Stories by Nick Blumberg

The Week in Review: Vaccine Eligibility Expanding Monday

The state of Illinois will make coronavirus vaccines available to everyone 16 and older, a week ahead of the city – and Gov. J.B. Pritzker says if Chicagoans don’t want to wait, they’re welcome at state-supported sites in the suburbs. (WTTW News)

COVID-19 surges and vaccine eligibility expands. The vice president hits town. Strained relations between Mayor Lightfoot and Gov. Pritzker. And CTU may delay a return to class for high schoolers.

Spotlight Politics: Vaccination Rollout Speeding Up

(WTTW News)

President Joe Biden said all adults in the U.S. should be eligible for the coronavirus vaccine by April 19. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city will follow suit. Our politics team takes on that story and more in this week’s roundtable.

Amazon Employees Stage Walkout at Distribution Center Over Working Conditions

The Amazon facility in Gage Park known as DIL3. (WTTW News)

A group of Amazon employees walked out of the mega-retailer’s Gage Park distribution center Wednesday morning, calling on the company to stop understaffing the facility and to provide accommodations for people working a 10.5-hour overnight “megacycle” shift.

Team Overhauling Former Michael Reese Site Aims for Community Connections

Earlier this year, the Chicago Plan Commission approved a $3.8 billion effort to overhaul the former Michael Reese Hospital site in Bronzeville on the city’s South Side. (Rendering courtesy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill)

The Chicago Plan Commission approved a $3.8 billion effort earlier this year to overhaul the former Michael Reese Hospital site in Bronzeville, just west of the lakefront on 31st Street. The team behind the development is thinking big and working toward community buy-in.

Pritzker Signs Legislation to Cap High-Interest Payday, Title Loans

Legislation awaiting Gov. J.B. Pritker's signature could shut down the payday lending industry in Illinois. Payday proponents say that could lead to a host of bigger problems. (WTTW News)

The Illinois Predatory Lending Prevention Act was recently signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker. The legislation had support from organizations around the state, but critics say the law could shut down the payday lending industry in Illinois, leading to a host of bigger problems. 

Amazon Employees in Chicago Demand Accommodations for ‘Brutal’ Shift

Amazon employee Bekim Mehmedi speaks with WTTW News during a demonstration at facility in Gage Park on Thursday, April 1, 2021.

As workers in Alabama decide whether or not to unionize, Amazon employees in Chicago push for accommodations for a long overnight shift.

New Buyers Step Up to Block Hedge Fund from Control of Tribune Publishing

The Chicago Tribune Freedom Center printing facility along the Chicago River. (WTTW News)

Two more investors have stepped forward in a last-ditch effort to prevent hedge fund Alden Global Capital from taking control of Tribune Publishing, which owns the Chicago Tribune and eight other newspapers. We discuss the latest developments.

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Albany Park

City’s ‘Hidden Gem’ faces down COVID-19, anti-Asian hate

Businesses line a street in the Albany Park neighborhood. (WTTW News)

For the latest in our reporting series, we visit the diverse Northwest Side community to see how it’s supporting Asian American residents amid a rise in anti-Asian rhetoric and violence. 

Chicago Loop Alliance Plans to Close State Street to Traffic on Sundays this Summer

Pedestrian traffic on State Street. (WTTW News)

Sundays on State would shut down the thoroughfare from Lake to Madison streets on Sundays for up to 12 weeks, starting in July. It’s just one part of the Chicago Loop Alliance’s efforts to bring pedestrian traffic and retail dollars back to the city center as Chicago’s COVID-19 recovery continues.

The Week in Review: Vaccine Eligibility Expanding Soon

Gov. J.B. Pritzker gives an update on the coronavirus and announces new reopening guidelines on Thursday, March 18, 2021 (WTTW News)

Gov. Pritzker’s plans for a full reopen. A West Side hospital in trouble for Trump Tower vaccinations. The Bears’ new quarterback lands with a thud, and Loyola and Illinois tip off the NCAA tourney.

Artists and Audiences Have ‘Cautious Optimism’ About Return of Live Theater

Empty seats await the return of Chicago theatergoers. (WTTW News)

Chicago is looking forward to live theater again as vaccines roll out and infection rates remain low. Here’s what you can expect — and when.

Local Leaders Talk Violence Prevention, Healing After Mass Shooting

A mass shooting left two people dead early Sunday, March 14, 2021 in Chicago’s Park Manor neighborhood. (WTTW News)

Calls for accountability and more community resources after a mass shooting early Sunday in Chicago’s Park Manor neighborhood left two people dead and wounded 13 others. Where do we go from here?

CTA Approves $1.75M Settlement With Cyclist Struck by Bus Driver

A view of Wells Street looking south to the intersection of Hubbard Street in River North, where  police say a cyclist and CTA bus collided on June 6, 2019. (Google Maps)

The Chicago Transit Authority’s board of directors on Wednesday approved a $1.75 million settlement with Joseph Morgan, who was struck and run over by a CTA bus in June 2019 while riding his bike in River North.

The Pros and Pitfalls of an Increasingly Cashless Society

(WTTW News)

The Illinois Tollway last month announced that it would no longer accept cash tolls, making permanent a change it rolled out early in the pandemic. But does a cashless society leave some people out?

Evanston Mayor, Former State Lawmaker Daniel Biss on Tackling National Issues at the Local Level

Daniel Biss (WTTW News via Zoom)

One of Chicago's most populous suburbs is soon to have a leader who’s familiar statewide. Former state legislator and gubernatorial candidate Daniel Biss won the election for mayor of Evanston this week with nearly 74% of the vote. 

How One Hospital Chaplain Maintains His Ministry During COVID-19: ‘This is a Very Hopeful Time’

Gottlieb Chapel (Courtesy Gottlieb Memorial Hospital)

Hospitals don’t just offer health care. Many offer care for the human spirit as well as the human body. We talk with a chaplain at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park about the challenges of ministering to patients and families during a pandemic.

Hunger Strike Against Southeast Side Metal Scrapper Reaches Eighth Day

(WTTW News)

A group of hunger strikers is protesting metal recycler General Iron opening up on the Southeast Side. We hear from opponents and a company representative.

Metra’s Eye-Popping Practice Keeps Trains Running During Frigid Weather

(Courtesy of Metra)

The Chicago area saw dangerously cold weather over the weekend, and the week ahead doesn’t appear to offer much relief. But it takes more than a cold snap to bring the city to a standstill.

Ride-Share Drivers Face Carjackings, COVID-19 and Uncertain Income. A Fight Over Employment Status Could Be Next

(WTTW News)

Amid a surge in carjackings, drivers for ride-hailing companies have been working in close contact with other people during the pandemic. Meanwhile, those companies are gearing up for a fight over whether gig workers should be classified as employees.

Dangerously Cold Weather Expected to Hit Chicago Area

A snow-covered street in Chicago on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021 remains following a winter storm that blanketed parts of the area with more than a foot of snow over the weekend. (WTTW News)

After getting walloped by two big snowstorms, the area is now bracing for bitter cold later this week. We asked Argonne National Laboratory climate scientist Scott Collis what to expect, and what’s driving the arctic chill.

Lakefront Trail Now Continues Over Chicago River; Full Navy Pier Flyover on Track for April Completion

A new section of the Navy Pier flyover opened Monday, Feb. 1, 2021 over the Chicago River on the east sidewalk of the Lake Shore Drive Bridge. (Credit: Chicago Department of Transportation)

After years of work, pedestrians and cyclists can now stay on the lakefront trail as it crosses the Chicago River – though the full Navy Pier flyover isn’t finished just yet.

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Jefferson Park

(WTTW News)

The Northwest Side community of Jefferson Park is known as the gateway to Chicago, in part because it’s a transit hub. The area’s thought of by some as typical “bungalow belt” Chicago. It’s predominantly middle class, but recently there’s been an uptick in homelessness. 

CTU Vice President on Negotiations With CPS Over In-Person Learning

(WTTW News)

Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Stacy Davis Gates said as Illinois moves into Phase 1B of vaccinations, a category that includes teachers, city leadership should prioritize staff at Chicago Public Schools.

Distribution Centers Are Growing Fast, But Some Worry About Inequitable Impact

(WTTW News)

The number of distribution centers being built in the Chicago area is on the rise. Supporters say they can create jobs in places that have long faced disinvestment and unemployment. But critics say they aren’t always good jobs.

CTA Bypass, Coming Soon, A Major Milestone for Red-Purple Line Overhaul

(WTTW News)

The CTA’s overhaul of the Red and Purple lines is well underway. This month, crews are putting into a place a major piece of that redevelopment effort – and passengers will start to see the benefits of the project later this year.

Bears Face Saints in Wild Card Matchup

Former Bears offensive lineman James “Big Cat” Williams previews the Bears matchup Sunday against the Saints.