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COVID-19 numbers crunch packs one-two punch: Pritzker sees $2.7B budget jab now, $6.2B later

COVID-19 numbers crunch packs one-two punch: Pritzker sees $2.7B budget jab now, $6.2B later

Filed under:“You don’t have to be an epidemiologist to see that the virus is going to hit our budget hard, a reality that is being visited upon every state in the United States,” the governor said.For weeks, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has been asked just how bad the state budget shortfall would be in light of a coronavirus outbreak that has devastated the nation’s economy and killed nearly a thousand people in Illinois alone.On Wednesday — at Pritzker’s 38th consecutive daily coronavirus briefing — the Democratic governor unveiled the grim projections from his budget office: $2.7 billion less...

April 16, 2020
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Wall Street ratings firm: COVID-19 could mean ‘long-term damage’ to already woeful Illinois finances

Wall Street ratings firm: COVID-19 could mean ‘long-term damage’ to already woeful Illinois finances

Filed under:The COVID-19 crisis will “exacerbate” financial problems that have festered in Illinois for years, analysts say.The coronavirus pandemic will “exacerbate the already substantial financial challenges” facing Illinois and “could inflict some long-term damage” to the state by the time it’s contained.That’s according to a report released Tuesday by the credit ratings agency Moody’s, which earlier this month already affirmed the cash-strapped state’s rating at a notch above junk status and revised its outlook for Illinois from “stable” to “negative.”“The negative outlook aligns with...

April 21, 2020
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New normal for reopened Chicago, suburban schools come fall likely to be very different

New normal for reopened Chicago, suburban schools come fall likely to be very different

Filed under:It won’t be ‘business as usual,’ state officials say, ‘but rather the convergence of a new reality.’ Like one-way hallways and quarantine rooms and daily temperature checks.Goodbye, field trips and perfect attendance awards. Hello, one-way hallways, daily temperature checks and quarantine rooms.That’s some of what we can look ahead to now that Gov. J.B. Pritzker gave his approval last week for schools in Illinois to reopen for in-class instruction this fall, encouraging schools to welcome back kids and staff under detailed state guidelines aimed at keeping them safe.In Chicago’s...

July 1, 2020
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Police union slams co-chair of new panel reviewing CPD use-of-force policy

Police union slams co-chair of new panel reviewing CPD use-of-force policy

Filed under:FOP President John Catanzara took issue with remarks by Arewa Karen Winters, great aunt of Pierre Loury, who was killed by Chicago police in 2016. Winters called officers “psychopaths with guns.”A new group appointed to review the Chicago Police Department’s use-of-force policy came under immediate fire Monday after its community co-chair referred to police officers as “psychopaths with guns.”Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara demanded the resignation of co-chair Arewa Karen Winters, saying her remarks make it clear the working group will be little more than a...

June 15, 2020
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After weekend of bloodshed, city’s top cop urges revamping of electronic monitoring system

After weekend of bloodshed, city’s top cop urges revamping of electronic monitoring system

Filed under:CPD Supt. David Brown said there had been a total of 87 shooting victims from 6 p.m. Thursday through midnight Sunday in the city, with 17 killed. In that same period, 173 guns were recovered.After a Fourth of July weekend that saw more than a dozen homicides, including the death of a 7-year-old girl, the city’s top cop railed against a criminal justice system that, he said, has let too many people of out jail without adequate monitoring.“That is not sustainable, and many of these people come right back to the very communities where they’ve committed their crimes to commit more...

July 6, 2020
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Cook County Land Bank Authority sold vacant lots to a drug dealer

Cook County Land Bank Authority sold vacant lots to a drug dealer

Filed under:The county agency says it didn’t know Obed Ornelas was a convicted dealer or that he was free on bail on a charge of intent to distribute a kilo of cocaine. It didn’t check.Two years ago, the Cook County Land Bank Authority sold two West Side lots to a convicted drug dealer who at the time was free on bail and required to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet while awaiting trial in another drug case for intent to distribute a kilo of cocaine.Obed Eli Ornelas paid $22,602 for the adjacent lots in the 600 block of North Cicero Avenue in West Garfield Park, less than the length...

August 7, 2020
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Raised by radicals in Chicago, he’s about to become San Francisco’s new top prosecutor

Raised by radicals in Chicago, he’s about to become San Francisco’s new top prosecutor

Chesa Boudin’s life story sounds like something out of a right-winger’s nightmares.The son of two left-wing radicals convicted for their roles as getaway drivers in an infamous 1981 armored-car robbery, he was raised in Chicago by adoptive parents Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, former leaders of the Weather Underground, a militant offshoot of the group Students for a Democratic Society.During graduate school, Boudin headed to Venezuela to explore that nation’s revolutionary upheaval.Now 39, Boudin — who worked for years in the public defender’s office in San Francisco and never prosecuted...

January 3, 2020
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Will your mailed-in ballot be counted? We did a test-mailing to see.

Will your mailed-in ballot be counted? We did a test-mailing to see.

Filed under:A Sun-Times test involving 100 simulated ballots saw just 1 fail to arrive within 2 weeks. But if real-life mail voting goes like that, it still could leave thousands in Chicago disenfranchised.Chicago’s mail-in voters who don’t hurry to send in their ballots might have something to worry about.Elections and postal officials say they’re confident that mailed ballots will arrive safely and be counted.To test whether that confidence is warranted, the Chicago Sun-Times dropped 100 ballot-sized envelopes in mailboxes all around the city, aiming to mimic as closely as possible the...

September 25, 2020
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Belmont Snack Shop’s future uncertain after devastating fire: ‘We lost everything’

Belmont Snack Shop’s future uncertain after devastating fire: ‘We lost everything’

Filed under:After the fire destroyed Nelson Rodriguez’s home and livelihood — and an Avondale institution — his daughter, Alexis, launched a fundraiser with the goal of $10,000.The future of the Belmont Snack Shop is up in the air after a fierce fire engulfed the late-night diner and left behind only charred remnants of the Avondale staple.Restaurant manager Nelson Rodriguez and his wife, who live in an apartment above the diner near Belmont and Kimball, were cooking dinner Thursday night around 7:50 p.m. when they spotted smoke rising outside their window.Rodriguez bolted downstairs to try...

October 10, 2020
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Pritzker arranging secret flights from China to bring millions of masks and gloves to Illinois

Pritzker arranging secret flights from China to bring millions of masks and gloves to Illinois

Filed under:The governor is worried President Trump might try to seize the supplies for the federal stockpile so he’s keeping the details quiet, a source said.Gov. J.B. Pritzker is planning to obtain millions of masks and gloves from China and bring those supplies back to Illinois on charter jets — but he’s keeping the details secret out of fear the Trump administration might seize the cargo for the federal stockpile, sources said Tuesday.Illinois state Comptroller Susana Mendoza said Tuesday that the state has spent more than $174 million on purchases related to COVID-19, including...

April 14, 2020
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