Ald. Nicole Lee’s new digs

Ald. Nicole Lee’s new digs

Happy Wednesday, Illinois. I’m enjoying coffee and the view from an Amtrak train headed to Springfield. You’ll find me under the dome in a few hours.

Newly named Chicago Ald. Nicole Lee sat down with Playbook for her first one-on-one interview yesterday in her sparse ward office and talked about an issue that weighs on her and, she said, the residents in the 11th Ward: violence against Asian Americans.

“There’s crime everywhere, and it’s not always racially motivated. But from the community’s perspective, oftentimes Asian Americans feel like everyone is ganging up on them," Lee told Playbook. "You’ve seen it after certain events. After Covid, it was fueled by then-President Trump calling this the China virus. It’s not just whether you’re from China or Japan or some other Asian country. After 9/11, people from the Middle East Middle were victims of hate crimes."

Lee, who is the first Chinese American City Council member, remembered the 1982 murder in Detroit of Vincent Chin. “He was out one night with friends. It was the height of Japanese automakers coming into the United States. And a couple of auto workers picked a fight with him and beat him to a pulp with a baseball bat. There was no justice for him," she said. "People remember that."

She’s hopeful that the world is changing. She points to the recent killing of Woom Sing Tse, a 71-year-old grandfather who was gunned down in Chinatown in December. “It hasn’t been classified as a hate crime, but it certainly felt like one to the community,” she said. She credits a quick arrest to the community working closely with the 9th District Police Department. And she hopes to foster that community-police relationship to help tamp down crime.

Lee talked more about her priorities, the ward remap, and keeping the same office as her predecessor. This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.

What about concerns Black and Latino residents have about interacting with police? “There needs to be a lot of raising awareness about public safety. There’s a lot more that connects us — Asians, Latinos, African Americans — than divides us, even in this safety conversation. I think African Americans, Latinos, and Asians across the city want to be safe. There are valid concerns on both sides and I think that they’re both true.”

Which redistricting map do you support? “I don’t have a map in my mind that one is better than the other. My position will be driven by what’s best for the ward.”

Given the Latino population has grown so rapidly, should it be fighting for greater representation on the City Council? “It’s a totally fair question, looking at it from the outside. I want to understand it better from my colleagues. Like many things with this job and in the city, it’s not as simple as ‘everything should be done according to numbers.’ I grew up in a society that valued me as a minority when it benefited them but not necessarily when it came to services. We’ve often been the minority of convenience.”

Will you join a caucus? “I want to get the lay of the land first. Maybe I’ll start an Asian interest caucus.”

What do you see as the No. 1 concern in your ward? “Safety and infrastructure go together. Improvements to parks, roads and safety areas are all interconnected.”

Does staying in the same ward office as your predecessor mean you’re building on the Daley organization? “The Democratic Ward committeeman [John Daley] offered continued use of the space. This is where the residents know where to go for services. I see no reason to set up shop someplace else. Everyone knows to come here for their White Sox stickers, which is what they did this week.”


For those interested in but unfamiliar with the case of Vincent Chin, the PBS member TV station in Detroit aired a segment about its legacy last year.

Politics is playing out in Gov. JB Pritzker’s appointments to the Prisoner Review Board, a group that decides when people with criminal convictions can be released.

Some state Senate Democrats joined Republicans on Monday to reject a Pritzker nominee, signaling “a split between progressive Democrats and their moderate colleagues who are loath to provide any fuel to the Republican argument that their party is too willing to give bad guys a pass,” according to the Tribune’s Jeremy Gorner and Clare Spaulding.

On Tuesday, Pritzker criticized Republicans, even comparing them to QAnon conspiracy theorists.

“To have Republicans essentially trying to tear apart this agency of government. … I mean this is what the GQP has been all about, tearing government apart,” the governor said in Springfield during a news conference honoring the 100th anniversary of the Illinois State Police. Sun-Times’ Tina Sfondeles has more

Pritzker didn’t call out Democrats who voted with Republicans, but he did seem to make his own subtle jab by holding a press conference at the same time Senate Dems were promoting new legislation to fight retail theft. Carrying that retail theft bill is state Sen. Suzy Glowiak Hilton, who is among Democrats who joined Republicans on giving a thumbs down on Pritzker’s parole board appointment.


Pritzker honors 100 years of Illinois State Police as crime remains campaign flashpoint, by Capitol News’ Jerry Nowicki

Without a Prisoner Review Board quorum, clemency hearings indefinitely postponed, by Capitol News’ Beth Hundsdorfer

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

No official public events.

At AIS Heavy Duty Vehicle Maintenance Facility at 1:30 p.m. to kick off the 2022 construction season.

At Aladdin’s Palace in Hickory Hills at 6 p.m. for the American Arab Chamber of Commerce dinner celebration of Arab American Heritage Month.

— ALL PAID UP:  Watch for Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza to announce today that she has paid off the final $297 million of Illinois interfund borrowing. That’s all the state’s federal and short-term loans paid off.

Bring back the Big House: “The Illinois General Assembly once used a system called cumulative voting — and it’s worth reviving,” by Chicago magazine’s Edward McClelland.

When actor Harry Lennix testifies today in Springfield about the need for arts programming, he’ll be rubbing elbows with a friendly crowd. Lennix attended Quigley South High School in Chicago at the same time as current state Sens. Elgie Sims and Tony Muñoz and Hector Villagrana, who is chief of staff to House Assistant Majority Leader Lisa Hernandez.

A year after his death, family and activists remember Adam Toledo and call for officer who shot him to be held accountable, by Tribune’s Stephanie Casanova, Megan Crepeau and Shanzeh Ahmad

Chicago small businesses weigh raising prices as inflation takes toll: “Geri Sanchez Aglipay, administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Great Lakes region, said inflation is particularly challenging for women-owned small businesses, which she said tend to be clustered in industries like food and retail that have been most heavily impacted by the pandemic,” by Tribunee’s Talia Soglin.

Wicker Park artist shows faces of pandemic Zoom calls: “The project consists of 100 small paintings of people who appeared in the media via Zoom during the height of the pandemic,” by Sun-Times’ Mitch Dudek.

Bears remain in a waiting game for a potential new stadium in Arlington Heights: “We’re taking it one step at a time,” Bears Chairman George McCaskey said. “The objective is to close and go through the process to see if we can get to that (next) point.” Tribune’s Dan Wiederre reports.

Probation for Buckner’s 2019 DUI: State Rep. Kam Buckner will serve a year on conditional discharge, because he pleaded guilty this month to driving under the influence,” reports WTAX.

Willie Wilson to announce April 11 if he’s running for mayor against Lightfoot: “Wilson, who has held four town hall meetings on a possible mayoral campaign, sounds like he’s already made up his mind to challenge Mayor Lori Lightfoot, whom he endorsed in the April 2019 runoff, and is just waiting until next month to make the official announcement,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.

— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Rep. Brad Schneider has endorsed Alexi Giannoulias, who’s running for secretary of state. In a statement, Schneider said he likes Giannoulias’ plan to “strengthen ethics laws and place new restrictions on politicians and lobbyists by curbing corrupt activity and requiring more disclosure and transparency."

— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Jesse Sullivan, a GOP candidate for governor, has been endorsed by state Sen. Neil Anderson (R-Andalusia).

Darren Bailey plays to Downstate Republicans in his first campaign ad for governor, by Tribune’s Rick Pearson

— Oppo | Schneider improperly received 2 homeowner exemptions but has rectified error, officials say. Daily Herald’s Russell Lissau reports

2 La Salle County Board members removed from ballot: “Objectors prevail against Myers of Streator, Witczak of Peru,” by Shaw Media’s Tom Collins.

— Rep. Rodney Davis sent out a statement saying he’s now visited all 35 counties that are part of the new 15th Congressional District.

— Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi has been endorsed for reelection by Cook County Commissioner Alma Anaya and state Reps. Robyn Gabel, Will Guzzardi, Camille Lilly and Delia Ramirez. He is also endorsed by Network 49, an independent political organization in the 49th Ward.

— Jonathan Logemann, Democratic candidate for the 17th Congressional District, has been endorsed by the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois.

— Fernando “Sergio” Mojica, a former CPS principal who’s running for state representative in the 13th District race to replace retiring Rep. Greg Harris, hosted a campaign launch at Martin Cournane’s Lady Gregory’s restaurant in Andersonville. Among attendees: Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th), Equality Illinois co-founder Art Johnston, Howard Brown CEO David Munar, and AIDS Foundation CEO John Peller.

A fundraiser for Chicago Ald. Raymond Lopez was held at the Whiner Tap Room in Chicago last night. Spotted in the room: fellow Alds. Silvana Tabares and Felix Cardona; Willie Wilson, who’s considering another mayoral run; Richard Boykin, who’s running for Cook County Board; Kari Steele, a candidate for Cook County assessor; Tina Wallace, a candidate for state rep in the 19th House District; retired Alds. Joe Moreno and Jim Balcer; and former Lyons Mayor Ken Getty.

We asked for your go-to snacks during the long days of the Legislature: House Majority Leader Greg Harris likes Thai Curry Cashews from Whole Foods.Rep. Sonya Harper goes for pistachios and popcorn Rep. La Shawn Ford: ranch-flavored sunflower seeds….  Rep. Marty Moylan: power bars, apples and energy drinks. …  And Sen. Michael Hastings sticks with the basics: coffee.

What’s your favorite Springfield meeting spot outside of the Capitol? Email [email protected]

The ‘Holy Grail’ of gambling could break American sports betting wide open: “Voters in the nation’s most populous state will get a chance in November to unleash a massive new industry in California — and provide a jolt to other holdout states,” by POLITICO’s Jeremy B. White.

Biden signs Emmett Till anti-lynching bill that Rep. Bobby Rush championed for years: “Lynching is not a relic of the past,” said Vice President Kamala Harris. Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet reports. VIDEO

Jackson hearings could inspire GOP’s next judicial battle line, by POLITICO’s Marianne LeVine

Feds prepare ‘disclosure’ on figure at heart of pro-Trump Jan. 6 conspiracy theory, by POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney

Former Daily Herald executive named Carnegie Hero after saving children: The award comes “a year to the day” that Pete Rosengren died saving children from a dangerous rip current while on vacation in Florida, by Daily Herald’s Jake Griffin.

TUESDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to Andy Shaw for correctly answering that James and Myra Bradwell were the friends who helped win the release of Mary Todd Lincoln from a Batavia sanitarium.

TODAY’s QUESTION: Who’s the former state senator who was injured on his way home after a Cubs night game when his bicycle was sideswiped by a hit-and-run driver? Email [email protected]

State Rep. and lieutenant governor candidate Avery Bourne, Chicago Dowel Co. President Paul Iacono, and comms specialist Omari Prince.



March 30, 2022 at 07:53AM

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