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Politics

Political news, including Chicago City Hall, Cook County government, Chicago and county elections, the latest from Washington and Springfield and more.

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Are COVID-19 jobless benefits keeping ‘healthy, able-bodied workers’ at home? Republicans, Pritzker disagree

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Lightfoot plans to keep wearing mask despite CDC guidance

"To say, ‘If you’re vaccinated, you don’t have to wear a mask.’ that’s great. But what about all of the other people who ... aren’t vaccinated? So I think ... most people are gonna continue to wear masks outside of their homes. And I think that’s great." the mayor said Monday on MSNBC.

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Mask off? Pritzker eases face covering rules, supports those still wearing them — including himself

Asked about his face covering at an unrelated news conference on Monday, Pritzker said he thinks all residents "are going to have to adjust to the idea" of not needing to wear a mask. "I have to think about it a little more, I must admit," Pritzker said.

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The Fran Spielman Show

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David Greising, president and CEO of the Better Government Association

Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman is joined by David Greising, president and CEO of the Better Government Association, to discuss Mayor Lightfoot's progress as she approaches midterm.

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Pritzker announces federal grants to help make rent payments, end to eviction moratorium in August

The rental assistance program is expected to provide about 120,000 renters some relief. Struggling homeowners will also be able to tap into $400 million in mortgage assistance starting later in the summer, Pritzker said.

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Black Caucus backs civilian police oversight compromise over Lightfoot’s objection

The Black Caucus joins the City Council’s Hispanic and Progressive caucuses in supporting the plan. Mayor Lori Lightfoot opposes it, but Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa said the three caucuses provide enough votes to override a veto.

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Feds charge 2 more Illinoisans in U.S. Capitol breach as massive investigation continues

Douglas K. Wangler allegedly told one witness, "if walking around and singing some patriotic songs is a crime then I guess I am guilty."

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Gaetz associate pleads guilty to sex trafficking charges

Joel Greenberg, a longtime associate of Gaetz, appeared in federal court in Orlando. He pleaded guilty to six of the nearly three dozen charges he faced, including sex trafficking of a minor, and he admitted that he had paid at least one underage girl to have sex with him and other men.

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Biden expresses ‘support’ for cease-fire in Netanyahu call

President Joe Biden stopped short of joining the growing demands from Democrats and others for an immediate cease-fire in the fighting.

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Supreme Court to weigh rollback of abortion rights

The Supreme Court has agreed to consider a major rollback of abortion rights, saying it will take up Mississippi’s bid to enforce a 15-week ban on abortion.

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Andrew Cuomo set to earn $5M from book on COVID-19 crisis

The Democrat had, for months, declined to say how much money he made from writing "American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From the COVID-19 Pandemic."

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Biden to boost world vaccine sharing commitment to 80M doses

The doses would come from existing U.S. production of Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine stocks, according White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

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No evidence Hamas operated in Gaza building housing media: Blinken

Israel destroyed a building housing The Associated Press and Al Jazeera and claimed that Hamas used the building for a military intelligence office.

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Tom Dart says he’s spent $38 million during the pandemic on inmates who should have been in state prisons

The Cook County sheriff has told the head of the Illinois Department of Corrections he wants to begin sending hundreds of inmates from the county jail to the state prison system.

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Illinois reports 1,248 new COVID-19 cases, additional 24 virus-related deaths

State health officials reported 1,248 new coronavirus cases, the fewest cases reported in a day since March 22.

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CDC director says mask turnaround based solely on science

The head of the CDC on Sunday defended the decision to ease mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, stressing that increasing political pressure had nothing to do with the abrupt shift in guidelines.

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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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Marjorie Taylor Greene’s combative behavior could spark ethics review

The incidents with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez add to a portrait of the activist-turned-lawmaker who has shown little interest in governing, but has instead used her platform to float conspiracy theories, push Donald Trump’s false claims about a stolen 2020 election and further her own notoriety.

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Marine Corps major from Chicago pushing for U.S. visa for Afghan interpreter he says saved troops’ lives

When he left Afghanistan, Maj. Thomas Schueman left behind a young Afghan he says probably saved his life and those of many others. Now, he’s trying to help that man escape the Taliban.

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Apologies, accusations and heartache mark legislative hearings on COVID-19 deaths at state veterans’ home

Testifying before a House panel on Thursday, Deputy Gov. Sol Flores stuck to the administration’s contention that the state’s former veterans affairs chief was to blame, even as Flores apologized on behalf of the administration, saying "every single person involved could have done more to save your loved ones."

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Masks still on the menu? Faces must stay covered at Chicago bars, restaurants while city mulls final rules

"It’s just adding confusion to things for us," manager Vanessa Cobbins said ahead of the lunch rush at MacArthur’s Restaurant in the Austin neighborhood. "We had problems trying to keep the masks on in the first place."

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Pritzker to lawmakers: Fix your bills so they work in the real world, or get vetoed

"Every other day we’re going through bill review [and saying] ‘That doesn’t even make sense. We can’t do that,’" said one exasperated high-level administration official.

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Oklahoma bucks red-state trend, extends early voting

Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, signed legislation this week that adds a day to in-person early voting in the state and an extra hour to Saturday early voting, and it also makes changes to ensure mail-in ballots are received in time to be counted.

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Unrest after George Floyd’s killing left Lightfoot administration struggling: ‘We are so behind [it’s] ridiculous’

Leaked emails offer a window into a critical period of the mayor’s first term in office.

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Gaetz associate agrees to cooperate in federal investigation

Joel Greenberg is expected to plead guilty to six federal charges — including sex trafficking of a child — during a court appearance in Orlando on Monday.

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Gun used in Hyde Park-to-Evanston killing spree likely used in prior South Side shootings

Newly obtained police reports link the Glock handgun Jason Nightengale used in his Jan. 9 rampage to five other shootings on the South Side between 2009 and 2016.

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In Pilsen, Giant Penny Whistle tavern’s opening a sign of alderman’s rift with Lightfoot

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration OK’d the project despite a liquor license moratorium and opposition from neighborhood residents and Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez.

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Company that got nearly $300M in city contracts banned for lying that workers lived in Chicago

Joel Kennedy admits payroll records were falsified, blames a former partner and threatens to sue if City Hall doesn’t drop the ban, which he says would put him out of business.

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Jen Psaki on Rahm Emanuel being tapped for Japan ambassador: ‘I know there’s a lot of interest in this’

"I do expect we’ll have more in the coming weeks on nominating ambassadors," Psaki said, "to serve in — obviously, once confirmed — important posts around the world, and Japan is certainly one of those."

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Pritzker dangles free Six Flags tickets to spur vaccinations: ‘It feels once again like summer is in the air’

The state’s latest effort in incentivize COVID-19 shots comes as kids as young as 12 become eligible to receive them — and as overall vaccine demand continues to dip.

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Illinois top Dems pushing Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to allow new COVID funds to pay ‘unique’ debt

After taking on $3.8 billion in short-term borrowings last year, new federal COVID relief funds proposed rules that ban the state from using the money to pay down that debt.

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Vax yes? Mask no! Pritzker to ease Illinois rules on face coverings for fully vaccinated following CDC update

The updated guidelines remove the need for masks or social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated and would also allow them to go without a mask in crowds outdoors.

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Trump’s big lie creates new truth: Democrats must chart new legislative maps to lead us back to sanity

Highly-populated Democratic states such as Illinois already have a built-in disadvantage in both the U.S. Senate and the Electoral College. It makes no sense to unilaterally disarm and cede whatever power Democrats have to influence the House of Representatives and state legislatures, too.

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Mayoral ally demands an end to block party blockade

Ald. Tom Tunney wants to know why there have been no health guidelines released, no applications processed and no block party permits issued with just over two weeks to go before Memorial Day.

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Chicago’s less-than-favorite son could rise in Japan

Having worked his magic in Chicago, Rahm Emanuel is now said to be headed to Japan.

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Millennium Park bicycle center gets new operator for first time since 2004 opening

Shift Transit, whose CEO launched Divvy, will operate the McDonald’s Cycle Center, though several aldermen complained about fees Shift plans to charge for showers, locker room and towel services and bike parking and rental.