Illinois Receives 2 Bids In Sale Of Dilapidated Thompson Center

by Sloan T. Wilson, The Chicago Times

October 12, 2021

CHICAGO — According to state authorities, two offers have been received for the 1.2 million square-foot Thompson Center at 100 W. Randolph St.

The specifics of the ideas will not be published until a winning plan is chosen.  J. B. Pritzker, the governor, is likely to select one of the bids before the end of the year.  The transaction might be completed as early as April 2022.

In May, Pritzker issued Requests for Proposals for the sale of the Thompson Center.

“The sale of the Thompson Center has been discussed for nearly 20 years and we are taking another important step to making it a reality . . . selling the property provides a unique opportunity to maximize taxpayer savings, create thousands of union jobs, generate millions of dollars in real estate taxes to benefit the City of Chicago and spur economic development.” Pritzker said in a statement.

According to the state, bringing the 1.2 million square foot facility up to date would cost more than $325 million.  Additionally, it is estimated maintenance and restoration would exceed $525 million by 2026.

Illinois rents office space in seven Chicago Loop locations for $21.3 million per year in base rent and operational expenditures.  The state now occupies roughly 780,000 square feet of Thompson Center space.

The Thompson Center, designed by the late Helmut Jahn, opened in 1985 and encompasses a whole city block of valuable real estate.

Joliet West High School Out Of Control

by T. C. Mayfield, The Chicago Times

October 5, 2021

JOLIET, IL – Some concerned parents want out of Joliet school district as a result of increased violence against students and staff.

As of today, Joliet West High School has seen 70 suspensions and one arrest.  Prompting the school board to convene a special meeting Tuesday to discuss the issue.

In a sickening display of disrespect and complete breakdown of discipline, the principal of Joliet West High School, Teresa Gibson, was assaulted by students when attempting to break up a fight.  Students took footage of the assault and failed to intervene.

Superintendent Karla Guseman described it as “embarrassing and harmful to the community.”

She prepared a letter in which she reminded students and parents that fighting and videotaping are grounds for expulsion from school.

The letter says, in part: “You incite violence and have a detrimental impact on the children who are here to learn.  We recognize that you may have been affected by the pandemic, but this does not excuse your behavior.  In our classrooms, your acts will not be tolerated.” Guseman wrote.

The district is taking initiatives to reduce tardiness and keep pupils in their classrooms rather than the hallways.


by Sloan T. Wilson

October 4, 2021

SPRINGFIELD, IL — According to the National Energy Assistance Directors Association, natural gas customers in Chicago and the suburbs will be forced to shell out hundreds of dollars more during the upcoming heating season.

Natural gas prices are rising across the country and around the world.  But that is only part of the reason Chicago residents’ utility bills are expected to rise by 35% to 50%.

Consumer advocates point out that roughly one-third of Chicagoans are currently not paying their gas utility bills since a change in state law in 2013 in which allowed natural gas utilities to tack on infrastructure improvement costs to consumer monthly bills.

Lower natural gas prices in recent years have helped to conceal this, but that is about to change, resulting in some very unpleasant sticker shock for those who heat with gas.

According to Crain’s, the cost of gas will rise to $938 for Chicagoans and $693 for suburban residents this heating season.


by T. C. Mayfield, The Chicago Times

October 1, 2021

WINFIELD, IL — Winfield police are seeking for a person who attempted to kidnap a victim on Tuesday night.

According to WPD, the incident occurred around 6:40 p.m. near the walking route at the east end of Beecher Avenue.  The victim was walking in the neighborhood when a white male between the ages of 25 and 35 with dark hair and dark eyes approached her from behind and began chasing her.

The suspect was dressed in a black long sleeve shirt, dark pants, black shoes, and a black hat at the time of the crime, according to police.

The victim last saw the suspect walking westbound on Beecher Avenue toward Church Street.

The Winfield Police Department is seeking anyone who lives near Beecher Avenue and has outside video surveillance to review their footage between 6:15 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 28.

If you notice any questionable activity, please notify Corporal Caringella at (630) 933-7160.

FDA Approves Abbott’s Epic Plus Tissue Valves Use In Mitral or Aortic Valve Replacement

by Sloan T. Wilson, The Chicago Times

September 28, 2021

GREEN OAKS, IL — The Epic Plus and Epic Plus Supra Stented Tissue Valves from Abbott have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to improve therapy options for people with aortic or mitral valve disease.  These next-generation devices are based on Abbott’s Epic surgical valve platform, which has a long history of safety and good clinical outcomes and include innovations that make valve implantation and future cardiac interventions easier.

Heart valve disease occurs when one or more of the heart’s four valves fails to open or close properly, causing blood flow to the body to be disrupted. The aortic and mitral valves are the most commonly affected.  When diseased or damaged heart valves cannot be repaired, they can be surgically replaced with mechanical or bioprosthetic (tissue) valves during an open-heart surgery.  Epic Plus bioprosthetic valves do not require long-term use of blood-thinning medication, making them the preferred option for people who cannot take blood thinners or are over the age of 70.

Every year, over 100,000 people in the United States undergo conventional heart valve surgery, which is often a life-saving procedure.  The new Epic Plus tissue valves’ approval provides an important treatment option for patients undergoing valve replacement surgery without the need for long-term blood thinners, as well as a durable solution that allows for reinterventions as needed.

More radiopaque markers (reference points visible on radiographic scans) have been added to Epic Plus, making it easier for doctors to navigate if future transcatheter procedures are required.

The new valves, like the Epic surgical valve platform, are designed to provide long-term performance and durability thanks to Abbott’s proprietary anticalcification technology.

The Epic Plus Mitral holder, which aids in the precise insertion of the valve, also has a lower profile, allowing physicians a better view of the device during implantation.  The device can be implanted in either the aortic or mitral valve position, as well as in patients with more complex anatomies.

The Epic Plus Stented Tissue Valves are the newest addition to Abbott’s surgical tissue and mechanical heart valve portfolio.

Pritzker Approves Possible Inequitable Legislative Maps

by Frank Conklin, The Chicago Times

September 24, 2021

SPRINGFIELD, IL — Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed off on new legislative maps for the next decade on Friday, despite concerns from some Black and Latino voters that they would not be able to weigh in and would be unfairly represented.

Pritzker approved maps drawn up by his fellow Democrats for the second time, despite promising as a candidate in 2018 that he would veto any made by politicians.  He also signed an earlier version, which Democrats approved in May but critics said was flawed because it was based on population estimates.

Republicans and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund have filed lawsuits in federal court in Chicago to prevent the new maps from being used in elections.  Lawyers for MALDEF claim the maps violate the federal Voting Rights Act by creating fewer districts with a majority of Latinos of voting age, despite the fact that Latinos make up a larger percentage of the state’s population than they did a decade ago.

The United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations, which advocates for the “equitable advancement of marginalized communities,” claimed that the new maps “weaken the voting power of Black and Latino community members and largely ignore Asian American and Arab American communities.”

CHANGE Illinois, which advocates for an independent map-drawing process, noted that Latino groups that have filed lawsuits claim that Latino power has been diluted, Black activists claim that the map does not create enough Black majority voting age districts, and Jewish communities on Chicago’s north side and north suburbs have been divided.

Pritzker’s defense is that as a candidate in 2018, he advocated for the establishment of an independent commission, and when Democrats in complete control of state government failed to do so, lawmakers faced a June 30 deadline to complete the map.  However, June 30 was simply the date on which Democrats would have lost control of the process. At that point, it would have been up to a bipartisan commission comprised of an equal number of Democrats and Republicans — the process that critics want a federal judge to initiate. Democrats refer to this as the “real political process,” and they want to avoid it for a variety of reasons, including the fact that a ninth member would be chosen at random to break any tie votes, potentially giving the GOP the final say.

Illinois Democrats have not yet voted on new congressional district boundaries, but with the state losing a House seat due to population loss, it is expected that they will remove a GOP-held district and try to make other districts more Democratic-friendly.

Frank Conklin, Illinois Political Reporter/Columnist for The Chicago Times.  Views and comments expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the official position of The Chicago Times.