Erin Allen: Good morning. It's Tuesday. I'm Erin Allen and this is The Rundown. The two candidates for mayor are kicking off their final week of campaigning by one trying to set the record straight on their own resumes and two attacking each other. Still my colleague Mariah Woelfel is reporting on this. She says Paul Vallas was at the get out the vote rally yesterday morning with some of the trade unions that are backing him. They spoke out against Brandon Johnson's plan and to raise taxes on certain businesses including hotels and motels. Brandon Johnson on the other hand, spoke to a crowd of civic leaders downtown. He tried to fight back against attacks from Vallas, who has said Johnson wants to defund the police.
Brandon Johnson: He knows it’s not true. I wouldn’t reduce the CPD budget, not one penny.
Erin Allen: The April 4th run-off election is a week from today.
So remember last week, I talked about polystyrene foam, AKA styrofoam? The Illinois House of Representatives had passed a proposal to end the use of takeout food containers that are made of it. Well now the Illinois Senate is looking at doing something similar with plastic. They just passed a measure that requires state agencies to start phasing out plastic food ware. Democratic Senator Laura Fine is the sponsor. She says the proposal will allow the state to lead the way on reusable products.
Laura Fine: We as a government agency and body can be responsible for setting the stage for allowing a reduction in single use plastics.
Erin Allen: The measure is one of many that the General Assembly is working on to limit the use of plastic in Illinois. Another one would ban agencies from offering plastic food ware at state parks. Senator finds proposals would require state agencies to keep track of the plastic food ware purchases. They would also have to submit a plan to the General Assembly by the fall of 2025.
Peoples Gas has requested a $402 million a rate increase. So for as consumers, this would mean your typical residential bill would go up by about $12 a month. And advocates are concerned about how this could harm Black and brown communities who have low to moderate income. So advocacy groups went out in front of the Chicago headquarters for People's Gas yesterday to protest the potential rate hikes. My colleague Indi Khera spoke to one of them. Yessenia Balcazar is with the Southeast Environmental task force.
Yessenia Balcazar: Our residents are so highly impacted by this, increasing their utility bills. A lot of the times families are already scraping by on their bills just to be able to provide for their families, to give them the basic necessity of heat.
Erin Allen: Balcazar says her first priority is getting rate relief for residents. So last month I mentioned there was a measured in the Illinois statehouse that would help Children get their voices heard more during abuse and neglect proceedings as things stand right now, somebody called a DCFs Guardian ad litem is who represent children and the Guardian goes buy what they themselves think is best for the child in these proceedings. But the new measures I mentioned has now cleared the Illinois Senate. It would give abused and neglected children their own attorney representation. These attorney's would represent what the child wants. The measure was proposed by Democratic State Senator Ann Gillespie. And it would apply to children under the care of the state’s Department of Children and Family Services.
Ann Gillespie: Under our current system, the one person at the center of a child welfare case is the one person that’s not represented by their own counsel.
Erin Allen: The measure also creates a commission that would design the program and that would be phased in over three years. It now moves to the House for consideration.
And now for a few quick hits, another update on the Little Village Discount Mall. Yesterday, the city of Chicago announced that more time has been granted too. The 40 vendors at the mall to move out of the building. The vendors were originally slated to be out by today but they now have six more weeks. Those vendor's will also have a new home of former CVS drugstore over on Pulaski about a mile west of the mall and the city is fixing it up.
And what if lake shore drive was more like a greenway and less like a highway? Urbanize Chicago has some beautiful images of what the north lake shore would look like after an initiative called “Redefine the Drive.” Do yourself a favor and check out the newly released images on their website, one of them shows the eight lane superhighway with trails, much more hospitable to pedestrians and lake-goers. The initiative is led by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Chicago Department of Transportation. You can see some of the images at chicago.urbanize.city.
And transgender Day of Visibility is coming up this Friday. It’s meant to promote international awareness about trans issues and celebrate the lives and contributions of trans folks. If you wanna get involved, Block Club Chicago has a lovely list of local community groups you can engage in order to do that. Go to blockclubchicago.org.
As for the weather, it's a bit cloudy this morning, but the sun is coming out later this afternoon. It's going up to the mid forties today, clear skies tonight. And that's it for The Rundown today. I'm Erin Allen. Thanks for listening. I'll talk to you tomorrow morning.
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