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.

JUL 21, 2021
Aldermen during the June 23 City Council meeting [Don Vincent/The Daily Line]

A modified plan to expedite business permits, approval of a $4 billion mega-development on the Near South Side and a years-in-the-making civilian police oversight plan are among dozens of items set for consideration by the City Council on Wednesday during its last meeting before the council’s August recess. 

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Aldermen retain sidewalk permit veto power under agreement set for City Council vote Wednesday

Aldermen during the June 23 City Council meeting [Don Vincent/The Daily Line] A modified plan to ...
JUL 19, 2021
Hacked emails offer a rare glimpse at the grinding process by which civilian police oversight went from a lofty campaign promise to an ordinance on the brink of passage to a political dead end, leaving the issue open for more than a year.  [Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago]

Aldermen over the weekend appeared within striking distance of a deal with Mayor Lori Lightfoot oa blueprint to establish civilian oversight of the Chicago Police Department, an agreement that has eluded the parties for more than a year. 

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Lightfoot’s campaign promise on police oversight comes tantalizingly close, 16 months after the last deal fell apart

Hacked emails offer a rare glimpse at the grinding process by which civilian police oversight wen...
JUL 15, 2021

Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough is ready to start calculating property tax rates after initially refusing to do so, her office announced. And City Council committees are set to take up ordinances on a range of issues, from remote administrative hearings to car impoundments. 

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JUN 30, 2021
Chicago Police Department Supt. David Brown during an August 2020 news conference [Chicago Police Department] 

Updated Wednesday 12:54 p.m.: Nearly half the City Council used a legal maneuver on Wednesday to trigger a special meeting designed to probe Chicago Police Department leaders about their plans to head off summer violence ahead of the July 4 weekend.

The virtual council meeting, now scheduled for 11 a.m. on Friday, follows through on a letter signed on Tuesday by 25 aldermen threatening to convene the special meeting if a powerful committee chair did not act this week to schedule a wide-ranging meeting to review police policies.

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Aldermen move to force special meeting to put Brown ‘on the stand’ over CPD summer plans

Chicago Police Department Supt. David Brown during an August 2020 news conference [Chicago Police...
JUN 23, 2021

Aldermen agreed to spring two-dozen measures out of the City Council Committee on Committees and Rules, putting them back on track. And Cook County commissioners signaled they’re moving full-steam on a plan to ask county voters to raise their own property taxes to fund the Cook County Forest Preserve District.

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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...
SEP 10, 2021

Ald. Scott Waguespack (32) used a committee meeting Thursday to ask whether Chicago Board of Ethics members think the city should be involved in the Chicago Park District’s probe into sexual abuse among its lifeguards. Aldermen advanced an update to the city’s excavation rules. A group of aldermen sent a letter to city health officials asking them to impose a requirement for proof of vaccination in indoor spaces. And the City Council Committee on Contract Oversight and Equity is set to advance an extension of the city’s minority hiring program, weeks before the program is set to expire. 
 

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News in brief: Ethics board pressed on Park District scandal; minority contracting rules set for extension

Ald. Scott Waguespack (32) used a committee meeting Thursday to ask whether Chicago Board of Ethi...
SEP 10, 2021
An ordinance that would allow sports betting at the city’s ballparks and stadiums is set to escape a City Council procedural snafu on Friday. [Heather Maguire via Unsplash]

A proposal to legalize sports betting at Chicago’s ballparks and arenas is set to get back on track Friday, setting it up for potential passage later this year after it was knocked off course.

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Legalized sports betting ordinance set to be rescued from Rules Committee

An ordinance that would allow sports betting at the city’s ballparks and stadiums is set to escap...
SEP 09, 2021
Will Shih, a senior policy adviser to Mayor Lori Lightfoot, shows a map of the smaller downtown cannabis “exclusion area” proposed by a new ordinance

A divided City Council committee voted on Wednesday to advance a proposal from Mayor Lori Lightfoot to ease the path for new cannabis dispensaries to open in the city, sweeping aside critics who said city leaders should wait to see how the state’s chaotic licensing rollout shakes out before giving new operators a boost.

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Pot shop deregulation push clears committee as aldermen lash state over social equity licensing

Will Shih, a senior policy adviser to Mayor Lori Lightfoot, shows a map of the smaller downtown c...
SEP 08, 2021
Attorney James Franczek (left) and Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22) during a virtual committee hearing on Tuesday

Aldermen voted unanimously on Tuesday to advance an eight-year, $600 million contract with Chicago’s rank-and-file police union, acknowledging the exchange of retroactive pay hikes for a laundry list of new accountability guardrails represented the best bargain the city was likely to reach.

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FOP contract on glide path to approval, but some key details remain unresolved

Attorney James Franczek (left) and Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22) during a virtual committee hearing...
SEP 08, 2021
An ordinance lowering barriers for new cannabis dispensaries to open in Chicago is set for consideration by the City Council zoning committee on Wednesday. [Unsplash]

Updated 9:25 a.m. Monday, Sept. 8: A freshly tweaked proposal to cut red tape for new cannabis dispensaries is set to come before aldermen on Wednesday, potentially easing the path for dozens of new pot entrepreneurs to set up shop in Chicago following this summer’s state-run license lotteries.

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Pot shop deregulation ordinance, ‘Halsted Pointe’ mega-development up for zoning committee approval

An ordinance lowering barriers for new cannabis dispensaries to open in Chicago is set for consid...
SEP 07, 2021
A $600 million, eight-year contract with the city’s rank-and-file police union is set for consideration by aldermen on Tuesday. [Kelly Bauer/Block Club]

A years-overdue, $600 million contract with the Chicago Police Department’s rank-and-file union is set for its first public audience with aldermen on Tuesday, setting off a balancing act for city budget officials looking for ways to foot the bill for officer pay raises.

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Police contract set for committee approval boosts reform efforts but tees up budget pain

A $600 million, eight-year contract with the city’s rank-and-file police union is set for conside...
SEP 03, 2021
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Director Marc Smith (left) and Danielle Gomez, a staff attorney for the Cook County Public Guardian’s office, testifying during a House hearing on Thursday

The head of the state’s embattled foster care agency on Thursday defended what he called the department’s “comfortable and safe” network of makeshift intake spaces being stood up in offices and private facilities around the state, directly contradicting critics who said state officials are leaving vulnerable children “in limbo” for weeks with sometimes devastating consequences.

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DCFS chief defends bunking foster kids in offices amid grilling from lawmakers, county official

Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Director Marc Smith (left) and Danielle Gomez...
SEP 03, 2021

Gov. JB Pritzker held an event Thursday to promote a bill he signed last month that he said will make the state a “national leader” on digital access for students with disabilities. And the governor expressed cautious optimism that the states’ latest COVID-19 surge could be cresting.

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News in brief: Pritzker touts digital accessibility law, points to ‘flattening’ in COVID cases

Gov. JB Pritzker held an event Thursday to promote a bill he signed last month that he said will ...
SEP 02, 2021
Travelers make their way through O'Hare International Airport on May 30, 2021. [Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago]

A multi-part concession agreement would pave the way for a private vendor to set up no-contact “micro marts” at O’Hare Airport under an agreement set for consideration by a City Council committee on Thursday.

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O’Hare to get Amazon Go-style ‘micro marts’ under agreement set for City Council approval

Travelers make their way through O'Hare International Airport on May 30, 2021. [Colin Boyle/Block...
SEP 01, 2021
The Chicago Treasurer and Department of Finance aren’t fully taking advantage of city rules meant to crack down on inequitable lending, Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson found in a report. [Heather Cherone/The Daily Line]

City finance officials don’t take banks’ lending patterns into account when investigating whether they’re worthy of holding the city’s assets, ignoring one of the city’s only tools to fight endemic racism in the banking industry, a city watchdog found in a report published Tuesday.

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City has ‘no process’ to stop investing public dollars in banks with racist lending patterns, watchdog says

The Chicago Treasurer and Department of Finance aren’t fully taking advantage of city rules meant...
SEP 01, 2021
A pilot program underway this week will send mental health professionals to accompany police on answering some 911 calls. [Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago]

Chicago health officials are set to roll out more details Wednesday on their long-awaited “co-responder” pilot program, which on Monday began dispatching mental health professionals to answer some 911 calls.

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Health officials to brief aldermen, public on rollout of long-awaited ‘co-responder’ pilot

A pilot program underway this week will send mental health professionals to accompany police on a...
AUG 31, 2021
Chicago Budget Director Susie Park briefed aldermen on the city’s 2021 year-end balance sheet on Monday.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s top financial officials stood firm on Monday amid prodding from aldermen over their plan to use hundreds of millions in federal rescue dollars to unwind a risky pandemic-era financial maneuver instead of plowing it all into social and economic programs.

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Finance officials defend use of $782M in ARP to cancel ‘very expensive’ scoop-and-toss

Chicago Budget Director Susie Park briefed aldermen on the city’s 2021 year-end balance sheet on ...
AUG 29, 2021

What would defunding CPD look like?

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago The Chicago Police Department is the most expensive, and ...
AUG 30, 2021
Chicago Budget Director Susie Park speaking during a budget engagement forum on Aug. 12

The City Council’s 2022 budget season is set to kick into a new gear on Monday, when city finance officials brief aldermen on this year’s balance sheet and kick off a discussion on how to fund the Chicago Police Department during the next year.

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Budget officials to recap 2021 spending, kick off battle over CPD budget in wide-ranging hearing

Chicago Budget Director Susie Park speaking during a budget engagement forum on Aug. 12 The City ...
AUG 27, 2021
Workers prepare to install a water main in West Englewood. [Jamie Nesbitt Golden/Block Club Chicago]

Chicago would codify a ban on residential water shutoffs, expand its affordable water bill payment program and head off any future privatization of its water system under a proposal set for preliminary consideration by a City Council committee on Friday.

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‘Water for All’ affordable water bill proposal, ban on home shutoffs set for hearing

Workers prepare to install a water main in West Englewood. [Jamie Nesbitt Golden/Block Club Chica...
AUG 26, 2021
A rendering of Glenstar’s proposal to build a 297-unit apartment complex near the Cumberland CTA Blue Line station [Department of Planning and Development]

A long-brewing plan to build nearly 300 new apartments near the Cumblerland CTA Blue Line station is set to face a key vote on Thursday, setting up a test of whether city planning officials, developers, interest groups and affordable housing organizers can overcome the opposition of the neighborhood’s alderman.

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O’Hare-area apartments plan faces key vote as developer looks to overcome alderman’s opposition

A rendering of Glenstar’s proposal to build a 297-unit apartment complex near the Cumberland CTA ...
AUG 26, 2021

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a vaccine mandate for city workers, but some of the city's largest labor unions are resisting. And the city's mental health emergency response system is set to launch Monday.

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News in brief: Lightfoot imposes vaccine mandate as ‘starting point;’ city to launch mental health emergency response system

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a vaccine mandate for city workers, but some of the city's largest...
AUG 25, 2021
Ald. David Moore (17) (left) and attorney Colette Holt. As vice chair of the Committee on Contracting Oversight and Equity, Moore became acting chair upon Ald. Carrie Austin’s (34) resignation from the role.

Ald. David Moore (17) presided on Tuesday over an informational meeting of the City Council Committee on Contracting Oversight and Equity, saying he was leading in his capacity as committee vice chair because chair Ald. Carrie Austin (34) was “not available at this time” to lead the discussion of the city’s construction contracting rules.

But by the end of the meeting, Moore was promoted to the committee’s acting chair.

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Austin reportedly surrenders committee gavel as aldermen mull sharpening minority hiring program

Ald. David Moore (17) (left) and attorney Colette Holt. As vice chair of the Committee on Contrac...
AUG 25, 2021
City officials may not directly raise money to pay off legal fees or else risk crossing the city’s ethics ordinance, a city board ruled Tuesday. [Stock]

City officials and employees are not allowed to directly raise money to pay off legal expenses unless the help is coming from “relatives or personal friends,” a city board ruled in an advisory opinion issued Tuesday.

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‘Legal defense funds’ run aground on city gift-giving restrictions: ethics board

City officials may not directly raise money to pay off legal fees or else risk crossing the city...