Epic City Council scene and a hint of ‘bribery’

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Good Wednesday morning, Illinois. Gov. J.B. Pritzker is set to sign the clean-energy bill at the Shedd Aquarium and we’re wondering if he’ll have backup from his penguin friends.

After a lengthy City Council meeting addressing Chicago’s most important issue — crime — Ald. Jim Gardiner stood and apologized for his “offensive words” and acknowledged he “never acted on any of those rants,” an apparent reference to threats that he’d withhold services from political foes.

Soon after, WTTW reported Gardiner was under investigation by the feds for “allegations of pay to play and bribery.” It’s an all-too-familiar phrase in City Council parlance.

“Today I do not speak to you as a politician. I speak to you as a human being, a human being who has sinned,” Gardiner said, reading from prepared remarks. “I stand before this body to offer my sincerest apologies… I take full responsibility for my offensive words in those messages.”

The Northwest Side alderman was addressing leaked texts where he used vulgar and derogatory language (the “b” and “c” words) in referring to gay Ald. Tom Tunney; Anne Emerson, Ald. Scott Waguespack’s chief of staff; and Joanna Klonsky, the mayor’s political adviser.

Gardiner also met separately with Emerson and Klonsky, who issued a statement after the meeting, saying they “acknowledge” his apology and that they expressed their “concerns about his apparent habitual use of misogynistic and degrading language. We asked him to consider the linkages between such language and his other concerning behavior.”

To add to all this drama: Gardiner arrived late to the council meeting — just as public comment was taking place. Referencing Gardiner, the speaker could be heard saying “show some spine and just resign.”

The Tribune first reported that the FBI is interested in the allegations that popped up on the anonymous People’s Fabric website claiming Gardiner tried to withhold services to constituents who disagree with him.

As an aside: Spying on your enemies isn’t new in politics, but it’s something you expect from a Vladimir Putin, not a first-term alderman.

WTTW’s Paris Schutz then offered specifics last night that his sources say the feds are investigating “allegations of pay to play and bribery.”

Ald. Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez was so incensed by the revelations that she demanded that Gardiner be censured.

Lightfoot, meanwhile, said Gardiner put council colleagues in an “awkward position” by apologizing on the council floor. Instead, she said he might do well to answer questions forthrightly at a podium in front of reporters (i.e., the public).

IMPORTANT STUFF: Gardiner’s troubles were window-dressing to the most important news of the day: how city lawmakers will address persistent violence.

Lightfoot introduced an ordinance that would allow gang members to be fined and their property seized if they are found to instigate street violence. “To be very blunt and clear, we are going after their blood money,” Lightfoot said in detailing the “Victims’ Justice Ordinance.”

The proposal has the support of powerful aldermen, including Alds. Christopher Taliaferro (29th) and Jason Ervin (28th), head of the council’s Black Caucus. Some progressives are concerned, however, that it would target Black and brown residents.

Rodriguez-Sanchez used a parliamentary procedure to move the proposal to the council’s Rules Committee, which would allow for more review and delay its implementation.

More news from the council meeting under CHICAGO.

Jesse Ruiz, who stepped down last month as deputy governor of education in Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration, is returning to the private sector — but he won’t be far from the political scene.

Ruiz is now general counsel and chief compliance officer at Vistria Group, a private equity firm whose co-CEO is Martin Nesbitt, a Democratic insider and board chairman of the Obama Presidential Center.

“Our success as a firm is driven by the insights and expertise of our team members,” Nesbitt said in a statement announcing Ruiz’s new role.

Ruiz had a long career as an attorney before he landed in Pritzker’s administration. The job was also the culmination of two decades of volunteer service within government. Over the years, Ruiz served as president of the board of the Chicago Park District, chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education, and VP and briefly CEO of Chicago Public Schools.

Little prepared him for the work in the governor’s office. Less than a year there, Ruiz and the rest of Pritzker’s team found themselves “drinking from a fire hose” to handle the Covid-19 pandemic, he told Playbook upon leaving the administration.

“It was high-impact work. You were making a difference every day. Then when the pandemic hit, the decisions were life and death and worrying about the well-being of people. Everything we did in the past 18 months was amplified,” he said.

Ruiz says (at least for now) he doesn’t plan to return to government and that he’s looking forward to the next chapter.

Along with Ruiz joining the company, Vistria announced that Jon Maschmeyer and Rob Parkinson have been promoted as partners.

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

At the Shedd Aquarium at 10 a.m. to sign the climate change bill. At noon he’ll be at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance to announce a new aviation training facility.

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: At Benito Juarez High School at 9 a.m., where she’s expected to announce San Antonio schools chief Pedro Martinez as new CPS CEO, sources say, via Tribune’s Gregory Pratt.

No official public events.

Southern Illinois reported zero available ICU beds this week, amid Covid-19 surge: “The number of available ICU beds in any region is constantly changing, as hospitals admit and discharge patients. Numbers reported to the state are a snapshot in time. But this week was the first time IDPH reported that any of the state’s 11 state-designated health regions had no available ICU beds,” by Tribune’s Lisa Schencker, Dan Petrella and Joe Mah.

Illinois Board of Ed defends punishment over mask mandate violations, tactics one lawmaker called ‘heavy-handed’: “Kristen Kennedy, a deputy legal officer for ISBE, said the state agency ‘is relying on the court’s’ siding with Pritzker in his lawsuit last year against school systems in three Illinois counties,” by Tribune’s Tracy Swartz.

CPS charter school shuts down for 2 weeks because of Covid-19 cases: “Acero Schools, one of Chicago Public Schools’ largest charter operators, closed its Zizumbo campus in the Archer Heights community Tuesday to meet the terms of its reopening agreement with the Chicago Teachers Union,” by Tribune’s Nader Issa.

We asked: How has Covid-19 changed your relationships with friends?

"My focus shifted heavier toward family over friendships,” wrote Meredith Krantz, VP at Morreale Strategic Communications. “As a working mom with two young kids, I can say my relationship with my husband and kids grew closer in ways I wouldn’t have anticipated pre-pandemic. Our circles grew smaller without the hustle and bustle of work events, travel and daily routines. I appreciated more genuine friendships with extended family, in-laws, aunts and even long-distance siblings. Other friendships grew more intimate too with dialogue shifting from kids and career to deeper and more meaningful issues.”

And Cynthia Smith, who heads a Chicago wellness company, said she’s been sympathetic over the years to friends who opposed “excessive vaccinations.” But when Covid hit, those friends “stopped being logical. Collectively, we can’t get past Covid disruptions/death without vaccines,” said Smith, who said she cut off some of those friendships. “It’s something we couldn’t agree on.”

Question: What’s the strangest place you’ve ever had to Zoom in from for a conference call? Email your thoughts to skapos@politico.com.

— BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot channeled the Talking Heads with Rep. Kelly Cassidy at the state lawmaker’s annual “Kelly-oke” fundraiser last night on the City’s North Side. Their duet: "Burning Down the House."

— Florida Rep. Mike Waltz, the first Green Beret to be elected to Congress and a counter-terrorism adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, was a surprise headliner at a fundraiser for Illinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin last night at the Ivy Room in Chicago. He attended at the request of Rep. Rodney Davis. Waltz has been outspoken on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. He speaks with authority having served multiple combat tours in Afghanistan, the Middle East and Africa and earning four Bronze Stars for his service.

— REFERENDUM TO RECALL: On the heels of California Gov. Gavin Newsom crushing a recall vote, Illinois state Sen. Jason Barickman, Rep. Mark Batinick, both Republicans, and the conservative Illinois Opportunity Project are set to launch “a statewide grassroots campaign to give voters the power to recall their elected officials” in Illinois, they said in a statement. They’re calling it the “Ballot Referendum to Recall.”

State and local government job growth lags as economy recovers: “While private employers add workers, multiple factors hold back return of public noneducation jobs,” according to PEW research. Where Illinois sits on the national map

Pritzker, Illinois legislators call on Congress to protect women’s reproductive rights in wake of Texas abortion law: “While the governor and Illinois U.S. Reps. Lauren Underwood, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Bill Foster spoke inside at the event at Planned Parenthood on East New York Street in Aurora, dozens of members with the Pro-Life Action League protested outside the facility,” by Aurora Beacon-News’ Megan Jones.

‘TEXAS Act’ would allow $10K bounties on sexual abusers and those who cause unwanted pregnancies: “If folks are policing the bodies of people who are seeking reproductive healthcare in Texas, well, then maybe we should be policing the bodies of the people who are causing those problems here in Illinois,” Rep. Kelly Cassidy told NPR Illinois’ Hannah Meisel.

Danville Casino still awaiting approval two years later: “A restructuring of the approval process now has organizers hoping it will be approved soon,” by Fox Illinois’ Evan Hensley.

New Illinois system catches uninsured drivers, by Center Square’s Kevin Bessler

City Council approves eight-year police contract with 20% pay raise: “Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez was one of eight aldermen voting “no.” He said the contract does “little to nothing to ensure that there is accountability when false statements are made” by officers accused of misconduct,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.

Plans For 21-Story Residential Building On Near North Side Approved By City Council: “The 21-story building will have 178 residential units, retail on the first floor and 53 parking spaces,” by Block Club’s Jake Wittich and Justin Laurence.

Council passes limits on plastic utensils for restaurant carryout and delivery; critics say they don’t go far enough, by Tribune’s John Byrne

Top watchdog over Chicago Parks District lifeguard investigation resigns: “Elaine Little’s resignation came hours after WBEZ reported that records show the inspector general was herself under an ‘extensive’ investigation into ‘alleged conflicts and wrongdoing’ when she quit her job as director of investigations at Cook County’s juvenile jail in 2018,” by WBEZ’s Dan Mihalopoulos.

A new go-to for dinner and groceries: “As Bob Mariano and Don Fitzgerald taught us at Mariano’s and Dominick’s, grocery shopping is more fun when there are dining and drinking options alongside salmon and broccoli,” by John Kessler in Chicago magazine.

The Storyteller of the White Sox: “If you follow the Sox, you likely know broadcaster Jason Benetti was born with cerebral palsy. But that’s just the start of his story,” writes Peter Sagal in Chicago magazine.

What’s in a name? How Schaumburg Business Association — not chamber of commerce — began 20 years ago, by Daily Herald’s Eric Peterson

Recreational cannabis sales nixed by Glen Ellyn board: “Trustees voted to prohibit recreational cannabis sales following a moratorium ordinance that has been in effect since November 2019,” by Patch’s Lisa Marie Farver.

Dan Cronin won’t run again for DuPage County Board chairman, but ‘not going anywhere’: “Cronin stresses that he’s not bowing out because of Democratic control of the board. The Elmhurst attorney said he remains ‘up to the task’ of reaching across the aisle, highlighting his consensus-driven, transactional political style, though he’s expressed frustration with partisan fighting,” by Daily Herald’s Katlyn Smith.

Why Chicago Was Once a Political Convention Hotspot: “Chicago has played host for more national political conventions than any other city, but now it’s passed over in favor of swing states,” by Chicago magazine’s Edward McClelland.

THE FIFTY: Just over the border, you could say Wisconsin is being ruled by a shadow governor. “Robin Vos has used his GOP majority to block, thwart or resist nearly every significant move made by Wisconsin’s governor,” reports Daniel Vock.

How Gavin Newsom survived the recall, by POLITICO’s David Siders and Carla Marinucci

40-plus tax increases: A rundown of House Dems’ $2 trillion tax plan, by POLITICO’s Brian Faler

Democrats grapple with faltering filibuster push, by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett and Marianne LeVine

Swimmer George F. Wendt, 73, who shared a name with his TV star cousin, drowns in Big Shoulders race: “His cousin George Wendt found fame as Norm on TV’s ‘Cheers.’ But, to many swimmers and Fenwick High School students and alums, he was the star in the family,” by Sun-Times’ Maureen O’Donnell.

Kylie Bohmanis is now a legislative correspondent for Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). She previously was scheduler for Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.).

Tonight at 7 p.m.: A trivia night fundraiser for Dan Balanoff for judge at Joe’s on Weed Street in Chicago.

TUESDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to Holland & Knight Partner Trisha Rich for correctly answering that Chouteau, Gabaret, and Mosenthein are the three islands located near Granite City.

h/t to Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia for getting it right and giving the backstory of her grandfather "and his buddies" swimming around the islands — she’s from there.

TODAY’s QUESTION: Who was the litigant who U.S. District Court Judge Amy St. Eve in 2013 told to “get control of himself,” only to find their paths cross again in 2018? Email to skapos@politico.com

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District board member Kim Du Buclet, former Sen. Mark Kirk, and teacher, event organizer and fundraiser Shayla Rosen.

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via POLITICO https://ift.tt/2i74uEb

September 15, 2021 at 07:06AM

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