Good Wednesday morning, Illinois. It’s 36 degrees, get out the swimsuits! (That joke never gets old.)
The irony wasn’t lost on anyone when Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced yesterday that she had contracted Covid-19.
Just 17 hours after coming out of battle with the Chicago Teachers Union over whether students should be taught remotely during a pandemic, the mayor said she would be working from home.
“I am experiencing cold-like symptoms but otherwise feel fine which I credit to being vaccinated and boosted,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “I will continue to work from home while following the CDC guidelines for isolation. This is an urgent reminder for folks to get vaccinated and boosted as it’s the only way to beat this pandemic.”
The Twitter lit up with criticism, and some humor. “This really looks like an illegal work stoppage,” one user posted.
Lightfoot wears a mask in public but takes it off when speaking at a microphone to reporters. She was tested Tuesday morning, and it came back positive.
She joins a handful of other Illinois elected officials who are holed up at home because of Covid.
Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder has tested positive for Covid-19 and is working from home while trying to manage a runny nose, reports State Journal-Register’s Steven Spearie.
Chicago Ald. Emma Mitts was visibly fatigued during a virtual City Council hearing Tuesday before saying she was recovering from the disease. Congressman Sean Casten announced earlier this week that he contracted Covid. Gov. JB Pritzker is working from home this week, too, because he came in contact with someone who has the disease. And Illinois Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton and Congressman Bobby Rush recently recovered from Covid.
Good wishes were tweeted out to the mayor by Pritzker and Stratton.
What a week.
CPS teachers frustrated by deal to reopen classrooms, but union leaders urge passage: “Teachers are voting through Wednesday afternoon on an agreement that would stiffen COVID safety measures at schools,” by Sun-Times’ Nader Issa.
Some teachers felt the action was rushed and poorly planned, report Tribune’s Tracy Swartz and Gregory Pratt
Three Chicago Public Schools opened for classes Monday, including, Mount Greenwood Elementary, by Tribune’s Darcel Rockett
When House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch took the gavel a year ago this week, a big question was whether he could fundraise as well as his predecessor, Michael Madigan, the legendary master of the cash game.
Looks like Welch is on the right path. His personal campaign has about $12 million in the bank to help get Democrats elected, he told WTAX’s Dave Dahl in an interview. That’s more than $7 million in Welch’s personal account and $4 million-plus in the caucus fund. With that funding on hand, Welch said “members are ready to knock on doors and to talk to constituents.”
Welch has been sitting down with reporters to talk about his first year in the speaker’s chair. Along with talking about fundraising, Welch said the job is time intensive,” that he likes social media, and that he thinks of himself as a team captain, not a boss. And asked to pick the actor to play him in a movie, Welch said Denzel Washington — no lack of great motivational speeches/quotes to pull from there. (Dahl knows how to have fun with the interview questions.)
VIDEO: Welch talked about the significance of his election to speaker, saying “it makes a difference to Black boys and girls across the state and it’s important to seize the moment as there’s been a call for diversity, equity and inclusion” across the state, he told Amanda Vinicky on “Chicago Tonight.”
Welch also revealed that Republican House members (likely out of the eye of leadership) have made visits to his office in the past year having never seen it before.
“The office of the speaker has been open more than it ever has, I believe, in the last 36 to 40 years,” Welch told Capitol News’ Peter Hancock. “Many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle came into the office of the speaker and said they had never been in there before. They came in to meet with me about ideas they were proposing last year in the Legislature, ideas that got out of Rules (Committee), got out of the House, got out of the Senate, and hit the governor’s desk and became law. Many of those rank-and-file Republicans were able to go home and talk about victories that we actually had in the General Assembly. I think they’ll tell you that that’s a new thing for them.”
On policy: Welch vowed to pass an anti-crime package in the upcoming legislative session, reports WBEZ’s Dave McKinney.
And Welch addressed Department of Children and Family Services issues, saying the state’s child-welfare caseworkers need to be treated like frontline emergency responders after an agency investigator was killed last week during a home visit, he told AP’s John O’Connor.
Welch also looked at 2022, saying he’s “well aware” of the challenges Democrats face in the midterms. “We know that we have to do the work. Winners do the work,” he told Lee Enterprises Brendon Moore.
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At the Thompson Center at 1:30 p.m. for an update on the Covid-19 surge.
No official public events.
No official public events.
— Chicago’s Covid-19 surge ‘flattening?’ City’s top doc sees signs of ‘potential relief’ — but warns Omicron wave is ‘extremely not over’: “Nearly 4,800 Chicagoans are still testing positive each day on average — about double any previous case surge the city has seen — but that rate is down about 8% from last week, according to city data,” by Sun-Times’ Mitchell Armentrout.
— Illinois reduces quarantine time for schools from 10 to 5 days to align with CDC guidance amid Covid-19 surge, by Tribune’s Karen Ann Cullotta
— Republican Demmer launches challenge to Democratic state Treasurer Frerichs — and Springfield: “Calling himself a “proven fiscal watchdog,” the Republican state legislator slammed his Democratic opponent as a member of the “tax-and-spend Springfield crowd” and part of the “Springfield machine.” “Let’s speak plainly. Springfield is broken,” Demmer says in his campaign video,” by Sun-Times’ Taylor Avery.
— Giannoulias gets endorsement in SOS bid from a former rival, Ald. Pat Dowell: “Asked why she endorsed Giannoulias, considering her previous criticism of his candidacy, Dowell replied in a text message, “Bottom line, I am a Democrat, a member of the Executive Committee of the [Cook County Democratic Party] and I believe that we close ranks around our slated candidate.” Tribune’s Jeremy Gorner reports
— State Rep. Tom Morrison won’t seek reelection: “Morrison, a Republican who’s represented the 54th District since 2011, said, ‘It’s time for me to take a pause,’” by Daily Herald’s Russell Lissau.
— Delia Ramirez has been endorsed by United Working Families and the national Working Families Party in her run for the newly created 3rd Congressional District. Ramirez, an assistant majority leader in the Illinois House, is an advocate on immigrant and housing justice issues. “Delia is exactly the kind of courageous, principled fighter we need in Washington,” said UWF Executive Director Emma Tai, noting that Ramirez has refused campaign contributions from real estate developers and “school privatizers.”
— Litesa Wallace, a Democratic candidate for Congress in the 17th District, has been endorsed by state Rep. Kam Buckner, who chairs the Illinois House Legislative Black Caucus, state Rep. Ann Williams, state Rep. Kathleen Willis, Rock Island County Board member Lauren Loftin, Peoria County Auditor Jessica Thomas.
— Judge Elizabeth Rochford has raised $237,000 in her bid for a seat on the Illinois Supreme Court, according to her campaign. Rochford is a circuit court judge and previously served as an assistant state’s attorney and commissioner of the Illinois Court of Claims. Her campaign team includes veteran campaign manager Nick Meyer, pollsters Brian Stryker and Oren Savir of ALG Research, Becky Carroll and Lara Sisselman of C-Strategies, fundraisers Liz Nicholson and Laurie Dimakos of Nicholson & Associates, Maura Dougherty and BJ Neidhardt of Prism Communications, Gillian Rosenberg Armour and Hugo Jacobo of Wildfire Contact, Wrecking Ball Strategies’ Marty Doherty, and consultant Thom Karmik.
— Mike Koolidge, a conservative radio show host, has raised more than $100,000 in his campaign for the 14th Congressional District seat now held by Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood, according to his campaign.
— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Jaylin D. McClinton, a candidate for Cook County commissioner, has secured endorsements from Illinois House Black Caucus Chair Kam Buckner, MWRD Commissioner Cam Davis, and 34th Ward Committeeperson Preston Brown. McClinton is running for the 5th District seat now held by Deborah Sims, who is retiring. “We need new, energetic, young leaders like Jaylin to pick up the mantle to deliver for communities on the South Side and across the Southland,” Buckner said in a release. Before heading to law school, McClinton was a community organizer for the Obama Foundation.
— Suburban politicians hope to be at the top of the ticket on statewide ballot: “Suburban Republicans are taking starring roles in what’s shaping up to be a bruising and boisterous primary election for a standard-bearer to challenge Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker,” writes Daily Herald’s Marni Pyke.
State sees record month for sports wager taxes: “Sportsbooks in the state won nearly $80 million in November, Illinois’ most lucrative month since sports betting launched, even as wagering fell short of another record, according to PlayIllinois which tracks the state’s regulated online gaming and sports betting market,” by The Telegraph’s Ron DeBrock.
— How Lightfoot squares with words as a candidate, and today: “As she enters the final calendar year of her term, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is no longer a fresh face swept into office as a champion of long-overdue reform. She’s now a familiar figure whose positions on major issues don’t always match her campaign promises of 2019. Of course, a pandemic nobody expected has dominated Lightfoot’s tenure,” by Crain’s A.D. Quig.
— Top cop says Covid-19 surge prompted decision to bump tactical officers down to patrol, sources say: “But three police supervisors cast doubt on Supt. David Brown’s reason for the move, which they say has hurt morale in the department,” by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba
… FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Ald. Marty Quinn is calling on Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown to reverse his decision on reassigning tactical officers: “I fear this decision could lead to the loss of critical police support across the city and a potential spike in violent crime,” Quinn said in a letter to Brown and obtained by Playbook.
— Ken Griffin’s Citadel Securities gets a $1.15B infusion: “Sequoia Capital and Paradigm get minority stakes in the market maker in a deal that could push the Chicago billionaire toward cryptocurrency investments,” by Sun-Times’ David Roeder.
— TikTok historian Shermann ‘Dilla’ Thomas working on Chicago-based TV series with Netflix: “Dilla’s short history videos about the city have exploded in popularity. Now, he wants the rest of the world to see Chicago the way he does through a new TV show,” by Block Club’s Aatavia Reed.
— Comic Lisa Beasley turns her viral TikTok imitation of Lightfoot into a show for teachers at Laugh Factory, by Tribune’s Lauren Warnecke
— Oak Lawn school board prepares to take action against board member who sued Pritzker: “I am deeply saddened that our board president has decided to side with Governor Pritzker,” Cruz said in a statement. Patch’s Lorraine Swanson reports.
— Haymarket drug treatment center files lawsuit against Itasca, claiming rejection of rehab facility was discriminatory, by Tribune’s John Keilman
— Caged coyote should be moved to animal sanctuary, veterinarians urge Cook County Forest Preserve officials, by Tribune’s Robert McCoppin
We asked when you sucked it up and stood by your adversary, and heard a few tales of bipartisanship: Last year, Andrew Proctor was a Springfield alderman trying to get the Enos Park TIF District extended. To get it done, he worked with Capitol Township Trustee Lakeisha Purchase—who had been his opponent in the 2019 election. They accomplished the extension and Purchase went on to be appointed as a successor to Proctor, who’s now working as a lobbyist. “We finally got it down and it was good working with her,” Proctor told Playbook.
Greg Hart, a Republican DuPage County Board chair candidate, shared this: “In my 2018 race for county commissioner, I stood with my then opponent to oppose Sterigenics’ ethylene oxide emissions in Willowbrook. Even though it was a contested campaign, we put politics aside and came together on that issue in bipartisan fashion to do what was right for the community.”
What activity gets you through the challenges of a Midwestern winter? Email to [email protected]
THE FIFTY: Your Playbook host zoomed with Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Quinton Lucas for a Q&A about leading during a pandemic, the era of George Floyd, and the five recall efforts he’s faced. He just introduced an ordinance reinstating masks in schools, and shook his head at the challenges faced by Chicago’s mayor. “God bless Mayor Lightfoot. That has to be the hardest-to-govern city in America. But mine certainly presents its share of challenges a little bit differently.”
— Biden confronts a skeptical base as he pushes voting rights in Georgia, by POLITICO’s Laura Barrón-López and Maya King
— What’s in a name? Trio of Johns vies to succeed McConnell, by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett
— Senate passes bill to honor Emmett Till and his mother, by The Associated Press
Block Club has been awarded a $1.6M grant to expand: “In conjunction with the American Journalism Project grant, the Chicago Community Trust pledged an additional $450,000 in matching funds to Block Club over three years,” via Block Club.
— Former state Rep. Chris Nybo joins North Riverside as its lobbyist. He replaces GR Consulting, which served as the village’s lobbying firm in 2021, by Landmark’s Bob Uphues
— Bill Ruthhart is joining The New York Times as writing coach and editor for its newsroom fellowship and early-career programs. Ruthhart is a veteran political reporter for the Chicago Tribune and a familiar name in Playbook. We’ll miss the byline.
TUESDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to lobbyist and former County Commissioner John Fritchey for correctly answering that Belmont Harbor, Burnham Park at 37th Street and Jackson Park, all along Chicago’s lakefront, once hosted Nike nuclear missile launch sites.
TODAY’s QUESTION: Which state senator convicted for bribery also published a book of poetry and philosophy? Email [email protected]
Cook County Commissioner Peter Silvestri, noted philanthropist and businessman Neil Bluhm, and International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150 Spokesman Ed Maher.