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Afternoon Edition: Aug. 26, 2021

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

A life guard tower at Oak Street Beach, Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021.
A lifeguard tower at Oak Street Beach earlier this month.
Anthony Vazquez/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 sunny with a high near 88 degrees and scattered showers and thunderstorms. Tonight is expected to be mostly cloudy with a low around 74 and a 40% chance of thunderstorms. Tomorrow will be partly sunny with a high near 90, heat index values as high as 98 and a 40% chance of thunderstorms.

Top story

Chicago Park District deputy inspector general says he’s been fired

The Chicago Park District’s deputy inspector general said he’s been fired in what he calls a “concerted effort” to prevent him from “continuing to investigate criminal activity and employee misconduct that seemingly pervade” the district’s Beaches & Pools Unit.

Nathan Kipp was summarily fired one week after being placed on “indefinite emergency unpaid suspension” in what he called an illegal attempt to “whitewash” an investigation into sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexual abuse among the district’s lifeguards.

The firing came without warning — and without the hearing required by Park District human resources policies. He also was not interviewed by his boss, Park District Inspector General Elaine Little, ignoring what he calls best practice for any inspector general investigation, especially one that culminates in employee termination.

Little’s termination letter to Kipp was dated Aug. 19, which Kipp says is “not a coincidence.” That’s the same date that he went public, taking the unusual step of blasting out his concerns about the motive behind his “emergency suspension” and the chilling effect it would have on the ongoing investigation into “dozens of complaints of sexual assault, sexual harassment and physical abuse” of lifeguards.

Until he was escorted out of Park District headquarters last week, Kipp had led the internal investigation of lifeguards at Chicago’s pools and lakefront beaches that has implicated Park District Supt. Mike Kelly in an alleged cover-up.

One of two investigators assigned to the probe, Kipp had spent a year as acting inspector general. He was a candidate for the job that went to Little, ex-wife of state Rep. Curtis Tarver (D-Chicago).

Today, Kipp renewed his call for Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx to “intervene and assume all control” over the inspector general’s investigation.

Lauren FitzPatrick and Fran Spielman have more on the turmoil within the district here.

More news you need

  1. Gov. Pritzker today reimplemented a statewide indoor mask mandate and also announced a vaccine mandate for all K-12 and higher education employees. Both are attempts to curtail a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” the governor said.
  2. Two men were killed and another was injured in a shooting at the Kankakee County Courthouse this morning, according to authorities. Two people were arrested after the attack at the south side entrance of the courthouse near the detention center, police said.
  3. Mayor Lightfoot and local Jewish groups slammed FOP President John Catanzara after he made comments comparing the mayor’s vaccine mandate for city employees to the Holocaust. The American Jewish Committee called Catanzara’s comments “an insult ... to the memory of the millions of lives lost during one of the darkest periods in human history.”
  4. City planners signed off today on development that would bring to downtown four new high-rises, including a two-tower proposal at 525 S. Wabash Avenue. Business reporter David Roeder has more on the four projects, which represent a combined $700 million investment.
  5. For the third time since March, the federal government is planning to clear loan debt for thousands of students who attended ITT Technical Institute. With campuses in Arlington Heights, Oak Brook, Orland Park and Springfield, the for-profit chain closed in 2016 after a series of sanctions by the Obama administration.
  6. The annual Ebertfest film festival slated for next month in Champaign has been postponed to 2022 due to the surge in COVID-19 across the state. The announcement was made via YouTube by festival founder/organizer Chaz Ebert, the widow of former Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert.
  7. “Check, Please!” the popular WTTW-Channel 11 series, has ended its 20-year run. The series was known for providing a platform for thousands of Chicagoans who critiqued the city’s restaurants.

A bright one

800 murals and mosaics cataloged, many more to go

Murals and mosaics are seemingly everywhere in the Chicago area thanks to a public art explosion over the last few years that’s transformed exteriors of businesses, viaducts, retaining walls, garages, train stations, schools, apartment buildings, and even some houses and high-rises into canvasses of color and meaning.

For the last two years, we’ve embarked on a project to capture, catalog and celebrate public art in the city and suburbs as part of our “Murals & Mosaics” series.

The project has taken us all across the city to meet the prolific creators of this ubiquitous art form.

As part of the project, we created an interactive map with a selection of murals and mosaics in the region — a map that we regularly add to as our coverage continues to grow.

Each point on the map is clickable, with a photo, description and sometimes a link to a story about the mural. You can zoom in to focus on a particular neighborhood or suburb.

Exploring the map, you’ll find the stories behind public art that memorializes icons like Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton, depicts neighborhood history like one Back of the Yards work, touts culture and heritage like one Aztec god-featuring piece in Pilsen, and much more.

With our recent feature on a local artist’s mural in Humboldt Park last week, we reached our 800th addition to the “Mural & Mosaics” map, a milestone we’re looking forward to building off, as the city offers no shortage of art to cover.

You can also purchase a magazine we’ve made the features photographs and coverage of some of our favorite pieces in the city and suburbs.

Find all of our murals and mosaics coverage here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

It’s National Dog Day, so we want to know, how did you meet your furry friend?

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 do most non-Chicagoans get wrong about our city? Here’s what some of you said...

“The South Side is a giant ghetto with nothing but rampant crime and poverty. I’ve been a truck driver for almost 30 years and you wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve had to correct this notion over the years.” — Allen McLaurin

“They think “Windy City” is because of the wind off the lake, but instead it’s because of the politics.” — Matt Gorecki

“That Chicago doesn’t have the best travel system. You can take any form of transportation at any time. Now you may not want to, but transportation is always available.” — Lynn Nelson-Betts

“I think a lot of people who are not from or have never lived in Chicago believe that the city is too dangerous to visit. In reality, it’s one of the most beautiful and friendly cities I’ve ever lived in. Most Chicagoans are Midwest-practical despite living in a city, and are usually all too happy to help tourists and out-of-towners find their way around. Also, I think Chicago is still a bright light for labor organizing, which is struggling throughout much of the Midwest.” — Korinda Walls

“That everyone’s a Cubs fan and nobody puts ketchup on hot dogs.” — Kathy Celer

“That Chicago isn’t a city of neighborhoods. Many neighborhoods feel like friendly small towns (block parties, garden clubs, farmers markets, street fairs, garage sales, etc.), full of nice, helpful people.” — Julia Maish

“They often do not realize that Chicago is a city that has always been multi-ethnic and was — and still is — a final destination of immigrants from all over the world.” — Dave Ritz

“I hate hearing how “deep dish” is the official pizza of Chicago, when all of us know it’s the local pizza joints with that have that great pub-style square cut — the real stuff.” — Dennis Kollpainter

“I don't know if most non-Chicagoans realize how gorgeous and accessible our lakefront is. It’s almost better than oceanfront beaches, the water is fresh and clean.” — Laura O’Donnell

“That we actually say Chi-town when we’re talking about Chicago.” — Vinny Sinnott

“That downtown is the only fun place in the city.” — Karina García Carrizal

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

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