The theater of Illinois politics played out in Springfield Thursday with the start of a rare disciplinary process that’s supposed to reveal how House Speaker Michael Madigan is involved in the ComEd bribery scandal.
No surprise, the hearing erupted in public political backbiting, but there’s some drama behind the scenes, too.
The longest-serving state House speaker in the country is not charged in the case. He’s not even named. But Madigan is implicated as Public Official A — the Svengali who allegedly arranged for allies and supporters to get jobs, contracts and payments from ComEd.
Enter House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, who petitioned for the probe. On Thursday, he called for lawmakers to charge Madigan with “conduct unbecoming to a legislator.” The six-member panel includes Republicans who are facing election challenges from well-funded Democrats in November.
The speaker called Durkin’s move a political stunt. Republicans are also frothing at the possibility of getting Madigan to testify. And Democrats would just like the curtains to close.
The bipartisan committee showed its political colors Thursday, with the head of the panel, Democratic Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, carefully maneuvering the group to slow down the process. He delayed moving ahead with hearings until first conferring with federal investigators.
Welch’s concern: “We have very little precedent to go by,” he said. House investigations have been called only twice before: once last year after former Rep. Luis Arroyo was charged with bribery (he stepped down before the committee met) and once in 2012 when then-state Rep. Derrick Smith was indicted for bribery.
“I have studied the Derrick Smith transcripts all weekend long and we’re going to follow precedent. And we have to make sure we contact the U.S. attorney’s office and get a response before this committee can do any work further,” Welch said.
Republican Rep. Deanne Mazzochi pushed back, saying there’s a “whole host of work” the committee could address on its own. Welch didn’t disagree but held firm that the panel will first “reach out to the U.S. attorney’s office” for guidance. There was a lot of political posturing, notes WTTW’s Amanda Vinicky, who includes video clips from lawmakers.
Behind the scenes, Mazzochi is feeling the brunt of Madigan’s power as head of the state Democratic Party, which has pumped $50,000 into the campaign of her opponent. Jennifer Zordani has $231,000 cash on hand heading into the November election compared to Mazzochi’s $131,000.
Another Republican on the panel, Durkin ally Rep. Grant Wehrli, has $160,000 cash on hand. His opponent, Janet Yang Rohr, has $578,000 in the bank — including $57,800 donated just this week from another Madigan soldier: Rep. Greg Harris.
Mazzochi and Wehrli might prefer the free press that comes with a public hearing. But don’t be surprised if this saga plays out for a long while — maybe even past the Nov. 3 election.
All the players who could be called to testify before the House panel (eventually) are detailed in Jamie Munks’ story in the Tribune.
Madigan will probably win bigger than ever come November, writes Edward McLelland in Chicago magazine.
EVICTIONS ARE STILL HAPPENING: In a report out this morning, the Tribune says “Chicago-area renters are still being pushed out of their homes with threats of lockouts and notices on doors, despite Covid-19 eviction moratorium.
“And despite Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s latest extension on the statewide eviction moratorium (currently set to expire Sept. 19) and a federal halt on some evictions through 2020, some people continue to receive warnings of evictions that can seem like the real thing… In Cook County, there were 3,339 eviction cases filed between March and August, according to county officials. Although the cases cannot proceed through the courts and be carried out by a county sheriff until the moratorium is lifted, landlords have filed the paperwork necessary to start the process as soon as they can.” by Darcel Rockett and Hannah Herrera Greenspan.
Have a tip, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? Get in touch: [email protected]
A Chicago Fire Department’s Engine 42 to commemorate the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
At Cara Chicago’s nonprofit HQ at 11 a.m. to announce investments to expand job opportunities for those who have become unemployed due to Covid-19. Watch live
At Oak Lawn Patriot Station at 9:11 a.m. for a ceremony on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 28 additional deaths due to the coronavirus and 1,953 new confirmed cases. That’s 8,242 total deaths and 255,643 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from Sept. 3 through 9 is 3.8 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 5.0 percent.
— Without more federal funds, experts say a wave of bankruptcies is coming: “The PPP money kept people out of bankruptcy this summer,” said Brian Shaw, a bankruptcy attorney at Cozen O’Connor in Chicago. “You’re going to see a wave of closures after Labor Day. Businesses just are not going to be able to continue.” By Tribune’s Robert Channick
— Pritzker addresses rise in hospitalizations — and the need for jobs: “The percentage of positive coronavirus tests appears to be trending downward in Illinois after rising for much of the summer, but state officials remain concerned about stubbornly high positivity rates in certain regions as well as rising hospitalizations,” reports Tribune’s Dan Petrella. The news came as Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced “nearly $17 million effort to connect roughly 1,300 people who are unemployed amid the coronavirus pandemic with training and jobs.”
— As Covid drives need for locally sourced food, Chicago, downstate farmers get help scaling up: “As the pandemic continues to impact the import and transport of food, Illinois and other states are throwing support behind local food growers; 27 farms, including three in Chicago, recently split $250,000 in Illinois grant support,” by Sun-Times’ Maudlyne Ihejirika.
— U. of I. had a great coronavirus plan, but students partied on: “An unexpected upswing in positive tests at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign showed how even the most comprehensive approaches to limiting the virus’ spread can break down,” reports New York Times’ Kenneth Chang.
— To address wedding cases, volunteer project begins contact tracing within Chicago’s Orthodox community, by Jewish Telegraph Agency’s Shira Hanau.
Famed Ford collector Jerry Capizzi, his wife Carolyn Capizzi of Park Ridge dead of Covid-19: “The couple’s deaths within 3 days of each other in May were just announced by their family. She was a property manager, he a collector who knew Henry Ford,” by Sun-Times’ Maureen O’Donnell.
— About 1 in 5 CWLP customers have past due bills, utility urges them to get on payment plan: “Those who are not a payment plan or seeking financial assistance could be at risk for disconnection ‘in the weeks ahead,’ said Amber Sabin, spokesperson for the city-owned utility,” by NPR Illinois’ Mary Hansen.
— Major FOID card backlog, ammo shortage cause headaches for gun store owners, buyers: “When the pandemic started, FOID card applications in Illinois skyrocketed almost triple the amount from what they were in months before. Now there’s a backlog with an overall wait time of 94 days,” by WMBD’s Matt Sheehan.
— FanDuel Par-A-Dice Sportsbook opens for in-person sports betting ahead of NFL kickoff: “Gamblers can now bet on sports in person in Central Illinois for the first time,” reports WMBD’s Janie Bohlmann.
— Hundreds of children stuck in psychiatric hospitals: “The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services promised to rescue children languishing in psychiatric hospitals for weeks and sometimes months beyond medical necessity. But the state hasn’t delivered and the problem has only gotten worse,” by ProPublica’s Duaa Eldeib.
— Here’s Lightfoot’s plan to remove Chicago’s lead pipes: “After decades of forcing Chicagoans to install lead water lines in their homes, the city is finally launching a program to remove them,” by WBEZ’s Monica Eng.
… “Chicago, the last big American city to require water pipes made of brain-damaging lead, is now the last one beginning to rip toxic pipes out of the ground,” reports Tribune’s Michael Hawthorne.
— Lopez proposes dramatic expansion of city’s camera surveillance network: “His own Ring doorbell camera captured video of two offenders throwing three bricks through his front window. Now Ald. Ray Lopez wants that same technology to provide ‘thousands of new eyes’ for Chicago Police officers,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.
— Chicago’s eviction cliff is here: “Even with millions of dollars in pandemic assistance, renters and landlords are facing a day of reckoning,” by Sara Freund for Chicago magazine.
— COPA improperly ended some police misconduct investigations, says OIG: “The Office of the Inspector General issued its advisory findings Thursday, saying that the Civilian Office of Police Accountability’s practice of ‘administratively terminating’ misconduct complaints ‘is ill-defined and frequently misapplied,’” by Sun-Times’ Sam Charles.
— FACT-CHECK: No link between fake IDs seized at O’Hare and voter fraud: “A viral Facebook post claims nearly 20,000 fake state driver’s licenses seized at O’Hare International Airport were all for voters registered as Democrats. But the counterfeit IDs have not been linked to Democrats or voter fraud in any way,” by Madison Czopek for Better Government Association.
— COMMENTARY: Teachers: It’s time to talk about our secondary trauma: “The struggles of remote learning — notably, the inequitable distribution of technology, and low student participation for a multitude of reasons — only added to our uncertainty. We’ve been left to wonder about our students: Are they healthy? Are they safe?” by Bryan Meeker for Chalkbeat Chicago.
— Douglas Park signs come down to make way for new name: Frederick and Anna Murray Douglass Park: “The signs were removed just a day after the park district board voted to remove the name of Stephen Douglas from the park,” by Block Club’s Pascal Sabino.
— A challenging and memorable bike ride around Chicago’s exact city limits, by John Greenfield in the Reader
Rare flowers are sprouting in forest preserves: “An almost tropical-looking pink flower in the hibiscus family grows tall at the edge of a wetland in the Cook County forest preserves near Palos Park. The flower, a swamp rose mallow, is a rare sight in the Chicago area because its habitat has been damaged by development and generations of settlers who brought nonnative plants to the area from Europe and Asia, experts say,” by Tribune’s Madeline Buckley.
— Long delays for justice in Cook County: ‘I’m not at peace,’ mother of murder victim says: “The number of people held more than 5 years in the Cook County Jail is sharply up, to 130, a Sun-Times analysis finds. Most are awaiting trial for murder,” by Sun-Times’ Frank Main.
— Former DCFS staff members in A.J. Freund case arrested, charged with child endangerment: The two staffers “are named in a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of the slain boy’s estate, which represents his three siblings. The lawsuit alleges that the former state employees showed “an inhumane indifference to AJ’s safety” in their handling of the December 2018 hotline investigation,” by Tribune’s Christy Gutowski.
Conversation between key witness and attorney can’t be used as evidence, judge says: “Judge James Linn also denied a request byJussie Smollett’s attorneys to dismiss the ongoing criminal case against the former ‘Empire’ actor,” by Sun-Times’ Matthew Hendrickson.
2 Cook County judges, indicted Ald. Ed Burke, 3 retired judges partnered in investment club: “Judge Michael Toomin presides over the juvenile justice division and is running for retention in November. Judge James Shapiro hears family law cases,” by Injustice Watch’s Steve Garrison.
— BIDEN HAS FOUGHT A PANDEMIC BEFORE. It did not go smoothly: “[A]n extensive review of the handling of H1N1, including the examination of public records and congressional testimony, suggests the response was not the panacea portrayed by the Biden camp and its defenders: Biden’s role, while significant, was not equivalent to leading the response,” writes POLITICO’s Natasha Korecki.
— KANYE still fighting to stay on ballot in Wisconsin as court halts mailing of absentee ballots: “The conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a halt in the mailing of absentee ballots until it gives the go-ahead or makes any future ruling about who should be on the ballot in the critical battleground state.” Up in the air: Lawsuits by Kanye West and the Green Party candidate to get on the ballot, by the AP.
— GOP rival says Foxx has ‘made us less safe’ — she counters O’Brien’s style as prosecutor was ‘win at any cost’: “Kim Foxx, Pat O’Brien and Libertarian candidate Brian Dennehy sparred for well over an hour before the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board, trying to win the newspaper’s endorsement,” by Sun-Times’ Rachel Hinton.
— Chicagoans meet with Kamala: Chicago political players were on hand for a virtual fundraiser with Democrat VP candidate Kamala Harris on Thursday: The event was co-hosted by Desiree Rogers, the CEO of Black Opal Beauty cosmetics company, and attorney Stacey Sherr Michelon. On hand were Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts, former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Valerie Austin Alexander, the former chief of staff to Sen. Dick Durbin. Rogers described Harris as someone who “has no fear” and as a skinny-jeans and Chuck Taylors-wearing “boss queen,” according to a pool report.
— Jeanne Ives is out with a clever ad in her run for the 6th Congressional District. The ad tells the story of her rise from serving in the Army and moving up to the state Legislature—from Army boots to heels. Now, she says, she’s ready to “step up” to Congress. Ives also pushed back at former GOP Chairman Pat Brady’s endorsement of her opponent, Rep. Sean Casten. Ives Tweeted: “Of course Pat Brady endorsed Sean Casten. Amoral, ruling class political hacks stick together.”
Inclusion PAC, a non-partisan political action committee that works to elect Illinois legislators who support inclusive living for people with disabilities, is endorsing 14 state senators and 50 state representatives for the upcoming general election. Priority candidates are Sens. Scott Bennett, Melinda Bush, David Koehler, and Rep. Karina Villa, who’s running for Senate; and Reps. Monica Bristow, Terra Costa Howard, Michael Halpin, Joyce Mason, Michelle Mussman, Diane Pappas, Sue Scherer, and Katie Stuart. Full list here
Pot shop licenses to promote social equity could go to firms tied to co-founder of $3B cannabis giant: “Matt Estep, the former managing partner of Green Thumb Industries, runs an investment firm linked to two applicants hoping to win the right to open marijuana dispensaries in Illinois,” by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba.
Illinois State University: Investigation continuing into NELK Boys appearance: “University President Larry Dietz said officials have identified some students who took part in mass gatherings this week with YouTube personalities the NELK Boys, and the investigation is continuing. ‘There have been some individuals who have been identified; the list is continuing to evolve,’ Dietz told The Pantagraph. ‘A number of those, I’m sure, will be going through our conduct code as we continue to identify individuals that were there and perhaps the town of Normal may also issue some fines,’” by Pantagraph’s David Proeber.
THE FIFTY: Governors and mayors have never mattered more to the future of the nation, and The Fifty, a new series from POLITICO, takes you inside the role they’re playing in the pandemic and more.
— What did Trump know and when did he know it? Inside his Feb. 7 admission, by POLITICO’s Nancy Cook, Meridith McGraw and Adam Cancryn
— Why an Obama loyalist is speaking at Liberty University about moral leadership, by POLITICO’s Michael Kruse
— In crackdown on race-related content, Education Department targets internal book clubs, meetings, by POLITICO’s Michael Stratford
— ‘SNL’ announces return date for in-studio shows, via USA Today
Terrance Hopson has joined Western Governors University as director of Regions for the Midwest. Hopson previously spent six years with City Colleges of Chicago, serving in various leadership positions. In this role, he will work to raise the profile of the online, nonprofit university.
Suburban man plans surprise engagement at London House Chicago for front line worker girlfriend, by WGN/9’s Shannon Halligan
THURSDAY’S GUESS: Cunningham Township Assessor Wayne T. Williams Jr. correctly answered that 177 members served in the Illinois House of Representatives before Pat Quinn inspired the Cutback Amendment.
TODAY’S QUESTION: What was the last year personal property was assessed for property taxes in Illinois? The first person to correctly guess gets a mention in Monday’s Playbook. Send your best guess to [email protected].
Today: State Rep. Yehiel Mark Kalish (16th), Chicago comic Tom Dreesen, Paramount Events founder Jodi Fyfe, Midwest AARP VP Bruce Koeppl, and POLITICO Managing Editor Joe Schatz.
Saturday: former Cook County Judge Gloria Chevere, singer Jennifer Hudson, Forbes Senior Contributor on Healthcare Bruce Japsen, and University of Chicago economist Richard Thaler.
Sunday: Holland & Knight Partner Elias Matsakis, former state Rep. David Olsen, and former Rep. Peter Roskam, now a partner at Sidley Austin law firm.
September 11, 2020 at 08:20AM