Chicago News Headlines for Thursday, Nov. 21
Updated 3:30 p.m.
The city of Chicago is launching an education campaign to deter marijuana use among kids as recreational pot gets close to being legal in Illinois. The campaign warns kids and young adults that their brains are still developing until they reach age 25, and that smoking weed can impair brain development and increase risks of depression. Recreational pot will still be illegal for those under 21.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and city health officials issued guidelines and precautions Thursday on using marijuana, as Illinois prepares for the legalization of pot in 2020. A statement from Lightfoot's office said the city is "urging responsible consumption, warning that products can be much more potent than in the past and overuse can have serious health consequences, especially for youth and young adults." The city is advising people to avoid frequent use, to avoid driving while high and to store cannabis products safely so that they can't be consumed by children or pets. The city also urges pregnant and breastfeeding women to avoid pot entirely.
A public plaza outside Wrigley Field may be allowed to sell liquor and be open for longer hours. Ald. Tom Tunney, 44th Ward, on Wednesday introduced an ordinance at the City Council that would extend a pilot program that has allowed Wrigley to operate the plaza along Clark Street west of the ballpark. The program would be extended through March 2020, and Tunney said that would give time to consider changes such as allowing liquor sales in addition to the current beer and wine sales.
- School district officials in Naperville are talking today with residents about racism and implicit bias in schools. This comes after a Naperville Central High School student was charged with a hate crime for allegedly posting a racist ad online. At a community meeting hosted by the school district, some parents said they worried things won’t change. They said the district has long struggled with issues around race. The district superintendent said the conversation will continue and he promised to take action.
- Chicago Public Schools is talking to parents about the possibility of capping enrollment at three highly sought-after North Side elementary schools. This would be done as a way to address future overcrowding. But parents and community members say they would be upset if they weren’t guaranteed spots in these high-achieving schools.
- The Chicago Board of Education has approved the labor contracts with teachers and school support staff that ended last month'’s teachers strike. Board members on Wednesday lauded the contracts for requiring the hiring of more support staff. They believe the agreements will make schools better. Union members have already approved the contracts. The board also passed a new school calendar to make up five of the 11 days students missed during the strike.
- A group of employees from 13 McDonald's restaurants in Chicago has filed a lawsuit alleging that the company's drive for profits puts workers at "daily risk" of physical attack by dangerous customers. In the lawsuit filed Thursday in Cook County, the 17 workers allege that McDonald's has failed to protect them from what they say is a "citywide and nationwide" pattern of violence. The lawsuit contends, for example, that by denying workers assigned to clean bathrooms the ability to post signs that bathrooms are out of service, they are putting those workers in danger of sexual violence. Chicago-based McDonald’s didn't respond to specific allegations in the lawsuit but said in a statement that the company has invested in "training programs that uphold safe environments" and has strict policies against violence.
- PepsiCo is the latest company to confirm it will move Chicago operations to the huge Old Post Office in the southwest Loop. Crain's reports that PepsiCo has signed an 8-year lease for the redeveloped building at 433 W. Van Buren St. The company will move 1,300 Chicago workers there in 2020. Other big tenants in the revived building include Ferrara Candy and the parent company of the Chicago Board Options Exchange.
- The Chicago White Sox on Thursday made a big free agent announcement: they're signing All-Star catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million contract. Under the deal, Grandal will get $18.25 million per year from 2020-2023. Grandal, 31, had a career high 28 home runs with Milwaukee last season.
- Lauri Markkanen scored 24 points and Wendell Carter Jr. added 12 as the Chicago Bulls beat the Detroit Pistons 109-89 on Wednesday night. The Bulls snapped a three-game losing streak. Bulls alum Derrick Rose had 18 points for the Pistons. Former Bull Luol Deng was honored at the game. Deng played the first 10 of his 15 NBA seasons with the Bulls after being selected with the seventh pick of the 2004 draft.
- In college basketball Wednesday night, Kofi Cockburn scored 18 points to lead Illinois past The Citadel 85-57; Northern Illinois edged Western Illinois 86-81; and Loyola of Chicago beat IUPUI 85-62.Â
- The Chicago Police Department is expanding a community policing program into the Austin neighborhood on the far West Side next month. As part of an effort to build trust, officers will be spending more time walking the neighborhood and interacting with residents.
- Federal prosecutors say a former Chicago police commander who stole more than $360,000 should be imprisoned for about two years. Kenneth Johnson retired last year. This past May he pleaded guilty to collecting his deceased mother's Social Security payments for more than 23 years. He's scheduled for sentencing next month. Johnson's attorney defends his police work and says sentencing should consider that.
- A former vice chancellor at the City Colleges of Chicago, his wife and other former City Colleges employees have been indicted in federal court for engaging in a $350,000 kickback scheme. Sherod Gordon, 45, of Oak Park, is charged with 16 counts of wire fraud. Gordon served as associate vice chancellor of community relations and student recruitment before serving as vice chancellor of legislative and community affairs until 2017. The alleged scheme took place between 2013 and 2017.
- Hate-crime charges have been filed against a Naperville high school student who allegedly posted a racist ad online. The DuPage County State’s Attorney filed the charges Wednesday, calling the alleged incident "beyond disturbing." The student from Naperville Central High School allegedly made a Craigslist post using a photo of a black student with the title, "Slave for sale." The charged student is scheduled to appear back in juvenile court in December.
Arts and culture:
- A Chicago alderman says an historic theater on the South Side may finally be renovated after decades of starts and stops. Ald, Patrick Thompson, 11th ward, says the city is working with a developer to reopen the Ramova Theater in Bridgeport. The city currently owns the building and Thompson says decades of disrepair have made it a hard sell to developers.
- Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art has announced it raised $6 million with a benefit art auction, making it one of the most successful fundraisers in the institution’s history. Museum director Madeleine Grynsztejn said the highest winning bid at the auction this week was $1.1 million for the 2018 painting "Untitled" by American artist Richard Prince, who donated the art.
- There's a holiday theme to the latest massive digital images projection on the Merchandise Mart along the Chicago River. Titled "Windy City Wonderland," the light show began Wednesday night and will continue Wednesday through Sunday nights for the rest of 2019. The projections begin 30 minutes after sunset and last about two hours.