TGIF, Illinois. Everyone’s been counting this week, whether it’s Republicans turning on President Donald Trump or Illinois Democrats rejecting the House speaker or election workers in Georgia. I’m focused on how many pies to make for four people at my Thanksgiving table.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: Illinois Playbook will not publish on Thanksgiving or Nov. 27. We’ll be back on our normal schedule Monday, Nov. 30.
House Speaker Michael Madigan issued a two-page statement Thursday denying any knowledge of a scheme to get jobs for his friends in exchange for legislation.
“Let me be clear: if that attempt ever happened, it was never made known to me. If it had been known to me, it would have been profoundly unwelcome,” Madigan said in the statement referring to a federal indictment this week naming a confidante and three former ComEd execs. He called the allegations “false,” adding “If there was an attempt to influence me in my official capacity, it failed.”
Madigan also took a swipe at his critics. “Some individuals have spent millions of dollars and worked diligently to establish a false narrative that I am corrupt and unethical. I have publicly ignored their antics because those who know me and work with me know that this rhetoric is simply untrue. The truth is that I have never engaged in any inappropriate or criminal conduct. Despite baseless speculation alluding to the contrary, I have always gone to great lengths to ensure my conduct is legal and ethical, and any claim to the contrary is patently false.”
But state reps started dropping like flies, saying they won’t support Madigan to be speaker again in January — and the math is suddenly turned against him.
Rep. Daniel Didech, a Democrat from Buffalo Grove, sent his statement out in the wee hours, saying, “now is the time, for the first time in four decades, for the House Democratic Caucus to choose a new Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. It is critical that our work to select a new leader begins today.” He followed Reps. Sam Yingling of Grayslake, Jonathan Carroll of Northbrook, Will Guzzardi of Chicago, and Rep.-elect Margaret Croke of Chicago who issued similar statements Thursday. There are now 17 Democrats who say they won’t vote for Madigan. With 73 Democrats in the House, he wouldn’t get the 60 needed to hang on to the gavel.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker paused his daily coronavirus briefing to address the indictment and Madigan’s statement: “If Speaker Madigan wants to continue in a position of enormous public trust with such a serious ethical cloud hanging over his head, then he has to at the very least, be willing to stand in front of the press and the people and answer every last question to their satisfaction.” Written statements, Pritzker said, “are not going to cut it. If the speaker cannot commit to that level of transparency, then the time has come for him to resign as speaker.”
Strong as it was, the governor’s statement didn’t call for a resignation outright.
The sudden shift in the Democratic landscape prompted political analyst Andrew Ellison to map out Madigan’s support has changed just since the beginning of the week.
New parlor game: If not Madigan, who can get 60 Democratic votes to become speaker? Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, chairperson of the State Government Administration committee, has already put her hat in the ring. Other names: Majority Leader Greg Harris, Assistant Majority Leader Kelly Burke, Appropriations-Public Safety Chairperson Kelly Cassidy, Assistant Majority Leader Will Davis, Deputy Majority Leader Jehan Gordon-Booth, Assistant Majority Leader Jay Hoffman, Executive Committee Chairperson Emanuel “Chris” Welch, and Energy and Environment Chairperson Ann Williams.
— ANALYSIS: Bombshell indictment proves feds have their sights on Madigan, writes Sun-Times’ Jon Seidel
— JIM EDGAR: “I would not count him out… He’s the smartest guy in the Capitol building and very determined, and he’s not going to go easily,” the former Republican governor tells the Tribune’s Rick Pearson, Jamie Munks and Dan Petrella.
— Chicago Federation of Labor president still has Madigan’s back, by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman
— REPUBLICANS RESPOND: House Republican Leader Jim Durkin accused Democrats of "stalling" in investigating wrong-doing by Madigan. VIDEO
— COLUMN: Illinois Dems are finally standing up to Madigan. When will D.C. Republicans stand up to Trump? By Tribune’s Eric Zorn
While some progressive Chicago aldermen are moving to support Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s budget plans, some on the right are pushing back.
On Thursday, members of the Budget and Government Operations Committee voted 26 to 8 to approve her plan for a property tax increase to help fund the city’s $1.2 billion shortfall.
The eight opposed are Marty Quinn (13th), Matt O’Shea (19th), Silvana Tabares (23rd), Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), Anthony Napolitano (41st), Brendan Reilly (42nd), Tom Tunney (44th), and Debra Silverstein (50th).
Except for Ramirez-Rosa and Tabares, the six are from districts that are generally more conservative and represent largely white constituents.
On Wednesday, during the council’s Finance Committee meeting, Brian Hopkins (2nd), Anthony Beale (9th), Patrick Daley Thompson (11th), Ed Burke (14th Ward), and Raymond Lopez (15th) joined Quinn, O’Shea, Tabares, Napolitano, Reilly, Tunney and Silverstein to vote against the the property tax proposal, which still passed 21 to 12.
Again, they are mostly from areas represented by more center and right aldermen. The caveats are Beale and Lopez, who generally push back on every move Lightfoot makes. And Tabares, who along with Quinn, is an ally of embattled House Speaker Michael Madigan.
The point being: The no votes are mostly from wards where constituents benefited from years of investment and machine politics yet now aren’t willing to take the vote for a property tax hike.
The margins are closer than the mayor’s office would like, but it’s expected the budget will pass when the council meets again next week. “They have the votes, but they don’t take anything for granted,” a source close to the mayor’s office told Playbook.
Lightfoot’s 2021 spending plan moves closer to passage, by Tribune’s John Byrne
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The Illinois Department of Public Health on Thursday reported 168 additional deaths and 14,612 new confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus disease. That’s a total of 11,178 deaths and 621,383 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from Nov. 12 through 18 is 14.0 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 15.3 percent.
— Covid-19 hospitalizations top 6,000 statewide: “The state reported its second-highest one-day COVID-19 count Thursday with 14,612, but it also reported its second-highest daily testing output with 113,447 results reported over the previous 24 hours. The 168 COVID-19 related deaths reported Thursday made for the third-highest one-day total since the pandemic began,” by Capitol News’ Jerry Nowicki.
— DEEP DIVE: The demand for Covid-19 testing in Illinois is rising — but access remains unequal: “Medical experts say getting tested is a crucial part of stemming the spread of COVID-19. Getting a timely positive test means infected people can more quickly quarantine…. A WBEZ analysis shows that, like much of the spread of COVID-19, that need for more testing disproportionately affects Black and Latino communities the most,” by Kristen Schorsch and Alden Loury.
— Vaccines will face a deep distrust in the Black community: “Chicago hospitals struggle to recruit people of color, hit disproportionately hard by Covid, for vaccine research. ‘It will be a double tragedy if African Americans refuse to take the vaccine,’ one expert says,” by Sun-Times’ Brett Chase.
— Chicago partnership working toward equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccine: “A group of over 35 organizations is working to make distribution [of vaccines] in Chicago equitable. The coalition, with members from a variety of sectors in the city, make up the Vaccine Corps Partnership,” reports WTTW’s Marissa Nelson.
— Illinois child care centers report enrollment declines as pandemic wears on: “Several factors could be contributing to the drop in enrollment: Parents’ concerns about the risk of their children getting COVID-19, class size caps meant to limit the spread of the virus, and staffing vacancies that forced some centers to close classrooms or enroll fewer children, said Teresa Hawley, the first assistant deputy governor of education,” reports Chalkbeat Chicago’s Cassie Walker Burke.
— 21 people in a family gathered on Halloween. 6 of them contracted Covid-19: “Linda Diaz was one victim. Since the start of the pandemic, attitudes about the disease’s virulence have diverged — including within this close-knit Chicago family, even now,” by WBEZ’s Odette Yousef.
— Chicago R&B star Jeremih still in critical condition battling Covid-19: report: “Though Jeremih’s agent told Variety that he was “pulled off the ventilator,” the local hitmaker still remains hospitalized in an intensive care unit,” by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba.
— BY RAHM EMANUEL: How Joe Biden can use the political power of Obamacare to expand it: “Once politically vulnerable, the ACA has joined Social Security and Medicare in the pantheon of American entitlements. Here’s how the president-elect can use that as leverage, and what he could fix,” in POLITICO.
— INVESTIGATION: Inside the lives of immigrant teens working dangerous night shifts in suburban factories: “During the day, immigrant teenagers attend high school. At night, they work in factories to pay debts to smugglers and send money to family. The authorities aren’t surprised by child labor. They’re also not doing much about it,” by ProPublica’s Melissa Sanchez.
— Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who were surrogates on the campaign trail for Joe Biden, are pivoting to Georgia. They’re headlining a fundraiser for Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock. The event is Dec. 3. Details here
— OBERWEIS CALLS FOR ‘DISCOVERY RECOUNT’ after projection that he lost to Underwood: “The final vote count to be certified has me down 5,356 votes to Lauren Underwood. With more than more than 400,000 votes cast in the race, the difference between my vote total and her vote total is just over 1 percent or roughly 12 votes per precinct. Illinois election law has provisions to allow parties in a closely contested race to seek a discovery recount and I intend to pursue the legal avenues afforded to me as a candidate for office,” Oberweis said in a statement.
… Underwood’s campaign issued its own statement: “Mr. Oberweis falsely declared victory with more than 20,000 votes outstanding. Now that he’s officially lost, he wants a recount. Regardless of Mr. Oberweis’ bluster, the results in this race will remain the same: this community voted in historic numbers to reelect Congresswoman Lauren Underwood."
— Park District suspends in-person programming as new Covid-19 restrictions take hold: “Most parks and fieldhouses, including their restrooms and shelters, will remain open,” by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba.
— Chicago police reverse course, signal move back to longer narcotics investigations: “The Chicago Police Department plans to add as many as 100 officers to its citywide narcotics unit, police confirmed Thursday, signaling a policy reversal from earlier this year when top officials placed more of an emphasis on supporting neighborhood patrols,” by Tribune’s Jeremy Gorner.
— Blaming Chicago’s violence on bail reform is wrong, a new study finds: “Police and city leaders have long pointed the finger at efforts to let more people out of jail while awaiting trial as a cause of Chicago crime. Those accusations have only gotten louder as Chicago struggles with a startling spike in shootings. But a new report from researchers at the University of Loyola has found that Cook County bail reforms have had ‘no effect’ on violence or crime in general,” by WBEZ’s Patrick Smith.
— Rather than battle a winter of Covid-19, some Chicago restaurants will close until spring: “With its decision to close, Longman & Eagle joined a growing list of restaurants deciding to sit out a winter in Chicago history shaping up to be like no other. Despite early talk of wild experiments to stay open through the coldest months of the year — dining igloos, fire pits, outdoor heated beer gardens and investment in to-go operations — the costs and mechanics of operating through a winter of COVID-19 is giving plenty of restaurant operators unusually cold feet,” by Tribunes’ Josh Noel.
— Hilco, contractors pay $370K to settle state suit for Little Village demolition dust cloud: “Hilco, which is redeveloping the former Crawford Power Generation Station site on South Pulaski Road into a warehouse and distribution hub for Target, used explosives to implode an almost 400-foot smokestack Easter Weekend that fell over and created a massive dust cloud, caught on video, that coated nearby homes, cars and yards and provoked outrage among residents,” writes Sun-Times’ Brett Chase.
— Twelve Blocks: “How do you capture life in a city as big and ever-changing as Chicago? Block by block. A dozen of the city’s best writers, poets, and creators rhapsodize, recollect, and reflect on their own special patch of pavement,” from Chicago magazine.
— Covid can’t stop one tradition: “Despite the uncertainty of the times, the ‘official’ city Christmas tree will be making spirits bright in Millennium Park through the holiday season,” reports the Sun-Times.
Commissioners approve $14M settlement in lawsuit alleging indecent behavior by inmates to public defenders: “Cook County commissioners on Thursday unanimously approved a $14 million payment to settle a lawsuit alleging that a pattern of ‘masturbation attacks’ orchestrated by Cook County Jail inmates against assistant public defenders created a hostile work environment that the public defender failed to address. A separate lawsuit by jail employees against the sheriff’s office is ongoing,” by Tribune’s Gregory Pratt.
— VIDEO: Friend says Rittenhouse predicted life behind bars after shooting 3 during Kenosha protests: “Kyle Rittenhouse predicted he would spend the rest of his life in prison after shooting three people during chaotic demonstrations in Kenosha over the summer, a close friend told police hours after the gunfire,” by Tribune’s Stacy St. Clair, Christy Gutowski and Dan Hinkel.
— 60 people sue over alleged police brutality at Chicago protests: “The lawsuit, filed Thursday in federal court, is the latest effort by Chicago activists to force accountability on the city and its Police Department for what they say was a ‘brutal, violent and unconstitutional’ response to demonstrations,” reports WBEZ’s Patrick Smith.
— Investigator who trained agents on how to root out financial crimes is accused of committing them: “A Homeland Security investigator has been charged with hiding more than $250,000 from federal regulators, filing false tax returns for five years, and concealing information about an informant so the person could get paid nearly $100,000 by the government,” by Tribune’s Kelli Smith.
— Could Obama have been great? By POLITICO’s John F. Harris
— What Trump showed us about America, by POLITICO magazine
— Republican Senate signals it will confirm Biden Cabinet, by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett
— Black Lives Matter activists strike back at Dems slamming ‘defund the police,’ by POLITICO’s Laura Barron-Lopez and Holy Otterbein
DATELINE SAUGATUCK: The story of ‘Michigan’s Pompeii’: How the small town of Singapore was forgotten beneath the sand, by Tribune’s Patrick M. O’Connell: “A small town once stood on the riverbank, where the river bends before ending its journey at the lake. For several decades in the mid-1800s, the village of Singapore was a humming lumber and shipbuilding hub. Residents and sawmill workers processed the plentiful white pine trees of western Michigan, then loaded them onto schooners for Chicago and Milwaukee.
“The founders of Singapore had big dreams. They envisioned their town, then located north of present-day Saugatuck on the southwestern Michigan shore, as the next important Midwestern city, rivaling the growing metropolises in Illinois and Wisconsin.
“But nature, and economic forces, had other plans.”
… Lake Michigan is known for its sandy shores. But surging water levels have left officials scrambling for new ways to protect them, by Tribune’s Patrick M. O’Connell
Drew S. Days III, first African American to lead civil rights division at Justice Department, dies at 79: “Days briefly practiced law in Chicago, then served in the Peace Corps in Honduras before joining the NAACP,” reports the Washington Post.
SWIMMINGLY: Political consultant Porter McNeil was inducted into the 2020 Swimming Club of the Two Rivers YMCA in Moline after he swam 100 miles’ worth of laps so far this year. McNeil says the fete was a bit more challenging than expected since the Y was closed for several months due to Covid.
THURSDAY’s GUESS: Congrats to Todd Fraley, senior policy analyst with Chicago’s Public Health Department and a Jefferson Park resident, who correctly answered that David L. Roberts is considered the father of Jefferson Township (now Jefferson Park). Note, Roberts is the great-great-great-great grandfather of Nick Roberts Mathiowdis, who won Wednesday’s trivia contest.
TODAY’S QUESTION: Who was the pioneering Illinois naturalist who submitted hundreds of specimens to the Smithsonian Institution before their mysterious death — and where is this person’s home now preserved? Email your answer to [email protected].
Today: President-elect Joe Biden, just-elected Cook County Jill Rose Quinn, marketing consultant Beth Goldberg Heller, Veteran Affairs exec Katrina Howard, U. of Chicago professor Geoffrey Stone, PR pro Bill Strong, and Playbooker James Teague.
Saturday: Sen. Dick Durbin.
November 20, 2020 at 07:43AM