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people watch as car drifts in circles

People watch as a car drifts in circles during a takeover in a South Side intersection, Friday night, Aug. 12, 2022.

Ashlee Rezin

The Rundown: Stunt driving leads to clashes with police

Hey there! It’s been a stormy afternoon in Chicago. While there may be some lingering showers, the rest of the day should be “relatively quiet,” according to the National Weather Service. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Unsanctioned stunt drivers and fans clashed with police on Chicago streets

Stunt drivers and spectators once again flooded streets over the weekend, this time clashing with police who attempted to break up the gatherings.

On Friday night, spectators threw objects at officers who attempted to break up a crowd near 119th and Halsted, police said. A man from the crowd also climbed onto an unmarked police vehicle and smashed the windshield, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Hours later, two men were arrested and one was later charged with a misdemeanor count of reckless driving from a gathering on the Near South Side. One of the men had his car impounded, likely making it the first time the city has seized a vehicle under the new City Council ordinance meant to help cops crack down on the takeovers. [Sun-Times]

Meanwhile, a speeding Corvette struck and killed a 40-year-old woman crossing the street early Sunday morning. Police Supt. David Brown said today there was no evidence the accident was related to drag racing, despite witness statements. [Sun-Times]

2. Shootings have increased since the start of the pandemic and experts worry the spike is here to stay

The national homicide rate climbed nearly 30% in 2020. And as the summer of 2022 comes to a close, hopes for a swift decline to pre-pandemic levels are fading.

NPR reports that an informal year-to-date tracker of murders in major cities indicates the homicide rate is still well above pre-pandemic levels. And 40% of cities on the tracker are on pace to have more killings than last year.

In Chicago, homicides are down 18% compared to this time last year, according to the tracker. Chicago police are expected to release updated crime stats later this week. [NPR]

3. Chicago aldermen each got a $100,000 ‘microgrant’ this year. Here’s how they’re spending it.

As part of her 2022 budget, Mayor Lori Lightfoot offered all 50 aldermen a $100,000 “microgrant” to spend in their wards. Nine months into the year, the Tribune looked at how some of that $5 million is being spent.

Aldermen have put the funds toward everything from shelter for people without housing to private security to aid police. There’s also been money spent on a new ward website, youth mentoring and trees.

The city’s budget office released information on some of the projects, but said records weren’t available for every alderman. [Tribune]

4. Cook County Health is facing a staffing crunch

Cook County Health, which is the biggest safety net health system for vulnerable low-income patients in the region, has been hit hard by the so-called Great Resignation, with a quarter of budgeted positions currently empty.

As burned out health care workers are quitting their jobs across the country, Cook County Health is looking to fill some 2,000 vacancies, WBEZ’s Kristen Schorsch reports.

While people quitting is the largest loss of employees, the health system is also losing workers to retirements and “discharges.”

The staffing issues have come under increased scrutiny as the system’s leadership team has proposed a 2023 budget, which includes goals for expanding medical services to generate more revenue. Some members of the system’s board have questioned if there is adequate staffing for growth. [WBEZ]

5. NASA’s moon rocket fails to launch because of engine problems

Instead of heading for the moon, a giant new rocket failed to get off the ground at the Kennedy Space Center this morning. NASA called off the launch after a fuel leak and an engine problem were detected during final liftoff preparations, according to the Associated Press.

“This is a very complicated machine, a very complicated system, and all those things have to work, and you don’t want to light the candle until it’s ready to go,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

There were no crew members on the spacecraft this morning — just test dummies equipped with sensors to gauge safety for an eventual flight with astronauts aboard.

The now-delayed flight will be the first in NASA’s Artemis project, which will attempt to put astronauts back on the moon for the first time since the Apollo program 50 years ago.

The next attempted launch could happen as soon as Friday. [AP]

Here’s what else is happening

  • The government is going to stop sending Americans free COVID-19 tests. [NPR]

  • The Chicago Sky lost the first game of their semifinals series last night. They play again Wednesday. [Sun-Times]

  • A rare Chicago license plate sold for $34,000 at auction Sunday. [Sun-Times]

  • Mayor Lori Lightfoot appointed a seven-member interim police oversight board, which will take the first step toward civilian oversight of the Chicago Police Department. [Sun-Times]

Oh, and one more thing …

In other outer space news today, some of Nichelle Nichols’s ashes will be launched into deep space later this year, NPR reports.

The beloved Star Trek actress, who played Lt. Nyota Uhura in the original series, died last month. Now, a portion of her ashes will be aboard a rocket launched by a private company that sends peoples’ cremated remains into space.

The flight will also include remains of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and his wife, actor Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, along with those of James Doohan, who played Montgomery “Scotty” Scott in the series and films. [NPR]

Nichols may be remembered most for her affiliations with space, but her roots are local. Learn more about her ties to Illinois from historian Shermann “Dilla” Thomas in this segment produced by my colleague Cianna Greaves. [WBEZ]

Tell me something good ...

With the Chicago Sky in the WNBA semifinals this week, I want to hear about your all-time favorite sports memories. While that may call to mind an unreal buzzer beater at the United Center or a particularly frigid day at Soldier Field, these memories need not be limited to the big leagues. It could also be a stand-out little league moment or a splash of greatness during 16-inch softball.

As for me, I’m a Minnesota native, so not much can top the “Minneapolis Miracle” from my beloved Vikings back in 2018.

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

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