Cook County employees accused of PPP fraud, a housing development faces delays 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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The Daley Center, where some Cook County government agencies are housed. | Sun-Times file

Sun-Times file

Good afternoon, Chicago. ✶

Can you breathe today? Because I was struggling this morning.

I woke up with a dry cough and raspy voice after walking around Andersonville Sunday. Over the weekend, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency issued an air quality alert for the entire state due to Canadian wildfire smoke blowing into the area.

It started as another bad air day Monday. Stefano Esposito reported that Chicago was back in the world’s top 10 major cities for worst air quality — No. 7 as of this morning. That let up some by this afternoon, as the Air Quality Index had fallen to 62, listed as moderate health risks, by 1:30 p.m.

The forecast also looks better for Tuesday, but as Brett Chase reported this month, scientists warn more of these days are in our future. Experts say climate change and global warming are exacerbating recent weather extremes, from the still-burning Canadian wildfires to recent severe flooding in Chicago.

If you’re looking for an indoor-friendly activity this afternoon, you can catch up on the latest Chicago news below.

⏱️: A 6-minute read

— Ellery Jones, audience engagement specialist (@elleryrjones)


TODAY’S TOP STORY

PPP fraud suspected of 5 more Cook County workers, including woman who used money to pay for daughter’s wedding, report says

Reporting by Frank Main

Fraud allegations: Five Cook County employees defrauded the federal COVID-19 relief program of more than $240,000, falsely claiming they owned companies that struggled during the pandemic, the county inspector general’s office said in a report Friday.

Dozens of cases: In the last year, 20 other county workers also have been suspected of defrauding the federal Paycheck Protection Program, according to interim Inspector General Steven Cyranoski. They include three high-ranking county officials, including one in the county’s human resources office, a payroll supervisor in the comptroller’s office and a director in the health department.

Weddings and lottery tickets: One employee of the county clerk fraudulently obtained nearly $40,000 in loans, which she spent on her daughter’s wedding and back taxes, according to Cyranoski’s latest report. Another facilities management employee got two loans totaling $41,666 by falsely claiming she ran a digital marketing company. The woman used some of the money to buy a new house and Illinois lottery tickets, investigators say.

READ MORE


WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?

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Richard Townsell, executive director of Lawndale Christian Development Corp., stands outside two model homes in the 1600 block of South Avers Avenue in North Lawndale.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times


SUN-TIMES STAFF SUGGESTS 🛍️

Shop at Knee Deep Vintage

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Glimpses from recent visits to Knee Deep Vintage, 1219 W 18th St.

Annie Costabile/Sun-Times

I talked with Sun-Times sports reporter Annie Costabile who recommends stopping by Knee Deep Vintage — her favorite vintage shop — to pick up a new outfit.

“I love Knee Deep vintage because of their incredible collection of affordable, vintage clothing from literally any decade,” Annie says. “You need an ‘80s power blazer? Or a throwback sports T-shirt or sweatshirt? Whatever you’re looking for, you’re bound to find it here.”

📍 Knee Deep Vintage, 1219 W. 18th St.


BRIGHT ONE ✨

David Feiner, Albany Park Theater Project’s co-executive director and co-director of Port of Entry, smiles aftrer a media tour of the set of Port of Entry at 3547 W. Montrose Ave. in the Albany Park neighborhood, Wednesday, June 7, 2023. Port of Entry is an immersive theater experience in a renovated 1929 warehouse by the Albany Park Theater Project and Third Rail Projects about the lives of immigrants. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

David Feiner, Albany Park Theater Project’s co-executive director and co-director of “Port of Entry” is photographed outside the warehouse location for the immersive experience at 3547 W. Montrose Ave.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

In ‘Port of Entry,’ stories of Albany Park’s immigrant community take center stage

Reporting by Elvia Malagón

Walking around Albany Park, you can find a building mailbox that lists families from around the world who have found themselves now living in the same place, says David Feiner of the Albany Park Theater Project.

In “Port of Entry,” the theater company, a mix of youth and adult artists, and Third Rail Projects aim to tell the stories of an immigrant community in the Northwest Side neighborhood.

The newly opened play has a sold-out summer season. Additional performances are expected to be announced with pay-what-you-can tickets.

Those attending the performances walk through a courtyard before going into apartments where the stories of four families — spanning 100 years — will unfold. The 28 people in the audience might find themselves playing a game of loteria or helping cook a meal through the course of the two-hour, immersive production.

“We kind of think about immersive theater as a multisensory experience,” says Jennine Willett, co-artistic director of Third Rail Projects. “It’s not just what you see. It’s what you’re sitting on, what you feel, what you smell, what you hear, what you touch. All of the senses are engaged. Also, how does your body feel in a space, whether you feel like you’re cramped in the space, or you feel like it’s very spacious.”

READ MORE


YOUR DAILY QUESTION ☕️

How has the recent poor air quality in Chicago impacted you?

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!


Thanks for reading the Sun-Times Afternoon Edition.

Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.

Editor: Satchel Price

Newsletter reporter: Ellery Jones

Copy editor: Angie Myers

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