Illinois aims to field healthier roster against Purdue

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Illinois has played one more game overall than Big Ten rival Purdue and also has two conference games under its belt compared with zero for the Boilermakers.

While that might be construed as an advantage for the Fighting Illini entering Saturday’s visit to West Lafayette, Ind., injury concerns are a neutralizer.

Illinois (1-3, 1-1) hopes the game will mark the first time the team’s starting center, quarterback and running back share the field in 2021.

Coach Bret Bielema offered encouraging news this week, saying center Doug Kramer and starting running back Chase Brown are expected to play Saturday. Kramer missed last Friday’s 20-17 loss to Maryland with an ailing right foot, while Brown is nursing an undisclosed injury.

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Starting defensive lineman Keith Randolph (undisclosed) also might return as Illinois takes on the Boilermakers (2-1, 0-0).

“I’m excited to hopefully get a little bit deeper and stronger at certain positions,” Bielema said. “We are driven a lot off what we do in practice and the players that we’ve got to play with. When we get healthier and get more consistent with those players practicing, that’s when we’ll make big steps.”

Victory eluded both teams one week ago.

Purdue faced just a four-point deficit entering the fourth quarter at No. 12 Notre Dame before the Fighting Irish pulled away for a 27-13 win.

The Boilermakers lost top receiver David Bell to injury during the game. Bell contributed seven receptions for 64 yards and stands 21 yards shy of 2,000 for his career.

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Whether he gets the chance to match or surpass that mark against Illinois remains to be seen, however. Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said Bell was in the concussion protocol and the team is “seeing how he progresses.”

Fellow receiver Mershawn Rice (foot) also was injured and “will be out for an extended period of time,” Brohm said.

Illinois, meanwhile, squandered a fourth-quarter lead in a loss to visiting Maryland. The Terrapins scored 10 points in the final 2:13, capped by Joseph Petrino’s 32-yard field goal as time expired.

Brohm said Purdue is prepared for an improved and resolved Fighting Illini team.

“They’re 1-1 in the conference; could easily be 2-0,” he said. “They let one slip away against Maryland. They’re playing competitive football. They play aggressive. They’re a physical football team. They’re going to be hungry.”

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Making his first start since sustaining an injury early in the season opener against Nebraska, Illinois quarterback Brandon Peters completed 10 of 26 passes for 185 yards, with an interception.

“There were some learning moments, just like every starting quarterback,” Bielema said. “He’s definitely our starting quarterback this week and moving forward; hopefully, he’s going to continue to improve and get better.”

Purdue’s Jack Plummer and Aidan O’Connell combined for 291 passing yards at Notre Dame, with the former completing 25 of 36 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game with an undisclosed injury.

While Brohm tapped Plummer as the starter against Illinois, that doesn’t guarantee he’ll finish the game.

“Both guys have played for us and have played good football, and like every position on our team, if we have a position we feel good about, we’re not going to be afraid to play multiple guys,” Brohm said.

–Field Level Media

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Illinois professor yelled slurs, spat on black woman: prosecutors

An Illinois professor is facing hate crime charges for yelling racial slurs and spitting in the face of a woman because he “does not like black people,” prosecutors said.

Alberto Friedmann, whose LinkedIn profile identifies him as a professor at the National University of Health Sciences, was charged Sunday with aggravated assault and a hate crime in the alleged Sept. 7 incident outside an Oak Park grocery store, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Prosecutors said Freidmann, 53, of Oak Park, started yelling and honking in his Jaguar stopped behind the woman, who was parked outside a Jewel-Osco with her 7-year-old daughter.

He then got out of his car while allegedly hurling racial slurs and slammed the woman’s car door shut and spit in her face — saying he did so “because he does not like black people,” according to Assistant State’s Attorney Lindsay Ruedig.

The woman’s mother came out of the grocery store and heard the slurs. She also saw Friedmann allegedly spit at her daughter, authorities said. The woman hopped out of her car to get the man’s license plate, prompting him to allegedly accelerate toward her, but she wasn’t struck, Ruedig said.

But Friedmann’s Jaguar hit the woman’s car twice, prosecutors said. Witnesses intervened in the confrontation when he got out of his car a second time and he was later arrested, the Tribune reported.

Store surveillance video captured the incident, but prosecutors didn’t specify Sunday what could be seen or heard on the footage.

The incident happened outside this Jewel Osco in Oak Park, IL.
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An attorney for Friedmann denied that he used any racial slurs during the encounter.

“It’s our position that it’s fabricated that he used any such language,” attorney John McNamara told a judge. “He’s a minority himself. He’s a child of immigrants. This is completely outside of his nature.”

McNamara said Friedmann has a doctorate in kinesiology, exercise science and neurology and currently teaches neurokinesiology at the National University of Health Sciences.

Friedmann’s name, however, was not listed among its faculty members on the university’s website. in A message seeking comment from the school in Lombard was not immediately returned early Tuesday.

Friedmann’s LinkedIn profile identifies him as a professor at the National University of Health Sciences. He previously served as a faculty member at Indiana State University, the profile shows.

A judge ordered Friedman be released on $2,500 bail while barring him from contacting the woman or witnesses. She also said she “couldn’t ignore” that the alleged incident took place in front of the woman’s young child, the Tribune reported.

Friedmann is reportedly due back in court on Wednesday.



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Woman’s obit blames unvaccinated for her COVID death

It was a chilling start to an obituary for an Illinois mom.

“She was preceded in death by more than 4,531,799 others infected with COVID-19. She was vaccinated but was infected by others who chose not to be. The cost was her life,” says the death notice for Candace Cay Ayers.

Ayers of Springfield succumbed Sept. 3 after her family believes she caught the virus while visiting an unvaccinated friend in Mississippi, NBC’s “Today” show reported.

Ayers had received both doses of the Moderna vaccine when she became eligible — but she suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and was immunocompromised, which experts now believe may put her at more risk for breakthrough infections.

But at the time of her trip in July, her family believed that such cases were rare.

“We did everything that we were advised to do,” her son, Marc, told “Today.”

“I wish there was better science out at the time that said maybe they should stay home, maybe these precautions are good for regular people, but [not] for the immunocompromised. I wish doctors had not cleared my mom to travel to Mississippi,” he said.

While preparing her obituary, the woman’s relatives decided they wanted to share a message that they believe Ayers would have approved of.

“Mom was a fighter … and mom was so angry at people for not getting vaccinated and not wearing a mask,” Marc said.  “Mom was very vocal about people who just refused to take those precautions, and so we thought it was a good idea to put that in the obituary and make a statement out of it.”

Ayers and her husband had tested positive for the virus within days of returning from their trip.

She was ultimately admitted to the hospital with pneumonia, then placed on a ventilator, her son said.

“After that, any progress that my mom had made in terms of her lungs getting a little bit better was erased, and the pneumonia took over with a vengeance,” her son said.

“The last week or so of her being alive, her lungs were completely white in the X-ray — they had completely filled up with fluid and infections.”

With her health continuing to deteriorate, doctors advised the family to remove the mother from life support.

“She took about four or five breaths after that, and she passed away right there within a matter of minutes,” her son said.



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Group warns against public financing for Bears stadium

With talk about the Chicago Bears relocating, some have raised concerned about taxpayers picking up the tab for a new stadium.

The team has submitted a bid to buy the Arlington Race Course property in Arlington Heights for possible development. Other parties have reportedly made offers as well.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has called it a “negotiating tactic”, noting the Bears are locked into the Soldier Field lease with the city until 2033.

If the Bears were to move, Brian Costin, deputy state director with Americans for Prosperity, said the team’s owners should pay for the stadium.

“Privately financed and they make it on their own rather than relying on forcing taxpayers to subsidize a company that is owned by billionaires,” Costin said.

Several NFL teams have used public financing to pay for new stadiums, including a 45% share of Minnesota Vikings stadium, and a whopping 86% share in Indianapolis for the Colts stadium.

The Bears previously discussed the possibility of building a stadium in Arlington Heights nearly 50 years ago, but instead renovated Soldier Field with the state of Illinois raising funds to help the team do so. The Bears also undertook a major renovation in 2002.

If the team’s bid is accepted, Costin said the public should be wary of optimistic economic impact studies.

“The sophisticated sales pitch to elected officials to try to convince them that it is wise to take money from the public and the taxpayers and give it to a corporation is unwise and it is not good economics,” Costin said. He added that economic impact studies usually don’t include the cost to the taxpayer.

Costin pointed to Bridgeview’s SeatGeek Stadium, which opened in 2006, as an example of how taxpayers get handed the bill. The Village of Bridgeview issued $135 million in general obligation bonds for the construction of the facility. Bridgeview’s bond rating fell to junk status in 2017 and property taxes have increased.

It takes about five years to build a new NFL stadium, so the earliest the Bears could relocate would be in 2026.

Costin is hopeful the city of Arlington Heights won’t give the Bears a free ride to locate there.

“If you are going to be a contributing member to the community that you’re in, you should be treated just like every other business and every other resident in that community and pay your property taxes like everyone else,” Costin said.





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Study shows reasons why some Illinoisans not vaccinated

A new study is revealing some of the reasons why Illinoisans have yet to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 6.6 million or 61.1% of people 12 and older in Illinois are fully vaccinated.

Nick VinZant with QuoteWizard says there are five main reasons Illinoisans have avoided the shot.

“People are worried about side effects, they are waiting to see what’s going to happen with the vaccine, they don’t believe they need it, they don’t trust the government, or they don’t trust the vaccine specifically,” said VinZant.

Southern Illinois’ ICU beds filled up this week with unvaccinated people as cases of the Delta variant rise. According to IDPH, vaccination numbers are considerably lower downstate.

In Edwards County, 29% of people are fully vaccinated, in Fayette and Hamilton counties, 28% are fully vaccinated, and in Alexander County, 16% are fully vaccinated.

VinZant said the survey showed that race was not a factor.

“There is really not a big difference depending on race or ethnicity when we look at vaccine hesitance,” said VinZant. “Where we see the big differences is when we look at vaccine hesitancy in regards to education and regard to age.”

Older populations are more likely to get vaccinated, with only 4% of people 65 and older avoiding the vaccine. Those with less than a high school diploma were more likely to avoid the shot than someone with a college education.

Possibly because of the rise in cases of the Delta variant, VinZant says the tide is changing a bit in Illinois.

“Especially over the last two weeks,” said VinZant. “They are less concerned about side effects and they are less willing to wait to get vaccinated.”

During that time, those concerned about side effects have fallen from 65 percent to 57 percent, and those who don’t think COVID-19 is a threat fell from 21 percent to 13 percent.

Nationwide, 40% of those surveyed who have not been vaccinated don’t trust the government, and 21% don’t think COVID is a threat.





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Illinois judge to rule on Pritzker’s latest motion to dismiss dining prohibition lawsuit

A judge may soon rule on if a restaurant’s challenge to the governor’s prohibition of indoor dining last year amid COVID-19 orders should be dismissed.

Last year, Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a statewide stay-at-home order as the pandemic hit. After a phased in opening, in the fall he triggered different restaurant capacity limits for different areas of the state based on COVID metrics. In Kane County, he prohibited indoor dining for weeks.

FoxFire in Geneva sued Pritzker last fall. With many status hearings and even amended complaints by the restaurant, the latest motion to dismiss from the governor was heard this week.

Attorneys for FoxFire and Pritzker argued Wednesday in a virtual Sangamon County Court hearing before Circuit Judge Raylene Grischow regarding if the motion to dismiss was proper.

Early on, litigants discussed the original counts brought by FoxFire. Grischow said there are facts throughout that may be considered.

“[FoxFire attorney Kevin Nelson] brings up the quarantine statue, which I have been waiting for months and months for someone to bring up and no one has brought it up and finally now that I look at the facts on all counts, Mr. Nelson does raise that,” Grishow said. “Shutting down a business is a form of quarantine. … I think that is an issue that is ripe for argument.”

Pritzker’s attorneys said no specific allegation has been made by FoxFire and the governor had a reasonable right to limit activity during the pandemic.

“The governor has authority to control occupancy of premises,” Pritzker attorney Darren Kinkead said during the hearing. He also said the governor can control the sale of food and commodities.

“It’s very broad powers,” Kinkead said of Pritzker’s orders last fall.

He argued FoxFire has not proven a fundamental right was violated.

“Foxfire has been arguing that what has occurred here is tantamount to a full business closure … the indoor dining restaurant can’t do outdoor dining in the winter time,” Nelson replied, noting FoxFire doesn’t do carryout or deliver. “People don’t like eating a fine steak on cardboard.”

After the hearing, Nelson said in an interview the governor has attempted at least four different times to have the case dismissed.

“The Second District says ‘no, there’s a claim here, and here’s what a trial should look like,’ so the fact that the governor keeps trying to come back and get this entire case dismissed, not on the merits, but summarily dismissed is inappropriate, but that’s what they’re doing,” Nelson said.

Nelson said they’re getting discovery documents for if there is a trial, but there’s an impasse on getting substantive information. He told the judge 99.9% of the documents they’re getting from the governor through the discovery process are redacted or not pertinent to the case.

Brining finality to the case sooner than later is important, he said.

“Precedent is a slippery slope,” Nelson said after the hearing. “The governor shutdown indoor dining at restaurants for more than three months in Kane County and that has not been declared improper and then from there, because he thinks he can do that, then he launches into other various things that go further such as mask mandates in schools to who knows about vaccines.”

A status hearing is set for next month. The judge could rule on the governor’s latest motion to dismiss before then.





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Boeing to build Navy planes in Illinois

A new high-tech Navy plane will be built in Illinois.

Boeing has announced it will build the MQ-250 Stingray unmanned aerial refueler at a nearly 300,000 square foot facility at the MidAmerica Airport in Mascoutah. It is the Navy’s first carrier-based unmanned aircraft.

Construction of the facility is expected to begin later this year and be completed by 2024. As part of its agreement with the state, Boeing has committed to an initial investment of at least $200 million over 15 years.

“Right here, MidAmerica Airport, it is a cornfield now, but it is going to be a field of dreams when it comes to aviation and protecting America,” said Senator Dick Durbin at Friday’s announcement.

For two years, Boeing and the Navy have been flight testing the MQ-25 test asset from MidAmerica Airport, where in recent missions it has refueled a F/A-18 Super Hornet and an F35C Lightning II.

The new production center is expected to create 150 initial jobs, including mechanics, engineers and support staff, but officials say employment could reach up to 300 with additional orders.

“The team and state-of-the-art technology we’re bringing to the Navy’s MQ-25 program is unprecedented, and we’re incredibly proud to be expanding both as we build the future of autonomous systems in Illinois,” said Kristen Robertson, general manager of Autonomous Systems at Boeing Defense, Space and Security.

The Navy intends to procure more than 70 Stingray aircraft, and a majority of those will be built at the new facility.

The new MQ-25 facility will be in addition to existing manufacturing operations at Boeing St. Clair, which produces components for the CH-47 Chinook, F/A-18 Super Hornet, and other defense projects.



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Pritzker signs measure subsidizing energy while closing coal plants

A sweeping bipartisan energy plan for the state of Illinois over the next quarter of a century is now law after Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a nearly thousand-page bill.

Pritzker has been pushing for more reliance on renewable energy since he took office. On Wednesday, he signed Senate Bill 2408  in Chicago.

He said extreme weather events are too common and “there is no time to lose.”

“But what we can do, what we must do, and thanks to the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act Illinois is doing is to fight to stop and even reverse the damage that has been done to our climate,” Pritzker said before signing the bill.

The law closes coal-fired power plants by 2045 while giving five years’ worth of ratepayer subsidies for nuclear power plants to the tune of $700 million. But, there is oversight of Exelon that state Sen. Michael Hastings, D-Frankfort, said is crucial.

“You will be subject to some of the most sweeping ethics reforms ever to affect the public utility industry and rightly so because you did wrong and you need to be held accountable,” Hastings said.

ComEd, an Exelon subsidiary, entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors in 2020. The utility admitted to paying associates of former House Speaker Michael Madigan in money and jobs in order to curry favor with Madigan. Com-Ed agreed to pay a $200 million fine and cooperate in the investigation. Madigan has denied wrongdoing and has not been charged with a crime.

State Rep. Adam Niemerg, R-Dietrich, equated it to a tax increase with everyone paying more.

“$18 billion that’s going to go out over the next 30 years for solar from the Illinois taxpayers,” Niemerg said. “This is all subsidized by us. This is all going to come out of our pockets.”

Other opponents raised concerns about eminent domain issues they say allows private companies to take farm property with no benefit to Illinois.

But, some Republicans were supportive of the bill, like state Rep. David Welter and state Sen. Sue Rezin, both from Morris with nuclear power generation facilities that were slated to close costing thousands of jobs.

Niemerg worried closing coal and natural gas power will cost more jobs as employers find cheaper energy in other states. He didn’t mince words in his opposition to the bill saying for years the narrative has changed from concerns over the ozone layer to global warming, doomsday clocks, to climate change.

“Think about it, it’s just a big money grab and you can continually say ‘oh, we got another five years, we have another ten years, oh, dang we didn’t meet these standards, oh hey it’s okay, we looked at this and it looks like we’ve got a little more time,’” he said. “Folks, it’s a scam. It’s a scam.”

Various business groups, from the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, opposed the bill over increased utility costs and reliability issues.

Various labor and environmental coalitions praised the bill.

“The wait is over, but our work is not,” said a statement from the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition. ”We look forward to collaborating on the implementation of this comprehensive climate and equitable jobs plan to ensure that no one is left behind on Illinois’ path to a 100% clean energy future.”





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Hearing delves into what went wrong in Illinois nursing homes during pandemic

The Illinois Department of Public Health was in the hot seat Wednesday during a House committee hearing on nursing home reform.

Nursing homes and long-term care facilities house a small part of the U.S. population, but are estimated to account for about 3 in 10 deaths from COVID-19. IDPH reported 46% of all deaths from COVID-19 in Illinois occurred in long-term care facilities.

Lawmakers had questions for IDPH representative Becky Dragoo, including the number of deaths in long-term care facilities during the pandemic, and the number of nursing homes that were cited by the state for a lack of protocols.

State Rep. Lakeshia Collins, D-Chicago, was not happy that Dragoo did not provide the number of deaths in Illinois nursing homes during the pandemic.

“If there’s no numbers that you can present to us when we get on these calls and you have to give us a follow-up, that’s a problem because you know we are going to ask these questions,” Collins said.

Collins said she believes a lack of staff is the cause of many problems in facilities. She said residents have been experiencing issues during the pandemic, but facilities aren’t reporting those issues to the state.

“The physical restraints, the dehydration, the bed sores, the workers injuries, all of that is related to one root cause and that is short staffing,” Collins said.

In August, Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued an executive order requiring health care workers, including in nursing homes, to get vaccinated against COVID-19. He also signed into law legislation that addresses the lack of personal connection brought on by the pandemic by requiring long-term care facilities to ensure virtual communication is facilitated among residents and family during a public health emergency.

As for accountability by nursing home facilities, Dragoo said IDPH is aware of problem operations around the state.

“Our databases allow us to look at a nursing home all of their previous annual inspections, all of the complaint inspections to determine what deficiencies they have,” she said.

The agency has been criticized for the outbreak at the LaSalle Veterans Home, which killed 36 residents. A scathing Illinois Department of Human Services Inspector General report said a lack of COVID-19 plans and failures in leadership contributed to the deadly outbreak.

State Rep. Mary E. Flowers, D-Chicago, said officials at IDPH have played a role in the state’s long-term care facilities.

“You knew COVID was there and your agency didn’t do anything to isolate or protect those patients, and so they didn’t have a choice but to die,” Flowers said.





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Lawyer Wins Mask Mandate Lawsuit in Two Illinois School Districts

On Wednesday, prolific anti-COVID mitigation attorney Thomas Devore had successfully argued in two separate County courts for two separate school districts that mask mandates constitute a form of quarantine under Illinois law and that mask mandates can only be issued by the local health department.

Devore is methodically taking cases to court to break down the power the schools have taken regarding quarantine rules. The state defines all of these things as a form of quarantine, which by law requires a court order: quarantine (keeping kids out of school for a time), masks, testing for disease, and vaccines.

One of those school districts is the Teutopolis School District in Effingham County, the same school district that confined five students in isolation in separate rooms for several hours for not wearing a mask as a way of protesting the school’s mask mandate. You can read the rest here:

Teutopolis, IL School District Confines Five Students in Isolation for Hours as Punishment for Protesting Mask Mandate

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Paragraph A in the order states, “While the Children are on school property, the Defendants, are enjoined from requiring any or all of the Children to utilize any type of device, including a mask, for the purposes of allegedly preventing the spread of an infectious disease unless an order of quarantine has issues against any or all of the Children from the local health department as required by the Illinois State Board of Education.”

Edgar County Watchdogs has a report on this:

The Chief Judge of the Fourth Circuit, Judge Douglas L. Jarman, issued a Temporary Restraining Order, for 30 days, this morning against the Teutopolis Unit 50 School District as it pertains to mask mandates.

It was argued successfully by Tom DeVore that a mask is a device intended, allegedly, to limit disease transmission. That being the case, the authority to place such a device on a person is limited to the power give within the laws established for quarantine through the local health departments.

The judge issued the TRO based on the following: the children have rights, masking constitutes quarantine, a mask mandate creates irreparable harm, the Plaintiff would likely succeed on the merits.

The other school district that was given a TRO for 30 days is the Carlyle School District in Clinton County. The entire school district is free from masks and this applies to all students.

Paragraph A on the court order states, “While the Children are on school property, the Defendants, are enjoined from requiring any or all of the Children who attend within the school district to utilize any type of device, including a mask, for the purposes of allegedly preventing the spread of an infectious disease unless an order of quarantine has issues against any or all of the Children from the local health department as required by the Illinois State Board of Education.”

A happy parent was thanking Devore for all his hard work in fighting unconstitutional mandates saying, “Off to school, mask free. Thank you, Thomas DeVore!.” Then Devore reposted the post with a caption, “Seeing pictures like this makes the stress all worth it. Go save the world young man!!!”

Devore previously won cases on quarantine, moves on to masks, now is eyeing up testing and vaccines. He’s one of the only people in the state pushing back against Pritzker and winning.

He is running for election for judge of the Illinois 5th District Appellate Court. DeVore declared candidacy for the 2022 election.

Here is the video where he discussed masks and vaccine mandates:





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