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Week in Illinois 10/15/21

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Chicago parade celebrates Columbus Day

Members of the Amici Italiani Dance Troupe in Rockford perform on a float in the Columbus Day Parade as it travels down North State Street in the Loop on Monday in Chicago. Protesters called on officials to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day.

IN THE NEWS

Deere workers

go on strike

More than 10,000 Deere & Co. workers went on strike Thursday at midnight, the United Auto Workers announced. Members rejected a contract offer earlier this week that would have delivered raises of 5% for some and 6% for others.

BIDEN: First lady Jill Biden wrapped up a visit to Illinois on Wednesday with a stop at Arturo Velasquez Institute, a Chicago community college, with Education Secretary Miguel Cardona before heading to Pennsylvania during a three-state tour in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.

DAY: Hundreds of people attended Saturday's celebration of life in Danville for Jelani Day, an Illinois State University graduate student whose body was found Sept. 4 in the Illinois River after his disappearance on Aug. 24 drew national attention. The case and cause of death remain under investigation.

MURDER: Former Northwestern microbiology professor Wyndham Lathem was convicted of murder in the gruesome 2017 stabbing death of his boyfriend, 26-year-old Trenton Cornell.

PIPELINE: The St. Louis-based natural gas company Spire Inc. is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to allow it to keep operating a pipeline through Illinois and Missouri, warning that a winter shutdown could be devastating to St. Louis-area customers. 

TRAINS: Passenger train service across the Midwest could get a huge boost in the coming decades, with multiple new routes and more frequent trains running out of Chicago, under a concept envisioned by the Federal Railroad Administration.

THEY SAID ...

"Look, I know that vaccination requirements are a tough medicine — unpopular to some, politics for others — but they're lifesaving, they're game-changing for our country."

— President Joe Biden

“If you take a week off of running or something, you feel like, ‘Whoa.’ It’s not just for health. It’s part of your life.”

— Marathon runner Jim Ballard

"Approaching a sow grizzly with cubs is absolutely foolish. Pure luck is why (Samantha) Dehring is a criminal defendant and not a mauled tourist."

— Acting Wyoming U.S. Attorney Bob Murray, on the Carol Stream woman's four-day jail sentence for actions in Yellowstone National Park

ODDS AND ENDS

TRIBUNE TOWER: Tribune Tower, the neo-Gothic landmark being redeveloped as luxury condos on North Michigan Avenue, has its first retail tenant: the Museum of Ice Cream.

BICYCLE BANDIT: The FBI in Chicago is looking for a man they say has robbed or attempted to rob several banks on the South and Southwest Side in recent months, often wearing loud clothes and fleeing on a bicycle.

OLD CAPITOL: Illinois' Old State Capitol has re-opened to visitors after interior renovations were completed, and visitors will see a new feature: an education gallery and video room. Exterior work on the dome of the building continues.

THE WATER COOLER

CYCLISTS: Chicago Police officers write up cyclists for riding on sidewalks in Black and Latino areas far more often than they do in predominantly white communities, a new study found. 

CARJACKINGS: Cook County has recorded nearly 1,400 carjackings so far this year, 44% more than the same period last year, which puts it on pace to reach a two-decade high. 

WARD MAP: Asian Americans in Chicago are pushing for a majority Asian ward including Chinatown and parts of the McKinley Park neighborhood and Bridgeport as the city redraws its political maps, saying it would ensure the fast-growing community has a unified voice at City Hall.

IN THE NEWS

Police union

knocks mandate

The head of the Chicago police officers union has called on its members to defy the city's requirement to report their COVID-19 vaccination status or be placed on unpaid leave. Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Oct. 8 that city workers can opt out of vaccination and instead get tested semiweekly for the rest of the year.

NURSING HOMES: A new Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services report says staffing shortages at nursing homes in Illinois have reached crisis proportions and that people of color are most at risk of suffering the consequences.

COVID CASES: The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 19,244 coronavirus infections and 209 deaths last week, bringing the totals since March 2020 to 1,650,108 cases and 25,224 deaths across the state.

IMMUNITY: A new state task force is discussing what changes could be made to the way state law approaches qualified immunity from certain civil lawsuits for law enforcement officers.

MISCONDUCT: Chicago Park District Superintendent and CEO Mike Kelly has resigned following questions about his handling of sexual misconduct and abuse allegations among lifeguards.

TRANSPORT HUB: A railway improvement project intended to greatly improve traffic congestion between St. Louis and Chicago reached a milestone Tuesday as work began on a $122 million multimodal transportation hub in Springfield.

ACTIVIST: Civil rights activist, retired Chicago professor and historian Timuel Black, 102, has died.

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