Daily Political Highlights
March 16, 2023
March 16, 2023
Here you go!
* Capitol News Illinois | Transit agencies look to the state for help making up projected $730 million budget gap: Officials with the state’s largest transit agencies met with lawmakers on Tuesday to sound the alarm for what Regional Transportation Authority Executive Director Leanne Redden called a “looming operational crisis.”
* Sun-Times | Over 100 FBI recordings will be played at ComEd trial, but defense claims jurors will hear no hard evidence of bribery: The opening statements Wednesday kicked off the highly anticipated trial of Madigan confidant Michael McClain, ex-ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, former ComEd lobbyist John Hooker and onetime City Club President Jay Doherty.
* Center Square | Prosecutors object to proposed defense expert on lobbying in ComEd bribery case: “The focus of Drutman’s proposed testimony – the basics of lobbying – resembles the principles taught in a high school civics class,” prosecutors argued in a motion that seeks to exclude or limit the testimony. “The jury will be familiar with the general notion of how a bill becomes a law and how various political and non-political actors influence that process based on the government’s fact witnesses, which will include current and former legislators and lobbyists.”
* ABC Chicago | ComEd bribery trial against Mike Madigan’s political cronies kicks off with opening statements: Streicker kicked off with a direct quote attributed to defendant and close Madigan confidant, Mike McClain, in which he is alleged to have said: “It’s that simple. We have to hire these guys because Mike Madigan came to us.”
* WTTW | ‘We Had To Hire These Guys Because Mike Madigan Came to Us’: Opening Statements in ‘ComEd Four’ Trial Underway: According to Streicker, jurors will hear from the defendants “in their own voice carrying out the bribery scheme in real time and when they thought no one was listening.” These wiretapped phone calls — more than 100 of which are expected to be played at trial — will also include conversations between the defendants and Madigan himself.
* Sun-Times | Railroad merger OK blasted by suburban mayors, Illinois lawmakers: The merger could further tie up commuters using Metra’s Milwaukee District-West Line as regulators expect the number of daily freight trains to increase from three to 11. “To say we’re disappointed is a gross understatement,” said Frank DeSimone, village president of Bensenville. “They approved a 400% increase in freight traffic in our community.”
* Capitol News Illinois | Pritzker: Tax cuts on the table if state revenues continue to exceed expectations: The governor did not say whether tax cuts would be permanent or which taxes he and lawmakers are considering cutting. And tax cuts were one of several potential uses of excess revenues the governor said he would like to consider. Others include contributions to the state’s “rainy day” fund and added payments beyond required amounts to the state’s pension system.
* Vandalia Radio | Illinois State Board of Education discusses increased spending with House committee: Board Chair Steven Isoye and other board members met with the Illinois House Appropriations Committee and requested an extra $350 million towards the state’s Evidence-Based Funding formula.
* Sun-Times | DEA’s new Chicago boss Sheila Lyons: Will target fentanyl, an ‘awful, terrible challenge’: Lyons, the first woman to hold the post, says she’ll target Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel and Jalisco New Generation Cartel, saying the fentanyl they supply is “like nothing I’ve ever seen in my 30 years in law enforcement.”
* WAND | Illinois House Republicans demand reforms to attract businesses: Two representatives from the Rockford region explained Wednesday that people in their districts are struggling to get by after a Jeep assembly plant shut down indefinitely. That announcement came the same day Stellantis announced thousands of new jobs opening at a plant in Indiana.
* Sun-Times | How a gun violence spike in 2016 created a movement of Chicagoans that is still building: Over the last six years, support for community-based violence prevention has swelled in Chicago. It started with a “really shocking and enormous” increase in shootings.
* AP | Warnock’s campaign chief sees lessons from Dems in Georgia: Fulks, who has also worked for Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and is now on a politics fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School, deflected questions about a possible Biden gig. But allies tout him as more than ready for a national campaign.
* USA Today | Texas judge hears arguments in lawsuit that could force major abortion pill off market nationwide: U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk gave both sides two hours to make their arguments in a case that could dramatically alter access to medication abortion, which makes up well over half of all abortions, by targeting the decadeslong FDA approval of the drug mifepristone.
* Tribune | Goats found wandering on South Side brought to Chicago Animal Care and Control: The three beauties were brought in as strays by a worker to the animal control facility at 2741 S. Western Ave. They were found near 6000 S. Wood St., and officials said they were very friendly and eating normally. One of the agency’s partners supplied goat feed for them during their short stay.
* Tribune | Rev. Wheeler Parker was there in the bedroom when Emmett Till was abducted. His memoir recounts the 70-year push for federal charges: There’s a haunting moment in Parker’s new memoir, “A Few Days Full of Trouble: Revelations on the Journey to Justice for My Cousin and Best Friend, Emmett Till” (written with Northwestern University journalism professor Christopher Benson), in which he wonders what Till was thinking as he was led to his death. The story has been told often: In 1955, Bryant alleged that Emmett Till, a Black teenager from Chicago visiting his relatives, wolf-whistled at her in a grocery store. Four days later, in the middle of the night, there was a knock on the door of the home where Till slept. Two men, J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant, Carolyn’s husband, carrying guns and flashlights, ordered Till to dress and drove off with him. Till was tortured, lynched and shot in the head. His death served as a catalyst for the nascent civil rights movement.
* AP | TikTok dismisses calls for Chinese owners to sell stakes: The company was responding to a report in The Wall Street Journal that said the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., part of the Treasury Department, was threatening a U.S. ban on the app unless its owners, Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd., divested.