Alex Nitkin

Alex Nitkin is The Daily Line’s reporter covering Cook County and Chicago land use policy. He came to TDL from The Real Deal Chicago, where he covered Chicago real estate news. He previously worked at DNAinfo, first as a breaking news reporter, and then as a neighborhood reporter covering the city's Northwest Side. Nitkin graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism with a bachelor’s degree.

JUN 18, 2021
Aldermen during an April 2021 City Council meeting. [Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times/pool]

This article was published in collaboration with Block Club Chicago.

CHICAGO — Chicago no longer has aldermen — at least according to a bill signed by Gov. JB Pritzker Thursday.

The bill, which was primarily introduced to expand voting options and move the state’s 2022 primary from March 15 to June 28, also called for the elimination of the term used to describe Chicago City Council members for 184 years. Now, the gender neutral “alderperson” will be used to describe city elected officials in state legislative materials.

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State Adopts ‘Alderperson’ To Describe Chicago City Council Members — But Some Alderpeople Aren’t Thrilled

Aldermen during an April 2021 City Council meeting. [Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times/pool] This art...
JUN 16, 2021
From left: Rosa Escaro, Michael Jacobson and Ald. Raymond Lopez (15) speak during Tuesday’s workforce development committee meeting.

Aldermen on Tuesday unanimously approved two sweeping ordinances meant to help Chicago workers, particularly domestic workers and those in the hotel industry, now that the city has fully reopened. 

Members of the City Council Committee on Workforce Development asked few question about the proposal (O2021-2182) from Mayor Lori Lightfoot designed to protect workers as part of her “Chi Biz Strong Initiative” and offered congratulatory remarks on Ald. Ed Burke’s (14) and Ald. Raymond Lopez’s (15) “Hotel Worker Right to Return to Work" ordinance (O2020-5778).

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Sweeping worker protections ordinance, hotel workers ‘return to work’ measure approved unanimously

From left: Rosa Escareño, Michael Jacobson and Ald. Raymond Lopez (15) speak during Tuesday’s wor...
MAY 26, 2021
Wednesday’s scheduled vote to rename Lake Shore Drive after Jean Baptiste Pointe Du Sable is the culmination of a more than 18-month effort.

The outer portion of Lake Shore Drive would be renamed after Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable if aldermen approve a long-stalled name change Wednesday. And another proposal up for a vote in the City Council would empower the city to shut down “rogue” towing companies operating in the city.

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Renaming of Lake Shore Drive, tougher towing rules set for Council approval

Wednesday’s scheduled vote to rename Lake Shore Drive after Jean Baptiste Pointe Du Sable is the ...
MAY 20, 2021
An aerial view of the 12-acre "North Union" development planned on the Moody Bible Institute campus [Department of Planning and Development]

A decade-long plan to build more than 4,000 new homes along multiple blocks of the Near North Side (O2021-1024) will headline Thursday’s 10 a.m. meeting of the Chicago Plan Commission.

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Mammoth Moody Bible Institute redevelopment set for Plan Commission approval

An aerial view of the 12-acre "North Union" development planned on the Moody Bible Institute camp...
MAY 18, 2021
Members of the Chicago Aldermanic Black Caucus during an October 2019 news conference [Alex Nitkin/The Daily Line]

The City Council’s Aldermanic Black Caucus voted to endorse the Empowering Communities for Public Safety Ordinance, adding a powerful tailwind to the civilian police oversight plan as Mayor Lori Lightfoot prepares to release her long-awaited counterproposal.

 

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Black Caucus endorses police oversight ordinance: ‘the direction residents want’

Members of the Chicago Aldermanic Black Caucus during an October 2019 news conference [Alex Nitki...
APR 30, 2021

Chicago health officials released more details of a city reopening plan. The Civilian Office of Police Accountability wraps its investigation of the Anjanette Young police raid. And Cook County Health officials detail plans to get food service workers vaccinated.

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News in brief: Chicago loosens COVID restrictions; COPA wraps probe of Anjanette Young raid; Cook County plans vaccination ‘Restaurant Day’

Chicago health officials released more details of a city reopening plan. The Civilian Office of P...
APR 21, 2021

News in brief: Discover opening call center in shuttered Chatham Target store; Commission takes step to landmark Morton Salt shed

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TDL Chicago Morning Briefs: March 05

News in brief: Discover opening call center in shuttered Chatham Target store; Commission takes s...
APR 21, 2021

Mayor Lori Lightfoot defended her request to call up the National Guard and issued a warning to would-be looters. And Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle hit back at Lightfoot after the mayor blamed the county courts for contributing to crime.

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News in brief: Lightfoot says Illinois National Guard ‘on standby’; Preckwinkle hits back at Lightfoot on crime

Mayor Lori Lightfoot defended her request to call up the National Guard and issued a warning to w...
APR 15, 2021
A rendering of the first building proposed as part of the planned Lincoln Yards megadevelopment, viewed from the west. [Chicago Department of Planning and Development]

City planning officials are scheduled on Thursday to review plans for the first phase of construction at the 55-acre Lincoln Yards site, two years after the City Council blessed the overall project amid a storm of controversy and criticism.

Representatives of developer Sterling Bay will make a “courtesy presentation" to the Chicago Plan Commission during a 10 p.m. meeting on their plan to build a 9-story office building on “Parcel G.1” of the campus, but the commission will not take a vote on the matter. Department of Planning and Development staffers will decide whether to approve the sub-site plan after taking “comments from plan commissioners and the public into consideration,” a department spokesperson wrote in an email on Tuesday.

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Office building planned as first phase of Lincoln Yards set for review by Plan Commission

A rendering of the first building proposed as part of the planned Lincoln Yards megadevelopment, ...
APR 09, 2021

News in brief: Aldermen approve ordinance protecting Chicago’s 16 ‘traditional parades;’ Arwady: ‘Big drop’ in vaccine doses driven by ‘spoiled’ Johnson & Johnson batch   

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JUN 18, 2021
Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Comm. Rosa Escareño [left] and Ald. Brian Hopkins (2) during a committee meeting on Thursday

A City Council committee voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to advance a sweeping business deregulation package (O2021-2183) designed to speed the city’s pandemic recovery, setting up a major policy win for Mayor Lori Lightfoot over the objections of aldermen who fear one provision will usurp their ward-level authority.

Aldermen on the council’s Committee on License and Consumer Protection voted 15-3 to advance the 93-page “Chi Biz Strong” business relief package, teeing it up for final approval by the City Council next Wednesday. The ordinance’s 10 sections and dozens of subsections unspool or re-tool city rules around a wide range of businesses, including restaurants, taxis, and hotels. Also attached is a resolution supporting a future $10 million direct aid initiative and debt relief program for businesses.

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Aldermen advance business relief package, accepting blow to ‘aldermanic authority’

Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Comm. Rosa Escareño [left] and Ald...
JUN 17, 2021
Ald. Raymond Lopez (15) challenged the city’s timeline for upgrading its technology during a committee hearing on Wednesday.

Chicago leaders should spend at least $350 million during the next decade to update the city’s outdated apps, retrain and reshuffle its information technology staff and make a host of other tech improvements, a consultant told aldermen Wednesday after conducting a months-long study. The alternative would mean wasting increasing amounts of taxpayer money.

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Nearly half of city-used software in ‘poor condition,’ should be updated or replaced: consultant

Ald. Raymond Lopez (15) challenged the city’s timeline for upgrading its technology during a comm...
JUN 17, 2021
A-frame signs like this one in Andersonville would be formally legalized under a sweeping business relief ordinance set for consideration Thursday. [Alex Nitkin/The Daily Line]

Mayor Lori Lightfoot is hauling her 95-page hodgepodge of business deregulation proposals to a City Council committee on Thursday in a bet that the sweeping business relief package can overcome grumblings from some aldermen over its size and reach.

Lightfoot is scheduled to introduce an updated version of her “Chi Biz Strong” ordinance (O2021-2183) directly to the City Council Committee on License and Consumer Protection during its 10 a.m. meeting on Thursday. The direct introduction will allow the mayor to bypass Ald. Raymond Lopez’s (15) move to sidetrack the ordinance to the council’s Committee on Committees and Rules last month.

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‘Giant burrito’ of business deregulation measures set to face City Council test

A-frame signs like this one in Andersonville would be formally legalized under a sweeping busines...
JUN 16, 2021
Ald. Jason Ervin (28) said during a Tuesday hearing that a new roller rink will “serve as a deterrent” to illegal drug trafficking on a busy West Garfield Park corridor.

City and state officials are hoping a new roller skating rink can succeed where hundreds of arrests have failed to break up an open-air drug market in one of the West Side’s busiest commercial districts.

The City Council Committee on Housing and Real Estate voted unanimously during its meeting on Tuesday to let the Chicago Park District build a public roller rink on a 17,500-square-foot city-owned parking lot at 4004-12 W. Madison St., a strip Ald. Jason Ervin (28) called a “very challenged area” of West Garfield Park.

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West Garfield Park roller rink set to put state cannabis program to the test

Ald. Jason Ervin (28) said during a Tuesday hearing that a new roller rink will “serve as a deter...
JUN 16, 2021
Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36) during the April 2021 city Council meeting [Ashlee Rezin-Garcia/Sun-Times/pool]

City leaders should reverse their 2019 decision to merge the city’s facilities and information technology departments if they want to get serious about upgrading the city’s tech infrastructure, a key alderman said on Tuesday.

“There needs to be a centralized clearing house for technology,” Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36), who chairs the City Council Committee on Economic, Capital and Technology Development, told The Daily Line on Tuesday. He said he plans to raise the issue as Chicago finance officials prepare the city’s 2022 budget.

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Bring back standalone city IT department, technology committee chair says

Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36) during the April 2021 city Council meeting [Ashlee Rezin-Garcia/Sun-Ti...
JUN 15, 2021

Aldermen advanced a measure to expedite fire code enforcement at the city’s airports. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she supports making Juneteenth an official city holiday, and she once again called on state lawmakers to pause their push to create an elected Chicago school board. And the Cook County Democratic Party’s semi-annual slating session, usually a summer affair, will take place in August this year.

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JUN 15, 2021
City transportation officials plan early next year to rebuild the Division Street bridges over the Chicago River North Branch and North Branch Canal. [danxoneil on Flickr] 

Aldermen are set on Tuesday to clear the way for a mile-long streetscape makeover on the Near North Side and a new publicly accessible roller rink in West Garfield Park, among other measures. 

The City Council Committee on Housing and Real Estate is scheduled during its 10 a.m. meeting Tuesday to consider an ordinance (O2021-2179) pushing forward the city’s long-running plan to rebuild both bridges and widen a nearly mile-long stretch of Division Street between Larrabee Street and the Kennedy Expressway. 

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Division Street reconstruction, Garfield Park roller rink top housing committee agenda

City transportation officials plan early next year to rebuild the Division Street bridges over th...
JUN 14, 2021
Rep. Will Davis (D-Homewood) (left) and Rep. Michael Zalewski (D-Riverside) [Facebook]

A long-debated push by Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi to compel extra financial data from large property owners hit a wall in Springfield last month, as supporters failed to bridge their differences with a coalition of powerful business groups. 

But after a dizzying flurry of negotiations left both sides more embittered than ever, some key legislators say their patience for compromise is wearing thin. Following three consecutive failed attempts at pushing the bill to the finish line, House Revenue and Finance Committee chair Rep. Michael Zalewski (D-Riverside) said the opponents won’t be able to keep it bottled up forever.

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After Kaegi’s ‘data modernization’ bill flops again, lawmakers consider bypassing opposition

Rep. Will Davis (D-Homewood) (left) and Rep. Michael Zalewski (D-Riverside) [Facebook] A long-deb...
JUN 11, 2021
Ald. Daniel La Spata (1) (left) and ComEd president Terry Donnelly during a hearing on Thursday

Chicago would be hard-pressed to find a new electric utility provider that can match the reliability, responsibility and affordability of Commonwealth Edison, leaders of the company argued during a three-hour hearing on Thursday.

But the company needs to step up its commitments if it wants to keep its monopoly over the city’s electric grid, aldermen said.

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ComEd ‘committed’ to reaching new franchise deal, but Lightfoot’s demands remain unanswered

Ald. Daniel La Spata (1) (left) and ComEd president Terry Donnelly during a hearing on Thursday C...
JUN 10, 2021
More than a dozen top executives from ComEd are expected to be on hand for a subject matter hearing set to discuss the company’s relationship with Chicago on Thursday. [Facebook/ComEd]

Representatives of Commonwealth Edison are set to withstand a grilling from aldermen during a wide-ranging hearing on Thursday as the utility giant vies to remain the city’s sole provider of electricity.

The City Council Committee on Environmental Protection and Energy is scheduled to host a subject matter at 10 a.m. Thursday to discuss ComEd’s “annual franchise report” and the company’s “summer preparedness” plans. The franchise report has not been publicly released.

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Aldermen set to grill ComEd execs as franchise negotiations heat up

More than a dozen top executives from ComEd are expected to be on hand for a subject matter hear...
JUN 10, 2021
Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi appears on track to break free of a 12-year-old federal monitor, spurring allegations from Clerk Karen Yarbrough’s office of preferential treatment.

Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi’s office could be on track to shake loose a federal hiring monitor that’s dogged the office for nearly a decade, a potential breakthrough that could give Kaegi a boost ahead of a grueling reelection campaign. 

But a separate monitor spurred by attorney Michael Shakman’s 52-year-old anti-patronage lawsuit shows no signs of leaving county Clark Karen Yarbrough’s office, which came under the shadow of federal oversight last year. And a senior official in Yarbrough’s office is calling the purpose of the Shakman probe into question, saying the lawsuit has created a “cottage industry” for lawyers to squeeze money from county taxpayers. 

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Kaegi set to break free of Shakman as Yarbrough’s office cries foul over lingering probe

Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi appears on track to break free of a 12-year-old federal monitor,...
JUN 09, 2021

Two tax-increment financing districts are being lined up for extensions as dozens of others are on track to expire. And aldermen on Wednesday will consider launching a new city phone app.

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News in brief: TIF districts poised for extension, ‘My Chi My Future’ app set for approval

Two tax-increment financing districts are being lined up for extensions as dozens of others are o...
JUN 08, 2021
Chicago Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin speaks during her “State of the Chicago Treasurer’s Office” address on Monday.

Chicago Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin wants to widen the city’s investment pool to include an array of smaller-community-based banks as part of an effort to juice loans in neighborhoods that have been overlooked by national banks, she said Monday. 

Making it easier for small banks to hold city assets is one outcome Conyears-Ervin hopes to draw from a forthcoming “municipal depositories task force,” she told The Daily Line in advance of a “State of the Chicago Treasurer’s Office” address Monday morning. The treasurer earlier this year said the task force, which would include Comptroller Reshma Sonni and members of the City Council, could devise strategies to upend entrenched patterns of systemic racism in the baking industry. 

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Investing more of city’s money with small banks could help fight racist lending: Conyears-Ervin

Chicago Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin speaks during her “State of the Chicago Treasurer’s Offi...
JUN 04, 2021
From left: Ald. Howard Brookins (21), Chicago Department of Transportation Comm. Gia Biagi and Ald. Michele Smith (43) during a hearing on e-scooters on Thursday

Representatives of e-scooter companies argued on Thursday that a permanent citywide scooter program would ease car traffic, reduce pollution, open new transit options and add a much-needed new stream of revenue for the city. 

But many aldermen aren’t so sure. 

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Aldermen skeptical of e-scooters as officials look to build them into permanent citywide network

From left: Ald. Howard Brookins (21), Chicago Department of Transportation Comm. Gia Biagi and Al...