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Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Wednesday, January 11, 2016.
President Barack Obama is "making a last-minute push for police overhauls in two of the nation's most violent cities, Baltimore and Chicago" before president-elect Donald Trump is sworn in, according to The New York Times. The U.S. Department of Justice is working quickly to finish its investigation into the Chicago Police Department and release its findings in the final days of the Obama administration. The department is "running out of time" to pursue a postinvestigation consent decree, which means the "police department is required to make significant changes under court supervision." Alabama senator Jeff Sessions, Trump's attorney general nominee, has spoken out against consent decrees in the past. "One of the most dangerous, and rarely discussed, exercises of raw power is the issuance of expansive court decrees," he wrote in 2008. "Consent decrees have a profound effect on our legal system as they constitute an end run around the democratic process." [New York Times]
Attorneys for Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke are asking the court to drop first-degree murder charges against their client for the 2014 shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. The legal team argued that "that Cook County prosecutors improperly used officers' statements to build their case," according to the Tribune. Also on Tuesday, the judge on the case ordered the release of most of McDonald's juvenile records to the defense team, something Van Dyke's attorneys have been seeking unsuccessfully for months. [Tribune]
President Barack Obama posted a message Tuesday about his adopted hometown before returning to Chicago to give his farewell speech at McCormick Place. "For Michelle and me, Chicago is where it all started," he wrote on his official Facebook page. "It's the city that showed us the power and fundamental goodness of the American people." [DNAinfo Chicago]
David Axelrod, former senior adviser to President Obama, revealed to a City Club of Chicago audience that he cried the night Congress passed the Affordable Care Act. Axelrod, who now runs the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, "sobbed" that night remembering how his family struggled with his daughter Lauren's epilepsy and how they could not switch insurance plans because of her preexisting condition. "I cried that night because I knew there were families all over this country who have felt the terror that we felt during that period," he said. [Sun-Times]
Showtime has picked up The Chi, a scripted show created by Chicagoan Lena Waithe about life on the south side for young black men. "I want the opportunity to tell stories that are not just about violence, but more about what is life like in a city that is riddled with violence," she told the Tribune in November. "To follow multiple black men from different walks of life, with different goals, and different ideas of what it means to be a man—and what it looks like trying to survive the south side of Chicago." Rapper and actor Common will be one of the show's executive producers. [Tribune] [Deadline Hollywood]
Stumptown Coffee Roasters, based in Portland, Oregon, is set to open its first cafe in the midwest in the upcoming Ace Hotel in the West Loop. The boutique hotel is set to open at 311 N. Morgan in the fall. In addition to a cafe from the cult-favorite coffee roaster, the hotel will feature a ground-level restaurant and a rooftop bar. [Eater Chicago]