Good Wednesday morning, Illinois. Along with releasing his memoir, “The Promised Land,” former President Barack Obama unveiled a Spotify playlist full of subtle messages like Beyonce’s “At Last,” Bob Dylan’s "The Times They Are a-Changin," U2’s "Beautiful Day" and The Beatles’ "Michelle.”
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said his family received “hateful and threatening” messages in recent days after a photo posted on social media erroneously claimed his daughter was dining with a large group of teens at a restaurant in downtown Chicago.
The governor’s office debunked the photo, but that didn’t stop it from being shared by “radio shock jocks” and the "Chicago City Wire," a conservative-backed online site known for spreading misinformation (the site is part of network investigated by The New York Times). Many stories on the site do not have an individual’s name attached and the one using the picture features prominently on the site despite it being nine days old.
Pritzker initially was visibly emotional, pausing when he said the incident prompted his family to change their holiday plans. His wife, M.K. Pritzker, and daughter are now in Florida, where they will stay for Thanksgiving, while the governor and his son will remain in Illinois over the holiday.
“Our state is at a crisis point when it comes to the Covid pandemic, and as a leader, I believe that the situation is simply too grave for me to be elsewhere,” he said Tuesday.
Earlier in the week, he shied away from a question about his holiday plans, he explained, because “my wife and I were in the process of making the very hard decision that we may need to celebrate Thanksgiving apart from one another for the first time ever, and it was weighing heavily on my mind.”
Then the governor turned angry — as angry as your Playbook host has ever seen him in my 10 years covering him — as he explained his children were “off limits” when it came to the work he had to do as governor.
“A well-known lawyer who cares more about headlines than winning cases posted a bounty on his Facebook page, offering money to harass my family at Thanksgiving,” he said. “An actual cash bounty, including my kids, harassing them.” He was referring to Thomas DeVore, who has represented restaurant owners suing the governor over Covid restrictions. Here’s a snap of his public Facebook post.
Pritzker continued: “Put yourself in the shoes of a high school girl who is being weaponized against her father by his political opponents… Put yourself in my shoes. We have threats that stream into my office daily, while we have watched the kidnapping plot against [Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer] unfold just a state away.
“I can handle people throwing my face up on anti-Semitic picket signs likening me to Hitler,” he said. “This kind of vitriol is apparently what I have to deal with to keep the state and its people safe, but my kids are off limits.”
Pritzker’s comments drew support from Republicans circles, too. Rep. Grant Wehrli tweeted: “I do not agree with Gov. Pritzker on much. I do 100% agree with him that a politician’s family is off limits. They are not in the arena and already have a difficult task. They should damn well be left alone by everyone.”
Big storylines are coming out of the state House this week — and the General Assembly isn’t even in session.
Democrats gained a seat after Republican Rep. John Cabello lost his Tuesday — by a mere 239 votes — to Democratic challenger Dave Vella, according to The Associated Press. Cabello will decide after the election is certified Nov. 24 about whether to seek a recount.
Vella’s victory, meanwhile, puts House Dems at 73 members. That’s an important number to keep track of as Michael Madigan tries to lock up 60 votes to keep his position as speaker.
Also on Tuesday came the revelation that four more House lawmakers — Reps. Deb Conroy (46th), Robyn Gabel (18th), Rep. Anna Moeller (43rd) and Rep. Ann Williams (11th) — recently sent a letter to Madigan telling him it was time for new leadership. Rich Miller’s Capitol Fax blog first reported it.
A source tells Playbook that the foursome didn’t intend to go public with their message to Madigan, and they still aren’t releasing the letter.
Instead, they issued a statement Tuesday saying: “Ensuring that the voters have confidence in their elected leaders at all levels of government is of the utmost importance to us. The conversation about the leadership of the Illinois House is a critical one, especially during this time of unprecedented crisis in the state of Illinois. We will continue to work internally within the House Democratic caucus to determine the future of our leadership while working to restore public trust.”
The four reps join eight others who have already said they aren’t backing Madigan. The opponents to Madigan expect one more representative to step forward. That would leave Madigan with a 60 to 13 vote, if it were held today.
We’re still weeks away from the speaker election — a date in January hasn’t been set — so a lot can change before then. Some House members question the sincerity of lawmakers voicing opposition. Is it a case of positioning for some type of ask — maybe a better committee or a chairmanship? “This is really one of the few times we all have leverage,” acknowledged one House member. Another lawmaker sees it differently: “just showbiz.”
Democratic supporters (donors) aren’t taking the numbers lightly. In a statement sent this morning, SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Greg Kelley says Madigan was “in the trenches” working for public employees “during years of constant assault by the Bruce Rauner administration… Tens of thousands of low wage workers are on a path to $15 an hour because [of] Speaker Madigan.”
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In City Hall at 1:15 p.m. for a Covid-19 update
At the Thompson Center at 2:30 p.m. for the daily Covid-19 update. Watch live
Schedule not provided.
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Tuesday reported 97 additional deaths and 12,601 new confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus disease. That’s a total of 10,975 deaths and 597,849 cases in Illinois. As of Monday night, 5,887 in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with Covid-19. Of those, 1,158 patients were in the ICU and 545 patients with Covid-19 were on ventilators. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from Nov. 10 through 16 is 15.9 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 16.0 percent.
— ENTIRE STATE UNDER TIER 3 MITIGATION: “Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday announced targeted restrictions for retail shops and a shutdown of casinos as part of the state’s latest effort to slow the surging coronavirus. Just ahead of the busiest shopping season of the year, retailers will be under a 25 percent capacity limit, down from the current 50 percent. A 50 percent capacity limit will remain for grocery stores, but big-box chains such as Walmart and Target that include groceries will be subject to the lower limit,” by Tribune’s Dan Petrella, Jamie Munks, Gregory Pratt and Hal Dardick.
— Midwest governors join up to urge residents to stay apart: Democratic and Republican governors from the Midwest came together Tuesday to call on residents in their region to follow health and safety protocols during the holidays as coronavirus envelopes their states. Gov. J.B. Pritzker along with fellow Democratic Govs. Gretchen Whitmer (Mich.), Andy Beshear (Ky.), Tony Evers (Wis.), and Tim Walz (Minn.), and Republican Govs. Mike DeWine (Ohio) and Eric Holcomb (Ind.) took part in a Q&A. Whitmer encouraged residents to “get creative” with Zoom during Thanksgiving. They also offered a video that Pritzker and others posted on social media. Video here
— Chicago urges residents to avoid large Thanksgiving gatherings: “The bottom line: You should not be traveling,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, the city’s health commissioner, issuing the city’s strongest language yet on the holidays. “Please do cancel your traditional Thanksgiving plans.” Sun-Times’ Manny Ramos reports.
— Inoculations by December? States aren’t so sure: “While Trump promises tens of millions of vaccine doses next month, many states say they aren’t ready to administer them,” by POLITICO’s Dan Goldberg and Rachel Roubein.
— How Illinois hospitals are handling the Covid-19 surge, and warily watching beds fill: “Hospitals are extremely busy, doctors say, mostly with non-Covid patients. But there’s concern that if Covid-19 cases continue to surge at the current rate, people who need acute care due to a heart attack or a stroke, for instance, will be competing for an ICU bed with those who need acute care for Covid-19,” by WBEZ’s Mariah Woelfel.
— Asthma sufferers can’t use ADA to sue Pritzker for mask mandates: “A federal judge has ruled two people who claim their asthma makes them unable to wear face coverings over their noses and mouths, as required by an executive order issued by Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, cannot sue the governor under the Americans with Disabilities Act after that order was cited by retailers who denied entry to their stores to people without face masks,” by Cook County Record’s Jonathan Bilyk.
— Covid-19 is driving telehealth’s growth. What happens after the pandemic? WBEZ’s Vivian McCall reports.
— Lightfoot offers details on proposed $3.7B capital projects spending plan: “As part of Lightfoot’s proposal, the city would borrow $1.4 billion to fund projects over the next two years before borrowing more later,” by Tribune’s Gregory Pratt.
— ANALYSIS: Lightfoot struggles to find votes for property tax increase, and has herself to blame: “The chickens are coming home to roost for a political newcomer who failed to cultivate relationships of trust with aldermen but now is asking them to walk the tax plank,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.
— CPS TO REOPEN: Jan. 11 for pre-K, and Feb. 1 for K-8: “Chicago Teachers Union president Jesse Sharkey called the reopening dates ‘arbitrary’ and ‘wholly de-linked’ from public health data that show a spike in Covid-19 rates. ‘Just unilaterally picking an arbitrary date in the future and hoping everything works out is a recipe for disaster,’ Sharkey said in a statement,” reports Chalkbeat Chicago’s Cassie Walker Burke.
— Proposal to cap delivery app fees in Chicago clears City Council hurdle: “A plan to cap delivery fees charged to Chicago restaurants by third-party delivery companies such as Grubhub and Uber Eats at 10 percent of the order’s cost as long as indoor dining capacity is set at below 40 percent during the coronavirus pandemic moved closer to final passage on Tuesday as aldermen voted to advance the plan,” by Tribune’s Gregory Pratt.
— Feds to Lightfoot: Don’t issue General Iron a city permit: “A federal housing official tells City Hall that a civil rights complaint makes ‘persuasive’ arguments the metal shredder’s move to the Southeast Side would cause ‘serious and irreparable injury,’” by Sun-Times’ Brett Chase.
— Appeals panel: Community activists can’t bring discrimination suits vs city over TIF programs: “A divided state appeals panel upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit in which Chicago activist groups accused the city of discriminatory practices in the way it administers tax increment financing districts and funding programs. Cook County Circuit Court Judge Neil Cohen dismissed the complaint of the Grassroots Collaborative and Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education, finding they lacked standing to bring allegations under the city’s Tax Increment Allocation Redevelopment Act,” by Cook County Record’s Scott Holland.
— Campaign launches to flip Black Friday to ‘Black Shop Friday:’ The city of Chicago is joining an effort that encourages people to direct their dollars to Black-owned businesses this holiday season. “Black Shop Friday was announced Tuesday by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the Chicago Urban League and Chicago advertising agency O’Keefe Reinhard & Paul (OKRP). ‘We know that Black-owned businesses have less access to capital and other resources needed to be successful,’ Chicago Urban League President and CEO Karen Freeman-Wilson said in a statement. ‘Black Shop Friday is an important campaign to raise awareness of these challenges, while also providing a mechanism for people who want to be intentional about supporting Black businesses,’” By WBEZ’s Patty Wetli.
— Legacy of Cubs’ Epstein in the pantheon of Chicago sports execs: “When Epstein got to Chicago in 2011, he was transparent about what the organization would have to do to return to relevance. That transparency helped him stand out as an executive,” by Sun-Times’ Russell Dorsey.
JOIN TODAY — CONFRONTING INEQUALITY TOWN HALL “BRIDGING THE ECONOMIC DIVIDE": Although pandemic job losses have been widespread, the economic blow has been especially devastating to Black workers and Black-owned businesses. POLITICO’s third “Confronting Inequality in America” town hall will convene economists, scholars, private sector and city leaders to explore policies and strategies to deal with the disproportionate economic impact of the pandemic and the broader factors contributing to the persistent racial wealth and income gaps. REGISTER HERE.
— SCOTUS nixes Cook County appeal of decision that green lit taxpayer suit over property tax assessments: “The U.S. Supreme Court has turned back an attempt by Cook County officials and other taxing bodies to undo a decision that opened federal courts to property tax disputes, because the appeals judges determined certain Cook County taxpayers couldn’t get a fair shot to appeal their tax assessments,” by Cook County Record’s Jonathan Bilyk.
— U-46 students will return to remote learning as Covid-19 cases keep rising in Kane County: “The plan now is to work on a second-semester hybrid model for the district’s high schools with at least two days of in-person instruction,” by Elgin Courier-News’ Karie Angell Luc.
— On Naperville’s agenda: CityGate West, a $200 million development proposed by Inter-Continental Real Estate and Development, is set to go before the Naperville Planning and Zoning Commission tonight. The arts-inspired, residential/commercial project would take several years to build out, according to Inter-Continental Real Estate and Development. The project has been in the works for more than a year—before Covid-19 took a toll—and would be one of the largest developments in Naperville’s history.
— Illinois teachers union urges state to close schools, set metrics as Covid-19 cases spike: “IFT President Dan Montgomery sees the current spike in cases as a strong argument to close school buildings statewide. He said that when Pritzker closed school buildings in March, some parts of the state had small numbers of coronavirus cases or none at all. Now, every county in the state has a significant number of cases,” reports Chalkbeat Chicago’s Samantha Smylie.
— IHSA puts winter sports on pause, signals basketball won’t start before January: “The Illinois High School Association and Chicago Public Schools have both put the few winter sports that were being held on pause,” by Sun-Times’ Michael O’Brien.
— Four Sangamon Co. restaurants ordered closed temporarily for violating Covid-19 mitigations: “The Sangamon County Department of Public Health issued citations and $500 fines last week to the restaurants for violating the indoor dining ban that went into effect on Friday, Nov. 13,” reports NPR Illinois’ Sarah Mansur.
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. This week’s feature looks at the post-election Democratic meltdown in Florida. Check it out!
Durbin aide joins Biden team as new administration gears up for confirmation battles: Reema Dodin, a deputy chief of staff to Sen. Dick Durbin–serving as the Democfratic whip’s floor director–will take the lead on legislative strategy in the Biden administration, reports POLITICO’s Alex Thompson.
— In abrupt reversal, Michigan’s largest county certifies election results, by POLITICO’s Kyle Cheney and Zach Montellaro
— Biden’s biggest challenge: A growing racial wealth gap, by POLITICO’s Renuka Rayasam and Ben White
— Dan Bongino leads the MAGA field in stolen-election messaging, by POLITICO’s Maggie Severns
— Rep. Jan Schakowsky is among a select few lawmakers who will stand up for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when she’s nominated today in closed party elections for speaker.
— Today at 4 p.m.: Sen. Dick Durbin headlines a town hall discussion on “the continued fight for civil liberties and rights nationwide” as part of the Vote Like Your Rights Depend on It: 2020 Election Series. Moderator is ACLU of Illinois Executive Director Colleen Connell. Hosts are the Weinberg/Newton Gallery and ACLU Illinois. Register here
— Thursday: Evan Osnos, a former Tribune reporter who now writes for the New Yorker, discusses his book: “Joe Biden.” Moderator is WTTW’s Brandis Friedman. Sponsored by Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Details here
Congrats to WBEZ political reporter Dave McKinney, whose virtual meeting space got a thumbs up on Room Rater.
TUESDAY’s GUESS: Congrats to Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Miguel Larios, who correctly answered that the Rev. Joseph H. Jackson was booed off the stage along with Mayor Richard J. Daley during the NAACP’s July 4, 1963, rally at Grant Park.
TODAY’S QUESTION: Name the most notorious murderer who gave himself up at the Desplaines Street Police Station — and who he confessed to killing? Email your answer to [email protected].
Former Illinois Attorney General Ty Fahner, Clayco President Lori Healey, author Ethan Michaeli, and Tribune reporter Ron Grossman.
November 18, 2020 at 07:56AM