Stories by Nick Blumberg

From Chicago Girl to First Lady

Author Peter Slevin has covered both Barack and Michelle Obama for many years. The former Washington Post reporter, who's now on staff at Northwestern University's journalism school, joins us to talk about his new book tracing Michelle Obama's family background, her upbringing and education, and her life with her husband.

CPS Facing Federal Investigation, Calls For Bankruptcy

| Kristen Thometz

Gov. Bruce Rauner said this week that bankruptcy may be the best option for the Chicago Public Schools system to get its fiscal house in order. One day later, it was revealed that the federal government is investigating CPS. News reports say the investigation involves a no-bid contract for principal training awarded to a company that once employed CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. We'll discuss the challenges facing CPS with a panel of experts.

Minimum Wage Workers Protest for Better Pay

Demonstrators in Chicago and around the United States are protesting Wednesday for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Organizers said workers in other countries would also rally, claiming it’s the largest-ever international demonstration by workers.

Life Since "The Homestretch"

The documentary The Homestretch premieres Monday at 9:00 pm on WTTW11. It follows three homeless young people in Chicago as they struggle to graduate high school and navigate their future. That's followed by a Chicago Tonight special edition at 10:00 pm, where host Phil Ponce sat down with three of the documentary subjects to talk about where their lives have taken them since the events of the film, and he also spoke with the filmmakers who spearheaded the project.

Cook County's New Public Defender

Amy Campanelli, a veteran attorney who's worked in the public defender's office in different capacities for many years, has been confirmed as Cook County's newest public defender. We'll talk with Campanelli about her priorities for the office, which include reforming bonding to reduce the jail population.

Analyzing the Runoff Election

This historic mayoral runoff election is over with Mayor Rahm Emanuel winning a second term. We discuss the results of that race, as well as the results of the 18 aldermanic runoff elections with our panel of political experts. 

‘Unforgettable: A Son, A Mother, and the Lessons of a Lifetime’

Scott Simon; credit: Bill O'Leary

Author and broadcaster Scott Simon, longtime host of NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday, joins us to discuss a new book about his mother's life and death, the lessons she taught him, and the bond they shared.

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.