Happy Thursday, Illinois. WTTW gives a sneak peak of the Pullman National Monument ahead of its Labor Day opening.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Playbook won’t publish next week and will return to your inbox Tuesday, Sept. 7.

Michael Madigan isn’t part of the legislative redistricting effort, but his presence permeates the process.

The legal team representing the Democratic-led General Assembly on the remap includes attorneys who have for years worked for the former House speaker.

Michael Kasper, the noted election lawyer and former general counsel to Madigan when he was speaker, is heading up the legal team.

Other attorneys are Heather Wier Vaught, who was chief counsel to Madigan and represented him when his team was accused of ignoring sexual harassment claims. Adam Vaught, her husband, is also on the General Assembly’s legal team and has represented Madigan, too, including when the former speaker was sued for allegedly orchestrating sham political candidates. And Devon Bruce is with the well-connected Power Rogers law firm, which has donated to Madigan’s campaign fund.

It’s not a surprise that redistricting attorneys worked for Madigan. Given the former House speaker was in office for 50 years, it’s probably hard to find folks who haven’t worked with or for Madigan. Illinois Republicans, for example, hired McGuireWoods to do some research and that firm gave thousands to Madigan’s campaign fund.

Experience matters: Redistricting cases usually end up in the Illinois Supreme Court over state constitutional law and in federal courts regarding federal constitutional law and statutory law, so you need attorneys with a broad range of experience. Wier Vaught, for example, was part of the remap team 10 years ago and on the litigation team that successfully defended that map.

Once the latest legislative maps are wrapped up, attention will turn to Chicago and some folks in City Hall wonder if those same lawyers will be part of the council’s remap process, too.

It’s a sensitive subject as Madigan is still the ward boss (committeeman) of the powerful 13th Ward that’s represented on the council by his ally, Ald. Marty Quinn. The 13th Ward has seen a population shift in recent years, from a predominantly white community to one that’s 75 percent Latino. A remap that would allow for a power shift is possible.

All this isn’t to suggest that there will be shenanigans in the remapping. In fact, one key member of the redistricting team has no connection to Madigan at all.

Sean Berkowitz is with Latham Watkins. But before that he was a U.S. attorney who led the case against Enron Corp’s Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling. He takes no prisoners.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker will announce a vaccine mandate today for all school employees from K-12 through higher education as well as a statewide indoor mask mandate for everyone 2 and older, a source with knowledge of the announcement told Playbook.

The decisive action comes as downstate Illinois enters a crisis stage because of its low vaccination rates. A week ago, southern Illinois had a vaccination rate of about 40 percent. Statewide, the vaccination rate is 60 percent for residents 12 and older, according to the Department of Health.

Pritzker’s expected mandates come on the heels of the Food and Drug Administration giving full approval to the Pfizer vaccine. Illinois will follow California, Connecticut, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington in ordering vaccine mandates for school employees.

Today’s announcement also follows Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announcing that city workers must get vaccinated by Oct. 15.

“Getting vaccinated has been proven to be the best way to achieve that and make it possible to recover from this devastating pandemic,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “And so, we have decided to join other municipalities and government agencies across the nation, including the U.S. military, who are making this decision to protect the people who are keeping our cities and country moving.” Tribune’s Gregory Pratt has more on Lightfoot’s announcement.

Vaccine mandates and mask rules have been hotly contested in school districts across the state. “Even before this announcement, tension has developed between state officials and some suburban and downstate schools where educators and parents have argued for more autonomy in making safety decisions,” report Sun-Times’ Rachel Hinton and Nader Issa.

It’s an issue in the workplace, too. The requirement for workers in congregate settings has been challenged by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, the state’s largest employee union. “The union, which has supported vaccination, has said the issue is a matter of collective bargaining. Pritzker said his administration is in negotiations with AFSCME on the issue,” reports Tribune’s Rick Pearson.


GOP bans on school masks draw federal civil rights challenges: “The legal challenges argue that those state’s bans on universal masking in schools run afoul of federal anti-discrimination laws meant to protect children with disabilities,” by POLITICO’s Michael Stratford.

Interim CPS CEO believes deal with CTU is ‘close,’ days before in-person learning resumes: “Jose Torres said he believes the district has done enough to protect both students and staff amid a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases driven by the more transmissible delta variant. But as negotiations over a reopening deal with the CTU continue, Torres said his efforts to get union leadership to stand with him and assure families that in-person classes will resume on Aug. 30 have been rebuffed,” by WTTW’s Matt Masterson.

The Tribune’s Tracy Swartz answers questions about in-person learning in schools

— Cook County Commissioner Sean Morrison, who was vaccinated earlier this year, has tested positive for Covid-19 and is experiencing mild symptoms, he said in a statement released Wednesday. Morrison is remaining quarantined at home but is continuing his duties remotely and is in regular communication with staff. Morrison’s wife, a registered nurse, and two daughters have both tested negative but are also quarantined. Morrison attended last week’s events at the state fair, including an indoor meeting of Republican county leaders.

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

At the Thompson Center at 10 a.m. for a Covid-19 update.

Joining the virtual annual meeting of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative at 10 a.m. for a report from its Mayors Commission on water equity.

At Cook County Health’s Professional Building at 9 a.m. along with Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi, Jan Schakowsky and others to discuss federal funding through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to establish health care worker mental health support and training programs.

RAHM’s PARTING GIFTS: Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who’s been nominated as an ambassador to Japan, has closed out his state campaign committee, donating tens of thousands of dollars to nonprofits and other organizations close to his heart. Emanuel gave $50,000 each to City Colleges of Chicago; WINGS Program, which provides services to victims of domestic violence; Youth Guidance, which provides programming and services to young people; and HOPE Chicago, a program for college-bound students, according to documents filed with the State Board of Elections.

They’re all organizations with deep connections to Emanuel, and his wife, Amy Rule. Emanuel advocated for opening the WINGS Program in Chicago and was on hand for the ground-breaking in 2013 in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood. Then-VP Joe Biden also was on hand.

Emanuel gave a smaller donation to Sisters in Cinema, a South Side organization that helps women get their start in film. And the former mayor gave to Visceral Dance Chicago, too, a hat tip to his lifelong passion for dance.

— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Democratic congressional candidate Nikki Budzinski has added her first big union endorsement in her bid for the 13th congressional district, garnering the support of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). The endorsement includes union locals 51, 146, 193, 309, 601 and 649. IBEW says it has a large presence in the 14 counties that make up the 13th. The support isn’t a complete surprise. Budzinski was a labor activist before she took jobs in Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office and the Biden administration.

Chicago alderman and ward boss Chris Taliaferro eyes judicial seat: “Taliaferro, chair of the city council’s public safety committee, was a police sergeant before first winning election in 2015 and is a litigation attorney and founding partner at the Taliaferro Law Group,” by Injustice Watch’s Kelly Garcia and Amy Qin.

City will partner mental health clinicians and police, as governor signs statewide measure: “The rollout of the much-debated and anticipated co-responder pilot program, which will include police officers trained in mental health response, was highlighted at a Wednesday roundtable discussion Mayor Lori Lightfoot hosted to announce the launch of a public health campaign that aims to destigmatize issues around mental health,” by Tribune’s Annie Sweeney, Jeremy Gorner and Rick Pearson.

Pritzker signs bills expanding access to mental health care: “Illinois becomes third state in the country to require insurance coverage for mental health disorders,” by WMBD’s Gretchen Teske and Mike Smith.

Suicide prevention info on student IDs now the law after Pritzker signs bill pushed by Naperville Central teen’s group: “It’s amazing just to see the impact it will have on over 1 million students,” said Aparna Ramakrishnan, who came up with the idea after seeing something similar on her sister’s college ID. “It will provide easy resources that could be life saving.” Naperville Sun’s Rafael Guerrero reports.

Big Vegas gaming operators decline to bet on a Chicago casino: “This should have been the week when the long-awaited Chicago casino project finally got up and running. Monday was the initial deadline to submit proposals to develop the much-vaunted project — but after few bidders appeared interested — the city pushed back the deadline to the end of October,” by Paul Caine with video Q&A by Paris Schutz.

Ethics Board warns city officials to think twice before creating a legal defense fund: “The board warned an unnamed alderperson who sought guidance about whether the city’s Government Ethics Ordinance would allow supporters to help pay attorneys ‘retained to represent you in legal matters arising out of your public duties’ and to ‘defray’ legal expenses to refrain from asking for financial help from the public,” by WTTW’s Heather Cherone.

City lists four North Side parking lots for sale: “Hoping to raise more than $10 million, the City of Chicago is planning to sell four North Side parking lots that a city commissioner says are ‘underutilized,’” reports Peter von Buol in Loop North News.

WTTW Cancels ‘Check, Please!’ After 19 Seasons: “The pioneering TV show brought together an assortment of Chicagoans, including Barack Obama, to bring restaurants exposure,” by Eater’s Ashok Selvam.

Kanye just wants to be Ye: “Kanye West filed court documents Tuesday to legally change his name. The Los Angeles Superior Court filing says the 44-year-old wants to get rid of his full name — Kanye Omari West — in favor of just his longtime two-letter nickname, Ye, with no middle name or last name,” via the Associated Press.

— Pulling out all the stops for Ukraine: Chicago’s Ukrainian community will celebrate Ukraine’s Independence Day with a flag-raising ceremony tomorrow. A parade will be held Sunday at 1 p.m. on Chicago Avenue between Ashland and Western avenues. The events are a lead-up to the planned meeting between President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Washington D.C. next week.

Capone’s granddaughters to auction his estate, including Papa’s ‘favorite’ pistol: “The notorious Chicago gangster’s three surviving granddaughters decided to auction off 174 items,” by Sun-Times’ Mitch Dudek.

Haunting Cabrini-Green legacy inspired director Nia DaCosta’s ‘Candyman:’ “The new ‘Candyman’ tackles the question of who gets to tell the stories, and how to deal with the looming phantom presence of Cabrini-Green itself,” writes Michael Phillips in the Tribune.

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: With the Latino population on the rise in Chicago, Juan Rangel, the former head of the influential United Neighborhood Organization (UNO), is bringing back the Latino leadership organization that he helped build 20 years ago.

Metropolitan Leadership Institute (MLI):Next Generation will operate under the umbrella of Lake Effect Development, a pro-business non-profit started by Jorge Perez, the former executive director of Hispanic American Construction Industry Association. It will focus on training Latinos for larger roles in business and government.

The original MLI, which folded after Rangel left UNO, helped propel state Rep. Jaime Andrade, City Clerk Anna Valencia, Ald. Silvana Tabares (23rd), and MRWD Commissioners Marcelino Garcia and Eira Corral Sepulveda to their elected positions.

Activists urge Biden to bypass Congress and create office on gun violence, by POLITICO’s Anita Kumar.

Mike Pompeo takes his own arrows over the Afghanistan collapse, by POLITICO’s Meridith McGraw.

$3.5T or bust? Sanders goes all-out to protect Dems’ social spending plans, by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett.

Army vets in Illinois beg for help getting interpreters and their families out of Afghanistan, by Tribune’s Stacy St. Clair.

— Robert Christie, the longtime leader of external affairs and government relations at Northwestern Medicine, is retiring at the end of the month. (Congrats on a 20-year run!) Christie says he’ll remain a Playbooker, so watch for his name to pop up with trivia answers. He spent the previous 20 years as a public affairs/government relations person for FMC Corp and Atlantic Richfield, both Fortune 100 companies, and before that worked on the Illinois state Senate staff.

— Christian Perry has joined Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s re-election campaign as deputy political director. Perry is leaving his position as director of Community Development at the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. He worked as an organizer on Pritzker’s 2018 campaign.

— Shuhana Khan is now chief talent and diversity officer at Marshall, Gerstein & Borun. She most recently was director of talent development and training at Jenner & Block.

Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough is just back from Scottsdale, Ariz., where she was certified as an Elections Registration Administrator, a designation that enhances her management skills in the election world. Yarbrough got the certification after completing a multi-year course of study through the national Election Center’s Professional Education Program taught through Auburn University. Yarbrough also was recently named chair of the Legislative Committee for the International Association of Government Officials, a professional association of government clerks and other elected officials. The organization promotes “improvements and efficiencies for local elections and government operations,” according to Yarbrough’s office. It’s a good fit for the Chicago lawmaker who before becoming clerk was a state legislator.

WEDNESDAY’s ANSWER: Congratulations to Rick Bryant, senior adviser to Rep. Robin Kelly, and Judge John Curry for correctly answering that David Axelrod helped Richard Phelan win a Democratic primary for Cook County Board president by producing ads that featured Phelan drinking beer in a bar with working class guys. The ad’s kicker came from the bartender: “Here’s your beer, Dick. Or would you like yours in a champagne glass?”

H/t to Mayor Lori Lightfoot and many others who answered Eric Adelstein. He was the campaign manager for that race. Pete Giangrego was the deputy campaign manager, and Rahm Emanuel was the opposition research consultant. But it was Axelrod who made the ads.

H/t to Chicago attorney William Quinlan, who wrote: "David Axelrod talked my uncle, Richard J. Phelan, into running for office after prosecuting then-speaker of the U.S. House Jim Wright. He [Phelan] was going to originally run for governor, but decided to run against George Dunn who then declined to run for reelection as county board president."

H/t to John Kupper, who worked on the ad when he was a member of Axelrod & Associates. He says the bartender and other patrons featured in the ad were actually members of Chicago’s Griffin Theatre Company.

And h/t to journalist Andy Shaw for the question.

TODAY’s QUESTION: Who was the first Latinx person elected to the Chicago City Council and when were they elected? Email to

Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th), Highland Park Councilman Adam Stolberg, SIHF Healthcare’s Steve Tomaszewski (formerly a Shimkus aide), and John Biemer, a Chicago-area pathologist and former reporter.



August 26, 2021 at 06:54AM

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