HARRIS to visit Chicago — KICK-START for Illinois — RAY LaHOOD’s error of omission


HARRIS to visit Chicago — KICK-START for Illinois — RAY LaHOOD’s error of omission

Happy Thursday, Illinois. Watch for Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Doctors Allison Arwady and Ngozi Ezike to be on the mound for the Cubs’ first day of baseball. H/T Tribune

Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Chicago on Tuesday for a quick trip to address vaccine equity with Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Chicago’s mayor invited Harris to showcase the city’s work in getting shots in arms, especially within the city’s Black and Latino communities, a spokeswoman for Lightfoot told Playbook.

In a tweet, the mayor said she was “excited to welcome @VP” Harris to Chicago. “Our team prioritized equity in the rollout of our Covid vaccines. I’m looking forward to sharing details with her.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who could also meet with Harris, this week announced a pilot program to reduce disparities in vaccinations, including among those older than 65.

Harris is expected to arrive from California, where she and husband Doug Emhoff will have celebrated the Easter weekend. Emhoff is staying in California.

This is Harris’ first trip to Illinois since she and President Joe Biden were elected to the White House. In 2019, when Harris also was a presidential contender, she visited Chicago for a fundraiser. Harris and Lightfoot, both former prosecutors, also had a quiet dinner at Chicago Cut steakhouse. If those walls could talk!

This time, along with connecting with allies like Lightfoot, Harris is expected to tour a vaccination site or pop-up facility where residents can get vaccinated.

Lightfoot wants to showcase the city’s Protect Chicago Plus program, which has helped boost vaccination rates from 20 percent to 50 percent among people of color. The program has found success by offering vaccinations in neighborhoods as opposed to just hospitals, according to City Hall. So, we’re not expecting any stops at Loretto Hospital (ahem).

Given Harris is now a Democratic celebrity visiting a Democratic city, it’s no surprise her dance card likely is already full.

Along with meeting with Lightfoot and, possibly, Pritzker, there are numerous other political friends in Chicago who would like facetime with Harris. State Rep. Kam Buckner, who’s a family friend going back years, hopes to say hello. Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia backed Harris for president before joining team Biden-Harris. And Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has considered Harris a mentor in her work supporting judicial reform.

The American Jobs Plan unveiled by the president Wednesday is a humongous effort to revitalize the country’s aging roads, bridges and other infrastructure. If the $2 trillion plan can get through Congress — and that’s still an if — it could transform areas of Illinois, especially Chicago.

“It would kick start the economy,” Democratic state Rep. Marty Moylan, who heads the Illinois House Transportation Committee, told Playbook. “That would help in downtown Chicago, which is struggling from last year’s civil unrest and because people aren’t going downtown for work. New projects could bring them back.”

An infusion of federal funds could see a Chicago Transit Authority expansion, most likely on the Red Line. There could be an effort to improve the shoreline, especially on the north end of Rogers Park, which is eroding. And of course the wear and tear on Chicago roads would call for an update.

Lawmakers could also dust off statewide projects that have been on hold because of the pandemic. Many of those projects were part of the infrastructure legislation that the General Assembly approved in 2019.

Biden’s proposal takes a swipe at his predecessor. To defray the costs of the plan, the corporate tax rate set by former President Donald Trump would go up. Biden would increase it to 28 percent, from 21 percent.

“That will set the stage for a split-screen debate in Washington in the coming months,” reports POLITICO’s Brian Faler. “Even as Democrats haggle over how to divvy up that $2 trillion, they will simultaneously relitigate — and, they hope, overturn — the centerpiece of Trump’s economic legacy.”

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

At the Cubs game.

No official public events.

Holding a virtual town hall at 10:30 a.m. to answer questions about student loan debt along with experts in the field.

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Wednesday reported 29 new deaths and 2,592 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus. That’s a total of 21,301 fatalities and 1,244,585 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from March 24-30 is 3.3 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 4.6 percent.

As Chicago sees ‘quantum leap’ in cases, Lightfoot says more reopenings will have to wait: "Seeing the uptick on the North Side that we’ve seen, we are concerned and we’re urging members of those communities, whether it’s Old Town, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Portage Park, Old Irving, that’s where we’re seeing the increase and we’re seeing it in the 18- to 39-year-old cohort across different races. We’re concerned,” Lightfoot said during an unrelated news conference. the Tribune’s Gregory Pratt reports.

Why are Covid numbers heading up again? It could be that the public is following ‘recipe for a surge,’ report the Tribune’s Madeline Buckley and Angie Leventis Lourgos.

How one Chicago ZIP code got 500 times more vax doses than another: "Nearly five times as many doses have shipped downtown to the geographically tiny 60602 ZIP code that covers six blocks of skyscrapers along Washington Street. All 1,400 doses there went to one location of a publicly-traded company called One Medical that charges $199 a year membership fee for access to primary care physicians 24 hours a day,” reports WBEZ’s Becky Vevea and Kristen Schorsch.

Raoul warns against posting vax cards online: "Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul warned Wednesday against ‘scams and fraud’ associated with COVID-19 vaccination cards, and said his office is looking into reports of fake cards being sold online,” by the Tribune’s Jenny Whidden.

City blew 40% of police consent-decree deadlines last year; Lightfoot points to ‘substantial progress’: "The 2019 consent decree is a federal court order requiring the Chicago Police Department to enact reforms in discipline, supervision, training and recruiting. The city has at least five years to comply,” by the Sun-Times’ Frank Main and Fran Spielman.

Watchdog says Chicago using ‘deeply flawed’ gang database, by WTTW’s Heather Cherone

Activists closely watching Chauvin trial, saying the outcome could spark mass protests: "The killing of George Floyd played “a central role in last summer’s racial justice movement, and the apparent callousness on display in the video of Floyd’s death are motivating many in Chicago to keep a close eye on the trial, which is expected to last about four weeks,” WBEZ’s Patrick Smith reports.

Chicago Restaurants Coalition wants its workers prioritized for vaccination: "The coalition is advocating for restaurant employees to get shots ahead of other workers included in Phase 1C. … The coalition is concerned about having to take a step back as the city’s test positivity rate, now 4.5 percent, continues to rise,” by the Sun-Times’ Zinya Salfiti

— Betting on a casino: Lightfoot said Wednesday she’s not ready to identify locations for a planned Chicago casino. “Obviously, I have ideas,” the mayor said during an unrelated press conference.

The city is putting out a request for proposals soon, she said. “It has to be a win-win for the city and casino operator,” Lightfoot said, adding a casino has to be a “part” of an entertainment district, not the sole part. “We need an entertainment district, a tourist destination for people all over the world.”

Unemployment the tip of the iceberg of pandemic’s impact on Black Chicago: "One year after the pandemic hit, the city’s Black neighborhoods remain the hardest hit by job loss and its fallout,” reports WBEZ’s Esther Yoon-Ji Kang.

RAY LaHOOD admitted hiding $50K loan from foreign billionaire: "The former Transportation secretary received the payment in 2012. … Under the deal struck in 2019, federal prosecutors agreed not to file criminal charges over the omissions and misstatement, while LaHood agreed to pay a $40,000 fine and to repay the loan,” by POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein.

Feds investigating controversial shooting by Chicago police on CTA Red Line: "The alleged victim, Ariel Roman, received a subpoena to testify before a federal grand jury in January about the shooting, according to a copy of the subpoena reviewed by the Tribune,” by Jeremy Gorner and Jason Meisner.

2009 Portage cold case dismissed as victim’s mother prays for man held 28 months in son’s shooting death: "Porter County Prosecutor Gary Germann dismissed the case Wednesday without prejudice because witnesses changed their statements and because of a lack of physical evidence. The case against [Dominique] Smith could be refiled, pending the identification of another person who was present when the killing occurred…Jeremiah Higgins was shot to death in a Portage apartment,” by the Post-Tribune’s Amy LaValley.

Argument over face masks at Park Ridge nail salon leads to confrontation, arrest, police say, by the Pioneer Press’ Jennifer Johnson

Former state Sen. Annazette Collins indicted on federal tax charges over her lobbying income: "The indictment was the latest brought in connection with the ongoing federal corruption probe into an alleged bribery scheme by Commonwealth Edison to influence then-House Speaker Michael Madigan.

"Collins, a Chicago Democrat who left the legislature in 2013, was one of a number of ex-Springfield lawmakers hired by ComEd after retiring from public office, though the indictment does not specifically mention her work for the utility giant,” by the Tribune’s Jason Meisner.

Latinx speakers urge Waukegan school board not to rename school for Barack and Michelle Obama: Concerns about the former president’s record on immigration, given Waukegan has such a strong Latino community, are at issue. Board members will consider the names of the Obamas, the late Congressman John Lewis and both Dolores Huerta & Cesar Chavez together for Thomas Jefferson Middle School. The board votes April 13.

How Cook County medical examiner’s office handled 10,000 Covid-related deaths: "They have dealt with more than 700 dead during the 1995 Chicago heat wave, the 273 people killed in the 1979 crash of Flight 191 and the remains of the 33 young men slain by John Wayne Gacy. But as Cook County marked 10,000 confirmed deaths from coronavirus-related causes Wednesday, never before have the doctors, investigators and technicians at the medical examiner’s office had to handle so many dead in one year,” writes the Tribune’s Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas.

Unpaid Cook County property taxes reveal depth of landlords’ pandemic pain: "Outstanding bills illustrate the commercial real estate sector’s woes and give clues about which building owners may be giving up their fight to weather the Covid storm,” by Crain’s Danny Ecker.

Illinois eviction moratorium for renters likely to extend, but don’t get too far behind, by ABC/8’s Leah Hope

— School board politics at its best: At an emergency meeting Monday, the Board of Education of Dolton School District 149 voted to remove one of its own members after a special counsel investigation found that Wilbur Tillman had acquired the school district’s list of vendors and used it for campaign contributions, which violates district policy on “abuse of office,” according to a statement from the board.

The school board voted 6-0 to recommend to the South Cook Intermediate Service Center that it initiate the process to formally remove Tillman from south suburban Dolton 149 school board. Tillman abstained from the vote.

— Figuratively speaking: U.S. Figure Skating has selected Kalamazoo as the site for the 2022 Midwestern and Pacific Coast Synchronized Skating Sectional Championships. The event will be held Jan. 26 through 30 at Wings Event Center.

Cash flows into Mettawa mayoral contest: "Mayor Casey Urlacher, who is waging a write-in campaign to retain his post, has amassed a campaign war chest of around $50,000. Urlacher’s allied slate of trustees has raised an additional $10,000 or so. The competing slate, led by former Mayor Jess Ray, expects to raise about $25,000,” by the Lake County News-Sun’s Chalres Selle.

D’s and R’s spar over who’s trying to inject more politics into task of drawing new legislative districts: "State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, who chairs the House Redistricting Committee, said, ‘Republicans have already been clear that their only goal is to rig the process to elect more right-wing candidates.’ One GOP legislator countered that Hernandez’s comments are ‘both unnecessary and destructive,’” by the Sun-Times’ Rachel Hinton.

— DATE CHANGE: The hearing to fill the seat vacated by Rep. Andre Thapedi has been moved from today to April 8. Democratic leaders changed the date so the appointment would occur after the April 6 suburban elections. Updated details here

State releases guide to school reopening: "Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the release of a new 180-page Learning Renewal Resource Guide to help school officials identify and address the most significant challenges they face. Pritzker said Illinois school districts can expect to receive roughly $7 billion in federal funds to help them transition back to in-person learning, mainly through the recently-passed American Rescue Plan. About 90 percent of that money will come in the form of direct payments,” by Capitol News’ Peter Hancock.

Kane County sees huge spike in child abuse, neglect cases: "Numbers are so high that leading members of the county’s court system asked the county board Tuesday to help them build a new courtroom in the juvenile justice center to better address the demand,” reports the Daily Herald’s James Fuller.

Labor allies target ‘at-will’ employment rules: "Groups support state legislation that would ban an employer from firing someone without just cause,” by the Sun-Times’ David Roeder.

Lawmakers weigh DCFS budget, future of department: "Many state agencies will see post-pandemic budget cuts, but the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) isn’t one of them. DCFS is one of the few that will see a budget boost — over $100 million,” by WICS’ Jordan Elder.

Cuomo signs bill legalizing adult-use, recreational marijuana in N.Y.: "New York officially joins 16 other states, including ILLINOIS, New Jersey and Massachusetts, that have embraced full legalization. More than two-thirds of the northeast’s 56 million residents will live in states that have legalized recreational cannabis, ramping up pressure on Washington, D.C., to ease federal restrictions on the drug,” by POLITICO’s Shannon Young.

‘Lord of the Flies’ factionalism now plaguing Trumpland, by POLITICO’s Meridith McGraw and Gabby Orr

White House knew more than a week ago of J&J contractor vaccine-supply problems, by POLITICO’s Erin Banco, Sarah Owermohle and Rachel Roubein

Pence reemerges, lays groundwork for 2024 run, by Theo Associated Press

— Carl Gutierrez has joined the Pritzker administration as legislative liaison for the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. He had been a speechwriter for Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

— Michael Cassidy is opening his own firm, Zephyr Government Strategies. Cassidy is a 13-year veteran at McGuireWoods Consulting, working on the state government relations group out of the Chicago, Springfield and Washington offices

— Deborah Hagan is retiring from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. The agency issued a statement thanking her for leading “several historic accomplishments” within the department as well as “improvements to the professional licensing process in Illinois and more consumer protections for its residents.”

— Today at noon: The state House Redistricting Committee meets to discuss the upcoming drawing of legislative and congressional maps. Here’s a full list of additional meetings.

WEDNESDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to Janet Mathis, CEO of The Development Consortium in Northern Illinois, and Union County Democrat Leo Driscoll for correctly answering that state Rep. Brad Halbrook, R-Shelbyville, has repeatedly introduced legislation to separate Chicago from Illinois — but to no avail. FYI: lawmakers in California, New York and Washington have introduced similar bills in those states.

TODAY’s QUESTION: What was the name of the steamboat involved in a landmark case handled by Abraham Lincoln? Email to [email protected].

MWRD Commissioner Cam Davis, Klarna’s Head of Strategy Natalia Brzezinski, Tennessee Sen. Bill Haterty’s Senior Comms Adviser Julia Hahn, former American Airlines exec Bill Hood and Tempus Inc.’s Senior Manager of Customer Experience Caity Moran.



April 1, 2021 at 07:35AM

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