The Rundown: Another mayoral candidate emerges

Plus, Chicago’s “wild” spring is finally over. Here’s what you need to know today.

Paul Vallas
File photo of Paul Vallas in 2014. Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press, File Photo
Paul Vallas
File photo of Paul Vallas in 2014. Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press, File Photo

The Rundown: Another mayoral candidate emerges

Plus, Chicago’s “wild” spring is finally over. Here’s what you need to know today.

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Good afternoon! It’s Wednesday, and I’m glad the wind calmed down a bit. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Former CPS CEO Paul Vallas is the latest candidate to announce a mayoral run

Vallas confirmed today that he’s running for mayor of Chicago — again. He finished ninth out of 14 candidates back in 2019, but this time he says he’s running on improving public safety, expanding school choice and fixing the city’s finances.

He joins State Rep. Kambium ‘Kam’ Buckner, Ald. Raymond Lopez and businessman Willie Wilson on the list who have formally announced their candidacy. Former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley are among those who have said they won’t run.

Vallas, a former city budget director and public schools chief said the dynamics were different during the 2019 election, when corruption and public safety were not top issues for voters.

“I’m running because the city is in crisis,” Vallas told WBEZ’s Becky Vevea. “I have the skills and the experience to provide the leadership that the city desperately needs.” [WBEZ]

His comments come after Chicago experienced its most violent Memorial Day weekend in five years. Nine people were killed and 42 others were injured despite stepped up police patrols and a focus on neighborhood programs. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Lightfoot hasn’t formally announced she’s running for another term but has made it clear she plans to. [Chicago Sun-Times]

2. Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin quietly started a company with a top aide and others who got a city contract

Television commercials for Irvin, a Republican candidate for governor, portray the Aurora mayor as an outsider looking to clean up state government.

But two years ago, Irvin co-founded a consulting firm with a top city aide — who is also a lifelong friend — and two men from Virginia who later got contracts with the city of Aurora. The arrangement highlights several potential conflicts of interest, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The firm, Aurora Dynamic Solutions, is co-owned by Michael Pegues, whom Irvin calls a stepbrother because they have been close since childhood.

Two Virginia men, Ranapratap Chegu and Gyanchander Gongireddy, also co-owned the firm for its first seven months of existence. They run a separate consulting firm in Washington, D.C., which received a $150-per-hour contract to help Irvin’s administration work with COVID-19 data.

The revelations come after news that Irvin received donations from companies that benefited from city actions.

Irvin says he has never crossed an ethical or legal line. [Chicago Tribune]

3. The demand for workers remains near record high

The U.S. labor market continues to favor workers as employers are looking to fill 11.4 million jobs, according to new numbers released today from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

About 4.4 million Americans quit or changed jobs in April, taking advantage of job openings that continue to outnumber job seekers by two-to-one.

The Washington Post reports that layoff fell to an all-time low of 1.2 million, with businesses trying to keep the workers they have. [Washington Post]

In Illinois, a state task force urged the government and businesses to work together to create jobs with pay and benefits that can help workers support families. Most job growth in the state is in high- and low-wage occupations, the 36-member panel said in its report. [Chicago Sun-Times]

4. The former Chicago parks leader blamed political pressure for her exit

Former Chicago Park District Board President Avis LaVelle had said she was “deeply sorry for the culture of abuse and harassment that was allowed to fester” at public beaches and pools across the city.

But minutes before saying that during her resignation announcement last year, LaVelle had a very different message, my colleague Dan Mihalopoulos reports.

During a part of the meeting at which only board members and top agency administrators were allowed access, LaVelle suggested she was a scapegoat who had taken the fall for Mayor Lori Lightfoot, according to a newly released video recording.

“I am another head on a pike in the public sphere,” LaVelle said. [WBEZ]

5. Weather experts say our ‘wild’ spring is finally over.

After a wet and cloudy spring, summer has finally arrived in Chicago, according to meteorologists, who track the seasons in four, three-month increments.

As Illinois state climatologist Trent Ford told the Chicago Tribune: “April was cold, rainy, and gloomy. Temperatures were consistently 2-3 degrees below normal in April, but it was the consistent cloudiness and rain that was noteworthy. (O’Hare International Airport) had 21 days with measurable precipitation between late March and early May, which means that over that time period it rained on more days than it didn’t rain. It was also incredibly cloudy.”

Then the “oven turned on,” Ford said.

May 11 was the earliest temperatures reached 90 degrees since 2011. The next day, May 12, hit 91 degrees. [Chicago Tribune]

Here’s what else is happening

  • See the ultimate list of 2022 Pride Month events in Chicago. [Block Club]
  • Early voting finally gets underway at the city’s downtown supersite. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • President Biden said the U.S. would continue to supply Ukraine with weapons but would not send troops. [New York Times]
  • Taste of Chicago announced this year’s food vendors and music lineups. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Oh, and one more thing …

Experts have learned that Monty, the beloved piping plover who died last month at Montrose Beach, had a severe fungal respiratory infection.

Lincoln Park Zoo performed a necropsy with help from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and University of Illinois Zoological Pathology Program.

Monty and his mate, Rose, arrived at Montrose Beach in 2019 — the first time in five decades that the rare species of piping plover had nested in Chicago.

Monty didn’t show any signs of bird flu. Officials say his remains will be given to the Field Museum’s avian department for future studies. [Block Club]

Tell me something good …

Hey there, it’s Bianca. I’m taking over the newsletter the rest of this week. It’s finally warm outside, and my mom will be in town in a few weeks. I wanted to know, what are the best ice cream spots in Chicago we should hit up this summer?

Dan says:

“Taiyaki on Clark has one of the most unique ‘ice cream’ experiences I’ve had. Matcha soft serve with red bean paste in a fish shaped waffle is my favorite, but for the less adventurous Nutella and vanilla is also a crowd pleaser. After a day at the zoo or any of the other Lincoln Park highlights, this is a stop worth making.”

Kate says:

“Hartigan’s or Homer’s in Evanston. Heavy on the butterfat. Flavors to die for. Hearty portions. Bring lots of cash!”

Lynda says:

“Well, it’s not ice cream, but the best cold dessert in the city in the summer is Mario’s Italian Lemonade. They have over 30 flavors of the best, smooth Italian ice! It’s a walk up on Taylor Street. Always busy and a real treat!”