Welcome to Clout Street: Morning Spin, our weekday feature to catch you up with what’s going on in government and politics from Chicago to Springfield. Subscribe here.
It’s Election Day in one Chicago ward and a handful of suburbs.
In the city, the only action is in the 4th Ward, where an alderman appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and endorsed by former President Barack Obama will try to keep her seat.
Anything can happen in a low-turnout special election. Ald. Sophia King faces four challengers in a contest that was triggered by the resignation of former Ald. Will Burns last year.
Minister and activist Gregory Seal Livingston and attorneys Ebony Lucas, Marcellus Moore Jr. and Gerald Scott McCarthy are trying to defeat King, sometimes criticizing her ties to established politicians.
There are 36,588 registered voters in the 4th Ward, according to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. As of mid-afternoon Monday, about 1,600 early and mail ballots had been cast, representing a little more than 5 percent of the ward’s voters. That’s a low rate, which is no surprise for an off-year, special municipal election.
A candidate can avoid a runoff election Tuesday and win the seat outright by winning more than half the votes cast. Otherwise, the top two candidates will face each other in April.
Our preview of the race is here, and election officials say voters can find their polling place here.
Four candidates are on the ballot in Aurora: state Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, Ald. Richard Irvin, Ald. Michael Saville and Rick Guzman, assistant chief of staff in the mayor’s office. Five write-in candidates have signed up, too.
The top two vote-getters move on to April’s election. There also are races for mayor Tuesday in Berwyn, Calumet City, Dolton, Evanston and Waukegan.
What’s on tap
*Mayor Emanuel will have a neighborhood development-themed day. He’ll talk about city plans to move the vehicle fleet headquarters from Goose Island to Englewood, talk about a retail corridors program and make a speeh at the 23rd annual Chicago Neighborhood Development awards at McCormick Place.
*Gov. Bruce Rauner has no public events.
*The Illinois Senate is set to meet. Two weeks ago, Rauner weighed in on its sweeping budget proposal, which could come back up at any time.
*Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs will hold a Black History Month event at the Thompson Center at noon.
*Likely to overshadow anything in Illinois politics Tuesday is a prime-time speech by President Donald Trump to Congress. It’s scheduled to start at 8 p.m. Central.
From the notebook
*California watchdog coming to Chicago: Mayor Emanuel has chosen a new deputy from California to help him oversee the ongoing revamp of the city’s police accountability system.
Walter Katz, now the independent police auditor in San Jose, is expected to start April 10 as deputy chief of staff for public safety, according to a city announcement made Monday. He’s filling the spot left open with last month’s departure of Janey Rountree, who left the same day the U.S. Department of Justice issued its report on Chicago police conduct and oversight.
City Hall is grappling with many police-related issues, from high violent crime rates that have become a national storyline to the Justice Department report. The report was the result of an investigation launched following the release of a police dashcam video showing black teen Laquan McDonald being fatally shot by a white police officer.
Katz is a former deputy inspector general of Los Angeles County, where he oversaw the Sheriff’s Department, and a onetime deputy public defender. He sits on a national board that deals with issues of civilian oversight of police and has written about independent investigations of deaths involving the actions of police officers.
“I think that Walter Katz is a highly credible choice,” said Craig Futterman, a University of Chicago Law School professor who founded the Civil Rights and Police Accountability Project of the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic. “He has the kind of integrity and experience to facilitate needed changes to the way we do policing and approach public safety in Chicago.” (Hal Dardick)
*Soda pop tax fizzling out? A majority of the Illinois House has gone on record opposing any new taxes on sweetened beverages by signing onto a resolution from state Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills.
McSweeney has been joined by about 66 co-sponsors in the 118-member chamber on the resolution opposing a beverage tax.
“We are thankful for Representative McSweeney’s initiative and support for retailers and the beverage industry,” Rob Karr, the president and CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, said in a statement.
“A statewide beverage tax would be devastating to the state’s economy and we’re glad to see a majority of House members being supportive of an industry that employs thousands of Illinois residents,” Karr said.
A state tax on sugary drinks has been explored as part of revenue-raising efforts for the still-evolving budget talks between Senate leaders aimed at ending Illinois’ historic budget stalemate. (Rick Pearson)
*We’re not last: A new ranking of the states by U.S. News & World Report finds Illinois placing 29th overall based on a wide range of criteria, including education, economy and infrastructure.
But the report, scheduled to come out Tuesday, ranks Illinois 47th among the 50 states when it comes to government. That ranking is based on fiscal stability, budget transparency, government digitalization and state integrity.
Ranking below Illinois when it comes to government were Kansas, Nevada and, at the very bottom, New Jersey.
As for positives, U.S. News noted Illinois ranked 10th for infrastructure and is among the top states for gender equality. “It also has one of the best Internet speeds and lowest suicide rates,” the publication said.
U.S. News said the rankings give more weight to what citizens value most in their states, with health care and education at the top. Infrastructure, crime and corrections, opportunity, economy and government are also included.
Illinois ranked 32nd on health care, 20th on education, 10th on infrastructure, 29th on crime and corrections, 19th on opportunity and 44th on economy.
Ranked No. 1 overall was Massachusetts because it ranked first for education and second for health care. Rounding out the top five states were New Hampshire, Minnesota, North Dakota and Washington.
Ranked 46th overall was New Mexico, followed by Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and dead last was Louisiana — a state that came in just ahead of Illinois when it comes to rankings for government. (Rick Pearson)
*Chance the Meeter: Chance the Rapper tweeted Monday he’ll meet “privately with the governor Wednesday. The two of us will address funding education in Chicago.”
Previously, Gov. Rauner let it slip that he’s planning to meet with the Grammy winner this week, though his office declined to say when or where.
Rauner (or the staff member who runs his account) had tweeted congratulations to the 23-year-old rapper for his three Grammy wins for best new artist, rap album and rap performance. Chance responded by thanking the governor and saying he’d “love” to set up a meeting.
The recording artist has been pretty vocal about Chicago’s problems and the government’s need to fix them.
What we’re writing
*State’s Attorney Foxx’s office investigating whether corrupt Chicago cop tainted other convictions.
*Rauner skips dinner with Trump in D.C., is “in conversations” with administration about violence.
*Rauner to revamp Medicaid program in hopes of saving money, improving care.
*Ex-worker says he lied to grand jury out of fear of retaliation by Dorothy Brown.
*CPS says shorter school year possible absent favorable ruling in funding suit.
*Under fire, Jesse Jackson Jr. says he feels ‘attacked from all angles.’
*Al Jourdan, past chairman of Illinois Republican Party, dies at 82.
*Duckworth: I’ll work with Trump on transportation spending plan.
*Ricketts says Cubs will work with city on All-Star bid for the 2020 game.
What we’re reading
*14 shot in Chicago over the weekend as violence continues to outpace last year.
*The New York Times goes to southern Illinois.
*Pitchfork fest headliners: LCD Soundsystem, Tribe Called Quest, Solange.
Follow the money
*Days before it fumbled an envelope at the Oscars, PricewaterhouseCoopers gave $20,000 an Illinois political committee for CPAs.
*Track Illinois campaign contributions in real time here and here.
*Trump to propose 10 percent increase in defense spending and big cuts to other agencies.
*George W. Bush weighs in on the media and Trump’s travel ban.
*Church congregants reveal years of abuse.
*911 call: Bar shooting suspect said he’d killed ‘Iranians.’