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Veronica Saldaña hands out breakfast to migrants who are living in or near Chicago’s 12th District police station.

Veronica Saldaña hands out breakfast to migrants who are living in or near Chicago’s 12th District police station.

Manuel Martinez

The Rundown: Everyday Chicagoans step up to help migrants

Good afternoon! I played one of my favorite games over the weekend — nap roulette, which involves taking a nap without setting an alarm. Anyway, here’s what you need to know today.

1. Nonprofits, advocates and everyday Chicagoans step up to help asylum-seekers as city officials stumble

It has been almost a year since migrants began arriving in Chicago from southern border states, and the so-called welcoming city still lacks an infrastructure to provide housing and other basic needs from more than 11,000 asylum-seekers.

The urgent need for help has driven nonprofits, advocates and everyday Chicagoans to step up, reports WBEZ.

“We’re definitely a last line of defense for them — their only line of defense in some ways, right?” said Veronica Saldaña, a volunteer who helps migrants housed at a police station on the near West Side.

More than 770 people were staying in police stations across the city as of Friday. Many of them are waiting for a spot in city shelters that are already housing more than 5,260 people.

“This isn’t life,” said Alex Rossi, who sleeps in a tent outside a police station. “You can rest, but this isn’t life.” [WBEZ]

2. Vice President Kamala Harris visited Chicago to celebrate the legacy of Rev. Jesse Jackson

The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Sunday officially stepped down as president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the national organization that has long extended Jackson’s influence from Chicago’s South Side.

“Today we celebrate one of America’s greatest patriots, someone who deeply believes in the promise of our country, a fighter for freedom and human rights for all people,” Vice President Kamala Harris said.

But gains Jackson and other civil rights leaders fought for are “under full-on attack by extremist so-called leaders,” Harris said. [Chicago Sun-Times]

The Rev. Frederick Douglass Haynes III, a Texas pastor and “longtime student” of Jackson, is the new head of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Jackson’s decision to step down is “a reminder that the role of a leader is to lift the next generation,” writes Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell. [Chicago Sun-Times]

3. A fatal shooting in Little Village highlights the difficulty of seizing guns from spouses accused of abuse

Two weeks before she was fatally shot in her home, Karina Gonzalez walked into a Chicago police station and said her husband had threatened to kill her, reports my colleague Sophie Sherry.

Gonzalez was granted an order of protection, and police officers filed a “clear and present danger” report on the husband, Jose Alvarez. Illinois State Police then revoked his gun license.

Yet Alvarez was still in the home and still had his Glock 9mm handgun on July 3, when prosecutors say he fatally shot his wife and 15-year-old daughter and wounded his 18-year-old son.

Advocates of domestic violence prevention say part of the problem is there isn’t a clear process for removing guns after an order of protection has been issued.

In Cook County, there are nearly 30,000 outstanding cases of people whose gun licenses have been revoked but who likely still have guns. [Chicago Sun-Times]

4. A Cook County worker allegedly used a PPP loan to pay for her daughter’s wedding

The employee fraudulently obtained nearly $40,000 from the federal COVID-19 relief program and spent the money on her daughter’s wedding and back taxes, according to a recent report from the county’s top watchdog.

The report also found another employee got two loans under the Paycheck Protection Program totaling $41,666 by falsely claiming she ran a digital marketing company that made $117,250 in 2019. Investigators determined the marketing company was phony.

Dozens of Cook County employees have been suspected of defrauding the federal program that was designed to help businesses stay afloat during the pandemic.

Nearly 50 employees in the Cook County court clerk’s office were fired or resigned after they were found to have obtained PPP loans fraudulently, an office spokesperson said in April. [Chicago Sun-Times]

5. For his 18th birthday, Connor Bedard signed a three-year contract with the Blackhawks

Connor Bedard celebrated his 18th birthday today by signing an entry-level contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, completing the “last formality in the Blackhawks’ Summer of Bedard,” reports my colleague Ben Pope.

Bedard’s deal carries a maximum salary-cap hit of $950,000. [Chicago Sun-Times]

But Bedard could make much more. He may receive a performance bonus of up to $3.5 million if he hits certain benchmarks, like scoring 20 goals. [NBC Sports Chicago]

Bedard was the No. 1 pick in 2023 NHL Draft, and he has already boosted enthusiasm for the Blackhawks, with his No. 98 jerseys flying off racks.

‘‘He’s the guy right now,’’ an employee at the Blackhawks Store on Michigan Avenue said. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Russia halted a deal allowing Ukraine to ship grain to countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, where hunger is a growing threat. [AP]
  • Lawsuits start piling up against artificial intelligence. [Washington Post]
  • Extreme heat and air pollution create more problems for Chicago’s unhoused. [WBEZ]
  • Here’s a look at where major movies and TV shows stand now that both Hollywood writers and actors are on strike. [Washington Post]

Oh, and one more thing …

Next week marks 40 years since a Chicago suburban family went on a quest for fun at Walley World.

Yes, I’m talking about National Lampoon’s Vacation.

To mark the big anniversary of one of the most iconic comedies of our time, my colleague Richard Roeper looks at the film’s making, remembering some of the elements that still resonate to this day — and catching up with Anthony Michael Hall, the original Rusty Griswold.

“There’s so much of that humor that by today’s standards wouldn’t get made,” Hall said. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Tell me something good ...

My husband and I are babysitting the nephews on Friday. Longtime readers know they are a tornado of chaos and laughter.

So I’m creating a playlist of songs to keep for a dance competition that will hopefully wear them down.

What songs should I introduce to two elementary school boys?

Among the songs I currently have written down are “Song 2” by Blur, “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls, “Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys, “Time Warp” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show and “Holiday” by Madonna.

Feel free to email me, and your response might be shared in the newsletter and with my nephews.

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