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.
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.
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After two years as the face and architect of the state’s COVID-19 response, Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike today offered the surprise announcement that she will step down later this month.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker declared it “Dr. Ngozi Ezike Day” during a news conference at Rush University Medical Center. Ezike’s resignation will take effect March 14, the governor said.
Ezike, the first Black woman to lead the state’s top health agency, stood beside Pritzker for more than 160 coronavirus updates, most of them during the early days of the crisis when residents were ordered to stay indoors — one of the COVID-19 mitigation strategies Pritzker implemented at Ezike’s recommendation.
“No number of sleepless nights and endless days could wear her down, or her commitment to think first and foremost of Illinois’ most vulnerable [residents],” Pritzker said.
“I ran for office, she did not. But throughout the crisis, she has stood beside me every step of the way. I am not putting it lightly when I say that she has had one of the hardest jobs in the world.”
Pritzker said Ezike “will go down in the Illinois history books as a woman who changed our state for the better. She saved lives, many, many thousands of lives.”
A tearful Ezike called it “an honor to be able to share these updates, share information help create policy.”
Ezike, who has degrees from Harvard and the University of California, was hired in 2019.
More news you need
- Black people in Chicago were far more likely than white people to be stopped by Chicago police officers and to be subjected to use of force between 2017 and 2020, the city’s inspector general’s office said today. “The disparity cannot be explained entirely by different patterns of officer behavior in the districts that CPD defines as ‘high-crime’ districts,” the IG’s report says.
- Former U.S. Education Secretary and CPS CEO Arne Duncan today announced that he has decided not to run for mayor against the incumbent, Mayor Lori Lightfoot. In an interview with our reporters, Duncan refused to say whom he would support in the mayoral election that’s now just one year away.
- Jane Iriondo, who worked for years as a teller and secretary for the now-defunct Bridgeport bank central to ex-Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson’s trial, admitted today that she helped falsify documents there, even suggesting it be done “with scissors and copier.” She is now the fourth person to plead guilty in connection with the $66 million embezzlement scheme at Washington Federal Bank for Savings.
- Crime in Chicago has continued to rise the first two months of the year, with steep spikes in burglaries, thefts and stolen motor vehicles, according to the latest police data. At least 88 people have been murdered in Chicago this year, up from 85 at the same time last year, our Andy Boyle reports.
- When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold across the United States in March 2020, Burr Ridge’s Dennis W. Haggerty Jr. and his business partners started a company to sell highly coveted personal protective equipment like face masks. Two years later, Haggerty found himself standing in front of a judge, admitting he took millions in payments from hospitals and, instead of providing face masks, spent it on Maseratis and other personal expenses.
A bright one
With a box full of paczki in his hands and hope in his heart, Daniel Dabros walked out of a Polish deli on the Northwest Side this morning.
A Fat Tuesday love affair with the Polish pastry is a long tradition for Chicagoans — Polish or not — but Dabros, 25, was extra rosy about the batch he was carrying.
“This year actually I’m going on a first date today with a half Polish and half Italian girl and she really wanted me to get her something from an authentic Polish bakery. So I got her six different types of paczki. I think she’s going to be really happy,” Danbros said as he exited Forest View Bakery on Milwaukee Avenue just north of Devon Avenue.
“She’s a fifth grade teacher and I’m a nurse working the night shift so it’s been hard to get together,” said Dabros, who grew up in Chicago and Niles, the son of parents who were born in Poland.
Chester Pilat, owner of the bakery, will surely be rooting for a love connection.
He stayed up all night baking 8,000 paczki and served nearly 300 customers by 9 a.m.
“We celebrated our 30th year in business in December,” he said.
From the press box
- The Blackhawks officially gave Kyle Davidson the general manager job today, cementing his spot in the role he’d been filling on an interim basis since October. Davidson, 33, is now the youngest GM in the NHL.
- Ahead of what’s supposed to be a huge season for the White Sox, the MLB lockout looms as a potential buzzkill, Daryl Van Schouwen writes.
- Rick Telander minces no words on the lockout: Baseball just can’t seem to get out of its own way as a protracted labor dispute and other issues threaten to send the sport the way of the dinosaurs.
- Like his predecessor, new Bears general manager Ryan Poles refused to detail the health status of Tarik Cohen at the NFL Scouting Combine today, Patrick Finley reports.
Your daily question ☕
How would you describe what paczki tastes like to someone who’s never had one?
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: Baseball fans: How does the ongoing MLB lockout impact your excitement for the upcoming season?
Here’s what some of you said…
“Fifty years as a loyal baseball fan and I’m thinking this may be it. I hate saying it, but I can feel my passion for the game slipping away.” — Fred Braun
“The MLB owners are terrible and have shown no flexibility or desire to meet the players. For a sport that needs players to exist, it’s terrible they show no desire to meet them even a quarter of the way. The owners and Rob Manfred are ruining baseball. Don’t look at it any other way.” — Eric Oliver
“This is getting old. They need move on and get on to spring training!” — Chris Alt
“I could see it coming after they cobbled together the last patchwork of a contract to play during the plague. As a fan, I am more concerned that greed will destroy the game altogether. It is unsustainable.” — Douglas Black
“It costs too much for a family to go to a game now. And if both sides want more money? Guess who will have to pay for that. The working class supporting the millionaires. I love baseball but the cost is just too high.” — Gayle Davis-Bruno
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