Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who handily won part renomination despite the unsweetened beverage tax controversy, has decided to seek the chairmanship of the county Democratic Party — an office now held by Joe Berrios, who is expected to step down after losing a primary race last week for re-election as county assessor.

Preckwinkle, who is now vice chair of the county Democrats, gave her thumbs-up to run as “chair” of the Dem County party Friday afternoon.

“Today I am announcing that I will seek the leadership of the Cook County Democratic Party in April,” she said in a prepared statement. “At a time when Donald Trump and Republicans in Washington are trying to take our country backward, it is critical that Cook County has leaders who are committed to moving our communities forward …

“We will build a modern party that not only reflects our communities’ tremendous diversity but that actually embraces openness as our fundamental organizing principle. Lasting change comes from bottom-up — not the top-down. We will work to bring new people into the process and empower activists throughout the county and give them the tools they need to lead change.”

City uses Shatner in bid for Amazon

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office beamed up a William Shatner-narrated pitch video for Amazon officials who were in Chicago last week to scout possible locations for a nationally coveted second headquarters.

The 95-second video begins with white specks ethereally floating against a black background before the words “Amazon makes its second city The Second City” move to the forefront.

Shatner works to establish parallels between Chicago’s history — rebuilding after the fire in 1871 — and Amazon’s humble beginnings in a garage in 1994.

“Before the architects finished the plans, we began rebuilding and reinventing ourselves as an economic powerhouse; a thriving ecosystem of transit and tech; an icon of culture and community; and a destination for doers and dreamers alike,” Shatner says, as rapid fire shots of Chicago’s expressways, architecture and notable city landmarks flash on the screen.

“But, here’s the thing: We’ve still got the fire in us, and you’ve still got the garage in you,” he adds.

Musk a finalist for high-speed rail to O’Hare

Competition to build an elusive high-speed rail line between a soon-to-be-expanded O’Hare Airport and Chicago’s Loop has been narrowed to two teams — and visionary billionaire Elon Musk is the captain of one of them.

Musk’s The Boring Company plans to create a “high-speed loop” using “electric pods” in underground tunnels he claims can be built for far less money because of the “boring” technology he has pioneered.

He will vie against O’Hare Xpress LLC, whose power player participants include Meridiam, Antarctica Capital, JLC Infrastructure, Mott MacDonald and First Transit.

A request for proposals will due on May 18 and is to determine the winner.

The project will permit travel corridors above or below ground and require stations at O’Hare and downtown with the possibility of finally using the empty Block 37 superstation that former Mayor Richard M. Daley spent $200 million to build.

Battle brewing over future of North Branch

Here’s one vision for a stretch of the aging industrial corridor along the North Branch of the Chicago River: A wide-open public park teeming with native grasses, wildlife and people enjoying the outdoors.

Here’s another: An urban “wall” of high-rises along the river, with little pockets and slivers of green space.

At least that’s how two North Side aldermen and their allies see the battle that’s brewing over the future of the North Branch, which is expected to see enormous growth.

Alderman Michele Smith, Alderman Scott Waguespack and their “great and growing alliance” are hoping to drum up support to build a 24-acre public park that would run along the river between North Avenue to the south and Cortland Street to the north. The leaders say the site is the last “large-scale” parcel remaining of the transforming 760-acre stretch along the river, with development “imminent” elsewhere.

Loyola fans want Sister Jean on ‘Ellen Show’

Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt has always been a campuswide celebrity at Loyola. But now with the success of the men’s basketball team, the 98-year-old basketball-loving nun’s stardom has grown to what she would call “international” status.

With all the attention Sister Jean has received, Loyola sophomore Tanea Crawford decided it’s time to get the nation’s March Madness darlin’ on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Crawford created an online petition on shortly after Loyola upset third-seeded Tennessee in the second round of the NCAA Tournament a week ago.

The original goal of 500 was met within the first 24 hours.

• This report was assembled in collaboration with the Chicago Sun-Times.


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