Afternoon Edition: April 14, 2020

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

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A photographer on bike walks though the dust cloud descending though the Little Village neighborhood, after the Crawford Coal Plant smoke stack was imploded.

Tyler LaRiviere/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.

Yep, it’s snowing today. You’ve probably already seen some from your window, but expect more throughout the afternoon and evening. The high will be near 42 degrees, and the low will be around 29 degrees. Tomorrow, the high will be the same, and more snow is in the forecast for the morning.

Top story

Lightfoot’s decision to strip aldermen of control over permits at center of Little Village demolition controversy

Hours after taking office, Mayor Lori Lightfoot signed an executive order stripping aldermen of their unbridled control over licensing and permitting in their wards.

On Saturday, the mayor’s decision to start delivering on the central promise of her corruption-fighting mayoral campaign came back to haunt the residents of Little Village.

Armed with a city demolition permit that local Ald. Mike Rodriguez (22nd) was powerless to block, a sub-contractor hired by Hilco Redevelopment Partners demolished a 95-year-old smokestack at the site of a shuttered coal-fired power plant without abiding by the safety measures it had promised to implement.

That caused a giant plume of dust to rain down on the community, making it difficult to breathe during a coronavirus pandemic that does the same. Homes, vehicles, streets and sidewalks were left filthy.

Today, Rodriguez said he would have delayed the smokestack demolition if he could have and twice tried to do just that, only to be told by the city the project would proceed.

He now plans to introduce an ordinance after the fact requiring so-called “special-use permits” from the Zoning Board of Appeals before future large-scale demolitions.

“In that special-use permit, there will be much more strict guidelines and much more community engagement and aldermanic power,” said Rodriguez, who lives five blocks from the demolition site.

Aldermen Brian Hopkins (2nd) and Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) couldn’t agree more.

They argue that Lightfoot’s decision to consolidate permitting power in the mayor’s office means she “owns” the Little Village debacle as much as she claims that Hilco does.

The mayor’s office had no immediate comment.

Read the full story from Fran Spielman, one of Chicago Magazine’s “50 most powerful women.”

More news you need

  1. More than half of the 69 immigrant children sheltered by nonprofit Heartland Alliance, which operates three shelters in Chicago, tested positive for the coronavirus, the organization said today. Officials said the prognosis of the children “is very good.“
  2. No one was injured after a fire broke out this morning on the roof of the Blommer Chocolate Co. factory, known for sending cocoa scents adrift through downtown. Fires at the factory are not uncommon, David Struett explains.
  3. Another 74 people have died from the coronavirus in Illinois, bringing the state’s outbreak toll to 868 deaths today. While Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signaled there is hope the state is bending the curve, it’s unclear when cases will actually drop.
  4. No surprise here: Former President Barack Obama endorsed Joe Biden for president today. Biden “has the character and the experience to guide us through one of our darkest times and heal us through a long recovery,” Obama said.
  5. The Office of Illinois Comptroller has established an online portal showing the state’s daily spending on coronavirus-related purchases. See what the state is buying each day, and what it costs, in our live blog.
  6. A donation drive has been set up at the United Center, where personal protective equipment is being accepted through Friday. Drop-offs can be made from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Friday at the United Center’s East Atrium, 16 S. Wood St., Lot H.
  7. Mayor Lori Lightfoot is back with another video. This time, it’s to convince Chicagoans across the city to fill out their 2020 census forms. While rattling off a list of activities to “fight the boredom and not go crazy,” she not-so-subtly reminds viewers to complete the census.

A bright one

Everyone could use some cheering up these days, so Second City and Topic are coming to the rescue.

The iconic Chicago improv troupe and the streaming service have joined forces for “The Second City Presents: The Last Show Left on Earth,” a half-hour sketch/variety limited series that premieres Thursday at 8 p.m.

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Jack McBrayer will host the first episode of “The Second City Presents: The Last Show Left on Earth,” a half-hour sketch/variety limited series that will stream live beginning April 16.

Getty Images

The lineup will include Second City alums and their pals in “original sketches, musical performances, animation and rare Second City footage from the vaults.“ The series’ theme song will be composed and performed by instrumentalist Andrew Bird.

Thursday’s premiere episode will be hosted by “30 Rock” alum Jack McBrayer with musical guest Jeff Tweedy and special guest Kelci Saffery of Netflix’s “Tiger King”.

Read the full story from Miriam Di Nunzio to see the lineup for future episodes and learn how to watch the Second City show from your couch.

From the press box

Jim Frey, a former manager, executive and broadcaster for the Cubs, died Sunday at age 88. As manager from 1984-86, he led the Cubs to their first postseason appearance since the 1945 World Series. He later served as GM during a run that included another trip to the playoffs in 1989.

“We join the baseball community in mourning Jim’s passing and send our condolences to his family and friends,” the Cubs said in a statement.

Your daily question☕

What’s a small thing that’s bringing you joy during the coronavirus pandemic?

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 how you made Easter or Passover work this year while following the stay-at-home order and social-distancing guidelines.Here’s what some of you said…

“Like so many other people, we did seders via Zoom. What was really nice is the people we generally have at our home for seders, which include family and friends (some of whom are not Jewish), joined us anyway. While it’s disappointing to not share the holiday with family and friends in person, there was one upside — clean-up was a lot easier.”— Stan Zoller

“My husband and I watched our church service online and had our Easter dinner for two.”— Carol Fiedler Brennan

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