U.S. Rep. Marie Newman’s push to pass a law that would ban discrimination against LGBTQ Americans has sparked a feud with controversial Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. But it took a new turn this morning “when Facebook temporarily took down Newman’s video putting up a transgender pride flag in a congressional office hallway,
U.S. Rep. Marie Newman’s push to pass a law that would ban discrimination against LGBTQ Americans has sparked a feud with controversial Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. But it took a new turn this morning “when Facebook temporarily took down Newman’s video putting up a transgender pride flag in a congressional office hallway, labeling it hate speech,” the Tribune’s Bill Ruthhart reports.
Newman, a La Grange Democrat, whose daughter is transgender, got an apology from the social media company.
The state’s long-troubled unemployment system hit another snag, my Tribune colleague Abdel Jimenez reports, with some jobless residents locked out of their accounts. The result? A delay in benefits.
But if there are any lessons out of this week’s two-part series of “Let’s Pick Michael Madigan’s Successor” in the state legislature, it might be that politicians and the government bureaucracy can work fast when they want.
It was Sunday when Madigan, who days earlier resigned from his 22nd District House seat, picked politically connected Edward Guerra Kodatt as his replacement in the General Assembly. But on Tuesday night, Madigan and a top political lieutenant in the legislative district — Chicago Ald. Marty Quinn, for whom Kodatt worked — issued a brief and vague statement: “After learning of alleged questionable conduct by Mr. Kodatt, it was suggested that he resign as state representative for the 22nd District.”
This morning, Madigan gathered with the four other Democratic committeemen who have a vote in the matter — though Madigan is in the driver’s seat with 56% of the weighted vote — to pick a second successor in four days, as the Tribune’s Rick Pearson writes in this piece.
Excerpt from Tribune reporter Bill Ruthhart’s story: On Tuesday, Newman, D–La Grange, took to the House floor urging for the passage of the Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. During an emotional speech, the freshman Democrat from suburban La Grange choked up as she talked about how the law would offer protections for her transgender daughter.
On Wednesday, Taylor Greene gave a floor speech in opposition of the bill and then unsuccessfully tried to adjourn the House to block its movement through the chamber. That prompted Newman, whose new office in Washington’s Longworth House Office Building is directly across the hall from Taylor Greene’s, to display a transgender flag in the hallway.
Newman tweeted a video of herself putting up the blue, white and pink flag so that Taylor Greene “can look at it every time she opens her door.” That prompted Taylor Greene to post a similar video of herself putting up her own sign on the wall across the hall from Newman.
Taylor Greene, however, did not stop there. She also sent out a tweet invoking Newman’s daughter.
“As mothers, we all love and support our children. But your biological son does NOT belong in my daughters’ bathrooms, locker rooms, and sports teams,” Taylor Greene tweeted over a video of Newman’s floor speech.
House approves The Equality Act today, but the measure has something of an uphill climb in the Senate, The Associated Press reports. “The Equality Act amends existing civil rights law to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identification as protected characteristics,” the AP notes. “The protections would extend to employment, housing, loan applications, education, public accommodations and other areas.” Read the full story here.
From the Tribune’s Rick Pearson: “Angelica Guerrero-Cuellar on Thursday became the second replacement in four days for the Illinois House seat held by former Speaker Michael Madigan following a meeting of local Southwest Side ward and township committeemen.
“Guerrero-Cuellar succeeds Madigan’s original hand-picked successor, Edward Guerra Kodatt, who resigned Wednesday after the former speaker and 13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn called on him to step down for unspecified ‘alleged questionable conduct.’” It should be noted that Kodatt also resigned his city job as an assistant in Quinn’s ward office, Pearson writes.
Guerrero-Cuellar, who was nominated by 23rd Ward Ald. Silvana Tabares, has volunteered at several community agencies that provide services to people in the country without legal permission and is married to a Chicago police officer.
Guerrero-Cuellar had a paid position on the unsuccessful 2018 Cook County Board campaign of Angie Sandoval, according to two sources familiar with her role in the campaign. She received more than $9,500 for her campaign work, records showed.
Still no date set to appoint a new Illinois Democratic Party chair, but candidates are jockeying for the powerful post Madigan just left. The 36 Democratic Central State Central Committeepersons will decide via weighted vote, and contenders are looking for their backing.
As I wrote yesterday, state central committeeman and U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García of Chicago said northwest suburban state Sen. Cristina Castro should be added to the list of candidates.
Chicago Ald. Michelle Harris and South suburban U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly look to be lining up their own backers.
Today Harris, a South Side Chicago alderman, announced the endorsement of eight state central committeepersons including U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, former Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, former Metropolitan Water Reclamation District board member Cynthia Santos, U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, Cook County Clerk and interim state party chair Karen Yarbrough, former Metro East congressman Jerry Costello, former Du Quoin City Commissioner Kathy West and former state Rep. Brandon Phelps of Harrisburg.
While Gov. J.B. Pritzker and U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth have endorsed Harris, neither have a vote in the matter. Likewise, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is backing Kelly but does not have a vote though he, like Pritzker and Duckworth, have a lot of heft in the party.
One day after Democratic House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch suggested the state ask voters again to approve the graduated-rate income tax proposal they shot down at the polls, the Illinois Republican Party was resuscitating some of its old “vote no” messaging.
Today, the Illinois Republican Party pulled out one of the same arguments made last year in opposing the referendum once it failed: Democrats aren’t careful with taxpayers’ money.
“What the new Speaker doesn’t understand is that the people of Illinois did not reject the Madigan-Pritzker tax hike amendment because they were confused on what the revenue would be used for,” state Republican Party spokesman Joe Hackler said in a statement. “They rejected the tax hike amendment because new revenue would be sent to Springfield to be squandered by the same corrupt politicians and Democratic Party that got us into this financial crisis in the first place.”
Last year’s ballot initiative turned into a billionaires’ brawl with Pritzker, a Hyatt Hotel heir, sinking $58 million of his own money into trying to pass the referendum, while opponents were led by wealthy hedge fund founder Ken Griffin.
From the Tribune’s Alice Yin: “Over the past 11 months of the pandemic, Cook County directed more than 40% of its federal relief money toward labor costs for the sheriff’s office, drawing alarm from Black activists who have renewed calls to reallocate law enforcement spending since the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.”
This has already been controversial in Chicago: As Yin notes, “On the city side, $281.5 million in coronavirus relief money was spent on Chicago police’s payroll costs — sparking controversy from progressive aldermen that Mayor Lori Lightfoot said last week was ‘just dumb.’ She said the city ‘took advantage’ of the federal money to reimburse COVID-19-related expenses rather than have it fall on the city’s taxpayers.” Read the full story here.
Will Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle get the same heat as Lightfoot?
Illinois has the highest number of local governments of any state in the country with 6,918, according to the U.S. census count of local governments. But the Civic Federation, a local budget watchdog group, analyzed multiple sources and found the count was even higher, at 8,923.
It’s part of the group’s new analysis “An Inventory of Local Governments in Illinois.” Read it here.
Attend a state or local budget hearing and you’ve probably heard the Civic Federation or someone from another good government group talk about consolidating some local governments to save money. The federation reminds that a lot of these local governments are largely funded with property tax dollars. Critics suggest that’s one of the reasons for high property rates in the state.
“Especially at a time when local governments are facing severe revenue shortfalls as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, streamlining redundant services makes financial sense and would put Illinois governments in line with best practices,” Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation, said in a statement.