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Happy Wednesday, Illinois. I’ve been invited to Clubhouse and I’m as excited as I’ve been about any party invitation. Tips on being part of the fun are welcome: [email protected]. Covid-19 vaccine shipments were delayed by the storm that socked northern Illinois on Tuesday. Buildings were crushed under the weight of the snow. Cars were buried.

Happy Wednesday, Illinois. I’ve been invited to Clubhouse and I’m as excited as I’ve been about any party invitation. Tips on being part of the fun are welcome: [email protected].

Covid-19 vaccine shipments were delayed by the storm that socked northern Illinois on Tuesday. Buildings were crushed under the weight of the snow. Cars were buried. And side streets couldn’t be cleared because there was no place to dump the stuff. The governor declared a disaster in Illinois. And there’s more snow forecast for tonight.

“We’re running out of space,” Streets and Sanitation Commissioner John Tully told Playbook. “This storm was a little different because there was already snow on the ground.” And the wind that swept the snow into drifts didn’t help, either, he said.

His department is relocating snow to open areas in wards, including at a large lot near Guaranteed Rate Field, where the White Sox play.

Some numbers: the West Rogers Park neighborhood in Chicago got 18.6 inches of snow; Evanston and Oak Park recorded 18 inches, and Bridgeview registered 17.7 inches, according to the National Weather Service. O’Hare airport logged about 7.5 inches but Midway received 17.7 inches. The Tribune has more on the numbers.

Lessons learned: The storm walloped Chicago and side streets are still not cleared this morning, but the city was still better prepared than it was 10 years ago when a disastrous storm left hundreds of cars trapped on Lake Shore Drive in drifts of snow.

With that event in mind, Streets and San crews put an action plan into motion three weeks ago that removed barriers on Lake Shore Drive near Superior and Fullerton avenues, allowing for access off the road so drivers won’t get trapped. The Chicago Transit Authority also rerouted buses off Lake Shore Drive. In 2011, a CTA articulated bus got stuck while trying to change lanes, preventing cars from moving forward.

Aldermanic duties: Chicago aldermen spent Tuesday shoveling out elderly residents and others trapped in their homes. “I was up late shoveling and then woke up and wondered ‘Did I do anything last night?’” Ald. Scott Waguespack told Playbook. “It was beautiful, and then reality hit.” Waguespack has a list of some 70 residents in his 32nd Ward who need help when the snow hits. He does a lot of shoveling himself but on Tuesday he had volunteers.

Ald. Raymond Lopez was also out all day with volunteers digging out alleys in his 15th Ward. He called for more attention to side streets. “It’s absurd” that residents would wait 10 hours from the time the snow stopped to see their streets cleared.

Alleys, of course, are another story. Streets and San doesn’t clear them for fear the dumped snow will damage garages. So consider this another day sheltering in. Temps don’t get up to the 30s until the weekend.


Pritzker declares a disaster after storm, by the AP

More than 100 providers didn’t get Covid vaccine shipments in Chicago as storm sparks delays, via NBC/5’s

Snowfall takes a toll on roofs — and collapses could be just the start of the misery, by Tribune’s John Keilman

Chicago is running out of room for all this snow, by WTTW’s Patty Wetli

Shoveling. A lot. Again. Chicagoans vent — or go with the snow, by Sun-Times’ Mitch Dudek and Sam Charles

Light snow today before temps return to the 30s for the first time in weeks, by Tribune’s William Lee

Gov. J.B. Pritzker gives his combined State of the State and budget address at noon today and everyone’s wondering what he’s got up his sleeve.

He’s already said there will be no increase in state spending, no increase to the 4.95 percent flat-tax rate, and that closing corporate loopholes will help fix the budget deficit. But which loopholes?

The Tribune reports that could include:

  • Reversing a phaseout of the state’s corporate franchise tax;
  • Eliminating an additional tax credit for companies receiving other state incentives that create construction jobs;
  • Lowering the deduction for taxpayers who donate to private school scholarship funds;
  • Capping a discount for retailers that collect state sales tax;
  • Ending a sales tax exemption for manufacturers.

State Comptroller Susana Mendoza warns that lawmakers shouldn’t be tempted to redirect any federal coronavirus relief funds towards pet projects.

“I do not want the legislators, or anyone else for that matter, to get excited about any new federal stimulus dollars coming in,” Mendoza told WCIA’s Mark Maxell. “Because honestly, it’s not going to be like Christmas morning. There is not going to be a new Lexus in the state’s driveway with the big red bow.”

Suburban Democrats, meanwhile, are distancing themselves from Pritzker’s plan to rely on federal dollars for education funding, according to Daily Herald’s J.J. Bullock.

And two Republican appropriations committee members in the state Legislature have sent a letter to state agency directors asking for a list of proposed budget cuts they intend to make. The letter from state Sen. Sen. Chapin Rose of Mahomet and state Rep. Tom Demmer of Dixon calls on agencies to spell out “efficiencies reflecting a 5 percent reduction from fiscal year 2021 operations and grant funding across all appropriated funds.” They also asked for line-item details of $700 million in spending reductions that Pritzker has said he’s already implemented.

The governor has called on Republicans to identify programs and services that they would like to cut to solve the state’s budget deficit. No word yet.

Have a tip, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? Get in touch: [email protected]

No official public events.

Delivering virtual State of the State and budget address. The speech will also be streamed on the governor’s Facebook and Twitter feeds.

No official public events.

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Tuesday reported 32 new deaths and 1,348 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus disease. That’s a total of 20,034 fatalities and 1,164,922 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from Feb. 9 through 15 is 2.8 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 3.6 percent.

Biden admin rushes to close virus-sequencing gap as variants spread: “More than 40 states have reported cases of the three major coronavirus strains, first spotted overseas; all are more contagious than older versions of the virus, and at least one is more virulent. By sequencing genetic material from virus samples collected around the country, health officials can track where and how these strains are spreading — and use the information to help contain hotspots and guide vaccination efforts,” by POLITICO’s David Lim.

CHICAGO TARGETS 15 hard-hit communities for a vaccine blitz to fight disparities: “Last weekend, more than 1,500 of its residents got their first shots of a COVID-19 vaccine — roughly seven times more than the average number of vaccines received so far by residents of any other neighborhood. The vaccination boom in Belmont Cragin wasn’t random: It came after weeks of planning with the public health department, elected officials, community organizations and a local clinic,” by WBEZ’s Becky Vevea, Kristen Schorsch.

National Guard to help run mass-vaccination site at Illinois State Fairgrounds, reports the State Journal-Register’s Dean Olsen in an exclusive

Deliveries and drive-thrus: Christians weighing faith and safety have many options this Ash Wednesday: “Church leaders have heard the warnings. To limit physical contact, the Archdiocese of Chicago is advising priests to use Q-Tips or cotton balls to draw the cross on parishioners’ foreheads — or, even better, sprinkle the ashes directly on top of people’s heads,” reports WBEZ’s Libby Berry.

Chicago expands indoor dining capacity for restaurants and bars, effective immediately: “Restaurants and bars can serve 50 people or 40% capacity. Table size remains limited to no more than 6 people and alcohol service still ends at 11 p.m.,” via WGN/9.

That cat lawyer video was funny. Here’s why mental health experts say you should watch more like it, writes Tribune’s Alison Bowen

Hedge Fund Alden Global Capital to buy Tribune publishing for $630M: “Alden Global Capital, the New York-based hedge fund known for bleeding newspapers dry, has reached agreement to buy the parent company of the Chicago Tribune in a deal valued at $630 million,” reports Robert Feder. The announcement drew criticism from the paper’s union: “Absolutely terrible news,” tweeted reporter Gregory Pratt, president of the Chicago Tribune Guild. “We will continue to fight for our newsroom and our city, no matter what happens next. But @ChicagoTribune needs local ownership with a civic conscience. We are now at the opposite extreme.”

— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: STACEY ABRAMS headlines the annual ACLU of Illinois fundraising lunch on March 19. This year’s event is virtual. Abrams will discuss “the role that each of us can play in the movement to increase access to the ballot,” according to ACLU of Illinois. The former Georgia state rep and former Democratic gubernatorial candidate founded Fair Fight Action, a group that addresses voter suppression. Her efforts have been credited with helping boost voter turnout in Georgia during the 2020 election and the runoffs for U.S. Senate in January.

Fire commissioner presides at final graduation before mandatory retirement: “I don’t know where all of those decades disappeared to,” Commissioner Richard C. Ford II told the graduates. “But I can remember it just like yesterday, standing in the same positions you are now and going, ‘Wow, it’s my turn.’” Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman reports.

Gig economy workers battle traffic, bots and algorithms to bring food to your doorstep: “Although experts believe demand for food delivery services will shift back to ride sharing once the pandemic ends and people go back outside, the larger jobs picture is troubling: The companies behind such app-based work benefitted from widespread consumer adoption during the long stay-at-home quarantine period. But the local workers who power these services are realizing that gig work, despite promises of freedom and flexibility, is not ideal as permanent employment,” writes WBEZ’s Esther Yoon-Ji Kang.

Why legal heavyweight Jenner & Block is losing muscle: “As the legal industry divides into a top tier of super-players and the rest, this Chicago firm risks being left behind,” by Steven Strahler in Crain’s.

Chicago History Museum names new CEO: Donald Lassere, a Chicago native and the current head of the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, will be the Chicago History Museum’s next president and CEO,” by Tribune’s Steve Johnson.

Lincoln Park Zoo to reopen March 5: The zoo’s auxiliary board is hosting a reopening celebration March 6 called Beers and Bears, reports Sun-Times’ Zac Clingenpeel.

Second City nears sale to private equity mogul: report: “New York investor Strauss Zelnick is said to be negotiating for the company that has launched the careers of comic legends,” by Sun-Times’ David Roeder.

— History preserved: The Newberry Library has acquired the archives of Mister Kelly’s, “an iconic 20th-century Chicago nightclub, cultural hub, and launchpad for comedians and singers including Richard Pryor, Barbra Streisand, and many others,” according to a statement from the library. Founded in 1953 by George and Oscar Marienthal, Mister Kelly’s became one of Chicago’s best-known jazz and comedy venues, operating until 1975. The club was located a few blocks from the Newberry, on Rush Street in the spot where Gibson’s Bar & Steakhouse sits today.

‘Schitt’s Creek’ creator Dan Levy says ‘Ew’ to unauthorized Chicago pop-up: “The TV star made it clear that he and his team have nothing to do with the event,” reports Eater’s Ashok Selvam.

Mrs. O’Leary’s 1880s Englewood mansion for sale — And it has its very own fire hydrant:The former home of the woman whose cow once was rumored to have started the Great Chicago Fire is listed for $535,770,” reports Block Club’s Jamie Nesbitt Golden.

Jennifer Pritzker’s sons list $6.7M Lincoln Park mansion, according to Dennis Rodkin in Crain’s

Berwyn is among cities getting creative to help fund its police pensions: “Cities and states issued at least $6.1 billion in pension bonds last year. Novel ways to do so include renting property they already own under dummy corporations,” reports the New York Times.

Appeals panel reverses decision to award $100K fees to cop who settled retaliation lawsuit with Dolton: “A state appeals panel has reversed a Cook County judge’s ruling and determined a former Dolton police officer, who publicly clashed with his chief and village officials, can’t collect $100,000 in attorney fees as part of a settlement of his whistleblower retaliation claims,” by Cook County Record’s Scott Holland.

Illinois sports betting market posts another record month: “Illinois posted another record month for sports betting handle in December 2020, hitting $492 million. That was almost 10% up compared to November, despite all Illinois land-based casinos being shut because of the coronavirus pandemic. The uptick was helped somewhat by a lower hold rate, suggesting bettors were more likely to recycle their winnings,” by Legal Sports Report’s Brad Allen.

Peoples Gas pipe replacement is costing Chicagoans more: “A vast plan to replace deteriorating natural gas pipes and upgrade the system is not only costing you more, but it’s also behind schedule,” by Sun-Times’ Stephanie Zimmermann.

Exclusive look inside IDOT’s new communication center: “Operators can communicate with the nine IDOT district offices as well as any employees in the field. They also frequently speak with state police, county highway partners, and transportation services,” by WGEM’s Mike Miletich.

— BLAGOJEVICH RELEASED A YEAR AGO: No remorse; ‘I didn’t break a single law,’ he tells WGN/9.

THE FIFTY: This week, POLITICO’s David Siders zeroes in Fond du Lac County, Wis., the sentimental birthplace of the Republican Party and how former President Donald Trump nearly blew up the GOP.

Duckworth urges Biden to upend U.S. Postal Service board for ‘silence’ under Louis DeJoy: “Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was widely criticized for cuts at the service following his appointment last spring that were seen as political in the run-up to the November election. In a letter, dated February 12, Duckworth said it is important to show that the [board of] governors’ ‘silence’ in the face of the alleged sabotage will not be tolerated,” via Newsweek.

… Duckworth also has been named chair of the Senate Armed Services Airland Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over matters relating to Army and Air Force programs, as well as research, development and procurement matters involving these military branches.

— BIDEN IN MILWAUKEE: President focuses on K-8 in recasting benchmark on opening schools, by POLITICO’s Matthew Choi

PLUS, The best (and worst) of Biden’s town hall, via POLITICO Playbook

Reparations bill tests Biden and Harris on racial justice, by POLITICO’s Maya King

9/11 Commissioners warn Democrats: 1/6 Commission won’t be easy, by POLITICO’s Kyle Cheney

Trump attacks McConnell in fiery statement, by POLITICO’s Matthew Choi, Marianne LeVine, Meredith McGraw and Gabby Orr

James L. Nagle, ‘Chicago Seven’ architect, has died: “James Lee ‘Jim’ Nagle, one of a group of ‘rebel’ architects known as the Chicago Seven, died January 19 of complications from Alzheimer’s Disease. He was 83. Nagle was a founder of what is now Sheehan Nagle Hartray Architects, a 100-person firm with offices in Chicago and London,” by The Architect’s Newspaper’s Edward Gunts.

— Katie Blakeman has been named senior data and innovation manager in the Administrative Office of Illinois Courts. She was previously Champaign county Circuit Court clerk.

— Maria Kim, the CEO of Cara, the job training and job placement nonprofit, is stepping down in June. She will assume the role of president for an organization called REDF, a national social enterprise funder for organizations like Cara.

TUESDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to Ronald Michaelson, former executive director (for 30 years) of the State Board of Elections, for correctly answering that the largest majority in the General Assembly was in 1964, when Democrats had a 118-to-59 majority. It came about because of the so-called bedsheet ballot.

TODAY’s QUESTION: Who was the former state rep related to brothers who each received a Medal of Honor during the Civil War? Email to [email protected].

Deputy Gov. Jesse Ruiz, government relations consultant Dan Shomon, and media and marketing pro Kim Vatis.



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