Alderman Ameya Pawar in 2016 Credit: Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Welcome to the Reader‘s morning briefing for Wednesday, January 4, 2016.

  • Alderman Ameya Pawar is the first Democrat to throw his hat in the ring for 2018 race against Governor Bruce Rauner

Alderman Ameya Pawar will be running for governor of Illinois in 2018 on a progressive platform. Pawar, who’s called Governor Bruce Rauner the “original Donald Trump,” wants to advocate “that the state enact either a graduated income tax or impose a higher income tax on millionaires, in large part to increase education funding without gutting other programs,” according to the Tribune. Democratic businessmen J.B. Pritzker and Chris Kennedy have also expressed interest in running against Rauner in 2018, but Pawar is the first to make it official. “I have nothing against any of my fellow Democrats,” Pawar told the Tribune. “But I do believe there has to be a progressive voice and a progressive platform, and I’m going to go out there and talk about a progressive vision for Illinois.” [Tribune]

  • Eli’s Cheesecake has been hiring war refugees for years

Refugees from Iraq, Congo, and many other war-torn countries make up about 15 percent of the employees at Eli’s Cheesecake. “People who come as refugees have great skills,” Marc Schulman, the president of Chicago’s most famous cheesecake company, told NPR. “These are great performers, great people.” Hiring refugees who have resettled in Chicago is not a new practice for Eli’s. “I’ve been here at Eli’s for the past 22 years,” purchasing manager Elias Kasongo, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo who has been working at Eli’s since 1994, told NPR. “It’s my home; it’s a beautiful thing.” [NPR]

  • Retired city of Chicago employees outraged by released Rahm e-mail

Retired city of Chicago employees were not happy to read a released e-mail sent by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2015 “bragging about the now-completed, three-year phase-out of the city’s retiree health care program, including a 55 percent subsidy,” according to the Sun-Times. “I had to sell the house I lived in for 30 years and move by my son in Indiana where I could afford to live,” retiree Denis Greb told the newspaper. “I don’t think he even cares what he’s doing to people. He’s playing with people’s lives.” [Sun-Times]

  • What’s opening in Chicago in 2017, from restaurants to new Red Line stops

DNAinfo Chicago has compiled a list of 15 of the most interesting things coming to Chicago in 2017, from popular fast-food chain Culver’s to the controversial Wintrust Arena to the American Writers Museum. There are plenty of exciting restaurant openings on the list, including a new restaurant at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Jolly Pumpkin Brewery in Hyde Park. [DNAinfo Chicago]

  • Chicago loses its status as the nation’s bedbug capital

Baltimore has overcome Chicago as top city in the U.S. for bedbugs, according to Orkin’s annual ranking of bedbug-infested cities. Chicago moved down two spots, to number three behind Washington, D.C., which came in second place on the pest control company’s list. [NBC Chicago]

  • The state’s first meadery plans January opening in Beverly

Wild Blossom Meadery is set to become Illinois’s “first full-blown meadery” when it opens its tasting room in Beverly sometime this month, according to Eater Chicago. Mead (described as “an ancient boozy beverage made with fermented honey”), beer, wine, and ciders will be served at the tasting room near the Dan Ryan Woods. The new facility will have a catering kitchen for private events, a 24-tap system, and space for 60 people and brewing classes. [Eater Chicago]