‘A long time coming’ for Obama center


‘A long time coming’ for Obama center

Good Wednesday morning, Illinois. With his domestic agenda on the line, President Joe Biden canceled today’s trip to Chicago (which means I don’t have to have another Covid test this week. Woot woot).

LATE-BREAKING: Bears sign purchase agreement for Arlington Park property, reports The Athletic. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot responds: “My statement still stands on the Bears: my administration remains committed to continuing the work to keep the team in Chicago.”

Barack and Michelle Obama broke ground on their Obama Presidential Center Tuesday, linking their deeply personal connections to Chicago’s South Side to the site they hope will transform the community and change political discourse “nationally and internationally.”

“Chicago is where I found the purpose that I had been seeking,” the former president said in remarks at Jackson Park with a small group of invited guests and construction workers whose tractors appeared ready to start digging.

The Obamas, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot did the initial honors with commemorative shovels.

“This day has been a long time coming,” said the former president, offering an oblique reference to the project’s many delays that focused to a great extent on where to locate the center.

Michelle Obama’s speech made clear the influence she had in selecting Jackson Park. “One of my greatest honors is being a proud Chicagoan, a daughter of the South Side,” the former first lady said. “I still lead with that descriptor. I wear it boldly and proudly like a crown.”

She recalled as a child having to travel by car to new parks or places where there were major improvements in the city. “It rarely happened in our neighborhood,” she said.

The former first lady sees that changing with the Obama center in Jackson Park.

The Obamas want the center to spur economic development, create jobs and become a destination point for travelers. They also want the center to become a university of sorts that trains future leaders and offers programs and discussions about issues of the day. And they hope the center will encourage “active citizenship.”

The former president said: “It feels natural for Michelle and me to want to give back to Chicago and to the South Side in particular, the place where she grew up and I came into my own. And the Obama Presidential Center is our way of repaying some of what this amazing city has given us.”

In her remarks, Lightfoot said the investments from the center would be “transformative” to the community.

Pritzker said the center is already a source of pride. “We are proudly now known as the land of Lincoln and Obama.”

Though the Obamas have finally turned a chapter (and the dirt) on the center, some tensions still exist. A lawsuit calling for the presidential center to be relocated is still in the courts. Activists are still pushing for more affordable housing measures. And as the Obamas took the stage Tuesday, a plane flew above, pulling a banner that read “Stop cutting down trees. Move OPC.”

As the Tribune’s Alice Yin describes: “That push-and-pull … remains the chief building block of democracy, as well the backbone for his presidential campus.”

Good recap from Sun-Times’ Rachel Hinton

Janice Jackson has a next chapter that will keep her in education. The former head of Chicago Public Schools is now CEO of a new nonprofit that will hand out scholarships and financial support to CPS students headed to college with the goal of keeping them debt-free.

“I’m not running for office,” she told Playbook, addressing some buzz about her future. “I’m an educator and doing my education thing. I’m super excited about this.”

Jackson is working with HOPE Chicago co-founders Pete Kadens, a Chicago businessman and political donor who started a similar program for students in his hometown of Toledo, Ohio, and Ted Koenig, CEO of Monroe Capital in Chicago. They’ve already raised $20 million and hope to raise $100 million more in the near future to get the program going. The dream is to scale HOPE Chicago nationally.

Along with allowing her to stay in education, the new role keeps Jackson focused on her passion for equity issues. The program differentiates itself from other scholarship programs in that it also offers support to parents who want to go back to school. “It checks all the boxes. And it’s bold,” she said.

Jackson will talk more about her new role on WTTW tonight.

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

No official public events.

At 167 North Green Street at 8:45 a.m. for the opening ceremony of the 5th annual Chicago Venture Summit.

At Bridgeview Courthouse at 9 a.m. with the Cook County Environmental Commission, TreeKeepers, and the Openlands Forestry Team to plant 40 trees on the courthouse grounds.

Kristen McQueary, the former Chicago Tribune editorial page editor, has left journalism but she’s sticking with public policy. She’s been named vice president at Res Publica Group, the consultancy and crisis management organization headed by Guy Chipparoni. Clients include Rush and NorthShore hospitals, Cook County Health, United Center, Breakthru Beverage and Lollapalooza. “I spent weeks meeting with different people about what my next step might be, and this felt right,” McQueary told Playbook. After spending 26 years as a journalist writing about public policy, “I like the idea of advocating for clients about public policy,” she said.

McQueary’s columns and editorials were must-read material for anyone interested in Illinois government and politics — whether you agreed with her or not. During that time, she was awarded the Sarah Brown Boyden Award for commentary from the Chicago Journalists Association. Playbookers will also remember her prior reporting in Springfield for the Daily Southtown, the Chicago News Cooperative, which published in The New York Times, and WBEZ.

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Democratic Rep. Danny Davis says comments he made to TMZ about R. Kelly, who was found guilty on nine counts this week, including sex trafficking, weren’t taken the way he intended.

When asked how Chicago would respond to Kelly after he serves his time, the congressman from the 7th District said, "As an artist, one who…is gifted, I think he’ll be welcomed back into Chicago as a person who can be redeemed," according to a video posted Tuesday by TMZ. "I’m a big believer in what is called second chances…so it all will really depend upon him."

The twitterverse and a 2022 primary opponent, Kina Collins, zeroed in on Davis saying Kelly could be “redeemed.”

In a separate statement, Davis said: “Women and children must be respected and protected at all times and at all costs.”

And in an interview, Davis explained it to Playbook this way: “The [reporter] asked what would happen to [Kelly] if he came back to Chicago, and I said it all depended on him. I’m not sympathetic to R. Kelly by any stretch of the imagination… He was accused of criminal activity and behavior and the court determined he was guilty and should be punished. I believe in the court system.”

An online tool will allow regular folks to draw and submit proposed congressional boundaries for state lawmakers to consider as they make plans for redistricting. The map-making portal can be accessed here and here. This is a relaunch of the portal ahead of public hearings next month to gather input on the makeup of new congressional districts. (Returning users do not need to create a new account.)

Additional details about hearings will be announced in the coming days, according to the Illinois House and Senate redistricting committees. Members of the public may also submit written testimony or draft congressional maps at any time at [email protected] and [email protected].

“It’s never been more important that every resident of Illinois has a strong voice in Congress, and that starts with ensuring everyone has a voice in the map-making process,” Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez, chair of the House Redistricting Committee, said in a statement.

Republican state Rep. Tim Butler criticized the Democrats’ map-making portal, saying, “The sad truth is that this is just another attempt by Democrats to act like this is a free and fair process, but the facts have proven otherwise. The relaunching of a portal that included a multitude of malfunctions that went unaddressed by them before, I don’t expect much to be different this time around.”

Will County is working on redistricting, too, by Patch’s Emily Rosca.

— From Energy News Network: In Illinois, energy law’s coal-to-solar commitments spark hope, skepticism: “The state’s sweeping new energy law offers grants and other incentives to develop solar and storage on the site of retired power plants. Some local officials aren’t banking on new jobs and tax revenue yet, though,” by Kari Lydersen.

Man dies after contracting rabies, marking the state’s first human case of the virus since 1954: Upon contracting rabies, “the man was told he needed to begin post-exposure rabies treatment, but declined, according to the health department,” by NBC/5’s Becca Wood

Illinois State Fair attendance comparable to pre-COVID levels despite Grandstand cancellations: “About 472,390 fairgoers attended the 2021 fair, the first of its kind since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, generating an estimated overall revenue of $5 million, according to a report released by the Illinois Department of Agriculture. That estimate was the second-highest tally since 2014, falling only behind the estimated count of 508,900 fairgoers at the 2019 Illinois State Fair,” by State Journal-Register’s Riley Eubanks.

We asked what your favorite hot dog joint is: Superdawg, says JuanPablo Prieto: “I have fond memories of going there as a kid with my dad.” Gene and Jude’s, says Kevin Waco: “They’re one of the cheapest and best tasting dogs in all the land.” Cozy Dog Drive In in Springfield, says Ashvin Lad: “The original corn dog on a stick is historic. It’s right on Route 66: nostalgic. And it’s cheap: two for under $5.” And James Castro pays tribute to the late great Demon Dogs hot dog stand: “Borrowers of the CTA.’s electricity on Fullerton Ave.”

Today’s question: Which big-name speaker do you hope to see the Obama Presidential Center bring in once the campus is complete? Email at [email protected].

Sun-Times, WBEZ close to partnership deal, sources say: “The board of Chicago Public Media, nonprofit parent company of WBEZ, is expected to vote on the plan in a closed meeting Wednesday night. Board approval is not assured, sources said, and the deal could still fall through,” by media reporter Robert Feder.

Stalled by Covid, 10 South and West Side revitalization projects get ‘We Rise Together’ grants: “In the first wave of capital grants issued by the Chicago Community Trust’s year-old “We Rise Together” initiative, 10 real estate development projects are getting $7.4 million to spark revitalization in eight disinvested South and West side communities,” by Sun-Times’ Maudlyne Ihejirika.

Only 7 wards offer parking permits, a feature aldermen call a blessing and a curse: In a hearing, City Clerk Anna Valencia said “her office is scheduled to launch an overhaul of the City Council’s archaic paper tracking system to bring the legislative process into the 21st century,” by Block Club’s Justin Laurence.

What lies ahead for Chicago Public Schools’ new top leader: “As Pedro Martinez becomes CEO, CPS is in better shape than when he left in 2009. Still, COVID, labor challenges and enrollment declines await,” by WBEZ’s Sarah Karp.

Arwady: No breaks in protocol at CPS school where mom died after daughter exposed to Covid: “Chicago’s top doctor asked for patience Tuesday while city officials investigate the death of mom Shenitha Curry, but parents want CPS to close Jensen elementary school,” by Sun-Times’ Nader Issa.

Long-running legal battle over role of aviation security officers resolved in city’s favor, by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.

MacArthur Foundation fellowship recipients include two Black women who say Chicago shaped their work: “Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor and Jacqueline Stewart are among 25 winners of the no-strings-attached $625,000 MacArthur Foundation “genius grants,” announced Tuesday,” by Sun-Times’ Jason Beeferman.

Northwestern student speaks out after alleged drugging at fraternity house, university police still investigating: “Northwestern officials issued an alert Saturday to students about multiple aggravated assault cases involving students who said they were drugged at fraternity houses. The university also announced it was temporarily halting social events and recruitment activities at its fraternities,” reports Tribune’s Karen Ann Cullotta.

Benet Academy’s decision to hire coach in same-sex marriage might not be final word after chancellor says he is ‘deeply troubled’: “Abbot Austin Murphy of St. Procopius Abbey, which founded and helps to run the Lisle-based Roman Catholic high school, said in a statement posted to the abbey’s website that the hiring decision raises the question of whether the public lives of Catholic school employees should follow the church’s moral teaching,” by Tribune’s John Keilman.

Man who brought massive gambling ring to Illinois State University avoids prison: “A prosecutor said Matthew Namoff managed 60 gamblers at ISU. Namoff’s defense attorney said he “fundamentally” disagreed with the feds’ characterization,” by Sun-Times’ Jon Seidel.

Jury in trial of ex-Northwestern professor charged in boyfriend’s murder views gruesome crime scene video as key witness looms, by Tribune’s Megan Crepeau

Michael Rabbitt, a community activist and business transformation leader at Argonne National Laboratory, is running as a Democratic in the 15th legislative district now led by Rep. John D’Amico. D’Amico hasn’t yet announced his plans — it’s still early. This is Rabbitt’s first run for public office.

State partners with legal aid network to expunge cannabis-related records: “An estimated 34,000 Illinoisans are still waiting to have their cannabis records expunged, according to the Sentencing Policy Advisory Council,” by WTTW’s Acacia Hernandez.

THE FIFTY: Fifty states but only nine women are governor, with power split among six Democrats and three Republicans, writes POLITICO’s Liz Crampton. “There’s growing urgency among leaders in both major parties around bolstering the chances of women running in the 2022 gubernatorial elections, when voters in 36 states will pick their next state executive.”

Biden bets it all on unlocking the Manchinema puzzle, by POLITICO’s Laura Barron-Lopez and Natasha Korecki

Progressives dig in as Pelosi tries to save key vote, by POLITICO’s Sarah Ferris and Heather Caygle

Tweets Rep. Chuy Garcia: “I’ve been clear from the start, these bills move together or they don’t move at all.”

Jan. 6 committee prepares legal arsenal for likely subpoena fights, by POLITICO’s Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu

How J Balvin convinced Jordan Brand he was the real deal, by The Udefeated’s Nick Depaula

MWRD Commissioner Mariyana Spyropoulos is receiving the 2021 Public Officials Award from the Water Environment Federation, alongside Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio.

Michael S. Kelly, Loyola University Chicago ‘visionary leader’ in social work, dead at 52: “‘He was the foremost scholar and practitioner of school-based family counseling in the social work field,’ said the Oxford Symposium in School-Based Family Counseling’s director,” by Sun-Times’ Maureen O’Donnell.

Thursday noon to 4 p.m.: A virtual and in-person discussion titled: “Gun Possession in Chicago: What the Headlines Don’t Tell You,’ at the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.

TUESDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to Safer Foundation public policy analyst Mark McCombs, union leader Clem Balanoff, and Cook County Clerk’s Veterans Affairs director Brian Cross for correctly answering that Noel Cummings of Hodgkins (elected 1979), Jeffery Schielke of Batavia (elected 1981) and Joseph Tamburino of Hillside (elected 1981), have each served more than 40 years in those roles. (Yeah, it turns out there are three!)

TODAY’s QUESTION: Which current Illinois mayor is a former opera singer? Email to [email protected]

U.S. Attorney John Lausch, MWRD Commissioner Marcelino García, former state lawmaker and businessman Bill Marovitz, and Hire360 Executive Director and former Emanuel campaign manager Jay Rowell.



September 29, 2021 at 07:53AM

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