Good Wednesday morning, Illinois. Five Bears have been named to the Pro Bowl. “It’s about time.” Story here
Lots of angling for two positions open in the General Assembly. State Sen. Kwame Raoul’s 13th District seat becomes available when he takes the oath for attorney general next month. And Christian Mitchell’s D-26 state House rep position is vacant as he’s taking a job in J.B. Pritzker’s administration.
A power player behind both appointments is Toni Preckwinkle, who as Cook County Board president is a member of the Democratic ward committees assigned to replace them. Preckwinkle and 5th Ward Ald. Leslie Hairston have the weighted votes for Raoul’s seat. And Preckwinkle and Ald. Brendan Reilly have the weighted votes for Mitchell’s seat.
Candidates popping up for the Senate seat are Robert Peters, who was Daniel Biss’ political director and also works at Reclaim Chicago (the break-out group of Bernie Sanders’ campaign); and Adrienne Irmer, who competed in the primary for the House D-25 seat that was won by Curtis Tarver II (Irmer previously worked for Raoul as special projects manager).
Names in the running for the House seat: Kam Buckner, executive director at World Sport Chicago; Omari Prince, VP of community relations at Prairie Consulting Group; LaVonte Stewart, founder of Lost Boyz Inc. youth nonprofit; and community activist Jay Travis, who lost twice to Mitchell for the House seat.
Peters and Travis are getting the most buzz because they’re aligned with Chicago Teachers Union, which has endorsed Preckwinkle. CTU VP Stacy Davis told POLITICO the organization isn’t lobbying for candidates. “We want people who want progressive revenue and a Chicago where black people, brown people and working families can afford it. If any candidate is interested in that, we support them.”
The Chicago Cubs were so angry about Mayor Rahm Emanuel refusing to give tax breaks to improve Wrigley Field, co-owner Todd Ricketts suggested they leave Chicago. That’s according to private emails just published by Splinter.
Ricketts, who’s also finance chairman of the Republican National committee, fumed about a 2013 story in which Emanuel boasted the he rejected the Cubs’ requests for tax breaks of $200 million, $150 million, $100 million and then $55 million. After 15 months of negotiations, Emanuel is quoted as saying, the Ricketts finally heard the word “no.”
Todd Ricketts emailed his father and siblings, saying, “I think we should contemplate moving, or at least recognize that we are maybe not the right organization to own the Cubs.” He followed up saying, “I just hate the thought of Tom having to grovel to this guy to put money into a building we already own.” He was referring to his brother negotiating with the mayor.
In another email, patriarch Joe Ricketts laments, “I have been brought up to deplore the type of value system adopted by the Mayor of Chicago. This is stating it mildly.”
The Ricketts ultimately paid $575 million for renovations. A Ricketts spokesman declined comment. After seeing the emails, Emanuel spokeswoman Shannon Breymaier told POLITICO: “The mayor told the Ricketts family the same thing he told the owners of the Hawks and the Bulls: ‘You own it, you pay for it.’ Negotiations can sometimes be heated, but the end result here was good for both the city and the Cubs.”
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— Bill Daley topped the $3 million mark in fundraising and extended his financial advantage in the Chicago mayoral race Tuesday, thanks to a round of checks that included support from a member of the Kennedy clan. Former U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy II, a Dem who held a Massachusetts Congressional seat from 1987 until 1999, gave $10,000 to Daley. Tribune’s Bill Ruthhart has the story here
— Susana Mendoza is building up her mayoral campaign staff. Christian Slater, who served as deputy press secretary on J.B. Pritzker’s campaign, has been named press secretary. Will Shih is policy director. He most recently was deputy research director for Claire McCaskill in Missouri and before that worked on Tammy Duckworth’s U.S. Senate race. Max Jenkins joins the campaign as director of advance after serving as deputy advance director for Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
— Chicago’s mayoral hopefuls are starting to release education plans. Chalkbeat says Susana Mendoza’s “urgency to release an education plan before unveiling a fiscal or economic development agenda” is sign of the prominence public education will play in the mayor’s race. Reporters Cassie Walker Burke and Adeshina Emmanuel also look at Toni Preckwinkle, Lori Lightfoot, Amara Enyia, Paul Vallas, Bill Daley and Gery Chico and their views on school closings, school boards and charter schools and more. Story here
— Video shows 2 Chicago cops didn’t see train that fatally struck them as they kept an eye on another train, Tribune staffers report. The deaths of officers Eduardo Marmolejo and Conrad Gary mark the first time in almost 30 years that two Chicago police officers were killed in the line of duty during the same incident. Tribune story here. Sun-Times reports the rail companies weren’t asked to slow the trains: Story here. Tribute story about Marmolejo here. Tribute story about Gary here.
— How Chicago became a key hub in El Chapo’s massive U.S. drug operation: Chicago twin testifies in historic trial. Tribune reporter Jeff Coen reports. Story here
— Carl Nyberg is expected to resign from Northside Democracy for America’s steering committee after writing an offensive tweet that drew outrage from the organization’s supporters. In response to the deaths of two police officers hit by a train, he wrote: “Two people too stupid to avoid getting hit by a train were given firearms & the authority to kill people by Chicago Police Department.” Supporters tweeted disgust. The organization, which endorses progressive candidates for public office, issued a statement: “NDFA wishes to make clear that the views expressed by that committee member are his and his alone. His views do not represent the view of Northside Democracy for America or any of its members.” Nyberg has had a seat on NDFA’s steering committee since 2011.
— SUE The T. Rex returns to the Field Museum with a huge new suite (PHOTOS), by Blockclub’s Kelly Bauer. Story here
COOK CO AND BURBS
— Cook County is home to the No. 1 and No. 7 fastest-growing concentrations of $200,000-plus households, reports Bloomberg. Story here
— Elk Grove Village is sponsoring the little-watched Bahamas Bowl. And that means the village’s “Makers Wanted” motto gets star treatment. Tribune’s John Keilman has the story here
The Senate on Tuesday night passed the biggest criminal justice system overhaul in decades, with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) as one of its chief sponsors. The Trump-backed bill, which passed 87-12, would create more prisoner rehabilitation programs and give judges more discretion when it comes to sentencing drug offenders. The House is expected to pass the bill this week, sending it to the president’s desk for his signature.
“It was supported by an amazing coalition of unlikely partners – progressive Democrats and conservative Republicans, law enforcement groups and civil rights groups, business leaders and faith-based organizations,” Durbin said in a statement. More here.
— A sliver of good news on Illinois pensions, by Crain’s’ Steve Strahler: Illinois’ pension funding is improving — but not as fast as in other states, according to a report from Moody’s Investors Service. Among U.S. state pension plans that have released figures this year, “all saw more funding gains than Illinois’ biggest, the $51.8 billion-asset Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System, which covers 417,292 members. The adjusted net pension liability for the plan dropped by less than 3 percent, compared with a 14 percent average decline for Indiana’s two teacher pension systems.” Story here
— The Laquan McDonald shooting keeps exposing critical flaws in Illinois’ Freedom of Information Act. “After Chicago officials denied records requests from the police shooting, the attorney general’s office did little to push the city to make documents public,” reports ProPublica’s Mick Dumke. Story here
— New Illinois legislative inspector was prosecutor, appellate judge. The Illinois Legislative Ethics Commission has picked a permanent inspector general to probe misconduct complaints against lawmakers: former prosecutor and circuit judge Carol Pope. She’ll be the first person in four years to fill the role permanently, replacing former federal prosecutor Julie Porter, who temporarily took the job last year. Story here
— Abortion foes take public funding fight back to Illinois Supreme Court, by NPR Illinois’ Brian Mackey: Story here
— Devilishly clever statue gets a rise out of the faithful, the Tribune’s Eric Zorn writes in a devilishly clever column. Story here
— Difficult challenges await Pritzker, writes Ralph Martire: Story here
— 6 quirky laws take effect starting Jan. 1, including no jury duty for nursing moms, by Q/98.5’s Mark Charvat. Story here
— GOP talks Trump off the shutdown ledge, by POLITICO’s Sarah Ferris, Burgess Everett and Eliana Johnson: Story here
— Here’s what happened the last time there was an election do-over, by POLITICO Magazine’s Steven Shepard: Story here
— Trump re-establishes U.S. Space Command, by POLITICO’s Jacqueline Klimas: Story here
— Elon Musk unveiled his underground transportation tunnel in California on Tuesday, allowing reporters and invited guests to take some of the first rides in the revolutionary albeit bumpy subterranean tube — the tech entrepreneur’s answer to what he calls “soul-destroying traffic.” Is it a prelude of events to come? Musk’s Boring Company is in early stages of bringing a similar tunnel to Chicago. Story here
State Senator-elect Ram Villivalam and Third Municipal District Judge Beatriz Santiago.
Shayndi Raice, a reporter in the Chicago bureau of the Wall Street Journal, and Dov Weiss, associate professor of Jewish studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, welcomed Zalman Leo Raice-Weiss. Pic by Aleya Cydney
In City Hall this morning for a holiday reception with reporters.
No public schedule.