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Women rally for the ERA in 1981. Photos courtesy Marilyn Katz and Tina Tchen (inset). 0

ERA stories, Lightfoot’s pal & Priebus hitting town

June 3rd, 2018

Len Goodman

LEN LIKES LORI: Len Goodman, the Chicago attorney and top investor in the Chicago Sun-Times, is dipping his toe into politics.

He’s holding a political fundraiser for his friend, mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot.

“Lori is an experienced manager in City of Chicago departments, a veteran litigator, former federal prosecutor, and criminal justice and police reform expert,” Goodman said in an email inviting friends to the fundraiser. “I’m supporting Lori because I feel strongly that Chicago needs a trusted leader who can bring people together to address the problems that plague our city.”

The event will be held later this month at his Lincoln Park home. In his email, Goodman encouraged campaign contributions of $5,000, $2,500, $1,000, $500, $250, “or whatever you can afford.” For his part, Goodman has donated $10,000, according to state election-disclosure forms.

Lightfoot is among nine challengers facing incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel for the city’s top job.

Goodman, who has the largest stake in the Sun-Times, is the nephew of financier and philanthropist Lester Crown. Over the years, Crown and his family have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Emanuel’s various political campaigns.

Newspaperman Goodman is outspoken about his politics–they’re progressive–but he isn’t likely to seek office the way publishing moguls William Randolph Hearst or Robert McCormick did back in the day.

Goodman is focused on his legal work. Right now he represents former Gov. Rod Blagojevich in his bid to be released from prison on federal corruption charges.

Tina Tchen

ERA VOICES: “Better late than never,” says Chicago political activist Marilyn Katz about Illinois becoming the 37th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. “More important–it’s an indication of the power potential of  women today. ERA is no longer a ceiling, but the floor on which to build.”

She’s among the women who participated in the first effort to ratify the ERA in Illinois.

Chicago attorney Tina Tchen did, too. She’s the former aide to President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama who also headed up the White House Council on Women and Girls.

Tchen grew up in Ohio, where she crossed paths with Chicago’s first lady, Amy Rule. After college (Harvard) and before law school (Northwestern), Tchen came to Illinois to fight for the ERA.

“I learned about organizing and women’s issues” during that time, she told me recently, giving credit to former NOW president Ellie Smeal.

Tchen recalled demonstrations that turned “the sleepy town of Springfield” on its head.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan remembers, it too, including protesters who chained themselves to the capital.

Back then, Madigan was a high school teenager tagging along with her step-dad, House Speaker Mike Madigan, watch lawmakers vote on the ERA. With its passage, Lisa Madigan said, “It’s overdue.”

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Reince Priebus

PRIEBUS HITS CHICAGO: Reince Priebus is headlining a fundraiser in Chicago this month.

The former White House chief of staff who was buried by the chaos of the West Wing will find support at the annual  Panhellenic Scholarship Foundation gala. The group awards scholarships to undergraduate students of Hellenic (Greek) descent. Priebus is Greek-American.

Among the foundation’s advisers and board members are Dimitri Bousis, owner of the Chicago Cermak Market grocery chain, and his philanthropic wife, Eleni. They’ve also donated to the Republican National Committee and to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s campaigns. The Bousises also count the Rauners as friends.

Individual tickets for the June 16 event at the Hilton Chicago range from $250 to $2,500. Corporate sponsorships go as high as $50,000.

Laurie Metcalf

MORE ‘ROSEANNE’ FALLOUT: During its recent fundraising gala, Steppenwolf Theatre Company auctioned off three experiences that included a taping of “Roseanne” in Los Angeles for $40,000 each. Now that the show’s been canceled, organizers are working to replace the taping portion of the auction item.

Steppenwolf is the theatrical home of actress Laurie Metcalf, who co-starred as Roseanne Barr’s sister, Jacky, on the show.

“In light of the ‘Roseanne’ cancellation, we are working with our ensemble members and our various contacts in LA to arrange for alternate packages,” a Steppenwolf spokeswoman told me.

Metcalf was going to be part of an on-set tour for the auction winners. And Metcalf’s ex-husband, “Scandal” actor Jeff Perry, and his TV producer wife, Linda Lowy, will still host auction winners at their Hollywood home. Perry is a co-founder of Steppenwolf.

The theater company’s gala was held last month, days before Barr posted a racist tweet about former Obama White House adviser Valerie Jarrett. That led to ABC canceling the show.

Jarrett and Hobson

VOICES OF REASON: Speaking of Valerie Jarrett. She and Mellody Hobson are leading the dialogue about race relations in the United States.

Jarrett, the former aide to President Barack Obama and corporate board leader, responded to Roseanne Barr’s racist tired against her as “a teaching moment.”

And Hobson was a featured speaker in the racial sensitivity trainign conducted by Starbucks last week. She serves on the company’s board.

My Starbucks barista tells me Hobson, also the president of Ariel Investments, talked about her own experiences with racism and the importance of being “color brave.” It’s a phrase she used in a Ted talk. Now it’s a term Starbucks is adopting, too. The point is to embrace discussions about race–even when they’re uncomfortable.

The barista described the meeting as interesting and Hobson as “inspiring.”

Jesse Jackson

AMAZON DIVERSITY: The Rev. Jesse Jackson addressed shareholders at Amazon’s annual meeting in Seattle last week.

During the question-and-answer period with the company’s top brass, Jackson encouraged Amazon to work harder to diversify its workforce and its board of directors.

It’s part of the civil rights leader’s campaign to get tech companies to diversify.

Amazon’s board had opposed a shareholder proposal requiring the company to consider women and minorities for open board positions. That drew such an outcry that Amazon changed its tune and pledged to consider “a slate of diverse candidates, including women and minorities” for future openings on its board.

Jackson called that pledge positive, but said, “We hope you will go beyond the resolution.” An all-white board is “not fair, not accurate, not good.”

Outside of the meeting, protesters, including drag queens urging Amazon to select a second headquarters in a state with strong gay-rights laws. Their chant: “No Gay, No Way.”

Jackson plays host to the annual Rainbow Push international convention June 13-16.

ARBOR UPDATE: The chutzpah of Patrick Arbor never ceases to amaze.

The former CBOT chairman spent years on the lam to avoid paying $18 million to his ex-wife as part of their divorce. He unabashedly attended his grandson’s college commencement, where he was briefly arrested and released. When the law finally caught up with him, he stood before a Cook County judge defiant as ever.

He remains jailed–still.

Don’t be surprised if his grown children and attorney convince him to make a deal with his ex, Antoinette Vigilante.

Arbor’s health could be an issues, but family members may worry that a long court battle would cut into his assets (their inheritance).

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