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Sustaining journalism in a pandemic: ‘We need each other’

CIMAZoomMeetingLaugh...

Members of the Chicago Independent Media Alliance share a laugh during a recent Zoom event to promote the organization. CIMA recently raised more than $160,000 for its member news organizations with a fundraiser that had been planned for 2021 but was bumped way up the calendar because of the impacts the COVID-19 pandemic was having on their revenue.

 

Fast-tracked fundraiser generates $160K-plus for Chicago media outlets

By CHRISTOPHER HEIMERMAN
For Illinois Press Association

CHICAGO – The writing has long been on the wall for plucky, vital weekly newspapers: If new revenue streams aren’t created, the light that media outlets shine on their communities, many of them underserved, will be dimmed if not put out altogether.

Tracy Baim, a legendary journalist who co-founded her first publication in the city in 1985, is the publisher of the Chicago Reader, which has covered the city with a unique literary voice and a fine focus on the arts. Unearthing corruption is a hallmark of the Reader, as well.

“We’ve seen corruption increase, and scandals and politicians that have gone unchallenged,” Baim said. “Corruption loves when newspapers die.”

Seeing the plight of her publications – she also owns the Windy City Times – and her colleagues throughout the city, she hatched an idea last year to form an alliance that would unite outlets in the spirit of collaborating and, in turn, becoming more viable.

The kickstarting initiative for what would become the Chicago Independent Media Alliance, was a mass fundraiser that would happen in 2021.

Then the pandemic hit, and Baim buried the accelerator on a project that was rolling along at a comfortable pace. A website needed to be built, just one of several proverbial plates that needed to start spinning.

“I was really worried it wasn’t going to play out,” Baim said. “Lots of things could go wrong, so all I could think of was the worst-case scenarios. There was a lot of stress because of all the need that was there at a very scary time, and we had three weeks to get ready to launch.”

Not only did it play out; the public donated more than $100,000 – about $40,000 more than the goal. Additionally, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, the Joseph & Bessie Feinberg Foundation, the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation and two anonymous foundations matched funds to the tune of $60,000.

“It’s honestly way more than we could have expected,” said Yong Lee, marketing manager for the Korea Times which, like the Reader, has been in business since 1971.

He said the Times, which prints in Korean only and serves about 10,000 readers, received about $8,000 from the fundraiser.

Baim said the alliance plans to develop ways for the outlets to raise funds individually, but also as a collective. In the meantime, those looking to support local media may find a list of all 43 outlets at the campaign’s website, savechicagomedia.org.

 

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Yazmin Dominguez (Credit: GlitterGuts)

 

Fast-riser helms rapid-fire rollout

Baim said the only concerns with the launch were technological. Most notably, the website needed to be built and launched. She otherwise was confident because she had a rising star in Yazmin Dominguez, who’d joined the Reader less than a year ago as an administrative assistant and risen to the role of media partnerships coordinator in six short months. She became the project coordinator of CIMA.

She contacted about 160 local organizations, the list was narrowed to 103, and eventually the alliance had 62 members, 43 of which participated in the fundraiser.

“She masterfully herded cats,” said Charlie Meyerson, who has worked in Chicago media since 1979 and launched the independent news site Chicago Public Square in January 2017. “I’ve been very impressed with the way Yazmin kept the wheels on the tracks.”

“Impressive is not enough,” Lee said. “There has to be another word to describe the awesomeness of how she pulled this off.”

Dominguez said many publications lost 90 percent of their advertising revenue “overnight” – including the Reader, where that loss was more than $250,000.

Ron Roenigk is publisher of Inside Publications, which features three papers on the North Side: Skyline, Inside Booster and News-Star. Much of its revenue vanished along with its summer activity guide.

“Until this year, we had a North Side summer activity guide, and now since there’s no activity, there’s no guide,” he said during one of three Facebook Live videos Dominguez moderated in the last week of the fundraiser, a last-ditch push that she said drove up donations significantly.

Baim said two-thirds of the fundraiser’s donors asked that their contributions be split among the 43 outlets.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” she said. “That really shows that people wanted to support a strong journalism ecosystem.”

CIMAJesusZoomPhoto

Jesus Del Toro, director general of La Raza Newspaper, has worked in local media for 16 years, since moving to the U.S. from Mexico. He’s seen damning signs of the times. So while the funds raised can only help, he’s optimistic for what the alliance can mean for local media’s sustainability.

“The most important thing is that the fundraiser is the first step toward a much wider benefit, given the struggle of local media,” he said. “We needed a transformation of the local media model. We need to show advertisers the value of our product, and that they need to preserve it. The fundraiser helped, but of course what’s more valuable is what will happen in the long run, with collaboration and a unified front.”

 

A future built on trust

It’s a scary place these days. Revenue was dwindling before the pandemic, and the rise of armchair journalists has hamstrung the industry with fake news, Baim said.

In 2019, the Chicago Defender closed its legacy print paper and the weekly Latinx paper Hoy has been shut down by the Tribune.

“We knew before COVID that journalism wasn’t in the best shape in Chicago,” Dominguez said. “A lot of newsrooms are closing – a lot of papers we really admired. We knew we had to do something about it.”

Baim said she’s relieved that, thus far, no CIMA member has had to close its doors or cease production.

Meyerson said media outlets, large ones in particular, have long used the term right-sizing – “which means layoffs, basically,” he said – but like it or not, it’s reality. What’s yet to be seen is what that right size is for the media landscape at large.

“Is it going to be the big companies shrinking, or the small companies growing?” Meyerson said. “This is an opportunity for small, digital organizations to grow. That’s what I love about this campaign. This was a chance for those small organizations to grow. And for the bigger organizations, like the Reader, their audiences can be convinced to get involved monetarily in ways they weren’t before.”

“The fundraiser gives hope for news outlets like ours,” Lee said. “It was completely built on trust. And we don’t even know each other, but we have the same mission.”

“The communities that are most affected, their papers tell a unique story, in an authentic way than the mainstream has never been able to do,” Baim said. “I’m an evangelist for local media of any kind. It could be the only paper in a rural area, or a paper that serves the black, Asain or LGBTQ community. The papers are part of their ecosystem.”

Baim said evidence of fast-built trust is encouraging, given that the alliance was spearheaded by the Reader specifically.

“It’s kind of an odd duck when an alliance is created by one of its members, to have one paper raising money for another paper,” she said. “But we all needed to survive. We need each other.”

 

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The power of good

Baim said feel-good stories do more than make readers … well … feel good. She said showcasing the hard work businesses, nonprofit organizations and individuals are putting in to better their communities creates a contagious buzz of good will. And having local media eager to preach the gospel of good not only engenders trust, it strengthens all parties involved.

“We don’t just tell the stories when they’re bad. We tell the stories when they’re good,” Baim said. “When you tell a story about a business, a nonprofit, there are many residual benefits to that. You develop partnerships and allies.”

Dominguez is proud, but not satisfied with the alliance’s immediate success.

“This has been attempted many times in the past, alliances of this sort in Chicago media,” she said. “Now we have a lot of public attention. CIMA is such a baby project right now, and the fundraiser put us in the public eye. Two months ago, only the Chicago Reader and member outlets knew about the alliance.”

A key goal going forward is to create a pooled journalism fund featuring multiple funding streams, including public and private foundations, private donors, and government.

More than half of the alliance’s members are unable to offer insurance to their full-time employees, so a pooled insurance fund for Chicago-area journalists – full-timers and freelancers alike – is in the works.

“We have way bigger goals for 2021,” Dominguez said. “This is just the beginning.”

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In Illinois, harvest typically takes place between September and November. Motorists should be on the lookout for farm equipment during that time, including combines, grain carts and semi-trucks. (Photo by Catrina Rawson)

 

 

Harvest safety reminder:
Always be on the lookout
for farm equipment on the roads



Oct. 23, 2020
For Immediate Release

By Katie Zelechowski
Illinois Farm Bureau

Harvest season is the time of year when some of the best aspects of Midwest agriculture can be experienced by all. Pumpkin patches and apple orchards in Illinois are open for visitors and the golden-brown fields of mature crops line rural roads across the state. But along with these markers of fall come the dangers of transportation incidents associated with harvest.

The harvest season in Illinois typically spans from September to November each year. During that time, drivers should be on the lookout for a variety of farm equipment including combines, tractors, grain carts and semi-trucks. These large vehicles are not only cumbersome for the people operating them, but they take up extra room while traveling down the road, moving slowly and making wide turns.
 
“Farmers and equipment operators are working hard this season to transport crops grown in our state,” said Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) Assistant Director of Transportation and Infrastructure Rodney Knittel.

“But while fall is a busy time of year for many of us, especially farmers in the middle of harvest, it’s important to take rural road safety seriously,” he said.  

When drivers see slow-moving vehicles on the road, they should slow down and be prepared to stop. They should look for lights on the equipment to indicate any changes in speed or direction.  

If the operator pulls the equipment to the side of the road, other motorists should not assume the driver is letting someone pass; they may be preparing for a turn. Before passing, other motorists should use extreme caution and always wait for the equipment operator to acknowledge their presence and indicate that it is safe to pass.

In addition to using caution around agriculture equipment, it is also important to keep in mind that rural roads have unique characteristics and conditions that can make them more challenging to navigate.

Since they are not maintained in the same way city streets are, country roads may have poor or damaged surfaces and narrow lanes with no shoulders. Center and edge lines, sharp turns and blind hills may also be unmarked. These condi­tions can be extremely hazardous at night when there are no streetlights to illuminate the road.

“Remember, harvest activities do not stop when the sun goes down, so be prepared to encounter agriculture equipment on the road at all times,” said Knittel.

IFB’s Associate Field Support Director Jackie Jones, who oversees the organization’s health and safety programs, said above all, motorists should slow down and be patient when traveling.

“Farmers on the road are doing their best to keep other motorists safe so that everyone can get home to their families at the end of the day,” said Jones. “But it takes everyone working together to make that happen.”

For more tips on road safety during the harvest season, visit www.ilfb.org/ruralroadsafety
 

 

 

Poor or damaged surfaces, narrow lanes with no shoulders and unmarked center and edge lines are all common characteristics of rural roads. During harvest time, always use caution when traveling in the countryside and be on the lookout for farm equipment. (Photo by Catrina Rawson)


 

 
 
 

 

Commentary: Historical monuments, memorials, and statutes
should reflect our finest values


CONTACT: WILLIAM FURRY
Executive Director
5255 Shepherd Road
Springfield, IL 62703

executivedirector@historyillinois.org
(217) 525-2518
Oct. 19, 2020
For Immediate Release


The Illinois State Historical Society (ISHS) welcomes the ongoing public discussion about monuments and commemoration in the Prairie State. Communities across Illinois face decisions about the presence of commemorative statues, monuments, and memorials and the naming of public spaces and buildings.

The ISHS encourages Illinois communities engaged in these discussions to carefully consider not just the historical facts of the figure being commemorated but the historical context and intent of the commemoration itself. Furthermore, those engaging in these discussions should reflect on who constitutes their communities and if all relevant voices are being heard. Finally, each community should determine what stories best represent their history and values and how best to tell those stories in a commemorative landscape.

Removing or reinterpreting a monument does not "erase" nor "change” history. It asserts that interpretations of the past are dynamic and change over time. Voices and perspectives that were previously silenced are now active participants in choosing the priorities and purposes of public commemoration. Ultimately, each community is challenged to determine which stories best represent their history and values and how best to tell those stories in a commemorative landscape.

We also want to remind our fellow Illinoisans that historians who specialize in the history of Illinois and its people have done careful and nuanced research that could meaningfully inform these discussions. Drawing on their expertise potentially helps uncover the intentions of those who erected the monuments, and how these monuments function as symbols whose meaning changes over time.

Since 1899, the ISHS has stood for the open inquiry and rigorous research that helps to connect people with our state's history.

We encourage communities to continue considering questions of monuments and commemoration, and welcome them to avail themselves of our network of experts and resources.
William Furry, for The Board of Directors of the Illinois State Historical Society

# # #


 

Illinois Principals Association encourages principal appreciation
in October


CONTACT: ALISON MALEY
Government and Public Relations Director
alison@ilprincipals.org
(217) 525-1383
Oct. 1, 2020
For Immediate Release


SPRINGFIELD, IL – Lifetouch and the Illinois Principals Association (IPA) encourage all communities in Illinois to celebrate Principal Appreciation Week October 18-24, 2020, and Principal Appreciation Day on Friday, October 23, 2020. This state-endorsed recognition was first approved by the Governor of Illinois in 1990 and is annually celebrated. The IPA also joins the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), and the American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA) to recognize October as National Principals Month.

“In October, we celebrate Principal Appreciation month to honor the tireless efforts and contributions of school leaders throughout the state,” said Dr. Amy Dixon, President of the Illinois Principals Association. “During this unfamiliar time, school leaders are working harder than ever to find unique ways to connect with students, feed their communities, provide Wi-Fi to those in need, facilitate numerous stakeholder meetings, and more. The list is truly endless. As our principals step out of their comfort zones to lead through these challenges, we know our schools will be better tomorrow than they are today because of their efforts. Please join us in celebrating the eminent abilities that our principals exemplify. We hope that they remember to take care of themselves, take care of those they serve, and let the organization know if we can help in any way.”

“School leadership matters, especially right now,” said Dr. Jason Leahy, IPA Executive Director. “As a former principal and having visited dozens of schools throughout Illinois, the quality of a school’s learning environment and the ability of a school to do what is best for its students comes as a direct result of the leadership provided by the school’s Principal and leadership team. Courageous leadership is essential to equitably educate students and work to provide the resources and support they need to reach their potential. It is important that we recognize and encourage our schools’ leaders every day. The pandemic has heightened the need for us to intentionally share appreciation for those who do so much for our state’s young people.”

Principal Appreciation Day provides learning communities an opportunity to publicly recognize the work, commitment and importance of principals, assistant principals, and deans throughout the state. Lifetouch and the IPA invite all teachers, students, parents, and community members to perform some act of appreciation on Friday, October 23rd to acknowledge the leadership of building administrators in Illinois’ public and private schools.

Lifetouch is proud to be the official school photographer for the National Association of Elementary School Principals. Lifetouch is honored to support local members of the Illinois Principals Association in recognition of “Principal’s Appreciation Day.” Lifetouch is excited to have joined forces with Shutterfly to bring together two industry leaders who share a common purpose –to share life’s joy through capturing and preserving memories with the click of a camera. While we continue to deliver the quality photography and service you expect from Lifetouch, we are creating a new, innovative experience that will allow you to do more with your photos than ever before. As a part of our mission to help you share your memories, Lifetouch and Shutterfly are truly better together! Learn more at: https://schools.lifetouch.com/shutterfly/

The Illinois Principals Association is a leadership organization which serves over 5,800 educational leaders throughout the state of Illinois and whose mission is to develop, support, and advocate for innovative educational leaders. For more information about the IPA, please visit www.ilprincipals.org
 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Sept. 17, 2020

 

ILLINOIS PRESS ASSOCIATION HONORS TOP NEWSPAPERS, EDITOR, REPORTER


SPRINGFIELD – Illinois’ top newspapers were honored today at the Illinois Press Association’s virtual convention. More than 120 daily and nondaily newspapers competed in 40 editorial categories.

The Nebraska Press Association judged the more than 2,000 editorial entries for work done in 2019.

The Chicago Sun-Times won the Stuart R. Paddock Memorial Sweepstakes Trophy for large dailies.

The Sweepstakes Trophies are awarded to newspapers earning the most points in six different circulation divisions. Points are awarded for first place through honorable mention in most contest categories, including general excellence, photography, news writing, opinion writing, design, community service and editorial page.

Runner-up for the Paddock Trophy was the Chicago Tribune Media Group. In third place was Daily Herald Group, Arlington Heights.

In the medium-sized daily newspaper category, The News-Gazette in Champaign took top honors for the fifth consecutive year. It was awarded the Mabel S. Shaw Memorial Sweepstakes Trophy. The Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake claimed second place, and the Quincy Herald-Whig placed third.

In the small daily newspaper category, The Southern Illinoisan in Carbondale claimed top honors. The newspaper was awarded the Patrick Coburn Award of Excellence. Coming in second for the Coburn Award was the Daily Chronicle in DeKalb, followed by The Telegraph in Alton.

In the large, nondaily newspaper category, The MidWeek of DeKalb claimed the Will Loomis Memorial Trophy. Pioneer Press Media Group received second place. The Journal & Topics Media Group received third place.


The Harold and Eva White Memorial Trophy is awarded to a medium-sized nondaily newspaper. The winner this year was The Hinsdalean. Second place went to The Galena Gazette. And in third place was The Journal-News in Hillsboro.

The Woodstock Independent claimed ownership of the David B. Kramer Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the best small, nondaily newspaper in Illinois. The Oakland Independent received second place. And the third-place award was won by the Bureau County Republican in Princeton.

 

The Illinois Press Association also named a statewide Editor of the Year and Reporter of the Year for the first time during this convention. The Editor of the Year is Chris Coates, Central Illinois editor for Lee Enterprises. The Reporter of the Year is Katie Smith of Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake.

The Illinois Press Association, located in Springfield, represents approximately 440 daily and weekly newspapers.

 

# # #


Illinois judicial candidates rated in Illinois State Bar Association
lawyers' poll and evaluations


CONTACT: RHYS SAUNDERS
Senior Manager, Marketing and Communications
rsaunders@isba.org
(217) 747-1433
Sept. 10, 2020
For Immediate Release


Candidates for Illinois judicial offices who are running in the November 3 election have been rated by an Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) evaluations committee, or in a poll of lawyers conducted by ISBA.

Results were made available today at www.isba.org/judicialevaluations.

In Cook County, an ISBA Judicial Evaluations committee used the results of a questionnaire, background investigations, and in-person interview to rate candidates for all judicial offices. Candidates for the Illinois Supreme and Appellate Courts outside of Cook County were also evaluated using this method. Ratings based on these judicial evaluations are the opinion of the Illinois State Bar Association.

In counties outside of Cook, the ISBA conducted an advisory poll. The advisory poll is sent to all ISBA members in the circuit or district from which a candidate seeks election. Licensed attorneys who are not members of ISBA, or any attorney outside the circuit or district, may request a ballot. Opinions expressed in the poll are of those attorneys who chose to respond and do not reflect the opinion of the Illinois State Bar Association or the opinion of all Illinois attorneys.

# # #
 

The Illinois State Bar Association is a voluntary organization of 29,000 members that provides professional services to Illinois lawyers and education and services to the public. For more information, visit www.isba.org.
 


 

Indy Health Insurance Company seeking investor partners


CONTACT: MONIQUE WHITNEY
Monique@TruthRx.org
July 27, 2020
For Immediate Release


LITTLE ROCK, AR (July 27, 2020) – This fall, Indy Health Insurance Company begins accepting patients for its debut Medicare-D plan, pending approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). Indy Health is offering additional investment opportunities for independent pharmacy owners, pharmacy organizations and other investors until Aug. 29.

Indy Health Insurance Company, domiciled in Arkansas, will operate in Illinois, Georgia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia and will begin enrolling patients in those states when Medicare open enrollment begins in October.
 
Indy Health's Medicare-D plan will offer seniors an affordable prescription drug plan option.  Indy Health-covered patients may receive their medications from any independent pharmacy in the Indy Health Preferred Pharmacy Network.  
 
"We’re building a pharmacy network on the strength of the 22,000 independently-owned community pharmacies in the U.S.,” said Indy Health Chair Laura Atkinson. "We envision a plan that empowers the relationship between patients and pharmacists. Pharmacists are patients’ most accessible health care provider. Evidence shows better health outcomes are possible when patients are permitted to see their community pharmacy versus being forced into big box stores or mail order.”
 
An article in the Journal of American Medicine Network Open newsletter highlights the central role of community pharmacies in patient care. The 3-year study showed older patients see their community pharmacists more frequently than their primary care physicians, providing an opportunity for better patient outcomes when physicians and pharmacists collaborate in the delivery of preventative care and chronic disease management.
 
Under Indy Health, pharmacies will pay no direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees -- a “claw back” PBMs collect to offset Medicare plan member costs. In 2018 small pharmacies paid average DIR fees of $129,613 per store – an 87% increase from 2017, according to an industry survey. DIR fees are a primary factor in the epidemic of community pharmacy closures. “The absence of DIR fees is a big win for independent pharmacies, who could move from surviving the current U.S. drug pricing crisis to thriving,” said Ms. Atkinson.  In addition, Indy Health Independent Preferred Network members will have better reimbursements, no restrictions to mail and an independent Preferred Specialty Pharmacy Network.
 
Through Indy Health Insurance Company, Medicare-D plan independent pharmacies will ultimately be able to create their own formulary, medication therapy management services and negotiate their own rebates through an independently owned, sustainable entity providing them with equitable representation within the prescription drug system.  Please visit  IndyHeatlhinc.com to learn more or to explore investment opportunities.

 

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Chicago-based, minority-owned mobile game company, Speegs, releases Mo and Trey Adventures demo FREE on iOS and Android


CONTACT: VICTOR McCULLUM
victormccullum@speegsmedia.com
(708) 288-3840
CONTACT: JULIE McCULLUM
questions@speegsmedia.com
(708) 601-0190
July 15, 2020
For Immediate Release

Ninety-eight percent of households with diverse socio-economic backgrounds have access to a mobile device, and more people just need a break while working and learning at home.  More than 90% of smartphone usage, five hours a day, is being spent on apps and games.

CHICAGO, Illinois - July 15, 2020 – Speegs, LLC, headquartered inside world renowned tech incubator, 1871, has announced the pandemic is not a barrier for them.  More than forty animated assets and stories have been created to accompany their gaming spirit.  Sharing a smile is their goal.  Tunnel vision has gotten Speegs where they want to be in the city they love.

“We create awesome characters to make anyone have a smile on their face, if only for a moment.” said Victor, CEO of Speegs, LLC.  “Our games will be a way to take a break from the overwhelming changes in today’s world.”

Seeing unrest nationwide only made everyone at Speegs work harder to bring a smile to one’s face.  As represented in their YouTube banner alone, anyone can get behind this company.                               
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8WNRCZZ7Ka67E6rW7nfNVA,

Spending countless hours to get the demo ready for release, they have placed a demo on Google Play and have become an Apple Developer.  This allows anyone with a mobile device to play their demo game absolutely FREE.

iOS: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/mo-and-trey-adventures/id1500089784?ls=1

Android:https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.Speegs.MoAndTreyAdventures&hl=en_US

In the spirit of giving back to the inner city community where Victor grew up, the game was to be a donation to all Chicago Public Schools (CPS).  With all fifty states completed by the 2021 school year.  CPS would use this as an enhancement tool for first through fourth grades in the social science curriculum to teach students geography.  Just as this conversation began with CPS, so did the pandemic.  Within a week CPS had closed.

This would not stop Victor even as his funding sources waned during COVID-19.  Victor’s entrepreneurial spirit has only skyrocketed. Just recently, he has attached social media accounts to Speegs’ website https://www.speegsmedia.com/.

He is launching a Kickstarter campaign on Monday, July 20thhttps://www.kickstarter.com/projects/468614803/mo-and-trey-adventures-mobile-game  Money raised will go directly to completing the map for Mo and Trey Adventures.  Each state will have a mini-game with endless levels inside.  Select Mo or Trey and collect iconic food from every state.  Collecting enough food items will earn a gamer a state bird patch.  Ultimately, it is a casual game that individuals of all ages can enjoy. 

Thank you in your efforts to support one of Chicago’s very own.

# # #
 

Find Speegs Online:
Media Website:  https://www.14victorjmm.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/speegs_media/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SpeegsM
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Speegs-Media-108388937602523/?modal=admin_todo_tour
 


 

Illinois bowlers file lawsuit challenging Gov. Pritzker orders; say they are 'unconstitutional and improper'

ISBPA: 'Governor has thrown a gutter ball'
 


CONTACT: R. WILLIAM DUFF JR.
billduff@bowlillinois.com
(847) 840-9620
July 14, 2020
For Immediate Release


LINCOLNWOOD, IL – The Illinois State Bowling Proprietors Association (ISBPA) today said that it has filed a lawsuit asking a Lee County state court to invalidate Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s “unconstitutional and improper” exercise of authority to issue consecutive emergency declarations that improperly restrict the number of people allowed in a bowling center.

ISBPA officials said that successive orders issued by the governor related to COVID-19 have caused “tremendous emotional and economic hardship” during the past several months.

“Frankly, Gov. Pritzker has thrown a gutter ball on this one. Even medical experts agree that bowling is not a highly dangerous activity with regard to COVID-19 spread,” said R. William Duff, Jr., executive director of the ISBPA.

“As the businesses of our members buckle under the governor’s orders, it’s hard to explain to employees, the bowling public and family members why other activities rated by experts as more dangerous than bowling enjoy the governor’s favor,” said Duff. “That’s why we want the court to intervene and put a stop to this before more harm is caused.”

“Our members have suffered substantial pain and burden as a result of Gov. Pritzker’s unconstitutional, successive orders, and they now face insolvency and the permanent loss of their livelihood,” Duff added. “The governor’s ill-advised policies have resulted in staggering losses for our members, and these unconstitutional moves threaten thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of tax revenue.”

Under the current orders, bowling centers, regardless of size, are restricted to a maximum of 50 people per location, while businesses such as gyms, waxing centers, tattoo parlors, retail stores, nail salons, restaurants, and other businesses face no 50-person cap and are allowed to have as many people as they want so long as they do not exceed 50% of their capacity, Duff explained.

“That makes no sense, is not based on science and needs to be addressed by the court,” he said.

He noted that bowling centers around the state have instituted a broad range of safety and sanitation measures to ensure the bowling public could enjoy a safe environment with strict rules that include maintaining at least one empty lane between each group bowling; daily temperature and wellness checks of employees; on-going sanitation of all venue-provided equipment; and reducing touch points in all facilities.

Duff added that member bowling centers also have elevated their already robust cleaning procedures and installed floor markings, plexiglass and signage to enforce social distancing.

Duff also noted that bowling can be done while wearing a face covering and that the ISBPA had invested an estimated $40,000 to purchase additional personal protective equipment to provide to bowling centers around the state.

“The governor’s improper interpretation of the law could lead to the absurd result of a perpetual state of emergency and also give him the unilateral authority to regulate the economy and society by executive order,” Duff said. “The governor now has made five disaster declarations invoking his emergency powers, and our view is that his wishes on this particular topic are contrary to the plain meaning of the law that is on the books and could lead to irrational results. We know that one result is that his approach is devastating our industry members, many of which are family owned and multi-generational businesses.”

Duff said that there are about 270 primarily independent family bowling centers in the state and that they provide an estimated 5,000 jobs and purchase about $65 million in goods and services on an annual basis. He added that member centers participate in various charity events that range from Junior Achievement and Special Olympics to the Lions Club International and the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans. Most if not all the Illinois bowling centers support various youth leagues, participate in community fundraising efforts and donate prizes to different parent-teacher groups, sports teams and organizations that back disadvantaged children, he said.

“Our members are active and engaged members of dozens of communities in the state,” Duff said. “From Chicagoland to downstate Illinois, bowling centers play an important role in the civic life of the places they call home, and the governor’s orders are hurting them.”

The ISBPA lawsuit asks the court to issue a restraining order prohibiting the state from enforcing the governor’s order and also requests that the latest Executive Order issued by the governor be ruled invalid.

“Our members are suffering serious and irreparable harm in the form of insolvency or the permanent loss of their business and reputation as a result of these illegal orders,” Duff said. “While we tried to work cooperatively to find a solution, the state was unwilling to work toward a fair solution, so we were left with no choice but to seek a court order. We believe that we have both the facts and law on our side, and we look forward to presenting our case to the court.”

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Illinois State Bowling Proprietors Association
7356 N. Cicero Ave.
Lincolnwood IL 60712

 


 

 
 
 
 
 

 

Disaster Checklist for Newspapers

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