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Afternoon Edition: Sept. 4, 2020

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

William A. Helm leaving the Dirksen Federal Courthouse on March 10 after pleading not guilty to a bribery indictment.
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.

Happy Friday! The long weekend kicks off beautifully this afternoon with sunny skies and a high near 79 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 63 degrees. Tomorrow, good weather continues with more sunshine and a high near 80 degrees, but Sunday and Monday will be cloudy with a chance of rain, and highs in the low to mid 80s.

Top story

Inspector general implicates indicted ex-O’Hare official in a second bribery scheme

A former top city of Chicago airport official who has been indicted for bribery in connection with a northwest suburban road project was involved in a separate bribery scheme connected to a plumbing company seeking business at O’Hare Airport, City Hall’s inspector general has found.

Sloan Valve Company — a Franklin Park business whose plumbing fixtures are a mainstay in commercial bathrooms across the country — was hired to install its combination sink, faucet, soap dispenser and hand dryer throughout O’Hare’s terminals after plying former Deputy Aviation Commissioner William A. Helm and others with more than $20,000 in meals, beverages, golf outings, sports tickets and free trips to see the Cubs at spring training in Arizona, according to a report City Hall received from Inspector General Joseph Ferguson in late December.

Ferguson recommended that Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Department of Procurement ban Sloan Valve from ever getting any more city business — a proposed sanction the company is fighting.

“Sloan found a hole in the fabric of the city’s procurement processes and ripped it open to gain access and preferential treatment in O’Hare International Airport that its competitors did not share,” the inspector general’s report says, naming Sloan co-owner Charles “Kirk” Allen Jr. and his friend and former employee Daniel Sturch.

Sloan and company officials haven’t been charged with any crime.

Asked about the report, Sloan responded with a written statement disputing the inspector general’s findings, declining to address specifics.

“For over 114 years, Sloan has been proud to call Chicago home and has conducted business with the highest integrity as an honest and trusted American manufacturer; we vigorously dispute any suggestion to the contrary,” the company wrote. “We care deeply about our employees, our customers and valued partners, the city of Chicago and our good name. We will, of course, cooperate with any official inquiries, but this is not the appropriate time or forum to address these matters.”

Dive deeper into this investigation by reporter Tim Novak.

More news you need

  1. The Rev. Leon Finney Jr., a longtime power player in Chicago politics who built a real estate empire on the South Side, died this morning after a “long-term illness.” Finney had been dogged for decades by investigations into allegations of wrongdoing and mismanagement.
  2. Public health officials today blamed a slowdown in Illinois’ coronavirus test reporting system for the state’s largest-ever batch of new COVID-19 cases reported in a single day: 5,368. The unprecedented caseload was confirmed among a whopping 149,273 tests, the result of a backlog that officials say they discovered earlier this week.
  3. Seeking to stem a tide of violence that’s traditionally accompanied long weekends over the summer, CPD Supt. David Brown canceled days off for his officers and extended their shifts to 12 hours in order to put about 8,000 officers on the street this weekend. “I encourage everyone, everyone, to relax this weekend and have a comfortable, safe Labor Day,” CPD Supt. Brown said.
  4. Chicago Public Schools’ five-year graduation rate hit a record high of 82.5% for the 2019-20 school year, officials announced today. CPS CEO Janice Jackson said students of color are driving this year’s progress.
  5. “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman’s death at 43 stunned the world, but the incidence of colorectal cancer among adults under 50 has doubled in the past 24 years, with Blacks at higher risk than whites. That’s despite improvements in screening and an overall decline of more than 30% of cases.
  6. Two Cook County circuit judges who are on administrative duty, barred from performing nearly all judicial functions because they’re facing disciplinary proceedings, would like something from voters come November: another six years on the bench. Both continue to receive their full $204,000 salaries, plus benefits.
  7. In a male-dominated graffiti scene, artists Bel and Phina’s all-female graffiti-painting events have created a maze of murals in the alleys in the shadows of the Cook County Jail. See the large-scale, carefully curated productions here.

A bright one

‘Top Chef’ Joe Flamm confirms new Chicago restaurant’s name, opening date

Chef Joe Flamm confirmed today that his much-anticipated debut restaurant will open in early 2021 at Chicago’s Fulton Market district. The eatery, currently under construction at 932 W. Fulton Market, will be called Rose Mary, an homage to the popular herb and to his maternal and paternal grandmothers Rose and Mary Rose, who instilled in him a passion for food.

Flamm described his menu as “Adriatic drinking food,” influenced by the cuisines and cultures of Italy (where his family is from) and Croatia (where his wife Hillary is from). “It’s the food you find at lively restaurants and taverns on the side of the road in countries along the Adriatic. Somewhere that’s casual and fun, with food that’s vibrant, bold, super flavorful, and of course, heavily rooted in Italian technique,” Flamm said.

Chicago chef Joe Flamm will open his debut restaurant in early 2021 at the Fulton Market district. | Provided

Flamm is familiar to foodies for winning Season 15 of the Bravo reality series “Top Chef” in 2018, and for his former gig as executive chef at Chicago’s famed Spiaggia and Cafe Spiaggia restaurants.

“Rose Mary is the culmination of everything I have done with my career,” said Flamm. “But more importantly, it’s the culmination of my personal journey thus far. It’s a marriage of who I am, what I’ve learned, and the person I’ve built a life and a family with.”

Read Miriam Di Nunzio’s story here.

From the press box

The Bears face a 3 p.m. Saturday deadline to trim the squad to its final 53 players. Our Patrick Finley and Jason Lieser will keep track of the team’s latest moves to finalize its roster.

The Belmont winner Tiz the Law is the heavy favorite Saturday in the delayed running of the 146th Kentucky Derby. Post time is 6:01 p.m. on NBC.

The Cardinals are in town to play the Cubs. On Saturday, they will play another doubleheader to make up for games canceled because of the coronavirus (Marquee Sports Network for Saturday’s games, ESPN on Sunday).

The White Sox travel to Kansas City for a weekend series with the Royals (all games on NBC Sports Chicago).

Your daily question ☕

How do you usually spend Labor Day weekend, and what will be different about how you celebrate the unofficial end of summer this year?

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 about Bob Rohrman, and his classic TV commercials. Here’s what some of you said…

“I was looking forward to Count Bobula this Halloween. His comedy and philanthropic work will be missed!” — Adrian González

“I met him outside my class at Purdue and he was exactly as you would expect: great, happy, seemed to really enjoy life.” — Greg Zerkis

“I will miss his commercials, so funny and he seemed to just love life.” — Randy Young

Thanks for reading the Chicago Afternoon Edition. Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.

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