Stories by Alexandra Silets

The City Council Battle Over Lightfoot’s Budget

The City Council on Tuesday approved Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s $11.6 billion budget plan by a vote of 39 to 11. Four Chicago aldermen join us to discuss their support and opposition to that spending plan.

New PBS Documentary ‘College Behind Bars’ Explores Elite Education Program

Filmmaker Lynn Novick and Bard Prison Initiative graduate Dyjuan Tatro discuss the series “College Behind Bars” on “Chicago Tonight.” (WTTW News)

A new documentary series explores the rigorous Bard Prison Initiative that offers degrees to a select group of incarcerated men and women. Filmmaker Lynn Novick and program graduate Dyjuan Tatro join us in discussion.

Too Young to Prosecute? 9-Year-Old Boy Facing Murder Charges

This photo taken April 7, 2019, shows a fence and caution tape surrounding a trailer home that was destroyed by fire in the Timberline Mobile Home Park northeast of Goodfield. (Matt Dayhoff / Journal Star via AP)

A 9-year-old boy returns to court Friday to face five counts of first-degree murder after an April fire killed five people in central Illinois. Joining us to discuss the highly unusual case are a reporter covering the story and a juvenile justice advocate.

The Pros and Cons of New Health Care Price Transparency Rule

(rawpixel / Pixabay)

The Trump administration aims to make prices more transparent when it comes to medical services – but could it also raise the cost of care?

The Week in Review: Cullerton Shocks Springfield with Retirement News

Illinois’ Senate president unexpectedly announces his retirement. Mayor Lori Lightfoot comes up empty on a Chicago casino redo. A war of words with Uber. And the Bears prepare for a prime-time matchup with the LA Rams.

Top Cop Eddie Johnson on Gun Violence, Police-Community Relations

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson appears on “Chicago Tonight” on Nov. 14, 2019. (WTTW News)

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson is no stranger to gun violence. The city’s top cop, who will retire at the end of the year, talks about growing up in a Chicago housing project and the importance of officers treating people with respect.

Federal Prosecutor Targets Chicago Violence

U.S. Attorney John Lausch appears on “Chicago Tonight” on Nov. 13, 2019. (WTTW News)

Gun violence in Chicago is on the decline, but the number of homicides in the city is still staggering. What can federal prosecutors do to reduce shooting incidents? U.S. Attorney John Lausch Jr. joins us in discussion.

What Policymakers Can Do to Help Reduce Gun Violence

As part of our special episode on gun violence, we discuss the policies being proposed at the state and federal level with U.S. Reps. Robin Kelly and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and state Rep. La Shawn Ford.

How Aldermen Are Reimagining Lake Shore Drive

(Jason Mrachina / Flickr)

Cracked bridges, eroding and disappearing beaches and massive flooding are taking a toll on Lake Shore Drive. We hear some ideas from aldermen about shoring up the lakefront.

How the Chicago Teachers Union Contract Helps Students, Teachers

The Chicago Teachers Union and SEIU Local 73 hold a massive demonstration in the Loop on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019 -- day five of the Chicago teachers strike. (WTTW News)

Smaller class sizes and more counselors and nurses. We discuss the changes coming to Chicago Public Schools if teachers ratify a new five-year contract.

Former First Family Touts Latest Design for Obama Presidential Center

A rendering shows the north-facing view of the public plaza and Museum building, as viewed from the roof of the Chicago Public Library building. (Credit: The Obama Foundation)

At the Obama Foundation Summit on Tuesday, Barack and Michelle Obama spoke about, among other things, the future of the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park. Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin weighs in on the new design.

‘Check, Please!’ Returns for 19th Season on WTTW

“Check, Please!” host Alpana Singh speaks with “Chicago Tonight.” (WTTW News)

“Check, Please!” host, restaurateur and master sommelier Alpana Singh dishes on the new season of the Emmy award-winning show, which debuts Friday on WTTW.

A Preview of Mayor Lightfoot’s Budget Address

(Ken Teegardin / Flickr)

Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Wednesday will deliver her first budget address, with an expected plan to close an $838 million budget deficit. She’s already accounted for $200 million of that with a proposal to refinance $1.3 billion in city borrowing.

Guns, Abortion and Gay Rights Top Supreme Court’s Docket

(Joe Ravi / Wikimedia Commons)

The Supreme Court is set to have a blockbuster term, hearing cases on gay and transgender rights, immigration, abortion, guns and religion. We preview the new term with former Supreme Court clerks.

Lightfoot, Preckwinkle Clash Over Metra Electric Proposal

A southbound Metra Electric District train departs 79th Street station. (vxla / Flickr)

Could a three-year pilot program to lower fares and expand train service on the South Side hurt the Chicago Transit Authority? A supporter of the plan weighs in.

The Week in Review: Illinois Dems Join Pelosi’s Call for Impeachment Inquiry

Illinois’ congressional Democrats support impeachment. Southwest Side politicians get caught in federal crosshairs. The Chicago Teachers Union overwhelmingly supports a strike. And the Cubs collapse.

Aldermen Propose Limits on Backyard Livestock in Chicago

(Capri23auto / Pixabay)

A new ordinance has been introduced in City Council to severely reduce farm animal adoption in Chicago. We discuss the proposal with Ald. Raymond Lopez and Laura Calvert of Advocates for Urban Agriculture.

University of Chicago Nurses Hit the Picket Line

Hundreds of people hit the picket line at 7 a.m. Friday to protest what nurses describe as staffing shortages and forced overtime that are risking the safety of patients at the 618-bed hospital. (WTTW News)

Some 2,200 nurses at the University of Chicago Medical Center walked off the job Friday, citing staffing shortages and forced overtime. “The reason we are striking is for our patient safety and our staff safety,” said one nurse from the picket line.

The Reparations Debate is Heading to City Council

(Ken Teegardin / Flickr)

A new resolution on reparations is scheduled to be introduced in City Council this week. Alds. Roderick Sawyer (6th Ward) and Nick Sposato (38th Ward) weigh in on the topic.

Business is Buzzing This Summer for a Chicago Beekeeper on Wheels

It’s a job as old as time, but one Chicagoan is beekeeping in her own unique way. Meet graphic designer-turned-beekeeper Jana Kinsman.

Will Illinois Become the Next State to Pass Rent Control Laws?

Rent control has been barred in Illinois since 1997 but is once again under consideration. How does it work, and is it the answer to Chicago’s affordable housing crisis?

Vista Tower’s Engineering Feats: Blair Kamin Explains

Vista Tower (WTTW News)

Chicago’s third-tallest building, the Vista Tower, is being touted for it’s unique curvilinear-shaped structure. But it’s the engineering secrets you can’t see that really set this skyscraper apart.

Sterigenics Settlement: Controversial Company Gets Green Light from Judge

A DuPage County judge signed off on a consent order Friday allowing for Sterigenics to reopen but with stricter emissions controls. What exactly does the settlement allow – and how soon can Sterigenics be fully operational?

The Week in Review: Sterigenics Ruling, Bears Flop

A judge rules Sterigenics can reopen. The mayor hears "no new property taxes" at her first budget town hall meeting. Elected officials spar over city violence. And the Bears blow the 100th season opener.

The Legal Battle Over Lincoln Yards $1.3B TIF District

The battle over the massive $6 billion Lincoln Yards development is far from over. We discuss the controversial project with Aneel Chablani, chief counsel of the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, and 2nd Ward Ald. Brian Hopkins.

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