Former president Barack Obama speaks at a community event on the Obama Presidential Center at the South Shore Cultural Center in Chicago in May 2017. Credit: AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File

Welcome to the Reader‘s weekday news briefing.

  • Activists clash with aldermen over community benefits at Obama Presidential Center hearing

A City Council hearing on the Obama Presidential Center “ran into shouts of ‘Shame on you!’ by a group that wants a community benefits agreement to protect residents living near Jackson Park” after the City Council Black Caucus lauded the center’s designers for hiring minority contractors, according to the Tribune. The Obama Foundation hired five construction firms, most of them black owned, to build the center, which caucus chairman alderman Roderick Sawyer argued is a better deal than what the activists are asking for, a signed agreement promising that the center will hire people who live near Jackson Park. “This is the first time we have black entities running this contract, this half-a-billion dollar-plus construction project,” Sawyer said Wednesday. “I think people are still stuck in that mentality where they’re asking for assistance from white people instead of demanding that black people are in control of the project. What better community benefits than when community people are in charge of the contract?” But activists are still concerned that the center will change the neighborhood. “We cannot take the president’s word on the fact that they’re not going to push African-Americans out with the Obama Presidential Center,” protester Jitu Brown said. “So we’re saying that there’s no history that says their word is worth anything. What we need is an in-writing community benefits agreement that says that people who live in those communities will benefit, not benefit in a profiteering way, but jobs, investment in neighborhood elementary schools, transportation infrastructure.” [Tribune]

  • Where the gubernatorial candidates stand after fourth quarter fund-raising

Democratic gubernatorial front-runner J.B. Pritzker was far ahead of the large pack of candidates for governor in fourth quarter fund-raising after raising $21 million. Even prolific fund-raiser Governor Bruce Rauner only raised $2.9 million, but he still has significantly more money in the bank than Pritzker, with $55.6 million compared to Pritzker’s $7.86 million. Democrats Chris Kennedy and Daniel Biss are the only two other candidates who raised more than $1 million during the quarter. [Tribune]

  • Luis Gutierrez, Jan Schakowsky endorse progressive Marie Newman over incumbent Dan Lipinski

U.S. representatives Luis Gutierrez and Jan Schakowsky are endorsing Marie Newman over incumbent U.S. representative Dan Lipinski in the Democratic congressional primary. Newman is more progressive than Lipinski, who is one of the most centrist Democrats in Congress. “The people of Illinois’s Third District want a pro-health care, pro-immigrant, pro-woman, pro-LGBTQ Member of Congress to represent them in Washington. Unfortunately, the current member does not reflect those values, which is why I am endorsing Marie Newman for Congress,” Schakowsky in a statement. “Marie Newman is a bold progressive with real experience fighting bullies, just like the one in the White House. We need more women like Marie Newman in Congress.” [Sun-Times]

  • City clerk Anna Valencia discusses her struggle to be taken seriously as a woman in politics

Chicago city clerk Anna Valencia and other female elected officials stood together at City Hall Wednesday and wore black in solidarity with the “Me Too” movement. Valencia shared her stories of not being taken seriously as a woman in politics. Constituents actually send e-mails to the clerk’s office complaining about her “shrieky” voice, makeup, hair, clothing, and more. “It’s just peoples’ comments and perceptions in the Council and in politics—that you’re young, you’re a woman, [questioning] whether you’re up for the job, whether they take your meeting or go over your head and go directly to the mayor and try to undercut you,” she said. “But, I luckily had bosses who said, ‘No. You have to work with Anna.'” [Sun-Times]

  • Mothman sightings continue to plague Chicago

Sightings of the mothman are not dwindling in Chicago. There were 55 reported sightings of the paranormal, flying humanoid creature in Chicago in 2017, according to Vice News. “I saw a plane flying, but also something moving really awkwardly under it,” John Amitrano, who says he saw the mothman after working a security shift at the Owl in Logan Square last summer, said. “It didn’t look like a bat so much as what illustrations of pterodactyls look like, with the slenderness of its head and its wing shape. I know what birds and what bats look like. This thing didn’t have any feathers or fur, and it didn’t fly like anything I’ve ever seen.” [Vice News]

  • Fulton Market District restaurant-cocktail bar Honey’s closes

Critically acclaimed cocktail bar and restaurant Honey’s has closed after just 18 months, according to Eater Chicago. The Fulton Market District eatery laid off all of its staff and closed January 9 without any notice. [Eater Chicago]