Good Wednesday morning, Illinois. Now President Donald Trump is turning on Mitch McConnell for calling Biden the president-elect, saying "Too soon to give up." Is anyone surprised?
The Illinois House Black Caucus voted unanimously to elect Rep. Kambium “Kam” Buckner as chairman, replacing Rep. Camille Lilly, whose term has ended.
Buckner is taking over the role at a time of upheaval in the community and in the state House. “Covid has shined a light on decades of disinvestment and inequity,” he told Playbook in a text. “My goal is to harness all the power, skills and experiences of the House Black Caucus to create actionable change. We have to attack all the things that are wrong with the way we operate in Illinois and protect all those that are right.”
He called for “transparency, clarity, and commitment” to constituents in making decisions about the state budget and the upcoming House speaker’s race. “The work can’t just be about the next election cycle. It has to be about the next generation.”
Rep. Maurice West was elected secretary of the Black Caucus, also unanimously.
The race for the four available spots in House leadership went to Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, Rep. Mary Flowers, Rep. Marcus Evans, and Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth. Welch received 17 votes, or 22 percent of the vote, to Flowers’ 14 votes, or 18 percent.
Those are important names to watch as the House speaker position remains contested.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker spelled out a “painful” plan to cut $711 million from the state budget to shore up a $4 billion budget hole.
Schools, public safety and health care would take hits. And the governor is negotiating with unions for state workers to take furlough days, too.
The move sends shivers down the spines of Democratic lawmakers, while Republicans dispense outrage. For months, the GOP has called on Pritzker to lay out how he would cut the state budget.
The governor has asked for Republicans to offer their own recommendations, but they haven’t come up with anything yet.
Pritzker had warned that cuts were inevitable if voters didn’t pass the graduated income tax measure. The proposal failed, thanks in part to Republicans who claimed everyone would bear the brunt of the plan even though it targeted wealthy residents.
There’s still hope that the federal government may come through with help to address deficits created by the pandemic. But that’s not going to be enough.
“This gets us part of the way toward addressing the budget deficit,” Pritzker said during a news briefing Tuesday, adding he’ll work with the Legislature to squeeze more out of the budget “to maintain fiscal stability over the long run and address the problems that plagued Illinois pre-pandemic.”
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin called the budget a “fantasy” that relied on “fingers crossed” hope for a federal bailout. State Sen.-elect Dan McConchie used the word “recklessness.”
Asked if he’d consider raising the state’s 4.95 percent flat income tax rate, Pritzker said he’s just focused on the cuts — for now.
Hill leaders nearing long-sought stimulus deal, by POLITICO’s Heather Caygle, Burgess Everett and Marianne LeVine
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Presiding over a virtual meeting of the City Council at 10 a.m.
At the Thompson Center for the 2:30 p.m. Covid-19 update. Watch the update live
At the Thompson Center at 1 p.m. to announce a new initiative to expand digital access for low-income households throughout the state.
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Tuesday reported 117 deaths and 7,359 new confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus. That’s a total of 14,509 deaths and 863,477 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from Dec. 8 through 14 is 8.6 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 12.3 percent.
— NEXT CHALLENGE: APATHY: Now that there’s a Covid-19 vaccine, Illinois faces two new hurdles: staying on top of the logistics of distribution and keeping residents from getting too comfortable with the idea that we’re near the end of the pandemic. As the weeks go on and the vaccination system runs efficiently, there’s a concern that pandemic apathy will set in. Covid-19 “is real. It is deadly. It is still killing Chicagoans,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot reminded Tuesday after watching the first recipients of the vaccine at Loretto Hospital. The medical site, which cares primarily for Black patients, was chosen for the historic event because it symbolizes the disproportionate toll the virus has had on Black and Latino communities.
— Chicago sees first Covid-19 vaccinations — and first signs of hope: “As an emergency physician who has been on the frontlines of this pandemic since Day One, I can attest that healthcare workers have been anxious for this day to come,” said Dr. Marina Del Rios, director of Social Emergency Medicine at University of Illinois Health. Sun-Times’ Brett Chase and Mitchell Armentrout report
— Peoria medical workers among first in Illinois to receive Covid-19 vaccine: “Among the volunteers to receive the first vaccines were Juan Fernandez, 22, a transporter; Victor Chan, 35, the hospitals chief of emergency services; 38-year-old Doug Meyer of Bartonville, a respiratory therapist; Evelyn Tatum, who works in environmental services; and 41-year-old Chemica Jones, a CNA. All five work at Saint Francis in Peoria,” reports NPR Illinois’ Tim Shelley.
— Second vaccine, this one from Moderna and NIH, nears approval from FDA: “A day after the rollout of Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus shots, the Food and Drug Administration said its preliminary analysis confirmed the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine developed by Moderna and the National Institutes of Health. A panel of outside experts is expected to recommend the formula on Thursday, with the FDA’s green light coming soon thereafter,” via the AP.
— Cook County Jail was one of the nation’s largest Covid-19 hotspots last spring. It’s worse now: “Last week, 370 detainees tested positive for the virus, according to data from the sheriff’s office, surpassing the previous high from April,” by Sun-Times’ Matthew Hendrickson.
— Chicago broadens quarantine order to include all states except Hawaii: “The order also includes Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. All travelers coming to Chicago from those states and territories must quarantine for 10 days or record a negative test for COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reduced the required quarantine period from 14 days to 10 days, and Chicago’s travel order reflects that new guidance, officials said,” reports WTTW’s Heather Cherone.
— About that post-Thanksgiving surge, it’s complicated: “With 2½ weeks of data now in hand, the Illinois numbers offer a mixed picture, complicated by regional differences. For example, in the state’s north region — basically west of McHenry and Kane counties to the Iowa border — both Covid-19 case numbers and the positivity rate for Covid-19 testing have dropped by nearly half since mid-November. But so did the availability of intensive care beds. Much of the rest of the country is arguably experiencing a post-holiday surge, based on Covid-19 hospitalization rates,’” by Tribune’s Joe Mahr.
— Gov. J.B. Pritzker joins other Midwestern governors in a new video for their social media channels that encourages constituents to take precautions as they celebrate the holidays under the cloud of the coronavirus. Also participating are Democratic Govs. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Tony Evers of Wisconsin, Tim Walz of Minnesota, Andy Beshear of Kentucky, and Republican governors Eric Holcomb of Indiana and Mike DeWine of Ohio.
— MAGA-world may resist the vaccine, but it still wants Trump to get credit: “Across the far-right, and especially in the conspiratorial corners of MAGA world, Trump’s supporters are finding novel ways to both lavish the president with praise for speeding a Covid vaccine, while arguing against taking the vaccine itself,” by POLITICO’s Tina Nguyen.
— EDITORIAL: ‘Restaurant lockdown massacre’: The Wall Street Journal editorial board called out Illinois and other states for closing indoor dining in wake of the recent increase in Covid-19 cases. “New York’s Andrew Cuomo on Friday joined the stampede of Democratic governors shutting down restaurants despite scant evidence that they are driving a surge in Covid cases. Their shutdowns are hitting minorities the hardest and increasing economic inequality. Democratic governors in Michigan, Illinois, Oregon and Washington in recent weeks have closed indoor dining.”
A community mourns a grandmother lost to Covid-19: “Less than 24 hours later, Florence Bolton, 86, was pronounced dead. So beloved was she in her local community that a church of which she had been a member from 1974 until it closed last year was reopened for her funeral. At her eulogy, the former pastor wept,” by Reuters’ Shannon Stapleton.
Food pantries already facing unprecedented demand in 2020 see holiday spike in need: “The Greater Chicago Food Depository, which serves 800,000 people a year in Chicago and other Cook County communities, says it’s seeing unprecedented demand in its 41-year history, and that it’s had to work hard to ensure it has enough of the volunteers it relies on. ‘We typically have about 18,000 volunteers come annually, (but) with the pandemic … we’re seeing those numbers drop drastically,’ said Sherry Iversen, senior director of volunteer and marketing engagement at the Greater Chicago Food Depository,” WTTW’s Nick Blumbert and Brandis Friedman report.
— From the Tribune: City Hall tried to block TV station from airing body camera footage of police raid on wrong home: “Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Law Department attempted in court this week to block local news station WBBM-Ch. 2 from airing body camera footage of Chicago police officers raiding an innocent woman’s home and handcuffing her while she was naked. The city also filed a request to have the woman, Anjanette Young, sanctioned for allegedly violating a confidentiality order,” by Gregory Pratt.
— Lightfoot accuses Reilly, Hopkins of exercising ‘aldermanic prerogative at its worst’: “The mayor said commercial properties fronting the Magnificent Mile were willing to tax themselves to shore up their defenses and lure back shoppers,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.
— Chicago lays out plan to improve its high schools — and broaden access to the most competitive: “Chicago Public Schools will hold 14% of seats at selective-enrollment schools for students with special needs, district leaders announced Tuesday. The move is intended to ensure students with disabilities are better represented in Chicago’s most coveted public high schools,” reports Chalkbeat Chicago’s Mila Koumpilova.
— Scaled-back plan to legalize coach houses, granny flats advances: “A measure to allow the additional units to be built in most of the city stalled this summer amid opposition from aldermen concerned they would not be able to stop unwanted units from being built in their wards,” reports WTTW’s Heather Cherone.
— Illinois regulators say Mercy Hospital must stay open for now: “Saying they feared that patients would have less access to medical care, especially in a pandemic, regulators on Tuesday noted that Mercy’s emergency department in particular is critical to the surrounding communities, treating nearly 60,000 patients. It’s one of the busiest emergency departments in Chicago,” writes WBEZ’s Kristen Schorsch.
— ‘A very isolating experience:’ First-year teachers seek support through unprecedented year: “Nearly 4,000 teachers in Illinois are starting their careers online, unable to meet students or network with their colleagues in person. The first year of a teacher’s career can be pivotal: Teachers with less than five years in the profession leave at a high rate. It’s hard to know how this year’s new teachers will be affected by starting their careers virtually and amid a global health crisis that has bought added stress to their students,” writes Chalkbeat Chicago’s Samantha Smylie.
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Former Orland Park Dan McLaughlin, who was knocked out by political newcomer Keith Pekau in 2017, is going to run to reclaim his seat in the April 2021 election. In a statement, McLaughlin’s campaign said he made his decision “after consulting with hundreds of Orland Park residents, business owners, and community leaders.” His platform will address health and safety, government transparency, and balancing the budget, according to his campaign. “We have an opportunity to rise out of this pandemic stronger than ever. But to do that, we need someone who can build strong bipartisan coalitions and get things done — and we need to end the corruption preventing our village’s taxpayer dollars from working for us,” McLaughlin said.
— State Rep. La Shawn Ford has a hunch: The Chicago Democrat and member of the House Black Caucus expects some of “the 19” House members might reverse their opposition to Michael Madigan as House speaker. "I predict that some of the 19 will flip if there are no other people stepping up to run for speaker that’s viable," Ford told Landmark Newspaper’s Bob Skolnik. "They won’t be happy about it, but as I’ve long I’ve been in session I’ve voted for things that I’ve had to hold my nose for many times, and that could very well happen with this."
— Madigan committee’s final ruling doesn’t sway dissenters to vote ‘yes’ for speaker: “One by one, 19 members of the House have said they will not vote for Madigan — leaving him six votes shy of the 60 votes needed to continue in the leadership role he’s held for nearly four decades, barring any flip-flops in the group,” by Sun-Times’ Rachel Hinton.
Video shows murder suspect escape from transport van in Gary: “Leon Taylor, 22, is wanted on a murder charge for a homicide in East Chicago and was in the process of being extradited to Lake County from Texas, officials said,” by Sun-Times’ Emmanuel Camarillo.
— Chicago-based weed company Verano Holdings to go public in Canada, valued at nearly $3B: “Verano Holdings announced plans Tuesday to go public on the Canadian Securities Exchange through a complex reverse merger that values the Chicago-based marijuana company at nearly $3 billion,” reports Tribune’s Robert Channick.
— Chicago’s independent pot shops going up in smoke as N.Y. cannabis giant moves to acquire Midway Dispensary: “AWH, which has operations to grow and sell weed across six states, detailed the pending takeover of Midway Dispensary in Vittum Park just three days before the shop’s owners were expected to petition the Zoning Board of Appeals to open their second location in the South Loop,” writes Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba.
Oberweis, Rickert, Ward vote recount covers thousands of mail-in paper ballots: “The discovery recount for Nov. 3’s losing candidates Jim Oberweis, David Rickert and Jeanette Ward is expected to go until late Wednesday or Thursday, as Kane County Clerk employees are required to hold up every mail-in paper ballot from 119 precincts to show their fronts and backs to campaign representatives,” by Kane County Chronicle’s Brenda Schory.
— Buttigieg chosen as Biden’s Transportation secretary: “Buttigieg’s ascension to the top spot at DOT marks the culmination of a meteoric rise in politics over the last two years from the mayor of South Bend, Ind., to the first openly gay Cabinet secretary, if he is confirmed,” report POLITICO’s Tyler Pager and Sam Mintz.
— Naming Mayor Pete a blow to Rahm: The historic choice of Pete Buttigieg “dealt a blow to former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose behind-the-scenes pursuit of the transportation post was met with vocal opposition from top progressives and African Americans within the Democratic Party over his City Hall response to the 2014 police murder of Black teenager Laquan McDonald,” reports Tribune’s Bill Ruthhart.
— Eric Salcedo is now on Biden’s EPA team. His most recent job was with the Democratic National Committee. But he previously worked in the office of former Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, by E&E News.
— Biden’s Congress whisperer, Louisa Terrell, is the quintessential Capitol Hill dealmaking pro, by POLITICO’s Nancy Scola
— DeVos urges career staff to ‘be the resistance’ as Biden takes over, by POLITICO’s Michael Stratford
— McConnell finally recognizes Biden’s win, but he still needs Trump’s help, by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett
Today: There’s a holiday tree lighting being held in Ald. Gilbert Villegas’ 36th Ward.
— Tribune political reporter Gregory Pratt is taking over as president of the Chicago Tribune Guild. “Our union represents some of the best journalists in America against the worst company in news [Alden], but our members never stop working for a better informed public and I am inspired by that every day,” Pratt tweeted in announcing the appointment. He takes over for Tribune courts reporter Megan Crepeau.
— Sun-Times political reporter Rachel Hinton is featured on political operative Becky Carroll’s The Broad Cast, a podcast focusing on “women making a difference” in Illinois.
— Glenn Reedus, who’s been named interim editor and publisher of the Chicago Reporter, talks about local and national politics on Live from the Heartland radio show and podcast with Michael James, Katy Hogan and Thom Clark (at 14:10). Reedus is a longtime Chicago journalist who worked for Chicago Defender and Chicago Crusader. His arrival at the Reporter is good news for the publication that’s been on hiatus for a few months.
Nancy Juarez has been named chief of staff for Rep.-elect Marie Newman. Juarez most recently was deputy chief of staff/legislative director for Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.).
Mechanic crushed to death at O’Hare was breadwinner for extended family: ‘He was taking care of everyone’: “Jijo George emigrated from India 17 years ago and worked hard to make things better for his family, his cousin said,” by Sun-Times’ David Struett.
TUESDAY’s GUESS: Congrats to estate planning attorney Dan Balanoff for correctly answering that Ida Platt was the first Black woman licensed to practice law in Illinois after graduating from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 1863. It should be noted that Violette Neatley Anderson also has been recognized as “the first” after passing the bar in 1920 and being licensed before the United States Eastern District of Illinois. (Playbook welcomes an explanation from Illinois historians about the discrepancy.)
TODAY’S QUESTION: Which state representative became the first lawmaker in the United States to propose legislation to help protect workers who were victims of plant closings? Email your answer to [email protected].
Former Gov. Pat Quinn, Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th), former Cicero President Betty Loren-Maltese, University of Chicago social scientist Jacy Reese Anthis, Baker Botts Associate Elisa Beneze, who interned at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago, and PR pro Margaret O’Connor.
December 16, 2020 at 07:45AM