Pay now? / 'Everywhere we see the dead' / Royally bad

PAY NOW? At least one expert suggests that, for the vast number of Illinois property taxpayers facing reduced deductions next year under the Republican tax overhaul plan on a path to approval today in Congress, paying up early, before Jan. 1, “couldn’t hurt.”
And the Cook County treasurer has made doing that easier.
Mother Jones: Tax lawyers are giddy about exploiting mistakes in the bill.

Illinois Republican Congressman Peter Roskam says one of the bill’s plusses is that its unpopularity creates “low expectations.”
The Republican Louisiana senator who keeps bringing down Trump’s judicial nominees used to be a Democrat.

‘HE HAS TO RUN THE MOST NEGATIVE CAMPAIGN ANYONE IN THIS ROOM HAS EVER SEEN.’ Political analyst Rich Miller told the City Club that, for Gov. Rauner to win reelection, he’ll need a campaign “so negative that you just gasp at the TV ads.” (See video of Miller’s speech here.)
Rauner’s list of top 10 accomplishments includes things he hasn’t accomplished and some he opposed, including school funding reform.
Chicago Reporter: The families of thousands of black students are leaving Chicago for other struggling and segregated districts in the south suburbs and Indiana.

‘EVERYWHERE WE SEE THE DEAD.’ The boyfriend of the mother of a 15-year-old killed delivering newspapers in Chicago Sunday says he hopes the city tires of all the violence.
Sources tell the Tribune the city’s close to coughing up $20 million in a payout over police misconduct—bringing the total for such settlements close to $100 million in the last two months alone.

‘I SLEPT WITH HIM BECAUSE I NEEDED MY JOB.’ The New York Times exposes “a culture of harassment” on the floor of Ford’s Chicago plants.
Ex-Silicon Valley star T.J. Miller has been accused of sexually assaulting and punching a woman.

THE STORY BEHIND THE UFO STORY. The Times explains how its investigation of the Pentagon’s secret program unfolded.
The guy who used to lead the program: “There is very compelling evidence that we may not be alone.”
Caught on previously classified video: A pilot saying “There’s a whole fleet of them.”
At the center of the revelations: A company founded by a former member of the band Blink-182.

80 MPH IN A 30-MPH ZONE? CNN runs down a list of questions to be answered in the investigation of the fatal crash of an Amtrak train on an inaugural high-speed run through Washington.
Survivors: At first it was quiet. Then came the screams.
After the Atlanta airport blackout, airlines predict normalcy before Christmas.
Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk says public transit sucks.
But Metra is extending its $8 unlimited-ride weekend pass to three days for Christmas and New Year’s Day.

SMALL TARGET. Wicker Park has been slated for the Target chain’s smallest Chicago-area store, to open in July.
A Wall Street firm admits it underestimated Walmart’s ability to compete with Amazon.

ROYALLY BAD. Netflix’s widely ridiculed (but surprisingly beloved) movie A Christmas Prince is under fire for including Chicago scenes in what’s supposed to be New York.
Stephen Colbert recaps the story in 45 seconds.
Ten reasons the movie gets journalism wrong.

CORRECTION. Ever-attentive reader Mike Braden noted a couple of words missing in yesterday’s item about Chicago’s Clarence Darrow Memorial Bridge; it’s now fixed on the Square website.