The Spin: Lightfoot, Pritzker have ‘frank’ talk on COVID-19 restrictions | Kamala Harris makes robocalls for Kim Foxx | Trump points finger at local politicians after NYT piece on Chicago tower woes

Lisa Donovan, Chicago Tribune
·10 min read

It seemed like Dodge City today as Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot sidestepped questions about apparent tension between two of the state’s most powerful Democrats over coronavirus restrictions.

Pritzker made it clear he’s not budging from his order to end indoor dining and bar service in COVID-19 hot spots such as Chicago. The governor added that he and Lightfoot, a fellow Democrat, have a “good relationship.” Speaking on “PBS NewsHour” last night, Lightfoot — as some Republicans have done — pushed back on Pritzker’s plans, arguing that additional restrictions on bars and restaurants will hurt already devastated businesses. Today, Lightfoot said she and Pritzker had a “frank” discussion about the order, which kicks in Friday in Chicago, and is moving on.

At issue: While contact tracing amid the new surge in Chicago has shown cases are largely tied to gatherings at private homes — the restrictions take aim at other gathering spots: bars and restaurants. The state says its own tracing shows that when the source of an outbreak can’t be determined, bars and restaurants typically rank high on the list of places where infected people have visited before testing positive, necessitating such restrictions.

Some Cook County residents will be hearing from Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris on why the former prosecutor thinks State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s progressive vision is the right choice for voters this November, the Tribune’s Alice Yin reports. It will come via a robocall scheduled to go out this week.

President Donald Trump this morning recalled how as a developer he put his faith in Chicago and built a skyscraper with his name on it, even as local politicians “ran the city into the ground.” It seemed to be a roundabout response to The New York Times report about the financial problems tied to Chicago’s Trump Tower. The paper reports he “defaulted on his loans, sued his bank, got much of the debt forgiven — and largely avoided paying taxes on it.”

Bottom line? “Those forgiven debts are now part of a broader investigation of Mr. Trump’s business by the New York attorney general,” the Times reports.

Welcome to The Spin.

Lightfoot vs. Pritzker

“Under pressure from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Republican state lawmakers, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday said he isn’t changing his mind about restrictions on indoor dining and bar service in Chicago even as his administration added two more collar counties” — Lake and McHenry — to the list of regions under stricter rules, a team of Tribune reporters write. In fact, he defended the move. Read the story from Jamie Munks, Dan Petrella, Gregory Pratt and John Byrne here.

At issue: While contact tracing amid the new surge in Chicago has shown cases are largely tied to gatherings at private homes — the restrictions take aim at other gathering spots: bars and restaurants. The state says its own tracing shows that when the source of an outbreak can’t be determined, bars and restaurants typically rank high on the list of places where infected people have visited before testing positive, necessitating such restrictions.

Lightfoot finds herself in some interesting political company as she balks at Pritzker’s new round of orders. That includes Jim Durkin, the Illinois House GOP leader who said that he feels for the mayor who must answer to businesses “forced into a government-mandated bankruptcy.”

Here’s where Lightfoot and some other Downstate elected leaders differ: The mayor says she won’t file a lawsuit over the governor’s shutdown order as some others have done.

What they’re saying: The governor told reporters yesterday that he and the mayor had spoken about the mitigations. Later, Pritzker’s office issued a statement that read in part: “The governor and mayor were supposed to speak on Monday, but the mayor didn’t call the governor. Staff were briefed on the metrics triggering mitigations.”

Today, the mayor said she and the governor had a “frank” conversation this morning about the matter. Pritzker said the two Democrats have a “good” relationship and talk regularly.

It’s not the first time they’ve seemed out of step with each other: In mid-March, the mayor said she didn’t expect Chicago Public Schools to close amid the pandemic, only for the governor just a few hours later to order schools closed statewide in response to the pandemic.

The optics: There’s other evidence of a disconnect between the two leaders. Yesterday, when Pritzker announced renewed restrictions for Chicago, he did it during a news conference in the south suburbs, which Lightfoot did not attend.

The mayor did not release a statement about the governor’s announcement for a couple of hours. My colleagues reported: “Hinting at behind-the-scenes drama, Lightfoot’s statement began, ‘Communication is the key to navigating through this crisis.’”

Today felt like a bit of a replay. The governor was in Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood for a morning event while the mayor was in the exact same community for an event hours later.

IHSA board goes against Gov. Pritzker, will start boys and girls basketball seasons on time, the Daily Southtown’s Pat Disabato writes here.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike’s emotional moment shows health care workers feel COVID-19 fatigue too. ‘We feel trapped in many ways.’ — Read the Tribune story here.

Cook County launches jobs training, placement program for suburbs as stricter COVID-19 measures go into effect, the Tribune’s Alice Yin writes.

Court allows FoxFire Restaurant in Geneva to stay open for indoor dining despite Gov. Pritzker’s COVID-19 closure order, my Tribune colleague Robert McCoppin is reporting.

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Inspector general finds shortcomings in how Chicago Police Department supports officers involved in shootings

The Tribune’s Annie Sweeney and Jeremy Gorner write: "An evaluation by the city’s inspector general of mandatory training for Chicago police officers involved in shootings found that not all department members complete the requirements before returning to the street.

“The report released Tuesday by Inspector General Joseph Ferguson’s office examined 52 cases since February 2017 and June 2018 when an officer had discharged their weapon." It also “includes a cautionary note, detailing the fates of two officers, who each failed to complete one part of the trainings in the wake of shootings, according to the documents reviewed by the inspector general. One committed suicide, and the second was involved in another shooting a month after the first,” Sweeney and Gorner write. Read the full story here.

Road to Nov. 3: Final Marquette poll shows Biden ahead in key swing state of Wisconsin

The Tribune’s Bill Ruthhart writes: “Former Vice President Joe Biden continues to hold a steady lead over President Donald Trump in Wisconsin, according to a final preelection Marquette University Law School poll in the state.

“Biden leads Trump 48% to 43% among voters, with 8% undecided, the poll found.” Read the full story here.

Data points: “All told, 55 polls have been conducted in Wisconsin this year and Trump has led in just three — and none since August, according to polling data tracked by Real Clear Politics. Biden’s average polling lead in recent days in the state is about 8 percentage points,” Ruthhart notes.

Texas tightens to a toss-up between Biden and Trump: Read the Tribune piece here.

Kamala Harris pitches ‘Kim Foxx is smart on crime’ message in robocall to Cook County residents, the Tribune’s Alice Yin reports.

Downtown Chicago alderman breaks from Democrats to endorse Foxx’s GOP opponent: My Tribune colleague Alice Yin has the details here.

Democratic group files second complaint against Willie Wilson’s third-party bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, the Tribune’s Rick Pearson writes.

Opinion — ‘Fair tax’ amendment? More like trust Springfield to do what they want: University of Chicago professor and government finance expert Christopher Berry writes in a Chicago Tribune op-ed that the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot has been billed as converting the state’s flat income tax to a graduated tax that rises with income. But the fine print tells another story. He writes: “Proponents describe this as a ‘fair tax’ because the new language replaces a prior stipulation that all individual income be taxed at the same rate. Yes, the amendment would allow lawmakers in Springfield to create a graduated income tax, but it doesn’t require them to do so. It would also allow them to create a regressive tax, or anything in between.”

The bottom line, he says? “Fairness is not on the ballot. Trust in Springfield is.”

Data points: As I noted in The Spin yesterday, the state’s early voting numbers are the highest they’ve been in recent history. The Tribune’s Kelli Smith takes a look at what’s happening in suburban Cook County, where there have been 550,000-plus requests for mail-in ballots this election - five times greater than the number requested in 2016. Read more here.

The New York Times examines how Trump maneuvered out of financial trouble when Chicago skyscraper proved to be a financial disappointment

The New York Times’ latest piece on the president’s finances and taxes shines a spotlight on the struggling finances of the decade-old Chicago Trump International Hotel & Tower, reporting: “The president’s federal income tax records, obtained by The New York Times, show for the first time that, since 2010, his lenders have forgiven about $287 million in debt that he failed to repay. The vast majority was related to the Chicago project.”

The Times goes on to note: “Those forgiven debts are now part of a broader investigation of Mr. Trump’s business by the New York attorney general. They normally would have generated a big tax bill, since the Internal Revenue Service treats canceled debts as income. Yet as has often happened in his long career, Mr. Trump appears to have paid almost no federal income tax on that money, in part because of large losses in his other businesses, The Times’s analysis of his tax records found.”

The Trump Organization’s chief legal officer tells the Times the company and Trump “appropriately accounted for and paid all taxes due on the forgiven debts.”

This morning, he offered a vague response to the piece while blasting elected leaders who he says have hurt the city via Twitter: “As a developer long ago, and continuing to this day, the politicians ran Chicago into the ground. I was able to make an appropriately great deal with the numerous lenders on a large and very beautiful tower. Doesn’t that make me a smart guy rather than a bad guy?”

Prices to drop for Obamacare health insurance in Illinois, even as Supreme Court considers the law’s fate

The Tribune’s Lisa Schencker writes: “Illinois residents who buy health insurance through the Obamacare exchange will see lower prices and more choices when they shop for new plans in coming weeks — news that comes as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear a case that could upend the health care law.” Read the rest of the Tribune story here.

The U.S. Supreme Court is slated to hear a case Nov. 10 over the future of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The case looks at the questions of whether the requirement that everyone buy insurance or pay a penalty is now unconstitutional because the penalty no longer exists, and, if it that provision is unconstitutional, whether the rest of the law is invalid.

Successful marijuana license applicants in Illinois to get court hearing on lawsuit against rescoring losing applicants, the Tribune’s Robert McCoppin reports.

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Twitter @byldonovan

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