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Restaurant server at a Greek restaurant

A waiter with Athena Greek Restaurant brings a sauce cup to a group eating, Monday, Feb. 28, 2022. Chicago is considering phasing in an increase to tipped workers’ minimum wage.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere

The Rundown: TGIF for Chicago’s tipped workers

Good afternoon! Netflix will offer an “immersive experience” based on the series Squid Game, which follows financially struggling people competing in deadly children’s games for money. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. A plan to eliminate Chicago’s subminimum wage for tipped workers may clear the City Council tomorrow

The City Council is expected to take a final vote on a proposal to phase in higher base wages for restaurant servers, bartenders and other tipped workers over five years.

Tipped employees are currently paid around $9 an hour, much lower than Chicago’s $15.80 minimum hourly wage. Mayor Brandon Johnson and his allies want to give these workers 8% annual increases every July 1, starting next year and through 2028.

The plan was expected to go up for a vote on Wednesday but ran into a clerical error. But in a sign of how much potential support is behind the measure, 30 of the council’s 50 members agreed to hold a special meeting tomorrow for the proposal.

Other key elements of Johnson’s agenda also inched forward in the council yesterday, including raising a tax on the sale of high-end homes to help fund services for the homeless. [Chicago Sun-Times]

2. Mayor Johnson plans to visit the southern border as more migrants are expected to arrive in Chicago

Mayor Brandon Johnson told reporters he wants to personally “assess the situation” that is unfolding at the border, a decision that comes after a recent meeting with Mexican leaders.

The mayor said that “2,500 or so families who are seeking asylum reach the southern tip of Mexico. By the time they get to the northern tip of Mexico right on the border of our country, that 2,500 amasses to anywhere from 7,500 individuals to 10,000. This is serious.” [Chicago Sun-Times]

Meanwhile, a lawsuit seeks to prevent the city from housing asylum-seekers in police stations, schools and other public buildings.

The lawsuit, filed by residents of the South Shore neighborhood, partly argues that housing migrants at police stations and other makeshift shelters violates federal safety rules for workplaces. [Chicago Sun-Times]

3. More than 500 schools across the U.S. have been targeted by false reports of shooters

At least 12 schools in Illinois were targeted by a wave of bogus school shooting calls in April.

A Washington Post investigation found the hoax was part of “a coordinated campaign of fear that exploits the all-too-real American danger of school shootings.”

“The wave of school shooting hoaxes is without precedent, education safety experts and law enforcement officials say,” the Post reports. “It’s part of a larger phenomenon known as ‘swatting,’ where callers report nonexistent crimes with the goal of triggering a police response — preferably by SWAT teams — at the homes of enemies or celebrities.”

In the past year, more than 500 schools were targeted by such hoaxes, which are under investigation by the FBI. [Washington Post]

4. Artificial intelligence discriminated against Black renters, according to a federal lawsuit

A federal lawsuit accuses a property management company of using a chatbot to illegally rule out a renter who had a housing voucher, WBEZ’s Esther Yoon-Ji Kang reports.

The lawsuit was filed by Open Communities, an Evanston-based housing advocacy group, and Elizabeth Richardson, a Black woman who says she communicated with a leasing chatbot about an apartment in the Chicago area.

According to the lawsuit, Richardson asked the chatbot if the building accepted renters with housing vouchers and was told no. It is illegal to discriminate against tenants in Illinois based on their source of income, including subsidized housing vouchers.

Open Communities says it conducted a six-month investigation and found the use of AI tools “consistently led to discriminatory outcomes,” disproportionately impacting Black would-be applicants. [WBEZ]

5. A crackdown on ‘Little Free Libraries’ is proposed in Chicago

A member of the City Council wants to regulate makeshift libraries that are often located near sidewalks.

The proposal would require permits for “Little Free Libraries” located on public land, such as parkways — that tiny sliver of land that sits between the sidewalk and the curb. City residents who provide a library on their own property would not be affected.

Ald. Raymond Lopez, a former mayoral candidate who is currently running for Congress, introduced the measure. He told Block Club Chicago that the libraries are “a completely unregulated section of city code. So, like everything else that’s on a public way, if we’re going to allow this and we’re going to encourage this, let’s make sure we’re doing it in the right and safe way.” [Block Club Chicago]

Here’s what else is happening

  • President Joe Biden’s administration approved a new section of a wall along the southern border. [BBC]
  • U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s ouster as House speaker could cost the GOP its best fundraiser. [AP]
  • The former head coach of Northwestern’s football program is suing the university, saying he was wrongfully fired in the wake of a hazing and abuse scandal. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias is awarding $420,000 in grants to state prison libraries. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Oh, and one more thing …

Some good news for stoners and lovers of breakfast pastries: Portland’s widely popular Voodoo Doughnut is coming to Chicago.

The company posted on Facebook this week that it’s expanding to a storefront in the city’s Fulton Market District. [Block Club Chicago]

Voodoo is known for its inventive and colorful doughnuts. At one point, Voodoo offered doughnuts glazed in NyQuil until health officials started asking questions. [Fast Company]

Chris Schultz, Voodoo’s CEO, told Crain’s Chicago Business the Chicago location could open as soon as the end of the year. [Crain’s]

Tell me something good ...

With the news that Taylor Swift and Beyoncé are releasing films from their recent tours, I’d like to know what was one of the best shows you’ve ever seen?

Jill Westerfelhaus writes:

“One of the best shows I ever saw was Iggy Pop at a very small club in Columbus, Ohio in the mid ’80s. He was great, but I was also impressed by the opening act. It was a band I had never heard of — Jane’s Addiction. Of course Jane’s Addiction and Perry Farrell went on to much bigger things.”

Dan writes:

“Best concert? My very first one in the early ’70s. My brother and I went to see The Rolling Stones at the old International Amphitheater near the Stockyards. They had a ‘surprise opening act.’ It was Stevie Wonder! By the way, Billy Preston was doing keyboards for the Stones at the time.”

And Leah writes:

“The best concert I ever saw was on the first boygenius tour. It was at Thalia Hall and Lucy Dacus, Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker each played a full set and then they played their first EP straight through. It was magic and the room just absolutely hushed for the opening notes of ‘Ketchum, ID.’ Their harmonies on that song gave me (and probably everyone in the room) chills.”

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

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