Erin Allen: Good morning. Welcome to Monday, I'm Erin Allen and this is The Rundown. So you've probably been hearing that the CTA President Dorval Carter Jr. cites staffing shortages as the cause of service problems with bus and train routes. And its latest effort to address this, the agency is spending $80 million to attract new employees. And new hires could get a $1,000 signing bonus according to Block Club Chicago. In a news release the CTA outlined updates to compensation plans for staff, including that bonus for all new mechanics, bus drivers and train operators, and they must work at the CTA for at least a year to keep it. The release also says the CTA will raise starting salaries through 2024 for new bus mechanics and rail car repairers, as well as bus drivers and rail operators.
And if you're one of those people who has been frustrated with the CTA, you can complain to us. Go to wbez.org and take our survey. We'll use your comments to determine how we report on transit and what to ask agency officials when we talk to them. And if you tell us you're cool with it, you may even hear your experiences in future stories on this podcast.
Leaders in the Chicago Public Schools district say they've been responding to an uptick in the number of students expressing suicidal thoughts, and they're concerned about the increase in school shootings nationally. So now CPS is monitoring students' social media posts for signs they might engage in violence on campus or harm themselves. According to Chalk Beat Chicago, this is an effort to help school staff, and in some cases police, know when to intervene. The district hired a company based in Canada to scour public posts for threats and quote cries for help last month. The Chicago program called Supporting Our Students is a part of a national trend among school districts that began paying contractors to do this type of monitoring in the last few years.
If you're like me, you've spent this era of COVID worried more about your parents passing away from the virus than yourself. But a new study finds that between 2021 and 2022, the age group most likely to die from infection shifted. In the first year, it was people my parents age, those 65 and older who are at greater risk of dying, but by April 2021, the odds of death from any cause increased the most for 35 to 44-year olds, according to the study from the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. The authors say their risk increased for several reasons including more contagious variants and less preventative health care. Sheldon Jacobson co authored the study. He says we need to protect each other during public health emergencies.
Sheldon Jacobson: We have to look a little bit more collectively as a community that if we have to deal with a pandemic again, it's not you know, everyone for themselves. It's basically we're in this together.
Erin Allen: Jacobson says mortality rates dropped among elderly people because they tended to get COVID early and because they got vaccines first.
Every year, families across Cook County are at risk of losing their homes due to unpaid property taxes. And in Chicago's 20th Ward activists are working to stop that. My colleague, Claudia Morell tells us what they're doing.
Claudia Morell: Janice Williams Miller is the founder of the Block Movement.
Janice Williams Miller: We feel like homeownership is really key to alleviating poverty and building wealth.
Claudia Morell: This year, her group helped keep 300 families around the Woodlawn neighborhood off the county's tax sale. She says families can owe as little as $10 and still face the prospect of losing their homes.
Janice Williams Miller: It's just a precarious, scary crisis for families, some of whom had been in their homes for 40 years.
Erin Allen: Their program is funded with leftover county COVID relief money.
Does it ever seem unnecessarily hard to vote? Even for those of us who have been in the same neighborhood for a while with the same polling place, when ward maps were redrawn, it shook things up so a lot of people had a new place to go to vote a couple weeks ago. But what if it didn't matter where you went to cast your ballot? A candidate for Chicago Mayor wants residents to be able to vote at any polling place during the February municipal elections. In this month's election, 44% of Chicago voters turned out. But in some majority black and Latinx ward's turnout was around 30% or less. Willie Wilson says increased access to the polls would help increase voter turnout in some of these wards in particular. Wilson's campaign says the proposal would require a change in state law.
And a few quick hits before we get to weather. Yesterday was international Transgender Day of Remembrance advocates gathered in the Andersonville neighborhood to pay tribute to transgender lives loss to violence. They also paid tribute to the five victims from Saturday night's shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs.
It was absolutely frigid this weekend. But that didn't stop thousands of Chicago residents from heading to Millennium Park on Friday to kick off the holiday season with a 109th annual lighting of Chicago's official tree. And that was just the beginning of this action packed season. If you're looking for fun things to do with friends, family and chosen family, we've got a list for you. over at WBEZ.org.
As for the weather, don't let the clouds fool you this morning. The sun is coming out in the afternoon. High in the low 40s. Tonight low in the mid 20s, partly cloudy. And have you told your friends about this podcast yet? If not, go ahead and send it out to a couple people. If you're worried about sending a text too early to the ones who'd like to sleep in, we've got an afternoon episode just for them. Coming up this afternoon, I'll talk with my colleague Adora Namigadde about Dixmoor, a southern suburb that's been dealing with water issues for a while now. That's today at two o'clock on The Rundown. I'm Erin Allen. Talk to you then.
WBEZ transcripts are generated by an automatic speech recognition service. We do our best to edit for misspellings and typos, but mistakes do come through.