🍕 Happy Wednesday. It's National Pizza Day, which could find Chicagoans with many different styles of cheesy dough on their plates.

☁️ Today's weather: Mostly cloudy with a chance of snow and a high of 38.

Situational awareness: Governor Pritzker will reportedly announce today a timetable for the end of the indoor mask mandate in Illinois. Sources say it could come before March 1st.

Today's newsletter is 938 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Lack of transparency at City Hall

Screenshot of a redacted email.
Most emails the CPS public records office shared with Axios were heavily, if not entirely, redacted. Screenshot: CPS FOIA response to Axios

In an attempt to investigate allegations surrounding last month's CPS-CTU showdown, we filed an open records request for a month of correspondence between Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS CEO Pedro Martínez.

  • CPS asked for two extensions, and last Friday handed over 32 pages of almost entirely redacted emails.

Why it matters: Lightfoot campaigned on a slogan to "bring in the light."

Driving the news: The Tribune recently published emails in which Lightfoot chastised an advisor for emailing controversial memos subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

  • "I have asked now several times for there to be no more correspondence and writings that are not protected (against FOIA)," Lightfoot wrote.
  • Ironically, Lightfoot's admonishing emails were also not protected against FOIA.

The latest: The Tribune has now sued the city of Chicago for withholding FOIA'd documents about alleged misconduct by city workers.

  • The refusal continues despite an Illinois attorney general ruling the documents were "improperly denied."

What they're saying: CPS FOIA officials said all the redactions fell under rules that exempt things such as opinions, legal consultations and labor negotiations, but they did not explain where each exemption was applied.

  • We also asked Lightfoot's office to explain how these redactions and the mayor's emails align with her stated commitment to transparency. A spokesperson wrote back, "The Mayor's administration is committed to fully complying with the [FOIA]."

Go deeper: Check out CPS' full FOIA response.

2. City collecting dibs junk Friday

Photo courtey of reader Dee C., who says she got rid of all the illegal dibs on her street only to find new ones in the morning

We recently got an exasperated letter from Dee C., a Bridgeport reader who flipped out after finding her whole block full of dibs.

What happened: "My blood was boiling, so I put everyone's dibs in the trash," she wrote. "The next morning, new dibs were back out … including my landlords' dibs — and they have a garage."

  • "I've called the Alderman's office (who won’t do anything about it as he is on trial for tax fraud) and I called 311 to file a report to have Streets and San remove the dibs."

Why it matters: All the 311 calls, such as Dee's, have made a difference. The city received more than 3,200 in the last month.

  • Streets and Sanitation commissioner Cole Stallard called us yesterday to say, "We're going to start collecting the dibs stuff starting Friday."
  • "There was just too much action around it," he said. "Plus the weather is going be almost 40."

💭 Monica's thought bubble: I've never seen the city call for dibs removal this early in the season, but I've also never dealt with a more thoughtful Streets and San commissioner.

3. Tips and hot links

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

😷 Parents, school boards, politicians and lawyers continue to grapple with different interpretations of the downstate school mask ruling. (Chicago Tribune)

Opening arguments in the federal fraud trial of Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson focused on his tax returns, which his own lawyers argued were "sloppy" and "frazzled." (Chicago Tribune)

🎥 Chicagoan Jennifer Hudson was snubbed by the Oscars for her star turn in "Respect." (L.os Angeles Times)

Now hiring: New job openings

📖 Turn the page with these new postings on our Job Board.

  1. Account Director at Reputation Partners.
  2. Director, Business Development at Starcom.
  3. Senior Associate, Finance Control at Citadel.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Post a Job.

4. Your romantic restaurants

Photo of a dimly lit restaurant.
At least two readers suggested Bavette's Steakhouse and Bar in River North as one of the area's most romantic restaurants. Photo courtesy of Bavette's

With Valentine's Day coming up and COVID-19 cases going down, many diners will be emerging for a romantic night out in the coming days.

  • So we asked for your romantic restaurant recommendations to help us plan for the big date nights.

🥩 Mike D.: Bavette's has to be on the list of most romantic restaurants in Chicago. Carlos A. calls it an "unbeatable spot for a romantic dinner."

🍒 Chloe C.: The Cherry Circle Room in the Chicago Athletic Association has my vote.

🍽 Debby D.: Autre Monde in Berwyn "is cozy with inventive food and a welcoming staff."

🍸 And La Notte in Oak Park is "a lovely space, including booths, in the Carleton Hotel. Fabulous central bar with great food."

💝 Rachel S.: Valentine votes are for Beatnik and Mama Delia. "Same owner. Shared small dishes. Friendly staff. Great drinks at each."

☪ Monica H.: Oda Mediterranean Cuisine: Get one of the red-leather booths. "Enjoy the leisurely preparation of fab Turkish food. Have a fancy cocktail, then pair your meal with orange wine from Georgia."

🎸 Mike C.: Geja's Cafe. "Fondue dining with an extensive wine list, in a candlelit atmosphere with flamenco guitarists."

🦞 Thom C.. Oceanique in Evanston, "offers attentive but not intrusive service with great fresh seafood & unique sides in a quiet atmosphere perfect for a romantic evening."

😋 Roger B.: Montarra Grill in Algonquin.

🥂 Shirley H.: The Champagne Cave at Marchesa.

5. Justin is at Medieval Times

Open up and let me joust! Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

Almost all of you guessed correctly (in record numbers) on where Justin was standing yesterday: in front of Medieval Times!

  • Even though the theme restaurant and jousting tournament is not technically within city limits, Chicagoans definitely know where it is.
  • Congratulations to Ken S. & Lindsay C., the two winners we randomly picked out of a hat. You can pick up your swag at the next live event in the spring.

Some fun responses:

Jerry C: Justin is jousting in sort of a medieval, horsey sort of way.

Cindy J: Justin is at Medieval Times in Schaumburg. But WHY? Haaa!

Jeff K: Brings back memories of birthday parties I went to. Eating with my hands was awesome.

Jim H: Justin is lost in suburbia. Don’t panic, we will help him find his way back to Chicago.

What's next: Maybe when we get back to some sort of normalcy, this could be an Axios Chicago outing? Turkey legs and Pepsi for everybody!

Photo of a man in front of a castle.
Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

6. Photo of the day: Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan wows the crowd during All-Star Weekend in Seattle, 1987. Photo: Andy Hayt/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

Michael Jordan will always be remembered for winning the slam-dunk contest in 1988 at the Chicago Stadium. Who didn't have that poster on their wall?

  • But he actually won the year before in Seattle. This photo was taken 35 years ago, on February 8th, 1987.

📉 Monica is thrilled to see Chicago's COVID numbers move into the "high transmission" category after being stuck in "very high transmission" for so long.

🛍 Justin is already done with his Valentine's Day shopping. Jealous?

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