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Mayor Lori Lightfoot presides over preside over a Chicago City Council meeting to deliver the 2023 Budget Address at City Hall, Monday morning, Oct. 3, 2022.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot presides over preside over a Chicago City Council meeting to deliver the 2023 Budget Address at City Hall, Monday morning.

Ashlee Rezin

The Rundown: Lightfoot is burning through money

Hey there! I just realized I’ve been writing this newsletter for four years now. Explains why my hair is almost completely gray now. But thank you so much for reading. It means a lot to me. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Lightfoot’s campaign raised $1 million in three months … and most of it has already been spent

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s campaign is struggling to raise enough money to overcome a 25% approval rating, a problem that could spell trouble for her as the February election gets closer, reports my colleague Fran Spielman at the Chicago Sun-Times.

Lightfoot raised $1 million but spent $607,449 in the three months ending Sept. 30, according to campaign finance reports filed this week. That “burn rate” comes as “most of Chicago’s big-money interests remain on the sidelines, possibly waiting for another candidate to announce,” Spielman reports.

Veteran political operative Victor Reyes, who is not involved in the mayoral race, said Lightfoot needs at least $5 million in the bank if she wants to improve her image.

“The anemic fundraising for an incumbent is also like a poll. When the money doesn’t flow, it shows a bit of a trepidation by the institutional players,” Reyes said. “They’re sitting on the sidelines, not knowing if there’s gonna be another candidate.” [Chicago Sun-Times]

Meanwhile, the campaign for millionaire businessman Willie Wilson acknowledged it paid disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich for “some writing and consulting.” [Chicago Tribune]

2. Illinois Democrats debate changes to the Safe-T Act amid attacks from Republicans

Gov. JB Pritzker and some of his fellow Democrats are pushing for changes in the package of criminal justice reforms known as the Safe-T Act, which has been the focus of misinformation campaigns and derided by Republicans as a “Purge Law.”

Pritzker, during a debate last night with GOP nominee Darren Bailey, said he supports changes to clarify that people charged with violent crimes will not be released from jail when cash bail ends on Jan. 1.

“Let’s amend it, but not end it,” Pritzker said. [Capitol Fax]

State Sen. Scott Bennett, a downstate Democrat, has proposed a bill aimed at clarifying the language around the end of cash bail, a plan that Pritzker says is a good starting point for follow-up legislation.

But other Democrats say the proposal threatens to undo some of the key goals of the Safe-T Act. [WGN]

3. Almost half of Illinois voters oppose taxpayer subsidies for the Chicago Bears’ move to Arlington Heights

Forty-five percent of likely voters say they don’t want a single cent of taxpayer money going toward the Chicago Bears’ $5 billion plan to move to Arlington Heights, according to a WBEZ/Chicago Sun-Times poll.

“Why should the taxpayers fund anything? It’s a private organization making tons of money,” said Evanghelos Karasmanakis, a poll respondent. “They’re making huge profits, and everyone still watches even though they never win.”

But when it comes to the actual move, voters were all over the place. About 31% said they support the team moving from Chicago’s Soldier Field, compared to 29% who said they think the team should stay put. About 39% said they weren’t sure.

Unsurprisingly, suburban voters were the most excited about the move. The poll found 51% of voters in suburban Cook County and collar counties support the move. Only 19% of Chicago voters said the Bears should leave the city. [WBEZ]

4. Charles Thomas, a former political reporter for ABC 7, appears in a pro-Bailey ad, sparking criticism from old colleagues

What happened to Charles Thomas?

That’s a question some of his old colleagues are asking after the former political reporter for ABC 7 appeared in an ad touting state Sen. Darren Bailey, the GOP nominee for governor who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump during the primary.

What’s even more alarming, media critics say, is how a once respected journalist would appear in ads produced by a political action committee founded by Dan Proft, the conservative operative behind a recent misinformation campaign that mailed fake newspapers to Illinois voters.

Andy Shaw, a former ABC 7 political reporter before Thomas, told Crain’s Chicago Business that he was surprised by the ad “because former newsies rarely engage in high-visibility partisan politics, and that’s one reason several of our former colleagues were so critical.”

Thomas, in a radio interview on WVON, said the “reason I’m doing what I’m doing right now is not because they’re paying me $50,000. Keep in mind, I got expenses, too. I got to pay people that work with me. But why I’m doing this is because of this ‘if you ain’t a Democrat, you ain’t Black.’ This (President) Joe Biden BS. I’m tired of that.” [Crain’s Chicago Business]

5. You may get a tax break because of inflation

Many Americans may be able to reduce their tax bill next year amid rising costs for food, rent, gas and other daily staples, the Internal Revenue Service announced this week.

The IRS every year adjusts tax rates, but this year could mean savings for people in different income brackets because of inflation.

“For single taxpayers and for married individuals filing separately, the standard deduction rises to $13,850 for 2023, up $900 from 2022,” NPR reports.

“The standard deduction for married couples filing jointly for tax is increasing by $1,800 from last year, to $27,700. And for heads of households, the standard deduction will be $20,800 for tax year 2023, up $1,400 from the amount for tax year 2022.” [NPR]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Ukrainians are worried about their long-term support from the U.S. if Republicans gain control of the House. [NPR]
  • The family of George Floyd plans to file a $250 million lawsuit against the rapper formerly known as Kanye West. [NPR]
  • More bike lanes, “green” alleys and 20 new bridges are among the items in Chicago’s new $4.5 billion capital plan. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • More college students are enrolling in Korean language classes, and experts say it’s thanks to K-pop. [NPR]

Oh, and one more thing …

Apparently a ghost back in 1895 was really into cruising Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood.

A police officer at the time saw a “mysterious, shadowy ‘thing’ floating about the dimly lit streets,” and the specter was particularly fond of the “the corner of Ridge Avenue, Bryn Mawr Avenue and Broadway,” reports Block Club Chicago.

“Described as a ‘dark-robed something’ which was ‘clothed in drapery of black instead of the traditional garments of snowy whiteness,’ the figure was said to have glided across the lawns and streets of the neighborhood at night with “no physical effort,’ ” Block Club reports, citing an old Chicago Tribune article from the time.

I don’t know about you, but “The Night Cruising Phantom” sounds like a better name than the “Dark-robed Something.” [Block Club]

Tell me something good ...

The weather is getting colder. What are some of your favorite treats to help you mentally cope as we plow through winter?

Frank writes:

“Sure fire treat for the cold days and nights is a batch of Apple Jack … apple cider (NOT apple juice!), cloves, nutmeg and an orange, peeled and separated … and, oh yeah, the “Jack” part is a fifth of Jack Daniels! Mix in a slow cooker and set on low for all day fun.”

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

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