Erin Allen: Good morning, it's Wednesday, I'm Erin Allen and this is The Rundown.
Well, it turns out the CTA is not the only transportation entity with a staffing shortage. Almost five months into the school year Chicago Public schools continues to grapple with a bus driver shortage, which has also happening nationally. In Chicago the district says it needs the higher another 430 drivers to be able to transport all students to school. My colleague Nereida Moreno is reporting that CPS started having serious issues hiring enough drivers well over a year ago. Today, the district is hosting another job fair on the Northwest Side to recruit support staff, including bus drivers. Christine Murphy Judson is the district's director of talent acquisition. She says ideal candidates are reliable and responsible.
Christine Murphy Judson: We're really welcoming anyone with a current driver's license in good standing to come and learn more and see if becoming a bus driver is a match.
Erin Allen: The starting pay is $20 an hour. Officials say more than 600 students are waiting to be routed. In the meantime some students are taking the CTA, or their parents receive a transportation stipend.
The cycling infrastructure in Chicago is one of the reasons I love this city and I am definitely not alone. There's a special camaraderie among us cyclists, right? And that identity as a person who rides their bike in a big city can activate you politically, especially when it comes to safety. The Chicago Tribune is reporting that a few pro bike activist groups are getting more organized. That includes Chicago Family Biking, who is now more aggressively advocating for safer and easier biking in the city. And a new group called “Safe Streets for All. Transit that Works,” launched in December and their plan is to make biking and transit center stage in the city's upcoming elections. Already new bike infrastructure projects are launching across Chicago and groups like these are seeing some political wins. For instance, in December, the city council unanimously approved an ordinance to more regularly and severely penalize drivers for parking in the bike lanes. There are two added city departments to issue tickets with fines raised up to $250. And last week I mentioned Equiticity, an organization working to get Black and brown folks on the west side access to bikes, electric bikes and even electric vehicles. As good as we got in Chicago compared to other cities, there is still more work to be done. I'll keep you posted on how these efforts are unfolding.
So last week I mentioned that faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago were maybe gonna walk off the job, and that they did. They've been on strike since yesterday. They'll get back to bargaining this afternoon negotiating higher pay and free psychological assessments for struggling students. In the meantime, my colleague Lisa Phillip is reporting that some of the university's 34,000 students are facing day two of canceled classes, and she spoke with some of them.
Lisa Phillip: Adam Morrar a junior at UIC. He watched a faculty picket line yesterday.
Adam Morrar: A majority of my classes are canceled… so I'm stranded at UIC in the city till like 2 p.m. It's 10 a.m. for the record.
Lisa Phillip: Still, Morrar supports the strike.
Adam Morrar: You can't be exploited… you got to go on strike and you got to make your voice heard… I'm sure everything's gonna be good in like a week or so, hopefully sooner.
Erin Allen: It's unclear how many people are striking, but nearly 75% of the Union's 900 members did vote for the work stoppage.
Last week, the Chicago Bears announced Kevin Warren as they're fifth president and first Black president. He's leaving his position as Big 10 commissioner. And yesterday the president and CEO made his official introduction at Halas Hall. He says he is here to strive for a knew ring and a new stadium.
Kevin Warren: I came here to win championships. To win the NFC North. To win the NFC. To win the Super Bowl. To help shepherd and lead a stadium development project.
Erin Allen: Warren Says the Bears are quote 100% focused on moving to Arlington Heights, but he didn't give a proposed timeline.
And before we get to weather, a few quick hits. So I mentioned last week that though the weapons ban was signed into law, some counties are not trying to enforce it. Well, there are about 80 of them saying they're not going to do it. And so far two lawsuits have been filed to challenge the ban. The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that this is likely just the beginning of the suits. I'll keep you updated on that as updates come in.
And tomorrow, ABC7 will showcase a debate with all nine candidates for mayor. And it will be live with no commercials. The program starts at 7 p.m. at the ABC7 Studios, on State Street, and it’ll go for about 90 minutes. Candidates will answer questions from ABC7 anchors and reporters. For those like me who don’t technically have a TV, it’s also gonna stream live on abc7chicago.com, ABC7's digital stream and News App, their YouTube account and Facebook.
As for weather today, it's cloudy again in the mid thirties right now and pretty much all day. If you haven't left the house yet, maybe grab your umbrella rein will likely start up in the late afternoon, early evening and it'll go through the night.
And that's it for now. Later today I'm talking to my colleague Alex Keefe about how his team is covering the Chicago mayoral election and much of their journalism a little differently.
Alex Keefe: Is there a thing I can help you understand, is there a thing I can help you navigate? Is there a thing that we can help solve for you with our journalism?
Erin Allen: It's called engagement journalism and he wants to engage you in the process by focusing less on who's in the lead and more on what you would want the mayor to address. That's today at 2 p.m. on The Rundown. I'm Erin Allen and I'll talk to you then.
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