WBEZ’s Rundown Of Today’s Top News: Lightfoot Seeks To Reopen Bars, Restaurants

Chicago bars and restaurants
Dozens of people enjoy a beer and a meal both inside and outside at Bureau Bar and Restaurant , 2115 S. State St., on Nov. 8, 2020. Marc C. Monaghan / WBEZ
Chicago bars and restaurants
Dozens of people enjoy a beer and a meal both inside and outside at Bureau Bar and Restaurant , 2115 S. State St., on Nov. 8, 2020. Marc C. Monaghan / WBEZ

WBEZ’s Rundown Of Today’s Top News: Lightfoot Seeks To Reopen Bars, Restaurants

Hey there! It’s Thursday, and my editor said I’m contractually obligated to say I love working at Navy Pier, where WBEZ’s newsroom is located … right next to a funhouse. Here’s what you need to know today.

(By the way, if you’d like this emailed to your inbox, you can sign up here.)

1. Lightfoot says she wants bars and restaurants reopened soon

Mayor Lori Lightfoot today said she is “very, very focused” on reopening indoor service at bars and restaurants “as soon as possible,” and she plans to talk to Gov. JB Pritzker about the issue.

The mayor’s comments come as Pritzker is expected to announce a roll back of some restrictions tomorrow. The governor is happy to talk to Lightfoot, but Chicago and Cook County don’t currently meet the criteria for rolling back restrictions on bars and restaurants, a Pritzker spokeswoman told WTTW.

Lightfoot initially objected to Pritzker’s decision in October to shut down indoor dining at bars and restaurants, but she eventually relented. [WTTW]

As Chicago Tribune reporter Gregory Pratt points out, the options in Chicago are particularly terrible: “People are dying from COVID-19, which is still high in Chicago. Bars and restaurants are going broke. The city’s finances are in trouble. All around bad situation.”

Meanwhile, a public elementary school in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood has reported a cluster of COVID-19 cases during the first week that some students have returned to classrooms, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. Eight people at McCutcheon Elementary, including the school’s principal, are now quarantining after two staff members tested positive.

A spokeswoman for Chicago Public Schools suggested the virus may have been transmitted at the school, a scenario the Chicago Teachers Union has voiced concerns over as it pushes back against the district’s reopening plan. [Chicago Sun-Times]

2. Biden to unveil plan to jumpstart the economy as layoffs skyrocket

President-elect Joe Biden tonight will lay out his plan for a large federal relief bill that is expected to include another round of stimulus payments.

Biden will push Congress to provide $1,400 to Americans and aid to small businesses and local and state governments, according to Brian Deese, the incoming director of the National Economic Council.

Deese said Biden’s first relief package will also include a huge increase in funding for vaccine distribution, testing and contact tracing. [Reuters]

The news comes as the Labor Department today reported that nearly a million Americans filed for unemployment last week, the most since August.

Economists across the ideological spectrum have warned for months that layoffs would get worse if Congress does not spend more money to prop up the economy. [AP]

3. When will the Senate begin its impeachment trial?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today remained quiet about when she intends to send the article of impeachment to the Senate, which would then hold a trial. And many Senate Republicans are also staying silent about whether they would vote to convict or acquit President Donald Trump.

Senate Democrats would likely need support from 17 Republicans to convict the president. Only a handful of Republican senators have suggested they are open to voting to convict, among them Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. If McConnell did vote to convict, it could increase the likelihood that other Republicans would follow. But would that be enough?

Even if the Senate voted to convict Trump, the matter could wind up before the Supreme Court. That’s because a Senate trial won’t happen until after Trump leaves office, an unprecedented move that puts the impeachment process in uncharted territory.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., has already suggested the Senate doesn’t have the authority to convict a former president. [AP]

Meanwhile, Trump wanted to go to the House floor and personally defend himself against being impeached a second time, but advisers talked him out of it, according to The New York Times.

The newspaper reports the president has become increasingly isolated, and his relationships with some loyal allies have become frayed. Trump was reportedly furious with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who has publicly blamed the president for last week’s insurrection.

And Trump has told aides to not pay his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who requested $20,000 a day to represent the president during his election fight, the Times and the Washington Post report. White House aides have reportedly begun blocking Giuliani’s calls to the president. [New York Times]

4. Last year was one of the hottest years on record

Scientists for the U.S. government today released multiple reports that indicate global warming is speeding up, raising the possibility that the planet could breach the critical 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold for the first time later this decade.

If that happens, the impact would be catastrophic on the planet, scientists say. Among the devastating effects would be large-scale rising sea levels.

“It is somewhat shocking to me how fast the warming seems to be proceeding,” Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist at Texas A&M University, told The Washington Post. [WaPo]

5. Secret Service agents were told not to use bathrooms at Ivanka and Kushner’s house

American taxpayers paid $3,000 a month for a studio so Secret Service agents assigned to protect Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner could have a bathroom, reports The Washington Post. To date, more than $100,000 has been spent on the basement studio.

A White House spokesperson said Trump and Kushner did not prohibit agents from using any of the 6.5 bathrooms in their house in Northwest Washington, and said it was the Secret Service who made the decision. But a law enforcement official told the newspaper the request came from the family.

The Post also reports “the detail occasionally popped into neighborhood businesses to avail themselves of the facilities.” [Washington Post]

Here’s what else is happening

  • A team of scientists from the World Health Organization arrived in Wuhan, China, to investigate the origins of the coronavirus. [NPR]
  • The Chicago Police Department suspended 17 officers and supervisors who were lounging in the burglarized office of U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush last summer, according to a police union. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • A prominent national activist cheered on students at Northwestern University who are calling for the abolition of campus police. [WBEZ]
  • A cat believed to have been killed in a 2018 mudslide was found roaming the area where she disappeared. [NPR]

Oh, and one more thing …

It has been quite a week. So here’s some good news: A Tennessee lawmaker wants a statue of Dolly Parton added to the Capitol’s grounds in Nashville.

According to legislation filed yesterday by Democratic Rep. John Mark Windle, a state commission would solicit public input and create a plan for the statue, which would be paid for with grants and donations.

I don’t envy that commission because Parton has a ton of amazing country-glam looks. [Tennessean]

Tell me something good …

What’s your favorite comfort food to eat in the winter?

Steph Powers tweets:

“Winter means my husband can pull out the classics he does so well without fear of overheating the kitchen. Mac n cheese, pulled pork with roasted veggies, roasted whole chickens, stew, and of course, chili. It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

What do you like eating during the winter? Feel free to email me at therundown@wbez.org or tweet me at @whuntah.

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