The Rundown: Johnson’s messy breakup with ShotSpotter

Plus, a dad who created a cookie line inspired by his son. Here’s what you need to know today.

The Rundown: Johnson’s messy breakup with ShotSpotter

Plus, a dad who created a cookie line inspired by his son. Here’s what you need to know today.

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Good afternoon! It’s Friday, I’ve got classical music on the radio and I’m looking forward to a weekend of doing as little as possible. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. ShotSpotter’s time in Chicago could come to an end sooner than Mayor Johnson wanted

Mayor Brandon Johnson vowed to pull the plug on the controversial gunshot detection system at the end of the summer — and after the city hosts the Democratic National Convention.

But the city’s $49 million contract with ShotSpotter expires at the end of today.

Johnson yesterday repeatedly refused to answer questions about whether he will secure a deal to keep the system until September, giving the Police Department more time to adjust, my colleagues Tom Schuba and Fran Spielman report.

Progressives and police reform advocates have long called for getting rid of ShotSpotter, pointing to reports questioning the technology. Most recently, a review by Cook County prosecutors found ShotSpotter had a minimal effect on prosecuting gun violence cases.

But some council members have questioned such a move after the city reported 617 homicides and more than 2,400 shootings last year. [Chicago Sun-Times]

2. How the idea to bus migrants to Chicago and other Democratic cities gained momentum with conservatives

In the second year of his presidency, Donald Trump’s staff considered transporting migrants from the U.S. border with Mexico to his political enemies’ Democratic strongholds, including the district of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

But the idea really began to take on steam in conservative circles in 2021, when then-Fox News host Tucker Carlson, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., floated similar suggestions, my colleagues Frank Main and Tina Sfondeles report.

The two journalists spoke with some key decision-makers in Illinois and Texas about the early months of Texas’s program to bus migrants to Chicago and other Democratic cities.

And they found local officials, who were caught off guard when buses began arriving, were furious when the governor of Colorado and the mayor of El Paso, Texas — both Democrats — got in on the act. [Chicago Sun-Times]

3. If you don’t know who to vote for in the March 19 primary election, don’t worry

You still have time to make a decision. And you also now have this handy election guide from the Chicago Sun-Times and WBEZ.

The guide features questionnaire answers from candidates running for Congress, the Illinois statehouse and Cook County state’s attorney.

If you don’t know who’s running in your area, you can enter your address here (don’t use periods) and get a look at the candidates at the top of the ballot. It’s not an exhaustive list — circuit court judges and other down-ballot races and referenda may not be included. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Speaking of the upcoming election, Democratic Party politics loom large over the fight for Cook County Circuit Court clerk. [WBEZ]

4. Would you buy a house with your friends?

Feeling squeezed by the economy, some Chicago residents are exploring the co-op lifestyle as an alternative pathway to homeownership, Chicago Sun-Times contributor Olivia Dimmer reports.

Cooperative housing comes in different styles, but it’s generally defined as a group of people splitting the purchase of a home or multiunit building and sharing the common spaces, such as the kitchen and living room.

Peter Reimer, their partner and baby currently live in Bowers house, part of the Chicago-based Qumbya Housing Cooperative network. Rooms range in price from $450 to $600 per month, depending on size.

“I definitely wouldn’t be able to afford to live in a house as big or as nice in this area if it wasn’t for Bowers,” Reimer said.

“Being near to public transit and the lake is really important to me, as is the community aspect. I get to live with other people who want to be a part of my life, my child’s life and that is so valuable to me.” [Chicago Sun-Times]

5. Pequod’s has the best pizza in America, according to Yelp

Take that, New York City.

Pequod’s, which is known for its deep-dish pizza, was ranked the best in a Yelp Elite survey of 100 pizzerias, my colleague Stefano Esposito reports.

“You can’t truly say you have a favorite Chicago-style deep dish pizza if you haven’t been to Pequod’s,” wrote Eric W., a Yelp Elite user.

Other Chicago pizzerias that made the list were Piece Brewery and Pizzeria (No. 17), Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co. (No. 27), Spacca Napoli (No. 44), Calo Pizzeria Restaurant & Lounge (No. 91) and Coalfire (No. 98). [Chicago Sun-Times]

Here’s what else is happening

  • A judge fined former President Donald Trump more than $350 million and barred him from running his company for three years. [NBC News]

  • World leaders blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. [AP]

  • Two juveniles were charged in connection to the mass shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl parade. [NBC News]

  • First reactions are largely positive for the upcoming Dune: Part Two. [EW]

Oh, and one more thing …

Let’s end the week on an uplifting note: A Chicago father started his own cookie line that’s inspired by his son who has autism, my colleague Esther Yoon-Ji Kang reports.

The line is called Al’s Cookie Mixx, and owner Alvin Green hired a dozen or so part-time employees, all of whom have special needs.

“Our tagline is ‘Your enjoyment provides employment.’ The more cookies we sell, the more kids we can hire,” Green said.

Al’s Cookie Mixx opened in a shared kitchen last fall in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood. Green worked as a caterer for 15 years before heeding the advice of his wife: “Combine your two loves: your love of baking cookies and your love for Aiden and his friends.” [WBEZ]

Tell me something good …

What are your favorite old-school Chicago diners?

Susan T. writes:

“Diner Grill on Irving Park Road (opened in 1937). I did not know a grilled cheese sandwich could be so good!”

And Joyce Miller Bean writes:

“My favorite old-time Chicago diner is the Valois in Hyde Park. My husband introduced me to it when we were dating and I’ve loved it ever since. I was teased by Hyde Park residents we knew when at first I pronounced it in the French manner ‘Val-oi-wa.’ I was promptly corrected and informed that the Hyde Parkers way to pronounce it was ‘Val-oise.’ ”

Thanks for all the responses this week. It was nice hearing from y’all.

Thanks for reading and have a nice night. Before I go, I messed something up in yesterday’s newsletter about the location of the Ramova Theatre, which is located in Bridgeport. Sorry about that.