Michael Sacks elbows the fringe
Good Thursday morning, Illinois. If there were any question, it’s still winter.
Businessman Michael Sacks has kept a low profile in Chicago since his friend, former Mayor Rahm Emanuel, left office four years ago. That’s changed recently.
Sacks, once known as the Rahm whisperer, was a force behind the campaign to pass the assault weapons ban in Springfield last month. And now he’s helping fund an independent expenditure committee working on behalf of aldermanic candidates running against what he sees as fringe members of the Democratic Party, primarily Democratic Socialists.
Sacks has enlisted some familiar names in the effort: Ron Holmes, who worked on the campaign to ban assault weapons, and Michael Ruemmler, a former top adviser to Emanuel. They are leading the Get Stuff Done PAC, as the independent expenditure committee is known. Like Sacks, they see themselves as progressives who want to help elect aldermen who get work done, if you will.
Common sense not contention: “The job of an alderman is to bring stuff back,” Holmes told Playbook. “If you are a ‘no’ on everything and you don’t vote on budgets or projects for your community or fill out requests to get streets paved, then you’re doing a disservice to your constituents.”
The group has targeted 15 different aldermanic races, including that of Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th), who voted no on Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s budget and against the new casino. In a statement, Sigcho-Lopez criticized Sacks and the other wealthy donors to the PAC, saying, “In my four years fighting for working class residents, I’ve never once heard from the likes of Michael Sacks, the Crown family or the Duchossois family about their apparently grave concerns for the people of the 25th Ward.”
As WTTW’s Heather Cherone has reported, Sacks has contributed $1 million to the effort that has raised $1.74 million overall.
Brandon Johnson is taking heat in the final days of the election for his close connection to the Chicago Teachers Union and for his past comments on “defunding” the police.
Some members of the teachers union are concerned about the $1 million that the CTU has funneled to Johnson’s campaign, according to WTTW’s Paris Schutz who interviewed union members.
Campaign finance rules: The monies bankrolling Johnson’s campaign also have drawn scrutiny from the Illinois State Board of Elections, which prompted the union to tweak how it’s describing the donation in order to follow election guidelines, according to WTTW.
Some rank-and-file members are concerned there’s been a lack of transparency in funding Johnson’s campaign, and CTU members worry their union coffers will be depleted, forcing dues to be raised, according to the report.
“Members weren’t notified; many of us were notified by going onto the website and finding out this money was donated, and it wasn’t done in a transparent way,” said CTU Delegate Mary Esposito Usterbowski, who ran unsuccessfully last year to unseat Davis Gates in internal union elections.
CTU officials didn’t respond to WTTW’s story directly but tweeted that the information was “inaccurate” and those speaking out don’t represent the “nearly 30,000 rank-and-file teachers, clinicians, counselors, nurses, PSRPs, librarians and others.”
Fueling the fire: The concerns from CTU members come as questions have already been raised by rivals about whether Johnson can fairly represent regular Chicago taxpayers when he’s so tightly connected to the union.
On the “defund” issue: Johnson has said it’s a “political goal” to defund police, but he’s been less precise running for mayor, reports the Tribune’s Alice Yin
The election is five days away.
If you are Rahm Emanuel, Playbook would like to know your take on the mayor’s race. Email [email protected].
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— It’s back! Lawmakers take another look at graduated income tax: The Legislation has some “significant differences” from Gov. JB Pritzker’s “fair tax” proposal that failed to get voter approval in 2020, reports Crain’s Greg Hinz.
In the new legislation carried by state Sen. Robert Martwick, “tax rates on low-income single filers would be cut to as low as 4 percent, well under the state’s current 4.95 percent flat rate and the 4.75 percent rate the governor proposed,” writes Hinz. “The tax rate wouldn’t even hit the 4.75 percent mark until a person’s annual income tops $100,000.”
— ‘Equitable restrooms’ bill advances in House: “It just creates the opportunity for places, businesses, universities, you name it, to create a multi-stall gender-neutral restroom, if they so choose,” sponsoring Rep. Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, said during the hearing. “And it lays out requirements for what is in that facility.” Capitol News’ Peter Hancock reports.
— Springfield council passes budget with police raises and new firehouses, by State Journal-Register’s Steven Spearie
— Eviction notice: State Rep. La Shawn Ford and state Sen. Karina Villa are carrying legislation that would expand opportunities for people to seal their eviction court records. HB 1569 and SB 242 would seal certain eviction cases when a case is dismissed, the tenant wins the case, a satisfaction of judgment is filed or when the eviction records are older than seven years.
— Feds: Madigan confidant was interviewed twice by FBI in years leading up to bombshell indictments: “The first interview of Michael McClain, the speaker’s friend and longtime ComEd lobbyist, came in August 2014, the same month that Madigan was secretly recorded by an FBI informant discussing at his law firm a desire to secure property tax business with a Chinatown developer, the filing shows,” by Tribune’s Ray Long and Jason Meisner.
— Council members criticize police for not firing cops tied to extremist groups: “CPD Deputy Chief Traci Walker opened her statements by saying ‘hate and extremism in any form have no place in the Chicago Police Department.’ But later, the bureau of internal affairs representative conceded during the hearing that the department didn’t aggressively investigate allegations made in a 2021 NPR article that said 13 CPD officers were active members of another far-right group, the Oath Keepers,” by Tribune’s Jake Sheridan.
— CPS unveils $76M plan to upgrade, expand security cameras at schools, by WTTW’s Matt Masterson
— CPS 2023-24 calendar again starts before Labor Day, gives two-week winter break, by Sun-Times’ Nader Issa
— Community groups and volunteers step up to help find housing for migrants six months since they arrived, by Sun-Times’ Elvia Malagón
— CHEERS: A byproduct from local breweries is helping clean wastewater: Revolution Brewery is giving its “spent yeast” to the Metropolitan Water District, which uses it to “reduce the amount of phosphorus in the water MWRD treats.” MWRD Commissioner Kimberly Du Buclet calls the program a “win-win.” WTTW’s Nick Blumberg reports.
— ‘Hamilton’ returning to Chicago this fall, by Sun-Times’ Miriam Di Nunzio
— McHenry County Board approves resolution denouncing new state assault weapons ban: “The resolution argues it could harm local businesses and make ‘felons out of law-abiding citizens.’ The final vote was 11-6, with the board’s five Democrats, as well as Michael Skala, R-Huntley, voting against it,” reports Shaw Local’s James T. Norman.
— First installment of 2022 Cook County property tax bills arrives: “Property owners have until April 3 to pay — a reprieve of approximately a month — after the second installment of property owners’ 2021 tax bills was more than 150 days late amid months of bureaucratic wrangling and finger pointing among Cook County officials,” WTTW’s Heather Cherone. WITH VIDEO on how bills are calculated.
— Waukegan airport runway proposal clears hurdle despite opposition, by Lake County News-Sun’s Gavin Good
— A Skokie artist hopped a plane to help quake victims in Syria and Turkey, by Leigh Giangreco for WBEZ
— R. Kelly faces sentencing Thursday for child pornography, enticement conviction, by WGN 9’s Sam Charles
We asked what you thought you’d be doing 20 years from your high school days.
Nancy Rotering: The Highland Park mayor thought she’d be a pediatric surgeon.
Randy Bukas, The Freeport city manager, stayed the course. He thought he’d work in government or a planning department, and he did, eventually going into management.
Elliot Regenstein, an attorney, wanted to be a sportswriter. He came close. “After college, I turned down a job at the AP sports desk to work in public policy.”
Mike Gascoigne, who processes tax returns for the state, thought he’d be an author or lawyer.
Mark Heffington, a high school history teacher, wanted to be a drive-time DJ on KSHE-95 (Real Rock Radio) in St. Louis.
Taylor Pensoneau, a former Illinois statehouse bureau reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, wanted to be an accountant.
What did you do after school when you were a kid? Email [email protected]
— John Catanzara, the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police leader who trumpeted Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ visit to the Chicago suburbs this week, “ended up skipping the DeSantis speech to instead head to Las Vegas,” reports NBC’s Natasha Korecki.
— Kirk Dillard, chair of the Regional Transportation Authority, headlined Wednesday’s City Club of Chicago forum. His message: Without additional funding, Chicago and the collar counties will face a “financial crisis.”
He urged additional funding after federal Covid relief monies currently supporting the transit system run out at the end of 2025. Dillard said post-Covid practices of working from home threaten Illinois transit companies that are required by state law to get half of their revenues from transit fares. He foresees a $730 million annual budget gap without new funds.
— SPOTTED: Consul General of Israel to the Midwest Yinam Cohen addressing the Illinois House to commemorate Israel’s 75th anniversary.
— Trump demonized the media. DeSantis wants to diminish them, by POLITICO’s Matt Dixon
— 2 former House GOP candidates alerted to improper requests for Air Force records, by POLITICO’s Olivia Beavers
— 2024’s sprawling Senate map comes down to these 3 Dems, by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett
— Diane Webster and Karen Nathan are partners at the law firm Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani, and Luca Giovine is an associate. They joined the firm’s Chicago office from Hinshaw & Culbertson.
— Andrew Adams is now a state government and data reporter for Capitol News Illinois. He joins after a stint at Government Technology magazine.
WEDNESDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to former state Rep. Kathy Ryg and comms consultant Jim Bray for correctly answering that former Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon also served on the Carbondale City Council and the Illinois Reform Commission.
TODAY’s QUESTION: Who was the elected official who used a baseball card format as a campaign piece to feature election stats, personal stats and pitching priorities. Email [email protected]
Joyce Foundation Education Program Director Stephanie Banchero, “American Pharaoh” author Elizabeth Taylor, aldermanic candidate Wendi Taylor Nations, Senate Judiciary speechwriter Ziya Smallens, Illinois Labor Relations Board Local Panel Chair Lynne Sered, Cresset Capital Chief Marketing Officer Jessica Malkin, Better Government Association Public Policy Director Bryan Zarou, health care leader and educator Joseph Topinka and NewsNation’s Erenia Michell.
And belated greetings to Elliot Regenstein, who celebrated the big 5-0 Wednesday.
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February 23, 2023 at 09:04AM