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Chicago stories we couldn’t stop watching

By Sidney Madden | @sidney_madden_

Happy (almost) New Year, City Cast friends! 

This year went by, well, fast. And while there were so many stories that caught our attention, here are a few we couldn’t stop thinking about 👇


If you remember back at the beginning of 2021 when vaccines started becoming available, there was a period where you had to go full investigative reporter just to find an appointment. So, it was only a matter of time until we heard about someone in power skirting the system. 

That is exactly what was happening at Loretto Hospital in Austin. 

Loretto was the first institution to administer a vaccine in Chicago in December 2020. By February 2021, they were back in the news. 

While Black and brown residents were most impacted by the pandemic, Block Club Chicago and the Better Government Association reported that Loretto executives had been giving out doses to their well-connected homies: owners of a Gold Coast steakhouse and luxury watch shop, suburban church-goers, and Trump Tower residents (where former Loretto CFO Anosh Ahmed lived).

The FBI is currently investigating whether executives should face even greater penalties than losing their jobs. 

This story became another key example of how resources move through this city. While residents were scrambling and in some cases dying, resources intended for a hard-hit community made their way into more affluent communities due to cronyism and corruption. That seems, more times than not, to be the Chicago way.

—Jacoby Cochran 
City Cast host & cynical Chicagoan


My colleagues will tell you: I love talking about redistricting.

This once-every-decade process happens at the congressional, state, and city levels according to the census. These maps help determine the distribution of voters’ power.

Illinois is losing a seat in Congress. Lawsuits were filed over Latinx representation in Springfield. Alders in Chicago still haven’t agreed on a new ward map.

While politicians may have duked it out behind closed doors, we the people will start to see the consequences of these new maps come election season.

And that’s soon — the state primary is in June 2022.

I know the politicking and border squabbles can feel dull and obtuse. But people in neighborhoods like Englewood and Chinatown can tell you why it’s crucial for your community to be represented in political maps. And I’m heartened to see Chicagoans who are pushing for a more transparent and inclusive map-making process.

—Simone Alicea
City Cast producer & sometime cartographer


I usually have a hard time believing residents care about the inside-baseball, political theater of ward conflicts as much as local news makes it seem.

But it was hard in 2021 for anyone to look away from the 45th Ward.

Due to great reporting by Block Club Chicago and the People’s Fabric, we saw how freshman Ald. Jim Gardiner not-so-diplomatically handled his Northwest Side constituents who opposed him.

And some of it was just bizarre. Like the case of the lost cellphone.

Gardiner has been sued by constituents who claim he used city resources to try to hurt a resident’s reputation, faced ethics violations for withholding city services from opponents, and has been the subject of an FBI probe

The ward, which covers Jefferson Park, Old Irving Park, and part of Portage Park, faces clashes between newer, more progressive residents, and an old guard of predominantly white, middle-class, city workers who saw their neighborhood as insulated from the rest of the city. 

The ward drama may seem like the stuff of “Law and Order,” but taxpayers deserve alders who look out for them instead of making threats. 

—Carrie Shepherd
City Cast lead producer & has friends in Portage Park


I’m not the biggest sports fan, but the Chicago Sky could turn me. 

When I learned two-time MVP forward and Naperville Central alum Candace Parker was on the roster for the already-stacked team, I saw hometown hero potential. 

After a seven-game losing streak in June, the Sky turned it up during its third consecutive playoff appearance, beating the top-seeded Connecticut Sun. 

Women’s sports don’t get enough attention, so watching the city celebrate the Sky’s victory during the WNBA’s 25th season felt extra, well, special.

Now, I’m picking out Sky swag and wondering if Parker is gonna spill more tea about her wife and baby on the way 👀

It’s not just me: Sky execs say season-ticket sales have doubled in 2022.

—Sidney Madden
City Cast writer & budding basketball fan


1. This West Side staple has served hundreds of small businesses, and anchors the city’s second Magnificent Mile ➡️ Little Village Discount Mall

2. How many Chicago alderpeople are currently under indictment?  ➡️ Three

3. Chicago’s oldest Black rodeo, the Broken Arrow Speed and Action Rodeo, is held in what South Side neighborhood? ➡️ South Shore

4. This Rogers Park high school is home to refugee students from all over the world, and more than 40 languages are spoken ➡️ Sullivan High School

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