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Halfway through her first term, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is addressing what she says is a lack of diversity in the media.
The city’s first Black female mayor says that’s why she decided to only grant one-on-one interviews marking her first two years in office with journalists of color.
“I ran to break up the status quo that was failing so many,” Lightfoot said on Twitter. “That isn’t just in City Hall. It’s a shame that in 2021, the City Hall press corps is overwhelmingly White in a city where more than half of the city identifies as Black, Latino, AAPI or Native American.”
Her calls for equity are drawing some cheers, while others question the fairness of granting interviews based on race.
It should be noted that politicians frequently pick and choose which reporters they’ll grant exclusive interviews and representatives for governors and mayors also frequently shop around ideas for news stories.
Former Illinois Lt. Gov. Corinne Wood, who made history in 1999 when she became the first woman to hold the office, has died. She was seen as a moderate Republican to then-Gov. George Ryan’s more conservative politics. More on her career below.
Meantime Downstate U.S. Rep. Mary Miller, the east-central Illinois congresswoman who just days after she was sworn in apologized for invoking Adolf Hitler during a speech, is making waves again. She joined a group of Republicans who decided to defy mask rules on the U.S. House floor yesterday. For that, she was hit with a warning by the chamber’s sergeant-at-arms.
And former President Donald Trump can’t quit hammering Chicago. His recent criticism came as he bashed a proposal in Congress to form a bipartisan commission to review the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection, which the former president is accused of egging on.
Trump called it “more partisan unfairness” and said the panel should expand its reach to examine the fallout from the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd last year, which sparked protests and some unrest over white law enforcement officers killing Black men.
“Unless the murders, riots, and fire bombings in Portland, Minneapolis, Seattle, Chicago, and New York are also going to be studied, this discussion should be ended immediately,” Trump said in a statement issued via his Save America political action committee.
Illinois U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Channahon Republican, says he’ll vote in favor of creating the commission. He’s one of 10 GOP lawmakers who joined Democrats in a vote to impeach Trump after the insurrection.
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Illinois U.S. Rep. Mary Miller given warning as group of congressional Republicans defy House mask rules
Several GOP lawmakers on Tuesday defied mask rules on the U.S. House floor, according to The Associated Press, The Hill and Politico. They’re protesting that the chamber’s orders haven’t been amended in the wake of new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance that states those fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can skip face coverings in most settings.
Three were hit with fines and seven others, including U.S. Rep. Mary Miller of Downstate Oakland, were given first-offense warnings, The Hill notes.
From Politico: “Around a dozen Republicans refused to wear masks during the evening vote series and strategically stood at the well of the chamber, which appears on the C-SPAN cameras, and seemed to encourage other members to join in.”
Miller’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
But the first-term lawmaker posted a photo on Twitter with some of her Republican colleagues, including Georgia U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, with the comment “Enough is Enough! #FreeYourFace.”
Greene posted the same photo and hashtag on Twitter with the comment “Masks are oppressive and nothing but a political tool. End the oppression!”
U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly steps in: The Matteson Democrat and Illinois Democratic Party chair confronted the group “and asked them to be more respectful of other members and staff,” Politico notes.
Side note: Many state and local governments are amending their rules to line up with the CDC’s more relaxed masking rules for those fully vaccinated. But in Chicago and other places, officials are calling for government workers and members of the public to don a mask in city buildings.
On Lightfoot and the media
WBEZ-91.5 FM reporter Becky Vevea writes, “On the two-year anniversary of her inauguration, as her record of accomplishments and failures comes under heightened scrutiny, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot took newsrooms to task for their lack of diversity, her latest complaint about the city’s media coverage.
“In tweets and in a letter to City Hall reporters, Lightfoot said she would be ‘exclusively providing one-on-one interviews with journalists of color’ to mark the end of two years as mayor. She said she was doing so to highlight long-standing disparity in the racial representation of newsrooms.
Lightfoot wrote in part: “I have been struck since my first day on the campaign trail back in 2018 by the overwhelming whiteness and maleness of Chicago media outlets, editorial boards, the political press corps, and yes, the City Hall press corps specifically.” More here.
*Lightfoot agrees to officer misconduct database, but watchdog rips plan; mayor’s civilian police oversight plan could come this week, the Tribune’s John Byrne reports.
Chicago aldermen look to crack down on problem tow truck operators with licensing plan. Byrne’s on that story, too.
*As family of Eric Crawford, the 13-year-old slain while riding his bike, pleads for information, local alderman says the killing “tears me up.” Chicago Ald. George Cardenas, whose ward includes the stretch of McKinley Park where the shooting occurred Sunday morning, called Eric a good kid and the loss a tragedy, the Tribune’s Sarah Freishtat and Paige Fry report.
Authorities said the drive-by shooting was gang related, but Cardenas said there was no reason to believe the boy was affiliated with a gang, saying “I mean he was a young boy, Jesus. I wish things could’ve been different. For me, it tears me up. There’s always an urgency of how to stop this. Sometimes, you get deflated because it’s tough. You think about how you could do more.” More here.
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Clout-heavy scrap shredder sues Chicago for reneging on deal to fast-track opening on the heavily polluted Southeast Side
From the Tribune’s Michael Hawthorne: “A clout-heavy scrap dealer is suing the city for more than $100 million, accusing Mayor Lori Lightfoot of reneging on a deal to fast-track a new metals shredder in one of Chicago’s most polluted neighborhoods.
“The lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court, urges a judge to order Lightfoot’s administration to award a permit Ohio-based Reserve Management Group needs to begin chopping up junked automobiles, used appliances and other metallic waste along the Calumet River near 116th Street and Avenue O.
“Lightfoot delayed a decision about the permit this month after Michael Regan, the new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator, raised concerns about locating another polluter in a heavily industrialized neighborhood where people already breathe some of the city’s dirtiest air.” More here.
Corinne Wood, Illinois’ first female lieutenant governor, dead at 66
The Tribune’s Rick Pearson writes: “As Corinne Wood campaigned to become Illinois’ first female lieutenant governor on the 1998 Republican ticket with George Ryan, her gender and moderate social views were seen as critical toward balancing Ryan’s conservative image.
“She also was dealing with her recovery from breast cancer surgery. Donning a wig to counter the effects of chemotherapy treatments that made her hair fall out in 1997, Wood took to the campaign trail and dutifully visited each of the state’s 102 counties. Once in office, she was the force behind an income-tax checkoff for breast cancer research.
“Wood, 66, of Lake Forest, died Tuesday of complications related to metastatic breast cancer, which resurfaced 15 years ago, her family said.” Read the full story here.
Preckwinkle, local governments push for state to restore local governments share of income tax revenues
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and suburban lawmakers are asking the legislature to restore local governments’ share of income tax revenues to previous levels, arguing the money pays for essential services ranging from police and fire to flood prevention.
Known as the Local Government Distributive Fund, it was implemented in 1969 and municipalities initially received 8% of all state income tax collections, according to the Illinois Municipal League.
The municipal share of the state income tax increased to 10% of total collections in 1995 and was cut in 2011 to 6% as part of the temporary income tax increase. The share was increased to 8% in 2015 and now hovers in the 6% to 7% range, according to the Illinois Department of Revenue.
Mayors, politicians salute Calvin Jordan as he becomes Rich Township supervisor, the Daily Southtown’s Ted Slowik reports. Gov. Pritzker and Secretary of State Jesse White endorsed Jordan in the race, while U.S. Rep. Kelly endorsed incumbent Al Riley, who remains a party committeeman on the state central committee. More here.
Will County executive proposes reducing size of county board in redistricting plan, sparking partisan spat: Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, a Democrat, wants to redraw the county board’s district boundaries to both reduce the number of board members and create single-member districts, Michelle Mullins writes for the Daily Southtown.
“But board Minority Leader Mike Fricilone, a Republican from Homer Glen, said the current system where two board members are elected from each of 13 districts, has worked well” and that the regular shift in power between Democrats and Republicans proves it, Mullins writes. More here.
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