Afternoon Edition: June 27, 2022

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

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Martinelli Quintanilla uses his car as an Uber driver in the Loop. He strategizes to make the most from his work despite skyrocketing gas prices, including driving a Toyota Prius.

Anthony Vazquez/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.

This afternoon will be sunny with a high near 77 degrees. Tonight will be mostly clear with a low around 59. Tomorrow will be mostly sunny with a high near 84.

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Afternoon Edition
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Top story

Chicago gig workers who rely on cars make changes as gas prices stay high

Even before gas prices soared across the country, ride-hailing driver Martinelli Quintanilla tried to stretch his gas tank as much as possible.

Quintanilla — who also works in the hospitality industry — drives a Toyota Prius, which uses a gasoline engine and electric motor to power the car, to save on gas and stays in the Loop during peak hours to draw better tips and tries to take trips under 30 minutes. It’s part of his strategy to make as much as he can in the gig economy while trying to maximize his fuel.

It usually costs Quintanilla, 51, about $60 to fill up his gas tank, which he usually has to do every two days. When he works in his hospitality job in the suburbs, Quintanilla leaves his Chicago home about an hour and a half earlier to do ride-hailing jobs along the way.

“I go to work picking up people, and I usually make $40 to $50,” Quintanilla said in Spanish. “Going back home, I make another $50 to $60. This is taking advantage, especially now, of the gas prices. I don’t waste a mile.”

In recent weeks, gas prices in Illinois have surpassed $5 a gallon, according to an analysis from GasBuddy. There have been some decreases in the average price, but prices are likely to soon surge to $6 a gallon with prices peaking in July, said Patrick De Haan, the head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.

Gig workers — who work as independent contractors — gave people rides and delivered groceries and restaurant take-out orders throughout the coronavirus pandemic. A Pew Research Center survey in August 2021 found that Hispanic adults, about 30%, were more likely than any other racial or ethnic group to do gig work. Black and Asian adults were also more likely to do gig work than white adults, the survey found.

Some of these workers took a hit during the pandemic. Ride-hailing drivers in Chicago like Quintanilla decreased from 110,288 in September 2019 to 66,548 in September 2020, according to a report from the University of Illinois Labor’s Project for Middle Class Renewal.

And even before the economic uncertainty of the pandemic, there were questions surrounding whether these workers were making minimum wages after accounting for expenses. Now many are trying to make the most of their income while trying to keep up with soaring prices such as fuel.

Elvia Malagón has more on how rising gas prices are affecting those who rely on driving for apps to make money.

More news you need

  1. Election Day is tomorrow! While early voting has been open for weeks, you’re running out of time. Before submitting your ballot, check out WBEZ’s “crib sheet” for breakdowns of 13 key races and our voter guide to learn more about who’s running in even more county and statewide races.
  2. Fox News analyst Gianno Caldwell publicly grieved his younger brother’s killing in Chicago, calling on the murderers to turn themselves in and lamenting that “living in Chicago should not come with a death sentence.” Christian Caldwell, 18, was killed in a shooting that wounded two other people early Friday in Morgan Park, according to police.
  3. A fired-up Mayor Lori Lightfoot told a Pride Fest crowd “F--- Clarence Thomas” while on stage yesterday slamming the Supreme Court’s recent Dobbs vs. Jackson decision. Several candidates in the 2023 mayoral race jumped on the chance to criticize Lightfoot’s obscene language, Fran Spielman writes.
  4. Ald. Tom Tunney praised the Chicago Police Department’s efforts to keep the public safe during yesterday’s Pride Parade, even though three people were shot and three others were stabbed in attacks after the event. “Given the volume of people that were here, they did a great job…I couldn’t have asked for anything more,” Tunney, who represents the 44th Ward, said.
  5. Just as everyday workers have newfound freedom over where to open their laptops, so do CEOs — and it’s having a growing impact on where businesses want to put their corporate headquarters. David Roeder reports on the various factors compelling companies to reconsider where to call home.
  6. At the end of this month, a beloved South Side staple will shut its doors for good when the Bridgeport Restaurant closes. Irais and Josie Rodriguez, who have owned and operated the restaurant for over a decade, say they’ve been inundated with calls and complaints bemoaning the recent announcement.
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A bright one

Hector Duarte, Gabriel Villa mural bears a message for longtime Pilsen residents: ‘Fight to stay’

In Pilsen, artists Hector Duarte and Gabriel Villa have created with paint what they hope to see more of in the neighborhood: a flowering of culture and a commitment to “fight to stay” in the face of gentrification and development.

They say their new mural — standing nearly three stories high, painted on a building at 1910 S. Wolcott Ave. that’s owned by the Pilsen Housing Cooperative, for which the two artists are co-founders — aims to unite Pilsen residents to push back against the economic forces that have helped push some Mexican American families out of the neighborhood.

“We put this name from the beginning: ‘Fight to Stay,’” Duarte says. “The name of this mural is [about] anti-gentrification but mostly the big impact from investors. They buy the small, old houses, and they destroy the character of Pilsen.”

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Hector Duarte and Gabriel Villa’s “Fight to Stay” mural, 1910 S. Wolcott Ave. in Pilsen. It’s about fighting gentrification, and the artwork also pays homage to Mario Castillo’s ground-breaking 1968 “Peace” mural.

Provided

The mural reflects the purpose of the Pilsen Housing Cooperative, Duarte says.

“The mission of this co-op is to stay in Pilsen,” he says. “Don’t go. You are from here. You can survive here. We think it may represent the spirit of the people who live in Pilsen. They’d like to stay, but the money is not sufficient to pay the rent. The new owners have the rents three or five times higher.”

Pilsen has a long history as a Mexican American enclave. In recent years, though, some family homes and panaderiasandtaqueriashave given way to luxury apartment buildings and high-end restaurants. Property values and rents have risen. Between 2011 and 2020, the 60608 ZIP code that includes Pilsen and parts of Bridgeport and McKinley Park has lost 10,392 Latino residents, according to census figures.

Read Josephine Stratman’s full story here.

From the press box

Your daily question☕

How did you celebrate Pride last weekend?

Send us an email at newsletters@suntimes.com and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

On Friday, we asked you: How do you feel about the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade? Here’s what some of you said...

“Determined to keep Illinois safe for women who need to make personal choices about their bodies. Grateful for a new clinic opening near me downstate. Disgusted by Republicans who refuse to admit they are pro-birth but most assuredly not pro-life.” — Denise Terracciano Glennon

“It is the first time in American history that our country has going backwards in restricting American freedom. It’s a sad and dark day for our country.” — Kenny Perales

“Disgust. The Supreme Court does not need to exist.” — Pam Pultorak

“Extremely angry beyond words.” — Laurel Schultheis Karolczak

“It is a very sad day for women in this country.” — DeeDee Kotowski-Keacher

“No one has the right to tell a woman, or man, what they can do with their bodies.” — Ruth Fisher Tihlarik

“It’s the right decision… they said it’s not a constitutional right and should be handled at the state level. Some states will make it illegal and some will make it more accessible … they didn’t outlaw it.” — Mario Galenski

“Back in the states’ hands where it belongs.” — Mike Alexander

“Just remember, it’s okay to lie to Congress during your supreme court confirmation hearing about what is and isn’t settled law!” — Josh Stober

“No matter what side of the fence you may be on, politicians have NO right to tell women what to do when in most situations, it’s a tough decision to make.” —Joyce Flaherty

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

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