Happy Thursday, Illinois. Relax Democrats, says POLITICO’s John F. Harris, a Trump comeback in 2024 is not going to happen.
The Illinois House Legislative Black Caucus announced late Wednesday night that it’s sticking with Michael Madigan as speaker, even as he struggles to hold onto a majority of members in the wake of concerns about his connection to a corruption scandal.
Madigan hasn’t been charged, but the looming scandal has touched people in his orbit and in turn been a distraction, some members of the full House have said, putting his position as speaker in jeopardy.
The Black Caucus disagrees, saying it reached its collective decision after hearing Madigan make his case at a Dec. 5 candidate forum. Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, another speaker candidate, also spoke. “After analysis, we believe our caucus is in a more advantageous position under the leadership of Speaker Madigan to deliver on our priorities,” the Black Caucus said in a statement. “We have a daunting task ahead of us to repair harm done to black communities because of long standing systemic disinvestment, the challenges stemming from Covid-19 and of course the underlying reasons why it is important to pass the Black Caucus’ Policy Agenda.” That agenda includes criminal justice and police reforms, education and workforce development improvements and better access to health care.
The caucus sees Madigan as the best person to carry out those pillars, saying he “will provide strong, consistent leadership and support for the challenges ahead.”
Rep. Carol Ammons (D-Urbana) also suggested it’s a matter of loyalty. “He’s helped [my] district” on university- and hospital-funding issues, she told the News-Gazette’s Jim Dey.
The Black Caucus has 22 members and only one, Rep. Maurice West, has said he won’t vote for Madigan on Jan. 13, when lawmakers are required by the state Constitution to meet and elect a speaker.
Madigan for now remains six votes short. The question is whether the Black Caucus’ support will motivate others to back him after all. What’s clear is that the next House speaker can’t win without the Black Caucus’ vote.
By the time the holidays roll around, thousands of Illinois health care professionals and residents of long-term care facilities will be vaccinated for the coronavirus in what Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Gov. J.B. Pritzker say will be a months-long effort to immunize every Chicago adult against the disease.
Joyful as the news was, it came as coronavirus continued to rage, killing more Americans on Wednesday than were killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“Even with all the well-deserved excitement around a vaccine right now, it will be months before vaccines are available to the general public,” Pritzker said Wednesday during his daily Covid-19 update. “So it’s incredibly important that we do everything in our power to temper the spread of this virus in the coming weeks and months.” And Lightfoot, during a detailed briefing about the Chicago rollout of the vaccine, stressed the need for us to keep wearing masks.
Still, the good vax news had us cheering.
The coronavirus vaccine could be approved this week and as many as 23,000 doses could be sent to Chicago next week.
This now brings a new, humongous logistical challenge. Chicago alone hopes to get 100,000 to 150,000 doses this month, and doses will continue arriving until, hopefully, every Chicago adult is vaccinated during 2021 — for free.
“We are excited about this, we are very ready for the vaccine as it comes,” Chicago Health Department Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said.
The first shipment will be dispersed to 34 Chicago hospitals for health care workers who treat Covid-19 patients or are at high-risk of the coronavirus. Residents and employees at long-term care facilities will be next in line.
DuPage County expects to receive and start administering 13,000 Covid vaccines next week, according to Naperville Sun’s Rafael Guerrero.
There’s still an open discussion about how to distribute the vaccine after that — most likely looking at residents older than 65 and those who are at risk because of medical conditions coming next. Vaccines for children could come later in 2021.
The vaccine requires two shots within a month of each other, a significant hurdle on its own, and Pritzker said the state has been assured there will be enough dosages for every person who gets the first shot to also receive the second.
Lightfoot said Chicago is focused on equitable access, so mass vaccination sites will open on some college campuses in the city. Most vaccines will be given at doctors’ offices, pharmacies, hospitals and health centers.
All this being said: there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
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At the Thompson Center for the 2:30 p.m. Covid-19 update. Watch the update live
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The Illinois Department of Public Health on Wednesday reported 179 deaths and 8,256 new confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus. That’s a total of 13,666 deaths and 812,430 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from Dec. 2 through 8 is 9.6 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 13.1 percent.
— Chicago health care workers weigh risks, benefits of being first for Covid-19 vaccine: “A national poll conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the fall showed about 63% of health care workers are ready to be vaccinated. Still, like many in the general population, some health care workers say they worry about being the first to receive such a quickly developed shot. Many medical professionals WBEZ spoke with said that while they understand the concerns, it’s important for health care workers to roll up their sleeves as soon as possible,” by WBEZ’s Becky Vevea.
… What you need to know about Chicago’s Covid-19 vaccine distribution plan, by WBEZ’s Becky Vevea.
— ‘Indiana is on fire’: Gov. Eric Holcomb orders hospitals to cancel, delay elective surgeries as Covid-19 overwhelms health care system, by Tribune’s Meredith Colias-Pete
— Restaurant owners urging Pritzker to allow 20 percent capacity indoor dining by mid-January, by WGN/9’s Gaynor Hall.
— Illinois Supreme Court to hear suit challenging $14B of state general obligation bonds: “Illinois Policy Institute chief executive officer John Tillman originally filed the litigation seeking approval to move forward with a taxpayer action on July 1, 2019. He wants to block repayment of the state’s $10 billion 2003 GO pension obligation issue and $6 billion 2017 GO bill backlog borrowing, of which $14.3 billion is outstanding,” writes Bond Buyer’s Yvette Shields.
— Illinois among states, feds filing antitrust lawsuits demanding demanding breakup of Facebook: “The twin lawsuits, including one from the Federal Trade Commission, come a month and a half after the Justice Department and a smaller coalition of states sued Google,” by POLITICO’s Leah Nylen.
MELLODY HOBSON has been named board chair of Starbucks, making her one of the highest-profile Black directors in corporate America and one of the most powerful women in the country.
Hobson, who is co-chief executive officer of Ariel Investments, replaces Myron Ullman, who’s retiring. The transition happens in March.
Hobson has been named frequently as a possible candidate to work in the Biden administration. While that still could be the case, it may be less likely given this new role.
Hobson has been vice chair of Starbucks since 2018, when Howard Schultz, the longtime chairman stepped down — and went on to consider a run for president. Hobson and Schultz headlined an event last year in Chicago.
“Over nearly two decades, I have seen the company continue to elevate and transform its business — adapting to various market environments and evolving consumer trends,” Hobson said in a statement. “I look forward to working with the board and talented leadership team on accelerating our strategy, supporting our valued partners, and continuing to create significant value for all of our stakeholders.”
— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Richard Goldberg is being recruited by some members of the Illinois GOP to become party chairman, according to a source close to the selection process. The position opened up over the weekend when Chairman Tim Schneider announced he was stepping down after six years. Goldberg most recently served as a director with the White House National Security Council and before that was chief of staff for former Gov. Bruce Rauner and deputy chief of staff to former Sen. Mark Kirk.
… Goldberg, who’s also an intelligence officer in the Naval Reserve with the rank of lieutenant commander, is seen as someone who can work across all areas of the Illinois GOP and stand up to Democrats. Goldberg would bring the star power that comes from working for Trump. He also could help rebuild the Republican presence in Lake County, where Kirk resides. The area has moved left with each election cycle in recent years.
— RICHARD UIHLEIN is the money behind The Federalist: Newly revealed tax records show the GOP megadonor and shipping supply billionaire has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the pro-Trump publication, reports the Center for Media and Democracy’s Alex Kotch
— ‘DEAR GOD, STOP THE NONSENSE’: Lightfoot unloads on McConnell over Covid relief: "I don’t know what goes on in that man’s mind," the mayor said of the Senate majority leader. Reporting by your Playbook host.
— Lightfoot-backed plan to let Cubs defer infrastructure payment to city advances: “Chicago aldermen moved a step closer Wednesday to letting the Cubs put off a $250,000 payment for infrastructure work around Wrigley Field. The proposal backed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot allows the team to make the scheduled 2021 ‘CubFund Project’ payment in 2024. It passed the City Council License Committee on Wednesday and will head to the full council next week,” by Tribune’s John Byrne.
— Lightfoot ‘deeply disappointed’ in Tunney after his Ann Sather restaurant breaks pandemic indoor dining rules: “Tunney, whose restaurant is facing up to $10,500 in possible fines from the city, ‘knows that he did wrong’ and ‘will absolutely be held accountable,’ Lightfoot said Wednesday,” by Tribune’s Gregory Pratt.
— With a reopening date set, will Chicago teachers come?: “The answer depends on how many individual teachers request health accommodations or unpaid leave. It also hinges on the outcome of the increasingly tense relationship between the school district and the city’s teachers union,” reports Chalkbeat Chicago’s Yana Kunichoff.
— DEEP DIVE: As Covid-19 devastates their community, can 17 second-graders and their teacher make up what the pandemic took away? WBEZ’s Sarah Karp reports
— $8M donation to U. of C. Medicine aims to improve health care in Black communities: “AbbVie’s donation will help expand the University of Chicago Medicine’s Urban Health Initiative, recruit more employees and give $250,000 in grants to other community groups,” by Sun-Times’ Manny Ramos.
— Snow coming, and some light: “It will be a soggy, possibly snowy weekend in Chicago. But first, there’s an opportunity to see the northern lights in northern Illinois,” writes Tribune’s Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas.
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Chicago Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin has hired three government veterans as part of a pivot made last month when she parted ways with former staffers.
Jonathan Johnson becomes deputy city treasurer and chief of staff. He previously worked with the Department of Aviation, where he oversaw finances, budgets and compliance issues for both airports. Before that, he was finance director for the Chicago Police Department, overseeing a $1.5 billion corporate budget.
Joseph Ponsetto will be assistant city treasurer, head of Intergovernmental and Legal Affairs Division. He previously worked for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. Though many may know him for his time on the basketball court — he played for DePaul University.
Robye Scott will assume the role of assistant city treasurer, head of Economic Development and Diversity and Inclusion. She previously worked for World Business Chicago as manager for Workforce Strategic Initiatives.
Last month, Conyears-Ervin fired four employees, saying she was moving the office in a different direction. Former chief of staff Tiffany Harper filed a whistleblower complaint with the Department of Ethics, claiming she was fired “without cause or reason.” It’s a point Conyears-Ervin denies.
— INVESTIGATION: Thousands of languishing vacant and abandoned properties with unpaid taxes harm Black neighborhoods and suburbs. Cook County treasurer says program aimed at fixing the problem is not working, by Tribune’s Hal Dardick.
— Tenants’ advocates, real estate industry gear up for clash over proposed Cook County residential tenant, landlord ordinance: “The proposal, dubbed the Residential Tenant Landlord Ordinance, brought by county commissioners Scott Britton and Kevin Morrison, would cement heightened landlord regulations throughout the suburbs, where about 245,000 households are renters not covered by such codes that only exist in three cities in the county: Chicago, Evanston and Mount Prospect,” by Tribune’s Alice Yin.
— Cook County to fight opioid deaths by giving anti-overdose medication to police and other first responders: “Last year, Cook County saw 1,277 opioid deaths, making it the ‘deadliest year for opioid overdoses the county had ever seen — until now,’ said Dr. Ponni Arunkumar, the county’s medical examiner,” by Sun-Times’ Rachel Hinton.
— Indiana man charged with murder in death of Evanston attorney Daniel Murray: “Daniel Murray, a former federal prosecutor and trial attorney remembered by colleagues and friends as a “luminously decent fellow,” died Nov. 27. His death came weeks after he was seriously injured in a seemingly random attack near his Evanston home….On Wednesday, Cory Gilmartin, 34, of Mishawaka, Ind., was formally charged with first-degree murder. Prior to Murray’s death, Gilmartin was already in custody on charges related to the Nov. 10 attack, including attempted murder and aggravated battery, according to court records,” by Tribune’s Genevieve Bookwalter.
— Jury convicts Illinois man of masterminding 2017 Minnesota mosque bombing on all 5 counts, by Mohamed Ibrahim of Report for America
— Democrats vote to let Durbin lead Judiciary while remaining whip: In a secret-ballot vote held Wednesday, senators approved a caucus rule change from Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) that would let the whip also hold one gavel at a time; that means Durbin can serve in both positions, though he will be required to relinquish the top spot on an appropriations subcommittee, something he had already said that he would be willing to do, by POLITICO’s Marianne LeVine.
— Duckworth’s view on whether to confirm Lloyd Austin: “Austin’s confirmation [as Defense secretary] is shaping up to be a tricky one for Biden, as several members of Congress who voted against the waiver for Mattis have said they would do so again. ‘This principle is bigger than any single individual and I’m going to stick by it,’ Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who is against granting Austin a waiver but thinks there is sufficient support for him to be confirmed, said Tuesday on MSNBC. ‘I will support Gen. Austin, but I will not support the waiver,’” by POLITICO’s Nick Niedzwiadek
— Justice Department’s interest in Hunter Biden covered more than taxes, by POLITICO’s Ben Schreckinger
— How Biden aims to Covid-proof his administration, by POLITICO’s Alice Miranda Ollstein and Daniel Lippman
— Black Lives Matter power grab sets off internal revolt, by POLITICO’s Maya King
Tonight at 6:30 p.m. A virtual variety show benefits the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. The event is free but donation is suggested.
Bitter irony: There are no reminders about masks, social distancing or limited occupancy for the Friday funeral of former Sen. Martin Sandoval, who died of Covid-19. The service will be in St. Philomena Church on Pulaski Road.
Today marks the 10-year anniversary that Arnold Randall has served as the general superintendent of the Forest Preserves of Cook County.
WEDNESDAY’s GUESS: Congrats to Robert Thies, news director at River Radio of Southern Illinois, for correctly answering that upon Mayor Anton Cermak’s death — by an assassin’s bullet (likely) meant for President Franklin D. Roosevelt — the Tribune reported his last words as: “I’m glad it was me, not you.” But scholars say the quote was made up (fake news!).
TODAY’S QUESTION: Which Academy Award-winning movie was set in the Deep South but filmed primarily in southern Illinois due to concerns about the safety of the integrated cast and crew? Email your answer to [email protected].
State Sen. Jacqueline “Jacqui” Collins, Ald. Felix Cardona Jr., former Congressman Luis Gutiérrez, Chocolate Uplift founder Valerie Beck, and former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
December 10, 2020 at 07:50AM