CPS’ hazardous lead paint problem, billionaire James Crown dies 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.


Kelly Harmon is a special education teacher at McClellan Elementary in the Bridgeport neighborhood. Deteriorating lead-based paint was found in her classrooms twice. It took Chicago Public Schools months to remove it both times, records show.

Marc Monaghan/WBEZ

Good afternoon, Chicago. ✶

Crews are still racing to set up for this weekend’s NASCAR events, which will see several streets in Grant Park transformed into a high-speed track.

As a result, you may have noticed some extra traffic due to street closures in preparation for the big ‘ol stock car party.

That’s why we put together this guide to let you know when and where streets will be closed because of the race over the next week. It’ll hopefully help to save you some time and avoid traffic.

Although you could always go for some alternative forms of transportation. Paraglider anyone?

Before you get carried away, here are the stories you need to know this afternoon.

⏱️: A 7-minute read

— Matt Moore, newsletter reporter (@MattKenMoore)


CPS says it fixed all hazardous lead paint identified this year, but records and school staff tell a different story

Reporting by Nereida Moreno

Hazards posed: Teachers and staff at McClellan Elementary in Bridgeport say they complained for months last fall about peeling lead-based paint and the hazards it posed for students in their humid, century-plus-old building. Kelly Harmon, a special education teacher at McClellan whose room had flaking chips, said the school’s administration repeatedly emailed Chicago Public Schools, but they were told it wasn’t a problem. After months of advocacy, union intervention and media scrutiny — and after teachers tested the paint on their own and found lead — the dangerous paint was finally removed over winter break.

CPS aware of risks: School district officials were aware the paint was a problem. In August 2021, the district found deteriorating paint in Harmon’s room and the gym, according to public records obtained by WBEZ. Despite that, CPS did not make required repairs until the following June. For 10 months, students remained in Harmon’s classroom where deteriorated lead paint was found on the ceiling and one wall.

What CPS knows: The school district knows many of its older buildings are lined with lead-based paint and routinely tests for lead paint deterioration before construction. CPS and experts say intact lead paint isn’t potentially hazardous until it peels or flakes, and that it should be fixed and the areas blocked off while it’s safely removed. Last school year workers found lead-based paint in 95 elementary schools and 24 high schools, CPS said. Nearly every one of those schools had deteriorating paint in some rooms and required remediation, according to a WBEZ analysis of records between June and January.



2022 MoMA Party In The Garden

James Crown and his wife Paula attend a party at at the Museum of Modern Art in New York last year. James Crown died Sunday in a crash while driving on a racetrack outside Aspen, Colorado.

Getty Images



Festivalgoers dance during the Chicago House Music Festival and Taste of Chicago Humboldt Park Saturday.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Chicago House Music Festival honors ‘a cultural institution’ for the city

Reporting by Kaitlin Washburn

The annual Chicago House Music Festival brought catchy beats and smooth dance moves to Humboldt Park’s Boathouse Lawn Saturday afternoon.

The one-day fest, held at Humboldt Park for the first time, featured nine Chicago DJs, including headliner Queen! For A Day, along with Robert Owens, a legendary figure from Chicago’s house music scene.

Organizer David Chavez said the event honors and celebrates house music as “a Chicago cultural institution.”

“House music was truly born and raised here,” Chavez said. “It’s really meaningful for fans of the music. It’s a part of our DNA, and many of us grew up listening to house music.”

The free festival, put on by the city’s Cultural Affairs and Special Events Department, also partnered with Taste of Chicago Humboldt Park, offering a wide variety of food options for festivalgoers. The annual food fest is being spread out during a series of neighborhood pop-ups this year, while NASCAR takes over Grant Park this weekend for the Chicago Street Race.

Some attendees danced along for a performer’s entire hourlong set, while others avoided the heat and enjoyed the music from the shade. Families stopped by for picnics, and kids played in the bouncy castles.

“We really wanted this to be something open to anyone who wants to attend,” Chavez said.



Eat at Taqueria Chingón


Taqueria Chingón in Bucktown.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

I talked with Sun-Times photographer Anthony Vazquez, who recommends grabbing a bite to eat at his go-to spot for tacos in Bucktown, Taqueria Chingón.

“It has all the classics like pastor, barbacoa, chorizo, etc. — which are top-notch — but it also has rotating specials that allow the chef to take a creative approach with the ingredients,” Vazquez says.

“They have the traditional aguas and desserts to round out the menu, which much like the restaurant, is small, but you really can’t go wrong with any of the choices.”

📍Taqueria Chingón, 2234 N. Western Ave.


Say you’ve been tasked with creating Chicago’s next big festival. What is the fest’s focus, and where in the city are you hosting it?

Email us (please include your first and last name and where you live). To see the answers to this question, check our Morning Edition newsletter. Not subscribed to Morning Edition? Sign up here so you won’t miss a thing!

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Editor: Satchel Price

Newsletter reporter: Matt Moore

Copy editor: Angie Myers

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