Good Monday morning, Illinois. Another week begins and there’s still no Covid relief bill in sight before Election Day.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Sunday blamed President Donald Trump in part for the spike in coronavirus cases in Illinois, and called out Trump’s “allies in our state” who are ignoring mitigation efforts and “don’t follow the rules.”
Speaking with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Pritzker accused Trump of “modeling bad behavior. He doesn’t wear a mask.”
The governor said some Illinois residents have in turn ignored many of the state’s efforts to control the spread of the virus “because the modeling is so bad at the leadership level, at the federal level. We are trying to get the word out.”
With two weeks to go before the election, Pritzker’s comments signal Democrats are doubling down on making coronavirus a key point of contrast.
The question is whether the new spike in coronavirus cases in some regions will play into how people vote — and whether it will roils down-ballot races because of how people feel about the president’s handling of the pandemic.
State Reps. John Cabello and Darren Bailey, and state Sens. Dave Syverson and Brian Stewart have all spoken out against restrictions put in place to tamp down Covid-19. Cabello and Bailey have even sued Pritzker over the public health controls. Only Cabello is in a heated race next month.
The Pritzker administration sees a correlation between Republicans’ anti-mask actions — the loud minority on Facebook — and a rise in Covid-19 cases in some areas.
Cabello and Syverson are from Winnebago County, and Stewart lives in Stephenson County, which are both in region 1, bordering Wisconsin. That state has seen coronavirus positivities go through the roof — 26 percent compared to Illinois’ 5.3 percent.
The positivity rate in Illinois’ region 1 is at 11.1 percent and climbing. Additional mitigation restrictions kick in when any of the state’s 11 health regions sees an increase in its average positivity rate for seven days out of a 10-day period. Region 1 has been on the rise for more than 10 days.
Bailey lives in region 6, which is hovering just below an 8 percent positivity rate. The Northwest Herald has more on what’s happening in each region.
On Sunday, Pritzker said there are no plans for another statewide stay-at-home order. Instead, he’s focusing on separate efforts in each region.
Republican Esther Joy King’s campaign takes a jab at Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos’ work in Washington while glossing over some parts of her own resume.
King, who’s challenging Bustos for the 17th Congressional District, is quick to tell voters about growing up with Christian missionary parents. The 34-year-old says she also earned degrees from Oral Roberts University and Northwestern Law School, worked in Afghanistan to support women’s rights, joined the U.S. Army JAG Corps. She has also worked as an associate lawyer at a big Chicago law firm and for the state’s Department of Commerce under the Rauner administration.
She doesn’t really mention living in Texas and Chicago before moving to the district, which lines the state’s northwest border with Iowa, a point Bustos seizes on in her latest ad: “Who is the real Esther Joy King? She just moved from Chicago to run for Congress.”
Before running for office, King headed a social media marketing company called 364.Social, a company we couldn’t find online. King says that’s because it was folded into another marketing firm that she helped start: GRP21, which also has next-to-no presence online. A few years ago, King also billed herself as founder of Flashbulb Media — another company that appears to be non-existent.
King doesn’t mention those companies on her LinkedIn page — she said she just chose not to — and didn’t supply any information about them. She told Playbook she “no longer has any ownership interest” in Flashbulb or GRP21.
King says she’s now a partner at King & Clark LLC, a real estate law firm.
With just two weeks to go until the election, King remains confident she can upset Bustos. A recent Republican poll shows her just 5 points behind (with 7 percent undecided).
“There’s a large percentage of voters who are voting bipartisan. They’re voting for me despite how they vote at the presidential level,” King told Playbook, referring to dissatisfaction some Republicans have with President Donald Trump. King says she’s not splitting her ticket. She voted for Trump in 2016 and she’s sticking with him this year, too.
Have a tip, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? Get in touch: [email protected]
At City Hall at 9:15 a.m. for a Covid-19 update. Watch live on social media channels.
At Madison communications in Staunton at 10:30 a.m. to announce the next wave of funding for Broadband grants. He’ll be at Jackson County Health Department in Murphysboro at 2:30 p.m. for a Covid-19 update. Watch live
At the Cook County Building at 12:30 to open the Housing Choice Voucher Program waitlist for the first time since 2001. Watch live
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Sunday reported 22 additional deaths and 4,245 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease. That’s a total of 9,214 deaths and 344,048 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from Oct. 11 through Oct. 17 is 5.3 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 5.4 percent.
— Rural Midwest hospitals struggling to handle virus surge: “As the brunt of the virus has blown into the Upper Midwest and northern Plains, the severity of outbreaks in rural communities has come into focus. Doctors and health officials in small towns worry that infections may overwhelm communities with limited medical resources. And many say they are still running up against attitudes on wearing masks that have hardened along political lines and a false notion that rural areas are immune to widespread infections,” by the AP.
— University of Minnesota, orchestra study aerosols from instruments: “The University of Minnesota is working with the Minnesota Orchestra to study aerosols, with hopes of getting musicians back on stage,” from the Star Tribune.
— When school is home and home is school, which rules prevail? By Kathleen Foody, Associated Press
— Trump tells thousands in Janesville that Wisconsin is key to winning ‘the whole ball game’: “President Donald Trump packed thousands together for a re-election rally Saturday, arguing that his own recovery proved the response to COVID-19 was working and claiming the pandemic was "rounding the corner" in a state setting records daily for new cases. The president didn’t mention that Wisconsin is grappling with one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the country,” according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
— Congresswoman Robin Kelly drew a laugh from Biden/Harris supporters during a get-out-the vote effort in Wisconsin. Kelly, who represents Illinois’ 2nd District, joked with campaigners, saying, “Congresswoman Gwen Moore [of Wisconsin] says I represent the suburbs of Milwaukee.” Kelly helped pass out yard signs in Brew City and kicked off a car parade for volunteers. “We can take nothing for granted. We need to keep the ‘Joe-mentum’ going,” she said. pix
— Pritzker says wealthy opponents of a graduated income tax “like the status quo because it benefits them,” in this look at the ballot proposal from the Center for Illinois Politics.
— United Steelworkers shine ‘Biden-Harris’ projection on Trump Tower: “The ‘bat light’ endorsement also made an appearance on Wrigley Field, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Theatre during its time in the city,” by Sun-Times’ Sam Kelly.
— Dems slam GOP’s Stephens for taking donations from red-light camera biz — but Madigan’s ties to industry run deep: “Mailers from the Illinois Democratic Party, run by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, slam state Rep. Bradley Stephens for taking campaign money from RedSpeed Illinois. But Madigan accepted cash from same firm — and executives from a rival company embroiled in a federal probe,” by Sun-Times’ Robert Herguth.
— ‘Freedom, faith and family’ vs. ‘proven track record’ are competing pitches in battle to succeed Jim Oberweis: “State Rep. Karina Villa and Republican Jeanette Ward have sought to cast each other as being out of touch with the Senate district, which includes all or parts of Aurora, Batavia, Geneva, Naperville, Oswego, Plano, West Chicago and Yorkville,” by Sun-Times’ Rachel Hinton.
— Rep feeling heat from left and right: Four-term incumbent state Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, is facing a challenge from both the left and right as she seeks another term representing the 96th House District. Challenging Scherer are Republican Charlie McGorray, also from Decatur, and John Keating, a Springfield resident running as the Green Party candidate. The 96th district is diverse, covering swaths of rural Sangamon, Christian and Macon counties as well as the urban cores of Decatur and Springfield. In the capital city, the district includes most of the east side and downtown,” by State Journal-Register’s Brenden Moore.
ELECTIONLAND: POLITICO is partnering with Electionland, a ProPublica project that works with newsrooms to track voting issues around the country. The Electionland project covers problems that prevent eligible voters from casting their ballots during the 2020 elections. We’re part of a coalition of newsrooms around the country that are investigating issues related to voter registration, pandemic-related changes to voting, the shift to vote-by-mail, cybersecurity, voter education, misinformation, and more. Tell us here if you’re having trouble voting.
— Democrat Harry Benton, who is challenging Republican Rep. Mark Batinick in the 97th District, just received $215,000 from Democratic Rep. Lance Yednock. That’s an indication Yednock is safe in his own race against GOP challenger Travis Breeden.
— Democrat Michelle Darbro, who’s running against Republican Rep. Brad Stephens, just received $371,00 from Democratic Rep. Joyce Mason, who also is favored in her race against Republican Dan Yost.
— BRACING FOR PROPERTY TAX HIKE: Lightfoot considering $94M property tax hike, layoffs of 300 city workers and gas tax increase to close $1.2B, sources say: “Lightfoot also is considering about $500 million in refinancing city debt to help close the deficit, sources said. The mayor is scheduled to explain her plans to close the city’s coronavirus-fueled budget deficit on Wednesday. One thing is clear: It won’t be easy,” by Tribune’s City Hall reporters Gregory Pratt and John Byrne.
… Unable to rely on federal relief: “At some point, Chicago is almost certain to get another massive infusion of federal stimulus funds to replace at least some of the revenue lost to the stay-at-home shutdown and prolonged economic slowdown triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. But it won’t come soon enough to spare her from outlining a spending plan more painful than beleaguered Chicago taxpayers have ever seen,” writes Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.
— Analysis: In a year of unexpected tragedy and turmoil, police Supt. David Brown sought to reshape his department: Upon arriving to Chicago, Brown said ‘I also know the struggles of growing up poor, living and working in a historically segregated city, as Dallas and Chicago share these difficult pasts and present.’…But perhaps nothing could have prepared Brown for the months to come. He would quickly find himself attempting to help steer Chicago through the pandemic crisis and its effects, surging summer violence and civil unrest,” by Tribune’s Jeremy Gorner.
— Inspector general’s report details incompetent response in Eddie Johnson case, by Tribune’s Annie Sweeney, Gregory Pratt and Jeremy Gorner.
— Paul Vallas shows up at police contract talks as consultant to the Fraternal Order of Police: “FOP President John Catanzara said Vallas’ presence produced a “palpable shift” for the better in the tone of contract talks,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.
— Pandemic vs. ambition: how one company is adjusting plans for growth: “Consulting firm West Monroe Partners still intends to add 800 people, but will they be at home or in the office?” by Sun-Times’ David Roeder.
— CPS return-to-class plan draws criticism: A group of elected officials sent a letter to Mayor Lori Lightfoot detailing their concerns about Chicago Public Schools’ plan to reopen school buildings. On Friday, CPS said it plans to begin a phased reopening with pre-K and special students returning next month and more students in January. “We recognize that the current remote learning system is difficult for students, working families, and the educational staff committed to them,” the lawmakers say in their letter. “At the same time, we also don’t want to put students in harms’ way, especially as other cities have encountered real difficulties in returning to in-person learning.” Among those signing: Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez, Ald. Sophia King, Rep. Ann Wiliams, Rep. Greg Harris, Rep. Kelly Cassidy, Sen. Ram Villivalam and Sen. Robert Martwick. WGN has more
— Bears’ defense had plenty of excuses to fold against the Panthers. Instead it played ‘lights out’ to fuel the win, by Tribune’s Colleen Kane.
— Everest restaurant is closing—and not because of Covid: “After more than three decades as one of Chicago’s peak dining experiences, Everest is stepping down. The four-star restaurant will serve its last meal on New Year’s Eve. ‘Many times in life, you have to know when it’s time for something to end,’ said chef/proprietor Jean Joho. ‘It feels good, after all this time, to close,’” by Tribune’s Phil Vettel.
— It’s time to end the LeBron James-Michael Jordan debate: “Another title and James’ accomplishments outside of basketball have elevated his stature in the pantheon of Black athlete activists,” by The Undefeated’s William C. Rhoden.
— Man hanging off side of Trump Tower demanding to speak to president, by the Sun-Times. UPDATE: At 2 a.m., a police spokesman tweeted: “After 8hrs. of negotiations, every effort is being made to bring a positive conclusion to this situation.”
— Chicago is the ‘rattiest city’ in America for the sixth year in a row, by CNN. (Note, this poll has nothing to do with politicians.)
— No bail for man charged with sexually assaulting 7-year-old during e-learning livestream: “The attack was allegedly witnessed by the girl’s teacher and classmates during a break in an online class Thursday afternoon,” by Sun-Times’ Jermaine Nolen.
NEWS FAKERY EXCLUSIVE: As local news dies, a pay-for-play network rises in its place — and its roots are in Illinois: The New York Times exposes Chicago-area businessman Brian Timpone’s media empire running websites across the country and in Illinois, including the "North Cook News,” which appear as news sites. In fact, the Times says Republican operatives pay Timpone’s company to order up stories they dictate to reporters. Jeanne Ives has paid Timpone $55,000 and received favorable stories in return, according to the Times. When asked if she had paid companies for pay-for-play news stories, she said: “Oh, no, there’s none of that going on. I assure you. Oh, my gosh, no. Oh, no, not at all.”
Also linked to Timpone’s companies: conservative talk show host Dan Proft and John Tillman, an activist who once led the Illinois Opportunity Project and who is connected to groups that have paid “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to underwrite Timpone’s “news” operation.
… How it works: “Editors for Mr. Timpone’s network assign work to freelancers dotted around the United States and abroad, often paying $3 to $36 per job. The assignments typically come with precise instructions on whom to interview and what to write, according to the internal correspondence. In some cases, those instructions are written by the network’s clients, who are sometimes the subjects of the articles.”
— Illinois on track to lose a congressional seat: “JACKSONVILLE, Ill. — Thanks to Illinois’ population decline, the state is on track to lose at least one congressional seat — putting it on track to lose at least one electoral vote in the Electoral College — when the latest U.S. Census numbers are tabulated,” by Jacksonville Journal-Courier’s Darren Iozia.
— Not the Onion. Group declares independence from Chicago: The group, New Illinois, says its “goal is to have 101 of the state’s 102 counties unite to form the state of New Illinois and have it become the 51st state, leaving Cook County to be all that is left of the state of Illinois,” by WGEM’s Charity Bell.
The sorority that tried to abolish itself: “How the anti-Greek life movement upended Zeta Tau Alpha at Northwestern,” by New York Magazine’s Brock Colyar
— The hidden factors that could produce a surprise Trump victory, by POLITICO’s David Siders
— Biden would revamp fraying intel community, by POLITICO’s Natasha Bertbrand and Kyle Cheney
— HHS lawyer: Trump’s drug cards could violate election law, by POLITICO’s Dan Diamond
— The next economic crisis: Empty retail space, by POLITICO’s Katy O’Donnell
— Movie review from Smithsonian Magazine: The True Story of ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’: “It was one of the most shocking scenes to ever take place in an American courtroom. On October 29, 1969, Bobby Seale, a co-founder of the Black Panther Party and one of eight co-defendants standing trial for inciting the riots that erupted at Chicago’s 1968 Democratic National Convention, was gagged and chained to his chair for refusing to obey Judge Julius Hoffman’s contempt citations. … The image of a black man in shackles, rendered by courtroom artists because cameras weren’t allowed in the courtroom, was circulated by media around the world.”
— ‘A Lot Of Hard Work:’ How HBO turned back time in Pilsen for ‘Lovecraft Country’: “Instead of filming the horror drama’s pilot episode on a fabricated lot, the creative team set the scene in Pilsen by hanging vintage signs, striped awnings and neon lights around the corner of 18th and Laflin. ‘Chicago actually is a gold mine for trying to do period projects because a lot of it is still intact,’ production designer Howard Cummings said,” told WBEZ’s Meha Ahmad and Libby Berry.
— Today at 5:30 p.m.: A virtual “Early Vote Rally” is bringing out all the big Democratic names: Sen. Dick Durbin, Rep. Robin Kelly, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Rep. Chuy Garcia, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and Democratic congressional candidate Marie Newman. Details here
— Tuesday: Former U.S. Attorney Dick Schultz, the last surviving member of either legal team in the Chicago 7 trial, headlines this Federal Bar Association discussion about controversial trials. Moderators will be U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin and U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole. Details here
— Wednesday: Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Republican strategist Alex Castellanos discuss the 2020 election. Moderator is political columnist and ABC/7 analyst Laura Washington. The event is sponsored by the Executives’ Club. Details here
FRIDAY’s GUESS: Congrats to political consultant and LGBTQ activist Richard Streetman for correctly answering that since 1964 there have been 16 Cook County judges recalled by judicial retention votes (eight from 1964 to 1990, seven in 1990, and one in 2018).
TODAY’S QUESTION: We all know Michael Madigan is the longest serving speaker of a state House of Representatives in U.S. history, but who served the second most days as speaker of the Illinois House? Email your answer to [email protected].
College sweethearts: Jimmy Rothschild, political director for Ald. Matt Martin, and Johanna Fierke, a social worker, tied the knot in a quiet ceremony Saturday at his parents’ home in Evanston. The two met at Carleton College, where they graduated from the class of 2012. pix
Comms strategist Elizabeth Austin, Hyde Park Day School director of development Maureen McCarthy, Latino Policy Forum’s Roberto Valdez, University of Chicago Board of Trustees Chairman Joseph Neubauer, Rep. Robin Kelly chief of staff Brandon Webb, and Chakena Perry, aide to MWRD Commissioner Morita and Cook County Young Dems president. Belated greetings to John Monsif, director of U.S. government relations at McDonald’s, who celebrated Saturday (h/t Jon Haber).
October 19, 2020 at 07:40AM