Happy Thursday, Illinois. The world has been able to avoid election meltdown, but we’re unique.

"Don’t be stupid and become the news story of the day,” Congressman Rodney Davis warned Republican colleagues last week after news broke that one of their own had contracted Covid-19.


Last night, Davis announced he has the virus, too.

In a letter posted on his website, Davis said he tested positive Wednesday morning. He submitted to the test after one of his twice-daily temperature checks “clocked in at 99 degrees Fahrenheit, which is higher than normal for me,” he wrote.

“Because of the high temperature, my wife and I received a test this morning. While my test came back positive, my wife’s test came back negative. My staff who I’ve worked with in-person this week have received negative tests as well. Other than a higher-than-normal temperature, I am showing no symptoms at this time and feel fine.”

Davis has taken greater care than many of his Republican counterparts to wear a mask and adhere to social distancing rules. That, he said in a statement, is because his wife is a nurse and a cancer survivor, “which puts her in an at-risk category like so many Americans.”

Davis said his office has “always followed and will continue to follow CDC guidelines, use social distancing, and wear masks or face coverings when social distancing cannot be maintained.”

The Illinois Republican postponed public events that were planned for the coming days until he receives a negative test.

Last week, Davis urged Republicans to stay safe amid the coronavirus pandemic after Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert, known for walking the halls of Congress without a mask, also tested positive for Covid-19.

Davis is in a rematch with Democrat Betsy Dirksen Londrigan for the 13th District seat. In 2018, Davis won by just over 2,000 votes over Londrigan. This time, the race could be affected by Covid-19 if students at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which is part of the district, don’t return to campus.

Private emails and texts that come out of the mayor’s office qualify as public records, according to a state appellate court decision Wednesday in a years-long case that started under former Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The case was filed in 2016 by the Better Government Association, which at the time sought emails to get information about lead in drinking water in Chicago Public Schools. The city had argued that private emails were not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

The case wended its way through the courts even after Emanuel left office, though Emanuel did start releasing his private emails requested through FOIA.

We learned who his friends were and the requests they made for help in their neighborhoods or businesses. It had the air of a modern-day king hearing pleas from the dukes and duchesses of the land.

When Lightfoot took office, her administration continued to fight the case — and it also clamped down on its policy. The updated rules now state, in part, that “No city business may be conducted on a personal or other non-city email account. City-issued devices shall be used for telephone and email purposes only.”

What the court’s decision means in the small picture: Anytime someone makes a request for emails or text messages, the city has to talk with people to see if they have any records on their private text or email accounts that meet the search parameters. The city had refused to do that, saying it was outside the scope of FOIA.

In the big picture, it will be more difficult for public officials to avoid scrutiny by using private email accounts. The decision follows federal and state court rulings around the country that have universally held that such communication is part of the public record.

Matt Topic, an attorney representing BGA along with Josh Burday and Merrick Wayne, praised the court’s ruling, telling Playbook: “We have a right and an obligation to monitor our government and hold it accountable. Thankfully, the city lost its attempt to create a gaping hole in our transparency laws through use of private emails and text messages.”

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At City Hall where she’ll announce the “Your Home is Someone’s Workplace” program to support care workers.

No official public events.

No official public events

— The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 30 additional deaths Wednesday and 1,759 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease. That’s a total of 7,573 deaths and 186,471 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from July 29 to Aug. 4 is 3.9 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is 4.8 percent.

City begins using state’s method to calculate positivity rates, by WTTW’s Heather Cherone

THE SUMMER OF SPREAD IS HERE: “New Jersey, where 16,000 residents are believed to have died from Covid-19 since March, serves as a test case of whether any state can really reopen safely,” reports POLITICO’s Sam Sutton and Brianna Ehley.

Cook County teen added, then removed from statewide Covid-19 death toll, highlighting corrections in daily data release: “But the teen didn’t die from COVID-19. He was added to the list erroneously, representatives of both state and local agencies said Wednesday — one of about 100 instances of deaths that at first were wrongfully attributed to the coronavirus, then removed from state data after further review, according to officials,” by Tribune’s Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas.

Pritzker not sold on mandatory Covid-19 vaccine for school attendance: “I can’t imagine that,” he said during a Covid-19 briefing. “What I do think is that once a vaccine is available, I think many, many people will want to get vaccinated. We obviously want to get to herd immunity,” via NBC/5.

LINCOLN LIBRARY CANCELS EXHIBITION over racial sensitivity concerns: “The exhibition on domestic terrorism had been on tour since 2006 and had previously been displayed at four presidential libraries and museums, including the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Texas, last year.

“…But in recent weeks the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill., canceled the exhibition’s engagement there, citing concerns from visitors of color who had previewed it and determined that several of the displays were outdated or lacking in context,” by New York Times’ Sarah Bahr.

POLITICO NIGHTLY’s Renuka Rayasam interviews Sen. Tammy Duckworth about her “unique perspective on the coronavirus crisis: She’s one of the few mothers of young children in the Senate, and is facing the child care and virtual schooling crisis first hand."

Duckworth, who’s also a VP candidate, says: “Some of the school districts have published what the potential schedule is going to look like and it’s going to be 9 to 3 online education. How does anybody manage that with their children and hold down a job? You can’t even telecommute from home because you are being the teachers assistant. I definitely want our kids to go back to school, but we can’t do it unless we spend the money and send funding out to our school districts so they can afford to make schools safe so our kids can go back to school.”

ComEd pleads not guilty to bribery scheme despite admissions made in government deal: “During its arraignment by telephone Wednesday, U.S. District Judge John Kness also agreed to put off the case against ComEd for three years.” by Sun-Times’ Jon Seidel.

— Rep. Adam Kinzinger says the federal investigation of political corruption connected to ComEd should not impact the two Exelon nuclear power plants in Illinois that the state bailed out in 2016. “The revelations are sobering,” Kinzinger said during a virtual town hall (at the 11 minute mark). “We deserve better. If these were Republicans, I would be saying the same thing. Corruption should be the rare and sad exception, not something we should come to expect… Those who have violated the law should be accountable. But if we shut nuclear power in Illinois because of this, we’ll realize too late that that’s a massive mistake.”

Chicago promises to ‘improve’ virtual learning as it plans for all-remote start: “The district said the first quarter will be all-remote and that the aim will be to move toward a hybrid model with some in-person learning by the start of the second quarter on Nov. 9,” by Chalkbeat Chicago’s Yana Kunichoff and Cassie Walker Burke.

Chicago Catholic schools will stick with in-person learning as CPS goes online for the fall: “As Chicago Public Schools switches to remote learning for the fall, the Archdiocese of Chicago said it’s sticking to its plan to bring students back to classrooms this fall,” by Sun-Times’ Madeline Kenney.

Here’s what a virtual school day will look like for CPS students, by Sun-Times.

CPD warns officers of possible retaliation for killing of rapper FBG Duck in Gold Coast shooting: “The rapper, whose name was Carlton Weekly, was shot Tuesday afternoon on Oak Street after two men jumped out of cars and opened fire. On Wednesday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot urged the public to help police catch the shooters, saying, ‘Give no shelter to killers,’” by Sun-Times’ Frank Main and Fran Spielman.

Lane Tech school council votes to abolish ‘Indian’ mascot: “Even though the vote is advisory, a CPS spokesman said Wednesday ‘the mascot is being officially removed’ and that Lane will ‘now engage their school community to select a new one,’” by Sun-Times’ Stefano Esposito.

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: The Cook County Land Bank is partnering with Chicago CRED Safer Foundation and other organizations to help residents and formerly incarcerated individuals get access to affordable housing and job opportunities, according to the Land Bank, which will officially announce the partnership today. The projects has The Safer Foundation, Chicago CRED, Cara and the Inner-City Muslim Action Network teaming up to build affordable housing, provide construction workforce training and technical assistance. The goal is to increase equity, access and job opportunities for more Cook County residents. Arne Duncan, the former U.S. Education secretary who heads Chicago CRED, praised the effort, saying, “CRED values this partnership and looks forward to its growth.”

Republicans use Madigan scandal to attack opponents: “State Rep. Mark Batinick and other Republicans are using the bribery scheme tied to House Speaker Michael Madigan to go after their Democratic election opponents. Batinick, R-Plainfield, has turned up his attacks on Harry Benton, a Plainfield village trustee and the Democratic nominee for the 97th House District,” by Herald-News’ Alex Ortiz.

Masks one more thing voters will get to decide on Election Day: “Although Illinois requires face coverings in public indoor spaces, such as grocery or drug stores, mandating their use in the voting booth would raise some sticky legal issues of possible voter suppression,” by Sun-Times’ Mark Brown.

Wanted: Young people to work the polls in November, by NPR’s Barbara Sprunt

Pritzker warns of ‘extraordinarily painful’ cuts, job losses if D.C. doesn’t provide relief funding: “Illinois’ budget for the year that began July 1 is heavily dependent upon federal aid, which would be used to pay back borrowing of up to $5 billion under a special program through the Federal Reserve. In addition, the shift of the state’s income tax deadline to July 15, which was in line with federal action, caused a revenue deficit for the previous budget year, which ended June 30,” by Tribune’s Rick Pearson and Jamie Munks.

… MORE ON THAT D.C. PLAYBOOK: TALKS are still stalled, and zero progress was made Wednesday. It seems unlikely that a deal in principle or in theory will be reached by Friday. White House chief of staff Mark MEADOWS put it this way to reporters: “There are no top-line numbers that have been agreed to. We continue to be trillions of dollars apart.”

Mendoza warns of dangers ahead, too: She says: “the state began the fiscal year on July 1 with a backlog of pasat-due bills totaling nearly $5.4 billion. But that was only because the state borrowed $1.2 billion from the Federal Reserve’s Municipal Liquidity Facility – money that has to be paid back in its entirety, with 3.52-percent interest, during the current fiscal year that ends June 30, 2021,” by Capitol News’ Peter Hancock.

Pritzker: ‘Highly experienced money launderers’ behind 120,000-plus fraudulent unemployment claims: “Governor said the program, created through the federal coronavirus relief package, left it up to each state to develop its own system: ‘As a result, there were massive holes for illegal fraudsters to steal federal dollars from taxpayers across the country,’” by Sun-Times’ Mitchell Armentrout.

Facebook must better police online hate, attorney generals say: Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul leads in letter that puts new pressure on Mark Zuckerberg and his company, by the New York Times.

Sheriffs waste no time moving inmates after judge’s order: “A Logan County judge found that the governor has no authority to bar transfers of sentenced inmates or those on holds for parole violations from local jails to state prisons. The judge’s decision prompted Champaign County Sheriff Dustin Heuerman, among others throughout the state, to take immediate advantage of the order,’” by News Gazette’s Jim Dey.

State rental assistance program to launch next week: “IHDA is opening online applications Monday for $5,000 grants to catch up on payments since March or cover payments through December,” by NPR Illinois’ Mary Hansen.

Clean energy advocates hope to capitalize on ComEd backlash, by WTTW’s Amanda Vinicky

Data shows state moved backward in some racial equity metrics: “The Illinois Board of Higher Education is preparing a strategic plan to make higher education in the state more equitable, which will be released for public scrutiny sometime between late December and early March of next year,” by Capitol News’ Raymon Troncoso.

SEARCH YOUR SCHOOL: Put your college through a financial stress test: “American higher education is facing a crisis, and not just because of the coronavirus. Our Financial Fitness Tracker lets you see how your school is doing,” from Pete D’Amato of the Hechinger Report.

Schaumburg’s first pot dispensary opens near Woodfield Mall: “Schaumburg’s first marijuana dispensary opened with little fanfare Wednesday — but the customers who visited Sunnyside were happy to learn it’s ready for business,” by Daily Herald’s Russell Lissau.

Emboldened Pelosi takes hard line as relief talks drag on, by POLITICO’s Heather Caygle, John Bresnahan and Sarah Ferris

A growing side effect of the pandemic: Permanent job loss, by POLITICO’s Megan Cassella

What Ebola taught Susan Rice about the next pandemic, by POLITICO’s Blake Hounshell

Facebook and Twitter sanction Trump for post claiming kids are ‘virtually immune’ to coronavirus by POLITICO’s Matthew Choi

Journalists’ Twitter use shows them talking within smaller bubbles: “Beltway journalism ‘may be even more insular than previously thought,’ say study authors Nikki Usher and Yee Man Margaret Ng, “raising additional concerns about vulnerability to groupthink and blind spots,” by Craig Chamberlain with U. of I. News Bureau.

— This morning: Rod Blagojevich headlines on the Maze Jackson Show (it started at 7 a.m.!) about what it means to be Public Official A. WBGX 1570 AM

— Today: Rep. Bill Foster and former U.S. Energy Secretary Ernie Moniz will talk with Jill Biden as part of a “Scientists for Joe Biden” fundraising event. Details here

— Tonight: Young Democrats of Illinois is hosting a virtual town hall at 6 p.m. to roll out a new youth voter initiative called YVote. The group hopes to register 10,000 new voters across the state.

— Jane Kim Funk has been named the new chair of Lightfoot for Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s political organization. She takes the position that had been held by the late Michael Bauer, an attorney and political activist who died last year after a long illness. “Jane Kim Funk is committed to building a Chicago that offers opportunity and equity for every resident in every neighborhood,” Lightfoot said in a release. “Her leadership will be instrumental in guiding our organization through the political challenges our city faces—starting with the critical 2020 elections.” Kim Funk is an attorney and VP of Xact Data Discovery (XDD), a data management firm. She is also an active board member of the Asian American Bar Association of Chicago and co-founder of Decisis, a diverse, educational, legal non-profit.

— Jaylin McClinton, a student at the Chicago-Kent College of Law, is wrapping up his stint in Motorola Solutions’ legal department. Later this fall, McClinton will serve as a federal judicial extern for U.S. District Judge Sara Ellis.

— Eli Stone is campaign manager for Sarah Yacoub’s race for the Wisconsin State Assembly. Stone, a recent high school grad who’s already worked on numerous Illinois campaigns, is taking a gap year to work during this high-stakes political season.

State Rep. Debbie Meyers-Martin (38th), Illinois Young Democrats President Arielle Maffei, and Chicago Aviation Department Deputy Commissioner Cory Thames. And a belated happy birthday to Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride, who celebrated Wednesday.




August 6, 2020 at 07:11AM

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