Lightfoot taps a Ricketts for finance team- POLITICO

Good Wednesday morning, Illinois. What a way to kick off the season, White Sox! Luis Robert’s homer gives Sox the win and fans some hope about the season.

Programming note: Illinois Playbook is taking off next week, April 18-22. We’ll be back on April 25.

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s political operation has lined up a fundraising team, putting her a step closer to announcing a reelection bid.

Civic leaders Laura and Brooke Skinner Ricketts, commercial insurance executive Charles Smith, and restaurateur Sam Sanchez have been named finance committee co-chairs.

In a statement to Playbook, Lightfoot praised the four, saying they “spent this pandemic doing all that they can to help Chicagoans in communities across the city. I’m humbled to have their support.”

The beefed up political operation comes as candidates start lining up to challenge Lightfoot. So far Ald. Raymond Lopez and philanthropist Willie Wilson have officially joined the race.

Lightfoot’s finance team is jumping into a campaign that saw positive numbers for the first quarter of 2022. Lightfoot’s political operation saw its strongest fundraising since her 2019 election, raising more than $800,000, and reporting more than $1.7 million in cash on hand. Though political observers say as much as $15 million is needed for the 2023 contest. FYI, Wilson just gave himself $5 million.

Political pedigree: All four of Lightfoot’s fundraisers have strong civic skills, key for any fundraiser, and they also have some political bona fides.

Ricketts is a co-owner of the Chicago Cubs and chair of the team’s charity arm. She is the first openly LGBTQ woman to co-own an MLB franchise. Ricketts also is a member of the Democratic National Committee’s finance committee and co-founder of LPAC, the national political action committee that supports LGBTQ candidates.

Skinner Ricketts is co-founder and president of Beyond Barriers Labs, a marketing firm focused on women in business. She previously had marketing and brand strategy stints at CARS and Twitter.

Sanchez is a native of Mexico whose restaurants include Old Crow Smokehouse, Tree House Chicago, and Tunnel. Though politicos will know him for Moe’s Cantina, a go-to location in Chicago for Democratic fundraisers. Sanchez also is a developer — he owns EMC Construction — and is active in Chicago’s hospitality community. He serves on the board of the Illinois Restaurant Association.

And Smith is founder and CEO of CS Insurance Strategies, a minority-owned commercial insurance brokerage headquartered in downtown Chicago. His firm also has operations in California and New York. Smith served as an Illinois delegate at the Democratic National Convention for President Barack Obama.

THE SECRET DEAL OF DANNY SOLIS: We’re waiting for the book. But who will write it?

The former Chicago alderman has a big-fish story to tell. We learned yesterday that in 2018, Solis admitted to just one count of taking bribes from real-estate developers.

In exchange for fessing up, he agreed to cooperate with the feds by wearing a wire when talking to two of the most powerful Democrats in the state at the time: Ald. Edward Burke and then-House Speaker Michael Madigan.

From the Tribune’s Jason Meisner and Ray Long: “By secretly recording conversations with Burke and Madigan over the phone and in person, Solis was in uncharted waters even in a state with a long history of government cooperators, becoming a linchpin in a sprawling investigation that targeted two old-guard members of the Chicago Democratic machine.”

Solis is scheduled to be arraigned on the bribery charge today in a telephone hearing that will allow him to avoid all the pesky questions that reporters would lob at him if he were to walk through the lobby of the federal courthouse.

FROM WBEZ’s Dave McKinney: “If Solis holds up his end of the bargain with the feds, prosecutors have agreed to seek dismissal of the bribery charge filed against him last week. That means Solis could avoid prison time or a criminal conviction.” It also means he could keep collecting his city pension, which is close to $100,000.

This isn’t sitting well with Lightfoot, who said she’s “deeply offended. “This is a man who exploited his position … to enrich himself, attempting to enrich others,” Lightfoot told the Sun-Times editorial board. “There’s got to be consequences and accountability for that. It’s not enough for him to simply walk away. Sail off into the sunset. That sends the wrong message.” Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman reports.

Among Solis’ many alleged wire-tapped conversations is an unforgettable line made by Burke: “So, did we land the, uh, the tuna?” Sounds like a nice title for a book.

SPOTTED: A few hours before details of Solis’ deferred prosecution was made public yesterday, Michael Madigan (yes, the one and only!) was spotted walking down Madison Street in the Loop. He was wearing a mask, but acknowledged your Playbook host — who did a double-take and said, “Well hello!” He raised his brows and offered a wave. Or maybe he was waving me off. What a small world.

At the Track & Field Center at Gately Park in Chicago at 11 a.m. to discuss youth investments in the state’s FY23 budget.

On south Green Avenue at 9:15 a.m. for the grand opening of the Montclare Senior Residences of Englewood. 

At the Prairie-Hills Junior High School board meeting in Markham at 4 p.m. to discuss Cook County’s plans for funds provided through the American Rescue Plan Act.

Philadelphia reinstated its indoor mask mandate. Will Chicago will be next? “Dr. Rachel Rubin, senior medical officer and co-leader of the Cook County Department of Public Health said health care professionals are concerned but hopeful that COVID cases of the BA.2 subvariant — or ‘stealth omicron’ — won’t rise to levels seen in recent days in Europe and Asia,” by Tribune’s Darcel Rockett

State public health officials move away from ‘outdated’ COVID testing positivity rate in favor of hospital metrics:The change in coronavirus data reporting follows new guidelines set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which place more emphasis on hospitalizations and case rates per 100,000 residents,” by Sun-Times’ Mitchell Armentrout

— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Abdelnasser Rashid raised nearly $115,000 in less than three weeks of his campaign for state representative in the 21st District. Rashid is also first out of the box with a timely digital ad targeting incumbent Rep. Mike Zalewski for legislation he introduced that would allow cities to raise the gas tax.

NEW FALLOUT SCOOP: NBC 5’s Mary Ann Ahern reports that more emails and text messages show Secretary of State candidate Anna Valencia played a role in her husband’s lobbying firm getting a contract with the Illinois Medical District.

Valencia’s team is undaunted. She was just endorsed by New Trier Democrats.

— Republican Kathy Salvi has been endorsed by the Republicans of Wheeling Township in her bid for the U.S. Senate.

— Michael Cabonargi, who’s running for re-election on the Board of Review, has been endorsed by Chicago Federation of Labor, Chicago Fire Fighters Union Local No. 2, United Hellenic Voters of America, and New Trier Democrats.

— Kina Collins has been endorsed by the Sunrise Movement, a grassroots network of youth climate advocates, in her bid for the 7th Congressional House seat.

— Fernando “Sergio” Mojica, a former Chicago Public School principal, has been endorsed by state Rep. Lamont Robinson, Equality Illinois co-founder Art Johnston, and former Midwest Regional Director at Lambda Legal Jim Bennett. Mojica is running to replace retiring Rep. Greg Harris in the Illinois 13th District. Full list

Illinois gamblers bet $286M on March Madness: “The casino sportsbooks came out ahead by more than $14.3 million collectively on the college hoops action, but one saw its bracket bankroll go bust,” by Sun-Times’ Mitchell Armentrout

The Illinois Supreme Court has created a commission on elder law, according to a statement.

— Session Recap: Lawmakers pass limits on campaign contributions in judicial races: “It would take effect immediately, meaning it would be in effect for the 2022 election cycle, upon [Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s] signature. The bill also makes a change to ‘self-funded’ campaigns, limiting how much any individual, other than candidates and their immediate family members, may give to a judicial campaign,” by Capitol News’ Peter Hancock

Measure aimed at ending workplace bias over hairstyles on Pritzker’s desk: “The Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair — or CROWN — Act amends the Illinois Human Rights Act to make explicit that ‘race’ includes associated traits such as hair texture and styles. The bill now awaits Gov. JB Pritzker’s signature,” by Tribune’s Clare Spaulding

More details about the crime bills that passed, via WTTW’s Amanda Vinicky

Ald. Walter Burnett softened his stance on affordable housing after cash flowed: “Developer Onni Group wanted out of its obligation to include affordable units in its luxury Old Town highrises. Onni paid a Burnett friend more than $417,000 to lobby City Hall, helped sponsor a Burnett fundraiser and pledged $25,000 to a charity run by Burnett’s wife. Some tenants said the alderman abandoned them,” by Better Government Association’s David Jackson and Rachel Hinton

Chicago public schools brace for budget cuts as enrollment continues to decline: “The bucket of money that schools use to pay most teachers and staff is being slashed by $60 million, according to CPS budget documents. And that underestimates the real deficits for schools because it also must pay for the contractually promised 3.5 percent salary increase,” by WBEZ’s Sarah Karp

Hammered by complaints, push for Chicago casino faces bumpy final stretch: “When Chicago residents got a chance to pepper the teams from Rush Street Gaming, Bally’s and Hard Rock with questions, many said they were deeply concerned the proposals would snarl traffic, reduce property values, fuel crime, diminish their quality of life and trigger a wave of problematic gambling in their neighborhoods. Many seemed unconvinced that a casino was a good idea anywhere in Chicago,” by WTTW’s Heather Cherone and Patty Wetli

Catanzara defends proposal to add 2 years to his term as police union president:Former Fraternal Order of Police President Kevin Graham branded the proposal a power grab: ‘He wants to be in there for as long as possible,’” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman

Loretto Hospital CEO George Miller is out: “The news comes after Block Club Chicago revealed the hospital vaccinated ineligible people with ties to hospital administrators, including at Miller’s suburban church. It’s not clear if Miller was ousted or he resigned,” by Block Club’s Kelly Bauer and Block Club staff

Lightfoot keynotes celebration of Harold Washington’s historic election, by Sun-Times’ Andy Grimm

Ethics Board finds probable cause Ald. Sposato violated ordinance with Facebook photo, by WTTW’s Heather Cherone

Meat cost 13% more than a year ago in the Chicago area. Produce isn’t far behind, by WBEZ’s Charmaine Runes

For Chicago workers, it’s back to the office — but not back to normal, by WBEZ’s Patrick Filbin

30 years ago today, the Great Chicago Flood stunned the Loop — pouring 124 million gallons of water into city basements, by Tribune’s Kori Rumore

— ORANGE ALERT: Keep an eye out this week for orange-clad Carpenters Union members blanketing the city and other parts of the state with information about tax fraud in the construction industry.

The only Filipino restaurant in the U.S. with a Michelin star: “David Manilow talks about his latest restaurant reviews and recommendations,” AUDIO interview with Crain’s Amy Guth

— Schaumburg trustees unanimously approve trucking firm’s HQ over neighbors’ objections: “Still pending is a nearly 4-year-old purchase contract by which Experior plans to buy the site from the village of Schaumburg for $7.5 million,” by Daily Herald’s Eric Peterson

— ‘We were shocked’ | $3M in federal funding secured for LGBTQ-focused 360 Youth Services: Reps. Sean Casten and Bill Foster made the announcement Tuesday, by Daily Herald’s Kevin Schmit

Police and prosecutors investigate possible overtime abuse tied to hundreds of requests for cops to go to court, by Tribune’s Megan Crepeau

Melodie Gliniewicz sentenced to probation for role in financial misdeeds that prompted police officer husband to kill self, by Lake County-Sun’s Clifford Ward

Lake County sheriff seeks to appeal judge’s denial of a motion in criminal case against him, by Post-Tribune’s Alexandra Kukulka

Smollett drops new song declaring his innocence while he fights his conviction: “It’s like they’re hell-bent on not solving the crime” the former Empire actor sings on the track, which he posted to Instagram while he is free during his appeal. Sun-Times’ Matthew Hendrickson reports

We asked when you won a running race: Freeport City Manager Randy Bukas: “My freshman year at Marian Catholic. I won a couple of two mile races on the fresh-soph team. I didn’t run again until my mid-40s and have won my age group division in the 5K, 10K, 50K and 50 miler.”Playbooker Andy Shaw remembers winning the 50-yard dash in 6th grade. “Started a slowdown after that,” he writes.

What title would you give to a book about the Danny Solis case? Email [email protected]

Dems return to law-and-order politics:If 2020 was the year the left reordered the traditional politics of crime and policing, 2022 looks like the year centrists regained their footing and nullified those gains,” by POLITICO’s Holly Otterbein and David Siders

Team Biden scrambles to respond to claims of Russia chemical weapon use, by POLITICO’s Alexander Ward and Jonathan Lemire

New York’s public safety mayor faces subway attack while in Covid quarantine, by POLITICO’s Danielle Muoio Dunn

This cheeseburger explains your bigger grocery bill, by POLITICO’s Ximena Bustillo and Steven Overly. COOL GRAPHICS

For Jews fleeing Ukraine, Passover takes on added meaning this year, from the Associated Press

Jennifer Creasey is joining Intersect Illinois’ board of directors. Her day job is assistant VP of external and state relations for the University of Illinois System and its universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield.

— Ethan Holland has been appointed bureau chief of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau for the Cook County State’s Attorney. Interim bureau chief Renee Thibault will return to her role as deputy chief and support the transition as she prepares for retirement later this year.

Norton Rose Fulbright is opening an office in Chicago with 11 lawyers, including partners Daniel Farris, who will advise on tech and tech-enabled companies; Sameer Ghaznavi, who focuses on the renewable energy market; and Andrew Cripe, who helps companies address workforce issues. Farris is former chair of K&L Gates’ technology transactions. Ghaznavi previously chaired DLA Piper’s diversity and inclusion committee in Chicago. And Cripe led the employment advice and labor practice at Polsinelli.

After accusations of structural racism at JAMA, a Black health-equity advocate is named the journal’s editor, via Stat News

— Campus connection: Alumni from the Daily Illini and WPGU-FM, the independent student newspaper and radio station at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, have launched a multi-year fundraising campaign to help strengthen the two operations. Like newspapers and radio stations across the country, the DI and WPGU have been hit in recent years by declining ad revenue and the migration of audiences to other media. The campaign’s first year’s target is $150,000. Donate here

TUESDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to community organizer Akeya Channell for answering that this landmark in Chestnut, Ill., is considered the geographic center of the state.

TODAY’s QUESTION: Who designed these Chicago townhouses and where are they located? Extra points if you can name them, too. Email [email protected]

Congresswoman Marie Newman, state Rep. Joe Sosnowski, Ald. Stephanie Coleman, Illinois Policy Institute chief economist Orphe Divounguy, Citizen Action/IL co-director Julie Sampson, PR pro Betsy Shepherd, and APS & Associates senior associate Anthony Driver. And belated greetings to MWRD Commissioner Eira Corral Sepúlveda, who celebrated yesterday.


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