Opinions Editor

Jim Dey is a staff writer for The News-Gazette. His email is jdey@news-gazette.com.

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Time once again to dive in to another round of quick takes on the people, places and events that were being talked about over the past week:

Calling all cops

Can you be all things to all people? If so, the city of Champaign wants to talk to you about becoming the next chief of police in its “wonderfully diverse” community.

“Are you seeking an exciting new career opportunity where you can make a real difference in shaping the future of a growing, urban community and positively impact the lives of others? The City of Champaign is looking for an experienced and community-engaged professional to exercise proven leadership for our Police Department,” states a 12-page city handout that explains the job.

Among other things, the city is seeking a “dynamic leader” who is a “champion of diversity,” “calm and collected,” “leads by example,” and a “skilled communicator.” Job priorities include “addressing gun violence.”

There was nothing mentioned about being able to walk on water. But that’s probably just understood. The job’s pay ranges from $139,229 to $187,962.

A blinding glimpse of the obvious

“Pritzker leads money race over GOP opponents”

That ranks as the least surprising headline of the year. The multi-billionaire spent more than $170 million of his own money in his successful 2018 race against Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. Now with more than a year to go before the 2022 general elections, he’s already spending like a drunken sailor.

Quarterly finance reports show that the Democratic governor spent $8.2 million in the past three months. He made a $35 million campaign donation to himself in March and has $24.6 million cash on hand.

As staggering as those numbers are, they represent a drop in the bucket of what the governor is prepared to spend to win re-election and help other Democrats win in 2022.

By comparison, Republican candidates qualify for admission to the poor house. A handful of Republicans are interested in their party’s nomination but there is no clear frontrunner. As circumstances now stand, Pritzker is a strong favorite for re-election in what has become a one-party Democratic state.

When it rains, it pours

As one of four political hotshots indicted in the long-running Commonwealth Edison bribery scheme, Jay Doherty has enough problems.

He’s facing crushing legal fees and a potential stint in the joint for alleged transgressions related to the utility’s alleged favors to win former Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan’s backing of ComEd’s legislative proposals.

Last week it got worse for Doherty, at least for his pocketbook. He was fined $75,000 by the city for failing to register as a lobbyist on behalf of three clients.

Doherty, former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, longtime Madigan pal Michael McClain and veteran lobbyist Jay Hooker face a slew of charges in connection with the bribery scheme.

Also indicted for perjury in the case is Timothy Mapes, a close Madigan legislative aide.

Madigan has not been indicted in connection with the alleged scheme, although he has been identified in court papers as the ringleader.

The turn of events involving Doherty was hocking. Not because he was reproached for improper lobbying. That’s routine in Illinois and Chicago.

But the idea that the horrifically corrupt City of Chicago has a board of ethics that, at least marginally, functions? Who knew?

Market maker

Portillo’s, the popular Chicago-based restaurant chain that makes food people like, made another public-pleasing move this week that appeared to satisfy investors’ appetites.

It became a publicly traded company, putting shares on the market that initially sold for $20 each. Because of public demand, the price increased nearly 100 percent in one day — up to $38 — from its Thursday opening to mid-afternoon Friday.

Despite that gaudy start, this

NASDAQ Exchange-traded stock is a long-term market play, meaning company profits will need lots of time to catch up to its price per share.

Its price/earnings ratio is over 2,000. A P/E ratio is a representation of the current price of one share divided by the earnings per share of the company. So Portillo’s, which has a restaurant in Champaign, is way overpriced in terms of company performance. It’s strictly speculative at this point.

Optimists are betting that ambitious expansion plans will generate huge profits and stock market gains. But potential buyers should bear an important rule in mind: never invest more than one can afford to lose.

At the same time, Rivian, the Normal-based electric-vehicle manufacturer, is planning to go public in late November. Its price per share hasn’t been announced, but it, too, will be sky high.

The company is, according to news reports, seeking a “valuation of around $80 billion,” higher than General Motors ($72 billion) and Ford ($53 billion).

On his toes

An eagle-eyed reader spotted something amiss in a recent column on how and how many people die each year in Illinois.

Included in the array of statistics was the assertion that 7,527 people between ages 65 and 84 died in Illinois from the coronavirus in 2019. The reader suggested that number could not be correct because the virus did not hit until 2020.

He is correct. It was in 2020 that individuals in that age group died, the No. 3 cause of overall deaths in that age group. Another 5,273 people 85 and over died from COVID-19 in 2020, making it the No. 2 cause of death for individuals in that age category.

Jim Dey, a member of The News-Gazette staff, can be reached at jdey@news-gazette.com or 217-393-8251.

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