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The Rundown: Chicago’s warning to Biden?

Good afternoon! I just remembered the last time my husband and I watched our nephews, we started a conga line in the dining room. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Is Chicago’s low voter turnout a warning sign for Biden?

Democrats are divided over the significance of Chicago recording its worst voter turnout for a presidential primary in at least 80 years, my colleague Tina Sfondeles reports.

Just 22% of the city’s 1,509,544 voters went to the polls or cast mail-in ballots in this week’s primary election.

Gov. JB Pritzker and others caution against reading too much into the numbers, pointing to the fact that the presidential primary race was already predetermined. And primary election turnout is not a good predictor of how many voters will show up for the general election.

But others say the tepid turnout in Chicago could be a warning sign for President Joe Biden.

“Illinois is a state that has apparatus and really has deep roots in the community. I think they just weren’t turned on for this election, but it’s a warning sign to other places,” said Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, who has worked for Biden.

“It’s a warning sign for Detroit, where it will matter. It’s a warning sign for Philadelphia and Pittsburgh,” Lake continued. “There’s a lot of places with active Democratic mayors that this is a warning sign. They need resources. They need help developing grassroots connections now.” [Chicago Sun-Times]

2. Mayor Johnson’s chief of staff is leaving after less than a year in office

Rich Guidice, a savvy and seasoned veteran of City Hall, is leaving Mayor Brandon Johnson’s administration to start a new job in April that he refused to identify, my colleague Fran Spielman reports.

“This has been the dream of a lifetime,” Guidice said. “As a kid growing up in Chicago, I always felt, at least in my neighborhood and circles, that working for the city was the ultimate job to have.”

Guidice’s departure comes at a turbulent time for Johnson, who suffered a major political defeat this week when voters rejected a ballot measure to fund services for the homeless.

Chicago is also preparing to host the Democratic National Convention this summer. And Johnson’s response to the migrant crisis, which has stretched city resources, has strained his relationships with Gov. JB Pritzker and members of the City Council. [Chicago Sun-Times]

3. Chicago Police misconduct hearings should be public, judge rules

A Cook County judge today said police officers accused of serious misconduct can bypass the Chicago Police Board and have their case heard by an independent arbitrator, but those hearings cannot be held behind closed doors.

“The restriction of public access to arbitrations for serious police discipline is in direct contravention to the well-defined and dominant public policy of accountability and transparency of the government services in general and the Chicago Police Department specifically,” Judge Michael Mullen wrote.

The news marks the latest chapter in a yearslong fight over how such police misconduct cases should be handled. City officials say public hearings are crucial to rebuilding trust between residents and police officers.

But Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police, the union representing rank-and-file officers, argues state labor law allows cases to be heard behind closed doors before an arbitrator.

The dispute eventually went before independent arbitrator Edwin Benn, who sided with the FOP and set off a political firestorm. [Chicago Sun-Times]

4. The U.S. sued Apple, accusing the tech giant of building an iPhone monopoly

The Department of Justice and 16 states say Apple violated antitrust laws by preventing other companies from providing iPhone apps that could compete with Apple products.

“The Justice Department says that because Apple imposes contract restrictions on developers, it means new innovation is kept within its ecosystem. The government says this allows Apple to take more money from consumers, developers, content creators, publishers, small businesses and more,” NPR reports.

The news comes as the Biden administration has stepped up scrutiny of tech giants.

Last fall, the Justice Department went to trial against Google parent Alphabet over allegations that it stomped out competing search engines. And Amazon has been accused by federal regulators of maintaining a monopoly. [NPR]

5. Former President Barack Obama could get his own street in Chicago

A City Council member this week introduced a plan to rename downtown’s Columbus Drive to Barack Obama Drive, my colleague Fran Spielman reports.

Ald. Lamont Robinson, the measure’s chief sponsor, said in a statement that “we need to honor more Black men, and this is one small way we can do that.”

But an Italian American civic leader wants the street, named after Christopher Columbus in 1933, to be left alone.

“We see this as a direct attack on our culture more than an honoring of a most worthy president,” said Ron Onesti, president of the Chicago branch of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Congressional lawmakers unveiled a $1.2 trillion funding package to avoid a partial government shutdown over the weekend. [CNN]

  • Surgeons have transplanted a kidney from a genetically modified pig into a living person for the first time. [NPR]

  • American military units known as the Ghost Army during WWII will be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. [AP]

  • A new — and really cool looking — beetle almost got mistaken for bird poop. [BBC]

Oh, and one more thing …

I had no idea apple slices used to be a Chicago staple.

This week’s Curious City looks at how the dessert became super popular in the 1950s and ’60s, and was even the favorite of former Mayor Richard J. Daley.

The Curious City team also provides a recipe they found in the Chicago Daily Tribune from 1951.

But today, apple slices can only be found at a few local bakeries. [WBEZ]

Tell me something good …

What’s something you’re excited to do this spring? (If you can’t think of anything, my colleague Courtney Kueppers put together this guide of noteworthy events going down this season.)

Shirley J. writes:

“This spring — in less than 3 weeks — I’ll be walking the Shikoku 88 Temple pilgrimage in Japan. It is a 1,200 kilometer trek around the island — just my backpack and me! Same time last year I did the Mozárabe pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain last year. That was 1,400 kilometers and I lived to tell the tale at 66 years old!”

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

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