WHAT THE WOMEN’s CAUCUS WANTS — LIGHTFOOT DONOR’s CPS DEAL — PRICIEST PUBLIC WORKER FIRED

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Good Monday morning, Illinois. Democracy takes center stage today as members of the Electoral College make the decision final — almost anyway.

The Illinois House Democratic Women’s Caucus is looking within its ranks to determine the next speaker of the House.

“I very strongly believe a woman needs to be our speaker,” Rep. Deb Conroy, who heads the group, told Playbook. “We have many strong women who are very capable of being the next leader and I want to make sure women are willing to step up depending on the situation we face.”

Members of the women’s caucus have been meeting informally every Friday for weeks to give “moral support” in wake of the pandemic. Lately, their talks have turned to the speakership. Friday’s discussion focused on the Black Caucus getting a promise of seeing another member in leadership for backing Madigan.

Female lawmakers would welcome the same, but they’re also looking beyond that and trying to identify who could pick up the gavel Madigan has held for close to 38 years.

Conroy says she’s not interested in the top job herself but she’s leading the effort to get women interested in stepping up. Rep. Stephanie Kifowit is running for the position, but it’s not clear she can get to 60 votes without the Black Caucus, where 21 (of 22) members are holding firm to endorse Madigan, at least for now.

There are 37 members in the women’s caucus, and many are among “the 19” who have publicly said they won’t support Madigan for speaker when they gather next month in Springfield to vote on the position.

“The 19,” meanwhile, issued a letter over the weekend that reaffirmed their opposition to re-electing Madigan. Missing from the letter is who they would support instead.

“While we may have come to this place in different ways and for different reasons, we are unified in our belief that our caucus needs new leadership and that we will be voting for a new speaker in the 102nd General Assembly,” the letter stated.

It followed supporters of Madigan writing a “Dear colleague” letter last week asking fellow lawmakers to come together to handle budget concerns, the pandemic, racial inequities and the need for ethics reform.

RELATED:

Also discussed during Friday’s women’s caucus meeting: Planning an election next month for new leadership within the caucus.

The Black Caucus’ complicated relationship with Madigan, by Derrick Blakley for Center for Illinois Politics.

There’s a ‘crazy’ precedent for Dems challenging Madigan, by Sun-Times’ Eric Zorn.

Legislative panel investigating Madigan to meet today, reports Center Square’s Greg Bishop.

BGA, CHALKBEAT SCOOP: How Lightfoot donor landed a CPS deal: A donor to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s campaign was awarded a no-bid deal for used iPads and laptops for Chicago Public Schools as it sought computers for remote learning in wake of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a follow-the-money story by the Better Government Association and Chalkbeat.

Mark Aistrope, the CEO of Chicago-based Meeting Tomorrow, who contributed nearly $30,000 to Lightfoot’s mayoral bid, emailed the mayor in March, saying his company could quickly provide tens of thousands of computers to the school district when it needed them most, according to the story.

The next day, Lightfoot wrote CPS CEO Janice Jackson to put in a good word for Aistrope. “Mark is a really good guy,” Lightfoot wrote atop Aistrope’s email, which she forwarded to Jackson. “I met him during my campaign and he is truly genuine and very generous. If he can help you, he will.”

There’s an unfortunate twist to all this: Some laptops and iPads that Aistrope’s company donated didn’t work for remote learning, report BGA’s Mila Koumpilova and Chalkbeat’s Kiannah Sepeda-Miller.

Have a tip, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? Get in touch: skapos@politico.com

In Springfield to make her Electoral College vote.

At the Thompson Center for the 2:30 p.m. Covid-19 update. Watch the update live

At the Cook County Health Professional Building for an update on how the Covid-19 vaccine will be distributed to suburban Cook County. Watch the update live

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Sunday reported 115 additional deaths and 7,216 new confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus. That’s a total of 14,291 fatalities and 848,904 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from Dec. 6 through 12 is 9.1 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 12.9 percent.

Bipartisan group to offer 2-part coronavirus relief package: “A bipartisan group of senators is expected to introduce a $908 billion coronavirus relief bill as soon as Monday, with a twist: The deal is expected to be split into two pieces, according to two people familiar with the negotiations. One would be a $748 billion piece of coronavirus relief with less controversial items like schools and health care; the other would marry $160 billion in money for local governments with a temporary liability shield,” report POLITICO’s Nolan D. McCaskill and Burgess Everett.

… Sen. Dick Durbin is expected to join the group today when members unveil the bill.

Biden starts countering Trump’s messaging on vaccine: "We’re in the teeth of the crisis right now," the president-elect said while introducing a group of Cabinet nominees and administration picks. "This nation needs presidential leadership right now. … You know, we can wish this away, but we have to face it head on.” POLITICO’s Rachel Roubein and Dan Goldberg report.

— President Donald Trump tweeted late last night that he did not want White House aides to get the vaccine early, as The New York Times scooped Sunday. Trump: “People working in the White House should receive the vaccine somewhat later in the program, unless specifically necessary. I have asked that this adjustment be made. I am not scheduled to take the vaccine, but look forward to doing so at the appropriate time. Thank you!” h/t Playbook’s Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer

Covid-19 vaccine shipments begin in historic U.S. effort: “The first of many freezer-packed Covid-19 vaccine vials made their way to distribution sites across the United States on Sunday, as the nation’s pandemic deaths approached the horrifying new milestone of 300,000. The rollout of the Pfizer vaccine, the first to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, ushers in the biggest vaccination effort in U.S. history — one that health officials hope the American public will embrace, even as some have voiced initial skepticism or worry. Shots are expected to be given to health care workers and nursing home residents beginning Monday,” by The AP.

Illinois activists say vaccine distribution must be more equitable: “Two Chicago aldermen are among those urging the governor and the mayor to build trust with Black and Brown communities. They held a news conference Sunday, a day officials announced 115 more coronavirus deaths in Illinois,” by Sun-Times’ Madeline Kenney.

A reckoning with racism in health care: The challenge of persuading Blacks who remember the Tuskegee Experiment and have grown up in health care deserts, by Sun-Times’ Maudlyne Ihejirika.

As pandemic wears on, nursing home residents make up a smaller share of Illinois deaths: “Over the past five weeks, nursing home residents have accounted for 42.8 percent of the total fatalities, according to a WBEZ analysis of state Department of Public Health data. That’s down from 66.4 percent during a five-week period ending June 19,” reports Chip Mitchell.

What it’s like to take part in a Covid-19 vaccine trial, by Tribune’s Angie Leventis Lourgos

Illinois Electoral College members, including Lightfoot, vote in Springfield for Biden, Harris: “The electors are supposed to take Covid-19 tests in the morning and once in the chamber, wear masks and keep their social distance. That will be easy since the ornate chamber has seats for 118 state representatives. Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White will preside over the Monday session,” by Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet.

The drama doesn’t end today: “The only step that remains after [today] is a Jan. 6 meeting of Congress to count and certify the electoral votes. Trump’s allies in the House are promising to inject some drama into that process by challenging Biden’s win in Congress, but it will likely amount to a filibuster, forcing a daylong debate that delays certification by a matter of hours,” report POLITICO’s Kyle Cheney and Zach Montellaro.

The History Department — Hijacking the Electoral College: Illinois played a part in the plot to deny JFK the presidency 60 years ago: “Republicans suspected voter fraud in 11 states and filed suit in two of them, Texas and Illinois, which Kennedy won by fewer than 9,000 votes. The suit in Illinois charged that the Democratic stronghold of Cook County had dug up Kennedy voters from the cemeteries of Chicago. Judges threw out both suits. So the action moved to the electoral college,” via the Washington Post.

Trump unleashes an army of sore losers: “GOP candidates for House, legislative and gubernatorial races in more than half a dozen states are claiming voter fraud and still refusing to acknowledge defeat,” by POLITICO’s David Siders.

Lamar Alexander: Trump needs to ‘put the country first’ and accept election results: “The Tennessee Republican says a peaceful, orderly transition is vital,” by POLITICO’s David Cohen.

— PRICIEST EMPLOYEE FIRED: The state’s highest paid public employee was fired over the weekend. Lovie Smith, the head coach of the University of Illinois football team, was let go. Smith was earning more than $4.5 million a year, according to the latest numbers (from 2018) listed on the Better Government Association’s salary website. As the Tribune writes: “After five seasons, the Illini still are spinning their wheels, and without seeing significant progress under Smith, the university announced Sunday that it has cut ties with him.”

50 years ago, the constitution updated Illinois; can it do more?: The Illinois Constitution was approved 50 years ago this week. “It loosed chains forged in its 1870 predecessor which limited borrowing and erased state regulation of minutia and archaic industries. Its crown jewel was granting broad home-rule powers to larger cities, letting local residents decide how to administer city hall without Springfield interference,” reports the AP’s John O’Connor.

Judge orders Urbana to release all police reports in Ammons investigation: “Judge Jason Bohm said attorneys for the Illinois State Police and Illinois State Appellate Prosecutor’s office ‘certainly appear to have violated the spirit’ of the code of professional conduct for lawyers by failing to give him information about the timing of an investigation, a key element in the city’s denial of the request for the reports. The ruling came in a case filed March 6 by the Edgar County Watchdogs, who wanted to see Urbana police reports regarding a January incident involving state Rep. Carol Ammons …walking out of the Carle Auxiliary Resale Boutique with an $80 Coach bag for which she had not paid. Ammons called the incident a ‘simple mistake,’” by the News-Gazette’s Mary Schenk.

Violent crime rate doubles on CTA rail system, even with more police and far fewer riders: “Ridership this year on the ‘L’ system has been down 61 percent through September compared with the same period in 2019, according to the CTA. In some months during the spring and summer, it was down more than 85 percent. The number of crimes has dropped, too, but not nearly as much as ridership. That means those left riding the system saw a jump in their odds of becoming a victim to a crime on the ‘L’ or at CTA platforms and stations,” by Tribune’s Kelli Smith and Joe Mahr.

Nearly 900 CTA workers have had Covid-19; 18 of them drove the busy No. 79 or No. 49 bus routes: “The Nos. 4, 8 and 22 each saw 8 drivers infected in the same 6-month period. Thirty-three L operators reported being infected — 11 each worked the Red Line and Blue Line,” by Sun-Times’ By Robert Herguth and Caroline Hurley

Holiday tree isn’t the only thing twinkling in Washington Park: A tree-lighting ceremony was a bright spot on a year marked by the coronavirus pandemic and social upheaval, “but it also represented the evolution of a neighborhood that has banded together through ups and downs,” reports Tribune’s Alice Yin.

Off-duty cop stripped of police powers after Albany Park shooting: “During a confrontation with the occupants of the vehicle, the officer discharged his weapon, striking a man in the hand. The wounded man was taken to Swedish Covenant Hospital and arrested pending further investigation, police said. … The officer has been relieved of his police powers while COPA investigates, police said,” by Tribune’s Deanese Williams-Harris.

Why Biden donated $180K to Chicago’s Jewish federation in 2017: “The president-elect announced he would donate his honorarium from an annual dinner hosted by businessman Lester Crown,” via Jewish Insider.

La Russa expected to plead guilty to reckless driving: “Details of the new White Sox manager’s plea deal with Arizona officials were obtained by the Sun-Times on Sunday. La Russa was arrested in February and accused of driving under the influence,” by Sun-Times’ Jon Seidel.

After years of effort, 4 Civil War vets’ grave sites are marked at Mount Greenwood Cemetery, writes Susan DeGrane in the Daily Southtown.

Operation Santa offers holiday reprieve for families of fallen, wounded Chicago cops: “‘It is absolutely beautiful to know that my family in blue remembers every year,’ said Crystal Garcia, the widow of Samuel Jimenez, a Chicago police officer killed during a shooting rampage at Mercy Hospital in 2018,” by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba.

How a department store became part of Chicago’s Christmas traditions: “From the Walnut Room restaurant to its window displays, Marshall Field’s figured out how to draw in the crowds during the holiday,” reports WBEZ’s Monica Eng.

After 10 years leading Cook County, Preckwinkle focuses on the pandemic, not politics: “In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times about her decade at the helm of the county, Preckwinkle ticked off a list of accomplishments she’s proud of as well as what she still wants to focus on,” by Rachel Hinton.

Rep. Kelly Burke to run for mayor of Evergreen Park: “Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton has announced he will retire when his term ends next spring. And he has given his support to Kelly Burke, who became a village trustee last year, to become the next mayor. Burke has also been the Democratic state representative of the 36th District for the past decade,” by Dermot Connolly for the Reporter Online.

6 more cold-related deaths reported in Cook County: “Eight people have now died of cold-related causes so far this season,” via the Sun-Times.

Carmel, Ind., says early warning system for detection of Covid-19 peaks is now in place: “The city began testing wastewater for signs of coronavirus in May,” by WTHR’s Sarah Jones.

JUDICIAL HELLHOLES: “The American Tort Reform Association placed Cook County, together with the courts in downstate Madison and St. Clair counties, at the No. 8 spot on its annual ‘Judicial Hellholes’ list,” by Cook County Record’s Jonathan Bilyk.

Man charged with murder in March shooting of Amundsen High School student: “Esteban Luvianos, 15, was found in an alley with a gunshot wound to the head about 9:30 p.m. March 16 in the 2000 block of West Farragut Avenue, officials said,” via Sun-Times wire.

Northwestern distances itself from ex-instructor who wrote ‘misogynistic’ WSJ op-ed about Jill Biden: “In a statement issued Sunday, Northwestern denounced Epstein’s column, calling his views ‘misogynistic,’” by Sun-Times’ Madeline Kenney. "Northwestern’s English Department also released a statement noting that Epstein hasn’t taught there since 2003. Furthermore, the department accused him of casting ‘unmerited aspersion on Dr. Jill Biden’s rightful public claiming of her doctoral credentials and expertise.’"

Biden Cabinet rollouts hit bumps in the road, by POLITICO’s Natasha Korecki and Megan Cassella

Trump tells allies he will run in 2024, but hints he may back out, by POLITICO’s Anita Kumar

Georgia runoffs become high-stakes GOP fundraising experiment, by POLITICO’s Elena Schneider

In final years at Liberty, Falwell spent millions on pro-Trump causes, by POLITICO’s Maggie Severns

Sprawling hack of federal agencies — believed to be by Russia — spurs alarm in White House, by POLITICO’s Eric Geller

Jimmy Collins, former UIC coach and Illinois assistant: “Collins led UIC to a 218-208 record from 1996 to 2010. The Flames posted four 20-win seasons and made the program’s only NCAA tournament appearances in 1998, 2002 and 2004,” via the AP.

Cliff Joseph, Chicago artist, art therapist who corresponded with MLK: “Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once wrote to him: ‘I have always felt, since I first saw it, your art expressed the meaning and sacrifice of our struggle,’” by Sun-Times’ Maureen O’Donnell.

Jim Burns, former U.S. attorney, longtime inspector general for Illinois secretary of state: “He led the U.S. attorney’s office during the Operation Silver Shovel corruption investigation and the Operation Haunted Hall ghost-payroll prosecution. His office also took on the Gangster Disciples street gang,” reports Sun-Times’ Jon Seidel.

Former state lawmaker and GOP politico Roscoe D. Cunningham: “Roscoe served as States Attorney for four terms, the Illinois State Legislature for four terms and Delegate to the Republican National Convention for three sessions. He participated in more than 20 election campaigns and always delighted in the political process,” according to his obituary.

FRIDAY’s GUESS: It turns out there were two suburban high schools that John F. Kennedy visited when he was on the campaign trail. Congrats to Cook County State’s attorney Miguel Larios, for correctly answering that York Community High School in Elmhurst was one stop. And h/t to Cook County Circuit Court Judge John Curry, Drug Enforcement Administration attorney Kevin Powers, Union County Democrat Leo Driscoll and others for noting that Barrington High School also was on JFK’s campaign tour.

TODAY’S QUESTION: Who was Chicago’s first female assistant U.S. attorney and what was the drama surrounding her departure — and ultimate death? Email your answer to skapos@politico.com.

Gun Violence Prevention PAC founder Tom Vanden Berk, and former mayoral candidate John Kozlar

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December 14, 2020 at 07:20AM

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