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Afternoon Edition: Dec. 23, 2021

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

Maurice Swinney, the Chicago Public Schools ‘ interim chief education officer, at a news conference at Ombudsman Chicago South Alternative School in West Englewood on Aug. 30. 
Ashlee Rezin/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. Note: Afternoon Edition will not publish until Monday, Dec. 27. Have a happy holiday!

This afternoon will be mostly cloudy with a high near 44 degrees. Similar conditions will continue into tonight with a low around 36 degrees. Tomorrow will be cloudy with a chance of rain and a high near 52 degrees. Christmas Day is expected to be mostly cloudy with a high near 45 degrees and a 50% chance of rain.

Top story

‘They made a promise,’ but CPS slow to act on changing slaveholder school names

When the top Chicago Public Schools official for racial equity learned that CPS had 30 schools named for slaveholders, his immediate reaction was surprise and outrage.

“It’s dehumanizing, and it’s something that we have to work on and change,” Maurice Swinney said when presented with the Chicago Sun-Times findings, acknowledging that he hadn’t known how many school names were linked to slavery. “And we got to disrupt it, we got to stop it, we got to change it.”

Swinney said he would lead an effort to change the names of schools named for anyone involved in slavery. People of color would be involved in those discussions. And the system-wide rules for schools considering changing their names would be updated and be brought before the Chicago Board of Education for approval by the start of the new school year — even amid the coronavirus pandemic.

And then CPS also might look at schools named for 35 other historical figures who publicly embraced racist or misogynistic views.

That was one year ago.

Since then, one Chicago school with a name linked to slavery has shed its slaveholder namesake. And the Board of Ed has yet to be presented with the rules change that Swinney, who since has been promoted to CPS’s interim chief educational officer, said would come months ago.

Swinney has declined interview requests made through a CPS spokeswoman beginning in mid-November about the slaveholder school names and the changes he promised 12 months ago were coming.

The spokeswoman says the delays are because of the coronavirus pandemic, which hit the United States in March 2020, shutting down schools and putting a wrench in all but essential operations, and a change in administration that saw Janice Jackson resign in May as the school system’s chief executive officer. Jackson was replaced in September by Pedro Martinez.

Lauren FitzPatrick has more on the delay in promised changes here.

More news you need

  1. Cook County, following Chicago’s lead, will impose a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for customers of restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and fitness centers beginning Jan. 3. The county’s announcement today came as Illinois reported a single-day record of 18,942 new cases.
  2. Illinois Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford revealed today that her husband fired shots at carjackers after a Mercedes SUV they were in was seized from them at gunpoint in Broadview. Police said they recovered the Mercedes, which Lightford said was a “loaner” she got from a dealer while her vehicle was in the shop.
  3. Family and friends are mourning the loss of Eladio Gomez, who died in a fire last week at his home in Belmont Central. A firefighter, MaShawn Plummer, collapsed while battling the blaze and died days later.
  4. Dr. Lester Fisher, the former director of Lincoln Park Zoo who helped transform the once aging facility into a renowned institution centered around education and animal welfare, has died. He was 100 years old.
  5. The Joffrey Ballet today announced it is canceling all remaining performances of “The Nutcracker,” citing another breakthrough case of COVID-19 within the company ranks. The move is the latest by Chicago-area theater productions forced to cancel performances to due COVID outbreaks among the casts and crews.
  6. From “Belfast” and “Licorice Pizza,” to “In the Heights,” “The Harder They Fall” and more, Richard Roeper’s list of the best movies of 2021 covers a wide range of genres. While there were several films that almost made the cut, the Sun-Times critic said he stuck with the films that resonated most with him.

A bright one

Decades after WWII vet dies, West Side children’s hospital receives $90,000 from him

When World War II veteran Ernest Ulrich died in 1999 at 85 years old, he left behind a $1.5 million estate. He never married or had children, so his will listed several nonprofits to disburse the money to.

But for unknown reasons, Ulrich’s will was never executed, and his estate was eventually turned over to the Illinois Treasurer’s Unclaimed Property Program.

By the time the state tracked down Ulrich’s estate down, it had grown to $2.1 million.

Thanks to Ulrich, that Shriners Hospitals for Children at 2211 N. Oak Park Ave. received a $90,000 donation yesterday.

Ernest Ulrich, shown here in his Army uniform in 1945.
Provided

Speaking at Shriners Hospital yesterday, Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs said it was a “great joy” to give the donation.

Ulrich’s donation will cover the cost of implanting magnetic rods for two patients with scoliosis, one of the illnesses the hospital specializes in treating, explained Daniel Winter, director of development for Shriner Hospitals.

The Salvation Army, Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly, The Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind, and Goodwill Industries of Metro Chicago were also listed in Ulrich’s will.

Cheyanne M. Daniels has more on Ulrich’s contributions here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

Do you think Cook County’s vaccine mandate for indoor diners will increase the number of vaccinations against COVID-19? 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: Is it ever OK for a dog owner to toss their pet’s waste in a neighbor’s trash?

Here’s what some of you said…

“No, if you aren’t paying for the garbage fees and the person doesn’t own a dog, then take it home.” — Betty Mantell

“I’ve had a neighbor here or there ask me not too and they are usually old and grumpy.” — Amanda Potter

“I don’t mind, but I won’t do it. People get so upset and territorial over the smallest things! I either toss it in public garbage (park, large dumpster, etc) or in my own garbage when I get home.” — Rebecca Lyn

“Absolutely not. I wouldn’t want that so why would I do that to someone? Ugh.” — Michelle Lynne

“I carry mine home no matter what. I live in the suburbs though. Most people are respectful of picking it up. We will see when the snow comes.” — Kathy Paskvalich Adler

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

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