WAS LOLLA CRAZY OR CAREFUL? — PAPPAS BUILDS JOURNO TEAM — IS BLAGO LOOKING TO RUN AGAIN?
Good Monday morning, Illinois. Anthony Fauci is back saying things are going to get worse, so let’s just crawl back under the covers.
Now that Lollapalooza has wrapped up, it’s a waiting game to see how crazy or careful the event really was.
For now, with the highly contagious Delta variant looming, it’s hard not to look at the past four days and think they were anything but worrisome. Sure, 90 percent of those who entered Grant Park showed vaccination cards, but now we hear some attendees flashed someone else’s vax card to get in. Another 10 percent in the crowd acknowledged not being vaccinated. They had been tested, but it sure didn’t look like 10 percent of the crowd wore masks.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot called a Sunday press conference to talk about Covid, but she did little to address the inconsistent message about Lollapalooza and instead focused on addressing the importance of getting inoculated.
“We’ve been able to open but do it with care because of the vaccinations. So I feel very good about what we’ve done; obviously, we’ll know a little bit more in a week to 10 days,” Lightfoot said, alluding to what the case numbers and hospital rates might look like post-Lolla. “But we have to keep pushing the fact that the unvaccinated are the people that are at risk.”
Timing of Lolla was precarious. The four-day concert kicked off last week just as Cook County was added to the areas experiencing “substantial” Covid spread, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection. And it happened not long after more restrictive mask guidance came down.
“It’s so subjective and situational,” says May Chu, a clinical professor of epidemiology who led the research on masks and respirators for the World Health Organization. “It’s easier to think it through if you know what the risks are that you need to evaluate,” she said in an NPR story about when to mask or not.
The challenge is determining whether being shoulder to shoulder, singing and yelling outdoors requires the same mask guidance that’s recommended indoors.
“This really has the possibility of being a super spreader event,” said Ald. Chris Taliaferro told POLITICO’s Natasha Korecki. “Unfortunately, we may possibly have to deal with the aftermath of this.”
Not wanting to take any chances, Gov. J.B. Pritzker decided not to “journey” to Lolla after all.
“Out of an abundance of caution, with cases on a sharply increasing trajectory and with the CDC’s finding Friday that vaccinated individuals can transmit the virus, the governor did not attend Lollapalooza,” the governor’s office said in a statement.
But former President Barack Obama is trusting that an outside gathering with everyone vaxed will be safe. He’s planning his 60th birthday party in Martha’s Vineyard this coming weekend with more than 400 friends.
— Tensions rise within Biden team over mask reversal: “The president’s team had a meticulously crafted agenda in mind. But pandemics don’t care for carefully laid out plans,” by POLITICO’s Natasha Korecki, Erin Banco and Adam Cancryn.
— Column: Why did Lollapalooza go forward in a pandemic? It’s about the money, writes Sun-Times’ Laura Washington.
— City leaders have no ‘current plans to close down Chicago again’: “In Chicago, we can be open and be careful at the same time,” Dr. Allison Arwady said Sunday. “Being careful means getting vaccinated.” Tribune’s Gregory Pratt reports.
— Lightfoot warns CTA riders who don’t mask up: “I hope that we don’t have to get to a point where we’re writing people tickets,” she said. “But if we need to, to get the word out and make sure that people are compliant, we absolutely will.” Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba reports
— Shifting guidance and a surging virus put school boards in the spotlight: “Local School Boards Craft Covid Policy Amidst Community Crowds, Shifting Guidance and Lots of Uncertainty,” writes Margaret Rock for Center for Illinois Politics.
— Pritzker, Foxfire restaurant continue tussle over limits of guv’s Covid powers to shut down restaurants, by Cook County Record’s Jonathan Bilyk.
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas has hired award-winning journalist and former Tribune business editor Mary Ellen Podmolik as director of communications.
Along with the usual duties of answering media calls and questions, Podmolik will work closely with a new research group within the Treasurers’ office that’s charged with studying the property tax system, identifying inequities within it and proposing legislative fixes.
Former Tribune investigative reporters Todd Lighty and Hal Dardick are part of the treasurer’s investigative team.
The new research unit is gearing up to study the expenditures by all tax increment finance districts in Cook County, according to the treasurer’s office. The group is already out with a new online tool that allows homeowners to find out what portion of local government debt falls on them.
The tool reveals, for example, “that Willis Tower carries local government debt of nearly $289 million, equal to 41.5 percent of the iconic skyscraper’s $697 million value. A Riverdale house carries $31,800 in local debt, equal to 48 percent of its $67,000 value. And the debt on a house on Hodgkins has $127,400 in debt, equal to 25.7 percent of its $496,000 value,” according to a statement from Pappas’ office.
By contrast, the debt on properties in more affluent, lower-tax areas, like Barrington Hills and Winnetka, falls below 10 percent of the value of the properties in those locations, Pappas’ office states.
SPEAKING OF PAPPAS: She’s in Greece, where she addressed the Greek Parliament to talk about the work of the new research group and her career in government. In October, she’ll give a speech to government leaders in Spain.
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In Aurora at 10 a.m. to sign legislation that expands protections for immigrant and refugee communities. Then at East Indian Trail Road in Aurora at 11:30 a.m. to sign legislation that helps address gun violence in Illinois.
No official public events
In the Cook County Building at 9:45 a.m. for a presser to highlight Cook County Legal Aid for Housing and Debt as federal and state eviction moratoriums expire.
EXCLUSIVE FROM ABC 7: Ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich says new lawsuit would open door to run for office: “Blagojevich tells the I-Team that he will file a lawsuit against the state of Illinois, objecting to the way he was removed as governor and challenging the prohibition against his running for state elective office. He claims the methods used against him by the General Assembly violated his constitutional rights,” report Chuck Goudie and Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Ross Weidner.
— After being replaced on leadership team, Ammons gets a committee all her own: “When state Rep. Carol Ammons was suddenly replaced on new Illinois House Speaker Chris Welch’s legislative leadership team in late May, the demotion included a roughly $18,000 pay cut for the Urbana Democrat. But a few weeks later, Welch eased Ammons’ financial pain by appointing her chairwoman of a newly created Small Business, Tech Innovation and Entrepreneurship Committee, a post that restores more than half of the money she lost,” by the News-Gazette’s Jim Dey.
— Illinois’ eviction ban is ending. Here’s what happens next for tenants with unpaid rent: “Researchers from LCBH and Loyola University Chicago predict a backlog of roughly 33,500 eviction filings in Chicago alone. That includes already-filed cases such as Sharon’s awaiting their day in court, as well as a flood of new filings. Black and Latinx communities, where eviction filing rates are routinely higher than Chicago’s majority-white areas, are likely to bear the brunt,” by Injustice Watch’s Amy Qin.
— Prairie State Energy Campus a piece in solving Illinois’ clean-energy legislation puzzle: “Constituencies prized by Democrats who control the Illinois House, Senate and governor’s office–labor unions representing workers and environmental groups calling for action to stem climate change–disagree over how aggressively the state should pursue requirements and programs to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions influencing climate… But when the local economic and political concerns are combined with the reluctance of lawmakers to been seen as helping out ComEd, the subject of a federal investigation for attempting to influence former House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, political science professor Kent Redfield said it’s no surprise there has been slow progress toward an energy-bill compromise,” by State Journal-Register’s Dean Olsen.
— Dangerous ‘forever chemicals’ found in drinking water of thousands of Illinois residents: “More than 100 community drinking water sources in the Chicago suburbs and around the state show contamination from harmful PFAS that can pose serious health threats, records show,” by Sun-Times’ Brett Chase.
— Illinois will no longer sell products made in prisons to state agencies, private groups, by Effingham Daily News’ Andrew Adams.
— Cannabis license lottery winners face supply chain challenges after repeated delays: “A lack of cannabis flower could mean further delays for the new license holders who had to wait because of the pandemic and legal challenges to the application process,” by Center Square’s Kevin Bessler.
— Overview: Lotteries, licenses and lawsuits: Attaining equity in the cannabis industry: WTTW discusses the latest cannabis dispensary lottery and Illinois’ goal of achieving equity in the industry. Video interview with Phil Ponce and story by Erica Gunderson.
— Chicago will have the largest elected school board of any major U.S. city: “The shift [to an elected school board] is the latest example of the political tide turning against a brand of education reform that remade some of America’s urban school systems over the last three decades… Mayoral control of schools, and the appointed school boards that came along with that model, were pushed by their advocates as a way to allow a schools chief to make decisions that were unpopular but necessary to remake struggling school systems,” by Chalkbeat’s Samantha Smylie and Kalyn Belsha.
… How an elected school board will work, by Tribune’s Tracy Swartz
— State orders $1 million tax refund for Trump, county moves to block it: “If Trump ends up with the tax refund, it would come out of taxes due to the city of Chicago and eight other government agencies; Chicago Public Schools stand to lose the biggest chunk of money — about $540,000,” by Sun-Times’ Tim Novak.
— Illinois AG Raoul looking into odor complaints around Chicago asphalt plant: “The state’s top prosecutor is concerned about more than 100 calls from neighbors reporting odors from a McKinley Park facility,” by Sun-Times’ Brett Chase.
— Fight breaks out across from Lollapalooza over counterfeit tickets; 3 taken to hospital: “A dispute over counterfeit Lollapalooza tickets resulted in a fight in the 500 block of South Michigan Avenue — near where the four-day event was taking place,” by Sun-Times’ Mohammad Samra.
— Transportation chair Ald. Howard Brookins on making e-scooters permanent: “Some of the concerns my colleagues have are scooters being littered on the street with no corral to put them,” he said. “I do understand these complaints. The pushback from the scooter companies is, ‘We can’t build out all the infrastructure to properly store them unless we know we’ll be there,’” he tells Sharon Hoyer in Streets Blog.
— Q&A: The biggest challenges for the city’s next biz commissioner: “Outgoing Business Affairs Commissioner Rosa Escareño talks ride hailing, mask mandates, and Covid business recovery,” by Crain’s A.D. Quig.
— Op-ed: Jail sentences for straw purchasers of guns will reduce Chicago violence, write Gun Violence Prevention Action Committee’s Steve Patton and John Schmidt.
— Loop Capital planning IPO: “A public offering by the minority-owned Chicago investment bank could happen next year, says CEO Jim Reynolds,” by Crain’s Steven Strahler.
— Taylor Street Little Italy festival canceled again; organizer vows to return in 2022: “Ron Onesti, president of Onesti Entertainment, said it would be irresponsible of him to put on the festival, given that so many businesses are already stretched thin for staff,” by Sun-Times’ Manny Ramos.
— Musicians say TikTok is a ‘launching pad’ for their careers. Lollapalooza’s lineup agrees, by Tribune’s Mariah Rush and Maggie Prosser
— A new exhibit at the Chicago Architecture Center features the late Helmut Jahn and his work.
— Sylvan Lake Dam overdue for updates: “The $1.3 million proposal would renovate the more than 100-year-old dam in Mundelein to meet current safety standards, according to the office of Rep. Lauren Underwood, who represents the 14th District including Lake County,” by Tribune’s Maggie Prosser.
— Football or powerball? Sizing up a Bears move to Arlington Heights: “The racetrack site is vast, but redeveloping it requires more than a stadium as inspiration,” by Sun-Times’ David Roeder.
— A scratch for Arlington next year: Track passes on race dates as owner mulls potential sale to Bears: ‘Horse owners and trainers accused the track’s corporate owner of “writing the book on bad faith,” but Arlington president Tony Petrillo insisted “there’s been no decision to abandon thoroughbred racing,’” by Sun-Times’ Mitchell Armentrout.
— Bensenville neighborhood makes way for O’Hare area industrial development: “Soon there will be nothing left to remind people of the Mohawk Terrace neighborhood in Bensenville. The 106 houses where people had raised families since 1956 will be gone,” by Daily Herald’s Susan Sarkauskas.
— Analysis: Over 1,000 victims, 126 dead, just 2 convictions: 6 years of mass shootings in Chicago: “Despite the skyrocketing number of shootings wounding four or more people in the city, the Chicago Police Department’s chief of detectives said solving the cases isn’t prioritized over other shootings,” by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba and Andy Grimm.
— Aurora woman convicted of killing 5 Oswego teens in 2007 DUI crash released from prison: “Kendall County Judge Clint Hull sentenced Sandra Vasquez, 37, to 15 years in prison after jurors convicted her of aggravated drunken driving and reckless homicide for driving drunk during the early morning hours of Feb. 11, 2007,” by Aurora Beacon-News Megan Jones.
— R. Kelly’s lawyers push back against feds’ request to use allegations of uncharged crimes in upcoming trial: “Kelly’s lawyers responded with opposition late Friday night to federal prosecutors, who filed a court document last week asking a federal judge permission to admit allegations of uncharged crimes,” by Sun-Times’ Mary Chappell.
— Families of violent crime victims gather at criminal courthouse to protest release of defendants on bond: “Opponents of the cash bail system say it allows those with money to go home while keeping those who can’t afford to post bond in custody, sometimes for years while their case winds through the busy court system,” by Sun-Times’ Mary Chappell.
Leading lawyer for Smollett can remain on case, judge rules, but can’t question two key witnesses: “In a written order, Judge James Linn said the evidence ‘clearly and convincingly’ shows that attorney Nenye Uche had spoken with those witnesses about the case in its early stages, an allegation that Uche has strenuously denied,” by Tribune’s Megan Crepeau.
Kinzinger open to issuing subpoenas for members of Congress, including McCarthy: “If anybody’s scared of this investigation I ask you one question, what are you afraid of? I mean, either you’re afraid of being discovered, of having some culpability in it or, you know what? If you — if you think it wasn’t a big deal, then you should allow this to go forward,” he said on ABC News. With video
— Senate negotiators finalize bipartisan infrastructure bill, by POLITICO’s Marianne LeVine
— Susan Collins: Infrastructure bill has enough Republican support to pass in Senate, by POLITICO’s Kelsey Tamborrino
— Pelosi turns tables on White House, urges eviction ban extension, by POLITICO’s Katy O’Donnell
— Jihadists flood pro-Trump social network with propaganda, by POLITICO’s Mark Scott and Tina Nguyen
— Maya Serkin, a client success manager at Indigov, recently got engaged to Mike Jones, who works at Jump Trading. The couple met in NYC when Maya had just given her notice at Davidson Kempner. They traveled the country together and now live in Chicago with their Malinois pup. Mike proposed at Tanglewood Music Center in Massachusetts over a private picnic and stunning view of the Stockbridge Bowl. Pic
— Alyssa Goodstein is deputy director of comms for City Clerk Anna Valencia. She most recently has served as chief of staff to state Sen. Sara Feigenholtz and also worked on Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s primary and general campaigns.
— Chauncey Rice is manager of government relations for the Illinois Retail Merchants Association. He will focus on working with Chicago City Hall and Cook County government in helping businesses working to recover from the pandemic. Rice previously was director of intergovernmental affairs & public engagement for the City of Chicago, and before that was an aldermanic aide for the City Council’s Committee on Finance.
Today at 5:30 p.m.: Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi holds a virtual town hall to answer questions on the work happening in Congress.
But wait, there’s more: Remembering Ron Popeil: The legendary TV pitchman started his career at Chicago’s Maxwell Street flea market before eventually becoming a household name, via Ad Age.
FRIDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to Miguel Larios for correctly answering that Cahokia, Kaskaskia, and Prairie du Rocher were settlements that simultaneously served as the county seat for St. Clair County when it was established as part of the Northwest Territory.
TODAY’s QUESTION: Which Illinois prison was built by inmates and also had an on-site quarry? Email to [email protected]
Former state House Rep. Karen May, Catholic Charities government relations director Brendan O’Sullivan, Drug Enforcement Administration of Chicago’s Luis Agostini, and OpentheBooks.com founder Adam Andrzejewski.