Good Wednesday morning, Illinois! Joe Biden has signaled he might just serve one term, which would turn the election process on its ear.
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Gov. J.B. Pritzker just pumped $5 million into the “Vote Yes for Fairness” committee that’s out pressing for a graduated income tax amendment to the state Constitution — an early signal of an all-out political campaign willing to compete for air time while presidential candidates duke it out.
The Legislature gave their blessing to changing the tax code earlier this year but voters must still support altering the constitution in November 2020 before it can take effect. If approved, taxes would be raised on income greater than $250,000.
Quentin Fulks, who heads Vote Yes for Fairness, has said the committee will spend whatever it takes to secure a graduated income tax amendment. It’s a matter of communicating the message to voters — and that takes money.
Enter Pritzker, whose $5 million donation recorded with the state board of elections may be a drop in the bucket of what will ultimately be spent on the campaign to push the amendment since opponents have launched their own efforts attacking the graduated income tax.
The Vote No on Blank Check Committee headed by Greg Baise claims amending the state’s tax structure would only lead to future tax increases.
BLOCKBUSTER: PATTI VASQUEZ: GACY KILLED MY BROTHER: For the past 25 years, Patti Vasquez — the former WGN radio host who’s running for state rep — has used her mother’s maiden name rather than her father’s surname, Bonnin. “Now, faced with a requirement to use her legal name on the ballot, Vasquez risks forfeiting years of hard-earned name recognition against an incumbent. Even stickier, her solution — to appear as Patricia D. Bonnin “Patti Vasquez” on the ballot — has led to accusations that she’s using two names to pander to different sets of voters: Vasquez for Latinos, and Bonnin for whites. But the truth is more complicated: Vasquez’s half-brother was Michael Bonnin, one of 33 young men killed by John Wayne Gacy — a fact she’s kept private until now.” By Robert Chiarito in Chicago magazine.
EXCERPTS FROM VASQUEZ:
“I was four when Mike disappeared, so everything I know about him is more from the experience of my dad trying to find him. What I remember is my dad taking me to police stations with a picture of Mike. It’s the same black-and-white picture that you see on the grid of the victims. When he went missing they were in complete shock. It didn’t make any sense to them that he was gone. He was 17. …
“It destroyed my father, the not knowing. I’ve asked my mom, but it wasn’t something my dad and I really discussed. The only thing I would get from my dad was when he was at his lowest. He would wonder if, had he been a better father, things would be different.”
Offering remarks for the Cook County Assessor’s Office’s Market Analyst Day at Venue SIX10 on Michigan Avenue. She’s also scheduled to address more than 2,500 students from 30-plus schools at the student matinee production of The Nutcracker, according to the Joffrey Ballet.
At 1871 in Merchandise Mart to celebrate its designation as the top private business incubator in the world. (Pritzker founded it.) In the afternoon he’ll join Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx for a media availability after she files motions to vacate low-level cannabis convictions. And later, he’ll speak at the Union for Reform Judaism’s biennial convention at McCormick Place.
No official public events.
— America First Policies, a group supporting President Donald Trump and his agenda, is targeting Rep. Lauren Underwood in her re-election bid in the 14th Congressional District. The organization, which features VP Mike Pence on its home page, has spent $47,200 on an ad campaign urging Underwood — and Dems in other swing districts — to vote against impeachment. The TV ad buy started Tuesday and runs through Dec. 16 on cable channels throughout Underwood’s northern Illinois district.
— Mike Bloomberg just paid $13,500 for ads running through Dec. 22 to promote his presidential campaign.
— Bill Conway, a Democrat who’s trying to unseat Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, paid $25,761 for an ad buy with a 30-second commercial that runs through Dec. 15.
— Jonathan “Yoni” Pizer, a Democratic fundraiser who’s running for the state representative seat now held by Sara Feigenholtz, has hired Alaina Hampton as a senior political adviser. Hampton is an independent consultant and will continue advising the campaign after she becomes a director of E Street Group, a national Democratic consulting company, in January.
— Illinois GOP to party in Peoria: Illinois Republican Party selected Peoria as host of the 2020 ILGOP State Convention to take place June 11-13, at the Peoria Civic Center. The ILGOP Site Selection Committee voted unanimously to select Peoria as the host city. (via press release)
— Battles begin to remove opponents from March primary ballots: "Cook County candidates have a better idea of what the ballot will look like after a lottery [Monday], but many will have to duke it out to survive petition challenges in the weeks ahead," writes Crain’s A.D. Quig.
— Objections filed against two dozen suburban candidates: “Two of the three Democratic challengers — Inam Hussain and Mohammed Faheem — who are seeking to unseat 8th District congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi face objections. Catalina Lauf is the lone Republican 14th congressional district candidate in a seven-way primary race to face an objection, according to the Illinois Board of Elections,” writes Daily Herald’s Jake Griffin.
GETTING UNCOMFORTABLE: “We have some powerful women who are moving us forward, and that makes folks uncomfortable sometimes, right? We’ve not seen that before,” Rep. Lauren Underwood said Tuesday at POLITICO’s Women Rule Summit in Washington. “But it doesn’t mean that there’s disagreement. It doesn’t mean that there’s all this conflict. It doesn’t mean that there’s like an inability to move forward. It just means that the face and the voice might be a little different than what we’ve seen previously.”
— George Blakemore, the political gadfly and unofficial government watchdog, is "doing well" after undergoing neurosurgery for a blood clot in his brain, a result of a fall, according to political insider Ja’Mal Green. On Tuesday, Green posted a video of Blakemore in good spirits: He was complaining about government. Blakemore is a former teacher who worked as a Maxwell Street vendor and ran for Cook County commissioner. He’s also a familiar face at Chicago City Council and Cook County Board meetings, where he gives his two cents during the public comment period.
— State Rep. Kelly Cassidy takes Tribune editorial writer to task: “Kristen McQueary’s recent column, in which she declares former state Rep. John Anthony’s redemption from his #MeToo moment, denies the reality of his victims and raises important questions: Why is there such a disproportionate concern for the lives and well-being of perpetrators of abuse — and why do victims never seem to receive the same?”
— Chicago police to suspend controversial merit promotion selection process: “Chicago police interim Superintendent Charlie Beck said Tuesday he was suspending the department’s practice of promoting officers to the ranks of detective, sergeant and lieutenant regardless of their exam scores, halting a promotional process long criticized by many rank-and-file cops and decried in a U.S. Department of Justice report on the city’s policing practices,” writes Tribune’s Jeremy Gorner.
— Lightfoot plans to demand end to shut-offs and answers on ComEd lobbying scandal before renewing utility’s franchise agreement: "Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday she plans to call Commonwealth Edison on the carpet for the Springfield lobbying scandal — and ask the utility to join the city in ending shut-offs—before Chicago will even consider renewing its franchise agreement," Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman reports.
— The challenge in Lightfoot’s new jobs plan: “The mayor’s goal to grow Chicago back to 3 million people includes a lot of elements of Emanuel’s plan for economic development, but tries to expand the pie in different ways. Will it work?” Crain’s Greg Hinz reports.
— ‘Someone who really understands Chicago.’ South Siders offer advice on a new police superintendent, by Tribune’s William Lee.
— Time to give a woman a chance as police chief, writes columnist Dahleen Glanton.
— COLUMN: How Chicago can grow to 3M people again: “Reversing black flight is what has to happen for Mayor Lightfoot’s vision to become reality,” writes Ed Zotti in Sun-Times.
— A decade of regret in Chicago: “How the loss of historic churches, affordable housing, and 50 public schools changed the city,” by Anjulie Rao in Curbed.
— As Chicago’s class size crackdown begins, schools that are ‘overenrolled by choice’ could face admissions changes: "Now that oversized classes will cost the city, Chicago Public Schools is also taking a hard look at schools that choose to admit so many students that class sizes swell beyond the city’s limits — a move that cushions those schools’ budgets but also leaves students and teachers in classes of 30 or more," Chalkbeat Chicago’s Philissa Cramer reports.
— Local investor to buy Green Dolphin site near Lincoln Yards: “The site on the North Branch of the Chicago River has strong development potential, but the buyer isn’t saying yet what it plans to do with it,” by Crain’s Alby Gallun.
— County: Higher property taxes partly a hangover from foreclosure crisis: "The foreclosure crisis has mostly faded out in recent years but it’s still casting a shadow over Cook County property owners’ tax bills, the county’s legal team argues in the latest volley in its lawsuit against one of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders," Crain’s Dennis Rodkin reports. “To compensate for the loss of tax revenue on foreclosures, the county had to ‘raise the tax rates affecting all similar classes of property and, as Cook County has done, raise other taxes,’ according to a filing submitted by State’s Attorney Kim Foxx on Dec. 3.”
— Today, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx will personally file the first motions to vacate low-level cannabis convictions before Chief Judge of the Circuit Court Timothy C. Evans at the George N. Leighton Criminal Courthouse.
— After big first-year wins, Pritzker looks to health care, Chicago casino — and dumping Trump: “I’m very hopeful that in the session of the Legislature that is coming up starting in January that we’ll begin to put together a bill and get it passed,” the rookie governor said about the Chicago casino.” via Sun-Times’ Tina Sfondeles
— Pritzker signs bill promoting diverse workforce on capital projects: “Senate Bill 177 establishes the Illinois Works Jobs Program, which makes $25 million available to community-based organizations — including public colleges and universities — to recruit new apprentices to work on construction projects. It also provides that apprentices will make up 10 percent of the labor force on all projects costing $500,000 or more. The money will come from the $45 billion in capital plan funding,” by Capitol News’ Peter Hancock.
— SCOOP: Syverson promoted casino project backed by his business partner, major campaign donors, via WCIA’s Mark Maxwell.
— Illinois Farm Bureau: Trade deal will help after ‘tough’ 2019: "Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert said Tuesday the new U.S. trade agreement with Canada and Mexico will make two of the state’s top export markets even stronger," WGLT’s Eric Stock reports. "Guebert said the Farm Bureau lobbied for the trade deal after what he called a ‘tough’ year for farmers, due partly to the trade war with China which has shrunk U.S. export markets. … Democrats announced Tuesday they support the proposed trade deal, once they secured stronger labor, environmental and pharmaceutical provisions. That will likely lead to a quick vote on the NAFTA replacement."
— Credit rating agencies warn of risks for Illinois, Chicago: "A pair of credit rating agencies on Tuesday issued warnings on the finances of both the state of Illinois and its largest city," NPR Illinois’ Brian Mackey reports.
— Proposed Illinois school rules would ban secluded timeouts: “The Illinois State Board of Education submitted its proposed rules Tuesday for how schools can restrain students who exhibit dangerous behavior, aiming to protect children and faculty from outbursts but banning the use of prone restraints except as a last resort and the practice of locking such students in timeout rooms all by themselves,” via the AP.
— Raoul seeks to protect tipped workers: “Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul is objecting to proposed federal rule changes that could impact workers whose compensation depends on tips,” via WMAY.
— Rifle group says FOID funds being diverted, via the Telegraph: “Illinois has diverted nearly $30 million generated by gun owners’ user fees to general state spending, according to Richard Pearson, Executive Director of the Illinois State Rifle Association. On Tuesday, Pearson alleged the fees that should be used to reduce the wait time for firearm owner identification (FOID) card applications and the administration of the Illinois Concealed Carry License (ICCL) program is being used elsewhere by the state,” via the Telegraph.
— New laws that take effect Jan. 1, via WGIL.
— Chicago medical marijuana dispensary’s proposed zoning change to operate near Wrigley Field narrowly advances, writes Tribune’s John Byrne.
— 2 more weed cultivation centers approved in Illinois: "State officials announced Tuesday that two downstate cultivation centers have been approved to grow weed for recreational use, bringing the number of cultivation centers in the state to 16. Ataraxia in Albion and Shelby County Community Services in Shelbyville were granted approval to grow cannabis for adult use, according to a statement from the Illinois Department of Agriculture," the Sun-Times reports.
— Immigrants in Illinois should stay away from marijuana: “Under federal immigration law, the sale or possession of marijuana is still illegal, and it can trigger deportation proceedings or keep immigrants from benefits, including naturalization,” by WBEZ’s Maria Ines Zamudio.
— A Q&A on how, where, what to buy when weed stores open, via Tribune’s Ally Marotti.
— Chicago official who allegedly bought booze and patio furniture — and then disputed charges —accused of theft: “George Coleman Jr., deputy commissioner for intergovernmental affairs at the Department of Aviation, faces a charge of continuing financial crimes enterprise,” by Sun-Times’ Matthew Hendrickson.
— Family of firefighter who died of colon cancer and Buffalo Grove are at odds over his pension benefits. An appellate court will now decide, via Pioneer Press’ Karen Ann Cullotta.
— ‘High crimes and misdemeanors’: Dems unveil impeachment charges against Trump, by POLITICO’s Andrew Desiderio, Kyle Cheney and Heather Caygle
— ‘We ate their lunch’: How Pelosi got to ‘yes’ on Trump’s trade deal, by POLITICO’s Megan Cassella
— Pelosi brokers deal with liberals on drug pricing bill, by POLITICO’s Adam Cancryn and Sarah Ferris
— Buttigieg releases names of consulting clients, by POLITICO’s Elena Schneider
Today: AP-NORC Senior Research Scientist David Sterrett and Research Methodologist Ipek Bilgen are featured in a webinar discussing research methodologies used in various projects, including how NORC interviewed nearly 140,000 voters in a week for AP VoteCast. Details here
Dec. 21: A TOY DRIVE and “Monster Truck Parade” are being sponsored by Sen. Kimberly Lightford, Rep. Chris Welch, and the Village of Maywood. Details here
Jan. 9: Ariel Investments co-CEO Mellody Hobson and Wynn Resorts co-founder Elaine Wynn will sit down for a conversation put on by the Executives’ Club. Details here
Alex Kellner, managing director at Bully Pulpit Interactive, and Allie Woods, a special education teacher in Chicago Public Schools, welcomed Harriet "Hattie" Marie Woods-Kellner on Saturday. Pic … Another pic
State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, Illinois Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Doug House, 8th Subcircuit judge-elect Lindsay Huge, and election attorney Burt Odelson.
December 11, 2019 at 07:50AM