Stories by Heather Cherone

(WTTW News)

Facing Tough Reelection Battle, Lightfoot Finds Herself Losing City Council Allies

It is nearly unprecedented for City Council committee chairs to urge the defeat of the mayor that hand-picked them for their high-profile positions, which comes with power at City Hall and an annual budget of nearly $200,000.

Sean Estelle speaks during the Feb. 1, 2023, Chicago City Council meeting. (WTTW News)

Chicago Police Eject Resident Who Spoke Against ComEd Deal from City Council Meeting

Sean Estelle told WTTW News they believed they were “politically targeted” because their remarks angered Mayor Lori Lightfoot. 

(WTTW News)

Defying Objections, City Opens Temporary Shelter for Immigrants in Shuttered Woodlawn School

The former Wadsworth Elementary School had been set to open as a shelter in early January, but an uproar forced Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to delay her plans for nearly a month as she and other city officials sought to address concerns from residents.

Norfolk Southern locomotive. (WTTW News)

Englewood Rail Yard Expansion Back on Track With Ald. Taylor’s Support

A years-long effort by the Norfolk Southern Railway to double the size of its storage yard in Englewood finally got signal clearance.

An image from the original version of the ad released by Jesús "Chuy" García showing uniformed Chicago Police Department officers. (YouTube / Chuy for Chicago)

Ethics Board Warns Candidates: Don’t Use Uniformed Cops in Your Ads

The unsigned advisory opinion, issued Monday by the Chicago Board of Ethics, was prompted by a spate of campaign ads showing uniformed Chicago police officers and several complaints, officials said.

(WTTW News)

Proposed ComEd Deal Brokered by Lightfoot Blocked From Advancing at Council Meeting

In a joint statement with ComEd released hours before she officially presented the massive deal to the City Council, Lightfoot touted the agreement as “a big win for Chicago” that will “accelerate an equitable transition to clean, renewable energy.”

Paul Vallas and Mayor Lori Lightfoot. (WTTW News)

Chicago’s Elections are Nonpartisan, But Lori Lightfoot Is Working to Cast Paul Vallas as a Republican

Paul Vallas is a Democrat, but acknowledged that the Democratic Party has moved away from him on some issues, including charter schools.

(WTTW News)

Chicago City Council Gets First Look at 15-Year Deal with ComEd Brokered by Lightfoot

The Chicago City Council could vote on the deal as soon as March 1 – one day after Mayor Lori Lightfoot and City Council members ask voters for new four-year terms in office.

(WTTW News)

Key City Panel Endorses Effort to Crack Down on Those Who Attack Cops, Firefighters

The measure, backed by 18 members of the City Council, won the unanimous endorsement of the City Council’s Public Safety committee and heads to the full City Council on Wednesday for a final vote.

WTTW News Explains: Why Are Chicago Elections Nonpartisan?

When Chicagoans go to the polls to vote for mayor, there’s a crucial piece of information missing from their ballots: the candidates’ political parties. WTTW News Explains tells you the reasons why. 

(Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

COVID-19 Drops Down to ‘Low Risk’ Across Chicago, Cook County: Federal Officials

During the past seven days, an average of 31 people have been hospitalized each day in Chicago from COVID-19, down more than 40% during the past week, according to city data last updated Wednesday.

An illustration of an email sent to an unspecified number of CPS teachers from the Lightfoot campaign. (WTTW News)

CPS Officials Immediately Told Lightfoot’s Campaign Emails to Teachers Were Inappropriate, Records Show

At least 168 teachers received the email from Megan Crane, whose LinkedIn page identifies her as the deputy campaign manager for Lightfoot, starting at 8:33 a.m. on Jan. 11 and continuing for several hours, according to records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

(WTTW News)

How to Vote Early — But Not Often — For Chicago Mayor, City Council, Police District Council

All Chicagoans can cast their votes early at the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners supersite at 191 N. Clark St. and the board’s office at 69 W. Washington St., 6th floor. An early voting location will open in each of Chicago’s 50 wards on Feb. 13.

U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García appears on Chicago Tonight” on Nov. 22, 2022. (WTTW News)

García Edits First Television Ad to Remove Uniformed Chicago Cops After Probe Launched

A spokesperson for the Jesús “Chuy” García campaign told WTTW News the ad was revised out of an “abundance of caution.”

(WTTW News)

Push to Reopen Public Mental Health Clinics Closed 11 Years Ago Defines Another Chicago Mayor’s Race

A majority of candidates hoping to oust Mayor Lori Lightfoot from City Hall’s fifth floor office have pledged to reopen public mental health clinics. Lightfoot said her network of nonprofit Trauma-Informed Centers of Care provide better and more accessible service. 

Mayor Lori Lightfoot celebrates the opening of the new public safety training facility in West Garfield Park, which has been named in honor of slain Chicago Police Commander Paul Bauer and Firefighter MaShawn Plummer, who died while battling a fire. (Chicago Mayor’s Office)

Lightfoot Celebrates Opening of New Police, Fire Training Academy She Once Opposed

The facility includes a “scenario village” that features multiple two- and three-flat residential brick buildings complete with fences, curbs, alleys, sidewalks, yards, back stairways, porches, basements and garages. It will also include a new 18,000-square-foot location Boys & Girls Club and two restaurants. 

Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th Ward) on the floor of the Chicago City Council. (WTTW News)

Chicago Ethics Board Asks Watchdog to Probe Ald. Gardiner For Harassing Opponent’s Volunteers

The Chicago Board of Ethics first asked the city's watchdog to probe Gardiner in 2021 after complaints he used his power as an alderperson to retaliate against critics.

An illustration of an email sent to an unspecified number of CPS teachers from the Lightfoot campaign. (WTTW News)

Ethics Board Asks City, CPS Inspector Generals to Probe Lightfoot Campaign Emails Sent to Teachers, College Instructors

The Chicago Board of Ethics voted unanimously to ask both the Chicago inspector general and the Chicago Public Schools inspector general to probe emails sent by Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s campaign to CPS teachers and City Colleges instructors.

(WTTW News)

Chicago Police Face Renewed Questions About Extremist Cops as Lightfoot Dismisses Concerns

Twice in the past three months, probes by the city’s watchdog have uncovered ties between members of the Chicago Police Department and far-right extremist groups that have clashed with the United States government.

Norfolk Southern locomotive. (WTTW News)

Englewood Rail Yard Expansion Derailed After Ald. Taylor Balks at ‘Disrespect’

A years-long effort by the Norfolk Southern Railway to double the size of its storage yard in Englewood failed to pass the Chicago City Council after Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th Ward) blocked a vote. 

(WTTW News)

Swept Into Office by Promises of Reform, Lightfoot Faces New Scrutiny on Ethics Record

Lori Lightfoot’s bid for reelection has been weighed down by a growing amount of evidence that she has governed at times more like an old-school machine politician than a reformer.

(WTTW News)

Lightfoot Backs Plan to Use Cameras to Bust Drivers Who Park in Bus, Bicycle Lanes

The Chicago City Council could vote on what the mayor’s office called a “small scale” pilot program as soon as Feb. 1 — less than a month before Election Day.

(Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)

City Council Unanimously Votes to Expand Protections for Trans Chicagoans and Those Seeking Abortions

The Chicago Commission on Human Relations now has the authority to investigate complaints of housing discrimination or retaliation. The commission will work with the city’s Office of Labor Standards to probe complaints of workplace discrimination or retaliation, according to the new law.

(WTTW News)

Early Voting for Chicago Mayor, City Council Starts Jan. 26 Downtown, Expands Citywide Feb. 13

Early voting sites will open to all Chicago voters and voter registration services will be available.

U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García appears on Chicago Tonight” on Nov. 22, 2022. (WTTW News)

García Blasts Lightfoot on Public Safety, Vows Collaboration — Not ‘Finger Pointing, Insults’

Mayoral challenger U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García took direct aim at Mayor Lori Lightfoot Friday, blasting her for failing to prevent a tide of crime and violence in the city. 

(WTTW News)

Chicago Police Officer Who Admitted Being a Member of the Oath Keepers Won’t Be Fired: City Watchdog

The Oath Keepers organization is considered by the FBI to be a “large but loosely organized collection of individuals, some who are associated with militias” who have vowed to “not obey unconstitutional (and thus illegal) and immoral orders.”