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Flanked by lawmakers and supporters, Gov. JB Pritzker picks up the nearly 800-page criminal justice reform bill after signing it into law during a ceremony at Chicago State University on the South Side on Feb. 22, 2021.

Flanked by lawmakers and supporters, Gov. JB Pritzker picks up the nearly 800-page criminal justice reform bill after signing it into law during a ceremony at Chicago State University on the South Side on Feb. 22, 2021.

Ashlee Rezin

The Rundown: Judge ruled ending cash bail is unconstitutional

Hey there. That arctic blast almost feels like a distant memory now that it’s over 50 degrees. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. A judge ruled the part of the SAFE-T Act that ends cash bail is unconstitutional

The ruling came late last night, just four days before cash bail was set to be eliminated statewide as part of a massive criminal justice reform law.

Kankakee County Chief Judge Thomas W. Cunnington said in the ruling that “the appropriateness of bail rests with the authority of the court and may not be determined by legislative fiat,” the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Cunnington’s decision came in a case that combined about 60 lawsuits from sheriffs and prosecutors across the state who said the controversial SAFE-T Act violated the state’s constitution. However, Cunnington did not issue an injunction with the ruling, meaning the decision is binding only in the areas of Illinois where plaintiffs filed lawsuits. Cook County is not among them.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said he plans to appeal Cunnington’s ruling to the state Supreme Court, while Gov. JB Pritzker called the judge’s decision a “setback.” [Sun-Times]

2. A one-time Springfield insider now spends his days tending to organic marijuana

Mike Noonan spent 25 years as an Illinois Democratic operative — working for longtime party boss Michael Madigan, on Lisa Madigan’s campaign for attorney general and as a lobbyist with a long list of clients.

But after a Springfield scandal last year, Noonan left politics — and Illinois — to embrace a new career as the owner of an organic marijuana farm and certified “ganjier” in southwest Michigan, as my colleague Dan Mihalopoulos reports.

Although Noonan was not personally implicated in the corruption scandal that ended Michael Madigan’s record run as speaker, he said it was the right time for him to leave politics.

“Let’s be honest,” Noonan said. “Maybe I wasn’t the best at identifying the people who shouldn’t be in politics, because obviously, I still like and care for plenty of folks who are now seen as scoundrels.” [WBEZ]

3. Chicago is the deadliest U.S. city for migratory birds. A delayed ordinance could help.

After a 2019 study found Chicago topped the list of U.S. cities where the most migratory birds die each year, a 2020 ordinance would have given birds more protections on the list of criteria the city uses to evaluate new buildings.

But the ordinance has been rewritten several times and softened, the Tribune reports. Now, planning officials say the new standards will be released in early 2023, but they haven’t shared details on what will be included.

“This is a continuing crisis, and it’s disappointing that Chicago has yet to do something about it,” Annette Prince, the head of Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, told the newspaper. “We’re leaders in architecture and design and should be the leader in bird safety.”

Activists like Prince have pushed for new buildings and those undergoing renovations to include patterned glass, which birds can see better — and therefore can help to lower the number of deadly crashes. But building owners have expressed concerns about costs. [Chicago Tribune]

4. Russia launches missiles at Ukrainian energy facilities

The Russian missiles that hit Ukraine today were the biggest wave of strikes in weeks. The attack damaged power stations and other critical infrastructure amid freezing winter weather, the Associated Press reports.

Russia launched 69 missiles and Ukrainian forces shot down 54, according to a Ukrainian military chief. Local officials say the attacks killed at least two people in Kharkiv and wounded at least seven others across the country. [AP]

Several residential buildings in the capital city Kyiv were destroyed, according to NPR. Kyiv’s mayor warned of power outages in Ukraine’s capital city and urged people to stockpile water and charge electronic devices. [NPR]

5. The history of one of Chicago’s favorite sledding spots

Have you ever flown a kite or gone sledding at Cricket Hill and wondered about the history of the 45-foot-tall, perfectly round hill on the North Side?

In the 1920s, the Chicago Park District planned a landfill extension project spanning from Montrose to Foster avenues. The Great Depression slowed those plans, but in the late 1930s, the area near Montrose was turned into a peninsula with a bathing beach and athletic fields, including a spot where people played cricket, which had been popularized across the city by recent British and Canadian immigrants.

Then, in the 1940s, the park district decided to construct a sledding hill near Montrose Avenue, our friends at Curious City report. The artificial hill was built using material excavated during a tunnel construction. Once built, the name was a no-brainer.

“It becomes pretty obvious that you can call it ‘Cricket Hill’ because it’s next to ‘Cricket Field,’ ” said WBEZ contributor Dennis Rodkin. [WBEZ]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Southwest Airlines says it will return to normal service tomorrow. [AP]
  • Pelé, the Brazilian soccer star who won a record three World Cups, died today at age 82. [AP]
  • The Justice Department is suing drug wholesaler AmerisourceBergen for allegedly fueling the opioid crisis. [NPR]
  • Pope Benedict stable but in serious condition, according to the Vatican. [AP]
  • The U.S. will require travelers from China to show a negative COVID test. [NPR]

Oh, and one more thing …

As 2022 draws to a close, NPR looked back on the year through the lenses of photographers across the country.

The year-end photo roundup includes shots of protests after Roe v. Wade was overturned and following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. There are moments of joy, like when Ketanji Brown Jackson became the first Black woman confirmed to the Supreme Court, and times of sorrow, like a photo of a vigil held after the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

The gallery of memorable moments also shows the ways the country continued to respond to COVID-19 and scrambled to distribute monkeypox vaccines. [NPR]

Tell me something good ...

What are your new year’s resolutions for 2023?

Colie writes:

“For 2023, I want to be more intentional. More specifically, I want to be intentional with my time. I want to reduce my screen time and spend more time doing what brings me joy. Whether that be reading, embroidery or spending time outdoors (yes, even in the cold!).”

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