Erin Allen: Good morning. Welcome to Friday. I'm Erin Allen and this is The Rundown. Jesse White was the longest-serving and first African American secretary of state in Illinois. And he may be out of office, but he’s still got some weight to throw around. Most recently, he’s using it to endorse Paul Vallas in Chicago’s mayoral race. Now, Vallas’s opponent Brandon Johnson has highlighted some critical comments Vallas made about teaching critical race theory and anti-racism in schools. So, Jesse White was asked how he would reconcile his support of Vallas with constituents in the Black community. And in response, White was like, I said what I said.
Jesse White: I’ve known this gentleman as I indicated before for over 40 years. And so I’m speaking on behalf of myself and not taking into consideration the opinion of someone else. I believe that Paul Vallas is the right person for the job.
Erin Allen: Johnson has said Vallas, quote, “does not respect Black people.” But Vallas said his record serving minority communities is clear.
Reactions to the Obama Presidential Center down in South Shore have been a mixed bag. One of the concerns is how the center will impact access to housing in the area. Will the property value go up? Will residents be displaced? Is this well-intentioned center gonna have unintended, gentrifying consequences? Chicago South Shore voters have passed a ballot referendum with overwhelming turnout that deals with the issue. It calls on the City Council to address housing needs. My colleague Esther Yoon-Ji Kang is reporting that the measure is non-binding. But it does send a clear message that the community is not playing about what they want. It passed with an average of 88% of the vote across all precincts in the 5th ward, where South Shore is located. Dixon Romeo leads “Not Me We,” which is a group that’s part of a larger coalition to protect residents who live near the Obama Center.
Dixon Romeo: Folks don’t want displacement to happen in the neighborhood. And folks are in support of having a South Shore housing ordinance that benefits and has resources, programs and policy changes that can help homeowners, condo owners and renters stay in the neighborhood.
Erin Allen: Dixon says there will be a community meeting about next steps on March 16 at South Shore Library. As for the Obama center itself, is still under construction.
During a lame duck session back in 2021, the state of Illinois created a group to advance the idea of setting up reparations. The Reparations Commission was part of a larger package of measures focused on addressing the economic legacy of slavery. If you heard about it, you may be wondering how things are going, and now you can find out. The state has launched a website for residents to track the commission’s progress. My colleague Claudia Morell talked to Democratic State Representative Sonya Harper. Harper is a member of the commission, and she says it will be their job to determine what reparations could look like in Illinois.
Sonya Harper: research, doing focus groups, um engaging the community. Looking at data. Involving activists and academics alike, especially those of African descent
Erin Allen: Harper says the discussion of reparations boils down into two camps, the symbolic and the financial. She says she hopes the launch of the website will foster more engagement on the issue.
It’s that time of year when folks are getting sick with all kinds of things – not just COVID or the flu. And right now stomach flu cases are actually on the rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning about a new stomach bug going around that’s so bad, it’s sending people in the Chicago area to the emergency room. Symptoms are very gastrointestinal, diarrhea, stomach cramps. If you’re feeling weird down there, maybe go get checked out.
And balloting by Chicago cop's for control of their union ends today. The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge represents rank and file officers and CPD retirees. Two slates are competing for seats on their union's 27 member board. One slate is headed by incumbent president John Catanzara. Detective Robert Bartlett leads the opposition slate.
And as you may know, our studios are on Navy Pier. Every day this week I’ve been seeing folks setting up some vaguely reflective structures on the pier in a closed off area. Well it turns out, it’s a new interactive art installation that’s launching this weekend. It’s called “Solstice,” and it allows you to digitally control the environment around you. As always, there’s plenty more to do all over the city this weekend as well, you can find a curated list at Chicago.SunTimes.com.
As for the weather, winter is showing off again. We’ve got a winter storm on our hands. Rain and snow this morning turning to all snow in the afternoon. As I mentioned yesterday, we can expect 3 to 5 inches of snow. It’s also windy out there, with temperatures in the mid 30s all day and into the evening.
And that’s it for the Rundown. Later today we’ve got a special guest.
J. Ivy: Wassup Chicago. It’s your man J. Ivy and you’re listening to the Rundown Podcast.
Erin Allen: J Ivy in the house! He’s the Chicago poet who just won the first ever grammy for a spoken word poetry album, and he’ll talk about the grammys, hip hop, winning, and magic of spoken word itself.
J. Ivy: What it is just having that that magical way of touching your soul and penetrating those layers that may exist that you don't know exist.
Erin Allen: Aiight. That’s enough previewing, come back for the whole thing around 2 this afternoon, and me and J. Ivy will talk to you then.
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