Happy Tuesday, Illinois. I hope you found a teenager to shovel the snow like I did. And, as you may have noticed, we’re having some issues with formatting and links this week. Our engineers are on it.
On the heels of a vitriolic fight with the mayor’s office, leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union face a new battle: opposition from within their ranks.
There’s a union election coming this spring and current CTU leadership “sees work stoppages and strikes as the first step, and not the last one. They are far more focused on advancing their own political careers than delivering for us,” the Members First Caucus of the CTU says in a video message kicking off its campaign to defeat Jesse Sharkey and Stacey Davis Gates — the public faces of the union’s Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE).
Mary Esposito-Usterbowski, a citywide CPS school psychologist, is running for president of the Members First caucus in the May 20 election. She blames CTU for failing to work alongside Chicago Public Schools before winter break to make sure a plan was in place for the safe return of students and staff to school. Leadership was “reactive,” she said in a statement, instead of “proactive.”
Sharkey defended his team’s work. “This leadership has advocated for good quality public schools for students and the people who work in them,” he told Playbook. “It’s been difficult working with this mayor and the previous one, who are poor listeners. We’re proud of our advocacy.”
And Gates, who didn’t rule out a run for mayor, said in an interview Monday, “I’m running for reelection for the Chicago Teachers Union. We are working hard to implement the safety agreement to make sure that my three children and the rest of the children who attend public schools are safe as they can be during the pandemic. Those are my specific priorities.”
This isn’t the first time Sharkey and Gates’ CORE has faced opposition. Sharkey and Gates defeated the Members First Caucus three years ago. And before that, CORE’s Karen Lewis led the union from 2010 to 2018. Over the past 12 years, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and before her Rahm Emanuel have faced strikes, work stoppages or threats of both.
Like Lewis before them, Sharkey and Gates tapped into the frustration union members have toward management — in this case the mayor’s office — to rally teachers to stay out of the classroom until they could get what they felt they needed. They found success after previous work stoppages, but some educators say they got little in return for fighting City Hall this last time. Union members ultimately lost four days of pay and received KN95 masks.
And though parents over the years have widely supported teachers, this month, they appeared to start to lose patience. Pop-up rallies around Chicago indicated a frustration with CTU members taking a stand that kept their children out of the classroom.
The campaign against Sharkey and Gates will also point to how CTU accounts for spending. The Members First caucus says CTU had $8.8 million in cash reserves seven years ago, but now has none. The caucus also says CTU has loaned millions of dollars, including to political candidates, and hasn’t seen those monies returned.
IRVIN’S JUICE: Ron Gidwitz, a Republican insider and former ambassador to Belgium, is among the big business donors getting behind Richard Irvin’s bid for governor. Gidwitz’s $100,000 donation comes as Irvin starts to roll out campaign ads on TV today.
More than $1.1 million was reported by Irvin’s campaign last night, according to the State Board of Elections. And for those keeping track, none of the donations are from Ken Griffin.
The donor list is a who’s who in business: Craig Duchossois of Arlington Park fame gave $250,000; billionaire real estate developer Sam Zell, $100,000; Winnetka businessman James Frank, $250,000; MacLean-Fogg Co., and chaired by Barry MacLean, $250,000.
Irvin’s ad showcases his experience as mayor of Aurora, which saw its share of violence in 2020. The ad says Irvin “called in the [national] guard, closed exit ramps and shut down the riots.” And it quotes him in a press conference saying, “We will not put up with this B.S. and foolishness.”
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Jesse Sullivan, another Republican hoping to win the primary for governor, is also out with a TV ad today — and he focuses on crime, too..
Sullivan’s ad, which is part of a seven-figure ad buy, compares Chicago crime to Afghanistan — it’s something Donald Trump liked to say. Sullivan goes on to say “Pritker’s leftist agenda is literally killing us.”
RELATED: Governor hopeful Darren Bailey on the road in Morton, by WMBD’s Austin Schick
Have a tip, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? Get in touch: [email protected]
On a virtual chat at 11:15 a.m. with the Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm as part of the National Community Solar Partnership Annual Summit.
No official public events.
Joining government, health and community leaders at noon for a virtual press conference addressing opioid overdoses in Cook County and announcing a $2.6 million grant to improve access to treatment for substance abuse disorders.
— Two years — and five surges — after Illinois’ first Covid-19 case, latest metrics ‘headed in the right direction’: “Although patients hospitalized with Covid-19 remained high at 5,238 occupied beds — a daily total reached last year on only a handful of days — it still meant 2,100 fewer patients hospitalized with the virus than when Illinois hit its record high on Jan. 12,” by Sun-Times’ Taylor Avery.
— One in four CPS elementary students is vaccinated, with rates varying widely by school: “New data show about 53% of high schoolers are vaccinated. Use WBEZ’s tool to look up vaccinations rates for your Chicago school,” by WBEZ’s Sarah Karp.
— Court weighing masks in school and other mitigations, by Capitol News’ Peter Hancock
— Pritzker vetoes proposal to pay Covid-19 sick leave to all school employees: The governor signaled support” for a ‘compromise’ plan that would limit compensation to only those who are fully vaccinated,” by Tribune’s Karen Ann Cullotta.
— Nearly 10,000 women traveled from out of state to have an abortion in Illinois in 2020 — a 29% increase,by Tribune’s Angie Leventis Lourgos
— State lawmakers look to increase the legal age of marriage: A new bill is looking to raise the legal age to get married in Illinois to 18, by Fox Illinois’ Jordan Elder
— With DCFS worker’s death comes a push for safety changes, reports State Journal-Register’s Steven Spearie
— Illinois dentists report worker shortages due to pandemic, by WTTW’s Leslie Hurtado
— As remote work at the Capitol continues, some state lawmakers attend meetings on the road, by State Journal-Register’s Andrew Adams
— Renters facing eviction could receive free legal aid under new $8 million city initiative: “Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration plans to hire a contractor to run a program in the first half of 2022 that would provide funding for lawyers to represent low-income tenants,” by Tribune’s Sarah Freishat and Gregory Pratt.
— Airport contract workers to get raise — and then another next year: “Roughly 6,500 employees serving as everything from caterers, de-icers, and baggage handlers to wheelchair attendants, airfield and cargo workers stand to benefit,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.
— CPS’ top education, health officials leaving as CEO announces major shakeup in leadership team: “Chicago Public Schools’ Interim chief education officer Maurice Swinney is resigning and chief health officer Ken Fox is retiring, both effective in February,” by Sun-Times’ Nader Issa.
— CPS defends change in the way it reports Covid-19 cases online after aldermen demand answers, by Tribune’s Tracy Swartz
— Council panel agrees to pay $14M to 2 men imprisoned 43 years for murder they didn’t commit, by WTTW’s Heather Cherone.
— Committee rejects $125,000 settlement for woman whose son was fatally shot by police after he stabbed officer, by Tribune’s John Byrne
— Nikole Hannah-Jones on her speech that jolted Union League Club audience: ‘I can probably never do it again,’ by Sun-Times’ Mitch Dudek
An anti-racism consultant says she received hate mail and racist comments about training at Hinsdale District 86: “The vitriol and lack of professionalism in the direct messages I received from members of your school community demonstrates a clear lack of goodwill to address issues of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in your district,” the letter stated. “I got several messages yesterday and really think Hinsdale is a dangerous place and would not be physically comfortable there.” Zareen Syed reports.
— The IL-03 race is seeing its first labor endorsements. Gil Villegas has earned the support of Teamsters Joint Council 25, the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, and United Steelworkers of America Local 17. Villegas, a Chicago alderman, also picked up State Reps. Fred Crespo and Marty Moylan, and a half dozen more local mayors who represent parts of the new district. A former bakery truck driver and Teamster shop steward, Villegas said the new endorsements from organized labor and local leaders were “particularly meaningful.”
— Jonathan Swain has made it official, filing for the IL-01 seat that Rep. Boby Rush now holds. Swain, a Hyde Park businessman and nonprofit CEO, is also assembling his campaign team and advisers, including Jeffrey Wright as campaign treasurer.
— Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul has secured the endorsement of the Illinois AFL-CIO in his re-election bid.
— Norma Hernandez, who works at Triton-College as an administrative assistant. launched her campaign for state Representative in the 77th House District and has already received an endorsement from Congressman Chuy García (IL-04). Hernandez is challenging Democratic Rep. Kathy Wililis, which is interesting given Willis believed Garcia wouldn’t get involved in the race.
— John Fritchey, a former state Rep and a former Cook County commissioner, announced his run for judge in the 8th Subcircuit for the June 28 primary. “I am confident that my experience, background and beliefs would enable me to be an effective judge who can apply the law fairly while never forgetting the impact our system has on all of us,” he said in a Facebook post announcing his run.
— Former state Rep. Wayne Rosenthal is running for the newly drawn 108th House seat. Rosenthal, a Republican, represented the area before leaving the General Assembly to head the Illinois Department of Natural Resources during Bruce Rauner’s administration.
We asked what word really grates on you: “Mindsharing,” writes Jeff Schoenberg…. “No worries,” grates on Steve Hild. … “Classy” works for inanimate objects but not people, says Elliot Regenstein. … “Irregardless,” says Kevin Lamm. … And Gail Purkey abhors the word “abhor.”
Where’s the strangest place you’ve sat in on a Zoom? Email [email protected]
— House ethics committee continues Rep. Marie Newman probe over alleged job offer to potential rival: “At issue is whether Newman improperly induced Iymen Hamman Chehade to not run against her in 2020 in exchange for a House job. Chehade is running for Congress from another district in the June Democratic primary,” by Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet.
— Rep. Cheri Bustos (IL-17) and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin will hold a news conference at the Peoria Lock & Dam in Creve Coeur to discuss the $829 million allocated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the modernization of Illinois locks and dams.
— 8 senators revive Russia sanctions push as Ukraine invasion fears mount, by POLITICO’s Alexander Ward and Andrew Desiderio
— Virginia’s education wars emerge in Florida governor’s race, by POLITICO’s Matt Dixon
— Trump conquered Ohio. Now his followers want the governorship, by POLITICO’s Zach Montellaro and Michael Kruse
— The most influential Black Americans in history: Barack Obama, Jesse Jackson, Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, Robert Abbott, Benjamin Davis Sr., Quincy Jones, and Ida B. Wells are among the 44 selected by The Undefeated.
Tina Sfondeles is now VP of public and media relations for Mac Strategies in Chicago (her happy place!). She most recently was a White House reporter and co-author of West Wing Playbook at POLITICO and before that covered politics for the Sun-Times.
Nancy Palese, co-founded iconic namesake pizza restaurants in Chicago, dies at 87: “She and her husband and restaurant co-founder Rocco Palese created a hearty “stuffed” pizza (not deep dish) that would become the core of Nancy’s Pizza restaurants,” by Sun-Times’ Maureen O’Donnell.
— Today at 5 p.m.: Nancy Pelosi headlines a fundraiser for Democratic Party of Illinois along with Party Chair and Congresswoman Robin Kelly.
— Today at 7 p.m. Abby Witt, executive director of the Democratic Party of Illinois, and political consultant Frank Calabrese headline a discussion for Young Democrats.
MONDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats Kim H. Tran and Jon Maxson for being first to correctly answer that Illinois school children voted on the cardinal as the Illinois state bird.
TODAY’s QUESTION: What former Chicago legislator was known for driving a Rolls Royce around Springfield? Email [email protected]
Chicago attorney Tina Tchen, Cleveland Avenue managing partner Andrea Zopp, GPG Strategies President & CEO Michael Axelrod, Fig Media President Michele Gustin, and Laura Bagby, comms director at the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism.