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.
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.
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.
O'Hare International Airport [Facebook]
A tollway will be built along the west edge of O’Hare Airport, making it faster to get to the airport from the suburbs.
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.
News in brief: Tax incentive approved for Beverly medical office; 11th Ward appointment stalls; Airports launches new tourism campaign
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.
News in brief: Arwady ‘would expect’ city to follow state on mask mandate; Committee approves tax incentive for Siegal Steel in Brighton Park
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.
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.
News in brief: Study on buying Bears to be rescued from rules committee; aldermen to confirm new ethics board member; tax break scrubbed
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.
News in brief: Canaryville, Barbara Jean Wright residents weigh in on ward remap; Police Board appointees get initial OK; Sports betting up again
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.
News in brief: Outdoor dining extension advances; Aldermen to confirm new Police Board members; emergency procurement powers proposal set for second chance; ward remap hearing on tap
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).
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx speaks at an April 2022 news conference. [Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago]
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx hasn’t properly set up her sprawling office to withstand the barrage of high-profile resignations that have left prosecutors reeling, a senior Cook County commissioner said Friday.
North-suburban Comm. Larry Suffredin (D-13), who ran unsuccessfully for State’s Attorney in 2008, called the mass exodus from Foxx’s office a symptom of the “great resignation” that has stretched payrolls thin across Cook County offices and in workplaces across the country.
Foxx’s ‘rudderless’ office needs reorganization as county offices scramble to hire, retiring commissioner says
Chicago Department of Public Health Comm. Allison Arwady speaks at a news conference at City Hall on Thursday.
Demand for Monkeypox vaccinations and testing services still far outweigh supply as the Northalsted neighborhood prepares to host the Market Days festival this weekend — but more help is on the way, Chicago Department of Public Health Comm. Allison Arwady said during a news conference on Thursday.
Feds ramping up Monkeypox vaccine deliveries — but no money — amid ‘all-hands-on-deck’ strategy, Arwady says
The City Council voted last month to grant a property tax incentive to an office building at 2017 N. Mendell St. over the objection of officials in Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration, who said the benefit was unnecessary. [Baker Development Corporation]
Chicago’s intricate web of tax incentives designed to spur private investment and development sapped more than $92 million in property tax revenues that would have otherwise flowed into the city’s coffers last year, an annual financial audit shows.
The figure is almost enough to eclipse the approximately $94 million hike in the city’s property tax levy that Mayor Lori Lightfoot squeezed through the City Council for the 2021 budget year.
The cost of the city’s tax breaks was one takeaway from the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report for the year 2021, which also showed the city beat its projections on both revenues and spending while making meager progress on shoring up its anemic pension funds.
Maps show the areas in dark-gray where property tax increment will be used to pay for the 5.6-mile Red Line Extension, shown on the dotted red line. [CTA/SB Friedman Advisors]
Chicago and CTA planning officials leapt forward last week in their long-promised mission to extend the city’s most used transit line by releasing a detailed funding plan that relies in part on culling future tax revenues from some downtown and Near South Side residents.
The controversial new financing mechanism promises to raise up to $950 million for the herculean rail project — not by hiking or imposing any new taxes, but by diverting natural property tax growth from chunks of the Loop, South Loop, Armour Square, Bridgeport, Chinatown and Douglas neighborhoods into a special construction fund for the next 35 years.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle (top right) speaks on a virtual panel on local American Rescue Plan Act spending hosted by government think tank Results for America.
As Chicago and Cook County leaders ramp up their reelection campaigns and prepare for fall budget hearings, they’re benefitting daily from a combined nearly $3 billion bonanza of federal money earmarked for a range of new programming from violence prevention and mental health to neighborhood development and cultural grants — most of which has either yet to be spent or has only just hit the streets.
But with a likely economic slowdown on the horizon, fiscal watchdogs are still waiting to hear how city and county officials plan to keep the bottom from falling out from hundreds of millions of dollars in new programming after the last dollar of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is required to be spent in 2026.
Fiscal cliff looms on ARPA-backed programming as Chicago, Cook County leaders celebrate investments: ‘We do not yet have a plan’
City arts officials unveiled nearly 300 winners of cultural grants stemming from an expanded public arts funding program. And Cook County leaders touted a step forward in their push to bring landlords into compliance with new tenant protection rules.
News in brief: City releases $6.5M in arts grants; Cook County enlists software to enforce Just Housing rules
A rendering of the 36-story apartment tower proposed for 301 S. Green St. in the 27th Ward [
A 36-story apartment tower is the largest of more than a dozen new planned development applications introduced to the City Council last month, promising to toss more than 350 new homes into the West Loop’s gushing development pipeline.
The proposal by Golub & Company is one of five new developments proposed to the council last month that would combine for more than 600 units, joining plans for a more than 427,000-square-foot data center in Bronzeville, a 120,000-square-foot medical building in Kenwood, a brewery in Back of the Yards and a cannabis dispensary in the South Loop.
Cook County Budget Director Annette Guzman speaks during a preliminary budget hearing with the county Board of Commissioners Finance Committee on July 18.
Nearly 15 percent of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s labor force has quit in the past year. More than one-quarter of positions at Stroger Hospital remain unfilled as nursing shortages stretch the limits of patient care. The county’s finance bureau needs to hire dozens of people to help get hundreds of millions of federally sourced dollars into the right hands. And Cook County Board of Review staffers are working mandatory evenings and weekends, prompting fears that the veteran appeals officers who haven’t already quit are being pushed to their breaking point as they try to make up time from late tax assessments.
On its face, the $263 million year-end budget surplus Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle declared last month would portend an easy upcoming budget season, a sharp turnaround from the painful cuts forced by pandemic-driven revenue shortfalls just two years ago. But the extra money also exposes a major dilemma for the county: system-wide staff shortages that threaten some of the county’s most basic functions.
Architect Jerry Walleck shows plans during a Chicago Plan Commission hearing for the 23-story senior apartment building planned at 4030 N. Marine Dr.
One day after the City Council green-lit an initiative to spur denser housing construction near public transit lines, city planning officials pushed forward a massive North Side development they called a model of the plan’s principles — including for how to get hundreds of new apartments with relatively few parking spots past neighboring homeowners who would typically be opposed.
Uptown apartment mega-project an ‘exemplar’ for housing density near transit as city expands 'TOD' policy, officials say
Ald. Michele Smith (43) speaks at a March 2022 City Council meeting. [Don Vincent/The Daily Line]
Lincoln Park Ald. Michele Smith (43) will retire from the City Council next month, capping her City Council career at 11 years and giving Mayor Lori Lightfoot her third opportunity this year to appoint a new alderman, she announced on Thursday.
The sudden announcement, citing a desire to spend more time with family and friends, comes one day after Smith scored a major legislative victory with the City Council’s passage of an ethics reform ordinance she championed.
Ald. Anthony Beale (9) speaks at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. [Don Vincent/The Daily Line]
After circling in legislative purgatory for 16 months, a proposal to roll back a controversial 2021 crackdown on speeding finally earned a final verdict from the City Council on Wednesday. Aldermen rejected the push, siding with Mayor Lori Lightfoot as they called to accelerate the city’s efforts to tamp down on accelerating traffic deaths.
During its last meeting before the August recess, the City Council also voted to approve dozens of other measures, including a bid to crack down on drag racing, an update to the city’s ethics rules and Lightfoot’s “equitable transit-oriented development” ordinance to boost housing density near public transit.
A rendering of the two-building “Thrive Englewood” apartment complex being proposed by DL3 Realty for 914 W. 63rd St. [Department of Planning and Development]
The latest proposal to build up a high-profile intersection in Englewood and a plan for a new 22-story senior housing building in Uptown are the largest of a half-dozen proposals up for consideration by the Chicago Plan Commission during its regular meeting on Thursday.
Juan Sebastian Arias, deputy policy director for Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, presents details on the “Connected Communities Ordinance” to the City Council on Tuesday.
A years-in-the-making policy push to lay the groundwork for denser housing construction near the city’s transit nodes cleared a key committee hurdle after a marathon meeting on Tuesday, setting it up for final passage by the City Council during its meeting on Wednesday.
A handful of aldermen lit into the sweeping 38-page ordinance as an attack on aldermanic power and private property rights, and more were skeptical that the rule changes would accomplish their goals without added funding to back it. But the proposal ultimately cleared the committee in a lopsided 15-4 vote, portending easy passage in the City Council barring parliamentary roadblocks that could still slow it down.
Transit-focused housing ordinance clears committee as skeptical aldermen seek assurances on predictability — and blast CTA
From left: Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Chicago Department of Housing Comm. Marisa Novara and Bickerdike Development CEO Joy Aruguete speak at the grand opening of the Lucy Gonzalez Parsons apartments in Logan Square in May. [Twitter/Chicago Department of Housing]
An ordinance representing the culmination of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s legislative efforts to disrupt Chicago’s racial segregation and blunt aldermen’s powers to block affordable proposals in their own wards is finally set for a vote on Tuesday. But negotiations between the mayor’s administration and powerful aldermen have defanged the plan of some of its sharpest provisions.
An ordinance approved on Monday will empower city workers to tow abandoned cars on privately owned vacant lots. [Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago]
A City Council committee advanced a proposal on Monday to let city workers tow abandoned cars and trucks that are left to rust on privately owned vacant lots, but at least one South Side alderman wants the crackdown to hit even harder.
The City Council Committee on Budget and Government Operations also voted to push forward a near-total ban on water shutoffs, a measure empowering aldermen to help protect against flooding and an infusion of more than $14 million in new grant funds into the city’s budget. However, aldermen punted on a proposal to establish a long-awaited legal office for the City Council as two key aldermen said they had nearly converged on a compromise plan.
Aldermen vote to ban water shutoffs, crack down on abandoned cars on vacant lots as compromise brews for City Council legal counsel
Creola Hampton, president and founder of the Black Leadership Advocacy Coalition for Healthcare Equity, left, and Chicago Department of Public Health Comm. Allison Arwady speak during a committee meeting on Friday.
A group of Black nonprofit health group leaders and some aldermen put Chicago Department of Public Health Comm. Allison Arwady on the defensive on Friday over what they called a trickle of money flowing to Black-led community groups, a condition they blamed for widening racial disparities in diagnoses of HIV and other health crises.
The accusations flew during a more than two-hour meeting of the City Council Committee on Health and Human Relations on Friday, when committee chair Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6) called a subject matter hearing to discuss the city’s response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Black community. The committee on Friday also passed resolutions urging city leaders to release more information surrounding a botched 2020 demolition and to support international efforts at nuclear disarmament.
Chicago Board of Ethics executive director Steve Berlin gives a presentation on the ethics ordinance that passed committee on Friday.
An effort to crack down on nepotism, widen conflict-of-interest restrictions and hike fines for ethics violations by city officials glided through a unanimous committee vote late Friday, bringing the proposal to the verge of implementation after months of debate and confusion.
The “Evergreen Imagine” affordable housing complex in Auburn Gresham is in line for a city-backed loan. [Department of Planning and Development]
The City Council Committee on Finance is scheduled during its 10 a.m. meeting on Monday to pave the way for $82 million in new bonding authority for a handful of affordable housing developments around the city, including new apartment complexes in Invest South/West corridors in Englewood and Austin.
Also lined up for approval will be nearly $130 million in tax-increment financing disbursements, including $2 million for the renovation of the Ramova Theater in Bridgeport, $37.5 million for a gym annex at Dett Elementary School on the Near West Side and $12.4 million for a roof replacement at Whitney Young Magnet High School.
Finally, the committee is set to green-light more than $12 million in legal settlements, including a $6.75 million payout for a man who served 15 years in prison based on evidence he alleges was forged by Chicago police officers.
Millions in affordable apartment loans, police misconduct settlements, school construction payouts lined up for approval
A drone video captured footage of the dust debris from a smokestack implosion that blanketed nearby Little Village homes in dust. [Alejandro Reyes/YouTube]
A City Council committee is poised to send a shot across the bow to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration on Friday by formally calling for the release of a city watchdog’s full report on the lead-up and aftermath of a botched April 2020 demolition that blanketed a nearby neighborhood in dust.
The City Council Committee on Health and Human Relations is scheduled to meet at 1 p.m. Friday to take up four non-binding resolutions proposed by various aldermen. They include a resolution (R2022-73) proposed in January by Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22) calling on the city’s law department to “immediately release” a full disciplinary investigation undertaken by then-Inspector General Joseph Ferguson’s office on the city’s handling of the April 11, 2020 incident.
A compromise ethics proposal primed for a vote on Friday would ban former aldermen from walking the City Council floor during meetings but would stop short of forcing aldermen out of the room when they recuse themselves from votes. [Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago]
A beleaguered legislative push to tighten ethics and lobbying restrictions on city employees is finally primed for a vote on Friday after months of negotiations that softened some of the proposal’s edges but left most of its core provisions intact.
The ordinance authored by City Council Committee on Ethics and Government Oversight chair Ald. Michele Smith (43) and backed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot is set for direct introduction and a vote in the ethics committee when it reconvenes at 3 p.m. on Friday. The compromise measure had been primed for a vote on Wednesday, but Smith recessed the meeting to give her staff and the mayor’s administration an extra 48 hours to come to terms on language.