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GOP SLAMS potential for shorter BLAGO sentence — African American political wonks DON’T — CONWAY to skip slating

GOP SLAMS potential for shorter BLAGO sentence — African American political wonks DON’T — CONWAY to skip slating

TGIF, Illinois! I’ll be at the Bud Billiken Parade Saturday to watch all the politicos — and the marching bands. President Donald Trump seems a little less enthusiastic about actually commuting ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s 14-year sentence after having raised it repeatedly to reporters on Air Force One Wednesday night. By Thursday night, he tweeted that “many people” asked him to study the possibility, and that the “White House staff is continuing the review of this matter.” But t he GOP outcry was already in full swing. “It’s important that we take a strong stand against pay-to-play politics, especially in Illinois where four of our last eight governors have gone to federal prison for public corruption,” Reps. Rodney Davis, John Shimkus, Adam Kinzinger, Mike Bost and Darin LaHood said in a joint statement . Commuting the sentence of Blagojevich, “who has a clear and documented record of egregious corruption, sets a dangerous precedent and goes against the trust voters place in elected officials.” Illinois House Republican leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs, meanwhile, worries Trump is “attempting to make Blagojevich a ‘folk hero’ while continuing to grind a personal ax against a federal Justice Department that investigated Trump and his former 2016 campaign,” reports Tribune’s Rick Pearson. Wednesday night, Trump made a note to say that it was former FBI Director James Comey — “the same gang — the Comey gang and the — all these sleazebags” — that helped put Blagojevich in prison. Illinois Democrats also criticized the idea of commuting Blagojevich’s sentence. In a statement, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the ex-governor is “where he belongs.” Mayor Lori Lightfoot accused Trump of not respecting the rule of law. “If you look at the track record, he’s pardoned Sheriff [Joe] Arpaio, he’s pardoned Scooter Libby, and now he’s dangling the carrot in front of the Blagojevich family, which frankly is pretty cruel, given how both the wife and the daughters have been devastated by the incarceration of the former governor,” she told reporters. But Lightfoot declined to say whether she thinks Blagojevich’s 14-year sentence was too long, reports WBBM’s Craig Dellimore. An interesting wrinkle given that Blagojevich’s attorney, Len Goodman, was a top donor to Lightfoot’s campaign. KUSHNER’S SUGGESTION: The idea of releasing Blagojevich early was pushed by Trump senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who has internally championed pardons and commutations. He suggested pardoning Blagojevich would appeal to Democrats, according to an official who talked to The New York Times. There’s some truth to that. The Rev. Jesse Jackson recently penned a letter to the president supporting a commuted sentence and “full pardon.” And some Chicago political strategists and analysts say Chicago’s African American community generally supports a shorter sentence for Blagojevich. “We’re extremely sensitive” to issues related to over-sentencing, said Delmarie Cobb, who served as Hillary Clinton’s Illinois press secretary in 2016 and Jackson’s press secretary during his 1988 presidential run. “Black people feel Blagojevich was unfairly sentenced and treated and was used as an example. We know there are people who have done far worse and received far less time.” Just consider Jason Van Dyke’s seven-year sentence for the murder of Laquan McDonald. “All Blagojevich did was talk smack,” said Cobb. “Bottom line, [Blagojevich] always respected black political power and what black voters could do for him,” Charles Thomas, a veteran political journalist and commentator, told Playbook. Along with actively courting voters, Blagojevich introduced health care programs for kids, free CTA rides for seniors and hired “black people with political heft to government jobs. They weren’t token appointments.” Still, one “positive” move won’t change how black voters view Trump. “It would be like a drop of water in a gallon bucket,” said Robert Starks, a professor emeritus in political science at Northeastern University RELATED: Patti Blagojevich tweeted that she’s “hopeful” and “grateful.” A Blagojevich timeline by the Tribune. Bill Conway, who officially threw his hat in the ring Thursday to run for Cook County state’s attorney, won’t attend next week’s Democratic Party slating — but not because he doesn’t want the support. The former Cook County prosecutor says he has Navy duty next week. “I’ll be advocating for an open primary,” he told Playbook. Conway is a Navy intel officer who previously worked as a state’s attorney under Dick Devine and then Anita Alvarez before going into private practice. While in the Navy, Conway says he focused on cutting off the flow of illegal weapons to the Taliban. It’s about following the money that buys guns, he told Playbook. “We found that to be an effective strategy and I want to do the same thing in Cook County.” On the issues, Conway embraces elements of criminal justice reform — a hallmark of incumbent Kim Foxx’s administration. “We have to stop criminalization of poverty. But we have to take into account that there are people who are a danger to the community and those are the people who have to be in jail.” Conway’s campaign is expected to be well-funded: His father co-founded The Carlyle Group, one of the world’s largest private-equity firms. Conway also has signed on Trisha Rooney, a Democratic fundraiser for former Mayor Rahm Emanuel, as his campaign chair. “I am always encouraged and empowered by my good friends wanting to make our world a better place,” Rooney said in an email to friends about the appointment. — Reps. Jesús “Chuy” García and Lauren Underwood are part of a congressional delegation visiting Central America. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is leading the 13-member group. They’re traveling to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, and then McAllen, Texas. The group plans to meet Central American government officials to discuss shared interests and recognize the region’s contributions to the United States, Pelosi’s team said in a statement. — HEADS UP, ICYMI: Illinois senators push Major League Baseball to create foul-ball injury registry, writes Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet: “Illinois Democratic Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, already pushing for more safety netting in ballparks, say fans need to know the locations of dangerous seats.” Have a tip, story, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for the Playbook? Get in touch: skapos@politico.com . At Chicago Commons Nia Family Center on Monticello Avenue to encourage families to enroll their 3- and 4-year-olds in a Chicago Early Learning preschool program. At the State Fair Grounds to cut the ribbons at the newly-renovated Coliseum and the Conservation World exhibit, and then speaking at the County Fair Day luncheon. No official public events. — LGBTQs fete U.S Rep. Kelly at Lake View event: “Call it a sign of changing times as Mayor Lightfoot and other LGBTQ leaders hold a fundraiser for the South Side/south suburban congresswoman,” writes Crain’s Greg Hinz. — DEM TO CHALLENGE BOST: Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, will have a challenger for 2020. “ Joel Funk has filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission to raise money as a Democrat for a campaign in the 12th Congressional District, which encompasses most of southwest Illinois,” by Belleville News-Democrat’s Joseph Bustos. — GOP Chair Pearson says state House candidate Baldermann “dogged by double-dipping,” by Will County Gazette’s W.J. Kennedy: “As a Republican candidate for the state House, New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann, 53, is almost certain to face scrutiny from voters over his receiving a publicly-funded pension check and multiple government pay checks, says George Pearson, chairman of the Will County Republican Central Committee. ‘These double-dipping issues have dogged the mayor. Voters are tired of people holding office to get the benefits.’” — Lightfoot to lower the boom on Chicago taxpayers Aug. 29, reports Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman: “Mayor Lori Lightfoot is poised to lower the boom on beleaguered Chicago taxpayers on Aug. 29 — by disclosing a shortfall that tops $1 billion — during a prime-time speech that she hopes will be carried live by some media outlets. Before an audience likely to include civic leaders and community groups, the mayor will deliver a state-of-the-city address that finally comes clean about the size of the shortfall she inherited from Rahm Emanuel and what she intends to do about it.” — Chicago’s top cop says he’s also ‘deeply troubled’ about city gun crime database , in fiery letter that blasts county public defender’s criticism, by Tribune’s Juan Perez Jr.: “Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson fired a full-throated defense of a controversial city database at the county’s public defender Thursday, saying an online listing of alleged gun offenders offers a legally protected and ‘good and transparent practice.’ … ‘When I review the Gun Offender Dashboard, I am deeply troubled because after 31 years of service as a Chicago Police Officer, I know personally and professionally the fear, suffering and pain that gun offenders who carry firearms with impunity can bring to communities across Chicago,’ the superintendent wrote.” — Cop testifies at hearing into fatal police shooting of black teen , by Tribune’s Elvia Malagon: “Chicago police Officer Michael Coughlin Jr., fighting to keep his job, testified Thursday at a Police Board hearing that he fired off nine shots at a driver fleeing in a stolen Jaguar in 2016 because he wrongly believed the car had run over his partner…. [18-year-old Paul] O’Neal was fatally shot in the back moments later by another officer after a foot chase, but police Superintendent Eddie Johnson is seeking to fire Coughlin and his partner, Jose Torres, for opening fire at a moving vehicle in violation of department policy.” — $619M for renovations at 300 schools shows new priority on neighborhood schools, CPS says: “A new $7.7 billion budget released Thursday also calls for a huge expansion of pre-K classrooms and STEM, International Baccalaureate and fine and performing arts programs,” by Sun-Times’ Nader Issa and Mitch Dudek. — Amtrak moving forward with Union Station food hall, new Clinton Street entrance, writes Jay Koziarz of Curbed. “Amtrak aims to open the food court by next summer. The rail operator is funding the project with more than $10 million generated from the sale of its nearby parking garage, which will be redeveloped into a 700-foot-tall BMO Harris-anchored office tower. Demolition work is expected to begin before the end of the year.” — Tribune Media’s River District interests buyers as potential casino site: “On his way out former Mayor Emanuel, he gave the green light to a few megadevelopments. One of them was a proposal for Tribune Media’s River District which involved a $2.5 billion proposed megaproject. Just a few months later that 37-acre site went up for sale and now it’s getting more interest from buyers who see part of the site as an ideal location for Chicago’s first-ever casino,” by Curbed’s Sara Freund. — WITH LIZ DOZIER’s HELP: Inner-City Muslim Action Network is a transitional housing program that helps men “in need of emergency lodging, a safe place to land, somewhere they can plan a future and maybe line up a job.” It gets funding from Chicago Beyond, a nonprofit founded by the former Fenger High School principal featured on CNN’s “Chicagoland” series. — What the gov: Your O’Hare questions, answered: “Reporter Alejandra Cancino follows up on readers questions received about the BGA’s investigation into O’Hare International Airport.” From truck stops to elections, a river of gambling money Is flooding Waukegan, reports ProPublica’s Jason Grotto: “Owners of one of Illinois’ largest video gambling companies are behind efforts to influence city politics, expand gambling and build a casino near land they control.” — Feds declare statewide agriculture disaster, writes One Illinois’ Ted Cox: “Gov. Pritzker welcomed the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s formal designation for all 102 state counties, which will free the way for farmers and other agricultural businesses to obtain Farm Service Agency emergency loans and other federal resources.” — Illinois to spend $20M to encourage complete census count, reports the Associated Press. — State in no state to certify gun dealers as law requires , reports Tribune’s Dan Petrella: “The agency was supposed to begin issuing certifications to federally licensed gun dealers July 17, but the rules required to implement the law still haven’t been established. In the meantime, gun dealers that have applied under the Firearm Dealer License Certification Act are allowed to continue operating as if they’ve been certified.” — Pritzker backs ban on large-capacity magazines, by NPR’s Brian Mackey: “I think all of us have seen that in several of the circumstances, these horrible circumstances, these high capacity magazines were used or were going to be used, either way,” Pritzker says — Illinois Senate prez says indicted Sen. Thomas Cullerton is still ‘a valued member of the caucus and a friend,’ by Sun-Times’ Robert Herguth: “A federal investigation that resulted in an embezzlement and conspiracy indictment announced Aug. 2 against state Sen. Thomas Cullerton hasn’t cost him the support of Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, a distant cousin. In his first public comments since the charges were announced, John Cullerton told the Chicago Sun-Times the Villa Park Democrat remains ‘a valued member of the caucus and a friend of mine’ — and declined to say whether federal prosecutors have contacted him.” — Illinois pays out nearly $4.7 million in back pay to state employees over 2 weeks , by Tribune’s Jamie Munks: “The first checks and electronic deposits are beginning to trickle in for state workers who saw some of their pay withheld during former Gov. Bruce Rauner’s tenure. Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s office announced Thursday that nearly $4.7 million in state worker back pay has been processed in the past two weeks — a small fraction of the estimated $300 million to $400 million in back pay owed to thousands of state employees.” — At hearing on financial aid scandal, lawmakers grill officials and look to close a loophole, by ProPublica’s and Melissa Sanchez and Jodi Cohen: “Need-based financial aid programs are a zero-sum game. When a student who does not qualify for the aid manipulates the system and is awarded money, there are students who are qualified for the aid who don’t receive it … and consequently they lose out on college altogether,” said state Rep. Carol Ammons, a Democrat from Champaign. “However, the rising costs of college should not be overlooked in this case. A system that drives families to cheat is a broken system.” — Why some parents, health care experts worry active shooter drills in schools do more harm than good , by NPR Illinois’ Lee V. Gaines — McLean Co. clerk defends election requests in tense finance meeting, by WGLT.org’s Eric Stock: “Several Democratic McLean County Board members questioned some of County Clerk Kathy Michael’s budget requests and voter projections during a heated Finance Committee meeting Wednesday, while the three-term Republican countered by suggesting Democrats were trying to relitigate the 2018 election. Michael plans to ask the County Board for up to an additional $400,000 to handle voting during the 2020 elections.” — Former Ald. Joe Moore has been hired as a national director of Palos Heights-based Diliberto Real Estate Services. He’ll be part of the company’s Municipal Economic Services Group, writes Crain’s A.D. Quig. — Erika Wozniak Francis, a former CPS teacher and CTU activist who ran for alderman of the 46 th Ward, will join the office of Ald. Samantha Nugent (39 th ) as chief of staff beginning Aug. 19. Wozniak is also co-host of The Girl Talk, a live public-affairs talk show at The Hideout. — Jaylin McClinton, a community organizer at the Obama Foundation, is leaving for law school at Illinois Institute of Technology’s Chicago-Kent College of Law. McClinton, a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, previously worked as a management and administration intern for President Obama and later as a district manager to then-state Rep. Juliana Stratton. — Pelosi to Trump: Use the Constitution to force Senate action on guns , by POLITICO’s Heather Caygle — Harris and Biden go full-throttle in the first-in-the-nation caucus state: by POLITICO’s Natasha Korecki and Christoper Cadelago — McConnell: Background checks, red flag laws will be ‘front and center,’ by POLITICO’s Marianne LeVine Today: Greg Ahern, a Circuit Court associate judge; Bill Daley, the Bank of New York Mellon exec and former candidate for Chicago mayor. Saturday: David Doig, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives president; Kara Highfill, campaign manager for state Treasurer Frerichs; and Elaine Soloway, a noted essayist. Sunday: Rich Carter, Cor Strategies government affairs director and spokesman for former state Comptroller Munger; Andrea Darlas, radio broadcaster and director of constituent engagement at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Catie Keogh, co-host of Trip Sisters travel show. View all our political and policy newsletters

GOP SLAMS potential for shorter BLAGO sentence — African American political wonks DON’T — CONWAY to skip slating

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