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The Rundown: Mayor Brandon Johnson’s anti-violence plan

Good afternoon! Our chances of having a white Christmas in the Chicago area sadly appear to be slim. Here’s what else you need to know today.

1. Mayor Johnson’s anti-violence strategy takes a page or two from Lightfoot’s plans

Mayor Brandon Johnson recently unveiled his “People’s Plan for Community Safety,” which shares similarities with plans championed by his predecessor, Lori Lightfoot, my colleagues Fran Spielman and Tom Schuba report.

Like Lightfoot, Johnson wants to send an array of city and philanthropic resources to areas long plagued by violent crime. But the difference is that Johnson’s more granular approach could be easier to accomplish, Spielman and Schuba write.

His plan focuses on four neighborhoods — Englewood, Little Village, Austin and West Garfield Park. And it includes another round of guaranteed basic income targeted in these areas in the hopes of maximizing outcomes.

Senior mayoral adviser Jason Lee acknowledged that it will “take time” for Johnson’s plan to deliver the “safer, stronger, better Chicago” that he promised during his mayoral campaign. [Chicago Sun-Times]

2. Migrants say illnesses spread quickly at a crowded Pilsen shelter where several fell sick

Migrants staying at the shelter say some illnesses are spreading due to overcrowded, unsanitary conditions and a lack of health services on-site, my colleagues Michael Loria and David Struett report.

“The problem is there aren’t enough doctors [at the shelter] to see everyone; there isn’t enough medicine for everyone,” said a father outside the shelter.

Public health officials have issued warnings about an alarming rise in chickenpox, which includes 400 cases diagnosed since January, mostly among migrants.

The conditions at the shelter have come under question after the death of 5-year-old Jean Carlos Martinez Rivero, who became ill over the weekend. City officials say Jean Carlos’ death is not tied to any infectious disease.

“An investigation is ongoing and any changes to safety protocols for staff will be made based on the findings,” Mayor Johnson said in a statement. [Chicago Sun-Times]

3. A candidate running for Cook County state’s attorney helped convict a boy whose murder confession was found to be coerced

The candidate, Eileen O’Neill Burke, in 1994 prosecuted a Black boy on charges he murdered an elderly white woman when he was 10 years old, my colleague Chip Mitchell reports.

But the conviction was thrown out by a federal judge who found the boy’s confession resulted from Chicago police coercion. Authorities interrogated the boy without an attorney, parent or police youth officer present. And it took place without a video recording.

Now, O’Neill Burke is vowing to help strengthen protections for children under interrogation.

“My views on juvenile justice have evolved, as has the law, since this 1994 case,” she said in a statement. “I believe juveniles deserve every protection within our court system.”

O’Neill Burke, a former state appellate judge, faces Clayton Harris III in a March 19 Democratic primary that could be decisive in a race to replace State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who announced this year she would not run for a third four-year term. [WBEZ]

4. Chicago’s snowplow naming contest returns for more puns

The city’s “You Name a Snowplow” contest is back for a second year.

Starting this week, residents can submit potential names, like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Snowplow,” until Jan. 12, 2024 or until the city receives 20,000 submissions, whichever comes first, my colleague Phyllis Cha reports.

Submissions can be made at and are limited to 50 characters and one per resident.

The winning names from last year’s contest included “Mrs. O’Leary’s Plow,” “Salter Payton,” “Sears Plower,” and “Jean Baptiste Point du Shovel.” [Chicago Sun-Times]

5. Where you can find the best views of fireworks on New Year’s Eve in Chicago

The city will ring in 2024 with the return of a New Year’s Eve fireworks spectacular along the Chicago River at Wacker Drive, my colleague Miriam Di Nunzio reports.

“For optimum viewing, visitors are encouraged to gather along the river on Upper Wacker Drive from McClurg Court to Franklin Street. Riverwalk access will be closed starting at 11 p.m.,” Di Nunzio writes.

Fireworks will be launched from six bridges over the Chicago River after a countdown to midnight. Prior to the big bonanza, projections featuring the work of several artists will be displayed on the Merchandise Mart’s facade.

Navy Pier will also have a 10-minute fireworks celebration taking place at midnight. Visitors are encouraged to arrive early. Admission is free, but there is a fee to park at the pier. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Here’s what else is happening

  • The Colorado Supreme Court’s decision to disqualify former President Donald Trump from the 2024 ballot raises questions over whether courts or voters should make that call. [New York Times]

  • The top leader of Hamas arrived in Egypt to discuss the possibility of a new truce. [AP]

  • Here’s a look at what we know about a Texas law allowing police to arrest migrants entering the U.S. illegally. [AP]

  • Ryan Gosling unveiled three new versions of “I’m Just Ken” from Barbie. [Hollywood Reporter]

Oh, and one more thing …

I love how enthusiastic Chicagoans can be about Christmas decorations. It makes walking the dogs so much more fun.

My friends on the Chicago Sun-Times’ photo desk recently fanned out across the city’s South, West and North side neighborhoods to find the best holiday displays.

Among my favorites is a Pilsen home that has decked out its yard and patio with Christmas lights. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Tell me something good ...

What are your plans for New Year’s Eve?

Paula Scholfield writes:

“My youngest son is getting married on NYE so that is how we’ll be ushering in the New Year!”


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

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