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Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Monday, April 10, 2017.
Prosecutors are seeking a prison sentence of more than seven years for former Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, according to the Tribune. "She knew her victims, she knew their weaknesses and struggles, and she chose to defraud them anyway," the prosecutors wrote in a document recommending that Byrd-Bennett, who pleaded guilty in 2015 for her part in a kickback scheme, spend nearly seven and a half years in prison. "She sold her integrity and sold out the students of the Chicago Public Schools, and then she worked to enrich herself and her co-schemers at the expense of CPS, its students, its teachers, its administrators and the city of Chicago," the prosecutors wrote. Her defense team asked U.S. district judge Edmond Chang for a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence. She's scheduled to be sentenced April 28. [Tribune]
Mayor Rahm Emanuel agrees with one decision that President Donald Trump has made: the cruise missile strike against an air base in Syria after the Assad regime killed 86 Syrians with chemical weapons. "There's a standard when chemical weapons were used in World War I. It was a declaration where the world was gonna be," the mayor said. "And there's one person that can make sure that we hold up our values—our human values and values across the waterfront, and that's the [president of] the United States of America. So, I support it." [Sun-Times]
Authorities have allegedly linked 35-year-old south-side resident Antonio Smith to three rapes and one murder through DNA evidence. Smith has been charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, and aggravated criminal sexual assault with a weapon for the attacks, which took place in 2002, 2007, and 2010. Smith's DNA was collected after he was convicted of felony retail theft in 2012 and eventually linked to the cold cases, according to authorities. [DNAinfo Chicago]
The few remaining Metra cash-only ticket kiosks will be gone by April 30. Riders will be able to pay cash on the train without an extra fee, except at the Millennium or Van Buren stations, where agents accept cash. "We have seen steady declines in ticket sales through cash-only vending machines as more customers opt for credit card and mobile purchasing, and it is no longer cost efficient to maintain them," Metra spokesman Michael Gillis told DNAinfo Chicago. Eliminating the 15 cash-only kiosks will save Metra $534,000 a year, according to Gillis. [DNAinfo Chicago]
The board of Chicago State University named former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas as a top interim administrator and the university's former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Rachel Lindsey, as interim president Friday. Governor Bruce Rauner appointed Vallas to CSU's board of trustees in January but Vallas resigned to pursue the interim job, according to the Tribune. The university has been deeply affected by the state budget impasse: the graduation rate is down to 11 percent, enrollment has fallen significantly since 2010, and hundreds of employees have lost their jobs. "We must rebuild. We must give the students the education they pay for," interim university president Cecil B. Lucy said at the board meeting. "And we must change the public narrative in emphasizing the greatness we continue to do and the successes we continue to have." [Tribune]
The Chicago Mariachi Project is preserving Mexican culture by offering local students lessons at schools across the city. "Imagine if we, as Mexicanos, if we would lose our culture, our language, our tradition, that would be a tragedy of massive proportions," the organization's president and founder Álvaro Obregón told WBEZ. Not only do the students learn to play mariachi music but they also learn about Mexican culture and geography. "What I like best about mariachi music is that it's my culture, my traditions," said Carlos Vilchis, a 12-year-old student at the CMP academy. "Mariachi means for me a lot, because my grandpa, he used to play violin, and I used to watch him all the time." [WBEZ]