‘A bit too contentious’ / Biden’s ‘woke’ veto / When Chicago went silent

‘A bit too contentious.’ What was to have been a joint appearance last night by Chicago mayoral candidates Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas instead split into two separate sessions—because, according to co-sponsor CBS 2, at least one of the campaigns expressed concern about high emotions at previous encounters.
Two weeks before Election Day, a political fundraiser tells Politico that Vallas’ fundraising “feels very Rahm Emanuel-ish.”
Columnist Eric Zorn revisits a 2020 interview in which Johnson “was employing powerful racial-justice rhetoric while avoiding giving direct answers to direct questions.”
Reader columnist Ben Joravsky critiques Vallas’ time as an education administrator: “Look, Chicago, if you feel an urge to elect this MAGA man as your mayor, knock yourself out. But don’t pretend you’re doing it for the kids.”
Mayor Lightfoot’s fired the city’s veteran chief labor negotiator—after he essentially endorsed Vallas in a Sun-Times podcast.
 Ready to cast your ballot? Check the Chicago Public Square voter guide.

‘Fear and intimidation.’ Testifying in the trial of four people accused in a Springfield scandal, that’s how a longtime Democratic state lawmaker described indicted ex-House Speaker Michael Madigan’s leadership style.
Another memorable quote from one of the defendants caught in a secretly recorded phone call: “Sorry about that stupid Cullerton move.”
Hear for yourself here.

A bad look. Signature Bank threw a fundraiser for North Carolina Rep. Patrick McHenry—the Republican now overseeing an inquiry into its failure.
At The Nib, Brian McFadden samples what’s in the Silicon Valley Bank bailout package …

‘Police are going to be like, You have the right to remain silent—now, but also in general. Just think about it.’ Jimmy Fallon joked last night about how the arrest of Donald Trump might go down.
New York’s on guard if it happens.
An Associated Press explainer: What we know about the process.
Politico’s Alexander Burns: “Stop overthinking it: An indictment would be bad for Trump.”

Biden’s ‘woke’ veto. The president’s first maintains a Labor Department rule under fire from Republicans (and two Democrats)—preserving retirement plans’ authority to consider social factors and climate change as they manage investments.
Rafi Schwartz at Discourse Blog: It is very easy to define woke if you’re not an idiot.”

‘There is no time to waste.’ A Stanford University conservation biologist sounds an alarm about “plasticosis”—the scarring of birds’ stomachs by ocean-borne plastic trash.
Chicago’s Public Health Department confirms hazardous levels of lead “in about 99 percent of residences built before 1978.”

‘Criminals have shifted their focus to stealing a vehicle rather than violent carjacking.’ The Chicago Police Department tells Axios car thefts are up—especially among Kia and Hyundai vehicles, because they can be started with just a screwdriver or a USB plug.

When Chicago went silent. The Sun-Times looks back to the onset of Illinois’ pandemic stay-at-home order, three years ago today.
Your Local Epidemiologist Katelyn Jetelina says this past winter’s respiratory virus hospitalizations suggest “some sort of virus-to-virus interaction (RSV pushes flu and then pushes COVID-19, for example).”
The site of a demolished Sears store at Harlem and North Avenue is set to become a 60,000-square-foot Rush University Medical Center urgent and primary care facility. (Rendering: Rush.)

Square mailbag. Yesterday’s edition drew responses …
 … from Michael Rosenbaum: “The characterization of Vallas as ‘the white candidate’ overemphasizes the role of race in this particular contest. Vallas has support from black and white officials, as you note, and Johnson has won similarly diverse support. Based on my conversations with (almost) all types of people, the top three issues are crime, crime and crime. Education, budget pressures and corruption are so far in the distance that they’re within the margin of error and it’s quite possible race is that far back as well.”
 … and Mark Mardell, who found columnist Neil Steinberg’s use of the phrase “our two mayoral candidates” inapt: “Because he’s always talking about his leafy, heavenly city of Northbrook … It would be more honest to say ‘your mayoral candidates.’”
Your comments are always welcome here. Just reply to any Square email—or write to letters@ChicagoPublicSquare.com.

Some of what you’d have seen yesterday if you followed Square on Facebook:
Amazon’s laying off another 9,000 employees.
Press watcher Dan Froomkin: “Wars almost always make everything worse. And it won’t change until our top newsrooms get new leaders willing to learn from the failures of the past.”

A Square public service announcement

Know an aspiring journalist? Spread this word from the Chicago Headline Club: April 17’s the deadline to apply for the Les Brownlee Memorial Scholarship. An undergrad attending a Chicago-area or Illinois institution can land $5,000.

Subscribe to Square.