Lester: Alvarez's schedule reveals some details of McDonald investigation

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez's schedule shows she met with U.S. Attorney Zach Fardon five times during the year between the shooting of a black Chicago teen by a white police officer and her move to charge the officer with first-degree murder. Alvarez also met half a dozen times with her office's special prosecutors divisions about the drawn-out and politically charged shooting of Laquan McDonald.

But the case didn't come up at two meetings on Alvarez's calendar - a meeting in July with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a joint meeting with former Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans in September, Alvarez's spokeswoman Sally Daly tells me.

Alvarez has been criticized for moving too slowly in charging officer Jason Van Dyke with murder.

In addition to the formal meetings, "Alvarez was receiving continuous updates and meeting internally with staff and representatives from the U.S. attorney's office and the FBI in regards to the Laquan McDonald investigation," Daly said.

Documents withheld

Alvarez's schedule was released this week, several weeks after a response to my Dec. 3 Freedom of Information Act request was due under state law.

Other parts of that request - for a timeline of the investigation and copies of email communications, discussions and reports about the case - were denied by Alvarez's office on the grounds that they are part of an investigation that is ongoing.

The case put Alvarez in the fight of her political life. She's in a three-way Democratic primary against Kim Foxx, who is Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's former chief of staff, and Chicago attorney Donna More. Both of Alvarez's opponents say they would have acted more quickly and transparently on the case.

Finishing her term

Illinois first lady

Bruce Rauner took the oath of office as Illinois' governor in 2015 while his wife, Diana, held the Bible in Springfield. Associated Press

Diana Rauner's new chief of staff - Emily Bastedo of Elmhurst - plans to serve the remainder of her term on the Elmhurst District 205 school board, despite her new position that will require frequent trips to Springfield, I'm told by administration officials. The mother of two boys was a key voice in the school district's flood mitigation joint efforts with the city of Elmhurst and the Elmhurst Park District last fall. Her term ends in 2017.

That smoke

Notice a lot of smoke as you've been driving through Lombard in recent days? It's from the DuPage County Forest Preserve District's deliberate burns to remove "invasive vegetation" at Babcock Grove Forest Preserve and Churchill Forest Preserve.

On the short list

I stopped for a

  Emerson's Ale House in Mount Prospect. Steve Lundy/

post-run beer at Emerson's Ale House in Mount Prospect the other day and was delighted to learn the restaurant has been chosen by Goose Island Brewery as one of a select few locally to give a test run to its new "Blue Line" beer. Bartenders said Blue Line is selling well and Emerson's is going through roughly a keg a week of the stuff. I was a fan of the hoppy pilsner, I'll admit.

Best buds

Voda "Betsy" Ebeling, Hillary Clinton's longtime friend and an Illinois native, at left. Daily Herald File Photo

Among the delegates and local supporters of Hillary Clinton to head to Iowa for the caucus this weekend is Clinton's childhood friend Voda "Betsy" Ebeling of Arlington Heights, I'm told by the campaign. The pair, who grew up together in Park Ridge, are known to have slumber parties when Hillary stops for a visit to the 'burbs.


The Maine Township and Niles Township Republicans have joined forces to organize a special screening of "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi" at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Pickwick Theater in Park Ridge. Perhaps not coincidently, the theater is a favorite spot of Clinton's.

The deal includes soda and popcorn for $15. Niles Township Committeeman Joe Hedrick tells me the movie was plugged by former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh and the Illinois Review blog and they hope to have about 150 attendees.

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