Happy Tuesday, Illinois. Lots of Illinois news, but no ones leaving the state. (see: Texas, where state Dems fled for D.C. to stop passage of an elections bill.)
Illinois GOP Chairman Don Tracy sent a letter to Republican leaders Monday expressing frustration that MSNBC, CNN and local media turn to Republican consultants who “trash” other Republicans. “When they are listed as current or former party officials, it falsely gives the impression that these people are speaking for all Republicans in Illinois or the Chicago area,” according to Tracy’s email, obtained by Playbook.
He doesn’t name names but it’s not hard to figure out that former state GOP Chairman Pat Brady doesn’t mince words about far-right Republicans when he’s interviewed by reporters.
Tracy is the first downstate chairman of the Illinois GOP in more than 30 years. He lives in Springfield, three hours from Chicago, making it difficult to accommodate live broadcasts. So he’s now assigning two surrogate Republicans in northern Illinois, Kathleen Murphy and Ammie Kessem, to represent the party during TV interviews when he can’t make it.
The issue is the surrogates tapped align better with Republicans south of I-80 than those in the Chicago area. Murphy is the former spokeswoman for former GOP gubernatorial candidate Jeanne Ives and a defender of Ives’ controversial TV ad attacking Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s record by featuring actors playing out sensitive cultural issues. It was uniformly criticized, including by the state GOP, for being racist, sexist and homophobic.
Kessem, the 41st Ward GOP committeewoman, is a Chicago Police sergeant and avowed Donald Trump supporter.
In an interview with Playbook, Tracy said that Murphy and Kessem “aren’t going out there to represent themselves. They are there to represent the Illinois GOP.” They will both work closely with Illinois GOP comms director Joe Hackler. “I don’t represent any wing of the party. I represent the entire Republican Party. And they will do the same,” Tracy said.
Though Tracy’s TV accessibility to Chicago may be a challenge, the real problem for the GOP is handling the tension between moderate Republicans (generally in the northern part of the state) and those who align with Trumpism downstate. Party leaders kept quiet, for example, when asked to address controversial Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene coming to Illinois to stump for GOP Rep. Mary Miller.
Along with backing up Tracy on TV, the GOP is working to expand its roster of voices to include women and minorities who can speak for the party.
Tracy’s letter has already generated interest. Stepping up are GOP State Central Committee members Jay Reyes and Nimish Jani, Republican National Hispanic Assembly Chair Jesus Solorio, Palatine Township Republican committeeman Aaron Del Mar, and Diante Johnson, president of the Black Conservative Federation.
A lot of hay was made about the Illinois House passing term limits earlier this year for the speaker, Senate President and minority leaders of both chambers.
House members felt a sense of accomplishment that change was in the air. Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch pushed for term limits immediately after taking the reins from longtime Speaker Michael Madigan.
But the bill stalled in the Senate. President Don Harmon gave it a thumbs down, saying it isn’t necessary given the Senate in 2017 passed 10-year term limits for Senate leadership posts. That change, however, wasn’t a statutory change. It was a rule change, which means it can be undone.
Rep. Anthony DeLuca (80th), who carried the bill along with Welch, was disappointed that Harmon snuffed the bill.
A spokesman for Harmon acknowledges there was concern that a term-limits bill would be unconstitutional.
DeLuca’s view: “It’s not our job as legislators to determine whether it’s constitutional. That’s up to the judicial branch.”
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Chicago’s top cop at White House said AG Garland pledged ‘significant’ help to fight crime in Chicago: “Supt. David Brown said President Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland had a ‘sense of urgency’ in the need to send more federal aid as Chicago grapples with unrelenting gun violence,” reports Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet.
Closer to home, state Rep. La Shawn Ford has asked Gov. J.B. Pritzker to call for an emergency meeting of the Violence Prevention Task Force, a state panel created in 2013 at Ford’s urging (through legislation) when violence was similarly plaguing Chicago streets. He also wants to bring in Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s team, Illinois State Police, Illinois National Guard, Cook County Sheriff and State’s Attorney offices, public defenders, and health care providers. “I am concerned that if we do not begin to take immediate action, more lives will be needlessly lost,” Ford wrote the governor.
A spokeswoman said Pritzker “is committed to reducing the public health crisis of gun violence, which is why the budget commits more than $100 million in new dollars for violence prevention programs. He appreciates ideas and input as we work together at the state, local and federal levels to strengthen communities and focus on creating opportunity for those in communities that have been left out and left behind.”
— Biden gun regulation nominee stuck in limbo as White House tries to stem crime, by POLITICO’s Marianne LeVine and Nicholas Wu
— Grief counselors in short supply with gun violence rising, by The Associated Press
Transportation Secretary Buttigieg will visit Chicago on Friday to promote President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan and to tour transportation sites in the area.
The former South Bend mayor was invited to visit Illinois by Rep. Marie Newman and the Democratic congressional delegation.
In a statement, Newman said she’s “beyond thankful” that Buttigieg accepted the invite. “I look forward to showing him first-hand how the American Jobs Plan will not only create more efficient roads and railways in Chicago’s communities but also bring much-needed economic development and new good-paying, union jobs.”
Buttigieg’s itinerary is still being planned, but if the invitation is any indication, he will be busy.
The Illinois delegation suggested he visit 14 different sites, including Midway Airport’s renovations, the CTA’s Red/Purple Line modernization, the Will County Intermodal Center, “the largest inland port in North America.” The list also included the I-80 bridge over the Des Plaines River, which is “one of the worst-rated bridges for traffic congestion, age and maintenance condition;” and the Lion Electric School Bus Factory under construction, which will build 20,000 electric school buses per year.
Interesting stuff for a transportation wonk, so it’s no wonder Buttigieg responded yes.
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Ald. Pat Dowell raised $375,00 in the second quarter in her bid to lead the Secretary of State’s Office, according to her campaign. The big number comes as Dowell lines up her finance committee, which so far includes Ujamaa Construction CEO Jimmy Akintonde, Iceberg Development CEO James Bergman, PGS Bronzeville CEO Fred Bonner, R&D Builders co-owner Eric Dantzler, R&D Builders co-owner Sheila Dantzler, retired Air Force officer Sandy Dyer, Lifebrand Hospitality Group owner Kenny Johnson, business consultant Laurel Lipkin, real estate developer Sam Saka, ERS Economic Development Firm principal Ernest R. Sawyer, and retired Judge Bill Taylor.
Rodney Davis, Lauren Underwood in focus: Brian Gaines, a professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, expects Democrats will work to “insulate” Rep. Lauren Underwood from a midterm in which the president’s party could get “walloped.” And he expects the remap will go against Republican Rep. Rodney Davis, reports WTAX’s Dave Dahl.
Chris Butler is running for the 1st Congressional District seat now represented by Rep. Bobby Rush. He is senior pastor at Chicago Embassy Church Network, the church he attended growing up.
Butler supports getting “big money out of politics,” changing the process for redrawing legislative and congressional maps, and civics education in schools, according to a statement announcing his bid.
He was a youth and young adult coordinator on the South Side for Barack Obama’s Senate campaign. He worked on the A+ Illinois campaign to address equity in school funding. He co-founded the Chicago Peace Campaign, which was folded into the peace efforts of Together Chicago. And he co-authored “Compassion (&) Conviction,” a book about faith and civic engagement.
Butler said he wants government to “move beyond the politics of division…I am not talking about the cheap unity of quiet suffering and non-confrontation. I’m talking about the hard-fought togetherness that comes from getting in a room and working through real differences with patience and respect.”
— Winnebago County GOP Chair Eli Nicolosi to challenge state Sen. Dave Syverson: “The only thing I will confirm is that I did submit papers on the State Board of Elections website,” Nicolosi said Saturday. “It’s pretty easy to draw a conclusion, but I would like to give an official announcement.” Syverson, 64, said he will run on his record, which he said includes passage of hundreds of bills, including property tax caps and ethics reform legislation, reports Rockford Register Star’s Ken DeCoster.
— Children in DCFS care still sleeping in offices, 2 years after governor called it ‘unacceptable’: “WGN Investigates has obtained new pictures that shows all that’s changed is the addition of a blow-up mattress. ‘DCFS has done nothing on this since you first broke this story a couple of years ago,’ Cook County public guardian Charles Golbert said,” by Ben Bradley.
— Vax shot jackpot? Chicagoan and two downstate winners to get $100,000 prizes in state’s vaccine lottery: “Winners will have seven days to complete the process to claim their prizes, and they’ll be announced in eight days, unless they choose to remain anonymous,” by Sun-Times’ Rachel Hinton.
— $300M needed for Decatur water system, consultant says: “It was the second in a series of study sessions intended to serve as the basis for lake and water planning decisions the city will make about its water utility through 2050,” by Lee Enterprises’ Brenden Moore.
— For generations of Illinois coal mining families, risk is part of everyday life: “In parts of downstate Illinois, coal mining is deeply ingrained in families and communities. But it has taken a deep toll on some,” by Energy News’ Kari Lydersen
— Great Lakes region needs about $2B for flood repairs, report finds, by The Associated Press
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and billionaire Neil Bluhm headlined a national gaming industry conference in Chicago on Monday. Lighfoot reaffirmed her commitment to what she called a fair, “wide open” and transparent bidding process for the city’s planned casino, “one of the most significant brick-and-mortar gaming developments in U.S. history,” reports Action Network.
Bluhm, chairman of Chicago-based Rush Street Interactive, was keynote at the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States (NCLGS) conference at the Intercontinental Hotel. He encouraged states to integrate online gaming with traditional brick and mortar casinos — brick and mortar, he said, still brings in more jobs and tax revenue. Bluhm also called for the same regulatory standards for online gaming and sports-betting that govern casino gaming.
There was humor, too. Bluhm told attendees that the convention was the first time he wore a suit in a year and a half — and he was just happy it still fit. And he was lauded by NCLGS President Keith Pickard, as “a billionaire who isn’t trying to get into space but instead is focused on jobs and the economy,” according to a source in the room, a reference to Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos’ space race.
BRIBES & TAX BREAKS: FBI investigating Board of Review employee who allegedly offered to lower property assessments for cash: “Lowering the property assessment of a commercial property cost $2,000, according to the feds. A home? That was a $1,000 bribe to a Board of Review employee who insisted he was sharing the bribes with co-workers,” by Sun-Times’ Jon Seidel.
— Lightfoot awards $10M in Neighborhood Opportunity Fund grants to 27 entrepreneurs: “The fund was created by the mayor’s predecessor, Rahm Emanuel. Developers are allowed to build bigger and taller projects downtown if they pay into the fund, which focuses on long-neglected South and West side neighborhoods,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.
— More Chicago high schools vote to remove school police: “More than 50 Chicago schools have until Wednesday to decide if they want to continue in the controversial school resource officer program. Local School Councils can choose to keep the two officers assigned to their respective schools, remove them or, in an option newly available this year, retain just one officer,” by Tribune’s Tracy Swartz.
— 700 applicants for 75 apartments in Jefferson Park affordable housing complex that some neighbors didn’t want: “The project at 5150 N. Northwest Highway was the subject of a long, heated, racially charged debate. But now some people initially skeptical of affordable housing have applied for spots, its developer said,” by Block Club’s Ariel Parrella-Aureli.
— Troubled Chicago Teachers Pension Fund has new leadership: “For the past five years Carlton W. Lenoir Sr. has been chief benefits officer at the Teachers’ Retirement System of Illinois,” by Crain’s A.D. Quig.
— Lightfoot denies reaching deal on new police contract: “Unfortunately, Mr. Catanzara’s announcement that there’s a deal simply wasn’t correct,” the mayor said Monday. John Catanzara, the union president, said his statement Friday was correct, adding: “I’ll have more to say later this week.” Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman reports.
— Lincoln Park Zoo welcomes baby piping plover: “The zoo put the egg in a hatcher after the parents, Rose and Monty, abandoned it,” by Sun-Times’ Stefano Esposito.
— Officials: 1st mosquitoes test positive for West Nile Virus in Chicago this year, by WBEZ’s Patty Wetli
— Marcus Lemonis has donated $21,000 to Dion’s Chicago Dream, a nonprofit that combats food insecurity in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, according to a release. Lemonis, the Chicago-area businessman and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the donation through his Lemon-Aid Foundation, which supports small businesses and entrepreneurs.
— STRIKE NEWS: 2,500 striking SEIU employees headed back to work Tuesday after tentative agreement is reached: “All in all we think we did as well as we could with what we were confronted with,” said SEIU Local 73 President Dian Palmer. Sun-Times’ Mitch Dudek reports.
— How suburban hospitals are handling ‘long-haul’ Covid-19 patients: “Many suburban hospital systems are tackling this new patient group in different ways, but most recognize a need for a multifaceted approach. Long-haulers typically have symptoms such as brain fog, lingering headaches, shortness of breath, chronic pain, persistent cough, sleeplessness, numbness or other health issues that didn’t exist before they had Covid-19,” by Daily Herald’s Jake Griffin.
— Weber, the Palatine-based maker of outdoor grills backed by BDT Capital Partners, filed for an IPO. “It plans to list on the NYSE (WEBR) and reports $89 million of net income on $1.5 billion in revenue for 2020. This comes just days after rival grill-maker Traeger filed for its own IPO,” reports Axios via filings
— Negotiations stall public hearing on proposed Naperville mosque, by Daily Herald’s Lauren Rohr
Survivor of Jon Burge torture moves forward on successful suit: “Nearly eight months after Jackie Wilson’s wrongful prosecution was dismissed with prejudice, Cook County Judge Alfredo Maldonado has ruled that a special prosecutor be appointed to investigate and prosecute current and former Assistant Cook County State’s Attorneys,” according to Chicago Crusader’s Patrick Forrest.
— Biden changes up the messaging strategy around his infrastructure agenda, by POLITICO’s Natasha Korecki and Christopher Cadelago
— Biden to call for ‘a new coalition’ to defend voting rights, by POLITICO’s Laura Barrón-López
— ‘Get on the team or shut up’: How Trump created an army of GOP enforcers, by POLITICO’S David Siders and Stephanie Murray
— Free lunch, immigration, more Medicare: What’s in the mix for Democrats’ ‘go-big’ bill, by POLITICO’s Jennifer Scholtes, Alice Miranda Ollstein and Ryan McCrimmon
Rose Marie Lipinski: She was a longtime Chicago Park District recreation employee, wife of former Congressman Bill Lipinski, and mother to Laura and Dan, also a former congressman, reports Ray Hanania in Suburban Chicagoland.
Vaughn Roland has joined Bird bikeshare and scooter company as Government Partnerships lead. He previously was a senior associate at Kivvit public affairs.
Today at 4 p.m.: “Memory and Monuments” webinar will discuss the 41 public statues and commemorative markers in Chicago that are being examined as part of “a racial healing and historical reckoning project.” Headlining is Kathryn Allamong Jacob, author of “Testament to Union: Civil War Monuments in Washington, D.C.” The event is sponsored by the Illinois State Society, based in Washington.
MONDAY’s ANSWER: We stumped you! Former Congressman Tim Hall’s twin brother Tom’s presence on the campaign trail prompted his Republican opponent Clifford Carlson to claim it was a deceptive campaign practice. Side note: This month is the 23rd anniversary of Disney’s “The Parent Trap.”
TODAY’s QUESTION: Who was the Illinois congressman who nearly derailed Newt Gingrich’s rise to power? Email to [email protected]
Gov. J.B. Pritzker stopped by state Sen. Mattie Hunter’s birthday party at The Park Supper Club in Chicago last night. Also attending were Reps. Lamont Robinson and Debbie Meyers-Martin, Ald. Pat Dowell (who’s running for secretary of state), Judge Dominique Ross (who’s running for the appellate court), and former Senate President John Cullerton and former state Sen. Donne Trotter.
Former state Sen. Suzi Schmidt and Illinois Restaurant Association President Sam Toia.
July 13, 2021 at 08:53AM