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Chicago schools close again as standoff continues

Good Monday morning, Illinois. I hope you survived the giant ice rink that landed on the northern part of the state.

Sticking points remain in the negotiations between Chicago Public Schools and the teachers union, prompting Mayor Lori Lightfoot to announce last night that students would not return to the classroom today, the fourth day they’ve been out of school. Talks were to continue “through the night,” and parents’ patience has frayed.

“Out of fairness and consideration for parents who need to prepare, classes will be canceled again Monday,” Lightfoot said in an 8 p.m. statement issued with CPS CEO Pedro Martinez. “Although we have been negotiating hard throughout the day, there has not been sufficient progress for us to predict a return to class tomorrow.”

The two sides were at the bargaining table all day Sunday and a source familiar with the discussions said there’s a sense that both sides want to resolve the standoff. The Rev. Jesse Jackson, known the world over for helping negotiate warring factions, has also met with the mayor and union leaders to urge an end to the impasse.

CTU was planning a 7 a.m. press conference today to talk about the negotiations.

The teachers union has recommended returning to school Jan. 18, after the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. But that was before tensions rippled beyond the negotiating table.

Unlike previous CPS vs. CTU standoffs (of which there have been many), frustrated parents are planning pop-up rallies calling on the mayor and teachers to reach a resolution that gets kids back in their classrooms, according to the source.

And last night, parents held a Facebook Q&A with Dr. Allison Arwady to better understand health and safety issues in the schools.

At the crux of the standoff: The teachers union says it’s concerned about safety as the pandemic surges. Specifically, it wants more testing of students (Lightfoot has said she wants parents to opt their children into testing) and a blueprint for when a school goes remote.

Lightfoot said on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” that the city has responded to the union’s concerns over testing. “We think we can get agreement there.” She noted that Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced he would provide 350,000 additional nasal swab tests to the school district. As to the second point, that’s still being negotiated.

The district has also offered to ramp up contact tracing, which the CTU says has been “riddled with problems, including delays of a week or more to notify educators and parents of positive cases,” according to a statement.

A lingering question: Why not return to remote learning until CPS and CTU resolve their differences? Virtual learning is easy for some students, but there are many others who don’t have the resources at home to Zoom in. And there are issues beyond the classroom: More than two-thirds of the school system’s 330,000 students rely on schools for meals.

Allowing remote learning would also bend to the union’s demands. CPS says the union’s decision not to return to the classroom amounts to an unauthorized work stoppage, per its bargaining agreement. After all, the school district, not the union, is supposed to decide when and how schools open and close.

The city and the union have each filed complaints with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, claiming unfair labor practices.

Asked by NBC’s Chuck Todd what leverage she has over the union, Lightfoot said, “We’ve got the will of the people. Parents are outraged and they’re making their outrage known to the teachers union.”


Here’s why CPS didn’t take Pritzker’s Covid test offer: “In a late Friday statement, the district said it had considered the saliva test but felt nasal swabs were more appropriate for students,” by Crain’s A.D. Quig.

The CPS-CTU standoff is fodder for a new campaign ad by Republican gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey. The ad opens with a line about “The corrupt Chicago liberals.”

Watch for action on the campaign front as candidates gear up to gather signatures for petitions starting Thursday.

Within days we’ll also see what other Republicans might jump into the governor’s race. Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin is expected to get in.

“He’s got charm and charisma. Twice elected mayor in a racially mixed city, he demonstrates broad appeal,” writes Laura Washington in this Sun-Times’ analysis piece.

Don’t be surprised if Irvin, who is Black, announces his entry in a symbolic way. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a week from today.

Gary Rabine, who’s already entered the GOP race for governor, has picked his lieutenant governor: Aaron Del Mar, a businessman and Palatine Township Republican committeeman.

Who won’t be gathering petitions (at least this time around): Todd Ricketts, the Cubs co-owner and former national GOP finance chairman. “Todd has no current plans to run for office but is certainly interested in the future of his community, his state and his country,” spokesman Brian Baker said.

Who’s still watching the process play out: Ken Griffin.

Have a tip, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? Get in touch: [email protected]

No official public events.

No official public events.

No official public events.

— Anxiety and pandemic fatigue are spiking amid latest Covid surge: “We thought we saw the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Hopwood, 29, of the Lincoln Park neighborhood, who has a master’s degree in public health. “Now we’re back to square one.” Tribune’s Angie Leventis Lourgos, Laura Rodriguez Presa and William Lee report.

— FROM THE TWITTER: Indiana Rabbi Mike Harvey, a resident chaplain at IU Health, tweeted a captivating thread about what it’s like in a hospital ICU handling Covid-19 cases: “Walking down the halls of the pods of the ICU: It’s cold, it’s dark, and it’s quiet. Why? Because these folks are all intubated, hooked up to massive amounts of equipment, machines breathing for them, and feeding them through tubes. Heavy blankets cover their bodies, or machines so big cover them and you can’t even see anything but their legs. Family isn’t around much. It’s dangerous to go into hospitals these days, COVID has spread to the staff, with over 1,000 staff members out statewide.”

— Rep. Sean Casten in isolation after testing positive for Covid-19: “Casten, 50, said he’s fully vaccinated and received a booster dose. He described his symptoms as ‘mild,’” by Sun-Times’ Madeline Kenney

— Archbishop of Chicago asks Catholics to get Covid-19 vaccine, by The Associated Press

— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky is endorsing Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering for the Illinois Supreme Court, 2nd District. “I am happy to join nearly 100 elected officials and leaders in Illinois’ legal community who have made an early endorsement of Nancy Rotering because we know she is the best candidate for Illinois Supreme Court Justice in the 2nd District. Nancy’s lifetime commitment to advocacy and justice and her broad range of legal experience make her the most qualified candidate in the race,” Schakowsky said in a statement.

— Karin Norington-Reaves jumps in Democratic primary to succeed Rep. Bobby Rush: A leader in workforce development, Norington-Reaves joins a 1st Congressional District Democratic primary field “likely to grow in the wake of Rush’s announcement he will not seek a 16th term,” Reports Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet

— Ald. Pat Dowell’s campaign reports that in the few days since she announced her bid for Congress, she’s raised $150,000.

— ENDORSEMENTS: State Rep. Kelly Cassidy and Chicago Council member Maria Hadden (49th) are endorsing Anna Valencia for secretary of state. The endorsements come after Ald. Pat Dowell’s exit from the race to run for Congress. Valencia is the only woman in the race.

— Analysis: Rodney Davis has advantage in primary vs. Mary Miller despite Trump’s support, observers say: The endorsement is “the one thing that might help her,” Christopher Mooney, a political science professor at the University of Illinois Chicago, said last week. “They both have to deal with a ton of new territory. … She doesn’t have the charm of Rodney Davis, or the experience.” State Journal-Register Dean Olsen reports.

— DCFS director held in contempt of court as kids languish in hospital, shelter for months: “In an ‘unprecedented’ move, the state child welfare agency could soon be fined up to $2,000 a day until Director Marc Smith complies with a judge’s orders to appropriately place two children into proper homes,” by Sun-Times’ Madeline Kenney.

— Legislation seeks to block secrecy with economic development deals: “State agencies and local governments in Illinois would be barred from entering into economic development deals where the terms cannot be revealed publicly because of nondisclosure provisions, under a bill that a state lawmaker filed this week,” by Route Fifty’s Bill Lucia.

— U.S. Supreme Court considers abortion restrictions: What it could mean for Illinois: “Jennifer Welch, President of Planned Parenthood of Illinois also predicts the state could likely become one of the few places in the Midwest to provide abortion services, something she sees as problematic for different reasons. ‘When it comes down to it, your access to healthcare shouldn’t come down to your zip code,’” by Margaret Rock for Center for Illinois Politics.

…White supremacist group Patriot Front crashes anti-abortion rally in the Loop, by Sun-Times’ Sophie Sherry

— Pending legislation would clarify ‘who’s on first’ at tollway: “A Senate bill is in the works that will clarify the role of the tollway chairman after questions about leadership at the $1.5 billion agency, Democratic state Sen. Laura Murphy of Des Plaines said,” by Daily Herald’s Marni Pyke.

— Barickman lifts the legislative curtain: “Even though this is an election year and big controversial issues are unlikely to reach passage in Springfield, there are opportunities to get things done in the state legislature. Bloomington-Normal Republican State Sen. Jason Barickman said those tend to be measures on smaller things affecting people in his district,” by WGLT’s Charlie Schlenker.

— For second year, fines and fees won’t be deducted from state income tax returns of low-income residents, by Tribune’s Jeremy Gorner

— Social workers’ field safety remains concern after killing, by The Associated Press

— TENSION IN THE MAP ROOM: Friday’s public hearing on Chicago’s ward map was abruptly canceled after some jockeying between Rules Committee Chair Ald. Michelle Harris and Latino Caucus Chair Ald. Gilbert Villegas. At issue: Putting into public record the two letters we told you about last week addressing how the remap should operate.

The Latino Caucus wants the letters added to the public record. But Harris dismissed the idea because it wasn’t on the agenda. Harris tried to steer the committee to hear a presentation from attorney Mike Kasper on the federal court decision addressing legislative maps, instead. Villegas pointed out that wasn’t on the agenda either. Meeting adjourned. (Here’s the letter from the Latino Caucus’ Coalition Map team, and here’s the response from Harris.)

… The hearing puts a spotlight on the racially polarized debate about the ward remap, writes WTTW’s Heather Cherone.

— As Chinatown unites in support of creating city’s first Asian-majority ward, fault lines emerge over crime and policing: “Residents and stakeholders vary on what they want from an alderman. Many of those differences revolve around attitudes toward law enforcement,” by Tribune’s Alice Yin.

— Is Chicago’s Black political power waning? “Perhaps the same forces that made us the home of the first Black president will someday make us the home of the first Latino president,” writes Edward McClelland.

— Madison County’s board sees new subcircuit courts as a ‘power grab’ by Democrats: “The proposal, introduced on the first day of the General Assembly’s 2022 session, appeared to take Republican lawmakers by surprise. They argued there had been little focus on creating additional subcircuits outside of Cook County during public hearings of the House and Senate Redistricting Committees in recent months,” by The Telegraph’s Scoott Cousins.

— Police Supt. David Brown moves most tactical officers to beat cars, leading to backlash: sources: “The move came after Mayor Lightfoot and her handpicked top cop said during a closed-door meeting last week that tactical officers would be reassigned to beat cars if they couldn’t generate more arrests. Now, sources warn that gutting tactical units could result in more violence,” by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba and Frank Main.

— Edelman PR pledges to drop clients that don’t meet new social, climate standards, by Ad Age’s Brian Bonilla

— Ousted over dirty schools complaints, CPS official was paid $29,000 to leave: “Clarence Carson was out less than a week after the Sun-Times revealed filthy conditions at a Southwest Side school and soon after getting a raise that saw his pay rise to $175,000,” by Sun-Times’ Lauren FitzPatrick and Nader Issa.

— Not so high times for Chicago’s oldest head shop as Adam’s Apple to close after 52 years, by Sun-Times’ Mark Brown

— Bears’ 31-17 loss to Vikings should be final blow for coach Matt Nagy, GM Ryan Pace, reports Sun-Times’ Jason Lieser

— A piece of the Hancock building fell off in ‘freak accident,’ terrifying neighbors: “No one was injured in the incident. Workers must now check that the cladding on the building, one of Chicago’s tallest, is safe,” by Block Club’s Mack Liederman.

Burke’s legal tab is $2.7M and growing as he awaits trial on federal corruption charges: “All the lawyering may be costing Burke a fortune, but it’s also helping delay what promises to be a high-profile public corruption case, even by Chicago standards,” by Tribune’s Bill Ruthhart and John Byrne.

Petition seeks to move captive coyote from Cook County forest preserve cage to animal sanctuary: “About 1,800 people signed a Change.org petition to move the coyote to a more natural habitat at an out-of-state animal sanctuary. The effort was led by animal lover Nicole Milan, who was disturbed to come across the caged coyote while on a hike late last year,” by Tribune’s Robert McCoppin.

— Top Kane County GOP official calls election precinct redraw ‘a farce’: “Kane County hasn’t adjusted its 291 precincts in nearly 20 years. That’s created 28 precincts that contain far more registered voters than the 1,200-voter cap target suggested by state legislation. Multiple precincts contain fewer than the 500 registered voters state law suggests is too small for a stand-alone precinct,” by Daily Herald’s James Fuller.

— HIRING: The Democratic Party of Illinois is hiring.

We asked what healthy thing you’re incorporating into your January: Playbooker Joe Desparrois is trying healthier recipes, and Daniel Goldwin of Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Chicago, is embarking on what’s now an annual tradition. He swears off food with added sugar and sweeteners for the month. Naturally occurring sugar is fine, but nothing added, he says. He allows one vice: a cup of coffee with one Splenda per day.

If not coffee, what morning drink helps charge your battery? Email to [email protected]

— Omicron is surging — and Democrats aren’t shutting things down this time, by POLITICO’s Lisa Kashinsky and Susannah Luthi

— Jan. 6 panel ramps up investigation into Trump’s state-level pressure, by POLITICO’s Nicholas Wu

— Fed chief was called on to save the economy. His next challenge will be even tougher, by POLITICO’s Victoria Guida

— J.W. Smith, one of Chicago’s great high school football coaches and an innovative CPS sports administrator, dies at 84: “J.W. Smith, who was one of the Public League’s most successful football coaches before introducing numerous innovations as its executive director of sports administration, died on Saturday,” by Sun-Times’ Mike Clark.

— ‘Dancin’ Man’ Perry Kanlan, who’d jump onstage at Chicago clubs to perform with stars, dead at 78: “He’d dance on his hands, do splits and flips with performers including James Brown, the Jackson 5, Martha Reeves, George Clinton and Sister Sledge,” by Sun-Times’ Maureen O’Donnell.

— Dr. David Soglin is now senior adviser at Conlon Public Strategies. Soglin is board certified in pediatric emergency medicine and previously served as the chief medical officer at La Rabida Children’s Hospital and the chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Cook County Health and Hospital Systems, where he also led the pediatrics residency program. “With health issues increasingly front and center in the work our clients do, we are thrilled to have Dr. Soglin’s medical expertise,” stated Conlon Public Strategies President Kevin Conlon.

FRIDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to journalist Andy Shaw for correctly answering that the late Rep. Bernard Prusinski devised a plan to change the design of the Kennedy Expressway so as to save St. Stanislaus Kostka church.

TODAY’s QUESTION: Who was the Chicago novelist who wrote about characters modeled after occupants of the rooming house where they lived? Email to [email protected]

Former state Sen. Dale Risinger, Organizing for Action’s Aaron Buchner, and teacher Neil Calderon.


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