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.

First of Five Hearings on Police Civilian Review Bodies Breaks up Amid Protest

The first of five hearings on civilian oversight boards for the Chicago Police Department broke up Tuesday amid protests of the format and process. The Chicago City Council’s Committee on Public Safety scheduled five hearings on four competing proposals for civilian review of the police, including a Civilian Police Accountability Commission (CPAC), which would have the power to investigate and prosecute officers accused of misconduct, as well as replace the Police Board and hire a Superintendent. “People were coming with an expectation that they would be able to ask questions and make comments, to talk about what they felt like needed to happen,” said Renee Haynie-Jackson, who led the meeting. Alderman. Ariel Reboyras, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, said the scheduled dates would be kept. “We are going to try and reorganize. But it looks like we’ll have to do some adjustments,” said Reboyras. The next meeting is scheduled for Saturday, May 19 from 1:00 p.m.-to-3 p.m. at Gage Park High School. (Chicago Tribune)

Illinois House Democrats Unsure When They Can Pass ERA

Though the largely symbolic vote to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment passed out of a House Committee Wednesday, it still does not have enough votes to pass the full House, according to sponsor Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie). “I think we can turn the tide, and I think we’ll pass this, but it isn’t going to be easy,” said Lang. “You can cloak this in any type of language you wish, but in the end a ‘no’ vote is a vote against women.” The Illinois Senate voted to pass the Equal Rights Amendment in April, an astonishing 36 years passed the deadline for ratification for the Constitutional Amendment, which was first proposed more than 40 years ago. Illinois was one of 15 states not to ratify it by the 1982 deadline, even though it added a version to the state Constitution in 1970. Lang did not say when a vote might take place. (Sun-Times) (Herald and Review)

Groups Hold Vigil For Incarcerated Mothers at Cook County Jail

Community members and activists gathered in the park across from Cook County Jail on Saturday afternoon with formerly incarcerated mothers and mothers who have been separated from their children for a vigil to honor incarcerated mothers. “It’s a powerful force when we come together to free someone,” said  Debbie Buntyn, advocate and mother of Paris Knox, who was locked up inside the facility last Mother’s Day. “When Paris called [during last year’s vigil], that inspired me to know that she would be coming home. I felt such tremendous support, and I felt so happy because she knew she wasn’t alone and other women inside knew that someone cares, that there are people who want to support.” In Illinois, approximately 80 percent of people incarcerated in women’s prison facilities are mothers of children who are minors, according to Moms United Against Violence and Incarceration, who helped organize the vigil. The event also functioned as a drive to collect resources – including toiletries – for women and gender non-conforming people. “A lot of us wouldn’t have been locked up here if we had had resources in our community,” said one speaker at the vigil. “We have to fight for those resources on the outside too. I did not start being incarcerated just behind these walls.”

Rauner Pushes for Legislation Allowing Death Penalty for Mass Murderers, Police Killers

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner proposed reinstating the death penalty for mass murders and those who kill law enforcement officers on Monday as part of an amendatory veto on House bill 1468, which places a 72-hour holding period on all gun purchases. “So many times the person is caught in the act. Or so many times there are multiple witnesses and they’re fleeing the act and there’s no question of who did it,” said Rauner. “And you know what’s really tragic? Many times the perpetrators are proud of what they did. And there are plenty of cases where there’s no doubt who is guilty and they deserve to give up their life when they take the life of a police officer.” The legislation would allow the death penalty for mass murders or those who kill law enforcement officers when guilt can be proved “beyond any doubt.” (Sun-Times)

Supreme Court Decision Opens Doors to Sports Gambling in Illinois

A United States Supreme Court decision made Monday could pave the way for legalized sports betting in Illinois. In a 6-3 vote, the Court struck down a 1992 law which barred state authorized gambling on sports. “Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own,” said Justice Samuel Alito, who delivered the majority opinions. “Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the constitution.” Illinois is one of several states with legislation in the works to legalize the practice. Lawmakers in Springfield are working on a law which would allow gambling on amateur, professional and college games, and casinos to take bets in person and online. The state would then tax the industry. (Illinois Patch)

Lori Lightfoot Formally Announces Candidacy For Mayor

Former Chicago Police Board President Lori Lightfoot formally announced her candidacy for Mayor of Chicago Thursday, two days after resigning from her position. Lightfoot joins at least seven other challengers in a crowded field to oust incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “If you live in the Loop, your life expectancy is 85 years,” said Lightfoot. “But if you go a few train rides west, your life expectancy plummets to 69 years, a figure we haven’t seen since the 1960s. We can fix that problem, but the city of Chicago must be a catalyst for change and a convener of folks whose lives are most impacted and need an advocate on their side.” Prior to her tenure as head of the Police Board, Lightfoot was head of the Chicago Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards under Mayor Richard M. Daley, which would later become IPRA and then COPA, all of which have come under heavy criticism for failing to find any guilt in cases of police misconduct. Lightfoot is also a former federal prosecutor, and current partner at the law firm Mayer Brown (WTTW).

New Gates Open, New Carrier to Launch Routes at O’Hare

O’Hare International Airport will open its first new gates in 25 years on Friday. After two years of construction, American Airlines will unveil five new gates in Terminal 3, the first gate expansion since 1993, when Terminal 5 was built. The project cost $70 million and was paid for by American Airlines, and not part of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s $8.5 billion expansion project announced in March. The airport will also see a new carrier bringing two more international routes this year. Avianca, the flagship carrier of Colombia, announced beginning in fall it would launch nonstop flights from O’Hare to Bogota, Columbia, and Guatemala City, Guatemala. (Chicago Business Journal)

Two Chicago Police Officers Indicted on Federal Charges

Two Chicago Police officers were indicted Thursday on charges alleging they lied to judges to obtain search warrants and then stole drugs and money from properties they searched. Sgt. Xavier Elizondo and Officer David Salgado were each charged with embezzlement and conspiracy to commit theft, and Salgado with an additional charge of lying to the FBI. The charges came three months after the Chicago Tribune reported that several members of the Chicago Police Department’s gang team were relieved of their police powers amid a federal probe. “When police officers fail to discharge their duties with honesty and integrity, they betray not only the citizens of Chicago, but their fellow officers who do their jobs the right way,” said U.S. Attorney John Lausch in a statement. (Chicago Tribune)

Chicagoans Show Solidarity With Puerto Rican Protesters Attacked On May Day

Dozens of demonstrators rallied and march through the Loop downtown Monday evening to show solidarity with protesters in Puerto Rico and condemn the violent repression demonstrators in the territory faced on May Day. “We stand here in Federal Plaza united in opposition to these criminal tactics and stand in solidarity with the Puerto Rican people against the repression of the Puerto Rico Police, which the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has labeled the most corrupt police force under the the US flag,” wrote the Chicago Boricua Resistance, the group which organized the demonstration. “The real criminals are not the Puerto Rican people out in the streets protesting but the Puerto Rican government, the vulture funds, the Fiscal Supervision Board, and those in the US congress who undemocratically imposed the Fiscal Supervision Board on the island.” On May 1st, which is celebrated internationally as a worker’s holiday, demonstrators in Puerto Rico were beaten, arrested, and tear gassed by police while protesting austerity measures leveled by officials as the island, which still has not recovered from the devastating Hurricane Maria.

Several Illinois Counties Pass Resolutions Calling Themselves “Sanctuary Cities” For Gun Owners

At least five counties in Illinois have passed resolutions establishing themselves as “sanctuary cities” for gun owners. “It’s a buzzword, a word that really gets attention,” said David Campbell, vice chairperson of the Effingham County Board, one of the counties passing a resolution. “With all these sanctuary cities, we just decided to turn it around to protect our Second Amendment rights.” The resolutions are mostly symbolic, but meant to send a message other areas of the state and Democratic lawmakers who have been mulling several pieces of gun-control legislation in Springfield. “They are trying to make a point that they really resent how the city of Chicago treats the rest of the state and how they’re treated as gun owners,” said Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association. (State Journal-Register)