Good morning, Chicago.
From the moment Amara Harris was accused of stealing another student’s AirPods at Naperville North High School, she has insisted that it was a mix-up, not a theft. Still, the school resource officer wrote Amara a ticket in 2019 for violating a municipal ordinance against theft. For two and a half years, she has repeatedly gone to court to assert her innocence, even delaying her plans to attend on-campus classes at her dream school, Spelman College.
Now, in a rare and dramatic example of the impact of school ticketing, the case is headed for a jury trial, with the next court date on Tuesday. Amara and her mother have racked up far more in legal bills than the city’s highest fine would have cost them.
“I am innocent. I am fighting because I don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” said Amara, now 19. “Why would I say I’m innocent to everyone but then I lie in court and say I’m guilty? It doesn’t make sense to me.”
This spring, in the investigation “The Price Kids Pay,” ProPublica and the Chicago Tribune exposed the widespread practice of school officials and local police working together to ticket Illinois students for misbehavior at school, resulting in fines that can cost hundreds of dollars. Ticketing students for their behavior in school skirts a state law that bans schools from disciplining students with monetary fines. Immediately after the report was published, state officials including Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the state schools superintendent said they intended to put a stop to the practice.
The Tribune’s Jennifer Smith Richards and ProPublica’s Jodi S. Cohen report that Amara’s case demonstrates the extraordinary effort it can take to argue against a ticket in a system built for assembly-line justice. Hers is the first case the Tribune and ProPublica have encountered that could go before a jury.
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Many parents are watching closely this week as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider whether to authorize vaccines for children younger than 5 — the only age group that’s still not eligible for vaccines.
But uncertainty remains about how some young Illinois children will get the shots considering that Illinois pharmacists aren’t allowed to vaccinate children under 3, many schools are closed for the summer and not all pediatricians plan to offer them.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker launches an East Coast trip Friday, ostensibly to sell Chicago as a 2024 presidential convention site and campaign for Democrats, but a stop in New Hampshire has stirred presidential speculation and criticism from his Republicans opponents.
Pritzker, at an unrelated news conference, stopped short of eschewing any future interest in seeking the party’s presidential nomination. “I can’t tell you anything other than I love the job that I have. It’s why I’m running for reelection as governor of our state, and I intend to continue to do a good job for the people of the state for the next four years,” a smiling Pritzker said.
In a statement released days after the death of U.S. Rep. Sean Casten’s 17-year-old daughter, Gwen, her family said the teenager was happy, healthy and passionate about music and activism. The statement, signed by Sean Casten, his wife, Kara, and their daughter Audrey, said the only thing the family knows about her death is that it was “peaceful.”
Gwen Casten died earlier this week at the family’s Downers Grove home, authorities said. Downers Grove police were called to the home just before 7 a.m. Monday and determined the teenager was deceased.
The most popular vehicle in the U.S. is going electric, and it’s coming to Chicago. The Ford F-150 Lightning, an electric version of the best-selling pickup truck, has begun trickling into the city, with demo versions headed for nearly every Chicago-area dealership, and a few vehicles being delivered to the first customers on a very long waiting list.
Starting at $40,000, the F-150 Lightning may steal some thunder from Rivian, the homegrown EV truck manufacturer that stumbled out of the gate with a slow production rampup. More broadly, the Lightning is being heralded as a potential game-changer for electric vehicles, incorporating the nascent technology into a utilitarian truck that can haul cargo and rival the speed of a Porsche.
“The summer movie lesson is clear,” writes Tribune critic Michael Phillips. “Send retro flyboys up in the air and teach ‘em a lesson about what truly matters in life on the ground. Besides winning. Winning comes first! But winning as a team.”
It worked for Tom Cruise in “Top Gun: Maverick.” And it works for Disney-Pixar’s swift and often wonderful “Lightyear.” The movie may not do anything to replenish Pixar’s intellectual property but has the wit and animated panache not to trash its existing IP, i.e., Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear, the well-jawed intergalactic protector introduced a generation ago, in plastic form, in “Toy Story.”