Illinois Insights: An Update from Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies (10/12)

October 12, 2022


COVID booster rates remain low in Chicago as concerns rise over another U.S. surge, by The Chicago Sun-Times.


Illinois judicial organizations sign independence declaration

With the Second and Third Judicial Districts both up for election this fall and TV advertisements seeing an increase in partisan attacks against individual judges, several organizations representing different parts of the legal community unveiled a document re-declaring their political independence.

The Declaration of Judicial Independence – signed Tuesday by 18 legal organizations in the state, including the Illinois Judges Association (IJA), Illinois State Bar Association, and Chicago Bar Association – is intended to educate the public about the civic role of the judiciary and diminish partisan rhetoric.

The Declaration states that the “court system can only function if it is viewed as impartial, which means that judges make decisions based solely upon the facts and the law.”

IJA president and Cook County Appellate Court Justice Eileen O’Neill Burke encouraged voters to make their decisions at the ballot box based on ISBA’s Judicial Evaluations and Ratings and the CBA’s Judicial Voting Guide, which includes the qualifications of judicial candidates and judges seeking retention.


Candidates for open Illinois Supreme Court seat talk campaign dollars, still ruling impartially: “At last count, nearly $1.3 million in campaign donations and loans separate former Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran and Lake County Judge Elizabeth Rochford, two candidates vying for a seat on the Illinois Supreme Court,” by Shaw Local News.

First agreement outlines public financing, zoning changes for Bears project at Arlington: “It’s far from final approval, but a proposed agreement between Arlington Heights and the Chicago Bears — reviewed publicly for the first time Monday night by the village board — starts to pave the way for what could be the NFL franchise’s new home in the suburbs,” by The Daily Herald.

Walker hoping to fend off challenge from Republican attorney Jack Vrett: “Rep. Mark Walker (D-Arlington Heights) is working to withstand a rumored red wave and a challenge from Republican Jack Vrett of Arlington Heights … The new 53rd House District, which includes parts of Palatine, Arlington Heights and Mount Prospect, leans left with President Joe Biden winning the district by 19 points in 2020, according to Illinois Election Data,” by The Daily Line.

Bos attempting to fend off challenge from 23-year-old newcomer Syed: “First term Rep. Chris Bos (R-Lake Zurich) is facing a tough challenge from the left from 23-year-old Nabeela Syed of Inverness, who is well-funded and growing her name recognition,” by The Daily Line.


Department of Buildings commissioner on board with Lightfoot’s ‘tiny homes’ program 

During a budget hearing on Tuesday, Department of Buildings Commissioner Matthew Beaudet voiced his support for the $3 million tiny homes pilot proposed in Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s 2023 budget.

Working with the Department of Housing and the Department of Planning and Development on the mayor’s proposal, Beaudet said “we are very supportive of it. We just want to make sure it’s done properly and safely.”

City officials envision the pilot program to include up to three tiny home communities, with four to eight houses in each community, equipped with insulation, running water, sewage, and proper foundations for each residence.

Under the proposed 2023 budget, the buildings department would also see an increase of over $1 million to their budget, which they plan to use to modernize construction in the city through rewriting requirements on signs, plumbing, refrigeration, natural gas, trade licensing, mechanical ventilation, and hazardous occupancies.


Civilian police oversight commission leaders defend budget requests as staff vacancies persist: “During the Tuesday hearing, leaders from the commission, Executive Director Adam Gross and Commission President Anthony Driver, stressed the urgent need to fill vacancies as most of its budgeted positions from Fiscal Year 2022 remain open,” by The Daily Line.

City Council Debate Over Private Booting Shines Light on Ways Clout and Campaign Cash Work in Chicago: “A vote on a measure that would strip members of the Chicago City Council of their authority to ban commercial property owners from hiring a firm like Denigris’ to patrol their parking lots and swiftly immobilize cars that are parked there illegally was delayed Sept. 21, and its future is uncertain,” by WTTW.

A year before trial, racketeering case against Ald. Edward Burke gets new judge: “U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall will be taking over the hot-button case after the previous judge, Robert Dow, announced last week he’s leaving the federal bench to serve as counselor to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, according to a court order docketed on Tuesday,” by The Chicago Tribune.

Bally’s expected to buy Freedom Center site ‘this week’ for planned Chicago casino: “With time running out on its option to buy the Freedom Center printing plant, Bally’s is expected to close the deal ‘this week,’ sources said Monday, bringing the 30-acre site in River West another step closer to housing the Chicago casino,” by The Chicago Tribune.

Time to fill open city jobs down to 80 days from last year’s 120, but aldermen press for more progress in hiring: “The city’s Department of Human Resources has sliced the average amount of time it takes to fill an open position from 120 days to 80 days. But while aldermen acknowledged the progress, they still pushed the department to improve hiring for city positions,” by The Daily Line.

Hackers shut down O’Hare, Midway airport websites: “A widespread attack coordinated by pro-Russia hackers knocked the websites of Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports offline early Monday, a group claiming responsibility for the hack said. No flights or other airport operations were affected, the Chicago Department of Aviation said,” by The Chicago Sun-Times.

City Colleges staff have planned date for strike: “Faculty and staff at City Colleges of Chicago plan to strike the week of Oct. 24 if they don’t reach a tentative agreement with their employer,” by Crain’s Chicago Business.


Cozen Currents: The Politics of Democracy

  • The 2020 election and its aftermath were a major stress test of American democracy. There are more stress tests to come in this year’s midterm election and in 2024.
  • While the Fed covets its traditional independence that has not kept it from increasingly being caught in the political crossfire.
  • The Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling last term raised concerns over politicization of the Court’s decisions. Its conservative 6-3 majority is likely only to exacerbate those concerns in its new term.

Read the full Cozen Currents article here.


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