Chicago’s new interim top cop, ComEd 4 found guilty and more in your Chicago news roundup

Today’s update is about an eight-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson looks on as former Chicago Police Department Chief of Operations Fred Waller speaks during a news conference in River West after Johnson introduced Waller as his choice for interim superintendent.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about an eight-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

— Matt Moore (@MattKenMoore)

Weather 🌤️

This afternoon will be mostly sunny with a high near 58 degrees. Tonight — partly cloudy with a low near 40. Expect more sun tomorrow with a high near 69.

Top story

Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson names Fred Waller as interim police superintendent

Fred Waller spent 34 years in the Chicago Police Department, rising through the ranks to chief of patrol, chief of operations and third in command.

Now, the man who considers himself a “beat cop at heart” will lead the department he loves. It could be seen as a summer audition for the permanent job — though Waller said today he doesn’t plan to apply.

As the Chicago Sun-Times was the first to disclose, Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson has asked the 61-year-old Waller to return to lead the department — at least until he chooses a permanent replacement for former Chicago Police Supt. David Brown. Johnson made the announcement at a downtown news conference this morning.

“He is deeply committed to accountability, collaboration and excellence, which will set the tone for the entire department during this crucial interim period,” Johnson said.

Waller will replace Interim Supt. Eric Carter, whose resignation takes effect May 15, inauguration day for Johnson and the new City Council.

The Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability, a new civilian-led panel, is currently conducting a nationwide search for superintendent candidates. The commission is charged with presenting three options to Johnson by July 14, although the mayor-elect can reject those choices and request three more.

Johnson has made it clear he is determined to choose an insider as Brown’s permanent replacement to help restore morale among the rank-and-file and stop and exodus of officers that has left Chicago with 1,700 fewer officers than when Mayor Lori Lightfoot took office.

More on Waller and the search for CPD’s next top cop from our Fran Spielman and David Struett.

The ComEd bribery trial


Clockwise from upper left: Michael McClain, Anne Pramaggiore, Jay Doherty, John Hooker.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

The trial of former Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan is still a year away, but a federal jury fired a dire warning shot yesterday when it convicted four former political insiders of a nearly decade-long conspiracy to bribe the once-powerful Southwest Side Democrat.

Following 27 hours of deliberations at the end of a trial that featured about 50 witnesses over six weeks, the 12 jurors convicted longtime Madigan friend and confidant Michael McClain, former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, ex-ComEd lobbyist John Hooker and onetime City Club President Jay Doherty on every count in an indictment handed up in November 2020.

That indictment was the result of an aggressive federal investigation into Chicago-style politics that has had Madigan at its center since 2014. It helped end Madigan’s record-breaking grip on power in the Illinois House of Representatives in January 2021. But it’s also clearly bound for the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and maybe beyond. More on the verdict from our Jon Seidel, Tina Sfondeles and David Struett.

The fallout from bribery convictions may take months or maybe years to sort out, but a federal jury appeared to make a forceful statement with its verdicts. It strongly disliked how Springfield does business. WBEZ’s Dave McKinney breaks down what the verdicts means for Illinois politics.

Several jurors told the Sun-Times yesterday that they just didn’t buy the defense that it was all legal lobbying. During their weeklong deliberations, jurors “ached about” how the allegations crossed the line from legal lobbying into criminal activity, according to the jury foreperson, Sarah Goldenberg. More on the jury’s perspective from our David Struett, Tina Sfondeles and Matthew Hendrickson.

The verdict jolted the Illinois political world, sparking strong reactions from Republicans — and a few Democrats. “This guilty on all charges verdict has proven what Republicans have already known. We need real ethics reform,” Illinois House Republican Leader Tony McCombie said at a news conference in Springfield after the verdict. More reaction from Illinois pols.

More news you need

A bright one ✨

Teddy bear clinic connects health care-bound CPS students with grade schoolers

Ashley Alvarado was confident performing a checkup on the small teddy bear brought to her by Jasmin Galvez, who was about the same age as her nephews.

So the high school junior wasn’t flustered by putting her skills to the test on the child’s stuffed bear. Alvarado carried out a full panel: checking its heart rate, lungs, reflexes, vision and hearing, an X-ray inside a shoebox and a teeth-cleaning.

She was one of several Chicago Public Schools juniors and seniors who performed a full round of checkups April 27 on more than 200 stuffed animals brought to them by grade schoolers at Eli Whitney Elementary.

Ashley Alvarado tests the reflexes on Jasmin Galvez’s teddy bear at Eli Whitney Elementary in Chicago Thursday, April 27, 2023.

Ashley Alvarado tests the reflexes on Jasmin Galvez’s teddy bear at Eli Whitney Elementary in Chicago Thursday, April 27, 2023.

Kevin Tanaka/For the Sun Times

Alvarado said she learned “sometimes you have to be patient” with children. “And it’s sometimes fun because they keep you entertained.”

The mock exams also helped the grade schoolers, all from pre-K to second grade, get more comfortable with doctor visits.

“It’s a low-risk environment for our students to engage with preschool kids and engage with their peers,” said Jeanne Lapp, who teaches the students at Little Village Lawndale High School.

More on the teddy bear clinic from our David Struett.

From the press box ⚾🏀

Your daily question☕

Say you’ve been tasked with creating a new reality TV show set in Chicago — who/what would your show focus on?

Email us (please include your first and last name) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday, we asked you: What’s the most serendipitous thing that’s ever happened to you in Chicago?

Here’s some of what you said...

“I was at an art gallery on Wells to see a friend’s pieces when I stumbled across the artwork of my cousin whom I had not seen in decades. I called her, and we caught up on our lives. Serendipitous, indeed.” — Gene Tenner

“I bumped into a contact after I departed the Red Line one stop earlier than my usual stop. She told me about a job opening. I applied and got the job. I stayed for 10 years.” — Michael Marsh

“I once had to park my car and there was a spot open directly in front of the business I needed to visit. I pulled in and walked up and down the street trying to see why the spot was open, but there was no restriction, no sign covered up by stickers warning me away, nothing making it a tow zone. It was a completely free and open parking spot. It still doesn’t seem real.” — Jim O’Connor

“Found an entire branch of my family by attending a rehearsal dinner in West Loop. Turned out the groom’s mom and I were cousins. My daughter had known the groom for years and was maid of honor. However, all of us didn’t know we were related until then!” — Martha Cutsinger Stoeltiing

“Meeting Walter Payton crossing Ohio Street, meeting Martin Short in an elevator on Wells, Jimbo Covert at White Hen in Wilmette, Keanu Reeves filming a Matrix on Michigan Avenue, Mike Ditka in Rosemont and Joe Pesci on Lasalle filming Home Alone. How Dat for luck?!” — Jim Kowalczyk

“When my son was 11, he and a friend of his took the bus downtown to see a young Kanye, when he was making an appearance at the Borders Books on Michigan Avenue. I had told them that I would pick them up in front of the store when they were ready. When I pulled up the two boys were standing at the curb waiting with Kanye! He had given the boys some autographed swag and then wanted to be certain they got picked up safely. He’s gone off the deep end since but Kanye was a good dude.” — John McKevitt

“In early 1993, I was walking home. I was on North Damen Ave and it was late. I saw a group of men loading up drums I noticed one of the guys and he gave a smile — he wasn’t very tall and had long brown hair. Fast forward to 1996, I was watching MTV and saw the guy and I was in total shock! I’m like, ‘I walked right past him a few years ago.’ The video was “Even Flow” and the guy I walk right past was Eddie Vedder.” — Erica Palmer

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

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