Happy Monday, Illinois. For such a quiet weekend, we have a lot of news today. So get your coffee and let’s dig in.
As state lawmakers continue to wrangle a bill to expand cannabis licenses that would benefit social equity candidates, a Chicago CEO is working on the federal front to bring about equity in a different way.
Charlie Bachtell, the co-founder and CEO of Cresco Labs, is chairman of the National Cannabis Roundtable, a trade organization and lobbying group that’s working behind the scenes on behalf of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act.
The measure would allow legal cannabis companies to access traditional banking services they’re generally barred from because pot remains illegal on the federal level, enabling them and their customers to use credit instead of operating cash-only businesses. Cannabis companies have long called attention to safety concerns of only dealing in cash.
The SAFE Banking Act also would allow new small business owners in the industry to have access to capital. “Not having access to traditional banking is a huge barrier to entry for your small business owner — especially for those negatively impacted by the war in drugs,” Bachtell told Playbook. “It’s the best way to make sure they’re part of the future.”
Allowing access to banking services would end roadblocks that cannabis companies face in trying to rent space. As it is now, without institutional financing, they’re often turned down.
And it would allow cannabis company employees to secure personal mortgages. They’re now often rejected because banks won’t count their income as legitimate.
Bachtell says he and others on the Roundtable are focused on educating more than anything. The new and growing industry still is shrouded in a myth that it’s run by a crowd of tie-dyed T-shirt-wearing hippies, instead of the lab-coated scientists who produce cannabis products.
Much of the Roundtable’s work, Bachtell said, includes “making sure that regulators and legislators know that we’re professional, that it’s a professional industry developing, and it’s something they can get behind and support.”
The SAFE Banking Act has easily passed the U.S. House before, so the action is in the Senate, where Bachtell hopes it will get a nod now that Democrats are in control.
With 30 bi-partisan cosponsors, “it has a better-than-not chance of actually being approved,” Bachtell said, calling it an “important point in U.S. history.”
— Schumer: Senate will act on marijuana legalization with or without Biden, by POLITICO’s Natalie Fertig
— Where new pot shops are expected to open in Chicago — and locations of every other dispensary in Illinois, by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba WITH MAP
Conservative activist John Tillman, founder of the Illinois Policy Institute and other right-leaning groups, has started a new project aimed at electing Republicans in 2022, the Washington Post reports under the headline “stealth persuasion machine.”
The American Culture Project uses data collection and digital ads to target potential voters. That’s a standard practice in politics these days.
But what’s unusual about the American Culture Project, experts tell the Washington Post, “is how it presents its aims as news dissemination and community building. It touts transparency and civic engagement using an online network whose donors remain private — part of a bid to shape public opinion as local news outlets crater and social networks replace traditional forums for political deliberation.”
Simply put, the organization creates programming and ad messages around conservative issues but is able to skirt campaign finance laws because it’s a nonprofit. It doesn’t disclose its donors nor whether it pays federal income taxes, reports the Post.
The group is already active in five states, including Illinois, Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Virginia. It is seeking to expand to six more: Arizona, Iowa, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin.
Tillman is a familiar character in Illinois politics. Along with Illinois Policy Institute, he’s connected to the Franklin News Foundation and the Center Square.
He declined to be interviewed for the Post story, but he emailed a statement to the paper, saying, the project is focused “on reaching millions of Americans who can no longer rely on traditional media to become fully informed on a diversity of views on the issues of the day.”
Have a tip, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? Get in touch: [email protected]
At New Life Church on South Lawndale street at 11 a.m. with Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown to provide a public safety update.
In Champaign at 1:30 p.m. to discuss K-12 students returning to the classroom.
No official public events.
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Sunday reported 14 new deaths and 2,449 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus disease. That’s a total of 21,373 fatalities and 1,256,634 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from March 28 through April 3 is 3.8 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 5.1 percent.
— Illinois’ coronavirus positivity rate remains at a two-month high: “Illinois is seeing a troubling upward trend in its pandemic numbers that could lead officials to tighten restrictions on businesses once again,” by Sun-Times’ Madeline Kenney.
— Cook County warns of tightened restrictions amid spike in cases: “The threat could mean restaurants in the city and the suburbs would once again be dealing with reduced capacities and limitations. A decision about new restrictions is expected in the coming days,” by WGN/9’s Mike Lowe.
— Lightfoot defies governor, refuses to open vaccine to all due to uptick in cases: The rest of Illinois will open the vaccine to all on April 12, via ABC News.
PITCHING FOR MIDSUMMER CLASSIC: Gov. J.B. Pritzker and House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch are urging Major League Baseball to consider bringing the 2021 All-Star Game to Chicago. MLB yanked the game out of Atlanta on Friday in opposition to Georgia’s new voting law that critics say suppresses Black voters and other people of color. “In Illinois, we just expanded voting access because we want everyone who is eligible to vote to have their voice heard. And our baseball stadiums are among the most storied in the world. We would welcome the All-Star Game safely and enthusiastically,” Pritzker tweeted.
Welch was more specific, tweeting, “Hey @MLB! Now that you are looking for a new location for the Summer Classic, how about Historic Wrigley Field?” And Milwaukee’s mayor and California’s governor, meanwhile, are among other politicos around the country hoping to attract the game, too, reports ABC/7.
The Illinois Council of Convention & Visitor Bureaus chimed in, saying Chicago’s “sports facilities, workforce and small businesses are well positioned to showcase Illinois as the premiere destination for the best of the MLB,” the organization said in a statement. Chicago has 40,000 hotel rooms, convention space and two ballparks for the game and its accompanying events at the ready.
Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel predicted MLB’s exit from the big game is just the beginning of big business getting involved in political culture wars. “Corporate America has no home in the Republican Party anymore,” Emanuel said during his regular appearance on “This Week” on ABC (at 7:15 min). “This is the first of many times where corporate America is going to make a clear decision. And it’s a wakeup call to every other state.”
— 2 years after her election, Chicago Lightfoot hasn’t yet fulfilled key campaign promises: “[I]n the two years since she won that runoff election, Lightfoot has not unveiled a plan to create an elected school board. Nor has she formally introduced a plan to create civilian oversight of police, a promise she pledged to fulfill during her first 100 days in office. Lightfoot also has not yet put forward a plan to end or significantly curtail the long-standing practice that allows Chicago aldermen to hold sway over zoning matters in their individual wards,” reports Tribune’s Gregory Pratt.
— Mercy Hospital finalizes sale to keep doors open in Bronzeville: “The agreement announced Saturday means the not-for-profit Insight Chicago will keep Mercy’s doors open as a full-service, community acute care hospital in exchange for ownership of the building, its equipment and parking facilities,” by Sun-Times’ Sam Kelly.
— How Chicago’s affordable housing system perpetuates city’s long history of segregation: “Government-backed affordable housing has largely been confined to majority Black neighborhoods with high concentrations of poverty, perpetuating the city’s history of segregation,” via NBC News.
— Documentary on slaying of Michael Jordan’s father plays like a John Grisham novel: “The crime and the murder of James Jordan is really the gateway to a larger story that we’re telling in this series,” Matthew Perniciaro — a director, writer and producer of the documentary — told the Tribune’s Phil Rosenthal.
— Column: Let’s get back on the L and do our part to save public transit: “Chicago’s got one of the best public transit systems in the nation, but ridership on the CTA, Metra and Pace has plummeted during the pandemic,” by Sun-Times’ Laura Washington.
— DuPage mayoral races to watch in Tuesday’s election: “Of the 26 mayoral or village president seats up for election, 14 are contested,” reports Daily Herald’s Katlyn Smith, who details a few.
— Why the pandemic drove so many challengers to run for school board: “[T]he Covid-19 pandemic and the way school districts have handled remote learning and the return to in-person instruction have galvanized a lot of newcomers on ballots in school board races across the suburbs,” reports Daily Herald’s Madhu Krishnamurthy.
… But will school board races bring out voters?: “Voter turnout in school board elections is usually light and it’s a guess whether pandemic education issues are hot enough to get all voters to the polls,” writes Cristi Kempf for Center for Illinois Politics.
— Illinois high court removes Glendale Heights president from April 6 ballot: “The high court’s ruling, which wasn’t accompanied by an opinion, leaves the remaining candidates — Chodri Ma Khokhar and Mike Ontiveroz — to vie for village president. While incumbent Linda Jackson’s and [her opponent] Edward Pope’s names still appear on the ballot, votes for them will be thrown out,” reports the Daily Herald’s Barbara Vitello. At issue: Their nominating petitions lacked the required number of registered voter signatures.
— What’s with the obscure names of political parties in Chicago’s suburbs? “When the calendar turns to the spring municipal elections, political passions are no longer contained to Republicans and Democrats. In suburb after suburb, you’ll find parties with monikers like People Before Politics, We’re in This Together, You Are the Village’s Heart, the Common Sense Again Party, the United Party for Progress or, most expansive of all, the Party of the Past, Present and Future. Behind the oddball names, though, are serious political strategies,” by Tribune’s John Keilman.
— Giannoulias’ seven-figure campaign haul puts him in driver seat for fundraising in secretary of state race: “Added to what he already had in his account, the new fundraising gives Giannoulias over $2.1 million cash on hand for the race, which has become crowded with announced and prospective candidates since Jesse White said he won’t seek re-election,” by Sun-Times’ Rachel Hinton.
— Birds of a feather: Vrdolyak Law Group, whose attorneys are part of former Chicago Ald. Ed Vrdolyak’s family, has donated $2,500 to Casey Urlacher’s bid for mayor of Mettawa in Tuesday’s election. Vrdolyak, known as “Fast Eddie” because of his skills at backroom deals, was recently found guilty of taking part in a scheme to get bogus legal fees from a settlement between Illinois and big tobacco companies. And Urlacher was pardoned by former President Donald Trump for his part in an illegal sports gambling operation.
— EVANSTON REPARATIONS are historic — and also fragile: “Despite the city’s reputation as a progressive stronghold, and the council’s resolution to “end structural racism and achieve racial equity,” pitfalls could derail efforts to enact meaningful, transformative change for the city’s roughly 12,000 Black residents,” by WBEZ’s Odette Yousef.
— Cook County aims to disrupt the conviction-to-deportation pipeline: “The Cook County Public Defender’s Office estimates that its staff represents hundreds of noncitizens in felony cases at any given time — all of which could result in such collateral consequences. A new immigration unit within the public defender’s office aims to disrupt this conviction-to-deportation pipeline. Working with public defenders, prosecutors, and community groups, the unit will ensure that noncitizens are warned when a plea deal could cost them their status and their home,” Injustice Watch’s Carlos Ballesteros writes.
— Community groups push McHenry Board to end contract with ICE: Local officials are being urged “to end the contract that allows the McHenry County Jail to detain people in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody. On Thursday, the contract is expected to come up as a topic of discussion during the county’s finance and audit committee’s public meeting, said Peter Austin, the county administrator,” by Sun-Times’ Elvia Malagón.
— Pritzker signs Sen. Julie Morrison’s vote-by-mail expansion legislation into law: “Local election authorities may now establish permanent ballot drop boxes, which are to be opened and locked only by election authorities, and may also authorize curbside voting during early voting periods and on Election Day. Both provisions were used in the November 2020 elections,” reports Daily Herald’s J.J. Bullock.
— Pritzker signs bill boosting CTU bargaining rights: “The governor’s move lengthens the list of topics the union can bargain over — and loosens limits on strikes,” by Crain’s Greg Hinz.
— Nonprofit groups that care for disabled people say state of Illinois needs to step up: “Illinois is one of the worst states for funding community-based services for this vulnerable group. About 18,000 people are on a waiting list for services,” by Sun-Times’ Mark Brown.
— In-person registration for mobile sports bets returning to Illinois: “Pritzker decision not to renew Executive Order 2020-41 restores Sports Wagering Act to full effect,” by SportsHandle’s Chris Altruda.
— FOIA for beginners: A state law guarantees access to public records. But it isn’t always that easy, reports Tribune’s Courtney Kueppers
— LGBTQ and single prospective parents would have access to fertility benefits that hetero couples under proposed law: “Millions of Illinoisans excluded from the protections of a state law that requires large companies that offer pregnancy benefits to also cover fertility treatments such as IVF. The catch: To qualify, you first have to try to get pregnant during a full year of unprotected sexual intercourse. The heterosexual sex requirement effectively disqualifies LGBTQ people and people without partners, according to state Rep. Margaret Croke, D-Chicago, who recently introduced a bill that would extend protection to those groups,” by Tribune’s Nara Schoenberg.
— House could consider allowing cities to impose rent control policies: “Rep. Will Guzzardi, who chairs the Housing Committee in the House of Representatives, warned of a looming housing crisis on the horizon when the state and federal eviction moratoriums come to an end,” reports WCIA’s Mark Maxwell.
— In fireworks-wary Illinois, ‘fountain’ sparklers are debated, by the AP’s John O’Connor
How Trump steered supporters into unwitting donations — including from Illinois: “Online donors were guided into weekly recurring contributions. Demands for refunds spiked. Complaints to banks and credit card companies soared. But the money helped keep Donald Trump’s struggling campaign afloat.
“But for some Trump supporters like Ron Wilson, WinRed is a scam artist. The 87-year-old retiree in Illinois made a series of small contributions last fall that he thought would add up to about $200; by December, federal records show, WinRed and Trump’s committees had withdrawn more than 70 separate donations from Wilson worth roughly $2,300. ‘Predatory!’ Wilson said of WinRed. But like multiple donors interviewed by the Times, Wilson held Trump himself blameless, saying, ‘I’m 100 percent loyal to Donald Trump.’”
Under federal scrutiny, Madigan, Solis collecting lucrative government pensions: “The former speaker just got his first check amid an ongoing investigation. The ex-alderman has gotten nearly $170K since resigning. Pensions of other pols facing probes are uncertain,” by Sun-Times’ Tim Novak.
— Man, 18, stole Cook County judge’s vehicle during 3-day ‘crime spree,’ prosecutors say: “After police officers smashed out the windows of his stolen Audi, the teen allegedly posted a livestream to Facebook that showed him smoking marijuana with a gun in his lap as he bragged about losing the cops,” by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba.
— Family of 13-year-old fatally shot by cop decries alleged gang directive to shoot police cars: An alert issued last week said factions of the Latin Kings gang planned to retaliate after the police killing of Adam Toledo, reports Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba.
… Video of boy’s fatal shooting by Chicago police to be released, by Tribune’s Annie Sweeney and Jeremy Gorner
— Big effort aims to elect candidates with science backgrounds: “The group was also an early supporter of registered nurse Lauren Underwood, who won her 2018 election for the U.S. House from Illinois and has since launched the Black Maternal Health Caucus,” by the AP.
— Opinion: Underwood details the stimulus bill also upgrades the ACA, in the Washington Post
— Biden’s next big bill could revive — or bury — his bipartisan brand, by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett and Marianne LeVine
— Andrew Yang’s Asian American superpower, by POLITICO’s Tina Nguyen
— Cheney snags victories ahead of her next battle with Trumpworld, by POLITICO’s Melanie Zanona
— Inside the White House plan to sell its massive infrastructure proposal, by POLITICO’s Natasha Korecki and Megan Cassella
— Biden’s green energy plans clash with pledge to create union jobs, by POLITICO’s Rebecca Rainey and Eric Wolff
TRIBUNE SALE UPDATE: “A Maryland hotel magnate and a Swiss billionaire have made a bid for Tribune Publishing Co. that the newspaper chain is expected to favor over a takeover deal it already struck with hedge fund Alden Global Capital LLC. A special committee of Tribune’s board has determined that a roughly $680 million, $18.50-a-share bid submitted late last week by Choice Hotels International Inc. Chairman Stewart Bainum and Hansjörg Wyss is reasonably likely to lead to a proposal that is superior to Alden’s $635 million deal,” the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.
Tahman Bradley, anchor and political reporter for WGN-TV Channel 9, married Jennifer Thomas, an attorney at Horwood, Marcus & Berk, during a private ceremony Saturday. The couple plans to hold a public reception at a later date. Glam pic!
FRIDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to the American Bar Association Program Specialist Alex Hawley for correctly answering that CTA’s second Loop-shaped track once operated in the Stock Yards. And Thresholds COO Mark Furlong informs that there was a third loop track in Jackson Park for the Columbian Exposition.
h/t to political consultant Bill Velázquez for knowing the name of the Stock Yards track: “Packingtown.”
TODAY’s QUESTION: In what year did Chicago complete its final annexation, and what was the last bit added? Email to [email protected].
Claudia Rodriguez, director of government and community affairs for Noble Network of Charter Schools, and Lindsy Fagerstrom, senior assistant director of admissions at Loyola University Chicago.