Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.
Chicago’s most important news of the day, delivered every weekday afternoon. Plus, a bonus issue on Saturdays that dives into the city’s storied history.
This afternoon will be partly sunny, with a high near 56 degrees and some scattered showers in the forecast. Tonight’s low will be around 38 degrees. Tomorrow will be warmer, but cloudy, with a high near 64 degrees, and Sunday will be rainy with a high near 54.
Taxpayers paid for 7 business trips taken by then-Supt. Eddie Johnson and female Chicago cop now suing him for sexual assault
While he was Chicago’s police superintendent, Eddie Johnson went on at least seven out-of-town taxpayer-funded business trips with his female bodyguard who’s now accusing him of sexual assault, according to city travel records obtained by us.
Johnson and Officer Cynthia Donald traveled to New Orleans, Peoria and Springfield between 2016 and 2019, spending thousands of dollars in taxpayer money on their trips, sometimes with adjacent hotel rooms, according to records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
Johnson, 60, was demoted by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and retired last year after she said he lied about an incident in which he was found slumped in his car near his Bridgeport home. He’d been drinking for hours with Donald at a downtown bar, officials say.
Donald sued Johnson late Wednesday, contending he forced her to have sex — in his office and on work-related trips. Johnson released a statement saying “the allegations of sexual assault and harassment made by Ms. Donald never happened.”
Donald, 45, became a Chicago police officer in 2006. Johnson found her attractive and arranged to have her transferred to his security detail in 2016, according to her lawsuit. Six months later, she became his personal driver.
City travel records show Johnson and Donald traveled to Springfield together five times, including for the signing of a gun-control bill in June 2017, and in February 2018 when Johnson testified in support of gun-control legislation named in honor of slain Chicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer. Johnson and Donald had adjacent rooms in the Wyndham Springfield City Centre on both of those trips, records show.
In 2018, Johnson and Donald traveled to a police ethics conference in New Orleans and stayed on the same floor of the Hotel Indigo in the Garden District, records show.
Multiple times, Johnson ordered Donald to come into his room for sex, her lawsuit said.
“On occasions during these work-related trips that [Donald] was able to avoid Superintendent Johnson’s sexual advances, Superintendent Johnson would tell [her] that she ‘got away this time,’” the lawsuit said.
The travel records also showed that during two police conferences in California, Johnson rented luxury cars — an Infiniti QX60 in 2016 and a BMW 330i in 2018. The cars cost hundreds of dollars more than Johnson was budgeted to spend with his city traveling allowance, the records show. He drove each car less than 60 miles.
City budget officials made Johnson pay for the upgrade to the Infiniti, but it’s unclear from the records whether the city paid the full $530 tab for the BMW. Johnson rented both cars through Avis’ “Cool Cars” program.
Johnson hasn’t been charged with any criminal wrongdoing in connection with Donald’s allegations or his out-of-town expenses.
Read Frank Main and Mitch Dudek’s full report here.
More news you need
- For a second straight day, Illinois shattered its record for the most coronavirus infections confirmed in a single day throughout the pandemic with 4,554 newly diagnosed cases of the deadly disease. The positivity rate, which indicates how rapidly the virus is spreading, has jumped up to 5.1% from 4.9% a day earlier.
- Chicago Public Schools enrollment has plummeted by 15,000 students this fall, the largest single-year drop in more than two decades, according to records released by the school system today. Officials say the “crisis” is largely driven by a drop in new families enrolling this fall in preschool programs and elementary school.
- Preschoolers and some special education students will head back to the classroom next month, followed by the potential return of other students as soon as January, Chicago Public Schools announced today. In the meantime, all classes will continue to operate remotely at the start of the second academic quarter.
- Fired Supt. Johnson consumed the “equivalent of 10 alcoholic beverages” on the night he was found asleep in his running police SUV, then received favored treatment from seven of his underlings, the inspector general said today. A year after the incident that caused Johnson’s downfall, Inspector General Joe Ferguson’s long-awaited report details the cover-up.
- Lawyers for R. Kelly claim a Latin King street gang member who allegedly assaulted Kelly in Chicago’s federal jail first “roamed a great distance” within the downtown facility, and no one “raised a finger” to stop him until he was well into Kelly’s beating. The alleged assailant, Jeremiah Farmer, said Kelly let out a “horrifying scream” during the attack.
- “Cheer” star Jerry Harris will remain behind bars while awaiting trial, a federal judge ruled today. Harris’ alleged conduct and how he hid his alleged crimes “overwhelmingly supports detention,” the judge said.
- The Chopin Theatre in Wicker Park remains temporarily closed because of the pandemic, but a new marquee of sorts is encouraging people to participate in what will prove to be a remarkable show: The Nov. 3 general election. A month ahead of that pivotal day, a mural went up on the theater’s exterior with one sole word: “VOTE.”
A bright one
Do Asian carp burgers sound gross to you? This politician wants you to eat them
“I’ll have an Asian carp burger” is not a phrase often heard around Chicago, but a local politician would like to change that. At least over the next couple of weekends.
Josina Morita, a commissioner with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, is sponsoring carp burger and carp taco giveaways around the city and in Evanston this weekend and next to raise awareness of the invasive fish’s threat to Illinois rivers and potentially Lake Michigan.
Morita wants to convince Chicagoans to eat the fish to help reduce the population of a species that has upended local ecosystems in Illinois for decades. Asian carp, who are voracious eaters themselves, threaten to starve native fish species. To date, no Asian carp have been found in the Chicago River, though genetic material related to the fish was discovered in Bubbly Creek last year. The fear is that the carp will make their way to Lake Michigan.
Morita is hoping the event may convince some restaurants to offer the carp, which she describes as a mild-tasting whitefish. Proponents of eating Asian carp insist it’s different from the bottom-feeding common carp that can taste foul. “It’s a heartier flavor than a lot of fish,” Morita says, adding that the carp also are nutritious with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
Because of the bone structure, it’s difficult to filet the fish, so the easiest way to offer it as food is to grind it like hamburger. That’s how Dirk Fucik, owner of Dirk’s Fish and Gourmet Shop in Lincoln Park, sells Asian carp.
Fucik, who will host one of the fish burger giveaways, started selling Asian carp about a decade ago because of the conservation benefits, and also tries to sell customers on the taste and value (about $6 a pound).
“It’s not super popular,” Fucik said.
Read Brett Chase’s full story here.
From the press box
Bears rookie tight end Cole Kmet has one catch for 12 yards — and just three targets — in his first five games. But the Bears are confident he’ll become a bigger weapon.
Since being cut by the Bears last year, running back Mike Davis has blossomed for the Carolina Panthers. The Bears face the Panthers at noon Sunday on Fox-32.
And the Fire will play Sporting KC at 2:30 p.m. tomorrow on Univision. It’ll also be live streamed on Twitter at @TUDNUSA.
Your daily question ☕
Did you watch President Donald Trump and Joe Biden’s town halls last night? What did you think?
Email us (please include your first name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.
Yesterday, we asked you: Have you voted yet, either in person or by mail? How did it go? Here’s what some of you said…
“I voted by mail in Chicago and received an e-mail two days later that my ballot was accepted. No problem.” — Graham Gazdziak
“Voted in person in Chicago today. Thought the line would be shorter than yesterday, but it was still an extremely long line. It took about 2 hours total, but I didn’t mind waiting at all, I loved seeing so many people voting.” — Edward Scott
“Received my mail-in ballot and dropped it in a ballot drop box. The process was simple and I didn’t have to take time off work to vote. I hope Illinois continues to make this an option.” — Richard Reynolds
“I requested a mail-in ballot nearly 2 months ago, and still have not received one. So I will be voting in person.” — Don Stellato
Thanks for reading the Chicago Afternoon Edition.Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.
Sign up here to get the Afternoon Edition in your inbox every day.