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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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Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Cole Stallard

Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman is joined by Cole Stallard, a Streets and Sanitation “lifer” who worked his way up through the ranks and earned the right to replace retired Commissioner John Tully. Stallard embraced the idea of adding a ten-cent deposit to the cost of bottles and cans to reduce the mountain of plastics and other containers overwhelming landfills and discussed plans he's put in place to combat snow season that's mere weeks away in Chicago.

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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.

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CTA, Metra and Pace urged to test sharply reduced fares or no fares to lure back riders lost during pandemic

MarySue Barrett, retiring president of the Metropolitan Planning Council, said something dramatic must be done to rebuild rider confidence after a yearlong, work-at-home stretch that left all three mass-transit agencies reeling.

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New CEO of Chicago History Museum has plan to build and diversify attendance

Donald Lassere is returning to his hometown of Chicago with a plan to make the museum more interactive and exciting and to build and diversify a clientele that is now "more than 80%" white in a majority-minority city.

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CPD suffers ‘deficit of trust’ from public, officers, deputy inspector general says

Deborah Witzburg, the city’s deputy inspector general for public safety, argued "transparency" is key to rebuilding public trust. But restoring the confidence of front-line officers who feel under siege will be even more difficult.

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Lightfoot accused of ‘going her own way’ on issues pivotal to progressive voters

Ald. Maria Hadden (49th) cites four examples where Lightfoot has failed to deliver for progressives with potential to undermine the mayor’s chances for reelection.

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Retiring fire commissioner sounds the alarm about surge in fire fatalities

Chicago ended 2020 with 22 fire deaths, half as many as in 2019. But as of Feb. 25 there have been 13 fire fatalities this year. That alarms retiring Fire Commissioner Richard Ford II.

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Chicago calls in reinforcements to fight the snow that won’t quit

For the first time since the Super Bowl Blizzard of 2015, the city has asked private contractors to help haul snow away from Chicago side streets.

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Return to CPS high schools could lead to 2nd battle over reopening, CTU leaders warn

CPS has said it plans to make no changes to remote learning, which Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Stacy Davis Gates said is a "slap in the face" for students who will continue to take classes from home.

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Storied career of Chicago’s ‘cultural historian emeritus’ continues, even in ‘retirement’

Tim Samuelson said his dad took him aside as a kid and said, "This history stuff is well and good. But what are you going to do for REAL job?" More than three decades later, his "real job" worked out pretty well.

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SC Johnson steps forward to fund Beale’s $250,000 Roseland ‘cop house’

"This is a great tool that they fund elsewhere. They wanted to bring it to my community," Ald. Anthony Beale told the Sun-Times. "To have a Fortune 100 company step up to the plate in my ward is really a tribute to what we’ve been able to do out here."