Illinois Insights: An Update from Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies (11/21)

November 21, 2022


IDPH Urges Public to Protect Loved Ones from COVID-19 and Other Respiratory Viruses During Thanksgiving Holiday, from the Office of Gov. JB Pritzker.



Curran eyes ‘balance’ as he prepares to lead Illinois Senate’s GOP minority: “Senate Minority Leader-elect John Curran, a Republican from Downers Grove, will take over a caucus that’s more than doubled in size by the majority-party Democrats. His goal is to bring ‘meaningful participation’ to state government policy discussions,” by Crain’s Chicago Business.

McCombie talks about the difficulty of protecting moderate candidates from attacks by the ‘far right’: “House Republican Leader in waiting Rep. Tony McCombie was interviewed [Friday] on WXAN,” by Capitol Fax.

Native Americans ask lawmakers to pass legislation on graduation attire, child welfare, mascots in effort to be more engaged in state government: “Illinois Native Americans are working to have a more noticeable presence in the state capitol and are asking lawmakers to consider legislation that improves their acceptance in the state. Representatives from different Native American groups and organizations met in Springfield Wednesday to highlight specific actions they want lawmakers to take to address issues they have encountered in the community,” by The Daily Line.

State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen Ayala Announces Retirement: “State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen Ayala has announced plans to retire at the end of her current contract, which concludes January 31st, 2023. Dr. Ayala has served as State Superintendent since early 2019, shepherding Illinois schools through COVID-19 and kick starting their academic recovery – leading most recently to a decade-high in the state’s graduation rate,” from the Office of Gov. JB Pritzker.


O’Hare expansion gets final OK from feds

Following a Federal Aviation Administration environmental review, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced this morning that construction can now begin on new passenger terminals at O’Hare International Airport.

The project will rebuild O’Hare’s major terminals to enhance the passenger experience with updated facilities and amenities, improve domestic and international connections, and cohesively integrate all four O’Hare terminal facilities.

Under the Terminal Area Plan (TAP), construction will begin with two new remote satellite terminals, which will open in 2027 and 2028. Then, the existing Terminal 2 will be demolished and replaced with a combined domestic and international “global” terminal.

The FAA review process, which began in 2018 and was required by the National Environmental Policy Act, consisted of a complex technical review of potential environmental impacts of the TAP. The assessment released today found “no significant impact” to the surrounding environment.

City Council passed the Terminal Area Plan in 2018 as part of the O’Hare Airline Use and Lease Agreement, allocating more than $8.5 billion of new capital funding in 2018 dollars for the project and approving increased project costs to account for the timing of the development. In August, city estimates projected the cost to rise to $9.8 billion, bringing the total for O’Hare’s overhaul to $12.1 billion.

Petition filing kicks off for 2023 municipal election 

Petition filings for next year’s municipal election kicked off this morning, with the mayor, clerk, treasurer, all 50 aldermanic seats, and new district councils for civilian oversight of the police department all on the ballot. Mayoral candidates, along with those running for city treasurer and clerk, need 12,500 valid signatures to make the Feb. 28 ballot while aldermen need at least 473 signatures.

This morning, the focus was on the mayor’s race as six candidates were in line before the 9 a.m. cutoff to be eligible for a lottery that will determine whose name appears first on the ballot.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot last week said she is waiting until the last day, November 28, to file. Candidates submitting signatures on the last day are put into a lottery to be the last name on the ballot – a significant advantage and a strategy proven beneficial to Lightfoot in 2018.

Perhaps the most noteworthy news today was Ald. Raymond Lopez’s announcement this morning that he is withdrawing from the mayoral race and instead seeking re-election to his position on the City Council representing the 15th Ward.


Ald. Carrie Austin’s lawyers seek to halt her prosecution over medical issues, say the court should not ‘risk the loss of a life’: “Indicted Chicago Ald. Carrie Austin’s lawyers told a federal judge Friday that her deteriorating medical issues — including an inability to walk even short distances — have left her unfit to stand trial, and she plans to resign from the City Council on March 1,” by The Chicago Sun-Times.

Ald. Raymond Lopez bows out of mayor race, will seek reelection to City Council: “Southwest Side Ald. Raymond Lopez is dropping out of the race for Chicago mayor and instead will seek re-election to the City Council, he announced Monday,” by The Chicago Tribune.

With new campaign fund, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s allies are raising cash outside city ethics rules limits: “As Mayor Lori Lightfoot ramps up her bid for reelection, her close allies have created a new campaign fund unbound by how much money contributors can give or who they are — restrictions Lightfoot must abide by,” by The Chicago Tribune.

City blows deadline to make all polling places accessible, deeply frustrating disabled voters 30 years after ADA became law: “The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners was ordered to make every polling place compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act nearly six years ago, but it still hasn’t done so,” by The Chicago Sun-Times. 

Old Rainforest Cafe site in River North gets OK from Chicago zoning board for weed dispensary: “Plans for a cannabis dispensary at the former Rainforest Cafe in River North got a green light from the Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals early Saturday. The board heard the case for four hours, then voted 3-1 in favor of the application after reconvening around 12:45 a.m. Saturday following a closed session,” by The Chicago Sun-Times.


Beltway Briefing: End of an Era, Pelosi Steps Down

Democrats’ strongest showing in a presidential midterm in the last two decades enabled them to retain control of the Senate. After more than a week of vote counting, Republicans secured a slender majority in the House on Wednesday, a delayed yet consequential finish to the 2022 midterm elections that will reorder the balance of power in Washington and is certain to complicate the Biden administration’s efforts to enact parts of the President’s legislative agenda for the next two years. After leading the House Democrats since 2003, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that she will step down next year from her spot at the top of the party, leading to a seismic change on Capitol Hill.

Listen to the full Beltway Briefing here.


Elon Musk restores Trump’s Twitter account after online poll: “Elon Musk reinstated Donald Trump’s account on Twitter on Saturday, reversing a ban that has kept the former president off the social media site since a pro-Trump mob attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as Congress was poised to certify Joe Biden’s election victory,” by The Chicago Sun-Times.


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