Chicago News Roundup: Lightfoot challenges Biden administration’s environmental racism claims, Sen. Emil Jones pleads not guilty and more

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Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. This is a roughly five minute read that will educate you on today’s biggest stories.

This afternoon will be cloudy with a low near 64 degrees. Tonight it will be cloudy with a few showers and a low near 53. Tomorrow it will be cloudy with a chance of showers and a high near 73. Sunday will be partly sunny with a chance of showers and a high almost 69.

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Lightfoot to Biden administration over environmental racism allegations: See you in court

Stepping up her fight with the Biden administration, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is trying to discredit a federal finding that the city has violated the civil rights of its residents through policies that amount to environmental racism.

Millions of dollars a year in federal funding that helps provide a lifeline for vulnerable Chicagoans — money from the Department of Housing and Urban Development — could dry up if Lightfoot doesn’t back down.

The dispute between the Democratic mayor and the Democratic president’s administration centers on the findings in July of a federal civil rights inquiry finding that Chicago’s zoning, planning and land use policies have long been discriminatory.

That investigation was sparked by a complaint filed with HUD in 2020 regarding the then-proposed move of General Iron’s auto-shredding operation from ultra-white and wealthy Lincoln Park to a predominantly Southeastern Latino community. surrounded by largely black neighborhoods. It was a plan that Lightfoot’s administration helped lead.

The proposed opening of a scrap metal operation at East 116th Street along the Calumet River has led to protests, including a hunger strike, as some South Side residents complained they could no longer bear the pollution in an area where the air quality is already poor.

In a letter to HUD in response to its July report, Lightfoot’s legal department called the agency’s findings “a fundamentally flawed factual and legal analysis.” Asking HUD to reconsider its findings, City Hall’s attorneys told federal officials that “the city is confident that it will prevail against the execution in a court proceeding.”

Any municipality that receives HUD funding must agree to follow federal law and not discriminate against its residents.

City Hall denies that its policies are discriminatory and, in the recent letter to the agency, pointed out that it ultimately refused a permit that General Iron needs.

A HUD spokeswoman said the agency “will seek to resolve these issues as quickly as possible. . . If a voluntary resolution cannot be reached, HUD may initiate administrative proceedings or refer this matter to the U.S. Department of Justice for enforcement.

And Lightfoot’s fight with HUD could escalate further in the coming weeks, when agency investigators are expected to release their findings on another civil rights complaint. He claims that members of the Chicago City Council have used the so-called alderman’s prerogative to prevent access to affordable housing in certain neighborhoods. This investigation was opened two years before the investigation triggered by General Iron’s fight.

Brett Chase says more about the Lightfoot-Biden administration clash here.

More news you need

  1. A 29-year-old man died after an explosion earlier this week at an apartment building in Austin. He was one of eight people injured in an explosion on Tuesday morning that firefighters said was caused by “igniting natural gas”.
  2. Joseph Kromelis, known as “The Walking Man”, was released from hospital about four months after being set on fire while sleeping on Lower Wabash Avenue. As of today, Kromelis will continue to recover in a rehabilitation center and will have to undergo further surgeries.
  3. After Chicago’s police watchdog recommended the suspension of 12 officers for their conduct during the George Floyd protests, the city’s top cop has hit back on charges of excessive violence. Our Allison Novelo has more on the Superintendent of Police. David Brown’s efforts here.
  4. State Senator Emil Jones III today pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges after he was charged with agreeing to shield a politically connected red light camera company at the Illinois General Assembly. The hearing was conducted by telephone, making Jones the latest Illinois politician tasked by the federal government to avoid traditional shaming through Dirksen’s federal courthouse.
  5. Since 2015, police department records show that at least 58 Chicago businesses have been closed following shootings under the city’s summary closure order issued that year. Most of those shuttered businesses were on the South Side and West Side, and when it came to high-influence downtown bars, police went easy, according to a Sun-Times investigation.
  6. Months before the buses carrying immigrants from Texas arrived, thousands of Venezuelans had already settled in Chicago after fleeing their home country. Our Elvia Malagón spoke with a local man about her trip here.
  7. The University of Illinois and developer Related Midwest today presented a new design and ambitions for the planned technology and research center at the development site known as The 78. As part of a $500 million statewide effort to promote innovation, the university’s Discovery Partners Institute is scheduled for completion in 2026.

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A bright

“I will read them all. Elementary students get excited about donating books during Bernie’s Book Bank charity walk through town

Elementary school student Isaris Ramos smiled as she sorted through her bag of eight new books.

A fantasy novel, comic strip and illustrated biography of Albert Einstein.

“I’m going to read them all when I get home,” said Isaris, a sixth-grader at Jahn Elementary in Lake View.

Isaris was among a crowd of students chanting ‘We want books’ as volunteers from the Bernie’s Book Bank charity handed out bags of free books yesterday. The volunteers were halfway through their 20-mile “Walk As One Chicago” fundraiser, from Guaranteed Rate Field to Wrigley Field and back. They stopped at schools along the way to promote book ownership and literacy.

Sixth grader Isaris Ramos looks at newly received books during a Bernie’s Book Bank handout outside Jahn Primary School yesterday.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

After collecting their books yesterday, the children sat on the school steps near the playground, sharing with each other the new additions to their personal libraries.

Essence Durr was very excited about his new copy of “The Legend of Shadow High”, by Shannon and Dean Hale. Sixth grader Essence loves to read in her free time and spends at least 30 minutes a day reading.

Amaya Gonzalez, another sixth-grade student, said, “I’m very happy to have a bunch of books that I would like to read. I will definitely read them.

David Struettas full story behind the giveaway here.

From the press gallery

Your daily question☕

As we enter another season amid the pandemic, how has your approach to COVID-19 changed since 2020?

Email us at [email protected] and we might feature your response in the next afternoon edition.

Yesterday we asked you: In honor of the fall equinox, we want to know: What’s the best fall festival in Chicago?

Here’s what some of you said…

“Chicago International Film Festival. Films at the festival are not commercial Hollywood drivel, but real films. —Craig Barner

“Oktoberfest, natural.” —Edwin Haiflich

Find a full list of ways to start the season straight through The Mix – our weekly Chicago events recap – here.

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