Afternoon Edition: Feb. 28, 2020

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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A spokeswoman for Gov. J.B. Pritzker says, “We’re in the process of identifying the charities that could use the variety of gifts that have been given to the governor.”

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

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.

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Afternoon Edition

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.

Grab your sunnies, we’re in for another beautiful weekend. This afternoon’s high will be 30 degrees and tonight’s low will be around 15 degrees. But we’ll see a serious warm up soon: Saturday will be sunny with a high of 39 degrees, and Sunday will see a high of 54 degrees. 😎

Top story

J.B. Pritzker has gotten 130 gifts since taking office, including a $950 bottle of Japanese whisky

What do you give to a governor who has two mansions and can afford anything he wants?

How about a $950 bottle of Hibiki Blender’s Choice, an aged whisky from Japan’s Suntory Distillery? Or $450 worth of tequila? Or a bust of Abe Lincoln?

Those were among the 130 gifts Gov. J.B. Pritzker has received since taking office a little over a year ago, records obtained by our Watchdogs show. The Japanese whisky was the priciest gift.

The uber-wealthy governor also reported getting six hats, a couple of scarves, 14 shirts and 54 books among a haul that his staff values at an estimated $25,230.

The gifts came from ordinary citizens as well as dignitaries, companies and organizations he visited, according to his staff, which didn’t list who gave each item.

But Pritzker didn’t keep any of it, according to spokeswoman Jordan Abuddayeh, who says the governor shared anything perishable with his staff and put the rest (including that whiskey) in secure storage locations at the Thompson Center and the Capitol.

(That’s not an invitation to launch a treasure hunt: Abuddayeh said those gifts will be donated to charity soon.)

Read the full story from Watchdog reporter Lauren FitzPatrick.


Flanked by attorneys and supporters, Amtrak police officer LaRoyce Tankson walks out of the Leighton Criminal Courthouse after being found not guilty of murder charges by a Cook County judge.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

More news you need

  1. The mother of a 6-year-old girl seen being locked up by a Cook County judge has come forward to say the “life lesson” was all her idea. Earlier this week, the judge involved was placed on “administrative duty.” Why this mom put her first-grader in lockup.
  2. Chicago Public School may be replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day, but Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she has no plans to follow along at the city level. Here’s what she said about CPS’s decision.
  3. A real estate mogul and ally of disgraced former Ald. Danny Solisis now at the center of the race to open some of Chicago’s first recreational weed stores. He suspects he’s being sabotaged by his competitors.
  4. An Amtrak police officer who fatally shot a Minnesota man as he fled from a pat-down search outside Union Station in 2017 was found not guilty of murder charges this morning by a Cook County judge. Both men’s families wept in the courthouse after the verdict.
  5. For $100, newly freed former Gov. Rod Blagojevich will send you “a birthday greeting, anniversary greeting, motivation or any other kind of shout out.” That’s right: Blago has joined Cameo.
  6. One of the city’s most prominent muralists, 38-year-old Max Sansing has developed an artistic language that he says draws from his years growing up in Avalon Park on the South Side. Read our interview & see photos of his work.
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A bright one

It looked like a scene out of “Rocky”: two beefy dudes spotted shadowboxing on a patch on ice floating in Lake Michigan Sunday near Oak Street beach.

Boban Simic, a Chicago bouncer who’s contemplating a comeback as a mixed martial arts fighter, and his trainer, former pro boxer and retired Chicago firefighter Bobby Thompson, were out for their regular winter swim when Simic noticed a large chunk of floating ice a couple hundred yards offshore.

Moments later, both were dancing on the ice and punching the air. Beneath the water it was 39 degrees, but on land it was unseasonably warm and sunny and people on the lakefront path began to gather and watch.

“This was like the high of my life,” Thompson said later. “We’re talking about getting to box on a f------ iceberg in Lake Michigan.”

The pair met in 2016 after seeing each other working out on the lakefront for years. They have a strong bond, partially based on one-upmanship.

“I am tougher and crazier and I let him know,” said Thompson, whose nickname as a young boxer was ‘Psycho’ and who recently invited Simic to punch him in the stomach. Simic obliged.

Simic lives in Roscoe Village and can be seen in the winter riding his bike to the waterfront, shirtless, with a chain strapped around his chest. (He uses it to lock his bike.) He’s also spent the last few months eating raw meat that he lets spoil in a jar in his kitchen, which he claims has innumerable health benefits.

Read the full story.

From the press box

The Bears are looking to the future at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. The big question remains: should they draft a quarterback to compete with Mitch Trubisky? And Austin Cooper, the top free agent tight end on the market, is in their sights.Sun-Times’ Bears reporters Patrick Finley and Jason Lieser have been sharing their thoughts in the Halas Intrigue podcast. 

New White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal is still working his way through a strained calf.

The rebranded Chicago Fire FC travel to Seattle for their MLS season opener on Sunday (2 p.m. ESPN). The Cubs and White Sox continue spring training games this weekend. The Bulls expect several injured players to return Saturday against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden (4 p.m. NBCSCH). And the Blackhawks continue their Florida swing with a game against the Panthers Saturday (5 p.m. NBCSCH+). The Wolves also play this weekend.

Your daily question ☕

Since fish is a popular substitute during Lent, we put together a map of the best fried fish places in the city. But we want to know: What’s your favorite fish fry? Email us here, and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

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