Good Monday morning, Illinois. Get out the swimsuits — we’ve cracked freezing!
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Jahmal Cole, the charismatic founder of My Block, My Hood, My City nonprofit in Chicago is running for the 1st Congressional District seat held by veteran Rep. Bobby Rush.
Cole, who’s become a voice for social justice on the city’s South Side, filed with the Federal Election Commission last week.
The 37-year-old activist says he’s running because he wants to bring resources to the district. Cole told Playbook he hopes “to work within an institution that’s not done a whole lot on behalf of communities I’m representing.” He sees his experience as an activist translating to the work needed to be done in Congress.
Cole isn’t the only activist to challenge Rush recently. In 2020, Robert Emmons, a 28-year-old anti-gun advocate was among three Democratic challengers hoping to unseat Rush. But Cole brings some name recognition that previous candidates haven’t had.
Cole started My Block, My Hood, My City in 2013 after volunteering at the Cook County Jail and being struck by the young inmates he met. “No teenager there had ever left their block,” he said. The encounters inspired Cole to start the nonprofit to introduce teens from low-income neighborhoods to other communities, cultures and work environments. The organization has grown and evolved over the years.
During the pandemic, Cole organized teen volunteers to work with hospitals to check on elderly residents sheltering in. My Block, My Hood, My City has long organized a snow shovel brigade, and it’s been out in full force in recent days to help residents dig out.
Cole is also a speaker and author on issues related to gun violence after experiencing it first-hand — a relative was killed by a bullet fired by police. Last year, after the killing of George Floyd, Cole was called upon by Gov. J.B. Pritzker to speak at his daily briefing about the racial divide in Chicago. Cole also has spoken alongside Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot during her press briefings. And a few years ago, Cole was featured in a video for Barack Obama’s presidential center.
Cole grew up in North Chicago, earned a bachelor’s from Wayne State College in Nebraska, and has lived in Chatham for nearly 20 years. Before starting his nonprofit, Cole worked as a community engagement manager for the Illinois Network of Charter Schools.
Illinois has a new state representative in the seat Michael Madigan held for 50 years. Edward Guerra Kodatt, a 26-year-old aide to Chicago Ald. Marty Quinn, an ally of Madigan, was appointed Sunday to the 22nd House District seat.
But the former House speaker still held the spotlight, telling reporters after the two-hour appointment hearing that his exit from the General Assembly doesn’t mean he’s retiring. Madigan said he’ll remain active in Democratic politics — though he won’t be involved in the redistricting process. He plans to remain indefinitely as chairman of the state Democratic Party, saying, “I don’t feel a need to step down.” And asked whether he stayed in office too long, the former House speaker said “I don’t think so. Others may disagree.”
Madigan announced his exit last week after failing to win the speaker’s race. Eleven applicants applied to replace him in the seat — though one didn’t turn up Sunday for the appointment hearing at the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture, where the 13th Ward Democratic Party has its offices.
Madigan held 56 percent of the weighted vote for the appointment, so he had the cards to name his successor, nominating Kodatt after candidates gave a five-minute statement and took questions.
“I come from a long line of first responders, so it’s something I knew I wanted to do,” Kodatt told Playbook after his appointment. Kodatt, who is Ecuadoran American, has worked as an infrastructure manager for the city for two years, holds a bachelors in business from Eastern Illinois University and is in the process of earning an MBA. “I’m excited to be stepping up for the new generation and lead by example and dig in and pave my own path.”
In a surprise move, two of the committee members nominated separate candidates for the job. State Rep. Aaron Ortiz nominated Silvia Villa, a Latino studies professor who also works on immigrant issues; and Chicago Ald. Silvana Tabares nominated Angelica Guerrero Cuellar, a community volunteer. However, they lacked the votes needed to win the appointment, and Tabares declined Madigan’s request to make Kodatt’s appointment unanimous.
After the hearing, Madigan told reporters he’s “grateful” to have served for so many years and with multiple governors and mayors.
Asked if he was frustrated to have felt forced to exit the General Assembly, he said, “No. I think I’ve always had a very realistic view of service in government and politics.”
— Shirley, surely: Madigan said he offered his House seat to his wife, Shirley Madigan, but she turned him down. The former speaker made the announcement with all seriousness in his voice, though there were giggles in the audience for the appointment hearing.
— Family matters: Chicago Ald. Derrick Curtis, one of the ward committee members interviewing candidates for the 22nd House District seat, asked candidate Anita Cummings if she’s prepared for the time commitment needed to be a legislator given she’s a mom and grandmother. It’s a question that most employers know better than to ask. The irony: Stickney committeeperson Vincent Cainkar left the same hearing early, citing family reasons.
— Hand-wringing over Madigan’s role with Democratic Party: “Madigan’s status as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois and his control over state-regulated campaign funds that spent almost $27 million last year on political campaigns, legal fees and related tasks could be used to taint candidates, according to Kent Redfield, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois Springfield,” reports State Journal-Regiter’s Dean Olsen.
Have a tip, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? Get in touch: [email protected]
No official public events.
At Chicago State University at noon to sign HB 3653, a criminal justice and police reform bill.
In Evanston at 9 a.m. to tour the pop-up Covid-19 vaccination clinic at Victor Walchirk Apartments and greet senior residents receiving their first dose of the vaccine.
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Sunday reported 35 new deaths and 1,585 new confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus. That’s a total of 20,269 fatalities and 1,174,409 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from Feb. 14 through 20 is 2.7 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 3.5 percent.
— Dems prepare for party-line House vote on Biden’s pandemic aid bill: “House Democrats aren’t expecting to get a single GOP vote for their aid package, which they’re taking up with the procedural maneuver known as reconciliation,” by POLITICO’s Caitlin Emma.
— Illinois’ top doc says wide vaccine availability months away: “It will be months before our supply comfortably outpaces demand — an obstacle we always expected, and the very reason we have devoted so much time and thought to the phases of prioritization. Everyone deserves their turn to get the vaccine, and it’s my promise to Illinois that we will get there — as efficiently, quickly and equitably as we can,” Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, writes in a Tribune op-ed.
— See who is getting vaccines in Illinois so far: “Recently released state data shows that the people who have received vaccinations so far have been more white, more likely to be female and older than the state’s population as a whole,” reports Daniel C. Vock for Center for Illinois Politics.
… Evanston teen saw how hard it was for elderly to find vaccines, so he built a website to help, by Edie Rubinowitz for WBEZ.
… Frustrated vaccine seekers turn to social media for help and get it, by Tribune’s Angie Leventis Lourgos
— A ripple effect of loss: U.S. Covid deaths approach 500,000: “A nation numbed by misery and loss is confronting a number that still has the power to shock: 500,000….In Chicago, the Rev. Ezra Jones stands at his pulpit on Sundays, letting his eyes wander to the back row. That spot belonged to Moses Jones, his uncle, who liked to drive to church in his green Chevy Malibu, arrive early and chat everybody up before settling in to his seat by the door. He died of the coronavirus in April. ‘I can still see him there,’ said Mr. Jones, the pastor. ‘It never goes away,’” the New York Times’ Julie Bosman reports from Chicago.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker hinted Friday night (before it ended up on his schedule) that he’d sign the criminal justice reform package that was passed last month by the General Assembly.
“With our historic legislative accomplishments in January, you’re leading us forward to a more equitable and just Illinois and I’m proud to be your ally in these endeavors,” Pritzker told attendees of the virtual Legislative Black Caucus Foundation gala.
Then House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch spilled the beans at the same event, saying, “This past year’s reckoning of racial injustice reminds us to fill in the gaps…to remedy inequalities. We stepped out and we led the way and it’s an honor to know the governor is about to sign our bills into law.”
Pritzker and other politicos will be at Chicago State University at noon to sign HB 3653.
EMIL JONES’ best lines. The former Illinois Senate president was honored at Friday night’s (virtual) Legislative Black Caucus Foundation gala. Jones was introduced with Frank Sinatra’s rendition of “My Way” and then the orchestral music of “The Godfather,” which prompted a chuckle from Jones… He then offered some advice for Black Caucus members tuning in: “You lawmakers have power. But it’s no good if you don’t use it. If you use it, many things will be accomplished as long as you stick together.” … Jones also shared that he had just received his second Covid-19 vaccination shot. “They say the African American community is reluctant to get their shots. I would love to see a program by the Black Caucus come together to urge our community to get those vaccinations,” he said… He wrapped up with a thank you, adding, “Our time together is good… just don’t mess with my pension.”
— Bailey expected to kick off his bid for governor today: “For the past week, State Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Louisville, has been teasing an ‘important announcement about the future of Illinois’ on Monday night. Bailey is expected to announce he’s running for Illinois governor in the 2022 election. His kickoff event is scheduled Monday from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Thelma Keller Convention Center in Effingham,” by Effingham Daily News’ Andrew Adams.
— Anna Valencia picks up Underwood endorsement in secretary of state bid: “Backing Valencia is the first time Underwood, a two-term member of Congress, has jumped in a contested statewide Democratic primary,” reports Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet.
— Paul Schimpf says Trump ‘had his day in court,’ and ‘did not win’ 2020 election: The former state senator and 2022 GOP gubernatorial hopeful responded to a statement from Mary Morrissey, the executive director of the Illinois Democratic Party, who tied him to other Republicans who lost to Democrats in recent statewide elections, by WCIA’s Mark Maxwell.
A NEW REPORT confirms what we all saw play out in headlines: Corruption spiked in 2019, ultimately dethroning some of the most powerful players in Illinois government.
Dick Simpson, a researcher of the University of Illinois at Chicago report, says the indictment of Ald. Edward Burke was the biggest bombshell to put Illinois at the top of the list of corruption scandals nationwide.
The report also cited the 2019 raid on the City Club of Chicago’s offices for documents related to a Commonwealth Edison hiring scheme would later lead to indictments. And though former House Speaker Michael Madigan has not been charged, the controversy is seen as the reason he was “dethroned” from his high-profile position, according to Simpson.
Federal investigations “took away the power of two of the major Democratic power brokers in the state of Illinois,” Simpson told Playbook. “The ongoing investigations and trials, which should resume this year, could bring down a dozen more state legislators, lobbyists, and political cronies further weakening the old machine.”
The study shows Chicago’s 26 convictions in 2019 were double the total of 13 in 2018, but down from an average of 41 per year. The report’s data shows Chicago ranks sixth when looking at data from 2010 to 2019. During that period, Chicago saw 285 convictions, tied with Miami. Richmond, Va., had 391, followed by Baltimore with 352; Los Angeles, 342; Newark, N.J., 303; and Austin/San Antonio, 290.
Along with Simpson, researchers Marco Rosaire Rossi and Thomas J. Gradel researched the report.
— More suicides by Black Cook County residents in 2020 than in any year in over a decade: “The alarming rise came as city and county officials came up short on pledges to improve suicide-prevention efforts they made last summer in response to a report by The Trace and the Sun-Times,” by Lakeidra Chavis for The Trace.
— It’s no longer freezing in Chicago — Here’s how other cold spells stack up: “The temperature at O’Hare International Airport, the city’s official recording site, was 33 degrees at 11:51 a.m., Sunday. It’s the first time the temperature reached above 32 degrees after 17 consecutive days of below freezing conditions,” by Tribune’s Kori Rumore and Jonathon Berlin.
— Hunger strikers see glimmer of hope as Lightfoot asks EPA for advice about scrap shredder: “Lightfoot has so far declined to meet the strikers’ key demand. But by reaching out to federal regulators for guidance this week, the mayor for the first time raised the possibility that Reserve Management Group won’t be allowed to operate its new facility along the Calumet River at 116th Street,” reports Tribune’s Michael Hawthorne.
— Clinging to life, Karen Lewis worried Lightfoot was ‘underhanded’ as CTU considered school reopening: “It was rough, but her last words to me was, ‘They’re not going to go back to school until it’s right,’” Lewis’ husband told attendees of a virtual memorial Sunday. Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba reports.
— Jewel delivery, warehouse employees vote to authorize strike: “The union said the grocery chain has forced most workers to work mandatory six-day weeks throughout the coronavirus pandemic, which has created ‘dangerously crowded conditions in its warehouse,’” by Sun-Times’ Sam Kelly.
— Fred Hampton’s childhood home to become a community center, museum: “One of the main criticisms of the film “Judas and the Black Messiah” is the cast and crew alleged lack of involvement in assisting Fred Hampton Jr. in securing the funds to save his father’s childhood home,” by Sun-Times’ Evan F. Moore.
— Twitter temporarily suspends Music Box Theatre’s account. Blame it on that song from ‘Top Gun,’ writes Tribune’s Michael Phillips.
— Welch sees ethics reform coming: House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch says Illinois will see ethics reform “this session,” which ends May 31. “One of the things that’s hurt us at the Legislature the past few years is that no one trusts us. So we have to start with ethics reform. It’s so important,” he told WGN/9’s Tahman Bradley in this video interview.
— Raoul among 17 state AGs to call for canceling $50K in student loan debt: The Democratic attorneys general sent a letter to congressional leaders on Friday supporting resolutions that call on President Biden to use executive action to forgive outstanding student loans, via The Hill.
— More than $1B wagered on sports in Illinois, but none on Illini: “If you want to bet on the Illini during the NCAA tournament, you’ll have to travel to Indiana to do so. While betting on college sports is legal in Illinois, it’s not legal to do so on colleges based in Illinois. So if you’re in Indianapolis for the tournament, you can bet on whether the Illini will score first, but you can’t while watching from your couch,” by News-Gazette’s Ben Zigterman.
— Why investors expect big news from Exelon in a few days: “Energy giant’s shares likely to tumble if execs don’t announce plan to spin off nukes,” reports Crain’s Steve Daniels.
— Sen. Mike Simmons to focus on North Siders who are ‘never seen’: He sees economic insecurity, specifically around affordable housing, as a major issue, writes Sun-Times’ Rachel Hinton.
— Black Lives Matter activist charged with felony for alleged actions during Kenosha protests: “The founder of the Lake County chapter of Black Lives Matter has been charged in Wisconsin with a felony count of attempted battery dating to Aug. 24, when protests rocked Kenosha following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. An arrest warrant was issued Friday in Kenosha County for Clyde J. McLemore, 62, of Zion, on charges of aggravated battery or threats to a judge, prosecutor or law enforcement officer, as well as a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct, according to Kenosha County Circuit Court records,” by Tribune’s Paige Fry and Alice Yin.
— 9 more cases tied to former CPD Sgt. Ronald Watts tossed by Cook County prosecutors: “As of Friday, 109 people have had their drug convictions overturned as part of an ongoing review of cases connected to disgraced former Chicago Police Sgt. Ronald Watts,” by Sun-Times’ Matthew Hendrickson.
— Sycamore gymnastics coach gets 32 years in prison for sexually assaulting six students: “Joseph R. Hannon of Sycamore admitted to sexually assaulting six children between April and September 2016. Each was younger than 13 years. They were students at Energym, a Sycamore gymnastics school,” by the AP.
SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH will introduce Illinois native Merrick Garland at the Judiciary confirmation hearing to be the next attorney general of the United States.
… Garland will stress law enforcement experience at the hearing, by POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein and Marianne LeVine
— ‘Exceedingly deep convictions’: Inside Xavier Becerra’s quest for health care for immigrants, by POLITICO’s Maggie Severns
— Anti-Trumpers are done with the GOP. Where do they go now? By POLITICO’s David Siders
… Trump gears up for war with his own party, by POLITICO’s Gabby Orr and Meridith McGraw
— Biden wants to put Middle East on back burner, by POLITICO’s Natasha Bertrand and Lara Seligman
Tribune profiles Roi Ottley, the paper’s first Black writer — a pioneer who covered Mussolini’s execution and interviewed Pope Pius XII, by Bob Goldsborough.
Rob Fojtik will be senior director of Neighborhood Strategy at Choose Chicago, the tourism arm of the city, starting March 1. He has been senior adviser to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, serving as a liaison between her office and various departments and city organizations, including World Business Chicago, MPEA, Navy Pier and Choose Chicago.
Today at noon: A discussion about helping young people find careers in finance will be hosted by Chicago City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin as part of her Money Mondays program featuring financial execs.
FRIDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to Patrick Corcoran, policy director for the Illinois comptroller, for correctly answering that “Tough Babies” was the name of the gang that Anton Cermak joined as a teenager (long before he became mayor of Chicago).
TODAY’s QUESTION: What was the calamitous event depicted in a painting that hung for years in the City Council chambers featuring Chicago Fire Chief Marshal Michael Corrigan? Email to [email protected].
Restaurateur Rich Ciota, mayoral adviser Robert Fojtik, SupplyHive CEO Lou Sandoval, and PR pro Rob Walton.
February 22, 2021 at 07:24AM