Editorial Roundup: Illinois

Chicago Sun-Times. October 22, 2022.

Editorial: Pivotal Illinois Supreme Court elections, fueled by Big Money, are on the docket

Two of the court's seven seats have opened up, and the winners of those seats will determine whether the court is majority conservative or moderate.

A federal judge's recent ruling opens the door to more cash pouring into Illinois Supreme Court races. Voters ought to be alarmed.

To keep money from tilting the elections, voters must educate themselves about the candidates and make sure they vote in what often are perceived as obscure races. Two of the court's seven seats have opened up, and the winners of those seats will determine whether the court is majority conservative or moderate.

The preliminary injunction from federal Judge John Tharp Jr. blocked new laws designed to limit contributions in judicial races and could have a significant effect on the Nov. 8 election.

The state Supreme Court is meant to be an impartial panel that follows the law. But without limits on contributions, special interests can seize control of the court for their own benefit. Even before the Oct. 14 ruling, special interests have sought to use enormous donations to shape the Illinois Supreme Court, and now it seems likely to get worse. The 2020 Illinois Supreme Court race already was the most expensive in the nation's history.

In the past, it may have felt like little would change in Illinois, no matter who won open seats on the seven-member court. But this year, if a new majority assumes control, things could go in a different direction quickly.

'œThese races should be at the top of the ballot, not at the bottom,'ť said Kathleen Sances, president and CEO of G-PAC, a gun-safety group.

Major issues could be in play

If a new court makes new rulings, abortion rights could be limited, as has happened in other states. Easy access to voting could become a thing of the past. Laws designed to reduce gun violence could be upended. Illinois' ground-breaking laws to protect the environment could be overturned. The right to collective bargaining could be challenged. Other rights could be stripped away.

In one example cited by Julie Hamos, co-chair of the Protect Our Court Campaign, abortion rights might no longer be safe in Illinois after the election. In 2017, Illinois repealed a 1975 'œtrigger law'ť that would have banned abortion in Illinois should Roe v. Wade be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. That should have settled the matter.

But a lawsuit has been brought to reinstate the Illinois trigger law, and a newly constituted Supreme Court could do so, as Ramos, a former state legislator and former head of the Illinois Department of Heath Care and Family Services, points out. If that happens, Illinois law would prohibit abortions unless necessary for the preservation of the mother's life.

As the U.S. Supreme Court continues to overturn laws and precedent, Illinois voters will have to decide whether they want their own high court to follow suit or to stand as a bulwark against what the conservative court majority is doing in Washington.

If voters ignore Supreme Court races, it will be hard to undo balloting results they don't like in future elections. Justices are elected to 10-year terms and then run on a retention ballot - not against an opponent - which generally means they get another term. Justices elected to open seats are likely to be around a long time.

Since Tharp's ruling, new PAC donations already are coming into Illinois. The deluge of cash undoubtedly will be used to fund a last-minute blitz of advertising aimed at voters, many of whom don't even realize Supreme Court justices are elected by voters.

To see big money used to sway elections is terrible at any level, but 'œto see it play out in judicial races in particular, it is that much more galling,'ť state Rep. Kelly Cassidy said.

It's not easy for voters to educate themselves about judicial candidates, whose records often are based on obscure points of law. Campaign advertising can be very misleading. But if voters want a state high court that follows the law and not the money, they should do their research and go to the polls.


Champaign News-Gazette. October 23, 2022.

Editorial: Coronavirus has been disastrous, but it's no longer a disasterCoronavirus has been disastrous, but it's no longer a disaster

No man is an island - or should be. But what about a state?

Illinois certainly is an island, at least when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic.

Says who? Says Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

'œI find that disaster exists within the state of Illinois, and specifically declare all counties in the state of Illinois as a disaster area.'ť

That's 102 counties, including Champaign. But if there's really an ongoing disaster, it doesn't meet the eye.

Sure, the coronavirus has yet to disappear. And it won't, according to medical experts

What started off as a mysterious pandemic in 2020 is now something akin to the flu. And, like the flu, people are well advised to protect themselves through vaccinations, particularly the elderly or younger people with co-morbidities that make them especially vulnerable.

But Illinois a disaster? How can that be when our six surrounding states ended their emergency declarations.

Wisconsin pulled the plug on its declaration in March 2021, Michigan in October 2020, Indiana in March 2022, Kentucky in March 2022, Missouri in December 2021 and Iowa in February 2022.

At roughly the same time the governor was extending his health emergency declarations on Oct. 14, a state order requiring the use of face masks in health care facilities expired.

Apparently it will be left to individual organizations to decide how to proceed. Christie Clinic said it will no longer require patients and staff members to mask up in patient areas, although there will be some exceptions.

OSF Healthcare and Carle Health announced they're reviewing the situation.

But it would be no surprise if they embrace the Christie mode.

The old joke is that nothing could be finer than a crisis that is minor, and the same thing applies to medical emergencies that really aren't.

So what's going on with Pritzker, who takes pride in his status as among the most aggressive governors in the nation when it comes to addressing the pandemic?

Lockdowns, stay-at-home rules, business closings and masks, masks, masks were the standing orders emanating from Springfield. Those were reasonable steps in the early days of the pandemic - March 2020 and some months thereafter.

But once risks were properly measured, vaccines were produced and safety measures properly implemented, the deadly pandemic began to fade.

People still get the coronavirus, but the number of hospitalizations and deaths has sharply declined.

So why are the people of Illinois marking nearly 1,000 days under the governor's declaration of a 102-county disaster area generated by a medical emergency?

The governor has said he's motivated by the desire to continue to collect federal funds that go to social services. So it's a money grab driven by financial self-interest and based on a questionable claim?

Illinois can use the money. Short-term cash flow is OK, but in the long term the state is a financial basket case.

Abuse of public money is no different, whether it's an individual exploiting the state's welfare system or a governor doing the same thing to the feds. It's time to knock off the monkey/money business.


Bloomington Pantagraph. October 19, 2022.

Editorial: Oh dear! Don't veer near deer

Now that's a catchy phrase for the ages.

'œOh, dear! Don't veer for deer'ť is an Illinois media release headline about deer mating season. During the season, deer become more active, mainly at dawn and dusk, from October through December.

Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman said, 'œDon't veer for deer '“ it could cause you to lose control of your vehicle and swerve into another lane or off the road.'ť

That's an important reminder, as are the numbers for vehicle-wildlife collisions. If you haven't hit a deer yourself on backroads or on the interstate, you know someone who has. Those drivers all know the pain of car repair as well as the shock of being in a crash and killing or hurting another living thing.

In 2021, 14,522 motor vehicle crashes involved deer in Illinois. Of these, 13,936 resulted in damage to property or vehicles. In 584 accidents, there were personal injuries. Two of the crashes resulted in fatalities.

The danger lurks from north to south in the state. While Cook and Will County to the north are No. 1 and 3, southern county Madison is second and has a considerably higher accident-per-capita rate. Fourth and fifth are right nearby '“ Sangamon and Peoria Counties.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Transportation offer the following tips:

If you hit a deer, pull off to the shoulder, turn on your hazard lights and call 911 to report the accident. Do not exit the vehicle to check on an injured deer or pull it from the road.

'¢ Deer can appear suddenly in surprising environments, so be on alert, slow down and pay attention in areas they are known to travel.

'¢ Be aware of your surroundings, especially in areas with deer crossing signs.

'¢ Scan the sides of the road for eye shine '“ the reflection of headlights in their eyes.

'¢ Slow down if you see a deer. They travel in groups, so more are likely nearby.

'¢ Prepare for the unexpected. Deer may stop in the middle of the road.

'¢ If a collision is inevitable, don't veer. Try to glance your vehicle off the deer and avoid swerving into the opposite lanes of traffic or off the road.

For information on how to claim a deer involved in a crash, or to report possession of a deer killed in a deer-vehicle crash, click here or visit the IDNR website.


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