Newsletter: Most Chicago Drivers Didn’t Apply For Ticket Relief

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Newsletter: Most Chicago Drivers Didn’t Apply For Ticket Relief

Hey, it’s Tuesday! And the CTA was so empty today that I finally got a seat — twice! Here’s what you need to know. (PS: You can have this delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.)

1. 500,000 Chicago drivers were eligible for ticket relief. Only 2% applied

When the city unveiled its new debt relief program in September, officials said about half a million drivers with unpaid city sticker tickets could benefit. But only about 11,400 applied for the amnesty by the Dec. 15 deadline, officials announced today.

Advocates said they were disappointed the city didn’t do more to promote the program.

Still, Comptroller Reshma Soni called the program a success, but “only one bite of the apple.” She would not say whether the city would offer another program or automatically forgive other outstanding ticket debt. [WBEZ]

2. The U.S. considers withdrawing troops from West Africa

There’s a new push inside the Pentagon to reduce the number of missions against distant terror groups and instead focus on “confronting so-called Great Powers like Russia and China,” reports The New York Times.

That effort includes proposals to either reduce or completely withdraw forces from West Africa, where American troops are assisting French forces in battling militants in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.

Currently, about 200,000 American troops are stationed abroad — similar to the number deployed when President Donald Trump took office with a promise to end America’s “endless wars.” [New York Times]

3. North Korea threatened the U.S. with a “Christmas gift.” Here’s what it could be

North Korea wants relief from Western sanctions. The United States wants North Korea to give up its nuclear arsenal.

In a vague statement this month, North Korea threatened to give the U.S. a “Christmas gift” if sanctions weren’t rolled back by the end of the year.

NPR reports the “gift” could be an underground nuclear test, a space launch or the test of a long-range missile that could reach the U.S. or its territories. One expert said a long-range weapons test could burst the diplomacy bubble and cause both sides to escalate their rhetoric. [NPR]

Meanwhile, President Trump downplayed the threat today, telling reporters, “Maybe it’s a nice present.” [NPR]

4. Hundreds of flights delayed at crowded Chicago airports

On one of the busiest travel days of the year, dense fog blanketed the city and caused more than 100 flight cancellations and at least 400 hundred delays at O’Hare and Midway airports.

The Federal Aviation Administration grounded some flights for about four hours this morning, leading to a chain reaction of travel delays. [Chicago Tribune]

5. Wishing for electric buses in Chicago? You may have to wait a few years

Philadelphia, Toronto, New York City and even the Quad Cities all have a fleet of electric buses. But the Chicago Transit Authority only has two in testing — and said they also plan to buy more diesel buses in the future.

The Chicago Tribune asked what’s taking so long, considering “electric buses can save the agency money in fuel and maintenance costs, while also giving the city cleaner air.”

The CTA, which has pledged to have an all-electric bus fleet by 2040, says upgrading to electric is complicated, especially in cold weather cities. The transition would require “a significant commitment of planning, engineering, design, construction — basically creating a whole new bus system,” a CTA spokesman said. [Tribune]

Here’s what else is happening

NBC Sports suspended broadcaster and former Blackhawks star Jeremy Roenick for making inappropriate comments about coworkers. [Chicago Tribune]

The Trump administration absolved businesses for incidental bird deaths. “Avian carnage” followed. [New York Times]

Nerdette podcast met up with NPR’s Peter Sagal to debate the Season 1 finale of HBO’s His Dark Materials. [WBEZ]

A Wisconsin town could finally legalize snowball fights. [The Guardian]

Oh, and one more thing …

Do you remember one of the coldest days in Chicago history? Or how about when Chicago elected its first black woman mayor? And who could forget when a Florida man caught an elusive alligator that was living in the Humboldt Park lagoon?

You can refresh your memory of the year’s biggest (and smallest) events with this compilation of the year in photos. [WBEZ]

Tell me something good …

What are your New Year’s resolutions?

Aaron Hammond writes:

“We said goodbye to my grandfather just before the holidays and it’s brought some things into focus. So my New Year’s resolution is to eat better and focus on my health, and live life to the fullest.”

Feel free to send us your resolutions for 2020 and we might share your responses here this week.

Thanks for reading and happy holidays! We’ll see you on the 26th.