Afternoon Edition: July 26, 2021

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

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New Chicago police officers at a graduation ceremony at Navy Pier in 2017.

Getty Images file photo

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 sunny with a high near 92 degrees. Tonight will be mostly clear with a low around 71. Tomorrow will be mostly sunny with a high near 93.

Top story

FOP board approves eight-year contract, setting stage for rank-and-file vote

The executive board of the Fraternal Order of Police has overwhelmingly approved a new eight-year contract, setting the stage for a ratification vote by rank-and-file Chicago police officers in line for a 20% pay raise, more than half of it retroactive.

FOP President John Catanzara pegged the cost of the retroactive pay raise alone at $600 million. The retroactive pay raise for firefighters and paramedics cost taxpayers $96 million, and “we’re three times their size and we got an extra year,” he noted.

“It’s not because we’re taking ’em to the cleaners. It’s because we waited four years for the money,” Catanzara said today.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, however, continues to play cat-and-mouse about the new contract, refusing even to acknowledge the existence of a tentative agreement the FOP board already has approved by a 14-to-1 vote. The union also has received a signed copy from the city and started mailing out copies for the rank-and-file to ratify.

“I think we will ultimately get there. But we’re gonna do it on a timeline that makes sense for our city, for our taxpayers, for the members” of the City Council, Lightfoot told Kara Swisher on the New York Times’ “Sway” podcast, which was posted online this morning.

“We need to make sure that the dollars that they propose make sense. We’ve obviously got to think about what are the revenue sources for that. And we’re fly-specking all of the reform measures that we’ve advocated for to make sure that we’ve gotten everything that I know that we need to be able to move forward. We’re doing our diligence.”

Fran Spielman’s got the latest on the FOP contract.

More news you need

  1. Will Lightfoot run for a second term as mayor? She says “it’s not a gimme.” Spielman has more on Lightfoot’s comments about her political future.
  2. The straw purchaser of a gun later linked to a December 2019 mass shooting has been handed an eight-month prison sentence by a federal judge. Feds call the sentencing a “case study” in targeting the problem of straw purchases.
  3. The proposed $30 billion merger of business insurers Aon and Willis Towers Watson won’t go through after both sides walked away amid pressure from antitrust regulators. The deal would’ve raised questions about the name of Chicago’s tallest building, which will remain Willis Tower.
  4. Mayor Lightfoot also said during her podcast appearance she won’t hesitate to return to a mask mandate if Chicago’s daily rate of coronavirus cases is “consistently going over” 200. The city’s daily case rate is currently 130 — days before the start of Lollapalooza.
  5. Streets are beginning to shut down for the week as Lollapalooza takes over the area around Grant Park. Get the details on which streets are closing and when they’ll be off limits for vehicles.
  6. Showtime, which airs popular series “The Chi,” says it donated $500,000 to the city’s Greencorps Chicago green job training program and the Chicago Public Art Group. Mayor Lightfoot, executives from the network and stars from the show announced the grant funding today.
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A bright one

West Garfield Park’s new outdoor roller rink draws steady crowd on opening day

Ten-year-old Susanna Aderotimi had been roller skating only once before last Friday.

But after a few laps around a new outdoor rink in West Garfield Park, she already was planning a return visit.

“I like that you get to move around,” said Susanna, who attended the rink’s opening day with a group of Chicago Park District day campers. “It’s like exercising.”

The rink, at 4008 W. Madison St., is only a temporary structure, built on one of many empty lots along the neighborhood’s main commercial corridor.


Kids skate at opening day for the community plaza and outdoor roller rink at Madison Street and Pulaski Road in the West Garfield Park neighborhood on Friday.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Along with the rink, there’s a community plaza — a project that some residents hope is the start of rebuilding the West Side.

The main attraction is the outdoor roller rink, where attendees can borrow skates at no cost if they don’t bring their own.

Besides dozens of day campers, there also were some Chicago police officers taking spins around the rink.

Reporter Cheyanne M. Daniels has more on this popular new attraction.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

The National Sports Collectors Convention is in town this week. Do you collect anything? What and why?

Reply to this email (please include your first name and where you live) and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

On Friday, we asked you: With COVID-19 cases on the rise, how do you feel about the city hosting Lollapalooza next week? Here’s what some of you said...

“Let it happen. Can’t keep rolling back the clock everytime cases spike up a bit. People have the choice to be vaccinated, if they do then great, if not it’s their own risk.” — Justin Griletz

“I have mixed feelings about it because the COVID-19 cases are slowly rising in Chicago’; however, I got to applaud their efforts in trying to put the proper protocols in place to keep everyone safe during the event.” — Charlotte Yolanda

“Since you have to be vaccinated to go or be tested multiple times which is a pain I’m totally fine with it. Let the unvaccinated stay home this time.” — Missy Porter Badynee

“It should not be happening. We will see numbers rise tremendously. It’s so unnecessary just because the city wants to make money. People’s health is so much more important vaccinated or not.” — Sheri A. Mendez

“I think we are crazy if we don’t cancel. Do we all want to be stuck in our houses again? Do we want our health care workers at risk again.” — Linda Chariton Goodall

“What many forget is that you can be a carrier of the virus and the new variants regardless of vaccine status. Hosting Lollapalooza is irresponsible, especially considering the latest travel orders that have developed in the last couple of weeks.” — Amber Nicole Alvarado

“The Democrats are never gonna let this go away. There will continue to be more variants forever. Best for anyone concerned to get vaccinated and wear masks. Anyone who is not concerned should be able to do whatever they choose. Enough of this tyrannical nonsense.” — Ken Gaspar

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