Good Friday morning, Illinois. I’m your guest host, Daniel Payne, and my time steering Playbook sunsets today. The great Shia Kapos returns Monday.

After more than a year of fear, uncertainty, and heartbreak, Illinois reopens today.

For the first time in 16 months, there will be no pandemic-related limits on most of your day to day. No more limits on public gatherings or most activities. Businesses, schools, restaurants, gyms, salons and most other public places won’t have any more capacity limits. Masks can come off most of the time for vaccinated people, and large events are again allowed — including festivals, concerts and conventions.

Don’t throw away those masks yet, though — they may still be required in a few places, like public transit, airports or hospitals — and municipalities may still create more restrictions.

Want more details about what you can and can’t do now? Check out this guide from the Tribune.

The reopening is thanks to a vaccination effort in the state that is expected to meet President Joe Biden’s goal of 70 percent of adults getting their first shot by July 4, according to a recent announcement from the governor.

The infection rate in the state is also at a record low, the Sun-Times’ Madeline Kenney reports — as is the number of Covid hospitalizations, the Daily Herald’s Katlyn Smith writes.

Illinoisans have a lot of plans for their first days of normalcy.

Business owners and managers are excited and a bit worried about the challenges of reopening at full capacity.

“It’s basically like opening the business from scratch because we’re going to have to find people to work, which is a national problem,” Paul Slagle, general manager of the Libertyville bar and restaurant Firkin, told the Daily Herald’s Jake Griffin.

Churches are ready to reopen, with the State Journal-Register’s Steven Spearie reporting that one Catholic bishop says members of the Church in the Springfield Diocese are obligated to return for holy days again. Holy water and communion on tongues will be allowed again, according to the Sun-Times’ Cindy Hernandez.

Most Illinoisans are excited about getting back into public settings and connecting with people they haven’t seen in a while — you can read more about what people across the state are going to do this weekend in this Tribune story or this Daily Herald story.

Margaret Cassidy, from Franklin Park, spoke to the Tribune, and said what most of us are thinking:

“I just want to live life,” she said, “and not look at the person behind you to say, ‘OK, you’re not 6 feet away from me.’”

One year ago today, Shia noted that Republicans and Democrats were debating a move to phase four of reopening — before more surges and new information about the virus would keep changing the state.

Today, it looks like those debates may be behind us for good.

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Thursday reported 18 additional deaths and 366 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus disease. That’s a total of 23,014 fatalities and 1,386,628 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from June 3-9 is 1 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 1.4 percent.

That didn’t take long: Republicans have filed a federal lawsuit to overturn new electoral maps passed by Democrats last week.

The suit argues that the districts are not valid because they were drawn using survey information, not official census data. Because the data is not fully representative, the lawsuit says, the new maps created from it violate the Constitution’s “one-person, one-vote” principle.

The survey information and the coming census data both come from the Census Bureau, but the official data — which is more comprehensive, experts say — was delayed because of the pandemic. Republicans also argue that using survey data over official census data could lead to voters of color having less electoral power because of undercounting, according to Crain’s Business’ Greg Hinz.

The new maps were already scrutinized by Republicans for their partisan genesis. But the new suit — from House Minority Leader Jim Durkin and Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie — is the first concrete action against the maps, which were signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker last week.

“Today’s filing should come as no surprise to Illinoisans,” Durkin said in an announcement about the lawsuit. “The partisan process upon which the legislative maps were drawn flies in the face of the strong recommendations made by countless advocacy groups and citizens who testified at the redistricting hearings.”

Democrats defended the process.

“It is disappointing but not surprising Republicans would seek to strike down these new maps, which reflect the great racial and geographic diversity of our state,” Democratic state Sens. Omar Aquino and Elgie Sims said in a statement. “Throughout this process, they have done nothing but delay and obstruct efforts to ensure our communities are fairly represented, as seen by their refusal to even draft their own proposals.”

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

At Gibson’s Italia at 9:15 a.m. to announce Chicago’s full phase 5 reopening. Then at the corner of North Park and Willow at 2 p.m. to kick off the 2021 Old Town Art Fair.

No official public events.

In Ford Heights at 10 a.m. to celebrate the completion of the $16.7 million redevelopment and rehabilitation project.

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Buttigieg is invited to Chicagoland. As you’re reading this, Democratic members of the Illinois congressional delegation are about to send a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg urging him to visit the Chicago area to tour nearby transportation projects and promote the Biden administration’s infrastructure plan.

“As you begin to tour the country to share the promise of President Biden’s American Jobs Plan to rebuild, modernize, and green our nation’s transportation systems and infrastructure, we write as a delegation to invite you to tour our many wonderful transportation assets in the Chicagoland area and across the state of Illinois,” the letter says.

See the full letter, including a list of proposed tour sites, here.

Pritzker’s energy plan revealed, proposing $694 million for Exelon nuclear plants, closing Prairie State coal plant: After the announcement that the state legislature would return to work on a controversial energy bill now that it had been negotiated by Pritzker, his proposal has been revealed in reporting by the Sun-Times’ Rachel Hinton.

The proposal would cause the nuclear subsidy to be distributed over five years, as well as creating new clean air goals of phasing out coal by 2035 and natural gas by 2045. Each year, $2 million would go from electric customers to pay for decommissioning costs. The deal also includes the creation of a task force to investigate carbon capture in Illinois.

The Prairie State coal plant should have been exempt from the restrictions, some lawmakers argued when the Legislature was in session last, but Pritzker’s deal would treat it like other coal plants in the state.

The Senate will return Tuesday, and the House will return Wednesday — both to address the new proposal along with other last-minute legislative goals.

Hinton also tweeted that an energy proposal included a $300 million fine on ComEd, the energy company both key to this deal and at the center of a bribery scandal last summer. Republican Rep. David Welter said legislation had been “substantially updated,” Hinton reports.

After years of mockery, Illinois is finally earning high marks over its finances: “As the state heads out of the pandemic, preparing for a full reopening Friday, it is flush with federal COVID-19 relief cash. Vendors are being paid at a faster pace than at any point in the past 20 years. And a $42 billion state budget soon headed to Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker fully funds big priorities, lacks some of the familiar accounting gimmicks of years past and appears balanced,” WBEZ’s Dave McKinney and Tony Arnold write. “Yes, balanced.”

State task force considers redesigning, moving monument of MLK Jr.: “Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White testified Wednesday during the task force hearing that the image of King reflected in the statue does not properly reflect one of the heroes of the civil rights movement,” Capitol News Illinois’ Sarah Mansur writes.

More than two years after Aurora mass shooting exposed flaws in state gun laws, Illinois Democrats have yet to act: “A month after Gov. J.B. Pritzker took office in 2019, giving Democrats complete control in Springfield, flaws in Illinois’ gun laws were exposed when a convicted felon whose state firearm owner’s identification card had been revoked opened fire in an Aurora warehouse, killing five co-workers and wounding a sixth along with five police officers,” the Tribune’s Dan Petrella reports.

Judge will appoint special prosecutor to probe conduct of Cook County state’s attorney’s office in Burge-related case that imploded at trial last year: “A special prosecutor will be appointed to investigate potential wrongdoing by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office related to the case of Jackie Wilson, whose trial fell apart last year after a prosecutor admitted to having a relationship with a key witness and then allegedly lied on the witness stand,” the Tribune’s Megan Crepeau reports.

In a broad and blistering ruling, Judge Alfredo Maldonado on Thursday said “what happened here in this case was an absolute disgrace.”

R. Kelly wants to go to trial in New York without Chicago-based attorneys: “Kelly’s leading defense attorneys threw a wrench into the case earlier this week when they asked to withdraw from the case two months before trial. Other members of the legal team say they were fired,” the Sun-Times’ Jon Seidel reports.

— Another troubled energy deal — Why ComEd’s deal with Chicago is stalled: A top city official told WBEZ’s Becky Vevea that the talks between the energy giant and Chicago were at a standstill. After ComEd admitted to involvement in a bribery scandal last year, Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued demands of the company, and since, she put out a public request for information from other utility companies.

Chicago hotels struggling to staff up for full reopening must wait for $75M in federal relief: “The president of the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association has been told it will be late summer before he knows if Mayor Lori Lightfoot will grant his request for a $75 million, hotel-only version of the Payroll Protection Program,” the Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman reports.

Chicago charter strike ends with a tentative agreement and unanswered questions: “Teachers at three campuses of Urban Prep Academies agreed to a tentative contract with the charter division of the Chicago Teachers Union that would extend through June 2022. The agreement includes retroactive raises for the past three years that would put educators closer to a district-run salary schedule,” Chalkbeat Chicago’s Cassie Walker Burke reports.

Political feud escalates between Lightfoot and Ja’Mal Green: “Planning and Development Commissioner Maurice Cox is now citing Green’s outspoken criticism of the mayor’s plan to locate Chicago’s first new Boys & Girls Club in a generation on the campus of the police and fire training academy being built in West Garfield Park,” the Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman reports.

Police body cams reduced to ‘high-tech vest ornaments’ if CPD doesn’t improve program, watchdog says: The Chicago Police Department still has no standardized process for reviewing video from body-worn cameras and also has not developed policies requiring supervisors to pinpoint incidents that should have been recorded by responding police officers, but were not. That’s the bottom line of a follow-up analysis by Deborah Witzburg, the city’s deputy inspector general for public safety, the Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman reports.

Lightfoot reveals vision for healing downtown: “The Lightfoot administration is proposing to close portions of three of the city’s major thoroughfares on occasion this summer — North Michigan Avenue, State Street and LaSalle Street — as part of a newly detailed plan to help downtown bounce back from the pandemic,” writes Crain’s Business’ Greg Hinz.

Votes are there to rename Lake Shore Drive for DuSable over mayor’s objections, alderman says: “The votes were there last month to rename Outer Lake Shore Drive in honor of Jean Baptiste Point DuSable and they will be there again on June 23 to forge ahead over Lightfoot’s strenuous objections, Ald. Sophia King (4th) said,” the Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman writes. Lightfoot has sought to develop a park and rename the Riverwalk in DuSable’s honor instead.

Feds say Patrick Daley Thompson lied, claimed he made payments on loans from failed Bridgeport bank: “A prosecutor told a judge Thursday that Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson falsely told federal agents he had been making payments on loans he received from a Bridgeport bank before regulators shut it down amid an alleged massive fraud scheme,” the Sun-Times’ Jon Seidel and Tim Novak write.

CPD suspends cop tied to Proud Boys, launches probe into sex abuse claim: “A Chicago cop has been issued a five-day suspension for his ties to the far-right Proud Boys and is now facing a second internal probe into allegations of sexual abuse,” the Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba reports.

University of Illinois system is awarded $1 million to make textbooks more accessible, according to an announcement from Sen. Dick Durbin’s office.

An oral history of Chicago’s biggest restaurant group as it turns 50: From ‘one of the worst restaurant names of all time’ to a possibly cannabis-laced future: Lettuce considers the possibility of cannabis in its future dishes, the Tribune’s Louisa Chu, Nick Kindelsperger, Adam Lukach and Josh Noel report.

People turned to pot to cope with the pandemic: “‘Globally we saw cannabis use skyrocket—it was more of a tool for people who were stuck inside,’ said Jamie Schau, research director for Brightfield, which surveys 3,000 regular cannabis users quarterly,” Crain’s Business’ John Pletz reports.

‘He’s not DeSantis enough’: Idaho governor whacked over Covid policy, by POLITICO’s Ximena Bustillo and Marc Caputo

Biden wants the G-7 to unite against China. Beijing’s trade wars are helping, by POLITICO’s Gavin Bade

The Geophysicist Who Stormed the Capitol, by Melanie Warner for POLITICO Magazine

— Zeenat Rahman will be executive director of the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. She currently is director of the Aspen Institute’s Inclusive America Project, and is a Hillary Clinton and John Kerry State Department alum.

— Julius West is joining Uber’s in-house lobbying team. He most recently was chief of staff to Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) and is a Nancy Pelosi and Chris Van Hollen alum.

— Rachel Cannon is joining Steptoe in Chicago as a partner, working in the firm’s Investigations & White-Collar Defense Group. She is a trial lawyer and has experience as a federal and state prosecutor.

Today: 10th Dems founding chair and former state Rep. Lauren Beth Gash, Holistic CEO Tom Alexander, Terminal Getaway Spa CEO Marko Iglendza, K2 public affairs VP Nick Klitzing, governor’s office deputy comms director Jason Rubin, and civic leader Maria Smithburg.

Saturday: state Rep. John D’Amico (15th), Cook County Circuit Court Judge John Curry Jr., Chicago Ald. Emma Mitts (37th), Secretary of State’s Office Director of Intergovernmental Relations Jill Zwick, Women’s Business Development Center CEO Emilia DiMenco, retired Circuit Court Judge Nick Ford, Chicago Board of Elections Commissioner William Kresse, Frank software company head of operations Mary Urbina-McCarthy, and POLITICO Editor Carrie Budoff Brown.

Sunday: state Rep. Dave Severin (117th), Cook County Circuit Court Judge Patricia Spratt, former state House Rep. Luis Arroyo Sr., Rep. Robin Kelly’s legislative director Matt McMurray, businessman and former lieutenant governor candidate Scott Lee Cohen, Mac Strategies Group account executive Chris Gallo, securities trader Lee Blackwell, and political fundraiser Dylan Lopez.



via Illinois Playbook

June 11, 2021 at 07:17AM

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