IEDA State Update – July 31, 2020

Pressure from fellow legislators began to increase this week on House Speaker Michael Madigan to resign from his leadership roles in both the state House and the Illinois Democratic Party in the ongoing fallout from the ComEd bribery scandal. On Wednesday, Democratic state Representative Terra Costa Howard called for Madigan to step down, saying “even if he was not directly involved in this scheme, these accusations clearly demonstrate that the Speaker’s leadership has failed.” Costa Howard defeated Republican Peter Breen, then the party’s floor leader, in 2018; a rematch of this race is occurring this year.

On Thursday morning, state Representative Stephanie Kifowit delivered a letter to Speaker Madigan asking him to resign his speakership. In the event that he chooses not to step down, Kifowit wrote that she will not vote to re-elect Madigan as Speaker. Later in the day, Representative Kelly Cassidy called on Madigan to resign from both leadership roles. This marks four House Democrats that have called for Madigan’s resignation in some form, as Rep. Anne Stava-Murray of Naperville had previously urged him to do so. Notably, however, Stava-Murray did not vote for Madigan for speaker in January 2019, so the two never had much of a relationship.

Following suit, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin called for Madigan to resign from the House entirely, reversing his previous position, which was that Madigan only step down if the allegations against him proved true. Durkin said Madigan was “unable to execute his responsibilities as Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives and as state representative for the 22nd House District.” Leader Durkin will be filling a House Resolution to have the chamber vote on a new speaker immediately. These actions in the House follow calls by Senators Melinda Bush, Heather Steans and Iris Martinez for Madigan to resign.

In a statement late Thursday, after reports that Madigan had been calling his caucus members to gauge their support for him, the speaker said, “the feedback is positive and demonstrates continued support for me and my leadership roles. I have no plans to resign.” He also reiterated his denial that he has done anything wrong.

ComEd testified in front of the Illinois Commerce Commission on Wednesday where its CEO apologized for the company’s past misconduct and pledged that it had overhauled its internal auditing and compliance procedures to ensure such mistakes are not repeated. These new processes include senior leadership approval of outside vendor contracts prior to payment, mandated reporting of public official interactions, and the creation of a new compliance position. The latter of which will be paid for the utility’s ratepayers. Commissioners expressed skepticism of the company’s plan, which relies heavily on self-policing, and said this week’s hearing – where no action was taken – was only the beginning of exploring this issue.

Governor JB Pritzker warned a “reversal is where we’re headed” if our coronavirus case numbers keep increasing as they have recently. This warning occurred in the same press briefing where the governor announced additional restrictions on youth sports following a spate of cases tied to games. The restrictions place different sports into different risk categories based on contact level. They mean there will be no football, soccer or volleyball this fall; instead, these sports will be moved to the spring with a shortened season. Only low-risk sports, such as cross country, golf and tennis, can be played competitively.

Important Upcoming Dates  Statewide

  • August 1, 2020 – CURE Fund Reimbursement Period Begins
  • November 3, 2020 – Election Day
  • November 17-19, 2020 – First week of Veto Session
  • December 1-3, 2020 – Second week of Veto Session
  • December 15, 2020 – Final Day for Local Government to Submit Reimbursement Requests to DCEO


In the News

Political clout clouds state commission hearing on ComEdThe Daily Line, July 30, 2020
Reporting from WBEZ last week showed that Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) Chairman Carrie Zalewski was appointed at the direction of House Speaker Michael Madigan, the chairman of state’s Democratic Party, who is under federal investigation for an alleged role in delivering favorable regulation for ComEd in exchange for no-show jobs, money, and subcontracts for his allies. Madigan has not been charged and says he is not guilty of wrongdoing. WBEZ reporting shows that Zalewski’s father-in-law, former Chicago Ald. Michael Zalewski (23), received a monthly $5,000 subcontract from ComEd after he retired from the City Council in May 2018; the FBI raided his home last year in  search of documents involving Madigan and ComEd. Madigan lobbied to get Carrie Zalewski her $136,000-a-year ICC post in April 2019. She was confirmed just days after her father-in-law’s home was raided.

An only-in-Illinois story: ComEd bribery scheme hearing is run by daughter-in-law of alleged key player in the caseChicago Tribune, July 29, 2020
Illinois Commerce Commission Chairwoman Carrie Zalewski, whose agency oversees utility rates and safety practices, opened Wednesday’s meeting with demands for “transparency” and “accountability” in light of federal court records that allege ComEd engaged in a “yearslong bribery scheme” involving jobs, contracts and payments to allies of House Speaker Michael Madigan.

ComEd CEO: ‘I Wanted To Apologize On Behalf Of The Entire Company.’ WBEZ, July 29, 2020
In his first public comments since Commonwealth Edison admitted a Springfield bribery scheme, CEO Joe Dominguez said Wednesday he was sorry for the power company’s conduct – but quickly added that he did not think the public suffered as a result of the scandal. “I wanted to apologize on behalf of the entire company,” Dominguez told officials at a meeting of the Illinois Commerce Commission, which regulates ComEd and other public utilities in the state.

House calls: Second Democratic state rep asks for Madigan’s immediate resignationChicago Sun-Times, July 29, 2020
Glen Ellyn state Rep. Terra Costa Howard said she hopes Madigan “will do the honorable thing and step down” in the wake of an alleged bribery scheme involving ComEd that implicated the speaker.

Kifowit wants resignation *** Democratic Rep. Terra Costa Howard calls on Speaker Madigan to resignCapitol Fax, July 29, 2020
The sworn statements in the U.S. Attorney’s agreement with Commonwealth Edison detail a years-long scheme of payoffs and bribery involving many of Speaker Madigan’s closest allies. Even if he was not directly involved in this scheme, these accusations clearly demonstrate that the Speaker’s leadership has failed.

Pritzker warns public, pols on COVID-19 precautions: ‘If things don’t change, a reversal is where we’re headed’Chicago Sun-Times, July 29, 2020
A month after Illinois entered its latest phase of reopening, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday warned that another round of closures could be on tap if residents don’t take health precautions more seriously to stem the state’s steady rise in coronavirus cases. “We are far, far from out of the woods,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said during a Loop news conference.

COVID-19 cases are increasing in Illinois, making it difficult to bring back jobs. ‘Some people may be put out of the job market for a long time.’ Chicago Tribune, July 30, 2020
Illinois employers added 142,000 jobs in June, but there are still 600,000 fewer jobs in the state than there were a year ago. Most of the gains were driven by a 17% rebound in leisure and hospitality, the sector hardest hit by the pandemic, but that industry, a huge employer, is still down 223,000 jobs compared with February. Some professions, like finance and real estate, continued to lose jobs in June.

Attorney says he'll drop 'dozen or so' pandemic lawsuits against state if Legislature meetsPantagraph, July 29, 2020
At the heart of Thomas DeVore’s many cases in several Illinois counties is the question of whether an Illinois governor is constitutionally and legally authorized to exercise unilateral control over the management of a disaster, such as the public health emergency posed by the novel coronavirus.

Illinois Official Is ‘Deeply Troubled’ By Agency Head’s Role In ComEd MeetingWBEZ, July 28, 2020
A commissioner at the state agency that oversees Commonwealth Edison has called on the head of the Illinois Commerce Commission to recuse herself from a public meeting with executives from the corrupt power company, according to an internal ICC letter obtained Tuesday by WBEZ. ComEd executives are scheduled to appear at the ICC meeting Wednesday to answer questions about the utility giant’s admission that it had engaged in a long-running bribery scheme in Springfield.

Pressure rises on Madigan to step down Crain’s Chicago Business, July 28, 2020
The political pressure on Mike Madigan to step down from his public and party posts ratcheted up a notch today as one Democratic state senator called for him to resign as House speaker and chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party, and a second moved in that direction. The call to resign came from state Sen. Heather Steans, a progressive reformer who represents part of the North Side of Chicago.

ComEd to testify this week on scandal while Republicans demand hearings from HouseThe Daily Line, July 29, 2020
The Illinois Commerce Commission and the Chicago City Council Committee on Environmental Protection and Energy are holding public hearings with ComEd officials Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. Neither body is saying which officials are being summoned to testify.

As Coronavirus Cases Continue to Increase, State and City Officials Disagree on Key MetricWTTW, July 28, 2020
The difference between the positivity rate as calculated by state officials and the positivity rate as calculated by city officials has ranged between half a percentage point and a full percentage point. For example, on Tuesday, the positivity rate released by the city rose to 5.4%, while the data released by the state pegged the positivity rate at 4.5%.

Pritzker has signed more COVID-related executive actions. Here's a look at what's been approved. — Capitol News Illinois, July 29, 2020
Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s COVID-19 disaster proclamation now runs through Aug. 22, Illinois Department of Corrections facilities resumed acceptance of transfers from county jails, and initial deposits into sports betting accounts must once again be made in person, as opposed to online. That’s after a series of executive actions taken by Pritzker since Friday extended the proclamation and a number of virus-related measures.

As Extra Money For Gig Workers Expires, Delays In Illinois Mean Some May Still Be Waiting For ChecksWBEZ, July 28, 2020
Gig and freelance workers in Illinois are still awaiting unemployment assistance even as the federal program that expanded those benefits expires, and Congress debates whether to extend it. The program that dished out an extra $600 a week to the jobless expired in Illinois on July 25. But delays at the state agency responsible for dispersing the payments mean there could be an untold number of people eligible for help who still aren’t getting it.

Help wanted at Walgreens: A CEO willing to take on a no-win situationCrain’s Chicago Business, July 28, 2020
With Stefano Pessina remaining as executive chairman and the largest shareholder, the next chief exec will be accountable for his or her predecessor's strategic missteps—with little or no ability to change course.

Pritzker: ‘We don’t have to do this forever’ — but probably into 2021Chicago Sun-Times, July 27, 2020
“I’m not a doctor, but that’s what my observation is, that we’re not going to be able to take off the mask and go about everything we were doing seven, eight months ago for a few more months, maybe six-plus months.” Pritzker’s sobering prediction came as the state announced its sixth straight day of more than 1,200 new COVID-19 cases and a positivity rate that keeps creeping up.

Walgreens CEO to step down Crain’s Chicago Business, July 27, 2020
Pessina owns more than 16% of the Deerfield, Illinois-based company, accounting for the bulk of his $8.5 billion fortune, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Despite Walgreens’ mass and ubiquity, investors have been skeptical of its ability to compete in a market where insurers are squeezing pharmacies’ profits and online retailers are luring customers away from brick-and-mortar stores. The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has only heightened those concerns.

ComEd suffers a sudden interruption of power—in SpringfieldCrain’s Chicago Business, July 24, 2020
In a clear sign of how badly a bribery scandal has damaged Commonwealth Edison's political clout, Gov. J.B. Pritzker is set to pull the plug on a rate-setting plan the electric utility lobbied hard for. Pritzker will oppose efforts to extend the so-called formula rate regime when it expires in 2022. The news follows ComEd's July 17 admission that it had sought to bribe House Speaker Michael Madigan in return for favorable legislation, including formula rates.

Following Madigan probe, state ethics commission remains in limbo amid outcry for reformThe Daily Line, July 27, 2020
Now the ire is being directed at Gov. JB Pritzker. Last week, a bipartisan call echoed throughout the state for Pritzker to denounce Madigan and call for a special session of the state’s joint ethics and lobbying commission to investigate Madigan. On Thursday a group of Republican lawmakers sent the two Democrats who co-chair the commission to reconvene it within 30 days to complete a final report and to produce policy recommendations “for comprehensive ethics reform.”

Madigan's Newest Challenger: US Attorney John R. Lausch Jr Center for Illinois Politics, July 26, 2020
In the days following ComEd’s groundbreaking $200m settlement with the federal government, Illinoisans are reeling at the case’s implication of House Speaker Michael Madigan. After years of accusations of corruption, many wonder if this case will have lasting effects on Illinois government. Enter John Lausch, the US Attorney for IL’s Northern District, and the man who pursued the federal probe that led to the settlement.

How six months of pandemic have changed Illinois forever Crain’s Chicago Business, July 24, 2020
In a span of six months, 168,000 Illinoisans have tested positive for the virus and more than 7,300 have died. Roughly 1.5 million people have applied for unemployment benefits in Illinois since March, employers' costs have skyrocketed as they implement new safety measures and governments statewide face steep budget gaps and rising calls for relief. More than 4,000 Chicago-area businesses shut down as stay-home restrictions and fear of infection kept customers out of restaurants and stores. Meanwhile, as case rates rise in other states, leaders are bracing for a new surge.

FOUR COUNTIES ON COVID WATCH The Daily Line, July 27, 2020
On Friday the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported that four counties in the state are considered at a warning level for Covid-19. This means two or more risk indicators that measure the amount of the virus are increased. The counties – Adams, LaSalle, Peoria, and Randolph —saw outbreaks associated with business and risky behavior. 

Mayor Lightfoot's unity pleaCrain’s Chicago Business, July 29, 2020
In an unexpected speech delivered in the middle of a summer of bitter divisiveness and violence, Mayor Lori Lightfoot today called on Chicagoans and the rest of the country to reject the extreme political left and right and come together in the middle in the name of “our shared humanity.” Speaking at an event intended to promote participation in the census, Lightfoot used the thread of democracy to make a much broader pitch, saying that getting counted is part of democracy just as much as compromising is.

Amazon plans Bridgeport warehouse that would employ 200 or moreCrain’s Chicago Business, July 29, 2020
The e-commerce giant plans to open a 112,000-square-foot warehouse in Bridgeport that would employ 200 or more people, according to people familiar with Amazon’s plans. The riverside building at 2420 S. Halsted St. would be a “last-mile” distribution center, the final stop for packages before they arrive on Chicago doorsteps—and a key part of Amazon’s push to deliver more of them within a day or less of receiving an online order.

Stranded by Congress, County leaders confront budget crunch ahead of summer’s last board meeting: ‘This is it’ The Daily Line, July 30, 2020
Unless the tenor of negotiations shifts in Washington, D.C., the feds are not coming to save Cook County from a multi-year budget chasm that grows wider every day, county officials said Wednesday. The situation looks grimmer now for county leaders than it did two months ago, when Cook County Chief Financial Officer Ammar Rizki was projecting a $200 million drop-off in revenue for 2020 and the U.S. House of Representatives had just passed a $3 trillion aid package that would have set aside roughly $1 trillion to reimburse state and local governments for lost revenues.

Wisconsin, three other states added to Chicago COVID travel order as city hints it will start ticketing violatorsChicago Sun-Times, July 28, 2020
Four more states — Wisconsin, Missouri, Nebraska and North Dakota — are being added to Chicago’s 14-day travel quarantine and compliance will no longer be purely voluntary. Ticketing is coming. With 22 states now on the list, Chicago Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady is upping the ante by threatening tickets with fines ranging from $100-to-$500-a-day and a maximum of $7,000.

Foxx warns of budget cut consequences, rejects ‘simplistic narrative’ linking courts to crime spike The Daily Line, July 29, 2020
Foxx was the latest leader of a county office to warn that their core functions could crumble under bone-deep budget cuts proposed by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle as the county faces a $410 million budget gap headed into 2021. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, Public Defender Amy Campanelli and commissioners on the county’s Board of Review all made similar arguments during mid-year budget hearings last week.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot Is ‘Deeply Disturbed’ By The ComEd Scandal, And Takes Its CEO To Task For An ‘Inadequate’ ResponseWBEZ, July 27, 2020
In a letter, sent to ComEd CEO Joseph Dominguez and obtained by WBEZ, Lightfoot said in order to enter into another franchise agreement with ComEd, the company needs to implement a comprehensive ethics reform plan. She also asks ComEd to align with her administration’s priorities “around energy and sustainability, equitable economic development, utility affordability and transparency.”

Mayors ask Congress to ban deployment of militarized federal agents in cities as Trump mulls sending in morePOLITICO, July 27, 2020
“This administration's egregious use of federal force on cities over the objections of local authorities should never happen,” the mayors of Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Kansas City Albuquerque and Washington D.C. wrote to leaders of the U.S. House and Senate.

Cook County pumps $5M into nonviolence program, but alderman doubts effectiveness: ‘we’re not getting results’ The Daily Line, July 28, 2020
West Side Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29), who chairs the City Council Committee on Public Safety, introduced a resolution last week (R2020-573) calling for a public hearing to discuss “oversight, accountability and reporting” with the leaders of Metropolitan Family Services and the Institute of Non Violence Chicago, two non-profit organizations that oversee “violence interruption” programs in the city.

Cook County Commissioners voted overwhelmingly on Monday to endorse a non-binding resolution urging the county to shift funding away from arresting and jailing its citizens. The Board of Commissioners’ Criminal Justice Committee voted 16-1 to support a revised version of the Justice for Black Lives resolution (20-2867), which says the county “should engage in efforts to redirect funds from policing and incarceration to public services not administered by law enforcement.” 

Lightfoot cracks down on Chicago party housesCrain’s Chicago Business, July 24, 2020
To discourage party houses, Lightfoot wants to ban one-night stays in short-term rentals and give the city’s Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection more power to shut them down. The mayor’s reform package also includes proposals to tighten the licensing process for residents who want to rent their homes through vacation-rental websites. Under one change, vacation-rental hosts would no longer be able to rent out their homes while awaiting a license from the city, a big loophole.

Lightfoot to back ordinance to cut air pollutionChicago Sun-Times, July 25, 2020
Noting health problems plaguing low-income Black and Latino neighborhoods, city officials said Saturday that Mayor Lori Lightfoot will push a zoning reform ordinance aimed at reducing air pollution in residential areas surrounded by heavy industry. The political promise was immediately met with skepticism from Southeast Side residents protesting the planned move of industrial metal shredder General Iron to their community. 

Longtime Cabrini-Green advocate accused of misusing funds for displaced residents; CHA seeking to amend consent decreeChicago Sun-Times, July 26, 2020
The Chicago Housing Authority is asking a U.S. District judge to amend the 2000 consent decree following a report critical of how funds intended for displaced or current Cabrini-Green residents were being used.

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