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The Spin: Lightfoot argues again that bars and restaurants aren’t driving COVID-19 spread | Chicago’s security plan for Election Day unrest | Foxx-O’Brien nearly tied — in money race

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, right, Gov. J.B. Pritzker, left, and public health officials, announce new precautionary measures against the coronavirus, during a news conference at the Thompson Center on Feb. 28, 2020.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, right, Gov. J.B. Pritzker, left, and public health officials, announce new precautionary measures against the coronavirus, during a news conference at the Thompson Center on Feb. 28, 2020. (Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune)

Illinois reached yet another one-day high of nearly 70,000 newly diagnosed COVID-19 cases today.

During a morning news conference, Mayor Lori Lightfoot doubled-down on her argument that private gatherings among friends and family members — not public bars and restaurants — are driving the spread of the coronavirus here. The mayor also said she told Gov. J.B. Pritzker during a meeting that his order halting indoor service at bars and restaurants amid rising COVID-19 cases would prompt already devastated Chicago businesses to put up the “closed” sign for good.

Still, when asked whether the city will enforce Pritzker’s order, Lightfoot said, “Yes, we will.”

In another somber afternoon news conference, the governor reiterated that he didn’t like enacting these restrictions either, but as case numbers soar he said that people’s lives are in the balance, reminding that 10,000 people with the virus have perished statewide and 230,000 nationally.

As Chicago officials rolled out a 10-day safety plan tied to Halloween and next week’s presidential election, the mayor nodded to simmering tensions. But she also said “we need to de-escalate from this long difficult year. … I know that emotions are already high, there’s a lot of apprehension (about what) might happen next Tuesday, but please, I call upon each of you to channel your emotions into peaceful, productive means of expression.”

Mayor Lori Lighfoot and Gov. J.B Pritzker attend a news conference at the University of Chicago's Harper Center on July 23, 2020.

Mayor Lori Lighfoot and Gov. J.B Pritzker attend a news conference at the University of Chicago's Harper Center on July 23, 2020. (Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune)

Lightfoot and Pritzker had that “frank” discussion on Wednesday about the state order for Chicago bars and restaurants to halt indoor service amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. She even backed off efforts to try and talk him out of it. But her comments reflected that perhaps the mayor has some hard feelings about it.

Lightfoot said today the cash-strapped city is looking at ways to help bars and restaurants, making a glancing reference to Pritzker’s office alerting her to the order after announcing it at a news conference.

“Of course my team has been working" to figure out how to help workers and business owners "since we got notice … after the governor’s news conference on Tuesday that this was going to go into effect,” the mayor told reporters. The governor’s office told the Tribune she didn’t return a call on Monday about the matter.

Lightfoot choked up as she talked about how she and her wife last night went out for a“last indoor meal” at a local restaurant — at least for the foreseeable future. She said a member of the wait staff asked to have a picture taken with the mayor, and “I was so overcome with emotion I gave her a hug” — concerned about the welfare of restaurant workers and owners as the shutdown kicks in today.

At issue: The mayor said today and previously that contact tracing in the city shows outbreaks are tied to home or private gatherings in Chicago — not bars and restaurants; but the governor and his top public health official have said when there’s a community outbreak, they want to put a lid on gatherings that put people from different households together and could spread the virus.

Pritzker, facing lawsuits and backlash over tightening restrictions, said lives hang in the balance. He opened his afternoon news conference reflecting on his discussions with those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19. He said they are among the reasons restrictions are in place.

“So, when I asked you to wear a mask. When I asked you to take care of your community, it’s not because I think it’s fun to ask. It’s because I’ve heard directly from those who have lost someone that they love - those families whose normal is never coming back - vaccine, or not. It’s because I don’t want any more people to experience that horrible scolding pain of life lost too soon, a pain made all the more unbearable when the world turns its back on ways to help,” Pritzker said, saying all that grief is “what makes me cry.”

Illinois shatters single-day COVID-19 record set a day earlier with nearly 7,000 new cases: My Tribune colleague Dan Petrella has the story here.

Chicago police Superintendent David Brown speaks to the media, as Mayor Lori Lightfoot looks on, during the announcement of the opening of two new CPD operation centers, at a news conference in Chicago Police Department Area 4 on April 30, 2020.

Chicago police Superintendent David Brown speaks to the media, as Mayor Lori Lightfoot looks on, during the announcement of the opening of two new CPD operation centers, at a news conference in Chicago Police Department Area 4 on April 30, 2020. (Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune)

From the Tribune’s Gregory Pratt, Jeremy Gorner and Kelli Smith: “Under pressure to avoid a repeat of this summer’s civil unrest, Mayor Lori Lightfoot unveiled a 10-day preparedness plan aimed at preventing looting and chaos on Chicago’s streets around Halloween and next week’s presidential election.”

The mayor said there’s "no evidence right now of a credible threat,” but officials in Chicago — and other cities — have been preparing for months as tensions rise over the presidential election. As many as 300 garbage trucks and other heavy city vehicles will be deployed to the Loop and neighborhood business districts as a blockade on wheels, they note. And residents can expect to see plenty of police officers and squads with their lights flashing.

Federal and state law enforcement nationwide — including Illinois — are also preparing in the event of unrest at the polls on Election Day, a response to voter anxieties about safety stoked in part by President Donald Trump, The Associated Press reported earlier this month. Although some residents are concerned about their physical safety, Lightfoot said, “with our planned precautions in place, it is absolutely safe to vote.”

New York building that’s home to Ken Griffin’s $238M condo is hiring security for Election Day, the New York Post is reporting, noting that the city’s “ultra rich are quietly preparing for civil unrest” on Tuesday “by hiring armed guards to stand watch over their luxury Manhattan buildings.”

Final preelection economic reports: Jobless claims fall, GDP rebounds — but COVID-19 endangers recovery: The Associated Press has the details here. Poll after poll shows that the economy is the No. 1 issue for voters in this and just about every presidential election. And in his bid for a second term President Donald Trump has billed the pre-pandemic economy as soaring and “has drawn generally solid public support for his handling of the economy,” the AP piece reminds.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, left, and Republican challenger Pat O’Brien.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, left, and Republican challenger Pat O’Brien.

Incumbent Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has attacked her Republican challenger Pat O’Brien’s record when he was an assistant state’s attorney decades ago, chiefly for his role in the wrongful conviction of four Black teenagers in the rape and murder of a white medical student. My Tribune colleague Christy Gutowski does a deep dive on the 1986 case and resulting criticism today.

Foxx, a Democrat, and O’Brien are neck-and-neck in general-election fundraising totals heading into the weekend before the final race, Friday numbers show, the Tribune’s Alice Yin writes.

Foxx has raised $935,565 since the March 17 primary, according to state records. Meanwhile, former Cook County Circuit Court judge O’Brien has $938,144 in his war chest. The near-deadlock in fundraising comes after O’Brien outraised her during the latest quarter that ended Sept. 30. Since then, O’Brien blew past the self-funding threshold when he made a personal contribution to his campaign this month, opening the doors for larger donations to pour into both candidates' coffers.

“As voters learn more about Mr. O’Brien’s history of wrongful convictions the choice becomes abundantly clear,” Foxx spokeswoman Alex Sims wrote in a statement. “Voters do not want to go backwards.”

O’Brien’s spokesman Brad Goodman countered that his candidate has the grassroots support: “Pat O’Brien has all the momentum going into Election Day. … This weekend Pat and his team of volunteers are working hard to get out the vote and are looking forward to an exciting Tuesday for Cook County residents.”

High-profile figures from Illinois and beyond have opened up their wallets for the two. The largest contributions to Foxx this week were from Chicago Sun-Times investor Michael Sacks, who dumped $100,000, nearly doubling his total donations to her during the general election, and Newsweb Corp. owner and Democratic Party donor Fred Eychaner, who donated $200,000 on top of an earlier $100,000 contribution. O’Brien has some wealthy backers as well, such as billionaire CEO Ken Griffin, who poured in $100,000, and Guaranteed Rate CEO Victor Ciardelli, who added $76,800 this month.

Chicago police investigate a shooting that began with a disturbance outside the bar Tai's Til 4, where an officer shot and killed a man, on Feb. 9, 2020 in the 3600 block of North Ashland Avenue in Lakeview.

Chicago police investigate a shooting that began with a disturbance outside the bar Tai's Til 4, where an officer shot and killed a man, on Feb. 9, 2020 in the 3600 block of North Ashland Avenue in Lakeview. (Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune)

The fate of the Tai’s Til 4, which has been open near the corner of Ashland Avenue and Addison Street since 1961, is in the balance on Tuesday as people who live nearby consider whether to vote the precinct dry, the Tribune’s John Byrne writes. The “ballot referendum (is) backed by some local residents who blame the bar for an early morning February shooting incident that occurred outside the establishment,” Byrne notes.

Byrne notes there’s also a referendum question for residents of the Bronzeville neighborhood, asking if a Bronzeville mental health program should be funded using up to $600,000 in property tax money in 2021.

Whether the graduated-rate amendment passes or fails next week, taxes are going to go up, Tribune columnist Eric Zorn writes.

On the campaign trail tonight: Gov. Pritzker to U.S. senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth and other Democrats are holding a virtual rally to boost support for the tax amendment atop the Illinois ballot.  Other big Dem names attending: Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, Cook County, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, Chicago U.S. Rep. Jesus Chuy Garcia who represents Illinois' 4th Congressional District, 3rd Congressional District candidate Marie Newman, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, former State Sen. Daniel Biss, AFL-CIO Illinois President Tim Drea, Chicago Federation of Labor President Bob Reiter, and SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Greg Kelley. The 6:30 p.m.event will stream live on Facebook.

On Monday, President Donald Trump travels to Wisconsin to make his closing arguments in the battleground state. Trump narrowly won Wisconsin in 2016.

Related: Trump hosted virtual rally for Jim Oberweis, the Republican state senator challenging freshman U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood in the Northwest suburban and exurban 14th Congressional District, the Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet reports.

A sign informs motorists of a red-light camera at Madison Street and Ashland Avenue in Chicago.

A sign informs motorists of a red-light camera at Madison Street and Ashland Avenue in Chicago. (Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune)

Biagi talked at the Department of Transportation’s annual budget hearing about a “dramatic increase in vehicle speeds due to fewer vehicles on the road,” and “a crisis” in fatal crashes involving cyclists and motorists.

Southwest Side Ald. Matt O’Shea, 19th, told Biagi it would make sense to install additional cameras on the existing speed camera poles in the vicinity of city parks and schools, while West Side Ald. Michael Scott Jr., 24th, said the city should consider putting in new speed cameras in different locations entirely. Read the rest of the story here.

Thanks for reading The Spin, the Tribune’s politics newsletter. Sign up here to have it delivered to your inbox weekday afternoons. Have a tip? Email host Lisa Donovan at ldonovan@chicagotribune.com.

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