Happy Wednesday, Illinois. Mayor Rahm Emanuel threw a holiday party last night for his staff at the McDonald’s HQ in the West Loop. Hors d’oeuvres included chicken McNuggets, of course.

We’re getting a glimpse of what J.B. Pritzker and Juliana Stratton’s inaugural festivities might look like based on who’s pulling the party together. Think big, modern, inclusive—and it will all be funded by Pritzker himself.

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That means the inaugural committee, traditionally charged with raising funds to cover costs of the event, will focus solely on putting on a grand affair.

Pritzker’s wife, M.K. Pritzker, is serving as a chair of the committee—appropriate because she’s familiar with putting on big events. M.K. founded the nonprofit Evergreen Invitational, an equestrian grand prix jumping show that’s raised $6 million for women’s health-care initiatives at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. (M.K. has been riding horses since her childhood in South Dakota.)

Some of the Pritzkers’ closest pals and confidantes are on the committee, including, Lee “Rosy” Rosenberg, chief of staff at the Pritzker Group and an adviser to Pritzker on the campaign; businessman Michael Sacks and Cari Sacks; businesswoman Linda Johnson Rice; Marko Iglendza, CEO and Founder of Terminal Getaway Spa, and Neal Zucker, CEO and co-founder of Corporate Cleaning window cleaners; and businesswoman Desiree Rogers, who oversaw 330 White House functions while she was social secretary in the Obama administration.

Artist Theaster Gates is on the committee, too. His work is known internationally but in Chicago he’s adored for helping revitalize the South Side with the Stony Island Arts Bank.

Another co-chair is Bryan Echols, senior adviser to the state treasurer and a leader in community-based organizations. Mary Urbina-McCarthy, who was operations director for Pritzker’s campaign, is executive director of the inaugural committee.

The rest of the committee consists of members from a broad and diverse swath—nonprofits, business, upstate, downstate. They include: Obama Foundation President Martin Nesbitt; real-estate developer Elzie Higginbottom and his wife, Deborah; high-end boutique owners Ikram and Josh Goldman; lobbyist Loretta Durbin (wife of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin); educator Barbara Bowman (she’s Valerie Jarrett’s mom); activist Emma Lozano; media exec Eve Rodriguez Montoya; community leader Felicia Davis; nonprofit leader Sol Flores; Illinois Business Immigration Coalition’s Rebecca Shi; LIUNA labor President Nicole Hayes; and businessman Skip Braziel and Erica Annise Braziel.

Politicos on the committee: former Gov. Jim Edgar and his wife, Brenda; Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ President Kristina Zahorik; Chicago Housing Authority Board Chair John Hooker; Highway Commissioner Calvin Jordan and his wife, Lori; former Congressman Glenn Poshard and his wife, Jo; St. Clair County Auditor Patty Sprague and attorney Bob Sprague; former state Rep. Lauren Beth Gash and Studio Gang Principal Gregg Garmisa; North Aurora Village Trustee Mark Guethle and his wife, Louise; and Wanda Rednour, wife of the late John Rednour, a former Du Quoin mayor.

Inaugural events will take place the weekend of January 12-13 followed by the swearing-in ceremony and inaugural celebration on Monday, January 14.


Government and political PR veteran Becky Carroll has been tapped by J.B. Pritzker to serve as communications adviser to his transition committee. Carroll previously held key comms positions in the statehouse, mayor’s office and with Chicago Public Schools. She’s now president and CEO of C-Strategies LLC and active in supporting the #MeToo movement in state government.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is setting the table for mayoral debates and forums for weeks to come. He joined suburban mayors Tuesday to call for a 20- to 30-cents-a-gallon gas tax to help fund mass transit and road improvements. And in a speech to the City Council today, the mayor will call on state lawmakers to legalize marijuana, approve a Chicago casino and amend the state Constitution to allow public-employee pension benefits to be adjusted so as to avoid a pension crisis. “Too many people look at our pension obligation through green eyeshade — in terms of dollars and cents. That is just one way to see it, but it is not the whole picture. The other is in terms of our principles and priorities,” his prepared speech reads. His take on pensions was a talking point in a debate last night (see below).


Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman has as details about the gas-tax proposal: Story here

WBEZ’s Claudia Morell looks at gambling and pot proposals: Story here

Tribune’s Bill Ruthhart has details about today’s speech: Story here

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— Last night’s mayoral debate at the Copernicus Center on the Northwest Side started calmly enough. Candidates made their opening statements, sticking to their bios. When it came to Gery Chico, he lit into Toni Preckwinkle, saying, ”Toni, that soda tax really hurt us. That sales tax you said you’d repeal hurt us.”

The discussion moved fast with 10 participating candidates covering TIFs, crime, workers’ comp and pension issues. The event was sponsored by the 38th Ward Dems.

A few zingers: Lori Lightfoot challenging Preckwinkle: “Join me in calling for taking away the $100 million ‘ATM’ that Ed Burke controls with the Workers Comp system.” Ja’Mal Green, whose petitions have been challenged by Willie Wilson, talked about Wilson, saying, “He’s not black first. He’s rich first.” Wilson has challenged Green’s petitions. Here’s a video of the full debate. And WGN also hit a second debate held earlier in the evening. Story here

— Mendoza looks to block election challenge filed by Preckwinkle campaign. Suzana Mendoza’s campaign says she has more than enough names to get on the Feb. 26 ballot and called Toni Preckwinkle’s challenge of her petition signatures “shoddy.” The Mendoza campaign plans to file a motion today seeking to dismiss Preckwinckle’s challenge. Tribune’s John Byrne reports. Story here

— When Garry McCarthy jumped into the mayor’s race a few months back, it looked like he was at least in part driven by revenge on Mayor Rahm Emanuel for firing him. The former Chicago Police chief has denied that, saying he wants to be mayor because he has “the public-service DNA.” But yesterday, during a City Club discussion about crime, McCarthy sounded a lot like a guy who still has a beef with his boss. “There should be a criminal prosecution on the coverup of the Laquan McDonald video and it should go all the way to the Fifth Floor,” he said, referring to the mayor’s City Hall office. “And I’m not done with it. I’ve spoken to numerous law enforcement agencies about it and nobody wants to touch it because of the politics of it. This is part of the problem in this city.”

— At odds with Obama: 6 Chicago mayoral candidates say presidential center should guarantee certain community benefits. Tribune’s Bill Ruthhart has story here.

— Longtime journalist Charles Thomas has joined Amara Enyia’s mayoral campaign as a senior adviser. In a statement announcing the move, Thomas said he was drawn to her campaign because of her promise of inclusivity. “Her goal is to return control of the city government to the people. No other candidate is doing that,” he said. Thomas spent more than 25 years at ABC Eyewitness News in Chicago, primarily as a political reporter. He retired from TV last year.

— EPA finds another source of toxic manganese on Chicago’s Southeast Side, by Tribune’s Michael Hawthorne: About 3,800 people live within a mile of Watco Transloading, where EPA data show average concentrations of brain-damaging manganese exceeded the federal safety limit — and spiked nearly five times higher — in September and October. Story here

— How it feels to be Javion: 16 and struggling to read in Chicago Public Schools, by Chalkbeat Chicago’s Adeshina Emmanuel: “How Javion became a high school student reading at the second-grade level is impossible to say for sure. But multiple forces play a role: Intergenerational poverty and violence abetted by segregation and disinvestment that have strangled opportunities for black families in neighborhoods on the South and West Sides. Underperforming schools concentrated in underserved communities. A special education system that avoided serving students. A patchwork approach to literacy instruction. And thousands upon thousands of students like Javion, who have endured deep, searing losses and trauma.” Story here

— Limiting our right to sign more than one candidate petition is beyond ridiculous, writes Trib columnist Eric Zorn. Column here

— Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker will meet with Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JP Morgan Chase, for an announcement about a new commitment by the bank to Chicago’s South and West sides. The event will feature remarks by Dimon, Pritzker and other business and community leaders, as well as a roundtable discussion with community nonprofit partners and small business owners who will talk about boosting commercial activity on the South and West side. Dimon is a New York businessman but he used to live in Chicago.

— Evanston’s Harley Clarke Mansion saved by council. Unanimous vote fails to mask the deep divides among aldermen and residents, by One Illinois’ Ted Cox. Story here

— Pritzker supports financial audit of Lincoln foundation, by WBEZ’s Dave McKinney: Gov.-elect JB Pritzker has signed on to lawmakers’ push to audit the financially struggling Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation, whose officials are asking for cash from the state to pay off $9.7 million in debt for Lincoln artifacts “including an expensive stovepipe hat whose ties to Lincoln are unproven.” Story here

— State Sen. Munoz says reauthorizing the land and water conservation fund is a win-win. Opinion piece here

— Even a Daley says ‘Boss’ Madigan has gone too far trying to crush DePaul freshman in 13th Ward, writes opinion columnist John Kass.

— Sen. Dick Durbin sat down with Illinois Public Media’s Niala Boodhoo and Alan Montecillo Tuesday to talk FEMA, the farm bill and a “long overdue” re-evaluation of the U.S.-Saudi relationship. Listen here

— Rep. Cheri Bustos, the newly elected head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, says she wants Illinois’ Betsy Dirksen Londrigan and Minnesota’s Dan Feehan to run again after narrowly losing their House races last month. “They’ll be great candidates. And then they’ll just continue to grow. So those are two that I hope we’ll have an opportunity to pick up in two years,” she told TPM.

— Sprawling 2020 field creates wild early-state scramble, by POLITICO’s Natasha Korecki: Story here

— Trump jams Republicans with shutdown vow, by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett and John Bresnahan: Story her

— Pelosi on verge of deal with rebels to reclaim speakership, by POLITICO’s Heather Caygle, Rachael Bade and John Bresnahan: Story here

At City Hall delivering remarks on Chicago’s pensions.

Schedule not provided.

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