To 500 and beyond: End-of-summer review
Farmers said, ‘Enough,’ the drumbeat for impeachment pounded, bills were signed into law, and Scabby the Rat faced off against Trump
By Ted Cox
The only problem with this long, hot summer is it wasn’t long or hot enough.
In fact, farmers would have liked it to extend backward into the spring to dry up those heavy rains and flooding that delayed planting at best or at worst prevented it entirely.
But there was a lot of news packed into the precious few months between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and One Illinois was there to cover it.
As WBBM 780-AM Chicago radio reporter Craig Dellimore reminded us on one assignment, the normal summer lull in news never arrived this year — just as the holiday lull never arrived last winter, nor the summer nor the winter before that.
One Illinois posted its 500th story earlier this month, appropriately enough on President Trump escalating his trade war with China, which halted Chinese agriculture buys and set stock markets reeling for what wouldn’t be the last time this summer.
In fact, the season’s two top stories sort of dovetailed, as farmers dealt with the fallout from Trump’s tariffs, even as they tried urgently to play catch-up in their fields with the delayed spring planting. By the beginning of this week, they said, “Enough is enough,” with the Illinois Farm Bureau joining a consortium of 150 business and agriculture groups to urge the president to end his trade war and provide farmers some relief.
The uncertain harvest is yet to come.
Gov. Pritzker got the U.S. Department of Agriculture to declare the entire state an agricultural disaster, making federal emergency funds available to Illinoisans, in the midst of what was a busy summer for him as well.
In fact, the frantic end of the General Assembly spring session only set the stage for the governor to sign those bills into law all summer long. He signed legalized recreational cannabis, set to take effect with the new year, a much-needed $45 billion capital bill, and a strengthening of abortion rights with the Reproductive Health Act.
Pritzker also signed a $40,000 minimum teacher salary into law, in a bid to address the worsening statewide teacher shortage. As usual, education issues had a way of percolating to the surface even over summer vacation. New studies found widespread support for more education funding and better training for teachers, as paraeducators began the fall term striving for the recognition that they’re teachers too with some of the same basic issues.
Ameya Pawar, founder of One Illinois, helped make a case for Universal Basic Income at a panel discussion held by the Metropolitan Planning Council in Chicago late in June.
There was no lull in politics, as the drumbeat for a formal congressional impeachment probe into President Trump gained momentum, with U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky, Sean Casten, Lauren Underwood, Brad Schneider, Raja Krishnamoorthi, and Bill Foster all coming out in favor, making 11 of 13 Illinois Democratic members of the U.S. House in support.
Meanwhile, state Sen. Bill Brady announced his intent that Pritzker’s graduated income tax “must be defeated” when it goes before voters next year. The Better Government Association, however, found him guilty of making “false” claims on what Pritzker calls a “fair tax” — just the beginning of what figures to be one long fight against disinformation leading up to the voter referendum to change the state constitution in the 2020 general election.
Even in an off year for statewide elections, the battle lines for 2020 were being drawn at the State Fair on Governor’s Day and Republican Day earlier this month. Democrats made their case for values on issues they believe have widespread majority support, like gun control and an increased minimum wage, while Republicans tied their wagon to President Trump.
Regardless of the political debate, the corn dogs tasted as good as ever at the State Fair.
Trump, however, might have met his match in Scabby the Rat. The popular inflatable figure, a fixture at union actions such as a rally this summer in support of embattled workers at the Environmental Protection Agency, found itself under attack by the Trump administration, which argued it was “menacing” to the point where it isn’t protected by the First Amendment right to free speech.
That court battle goes on, and One Illinois will be there to cover it. This makes our 533rd story, and more will be coming this fall and beyond as the news goes on without a lull. For now, however, we wish all of our readers a long and festive Labor Day weekend.