Afternoon Edition: Lawmakers accept campaign contributions they banned

Plus: Evanston hostages released, the Bears QB carousel and more.

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Illinois Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, backed a law passed in May to ban campaign contributions from the red-light camera industry. Less than six weeks later, he accepted two contributions totaling $5,000 from Redspeed Illinois, a contractor operating red-light cameras.

Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP

Good afternoon, Chicago. ✶

After more than two weeks since their capture by Hamas while visiting Israel, an Evanston mother and daughter have reportedly been released.

Below, we detail what we know about this developing story. 👇

Plus, we have the community news you need to know before the weekend.

⏱️: A 7-minute read

— Matt Moore, newsletter reporter (@MattKenMoore)


TODAY’S TOP STORY

Illinois lawmakers banned campaign donations from red-light camera companies, then accepted them

Reporting by Robert Herguth

Addressing corruption?In May, the General Assembly passed a bill to ban campaign contributions from the red-light camera industry that’s been embroiled in a bribery scandal still unfolding in federal court. The measure, described by legislators as an important reform, was approved without dissent.

Corruption still thriving: Among those backing the bill was Illinois Senate President Don Harmon. Less than six weeks later, the Oak Park Democrat’s campaign accounts accepted two contributions totaling $5,000 from Redspeed Illinois, a contractor operating red-light cameras in a number of Chicago-area municipalities. Harmon is among several legislators who approved the measure and still accepted campaign contributions from red-light camera companies.

The red-light cam legacy: For years, the red-light camera industry — which, with the permission of local governments, installs cameras at intersections that photograph drivers who ignore a red light and mail them a ticket — has been popular with many local governments, as municipalities split the take with red-light firms. Firms like Redspeed, SafeSpeed, their executives and affiliated firms have collectively given more than $900,000 to politicians in Illinois over the years.

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WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?

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Judith Raanan, 59, and her daughter Natalie Raanan, 17.

Provided

  • Evanston mom, daughter released by Hamas: The Evanston mother and daughter held hostage by Hamas have been released almost two weeks after their capture during a trip to Israel. Judith Raanan, 59, and her daughter Natalie Raanan, 17, were taken to Egypt and handed over to the Red Cross, Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein said Friday, citing sources in Israel.
  • Unions push to represent more workers: For all the sound and fury on the labor front, its net effect is unknown. Unions’ overall share of the workforce nationally fell to 10.1% in 2022, about half the rate of 1983, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Illinois comptroller’s office employee fired: An attorney with the Illinois comptroller’s office was fired Thursday over antisemitic comments she made on Instagram. Among the messages: “Hitler should have eradicated all of you.”
  • The Bears’ QB carousel: Since George McCaskey became chairman in May 2011, the Bears have had 16 starting quarterbacks. That includes Tyson Bagent, who is set to start Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders.
  • 3 stars for ‘Young Frankenstein’: Now showing at Mercury Theater Chicago, Mel Brooks’ musical comedy is a seasonally fitting giggle fest wrought with cheesy double entendres and monstrous puns, writes Catey Sullivan in a review for the Sun-Times.

WEEKEND PLANS 🎉

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The Arts in the Dark Halloween Parade will step off Saturday at 6 p.m.

Distract Your Face Photography

🎶 Chirp Record Fair
Saturday, 8-10 a.m. (early admission); 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. (general admission)
📍Plumbers Hall, 1340 W. Washington Blvd.
Come out for this record fest to dig through thousands of crates of vinyl records, DVDs, CDs, posters and more.
Admission: $10+

👻 Wicker Park Boo-Palooza
Saturday, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
📍Wicker Park, 1425 N. Damen Ave.
Boo-Palooza returns to Wicker Park, featuring costume parades — for humans and dogs — games, a maze and more Halloween fun in the neighborhood.
Admission: $10 suggested donation

🎃 Arts in the Dark Halloween Parade
Saturday, 6-8 p.m.
📍State from Lake to Van Buren
This parade brings together cultural organizations and artists from across the city for a free one-of-a-kind event featuring unique floats, spectacle puppets and performances.
Admission: Free

🔉Soul Summit
Saturday, 9 p.m.
📍Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western
The much-loved celebration of Chicago soul and funk ends with a final party. Join DJs Duke Grip, Sloppy White and Mo Manley and dance the night away to some great music.
Admission: Free until 10 p.m., then $5

🛍️ Windy City Vintage Fest Halloween Pop Up
Sunday, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
📍Patio Theater, 6008 W. Irving Park Road
Find vintage clothing, accessories, toys and more as vendors fill the space with treasures.
Admission: Free


BRIGHT ONE ✨

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Graham Ellinghausen, 26, got the Marina Towers tattooed on his thigh after living there when he moved to Chicago after college.

Provided

Former Marina Towers resident got a tattoo of the corncob buildings as a reminder of his first apartment

Reporting by Katie Anthony

Marina Towers — those corncob-looking buildings just north of the Chicago River at 300 N. State St. — are iconic Chicago architecture, the image on countless postcards and a Wilco album cover and a permanent feature on one of Graham Ellinghausen’s thighs.

Ellinghausen, 26, moved to Chicago after college, at 21. After getting a job downtown writing software, he was drawn to those two funky-looking buildings on the river and got his first apartment there. Growing up in Woodstock, he’d come to the city and look up at the buildings in wonder.

“They’ve always seemed kind of iconic to me, some of the most memorable designed skyscrapers I can think of around the city,” he says. “They always caught my eye.”

Living there, he says he learned a lot from his neighbors, many who’d lived in the buildings for decades.

“A lot of the older population there has lived pretty much in Marina Towers more or less since it was built, so there’s a lot of history there,” Ellinghausen says.

Two years after moving out, he decided to give himself a permanent reminder of his former home — “long enough that I think I could look back on it with a little more fondness than immediately after I moved out” — courtesy of tattoo artist Dylan Cullison, whose portfolio is filled with intricate architectural images.

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YOUR DAILY QUESTION ☕️

Growing up, what was the best part about Halloween in Chicago?

Email us (please include your first and last name and where you live). To see the answers to this question, check our Morning Edition newsletter. Not subscribed to Morning Edition? Sign up here so you won’t miss a thing!


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Editor: Satchel Price
Newsletter reporter: Matt Moore
Copy editor: Angie Myers

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