Happy Tuesday, Illinois. Today marks another step closer to a new administration. It’s the safe harbor deadline, which requires Congress to recognize the slates of electors chosen by states that have resolved election disputes.
Illinois politicians are defying efforts to control the latest surge of the coronavirus, and Gov. J.B. Pritzker wants it to stop, saying it’s the height of hypocrisy that elected officials would thumb their noses at mitigation while the rest of the state works to follow the rules.
Democratic Ald. Tom Tunney, a Chicago restaurant owner, has allowed some of his regular customers to dine indoors at his Ann Sather Restaurant, even though city and state rules forbid it.
And state Rep. Brad Halbrook, a Republican from Shelbyville, held an indoor holiday party a few days ago with more than 100 guests, including other elected officials. Photos posted on Facebook by state Republican Rep. Darren Bailey showed guests huddled close to each other talking without masks.
During his Monday Covid-19 briefing, Pritzker expressed disappointment in Tunney, who acknowledged he “made a mistake.” The governor was less forgiving of Halbrook, saying: “Shame on him for having people in a room packed together not wearing a mask. He knows better. He should know better. If he doesn’t, maybe he shouldn’t be in the General Assembly.”
Halbrook told the conservative Center Square the gathering was meant “to celebrate Christmas” and that “the Constitution protects us from a tyrannical government.” He and Tunney aren’t the first elected officials to act in defiance of Covid restrictions.
Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico also followed the “do as I say, not as I do” rule. He recently traveled to Florida for a wedding with more than 50 people, and folks didn’t wear masks.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom was caught dining recently at the famed French Laundry restaurant at the same time he was trying to discourage households from gathering for the holidays.
And the White House isn’t the only one flouting rules for wearing masks. “Some corners of the GOP, including members of Congress, are refusing to let the coronavirus intrude on their holiday gatherings and in-person fundraisers — whether it’s on the slopes of Utah or in the steakhouses of Washington,” report POLITICO’s Sarah Ferris, Melanie Zanona and Daniel Lippman.
All those revelations come as elected officials nationwide try to bend the curve of the pandemic, urging the public to stay home. In Illinois, that includes not dining at restaurants, not gathering with more than 10 people, and not leaving the state.
Pritzker has said he doesn’t want to resort to a stay-at-home order like the one enforced earlier in the year, but the possibility always looms.
Still, the public is fatigued and not looking to forgive elected officials who change the rules for themselves.
"When politicians are acting in ways that look inconsistent with their policies, people don’t have a lot of patience anymore,” Jack Pitney, a former operative for the Republican National Committee, told my California Playbook counterpart, Carla Marinucci, after Newsom’s controversial soiree. “It’s a reminder that these days the personal is political.”
All eyes are now on the vaccines and how they will be distributed.
Margaret Keenan became the first patient in world to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. Keenan is a 90-year-old woman from Northern Ireland, writes POLITICO’s Laurenz Gehrke.
In the United States, there’s concern that the White House took a pass when it was first offered an opportunity to buy 100 million doses of the vaccine from Pfizer months ago, according to a scoop in the New York Times. Given that people need two doses, that would have been enough for 50 million people. “But the administration, according to people familiar with the talks, never made the deal, a choice that now raises questions about whether the United States allowed other countries to take its place in line,” according to the Times.
In Illinois, there’s worry that the vaccine will further exacerbate “gaping inequality gaps,” writes the Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet.
“The existing disparities in health care — access, quality, affordability — guaranteed low-income Black and Brown communities with high numbers of frontline essential workers would be hit the hardest when coronavirus cases started to climb in the spring,” writes Sweet.
We only have to look at 2004 to understand what happens when there’s a shortage of a vaccine. That year, when the influenza vaccine was in short supply, there was theft, smuggling and, even, doses going to the Chicago Bears instead of the needy, reports the Tribune: “An acute shortage of influenza vaccine gripped the country in the fall of 2004, forcing the elderly to wait in hours long lines for a dose, often without success.
“The scarcity became such a hot political issue that both President George W. Bush and his election challenger, John Kerry, forswore flu shots until the crisis eased. But even as Illinois flu clinics closed for want of the vaccine, the Bears obtained shots through their prescribing physician and offered them to players — young men in superb physical condition who fell far outside the rationing guidelines established by federal health officials,” writes John Keilman.
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In discussion with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for a virtual fundraiser for the mayor’s LightPAC.
At the Thompson Center for the 2:30 p.m. Covid-19 update. Watch the update live
No official public events.
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Monday reported 90 additional deaths and 8,691 new confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus. That’s a total of 13,343 deaths and 796,264 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from Nov. 30 through Dec. 6 is 10.3 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 13.4 percent.
— Pritzker says next 4 weeks could be ‘the most crucial month of this entire pandemic’: “Illinois is entering what could be “the most crucial month of this entire pandemic,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday, a period bookended by Thanksgiving and a string of December holidays traditionally marked by gatherings that carry the risk of spreading the coronavirus,” by Tribune’s Jamie Munks.
… Pandemic’s final surge will be brutal: “Over the weekend, the seven-day average of Covid-19 deaths passed the spring’s peak,” writes Whet Moser in the Atlantic.
— Illinois to expand testing of prison workers as inmate deaths, infections surge: “The testing will be rolled out in phases across the state, state officials said. The frequency will depend on the positivity rate of the county where the corrections facility is located but will be at least once a month, they said,” by Tribune’s Christy Gutowski.
— VETERANS HOME SHAKEUP: Top LaSalle Veterans Home administrator fired after more than 30 Covid-19 deaths: “In announcing the shake-up, [Gov. J.B.] Pritzker did not outline any specific examples of malfeasance to justify the personnel moves. But he did note that the prevalence of Covid-19 in LaSalle County, where the home is located, has been “much higher” than the statewide average and has hit three privately-run nursing homes in the county in a more lethal manner,” by WBEZ’s Dave McKinney and Tony Arnold.
— Illinois will start grading its teacher prep programs: “The Illinois State Board of Education gave a preliminary look at its new Educator Preparation Profile on Monday. The report has data from 52 colleges and universities in the state that offer more than 700 approved teacher preparation programs. On average, the programs produce 5,000 teachers every year,” by Chalkbeat Chicago’s Samantha Smylie.
— Poverty Elimination Commission: Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Human Services have launched the Illinois Commission on Poverty Elimination and Economic Security. The commission is tasked with “developing and adopting a strategic plan that will develop anti-poverty programs that ensure long-term, multigenerational economic mobility regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation or identity, ability, or geographic location,” according to a statement from IDHS. The plan will be available in spring 2021.
— Moving to the mall: “White Oaks Mall has a new anchor tenant: the state of Illinois. After purchasing space formerly occupied by Sears for $3.5 million last August, the state now plans to move Illinois Environmental Protection Agency headquarters from North Grand Avenue to the mall. The complex now occupied by IEPA is slated for demolition to make room for expansion of a nearby railroad corridor,” by Illinois Times’ Bruce Rushton.
— Jarrett tapped as interim head of Obama Foundation: Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to former President Barack Obama, was appointed Monday to lead his foundation. “Jarrett takes over as interim president of the Obama Foundation from Wally Adeyemo, whom President-elect Joe Biden has chosen to nominate as deputy treasury secretary. Jarrett was previously a senior adviser to the foundation and will remain as president until a permanent replacement is found, the foundation announced,” by Tribune’s Alice Yin.
— City beat: Ald. Gilbert Villegas was elected to the National League of Cities board of directors during the group’s recent 2020 Virtual City Summit. Villegas was elected to a two-year term and will provide “strategic direction and guidance for NLC’s federal advocacy, governance and membership activities,” according to a release announcing his election. NLC represents cities, their elected leaders and municipal staff, and advocates for city priorities in Washington.
— Strong suit: Rod Blagojevich will visit the I Am a Gentleman offices Wednesday to donate suits he wore while governor. IAAG is a Chicago community group that mentors young men and prepares them to enter the workforce. In a statement to Playbook, Blagojevich said: “Preparing both young men and adults to enter or re-enter the workforce is critical — and looking and feeling your best can help. I hope these suits will give these men the confidence they need to excel in the pursuit of their careers. Who knows, maybe one of these young men will go on to become governor someday.”
— Federal judge reminds police to wear masks themselves as union accuses city of holding unsafe training sessions during pandemic: “The pointed reminder from U.S. District Court Judge Robert Dow Jr., who is overseeing sweeping mandated department reforms, came after the Fraternal Order of Police filed a motion alleging the city was violating its own health guidelines. Officers have been put at risk when the Chicago Police Department conducted training sessions that included up to 50 people, the union alleged,” by Tribune’s Annie Sweeney and Jason Meisner.
— As CPS parents face decision day on sending their kids back to school, CTU seeks legal action to stop "arbitrary" reopening plan: “The plan would have students in prekindergarten and moderate to severe special education cluster programs return Jan. 11. Other students in kindergarten through eighth grade who are enrolled in elementary schools would return in a hybrid model Feb. 1. Union leaders on Monday filed a motion for an injunction with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board against what they think are ‘arbitrary’ reopening dates and are accusing CPS officials of ‘manipulating statistics to justify their decision.’ The motion aims to prevent CPS from requiring in-person learning ‘until they have bargained in good faith’ about that decision,” by Tribune’s Hannah Leone.
… Teachers face a new learning curve: simultaneous instruction: “Chicago Public Schools’ gradual reopening plan for early 2021 calls for this same approach of teaching in-person and virtual learners simultaneously, and the teachers union is pushing back, arguing it will shortchange students in both settings. But simultaneous instruction, as it’s called, is fast becoming a fixture of the return to school buildings nationally,” reports Chalkbeat Chicago’s Mila Koumpilova.
— U. of C. study highlights child care barriers in Chicago’s Latino communities: “If I can’t find someone to take care of them, how would I work to provide for them?” by Tribune’s Alison Bowen and Laura Rodriguez Presa.
— Activists call for Mercy Hospital to be saved from closing: “Mercy, the city’s first hospital, announced last summer its plans to close in 2021. Mercy was set to merge with three other South Side hospitals, but that plan fell through due to a lack of state funding. The hospital — which is owned by Trinity Health and was the site of a deadly mass shooting in November 2018 — is located in Bronzeville at 2525 S. Michigan Ave. and serves predominantly Black patients,” by Sun-Times’ Mitch Dudek.
— New Calatrava sculpture drawing eyes along Chicago River: “The sculpture is officially known as ‘Constellation.’ It was completed last month on the riverfront lawn of the River Point office tower, across the Chicago River from Wolf Point, near the Merchandise Mart,” by Sun-Times’ Mitch Dudek.
— Opinion: Why Chicago should start a public bank: “Arresting poverty, inequality and the racial wealth gap requires this genuinely transformational tool,” write Ald. Daniel La Spata, Ald. Matt Martin, state Sen. Robert Peters, and former Ald. Ameya Pawar.
— KIM FOXX SWORN IN: “During a virtual ceremony in her downtown office, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx touched on the sharp rise in gun violence amid a pandemic, and the fight for racial justice in the wake of police killings across America. She said her second term will address the crises by prioritizing issues involving substance abuse and mental health as well as the office’s gun crimes strategies unit and initiatives to divert people from the criminal justice system,” by Tribune’s Alice Yin.
… In an op-ed, Foxx writes: To tackle violence, it is vital that we reckon with race.
— $7M in federal coronavirus relief funding to go toward Cook County’s in-demand cash assistance program: “Cook County officials on Monday reopened a cash assistance program for people who have lost wages or otherwise suffered financially after demand for the one-time $600 payment far exceeded expectations during the ongoing pandemic-induced recession. From Monday to Friday of this week, suburban residents can once again apply for the county’s Covid-19 Resident Cash Assistance Program, which will directly transfer $600 to those who are eligible,” by Tribune’s Alice Yin.
— Aww: Cook County Commissioner Sean Morrison kicks off his Holiday Pet Supplies Drive today to support P.A.W.S. of Tinley Park. The donation drive will started December 4 and will run through December 18. Residents are asked to donate select dog and cat items to help support the shelter animals.
— Video shows shootout in killing of retired firefighter during Morgan Park carjacking attempt: “You can see how horrific a crime this was, and we’re trying to bring these offenders to justice and give the family some peace in this as well,” said Chicago Police Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan on Monday. Sun-Times’ Emmanuel Camarillo reports.
— Judge orders Sony to give $1.5M in royalties to R. Kelly’s former landlord: “Earlier this year, Kelly’s former landlord — a Wisconsin-based property management company — secured a $3.5 million judgment against the singer to cover unpaid rent and repair costs at the studio space at 219 N. Justine St. [in Chicago],” by Sun-Times’ Sam Charles.
— Is this proposed pot shop too close to a Catholic school? Parents say Michigan Ave. location is the ‘worst possible spot’: “The Zoning Board of Appeals is slated to rule Dec. 18 on the fate of the planned pot store in the South Loop that is just beyond the city-mandated 500-foot buffer from Old St. Mary’s School,” Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba reports.
— Cannabis tax revenue closes in on booze: “The Illinois Department of Revenue posted a record $22.9 million in taxes from recreational marijuana in November, following in the footsteps of the record $75.3 million in sales from October, as collections typically lag a month behind sales. With the increase from the previous month’s record of $21 million, the state approached $150 million in revenue generated in the first 11 months of legalization, with another month to go to complete the year. Legal weed came within $3 million of the revenue generated from liquor taxes, as the state collected $25.7 million from booze sales in November,” by One Illinois’ Ted Cox.
— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Illinois Institute of Technology President Alan W. Cramb has decided to retire as president at the end of May 2021. Cramb announces his retirement and succession plan as the university continues its $500 million fundraising campaign. “We are about to begin the public phase of our $500 million campaign, after raising $300 million in the quiet phase. Our strategic plan is well developed and ready for implementation. However, our campaign and the strategic plan will take at least five more years to complete due to the effects of the pandemic and other external factors. As I reflected on this reality, I realized that the university needs a leader who can commit to this time frame,” Cramb said in a statement. “I am sure that this is the right time and the right decision for myself and the university.”
— Contract for UI Springfield interim chancellor to be extended: “The university announced Monday that Karen Whitney will have her contract extended until June 2022,” reports NPR Illinois’ Sean Crawford.
— Q&A: Rep. Rodney Davis on Trump’s denial of election loss: “He has every right to make sure that every legal challenge that he and his team want to mount is made. … I fully anticipate based upon the results, the Electoral College will choose Joe Biden as the next president,” by NPR Illinois’ Ryan Denham.
— Duckworth committee work: Coast Guard backs nominees amid concerns over tweets, leadership: “The committee sidelined the promotions in May over concerns regarding the officers’ social media posts and leadership decisions,” by POLITICO’s Sarah Cammarata
— Biden picks retired general Lloyd Austin to run Pentagon, by POLITICO’s Lara Seligman, Tyler Pager, Connor O’Brien and Natasha Bertrand
— Trump blows a hole in the GOP on his way out, by POLITICO’s David Siders
— Trump’s health nemesis gets a new starring role: Reversing Trump’s policies, by POLITICO’s Alice Miranda Ollstein
— So can Trump actually pardon himself? POLITICO’s Eugene Daniels examines the idea in this video
— Trump ratchets up pace of executions before Biden inaugural, by AP’s Michael Tarm and Michael Balsamo in Chicago
— Stuart Scott was a champion for ending cancer in Black communities, by The Undefeated’s Kelley D. Evans
— Rachel Hoge has been named VP at APS & Associates, a Black-owned public affairs firm in Chicago. Hoge previously worked in fundraising for the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. She later started her firm with clients including Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, former Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers, the Special Olympics International’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, the Gun Violence Prevention PAC, and Cook County Commissioner Bill Lowry, among others.
— Jordan Powell will join the Illinois Health and Hospital Association as senior vice president of health policy and finance starting Dec. 14. Powell will be responsible for providing analytical leadership on strategic policy, payment system, health equity and health care reform issues affecting hospitals and health systems, according to IHA. Powell is currently president and CEO of the Illinois Primary Health Care Association. h/t Springfield Business Journal
— Marna Goldwin is now CEO of The ARK, a social service and safety net organization focused on the health and well-being of metropolitan Chicago’s Jewish community. Goldwin was previously chief advancement officer at the Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School.
— Darrius Atkins is joining Mayer Brown LLP’s Government Transactions practice and the Public Policy, Regulatory & Political Law practice at Mayer Brown LLP. Atkins is a North Lawndale native and University of Chicago Law School graduate who most recently worked as an associate at Jones Day.
Mike Kramer, president of Law Bulletin Media, remembered for his dedication: Mike Kramer, the president of Law Bulletin Media, died Monday at home surrounded by his family after a battle with T-cell lymphoma. Kramer, 69, spent his life in the news publishing business and joined the Law Bulletin in 1997, rising to publisher of this newspaper in 2007 and as company president in 2015….The Kramer name was long associated with newspapers in central Illinois. Mike’s grandfather operated papers in Warsaw, Ill. and Dallas City, Ill., and Mike’s father and uncle expanded the family empire to include the Gibson City Courier, the Piatt County Journal-Republican and eight other smaller weekly papers,” by the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin’s Marc Karlinsky and John McNally.
MONDAY’s GUESS: Congrats to Anthony Scalise, chief of staff for Cook County Commissioner John P. Daley, for correctly answering that Velika Gospa, the Croation celebration of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, brings thousands of guests — and politicos — to Bridgeport each year in August.
TODAY’S QUESTION: Who was the elected official from Chicago who hosted President Jimmy Carter for an overnight in their home? Email your answer to [email protected].
Nick Colvin, a Michigan attorney and former legal adviser to Chicago’s treasurer; Curtis Franklin, Assistant Sergeant-at-Arms for Chicago’s City Council; and Publicis Groupe’s Chief Inclusion Experience Officer Renetta McCann.
December 8, 2020 at 07:38AM