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From left, Chicago mayoral candidates Ja’Mal Green; Ald. Sophia King (4th); Illinois State Rep. Kam Buckner; businessman Willie Wilson; Cook County Board Commissioner Brandon Johnson; ex-CPS CEO Paul Vallas; Mayor Lori Lightfoot; Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th); and Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García prepare for a mayoral forum at NBC5 studios Monday.

From left, Chicago mayoral candidates Ja’Mal Green; Ald. Sophia King (4th); Illinois State Rep. Kam Buckner; businessman Willie Wilson; Cook County Board Commissioner Brandon Johnson; ex-CPS CEO Paul Vallas; Mayor Lori Lightfoot; Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th); and Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García prepare for a mayoral forum at NBC5 studios Monday.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere

The Rundown: Mayoral candidates raised millions

Hey there, it’s Tuesday and I made it off the massive waitlist for “Spare” at the Chicago Public Library — making me feel like I won the book lottery. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Chicago’s mayoral candidates have raised more than $22 million

The nine candidates running for mayor have raised a combined $22 million since the beginning of 2022 and “the flow of money shows who the candidates have turned to — and who wants to influence them — as they try to get to the fifth floor at City Hall,” reports Mick Dumke for Block Club Chicago.

Incumbent Lori Lightfoot’s campaign has received $5.1 million during that time, including large donations from the owners of several local sports teams. Paul Vallas has raised the second most money with $4.5 million in donations, mostly from a few wealthy individuals over the past month.

Meanwhile, unions have largely gotten behind Brandon Johnson and Jesús “Chuy” García’s campaigns.

And activist Ja’Mal Green and businessman Willie Wilson self-funded most of their campaigns, while Ald. Sophia King has relied on her husband’s financial support.

State Rep. Kam Buckner and Ald. Roderick Sawyer have been using money they raised during campaigns for their current offices. [Block Club]

2. Three students were killed and five others were injured during a shooting at Michigan State University

Authorities said a 43-year-old man fatally shot three students and wounded five others Monday night before killing himself off the campus in East Lansing, Mich.

The injured students were in critical condition as of Tuesday morning, with four of them needing surgery, said Dr. Denny Martin, the acting chief medical officer at nearby Sparrow Hospital.

As NPR reports: “All campus activities, including both in-person and virtual classes and sporting events, have been canceled for at least 48 hours. The school is providing counseling resources for students and employees.” [NPR]

The shooting comes a day before the 15-year anniversary of a mass shooting at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb that killed five and injured 21. [Chicago Tribune]

And five years ago today, 17 people were killed in a school shooting in Parkland, Fla. [CNN]

3. Disgraced former Chicago Police Sgt. Ronald Watts breaks his decadelong silence

The former police sergeant is speaking publicly for the first time since his 22-month imprisonment for stealing what he thought was drug money from an FBI informant.

During an interview with BlazeTV host Jason Whitlock, Watts blamed an “anti-police atmosphere” for his arrest, his 2013 guilty plea and the 226 exonerations tied to him.

Watts also said federal investigators, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, journalists and liberal universities are all attacking aggressive police officers.

“Their agenda is to undermine law enforcement to change the whole system,” Watts said. “They’ve been just hammering me with falsehoods, untruths and lies over the past 10 years.”

Joshua Tepfer, an attorney representing most of the exonerees, said Watts lied throughout the BlazeTV interview. [WBEZ]

4. U.S. inflation slows, but prices are likely to remain elevated

The latest consumer price report from the government released on Tuesday showed prices last month were 6.4% higher than in January 2022. That inflation rate is lower than its peak in June, but still higher than the Federal Reserve’s target of 2%, the Associated Press reports.

And month-over-month, prices were 0.5% higher in January compared to December 2022 because of more expensive gas, food and clothing. Prices only rose 0.1% between November and December.

The numbers highlight that inflation is fading, but slowly and unevenly.

“These things never happen in a straight line,” Tiffany Wilding, an economist at PIMCO, an asset management firm, told AP. “But I think the overall balance of evidence suggests that we are starting to see inflation move in the right direction.” [AP]

5. Aliens? Speculation abounds after the U.S. shoots down ‘unidentified objects.’

The lack of information about the four objects the U.S. shot down over the past two weeks has fueled misinformation on social media.

Former national defense analyst Jim Ludes told the Associated Press the story feeds into “narratives about government secrecy.”

Some of the theories suggest President Joe Biden and the Pentagon deployed the objects, hoping the news would distract from other issues like a chemical spill in Ohio.

Along with political conspiracies were suggestions about aliens — though White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre refuted that theory yesterday. [AP]

Here’s what else is happening

  • The Little Village Discount Mall will stay open and be renovated. [Chicago Sun-Times]

  • Mail-in ballots are driving record returns as early voting opens in all 50 wards. [Chicago Sun-Times]

  • Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley announced her presidential campaign. [NPR]

  • Air India ordered 470 Boeing and Airbus aircraft. [AP]

Oh, and one more thing …

Today is Valentine’s Day and, whether you love or hate the holiday, it’s hard to ignore.

If you’re turned off by the corporate messaging, campiness and grand gestures, my colleague Samantha Callender has a few ideas on how to reclaim the day for self-care. Take yourself — and maybe a pal — out for one of these anti-Valentine’s Day activities. [WBEZ]

One of those options is a Taylor Swift-inspired pop-up bar at Electric Garden in the West Loop. As Indira Khera writes for WBEZ, Swift “has penned countless breakup anthems — from ‘Bad Blood’ to ‘Better Than Revenge.’ She captures heartbreak like no one else — which makes her the perfect choice for an anti-Valentine’s Day event.” [WBEZ]

Tell me something good ...

What warm-weather activities are you most looking forward to?

Lizzy says:

“I am looking forward to bike rides as a new parent.

My online shopping cart is filled with bike seats and I cannot wait to pick one and go for a ride with my little guy!”

Sue from Rogers Park says:

“I’m looking forward to long walks at farmers markets, to restaurants to meet friends, or along the beach.”

Feel free to reply to this email, and your response may be included in the newsletter this week.

The Latest
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