TGIF, Illinois. We’ve had some week. Cheers to a quiet weekend (please).
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot accused Ald. Ed Burke Thursday night of trying to sabotage her plans for Covid-19 relief funding the way he thwarted legislation decades ago during the notorious Council Wars.
“This is the same man who spent an enormous amount of resources and capital obstructing everything Harold Washington did. He’s the man who called [Washington] every filthy, nasty thing — everything, my mother would say, but a child of God,” Lightfoot said in an interview with Playbook, referring to the former mayor’s hurdles in office. “So it is no surprise that he’s railing against someone who doesn’t bow to his power. It’s not surprising at all.”
Lightfoot spoke on a range of issues during our interview and said it’s too early to talk about re-election plans because she’s focused on gearing up the Covid-19 vaccine rollout. She remains dedicated to overhauling city government, including the police department, which has been a source of particularly damaging attention like the botched raid on Anjanette Young’s home that came to light recently. The mayor said she knows people are upset with how the summer’s protests were handled, and said she’s committed to making sure police officers “are better prepared, better trained and that supervisors are also held accountable.”
Since the Floyd protests, Lightfoot said Superintendent David Brown has stripped some officers of their police powers and many are "being investigated by Civilian Office of Police Accountability."
But her attacks on Burke come after he and Ald. Raymond Lopez earlier this week used a parliamentary maneuver to delay a vote on allocating $377 million in federal Covid-relief funding.
The aldermen had attempted to hold the vote until the next Council meeting, which would have been in March. But Ald. Greg Mitchell (7th), quickly called for a Council meeting to be held today to consider and vote on the spending plan.
Back in the 1980s, Burke used similar tactics to thwart Washington’s every move. Chicago’s first Black mayor called Burke a racist for his procedural shenanigans and personal attacks.
Lightfoot, the city’s second Black mayor, isn’t one to withhold a punch if she feels the situation calls for it but she stopped short of using similar invective. Still, her opinion was clear. “It is no surprise that he’s railing against someone who doesn’t bow to his power. It’s not surprising at all,” she said.
The mayor said the real question regarding Burke is “Why is he still on the Council? Why has he not been tried? And why do we have to worry about him as an elected official?”
Burke, who didn’t return a request for comment, has been indicted on 14 counts of corruption, including bribery and racketeering. Lightfoot and others have called for him to step down, but Burke is unmoved by the rhetoric.
“He’s entitled to his day in court,” Lightfoot said. “I just think that that day needs to come sooner rather than later.”
Angie Guerrero-Cuellar was appointed Thursday to replace former Speaker Michael Madigan in the House seat he held for 50 years.
The transition of power came about after a bumpy process that saw Madigan’s first hand-picked replacement resign after three days over concerns about “alleged questionable conduct” unrelated to his work in the 13th Ward.
Guerrero-Cuellar, a community activist, said the turn of events took her by surprise but that she has the “heart” and “dedication” to serve the district.
After taking the oath of office with her mom and daughters on hand, Guerrero-Cuellar said she expects to exit her position Envision Community Services, where she managed contact tracing. She also doesn’t plan to pursue her pending application to become a police officer. Guerrero-Cuellar’s husband is on the force.
Guerrero-Cuellar isn’t a complete unknown to Chicago politics. She worked for Angie Sandoval’s campaign for Cook County Commissioner. And Sandoval is the daughter of the late Sen. Martin Sandoval, who was the center of a public corruption investigation before his death last year from Covid-19.
The new rep was nominated by 23rd Ward Ald. Silvana Tabares, and Madigan, who holds 56 percent of the weighted vote of the 13th Ward Democratic organization, threw his support behind her — tying a bow on his own career in the state House of Representatives.
Sunshine in Madigan’s 13th Ward? Sort of, writes Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown.
Have a tip, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? Get in touch: [email protected]
Presiding over the City Council’s virtual meeting at 3 p.m.
No official public events.
No official public events.
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Thursday reported 32 deaths and 1,884 new confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus. That’s a total of 20,406 fatalities and 1,181,226 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from Feb. 18 through 24 is 2.5 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 3.0 percent.
— The global vaccine public relations war is heating up: As Western countries pursue “America First” and “Europe First” Covid vaccination plans, other leading nations are looking outward in search of commercial and political gain. India has a 49-country vaccine “friendship program,” while China is shipping 1 million doses a week across Africa and has vaccinated 7 million Turks. Argentina was just one of 50 countries that turned to Russia for help when it was unable to secure contracts with Western producers, by POLITICO’s Ryan Heath.
— United Center will become a mass vaccination site: “Health officials plan to inoculate up to 7,000 people a day as soon as next month, with a special effort to reach minority groups hit hardest by the pandemic,” by Crain’s Greg Hinz, A.D. Quig, and Stephanie Goldberg.
— Fact-check: Illinois didn’t move the needle on COVID-19 vaccinations as much as Pritzker claims: “We found Pritzker’s statement was supported by one metric measured over a few days, but glossed over an otherwise spotty vaccination record,” writes Better Government Association’s Kiannah Sepeda-Miller.
— As more customers go into restaurants, workers desperately wait for vaccine, by WBEZ’s Vivian McCall
The jockeying continues to secure the 50 percent support needed to become chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party.
So far, several members of the Democratic Central Committee have committed to a candidate, giving Chicago Ald. Michelle Harris (8th) an edge with nearly 40 percent support. Congresswoman Robin Kelly has 10 percent, and state Sen. Cristina Castro, 4 percent. (Each member holds a different weighted vote.)
But half of the committee still hasn’t committed, including former state Sen. Carol Ronen and Board of Review Commissioner Mike Cabonargi, whose votes have sway in the contest. They represent the 9th District, which has a combined 10 percent of the vote. Neither returned a request for comment.
Ronen, Cabonargi and other Democrats have sent a letter to acting party Chairman Karen Yarbrough calling for a public meeting March 6 to hear the candidates talk about their priorities. Kelly signed the letter, too.
— Speed cameras to start churning out $35 tickets Monday under lower threshold: “City Hall says the decision to start ticketing motorists caught driving 6 mph to 10 mph over the posted speed limit was triggered by a 45% surge in traffic fatalities, but Ald. Anthony Beale doesn’t buy it. It’s about generating more revenue for the city, he said,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.
— Much of Chicago burned last year, not just the Loop, with a big rise in arson cases: “Arsons were up nearly 65%, a Sun-Times analysis finds. Hardest hit: the South Side and the West Side. Even during post-George Floyd riots, most arsons were linked to gangs. And it’s not just Chicago,” by Sun-Times’ Frank Main.
— Outdoor events on the horizon: “A Chicago police source confirmed to ABC7 Eyewitness News that the department has been told to plan for outdoor summer events as they normally do.”
— Black police officers band together over reckoning over racism: “Black officers in the Chicago Police Department are forming their own professional organization to lend perspective amid long-standing tensions between law enforcement and communities of color, they said, and to serve as a counterweight to an often divisive message coming from the city’s largest police union and its president,” by Tribune’s Annie Sweeney.
— Opinion: Chicago used to have a city administrator. We could use one now, write Ed Bachrach and Austin Berg
— Daniel Biss, now mayor of Evanston, discusses tracking national issues at the local level: “Biss, who takes office on May 10, says COVID-19 response will be a priority — including through Evanston’s Health Department, , which the city government oversees. And he says the economic recovery will be a key piece as well,” by WTTW’s Nick Blumberg.
— Death of a Northbrook teen has focused a shattered community’s attention on mental health: “I wanted to try and make something good out of this,” says father of teen who committed suicide. “Northbrook area mental health professionals are working to raise awareness. The nation is approaching a year of living through the coronavirus pandemic, and social isolation and uncertainty have affected people of all ages, including teenagers. Factors associated with the pandemic may be exacerbating people’s mental health issues, according to experts,” by Tribune’s Kaitlin Edquist.
— More Illinois residents turning to Lake Michigan for drinking water: “The planet’s climate is changing at a rapid pace, scientists say, resulting in life-threatening consequences and billion-dollar disasters. In Illinois, that may mean more intense storms, milder winters with more precipitation and hotter, drier summers. Increased precipitation can affect how much water Illinois can withdraw from Lake Michigan, and runoff can alter water quality,” by Tribune’s Morgan Greene.
… Why is groundwater running out in northeastern Illinois? Tribune’s Morgan Greene reports
— Illinois has even more local governments than you thought: “The U.S. Census Bureau says the state has 6,918 combined townships, school districts, counties, mosquito abatement districts and the like. A new report finds it’s actually far more than that,” by Crain’s Greg Hinz.
Illinois Tollways go cash-free — permanently: “To help low-income drivers adjust to the change, the agency will launch a program in May to waive deposits on I-PASS transponders and add $20 in tolls to people with household incomes up to 250 percent below the poverty line,” by Sun-Times’ Cindy Hernandez.
— Feds charge owner of home where Bridgeport bank president died as massive fraud case expands: “It’s the latest development in a case that traces back to Dec. 3, 2017, when John F. Gembara was found dead in Marek Matczuk’s home, according to police reports,” by Sun-Times’ Tim Novak and Jon Seidel.
— Maywood Zoom court sex debacle: “Screenshots and video of two people apparently having sex during a videoconferenced Cook County court hearing quickly circulated online this week, prompting concern and amusement in courthouse circles,” by Tribune’s Megan Crepeau.
State Senate President Don Harmon has loaned $100,001 to his personal campaign. The donation breaks fundraising caps for his committee, allowing him to transfer money to Senate Democrats’ campaigns for 2022.
— State Rep. Chris Miller removes anarchist militia decal from pickup truck, claims ignorance: “A pickup truck parked in a restricted area designated for members of Congress during the deadly January 6th insurrection bore the insignia of a right-wing anarchist militia group and a government-issued license plate belonging to an elected official from the Land of Lincoln. The truck belongs to Illinois state representative Chris Miller (R-Oakland), a 66-year-old second-term statehouse Republican, and his wife Mary Miller,” by WCIA’s Mark Maxwell.
— The Midwest Anti-Defamation League has identified Rep. Mary Miller’s district as a hotbed for extremism. The group layered its HEAT Map (hate, extremism, antisemitism and terrorism) with the congressional district and then shared it on Twitter.
The inside story about Marie Newman, Marjorie Taylor Greene and their transgender rights fight: “Newman, in a House floor speech supporting the LGBTQ Equality Rights Act, talked about her trans daughter; Greene later engaged in a personal transphobic attack,” reports Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet.
— Democrats short of a backup plan after minimum wage ruling, by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett and Marianne LeVine
— Historic LGBTQ rights bill passes — after exposing GOP divisions, by POLITICO’s Olivia Beavers and Melanie Zanona
— Harris looks to carve out a lane on foreign policy, by POLITICO’s Eugene Daniels and Natasha Bertrand
State Sen. Mike Simmons’s first fundraiser Thursday night was a who’s who in Illinois politics. Nearly 100 political, civic and business leaders zoomed. Simmons shared that he’s been talking to businesses in his North Side Chicago district. Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton kicked off the event praising the wave of activist leaders that have been elected to state government. Sen. Dick Durbin shared that he once ran for state senator and lost, so Simmons already is a step ahead of the game. Also on the Zoom: The Obama Foundation’s Mike Strautmanis; Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer; Senate President Don Harmon; state Sens. Mattie Hunter, Ram Villivalam, and Sara Feigenholtz; state Reps. Greg Harris and Margaret Croke; City Clerk Anna Valencia; Ald. Andre Vasquez; attorneys Drew Beres and Lisa Duarte of Croke, Farchild, Morgan and Beres; Hauswirth and Co. CEO Kevin Hauswirth; and Rise Strategy Group CEO Tarrah Cooper Wright.
What the decline of the Tribune and shattering of local media means: “The Tribune has been in an accelerated state of self-destruction for a very long time. The core product of a newspaper is its journalism, so consider this: the once-mighty Tribune Washington Bureau and its twenty employees was handed off to the Los Angeles Times when that paper was sold off to Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, effectively signaling the end of its days when it established the Midwest as a force on the national stage. Today, coverage of Washington comes from Associated Press stories,” by Brian Hieggelke in Newcity.
Bill Becker, lawyer Oprah credited with helping build Harpo Studios empire, dead at 78: “He made a memorable appearance on her show. Winfrey was taking drive-thru orders at the Rock N Roll McDonald’s, where he complained unwittingly to his boss about her slow service,” writes Sun-Times’ Maureen O’Donnell.
Tom Hardy, the long-time University of Illinois System spokesman, retires effective March 1 after nearly 19 years in the job. Hardy is a former Tribune political reporter who went on to work as press secretary for Gov. Jim Edgar during his second term. Hardy also worked in public affairs at Burson Marsteller for four years before joining the U. of I. system in 2002.
Today at 10:30 a.m.: Sen. Dick Durbin joins the American Business Immigration Coalition and United We Dream for “Fulfilling America’s Promise” in a virtual webinar on the Durbin/Graham bipartisan Dream Act and immigration reform. Open to the public.
THURSDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to campaign staffer and organizer Emma Todd and author Ted McClelland for correctly answering that Sen. James Shields and Frances Willard have one big thing in common: They each have statues commemorating them in the U.S. Capitol Buildin’s Statuary Hall.
TODAY’s QUESTION: Before becoming an outspoken opponent of the Equal Rights Amendment, Phyllis Schlafly ran for office numerous times — what was her last run and who was it against? Email to [email protected].
Today: Ald. Daniel La Spata, Aurora aldermanic Chief of Staff Rich Jacobs, consultant Malcolm Weems, political fundraiser Suzy Brown, and PR pro Ximena Larkin.
Saturday: Rep. Adam Kinzinger, former state Rep. Coy Pugh, attorney Ted Tetzlaff, and cannabis lobbyist Trevian Kutti,
Sunday: state Rep. LaShawn Ford, state Sen. Rob Martwick, Clifford Law Offices Comms Partner Pam Menaker, attorney and former Trump State Director Kent Gray, and Tribune political reporter John Byrne.
Feb. 29: state Sen. Jil Tracy.
February 26, 2021 at 07:43AM