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News Around Illinois – Sept. 11, 2020

The latest news around the state for Sept. 11, 2020.

Illinois Files Lawsuit Against E-Cigarette Maker Juice Man

CHICAGO (AP) — The Illinois attorney general sued e-cigarette maker Juice Man on Thursday, alleging deceptive marketing practices aimed at enticing youth. The move follows a similar Illinois complaint filed in December against Juul, the nation’s biggest e-cigarette maker. Juice Man, based in Dana Point, California, focused on children and teens with flavors like cotton candy and through social media advertising using cartoons and giveaways. The company also misled consumers on the amount of nicotine in its products, according to the lawsuit filed in Cook County. Attorney General Kwame Raoul said the lawsuit caps an investigation and is timely as COVID-19 can cause severe breathing problems. The lawsuit seeks civil penalties and to end the alleged deceptive practices. – Sophia Tareen, Associated Press

Here’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Plan To Remove Chicago’s Lead Pipes

After decades of forcing Chicagoans to install lead water lines in their homes, the city is finally launching a program to remove them. Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday announced Chicago’s inaugural plan to address its huge inventory of toxic lead lines – a problem that was exacerbated by some mayors, ignored by others and is now being cautiously approached by the latest. “This is an important first step in a long overdue process,” Lightfoot said at a press conference with officials from the city’s Water and Public Health Departments. With 400,000 lead service lines lurking beneath Chicago homes, the city faces the worst documented lead line problem in the nation. About 80 percent of all Chicago homes are still connected to water mains through these lines, which can release lead into drinking water. Voluntary tests in Chicago detected lead in more than two thirds of all homes tested. And about one third of all tested homes had more lead in their water than is allowed in bottled water. National health authorities stress that no level of lead exposure is safe, as it can contribute to heart attacks, hypertension and kidney problems in adults and impulsivity and learning difficulties in children. – Monica Eng, WBEZ

Aurora Approves $89,000 in New Riot Gear

The Aurora City Council approved the purchase of riot gear for the police department. The move was not without controversy. The Aurora City Council voted 8-3 in favor of a resolution to buy 150 complete sets of the gear for the Aurora Police Department. Supporters say that, after the recent protests in Aurora, the police need the equipment to keep them safe. But Viviana Barajas from the Aurora Rapid Response Team told the council that more riot gear wasn’t the way to go. “I’m telling you that no amount of riot gear is going to stop the protests. No amount of fear mongering on behalf of APD is going to stop the protests,” she continued. “The only thing that will stop the protest, and we’ll finally get community to come together is if y’all listen. Alderman Emmanuel Llamas voted against the resolution. He cited concerns that the purchase seems redundant. He said, “We currently have 50 sets of Riot Gear, and it’s only been used once in the last 25 years. And that came straight from APD at the last city council meeting. Are we really being fiscally responsible by purchasing an additional hundred and 50 sets that we likely will never use?” The estimated cost is $89,000 dollars. The city council also approved a resolution to implement officer-worn body cameras. – Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco, WNIJ

Bloomington Bar Facing Violations Hires Attorney At Center Of COVID Resistance

The owner of a Bloomington bar accused of repeatedly violating COVID-19 safety rules has hired a well-known attorney who has been at the center of resistance to public health guidance statewide. Cadillac Jack’s, 1507 S. Main St., faces three liquor license violations for allegedly not enforcing the state’s mask requirement on several occasions over Labor Day weekend. Authorities ordered everyone to leave the bar early Sunday morning, city officials said. City officials said Cadillac Jack’s was the only establishment to ignore “multiple warnings” as Bloomington Police conducted around 50 compliance checks that weekend. The Bloomington Liquor Commission was scheduled to discuss the violations and the bar’s liquor license during a meeting Thursday afternoon. But that meeting was delayed at the request of bar owner William Bentley’s newly retained lawyer, Thomas DeVore. DeVore, based in southern Illinois, has been involved in litigation across Illinois related to COVID-19, usually in opposition to the Pritzker administration. He represented state Rep. Darren Bailey, a Republican from Xenia, Ill., who made headlines for challenging the legality of the governor’s emergency actions on COVID. Devore also sued the Bloomington-based Illinois High School Association over whether it had the authority to enforce mask mandates for student-athletes. DeVore has argued that bar and restaurant owners are “under political attack.” He’s also cast doubt on the accuracy of COVID-19 numbers released by public health officials. – Ryan Denham, WGLT

ISU President Dietz Says COVID-19 Numbers Don’t Tell The Whole Story

Illinois State University President Larry Dietz in Thursday’s State of the University address painted a picture of an institution that’s doing mostly well, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Dietz noted a minimal decline in enrollment, after fears that students would instead opt for community college or a gap semester rather than pay full tuition for online classes. He lauded tireless efforts by administrators, faculty and staff to adapt to changing guidance. Dietz commended students, too, for contributions to the Bloomington-Normal community and general willingness to follow the rules—with the exception of what Dietz called a small portion who are acting irresponsibly. “The majority of you are the citizens that make Illinois State University proud,” Dietz said “But some of you can and must do better, or risk your association with this institution.” Dietz also pushed back on media reports that “suggested Illinois State compares poorly to other Illinois public universities” on viral spread. “The truth is, many state universities don’t test nearly as much as Illinois State, and don’t transparently report positive cases as does ISU. Other universities test so often that their positivity rates skew lower through simple division,” Dietz said. “The ultimate fact is the coronavirus impacts Illinois universities in a similar fashion. The more students, the more likely the incidence of coronavirus, and creative counting and reporting doesn’t alter that fact.” Direct comparisons of public universities are difficult. The University of Illinois, for example, invented a new faster, cheaper COVID-19 test and has run it hundreds of thousands of times on students and employees since August. And the Urbana campus has changed testing rules as the school learned from data. The latest iteration requires graduate students, faculty, and staff to test just once a week because 95% of positive tests came from undergraduate students. Undergraduates at the U of I must still test twice per week. Northern Illinois University, by contrast, only began surveillance testing last week. – Dana Vollmer and Ryan Denham, WGLT

Picture of Jose Zepeda

Jose Zepeda

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