Stories by Nick Blumberg

The Week in Review: COVID-19 Restrictions Return to Chicago

(WTTW News)

COVID-19 rollbacks hit Chicago and the collar counties. Tax hikes, borrowing and layoffs are in Mayor Lightfoot’s budget. A state supreme court race gets political. A recap of the final presidential debate.

North Lake Shore Drive’s in Line for an Overhaul, and Planners Want Your Input

(Courtesy Redefine the Drive)

Lake Shore Drive is iconic, but with that status comes aging infrastructure. Transportation officials have come up with potential ways to overhaul the Drive and they’re looking for feedback.

Transportation Advocates Seek Guarantee Transit Won’t Shut Down In Event of Post-Election Unrest

(WTTW News)

With a heated election drawing to a close and concerns about possible post-election unrest, transportation advocates are calling on the Lightfoot administration and Chicago-area transit systems to pledge they’ll continue operations during protests.

Candidate Forum: Fricilone, Newman Vying to Replace Lipinski in 3rd District

For the first time in decades, a candidate with a name other than Lipinski will represent Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District in Congress. We hear from Republican Mike Fricilone and Democrat Marie Newman.

‘Fair Tax’ or Tax Hike? Debating the Graduated Income Tax Amendment

A billboard in Chicago promotes voting in favor of the so-called fair tax in the November election. (WTTW News)

Perhaps the most hotly contested race on Illinois ballots this year isn’t between two candidates. It’s a fight over income tax rates. We hear from both sides of the hotly contested measure.

The Week in Review: Virtual Trump-Biden Debate Canceled

President Donald Trump, left, and former Vice President Joe Biden at the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (WTTW News via CNN)

After the president refuses to participate in a virtual debate, it is canceled by the Commission on Presidential Debates. The city faces a nearly unsolvable budget problem as federal stimulus talks break down. And the “fair tax” fight heats up.

New Funding to Bring Mental Health Care to Homeless Shelters, Encampments

(WTTW News)

Chicago officials on Tuesday announced $8 million in grants for expanded mental health care services across the city, including for some of Chicago’s most vulnerable residents: those experiencing homelessness.

Head of FBI Chicago Office on ‘Critically Important’ Work to Ensure a Fair Election

Early voting for the Nov. 3 election is underway at Chicago’s Loop “super site,” with another 50 locations set to open Oct. 14. (WTTW News)

The COVID-19 pandemic has many Americans rethinking how they’re going to vote this year, with huge numbers applying for mail-in ballots. Emmerson Buie Jr. talks about the FBI’s priorities, and what steps they’re taking in Chicago.

New Biography Examines Jimmy Carter’s ‘Epic’ Life, ‘Surprisingly Consequential’ Presidency

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter’s wedding photo. (Courtesy the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library)

Jimmy Carter, who served just a single term in the White House, is widely seen as a model ex-president but largely unsuccessful president. Now, the 96-year-old is the subject of a full-length, independent biography.

The Week in Review: Trump Tests Positive for COVID-19 Days After 1st Debate

President Donald Trump speaks during the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (WTTW News via CNN)

Fallout from the shocking announcement that President Trump tests positive for COVID-19. Michael Madigan gets a challenger for Speaker. Chicago endures a deadly September, and Nick Foles takes over for the Bears.

Spotlight Politics: A Chaotic Presidential Debate

President Donald Trump, left, and former Vice President Joe Biden at the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (WTTW News via CNN)

The first Trump-Biden debate. A fiery hearing on corruption in Springfield. Chicago’s loosening COVID-19 restrictions. Our politics team tackles those stories and more in this week’s roundtable.

‘Left For Dead’ No More: Officials Celebrate Renovation of Former Cook County Hospital Building

(WTTW News)

After sitting empty for nearly two decades, the old Cook County Hospital building has been given a new life. Leaders are touting the $140 million project as a sign of hope amid an economic downturn.

Boosting Chicago’s Stubborn Census Response Rate

Community leaders and elected officials have been making a big push to get the city’s and state’s response rates up.

Chicago Latino Film Festival Director on Going Virtual, Latino Representation in Hollywood

(StockSnap / Pixabay)

Latinos are easy to spot at movie theaters, but not so much on the big screen. A one-on-one conversation with the director of the Chicago Latino Film Festival.

State, City Census Leaders on Counting Hard-to-Reach Residents

(WTTW News)

A federal judge has ordered the 2020 census schedule to continue until the end of October. We discuss efforts to boost response rates and get as accurate a count as possible.

City Announces New Bus-Only Lanes to Reduce Crowding on 2 Busy Routes

A person wearing a face mask boards a CTA bus in Chicago. (WTTW News)

Despite concerns over using public transportation during the coronavirus pandemic, many essential workers and residents without cars have been relying on the Chicago Transit Authority to get around.

Spotlight Politics: Another Illinois Politician Pleads Guilty

Another Illinois politician pleads guilty. The Cook County Democratic Party turns its back on a long-serving judge. Our politics team weighs in on those stories and more.

Metra Promotes Health and Safety Efforts Amid Massive Drop in Ridership, Revenue

(WTTW News)

Commuter rail agency Metra has seen the largest passenger decline of any of the Chicago-area transit systems. How the agency is working to reverse the slump.

Chicago’s Sustainability Officer on Legacy Pollution and Neighborhood Priorities

Chicago’s Southeast Side. (WTTW News)

We speak with Angela Tovar, the city’s recently named sustainability officer, about a new air quality ordinance and improving Chicago’s environment.

James ‘Big Cat’ Williams on the Bears Opener and the Season Ahead

(WTTW News)

Football is back. The Chicago Bears are set to kick off the regular season Sunday against the Detroit Lions. It’ll be the first time the Bears face an opponent this year, since the NFL skipped the preseason due to COVID-19.

CPS CEO on First Week of School, Helping Seniors Plan Their Future

Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson appears on “Chicago Tonight” via Zoom on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. (WTTW News)

Chicago Public Schools students are back in the classroom this week — virtually, that is. CPS CEO Janice Jackson tells us more about that and the results of the district’s “Learn. Plan. Succeed.” program. 

Restorations and Revelations at a Far South Side Tavern Headed For City Landmark Status

(WTTW News)

Inside a 1907 tavern once owned by Schlitz that's being restored by new owners and heading for city landmark status.

Illinois Congressmen on Trump’s Kenosha Visit and the Coronavirus Pandemic

U.S. Reps. Danny Davis, Brad Schneider and Rodney Davis talk about the president’s visit to Kenosha and the next round of coronavirus relief from Congress.

Stopping the Spike in Opioid-Related Deaths

(Bruno /Germany via Pixabay)

Monday is Overdose Awareness Day, an annual event aimed at reducing drug-related deaths and the stigma of substance use disorders. And it comes this year amid a dramatic spike in opioid-related overdoses and deaths in Chicago.

What the City, Park District Are Doing to Shore Up Infrastructure Along Chicago’s Lakefront and Beyond

Runners enjoy Chicago’s lakefront trail. (WTTW News)

Chicago is facing a lot of unfunded infrastructure needs in the coming years, according to officials. And it’s not just roads, bridges and streetlights that need work. The city’s lakefront is grappling with another year of high lake levels.

Regional Census Director: ‘It’s Not Too Late to Participate’ in 2020 Census

U.S. Census Bureau Chicago Regional Director Marilyn Sanders appears on “Chicago Tonight” via Zoom on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. (WTTW News)

Parts of Chicago’s South and West sides are at risk of being significantly undercounted in the 2020 census. We discuss efforts for a complete count with Marilyn Sanders, the Chicago regional director for the U.S. Census Bureau.