The Chi-Side provides opportunity for young sports journalists to stay in the game

By Yousef Nasser
Medill Reports

The Chi-Side was credentialed to cover the eighth annual Chicago Elite Classic, giving young journalists their first taste of covering high school basketball.

Developed by social media professional Evan Marshall along with sports broadcasters Brooke Weisbrod and Camron Smith, the Chi-Side identifies itself as an intersection of basketball and culture in the city of Chicago. The Chi-Side aims to give creative young kids from the ages of nine to 19 an opportunity to learn the craft of covering sports alongside experienced sportscasters like Weisbrod and Smith.

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Becoming ‘social equity’ is nearly a must for opening an adult-use cannabis dispensary in Illinois

By Yun Hao
Medill Reports

With “the status of social equity applicant” worth one-fifth of the entire 250 points of the state’s evaluation, many applicants seeking an adult-use cannabis license in Illinois are now trying to affiliate with individuals or groups that can qualify them as social equity applicants.

A social equity applicant, according to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, either has at least 51% ownership and control by one or more individuals from disproportionately impacted areas, or has more than 10 full-time employees, more than half of which are from disproportionately impacted areas.

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How Cesar Izquierdo started a premiere Chicago Peruvian restaurant

By Harrison Liao
Medill Reports

It’s no “fu fu restaurant.” That’s the first thing Cesar Izquierdo tells you about his restaurant, Taste of Peru in Rogers Park.

Irene Ulbrich, owner of Caleo Cafe in Angola, Indiana, and a Peruvian native that frequents Cesar’s restaurant when she visits Chicago, says it’s what makes Taste of Peru so special.

“Other Peruvian restaurants serve these really pretty, very yummy dishes, but the Peruvian food I grew up with is like what Taste of Peru serves,” she says. “A plate full of food and flavor. Lots of food.”

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A grandfather’s battle against the lead in drinking water

By Henry Ren
Medill Reports

Hyde Park resident Gordon Berry had never imagined that the drinking water in his century-old house could be contaminated by lead, until his 2-year-old granddaughter, who resided with him, had a routine blood test in January 2016.

“They found lead in her blood,” Berry said.

Horrified by the result, Berry “immediately” called the city to test the water. He didn’t hear the test results from the city until an investigative reporter knocked at his door in early May 2016.

“She said, ‘did you know this house has the highest lead content in the water of any house measured in Chicago?’”

“And we would never have known but for her,” Berry said.

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Incumbent doesn’t object to challengers’ nominating petitions despite their expectations

By Samone Blair
Medill Reports

“We know the games that they unfortunately play and the tactics they utilize to basically try to silence the voices of anyone who dares to challenge the establishment,” said Anthony Clark, Democrat candidate for Illinois’ 7th U.S. Congressional District in the March 17, 2020 primary election.

Sure enough, Kina Collins, a challenger candidate in the 7th Congressional District, has had her nominating petitions challenged. However, it wasn’t by incumbent Danny K. Davis as expected but by lawyers connected to another challenger candidate, Kristine Schanbacher.

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Leaders prepare for census throughout city, focus on hard-to-count areas

By Samone Blair
Medill Reports

City officials are teaming up with civic organizations to prepare for the 2020 Census, especially in hard-to-count neighborhoods like predominantly Latino Humboldt Park. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Chicago households responded to the 2010 census at a rate of only 66% whereas 74% of households responded nationwide.

A key consideration for organizers is that the2020 census will differ from years past by allowing households to respond electronically.

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No more rubber stamps: How city council’s new left is embracing socialism and calling for change

By Beth Stewart
Medill Reports

Mayoral budgets have a history of sailing through the Chicago City Council with little to no opposition. Rahm Emanuel’s first budget saw unanimous support, and in his last year the controversial mayor had a lone dissident. Only one year of his contentious time in office did opposition rise above single digits, as a result of a four-year property tax hike.

So when Mayor Lightfoot’s inaugural budget, which overcame an $838 million deficit with a marginal property tax increase and millions in efficiencies, was approved last Tuesday by the Chicago city council, the 11 no votes signified a sea change.

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Community drives three independent bookstores to thrive despite digital-heavy environment

By Hannah Farrow
Medill Reports

Between same-day shipping and instant Kindle ebooks, Amazon dominates book sales. Borders went out of business in 2011. Barnes & Noble was sold this year after its worst year in sales to date; they’ve also closed over 150 stores in the last decade. Yet the entire country is seeing a spike in independent brick-and-mortar bookstores and their sales. In Wicker Park alone, a neighborhood known for the arts, three thrive: Volumes, Myopic and Quimby’s.

“Myopic is the used books. Volumes is the family friendly. And we’re the weirdos,” said Liz Mason, 45, manager of Quimby’s. “We all have different vibes, and we all fulfill different needs. Honestly, in my mind, it feels like I have collaborators in getting Wicker Park to be more literary.”

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Chicago’s Illegal drug market likely to thrive in the wake of marijuana legalization

By Shirin Ali
Medill Reports

Illinois will soon become the 12th state in the country to legalize the sale and possession of recreational marijuana on January 1, 2020, but legalization doesn’t come without significant uncertainty and risk. In particular, the law establishes a high barrier of entry for individuals interested in entering the industry, which could allow the underground drug market to continue to flourish.

Malcom Gray is a 25 year-old native of Chicago’s Austin neighborhood who says he’s been dealing in Chicago’s illegal drug market since he was 10 years old. He is confident that Chicago’s illicit drug market isn’t going to suffer from legalization, because dealers will simply resell marijuana that was purchased legally from a dispensary.  “They’ll most definitely still do it because of the easy access. The price for cannabis on the streets is now going to go up because the access to it is more easy. Anybody can walk into a shop and get the top notch stuff.”

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Obstacles in front of building art center with affordable space in Wicker Park

By Yilin Xie
Medill Reports

Alma Wieser’s plan of building an art center in Wicker Park needs to cross over many obstacles. Raising money is the first. Achieving sustainable affordability in a gentrified area is the second.

Alma Wieser, the owner of Heaven Gallery, hopes to build a not-for-profit art center on North Milwaukee Avenue. The center will be dedicated to developing art in Wicker Park. A not-for-profit in San Francisco is her model.

The proposed art center will be in the Lubinski Furniture Store building. The building went on the market on Oct. 10, according to LoopNet, an online real estate marketplace.

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