Happy Tuesday, Illinois! Tonight’s debate could be a doozy.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker won’t commit to Mike Bloomberg-kind-of-money to campaign against President Donald Trump, but the Chicago billionaire says he’ll have the back of the Democratic nominee.
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“I have shown a willingness to support candidates across the board and for president…and I’ll continue to do that,” he said when asked by Playbook whether he’d follow Bloomberg’s lead in donating $1 billion to campaign against Trump.
Pritzker marks his one-year anniversary as governor this week, and he would much rather talk about policy than politics. His legislative agenda includes balancing the budget and “making Illinois the best state for raising children.” He’ll push for increasing child care and early childhood education, making sure college is more affordable, and improving the quality of K-12 education.
During his first year in Springfield, the governor said worrying about children under the care of the embattled Department of Children and Family Services is what kept him up at night. “They deserve better,” he said. A recent report notes 123 children who had contact with the department in 2019 had died.
Though he dances around discussing politics, Pritzker minces no words when it comes to the biggest political animal these days: Trump. It’s an easy talking point for Pritzker given the president doesn’t have much of a following here.
“Every Democrat who’s running would be a better president,” Pritzker says. “I’m not exaggerating. One could rank order all the Democrats and still the person who might be at the bottom is better than Donald Trump.”
When it comes to selecting a presidential nominee, the governor says Democrats shouldn’t worry about how far left they are or not. “We need to be thinking less about where you sit on the Democratic spectrum and more about the fundamental institutions that make this country great.”
Pritzker hopes to build on first-year accomplishments, by State Journal-Register’s Bernard Schoenburg.
Interim Chicago Police Superintendent Charlie Beck called the police shooting of Laquan McDonald and “the horrific actions” perpetrated by disgraced police Commander Jon Burge tipping points for reform.
He compared those dark moments in Chicago history to the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles, where he served as police chief. They all “resulted in a huge loss of trust and confidence by the community in their police departments,” Beck told a packed crowd at the City Club of Chicago luncheon Monday. “Even more dramatically, there’s a human cost. Both agencies, both cities suffered their most violent years following these tipping point events.”
Beck even acknowledged there’s a code of silence within the police department, as Crain’s Greg Hinz notes. “First, you can admit that you have an issue, that you have a problem… I think there are police leaders that have said there’s no such thing. Well, of course there’s such a thing. There are professional codes of silence in almost every profession that is out there.”
Beck’s forthrightness may go far in building confidence with Chicago communities. The question is how the rank and file will react to an outsider moving in to make changes.
As the Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman, Beck has an answer to that concern: “If it’s an outsider, it has to be an outsider that understands CPD. This is a very complicated organization.”
Maybe in an effort to quell those worries, Beck revealed he really does have a Chicago connection. His great-grandfather grew up on the city’s West Side, and his grandfather was born in Chicago before the family moved West.
“For me, this is a little bit of a coming home,” he said. “I want to make sure that this city has the best police department it can possibly have in the short time that I’m here. But I also want to make sure that my great-grandfather knows I did the best I could do to make his hometown, and now my adopted hometown, the safest big city in America.”
The Tribune’s Jeremy Gorner and Annie Sweeney have more on Beck’s view of the department — from deploying officers to using gunshot detection technology. And he addressed why he suspended the department’s controversial merit promotion system.
23 applicants for CPD superintendent job, by Sun-Times’ Sam Charles.
At O’Hare International Airport for the ribbon-cutting of a new police facility.
At the Thompson Center to sign legislation accelerating the multi-year senior homestead exemption.
Presiding over the Forest Preserve meeting.
— Pritzker’s agriculture chief ousted over ‘rape’ email he now says he ‘simply did not read’ in its entirety: “Gov. J.B. Pritzker asked his agriculture chief to resign over a controversial 2012 email penned by former top lobbyist Mike McClain over an alleged ‘rape in Champaign’ and ghost payrollers,” by Sun-Times’ Tina Sfondeles.
— HOW MADIGAN’S TOP LOBBYIST WON PEOPLE OVER: “[T]he trail of relationship-building shows why all of Springfield suffered a wave of nausea when the Tribune first reported that the feds had raided McClain’s house and recorded his phone conversations. It’s why so many players in Springfield are tiptoeing along the marble corridors of the Capitol and nibbling their fingernails,” writes Tribune’s Kristen McQueary.
— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Two women’s groups are calling for an investigation into the rape referenced in a 2012 email and reported by WBEZ last week. In a statement sent to Playbook, the boards of Illinois Democratic Women and the Chicago National Organization of Women expressed anger, saying they were “shocked and horrified” to read the story about Springfield insider Mike McClain “casually referring to a rape that happened in Champaign County in an email with former senior government officials.” The women’s groups added, “we feel strongly that this latest revelation cannot be swept under the rug and must be properly investigated by all relevant authorities.”
The letter continues: “It is time to shine a bright light on why Mike McClain had so much political power in Springfield. McClain emailed two of the most senior officials in state government referencing rape and a coverup as well as ghost payrolling without fear of any negative consequence. McClain’s email is further evidence of unscrupulous behavior in our state capital which harms women and everyone who calls Illinois home. The women of Illinois will no longer tolerate this kind of abuse of power within our political system.”
— Klobuchar takes first spot on Illinois’ presidential primary ballot: “Filling out the rest of the ballot are former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick in the second spot, followed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden and former Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg,” by Sun-Times Rachel Hinton.
— Bloomberg’s snowballing campaign: “Mike Bloomberg’s presidential campaign has brought on more than 700 staffers spread out across 33 states, with a growing number of organizers joining his ranks in states that vote on Super Tuesday, aides told POLITICO. All told, the former New York mayor’s operation totals more than 1,000 people, a figure that includes hundreds of staffers who work out of his Manhattan headquarters. The unprecedented scale and scope of the campaign — he has also spent over $200 million on TV ads — gives Bloomberg a massive footprint in states that hold their primaries on March 3 or later. Bloomberg is also working to provide a Democratic counterbalance to President Donald Trump in parts of the country that are vital to his party in November,” by POLITICO’s Christopher Cadelago and Sally Goldenberg.
— Citizens United ruling has changed U.S. politics — but not in the way many feared: “The anticipated flood of corporate money into politics in the form of independent expenditures — that is, spending not affiliated with an individual candidate or campaign — never materialized. Nor did a cascade of funds from labor unions and other left-oriented groups,” via Los Angeles Times.
— Foxx has enough signatures to stay on March 17 ballot, hearing officer rules, by Triune’s Lolly Bowean: “Handing a small victory to Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, the hearing officer who listened to arguments on whether her nominating petition to run for office was legitimate, has recommended the first-term prosecutor stay on the ballot in her bid for reelection, records show.” And FYI, here’s Foxx’s new campaign website.
— Brian Burns, who’s running in the 3rd Congressional District Democratic primary against Rep. Mike Quigley, says he secured the top spot on the March 17 ballot. And he has a new website.
— Senate president “race”: Sunday can’t come soon enough for state senators who will gather in Springfield that day to elect a new Senate president. There was buzz Monday fueled by blogger Rich Miller and WCIA reporter Mark Maxwell that state Sen. Elgie Sims was backing out of the race and endorsing Kimberly Lightford over Don Harmon. But a source close to Sims tells Playbook he’s still deciding. So we wait.
— United Working Families is out with its endorsements for 2020. The political action committee is backing Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, state Sen. Robert Peters (13th), state Reps. Will Guzzardi (39th), Theresa Mah (2nd), Aaron Ortiz (1st), Delia Ramirez (4th), and Celina Villanueva (21st), and Lakesia Collins and Nidia Carranza, who are running for state rep seats in the 9th and 3rd districts.
— Michael Cabonargi, candidate for Clerk of the Cook County Circuit Court, is out with a list of endorsements, including from Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, state Sen. Don Harmon, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Commissioners Scott Britton, Bridget Degnen, Bridget Gainer, Brandon Johnson, Bill Lowry, Donna Miller, Stan Moore, Kevin Morrison, Larry Suffredin, MWRD Commissioner Debra Shore, Cook County Board of Review Commissioner Larry Rogers Jr., and Aldermen Brian Hopkins, Pat Dowell, Michelle Harris, David Moore, and Tom Tunney.
— Lightfoot endorses Pizer in crowded race to succeed Feigenholtz, by Tribune’s Gregory Pratt reports.
— Lightfoot wants to spend nearly $19M on new voting machines before March primary: “Chicago voters are poised to see updated voting machines that election officials said will provide more security in the March primary election, thanks to nearly $19 million Mayor Lori Lightfoot wants to move from the city’s streetlight replacement program to pay for the new equipment,” by Tribune’s John Byrne.
— Chicago wants a nurse for every school — are there enough? “In their 11-day strike last fall, Chicago teachers won a commitment from the school district to hire hundreds more nurses over five years based on the idea that Chicago Public Schools would finally have one nurse in every school, every day. But the school district and union left open the question of what kind of nurse — whether each nurse could treat and manage students with chronic illnesses as well as work to help keep the entire student population healthy,” writes WBEZ’s Sarah Karp. “It is now clear the nurses likely won’t primarily be certified school nurses, who are specially trained to do it all.”
— Four things to know about CPS’ new early childhood committee: “The committee signals greater prominence for early childhood education, one area of enrollment growth in an otherwise declining district,” writes Chalkbeat’s Cassie Walker Burke.
— Chicago’s fourth Women’s March is Saturday. “It’s worth a look at what’s transpired since that first march, when activists around the world asked people to flood their streets the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration as a show of force in the face of threats to reproductive and civil rights and as a protest to his treatment of women, including the now-notorious “Access Hollywood” recording, in which he bragged about assaulting women. No one knew how many people would participate. More than 3 million did,” writes the Tribune’s Heidi Stevens, adding, so much has happened since.
— As new CEO takes charge, Boeing’s challenges remain: “As he moves into the chief executive’s suite in Boeing’s 36-story world headquarters building in downtown Chicago [Monday], David Calhoun will find he has monumental tasks ahead of him,” NPR’s David Schaper reports. “The aerospace giant is still reeling from the fallout of two 737 Max jetliner crashes — in Indonesia in October 2018 and in Ethiopia last March — that killed a total of 346 people.”
— LOL: The Chicago political quote hall of fame: “We’ve got the spiciest politicians anywhere — and the receipts to prove it,” writes Chicago magazine’s Edward McClelland.
Archdiocese announces five Catholic elementary schools to close: “School closures are difficult and complicated and we realize the impact this has on students, their families and our staff,” Jim Rigg, superintendent of Catholic Schools, said in a news release. “We are committed to making the transition caused by these closures as seamless as possible,” by Tribune’s Javonte Anderson.
— Mendoza floats plan to end post-resignation pay to lawmakers: “I can think of no other enterprise that pays an ex-employee for work they never performed. Each of these lawmakers left under a cloud but stayed just long enough — the first of the month — to collect an ‘exit bonus’ from state taxpayers for a month’s pay for no work,” Mendoza says of disgraced lawmakers who stepped down. Via Tribune’s Jamie Munks.
— Illinois’ new gun dealer rules take effect Friday: “New rules governing how retail gun dealers do business go into effect Friday and include the types of records they must keep, how weapons and ammunition are to be stored and the kinds of video surveillance and security systems they must maintain,” reports Capitol News’ Peter Hancock.
— OUTSIDE PERSPECTIVE: Gambling revenues are no jackpot for New Jersey or Pennsylvania, according to Debtwire. “[T]ax revenues are often expressed in dollar amount only and not in relation to state revenues as a whole. So how can states quantify the extent to which gambling revenues actually strengthen their financial condition? One answer is found in a closer look at New Jersey and Pennsylvania, two states that each have a sizable number of casinos. And competition for gamblers’ dollars between the two illustrates in part how one state can cannibalize another’s gambling base.”
— Study praises teacher contracts for bettering education. “But UIUC-ILEPI report also faults Illinois for poor state funding,” reports One Illinois Ted Cox.
— County board chair indicted by grand jury: “Piatt County board chairman Ray Spencer surrendered to police at the Moultrie County Sheriff’s office Monday after a grand jury’s indictment in Monticello earlier that day. Spencer was charged with four Class 3 felonies: two charges of forgery and two charges of official misconduct,” WCIA’s Lyndsay Jones reports.
— Suspected serial killer ID’d in 1976 murder: “Using a new type of DNA analysis — the same used to identify the Golden State Killer — investigators determined that Bruce Lindahl abducted the teenager as she left a friend’s house to buy a soda,” by Sun-Times’ David Struett.
— Aldermen reluctantly OK $300K settlement tied to alleged sexual harassment at CPD: “Without a word of debate, the City Council’s Finance Committee also took the rare step of rejecting a $125,000 settlement to a woman who saw the police shooting of Laquan McDonald,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.
— 12 days, $20M: Recreational weed sales remain high in Illinois: “Shoppers spent nearly $20 million on recreational marijuana in the first 12 days of legalization, including nearly $13 million in the first week. Of the eight other states that allow recreational marijuana sales, only California — which saw nearly $15 million in sales in its first week — had a bigger rollout,” Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba reports.
— Chicago hospitals brace for more weed-related visits. Poison Center already taking calls on more cases, including some involving small children, writes Tribune’s Lisa Schencker: “A number of Chicago hospitals either are seeing or expect to see an uptick in emergency room visits related to cannabis, now that recreational marijuana is legal in Illinois.”
— The legal plan to stop senators from telling Trump: ‘You’re fired,’ by POLITICO’s Darren Samuelsohn
— Booker drops out of presidential race, by POLITICO’s Nolan D. McCaskill
— U.S. drops negative designation of China days before deal signing, by POLITICO’s Megan Cassella and Ben White
Thursday: Mark Jacob and Mark Caro, both former Tribune journalists, join forces for a book event at the Book Cellar in Lincoln Square. They’ll discuss “Aftershock: The Human Toll of War,” Jacob’s photo book documenting the aftermath of World War II; and “The Special Counsel,” Caro’s novel-like (but factual) retelling of the Mueller Report. Details here
Former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger