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The Rundown: An effort to recall Chicago’s mayor

Good afternoon! I don’t understand how my glasses constantly get dirty. It’s not like I’m working on a construction site. It’s such a scam you can’t clean them once and be good for the rest of the day. Anyway, here’s what you need to know today.

1. Mayor Johnson faces a new potential headache: a recall

A political action committee has been created to put a binding referendum on the Nov. 5 ballot asking Chicago voters whether they want the power to recall their mayor, my colleague Fran Spielman reports.

Daniel Boland, a former technology salesman who lives in Lake View, is behind the recall effort. He will need at least 56,464 valid signatures by Aug. 5 to get a recall referendum on the November ballot.

If it gets on the ballot, and the question is approved in November, Chicagoans would be empowered to recall any present or future mayor. But Johnson still wouldn’t be removed.

Boland would have to launch yet another petition drive, collecting at least 122,503 valid signatures. If he clears that hurdle, Chicago voters would be empowered to recall Johnson in the next regularly scheduled election — March 2026. [Chicago Sun-Times]

2. The Chicago Teachers Union wants to negotiate its next contract in public

That’s a significant departure from previous contracts, which were hashed out behind closed doors by school district officials and union members, my colleague Sarah Karp reports.

“What we are going to do is engage this entire city of Chicago in a negotiation that we will be doing in the front yard,” CTU President Stacy Davis Gates said, adding she envisions contract talks being streamed online.

The unusual proposal comes about a year after the CTU helped Mayor Brandon Johnson, a former union organizer, win the top office at City Hall.

And both the union and Johnson are expected to put pressure on state lawmakers to provide more money to Chicago Public Schools, which must close a $391 million budget deficit while negotiating with teachers.

The union’s current contract expires this summer. In addition to raises for staff, the CTU wants the new contract to help unhoused students and expand language programs so all students can learn a second language. [WBEZ]

3. The death of a CTA bus driver raises safety questions

Antia Lyons, a 14-year veteran CTA driver, passed out behind the wheel of her bus over the summer at the start of her route.

Block Club Chicago “found Lyons sat in her bus unconscious for nearly an hour before someone eventually sought help. CTA supervisors neglected to check on her even though the bus never moved and subsequently failed to arrive at more than 50 scheduled stops.”

Now months after Lyons’ death, the public transit agency couldn’t answer general questions about how such medical emergencies should be handled, Block Club reports. [BCC]

The news comes as the CTA is trying to overcome a labor shortage from the pandemic that has impacted service. Block Club reports that “transit agencies in other major U.S. cities have been faster to recover their workforces.” [BCC]

4. The new leader of Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition steps down after less than 3 months on the job

The Rev. Frederick Haynes III, a Dallas pastor who took over leadership of the longtime civil rights organization in February, said he resigned yesterday due to unspecified “challenges that continue to exist,” The Associated Press reports.

“After a time of prayer and consultation, I felt it was best to step down as president and CEO of Rainbow PUSH,” Haynes said. “I am forever honored that the Rev. Jackson graciously considered me worthy of following him as president of the organization that he founded.”

Jackson’s son Yusef would continue on as chief operating officer, according to Rainbow PUSH.

Jackson, 82, announced last summer he was stepping down as the organization’s president as he faces several health issues, including Parkinson’s disease. [AP]

5. Taylor Swift fans flock to a cryptic mural in downtown Chicago

The mural promotes Swift’s upcoming album, The Tortured Poets Department, and it went up this week on the side of a building on West Grand Avenue near Dearborn, my colleague Stefano Esposito writes.

“This is better than the eclipse,” said Clare Doverspike as she glanced at the mural among a crowd of about 20 other young women.

The mural features a QR code that, when scanned by a smartphone, sends people to a 13 second YouTube video on Swift’s page. The video animates like a typewriter with the message “Error 321" and a faded “13.”

Katie Preo, 21, stood on Grand for four hours Monday and was back Tuesday. She tried teasing information out of the painters, but they were apparently sworn to secrecy.

“It’s just because Chicago Swifities don’t necessarily get too many new things. It’s usually international or the bigger cities,” Preo said of the hours she spent at the site. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Iran’s president said there would be a “massive and harsh” response to even the “tiniest invasion” by Israel. [AP]

  • A secret document from Russia’s Foreign Ministry shows how Moscow intends to weaken the U.S. [Washington Post]

  • The United Arab Emirates recorded its heaviest rainfall in 75 years. [CNN]

  • NASA confirmed that space junk from the International Space Station crashed into a Florida home. [NBC News]

Oh, and one more thing …

Don’t be too surprised if you see Jason Alexander on Navy Pier. Just make sure you yell out “George Costanza” and not just “George” if you want a nod or a wave.

Alexander stars in Judgment Day, a comedy at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater about an attorney who suffers a near-death experience and realizes he’s not headed for heaven.

“If somebody yells out a lot of different Seinfeld stuff, I will turn around and give a wave, give a nod, say thank you so much,” Alexander told my colleague Courtney Kueppers.

“If they just yell ‘George,’ I tend to not turn around. Now, it’s not because I don’t want to be thought of as George, but on more occasions that I can tell you, they were calling someone named George and I turned around like an idiot, and waved at them and I just felt so stupid that I thought, you know, I’m going to hedge the bet and wait for them to call me Jason.” [WBEZ]

Tell me something good …

What summer isn’t complete without a beach read? So I’d like to know what was your favorite book to read while bathing in the sun?

Ann Doemland writes:

“My recommendation is for when the beach is sizzling hot. The Left Hand of Darkness is a science fiction novel by the great Ursula K. Le Guin. It is set on a cold planet and explores what it might be like if people were gendered for only brief periods each year.

“But this does not mean it is a ‘novel of ideas.’ Le Guin knows how to write a good plot. The protagonist is an ambassador from an interplanetary federation trying to understand this civilization. Near the end of the book, he and a native make a multi-day trip across a glacier. It is so real that it will cool you down even in the hottest weather.”

And Margaret writes:

“One summer, every morning I pulled my sand chair to the edge of the water on Farwell Avenue beach, so I had the city behind me. I pretended I was looking out at the Aegean and read a chapter or two of The Odyssey. It took me a few weeks to finish. The scenes came alive — Homer transcends time and space!”

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

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