Good Monday morning, Illinois. There was more drama in Illinois politics over the weekend than what we saw in the Super Bowl.
Two new Black state senators joined the Democratic caucus over the weekend, and Republicans named a new party chairman from Springfield. We’ll take them one by one:
In a stunning move, a Democratic committee led by Chicago Ald. Harry Osterman named Michael Simmons the state senator to the 7th District over Rep. Kelly Cassidy, who had been seen as the front-runner for the job.
Cassidy is a veteran lawmaker with Democratic cachet — she helped steer the comprehensive cannabis law in 2019, for example. She was competing among seven candidates for the seat vacated by Heather Steans.
Simmons also stood out. He’s a Black, gay man raised in the district and who’s worked as an aide to Sen. Dick Durbin, policy director for County Commissioner Bridget Gainer, and deputy commissioner for Planning and Development under former Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Most recently, Simmons has been deputy director for youth programs at the Obama Foundation.
Osterman, whose vote was pivotal in Simmons’ appointment, called the new senator “uniquely qualified” to represent the diverse district. “It was his background, who he is as a person, how he connects with the neighborhood in a very grounded way, made a huge impression on me and made a huge impression on other committee members who supported him,” Osterman told Playbook. The approval from constituents has been overwhelming, he noted after receiving numerous calls and texts.
For his part, Simmons told Playbook he’s excited to get to work. “There are a lot of disenfranchised people in the community. It’s a lot of responsibility and a lot of pressure but I feel like I’m ready. It’s a community I deeply love and I’m excited to go to bat for them,” he said.
Behind the scenes, critics to the process say politics played a role in the selection (shocker, right?). Cassidy didn’t want to make a deal with Democratic committee members who said they’d vote for her if she backed one of their own players to move up to her House seat. Others wondered if Osterman was attempting to inoculate himself in the next aldermanic election. And there are conspiracy theorists who think former House Speaker Michael Madigan was seeking revenge on Cassidy, a critic.
Osterman dismissed the political talk saying “it diminishes the work we did in selecting an outstanding guy who is well-qualified.”
Sean Tenner, the 46th Ward representative on the appointment committee, noted the historic nature of Simmons’ selection. He is the first person of color to represent the north side of Chicago in the General Assembly. The Senate district stretches from Uptown to the southern tip of Evanston. “For generations there have been large minority communities in this part of Chicago. Now is the right time to have a person of color representing this area in the legislature,” he told Playbook.
SECOND HISTORIC SENATE APPOINTMENT: Doris Turner, a Springfield alderman, was appointed to the state Senate seat vacated by former Sen. Andy Manar on Saturday. Democratic County chairs met in Springfield to make the appointment. Turner was sworn in soon after. Manar resigned Jan. 17 after eight years in the Illinois Senate to become a senior adviser to Gov. J.B. Pritzker. "I am thankful to receive the support and appointment of the county chairs’ in the 48th District," Turner told the State Journal-Register. "This is an honor of a lifetime and not something that I will take for granted." Turner’s appointment is historic, as she is the first Black person to represent Springfield and Sangamon County in the state legislature.
SPRINGFIELD ATTORNEY DON TRACY was named chairman of the Illinois Republican Party on Saturday, a move that signals the direction of the state GOP.
Republican Central Committee members backed Tracy, a former state Gaming Board chairman who ran unsuccessfully as lieutenant governor in 2010, by 52 percent. Mark Shaw, the Lake County Republican chairman, received 48 percent of the vote. Scott Gryder, chairman of the Kendall County Board, also sought the appointment. The committee members agreed to support Tracy unanimously.
In an interview after the appointment, Tracy said his number one goal is to unify the party. Like the national GOP, Illinois Republicans have been split on how to move forward in the wake of Donald Trump‘s presidency.
“Individually we can be strong, but united we’re a force. I’m going to be pounding on that again and again,” he told Playbook. “It’s a huge challenge in some ways but that will be job No. 1.”
The issue is playing out in Illinois and across the country as Republicans come to terms with how to deal with criticism of the former president. Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger, for example, has called for Trump’s impeachment, a point that has divided Republicans in the state as well as in Washington, D.C.
Tracy doesn’t agree with Kinzinger’s views but doesn’t think he should be censured for them, either.
“I support Ronald Reagan’s 80 percent rule,” Tracy said. “If someone agrees with you 80 percent of the time, they’re still your friend and ally. We need to build the party and expand the party and not excommunicate people because of a single or occasional political disagreement.”
Tracy takes a similar view of the downstate vs. Chicago divide that has separated many lawmakers. It’s not geography that has created the divide, he says, but issues.
His platform — at least so far, on day one: strong families, strong market economy, strong safety, efficient government and school choice. “They’re the core values of the Republican party. Whether you’re a farmer or union worker in southern Illinois or a soccer mom or executive in northern Illinois, they’re issues we can agree on.”
Looking at 2022, Tracy says the goal will be to try to capture the U.S. Senate seat that’s up, the governor’s office and legislative seats that have left Republicans in minority positions. “We united as a party” to defeat the graduated income tax amendment, he said. “We fired on all cylinders. And that’s what we need to do for 2022.”
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At South Shore Cultural Center at 1:30 p.m. to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Sisters in Cinema Media Arts Center, a Neighborhood Opportunity Fund recipient.
No official public events.
No official public events.
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Sunday reported 48 additional deaths and 2,060 new confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from Jan. 31 through Feb. 6 is 3.4 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 5.0 percent.
— U.K. coronavirus variant spreading rapidly through United States, study finds: “The coronavirus variant that shut down much of the United Kingdom is spreading rapidly across the United States, outcompeting other strains and doubling its prevalence among confirmed infections every week and a half, according to new research made public Sunday," by the Washington Post’s Joel Achenbach.
— Biden’s vaccine ad campaign hits roadblock: Not enough doses: “Administration officials are wary of launching a promised campaign promoting vaccination while doses are still in limited supply,” by POLITICO’s Adam Cancryn.
— Highly contagious UK coronavirus strain detected in Lake County: “Someone who traveled internationally during December tested positive for the first known Lake County Covid-19 case with the highly contagious variant first detected in the United Kingdom, according to a weekend news release from the Lake County Health Department. While the person was abroad, they came in contact with someone who was sick, according to the release,” Lake County News-Sun’s Steve Sadin reports.
— Cook County public health co-lead loses both her parents to Covid-19 in ‘surreal’ two-week span: “As one of Cook County’s authoritative voices on the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Rachel Rubin spent nearly all of 2020 crafting mitigation policies as the virus claimed hundreds of thousands of American lives. In Illinois, Covid-19 killed more than 16,000 people and sickened over 960,000 by the end of the year,” by Tribune’s Alice Yin.
— Late planning, decentralized oversight, a ‘Hunger Games’ sign-up: How Illinois has struggled more than most states rolling out the vaccine, by Tribune’s Joe Mahr and Angie Leventis Lourgos
— The vaccines that could stop Covid-19: Several candidates are in late-stage clinical trials, via POLITICO.
— Lightfoot: Chicago Public Schools and teachers union reach a tentative reopening deal ‘at long last’: “Union officials indicated a vote by CTU’s 25,000 members could begin late Monday or Tuesday, but only after the House of Delegates decides whether to send the vote to the full membership. With a big smile on her face, Lightfoot kicked off a noon news conference by announcing ‘the very good news that our children will be returning to in-person learning this week,’” by Tribune’s Hannah Leone, Gregory Pratt and Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas.
… CTU gives mixed response to CPS’ latest reopening proposal, by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba and Madeline Kenney
… Here’s what’s in the proposal, via Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba
… Some Latino parents say their voices in support of schools opening are being drowned out in the debate, by WBEZ’s Adriana Cardona-Maguigad
… Lawmakers backing CTU also received campaign donations from the teachers union, writes Patch’s Mark Konkol
— Police brass acknowledge they could be more transparent: “Chicago police leaders acknowledged needing to do a better job being transparent with the public as their department is under continuing pressure to implement court-enforced reforms. This admission came from police Superintendent David Brown and one of his closest deputies during an hourlong question-and-answer session with reporters about a voluminous document summarizing CPD’s reform efforts,” by Tribune’s Jeremy Gorner.
— Alderman’s complaint sparks CPD investigation for journalist’s source: “Progressive Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez filed a CPD complaint to find the source who leaked a CPD memo to a Sun-Times reporter,” by Sun-Times’ Matthew Hendrickson.
— Jesse Jackson discharged to rehab center after 8 days in hospital: “The Rev. Jesse Jackson was discharged Saturday after undisclosed surgery and eight days at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The civil rights leader was transferred to the Northwestern-affiliated Shirley Ryan AbilityLab for rehab. Calls of best wishes have flowed in, including from President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris,” by Sun-Times’ Maudlyne Ihejirika.
— Judge rules Trump hotel in Chicago violated Illinois environmental laws: “Judge Sophia H. Hall’s one-page ruling is the latest development in a case brought to public attention in 2018, when the Chicago Tribune revealed the Trump International Hotel & Tower was the only downtown high-rise that had failed to take legally mandated steps to protect fish in the rapidly improving waterway,” by Tribune’s Michael Hawthorne.
— Citing ‘legacy of environmental racism,’ City Hall urged to consider Southeast Side residents’ health: “Chicago city planners are re-examining industrial corridors this year. A new study says they need to consider the impact chemicals and other pollutants have on health,” by Sun-Times’ Brett Chase.
— Plan to beautify 50 vacant lots falls short nearly two years later: “Only 35 vacant lots have been identified and just two of those lots have been fully beautified with mulch, fencing and raised planting beds,” by Sun-Times’ Manny Ramos.
— ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ a powerful flashback to when a rat took down a Panther: “Period piece skillfully recreates the tension of late 1960s Chicago, with brilliant acting by Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton and LaKeith Stanfield as the man who betrayed him,” by Sun-Times’ Richard Roeper.
— Felony charges for NW Side man accused of posting photo of Pelosi sign during U.S. Capitol breach: “At least four other Illinoisans are among more than a hundred people who have been charged nationwide as a result of the deadly pro-Trump riot,” by Sun-Times’ Mitchell Armentrout.
— Where Democrats and Republicans agree on Trump: “Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial in as many years has Democrats and Republicans in rare agreement: Most senators want to get it over with, and they want the former president to go away,” by POLITICO’s Andrew Desiderio.
— FROM POLITICO’s Tina Nguyen: “I spent 11 hours inside the MAGA bubble: One America News is making a play for the pro-Trump audience, but it’s missing its star player. Here’s what I saw during a day-long binge.”
— Democrats’ big shift in Trump’s second impeachment: “Senate Democrats aren’t pressing hard to include witnesses in the upcoming trial,” by POLITICO’s Marianne LeVine.
— Support centers for trauma survivors expanding in Illinois: In 2017, state Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, whose son was murdered in 2014, helped get public funding for two trauma recovery centers in the state. “Now those efforts are expanding, with three new recovery centers opening this winter. Experts say the sort of help being offered at these centers is a critical tool to help reduce violent crime and provide real justice for victims,” reports WBEZ’s Patrick Smith.
— Julius Rosenwald’s legacy lives on: Law in his honor to bring multi-site national park: “First steps toward the creation of a multi-site national park honoring the Springfield-born philanthropist are underway. Last month, the Julius Rosenwald and the Rosenwald Schools Act of 2020 was signed into law. The bill directs the Department of the Interior to study sites associated with the life and legacy of Rosenwald, who was part owner of the Sears, Roebuck and Co.,” by the State Journal-Register’s Natalie Pierre.
— Gambling addiction grows with Illinois’ booming sports betting industry — ‘It’s in your face all the time’: “The number of Illinoisans seeking help for problem gambling has almost doubled since legislators approved a massive gambling expansion in 2019. Experts expect that number to keep growing,” by Sun-Times’ Mitchell Armentrout and Sam Kelly.
Melrose Park Mayor Ronald Serpico used racial slur while berating resident at public meeting: “In a recording of the exchange, the suburban mayor can be heard using a slew of obscenities and a racial epithet for Black people,” by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba.
— College instructors question why they should wait longer for shots than Illinois K-12 educators: “Under the state’s vaccination plan, most college instructors won’t be eligible to receive Covid-19 inoculations until phase 1c, though their counterparts in primary schools can get the shots now. That distinction frustrates higher education employees who say faculty and staff with in-person roles must be vaccinated with the same urgency, regardless of what grade level they teach,” by Tribune’s Elyssa Cherney.
— Dozens of students at Lake Forest College in quarantine after Covid outbreak: According to school President Stephen Schutt, “12 students tested positive within the span of two days and are in isolation. Another 28 students who had close contact with one or more of the 12 are also quarantined in their rooms,” reports Sam Borcia of Lake & McHenry Scanner.
Sirat K. Attapit, an Illinois native, has been named Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Intergovernmental Affairs by the Biden administration. Attapit most recently served as director of legislative affairs for California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. (Biden has nominated Becerra to be his secretary of Health and Human Services.) Before that, Attapit spent 12 years in various positions in the U.S. House, U.S. Senate and the Illinois General Assembly, where she served as an assistant counsel to former House Speaker Michael Madigan. Attapit holds a law degree and MBA from the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Chicago-Kent College of Law and Stuart School of Business, respectively, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
— Inside Bidenworld’s plan to punish the GOP for opposing Covid relief, by Christopher Cadelago and Natasha Korecki
— Buttigieg dodges on more airline payroll Covid relief, by POLITICO’s Stephanie Beasley
— Dems try to shoehorn major child poverty reduction plan into Covid bill, by POLITICO’s Sam Stein
Rich Jacobs is chief of staff to the Office of the Aldermen in the City of Aurora. Jacobs is the former chief of staff to state Sen. Cristina Castro.
George Shultz, American statesman, dies at 100: “He was a pillar of quiet strength and integrity in the Nixon and Reagan administrations,” by POLITICO’s David Cohen.
FRIDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to Robert Christie, external affairs senior VP at Northwestern Medicine, and Breakwater Chicago co-founder Ashvin Lad for being first to correctly answer that Illinois Gov. Edward Coles once counted Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe as neighbors.
TODAY’s QUESTION: What part of Illinois was once referred to as Forgotonia and why? Email to [email protected].
Henry Haupt, downstate press secretary for Jesse White; Peter Gariepy, CPA and former city treasurer candidate; Salesforce’s Matt Jaffe; and Community Media Workshop’s co-founder Thom Clark.
February 8, 2021 at 08:01AM