Public Officials Raise the Pan-African Flag

Notes from the 2/19/2020 issue

Chicago Hosts the NBA All-Star Game after More Than Thirty Years

Chicago’s skyline glowed red and blue this weekend throughout the NBA All-Star events, and Mayor Lori Lightfoot tweeted out proudly from the United Center that Chicago is the greatest basketball town in the world. True fans remember that the 1988 game included a roster of four Chicago-born players and Michael Jordan’s All-Star dominance that was a harbinger of the Bulls’ six championship rings. This time around, there were no Chicago players on deck, but Jordan did surprise local residents by throwing his fifty-seventh birthday party at Cinespace, a former warehouse-turned-film studio in Little Village.

Public Officials Raise the Pan-African Flag

For the first time, Governor J.B. Pritzker and state officials raised the Black Heritage Flag on the Illinois State Capitol in observance of Black History Month. Metropolitan Water Reclamation District officials also led the raising of the red, black, and green flag in the MWRD building downtown, with the attendance of Black aldermen, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, and Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White.

Lakefront Disaster Status

Lake Michigan water levels are at record highs, and the lake is projected to continue to rise. With the beach house in Calumet Park teetering on the edge of the water, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has called on the federal government to declare an emergency in response to shoreline flooding. The response, however, has been little. The Army Corps of Engineers’ 2020 work plan included no additional funding to study Chicago’s shoreline, a decision that’s disappointing butcoming from the Trump administrationnot surprising.

However, the city has pledged millions to support the expansion of a site just north of Calumet Park where the Army Corps, the government agency responsible for dredging waterways, dumps polluted sediment. It’s disappointing that the mayor’s concern about the shoreline seems to stop at erosion, while plans to dump heavy metals on part of that shoreline move forward with the consent of her administration. We know that Trump doesn’t give a damn about Chicago, but we should expect more environmental justice from city government.

Bats Are Good for Chicago

Chicago’s gleaming skyscrapers and close-packed apartments would seem to offer little space for wildlife, but a two-decade study from the Forest Preserve District of Cook County found that bats are actually more common in the city than in the surrounding suburbs. The city, it turns out, is an ideal home for bats: mosquitos and other insects are common and the city’s architecture provides plenty of horizontal and vertical surfaces bats can perch on while hunting. And, despite the cultural perceptions, they make good neighbors; Sierra magazine called them “charismatic mini fauna.” A single bat can eat upwards of a hundred mosquitoes in an hour! With American bat populations declining dramatically as a result of a fungal disease, the news that bats have found a home in Chicago is a rare, and highly encouraging, bit of good news.

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