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.

Rauner Says Blagojevich “Where He Belongs”

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner said that former governor Rod Blagojevich is “where he belongs.” Rauner was asked what he thought about potential clemency for Blagojevich on Tuesday, an idea that President Donald Trump floated last week. “Blagojevich’s case and behavior has been reviewed by judges, many judges, including the Supreme Court, by many legal experts, many attorneys,” said Rauner. “They’ve all come to the conclusion that Blagojevich is where he belongs and he should stay where he’s at. So, I’ll leave it at that.” (Capitol Fax)

Parkland ‘Road to Change’ Bus Tour Will Begin in Chicago

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida who survived a deadly mass shooting that killed 17 announced the kick off for a bus tour they say will begin in Chicago. The multistate tour, dubbed the March For Our Lives: Road to Change is designed to “get young people educated, registered and motivated to vote,” organizers say. “So many local and state laws have been passed to make people safe around the country, but it hasn’t been enough,” said Cameron Kasky, one of the organizers. The tour will begin on June 15th in Chicago at the St. Sabina Peace March, and the Parkland students will host a town hall at the DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church on the 16th. (NBC5)

McDonald’s Officially Opens Corporate HQ in Chicago

McDonald’s Corp officially opened the doors of its new corporate headquarters in the West Loop on Monday, dropping a 70-foot tall and 470-foot wide wrap covered in Big Macs to reveal its new $250 million nine-story building. “Our move back home to Chicago is about more than a building — it’s symbolic of our journey to transform our brand and become more closely connected with our customers,” said McDonald’s President and CEO Steve Easterbrook, who was joined by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other officials. The company announced the move from its Oak Brook facility two years ago. (Daily Herald)

Rauner Approves State Budget for the First Time as Governor

For the first time since he took office, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner approved a full budget on Monday afternoon at a press event at the Thompson Center in Chicago. “Today we are having a small celebration,” said Rauner. “It is not perfect, but it’s a good step in the right direction. The $38.5 billion plan maintains government spending on most levels, but does include cuts – most notably at state agencies, $47 million from Human Services, as well as the same for the Illinois Department of Corrections. The budget contains a $407 million boost to early childhood and K-12 education funding, a $5,000 tax credit for families adopting children, and pays state workers for wage increases made during the tenure of former governor Pat Quinn. Previous iterations of budgets during Rauner’s tenure saw massive delays, with the state suffering a massive impasse for several years and only stop-gap measures being approved (Chicago Tribune). 

Illinois Gubernatorial Race Tops $200 Million in Fundraising

Billionaire gubernatorial candidate JB Pritkzer surpassed Governor Bruce Rauner in campaign fundraising over the weekend after donating $25 million more into his campaign fund, bringing his war chest up to more than $106 million compared to Rauner’s $76 million. That brings the total amount of funds raised in the 2018 election for Illinois governor to more than $200 million, including money raised by candidates in the primary, along with third party challenger former State Rep. Sam McCann. “I think this is becoming more and more of a competition of bank accounts between two fairly wealthy men,” said Eric Bradach, political director for the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, which tracks campaign spending. The race is on par to become the most expensive gubernatorial election in history, with the record being set in the 2010 California election at $280 million. (Politico Illinois Playbook)  

Trump Says He’s Mulling Commuting Blagojevich Sentence

President Donald Trump said Thursday he’s considering commuting the sentence of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. “Eighteen years is, I think, really unfair,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force one, adding that Blagojevich was convicted “for being stupid and saying things that every other politician, you know that many other politicians say.” Trump’s comments came just a few days after Blagojevich, who is serving a 14-year sentence for corruption charges, penned an op-ed saying he was “in prison for practicing politics.” “I am seriously thinking about — not pardoning — but I am seriously thinking of a curtailment of Blagojevich,” said Trump. (CNN)

State Rep Lang Resigns From Leadership Post in Wake of Harassment Allegations

A prominent Illinois House Representative stepped down from leadership positions amid allegations of sexual harassment and intimidation. Rep. Lou Lang announced his resignation as House deputy majority leader on Thursday after a lobbyist for medical marijuana, Maryann Loncar, came forth with allegations that Lang touched her lower back and asked if she knew “how lucky” her husband was, and one time called her ex-husband and said “I can help you bury her if you want.” “I was asked to come forward today by the people who knew about the abuse I suffered after I rejected the inappropriate actions of Representative Lou Lang,” said Loncar. Lang denied the allegations, saying “This is a person who did not get what she wanted out of state government.” (Sun-Times)

Hate Crime Charges Filed Against Downstate Man Accused of Spraypainting Swastikas on Graves

Charges were filed against a 34 year-old Glen Carbon man on Tuesday stemming from vandalism at a cemetery in the downstate town, as well as vandalism in the Edwardsville area. Timothy V. McClean was charged four counts of hate crime, three counts of institutional vandalism, one count of violating the Cemetery Protection Act, and 14 counts of criminal damage to property in connection with hundreds of swastikas spraypainted in Sunset Hill Cemetery along with nearby cars and residences. The swastikas were painted over the Memorial Day weekend, and McClean was arrested as the suspect on Saturday. “We would like to thank the citizens who worked with law enforcement authorities to bring this case to a swift resolution,” said Glen Carbon police in a statement. (Belleville News-Democrat)

Illinois Lawmakers “Close” to Agreement on State Budget

With the deadline less than a day away, Illinois lawmakers say they’re confident they’ll reach an agreement on a state budget by Thursday. We’re pretty close,” said Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), a chief negotiator. “We seem to have done a lot of work between the four caucuses and there are a couple issues remaining to be discussed by the leaders.” House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) told reporters on Tuesday “I feel we are in a place where we have a framework.” But while an agreement might be in place, it still includes less money for human services, which have seen several years’ worth of cuts. The plan makes $124 million in cuts at state agencies, including $47 million from Human Services, as well as the same for the Illinois Department of Corrections. (Chicago Tribune)

Sandburg’s “Skyscraper” to Be Featured on PBS Program, Poetry in America

Hog butcher to the world. City of the big shoulders. Those familiar Chicago phrases are part of Carl Sandburg’s famous poem, “Chicago,” written in 1916. The PBS series,  “Poetry in America,” will explore another Sandburg poem, “Skyscraper,” at 6pm Thursday. Architect Frank Gehry and others will discuss the theme of skyscrapers. You can see it on WTTW Prime, the digital subchannel of WTTW. That’s channel 37 on RCN or channel 370 on Comcast. (Robert Feder)