Governor Bruce Rauner Credit: Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Welcome to the Reader‘s morning briefing for Tuesday, September 26, 2017.

  • Rauner slams NFL players who protest the American flag, national anthem

Governor Bruce Rauner is taking heat for his comments regarding NFL players who protest the American flag and the national anthem before games. “I strongly disagree with those who disrespect our flag and our anthem,” Rauner, who’s a part owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, told Politico via a spokesman Monday. “To me they are disrespecting the foundations of our country, the veterans who risked their lives for our democracy, and the men and women who fight every day and make the ultimate sacrifice to defend our liberties.” President Donald Trump recently used a profanity to describe NFL players who protest before games and called for them to be fired, which sparked a bevy of pregame protests Sunday. But Rauner took issue with firing any such protesters, saying, “our country is great because it guarantees freedom of expression, so people can choose to be disrespectful.” The Democratic Governors Association and gubernatorial candidates J.B. Pritzker and Daniel Biss quickly criticized Rauner. “The decision of NFL players to take a knee to protest racial injustice is entirely American. It is an expression of our country’s foundational rights and beliefs,” Pritzker said in a statement. “I would urge Donald Trump and Bruce Rauner to redirect their outrage to our broken criminal justice system instead of a peaceful protest.” [Politico]

  • Sharon Fairley resigns from police oversight agency to run for attorney general

The chief of the city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability, Sharon Fairley, is resigning from the new agency to run for Illinois attorney general, according to the Tribune. Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed Fairley chief administrator of the Independent Police Review Authority in 2015, and she helped transform the controversial agency into COPA, which just opened its doors September 15. “The agency has been built and designed so that it can be successful, no matter who is the chief administrator,” COPA spokeswoman Mia Sissac told the Sun-Times. “Sharon is a phenomenal leader and her vision has been realized. Her goal was to get it up and [running.] She’s done that. . . . The agency now has the resources to do what it needs to do.” [Tribune] [Sun-Times]

  • Chicago Public Schools will not cut budgets of schools with declining enrollments this year

Chicago Public Schools will not slash the budgets of schools with declining enrollments in the 2017-2018 school year, city officials announced Monday. “We have heard from so many of you that stability for planning is crucial to having the strongest possible school year,” CPS chief executive officer Forrest Claypool wrote in an e-mail to principals. “As a result, schools that experienced enrollment declines beyond initial projections will be held harmless this year and continue to operate with the budgets you received in July.” Schools with more students enrolled than expected will get additional funding to compensate. [DNAinfo Chicago]

  • Michael Bloomberg gives $2.5 million to fund soda tax study at UIC

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has already invested millions in ads promoting Cook County’s controversial sweetened beverage tax. Now he’s giving $2.5 million to fund a University of Illinois at Chicago study on the tax’s long-term impact through Bloomberg Philanthropies. “Taxes like this may be good at raising revenue, but do they have an impact on public health?” Lisa Powell, the study’s lead investigator and the director of health policy and administration at the university’s School of Public Health, said. “The whole point is to look at this objectively, over time, in order to understand its true impact on all fronts, from public health to effect on the economy. . . . At the end of the day, you want the best policy possible.” [Tribune]

  • A Rascal Flatts restaurant is coming to the West Loop (seriously)

A Rascal Flatts restaurant is set to open in the Fulton Market District, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. The country band has licensed its name for a nationwide chain of restaurants featuring live music, though so far only one location has opened, in Stamford, Connecticutt. [Crain’s Chicago Business]