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Illinois Playbook: Pritzker: 'Crime is coming down'


Thursday, January 19, 2023  |  Article  |  Shia Kapos

Happy Thursday, Illinois. Mental note: Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, which was rolled back last summer by the U.S. Supreme Court.




Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker isn’t getting involved in the Chicago mayor’s race, but he found himself Wednesday defending the city and its efforts to combat crime — echoing what Mayor Lori Lightfoot has been pressing on the campaign trail.


“Crime is coming down gradually in the city and across the state. It’s going to take a little while. These things don’t come down immediately. But it’s getting better,” the governor said during a CNBC interview in Davos, Switzerland, where he's attending the World Economic Forum.


Pritzker ticked off “crime prevention dollars” being used to curb violence, efforts to “intervene on the street literally providing jobs for young people” and the new Illinois law banning assault weapons. “That’s going to help,” he said.


But the CNBC interviewers would have none of it. They practically shouted their concerns. “An employee from Goldman Sachs (in New York) was killed in the subway, this just earlier this year, after somebody who was let out on bail [and] probably should not have been,” said one agitated broadcaster. New York, like Illinois, has eliminated bail for most misdemeanors and non-violent felonies.


Piling on: And what about those “hundred people who go in and steal from stores?” another broadcaster chimed in.


Pritzker kept his cool and pushed back at their assertions, explaining that Illinois law says violent criminals should not be let loose and that those who commit retail theft should be held accountable.


The tense exchange reflects what Lightfoot faces on the campaign trail in Chicago: a perception that crime remains a reality even when numbers show otherwise.


More on that: POLITICO’s Calder McHugh interviewed your Playbook host about the mayor’s race for Wednesday’s The Nightly.


But then there’s this: Suspected car thief clings to hood of getaway car as crew flees cops, reports ABC 7’s Stephanie Wade


— SIDE NOTE: Pritzker says he’s “sorry” Ken Griffin left town, via that CNBC interview,


— ALSO HEARD AT DAVOS: “Illinois Governor JB Pritzker talking at high volume in the central lounge of the Congress Center about his future political career, including a possible White House bid,” via POLITICO Global Insider.



FIRED UP: Add the Illinois State Rifle Association to the list of folks suing over Illinois’ new law banning assault weapons.


It’s the first federal lawsuit to challenge the law. The gun group takes issue with AR-15 rifles being designated as “assault weapons,” a phrase the group says was “developed by anti-gun publicists’ in their crusade against lawful firearm ownership.” Tribune’s Jeremy Gorner has more on the lawsuit.


Meanwhile, an emergency hearing was held Wednesday to try to stop the new law from being enforced. The hearing was in response to two separate lawsuits related to the gun ban — including one filed by Tom DeVore, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully last year for Illinois attorney general. A judge is expected to rule on those cases Friday.


County sheriffs have spoken out against the law, too, saying they won’t enforce it.


The way the law works: Those who already own assault weapons are expected to file an endorsement affidavit to account for their guns. If gun owners do not, they will be in violation of the law. The first offense is a misdemeanor, the second offense is a felony.


It’s a red herring: “No, local sheriffs will not be asked to go door to door in search of those who haven’t complied. They are not required to go door to door for any law currently on the books,” explained Jordan Abudayyeh, the governor’s deputy chief of staff for communications.


What they are required to do is step in when “someone is caught with a weapon that isn’t registered,” the governor said on CNN.


Mirroring other states: “We’re simply copying, frankly, what’s done in other states,” Pritzker said. “Ours is one of the most stringent but fits within the confines of what is constitutional and acceptable. Lots of scholars have said that about our law.”


If you overheard Gov. JB Pritzker talking about his political career at Davos, we’d like to here from you. Email skapos@politico.com.



In the Swiss Alps promoting Illinois.



At the Pullman National Historical Park at 10 a.m. to celebrate the Pullman National Historic Park Act passed by the Senate. Sen. Dick Durbin and Congresswoman Robin Kelly will also be on hand.



No official public events.


Have a news tip, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? I’d like to hear from you: skapos@politico.com



— Tucked inside state spending bill, Illinois commits to new statute honoring King: “The bill's passing happened about four months after 24-year-old Fernando Garcia Martinez was arrested for toppling the current MLK statue [in Springfield],” by State Journal-Register’s Patrick Keck.


— Illinois comes in No. 2 on the annual green buildings list, ahead of New York and California, by Tribune’s Nara Schoenberg


— Business of politics: New records show Gov. JB Pritzker has spent $350M to win his two terms in office, by Tribune’s Rick Pearson



— DEBATE NIGHT: This isn't a forum. The nine Chicago mayoral candidates will have time for rebuttal during tonight's event on ABC 7 at 7 p.m. We’ll be watching.


— POLL: Sophia King’s campaign says its internal polling has the mayoral candidate moving up 5 percentage points from a month ago. The campaign says it’s because King is getting her message out. A polling memo shows Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and Mayor Lori Lightfoot leading with 21 and 15 percent, respectively, followed by Paul Vallas at 10 percent and King and Brandon Johnson, each with 8 percent. Poll memo


— Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has been endorsed by Equality Illinois in her reelection bid. “Lightfoot represents the strongest champion for LGBTQ+ identity,” the organization said.


— Swept into office by promises of reform, now Lightfoot faces scrutiny on ethics record: “She has at times governed more like an old-school machine politician than a reformer,” says WTTW’s Heather Cherone.


— Where do aldermanic candidates stand on redistricting? Change Illinois asked each one


— Chicago mayoral candidate Ja’Mal Green lays out tax relief proposal, via Fox 32


— Four candidates are challenging Ald. Nick Sposato to represent Northwest Side’s 38th Ward, by Block Club’s Ariel Parrella-Aureli


— In Springfield mayor's race  Misty Buscher’s fundraising leads Mayor Jim Langfelder's, via State Journal-Register



— State OKs $20M for influx of migrants to Chicago after warning that funding would end; amount less than half what Lightfoot wanted: “The measure also includes an additional $90 million for state welcoming centers for immigrants and refugees,” reports Tribune’s Gregory Pratt.



— City wants to use cameras to nail motorists who block bus or bike lanes, loading zones: “Nearly 20 years after a CTA experiment with bus surveillance cameras failed miserably, Mayor Lori Lightfoot wants to try it again and then some in a designated downtown area,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.


— Ald. Sigcho-Lopez calls on Illinois AG to investigate CryptoFX and its Illinois victims, via NBC 5’s Patrick Fazio


— New vape shops in Chicago get new restrictions and licensing requirement in City Council action, by Tribune’s Alice Yin


— City Council unanimously votes to expand protections for trans Chicagoans and those seeking abortions, by WTTW’s Heather Cherone


— $5M boost for small businesses to expand on LaSalle approved by City Council, by Block Club’s Melody Mercado


— Lightfoot denies reneging on 12-week parental leave promise to Chicago Teachers Union, by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman


— ‘Nothing happened,’ Ald. Derrick Curtis says of shooting that left daughter wounded: After previously complaining that the mayor didn’t ask about his own gun injury, Lightfoot is overheard Wednesday, asking Curtis how he was doing and encouraging him to return her calls. ““You say I don’t talk to you. You say I don’t reach out. I’m making sure there’s a record,” Lightfoot told Curtis. by WGN’s Sam Charles


— Ald. Jeanette Taylor blocks Norfolk Southern’s Englewood rail yard expansion with delay on land vote, by Tribune’s Alice Yin and John Lippert.



— Cook County homeowners to get $47M in property tax refunds: “Overpaid property taxes will be refunded to more than 53,000 county homeowners starting this week and continuing for the next three months, the Cook County Treasurer’s Office said Wednesday,” by Sun-Times’ David Struett.


— Gay pride parade organizers sue Aurora, saying its permit rules violate 1st Amendment: “The federal lawsuit filed Tuesday says the city illegally based its decisions on the content of Aurora Pride's message about not wanting uniformed police officers marching in the parade,” by Daily Herald’s Susan Sarkauskas.


— Amazon cited for 2nd time for alleged workplace violations in Waukegan, by Tribune’s Talia Soglin ... More on Amazon: Amazon delays West Side warehouse opening, by Crain’s Alby Gallun


— Elmhurst officials want state to ease the public records burden, by Patch’s David Giuliani



— Former Portage Mayor James Snyder’s attorney argues that appeals court should grant him third trial, by Post-Tribune staff

— Little progress in R. Kelly cases as defense requests more information on Cook County charges, by Tribune’s Megan Crepeau and Jason Meisner



— To fill trains in 2023, Metra aims for commuters to college and high school students, by Sun-Times’ Ilana Arougheti



We asked if you anticipate a recession:


Bryce Harris of Universal Gaming Group: “Chances are, if we're ‘anticipating’ a recession, we're already in one. The only question is how bad it will get.”


James Castro: “It’s inevitable.”


Joseph Monack: It’s “imminent,” given “crop and livestock production is down, tech is already laying off, the feds likely aren't done raising interest rates, retail profits are down and Saudi Arabia just dealt a major blow to the petrodollar.”


If you were a state legislator, what is the first bill you’d propose? Email skapos@politico.com



— ‘Ground zero of the Republican Civil War’: The Indiana Senate race could get ugly, quickly, by POLITICO’s Adam Wren and Burgess Everett


— Biden world giddy at MTG, Gosar and Boebert being placed on Oversight, by POLITICO’s Christopher Cadelago, Jordain Carney, Nicholas Wu and Jonathan Lemire


— Wes Moore makes history as Maryland’s first Black governor, by POLITICO’s Kelly Garrity


— She fixes cars. Can she fix Congress’ elitism problem? by POLITICO’s Natalie Fertig



— Biden to nominate Jeffrey Cummings, LaShonda Hunt for Chicago-based U.S. District Court spots: “These choices also continue to fulfill the president’s promise to ensure that the nation’s courts reflect the diversity that is one of our greatest assets as a country — both in terms of personal and professional backgrounds,” the White House said. Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet reports.



— Mary Kaye Richter, an Illinois florist turned medical crusader, dies at 77: “From her kitchen table in rural Illinois, Ms. Richter started a global foundation for families who shared her son’s rare genetic disorder,” by The New York Times’ Alex Williams.



WEDNESDAY’s ANSWER: The late Ald. Marilou von Ferstel was abandoned at Cook County Hospital as an infant and grew up, after her adoption, to become a City Council member and top PR executive.


TODAY’s QUESTION: What Chicago neighborhood was Walt Disney raised in? Email skapos@politico.com



Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, Cook County Dems Executive Director Jacob Kaplan, Blackhawks CEO Danny Wirtz, policy analyst Adam Sege, retired legal secretary Linda Morris and AIPAC Midwest Regional deputy director Emily Berman Pevnick.