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Afternoon Edition: Dec. 3, 2021

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

Alicia Hume, 42, outside her home in Metolius in central Oregon. 
Joe Kline/For the 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.

This afternoon will be mostly cloudy with a high near 50 degrees. Tonight will be partly cloudy with a low around 30. Tomorrow will be mostly sunny with a high near 44, and Sunday will bring rain with a high around 48.

Top story

Oregon’s the first state to ticket narcotics users, but reform has yet to live up to what was promised

Alicia Hume feared she was headed to jail after a sheriff’s deputy pulled over her borrowed Volkswagen Beetle and saw her put a bottle of eight fentanyl-laced oxycodone pills in her bra.

She faced a misdemeanor drug possession charge that could mean up to a year in jail, more than $6,000 in fines and court-ordered addiction treatment.

The Jefferson County, Oregon, sheriff’s deputy charged her but used his discretion to let the 42-year-old mother of two drive away that September night. Prosecutors later dropped her case, saying the deputy should have written her a ticket instead of charging her.

That’s because of a new Oregon law — the first in the nation — making possession of small amounts of drugs such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine the equivalent of a minor traffic infraction.

Since the Oregon law went into effect in February, police officers have written more than 1,300 tickets for drug possession instead of arresting people like Hume, achieving the ballot measure’s aim of keeping people out of jail.

It also steers hundreds of millions of dollars into expanding treatment throughout Oregon, which regularly ranks among the worst states for substance abuse and mental health problems as well as access to care.

But records show few have entered drug treatment through the ticketing system, which the law also was supposed to encourage. And interviews suggest many cops aren’t carrying out their new responsibilities.

Casey Toner, Jared Rutecki, and Frank Main have more in the second part of a Sun-Times and Better Government Association investigation into dead-end drug arrests. You can read the full Sun-Times/BGA series here.

More news you need

  1. In a news conference today, Carmen Day, the mother of Jelani Day, demanded the FBI take charge of the investigation into her son’s disappearance and death. A task force including state police, the Bloomington and Peru police departments, LaSalle County Sheriff’s Office, and the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit continue to investigate Day’s death.
  2. New cases of COVID-19 jumped by nearly 50% in Illinois over the past week and have climbed nearly 150% since last month, according to figures released by health officials today. Coronavirus positivity rates and hospitalizations have also more than doubled over the past month during the fifth surge of the pandemic.
  3. A Crest Hill couple pleaded guilty today to their roles in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol breach, admitting they spent about an hour in the building after entering through a broken window. John and Amy Schubert each pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.
  4. Two people were shot and wounded on the Dan Ryan Expressway early this morning. It was the 233rd shooting on Chicago-area expressways this year.
  5. Gas-powered portable generators emit deadly carbon monoxide and have been blamed for more than 1,000 deaths since 2005, as previously reported by the Sun-Times in 2019. Citing that report, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush is pushing to mandate safety standards for those types of generators.
  6. In a conversation with our Fran Spielman, retiring Illinois House Majority Leader Greg Harris today reflected on his crowning achievement — leading the crusade to legalize gay marriage in Illinois. Harris, 66, also talked about the significant changes in his own daily life as someone who is HIV-positive.
  7. In a two-page letter to constituents, Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson said he perceives racism in an effort to redraw the boundaries of his 11th ward to give it an Asian American majority. The letter came after a city committee unveiled a ward remap plan that would turn the Daley family’s Bridgeport-based fiefdom into the city’s historic first Asian American-majority ward.
  8. Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul today touted the efforts of a so-called retail theft task force that covered well over $1 million in stolen goods from about four semitrailers this week. The items recovered were a mix of electronics, high-end food items, hair extensions, jewelry and clothing from a variety of major national retailers, Raoul said.
  9. Performing under the moniker She & Him, actress Zooey Deschanel and singer-songwriter M. Ward will bring their holiday-themed tour to town with a stint at the Chicago Theatre on Tuesday. The tour marks the 10-year anniversary of their album “A Very She & Him Christmas.”

A bright one

Thomas Melvin pays homage to Louis Sullivan with Fulton Market murals

Chicago muralist Thomas Melvin is paying homage to pioneering Chicago architect Louis Sullivan in two murals he created for a development in Fulton Market.

Sullivan is renowned for his work during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, designing buildings including the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Ida B. Wells Dr., and the former Carson Pirie Scott department store building at 9 E. Madison St., now known as the Sullivan Center.

In one of Melvin’s two untitled murals, at 205 N. Peoria St. next to the Fulton East building, he offers a glimpse of the Chicago skyline through an eye-shaped lens. Melvin says that was inspired by the Sullivan Center and that the aim was to give the effect of seeing the city through the renowned architect’s eyes.

Thomas Melvin says he aimed with his mural at 205 N. Peoria St. to let people see the city, in effect, through famed architect Louis Sullivan’s eyes.
Amelia Ickes/Sun-Times

Melvin, 69, who lives in Albany Park, did another new mural nearby. It features larger-than-life ivy vines that appear to be crawling up the west side of the building at 220 N. Green St.

The artist got his start as a sign painter. He says he draws inspiration from early American folk art and the painted scenic backdrops that often were used in early photography.

Melvin takes some of his technique from what he learned from Richard Haas, a muralist who specializes in the trompe-l’oeil style that aims to “deceive the eye” by making an object appear in three dimensions.

Amelia Ickes has more on Melvin and the murals here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

What was the best album of 2021?

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: Who does the holidays better — New York City or Chicago?

Here’s what some of you said…

“Chicago hands down! The ice rink at Millennium Park, Maggie Daily Ribbon, Navy Pier and Michigan Avenue is so much better than NY. The rink at Rockefeller Square is so small! I was so disappointed and it cost $25. Whereas the Millennium Park rink only costs to rent skates and it’s so much larger!” — Barbara Crowley

“Because of the bigger streets, Chicago does. But Chicago learned from New York.” — Robin Hickman

“Chicago for Christmas and New York City for New Year’s Eve.” — Loli Mauriz

“NYC — if even just for the vastly superior retail AND people watching. Like people walking designer dogs in fur jumpsuits. Or watching the people going in and out of St Patrick’s Cathedral and other Churches on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day. And Chinese restaurants are the place to see and be seen!” — Mike Listwan

“Chicago, because it’s less crowded and there’s more free stuff to do. NYC charges when you breathe.” — Daisy Flores

“That’s a tough call New York is beautiful at Christmas but there’s little to do there. Chicago is beautiful too and there’s plenty to do here, so the advantage, I give to Chicago.” — Byron Benguche

“There is nothing like shopping Michigan Ave., the Christmas Train, and the Christkindlmarket.” — Joe Medearis

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

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