Here’s What You Need to Know For Wednesday, Oct. 21

Mayor Lori Lightfoot
Mayor Lori Lightfoot explains her 2021 budget proposal in Oct. 21, 2020. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ
Mayor Lori Lightfoot
Mayor Lori Lightfoot explains her 2021 budget proposal in Oct. 21, 2020. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

Here’s What You Need to Know For Wednesday, Oct. 21

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Hi there, it’s Wednesday. And I should’ve invested in pumpkins instead of succulents during the pandemic. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Lightfoot pitches property tax hike and job cuts to balance Chicago’s pandemic budget

Mayor Lori Lightfoot today released her proposed “pandemic” budget, which includes a property tax increase, 350 layoffs and mandatory furlough days for non-union city employees. Taxes on gasoline and cloud computing would also go up, and more than 1,000 vacant city jobs would not be filled.

Lightfoot said the property tax increase is necessary because the coronavirus crippled city revenues. The increase in taxes on a Chicago home valued at $250,000 would be $56 per year, according to the mayor’s estimate.

The mayor also said none of the proposed layoffs would take effect until March 1 in hopes of a federal bailout package. The $12.8 billion proposal still needs to be approved by aldermen. [WBEZ]

In Washington, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said today that she “has a prospect” for a new coronavirus relief package with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, but the amount of funding for state and local governments remains a sticking point.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said today that the Trump administration hopes to have an agreement within the next 48 hours, but time may be running out for any package to win the needed votes in Congress before the election. [Bloomberg]

2. Illinois reports highest COVID-19 death toll since June

Illinois officials today announced 4,342 new coronavirus cases and 69 additional deaths — the highest fatality total since 64 deaths were reported on June 24. [Chicago Tribune]

Since the pandemic began, more than 9,300 people have died in Illinois from COVID-19.

In Chicago, the positivity rate remains low at 4.3%. But several other regions in Illinois have passed or are approaching the 8% threshold for more restrictions. [WBEZ]

The news comes as the U.S. is firmly in another surge of coronavirus cases and appears to be on pace to record the highest daily case count yet. Unlike earlier outbreaks, which were concentrated in certain regions, this surge is more widespread. [New York Times]

Meanwhile, several studies have found that K-12 schools around the world open to in-person learning are probably not “superspreaders” of the coronavirus. But other experts warned that the U.S. still doesn’t have widespread rapid testing and contract tracing to open schools safely. [NPR]

3. Pope Francis endorses same-sex civil unions

In the new documentary Francesco, which premered today at the Rome Film Festival, Pope Francis says same-sex couples should be “legally covered” by civil union laws and “homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family.”

While serving as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis endorsed civil unions as an alternative to same-sex marriages, and his support as pope is a marked departure from the church’s historic stance on LGBTQ relationships.

Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest who built bridges with the LGBTQ community, called the comments “a major step forward in the church’s support for LGBT people. … The Pope’s speaking positively about civil unions also sends a strong message to places where the church has opposed such laws.”

However, conservative Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, called for clarification: “The church cannot support the acceptance of objectively immoral relationships.” [AP]

4. Trump has bank accounts that don’t show up in financial disclosures

President Donald Trump has bank accounts in Britain, China and Ireland, according to a new report from The New York Times. And these foreign accounts don’t show up on Trump’s public financial disclosures because they are held under corporate names.

The revelation comes as China remains an issue in the presidential campaign because of Trump’s trade war and his attacks on the origin of the coronavirus.

On the campaign trail, Biden has bragged about the record number of small donations he has received. But his campaign has also raked in large donations in the past six months — with almost $200 million from donors giving at least $100,000 each. [New York Times]

And while recent polls show support for Biden, many white suburbanites around Atlanta are sticking with Trump. [New York Times]

Meanwhile, the U.S. government is passing intelligence to social media companies and helping local election officials with their defenses to prevent election interference. [Washington Post]

5. Lagos on lockdown after chaos erupts during protests

Unrest flared up again today in Lagos, Nigeria’s biggest city with a population of more than 14 million, even though officials implemented an around-the-clock curfew after at least 30 people were hurt during a shooting at a protest over police brutality.

At least four eyewitnesses said soldiers opened fire on civilians. The Nigerian Army has denied having soldiers on the scene.

Amnesty International said 12 peaceful protesters were killed yesterday and the human rights organization is investigating for excessive use of force. [Reuters]

Here’s a look at what led up to the protests in Nigeria. [CNN]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Purdue Pharma, which makes the prescription painkiller OxyContin, will plead guilty to three criminal charges. [AP]

  • Mag Mile businesses are boarding up in anticipation of unrest after the election. [Reuters]

  • The parents of 545 children separated at the U.S.-Mexico border still can’t be found. [NPR]

  • Eight in 10 Americans say misinformation about the government is a “major problem.” [AP]

Oh, and one more thing …

My mom has always collected Christmas ornaments on family vacations. But with no trips planned during the pandemic, I may have found the perfect solution: Snarky, somewhat nihilistic, ornaments that have become all the rage online.

There’s the 2020 toilet paper ornament. Or maybe an ornament featuring the classic New Year’s Eve Ball with the text “2021 Not A Minute Too Soon.”

“Our Santa with a face mask ornament is outselling anything we’ve ever made,” said the chief executive of one holiday outlet.

You can find more 2020-themed ornaments in the link. [New York Times]

Tell me something good …

Are you dressing up for Halloween as you’re social distancing? If so, what are you dressing up as?

Joanna writes:

“My four-year-old wanted to be a Pacific white-sided dolphin, which are the dolphins at the Shedd. So we’re going as a family to the Shedd for Halloween. My one-year-old will be a penguin, I’m going to be a shark and my husband will be a stingray. We love the Shedd, and they’ve done a great job keeping everyone socially distanced and enforcing masks since they’ve opened back up.”

And Morgan writes:

“I made costumes for my three rats from black, orange, and purple dollar store felt. One will be a witch, one will be a vampire, and one will be a pumpkin. I taught them to walk into their costumes by clicker training.”

Feel free to email or tweet us your costume ideas, and they might be shared here this week.

Thanks for reading and have a nice night! We’ll see you tomorrow.