Deborah Witzburg was confirmed on April 27 as the city’s new Inspector General after the office spent more than six months in a transitory state that she and her predecessor say never should have been allowed to happen. Witzburg sat down last week with The Daily Line’s Alex Nitkin to talk about how she got involved in government oversight, how she plans to balance simultaneously investigating and collaborating with the City Council, what meaningful police reform would look like and how the process to choose her eventual successor should change so the six-month waiting period is not repeated.
Chicagoans are set on June 28 to vote for everything from governor and Secretary of State to county commissioners and, likely, a new Chicago ward map. But how does a city prepare for a primary, general and municipal election all set to occur in less than a year’s time? The Daily Line’s Erin Hegarty talked to Max Bever of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners about election prep, what’s on the June ballot, the variety of ways Chicagoans can cast their ballots and what’s next in the evolution of how people vote.
The Illinois General Assembly passed HB1091 in the final hours of the spring session to crack down on organized retail crime and smash-and-grabs that have become a nemesis for business owners along the Magnificent Mile and at stores in suburban shopping malls. It was one of several bills lawmakers passed at the end of session to address concerns about public safety. Illinois Retail Merchants Association CEO Rob Karr led the push for the bill and sat down with The Daily Line’s Ben Szalinski to talk about what the bill does, address some criticism after Republicans said the bill was too weak, and give listeners an inside perspective of the negotiations and how the bill was agreed to in the final hours of session.
For months, The Daily Line has been teaming up with WBEZ and Crain’s Chicago Business to calculate how often all 50 aldermen have been absent from meetings of their assigned City Council committee meetings between May 2019 and December 2021. The resulting project, published on Monday, includes a deep dive into how the results break down, what they mean for the way the council conducts business, and what it says about power (and the lack thereof) in the City Council. In this cross-over episode with the AD Q&A podcast, Crain’s reporter A.D. Quig talks to Alex Nitkin and Erin Hegarty of The Daily Line and Claudia Morell of WBEZ about what this investigation tells us about Chicago government in 2022.
The COVID-19 pandemic put Cook County in the position of having to overseeing triage and recovery for more than 120 suburban municipalities — first with CARES Act funds and now with $1 billion in aid from the American Rescue Plan. Cook County Chief Financial Officer Ammar Rizki sat down with The Daily Line’s Alex Nitkin to talk about how the county got into position to weather the pandemic’s fiscal storm without hiking taxes, and how county leaders are hoping to make the federal money last while following through on a pledge not to spend any of the dollars on policing or incarceration.
Ald. Anthony Beale (9) has been pushing since last June for members of the City Council to have their own legal counsel, separate from Chicago’s Corporation Counsel charged with representing the city’s interests as a whole. The addition would also bring aldermen their own parliamentarian to advocate on their behalf when there are disagreements over process during City Council meetings. But Beale’s proposal has hit delay after delay as other aldermen seek to introduce their own proposals for legislative legal counsel. Beale talked to The Daily Line’s ErinHegarty about his proposed ordinance, which ward map he supports and what the rest of the year holds for the 9th Ward.
Since the beginning of 2022, Department of Children and Family Services Director Marc Smith has been found in contempt of court multiple times by a Cook County judge for failing to place children in appropriate care settings in a reasonable amount of time. Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert explains what is going on in an interview with The Daily Line’s Ben Szalinski. The department has also been mourning the murder of Diedre Silas., a DCFS employee who was killed visiting a home in Sangamon County. Sen. Steve McClure (R-Springfield) also sits down for an interview to explain legislation moving through the General Assembly to improve employee safety.
After 11 years overseeing the department that manages the city’s properties and equipment, Commissioner David Reynolds is stepping down to take on a new role at the Obama Foundation, he announced in an exclusive interview with The Daily Line’s Alex Nitkin. Reynolds defended the Department of Fleet and Facility Management’s 2020 merger with the Department of Innovation and Technology to become the new Department of Assets, Information and Services — a move that some still say was a mistake. He also gave an update on the city’s negotiations with ComEd over a new franchise agreement, and he described the city’s efforts to switch to renewable energy and upgrade its software technology.
Going back to his days as a 20-year-old member of the Elmwood Park school board, Pete Silvestri has always been a mediator. Now that Silvestri is about to retire from politics after 28 years as a Cook County Commissioner on the Northwest Side, he sat down with The Daily Line’s Alex Nitkin to reflect on his legacy and the ways he’s tried to soothe conflicts while moving the county past its legacy of outdated systems and clout-based hiring. He also talked about how today’s elected leaders can bridge partisan divides, and he described what kind of candidate he would support to fill his seat.
Ald. Silvana Tabares represents the 23rd Ward on the Southwest Side and also serves as vice-chair of the City Council’s Latino Caucus. As the city’s remap process continues to heat up and drag on past a critical December deadline, Tabares has helped lead the push for the adoption of the so-called “Coalition Map” spearheaded by the Latino caucus and the proposal for a new set of protocols for the remap process. Tabares talked to The Daily Line’s Erin Hegarty about what a new map could mean for the city and the 23rd Ward, issues facing residents in her ward and possible legislation on the horizon this year.