Powerful Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan issued a statement last night saying he’s done nothing wrong and that he doesn’t plan to step down amid a federal bribery investigation of Commonwealth Edison that has encircled his political operation. But today Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a fellow Democrat, said that explanation won’t suffice.
“He continues to have unanswered questions hanging out there. He needs to stand up and answer those questions - I’ve said this from the very beginning,” Pritzker said, sidestepping a question about where he stands after a small but growing list of Dems have called on Madigan to resign. Pritzker has said that if the allegations in the ComEd bribery case, which implicate Madigan, are true, then the speaker should step down.
A symbolic resolution OK’d by the Cook County Board this week to redirect police and jail funds to social services — a central issue for the defund the police movement — could serve as a guide for 2021 budget talks, my Tribune colleague Alice Yin writes.
With presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden ready to name at any time now his running mate, Pritzker said he put in a good word for Illinois U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who is among a handful of candidates for the job. During an interview on the Skullduggery podcast, Pritzker said he let the Biden camp know his preference.
Starting today, new quarantine rules go into effect for Chicagoans traveling to neighboring Wisconsin, now among 22 states on the mayor’s list of COVID-19 hotspots that require residents to stay home for 14 days after a visit there. In case you missed it Gov. Pritzker, whose family has at least two residences up north, said at a news conference earlier this week, “I will adhere to that rule because I live in the city of Chicago,” he said, adding that his family would, too.
Welcome to The Spin.
From the Tribune’s Rick Pearson: Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Friday that House Speaker Michael Madigan’s declaration that he would not resign after being implicated in ComEd’s federal bribery scandal wasn’t a sufficient response and that he owes the public a full explanation.
“I believe people who serve the public interest, people who get elected to public office, have a duty to be transparent and to live up to the integrity that’s demanded by the public for their public service,” said Pritzker, who has called on Madigan to resign if it is proved he played a role ComEd’s efforts to gain political influence with him by offering jobs, contracts and payments to close allies. Read Pearson’s full story here.
As Pearson wrote yesterday, Madigan has faced growing calls to step down from his legislative post, as well as his chairmanship of the state Democratic Party, after ComEd paid a $200 million fine and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors who accused the utility of a “yearslong” scheme to provide jobs, contracts and payments to Madigan allies to win favor with the speaker.
Amid reports that he was polling fellow Democrats to gauge support, Madigan issued a statement saying in part, “I have never made a legislative decision with improper motives and any claim otherwise is unfounded” and “I have no plans to resign.”
The tally: Overall, seven Democratic legislators — Reps. Terra Costa Howard of Glen Ellyn, Stephanie Kifowit of Oswego, Kelly Cassidy of Chicago, Anne Stava-Murray of Naperville and Sens. Melinda Bush of Grayslake and Heather Steans and Iris Martinez of Chicago — have called on Madigan to at least resign his speakership.
On Friday, Democratic state Rep. Jonathan “Yoni” Pizer, of Chicago, called for Madigan to step down as speaker and as Democratic chair.
During an interview on Yahoo News’ Skullduggery podcast, Pritzker was asked whether he was backing anyone in the race to become Biden’s vice president, and he quickly responded: “Our junior senator Tammy Duckworth would make a terrific vice president of the United States. I think that she not only has proven herself to be a great legislator but also, she will show up Donald Trump as someone who ran away from service at a time when the country needed him, and he’s not somebody that stands up for the military — he runs away.”
Trump received five draft deferments during the Vietnam War. One deferment came after a physician stated in a letter that Trump suffered from bone spurs in his feet. Duckworth, a U.S. Army pilot who lost both legs when her Black Hawk helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Iraq in 2004, nicknamed Trump “Cadet Bone Spurs.”
Asked whether he had conveyed his thoughts about Duckworth to Biden, Pritzker said “Yes, I have.”
Stay tuned. Meantime, you can listen to the podcast here.
Eleven of Illinois’ 102 counties have been put on a state “warning level” as COVID-19 cases in the state rise, the Tribune’s Jamie Munks reports.
The state classifies a county as reaching a “warning level” when officials see an increase in at least two risk indicators under the state’s coronavirus resurgence mitigation plan, which allows for tighter restrictions for regions that breach levels set for various metrics.
On the map: The counties at warning level include Jo Daviess County in the state’s northwestern corner, and, in central Illinois, Cass and Sangamon counties, the latter of which includes Springfield. The remaining warning level counties are in Metro East near St. Louis and southern Illinois: Gallatin, Jackson, Johnson, Perry, Randolph, Saline, St. Clair and White, according to the state health department.
Data point 1: State public health officials said that during the prior 24 hours, there were 1,941 newly confirmed coronavirus cases across the state, and an additional 21 people with COVID-19 in Illinois had died.
Data point 2: The seven-day average statewide positivity rate is now 3.9%, and the statewide totals now stand at 178,837 known cases of COVID-19 in Illinois and 7,495 deaths since the pandemic began, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Date point 3: The state is broken down into 11 geographical zones that and data is collected from each region to monitor the outbreak. Any one of the regions could see restrictions reimposed if it shows a sustained rise in the positivity rate of testing — a rolling average compiled over seven days in a 10-day period — coupled with a sustained increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations or a reduction in the capacity of hospitals to handle a surge.
Restrictions also would be placed in a zone if the positivity testing rate exceeds 8% for three consecutive days.
Pritzker’s office says GOP congressmen’s complaints on federal pandemic relief are ‘baseless political attacks’: The Tribune’s Rick Pearson has the details here.
‘Health and safety strikes’ are on the table if schools reopen without adequate COVID-19 protections, two Illinois statewide teachers union announce: The Tribune’s Clair Hao writes about it here. But it’s unclear whether CPS would follow suit, Hao writes in a separate piece here.
Chicago parents struggle to get rid of car seats, children’s items after COVID-19 closures: ‘Recycling is really seeing a decline’: The Tribune’s Kelli Smith has the details here.
With aid expiring, the White House offered a short-term extension Thursday of a $600 weekly unemployment benefit that has helped keep families and the economy afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Democrats rejected it, saying President Donald Trump’s team failed to grasp the severity of the crisis.
Democrats are pressuring for a more sweeping bill. And while Republicans have been fighting to trim back the $600 jobless benefit in the next coronavirus package, their resolve weakened with the looming expiration of the popular benefit — and as Trump indicated that he supports keeping the full $600 benefit for now.
The U.S. House announced it would cancel its annual August recess to strike a deal, while the U.S. Senate adjourned for the weekend with leadership making a procedural move to come back and vote. (Associated Press) More details here.
‘We are in dire straits’: Chicago venues, theaters asking for economic relief from Congress: The Tribune’s Adam Lukach has the details here.
The Cook County Board of Commissioners overwhelmingly passed a symbolic resolution Thursday that supports diverting money from policing in the wake of nationwide protests demanding police budgets be defunded. It could serve as a guide to 2021 budget planning. Read the full story here.
The sole no vote yesterday came from Commissioner Sean Morrison, R-Palos Park. He said he was against the resolution because of its “bombastic” language to “castigate” law enforcement, and noted the Chicago police officers shot earlier in the morning. Commissioner Frank Aguilar, D-Cicero, reversed course from his support during Monday’s criminal justice committee meeting and voted present because he felt “very uncomfortable” with defunding and that it would be “very dangerous.”
The board decides the budgets of the courts system and Cook County sheriff’s office, which includes Cook County Jail — another target that Chicago activists have sought to defund. Sheriff Tom Dart is balking at the idea.
Neither Mayor Lori Lightfoot nor Gov. J.B. Pritzker have backed the defund police movement, but Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle on Thursday reiterated her support for reducing law enforcement funding. (Alice Yin)
Mayor Lori Lightfoot has removed a third statue of Christopher Columbus, this one at Drake Fountain on 92nd Street at South Chicago and Exchange avenues.
The Italian explorer has been condemned by activists around the country who point to his mistreatment of Indigenous people after he landed in the Americas in 1492. The Tribune’s Gregory Pratt has more details here.
Illinois State to rename floors in residence hall named after U.S. secretaries of state who owned slaves: The Tribune’s Kelli Smith has the details here.
Anti-racism rally held in Evanston after Confederate flag displayed at beach: Genevieve Bookwalter writes about it in the Evanston Review,
Other Chicago news: Lightfoot names new buildings commissioner, says he’s first Native American to head city department - The Tribune’s John Byrne has the details here.
As violence surges, police try a new version of an old solution. Can it work? Read the deep dive from the Tribune’s Dan Hinkel and Jeremy Gorner here.
For days now, I’ve been trying to get some details about former Bears great Mike Singletary’s flight aboard Air Force One with President Donald Trump to the linebacker’s home state of Texas. The White House said they traveled together Wednesday, but didn’t respond to requests for details. No word from the campaign side either.
So was it for a photo op? Last night the president tweeted a photo of them together, with the statement “Great to spend time with Mike Singletary while going to Texas. He’s one of the greatest football players ever — A strong man and a really good person. Great being with you Mike!” But no details beyond that.
Singletary recently stepped down from a Texas high school coaching job, the Dallas Morning News reported in May, and planned to focus on motivational speaking engagements and consulting. In June, Singletary, a Houston native, Baylor University alum and member of the Bears 1986 Super Bowl-winning team, participated in a Dallas roundtable discussion with the president on race relations.
Related: The president stirred the pot during the trip to Texas over a tweet thread and remarks about rolling back an Obama-era fair housing rule aimed, The New York Times writes, at combating racial segregation in the suburbs.
“The tweet, sent from aboard Air Force One as Mr. Trump traveled to Texas, was the latest example of the president stoking racial division as he seeks to win over voters in his bid for re-election. White suburban voters, particularly women, were key to his victory in 2016 but are slipping away from him,” the Times writes. Read the full story here.
Column: Realizing your childhood home had a racist covenant — Daily Southtown columnist Ted Slowik writes about a sibling unearthing what appears to be a covenant from the developer of the suburban La Grange subdivision where he grew up that reads in part: “… No part of said subdivision shall at any time be leased, conveyed nor sold to nor occupied by any person not a Caucasian …” Slowik says of the stunning revelation, “It is one thing to read about legalized racism. It is another to realize one’s own family helped perpetuate systemic inequality.” Read the full column here.
©2020 the Chicago Tribune
Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.