With help from Maria Carrasco.

Good Thursday morning, Illinois. If the Buffalo Bills can bring back Broadway, what about Lollapalooza?

Some of the biggest names in Chicago business and sports have taken out a full-page newspaper ad to show their support for Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Their “Dear Mayor Lightfoot” letter appears in today’s Sun-Times, saying, “The pandemic, racial strife and recession are a triple threat to our hometown. We commend you and your team for your steadfast leadership in navigating the city through this crisis.”

The letter is signed by 63 corporate leaders across a range of industries and comes as political watchers start to gauge who might challenge Lightfoot in her re-election bid two years from now. It also comes as a counter to a report in Crain’s a few weeks ago saying there was “grumbling” in the business community about the mayor’s handling of Covid-19 and the subsequent social and economic fallout, including the city’s murder rate and an increase in carjackings. It didn’t help that Ald. Gilbert Villegas stepped down as floor leader.

Leading the signatures are Kip Kirkpatrick and Martin Nesbitt, co-CEOs and senior partners of The Vistria Group private equity firm. Nesbitt also is board chairman of the Obama Presidential Center.

Others who signed on supporting Lightfoot are Grosvenor CEO Michael Sacks, Ariel Investments co-CEOs John Rogers Jr. and Mellody Hobson, McDonald’s Corp. CEO Chris Kempczinski, Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO Stefano Pessina, Mars Wrigley Global President Andrew Clarke, KPMG Chicago Managing Principal Linda Imonti, Discover Financial CEO Roger Hochschild, Mesirow Financial Chairman Richard Price, BMO Harris Bank CEO Dave Casper, Obama Foundation President Valerie Jarrett, Deloitte Chicago Managing Partner Kathy Scherer, attorney Samuel Skinner, Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro, Lurie Children’s Hospital President Tom Shanley, and every CEO of the major Chicago sports teams including the Cubs’ Tom Ricketts and Bears’ George McCaskey.

The business executives who signed their names in today’s ad suggest there’s more support out there for Lightfoot than not. It has nothing to do with politics, according to a source familiar with the ad, but about respecting the office and the decisions that a top executive must make.

In their letter, the executives acknowledge “the task ahead is daunting” but that Chicago has an opportunity to “rebuild in a way that ensures we emerge stronger, fairer, and more resilient.”

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Chicago Ald. Pat Dowell has spent the past two days on the phone talking to political friends and colleagues about supporting her in a run for Illinois Secretary of State, a job that opens when Jesse White retires next year.

“I tell people ‘I’m a workhorse.’ I’ve done well in my ward. I’ve done well in the city. And I know I can build on the work that Secretary White has done and take the office to what I think will be a new level,” Dowell told Playbook in between her phone calls and Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

The Chicago alderman has formed an exploratory committee of supporters whom she isn’t ready to make public yet. She’s also talked to White, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle about running for statewide office.

“No one’s ready to make an endorsement. But none of them discouraged me from making this run,” said Dowell, who was first elected alderman in 2007. A former city planner, Dowel has mastered walking a tightrope in the 3rd Ward, which is characterized by an established Black community and an influx of diverse young South Loop residents.

Dowell was appointed to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Job Creation and Economic Opportunity Committee in 2018. In 2019, she endorsed Preckwinkle over Lightfoot for mayor but then gained Lightfoot’s trust and was named chairman of the City Council’s Budget Committee.

She praised White’s tenure in running the powerful agency and said she’s running because the work is of interest to her. “If you ask what’s wrong or right with the agency, I can’t give you all that. But I know the things I’m interested in,” she said, ticking off the library system, the business services department and the need to constantly improve on technology. “More could be done so people can access licenses and other information in new ways and so agencies could connect to each other through technology,” she said.

Her next challenge is fundraising and “thinking through a strong path to victory.” Dowell expects to have a better decision on running in about six weeks.

The secretary of state race is expected to be highly competitive. So far, serious contenders are former state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and City Clerk Anna Valencia, who secured endorsements this week from Cook County Commissioners Bridget Gainer and Donna Miller.

Have a tip, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? Get in touch: [email protected]

No official public events.

In Alsip at 10 a.m. to announce Rebuild Illinois capital grants to help support economic development projects across the state.

Presiding over a virtual Cook County Board meeting at 10 a.m.

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Wednesday reported 44 deaths and 2,022 new confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus. That’s a total of 20,374 fatalities and 1,179,342 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from Feb. 17 through 23 is 2.6 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 3.1 percent.

Fraud fears and messy data stall FEMA program for Covid victims: “The Federal Emergency Management Agency is set to dole out cash to families of Americans who died of Covid-19, but there is potential for widespread fraud,” by POLITICO’s Erin Banco.

Pritzker expecting to hit 100,000 daily vaccines in mid-March: “While Pritzker said nearly one in seven Illinoisans has had at least one dose of a vaccine, he said he could not predict when the state can progress from Phase 4 of reopening to Phase 5, which is essentially back to normal with larger public gatherings allowed,” by Capitol News’ Jerry Nowicki.

Democrats’ $1.9T Covid aid bill faces the Senate chopping block: “The package’s minimum wage hike, and other major provisions, could get trimmed today,” reports POLITICO’s Caitlin Emma and Marianne LeVine.

A Chicago gym spurred an outbreak of 55 Covid cases: The superspreader event occured when “people attended indoor high-intensity exercise classes — including several who had already tested positive for the virus, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Wednesday,” by Tribune’s Angie Leventis Lourgos.

Political operative Roberto Caldero charged in new indictment featuring ex-Ald. Danny Solis: “Also charged late Wednesday in separate tax indictments were former state Rep. Edward ‘Eddie’ Acevedo, as well as his sons Michael and Alex Acevedo,” by Sun-Times’ Jon Seidel, Mark Brown, and Lauren FitzPatrick.

HOUSE SEAT REDUX: Democratic committee members will meet again today to appoint a replacement to the House seat Michael Madigan held for 50 years — and by Edward Guerra Kodatt for three days. Madigan, who has the largest weighted vote in the decision, indicated Wednesday that he would support Angelica Guerrero Cuellar for the 22nd District House seat. She came in second Sunday to Kodatt.

Kodatt stepped down Wednesday after party officials learned of alleged personal misconduct not related to his job. Soon after his exit, State Comptroller Susana Mendoza quickly called on Kodatt not to accept the one-month salary he’s eligible for since he was in the job just a few days. The Tribune has more on the salary questions and how Cuellar, the likely new representative, is connected to Chicago’s political machine.

— BRINGING BACK THE ‘FAIR TAX’?: House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch suggested Wednesday there might be new life for the graduated income tax referendum that failed in 2020. The measure was dubbed the “fair tax” by supporters. Welch told members of the Economic Club of Chicago that he still supports changing the state income tax structure from a flat-tax rate to a progressive system. He’d like to see it go before voters again but with pension obligations attached to it. “Tell the voters exactly how you’re going to spend this new money, and they may trust us more,” Welch said, adding it’s a tactic that’s worked in other states. Welch spoke in a Q&A format with WTTW reporter Amanda Vinicky and with Economic Club President and CEO David Snyder, a former journalist. The Sun-Times’ Rachel Hinton has more on Welch’s take on “inner-party squabbles.”

EXELON TO BREAK UP: “It’s separating its regulated utilities business from its power generation unit in the biggest breakup of a local company in nearly a decade,” writes Crain’s Steve Daniels.

New Springfield budget to cut fire dept. spending, add money for paid parental leave: “City council members added a few more expenditures before OK’ing the spending plan. Topping that list is a $300,000 pot of money set aside to allow Springfield to offer a month of paid parental leave to all city employees, a new proposal from Ward 8 Ald. Erin Conley,” reports NPR Illinois’ Mary Hansen.

Aldermen delay vote as flap over Covid-19 relief continues: “The appropriation ordinance from Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office would have carried over millions in unspent CARES ACT dollars, in addition to allocating federal grants to the city’s housing and public health departments. But Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) and Ed Burke (14th) made sure it never made it to the floor for a vote. They used a parliamentary maneuver to table the item until the council’s next meeting, prompting the mayor’s aldermanic allies to recess until late Friday afternoon,” by WBEZ’s Claudia Morell.

… Also during the council meeting: Lightfoot caught on a hot mic again — this time, using profanity, by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman

Chicago lakefront, Catholic churches top newest list of city’s most endangered historic buildings: “Topping Preservation Chicago’s annual list of the city’s most endangered historic buildings is something that isn’t a building at all. The Chicago lakefront, declared in 1836 to remain ‘forever open, clear and free,’ could be permanently altered by the proposed Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park, a plan to reconstruct the north part of Lake Shore Drive and an envisioned golf course, designed by Tiger Woods, that would affect the South Shore Nature Sanctuary, the group said Wednesday,” reports Tribune’s John Keilman.

School reopening Monday will bring fewer students than expected: “During the monthly meeting of the school board Wednesday, district leaders said they believe that some families who are holding back will opt for in-person instruction in April as they see the district safely reopen elementary school buildings,” writes Chalkbeat Chicago’s Mila Koumpilova.

Amid reopening, Chicago moves ahead with school discipline overhaul: “The board passed another resolution urging the district to develop a police-free safety plan by the spring. Now the plan is in motion, with the district leading a series of community engagement meetings. It’s a sign of Chicago Public Schools’ efforts in recent years to broaden public engagement on critical education issues, including a review of the school ratings process, for which there will be public meetings next month,” reports Chalkbeat Chicago’s Yana Kunichoff.

As CPS aims to reopen high schools this spring, parents push for better remote learning, reports Tribune’s Alice Yin.

Lightfoot says she’s heard demands of hunger strikers — which now include Ald. Sigcho Lopez: “The mayor says she wants to improve environmental conditions on the Southeast Side but wouldn’t immediately agree to deny the metal shredder’s permit,” by Sun-Times’ Brett Chase.

Plan would hike demolition fees near The 606 and in Pilsen to try to stem gentrification: “Under the ordinance backed by the mayor and Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, 35th, and Ald. Daniel La Spata, 1st, developers knocking down an existing single-family home or two-flat in either area would need to pay a $15,000 fee, while bigger buildings would trigger a $5,000-per-unit fee,” by Tribune’s John Byrne and Gregory Pratt.

Chicago aldermen push banks doing business with the city for more equitable lending: “On Monday, aldermen refused to vote on an annual measure certifying 13 banks as ‘municipal depositaries,’ and openly questioned why the city should keep its money with banks that don’t lend equitably,” by WBEZ’s Linda Lutton.

Aldermen call for Chicago postmaster to resign immediately after watchdog report:Complaints of delayed mail have dogged the Post Office for months, with issues reported in every part of the city — but four South Side post offices have faced thousands of complaints,” by Block Club’s Justin Laurence and Jamie Nesbitt Golden.

Pfleger again declares he’s innocent of sex abuse claims after state wraps up its probe: “The Department of Children and Family Services said it sent letters to the Archdiocese of Chicago and Pfleger regarding its investigation. Other probes remain ongoing,” by Sun-Times’ Mitch Dudek and Madeline Kenney.

— MURDER MYSTERY: The murder Chicago didn’t want to solve: “In 1963, a Black politician named Ben Lewis was shot to death in Chicago. Clues suggest the murder was a professional hit. Decades later, it remains no accident authorities never solved the crime,” writes ProPublica’s Mick Dumke.

The free throws that changed the ’97 finals: “Rewatching Karl Malone face the Bulls that year prompts an NBA fanatic to ponder the psychic implications of the foul shot,” by Nick Greene in Chicago magazine.

No more parole recommendations, Foxx says, after heat for not opposing cop-killers’ bids for release: “The Cook County state’s attorney’s decision comes a day after ex-Chicago police superintendent blasted her,” reports Sun-Times’ Frank Main.

Cook County draws criticism for spending $181.7M coronavirus relief funding on reimbursing sheriff’s office payroll: “Over the past 11 months of the pandemic, Cook County directed more than 40 percent of its federal relief money toward labor costs for the sheriff’s office, drawing alarm from Black activists who have renewed calls to reallocate law enforcement spending since the death of George Floyd in Minnesota. The county was granted more than $428.5 million in April under the federal coronavirus relief bill. About $181.7 million was expensed by the Cook County sheriff’s office for direct “labor costs” such as payroll and benefits, according to a Jan. 31 report posted on the county website,” by Tribune’s Alice Yin.

Here’s how Cook County is trying to convince jurors to show up for court: “Once the trials start, multiple courtrooms will be used ‘to achieve proper distancing,’ and jurors will not be confined to the jury boxes. Instead they’ll sit in the comparatively large galleries where the public usually sits. The courts will also provide sanitizer and masks, according to the letter. The chief judge’s office has also posted photos online to demonstrate the Covid-19 precautions, including socially-distanced seating and plexiglass separating the jury from the attorneys and defendants,” by WBEZ’s Patrick Smith.

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: ANTI-TRUMP AD BUY IN ILLINOIS. A national anti-Trump group has purchased a series of 30-second cable TV ads in Chicago, Rockford and Peoria-Bloomington. The Republican Accountability Project provides funding to support GOP lawmakers who voted to impeach Trump and to defeat Trump supporters who are in office. The Illinois ad buy is just over $3,000 for a few days on CNN and Fox and is the beginning of an effort to protect Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who voted to impeach the former president. The ad buy is focused on his 16th Congressional District. It’s part of a $50 million national effort. A recent billboard by the group reads, “Thank you, Rep. Kinzinger for defending the Constitution.” There are similar ads across the country. The effort by never-Trump Republicans comes as the lawmakers who condemned the former president face consequences both in Washington and back home for their votes, according to POLITICO’s Holly Otterbein.

Rep. Thaddeus Jones declares victory in Calumet City mayoral primary; high court must still rule on his candidacy: The state rep said he had received 1,655 votes in unofficial results, compared to 1,374 votes for incumbent Mayor Michelle Markiewicz-Qualkinbush, who was seeking a fifth term. The question for the state Supreme Court is whether to prohibit people from running for mayor if they also hold an elected office created by the state constitution, reports Daily Southtown’s Mike Nolan.

Marcus Lemonis becomes chairman of N.Y. production company: Chicago-area CEO and longtime host of “The Profit” made a “significant investment” in Zero Point Zero, which has produced footage for shows such as “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown,” reports Crain’s Ally Marotti.

— MARIE V. MARJORIE FEUD: Democratic Rep. Marie Newman and Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene are battling in the halls of Congress, literally. The two freshman reps poked at each other on the House floor during a debate about transgender rights. Newman’s daughter is transgender, so the issue is personal. Newman and Greene then returned to their offices, which are literally right across from each other in the Longworth House Office Building. Newman propped up a blue, pink and white flag just outside her door to show support for equal rights for members of the trans community. Not to be outdone, Greene followed by posting a sign outside of her office that says “There are TWO genders: Male and Female.” The feud prompted a flurry of tweets from Reps. Sean Casten, Raja Krishnamoorthi and others. The Tribune’s Bill Ruthhart has more.

— SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH was part of a high-profile gathering in the Oval Office with President Biden to discuss improving the semiconductor supply chain. “It was one of the best meetings, best meetings we’ve had,” Biden told reporters. “It was like the old days.”

GOP’s choice in 2024: Trump Ultra, Trump Lite or Trump Zero, by POLITICO’s Marc Caputo

‘Union guy’ Joe Biden keeps his distance from Amazon union fight, by POLITICO’s Rebecca Rainey and Christopher Cadelago

Biden’s big task: Keeping 50 Democrats in line, by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett and Natasha Korecki

McConnell throws cold water on Dems’ proposed 1/6 Commission, by POLITICO’s Andrew Desiderio and Kyle Cheney

— Column: The way to fix the Lincoln Project is to shut it down for good, writes POLITICO’s John F. Harris

— Today at 4 p.m.: Rep. Adam Kinzinger hosts a discussion on Clubhouse to preview his Country First campaign and address “the dangers of personality politics.” He’ll be joined by Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.).

— March 16: Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi kicks off his re-election campaign with a virtual party.

WEDNESDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to state Sen. Bill Cunningham for correctly answering that Gov. John Peter Altgeld, who governed in the 1800s, pardoned and/or commuted hundreds of prisoners convicted for a range of crimes. He even earned the nickname John “Pardon” Altgeld.

TODAY’s QUESTION: What do former Sen. James Shields and Evanston-based prohibition advocate/suffragist Frances Willard have in common? Email to [email protected].

State Sen. Cristina Castro, state Sen. Napoleon Harris III, Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Iris Martinez, aide to Sen. Dick Durbin Stacie Barton Hackler; Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, broadcaster Tsi-Tsi-Ki Félix, and Dover Consulting’s Abby Lerner, who was deputy campaign manager for Marianne Lalonde’s 46th Ward aldermanic race in 2019.



via Illinois Playbook

February 25, 2021 at 07:33AM

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