Happy Thursday, Illinois. Are you ready for some Playbook! FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Former U.S. Attorney Zach Fardon has been tapped to serve on the search panel for the next Legislative Inspector General, a position designed to ferret out wrongdoing and to keep things ethical in state government. Fardon, who helped try the public corruption case
Happy Thursday, Illinois. Are you ready for some Playbook!
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Former U.S. Attorney Zach Fardon has been tapped to serve on the search panel for the next Legislative Inspector General, a position designed to ferret out wrongdoing and to keep things ethical in state government.
Fardon, who helped try the public corruption case against former Gov. George Ryan, was appointed by Senate President Don Harmon.
In the irony of ironies, Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie picked Jeremy Margolis to be on the search committee. Margolis was a longtime legal adviser to Ryan and represented the former governor’s campaign fund during the federal prosecution while at the law firm Altheimer & Gray. More recently, Margolis represented Chicago banker Stephen Calk, who was found guilty of trading $16 million in loans given to 2016 Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort in exchange for a top administration post.
House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch named retired Appellate Justice Marcus Salone, who spent 18 years on the bench at the Leighton Criminal Court Building at 26th Street and California Avenue and another two years on the Illinois Appellate Court. And House Minority Leader Jim Durkin appointed outgoing LIG Carol Pope to help find her replacement.
Pope announced in July she was stepping down from the position at the end of the year even though her term goes to June 2023.
The former state’s attorney and judge said she was frustrated by the lack of power her position had to investigate lawmakers’ potentially unethical conduct. She has said the IG should have more authority to issue subpoenas and reports without having to get approval from the bipartisan Legislative Ethics Commission.
Pope’s resignation letter referred to the position as “essentially a paper tiger” because the legislative inspector general “has no real power to effect change or shine a light on ethics violations.”
She also criticized ethics legislation that passed nearly unanimously last spring by lawmakers as weak. The bill sat on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk for weeks before he returned it with tweaked language. The Senate passed it last week, but House Democrats failed to get enough votes to get it across the finish line.
They are expected to take it up again today when they meet to address the clean-energy bill.
SPEAKING OF WHICH
— House lawmakers are in Springfield today, expected to vote on what could be a historic clean-energy bill for the state. Talks were continuing last night to nail down details… and it seems like there’s a bit of work ahead.
“Under this proposal, the power generated by Prairie State and the power supplied to municipalities and rural electric cooperatives that own it would be cut in half in 2035, yet we would still be required to pay the full debt obligation,” Breese Mayor Kevin Timmermann, Rochelle Mayor John Bearrows, and Shelby Electric Cooperative CEO Josh Shallenberger said in a statement released last night.
— From Tribune’s Dan Petrella: Byron’s nuclear plant has generated jobs and revenue for decades. Now its future is on the line in Springfield: “We’re pawns in a big chess game,” Byron Mayor John Rickard said Tuesday. “We do not control our fate. And that’s not a good place to be.”
Republican Jesse Sullivan kicks off his campaign for governor today with more than $10 million in the bank from his California friends, including $5 million from billionaire tech entrepreneur Chris Larsen, according to the State Board of Elections.
Sullivan used to work in Northern California’s tech industry, so it’s natural he’d turn to friends there to help fuel his campaign. And what a friend he has in Larsen, who is listed on Forbes’ billionaire list with $3.4 billion. (Impressive, but he’s no Ken Griffin, who’s on the Forbes list with $16.1 billion.)
Larsen is an active political donor, giving $2,800 to Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger and Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney days after the attacks on the U.S. Capitol, according to FEC reports. Both Kinzinger and Cheney have been outspoken critics of former President Donald Trump. And he’s given to Democrats, too. Larsen gave $250,000 to the Democrats’ national House Majority PAC, as well as $2,900 each to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Sen. Alex Padilla of California, according to FEC filings.
Sullivan’s campaign also received $4 million from Kevin Taweel, another California tech exec. And Robert and Dorothy King of Menlo Park, Calif., gave $1 million to Sullivan’s campaign. The Kings run an investment management company and Dorothy King is a native of Wisconsin.
Sullivan of Petersburg joins state Sen. Darren Bailey of Xenia, former state Sen. Paul Schimpf of Waterloo, and suburban businessman Gary Rabine in the GOP contest to challenge billionaire Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who plugged $171 million into his 2018 gubernatorial campaign and could easily do it again. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner spent $70 million that year.
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At the National Museum of Mexican Art at 10 a.m. to celebrate the museum’s Ray Castro parking lot plaza made possible by an Illinois state capital grant.
At O’Hare International Airport Airfield at noon to celebrate the completion of the O’Hare Modernization Program.
No official public events.
— United Airlines will place unvaccinated employees granted religious or medical waivers on leave: “Employees whose requests for a vaccination exemption are denied will have five weeks to get the shots or be terminated by the airline,” by Tribune’s Robert Channick.
— Delta’s deadly toll: Illinois Covid-19 deaths hit nearly seven-month high as city travel advisory expands to entire nation: “The virus has killed 241 residents statewide so far this month, the vast majority of whom were unvaccinated,” by Sun-Times’ Mitchell Armentrout.
— SCOOP: Pritzker shares metrics on how mitigations might be reduced: “That could include a significant reduction in transmission, the availability and utilization of vaccines for school-aged children under 12, an improving vaccination rate for children 12 to 17 and for adults that interact with the school community, and/or additional guidance from the CDC,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a letter to Republican state Rep. Mark Batinick, who had questioned the state’s guidelines, writes Center Square’s Greg Bishop.
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Greg Richmond, the newly named superintendent of the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, has long been known as a bridge builder. And today is proof: In an invitation-only reception to welcome him to the job, he’ll be feted by former U.S. Education secretaries Arne Duncan and Betsy DeVos.
Duncan, who served under Barack Obama, and DeVos who worked in the Trump administration, are not collegial. They’ve often sniped at each other in the press over their disagreements, especially on civil rights issues pertaining to LGBTQ students.
But the two are united in supporting Richmond because of his long career in education and charter schools, which Duncan and DeVos support in their own way. So it’s not entirely a surprise that they would both serve as hosts for a welcome event, according to an invitation obtained by Playbook.
Richmond benefits from both their support as Catholic school families are as divided over mask mandates as every other community.
The new superintendent is a familiar name to Playbookers. He got his start analyzing the Illinois State Board of Education budget before working as a Democratic legislative analyst for the Illinois Senate Education Committee. In 1994, he represented legislative interests of the Chicago Board of Education.
Richmond later served as head of the New Schools Office at Chicago Public Schools when Paul Vallas was CEO of CPS. And then he spent 20 years as a leader in the charter schools movement in the United States and other countries.
Along with Duncan, DeVos and Vallas, also slated to attend today’s announcement: Jim Perry, co-founder of Madison Dearborn Partners private equity firm and a major donor to Catholic schools; Noel Moore, a Chicago Board of Trade exec and board chairman of One Chance Illinois scholarship program; former CPS Board President Gery Chico; and Geno Fernandez, president of the archdiocesan school board.
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: All eyes are on DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin. Candidates are ready to line up to run for his seat should he decide to not seek re-election.
DuPage County Board member Liz Chaplin (2nd District) has already announced her campaign for chair on Facebook. DuPage County Board member Lynn LaPlante (4th District) also is mulling a run. LaPlante was the Democratic nominee in 2018 and came within 7,000 votes of unseating Cronin (51 percent to 49 percent). And state Rep. Deb Conroy is eyeing the seat, too. She, LaPlante and Chaplin are all Democrats.
On the Republican side, DuPage County Board Member Greg Hart has been actively preparing his campaign to launch as soon as Cronin announces his intentions.
— Mike Halpin announces campaign for state Senate: “Currently in his third two-year term in the Illinois General Assembly, State Rep. Mike Halpin (D-Rock Island) stood with local leaders, supporters and family at IBEW Local 145 Wednesday to announce his candidacy for the Illinois State Senate. … Halpin said it was important to announce Wednesday at the IBEW Hall, supporting the area unions and the good jobs they help provide,” by QuadCities.com’s Jonathan Turner.
— Advocates call for lights out as 32M migrating birds expected to fly over Illinois tonight and Thursday night: “Birds tend to collide with illuminated buildings such as skyscrapers, but shorter buildings have also proved to be hazardous,” by Tribune’s Tatyana Turner.
— Illinois stepping in to help Afghan newcomers: “[R]esettlement agencies in Illinois told the federal government they could take in as many as 770 people coming from Afghanistan in the coming months, but that number could climb as high as 3,000 if more money and resources could be found to support the relocation efforts,” by Daniel Vock for Center for Illinois Politics.
— Eureka moment during statues hearing: “A young Abraham Lincoln stands watch over Second Street in front of the state Capitol, but he was not born in Illinois. Ronald Reagan was. And it’s possible a young Reagan could join Lincoln and others outside the statehouse,” by WTAX’s Dave Dahl.
— A year after teachers’ retirement system leader’s departure, report details even more turnover: “The former chief information officer at the Illinois’ Teachers’ Retirement System repeatedly directed contracts toward the company he founded and also lied about having severed ties with the company, according to a report published last month by Illinois Executive Inspector General Susan Haling. TRS manages the pensions of more than 427,000 current and retired teachers as well as pension beneficiaries,” by NPR Illinois’ Hannah Meisel.
— Illinois prevailing wage enforcement restores missing wages for broadband installation workers, by Carl Green for the Labor Tribune.
— WTAX’s Dave Dahl talks about his dinner with Bruce Rauner: “At one point during the 2018 campaign, Rauner said, he wanted to recruit a replacement for himself on the GOP ticket. His coming-out as pro-choice by signing a major abortion rights bill probably did not help.”
What an Illinois redistricting expert thinks of Democrats’ new maps: “The big picture view is this really solidifies Springfield under Democratic control. It’s a very aggressive map. Also, it’s made to create chaos within the Republican caucus. So, you see all these Republicans having to run against other Republicans,” Frank Calabrese tells Brenden Moore of The Pantagraph.
Plan to open up pot sales downtown, ease onerous cannabis zoning rules sent to full City Council: “New zoning rules aim to make the state’s biggest city more attractive to pot businesses. Of the 110 operational dispensaries in Illinois, just 18 have opened in Chicago,” by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba.
— Lawmakers press city about ‘troubling’ Head Start shakeup: “In a letter sent today to Chicago’s Department of Family & Support Services, [Chicago’s] seven U.S. representatives criticized the city for the opaque process that resulted in a dozen nonprofits — including well-regarded organizations like the YMCA of Chicago — losing money they need to provide early childhood education services through the federal Head Start Program. The letter said the changes perpetuate inequity and affect Black, Latino and immigrant families the most,” by Crain’s Elyssa Cherney.
— Covid cases rise in Chicago Public Schools buildings: “Nearly 4,000 CPS students and staff already have been identified as a close contact of someone who had Covid-19 at school, new data shows,” by WBEZ’s Sarah Karp
— CPD increases presence in River North to combat uptick in crime: “The Chicago Police Department increased its nightly police presence in River North last weekend after a recent uptick in violent crime prompted an outcry from community leaders, residents and business owners,” by Sun-Times’ Madeline Kenney.
— Police leaders acknowledge missing consent-decree deadlines while promising to speed up reforms: “The new CPD report touts the department’s effort to pick up the pace of complying with the consent decree, noting a tripling of compliant paragraphs in the most recent review by the independent monitor. But the monitor’s report also shows that, while CPD did makes strides, it was still out of compliance in nearly 40 percent of the paragraphs included in that period,” by Tribune’s Madeline Buckley.
— Mismanagement compounding underfunding: The Chicago Police pension forensic audit: “After this rapid decline in pension funded status over the past two decades [the police pension was, after all, 71 percent funded as recently as 2000], a group of retirees, widows, and active officers formed a group called the CPD Pension Board Accountability Group in February 2020, asking for a full audit of the fund. Their requests were denied, even when they offered to pay the full cost themselves, so they hired the author, Christopher Tobe,” whose research uncovered, among other things, that “Chicago has consistently underfunded the plan more than the statutory amount, blatantly breaking the law, with no consequences.” Forbes’ Elizabeth Bauer reports
— Chicago has already seen more murders and shootings this year than all of 2019: “Labor Day weekend shootings punctuated the end of a violent summer in a violent year,” writes Sun-Times’ Sophie Sherry.
— Downtown will soon see its first food hall opening since the pandemic, by Eater’s Ashok Selvam.
— He helped the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup. But now 2 lawsuits bring scrutiny to former coach’s behavior, by Tribune’s Phil Thompson and Christy Gutowski.
— State AG launches investigation into Joliet Police Department: “Attorney General Kwame Raoul announced his office’s first “pattern and practice” investigation into a local police department,” by Sun-Times’ Andy Grimm.
— NorthShore, Edward-Elmhurst announce merger: “Combined, the two systems would employee more than 25,000 workers, have a network of roughly 6,000 physician partners and offer more than 300 sites of care throughout the Chicago area,” by Daily Herald’s Jake Griffin.
— Penalties sought against Burr Ridge mayor: “Mayor Gary Grasso used the court system to “squeeze out” information from a resident for political purposes — and he should be sanctioned for it, an attorney says,” by Patch’s David Giuliani.
— War over in Afghanistan, but contractor from Lombard is still held captive, by Tribune’s Madeline Buckley.
— An Orland Park woman’s home-raised monarch butterfly makes it to central Mexico, 2,000 miles away, by Tribune’s Nara Schoenberg.
— Navy Pier Marina backers sue city: “The developer behind plans to build a place for boaters to dock along Navy Pier’s north slip says they’ve been held back by the city’s transportation department,” by Crain’s A.D. Quig.
— More insight on Chicago suing DoorDash, Grubhub over deceptive business practices: “Following a year-long investigation into food delivery platforms, the city has filed first-of-its-kind lawsuits accusing the platforms of tactics that violate municipal law,” by The Counter’s Jessica Fu.
— How the Delta variant bottlenecked Biden’s presidency, by POLITICO’s Natasha Korecki and David Siders
— Trump wanted out of Afghanistan. Now he wants to bomb it, by POLITICO’s Meridith McGraw
— Look who’s backing Biden’s foreign policy: The Kochs, by Eliana Johnson in POLITICO magazine
Former Tribune Columnist Eric Zorn is out with a new weekly column titled “The Picayune Sentinel” on Substack.
— Lincoln Park Zoo taps first woman, scientist as CEO: “The transition comes after a difficult year that forced the not-for-profit animal park to close for several months during the Covid-19 pandemic,” by Crain’s Elyssa Cherney.
— Tommy Choi is governmental affairs & advocacy officer for the Chinese American Service League. He previously was manager of Public Affairs in the Illinois Comptroller Office under Leslie Munger and before that Judy Baar Topinka. Choi also served as public engagement manager for former Gov. Bruce Rauner.
— Mark Valentino is now director of development at the Better Government Association. He’ll report to BGA President and CEO David Greising. Valentino most recently served as associate dean for advancement at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry, managing all areas of fundraising.
— Cory Thames, the chief engagement officer for the Business Leadership Council, has been appointed by the governor to serve as a member of the Chicago State University Board of Trustees.
Tonight at 6 p.m.: Illinois Secretary of State candidates will take part in a forum and mixer at Garfield Elementary School in Maywood. The event is hosted by Committeeman Karen Yarbrough, Proviso Township Democratic Organization, Cook County Young Democrats, and the Young Democrats of Proviso. RSVP
WEDNESDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to union leader Clem Balanoff for correctly answering that the Washburns were all in Congress at the same time from different states in the 1800s. Elihu Washburne represented Illinois; Israel Wasburn Jr. was from Maine, and Cadwallader Washburn represented Wisconsin. (Elihu spelled his last name differently.)
TODAY’s QUESTION: Which Chicago mayor and Illinois governor were related through marriage? Email to [email protected]
Trenton Crawford, deputy chief of staff to state Sen. Sara Feigenholtz; Tony Karman, president and director of EXPO Chicago; Sylvia Puente, executive director of the Latino Policy Forum; and Kara Voght, national politics reporter for Mother Jones and Northwestern alum.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of Illinois Playbook misstated what organization Chris Larsen made a $250,000 contribution to. He donated to Democrats’ House Majority PAC.
- Shia Kapos @shiakapos