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Illinois Playbook: Welch tapped a Californian for advice

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Friday, November 19, 2021  |  Article  |  Shia Kapos

TGIF, Illinois. Sun-Times’ Mark Brown slept on the street last night to call attention to homelessness. We'll be watching for his report, and you can support him here.

 

TOP TALKER

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch rose so quickly to the top of the General Assembly that he found himself learning on the job and seeking out mentors as he tried to guide his caucus through a historic legislative year.

 

Welch spoke to former House Speaker Michael Madigan on three different occasions during the legislative session, and he turned to another veteran politician for insight, too: Willie Brown, who served as speaker of the California Assembly for 15 years. He and Welch are part of a very small club of Black legislators to serve as speaker. Brown says just six in the nation's history.

 

Welch first sought out Brown when he was trying to rally votes to become Illinois speaker in January. “He gave me some advice and encouragement and said when you get this done come out and we’ll talk,” Welch told Playbook Thursday.

 

Earlier this week, Welch took him up on the offer and met Brown at his San Francisco office. “An opportunity to sit down with Willie Brown in his town? I couldn’t turn that down,” he told Playbook.

 

Welch had also talked to Brown by phone during the legislative session “to run a few scenarios by him for his advice.” The subject each time was related to member management issues. “It’s the hardest part of the job,” Welch says.

 

Illinois House Speaker Emanuel "Chris" Welch, right, visited former, longtime California Speaker Willie Brown at his San Francisco office earlier this week.

Illinois House Speaker Emanuel "Chris" Welch, right, visited former, longtime California Speaker Willie Brown at his San Francisco office earlier this week. | Photo courtesy of Speaker Welch

 

In a separate interview, Brown told Playbook he was equally interested in talking to Welch. “He won the speakership in a way for which I am envious. It took him 48 hours from his own vote to the 70 votes he got for the job — and he only needed 60. It took me almost four years to get that,” chuckled Brown. “I admire how quickly he was able to put it together, but I also reminded him that the job is about being speaker for the entire House, not just a segment of the House... not just the caucus.”

 

Welch says it’s advice he takes to heart. The Illinois speaker also has read Brown’s book about a being speaker and talked to him about the challenge of being a Black man in the position.

 

“The challenge of being a Black speaker is the challenge of being a Black man in America,” Welch said. “We are under a greater microscope. It makes you want to work harder. That shows I think in the work we did this past session. We did some monumental work.”

 

Welch’s journey to learn the job of speaker also allowed him to talk to another San Francisco politician — Speaker Nancy Pelosi. During a trip to D.C. a few months ago, Pelsoi told Welch to remind legislators “that diversity is our strength but power comes from unity.”

 

And funny thing, Welch said: Pelosi got some advice on how to be speaker from Brown, too.

 

THE BUZZ

Rahm Emanuel was cleared of wrongdoing in the Laquan McDonald police shooting case by the former Chicago inspector who investigated the hot-button situation.

 

“The facts simply do not exist” to support a cover-up out of City Hall, Joe Ferguson wrote in a letter to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey. The committee is considering the former Chicago mayor for an appointment as U.S. ambassador to Japan.

 

The letter, obtained by Playbook, may ease fears in Congress about Emanuel’s involvement in the case that roiled his administration, though it won’t as easily wipe away concerns in Chicago. Ferguson wrote that it’s “appropriate” to ask questions. But the presumption of Emanuel holding back information “are not fair, because they are not grounded in fact, because the facts simply do not exist.”

“I know,” Ferguson adds. “I was the inspector general for the city of Chicago leading the office which investigated the city’s handling of the aftermath of the McDonald murder.”

 

Ferguson’s letter is dated Oct. 21, the day after Emanuel took questions from the Senate panel and less than a week after Ferguson left his IG post.

 

Tribune’s Gregory Pratt and Bill Ruthhart report: “Records released by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to the Tribune on Thursday show Emanuel also received letters of support from Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White; top officials with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Tom Schieffer, a former ambassador to Australia and Japan; and Joseph Nye Jr., a professor emeritus at Harvard University and former assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs.

 

Emanuel is expected to get bipartisan support from the full Senate, though we still don’t know when that vote will take place. The foreign relations committee approved his nomination a few weeks ago, with Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, who cited Emanuel’s handling of the McDonald shooting among his concerns, as one of two progressive Democrats voting no.

 

Have a tip, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? Get in touch: skapos@politico.com

 

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WHERE'S J.B.

No official public events.

 

WHERE'S LORI

At Millennium Park at 6 p.m. to attend the 108th Annual City of Chicago Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. (Feels like normal!)

 

WHERE'S TONI

No official public events.

 

COVID-19 UPDATE

— Illinois suffers highest Covid-19 caseload in two months, spikes in hospitalizations, positivity, deaths: ‘We are in a surge’: “Cases have jumped nearly 30 percent statewide over the past week, including an 18 percent spike in Chicago,” by Sun-Times’ Mitchell Armentrout.

 

— States leapfrog feds on Covid boosters for all: “The moves to preempt federal guidance have become just the latest point of frustration for Biden administration officials who have spent the last three months managing the complicated booster rollout,” by POLITICO’s Lauren Gardner.

 

— FDA said to be ready to endorse Pfizer and Moderna boosters at once, by POLITICO’s Adam Cancryn

 

— With Covid continuing to damage patients’ lungs, Northwestern announces new institute focused on lung care, thanks to $20M donation, by Tribune’s Lisa Schencker

 

THE STATEWIDES

— Illinois unemployment falls to 6%: “Industry sectors with the biggest job gains during the month were professional and business services, which added 17,700 jobs; leisure and hospitality, which added 8,400 jobs; and trade, transportation and utilities, which gained 7,700 jobs,” reports Capitol News’ Peter Hancock.

 

— Deerfield’s assault weapons ban upheld by deadlocked Illinois Supreme Court, by Pioneer Press’ Steve Sadin.

 

— Parents of murdered children demand steeper penalties for killing kids: “State Rep. La Shawn Ford, wants to revisit the issue of capital punishment for those who murder minors. ‘A capital offense means that you will go to jail for life or you will be put to death for the killing of a baby in the state of Illinois,’ Ford said,” by WTTW’s Amanda Vinicky.

 

— School superintendents demand local control in Covid-19 policies: ‘The kids are telling us, go and fight for us’: “The public educators — many of whom represent public school districts in central and southern Illinois — joined forces at Thursday’s state board meeting to express frustrations with Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s school mask mandate, and urged the board to allow schools to rely on local metrics to decide what is best for their communities,” by Tribune’s Karen Ann Cullotta.

 

— Meet the little-known state task force that will find your stolen car: “Its mission is simple: Recover as many vehicles as possible, using sophisticated license plate readers that can spot stolen cars in seconds,” by WGN 9’s Lourdes Duarte and Andrew Schroedter.

 

— Deere workers approve 3rd contract offer, will end strike, by the Associated Press

 

— Six Illinois scientists rank among world's most influential, via Illinois News Bureau

 

— Illinois comptroller brings turkeys to Cairo, via The Southern

 

BUSINESS OF POLITICS

— Chris Christie says Rep. Adam Kinzinger’s message to GOP is lost in personal attacks on Trump: “Christie, speaking at an author’s forum at the Union League Club of Chicago, also said he believes Trump would lose a 2024 bid to regain the White House because his persona has alienated suburban voters. And he said he did not expect Illinois to be treated as a ‘top-tier’ state for outside GOP money in races for governor or U.S. Senate next year,” by Tribune’s Rick Pearson.

 

— 41st Ward Dems reveal their 2022 slating preferences: They support Kari Steele for Cook County assessor, Tom Dart for county sheriff, Karen Yarbrough for county clerk, Toni Preckwinkle for county board president, Michael Cabonargi for Board of Review, Alexi Giannoulis for secretary of state, and for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, they like Theresa Flynn, Mariyana Spyropoulos, Yumeka Brown, and Daniel Pogorzelski.

 

CHICAGO

— Lightfoot announces $126 million in projects for Humboldt Park, South Shore: “The developments covering housing, community services and historic renovations are part of the mayor’s Invest South/West program for equitable investment,” by Sun-Times’ Dvid Roeder.

 

— Lightfoot urged to give Police Supt. David Brown a few more months to turn around ‘crime pandemic’ or dump him: “I am not at all ... happy with CPD and their leadership. They need to step up in a big way and stop this crime pandemic themselves,” Ald. George Cardenas (12th), the mayor’s deputy floor leader, told the Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.

 

— Studio head who helped bring down Teamsters boss tied to illegal gambling ring: “Already linked to 2 big federal cases, Cinespace Chicago Film Studios’ Alex Pissios also owed money to Vincent DelGiudice, who’s pleaded guilty to running a gambling ring with ties to a mob-connected bookie,” by Sun-Times’ Tim Novak and Robert Herguth.

 

— Christkindlmarket opens today: Celebrating 25 years in Chicago with new mug design and keepsake ornament, by Tribune’s Kori Rumore

 

COOK COUNTY AND COLLARS

— Cannabis, gambling and online sales taxes, along with pandemic relief funds, boost Cook County’s bottom line: “The board met for just half an hour before voting 17-0 in favor of the proposal, which saw only small changes since Preckwinkle unveiled it a little over a month ago. It was the second time [Cook County Board President Toni] Preckwinkle passed a budget without dissent during the coronavirus pandemic, which officials said had capsized county finances but did not inflict as much disaster as feared thanks to earlier fiscal decisions and federal stimulus funds,” by Tribune’s Alice Yin.

 

... It’s Cook County’s ‘largest budget ever’, reports WBEZ’s Kristen Schorsch

 

— State panel scrutinizes Arlington Park's bid to keep its OTBs open: “Arlington (and owner Churchill Downs Inc.) has applied for intertrack wagering location licenses that would maintain as many as six Trackside OTBs throughout 2022… But there's disagreement about whether such a move is legal under state law, considering Arlington Park is closed and officials didn't apply for live race dates in 2022,” by Daily Herald’s Christopher Placek.

 

— Waukegan casino license delayed as spurned tribe complains of ‘rigged process’: “A Wisconsin tribe claims Waukegan’s casino developer selection process was “rigged,” but the north suburb counters that the “scorched earth lawsuit” is designed to protect the tribe’s Milwaukee casino from competition,” by Sun-Times’ Mitchell Armentrout

(12th), the mayor’s deputy floor leader, told the Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.

 

— Studio head who helped bring down Teamsters boss tied to illegal gambling ring: “Already linked to 2 big federal cases, Cinespace Chicago Film Studios’ Alex Pissios also owed money to Vincent DelGiudice, who’s pleaded guilty to running a gambling ring with ties to a mob-connected bookie,” by Sun-Times’ Tim Novak and Robert Herguth.

 

— Christkindlmarket opens today: Celebrating 25 years in Chicago with new mug design and keepsake ornament, by Tribune’s Kori Rumore

 

COOK COUNTY AND COLLARS

— Cannabis, gambling and online sales taxes, along with pandemic relief funds, boost Cook County’s bottom line: “The board met for just half an hour before voting 17-0 in favor of the proposal, which saw only small changes since Preckwinkle unveiled it a little over a month ago. It was the second time [Cook County Board President Toni] Preckwinkle passed a budget without dissent during the coronavirus pandemic, which officials said had capsized county finances but did not inflict as much disaster as feared thanks to earlier fiscal decisions and federal stimulus funds,” by Tribune’s Alice Yin.

 

... It’s Cook County’s ‘largest budget ever’, reports WBEZ’s Kristen Schorsch

 

— State panel scrutinizes Arlington Park's bid to keep its OTBs open: “Arlington (and owner Churchill Downs Inc.) has applied for intertrack wagering location licenses that would maintain as many as six Trackside OTBs throughout 2022… But there's disagreement about whether such a move is legal under state law, considering Arlington Park is closed and officials didn't apply for live race dates in 2022,” by Daily Herald’s Christopher Placek.

 

— Waukegan casino license delayed as spurned tribe complains of ‘rigged process’: “A Wisconsin tribe claims Waukegan’s casino developer selection process was “rigged,” but the north suburb counters that the “scorched earth lawsuit” is designed to protect the tribe’s Milwaukee casino from competition,” by Sun-Times’ Mitchell Armentrout

 

STEP INSIDE THE WEST WING: What's really happening in West Wing offices? Find out who's up, who's down, and who really has the president’s ear in our West Wing Playbook newsletter, the insider's guide to the Biden White House and Cabinet. For buzzy nuggets and details that you won't find anywhere else, subscribe today.

 

 

 

CAMPAIGN MODE

— Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau files to run in for Congress in the 6th: “Currently, the 6th District is represented by Democratic incumbent Congressman Sean Casten. The newly remapped boundaries would pit Democrat Marie Newman against Casten in a primary contest. Pekau has registered to run as a Republican,” by Patch’s Eileen O'Gorman.

 

READER DIGEST

We asked who you’d like to know more about: State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, state Sen. Mike Simmons, and Democratic funder and media mogul Fred Eychner (time for some Playbook Q&As).

 

And apologies to Playbooker and loyal reader Wayne Williams, for fumbling the spelling of his name yesterday

 

For Monday, if you could mentor your younger self, what would you say (in one sentence)? Email to skapos@politico.com

 

FROM THE DELEGATION

— Prioritizing federal money: With federal funding on its way, now comes the elbowing to get priority for projects. Members of the Illinois congressional delegation have written a letter, signed first by Rep. Lauren Underwood, to Gov. J.B. Pritzker asking that he “prioritize” Member Designated Projects, or MPDs, which were approved by the House in July. “We urge you to prioritize our MDPs for Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funding to the maximum extent possible. The MDPs we selected represent the best of Illinois and meet many of our communities’ most urgent transportation needs, from Galena to Naperville,” according to the letter signed by all the Illinois Democrats serving in Congress.

 

— Rep. Darin LaHood's Route 66 passed unanimously out of committee. The House Natural Resources Committee unanimously passed H.R. 3600, Route 66 National Historic Trail Designation Act. The legislation would designate Route 66 as a National Historic Trail, “which will expand economic and historic development opportunities across all communities and states Route 66 runs through,” LaHood said in a statement.

 

THE NATIONAL TAKE

— Biden has a major economic decision to make and he can’t seem to pull the trigger, by POLITICO’s Jonathan Lemire

 

— Pennsylvania Republicans baffled by Dr. Oz’s Senate bid, by POLITICO’s Holly Otterbein and Natalie Allison

 

— Meet Bonnie and Clyde of the MAGA world, by David Freedlander in POLITICO magazine.

 

— The Kyle Rittenhouse jury ends its third day of deliberations without a verdict, by Tribune’s Christy Gutowski, Stacy St. Clair and John Keilman

 

IN MEMORIAM

— Jerry L. Martin, one of Illinois’ last pen-and-paper court stenographers, dead at 82: “‘It’s amazing what he could do with a pen and a pad of paper, the same as we have now with tape recorders, computers,’ Judge Shelley Sutker-Dermer said,” by Sun-Times’ Maureen O'Donnell.

 

— Rev. William G. ‘Bill’ Kenneally, popular longtime St. Gertrude’s Parish pastor, dead at 85: “He pushed Catholic church officials for change, worked for social justice and was known for welcoming all to his North Side church,” by Sun-Times’ Maureen O'Donnell.

 

TRANSITIONS

Congrats to Danny Chun, VP of corporate communications at Illinois Health and Hospital Association, who is retiring.

 

TRIVIA

THURSDAY’s ANSWER: The black-tie dinner of the 1989 National Governors Association Summer Meeting was held on the bottom floor of the James R. Thompson Center upon its opening, and Thompson proudly gave tours of the new, modern structure that night.

 

TODAY’s QUESTION: Which former Highland Park resident once served as the U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic? Email to skapos@politico.com

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Today: U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs senior staffer Robert Marcus, American Business Immigration Coalition executive director Rebecca Shi, Kivvit managing director Sarah Hamilton, Chicago Catholic Charities' chief of staff Ann Grelecki Anderson, Specialty Insurance director of sales Peter Riskind, and Tribune reporter Michael Hawthorne.

 

Saturday: President Joe Biden, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Amy J. St. Eve, Cook County Judge Jill Rose Quinn, marketing consultant Beth Goldberg Heller, Veteran Affairs exec Katrina Howard, U. of Chicago professor Geoffrey Stone, PR pro Bill Strong, and Playbooker James Teague.

 

Sunday: Dick Durbin, the Senate judiciary chair and Illinois’ senior senator, and Jessica Lach, chief of staff for state Rep. Margaret Croke