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The Rundown: A property tax hike ahead of an election

Hey there! It’s Wednesday, and I have to do my personal review this week and was told “showing up to work” can’t be an accomplishment. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Lightfoot proposes a $42.7 million property tax hike

Mayor Lori Lightfoot today unveiled a budget forecast showing a $127.9 million shortfall, one of the smallest deficits in recent memory.

To help balance City Hall’s books, Lightfoot proposed a $42.7 million property tax increase, something politicians don’t normally do right before an election. Historically, mayors low-ball the city’s deficit in the run-up to an election, reports my colleague Fran Spielman at the Chicago Sun-Times.

So what’s going on here? Lightfoot and a majority of the City Council last year agreed to create automatic property tax hikes by 5% or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.

As we all know, inflation is a huge problem right now, and we could have been staring down a 5% increase. But what Lightfoot proposed today amounts to a 2.5% increase.

Lightfoot will likely argue her tax increase is modest and could have been a lot worse, but it remains to be seen if voters will buy that argument when they head to the polls in February. [Chicago Sun-Times]

2. The race for mayor of Chicago just got even more crowded

Ald. Sophia King, the chair of the City Council’s Progressive Caucus, is now the ninth candidate seeking to unseat Mayor Lightfoot.

King declared her candidacy this morning and focused on two of “Lightfoot’s most glaring weaknesses: violent crime and the perception of it, as well as the mayor’s combative, dictatorial style of governing,” reports Fran Spielman at the Chicago Sun-Times.

King said she would address violent crime by firing Police Superintendent David Brown, giving “burnt-out” police officers more time off and providing incentives to fill 1,408 sworn police vacancies.

King has ties to former President Barack Obama and Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle.

“I’m gonna try and get support everywhere I can. And of course, I hope to have both of their support. But you’ll have to ask them,” King said of Preckwinkle and Obama. [Sun-Times]

3. Inflation cooled down last month but prices remain high for many everyday items

The good news is gas prices are falling, offering Americans some relief from inflation that hit a 40-year high in June.

But overall prices remain elevated, jumping 8.5% in July compared with a year earlier, according to federal data released today.

Looking month to month, that’s slightly lower than the 9.1% year-over-year increase in June, fueling some cautious optimism that inflation may have peaked.

But housing costs, which are up 5.7% from a year ago, are a growing factor behind inflation.

“That’s moving in the wrong direction for the Federal Reserve,” Diane Swonk, chief economist for KPMG, told NPR. [NPR]

4. Kim Foxx defends her tenure amid a wave of resignations in the state’s attorney’s office

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx this week said the exodus of attorneys is not unique to her office, as burnout and stress from the pandemic have caused shortages of prosecutors in New York City and across the country.

“The reality is we are in the midst of what has been designated the ‘Great Resignation,’ and we have not been spared. We are in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic,” Foxx said.

Foxx has faced questions about a morale crisis in her office after Jim Murphy, a top prosecutor in the office, accused Foxx’s administration of being “more concerned with political narratives and agendas than with victims and prosecuting violent crime,” he wrote in his resignation letter. [Chicago Sun-Times]

5. Illinois officials are revving up plans aimed at getting more electric vehicles in the state

In order to significantly boost the number of electric vehicles on state roads, you’re going to need a whole lotta charging stations.

And state officials recently submitted a report to the Biden administration on how they plan to leverage federal funds to create the infrastructure supporting Gov. JB Pritzker’s ambitious plan to have 1 million electric vehicles in Illinois by 2030, reports Manny Ramos at the Chicago Sun-Times.

The federal government has set aside $5 billion over the next five years for states to expand the number of charging stations for electric vehicles. Illinois is slated to get $148 million, with almost $22 million coming this year. [Sun-Times]

But as Illinois and federal officials push electric vehicles as they tackle climate change, the battery-powered vehicles remain too expensive for many Americans, reports The New York Times. [NYT]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Eight murder cases were dropped based on allegations of misconduct by a former Chicago detective. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • State Sen. Darren Bailey, the GOP nominee for Illinois governor, said he does not have to apologize for comparing the Holocaust to abortion. [Chicago Tribune]
  • The official overseeing court-ordered reforms within the Chicago Police Department has been fired after questioning staff cuts. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • Italian beef is in high demand, thanks in part to Hulu’s The Bear. [NYT]

Oh, and one more thing …

Dungeons & Dragons is typically the first game that pops to mind when someone thinks of fantasy role-playing games, in no small part due to Netflix’s Stranger Things.

But since that show first aired, there’s been a renaissance of tabletop role-playing games, offering something for everyone.

Case in point is Thirsty Sword Lesbians, a queer-friendly game that recently won two major awards for best game and best product of the year at the Gen Con gaming convention in Indianapolis.

At its heart, Thirsty Sword Lesbians is about telling LGBTQ stories with other players, and it favors talking out problems and resolving emotional conflict over picking up a sword and wailing on a villain, though you can still do that if you want. [Polygon]

Tell me something good ...

The new school year is right around the corner. What’s one of your fondest school memories?

Lisa from Berwyn writes:

“One of my favorite high school teachers was Ms. Cherie Beckman, who taught English Lit. She got me to read East of Eden by Steinbeck, which just about made my head explode. I still count it as one of my favorite books, and it was the inspiration for my first tattoo (timshel).

“My absolute favorite moment was HOW she recommended that I read The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe. She said, ‘There’s this book that I think you would like, but I can’t officially recommend it to you. So I’m going to leave it on my desk and then you’re going to steal it.’ What high school kid could possibly resist that recommendation?”

And Lily Kramer writes:

“High school is normally a time in one’s life that we just try to get through. However, one teacher who helped ease that time and make it worthwhile was Mr. Mohyuddin. He was genuinely interested in each of us and our creative writing. He would encourage us to try harder; go for the tougher-to-read book, enter our written works into literary contests. With his urging, I even won one! We all could use a cheerleader like Mr. Mo in life; I’m just lucky I got to take two classes with him.”

Feel free to email or tweet me, and your responses might be shared in the newsletter this week.

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