Englewood. This is a part of Uber’s broader commitment to augment and expand the reach of Chicago’s transportation ecosystem, focusing on overcoming the first-mile/ last-mile hurdles that have long plagued residents in farther afield neighborhoods. Uber aims to extend the public transit network’s reach, making urban transportation more accessible and efficient for everyone. Discover the full story on how Uber is transforming city transportation for the better.

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Pritzker expresses some concern about data center power usage, says state is ‘monitoring’

Wednesday, May 8, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* A story last month from Bloomberg

Artificial intelligence is poised to help drive a 900% jump in power demand from data centers in the Chicago area, according to Exelon Chief Executive Officer Calvin Butler.

About 25 data center projects that would consume around 5 gigawatts of power total — roughly equivalent to the output of five nuclear plants — are undergoing engineering studies in Exelon unit Commonwealth Edison’s territory, Butler said. That compares with about 400 megawatts of data center demand currently on its system. Butler expects up to 80% of the planned developments to be completed.

“We are seeing quite a bit of activity,” Butler said during an interview on the sidelines of the S&P Global Power Markets Conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday. Data center developers are attracted to ComEd’s low electricity rates, carbon-free generation from nuclear reactors and state tax incentives, he added. An Exelon spokesperson said the company will continue to ensure that its system can handle the additional power load growth.

The demand surge wouldn’t be met immediately by more power generation. New data centers would initially be served by excess capacity already on the regional grid, imported electricity from other areas and then eventually by newly constructed sources, said Paul Patterson, a utility analyst for Glenrock Associates.

Data centers qualify for a range of state tax exemptions and credits in Illinois and in other states. The incentives have helped create a ton of construction jobs and Illinois is now one of the top locations for data centers in the country.

* Gov. JB Pritzker held a press conference yesterday to showcase the state’s burgeoning electric vehicle industry, so Isabel asked him about this topic

Isabel: Governor, are you at all concerned that the growth of state subsidized data centers will eventually put strain on the power supply?

Governor Pritzker: It’s a great question because we do have to balance what kinds of companies we’re letting live off of the grid that we’ve got here in the state. Remember, we’re a net energy exporter in the state. So we produce a lot of electricity. We don’t want to have it all sucked up by just one industry. [We] want to make sure that we’re spreading it about, we want to make sure we have lots of jobs that get created, particularly in manufacturing.

We’re monitoring, we’ve still got the incentives in place for data centers. But we’ve got to make sure that data centers are using power efficiently and that they’re using clean energy on their own sites to reduce the amount of energy they’re pulling from the grid.

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Get The Facts On The Illinois Prescription Drug Board

Wednesday, May 8, 2024 - Posted by Advertising Department

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

The price-setting board proposed in HB4472 is not the solution for Illinois. It would give bureaucrats the power to arbitrarily set medicine prices, deciding what medicines and treatments are “worth” paying for. We can’t leave Illinoisans’ health care up to political whims. Let’s make it easier, not harder for patients to access their medicines. Click here to learn more.

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Open thread

Wednesday, May 8, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* What’s going on?…

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Isabel’s morning briefing

Wednesday, May 8, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* ICYMI: Nearly 8 months into Illinois’ new era without cash bail, experts say recidivism and jail populations are trending lower. KDSK

    -”Our jail population is actually down lower than what we’ve ever been in the past,” Sgt. James Hendricks of St. Clair County Jail said.
    - The total number of inmates in custody at the jail is 384, down from a peak of 550, and a 19% reduction from where county jail population levels were on the day Illinois abolished cash bail.
    -Under the new system, Eric Rinehart, the top prosecutor in Lake County, said judges now place their focus on “safety, safety, safety, and not access to cash.”

*** Isabel’s Top Picks ***

* Tribune | CTU’s credibility questioned in Springfield as their biggest ally, Mayor Brandon Johnson, heads to state Capitol: The Chicago Teachers Union’s role in the debate over legislation that would extend for two years a moratorium on closing public schools in the city — including selective enrollment and magnet schools — has raised questions about the powerful union’s credibility in Springfield for some lawmakers. The CTU’s biggest ally, Mayor Brandon Johnson, is headed to the state Capitol on Wednesday to plead for more school funding from the state amid negotiations over a new teachers union contract and on the same day a Senate committee hearing is scheduled on the moratorium extension, which was approved by the House last month.

* Capitol News Illinois | Lawsuit alleges sexual abuse was rampant in state-run juvenile detention centers: Rampant sexual abuse occurred unchecked for decades at Illinois’ juvenile detention centers, a new lawsuit filed on behalf of 95 former detainees alleges, citing hundreds of incidents over more than two decades. The plaintiffs were boys between 12 and 17 years old when the alleged abuse occurred and are now adults. The alleged perpetrators were both men and women working in the facilities.

* AP | Survivors of alleged abuse in Illinois youth detention facilities step forward: Calvin McDowell, 37, who alleged he was abused by a chaplain at a suburban Chicago youth center as a teenager, said he didn’t want others suffering as he did for decades. “Instead of being cared for, I felt more alone than ever,” McDowell said at a Chicago news conference. “I held my secret from the people I loved out of fear and embarrassment. I had nights where I wanted to give up on life.”

*** Statehouse News ***

* Tribune | Illinois hemp businesses owners call for regulation and taxation, not prohibition: Hemp entrepreneurs came out Tuesday in favor of a state legislative proposal to license hemp sales, require testing and labeling of their products, prohibit products that look like well-known snack brands, and limit sales to those 21 and over. The bill would create 10% wholesale and a 10% retail sales taxes, and an unlimited number of $500 licenses. That proposal stands in contrast with a bill backed by the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois, which would prohibit sales of hemp-derived intoxicating products.

* Capitol News Illinois | Thousands of youths at risk of losing access to after-school programs: Advocates for community-based after-school programs say as many as 40,000 youths statewide could lose access to tutoring services, recreation and other extracurricular activities this summer unless Illinois lawmakers approve an infusion of funds to keep them going. “The time is now for legislators to act to save after-school (programs),” Susan Stanton, executive director of Afterschool for Children and Teens, or ACT Now, said at a Statehouse rally Tuesday. “We literally only have weeks left before programs have to shut their doors. Staff will be laid off and families will be in crisis.”

* Daily Herald | A push to raise pay for those who work with developmentally disabled: James Sitati, who has worked at Little City for 20 years, describes DSPs like himself as jacks-of-all-trades. His duties include waking up residents, getting them breakfast and medication, and taking them to daily enrichment activities. […] Sitati said the $2.50 raise this year has helped, but a raise next year also would mean less overtime and more time with his family. It would also help attract more people to the profession and ensure a higher quality of work, he added.

* WAND | Gov. Pritzker marks grand opening of Ferrero chocolate factory in Bloomington: Governor Pritzker joined the Ferrero North America team three years ago to break ground on the new facility. Construction was completed this year. The $75 million investment from Ferrero builds on the company’s impact in Illinois. In 2018, Ferrero took over management of a manufacturing plant in Franklin Park, Illinois, where they focus on Butterfinger and Baby Ruth products. The company also manufactures Keebler products at a plant located on 110th street in Chicago.

*** Chicago ***

* Tribune | Bally’s Chicago sees first monthly revenue decline in April: Bally’s Chicago revenue was down 7% to about $10.4 million in adjusted gross receipts in April, the first month-over-month revenue decline since the temporary casino opened at Medinah Temple in September. Admissions were also down, declining more than 4% to 112,751 visitors for the month, according to data released Tuesday by the Illinois Gaming Board.

* Crain’s | Legalizing video gambling in Chicago could come with a major hitch: The city’s agreement with Bally’s, called the host community agreement, or HCA, lays out parameters for the separate $2 million annual payments to the city. At the time the casino was approved, city officials said those payments were needed to support community groups and to cover an increased police presence around Bally’s temporary casino at Medinah Temple as well as its future permanent location in River West. But those payments would be “subject to good-faith renegotiation” if a second casino was permitted in the city, if gambling taxes were increased or if new forms of gambling were permitted in the city.

* Tribune | Proposal aimed at quieting anti-abortion protests outside Chicago clinic moves forward in City Council: Protesters have targeted the West Loop’s Family Planning Associates clinic at West Washington Boulevard and North Desplaines Street for years, said Ald. Bill Conway, 34th. They rush toward arriving patients and amplify sound so loud that it disrupts work being done inside, he said. The ordinance Conway sponsored that passed through the City Council’s Public Safety committee Tuesday seeks to block the use of loud noise-making devices directly outside the clinic.

* Sun-Times | Friends of the Parks ‘prepared to fight for the lakefront’ in battle for new Bears domed stadium: Gin Kilgore, acting executive director of the group, tried hard to thread a needle Tuesday, in her first extended interview since the Bears unveiled their $5.9 billion plan to build and finance that stadium and retire existing debt used to renovate Soldier Field and Guaranteed Rate Field, current home of the White Sox.[…] “We are prepared to fight for the lakefront. We are prepared to stand on behalf of the doctrines, the principles that say our lakefront should be forever open, clear and free for public use. … [But] this is not a fully-fleshed-out proposal,” she added.

* Crain’s | Claiming fraud, lender sues migrant shelter landlord: A venture led by Chicago real estate investor A.G. Hollis and developer Scott Goodman defaulted on an $11.5 million loan tied to the 50,000-square-foot building at 344 N. Ogden Ave., according to a lawsuit filed May 3 in Cook County Circuit Court by an affiliate of Greenwich, Ct.-based lender Knighthead Funding. Knight alleged in the complaint that the Hollis-Goodman entity failed to make its loan payments since October and that it engaged in a “fraudulent scheme” to sign a lease for the property to be used as a shelter for asylum seekers.

* Fox Chicago | Outdoor dining season kicks off amidst political debate over Clark Street closure: Some local restaurants along the 400 block of North Clark Street have petitioned the city to shut down the street, a measure implemented since the onset of COVID-19, to create an outdoor dining plaza. This proposal, which has been successful in previous years, has sparked division within the community. While advocates argue for the benefits of pedestrian-friendly dining spaces, opponents, including numerous businesses and neighborhood groups, insist on keeping the street open to vehicular traffic, citing concerns about traffic congestion and its impact on nearby establishments.

*** Cook County and Suburbs ***

* Pioneer Press | If a Bears stadium isn’t built in Arlington Heights, village leaders already listed what can’t be constructed on the site: It was almost three years ago when the Arlington Heights Village Board set restrictions on the usage of the now-former racecourse property. Those use stipulations came even before the Bears bought the land. […] The new zoning insists on sustainable development features such as permeable pavers, green rooftops, energy efficient building design, solar energy and bicycle access. It also permits the continued use of the property as a horse racing track. However, the grandstand, stables and all of the other elements of the racetrack have been demolished.

* Daily Herald | Last billboards in Arlington Heights — other than one owned by Bears — to come down: With approvals due to expire next month for the Bears’ revenue-generating billboard at Arlington Park, Arlington Heights village board members this week told a small-business owner to tear his old billboards down. The village is one of the few towns in the area that prohibits such signage, but has made exceptions, such as the 20-by-60-foot double-sided digital sign installed on the west side of the racetrack site in 2017.

* Daily Herald | Metra ‘wants to be part of the conversation’ on merging with CTA and Pace, but stays neutral: “We share the view that this is an opportunity to improve public transportation for this and future generations,” Metra officials said. “Metra stands ready to continue its work on behalf of regional riders and taxpayers. We want to be transparent; we want to listen to all stakeholders to address our funding issues; and we want to be part of the conversation to create the best possible public transportation system for the region.”

*** Downstate ***

* WCBU | Peoria Township residents cast their opinion on a different style of voting this November: Residents of Peoria Township face an unusual question down-ballot this November: would they support the adoption of ranked choice voting in Illinois? The question is non-binding, but it does check the temperature of the public’s sentiment toward the policy. Voters might remember a similar question on independent legislative redistricting, called “fair maps” by supporters, that township voters approved by a 3-to-1 margin in 2022.

* WCIA | Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever confirmed in Champaign County: The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District announced that a case of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever was recently confirmed in Champaign County. The illness is a tickborne disease that the CDC calls “one of the deadliest” in the Americas. It takes one to four days to show symptoms of RMSF, which include a high fever, a severe headache, muscle soreness, gastrointestinal distress, and swelling both around the eyes and the back of the hands.

*** Sports ***

* Tribune | ‘We’re just getting bit’: Chicago White Sox back to 20 games under .500 with loss to Tampa Bay Rays: The Sox went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and left eight on base while falling to 8-28 — their worst 36-game start in franchise history. For the second time this year, they are a season-high 20 games under .500. “It’s not too much different than what I’ve been telling you guys the whole year about me — there’s a lot of good, there’s some bad and we’re just getting bit,” Soroka said. “We’re putting together better at-bats of late, we’re putting together better innings. It’s just a matter of keep going.”

* WaPo | Gregg Doyel, a longtime voice at the newspaper, will not be allowed to cover the Indiana Fever: The paper did not offer any details, saying it does not comment on personnel matters. According to a person with knowledge of the situation, Doyel will not attend Fever games in person this season but may still write about the team. Earlier Tuesday, Bob Kravitz, a former Star columnist, reported on Doyel’s ban on his Substack newsletter and said Doyel is in the midst of a two-week suspension. The person familiar with the situation confirmed the suspension to The Post and added that it is unpaid.

*** National ***

* WaPo | Boy Scouts rebrands as Scouting America, dropping gendered name: After 114 years of being known as the Boy Scouts of America, the nation’s largest scouting organization is changing its name to the more inclusive Scouting America. The major rebrand, announced Tuesday, comes after years of turmoil for the organization, as well as major changes meant to stem the tide of declining membership. The new Scouting America name is also a reflection of the organization’s biggest change: the decision five years ago to welcome girls into its ranks at all levels.

* NYT | France Says It Built the Olympics Safely. Migrant Workers Don’t Count.: But inspection records and other documents show that Olympics sites have been more dangerous than organizers have let on, with some projects failing to meet basic safety standards. When undocumented immigrants are hurt on the job, workers and officials say, the injuries are often handled off the books, all but guaranteeing that they will not show up in government statistics. […] When two workers died on a subway project that Mr. Macron’s former transportation minister called “the lifeline of the Olympics,” their deaths were not included in the Olympic total.

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Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition

Wednesday, May 8, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

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

Wednesday, May 8, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Live coverage

Wednesday, May 8, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* You can click here or here to follow breaking news. It’s the best we can do unless or until Twitter gets its act together.

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« NEWER POSTS PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Republicans denied TRO in bid to be appointed to ballot
* Isabel’s afternoon roundup
* It’s almost a law
* Credit Unions: A Smart Financial Choice for Illinois Consumers
* Was the CTU lobby day over-hyped?
* 'Re-renters' tax in the budget mix?
* It’s just a bill
* Open thread
* Isabel’s morning briefing
* Get The Facts On The Illinois Prescription Drug Board
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
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