Stories by Shanika Gunaratna

McCormick Place Debuts Midwest’s Largest Rooftop Garden

At half an acre, the rooftop garden atop McCormick Place West is the largest in the entire region. We revisit the backstory behind this little-known space. Read an article.

Sexual Assault Claims at Maine West

Five alleged victims have now come forward in a growing hazing scandal at Maine West High School in the northwest suburbs. This latest victim claims he too was sexually assaulted in a hazing ritual led by seniors on the school’s soccer team – a ritual sanctioned by the team’s coaches.

CDC: 1 in 4 Cardiovascular Deaths Avoidable

According to new data released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four cardiovascular deaths – that is, 200,000 of 800,000 – are completely preventable. What more can be done to save these lives? We gather some leading experts for a frank assessment of heart disease in America. View graphs of data on heart disease.

Rebel fighters watch over the enemy position during skirmishes last year in Aleppo, Syria. (Courtesy Creative Commons/Narciso Contreras)

America & Syria on the Brink

Having laid out his case for a limited military strike in Syria, President Obama now turns to Congress to authorize his mission. What are the odds of a U.S. strike on Syria, where President al-Assad allegedly used chemical weapons last month and killed 1,400 civilians? And is this strike within American interests after more than a decade of constant war? Elizabeth Brackett and her guests discuss the uncertain path ahead. Watch web extra videos.

IL Republican Party on Cusp of Change

Now that House Minority Leader Tom Cross has decided to step down, GOP members of the House need to choose a new leader. Today, they meet to start this process. In what direction might the party pivot? We chat with Amanda Vinicky, statehouse bureau chief at Illinois Public Radio and WUIS.

Advancing MLK’s Dream, Starting in Chicago

Where does the nation – and the city of Chicago – stand on this 50th anniversary of the March on Washington? What might Martin Luther King Jr. think of the state of racial equality in Chicago? Elizabeth Brackett and her guests discuss the past, and more importantly, the future.

Pregnancy Myths, Debunked

In Expecting Better, University of Chicago economics professor Emily Oster argues that much of the conventional wisdom about pregnancy isn’t supported by data. She joins us to pinpoint the most egregious myths. Read an excerpt.

McCormick Place Debuts Midwest’s Largest Rooftop Garden

At half an acre, the rooftop garden atop McCormick Place West is the largest in the entire region. We bring you the backstory behind this little-known space. Read an article.

Blair Kamin on Navy Pier, DePaul Arena & More

How will the Navy Pier redesign change the character of the waterfront? Is the community getting a voice in DePaul’s design plans for its massive, taxpayer-subsidized basketball arena? Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin joins us to chime in on these topics and more.

Web Extra: Jackson Jr. from our Archives

As a longtime congressman, Jesse Jackson Jr. was a regular guest on Chicago Tonight. Watch web extra videos of Jackson Jr. that illustrate the kind of political gravitas he had before this scandal erupted last year.

Learning to Talk About Death

End-of-life decisions are deeply difficult to make. That’s why Dr. Mary Mulcahy and Chicago journalist Randi Belisomo are trying to get more people to have these conversations preemptively. They join us to discuss Life Matters Media, their new initiative to get people to talk more openly about death. Read an article and watch a video essay.

Illinois State Fair

The Illinois State Fair kicks off in Springfield. Chicago Sun-Times Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney breaks down the political scene, including the start of the governor's race.

Mushroom and Kale Royal Pie

Summer Dining 101

Our panel of expert chefs and restaurant owners – Chelsea Kalberloh Jackson of Pleasant House Bakery, Dan Smith of Hearty Boys, and Cleetus Friedman of Fountainhead – weighs in on how you can get the most out of dining out this summer. View some recipes.

Impact of CPS Layoffs

About 3,000 teachers and staff have already been laid off this summer in a massive downsizing effort by the Chicago school district. What’s the big picture impact for student education? Carol Marin and her guests assess the issue.

City Budget Director on Shortfall and Plans

With a budget shortfall projected at over $300 million, what’s a city budget director to do? Alexandra Holt joins us to discuss her plan of action for the City of Chicago. Read the city's 2013 Annual Financial Analysis.

The Public/Private Pendulum

Could private dollars provide the key to building innovative, efficient infrastructure in Chicago? We chat with the new head of the city's controversial Infrastructure Trust.

Chicago’s Library Chief on Changes Ahead

We talk with Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon about his vision for bringing the city’s libraries into the 21st century.

Blair Kamin

After a one-year sabbatical at Harvard University, the Chicago Tribune’s architecture critic Blair Kamin is back in Chicago. He joins us to chime in on some hot-button architectural stories unfolding in the city.

Sauganash Mural

Artists are putting the finishing touches on a new mural in Chicago's Sauganash community on the northwest side. The mixed-media mural fills the walls of an empty bicycle underpass at the corner of Peterson Avenue and Kostner Avenue.

Harold Washington Library Enters the 3-D Printing Game

Complete with toys like 3-D printers and laser cutters, Harold Washington Library’s new maker lab is the first in Chicago that’s open to the public free of charge. We take you there. Read an article.

Tribune to Spin Off Newspapers

The Chicago Tribune has announced it’s splitting its broadcast and publishing divisions, a major shift for a company built on synergy between platforms. Lynne Marek from Crain’s Chicago Business joins us with analysis.

Toni Preckwinkle on Cook County's Fiscal Health

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has released an initial budget for the next fiscal year, and in it she estimates a $152 estimated deficit. We talk with President Preckwinkle about what to expect with Cook County’s fiscal health. Read her preliminary budget.

Grant Park’s Storied History

A new book by historian Dennis Cremin looks at the evolution of “Chicago’s front yard.” Read an excerpt.

Summer Reading Simplified

Our panel of book lovers – Rebecca Johns, Al Gini and Susan Nussbaum -- breaks down the titles you absolutely must read this summer. View their top picks.

Bikes For All

This Friday, the city unveils a new bike share program called Divvy. We talk with Gabe Klein, commissioner for the Department of Transportation, about what to expect. View a map and learn more about the program.

Metra CEO’s Severance Package Raises Eyebrows

Metra CEO Alex Clifford may receive up to $700,000 for stepping down, according to reports. His resignation raises questions about how the Metra is run – and whether the agency is using public dollars responsibly.