Your NPR news source
This converted warehouse in the 2200-2300 block on South Halsted Street in Pilsen houses more than 2,000 migrants.

This converted warehouse in the 2200-2300 block on South Halsted Street in Pilsen houses more than 2,000 migrants. A 5-year-old migrant boy living at the site died Sunday from an illness.

Anthony Vazquez

The Rundown: More migrants fall ill at Pilsen shelter

Good afternoon! In case you missed it, I was on The Rundown podcast talking about some of the most memorable stories of the year. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. More migrants became ill at a Pilsen shelter with a history of complaints

Five more people, including four children, were hospitalized after becoming ill at an overcrowded shelter on Monday, a day after a 5-year-old boy from the same shelter died after getting sick, my colleagues Michael Loria and Kade Heather report.

Four girls — ages 1, 4, 8 and 9 — and an 18-year-old woman were taken to hospitals at different times yesterday morning with fever and vomiting, Chicago Fire Department spokesperson Larry Langford said. Their conditions weren’t immediately known.

Authorities are investigating the death of the 5-year-old boy, whom officials have identified as Jean Carlos Martinez. His death has raised questions about the safety of a shelter located in a converted warehouse in the Pilsen neighborhood.

That shelter, which is run by a Kansas-based contractor, has been the subject of repeated complaints of unsanitary conditions. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Meanwhile, here’s a look at how Chicagoans can help migrants, from housing to donations. [Chicago Sun-Times]

2. Two former lifeguards sue the Chicago Park District, saying they suffered sexual abuse when they were minors

Two women who used to work at public beaches have sued the Chicago Park District, alleging they suffered “childhood sexual abuse” from male supervisors as underage lifeguards in the years before widespread accusations emerged in 2021, my colleague Dan Mihalopoulos reports, citing court documents.

The two new lawsuits raise the total number of female former lifeguards who have filed claims over sexual misconduct at the beaches and pools to at least six.

And the cases filed this week could add to the legal tab from the sexual misconduct scandal for the park district — which already has paid out nearly $2 million to three other female lifeguards who have sued or threatened to take the taxpayer-funded agency to court.

A spokesperson for the park district could not be immediately reached Tuesday. [WBEZ]

3. The City Council advanced a resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza

A resolution calling on the White House and Congress to push for a cease-fire in Gaza will head to the full City Council for a final vote, my colleague Sophie Sherry reports.

The council’s Committee on Health and Human Relations voted to recommend the resolution to the full council in January — drawing a roar of applause from the public gallery.

The committee meeting drew few disruptions, unlike a special meeting held in October that called for a resolution expressing support of Israel. At that meeting, outbursts from people attending the session prompted Mayor Brandon Johnson to clear the chambers.

About a dozen people spoke before the committee — representing both Palestinian and Jewish-based organizations — all expressing support for a cease-fire. [Chicago Sun-Times]

4. A former education leader has some questions about Chicago’s shift away from school choice

The Chicago Board of Education last week approved a resolution to shift back toward neighborhood schools and away from the current system of school choice where students compete for seats in selective programs.

In a commentary piece published by the Chicago Sun-Times, former Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson raises several questions about that plan, which she opposes.

Among them is the resolution’s timing right before Chicago voters will have a chance to elect some members of the Board of Education.

“Lastly, why is this being done before the newly elected school board is in place? Why is an unelected board rushing through a decision that could profoundly impact present and future families in the district?” Jackson writes. [Chicago Sun-Times]

As Rich Miller at Capitol Fax observes: “The CTU originally wanted a fully elected school board. With its former employee in the mayor’s office, it has since blasted the Illinois Senate President for trying to do just that, instead supporting a phased-in elected board. And now it’s supportive of a potentially huge systemic change before the first board members are even elected?” [Capitol Fax]

5. The Anti-Cruelty Society waives adoption fees for animals this month

I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a third dog, a move that has caused some anxiety from my husband.

It turns out the Anti-Cruelty Society is waiving its adoption fees this month as part of a holiday promotion, Block Club Chicago reports. Fees can be as much as $350 for puppies and $200 for kittens.

The promotion also comes as animal shelters across the area have struggled with overcrowding, reaching “catastrophic levels” over the past year, according to the Anti-Cruelty Society.

The rescue also has a program allowing potential adopters to try out a pet by taking them home for a week. There’s also another program that lets people take a pet out for a day. [Block Club Chicago]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Gas pollution could hit Iceland’s capital after this week’s volcano eruption. [CNN]

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law making it a state crime to cross the southern border illegally. [NPR]

  • Marvel dropped actor Jonathan Majors from all future projects, throwing years of planning into disarray. [AP]

  • Here’s a look at the best TV shows and movies of the year, as decided by NPR critics. [NPR]

Oh, and one more thing …

Looking for something to read?

Chicago author Lindsay Hunter is out with a thriller, Hot Springs Drive, that mines motherhood and murder, WBEZ contributor Elly Fishman writes.

“I wanted to write about what it is to be a mother and be lonely,” says Hunter, a mother of three, the youngest of whom is in kindergarten. “And what it is still to have a body that feels desire. All these things about motherhood that are really hard to talk about.”

Hot Springs Drive is also the first release on an imprint from bestselling writer Roxane Gay, who has known Hunter for years and has long admired her ability to capture the messiness that often couples shame and desire.

“I love her voice and the energy she puts on the page,” Gay says. “She understands appetite and the ways that we try to control those appetites or give into them.” [WBEZ]

Tell me something good ...

What are your plans for New Year’s Eve?

Carrie J. Sullivan writes:

“I have the absolute joy and thrill of spending my New Year’s with Chicago’s raucous punk/rock ’n’ roll/marching band Mucca Pazza! I joined the ensemble this year and cannot wait to ring in the New Year with an epic gig at the Chop Shop in Bucktown. Anyone looking for a unique, all-out performance should not miss this high-energy, incredibly talented band. You’ve never seen anything like it and you will LOVE IT (which is why I joined).”

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

The Latest
Plus, a free soccer program for migrant children living in city shelters. Here’s what you need to know today.
Plus, Millennium Park has become a gravity-defying art gallery. Here’s what you need to know today.
Plus, Pitchfork Music Festival starts Friday. Here’s what you need to know today.
Plus, Brookfield Zoo announced a massive redevelopment project. Here’s what you need to know today.
Plus, a third piping plover chick has died at Montrose Beach. Here’s what you need to know today.