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Isabel’s morning briefing

Wednesday, Mar 20, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* ICYMI: Mayor Brandon Johnson’s homelessness plan appears headed to defeat. Sun-Times

    - Bring Chicago Home would have authorized the City Council to raise the real estate transfer tax on high-end property transactions to generate an estimated $100 million in annual revenue to combat homelessness.
    -The vote was 53.7% to 46.3%, with 98.2% of precincts counted.
    - Opponents of Bring Chicago Home tied the referendum to the Mayor, questioning Johnson’s handling of crime and asylum-seekers.

* Related stories…

* Isabel’s top picks…

Governor Pritzker will give remarks at the Governor’s Conference on Travel & Tourism at 11 am. Click here to watch.

* Here’s something interesting from last night’s primary

* Here’s the rest…

    * Tribune | General Assembly races test clout of Democrat leaders: Without having to worry about losing their supermajorities in the fall’s general election, both Democratic leaders made heavy political and financial investments in two bare-knuckled legislative contests based in Chicago. Welch, the state’s first Black speaker, put his reputation on the line as he took aim at the dean of the General Assembly — Rep. Mary Flowers, an African American South Sider who joined the House in 1985 as a fervent ally of Harold Washington, Chicago’s first Black mayor.

    * WBEZ | Mariyana Spyropoulos beats Democratic incumbent in race for Cook County Circuit Court Clerk: Spyropoulos, a commissioner on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District board who had far more campaign contributions and the backing of the county Democratic Party, had 65% of the vote, compared to Martinez’ 35%, with 99% of precincts reporting.

    * Sun-Times | Party-backed newcomer Crawford defeats longtime Democratic state Rep. Flowers in primary: Newcomer Crawford, 41, had the backing of Illinois House Speaker Chris Welch. In an unusual move that was a test of his own political muscle, Welch threw his support and money behind Crawford in the primary and helped him defeat a politician who first took office when Harold Washington was mayor of Chicago.

    * STLPR | Bost defeats Bailey in Illinois’ 12th District GOP primary, Loyd leads in the 13th: “We’ve been doing this for quite a few years and most times, it’s in a general election,” Bost said during his victory party at Brews Brothers Taproom in Murphysboro. “And when you do it in a primary, unfortunately, it’s friends on friends.” While Bailey won big in the eastern part of the 12th Congressional District, Bost won by huge margins in the Metro East — including landslides in Monroe and St. Clair counties. He also pummeled Bailey in Jackson County, which includes Carbondale.

    * Tribune | Mary Gill, Thaddeus Jones claim victory as incumbents prevail in south and southwest suburban legislative primaries: “I am so proud to continue to serve the 35th district,” Democratic incumbent Mary Gill said in a text message. “I have a lot of plans for the coming years and I couldn’t be more grateful to all my supporters.” AP reported she had 84% of the vote with 80% counted as of 9:45 p.m. This is the first election Gill has run. Last year, she was appointed to replace Fran Hurley who was tapped by Gov. J.B. Pritzker to the Illinois Labor Relations Board.

    * Sun-Times | Trump goes on ‘hamburger offensive’ against J.B. Pritzker: Add Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker to the long list of people who ex-President Donald Trump is demonizing, taunting him at a rally last weekend in Vandalia, Ohio — about his weight. About eating too many hamburgers, not that Trump would know. He makes stuff up. And people believe him. And that’s where we are dangerously stuck. Tuesday’s Illinois victories of Trump and President Joe Biden only rubber stamped how they already clinched their respective nominations in earlier primary states.

    * Sun-Times | Joy Virginia Cunningham declares victory in Illinois Supreme Court primary: Associated Press results naming Cunningham as the victor had throughout the evening showed Cunningham commanding a consistent lead with about 75% of the vote to Reyes’ 25%.

    * WLPO | Briel Wins Democratic Primary In Race To Replace Yednock: Briel who has served as chief of staff for Democrat Lance Yednock, now gets a chance to take his place in Springfield after edging DeKalb-based Democratic challengers Cohen Barnes and Carolyn “Morris” Zasada. Unofficial vote totals have Briel with 2,356 votes between La Salle, DeKalb and Bureau counties. Barnes unofficially had 2,077 votes with Zasada close behind at 2,038.

    * Aurora Beacon-News | Voters in Kane County cast ballots in contested recorder race, county board contests: The Democratic primary for county recorder featured Brenda Rodgers and Marisela Villegas, with the winner to face Republican incumbent Sandy Wegman, who was unopposed in the GOP primary, in the November general election. According to unofficial final results from the Kane County Clerk’s Office, Villegas had 45.9% of the vote to 44% for Rodgers.

    * WBEZ | Veteran Cook County tax appeals board commissioner holds off challenger: With 92% of precincts reporting, Rogers had 62% of the vote to 38% for challenger Larecia Tucker. Rogers’ victory marked a massive setback for Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi, who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money to try to defeat Rogers.

    * WBEZ | Appeals court upholds $1.1 million for investigator who refused to change findings on CPD shootings: Lorenzo Davis, 74, was fired in 2015 from his job as a supervising investigator of the Independent Police Review Authority, now known as the Civilian Office of Police Accountability. The whistleblowing that cost his job came months before police misconduct became a hot public topic in Chicago — a shift prompted by the court-ordered release of video showing the police killing of teenager Laquan McDonald.

    * Sun-Times | With nearly 6,000 new migrants this year, CPS chief supports boost in bilingual education: Boosting bilingual education includes increasing teachers with training and certifications in the field and more tutoring for Spanish-speaking students in schools without bilingual teachers. Martinez said those nearly 6,000 students need a lot of academic support. They often lack stable housing, basic necessities, proper clothes or school supplies.

    * Crain’s | Measles cases in Chicago rise to 15: The three additional cases are all residents of the city’s largest migrant shelter at 2241 S. Halsted St. in the Pilsen neighborhood, a CDPH spokesman said in an emailed statement. So far, 13 residents of the Halsted Street shelter have been confirmed to have measles, and two residents from other areas of the city have been confirmed to be infected.

    * Sun-Times | 19 Chicago-area organizations receive millions from MacKenzie Scott’s ‘Yield Giving’: Scott, through her “Yield Giving” venture, announced $640 million in donations to nonprofits across the country, including 19 Chicago-area organizations focusing on topics from housing to immigration and grassroots activism.

    * Sun-Times | Chicago’s Cultural Affairs department gets a new boss, just in time for summer events: So it’s good that Mayor Brandon Johnson this week has selected Clinée Hedspeth as the city’s new Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events commissioner. We don’t yet know enough about Hedspeth to judge her abilities as commissioner. But we’re glad to see the department get a leader a month after Johnson showed the door to the agency’s last boss (but kept her aboard until last Friday), the capable Erin Harkey.

    * Illinois Times | Big plans for the budget: The final fiscal 2023 budget for Springfield city government includes $6 million to purchase seven new fire vehicles and $10 million to build three new fire stations.

    * SJ-R | Springfield residents, council members frustrated after trash, yard waste go uncollected: Trash not being picked up for weeks — or at all in some cases — has Springfield residents and council members upset. Those issues were discussed during a recent Committee of the Whole meeting in Springfield as contract negotiations continue between the city and Republic Services.

    * Sun-Times | USC QB Caleb Williams to show Bears what he can do: On Wednesday morning, general manager Ryan Poles and a cadre of Bears officials will watch their most likely choice in person: USC quarterback Caleb Williams. After deciding not to throw at the NFL Scouting Combine, he’s expected to do so during USC’s pro day at Katherine B. Loker Track Stadium on campus.

    * Champaign Room | Illinois has the hardest road to the Final Four: For starters, UConn, who is the No. 1 seed in the East, is fresh off a Big East Tournament title. Not only that, but the Huskies finished this season as the No. 1 ranked team in the final AP Poll and they’re also riding a seven-game win streak. Oh, and did I mention they won the national championship last year? Their track record is pretty much self explanatory.

    * Sun-Times | Amtrak’s California Zephyr turns 75 and is still chugging: “It’s legendary. I had to see it for myself,” Adam McBride, a waiter from Philadelphia, said before embarking on the 51 hour and 20 minute journey. With any luck, he’ll be able to look out the window and see the bald eagles that are known to hang out along the Mississippi River as the train passes from Illinois into Iowa.


  1. - Back to the Future - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 8:56 am:

    Thanks to Isabel for including the Sun Times story on the California Zephyr. It brought back a lot of good memories.
    I have taken it every time I have to go to San Francisco and enjoyed every trip.
    The article does a very good job of going over some of the highlights of the trip.

  2. - low level - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 9:05 am:

    This ought to be a signal to Mayor Johnson’s team that they need to sit back and reassess everything.

  3. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 9:17 am:

    ==signal to Mayor Johnson’s team that they need to sit back==

    I’m not sure how much more this Mayor can “sit back.” It doesn’t appear to me that he is capable of leaning forward on anything.

  4. - Charles Edward Cheese - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 9:23 am:

    @low level my read based on how Mayor Johnson has responded to other failures of his administration (i.e. Brighton Park migrant camp, poor overall response to the migrant situation, pointing fingers at the state, etc.) is that he’ll double down and blame others. Perhaps say he was too busy driving his family to soccer practice to campaign in support of his own initiative.

  5. - lake county democrat - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 9:27 am:

    While I’m not saying Bring Chicago Home failed because of its “most of you are getting a tax break” gimmick, between this and the progressive tax amendment’s failure, can pols stop trying to fool people with this trick? “Rents will go up” was a message that made intuitive sense - all I saw from the other side was “eat the rich” and a refusal to substantively respond to most of the criticism.

  6. - Soy City Red - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 9:29 am:

    What’s this Shelby county thing? I admit I haven’t really been paying attention but read the subscribers article which definitely has me raising an eyebrow and saying “weeeeird” out loud. Did the county board do or not do something? County farm and dive team? Huh?

  7. - Steve - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 9:32 am:

    -Rents will go up” was a message that made intuitive sense-

    Yep. Especially in Chicago(which is a union town) which makes it very difficult and expensive to build housing.

  8. - EP1082 - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 9:36 am:

    Maybe they should rethink the “First we get the money” idea and replace it with “Let’s create a plan”.

  9. - low level - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 9:42 am:

    ==he’ll double down and blame others.==
    ==doesn’t appear to me that he is capable of leaning forward ==
    == all I saw from the other side was “eat the rich” ==

    Absolutely agree w all of these. Thank you for your comments. I didn’t vote for the mayor but I want him to succeed. If he fails it will be bad for everyone - including the state.

  10. - Steve Z - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 9:46 am:

    Catch great Chicago band Dolly Varden’s California Zephyr:

  11. - TJ - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 9:54 am:

    I can’t help but think that a big chunk of the anti-referendum vote was people just thinking, “Hey, Johnson stinks, he’s pushing this, so therefore this must stink as well.”

  12. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 10:17 am:

    =“I did not lose. Our democracy lost, when you take into consideration all they had to do to destroy me,” Flowers said =

    Very happy to see Flowers out of the state house. The level of hubris in her statement tells us all we needed to know about her. She wasn’t “destroyed, she lost an election. No one is entitled to their elected office.

  13. - Gravitas - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 10:17 am:

    Watching the numbers on Bost versus Bailey, which stopped updating, I was surprised at how close it was.

  14. - Rudy’s teeth - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 10:19 am:

    After two major losses…the governor of Illinois and 12th district race for Congress…Bailey will give it a rest.

    Bailey needs a new hobby and it is not running for office. Bailey’s place is on his porch and not in Congress.

  15. - 102ish - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 10:19 am:

    Looking at the Bring Chicago Home ballot language, I’m surprised the vote was as close as it was. Some voters figure it out in the booth, and what they saw was a blur of words that included “new transfer tax,” “increase 166.67%” and “increase 300%.”

    Combine that with the lack of trust in anything linked to Johnson and, yes, CTU, I actually have to hand it to the organizers for making a game of it.

  16. - W44 - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 10:21 am:


    === I can’t help but think that a big chunk of the anti-referendum vote was people just thinking, “Hey, Johnson stinks, he’s pushing this, so therefore this must stink as well.” ===

    Yep. Credibility matters.

  17. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 10:22 am:

    Guzman’s progressive victory came crashing up against MBJ’s apparent stunning failure with BCH. As for BCH, since it may fail even after the mail-in votes, like the failed Fair Tax, proponents need to move on to the doable and look for policies that can win.

  18. - 48th Ward Heel - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 10:41 am:

    I’m agnostic on BCH - I voted early for it when it had been ruled invalid and I thought it didn’t matter, which was probably not a smart thing to do - but the numbers didn’t really work on the whole “rents will go up” line. And it shouldn’t have any impact at all on buildings that haven’t been recently bought/sold.

    It strikes me as less of a prediction than a spoiler from landlords, like when the media kept talking about unquantified inflation and it turned out companies were just hiking prices to whatever they felt like and pocketing the profits. Rents have gone up and rents will continue to go up even though we’re not *making* them do it with BCH now.

  19. - Stephanie Kollmann - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 10:56 am:

    I think it is a huge mistake to assume that most voters had a clue what BCH was.

    Even last night, WGN called it a “real estate tax on property” before giving more details.

  20. - Back to the Future - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 10:58 am:

    @Steve Z
    Thanks for the tune tip.

  21. - Amalia - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 10:59 am:

    Good on the Speaker for putting it up to take out Flowers. But the Senate President, why, just why with Toro? Weak.

  22. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 10:59 am:

    ===I think it is a huge mistake to assume that most voters had a clue what BCH was===

    It was also a mistake to believe that it would drive young progressives to the polls.

  23. - Garfield Ridge Guy - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 11:07 am:

    Pritzker’s Fair Tax won 71% to 28% in Chicago proper. Yeah, it’s a different tax in a different time with a different guy in the White House, but “Chicago voters won’t tolerate more taxes [for some]” is not a sufficient answer.

    I expect the mayor’s office will blame the lower-court ruling for confusing voters, and will do no soul-searching.

  24. - Stephanie Kollmann - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 11:15 am:

    ==It was also a mistake to believe that it would drive young progressives to the polls.==

    Maybe. There certainly were plenty of mistakes but under 45 turnout really was not that bad despite a lot of anger/apathy about the top of the ticket. I suspect BCH did get a lot of younger people to vote who would not have otherwise and that other candidates benefited.

  25. - Gravitas - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 11:25 am:

    The only poll workers that I saw yesterday were promoting BCH. Obviously, their efforts failed.

    The referendum had loads of advertising as well. It was a tough sell in the inflationary economy.

  26. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 11:46 am:

    =Bailey needs a new hobby and it is not running for office. Bailey’s place is on his porch and not in Congress.=

    Maybe he should farm. For once. Get in a tractor big guy.

  27. - TJ - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 12:12 pm:

    ==Bailey needs a new hobby and it is not running for office. Bailey’s place is on his porch and not in Congress.==

    =Maybe he should farm. For once. Get in a tractor big guy. =

    He could always become a southern Illinoisan version of Oberweis. Failed nobody in political circles that keeps losing elections but at least having the good decency to make some solid ice cream.

  28. - Don't Bloc Me In - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 12:14 pm:

    ==Bailey needs a new hobby and it is not running for office. Bailey’s place is on his porch and not in Congress.==

    Not sure how soon, but I think he’ll make a run for Durbin’s seat in the US Senate. You know he wants it.

  29. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 12:30 pm:

    =You know he wants it.=

    Yes he does. After his time in the statehouse and his farm subsidies he just loves him that gubmint’ money.

    That or maybe he is just plain addicted to campaigning?

    = but at least having the good decency to make some solid ice cream.=

    Even if it were the world’s best ice cream I don’t think I could bring myself to try it. And I LOVE ice cream.

  30. - cermak_rd - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 12:58 pm:

    === Maybe he should farm. For once. Get in a tractor big guy. ===
    Exactly what I was thinking, doesn’t he have equipment to maintain and replace like combines and planters? Isn’t it almost planting season? Couldn’t he do some research with the extension at U of I to make sure he is doing best practices to maintain his soil and reduce expenditures on pesticides? I’m a city slicker but it seems farming is higher tech than it’s ever been (GPS directed pesticide application), and also a full time occupation if your farm is big enough.

  31. - Here - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 1:39 pm:

    Clearly the ongoing immigration and migrant crisis in Chicago must have tamped down support for the initiative to help the homeless. We can criticize campaign strategies, rightly, but the effect of the months of bad headlines has depressed enthusiasm for helping more

  32. - TJ - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 2:23 pm:

    ==Not sure how soon, but I think he’ll make a run for Durbin’s seat in the US Senate. You know he wants it.==

    Raja will be darn glad to barely touch his war chest to win a seat to the senate if Bailey turns out to be the GOP nominee.

  33. - supplied_demand - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 3:21 pm:

    ==Raja will be darn glad to barely touch his war chest to win a seat to the senate if Bailey turns out to be the GOP nominee.==

    He’s likely going to need that to get through the primary, which could include Rahm, Pritzker, Kwame, Mendoza, Budzinski, and others.

  34. - Sue - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 3:27 pm:

    Too bad the Governor wasn’t able to step up along with the SOS and publicly state the transfer tax was ill advised. JB won’t take on the progressive wing even when he knows bad policy can adversely affect the State’s principal economic engine- the City of Chicago. JB needs to come down forcefully against the Mayor’s policies if he wants to preserve the City’s vitality -

  35. - Just a guy - Wednesday, Mar 20, 24 @ 3:38 pm:

    I can tell you that in our district (20th, which obviously was contested and had very high turnout), the BCH issue was also a very big one for my neighbors in Bucktown. We’ve recently moved into our home, and of course tried to meet our neighbors, fit in, find out some of the things folks do, etc. And in all of my conversations I had with them, the overwhelming sentiment wasn’t that we don’t want to fix or address homelessness - but that the lack of a plan, transparency on how the money would be overseen and managed, and concerns that there wasn’t specific language that restricted it only for that purpose made it a “No” vote for folks.
    If I want to go to my COO and tell her “I have a way to help us raise fix this huge problem we’ve been dealing with,” I can’t follow that up with “And I don’t have a plan yet, but if you give me $xxx dollars per year for the next few years I can make it go away.” Because it’s going to be a no. If you want the money - especially with the way the Mayor’s current reputation is within the City - you’re going to have to show the work as to why it’s needed and how it’s going to be used to do what you intend.

  36. - EGIrvin - Thursday, Mar 21, 24 @ 5:53 am:

    There are many of us here in Mary Flowers auburn gresham community that are not shedding any tears for her exit. 38 years and the community still looks a mess.

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