Stories by Blair Paddock

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As of last month, the transgender military ban was repealed.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.

Where Does Social Media Fall in Free Speech Debate?

(LoboStudioHamburg / Pixabay)

President Donald Trump is no longer allowed to post on several social media platforms. We discuss the intersection of social media and free speech — and how high-profile bans like this could shape the future of sharing.

Advocacy Group, Lawmakers Team Up to Support Transgender Chicagoans

(Photo by Nate Isaac on Unsplash)

A record number of transgender and gender-nonconforming people were killed in 2020. A local advocacy group is now working alongside lawmakers to create a fund that will give trans people who were killed a dignified burial.

Providers Hope Telehealth Becomes the Norm After COVID-19

(Anna Shvets / Pexels)

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid crisis has worsened in Cook County, with more than 1,500 opiate-related deaths this year. To try and bring these numbers down, some groups see telehealth as an accessible way to bring treatment to people. 

Foundation Aims to Change How Long-Term Care Facilities Are Ranked

(WTTW News)

Nursing homes have been hit especially hard by the pandemic. One Chicago-based foundation is trying to change the way these facilities are ranked — a move they say will put the focus on the care of residents.

How to Manage Your Mental Health During Stressful Times

Winter is on its way, and with it comes holiday stress, seasonal depression and — this year — concerns about COVID-19. We get advice on staying mentally healthy during the pandemic.

How Faith Groups Are Bringing Sermons to Screens This Holiday Season

(RJA1988 / Pixabay)

Hanukkah and Christmas are held during some of the shortest days of the year — meaning, they’re also the darkest. But these holidays offer light through menorahs and advent candles, and now, the glow of a computer screen.

Maria Cerda, a Trailblazer Who Inspired Latino Leaders, Dies at 86

Maria Cerda (Courtesy of the Cerda family)

In the 1960s, Maria Cerda became the first Latina member of the Chicago Board of Education and a pioneering advocate for bilingual classes. We talk with her son about her legacy in Chicago and across the nation.

COVID-19 Pandemic Has Shifted How Veterans Access Health Care

(WTTW News)

The coronavirus has hit every class of citizen hard, and on this Veterans Day, we look at how it has affected military service members and veterans.

Cook County Judge To Be Illinois’ 1st Openly Transgender Elected Official

(WTTW News)

History was made in Illinois last week when Jill Rose Quinn was elected into office. She joins us in discussion.

What Role Will Polling Play in the Next Election?

(WTTW News)

A landslide from Joe Biden was predicted, but that has not been the case. How are pollsters justifying the continued use of polls?

Many Young People Stepping Up as Poll Workers for 2020 Election

(WTTW News)

A high-turnout election in the middle of a pandemic that is surging across the country presents a host of challenges. How state and local election authorities are working to fill the void.

Chevy Humphrey Makes History as New Leader of MSI Chicago

The Museum of Science and Industry (WTTW News)

She’ll be the first woman and the first Black American to be president and CEO of the Museum of Science and Industry when she starts her new job in January. Chevy Humphrey joins us in discussion.

How Partisan Agendas Are Driving Some Local ‘News’ Websites in Illinois

(MoteOo / Pixabay)

What may look like news websites are instead thinly veiled organizations pushing partisan agendas without journalistic standards, according to investigations from the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. 

Illinois’ Top Doctors Prepare for Winter as COVID-19 Rates Climb

(WTTW News)

As temperatures drop and the statewide positivity rate climbs, we discuss the coronavirus pandemic with top public health officials Dr. Ngozi Ezike and Dr. Allison Arwady.

Community Groups Reteach History of Christopher Columbus

An empty pedestal in Grant Park in July 2020, where a statue of Christopher Columbus stood recently. (WTTW News)

After a summer of social unrest and calls to remove some monuments, activists are still pushing for the city to change the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day. How some groups envision reteaching the history of Christopher Columbus.