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.

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)

Madigan’s Chief of Staff Latest in Springfield Legislature to Resign Amid Allegations of Harassment, Intimidation

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s Chief of Staff resigned Wednesday after being accused of mishandling sexual harassment cases, bullying, and harassment. Sherri Garrett, an account technician in the House, said that for several years Tim Mapes, Madigan’s Chief of Staff, made sexually inappropriate comments towards her, made jokes about sexual harassment training and protests against the mistreatment of women. “I have decided to come forward because we have a serious and pervasive problem in our state government, and I could no longer remain silent about my own mistreatment,” said Garrett. “My hope is that by coming forward, I can help to create space for others to do the same.” This is the latest in a series of incidents involving members of the legislature resigning over allegations of sexual harassment and intimidation. (WLS7)

CTU President Karen Lewis Undergoing Brain Surgery

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis was undergoing brain surgery as part of cancer treatment on Wednesday. The CTU President was first diagnosed with glioblastoma in 2015, and suffered a stroke last year. CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said that she was in “great spirits” and remains in regular contact. “To be honest, was more interested in directing a message to the CTU members, parents, students and people of this city. Karen said, and I quote – “Tell our delegates let’s get ready to fight,” Sharkey said in an emailed statement. According to NBC5, a source told the network that “in the course of this disease, any re-occurrence that requires intervention is very common.” (NBC5)

Police Shoot and Kill 24 Year-Old Man on South Side

Chicago Police shot and killed a 24 year-old man in Bronzeville last night during what they say was an “armed confrontation.” Police officials alleged that Maurice Granton Jr ran from them during the “encounter” and at some point “produced a weapon,” and an officer shot Granton an unknown number of times. He was taken to University of Chicago Medical Center and pronounced dead. Family, friends, and community members however, say the police story doesn’t add up, and are demanding answers. “Since when does running validate somebody getting shot,” asked Granton’s sister, Joanna Varnado. She also said she didn’t believe the weapon was his. “I just want to know what the real story is,” she said. “If it was misconduct, I want justice. My brother was 24 years old. He loved his girls. That’s all he lived for, was his kids.” (Chicago Tribune)

New Medical Marijuana Legislation Goes To Governor Rauner

The Illinois Legislature sent a bill to Governor Bruce Rauner’s desk this week that eases up some regulations on medical marijuana and allows it to be prescribed as an alternative to opioids. “What we’ve been doing in the state and across the country is not working, too many people have been dealing with too many problems when it comes to opioid addiction and I think medical cannabis can be another option for them,” said Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford). The legislation allows patients to buy medical marijuana from dispensaries based on doctor’s orders and patients cannot be denied based on criminal convictions. Governor Rauner has yet to comment on whether or not he’ll sign the bill, but has generally been opposed to loosening marijuana laws in the past (WREX13)

Chicago Police Conducting Investigation After Video Shows 10 Year-Old Boy Handcuffed During Questioning

Chicago Police officials say they’re investigating an incident where a 10-year old boy was handcuffed while being detained. Cell phone video captured on Friday shows officers handcuffing the boy while detaining him after they say he matched the description of calls about a 10 to 12 year-old dressed in blue carrying a gun in the neighborhood. Family members of the child can be heard on camera addressing officers asking them why this was necessary. “You can see that he doesn’t have any weapons on him,” says a woman identified as the boy’s grandmother in the footage. “I raised up my grandbaby’s shirt. He don’t have anything on him. Take those handcuffs off of him.” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said that he’s ordered an internal investigation of the matter, but that officers “followed all of the rules and protocols.” (Sun-Times)