Erin Allen: Good morning. Welcome to Friday. I'm Erin Allen and this is The Rundown. It’s spring now, which means we can officially reflect on the winter season. Now, I know I’ve complained about the weather even though winter happens every single year. I mean it’s what we midwesterners do though right? But one thing we can’t really complain about is how generally mild it’s been these last few months. The Chicago Tribune is reporting that this has been one of Chicago’s warmest winters ever. From Dec. 1st to the end of February was the city’s fourth warmest winter period in the last 70 years. And it was the 14th warmest since we started recording this back in 1872. The Tribune spoke to Illinois state climatologist, Trent Ford, who said that yes, this is partially due to climate change, but naturally occurring weather patterns were also at play here. I mean some of those even warmer winters were back in the late 19th century. A warm winter means spring plant growth is about two or three weeks ahead of schedule, which makes buds and blossoms vulnerable to freezing. The plants that are most likely to be affected are tulips, daffodils, elderberry bushes and fruit-bearing trees. Uhg. Bitter sweet.
Federal COVID relief efforts have been a saving grace for all types of folks these last couple years. But it ain't gonna last forever. I mean extensions to SNAP benefits have already ended and Medicaid extensions are ending after this month. And in 2025, relief money for school districts will be ending too. I know it seems far away, but The Chicago Board of Education is already bracing for this. My colleague Sarah Karp is reporting that, yeah, next year's budget will be stable. With extra teachers and grants for schools with low enrollment. But once they lose that relief money in two years, the school district will face a deficit of more than $600 million. Board president Miguel del Valle said the state needs to do something.
Miguel del Valle: We hope that the next mayor will call president welsh and speaker harman and say it is time for us to get real on this. We have stalled long enough.
Erin Allen: THE CEO of Chicago Public School's said COVID relief money has allowed CPS to increase staff to quote “what it needed all along.”
So polystyrene foam, most people call it styrofoam. And it’s been a useful material for sure, in packaging and restaurant take-out. But if I’m being honest, whenever I see how scorched it looks from my hot dinner being packed inside, I can’t stop thinking about all those toxins seeping into my food. And the jury’s still out on how harmful they are to the environment. Well the Illinois House of Representatives just passed a proposal to end the use of takeout food containers that are made of polystyrene foam. The bill’s sponsor is Democratic Representative Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz. She says these containers are often not recycled and end up in landfills.
Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz: I think it depends on how you define recyclable. And I think there’s been some debate about that but I think there’s some disagreement as to whether or not it is truly recyclable.
Erin Allen: Republican Representative Dave Severin is one of the opponents of the measure. He says it would hurt companies that produce styrofoam in Illinois. If it passes in the Senate, the ban would go into effect January 1st, 2024, with some exceptions for small businesses, food pantries, and soup kitchens. They would have until 2025.
You ever look at the design of the Illinois state flag and go, “I could do better.” Well you might be able to try your hand at this soon. The Illinois Senate just passed a measure that would allow the public to submit designs for a new state flag. The proposal by Democratic Senator Doris Turner would create a commission to review designs. She says this will help get people interested in state government again.
Doris Turner: People talk all the time about how disconnected the citizenry is with government and I think this is a great opportunity to get people a reason to get excited about Illinois again.
Erin Allen: Now Republican Senator Steve McClure questioned why the flag should be changed.
Steve McClure: I think my thought is that we have a lot of challenges in our state right now and we have limited resources, and we need to work to solve those challenges.
Erin Allen: The commission would make recommendations to the General Assembly, which would decide if a new flag is adopted.
And now for a few quick hits. The third and last Illinois guard that was convicted of fatally beating Larry Earvin has been sentenced to 6 years in Federal prison. Larry Earvin was a 65-year-old who was in prison at the time, and the guard, Willie Hedden, pleaded guilty to civil rights violations and obstruction charges and cooperated with prosecutors. Now, his two co-defendants did not, and they got 20 years each. Parents and early childhood educators, The Illinois House has also passed a measure that would require full-day kindergarten in all Illinois schools by 2027. Opponents say they’re worried about unfunded mandates like this. But Democratic State Representative Cyril Nichols says kids – and their futures – need to be prioritized.
And in the weather, it’s overcast today with a high in the low to mid 40s. Tonight, expect rain off and on. On Saturday there’s a chance of rain and even snow, temperatures in the mid to high 30s. Later this afternoon, we’re talking improv comedy with an all black ensemble at Second City – a couple folks from the show Dance like there are black people watching will be here.
Arleita Hall: A lot of what me and Adonis do onstage naturally is match eachother. I watch whatever he do, and I'm look "Oooh! What is he doing?" We pick up on each other to the point where we'll be saying, "What are we doing!." It's very insane. So it's just like following the leader of what they're doing, and doing it at the same time.
Erin Allen: Ensemble members Adonis Holmes and Arleita Hall are cracking jokes and I’ll be crackin’ up, this afternoon at 2 p.m. Talk to you then.
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