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A girl sits on her father’s shoulders as he speaks to a police officer while other migrants from Texas wait outside Union Station for a bus to take them to a city shelter in August.

A girl sits on her father’s shoulders as he speaks to a police officer while other migrants from Texas wait outside Union Station for a bus to take them to a city shelter in August.

Anthony Vazquez

The Rundown: Migrants in Chicago are getting expired meals

Good afternoon! You know we have a bright future ahead of us when one of the dudes behind the biggest technological achievement in recent history is basically saying “whoopsie.” Here’s what you need to know today.

1. What is Chicago’s long-term plan for migrants arriving from border states?

City officials are bracing for another influx of migrants, and it appears their strategy of using police stations as makeshift shelters is reaching a breaking point if it hasn’t already.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports migrants have been sleeping and eating on the floors of police stations, where they have been provided with expired meal rations. And infections and infestations have become a common problem.

“We need a coordinated effort from the city and the federal government,” said Mary Schaaf, a volunteer with the online community Refugee Community Connection. “And that’s what’s been lacking since back in August.”

Dr. Evelyn Figueroa of the Pilsen Food Pantry, who has been assisting in community efforts to help the new arrivals, said she is pushing City Council members to hire workers to coordinate social services at police stations.

“How long are we going to fight about politics and let people sleep in police stations?” Figueroa said. “We are trying to separate social work from policing, and yet we are coercing them into these roles we know are not right for them, not what they signed up for and overwhelm the police stations.” [Chicago Sun-Times]

2. At least six people are dead after a dust storm caused pileups on an Illinois highway

The deadly crashes took place in central Illinois near Springfield yesterday on Interstate 55, involving 40 to 60 cars and multiple tractor-trailers, two of which caught fire, officials said.

“The only thing you could hear after we got hit was crash after crash after crash behind us,” said Tom Thomas, who was traveling south to St. Louis.

The dust storm created a “whiteout situation,” blocking out almost all visibility, authorities said. More than 30 people were injured in the crashes.

“You couldn’t even see,” said Evan Anderson, who was returning home to St. Louis from Chicago. “People tried to slow down and other people didn’t, and I just got plowed into. There were just so many cars and semitrucks with so much momentum behind them.” [Chicago Sun-Times]

3. A frontrunner emerges in the search for an interim Chicago Police superintendent

Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson appears to be near a decision on who will serve as a temporary superintendent and, perhaps, audition for the permanent job.

Fred Waller, who rose through the ranks of the Chicago Police Department to chief of patrol, chief of operations and then third in command, emerged as a frontrunner this week for the interim job, report my colleagues Fran Spielman and Tom Schuba.

Waller served 34 years at the department before leaving under the turbulent tenure of now-departed Superintendent David Brown.

“His tenure as interim superintendent could be a trial run for the permanent job, especially if Chicago makes it through the summer without a surge of violent crime or a repeat of the mayhem last month that gave Chicago a black eye around the world,” Spielman and Schuba report. [Chicago Sun-Times]

4. Illinois’ House speaker, an ally to organized labor, faces a push from his own employees to unionize

Employees working in Illinois House Speaker Emmanuel “Chris” Welch’s office have declared their intent to unionize, citing low pay, confusing time-off policies and other grievances, reports WBEZ’s Alex Degman.

Two dozen employees have already begun the process toward unionizing as the Illinois Legislative Staff Association. But office officials will not voluntarily recognize their efforts.

“After being elected speaker of the House, Speaker Welch promised that it was a new day in Springfield,” said Brady Burden, an analyst in the research and appropriations unit and a member of ILSA’s organizing committee. “Unfortunately, it has been more of the same for his employees since the beginning of his tenure.”

Welch’s office did not offer comment by publication time. [WBEZ]

5. A nearly 300-year-old oak tree was cut down at Lincoln Park Zoo today

The 70-foot-tall bur oak tree, believed to be older than the city itself, had reached the end of its life cycle in recent years, reports my colleague Courtney Kueppers.

“I feel like we’ve all been commiserating together about the loss of such a beautiful tree,” said Katrina Quint, director of horticulture at the Lincoln Park Zoo. “It’s not an easy thing for us to do and it wasn’t an easy decision.”

The tree was located next to the zoo’s primate house. Officials decided to cut it down for safety reasons after efforts to save it were unsuccessful.

Quint and her team attempted to revive the tree by blasting the soil with oxygen, hoping the tree would get a nutrient boost.

“Unfortunately, we were a little bit too late in those efforts,” Quint said. [WBEZ]

Here’s what else is happening

  • President Joe Biden will meet with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and other congressional leaders as the federal government may be unable to pay its bills as soon as June 1. [AP]
  • Nearly a third of nurses nationwide say they are likely to leave the profession, according to a new survey. [NPR]
  • Hollywood screenwriters are on strike, saying they are not fairly paid in the shift to streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon and others. [NPR]
  • Some Like It Hot received 13 Tony nominations, the most in a season that saw many new plays and musicals take the stage. [NPR]

Oh, and one more thing …

It seems like I see more rats out every day when I walk my dog, raising the nightmare situation of throwing away garbage in the dumpster and having a rat pop out at me.

Chicago has entered a time of the year when rat complaints typically see a spike, reports my colleague Courtney Kueppers, citing 311 service requests. As of April 30, Chicagoans have sent in about 11,700 rat reports so far this year, but the busy season is just getting underway.

And the person leading the charge on those complaints is Josie Cruz, the head of Chicago’s bureau of rodent control.

“The rats are not there just because they want to be there. There’s a food source and it’s important that we cut that food source out,” Cruz said.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams recently made headlines by announcing a “rat czar” for the city — former school teacher Kathleen Corradi.

“I’m so happy that they picked a woman,” Cruz said. “You don’t have to be a man to be out there killing rats.” [WBEZ]

Tell me something good ...

It doesn’t feel like summer today, but we’re now in the summer movie season. My colleague Richard Roeper recently wrote about the movies he’s looking forward to seeing this summer.

Daniel writes:

Twister! I’ve always been an aspiring weather nerd but never had the math chops for real meteorology.”

Becky writes:

“It was a roasting hot summer day outside of Detroit in 1988 when we packed up the two kids, 8 and 11, and went to a movie.

“Thought Who Framed Roger Rabbit? would be fun. Somehow all we can remember is Jessica Rabbit, the sexiest toon ever!”

And Frank writes:

“It is, without a question, Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s got everything you want — action, romance, good guys and really bad guys (Harrison Ford said once “Nazis make the best bad guys”). I remember seeing it with my family at the old Edens theaters in Northbrook and then going back to see it with my friends.”

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

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