TGIF, Illinois. Whatever happened to easing into the new year? After the past two busy weeks, we’ll be digging into a high-profile, high-security inauguration next week — and waiting to see how the current president makes his exit.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: Illinois Playbook won’t publish Monday in honor of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. We’ll be back Tuesday.
President-elect Joe Biden’s nearly $2 trillion pandemic relief proposal includes more stimulus checks and help for the unemployed as well as $350 billion for cities and states whose budgets have been pummeled by the loss of tax revenue.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who has suffered a few blows trying to shore up the state’s budget, is hopeful and "grateful." In a statement, he said the massive package matches “this moment of national crisis.”
As POLITICO’s Capitol bureau reports, Biden’s central message is that the federal government will no longer "leave financially struggling states on their own to determine how to get the supplies and medical staff they needed to fight outbreaks.”
In a speech, Biden said the pandemic and economic crises are “straining the budgets” of cities and states, which “are forced to consider layoffs and service reductions.”
Federal support may allow Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to pull back on her plan to furlough some city employees. For Pritzker, the Biden plan is a bright spot after two two blows. His signature progressive tax increase didn’t win the approval it needed in November, and a plan for a series of tax changes that the governor says would have saved the state $1 billion for this fiscal year failed to clear the Legislature for a lack of support among Democrats.
The relief bill still must go through a Congress with only narrow margins favoring Democrats — especially in the Senate with its 50-50 split. GOP lawmakers are likely to push back on some funding measures, including monies for states and municipalities even though Republican-run local governments are struggling too.
Biden’s plan also helps individuals: He’s calling for $400 per week unemployment benefits through September, $1,400 stimulus checks, $30 billion to help renters, extending the child care tax credit, and increasing the minimum wage to $15.
Springfield is quiet again (until later this month) but lawmakers are buzzing that Michael Madigan, who stepped down as speaker this week, will likely resign the 22nd District House seat he’s held since 1971. His team won’t say, but veteran lawmakers expect he’s not just packing up his office — he’s wrapping up his career in the statehouse, too.
“Disappointment and loss are best spooned out slowly,” one lawmaker said of Madigan needing at least a few days to let the change sink in before announcing his next move.
The next question is whether the former speaker stays on as head of the state Democratic Party, which he uses to elect Democrats to the General Assembly.
Newly elected House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, meanwhile, gave NBC/5’s Mary Ann Ahern a glimpse of Madigan’s partially cleared-out office.
Welch has drawn widespread attention since he was named speaker — the first Black person to hold the position in Illinois. He received calls from across the country with congratulations, including from Willie Brown, the first Black speaker of the California State Assembly who went on to become San Francisco mayor. Other calls came in from DNC Vice Chair Michael Blake, who served in the New York Assembly; Jessica Post from the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee; and Gilda Cobb-Hunter, a Democratic member of the South Carolina House of Representatives.
Closer to home, Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro told the school paper that the university “takes great pride” in Welch, who played baseball while attending the school. And Proviso Township High, where Welch was voted most likely to succeed, featured his high school yearbook photos on its Facebook page.
— How Welch became speaker: ‘My colleagues asked me to step up,’ Tribune’s Jamie Munks reports.
— After electing House speaker, state lawmakers tackle other initiatives, explains WTTW’s Amanda Vinicky.
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At the Thompson Center at noon for a Covid-19 update.
At the Thompson Center at noon for a Covid-19 update.
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Thursday reported 88 additional deaths and 6,652 new confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus. That’s a total of 17,928 fatalities and 1,052,682 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from Jan. 7 through 13 is 6.8 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 9.7 percent.
— COVID at the CAPITOL: Some lawmakers, their staffs and political reporters will be quarantining for the next two weeks as there have been reports of positive Covid-19 cases. Anyone in the Senate complex from last Saturday through this Thursday is advised to quarantine, and anyone at the Bank of Springfield on Thursday is advised to do the same, according to a statement that a positive Covid-19 case has been reported in both locations.
— Chicago poised to open new Covid-19 vaccination sites, but Lightfoot says city needs more doses: “‘That is completely and totally unacceptable,’ Lightfoot said. Lightfoot also noted the city’s receiving fewer doses now than when the vaccines first became available, calling it ‘clearly the opposite direction of where we need to be going,’” reports Tribune’s Gregory Pratt and Alice Yin.
— Lightfoot, restaurants across Illinois join calls for Pritzker to allow some indoor dining: Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday she’s talking to Gov. J.B. Pritzker about opening up restaurants. “I am very very focused on getting our restaurants to reopen,” Lightfoot said. “The various criteria the state has set, we are meeting most of those.” She says opening them would help stop people from gathering secretly without masks. Pritzker didn’t expressly endorse these sentiments Thursday, saying only that public health experts would, “craft mitigation measures to prevent the spread of this deadly virus.” WGN/9’s Patrick Elwood and Judy Wang report.
— Sangamon county releases vaccination plan, will begin phase 1B Monday: “Sangamon County will begin Monday vaccinating seniors over 65 and essential frontline workers against COVID-19, the next priority group behind healthcare workers. But county officials say all appointments are booked through January 24, and they won’t be able to open new appointments until they receive more doses from the state health department,” writes NPR Illinois’ Mary Hansen.
Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his wife, Amy Rule, are donating $100,000 to City Colleges of Chicago’s Star Plus tuition program and $50,000 to Becoming a Man (BAM) and Working on Womanhood (WOW) mentoring programs operated by the nonprofit Youth Guidance.
Both nonprofits are close to the hearts of the former first couple, and Emanuel wrote about their work in his book, “The Nation City: Why Mayors Are Now Running the World.”
“They’re key to helping students achieve their dreams,” Emanuel told Playbook about the two nonprofits. “They both focus on students and kids who are often overlooked.”
Emanuel launched the City Colleges scholarship program in 2015 to give Chicago high school students the chance to earn a college credential debt-free. Since its inception, the program has helped more than 10,000 students go to college. The couple’s gift is the largest by any individual since the program started and will be awarded in $5,000 increments to students in the community college network’s Star Scholarship program to help pay for tuition and books.
School Chancellor Juan Salgado said Emanuel’s vision for the Star Scholarship program “has already changed the lives of thousands of Chicago students and their families” and that the donation helps assure “they take the next step in their college careers.”
Emanuel was introduced to BAM during a mentoring circle at Harper High School in West Englewood. Back then, it was a fledgling program working with 100 Black teens. Emanuel went on to champion the program, introducing Barack Obama and others to its work. Today, it reaches 7,000 young men. Rule, meanwhile, went on to help nurture WOW, which serves about 2,000 young women.
The former mayor has spent the past year as an election analyst on ABC. He also manages the Chicago office of Centerview Partners, which represented GrubHub in its recent $7.3 billion sale.
Sen. TAMMY DUCKWORTH was tapped by President-elect Joe Biden to be a vice chair or the Democratic National Committee. Former South Carolina Democratic Party chair Jaime Harrison would lead the DNC, according to three people familiar with the decision, a major victory for state party heads and the powerful House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, write POLITICO’s Holly Otterbein, Christopher Cadelago and Natasha Kokrecki.
— Get the popcorn. Union says CPD suspended 17 officers, supervisors who lounged in Rush’s burglarized office: “Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara said the union is challenging all the suspensions, ranging from one day to 20 days, arguing that the officers did nothing wrong. The department declined to comment, and has not disclosed what, if any, penalties were handed out,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.
— Massive underground project proposed for land below toxic site on Southeast Side: “Ozinga wants to develop a 6 million square foot project 350 feet below the surface of a brownfield site,” by Sun-Times’ Brett Chase.
— From anxiety to joy: Stories of Chicago’s contentious return to the classroom: “Interviews with families and educators on the ground reveal a mix of emotions and experiences that are intensely personal and also framed by race, class, and the Covid-19 rates of various neighborhood,” reports Chalkbeat Chicago’s Yana Kunichoff.
— Chicago-based Aon dumps Trump: “Aon Plc, an insurance brokerage that’s previously been questioned about ties to the Trump Organization, said it ended a relationship with the business. … Aon is the latest financial business to cut ties with the president. Earlier this week, Professional Bank said it won’t do more deals with the business and Signature Bank said it would close Trump accounts holding about $5.3 million,” by Bloomberg’s Katherine Chiglinsky.
— City probing Gibsons for violating Covid-19 restrictions after fire forces evacuation: “City inspectors are investigating whether Gibsons restaurant flouted the state ban on indoor dining after the Chicago Fire Department reported “evacuating patrons” from the River North eatery after a fire, officials said. No one was injured in the fire, which was caused when the restaurant’s fireplace damper malfunctioned around 9 p.m. Wednesday, said Liz Lombardo Stark, a spokesperson for the Rush Street landmark,” by WTTW’s Heather Cherone.
— In Chicago, other cities, more cops are calling it quits, retiring amid anti-police backlash: “Chicago police retirements were up 15% last year over 2019. In New York, retirements nearly doubled. Some Chicago cops cite anti-police rhetoric over the past year,” by Sun-Times’ Frank Main and Fran Spielman.
— Taxicab king no more: Empire of mogul linked to Daley son, ex-Trump fixer has crumbled: “Symon Garber was part of a takeover by out-of-town investors who caused taxi medallion prices to soar and got millions in loans that financed their high-flying lifestyles,” by Sun-Times’ Tim Novak and Stephanie Zimmermann.
— People with disabilities fear impact of ailing taxi industry on Chicago area’s subsidized cab service: “Those who rely on the Taxi Access Program operated by PACE say they’re already seeing longer waits. And they worry that, with fewer cabs on the streets, it will get worse,” by Sun-Times’ Stephanie Zimmermann.
Preckwinkle appoints new director of human rights and ethics: “Sisavanh Baker will start her new role on Monday…Her predecessor, Keith Chambers, resigned on Nov. 16 and Deputy Director Gina Smith has led the department on an interim basis. The department focuses on “ethics and human rights” work with the president’s office, the Board of Ethics and the Commission on Human Rights, Mathiowdis said. Baker was recently chief legal counsel at Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough’s office. Before that, she was an assistant Cook County state’s attorney for almost 15 years, supervising civil actions for three state’s attorneys,” reports Tribune’s Alice Yin.
Lincolnshire trustees approve advisory referendum ‘to see what the voters say’ about recreational cannabis sales: “Village officials stressed that even if voters approve the idea, trustees will have work to do on zoning regulations for any recreational marijuana dispensary. Officials said they intend to make that clear to voters during what they called a public education period – between now and the April election,” reports Tribune’s Graydon Megan.
National activist lends support to police abolition push at Northwestern: “A prominent national activist cheered on students at Northwestern who are calling for the abolition of campus police as she gave a keynote during the university’s “Dream Week ” dedicated to commemorating the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. ‘If King were alive today at 91 … I have no doubt that what he would be addressing in our current historical moment is the violence and destruction of the prison industrial complex,’ Mariame Kaba, the organizer and educator known for her work on prison abolition, said Wednesday,” reports WBEZ’s Esther Yoon-Ji Kang.
INTERVIEW: Valerie Jarrett speaks with Mike Thomas for Chicago magazine. “Harold Washington had this delicious personality that made everybody feel like they had his undivided attention. I was a very junior person in the city’s law department, so I did not have meetings with him with any frequency. But one lesson he taught me by example was how to disagree without being disagreeable. I watched him during his first term, when he didn’t have control of the City Council, and the aldermen — the Vrdolyak 29 — were horrible to him, just dreadful. But he would joke with them behind the council chambers. He always had good humor and recognized that it wasn’t personal.”
— TODAY at 10 A.M.: Lightfoot’s Martin Luther King celebration honors community leaders propelling civil rights legacy, racial justice: “Three groups named ‘community healers’ will be honored during the city’s virtual MLK interfaith celebration. King’s birthday is Friday; the King holiday is Monday,” by Sun-Times’ Maudlyne Ihejirika.
— MONDAY FOOD DRIVE: The Illinois Democratic Party is holding a statewide food drive in conjunction with the Presidential Inaugural Committee’s National Day of Service. The event commemorates Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. “As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to rage on, many of our Illinois residents and families are suffering while our food banks are under great pressure to feed a growing number of people each day,” Michael Madigan, chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party, said in a statement. “We hope people will do what they can to help the many families finding it difficult to put food on the table during this challenging time.”
— TUESDAY LIGHTS OUT: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the City of Chicago, in partnership with the incoming Biden-Harris administration, will take part in the National Covid-19 Memorial Service to remember lives lost to the disease. At 6 p.m. Chicago time, residents and businesses are encouraged to turn off their lights and electronics, and step outside with a lighted candle and moment of silence. After reflecting for 10 minutes, lights can go on — as a symbol of moving from darkness to light, organizers say. Businesses and residents are encouraged to share how they are participating by emailing email@example.com and post on social media using #brightertogether.
— The Sun-Times has a full list of Martin Luther King Day events.
— Diminished Trump leaves a vacuum for 2024 hopefuls, by POLITICO’s Alex Isenstadt
— Rick Scott’s rocky start atop GOP Senate campaign arm, by POLITICO’s James Arkin
— Lawmakers who conspired with Capitol attackers in legal peril, by POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein
Richard Means: New York Times has a nice write-up of the “premier election and campaign lawyer and a fixture in Chicago legal circles.” He died of Covid-19.
THURSDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to lobbyist and former state Rep. Lou Lang for correctly answering that Tom Railsback was the Republican congressman from Illinois who joined Democrats to draft the article impeachment against Richard Nixon. (NPR’s Scott Simon wrote a tribute upon Railsback’s death.)
TODAY’s QUESTION: A former “dean” of the Illinois House was thrown into a district with a colleague who was a good friend, and they had to run against each other. Who was the dean and the friend? Email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today: Federal Reserve Bank CEO Charles Evans, Instacart Midwest Director of Public Policy Kelley Foxx, and U. of I. Politics & Government Department director of enrollment Erik Rankin.
Saturday: State Rep. Anne Stava-Murray, Chicago Clerk Anna Valencia, communications strategy consultant Joanna Klonsky, former congressional candidate Sameena Mustafa, and game developer Max Temkin.
Sunday: Former First Lady Michelle Obama, Cook County Judge Abbey Romanek, Mason County Dems Chair Jay Briney, communications strategy consultant Kelley Quinn, and Edelman VP Katherine Wiet.
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January 15, 2021 at 07:21AM