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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Teamsters boss bragged ‘you can cut my fingers off, I wouldn’t talk’ years before deal with feds
A few days before Christmas 2016, Cinespace Chicago Film Studios president Alex Pissios asked Teamsters boss John T. Coli whether he’d let slip that he had been collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in secret payments from the studio head.
“Give me a f---king break, now I’m worried about you,” Coli allegedly replied. “Are you crazy? There is nobody. Never. My kids. My wife. Nobody. Ever.”
He added, “You can cut my fingers off, I wouldn’t talk.”
It’s yet another made-for-Hollywood scene straight out of real-life Chicago corruption, according to an FBI affidavit recently obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times. And it happened more than two years before Coli — despite his tough talk — struck a deal with the feds and admitted he’d taken $325,000 in cash payments from Cinespace between 2014 and 2017.
Recent headlines have focused on former Ald. Danny Solis (25th) — described by a prosecutor last week as one of Chicago’s “most significant cooperators in the last several decades.” But the recently obtained affidavit sheds new light on a pair of informants who have also played crucial roles in recent federal investigations — Coli and Pissios.
In fact, it says Pissios began to feed law enforcement information about Coli in June 2016. That’s around the same time Solis began his own cooperation, which led to the indictments of Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) and ex-Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Coli pleaded guilty in an extortion case in July 2019. He then helped prosecutors secure the guilty plea of former state Sen. Thomas Cullerton, who admitted in March to embezzling more than $240,000 from the Teamsters.
Coli has not been sentenced, but the former labor leader has a court hearing scheduled next month. Cullerton’s sentencing is set for June 21.
Read the rest of Jon Seidel’s story here.
More news you need
- Former Crestwood Mayor Louis Presta today was sentenced to one year in prison after he admitted five months ago that he accepted a $5,000 bribe as part of a red-light camera scandal. U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin told Presta that “public officials are held to a higher standard because you are given the power to affect people’s lives.”
- Suspending the City Council’s rules to allow the Latino Caucus to substitute and place before Chicago voters a revised map negotiated with CHANGE Illinois would set a “dangerous precedent” and only protect indicted Ald. Edward M. Burke, two mayoral allies said today. Fran Spielman has the latest in the ward remap saga.
- Extending the shelf life of perishables is the business of an emerging Chicago company that has made growers and environmentalists take notice. David Roeder reports on Hazel Technologies, which officially moved last week into a new Fulton Market office.
- The CTA and CDOT want to hear from Chicagoans about their experiences with the city’s bus services as part of a public input period that’ll help steer plans for improvements. In addition to an interactive website, residents can also give feedback by phone, text, email or physical comment cards.
- Lizzo’s “Special Tour” will make a stop at the United Center in mid-October. The tour dates dropped today ahead of the release of her next album, “Special,” in July.
A bright one
‘Cooley High’ stars look back at ‘glorious experience’ of making an enduring Chicago favorite
LOS ANGELES — Though the marquee attractions at the 2022 TCM Classic Film Festival were Hollywood luminaries such as Warren Beatty, Bruce Dern, Piper Laurie and Steven Spielberg, a chapter and corner of Chicago history also shared a moment in the spotlight.
“Cooley High” (1975), the made-in-Chicago, coming-of-age comedy, often cited as a breakthrough title in Black-produced cinema, received a tribute at the 13th annual festival, held over the weekend at the historic TCL (Grauman’s) Chinese Theatre complex and other nearby venues. Director Michael Schultz and the “Cooley High” stars—Glynn Turman, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Garrett Morris, Cynthia Davis and Steven Williams—appeared for a pre-screening talk, moderated by TCM host Jacqueline Stewart, on Friday night at the Hollywood Legion Theatre.
“I grew up in Chicago, where ‘Cooley High’ was considered Black national cinema,” said Stewart, who’s also chief artistic and programming officer of the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles. “If you were from Chicago, you knew this film.”
Black filmmakers John Singleton, Spike Lee and Robert Townsend all singled out “Cooley High” as having an important impact on their own careers. “This film is so influential,” Schultz said. “Without ‘Cooley High,’ there would be no ‘Boyz N the Hood,’ ” referring to Singleton’s 1991 debut, for which he became the first Black filmmaker to earn a best director Oscar nomination. Townsend, who had a bit part in “Cooley High,” told the Los Angeles Times in 2019 that “Michael Schultz really changed the landscape for people of color. [The film] speaks to people that look like me and speaks to everybody.“
Last year, that influence was affirmed yet again when the film was added to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry “for being culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”
Laura Emerick has more from the reunion in Los Angeles.
From the press box
- Other than Jaylon Johnson, cornerback was a big problem for the Bears last season. Despite all the talk about receivers, that’s a good place for them to start in the upcoming draft, Jason Lieser writes.
- Mark Potash on the Bears’ draft history ahead of the first one under their new general manager.
- Only three more games left for the Blackhawks. The end of the season can’t come soon enough, Ben Pope writes.
- Joe Henricksen ranks the Chicago area’s top high school basketball recruits for the Class of 2022.
Your daily question ☕
What changes would you like to see Twitter make after completing its sale to Elon Musk?
Send us an email at email@example.com and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.
On Friday, we asked you: What’s the best hidden-gem brunch spot in the city?
“If I told you, I’d never be able to enjoy it again without a two-hour wait.” — Nick Gibson
“Hands down, The Gundis on North Clark. They serve a Kurdish breakfast (to be split by two people) that includes eggs scrambled with vegetables or sausage, cigar burek (skinny cheese-stuffed pastries), feta cheese, olives, tomatoes, fantastic French fries, and homemade hot bread with toppings such as tahini mixed with grape syrup. There are also a la carte offerings. Really a fantastic repast.” — Francesca Kelly
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