Stories by Blair Paddock

Why a Proposed Natural Gas Pipeline is Drawing Controversy

Pipes for the Keystone Pipeline, 2009. (ShannonPatrick17 / Wikimedia Commons)

A bill heading to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk would provide funding for a proposed natural gas pipeline in a village outside Kankakee. Supporters say the pipeline could provide economic growth for the area, but others are concerned about the plan’s environmental impact.

With Ban Set to Expire, Advocates Hope Rental Assistance Will Stave off Evictions

The Chicago Emergency Rental Assistance Program application window closes June 8

(WTTW News)

The Emergency Rental Assistance Program provides grants to cover 15 months of missed rental payments. By August, the eviction ban is set to be lifted in Illinois. Will this assistance be enough to keep people afloat?

Some Not Ready to Give Up Masks Despite Relaxed Guidelines

The CDC relaxes mask requirements for fully vaccinated people. But what about those who don’t want to give up masks? (WTTW News)

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday lifted the state’s mask mandate for fully vaccinated residents. But not everyone is ready to follow the new guidance. We talk about the future of masks with Jocelyn Carter, director of clinical training at DePaul University.

Chicago Expands Vaccine Eligibility for Youth Ages 12 to 15

Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of Chicago’s public health department, announces all city-operated COVID-19 vaccination sites will be open to children ages 12 and up during a news conference on May 11, 2021. (WTTW News)

Vaccine eligibility is expanding. We speak with Dr. Allison Bartlett, a pediatrician and associate professor of the pediatrics section of infectious diseases at University of Chicago Medicine, to learn more about vaccinating young people.

Group Works to ‘Redefine the Narrative’ and Reduce Number of Women in Prison

(WTTW News)

At the end of 2020, about 1,400 women were in the Illinois prison system, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections. One group is aiming to cut that number in half.

How to Stay Informed and Avoid Burnout from 24-7 Media

Protesters gather in Logan Square on April 16, 2021 to denounce the police killing of 13-year-old Adam Toledo. (WTTW News)

Over the past year, news coverage about traumatic topics like the pandemic and fatal police shootings have caused many to feel burnt out. Is there a balance between staying informed and not feeling overwhelmed by distressing stories?

At What Point Does a COVID-19 Infection Become a Disability?

(Courtesy of Northwestern Medicine)

COVID-19 has put some people on disability benefits, but others say the system isn't built for people with the virus. We discuss the obstacles people with long COVID-19 symptoms are facing.

COPA Investigation Just Beginning as Community Responds to Toledo Shooting Video

A still image from a two-minute compilation video released April 15 by the Chicago Police Department highlights the location of a gun at the scene of the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo by a Chicago police officer on March 29. (WTTW News via Chicago Police Department)

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability delivered on its promise to publicly release video of the fatal police shooting of Adam Toledo within 60 days, but the agency’s work has just begun. What’s next for the investigation.

Another Spike in COVID-19 Cases Shows Clear Pattern, Cause for Caution

Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said the latest surge in COVID-19 cases is being heavily driven by younger Chicagoans—18-29 years old leading. (WTTW News)

A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that easing restrictions on indoor dining in restaurants can increase COVID-19 cases and deaths. After easing restrictions in Chicago, the city’s positivity rate is again on the rise. 

Universal Basic Income Skeptics Say Cash Should Go to Existing Services

Last week, Chicago aldermen approved a resolution calling for the city to use dollars from federal relief funds for a basic income pilot program. (WTTW News)

Chicago aldermen recently approved a resolution calling for the city to use federal relief funds for a basic income pilot program. Some organizations have already been testing out the idea, but skeptics are looking to build up social services instead.

Alderman Calls for Equity in Metered Parking Along Lakefront

A file photo of Montrose Beach in Chicago. (WTTW News)

Metered parking is already in place at lakefront destinations like Rainbow Beach, North Avenue Beach, 31st Street Beach, 63rd Street Beach and Foster Avenue Beach. Now it’s coming to Montrose Harbor — and some residents aren’t happy about it.

Atlanta Attacks Raise Concerns About Increasing Violence Against Women

We discuss a rise in racial and gender-based violence — and resources for those in need. (WTTW News)

A mass shooting in Atlanta last week has left Asian women across the country heartbroken and scared for their safety. We discuss a rise in racial and gender-based violence — and resources for those in need.

Cook County’s New Public Defender Talks Goals, Challenges

Sharone Mitchell Jr. appears on “Chicago Tonight” via Zoom on Monday, March 22, 2021. (WTTW News)

Sharone Mitchell Jr. is coming in at a turbulent time: Jury trials resumed Monday with a massive backlog of cases, and a controversial criminal justice bill was signed by the governor last month. All of this, of course, comes against the backdrop of COVID-19.

Mia Neal Makes Oscar History in Makeup and Hair Category

A reference photo, above, for inspiration and the results, below, of Mia Neal’s work on the set of “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” (Courtesy of Impact24)

Ma Rainey made history as the “mother of blues.” Her music and her story are highlighted in the film “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” which depicts a recording session in 1920s Chicago. Not too far from Chicago, Academy Awards history is being made by a native of Gary, Indiana.

Daylight Saving Debate: Polls Shows Americans Split Over Springing Forward

(Photo by David Mao on Unsplash)

Having trouble springing forward? A professor of sleep medicine offers some tips to help you adjust to daylight saving time.

Target on the Mag Mile? Potential Move Stirs Controversy

Macy’s is departing Water Tower Place. Will Target move in? (WTTW News file photo)

Rumors that the Minnesota-based retailer Target was sniffing around Water Tower Place on the Magnificent Mile for a potential new store led to some harsh backlash. What does it say about the future of the landmark shopping district as vacancy rates soar?

Jennifer Pritzker: Biden’s Repeal of Transgender Military Ban Good for Everybody

As of last month, the transgender military ban was repealed. We talk with retired Col. Jennifer Pritzker about the importance of this move.

Infectious Disease Doctor on Indoor Dining, COVID-19 Variants

Dr. Susan Bleasdale appears on “Chicago Tonight” via Zoom on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021. (WTTW News)

Bars and restaurants in Chicago can now expand their capacity for indoor service. We discuss that and other COVID-19 developments with Dr. Susan Bleasdale, medical director of infection prevention and control at University of Illinois Health.

Illinois Education Officials Release New Teaching Standards

(WTTW News)

The Illinois State Board of Education is working on a new set of teaching standards for what it calls “culturally sensitive and responsive teaching.” We hear about the possible pros and cons of the new rule.

How the Pandemic Has Affected the Mental Health of Young People

(WTTW News)

Young people have had a lot to deal with over the past year, from remote learning to finding work. But there are also mental health challenges, and some doctors are showing an increase in the number of young people experiencing stress, depression and anxiety.

New Book ‘Halfway Home’ Explores Life After Incarceration

Stateville Correctional Center (WTTW News)

In Illinois there are more than 1,400 laws regulating the lives of people who are formerly incarcerated. A new book by Reuben Jonathan Miller examines these laws and how they affect the lives of people with felonies once they are out of prison.

Ageism and the Pandemic: How COVID-19 Exacerbates Tech Issues for Older Adults

(WTTW News via CNN)

One week ago, Illinois entered Phase 1B of its COVID-19 vaccine rollout, which includes people ages 65 and older. But signing up to get the vaccine can be complicated — especially for older adults.

How Service Industry Workers Feel About the Return of Indoor Dining

(WTTW News)

Indoor dining and drinking is again allowed at bars and restaurants in Chicago and Cook County. The move could bring businesses much-needed cash during the pandemic, but some in the industry think the risks outweigh the benefits.

What Chicago is Doing to Address a Spike in Carjackings

(WTTW News)

After a surge in carjackings last year, Chicago has seen more than 160 already in 2021. We hear from an alderman, a police officer and a community organizer about their efforts to end the spike.

Lawmakers Discuss Pros, Cons of Ending Cash Bail

(WTTW News)

A massive criminal justice bill is heading to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk. Approved last week by the Illinois Senate and House, the measure covers everything from police use of force to body cameras. It would also end the practice of cash bail.

Kim Foxx on Capitol Riots, Police Union and Reform

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx appears on “Chicago Tonight” via Zoom on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. (WTTW News)

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx shares her reaction to the riots at the U.S. Capitol, police reform and more in a one-on-one conversation.