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.
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Ald. Carrie Austin pleads not guilty during arraignment on federal bribery charges
Longtime Ald. Carrie M. Austin (34th) pleaded not guilty through her lawyer during her arraignment today, one week after she became the third sitting member of Chicago’s City Council to face a federal indictment.
Austin’s chief of staff, Chester Wilson Jr., also pleaded not guilty through his lawyer. Their arraignment took place by telephone before U.S. District Judge John Kness. Austin spoke only briefly as the hearing began, answering most questions from the judge with “yes sir.”
A federal grand jury last week accused Austin of bribery and lying to the FBI in a 19-page indictment that also charged Wilson with bribery and theft of government funds.
Prosecutors say a developer involved in a $50 million, 91-unit development in Austin’s ward sought to influence Austin and Wilson with home improvements, furniture or appliances. The developer had a deal with the city of Chicago that made his company eligible for $10.5 million in tax increment financing and other funding, and Austin and Wilson allegedly took official actions to benefit the developer, a relative and an associate of his, and their companies.
Austin’s indictment not only made her the third sitting member of the Chicago City Council under federal indictment, it also meant the council’s two most senior members face federal criminal charges.
Jon Seidel has more on the legal challenges facing Austin here.
More news you need
- A 28-year-old Chicago man has been charged in federal court in connection with yesterday’s shooting of a Chicago police officer and two federal agents. He’s charged with one count of using a dangerous and deadly weapon to assault an ATF agent and faces up to 20 years in prison.
- A new inspector general report shows white applicants to the Chicago Police Department are far more likely to be hired than Black applicants, raising questions about whether CPD’s employment process is equitable. Black candidates represented 37% of the applicants but only 18% of those invited to the police academy.
- In a press conference today, several aldermen and activists called for Mayor Lightfoot to immediately spend federal relief money headed to Chicago on social services. They say the services could reduce violence, help people pay rent and assist those in need of mental health treatment.
- Other activists yesterday called on Gov. Pritzker to declare a state of emergency decree for gun violence after Chicago saw its deadliest and most violent weekend yet this year. Standing outside CPD’s Bronzeville headquarters, Ja’Mal Green called gun violence a “public health crisis.”
- CPS will start vaccinating students for COVID-19 next week — and will ask families to reveal their children’s vaccination status when schools reopen next month. However, the district says it won’t require coronavirus vaccinations to attend school when the academic year starts in August.
- Hoping to lure back visitors, Chicago-area museums and cultural arts attractions are serving up new exhibits this summer. Check out our list of exhibits being held throughout the city and suburbs.
A bright one
‘House City’ series brings pop-up music events to Chicago neighborhoods this summer
Summer in Chicago is salvageable for local “House Heads” after all.
Instead of the Chicago House Music Festival — and the Chosen Few Picnic & House Music Festival, which has gone virtual for consecutive years — the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is highlighting the locally created genre’s contributions to modern music with “House City,” a free, 10-part pop-up series that began last Sunday.
The pop-up events will take place in Chicago neighborhoods such as South Shore, Englewood, North Lawndale, Humboldt Park and Lake View, among others.
The Aug. 28 date is sponsored by the Protect Chicago Music Series, and Chicago SummerDance in the Parks is a part of the Sept. 12 South Shore event.
Selah Say, one of the DJs headlining the North Lawndale slate of “House City,” says she’s excited about spinning beats outdoors, where “you can’t control where the music goes.”
Evan F. Moore has more on “House City” and the full schedule of events here.
From the press box
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Yesterday, we asked you: How would you define the “Midwest Nice” label? Do you think it’s accurate? Here’s some of what you said…
“Not accurate. It’s politically correct and that’s dishonest. The food is the best but too bad the people aren’t — and that’s honest.” — Roy Hillard Locke
“Spending an extra 10 seconds at a 4 way stop waving for each other to ‘go ahead’ and then accidentally all finally going at once, so you all stop again, say ‘ope’ to yourself, and start the process over.” — J. Allen
“By not sharing my edibles.” — Guy Battista
“I offer to help people with directions even if they just look lost.” — Mary Jane Tala
“Midwest Nice is just that. Respect, courtesy, holding doors, letting a car go ahead of yours, saying “Hello,” “Please,” “Thank You.” I have been all over the U.S.A. and can always identify a Midwest resident or former resident. They really do rise above the behavior of many others.” — Irena Nowak
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