* From Chicago Magazine’s The New Power 30…
15. Sam Toia
President and CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association
Toia was noticeably missing from the November 5 press conference where the mayor announced emergency relief grants for Chicago restaurants and bars. By then, he was on to bigger things — namely, advocating for federal restaurant stimulus funds. Early on, he’d been an optimistic team player for statewide messaging on business restrictions. When those restrictions started to bite as the COVID crisis dragged on, Toia became a consummate political tactician, pushing back against indoor dining bans without alienating the governor, with whom Toia has spoken regularly throughout the crisis, while reining in angry restaurateurs, who might have invited a harsher crackdown had they flouted the bans in large numbers, as happened in other states.
Dude brought a guy to a meeting with the governor who later tested positive for COVID.
Also, if he’s speaking regularly with the governor on behalf of his members, shouldn’t he register as a lobbyist?
* Capitol News Illinois…
Officials from the hotel, restaurant and convention industries told a state Senate panel Thursday that they need a clear plan for how they will be allowed to reopen as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes, warning that without such a plan, many will go out of business permanently.
“We need to know … a strategy, we need to know the metrics as we move forward because we cannot, we cannot lose another summer here in the state of Illinois,” Sam Toia, president and CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association, told the state Senate’s newly-formed Tourism and Hospitality Committee during its first virtual hearing. […]
Currently, all regions of the state are under Phase 4 mitigations, which limits private gatherings to no more than 50 people. But Toia argued that many restaurants are capable of handling larger numbers of people safely, and he said there should be a more specific plan that would allow bars, restaurants and hotels to gradually move out of Phase 4 toward Phase 5, which is full reopening.
“We just want to know when we can go back to having conventions, having parties, private parties, figuring out when we can have some fans in stadiums. This is very, very unclear,” he said. “And we just want to get adjusted of what Phase 5 is going to look like. I don’t think we can wait 12 to 18 months.”
How is anyone supposed to know that for sure right now? There are international, national, state and local supply problems, distribution issues, variants popping up.