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Fran Spielman Show

Veteran City Hall reporter Fran Spielman's interviews with Chicago's movers and shakers.

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The Fran Spielman Show

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Arne Duncan, founder of Chicago CRED | “Creating Real Economic Destiny"

Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman is joined by former United States Secretary of Education and former CPS CEO Arne Duncan to discuss violence in Chicago. Duncan, founder of Chicago CRED, which stands for “Creating Real Economic Destiny," brought on two local men to discuss their experience with violence. First is Billy Moore, who served 20 years in prison for fatally shooting Chicago preps basketball player Benji Wilson in 1984, and the second is Bilaal Evans Evans, who served 15 years for a crime he did not commit and most recently survived a shooting on Christmas 2021.

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Arne Duncan cracks the door open to 2023 race for mayor against Lightfoot

Late last year, the former Chicago Public Schools CEO told reporters he loved his violence prevention work and was "not interested" in challenging incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot. On Thursday, Duncan started to change his tune.

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Chicago ‘at a crossroads’ because of rising crime, skyrocketing commercial property taxes, business leader says

"There’s a sense of no plan," Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce chief Jack Lavin said. "Our businesses .... They want to know how are we’re gonna solve the violence and the public safety problem this week. This weekend. Tomorrow."

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Lightfoot accused of abdicating responsibility for retail crime wave

"The biggest problem for all of us is that our leaders who need to sit down … and work on it are pointing fingers at each other as opposed to working constructively with us," said Rob Karr, president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association.

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House majority leader reflects on his crowning achievement: Leading crusade to legalize gay marriage in Illinois

Greg Harris noted much of his career has been shaped by living for decades after diagnosed as HIV-positive. "I’m one of the few friends from that era that actually survived. … A lot of the stuff I do today is to honor them and the things they would have done if they had been here."

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Lightfoot urged to give Police Supt. David Brown a few more months to turn around ‘crime pandemic’ or dump him

"I am not at all ... happy with CPD and their leadership. They need to step up in a big way and stop this crime pandemic themselves," Ald. George Cardenas (12th), the mayor’s deputy floor leader, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

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Lightfoot staying above the fray in messy remap battle — for now

Lightfoot promised to create an independent commission to draw new ward boundaries to coincide with the 2020 Census, but has taken no steps to honor that promise.

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Civic Federation president urges Lightfoot to pull out all stops to keep Bears in Chicago

As the head of Chicago’s foremost taxpayer watchdog group, Laurence Msall might be expected to urge fiscal caution. But Msall said losing the Bears would be a blow the city should try hard to avoid.

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Rosa Escareno signs a 90-day contract as interim CEO of Chicago Park District, but she’s open to staying longer

Escareno acknowledged a housecleaning and a culture change are needed in the Beaches and Pools Division, and she has carte blanche to do both.

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New Streets and San boss proposes adding 10-cent deposit on bottles and cans

Newly appointed Commissioner Cole Stallard told the Sun-Times that bottle deposits "work in other locations" to boost recycling and "shift responsibility to manufacturers ... [to] use plastics that are sustainable."

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CPS CEO Pedro Martinez talks gun violence, vaccine mandates, CTU and more

After his first week on the job, Martinez sat for an interview with Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman.

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New CPS CEO says he agreed to 5-year contract

Pedro Martinez’s deal to lead Chicago’s schools is longer than his predecessor’s and likely to be far more lucrative.

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As CPS enrollment plummets again, new CEO says ‘tough decisions’ lie ahead

CPS CEO Pedro Martinez said preliminary data shows 327,000 students enrolled at CPS this year, about 14,000 fewer than last year and nearly 30,000 less than the year before the pandemic.

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Lightfoot stalled universal basic income pilot to use it as budget sweetener, former floor leader says

Ald. Gilbert Villegas said 5,000 of Chicago’s neediest families could have been getting $500 monthly checks since spring had the mayor not dragged her feet. Dozens of U.S. cities and towns already have such programs.

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Black Caucus Chairman Jason Ervin delivers early endorsement of Lightfoot reelection

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has said it’s "not a gimme" she will seek a second term. If Lightfoot does run again, she’ll have a powerful ally in her corner: Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), chairman of the Chicago City Council’s Black Caucus.

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City treasurer determined to reverse lending inequities by depositing tax dollars in smaller, local banks

Banks designated as "municipal depositories" have long been accused of investing far more in majority white neighborhoods than they in communities of color. City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin is trying to change that.

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Remote work is here to stay — at least two days a week, top mayoral aide says

World Business Chicago CEO Michael Fassnacht said the stay-at-home shutdown that forced many employees to work from home has created an appetite for remote work that will survive COVID-19 and all of its variants.

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Chicago Police Department to spend $150M on overtime despite mayor’s vow to rein it in

"Given what they’re working through this summer, we’re trying to support the police department in their operational needs," Budget Director Susie Park said Thursday.

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Vallas to Lightfoot: Stop using pandemic as ‘excuse’ for police hiring slowdown

Former mayoral challenger Paul Vallas, a lead contract negotiator for the Fraternal Order of Police, said there are 1,000 vacancies among rank-and-file officers — and that 143 budgeted positions at the rank of sergeant remain unfilled.

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Compromise on civilian oversight gave mayor final say on superintendent, policy — but it won’t ever come to that, alderman says

Ald. Roderick Sawyer, among the Council’s prime backers of civilian oversight, predicted if things are so dire a no-confidence vote is needed, "that person is pretty much out the door anyway" and might even be fired before aldermen weigh in.

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After 30 years and four mayors, Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Rosa Escareño calling it quits

Escareño, whose widowed mother of six brought her to Chicago from Mexico at age 8, says she is simply ready for the next chapter in her life after the emotional roller-coaster of her final year on the job.

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New fire commissioner fleshes out plan to reduce response time to medical emergencies

Instead of adding ambulances to the Chicago Fire Department’s fleet, Annette Nance-Holt will buy smaller vehicles, each staffed by two paramedics, to respond to less serious calls that do not require transport to a hospital.

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Lightfoot said she didn’t want a rubber-stamp City Council — and aldermen are taking her at her word, floor leader says

"I don’t see it as a rebellion…I see aldermen being much more aggressive about what they want, how they want it and when they can get it," said Ald. Michelle Harris (8th).

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Fran Spielman interviews former Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass

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Some City Council members wavering on renaming Lake Shore Drive, alderman says

After a poll showed a lack of majority support for renaming the road DuSable Drive, "a couple of their aldermen are reconsidering their position ... they know this is not something that their constituents support" Ald. Brian Hopkins said Thursday.

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Votes are there to rename Lake Shore Drive for DuSable over mayor’s objections, alderman says

"We do have the votes. ... That’s why there’s all of these moves to try and … deter our colleagues from their first inclination," Ald. Sophia King said, calling the more costly alternatives that have been suggested "kind of insulting."

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Welch predicts House passage of bill creating 21-member elected school board in Chicago

"I like the bill because it’s a move towards a fully-elected school board," House Speaker Chris Welch told the Sun-Times. "I’m a product of an elected school board and believe that elections work."

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10 p.m. liquor sales cutoff ‘not written in stone,’ top mayoral aide says

The proposal to permanently cut off liquor sales in retail stores at 10 p.m. has emerged as the most controversial element of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s sweeping pandemic relief package, which was unveiled Wednesday.

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Lightfoot ‘can’t be written off completely’ but has ‘a lot of work to do’ to have shot at re-election, BGA president says

If BGA President and CEO David Greising were a teacher filling out Lightfoot’s report card, he’d say she has the most "room for improvement" in the category of "works well with others."

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Foxx says she should have known what prosecutor would say in court about police shooting of Adam Toledo

"My name is on the door. ... I don’t believe in pushing blame or the buck," State’s Attorney Kim Foxx told the Sun-Times. "The public was relying on information that our office presented to the court and the media relied upon that wasn’t fully accurate. I own that."

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Stress-induced drug use during pandemic is reason to de-criminalize harder drugs: Foxx

"Especially in this last year with COVID — overdose deaths were at a high. Those people weren’t criminals. They were people who were suffering," Foxx told the Sun-Times.

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Foxx disgusted by Burke’s anti-Semitic remark — but not enough to return $30K from fundraiser at his house

"I can be outraged by what I’ve seen and still do the work that the people elected me to do," Foxx told the Sun-Times.

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Fran Spielman interviews Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg

Sandberg, 61, recently joined the Cubs as a multiplatform analyst. He will be part of game broadcasts as well as pregame and postgame shows, podcasts and interview shows.