Illinois Insights: An Update from Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies (5/20)

June 20, 2022

Public Health

  • U.S. health officials say a third of people live in areas with so much virus they should consider masks indoors. From The New York Times.
  • Chicago Won ’t Reimpose Mask Mandate Until Hospitals Are Threatened: Chicago ’s Top Doc: “Even if federal health officials warn residents of Cook County that they face a ‘high ’ risk of contracting COVID-19 in the coming days, Chicago officials will not immediately reimpose a requirement that everyone wear a mask indoors, Chicago ’s top doctor said Tuesday. ” From WTTW.
  • Illinois Cases Likely to Continue Climbing, Officials Urge Caution: “In the last week alone, COVID cases in the state of Illinois have gone up by more than 40%, while hospitalizations have also begun a slow increase, according to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health. ‘If you look at our rates, (and) if you look, for example, at the CDC maps, we are right up there with the east coast, ’ Dr. Sharon Welbel of Cook County Health says. ” NBC Chicago has more here.



Illinois suffers 2% undercount in 2020 census; state actually gained 250,000 residents

A U.S. Census Bureau report released Thursday shows Illinois added more than 250,000 residents over the past decade, with the state ’s population rising to an all-time high of 13 million – rather than shrinking by 18,000 people. Illinois ’ undercount was 1.97%, the bureau said.

The data released this week did not identify the cause of the undercount – nor did it identify cities, counties, or regions within the state which may have been impacted. Accordingly, the legal and political ramifications of the undercount remain unclear: state and federal legislative districts have already been reapportioned, and even with the additional residents, Illinois might not have enough to regain the seat it lost in the U.S. House.

In a press release, Gov. JB Pritzker said, “While it is disappointing that these numbers were not reflected in the initial count, I have already spoken to members of our congressional delegation and will work tirelessly to ensure Illinois receives its fair share of federal funding. ”


Around the State



Special City Council casino committee opts to hold off on Bally ’s vote

As the Lightfoot administration works to craft its next budget, the mayor is rushing to win City Council ’s approval of a package of ordinances authorizing a Chicago casino in River West and host agreement with Bally ’s, her choice operator.

But aldermen on Chicago ’s special casino committee threw a wrench in that plan today, declining to vote to advance the package to the City Council floor as Lightfoot had hoped.

Ald. Tom Tunney, who chairs the special committee, said there ’s “still a lot of work to be done ” and that aldermen need more time to review associated documents – some of which, he said this morning, they only received last night.

The $1.74 billion project ’s approval would help the mayor secure a $40 million upfront payment from Bally ’s for her pre-election FY 2023 spending plan. According to a draft agreement between the Lightfoot administration and Bally ’s, the operator has agreed to the following provisions:

  • Bally ’s will include five restaurants, a 200-seat sports bar, four bars, and a 3,000-seat theater in its entertainment venue. The casino would be kept open for at least 20 hours a day;
  • Bally ’s will make a “good faith effort ” to meet the city ’s contracting goals (36% of the work is earmarked for minority-owned businesses; 10% for women-owned businesses);
  • To meet Chicago ’s requirement of at least 25% minority ownership of the casino, Bally ’s is seeking to raise $30 million through a crowdsourced financial investment which will allow investors to pay between $250 and up to $1 million;
  • At the request of aldermen and other local officials, Bally ’s has struck labor peace agreements with five clout-heavy labor unions, under which the operator won ’t interfere with employees ’ efforts to unionize; and
  • Bally ’s has agreed to allocate at least 50% of staff jobs to Chicagoans, with 15.5% earmarked for residents of socio-economically disadvantaged areas.

Despite these provisions, it ’s unclear if the mayor has the votes to secure the agreement’s approval by the full City Council. In addition to minor hurdles created by today ’s delay, a suite of aldermen – including some of Lightfoot ’s staunchest City Council allies – have expressed opposition to Bally ’s plans to open a temporary casino at the vacant Medinah Temple, citing public safety and traffic congestion issues. (Under the draft host agreement, Bally ’s will open a temporary casino in spring 2023 and finish a permanent one by late 2025 or early 2026.)

Still, the casino is expected to be a long-term boon for city coffers: officials estimate a fully operational venue will bring in $200 million a year in tax revenue, funding which is earmarked for Chicago ’s beleaguered police and fire pensions.


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