Erin Allen: Good morning, it's Thursday, I'm Erin Allen and this is The Rundown, the Illinois State Board of Ed superintendent Carmen Ayala is getting ready to leave her post, but she made sure the forward a budget before she leaves. Yesterday, the state board unanimously approved a budget that she advanced and a part of it asked state lawmakers to increase spending on K through 12 education by $350 million. But advocates say that's not nearly enough. Many of them asked for $550 million increase, and the pointed out Illinois is far behind it's goal of adequately funding all schools by 2027. Board member Roger Eddy voted for the budget. He said he believes the $550 million would be rejected by state lawmakers.
Roger Eddy: We want to make sure people aren't planning their budget based on pixie dust.
Erin Allen: But Eddy pointed out that $350 million is the minimum increase required by state law and that the state took in more revenue than expected last year.
So last summer the city was shook when three children were killed in biking accidents, including a toddler in a carrier on her mother's bike on the North Side. She died after they were knocked off balance trying to avoid a ComEd truck that was blocking the bike lane. It was one of several traffic related fatalities involving a car and a pedestrian or bicyclist. So now Chicago and state transportation officials have come to a new agreement that will make it easier to add safety measures to city roads. My colleague Claudia Morell is reporting that the agreement will help them modernize outdated roads to accommodate different kinds of transportation. Under the agreement, the city will no longer need prior approval from the Illinois Department of Transportation before it breaks ground on certain street improvements. This will allow the city to widen streets to allow for bigger cars and more easily accommodate non car traffic.
Not only will there be changes to the process for improving streets, but there may be some penalties for folks parking illegally. If you're a driver, you may have received a ticket in the mail because a camera caught you running a red light are making an illegal turn. Well now you can face the same fate if you block a bike lane, bus stop, crosswalk or loading zone. The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that at a city council meeting yesterday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot joined downtown alderpersons Brian Hopkins and Brendan Reilly to propose an ordinance that would create a pair of pilot programs called “Smart Streets” and “Smart Loading Zones.” Under the ordinance, they would use cameras to catch motorists blocking areas they're not supposed to in two separate zones downtown stretching from Lake Michigan to Ashland and North Avenue to Roosevelt. It'svery controversial. Many Chicagoans are already uncomfortable with surveillance currently happening, like red light, cameras. But Transportation Commissioner Gia Biagi thinks the ordinance is a – quote – “important step” toward faster, more reliable and efficient CTA bus service, plus she says it’ll make streets downtown safer for pedestrians, folks in wheelchairs and cyclists. I'll keep you updated on how this shakes out.
So yesterday I mentioned that cyclists groups have created a plan to advocate for themselves in the upcoming elections, and Chicago's biggest police union is too. The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 has been challenging candidates who are running for newly created police district council seats. My colleague, Anna Savchenko is reporting that they paid a total of $25,000 to two election attorneys to challenge the nominations of these candidates. One of the attorneys challenged Veronica Arreola’s nomination in a north side police district.
Veronica Arreola: For the union to file objections just shows where their priorities are. They're not really talking about the councils as a way to improve safety in the community. They're just trying to throw longtime community organizers off the ballot.
Erin Allen: The FOP was not successful in throwing Arreola off the ballot. But FOP attorney, Frank Avila is still at it. He says the union is simply working to elect candidates who – quote – “don't have an anti police agenda."
And a few quick hits before we get to the weather. Are you into puppets? I didn't think I cared until I realized The Lion King theater production is a bunch of puppets. Love that show. And there are so many others like it. In fact, yesterday the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival started and it's the largest puppet festival in the US. There's puppeteers from 10 country's putting on more than 100 performances all over the city. You can get more info at Chicago puppet fest dot org.
And today in basketball, my two worlds are colliding — the Chicago Bulls are playing the Detroit Pistons, and what’s dope is the game is in Paris. The Bulls have played in Paris before, back in 1997 when Jordan was still on the team. Today, the game is at 2pm, and my colleague Katie O’Connell is reporting that both teams say they’re definitely doing as the French do – indulging in cuisine, wine and all the culture.
As for weather today, it’s cloudy and a little warmer today, high in the low 40s. It'll be raining off and on throughout the day. Lows tonight in the mid 30s. And that's it for The Rundown today. I'll talk to you early tomorrow morning.
Detroit basketball! Yeah, I just had to get that off...
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