Tensions Rising Between Chicago Government and Gov. Pritzker Over Migrant Crisis

News & Politics

There’s an interesting dynamic emerging in blue states whose hypocrisy regarding their “sanctuary” status has begun to expose the schisms in Democratic cities vs. states. Namely, the mayors of blue cities are dealing with the realities of tens of thousands of migrants while Democratic governors stay on the sidelines and criticize the mayors for not doing enough.

This blue-on-blue phenomenon is on display in New York with NYC Mayor Eric Adams going at it hammer and tongs with Gov. Kathy Hochul for what Adams believes to be a lack of support.

In Chicago, Gov. J.B. Pritzker made his first comments about Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson’s brilliant plan to erect gigantic tents to house migrants. “If we have existing facilities, we ought to use all of those that are willing to do it,” Pritzker told reporters at an unrelated event in Chicago.

Pritzker acknowledged “a lack of existing buildings to put people in” but said he doesn’t think the tent encampment plan “is the only option.”

“We continue to have conversations about it,” he said.

Did you follow that? There’s a lack of existing buildings for shelter, but the tent idea isn’t the only option. Pritzker is known for his obtuseness, but that’s ridiculous.

Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, the mayor’s floor leader, begged to differ.

“This is particularly ludicrous coming from JB given that lack of meaningful support from the State of Illinois has pushed the city in this direction,” Ramirez-Rosa posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “New York state has opened multiple migrant shelters. The State of Illinois operates ZERO shelters. ZERO. Open some shelters JB!”

Chicago Tribune:

In his earlier comments, Pritzker touted the roughly $328 million the state has spent on the migrants to date and pointed to the state-paid rooms at a dozen hotels across the Chicago area that housed more than 2,000 migrants at the height of the effort late last year. But he also conceded, “That worked for a little while. It doesn’t work well for providing all the services that are necessary.”

The state on Friday is expected to announce how it will dole out $42.5 million in this year’s state budget allocated to help pay for migrant services.

But all of those tens of millions of dollars are like puppy treats to the criminal class in Chicago. And there are at least two companies who are raking it in without much of a peep from Mayor Johnson and his “reformers.”

I covered the story of Favorite Healthcare Staffing out of Kansas, which billed the city for $57 million earlier this year for migrant services, staffing the shelters. Just what they did for that $57 million is something of a mystery.

So NBC5 got curious about the company and the $57 million and filed a Freedom of Information Act request of the Chicago city government. The letter they got back in reply is pure Chicago.

The burden of redacting the records, the city’s letter says, “outweighs the public interest in the information.”

NBC5:

What’s curious about that denial letter is that the city already provided NBC 5 Investigates with two invoices – showing last December that a nurse at the High Ridge YMCA shelter earned [more] than $20,000 in a week.

During that same week, a shelter manager made $14,000. Both figures did include overtime.

NBC 5 Investigates also received a spreadsheet showing a total of $57 million covering 498 payment vouchers. What’s not clear from the spreadsheet is how many employees that covers, how many hours were billed and if certain shelters billed the city more than others. Some invoices were for more than $500,000, the spreadsheet shows.

Once the story came to light last week, Favorite Healthcare Staffing cut their contract by 20%. No comment from the city government or Mayor Johnson about how a nurse made 20 grand for one week of work at one shelter.

Related: Some Workers at Chicago Migrant Shelters Making $200 an Hour

Meanwhile, there have been reports that GardaWorld was going to work with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to move migrants to northern cities. It also had a contract in Gov. Greg Abbott’s Texas.

Chicago Tribune:

In the past decade, GardaWorld has received contracts across North America to provide migrant-related services that include detention. Critics say the company has worked with the federal government at Fort Bliss, a facility along the southern border in El Paso, Texas, that houses unaccompanied children who crossed the border. The company also has contracted with the Canadian government to “provide detention and transportation services” in the Vancouver area, according to a case study on its website.

GardaWorld is a little less shady than Favorite Healthcare Staffing, but the way that Chicago politicians describe them makes them sound like slave drivers locking up migrants in dungeons. That’s not the case, of course. Their sin is that they work with Republicans.

In Chicago, that’s tantamount to treason.

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