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Workers remove the Christopher Columbus statue from Chicago’s Grant Park during the early morning hours of Friday, July 24, 2020. (Armando L. Sanchez)

Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered the controversial statue of Christopher Columbus removed from Chicago’s Grant Park overnight, in part to avoid another high-profile confrontation between police and protesters like the one that happened last week.

Not all Italian American leaders in Chicago are on board with the decision, but it has received the blessing of some groups, sources said. By taking the statue down, Lightfoot may draw criticism from those who believe she caved to activist demands.

The abrupt move in the dark of night was an about-face for Lightfoot, who has opposed taking down statues of the Italian explorer on the grounds that it would be erasing history.

It also drew comparisons from Ald. Raymond Lopez, 15th, to former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s midnight bulldozing of Meigs Field in March 2003.

Crews arrived at Grant Park sometime around 1:00 a.m. and began the process of bringing down the monument honoring Columbus a little afterward. A couple dozen people cheered from across the street and passing cars honked as the statue came down at about 3 a.m. Friday morning.

Read more here and ask yourselves what’s next?

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker took the unusual step Thursday of preemptively filing a lawsuit to ensure school children wear face coverings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus when schools reopen in a few weeks.

The action filed late Thursday in Sangamon County Circuit Court by the state attorney general seeks a judge’s approval of Pritzker’s order that schoolchildren, teachers and staff wear coverings over mouths and noses among other measures to reduce the chance that the highly contagious and potentially deadly virus can spread.

It’s typical for the governor to be in court as a defendant seeking validation of a policy or action. In this instance, no lawsuit has been filed, but a public school district and two private academies have informed the Illinois State Board of Education that Pritzker no longer has authority under emergency rule-making to require face masks in schools and that they will be developing their own safety rules.

It was time to get ahead of the issue, Ann Spillane, Pritzker’s chief legal counsel, told The Associated Press.

Read more here.

 

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After complaints from some suburban and downstate officials seeking greater local control in fighting the coronavirus, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday said he would divide Illinois into smaller regions under his reopening plan, separating Chicago and suburban Cook County from other areas not hit as hard by the pandemic.

The governor’s move comes as the state reported another 1,187 coronavirus cases and eight additional deaths from COVID-19. It’s the fourth time this month that the daily caseload has topped the 1,000 mark. The rolling seven-day positivity rate – the percent of positive cases among those newly tested – also crept up to 3.1%, from 2.6% less than a week ago.

The newly reshuffled reopening plan is based on the 11 regions in the state’s Emergency Medical Service regions that are used by state public health officials. Chicago’s collar counties will also be divided into three separate regions under the governor’s updated plan.

The Chicago Democrat cast the retooling as part of a “a more granular approach in this phase of the response to COVID-19.”

Pritzker said the new, smaller regions will give the state more flexibility to combat coronavirus if a locality experiences an outbreak, “to carefully, but deliberately — depending on the severity of the situation — control the spread of the virus while continuing to allow a region to be open to the greatest extent possible.”

Read more here.

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Dispensaries across the state have sold more than $239 million worth of recreational weed since the start of the year.

After campaigning and making good on a promise to lift the statewide prohibition on marijuana, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Tuesday that Illinois collected over $52 million in taxes during the first six months of legalization.

Sales of recreational cannabis started on Jan. 1, when hordes of eager pot buyers flooded the few dozen medical dispensaries that were able to transition into dual-use stores. And with pot businesses deemed essential in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, monthly sales have remained strong.

Weed shops unloaded nearly $48 million in pot products in June, marking the most successful month of sales so far, according to figures released by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. All told, more than $239 million worth of recreational weed has been sold since the start of the year.

More than $34 million of the revenue came from excise taxes, far more than the $28 million Pritzker’s budget estimated the state would collect during the same period. Another $18 million was collected through sales taxes that will be shared with local governments, according to the governor’s office.

The Illinois Department of Revenue estimates that nearly $26 million will go toward the state’s General Revenue Fund.

Read more here.

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“At the July 14 Board meeting, Dr. Harris presented the framework for the district’s Roadmap to Reopening for the 2020-21 school year. The district prepared educational plans and operational protocols based on guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the state’s five-phase reopening plan, Restore Illinois.

As long as Illinois remains in Phase 4, families will have TWO OPTIONS to choose from for the start of the 2020-21 school year. Families who have multiple students enrolled in the district can choose a different option for each child. The first day of school for grades 1-12 is Thursday, August 20. The first day of school for Pre-K and kindergarten is Monday, August 24.

  • IN-PERSON LEARNING: Students will attend school with all proper health protocols and procedures in place.
  • DISTANCE LEARNING: Students will engage in all Distance Learning from the beginning of the 2020-21 school year until Winter Break. This option will include more rigorous guidelines, based on feedback from Distance Learning in Spring 2020. Families will be allowed to change to in-person learning after Winter Break (January 7, 2021). Please note, if an elementary student opts out of in-person learning, the student’s Distance Learning teacher may not be a teacher at that student’s home school. If a middle school student opts out of in-person learning, the student’s Distance Learning teachers may be based out of Barrington Middle School Prairie or Station campuses.

Families who wish to select the Distance Learning option must complete a survey in Infinite Campus, which will be emailed out to all families today at 9:00 AM. Families who wish to do in-person learning, but do not wish to use district-provided bus transportation through Winter Break will also have to complete the survey. Families who plan to return to in-person learning and use district-provided bus transportation this fall DO NOT need to complete the survey.

The deadline to opt out of in-person learning and district provided transportation is Friday, July 24, 2020.”

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While the world may be on pause, homelessness does not stop. Neither does the work Home of the Sparrow does to provide families with shelter, affordable housing, case management, counseling and services when they need it most.

Due to these uncertain times, Home of the Sparrow decided to cancel “Celebration of Women” Luncheon, Casino Night Hope Benefit, and the annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner.

As the nonprofit is still in desperate need of funds, Home of the Sparrow is organizing COVID-19 Relief Online Auction this month, the Oktoberfest Golf Outing on Monday, Sept. 14, and another fundraiser in October.

The COVID-19 Relief Online Auction is starting at 8 a.m. Monday, July 13. The online auction will close at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 23.

This fundraiser will help keep the shelter open 365 days a year, and sustain its programs and services.

To participate, create a free bidding account at www.hosparrow.org/hope-online-auction-2020 and start previewing the items, baskets and packages up for auction.

With over 80 packages, there is something for everyone including trips to Disney, Vegas and Nashville, golf foursomes, date nights, spa packages, local getaways, brewery tours, dine-arounds, wine tastings, family fun, girl’s night out, jewelry and more.

Visit Home of the Sparrow for more information.

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With generous terms and at a time of unprecedented panic as the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns crippled the economy, 202,157 Illinois employers received federal Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loans.

From Atlas Financial Holdings — incorporated in the Cayman Islands with its “principal executive offices” in Schaumburg — to the Joffrey Ballet to Kivvit, the public affairs firm, to Motor Werks of Barrington, Inc., all kinds of Illinois companies, museums, schools, religious-based organizations and nonprofits took out the loans.

There was little incentive not to apply, since the loans don’t have to be repaid if used to meet payrolls, retain workers and cover some overhead. The loan amounts were based on the number of employees. Employers had to certify on the PPP application that “current economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Applicant.”

For loans under $150,000, the top ZIP codes in Illinois include 60010, around Barrington, with $43.7 million.

Automotive: $5 million to $10 million — Patrick Schaumburg Automobiles, 130 jobs; Motor Werks of Barrington, 346 workers.

Read more from the Sun*Times here.

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It was long considered illegal to leave your horse unattended on the streets of Arlington Heights without having it securely fastened somewhere.

How long ago? Until this week.

The village’s lawyer found the antiquated rule on unattended equines and other “draft animals” when she went to update village code about negligent and distracted driving, a far more common occurrence in 21st-century suburbia than horses running loose through the streets.

“I think this may be the last vestige of something that’s truly, truly, truly old,” said Robin Ward, the village’s in-house counsel.

Ward was surprised when she found the old section of municipal code because much of it had been cleaned up during a re-codification in 1995. Before that, the code was updated in the 1960s. But the horse rule likely predates that, into the 1920s, Ward said.

Read more here.

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Barrington, from left, Emmie Iardella, 2, left, and sister, Audrey, 5, drove their kiddie car down Cook Street in Barrington July 4, 2020. Amid public health officials’ calls for social distance due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Barrington was among the municipalities that canceled traditional Fourth of July celebrations this year. Barrington instead held “Take the Parade to the People,” with village vehicles rolling through town for a patriotic celebration. (Karie Angell Luc / Pioneer Press)

The Fourth of July parade in Barrington came to the people Saturday instead of the spectators lining a parade route.

With the traditional July Fourth parade and fireworks canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Barrinton turned to “Take the Parade to the People” for residents.

Some neighbors and visitors didn’t know about the parade until they heard the loud music coming from a Public Works vehicle, pumped out by Bob the DJ disc jockey.

The village’s parade route around Barrington began at 10 a.m. and concluded at about noon. Village officials also let residents hold their own neighborhood parades during those two hours.

Read more here.

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Find a shady spot and have a picnic, take a dip in the pool, light some fireworks tonight (the legal kind, of course) and take lots of pictures. We’ll likely and hopefully never experience a 4th of July like this one again in our lifetime, so do your very best to make it as festive, safe and memorable as you can!

Happy 4th of July!!!

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