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Bobby Rush, Black leaders step into SOS race

The publication of Illinois Playbook was delayed this morning due to a technical issue. We apologize for our tardiness.

TGIF, Illinois. If a dry martini can’t be part of dry January on a Friday night, what is the point?

PRITZKER ENTERS SCHOOL FRAY: “Gov. JB Pritzker has asked the Biden administration for Covid-19 tests to help resolve the latest dispute between Chicago Public Schools and its teachers union, a disagreement that’s led to the cancellation of classes for three straight days,” by Bloomberg’s Shruti Singh.

With Pat Dowell running for Congress, some Black elected leaders who had endorsed her in the secretary of state race are now backing Alexi Giannoulias. And joining them is Rep. Bobby Rush, whose exit next year from politics has opened a lane for Dowell to become the frontrunner in Illinois 1st Congressional District race.

Also backing Giannoulias are Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, former Illinois Senate President Emil Jones Jr., state Sen. Mattie Hunter (3rd), Ald. Howard Brookins (21st), Ald. Christopher Taliaferro (29th), MWRD Commissioner Kimberly Neely Du Buclet, and Committeeperson Preston Brown Jr. (34th).

“Alexi has our full support, and we are excited to unite behind his campaign,” Braun said in a statement.

The endorsements are key for Giannoulias as history has shown that statewide candidates can’t win in Illinois without support from African American voters. The latest endorsements also follow backing from labor unions, Cook County Democrats and Rep. Chuy Garcia.

Still, the primary is five months away and though Dowell is out of the race, Giannoulias still faces City Clerk Anna Valencia and Ald. David Moore in the June 28 primary. And there’s still one Black leader the remaining SOS candidates would like to have in their corner: Pat Dowell.

A somewhat arcane bill that changes how judges get elected in Cook County could also inadvertently upend the Cook County Democratic Party organization.

What’s happening: Five new subcircuit court districts were created, which will include judges that serve under the county’s purview. That means that over the next 10 years, some 55 judicial vacancies will no longer be countywide seats. They would be in a subcircuit court district.

The goal of the bill carried by Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez and Senate President Don Harmon is to create smaller judicial districts that better represent communities and allow for more minority candidates in judicial seats.

But yesterday, a day after the bill passed both chambers and was sent to the governor, lawmakers realized the measure might have some unintended consequences.

Because those seats would move out from under the purview of Cook County, the Cook County Democratic Party would lose power to slate — or endorse— some judicial candidates. Getting slated means the party promotes candidates on glossy fliers, makes robocalls and knocks on doors. It’s difficult for candidates not slated to compete against that kind of muscle. Those who get slated, judicial candidates and everyone from the governor to water reclamation commissioners, pay $40,000 each for the perk.

Last month, for example, nine judicial candidates were slated for vacancies, which comes to $360,000 in the Cook County Democrats’ coffers.

Along with decentralizing the judicial process, the bill could see Cook County Democrats’ coffers depleted. So there’s already some talk about reworking the bill.

Harmon, though, says the concerns are overblown. There still should be plenty of judicial vacancies filled by the county, he told Playbook. “Our intent was to follow the model from 1991, where some but not all judicial vacancies were assigned to subcircuits. If people are reading it differently, we would certainly correct it.”

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— SUPPLY CHAIN ISSUE: Covid-testers out sick from Omicron: “While the supply chain for once-scarce equipment remains intact, the sheer demand for testing is stretching sample collection sites and laboratory staff,” by POLITICO’s David Lim.

— Daily Covid-19 deaths in Illinois hit triple digits for first time since last February, by Daily Herald’s Jake Griffin

— Latest sign of hospitals’ Covid crisis: Patients kept waiting in ERs for beds, by Tribune’s Joe Mahr and Lisa Schencker

— CPD cancels officers’ days off this weekend as police union complains of staffing shortage amid Covid surge: “Some officers are so in need of a break that they are trying to contract COVID so they can get the required time off, a police source said,” by Sun-Times’ Mitch Dudek.

— No school today as CPS, CTU remain at odds over reopening: “Principals from schools throughout the city sent messages to their families letting them know whether their students would have limited opportunities to attend school Friday,” by Sun-Times’ Nader Issa.

… Message from the mayor’s office last night: “Bargaining sessions today started at noon and went into the evening. The sessions were productive from our perspective.”

… CPS sports can resume Friday if coaches are available, by Sun-Times’ Michael O’Brien

… FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES: With No School in Sight, Chicago Families Grit Their Teeth: “While city officials clash with the teachers’ union over how to return to classrooms amid Omicron, families around Chicago reflect on the pandemic’s effects on their children.”

— Indicted in Bridgeport bank failure case, William M. Mahon is out at Streets and San: “He stayed on at City Hall for a month after being charged. His boss Cole Stallard got a mortgage from Washington Federal Bank for Savings while Mahon was on the bank board,” by Sun-Times’ Tim Novak and Robert Herguth.

— Questions surround Chicago Teachers Pension Fund’s long overdue forensic investigation: “Sixteen years after a forensic investigation of the Chicago teachers’ pension was first proposed by deeply concerned trustees, as well as lauded in The New York Times, the pension claims it has contracted for a forensic review. Whether the scope of the investigation will finally seek answers to longstanding trustee questions regarding potential conflicts of interest, fiduciary breaches and violations of law regarding its investments, the pension won’t say,” by Edward Siedle for Forbes.

— A capitol idea: Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) says he’ll re-introduce legislation he proposed a year ago to place restrictions on people wanting to do business in Chicago if they’ve admitted to or been convicted of treason, sedition, or related offenses. “This past year has revealed the persons and businesses responsible for the Capitol insurrection and the support they have benefitted from in their respective cities,” said Villegas said in a statement. “As a Marine, I took an oath to defend this nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and there’s no expiration date on that.”

— A century ago, Chicago was transfixed by a murder case involving a cheating husband and a concocted story about a ‘ragged stranger,’ by Tribune’s Ron Grossman

— Bears place QB Justin Fields on the reserve/Covid-19 list, by Tribune’s Colleen Kane

— HOLD ONTO YOUR PHONE: The Illinois Supreme Court has announced a new policy allowing phones and electronic devices in courtrooms — to be determined on a court by court basis. “The courts must adapt with the times, and this is an important way to address the needs of court users,” Chief Justice Anne Burke said in a statement. “It is no longer realistic to ask people to leave cell phones and other electronics at home when they visit courthouses.

— Partisan dispute leaves Illinois legislature’s watchdog office vacant: “Legislative Inspector General Carol Pope was set to leave office at the close of business Thursday after announcing in July that she was stepping down. Pope resigned in protest over a government ethics overhaul lawmakers approved last spring that she said ‘demonstrated true ethics reform is not a priority,’” by Tribune’s Dan Petrella.

— What ComEd’s rate hikes mean for business — and Illinois’ economy: “Of the $100 million in higher rates that just went into effect, $70 million is falling on nonresidential customers. That’s not typical, but it’s looking like it will be in the future,” by Crain’s Steve Daniels.

— Follow-up bill to ease implementation of criminal-justice reforms passed by Illinois House: “If signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker, it would be the second bill tweaking the original legislation spearheaded in January 2020 by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police,” by State Journal-Register’s Dean Olsen.

— Pritzker announces support for social worker protection bill, by WCIA’s Bradley Zimmerman

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT: Chicago City Council members are back to redrawing boundaries, starting with a public hearing today. Leading up to that, there’s been an exchange of letters between members of the Latino Caucus, which wants to build representation to match population growth, and the council’s Rules Committee that includes the Black Caucus.

In its letter, obtained by Playbook, Coalition Map members that include Latino Caucus requested council members follow a set of principles for engaging in the process. Among them: “Rules Committee shall encourage all alderpersons to be flexible and to be willing to move boundaries in the interest of compromise. None of the wards shall be deemed to be ‘locked-in’ in their entirety.”

Ald. Michelle Harris, who oversees the Rules Committee, responded with her own, less specific letter, saying, “the remap will remain a civil process based in collaboration and cooperation.”

Today’s hearing is at 10 a.m. and can be watched virtually through the City Clerk’s website.

— ARNE FOR MAYOR? Arne Duncan cracks the door open to 2023 race for mayor against Lightfoot: “Late last year, the former Chicago Public Schools CEO told reporters he loved his violence prevention work and was ‘not interested’ in challenging incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot. On Thursday, Duncan started to change his tune,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman

— State Rep. Chris Miller announces reelection bid on Jan. 6: “Miller’s announcement comes a year to the day he attended a Washington, D.C., rally where President Donald Trump spoke, an event that preceded the attack on the U.S. Capitol, and earned Miller the ire of his Democratic colleagues,” by the Journal Gazette & Times-Courier’s Taylor Vidmar.

— Thomas Maillard, a Democratic State Central Committeeman in the 10th congressional district, is running for the 62nd state House seat that’s currently held by Rep. Sam Yingling (who’s running in the state Senate). Maillard is Waukegan’s director of Government Operations.

— GOP picks final four in 2024 convention search: “Milwaukee, the site of Democrats’ canceled 2020 convention, made the GOP’s short list for 2024,” by POLITICO’s Alex Isenstadt.

What happened to the Illinoisans charged in the Jan. 6 attack? “A year later, here’s a rundown of everyone from Illinois who has been charged in connection with the insurrection attempt,” by Patch’s J. Ryne Danielson,

— More suburban kids hospitalized with severe COVID-19 cases as surge breaks records: “We just don’t know the implications.” Sun-Times’ Mitchell Armentrout reports.

— Why these suburban moms wanted the racism deleted from their property deeds: “Although now illegal and unenforceable, the 1929 rule prohibiting the sale of their homes to people who are Black, Jewish, Chinese or Japanese was ‘a stain on our home,’” by Crain’s Dennis Rodkin.

Cannabis company asks Illinois Supreme Court to let state name craft grower license winners: “The motion reveals in depth the costs to the applicants while the licenses have been delayed, initially due to problems with scoring the applications. The applicants have lost not only money spent on property, but people they had hired or planned to employ, and investor funding needed to get started,” by Tribune’s Robert McCoppin.

We asked how you juggle working at home with your kids: Consultant Brian Bernardoni describes “making the ‘switch’ from being an aggressive advocate for my clients to being attentive, supportive and a cheerful parent when they need me to be — my Mr. French mode.”

If not dry January, what’s your healthy thing for the month? Email to [email protected]

— Bill Clinton, Oprah and his fellow centrists go all-out to sway Manchin on filibuster, by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett

— House Intel’s next top Republican prepares a sharp turn from the Trump years, by POLITICO’s Olivia Beavers and Andrew Desiderio

— Harris was inside DNC on Jan. 6 when pipe bomb was discovered outside, by POLITICO’s Betsy Woodruff Swan, Christopher Cadelago and Kyle Cheney

— Ted Cruz walks back Jan. 6 ‘terrorist’ remark in heated exchange with Tucker Carlson, by POLITICO’s Myah Ward

GOP gubernatorial candidate Jesse Sullivan and his wife, Monique Sullivan, are proud parents of Will, who was born Thursday and comes to the world with four older siblings. Pix!

THURSDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to Jim Nowlan and John Fritchey for correctly answering that in 1950, the Saturday Evening Post described the Shelton brothers gang, known for bootlegging, as “America’s Bloodiest Gang.”

TODAY’s QUESTION: Who was the state representative who devised a plan to change the design of a proposed expressway to protect a church? Email to [email protected] (Points for those who can include the names of the expressway and church.)

Today: Ald. Silvana Tabares, North Chicago Mayor Leon Rockingham, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Rosa Silva, Cicero Township Committeeperson Blanca Vargas, Illinois Commerce Commission adviser Bryant Hitchings, Val Deming finance chair Alex Milofsky, and businessman and first brother to the governor Tony Pritzker.

Saturday: State Rep. Kathleen Willis, former Congressman Mel Reynolds, Catholic Charities’ Strategic Initiatives director Matthew McCabe, and business networker George Bliss.

Sunday: Retired Circuit Court Judge Shelli Hayes, Jasculca Terman public affairs’ Jim Terman, Strategia Consulting’s Matthew Serafin, and former University Park Mayor Vivian Covington.

And Rob Rose, former directory of the Cook County Land Bank Authority, who celebrated yesterday.

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