Thursday, November 26, 2020

Connecting the dots between our economy, government and people —

Top Illinois Stories

Illinois borrows more from Fed as lending program nears expiry – Reuters

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ComEd Dumps Cache Of Emails Relating To Illinois House’s Madigan Probe – WBEZ

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Secret emails show GOP leader, others sought ComEd favors – Crain’s

A just-released trove of documents show it was more than Madigan associates hitting up the utility. Cullerton and Durkin were in on the game, too.

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Gov. Pritzker Says Illinois Will Borrow $2 Billion From Feds To Deal With COVID-19-Related Revenue Losses – CBS Chicago

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Illinois: Fraudulent jobless claims soar during pandemic

Fraudulent unemployment claims have soared in Illinois with scammers directing jobless benefits to their own accounts even as record numbers of residents sought relief due to the coronavirus pandemic, state officials said.fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits have been filed since March 1.

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States With The Most And Least Debt In 2020 – Forbes

Chicago skyline aerial drone view from above, lake Michigan and city of Chicago downtown skyscrapers cityscape, Illinois, USA Illinois No. 1.

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Durbin seeks top Democratic spot on Senate Judiciary Committee – Chicago Tribune*

Comment: This is frightening in light of Durbin's complete indifference to censorship by big tech, which this committee is charged with overseeing. See our new article on that here.

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More Highlighted Illinois Stories

Pritzker responds to Illinois county ignoring orders – Center Square

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Coronavirus In Illinois: State Investigating COVID Outbreak At LaSalle Veterans Home After 27 Deaths – CBS Chicago

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Part of unemployment fraud problem is lack of communication with employers, state lawmakers says – Center Square

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Carol Moseley Braun, the first Black female senator, eyes interior secretary post – Washington Post*

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Shop Small gets smaller in Illinois, with 11,200 fewer shop owners – IL Policy

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The fuzzy math behind state and local bailouts – The Hill

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Konkol: Pritzker Attack On Madigan Is About Re-Election Bid, Not Reform – Patch

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You beat the ‘fair tax,’ big business. Now what’s your politically doable alternative? – Editorial – Chicago Sun-Times

"Illinois business and civic groups led the fight to kill a proposal for a graduated income tax. How now would they avert a state budget crisis? Let’s have no more ducking."

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Senate committee grills Veterans’ Affairs officials on LaSalle home outbreak – Capitol News IL

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Pritzker again urges Illinoisans not to gather for Thanksgiving – Center Square

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Pipeline shutdown will affect Illinois, expert says – Center Square

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The ComEd Scandal Shows Every Illinoisan The True Cost Of Taxpayer Funded Corruption – WBEZ

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Illinois Hospitals Face Ethical Questions: ‘If Everybody’s At Capacity, What Do You Do Then?’ – IL Newsroom

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Contact tracing in Illinois may not slow the coronavirus much. But the data is helping guide state decisions. – Chicago Tribune*

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COVID-19 Update: ‘Cautious optimism,’ pleas to stay home ahead of holiday weekend – Capitol News IL

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Illinois pork industry recovering after COVID-19 disruptions – Center Square

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Illinois’ Initial vaccine shipment may be one-fifth of what was originally expected – Capitol IL News

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IDVA Launches Independent Investigation of Recent LaSalle Veterans Home COVID-19 Outbreak

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‘Dark money’ group raises fears in Illinois energy negotiations – Energy News Network

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Illinois Progressives Wanted To Tax the Rich. A Right-Wing Billionaire Helped Defeat Them. – Jacobin

A socialist perspective.

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Pritzker sees ‘glimmer of hope’ in declining coronavirus cases and positivity rate, but officials warn not to let guard down ahead of Thanksgiving – Chicago Tribune*

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Pritzker makes another plea for federal aid to help jobless before benefits end – Center Square

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Illinois hotels struggling more than some in neighboring states – Center Square

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Union nursing home workers striking amid pandemic bad timing, policy expert says – Center Square

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Illinois preps for expected initial 400,000 doses of vaccine – News-Gazette

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See The List: Hundreds of Illinois Cities Still Eligible for COVID-19 Relief Money – A.P.

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Monday Marks Deadline for Illinois Facebook Users to File Claim for Payouts in $650M Settlement – NBC Chicago

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A Weakened Madigan Triggers A Legislative Power Vacuum – WBEZ

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University of Illinois unveils plan to crack down on anti-Semitism days after feds open investigation – College Fix

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‘We Won’t Survive It’: Struggling Illinois Restaurant Owner Left with No Choice but To Defy COVID Orders – Western Journal

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Top Chicago Area Stories

Happy Thanksgiving

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Chicago area transit agency budgets bank on more federal help in 2021 – The Bond Buyer

"I have never in my entire career seen a budget deficit the size of what we are talking about next year. This is Armageddon type of stuff, it's beyond doomsday," Chicago Transit Authority president Dorval Carter Jr. told the Regional Transportation Authority of Illinois board at its monthly meeting Thursday. "It's unsustainable, which is why we need" additional federal dollars.

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$94 Million Property Tax Hike Is Coming After Divided Council Votes Yes – Block Club Chicago

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Mayor LIghtfoot Op-Ed: Why I am asking you to support one of the most painful budgets in Chicago’s history – Chicago Sun-Times*

If there were a responsible way to close our budget gap that didn’t involve raising taxes or requiring furloughs for employees, we already would have taken it.

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More Highlighted Chicago Area Stories

Chicago could reopen schools in January. Here’s what they’re telling parents so far – Chalkbeat

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Feds Sue Hinsdale Over Fair Housing – Patch

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Konkol: Property Taxes Going Up Indefinitely; City Council Passes Budget – Patch

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Chicago City Council Approves Lightfoot’s $12.8 Billion Budget — With 22 ‘No’ Votes

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‘It’s About Time’: City Outlines Comprehensive Plan to Tackle Infrastructure Backlog – WTTW

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Lightfoot accused of strongarm tactics on pandemic budget passage – Chicago Sun-Times*

On the eve of a final budget vote that is not in doubt, representatives from the DefundCPD Campaign, Black Lives Matter, the Grassroots Collaborative and United Working Families put the mayor on blast and aldermen who “cave” to mayoral pressure on notice.

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Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson proposes ground delivery tax – Chicago Sun-Times*

The grandson and nephew of Chicago’s two longest-serving mayors wants a $1.25 tax on packages weighing 50 pounds or less, and $2.50 for packages over that. Prepared food, prescriptions and medical appliances would be exempt.

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Obama, in surprise appearance, gives 105,000 CPS students free digital copies of ‘A Promised Land’ – Chicago Sun-Times*

Former President Barack Obama speaks to CPS students during a virtual assembly Monday. The 15-minute appearance marked the former president’s latest stop on his busy media blitz to promote the long-awaited, 768-page memoir.

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52 shot, 6 fatally in Chicago this weekend – Fox Chicago

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Cook County braces for ‘catastrophic’ wave of evictions, foreclosures in 2021 – Crain’s*

Moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures have prevented most people who’ve lost income during the pandemic from being displaced from their homes, but when those protections expire, a rush to the courts could be “catastrophic for Cook County renters and homeowners,” Toni Preckwinkle, president of the Cook County Board, said in a virtual press conference this morning.

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Chicago weekend gun violence leaves 50 shot, 5 fatally across city – ABC Chicago

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Chicago city Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin fires four employees, including chief of staff as part of office shake-up – Chicago Tribune*

It’s not unusual for elected officials to make staff changes but the decision to fire a handful of key staffers just before Thanksgiving raised eyebrows throughout City Hall. No full explanation given.

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Pandemic in Chicago: Why are more Black people dying of COVID-19? – Aljazeera

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Chicago Area Hospitals Worry About Growing Number Of COVID-19 Hospitalizations – CBS Chicago

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Cook County commercial real estate struggles with delinquent property tax payments during pandemic – ABC Chicago

The Treasurer's office typically deals with about $200 million in late payments at this time of the year, but this year they're waiting on $230 million.

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That Cook County Covid Adjusted Property Tax Value Won’t Save You Much – ChicagoNow

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CPS reopening plan leaves out crucial players – Opinion – Crain’s*

Troy LaRaviere, president of the Chicago Principals & Administrators Association: Chicago Public Schools management has once again introduced a skeletal plan to reopen schools. The plan was contrived without the presence and participation of the teachers, support staff, engineers and principals who’d have to implement it. It’s as if they’re purposefully trying to create a plan that is less likely to succeed by creating it without the people who are critical to its success.

Can you imagine a hospital trying to figure out how to operate during the pandemic without the input of doctors and nurses?

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Chicago taxpayers on the hook for extra $2 billion under Lightfoot plan – IL Policy

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DuPage County, Chicago drivers facing new gas tax hikes – IL Policy

The same law that doubled Illinois’ gas tax is now being used by DuPage County and Chicago to fill revenue shortfalls from COVID-19.

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Feds seek more than two years for ex-Ald. Vrdolyak, say he got $12 million from tobacco litigation – Chicago Sun-Times*

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Downtown sees rise in residents moving out, heading for suburbs or North Side neighborhoods – WGN

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Maine Township cuts pay, eliminates pensions for officials elected next spring – Chicago Tribune*

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South Loop research center finally gets big check from Pritzker – Crain’s*

After years of promises from two governors, the budding Discovery Partners Institute in the South Loop finally is getting the first installment of the state help needed for a project considered key to Chicago’s growth as a tech center.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that he has released $142 million for various university research projects, including $23.5 million for design of DPI’s 500,000-square-foot headquarters in the 78 development at Roosevelt Road and the Chicago River.

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South Suburban Homeowners Have Seen Staggering Property Tax Bill Increases, Officials And Resident Want To Know Why – CBS2 (Chicago)

Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller said since 2000, property taxes have gone up a whopping 87 percent in her area, despite what many believe are actually declining property values. “It’s negatively impacting our district, because people are just walking away from property."

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Civic Federation Supports Cook County FY2021 Budget that Reflects Several Years of Foresighted Work – Civic Federation

"The County has been able to balance its budget this year through a combination of federal revenues, vacant-position eliminations, health system layoffs and reserves set aside in prior years."

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60 Protesters Sue City, Alleging Chicago Police Abused Them ‘Without Justification’ At Summer Protests – Block Club Chicago

The lawsuit includes graphic photos and video screenshots of the alleged abuse. A city spokesperson said "these are allegations at this stage and not proof."

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s $12.8 Billion Spending Plan For 2021 Easily Clears Budget Committee, Paving Way For Full City Council Approval – CBS2 (Chicago)

The mayor’s $12.8 billion spending plan sailed through the Budget Committee on a 26-8 vote after Lightfoot agreed to remove plans for 350 layoffs. Lightfoot’s budget team also agreed to scale back plans to require furlough days for non-union employees.

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A West Side School Let Students Opt In To Hybrid Learning. They’re Outperforming Online-Only Students, Leaders Say – Block Club Chicago

“There’s just no substitution from being in a class where you’re able to get feedback from a teacher right in the moment. That’s much more difficult to do in a Zoom call,” the school's academic director said. “We’ve learned that you can do a hybrid model and keep people safe. We’re strict about it.”

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Inside the Lives of Immigrant Teens Working Dangerous Night Shifts in Suburban Factories – ProPublica Illinois

"Here in the Chicago suburb of Bensenville, and in places like it throughout the country, Guatemalan teenagers like Garcia spend their days in class learning English and algebra and chemistry. At night, while their classmates sleep, they work to pay debts to smugglers and sponsors, to contribute to rent and bills, to buy groceries and sneakers, and to send money home to the parents and siblings they left behind."

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Editorial: Budget dealmaking gets ugly at City Hall – Crain’s*

In a Nov. 11 conference call with the City Council's Black Caucus, for instance, the mayor threatened to play hardball when choosing projects in her $3.7 billion capital plan. The message was, if you don't support my budget, your ward won't be prioritized. Or, to put it another way: "Don't come to me for shit for the next three years" if you don't support the budget, several aldermen recalled her saying.

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Wirepoints Commentary and Research

Illinois’ COVID-19 data: Daily update for November 26, 2020 – Wirepoints

Daily COVID-19 data update for November 26, 2020.

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Illinois Senators Durbin and Duckworth Are Among The Book Burners Happy With Big Tech Censorship – Wirepoints

The subversion of democracy by suppression of the free exchange of information and opinion is no longer just a threat. It’s here.

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The right COVID policy for Illinois? Obsess about the elderly and infirm. – Wirepoints

The strategy of shutting much of the state down – from lockdowns to school closings – has done far more harm than good, in part because it’s taken health officials’ eyes off of the elderly and the infirm.

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Support for school reopenings grows across the political spectrum – Wirepoints Quicktake

While school openings have become heavily politicized in recent weeks, the good news is that more experts on all sides agree schools should strive to reopen and stay open.

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Public safety payrolls or pensions? Illinois cities’ impossible choice. – Wirepoints

Mamie Cosey and her family are victims of a growing malaise impacting cities across Illinois, where residents are taxed out, services are being slashed, police and firefighters are losing their jobs, and public pensioners are losing their retirement security. A recent law that garnishes city tax revenues to pay for pensions is making things worse.

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Will COVID-19 lead to “pension intercepts” and cuts to core city services across Illinois? – Wirepoints Special Report

Wirepoints found that 351 of Illinois’ 643 downstate public safety pension funds did not receive their full contributions in FY 2019. Without pension reform, local funds will either end up closer to insolvency, or city services will go unfunded in an attempt to keep failing public safety pensions afloat.

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More Wirepoints Original Stories

Cloak Lifted on Chicago’s Latest Financial Can-Kick: $2 Billion Cost For Taxpayers – Wirepoints

Props to the reporters who pestered the city into finally coming clean.

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Every Illinois school parent, teacher should know these COVID-19 facts – Wirepoints

Many Illinois school districts are reverting fully to online-learning due to the jump in COVID-19 cases, but another set of numbers argue that schools should stay open – and in fact, open even more. The survival rates since the beginning of the pandemic for those 20 years and younger is 99.99%.

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“The ratings agencies are set to downgrade Illinois to junk if they don’t see a plan.” – Ted on with Tom Miller on Newsradio WJPF

Ted was on with Tom Miller this week talking about the state of Illinois' fiscal crisis now that the progressive tax failed and a federal bailout seems less likely. The rundown: Illinois has $7 billion in unpaid bills, a budget $6 billion in the red, 5-year projected deficits of $4 billion each year, over $300 billion in state retirement debts and the state is rated just one notch from junk status.

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Lightfoot Caves On Paltry Union Layoffs, Illustrating Multiple Vices In Chicago Finance – Wirepoints

Stay stoned, Chicago. The tax hikes will be painless.

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Updated 5-Year Budget Deficit Estimates From Illinois Governor’s Budget Office – Wirepoints

The revised cash-based deficit projection for the current year is $3.9 billion, but with a total bill backlog of $10.2 billion remaining at the end of the year.

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Political Indoctrination In Illinois Schools Would Be Mandatory Under Pending Rule – Wirepoints

Make no mistake. The pending rule would be another major step in the conversion of education into state-controlled autocracy. It is a direct assault on free society.

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“Illinois’ collapsing COVID fatality rates show we can have our schools reopen safely and responsibly.” – Ted on AM 560’s Chicago’s Morning Answer

Ted was on with Amy Jacobson and Paul Vallas talking about the collapse in the state's case fatality rates. Illinois' COVID crisis is still centered in retirement homes. Over 40% of all deaths between September and November were linked to Long-Term Care facilities.

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Connecting the dots between our economy, government and people —

ILLINOISANS NEED PENSION REFORM,
NOT TAX HIKES.

Wirepoints Original Stories

Illinois’ COVID-19 data: Daily update for November 26, 2020 – Wirepoints

Daily COVID-19 data update for November 26, 2020.

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Illinois Senators Durbin and Duckworth Are Among The Book Burners Happy With Big Tech Censorship – Wirepoints

The subversion of democracy by suppression of the free exchange of information and opinion is no longer just a threat. It’s here.

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The right COVID policy for Illinois? Obsess about the elderly and infirm. – Wirepoints

The strategy of shutting much of the state down – from lockdowns to school closings – has done far more harm than good, in part because it’s taken health officials’ eyes off of the elderly and the infirm.

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Support for school reopenings grows across the political spectrum – Wirepoints Quicktake

While school openings have become heavily politicized in recent weeks, the good news is that more experts on all sides agree schools should strive to reopen and stay open.

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Public safety payrolls or pensions? Illinois cities’ impossible choice. – Wirepoints

Mamie Cosey and her family are victims of a growing malaise impacting cities across Illinois, where residents are taxed out, services are being slashed, police and firefighters are losing their jobs, and public pensioners are losing their retirement security. A recent law that garnishes city tax revenues to pay for pensions is making things worse.

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Top Illinois Stories

Illinois borrows more from Fed as lending program nears expiry – Reuters

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ComEd Dumps Cache Of Emails Relating To Illinois House’s Madigan Probe – WBEZ

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Secret emails show GOP leader, others sought ComEd favors – Crain’s

A just-released trove of documents show it was more than Madigan associates hitting up the utility. Cullerton and Durkin were in on the game, too.

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Gov. Pritzker Says Illinois Will Borrow $2 Billion From Feds To Deal With COVID-19-Related Revenue Losses – CBS Chicago

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Illinois: Fraudulent jobless claims soar during pandemic

Fraudulent unemployment claims have soared in Illinois with scammers directing jobless benefits to their own accounts even as record numbers of residents sought relief due to the coronavirus pandemic, state officials said.fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits have been filed since March 1.

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States With The Most And Least Debt In 2020 – Forbes

Chicago skyline aerial drone view from above, lake Michigan and city of Chicago downtown skyscrapers cityscape, Illinois, USA Illinois No. 1.

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Durbin seeks top Democratic spot on Senate Judiciary Committee – Chicago Tribune*

Comment: This is frightening in light of Durbin's complete indifference to censorship by big tech, which this committee is charged with overseeing. See our new article on that here.

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Other Illinois News

Pritzker responds to Illinois county ignoring orders – Center Square

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Coronavirus In Illinois: State Investigating COVID Outbreak At LaSalle Veterans Home After 27 Deaths – CBS Chicago

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Part of unemployment fraud problem is lack of communication with employers, state lawmakers says – Center Square

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Carol Moseley Braun, the first Black female senator, eyes interior secretary post – Washington Post*

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Shop Small gets smaller in Illinois, with 11,200 fewer shop owners – IL Policy

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Top Chicago Stories

Happy Thanksgiving

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Chicago area transit agency budgets bank on more federal help in 2021 – The Bond Buyer

"I have never in my entire career seen a budget deficit the size of what we are talking about next year. This is Armageddon type of stuff, it's beyond doomsday," Chicago Transit Authority president Dorval Carter Jr. told the Regional Transportation Authority of Illinois board at its monthly meeting Thursday. "It's unsustainable, which is why we need" additional federal dollars.

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$94 Million Property Tax Hike Is Coming After Divided Council Votes Yes – Block Club Chicago

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Mayor LIghtfoot Op-Ed: Why I am asking you to support one of the most painful budgets in Chicago’s history – Chicago Sun-Times*

If there were a responsible way to close our budget gap that didn’t involve raising taxes or requiring furloughs for employees, we already would have taken it.

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Other Chicago News

Chicago could reopen schools in January. Here’s what they’re telling parents so far – Chalkbeat

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Feds Sue Hinsdale Over Fair Housing – Patch

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Konkol: Property Taxes Going Up Indefinitely; City Council Passes Budget – Patch

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Chicago City Council Approves Lightfoot’s $12.8 Billion Budget — With 22 ‘No’ Votes

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‘It’s About Time’: City Outlines Comprehensive Plan to Tackle Infrastructure Backlog – WTTW

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