Daily Political Highlights
Tuesday 14, 2023
Tuesday 14, 2023
Daily news update
* Chalkbeat | Illinois students are required to learn Black history. But what’s being taught varies.: In Illinois, a 1990 state law requires schools to teach a unit of African American history. But more than 30 years after the Illinois law passed, gaps in the teaching of Black history remain. The law lacks an enforcement mechanism, and does not include a way to track when Black history is taught during the school year and what students are learning about it; there are no required textbooks or curriculum.
* Tribune | Whether the Chicago Bears leave or not, taxpayers are on the hook for growing Soldier Field debt payments: Due to refinancing and years of primarily paying interest instead of principal, the debt owed for Soldier Field has ballooned from the original $399 million to $631 million, according to the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, or ISFA, which manages the debt payments. The increase in the debt alarms experts who work in stadium financing.
* Farm Week | Get to know Senate President Don Harmon: My No. 1 priority is the financial stability of our state. Unfortunately, we all lived through the nightmare of the state being unable to pay its bills and the economic shockwaves that sent through our local communities.
* Tribune | ComEd board appointment allegedly pushed by Madigan to offer glimpse into Illinois’ strange political bedfellows: Buttressed by wiretapped phone calls and emails, Ochoa’s testimony is expected to give jurors a blow-by-blow of how he overcame his ruptured relationship with Madigan to ascend to the cushy, $78,000-a-year position on ComEd’s board despite significant pushback from utility executives who had questions about his resume.
* Crain’s | Things to watch as ‘ComEd Four’ trial finally begins: The trial gets under way, too, just days after a federal jury in Ohio convicted that state’s similarly powerful former House speaker, Republican Larry Householder, in a scheme eerily like what ComEd admitted to running for nearly a decade in a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago.
* Tribune | A Madigan confidant. A popular executive. An insider lobbyist. A political consultant. Who are the ‘ComEd Four’?: McClain and Madigan rose together among Democratic ranks in the Illinois House. Madigan, the protege of the all-powerful Richard J. Daley, would get the mayor’s calls and deliver orders to Chicago lawmakers in the Illinois House, rising first to House Democratic Majority Leader.
* Center Square | Suspended no-cash bail law set for Tuesday hearing at Illinois Supreme Court: The Illinois Supreme Court hears the case Tuesday. It’s unclear if two justices on the panel of seven will recuse themselves from oral arguments after being the recipients of $1 million campaign donations from Pritzker before last year’s election. While the judicial code of conduct doesn’t require such action, independent observers say any appearance of conflict should lead to recusals to secure the integrity of the judiciary and its decisions.
* AP | Illinois enacts mandatory paid leave ‘for any reason’: Just Maine and Nevada mandate earned paid time time off and allot employees the freedom to decide how to use it, but Illinois’ law is further reaching, unencumbered by limits based on business size. Similarly structured regulations that require employers to offer paid sick leave exist in 14 states and Washington, D.C., but workers can only use that for health-related reasons.
* Daily Herald | ‘More of my friends might be alive’: Is a safe haven for drug users the answer to overdose surge?: The rise in drug overdoses in Illinois and the dramatic increase in fentanyl seizures by law enforcement have lawmakers reaching for solutions. One of the latest, backed by advocates for those battling substance abuse disorders and by some suburban legislators, is the proposed opening of a safe haven in Chicago for illicit-drug users.
* Daily Herald | Mundelein candidate who slighted different races’ intelligence resumes his campaign: “After careful consideration, (I) decided to resume my campaign effective today,” Ramesh Sharma wrote Monday in an email to the Daily Herald. “The people of Mundelein will decide the outcome.”
* Bloomberg | CME Group CEO Duffy says wife’s carjacking highlights ‘insane’ Chicago crime: “Three o’clock in the afternoon, my wife got carjacked right in the city of Chicago and it’s absolutely insane what’s going on here,” Duffy told the ICE House Podcast in an interview. “Ninety percent of the carjackings in Chicago are done by juveniles. So the juveniles go in and they come right back out literally an hour later.”
* Tribune | Chicago Fire to lease Chicago Housing Authority land on Near West Side: After plans for a facility in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood fell through, the team will build a 53,000 square-foot, two-story performance center with multiple soccer pitches in Roosevelt Square on the site of CHA’s former ABLA Homes housing complex.
* Sun-Times | With Lightfoot a lame duck, City Council looks to declare independence: Finance Committee Chairman Scott Waguespack (32nd), Contracting Oversight and Equity Chairman Jason Ervin (28th) and Rules Committee Chairwoman Michelle Harris (8th) are working behind the scenes to reorganize and empower the Council before a new mayor and Council are seated.
* Crain’s | New super PAC backing Vallas could allow dark money into mayoral runoff: Greg Goldner, founder and manager of Resolute Public Affairs, has formed the Priorities Chicago political action committee, created as an independent expenditure committee that can raise unlimited funds in support or opposition of a candidate, but is barred from coordinating the spending with a candidate’s campaign.
* Crain’s | What Chicago can learn from San Diego’s budget process: The vast majority of city employees in San Diego — and in Chicago, I suspect — want to do the right thing for the city. The challenge is to convince them that you’re trying to accomplish the same thing, and once we were able to do that, it hasn’t been difficult to get the information that we need.
* Sun-Times | Lightfoot orders audit to narrow gender, racial pay gap among city workers: Executive order mandates a pay equity audit every two years to identify gender, racial differences in city employee compensation and steps to remedy disparities.
* Crain’s | Taste Of Chicago Pushed Back To September As City Makes Way For NASCAR Race In Grant Park: “Moving this iconic event to the tail end of summer will prolong our vibrant festival season and spur additional tourism and economic activity downtown,” according to the events department.
* Sun-Times | As SNAP recipients see reduction in funds, Chicago residents make adjustments: ‘I make do’: Starting this month, recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will see a decrease in their benefits after a coronavirus pandemic-era funding boost ended.
* AP | Biden expected to sign new executive order on gun control: President Joe Biden is expected to sign an executive order on Tuesday aiming to increase the number of background checks to buy guns, promote better and more secure firearms storage and ensure U.S. law enforcement agencies are getting the most out of a bipartisan gun control law enacted last summer.
* Sun-Times | Groups sue to halt expansion of lakeside dump on Southeast Side: The area should be converted to parkland, say organizers who want dredged toxic sediment from the Calumet River sent elsewhere.
* Tribune | ‘We came here to turn this around.’ How Shauna Green led the Illini women back to the NCAA Tournament for the 1st time in 20 years.: A star at Canisius, Green set a program record with 2,012 career points and was a four-time All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference selection. She always lived in the present and never thought about coaching — that is, until she could see the end of her playing days on the horizon.
* Bloomberg | Does Daylight Saving Time save energy?: The latest iteration of the Sunshine Protection Act doesn’t present DST as such. A one-pager of the bill briefly mentions reduced energy usage, and cites the 2008 Department of Energy study, but it also notes that research has “shown that the energy savings are minimal.” Instead, Rubio focuses on a more basic objection to springing forward and falling back: “This ritual of changing time twice a year is stupid.”
* NYT | A Giant Blob of Seaweed is Heading to Florida: The mass, known as the great Atlantic Sargassum belt, is drifting toward the Gulf of Mexico. Scientists say seaweed is likely to come ashore by summer to create a rotting, stinking, scourge.