January 30, 2023
Happy Monday! Today is National Bubble Wrap Day. So pop 'em if you got 'em.
- Today's weather: Here comes the cold. The high is only 14°.
Today's newsletter is 907 words — a 3.5-minute read.
1 big thing: Candace Parker heads west
WNBA star Candace Parker is leaving the Chicago Sky. She's poised to sign a contract with the Las Vegas Aces when free agency begins Wednesday.
Why it matters: The Naperville native has helped turn the Sky into one of the league's best teams, bringing home Chicago's first WNBA championship two years ago.
What they're saying: "When I made the decision to go to Chicago in 2021, I made the decision to go home and be with my family in the place where it all began," Parker said on Instagram.
- "I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to win a championship in my hometown and parade down the same streets I watched the Bulls parade down as a young girl first falling in love with the game of basketball."
- "While Chicago will always be my home, my family's home is on the West Coast."
Context: Parker made headlines playing at Naperville Central from 2001-2004. She was twice named the best high school player in the nation.
- At 15, she dunked a basketball, making her the first female athlete in the state to do so.
- In 2021, the City of Chicago declared Sept. 16 "Candace Parker Day."
💭 Justin's thought bubble: It's hard to think of other hometown athletes that measure up to Parker. Even greats like Dick Butkus and Derrick Rose didn't bring a championship to Chicago.
- So long, Candace.
2. Trail Mix: Stumbling out of the gates
👋 Hi, it's Justin!
- This week's Trail Mix column serves up nuggets on the municipal election — which saw 808 early ballots cast last week!
García's rough start
When Rep. Jesús "Chuy" García entered the mayoral race, he touted his experience and connections to Chicago political giants as selling points. But recently those links have been tripping him up.
State of play: First, it was the controversy over taking money from disgraced crypto exec Sam Bankman-Fried.
- Then the revelations that García's name was referenced in the Michael Madigan corruption indictment.
- Now he's in hot water over TV ads featuring real uniformed Chicago cops, which is a no-no.
The big picture: There's plenty of time left in the campaign, but my guess is that's not how García wanted to start.
Lightfoot's recruitment flub
When I first read about a Lightfoot staffer trying to recruit volunteers through CPS, I bought the mayor's explanation that it was an "honest mistake" and routine for campaigns to recruit students.
- Well, that may be wrong.
Fact check: The Tribune has published emails suggesting that CPS clearly warned Lightfoot campaign staffers that "no recruitment for interns or [volunteers] can be done on campus or by staff/teachers" and that classroom credit cannot be provided.
- But hours later, a Lightfoot campaign statement defended it as "common practice."
- Still an honest mistake?
Pritzker plays kingmaker
When Governor Pritzker said he was staying out of the mayor's race, we assumed that meant he'd stay out of all municipal elections.
- Not true: Late last week, the governor went out of his way to endorse aldermanic candidates.
- It feels like Pritzker wants to be more than the state boss — he wants to be THE boss.
Fitness to serve
This Thursday, I'm moderating a forum in the 45th ward, featuring several candidates, including embattled incumbent Ald. Jim Gardiner.
The intrigue: In the wake of investigations, lawsuits and apologies, Gardiner's opponents are questioning his "fitness" to serve. And they don't mean his push-up skills.
- Still Gardiner is going full steam ahead on re-election plans.
3. Tips and hot links
⛪️ Vandals broke several windows at Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral in Ukrainian Village on Thursday. The church was designed by architect Louis Sullivan. (Block Club)
🏀 Bulls injured star Lonzo Ball is still "nowhere near playing," and discussions have started about shutting him down for the entire season. (Tribune)
4. Bite Club: Singapore fries
👋 Hey, it's Monica.
I've always been fascinated that you can legally hunt for waterfowl in the Southeast side neighborhood of Hegewisch.
- But I recently went there to hunt for something else — Singapore Style Fries ($3.99) from Chi Burgerbabi.
The bite: Crispy, skinny fries, sprinkled with roasted nori (seaweed) and served with a sweet, spicy and sour dipping sauce.
The verdict: The combo is deliciously addictive, especially paired with the house Cuban sandwich made with citrus orange mayo.
- Also, don't miss the lovingly made burgers.
The backstory: The dish comes to Hegewisch by way of Salvadoran chef Immar Ayala, who worked as a cook in Singapore for a few years and returned to the Southeast Side to open his own place with gourmet burgers, truffle fries and Singapore-tinged fast food.
What he's saying: "The first time I went to McDonalds in Singapore they gave me nori seasoning with my fries instead of ketchup, and I thought it was wacky but I loved it," he tells Axios.
- "The sauce recipe is secret, but it has chiles, garlic, ginger and more. You get it with different foods all over the island."
Is a new job in your future?
5. Photo of the week: Mahalia Jackson's funeral
As we start Black History Month later this week, we're featuring a photo snapped at the Arie Crown Theater on Feb. 1, 1972.
The setting: A tribute to gospel legend Mahalia Jackson after her death in Chicago at age 60.
- Luminaries at her five-hour ceremony included Aretha Franklin and Sammy Davis Jr., who was representing President Nixon.
- Jackson grew up in Chatham, died in Evergreen Park and was laid to rest in Louisiana.
Edited by Alexa Mencia and copy edited by Rob Reinalda and Keely Bastow.
🗓 Monica is excited about tonight's collaboration at Honey Butter Fried Chicken with Monchomoncheo, featuring fresh takes on the jibarito sandwich and more.
🎂 Justin is wishing his mom a Happy Birthday! It's a day late, but hey, there's no newsletter on Sundays. Yet.
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