Good afternoon. It’s Wednesday, and I’ve been watching videos of big cats all day. Here’s what you need to know today.
1. City Council approved a bid to bring a casino to Chicago
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s plan to bring a $1.7 billion casino to Chicago overcame a major hurdle today when the City Council overwhelmingly approved the proposal in a 41-7 vote. He is now heading to the Illinois Gaming Board.
The Lightfoot administration argued that a casino would help bail out the city’s underfunded pensions, long a source of frustration for Chicago taxpayers.
But “the money collected in gambling and amusement taxes will be just a drop in the huge bucket the city must top up each year to pay the pensions of its current and former employees,” report my colleagues Becky Vevea and Mariah Woelfel.
In 2028, when the city expects to raise all of the money the casino is expected to bring in, it will still be about $40 million short of its required pension payment, due to annual increases, according to the principal. city financial officer.
Still, some council members argued that having something is better than having nothing. [WBEZ]
2. Lightfoot’s 10 p.m. citywide curfew for minors passed council despite questions about its effectiveness
City Council also today approved a new curfew plan that was forged in response to the fatal shooting of 16-year-old Seandell Holliday this month in downtown Millennium Park. The vote was 30-19.
Several council members said there was little evidence showing the strict curfew would help reduce gun violence. Even a senior Chicago Police Department official struggled to make the case and did not provide evidence during a hearing last week.
And many critics highlighted this 2018 report of the Marshall Project, which found that “a voluminous body of research has cast serious doubt on claims that juvenile curfew laws prevent victimization or reduce youth crime”.
Now our attention turns to the ACLU of Illinois, which has signaled that it may sue the city over the new curfew. [WBEZ]
3. It’s been 21 weeks into the year and America has already seen 213 mass shootings
That averages about 10 a week, NPR reports, citing figures from Gun Violence Archive, an independent data collection organization.
The data shows that the recent mass shooting at a Texas elementary school and a racist attack at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, are not outliers. And mass shootings occur in the United States with depressing regularity.
We ended 2021 with 693 mass shootings, according to Gun Violence Archive. The previous year had seen 611. And 2019 had 417. [NPR]
Meanwhile, Democrats are again pushing bills aimed at reducing gun violence. But the proposals, like similar ones before them, face long odds in the Senate, where 60 votes are needed to overcome a filibuster. [AP]
Here’s a look at how other countries have responded to mass shootings. [Washington Post]
4. An Overview of Illinois Gun Laws
In the wake of the deadly mass shooting in Texas, my colleague Patrick Smith assessed the current state of gun control in Illinois.
He reports that despite some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, Illinois still allows the purchase of so-called assault rifles.
This includes the AR-15 style gun that was used in the Texas shootout and many more. The weapon has been described by experts as a “very effective killing machine” and lambasted by gun control supporters as a weapon with no purpose other than to slaughter people. [WBEZ]
5. Illinois GOP primary for governor may show just how much support is behind the far right
There were two separate debates last night between the six candidates for the Republican nomination. It kept the two favorites – Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin and State Senator Darren Bailey – to share the same stage.
But the debates offered a split-screen look at the challenges Republicans face in seeking the top job in a blue-leaning state.
On a channel, Irvin tries to work his way moderately friendly to victory. This is why he hesitates on issues that could hurt him in the general election, such as whether he voted for former President Donald Trump. [Sun-Times]
On the other channel, Bailey hopes to energize far-right voters by evoking Trumpism, both in style and substance. For example, Bailey last night described Chicago as a “criminal, corrupt, dysfunctional hellhole”. [Sun-Times]
That said, the GOP primary results might give us the best gauge of support behind the far-right in Illinois and the state’s Republican Party leadership.
Here’s what else is going on
- Inflation is expected to persist next year, according to the Congressional Budget Office. [Washington Post]
- More cyclists are being killed by cars, and Chicago and other cities are trying to do more to address the problem. [NPR]
- Chicago’s ‘Walking Man’ is in critical condition after being attacked last night. [Chicago Tribune]
- Uniformed police will be banned from taking part in a pride parade in suburban Aurora. [WGN]
Oh, and one more thing…
Being an online influencer isn’t just a youngster’s game.
The New York Times looks at so-called great influencers – people over 65 who share “a new vision of what it means to live meaningfully as they age”.
This includes The Old Gays, a group of four friends who started posting on Tik Tok in 2020 and garnered 7.1 million followers. And there’s the more scripted nursing home, which follows six senior influencers as they perform zany stunts.
“I’ve been an actor for 30 years and I’ve done a lot of things,” said Monterey Morrissey of Retirement House. “And here I’m doing 10 seconds on an iPhone, and three and a half million people are watching it.” [NYT]
Tell me something good…
What are some of your favorite restaurants?
Jamie Studenroth writes:
“Mother’s Ruin in Avondale! They take bar food to the absolute next level. Great place to grab some food if you don’t want to commit to a full dinner. Also an amazing late night dining spot + cool bar in general. I had the old bay waffle fries and my friend had the fried red velvet oreos. OK, now I’m hungry.
“My favorite restaurant right now is Etta in Bucktown. Small plates to share and so many different and creative dishes. Save room for dessert! Great atmosphere and great staff.
And Diana writes:
“We just tried Aba for brunch yesterday after hearing nothing but raves, and I’m joining that chorus. There was definitely the feeling of ‘THIS is a lettuce restaurant?!’ With the beautiful decor, top notch service, etc. Not that the lettuce is bad, it definitely feels like an upgrade. Anyway, give it a try!
Feel free to contact me, and your response might be shared in this week’s newsletter.