With help from Maria Carrasco
Happy Thursday, Illinois. In the “it’s about time” file, President Joe Biden holds his formal press conference today, and POLITICO’s Anita Kumar will be among 25 reporters on hand with questions.
A top doctor at the center of the vaccination scandal at Loretto Hospital is out, and hospital trustees are investigating “all deviations” from the rules in how shots have been administered.
Dr. Anosh Ahmed, the hospital’s COO and CFO, submitted his resignation, and the board voted unanimously Wednesday night to approve it, hospital board Chairman Edward Hogan said in a statement.
“Additional consequences” could also be imposed if the board’s investigation uncovers anything “that indicates our processes were compromised,” Hogan said.
The statement comes after Block Club reported Wednesday that employees at an expensive Gold Coast steakhouse received vaccinations — yet another episode in a string of events where people connected to Ahmed “were seemingly able to cut the line” to receive the Covid-19 treatment.
Hogan’s statement also shows the hospital is trying to get control of a scandal that’s shaken trust in a facility that cares for the most needy residents of Chicago’s West Side. During the pandemic, Loretto Hospital has conducted more than 23,000 Covid-19 tests and administered more than 16,000 shots on-site, according to the statement.
But it’s the vaccines that have been conducted away from the hospital that are drawing outrage, prompting House Rep. Marty Moylan to call for an independent investigation.
— CPS vaccine provider had ‘every opportunity to get right’ with the rules, Lightfoot says: After switching providers because of misallocated vaccines, “the goal of getting first doses to all employees by the end of the month” should not be affected, by Tribune’s Hannah Leone and Gregory Pratt.
— DuPage cuts off vax supply to firm accused of misusing doses: “DuPage public health officials on March 12 stopped sending vaccine to Innovative Express Care, a firm Chicago says misallocated 6,000 shots,” reports Patch’s Mark Konkol.
Former GOP Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti testified in favor of a Democratic-backed bill Wednesday, and a fellow Republican blew up.
HB 2775 calls for the Illinois Human Services Department to step in and help landlords when tenants can’t pay their rent. Sponsoring Rep. La Shawn Ford, a Democrat, calls it “a human rights bill” that helps prevent homelessness among veterans, those with disabilities, families and seniors.
Sanguinetti supports the bill in her position as executive director of HOPE Fair Housing Center, prompting fireworks from fellow Republicans and signaling the challenge of who and what issues define the GOP right now.
During her testimony before the Housing Committee’s virtual hearing, she noted her GOP credentials more than once — she was Bruce Rauner’s No. 2 after all, a governor that engaged in a bruising fight with Illinois Democrats.
When she finished speaking, GOP Rep. Andrew Chesney erupted, saying it was “repulsive” that an avowed Republican would support such a progressive “anti-business” bill at a time the state is losing jobs and population.
He also criticized the bill, saying it would require all landlords to accept Section 8 housing vouchers mandating that private citizens or companies accept federal and state subsidies.
Chesney’s comments brought Democrats to attention. “It took us by surprise,” acknowledged a state rep on the Zoom.
In an email to Playbook, Sanguinetti called Chesney’s criticism “unfortunate,” adding “The Republican party is better than that. Housing is a human right, not a partisan issue.”
The friction was fleeting. With so many bills to go through before Friday’s deadline to get legislation through committee, most Democrats shrugged and moved on. The bill passed anyway given they have the majority.
But the blowup indicates a change in GOP politics in Illinois. Sanguinetti’s backing of Ford’s bill and all of its Democratic ideals goes against Republicans’ efforts in a post-Trump world to stay unified and focused on a conservative platform.
Guzzardi advances bill to repeal state ban on rent control: “Rep. Will Guzzardi said the rent control repeal would aim to give more “flexibility” to local municipalities in order to make their own decisions regarding rental costs,” by Capitol News’ Tim Kirsininkas.
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Marie Curie Metropolitan High School at 10:30 a.m. to announce the “Moving Forward Together” initiative.
No official public events.
No official public events.
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Wednesday reported 20 additional deaths and 2,793 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus disease. That’s a total of 21,136 fatalities and 1,227,708 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from March 17-23 is 2.8 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 3.4 percent.
— Pritzker gets his shot, raises concerns over rising Covid cases: ‘People maybe are being a little less careful,’ he says: “His comments echo similar warnings from state and city officials. Chicago’s top public health official have pointed to rising cases among young adults as an area of particular concern,” by Tribune’s Dan Petrella, Jenny Whidden and Gregory Pratt.
— The one thing that’s really gotten me through this Covid year? “Time with family. Sewing masks for others. A border collie named Willow. Board games. Prayer. A husband who makes wine.” Those are just some of the things Chicagoans told the Sun Times, writes Satchel Price.
New York prosecutors investigating Donald Trump asked Cook County about property records, emails show: “The documents signal that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s criminal investigation into Trump’s taxes and potential financial wrongdoing within his businesses could run, at least in part, through Chicago,” report WBEZ’s Dave McKinney and Tony Arnold.
— PRITZKER addresses the caps: In a memo to the Illinois Board of Elections, an attorney for Gov. J.B. Pritzker spells out why his recent $35 million donation he made to his campaign doesn’t make him a self-funded candidate.
— Appointment hearing UPDATE: Democratic Committee leaders in the 32nd House District will meet April 1 (not today) to interview candidates for the seat vacated by former state Rep. André Thapedi, who recently resigned. As many as half a dozen candidates have emerged so far, said 18th Ward Ald. Derrick Curtis, who has the largest weighted vote among committee members making the appointment. Letters and resumes should be sent to [email protected].
… The politics of filling a vacant state legislative seat: “Illinois is one of just four states in which vacancies in the state legislature are filled via appointment by the political party of the outgoing officeholder…this particular appointment process is often compared to a game of musical chairs, as political insiders (in the Chicagoland area, almost certainly Democrats) shuffle around to make sure their people end up with a seat,” reports City Bureau’s India Daniels.
— Downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly wants City Council to get final say on monuments decisions: “The move could ramp up the tension between Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the City Council, as the mayor seeks to make good on her campaign promise to reduce council members’ ward-level authority known as aldermanic prerogative, and aldermen push back against what they see as executive branch overreach,” report Tribune’s John Byrne and Gregory Pratt.
— Call to use Covid relief package to send Chicagoans cash triggers reparations debate: “Although the City Council voted 30-18 to pass the nonbinding resolution championed by Alds. Gilbert Villegas (36th) and Maria Hadden (49th), Black Caucus Chair Ald. Jason Ervin (27th) said it was an insult to talk about using $50 million to send 5,000 of Chicago’s neediest families $500 a month without having a plan in place to pay reparations,” by WTTW’s Heather Cherone.
… What aldermen did approve: New regulations for industrial developments, a pilot surcharge on residential demolitions in Pilsen and around The 606 elevated trail, and a resolution aimed at beginning the conversation about a city-run universal basic income pilot program, reports WBEZ’s Claudia Morell.
— Downtown Chicago, empty and quiet during pandemic, tries to imagine its future: “While some raise questions about the city’s future, Nixon Peabody is doubling down, renewing its lease for 15 years at 70 West Madison, a 57-story office building that has recently upgraded its fitness center, lobby and elevators to attract tenants,” by ABC/7’s Stacey Baca.
— Chicago asks its high schools to come up with alternatives to campus police: “On Wednesday, the school district offered the most detailed look yet at how it plans to reimagine school safety. Five community-based nonprofits will help train schools in student mental health, crisis de-escalation, and restorative practices such as peace circles,” by Chalkbeat Chicago’s Mila Koumpilova.
— Chicago says most of its teachers and staff should return to campus for 4th quarter: “But to bring those students back, Chicago needs in-person staff. And with a full reopening less than a month away, and with four schools-based vaccination centers up and running, Chicago is asking most of its teachers to return to campus,” reports Chalkbeat Chicago’s Yana Kunichoff.
— NASCAR to feature Chicago street course in 2021 virtual racing series: “The race course is possible through a partnership with the city and iRacing, which scanned real streets and avenues to develop the virtual rendition of the course,” by Sun-Times’ Manny Ramos.
— LIGHTFORD PROPOSES JUNETEENTH HOLIDAY: Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford’s SB 1965 would make Juneteenth a statewide holiday commemorating African American freedom. The measure passed the Senate’s Executive Committee on Wednesday goes for a second reading today before heading to the Senate floor. “Making Juneteenth a state holiday is a way of highlighting our freedom and reminding us how far we’ve come,” Lightford told WGN/9. Juneteenth honors the end to slavery in the United States and is considered the “second American Independence Day.” The day has since grown into a celebration of Black history, culture, arts and reflection on the impacts of the Civil Rights Movement. The legislation comes on the heels of Cook County Board voting recently to make Juneteenth a paid holiday for government employees.
— Bill aims to regulate books read in Illinois schools: “A new bill would require more diverse authors of any books used in school lessons. School boards would also have to approve or deny any books that are a part of a course or assigned reading lists. The goal of the legislation is to prevent biased or racist literature from being read in public or charter schools,” reports News Channel/20’s Jakob Emerson.
— Legislation would make more fireworks legal in Illinois: “HB 2996 would make ‘ground sparklers,’ or fireworks that sit on the ground and emit a shower of sparks legal for consumer use in the state. The bill recently passed out of the Consumer Protection Committee,” by WJPF Radio’s Robert Thies.
— Additional fishing fee proposed to fight Asian carp: “Lawmakers in the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee forwarded House Bill 2744 to the floor for consideration Monday after approving it along party lines. If enacted, it would implement the aquatic conservation stamp, a $5 stamp that fishermen must purchase before they’re able to legally fish in the state. It would be the same cost for in-state residents and those from elsewhere. It would become active in 2022,” by Center Square’s Cole Lauterbach.
— New report examines attitudes toward education amid pandemic: One of the main takeaways from the poll is that “nearly eight in 10 adults believe the Covid-19 pandemic has made teaching and learning more difficult,” according to the Illinois Education Association survey. Capitol News’ Grace Barbic reports.
— Opinion: Redistricting hearings fail to engage the public. Ask yourself why: “The Senate Redistricting Committee began a series of public hearings covering 15 regions of the state. Committee members say their goal is to allow citizens to speak their minds about what their legislative districts should look like and to submit their own proposed maps using a tool and a portal provided by the legislature. That tool is not available yet. Neither is the portal. In fact there are no numbers to work with,” writes Better Government Association’s Marie Dillon.
— Any amount of pot — even a semitruck full — would be legal to possess under bill advancing in Springfield: “The bill would lift restrictions limiting pot possession to 30 grams and would expunge all past convictions for possession or delivery dating back to 1970,” by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba.
— Park Ridge awaits applications for marijuana dispensaries as property owners work on agreements: “John Carlisle, senior planner for the city of Park Ridge, said the city has not received a special-use permit application for a recreational marijuana dispensary, but there have been ‘attempts by multiple property owners to form agreements with cannabis-industry operators,’” writes Pioneer Press’ Jennifer Johnson.
— Guilty pleas, sentencings begin in feds’ summer rioting cases, but investigations still going: “Not every case is necessarily on track for a guilty plea. And unsealed court records show how feds have tried to identify still at-large suspects through cellphone data,” by Sun-Times’ Jon Seidel.
— Sterling Bay sued over labor rules at downtown buildings: “The restaurant group behind Goddess & the Baker joins a string of tenants who say building managers illegally block them from using non-union labor. The disputes spotlight a long-standing practice in a city where labor wields lots of power,” reports Crain’s Danny Ecker.
— Chaotic scene unfolds as customer shot dead outside busy secretary of state’s office in Bridgeview: “A customer was waiting in line at the busy driver facility when one of the suspects, who was believed to also be a customer, shot the person, said Dave Druker, a spokesman for the Illinois secretary of state’s office and police.” Two suspects are being held. Tribune’s Sarah Freishtat and Liam Ford report.
— Ex-Vernon Hills deputy police chief indicted on allegations of official misconduct, theft: “Former Deputy Chief Patrick Zimmerman, who resigned from his post in September, is accused of fraudulently receiving grant money through the Sustained Traffic Enforcement Program administered by the Illinois Department of Transportation,” Pioneer Press’ James T. Norman reports.
— Pipe bombs found near Magnificent Mile 12 hours after a man was found dead there: Chicago Police Department’s bomb squad and SWAT team and the FBI responded, and questions remain about whether the two cases in the same apartment are linked. Tribune’s Rosemary Sobol, Jeremy Gorner and Alice Yin report.
— Biden discovers there is no way to script the presidency, by POLITICO’s Anita Kumar
— ‘They are, in effect, supporting racism’: Black leaders zero in on Dems’ filibuster holdouts, by POLITICO’s Zach Montellaro and Eugene Daniels
— McConnell’s No. 2 weighs future as Trump reshapes Senate GOP, by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett
— New evidence suggests ‘alliance’ between Oath Keepers, Proud Boys ahead of Jan. 6, by POLITICO’s Kyle Cheney
— CPS Chief Education Officer LaTanya McDade to exit after end of school year: “In an email to the CPS community, CEO Janice Jackson said the district will begin its search for McDade’s successor in the coming months,” by Sun-Times’ Madeline Kenney.
— Tribune reporter Hal Dardick, whose work covering government has been showcased for years in Playbook, is leaving to join Maria Pappas’ Cook County Treasurer’s Office. He will be part of a research team examining the property tax system in Illinois. “I have been gifted with a great opportunity,” Dardick tweeted Wednesday. “I’m grabbing it.”
— Gabie Hart has been hired as campaign manager for Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi’s 2022 reelection campaign. Hart most recently managed Tedra Cobb’s congressional race in New York’s 21st District. Previously, she worked as chief of staff for Operations for Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign. And earlier in her career, Hart served as director of Planning and Development to Ald. Brendan Reilly, and as scheduler to Rep. Brad Schneider. An Iowa native, Hart graduated from DePaul University with a BA in public policy.
— Becky Galler has been promoted to be the new Midwest regional director of J Street. She had been deputy regional director.
— Deb Detmers has joined The Newberg Group as an associate. She previously was district director to former Rep. John Shimkus.
— Ryan Croke has been elected president of the Mid-Illinois Medical District. He replaces. Dr. Charlotte Warren, president of Lincoln Land Community College, who had served as the MIMD president for the past 10 years. Croke is the chief of staff for the Illinois Department of Human Services.
— Legendary Chicago news anchor Ron Magers and Chicago Tribune police reporter Jeremy Gorner will receive awards in 2021 from DePaul University’s Center for Journalism Integrity & Excellence. DePaul will honor Magers with the Distinguished Journalist Award and Gorner with the Distinguished Alumnus Award.
— Gary Sinise, the actor, producer and musician who has made the Chicago area his home, will be awarded the Lincoln Leadership Prize on April 13 in a virtual program to benefit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation. Past recipients include Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, President Bill Clinton, film producer Steven Spielberg, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, Prime Minister Tony Blair, and President George W. Bush, to name a few.
— Today at 3 p.m.: The Senate Redistricting Committee Chicago South Subcommittee will be held virtually on www.ilga.gov. Members of the public may request to provide testimony, submit electronic testimony or submit electronic witness slips via the General Assembly website in advance of the hearing or through email at [email protected].
— Friday: Reps. Robin Kelly and Bill Foster of Illinois and Val Demings of Florida will host a virtual discussion on “Commonsense Gun Laws.” Nina Vinik, director of the Joyce Foundation’s Gun Violence Prevention & Justice Reform Program will moderate.
WEDNESDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, Illinois Human Rights Commissioner Barbara Barreno-Paschall, and journalist Andy Shaw for correctly answering that Mayor Richard J. Daley told President Lyndon B. Johnson that Edward Hanrahan should be hired as U.S. attorney because “He’s a great Democrat. He ran for Congress. He was defeated. He’s a graduate of Notre Dame, of Harvard…and he’s a precinct captain!”
h/t to Caleb Davis, a political science major at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., who answered correctly because he remembered the quote from “American Pharaoh” by Adam Cohen and Elizabeth Taylor (also a favorite source of Illinois trivia for your Playbook host).
TODAY’s QUESTION: What was the largest number of aldermen serving on the Chicago City Council? Email to [email protected].
Des Plaines Ald. Andrew Goczkowski, former Rep. Harris Fawell, former Rep. Terry Bruce, comms specialist Sofia Kinzinger, and UChicago Urban Network comms director Meredith Shiner.
March 25, 2021 at 07:35AM