Stories by Paul Caine

Urban Prep’s Englewood campus. (artistmac / Flickr)

With Charter Revoked, Urban Prep Academies Fighting for Survival

After allegations of sexual and financial misconduct, the Chicago Board of Education voted to revoke Urban Prep’s charter. The state school board denied an appeal, and a CPS takeover looks imminent.

(WTTW News)

Week in Review: Johnson’s First City Council Meeting; State Budget Deal

Officials try to clamp down on holiday weekend crime. Mayor Brandon Johnson passes first City Council test. State lawmakers have a budget — we think. And a damning report on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

Argonne National Laboratory is pictured in May 2023. (Credit: Argonne National Laboratory)

Argonne National Laboratory’s Particle Accelerator Is a Crucial Tool for Researchers. It’s Getting an $815 Million Upgrade

Argonne National Laboratory has been at the cutting edge of molecular scale research for almost three decades. At the heart of that research is the Advanced Photon Source, a huge particle accelerator. 

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle appeared on “Chicago Tonight” on May 11, 2023. (WTTW News)

Preckwinkle Slams Texas Governor Over Continued Busing of Migrants: ‘If There’s a Hell, He’ll Go to It’

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle was unsparing in her criticism of Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott for continuing to bus thousands of migrants to Democratic cities such as Chicago and New York.

Charlie Beck appears on "Chicago Tonight" on May 9, 2023. (WTTW News)

Former Interim Top Cop Charlie Beck: CPD Needs to Embrace Consent Decree, Brown’s Leadership Came Up Short

Charlie Beck previously served as Los Angeles’ police chief and Chicago’s interim police superintendent. He said Chicago’s next top cop will need to make some big changes.

U.S. Rep. Jonathan Jackson appears on “Chicago Tonight” on May 4, 2023. (WTTW News)

US Rep. Jonathan Jackson Says Solution to Debt Ceiling Standoff in Speaker McCarthy’s Hands

Freshman U.S. Rep. Jonathan Jackson, who succeeded longtime U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush in Illinois’ 1st Congressional District, said the debt ceiling debate has already gone on too long and threatens the standing of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

(WTTW News)

Human Composting Could Soon Be Coming to Illinois

Most people are either buried or cremated when they die, but there is another practice that’s gaining steam. It’s called natural organic reduction or “human composting.” Illinois is poised to become the seventh state to approve the practice.

Halas Hall in Lake Forest. (Courtesy of Chicago Bears)

Bears Pass on Carter, Take Tennessee Offensive Tackle Wright in NFL Draft First Round

James “Big Cat” Williams, who played offensive tackle for the Bears from 1991 to 2002 and is co-host of the No Name Football podcast, give “Chicago Tonight” his assessment of the Bears’ draft moves.

(agilemktg1 / Flickr)

Hundreds of Thousands of Medicaid Recipients in Illinois at Risk of Losing Coverage

Emergency measures designed to ensure people didn’t lose their health care during the COVID-19 pandemic are now being phased out. People must once again prove their eligibility for the government=-backed insurance program.

An aerial rendering of a proposed Chicago Bears stadium and entertainment district in Arlington Heights. (Credit: Hart Howerton / Chicago Bears)

New Bill Aims to Jump-Start Bears Stadium Negotiations

One of the key elements of the bill is a $3 per person admission tax on all entertainment and sporting events within what the bill calls the Arlington Megaproject to help pay down debt related to the renovation of Soldier Field.

Ald. James Cappleman (46th Ward) and Ald. Harry Osterman (48th Ward) appear on “Chicago Tonight” on April 20, 2023. (WTTW News)

Outgoing Alderpeople Discuss Lightfoot Legacy, Challenges Ahead for Johnson

The last Chicago City Council meeting of this term is in the books, and for a dozen Chicago alderpeople, it was their last council meeting ever.

Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County Iris Martinez appears on “Chicago Tonight” on April 17, 2023. (WTTW News)

More Than 50 Employees at Cook County Court Clerk’s Office Leave Amid COVID-19 Fraud Probes

The employees were found to have defrauded the Paycheck Protection Program designed to help businesses stay afloat amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

(WTTW News)

Week in Review: Chicago to Host 2024 Democratic Convention; Ex-ComEd CEO Takes the Stand

Chicago nabs the 2024 DNC golden goose. Former ComEd CEO takes the stand in her own bribery trial. Cook County defendants wait years to get their cases heard. And the Blackhawks wave goodbye to Jonathan Toews.

(WTTW News)

Spotlight Politics: CEO to Testify as ‘ComEd Four’ Defense Begins; Johnson Names Transition Team

The prosecution rests its case in the corruption trial of the “ComEd Four.” The challenges facing Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson. And Chicago is named to host the DNC in 2024.

The University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute will now be known as the Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures, West Asia and North Africa. (WTTW News)

The OI Gets Rebranded, Drops ‘Oriental’ From Name

“The new name is the Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures, West Asia and North Africa,” said Theo van den Hout, the museum’s interim director.

Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas at campaign events. (WTTW News)

Latino Voters Overlooked by Campaigns Could Swing Mayoral Election

Latino voters could be the crucial swing vote that decides who will be Chicago’s next mayor, but according to a recent poll, many Latinos said they haven’t heard from either of the candidates ahead of Tuesday’s runoff election.

(WTTW News)

Public Safety a Top Issue for Chicago Business Leaders in Mayor’s Race

The Chicago business community has been battered a bit over the past few years — from COVID-19 closures to fleeing corporate headquarters. For many business leaders, public safety weighs heavily in the conversation about Chicago’s business future.

Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson will compete in the mayoral runoff. (WTTW)

Latest Poll Shows Chicago Mayor’s Race Too Close to Call

The race for Chicago mayor enters its final stretch. Political speechwriter, debate strategist and senior lecturer at Northwestern University Jason DeSanto breaks down the latest developments in a tightening race.

University of Chicago paleontologist Neil Shubin is gearing up for his next expedition. (Courtesy of Neil Shubin)

Chicago Paleontologist Neil Shubin Prepares for Return to the Arctic

The long-delayed trip is a return to the Canadian Arctic and an area where University of Chicago paleontologist Neil Shubin made a career-defining discovery back in 2004.

(WTTW News)

Week in Review: Mayoral Runoff Race Heats Up, Bears Make Moves

The tension rises between Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson in the race for Chicago mayor. Madigan recordings revealed in week one of the “ComEd Four” trial. Northwestern moves on in the NCAA tournament. And the Bears start their revamp.

(WTTW News)

Spotlight Politics: Fresh Endorsements in Mayor’s Race, ‘ComEd Four’ Trial Begins

Fresh endorsements in the race for Chicago mayor. The trial of the so-called "ComEd Four" is underway. And police Superintendent David Brown prepares to step down. Our politics team weighs in on those stories and more.

(WTTW News)

Lab-Leak Theory Resurfaces as House Republicans Investigate COVID-19 Origins

The U.S. Department of Energy and the FBI both assess that COVID-19 may have leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China. Yet the Energy Department has “low confidence” in its assessment, while FBI director Christopher Wray said the agency has “moderate confidence” in its.

The lobby of The Rookery building. (Meredith Francis / WTTW)

From Skyscrapers to Worship Houses, New Special Explores ‘Most Beautiful’ Places in Chicago

In a new WTTW special, Geoffrey Baer takes viewers on a tour of some of Chicago’s most beautiful places. Some may be familiar, but others less so.

(WTTW News)

New Police District Councils Aim to Build Better Relationship Between Officers and Community

Starting in May, each of Chicago’s 22 police districts will be overseen by a three-person council. The goal is to help build trust in a beleaguered department that is under a court-ordered consent decree aimed at forcing reform.

(WTTW News)

Mayoral Candidates Hone Messages Ahead of Tuesday’s Election

While polling on the Chicago mayoral race has been somewhat inconsistent, what appears clear from multiple polls is that incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot and challengers Paul Vallas, Brandon Johnson and U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García have pulled clear from the pack.

The image on the left is by artist Karla Ortiz; the image on the right was generated by AI mimicking Ortiz’s artistic style. (Courtesy Ben Zhao / University of Chicago)

University of Chicago Develops Tool to Protect Artists from AI Threat

Powerful AI models that can realistically simulate the style of virtually any artist have many in the art world worried. In fact, some artists believe the technology has for them become an existential threat.