The Rundown: Migrants say they face hostile treatment

Plus, the Brookfield Zoo gets a makeover. Here’s what you need to know today.

The Rundown: Migrants say they face hostile treatment

Plus, the Brookfield Zoo gets a makeover. Here’s what you need to know today.

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Good afternoon! Mötley Crüe is headlining this summer’s Illinois State Fair. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Migrants complain about racism and hostile treatment across Chicago shelters

Migrants staying at city-run shelters have filed nearly 250 complaints between June 2023 and January, according to city documents obtained by my colleague Adriana Cardona-Maguigad.

The records provide “a window into how difficult and chaotic life can be inside these shelters — with complaints ranging from racist remarks to bad food and a lack of cleanliness,” Cardona-Maguigad writes.

Grievances against staff include accusations of humiliation, hostile treatment and discrimination.

“I feel discriminated against because [the staff] continue to bother me due to my sexual orientation,” one migrant wrote in Spanish, adding that staff wanted to kick him out of a shelter called the Social Club in the Loop. [WBEZ]

Meanwhile, two shelters in Oak Park closed this week, and local groups are working to fill the gap. [WBEZ]

2. A Chicago-based Catholic order is keeping secrets about child-molesting clergy around the U.S.

A Catholic religious order commonly known as the Servites has had numerous priests and brothers accused of sexual abuse and faces an onslaught of new lawsuits, my colleague Robert Herguth reports.

One church watchdog group counts 11 Servites accused of child sex abuse over the years, and the order has been accused of covering up for some offenders.

Public lists of credibly accused clergy maintained by the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Diocese of Rockford omit as many as four Servites.

“Chicago is the hub and spoke of the whole deal,” says Patrick Wall, a former Benedictine monk who works for Jeff Anderson & Associates, a law firm that’s handling lawsuits against the order in California. [Chicago Sun-Times]

3. Mayor Johnson is urged to deliver on his transparency, public access promises for the City Council

Three of Chicago’s most influential government watchdogs — the Better Government Association, the Civic Federation and the League of Women Voters of Chicago — are demanding that Mayor Brandon Johnson uphold his pledge to add more transparency and public access to City Council proceedings.

Their demands are sharply limiting “direct introductions” of legislation; posting agendas four business days before committee votes, instead of 48 hours; and expanding the 30-minute period set aside for public comment before committee and council meetings while also streamlining the sign-up process.

“It’s very important that we see legislation in due time and that it doesn’t just pop up out of nowhere. Some of the worst laws in the history of our state are those that are passed without adequate public scrutiny and even scrutiny within the elected bodies that represent us,” David Greising, president and CEO of the Better Government Association, told the Sun-Times. [Chicago Sun-Times]

4. The Brookfield Zoo announced a major redesign

And the 90-year-old zoo is getting a name change — Brookfield Zoo Chicago.

The zoo this week announced huge upgrades as it approaches its centennial this summer, my colleague Mary Norkol reports.

Among them is a $66 million new Tropical Forests exhibit that will open to the public next year. This three-acre exhibit will include a Gorilla Conservation Center and different habitats that allow animals more choice in how they move about.

“We’ll really set them up in a facility where they have all the resources they need … but they also have this incredible view over the outdoor gorilla habitat,” zoo President and CEO Dr. Mike Adkesson said. “Our goal with that program is to inspire young conservationists.” [Chicago Sun-Times]

5. This month ushers in a concert season that’s kicking off with gusto

“March is traditionally when the city starts to unfreeze and Chicagoans begin exploring greater musical options in clubs and theaters,” WBEZ contributor Mark Guarino writes.

Guarino created a handy list of concerts worth checking out this month, focusing on medium to smaller venues.

“Rather than recommend the obvious marquee stars playing the usual sports sheds, the following 10 shows reflect the variety of styles and genres thriving at midsize and smaller venues,” Guarino writes. “Any night of the week in Chicago is a good one for music.”

His curated list includes everyone from Danny Brown to Sleater-Kinney. And if you have a recommendation, you can email us at Happy listening. [WBEZ]

Here’s what else is happening

  • UN Secretary General António Guterres called for a probe into the deaths of more than 100 Palestinians during an aid delivery in Gaza. [BBC]

  • Thousands of mourners attended the funeral of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. [NPR]

  • Concerns are growing over Catherine, Princess of Wales, formerly known as Kate Middleton, who hasn’t been publicly seen in months. [NBC News]

  • Two women who played Oompa Loompas at the Willy Wonka Chocolate Experience in Glasgow said they “had no idea what they were walking into.” [BBC]

Oh, and one more thing …

A new attraction at Navy Pier allows you to soar over the green-tinted Chicago River during St. Patrick’s Day, my colleague Erica Thompson reports.

Or fly alongside the “L” train, peeking through the windows at riders performing inside.

The immersive attraction is called Flyover, a virtual journey that lets riders fly over, under, through and alongside many other iconic Chicago landmarks.

“Well worth the $24.95 ticket price for adults, Flyover at Navy Pier was designed over two-and-a-half years with the help of more than 750 people, including writer and director David Mossop,” Thompson writes.

“The team interviewed many Chicago residents, including business owners and performers, and some of their unscripted commentary is featured in the footage.” [Chicago Sun-Times]

Tell me something good …

The weather this week makes me not want to go to work. Do you have a fond memory of playing hooky or calling in “sick” to get a day off from work or school?

Beth writes:

“My favorite line for calling in sick was ‘I can’t come in today because I am having eye trouble.’ The next part was said after I hung up: ‘I just can’t see myself coming to work today.’

“Years later, when I owned my own company, part of the new hire orientation included letting people know that they didn’t have to explain themselves when they called in. They could simply be having eye trouble.”

And Annie writes:

“I hopefully created a core ‘playing hooky’ memory with my 9-year-old son this fall when I took him to a dentist appointment on a Thursday morning, but told him I was taking him to school right afterwards (even though I had planned to play hooky long in advance).

“We were heading towards school and he groaned, ‘I don’t wanna go to school… .’ I couldn’t contain my excitement and replied, ‘Well, you’re in luck because we’re having a mom and son day of fun instead!’ We drove right past school, had brunch at Yolk Test Kitchen and spent the rest of the afternoon at the Disney 100 Exhibition. It was a special day together and one I hope he’ll never forget!”

Thanks for all the emails this week. I really enjoyed reading your “playing hooky” stories!