U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the sole Chicago-area Republican in the Illinois congressional delegation, said he has congratulated Democrat Joe Biden on his victory over President Donald Trump. Many of his GOP colleagues are slow to join him, he tells CNN, because “I think it’s just a matter of a lot of people waiting out until, you know, the president comes to terms with this.”
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s proposal to hike property taxes is facing strong headwinds from aldermen whose constituents have lost jobs as the pandemic tanked the economy. But today the measure cleared a key hurdle with the City Council Finance Committee OK’ing it by a 21-12 vote.
Whether the mayor has the 26 votes to get her larger budget proposal, which includes the $94 million property tax hike, approved in the coming days will be a test of whether she’s built the bridges necessary to ink the deal while making good on a vow to improve the communities and fortunes of those living in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.
And a little trivia: Long before he dismissed the effectiveness of mask wearing, discounted lockdown orders to curb COVID-19 1/4 u2032s spread and became President Donald Trump’s pick to join the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Scott Atlas was a Chicago guy. He was born here, went on to be a celebrated University of Illinois alum and earned his M.D. at the University of Chicago School of Medicine.
In recent days he’s come under fire for suggesting people “rise up” after Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — already the target of an alleged violent kidnapping plot that was foiled this fall — announced a new round of coronavirus restrictions there.
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Illinois’ COVID-19 death toll topped 11,000 on Wednesday, already meeting a projection the state’s top public health official recently gave for the entire year, the Tribune’s Jamie Munks writes.
And the virus is the third largest cause of death at this rate — behind heart disease and cancer, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced today. The state reported nearly 9,000 new or probable cases were diagnosed in the last 24 hours and 140 more deaths.
Lightfoot on her own Thanksgiving plans: As Gov. Pritzker shared yesterday, his immediate family will be in different states on Thanksgiving, in part, because he doesn’t feel he can leave Illinois with COVID-19 surging. Today, Mayor Lightfoot shared that her beloved mother Ann Lightfoot won’t be traveling from Ohio to Chicago for the holiday, in keeping with experts’ guidance that people from separate households avoid spending the holidays under a single roof to curb the spread of the virus.
“(W)e’re asking families to keep it close, just in your household, which is really hard and I recognize that,” Lightfoot told reporters at a news conference. “I would normally be welcoming my 92-year-old mother who, you know, when you’re that age, you don’t have as many days in front as you do behind. And it’s going to be very, very difficult to be celebrating a holiday without her. But we’ve talked, and she understands and really told me, ‘It’s not safe. I’m going to stay home.’ ”
Pritzker among bipartisan group of seven governors to pen Washington Post Op-Ed, headlined “Americans need to stay home this Thanksgiving.” Read it here.
Mayor Lightfoot to launch new COVID-19 testing site at Midway Airport: The Tribune’s Gregory Pratt has the story here.
Pfizer says its COVID-19 vaccine 95% effective, will seek approval for emergency use from FDA, The Associated Press reports.
From the Tribune’s John Byrne: Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s proposed $94 million property tax increase — part of a larger budget plan aimed at closing a $1.2 billion gap — cleared a key City Council hurdle Wednesday, setting up a vote in the full council next week.
While the mayor has been struggling to get the 26 votes needed to pass the spending plan, today’s vote may signal she’s making headway, the Chicago Sun-Times Fran Spielman reports.
The pushback on the property tax was evident at the Finance Committee hearing with even Southwest Side Ald. Edward Burke, 14th, who largely has been quiet in council meetings since his 2019 indictment on federal bribery counts, panned it. His presentation recalled decades of prosecutorial performances in committee meetings with a close questioning of the Lightfoot budget team’s reasoning.
During an unrelated news conference today, the mayor wouldn’t speculate on whether she had the 26 votes — “I take nothing for granted” — or if she might have to cast a rare tiebreaking vote if the 50-member council is evenly divided between “yes” and “no” votes.
Lightfoot’s $3.7 billion, 5-year roads and bridges proposal, out today, could sweeten the pot, Gregory Pratt reports.
Short-term, long-term political benefits: “Lightfoot officials said they would work with aldermen on projects, an olive branch of sorts to the City Council at a time when the mayor is struggling to lock in 26 votes for her 2021 budget plan,” Pratt writes. “The move also gives her a signature spending plan to point to if she runs for reelection and a way to create jobs for residents.”
Read more here about the plan, which will require the city to borrow money for projects and mandate on most projects that at least half of the staff live in Chicago, officials said.
Other news: Chicago considers changes to emergency mental-health response as recent police cases highlight the issue — My Tribune colleagues Annie Sweeney and Jeremy Gorner have the deep dive here.
Cook County’s Vital Records Division in Chicago is on the move. Residents needing copies of birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, assumed business names and notary services will no longer have to travel to the depths of the Daley Center. Now it will be in the Cook County Building, which is adjacent to City Hall, at 118 N. Clark St. in Room 120.
The relocation comes as the Cook County Clerk’s Office and the county’s Register of Deeds officially become a single office, as approved by voters in a 2016 referendum. The Clerk’s Office will officially assume the duties of the Recorder of Deeds Office on December 7. The Clerk’s Vital Records Satellite locations remain open in suburban Cook County at the five suburban courthouse locations in Markham, Bridgeview, Maywood, Rolling Meadows and Skokie or some records can be ordered online at cookcountyclerk.com/VitalRecords.
FAA approves Boeing 737 Max to fly again, a milestone for the Chicago-based company, The Associated Press reports.
Former state senator and gubernatorial candidate Daniel Biss is throwing his hat in the ring to run for Evanston mayor.
Genevieve Bookwalter reported in September that he planned to mount a bid for the office. Incumbent Mayor Steve Hagerty is not running for reelection, he announced in recent weeks.
Biss, a resident of Evanston since 2006, ran in the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial primary where he finished second to eventual winner J.B. Pritzker.
Today, he announced he’s running, on Twitter, stating in part: “As we cope with a pandemic and its ensuing economic downturn and devastating human costs, while beginning a long-overdue reckoning with the racial injustice, municipal policies are more critical than ever. I’m running for mayor because a progressive community like Evanston should be at the forefront, leading the nation into a more equitable era.”
Gov. Mancow Muller? Shock jock mulls politics, among other things, as he exits WLS-AM gig: Polarizing shock jock Mancow Muller announced yesterday he’s leaving his radio home at Chicago’s WLS-AM 890, my Tribune colleague Rick Kogan reports.
What’s next? “I have been approached by a number of people willing to bankroll a political run as a Republican,” he told Kogan. “Some people would like me to run for governor, but don’t all of our governors wind up in jail? Willie Wilson and his people would like to see me jump into politics,” he said with a reference to businessman Wilson, who just lost a U.S. Senate bid to Democrat incumbent Dick Durbin. Read the full story here.
Kim Brooks’ months-old and amazing profile of Wilson, who’s becoming a fixture in the also-ran world of Illinois politics, in Chicago Magazine makes mention of Muller. He showed up at Sunday service, pre-pandemic, in a Roseland church where Wilson had made a stop.
A Wilson aide said Muller has “been the target of some controversy. But he’s a deeply religious person. He comes to church every week.”
Brooks writes: “I was going to ask Muller how he became a Wilson acolyte, but I thought better of it when I realized he was crying — evidently moved by the music and, presumably, by Wilson himself when he stood up to preach ...”
U.S. Rep. Kinzinger, an Air Force veteran and Lieutenant Colonel in the Air National Guard, is blasting the president’s decision to pull troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq by late January.
“For President Trump to announce his plan to remove troops from Afghanistan goes against the recommendations of Pentagon officials, and contradicts what he said in 2016 about fighting terrorism. This is what then-President Obama did in Iraq and it was also a grave mistake,” Kinzinger, who hails from Channahon, wrote in a statement on Twitter.
Kinzinger also discussed it in his CNN interview, saying at this point it should be left up to Biden to decide how to handle Afghanistan. Read the CNN story here.
Dr. Scott Atlas was a regular on Fox News before President Trump tapped him in August to serve on the task force guiding the nation’s COVID-19, the AP reports.
He drew harsh criticism after his Sunday night tweet urging people to “rise up” in response to the Michigan governor’s newly announced restrictions. The comment drew backlash from Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the target of an alleged kidnapping plot that resulted in charges against more than a dozen men.
Atlas is on a leave of absence from Stanford University’s conservative Hoover Institution, where he is a senior fellow. A recent curriculum vitae lists his birthplace as Chicago. His Stanford biography also shows he has more Illinois ties, having earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He even received the 2011 Alumni Achievement Award — and he has his doctor of medicine from the University of Chicago School of Medicine.
Atlas did not respond to an email seeking comment, and a White House spokesman did not return a call.
But Stanford University issued a statement this week after Atlas’ “rise up” tweet. It reads in part: “Dr. Atlas has expressed views that are inconsistent with the university’s approach in response to the pandemic. Dr. Atlas’s statements reflect his personal views, not those of the Hoover Institution or the university.”
The University of Chicago didn’t mention him by name, but issued a statement after I asked about his views and connections to the school: “The University of Chicago has focused throughout the pandemic on supporting the health of our campus and surrounding communities and limiting the spread of the virus, informed by infectious disease experts and in accordance with federal, state and local guidelines. For example, everyone on campus must agree to uphold the ‘UChicago Health Pact’ including wearing a face covering, practicing social distancing, and adhering to other public health requirements.”
Programming note: I’ll be off the next two days but The Spin will be in the able hands of my colleagues. See you Monday.
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