Cook County Board president Toni Preckwinkle Credit: Maria Cardona/Sun-Times

Welcome to the Reader‘s morning briefing for Monday, July 17, 2017.

  • Cook County hands layoff notices to about 300 employees

Cook County handed out about 300 layoff notices to employees Friday as the fate of the sugary drink tax remains uncertain. Hundreds more county employees might be laid off if a lawsuit blocks the law from being implemented. Cook County Board president Toni Preckwinkle hopes to raise $68 million from the penny-per-ounce tax on sugary beverages and says 1,100 total jobs will be cut if it does not go through. The tax was supposed to take effect July 1, but a lawsuit by Illinois Retail Merchants Association has it in legal limbo. “Unfortunately, the lawsuit filed by the IRMA and others just days before the tax was to take effect has led to what is likely to be a protracted legal fight,” Preckwinkle said. “And while we believe we will ultimately prevail, we must take fiscally responsible actions now.” [Sun-Times]

  • The Illinois budget deal won’t solve public universities’ many fiscal issues

Public universities in Illinois will receive state funding for the 2017-2018 school year thanks to the new state budget, but that won’t solve all the problems that piled up during 736 days without one, according to the Tribune. “You don’t get one year’s funding and have people say, ‘Oh, Illinois is totally fixed now,’ ” Chicago State University interim president Rachel Lindsey told the Tribune. “I don’t think it would be in our best interest to think of ourselves as out of the woods just yet.” [Tribune]

  • Anti-violence activist Willie Cooper, nine-year-old boy shot to death in weekend violence

Gun violence killed ten people in the city between Friday and Sunday morning, including a 9-year-old boy and an anti-violence activist. South-side community center head Willie Cooper, 58, was shot to death near the center Saturday afternoon. “Willie is preventing violence, trying to find jobs for ex-offenders, working in this community,” his friend Bamani Obadele told ABC 7 Chicago. “I almost want to name him the Mayor of 95th Street.” More than 40 people were shot from Friday through Sunday morning. [Reuters]

  • Rahm heads to London, Milan, and Berlin to promote Chicago business

Mayor Rahm Emanuel traveled to Europe over the weekend to promote jobs in Chicago, according to City Hall. He stopped in Berlin first (he was pictured there Saturday), and is also set to visit London and Milan. He’s scheduled to meet with the mayors of each city and “work to increase innovation collaboration between the cities and establish new higher education partnerships,” according to the mayor’s office. “Chicago’s tech scene has been recognized nationally and internationally and will be the foundation for my trip to Europe, in the sense of cooperation and also agreements we’ll be signing, all in the tech space, in three different cities,” he said Thursday. [Tribune]

  • Microsoft and Exelon have donated at least $1 million to the Obama Foundation

Microsoft and Exelon have both given at least $1 million to the Obama Foundation, according to the nonprofit’s records. Some other interesting names appear in the records: Hollywood director J.J. Abrams donated between $100,001 and $250,000 through a family foundation, and Grosvenor Capital Management chairman and CEO Michael Sacks and his wife, Cari Sacks, have also given at least $1 million. [Crain’s Chicago Business]

  • Steak 48, from the family that started Mastro’s, opened in River North over the weekend

Chicago gained yet another steak house over the weekend. Founded by the Mastro family (of Arizona-based Mastro’s Steakhouse), Steak 48 might stand out from the crowd: “responsibly farmed” steaks are served on 500-degree plates, and there’s a steak Farina, a grilled fillet topped with a fried egg and named after family friend Dennis Farina. [Eater Chicago]