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Beth Swanson (left), Mayor Rahm Emanuel's deputy chief of staff for education, has resigned. She is shown in 2011 at the 20th anniversary of After School Matters. With her are actress Joan Cusack and Jean-Claude Brizard, who was then CEO of Chicago Public Schools. Swanson eventually replaced Brizard at the bargaining table during a contentious 2012 teachers' strike. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Emanuel losing top education adviser

 
Beth Swanson (left), Mayor Rahm Emanuel's deputy chief of staff for education, has resigned. She is shown in 2011 at the 20th anniversary of After School Matters. With her are actress Joan Cusack and Jean-Claude Brizard, who was then CEO of Chicago Public Schools. Swanson eventually replaced Brizard at the bargaining table during a contentious 2012 teachers' strike. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Emanuel losing top education adviser

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is losing his point-person to the Chicago Public Schools — the woman who played a pivotal role in negotiating an end to the 2012 teachers strike.

Colin Collette, left, and his partner Will Nifong in Rome, where they became engaged. | Photo courtesy of Will Nifong

Catholic choir director fired after same-sex engagement

Colin Collette’s heart went from racing from elation to worry when his same-sex partner of five years proposed last week in Rome on the scenic Bridge of Angels. A joyful moment he’ll never forget would soon cost him a job as director of worship at Holy Family church in Inverness.

Kathy Byrne. Photo by Sun-Times Media

Campaign to honor ‘trailblazer' Jane Byrne started here

It’s a go! It’s done! And it’s two months to the day since this column started a campaign to right a wrong: The city’s failure to honor the legacy of its only woman mayor — Jane M. Byrne. In a unanimous vote, the City Council passed an ordinance Wednesday memorializing Byrne, who served from 1979 to 1983, by renaming the Old Chicago Water Tower Park to the Mayor Jane M. Byrne Plaza.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel opens the new quarters for Engine Company 16 of the Chicago Fire Department in 2012 | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times File Photo

Rahm: Strength of CPS diversity behind hiring preference plan

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday defended his decision to give graduates of Chicago Public Schools a leg up on city jobs — including Chicago firefighters.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel attends a roundtable discussion on increasing the minimum wage with minority-owned business owners. | Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times

'City of big hearts' can take in 1,000 immigrant kids, Rahm says

Citing his immigrant grandfather’s frightening flight from the pogroms of Eastern Europe, Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday defended his decision to open the city’s arms to 1,000 unaccompanied immigrant children fleeing violence in Central America.

A vendor weighs marijuana buds for card-carrying patients seeking the drug for medical reasons. Such shops could be coming to more Chicago neighborhoods under state law, though the Chicago City Council imposed what restrictions it could on Wednesday. | Getty Images

City Council approves medical marijuana rules

Chicago City Council members were critical of the lack of power they had been allowed under state law to regulate the location of medical marijuana dispensaries. But the council on Wednesday passed as much regulation as it was allowed, requiring that anyone wanting to sell or grow medical marijuana in the city would need zoning board approval, which would give neighbors a chance to have their concerns heard, aldermen said.

Guests drink wine at BYOB Swedish restaurant Tre Kronor, 3258 W. Foster Ave. Restaurants like this will be able to continue the city tradition of having allowing diners to bring their own alcohol. | Ashlee Rezin/for Sun-Times Media

BYOB stays; City Council excludes restaurants from crackdown

The Chicago City Council on Wednesday preserved the cherished city tradition of bringing your own alcohol to dinner at some restaurants. It exempted restaurants from a watered-down ordinance passed at the urging of Ald. Deborah Graham (29th); that measure allows aldermen to strip BYOB privileges from parts of their wards covering “no less than two contiguous city blocks” after notifying all other impacted businesses.

A new contract with Chicago firefighters approved Wednesday by the City Council will upgrade ambulance service. It also includes $32 million in back pay. | Sun-Times Media

Council passes firefighters contract with ambulance upgrade

A new firefighter contract approved by the Chicago City Council on Wednesday has almost none of the concessions Mayor Rahm Emanuel hoped for, but a city officials said he hopes the "collaborative" approach will carry over as they continue to seek ways to shore up the police and fire pension funds. The contract also will upgrade the city's ambulance service.

 
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