Good Monday morning, Illinois. I’m simulating a convention breakfast as you read this.

IT’S CONVENTION WEEK! Illinois delegates kicked off the Democratic National Convention with their usual Sunday night reception — but without the cheese curds and beer that would have been available in Milwaukee, where the convention was supposed to have been held. Covid-19 precautions put a damper on all that.


“The fact that we can’t be in Milwaukee is a reflection on how [President Donald] Trump mismanaged Covid-19,” Sen. Tammy Duckworth said during the 90-minute virtual rally. “Bottom line. We’ve gotta win this thing, and we’ve gotta work like hell to do it.”

Virtually all of the convention will be, er, virtual. That’s four nights of being a couch potato.

“Latinos are very touchy-feely people and not being there together, in person with people who have something in common and share a vision for the future is almost distressing,” Rep. Chuy García told Tribune reporters Bill Ruthhart and Rick Pearson in their story about the Covid convention.

Sunday’s speakers during the Zoom rally worked to rev up Democrats as they would have if they were together. There was no talk of corruption scandals or protests in the streets — both headlines in recent weeks. House Speaker Michael Madigan, the state party leader whose name has been pulled into a controversial influence peddling probe, appeared just long enough to welcome the group to the event.

And the internal strife that divided the party four years ago between supporters of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders is missing, too. Instead, the theme going into the convention is unity for Joe Biden — and ousting Trump.

“As Democrats, we’ve long known that our diversity is the source of our greatest strength. To that end, every day until Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in, we must be stronger than we have ever been,” Senate President Don Harmon told the group.

Sunday’s speakers hammered at what Rep. Brad Schneider called “Trump’s disastrous failings,” from trying to dismantle the Affordable Care Act to challenging the country’s education, justice, and intelligence systems. “And now the U.S. Postal Service is under attack.”

Sen. Dick Durbin (whose grandson popped into the Zoom) shared that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had just told him she was summoning the House back in session later this week to confront Trump’s attempts to undermine the Postal Service. “We can’t let this current postmaster general, a million-dollar contributor to Donald Trump’s campaign, corrupt the postal service,” he said, referring to Louis DeJoy.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot called for unity, and Gov. J.B. Pritzker warned fellow Democrats they should take nothing for granted. “We’ve seen this movie before,” he said, referring, of course, to polls four years ago showing Clinton with an edge over Trump. “The security of our nation is in peril,” he said.

This year’s convention is the first in 12 years that won’t have an Illinois native at the top of the ticket. Clinton and former President Barack Obama counted Illinois as home, at least for a while. (Kamala Harris lived here — briefly — too, reports One Illinois’ Ted Cox.)

Reps. Cheri Bustos and Danny Davis, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar spoke Sunday, too — Klobuchar is an adopted Illinoisan, having attended law school here.

Though this year’s convention is virtual, the swag is still real. Illinois delegates started receiving boxes of the promotional products in recent days, reports ABC/7’s Craig Wall.

Included in the bags: hand-sanitizer and an Illinois Strong mask, said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, modeling hers in the video.


Bizarro convention week kicks off in…wherever, by POLITICO’s Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman.

Michelle Obama headlines tonight‘s program, via the DNC.

Can the Democratic Party hold together? Four big voices talk to POLITICO’s John F. Harris and Holly Otterbein.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was on national TV Sunday addressing the protests that have engulfed Chicago’s downtown during the past two weekends.

“People have embedded themselves in these seemingly peaceful protests,” Lightfoot said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “We are absolutely not going to tolerate people who come to these protests looking for a fight and are intending to injure our police officers and injure innocent people who just come to be able to express their First Amendment rights.”

The latest protest (Saturday) was focused on defunding the Chicago Police Department and abolishing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Police say it became violent when protesters pushed at police and someone swung a skateboard at officers. Protesters say police used force against some in the crowd. The Tribune pulled together video from both sides. In all, 24 protesters were arrested and 17 officers were hurt, according to the Sun-Times. Looting didn’t materialize like it did a week ago but that isn’t likely to calm the critics much.

Progressives elected to public office issued a statement condemning police for thier response. And Berto Aguayo, a protester and activist who worked on Lightfoot’s mayoral campaign, suggested such protests could continue. “We would like to see an apology from the mayor’s office and the Chicago Police Department … for the violence they used to attack Chicago residents,” Aguayo told the Tribune. “Before anything else happens, that’s the prerequisite.”

A Sun-Times’ headline describes the conflicting reports of the latest incident as “the blame game.”

What’s clear: Both weekends of demonstrations show the fine line the mayor must walk at a time when Covid-19 continues to pose a real threat, a police reform agenda is still up in the air, a budget hole must be filled, and a presidential election hangs in the balance.

If we were in person in Milwaukee, you’d pull me aside for a tip. This week, you can email instead: [email protected]

No official public events.

In East St. Louis at 1:30 p.m. to to discuss the Covid-19 response in the Metro East region. Watch live

On vacation and back to work Aug. 24.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 18 new deaths due to Covid-19 on Sunday and 1,562 new confirmed cases. That’s a total of 7,744 deaths and 206,081 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from Aug. 9 through 15 is 4.1 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is 5.0 percent.

Spike in St. Louis region prompts new restrictions: “Illinois is imposing new restrictions in the ‘Metro East’ region outside St. Louis, including limiting bar and restaurant hours and shrinking the size of permitted gatherings, after the 7-day Covid-19 positivity rate there exceeded 8 percent for a third day Sunday,” by WGN/9’s Mike Ewing.

Can little kids really social distance? “Lessons from child care centers that have stayed open during the pandemic, and why it might not work in schools,” by Tribune’s Claire Hao.

Transit’s fate tied to trust — and probably federal cash: “Working with business groups, the CTA, Metra and Pace are trying to get nervous riders back on board,” by Sun-Times’ David Roeder.

Face masks, smaller classes and distanced desks: Europe’s back-to-school plan: “Across the Continent, governments are trying to ensure pupils and teachers can safely return to school,” by POLITICO’s Jacopo Barigazzi.

What the NBA could teach Trump about coronavirus: “On Wednesday, the National Basketball Association reported for the fourth consecutive week that out of 344 currently active players, zero have tested positive for the coronavirus. It’s not because they’re young, or healthy, or lucky: They work for an organization that has gone to immense lengths to combat the virus’ spread, confining its players to a fully quarantined sci-fi ‘bubble’ that resembles almost nothing else in America. And, so far, it’s resulting in a game that’s the closest thing to ‘normal’ we may see for quite some time,” by Derek Robertson for POLITICO.

— Lightfoot: ‘We’re never going to get everything that we need from the federal government,’ she says during an interview on CBS.

SCOOP: Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx is taking time off from political activities to be with her husband, Kelley, who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, according to a spokeswoman.

Kelley Foxx, who recently was named public policy manager at Instacart in Chicago, is expected to have surgery this week. Kim Foxx is pulling back from political activities to help with his recovery and to care for their family — the Foxxes have four daughters. Kim Foxx and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot have been working to address recent spikes in violence in Chicago.

In a statement from Lightfoot and her wife, the mayor said: “Amy and I are keeping State’s attorney Foxx and Kelley in our thoughts during this challenging time. Our teams will continue to work together to ensure public safety in the weeks ahead.”

SHIFTING PREDICTIONS: With less than 80 days until the Nov. 3 general election, the Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan political newsletter, predicts Democrats will win control of the Senate. And, it shifted its predictions for a few Illinois races, too.

Cook moved Democratic Rep. Sean Casten and GOP challenger Jeanne Ives’ match-up from “likely” Democrat to “solid” Democrat.

Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood and GOP challenger Jim Oberweis’ race moved from “leaning” Democrat to “likely” Democrat.

And the race between Republican Rep. Rodney Davis and Democratic challenger Betsy Dirksen Londrigan moved from “tossup” to “leaning” Republican.

Overnight restricted access to downtown Chicago lifted: “Chicagoans have full access to the city until further notice,” via NBC/5.

Glitter and Glue: “A truth and reconciliation commission worked in South Africa. Could it in Chicago — or would it be purely performance?” By Robert Reed in Chicago magazine.

— OPINION: FOP’s John Catanzara calls prosecutor Kim Foxx soft on criminals: He points to felony cases dropped under Foxx, saying, “This is a disgraceful record that endangers our community and should disqualify any prosecutor from remaining in office, much less from being reelected. But Foxx wants to keep her job, so is now trying frantically to portray herself as more interested in protecting law-abiding residents than protecting lawbreakers.”

A two-minute guide to the Salt Creek Dam conflict: “Environmentalists want to improve biodiversity in Oak Brook. A historic mill is trying to stop them. What a quaint throwback to when feuds didn’t involve face masks!” By Grace Perry in Chicago magazine.

A day after reopening, historic Long Grove bridge damaged when a school bus gets stuck in the structure: “Within 24 hours of reopening, Long Grove’s Robert Parker Coffin Road Bridge was damaged when a yellow school bus struck the historic structure, officials said Saturday. The bridge, which was seriously damaged in 2018 when an overweight box truck plowed into the structure, reopened Friday to fanfare and celebration,” by Tribune’s Karie Angell Luc.

Illinois casinos rake in $82.6 million in first month since coronavirus shutdown: “The state’s 10 casinos each took a sizable hit in revenue, but not as bad as many were expecting in the first month back from the COVID-19 shutdown — and numbers actually went up for Illinois’ video gaming terminals,” by Sun-Times’ Mitchell Armentrout.

— Fact-check: Pritzker’s mostly correct about Illinois’ historic unemployment spike: “Speaking to the challenges the state unemployment system faced when COVID-19 struck, Gov. Pritzker said unemployment claims topped numbers seen during the Great Recession many times over. His estimate is in the ballpark,” by Better Government Association’s Kiannah Sepeda-Miller.

The pandemic hasn’t ended the campus culture wars: “Even if they don’t have a campus, throngs of conservative college groups are getting creative to try to maintain the energy Trump tapped in 2016,” by POLITICO’s Tina Nguyen.

Illinois universities losing millions as students stay home: “UIC expects to lose $15 million with the number of students living on campus slashed in half, while Loyola expects a $50 million hit,” by Sun-Times’ Clare Proctor.

What a Census undercount means for Illinois: “Empty campuses and Covid-19 could end up reducing the amount of money flowing from Washington to Illinois,” reports Jeremy Gantz in Center for Illinois Politics.

R. Kelly, Kanye confidante, now a pot lobbyist, wins praise for tenacity, criticism for ‘abhorrent’ comments: “Trevian Kutti has already ruffled feathers in the world of Illinois politics, saying she plans ‘to keep my knee on [the] neck’ of the state’s top pot official, who like her, is African American,” by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba

Kinzinger: ‘It’s time’ for leaders to disavow QAnon: “The Illinois Republican called on leaders of both parties to stand up against far-right wing conspiracy theories that have circulated in recent days,” by POLITICO’s Allie Bice.

Pelosi calls back House over Postal Service upheaval, by POLITICO’s John Bresnahan, Sarah Ferris and Heather Caygle.

State of the presidential race with a deep dive into the polls, by POLITICO’s Steven Shepard

Defund the police? It’s already happening thanks to the Covid-19 budget crunch, by POLITICO’s Rebecca Rainey and Maya King

Gov. James Thompson, died Friday and the tributes flowed. Thompson, 84, stood tall in Illinois political history. At 6-foot-6 he was known as “Big Jim,” and he lived up to the moniker throughout his career, serving longer than any other Illinois governor. Thompson was elected four times, holding the state’s top political office from 1977 to 1991.

Sun-Times’ Neil Steinberg and Michael Sneed called him “the most popular governor of the past half century,” noting that his name popped up in the 1970s as a potential GOP presidential running mate.

“Part of his legacy being a man from Chicago — who loves Chicago — was that he also loved every part of the state and spent tremendous time in southern and western Illinois. He didn’t neglect them,” Jayne Thompson told the Sun-Times. “He was dedicated to building infrastructure in Illinois.”

His long legacy in Chicago: He restored Navy Pier, kept the White Sox in the city and with a new stadium, and opened a controversial downtown office building that bears his name, writes the Tribune’s Rick Pearson and Rosemary Sobol.

The modernization man: “Longtime observers of Illinois government and politics credit Thompson with presiding over the modernization of state government and spearheading what was at the time the largest capital construction program in the state’s history. He was also known to be an effective administrator with an ability to eye and attract talented people to work in state government,” reports State Journal-Register’s Brenden Moore.

Former Gov. George Ryan remembers his friend: “Jim Thompson was a giant the state won’t forget,” he tells Sun-Times Michael Sneed.

Today at 1:30 p.m.: Republican Rep. Mike Bost and Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider, both members of the Problem Solvers Caucus in Congress, headline this free webinar titled: “Three Years after Charlottesville: Bipartisanship, Community, and Combating Hate in 2020.” Details here

Tony Abruscato has joined Strategia Consulting, a woman-owned government affairs and crisis communications firm. He is now a senior strategist and will also continue his work as the founder of The Get Growing Foundation, a nonprofit that creates gardens and promotes garden education.

State Rep. Michelle Mussman (56th), Chicago House CEO Michael Herman, former United Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Pat Stanton, and Mike Lawrence, former director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.




August 17, 2020 at 08:05AM

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