The Rundown: The warmest February on record?

Plus, Illinois could create digital driver’s licenses. Here’s what you need to know today.

The Rundown: The warmest February on record?

Plus, Illinois could create digital driver’s licenses. Here’s what you need to know today.

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Good afternoon! A four-day workweek created lasting benefits for companies in the U.K., researchers found. Meanwhile, forcing employees to return to the office didn’t help companies make more money, another study found. Huh. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Chicago is expected to set a record for the warmest February

And that’s of course thanks to this week’s summerlike temperatures that are attributed to climate change.

The city is on track to record a monthly average temperature of 39.4 degrees, surpassing the record of 39 degrees set in 1882, my colleague Sophie Sherry reports, citing the National Weather Service.

Chicago yesterday fell one degree short of the all-time daily record high for February, reaching 74 degrees at O’Hare Airport. The highest temperature ever recorded in February was 75 degrees set in 1976. [Chicago Sun-Times]

The unseasonably warm weather played a factor in producing last night’s severe thunderstorms.

“It’s always good to be prepared for a variety of weather hazards this time of year,” said Jake Petr, a senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “Have your coats and everything ready but also have sunscreen handy.” [Chicago Sun-Times]

2. Biden faced a noticeable protest vote in Michigan’s primary

Voters unhappy with President Joe Biden’s handling of the war in Gaza made themselves heard in Michigan’s primary, the first among the expected battleground states in November’s general election.

More than 100,000 votes were cast for the “uncommitted” option on the Democratic ballots, NPR reports, citing tallies released earlier this morning. That’s compared to the nearly 618,000 votes for Biden. [NPR]

The president’s campaign was surprised by the strength of the “uncommitted” effort, The New York Times reports.

“The movement is now likely to spread to other states, many of which have an option for voters to choose ‘uncommitted’ or ‘no preference’ in their primaries,” the newspaper reports. [New York Times]

3. The Art Institute showed ‘willful blindness’ in buying Nazi-looted art, New York prosecutors say

The damning allegation was made in court documents recently filed in New York that argue the Art Institute benefited from a decadeslong “conspiracy of silence” over the drawing “Russian War Prisoner” by Egon Schiele.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office says the work of art was stolen by the Nazis from cabaret star Fritz Grünbaum and later laundered through art dealers before arriving in New York, my colleague Emmanuel Camarillo reports.

Prosecutors accuse the Art Institute of failing to properly vet the origins of the piece when it purchased the artwork in 1966 and again decades later when questions were raised.

The Art Institute denies the allegations, contending museum officials are “confident” they legally own the piece. [Chicago Sun-Times]

4. A push to create digital driver’s licenses appears to gain momentum in Illinois

Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias supports legislation that would allow Illinois residents to carry digital driver’s licenses and state IDs on their smartphones, my colleague Cindy Hernandez reports.

The move could happen as soon as next year if state lawmakers approve the plan, Giannoulias’s office said. Physical cards would not be eliminated.

Twelve other states already offer digital licenses while 18 others are working toward implementation, Hernandez reports.

“Digital IDs could also offer more privacy than a physical card by allowing individuals to decide what personal information they share,” Hernandez writes. “Residents could verify their age when purchasing alcohol, cannabis or renting a car, while hiding other personal information, such as their address.” [Chicago Sun-Times]

5. It’s Tom Skilling’s last day at WGN

The beloved meteorologist today will deliver his final broadcast at WGN after 45 years.

And Chicagoans are finding their own unique ways of honoring the legendary weatherman, Block Club Chicago reports. Among them is the “Tom Freaking Skilling” beer from Hop Butcher for the World brewery.

“It doesn’t get more Chicago than Tom Skilling, so it was a fun thing to do,” employee Alec Nagy said.

Skilling told Block Club he plans on trying the beer, which is made with Amarillo, Nelson Sauvin and Citra hops.

“I’ve never been much of a beer drinker, but I’ll tell you one thing: I fully intend to taste it,” Skilling said. [Block Club Chicago]

Here’s what else is happening

  • The U.S. Supreme Court appeared hesitant to strike down a ban on a gun accessory that allows semi-automatic rifles to fire more quickly. [NBC News]

  • Mitch McConnell will step down as the Senate’s Republican leader in November. [AP]

  • Starbucks agreed to start talks with unionizing workers at hundreds of stores. [Chicago Sun-Times]

  • Apple abruptly pulled the plug on an electric car project, shifting employees to work on artificial intelligence. [NPR]

Oh, and one more thing …

Bronzeville, the notable and renowned mecca of Black history, is located just 10 minutes south of downtown Chicago, WBEZ contributor S. Nicole Lane writes.

Lane today put together an insider’s guide to the celebrated neighborhood, providing expert recommendations on where to eat, shop and check out Bronzeville’s history and culture.

“Bronzeville is filled with amazing architecture,” said Myiti Sengstacke, a fifth-generation Bronzeville resident and head of the Chicago Defender Charities.

“You can almost go on any street and see the fascinating, historic gray and Brownstones. Dr. King Drive alone is filled with history and beautiful homes.” [WBEZ]

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?

Erik writes:

“I fondly remember playing sick in middle school to lay on the couch and watch old episodes of Doctor Who my dad taped back when WTTW was airing it. No way would my mom let me get away with hitting the N64 though.”

And Laura writes:

“When I was in high school, I faked being sick one day because I just didn’t want to go to class. My mom had a strict ‘you must have a temperature to stay home’ policy, so I was shocked when she just said OK.

“I soon found out that my younger brother had a doctor’s appointment that day, so she had just scheduled me to go along. I sat there sweating, knowing that I was busted because there was NOTHING wrong with me (and I’m sure she knew it).

“To the surprise of both of us, the doctor came in to announce I had strep throat! So not only was I actually sick, I got to stay home an extra day.

“I think I kept that secret until I was in my mid-30s and could be sure my mom would have a good laugh about it (and we did).”

Feel free to email me, and your responses might be shared in the newsletter this week. Don’t worry, I’ll only use first names for this one.

Thanks for reading and have a nice night. Before I go, WBEZ is making changes to its programming on March 4. “Here & Now” will air from 11 a.m. to noon, followed by “Reset” from noon to 1 p.m. and “Fresh Air” from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.