With help from Maria Carrasco

Happy Tuesday, Illinois. It’s starting to feel like normal. I’ve got a coffee date on the books that has already been rescheduled.

LATE-BREAKING: Evanston’s City Council voted Tuesday to distribute $10 million in housing grants as part of a historic move to greenlight reparations for Black residents.

The community of 73,000 residents took a "pioneering" step to address historic racism and discrimination, reports the New York Times’ Julie Bosman.

Elected officials, residents and activists supporting racial equity have yet to agree on the specifics of the plan.

The Council voted 8 to 1 Monday night to establish a $400,000 housing grant program, the initial expenditure of that larger fund.

Ald. Robin Rue Simmons, who first proposed the reparations initiative, calls it a first step, writes Pioneer Press’ Genevieve Bookwalter.

“It is, alone, not enough,” Simmons said. “We all know that the road to repair and justice in the Black community is going to be a generation of work. It’s going to be many programs and initiatives, and more funding.”

The council’s one “no” vote came from Ald. Cicely L. Fleming, a Black woman who said that while she agrees with reparations, she doesn’t believe the initial distribution of money offers Black residents enough autonomy, reports the Sun-Times.

Evanston’s council first agreed in 2019 to create a reparations fund, planning to use private donations and tax revenue from the marijuana sales.

Phase one spending — the $400,000 — will begin with money for home repairs, mortgage assistance or down payments toward a new home.

State Rep. La Shawn Ford and state Sen. Kimberly Lightford, who sit on the board of Loretto Hospital, are working to wipe up the mess made at the West Side safety-net facility after it distributed Covid-19 vaccines to ineligible people numerous times. But the board hasn’t yet cleaned house.

Hospital CEO George Miller and COO Dr. Anosh Ahmed remain with the hospital, though they’ve been reprimanded — Ahmed more severely.

The hospital’s board met Monday to develop “a corrective action plan” after Block Club Chicago reported another instance Monday of hospital officials allowing folks not eligible for the vaccine to receive a shot at a luxury Gold Coast jewelry store that Ahmed frequents.

More actions are expected.

The imbroglio led Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to push pause on allowing Loretto to receive more Covid-19 vaccines “any time soon” while the city’s Health Department reviews the facility’s distributions procedures.

The episode has also brought attention to lawmakers connected to Loretto. Ford and Lightford are not paid in their positions as hospital directors. Ford briefly resigned the board in 2019 to run for mayor, and during that period, Ahmed donated $12,000 to his campaign. Miller donated $2,500 to a political fund run by Lightford, Block Club reports.

State Rep. Camille Lilly, meanwhile, is paid as Loretto’s head of external affairs. She did not return requests for comment.

“This is really sad after doing so much work fighting for the community and then to have to deal with this,” Ford told Playbook, referring to the board’s efforts to keep the hospital open and increase services in recent years.

The 122-bed hospital in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood treats patients no matter their insurance status or ability to pay. More recently, it’s cared for patients from communities hardest hit by the pandemic.

It’s for that work that Loretto was chosen to be the first medical facility to administer the Covid-19 vaccine in December. It has stumbled at nearly every step since.

The hospital has acknowledged it improperly vaccinated workers at Trump Tower in River North, where Ahmed lives. He also circulated a photo posing with Eric Trump though he later said he was joking about inoculating the former president’s son after his text messages about vaccinating him leaked.

But other powerful folks did get the vaccine through Loretto, including Cook County judges (WBEZ reported) and members of Miller’s church (via Block Club).

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

No official public events.

At Union Baptist Church Gymnasium in Springfield to announce an economic equity effort along with members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus.

At the Cook County Building at 8:30 a.m. to announce a new program for the Forest Preserves Police Department.

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Monday reported 22 additional deaths 1,220 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus disease. That’s a total of 21,1-3 fatalities and 1,223,083 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from March 15-21 is 2.6 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 3.2 percent.

State nears ‘bridge’ phase with 64 percent of seniors receiving at least 1 vaccine dose: “That number must hit 70 percent to enter the bridge phase, which would trigger another 28-day monitoring period. If virus transmission and hospitalization metrics don’t worsen during the monitoring period, Phase 5 can begin, removing all capacity restrictions,” by Capitol News’ Jerry Nowicki.

Biden administration frets J&J may miss vaccine goal: “The full tranche of vaccine Johnson & Johnson committed in February to delivering may not be ready to ship until the third week of April,” by POLITICO’s Erin Banco, Sarah Owermohle and Rachel Roubein.

Volunteers help Chicago residents without internet connect to Covid-19 vaccines: “In communities like North Lawndale and Englewood, almost half of the households don’t have an internet subscription. This digital divide has real-life consequences — especially when getting the Covid-19 vaccine depends on one’s ability to book an appointment online,” writes WBEZ’s María Inés Zamudio.

Fully vaccinated diners don’t count against Illinois restaurant capacity rules, via Eater Chicago’s Ashok Selvam and Naomi Waxman

Pritzker launches mass vaccination site in Forest Park, by WTTW’s Kristen Thometz

Replacing Thapedi: Democratic Committee leaders in the 32nd House District will meet Thursday to interview candidates for the seat vacated for former state Rep. André Thapedi, who resigned after 12 years in office. Interviews will be at 11 a.m. at the Transformation Church International on Kedzie Avenue. Letters and resume should be sent to [email protected].

How delay in Census data could work in Republicans’ favor: “In a normal year, the map making powers would rest squarely in the hands of the Senate President, Speaker of the House, and the Governor. In past years when a Republican occupied one of those offices, the deadlocked process would inevitably require a tiebreaker, which is spelled out in the state constitution. This year, Republicans are hopeful the delayed census data could have virtually the same effect, increasing their odds of influencing the political maps from zero to a coin flip,” by WCIA’s Mark Maxwell.

Pritzker joins Asian American leaders to address Atlanta-area shootings: “I want the community in Illinois to know that I see you … and I want you to know that Illinois is your home,” Pritzker said, addressing the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, at Ping Tom Memorial Park in Chicago. “I will do everything in my power as governor to protect you and to welcome you.” Tribune’s Jenny Whidden reports.

Utility watchdog urges legislation to give Illinois residents a say in water privatization: It would affect companies like Aqua Illinois and Illinois American, which “have purchased more than 30 water and wastewater systems in Illinois since 2013, charging customers more than $220 million to cover acquisitions — about $160.8 million for Illinois American and $59.6 million for Aqua Illinois, according to CUB’s analysis of data from the Illinois Commerce Commission,” by Tribune’s Morgan Greene.

THAT’S SOME BUG PARTY — Illinois ‘the place to be’ for this group of cicadas: “Sometime in May, maybe after a light rain around Memorial Day, one of the largest groups of periodical cicadas will head above ground in Illinois for the first time in 17 years. They’re called Brood X — the cohorts are numbered by Roman numerals — and they’re expected in more than a dozen states in the Midwest and eastern United States. Some of the foremost cicada experts have been based in Illinois, and the state is essential when it comes to understanding the insects, researchers say,” by Tribune’s Morgan Greene.

Former Chicago Bulls’ star Joakim Noah visited with House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch in his office Monday. “We talked about collaborating and helping kids in underprivileged communities. He’s a real good guy who just wants to give back!” Welch tweeted. Noah is retiring from basketball, and will retire as a Bull, according to The Athletic.

Bailey proposes amendment to remove pension protection from state constitution: “Republican Sen. Darren Bailey has introduced the amendment which, if passed, would eliminate the constitutional language that says pensions for state workers, teachers, and other public sector employees cannot be impaired or diminished. Instead, Bailey’s proposal would allow pension benefits to be reduced or changed, regardless of whether those benefits have already been earned or when they were established,” via WMAY newsroom.

Chicago, becoming the Silicon Valley of weed: Chicago is emerging as a financial epicenter in the booming multibillion-dollar marijuana industry. Three of the country’s biggest publicly traded weed companies — Green Thumb Industries, Cresco Labs and Verano Holdings — are headquartered here. Another major national player, privately held PharmaCann, also calls Chicago home. And a growing number of legal, financial and technology firms with big books of cannabis business are based in Illinois.

… Chicago’s rise has been helped by New York’s failure to launch a cannabis legalization effort. “It’s about exposure,” said Andy Grossman, Green Thumb’s head of capital markets. “[Illinois] is a billion-dollar market today and on the way to being a $3-to-$4 billion market. If you want exposure in the biggest market, then Illinois is at the top of your list.” And Chicago benefits from having a strong medical marijuana industry.

… “Think of it like Silicon Valley,” Jeff Howard, managing partner of Salveo Capital, a Chicago investment firm that focuses on cannabis. “As much as people might want to criticize it, it’s still the tech center of the world. The technological heartbeat is still in Silicon Valley but the capital markets exist on Wall Street. You’ll see the same in the weed industry.” This story by your Playbook host first appeared on the POLITICO Pro platform

Curaleaf gets state approval to take over nine Greenhouse and Windy City dispensaries: “Nearly eight months after Curaleaf, a publicly traded Massachusetts company, closed its $830 million acquisition of Chicago-based Grassroots in July, state regulators have issued final approval of the deal,” reports Tribune’s Robert Channick.

Springfield to spend some cannabis tax money supporting East Side small businesses, homeowners: “Just over three-quarters of the money will fund one-time grants of up to $100,000 for minority-owned, small businesses to pay for inventory, equipment, construction or renovations. Business owners are responsible for a 10% match,” reports NPR Illinois’ Mary Hansen.

— DARREN BAILEY has written himself a $150,000 toward his campaign for governor, and his mom, Jean Bailey, who is retired in Louisville, has donated $100,000 to the campaign, according to the State Board of Elections. Bailey, a state senator, is seeking the Republican nomination for governor. The donations are part of a flurry of fundraising action in recent days, totaling nearly $300,000.

— State Sen. Mike Hastings just received close to $100,000 in support of his bid for Illinois secretary of state, including $60,000 from IBEW, the Illinois Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Illinois. That puts Hastings at about $150,000 in labor donations for his campaign.

Fulton Market high-rise plan stretches hot neighborhood’s boom:A 433-unit tower is one of the biggest residential projects proposed in the West Loop district, and the first proposed north of Lake Street, an area the city just opened to new housing,” by Crain’s Alby Gallun.

Push to slow gentrification in Pilsen and along 606 Trail with demolition fee advances: “Property owners and developers who want to demolish existing buildings in Pilsen and near the 606 Bloomingdale Trail would be required to pay a fee of up to $15,000 that would be used to fund affordable housing projects across the city, under a proposal that advanced Monday,” by WTTW’s Heather Cherone.

Chicago will no longer require SAT for high school graduation in pandemic year: “Chicago Public Schools is waiving the district’s SAT graduation requirement for current 12th graders. The district says that it will make the test available for those who have not tested yet, in case they need to send scores to colleges and universities,” by Chalkbeat Chicago’s Samantha Smylie.

How to tell if city’s school reopening is a success? It’s complicated: “How to assess the success of school reopenings is a complex, nuanced question that experts — in public health and in academia — are still grappling with, even as more districts nationwide have moved to reopen classrooms. Almost a month into Chicago’s elementary reopening, there’s not enough data yet to paint a complete picture,” reports Chalkbeat Chicago’s Mila Koumpilova.

CPS’ Agassiz Elementary — named after a racist biologist — to be renamed for Harriet Tubman: “The Lake View school will be the first Chicago Public Schools building to receive a new name — but likely not the last — through a review process officials are undertaking,” by Sun-Times’ Nader Issa.

Opposition to ordinance restricting ‘house museums’ grows: “Entities from the Art Institute of Chicago to the international Society of Architectural Historians are condemning the effort as throwing cold water on an emerging tourism sector,” reports Sun-Times’ Maudlyne Ihejirika.

Father wants answers regarding investigation into police officer who shot his son: “His son, Maurice Granton Jr., was shot and killed by Officer Sheldon Thrasher on June 6, 2018, while scaling a fence in the South Side’s Bronzeville neighborhood. The 24-year-old’s family has since filed a Cook County lawsuit in the case,” by Tribune’s Jeremy Gorner.

Old St. Pat’s pastor stepping down after nearly 15 years: Rev. Tom Hurley joined the parish of Chicago’s oldest church building as associate pastor in 2003 and became senior pastor in 2007. Sun-Times’ Grace Asiegbu has more.

Amid ongoing investigation, Pfleger says he will ‘seek other ways’ to work in the community: “An attorney for the men who made the allegations, expressed concern about Pfleger’s plan…and he disputed the notions in Pfleger’s letter that the investigation was moving too slowly and that the allegations were unfounded, saying the three men’s stories corroborated each other,” by Tribune’s Sarah Freishtat and Christy Gutowski.

— Willie Wilson, a businessman and philanthropist who ran for U.S. Senate in 2020, says he’s committing $200,000 to homeless organizations and women’s shelters in wake of the pandemic and he’s calling on the city “to put more resources” into fighting homelessness as well. “Our fellow citizens are struggling and what we do in times like these will be remembered. I am committed to shining a light on our homeless population and ensuring that they have resources to purchase food, and other items necessary for their survival.” Wilson said in a statement.

West Side health organization touts pandemic initiatives, looks ahead: “During a presentation shown during the March 18 virtual meeting, West Side United officials said they provided around $210,000 in grants to 12 West Side food pantries and issued $500,000 in small business grants, prioritizing West Side businesses that were in danger of closing. The grants helped 39 West Side businesses, they said,” by Austin Weekly News’ Igor Studenkov.

Cook County courts pass reopening test for first Covid-era trial: “Fifty-six brave souls showed up to the criminal courthouse on Chicago’s Southwest Side on Monday to serve as jurors for Cook County’s first jury trial in more than a year,” reports WBEZ’s Patrick Smith.

Man who shot 2, including CPD officer, wanted to ‘lure’ cops to area ‘to kill him,’ prosecutors say: “During Saturday’s rampage in Austin, Tracey Thomas Jr. first opened fire on two people, wounding one. He then targeted multiple responding officers, striking one in the hand before holing up in an apartment, prosecutors said,” by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba.

Judge overruled in election case: “An appellate court has overruled Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge Gail Noll, ruling that she goofed when dismissing a case filed by a candidate for Rochester Township road commissioner,” reports Illinois Times’ Bruce Rushton.

11 bird species now call Calumet area home — but they still need help, Audubon Society says: “The national group names the area as one of a dozen critical areas to saving birds and wetlands,” by Sun-Times’ Brett Chase.

Killing the filibuster becomes new ‘litmus test’ for Democratic candidates, by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett and James Arkin

Democrats agonize over ‘defund the police’ fallout, by POLITICO’s Holly Otterbein

Despite flurry of attention, Jill Biden is not leading family reunification effort, by POLITICO’s Anita Kumar and Eugene Daniels

College players are no longer settling for being on the sports plantation, by The Undefeated’s William C. Rhoden

— Today at 11:30 a.m.: University of Illinois at Chicago Chancellor Michael Amiridis headlines a City Club of Chicago virtual event.

— Thursday at 1 p.m.: The “March for Asian Lives” kicks off at Crescent Bakery in Arlington Heights to honor the eight victims of the Atlanta spa shootings. The event is organized by Elk Grove Village student Kaylyn (Lynn) Ahn, whose aunt once owned a Korean grocery. “I’m hoping we can provide a sense of unity and healing within the Asian American community on Thursday,” she told Playbook.

— Thursday at 7 p.m.: Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas, Judge Anna Demacopoulos and Judge Peggy Chiampas are among the featured Greek American speakers in Greektown Chicago’s virtual Greek Independence Day celebration.

MONDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to Kelly Kleiman, principal at NFP Consulting, for correctly answering that John Dillinger had his fingerprints burned off in a doctor’s office where the Green Mill Jazz Club is now located in the 46th Ward.

TODAY’s QUESTION: What now-defunct Chicago law firm had a direct connection to Abraham Lincoln? Email to [email protected].

Former state Comptroller Michael Bakalis (who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1978); Monique Garcia of Mac Strategies; Evan Keller, press secretary for Sen. Tammy Duckworth; and Valerie Michelman, a PhD student at the Harris School of Public Policy.



March 23, 2021 at 07:39AM

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