Newsletter: Should Pritzker Keep Funding Public Expenses?

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker in Springfield on Nov. 14, 2019.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker in Springfield on Nov. 14, 2019. John O’Connor / AP Photo
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker in Springfield on Nov. 14, 2019.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker in Springfield on Nov. 14, 2019. John O’Connor / AP Photo

Newsletter: Should Pritzker Keep Funding Public Expenses?

Hey, it’s Thursday! And special thanks to everyone who’s working over the holidays. You’re all heroes. Here’s what you need to know today. (PS: You can have this delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.)

1. Pritzker spent millions of his own money on public expenses

Billionaire Gov. JB Pritzker spent about $3 million of his own money on everything from renovating state buildings to giving raises to top aides during his first year in office, a practice that concerns advocates worried about conflicts of interest and transparency, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Alisa Kaplan, the policy director for Reform for Illinois, told the Trib that the first-term Democrat’s use of his personal wealth on public expenditures “provides yet another advantage to wealthy officials and candidates and, depending on the use, can create conflicted loyalties and perhaps even increase the potential for corruption.”

A Pritzker spokeswoman defended the practice and said it does not set a precedent for future governors. [Chicago Tribune]

2. Republican Senator says she’s “disturbed” by the Senate’s coordination with the White House

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, doesn’t like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s plan to coordinate with the White House for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.

NPR reports that Murkowski “remains a wild card” in the upcoming Senate trial, along with Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine.

This month, McConnell told Fox News he would work through the impeachment process “in total coordination with the White House counsel’s office and the people who are representing the president in the well of the Senate.” Democrats have balked at a coordinated trial, saying it wouldn’t be impartial. [NPR]

3. The U.S. is developing plans for information warfare ahead of the 2020 election

Cyber officials with the U.S. military are developing tactics that could be used against senior Russian officials if Russia tries to hack America’s 2020 election or sow widespread discord, according to former and current officials who spoke with the Washington Post.

Targeting Russian President Vladimir Putin would be considered “too provocative,” the anonymous officials said, but the idea is to show Russia that sensitive personal data of top officials “could be hit if the interference did not stop.” [WaPo]

4. The owners of the Dakota Access pipeline want to double the oil flowing through Illinois

The Dakota Access pipeline has been carrying oil through Illinois since 2017, and now the company that owns the pipeline wants to add new pump stations in order to increase the average daily volume from 560,000 barrels to 1.1 million barrels.

Two environmental groups have objected to the expansion, arguing that “pumping more oil through the pipeline will increase the risk of spills and leaks along the rural route,” reports the Chicago Tribune.

A decision on the expansion is expected sometime early next year. [Chicago Tribune]

5. North Korea didn’t get the U.S. a “Christmas gift”

The country threatened to give the U.S. a “gift,” prompting several American spy planes to fly over the Korean Peninsula on Christmas Day.

The vague threat didn’t materialize. It was made earlier this month after North Korea set a year-end deadline for concessions from the U.S. in exchange for a possible nuclear weapons deal. [NBC News]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Volunteers spent Christmas visiting Chicago’s elderly. [WBEZ]

  • An Aurora family was ambushed while travelling in Mexico. [WBEZ]

  • ESPN is releasing a 10-part documentary on the 1990s Chicago Bulls. [Chicago Tribune]

  • We still want your Chicago holiday bingos. [WBEZ]

Oh, and one more thing …

There are fewer than six days left in 2019, and that means we’ve got precious little time to read all these best-of lists! Hop to!

Here’s a list of the best songs of the year according to Jill Hopkins, host of The Morning AMp on WBEZ’s urban alternative sister station, Vocalo. Her favorites include tracks by Beverly native Jamila Woods, rapper Rapsody, 18-year-old Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X, whose hit song “Old Town Road” broke Billboard records.

“It’s Lil Nas X’s world, and we’re all kind of just living in it,” Hopkins said. [WBEZ]

Tell me something good …

What are your New Year’s resolutions?

@Simpsonology tweets:

“My new year’s resolution is to finally cover my old faded tattoo with new ink — perhaps Simpsons-related!”

Send us your resolutions for the new year and we might share them here.