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GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Veto session begins next week. The Illinois General Assembly will convene in Tuesday, October 18, with a congressional redistricting map as the chief focus of attention. In addition to redistricting, issues of violent crime, COVID-19 mandates, and the State’s increasing debt load will continue to be issues of concern for House Republican members. In addition to Illinois’ “general obligation” debt, Illinois taxpayers owe hundreds of billions of dollars in pension debt and a new, nearly $5 billion debt owed by Illinois’ Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.

As the Great Depression deepened in the early 1930s, and Americans’ anger toward bankers and the wealthy rose, a new kind of anti-hero emerged: the prairie bank robber. Through the early 1930s newspapers were filled with increasingly thrilling accounts of brazen heists and getaways by characters like Pretty Boy Floyd, Bonnie and Clyde, Machine Gun Kelly, Alvin Karpis and perhaps the most famous of the 1930s bandits, John Dillinger.

REDISTRICTING
Congressional redistricting hearings begin. The General Assembly has not yet enacted a map to govern the election, starting in 2022, of the Illinois members of the U.S. House of Representatives. As with maps for the Illinois General Assembly, the new maps are supposed to reflect the population numbers generated by the 2020 U.S. Census. Close observers of Illinois politics believe that the Democrats will introduce a map that will have boundary lines drawn to help members of their party and hurt Republicans. 
One hundred and fifty years ago today the city of Chicago dodged a major bullet.

By Saturday October 7, 1871, Chicago was a flourishing prairie metropolis, one of the fastest growing cities in the nation. The expanding railroad network of the western United States – which had just recently reached the west coast – had its hub in the city by the shores of Lake Michigan, and eastern investors were pouring more funds into the city’s growth every day.

REDISTRICTING
Pritzker again breaks pledge to voters, signs second partisan legislative map. In May 2021 and again in August 2021, the Democrats who make up the majorities of both houses of the General Assembly passed bills to remap the Illinois House and Senate. The maps, enthusiastically supported by Democrats, contained map lines intended to give districts to many of them where they could look forward to almost automatic re-elections.
Babe Ruth greeted by Lou Gehrig at home plate.
Photo from the National Baseball Hall of Fame. 
As the Major League Baseball playoffs get underway next week some Illinoisans might be tempted to look back on the history of October baseball in our state. There have been some bright spots, like the crosstown series all the way back in 1906, and the Sox and Cubs both breaking their long title droughts in 2005 and 2016 respectively.

But Chicago’s October baseball history has some moments that are not so pleasant. While most of the details of the Black Sox scandal of 1919 are well established, and Cub fans are painfully aware of the particulars of the now-defunct curse of the billy goat, an incident at Wrigley Field in the 1932 World Series (which may not have actually happened at all) still inspires discussion and debate today.

Did Babe Ruth really call his shot?
COVID-19

Availability of ICU beds in Illinois. Illinois is currently in Phase 5 mitigation for COVID-19, with most public activities allowed if people wear facemasks indoors. However, the highly contagious “Delta variant” of COVID-19 is gripping Illinois and the nation, leading to increased coronavirus case counts and hospitalizations. One key variable, the number of available intensive care unit (ICU) beds, continues to show troublesome numbers. Statewide ICU bed availability has been under 20% continuously for the past two weeks, and in mid-September ICU bed availability in Southern Illinois dropped down to zero. These numbers matched the patient counts in states adjacent to Illinois, and states such as Kentucky and Missouri may be putting pressure on Illinois hospital care and infrastructure.