The Spin: Illinois launches vaccine lottery | Lightfoot continues to fight elected school board bill | Racism declared a public health crisis in Chicago

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Illinois officials have dangled free Six Flags tickets, concerts, alcoholic drinks and haircuts to encourage residents to get the coronavirus vaccine. Now, anyone who has gotten at least the first dose of the vaccine in Illinois before July 1 could stand to win between $100,000 to $1 million or a college savings plan worth $150,000.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the much-anticipated vaccine lottery today after hinting some form of a sweepstakes was in the works earlier this month. Such an enticing reward could prove fruitful for the state’s vaccination rate, which has plunged in the last couple of months.

Similar efforts have rolled out in other states. The idea comes as nationwide, the most eager Americans have already gotten their shots, and others who are hesitant or unable to seek out an appointment remain the focus of public health officials.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said it isn’t over when it comes to pushing through her own version of an updated Chicago Public Schools board, despite the Illinois House passing a bill for a fully elected CPS governing body yesterday. Though Pritzker said he would sign the legislation, Lightfoot remained confident she could squeeze out significant revisions before it’s too late.

Welcome to the Spin.

Illinois to offer $7 million in cash and $3 million in scholarships in lottery for residents who’ve received a COVID-19 vaccination

A total $10 million in cash prizes and scholarships will be distributed among dozens of lucky Illinoisans’ wallets this summer thanks to a vaccine lottery announced by Pritzker today, my colleague Dan Petrella reports.

Any Illinois resident who has been vaccinated with at least one dose in the state is automatically entered via the state vaccination database. The $10 million will be divided into $7 million in cash prizes for adults and $3 million in college savings scholarships for kids 12 and up.

Out of that $7 million, three adults will get $1 million, 18 will get $100,000 and another 22 will also get $100,000. The last batch will be divided into two residents from each of the states’ 11 regions designated under Pritzker’s coronavirus response plan, which split off Chicago as its own region.

Out of the $3 million, nine children will get $150,000 in scholarship prizes with the Bright Start 529 College Savings award program. Another 11 children will get that same amount, but each will come from one of Pritzker’s 11 regions.

There are some indications that vaccine lotteries can at least briefly boost uptake: In Ohio, there was a 43% jump in statewide vaccinations after Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s May 12 announcement of the $1 million prize. However, numbers have again dropped since then.

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot declines to concede defeat on elected school board bill passed by lawmakers, says there’s still time to negotiate

My colleagues Petrella, Rick Pearson and Gregory Pratt report that Lightfoot today brushed off Springfield’s impending move to finalize an elected school board for Chicago Public Schools. Though the legislation approved by both chambers would be a huge blow to the mayor, she said it’s not over yet and she plans to jam through significant changes.

That’s despite Pritzker today saying he will sign the legislation if it reaches his desk. After the House passed the bill in a 70-41 vote yesterday, a motion to reconsider put it on hold, giving Lightfoot a chance to have what she said were “real negotiations for the first time” in months with lawmakers. House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch said the hold would last for a couple of weeks.

Out of Lightfoot’s long list of objections to the bill, she highlighted two main “deficiencies” today: the size of the 21-member body and lack of campaign finance “guardrails” that she fears will lead to exorbitant political spending. But bill sponsor Rep. Delia Ramirez, a Chicago Democrat, said she would not budge on the size of the new board.

Lightfoot also tried to downplay the political setback that the passage of an elected school board bill inflicted on her. “It’s not a defeat for me,” she said. “It’s absolutely not a defeat for me.”

Still, pushing through her alternative of an 11-member hybrid body with mostly mayoral appointments to govern CPS has been a priority for her despite running on the idea of an elected school board during the 2019 election.

Chicago Ald. Pat Dowell, one of five announced candidates for the Democratic nomination for secretary of state, is proposing the office create a personal dashboard for each resident featuring available services that could be viewed on their mobile devices and the agency’s website, Pearson reports.

“Imagine being able to get a renewal sticker for your license plates, become an organ donor, and renew your driver’s license online without spending hours waiting in line,” Dowell, 3rd, said in a statement.

In addition to Dowell, other announced Democratic candidates in the race to succeed longtime Secretary of State Jesse White include former state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia, Chicago Ald. David Moore, 17th, and state Sen. Michael Hastings of Frankfort.

With the primary contest still more than a year away, Giannoulias unveiled a new online ad that features his endorsement from U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and members of 22nd Ward Independent Political Organization in a bid for support from the Latino community.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s midnight curfew on packaged liquor sales advances to full City Council, my colleague John Byrne reports.

Following similar moves in cities around US, Mayor Lori Lightfoot declares systemic racism a public health crisis in Chicago

In announcing that racism is now a public health crisis in Chicago, Lightfoot today pointed out the life expectancy gap between white and Black Chicagoans is more than nine years, Pratt reports.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is literally killing us,” Lightfoot said, two years into her first term as the city’s first Black woman mayor — and more than a year after the COVID-19 pandemic laid bare racial health disparities in Chicago.

Chicago will be following several other cities, including Denver; Columbus, Ohio; and Boston, in the new measure. Milwaukee County in 2019 was one of the first governments to declare racism a public health crisis.

The announcement was largely symbolic, and Lightfoot has weathered criticism from progressives over racial justice issues in policing and curbing pollution in industrialized neighborhoods, but the city will spend $9 million from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on six regions of the city to boost wellness.

Longtime state representative and former Chicago mayoral candidate La Shawn Ford wants friends and constituents to know he’s alive and healthy because he didn’t stop advocating on his own behalf when a doctor told him he was too young to need a prostate cancer screening, Petrella reports.

After continuing to push for testing, Ford, a Democrat who’s represented a West Side and west suburban district in the Illinois House since 2007, was diagnosed with prostate cancer at Northwestern Medicine in October, had surgery in January and is now cancer free.

Ford went public with his diagnosis and treatment Thursday during a news conference at Northwestern Memorial Hospital to call attention to the importance of prostate cancer screenings and the prevalence of the disease among Black men in particular.

“There were no signs,” Ford said. “I think men should know that you will not have signs until sometimes it’s too late.”

Mayor Lightfoot promised to reform the Chicago Police Department. Two years in, racial disparities remain in uses of force and arrests, and city is behind on court-ordered changes.

My colleague Dan Hinkel writes, “Mayor Lori Lightfoot fueled her political ascent with promises to reform policing, but after two years under her guidance the Chicago Police Department’s present looks much like its past.

Black and Latino people account for more than 9 out of 10 arrests and uses of force by police, a disparity just as pronounced as it was under Rahm Emanuel, the Tribune found.

The percentage of Black cops is about the same as it’s been — just over 20% — despite Lightfoot’s calls to diversify the police force.”

As Hinkel lays out, some of the criticisms include not enough training on how officers can avoid using force, persisting racial disparities in arrests and use of force, failure to make deadlines on the court-ordered consent decree and long delays in civilian oversight of the department.

City Hall and police officials declined Hinkel’s requests for interviews with Lightfoot and police Superintendent David Brown, and did not answer written questions.

Thousands of Cook County employees plan to strike for one day next Thursday, June 24, according to two unions who represent those workers. Should a deal for a contract falter in the next week, staffers will picket Stroger and Provident hospitals, the Cook County downtown offices, Cook County Jail and county highway maintenance facilities.

The workers are represented by Service Employees International Union Local 73 and National Nurses United. SEIU Local 73, which represents almost 2,500 county employees, held a 12-hour strike almost six months ago over the same contract negotiations, a move that was condemned by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

“The continued disrespect shown by the County has resulted in our members overwhelmingly voting to strike for the second time in six months,” SEIU Local 73 President Dian Palmer said in a statement. “It is time for Cook County to take these negotiations seriously. Our union isn’t striking because we want to, we will be striking because we have to.”

Preckwinkle released a statement today acknowledging the concerns over short staffing, which she partially blamed on the pandemic, and said issues with personal protective equipment and pandemic pay have been worked out. She also said the rise in employee health care contributions is needed after six years of no increases.

“Cook County will continue to bargain in good faith to reach fair, reasonable, and equitable collective bargaining agreements with all the unions representing its employees,” Preckwinkle wrote.

Madigan ally pleads guilty in Oak Lawn red light-camera bribery case

A south suburban ally of former House Speaker Michael Madigan today joined the ever-growing club of former elected officials and political operatives who have fallen into line with a federal corruption investigation, my colleagues Ray Long and Jason Meisner report.

John O’Sullivan, a onetime Worth Township supervisor and state lawmaker, admitted to conspiring with longtime political operative Patrick Doherty and an executive representing red-light camera company SafeSpeed to pay $4,000 in bribes to receive the official support of an Oak Lawn trustee to put the ticketing cameras at additional intersections.

O’Sullivan worked as a paid “sales consultant” for SafeSpeed, moonlighting in the job to help the company expand in the west and southwest suburbs. Doherty also has been charged as part of the same scheme and is awaiting trial.

Preliminary sentencing guidelines call for up to two years in prison, according to O’Sullivan’s 17-page plea agreement. As part of his deal, O’Sullivan must provide truthful testimony when called upon. If he does so, prosecutors will recommend a reduced sentence.

Pritzker’s budget point man, former Illinois Comptroller and current Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes, is leaving the administration for a job in the private sector, the two said Thursday, Petrella reports.

Hynes, who served three times overseeing the state’s checkbook as comptroller beginning in 1999, returned to state government in 2019 from his job as a senior executive at UBS Asset Management. Hynes made a bid for governor himself in 2010, staging an unsuccessful challenge to then-Gov. Pat Quinn in the Democratic primary, losing by fewer than 10,000 votes.

In addition to his taxpayer-funded salary of $139,000, Hynes is one of a number of top Pritzker aides whose pay is doubled out of the billionaire governor’s personal fortune.

Taking over as the governor’s top budget adviser will be former state Sen. Andy Manar, a Democrat from Downstate Bunker Hill who resigned his seat in January to join the administration as a senior adviser. His publicly funded salary also is $139,000 and doubled out of Pritzker’s pocket.

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