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The Rundown: Ugh, taxes

Good afternoon! The weather forecast for tomorrow looks pretty gnarly (yes, I grew up in the ’90s), so be extra careful out there. Here’s what else you need to know today.

1. A popular tax credit in Illinois won’t be adjusted for inflation this year

We are quickly approaching that time of the year that very few people eagerly look forward to — tax season. And it once again comes as many households struggle with higher prices on everyday items thanks to inflation.

But millions of Illinois residents filing their taxes this year won’t see an inflation-related increase in a popular state tax credit, my colleague Dave McKinney reports.

The credit — known as a standard exemption — is taken by more than 11 million residents and will remain flat at $2,425.

Had state lawmakers and Gov. JB Pritzker adjusted the tax credit for inflation, taxpayers could have knocked $200 more off the income that they’re taxed upon.

For a married couple with two young children and a joint income of $150,000, the inflation-adjusted credit could have saved them about $39 on their tax bill, McKinney writes.

It’s unclear why state officials did not adjust the credit this year, but it saved the state as much as $114 million. [WBEZ]

2. Mayor Johnson will meet with suburban leaders to discuss the migrant crisis

Mayor Brandon Johnson and his suburban counterparts will meet on Tuesday with a goal of maintaining a “humane regional response” to migrants arriving from Texas, the mayor said in a statement.

On the meeting’s agenda are rules on buses dropping off asylum-seekers in the area, the Daily Herald reports. [Daily Herald]

Several suburbs in recent weeks have moved to block migrants from arriving through new regulations on buses and plans aimed at preventing hotels from serving as shelters, my colleague Michael Loria has reported.

Texas began sending more migrants to the burbs after Chicago officials clamped down on where and when buses can drop off migrants within the city. Officials say the rules are needed because Texas hasn’t been cooperative. [Chicago Sun-Times]

3. Cook County prosecutors bar a UIC campus cop with extremist ties from testifying

Cook County prosecutors say they can no longer rely on any testimony from a campus cop at the University of Illinois-Chicago who has acknowledged joining and paying dues to the Oath Keepers — a national, anti-government extremist group, my colleagues Dan Mihalopoulos and Tom Schuba report.

WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times reported in October that the UIC cop, Matthew Paulish, was not punished by the state university despite showing up on the membership list of the Oath Keepers, which played a key role in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office also has barred 10 Chicago cops from testifying in their cases after the men were identified as having joined the Oath Keepers in the WBEZ, Sun-Times and Organized Crime and Corruption Project investigation of “Extremism in the Ranks.” [WBEZ]

4. More than 120 firearms were seized at Chicago airports last year

The Transportation Security Administration intercepted 122 firearms at both Chicago airports last year, and a new record was set at Midway International Airport, my colleague Cindy Hernandez reports.

Officers seized 50 firearms at Midway, breaking the previous record of 42 handguns set in 2021.

At O’Hare, they stopped 72 handguns from making it through security checkpoints, a decrease from the previous year, according to the TSA.

Passengers who bring a firearm to a TSA checkpoint can face fines up to $15,000, and their TSA PreCheck could be revoked for up to five years.

In 2023, 6,737 firearms were intercepted at airports across the U.S. — the highest one-year total in TSA history, officials said. More than 90% of the guns were loaded. [Chicago Sun-Times]

5. The ‘rat hole’ is actually a decades-old imprint of a squirrel, neighbors say

In case you missed it, the rat hole is the imprint of a rodent in a sidewalk located in Chicago’s Roscoe Village neighborhood.

It’s gotten a lot of attention recently on social media. But locals say the name for the Looney Tunes-shaped imprint is misleading, my colleague Kaitlin Washburn reports.

Neighbors say the hole was created by a squirrel who fell from a large oak tree that used to sit next to the sidewalk.

“There’s no possible way that a rat is going to go airborne, straight up, and belly flop straight into the middle of the cement,” said Cindy Nelson, who has lived across the street from the imprint for more than 20 years.

“The mystery really is who picked up the squirrel and did they clean them off?” Nelson added.

But here’s another awesome quote: “I’m all for a small Chicago story that doesn’t have to do with one of our politicians selling an office or something that we can all make fun of,” resident C.J. Tuor said. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Here’s what else is happening

  • A top U.N. court started hearings on genocide allegations against Israel. [NPR]

  • Closing arguments began in former President Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial. [AP]

  • Legendary football coach Bill Belichick is leaving the New England Patriots after 24 seasons and six NFL titles. [NPR]

  • A new Star Trek movie is in the works. [Hollywood Reporter]

Oh, and one more thing …

The Chicago area could see a winter storm tomorrow. You can count me in the “I’ll believe it when I see it” crowd.

But the news got me thinking about a time-honored Chicago tradition — dibs.

If you’re not familiar, dibs is the act of shoveling out a parking spot on the street and placing an item, like a lawn chair, to reserve said spot.

But how did this thing get started? And do other cities have similar practices?

My colleagues at Curious City put on their snow boots to find out. [WBEZ]

Tell me something good ...

What is a reality-based TV show you enjoy? I ask because my husband and I are still talking about the huge reveal on The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City that has sparked an avalanche of amazing memes.

Daniel McGee writes:

“I’m not sure if it truly qualifies as a reality show, but my favorite is This Old House. Watch as people spend an inordinate amount of money and go way over budget with plutonium-powered heat pumps (kidding) and end up with dwellings that look nothing like the original. While occasionally getting home repair tips.”

And Glenn Turner writes:

“It’s The Amazing Race, where a bunch of contestants travel the world.

“I have seen all 35 seasons. It’s worldwide cultural voyeurism at its best, more now than ever as the recent contestants are far more mindful about not being bad Americans. My wife and I have even talked about applying!”

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

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