Good Monday morning, Illinois. Just because it’s the shortest day of the year doesn’t mean there will be any less news.
LATE-NIGHT HEADLINE: Congress strikes $900B stimulus deal after days of frantic talks, by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett, Andrew Desiderio, Melanie Zanona and Heather Caygle. Here’s what’s in it: checks, tax breaks, food assistance, airline aid and more.
Chicago corporation counsel Mark Flessner stepped down Sunday in the wake of recent disclosures about a police raid gone wrong that have struck the biggest upset of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s first term in office.
“I’m resigning because of the firestorm around the whole tape thing,” Flessner told the Tribune in a brief interview. “I’m being accused of trying to hide it, which is not true.”
Lightfoot accepted the resignation, adding in a statement she’s “committed to a full review of everything that occurred surrounding this incident, will take corrective action where appropriate, and will hold people accountable.”
The raid occurred nearly two years ago when police barged into the home of Anjanette Young, a social worker who was undressing when officers barged in looking for a suspect. Young, standing naked and handcuffed, cried repeatedly that the officers had the wrong address. They finally realized she was right.
Flessner’s exit drew praise from the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who tweeted officials should “reprimand and remove the police officers that raided the home” and called on the state AG to investigate.
Questions remain for Chicago aldermen. They’re holding a hearing Tuesday hoping to find out more about how police handled the raid, why the city’s Law Department tried to keep Young’s attorney and CBS/2 from getting access to the bodycam video of the incident, and whether the Chicago Police Department and Lightfoot’s administration are taking police reform seriously. Flessner says he didn’t hide the information, so the question has become about whether he relayed the gravity of the incident to the mayor, which occurred before she took office.
The City Council hearing before the Health and Human Relations, and Public Safety committees will be headed by Ald. Chris Taliaferro, a former police officer and Lightfoot ally. The mayor is not expected to attend but others in the administration will be on hand.
Some aldermen who spoke to Playbook over the weekend say they’re concerned Lightfoot’s administration doesn’t care about transparency and reform, two issues she campaigned on. Lightfoot is a former federal litigator who has been intimately involved in police issues for some 20 years.
The Tribune’s Gregory Pratt calls it “a major embarrassment for Lightfoot.”
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: State Rep. Ann Williams is filing a bill to allow the Illinois General Assembly to meet, conduct legislative business and vote remotely in the event of a pandemic — like the one we’re still in — or another emergency that might make it impossible to meet in person.
State Sen. Rob Martwick will be filing the Senate version.
“We never anticipated that something like a global pandemic would happen, restricting our ability to safely meet in person as we normally would and jeopardizing our ability to do our jobs effectively,” Williams said in a statement to Playbook. It’s about being prepared, she added: “We need to take steps to ensure that we can continue to work effectively on behalf of the people of Illinois — this is more important than ever as we continue to be faced with a growing public health crisis and the economic fallout.”
During the General Assembly’s May session, a bill to permit virtual lawmaking failed by one vote in the House. The state Senate, meanwhile, adopted rules to permit legislators to participate remotely as long as a physical quorum is present. The Senate rules also allow for virtual committee hearings.
Numerous states have already taken similar action.
Williams says she’s looking for input from colleagues on both sides of the aisle as the bill moves forward.
Have a tip, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? Get in touch: [email protected]
Holding a 1 p.m. press conference.
No official public events.
At Thaddeus S. “Ted” Lechowicz Woods at 9:30 a.m. to discuss how Forest Preserves can be used safely during the winter.
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Sunday reported 79 deaths and 6,003 new confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus. That’s a total of 15,202 fatalities and 900,370 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from Dec. 13 through 19, 2020 is 7.8 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 11.5 percent.
— After week of confusion Illinois expecting 60,000 doses of vaccine: “Gen. Gustave F. Perna, who heads up Operation Warp Speed and is responsible for logistics of vaccine distribution to the states, said a “planning error” caused the federal government to overpromise how many doses would be arriving in some states. ‘It was my fault,’ the general said,” by WBEZ’s Lina Lutton.
— Panel: People over 75, essential workers next for vaccines: “A federal advisory panel recommended Sunday that people 75 and older and essential workers like firefighters, teachers and grocery store workers should be next in line for COVID-19 shots, while a second vaccine began rolling out to hospitals as the nation works to get the coronavirus pandemic under control. The two developments came amid a vaccination program that began only in the last week and has given initial shots to about 556,000 Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” by the AP.
— With hospitals short on workers, those remaining feel pushed to the edge by Covid-19: “Even as the first vaccine shots begin to roll out to health care workers, doctors and nurses say they are struggling to make it through the pandemic’s darkest surge yet, in an atmosphere some describe as bordering on exhaustion. Federal data shows that roughly 1 in 5 of the state’s hospitals is reporting a ‘critical’ staff shortage each day, a problem reflected in the desperate competition among hospitals for trained staff at a time when the pandemic is straining resources across the country,” by Tribune’s Joe Mahr and Lisa Schencker.
— First Chicago vaccine recipients report feeling ‘great’ after historic shots, by Tribune’s Stacy St. Clair
Past campaign tactics rebound against Pritzker and Lightfoot: “Gov. Pritzker is on the defensive over his administration’s handling of coronavirus outbreaks at the state-run LaSalle Veterans Home, while Mayor Lightfoot is in hot water over the botched raid of a Chicago social worker’s home,” by Sun-Times’ Mark Brown.
— To help their families during the pandemic, teens are skipping class to work: “Chicago high school teachers say they’ve seen an increase in the number of students taking jobs, sometimes at the cost of their education,” by WBEZ’s Adriana Cardona-Maguigad.
— 71-year-old shot dead while inside Morgan Park neighborhood home: “The woman was in the 10800 block of South Morgan Street about 7:40 p.m. when two assailants began shooting into the residence, hitting her multiple times, police said,” by Tribune’s Rosemary Sobol.
— ‘The face of Cabrini-Green’: A lost child, a legacy of failure and a changing neighborhood: “The infamous Cabrini high-rises, the ‘reds’ and the ‘whites,’ were demolished years ago. …But many former residents, now scattered across the city, are still drawn to what’s left of the neighborhood. Despite — or perhaps because of — decades of instability, they said, unusually strong bonds were formed,” by Tribune’s Megan Crepeau, Jeremy Gorner and William Lee.
… Killing sparks memories of Cabrini-Green’s troubled past, and hopes for a lasting peace, by Tribune’s Megan Crepeau, William Lee and Jeremy Gorner.
— Taxation pause gives Magnificent Mile backers time to talk: “An aldermanic hold on a plan for a Special Service Area benefiting the elite street affords time to rally property owners behind an improvement plan,” by Sun-Times’ David Roeder.
— Bears beat Vikings, stay alive in playoff race: “The victory brought the Bears back to .500 and kept their playoff hopes alive, while they all but eliminated their NFC North rivals from the postseason,” by Sun-Times’ Patrick Finley.
EXCLUSIVE: Foxx wants to erase more serious convictions for weed dealing, expunge cocaine, heroin arrests: The Cook County State’s Attorney frames cannabis legalization as a “test balloon” for reexamining the country’s drug laws — and their toll on the communities that have suffered the most. “I think this is the gateway conversation to deeper conversations around treating addiction as a public health issue and looking at the drug economy that has flourished in these neighborhoods while every other bit of economy has abandoned [them],” Foxx said tells the Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba and Matthew Hendrickson.
Rep. Tom Demmer considers statewide run, and Mark Kirk offers help: The state rep who made headlines recently as the leading Republican on the House panel investigating Speaker Michael Madigan says he’s considering a statewide run for office in 2022. Whether for governor, U.S. Senate or another position, he has not decided, according to Capitol News’ Jerry Nowicki. Demmer is also getting support from former Sen. Mark Kirk, according to a GOP source familiar with the conversations. In a call over the weekend, Kirk and Demmer discussed the “strategic avenues” to run statewide. Kirk also will help Demmer connect to Republican donors, the source told Playbook.
Gaming board seeks $5M fine against major video gambling company Accel Entertainment: “The complaint from state gambling regulators alleges the company entered into a deal with the online sports betting company DraftKings in order to pay commissions to business owners to entice them into putting Accel gambling machines in their establishments. It’s illegal for video gambling operators to offer “inducements” to try and drum up or maintain video gambling business, and regulators allege the $21,000 in commissions paid out by Accel violate the Illinois Gaming Act,” by WBEZ’s Dan Mihalopoulos.
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Outgoing state Rep. Mark Kalish has been hired as CEO of Chevra Hatzalah, the country’s largest volunteer ambulance corps. Kalish, a rabbi elected in 2018 to the 16th District, previously was CEO of S4 Group, a business consulting and lobbying firm. Now he’ll lead Chevra Hatzalah, which services New York City’s five boroughs and has more than 1,600 volunteer EMTs, paramedics and doctors, and nearly 100 ambulances, according to a statement from the company. Kalish lost his bid for reelection during the Democratic primary earlier this year. He became a target of fellow Democrats after he took a pass on voting for the Reproductive Health Act. The bill became law anyway, but Kalish’s non-vote prompted a backlash from some within the party.
Madigan’s suburban challenge: The Daily Herald polled the Democratic lawmakers representing the North, Northwest and West suburbs about the speakership. They were asked if they’ll vote for Madigan, if their support has been sought by any candidate or if they intend to run for the post. Some vow to oppose, but others won’t say.
Suburban family: Peace Corps at fault for daughter’s ‘preventable’ death: “UIC grad Bernice Heiderman, 24, was living her dream as a volunteer in Africa. She died of malaria, which the agency’s inspector general said was easily treatable with proper care,” Stephanie Zimmermann.
U. of I. taps Wisconsin football coach, “The Illini hired [Bret] Bielema to replace the fired Lovie Smith on Saturday, hoping he can turn around a program with nine consecutive losing seasons. Illinois said Bielema will receive a six-year contract with an annual salary starting at $4.2 million, and begin work immediately,” via the State Journal-Register.
— ‘An emergency’ like ‘we’ve never seen’: Inside Biden’s Cabinet confirmation drive, by POLITICO’s Natasha Korecki and Christopher Cadelago
— Inside Trump’s pressure campaign to overturn the election, by POLITICO’s Anita Kumar and Gabby Orr
— Low-income children wait months for USDA food aid to replace school meals, by POLITICO’s Helena Bottemiller Evich
— Birx travels, family visits highlight pandemic safety perils, by AP’s Aamer Madhani and Brian Slodysko
— East St. Louis community mourns after death of longtime educator and politician: “Eddie Lee Jackson Sr. served in the Illinois House of Representatives for eight years after retiring from a lengthy career as a science teacher and administrator in East St. Louis School District 189. He sat on the East St. Louis City Council for 20 years and is the father of Emeka Jackson-Hicks, the city’s former mayor. Jackson, 71, died early Friday morning,” by Metro-East News’ Carolyn P. Smith.
— Election attorney Richard Means has died: “Rich practiced election and public service law for more than 50 years, up until the time of his death. Long involved in civic activities and progressive politics, he was most recently Illinois Chapter Chair of the liberal advocacy group Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) and a past state chairman of Independent Voters of Illinois (IVI).”
— Samuel Linares, chef-owner of La Casa de Samuel in Little Village, dead of Covid-19: “He introduced Chicagoans to regional specialties like iguana, rattlesnake and criadillas Guerrero-style — grilled bull testicles,” by Sun-Times’ Maureen O’Donnell.
— Pioneering Special Olympian dies: “In 1968, Michael ‘Moose’ Cusack competed in the first Special Olympics, which started after [now Supreme Court Justice Anne] Burke suggested creating a citywide track meet for special education children. The Kennedy Foundation, chaired by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, donated another $25,000 to help fund the first games. ‘He was the impetus,’ Burke said. ‘He was the reason why we had the first Special Olympics. He’s kind of an icon in our group. … The longest-serving athlete,’” Tribune’s Paige Fry reports.
Some good news for the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association. It’s been honored by the International Society of Hotel Associations for its communications and government affairs efforts to inform hotel guests and employees about safety information regarding the Covid-19 pandemic. In a statement, Michael Jacobson, president and CEO of the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association, said, “This year has produced unprecedented challenges for hotels, and while more work must be done to bring back jobs and restore the industry’s position as an economic driver, our top priority will always be the health and wellbeing of everyone who comes through our doors.”
FRIDAY’s GUESS: Congrats to retired real estate builder/developer Mark Perlman for correctly answering that Charlie Birger was the last person to be publicly hanged (April 19, 1928). A replica of the gallows is part of the Historic Jail Museum in Benton, where a Black Lives Matter Rally was recently held. The noose was removed to avoid confusion about why it exists.
TODAY’S QUESTION: What do the Hutchinson Singing Rheotome, the Westco Lloyd Neurostat and the Long Gasometer all have in common? Email your answer to [email protected].
Michael Negron, a Biden transition member and assistant director at the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity; state Senate Democratic staffer Ken Lowe, Cozen O’Connor lobbyist Patrick Carey, Illinois Human Rights Commissioner Barbara Barreno-Paschall, and restaurateur Kevin Boehm