Good Wednesday morning, Illinois.

STORY TO WATCH: Pritzker puts Illinois National Guard ‘in a state of readiness’ ahead of Kentucky announcement in Breonna Taylor case, by Tribune’s Jamie Munks and Jeremy Gorner

Amy Coney Barrett was perfectly happy teaching law at University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. “The judge thing is really out of the blue… I’m so surprised,” she said during a recent Q&A about her 2017 appointment to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Imagine what she must be thinking now. Barrett is a frontrunner for President Donald Trump’s nomination to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 7th Circuit is officially based in Chicago’s Dirksen Federal Building and hears cases from Illinois, Indiana and the swing state of Wisconsin.

Chicago doesn’t really know Barrett. Sure, she’s a member of the Union League Club of Chicago (legal folks like to dine there when they’re in town), but “she’s not a politico type,” said one Republican insider.

Barrett works out of chambers in South Bend, where she lives with her husband, who is an attorney, and their seven school-age children. Should she be nominated and confirmed, Barrett would be the only justice juggling her court duties with young kids (In the Q&A, she gives an anecdote about running from her chambers to one of her kids’ classrooms to for a Valentine’s Day event).

It’s a point that may resonate with working women — and potentially get played up by Trump and other Republicans, if she gets the president’s nod — though a confirmation hearing would drill down into Barrett’s views on a range of issues, including her statements on the Affordable Care Act, abortion rights, and immigration.

In June, Barrett sided with Trump on a Chicago immigration case. She was the dissenting vote in a 2-1 decision opposing Trump’s effort to determine who can immigrate to the United States based on whether they might receive health care, housing or other benefits.

One interesting wrinkle: Barrett is Catholic but she’s also affiliated with People of Praise, a self-described charismatic Christian community that served as an inspiration for Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, “The Handmaid’s Tale.”


VIDEO: Barrett discusses how she came to become a lawyer, attend Notre Dame Law School and adopt children in this Notre Dame interview.

Barrett’s record in Chicago could be focus if Trump nominates her, by Tribune’s Jason Meisner

— Barrett has a nickname: “The Conenator,” a play on her maiden name and “reputation for destroying flimsy legal arguments,” according to the Tribune.

— Sen. Dick Durbin on the conundrum facing Senate Democrats: “I’ve been around here a few years. You can slow things down but you can’t stop them. And there comes a point—we use whatever tools we have available, but ultimately there will be a vote,” via POLITICO’s national Playbook.

Remember how chaotic those early days of the coronavirus were? When cities and states didn’t know if they had enough personal protective equipment, all the supply chains were overwhelmed and the federal government got hands-off? It was so crazy that Gov. J.B. Pritzker compared it to the Wild West, with each city and state on its own.

Now come two reports examining some of the high-stakes decision-making that occurred during those early days of the coronavirus in Chicago’s City Hall.

The Better Government Association looks at the no-bid contracts for PPE. It’s a tale of how political connections played a role in getting PPE deal — something akin to a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy. “While it’s not illegal to use personal relationships, the tale of how a furniture company became a top supplier of medical gear helps illustrate how valuable those connections were during the early days of the pandemic when speed was critical,” writes Alejandra Cancino.

Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is taking issue with the Tribune’s report that some residents were wrongly ticketed during the pandemic after she said folks wouldn’t receive tickets unless there was a safety issue. In a Twitter thread, she says the paper “got it wrong…The data speaks for itself: overall tickets dropped 82% mid-March-June compared to the same period in 2019.” The Tribune stands by the story. You be the judge: Story here

Have a tip, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? Get in touch: [email protected]

No official public event.

At James R. Thompson Center at noon for a Covid-19 update. Watch live

Schedule not provided.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 30 additional deaths and 1,531 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus. That’s a total of 8,486 deaths and 277,266 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from Sept. 15 through 21 is 3.5 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 4.5 percent.

Wisconsin re-joining Chicago’s 14-day travel advisory: “For the second time in less than two months, Wisconsin is going back on Chicago’s 14-day quarantine list. Wisconsin’s return to Chicago’s travel advisory list comes one week after Chicago Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady warned the state it had one week to get its act together. It didn’t happen,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.

ComEd, other state utilities extend moratoriums on shutoffs through March: “Utilities are offering deferred payment arrangements for residential and business customers who need help keeping up with their bills,” via CBS.

It’s a key component for ComEd to win a new deal with Chicago, writes Crain’s A.D. Quig

As allergies rage and flu season sooms, some worry every cough could be Covid-19: “The symptoms for seasonal allergies and the flu look a lot like the symptoms for the coronavirus, and the similarities are stressing people out,” by WBEZ’s Kristen Schorsch.

Pound cake another pandemic loss, long the queen dessert at many funeral repasts:With so many services on hold, Chicago funeral home operator Spencer Leak Jr. posted on Facebook asking for his favorite sweet. The cakes have been coming in ever since,” by Sun-Times’ Maureen O’Donnell.

Voting begins this week in Illinois: “In addition to the opening of some poll sites, election authorities will begin mailing out some 1.7 million mail-in ballots requested so far,” by WBEZ’s Claudia Morell.

State: School districts should continue teacher evaluations — but there’s a loophole: “State Superintendent Carmen Ayala wrote in a letter on Monday that administrators should observe teachers and provide feedback — but she offered districts a loophole if they choose to not follow through. ‘Such observations cue administrators to provide extra support to teachers who are struggling and reveal the heroic efforts of teachers who are creating strategies that work,’” reports Chalkbeat Chicago’s Samantha Smylie.

In debate over where cops should patrol in Chicago, ‘no one wants to lose’: “As aldermen complain they are losing beat cops to new citywide units to fight crime, the Sun-Times has learned a study is underway seeking a more scientific way to allocate officers in the city’s 22 police districts,” by Sun-Times’ Frank Main and Fran Spielman.

Lightfoot’s top lawyer issues warning to aldermen about city contracts: “In a letter to the City Council, Lightfoot’s hand-picked Law Department head, Mark Flessner, said aldermen cross a line if they demand ‘the inclusion or exclusion of particular vendors or categories of vendors such as by race or ethnic origin in order to secure their vote,’” by Tribune’s Gregory Pratt.

Do the arts care about diversity or is it just lip service? Tribune’s Steve Johnson examines the issue

Pfleger, activist Ja’Mal Green call for dropping charges against Dread Head Cowboy: “But Tuesday night, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office approved a felony count of aggravated animal cruelty, state police said, and he remains in custody ahead of a bond hearing Wednesday,” by Sun-Times’ Mitch Dudek.

Chicago’s school council elections are around the corner. Here’s your guide: “The elections for this year’s new council slate, delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, will take place in November, and Chicago Public Schools has reopened the nomination window through next week,” by Chalkbeat Chicago’s Yana Kunichoff.

Staffing issues, Covid-19 cases at Postal Service prompt concern about mail-in ballots: More than 1.7 million people have requested mail-in ballots, “four times the previous record in 2018,” by CBS/2’s Megan Hickey.

90 percent of city’s independent music venues will close due to Covid, desperate owners say:A haunting new video is highlighting the plight of independent music venues as owners call on Congress to save them,” by Block Club’s Bob Chiarito.

Cook County Health officials send commissioners $3.4B budget plan as pandemic shortfall looms: “We’re looking at a compromise here, no question,” says board Chair Hill Hammock. By Tribune’s Alice Yin

Chicago-area Catholic schools enrollment drops, with worst decline among pre-kindergarten students: “The number of students enrolled at Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago dropped this fall, driven by a decrease in younger students and continuing a nationwide trend of fewer students receiving a Catholic-based education,” by Tribune’s Javonte Anderson.

Groups call for big changes in an office stuck in the carbon paper era:Three groups recommend changes they’d like to see from the new clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County after Dorothy Brown leaves in December,” by Crain’s Greg Hinz.

Bracing for his third trial in four decades for same shocking cop killing: “That slaying, in 1982, rocked the city. And the subsequent claims from Jackie Wilson and his brother — that they were tortured into confessing by the infamous onetime Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge — have had consequences that reverberate to this day,” writes Tribune’s Megan Creapau.

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. Today’s feature: 7 reasons Gavin Newsom has the worst job in politics, by POLITICO’s Jeremy White, Debra Kahn and Alexander Nieves.

Marijuana dispensary applicants drop lawsuit in wake of 2nd chance for lottery: “The federal lawsuit, filed earlier this month in Chicago federal court on behalf of Southshore Restore and Heartland Greens, alleged the state’s planned lottery for 75 recreational licenses used a scoring system that excluded the minority applicants it had sought to include,” by Tribune’s Robert Channick.

New marijuana dispensary licenses stalled again as Pritzker vows to ‘get it right’: “A day after saying his administration was going to give losing applicants another chance, the governor said a new review process will ensure there are ‘as many people in that final lottery as deserve to be there,’” by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba.

Northwestern Greek life is imploding: “Citing histories of racism and classism, multiple sororities at the university are threatening to go dark — and one has already done so,” writes Skyler Aikerson for Chicago magazine.

A tale of two schools: Covid-19 testing on Illinois campuses: “U. of I. researchers initially projected that there would be about 700 cases on campus by Thanksgiving break, when students will leave for the semester. As of Sept. 21, there were about 2,000 confirmed cases on the Urbana campus,” reports NPR Illinois’ Dana Vollmer and Lee V. Gaines.

The NRCC is out with a new ad targeting Democrat Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, who’s running against Republican Rep. Rodney Davis in the 13th Congressional District.

— Rep. Sean Casten’s campaign in the 6th Congressional District is out with a new ad that focuses on his science background.

— Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride has raised more than $700,000 in the past week, according to the State Board of Elections. Among the big donations: $100,000 each from Robert Clifford’s law firm, Joseph Powers Jr. and Larry Rogers Sr.’s law firm, and Kevin Conway and John Cooney’s firm.

— Former Ald. Ameya Pawar closed out his campaign fund this week, donating $728.91 to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

CIA clamps down on flow of Russia intelligence to White House, by POLITICO’s Natasha Bertrand and Daniel Lippman

Trump falls into the trap he set for Biden, by POLITICO’s Gabby Orr and Nancy Cook

The RNC is wiring cash to Texas. Is it a 2020 battleground? By POLITICO’s Elena Schneider

BULLS HIRE BILLY DONOVAN as new head coach, landing one of the biggest names available on the market, by Tribune’s Jamal Collier

Disgraced former governor Rod Blagojevich gave his first criminal justice speech at the Inmates to Entrepreneurs graduation ceremony on Tuesday evening via Zoom. His message came from his own personal experience, Newsweek reports. "Acknowledge the fact that there are challenges ahead," he started, adding that they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. "You can’t do it by yourself. No man is an island."

Broadcaster Bill Kurtis set an entertaining tone for a virtual fundraiser to benefit After School Matters Tuesday night. He wore a suit coat and pajama pants while eating popcorn from his couch. Big names also popped in, including board chair Mellody Hobson, the co-CEO of Ariel Investments, and CEO Mary Ellen Caron. There were also video shoutouts from Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and After School Matters board member Amy Eshleman, chef Stephanie Izard, Cubs pitcher Alec Mills, and footballer Bo Jackson.

Today: Political analyst David Axelrod and scholar Andre Perry unpack “Race, Wealth and Political Power” in a discussion moderated by Liz Dozier, the founder of Chicago Beyond and sponsor of the event. Details here

Today: Arne Duncan headlines a City Club virtual event. Subject: “Reimagining Public Safety.” Details here

Oct. 15: JULIAN CASTRO will keynote the Cook County Democratic Party fundraiser (via Zoom). Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will zoom in, too. Details here

TUESDAY’s GUESS: Congrats to Chicago-Kent law student Jaylin D. McClinton for being the first to correctly guess that 1833 is when Chicago was actually incorporated as a town (it became a city in 1837 when its population reached 4,000). Props to Cunningham Township Assessor Wayne T. Williams Jr. whose email arrived second but with the same time stamp.

TODAY’S QUESTION: How many African Americans in Illinois have ever served in a statewide office at the state or federal level? The first person to correctly guess gets a mention in the next Playbook. Send your best guess to [email protected].

Rotary International executive comms specialist Dan Conley, National Urban League policy director Julius Niyonsaba, Cubs co-owner and RNC finance chairman Todd Ricketts, Durbin deputy chief of staff Corey Tellez.



September 23, 2020 at 07:55AM

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