Happy Tuesday, Illinois. Donald Trump’s stonewalling of Joe Biden’s team is unparalleled, writes POLITICO’s Anita Kumar. Melania hasn’t even invited Jill over for tea.
STATEHOUSE STUNNER: Political writer and columnist Bernard Schoenburg and statehouse reporter Doug Finke have accepted buyouts and will be departing the State Journal-Register on Dec. 1. Finke has worked at the SJ-R since the 1970s; Schoenburg’s first byline appeared in the paper in 1990, via Illinois Times.
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, state Senate President Don Harmon and 13 other Illinois electors sent a letter to Emily Murphy, the head of the General Services Administration, on Monday asking her to certify the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
Murphy is the Trump administration appointee who has refused to sign a letter allowing Biden’s transition team to access federal information and transition funds. By not signing off on their victory, Murphy is also preventing them from conducting background checks on prospective Cabinet nominees.
“As electors to the Electoral College, we believe this delay is unnecessary, unprecedented and dangerous. America’s integrity depends on the federal government showing explicitly and swiftly that the United States government respects the will of the American people,” the Illinois electors said in the letter obtained by Playbook.
The letter also refers to the nonpartisan Center for Presidential Transition, which wrote a similar letter calling for Murphy to sign off on the election and smooth the way for the transition of power. That letter was signed by top aides to former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and Penny Pritzker, Commerce Secretary to President Barack Obama.
Democrats in Congress are considering whether to force the GSA’s hand by summoning Murphy to testify or even suing her, according to POLITICO’s Transition Playbook. “Obviously, Congress could file suit against the GSA administrator for failing to do her duty. We could seek to get a court to, in fact, issue an order,” said Gerry Connolly, a Virginia Democrat and chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s government operations subcommittee. “Right now, we’re assessing those options.”
The surge of coronavirus is affecting every part of our lives again in Illinois. It’s endangering front-line workers and keeping others home. Infections are on the rise. Hospitals are more crowded now than they were during the spring surge. Gov. J.B. Pritzker says: “We are in for a rough ride for the next 3 months.” And Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, who heads the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, tweeted that she’s tested positive for Covid-19, becoming the latest high-profile official to contract the virus.
And that was just Monday.
The good news, two coronavirus vaccines could be game changers in fighting the disease. The problem, though: There won’t be enough for everyone when they’re first made available, says Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago’s public health commissioner.
Meanwhile, the White House seems to have abandoned any leadership role in corralling the virus in the meantime, and President-elect Joe Biden’s hands are tied to plan for releasing the vaccine next year. "Our economy is rebounding far beyond any expectations," Trump said on Friday.
The headlines are nonstop, and it may seem easier to ignore them and go about life thinking the coronavirus won’t hit close to home. Then, Heidi Stevens offers a reality check. The Tribune columnist was stunned to have tested positive when she’d been working from home and her family “avoided crowds and restaurants” and wore masks when leaving the house. She suffered body aches, her head throbbed and “eyeballs pulsated.” And just when Stevens thought she was through the worst of it, she was hospitalized.
The point being, it can happen to any of us.
— There are 2 effective Covid-19 vaccines. What’s next? by POLITICO’s Zachary Brennan and Sarah Owermohle
— Chicago is stockpiling Covid-19 vaccine supplies as Illinois officials figure out distribution, by WBEZ’s Becky Vevea
— Illinois sounds warning again as hospitals pass spring highs for Covid-19 patients, by Tribune’s Jamie Munks
— Every toilet flush reveals a clue in fight to stop Covid-19, by Tribune’s Michael Hawthorne
— Bustos tests positive for Covid-19, by POLITICO’s Catherine Kim
— Biden pressures Trump on coronavirus: ‘More people may die if we don’t coordinate,’ by POLITICO’s Nick Niedzwiadek
— Column: I took a Covid-19 test as a precaution. A week later, I was hospitalized, by Tribune’s Heidi Stevens
— Judge finds Pritzker acted lawfully to mandate health guidance for schools, by Capitol News’ Sarah Mansur
Have a tip, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? Get in touch: [email protected]
No official public events.
At the Thompson Center at 2:30 p.m. for the daily Covid-19 update. Watch live
Online at 10 a.m. presiding over a virtual meeting of the Cook County Forest Preserves District. Watch live
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Monday reported 37 additional deaths and 11,632 new confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus disease. That’s a total of 10,779 deaths and 585,248 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from Nov. 9 through 15 is 12.5 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 16.0 percent. Argh.
— LIGHTFOOT SWEETENS BUDGET POT even more in quest for 26 votes: “The mayor emphasized that the $94 million property tax increase will not impact Chicago taxpayers until 2022, when coronavirus vaccines are expected to be widely-distributed. The idea is to give Chicago’s pandemic-ravaged economy time to fully re-open and recover,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.
— City Council to consider capping delivery app fees: “Delivery fees charged to Chicago restaurants by third-party delivery companies such as Grubhub and Uber Eats would get capped at 10 percent of the order’s cost as long as indoor dining capacity is set at below 40 percent during the coronavirus pandemic, under a proposal introduced to the City Council Monday as Mayor Lori Lightfoot tries to help restaurants make it through the winter….The mayor on Monday called the new version a win. But DoorDash spokesman Campbell Matthews said the caps ‘could cause us to increase costs for customers, which could lead to fewer orders for local restaurants and fewer earning opportunities for Dashers,’” by Tribune’s John Byrne, Phil Vettel and Gregory Pratt.
— Mayoral ally proposes legalizing video gaming, but comes up snake eyes with Lightfoot: “Ald. Matt O’Shea’s endorsement helped propel Lightfoot’s landslide win last year, but that didn’t prevent his video gaming idea from being sent to the Rules Committee, a traditional burial ground for legislation the mayor opposes,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.
— Could Trump lose his Chicago tower? “On paper, he owes more than $50 million to his own LLC affiliated with the building. It’ll take a court to crack open the reason why, but that could happen now with the New York AG circling,” writes Whet Moser for Chicago magazine.
— Ethics Board finds probable cause Brookins violated ethics ordinance: “The Chicago Board of Ethics voted unanimously on Monday to find that there is probable cause to believe that Ald. Howard Brookins (22nd Ward) violated the city’s Governmental Ethics Ordinance by defending clients — including former Ald. Proco Joe Moreno — in criminal cases involving the Chicago Police Department,” by WTTW’s Heather Cherone.
— Developers push new Fulton Market ventures: “A hotel and a residential high-rise are the latest offerings as investors position for a real estate revival once the pandemic subsides,” by Sun-Times’ David Roeder.
— Chicagoans keep shopping amid stay-at-home advisory: “Shelves in Garfield Park, Humboldt Park and Belmont-Cragin remained stocked with groceries and essentials like toilet paper — which became scarce during the initial lockdown in March — were limited to one or two per person,” by Sun-Times’ Manny Ramos.
— For some restaurants, it’s cheaper to close than to remain open, Without customers or employees, they can cut workers’ compensation and other insurance expenses, and in the case of Hopleaf, "there’s no need to pay a music licensing service if there’s no one at Hopleaf to listen to music," reports WTTW’s Amanda Vinicky
— Chicago lawyers give high school debate a boost: Leonard Gail and Jonathan Massey, former high school debaters who went on to found Massey & Gail law firm, sponsored a new debate series in five cities. “The I RESOLVE program was launched this year by the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues as a pilot series aimed at drawing a larger audience to high school debate and allowing students to showcase their arguments on issues important to them. Originally planned as a live series, the events were moved online due to the Covid-19 pandemic — the exhibition for Chicago students was last Wednesday. Nearly 100 people tuned in. …’We wanted to provide a window into debate so people could see all the skills involved for these students,’ said NAUDL Executive Director Rhonda Haynes,” by Law Bulletin’s Jessie M. Molloy.
— Cook County judge at Daley Center tests positive for Covid-19: “Ten judges total in Cook County have tested positive for the coronavirus… [Though latest] judge last reported to work at the downtown office in October, according to a statement from the Office of the Chief Judge,” by Sun-Times’ David Struett.
— Arizona prosecutors say charges against Tony La Russa are not being dropped despite reports: “The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office said the charges had been dismissed as ‘a formality because the case was filed in the wrong court.’ They will be refiled,” by Sun-Times’ Jon Seidel and Daryl Van Schouwen.
— PRITZKER TO SEEK FEDERAL AID, possible business tax increases: “A new report from the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget shows that without significant new revenue, spending cuts or a combination of both, the state will face a budget deficit of $3.9 billion in the current fiscal year and continuing deficits of $4 billion or more in each of the next five fiscal years. It also projects that the state’s backlog of unpaid bills could grow to as much as $33 billion by fiscal year 2026, up from the current backlog total of about $7.8 billion, if lawmakers do not make structural changes,” by Capitol News’ Peter Hancock.
— EDGAR: Budget is ‘in far worse shape’ than in his time: “Jim Edgar was governor in the 1990s and shepherded the state through another budget crisis. But he says this one is much bigger—and will force lawmakers to choose between things like education, health care, and public safety. ‘Nobody’s going to want to cut those, but if you don’t cut those, you can’t really begin to make up this deficit without a tax increase—and a pretty good tax increase,” by WSIU’s Jennifer Fuller.
— NEW DATA: Use of seclusion, restaurant increased in Illinois schools during the 2017-18 school year: “As lawmakers prepare to debate a statewide ban on seclusion and restraint, Illinois schools reported using seclusion — the practice of forcibly isolating a student in a small room or other space — at least 10,776 times in the 2017-18 school year,” by Tribune’s Jennifer Smith Richards and ProPublica’s Jodi S. Cohen.
— Illinois could drastically reduce its prison population without seeing crime increase, new report says: “The paper, published Friday, points to states like New York, California and Maryland, which have significantly reduced their prison populations while also seeing a drop in crime. It also notes that Illinois itself has cut down on its prison population and still seen crime go down,” by WBEZ’s Patrick Smith.
— Teachers union calls on Pritzker to close school buildings again because of Covid-19 surge: “The teachers union is also asking the governor, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois State Board of Education to establish and enforce clear metrics for school districts to guide them for any future closures, Dan Montgomery, president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers said,” by Tribune’s Karen Ann Cullotta.
— Workers threaten to strike at 11 nursing homes in Illinois next week if wages and pandemic hazard pay don’t increase: “Nearly 700 members of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana, part of the Service Employees International Union, voted to strike on Nov. 23 if Infinity Healthcare Management doesn’t meet their demands for higher base pay and pandemic hazard pay. Strike notices were delivered Thursday, the union said,” by Tribune’s Robert McCoppin.
— FanDuel will open a retail sportsbook at Fairmount Park: “A deal has been in the works between FanDuel and Fairmount for nearly a year, but FanDuel initially went live with sports betting in Illinois last summer with the Par-A-Dice Casino because Fairmount had not yet been licensed. The track got its Master Sports Betting License in late October,” by SportsHandle’s Jill R. Dorson.
— With prison looming, former escort squandered $150K Covid-19 loan on travel, clothes, feds say: “Crystal Lundberg has been in hot water with the feds since 2017, when she was first charged along with financial executive Scott Kennedy in a $5.79 million fraud scheme,” by Sun-Times’ Jon Seidel.
— 24-hour heroin ‘hotline’ — staffed by drug dealers — busted on Chicago’s West Side, feds say: “A member of the Gangster Disciples ran the hotline — scheduling shifts and pressuring his staff like a sales manager, prosecutors allege,” by Sun-Times’ David Struett.
Cash-strapped state turning down $100M in pot taxes, industry says: “Some cannabis insiders say the industry has been hampered by Gov. Pritzker’s interpretation of the legalization law that won’t allow existing medical dispensaries to move and also sell recreational marijuana,” by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba.
— Claims of anti-Semitism at U. of I. prompt federal probe by Department of Education: “The allegations, filed with the department in a complaint this spring, describe ‘an alarming increase in anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism’ at the U. of I. over the past five years. The department evaluates all complaints it receives but doesn’t pursue investigations in every instance,” by Tribune’s Elyssa Cherney.
— Should college students get a Covid-19 test before heading home for the holidays? “Public health experts say traveling, especially in airports or by public transit, is inherently risky when COVID-19 infections are high, and colleges are discouraging students from shuttling back and forth in the coming weeks….Some schools urge or even require it, but ‘it doesn’t give you a free pass,’” writes Tribune’s Elyssa Cherney.
— Next steps in IL-14: Today’s the last day in Illinois that mail-in ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 can be counted. That doesn’t mean Republican Jim Oberweis’ team will be calling Rep. Lauren Underwood with congratulations. Oberweis is waiting for the election to be certified on Nov. 24, according to his spokesman. That’s when we’ll hear if he’s going to request a recount. As of Monday, The Associated Press reports Underwood secured 200,976 votes (50.6 percent) to Oberweis’ 196,215 (49.4 percent).
— Judicial election expert Frank Calabrese says Cook County Judge Jackie Portman-Brown will be out after not securing 60 percent “yes” votes to stay on the bench. He’s charted out the votes. Cook County Judge John Maloney appears to be heading for the doors, too, according to Injustice Watch.
Durbin calls for Trump, Barr to halt executions: “Sen. Dick Durbin has joined Senate colleagues Cory Booker of New Jersey and Patrick Leahy of Vermont as well as U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts in sending a letter to U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr urging him to ‘suspend all federal executions so the incoming Biden-Harris administration can evaluate and determine the future use of the death penalty by the federal government,’” by One Illinois’ Ted Cox.
— Republicans start to relent: ‘It looks like it will be President Biden,’ by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett, Melanie Zanona and Andrew Desiderio
— 4 more years: Trump freezes 2024 presidential field, by POLITICO’s Alex Isenstadt
— World pushes ahead with climate action as U.S. remains in limbo, by POLITICO’s Ryan Heath, Karl Mathiesen, Zack Colman and Kalina Oroschakoff
— Dec. 1: WTTW is airing “Making Sense of 2020,” a special that examines “the global pandemic, looming recession, racial reckoning, the census, and a polarized election.” Details here
— Jamie Singer has been named EVP and director of Data Security, Privacy and Crisis Communications at Resolute Strategic Services. Singer previously was a SVP at Edelman, where she counseled Fortune 500 companies and public sector organizations on a range of issues — from large-scale cyberattacks to workplace violence to litigation issues.
— Sadia Sindhu has been named to the new class of the Civic Society Fellowship by the Anti-Defamation League and the Aspen Institute, which is focused on civic leadership. Sindhu is currently the executive director of University of Chicago’s Center for Effective Government.
— Mancow leaving WLS morning show: “Saying he was tired of doing ‘radio without joy’ during a pandemic, Erich Mancow Muller is leaving WLS 890-AM after two years as morning host. His last day on the Cumulus Media news/talk station will be Nov. 25,” reports media writer Robert Feder.
MONDAY’s GUESS: Congrats to Clem Balanoff, the national political director of the Amalgamated Transit Union, for correctly answering that 25 amendments to the Illinois Constitution have been put to voters, including the graduated income tax amendment that failed Nov. 3.
TODAY’S QUESTION: Who was booed off the stage with Mayor Richard J. Daly at the NAACP’s rally at Grant Park? Email your answer to [email protected].
Channing Lenert, program officer for Polk Bros. Foundation
November 17, 2020 at 08:00AM