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Douglass Park music festival setup

Douglass Park during preparation for the Heatwave music festival in July.

The Rundown: The politics of Chicago music festivals

Good afternoon! It’s Monday, and I’m seeing Lady Gaga tonight at Wrigley Field. I’ll be the guy in khakis who looks like he got lost. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Local aldermen raked in campaign funds from music festival promoters as protests grew to oust the events from a public park

Douglass Park hosts three summer musical festivals on the city’s West Side: Riot Fest, Summer Smash and Heatwave.

And promoters behind those events have donated more than $62,000 since 2016 to the campaign funds of two City Council members who represent areas near the park, according to a WBEZ analysis.

The news comes as community organizers are calling artists to pull out of next month’s Riot Fest, which they’ve long tried booting from Douglass Park.

“What I’ve learned from organizing against Riot Fest is that if you’re rich, you can do literally whatever you want,” said Sara Heymann, who has been organizing against the festivals for years. “If you’re not, nobody cares what you think.”

The two council members who enjoyed support from festival promoters are Ald. George Cardenas and Michael Scott, who recently stepped down. In addition to the promoters, a lobbyist who has represented Riot Fest and Summer Smash has given a total of $68,500 in campaign contributions to the aldermen since 2015.

Cardenas said his support for the festivals has nothing to do with the donations. [WBEZ]

2. Highland Park schools prepare to welcome back students after a summer no one ever expected

This week marks the beginning of a new academic year for students in the Highland Park area.

And school district officials have spent weeks laying down plans for students and staff members who are struggling with trauma from the Fourth of July mass shooting that killed seven people and wounded dozens more.

“Unfortunately, there’s expertise in this area because of the number of shootings,” said Bruce Law, who leads Township High School District 113. “Now that we are in this awful club, it has been helpful to talk to individuals who have had more experience in doing what we’re trying to do.”

Jagger Barnes, a high school junior, said she has some anxiety but thinks getting back to class will be good for her.

“I feel like now more than ever it’s super important to get back to that and some sort of normalcy will be great,” she said. [WBEZ]

3. R. Kelly’s trial in Chicago begins

Jury selection began today in the second trial of disgraced R&B singer R. Kelly, who faces federal charges alleging he filmed sex acts with underage girls and conspired to rig his 2008 child-pornography trial, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

“Kelly’s new trial in Chicago looks to cover much of the same ground as the state-court child pornography trial in 2008, a case prosecutors say ended in acquittal because of payoffs to witnesses by Kelly, handled by his co-defendants and former employees, Derrel McDavid and Milton ‘June’ Brown,” the Sun-Times reports.

Authorities say one of the witnesses paid off was the victim at the heart of the 2008 case. That person, known only as “Minor 1” in court filings, denied she had sex with Kelly when she was 13 years old, but those denials were allegedly the result of payoffs and gifts to her and her parents. [Sun-Times]

4. The number of extremely hot days in Chicago could double by mid-century

More than 100 million Americans will live in an “extreme heat belt” by 2053, meaning they’ll likely see a heat index above 125 degrees more frequently and for longer periods of time, according to a report released today by First Street Foundation, a nonprofit research group. [NBC News]

The Washington Post has a tool allowing you to see how this extreme heat will affect where you live by searching your ZIP code.

In the next 30 years, the number of dangerously hot days will roughly double throughout Chicago. In the 60611 ZIP code that covers the Magnificent Mile, the number of days could increase to 15 from the current eight. [WaPo]

5. Four loose pigs have evaded police for weeks in a Chicago suburb

LOL ok just read this: “Four loose pigs have been hogging up space in a western suburb of Chicago,” reports NBC Chicago.

The pigs have been on the run for about two weeks in the village of Wayne, and authorities have called in a group called the Chicagoland Pig Rescue for help. And it sounds like they really do need all the hands they can get.

The village’s police department said a “team of bandits thwarted attempts from our officers” to capture the pigs, who then fled to a wooded area, the department wrote on Facebook earlier this month. I really need more info on these pig bandits.

But since the manhunt began for the pigs, officers were able to round up a herd of goats that got loose. Sounds like there’s never a dull moment in Wayne. [NBC Chicago]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Rudy Giuliani emerges as a central figure in a criminal investigation into possibly illegal attempts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia. [AP]
  • Iran denies it was involved in the attack on Salman Rushdie but justified the author’s stabbing. [AP]
  • Chicago police found the car involved in a deadly hit-and-run over the weekend outside a South Side gay bar. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • A new Chicago center aims to provide a sense of community and support for young people struggling with homelessness. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Oh, and one more thing …

I had no idea there was a way to figure out the most regrettable baby names in the U.S.

The Washington Post got numbers from the Social Security Administration for a list of most-changed names going back to 2017.

They found the top two names are Issac and Chole, misspellings of Isaac and Chloe. Rounding out the top 10 are Aiden, Conner, Elliot, Michael, James, Isabella, Sophia and David. [WaPo]

Tell me something good ...

As I mentioned up top, I’m heading to see Lady Gaga at Wrigley Field tonight. And I’d like to know what is one of your favorite concerts or shows you’ve seen, whether it’s a band, comedian, drag queen or anything else.

For me, one of the funniest drag shows I’ve seen was a competition in Lake View that had a talent section. Some of the queens actually sang. But Chicago drag queen Valentine got on stage with a bunch of beer cans and pretended to play them like glasses of water.

Feel free to email or tweet me, and your response might be shared in the newsletter this week.

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