Justin Bull: Good morning. Happy Spring, Equinox. I'm Justin Bull in for Erin Allen And this is the rundown. We are so very close to knowing who our next mayor is here in Chicago. Election day part two is two weeks and a day away. But if you are locked in and ready to cast your ballot, you can do that because early voting begins today. You can vote early in person at a couple sites downtown – or at the early voting location in your ward. If you want to vote by mail, you still have time but you must apply by March 30th. Check out chicagoelections.gov for hours and addresses and info on that.On that ballot of course will be Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson and former CPS CEO Paul Vallas, your candidates for mayor. Some of you have runoffs in your races for alderperson as well.
Okay, if you drive a vehicle and think you might be on the Kennedy Expressway sometime in the next three years, expect delays: a three-year construction project begins later today, starting with the 7 mile stretch of 90/94 from Montrose to Ohio Street.
Maria Castaneda: By Tuesday morning, you’re going to notice far less lanes and more barriers up, going on down each day until the entire work zone is in place.
Justin Bull: That’s Maria Castaneda, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Transportation. My colleague Michael Puente reports that the project will cost an estimated $150 million and is scheduled to finish in autumn 2025. Transportation officials in Illinois are urging motorists to exercise patience, or to use public transportation.
We’re entering week two of the Commonwealth Edison bribery trial. If you’ve forgotten, this is the trial of four political power players accused of conspiring to bribe then-Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan to advance the electric company’s interests. Later today State Rep Bob Rita is expected to take the stand, he’s a Democrat from Blue Island who negotiated major utility and gambling legislation. My colleague Dave McKinney reports that Rita was the chief sponsor of a 2016 law ComEd wanted and of a 2019 law that brought a casino to Chicago. Rita is expected to testify about how he took direction on that legislation from one of the indicted former ComEd lobbyists, Michael McClain. Prosecutors say that in turn, McClain was taking direction from Madigan. You can find out more about the ins and outs of the trial at WBEZ.org.
We’ve mentioned a few times how additional pandemic-era benefits to SNAP, the public food assistance program, ended this month. That means two million Illinois residents in need are having to make do with smaller food budgets. Yesterday my colleague Lisa Philip asked people about the changes at a spring festival at the Roseland Community Hospital on the far South Side.
Lisa Philip: Linda Hill lives in suburban Oak Lawn. She says her SNAP benefits went down $95 a month.
Linda Hill: Which is a lot! It doesn’t seem like a lot, but with the expense of food today, that’s a big cut.
Lisa Philip: Hill hopes officials will consider a permanent increase to SNAP.
Linda Hill: It allowed me to always have all that I need. But I know God is gonna take care of me. He got me covered.
Justin Bull: Reporting there from WBEZ’s Lisa Philip. And now for a few quick hits. The Illinois House passed a measure on Friday that says you cannot declaw your cat unless there’s a specific medical reason to do so. That bill is now heading to the State Senate. Concession workers at the United Center have ratified a new union contract. They staged a one-day strike earlier this month at a Bulls game. The new agreement includes year-round health insurance, a wage increase and paid parental leave for hundreds of workers. One of three Illinois Prison guards convicted of beating inmate Larry Earvin to death is scheduled to be sentenced today in federal court. Another guard who participated in the beating was sentenced to 20 years last week.
Northwestern bounced out of the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament on Saturday after a loss to UCLA. On the Women’s side, the closest college to Chicago still in the tournament is 3rd ranked Notre Dame, they take on Maryland next weekend.
It is the equinox so keep your eye out for “Chicagohenge” over the next couple days. That’s the picturesque time of year when sunrise and sunset line up almost perfectly with Chicago’s east-west street grid.
And in the weather, it’s a little cloudy so it might be tough to see Chicagohenge, but the cold snap is behind us and there are more signs of spring ahead. Today we’ve got a high of 48 degrees and windy. Later in the week we’ll have temperatures in the 50s and some rain likely on Wednesday and Thursday.
That’s it for now. Later today, I know you’ve been wondering about these new police district councils. You voted in the inaugural members a few weeks ago. But what are they, and how do they impact you?
Speaker 5: Until these councils were established, there wasn't someone who you could go to in your district, who was an elected civilian, whose job it is to represent you. And you could say these are my concerns, these are my desires for public safety, this particular officer did something. It establishes that. It establishes a voice for the community and a place where the community can have input on how their communities are policed.
Justin Bull: That’s Jim Daley, digital news editor over at the Triibe. Catch Erin’s conversation with him – all about why the councils were created and what they mean – right here at 2pm today. I’m Justin Bull, thanks so much for listening. Have a great day.
WBEZ transcripts are generated by an automatic speech recognition service. We do our best to edit for misspellings and typos, but mistakes do come through.