Stories by Heather Cherone

Work is underway at a base camp for migrants in Brighton Park on Dec. 1, 2023. (WTTW News)

Illinois Officials Stop Construction of Chicago Base Camp for Migrants as Environmental Review Continues

Work will not resume Tuesday, while the review of the 800-page report by Illinois Environmental Protection Agency officials continues, said Jordan Abudayyeh, a spokesperson for Gov. J.B. Pritzker. 

Chicago City Hall. (Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)

Move to Limit Access to City Council Meetings ‘Likely Illegal,’ Better Government Association Warns Mayor

New restrictions on where members of the public can sit during meetings of the Chicago City Council are “inequitable and likely illegal,” David Greising, president of the Better Government Association, warned Mayor Brandon Johnson. 

Work is underway at a base camp for migrants in Brighton Park on Dec. 1, 2023. (WTTW News)

Land Set to Become Base Camp Safe for Migrants After Removal of Polluted Soil, Addition of Stone Barrier, City Says

Construction began earlier this week in Brighton Park on the massive tents that will house at least some of the more than 1,000 migrants living in police stations across the city and at O’Hare Airport.

Lawyers and defendants in the Ed Burke trial appear before Judge Virgina Kendall on Nov. 30, 2023. (WTTW News)

Prosecutors Finish Making Case Ex-Ald. Ed Burke Held Up Redevelopment of Old Post Office Until His Law Firm Was Hired

Former Ald. Ed Burke faces 14 criminal charges, including racketeering, bribery and extortion, in a case that accuses Burke of using his powerful position at City Hall to force those doing business with the city to hire his private law firm, formerly known as Klafter & Burke.

(WTTW News)

Johnson Drops Plan to House Migrants at Amundsen Park Field House After Backlash

“The imminent addition of significant new shelter space,” means the Amundsen Park field house is no longer needed as a migrant shelter, Mayor Brandon Johnson said.

U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Kendall denied a defense motion for a mistrial on Nov. 30, 2023. (WTTW News)

Jurors Hear Ex-Ald. Ed Burke Ask Solis if They ‘Landed the Tuna’ After Judge Rejects Defense Plea for Mistrial

Some of Ald. Ed Burke’s turns of phrase have already become an indelible part of Chicago’s long history of political corruption. They are also now evidence in a federal trial.

A still photo from video secretly recorded by Ald. Danny Solis shows Ald. Ed Burke speaking on the phone in his office on Sept. 26, 2016. (U.S. Attorney’s Office)

‘If Ald. Burke Asked You Questions It Could Be Terrifying’: ‘Fear Factor’ Takes Center Stage in Corruption Trial

Burke is charged with what prosecutors say are four criminal schemes, three involving the former alderperson’s side hustle as a property tax attorney. Perhaps the most elaborate scheme Burke is charged with involves the Old Post Office.

Members of the Chicago City Council meet on Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (WTTW News)

Aldermanic Prerogative Fuels Segregation and Violates Black, Latino Chicagoans’ Civil Rights: Federal Officials

A probe by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found that aldermanic prerogative has created a hyper-segregated city rife with racism and gentrification.

Mayor Brandon Johnson looks on as Grace and Peace Church Pastor John Zayas speaks about efforts to help shelter the 1,250 migrants sleeping at Chicago police stations and at O’Hare International Airport on Nov. 28, 2023. (Heather Cherone / WTTW News)

Brandon Johnson Touts Renewed Effort by Churches to House Migrants, As Brighton Park Base Camp Construction Begins

Mayor Brandon Johnson touted what he called the “Unity Initiative” as his city officials announced that crews will start building the frame of a winterized base camp to shelter as many as 2,000 people near 38th Street and California Avenue as soon as Wednesday.

Protesters stand at the entrance of a Brighton Park lot that will eventually be used as a base camp for migrants arriving in Chicago on Nov. 27, 2023. (WTTW News)

State Officials to Use $65M to Build Brighton Park Base Camp, Transform Little Village CVS into Migrant Shelter

While the shelters will be a part of the city’s shelter system, state funds will be used to build the facilities, operate the shelter and provide services, including conflict resolution. There are now nearly 12,800 migrants in city-run shelters, an all-time high.

Clayton Harris III, an attorney and lecturer at the University of Chicago running for Cook County State’s Attorney, files his petitions to get on the ballot. (Heather Cherone/WTTW News)

Election 2024 Gets Underway as Candidates for County, State, Congressional Races File Petitions

In the run up to the March primary election, the spotlight for Chicago-area voters will focus on races for state’s attorney, circuit court clerk, a key seat in the Illinois House to represent the city’s Northwest Side and two Congressional contests.

(WTTW News)

Ethics Board Urges Chicago City Council to Tighten Rules to Stop Campaign Cash Pleas to City Employees

The board’s ruling could also complicate efforts to hold public officials or candidates responsible for other kinds of violations, unless the City Council acts to change the law, sources told WTTW News.

A vacant lot at 38th Street and California Avenue in the Brighton Park neighborhood is the proposed site of a winterized base camp for migrants. (WTTW News)

Construction to Start Monday to Transform Vacant Brighton Park Lot Into ‘Winterized Base Camp’ for Migrants: Ald. Ramirez

Ald. Julia Ramirez (12th Ward) said Mayor Brandon Johnson’s office informed her late Friday that work would begin Monday on the base camp over her objections and after the discovery of “toxic metals” on the site.

Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel appears on “Week in Review” on Nov. 24, 2023. (WTTW News)

‘Not the First Time I Have Ever Dealt With Antisemitism’: Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel After Michigan Home Vandalized with the Word ‘Nazis’

“The most fundamental thing is you don’t allow someone’s hatred to infiltrate how you see people,” Rahm Emanuel said. “There is a fundamental goodness in people. I have seen it, I have been a product of it. Have I had antisemitism directed at me? Yes, but I’ve also had the American story.”

Lawyers and defendants in the Ed Burke trial appear before Judge Virgina Kendall on Nov. 16, 2023. (WTTW News)

‘I Perceived It as a Threat’: Field Museum Official Testifies in Trial of Ex-Ald. Ed Burke

The jury heard the first direct testimony from someone who prosecutors allege Burke sought to extort by weaponizing his powerful position as chair of the City Council’s Finance Committee and the longest serving member of the City Council. 

Migrants outside a Chicago police station. (WTTW News)

City Officials Set Mid-January Deadline for Some Migrants to Leave City Shelters; Rest Will Have to Leave by April

The new policy could mean more than 3,000 people will lose their beds in city shelters by early February, with the rest forced out by April.

Former Ald. Ed Burke in federal court before U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Kendall on Nov. 16, 2023. (WTTW News)

Dueling Portrayals of Ex-Ald. Ed Burke Take Shape as Opening Statements Begin: ‘Bribe-Taker, Extortionist’ Vs. ‘Old School Public Servant’

While prosecutors said former Ald. Ed Burke was a “bribe-taker and an extortionist” who used his elected office to “line his pockets,” Burke’s attorneys said he was an “old school, hardworking public servant” devoted to Chicago and its residents.

The derailed train. (Credit: Chicago Fire Department)

23 People Injured as CTA Train Derails Near Howard Street Station: Officials

Three people were seriously injured, nine suffered moderate injuries and 11 others were not seriously injured but were taken to a hospital, according to Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford. 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker addresses the news media. (Andrew Adams / Capitol News Illinois)

Gov. J.B. Pritzker Announces Plan to Spend Additional $160M to Care for Migrants as Winter Looms

With Congress unwilling to act, Illinois has no chance to step in because lives are at stake, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.

Mayor Brandon Johnson presides over the Nov. 15. 2023, Chicago City Council meeting as his budget is approved. (WTTW News)

Chicago City Council Approves Johnson’s $16.6B Budget Amid Fractious Debate Over Costs to Care for Migrants

The budget, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2024, includes no new taxes, fees or service cuts, making it much easier for alderpeople to back the plan touted by Mayor Brandon Johnson as a down payment on promises to invest in working-class Chicagoans.

Migrants are sleeping in tents outside Chicago police stations. (WTTW News)

Chicago to Limit Migrants to 60 Days in City Shelters as Part of New Approach to Crisis: Johnson

The announcement represents Mayor Brandon Johnson’s first attempt to reduce the city resources available to the migrants currently in the city’s shelter system.

(WTTW News)

Police Commission Votes to Ban Chicago Police Officers from Joining Extremist Groups

The policy approved by the commission bans officers from belonging to hate groups that promote prejudice or those that aim to overthrow the government or interfere with police duties.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot appears on "Chicago Tonight" on Jan. 3, 2023. (WTTW News)

Ethics Board Dismisses Complaint Prompted by Lori Lightfoot’s Campaign Cash Pleas to City Employees

Michael Dorf, former Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s attorney, said the board’s decision “avoided setting a dangerous precedent.”

Mayor Brandon Johnson picked Dr. Olusimbo “Simbo” Ige to lead the Chicago Department of Public Health. (Credit: City of Chicago)

Brandon Johnson Taps Former New York Health Official to Lead Chicago Department of Public Health

Dr. Olusimbo “Simbo” Ige will now be asked to deliver on Mayor Brandon Johnson’s vision of public health for Chicago — while coping with the continuing pandemic.

(Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)

As Backlash Against Chicago’s Sanctuary City Status Gains Steam, Supporters Warn of Consequences

A key vote by the Chicago City Council’s Rules Committee could come as soon as Thursday on a measure that would ask voters during the March primary whether Chicago should remain a sanctuary city.

Chicago City Hall. (Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)

Chicago City Council Votes 36-12 to Ensure Workers Get At Least 10 Days of Paid Time Off

Once the proposal takes effect Dec. 31, Chicago workers will be able to take more sick leave than workers in New York City and Los Angeles. They will also be able to take time off for any reason, not just if they or a family member falls ill, unlike workers in any other U.S. city.