TGIF, Illinois. This Saturday is considered the 87th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition, so cheers to a good weekend.
Don Harmon was elected to a full term as Senate president last night.
“I am honored and humbled to have the support of my colleagues,” Harmon said in a statement released after the vote. “We have a fantastically talented collection of Senate Democrats who are ready to make their mark, solve problems and lead Illinois through an upcoming year that will be filled with both challenges and accomplishments.”
The election comes eleven months after a contentious battle between Harmon and Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford to serve out the remainder of the two-year term held by former Senate President John Cullerton, who retired in January.
Harmon emerged the victor but needed to prove himself before being elected to a full term. He’s since managed a session through a global pandemic, pushed for social-justice legislation, and supported the Senate adopting official rules for online hearings so legislative work could continue.
He also gave Lightford the reins to manage much of the online Senate committee process, including hearings on racial and social justice issues.
On Thursday, she nominated Harmon to keep the Senate gavel, a sign of his ability to unite the caucus.
It stands in stark contrast with tensions breaking out in the House Democratic caucus, where 19 lawmakers say they won’t vote to re-elect House Speaker Michael Madigan next month. The hand-wringing over the speakership has largely paralyzed the chamber.
Republican caucus leaders also saw some infighting. Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady was nudged out by his caucus, replaced by Sen. Dan McConchie. And House Minority Leader Jim Durkin faced, albeit briefly, competition from Rep. Tony McCombie before ultimately holding on to his position.
The Illinois Senate Democratic caucus also net one more seat for the 102nd General Assembly.
Three new Senate Democrats were also welcomed last night: Karina Villa (25th), John Connor (43rd), and Meg Loughran Cappel (49th).
House Speaker Michael Madigan and anyone else wanting to run for House speaker will make their case to the House Black Caucus on Saturday during a “candidate’s forum.”
Madigan, who is trying to keep his gavel, has so far held on to the majority of the 22-member Black caucus’ support. Only Rep. Maurice West has said he won’t support Madigan as speaker.
The Tribune’s Rick Pearson reports “the Black caucus traditionally meets prior to the inauguration of a new legislature to elect a member for the House Democratic leadership team. But one caucus member said privately that the meeting’s role this year was expanded to include the speaker candidate’s forum as a way to provide Madigan with a formidable reelection endorsement.”
The Black caucus’ bloc is important to keeping Madigan in the game, though he’s still short six votes needed for him to hold on as speaker. There are 19 Democratic representatives, out of 73, who say they will vote for someone else for speaker, though they haven’t yet coalesced around another candidate.
State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, the only other Democrat to put her hat in the ring for speaker, will also make her case before the Black caucus.
— Lightfoot says she’s ‘watched with great interest’ the ComEd case, will have more to say later on Madigan, by Tribune’s Gregory Pratt
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No official public events today, but she’s scheduled to speak on “Face the Nation” this Sunday.
At the Thompson Center for the 2:30 p.m. Covid-19 update. Watch live
No official public events.
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Thursday reported 192 deaths and 10,959 new confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus. That’s a total of 12,830 deaths and 759,562 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from Nov. 26 through Dec. 2 is 10.4 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 12 percent.
— MASK ASK: Biden says he will ask Americans to wear masks for the first 100 days he’s in office: “President-elect Joe Biden told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Thursday that he will ask Americans to wear masks for the first 100 days after he takes office, in a sign of how Biden’s approach to the virus will be dramatically different from President Donald Trump’s response. ‘Just 100 days to mask, not forever. One hundred days. And I think we’ll see a significant reduction,’ Biden said for the first time in the interview."
… Also from the interview: Biden has asked Dr. Anthony Fauci to be a chief medical adviser and part of his Covid-19 response team when his administration begins next month.
— Pritzker: Blood, plasma donations desperately needed: “As Illinois continues dealing with its deadliest stretch of the coronavirus pandemic to date, state health officials are calling on residents who have had Covid-19 to consider donating plasma as their antibodies may help those who are actively fighting the disease,” by WTTW’s Matt Masterson.
— Chicago clinics working to build trust with Black patients wary of Covid-19 vaccine: “With a potential vaccine for Covid-19 in the pipeline, low-cost medical clinics in the Chicago region are gearing up for yet another hurdle during the pandemic: convincing wary patients to get immunized. On Thursday, new research from the Pew Research Center showed that overall, Americans are growing more confident about getting a Covid-19 vaccine. But Black adults in particular are hesitant,” by WBEZ’s Kristen Schorsch.
— Experts call for Covid-19 vaccination trials to begin for young children: “Children under 12 years old have not been part of the U.S. trials for vaccines that are showing promising results for inoculating people against the virus, which has infected more than 759,000 people in Illinois and killed more than 12,000 statewide since March. That means that vaccines will likely be available for the general population of adults months before they are available for children because the trials need to be replicated with children as the test subjects, experts said,” by Tribune’s Madeline Buckley.
— 150-person wedding reception at suburban hotel under investigation for violating Covid-19 rules: “Gov. J.B. Pritzker described the event as ‘very irresponsible,’” by Sun-Times’ Stefano Esposito and Mitchell Armentrout.
John Garrido Sr., longtime Chicago cop, dead of Covid-19 after 61 days in a hospital: “Working undercover in narcotics for much of his career, ‘He had more wardrobe changes than Cher,’ according to his son, police Lt. John Garrido Jr.,” by Sun-Times’ Maureen O’Donnell.
SARAH FREY drew a packed house for a virtual book party around “The Growing Season: How I Built a New Life — and Saved an American Farm,” a memoir about pulling her and her family out of rural poverty to build a farming empire in Wayne County.
Frey Farms is the largest pumpkin farm in the nation (though Frey said her company sells more watermelons than anything). Frey’s book is also being made into a TV movie, for which she’s serving as co-executive producer.
Frey, who’s been dubbed the “pumpkin queen,” took questions from a bi-partisan crowd that included U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.
Playbook waited until after the event to ask Frey why she decided not to run for Congress. Readers may recall Frey had considered running for the seat held by retiring Rep. John Shimkus. Republican Mary Miller was elected earlier this month.
“The timing wasn’t ideal,” Frey said in an email. “With the release of ‘The Growing Season,’ the upcoming television series and the expansion of our branded beverage business, I took a temporary pass. I’m glad I listened to my intuition because just a few months after I decided not to run, Covid hit.”
She said it allowed her to focus on family and the business during a difficult time.
“One day I may run for office,” Frey added, saying she “would like to fix” areas that affect business and job creation. “I want to champion causes that are important to working class voters. When the opportunity presents itself, I will consider running for office again.”
Until then, we can watch her story play out on TV.
SPOTTED IN THE ZOOM: state Sen. Sue Rezin, former Comptroller Leslie Munger, CC Industries’ Bill Kunkler, Change Illinois executive director Madeleine Doubek, IRMA’s Rob Karr, Hauswirth Group’s Kevin Hauswirth, C-Strategies CEO Becky Carroll, Will Group’s Jessica Garmon, and broadcast power couple Bill Kurtis and Donna LaPietra.
Lisa Wagner, a national fundraiser, consultant and friend of Frey’s, hosted and moderated. Wagner and Richard Porter, Illinois’ National Republican committeeman, receive shout-outs in Frey’s book.
— Oberweis launches discovery recount after Underwood edges him by 5,374 votes: “We are seeking a discovery recount in each of the seven counties within the 14th Congressional District,” Republican Jim Oberweis said in a statement about his close race with Rep. Lauren Underwood, who has been declared the winner. The first of the recounts have been formally filed in DuPage County, Oberweis said. Depending on the results from a discovery recount, a court challenge to the election results could follow. The discovery recount comes as the State Board of Elections meets today to certify results of the Nov. 3 election.
— Cook County voters cast ballots for judges in historic numbers: “More Cook County voters participated in judicial retention races this year than in any election in the past three decades, according to an Injustice Watch analysis of election data,” by Carlos Ballesteros, Emily Hoerner and Jason Asenso.
— VETS HOME: As Covid-19 deaths mount at LaSalle Veterans’ Home, Kinzinger questions Pritzker’s response: “Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger is demanding answers from Democratic Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker for not accepting federal help for weeks as a fatal Covid-19 outbreak exploded at the state-run LaSalle Veterans’ Home,” by WBEZ’s Dave McKinney and Tony Arnold.
— Illinois has 5,000 pieces of DNA evidence that need to be tested. It’s a huge improvement: “The huge build-up of untested evidence has been a problem for the state for years, delaying justice for victims, stifling investigations and leaving some defendants locked up for years awaiting trial. Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly pledged to fix it early in 2019. Since then, according to new data released by the Illinois State Police, the backlog has been cut in half, with DNA evidence from 4,857 cases awaiting testing at state crime labs as of Nov. 30, 2020, compared to 9,289 pending assignments on March 1, 2019,” by WBEZ’s Patrick Smith.
— Say what?: Cubs TV announcer Len Kasper named radio voice of White Sox on ESPN 1000, by Daily Herald Media Reporter Robert Feder
— CPS will reopen next month even if only a fraction of students opt in — and most teachers will be required to return, CEO says: “Schools CEO Janice Jackson said officials are so convinced that reopening schools is safe, they’re working on a plan to bring back at least some high schools during the second semester in addition to elementary schools and special education programs,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman and Nader Issa.
— Illinois schools are not Covid-19 superspreaders, data shows: “In all, there were 16 schools statewide in the past month that were identified as having experienced an outbreak of the coronavirus, according to state records. “It’s safe to keep schools open,” said Dr. Daniel Johnson of University of Chicago Medical Center,” by Sun-Times’ Nader Issa.
— Children from poorer Chicago areas are still less likely to attend top-performing high schools, despite CPS efforts to even the playing field, new report finds: “Our analysis of applications data finds that Black students are less likely to apply to a high-performance high school compared to their non-Black peers, and this ultimately translates into different rates of enrollment in high-performance schools by student race/ethnicity,” according to the report, which notes similar but smaller differences between students living in neighborhoods with different socioeconomic statuses. Tribune’s Hannah Leone reports
— A Chase grant will give a $7.2M boost for home ownership on city’s South and West sides: “The grant, from JPMorgan Chase, will go to a coalition of seven community organizations to bolster affordable home ownership and to make new homes sprout across vacant lots,” by WBEZ’s Linda Lutton.
— Chance the Rapper says Chicago singer Jeremih is being released from the hospital, according to Variety.
— North Side magic shop hopes online fundraiser does the trick: “Magic Inc. says sales are down 75 percent since the pandemic began,” by Sun-Times’ Mitch Dudek.
— Jazz Singer Kurt Elling goes virtual at The Green Mill, by WTTW’s Evan Garcia.
— Dolton police shooting: video shows man shot by officers had gun, wouldn’t drop it: “The footage, released by the village, shows officers telling Carterris Doty to drop the gun dozens of times. Dolton Mayor Riley Rogers said the video “exonerates” the officers, and he commended them for their restraint,” by Sun-Times’ Manny Ramos.
— Cupich says Our Lady of Guadalupe image will be removed from Des Plaines shrine this year: “In a video message released Thursday, religious leaders, including Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich and the Rev. Esequiel Sanchez, rector of the shrine, urged devotees to celebrate this year’s feast at their homes and discouraged individuals or group pilgrimages from visiting the shrine in Des Plaines from Dec. 11-12, as has been done annually for years. Sanchez said that the emblematic image of the Guadalupana will be removed from the hill of Tepeyac at the shrine and safeguarded in one of the chapels at the site from the evening of Dec. 11 until Dec. 13. The entrances to the shrine site will be blocked, the lights will be turned off and no parking will be available at the shrine starting the night of Dec 11,” by Tribune’s Laura Rodriguez Presa.
— Last call for Fast Eddie: “For the second time in a decade, Vrdolyak is scheduled to go before a federal judge for sentencing, and the question at hand is much the same as it was the first: What’s the right way to deal with an old crook?” by Sun-Times’ Mark Brown.
— Rittenhouse lawyer steps away from criminal case hours after prosecutors allege fundraising effort ‘provides ample opportunity for self-dealing and fraud’: “Los Angeles civil lawyer John M. Pierce has been the public face of the 17-year-old’s defense against a murder charge and other counts in the three months since the teen fatally shot two men and wounded a third during summer protests in Kenosha. He also has been an enthusiastic fundraiser, helping to secure $2 million for his client’s bail,” by Tribune’s Stacy St. Clair and Dan Hinkel.
— Retired firefighter killed while exchanging gunfire with would-be carjackers on Far South Side: police: “Dwain Williams, 65, was on 118th Street when four suspects approached and tried to take his vehicle, officials say,” by Sun-Times’ Emmanuel Camarillo, Sam Kelly, and Tom Schuba.
State Rep. Darren Bailey lashed out at Congressman Adam Kinzinger for criticizing President Donald Trump. Kinzinger had tweeted to the president: “Time to delete your account.” Bailey responded Thursday in a Facebook video, saying: “that’s appalling.” He said Kinzinger “has never been a fan of the president.” (Note: Kinzinger isn’t afraid to call Trump out on Twitter, but he has voted with Trump 93 percent of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight). The political posturing has insiders wondering if we’re seeing a precursor of battles to come as Bailey and Kinzinger have been rumored to be interested in running for governor.
Blistering critique of Rahm Emanuel: “Most African Americans across the country don’t roll out of bed in the morning thinking about Emanuel. But in Chicago, he’s always on Black people’s minds. When a ruthless police officer was caught on dashcam video murdering one of our kids on a Chicago street in 2014, Emanuel kept it hidden for more than a year and even fought in court to prevent it from being released. Despite his denials, many Chicagoans were convinced that he conspired with the police to keep it from us until after he was reelected,” writes Tribune columnist Dahleen Glanton.
Bost named lead Republican on House Veterans’ Affairs Committee: “As a Marine and the father of a Marine, I can think of no greater honor than fighting for America’s veterans as the lead Republican on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. I am grateful for the trust of my Republican colleagues and excited to follow in the footsteps of great leaders like Jeff Miller and Phil Roe,” said Bost. “We will work to implement an aggressive, pro-veteran agenda that builds upon the successes of the MISSION Act, appeals reform, and combating veterans’ suicide. Our veterans have borne the battle in defense of our freedoms, and I view it as my mission to ensure they receive the care and services they deserve,” Boat said in a statement, via WPSD.
— Trump mulls preemptive pardons for up to 20 allies, even as Republicans balk, by POLITICO’s Anita Kumar and Andrew Desiderio
— ‘One of the nuttier things I’ve seen’: MAGA civil war erupts in Georgia, by POLITICO’s Marc Caputo
— Trump’s looming 2024 bid leaves Republicans in a bind, by POLITICO’s Gabby Orr
Jake Hochberg is now legislative director for Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi. Hochberg was previously senior legislative assistant for Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), and is a Rep. Nydia Velázquez alum.
THURSDAY’s GUESS: Congrats to Jason Liechty, a former Cook County Board staffer to Mike Quigley, for correctly answering that this map shows how Republican George Ryan won the governor’s election in 1998.
TODAY’S QUESTION: Which of Chicago’s 77 community areas was created most recently? Email your answer to [email protected].
Today: Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities Rachel Arfa, estate planning attorney Dan Balanoff, political pollster and consultant Rod McCulloch, McDermott Will & Emery’s Sarah Schanz, and master sommelier and host of Check, Please! Alpana Singh.
Saturday: Roseanna Ander, founding executive director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab; Chris Coleman, VP of government relations for Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois; John Daley, the Cook County Board Commissioner and Democratic committeeman; Porter McNeil, the veteran downstate political consultant; University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner; PR pro Dionne Williams; and hospitality exec Brad Young.
Sunday: former Transportation Secretary and congressman Ray LaHood, Bozzuto Property Manager Beth Argaman, Susan G. Komen founder Nancy Brinker, University of Chicago economist Michael Greenstone, PR pro Noreen Heron, and Brandy Renfro, comms director for the Illinois Senate president.
December 4, 2020 at 07:51AM