Good Monday morning, Illinois. 57 days to the primary — and 17 days until early voting begins.
House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch lashed out at billionaire Jeff Bezos and Amazon for its plan to shutter the Whole Foods store on Chicago’s South Side.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is already looking for an alternative grocery store to take its place. And community activists are fuming that Whole Foods is turning its back on a disenfranchised community.
“Jeff Bezos is worth $180 BiILLION dollars, takes joy rides into outer space, but takes away healthy food options to poor people because he cares more about profits than poor people. This is yet another reason why we should tax billionaires like Bezos more!” Welch tweeted over the weekend.
Good riddance: Community leaders who met with Lightfoot’s team Friday say they don’t want a retailer who doesn’t want to be part of the community.
Next step: The city is in discussions with local grocers to take over the retail spot — the lease agreement requires a grocery store on the property. Lightfoot’s team says it is a good anchor to the Englewood Square shopping center.
“My administration will work to repurpose these locations in a way that continues to serve the community and support the surrounding businesses,” the mayor said in a statement, referring to the Englewood store and another one in the DePaul University Welcome Center, which is also closing.
Backstory: Whole Foods landed in Englewood, which has long been a food desert, in 2016 after much maneuvering by then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The development at the corner of 63rd and Halsted streets included nearly $11 million in tax increment financing.
Sweet & sour: The store was a welcome addition to a community starved for decent fresh produce. But soon after opening, it was clear that the higher-than-average prices kept its popularity (and profitable) from taking off in a serious way compared the retailer’s other Chicago-area locations.
Whole Foods stayed committed to the location nonetheless, at least until Amazon bought it in 2017.
“Whole Foods came in and saw the work we were doing and claimed they wanted to partner,” state Rep. Sonya Harper told Playbook. She was referring to the work done by Growing Home and Grow Greater Englewood to bring in healthy food retailers to the South Side. “Everything was working fairly well until Amazon took over, the management at Whole Foods changed and many of the community engagement components of their operation were eliminated.”
It’s not lost on the community that Whole Foods is exiting after vowed to invest in underserved communities in response to the protests of George Floyd’s murder in 2020. During a meeting with the mayor’s office and others Friday, some community leaders recalled residents standing outside of Whole Foods to defend it against potential looters during the unrest that summer. Now, Harper said, they feel “betrayed.”
As if to rub salt in the wound, Whole Foods opened a new store on the city’s North Side a few days before announcing its exit from Englewood.
From Tribune’s Rick Pearson: A year after Michael Madigan’s departure, the state Democratic Party looks to modernize: The party is “decentralizing its organization, putting together its first email list of supporters, digitizing outreach activities and creating a recruitment, training and support infrastructure for Democratic candidates.”
And drum roll, please: “The modernization of the party also is reflected in a comprehensive post-primary campaign for Democrats across the November ballot that is expected to be unveiled in coming days. Funded and led by the billionaire Gov. JB Pritzker, the coordinated campaign will also enlist the state party organization, the Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association and other ancillary groups.”
Have a news tip, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? I’d like to hear from you: [email protected]
At the Black Fire Brigade on South Wabash Avenue at 8 a.m. with Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton to tour the Black Fire Brigade facility and meet with trainees.
At Overtone Center at 2 p.m. for a Chicago Recovery Plan Community Development Grant announcement.
No official public events.
— Out-of-state businesses are buying Illinois’ sales pitch: “The organization has helped bring to Illinois 15,800 jobs and $4.6 billion of capital investment in its first six years. For instance, Lion Electric, a Canadian company that makes electric school buses, plans to open a manufacturing plant in Joliet later this year. In downstate Bloomington, Rivian manufactures electric cars,” by Daily Herald’s Orrin Schwarz.
… But, but but. Chief Executive magazine ranks Illinois toward the bottom on a list of best states to do business.
— State education chief urges schools to stop working with police to ticket students for misbehavior, by Tribune’s Jennifer Smith Richards and ProPublica’s Jodi S. Cohen
— As nationwide teacher shortage worsens, some say inadequate pay is to blame, by Tribune’s Karen Ann Cullotta
— $309M available to Illinois homeowners struggling with their mortgages, by Capitol News’ Grace Kinnicutt
— WHAT ARE THE ODDS? Loyola nurse on vacation in Arizona performs CPR, saving a man who turned out to be from Illinois, by Tribune’s Lisa Schencker
For the first time in two years, City Colleges of Chicago celebrates commencement in person: “In the first of two ceremonies, graduates from the classes of 2020, 2021 and 2022 from Malcolm X College, Harry S. Truman College, Wilbur Wright College and Olive-Harvey College were cheered on by loved ones. School faculty and leaders, the valedictorian of Olive-Harvey and, in a virtual message, Mayor Lori Lightfoot passed on words of inspiration before the graduates walked across the stage,” by Tribune’s Tatyana Turner.
— How one apartment project on the Far Northwest Side created divisions on affordable housing, congestion and more: “While Lightfoot during her first term has had minimal success defeating aldermanic prerogative, one exception is the Glenstar development. Late last year, the City Council approved the plan over the objections of the ward’s alderman, who warned his fellow council members they were establishing a dangerous precedent that empowered any mayor to overrule local aldermanic control on development issues,” by Tribune’s Alice Yin.
— Lightfoot leaves Board of Education seat empty after arguing against elected board: “The mayor fought against an elected board, saying it was imperative she appoint all its members. Leaving a seat open for 9 months — especially with two more vacancies looming — is “problematic,” one lawmaker said,” by Sun-Times’ Nader Issa.
— A key Lightfoot casino adviser raised money for one of the bidders: “The already bumpy process of selecting a casino winner gets bumpier, with aldermen left out of the loop on a connection between one of the finalists and the consultancy hired by the city to run the numbers on the bids,” reports Crain’s Greg Hinz.
— Chicago’s new IG: “I will do everything in my power to ensure that OIG occupies every corner of its legal mandate. I did not back down from difficult problems as public safety deputy and I won’t do so as inspector general,” she tells Steve Johnson for Center for Illinois Politics.
— Wealthy neighborhoods hiring their own private police as crime rises. by Wall Street Journal’s Joe Barrett
— Chicago will host the WNBA All-Star Game for the first time, via The Associated Press
— The Chicago Bears load up with 11 draft picks, including 8 on the final day, via The Associated Press
— 3 tornadoes confirmed during Saturday night storms, via Tribune
— McLean County Republicans host governor, Senate candidates and proxies at a Bloomington event, by WGLT’s Jim Stahly Jr.
— Welch committed to protecting incumbents. ‘But it’s not a blank check,’ he tells Rich Miller for The Pantagraph.
— Durkin believes Irvin can win in suburbs and Chicago, he tells WCIA’s Cole Henke
— David Moore has been endorsed by Congressman Danny Davis and good-government advocate and former Chicago Ald. Dick Simpson. Moore is running for secretary of state to replace Jesse White, who is retiring after this term.
— Anna Valencia is being endorsed by Planned Parenthood of Illinois Action in her bid for secretary of state.
— Delia Ramirez has been endorsed by the Amalgamated Transit Union. She’s running for the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District.
— Rep. Sonya Harper just survived a petition challenge and now faces Chicago police officer Carolynn Crump in the Democratic primary in the 6th legislative district.
— Conservative judge who won’t fill out questionnaire on diversity and LGBTQ issues faces a “Not Recommended” rating from state bar, by The Washington Times’ Alex Swoyerr
— Mark Carroll won the endorsement of the Naperville Township Republican Organization in his bid for the 11th District Congressional seat.
Griffin’s anti-Trump move: Chicago billionaire Ken Griffin has donated $7.5 million to former hedge fund CEO David McCormick’s Republican Senate campaign in Pennsylvania. McCormick’s opponent is Mehmet Oz, better known as TV celebrity Dr. Oz, who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
— Orland Park mayor says crime at lowest in nearly three decades: “In his bid for Congress, Mayor Keith Pekau is touting the downward turn in reported crimes during his tenure. While the reported statistics bear him out, there was a spike in violent crime his first year in office,” by Better Government Association’s Analisa Trofimuk.
— Podcast on Lane Bryant killings in Tinley Park hopes to draw new attention, possible closure to long-unresolved case, by Daily Southtown’s Mike Nolan
— New farmstand to offer locally raised meats, eggs on Elgin’s west side, by Daily Herald’s Rick West
We’re still taking ideas for a poker game about Illinois politics. In the meantime, my poker pals played a fun game of “Cardle,” a spin-off of Wordle.
Which grocery store do you think is a good fit in the Englewood location that Whole Foods is abandoning? Email [email protected]
Kinzinger introduces measure to allow U.S. military intervention in Ukraine if Russia uses chemical, biological weapons: “Speaking on CBS’ ‘Face the Nation,’ the Illinois Republican said the joint resolution would not be a mandate for the Democratic president but rather a measure that would provide an option for Biden’s administration while also sending a warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin as he pursues war with Ukraine,” by Tribune’s Rick Pearson.
— Trumpworld braces for ‘a couple of ugly nights’ in May, by POLITICO’s David Siders
— Pelosi’s secret visit to Ukraine, by POLITICO’s Alexander Ward, Andrew Desiderio and Sarah Ferris
— Trump’s criminal justice reform bill becomes persona non grata among GOPers, by POLITICO’s Meridith McGraw
— The night Kennedy and Nixon were bunkmates, by POLITICO’s Bryan Bender
— NPR’s Scott Simon, who’s based in Illinois, was spotted at the White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday wearing a blue and yellow tie in honor of Ukraine. Simon told Playbook he was taken aback when he was asked on two occasions if he was wearing a “University of Delaware tie.” Oh, D.C.
— The late Ethel Payne, a pioneering Black journalist who covered the White House for the Chicago Defender, was memorialized at the White House Correspondents dinner.
— Former Gov. George Ryan was spotted at Orland Park Civic Center for the Chicago Political & Pop Culture Memorabilia Show on Sunday selling old campaign buttons and signing his book, “Until I Could Be Sure: How I Stopped the Death Penalty in Illinois.”
— Dilara Sayeed, co-founder of the Illinois Muslim Civic Coalition has been invited to take part in the White House’s Eid celebration today. The event commemorates the end of the holy month of Ramadan and will feature Muslim leaders from around the country.
— Christopher Koos, the mayor of Normal, has been nominated by the Biden administration to be a member of the Amtrak board of directors. Train’s magazine interviewed him recently about his interest in the passenger rail industry.
Charity Greene is senior comms manager at Opendoor, the online home sales company. She previously was associate comms director with the Illinois Governor’s Office.
— Today at 6 p.m.: A candidate forum for the 13th state House seat now held by Rep. Greg Harris will be held live at Amundsen High School. Or you can watch it on Facebook Live. The event is sponsored by the 40th Ward Democratic Organization led by Committeewoman Maggie O’Keefe.
— Wednesday at noon: A virtual discussion on Pew Research study about statehouse reporting trends. Headlining are NPR’s Hannah Meisel, Lee Enterprises’ Brenden Moore, and Capitol News’ Jerry Nowicki.
FRIDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to Janice Anderson for correctly answering that Vincenzo Antonio Gibaldi took the name “Battling” Jack McGurn because Irish-named boxers got more fight bookings at the time. He went on to join Al Capone’s gang, where he was known as “Machine Gun” Jack McGurn.
TODAY’s QUESTION: Which chief judge of DuPage County 18th judicial circuit in the past 20 years was never elected as a circuit judge? Email [email protected]
Cook County Circuit Court Judge Ieshia Gray, former state rep and former Chicago alderperson Deb Graham, Chicago attorney Graham Grady, and political cartoonist Scott Stantis.
May 2, 2022 at 08:40AM