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Business leaders to form political action committee to prevent City Council from making sharp left turn

Veteran Ald. Nick Sposato (38th) has told the Sun-Times he is concerned the departure of more experienced, collaborative and mainstream colleagues could pave the way for the election of a new City Council that turns sharply to the left.

Business leaders have taken a pass when it comes to fielding their own candidate in the crowded race for mayor of Chicago. But they’re apparently determined to prevent a City Council in transition from turning sharply to the left.

Mike Ruemmler, who managed former Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2015 reelection campaign, said Tuesday he plans to file paperwork in the next two weeks to form an independent expenditure committee bankrolled by business leaders for the purpose of electing moderate alderpersons determined to be, as he put it, “workhorses—not show horses.”

People who are interested in coming to the City Council to be part of the solution and not lob bombs from the sideline,” Ruemmler said.

Pressed to describe what concerns him most, Ruemmler said, “A mindset of ‘my way or the highway.’ And the folks who have the city’s best interests at heart as a first priority, and maybe not their own, who like to work with their colleagues on solving problems seem to be fading away.”

Veteran Ald. Nick Sposato (38th) has told the Sun-Times he is concerned the departure of more experienced, collaborative and mainstream colleagues could pave the way for the election of a new City Council that turns sharply to the left.

The always outspoken Sposato has said he is particularly concerned about the election of what he calls “lefty loons,” which he defines as liberal alderpersons who favor more government giveaways and want to defund the police.

Ruemmler refused to go that far at a time when United Working Families, a progressive group with close ties to the Chicago Teachers Union, has endorsed 18 aldermanic candidates.
He simply noted that business leaders, including former Chicago Sun-Times investor Michael Sacks, are concerned enough about the number of open seats and the turn the City Council could take to put their money where their mouths are.

The direction of the Council over the last few years has been somewhat worrisome. And we do want to help elect people who are collaborative and want to work with their colleagues to solve the issues that we have in the city,” Ruemmler said.

I’ve gotten more calls today than I have in any day since I left City Hall, of people who are interested, want to be helpful, want to be donors. Some from business. Some from organized labor. This isn’t gonna be a dark money PAC. So everybody will be able to see where the money is coming from and where it’s gonna be spent.”

I hope that it is into the seven figures. We’ll play in as many wards as we can. And as many as we need to,” Ruemmler said, pegging the number at “somewhere between 17 and 23” wards.
We’ll send a questionnaire out to all candidates. Everybody will be welcome to respond to it. We’ll evaluate those and see where we can have the greatest impact.”

In a text message to the Sun-Times, Sacks confirmed plans to contribute to the new PAC, which does not yet have a name.

I think it is a good team and an important, smart idea. I plan to support the effort,” Sacks, CEO of Grosvenor Capital Management, wrote.

In 2015, Emanuel’s allies created “Chicago Forward,” a super PAC that spent $4 million to reelect Emanuel and strengthen his City Council majority.

The big money effort sputtered badly in Round One, even though it raised money from many of the same people who contributed heavily to Emanuel.

Of the amount that Chicago Forward spent on mayoral allies, 64 percent went to candidates forced into runoffs; 31 percent went to winners, and 5 percent went to two losers.
Smaller amounts were devoted to opposing two of the most vocal mayoral critics on the Council.

Scott Waguespack (32nd) easily won reelection after Chicago Forward spent $6,000 in a failed attempt to unseat him.

Then-Ald. John Arena (45th) was forced into a runoff, and ultimately survived a runoff against John Garrido, thanks to heavy union support that far surpassed the nearly $20,000 that the pro-Emanuel PAC used to oppose him.

Becky Carroll, the longtime Emanuel confidante who ran Chicago Forward, argued then that the effort “helped 18 aldermen secure reelection and placed 12 of 13 facing runoffs as the top vote-getters in their ward.”

She also pointed out that the long list of union groups opposed to Emanuel had together spent almost twice as much as Chicago Forward in the aldermanic races.

Ruemmler stressed that there is a “stark difference” between Chicago Forward and the PAC he is chairing.

It was well known that Chicago Forward existed to help Rahm and to help Rahm-affiliated candidates. And we’re not affiliated with any mayoral campaign or any aldermanic campaign,” he said.

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Jenny Craig is reportedly winding down its weight-loss centers and warning of mass layoffs

Jenny Craig is reportedly shutting down some of its weight-loss centers and warning employees of mass layoffs amid upheaval in the industry from popular new prescription drugs like Ozempic.

Jenny Craig alerted employees to potential layoffs as it begins “winding down physical operations” and hunts for a buyer, according to NBC News. Jenny Craig has nearly 500 weight-loss centers in the United States and Canada.

The company, founded in 1983, did not disclose to  how many weight loss centers will close or how many employees will be impacted.

“Like many other companies, we’re currently transitioning from a brick-and-mortar retail business to a customer-friendly, e-commerce driven model. We will have more details to share in the coming weeks as our plans are solidified,” a spokesperson for Jenny Craig said in a statement to .

Jenny Craig’s program provides nutritionally balanced menus, which include entrees, desserts and snacks, designed to help people lose weight. Bloomberg reported this week that the company has roughly $250 million of debt and is considering a bankruptcy filing if efforts to find a buyer for its assets fail.

It’s the latest sign of major changes in the weight-loss industry, brought on by popular new prescription diabetes drugs such as Wegovy, Ozempic, and Rybelsus.

These relatively new drugs work by stimulating the release of insulin, which helps lower blood sugar. They also slow the passage of food through the gut.

The FDA approved Ozempic for the management of diabetes in 2017 and Wegovy for weight loss in 2021.

Traditional weight-loss companies are scrambling to adjust. WeightWatchers is also getting into the prescription weight-loss drug business.

The company, now known as WW International, recently bought Sequence, a telehealth subscription service that connects patients with doctors who can prescribe weight-loss and diabetes drugs.

The $106 million acquisition of Sequence will give WW a foothold into the growing market for prescription drugs to manage weight loss.

Ozempic has gained popularity in part due to celebrities using it for weight loss.

But there are many concerns with using diabetes drugs for weight loss, including high costs and shortages that are making it harder for people with diabetes to obtain the drugs.

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Minnesota tops nation in wild birds confirmed dead from bird flu

The deadly bird disease is back this spring, and, in fact, never left over the winter.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza is back killing domestic poultry and wild birds in Minnesota again this spring as huge flocks of migratory birds carry it north for another season.

But, in fact, the deadly bird disease never left the state, even over our long winter, with birds dying in December and January and some new research showing the killer flu virus may survive even in cold Minnesota lake water — with no host bird — during the winter.

That’s the update from wildlife biologists as the great spring migration descends on Minnesota, as the snow line recedes north and ice on lakes and rivers begins to let loose.

Since the disease was first reported in Minnesota just over a year ago, some 566 birds have been tested and confirmed carrying the H5N1 strain of bird flu that’s been expanding worldwide since 2020, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Wisconsin has had 211 confirmed cases and North Dakota 310 as of April 11.

Nationally, more than 6,500 wild birds have been confirmed dead from the virus over the past year, some from all 49 continental states, although wildlife experts say that’s likely a gross under counting of the total number, most of which die and are never found by people.

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Outdoors notebook: Hoeven, Heinrich introduce CWD Research and Management Act

Bipartisan legislation would empower state, tribal governments to address and prevent CWD outbreaks.

Bipartisan legislation introduced Thursday in the U.S. Senate aims to address the growing problem of chronic wasting disease in wild populations of deer, elk and moose.

Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., introduced the Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act. The bill is a Senate companion to legislation the House of Representatives passed last December with an overwhelming 393-33 vote.

The bill would authorize $70 million per year, split evenly to support both the research and management of CWD. The U.S. Department of Agriculture would administer the funds through cooperative agreements with state and tribal wildlife agencies and agriculture departments.

The legislation also includes an authorization for USDA and state and tribal agencies to develop educational materials to inform the public on CWD and directs USDA to review its herd certification program within 18 months, according to a news release from Hoeven’s office.

“CWD is a growing threat to both wildlife and livestock, impacting sportsmen, ranchers and the local ecology of regions across the U.S.,” Hoeven said. “Our legislation would empower state and tribal governments to better manage and prevent outbreaks of this deadly disease, while also advancing new methods for detecting CWD and limiting its spread.

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