Hey there, happy Monday! We may see slushy weather tomorrow morning, but the rest of the week looks very mild for December. Here’s what else you need to know today.
The frustration on both sides stems from the migrant crisis, crime in Chicago, a tug of war over leadership of next year’s Democratic National Convention, and tax increases and mandates on businesses in the city, my colleagues Fran Spielman and Tina Sfondeles write for the Chicago Sun-Times.
Pritzker may also be worried that Johnson’s executive inexperience, slow decision making and progressive politics could hurt Chicago’s long-term finances — and the governor’s presidential ambitions, Spielman and Sfondeles report.
At a news conference last month, Pritzker said the state was helping with the migrant crisis because the city hasn’t moved fast enough to get migrants into shelters as winter arrives.
“Not even in the worst of COVID did he criticize Lori Lightfoot like that,” a veteran political observer told the Sun-Times. “He doesn’t like to do that. He’s not comfortable being an aggressive guy. It must have been the governor’s frustrations and not wanting to own the mayor’s failures.” [Chicago Sun-Times]
An 800-page report released Friday by a city consultant found toxic contaminants and heavy metals in the site’s soil.
The city said the site would be “safe for temporary residential use” after the soil is cleaned up. But the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency “still has questions regarding the study,” Jordan Adudayyeh, a spokeswoman for Gov. JB Pritzker, told the Sun-Times.
The land is zoned for heavy manufacturing, has a long history of industrial use and has never been approved for residential purposes. Mayor Brandon Johnson has been pushing for the site to be used to house as many as 2,000 migrants despite protest from residents. [Chicago Sun-Times]
Despite an overall decline in killings, some areas saw sharp increases. The Chicago Lawn police district on the Southwest Side, for example, had one of the largest spikes in murders over the past year, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Chicago Police told the Tribune the increase stems from a staffing issue, with some officers being reallocated to other parts of the city — including downtown during big events — in an effort to combat armed robberies and carjackings.
And even in areas where homicide numbers are significantly lower, there’s a perception that crime is still a major issue. Overall, Chicago Police Department data show 12% fewer murder investigations have been opened so far in 2023 compared to last year. [Chicago Tribune]
Consumer advocates and environmental justice activists are hailing a new system that’s expected to help prevent more utility shut-offs in lower-income neighborhoods across the city.
The tiered discount rate system is only the second of its kind in the country. It starts at a 5% discount for customers with a household income up to three times the federal poverty level. There is up to an 83% discount for those below half the level.
A customer’s entire bill will be discounted, not just fixed delivery costs.
And any customer who documents their need will be able to receive a discount — unlike existing assistance programs that dry up once funding runs out.
The system is expected to be in place by October 2024. [Chicago Sun-Times]
Robert’s Westside joins several independent venues that have settled in the western suburbs, Mark Guarino writes for WBEZ.
Rising rents and property values in Chicago are driving people west to rent or buy homes, so an audience of ex-urbanites is on the rise. Plus, local municipalities are starting to see how a vibrant live music and restaurant scene can bolster an otherwise sagging commercial district.
Along with multiple venues, music schools are also opening at a fast clip in the area. Musician Rob Pierce’s Friendly Music School is busy throughout the day, with classes for children upstairs, a coffee lounge brewing in the afternoon and the bar serving drinks and camaraderie next door. [WBEZ]
Here’s what else is happening
Chicago Public Media CEO Matt Moog is stepping down. [WBEZ]
Illinois residents can now report government corruption online. [WBEZ]
Home prices are up across Illinois. [Chicago Tribune]
Mayor Brandon Johnson’s mental health plan could help him politically. [Chicago Tribune]
Oh, and one more thing …
Do you have “rizz?” That’s the Oxford English Dictionary’s word of the year, beating out “Swiftie,” “de-influencing” and “situationship.”
“Rizz is a colloquial word, defined as style, charm, or attractiveness; the ability to attract a romantic or sexual partner,” according to the Oxford University Press.
The word of the year is meant to celebrate recently created words or expressions that capture a cultural moment.
The use of “rizz” spread on social media platforms, especially TikTok, after influencer Kai Cenat began using the term. [NPR]
Tell me something good …
The end-of-year best book roundups always have me making reading lists to get through the winter. So I wanted to know, what was the best book you read this year?
Feel free to email us, and your response may make it in the newsletter this week.