Welch gives a hat tip to ‘Able Gabel’


Welch gives a hat tip to ‘Able Gabel’

TGIF, Illinois. Illinois Playbook is taking off next week. We’ll be back in your inbox April 25. Enjoy the sunshine and all that you celebrate.

House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch shared some insight about how he came to be elected speaker in January 2021. It started about six months earlier in the summer of 2020.

Welch got a call one day from Rep. Robyn Gabel. “She said, ‘I’m working on something, and I’ll give you a call about it later. ‘Just behave, OK?’ And I thought, `What the hell is she talking about?’”

Welch told the story at a small fundraising event on his behalf last night sponsored by Illinois Environmental Council, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups.

Gabel did call back, he continued. “And she said, ‘I think you’re going to be the next speaker.’ I told her she was nuts.” Though he acknowledged later that Rep. Will Guzzardi had suggested the idea, too.

Then January came, and Michael Madigan didn’t have the votes to hold the reins to the speakership. “And it happened,” Welch told the group. “Robyn saw something in me before I saw it. And how often does that happen in your life?”

After he became speaker, Welch said he then surprised Gabel by asking her to join his leadership team. It was a little like waiting for an answer to a marriage proposal, he said. He was thrilled when she said yes.

Welch would assign Gabel and Reps. Jay Hoffman and Marcus Evans to shepherd the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, the sweeping clean-energy legislation that passed last year.

Welch wanted all sides to agree on the legislation before the full House vote. It took a while, including a few special legislative sessions, but they finally accomplished it.

Welch said it was thanks to “Able Gabel.”

Gabel beamed with the recognition and told Playbook that’s how she remembered the story, too.

“It’s something that we had been thinking about for a few years,” Gabel said, referring to her and other Democratic allies thinking about who the next speaker would be. “We knew Madigan wouldn’t be around forever one way or another. So I looked around at who I thought would be a good speaker. To me it was important for the speaker to come from the Black Caucus. I watched [Chris] as he got up to speed in Springfield. I liked that he supported women’s issues, which was important to me. So I thought it’s Chris.”

Along with hearing the tale of naming a speaker, the fundraiser at Hubbard Inn in Chicago was remarkable for being the first time that environmentalists have held such an event for an Illinois House speaker, the environmentalists said.

SPOTTED: Illinois Environmental Council’s Jen Walling, Sierra Club Illinois’ Jack Darin, Faith in Place Action Fund’s Rev. Scott Onque, former state Rep. Elaine Nekritz, Metropolitan Water Rec District president (and county assessor candidate) Kari Steele, MWRD commissioners Kimberly Neely Du Buclet and Mariyana Spyropoulos, attorney Renato Mariotti, state rep candidate Eileen Dordek, and MWRD candidates Precious Brady-Davis and Dan Pogorzelski.

ENDORSEMENT: Rep. Chuy Garcia threw his support behind Jonathan Jackson in the crowded race to succeed Rep. Bobby Rush, who isn’t seeking reelection.

At a press conference Thursday, Garcia said he gravitated to Jackson, the son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, after discussions with some of the 20 candidates because he’s progressive, he supported Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign, “and he played a major role in my campaign for mayor in 2015. I’m very grateful for that.”

Jackson said Garcia’s support "exceeds any value you can put on any capital” in the race. That said, Jackson said he knows he’ll have the money needed to get his name out in a race that for now has 20 Democratic candidates — some may fall off after ballot challenges are resolved next week.

ABC 7’s Craig Wall has more from the presser.

Standing with Garcia was former state Senate President Emil Jones, who’s also endorsing Jackson.

Jones is known as the “political godfather” to former President Barack Obama. Asked if he’d call on the former president to support Jackson, Jones said: “I intend to use all of the influence I can possibly give to make sure I’m the godfather of Jonathan Jackson.”

Jones’ support is also interesting given he once ran for Congress in the 2nd District — he was even endorsed by then-Mayor Richard M. Daley. Jones lost to a newcomer to elected office: Jackson’s father, former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

No official public events.

No official public events.

At Dixmoor Village Hall at 9 a.m. with Congresswoman Robin Kelly, Dixmoor Mayor Fitzgerald Roberts, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers District Commander Paul Culberson to announce a $2 million investment to fund a new water main project.

‘THE CHOCOLATE CITY’ IS LOST: Today, POLITICO’s The Recast launched the second installment of its Next Great Migration — our series exploring the immense shift in Black population out of American cities, and how that’s changing politics and power. Today’s stories focus on Washington, D.C., which was more than 71 percent Black by 1970 — a mecca for the Black middle class and a national icon of local Black political power. Now D.C. has the highest rate of displacement of Black residents in the country. POLITICO’s Steven Overly, Delece Smith-Barrow, Katy O’Donnell and Ming Li report.

Behind the numbers: How a Black urban exodus is reshaping politics, by POLITICO’s Ming Li and Sean McMinn

D.C.’s Black churches are organizing homeowners to fight gentrification, by POLITICO’s JC Whittington and Monica Akhtar

— It’s happening everywhere, including Chicago: Nine of the 10 American cities with the largest Black populations experienced a decline in Black residents over the past two decades, according to census data analyzed by POLITICO. This includes Chicago, which was featured in the first installment of the series and has been nominated for two Peter Lisagor Awards by the Chicago Headline Association.

— BUSINESS OF POLITICS | Ken Griffin rises as top GOP donor and urges business leaders to join him: “In an interview in his corporate headquarters overlooking Lake Michigan and Chicago’s skyline, Mr. Griffin said more U.S. business leaders need to become involved in politics, even if it risks alienating customers, employees or shareholders at a time of deep division,” reports Wall Street Journal’s John McCormick.

— REMAP CAMPAIGN | The Tribune has a good take on the May 19 deadline that looms for the Chicago City Council to vote on a map and avoid a referendum. Right now, the Black Caucus and Latino Caucus are at odds over their maps and representation for Latinos. And there’s still a possibility for the independent Change Illinois to see its map in the mix, too.

Republicans in 13th Congressional District face off in Springfield forum: “All the candidates expressed a belief that significant levels of Covid-era federal stimulus overheated the economy, thus exacerbating inflationary pressures already existing due to supply chain issues and the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War. They placed the blame at the feet of Biden,” by Lee Enterprises’ Brenden Moore.

— Lauren Beth Gash has been endorsed by the powerful New Trier Democratic Organization in her reelection bid for the 10th Congressional District Democratic State Central Committee.

Quigley rival knocked off ballot in 5th District; 14th District GOP candidates remain, by Daily Herald’s Russell Lissau

Another twist for the Valencia campaign: “Why are officials in New Orleans, of all places, investigating Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia?” writes Crain’s Greg Hinz.

— Keith Pekau, a Republican, has raised nearly $138,000 in the first quarter of the year and has $170,000 cash on hand in his bid for the 6th District seat.

— Elizabeth Rochford, a candidate for Illinois Supreme Court, has raised more than $137,000 in the first quarter of 2022.

Some uninsured patients face massive hospital bills from private doctors: “In recent years the chorus of complaints from patients with private insurance who were getting big bills from independent physicians or the companies they worked for grew so loud that Congress passed a federal law called the No Surprises Act that minimizes how large these bills can be. But that law, which took effect on Jan. 1, fell short of largely shielding the uninsured,” by WBEZ’s Kristen Schorsch.

Federal Covid-19 funds are helping low-income Illinois schools catch up, but for how long? “As Illinois school districts fill gaps with $7.9 billion in federal relief money, the spending reveals the depths of chronic underfunding,” by WBEZ’s Susie An.

New bill would combat construction wage theft, union says:A bill on the desk of Gov. J.B. Pritzker would make general contractors liable when subcontractors fail to pay proper wages,” by Sun-Times’ David Roeder.

Book bans and restrictions are on the rise in U.S. schools, says report, including a few cases in Illinois, by Tribune’s Nara Schoenberg

It’s Harold Washington’s 100th birthday: Key things to know about Chicago’s first Black mayor, via the Tribune

Lightfoot touts 2 programs to help motorists pay mounting ticket debt:The programs offer relief from red-light and speed camera tickets, compliance tickets and some parking violations,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.

As final Covid vaccine deadline passes, at least 1,500 Chicago police officers won’t have to get vaccinated, says Lightfoot: “The decision to exempt at least 11.5 percent of the Chicago Police Department from her vaccine mandate will mean Lightfoot will not have to ask Chicagoans for a second term in office while moving to fire thousands of Chicago Police officers at a time when polls repeatedly show public safety is voters’ biggest concern,” by WTTW’s Heather Cherone.

COPA concludes investigation of police shooting of Adam Toledo; case moves to superintendent for response: The Civilian Office of Police Accountability “will post its findings and recommendations on its website after Police Superintendent David Brown completes his review,” by Tribune’s Paige Fry.

Chicago guaranteed income program will begin accepting applications this month: “A May lottery will determine who gets selected. Eligibility includes being an adult resident of Chicago, having suffered economic hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic and earning at most 250% of the federal poverty line, which is $57,575 for a household of three,” by Tribune’s Alice Yin.

Got extra hotel toiletries? Chicago dispatcher’s nonprofit donates them to homeless people, by Sun-Times’ Mitch Dudek

Cook County evictions are back to pre-pandemic levels: “Landlords filed 2,500 eviction cases in Cook County circuit court in March. For comparison, that’s 300 more cases than the same month in 2019, according to a WBEZ analysis of data requested from the Office of the Chief Judge,” by WBEZ’s Jane Vaughan.

Group lobbies to make Skokie’s electoral system more like Evanston’s: “Skokie’s mayor and trustees are selected via a partisan, non-staggered election that occurs every four years, and there is no district-based representation. This system leads to uncontested elections, according to reform advocate Carrie Bradean,” by Evaanston Round Table’s Adina Keeling.

Skokie’s mayor responds, saying the change would “balkanize” the town.

Judge denies R. Kelly’s bid to delay sentencing on racketeering conviction in New York, by Tribune’s Jason Meisner and Megan Crepeau

FBI acquires transcript of Michael Madigan deposition and the ex-speaker answering questions under oath in civil case, by Tribune’s Ray Long and Jason Meisner

We asked what subject you picked up during the pandemic: Richland County board candidate Cynthia Given took up Korean on DuoLingo. “I am 700 days in and not close to fluency, but I can complete the Korean Wordle on most days.”Now retired Cook County Homeland Security Deputy Director Tim Thomas studied and obtained a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist designation, “becoming one of only 2,500 persons world wide with such certification.”

How do you handle all your emails after returning from vacation? (Asking for a friend!) Email [email protected]

Legislation supported by some Illinois marijuana farmers stalled in the Legislature’s spring session, but advocates aren’t giving up hope that it can be resurrected.

Applicants for “craft cultivation” licenses — many of which are minority-owned businesses — were pushing legislation that would allow them to start their businesses cultivating up to 14,000 square feet of land. Current state law says they must start at 5,000 square feet before ramping up to a larger canopy.

The legislation, however, got pushback from some established weed companies that expressed concern that expanding the canopy would attract multistate operators who would buy up all the small businesses, many of them social-equity applicants.

Crafting a compromise: The two sides have been negotiating a compromise for nearly two months. An agreement on expanding to 14,000 square feet was reached with some established companies. But the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois, which represents most of the companies, says the agreement doesn’t do enough to address social equity and isn’t on board with the deal.

The association has “grave concerns” that the goals of achieving social equity are not addressed in the draft legislation, said Pam Althoff, the industry group’s executive director. “The General Assembly has put an emphasis on social equity, but the proposed opportunity for craft grow doesn’t address any of that.”

What’s next: As a result, lawmakers held off on pushing the legislation forward — at least for now. Craft growers remain optimistic that it will still get done.

“We’re shooting for the veto session in November,” said Scott Redman, president of the Illinois Independent Craft Growers Association.

Seeking: GOP dealmakers who won’t ‘burn the House down’. Apply to: Kevin McCarthy, by POLITICO’s Sarah Ferris and Olivia Beavers

RNC votes to boycott ‘biased’ Commission on Presidential Debates, by POLITICO’s Samuel Benson

Conservatives embrace Elon Musk as their Twitter savior, by POLITICO’s Rebecca Kern and Meridith McGraw

In Chicago, British foreign minister says Putin made ‘strategic error’ in thinking Ukraine invasion would fracture western democratic alliances, by Tribune’s Rick Pearson

Talk of race, sex in schools divides Americans, via AP-NORC poll

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, who led Illinois’ pandemic response, becomes CEO of Sinai Chicago: “I received many calls about various opportunities over the past year, but this is the right choice for me and the right moment,” Ezike said in a statement. “Sinai Chicago is where I want to be.” Crain’s Katherine Davis reports.

— Mike Cassel has been named VP at ID.me, where he’ll head up state and local government relations. Cassel will be based in Chicago for the McLean, Va.-based digital identity verification company. Cassel previously was senior director of global engagement at Boeing. And before that he worked with the Export-Import Bank and White House under the Obama administration.

— Anajah Roberts has been named executive director of Teach for America Greater Chicago-Northwest Indiana. She’s been interim executive director for the past six months. Roberts previously worked with the organization’s corps program, which trains teachers.

— Thursday at 6 p.m.: Mayor Lori Lightfoot and UIC Professor Dick Simpson will talk about the future of democracy and Simpson’s new book "Democracy’s Rebirth: The View From Chicago." The event, hosted by the Midland Authors. Location: Harold Washington Library in Chicago (Open to the public, no RSVP required).

— Thursday at 10 a.m.: Republican state Sen. Jason Barickman headlines a discussion about the legislative session with John Shaw, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. It’s part of the “Understanding Our New World” series.

— Thursday at 5:30 p.m.: At the Table with Sun-Times’ Laura Washington and Lynn Sweet discussing Harold Washington on the occasion of what would have been his 100th birthday. Guests: civic leader Jacky Grimshaw, former Rep. Luis Gutiérrez; former NBC 5 Chicago political reporter Peter Nolan, and journalist Gary Rivlin.

THURSDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to labor leader Clem Balanoff for correctly answering that Jerry Weller was the state representative-turned-congressman whose initial election to the Illinois House was overturned after a vote recount.

TODAY’s QUESTION: Which two neighborhoods were destroyed by the University of Illinois-Chicago campus being built (a bit of a trick question)? Email [email protected]

Today: State Rep. Camille Lilly, former Illinois House Speaker Lee Daniels, former House Rep. Sheri Jesiel,  former House Rep. Ron Wait, Latino Caucus redistricting attorney Homero Tristan, and political consultant Jaimey Sexton. And h/t to the late great Mayor Harold Washington, who would have turned 100 today.

Saturday: Hispanic higher-ed leader Naomi Burgos Lynn, political operative Clem Balanoff, government relations consultant Kristen Bauer, and musician and political donor Chance the Rapper.

Sunday: Ald. Jim Gardiner, attorney and Evanston Democratic Committeeman Eamon Kelly, state Senate Dems’ adviser Jake Butcher, comms pro Robert J. Christie, Bird Rides senior manager of government partnerships Vaughn Roland, Department of Commerce deputy press secretary Jeremy Edwards, and ProPublica reporter Mick Dumke.

Monday: Bret Manley, chief of staff to Rep. Rodney Davis, and criminal defense attorney Raymond Wigell.

Tuesday: Former House Speaker Michael Madigan, 43rd Ward Committeeperson Lucy Moog, The Strategy Group’s Pete Giangreco, Allison+Partners Account Exec Abbey Schubert, Odelson & Sterk election attorney Ross Secler, and political commentator and former Clinton White House aide Laura Schwartz.

Wednesday: Cook County Circuit Court Judge Eve Reilly, community organizer William Calloway, former aldermanic candidate Kevin Bailey, Accenture consultant Chukwudi Motanya, and Sister Pat Murphy of the Broadview Immigration Staging Center.

Thursday: Cook County Circuit Court Judge Brendan O’Brien, former state Rep. Bob Winchester, policy wonk and Chicago Police Board VP Paula Wolff, attorney and Civil Rights Agenda founder Jacob Meister, attorney and lobbyist Scott Yonover, Free Market Ventures’ Jack Buck, The Conservation Center CEO Heather Becker, Kaiser Health News Midwest correspondent Lauren Weber, Sun-Times assistant metro editor Rummana Hussain, and Left Flank Strategies’ Bill Neidhardt.

April 22: Ald. Greg Mitchell, former state Sen. Laura Kent Donahue, former Ald. Ameya Pawar, Raise Marketplace founder George Bousis, business consultant Stephanie Leese Emrich, philanthropist Sue Carey, and the Wall Street Journal Midwest bureau’s Shayndi Raice.

April 23: John Tillman, chairman of Illinois Policy Institute, Block Club senior editor Dawn Rhodes, and the great Shelly Zucker.

April 24: former Mayor Richard M. Daley, state Rep. Justin Slaughter, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Preston Jones Jr., former state Rep. Maria “Toni” Berrios, LaSalle Network CEO Tom Gimbel, Clayco Community Relations director Roz Skozen, Medill Professor Emeritus Owen Youngman, creative thinker Lara Weber, journalist Janan Hanna, and Newberg Group’s Abby Walsh.



April 15, 2022 at 07:34AM

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