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 sunny and breezy with a high near 43 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 33 degrees. Tomorrow will be mostly sunny with a high near 43 degrees again.
A former City Hall inspector pleaded guilty to wire fraud today in a case connected to the investigation of Ald. Carrie Austin (34th), admitting he steered nearly $100,000 from the city to a contractor without inspecting its work in a porch replacement program.
Joseph E. Garcia, 38, was accused in a 2019 indictment of submitting bogus documents and falsely claiming to have inspected home-repair projects done for low-income Chicago homeowners, giving City Hall the go-ahead to pay the contractor.
Though the contractor was not named in Garcia’s indictment, our reporters confirmed the case involves Oakk Construction of Summit, company president Alex Nitchoff and construction superintendent John Bodendorfer, who have not been criminally charged.
Nitchoff and Bodendorfer could not immediately be reached for comment.
Oakk is a longtime city contractor that made millions of dollars under City Hall’s Emergency Housing Assistance Program, repairing porches and roofs for low-income homeowners. Under the program, Oakk was supposed to be paid only after the work had been inspected.
Garcia admitted he signed off in February 2014 on porch replacements at six homes even though he hadn’t done the inspections, prompting the city to pay $99,401 to the contractor. Garcia also lied to the FBI in April 2014 when he denied having a personal relationship with Nitchoff and Bodendorfer.
More news you need
- A Chicago man has been arrested and charged in federal court with inciting a riot last August in Chicago, accused of posting videos and messages on Facebook calling for property damage and looting. James Massey, 22, faces up to five years in prison if found guilty.
- Senior citizens can start signing up Thursday for COVID-19 vaccine appointments at the new site opening soon at the United Center. More than 100,000 signup slots will be available for people 65 and older when registration first opens, officials said.
- Chicago bars and restaurants will be allowed to increase indoor capacity to 50% or 50 people total, whichever is lower, under updated regulations announced by Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Establishments previously required to close at 11 p.m. can now keep their doors open until 1 a.m. as well.
- State Sen. Michael Hastings is expected to formally announce his entrance into the Illinois Secretary of State race tomorrow. Hastings, a Democrat who represents Tinley Park, joins a field that also includes Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia and former state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias.
- A 16-year-old boy has been charged in a Lawndale carjacking that ended in the death of an alleged accomplice on the Eisenhower Expressway. A trio of teens allegedly carjacked a woman in Lawndale, then crashed the car on I-290, where one of the boys was struck by multiple cars and killed.
A bright one
The Museum of Science and Industry is back with a BANG! And a POW!
After closing in November when the coronavirus pandemic worsened, the MSI reopens to the public on March 7 with the superhero-themed special exhibit, “Marvel: Universe of Superheroes.”
Ben Saunders, chief curator of “Marvel: Universe of Superheroes,” is a professor at the University of Oregon where he founded the first U.S. undergraduate minor in comic book studies. Saunders says the challenge was to create an exhibit that would satisfy both hardcore comic fans and those who only know the Marvel Universe through its blockbuster films.
“We have intentionally created multiple tracks for multiple audiences,” he says. “The exhibit is built for those who want an immersive 45 minutes, four hours or even the ‘I need to come back another day’ person.”
The exhibit features 300 artifacts spanning Marvel’s 80-year history, beginning with the “Golden Age” of comics in the 1930s and 1940s when Marvel was known as Timely Comics. The company became Atlas Comics in 1951 before rebranding a final time to Marvel Comics in 1961.
From the press box
Before general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy’s media availability this afternoon, Patrick Finley offers up four big questions for Pace everyone wants an answer to.
And while things can always change quickly in the NBA, a market lacking in sellers may compel the Bulls to stand pat at this year’s trade deadline, Joe Cowley writes.
Your daily question ☕
What’s something that’s changed about the world during the pandemic that you hope stays afterwards?
Email us (please include your first name and where you live) and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.
Yesterday, we asked you: Did your CPS student go back to school today for the first time since the pandemic started? How did it go? Here’s what some of you said...
“My daughter went and she LOVED being back in person! She was so excited to be back in the building with her teachers and friends! She is in fourth grade at Edison Park Elementary. Everything was safe, clean, and they followed strict distancing protocols.” — Susie Walsh
“No. I opted for continued remote learning. Not willing to jeopardize or risk my son’s health just to be in a building.” — Rosie McCallister
“My 2nd grader went back today after almost a year. It went great! He was so happy, everyone was! You could feel the good vibes in general. Principal, teachers, staff, they all did such an amazing job. They are taking it seriously and so are the kids. Everything seemed to be organized and carefully planned.” — Andrea Flores
“It went well! The school was so organized, with excellent PPE in place, good preventative controls. Positive engagement and culture! Most importantly, the students were glad to be back.” — Mel Smith
“Nope, my kid will not go back and take that risk. Teachers may have gotten the vaccine but not the kids that are in class and they can still get sick.” — Ray Corleone
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