Hey there! It’s Friday, and I’m buying a lottery ticket right now. What would you do if you won $1.1 billion? I’d give my 2-seconds notice at work and buy the naming rights to change things back to the Sears Tower and Comiskey Park. Then I’d build a real-life version of the house from “Family Matters.” Here’s what you need to know today.
1. White House officials are keeping a close eye on Pritzker and other potential 2024 candidates
Officials in the Biden administration are closely watching Gov. JB Pritzker and a handful of other Democrats who may have their eyes on the White House in 2024, reports NBC News.
These officials are using a “charm offensive,” but it has been ineffective partly because it “lacks a traditional enforcer,” the network reports.
“Nobody likes seeing somebody taking out coffins for you. It’s just like — ‘Not so almost. I’ll make this decision,’ ” Democratic donor John Morgan told NBC News. “It’s like they’re going to meet the swim and Biden is the defending gold medalist. But they all got their swimsuits on underneath the pants. They’re ready to get up there and jump as soon as he says ‘go.’ They can’t be walking around the arena just in a swimsuit because that would really piss Biden off.” [NBC News]
2. Nearly 20,000 Cook County residents are holding revoked gun permits
And that means they could have illegal guns in their homes, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.
Arthur Jackson, first deputy chief of police for the Cook County Sheriff’s Police Department, told state lawmakers this week that there is not “enough manpower” to retrieve the revoked gun permits and any possible weapons.
A team of six officers and one sergeant have recovered 881 guns from the homes of those with revoked permits since 2013, the Sun-Times reports.
The news comes after officials with the Cook County sheriff’s office appeared before the bipartisan House Public Safety and Violence Prevention Task Force, which is examining current efforts to curb violence and how the state can take action.
The task force’s work has taken on even greater importance in the wake of the Highland Park mass shooting and gun violence that has surged during the pandemic. [Sun-Times]
3. US officials say monkeypox can still be stopped as San Francisco and New York declare health emergencies
With monkeypox cases in the US nearing 5,000, the Biden administration’s top health official is pushing back against criticism that the federal government dropped the ball and is making the same mistakes as it did with COVID-19.
“We believe we have done everything we can at the federal level to work with our state and local partners and affected communities to make sure we can stay ahead of this and end this outbreak,” Xavier Becerra, head of the Department of Health and Human Services, told reporters on a call. [AP]
In Illinois, the number of confirmed cases has jumped by more than 150 in just one week. The state has reported 396 known cases as of yesterday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A majority of those cases have been reported in Chicago. dr Allison Arwardy, the city’s top public health official, said this week that the number of cases will continue rising as testing becomes more widely available.
4. The US proposes handing over to an Illinois prisoner to Russia in exchange for WNBA star Brittney Griner
The White House this week stepped up its efforts to free American basketball star Brittney Griner and former US Marine Paul Whelan, who are both detained in Russia.
The Biden administration has offered to hand over Viktor Bout, who was the world’s most notorious arms dealer before a US court convicted him in 2011 and sent him to a prison in Illinois, reports NPR.
Bout, who was nicknamed “The Merchant of Death,” was so notorious that Hollywood made a 2005 movie loosely based on his life, called the Lord of War, starring Nicolas Cage. [NPR]
Today, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he talked to his counterpart in Russia about the possible prisoner swap. [Axios]
5. So what happened with that plan to add concrete barriers to protected bike lanes in Chicago?
After a series of fatal traffic accidents raised safety concerns of pedestrians and bicyclists, city officials last month announced a plan to add concrete barriers to 25 miles of protected bike lanes.
But “construction delays have slowed the process,” reports Block Club Chicago.
A spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Transportation told the website the first concrete barriers will go up in a few weeks, and the delay will not impact the larger timetable of adding barriers to all protected lanes by the end of next year. [Block Club Chicago]
Here’s what else is happening
- The US Department of Education has a plan to cancel student debt once President Joe Biden gives the word. [Politico]
- Negotiations over keeping Lollapalooza in Chicago hit a stalemate. [Chicago Tribune]
- Some members of the Chicago City Council want to put the brakes on NASCAR’s downtown street race. [Chicago Sun-Times]
- I like weird things, and Northwest Indiana has a lot of unusual spots to check out. [WBEZ]
Oh, and one more thing…
FX’s The Bear, set in an old-school Italian beef joint in Chicago, is the breakout TV series of summer, partly “thanks to the local actors the show sourced from theaters, restaurants and all walks of life,” writes Kerry Cardoza for WBEZ .
“Chicagoans fiercely guard the way their city is depicted on the screen — as a cursory Twitter search for the phrase ‘Chicago over everything’ will demonstrate — and for showrunners, there’s pressure to get it right,” Cardoza writes.
“The Bear creator Christopher Storer has said location was crucial for the show — after all, he grew up in Park Ridge and is childhood friends with Mr. Beef owner Christopher Zucchero, on whose restaurant the series draws inspiration.” [WBEZ]
Tell me something good…
What’s your favorite song of the summer?
Heather B. writes:
“A DJ played ‘California Soul’ by Marlena Shaw at a party I was at just after the turn of the century. I immediately recognized it from the strings that are sampled in Gang Starr’s ‘Check the Technique’ (1991), though it was the first time I’d heard the original.
“Also, cruising from one end to the other on Lake Shore Drive playing Eddie Cocker’s ‘Feelin’ Alright’ is not a bad way to feel summer. Oh, and ‘Praise You’ from Fat Boy Slim is solid.”
And Jan Walsh writes:
“It’s the season for loving by The Zombies. Yes, it’s old, but whenever I hear it, I can close my eyes and it evokes all the memories of summers when I was young.”
Thanks for all the responses this week. I’m sorry I couldn’t share them all, but it was nice hearing from y’all.