Afternoon Edition: March 8, 2022

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

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Illinois State Sen. Thomas E. Cullerton walks out of the Dirksen Federal Courthouse after pleading not guilty to federal charges he had been a ghost pay-roller for the Teamsters union, Friday, Aug. 16, 2019. | Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Former state Sen. Thomas Cullerton walks out of the Dirksen Federal Courthouse Friday, Aug. 16, 2019.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times 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 40 degrees. Tonight will be mostly cloudy with a low around 28. Tomorrow will start cloudy then become gradually sunny with a high near 40.

Top story

Former state Sen. Thomas Cullerton pleads guilty to embezzling from Teamsters

Former state Sen. Thomas Cullerton pleaded guilty today to one count of embezzlement, admitting he improperly took more than $240,000 from the Teamsters labor union.

Cullerton could face a prison sentence of more than a year, a prosecutor told U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman during a hearing this morning. Cullerton has also agreed to pay $248,828 in restitution. His sentencing hearing has been set for June 21.

Before he entered his plea, Cullerton told the judge he’s spent the last four or five months doing overnight and morning shift work in a warehouse. He acknowledged he’d previously been employed as an Illinois state senator.

Cullerton’s guilty plea comes amid an eventful few weeks at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse. Federal prosecutors on Feb. 14 secured the conviction of former Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson on charges he cheated on his taxes and lied to regulators. He is a grandson and nephew of Chicago’s two longest-serving mayors. 

Then, last week, a federal grand jury indicted former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, who is charged with a racketeering conspiracy and is due to be arraigned tomorrow.

Cullerton, a member of a family whose political fortunes here date back to just before the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, faced indictment since August 2019. But the Villa Park Democrat held onto his office until last month, resigning just before his attorney revealed his plans to plead guilty. 

Jon Seidel has more on Cullerton’s plea here.

More news you need

  1. A security guard for WGN-TV was shot and killed yesterday afternoon after she left work and stopped for gas in the South Shore neighborhood, according to the television station. Salena Claybourne, 35, was inside her car around 3 p.m. when a black car pulled up and someone inside opened fire, Chicago police said.
  2. A Melrose Park man who didn’t face charges after shooting someone last September because Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office deemed the two people as “mutual combatants” now faces prison time for violating the terms of his probation in a previous federal gun case. Prosecutors said in court today that Kevin Delaney, 31, violated his probation by possessing the firearm used in the shooting last fall, Frank Main reports.
  3. A federal judge today gave 18 months of probation to a Crest Hill couple for their roles in the U.S. Capitol breach on Jan. 6, 2021, and ordered them to perform “hands on” community service. The judge said John and Amy Schubert were “in the thick of it” during the breach, and she questioned the remorse they expressed before learning their sentence.
  4. A group of parent activists said today that it was blindsided by Chicago Public Schools’ announcement to drop the district’s mask mandate — with some calling it racist and criminal. The group, Activate Chicago Parents, criticized CPS and Mayor Lori Lightfoot today for what they said was a total lack of collaboration with parents and the Chicago Teachers Union.
  5. Houston-based budget airline Avelo Airlines announced today that it will introduce nonstop service from Midway Airport to Tweed-New Haven Airport in southern Connecticut. The route will make Chicago the first Midwest destination for Avelo when flights begin May 26.
  6. Pitchfork Music Festival will return to Union Park this summer with a stacked lineup boasting headliners The National, Mitski and The Roots, organizers announced today. Tickets go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. for the festival running July 15-17.

A bright one

In Izze Ortiz’s Hyde Park mural, the people are either plants or a seed

The importance of family is a key theme in a Hyde Park mural titled “Essence of Growth, by Humboldt Park artist Izze Ortiz.

Painted last fall on a Metra underpass on 55th Street near South Lake Park Avenue, the piece is Ortiz’s first solo mural.

The mural shows people, as plants, at different ages. A seed? That’s a baby. A full-grown plant? An adult. There’s an in-between flower child, too.


The mural “Essence of Growth,” was done last fall in Hyde Park by Humboldt Park artist Izze Ortiz.


It’s mostly done in blues and purples — the artist’s favorite colors — with pastel-blue water, essential to life, seen flowing throughout and the oldest figure shown watering the baby seed so it will grow.

“If you look at nature, there’s a lot of symbiotic relationships where the plants are helping each other,” says Ortiz, 26.

“It’s natural to take care of one another. And I thought of it to a larger scale: human beings taking care of each other.”

Alec Karam has more on the mural here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

What is the first album you ever bought?

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: Now that the weather’s (slowly) getting nicer, what’s a home improvement or repair project you’re excited to tackle this year?

Here’s what some of you said…

“Not excited about it — but need to restain my deck, repair a kitchen ceiling and paint my screened-in porch.” — Rhonda Rowe-Skolnik

“Get my garage cleaned and organized so I can finish unpacking and get everything else organized.” — Beverly Brown

“Get my show cars ready for the few months of nice weather we get.” — John T. Miller

“I have some light bulbs to fix.” — Michael Thomas

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

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