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Manuel Martinez

Newsletter: Another Piece In The Madigan-ComEd Puzzle

Hey, it’s Friday! Sweet, sweet Friday … the 13th? Here’s what you need to know today. (PS: You can have this delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.)


1. How 2 former ComEd execs helped Mike Madigan maintain his political power

Two former ComEd executives sued in 2016 to keep legislative redistricting in the hands of powerful politicians like Illinois House Speaker and Democratic Party boss Michael Madigan. Now those former executives are caught up in a federal probe into the utility giant.

WBEZ has learned that former ComEd CEO Frank Clark’s name appeared on documents that federal agents used in May to raid the offices of the City Club of Chicago.

Federal authorities are investigating ComEd’s lobbying practices and whether the electric utility hired politically connected contractors and employees — some with ties to Madigan — in exchange for government favors, including rate increases. [WBEZ]

2. The House is expected to vote on impeaching Trump next week

After a 14-hour session yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee today approved the two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. Both were approved 23-17 along party lines.

A vote in the full House to impeach Trump could take place next Wednesday, NPR reports. If the full House approves the charges, then the Senate will hold a trial to determine whether to remove Trump from office or, more likely, to acquit him. [NPR]

3. Federal judges question whether the city of Chicago is responsible for an off-duty cop’s actions

Three federal appeals judges this week repeatedly suggested “the Police Department could not be held responsible for its employees’ actions outside of work,” reports the Chicago Tribune.

The judges questioned the constitutionality of a 2017 jury verdict awarding a record-breaking $44 million to a man shot in the head by off-duty cop Patrick Kelly after a night of drinking. The city of Chicago is appealing that verdict even though it acknowledges Kelly shot the man, arguing that it is not liable for the shooting because Kelly was not on duty at the time. [Chicago Tribune]

Meanwhile, the Chicago Police Board last night handed down a six-month suspension to a sergeant who shot a teenager with mental disabilities. [WBEZ]

4. U.K voters give Boris Johnson a mandate to move forward on Brexit

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party claimed a landslide victory in yesterday’s election, giving the Brexit backer the biggest majority since Margaret Thatcher’s win in 1987, reports NPR.

Johnson now has the support he needs in Parliament to move forward with Britain’s divorce from the European Union next month.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who campaigned against Johnson and called for another voter referendum on Brexit, said he will not lead his party in the next election. [NPR]

But trouble could be brewing for Johnson. The New York Times reports that millions of former Labour voters supported Johnson, and they have very different expectations of Brexit than Conservative voters. [New York Times]

5. Will recreational marijuana sales be delayed in Chicago?

Ald. Jason Ervin wants to ban pot sales in the city until July, saying he is not happy that minority communities impacted by the war on drugs are not fairly represented within the blooming pot industry.

Ervin is the chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus, the council’s largest voting bloc with 20 members, and the Chicago Tribune reports there is “widespread anger within the group.” If all members of the Black Caucus vote together, they would be very close to the majority they’d need in the 50-member chamber to delay marijuana sales, set to begin on Jan. 1. [Chicago Tribune]

The state’s efforts to boost racial equity in the cannabis industry have come under question. As Crain’s Chicago Business reported last month, minority applicants trying to get a state license have faced “a daunting array of challenges.” [Crain’s]

Here’s what else is happening

  • The U.S. and China reached a “phase one” agreement that marks a major de-escalation in the trade war. [NPR]

  • Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi said a fee on e-cigarette manufacturers will help fund a federal prevention program. [Chicago Tribune]

  • Six finalists will vie for $10 million from the Pritzker Traubert Foundation to transform parts of Chicago’s West and South sides. [WBEZ]

  • The mother of the late Chicago-area rapper Juice WRLD said her son struggled with addiction. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Oh, and one more thing …

Oh, what’s this? More BEST OF 2019 lists?

Sound Opinions co-hosts Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot take a look at the best albums of the year. Jim’s No. 1 album was Lizzio’s Cuz I Love You, and Greg enjoyed Jamila Woods’ Legacy! Legacy! [WBEZ]

NPR covers the best TV shows, and there’s a lot of good ones that I personally love, like HBO’s Los Espookys, Watchmen and Chernobyl. Oh yeah, and Netflix’s The Crown because Princess Anne and Princess Margaret are the real TV heroes I need right now. [NPR]

And because someone always has to pull a one-upmanship in the “best of [insert year]” news season, The New York Times runs down the best ~episodes~ of the year, from Shrill’s pool episode to James Holzhauer’s defeat on Jeopardy! [New York Times]

Tell me something good ...

WBEZ’s Making Beyoncé is among the podcasts that The New York Times says are “worthy of your time.” So I’d like to know what podcasts you’re listening to.

Shelby F. in Uptown writes:

“I’m listening to Twenty Thousand Hertz, a podcast about the world’s most interesting and famous sounds and where they came from. Examples include the three chimes from ‘N-B-C,’ the audiobrand for Netflix (dun dun!), and the background dialogue that’s happening in just about every movie and TV series. It’s a fascinating show and so fun to listen to what a voice would sound like if we had the ability to hear on the planet Venus while taking the L to work.”

Thanks for all the podcast recommendations this week!

Thanks for reading and have a nice night! I’ll see you on Monday. And if you like what you just read, you can subscribe to the newsletter here and have it delivered to your inbox.

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