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The Rundown: Bernie Sanders backs Brandon Johnson

Hey there! My nephews have discovered they can call me through their smart speaker, and we’re already making plans to see the upcoming Super Mario Bros. movie. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. In today’s mayoral endorsements: Sanders backs Johnson while Vallas wins over more City Council members

The runoff election is just weeks away, and both mayoral candidates are hoping to build a sense of momentum by announcing what seems like a daily barrage of new endorsements.

Today, U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina announced he is backing Brandon Johnson for mayor. Clyburn was a key supporter of Joe Biden’s presidential campaign in 2020.

And then later in the day, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders said he was also backing Johnson.

Paul Vallas’s campaign, meanwhile, announced several members of the City Council’s Black Caucus are lining up behind the former Chicago Public Schools CEO. They are Alds. Michelle Harris, Anthony Beale, David Moore, Derrick Curtis and Emma Mitts.

But zooming out, some big names in Illinois politics are currently on the sidelines, such as Gov. JB Pritzker and U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García. [Chicago Sun-Times]

2. A more independent City Council or a power grab by Lightfoot’s allies?

A plan to create a more independent and empowered City Council could move forward next week. But critics say it’s an attempt by Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s allies to keep their cushy committee assignments, reports my colleague Fran Spielman.

The plan would expand the number of council committees from 19 to 28, which would mean more than half the council could chair one of these panels.

Joe Ferguson, a former inspector general at City Hall, denounced the plan as “self-preservational” and said it would saddle taxpayers with millions of dollars in unnecessary expenses.

“It is breathtaking to even think of 28 committees in a City Council in which it is well-documented that half of the existing 19 committees do absolutely nothing of value,” Ferguson said. [Chicago Sun-Times]

3. The NASCAR street race could leave the Shedd Aquarium high and dry

Officials at the Shedd Aquarium say the cultural institution could lose $2-$3 million because of NASCAR’s street race this summer, reports Block Club Chicago.

Meghan Curran, chief marketing and experience officer for the aquarium, said NASCAR hasn’t provided key logistical information, like street and sidewalk closures, that could impact the Shedd.

“We’re very interested in how we might mitigate the impacts and make sure that we think about the actions that might make it better for guests that want to come to the museum,” Curran told Block Club.

NASCAR officials have said the Shedd — as well as nearby institutions that make up the city’s museum campus — will remain open during the July street race. And they said more details will be coming soon. [Block Club Chicago]

4. Abortion pill backlash puts the head of Walgreens in a Venn diagram of medicine, politics and profits

Illinois-based Walgreens landed in a firestorm after saying it would not offer abortion pills in 21 states where Republican attorneys general have threatened legal action.

And all eyes are on the pharmacy giant’s CEO — Rosalind Brewer, who is one of only about 50 women currently leading a Fortune 500 company, reports Adrienne Samuels Gibbs for WBEZ.

Abortion rights advocates say, as a woman, Brewer should be more of an activist leader. On the other hand, many C-suite watchers say Brewer should be viewed solely as a genderless executive who is simply executing the direction dictated by a board of trustees.

And some observers say Brewer is being held to impossible standards that men in similar positions aren’t expected to consider. [WBEZ]

5. Ms. Lauryn Hill, Carrie Underwood, John Legend and Buddy Guy are part of this year’s lineup at Ravinia

It almost feels like summer is around the corner with the weather we’ve been having lately. I didn’t even wear a jacket to walk the dog the other day.

So today’s news from Ravinia is making me double check the calendar to see that, yes, we are still in March.

The Highland Park venue released its full schedule of more than 100 concerts, with performances by Ms. Lauryn Hill, Santana, Jethro Tull, Boyz II Men and Carrie Underwood.

This year’s lineup also features screenings of Encanto and Jurassic Park, both with live score accompaniment performed by the Chicago Philharmonic.

Tickets for all performances go on sale May 1. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Chicago’s embattled police superintendent made an unceremonious exit today. [Block Club Chicago]
  • More than 100 FBI recordings will be played in the ComEd bribery trial. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • The Talking Heads’s Stop Making Sense will be restored and released by art-house studio A24. [Variety]
  • A final musical from Stephen Sondheim will be staged in New York this fall. [New York Times]

Oh, and one more thing …

Want to see an adorable photo of three lion cubs who were born earlier this year at the Lincoln Park Zoo?

Well just click the link below. Zoo officials today announced the names of the cubs, and each name has a special meaning in the Maa language, reports WTTW News.

There’s Pesho, which translates as an “unexpected gift”; Sidai, which means good; and Lomelok, which means sweet. [WTTW News]

Tell me something good ...

What’s something small you’ve come to love and appreciate?

Robin Koelsch writes:

“I’m sure I am not the only one who has come to appreciate a very specific moment: My husband takes the kids to school in the morning. So, when all the stars align, everyone is off to school on time, and I am ready to go to work myself.

“There is about a 5-minute window where I have a hot cup of coffee with sugar and oat milk, and it … is … silent. I take a deep breath, say three things I am grateful for and get the day going!”

And Katharine Klette writes:

“I’m an elementary school teacher and can’t get out of my classroom much during the day because I’m busy teaching. :) It warms my heart when a student asks if they can fill my empty water bottle up for me. I appreciate that some notice I’m on empty, see my limits and offer to be kind and help.”

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

Before I go, I made a mistake yesterday. Chicago’s runoff election is on April 4.

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