MAYOR’s COMMS SHUFFLE — NOW URLACHER SEEKS RE-ELECTION — TEACHER TALKS STALL, KIDS STILL HOME

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TGIF, Illinois. With all the changes in Springfield, there’s a power shift from Chicago to the west suburbs, according to Landmark’s Bob Skolnik. What do you think? Email me at skapos@politico.com.

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Michael Crowley, director of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s communications office for nearly 18 months, is leaving, and Kate LeFurgy, deputy director of the office, is stepping up.

“Kate has played a critical part in navigating our city through the enormous challenges of the last year,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “She is fiercely committed to our mission of building a transparent, responsive city government that reflects the experience and needs of our residents, and I’m thrilled to have her stepping into this leadership role.”

Prior to joining the mayor’s office, LeFurgy was chief communications officer to Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia. At the Clerk’s Office, LeFurgy led the communications campaign to launch the CityKey, the municipal identification program, among other projects.

Crowley told Playbook LeFurgy is ready to take the reins. “I’m really proud of the team we’ve built and pleased that Kate LeFurgy will step in to take over.”

For his part, Crowley is taking a break, find a new adventure and rekindle his love of running without a cell phone in hand. “Sometimes to move forward, you have to step aside,” he said.

His exit comes a few weeks after Anel Ruiz, the mayor’s former spokeswoman, left to work in a public affairs office in the private sector. Crowley’s news also comes amid tense negotiations between the mayor’s office and the Chicago Teachers Union. But his leaving at this moment is only coincidence, he said.

Crowley has planned for weeks to step down. Ironically, he started his job just before the 2019 teachers’ strike.

“It’s been quite a time to be in municipal government,” Crowley said, referring to the impact of the coronavirus. “The word unprecedented doesn’t have any meaning anymore.”

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Casey Urlacher, the Mettawa mayor pardoned by former President Donald Trump for his alleged involvement in a gambling scheme, is running for re-election as a write-in candidate now that his name has been cleared.

“Even before I received a pardon, residents were encouraging me to run for reelection, to continue that progress. With the support of our residents, I made the decision that I would run for another term,” Urlacher said in a statement to Playbook.

Urlacher, the brother of former Bears Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher, was among 73 people pardoned or commuted by Trump during his final hours in office. A federal indictment had charged that Urlacher and nine others ran an offshore sports gambling ring that raked in millions of dollars from hundreds of Chicago-area gamblers. Urlacher was charged with conspiracy and running an illegal gambling business.

With an indictment looming over him, Urlacher didn’t file to run for a third term.

That changed after Trump’s pardon. Urlacher’s quick return to politics comes as many Republican lawmakers nationwide shed their concerns about Trump’s role in inciting the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

“My position is unpaid, and I look forward to a positive campaign, earning the votes of residents, and serving for another term,” Urlacher said in his statement.

It’s too late in the process for Urlacher to get his name printed on the ballot for the April 6 election. He faces former Mettawa Mayor Jess Ray of the Back to the Future Party.

RELATED

The real scandal is the pardon Trump didn’t give: “Rufus Rochell checked all the right boxes for clemency: an exemplary record in prison, advocacy out of it, and a friendship with a famous Trump booster. So why didn’t he get it?” by POLITICO’s Sam Stein.

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

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No official public events.

No official public events.

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Thursday reported 103 additional deaths and 4,191 new confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus. That’s a total of 19,067 fatalities and 1,116,372 cases in Illinois.The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from Jan. 21 through 27 is 4.3 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 6.5 percent.

Securing a vax appointment at a pharmacy is like ‘The Hunger Games’: “We tested three pharmacy chains’ websites to try to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccination for elderly relatives who qualify — with no luck. Meanwhile, an internet bot is giving some users hope,” write Sun-Times’ Stephanie Zimmermann, Brett Chase, and Caroline Hurley.

Is the pandemic growing or shrinking in Illinois? New website tracks a key metric: “A group of Illinois COVID-19 researchers has launched a webpage to try to help residents see and make sense of the latest pandemic trends, including one of the easiest metrics to understand: the reproduction rate. Though it’s based on complicated math, the reproduction rate offers a simple gauge of the pandemic’s trajectory. A number above 1 means the epidemic is growing. Below 1 means it’s shrinking,” by Tribune’s Joe Mahr.

Metro East lawmakers ask Pritzker to lift restrictions: “On Thursday, state Sens. Rachelle Crowe, D-Glen Carbon, and Christopher Belt, D-Centreville, were joined by state Reps. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville; Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea; and LaToya Greenwood, D-East St. Louis, in delivering a letter to Pritzker urging him to move the Metro East to the next tier which would allow restaurants and bars to reopen for indoor dining at a limited capacity and school sports practices to resume,” reports the Edwardsville Intelligencer.

Trump may poison the party, but Republicans have decided they need him: “A delicate dance is underway to keep some distance from the ex-president while also letting him know he’s beloved and welcomed,” by POLITICO’s Gabby Orr and Meridith McGraw.

Illinois businessman among Trump-inspired big donors planning their own campaigns: “Gary Rabine has plowed cash into the pro-Donald Trump organization Turning Point USA, shelled out thousands of dollars to the former president’s reelection campaign and raised big bucks with Donald Trump Jr. Now, Rabine is striking out on his own — and plotting a run for Illinois governor,” writes POLITICO’s Alex Isenstadt.

‘Quincy made it inside’: 2 more Illinoisans charged in Capitol breach: “The case against Christina and Jason Gerding of Quincy appears to be the first from Illinois to directly reference the QAnon conspiracy,” reports Sun-Times’ Jon Seidel.

Illinois tax revenue losses lower than expected during pandemic, U. of I. study finds: “The pandemic hit state tax revenues hard last spring when a widely restrictive stay-at-home order was in effect, but much of that early loss was recovered in subsequent months, according to the report from the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government and Public Affairs,” by Tribune’s Jamie Munks.

At Pentagon’s request, Pritzker sends 500 National Guard troops to D.C.: “The deployment comes a day after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin laying out concerns of ‘a heightened threat environment across the United States,’” by Tribune’s Jenny Whidden.

Welch’s priorities: Pandemic housing, ethics, restorative justice: Newly inaugurated Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch has signaled some of his legislative priorities with the creation of special committees on ethics and elections, restorative justice, and housing and immigration. ‘We want to continue to be the voice of the most vulnerable,’ he said. ‘But I also think one of the things that we need to focus on is rebuilding trust in the legislature and the legislative process,’” he told Tribune’s Jamie Munks.

Durkin says Welch’s style and offer of talks over coffee are ‘refreshing’: “The conversations Republican Jim Durkin’s had with Democrat Emanuel ‘Chris’ Welch leave Durkin hopeful that this General Assembly will be markedly different than those led by Mike Madigan,” writes Sun-Times’ Rachel Hinton.

More on Illinois’ population drop: “A decline in immigration and shrinking economic opportunities in Illinois are big reasons why the state continues to lose population, while an equity-focused effort to grow the economy could help reverse that trend coming out of the pandemic, so says a leading Chicago-area regional planning official. ‘It’s really important that we as a state really shore up some of these areas where there’s opportunity,’ said Erin Aleman, executive director of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP),” by WBEZ’s Esther Yoon-Ji Kang.

New state jobless claims remain above 100K, reports One Illinois Ted Cox

No in-person classes Friday as CPS, CTU continue talks to avert strike: “The heated public rhetoric that has engulfed the district’s relationship with the union was toned down, at least for a day,” by Sun-Times’ Nader Issa.

CPS moving ahead with Monday reopening, reports WBEZ’s Sarah Karp.

In Chinatown, county was going to let owner keep mall but erase years of property taxes: “The neighborhood is hardly blighted. But, if not for its lawyer, the Cook County Land Bank Authority would have wiped out 6 years of unpaid taxes, given back the property for $3,500,” by Sun-Times’ Tim Novak and Lauren FitzPatrick.

SC Johnson steps forward to fund Beale’s $250,000 Roseland ‘cop house’: “This is a great tool that they fund elsewhere. They wanted to bring it to my community,” Ald. Anthony Beale told the Sun-Times. “To have a Fortune 100 company step up to the plate in my ward is really a tribute to what we’ve been able to do out here.” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman

Housing advocates in Chicago aiming to help tenants ahead of a potential wave of evictions:Despite a state moratorium, aid groups say they’re hearing more from renters facing illegal evictions or facing tactics meant to drive them out,” by Sun-Times’ Elvia Malagón.

10 years ago, ‘Snowmageddon’ hit Chicago: Tom Skilling, an unlucky architect caught on Lake Shore Drive, and a bride and groom look back, by Tribune’s William Lee.

More snow this weekend, reports Tribune’s Jessica Villagomez

Alderman once again seeks legislation to protect Chicagoans from water shutoffs: “The Water-For-All ordinance was initially introduced by Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, 35th Ward, in 2017, but it didn’t garner enough support. When he reintroduced the ordinance on Wednesday, an additional 12 aldermen had signed on as co-sponsors. And water rights advocates said the pandemic has increased the chance of getting more support because people understand how crucial it is to have access to water during a pandemic,” by WBEZ’s María Inés Zamudio.

City’s yearly homeless count could help stem spread of Covid-19: “Officials say this year’s count will help them determine how the pandemic has affected Chicago residents and what resources are needed for those who have lost housing. It will also ensure that staff can engage with people without shelter and identify their possible locations to connect them with those administering the vaccine once it becomes available for them, said Quenjana Adams, spokesperson for the city Department of Family and Support Services,” by Tribune’s

Park District working to heal environment, ecosystem at Big Marsh Park, by WTTW’s Patty Wetli

Cook Board unanimously passes ordinance strengthening renters’ rights: “Cook County Board commissioners unanimously approved Thursday a suburban residential tenant and landlord ordinance that was hailed by proponents as a victory for hundreds of thousands of renters without such protections but condemned by real estate groups. The legislation cements regulations for landlords throughout the county with the exceptions of Chicago, Evanston and Mount Prospect, which already have such codes. Once it goes into effect in June, the entire county will have some form of an ordinance governing its leases,” by Tribune’s Alice Yin.

Tiger’s hip implant dislodges day after surgery at Brookfield Zoo, so surgeons will have to remove it: “Following the initial surgery, 10-year-old Malena started moving around and exerted too much force on her leg — something veterinarians feared. The 250-pound Amur tiger will now have another operation,” by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba.

Space heater may have caused Des Plaines fire that killed 4 sisters, mom; plus, no smoke detectors: “The building is owned by Manuel Espinoza, and it has a history of property maintenance code enforcement violations that were the result of resident and neighbor complaints, according to a statement… Some of the violations included illegal burning, unregistered vehicles and debris. There is an active code enforcement case pending,” by Tribune’s Paige Fry.

CTA unveils new Red Line station designs: “The station makeovers at Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr are part of the $4.7 billion Red and Purple Modernization Project,” by Sun-Times’ Cindy Hernandez (includes pictures of renditions).

14-year-olds charged in carjackings include 2 girls accused of putting victim in chokehold: Another teen is charged in nine carjackings and robberies since July, reports Sun-Times’ Cindy Hernandez

— GOP PARTY PAUSE: The Republican State Central Committee has canceled Saturday’s meeting to name a new party chair. The meeting was supposed to be in Bolingbrook (not Bloomington, as I mistakenly stated on Thursday). Some downstate committee members were concerned about their return home as snow is forecast for Saturday evening, according to a spokesman. The plan is to hold the meeting Feb. 6.

Kinzinger’s criticism of Trump puts focus on divide in Illinois GOP: “The Republican State Central Committee will meet Feb. 6 to decide among three candidates for outgoing Chairman Tim Schneider. But some in the party want to use the forum to discuss Kinzinger and a possible reprimand for his anti-Trump statements, which increased in vitriol following the Nov. 2 election and the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters,” by Tribune’s Rick Pearson.

Kinzinger talks to Axelrod about his impeachment vote: Rep. Adam Kinzinger is willing to lose his seat over his vote to impeach then-President Donald Trump, the Illinois Republican told CNN’s David Axelrod during an episode of "The Axe Files" podcast released Thursday. "I did it knowing full well it could very well be terminal to my career," Kinzinger said of his vote. "But I also knew that I couldn’t live with myself having, you know, try to just protect it and just felt like the one time I was called to do a really tough duty, I didn’t do it."

And Kinzinger addresses his evangelical roots with The Atlantic’s Emma Green.

Durbin, Graham teaming up on immigration bill: “Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are introducing DREAM Act legislation next week, as senators look for a long elusive immigration deal. Durbin told reporters on Thursday that it would be the starting base for broader negotiations within the Judiciary Committee and the Senate,” by the Hill.

Rep. Garcia and the New Way Forward Act that could disrupt the prison-to-deportation pipeline: “A group of congressional Democrats, led by U.S. Rep. Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia of Illinois, is renewing the push for sweeping legislation that would dismantle many segments of the so-called prison-to-deportation pipeline,” by Injustice Watch’s Carlos Ballesteros.

‘For Christ’s sake, watch yourself’: Biden warns family over business dealings, by POLITICO’s Natasha Korecki, Theodoric Meyer, and Tyler Pager

‘I’m just furious’: Relations in Congress crack after attack, by POLITICO’s Sarah Ferris and Melanie Zanona

‘Betrayed’: Republicans urge Biden to change course on stimulus, by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett, Marianne LeVine and Laura Barron-Lopez.

‘Most powerful person in Illinois state government’ set to retire: “Vicki Thomas, who will retire as head of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules after this week, has occasionally been asked what it feels like being the most powerful person in Illinois state government. She’s heard of JCAR referred to as ‘obscure but powerful.’ …It’s a question that evokes her laughter,” reports Capitol News’ Sarah Mansur.

— Zach Koutsky has started Berteau Consulting, a Chicago-based boutique government relations and political advocacy firm. He previously was legislative and political director at Local 881 United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

Speaking of Zach: On Jan. 26, government consultant Zach Koutsky and Stephanie Koutsky, co-owner of ReachABA Behavioral Therapy, welcomed Hayden David Koutsky, who was born at 6.8 pounds. “Here’s to being a family of 5!” says dad. Pic!

Wednesday: Evanston mayoral candidate Daniel Biss, a former state senator, discusses his public safety platform during a virtual event. Register here.

THURSDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to Ben Noble, speechwriter at Argonne National Laboratory, for correctly answering that Joyce Tucker was the first Black woman to serve in a Cabinet of an Illinois governor. She was director for the Illinois Department of Human Rights in Gov. James R. Thompson’s administration in the 1980s.

TODAY’s QUESTION: The Illinois House recently rented the Bank of Springfield Center for $5,000 a day (excluding all extra costs). How much did it cost to rent the first Illinois Capitol Building in Kaskaskia? Email to skapos@politico.com.

Today: Cook County Board of Review’s Mike Cabonargi, who’s celebrating the big 5-0; Greene County Dem Central Committee Chair Jimmy Naville; former Dem House Rep. Julie Hamos (who now is senior adviser at Office of Medicaid Innovation); and Oprah!

Saturday: POLITICO White House reporter Natasha Korecki, former Ald. Ricardo Munoz, and radio personality Maze Jackson, who’s celebrating the big 5-0.

Sunday: Cook County Circuit Court Judge Laura Ayala-Gonzalez, Catholic Charities Chicago marketing director Marty Malone, and Four Stars Initiatives CEO Tweed Thornton.

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January 29, 2021 at 07:07AM

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