Good Tuesday morning, Illinois. The Trump administration took some baby steps Monday and granted the federal government permission to begin the transition process to President-elect Joe Biden.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: Illinois Playbook will not publish on Thanksgiving Day or Friday. We’ll be back on our normal schedule Monday.
Springfield insiders say Michael Madigan understands he doesn’t have the 60 votes necessary to win the House speakership again if that election were held today. But he also knows no one else does either. So he’s itching for the caucus to meet so he can plead his case for re-election — or why Democrats should get behind someone he might endorse.
The names that have floated about so far are members of Madigan’s leadership team or close allies. But others see opportunity as well. There’s a big moment for the Legislature to change gears in how business is done. That includes more autonomy in handling issues, legislation and committee staff, which all go through Madigan’s office.
Names that are circulating: Rep. Lisa Hernandez from Cicero, Rep. Fred Crespo of Hoffman Estates, Rep. Robert Rita from Blue Island, and Rep. Camille Lilly from Chicago.
Hernandez and Crespo, both assistant majority leaders, are the only Latinos mentioned so far as being interested in the speaker position should it open up. Rita is considered the architect of the state’s gaming legislation. And Lilly has carried health care legislation, including a measure that would raise the smoking age to 21.
As we’ve mentioned here, only Rep. Stephanie Kifowit has officially put her name in the running. Others who are top of mind include Majority Leader Greg Harris, who is an LGBTQ advocate from Chicago and Madigan’s No. 2; Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch of Hillside is Black and heads the powerful Executive Committee; Rep. Jay Hoffman from downstate Swansea is closely aligned with labor; Kelly Burke of Evergreen Park is a former legislative staffer; and Reps. Jehan Gordon-Booth, a Black legislator from Peoria, and Kelly Cassidy from Chicago, who both led House legislation to legalize cannabis in Illinois.
All this is happening at a time lawmakers should be weighing the remap. “No one is thinking about redistricting,” one state rep told Playbook. “It’s a chicken before the egg conundrum.”
And as My Suburban Life’s Scott T. Holland points out, the House can’t proceed in January without choosing a speaker.
Tumult in the city treasurer’s office: An employee fired by Chicago Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin is now claiming whistleblower status, saying she and two other colleagues were let go for refusing to participate in unspecified “illegal and unethical conduct,” according to a scoop by Tribune’s Gregory Pratt.
Conyears-Ervin, a former state lawmaker, denies it, but the issue has already gone to the city’s Ethics Board. “I have no doubt that our terminations are related to our refusal to participate in the illegal and unethical conduct that we discussed with you earlier this fall,” Harper wrote in an email to the board and obtained by The Tribune. “As such, I would like to preserve my right to file a whistleblower complaint with the Board of Ethics as well as request steps for filing such a complaint.”
Harper isn’t returning requests for comment. And Conyears-Ervin defends the firings, saying they are part of broader staff changes in the office.
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Presiding over a virtual meeting of the City Council at 10 a.m. Top topic: the budget.
At the Thompson Center at 2:30 p.m. for the daily Covid-19 update. Watch live
Presiding over a virtual meeting of the Cook County Board at 10 a.m. Top topic: the budget.
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Monday reported 47 additional deaths and 8,322 new confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus disease. That’s a total of 11,552 deaths and 664,620 cases in Illinois. As of Sunday night, 6,171 in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with Covid-19. Of those, 1,206 patients were in the ICU and 635 patients with Covid-19 were on ventilators. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from Nov. 16 through 22 is 10.9 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 13.6 percent.
— Pritzker sees ‘glimmer of hope’ in declining Covid cases and positivity rate, but officials warn not to let guard down: “The state’s top public health official again sounded the alarm about the possibility that recent gains could quickly reverse if people don’t heed the advice of health experts to avoid holiday travel and limit Thanksgiving gatherings to their own households,” by Tribune’s Dan Petrella.
— Will Illinois run out of hospital beds? Available data suggests a grim winter if trends don’t change: “The Pritzker administration released projections from two sets of researchers that estimated the future number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients, including those in intensive care units. These models don’t directly address when beds might run out, but a Tribune analysis of the more pessimistic projections suggests that, if trends don’t improve, all of the state’s currently available ICU beds could be in use by early December. One caveat is that both models assume no changes in people’s behavior, and the researchers expect the state’s new ‘Tier 3’ restrictions will have a positive effect,” by Tribune’s Joe Mahr and Lisa Schencker.
… How hospitals are coping with a surge in Covid-19 cases, by WTTW’s Amanda Vinicky.
— CDC urges overwhelmed contact tracers to prioritize efforts as cases soar: “Given increased demand on contact tracers, CDC advised against contacting infected people who are more than two weeks out from their positive test,” by POLITICO’s Alice Miranda Ollstein.
— Naperville mayor criticized from ‘both ends of political spectrum’ for attending daughter’s Florida wedding, reports Sun-Times’ Rachel Hinton. “That’s precisely what we ask people not to do,” said Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
— More than 212,000 fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits filed in Illinois, sparking concerns about identity theft: “More than 212,000 fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits have been filed with the state since March 1, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security. Of those, 169,506 were filed under a federal program created through the federal coronavirus relief package that extended benefits to self-employed and gig workers. The other 42,496 fraudulent claims were filed under the system for regular state benefits,” reports Tribune’s Abdel Jimenez.
— Workers go on strike at 11 nursing homes in Illinois, demanding higher wages and Covid-19 pandemic hazard pay: “Certified nursing assistants (CNAs), aides, housekeepers and other workers went on strike at 6 a.m. after failing to reach a contract agreement with the owner of Infinity Healthcare Management of Illinois,” by Tribune’s Robert McCoppin.
— State Sen. Sue Rezin denied chance to sit in on hearing about Vets Home Covid outbreak: “Rezin said she is frustrated because this flies in the face of precedent. When an outbreak of Legionnaires disease happened at the Veterans Home in Quincy, the local state senator, Republican Jil Tracy, was permitted to participate even though she’s not a member of the Veterans Committee,” by BCRNews’ Tom Collins.
— THE MAYOR’s PLEA: Why I am asking you to support one of the most painful budgets in Chicago’s history: “If there were a responsible way to close our budget gap that didn’t involve raising taxes or requiring furloughs for employees, we already would have taken it,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot in the Sun-Times.
— City Council set for final vote on 2021 budget plan: “Lightfoot’s spending plan includes a $94 million property tax hike with a provision to raise property taxes annually by an amount tied to the consumer price index. It also includes a 3-cent gas tax hike and relies on an increase in fines and fees collection, including a plan to boost revenue by ticketing residents who are caught going 6 mph over the limit by speed cameras,” by Tribune’s John Byrne and Gregory Pratt.
— City Council caps restaurant delivery fees: “With a two-thirds vote to make it effective immediately, the City Council reined in what critics call “predatory” delivery fees that third-party services charge restaurants. They’d be capped 10 percent or 15 percent, including all fees and commissions,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.
— Ground delivery tax would tack $1.25 onto Amazon orders in Chicago: “An alderman introduced a plan Monday to tax deliveries by companies, such as Amazon, as the City Council also capped fees third-party delivery services charge pandemic-stricken restaurants and teed up Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s 2020 budget for a Tuesday vote. Bridgeport Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson wants to charge an additional $1.25 for packages delivered by ground to addresses in the city that weigh 50 pounds or less, and $2.50 for heavier deliveries. Prescription medicine and food deliveries from restaurants would be exempted from the extra tax under Thompson’s plan,” by Tribune’s John Byrne.
— Lightfoot appoints administrator to lower city’s expenses from police lawsuits, other expenses: “Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has hired an Atlanta risk management expert to be the city’s chief risk officer, a new position aimed at reducing the high cost of police lawsuits and the city’s workers’ compensation program,” by Tribune’s Gregory Pratt.
— Obama, in surprise appearance, gives 105,000 CPS students free digital copies of ‘A Promised Land’: “The 15-minute appearance marked the former president’s latest stop on his busy media blitz to promote the long-awaited, 768-page memoir,” writes Sun-Times’ Nader Issa.
— Belt-tightening state has down payment for tech deal: “The proposed $250 million Discovery Partners Institute will anchor the development site called The 78 on the Near South Side,” by Sun-Times’ David Roeder.
— ‘A story on dark days’: How one Chicago student’s anime club is creating community during a pandemic: “Demaya [Holman] arrived at Englewood STEM this September, unfazed to be the new kid at a new school. She tackled with gusto that all-important transition to high school, made more treacherous by the pandemic’s disruption. Her school, which opened its gleaming $85 million campus in 2019 after deeply contentious school closures, was still at work chipping away at community mistrust and building up its own culture,” writes Chalkbeat Chicago’s Mila Koumpilova.
— Artist hopes mural of 23-year-old killed in June shooting makes others pause before causing harm: “For longtime Chicago artist Tyrue ‘Slang’ Jones, the project was personal. Brandon McGhee, 23, was walking near that wall in June, after a hot summer day spent visiting his mom, when he was shot and killed in one of the most violent weekends Chicago has seen in recent years. McGhee went to the same grammar school as Jones’ kids. McGhee’s mother, LaDonna Lane, was an old family friend,” by Tribune’s Morgan Greene.
— Lyric Opera patrons will return (eventually) to new, wider seats and better sightlines: “In a show of confidence about its future, the company has been replacing every seat and reconfiguring its audience space, and expects to finish the project this week,” by Kyle MacMillan for the Sun-Times.
LOVE HAS NOT BEEN CANCELED: “The pandemic may have put a stop to big weddings, but plenty of local couples are still getting hitched at City Hall. One morning in September, Chicago magazine captured the big day for 10 of them,” by Samantha Yadron and great photos by Ryan Segedi.
— Thanksgiving weather in Chicago: What to expect Thursday and the warmest, coldest, snowiest and wettest since 1872: “You might be wondering: Will I be able to eat my turkey dinner outside? ‘Well, I guess that depends on your tolerance for what’s too chilly,’ said Mark Ratzer, senior forecaster and meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s office in Romeoville.” Tribune’s Kori Rumore reports.
— Chicago high school students raise turkeys, grow vegetables, prepare food for people ahead of Thanksgiving 2020: “Some students at the Chicago High School for Agriculture Sciences helped to cook and deliver food to people’s tables ahead of Thanksgiving,” by ABC/7.
— ‘It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!’ delivers plenty of holiday cheer, virtually: “Despite the Zoom Age obstacles, director Gwendolyn Whiteside makes the show do its job: to entertain and warm hearts,” by Catey Sullivan for the Sun-Times.
Cook County launches legal assistance initiative to help residents facing evictions, foreclosures, unresolved debt: “The Cook County Legal Aid for Housing and Debt (CCLAHD) initiative, announced by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, is the latest effort to help alleviate some of the economic stresses caused by the coronavirus pandemic,” by Sun-Times’ Madeline Kenney.
ANALYSIS: The ComEd scandal shows every Illinoisan the true cost of taxpayer-funded corruption: “More than 4 million homes and businesses — 70 percent of Illinois’ population — have already paid the price for ComEd’s bribery scandal. WBEZ political editor Alex Keefe analyzes how this public corruption scheme has affected your wallet.”
— Cook County courts go virtual after increase in state Covid-19 cases: “The Cook County chief judge entered an order Monday calling for all court matters to be held via videoconference except in “extraordinary or compelling circumstances,” according to the order. The order made by Chief Judge Timothy Evans states that all matters in Cook County court will be conducted by videoconference and all judges and court employees except those “who are performing essential court operations” will work remotely, the order said,” by Tribune’s Paige Fry.
— Elgin woman accused of posting nude photos of husband’s mistress on Facebook: “Ramona Martinez-Ayala discovered the images when she was scrolling through her husband’s Facebook messages on Aug. 20, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said. She is facing one felony count of nonconsensual dissemination of sexual images,” by Sun-Times’ Madeline Kenney.
— Trio of felons posed as police to abduct, rob wealthy suburban victims — including Naperville business owner: feds: “The defendants allegedly disguised themselves as law enforcement with police radios, uniforms, bulletproof vests and ‘DEA’ logos,” by Sun-Times’ David Struett.
From dorms to dating, what it’s like to navigate college during the pandemic, by WBEZ’s Libby Berry and Katherine Nagasawa
DURBIN RAISES HIS HAND: Sen. Dianne Feinstein plans to step down as the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee in the next Congress, according to POLITICO’s Marianne LeVine and Burgess Everett. And Sen. Dick Durbin is next in line for the job. The Illinois Democrat announced his interest last night, saying: "I intend to seek the top Democratic position on the Judiciary Committee in the 117th Congress," Durbin said in a statement. "We have to roll up our sleeves and get to work on undoing the damage of the last four years and protecting fundamental civil and human rights."
— First female intelligence chief has a Chicago connection: “The daughter of an orphan whose mother died when she was young, Avril Haines spent her gap year before college at an elite judo school in Tokyo and repaired car engines while studying theoretical physics at the University of Chicago,” according to POLITICO’s Natasha Bertrand in POLITICO’s Transition Playbook. Haines earned a bachelor’s in physics from the U. of C. and went on to hold positions in the Obama administration, including as White House deputy national security adviser and deputy CIA director.
— Reema Dodin will be appointed deputy director in Biden’s White House Office of Legislative Affairs. She serves as floor director to Sen. Dick Durbin, running the whip operation for the Senate Democratic caucus. She was previously Durbin’s floor counsel, research director and worked as an aide to his Judiciary subcommittee on human rights and the law. She’s from California but earned her law degree from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
— Rahm Emanuel is trending: “Chicago’s former mayor was rumored to be in line for transportation secretary. But there might be another powerful post for him in the new administration,” writes Crain’s Greg Hinz. (pssst: U.S. trade representative)
— ‘People are pissed’: Tensions rise amid scramble for Biden jobs, by POLITICO’s Ryan Lizza
— Trump strips Biden’s options to boost the economy, by POLITICO’s Victoria Guida
— The secretive consulting firm that’s become Biden’s Cabinet in waiting, by POLITICO’s Bryan Bender and Theodoric Meyer
MONDAY’s GUESS: Congrats to Ashvin Lad and Mike McDermott, two longtime Illinois Playbook readers, who correctly guessed that Reggie Redbird is the mascot of Illinois State University, founded by Jesse Fell — a close friend of President Lincoln (and was Adlai Stevenson’s great-grandfather).
TODAY’S QUESTION: What is the name of the steamship that ran aground on a sandbar 450 from shore in Lake Michigan that created what is now known as the Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago? Email your answer to [email protected].
ComEd VP of governmental affairs Michael Fountain, architect Julie Gross, Burling Builders founder Elzie Higginbottom, political consultant John Kamis, Financial Health Network president & CEO Jennifer Tescher, and Women of the Blues Foundation founder Lynn Orman Weiss.
And belated happy birthday to Crystal Yednak, senior manager at PwC Health Research Institute, who celebrated Monday.
November 24, 2020 at 07:49AM