September 21, 2022
🏙 Happy Wednesday! Today is National New York Day. Meh, we'll pass.
⛈ Today's weather: A slight chance of thunderstorms in the morning, with a high of 81.
🎂 Happy birthday to our Axios Chicago member Todd Young!
Today's newsletter is 692 words — a 2.5-minute read. It was edited by Everett Cook and copy edited by Rob Reinalda.
1 big thing: Mental health emergencies
👋 Hey, it's Monica. A few weeks ago a friend called with an urgent question.
What happened: She saw someone having a mental health crisis on a street in Logan Square and wanted to call for help without involving police.
- I advised her to call the new 988 mental health hotline, but her call was routed to 911, and the police came anyway.
- My bad.
Context: I misunderstood the role of 988 operators, who I thought could dispatch mobile help. They can't.
- Instead, they offer assistance to people in crisis over the phone.
Why it matters: Traditional sirens and police officers aren't always the ideal solution to a mental health crisis. Police responses to such situations have sometimes ended in tragedy.
- But the city isn't currently set up to dispatch mental health professionals to all emergencies that could use them.
The intrigue: Some emerging programs can dispatch specialists to people in crisis.
- The city's Crisis Assistance Response and Engagement (CARE) pilot launched last fall to dispatch mental health professionals, with or without crisis intervention trained police officers, through 911.
- It currently serves Uptown, Lakeview, North Center, Auburn Gresham, Chatham, Gage Park, West Elsdon, West Lawn, Chicago Lawn and West Englewood.
- Officials say they have already responded to nearly 400 calls without any use of force, arrests or significant injuries to staff.
What's more: A new Mobile Crisis Response Team was launched this summer by nonprofit Thresholds.
- Contacted through (773) 572-5464, the program can send help to three ZIP codes covering parts of Lakeview, Uptown, Andersonville and Edgewater.
Yes, but: Both services are available only on weekdays during business hours, which is not the only time people go through a crisis.
The big picture: Other cities are piloting similar programs while collecting data on their efficacy and potential for expansion.
2. Chart of the day: Price increases
Chicago's year-over-year Consumer Price Index increases are higher than the national average.
- New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia had lower CPI increases.
- But two of them have a higher cost of living than our city to begin with. So there's that.
3. Tips and hot links
🏠 Chicago Coalition for the Homeless says the feds dramatically undercounted the city's 2020 unhoused population by ignoring those temporarily staying with others. (Tribune)
🏢 An explosion in a 35-unit Austin apartment building — one that has failed 12 inspections since 2010 — sent eight people to the hospital yesterday. (BlockClub)
🚨 A police source says the 3-year-old rescued from Lake Michigan on Monday was seen on surveillance video being thrown into the lake by a relative. (WGN)
💰 The Chicago Department of Water Management paid a $950K settlement to a former employee after his harassment suit charged the department, and the son of former Ald. Bernard Hansen, with "racist behavior." (SunTimes)
4. "Fiddler" plays grandly on Lyric stage
👋 Monica here. I recently caught the North American premiere of a spectacular production of "Fiddler on the Roof" by Lyric Opera of Chicago.
- First staged in Berlin in 2017, the production by director Barrie Kosky supercharges the Tony Award-winning musical with a nearly 100-person ensemble, vibrant dance numbers, ingenious sets and a fifth-grade fiddler who scooters onstage in a green hoodie.
- Despite its grandeur, the production works equally well in the musical's small, quiet moments.
What's more: The Tribune's Chris Jones called it "breathtaking."
If you go: Tickets start at $40, with performances through Oct. 7.
Now hiring: New job openings
5. Where's Monica? Cantigny Park
Nearly 100 of you guessed correctly that Monica was at Cantigny Park in Wheaton.
Context: Pronounced can-TEE-nee, the huge estate was home to Col. Robert McCormick, who ran the Tribune for four decades until his death in 1955.
Fun facts: McCormick made Tribune writers use simplified spellings — like thru and tho for through and though — which the paper continued until 1974.
- His maternal grandfather, Joseph Medill, served as Tribune editor and as mayor at different times. Can you imagine that today?
Quick take: On my recent first visit to Cantigny, I was wowed by the grounds and the current exhibit of Alebrijes, artistic depictions of imaginary creatures by four Mexican artists; it runs through October.
👏 Congrats to Jim L. and Lisa S., whose names we picked out of a WWI helmet to win Axios swag at our next live event!
🎻 Monica is toiling away as a solo newsletter writer while Justin attends important conference panels, lectures and parties in California. Cue the violins.