Afternoon Edition: Jan. 21, 2022

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

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Former House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Ashlee Rezin/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 sunny with a high near 24 degrees. Tonight will be mostly clear with a low around 17 degrees and a 20% chance of snow. Tomorrow will be mostly cloudy with a high near 29 degrees, a 40% chance of snow and wind gusts as high as 30 mph.

Top story

Projects with Madigan ties went to the front of the line for massive Rebuild Illinois initiative

For the better part of the past decade, hotel owners Jon Weglarz and Mark Weglarz fought to put a damper on the noise caused by screeching train brakes outside their Midway Airport-area properties.

Now, it appears they’ve finally succeeded — with the intervention of the Weglarz brothers’ longtime property tax lawyer, then-House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, who delivered $98 million in taxpayer money for what undoubtedly would be one of the most expensive brake jobs in history.

The Madigan-sponsored project was among nearly $4 billion in pet projects that a handful of officials inserted into the state’s largest-ever capital projects bill in 2019. Dubbed Rebuild Illinois, the package was touted as a way to advance Illinois into the 21st century, with $45 billion in infrastructure improvements, including roads, bridges and public works projects.

Through a process largely shrouded in secrecy, certain projects got pushed to the top of that list without the normal scrutiny the state gives massive public works initiatives. And, until his ouster last year amid a federal corruption investigation, Madigan played a key role in the allocation of funds for these projects, which were labeled “leadership additions.”

Records show at least $144 million went to four projects backed by Madigan that avoided the usual review process and benefited people the former speaker has ties to.

Madigan won’t talk about the spending decisions, declining interview requests and not responding to written questions.

The Better Government Association’s Chuck Neubauer and Sandy Bergo have more on these “leadership additions” here.

More news you need

  1. A Rolling Meadows-based operator of some 300 “pop-up” COVID testing sites across the U.S. will shut down amid a flurry of complaints from customers and scrutiny from authorities in multiple states. The Center for COVID Control has voluntarily suspended operations, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul announced yesterday.
  2. A passerby administered CPR to a retired Chicago police officer after he was struck by a hit-and-run driver in Edison Park on the Northwest Side yesterday evening. But the 57-year-old officer, Richard Haljean, was pronounced dead after he was taken by ambulance to Resurrection Hospital, according to police.
  3. In an apparent attempt to salvage her troubled nomination, COPA head Andrea Kersten publicly apologized again today for recommending slain Chicago Police Officer Ella French be suspended. In remarks to a City Council committee, Kersten stressed the recommendation that French be suspended for failing to activate her body-worn camera when she showed up to a botched home raid in 2019 was “not posthumous.”
  4. Residents from three Chatham buildings are banding together to seek a meeting with their landlord after months of threats and worsening conditions. About a dozen residents demanded answers yesterday from BSD Realty Group, standing outside the management company’s office — but officials did not come out to speak to them.
  5. A new city inspector general’s report has reignited a debate over the Lightfoot administration’s decision to issue a tavern license in Pilsen for a location where a liquor moratorium prohibits such establishments. Our Mark Brown has more on the controversial The Giant Penny Whistle here.
  6. Just four months after announcing a reunion tour celebrating the 25th anniversary of the release of their album “The Score,” the Fugees today announced the cancelation of the entire tour. The 12-city trek was initially set to kick off at the United Center last November but was soon postponed to 2022, moving the now-canceled Chicago date to March.

A bright one

South Side chef’s recipes featured in global cookbook

In 1986, Josephine Wade opened Captain’s Hard Times in Chatham, a restaurant she would later rename Josephine’s Southern Cooking.

Over the years, Wade amassed a huge following, with celebrities like Aretha Franklin showing up for her soul food. She became a staple on Chicago’s South Side and was seen with community leaders like Rev. Jesse Jackson and former Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and part of 79th Street, near her restaurant, now has an official, if honorary, designation: “Mother Josephine Wade Way.”

Yesterday, she was honored again, this time by having two of her recipes featured in the “Savor Our World” cookbook. The cookbook, with recipes from chefs around the world, will be used by Savor, the company handling food operations at McCormick Place.

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Josephine “Mother” Wade, owner of Josephine’s Southern Cooking in the Chatham neighborhood, will have two recipes featured in a cookbook highlighting chefs from around the world.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

In compiling the book, Savor looked for the “best chefs, the ones that are really doing great food in their areas,” said Doug Bradley, the company’s vice president of culinary.

Wade’s recipes in the cookbook are for shrimp etouffee and hush puppies. Bradley said company employees spent two days in the kitchen to figure out how to replicate those recipes.

She said she hopes the cookbook and her story will be an inspiration for other young women cooking in their mothers’ kitchens.

You can try her creations at Josephine’s Southern Cooking, 436 E. 79th St., open Tuesday through Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Cheyanne M. Daniels has more on Wade and her legacy here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

What’s your best tip for Chicago transplants weathering their first winter here?

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 a skill you hope to learn this year?

Here’s what some of you said…

“Sign language with my 3-year-old son who was recently diagnosed with Autism. He is currently non-verbal, so we use pictures and gestures to communicate.” — Saraha Alexander

“Brush up on Taekwondo and Heavy Hand Training from my youth.” — Robert Lisowski

“I need to learn how to say ‘no’ to others.” — Valerie Kelly

“Getting reasonably fluent in French. Also, learning how to sail.” — Mary Jane Tala

“Calligraphy — I took it in high school. Making gifts baskets for friends — unique ones. Print my own Christmas wrap. Maybe learn the art of candle making.” — Kathy O’Brien

“The stamina to win a stein-holding competition and refurbishing furniture.” — Mary DeMar

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

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