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Biden speaking during UAW rally

United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain, left, listens as President Joe Biden speaks to striking UAW members outside a General Motors facility on Sept. 26, 2023, in Van Buren Township, Mich.

Evan Vucci

The Rundown: Biden’s visit to Illinois

Good afternoon! Lightscape returns to The Chicago Botanic Garden this weekend — and light shows at Lincoln Park Zoo and Morton Arboretum are coming soon — for those looking to get into the holiday spirit early this year. Here’s what else you need to know today.

1. President Joe Biden will be in Illinois tomorrow to highlight a big contract win for the United Auto Workers

The deal, reached with automaker Stellantis after a weekslong strike, is expected to include the reopening of a Belvidere plant that has been closed since February.

Biden will use the event to spotlight his support for organized labor ahead of his reelection campaign, my colleague Lynn Sweet writes for the Chicago Sun-Times.

The president will visit Chicago later Thursday for a campaign fundraiser. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Biden may also be hoping for an endorsement from the UAW, which gained national headlines this year when it took on the auto industry.

As Politico reports: “Biden showed historic support for the UAW and its demands during the union’s six-week strike, which ended last week pending ratification of the contract offers by autoworkers. Still, the UAW has yet to endorse Biden, making it something of an outlier among the biggest labor unions.” [Politico]

2. What to know about the ‘school choice’ scholarship program now up for renewal in Springfield

The $75 million Invest in Kids private school scholarship program allows taxpayers to earn income tax credit by donating to scholarship funds that send lower-income students to private schools.

Students from families making no more than 300% of the federal poverty level can apply.

The 5-year-old program is set to sunset at the end of this year. Supporters say it helps lower-income families send kids to private school, while opponents call it a back-door voucher program funded by taxpayers. [WBEZ]

Meanwhile, Chicago could switch to an elected school board by next year if a proposal passes in the Legislature. [Chicago Sun-Times]

3. Here are Chicago’s newest Michelin star restaurants

The stars are the highest accolade in the culinary industry and honor eateries that consistently offer exceptional dining.

Smyth in the West Loop received a third Michelin star, which is considered the highest honor in the industry.

Atelier in Lincoln Square and Indienne in River North each received one Michelin star, while Logan Square’s Daisies was awarded a green star for sustainability.

Individual staff members at other restaurants got special awards based on cocktails, service and more. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Chicago now has 21 Michelin-starred restaurants, including Alinea, the city’s only three-star restaurants. [Chicago Tribune]

4. What last night’s election results say about U.S. politics going into 2024

Democrats won big on abortion rights, showing they can win races centered on the issue, The Associated Press reports.

Abortion rights supporters won a ballot measure in Ohio, Kentucky’s Democratic governor was reelected after campaigning on reproductive rights and a Democrat won an open state Supreme Court seat in Pennsylvania after pledging to uphold abortion rights.

Meanwhile, Democrats took full control of the Virginia Legislature, putting a damper on talk of Gov. Glenn Youngkin potentially entering the GOP presidential primary.

But the Democratic Party’s strong performance in the off-year elections doesn’t guarantee success in next year’s presidential election, the AP reports. [AP]

5. Should you join the movement to ‘leave the leaves’ in gardens and lawns?

The idea is to avoid sending bagged-up leaves to landfills and instead allow them to naturally decompose over the winter.

If left on the ground, the leaves will turn into nutrient-rich organic matter that benefits hibernating pollinators and other beneficial insects, experts say.

The exception is whole leaves, which can create a slipping hazard on walkways and cause disease on lawns, The Associated Press reports.

The solution could be raking or blowing leaves into garden beds and spreading them into a thin layer. [AP]

Here’s what else is happening

  • A hot October almost guarantees 2023 will be the warmest year on record. [AP]

  • A proposed Illinois bill aimed at taking guns from those accused of domestic violence was delayed. [Chicago Sun-Times]

  • Fall allergies are worse than usual. [Block Club Chicago]

  • The Brookfield Zoo welcomed a baby shark — without a father. [NPR]

Oh, and one more thing …

The jungle gym recently turned 100 — and the history of this playground equipment has ties to suburban Chicago, NPR reports.

Mathematician Charles Howard Hinton created a series of stacked bamboo cubes in the late 1800s to help his students and children understand the concept of the fourth dimension.

Years later in Winnetka, Hinton’s son recalled how much fun it was to climb and swing on the cubes and wanted to recreate the experience.

Hinton would discuss his idea at dinner parties attended by educators, who talked about building the structures in schools.

Soon after, Hinton began filing his early patents for the design, which he registered to something he called JungleGym Inc. And the rest, as they say, is history. [NPR]

Tell me something good ...

What are your favorite cold-weather pastimes?

Cassandra says:

“My favorite winter pastime is cooking and baking. Being in a warm kitchen and making soups and stews or some bread is a great way to get through the cold, dark months. Then inviting folks over for a dinner party to share it is the very best.”

Send us an email and your response might be included in the newsletter this week.

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