City Council approves Lightfoot’s budget, a general election voting guide and more in your Chicago news roundup

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot presides over a Chicago City Council meeting at City Hall, this morning.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a five-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

This afternoon will be sunny with a high near 51 degrees. Tonight will be partly cloudy with a low near 41. Tomorrow will be mostly sunny with a high near 56.

Top story

City Council approves Lightfoot’s $16.4 billion budget by 32-to-18 vote

A divided City Council today handed Mayor Lori Lightfoot the $16.4 billion 2023 budget that will serve as her reelection platform amid complaints that it shortchanges public safety, climate change and her own progressive promises.

Lightfoot cut in half a property tax increase tied to the rate of inflation, then eliminated that $42.7 million increase altogether perhaps to pave the way the easiest budget vote of a four-year term marred by the pandemic and civil unrest.

It didn’t quite turn out that way. The vote was closer than expected 32-18 on both the budget itself and the revenue ordinance that supports the annual spending plan. The city’s annual property tax levy passed by an even closer vote of 2921.

As nearly two hours of debate got underway at around 10:40 a.m., the opposition was clear.

Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st) took Lightfoot to task for spending only a fraction of the federal money appropriated for an array of social programs in last year’s budget.

“It was deeply frustrating” to learn how little money has gone “out the door” for such vital programs as domestic violence and youth outreach, La Spata said. “It’s important that, when we have the money, we spend it. Not only allocate the money, but use it.”

La Spata went on to say that “a lot of the asks” by the Council’s Latino Caucus “seem to have fallen on deaf ears.”

“I worked hard to get to a budget I could vote ‘yes’ on. That’s not where I’m at today. ... If this is supposed to be a reflection of our values, this is not it,” he said.

Even South Side Ald. David Moore (17th), who supports the mayor’s spending plan, was not happy about what he called the tens of millions of “carryover dollars.”

“We must make sure that we’re spending dollars in those years that we’re telling people we’re gonna spend it,” Moore said. “We can’t wait until we’re dealing with a crisis. When we have money, let’s get it out so we can care for the people.”

It’s no real surprise that the roll call was closer than last year’s 35-15 cakewalk, which included a $76.5 million increase in the city’s property tax levy. It has at least something to do with the proximity to the mayoral election and the fact that three veteran alderpersons — Sophia King (4th), Roderick Sawyer (6th) and Ray Lopez (15th) — are giving up their seats to run for mayor.

They may soon be joined by retiring Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), who declared his opposition to the budget, in part, by noting that the Town Hall police district in his ward now has 285 police officers — down from 415 when Rahm Emanuel was mayor.

Fran Spielman has more on the details of the budget and the mayor’s race here.

More news you need

  1. Cook County health officials have launched a new awareness campaign aimed at getting suburban residents to stay up to date with their COVID and flu vaccinations ahead of the holiday season. Cook County Commissioner Scott Britton urged residents to get their COVID booster and flu vaccine at the same time.
  2. Thousands of square feet of floating wetlands have been installed in the South Branch of the Chicago River to attract native wildlife to a historically industrial stretch of the waterway on the Lower West Side. The new archipelago of more than 3,000 square feet of floating wetlands is situated where the Chicago River meets Bubbly Creek near Bridgeport.
  3. Formerly an apartment hotel, Lincoln Park’s Belden-Stratford is getting a complete makeover backed by a former resident, Chicago business executive Joe Mansueto. The makeover gives the building 209 units, compared with up to 650 units it had in its hotel days.
  4. Rallying with Illinois Democrats yesterday, Vice President Kamala Harris framed the midterm elections as a referendum on abortion rights and the fight for democracy. Meanwhile, the state’s top Republican ticket vowed to oust Democrats and “restore” Illinois. Our Tina Sfondeles details candidates’ final push before the midterms here.
  5. Early voting has overtaken the number of ballots being cast by mail for the first time in the last two election cycles, the city’s top election official said today. As of last night, 103,205 mail ballots had been returned, Marisel A. Hernandez, chair of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, said.
  6. Voting tomorrow? The Sun-Times and WBEZ compiled a handy guide on who’s running in selected races. Just type in your address here and see the candidates on your ballot.

A bright one

Aria crown: Chicago has a karaoke champion

As confetti fell at the sold-out Park West theater, Jason E. Jackson was crowned Chicago’s karaoke champion last night in the first-ever citywide competition.

“I’m floored, and I am so honored,” said Jackson, who donned a shiny gold bow tie with a black shirt and a pinstriped vest and pants.

Jackson’s renditions of “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” by The Darkness and a show-stopping performance of the opera aria “Nessun Dorma” that brought the crowd to its feet earned him bragging rights and a $5,000 prize presented by Mayor Lori Lightfoot — who sang “Dancing in the Street” by Martha and the Vandellas as the judges deliberated.


Jason E. Jackson, center, won Chicago’s first citywide karaoke contest last night at Park West. His formula; sing opera.

Lou Foglia/For WBEZ

Jackson, 45, who lives in Edgewater, said he opted for an opera number as a way to stand out from the competition. It was immediately clear his gamble paid off. One judge told Jackson that he “touched everyone here,” and another called the performance “truly mesmerizing.”

As for Jackson’s plan for the winnings, he had three words: “Bills, bills, bills.

“This money is going to mean a chance for me to rebuild,” he said.

WBEZ’s Courtney Kueppers has more on the city’s karaoke championship here.

From the press box

Your daily question☕

What’s one place in Chicago that makes you feel like you’ve been transported to another country? Tell us why.

Send us an email at and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

On Friday, we asked you: What’s something only Chicagoans know how to do?

Here’s what some of you said...

“Footwork.” — Dorian Lofton

“Play 16” softball.” — Tim Sullivan

“Get around the loop using Lower Wacker — I can’t, but my husband can, he always uses it.” — Kaye Grabbe

“Step.” — Fred L. Reed Jr.

“Sing the ‘Go Cubs Go’ song — with lyrics that refer to the future (‘are gonna win today’) despite that event already having happened and refer to a radio station on which there aren’t Cubs broadcasts anymore.” — Paul Lockwood

“We somehow manage to reconcile rooting for our local big four professional sports teams despite loathing the owners of every single one.” — Michael Conroy

“Merge onto 90/94 west from the far left lane on 290.” — Mike Burke

“Parallel park under pressure.” — Kimberly Kayat

“Dance to House Music.” — Albert Lamont Matthews

Thanks for reading the Chicago Sun-Times Afternoon Edition.Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.

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