Happy Tuesday, Illinois. Let’s just say POLITICO’s Zoom calls are nowhere near as interesting as what goes on at the New Yorker.
The Illinois Legislative Joint Black Caucus is on track to present a sweeping omnibus bill next month meant to address racial inequities on a suite of topics: health, education, economic access and criminal justice reform.
“We’ll be ready,” Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford told Playbook.
Lightford, who heads the joint caucus, says lawmakers have put in countless hours all summer and into the fall talking to experts, gathering data and pulling together information for the measure. Lawmakers have had virtual committee hearings almost every day, many open to the public, and are on track to introduce the legislation when the General Assembly meets for their veto session Nov. 17, she said.
Some of their research turned up proposals that have already become law but effectively ignored or overlooked, such as a measure to establish equity and inclusion in the state’s procurement process.
Many of the issues in the omnibus bill “are the same problems that come back year after year but are never addressed,” Lightford said in the interview.
The package dovetails with some of the criminal justice reform proposals Gov. J.B. Pritzker has proposed — ideas he had in the works back in January, before Covid-19 enveloped the state and before the killing of George Floyd made criminal justice reform a national agenda item.
Pritzker, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President Don Harmon have all expressed support for the Black Caucus’ efforts.
Now everyone is waiting to pore over the details. We know that each "pillar" of the omnibus is being represented by specific lawmakers. Sen. Elgie Sims Jr. and Rep. Justin Slaughter are carrying the criminal justice reform, violence reduction and police accountability legislation in their respective chambers. Look for the bill to call for ending chokeholds, revising the use of deadly force and extending officer training.
Lightford and Rep. Carol Ammons are carrying the education and workforce development portion of the package.
Sen. Christopher Belt and Rep. Sonya Harper will carry the economic access, equity and opportunity legislation, which addresses affordable housing, land use, entrepreneurship, business development, banking and environmental justice.
And Sen. Mattie Hunter and Rep. Camille Lilly are carrying the health care and human services legislation.
Not every piece of legislation has a price tag. “We’re looking at costs and will be ready with that Nov. 17,” said Lightford, acknowledging that in some cases, it’s a matter of “changing how things are done.”
In terms of education, for example, it means doing a better job of analyzing data. “There are layers and layers and layers of no coordination between entities,” Lightford said, ticking off federal, state and advocate agencies that each have different standards and don’t always work together.
In other cases, it’s about better data collection, said Lightford, pointing to research that showed statistics unchanged from 2010 to 2018 among preschoolers in the same poverty-stricken Black neighborhoods. “I was blown away because the needle hasn’t moved,” she said. “No one’s watching to see if there are any improvements.”
Count Gov. J.B. Pritzker and his wife, M.K., among the billionaires giving big to Joe Biden during the third quarter. Forbes compiled a list of billionaires who gave more than $100,000 during the reporting period between July 1 and Sept. 30. The Pritzkers gave $1.4 million to the Democratic presidential candidate.
Penny Pritzker, the former U.S. Commerce secretary and sister to the governor, gave $100,205. And their cousin, Daniel Pritzker, who lives in northern California, gave $200,000.
Star Wars creator George Lucas, who splits his time between Chicago and California, gave $360,600, and his wife, businesswoman Mellody Hobson, gave $300,000 in June and another $50,000 in July.
Neil Bluhm, the Chicago real estate and casino magnate, gave $300,000. CDW founder Michael Krasny gave $100,000. And Mark Pincus, who grew up in Chicago before going on to found Zynga and other online companies, gave $100,000.
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No official public events.
At the Thompson Center at 2:30 p.m. for the now daily press briefing on Covid-19. Watch live
Presiding over the Cook County Forest Preserves District meeting at 10 a.m. and then introducing the fiscal year 2021 budget at noon. Watch live
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Monday reported 22 new deaths to the coronavirus and 3,113 new confirmed cases. That’s a total of 9,236 deaths and 347,161 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from Oct. 12 through 18 is 5.4 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 5.4 percent.
— Lightfoot says Chicago is in a ‘second surge’ as Pritzker warns of new restrictions: “Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday issued a dire warning: The second surge of Covid-19 is here. …the outbreak in the city is widespread, across all ages and racial groups. ‘Now is the time for each of us to step up,’ she said. Meanwhile, bars and restaurants in suburban DuPage, Kane and Will counties could see a suspension of indoor service as early as Tuesday because of a major spike in Covid-19 cases, Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker warned,” by WBEZ’s Kristen Schorsch, Becky Vevea and Dave McKinney.
— As coronavirus cases increase, so do Illinois teacher retirements; number has jumped almost 50 percent over last year: “From July through September, 566 teachers from across the state retired, a 45 percent increase from the same period in 2019, according to Teachers’ Retirement System of the State of Illinois data,” by Tribune’s Karen Ann Cullotta.
— Just as schools begin to reopen, many are closing again as Covid-19 surges: “It took more than six months and countless hours for New Trier High School officials to develop and execute an elaborate plan to bring students back into the classroom safely and gradually this fall for in-person instruction. But it took just five days for administrators to halt their new Covid-19-era hybrid plan and send students back to their bedrooms for remote learning, at least for the time being,” by Tribune’s Karen Ann Cullotta.
— KANYE WEST loaned his campaign $3 million, according to a recently filed report with the FEC.
— Foxx-O’Brien state’s attorney battle is at a boiling point: “Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx is going on offense, ramping up her attacks on her Republican challenger’s record in a new ad to begin airing Tuesday — just as a new GOP poll shows the Democratic incumbent losing ground,’” by Sun-Times’ Rachel Hinton.
— Daily Herald gives no endorsement in contentious 20th District House race: Republican Rep. Brad Stephens, who was only recently appointed to the position has a major “shortcoming,” says the paper. “He insists on maintaining his separate elected position as Rosemont mayor even as he serves in the House. We find the holding of multiple election positions to be fraught with potential for interest conflicts.” And Michelle Darbro, a firefighter and EMT, “lacks elected leadership experience.”
— It’s not just billionaires in ‘fair’ tax fight. Here’s who wants to sway your vote: “Unions and grassroots groups are supporting the fair tax campaign with non-monetary, in-kind contributions of goods or services — mostly hours of time from organizers and field workers. Donations to the opposition come from some of the state’s richest men, Illinois State Board of Elections data show. ‘It’s important to remember people have been fighting for a fair tax for a decade plus,’ said Jake Lewis, a spokesman for a committee supporting the change. ‘We’re seeing proponents really engaging across the board of the last few years,’” by Belleville News-Democrat’s Kelsey Landis.
… GOP’s Durkin says if ballot measure is confusing, then vote no: ““Look, here’s what I think that’s important, that if someone’s confused and they can’t tell whether or not which side is making sense, all the more reason to say that, ‘I’m not ready to vote for this,’ and they should not be because this is a very complicated issue,” Durkin, of Western Springs, said in a virtual news conference,” by Tribune’s Rick Pearson.
— Cook County Circuit Court judge candidates ranked by 3 bar associations: “[T]he Chicago Bar Association, Chicago Council of Lawyers and Illinois State Bar Association have screened and ranked candidates based on their qualifications, including the 62 judges seeking retention within Cook County. Judges who are elected to the Cook County Circuit Court have to stand for retention every six years and must receive at least 60 percent of the vote to be retained,” by WTTW’s Kristen Thometz.
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.
— REACHING 1 million…
— What Lightfoot’s pandemic budget could cost homeowners: Aldermen were briefed Monday on what Mayor Lori Lightfoot has called the “impossible choices” she would need to make to balance what she calls Chicago’s “pandemic budget.” The list includes “Raising Chicago’s nickel-a-gallon tax on gasoline to 8 cents and imposing a $94 million property tax increase that will cost the owner of a home valued at $250,000 an extra $56 a year. Eliminating 1,000 vacant city jobs, 450 of them police officers, and laying off up to 500 city employees, but delaying the pink slips until March to give the new Congress a chance to ride to the rescue. Refinancing $500 million in city debt and raiding Chicago’s $900 million in reserves, but only by $30 million to avoid another drop in Chicago’s already shaky bond rating.” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.
— Reform group criticizes Lightfoot, CPD for rejecting use-of-force recommendations: “The 20-person Use of Force Working Group was convened over the summer after George Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer,” by Sun-Times’ Sam Charles.
— Survey shows support for diverting portion of police budget to social service: “Chicago needs to ‘reimagine’ public safety and shift money from the Chicago Police Department’s budget to more social services to reduce gun violence and make the city safer, according to a report issued Monday by the Chicago CRED organization.The 17-page report summarized discussions with about 200 people in Zoom-based focus groups, primarily on the South and West sides, where Chicago’s violence is most concentrated,” reports Tribune’s Jeremy Gorner.
— Lightfoot declines to comment on sex assault allegations against Eddie Johnson: “Eddie Johnson, obviously common sense tells you, never told me he was engaged in any kind of improper relationship with Ms. Donald, he never of course told me he was taking her into his office and sexually assaulting her on a regular basis.” Tribune’s Gregory Pratt reports.
— Chicago’s childhood vaccination rates are slipping. Why health officials are worried: “Current numbers are hard to come by, but data obtained by Chalkbeat offer a window: A quarter of low-income children who attend Chicago’s publicly funded child care sites are behind on critical immunizations for such serious illnesses as measles or polio. That’s a decline of 12 percentage points compared to last year,” reports Chalkbeat Chicago’s Cassie Walker Burke.
— FOP offices closed due to Covid-19: “Please be advised the Lodge is taking every precaution necessary to ensure our staff and members are protected,” a message on the FOP Lodge 7’s website read, via Sun-Times.
— Little Italy and Greektown struggling to save their souls: “Red sauce and wine still flow on Little Italy’s Taylor Street, and the saganaki still flames on Greektown’s strip of Halsted. But there is less Italian and Greek heritage on the menu these days on two of Chicago’s best-known dining corridors,” by Tribune’s Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz and Ryan Ori.
— Chicago 7 prosecutor: ‘They were going to try to destroy our trial. And they did a damn good job,’ by Tribune’s Jason Meisner.
— Man who dangled from Trump Tower for more than 13 hours is pulled to safety, by Tribune’s Paige Fry and Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas.
— For first time in nearly 20 years, Cook County opens suburban housing voucher waitlist. At least 10K people already applied: “The revival was neither spurred by the coronavirus pandemic nor a change in federal funding for affordable housing… [Executive Director Ricahrd] Monocchio said there was simply a ‘huge supply and demand issue’ with getting through a waitlist of about 70,000 from 2001 without significant additional help from HUD,” by Tribune’s Alice Yin.
— Embattled video gambling owner was in line for $2.5M, taxpayer-funded windfall by flipping land. Now it’s off the table: “The potential profit from flipping the land would have come at a critical time for [Rick] Heidner. He has been embroiled in a long dispute with a video gambling cafe chain owner over that company’s attempt to remove Gold Rush machines from 44 locations. Video gambling was shut down for months by the pandemic this year, and the economic downturn also has ravaged commercial real estate, which Heidner also is involved in,” by Tribune’s David Heinzmann.
— Wait times up to 5 hours long to vote in the burbs: ‘This is a moment that’s very important’: “Early voting expanded Monday and some people faced hours-long waits to cast their ballot, as additional polling places opened in suburban Cook as well as in DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties,” by Tribune’s Kelli Smith.
— Mental health experts to pair with cops in northern Illinois: “Winnebago County sheriff’s deputies and Rockford police officers will pair with mental health experts when responding to emergency psychiatric and suicidal episodes as a new approach over arrests. Law enforcement will team with Rosecrance crisis-intervention specialists to create a three-month pilot program, beginning next month, in efforts to divert people in psychiatric crises away from the criminal justice system and into treatment instead, Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana said,” by the AP.
— Foxx starts expunging 1,200 pot convictions after Covid-19 delays: “As prosecutors, we need to own the role ‘the system’ has played on the failed war on drugs, causing disproportionate harm to Black and brown communities who were convicted of low-level cannabis offenses,” Foxx said. By Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba
— Federal judge in Chicago says he won’t hold hearing over R. Kelly’s jailhouse assault: “U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber rejected the singer’s latest bid to get out of jail while awaiting trial,” by Sun-Times’ Jon Seidel.
— Illinois to sell $850M of bonds as investors brace for junk status: “Ahead of the competitive sale of general obligation bonds due over the next 25 years, the spread for Illinois 10-year bonds over Municipal Market Data’s benchmark triple-A yield scale has widened by 10 basis points to 281 basis points since Oct. 1. Howard Cure, director of municipal bond research at Evercore Wealth Management, pointed to ‘a legitimate fear that the state could go into junk status – although not default on its debt,’” by Reuters.
— Judge: Municipalities exempt from Election Day ‘holiday’: “A Sangamon County judge has ruled local units of government are exempt from a law the General Assembly passed this year declaring the Nov. 3 general election as a state holiday and requiring all government offices to be closed that day, unless they are used as polling places or for other election-related services,” by Capitol News’ Peter Hancock.
— State announces 2nd round of broadband expansion grants: “Gov. JB Pritzker said the program will help close a digital divide that existed long before the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced many people to start working from home and students to attend classes remotely. ‘While we didn’t anticipate a pandemic, even as we passed this program into law in 2019, we knew that the inequities in our learning systems required urgent action,’ Pritzker said,” by Capitol News’ Peter Hancock.
— Union coalition enters energy debate with utility-friendly agenda: “Climate Jobs Illinois pitches itself as an independent voice for workers but calls for subsidizing all of Exelon’s nuclear plants and a massive construction program for utility-scale wind and solar facilities,” by Crain’s Steve Daniels.
— IDES acting director responds to criticism about Illinois unemployment benefits delays, fraud: “Kristin Richards became the IDES acting director in August. The state agency has been criticized for failing to keep up with unemployment claims… Richards said IDES has paid out $16.billion in benefits to about 2.4 million people since March. However, those numbers also exposed weaknesses, like an outdated website which has since been upgraded,” by ABC/7’s Jason Knowles and Ann Pistone.
— Lawmakers hear testimony on improving health care access, outcomes, by Capitol News’ Raymon Troncoso.
Illinois community colleges see big drop in enrollment amid the coronavirus pandemic: “Enrollment at Illinois community colleges plunged nearly 14 percent this fall, an indication that low-income and older students who typically favor the institutions might be struggling to pursue higher education because of the coronavirus pandemic. All but three of the state’s 48 community colleges saw substantial head count declines, according to initial data from the Illinois Community College Board. Compared with last year, about 37,200 fewer students enrolled in for-credit classes this fall. Some of the biggest drops were among students over age 30 and in career-track courses such as nursing, construction and welding,” by Tribune’s Elyssa Cherney.
— U. of C., Northwestern earn top marks in 2021 best global universities rankings: The Hyde Park- and Evanston-based schools both ranked in the top 25 nationwide,” by Sun-Times’ Alison Martin.
— Springfield’s third pot dispensary preps for opening: “The dispensary — located at 3201 Horizon Drive with visibility from Interstate 55 — will open to the public Nov. 5. It will be the third dispensary in Sangamon County licensed to sell recreational marijuana,” reports State Journal-Register’s Brenden Moore.
— Cresco Labs CEO talks legal marijuana industry challenges: “Cresco Labs began growing and selling marijuana in Illinois in 2015, and as of this year has expanded to a total of nine states and Canada,” by AP’s Alex Veiga.
A bipartisan group of Illinois members of Congress is opposing plans for Medicare pay cuts to physician specialists such as cardiac surgeons, radiologists, speech pathologists and physical therapists. They’ve written a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling for Congress to “examine possible bipartisan solutions to address excessively steep cuts.” The letter, obtained by Playbook, adds: “Payment cuts of this magnitude will surely strain a health care system that is already stressed by the Covid-19 pandemic and could jeopardize patient access to medically necessary services.” Signing the letter: Illinois Reps. Michael Bost (R-12), Cheri Bustos (D-17), Rodney Davis (R-13), Danny Davis (D-7), Bill Foster (D-11), Adam Kinzinger (R-16), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-8), Darin LaHood (R-18), Brad Schneider (D-10), and John Shimkus (R-15).
— Trump taps 2016 brain trust to stage another stunner in 2020, by POLITICO’s Alex Isenstadt
— Supreme Court declines to block Pennsylvania mail-in ballot extension, by POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein and Zach Montellaro
— Florida shatters opening day record for early voting, by POLITICO’s Matt Dixon
— Debate commission to cut the mics at Trump-Biden showdown, by POLITICO’s Matthew Choi and Alex Isenstadt
— Today at 6:30 p.m.: Green Party candidates introduce themselves in this virtual gala. U.S. Senate candidate David Black headlines the event. Other candidates on the playbill: U.S. House candidate in the 5th District Tom Wilda, state House candidates Alia Sarfraz (52nd), Christoper Kruger (17th), Anna Schiefelbein (85th), and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District candidate Troy Hernandez. Watch Live
— Thursday: Baumhart Center sponsors a virtual conversation about corporate-nonprofit partnerships with Conlon Public Strategies’ Kevin Conlon and Barbara Lumpkin, MacArthur Foundation’s Allison Clark, Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Harmony Harringon, Fifth-Third Bank’s Nicole Johnson-Scales, and Comcast’s Matthew Summy for a discussion. Details here
— Thursday and Friday: Webinars will offer some insight into taxation of the cannabis industry. The meetings can count for continuing education for those in the tax industry but anyone can pay a fee and register. Speakers: Luis Plascencia, a CPS in the cannabis industry and chairperson of the Illinois CPA Society Tax Practice and Procedures Committee; and Taylor Schuck, accounting services supervisor at Mueller & Co. LLP and chairperson of the Illinois CPA Society Cannabis Industry Forum Group. Details here
MONDAY’s GUESS: Congrats to Clem Balanoff, the national political director of the Amalgamated Transit Union, for correction answering that David Shanahan was the second longest-serving Illinois House speaker, behind Michael Madigan.
TODAY’S QUESTION: What former Republican Chicago alderman switched parties to run for Congress and later became the first African American to chair a standing committee in the House of Representatives? (h/t Michael Dorf) Email your answer to [email protected].
Former Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, Sun-Times Editorial Board member Lee Bey, Jasculca Terman Strategic Communications co-founder Rick Jasculca, and Progressive Caucus executive director Rebecca Williams.
October 20, 2020 at 07:52AM