Illinois Insights: An Update from Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies (12/19)

December 19, 2022


Lightfoot tests positive for COVID as infections rise, by Crain’s Chicago Business.

Mayor Lightfoot, Chicago Department of Public Health, And Community Safety Coordination Center Announce Emergency Supplemental Victim Service Fund to Ease Trauma Caused By Gun Violence, from the Office of Mayor Lightfoot.



Cook County commissioners propose loan program to combat recent rise in property taxes: “During its Dec. 15 regular meeting, the board referred to the County Finance Committee a resolution which would create a property tax relief loan program (R-23-0593). Two sponsors of the resolution, Comm. Alma Anaya (D-7) and Comm. Anthony Joel Quezada (D-8), noted the legislation is necessary following the increases in property tax bills residents experienced across Chicago and Cook County, with significant spikes in some Latino neighborhoods in Chicago,” by The Daily Line.

Gov. Pritzker to serve second term with familiar faces — and will continue to personally pay senior staffers: “The governor also will retain all of his deputy governors, including Christian Mitchell, Sol Flores, Martin Torres and Andy Manar — and his chief of staff, Anne Caprara,” by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Gov. Pritzker Announces Staff Transitions: “Ahead of being sworn in to serve the state of Illinois for a second term, Governor JB Pritzker announced the following staff transitions,” from the Office of Gov. JB Pritzker.

Illinois failed to take action even though it knew 3M had been polluting the Mississippi River with forever chemicals for more than a decade: “For more than a decade state regulators in Illinois failed time and time again to hold 3M accountable for air and water pollution from its third PFAS plant in the United States, located on the Mississippi about 15 miles upstream from the Quad Cities,” by the Chicago Tribune.

After much thought — including a run for governor — Barickman ready for new stage in life focused on family: “Barickman announced on Dec. 5 he will retire from the Senate at the end of the 102nd General Assembly on Jan. 11 to spend more time with his young children after juggling his political career, private career and family life since he was joined the Senate in 2013 after serving a term in the House. A rising leader in the party and Senate, Barickman, 47, said several thoughts ran through his mind as he was making a decision about his future,” by The Daily Line.


Feds say indicted Ald. Carrie Austin exaggerating health issues to avoid trial on corruption charges

Federal prosecutors on Friday reported that recent FBI surveillance found that indicted Chicago Ald. Carrie Austin (34) is exaggerating health issues to avoid standing trial on corruption charges.

Austin and her top aide, Chester Wilson, were indicted in June 2021 on charges that they took bribes in the form of home improvement materials – sump pumps, a dehumidifier, kitchen cabinets, granite countertops, and bathroom tiling –  as kickbacks from a developer overseeing a $50 million development in her ward. They have both pleaded not guilty.

Austin, who has served as the 34th Ward alderman for nearly 30 years, suffers from chronic and worsening heart failure, as well as a breathing condition. Her health problems came to the forefront last December when she collapsed in her seat during a City Council meeting.

Austin’s legal team filed a motion last month asking to separate her case from Wilson’s and that she be declared medically unfit to stand trial due to her deteriorating health, but FBI investigators conducted ‘limited surveillance,’ which found evidence that the alderwoman performed her political duties and daily errands unassisted and with no health threats.

In their response Friday, prosecutors wrote that Austin has not shown even the ‘bare minimum’ of proof that she is incapable of facing a jury. Prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge John Kness to set a trial date for both defendants immediately. Austin’s team has until Jan. 6 to file a response to the allegations.


CTA, Metra to get $185 million in federal funding to make stations more accessible: “Chicago will receive a total of $185 million in federal funding to make several of its Chicago Transit Authority and Metra stations accessible for disabled riders, officials announced Monday as part of a new program tucked into the bipartisan infrastructure law signed by President Joe Biden last year,” by the Chicago Tribune.

Shadow of Michael Madigan looms in fight for 23rd Ward alderman: “At issue is an aldermanic battle that isn’t even in Madigan’s home 13th Ward but rather the neighboring 23rd, which has long been in his sphere of influence. Incumbent Ald. Silvana Tabares, a one-time Madigan ally who has since broken with the former speaker, finds herself challenged by community organizer Eddie Guillen, a recent worker in Madigan’s political organization who’s getting support from Madigan’s replacement in the Illinois House,” by the Chicago Tribune.


‘Tis the Season: Beltway Briefing Holiday Edition

Public Strategies’ Howard Schweitzer, Mark Alderman, Patrick Martin, and Kaitlyn Martin wrap up this year’s Beltway Briefing podcast series as they reflect on key political and legislative battles of 2022 and – as the 118th United States Congress gets ready to convene, look ahead to events in Washington and beyond in 2023.

Listen to the full Beltway Briefing here.


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