Illinois Insights: An Update from Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies (3/20)

March 20, 2023


Chicago’s COVID-19 Risk is Low, from the Chicago Department of Public Health.


Cook County halts small business grant program over lawsuit alleging discrimination 

Cook County has decided to end its small business grant programs in response to a December lawsuit questioning its constitutionality.

The Small Business Source Grow Grant program, originally set to begin earlier this year, would use $71 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to award small businesses with $10,000 grants.

The program would look “to close racial wealth and opportunity gaps” by prioritizing businesses owned by “historically excluded populations,” including minority populations, women, and LGBTQ+ individuals. The application was open to for-profit businesses with less than 20 employees if they had “experienced a decrease in revenue or gross receipts, increased costs, or greater financial insecurity due to COVID.”

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Chicago chiropractor Domenic Cusano Jr., alleged that the prioritization of certain applications based on racial factors violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Cusano, who identifies as white Caucasian, claimed he would not be “on equal footing” with other applicants.

At a news conference Thursday, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle shared that they will “rescind, restructure, and refine the program to try to get the money out to small businesses as quickly as possible … rather than trying to litigate it.”


House sends cat declawing ban, rideshare service bills to Senate: “With the deadline to advance legislation to the next chamber fast approaching, the Illinois House of Representatives began passing dozens of bills last week,” by the State Journal-Register.

Gov. Pritzker Shares Proposed Higher Education Investments at Malcolm X College in Chicago: “On the final day of his Community College Tour, Governor JB Pritzker was joined by Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton, state officials, and community leaders at Malcolm X College to highlight proposed investments in higher education,” from the Office of Gov. JB Pritzker.

Kennedy Expressway construction begins Monday, expect major delays: “Stretches of the inbound Kennedy will be blocked between the Edens Expressway and Ohio Street as part of a three-year construction project,” by WBEZ.



‘Chuy’ García endorses ex-rival Brandon Johnson for mayor, aiming to lock down progressive vote against Paul Vallas: “U.S. Rep. Jesus ‘Chuy’ García endorsed Brandon Johnson for Chicago mayor Friday, giving the Cook County commissioner a potential boost in the April 4 election,” by the Chicago Tribune.

United Center concessions workers get a pension and wage hikes in new deal: “Unite Here Local 1 said the contract expands health insurance coverage, provides higher wages and introduces a pension plan. It said concessions contractor Levy will contribute 50 cents per each worker’s hour to a union-run pension plan,” by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Early voting begins Monday in all 50 wards, 2 downtown sites: “The sites will be open Monday through Election Day on April 4. Each site also has secure drop boxes for vote-by-mail ballots,” by the Chicago Sun-Times.

 Search contributions to Paul Vallas’ mayoral campaign, by the Chicago Tribune.

Search contributions to Brandon Johnson’s mayoral campaign, by the Chicago Tribune.


Beltway Briefing: What’s Next for the Banks and Ronald vs. Donald

In what was a textbook case of classic bank runs, Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank collapsed with astounding speed last weekend.

Are these failures the legacies of poor practices specific to these banks, or did aggressive interest-rate hikes and poor bank supervision cause their downfall?  Public Strategies’ Howard Schweitzer, Mark Alderman, Rodney Davis, and Towner French break it all down and debate the current makeup of the Republican presidential field.

Listen to the full Beltway Briefing here.


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