Happy Tuesday, Illinois. We’re off to another historic day in another historic year.
President-elect Joe Biden and VP-elect Kamala Harris’ 2020 victory was confirmed Monday, and valiant health care workers started receiving coronavirus vaccines. But the greatest drama in Illinois unfolded during a special legislative hearing to examine whether House Speaker Michael Madigan should be reprimanded with conduct unbecoming a legislator.
A move to subpoena Madigan to testify failed along party lines, the hearing was shut down, and the invective spewed.
Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, the Hillside Democrat who chaired the committee, called the legislative investigation “a stunt. It’s a joke. And that joke ends today.”
“This was a power grab by the minority party,” Welch told the Sun-Times, referring to Republican Leader Jim Durkin’s demand to hold any hearings at all. “This is a sham, political show trial to help leader Durkin try to become speaker, and he’s abusing what this rule was meant for, and to vote to support subpoenas in this process is pandering to that abuse, and I refused to do it.”
Only one witness came forward in all the three legislative hearings. ComEd’s David Glockner confirmed prosecutors’ allegations that the utility company provided jobs to Madigan’s allies in an effort to influence him.
Madigan has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, and without being criminally charged, Democrats declined to bring the speaker before the pancel. At one point, the committee referred to Madigan as “certain persons.”
That prompted an exasperated Republican Rep. Grant Wehrli to reply, “This isn’t Voldemort we’re talking about here. You can actually say the man’s name.”
Durkin criticized Welch, saying, “The Democratic Party shows again today there is no limit to the lengths they will go to protect Speaker Madigan.”
Amid all this, Madigan issued a statement pointing to the recent revelation that Durkin also wanted to see an ally get a ComEd job.
“If Jim Durkin actually believes it is conduct unbecoming of a legislator to recommend people for jobs or help constituents, he might want to review his own hypocritical behavior. Rather than finger-pointing, I suggest we focus on the important work that lies ahead of us,” Madigan said.
The legislative hearings played out as 19 Democrats have said they won’t vote for Madigan as speaker next month. Democrats are just fine debating the future of the leadership, but they aren’t going to take cues from Republicans on managing their own house.
WBEZ’s Dan Mihalopoulos has more on the back and forth of the hearing and the Democratic committee members backing Madigan.
Illinois’ 20 Electoral College votes were officially cast for Biden and Harris on Monday during a state Capitol ceremony that was notable for the short, thoughtful comments electors squeezed in before casting their ballots.
“We stood in determination to fight for our democracy to show the country and world once again the best the United States has to offer,” said Lauren Beth Gash, a former state rep and chairwoman of the Lake County Democratic Central Committee. “I’m honored to cast my Electoral College vote to confirm a team that will work to repair our image and lead us into a brighter future — inclusive, diverse, innovative and compassionate.”
Biden won Illinois 57.5 percent to outgoing President Donald Trump’s 40.5 percent, so there was no effort by Republicans to challenge the vote — and no disruptions by disgruntled Trump supporters, either. “Just a calm exercise of democracy,” Julia Kennedy Beckman, who represents the 11th Congressional District, told the Daily Herald.
Electors chose Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot as chair and Senate President Don Harmon as secretary of the Illinois electoral delegation. After Secretary of State Jesse White opened the meeting, Lightfoot called each elector down by congressional district, or as at-large representative, to mark their ballots and place them in the box. Harmon then opened the box and counted the ballots.
The tradition was carried out at statehouses across the country throughout the day, with California, Harris’ home state, getting Biden to the 270 (and then some) that he needed.
The Electoral College officially certified Biden’s win Monday evening. As POLITICO’s congressional team reports, Republicans (slowly) started recognizing the Democrat as the winner of the presidential election — even as Trump continued to falsely claim he won the contest.
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At Loretto Hospital at 10:30 a.m. to witness the first Covid-19 vaccines administered in Chicago.
At OSF St. Francis hospital in Peoria at 11 a.m. to witness the first Covid-19 vaccines administered. Then to the Thompson Center for the 2:30 p.m. Covid-19 update. Watch the update live
Presiding over the Cook County Forest Preserve meeting at 10 a.m. Watch the meeting live
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Monday reported 103 deaths and 7,214 new confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus. That’s a total of 14,394 deaths and 856,118 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from Dec. 7 through 13 is 8.7 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 12.6 percent.
— First Covid-19 vaccinations scheduled to be given in Illinois today: “Amid a massive distribution effort that will take several days to reach medical centers in more than four dozen counties, Chicago selected a hospital in one of its hardest-hit neighborhoods to administer the city’s first shot. The vaccination will be given Tuesday morning at Loretto Hospital in the Austin community, where the death rate dwarfs the citywide average. ‘The Loretto Hospital and our colleagues at safety net hospitals across the city have been in the trenches of Chicago’s battle against COVID since day one,’ Loretto President and CEO George Miller said. ‘We are honored to play a part in this historic moment, on behalf of all the front-line health care providers, our heroes, and our brothers and sisters so disproportionately impacted by this pandemic. We look forward to turning this corner, together,’” reports the Tribune in a seven-byline story.
… Dr. Marina Del Rios from the Illinois Unidos Collaborative will be one of the first recipients of the new Covid-19 vaccines today in Chicago.
… From WBEZ’s Kristen Schorsch: “The country still has limited access to the vaccine, with an expected 109,000 doses to come to Illinois in the first week. With more than 655,000 health care workers across the state, the vaccination of these front line workers will still take some time.”
— What we know about the vaccine rollout in Illinois: When it’s your turn and where you can get it, by WBEZ’s Vivian McCall
— Central Illinois hospitals gearing up for the arrival of the coronavirus vaccine: “Three of those hospitals — OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, St. John’s Hospital in Springfield and Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana — serve Central Illinois. How many each regional hub will receive is still unclear, according to hospital officials. But those hospitals are not keeping all of those vaccine doses for their own staff,” reports NPR Illinois’ Mary Hansen, Christine Herman and Hannah Meisel.
— Illinois schools have tallied more than 160 outbreaks of Covid-19: “But while the state is now posting such numbers online — and health departments are assisting schools with surveillance of cases, contact tracing and guidance — it still falls to school officials to make the biggest decision: Does the school need to shut down again? Instead of an outbreak triggering a mandated closure, the Cook County health department typically advises local education officials … to return to remote learning.” Though it’s up to schools to decide, reports Tribune’s Karen Ann Cullotta.
— Congress warms to possible Covid stimulus deal: “Roughly a dozen centrist senators presented their much-anticipated product on Monday afternoon in two pieces: A $748 billion package boosting education, vaccine, transportation and other funding, and a more controversial $160 billion add-on of state and local funding married with a short-term liability shield for employers. And though it’s still not clear what exactly Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Nancy Pelosi will do with it, the $748 billion piece was fairly warmly received by Republicans on Monday and Democrats did not immediately dismiss it,” by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett and Heather Caygle.
Former Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and some of her high-profile cousins are donating $10 million to a Chicago technology incubator designed to train and support women and minorities seeking careers in the tech industry.
Discovery Partners Institute is part of a major expansion by University of Illinois in the South Loop near Roosevelt Road and the Chicago River.
“Covid-19 has worsened our already significant income inequality, accelerated tech adoption and made the need for upskilling even more acute,” she said in a statement to Playbook. “We simply must do more to help our workers, particularly women and people of color, acquire the skills needed to adapt and thrive given the accelerating impact of automation and digitization.”
The donation comes by way of the Pritzker Foundation, which includes Penny Pritzker, Hyatt Hotels executive chairman Tom Pritzker, philanthropist Nick Pritzker, and film producer Gigi Pritzker Pucker. The state last month said it would put $23 million into the effort.
The project is of special interest to Penny Pritzker, who recently served as an adviser to President-elect Joe Biden on his Build Back Better economic plan. Pritzker has long supported programs that allow more access to skills-based education.
DPI is creating the Pritzker Tech Talent Labs, which will be headed by Omowale Casselle, co-founder of Digital Adventures Inc., a technology education program.
— Lightfoot accused of trying to water down pivotal criminal justice reform: “Ald. Leslie Hairston wants anyone arrested by Chicago police to be told of their right to free legal counsel and allowed a ‘reasonable number of phone calls’ to attorneys and relatives within an hour,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.
— Police homicide clearance rate dips in 2020 after improvement in recent years: “The drop — from 50.3 percent solved in 2019 to 44.5 percent this year — comes after three years of improvement. But the reversal is also happening at an unprecedented moment, with violence spiking across the country in the wake of both the pandemic and national protests over policing, leaving experts predicting other cities will see dips in clearance rates as well,” by Tribune’s Annie Sweeney and Jeremy Gorner.
— Video shows police handcuffing naked woman during wrong raid, by CBS/2’s Dave Savini.
— Mag Mile tax district proposal stalls amid opposition from downtown aldermen: “Lightfoot wanted to expedite the creation of the district, which would charge commercial property owners north of the Chicago River downtown a small additional tax to raise $761,000 each year to pay for infrastructure improvements and additional security in Chicago’s most famous shopping district. But the City Council economic development committee on Monday didn’t put the proposal to a vote, which casts significant doubt on the plan’s future,” by Tribune’s John Byrne.
— State regulators to decide the fate of Mercy Hospital: “Illinois regulators are scheduled to decide the fate of Mercy Hospital on Tuesday, about five months after the historic medical center on the Near South Side announced that it wanted to shut down during a pandemic. Mercy — the first chartered hospital in Chicago — says it has been treating fewer patients and operating in the red for years. Located in the Bronzeville neighborhood, Mercy tried to merge with three other South Side hospitals. But Illinois lawmakers wouldn’t help foot the billion-dollar bill, so the deal ended,” reports WBEZ’s Kristen Schorsch.
— CPS hiring 2,000 new workers — no Chicago residency required — to help reopen schools: “Half of the jobs, which pay $15 an hour, include supervising students in classrooms where teachers are remote, monitoring social distancing and masking and conducting health screenings,” reports Sun-Times’ Nader Issa.
— Chicago Public Schools seeks to extend its emergency spending powers: “The request to extend the board’s emergency spending authorization through March comes as federal lawmakers wrestle with a second stimulus package — an effort President-elect Joe Biden has said should include money for schools reeling from the pandemic’s fallout. The district has spent the bulk of the $75 million its board allowed under the spending authorization originally approved last March,” reports Chalkbeat’s Mila Koumpilova.
— Aldermen advance $300,000 settlement for girl shocked by police Taser in West Side high school: “The City Council Finance Committee on Monday approved the settlement in the 2019 federal civil rights lawsuit the girl filed against the city. The full City Council will consider the proposal Wednesday,” by Tribune’s John Byrne.
Cook County commissioners propose rules to protect suburban renters: “But they face pushback from groups representing landlords who fear the regulations would stifle the housing market and cause rents to rise,” reports Daily Herald’s Christopher Placek.
High school athletic officials to resume talks about winter sports: "The Illinois High School Association’s Board of Directors plans to meet with state officials before the month is over to discuss a timeline for the resumption of winter sports," by Drew Veskauf of Hearts of Illinois.
Cabello announces recount plan for 68th District: “The fight for the 68th District’s Representative seat continues. Democratic Rep.-elect Dave Vella was declared the winner last month, but Rep. John Cabello announced plans for a recount. The Republican says the recount is well within the required margin of under .05 percent or less. Vella won by just 239 votes. This means that 25 percent of precincts within the district will be reviewed. That will determine if a full recount is needed.”
— Buffalo Grove pleads with Pritzker to license marijuana dispensary: “Under state law as it’s currently interpreted, Sunnyside at 830 Milwaukee Ave. lost its ability to add recreational marijuana sales without further state permission when it moved from its original location at 1623 Barclay Blvd. If not for the move, the Cresco Labs-owned dispensary would not need the additional state approval,” writes Daily Herald’s Steve Zalusky.
— Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba says state’s weed windfall from taxes could surpass booze next year.
Interview with Chancellor Karen Whitney: The interim chancellor at the University of Illinois Springfield and president emerita of Clarion University in Pennsylvania “talks about what led her to higher education, her vision for UIS, and more with Community Voices’ Bea Bonner and Randy Eccles,” by NPR Illinois’ Beatrice Bonner and Randy Eccles.
— Trump antagonizes Republicans with Georgia fundraising ploy, by POLITICO’s Alex Isenstadt
— How Biden’s first-year economy is counting on perfection, by POLITICO’s Ben White
— Wave of evictions threatens Black, Latino tenants, by POLITICO’s Katy O’Donnell and Janaki Chadha
— Attorney General William Barr to step down, by POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney
— Why you can’t really fight City Hall, at least over the police, by Jim Schober for POLITICO magazine
— Lisa Emerick has joined the Economic Club of Chicago as chief marketing and engagement officer. She is a business consultant who previously served as associate publisher at Crain’s.
— Royce Strahan is manager of Strategic Communications in the Global Comms group at McDonald’s Corp. He previously was director of comms and public affairs for the City Treasurer’s Office.
Jeannie Morris, pioneering Chicago sportscaster, dead at 85: “‘There’s so many women now doing what Jeannie did, and she was the first,’ sportscaster Peggy Kusinski said of the longtime WMAQ-TV and WBBM-TV reporter,” by Sun-Times’ Maureen O’Donnell.
MONDAY’s GUESS: Congrats to Chicago-Kent law student Jaylin McClinton for correctly answering that Wanda Stopa was the a U.S. attorney (the first woman in the role in Chicago) who tried to kill her husband’s lover (she mistakenly killed the gardener instead) and then killed herself. Her funeral was major.
TODAY’S QUESTION: Who is the first Black woman licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois and what law school did she attend? Email your answer to [email protected].
Cook County Judge Perla Tirado, Norwood Park civic leader Frank Avino, public affairs entrepreneur Dave Lundy, Strategia Consulting CEO Lissa Druss, Cameo co-founder and CEO Steven Galanis, Creative for Good founder Ben Counts, Chicago–Kent College of Law Professor Richard Kling, and veteran corporate PR exec Ron Culp.
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December 15, 2020 at 07:19AM