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A rider uses a Ventra card to pay for service in September 2022.

Lou Foglia for WBEZ

The Rundown: The CTA navigates a murky future

Hey there! What a beautiful day we’re having. The Chicago area is expected to see highs in the low- and mid-70s until Friday, so enjoy it while it lasts. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Can the Chicago Transit Authority win back riders before it’s too late?

Officials at the Chicago Transit Authority are currently on a campaign to boost ridership that plummeted during the pandemic and has struggled to gain momentum amid unreliable service, a labor shortage and a spike in crime on buses and trains.

And it’s unclear if those efforts will be enough to get the nation’s second largest public transit system back where it was before COVID-19 upended life as we knew it, reports Rebecca Holland for WBEZ.

The CTA so far has recovered about 60% of riders. That’s compared to 55% in the Bay Area and 69% in New York City.

But fares account for a sizable portion of the CTA’s budget, putting its financial future in doubt at a time when the U.S. could be headed for an economic recession. [WBEZ]

2. A PlayStation 3 and allegations of police misconduct upend the case against three men accused of killing a Chicago officer

The prosecution of three men accused of killing Chicago Police Officer Clifton Lewis in 2011 has become frayed amid allegations of police misconduct, reports my colleague Andy Grimm at the Chicago Sun-Times.

And at the center of one of those allegations is a PlayStation 3.

Lawyers for one of the three men, Tyrone Clay, say the now-obsolete device shows Clay was playing a video game — with audio recordings of him trash talking opponents — the night Lewis was killed.

“This PlayStation is his alibi,” said Assistant Public Defender Marijane Placek, Clay’s attorney.

Lawyers for the three men say evidence continues to pop up a decade later because police and prosecutors committed a “cornucopia” of misconduct as they tried solving the high-profile case. [Chicago Sun-Times]

3. The Voting Rights Act is once again on the chopping block

The U.S. Supreme Court today heard arguments in a case that could “put another nail in the coffin of the landmark Voting Rights Act,” reports NPR’s Nina Totenberg.

The case comes from Alabama, where the Republican state legislature is accused of diminishing the power of Black voters in a new congressional map.

“More than a quarter of the state’s population is African American, but in only 1 of 7 districts do minority voters have a realistic chance of electing the candidate of their choice,” Totenberg reports. “Black voters are either concentrated in that district so they are a supermajority there or spread out across the remaining six districts so that their voting power is diluted.”

The case, Merrill v. Milligan, comes as the Supreme Court has twice struck down or neutered major portions of the Voting Rights Act since 2013. [NPR]

4. The wait time for an Illinois abortion provider near St. Louis has skyrocketed from four days to two-and-a-half weeks

That’s according to Planned Parenthood officials who oversee a health center in Fairview Heights, which is just 20 miles away from the Missouri border, reports my colleague Tina Sfondeles at the Chicago Sun-Times.

The news comes as Planned Parenthood announced its first mobile abortion clinic will be located in southern Illinois to help handle an influx of out-of-state patients. Officials say the mobile unit will be running before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the number of patients seeking a vasectomy has increased by more than 240% across Missouri and southern Illinois since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, according to Planned Parenthood. [Chicago Sun-Times]

5. How that viral drone video of Wrigley Field was made

A four-minute drone video of the Friendly Confines has racked up more than 7 million views since the Chicago Cubs posted it online as an end-of-season thank you message to fans.

My colleague Courtney Kueppers takes a look into how the viral video was made one weekend in late July and included several takes to nail down the final cut.

“You have to run these takes a handful of times before you get it right, because there’s always a small thing that goes wrong,” said Michael Welsh, who piloted the drone through the nooks and crannies of Wrigleyville.

Welsh said he did crash one time attempting to fly the drone through the open windows of a firetruck — a shot that appears around the video’s one-minute mark. [WBEZ]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Country music star Loretta Lynn died at age 90. [NPR]
  • The Onion filed a brief in support of a man who was arrested and prosecuted for making fun of police on social media. [AP]
  • You can get a free joint for every 10 gallons of gas you purchase at gas stations in rural New York. [New York Times]
  • Two people will be able to stay at the cottage from Hocus Pocus for a mere $31. [NPR]

Oh, and one more thing …

NPR’s Planet Money takes a look at how the “Black Metropolis” of Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood is booming again after falling on hard times in the 1950s and 1960s.

“Not only has Bronzeville seen a dramatic revival over the last few decades, but the community stands out in a new study as one of the roughly five percent of American neighborhoods that had a high rate of poverty in 2000 but has since seen the rise of ‘inclusive prosperity.’

“The term refers to neighborhoods that saw economic growth and a large reduction of poverty without experiencing what people might call gentrification,” reports Planet Money. [NPR]

Tell me something good ...

What are some great places to go on a date in the Chicago area?

Kate DeVille writes:

“The best date I ever had was a Saturday spent at the Chicago Botanical Garden. It was a perfect fall day, we walked and talked for hours. It was absolutely wonderful. Afterwards we went over to dinner at Grandpa’s in Glenview. Great burgers and brews.”

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

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