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.

MAY 09, 2022
Supporters of the People’s Coalition Map, left, and the Chicago United Map speak during different news conferences. [Alex Nitkin/Erin Hegarty/The Daily Line]

Enough aldermen struck a tentative compromise on Monday over a new ward map to avoid tossing the issue to voters in the June 28 primary.

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11th-hour remap deal emerges with 41-plus votes, dimming threat of referendum

Supporters of the People’s Coalition Map, left, and the Chicago United Map speak during different...
APR 11, 2022

WBEZ, Crain’s Chicago Business and The Daily Line analyzed publicly available attendance records for 519 City Council meetings and committee meetings that occurred between May 2019 and December 2021 and found that Chicago aldermen attended an average of about 86% of the meetings required of them.

You can look up your alderman’s meeting attendance rate using our tool below.

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We ranked City Council members by meeting attendance. Check your alderman’s score.

WBEZ, Crain’s Chicago Business and The Daily Line analyzed publicly available attendance records ...
MAR 24, 2022
O'Hare International Airport [Facebook]

This article first published in Block Club Chicago.

A tollway will be built along the west edge of O’Hare Airport, making it faster to get to the airport from the suburbs.

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A ‘back door’ to O’Hare Airport is coming after City Council approves new west tollway

O'Hare International Airport [Facebook] This article first published in Block Club Chicago. A tol...
MAR 22, 2022

A City Council committee on Monday approved the extension of a tax incentive for a Beverly medical office building. The next 11th Ward alderman is due for approval in committee on Tuesday. And city leaders kicked off a new tourism campaign to welcome travelers back to Chicago airports.

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News in brief: Tax incentive approved for Beverly medical office; 11th Ward appointment stalls; Airports launches new tourism campaign

A City Council committee on Monday approved the extension of a tax incentive for a Beverly medica...
FEB 16, 2022

Chicago is still likely on track to lose its mask mandate at the end of February, the city’s top doctor said. A key City Council committee on Tuesday approved a property tax incentive for Siegal Steel in Brighton Park. And the council’s budget committee will approve receipt of an untold number of grant funds on Wednesday. 

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News in brief: Arwady ‘would expect’ city to follow state on mask mandate; Committee approves tax incentive for Siegal Steel in Brighton Park

Chicago is still likely on track to lose its mask mandate at the end of February, the city’s top ...
JAN 06, 2022
Ald. Michelle Harris (8) held a news conference in December with supporters of the ward map proposed by the City Council Committee on Committees and Rules. [Erin Hegarty/The Daily Line]

Public discussion on the once-a-decade remap of Chicago’s 50 wards is set to resume Friday during the year’s first public hearing on the topic, testing a new strategy by the City Council Latino Caucus that aims to shake loose a months-long stalemate on the topic. 

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Aldermen set to resume public ward remap discussion amid clash over negotiation rules

Ald. Michelle Harris (8) held a news conference in December with supporters of the ward map prop...
DEC 13, 2021

Aldermen are set on Tuesday to rescue two proposals form the City Council Committee on Committees and Rules. The City Council Committee on Ethics and Government Oversight is scheduled Tuesday to confirm a new member of the Chicago Board of Ethics. And the council’s economic development committee dropped a disputed tax break proposal. 

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News in brief: Study on buying Bears to be rescued from rules committee; aldermen to confirm new ethics board member; tax break scrubbed

Aldermen are set on Tuesday to rescue two proposals form the City Council Committee on Committees...
DEC 12, 2021

Residents from Chicago’s 11th and 25th wards dominated public comment on the city’s ward remap Friday, urging aldermen to keep their communities intact. And a key City Council committee approved two new appointments to the Police Board. And aldermen are set to make another attempt at passing an ordinance to legalize stadium-based sports betting in Chicago. 

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News in brief: Canaryville, Barbara Jean Wright residents weigh in on ward remap; Police Board appointees get initial OK; Sports betting up again

Residents from Chicago’s 11th and 25th wards dominated public comment on the city’s ward remap Fr...
DEC 10, 2021

Aldermen green-lit the extension of a popular outdoor seating permitting program. Members of the City Council Committee on Public Safety are set to consider the appointments of two new members to the Chicago Police Board. The council’s budget committee is set to reconvene to consider an ordinance giving emergency powers to the chief procurement officer. And a final 2021 public hearing on the ward remap is set for Friday. 

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DEC 07, 2021
Megan Mathias, candidate for 45th Ward alderman, speaks to constituents as a few dozen residents gathered outside Ald. Jim Gardiner's (45) office Sept. 13, 2021, demanding that he resign amid recent scandals.

The proposed ward map unveiled last week by a City Council committee would draw out the only declared challenger to embattled Ald. Jim Gardiner (45).

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Gardiner’s challenger would be booted from 45th Ward in City Council’s proposed remap

Megan Mathias, candidate for 45th Ward alderman, speaks to constituents as a few dozen residents ...
JUN 24, 2022
Clockwise from top-left: Luis Arroyo Jr., Anthony Quezada, Natalie Toro, Rory McHale and Edwin Reyes are vying to represent the 8th District on the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

Cook County Board of Commissioners’ races often nab little public attention from voters. The 17 members on the county board don’t administer services or approve new real estate developments like aldermen do, and they don’t get to negotiate torrents of capital spending and navigate landmark legislation like state legislators.

But in an especially low-profile year, when just three Democrats and one Republican on the board are facing challengers from their own parties, Comm. Luis Arroyo, Jr. has attracted four primary challengers — more than all his colleagues combined. The challengers vary widely, but they agree Arroyo has failed in his role on the board responsible for setting the $8 billion budget that funds the county’s courts, jail, two public hospitals, tax collection offices and more.

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Arroyo Jr. faces army of primary challengers after father’s conviction: ‘They smell blood in the water’

Clockwise from top-left: Luis Arroyo Jr., Anthony Quezada, Natalie Toro, Rory McHale and Edwin Re...
JUN 23, 2022
Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6) spoke during a pair of back-to-back news conferences introducing new public safety proposals Wednesday morning. [Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago]

Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6) and a handful of his City Council allies are pushing to reshuffle tens of millions of dollars into a new regime of public safety programs that emphasize non-police community outreach, saying existing structures have failed to tamp down violence.

The proposals were among more than a dozen new citywide ordinances and resolutions introduced to the City Council on Wednesday, including Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s long-awaited “Connecting Communities Ordinance” to boost development near transit. They come as the city braces for a surge of summer violence, and less than a month after Sawyer announced a run for mayor.

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Sawyer pushes public safety ordinances amid summer violence: ‘We want long-term solutions’

Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6) spoke during a pair of back-to-back news conferences introducing new pub...
JUN 23, 2022
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle rolled out her preliminary budget projection for 2023 on Wednesday. [The Daily Line/Alex Nitkin]

Just two years after Cook County leaders faced their most dire budget gap in a decade, the county is poised to cruise into budget season with nearly a $263 million year-end surplus and its smallest projected shortfall in more than a decade, they announced Wednesday.

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Cook County boasts $263M year-end surplus, $18M preliminary gap as budgetmakers brace for recession

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle rolled out her preliminary budget projection for 202...
JUN 22, 2022
From left: Ald. Maria Hadden (49), Chicago Department of Buildings Comm. Matthew Beaudet and Ald. Brian Hopkins (2) speak during a meeting of the City Council zoning committee on Tuesday.

Apartment building owners will face a wave of new cooling requirements under an ordinance advanced on Tuesday with the goal of preventing the kinds of excessive indoor heat that saw three elderly Rogers Park women die in their apartments last month. While the proposal faced headwinds in committee, it passed with unanimous support after its sponsor agreed to keep negotiating on its most controversial provision.

The ordinance (O2022-1753), a collaboration between Ald. Maria Hadden (49) and the Chicago Department of Buildings, was the only citywide measure among dozens of other zoning proposals that earned the unanimous endorsement of the City Council Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards on Tuesday. They included a major adaptive reuse project in Austin and the latest proposed addition to Fulton Market’s growing skyline.

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Cooling requirements clear committee after Hadden agrees to put heating schedule rules on ice

From left: Ald. Maria Hadden (49), Chicago Department of Buildings Comm. Matthew Beaudet and Ald....
JUN 17, 2022
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle presides over a meeting of the Board of Commissioners on Thursday. [The Daily Line/Alex Nitkin]

Thousands of local governments across Cook County will likely have to bear the financial headache of waiting until 2023 to reap all the property taxes they’re owed this year, county Board President Toni Preckwinkle acknowledged on Thursday.

She made the pronouncement hours after the county’s Board of Commissioners pushed forward the county’s marathon slog to modernize its tax collection technology, and one day after a fired senior official at the county’s Board of Review threw new fuel into the frenzied debate over who is to blame for the delay.

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County will work to ‘mitigate’ impact of late tax bills on local governments, Preckwinkle says

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle presides over a meeting of the Board of Commissioner...
JUN 16, 2022
Spouses of first responders who die by suicide or drug overdose will be eligible for city death benefits under an ordinance set for a vote on Thursday.

A proposal to repeal a controversial speed camera crackdown is finally set to meet its fate on Thursday, potentially burying the protest ordinance for good after months of delays.

Ald. Anthony Beale’s (9) ordinance (O2021-1227) to repeal the city’s 2021 rule allowing speed cameras to fine drivers who exceed the speed limit by 6 mph near schools and parks is one of more than a dozen items set to come before a 10 a.m. meeting of the City Council Committee on Finance on Thursday. The committee is also scheduled to take up an alderman’s proposal to expand death benefits for the spouses of fallen police officers, create the city’s first new tax-increment financing (TIF) district of the Mayor Lori Lightfoot era, approve nearly $40 million in new TIF funding for CTA infrastructure projects and more.

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Speed camera repeal, police suicide family benefits, LeClaire Courts TIF District to come up for votes

Spouses of first responders who die by suicide or drug overdose will be eligible for city death b...
JUN 16, 2022
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is set to roll out a gush of new federally backed funding for anti-violence and other programming.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is set to roll out about $20.8 million in new federally backed funding for anti-violence intervention programs among a host of new American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) initiatives as the county faces mounting threats to public safety and economic stability.

Commissioners are scheduled to fast-track the approval of five separate new spending initiatives during Thursday’s 10 a.m. meeting of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. The board is also scheduled during the meeting to approve dozens of other measures, including the adoption of the county’s new flag design, the appointment of a new public health director and a half-dozen new commercial property tax breaks.

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County leaders tee up $21M in anti-violence funding as courts face mounting pressure over gun violence

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is set to roll out a gush of new federally backed fu...
JUN 16, 2022
From left: Matt Podgorski, Frank Coconate and Mark Hosty are competing in the Republican primary to succeed retiring Comm. Peter Silvestri (R-9) on the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

Cook County Comm. Peter Silvestri (R-9) shocked the Chicago political world in January when he announced he would not run for an eighth term on the county’s Board of Commissioners, where his unique brand of centrism earned him deep popularity among his constituents and colleagues.

His announcement also sent a stampede of candidates into the open race for one of the only remaining Republican-controlled seats in Cook County government.

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NW Side Republicans vie to pick up Silvestri’s moderate mantle on Cook County Board

From left: Matt Podgorski, Frank Coconate and Mark Hosty are competing in the Republican primary ...
JUN 15, 2022
Ald. Derrick Curtis (18) advertised a campaign kickoff event he hosted for Mayor Lori Lightfoot in his June 2 ward newsletter. [18th Ward]

Ald. Derrick Curtis (18) could be on the hook for at least a $5,000 fine over an apparent violation of city ethics rules surrounding a campaign kickoff event he hosted for Mayor Lori Lightfoot last week, the Chicago Board of Ethics ruled on Monday.

The ethics board also opted to give Ald. Nicholas Sposato (38) a chance to escape a similar fine for mixing political and government messaging. And board leaders called on the mayor and City Council to put the gas on a proposed amendment to the city’s ethics ordinance that has been stuck in legislative purgatory since April.

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Curtis violated ethics rules at Lightfoot campaign kickoff, Board of Ethics finds

Ald. Derrick Curtis (18) advertised a campaign kickoff event he hosted for Mayor Lori Lightfoot i...
JUN 14, 2022
Ald. Brian Hopkins (2) has urged his colleagues to support a tax break for the lab building at 2017 N. Mendell St. over the objections of city planning officials. [Baker Development Corporation]

A disputed plan to offer a tax break for a burgeoning pharmaceutical lab overlooking the Chicago River North Branch is set to resurface on Tuesday, six months after it ran into resistance from city planning officials.

The proposed class 6(b) property tax incentive for Baker Development Group to build out tenant renovations at 2017 N. Mendell St. in the 2nd Ward is one of four tax sweeteners due for consideration by the City Council Committee on Economic, Capital and Technology Development during its 1 p.m. meeting on Tuesday.

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Tax break for Bucktown pharmaceutical lab to resurface after hitting resistance from planning department

Ald. Brian Hopkins (2) has urged his colleagues to support a tax break for the lab building at 20...
JUN 10, 2022
Ald. Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez (33), left, and Chicago Federation of Labor deputy chief of staff Andrea Kluger speak during a City Council committee meeting on Thursday.

Chicago is broadening its funding for mental health services, but the spending boost won’t mean much if it keeps outsourcing services to organizations that underpay their workers, multiple aldermen and labor groups said Thursday.

Ald. Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez (33) called the chronic underpayment of nonprofit mental health workers contracted by the Chicago Department of Public Health key “context” behind a resolution she sponsored (R2022-144) expressing the City Council’s support for a unionization drive by workers at the Howard Brown Health Center. The City Council Committee on Workforce Development unanimously advanced the resolution, as well as a seven-year extension on a deal with Cook County to fund workforce programming, during its meeting on Thursday.

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Expanded Chicago mental health spending is shortchanging underpaid therapists, social workers: labor groups

Ald. Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez (33), left, and Chicago Federation of Labor deputy chief of staff ...
JUN 09, 2022
Kenneth Williams has been chief administrative officer of the City Council Office of Financial Analysis since 2020. [Don Vincent/The Daily Line; City of Chicago]

A City Council office designed to give aldermen an unclouded lens into the city’s finances is falling short of its mandate, according to a former employee and a city watchdog agency.

The council’s Office of Financial Analysis, which is housed under the Committee on Budget and Government Operations, has failed to file multiple mandated reports, and the work it has produced has been met with allegations of sloppiness and even plagiarism. Critics say the result is that aldermen must rely on Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration for guidance and information.

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City Council financial watchdog slacking on its responsibility, critics say: ‘It’s kind of a paper tiger’

Kenneth Williams has been chief administrative officer of the City Council Office of Financial An...
JUN 09, 2022
Ald. Walter Burnett (27) voices an endorsement for Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s campaign alongside fellow West Side elected officials Ald. Emma Mitts (37), Ald. Jason Ervin (28) and retiring Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Comm. Barbara McGowan.

A trio of West Side aldermen showcased an early mark of political force for Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s fresh-off-the-ground reelection campaign, highlighting her efforts to jump-start economic activity in historically overlooked neighborhoods while she faced unprecedented headwinds.

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Lightfoot’s tightest City Council allies rally around her nascent reelection campaign

Ald. Walter Burnett (27) voices an endorsement for Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s campaign alongside fell...
JUN 09, 2022

A City Council committee is set to renew its relationship with a labor force nonprofit and to cement symbolic support for a local unionization drive. Also on Thursday, the City Council’s Subcommittee on Reparations is set to meet for the first time in more than a year. And the mayor’s office released names of the 19 people who applied to be the next 24th Ward alderman.

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JUN 07, 2022
A still from Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s reelection campaign announcement video. [YouTube/Lightfoot for Chicago]

Mayor Lori Lightfoot put an end to months of questions and speculation on Tuesday with a nearly three-minute ad confirming the news Chicagoans have long suspected: she’s running.

The splashy 155-second campaign video plows head-first into the mayor’s notoriously brash temperament and habit of making enemies in government — qualities some of her opponents have already seized upon — and wielded them as part of her own argument for why she deserves another four years in power.

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Lightfoot refashions criticism in reelection campaign announcement: ‘I take it personally for our city’

A still from Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s reelection campaign announcement video. [YouTube/Lightfoot fo...
JUN 07, 2022
Chicago has not had an active franchise agreement with ComEd since 2020. [Facebook/ComEd]

Last June, executives from Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) told aldermen they were confident they could strike a deal with city officials to carry on as the city’s sole provider of power with a commitment to reliability, affordability and environmental sustainability.

As the City Council readies for its next annual public check-in with the utility mega-firm on Tuesday, little has changed.

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ComEd to face aldermen with little to show for a year of grinding franchise agreement negotiations

Chicago has not had an active franchise agreement with ComEd since 2020. [Facebook/ComEd] Last Ju...
JUN 06, 2022
Metropolitan Reclamation District of Greater Chicago President Kari Steele, left, is challenging Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi in the June 28 primary.

With three weeks remaining until Cook County voters decide his fate, Assessor Fritz Kaegi is pointing to a fresh round of assessment data he calls a sign of follow-through on campaign promises to right the scales of the county’s byzantine property tax system. The information push represents the incumbent’s attempt to reset the public conversation around assessments following more than two years of delays, slip-ups and finger-pointing in the county’s tax system.

Meanwhile, Keagi’s campaign is pummeling his challenger Kari Steele over bigoted remarks her husband Maze Jackson has made in public, a charge Steele’s campaign is increasingly resisting. And Kaegi continues to run laps around Steele in fundraising and campaign spending, in part thanks to his own personal largesse and in spite of the real estate groups that have put their collective weight behind Steele.

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Kaegi touts skew of assessments toward downtown businesses in reelection closing argument

Metropolitan Reclamation District of Greater Chicago President Kari Steele, left, is challenging ...
JUN 02, 2022
Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6) speaks at a City Council meeting on July 21, 2021. [Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago]

Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6) is running for mayor of Chicago, hoping to oust Mayor Lori Lightfoot from City Hall in 2023.

The South Side alderman, who has represented parts of Chatham, Englewood and West Englewood since 2011, aims to follow in the footsteps of father, Eugene Sawyer, who served as mayor after Harold Washington’s sudden death.

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Sawyer's 'different style,' grassroots record distinguish him from Lightfoot, he says in campaign launch

Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6) speaks at a City Council meeting on July 21, 2021. [Colin Boyle/Block Cl...
JUN 02, 2022
Mayor Lori Lightfoot touts her “Connected Communities Ordinance” proposal during an event on May 27.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration balked last week on its expected rollout of a sweeping new proposal to boost housing options near transit and whittle away at the city’s endemic racial segregation.

The mayor and her top deputies are vowing to push forward after some additional tweaks to the ordinance, which would also blunt aldermen’s powers to veto new housing proposals in their own wards. But as an anxious City Council awaits the final language of the ordinance with reactions ranging from qualified support to outright hostility, nearly everyone can agree on one prediction: the plan won’t survive a vote without a hard-fought battle.

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Lightfoot promises to push forward on ‘essential’ housing density ordinance facing uneasy City Council

Mayor Lori Lightfoot touts her “Connected Communities Ordinance” proposal during an event on May ...
JUN 01, 2022
A food truck participates in the Chi Food Truck Fest. [Facebook/ Chicago Business Affairs & Consumer Protection]

Business regulation officials in Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration will have to wait a little longer for their turn in the spotlight to explain how they plan to spend $157 million in federally sourced cash on a combination of small business supports and direct help for Chicago families.

The Chicago Recovery Plan unveiled by the mayor last year charted out plans to spend $157 million on “direct assistance to families” and “small business & workforce support.” Both topics had been due for consideration in the third of six planned semi-monthly meetings of the City Council Committee on Budget and Government Operations Subcommittee on Chicago Recovery Plan on Wednesday — but the meeting was canceled one day in advance. Both topics had been due for consideration in the third of six planned semi-monthly meetings of the City Council Committee on Budget and Government Operations Subcommittee on Chicago Recovery Plan on Wednesday — but the meeting was canceled one day in advance.

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City Council punts examination of ARPA spending on small business programs, direct cash assistance

A food truck participates in the Chi Food Truck Fest. [Facebook/ Chicago Business Affairs & C...