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piping plover

A piping plover walks around Chicago’s Montrose Beach on July 19, 2019.

Manuel Martinez

The Rundown: Piping plover mania is here

Hey there! It’s Thursday! The sun’s out, the weather’s great, so why don’t we start this thing off with some good news and hometown pride? Here’s what you need to know today.

1. This week is shaping up to be something like the Met Gala for birdwatchers in Chicago

That’s because two new, endangered piping plovers have been spotted in just two days. And neither are Monty and Rose, the legendary couple that in 2019 became the first pair to nest in the city since 1955.

A new plover was seen yesterday at the North Side’s Montrose Beach, where Monty and Rose have nested for the last three years. [Block Club Chicago]

That sighting comes just a day after a plover was spotted on the South Side’s Rainbow Beach. This plover is a 5-year-old female known as (not a typo and not the name of Grimes’s new kid) “Of,bY:X,G,” according to the University of Minnesota Great Lakes Piping Plover Conservation Team.

It’s unclear if the Rainbow Beach plover is just making a rest stop or will nest, but the sighting means the beach is likely a suitable habitat for plovers, according to a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Will more plovers pop up? Fans say Monty appears to have taken flight from Texas, and they are hoping the little dude returns to Chicago.

Since Monty and Rose grabbed headlines in 2019, birdwatching has become more popular.

Matthew Dolkart, an Andersonville resident who picked up the hobby during the pandemic, said, “Spending a year just in appreciation of nature and everything that we have within this city — I think it’s been a really valuable lesson for me to appreciate even just the small little nooks that we have in the city and what it supports.”

The timeline for when some of the most cherished birds arrive is changing. Researchers say many birds are migrating much earlier, and that’s most likely due to climate change. [WBEZ]

2. The long sought-after Chicago casino is a hot potato

The three members of the City Council who represent areas where the casino could be located are all now saying no thanks, reports Block Club Chicago.

“No one wants to be in this position because you’re darned if you do, darned if you don’t,” said veteran Ald. Walter Burnett Jr., who now opposes a bid to put a casino at the Tribune Publishing site in his 27th Ward.

The two other bids call for a casino along the Chicago River in the South Loop and one just west of Soldier Field. The council members of those areas, Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez and Ald. Pat Dowell, have already taken a hard pass. [Block Club Chicago]

Mayor Lori Lightfoot earlier this week said she wasn’t going to let opposition get in the way of a casino that would help bail out police and fire pension funds.

“Would you rather that your taxes go up?” she asked opponents. [Chicago Sun-Times]

3. GOP leaders privately fumed about Trump after Jan. 6

U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Senator Mitch McConnell told associates in the days after the attack on the U.S. Capitol that then-President Donald Trump was responsible and “vowed to drive him from politics,” reports The New York Times.

“I’ve had it with this guy,” McCarthy reportedly told a group of Republican leaders.

And McConnell, at a lunch with two advisers, believed Trump’s political days were numbered.

“The Democrats are going to take care of the son of a bitch for us,” McConnell said, according to the Times, referring to an impeachment vote in the House.

But their tune changed “as it became clear it would mean difficult votes that would put them at odds with most of their colleagues,” the newspaper reports. [NYT]

Meanwhile, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is reportedly in discussions with the Justice Department about cooperating with its investigation of the insurrection in exchange for an immunity deal. [NYT]

4. Biden announces another $800 million in military aid to Ukraine

President Joe Biden today said he will spend $800 million more in military resources that will send Ukraine heavy artillery weapons, ammunition and tactical drones to Ukrainian forces.

The White House also announced a new program to accept 100,000 Ukrainian refugees. The program goes live on Monday and allows Ukrainian-Americans and non-governmental organizations to sponsor refugees. [NPR]

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed victory in the battle for the strategic port city of Mariupol, which has been bombarded for nearly two months.

The Associated Press reports that satellite images “showed more than 200 new graves in a town where Ukrainian officials say the Russians have been burying Mariupol residents killed in the fighting.” [AP]

5. Revisiting a Lightfoot “stunt” a year later

Mayor Lightfoot called out local media for their lack of diversity last May as she only granted one-on-one interviews with journalists of color for her two-year anniversary in office.

A year later, Black and brown journalists say they feel like they were used as props because her administration continued to give them little access, reports WBEZ’s Mariah Woelfel.

“The follow-up after has not been good at all, and that’s what’s left a sour taste in my mouth,” said Brandon Pope, president of the Chicago chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists. “And honestly, it kind of sours the entire thing, because it does feel like a stunt. And it does feel like we were used for political props.” [WBEZ]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Florida lawmakers voted to strip Disney of its special tax district in retaliation for the company’s criticism of the “Don’t Say Gay” law. [AP]
  • Elon Musk says he’s got enough money to take over Twitter. [NPR]
  • Chicago gets serious about its bid for the 2024 Democratic National Convention. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • Here are the locations for a third gas giveaway from businessman and mayoral candidate Willie Wilson. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Oh, and one more thing …

Do you ride a bicycle in Chicago? If so, WBEZ wants to hear from you.

As summer approaches, my colleagues want to hear from Chicago residents about what questions you have to help guide our coverage.

And it doesn’t matter what kind of cyclist you are. Are you a year-round biker, wearing the butt pad zip-up suits? You’re in. Just a casual rider on a Divvy bike? Hit us up. [Google Doc]

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?

Dawn writes:

“To cheer yourself up, pick a neighbor to do something nice for, like leaving a gift and note at their door or inviting them out for coffee. Being neighborly always leaves me feeling happier.”

Marie Biersdorf writes:

“When I am feeling unmotivated or blah, I try to tackle one small manageable task. That often gets my momentum going, and before I know it, I have several things accomplished. You don’t feel blah at that point!”

And Dennis Theodoratos writes:

“Recently I’ve been tuning into me and doing what makes me happy. I practice the physical postures of yoga which provides my body ease. Then I incorporate the mind with meditation. Then I focus on others and help where I can without forcing it. Oh and most importantly I’ve been dancing a lot and singing in my car. That’s always fun!”

Feel free to hit me up, and your response might be shared in the newsletter this week.

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