Stories by Nick Blumberg

Runoff Season Enters the Homestretch

| Kristen Thometz

Voters head to the polls Tuesday to decide Chicago's first mayoral runoff since the city changed to a nonpartisan election system. They'll also decide who will represent 18 wards in the City Council, and some incumbents could be thrown out. We analyze the mayoral and aldermanic races with a panel of political experts.

McDonald's Boosts Wages, Buffett Buys Kraft

Oak Brook-based McDonald's on Wednesday announced its plans to raise starting pay at 1,500 company-owned stores to $1 above the local minimum wage and offer paid time off after a year of work -- but some labor advocates say the company isn't doing enough. Northfield-based Kraft has been bought out by billionaire investor Warren Buffett and the Brazilian group 3G Capital, who plan to merge the company with Heinz. We'll talk about those stories with Crain's Chicago Business reporter Peter Frost.

Neighborhood Issues May Fuel Uptown Race

46th Ward Aldermanic Runoff Forum

| Evan Garcia

Ald. James Cappleman was elected in 2011 as a candidate for change. The former social worker, who is one of the Chicago City Council's openly gay members, has been heavily supported by Mayor Rahm Emanuel's PAC in his re-election bid. He's facing an April runoff against lawyer Amy Crawford, who is also openly gay.

Mayoral Runoff Candidate Post-Forum News Conference

| Paris Schutz

Chicago mayoral candidates Rahm Emanuel and Jesús "Chuy" García gave a brief news conference following the forum.

Emanuel Foe Faces Runoff Rematch

45th Ward Aldermanic Runoff Forum

| Evan Garcia

First-term Ald. John Arena, a member of the City Council's Progressive Caucus and a frequent thorn in Mayor Rahm Emanuel's side, faces a runoff rematch with Chicago Police Lt. John Garrido in the race to represent the northwest side's 45th Ward.

"Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies"

Tracking the history and treatment of cancer from ancient Egypt through today: we talk with Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of the book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, about a new three-part documentary produced by Ken Burns that begins airing Monday, March 30 on WTTW11.

Pilot Mental Health and Cockpit Safety

| Kristen Thometz

A French prosecutor announced Thursday that a Germanwings co-pilot deliberately crashed a jet in the French Alps after locking the pilot out of the cockpit. The prosecutor said there is no indication the crash was related to terrorism. The announcement has sparked questions about mental health evaluations for airline pilots, and why the co-pilot was able to prevent the pilot from gaining access to the cockpit. We have analysis.

Freshman Alderman Tries to Hang On to Her Seat

41st Ward Aldermanic Runoff Forum

| Evan Garcia

Ald. Mary O'Connor faces a runoff challenge from Chicago firefighter and former police officer Anthony Napolitano. While O'Connor has touted the accomplishments of her first term, many in the northwest side ward are angry over new O'Hare airport flight paths that they say have made their neighborhoods unbearably noisy. They join us.

Open Seat in a New Ward

36th Ward Aldermanic Runoff Forum

| Evan Garcia

Incumbent 36th Ward Ald. Nicholas Sposato decided to run in a different ward after the 36th was re-mapped. Four candidates ran to take over his seat, which covers parts of Belmont Cragin and Portage Park. Two candidates made it to the April runoff: former congressional staffer Omar Aquino and consultant Gilbert Villegas. They join us.

Second City and Life Lessons

The head honchos at The Second City discuss their book about the importance of improv in everyday life.

"Galileo's Middle Finger" On Fights Between Science and Activism

Historian Alice Dreger's new book, Galileo's Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science, is a funny, surprising story of Dreger's career as an activist, researcher, and advocate for evidence-based activism. She joins us.

Ald. Lona Lane Faces Stiff Challenge

18th Ward Aldermanic Runoff Forum

| Evan Garcia

In February's election, challenger Derrick Curtis had a slight advantage over incumbent Ald. Lona Lane, though neither received a majority of the vote. The two will face off in next month's runoff election, and Chicago Tonight will host a forum to discuss the issues facing the 18th Ward.

The Irish Republican Murder that Shocked Chicago

Author Gillian O'Brien joins us to discuss her book Blood Runs Green, a non-fiction account of the largely forgotten murder of a prominent Irish-American doctor who was also the member of a secretive Irish Republican organization.

An Outsider Takes On a Daley in Bridgeport

11th Ward Aldermanic Runoff Forum

| Evan Garcia

The race for the open seat in Chicago's 11th Ward has gone to a runoff between Patrick Daley Thompson and John Kozlar. Thompson is an attorney and Water Reclamation Commissioner. He's also a nephew of Richard M. Daley and grandson of Richard J. Daley. Kozlar is a law student and neighborhood advocate who ran and lost in the 2011 race. They join us.

The New 2

2nd Ward Aldermanic Runoff Forum

| Evan Garcia

Chicago's 2nd Ward has been significantly remapped and includes a diverse array of neighborhoods, from parts of downtown Chicago to Wicker Park and Ukrainian Village. We'll host a conversation between Brian Hopkins and Alyx Pattison, the two candidates for alderman who will face each other in an April 7 runoff election.

Jane Byrne Interchange Lane Closures

Drivers using the Jane Byrne interchange face major closures starting Tuesday night.

New Bill Aims to Opt Out of Standardized Testing

State lawmakers want to make it easier for students to skip the PARCC test by introducing a new bill to opt out of standardized testing.

Commission Approves Parkland Use for Obama Library

The Chicago Plan Commission has OK’d an Obama Library on public parkland.

Aldermanic Candidates in 19 Wards Headed for Runoffs

Voters in more than a third of Chicago’s 50 wards will head to the polls again in April. In Tuesday’s election, no clear winner emerged in 19 races for alderman across the city. 

Voters Support an Elected School Board

Voters across Chicago overwhelmingly support an elected school board, according to results of a non-binding referendum that appeared on the ballot Tuesday in 37 of the city’s 50 wards.

Second Eastland Disaster Archived Film Located by NIU Graduate

This week, there was another new discovery of footage from Chicago's Eastland Disaster. 

New Dietary Guidelines: What's In, What's Out?

We discuss the recent changes in dietary guidelines and how they affect the way we're supposed to eat.

Illinois Lawmakers Talk Budget Priorities & Challenges Ahead

Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders are trying to find ways to close a gap in the current year's budget and will soon start debating the governor's austere proposal for the coming fiscal year. We talk with lawmakers about what to expect.

Gov. Rauner Unveils His Budget

| Kristen Thometz

Gov. Bruce Rauner releases his budget for the coming fiscal year. We'll analyze his priorities with fiscal experts, and discuss how likely he is to get the Democratically controlled General Assembly to see things his way.

Who is the “Superstar” On Gov. Rauner’s Team?

When Gov. Bruce Rauner announced the hiring of former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle, he called the two-term Republican a "superstar governor" with a proven track record. We'll learn more about Lingle's time in office and her legacy in Hawaii from Chad Blair, political reporter for the Honolulu Civil Beat.