Afternoon Edition: March 17, 2022

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

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Police officers manage traffic as drivers wait in line for free gas — which was donated by businessman Dr. Willie Wilson — at a BP in Albany Park this morning.

Pat Nabong/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 partly sunny with a high near 67 degrees. Tonight will be mostly cloudy with a low around 40 degrees and a slight chance of rain. Tomorrow will be rainy and breezy with a high near 39.

Top story

Gas giveaway during morning commute causes blocks-long traffic jams

The gas station shimmered up ahead, like an oasis for the woman’s thirsty vehicle — a tantalizing half-dozen car lengths away.

She’d been waiting for 2 1/2 hours this morning to get some of mayoral candidate Willie Wilson’s free gasoline, from a BP station at Pulaski Road and Montrose Avenue. But then a Chicago police officer directing traffic told her she was in the wrong lane. He wouldn’t let her cut in.

“F—k!” shrieked the woman, repeating the expletive over and over.

The woman’s futile shouts were soon lost in the cacophony of car horns heard up and down a line of cars that stretched as far as the eye could see south of Pulaski along Elston.

It perhaps wasn’t surprising, given the skyrocketing price of gas.

“Relax!” barked a police officer at a man who was a little too eager to fill up his tank.

Wilson said he was donating $200,000 worth of gas in $50 increments to anyone who claimed a spot in line at 10 participating stations across the city. The giveaway started at 7 a.m. and was expected to end when all the money was spent. There were cursing drivers, occasional fender-benders and — at the Pulaski and Montrose location — at least a half-dozen patrol cars directing traffic.

“This helps a few people and hurts a lot,” grumbled another driver who was stuck in traffic, but was not waiting for free gas.

And, of course, there were plenty of grateful drivers.

“A lot of people are struggling,” said a woman, identifying herself only as Kathy. “So for something like this to be available, and for someone to do such a wonderful thing, it’s very, very nice.”

David Struett and Stefano Esposito have more from the giveaway here.

More news you need

  1. Political operative Roberto Caldero insisted on telling a federal judge today that “at no time in the past or in the future would I be wearing a wire” after his lawyer confirmed Caldero intends to plead guilty in a corruption case involving ex-Ald. Danny Solis. Jon Seidel has the latest on the case here.
  2. Another guilty former Chicago City Council member is expected to learn his fate today when he is sentenced by a federal judge on corruption charges. Ricardo Munoz pleaded guilty in September to wire fraud and money laundering, admitting he took nearly $38,000 from the Chicago Progressive Reform Caucus to pay for personal expenses.
  3. Mayor Lori Lightfoot is a “phony reformer” whose actions in office contradict her promise to “bring in the light,” Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez said today. Sancho-Lopez is furious at the Lightfoot administration for granting a tavern license to the Giant Penny Whistle, defying a moratorium on such licenses along a three-block stretch had been in place for 20 years.
  4. Family, friends, colleagues and fans are mourning the loss of television journalist Merri Dee, who died this week at age 85. Dee was a trailblazing broadcaster who won the hearts of Chicagoans and lived a life of philanthropy, advocacy and survival.
  5. Members of the electricians union called a strike last night at WTTW-Channel 11, saying the public television station has proposed harmful changes in work jurisdictions and job protections. Local 1220 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers said it represents nearly two dozen employees who work as technicians, graphic artists and floor crew members at WTTW.
  6. A new music festival announced today boasts for its headliners Phil Lesh & Friends, Khruangbin, The War on Drugs, Black Pumas and more. Called Sacred Rose, the inaugural fest is set to run Aug. 26-28 on three genre-specific stages at Seatgeek Stadium Campus in Bridgeview.

A bright one

‘Downton Abbey’ actress Lesley Nicol cooks up solo stage show, playing at Greenhouse Theater Center

Mrs. Patmore is getting out of the kitchen and stepping onto the stage.

Beloved British actress Lesley Nicol is now serving up herself as the main course in a new production that recently debuted at Chicago’s Greenhouse Theater Center. Called “How The Hell Did I Get Here?” it’s what Nicol describes as an “autobiographical musical.”

It takes audiences on her own journey from her beginnings as a dedicated stage and TV actress to her memorable role as the affable head chef in the cultural phenomenon “Downton Abbey.”


Lesley Nicol attends the National Film Awards 2021 held at Porchester Hall on July 1, 2021 in London, England.

Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

But it does more than that, the actress says.

“It is my story, and we do go over the events of my life, but the whole point of it is for all of us to sit down and have a think about our own way,” Nicol told our Selena Fragassi in between rehearsals for the production, which has a limited run now through April 3.

“I hope seeing it ignites memories in the audience’s mind of stuff that has happened to them. Because we’re all in the same boat. We’ve all asked that question: ‘How the hell did I get here?’”

Fragassi has more from her conversation with Nicol here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

What do you think of Willie Wilson’s gas giveaway effort?

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: Chicago runners/walkers: What’s your favorite route to trek in the city?

Here’s what some of you said…

“Along Broadway to Devon (when Broadway turns into Sheridan. Then along Sheridan, going along the Lakefront until about a mile into Evanston.” — Elliott Avant

“The Lakefront trail!” — Jackie Bennett-Gibson

“The 606 Bloomingdale trail.” — Pascual Madrigal Jr.

“The Museum Campus.” — Can Mer

“In Pilsen down Damen (maybe get a tamal on 21st and Damen) to Harrison park, loop the park and the National Museum of Mexican Art twice for good luck and down 18th.” — Liliana Scales

“Plenty. A stroll through Lincoln Park is tops because of the options the zoo etc. Wrigleyville and 53rd Street in Hyde Park” — Pic Anderson

“North through Lincoln Park (the actual park) from North Ave. up to Fullerton and back south along the beach and back over the pedestrian bridge.” — Kyle Thele

“I‘m in Avondale, so I like to hit two parks (Horner, Hamlin, Welles, Palmer Square) on any route—I think it gives me a nice balance of neighborhood, traffic/industrial, and green spaces.” — Nicholas Jay

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

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