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David Brown

Chicago Police Superintendent David O. Brown responds to a question during a news conference Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Chicago.

Charles Rex Arbogast

The Rundown: Chicago police shift gears ahead of the summer

Hey there! It’s Wednesday, and it’s my first day back in the office since forever. It’s been a real — [Editor’s note: Hunter loves taking a train to a bus to get to work]. Anyway, here’s what you need to know today.

1. The Chicago Police Department puts more cops on violent beats as summer approaches

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown recently announced efforts to focus on 55 police beats that have accounted for half the city’s violence in recent years, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

Part of this plan includes “pivoting away from a ‘crisis model’ initially adopted to manage civil unrest and focusing instead on patrolling the city’s most dangerous areas,” the newspaper reports. A police spokeswoman wouldn’t immediately provide a list of the 55 beats that are being targeted.

This new strategy may get its first test this weekend, which could see temperatures near 80 degrees on Saturday. [Sun-Times]

Meanwhile, staffing problems at the city’s Law Department have created a bottleneck in efforts to fire cops accused of misconduct. [WBEZ]

Elsewhere at City Hall, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is trying to shift attention away from violence and to the city’s economic recovery as she prepares to announce her bid for reelection. [Sun-Times]

2. The judge who tossed the federal mask mandate misunderstood a public health law, legal experts say

U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle’s decision to strike down a federal mask mandate for airplanes and public transportation is going under the microscope.

And legal experts say she misinterpreted the term “sanitation” used in the sprawling Public Health Service Act. The Biden administration argued that masks qualified as an effort to maintain sanitation during a pandemic, but Mizelle disagreed and opted for a more narrow definition of the term.

“If one of my students turned in this opinion as their final exam, I don’t know if I would agree that they had gotten the analysis correct,” said Erin Fuse Brown, a law professor at Georgia State University. [NPR]

Mizelle was appointed by former President Donald Trump. After she was nominated in 2020, the American Bar Association gave her a “not qualified” rating due to her lack of experience. [CNN]

Meanwhile, 56% of Americans want people to mask up on airplanes and public transportation, according to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. That’s compared to 24% who oppose and 20% who don’t care either way. [AP]

3. Putin sends a message to the U.S. and its allies during a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile

Russian President Vladimir Putin, overseeing a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile, today said the weapon will “provide food for thought to those who in the heat of frenzied aggressive rhetoric try to threaten our country,” reports The Washington Post.

The weapons test was planned and was not a surprise to U.S. officials, the Pentagon said.

Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres proposed meeting with Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at their respective capitals to “discuss urgent steps to bring about peace.”

In the nearly two months of fighting, more than 5 million people have fled Ukraine, according to the U.N.’s refugee agency. [WaPo]

4. Netflix’s real problem

Netflix stocks cratered today after the streamer announced it lost 200,000 subscribers in the first three months of the year, the first drop in customers in more than a decade.

As the company delivered the bad news, Netflix officials signaled they may crack down on an estimated 100 million households that use someone else’s password. And Netflix may backtrack on something that sets it apart from traditional TV — the absence of advertisements.

But the problems facing the streamer may be bigger than just subscriptions. Analysts point to a lack of must-see movies and TV shows amid growing competition. In recent months, HBO Max and Apple TV+ have ratcheted up their street cred with viewers, offering acclaimed shows like Station Eleven and Severance, respectively.

And Netflix has a giant weak spot — its sole focus on subscriptions for revenue.

“Look at Disney,” Jon Christian, a founder of the consulting firm OnPrem, told The New York Times. “It’s not only streaming but they have theatrical, they have theme parks, they have consumer products, they have ways to diversify, which gives them flexibility.” [New York Times]

5. Breaking piping plover news!

A new piping plover is on the scene in Chicago.

Block Club Chicago reports a rare piping plover was spotted this week at the South Side’s Rainbow Beach, and neighbors are cleaning the place up in the hopes the bird will stay and nest.

The bird is neither Monty nor Rose, the legendary couple that in 2019 became the first piping plovers to nest in Chicago since 1955. The pair also successfully took down an EDM festival that wanted kids to party on Montrose Beach, where the couple has nested for the last three years.

Piping plovers are endangered, with about 70 pairs nesting in the Great Lakes region, according to the Great Lakes Piping Plover Conservation Team. [Block Club]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Julian Assange is one major step closer to extradition to the U.S. [AP]
  • Mayor Lori Lightfoot asks critics of a Chicago casino if they’d rather have their taxes raised. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • Gov. JB Pritzker and GOP challenger Richard Irvin each spent about $10 million on ads during the first three months of the year. [Chicago Tribune]
  • Queen Elizabeth II turns 96 tomorrow. [Washington Post]

Oh, and one more thing …

Happy 4/20 to all those who celebrate the pot-smoking holiday. I recently had friends visit from out of the state who were genuinely surprised that recreational marijuana is legal in Illinois.

My friends over at the Sun-Time have this handy report on deals and events that are going on in celebration of 4/20. [Sun-Times]

Meanwhile, USA Today looks at movies that are great to watch while you’re toking up. The list includes The Big Lebowski, which makes sense.

But also … Annihilation? LOL, no thank you! I’m good not watching that mutant bear scene again, even sober. [USA Today]

Tell me something good ...

I’ll be honest. I’m bored and feeling “blah” lately. Maybe it’s the gloomy weather? Maybe it’s two years living in a pandemic? Or maybe I didn’t get enough coffee today?

So I’d like to know, what keeps you motivated?

Joanna Gonzalez writes:

“I think one thing keeping me going right now is my maternity leave coming up! I’m a 25-year-old, first-time mom who has been in the early childhood career for the last four years. I’ve never taken a vacation before, and worked teaching preschool remotely during the shutdown in Chicago before we went back right away in August.

“I’m very excited to start a new journey, my soon-to-be baby girl is my reason to keep going. I’ve only got two weeks left and I’m so excited to enjoy a stay-at-home parent life. Twelve weeks has never looked so appealing in my life, and I cannot wait to meet my new best friend!”

That’s amazing and congratulations! Feel free to hit me up, and your response might be shared in the newsletter this week.

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