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Brandon Johnson

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson responds to a question in his City Hall office during an interview Monday, May 6, 2024, in Chicago.

Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

The Rundown: Summer jobs program slowly growing

Plus, astronomers spotted a black hole nestled in a cluster of stars. Here’s what you need to know today.

Good afternoon! “Gladiator II” was already on my shortlist of must-see movies this year — but the new trailer hyped me up even more. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Mayor Brandon Johnson slowly builds on a campaign promise to hire more young people for the city’s summer jobs program

Chicago’s youth jobs program grew incrementally this summer, including 100 people hired to learn conflict resolution and relationship building, but the program has been criticized for failing to reach people who need it most, my colleague Mariah Woelfel writes for WBEZ.

Roughly 27,140 young people are working in the One Summer Chicago program this year, according to figures provided by the Department of Family and Support Services. While that number falls short of the mayor’s campaign promise to double the program’s size, it has nearly bounced back from a COVID-19 induced dip.

Johnson, who campaigned on holistic, nonpolice alternatives to violence prevention, has made opportunities for youth a cornerstone of his crime reduction plan.

Under Johnson, the city has tried to prioritize applications from kids who are out of school, enrolled in a lower quality CPS school and people with disabilities or non-English learners. [WBEZ]

2. Chicago and suburban transit leaders say they need money — not a combined agency

Leaders of the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra and Pace argued the systems are already efficient and accountable, but they need more funding to improve the frequency of trains and buses, David Struett writes for the Chicago Sun-Times.

A bill introduced this spring in the Illinois Legislature would shore up the transit agencies with $1.5 billion in yearly funding. As the bill is written, that extra money would be provided in exchange for combining the area’s four transit boards — CTA, Metra, Pace and RTA — into one entity called the Metropolitan Mobility Authority.

Without extra tax dollars by 2026 — when federal pandemic grants run dry — the agencies forecast a combined $730 million annual budget deficit.

CTA President Dorval Carter said the agency may have to cut service by 30%. Carter called it a potential “draconian” cut compared with the 10% service cuts CTA implemented in 2010 during the Great Recession.

The transit bosses argued yesterday the large number of members on their respective boards is a strength of the current system, and the needs of suburban riders are different from those in Chicago. [Chicago Sun-Times]

3. The path to a CPS test-in high school often begins at age 4 — with a test most parents don’t know exists

Students admitted to a CPS elementary gifted program based on the high-stakes test are three times more likely to get into a coveted CPS’ selective high school, my colleague Sarah Karp reports for WBEZ.

Parents are responsible for signing up to take their child to a single testing site. The greatest number of seats are available for kindergarten.

“A single data point in time, especially if it requires any kind of family initiative, where I have to go out of my way to sign my kid up, or take him or her to a testing center on a testing date, was a really common and really bad practice,” Scott Peters, senior research scientist at NWEA, which creates student assessments, told WBEZ. He added that most school districts have abandoned this practice, including New York City.

The district’s 15 elementary gifted schools and programs lay the foundation for an inequity that persists into high school, a WBEZ analysis of CPS data shows. [WBEZ]

4. A boil order was issued for drinking water in Auburn Gresham, Beverly and Morgan Park

City and state officials are concerned about potential E. coli or other bacterial contamination, my colleague Brett Chase reports for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Water should be brought to a boil for at least five minutes. Free water bottles are available at Ridge Park.

The boil order follows a leak last night in a high-pressure water main inside the Roseland Pumping Station. Officials are testing the water.

Buildings and homes east of Sacramento Avenue, north of 119th Street, west of Interstate 57 and south of 87th Street and southwest of Beverly Avenue are affected, according to the water department. [Chicago Sun-Times]

5. Astronomers spotted a mysterious black hole nestled in a cluster of stars

Astronomers have used the Hubble Space Telescope to find evidence of an elusive kind of black hole, one that’s about 8,000 times more massive than our sun, NPR reports.

This is far larger than a typical black hole that’s created when a dead star collapses in on itself. But, according to a report on the discovery in the journal Nature, it’s also not nearly as big as the kind of supermassive black hole that lurks in the center of galaxies and can hold hundreds of thousands to millions of suns.

The discovery could help scientists learn how black holes form and why some grow into gargantuan monsters. [NPR]

Here’s what else is happening

  • A school district in Pennsylvania says students made fake TikTok accounts to target teachers. [NPR]
  • Target will stop accepting personal checks as a form of payment. [CNN]
  • Public health officials confirmed a human case of the plague in Colorado. [ABC News]
  • This portrait of Dolley Madison might be the first photo of a first lady. [NPR]

Oh, and one more thing …

It’s way too easy to step outside and accidentally spend at least $50.

But good news: Summertime in Chicago means an abundance of art, concerts and other free activities.

My colleague Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis put together 10 great suggestions for events that are free or ask for small donations.

This year, I’m especially excited to check out the trails on Northerly Island and the Lyric Opera’s free Millennium Park performance. [WBEZ]

Tell me something good …

It’s no surprise Pizza Hut’s new tavern style isn’t as good as our local options. So I’m wondering, what’s your favorite place to get tavern-style pizza in the Chicago area?

Ariane writes:

“For twenty years and three apartments Pete’s Pizza on Western was our go to favorite. We were fortunate to be able to buy a house in 2020, but it was out of their delivery zone. Heartbreaking. We still go pick one up occasionally, but where we are now in Jeff Park, we really like Joe’s.”

Brian writes:

“I absolutely love tavern-style pizza from Countryside Saloon. Sure, it’s a bit outside of the city limits in nearby Des Plaines, but the recipe reflects tried-and-true, cracker-crusty, not-too-sweet sauce and fresh toppings. (In this house we believe in giardiniera, sausage, mushroom and green pepper toppings) It’s worth a trip northwest, especially if you’re still into craft beer; they have a mighty array of local beers on tap! Pro tip: If you order takeaway, ask them to parbake the pizza and don’t cut it so you can finish it off in your home oven.”

Susan writes:

“Favorite tavern style pizza, Home Run Inn. Has been my favorite since the first location on 31st Street when it was a small tavern where you picked up your order at the back at a take out counter.”

And Craig writes:

“We love the Candelite on Western in Rogers Park. Great bar and restaurant. A neighborhood place with thin crust pizza that is absolutely delicious.”

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

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