Stories by Heather Cherone

(WTTW News)

New Era of Police Oversight Dawns with Election of District Council Members

Starting in May, each of Chicago’s 22 police districts will be overseen by a three-person council as part of an effort to rebuild trust in the Police Department, which is governed by a court order requiring city leaders to change the way it trains, supervises and disciplines officers.

Ald. Carrie Austin (34th Ward) stands to speak at the Dec. 14, 2022, Chicago City Council meeting. (WTTW News)

Indicted Ald. Carrie Austin Resigns from City Council After 29 Years in Office

Ald. Carrie Austin, 73, who did not seek a seventh term on the Chicago City Council, stepped down the day after Chicago voters went to the polls to pick a new mayor and City Council. 

The nine candidates running for Chicago mayor. (Campaign photos)

Challengers Aim to Block a 2nd Lightfoot Term as Crime, Public Safety Dominate Mayoral and City Council Races

Facing eight challengers, it is unlikely Mayor Lori Lightfoot — or anyone else, for that matter — will win more than 50% of the vote. That means the top two finishers Tuesday night are likely headed to an April 4 runoff.

Jessica "Jessie" Fuentes, left, and Julian Perez are running to replace retiring 26th Ward Ald. Roberto Maldonado. (Provided)

Chicago Police Union Paid for Flyer Exposing City Council Candidate’s Arrest When She Was 17

The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 7’s political action committee made an in-kind contribution of approximately $10,000 to the campaign of Julian “Jumpin’” Perez, who used those funds to pay for the flyers. 

Ald. Matt Martin (47th Ward) and Ald. Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez (33rd Ward) questions Chicago Police Department officials during a Public Safety Committee hearing on Feb. 23, 2023. (WTTW News)

City Council Members Blast Police Brass for Failing to Fire Cops Tied to Proud Boys, Oath Keepers

Members of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee demanded that the leaders of the Chicago Police Department do more to weed out extremists from the department’s ranks.

(WTTW News)

First Installment of 2022 Cook County Property Tax Bills Arrives

The first installment of property owners’ 2022 tax bills will be due approximately a month later than usual because of delays last year, officials said.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot fields questions from the news media on Feb. 20, 2023, after voting at Northeastern Illinois University. (Heather Cherone / WTTW News)

Race Takes Center Stage in Mayoral Election as Lightfoot Blasts Vallas for Using ‘Ultimate Dog Whistle’

In an appearance after casting her ballot, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she believed the Feb. 28 mayoral contest had narrowed to a two-person race between her and former CPS CEO Paul Vallas.

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

Political Funds Backed by Business Leaders Challenge Push by Progressives to Expand Power at City Hall

The Get Stuff Done PAC has raised $1.74 million since early December, including $1 million from Michael Sacks, one of Chicago’s richest men and a frequent donor and adviser to former Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

(WTTW News)

Chicago Board of Ethics Cracks Down on Use of City Property in Campaign Ads

The nine enforcement actions – an unprecedented number for the board to take at a single meeting – were approved at a special meeting of the Chicago Board of Ethics approximately two weeks after Chair William Conlon sent a warning to all candidates: Do not use images of uniformed Chicago police officers, firefighters or city personnel in campaign advertisements.

Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson fields questions from the news media on Feb. 7, 2023, after the WTTW News mayoral forum. (Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)

Johnson Becomes Focus of Attacks as Mayor’s Race Enters Homestretch Amid Swirl of Dark Money

The attacks from Mayor Lori Lightfoot represent a shift in her campaign strategy during the past three weeks. In late January, Lightfoot was publicly dismissive of Johnson’s chances, telling a gathering in Wrigleyville that the Chicago Teachers Union’s pick would not be mayor of Chicago.

A rendering of an aerial view of the Chicago Bears property in Arlington Heights. (Courtesy of Hart Howerton / Chicago Bears)

Bears Move Closer to Leaving Soldier Field with Purchase of Arlington Heights Land

The Chicago Bears are on the verge of leaving its home of 51 years, despite efforts by Mayor Lori Lightfoot to keep the team in Chicago.

A still image from a video taken of the demolition of the Crawford Coal Plant smokestack, April 11, 2020. (Alejandro Reyes / YouTube)

City Officials Could Have Prevented Botched Little Village Smokestack Implosion, According to Full Watchdog Report

The 94-page report obtained by the city's former inspector general details lapses by the Chicago Department of Public Health and the Department of Buildings. Mayor Lori Lightfoot declined repeated calls to make it public. 

Paul Vallas fields questions from the news media on Feb. 7, 2023, after the WTTW News mayoral forum. (Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)

Cook County Assessor’s Office Closes Probe of Vallas’ Tax Break at Palos Heights Home

Chicago mayoral candidate Paul Vallas properly claimed a home in south suburban Palos Heights as his legal permanent residence, entitling him to tax breaks, according to the results of a brief probe by the Cook County Assessor’s Office.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot fields questions from the news media on Feb. 7, 2023, after the WTTW News mayoral forum. (Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)

Political Fund Created by Lightfoot’s Allies Used Cash from City Contractors to Attack Johnson

Unlimited contributions to political action commitees exploit what campaign finance experts told WTTW News is a loophole in laws governing the role of money in Chicago’s elections.

Paul Vallas fields questions from the news media on Feb. 7, 2023, after the WTTW News mayoral forum. (Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)

Vallas Faces Questions About Whether He Lives in Chicago as Officials Launch Probe of Tax Breaks

Vallas, who has been registered to vote in Chicago at an apartment in Bridgeport for less than a year, declined to answer questions about his residency directly from WTTW News.

(WTTW News)

Sluggish Pace of Chicago Police Reform Effort Complicates Public Safety Debate in Mayor’s Race

As the consent decree prepares to enter its fourth year, progress has been anything but rapid, with the city in full compliance with 3% of its requirements, according to data released by the Chicago Police Department. Meanwhile, the future of Chicago policing has taken center stage in the mayoral race. 

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle speaks about the county’s cash assistance program on May 18, 2022. (WTTW News)

$500 Payments Flowing to 3,250 Households in Cook County’s Guaranteed Basic Income Program: Preckwinkle

More than 233,000 Cook County residents applied to be part of the $42 million program, and 3,250 households won a lottery to participate in the two-year program.

Candidates at the WTTW News mayoral forum. (Michael Izquierdo)

Police Reform Seizes Spotlight at WTTW Forum as Lightfoot Once Again Clashes with Challengers

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot defended her record on police reform at the WTTW News mayoral forum and accused her challengers of throwing “bombs from the cheap seats.”

(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.