Happy Monday, Illinois. Laugh all you want, but I spent the weekend decorating my house, which means I’m done worrying about it until mid-January.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: Illinois Playbook will not publish on Thanksgiving or Friday. After the hiatus, we’ll be back on our normal schedule Monday, Nov. 30.
President Donald Trump’s insistence that Democrats are trying to steal the presidential election is affecting how some voters view Illinois.
“It creates a trickle-down effect when the president of the United States says there’s fraud. People listen,” said Illinois election attorney Burt Odelson, who was an attorney for George W. Bush in the 2000 recount in Florida against Al Gore.
“There are extreme campaigns who don’t want to believe that this is their fate. I hope it’s a trend we can get over in the next two to four years,” Odelson told Playbook.
So far only Jim Oberweis is raising the specter of a recount in Illinois. He’s down more than 5,000 votes in the 14th Congressional District race against Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood. Yet he’s taking advantage of a state law that allows a “discovery recount” of a certain number of precincts to determine if a full recount can be done.
Unofficially, Willie Wilson’s campaign spokesman, Scott Winslow, wonders how in the world the third-party candidate for Senate could have been beaten 20 to 1 by Sen. Dick Durbin in Chicago’s Black wards. Wilson isn’t challenging the race but Winslow says it’s a concern.
“The spread seemed insurmountable [to challenge], though my gut says there’s something wrong with the numbers,” Winslow told Playbook.
Dr. Lora Chamberlain, who heads the nonpartisan Clean Count Cook County advocacy group, says she’s received “a smattering of emails” from campaigns questioning vote counts in Illinois but doesn’t think there are any wide-ranging concerns.
That said, she adds, “We want Republicans to know that we agree that there should be more transparency, observability, and accountability.” Chamberlain, a medical doctor who became active in elections after the 2000 hanging chad incident, praised Chicago’s system of counting ballots, saying it was easy to watch the process thanks to big screens. She says Cook County needs more work. Chamberlain also praised the national conversation about how votes are verified but says Trump has taken it “to the Nth degree.”
“The Georgia recount was fine but I don’t see any point in having it recounted again. Doing that is an obstruction. He is using the issue to retain his hold on the White House,” Chamberlain said.
Michael Madigan is forging ahead with plans to run again for Illinois House speaker, indictments and naysayers be damned. And because he is who he is — a speaker who knows how to count votes better than anyone — everyone’s wondering what he knows that the rest of us don’t.
“The decision on the next speaker of the Illinois House will be made at a caucus, after a full discussion of the issues facing our state and the qualifications of the candidates,” Madigan said in a statement after it appeared he’d lost too many votes to continue his speakership in January. “I plan to be a candidate for speaker, and today I confirmed that I continue to have support from a significant number of House Democratic caucus members."
The speaker’s potential downfall would mark a major turning point in Illinois politics and carry with it major implications for the future of the Democratic Party in the state.
“This reflects a big change in what people in Illinois are expecting out of government," said Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi, who defeated a machine-style politician two years ago. "Basically, we have one of the last old-school political machines in the country. Madigan’s a lineal descendant of that tradition and people don’t think it works. It has caused tremendous fiscal problems in the state.”
There are now 18 representatives who say they won’t vote for Madigan. Five of them would have to flip in order for Madigan to hold on to his seat.
WBEZ’s Dave McKinney writes: “If Madigan’s bid falters, by some estimates, as many as 10 potential successors for speaker could emerge from the racially and culturally diverse House Democratic caucus.”
State Rep. Will Davis, a Black state rep from Homewood and member of Madigan’s leadership team, supports Madigan as speaker, though he acknowledges it will be difficult to flip defectors back into his camp. “I think there is the initial conundrum right there,” Davis told McKinney. “He doesn’t have 60 votes.”
“Ironically, Democrats’ recent dominance in Springfield may also be a reason why so many Democrats have been willing to defy Madigan,” writes Daniel C. Vock for Center for Illinois Politics. "[T]he Democratic caucus Madigan leads has become bigger, more diverse, younger, more suburban and more liberal in recent years. It seems that their patience with the old-school ward boss from Chicago’s Southwest Side is growing thin."
Federal probe déjà vu: Tribune’s Jason Meisner and Ray Long compare the Madigan case to other federal investigations in Illinois. Michael McClain, the Madigan ally who has been charged by federal prosecutors in a bribery scheme that threatens to pull down the House leader, is in a familiar situation to other cases. Scott Fawell, the top aide to Republican Gov. George Ryan, flipped on his boss after investigators put the squeeze on his fiance over her own legal troubles.
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Presiding over a virtual City Council meeting at 2 p.m.
At the Thompson Center at 2:30 p.m. for the daily Covid-19 update. Watch live
Online at 9:30 a.m. with Chicago Department of Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara to announce the Cook County Legal Aid for Housing and Debt initiative to help residents resolve eviction, foreclosure, debt, and tax deed issues. Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans, Cook County Commissioners Alma Anaya and Scott Britton, and Chicago Bar Foundation executive director Robert Glaves are set to attend. Watch live
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Thursday reported 76 additional deaths and 10,012 new confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus disease. That’s a total of 11,506 deaths and 656,298 cases in Illinois. As of last night, 6,072 in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with Covid-19. Of those, 1,179 patients were in the ICU and 589 patients with Covid-19 were on ventilators. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from Nov. 15 through 21 is 13 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 14.2 percent.
— ‘The train is running’ on Covid vaccines despite transition delay, Warp Speed adviser says: “Decisions are being made outside of the ‘political environment,’ said Moncef Slaoui, former head of GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccines department,” by POLITICO’s Maya Parthasarathy.
— With Covid-19 surging anew, alarms sound again for Cook County’s incarcerated: “More than 20 residents of the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center have tested positive in the past month, a dramatic increase over the numbers reported at the end of spring and early summer. The staff numbers are alarming as well, with more than 70 people who work at the near West Side facility now reported to have tested positive during the entire pandemic,” by Tribune’s Annie Sweeney and Morgan Crepeau.
— Chicago area hospitals worry about growing number of Covid-19 hospitalizations: “Dr. Ernest Wang, chief of emergency medicine at North Shore University Health System, oversees five hospitals, including in Evanston and Highland Park. He says things are going to get worse before they get better and hospitals are already in crisis mode,” via CBX/2’s Meredith Barack.
— During the pandemic, who owns a nursing home can be the difference between life and death: “In the Illinois counties hit hardest by the virus, for-profit nursing hoes have nearly double the deaths per bed as nonprofit facilities,” reports WBEZ’s Chip Mitchell.
— Chicago-area workers log 1,000 complaints about Covid-19 conditions on the job: “The complaints, among 31,000 made nationwide, are an on-the-ground view from workers who have been forced to continue laboring outside their homes amidst the deadly pandemic. They form a record of palpable concerns from the area’s essential workers, and a clear warning that conditions are not safe and people are getting sick,” by WBEZ’s Linda Lutton and Michael Puente.
— Naperville mayor’s niece calls out uncle on Twitter after defending decision to attend daughter’s wedding: “A social media photo showed the mayor and family members at the ceremony, with none of the family members wearing masks,” via NBC/5.
— LIGHTFOOT LINES UP BUDGET SUPPORT: The City Council is expected to pass Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s budget proposal this week with at least 27 — and as many as 30 — votes, according to two sources who asked not to be named. Passage requires 26 votes. “I can tell you that we will be passing a budget on Tuesday. The city of Chicago cannot rely on assistance from Springfield or Washington, D.C., especially with a President Trump administration currently in place,” Ald. Gil Villegas (36th), told Playbook. He said the Council will also pass the $3.7 billion capital bill to deal with deferred maintenance projects. Villegas expects the council “to be active in Springfield, seeking different revenue streams so we can diversify our revenue options.”
… Some surprise yes votes: Aldermen Andre Vasquez (40th) and Maria Hadden (49th), both members of the City Council’s progressive caucus, have said they’ll vote yes. “This was not an easy decision in part because the budget includes a property tax increase,” Vasquez told constituents in his weekly newsletter. “The reality is that the Covid crisis has decimated Chicago’s traditional revenue streams.” Other aldermen who confirmed their “yes” vote: Aldermen Jason Ervin (28th) Michele Smith (43rd), Ald. Nick Sposato (38th), and Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) — who prefaced his answer with yes “for now.”
… Voting “no”: Aldermen Jeanette Taylor (20th), Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th), Carlos Ramirez-Lopez (35th), and Tom Tunney (44th).
— OFFICE SHAKE-UP: City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin fires 4 employees, including chief of staff: “It’s not unusual for elected officials to make staff changes, but the decision to fire a handful of key staffers just before Thanksgiving raised eyebrows throughout City Hall,” writes Tribune’s Gregory Pratt.
— Alderman’s ward office vandalized for 3rd time this year, 3 caught on video throwing bricks: “Ald. Raymond Lopez posted a surveillance video of the attack on Twitter and called on the public to help identify the people who are shown running away after throwing bricks at the office… Though he said he is uncertain of the reason for the attack, Lopez believes it is gang-related and the attackers were seeking to retaliate for his efforts to target troubled buildings and a recent arrest of a local gang leader,” by Tribune’s Laura Rodriguez Presa.
— Catholic schools can transition to remote learning after Thanksgiving, archdiocese says: “The decision comes after parents, principals and other school employees were surveyed last week “to gauge their comfort with in-person learning in December,” an archdioceses spokesman said,” by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba.
— In-person entrance exams for Chicago’s selective high schools bring high anxiety about Covid-19 risk: “Some parents worry that proceeding with in-person testing for Chicago’s 11 selective-enrollment high schools may benefit families willing to take an unnecessary risk, even with all the health and safety measures available,” by Tribune’s Hannah Leone.
— Cafe Marie-Jeanne fans flock to restaurant after it announces closing, but it won’t be enough, chef says: “Though we sadly should be getting used to restaurant closings in 2020, this one really hurts. Cafe Marie-Jeanne (1001 N. California Ave.), which is co-owned by the husband and wife team of Michael Simmons and Val Szafranski, made the announcement Thursday night on Instagram: ‘Hi. We have to tell you. The string has run out for CMJ. We hung in as long as we could and it’s time to let go,’” by Tribune’s Nick Kindelsperger.
— Column: Jeanne Gang on Vista Tower, gender equality in architecture and the future of downtown Chicago, a Q&A with Blair Kamin.
— CTA holiday train and bus to return, but no riders allowed: “Santa and his elves will stay socially distanced this holiday season, meaning that customers won’t be able to board the CTA Holiday Train or the CTA Holiday Bus,” the transit authority said in a statement. Sun-Times’ Sam Kelly reports.
— Covid-19 Thanksgiving travel: Rising cases force hard family conversations, last-minute changes: “Rising Covid-19 case counts and new warnings against travel and traditional Thanksgiving celebrations are forcing people to have tough conversations about whether it’s smart to gather. Some are reluctant to commit amid fast-changing conditions, leaving airlines and other travel companies to react to last-minute changes,” by Tribune’s Lauren Zumbach.
… Though the airport is still crowded, reports NBC/5. “Large crowds and long lines were seen at O’Hare International Airport Friday as travelers prepared to depart Chicago ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.”
— Column: This Thanksgiving might be like no other, but we’ve had worse, and I’m still thankful: “I’ll miss my sister-in-law’s slow-cooked green beans and potatoes, my son-in-law’s sweet potato pie and my neighbor’s apple pie. But we’re still here. That’s worthy of thanks,” writes Sun-Times’ Mary Mitchell.
— Thanksgiving gives restaurants an opportunity as they dight to keep float: “Ordering a holiday meal is a way to support struggling restaurants,” by Eater’s Ashok Selvam.
— Comptroller’s office distributes turkeys in Cairo: “The Comptroller’s office distributed 160 turkeys and canned goods to those identified as ‘in need.’ ‘This donation means there’s still charity in the world,’ said resident Derek Eurales. ‘It means that whenever you need something, it’s good for people to have a place to go and get food from,’” via WSIL TV.
— Evanston mayor’s race heats up: Lori Keenan, an independent business owner and 22-year resident of Evanston, is putting her hat in the ring to run for mayor of Evanston. “Keenan is running to bring more accountability, transparency and true representation to the varied voices and concerns that affect the everyday lives of Evanston residents,” her campaign said in a statement. Keenan joins former state Sen. Daniel Biss, who officially announced his run last week.
— In rare feat, Evanston teen expected to break birding record: “Isoo O’Brien, 17, is expected to break the Cook County record for individual bird species spotted in a year, clocking 282 species by the end of October. With a little more than a month left before 2021, O’Brien is still working to check off a few final species in the hopes that his record holds for years to come. Topping the record was a big deal for O’Brien, and for other birders, who banded together to offer tips so O’Brien could drive — or sometimes sprint — to a yet unseen bird,” by Tribune’s Morgan Greene.
— Bartlett High School teacher fired after accusations of inappropriate relationships with 3 students: “But a Freedom of Information request filed by the Daily Herald led to the release Friday of a Notice of Charges and Bill of Particulars which detailed 20 professional charges against Lorber relating to his conduct with the three students. The document details a gradual progression from notes and attention, to gifts, and eventually in two cases paid trips to New York,” by Daily Herald’s Eric Peterson.
— Body found at Oakwood Beach identified as former high school basketball player reported missing from Riverdale: “Davane Gross, 22, was found about 7:20 a.m. Saturday in the 4100 block of South Lake Shore Drive, near Oakwood Beach, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office,” by Sun-Times’ Jermaine Nolen.
Why you should care about who wins this key county post: “More than two weeks after Election Day, the race for an obscure Cook County office remains uncalled. At issue is who will hold the seat of a mostly suburban district on the Cook County Board of Review, the agency that property owners appeal to when they don’t like proposed tax valuations set by Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi. The seat is now held by Dan Patlak, one of only three Republicans to hold any county office at all. Patlak is trailing Democratic challenger Tammy Wendt.” She has handled plenty of property cases in her career though she’s more recently known for representing Jason Van Dyke, the former Chicago Police officer convicted in the murder of Laquan Mcdonald, by Crain’s Greg Hinz.
— Supreme Court strikes down city’s policy on police citations: “The state’s highest court has struck down a southern Illinois city’s policy that partly evaluates police officers on the number of citations officers issue, finding it violates an Illinois law prohibiting ticket quotas. Thursday, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of the labor union that represents police officers in the Randolph County city of Sparta,” by Canton Daily Ledger’s Sarah Mansur.
— Probation, mental health treatment for man who threatened congressman: “A Sangamon County man who admitted he left a threatening phone message for U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, about a year ago has been sentenced to two years of probation,” by News-Gazette’s Mary Schenk.
— Former Portage official pleads guilty to conflict of interest charge, agrees to $56K restitution: “Former Portage Clerk-Treasurer Christopher Stidham was charged in late February with official misconduct, also a felony, for allegedly hiring his then-girlfriend, whom he later married, as a contractor for bookkeeping and other services for the city that were never provided,” by Post-Tribune’s Amy Lavalley.
— Kyle Rittenhouse, charged with killing 2 protesters, poses with ‘Silver Spoons’ actor after posting bond: “Hours after being released, L. Lin Wood of Atlanta, who is a member of Kyle Rittenhouse’s defense team, tweeted a photo of Rittenhouse, Ricky Schroder and attorney John Pierce, under a title of “FREE AT LAST!!!” by the AP.
Merrick Garland among Biden candidates for Attorney General, sources say: “Garland, 68, is the widely respected former chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [and a Chicago native]. He launched his career at the Justice Department decades ago. Garland oversaw the prosecution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and gained significant management experience inside the sprawling department in the 1990s. More recently, Garland was nominated to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court by President Barack Obama, to fill the seat vacated by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia,” by NPR’s Carrie Johnson.
— Biden will nominate Antony Blinken as secretary of State, by POLITICO’s Natasha Korecki, Natasha Bertrand and Nahal Toosi
— Republicans dash to defend perilous 2022 Senate map, by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett and John Bresnahan
— Trump campaign cuts Sidney Powell from president’s legal team, by POLITICO’s Kyle Cheney
— She’s known as Captain Kelly — one of the few women at the helm of a yacht in Chicago: “Kelly Gordon and her first mate, Gianna Mesi, want to take the scare factor out of boating for young women in Chicago,” by Sun-Times’ Mitch Dudek.
— Cell phone pioneer donates $20M to Illinois Tech: “The Illinois Institute of Technology landed a $20 million gift from cellphone pioneer and alum Marty Cooper and his wife as part of a $500 million fundraising campaign,” Crain’s Lynne Marek reports.
— Dick Callahan, who joked he spent 30 years at the Cook County Jail (as a plumber), dead at 96: “He learned Polish from the nuns at St. Stephen’s grade school and from his Polish American mom. That helped him as a GI serving in Europe in World War II,” by Sun-Times’ Maureen O’Donnell.
— Bishop Willie James Campbell, ministered to South Side congregation half a century, dead at 75: “He headed St. James Church of God in Christ, was a familiar voice on weekend gospel radio shows and presided at the funeral for 11-year-old Robert ‘Yummy’ Sandifer,” by Sun-Times’ Maureen O’Donnell.
FRIDAY’s GUESS: Congrats to Stephen Brokaw, a Salesforce exec and alum of Pete Buttigieg’s and Barack Obama presidential campaigns, who correctly said that Robert Kennicott submitted 282 specimens of birds, 230 mammals, 151 fish, and countless plants, insects, and reptiles to the Smithsonian before dying mysteriously on an Alaskan expedition. The Kennicott family home, "The Grove," is a National Historic Landmark in Glenview.
TODAY’S QUESTION: Name the mascot of the Illinois university founded by the close friend of a U.S. president (and this founder was also the great-grandfather of another presidential nominee)? Email your answer to [email protected].
Today: Rep. Bobby Rush, Rep. Sean Casten, Democrataic organizer Matthew Farrauto, Cook County State’s Attorney policy advisor Kristina Kaupa, and Republican strategist Patrick Pfingsten.
Celebrated Sunday: Cook County Circuit Court Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke, Illinois Cannabis Business Association executive director Pam Althoff, and Metropolitan Family Services marketing coordinator Bridget Hatch.
November 23, 2020 at 07:50AM