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Friday, June 23, 2017

Steppenwolf releases ‘official statement’ on Hedy Weiss review uproar

Posted By on 06.23.17 at 04:01 PM

Hedy Weiss - RICH HEIN / SUN-TIMES
  • Rich Hein / Sun-Times
  • Hedy Weiss

[UPDATE: Friday, the Chicago Sun-Times issued it own statement in support of longtime critic Hedy Weiss: read it here.]

Last week, after Chicago Sun-Times critic Hedy Weiss's review of Antoinette Nwandu's Pass Over sparked an Internet uproar and drew thousands of signatures on an online petition, Steppenwolf Theatre artistic director Anna D. Shapiro and executive director David Schmitz issued a statement on behalf of the company accusing Weiss of "deep-seated bigotry." They also promised that "an official institutional response" would follow.


Today, that official response arrived, notably more nuanced.  Steppenwolf is now calling for "ongoing community-wide dialogue," and says it will be "eager to participate."

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Rauner rejects Emanuel's massive Thompson Center offer, and other Chicago news

Posted By on 06.23.17 at 06:00 AM

The lobby of the Thompson Center in 2015 - RICH HEIN/SUN-TIMES
  • Rich Hein/Sun-Times
  • The lobby of the Thompson Center in 2015

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Friday, June 23, 2017. Have a great weekend!

  • Rauner rejects Emanuel's massive Thompson Center offer

Despite his repeated calls for its sale and redevelopment, Governor Bruce Rauner has rejected Mayor Rahm Emanuel's offer "to clear the way for construction of an enormous 2 million-square-foot office tower where the aging Thompson Center now stands," according to Crain's Chicago Business. The governor reportedly wants "a free hand" to have the state-owned facility be replaced by a building approaching the size of the Willis Tower, and he was unwilling to address a city pension bill pushed by Emanuel in exchange for the deal, instead urging the mayor to pressure house speaker Michael Madigan for concessions on a statewide pension bill. Even house Republican leader Jim Durkin intervened, urging Rauner to compromise. "I think the governor has missed an excellent opportunity," Democratic alderman Brendan Reilly told Crain's. "For the life of me, I can't understand why." [Crain's Chicago Business]

  • Durbin slams Senate GOP health-care plan: "You can put a lace collar on a pit bull and it's still a mean dog"

Senator Dick Durbin slammed the Senate Republicans' new health-care bill Thursday, saying, "You can put a lace collar on a pit bull and it's still a mean dog." Republican senators have been trying to claim that its newly released draft legislation is not as "mean" as even President Trump at one point proclaimed the House version to be, but that's not true, according to Durbin. His fellow Democratic senator, Tammy Duckworth, noted that the Senate version includes "massive tax cuts to Trump's billionaire friends" and would force "millions of working Americans to pay more for less care." [Tribune]

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

The end of an era: Cook County clerk David Orr reportedly won't run again, and other Chicago news

Posted By on 06.22.17 at 06:00 AM

Cook County clerk David Orr speaks to the media in 2016. - RICH HEIN/SUN-TIMES
  • Rich Hein/Sun-Times
  • Cook County clerk David Orr speaks to the media in 2016.

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Thursday, June 22, 2017.

  • End of an era: Cook County clerk David Orr won't run again

After 26 years as Cook County clerk, David Orr has announced that he will not run for reelection again, according to the Sun-Times. A fixture at City Hall since 1979, when he was first elected to the City Council, Orr was also briefly mayor for eight days after the unexpected death of Harold Washington in 1987. [Sun-Times]

  • Rauner calls for unity on budget, asks legislature to "act for the people"

Governor Bruce Rauner gave a televised speech calling for a "compromise budget plan" ten days ahead of the special budget session he's convened after the Illinois General Assembly under his leadership once again failed to pass a budget before June 30, the end of the fiscal year. Invoking Lincoln, Rauner claimed that "right now, our state is in real crisis—and the actions we take in the days ahead will determine how history remembers: "We reviewed a compromise budget plan that I can sign—one that we can all support. It moves us to middle ground on key issues. It is truly balanced. It funds schools, higher education, and human services. It provides a real path to property tax reduction." Meanwhile, the state, in a stalemate, has been operating without a budget since July 1, 2015, and has seen its credit rating lowered to just above junk. [Sun-Times]

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Alderman Reilly places ‘urgent request’ for more police downtown, and other Chicago news

Posted By on 06.21.17 at 06:00 AM

People stroll along the Riverwalk in 2015. - BRIAN JACKSON/FOR THE SUN-TIMES
  • Brian Jackson/For the Sun-Times
  • People stroll along the Riverwalk in 2015.

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Wednesday, June 21, 2017.

  • Alderman Reilly's "urgent request" for more police downtown

Alderman Brendan Reilly has put in an "urgent request" for more overnight police patrols, more surveillance cameras, and better lighting along the Riverwalk, in Streeterville, and on the Lakefront Trail, the Sun-Times reports. Reilly also wants the Ohio Street underpass under Lake Shore Drive to be closed overnight after a 25-year-old woman was shot and killed near there in Streeterville Sunday, marking the first homicide downtown in 2017 so far this year. There have also been several nonfatal shootings downtown recently, including one near Millennium Park, as well as a stabbing at North Avenue Beach. [Sun-Times]

  • CPS borrows $275 million at 6.39 percent interest rate in order to make pension payments

Chicago Public Schools is set to borrow $275 million from J.P. Morgan at a "sky-high" interest rate of 6.39 percent in order to make a mandatory pension payment by June 30, according to the Sun-Times. The interest rate is "more than four times the interest rate a typical government would pay on the same borrowing deal," according to experts. "CPS has no regular market access, so the price they pay to borrow is always the product of negotiation," Matt Fabian, a partner at Municipal Market Analytics, told the newspaper. [Sun-Times]

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

What to make of Bonobos CEO Andy Dunn's decision to sell out to Wal-Mart?

Posted By on 06.20.17 at 06:30 AM

Bonobos CEO Andy Dunn posing with Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler during a store opening party in 2016. - RYAN SMITH
  • Ryan Smith
  • Bonobos CEO Andy Dunn posing with Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler during a store opening party in 2016.

Corporate sellout. That's the epithet social media users have adopted to describe Bonobos in the wake of its recent sale to Walmart for $310 million, and why not?

The NYC-based menswear brand, founded by Chicago native Andy Dunn in 2007, built a niche as a cool, millennial-friendly online company. If you listen to popular podcasts, chances are you've heard their ads (Dunn was even a guest on NPR's From Scratch podcast last year). Bonobos also talked a big game when it came to fostering a unique company culture and employee happiness. When I interviewed Dunn in April 2016 at a Bonobos store opening at Michigan Avenue, he bragged that Crain's New York Business had named his company one of the best places to work in 2011. Eventually he'd love to top that list, he told me.

That wish looks hollow now that Bonobos is joining forces with Wal-Mart—the monolithic retail giant synonymous with profit-driven corporate evil—a fact not lost on many of the company's customers.

The top "Liked" comment on Bonobo's Facebook page announcing the deal reads: 
" . . . it's also a move that your loyal customer base sees as the ends justifying the means. You're joining an organization that millennials, your core consumers, loath and vilify as destructive, unethical, and cheap—essentially the polar opposite when previously thinking about Bonobos. In doing so you've alienated the voice of your customer—that which heavily contributed to the Bonobos brand initial success. In the mind of the consumer, the connection has been made and the perspective of quality tarnished."

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Chicago hit 300 homicides over Father's Day weekend, and other news

Posted By on 06.20.17 at 06:00 AM

A Chicago police officer stands guard outside of Joseph Warren Elementary School following a shooting on June 16. - PHOTO BY SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IMAGES
  • Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images
  • A Chicago police officer stands guard outside of Joseph Warren Elementary School following a shooting on June 16.

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Tuesday, June 20, 2017.

  • Chicago hit 300 homicides over Father's Day weekend, keeping pace with 2016

A 33-year-old man was shot to death around 2:30 AM Monday, marking the 300th homicide in Chicago in 2017, according to the Tribune. The 300th homicide of 2016 also took place over Father's Day weekend. It was a violent holiday weekend, with at least 50 people shot and 11 people killed; 13 were injured and four were killed even over a five-hour period from late Sunday into early Monday. [Tribune]

  • Report: Less than a quarter of Chicago teens attend their neighborhood high schools

Less than a quarter of Chicago students attend their neighborhood public high school, according to a report by DNAinfo Chicago. In 2007, almost 45 percent of Chicago teens went to their neighborhood Chicago Public Schools high school. The numbers show a dramatic shift toward selective enrollment Chicago Public Schools and private schools. CPS has also been giving parents and students more choice about their schools. "I don't think it's people abandoning neighborhood schools," the district's chief education officer, Janice Jackson told DNAinfo Chicago. "I think we know that there's a degree of competitiveness within schools and we make sure there's balance there. Parents have choice, and we do want parents to choose based on their values." [DNAinfo Chicago]

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Husband of alderman, majoral donor possibly facing fines of more than $750K for improper lobbying of the mayor, and other Chicago news

Posted By on 06.19.17 at 10:11 AM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaks at the City Club of Chicago. - RICH HEIN/ SUN-TIMES
  • Rich Hein/ Sun-Times
  • Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaks at the City Club of Chicago.

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Monday, June 19, 2017.

  • Husband of alderman and major Emanuel donor facing fines for improperly lobbying the mayor through private emails

A major donor to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the husband of alderman Sophia King are facing "hefty fines for lobbying the mayor through his private emails but failing to register as lobbyists," according to the Sun-Times. Neither Emanuel donor and friend James Abrams nor Obama family friend Alan King have yet registered as lobbyists. The fines, which could reach more than $750,000 for King and $773,000 for Abrams, will be determined by the Chicago Board of Ethics during a July 17 meeting. [Sun-Times]

  • TripAdvisor names the Chicago architecture boat tours the most popular in America

The architectural boat tours along the Chicago River beat out Grand Canyon tours and the tours to the State of Liberty as the most popular in the U.S., according to travel site TripAdvisor. Several different companies operate boats along the river, but TripAdvisor singled out Shoreline Sightseeing tours. More than 54 million tourists visited Chicago in 2016, setting a new record for the city. [Curbed Chicago]

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Stop blaming Bernie Sanders for the GOP baseball shooting

Posted By on 06.16.17 at 03:45 PM

Bernie Sanders speaks at the People's Summit 2017 in Chicago. - RYAN SMITH
  • Ryan Smith
  • Bernie Sanders speaks at the People's Summit 2017 in Chicago.

Bernie Sanders growled while delivering the keynote speech at last weekend's People Summit in Chicago: "Part of the problem is . . . nobody wants to hurt each other anymore."

Packed into McCormick Place's Arie Crown Theater, thousands of his followers roared in response, some furiously waving bloody fake heads of Donald Trump borrowed from Kathy Griffin. "Knock the crap out of them!" Sanders screamed, his index finger pointing at some invisible target like a cocked gun while red beret-wearing Bernie bros in the aisles began passing out burning torches and pitchforks.

The dark truth about Sanders's so-called political revolution was suddenly revealed. The GOP needed to feel the Bern in a more tangible way. Would a violent coup be next? Would they reanimate the corpse of Joseph Stalin to help fight Trump?

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Rauner calls ten-day special legislative session before the end of the fiscal year, and other Chicago news

Posted By on 06.16.17 at 06:00 AM

Governor Bruce Rauner at a round table with Hegewisch business community leaders earlier this month - BRIAN JACKSON/FOR THE SUN-TIMES
  • Brian Jackson/For the Sun-Times
  • Governor Bruce Rauner at a round table with Hegewisch business community leaders earlier this month

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Friday, June 16, 2017. Have a great weekend!

  • Rauner tries to end budget stalemate with ten-day special legislative session

Governor Bruce Rauner has called a ten-day special legislative session from June 21 to 30 to try to end the nearly tw0-year-old state budget impasse before the end of the fiscal year. "Today, I'm calling the General Assembly back here to Springfield—a continuous special session that will start next week and stay in effect until a balanced budget is passed," Rauner said in a Facebook video. "We have tough, urgent choices to make and the legislature must be present to make them." [Sun-Times]

  • Cook County will no longer prosecute some traffic offenses due to lack of resources

The Cook County state's attorney's office will stop prosecuting some traffic offenses due to lack of resources and personnel. "The state's attorney's office will not prosecute people accused of driving on licenses that have been suspended or revoked for financial reasons—such as failure to pay child support, tolls or parking tickets," the Tribune reports. Cities in Cook County will still have the option to prosecute these offenses. "We are in a triage mode, and we can't continue to do what we were doing ten years ago with 30 percent less resources," first assistant state's attorney Eric Sussman told the newspaper. [Tribune]

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Black Lives Matters sues Chicago Police Department over reform consent decree, and other news

Posted By on 06.15.17 at 06:00 AM

Black Lives Matter activists joined living wage activists for an April rally and march in Chicago. - PHOTO BY SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IMAGES
  • Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images
  • Black Lives Matter activists joined living wage activists for an April rally and march in Chicago.

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Thursday, June 15, 2017.

  • Black Lives Matters sues Chicago Police Department over reform

Black Lives Matter Chicago and other civil rights and activist groups are suing the Chicago Police Department, arguing that only a federal judge can effectively oversee badly needed reforms in the police force, DNAinfo Chicago reports. Specifically, the activists want a federal judge to enforce a consent decree based on the reforms suggested in January's Department of Justice report, as Mayor Rahm Emanuel had originally committed to before his June 5 announcement that the city was instead seeking an independent monitor. The suit was filed on behalf of six plaintiffs who allege they were victims of excessive force and/or false arrest, and seeks restitution for them as well. "This is institutional racism. This is something that we need to dismantle," said Black Lives Matter activist Kofi Ademola at a Wednesday news conference. "We will continue to do everything in our power to make sure that this mayor is held accountable and that CPD no longer has a free pass in killing black people." At a separate news conference Chicago Police Department superintendent Eddie Johnson said the force remains committed to new reforms. "I am making my commitment again today that we will not waver from this path," he said. "As we continue to implement these reforms, we'll make our city safer because we'll have better-trained, better-equipped officers and meaningful partnerships with the community." [DNAinfo Chicago]

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