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The Rundown: Extremist cops need to be disciplined, civil rights group says

Good afternoon! This dog makes me wish I could have a third dog that’s the size of a horse. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Mayor Johnson needs to act stronger against extremism in the Police Department, a leading civil rights group says

The Southern Poverty Law Center is urging Mayor Brandon Johnson and Police Superintendent Larry Snelling to reconsider not disciplining eight officers connected to the Oath Keepers, my colleagues Tom Schuba and Dan Mihalopoulos report.

Six of the officers admitted to joining the far-right group, which was at the center of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

In a letter, the law center called for increased transparency “before the Democratic National Convention brings increased scrutiny to the city and its police force,” asserting that Johnson, Snelling and other city officials “must commit to building trust with communities right now and welcome a public hearing on this issue.”

The mayor’s office and Police Department didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. [Chicago Sun-Times]

2. Why hasn’t Mayor Johnson fired the president of the CTA?

It’s been something of a mystery. (I guess if it were an Agatha Christie book, it would be called No Firings on the Purple Line Express.)

Despite growing criticism of conditions on Chicago’s public trains and buses, Mayor Johnson has refused to boot CTA President Dorval Carter Jr.

That may have something to do with Carter’s ability to work connections in D.C. and secure federal funding for major projects, such as the Red Line extension, political observers and mass transit experts told my colleague Fran Spielman.

“The money for the Red Line is probably one of the leading factors. … Carter has connections and influence. He’s somebody who has Washington ties. He can make that kind of introduction easier for Brandon,” veteran political consultant Delmarie Cobb said.

And it’s unclear who could replace Carter, one transit expert said. [Chicago Sun-Times]

3. Abortion pills could soon be ordered in Illinois through a smartphone app

The move by Planned Parenthood aims to further expand access to abortion services in Illinois, which has emerged as a haven for patients following the downfall of Roe v. Wade, my colleague Kristen Schorsch reports.

Patients who are up to 10 weeks pregnant can fill out screening questions on the Planned Parenthood Direct app. Patients who qualify must provide an Illinois address, which could be a hotel.

“This is just for us the next step in reducing barriers for folks who don’t want to make it all the way to a health center or who need the privacy of being able to do it from their home,” said Dr. Colleen McNicholas, chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood in Missouri.

Some Planned Parenthood affiliates already mail pills to patients but require at least a virtual visit with a medical provider first. [WBEZ]

4. The Chicago Sky begin their new season tonight with a new coach and an almost entirely new roster

“Fans of familiarity will have a hard time with the 2024 Sky,” my colleague Annie Costabile writes.

The WNBA team’s season opener tonight against the Dallas Wings is expected to give fans a glimpse into the Sky’s new identity under coach Teresa Weatherspoon.

“The most important thing is, once you talk about what might be good for the team, especially as a staff, you try and find that common ground of what it means to [the players],” coach Teresa Weatherspoon said. “How does it fit them and make them the best versions of themselves every day?”

The Sky will get a chance to answer that question at 7 p.m. You can watch the game on WCIU-TV and through the Marquee Sports Network app. [Chicago Sun-Times]

5. Google’s takeover of the Thompson Center means the eviction of some notable artwork

Among them is French artist Jean Dubuffet’s Monument with Standing Beast, a fiberglass sculpture known locally as “Snoopy in a Blender.”

The 10-ton, 29-foot-tall black-and-white sculpture is being taken apart to make way for Google’s overhaul of the Thompson Center.

“But the future of Monument with Standing Beast is, for now, about as ambiguous as the tangled sculpture itself,” WBEZ contributor Hannah Edgar writes.

The artwork will be transported to a state warehouse, where it will be stored until the state finds “a suitable and prominent home” for the statue, according to a state spokesperson.

Other works of art being moved out of the Thompson Center include John Henry’s Bridgeport and Richard Hunt’s Illinois River Landscape. [WBEZ]

Here’s what else is happening

  • President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have agreed to debate in June and September. [NPR]

  • Overdose deaths declined in the U.S. last year. [NPR]

  • A miniature poodle named Sage won the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. [AP]

  • Here are eight tracks that capture the brilliance of the late musician and recording engineer Steve Albini. [NPR]

Oh, and one more thing …

Red Lobster is reportedly considering filing for bankruptcy, and part of the seafood chain’s financial problems stem from providing “endless shrimp,” The Associated Press reports.

“Last year, Red Lobster significantly expanded its iconic all-you-can-eat shrimp deal,” the AP reports. “But customer demand overwhelmed what the chain could afford, which also reportedly contributed to the millions in losses.”

Now, equipment from more than 50 Red Lobster locations will be auctioned off this week, and it’s unclear if more locations will be closed in the near future. [AP]

Tell me something good …

What was the last song you recently discovered and had on repeat?

Carlos writes:

“The single that has me playing it for everybody is ‘Zola’ by King Errison. (It’s an instrumental.)

“I have been in the process of rediscovering the Northern Soul genre, a retroactive classification by way of the north of England for soul music from the 1960s into the ’70s, primarily from the United States (Detroit, Chicago and elsewhere). The focus is on obscure, rarely played singles that weren’t big hits stateside in their time. What really got me back into the genre were the dances held by the Heart of Chicago Soul Club, a women-led collective of DJs who spin the physical 45 rpm records — nothing digitized, purely analog, purely vinyl.”

And Meredith writes:

“I was driving back from another long weekend visiting my dad in his nursing home, and had a ’60s channel on satellite radio.

“Along came a song I’ve never heard before but found immediately captivating. It sounded like The Kinks but much darker and more melancholy, with a chorus (‘Have you seen my wife, Mr. Jones?’) that I couldn’t get out of my head. I looked it up when I got home and it turns out ‘New York Mining Disaster 1941’ was one of the nascent Bee Gees’ breakthrough hits.

“It haunted me like no earworm has before for the better part of a week. And it’s fascinating history. Highly recommended listening!”

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

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