Daywatch: Biden pardons ex-Secret Service agent from Chicago | Ethics and lobbying become a focus in assessor’s race

Good morning, Chicago.

Aldermen are pushing back against the three proposed finalists for a Chicago casino as the city nears a final selection. Reaction from residents at community engagement meetings earlier this month was overwhelmingly negative, and aldermen representing nearby neighborhoods echoed concerns Monday about crime, traffic, safety, noise and the use of the Chicago River in two of the three proposals.

In other business news, Illinois residents who have appeared in a photograph on the Google Photos app within the last seven years may be eligible for a cut of a $100 million class-action privacy settlement reached by Google this month. The lawsuit alleges Google’s face grouping tool, which sorts faces in the Google Photos app by similarity, runs afoul of Illinois’ biometric privacy law.

In labor news, workers at Starbucks locations in Cary and Peoria won union elections Tuesday, making the stores the first and second Starbucks to unionize in Illinois.

And enjoy it while it lasts: It’s cherry blossom season in Jackson Park.

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(Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune)

Nearly 60 years after his conviction on what he claimed were racist and retaliatory federal charges, the first Black U.S. Secret Service agent assigned to a presidential detail has been pardoned by President Joe Biden.

Chicagoan Abraham Bolden, 87, who served on the security detail for President John F. Kennedy, was among 78 people granted pardons or commutations of their sentences as part of Biden’s first use of his executive clemency powers. Bolden on Tuesday recalled when Kennedy asked him to join his security detail.

“When we were in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, he treated me like a son,” Bolden told reporters at his home on Tuesday.

Right: Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Board President Kari Steele, shown May 27, 2021. (Erin Hooley and Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune)

The issue of ethics is once again taking a central role in the race for Cook County assessor as first-term incumbent Fritz Kaegi is blasting his main opponent Kari Steele over her husband’s work as a lobbyist for an international development company that could benefit from decisions made by the assessor’s office.

Ethics for years has been a key campaign issue in races for county assessor, an office responsible for accurately and fairly assessing the value of the county’s 1.8 million properties. As an outsider four years ago, Kaegi defeated Assessor Joseph Berrios, who also was head of the Cook County Democratic Party, in part by pointing to Berrios’ history of taking campaign contributions from property tax appeal attorneys and noting Berrios hired relatives and friends in the office.

Steele has countered that Kaegi has not lived up to his promises that he’d reform the assessor’s office by making property assessments more equitable and transparent.

Emiliano Zapata Academy teachers and elected officials gathered Tuesday outside the Little Village elementary school to protest a proposed $894,000 cut to the school’s budget for the upcoming year.

School community members called on the district to spend federal COVID-19 funds to ensure no school would have to experience cuts, but especially those in Little Village, which was hit hard by the pandemic.

Chicago Reader co-owner Len Goodman and three board members stepped down Tuesday amid protests from employees, freeing the embattled alternative newspaper to transition to a nonprofit organization.

The Reader has been stuck in limbo since December, when a planned transition to a nonprofit model was delayed over concerns about alleged censorship of an opinion piece written by Goodman, who pushed for an investigation into the matter and more representation on the successor board.

Smoque BBQ, the widely acclaimed barbecue restaurant in Chicago, will debut a steakhouse later this year, not downtown, but out in the neighborhoods. The new restaurant, under construction at 3310 N. Elston Ave. in the Avondale neighborhood, is planned to open this fall. Neighbors will include Honey Butter Fried Chicken nearly across the street, as well as Chief O’Neill’s and Parachute up Elston Avenue.

“The new project is called Smoque Steak,” said chef and partner Barry Sorkin. “It’s a different kind of steakhouse featuring what we think is a unique and really good take on steak.”

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