Axios Chicago

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👏 Happy Wednesday. We're halfway to Friday and headed into a holiday weekend. Congratulations!

  • On this date in 1979, American Airlines Flight 191 crashed after takeoff at O'Hare, killing 273 passengers and crew. It's still the deadliest aviation accident in U.S. history.

🌧 Today's weather: Showers and breezy with a high of 70.

Today's newsletter is 805 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Council gambles on casino

Rendering of a casino and hotel along a river.
A rendering of the Bally's casino in River West. Courtesy of Bally's

The first Chicago casino could be on its way to breaking ground as City Council plans to vote on Bally's proposal in River West later this morning.

Why it matters: The $200 million in expected annual revenue would go to paying for police and fire pensions, but some opponents say that estimate is overblown.

What they're saying: "This is a promise. That's all it is," Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd), who is polling a run for mayor, said during the Monday committee meeting that voted to move the proposal to the full council. "This is actually worse than the parking meter deal. Our hands will be tied six years from now."

  • "We won't have the ability to correct the mistake that we're about to make."

Context: The parking meter deal was notoriously fast-tracked through council in 2008 by then-Mayor Richard M. Daley and is regarded as one of the worst deals in city history.

By the numbers: Another "no" vote in the Monday committee meeting was Ald. Michele Smith (43rd), who objected due to environmental concerns.

  • Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) also voted no, citing crime and congestion problems.

The other side: Chicago CFO Jennie Huang Bennett says the city loses over $300 million in revenue to neighboring Indiana every year the city doesn't have a casino.

What's next: The council is expected to vote today. If approved, a temporary casino located at Medinah Temple would be up and running in 2023.

  • The permanent River West location would be ready in 2026.

💭 Justin's thought bubble: If you say, "This is actually worse than the parking meter deal," you'd better be right. That's like yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater. It's an emotional accusation that certainly must be looked into given how awful the meter deal was.

  • But if hyperbolic, it should disqualify Hopkins from all future public discourse. 🤣

2. Local leaders react to Uvalde tragedy

Mom hugs her daughter
People outside SSGT Willie de Leon Civic Center in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday. Photo: Eric Thayer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Local leaders offered strong reactions to the tragic school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, yesterday through statements and social media.

  • Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich: "The Second Amendment did not come down from Sinai. The right to bear arms will never be more important than human life. Our children have rights too. And our elected officials have a moral duty to protect them."
  • CPS CEO Pedro Martinez: "As a former San Antonio school district superintendent, I know Uvalde well and am devastated and heartbroken for that community and those grieving families. Such acts of senseless violence cannot be the norm for our schools in America."
  • U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R): "This is pure evil and heartbreaking. Please pray for the victims, their families, and the Uvalde, Texas community."
  • Mayor Lori Lightfoot: "Every single day, children and young people are losing their lives to people who do not value the sanctity of life and take advantage of the unabated presence of firearms in our communities."
  • U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D): "I implore — beg — my Republican colleagues to join Democrats in finally making changes to our gun laws to help prevent Americans from reliving this gun tragedy far too often."

3. Chart of the Day: traffic deaths

Data: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Cartogram: Axios Visuals

With Memorial Day around the corner and many folks hitting the road for the first time in a while, it's smart to pay attention to an alarming trend in Illinois — rising traffic fatalities.

Explore the interactive map.

4. Tips and hot links

Illustration of a restaurant-style neon sign featuring the Axios logo, and reading "Tips & Hot Links."
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🎬 Ald. Michael Scott Jr. (24th) is resigning to take a position with Cinespace Studios in the film and TV industry. You may ask, why not just not run again? Scott's resigning allows Mayor Lori Lightfoot to choose a successor instead of leaving it to voters. (Tribune)

📮 Planned Parenthood of Illinois is offering abortion pills via mail to patients in and out of state. (Sun-Times)

💵 Recipients of the $500 monthly cash assistance will be selected via lottery before the end of May. (NBC 5)

📻 V103 is the top radio station in Chicago for a 72nd quarterly ratings period since it first signed on in 1988. (Robert Feder)

🍩 Krispy Kreme is giving away free donuts today to high school and college graduates wearing graduation swag. (Axios)

Do you see yourself with a new career?

✔ Check out our Local Job Board.

  1. Executive Communications Manager at BlueCross BlueShield Association.
  2. Senior Accountant at James G. Dades & Co.
  3. Portfolio & Wealth Advisory Associate at BBR Partners.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Post a job.

5. Where's Monica? Olive Park

Photo of an entrance to a park.
Milton Lee Olive Park. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

Dozens of smart readers correctly guessed that Monica was in Milton Lee Olive Park, located between Ohio Street Beach and the Jardine Water Purification Plant.

  • The Vietnam War hero's story and sculpted portrait are displayed inside the park.
  • The wide lawns are dotted with several dry fountain basins, and the area makes for a great picnic spot, biking detour or photo stop.

What they're saying: "Chicagoan Pvt. Olive was the first African American Medal of Honor recipient," wrote reader Alan Brunettin.

  • "The statue there honoring him was dedicated on 6/6/66 (!), and I was there with my father, who was the sculptor of that portrait."

🎉 Congratulations to readers Skyler A. and Douglas C., whose names we pulled out of a bike helmet. Pick up some Axios swag at our next event!

Our picks:

🖥 Monica is glad NBC 5 posted a video of the Emmett Till trial re-enactment presented last winter by Collaboraction Theatre Company at the DuSable Museum. She was floored by this production, which uses the unearthed trial transcript and adds a poignant finale you won't forget.

💔 Justin mourns for the families in Uvalde, Texas. Unfathomable and heartbreaking.

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