TGIF, Illinois. “Ice along the Chicago shoreline may look like how your spirit feels: flattened like a pancake,” writes the Tribune’s Morgan Greene.
BREAKING this morning: The Senate approved a budget resolution early Friday morning to speed passage of President Joe Biden’s pandemic aid plan without the need for Republican buy-in. And Vice President Kamala Harris broke the tie, reports POLITICO’s Caitlin Emma and Jennifer Scholtes
Chicago Democratic committee leaders meet Saturday to appoint a replacement for state Sen. Heather Steans, who announced two weeks ago that she’s stepping down from a position she was reelected to in November.
In a surprise development, it appears state Rep. Kelly Cassidy isn’t a shoo-in for the job. Some committee members are expected to vote for Michael Simmons, deputy director of My Brother’s Keeper (which is part of the Obama Foundation) and a former policy director for the city’s Department of Planning. He is Black, and some members on the committee say it’s time the district was represented by a person of color.
Cassidy, who is white, threw her hat in the ring so quickly it appeared a fait accompli that the Senate seat was hers. That’s how these appointments have gone over the years. One person steps aside before his or her term is up and allows an ally to ease in.
But that may not be the case this time around. Ald. Harry Osterman, who heads the Democratic committee that will vote on the appointment, has made a concerted effort to make the process transparent, holding numerous candidate forums. It’s unusual for the appointment process to include constituents in the process, since it’s committee members who make the call.
Cassidy, who is on the appointment committee, has handed her vote over to Ald. Maria Hadden to serve as a proxy. The Senate seat encompasses Osterman’s 48th Ward and Hadden’s 49th Ward. Hadden’s ward made its own endorsement decision and backed Cassidy, so it’s expected Hadden will too.
Osterman, who has the largest weighted vote, hasn’t discussed how he’ll vote.
There’s heightened public interest in the appointment. It’s due in part to the “hyper-sensitivity that snowballed in the aftermath of the Trump election and resistance,” says 46th Ward Committeeperson Sean Tenner, who’s on the panel making the appointment. “There is sensitivity after a year of reckoning about race and equity. Constituents of the 7th District Senate seat want representation that reflects their community, a diverse mix of Black, Latino, Asian and white residents.”
The accessibility of online forums has also created interest, which is an unexpected bright spot from sheltering in.
Virtual candidate forums have been flooded with constituents — 60, 70 and close to 100 people have showed up on one Zoom or another in recent days — who want to know the candidates. Even Saturday’s appointment will be public via Zoom.
The attention has prompted interest in other candidates, too. Also applying are Joseph Alfe, an attorney and financial representative; Angela Giles, an African American investment banking executive; Justin Koziatek, district director for Cook County Commissioner Kevin Morrison; and Joseph Struck, a sales executive.
We’ll have the results on Monday.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is losing patience with the slow pace of negotiations to get Chicago Public Schools children back in the classroom.
“Time’s up,” she said Thursday at a City Hall news conference. “We are failing those children by not giving them the options to return to school. Failing grades. Depression. Isolation. And so much more. That’s why we must get a deal done and get it done now without further delay.”
Up until now, Lightfoot has agreed to move her lines just enough to keep the conversation going on when teachers should return — a strategy the Chicago Teachers Union has used to push her even harder. The question now is whether drawing this line means a strike is imminent.
CTU says the school district is to blame for the failure to reach a resolution. Union leaders say CPS has rejected federal Covid-19 reopening metrics and refused to let all staff with medically vulnerable household members work remotely.
CTU President Jesse Sharkey said the two sides still needed agreements on a phase-in plan, along with other items noted in a bargaining update Wednesday, according to sources who spoke to the Tribune.
Meanwhile, nearly two dozen state lawmakers signed a letter Thursday urging the mayor to further compromise. Legislators made five key requests: reach an agreement with the CTU, agree not to lock anyone out of remote work platforms before reaching an agreement, accelerate vaccinations for staff, include parents on school health and safety committees, and improve remote learning. “It is our belief that there should be no in-person return to learning prior to the second semester’s start on February 8 and that a return to in-person learning be phased in.”
And the clock keeps ticking.
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No official public events.
At Auburn High School Field House in Rockford at 11:30 a.m. to tour the Winnebago County vaccination site.
No official public events.
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Thursday reported 69 deaths and 3,328 new confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus. That’s a total of 19,444 fatalities and 1,137,559 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from Jan. 28 through Feb. 3 is 3.4 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 5.2 percent.
— Biden health team hatches new vaccine strategy as variant threat builds: “The FDA’s acting director, Janet Woodcock, said in a statement Thursday that the agency would release updates soon,” by POLITICO’s Sarah Owermohle and David Lim.
— Johnson & Johnson files for emergency use of Covid-19 shot: “The vaccine is a single dose shot that experts say is key to vaccinating vulnerable, hard-to-reach and even skeptical people,” by POLITICO’s Sarah Owermohle.
— Arctic blast to close 4 city Covid testing sites: “The facilities, which offer a test made by Curative, require staff members and volunteers to work outside to test people inside their cars, Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, announced. While the city winterized the facilities, the severe drop in temperatures means it will not be safe for anyone to be outside for an extended period of time,” WTTW’s Heather Cherone reports.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger was one of 11 House Republicans who voted to strip Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments after a series of inflammatory remarks resurfaced, including promoting a conspiracy theory that questioned the veracity of the 9/11 attacks and endorsing the assassination of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
In a roughly five-minute speech, Greene distanced herself from her record of promoting conspiracy theories including QAnon, declaring, "I walked away from those things," and she said she did "regret" supporting those falsehoods. "School shootings are absolutely real… I also want to tell you 9/11 absolutely happened," Greene said. Let it sink in that a member of Congress was compelled to state those facts.
The vote comes at a critical moment for the Republican Party as it grapples with its identity in a new era where Donald Trump is out of office but still looms large and wields significant power, report POLITICO’s Heather Caygle and Sarah Ferris.
The Illinois GOP is at a similar turning point. The state Republican State Central Committee is meeting Saturday to decide who will replace outgoing Chairman Tim Schneider. The appointment could indicate the direction of the GOP in Illinois.
LaSalle County Republicans censured Congressman Kinzinger for his vote to impeach Trump. The view on censure by the next GOP chairman could have a great impact on the direction of the party.
Sun-Times’ Rachel Hinton spoke to some members of the GOP Central Committee. And their message to her is that keeping party unity is essential for the next chairman.
“Illinois is such a diverse state regionally and culturally, ethnically, religiously, and I think the next chairman really needs to be one of those experts at bringing all of those different interests [together] — you know, the rural people, the suburban people, the inner city people,” Jay Reyes, who represents the 4th Congressional District in Chicago and the nearby suburbs, told Hinton.
TODAY at 8 a.m.: National Playbook co-author Eugene Daniels discusses the future of the GOP after Trump and the power struggle inside the party with former Republican Rep. Denver Riggleman of Virginia. You can watch live.
— Lightfoot: I wasn’t elected to ‘win a popularity contest with the City Council’: The mayor defends her relationship with the City Council, saying, “I don’t buy votes. I never have and never will. I’m different in every single way than any other mayor that’s ever been here before. … Some folks are comfortable with that. Some are not.” Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman reports.
… But with her re-election bid two years away, some business leaders are scouting for a challenger, according to Crain’s Greg Hinz.
— Southeast Side activists go on hunger strike to stop scrap shredder: Opponents of the project say policy decisions allowing the shredder to be moved the heavily populated community are “immoral — if not illegal — examples of environmental racism. On Thursday, three of the activists escalated their campaign against the shredder by launching a hunger strike, supported online by religious leaders and community groups,” reports Tribune’s Michael Hawthorne.
— FROM THE WATCHDOGS: Cardinal Blase Cupich demanding details on abusive order priests but won’t post findings: “The Archdiocese of Chicago has been getting explicit details from religious orders on problem priests in the area for over two years. But it’s keeping that information secret. Some orders won’t release it, either,” by Sun-Times’ Robert Herguth.
— Chicago teachers forced to compete with each other to secure Covid-19 vaccination slots: “Getting teachers vaccinated before they return is a major sticking point in negotiation between CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union. The resumption of in-person classes has been pushed back until at least Monday while negotiations continue. But as the city grapples with a limited vaccine supply, securing appointments is shaping up to be a long and slow process for CPS staff, as well as for teachers in Catholic and private schools,” reports WBEZ’s Adriana Cardona-Maguigad.
— Weeks of no mail provokes anger among Englewood aldermen, residents: “A Postal Service spokesman apologized for service disruptions at the Englewood post office and said that location suffers from a shortage of staff, but is ‘using available resources to match the workload created by the impacts of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic,’” by Sun-Times’ Manny Ramos.
— Sky’s the limit for new science museum CEO: “Chevy Humphrey is the MSI’s new president and CEO, and the first Black woman to hold that post. She arrived on the job in mid-January, her work cut out for her, professionally and personally. To get the MSI, shuttered like most everything else worthwhile by the Covid pandemic, back open and running, visited by streams — whoops, make that properly masked and socially-distanced individual raindrops — of awestruck visitors. And, at the same time, to adapt herself to a new climate, region and city after a lifetime — she’s 56 — in the sunny Southwest,” by Sun-Times’ Neil Steinberg.
— Exonerated police torture survivor James Gibson reflects on identity, faith, and reentry after 29 years in prison: “Every day, my faith was tested—in the depths of the Cook County Jail, the Joliet Correctional Center, Menard Correctional Center, and the Pontiac Correctional Center. But during this journey, I never knew who I was because all I did was fight and fight every day for my freedom. That didn’t leave me much time to think about my identity or who I was to become. I became numb; I didn’t have time to feel. All I knew how to do was get up every day, thank God, and fight for my freedom,” he tells Injustice Watch.
— Triple Crown restaurant, a Chinatown mainstay, facing eviction after losses attributed to economic downturn: “With more than $184,000 in rent due, according to a court document, second-generation owner Spencer Ng said that Triple Crown’s inability to make payments has been the result of Covid-19 restrictions on indoor dining. Ng is challenging the eviction, though he is somewhat resigned to its eventuality,” reports Tribune’s Adam Lukach.
— $22K flute left on Blue Line train recovered from Chicago pawn shop, returned to traveling musician, by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the former White House Press Secretary and Arkansas gubernatorial candidate, will headline the Illinois Right to Life banquet scheduled for April 30. The event will also feature conservative radio talk show host Dan Proft. This is a live event that includes a cocktail party and dinner.
— GOOD READ: Where and why Illinois is losing population: “More people left our state than any other in the 2010s. Part of the problem: Unlike elsewhere, there’s been no urban growth to offset rural decline,” writes Edward McClelland for Chicago magazine.
— Illinois board of education proposes culturally responsive teaching standards: “The new standards will train educators — regardless of their racial or economic background — to address implicit bias, systems of oppression in society, value students’ lived experiences, create relationships with students’ families and communities, and represent students’ identities in curriculum. This is the latest effort by the state to ensure that teachers are able to connect with students of color in meaningful ways that will help them excel academically,” reports Chalkbeat Chicago’s Samantha Smylie.
— Illinois officials give preliminary approval for a Rockford casino: “In announcing his support for the $310 million Rockford plan, the gaming board’s chairman, Charles Schmadeke, said officials were taking a close look at the investors in the project and reserved the right to rule out anybody who could be deemed unsuitable to profit from legalized gambling in Illinois,” reports WBEZ’s Dan Mihalopoulos.
— State Republicans introduce ‘Voter Empowerment Project’: “Republican leaders in both chambers want Illinois voters to have more power in the legislative process. They hope their Democratic colleagues will help pass a package of resolutions to allow residents to amend the state’s constitution. Senate and House GOP members call this a ‘voter empowerment project.’ In short, Republicans want to give residents more opportunities to repeal unpopular laws and remove corrupt politicians. The leaders feel these ideas could bring checks and balances back to state government following decades under one man’s rules,” by the WEEK’s Mike Miletich.
Democratic Cook County Commissioner Kevin Morrison and a group of suburban mayors sent a letter to the Illinois congressional delegation to support a Covid-19 relief package that includes funding for local governments and businesses. “We cannot wait any longer. We need relief, and we call on you to act now,” the bipartisan group wrote.
Prosecutors again ask for higher bond for Kenosha protest shooter Kyle Rittenhouse, saying he thinks ‘rules do not apply to him’: “The filing by Kenosha County prosecutors came a day after they sought an arrest warrant for Rittenhouse and for $200,000 to be added on top of the $2 million bond his lawyers posted in November, alleging he has failed to tell the courts where he is living,” writes Tribune’s Dan Hinkel.
Duckworth wants EPA to install metal emission monitors at Sauget incinerator: “Sen. Tammy Duckworth is calling on the new acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to install multimetal emissions monitoring at Veolia Environmental Services’ incinerator. The Illinois Democrat made her request to Jane Nishida in a letter last week, after another government agency determined it could not conduct a health consultation in the communities that surround Veolia’s plant,” by St. Louis Public Radio’s Eric Schmid.
— Biden’s plans for recovery imperiled by swelling ranks of long-term jobless, by POLITICO’s Megan Cassella
— Big Trump donors converge on Newsom recall, by POLITICO’s Alex Isenstadt
— Trump won’t testify at his second impeachment trial, by Andrew Desiderio and Sarah Ferris
Tony Leone, former clerk of the House, Springfield businessman, dies, by State Journal-Register’s Steven Spearie
LaKeisha Marsh has been named chair of the national government Affairs and Public Policy Practice Group at Akerman LLP. She assumed the role Feb. 1 and succeeds Richard Spees. Marsh also serves as the chair of Akerman’s Higher Education and Collegiate Athletics Practice, representing colleges, universities and related government institutions. She counts the NCAA as a client.
THURSDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to Chicago State University chief of staff to the president’s office Kim H. Tran, Freeport City Manager Randy Bukas, and Ready Nation state director Sean Noble for being first to correctly answer that former Illinois Sen. James Shields also was elected to the U.S. Senate in Minnesota and Missouri.
TODAY’s QUESTION: Which Illinois governor grew up as a neighbor to both Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe? Email to [email protected].
Today: Comms strategist DeRondal Bevly, artist Suzette Bross Bulley, reform activist Lowell Jaffe, and Block Club reporter Hannah Alani.
Saturday: House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, state Capital Development Board Executive Director Jim Underwood, Illinois Senate Dems comms director Reena Tandon, U.S. House legislative aide Tommy Brown, and remembering late President Ronald Reagan, who was born on this day in 1911 in Tampico, Ill.
Sunday: State Rep. Robyn Gabel (18th), Champaign County Clerk Aaron Ammons, Durbin comms director Emily Hampsten, philanthropist Maureen Dwyer Smith, and Hellenic American Leadership Council Executive Director Endy Zemenides.
February 5, 2021 at 07:45AM