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The Rundown: Mayor Johnson’s football fumble?

Good afternoon! If you’re like me and combat insomnia by scrolling through social media, you’ve got to check out the Instagram account for local comedian Parker Callahan. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Mayor Johnson defends his progressive credentials after supporting the Bears’ new stadium

Mayor Brandon Johnson faces a backlash from fellow progressives for supporting the Chicago Bears’ plan to build a new lakefront stadium, which would require upwards of $2.4 billion in public funding.

During last year’s mayoral election, Johnson told WBEZ he opposed giving the NFL team billions of dollars for a new stadium.

“Let me be clear: I want the Bears to stay. But Chicago could also use $2 billion to remove lead pipes, house thousands of unhoused Chicagoans, fully fund public schools, generate neighborhood and business development in communities across the city, pay down our pension and general obligations, or meet dozens of other urgent needs — all of which would also generate much-needed economic and quality-of-life returns,” Johnson said in a candidate questionnaire last year. [WBEZ]

The mayor’s support for the stadium could complicate another big issue on the horizon — a new contract for the Chicago Teachers Union, which is seeking 9% pay raises.

As my colleges Nader Issa and Sarah Karp have previously reported, the CTU and Johnson are expected to put pressure on state lawmakers to provide more money. [WBEZ]

2. Rahm Emanuel’s name pops up at Trump’s hush money trial

The former publisher of The National Enquirer took the stand this week in the hush money case against former President Donald Trump, describing the publication’s practice of buying and then killing stories about celebrities.

David Pecker, the former publisher, said under oath he buried a story about an alleged affair by Rahm Emanuel before the former two-term Chicago mayor’s first City Hall campaign, my colleagues at the Chicago Sun-Times report.

Pecker said he paid $20,000 for the story and then suppressed it, as he did for other celebrities managed by Emanuel’s brother, Hollywood super-agent Ari Emanuel, Politico reported.

Neither Rahm nor Ari Emanuel could be reached for comment by the Sun-Times.

The tabloid practice of purchasing and killing stories is at the heart of Trump’s trial in New York, where he’s charged with falsifying business records to hide a payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Trump has pleaded not guilty. [Chicago Sun-Times]

3. Renewable energy sources were supposed to replace closing coal plants in Illinois. But it hasn’t happened yet.

Illinois’ march toward all-green energy hit a bump last year, my colleague Brett Chase and Dan Gearino from Inside Climate News report.

“Electricity from renewable sources dropped even as Illinois and surrounding Midwest states pushed to replace fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gas, with wind and solar power,” they write.

The amount of wind power — the state’s biggest source of renewable energy — took a surprising 6% dip from the previous year, while natural gas-generated electricity had a 43% jump in 2023, government data show.

Climate change itself may have played a role. A pressure system in Canada — the same weather pattern that helped spur wildfires up north, filling Chicago skies with smoke last summer — was a big reason wind power was down in 2023. [Chicago Sun-Times]

4. More than a dozen migrant couples will exchange wedding vows at Chicago church today

A big ceremony will be held tonight at Community Park Near North Church for 15 migrant couples, who pooled together money to help pay for the celebration, my colleague Emmanuel Camarillo reports.

About 200 family and friends are expected to attend.

“We wanted to create that environment of unity. I think that’s also the big idea behind it,” said Ed Kraal, who is the pastor at Iglesia Cristiana La Vid.

He said many of the couples live in a shelter above the church and have become like a big family.

“We want to share that love with our people,” Kraal said. [Chicago Sun-Times]

5. For the Chicago Bears, Caleb Williams is the right guy at the right place and right time

The Bears selected USC quarterback Caleb Williams as expected with the first overall pick in the NFL Draft last night, marking the dawn of a new era for the NFL team.

But fans have been here before, my colleague Mark Potash writes, pointing out that similar moments, such as the trade for Jay Cutler in 2009, sparked optimism that was eventually quashed.

“And therein lies the difference with Williams,” Potash writes. “No Bears quarterback since Jim McMahon has been set up to succeed like Williams has — before he even has stepped foot in Halas Hall.”

Williams, who is the best quarterback prospect the Bears have had since Sid Luckman, is “the best chance to lead the Bears to a run of success they haven’t had since the Ditka era.” [Chicago Sun-Times]

Here’s what else is happening

  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. will act if China doesn’t stop supporting Russia in its invasion of Ukraine. [BBC]

  • One of the student leaders of Columbia University’s protests apologized for saying “Zionists don’t deserve to live.” [New York Times]

  • New York City will begin congestion pricing on its mass transit system on June 30. [NBC New York]

  • Eminem’s new album, The Death of Slim Shady (Coup de Grace), will be released this summer. [Variety]

Oh, and one more thing …

Acclaimed director Steven Spielberg is joining President Joe Biden’s campaign to “to provide strategy for August’s Democratic National Convention in Chicago,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“In the past several months, Spielberg has attended multiple strategy sessions, offering his insights on how best to tell the president’s story and highlight Biden’s second term vision at this summer’s convention as he gears up for a November rematch with former President Donald Trump,” the publication reports. [Hollywood Reporter]

Tell me something good …

With the weather warming up, what are your favorite restaurants for outdoor dining, whether it’s a patio or a rooftop?

Ariane writes:

“I’ll eat outside almost anywhere, but one of my favorites is the back patio at La Crêperie. It’s not fancy, but it’s a lovely quiet oasis on busy Clark Street.”

And Michael G. writes:

“The outdoor seating at Piccolo Sogno. You can forget that you are at the very busy intersection of Halsted, Milwaukee and Grand. The food, wine and service are all first class.”

Thanks for all the emails this week. It was nice hearing from y’all!

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