Afternoon Edition: How bad is Chicago’s budget outlook?

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

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Mayor Brandon Johnson takes questions from reporters last month at City Hall.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file

Good afternoon, Chicago. ✶

Right now, about 30 restaurants — from barbecue and vegan spots to Ethiopian and soul food eateries — are showcasing our city’s multifaceted culinary scene with this year’s iteration of Black Restaurant Week.

It’s an initiative that aims to highlight Black-owned restaurants at a time when many small business owners are continuing to recover from obstacles endured since the first waves of the pandemic.

Below, we’ll explain more about the event and where you can try some delicious specials this week. 👇

Plus, we’ve got the community news you need to know this afternoon.

⏱️: A 7-minute read

— Matt Moore, newsletter reporter (@MattKenMoore)


TODAY’S TOP STORY

Worst-case scenario: Chicago budget gap could reach $1.9 billion by 2026

Reporting by Fran Spielman

Chicago’s future budget: Chicago’s budget shortfall could skyrocket to $1.9 billion by 2026 if the economy takes a nosedive — and even under the rosiest scenario, the gap between revenue and expenses would be $789 million by then.

Former mayor’s wishful thinking: Mayor Brandon Johnson’s three-year budget forecast is a far cry from the rosy picture painted by his predecessor, Lori Lightfoot, on her way out the door. The $85 million 2024 budget shortfall that Lightfoot projected in mid-April has ballooned to $538 million, according to a new analysis.

How’d we get here?: Factors include: $200 million tied to Chicago’s burgeoning migrant crisis; $90 million triggered by Johnson’s decision to get rid of an automatic escalator that would have locked in annual property tax increases at the rate of inflation; $45 million in pension costs that result from Johnson’s decision not to offload to Chicago Public Schools the annual contribution for nonteaching employees who draw their retirement checks from the Municipal Employees Pension Fund; previously negotiated raises for police officers and firefighters.

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WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?

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The procession for Chicago Fire Lt. Kevin Ward arrives for his funeral at Fourth Presbyterian Church on the Magnificent Mile.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

  • Loved ones, colleagues gather for firefighter’s funeral: Chicago Fire Lt. Kevin Ward, 58, who died this month from injuries suffered while battling a house fire, was laid to rest Wednesday. “He absolutely loved life,” Ward’s ex-wife and close friend told the Sun-Times.
  • Trailblazing professor, activist remembered: Finley C. Campbell stood up to neo-Nazis in Chicago, was shot protesting the KKK in Mississippi and firmly believed that multiracial unity was the key to changing the world. Mr. Campbell died Aug. 18 at 88 years old.
  • UAW considering small-scale strike: Leaders of the United Auto Workers union are considering targeted strikes at a small number of factories run by each of Detroit’s three automakers if they can’t reach contract agreements by a Thursday night deadline, the Associated Press reports.
  • Chicago’s fall music scene: From up-and-coming indie groups to big-name artists, there are plenty of shows to keep you busy this fall. These are the acts you’ll want to catch before the year ends.
  • Art Institute offers rare glimpse at Caravaggio: Containing just five paintings, “Among Friends and Rivals: Caravaggio in Rome,” runs through Dec. 31 at the Art Institute of Chicago and offers an up-close look at works of Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.

RIOT FEST RETURNS 🤘

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Fans cheer and crowd surf as the Descendents perform on the first day of last year’s Riot Fest in Douglass Park.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

Riot Fest, Chicago’s annual celebration of all things punk, rock and alternative returns to Douglass Park Friday for its 17th edition and runs through Sunday.

Before about 50,000 fans start heading over to the festival grounds, here’s what you need to know.

Who’s headlining?: Big names include Foo Fighters, Turnstile, Death Cab for Cutie, the Mars Volta and the Cure. You can dig into our set list predictions here.

Artists to watch: We’ve got a list of eight emerging artists you won’t want to miss this year, including Pinkshift, Chicago’s own Through N Through, Enola Gay and Eshu Tune, comedian Hannibal Buress’ rapper alter ego.

Last-minute tickets: Limited 3-day, 2-day and single-day tickets to the festival are still available. Weekend passes start at $299.98, 2-day passes start at $199.99, and standard single-day tickets are available for $109.98.

The fest’s deeper meaning: Riot Fest co-founder Mike Petryshyn recently opened up about his recent autism diagnosis and how punk music has given him an outlet for communication, and concerts have been freeing. “I think events like Riot Fest are the most intimate place for 50,000 people to come together,” he told the Sun-Times.

A history with neighbors: Riot Fest was once again given the green light by the city, despite its divisive presence in Douglass Park. While some residents see the fest as an economic benefit for the park’s neighboring communities, others say the festival is a nuisance and health safety risk for residents.

Follow along: We’ll have our reporters and photographers on site, ready to keep you plugged into all of the action — which you can follow along with on our site. Plus, we’ll share some of the sights and sounds on our Instagram, X account (fka Twitter) and Facebook.


BRIGHT ONE ✨

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Donnita Flanagan began her business, Passion T Plates, during the first waves of the pandemic and recently opened a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Auburn Gresham. She’s participating in Black Restaurant Week, a nationwide effort to support Black-owned restaurants.

Provided

Black Restaurant Week highlights city’s ‘wealth of culinary talent’

Reporting by Dorothy Hernandez

Chicago’s Black Restaurant Week, which began Sunday and runs until Sept. 24, is in full effect, with dozens of restaurants offering specials as part of a larger goal to emphasize Black-owned businesses.

This year is the “largest campaign for Chicago,” Derek Robinson, the event’s managing partner, said of the nearly 30 local restaurants participating. Over the four years since it’s been in Chicago, nearly 100 restaurants have participated.

Chicago’s Black Restaurant Week is an iteration of the larger, national Black Restaurant Week, which began in Houston as a one-week event and has expanded to about 15 different restaurant week campaigns, from the Bay Area and Southwest to the Northeast and Florida.

In Chicago, “there is a wealth of culinary talent,” Robinson said, noting the diversity reflected in this year’s lineup, including vegan, barbecue, soul food, Ethiopian and Jamaican.

This year’s participants include: Bell Heirs BBQ, 704 W. 47th St.; Frontier, 1072 N. Milwaukee Ave.; Luella’s Southern Kitchen, 4609 N. Lincoln Ave.; Passion T Plates, 3412 W. 79th St.; Windy City Ribs & Whiskey, 67 E. Cermak Road and many more.

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YOUR DAILY QUESTION ☕️

What’s one Chicago business that has not changed since the first day you entered it? Tell us one way it has stayed the same.

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: Matt Moore
Copy editor: Angie Myers

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