Happy Thursday, Illinois. Covid didn’t stop the pageantry of last night’s speech before Congress, though social distancing killed the applause moments.
Lawmakers were supposed to meet today to hash out their differences on three different bills that would create an elected school board in Chicago.
Instead, they’re holding off until Tuesday. At issue is getting everyone to cough up the names of negotiators who would sit at the table. Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford, who’s carrying the bill supported by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, was ready to go. So was Rep. Delia Ramirez. But state Sen. Robert Martwick was slow to offer up the names of his supporters, so the meeting has been delayed.
The question is whether this is a calculated delay tactic by Martwick or just a scheduling difficulty in the age of Covid.
The delay comes as lawmakers must consider revamping the city’s complicated school system, one of the largest in the country. Martwick and Ramirez, who are backed by the Chicago Teachers Union, want to see a fully elected 21-member board. Lightfoot and Lightford are pushing a hybrid board of elected and appointed members.
There’s some calculus behind each side. The CTU wants to control the decision-making for Chicago Public Schools, which is now overseen by the mayor. An elected school board means the union could fund its own candidates.
The mayor, meanwhile, wants to keep the decision-making under her purview. The current system makes the mayor accountable for school performance and, in turn, the $500 million the city doles out to CPS. There’s some question about what happens to that $500 million if the mayor isn’t in charge of schools. Would the state pay instead?
It’s a nuance lawmakers will need to address. Also of concern is whether minority parents would lose a voice. The current structure allows parents to take part in local school councils, which determine how individual schools operate. They allow all parents, including immigrant and undocumented parents, to take part safely in discussions and decision-making. A fully elected school board could eliminate that.
Interesting side note: Creating an elected school board would further secure Illinois’ ranking as the state with the most governmental bodies. We’re already No. 1.
Lawmakers are working on gambling legislation, but it’s not the behemoth kind of package we saw in 2019 that included everything and the kitchen sink.
“I’d like to see us get in a different mindset,” Democratic Rep. Bob Rita told Playbook after Wednesday’s House Executive Committee on possible gaming proposals. Instead of thinking that a gaming bill won’t get passed again for 20 years — so you pile in what you can — Rita wants lawmakers and companies to look at gaming as an issue that can be revisited in each legislative session.
On Wednesday, lawmakers heard discussions on allowing iGaming, which would see internet gambling at casinos or racetracks; banning towns from creating push taxes that critics say take away from state revenue; banning “sweepstakes” machines that mirror video gambling; and permitting college sports betting. Chicago businessman John Rogers Jr., who has a stake in the Chicago Sky WNBA basketball team, testified in support of that idea. Capitol News Jerry Nowicki has more from the hearing.
Next, Rita and Sen. Bill Cunningham, who’s looking at gaming legislation on the Senate side, will narrow legislation to something that can pass without having to make too many concessions.
As for proposals that don’t make it in this year’s bill, sometimes you just gotta know when to fold. Ba dum tsh!
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At Navy Pier at 10:30 a.m. to give an update on Chicago’s reopening efforts.
No official public events.
In the Cook County Building for a noon press conference to promote Monday, May 3, as Restaurant Day.
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Wednesday reported 33 additional deaths and 2,728 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus disease. That’s a total of 21,891 fatalities and 1,328,454 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from April 21-27 is 3.4 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 4.7 percent.
Chinatown found its own solution for bringing vaccines closer to home: Across the U.S., many communities have felt left out of the race to get vaccinated. This isn’t unique to Chicago. But Chinatown reflects how one neighborhood wasn’t going to wait, writes WBEZ’s Kristen Schorsch.
— Biden just gave the most ideologically ambitious speech of any Democratic president in generations: “With his vow to spend money on blue-collar jobs and tax the rich, Biden’s program aims to splinter the Trump Coalition,” writes POLITICO’s John Harris.
— Biden embraces his inner Robin Hood: “In his first address before a joint session of Congress, the president embraced a tax-and-spend mantra to frame his next big legislative fight, walking right up to a third rail that has terrified Democrats for decades and forced his predecessors to triangulate and retreat to safer middle ground,” by POLITICO’s Natasha Korecki and Christopher Cadelago.
— ‘It was weird’: Scenes from Biden’s speech: “President Joe Biden’s first joint address to Congress was odd, due to the pandemic, but also a return to political monotony,” by POLITICO’s Sarah Ferris and Burgess Everett.
— The president’s speech drew bipartisan responses from the Illinois delegation: Democrats used the word bold most often in responding to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin called the president’s jobs plan a “bold investment.” Sen. Tammy Duckworth said she’s “hopeful” for the future. Rep. Chuy García (IL-04) hailed the administration’s “once-in-a-century investments.” Cheri Bustos (IL-17) said the next step is to “put forward a ‘blue-collar blueprint” that rebuilds infrastructure and ensures farmers have a role in combating the climate crisis. Rep. Marie Newman (IL-07) called Biden’s first 100 days “historic.” And Rep. Bill Foster (IL-11) acknowledged “There is a lot of work to do.” Republican Rep. Darin LaHood (IL-18), meanwhile, criticized Biden, saying he has “threatened” the country’s economic rebound. Though LaHood acknowledged being “encouraged by his words of bipartisanship.”
— Penny Pritzker in Barron’s: The former secretary of Commerce says Biden’s early wins are paying off for business
— ANOTHER POLICE FOOT CHASE, ANOTHER DEATH: Armed man was running away when police fatally shot him in Portage Park: “Video released Wednesday from the Chicago police killing of 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez shows Alvarez with a gun in his hand — and his back turned toward the officer — as he ran away from police when he was killed,” by WBEZ’s Patrick Smith.
… Lightfoot, aldermen look for answers after release of video showing Anthony Alvarez’s fatal shooting, by Tribune’s John Byrne and Gregory Pratt
— Lightfoot says law enforcement should look into any potential sex crimes at Park District: “Lightfoot responded to a story published Tuesday by WBEZ, which disclosed the park district inspector general’s long-running, ‘broad investigation’ into complaints that dozens of workers in the Aquatics Department regularly committed ‘sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, workplace violence, and other criminal acts’ – sometimes against minors working at Chicago’s pools and beaches,” by WBEZ’s Dan Mihalopoulos.
— Cash-strapped Loretto Hospital paid millions to companies formed by ousted executive’s pal: “Before COO Anosh Ahmed resigned after hooking up friends with early vaccines, Loretto Hospital was paying millions to companies founded by Ahmed’s close pal and business partner,” by Block Club’s Kelly Bauer and Better Government Association’s David Jackson.
— Several Chicago hospitals earn low marks for quality, safety in new reports, while Rush shines: “St. Bernard Hospital in Englewood earned the only F in the state in safety ratings released Thursday by the nonprofit Leapfrog Group, which grades hospitals twice a year. Five Illinois hospitals earned D grades, including Chicago’s Stroger Hospital and University of Illinois Hospital, Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Vista Medical Center East in Waukegan, and Gateway Regional Medical Center in Granite City. Many of those hospitals serve high numbers of low-income patients,” by Tribune’s Lisa Schencker.
— 1 in 5 high schools students absent from class, CPS data shows: “Even as officials celebrated the reopening of all CPS high schools last week, the district saw low attendance for both in-person and remote learners a year into the pandemic,” by Sun-Times’ Nader Issa.
— Renaming Lake Shore Drive for Jean Baptiste Point DuSable set for key vote today: “South Side Ald. David Moore, 17th, hopes he has the votes in the council Transportation Committee to rename 17 miles of outer Lake Shore Drive — from Hollywood Avenue on the north to 67th Street on the south — for Jean Baptiste Point DuSable, a Black explorer of Haitian descent who’s credited as the area’s first nonnative settler for establishing a trading post along the Chicago River in 1779. But the mayor has put forward its own plan to name the downtown Riverwalk for DuSable,” reports Tribune’s John Byrne.
— Good Samaritan rushes brothers hurt in drive-by shooting, crash to Chicago hospital: “This proved today is there is a cost for a person’s life, and it’s 50 shares or 300 likes or this number of comments. There’s a number that makes it OK,” said the driver, who was upset that others weren’t willing to help. WGN’s Tonya Francisco reports.
— Goodbye Vista Tower, hello St. Regis. “Chicago’s newest skyscraper has a new name, new hotel and a restaurant deal with Alinea Group,” reports Tribune’s Ryan Ori.
— Bronzeville Winery aims to create next generation of local entrepreneurs: “The winery expects to open this summer in the 4400 Grove development,” by Sun-Times’ Evan F. Moore.
— Chicago hit record high temps Tuesday, and then things took a wild turn, by WTTW’s Patty Wetli
— Hilarity ensues as Rizzo strikes out ‘Frederick,’ via MLB.com
From the Bears to ponies at Arlington Park — everything’s still on the table: “We’re interested in exploring those opportunities and others,” said Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes, who has been involved in ongoing discussions with track owner Churchill Downs Inc. and real estate broker CBRE, which listed the track for sale in February. Daily Herald’s Christopher Placek
Metra boosting Electric Line service May 10: “More weekday and weekend Electric Line service will be added next month to accommodate returning riders as COVID-19 fears ease and to provide transportation to a new Amazon facility to be built in University Park, Metra announced Wednesday,” transportation reporter Richard Wronski writes in the Hyde Park Herald.
— Report calls for reducing number of incarcerated women in Illinois and more support for those bettering themselves: “Convened by the Women’s Justice Institute, the task force issued a report that includes 250 recommendations, ranging from eliminating prison charges for basic needs, like email access and tampons, to mass commutations for women where a history of gender-based violence was not initially considered by the court system,” by Tribune’s Annie Sweeney.
— Ex-Exelon lobbyist is fined for ‘grossly inappropriate’ harassment: “David Fein, a former top lobbyist for Exelon Generation, the company that manages its nuclear fleet, lost his job in 2019 when the allegations against him were first raised with his superiors and later became public in a report by Crain’s,” by WBEZ’s Dave McKinney and Tony Arnold.
— Summer camp rituals amid a pandemic will be different, from more masks to no high-fives — ‘elbow- and foot-fives only,’ by Tribune’s Alison Bowen.
— Pritzker enters crowded battle over ‘Clean Energy,’ utility accountability after ComEd scandal: Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s plan “incorporates some elements of the other already-proposed measures, including ending an energy rate formula lawmakers approved in 2011, championed by utility giants Commonwealth Edison and Ameren. The proposal would also phase out coal by 2030, and end natural gas use by 2045 by reducing caps on greenhouse gas emissions year over year, and implementing an $8 per ton carbon price on emissions from fossil fuel-fired electric plants,” reports NPR’s Hannah Meisel.
— ‘Included and engaged’ or ‘political indoctrination’? Mentoring bill passes state Senate after sharp debate: The Illinois State Board of Education defines culturally responsive educators as those who “critically think about the institutions in which they find themselves, working to reform these institutions whenever and wherever necessary” and have “assessed how their biases and perceptions affect their teaching practice.” Sun-Times’ Andrew Sullender and Rachel Hinton report.
— So far, Illinois isn’t ready for ‘New Illinois’: “State Rep. Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) brought a House committee a proposal to begin the process of separating Cook County from the rest of the state. The other 101 counties would become the 51st state, ‘New Illinois,’” by WJBC’s Dave Dahl.
Elmhurst University issues ‘all clear’ following lockdown for reports of gunman on campus: “Elmhurst police and university public health officers responded to reports of a man with a gun was near the Dinkmeyer and Niebuhr residence halls, Elmhurst University tweeted Wednesday at about 4:30 p.m. The campus remained on lockdown as police searched buildings in the area,” by Tribune’s Clare Proctor.
Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel is expected to be named ambassador to Japan, according to the Washington Post, which reports President Joe Biden could announce that and other high-profile ambassador postings in the coming weeks — or days.
“The process has been complicated by sensitivity to naming candidates other than the coterie of well-connected White people, most of them men, who have been the mainstay of Biden’s political circle,” according to the report.
Emanuel is listed among “emerging initial choices, some of which are nearly final.”
Along with Chicago’s former mayor, Cindy McCain, the widow of late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), is listed as a potential envoy to the World Food Program, a United Nations body.
— The misunderstood first 100 days of Kamala Harris, by POLITICO’s Eugene Daniels and Christopher Cadelago
— Some kids never logged on to remote school. Now what? By POLITICO’s Juan Perez Jr.
— Giuliani’s New York home and office raided by the Feds, by POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein, Meridith McGraw and Betsy Woodruff Swan
— Republicans join Senate Dems in restoring Obama climate rule, by POLITICO’s Anthony Adragna
— FDA readies plan to bar menthol cigarettes nationwide, by POLITICO’s Sarah Owermohle
— David Turkell joins Hauswirth/co strategic comms firm as digital director. Turkell campaigned for President Barack Obama in 20 states in both the 2008 and 2012 elections. His most recent work includes serving as digital director for former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the Into Action Creative Lab. Previously, he ran West Coast outreach for Scouts for Equality to end the gay ban in the Boy Scouts of America.
— John Kelker, who has served as the president and chief professional officer of the United Way of Central Illinois since 1996, announced he is retiring effective April 1, 2022. United Way board chair Cass Casper said the announcement nearly a year out will allow the agency “to conduct a proper search, secure his successor and make a seamless transition.” State Journal-Register’s Steven Spearie reports.
State Rep. Kelly Cassidy has started a GoFundMe page to help Aaron Bailey pay for funeral expenses for his mom, who died over the weekend. Bailey is the page in the Illinois House of Representatives. “He takes such good care of all of us, this is our opportunity to help take care of him,” Cassidy wrote.
Saturday (not today): The Mama Caucus kicks off with a virtual town hall addressing employment, child care, schools, and self-care. Speakers include state Reps. Margaret Croke, Avery Bourne, Kelly Cassidy, Janet Yang Rohr, and Lakesia Collins; Cook County Commissioners Bridget Gainer, Donna Miller, and Bridget Degnen; Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner Josina Morita, Chicago City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin, and Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia. There will be break-out sessions for attendees.
WEDNESDAY’s ANSWER: We stumped you! House Deputy Majority Leader Mary Flowers’ Capitol office was once designated as the press room.
TODAY’s QUESTION: A neon sign reading “The World Needs God” was mounted near the top of the Montgomery County Courthouse in Hillsboro from about 1940 until 1996 when it was ruled unconstitutional. Where is that sign today? (h/t Jim Bray) Email to [email protected].
Graham Media Group CEO Emily Barr and Isabelli Media Relations CEO Janet Isabelli.
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April 29, 2021 at 07:19AM