The Tour: An ideological battle for City Hall

Hello! Thank you for reading this week’s newsletter. I know the news isn’t always good, but I hope sometimes you feel like you’re sitting in the back of the classroom with me, telling jokes when the teacher isn’t looking. This is what you need to know today.

1. A battle between Chicago progressives and moderates could soon get underway

The upcoming municipal elections could give us an idea of ​​how far left-wing areas of Chicago are moving. Several self-styled progressive groups, like United Working Families, hope to increase the number of City Council members who align with their priorities.

At the same time, a business-focused group called Get Stuff Done PAC is raising big money to promote more moderate candidates.

The group ended last year with more than $447,000 in the bank and is expected to announce today that it has raised another $700,000, reports Crain’s business in Chicago.

The Get Stuff Done PAC has yet to say who it will endorse. But Crain’s reports that he will likely endorse incumbent council members Nicole Lee, 11th Ward, and Anabel Abarca, 12th.

The group is also expected to work against Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez, who represents District 25 and is a member of the council’s Socialist Caucus, Crain’s reports. And the group may be backing someone against Nick Ward, who is endorsed by the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America in the tight race for the 48th district. [Crain’s]

2. ‘The council had been drifting a bit to the left of center’

So overall, how many council races could be influenced by this ideological struggle?

My colleague Fran Spielman at the Chicago Sun Times reports that 39 of Chicago’s 50 boroughs have run races.

“The council had been drifting a bit to the left of center. I suppose it will be a little more. That seems to be the culture of the city right now,” said the outgoing Ald. Tom Tunney, who added that he will take an “active role in trying to make sure that the board and the next administration respect the business community.”

Spielman also mentions another stake in this election: whether Chicago will get “another rubber stamp council or end the strong council, weak mayor form of government outlined in its municipal code.” [Chicago Sun-Times]

3. Pandemic relief loan groups went to the same Chicago addresses, including homeless shelters.

That is according to a Chicago Sun Times investigation of federal Paycheck Protection Program loans, which were created to help keep businesses afloat during the pandemic.

But there is mounting evidence of widespread fraud in the $800 billion program.

The federal government “sent $1.4 million in pandemic relief checks to a single address just a few blocks north of Garfield Park, a major red flag that should have drawn scrutiny from the lenders who approved them,” the experts said. to the newspaper.

Most of the shady loans were approved by “fintech,” or financial technology that faces less stringent regulation than traditional banks.

He sun-times reports that criminals “also cashed in on the bonanza. Sources say Chicago gang members received checks to buy weapons, which is believed to have been a contributing factor in the city’s explosion of violence during the pandemic. [Chicago Sun-Times]

4. Blood donation restrictions for gay and bisexual men could be relaxed

The Food and Drug Administration today proposed easing restrictions on blood donations from men who have sex with men.

The draft guidelines, if finalized, would remove the current three-month abstinence requirement. Instead, potential donors would be screened through a questionnaire that assesses their individual risks of contracting HIV, NPR reports.

But, and this is important, anyone taking HIV prevention medications like PrEP would not be eligible.

LGBTQ rights organizations have long opposed restrictions on who can donate blood, saying it discriminates against gay and bisexual men. These policies date back to the AIDS epidemic and were designed to protect the nation’s blood supply against HIV. [NPR]

5. The best doctor in Chicago is still standing

Fatigued public health leaders across the country have left their posts in droves, driven out by political frustrations, long days and nights, and public pushback as the COVID-19 pandemic has raged.

But not Dr. Allison Arwady, who was confirmed as Chicago’s public health commissioner nine days before the city confirmed its first coronavirus case, reports my colleague Courtney Kueppers.

Now, Arwady is focused on what’s next now that the pandemic isn’t demanding her 24/7 attention.

“It is not the time of the pandemic anymore, but it is the next part that will prepare us for the next 20 years,” says Arwady, nodding to the public health agenda that he is finally developing. “I’ve never been one to run away from a fight.” [WBEZ]

This is what is happening

  • Video is expected to be released today showing five Memphis police officers beating a black man whose death led to murder charges. [NPR]
  • The death of a migrant in the Chicago area highlights the mental health challenges that asylum seekers could face. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • Governor JB Pritzker made several endorsements in the Chicago City Council races. [NBC5]
  • Alamo Drafthouse opened its first movie theater in Chicago, which pays tribute to John Hughes. [Block Club Chicago]

Ah, one more thing …

The deteriorating conditions of the Chicago Transit Authority were a big problem for many people who responded to WBEZ’s People’s Agenda survey, a tool launched by the station to help guide our coverage of the city’s upcoming elections.

Crime and public safety were, unsurprisingly, the main theme. But nearly a third of those surveyed said making the CTA safer, cleaner, and more reliable was their top problem. [WBEZ]

Earlier this month, WBEZ heard from CTA riders on what’s really bothering them, with the startling headline “Everyone’s Late and Everything Smells Like Weed: What Nearly 2,000 CTA Riders Told Us.” [WBEZ]

That resulted in one of my all-time favorite Reddit comments on a WBEZ story: “I’m down to amuse you, but damn, switch to gummies if you’re getting high while running errands.” [Reddit]

Tell me something Good …

What is one small thing that gives you joy?

Shelagh writes:

“My little thing for today, actually two little things, are my cats, one of which is staring at the bird feeders I have strategically placed in the tree just outside my picture window, and the other purring in my lap how i write this

And Irving writes:

“Over the past few years, I’ve come across a lot of coyotes: on Midway in Hyde Park, sitting on the riverbank in front of California Park, and my favorite: running down the road during the Lincolnwood Turkey Trot in November.

“They were not intentionally reintroduced here, they are native to this area who found their way back. It’s a kind of toughness and beauty that I think we should celebrate as very Chicago. Every time I see one, it makes me happy.

“And the rat’s enemy is my friend.”

Thanks for all the responses this week. I’m sorry I couldn’t share them all, but it was nice to hear.