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“Without alienating the governor”

Friday, Feb 19, 2021

* 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.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - what the what - Friday, Feb 19, 21 @ 11:06 am:

    He’s not a registered lobbyist? He personally advocates for and against legislation all the time. He was a witness in a Senate committee hearing yesterday advocating for more money and funding for restaurants. He has members file bills all the time.

  2. - Arock - Friday, Feb 19, 21 @ 11:07 am:

    Maybe a better plan for the Federal Government in place of just handing out money is spending the money with a purpose. Maybe by helping the industries like those hurt the most by the pandemic. A large scale operation of helping them install ventilation systems that will help curtail virus spread in the future as we now predict we will have these problems in the future as well. This would expand job opportunities immensely in jobs that normally pay at a high pay scale. All buildings that are frequented by the public will probably be in line for far better HVAC systems and air purifying system than they currently have in place. And if Far-UVC lights might be the answer help these businesses install these as well. Probably a lot more these types of scientific approaches that will help combat this virus and others in the future could be provided with government help and put people to work for many years in good paying jobs. If we are going to use taxpayer money use it with a purpose and a return on the investment.

  3. - Manchester - Friday, Feb 19, 21 @ 11:07 am:

    We would all like to get things back to something approaching normalcy. I recognize the terrible strain businesses are under but it has as much to do with people’s reluctance to subject themselves to danger as it does to mitigations in place. I for one have no intention of setting foot in any public place, other than to obtain necessities, until I’ve received the Covid-19 vaccination. I personally know individuals who had no other known exposure than dining in restaurants who have contracted the virus. They can open things 100 percent and a substantial portion of the population will still stay away until we feel that it is more safe.

  4. - know what I mean - Friday, Feb 19, 21 @ 11:09 am:

    Sam Toia’s best line is to say, “know-whad-I-mean” all as one phrase. It’s a joy to watch.

  5. - Southern Skeptic - Friday, Feb 19, 21 @ 11:12 am:

    Well Sam did rate higher than 18. & 19. Jo MaMa & Lucy Stoole, Founding members of the Chicago Black Drag Council. So there’s that.

  6. - Candy Dogood - Friday, Feb 19, 21 @ 11:21 am:

    It’s important to strike a balance between optimism and Texan denialism. The COVID-19 pandemic still bears considerable risk, and in a couple of months we’re going to be faced with the very staunch reality that many people in our state are going to refuse to be vaccinated.

    ===Arock - Friday, Feb 19, 21 @ 11:07 am:===

    There will be resistance to the requirement and implementation of everyone of your very good decisions.

  7. - Donnie Elgin - Friday, Feb 19, 21 @ 11:22 am:

    Here is an idea give them a glide-path with dates. JB could tell the hotel, restaurant, and convention industries that phase 4 restriction will be in place for the next 3 months. If conditions improve then the restrictions could be lessened. And at the 2-month period, his experts will re-evaluate if the restrictions need to be extended and for how long.

  8. - Roman - Friday, Feb 19, 21 @ 11:30 am:

    Kudos to Chicago Mag for putting a new and more inclusive spin on their annual “Most Powerful” list. I like that they made a conscious effort to drop the usual array of LaSalle Street types and start-up hipsters. But the presence of Jo MaMa and Lucy Stoole might indicate they’re trying a bit too hard.

  9. - Boone's is Back - Friday, Feb 19, 21 @ 11:47 am:

    The Chicago Mag list is becoming about as useless and archaic as our state and local governments.

  10. - SSL - Friday, Feb 19, 21 @ 11:53 am:

    Well I want to know the winning lotto numbers too Sam. It doesn’t work that way.

  11. - Annonin' - Friday, Feb 19, 21 @ 12:26 pm:

    Did not Chicago was still around

  12. - RNUG - Friday, Feb 19, 21 @ 1:48 pm:

    -Arock- very good practical suggestions. Now if only some people would listen.

    FYI - on a trip to St Louis last month, we ended up dining at a high end restaurant. Didn’t have a reservation, but they accommodated us since we were from out of town. They were serious about covid protections. Had already installed all new high end filtration and UV lights in a 50 year old building.

  13. - Old Sarge - Friday, Feb 19, 21 @ 2:02 pm:

    Well said, Sir, but this would benefit too many business owners and not enough plain people, wouldn’t it. /s

  14. - Steve Polite - Friday, Feb 19, 21 @ 2:09 pm:

    Well stated Manchester. I agree wholeheartedly.

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