Afternoon Edition: April 23, 2021

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

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BMO Harris’s Chicago headquarters, 111 W. Monroe St. Its CEO credits PPP loans for a hefty chunk of its “good quarter” the first three months of 2021.

Tyler LaRiviere/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 62 degrees. Tonight there’s a chance for rain, mainly after midnight, with a low around 47. Tomorrow will be cloudy and rainy with a high near 56, while Sunday will be mostly sunny but with a high around 51.

Top story

Payroll Protection Plan paid off for Illinois banks; see which of them got the most money

Illinois banks issued 239,000 loans under the federal Paycheck Protection Program worth $29 billion to businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic — and collected at least $1.5 billion in fees ultimately paid by taxpayers, our analysis finds.

Chicago-based BMO Harris Bank got the most money in fees: at least $232 million for handling 34,000 loans that totaled $6 billion that the banking company’s top executive has said contributed heavily to “a good” first quarter of 2021.

BMO Harris’s PPP loans ranged from just $133 to the maximum amount allowed under the program — $10 million.

The 360 banks with headquarters in Illinois made loans through the program to businesses in all 50 states and four U.S. territories.

Illinois ranked 10th among states for total fees and seventh for dollars provided in the loans, which did not need to be repaid as long as businesses spent all of the money to keep employees on the payroll and pay rent and utilities.

Seven of the top 10 banks are owned by publicly traded companies.

That’s all based on our analysis of federal Small Business Administration data that also showed Illinois banks’ average fee of 5.29% ranked in the bottom 10 nationwide on a list topped by New Jersey, where bank fees averaged 11.6%.

Read Lauren FitzPatrick and Stephanie Zimmermann’s full story here.

More news you need

  1. Charlie Beck, CPD’s former interim superintendent, and David Brown, the man currently filling the job, tried to patch things over today after Brown criticized his predecessor’s strategies and dedication to police reform. Beck told our Fran Spielman that he called Brown to “clarify some things” and try to clear the air, although Brown did not apologize for his comments.
  2. Chicago’s average regional COVID-19 positivity rate dipped to 5.1% today while state officials reported a third straight day of decreasing hospitalizations. The numbers ease concerns, for now, about a third statewide spike in coronavirus cases.
  3. Loyola is joining DePaul and Columbia College in requiring students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before they’re allowed to return to in-person classes this fall. A recent survey from the university indicated 94% of Loyola faculty and staff have been vaccinated or plan to be, the school said.
  4. A Chicago Ridge bar has been linked to two separate federal criminal investigations in the last three years. Read Tim Novak’s full story on how the establishment, which now goes by DaVinci’s Gaming Bar, got caught up in a pair of federal cases.
  5. In Kankakee County’s Pembroke Township, race, poverty, farming and a proposed natural gas pipeline have converged as involved parties debate the project. Brett Chase has the full story as mayor Mark Hodge pushes the project, which would be built by utility company Nicor.
  6. Gerald A. ‘Jerry’ Ranalli, the gregarious founder of Chicago pizza joints Ranalli’s and other local restaurants, has died at age 83. The original Ranalli’s and its outdoor patio are still operating at 1925 N. Lincoln Ave, four decades after opening.
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A bright one

Artists, volunteers transformed King College Prep’s halls with murals

The hallways and classrooms at Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School in North Kenwood looked a lot different when students returned April 19 for the first time this academic year.

Thanks to the work of a group of artists and about 100 volunteers one day in January, the walls at King College Prep in North Kenwood were now adorned with 15 new murals.

The project was part of an annual service event led by the organization Chi Gives Back, which worked with the group Paint the City to transform the interior of the school at 4445 S. Drexel Blvd.


At Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School, there’s a new mural featuring a jaguar — the school’s mascot — and a person with large, blue hair.


“We really want this project and all projects that we do to reflect the fact that kindness does reside in all of us, no matter what ZIP codes we come from,” says Chi Gives Back co-founder Kouri Marshall said. “We really want students to understand that it’s important to also pay it forward.”

Ahmad Lee, an artist who goes by Reco the Great, was among the artists who contributed to the mural project. He brought in Paint the City, for which he’s a board member.

Paint the City’s goal is to “paint every school in Chicago,” according to co-founders Missy Perkins and Barrett Keithley. They have six more schools lined up for similar projects.

Read Kyle Brown’s full story here and check out our ongoing series on Chicago’s incredible public art.

From the press box

Bears great Steve McMichael, one of the most dynamic players and personalities of the franchise’s golden era, has been diagnosed with ALS. Former teammate Dan Hampton told us today that he’s been visiting McMichael multiple times a month since a doctor’s visit confirmed the diagnosis for Lou Gehrig’s disease in January.

Coby White’s recent improvement with ball security will be tested tomorrow night when the Bulls face the Heat, one of the league’s best defensive teams.

Is watching a left-handed hitter ground out to shallow right field fun? No, it is not. That’s why Rick Morrissey says fans should celebrate MLB eliminating defensive shifts at the Class AA level, and hope something similar happens in the big leagues soon, too.

Your daily question ☕

What’s your favorite part of watching the Oscars each year?

Email us (please include your first name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday for Earth Day, we asked you: What’s the best way to enjoy the outdoors living in Chicago? Here’s what some of you said...

“A bonfire in the yard with friends.” — Shirlee Berman

“Olive Park for migratory birds.” — Rosemary Doyle

“Walk and eat and drink, and walk and eat and drink, and walk and eat and drink...” — David Hottenstine

“Walk along the lakefront and enjoy the beauty of Grant Park.” — Rosalyn A. Ford

“Easy. Leave Chicago. Get far, far away. Then enjoy the clean air, clear skies, and lack of noise pollution.” — Erich V. Dahm

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