Afternoon Edition: April 27, 2021

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

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs the health care reform bill into law Tuesday.

Andrew Sullender/Chicago 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 sunny with a high near 85 degrees. There’s a chance for thunderstorms tonight as temperatures cool to a low around 54 degrees. Tomorrow, rain showers are likely and the high will be near 63 degrees.

Top story

Pritzker signs bill to heal real health care problems facing Black and Brown residents — but GOP say it’s based on ‘fantasy money’

Gov. J.B. Pritzker today signed into law a sweeping health care reform bill that he and the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus hope will remove the “inequities and obstacles” that often keep Black and Brown communities from receiving the medical care to which they are entitled.

“Health care is a right, not a privilege, but for too long, too many Illinoisans have been denied that right, whether through healthcare deserts, inexcusable delays in Medicaid applications, through lack of access through high premiums, through doctors untrained to recognize symptoms on black skin,” Pritzker said before signing the bill.

“The Illinois Health Care and Health Services Reform Act takes sweeping action to address those inequities and obstacles.”

But a spokeswoman for House Republicans said the new law will cost the state “billions of dollars of fantasy money” Illinois just doesn’t have.

Pritzker signed the bill at Memorial Center for Learning and Innovation in Springfield. He was joined by bill sponsors state Sen. Mattie Hunter, D-Chicago, and state Rep. Camille Lilly, D-Chicago, as well as Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, state Senate President Don Harmon and House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, who said the bill will “chart the path forward for a more equitable health system for Illinois residents.”

Stratton said the legislation will “give our babies and children a fighting chance from Day One to have healthier outcomes than those who came before them.”

The bill, which passed the House and Senate in March, was the health care pillar of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ agenda.

Read Rachel Hinton’s full story on the Illinois Health Care and Health Services Reform Act, which Pritzker signed into law today amid GOP criticism.

More news you need

  1. State Sen. Thomas Cullerton is set to go to trial on federal embezzlement charges early in 2022. There are at least three local public corruption cases set to go to trial in the next 10 months as judges move to catch up.
  2. Martin “Marty” Ozinga III, the chair of his family’s ready-mix concrete company who once ran for Congress, died suddenly at his home Monday morning, his son said in a statement. Ozinga, 71, was a concrete magnate who helped lead the expansion of the family business in and around Chicago and Northwest Indiana.
  3. On the same day the CDC announced fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks outdoors unless in big crowds of strangers, Chicago officials said they have to get “creative” to convince residents still on the fence to take the shots. The city now has enough vaccines and “needs Chicagoans to make that decision to take it,” Dr. Allison Arwady said today.
  4. Rep. Robin Kelly, in her first major personnel move as the new Democratic Party of Illinois chair, has hired Abby Witt to be the party’s next executive director. Kelly highlighted Witt’s experience in working with Democratic elected officials, candidates, donors, stakeholders and grassroots activists in announcing the hire.
  5. Five Chicago schools made the top 100 of U.S. News & World Report’s annual high school rankings. Walter Payton College Prep, the city’s highest-ranked school, came in fourth in the national rankings.
  6. The Michelin Guide handed out Bib Gourmand honors to 58 Chicago restaurants today, including 10 new additions to the list. Bucktown’s Soulé, River North’s Ciccio Mio and West Town’s Vajra are among the restaurants to fall just short of receiving the coveted Michelin Stars, which will be awarded in two days.
  7. Forced to close when the pandemic halted all travel, one of Chicago’s largest convention hotels decided to stay connected with the local community by using its massive windows as an art canvas. Our Maudlyne Ihejirika looks at how the Sheraton Grand Chicago used a low-tech approach to remind the city it’s still around.
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A bright one

With graduations virtual, Chicago college students dream of in-person, multi-school ceremony at Soldier Field

With only weeks before Chicago colleges face yet another graduation period during the pandemic, many schools have again made plans for virtual ceremonies this spring.

That’s led some students to take matters into their own hands.

Three Columbia College Chicago students have launched a campaign called #CommenceAnyways to hold an in-person ceremony at Soldier Field — which would not involve campus administration in any way.

“I’ve learned and grown so much during my time being a college student, and it’s really this moment to be celebrated,” said organizer Nathan Branch.

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Alice Scharf (from left), Nathan Branch and Jahmelah Miller are the organizers of the #Commenceanyways, citywide graduation event for college students.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Branch, along with classmates Jahmelah Miller and Alice Scharf, started the initiative as an event for CCC students, but have since opened up their Eventbrite ticket page for all Chicago-area graduating students.

According to the organizers, this would be the first in-person citywide graduation event in Chicago for college students, although last year, the city hosted a citywide virtual graduation for high school seniors.

“We set out to be the change we wanted to see,” Miller said. “After a few weeks of getting feedback we decided not only Columbia students deserved this effort but all college students. We have all worked so hard and deserve this moment.”

Read Zac Clingenpeel’s full story on students’ efforts to organize the event, which Soldier Field says it’s open to hosting.

From the press box

Roquan Smith is now under contract with the Bears through 2022 after the team exercised his fifth-year option today.

The Red Stars will welcome fans back to SeatGeek Stadium May 22 for their NWSL home opener against Gotham FC. The team will only be selling single-game tickets through July due to the fluidity of the pandemic.

And Bulls big man Daniel Theis gives the team elements of defense and toughness that will be crucial if the team wants to earn the final play-in spot in the Eastern Conference, Joe Cowley writes.

Your daily question☕

If you know someone who’s graduating this spring amid the pandemic, how are you planning to celebrate?

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: What’s your favorite sandwich in Chicago? Tell us why. Here’s what some of you said...

“The steak sandwich at Mr. D’s Shish Kabobs in the Montclare ‘hood. Simple and tasty served up Chicago style with fresh cut fries and How Ya Doin’ to everyone that comes in.” — Walter Brzeski

“Tony’s Italian Beef on South Pulaski Road. Made from scratch delicious.” — Claude Hettinge

“Italian beef from Portillo’s, there is nothing better” — Regina Phalange

“Turkey and Swiss sub from Fontanos in Little Italy. The bread is fresh, they use quality meat the giardiniera peppers are delicious. They know how to make a good sandwich. Home of the Hoagie, makes a good Hoagie!” — Beatrice Siler

“Breaded steak sandwich (with the peppers) from Ricobene’s ... first thing I tried when I lived in Chicago. Second would be the dipped Italian Beef from Portillo’s.” — Meghan Monaghan

“Breaded steak sandwich from Ricobene’s. Grew up with one nearby and I’ve been chasing that dragon ever since.” — Nic Mitchel

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