Third Coast Today

Welcome to Third Coast Today, our curated, of-the-moment rundown of the latest news in Chicago politics, education, business and finance. We'll cover Chicago, the state of Illinois and other news of interest to our arts-and-culture fiend readers. Catch it here for updates every weekday or check it out on our home page--in the first right-hand column.

Parkland Students Kick Off Bus Tour in Chicago

Student survivors of the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida kicked off their multi-state “Road to Change” bus tour over the weekend in Chicago and the suburbs. “Our voices your voices united are stronger than anything else,” said Kyra Simon of the Parkland students at St Sabina’s annual peace march on Chicago’s South Side. “Us together, we’re going to make the movement what it needs to be – united. All of your voices, no matter where you come from, your community, your economic background, matter.” On Saturday, they attended a town hall meeting in suburban Naperville. (Nation of Change)

Sun-Times to Sell Chicago Reader to Chicago Crusader

The Chicago Sun-Times will sell its ownership of the Chicago Reader to Chicago Crusader publisher Dorothy Leavell. The deal, which is expected to close in 30 days, was announced Friday at the Rainbow PUSH Convention. “I am so honored to have had an opportunity to stand here to say to you that not only am I the publisher of the Chicago Crusader and the Gary Crusader but now the Chicago Reader,” said Leavell, who has published the Chicago and Gary Crusader papers for 50 years. In a written statement Leavell said the goal of the new ownership is “to preserve and strengthen this brand and to make the paper accessible to all Chicago communities.” (Chicago Reader)

Walgreens to Relocate to Old Post Office

Walgreens plans to relocate its Deerfield headquarters to the Loop in the fall of 2019, moving some 1,300 employees from the suburbs to the city. The company will move to a 200,000-square-foot space in Chicago’s Old Post Office building at 433 West Van Buren. In total, the company will have about 1,800 employees in the space. (Sun-Times)

Elon Musk to Build O’Hare Express Tunnel

City officials confirmed Thursday that they’ve selected billionaire tech entrepreneur Elon Musk and his Boring company to construct an autonomous high speed transit system that will take passengers from Block 37 in the Loop to O’Hare Airport. “Bringing Chicago’s economic engines closer together will keep the city on the cutting edge of progress, create thousands of good-paying jobs and strengthen our great city for future generations,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “This transformative project will help Chicago write the next chapter in our legacy of innovation and invention.” The underground transit system will use “autonomous electric skates” that travel at speeds of 125-150mph to transport vehicles containing between 8 and 16 passengers. Officials say the project will allegedly be privately funded, and is expected to cost just under $1 billion. (NBC5)

Block Club Chicago Officially Launches

Block Club Chicago officially launched its subscription based news service Wednesday, after securing initial startup funds via Kickstarter and other donors and initially rolling out some stories over the past few months on the platform Medium. “We are incredibly excited to get back to covering neighborhood news,” said Shamus Toomey, editor-in-chief and co-founder in a statement. “We want to thank our readers for their patience and officially say: ‘We’re back!’” The site was founded by former editors of DNAinfo, which was shuttered along with Chicagoist last year by billionaire owner Joe Ricketts after employees attempted to unionize. “Our entire team believes in this so wholeheartedly, and after hearing from our readers and supporters, we think we can give Chicago the community-level journalism it needs and deserves,” said Jen Sabella, co-founder and director of strategy. (Robert Feder)

Emanuel to Sessions: “I’ll buy you a ticket to Ellis Island”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel criticized Attorney General Jeff sessions for his move this week to refuse asylum to victims of domestic abuse and gang violence. “Generally, claims by aliens pertaining to domestic violence or gang violence perpetrated by non-governmental actors will not qualify for asylum,” Sessions wrote on Monday. Emanuel said that the ruling was Sessions turning his back on America, and offered to buy the Attorney General a ticket to Ellis Island. “The idea that somebody trapped by domestic violence … that America still is not a place of hope from despair, so to Jeff Sessions, if you haven’t been to Ellis Island recently, don’t worry, I’ll pay for it,” Emanuel said at a press conference on domestic violence. “I’ll buy you the Amtrak ticket up, you can drop yourself off, and you can take a tour. Don’t turn your back on America.” (Chicago Tribune)

Old Cook County Hospital Renovations Begin

Construction will begin immediately on renovations to the Old Cook County Hospital in the medical district on the Near West Side, according to officials. “This beautiful historic building has sat empty and unused for far too long,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle in a press release. “The redevelopment of Old Cook County Hospital will unlock tremendous economic potential in this community and provide much-needed amenities for residents and visitors to this area.” The Civic Health Development Group, which is spearheading the project says it’s secured $135 million in funding, and the project will receive around $24 million in tax credits. A dual-branded 210-room Hyatt House/Hyatt Place hotel will be the first tenants of the rehabilitated block-long property, which will also include 1,000 square feet of medical office space and 25,000 square feet of retail space. Officials say the development plan is valued at more than $1 billion.

Illinois Republicans Urge Trump to Not Commute Blagojevich Sentence

Illinois Congressional Republicans are calling on President Trump to reconsider any plans to commute former Governor Rod Blagojevich’s sentence, saying that such an action would “send a damaging message.” Trump first floated the idea at the beginning of June, saying he was considering commuting Blagojevich’s 14-year sentence for corruption for for what he called “being stupid and saying things that every other politician, you know that many other politicians say.” “As you well know, the integrity of our democracy and the core of American values depend on our elected officials being honest in upholding the trust given to them by the American people,” reads the letter, which was signed by Illinois Republican congressional delegation. “Granting clemency to Rod Blagojevich would go against this trust.” (Politico)

Protesters Descend on Governor’s Mansion in Springfield

Protesters set up tents outside the Governor’s Mansion in Springfield Monday as part of an ongoing series of demonstrations to call on politicians to address poverty and systemic racism. The tents were a symbolic criticism activists made of the $14 million in private donations spent on renovations at the mansion. “We want to identify the contrast between standing in front of a mansion when there are so many people who do not know where they are going to sleep at night,” said Erica Nanton. “But at the end of the day that is not his house. That is our house.” The protest was part of a series of demonstrations in the capitol known as the Poor People’s Campaign, who have been hosting six weeks’ worth of actions to highlight these issues across the country. (State Journal-Register)

City to Settle with Family of Police Shooting Victim for $16 Million

The City of Chicago reached a tentative agreement in a lawsuit by the family of Bettie Jones, who was killed by Chicago Police in 2015. Jones was shot by Officer Robert Rialmo as he was responding to a call of a domestic disturbance between Quintonio LeGrier – who Rialmo also shot and killed – and his father. Jones opened the door for Rialmo and when LeGrier, who was having a mental health episode, charged at the officer, he fired, killing both of them. “While no amount of money can ever compensate Bettie Jones’ family for the loss of their mother, we fought for and the City of Chicago has agreed to pay an amount that is fair when compared to local and national police-involved shooting cases,” said attorneys for the Jones estate. The City is expected to pay out $16 million, and has payed out more than half a billion dollars in misconduct settlements in the past decade. (Sun-Times)