Illinois Insights: An update from Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies (8/26)

August 26, 2022


Illinois reported 5,116 new COVID cases and 24 new deaths Thursday, by ABC 7 Chicago.

Arwady expresses cautious optimism on spread of monkeypox in Chicago: “The city is not seeing ‘the potentially exponential growth that we were seeing early on,’ the city’s top doctor said Tuesday,” by The Chicago Sun-Times.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, Chicago health chief Dr. Allison Arwady both test positive for COVID-19, by The Chicago Sun-Times.


Pritzker, Democrats vocalize support for Workers’ Rights Amendment ahead of November vote

Democrats receiving endorsements from unions are using it as an opportunity to ask union members to support the Workers’ Right Amendment, an amendment Illinois constituents will vote on in November.

In May 2021, state lawmakers passed legislation that would amend the constitution to say, “employees shall have the fundamental right to organize and to bargain collectively” on negotiations including “wages, hours and working conditions, and to protect their economic welfare and safety at work.”

The amendment goes on to say lawmakers cannot pass any law that “interferes with” organizing and bargaining abilities for union members.

Democrats, who generally receive union endorsements, are using the message to develop a contrast between their party and Republicans. However, as Pritzker’s opponent Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) recently secured an endorsement Pritzker had in 2018 from the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, union support for Democrats may not be a guarantee.

“It would make union organizing a constitutional right and would stop Republicans’ efforts to eliminate collective bargaining,” Gov. JB Pritzker told union members at a campaign rally at the Mid-American Carpenters Regional Council in Elk Grove Wednesday.

In November, Illinois voters will have a chance to support or oppose the proposed amendment.


Pritzker antes up for fall campaign with $5.5 million to top Dem committees: “A-1 contribution disclosure reports filed in the past few days show that Gov. JB Pritzker’s campaign committee has given $1.5 million to the Democratic Party of Illinois, $1 million to the Senate Democrats’ ISDF, and $3 million to the Democrats for the Illinois House,” by Capitol Fax.

Illinois voting rights landscape widens with permanent vote by mail option: “As in the last two elections, Illinois voters will be in for some changes when they hit the polls on Nov. 8, 2022. The most significant change for Illinoisans this time is a new law that gives voters the option of voting by mail on a permanent basis,” by The Rockford Register Star.

Lt. Governor Stratton’s Statement on Biden Administration’s Student Loan Debt Plan: “[On Wednesday,] millions of people [received] news about long-awaited financial relief. With President Joe Biden’s announcement to forgive thousands of dollars in student loan debt for most borrowers, a burden is being eased…” From the Office of Lt. Gov. Stratton.

Illinois public pension fund returns are worse than they look: “A pension expert examines 24 funds, including two big ones in Illinois. ‘The results paint an unflattering portrait of the stewardship of public pension funds in the United States,’” by Crain’s Chicago Business

Pritzker argues he’s a better governor for farmers than career farmer and Republican opponent Bailey: “Both candidates made their pitches to farmers Wednesday at an Illinois Farm Bureau forum in Lexington where Pritzker listed his accomplishments over the last four years to argue he’s a better option for governor for farmers than career farmer Bailey,” by The Daily Line.

Changes under Pretrial Fairness Act could cause issues for rural communities, public defenders say: “The Pretrial Fairness Act is a portion of Illinois’ controversial SAFE-T Act, which rewrites the law on when police can detain someone for a crime, what rights people detained by police have and whether the person arrested for a crime should be held in jail prior to facing a judge on their charges. It also will eliminate cash bail in Illinois and leave pretrial detention up to judges’ discretion,” by The Daily Line.

Buckner wants EPA air monitoring of NASCAR race; DeVore denounces Bailey’s ‘hellhole’ remarks on Chicago: “Rep. Kam Buckner (D-Chicago) is calling on the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) to monitor the air around Chicago’s NASCAR race in 2023. And Republican attorney general nominee Tom DeVore says he does not believe Chicago is a ‘hellhole’ like Republican gubernatorial nominee Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) said,” by The Daily Line.

—  Abortion debate seeping into secretary of state race as Giannoulias tries to create distance from Brady: “The on-going debate over abortion is beginning to seep into the Illinois secretary of state’s race as Democratic nominee Alexi Giannoulias tries to pin down Republican opponent Rep. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington) on the issue,” by The Daily Line.

No timeline for special session, gun legislation as fall approaches: “As summer comes to a close, state leaders say there are no updates on when or if lawmakers will return to Springfield for a special session ahead of the November election,” by The Daily Line.


Chicago ranked among top cities for its Comprehensive Approach to Violence Prevention 

On Tuesday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced The Community Justice Action Fund’s City Violence Prevention Index (VPI) ranked Chicago third of 50 cities for its violence prevention programs, services, and policies.

The VPI scorecard considered 35 criteria spanning three categories to assess and rank cities that had the highest incidents of gun violence in 2021.

Chicago excelled in numerous areas, including Outreach-Based Violence Intervention Programs, Youth and Family Violence Prevention Programs, Strategic Workforce Development Programs, and Victim and Survivor Services.

The recognition comes as the city’s Community Safety Coordination Center (CSCC), a multi-agency coordination center focused on violence reduction using tactics learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, marked its 1-year anniversary Thursday.

Read the full report here.


New ward, precinct maps have 779 fewer precincts but ‘similar number’ of polling places: “While the new ward and precinct maps the Chicago Board of Elections released on Tuesday includes 779 fewer precincts than the previous map, voters won’t see a drastic decrease in the number of polling places for the Nov. 8 General Election, according to election officials,” by The Daily Line.

Chicago aldermen stand to get raises of nearly 10%, unless they turn down the inflation-tied pay hikes by next week: “Chicago aldermen have until next week to decide if they will forgo raises of nearly 10% — otherwise the pay increases will go into effect automatically just weeks before all their seats are up for election,” by The Chicago Tribune.

Former Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson reports to prison: “The onetime Chicago City Council member from Bridgeport was found guilty in February of two counts of lying to regulators and five counts of filing false income tax returns,” by The Chicago Sun-Times.

Lightfoot accuses conservative PAC of darkening her skin in TV ad about Chicago crime: ‘News flash. I’m Black and I’m proud’: “Conservative Dan Proft told the Sun-Times in a text statement that Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s accusation about his PAC’s ad was ‘an insane assertion,’ adding ‘We did nothing to her pigmentation just as we did nothing to [the] pigmentation of our pasty blowhard of a governor,’” by The Chicago Sun-Times.

Auburn Gresham Apartments Breaks Ground on 79th Street: “With nearly $40 million in City support, 58-unit project starts season of INVEST South/West construction,” from The Office of Mayor Lightfoot.

The Community Safety Coordination Center Marks Its First Year of Operation: “Community engagement, cross-departmental collaboration, and data show progress as work continues,” from the Office of Mayor Lightfoot.

Chicago Teachers Union President Stacy Davis Gates says she won’t run for mayor in 2023 but ‘everybody’ knows the city needs a new one: “Chicago Teachers Union President Stacy Davis Gates said Monday she will not run for mayor in 2023 but criticized the current leadership for what she said was failing marginalized communities during a pivotal, trying moment for the city,” by The Chicago Tribune.

CTU delegates approve CPS safety agreement, send vote to full union: “Chicago Teachers Union delegates have voted nearly unanimously in support of a COVID-19 safety agreement with Chicago Public Schools, sending the tentative agreement to the full membership for approval by the end of this week,” by The Chicago Sun-Times.

City struggles to fill CPD mental health clinician positions as aldermen push to lighten workload for officers: “Aldermen are pushing the Chicago Police Department to do more to help officers facing mental health challenges and guarantee they have more regular time off […] During a Thursday joint meeting of the City Council Committees on Public Safety and Health and Human Relations, aldermen heard from leaders in the mayor’s office, Chicago Police Department, Department of Public Health and NAMI Chicago about how to improve officer mental wellness,” by The Daily Line.

Columbus statues won’t return to their pedestals until there’s a security plan, Lightfoot says: “Mayor Lightfoot reiterated that she doesn’t ‘believe in erasing history.’ That’s why she’s been ‘talking to lots of folks about what can we do, how can we do it’ to secure the Columbus statues,” by The Chicago Sun-Times.

Chicago Named a 2022 Digital Inclusion Trailblazer, Announces Further Expansion of ‘Chicago Connected’ for City Colleges Students: “Chicago Connected will now offer no-cost internet to City Colleges students, expanding upon the 100,000+ pre-K-12 students currently in the program,” from the Office of Mayor Lightfoot.

CPS promises to route 1,200 students without bus service and reduce long route times for hundreds more: “Chicago Public Schools students who have not received bus transportation — even though their education plans require the service — will be routed by Sept. 6, CEO Pedro Martinez said Wednesday. Classes started Monday across the district,” by The Chicago Tribune.


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