Reading into FLOTUS’ Garcia visit


Good Tuesday morning, Illinois. The auction of Al Capone’s heirlooms rakes in a “shocking” $3.1 million. h/t Sun-Times.

Congressman Chuy Garcia is having a moment. He’s hosting first lady Jill Biden’s visit to Chicago today.

A few days ago, he kicked off a new progressive political campaign designed to help elect Illinois Democrats aligned with his left-leaning politics.

And in Washington, the two-term congressman is at the center of a congressional stalemate between progressives and moderates over how and whether to approve President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. Garcia and fellow progressive Rep. Jan Schakowsky are ready to vote against the measure if the $3.5 trillion reconciliation measure is whittled down to appease centrists in the party. Rep. Marie Newman, a fellow progressive caucus member, has not yet weighed in on the issue.

With tensions high and Biden’s reputation as a deal-maker on the line, it should come as no surprise that Garcia was asked to join FLOTUS to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month in Chicago.

She is visiting the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago today and on Wednesday will visit the Arturo Velasquez Institute, which is part of Richard J. Daley City College. She’ll sit down with U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona — who visited Chicago State University last month — and Garcia for a charla, Spanish for conversation, focused on education.

The museum and the school are located in Garcia’s district, so it’s natural that he would join her. But Biden’s visit also comes as her husband hopes to make inroads with progressives in Congress as he tries to get his infrastructure bill passed.

Garcia and his fellow progressives, who hold enough votes to kill the infrastructure bill, have promised to vote against it unless the Senate passes the $3.5 trillion social spending measure.

It’s a game of cat and mouse and Jill Biden may hope a home-district visit brings a resolution.

GOP RACE FOR GOVERNOR: Chris Larsen, the top donor to Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate Jesse Sullivan, has been at the center of a lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding his company’s use of cryptocurrency.

In the suit filed in December 2020, the SEC claims Larsen’s California-based company Ripple raised nearly $1.4 billion by selling XRP cryptocurrency as an unregistered securities offering. Larsen and Ripple have denied any wrongdoing.

The litigation is not connected to Larsen’s $5 million donation to Sullivan, according to his campaign. “The contribution is unrelated to the investigation, and it was not discussed,” spokesman Noah Sheinbaum said in a statement to Playbook. “Jesse Sullivan believes in innovation, and he wants to make Illinois into the best state in the country to start and grow a business.” Sullivan and Larsen knew each other from their work in the tech world. “Sully recognizes that innovation is often ahead of regulatory bureaucracy when new technologies emerge, and there’s a natural adjustment period,” the statement continued, referring to Sullivan.

The case against Ripple asks the technical question: When is a digital asset a security? Ripple claims the government answered that in 2015 when it declared XRP to be virtual currency, according to a statement from Ripple.

Larsen and Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse, both named as co-defendants, have vowed to fight the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to Decrypt, which covers the bitcoin world.

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In Springfield at 11:30 a.m. with Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth to break ground on a new Hub Transportation Center.

In Chinatown at 10 a.m. to attend a dedication event commemorating the late Bernarda ‘Bernie’ Wong, an advocate for Chinese Americans in Chicago. Then at Midway Airport at 4:15 p.m. to greet first lady Jill Biden.

At Midway airport at 4:15 p.m. to greet first lady Jill Biden upon her arrival and then joining FLOTUS at the National Museum of Mexican Art.

Illinois’ Covid-19 case rate is the 10th-lowest nationally: “Illinois’ infection rate is 151.9 cases for every 100,000 residents over the past week. Nationally, the rate is 195.3 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days. Comparatively, at the end of June, Illinois’ weekly per capita infection rate was just 12.3 new cases for every 100,000 residents,” by Daily Herald’s Jake Griffin.

Pritzker working to close loophole exploited for vaccine mandate: The Fraternal Order of Police is eyeing are among those eyeing the clause. But the governor’s office says: “The Health Care Right of Conscience Act was never intended to allow people to avoid public health guidance during a global pandemic. The administration supports efforts to clarify the law, so it cannot be misinterpreted by fringe elements,” ABC/7’s Craig Wall.

Chicago city workers not vaccinated by Friday will face ‘no pay status,’ but can opt to be regularly tested, by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.

Federal testing program to support overwhelmed Illinois schools, by Tribune’s Karen Ann Cullotta

A Northwestern University first — woman named as president: “Rebecca M. Blank, chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, takes the helm in Summer 2022,” by Sun-Times’ Stefano Esposito and Sneha Dey.

Pritzker’s energy policy promises 40% renewable power by 2030. But, but, but: “Illinois has a track record of setting and celebrating renewable energy targets only to miss the mark by a wide margin, calling into question whether the state will be able to deliver on its latest lofty promises for a cleaner energy future,” reports Tribune’s Dan Petrella.

— EXCLUSIVE: Ex-state employee claims innocence, upset with governor’s response to harassment case: “Jenny Thornley says her allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault against a former boss at a state agency overseeing Illinois State Police employment standards and discipline resulted in a ‘one-sided’ investigation,” by State Journal-Register’s Dean Olsen.

State receives 2 bids to buy Thompson Center, by Sun-Times’ Madeline Kenney.

Task force considers changes to qualified immunity for Illinois law enforcement officers, by Capitol News’ Jerry Nowicki.

Thousands of women are serving life in U.S. prisons. Their history of trauma is often overlooked, writes Injustice Watch’s Rita Oceguera.

Tornado levels buildings in Greene County, by Fox 2’s Chris Higgins and Becky Willeke

— Opinion: Can Griffin and Pritzker find common ground? “All Illinoisans have a lot to gain if these two billionaires can achieve detente. And despite the recent rancor, there are a few glimmers of hope,” by Better Government Association’s David Greising

— Today at noon: The House Redistricting Committee is holding a public hearing to gather input as the General Assembly begins the process of creating new congressional and judicial subcircuit boundaries. Members of the public may request to provide testimony, submit electronic testimony or submit electronic witness slips in advance of the hearings via the General Assembly website or through email at [email protected]. In-person attendance: Plumbers Local 130 UA, 2114 S. I-80 Frontage Road, Joliet. Virtual attendance here.

Amid secrecy, Illinois Dems prepare to roll out new congressional map: “Key questions about the fates of three majority-Black districts, a second Latino-majority district and GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger may finally be answered next week,” by Crain’s Greg Hinz.

LaHood airs opposition to feds intervening with redistricting process: “Because we don’t want to federalize our elections across all 50 states. The unique thing in our system is every state ought to decide where its lines are drawn. But there’s a better way of doing it, and again having non-politicians do this is currently being done in a number of other states and it’s a trend now,” he tells Jeremy Coumbes of WLDS radio.

‘Cane Guy’ from Northbrook works his ‘magic’ to turn around White Sox fortunes against Astros: “Rob Holt’s seeming magic was caught on TV and word of the cane spread. Sox fans — who started the game in an electric atmosphere Holt had never seen in 30 years as a season-ticket holder — were ecstatic over the turn of events,” by Tribune’s Robert McCoppin.

More White Sox headlines from the Sun-Times, including a question about whether Cubs fan John Cusack can be a White Sox fan, too.

Park district CEO resigned, but critics want more changes to address sex abuse scandal: “We know that sexual abuse is endemic at the park district and to fully remove it, we need to go through and clean up the whole system at the park district,” said Ald. Scott Waguespack. WBEZ’s Dan Mihalopoulos reports.

Ad placement double-take: The Sun-Times’ story about Michael Kelly stepping down from the Park District appeared next to an ad by IBEW locals 9 and 34 supporting him in the position. State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, an advocate against sexual harassment and abuse, tweeted her dislike.

Fifth Third Bank to invest $20M in South Chicago neighborhood: The investment includes “$2 million in grants and $18 million in affordable financing for everything from housing to small business loans, a concentrated effort to revitalize a community that has been struggling since U.S. Steel pulled the plug on South Works in 1992,” by Tribune’s Robert Channick.

A Better Chicago to grant $7M targeting mental health for CPS students recovering from pandemic learning loss, by Sun-Times’ Maudlyne Ihejirika.

Beyond Covid-19, there’s another crisis emerging in Chicago-area schools: A critical shortage of workers: “Many school administrators say Gov J.B. Pritzker’s recent COVID-19 vaccine mandate for school employees, while necessary, has magnified the already steep challenge of recruiting and retaining noncertified but essential employees. Still, some experts who have researched pandemic-era employment trends say the school employee shortages this fall can be traced back to the basic economic principle of supply and demand,” by Tribune’s Karen Ann Cullotta.

Mayor Lightfoot’s ‘scofflaw list’ fails to include hundreds of unsafe buildings: “The 98 buildings on City Hall’s new list of unsafe buildings — compiled after a BGA/Tribune investigation into its failure to enforce fire safety violations — would not have included buildings where 57 people died by fire in unsafe apartments. Lightfoot won’t comment,” by Tribune’s Cecilia Reyes and Better Government Association’s Madison Hopkins.

Lawmakers, tribe members say it’s time to honor Indigenous peoples — instead of Columbus, by Sun-Times’ Jason Beeferman

Columbus supporters urge against replacing one “one-sided narrative” with another, by Tribune’s Sylvia Goodman and John Byrne

Marist students kneeled in ‘disrespect’ as Spanish-language song played at homecoming dance, Latino classmates say, by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba.

Alderman’s brother profited by renting CPS parking lots during Riot Fest, by South Side Weekly’s Kelly Garcia

A whole world on one Chicago street: “West Rogers Park is the most diverse tract in Chicago, and the variety of religious institutions located on just a few blocks of Devon Avenue illustrate as much,” by Chicago magazine’s Edward McClelland.

Cook County Commissioner Deborah Sims to step down after 28 years, vows to stay involved: ‘I’m not going away totally’: “This isn’t an easy district to run. It’s city, it’s suburbs, and it requires someone who’s willing to understand the makeup of both,” said Sims, who is not yet backing a successor. “I’m hoping a Black female emerges out of everybody putting their name in.” Sun-Times’ Mitchell Armentrout reports

— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK on IL-17: State Sen. Steve Stadelman, a Democrat who represents the Rockford area, is considering a run for the IL-17 congressional seat now held by Rep. Cheri Bustos, who isn’t seeking re-election. “I’m seriously looking at the race. But there’s no congressional map. Until you know the boundaries and where the lines are drawn, you’re a candidate in search of a congressional district,” Stadelman told Playbook. The Illinois senator and former TV journalist made headlines recently for his legislation to create a Local Journalism Task Force to help promote local news, especially in towns that have lost their news source due to an industry in crisis. Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the legislation into law.

— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK also for IL-17: Angela Normoyle, a member of the Rock Island County Board, is making calls in anticipation of a run in IL-17, the seat now held by Rep. Cheri Bustos, who is not seeking re-election. Normoyle is already lining up a campaign team that so far includes B.J. Neidhardt and Maura Dougherty from Prism Communications (to handle media), Mike Luce and Emily Campbell from the Dover Group (mail) and Melissa Bell and Angela Kuefler from Global Strategy Group (polling). Normoyle is well-versed in the area. She’s a communications professor at Augustana College and previously served on the Moline-Coal Valley School board.

— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Palatine community organizer Nabeela Syed is running as a Democrat for state representative in the 51st District now represented by Republican Rep. Chris Bos. Syed recently served as campaign manager for Township High School District 211 School Board Member Tim McGowan. She also has mentored high school debate students and done fundraising for Emily’s List. Professionally, Syed works in the nonprofit world on digital strategy. Her campaign points out Syed would be the first Muslim or South Asian woman to be elected to the General Assembly. “I’m hoping to use my lived experience as a young woman of color to elevate the voices and concerns of underrepresented communities,” she said in a statement.

Remember him? Miami decides to fire police chief Art Acevedo and end a tumultuous but short tenure: The former Houston Police chief whose name popped up as a possible candidate for Chicago’s top cop, ended up in Miami, where his “short tenure has been filled with controversial decisions and gaffes.” Acevedo has been given “the choice to resign or have a hearing before the city’s five commissioners, the majority of whom have publicly questioned his brief six-month time at the helm,” via the Miami Herald.

Chicago school board, teachers union ask SCOTUS to toss suit claiming union dues choke teachers’ free speech: “Joanne Troesch and Ifeoma Nkemdi filed for a class action suit in May 2020 in Chicago federal court, against Chicago Teachers Union Local No. 1 (CTU) and the Chicago Board of Education. They demanded refunds of dues for 24,000 school employees,” by Cook County Record’s Dan Churney.

Ex-Cook County correctional officer subject of federal prostitution investigation: “Feds say ‘at least three women’ lived in the officer’s Crestwood home and used it for their sex work, and they say the officer gave one woman his badge to use during her ‘dates,’” by Sun-Times’ Jon Seidel.

Former Portage Mayor James Snyder to be sentenced Wednesday, ending a 5-year saga, by the Post Tribune’s Alexandra Kukulka

We asked for your ideas on renaming this section of the newsletter and received nearly 40 ideas. Drumroll: starting tomorrow, look for the new heading: Reader Digest, submitted by a conscientious reader who asks not to be named. Thanks for the great ideas, folks.

For tomorrow, we’re wondering: Can you be an extreme Cubs fan ala John Cusack and also cheer for the White Sox? Email to [email protected]

Raiders coach Jon Gruden resigns after homophobic and misogynistic emails, by The New York Times

Dems sweat size of Biden agenda with crucial midterms looming, by POLITICO’s Sarah Ferris and Marianne LeVine

Biden trapped in coronavirus malaise, by POLITICO’s Christopher Cadelago and Laura Barron-Lopez

— For art’s sake: Hunter Biden complicates White House anti-corruption push, by POLITICO’s Ben Schreckinger

Q&A reveals merger of WBEZ and Sun-Times could see 40 to 50 new hires: “Will the deal be a national model? Public radio station’s execs weigh in,” in this interview with journalist Mark Jacob for Northwestern’s Local News Initiative.

Tiffany D. Hightower, who is executive director of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Foundation, has been installed to serve on the Salvation Army Board-Metropolitan Division Chicago Advisory board. The board includes other familiar names, including Pastor and former state Sen. James Meeks, lobbyist Brian Bernardoni, and consultant Ernest Sawyer.

BOOK REVIEW: “Fresh, engaging look” at governing after Thomas Geoghegan’s run for House seat in Illinois: The Chicago labor lawyer who jumped into the 2009 special election to fill the seat vacated by Rahm Emanuel has written a book. “There’s a George Plimpton echo to this amateur in the ring… Then again, Geoghegan achieves something more through his keen observations and the connections he draws,” writes Michael Douglas for the Beacon Journal.

From Rauner to ring… Jared Melamed Dubnow and Molly Kamykowski, both alums of the Rauner administration, are engaged. Dubnow served as a senior adviser to the 2018 campaign and is currently SVP at The Hawthorn Group, an Alexandria, Va.-based public affairs firm. Kamykowski was director of external affairs in the governor’s office and now works in global brand marketing at CME Group. Pix!

FRIDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to Union County Democrat Leo Driscoll for correctly answering that Queen Victoria donated “An Early History of The Prince Consort,” a biography of her husband, Prince Albert. It is held by the Chicago Public Library.

And h/t Cheryl Powell for noting that the queen’s gift started a book drive to replace the city’s lost public library collection

TODAY’s QUESTION: From 2013-2021, three northwest suburban Chicago mayors were all alumni of one high school. Who were they and which school did they attend? Email to [email protected]

Stephanie Sutton, senior adviser in the U.S. State Department; David Clarkin, deputy chief of staff of Public Affairs to the state Treasurer’s Office; and TV personality Ryan Chiaverini.



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