The Rundown: Chicago’s opioid crisis isn’t slowing down

Plus, marriage rights are on track to becoming law. Here’s what you need to know today.

The Rundown: Chicago’s opioid crisis isn’t slowing down

Plus, marriage rights are on track to becoming law. Here’s what you need to know today.

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Hey there! This mystery will totally be my case to crack if I ever do a true crime podcast. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Chicago’s opioid crisis shows little signs of slowing down

“Opioid-related deaths in Chicago this year are on pace to match those in 2021, when the city saw a record number of people die from overdoses,” reports my colleague Emmanuel Camarillo at the Chicago Sun-Times.

From January to June, the city recorded at least 632 opioid-related deaths, according to local officials. There were 656 such deaths reported during the same time frame in 2021, which ended with a tragic record of 1,428 people dying from opioid-related overdoses.

“In terms of the amount of attention that this particular public health issue has gotten, we would like to see more attention as a city because opioid-related overdoses are a medical problem that is treatable and largely preventable,” Dr. Allison Arwady, the city’s top public health official, said at a news conference this week. [Chicago Sun-Times]

2. A bill protecting same-sex and interracial marriages passes a crucial test vote in the Senate

The Senate today voted 62-37 to advance a bill enshrining marriage rights into federal law, and it received enough support from members in both parties to avoid a filibuster. A final vote is expected after Thanksgiving.

The Respect for Marriage Act, which was already approved by the House, was introduced amid concerns from Democrats that the U.S. Supreme Court could overturn landmark decisions legalizing same-sex and interracial marriages.

The bill before the Senate would not legalize marriage rights across all 50 states. It would instead require states to recognize marriages that were performed in another state.

So, for example, if a same-sex couple was married in Illinois and then moved to a state with no protections, their marriage would remain legal under the act. [USA Today]

3. Jewish graves in Waukegan were desecrated with swastikas

The antisemitic attack on a cemetery in north suburban Waukegan has sparked a wide range of emotions, from grief and anger to even sympathy for the vandal, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

“He’s got to be in a lot of pain. I feel sorry for him, or them, for having this much hate in their heart,” said Alan Friedlander after checking on his parents’ headstones.

Sixteen graves this week were defaced with the Nazi symbol and another 23 were covered in other graffiti, according to police. The person behind the antisemitic attack remains at large.

One of the defaced graves belonged to Morris and Dorothy Yellen. Their son, Larry Yellen, said seeing the swastika on his parents’ headstone was extremely upsetting for the family.

“My father was a bombardier in World War II in a B-17,” Yellen said, “He fought for the United States in World War II, lost numerous relatives in the Holocaust, and now that he’s passed away he finds a swastika painted on his headstone; nothing could be more disturbing than that.” [Chicago Sun-Times]

4. An Illinois Democrat accused of domestic violence appears to win another term in the state Senate

State Sen. Michael Hastings could claim a narrow reelection win despite allegations from his ex-wife that he physically assaulted and abused her, reports WBEZ’s Dan Mihalopoulos.

Updated election results released yesterday show Hastings with a nearly 1,000-vote lead over Republican Patrick Sheehan, who has conceded.

Hastings has denied the allegations, but he has faced calls to resign by some of his fellow Democrats, including Gov. JB Pritzker. And Senate President Don Harmon forced Hastings to step down as majority whip.

The allegations against Hastings came to light after Illinois taxpayers spent nearly $150,000 on a settlement and legal costs in a civil discrimination case filed against him by a former aide. [WBEZ]

5. Mayor Lightfoot’s security detail parked in a bike lane while she picked up doughnuts, according to bike advocates

Mayor Lori Lightfoot faces a backlash after photos emerged on social media showing her security detail parked in the bicycle lane while she appeared to be inside a Humboldt Park bakery, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

The news comes after a string of fatal bicycle and pedestrian accidents over the summer renewed calls for making roads safer. In response, the Lightfoot administration announced it would add 25 miles of concrete-protected bike lanes by the end of the year.

But the mayor has blocked a measure that would more directly crack down on bike lane obstructions, said Ald. Andre Vasquez.

“I’m trying to figure out what else she does besides block because that’s what it feels like. Between blocking this. Blocking the Anjanette Young ordinance. Blocking Bring Chicago Home. It seems like that’s her move. She doesn’t deliver. She blocks,” Vasquez said. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Here’s what else is happening

  • NATO officials said a missile that struck member nation Poland was not a Russian attack. [AP]
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell was reelected as the GOP’s leader in the Senate. [AP]
  • An amendment guaranteeing workers’ rights to unionize will be added to the Illinois Constitution. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • A 300-year-old tree at Lincoln Park Zoo will be removed next year. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Oh, and one more thing …

I’d just like to salute to the three brave test dummies that flew into space today aboard NASA’s new 322-foot-tall moon rocket.

The rocket is now on a test flight with the hopes of bringing the U.S. one step closer to putting astronauts back on the moon, something that hasn’t happened since the Apollo program ended 50 years ago, reports NPR.

If all goes well, the rocket will make a 25-day flight around the moon and back that clocks in at 1.2 million miles. [NPR]

Tell me something good …

Winter definitely feels like it has arrived in Chicago. What’s something you do to make this time of year more cheerful?

Art Fox writes:

“When we get heavy snow, especially on a weekend, I love how silent the city is. Most people don’t go out if they don’t have to, way fewer cars, and it’s fun to bundle up and walk the snowy sidewalks or go down to the beach.”

And Sarah writes:

“One cheerful thing we love doing between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is creating our own crawl of seasonal hotel lobby decorations.

“Most weekends we pick a few stops for an afternoon stroll, taking photos and grabbing a drink in the lounge. It’s a merry (and free) way to play tourist in your own city and get in the holiday spirit while sneaking in a great winter walk.”

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