THE ‘THEATER’ IN NORTH LAWNDALE — LIGHTFOOT FINDS CHANGE IS SLOW — DELTA VARIANT LOOMS
Good Tuesday morning, Illinois. We’re five days out from July Fourth, but fireworks have already started in my neighborhood.
There was a lot of palace intrigue Monday about Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot holding a press conference in North Lawndale in the morning and then Gov. J.B. Pritzker headlining an afternoon presser in the same neighborhood — with former Mayor Rahm Emanuel on hand.
But spokespeople from both camps say that’s just what it was — something akin to wires being crossed… or Monday. The governor and mayor’s comms teams say they talk regularly, but they don’t check in about every move their bosses make.
What was lost in the drama was the reason for their press conferences: reinvesting in one of the most struggling neighborhoods in the city.
Pritzker joined Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, Emanuel and officials from The Will Group for a ribbon-cutting on the first phase of the new K-Town Business Development Centre in North Lawndale.
The Will Group received a $500,000 state grant to help minority-owned businesses expand. It’s building a new 60,000 square foot manufacturing, distribution, and warehousing facility, with plans in place for a second phase of the project. Overall, the project will yield a $20 million investment and 100 local jobs, according to the governor’s office. Emanuel was there because he kicked off the project with the Will Group when he was mayor.
A few hours earlier, Lightfoot showcased a program that will bring 250 homes to North Lawndale as part of the Invest South/West project. It calls for selling 250 of the 940 lots the city owns in North Lawndale for $1 a piece to a community coalition focused on redevelopment on the West and South sides. The group hopes to construct the homes over the next three to five years.
As WBEZ’s Becky Vevea writes, the coalition “has a broader goal” to build 1,000 homes in North Lawndale and another 1,000 homes in Roseland. “Both communities are among those with high concentrations of vacant and abandoned property. They are both areas where banks do very little home purchase lending, according to a WBEZ and City Bureau investigation — keeping vacant lots empty, pushing property into further disrepair and hampering residents who want to invest in their communities.”
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot hasn’t given up on her mission to cut back on aldermanic prerogative, which gives City Council members final say on everything from zoning and development in their wards to permits for signs.
On Friday, aldermen voted 25-24 to hold onto the power they have to hand out certain permits and business licenses, including signage. The mayor wants that work overseen by City Hall to make it easier for businesses to get off the ground.
The proposal was deferred for next month, so Lightfoot is already talking to council members, hoping to sway their vote.
A key campaign theme when Lightfoot ran for mayor was to eliminate aldermanic prerogative, which she has said is at the center of the corruption charges facing Ald. Edward Burke and the convictions of so many others through the years. She has called it a “relic of the past that must give way to a more transparent, inclusive form of governance.”
Zoning decisions guided by aldermanic prerogative have also been blamed for segregation and gentrification in Chicago.
Lightfoot signed an executive order moments after she was sworn in to minimize aldermanic prerogative, but she can’t eliminate it without council approval. Change is slow. We’ll find out just how slow next month.
Have a tip, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? Get in touch: [email protected]
At University of Illinois in Champaign at noon to sign legislation that will allow Illinois’ student athletes to be compensated. At 2 p.m. he’ll be at the Decatur Family YMCA to announce new state investments to make child care more affordable.
No official public events.
No official public events.
— Pritzker urges shots and masks to guard against looming spike of highly contagious Covid-19 variant: ‘This is very real’: The governor says “the Delta variant of the coronavirus has grown in Illinois, and he and his public health team ‘expect it to dominate our cases statewide by the fall,’” by Sun-Times’ Rachel Hinton… What to know about the Delta variant in Illinois, by Tribune’s Shanzeh Ahmad
— More on masks: Lawmaker says school districts should decide mask policies: “State Representative Adam Niemerg says with Illinois open, there is no longer a need for a statewide mask mandate for schools. Niemerg sent Gov. Pritzker a letter asking him to allow local school districts to determine their own mask policies,” by TriState news.
— Chinatown center targets ‘harder to reach’ in Asian immigrant community about COVID vaccines: “Although 63.2% of the Asian population in the city has received at least one dose, those who don’t speak English as a first language face many barriers in receiving vaccines,” by Sun-Times’ Sam Heller.
— New criminal justice law begins to take effect: “Major changes to Illinois’ criminal justice system that passed in the wake of George Floyd’s murder will begin to take effect Thursday, including a requirement that police track and report to the state incidents in which officers use a gun on someone, when use of force results in death or serious injury, and when they’re dispatched to deal with someone experiencing a mental health crisis,” by WTTW’s Amanda Vinicky.
— Bundle of energy: Lawmakers, labor leaders and environmentalists are still tinkering with the controversial clean energy bill that never made it out of the spring session of the General Assembly. Two sources familiar with the discussions tell Playbook that new draft language is out from labor folks, but it’s not satisfying environmentalists. The consulting group that’s been trying to bring home the legislation most recently stumbled on the timeline for phasing out the Prairie State Generating Station in southern Illinois.
— Demmer files bill to block state from replacing metal license plates with GPS tracking: “Demmer’s legislation addresses concerns against a proposal as a response to a spike in carjackings,” via WIFR.
— Businesses must provide worker info to the state under new pay equity law: “The change will require qualifying, private employers to submit information in line with current Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requirements. State officials said the focus of this law is to make sure there is pay equity among Illinois employers,” by WAND TV.
— Measure letting pharmacists dole out birth control without doctor’s visit awaiting Pritzker’s signature: “State Rep. Michelle Mussman (D, Schaumburg) sponsored the measure, which she said would boost access to birth control and limit unintended pregnancies… The measure doesn’t set a minimum age for those seeking contraceptives without first seeing a doctor, which sparked opposition to the legislation,” by NPR Illinois’ Maureen Foertsch McKinney.
— STAGGERING: At least 77 people shot in weekend violence in Chicago, including 17 in two mass shootings: “Mayor Lori Lightfoot said both attacks preliminarily appear to be the result of ‘gang conflicts’ and retaliatory shootings for past attacks. Detectives had been working the cases all night long, Lightfoot said,” by Tribune’s Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas, Jeremy Gorner and Gregory Pratt.
— A year after they were needed most, Chicago nursing-home resident advocates will finally be hired: “A funding boost by Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration will double the number of “elder protective investigators” at the city’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. Since last summer, that office has had just five of the 10 investigators required by the state, WBEZ revealed,” by WBEZ’s Chip Mitchell
— Lightfoot proposes six-year extension of construction set-aside program, new eligibility standards: “Armed with a new “disparity study,” the mayor wants to extend the construction set-aside program until December 2027 and relax its eligibility requirements,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.
— Mayor says she will still move ahead with plans to honor DuSable that include $40M park: “The plan was an attempt to fend off a competing proposal to rename Lake Shore Drive for the Haitian explorer. But Lightfoot’s counterproposal was unsuccessful at preventing the name change as the City Council on Friday renamed the iconic lakefront roadway after DuSable,” by Tribune’s Gregory Pratt.
— City’s civil unrest and pandemic coast taxpayers $630M in extra pay for police, fire: “With fewer officers and more to do, the existing employees made a lot of money — but the city became less safe and, for taxpayers, more expensive,” writes Forbes’ Adam Andrzejewski.
— After two mass shootings within hours Sunday night, Lightfoot decries ‘street justice’: “Both incidents appear to be internal gang conflicts. Retaliatory shootings for past incidents,” the mayor said Monday, noting that Chicago police detectives who worked through the night “have some promising leads.” Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman, Madeline Kenney, Sophie Sherry, and David Struett report.
— Could Florida condo collapse happen here? “Chicago high rises coupled with the city’s weather and history of corruption cause cracks in confidence,” writes Sun-Times’ Neil Steinberg.
— A nod to Thompson Center nomination to National Register of Historic Places, despite state opposition: “The 10-2 vote by the Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Council comes as Gov. J.B. Pritzker moves to sell the glassy structure in the Loop,” by Tribune’s Ryan Ori.
— How this Englewood engineer became a full-time ‘defender’ of the South Side: “When Tiana Morgan began college, she was warned to stay away from the South Side — where she was born and raised. As she rose in her career, she became dedicated to challenging harmful narratives about her community,” by Block club’s Tonika Johnson and Maria Krysan.
— 73-year-old completes a 40-day hunger strike for slavery reparations: “My voice is just getting stronger.” Tribune’s Nara Schoenberg reports.
— Blackhawks open ‘independent’ probe into sexual assault claims against ex-coach: “The Blackhawks are turning to Chicago lawyer Reid Schar, who helped lead the federal prosecution of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and has been hired by Commonwealth Edison to handle its legal exposure in a federal bribery investigation,” by WBEZ’s Dave McKinney.
— Officer who shot Anthony Alvarez stripped of police powers, according to CPD: “It was unclear why Chicago police Superintendent David Brown took so long to act,” reports WTTW’s Heather Cherone.
— Pritzker: State funding for Bears stadium at Arlington Park ‘not something we’re looking at’: “Pritzker didn’t address former Gov. Jim Edgar’s insistence that state leaders can exert pressure on the Louisville, Kentucky-based racetrack owner in an eleventh-hour attempt to save the historic racing venue and the struggling Illinois horse racing industry,” by Daily Herald’s Christopher Placek.
— Botanic Garden to charge ‘per person’ admission beginning in 2022: “Ticket prices will range from $9.95 to $25.95 per person, and the parking fee will drop to $8,” by Sun-Times’ Nina Molina.
— Illinois allows medical cannabis patients to buy from any dispensary after computer glitch disrupts service: “The State is currently experiencing an unexpected technical issue which is causing disruption to service for our medical cannabis patients,” the Illinois Department of Public Health announced. “In order to rectify this issue, all medical dispensaries must serve any medical cannabis patient or caregiver that is active in the State’s tracking system, BioTrack, until further notice.” Tribune’s Robert McCoppin reports.
— How one ad agency is seizing on Chicago’s status as the ‘Silicon Valley of pot’: “Receptor Brands wants a piece of the cannabis marketing pie, but making agency money in the pot biz is no easy task,” by E.J. Schultz of AdAge.
Rev. Jesse Jackson held court at a Gold Coast fundraiser last night for Deputy House Majority Leader Mary Flowers and Reps. Lakesia Collins, Fred Crespo and La Shawn Ford. The event was at Bella Luna Restaurant, a corner Italian joint that over the years has been a go-to spot for city pols who like a quiet booth and thin crust pizza. SPOTTED: Illinois Environmental Council’s Jen Walling, People’s Energy DeShana Forney, cannabis industry consultant Rose Ashby (she helped write the state’s original cannabis legislation), and Larry Luster and former Rep. Art Turner, the founders of GR Consulting.
— They Were Deported by Trump. Now Biden Wants to Bring Them Back, by Julia Preston for POLITICO
— The feds had a plan to take on Facebook. A judge just scrambled it, by POLITICO’s Leah Nylen and Emily Birnbaum
— Durbin says the work continues on a new infrastructure bill, by WTAX’s Dave Dahl
— House GOP bristles as a Jan. 6 investigation lands in its lap, by POLITICO’s Olivia Beavers
Op-ed: The interviewing finesse of WTTW’s Phil Ponce: “He has been Chicago television’s premier interviewer and debate moderator for the better part of 30 years. I have watched him shift into a second gear when a public officeholder or a policymaker avoids a direct answer. Without changing his calm and measured tone, Ponce will follow up with laserlike precision until he has unearthed some nugget of truth or until the subject has coiled themselves into a knot of words and contradictions,” writes WTTW reporter Paris Schutz as Ponce steps back from his twice weekly appearances on “Chicago Tonight” to take on special assignments.
Camerino Gonzalez Valle, founded Taqueria Los Comales Mexican restaurants, dead at 81: “He started his business in Little Village in 1973, focusing on small tacos, built it into a chain and opened one of Chicago’s first drive-thrus for al pastor and other tacos,” by Sun-Times’ Maureen O’Donnell.
— Tonight at 6:30 p.m.: All the Democrats in the Illinois congressional delegation are hosting a virtual fundraiser for the state Democratic Party. Headliners are Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Robin Kelly. This is the second big fundraiser under the direction of Kelly, who is chair of the party. Last week, State Central Committee members held an in-person event. Prices for tonight’s affair range from $1,000 to $10,000.
— Today at 6 p.m.: Congressman Mike Quigley headlines a virtual fundraiser for Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi
— Golf outings today to fundraise for Republican Reps. Neil Anderson and Dan Swanson.
MONDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to 48th Ward Public Safety Liaison Patrick Whalen, Strategia Consulting CEO Lissa Druss, and event strategist Rina Ranalli for correctly answering that John Mahoney, who played Frasier Crane’s father on the famous sitcom, earned his master’s from Western Illinois University.
TODAY’s QUESTION: What is the motto for lakefront protection? Email to [email protected]
State Sen. Dave Syverson, lobbyist and frequent Playbook Trivia contestant John McCabe, former Small Business Administrator Jovita Carranza, and PR pro Katie Breen.