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Chicago parking ticket

A parking ticket issued by the City of Chicago is displayed in this 2018 file photo.

Bill Healy

The Rundown: Chicago’s parking ticket blitz

Hey there! With the paywall coming down at the Chicago Sun-Times, I’d like to thank everyone who supports Chicago Public Media. It helps keep our journalism free to the public. And it also helps me buy insane birthday presents for my nephews, like a hoodie with a bunch of cats in tacos flying in space. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Watch those parking signs and feed those meters

That’s because the number of parking tickets doled out has increased 25.7% through the first six months of this year, reports my colleague Fran Spielman at the Chicago Sun-Times.

More than a million parking tickets have been issued so far this year, and that’s compared to about 854,000 from the same time last year.

The city’s 42nd Ward, which includes the downtown area, unsurprisingly accounted for most of the tickets, with a 31% increase that exceeded the citywide average.

But fewer vehicles are being booted.

“It’s down 12.6% — from 27,656 of the wheel-locking devices applied through June 30 of 2021 to just 24,158 vehicles booted during the same period this year,” Spielman reports. [Sun-Times]

2. Should the right to unionize be enshrined in Illinois’ constitution?

Voters across the state will answer that question in the Nov. 8 election, which will appear on the ballot as a Proposed Amendment to the 1970 Illinois Constitution.

“Proponents say the idea, which they call the Workers Rights Amendment, is simple: They think everyone working in Illinois should have the right to ‘organize and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing,’ ” reports my colleague Alex Degman.

But critics say the amendment would give unions too much power over their employers, and over the rights of lawmakers to be a check on that power. [WBEZ]

This debate is playing out amid a national wave of unionizing efforts, from Starbucks cafes to Amazon warehouses. In Chicago, this year is shaping up to see the most petitions for union elections filed in the last 12 years. [WBEZ]

3. Biden took a major step toward decriminalizing marijuana. Here’s how Illinois could benefit.

Local officials are applauding President Joe Biden’s decision this week to pardon low-level federal marijuana possession convictions, a move estimated to help about 6,500 people.

As the Chicago Tribune reports, the pardons will “likely have a small effect in Illinois, where thousands of people have already been pardoned.” [Chicago Tribune]

But something that could have a huge impact is Biden’s move to review whether marijuana should remain in the same legal category as heroin and LSD.

That opens the door to questions over whether cannabis should be decriminalized on the national level, and could be a huge win for Illinois-based companies looking to expand.

Nationally, 57% of Americans support legalizing marijuana for recreational and medical purposes, according to a 2021 Pew Research Center Poll. A separate poll from Gallup in 2021 found 68% supported legalizing marijuana. [Washington Post]

4. New AIDS and HIV cases in Chicago fell to their lowest numbers since the ’80s

Public health officials announced promising news this week when it comes to prevention efforts of AIDS and HIV: The number of new cases in 2020 fell to their lowest numbers since 1987 and 1985, respectively, reports the Chicago Tribune.

“It’s not just that HIV diagnoses are down, it’s that they are down for Black Chicagoans, white Chicagoans and Latinx Chicagoans of all ages,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, the city’s top public health official, in a statement.

“But we must remain focused on addressing disparities, knowing that more than half of new HIV diagnoses still occur in Black Chicagoans and that other (sexually transmitted illnesses) are on the rise, especially among younger people.”

Arwady and other health experts said the 2020 figures do come with a disclaimer: the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in fewer people seeking medical care in general in 2020. [Chicago Tribune]

5. The U.S.A., home of the free, the brave and … the unproductive?

Apparently the nation has more slackers than last year, according to NPR, but I wouldn’t know anything about that firsthand because I’m definitely not watching a Real Housewives episode as I type this newsletter from a bean bag chair.

“Data now shows that the U.S. workforce is not as productive as just a year ago — it seems people are not producing as much in the hours between clocking in and clocking out each day,” NPR reports. “In the end, this could have a profound effect on the country’s well-being, according to economists.” [NPR]

Speaking of jobs, U.S. employers last month added a solid 263,000 jobs, underscoring the challenges facing the Federal Reserve as the central bank seeks to tamp down inflation without triggering a recession. [AP]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Early signs are emerging of another winter COVID wave in the U.S. [NPR]
  • Here’s a recap of last night’s debate between Gov. JB Pritzker and GOP nominee for governor Darren Bailey. [WBEZ]
  • Chicago-area hospital workers are calling for more staff and higher wages. [WBEZ]
  • After years playing backup to major indie acts, Evanston musician Nora O’Connor steps out solo. [WBEZ]

Oh, and one more thing …

Man, don’t mess with orcas. Scientists say they have obtained the first direct proof that orcas hunt and kill great white sharks, one of the deadliest predators of the sea.

Drone and helicopter footage off the coast of South Africa captured a more than hourlong chase that resulted in at least two sharks being killed by a pod of whales.

As The Washington Post reports, “The footage could help explain the disappearance of great white sharks off the coast of South Africa in recent years, a decline that scientists and government officials had long suspected was due to killer whales, rather than illegal hunting or overfishing.” [WaPo]

Tell me something good ...

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

Katherine writes:

“Twenty-six years ago, my husband and I found common ground at Uncommon Ground, after connecting through an old-fashioned ad in the Reader!”

Ah yes, I remember the days when the Reader was a giant catalog of information. The paper’s old office actually had a counter near the entrance where you could place a classified ad.

Anyway, thank you so much for all the responses this week. I’m sorry I couldn’t include them all, but it was nice hearing from y’all.

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