Happy Wednesday, Illinois. I got my second shot yesterday and, yeah, I’m pfeeling it this morning.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has teamed up with the most powerful woman in Springfield to carry her legislation for an elected school board, which could be introduced today.

Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford, who helped lead the groundbreaking criminal justice reform law, is working with the mayor on a bill that would replace Chicago’s seven-member appointed board with one that is a combination of elected and appointed officials.

The bill is still being drafted in the Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB). No word on how many board members are being recommended, but a source familiar with the draft language says it’s less than the 21 suggested by bills now floating around — one by Sen. Rob Martwick and another led by House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch. The Chicago Teachers Union is behind Martwick’s bill.

The number of board members is the least of the differences. Lightford and Martwick’s bills (and later Welch’s) also must resolve if and how many appointed members will be on the board, how to draw the voting districts, whether there will be term limits, and the schedule of elections. Another big concern is trying to keep money from poisoning the system. A good school board candidate may not be able to raise $1 million to run for office, for example. How do you temper that? It’s just another of the nitty gritty issues that have kept Chicago from adopting an elected school board.

Lightford should know. She brings decades of knowledge on education. She supported an elected school board going back to Mayor Richard M. Daley’s administration. Then eight years ago, activists upset at Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s school closures organized a petition calling for an elected school board — and they approached Lightford for help. The idea stalled while Emanuel and the former General Assembly leaders were in office. Now there’s been a leadership shift. Welch and Senate President Don Harmon support an elected board.

The challenge will be reaching agreement between parties that have been adversaries going back to the last mayoral election when Lightfoot and Martwick engaged in a public shouting match. Lightfoot and the CTU also have a contemptuous relationship.

Lightford is known as a skilled negotiator able to juggle the personality conflicts that could arise as they try to come to a happy middle in reshaping the Chicago school board. But it’s not going to be easy.


FIRST LADY JILL BIDEN and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona will travel to Illinois on Monday to visit Sauk Valley Community College. “Additional details to follow,” says the White House.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s team is interviewing candidates for the city’s top lawyer position since former Corporate Counsel Mark Flessner resigned over the (mis)handling of a police raid on an innocent woman’s home.

Chicago State University President Zaldwaynaka “Z” Scott is heading up the interviews along with two others. Scott is a former prosecutor and friend of Lightfoot’s so she knows what the mayor is looking for.

A source familiar with the search says the mayor has an eye on equity.

No word on whether First Assistant Corporate Counsel Renai Rodney, the No. 2 in the office, or Acting Corporate Counsel Celia Meza have applied for the position.

The job is one of the most difficult in city government because it straddles the legal and government worlds. On the legal side, the Law Department handles thousands of cases. And the government side is, well, government mired in Chicago politics.

Flessner left City Hall after a video surfaced of a raid showing Chicago social worker Anjanette Young standing naked in her apartment while seven male police officers searched her home for a suspect. They had the wrong home. Flessner had initially tried to keep Young from obtaining the video footage.

Flessner, a former federal prosecutor, drew controversy as soon as Lightfoot appointed him. There was confusion about his residency and where he paid taxes. He clashed with the City Council over the businesses that aldermen hired to do work in their wards. And he drew scrutiny for not releasing the full investigation into the firing of former Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.

Point being: Lightfoot’s looking for a no-drama lawyer.

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

No official public events.

No official public events.

No official public events.

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Tuesday reported 17 additional deaths and 3,193 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus disease. That’s a total of 21,540 fatalities and 1,285,398 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from April 6-12 is 4.3 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 5.7 percent.

What the pause on J&J shot means for Chicago area: “The J & J shot hasn’t been widely used across Illinois, as other vaccines arrived first. So far, Illinois has received more than 330,000 doses of the J & J vaccine and Chicago has gotten nearly 89,000 doses. That’s about 5 percent of the more than 7 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines that have been shipped to Chicago and the state. Most doses are two other vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna,” by WBEZ’s Becky Vevea, Mariah Woelfel, Kristen Schorsch.

Pritzker ‘does not have concerns’ 20 days after getting his shot of Johnson & Johnson vaccine: “Gov. J.B. Pritzker is among more than 290,000 Illinois residents who received the now-scrutinized vaccine before it was put on hold. None of the six severe reactions occurred in the state,” by Sun-Times’ Mitchell Armentrout.

Hospitalizations rising across Illinois as officials rush to prevent 3rd wave: “Most of the people who are being hospitalized now are younger than 50, which is very different than what Chicago saw during the rest of the pandemic, according to Chicago Department of Health Dr. Allison Arwady. She said that could be due to the fact older people are more widely vaccinated — and said older Chicagoans might also be taking more care than younger people,” by Block Club’s Kelly Bauer.

— Covid in Springfield: The return to work in the state Capitol brings with it continued concerns about coronavirus. A staff member in the House speaker’s office tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday, according to a statement Tuesday from the office. The speaker “was not in contact with the staff member and continues to stress the vital importance of public health safety measures as the House of Representatives gets back to work for the people of Illinois,” the office said. It follows news that someone from the governor’s office also tested positive.

Family of 13-year-old Adam Toledo views video of his fatal shooting: “Authorities said they would not immediately release the video publicly at the request of the Toledo family. The controversial shooting last month has sparked protests and renewed criticism of the Chicago Police Department,” by Tribune’s Annie Sweeney and Jeremy Gorner.

Peaceful group marches downtown to honor Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo, both killed by police, by Tribune’s Clare Proctor and Karen Ann Cullotta.

Aldermen approve massive re-write of Chicago’s home business ordinance: “One month after postponing the vote at the request of the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, Ald. Gilbert Villegas pushed a substitute ordinance through the Committee on Economic and Capital Development,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.

Justice Department joins lawsuit over accessibility of Chicago crosswalks: “The DOJ says the city is required to install accessible pedestrian signals that give audio or tactile cues when it’s safe to cross the street. According to the suit, Chicago has just 15 of those signals out of 2,700 crosswalks with visual signals,” by WTTW’s Nick Blumberg and Brandis Friedman.

Employers could face up to $5,000 fine for not letting workers take time off to get vaccinated: “Employers that mandate their workers get vaccinated would be required to allow them to do so during work hours and pay wages up to four hours each time an employee has to leave work to get a vaccine shot under the ordinance that cleared the Committee on Workforce Development on Tuesday,” by Tribune’s John Byrne.

Dogs banned from Chicago firehouses after one kills smaller pet walking near Englewood station: “A dog named Bones — believed by the Fire Department to be a mixed-breed stray taken off the street — was living at Engine 116 at 60th Street and Ashland Avenue when it got out and killed a small breed dog being walked in the area,” reports Tribune’s Charles J. Johnson.

— Opinion: Scrutiny of Navy Pier’s Operations Is Long Overdue: “Taxpayers own Navy Pier, made a big investment in getting Navy Pier Inc. started—and have a compelling interest in knowing how it’s being run,” writes the Better Government Association’s David Greising.

WSJ weighs in on Chicago: “Most fights in one-party states are internecine. In Illinois, the Democrats who control Springfield have all but declared war on Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who is trying to prevent her city’s further decline,” it writes in an editorial about the battle with the Chicago Teachers Union about reopening high schools.

Correction: Sen. Tammy Duckworth raised $1.8 million in the first three months of the year, and has $3.7 million cash on hand. Your Playbook host mistakenly flipped the numbers in yesterday’s newsletter.

Art Institute of Chicago names its next board chief: “Denise Gardner, who will start in the post in November, is believed to be the country’s first Black woman to lead a major museum board,” via The New York Times.

Convicted murderer Drew Peterson’s oldest son faces pot-growing charges in DuPage County: “The oldest son of ex-Bolingbrook police Sgt. Drew Peterson, imprisoned for killing his third wife, is facing felony drug charges after authorities accused him of operating an illegal marijuana-growing operation out of his home near upscale Burr Ridge,” by Tribune’s Christy Gutowski.

— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Ald. Edward M. Burke campaign war chest is still funding his defense against federal charges he used his elected position to steer business toward his private law firm. Campaign finance records show he paid nearly $30,000 this month to the Jenner & Block and Loeb & Loeb law firms handling his defense case. And that follows similar payments in January and February.

Political operative with ties to Burke, Sandoval pleads guilty, agrees to cooperate: “Rudy Acosta Sr. admitted that he made cash payments in order to sway Martin Sandoval, and that he ‘facilitated bribe payments’ to another unnamed official,” by Sun-Times’ Jon Seidel

— Op-Ed: Pritzker, Harmon, Welch lay out their agenda: Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Senate President Don Harmon and House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch say they plan to spend the $7.5 billion coming from President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan by paying off debt, unpaid bills and borrowing that’s accrued over the past year to the tune of $2.5 billion. The Democratic leaders also will put funding toward efforts to spur job creation and economic growth. “Putting people to work and growing our state’s economy means accelerating our infrastructure plans for rebuilding Illinois, supporting small businesses—our greatest job creators—and making sure our educational and health care institutions thrive,” they wrote.

— Nuclear costs: The Climate Union Jobs Act passed out of committee Tuesday and heads to a Senate subject matter meeting Thursday. It’s one of the bills addressing renewable energy and how to handle Exelon’s nuclear plants. The looming question is what’s in the audit conducted by Synapse Energy Economics Inc., the independent company tasked with investigating how much money Exelon really needs for its nuclear fleet. The audit is in the governor’s office but hasn’t yet been released to lawmakers who want to know how big the price tag will be.

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Congressman Bobby Rush is introducing the Martha Wright Prison Phone Justice Act, which would protect inmates from having to pay pricey phone bills while incarcerated. “Prison and jail phone rates are astronomically high,” Rush said in a statement to Playbook, saying that a local 15-minute call can be as much as $25 in some facilities. Rush’s bill would ban the commissions that prisons and other confinement facilities receive from phone service providers, which is the primary cause of increased rates. Rush also wants to cap intra- and interstate phone services at 4 cents per minute for prepaid calling, and 5 cents per minute for collect calling. The legislation is named for Martha Wright-Reed, who fought for affordable prison phone rates after being subject to hundreds of dollars in fees each month while she kept in touch with her incarcerated grandson.

GIDWITZ will fundraise for Senate Republicans: “Ronald Gidwitz, a Trump-era ambassador and one-time Illinois gubernatorial candidate, will be national finance co-chair,” reports POLITICO’s James Arkin.

THE FIFTY: Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker was criticized by the right and some business folks for issuing executive orders during the worst of the pandemic. But he has a cushion in working with an all-Democratic General Assembly. Other governors don’t have it so easy. Across the country there’s an effort to curtail governors’ sweeping powers, reports POLITICO’s Nick Niedzwiadek.

‘It just makes you sick to your stomach’: Gregg Popovich reacts to Daunte Wright fatal shooting, by the Houston Chronicle

Mayor asks for Minnesota AG to take up Daunte Wright shooting case, by POLITICO’s Quint Forgey

Obamas: ‘Our hearts are heavy’ over shooting of Daunte Wright, via CNN

Biden moves to leverage corporate America’s falling out with GOP, by POLITICO’s Anita Kumar and Christopher Cadelago

‘Breyer Retire’ campaign looms over Dems’ tenuous majority, by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett, Marianne LeVine and Laura Barron-Lopez

Thursday evening: Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Illinois Democratic Party Chair and Rep. Robin Kelly, and Atlanta Journal-Constitution political columnist Patricia Murphy headline a virtual discussion about Illinois, national politics and Georgia’s new voting law. Sun-Times’ Laura Washington and Lynn Sweet moderate.

Shoba Pillay, a former assistant U.S. attorney in the Northern District of Illinois, has joined Jenner & Block in its Chicago office. Shoba will be a partner in the firm’s Investigations, Compliance, and Defense Practice and the Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Practice.

TUESDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to EMILY’s List Midwest finance adviser Sarah Carrillo for correctly answering that Glee featured a competition in which fictional 51st Ward Alderman Martin Fong, a Democrat representing the new North Side and the West Loop corridor, was a judge.

TODAY’s QUESTION: Which Chicago suburb is home to one of the world’s only circular particle accelerators (now inactive)? Email to [email protected].

State Sen. Neil Anderson (36th), Ald. Harry Osterman (48th), civic engagement activist Anita Banerji, Assistant Trade Rep for Media and Public Affairs Adam Hodge, the voice of Oak Street Maureen Lampert, and Syneos Health Public Affairs Strategist Laura Keehner Rigas.



via Illinois Playbook

April 14, 2021 at 07:16AM

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