State Dems struggle with power, money

State Dems struggle with power, money

Happy Thursday, Illinois. It’s an extra coffee kind of morning after a late night out. Friday’s so close.

There’s more upheaval in the Illinois Democratic Party and some head-turning about contributions made to Democratic county chairs.

First, two top paid staffers are stepping down just 10 days after a new party leader was named to the organization.

“It has become clear that we are no longer the right people to implement the new direction for the party,” wrote Executive Director Abby Witt in an email to Illinois Democratic officials. Her last day is Sept. 2, and Deputy Director Jake Lewis “ends his time” tomorrow.

The news isn’t a complete surprise, given Witt and Lewis were allies of Congresswoman Robin Kelly, the former party chair who was edged out of the race to continue leading the party by state Rep. Lisa Hernandez.

After her victory, Hernandez, who was backed by Gov. JB Pritzker, asked staffers to stay on, but Witt and Lewis decided to leave anyway. The think is they might have been out of their jobs anyway after the election as Hernandez built up her team.

“I am grateful to Abby and Jake for their demonstrated commitment to supporting Democrats across the state and dedication to the Democratic Party of Illinois,” Hernandez said in a statement to Playbook. “They played critical roles at DPI in service of the party, and I wish them the very best in their future endeavors.”

Adding to the tension: Kelly made some big contributions from the party to Democratic Central Committeeman Bill Houlihan’s political account and the Sangamon County Democrats, for which he’s chair. Checks were written to other party leaders, too.

The contributions of $50,000 were paid out by Kelly just before she announced she’d step aside from the contentious chair’s race. The cash came from the party’s federal account, the “hard money” account, as it’s called.

As party chair, Kelly had authority to disperse those funds as she saw fit, especially with the November election creeping up. But the timing — right before her exit — drew criticism from Hernandez’s allies who see it as a gut punch to party finances. Giving to Houlihan was especially irksome to some folks, since he was a fierce ally of Kelly’s.

All this drama comes days before next week’s Democrats Day at the Illinois State Fair, an event that’s all about party unity. Talk about awkward

In the meantime, an interim executive director will be appointed while the Democratic State Central Committee forms a search committee to find a new executive director, according to a spokeswoman for Hernandez.

What the party’s looking for: Someone who knows how to operate in the Illinois political world (because, yeah, it’s quirky) while also understanding the ins and outs of working with the Democratic National Committee and DCCC.

The good news coming out of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s budget reveal on Wednesday is the city’s deficit is the smallest she took office.

The not-so-good news: With inflation hovering about, Lightfoot says property taxes need to be adjusted. They’ll rise by $42.7 million — half of what an automatic escalator allowed — thanks to a $127.9 million budget shortfall for 2023, reports Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.

How much will I pay? “A homeowner with a $250,000 home will pay $34 in one year,” Lightfoot explained. “That’s about the price of Al’s Italian Beef sandwiches — hot, dipped and with extra cheese — for a family of four.”

The mayor’s pitch: “As a result of our hard work over the past three-and-a-half years and despite a global pandemic, the resulting economic meltdown, and related loss of revenue, we persevered, stayed true to our values and have cleared the City’s budget of decades of deferred liabilities,” Lightfoot said. “In other words, we are now living within our means and have started on the true road to financial stability and recovery.”

What might surprise: The mayor’s willingness to consider a property tax hike of any kind before next year’s municipal election.

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 Illinois State Fairgrounds at 3 p.m. to mark the fair’s opening with a ribbon cutting and tent opening.

At the Ritz Carlton Hotel at 12:30 p.m. delivering the keynote address at the Chicago Investor Conference.

At the Cook County Building at 9 a.m. to announce Cook County Manufacturing Reinvented, a $5 million grant program to support manufacturing companies … At Columbus Park Refectory at 11 a.m. to announce $75 million for the Cook County Gun Violence Prevention & Reduction Grant  awards.

Pritzker: Bailey owes apology to Holocaust survivors for ‘offensive’ comparison to abortion:Pritzker also called on more Republicans to speak out against the comments. ‘Why can’t Republicans just stand up and say what Darren Bailey said was wrong?’ Pritzker asked. ‘Why can’t they do that?’” Sun-Times’ Tina Sfondeles reports.

Bailey internet posts shine brighter light on candidate’s cultural views: “The posts have him agreeing that Islam ‘is not a religion of peace,’ that CPS’ decision to let children use the bathroom that conforms to their sexual identity is ‘sickness’ and that a young person born as a biological woman who thinks they may actually be as a man needs to accept ‘reality,’” by Crain’s Greg Hinz.

Illinois gearing up for significant investment in EV charging network along highways: “The federal government will be delivering $5 billion over the next five years across the country — with Illinois receiving over $148 million — so states can build out electric vehicle charging infrastructure to support climate-friendly modes of transportation,” by Sun-Times’ Manny Ramos.

Court fight continues over unfit inmates: “Judge says state should meet prisoners’ mental health needs,” by Illinois Times’ Dean Olsen.

Hail, the Butter Cow, via Capitol News’ Peter Hancock

Rep. Chuy Garcia won’t rule out another run for Chicago mayor against Lori Lightfoot: “I’m not shutting the door completely but I’ve gotta tell you, I’ve never been as challenged or rewarded as I have been over the past three and a half years as a member of the United States Congress," Garcia said. by ABC 7’s Craig Wall.

Lightfoot says latest challenger’s call for top cop’s ouster ‘astounding,’ progress on crime is ‘remarkable’: “The mayor expressed ‘total confidence’ in CPD Supt. David Brown and said mayoral challenger Ald. Sophia King and others calling for Brown’s removal sound like people who ‘don’t know anything about public safety,’” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.

With 8 declared candidates, Chicago’s mayoral race heats up, by WTTW’s Amanda Vinicky

Nick Ward has been endorsed by Ald. Daniel LaSpata in his bid for the 48th Ward

Bally’s files application with state for first Chicago casino: “The clock is now running for the publicly traded Rhode Island-based company to win license approval from the state, finalize its proposal with the city’s planning department and get its casino opened on an ambitious timeline,” by Tribune’s Robert Channick.

Lightfoot responds to firing of Chicago police leader of reform effort, calling it ‘palace intrigue’: She says it won’t slow compliance with federal consent decree. “The mission of the department is larger and bigger than one individual person so people will say lots of things going out the door but what I can tell you is that the work on reform, and particularly the emphasis on training, is going to continue going forward,” the mayor said. Tribune’s Gregory Pratt reports.

Monkeypox spread demonstrates need for spending flexibility, Chicago’s top doctor says, by Tribune’s Jake Sheridan

A giant marina to attract boaters was approved in 2016 at Navy Pier. Why hasn’t it been built? WTTW’s Paris Schutz reports

Chicago Park District joins city in effort to protect shoreline, via CBS 2

Whitney Young H.S. selects new principal, only its 4th in 47 years, by Sun-Times’ Nader Issa

‘A reasonable step’: Lake County Board supports proposed new state, federal gun restrictions, by Daily Herald’s Mick Zawislak

Republican county board members torpedo plan for new sales tax in Kane County, by Daily Herald’s James Fuller

Ninth and First Circuit rulings support challenge to Illinois law banning out of state judicial contributions, by Madison-St. Clair Record’s Steve Korris

Family of woman critically injured in expressway shooting involving off-duty cop files lawsuit against city, by Tribune’s Adriana Pérez

We asked what you can’t miss at the Illinois State Fair:

Fred Lebed: “I have a soft spot for the State Fair Rose Show, since I took third place with one of my roses a few years ago.”

Ed Mazur: “The Butter Cow.”

Dave Evans: “ Corn dogs! I only eat them at state or county fairs.” (I’m with you, Dave.)

John F. McCabe: “Lemon Shake-ups.”

Rebecca Darr: “Conservation World and the Pioneer Karmel Korn and Pork Skins shop (my parents’ business).”

It’s high school reunion time. Who became the most famous student in your class? Email [email protected]

Trump world gripped with anger, fear and a host of conspiracies about the FBI search, by POLITICO’s Kyle Cheney and Meridith McGraw

The guide to Trump’s increasing legal threats, via POLITICO

The newest fad in fundraising: Gold-level clubs for lobbyists, by POLITICO’s Hailey Fuchs

Health care providers are shouldering rising costs. That could change soon, by POLITICO’s Tucker Doherty

Kate Brueggemann has been named senior VP of development for the Chicago Zoological Society, which operates Brookfield Zoo. She starts Sept. 15. Brueggemann succeeds Cindy Zeigler, who led the Zoological Society’s philanthropic and development efforts and spearheaded changes in the fundraising program over the past 14 years. Brueggemann most recently was VP of development for the Adler Planetarium.

Lady Gaga’s Born this Way Foundation, which she co-founded with her mom, Cynthia Germanotta, is providing grants to two Chicago nonprofits as part of a “Kindness in Community” fund. The Midwest Asian Health Association is receiving a $50,000 grant, and Erika’s Lighthouse, a $25,000 grant.

Aug. 19: Five hundred years ago, on Sept. 6, 1522, “the battered Victoria carrying 21 starving men, limped into Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain. The Chicago Maritime Museum will examine how that voyage changed the view of Earth. Sign up here

WEDNESDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to journalists Andy Shaw and Ted Slowik for correctly answering that Naperville and Wheaton fought over the location of a courthouse. Soon after the civil war, Wheaton, in a midnight raid, stole the records from the Naperville Courthouse and took them to Wheaton and never looked back.

TODAY’s QUESTION: Who was the former speaker of the Illinois House and secretary of state whose death prompted the "Shoebox Scandal" corruption investigation? Email [email protected]

First District Appellate Court Judge Mathias Delort; former state Rep. Rosemary Kurtz; MWRD policy aide Richard Greenfield; Cor Strategies’ Rich Carter; broadcaster and U. of I. constituent engagement director Andrea Darlas; TV host and content creator Catie Keogh; Marin McCall, digital and social media specialist at the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism; and Mary Pat Burns, president of Burke Burns & Pinelli and a Court of Claims judge.



August 11, 2022 at 07:52AM

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