Afternoon Edition: Oct. 12, 2021

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

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Inspector General Joe Ferguson speaks to members of the City Council during a budget hearing last Thursday.

Anthony Vazquez/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.

This afternoon will be mostly cloudy with a high near 68 degrees. Tonight will also be mostly cloudy with a low near 55. Tomorrow will be partly sunny with a high near 72 and a 50% chance of showers.

Top story

Departing watchdog sounds alarm — again — about CFD response times

Eight years after Inspector General Joe Ferguson sounded the first alarm, the Chicago Fire Department still has not implemented the changes necessary to accurately measure response times to fire and medical emergencies.

In 2013, Ferguson concluded the fire department did not meet the National Fire Protection Association’s standards for emergency response times and that its internal reports “lacked the elements necessary to accurately assess” the veracity of CFD’s claims that it was exceeding national standards.

Two years later, Ferguson issued a follow-up report that reached similar conclusions.

Today — just three days before he ends his 12-year run as city government’s top watchdog, Ferguson released a second comprehensive audit concluding CFD:

  • Still does not produce annual department-wide reports that would allow it to evaluate emergency response times.
  • Does not measure “turnout and travel time as separate components of response time,’” does not use “industry-standard percentile measures” and has not set goals for turnout or travel time at the “industry standard 90th percentile.”

(Turnout time begins when first responders press a button at the firehouse acknowledging an emergency call was received. The travel time phase begins when they press another button inside their vehicles to show they are en route and ends when the same button is pressed upon arrival at the scene. )

  • Documented its overall EMS response time goal as required by state law, but has not done the same for fire response goals.
  • Still uses data that is “not adequate to allow reliable measurement” of emergency response times.

Fran Spielman has the full story on Ferguson’s report here.

More news you need

  1. The former CEO of a Pennsylvania debt-collection company admitted today that he made payments to support former Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown’s Women’s History Month program to reward her for business he thought she steered his way. The feds in 2019 said Donald Donagher Jr. and Penn Credit conspired to bribe Brown and other elected clerks in Florida.
  2. More than a year after shooting and killing a knife-wielding man, three Chicago police officers were honored by the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation today. Police body cam footage showed the man thrusting a knife at an officer, puncturing her vest and stabbing her before the two other officers fired.
  3. Last weekend marked 150 years since the last embers from the Great Chicago Fire flickered out. Lee Bey looked into how the fire changed a smoldering city with the will and money to rebuild.
  4. Visitors to Millennium Park will have more food and beverage choices soon thanks to a $2.5 million investment that will reopen and rebrand the clout-heavy Park Grill restaurant. Eleven North Hospitality will serve as Millennium Park’s concessionaire, with renovations already underway at the 140-seat restaurant behind the skating rink.
  5. The polarizing Chicago chef Charlie Trotter is the focus of a new documentary titled “Love, Charlie: The Rise and Fall of Chef Charlie Trotter.” Sun-Times movie critic Richard Roeper calls it one of the best documentaries of the year in his 3.5-star review.

A bright one

Chicago International Film Festival returns for in-person, virtual screenings

After going nearly all virtual last year due to the pandemic, the Chicago International Film Festival returns this week for its 57th iteration, bringing back in-theater screenings along with less costly virtual screenings.

The 57th annual festival draws cinema co-produced in 57 different countries, coincidentally. The schedule has 89 feature-length films and 10 programs of shorts. Documentaries include world premieres of works about Mayor Harold Washington, chef Charlie Trotter and U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

“The French Dispatch” launches the festival at 7 p.m. tomorrow at the Music Box Theatre, a partner venue added this year. Tickets are $40. This U.K./France/Germany co-production opens Oct. 21 in Chicago.

Here are some films recommended to see on the big screen or stream at home (tickets for both in-person and streaming options available at

“Amira” (Egypt/Jordan/UAE/Saudi Arabia)


A still from “Amira.”


Egyptian filmmaker Mohammed Diab crafts a moving thriller about a 17-year-old Palestinian woman seeking truths about her birth. Imprisoned by Israelis, her father had nonetheless impregnated her mother. DNA tests now create a tragic conflict of identity. (5:45 p.m. Oct. 19, AMC River East, 322 E. Illinois St.)

“The Last Execution” (Germany)


A still from the “The Last Execution.”


Franziska Stünkel re-creates the Kafkaesque plight of an East Berlin academic coerced by state security agents to destroy a soccer star who defected to the west. As in other politically acute entries this year, men leverage women in power plays. The title refers to the June 26, 1981 execution of Werner Teske, whose story inspired the screenplay. (8:45 p.m. Oct. 16, and 5:15 p.m. Oct. 21 AMC River East 21)

“Babi Yar. Context” (The Netherlands/Ukraine)

Sergei Loznitsa assembles a searing montage that contextualizes Germans and Ukrainians shooting 33,771 Jews near Kiev on September 29 and 30, 1941. Adding natural sounds and actors voicing actual words, transcribed and broadcast at the time, lends uncanny impact to the originally silent footage. Some was home movies by German soldiers. (12:15 p.m. Oct. 17, AMC River East 21)

“The Last Forest” (Brazil)


A still from “The Last Forest.”


Luiz Bolognesi won a Silver Hugo for “Ex-Shaman” in the 2018 festival. He returns to the rainforest to further document the further struggles of ex-shaman Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, credited here as co-writer. He stars as himself. Their shared perspectives defend an imperiled way of life from invasive miners and mercury ruining the water. (6 p.m. Oct. 20, AMC River East 21)

Read Bill Stamets’ full list of must-see films at this year’s festival here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

Can a Cubs fan cheer for the White Sox or vice versa? Tell us why or why not.

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: Thousands of people completed the 26.2-mile Chicago Marathon yesterday. What’s the greatest athletic accomplishment of your life? Here’s what some of you said…

“I did the 39-mile Susan G. Komen breast cancer walk in Chicago back in 2007. It was a long time ago, but the memories and the friendships made will last forever!” — Angela Lehman

“Now — I am 90 years old and I pulled weeds from rock landscaping areas this morning.” — Gail Korbel

“I hit a grand slam in a womens league when I was in my 30s.” — Laurel Schultheis Karolczak

“I acted in an episode of Storm Stories on The Weather Channel at age 70. My role involved fighting the current in the Des Plaines River, then crawling up the slippery muddy bank. It was epic.” — Sandy Gulliver

“Stealing the ball from and tripping my cousin in kiddie soccer when the whole family was watching us play that game versus each other. Got a red card. Lol.” — Angie Lewandowski

“The greatest marathon on earth: the Boston.” — Manny Figueroa

“Passing high school gym in 1962. I am not a fan of sweating at all!” — Sue Shannon Whelan

“I once sat on the couch for 16 hours 27 minutes and 13 seconds without getting up to use the bathroom or eat.” — Gabe Escobar

“Climbing to the 11,000-foot elevation at Yosemite.” — Craig Barner

“Completing the Chicago Marathon, twice, 24 years apart.” — Tom Griffin

“Getting around the dang marathon traffic should be its own sport.” — Leticia Montes

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