The Rundown: Johnson plays ball on White Sox subsidies

Plus, Chicago brewers dip into weed. Here’s what you need to know today.

The Rundown: Johnson plays ball on White Sox subsidies

Plus, Chicago brewers dip into weed. Here’s what you need to know today.

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Good afternoon! I’m looking on the bright side of the AT&T outage and thankful I didn’t get election robocalls this morning. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Mayor Johnson cracks the door open to subsidizing a new White Sox ballpark

Mayor Brandon Johnson appears to be considerably more receptive to the concept of using city tax revenue for new stadiums — either for the Sox or the Bears — than Gov. JB Pritzker and some legislators, my colleague Fran Spielman reports.

“As far as public dollars, we haven’t gotten into any of those specifics just yet,” the mayor said of discussions with Sox officials.

“But I will say that we’re gonna explore all options. But we have to make sure that we’re doing right by the people of Chicago. … Everything is on the table here. But again, I want to make sure there is a real commitment to public use and public benefit.”

Johnson’s comments came as Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf has begun an uphill battle for $1 billion in state funding for a new ballpark to be located in Chicago’s South Loop. [Chicago Sun-Times]

2. Illinois officials say they have helped reunite thousands of migrants with friends and family members in other states

The state has spent more than $620,000 on travel arrangements for more than 3,100 migrants since mid-November, the Chicago Tribune reports, citing state records.

“Using these funds to quickly connect new arrivals with their next step is significantly cheaper than moving people into shelters. The state plans to continue using funds in this way for the foreseeable future,” a spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Human Services told the Tribune.

This strategy has been credited as a factor driving down the number of migrants staying at Chicago shelters.

“As of Wednesday, the city reported there were nearly 12,400 residents in 24 active shelters run by the city, state and O’Hare International Airport, down from the more than 15,000 migrants staying in 27 city-run shelters at its peak in mid-December,” the Tribune reports. [Chicago Tribune]

3. A vocal critic of City Hall is having a hard time getting out of City Hall

Ald. Raymond Lopez has been a frequent critic of so-called progressive policies pushed by Mayor Brandon Johnson and his predecessor, Lori Lightfoot.

“Most of the Democratic voters feel as though this party no longer represents them, that it’s been lurching too far to the left,” Lopez told Fox News host Jesse Watters late last year.

Lopez is now trying to unseat U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García in next month’s Democratic primary, setting up a major test of his assertion that voters in a Latino-majority district think more like him, my colleagues Tessa Weinberg and Dan Mihalopoulos report.

But Lopez’s efforts to seek higher office have sputtered.

He ran for Chicago mayor last year but dropped out long before voters went to the polls. And his current congressional campaign also appears to be faltering, having only raised about $46,000 through the end of December. [WBEZ]

4. Beyoncé’s foundation offers scholarships to cosmetology schools, including one in the Chicago area

Trenz Beauty Academy is one of five schools nationwide chosen by Beyoncé’s foundation, BeyGOOD Fund, to be eligible for $250,000 in scholarships, my colleague Phyllis Cha reports.

Sharon Payton, founder of Trenz Beauty Academy, said when she got an email from BeyGOOD, she wasn’t sure if it was real at first.

“It was just a moment of, ‘I don’t believe this is happening,’ ” Payton said. “We’ve been giving back, but then to see a celebrity give back to the beauty industry, it was a real warm feeling.”

The scholarships appear to be personal for Beyoncé. The singer told Essence magazine she grew up watching her mother work as a hairstylist. It was in her mother’s salon, Beyoncé said, that she realized she wanted to be a performer. [Chicago Sun-Times]

5. The new frontier for Chicago brewers? Weed drinks that don’t resemble beer.

With interest in craft beers waning, THC drinks are becoming an attractive alternative for brewers, WBEZ contributor Steve Hendershot reports.

“After all, they’re trendy, easier to produce than beer and, with a different flavor than a lager or ale and a different buzz, appeal to a slightly different audience,” Hendershot writes.

While there’s no guarantee THC drinks can reverse the fortunes of overextended craft breweries, Illinois breweries are still keen to experiment with a popular new product that fits within their ethos.

“A lot of [Illinois breweries] see this as an opportunity to create a beverage that is an alternative to alcohol yet fits in their bailiwick,” said Ray Stout, executive director of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild. [WBEZ]

Here’s what else is happening

  • The death of a nonbinary high school student in Oklahoma comes amid a heightened and hostile climate against the LGBTQ+ community. [CNN]

  • A second man will be executed by nitrogen gas in Alabama. [BBC]

  • Scientists discovered a Stone Age “megastructure” on the floor of the Baltic Sea. [NPR]

  • Hydeia Broadbent, a prominent HIV/AIDS activist, died at 39. [NPR]

Oh, and one more thing …

Here’s something I’ve been meaning to check out — The Matchbox Magic Flute at the Goodman Theatre, which got 3 1/2 stars from Chicago Sun-Times contributor Kyle MacMillan.

The production — a distinctive take on Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Magic Flute, a classic tale of love, magic and morality — is “charming, zany, fun and abundantly imaginative,” MacMillan writes.

The Matchbox Magic Flute is the brainchild of critically acclaimed director Mary Zimmerman, who is marking her 18th production in a three-decade affiliation with the Goodman.

“It is a hybrid, a playful variation … This little Flute is more a creature of the theater, not opera. As am I.” [Chicago Sun-Times]

Tell me something good …

What’s something that made you smile recently?

Kathy O’Dwyer writes:

“My 3-year-old grandson had the sniffles the other day, so I sat with him all day. When his mom came home, I got ready to leave. He said no, stay here. I told him that I had to go home to see Papa. He ran off and came back with his coat on (upside down) and his shoes on. He said, ‘I go Papa too.’ I smiled all the way home.”

Ina writes:

“What made me smile? On Valentine’s Day a cardinal was singing his sweet song from the rooftop of a neighbor’s home. A love song for me! I’ve missed seeing the cardinals during the winter. … I want to believe it was my mom’s spirit saying ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’ to me.”

Feel free to email me, and your response might be shared in the newsletter this week.