Good Monday morning, Illinois. We’re about halfway through summer, into the start of a second Covid wave, and leaders are still battling over a coronavirus relief bill.
One of the most-watched political races in Illinois pits a well-connected Republican against a Democratic newcomer backed by House Speaker Michael Madigan. Both have big money backing their campaigns and in any other election year, this race would see volunteers blanketing the district in door-to-door campaigns.
Republican Rep. Bradley Stephens, who also serves as Rosemont mayor, is defending the 20th District seat he was appointed to last year after Mike McAuliffe resigned. Stephens’ challenger is Michelle Darbro, an EMT and firefighter. They both face the challenge of campaigning amid the coronavirus, which has prevented them from in-person gatherings. Instead, the Northwest Side city and nearby suburban voters can expect an onslaught of campaign literature.
And the messaging will be fierce. Watch for Darbro to focus on Stephens’ tentacles in government and the city contractors donating to his reelection campaign. And the incumbent will make Madigan an issue.
“It’s unclear to me who Brad Stephens plans on serving," Darbro said in a statement to Playbook. "His main focus seems to be securing high salaries for himself and his family. My focus will be lifting up our hard working residents and providing them the support they need during this particularly challenging time.”
Stephens earns $260,000 as mayor and succeeded his father, Donald, who served 14 terms in the job. One nephew also earns more than $256,000 as head of Rosemont’s convention center and another nephew makes $196,000 as head of Rosemont’s police and fire departments.
“It’s not like these are no-show, nothing jobs," he told Playbook, defending his nephews’ work. They’re earning their keep. I’ll throw them up against anybody.”
Familiar faces also play a role in fundraising. In one example, Stephens has accepted some $250,000 over the years in campaign contributions from Krimson Valley Landscaping, a company that contracts with the city of Rosemont to do gardening.
Stephens’ mode of attack will be trickier given Darbro is working on the front lines of coronavirus. “She’s touting herself as a non-politician. I don’t know that this is the time that we need someone who doesn’t understand how things work,” said the Rosemont lawmaker who last week ran a phone poll gauging voters’ concern about certain issues.
Instead, Stephens will attack Madigan. He’s already taking a jab at Darbro for teaming up with Madigan operatives to run her campaign. “It’s Madigan Inc.,” says Stephens, who also called attention to “the serious allegations out there” regarding Madigan being implicated (not charged) in a pay-to-play scheme with ComEd.
Stephens calls himself a pro-labor guy who sometimes votes with Democrats (back in the day, they called that kind of politicking “the Combine”). So he’s flummoxed as to why Madigan is coming after the seat, aside from wanting another “D” in the column.
But Madigan isn’t the only one zeroing in on Stephens. Personal PAC, the organization that supports abortion rights, is also making the race a priority. Stephens acknowledges “I’m pro-life,” while Darbro, who works in the health-care industry, supports abortion rights.
Both candidates are in the hunt for fundraising. Stephens, who’s raising money based on his relationships as mayor, has about $235,000 cash on hand from his two political funds. And Darbro, who is “on the program” with Madigan, has $324,000.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration is overhauling the state’s juvenile justice system to get young people out of prison-like facilities and into smaller, regional settings that are closer to their families.
It’s the first justice-related initiative to come out of the governor’s office since March, the governor told Playbook. “And it’s one of the most exciting days I’ve had" since his attention turned to handling the pandemic.
Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, who leads the Justice Equity and Opportunity Initiative out of the governor’s office, says the administration used the “my child standard” to decide how to switch gears on how the state cares for juveniles in the justice system.
“What would any of us want for our own children if they had to go to a facility like this? Do we want them in large, cinder block warehouses? Or would we want our children to be in home-like or dorm-like facilities?” Stratton said in explaining the “my child standard.”
Fifty to as many as 300 youths are housed in facilities operated by the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice.
Over the next four years, those young people will be transitioned to smaller, regional centers, giving families in central Illinois the chance to avoid having to drive north or south hundreds of miles to see their children, Stratton said.
Tribune’s Jamie Munks has more on the response to the switch.
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No official public events.
At IEMA State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield to launch a public awareness campaign about reducing the spread of Covid-19. Watch live
No official public events.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 14 new deaths to coronavirus on Sunday and 1,467 new confirmed cases. That’s 7,517 total deaths and 181,943 total cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from July 26 to Aug. 1 is 3.9 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is 4.8 percent
— U.S. lacks plan for getting vaccine to communities of color devastated by virus: “With months before the first shots could become available, there’s worry that communities of color could be left behind,” by POLITICO’s Rachel Roubein and Sarah Owermohle.
— Will-Kankakee coronavirus region has fewest beds available: “Positivity rates rose to 6.3 percent, drawing nearer to the 8-percent threshold that would trigger new restrictions,” reports Jonah Meadows for Patch.
— ‘White Trash Bash’ in celebrated by 500 people without masks: “Despite Covid-19 cases ramping up here in the Tri-County area a yearly river party went on Saturday. Around 200 boats filled with people showed up for the 10th annual White Trash Bash,” by WMBD’s Austin Schick.
— Duckworth is nothing and everything like Biden: The New York Times opens with a humorous anecdote in this wide-reaching profile about the Illinois senator:
“Senator Tammy Duckworth, like the man she might serve as vice president, prizes loyalty in her ranks and occasional mischief in her workplace. So when a top communications aide prepared to defect last year to the presidential campaign of Pete Buttigieg, Ms. Duckworth recognized an opportunity. She recorded a faux media interview trashing Buttigieg for hiring her staff away, recruiting an intern to pose as a journalist on the tape. The file was sent to the departing aide, Sean Savett, who called the Buttigieg team in a panic. Soon, Savett was summoned to the Illinois senator’s office, where she fumed theatrically, stalling as other staff members filed in quietly for the reveal: It was all a ruse. Ms. Duckworth handed him a parting gift — a Smirnoff Ice, the centerpiece of a viral drinking game known as ‘icing’ — and gave a final senatorial directive: ‘Get down on one knee and chug.’”
— In an interview Sunday with Fox’s Chris Wallace, Duckworth said: “I think any one of the women whose names have been mentioned being considered are fabulous women and well prepared or step up and do the job of vice president or step up and take over as president if needed.”
— VEEPSTAKES with POLITICO’s Natasha Korecki and Chris Cadelago: “On Sunday, a Biden aide maintained that 11 women remain in the mix, despite most of the attention in recent weeks swirling around five women: Harris, Warren, Rep. Karen Bass, Sen. Tammy Duckworth and former National Security Adviser Susan Rice.
— Fire Department investigating allegation over removal of Black Lives Matter banner: “The Chicago Fire Department on Sunday said it has launched an investigation into an online complaint alleging that someone inside a firetruck removed a Black Lives Matter banner along a curving Kenwood road next to Lake Shore Drive. Dr. Adele Cobbs said she witnessed the removal shortly before 11 a.m. Saturday,” by Tribune’s William Lee.
— Parking meter deal Chicagoans love to hate gets worse — again: “Chicago’s parking meters raked in $138.7 million in 2019. All told, private investors have earned $1.6 billion. That’s nearly $500 million more than their initial, $1.16 billion investment — with 64 years worth of parking meter revenues to go,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.
— 9 killed, 25 wounded in Chicago weekend shootings: “The weekend closed out a July that saw a 139% jump in citywide murders compared to the same month last year, according to police statistics,” via the Sun-Times.
— This story is fishy: “Nearly 60 different types of fish found in Chicago waterways, study shows. 30 years ago, there were fewer than 10,” by Tribune’s Michael Hawthorne.
— MAYORAL APPOINTMENTS: The same day Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the appointment of Chicago’s first-ever Native American to serve as a city commissioner, the City Council’s Latino Caucus complained that the mayor hasn’t hired enough Latinos in top jobs.
… Lightfoot appointed Matthew Beaudet as commissioner of the city’s Department of Buildings on Friday. Beaudet, who has served as acting commissioner for the Department since Judy Frydland’s retirement, is Native American. Marlene Hopkins was named DOB’s first deputy commissioner.
… Separately, state Sen. Iris Martinez, Congressman Chuy Garcia and members of the City Council’s Latino Caucus sent a letter to Lightfoot demanding she respond “to the lack of Latino representation” in her office and in appointed commissioner positions. “Today your office continues to fail, in its staffing and appointments, to reflect a city where nearly a third are Latino residents,” the letter states.
… In fact, Lightfoot’s 20-member senior staff consists of five Black team members, three Latinos, four Asians and eight whites. Lightfoot’s office is working to fill key senior positions: chief engagement officer and deputy mayor of Infrastructure. The 164 new or re-appointments to boards and commissions by the mayor break down this way: 27 percent Black (45), 27 percent Latino (45), 4 percent Asian (7), and 41 percent white (67).
— 30 years after Iraq invaded Kuwait, veterans commemorate Americans killed in Gulf War: “A lot of guys gave their all, left home and were gone for a long time, proud to defend and protect our country,” said former Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago. Sun-TImes’ Tom Schuba reports.
— SCOOP: Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas has pushed lenders to make their borrowers’ property tax payments by today in order to boost the county’s tax flows. The move came after some public-school districts and local governments expressed concerns about a two-month waiver of late fees for the property tax installment due today. They feared a delay would cripple their cash flows. The treasurer, who collects the taxes, urged major lenders to pay by today, even though they were not required by law to pay until Oct. 1. The result: Lenders have already paid $2.46 billion, with another $50.9 million expected to come in today. “If they didn’t pay, I would have taken out full-page ads in all the newspapers,” Pappas said in a statement to Playbook.
— She’s paying the bill for Rockford protesters: Former Rep. Litesa Wallace bonded several protesters out of jail Friday after they were arrested in protests in Rockford, according to her Facebook page. WTVO reports
— Protest calls out white silence after Confederate flag towel displayed on Evanston beach: “LaShandra Smith-Rayfield took a video confronting a man for hanging up his Confederate flag towel at Lighthouse Beach Wednesday. About 300 people gathered Friday to protest,” by Sun-Times’ Clare Proctor.
— Another Niles Police officer dies of injuries in fatal motorcycle crash: “Sgt. Joseph Lazo died Thursday of injuries from a motorcycle crash in Texas, increasing the level of grief for the Niles Police Department, which had previously lost two members in the July 18 crash,” by Pioneer Press’ Jennifer Johnson.
— Federal agent opens fire, thwarts West Side carjacking; suspect gets away: “No one was shot or injured during the situation that unfolded about 6:20 p.m. near the intersection of Austin Boulevard and Madison Street in the South Austin neighborhood, according to Kimberly Nerheim, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives,” by Tribune’s Rosemary Sobol.
— Student activist killed in shooting weeks after protesting police presence in CPS: “Caleb was a son, a brother, a community organizer, and a neighbor. His light and potential have been extinguished at the hands of gun violence, like so many others in Chicago,” Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th) said in the Sun-Times story by Sam Kelly.
— Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s latest issue of Fiscal Focus is out this morning with a cover story about how hard the Covid-19 pandemic is hitting Illinois’ budget. It could be worse than the two-year budget impasse under Gov. Bruce Rauner, she says. Federal help to cover all states’ loss of revenue from the pandemic shut-downs is the best bet for Illinois’ recovery, the article concludes.
— Rep. Delia Ramirez discusses the uphill battle to bring housing justice to Illinois: “There is a system in place that keeps people homeless and poor and it’s so much bigger than any particular organization,” she tells Justin Agrelo for the Reader.
— Fact check: Pritzker didn’t scheme to give ‘politician buddies’ raises amid pandemic: “[T]he state’s General Assembly appropriated no money in the state’s spending bill toward its annual cost-of-living increase, which would be $1,800. The state comptroller has said she will not be paying raises to legislators. Unless legally challenged, Illinois lawmakers will not get raises this year. And Gov. J.B. Pritzker has approved the budget with $0 put toward legislators’ raises,” by USA Today’s Ella Lee.
— Why census matters to Asian Americans: “The census was really important in helping us draw the boundaries for our current district to empower Asian-Americans in this area and give them a voice in state government,” Dem Rep. Theresa Mah says, via Capitol News.
LAHOOD IS LONE ILLINOISAN to vote against bill removing statues in D.C.: The Illinois Republican “supports changing the names of military bases named for Confederate generals. As for the statues, [a spokesman] said on behalf of LaHood, ‘The law provides authority to the states to select which statues represent them in the U.S. Capitol,’” by State Journal-Register’s Bernard Schoenburg.
— Trump campaign nears point of no return, by POLITICO’s David Siders
— Republicans prep for leadership battle if Trump goes down, by POLITICO’s Melanie Zanona
— Leaked audio: Lawyers praised ‘beauty’ of controversial protest-response tactics, by POLITICO’s Betsy Woodruff Swan
Once divided now united: During the primary, Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia and her husband, Reyahd Kazmi of Kazmi Advisors consultants, were divided on who should be president. He supports Joe Biden, she supported Kamala Harris. Now that it’s time to name a VP, their once divided house is united, writes Kazmi in Medium.
The pandemic is eating away at the illicit marijuana market: “Legal sales have boomed since March, though it’s hard to say how many customers previously bought from illegal dealers,” by POLITICO’s Paul Demko and Alexander Nieves.
Joshua May, chief of staff to state Rep. Bob Morgan, is leaving Illinois for Colorado, where he’s joining the Colorado Democratic Party as deputy operations director. (Go Nuggets!)
Throughout August: The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is teaming up with Groupon to host workshops for Black-owned businesses, especially those affected by the Covid-19 crisis. The free workshops will discuss resources available on the community, state and federal levels. Featured speakers include Lieutenant Gov. Juliana Stratton (Aug. 27), state Treasurer Michael Frerichs (Aug. 20), Groupon’s Interim CEO Aaron Cooper (Aug. 27), DCEO Acting Director Michael Negron (Aug. 13), National Urban League President Marc Morial (Aug. 27), among others. Details here
Former Sen. Roland Burris, state Rep. Tom Demmer, Conagra chief comms officer John Harris, Accion CEO and former Durbin aide Brad McConnell, Obama Foundation chief international officer Bernadette Meehan, Tribune reporter Greg Pratt, Metropolitan Water Reclamation Commissioner Debra Shore, and Illinois native and political journalist Jacob Weisberg.
August 3, 2020 at 08:04AM