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Storylines collide during Biden’s Illinois visit

TGIF, Illinois. It’s the 150th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, and the Chicago History Museum has an exhibit that brings it to life. We also survived another presidential visit, just in time to watch the White Sox lose. Today’s another day.

Programming note: We’re off Monday in observance of Indigenous People’s Day. To my Italian friends, please get over it, h/t John Oliver.

President Joe Biden and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot talk at O’Hare International Airport upon his arrival Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. | AP Photo/Susan Walsh

There was a hiccup in President Joe Biden’s visit to Elk Grove Village yesterday to promote vaccination mandates in the workplace — Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot didn’t stay to hear his speech.

There was talk she might have left in a huff — Lightfoot had already voiced her displeasure to Biden about how she was being included in the day’s events, reports POLITICO’s Tina Sfondeles — but it seems the real reason was more of a home brew: The mayor departed to make a sit down with Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.

Both offices confirmed the meeting, which was prompted after Lightfoot and Foxx lobbed criticisms at each other earlier in the week about how violence has been handled in Chicago.

Though the mayor skipped out, the president didn’t miss a beat when he took the podium, driving home his message that mandating vaccinations and Covid testing at work is good for business.

Biden’s remarks focused in particular on United Airlines and Clayco Corp. for mandating that employees get vaccinated. Clayco is the construction company building a Microsoft data center at the Elk Grove site where Biden spoke.

President Joe Biden tours a Clayco Corp. construction site for a Microsoft data center in Elk Grove Village Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, with Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Anuraj Jhajj.

President Joe Biden tours a Clayco Corp. construction site for a Microsoft data center in Elk Grove Village Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, with Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Anuraj Jhajj. | AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Biden made sure to give shout-outs to all the Democratic congressional members who showed up for his visit, and he gave hat tips to Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Lightfoot for their efforts to wrestle the pandemic.

“You’ve done more than about anybody I can think of in any state… You’ve stepped up,” Biden said to Pritzker. “You’ve always done what you said you’re going to do, and you’ve been relentless in getting people vaccinated. In the Midwest, you’re leading. You’re leading. And it’s real. It’s not hyperbole.”

Then Biden said, “Mayor Lightfoot, the same thing… And Elk Grove Mayor [Craig] Johnson, you’ve done a hell of a job as well.”

It’s another example of why the president and other administration officials have paraded through Illinois in recent weeks. Illinois is doing on a smaller scale and without drama (for the most part) what Biden hopes his administration can accomplish.

Biden’s message Thursday hit home with Chicagoland Chamber CEO Jack Lavin, who was in the audience for the president’s remarks.

“Businesses are in a unique position to help people to get vaccinated because employees trust their employers,” Lavin told Playbook. “I think business leaders want employees to be vaccinated. They want people to get back to work. They can talk from a position that’s not political. It’s about getting the economy moving forward. When you take away the heated debate and divisiveness, I think that works.”

SPOTTED

Penny Pritker, who was secretary of commerce in the Obama administration, and Bill Brodsky and his wife, Joan. Brodsky is the former chairman of the Chicago Board Options Exchange and a friend of Biden’s going back to their days attending Syracuse Law School.

RELATED

— Biden boosts business vaccine requirements — and pokes at Fox News: “In a suburban Chicago speech pushing businesses to mandate Covid vaccines or weekly tests, Biden said, in a stage whisper, ‘Fox News requires vaccinations for all employees. Give me a break. Fox News,’” by Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet.

— Two more unions agree to mandatory vaccines for 1,300 state workers, via KHQA staff

— Rev. Jesse Jackson offers to broker peace between Foxx, Lightfoot: “They’re talking past each other… let’s talk it out in private and not in public,,” Jackson said Thursday. Sun-Times’ Mitch Dudek.

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

A message from the Better Government Association:

The Madigan Rule Premieres October 6

“The Madigan Rule” is a BGA podcast that takes listeners inside the story of how House Speaker Mike Madigan ran Illinois–for good and ill.

Hosted by Justin Kaufmann, you’ll hear from people who witnessed Madigan’s exercise of power: governors, lawmakers, journalists and politicos. They feared him, revered him and had no choice but to reckon with his rules.

It’s the Madigan Rule: a podcast about Illinois’ most powerful politician.

No official public events.

At the Chicago History Museum at 5 p.m. to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which is featured in a new exhibition by lead curator Julius L. Jones. She will also participate in the ribbon cutting of the Jaffee History Trail that surrounds the museum.

No official public events.

— ANALYSIS: Surpassing 25,000 dead in state from Covid-19: How pandemic evolved from north to downstate: “Deaths were originally clustered in Chicago’s more Black and Latino neighborhoods, but then spread beyond the Chicago area, to the point the virus has killed a greater proportionate share of residents in rural southern Illinois than dense Chicago,” report Tribune’s Joe Mahr and Angie Leventis Lourgos.

— POLITICO-Harvard poll: Most Americans support vaccine mandates for schoolkids: “Support for vaccine mandates was divided along partisan, racial and ethnic lines,” by POLITICO’s Adriel Bettelheim.

In first congressional redistricting hearing in Chicago, only one person testifies: “Ryan Tolley, policy director for the advocacy group CHANGE Illinois, urged the Illinois House Redistricting Committee to listen to community groups and afford them more opportunity than they had during the legislative redistricting process to review any proposed new maps before they are voted on,” by Capitol News’ Peter Hancock.

— GAME ONE: Lynn, Sox off the mark in opener at Houston, by Chicago Tribune’s Lamond Pope.

— New CPS CEO Pedro Martinez on how he plans to help students recover: “Coming to Chicago, my immediate work is still driven by safety concerns. For me, it’s very clear: The schools are safe. But there’s still some anxiety to reduce. So that is my priority right now. What I want to pivot to is really understanding the plans schools have around recovery. The good news is, when I look at our attendance, it is actually at a reasonably high level,” he tells Chalkbeat’s Mila Koumpilova.

— Park District has hired high-priced consultants to deal with its lifeguard abuse scandal: “Amid fallout from sex abuse allegations, park district officials will pay $425 an hour to a former prosecutor for help with reforms,” Dan Mihalopoulos.

— Senior tenants at low-income buildings push for safer building conditions: “Residents of River North’s Evergreen Towers I and II call on management to restore safety measures that they said were scaled back during the coronavirus pandemic,” by Sun-Times’ Sneha Dey.

— Chicago has only 50,000 ash trees left. Should we spend millions to keep them alive? “The years-long issue of whether to treat the trees or let them die to make way for new ones took center stage at a budget hearing this week for the Department of Streets and Sanitation, which oversees the city’s tree population,” by WBEZ’s Mariah Woelfel.

— 300 Chicagoans ask city for permission to build coach houses, granny flats, reports WTTW’s Heather Cherone

— Chicago Marathon 2021: Route map and tips for spectators and participants — and how to drive downtown (or avoid it) on race day, by Tribune’s Kori Rumore

— Al Capone auction today: Almost 1,000 sign up to bid on items belonging to legendary gangster and family, by Tribune’s Kori Rumore

A message from the Better Government Association:

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— Kaegi is giving tax breaks to vets on pricey homes even though they don’t qualify: “Cook County assessor says he follows the policy on disabled vets property tax exemption of his predecessor. He’s wrong. So some get big tax breaks despite being ineligible,” by Sun-Times’ Lauren FitzPatrick, Tim Novak, and Caroline Hurley.

— HEAD-TURNER: Indicted Crestwood Mayor Lou Presta reverses plans to quit after talks with allies, doctors: ‘They told me to hold on’: “The surprise reversal came after several residents harangued the three-term mayor for a published report that the village would create a new $65,000 salaried position of ‘economic development director’ just for him. ‘Whoever heard of a person being indicted — soon to be convicted — and then handed a $65,000 job?’ one political rival said,” by Sun-Times’ Mitchell Armentrout.

— Cook County’s 2022 budget would balloon to $8B, but without new taxes or fees, Preckwinkle says: “The $8.04 billion spending recommendation — over $1 billion more than Preckwinkle’s final budget for 2021 — would not include any new taxes, fines, fees or layoffs, she said in a Thursday speech. In fact, the county’s workforce would grow 7 percent from 2020 levels to just over 23,000 positions — a level not seen since the earlier years of Preckwinkle’s time as county board president,” by Tribune’s Alice Yin.

— Security detail opened fire at carjacker outside Preckwinkle’s home, but details remain sketchy: “Neither County Board President Toni Preckwinkle nor other officials would say if anyone was hit by the gunfire outside her Hyde Park home,” by Sun-Times’ Andy Grimm.

— Evanston Public Library apologizes for using ‘thin blue line’ image to promote program on police reform, by Pioneer Press’ Joshua Irvine

— Indiana Dunes beaches closed again due to unidentified ‘sheen’ on water leaking from U.S. Steel, reports WTTW’s Patty Wetli

— On whether she’d run for mayor of Chicago again, Toni Preckwinkle says the 2019 race “was a miserable experience for me and an excruciating one for my children. No thank you,” reports Crain’s Greg Hinz in a tweet. Preckwinkle has already announced she’s seeking re-election on the Cook County Board.

— A familiar name is considering a run for DuPage County board: “Elmhurst’s Dan Cronin, chairman of the DuPage County Board since 2010, is not running again. [But] his sister, Cindy Cronin Cahill, announced she was considering running for District 1 on the County Board in the 2022 election. The lifelong Elmhurst resident is the former treasurer at City Hall. Like her brother, she is a Republican,” by Patch’s David Giuliani.

— Nikki Budzinski has secured the endorsement of the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers union in her run for the 13th Congressional District primary.

— Cook County carjackings on pace to be the worst in 2 decades: Camry is No. 1, most victims are men, Sunday’s the worst day: “The numbers, bad last year, are more than 43% worse this year. Sheriff Tom Dart’s office has created a database to make sense of why. Some of the findings are surprising,” by Sun-Times’ Frank Main.

— Four ex-NBA players from Chicago area among those charged in NY with $4M scheme to defraud players’ health care fund: “The 32-page indictment unsealed in New York charges 19 defendants, including 18 former NBA players, with defrauding the NBA’s Health and Welfare Benefit Plan, which is funded largely by the league’s 30 teams, out of approximately $4 million,” by Tribune’s Jason Meisner.

— Jurors find ex-Northwestern professor guilty of murdering boyfriend: “Jurors heard about a week and a half of testimony, during which prosecutors described [Wyndham] Lathem as a coldblooded murderer animated by despair who stabbed defenseless 26-year-old Trenton Cornell,” by Tribune’s Megan Crepeau.

We asked if you’ve ever missed a concert or game because you were scammed into buying a ticket.

Plante Moran’s Brendan Hogan shared an epic story: “When I was in 5th grade, my family went to New York City for the first time. The only thing I wanted to do was see the Knicks play at Madison Square Garden. Tickets were not cheap… The ticket counter line was wrapped around the block and we were 15 minutes until tip-off. My dad found a scalper and bought tickets for $75 each. After winding through the MSG tunnels, we got our tickets scanned. No beep. Fake tickets. My dad is usually stoic. This was the first time I saw him lose his temper in the direction of a stranger. He sprinted out of the stadium looking for the con. No such luck. We spent the evening at ESPN Zone while my mom and sisters enjoyed prepaid tickets to see ‘Legally Blonde’ on Broadway.”

We’re looking for a new name to this feature section. Send in your ideas and we’ll do the big reveal next week. Email to [email protected]

— The debt drama that masked a brutal power struggle: Schumer vs. McConnell, by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett

— Senate advances short-term debt limit hike after GOP scramble, by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett, Caitlin Emma and Nicholas Wu

— Democrats likely to throw billions in tax hikes overboard as spending plans shrink, by POLITICO’s Brian Faler

THURSDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to Daniel Comeaux, a transportation policy analyst at Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, for correctly answering that famed architect Louis Sullivan was referring to the Tribune Building when he said, “It is crowned with a monstrous spider.”

TODAY’s QUESTION: In the days after the Great Chicago Fire (150 years ago today!), offers of aid poured in from around the world. What did the Queen of England offer Chicago and where can you find it? Email to [email protected]

A message from the Better Government Association:

The Madigan Rule Premieres October 6

For the past 50 years, Illinois has given us some of the most powerful figures in American politics. That list includes two presidents, two Daleys and a slew of governors, senators and other mayors. But none have been as powerful–and controversial–as House Speaker Michael J. Madigan.

“The Madigan Rule” is a limited-series podcast hosted by Justin Kaufmann, a veteran Chicago radio producer and host who has long reported on issues affecting state government. Kaufmann talks with people who witnessed Madigan’s exercise of power: governors, lawmakers and journalists who described how many in state politics feared Madigan and revered him, and had no choice but to reckon with his rules.

The Better Government Association presents “The Madigan Rule,” a podcast about Illinois’ most powerful politician, featuring those who knew him well.

BIRTHDAY SHOUTOUT: Highlights in the life of Rev. Jesse Jackson, by Tribune’s Darcel Rockett, Marianne Mather and Kori Rumore

Today: The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., Cook County Circuit Court Judge Carolyn Gallagher, former state Sen. John O. Jones, state Treasurer’s Office finance director Samantha Fendt, pollster and strategist Dan Cohen, and former Highland Park Councilmember Alyssa Knobel (who turns the big 5-0).

Saturday: Rep. Tony McCombie (71st), Ald. George Cardenas (12th), state Rep candidate Michael Rabbitt, PAWS Chicago co-founder Alexis Fasseas, Google exec Tarresha Poindexter, Chicago-Kent law student Jaylin McClinton, and Sun-Times political reporter Fran Spielman, and former Tribune reporter Bill Mullen.

Sunday: Cook County Circuit Court Judge Teresa Molina, former state Sen. Ira Silverstein, Harvard Kennedy School of Government MPA candidate Tonantzin Carmona, National Louis University employment engagement director Robert Emmons Jr., UnidosUS deputy VP of policy Clarissa Martinez, Goldman Sachs’ Avi Davidoff, digital strategist Justin Kulovsek, Equinor’s Seth Levey, and former reporter Carol Marin, now director of the DePaul University Center for Journalism Integrity & Excellence.

Monday: state Rep. Tony McCombie, state Rep. Ryan Spain, former state Sen. Pat McGuire, former Palatine Township Committeeman Matt Flamm, comms director for Adam Kinzinger Maura Gillespie, and actress and screenwriter Joan Cusack.

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