Happy Wednesday, Illinois. With the holiday weekend coming up, I’m getting my menu ready. If you’re a grill master, I’d like to know your special July 4th recipe.

Illinois got its first credit rating upgrade in more than 20 years and Democratic state lawmakers couldn’t contain their glee. Even Republicans gave the news a nod.

“It’s huge,” Senate President Don Harmon told Playbook. “It improves our reputation and our ability to manage the state budget and debt. It’s a signal to the world that we’re doing something right.”

Moody’s Investors Service upgraded Illinois’ credit by one step, putting it two notches above junk bond status. The Wall Street ratings agency noted that the state’s $42 billion spending plan for the year starting July 1 “increases pension contributions, repays emergency Federal Reserve borrowings and keeps a backlog of bills in check with only constrained use of federal aid” from President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief plan.

“I promised to restore fiscal stability to Illinois, and Moody’s ratings upgrade demonstrates that Illinois’ finances are heading in the right direction for the first time in two decades,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement. “A ratings upgrade pays momentous dividends for taxpayers.”

He’s referring to the cost of borrowing. Bonds that fund Illinois infrastructure projects will get cheaper — a factoid Pritzker is sure to use on the 2022 campaign trail.

And House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch said in a statement: “This is yet another example that we can support all Illinois families, invest in our communities, provide high-quality state services to those in need, all while improving our fiscal health.”

Still, it’s not like we’re a beacon: “Even after the upgrade, Illinois remains the lowest-rated state on Moody’s scale, two notches below the next-lowest: New Jersey,” writes Tribune’s Dan Petrella.

Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie called the ratings upgrade “encouraging,” but he added, “claiming victory with federal money is misleading the people of our state.”

Harmon reminds that in spite of low credit ratings of the past, Illinois never stopped paying its bills. “The state will never miss a bond payment,” he said.

Simply: “A downgrade tells the world ‘We [Moody’s rating agency] don’t like the way you manage the state,’” explains Harmon. “And an upgrade, says, ‘Hey, we like what you’re doing.’”


Illinois economy surges in first quarter, but signs of pandemic stress still linger, reports Capitol News’ Peter Hancock.

Democratic politics shifted this week when House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch opened up the Illinois House Democratic Office in west suburban Westchester.

For decades, the 13th Ward offices located just above the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture on Pulaski Road served as the capital of Democratic politics in Illinois and Michael Madigan was the boss of the party.

The 13th Ward headquarters remain, but with Madigan out as speaker and party chair — and the Democratic Party of Illinois still without official offices — Welch has created a new House hub. It’s located in the same strip mall as Welch’s campaign and House offices. Separate entrances and a health food store in the middle work to divide political and legislative work.

Senate President Don Harmon made a similar office move when he took the reins. He moved the Illinois Senate Democrats team to Oak Park and saved about $5,000 a year on rent in downtown Chicago.

House members this week describe their new office as welcoming and especially accessible for representatives new to politics. The setup will allow legislators — especially newer lawmakers who may not have their own offices — to do phone banking and strategize.

It’s part of Welch’s plan to “teach people how to fish,” he told lawmakers Monday at a legislative open house. That means House candidates will be taking more responsibility for their own fundraising.

Under Madigan, Democrats relied on him to orchestrate campaigns. He was successful and it’s one of the reasons Democrats rule the House. But Welch wants individual lawmakers to start expanding their campaign repertoire.

“It’s a welcoming location and the concept of teaching members how to fundraise is fantastic,” Rep. Kathleen Willis told Playbook.

Rep. Marcus Evans sees it as another way Welch is supporting House members. “Everyone has different needs. It’s going to be a place where they feel comfortable to make calls and discuss strategy. And it’s important to have a centralized location.”


‘I’m the first, but I don’t want to be the last,’ Welch says: “State’s first Black House Speaker says his position allows young black kids to see themselves in the role, lauds his first legislative session at the helm,” by Wednesday Journal’s Michael Romain.

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

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At Oakwood Center at 9:30 a.m. for the unveiling of the Ida B. Wells Memorial Statue.

At Oakwood Center at 9:30 a.m. for the unveiling of the Ida B. Wells Memorial Statue.

Delta variant will be dominant, but WHO guidance on masks not applicable in Chicago, says Dr. Allison Arwady: “She said in an online question-and-answer session that Chicago would continue following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance that fully vaccinated people can take the face covering off in most situations. The WHO recommendation is global guidance and was made in consideration of places where vaccines are scarce, she said,” by Tribune’s Alice Yin.

Organ transplant patients remain vulnerable as country struggles to reach herd immunity: “Transplant patients want people to know that it is essential for healthy people to get the vaccine to protect those who have compromised immune systems. ‘It’s an act of patriotism to get the vaccine for the sake of our fellow citizens,’ Dr. Daniel Dilling said,” Tribune’s Madeline Buckley reports.

College athletes can get paid for endorsements per new state law: “Sponsoring Rep. Kam Buckner, D-Chicago, played football at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, and said he was fortunate to lead the fight 14 years after taking off his orange helmet. ‘This bill is about equity, it’s about parity, it’s about autonomy, it’s about the fair market, it’s about the legal tenet that we call the right to publicity,’ he told WTTW’s Amanda Vinicky.

State ‘baby stepping’ toward post-pandemic life with child care assistance expansion: “Pritzker announced that permanent policy change at a Decatur YMCA Tuesday afternoon and said the reduction in family payments, or copayments will likely reduce monthly child care costs for 80 percent of the state’s families,” by Sun-Times’ Rachel Hinton.

Families recovering from year of uncertainty hopeful about Child Tax Credit payments, by Sun-Times’ Elvia Malagón.

— Rolling in dough: New Illinois law eases restrictions for home bakers: “The pandemic expedited people returning to the kitchen as sourdough starters or dusting off old family recipe cards. But budding home bakers in Illinois have faced a patchwork of different laws across county lines or town borders. Illinois has lagged behind other states on home-based food businesses, said Beth Kregor, director of Institute for Justice at the University of Chicago Law School,” WBEZ’s Natalie Moore reports.

License plate cameras can help police, but privacy concerns raise call for regulation: Supports say the cameras help prevent crime, but critics note that “only a tiny percentage of the billions of plates photographed lead to an arrest, and that the cameras generally haven’t been shown to prevent crime. More importantly they say the devices are unregulated, track innocent people and can be misused to invade drivers’ privacy,” writes the Tribune’s Robert McCoppin.

Nicor’s ‘trash gas’ project gets green light despite widespread opposition: “The Illinois Commerce Commission’s decision was against the advice of its own staff and even the administrative law judge who handled the proceeding,” by Crain’s Steve Daniels.

Illinois schools lagged behind most states in access to in-person learning during pandemic, report says: “Illinois ranks 42nd in the country when evaluating the most access to full-time in-person learning during that period of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to research published Tuesday in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Wyoming and Montana had the greatest access on average, while Hawaii had the least,” by Tribune’s Tracy Swartz.

The land was worth millions. A Big Ag corporation sold it to Sonny Perdue’s company for $250,000: Chicago-based Archer-Daniels-Midland, “sold the land at a small fraction of its estimated value just as it stood to benefit from a friendly secretary of agriculture,” according to a Washington Post investigation.

GOP Reps. Rodney Davis, Adam Kinzinger join Democrats to remove Confederate statues in Capitol: “Both Kinzinger and Davis are mentioned as potential candidates for Illinois governor in 2022,” writes Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet

Illinois’ Dems say Postal Service’s new online complaint portal should be canceled: “Nine Illinois lawmakers sent a strongly-worded letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy outlining a series of problems with the new online portal,” by Sun-Times’ Manny Ramos.

20 aldermen demand hearing on police response to violence before Fourth of July weekend: “After two straight weekends marred by mass shootings, the aldermen say they can’t wait until after the holiday. They want Ald. Chris Taliaferro to schedule hearings on their resolutions pertaining to police staffing and tactics,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman. Here’s the letter.

How CPS will spend $525M to get at-risk students back on track after ‘unprecedented’ pandemic stresses: “Targeting more than 100,000 students considered the hardest hit by COVID-19 and months of remote learning, Chicago Public Schools has launched an initiative aimed at reengaging at-risk students and ensuring they’re back in the classroom when the city’s more than 600 public schools fully reopen in the fall,” by Tribune’s Karen ann Cullotta.

— The Rev. Jesse Jackson played host to Philippe Etienne, the French ambassador to the U.S., on Tuesday. Jackson showed him around the Rainbow Push offices in Hyde Park. Next month, Jackson told Playbook he will travel to Paris to receive the Order of the Legion of Honor for his work in civil rights and human rights. It’s France’s highest military and civilian award. Etienne tweeted that Jackson is “an inspiration, an educator and a motivator.” On Monday, Etienne awarded DuSable Museum CEO Perri Irmer with France’s highest honor in arts. The event was held in an intimate ceremony at the museum, writes Sun-Times’ Maudlyne Ihejirika

Shedd Aquarium’s new octopus needs a name — and it wants your help picking one: “Voting on the Pacific octopus’ name ends Sunday, according to the Shedd,” by Sun-Times’ Grace Asiegbu.

Rapper and poet Mykele Deville signs on as the Hideout’s new booker, by the Reader’s J.R. Nelson and Leor Galil

Secretary of state’s office settles lawsuit that alleged automatic voter registration rollout was botched: “The lawsuit, filed in February 2020 in federal court in Chicago, came after a series of problems with the system came to light last year, including a mix-up that resulted in at least one non-U.S. citizen voting in a 2018 election,” by Tribune’s Dan Petrella.

Former Springfield school board president Adam Lopez sentenced to 11 years on theft: “Lopez, in a court statement and at times breaking down emotionally, apologized to those he defrauded over $1.5 million from April 2014 to September 2018. That included his maternal aunt and uncle, Beverly and Ronald Lenhart, who were present Tuesday,” by State Journal-Register’s Steven Spearie.

Judge tosses General Iron owner’s lawsuit attempting to force city to give it a permit: “A federal judge rejected an argument that a Southeast Side car shredder has a constitutional right to immediately operate while a permit decision is still being made,” by Sun-Times’ Brett Chase.

Ruling in Chicago rioting ‘Joker’ case leaves some statements unusable by prosecutors: “U.S. District Judge Andrea Wood said Timothy O’Donnell sought the help of a lawyer when an FBI agent and a Chicago police detective asked him whether he wore the ‘Joker’ mask during last summer’s riots,” by Sun-Times’ Jon Seidel.

Prosecutors may seek death penalty in Gary bank robbery shooting where security guard from Tinley Park was fatally shot, by Post-Tribune’s Michelle Quinn

THE FIFTY: Trump supporters in Arizona are behind a push to review election results in Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and election administrators are worried it will further inflame conspiracy theories and erode faith in the American democratic system, writes POLITICO’s Zach Montellaro.

Opinion: What’s the victim of a legislative gerrymander to do? “Illinois Democrats targeted Republican state Rep. Deanne Mazzochi for termination with extreme prejudice — in other words, political oblivion. But the Elmhurst Republican has decided she won’t retire quietly to the sidelines,” writes the News-Gazette’s Jim Dey

Giannoulias picks up Laborers’ Union support as ‘hands down the right candidate’ for SOS job: “The endorsement is likely to come with boots on the ground support, and the union’s deep pockets will mean money for ads for the June 2022 primary as well as the November election,” by Sun-Times’ Rachel Hinton.

A ‘Justice Democrat’ picks a new fight with a longtime Chicago liberal, Rep. Danny Davis: “[Kina] Collins is no doubt hoping she can capitalize on any perceptible shift in declining voter support for Davis, even as an upcoming redistricting leaves the dynamics of the race — Illinois is poised to lose a congressional seat next cycle — somewhat in flux,” writes Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel.

— Young Democrats of Illinois elected new officers last week: Quinne Welter succeeds Arielle Maffei as president. Saghi Sandra Hosseini becomes executive VP; Dan Asonye, 1st VP; Bobby Mannis, 2nd VP; and Akanksha Balekai, 3rd VP; Marla Johnson, secretary; Anthony Vega, treasurer; and Izzy Dobbel and Thomas Maillard are National Committeepeople.

Latest New York mayoral count voided after ‘test’ ballots included in tally, by POLITICO’s Joe Anuta and David Giambusso

Murkowski has the moxie to take on Trump. Will she? by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett

Dems fret that GOP could tap pro-Trump chaos agents for Jan. 6 probe, by POLITICO’s Nicholas Wu and Sarah Ferris

America’s first Black billionaire wants his reparations check, now, via Vice

Target store closings show limits of pledge to Black communities, via the New York Times

How Biden’s infrastructure plan targets lead pipes, by The Associated Press

LATEST EVENT LISTINGS: Illinois House and Senate Republicans have lined up a long list of fundraising events.

Martyl Reinsdorf, creative force behind championship rings for Bulls and White Sox, dies at 85, via ESPN

— Kristen McQueary, editor of the Tribune’s editorial page and a former statehouse reporter, tweeted Tuesday that she’s leaving the paper. “After nine years on the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board and page editor since March of last year, Friday will be my last day at the paper,” wrote McQueary. “I applied for the buyout, but my application was not accepted. I’ll be pursuing other opportunities. Stay tuned!”

… “In a surprise plot twist, Chris Jones, who’s been the Tribune’s esteemed theater critic for 20 years, is the favorite to replace McQueary as editorial page editor,” sources told media reporter Robert Feder.

The Illinois Department of Human Rights has three new members to its leadership team. Steven Monroy is director of Fair Housing after five years as legislative staff attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational fund. Michael Sobczak is director of Public Affairs and Public Information after more than five years as digital director in the state Treasurer’s Office. And Adam Flores is director of Legislative Affairs after serving as policy analyst/legislative aide for Chicago’s City Council Committee on Finance.

— Liz Chavez is an immigration practice assistant with the North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic. She will work with the Domestic Violence Law Practice conducting research. Chavez previously was manager of Primary Education and Community Programs at Family Service of Lake County’s Nuestro Center.

TUESDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats Rep. Michael Zalewski for correctly answering that “forever open, clear and free” was (and still is) the rallying cry for lakefront protection.

TODAY’s QUESTION: Who’s the Civil War hero buried in Galesburg who General Sherman once complained about? Email to [email protected]

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Linda Perez, lobbyist John Kelly, Chicago YMCA CEO Dorri McWhorter, former state Rep. Dave Winters, Pritzker senior policy adviser Emily Miller, Chicago attorney and political fundraiser Mike Lieber, and political consultant Norm Sterzenbach.



via “Illinois Politics” – Google News

June 30, 2021 at 07:44AM

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