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Lightfoot wants Solis held accountable

Happy Thursday, Illinois. Remember two years ago how we threw around phrases like the Defense Production Act and personal protective equipment with such authority?

Programming note: Illinois Playbook is taking off next week, April 18-22. We’ll be back on April 25.

Heads in the legal community turned this week when documents surfaced showing former Ald. Danny Solis wouldn’t have to plead guilty to the corruption he committed while serving the city. Without a guilty plea, he gets to keep his cushy pension.

Legal heads turned again yesterday when Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor, announced she’s instructed the city’s Law Department to file a victim impact statement with the court. “There can be no doubt that former Ald. Solis violated the public trust in profound ways, not the least of which was by monetizing his position as Zoning Committee chairman for the benefit of himself and others, likely for years,” she said in the statement.

The question now: Does the city have standing in the case to change the result?

“It’s an extraordinary resolution and likely unprecedented for the government to agree to a deferred prosecution for a corrupt, sitting public official” said King & Spalding partner Patrick Collins, a former assistant U.S. attorney. “Sweetheart deals are standard fare for cooperating defendants but free passes with pension preservation are not. The only explanation is that they deemed his cooperation beyond extraordinary and unprecedented.”

Collins notes that in any city corruption case, prosecutors argue at sentencing that the public official’s conduct victimized residents, though the city doesn’t officially intervene.

“It’s unprecedented, though we don’t know yet what [the city] is really trying to do in this case besides publicly protesting the deal,” he said.

Cynics say Lightfoot, who rode into office in 2019 vowing to fight corruption, may just be trying to grab onto the same theme for 2023.

Even though it’s unusual for a third party to intervene in a criminal case or for the city to claim it was victimized, there is some precedent.

In 2005, James Duff, a political insider and Irish pal of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, pleaded guilty to winning more than $100 million in city contracts that were supposed to go to minorities and women.

A federal judge sentenced him to 10 years in prison and fined him $22 million, including $11 million that was to be paid to the city for taking the minority and female enterprise contracts.

The Solis case is a little different because he’s getting off scot-free — no guilty plea. That makes it harder for the city to claim it’s a tangible victim.

As icky as it is that Solis could walk free with his pension in hand, Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) says that’s how the system works.

“Often, people with distasteful backgrounds cooperate with law enforcement in order to catch the bigger players,” Smith, another former federal prosecutor, told the Sun-Times. In this case those bigger players are Ald. Edward Burke and former House Speaker Michael Madigan, both charged with various forms of corruption.

“That is just reality,” Smith said, “because criminals don’t tend to say what they’re doing to angels.”

U.S. District Judge Andrea Wood agreed to give city attorneys a week to “appear and make a filing” regarding the victim impact statement. A status hearing is set for April 21.

Posted this morning | Lightfoot playing defense as she gears up for tough reelection campaign: “The situation is rare for an incumbent mayor. Richard M. Daley — the longest-serving mayor in city history — had his problems but ‘rarely had tough competition come election time. His successor, Rahm Emanuel, faced steeper challenges than Daley but overcame them with massive fundraising.

‘She has the position, she doesn’t have the power,’ said veteran Chicago political strategist Delmarie Cobb, who isn’t currently advising any mayoral campaigns. ‘You may be the mayor but you don’t have the power that a Daley had or a Rahm Emanuel had and that’s because they came in with that kind of power. They didn’t have to gain it, they actually had it when they walked in the door. She needed to achieve it and create the illusion of inevitability or being invulnerable.’” Tribune’s Gregory Pratt reports

No official public events.

No official public events.

At the South Holland Community Center at 9 a.m. to greet participants and employers at OAI’s South Holland Hiring Event… At 6 p.m. she’ll be in Addison for the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago and the Chicago Muslim Medical Alliance for an “Evening of Solidarity” honoring Chicago’s Muslim doctors.

Biden taps Judge John Z. Lee, attorney Nancy Maldonado for federal judgeships in Chicago: “If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Lee would be the first Asian American to serve on the [7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals], which is one of the country’s largest appellate circuits and recently served as an important steppingstone for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

Biden also has nominated Nancy L. Maldonado, a partner in the Chicago law firm Miner, Barnhill & Galland P.C., to serve as U.S. District Court judge for the Northern District of Illinois. If confirmed, Maldonado would be the first Hispanic woman to ever serve as a federal district judge in the state of Illinois, according to the White House,” by Tribune’s Jason Meisner.

— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Watch for Rep. Chuy Garcia to endorse Jonathtan Jackson, in the 1st Congressional race. Jackson is the national spokesperson for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and a co-owner of a beer distributorship. And he’s the second son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson. The younger Jackson is one of 20 candidates vying for the seat that Rep. Bobby Rush is leaving at the end of this term. We examined the race earlier this week.

— Also in the 1-D race: Karin Norington-Reaves raised $290,000 in the first quarter of the year and has $237,000 cash on hand in her bid for the open seat in the 1st Congressional District. Norington-Reaves has been endorsed by Rep. Bobby Rush who has held the seat for some 30 years, but 19 others also are vying for the seat.

— Pritzker campaign ad stuns the Save Bell Bowl Prairie advocates in its support for Rockford Airport: “What I got out of the commercial is (Pritzker’s) only listening to the airport,” said Robb Telfer, of Friends of Illinois Nature Preserves. WTTW’s Patty Wetli reports.

— Democratic Rep. Bill Foster (11th) reports his re-election campaign for Congress raised more than $620,000 in the first quarter of 2022. Foster has $4.59 million cash on hand.

— ACTION IN THE 6TH: Democratic Congresswoman Marie Newman has won endorsements from DuPage County Board Member Sheila Rutledge, MWRD Commissioner Eira Corral Sepúlveda, and DuPage County Recorder Kathleen Carrier. Newman is in a Democratic primary contest for the newly shaped 6th Congressional District… Democratic Congressman Sean Casten has been endorsed by the pro-environment NRDC Action Fund in his bid for the 6th District seat… And Keith Pekau, the mayor of Orland Park and a Republican candidate for the 6th District seat, is out with a campaign video and digital ad that take Reps. Marie Newman, Sean Casten, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx to task for “extreme far-left agendas.”

— Former U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson endorses Regan Deering for Congress: “Johnson said that Deering’s “work locally has given her an up-close and personal look at the issues facing our communities today,’” by Lee Enterprises’ Brenden Moore.

— With Covid cases rising, Pritzker still searching for public health chief to succeed Ezike, a ‘hero during this pandemic’: “Asked whether the state would consider another indoor mask mandate, as other U.S. cities respond to rising cases, Pritzker said, ‘I think that towns, cities across Illinois, not to mention across the country, should do what they feel is necessary in their communities to keep people safe,’” by Sun-Times’ Tina Sfondeles.

— 408 bills: A recap of lawmakers’ moves on crime, spending and more:  “It’s less than the 696 bills that passed last year, but less legislating is to be expected in an election year session, let alone one cut short by seven-and-a-half weeks. Most importantly, lawmakers sent Pritzker a budget that appears to be balanced. Yes, you read that right,” by Lee Enterprises’ Brenden Moore.

— BARGAINING CHIPS: A group of Illinois legislators and Illinois Manufacturers’ Association have been invited by the White House to attend a virtual Midwest Roundtable today to discuss the semiconductor shortage and how investments in the federal Innovation Act could spur U.S. manufacturing and strengthen supply chains. Sen. Suzy Glowiak-Hilton and Rep. Mike Halpin, both Dems, and Republican Rep. Tim Butler sponsored the MICRO Act this past legislative session. The measure passed on bipartisan support and was championed by the IMA. The goal is to rev up microchip production in Illinois.

— Democrats pass campaign finance bill targeting Republican megadonors, by Madison-St. Clair Record’s Steve Korris

— School District 186 could violate Open Meetings Act, by WTAX’s Dave Dahl

— Indicted Ald. Carrie Austin’s decision to share tax credits helps deliver senior housing project named after late Ald. JoAnn Thompson: “At a grand opening Wednesday for the $26.6M Montclare Senior Residences of Englewood, developer Philip Mappa of M.R. Properties aired the untold story of how Austin’s selflessness helped salvage the project,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman

— CTA and police increased security to combat a spike in transit crime. Will it work? “New attacks come as CTA is grappling with spikes in violent crime and complaints that more riders are breaking rules that prohibit smoking, drinking and other nuisance behavior on trains and buses,” by Tribune’s Sarah Freishtat and Joe Mahr

— Newly appointed IG vows to make down payment on ‘debt of legitimacy’ created by corruption scandals: “People suffer from a sort of lack of confidence that the city of Chicago and its government are working in their best interests,” Deborah Witzburg said. Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman reports

— Applications for lottery to determine who will get $500 per month for 12 months to open April 25, by WTTW’s Heather Cherone

— Hundreds in Chicago Police Department still not vaccinated, despite Wednesday’s deadline to receive the shots, by Tribune’s Alice Yin and Paige Fry

— Building where fatal porch collapse happened ‘in serious trouble,’ mayor says, by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman

— New head of Chicago’s tourism bureau aims to rebound industry after pandemic decline, by Paris Schutz and Evan Garcia

— Chicago remains a ‘city of skyscrapers,’ but two early examples may be nearing a date with the wrecking ball, by Tribune’s Ron Grossman

— OFFICE MAX: While some downtown offices consider paring back on space post-pandemic, Willkie Farr & Gallagher is doubling its Chicago office square-footage at 300 North LaSalle Dr. The law firm is adding a second 25,000 square feet floor, in part to accommodate a mock courtroom. It helps lawyers prepare for upcoming matters” and is an “outstanding training ground for our younger attorneys,” Craig C. Martin, the firm’s Midwest chair, said in a release.

— Kim Foxx: I won’t ‘cut corners’ — despite crime spike — in county with long history of wrongful convictions: “The Cook County state’s attorney told the Sun-Times Wednesday her office is taking a harder look at cases than under her predecessors,” by Sun-Times’ Andy Grimm

— 20 years after Wheeling’s Kmart closed, site is still undeveloped: “People do come to town and they look (and ask), ‘Will this fit our needs?'” Village President Pat Horcher said. “We haven’t been able to put (it) together.” Daily Herald’s Russell Lissau reports

We asked what book title you’d give to the Danny Solis case: U. of C. political science professor John Mark Hansen: “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”… Attorney Brent Pruim: “Solis-iting Bribes: Business as Usual in the Windy City.”… former Assistant Legislative Inspector General Kathy Posner: “For Whom the Mole Tolls.”… Chicago Department of Law Assistant Corporation Counsel Kalpana “Kali” Plomin: “An Unhappy Ending.”… attorney Warren E. Silver: “I Know Why the Wired Alderman Sings.”… U. of I. J.D. candidate Jake A. Leahy: “Don’t Make No Waves, Don’t Land No Tuna.”… Playbooker John Straus: “Catching the Big Tuna and Other Fishing Tips.”

What subject did you pick up as a result of the pandemic? Email [email protected]

Interactive map from ProPublica: Billionaire Ken Griffin is among the wealthiest people in the country, in case you didn’t know.

— 4/20, the ‘high’ holiday, offers dank deals and pot-friendly parties for Chicagoans: “The annual celebration of all things weed, a longstanding countercultural tradition, has now become the biggest day for legal sales,” by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba

— Craft cannabis growing facility gets green light from Rolling Meadows council, by Daily Herald’s Christopher Placek

Krishnamoorthi tackles a new Washington NFL controversy: “In a letter he released yesterday with the chair of his subcommittee’s parent Committee on Oversight and Reform, Krishnamoorthi charged that the Washington Commanders, formerly the Washington Redskins, “may have engaged in a troubling, long-running and potentially unlawful pattern” of misconduct,” by Crain’s Greg Hinz

— Biden enters the keep calm and carry on phase of the Covid fight, by POLITICO’s Adam Cancryn

— Trumpworld scrambles to contain Oz endorsement fallout, by POLITICO’s Meredith McGraw and Holly Otterbein

— NASA’s astronauts aren’t ready for deep space, by POLITICO’s Bryan Bender

— Monday at 7 p.m.: State Rep. Mark Walker and state Sen. Ann Gillespie, both Democratas from Arlington Heights, headline a town hall discussion about the just-ended legislative session. Location: Arlington Heights Memorial Library at 500 N. Dunton Ave.

— Tuesday at 6 p.m.: Turning Points USA founder Charlie Kirk headlines the Sangamon County Republicans’ Lincoln Day Dinner in Springfield.

WEDNESDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to political consultant Delmarie Cobb for correctly identifying the Robert Roloson Houses built by Frank Lloyd Wright on the 3200 block of Calumet Avenue.

And h/t to Chicago Ald. Sophia King (4th), who notes: “Folks are often surprised that FLW designed these. Wright loved the 4th ward!”

TODAY’s QUESTION: Who was the state representative-turned-congressman whose initial election to the Illinois House was overturned by a House committee? Email [email protected]

THIS DAY IN HISTORY: On this day in 1865, Abraham Lincoln was shot in the head by John Wilkes Booth. The president would die the next day.

State Sen. Neil Anderson, Ald. Harry Osterman, civic engagement activist Anita Banerji, U.S. Trade Rep spokesman Adam Hodge (who turns the big 4-0), public affairs strategist Laura Keehner Rigas, and the voice of Oak Street Maureen Lampert.


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