Happy Thursday, Illinois. A mute button will be available for tonight’s final presidential debate of the Covid campaign season and we’re wondering if we could just mute the entire year.
With his campaign coffers running dry and time running out, President Donald Trump can’t stump for all his GOP pals. So he took to his favorite form of communication Wednesday, tweeting the praises of Republicans running for office across the country, including Congressman Darin LaHood and state Sen. Jim Oberweis.
“@JimOberweis will be a terrific Congressman for Illinois! A successful businessman, he will Create Jobs, Lower Taxes, Defend Law & Order, and Protect your Second Amendment from the Radical Left. Jim has my Complete and Total Endorsement!” Trump tweeted.
It’s unclear how much the president’s endorsements move the needle with voters in such a polarized political environment but Trump won the 14th Congressional District in 2016. By 2018, however, the suburban-exurban district shifted, creating an opportunity for Democrat Rep. Lauren Underwood to represent it in Washington.
She started the 2020 campaign seeing herself as the underdog. But now the Cook Political Report shows the race “likely Democrat.” Underwood has outraised Oberweis, who is mostly self-funded and missed out on any financial support from the national GOP. The Democrat from Naperville is also benefiting from the “suburban women vote” Trump is struggling with across the country.
The president’s shoutout to LaHood isn’t because the Illinois Republican needs help in his 18th District re-election bid. LaHood is favored against Democrat George Petrilli. Trump tweeted because they’re friends.
LaHood “is a fighter for Illinois! A strong supporter of our #MAGA agenda, he is helping us Drain the Swamp, Deliver for our Farmers, and Defend your Second Amendment. Darin has my Complete and Total Endorsement!” the president wrote.
That elicited a shrug from LaHood’s dad, former congressman and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who’s backing Joe Biden for president. “Trump and Darin are close,” he told Playbook. “I have a Biden sign in my front yard.”
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Obama encourages people to vote with retweet of Chicago doctor: “With a little help from a former president, Northwestern Medicine’s Dr. Quentin Youmans’ went viral with his tweet about his 102-year-old great aunt casting her vote early,” by Sun-Times’ Manny Ramos.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot laid out her $12.8 billion budget Wednesday, and it was covered like the Super Bowl.
Progressives are mad as hell that the rich won’t be taxed more and the police won’t be defunded, while residents who watch City Hall from the cheap seats see the budget in simple terms: borrow, refinance, repeat.
“It feels like Groundhog Day in Chicago. Working and middle-class Chicagoans are asked to pay more in property and regressive taxes while receiving less in vital city services,” Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) told Playbook.
The Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman, who’s seen her share of city budgets covering City Hall for years, calls it “across the board pain.”
The heart of the budget was trimming $1.2 billion to accommodate the loss of sales tax revenues as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. For homeowners, the property tax increase Lightfoot proposes isn’t as draconian as expected, though the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association says hotels will suffer.
Lightfoot’s proposal to lay off 350 to 500 city workers is startling, but it’s not the 1,500 as some folks worried. The layoffs and furloughs come with an asterisk — if the federal stimulus bill is approved, funding could “blunt the effect,” the mayor said in presenting the budget.
There was no bluster from Chicago Federation of Labor President Bob Reiter about the proposed layoffs and furloughs. Instead, he talked about “collaborating” with the mayor and City Council to identify “cost savings and efficiencies we believe would at least equal the budgetary impact of workforce cuts, obviating the need for furloughs, layoffs, or vacancy reductions.”
City Hall to shift $55M in costs onto Chicago Public Schools: “In a 2021 city budget plan detailed Wednesday, which includes a property tax hike and job cuts, the mayor proposed shifting about $55 million in costs onto schools. But she offered a sweetener: additional funds from a tax surplus account, which would ostensibly cover the costs for this year and then some,” reports Chalkbeat Chicago’s Cassie Walker Burke and the Daily Line’s Erin Hegarty.
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No official public events.
On I-255 at 11 a.m. to to announce the early completion of the I-255 Rehabilitation Project. Then at the St. Clair County Health Department in Belleville at 2:30 p.m. for the daily Covid-19 briefing. Watch live
President over the Cook County Board at 10 a.m. Watch live
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Wednesday reported 69 additional deaths and 4,342 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus. That’s a total of 9,345 deaths and 355,217 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from Oct. 14 through 20 is 5.7 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 6.4 percent.
— Illinois will start sharing data about Covid-19 outbreaks in schools: “Eight months into the pandemic and following pleas from educators and parents, Illinois has decided it will publish data on the coronavirus’s spread in schools. The decision comes two weeks after a story by ProPublica Illinois and the Tribune detailed the lack of information available to school officials and parents as they try to decide whether in-person learning is safe,” reports ProPublica’s Jodi S. Cohen and Tribune’s Jennifer Smith Richards.
— Suspicious of Trump, Pritzker wants Illinois to vet any potential Covid-19 vaccine: “With the expectation of a ready vaccine still some time away, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday that he wants his own team of experts to evaluate any potential Covid-19 vaccine before distributing it around the state. The Democratic governor accused President Donald Trump of politicizing the federal agencies tasked with containing the virus, including the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” by WBEZ’s Tony Arnold.
… Illinois vaccine plan would prioritize those most at risk, reports NPR Illinois’ Sean Crawford.
— Senate Dems block Republicans’ narrow Covid relief plan: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday also suggested a deal might not be reached before Nov. 3,” by POLITICO’s Marianne LeVine.
— TRUMP COLLIDES WITH BASEBALL: While President Donald Trump’s campaign cashflow problems continue to mount, the New Yorker magazine puts the spotlight on Todd Ricketts, the finance chair of the Trump Victory Committee and owner of the Chicago Cubs. “Ricketts appears to share some of Trump’s rough-edged sensibilities. He’s gone on long rants with friends about Barack Obama being a socialist. He recently appeared maskless at Trump’s indoor rally in Henderson, Nevada. And, earlier this month, the Associated Press reported that Ricketts, along with Vice-President Mike Pence, had been scheduled to attend a fund-raiser in Montana at the home of two QAnon-conspiracy supporters,” though a spokesman says Ricketts was not scheduled to attend. Author and journalist Alex Kotlowitz reports.
— The Cook Political Report shifted Rep. Cheri Bustos’ race from “likely Democrat” to “lean Democrat,” an advancement for GOP candidate Esther Joy King… And Republican Rep. Rodney Davis’ race moved from “leaning Republican” to “toss up” against Democrat Betsy Dirksen Londrigan. This is a rematch from their 2018 race, which saw Davis squeak by to win… Details here
— Ives criticizes Casten for an upcoming appearance with Pelosi; he says GOP ‘being captured by a crazy fringe’: “With thousands of ballots already cast and less than two weeks to go until Election Day, the campaign for the 6th Congressional District has kicked into a new gear,” by Tribune’s Patrick M. O’Connell.
— Speaker Madigan’s shadow hangs over a big-dollar, high-stakes Illinois Supreme Court contest: Supreme Court Justice Tom Kilbride tells the Tribune’s Ray Long: “the millions of dollars in campaign funds he received from the Madigan-controlled Illinois Democratic Party have played no role in his past judicial rulings. ‘Just a bunch of crap,’ said Kilbride,” dismissing Republican-backed hit pieces as out-of-order “mudslinging.”
Foxx raises more than $350K in last week, but with a $270K haul of his own, O’Brien insists he has ‘momentum,’ by Tribune’s Alice Yin: Some of Kim Foxx’s financial backers during the past week include Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and his wife Patty Quillin, who donated $75,000, and former adviser to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and current Chicago Sun-Times investor Michael Sacks, who donated $100,000… Pat O’Brien saw donations from billionaire Citadel CEO Ken Griffin, who poured in $100,000, and Guaranteed Rate CEO Victor Ciardelli, who added $76,800 over the last week. Richard Melman, Chicago restaurateur and founder of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, gave $5,800 recently.
ELECTIONLAND: POLITICO is partnering with Electionland, a ProPublica project that works with newsrooms to track voting issues around the country. The Electionland project covers problems that prevent eligible voters from casting their ballots during the 2020 elections. We’re part of a coalition of newsrooms around the country that are investigating issues related to voter registration, pandemic-related changes to voting, the shift to vote-by-mail, cybersecurity, voter education, misinformation, and more. Tell us here if you’re having trouble voting.
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: The International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150, wants to create a trade school that will allow young people to move into union jobs.
The goal is “to significantly increase the number of African American students pursuing a career in the skilled building trades,” Local 150 CEO Jim Sweeney said in a statement sent to Playbook.
Plans for a trade school come as the Legislative Black Caucus prepares a four-part Black Agenda for social equity to present at next month’s legislative session. Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford said she supports the “concept” of the trade school, which “seemingly fits” the Black Caucus’ focus on economic access. But the idea still has a way to go to get full support of Black lawmakers who have spent years prodding predominantly white unions to diversify their ranks.
Sweeney says Local 150 is working with 47 other Illinois unions to create the trade school, whose location is still up in the air. Also part of the project: Karin Norington-Reaves of Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, which is working with the city to conduct contact tracing, and Jorge Perez, executive director of the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association.
The idea is headed by the Future of Illinois, a program under Empower Illinois, a nonprofit that supports low-income families. Empower Illinois has drawn some controversy for controlling a tax credit scholarship program that allows children to attend Catholic schools. The trade school is not part of the Diocese.
— Some Illinois restaurants defying closure orders as ban on indoor service spreads to Chicago suburbs: “‘We’re sticking to what we were doing and being safe about it. We’re getting a ton of support. People are happy someone finally stood up and said, ‘I’m not closing,’ said Fozzy’s Bar and Grill owner Owner Nick Fosberg….In justifying the indoor closure orders, state officials note that contact tracing of people with Covid-19 show that restaurants and bars were the second most common place they had been in the previous two weeks, after social gatherings like vacations, family get-togethers and parties,” by Tribune’s Robert McCoppin.
… Meanwhile, the Illinois Restaurant Association called on the governor last night to adjust the mitigation rules for restaurants, saying they spell “complete devastation” for restaurants. Statement here (h/t Hannah Meisel)
… Pritzker says mitigation efforts will be enforced: “Illinois State Police officers have been alerted to be on patrol in areas with coronavirus mitigation efforts in place, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday,” by State Journal-Register’s Doug Finke.
— GOP consultant Travis Akin injured in crash: “Akin was transported by ambulance to a St. Louis University Hospital with life-threatening injuries. …According to Ryan Keith, who operates rkprsolutions which is based out of Springfield, Akin ‘’has been involved in Republican politics and with Republican candidates for the past 20 years. He helps several Republican legislators and has been doing communications this election for Jim Oberweis in his race for a congressional seat in the western suburbs of Chicago,’” by Belleville News-Democrat’s Dean Criddle.
— Demuzio successor to be chosen today, by State Journal-Register’s Bernard Schoenburg
— For first time, Chicago’s Local School Council election to include mail-in option: “The district’s announcement Wednesday offers long-awaited clarity. The coronavirus pandemic caused upheaval in this year’s elections, first delaying the election for months and then pushing schools to have a virtual candidacy process. Despite that, the number of people running for council seats has increased, and the number of empty seats has gone down — positive signs amid the uncertainty,” by Chalkbeat Chicago’s Yana Kunichoff.
— Chicago has a goal of preschool for every child. Will Covid-19 set that effort back? “Chicago Public Schools leaders acknowledge that Covid-19′s disproportionate impact on Black and Latino communities is threatening their progress — a reality district leaders are citing to support arguments for bringing the youngest students, along with children in some special education groups, back to more than 400 schools next quarter,” by Tribune’s Hannah Leone.
— Pastors seek injunction to stop General Iron relocation, allege ‘pay to play’: “Alleging environmental racism and clout, a federal suit filed Wednesday targets Mayor Lightfoot and the city health department,” by Sun-Times’ Brett Chase.
— Zell warns of ‘disastrous’ situation over rising U.S. debt: “Speaking at a conference, the Chicago billionaire real estate investor blasted Washington for too much stimulus spending in the wake of Covid-19,” by Crain’s Lynne Marek.
— Joliet police sergeant is charged with misconduct for allegedly illegally accessing video of drug arrest: “A Joliet police sergeant faces official misconduct charges, accused of illegally accessing a police video of the drug arrest of a man who died hours later. Joliet police Sgt. Javier Escueda, 51, of Plainfield, was arrested Wednesday and charged with two counts of felony official misconduct by the Kendall County state’s attorney’s office,” by Tribune’s Alicia Fabbre.
— Waukegan police say officer fatally shot teen as suspects’ vehicle began moving: “A Black teen from Waukegan was shot and killed by police Tuesday after an officer opened fire when a vehicle began moving in reverse as the officer approached, Waukegan police announced Wednesday. No firearm was found in the vehicle, police said. Illinois State Police are investigating the shooting,” by Lake County News-Sun’s Clifford Ward.
— Bond revoked for man accused in Bridgeport bank collapse after he allegedly sent widow of CEO information about hanging: “U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall said Robert Kowalski’s attempts this month to reach out to the widow of Washington Federal Bank for Savings CEO John Gembara was just one of five bond violations committed by Kowalski in the past year,” by Tribune’s Jason Meisner.
Inspector General should probe Cook County commissioner, chief of staff amid pot firm revelations, ethics experts say: “Former state Sen. Susan Garrett (D-29th), now chair of the Center for Illinois Politics, said there are simply “too many missing pieces to this puzzle” and recommended that the Illinois Office of the Executive Inspector General probe the matter,” reports Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba.
— The news media helps Trump avoid the stench of death, by POLITICO’s John Harris and Daniel Lippman
— ‘There’s just not any discipline’: GOP chafes at Trump’s closing pitch, by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett, Meridith McGraw and James Arkin
— My wild 2 weeks inside the Trump campaign bubble, by POLITICO’s Ryan Lizza
— Today at 5:30 p.m.: Change Illinois, which is part of the Just Democracy Illinois coalition, will answer voters’ questions and concerns about options for casting a ballot in this election. The virtual event is free. Details here to sign up and ask questions.
— Saturday: A coalition of nonpartisan organizers and activists host “Vote With Us,” a virtual rally and on-the- ground mobilization to create voter turnout among young people and communities of color. The three-hour event will stream starting at 2 p.m. Details here
Gay Western square dancing icon William ‘Bill’ Klein dead at 70: “The Wilmette native, who worked as a computer programmer, went to San Francisco and ‘helped get square dancing going on the West Coast,’” by Sun-Times’ Maureen O’Donnell.
WEDNESDAY’S GUESS: Congrats to Advocate Aurora Health government relations director Angela K. Waller, who correctly guessed that Dave O’Neal was the Illinois lieutenant governor, other than George Ryan, who was a pharmacist prior to entering elective office.
TODAY’S QUESTION: Who was the only Clinton Cabinet member from Illinois — and the predecessor in the same post? Email your answer to [email protected].
Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), broadcast media strategist Jay Foot, Sun-Times reporter Stephanie Zimmermann, and belated greetings to DeKalb Ald. Bill Finucane, who celebrated Wednesday.