J.B. Pritzker speaks to the media as Illinois secretary of state Jesse White and others look on at MacArthur's Restaurant on Tuesday. Credit: Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune via AP

Welcome to the Reader‘s weekday news briefing.

  • J.B. Pritzker under fire for comments about African-American elected officials in newly released Blagojevich tape

Democratic gubernatorial front-runner J.B. Pritzker has hit a roadblock in the race for governor with the release of new audio from the infamous FBI-wiretapped phone conversation he had with then-governor Rod Blagojevich in 2008. The billionaire businessman and the now-disgraced governor were discussing who should fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama after he was elected president. In the conversation with Blagojevich, Pritzker suggests Illinois secretary of state Jesse White for the role because he is the “least offensive” of the African-American candidates in the running and will “cover you on the African-American thing.” His Democratic opponents in the heated race for governor quickly condemned the phone call. “Our true character shows when we think no one is watching. J.B.’s conversations with Blagojevich are disqualifying and they’re a reflection of his integrity,” opponent Chris Kennedy said in a statement. State senator Daniel Biss discussed how the call exemplifies corruption. “For too long our broken system has allowed the wealthy to have unfettered access to the decision-makers in our government,” he said in a statement. “That’s what breeds corruption. And when that access involves two influential white men making political calculations based on skin color, that’s what perpetuates a racist system.” Joined by White at a news conference Tuesday, Pritzker apologized for the comments, saying he was “not my best self” during the call. [Tribune]

  • Jeanne Ives is “a little bit surprised at some of the hysteria” over campaign ad

Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeanne Ives says she’s “a little bit surprised at some of the hysteria” surrounding her campaign’s controversial ad, which slams transgender rights, undocumented immigrants, Chicago Teachers Union members, and women who have had abortions, among other liberal targets. “The commercial does not attack people, it tackles issues, I truly believe illustrating the constituencies Rauner has chosen to serve, to the exclusion of others,” Ives, a state representative running from the right against Governor Bruce Rauner in the GOP primary, said at the City Club of Chicago Monday. [Tribune]

  • Attorney for indicted Cook County judge: “Mistakes are not fraud”

The trial of indicted Cook County judge Jessica Arong O’Brien is under way. O’Brien allegedly made $325,000 by lying to lenders about a $1.4 million involving two south-sides properties. Her attorney’s defense is that O’Brien made mistakes but shouldn’t be on trial for them. “Mistakes are not fraud,” attorney Ricardo Meza said. [Sun-Times]

  • University of Chicago Law School students cancel controversial debate on immigration

The University of Chicago has been praised and criticized for allowing an event featuring Steve Bannon to move ahead, but an upcoming debate on immigration has been canceled by students. The law school’s Edmund Burke Society canceled its own debate after its alleged use offensive rhetoric to promote the event caused an uproar among students. [Inside Higher Ed]

  • Ranking: The Peninsula and the Langham among the nation’s top three hotels

The Peninsula Chicago and the Langham Chicago were named two of the top three hotels in the U.S. by U.S. News & World Report. The magazine named the Four Seasons Resort Lanai in Hawaii as the top hotel with the Peninsula coming in second place and the Langham in third place. The Langham dropped two spots after being named the top hotel in the U.S. in the same ranking last year. [U.S. News & World Report] [h/t Tribune]

  • The end of an era: The oldest restaurant in Chinatown has closed

Won Kow served diners for 90 years in Chinatown before closing February 1. It was the oldest restaurant in Chinatown, and rumor has it even Al Capone ate there. [Eater Chicago[