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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Matt Moore

Car insurance prices soar statewide, city responds to arrivals of immigrants and more in your Chicago news roundup

Illinois drivers have been hit with more than $527 million in auto insurance rate increases since January, according to a new analysis. That’s on top of big increases in premiums last year. (Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file)

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about an eight-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

— Matt Moore (@MattKenMoore)

Weather 🌤️

This afternoon will be partly sunny with a high near 71 degrees and wind gusts as high as 20 mph. Tonight — mostly cloudy with a chance of showers and a low near 56. Tomorrow will be partly sunny with a high near 75 with a chance of showers. There’s a chance of thunderstorms forecast for Sunday with a high near 82.

Top story

Car insurance prices soar in Illinois, Rep. Will Guzzardi aiming to crack down on insurers

The five biggest auto insurers in Illinois have raised automobile insurance rates a whopping $527 million since January, an analysis by two consumer groups shows.

That follows about $1.1 billion in rate increases last year by the top 10 Illinois car insurers.

The analysis by the nonprofit Illinois Public Interest Research Group and Consumer Federation of America looked at auto insurance rate increases by the five largest companies in Illinois: State Farm, Allstate, Progressive, Geico and Country Financial, which together make up 62% of the Illinois market.

The price increases come as Illinois’ historically hands-off insurance rules are facing new scrutiny.

Besides being able to raise rates as they like, only needing to notify state officials of their plans, Illinois insurers can consider non-driving factors in setting those rates — such as gender, occupation and whether a person rents or owns a home.

That has resulted in disparities, a Chicago Sun-Times investigation in 2019 found. For instance, you could pay more for car insurance because you’re a woman, no matter what your driving record is.

Now, state Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, has introduced legislation to address those issues and crack down on insurers. Guzzardi’s bill would:

  • Require automobile insurers to get prior state approval for rate hikes.
  • Ban “excessive” insurance increases.
  • Prohibit using gender, marital status, age, occupation, schooling, home ownership, wealth, credit scores or a customer’s past insurance company relationships in setting car insurance rates. 

More on the attempt to crack down on insurers from our Stephanie Zimmermann.

More news you need

How Chicago is responding to arrival of immigrants from Texas

A man holds a sign reading Build the Wall 2024 at the community meeting. Someone confronted the person holding the sign, tore it up and was briefly detained. Residents say they are concerned about security around the school once the asylum-seekers are in place. (Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times)

In a chaotic meeting last night, South Shore residents demanded city officials house immigrants arriving in Chicago on the North Side rather than at a shuttered local school, saying the resources being spent to help them should instead be invested on the South Side.

Officials were prepared to deliver a presentation on the shelter plan at the meeting, which was held at South Shore International College Prep, but as it was set to begin, they were drowned out by audience members yelling, “We don’t care” and “We don’t want them here.” Others yelled, “Send them back” and “Close the border.” Someone in the crowd held up a sign that read, “Build the wall 2024.” Our Emmanuel Camarillo details the tumultuous meeting.

McCormick Place, Navy Pier or shuttered big-box stores should be used to house asylum seekers arriving in Chicago, instead of inconveniencing multiple Chicago neighborhoods, said Ald. Maria Hadden yesterday.

Alderpersons were told last week that Chicago is out of money, space and time to handle the “humanitarian crisis,” with one city official saying 13 options have been identified as additional shelter locations, “none of them great.” More on the potential shelters and the possibility of state and federal help from our Fran Spielman and Elvia Malagón.

And one of the latest Chicago buildings to be repurposed into a shelter is the storied Standard Club, now being used to house 761 asylum-seekers and as many as 1,200 in the coming months. For 150 years, the downtown Standard Club was a hub for Chicago’s business titans, many of whom were Jewish, banned by the discriminatory membership policies of the University Club and Union League Club. More on the latest use of the building from our Fran Spielman.

A bright one

Edgewater man started creating crossword puzzles to ward off pandemic boredom, gets published by The New York Times

Early in the pandemic, Mike Hobin thought it would be fun to try to create his own crosswords. At first, it was a brainy exercise to pluck puckish, playful, punny words out of thin air.

Then, Hobin, 64, a real estate broker who lives in a high-rise in Edgewater, started taking it more seriously. He spent $50 on crossword software and devoted an hour or so every day to the effort. And he started to wonder: Could I ever get good enough at this to get a crossword published by the gold standard of crossword publishers — The New York Times?

The Times solicits people to give it a shot and gets hundreds of submissions every week. Only a small percentage, though, end up getting published.

“I thought it would be a cool goal: Make some, send them into the Times, see what the hell happens,” Hobin says.

Mike Hobin a relator, and amateur crossword puzzle maker stands by a framed copy of his first New York Times-published crossword puzzle called “Bring Your ‘A’ Game in his Edgewater condo, Thursday, April 27. (Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times)

Rejection after rejection followed. With each one came tips on how to improve. Pinches of promise, you might say. So Hobin kept at it. He started seeing possible crossword clues and answers everywhere — in conversations, songs, signs. Wordplay, it seems, had hijacked a portion of his brain.

In December, finally, after being rejected 24 times, he got a different response to his latest submission. It wasn’t accepted. But it wasn’t rejected, either. Hobin was told it was “very, very good.” But could he rework it a bit?

So he reworked it, as asked. This time, the answer he got was: Yes, we’ll publish this. The Times ran the puzzle in its Sunday paper on April 16. The puzzle also appears in this week’s Sunday Sun-Times. With success came a $1,500 payment and a “well-done” note from Will Shortz, the Times’ famed lead puzzle editor.

“Honestly, I didn’t do it for the money,” says Hobin, who estimates that he spent about 12 hours on the puzzle, which he tagged with the theme: “Bring Your ‘A’ Game.”

More on Hobin’s work from our Mitch Dudek.

From the press box 🏈⚾️🏀

Your daily question☕

How are you feeling about the coronation of King Charles III? Do you plan to watch it? Tell us why or why not.

Email us (please include your first and last name) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday, we asked you: What’s something in Chicago that cheers you up?

Here’s some of what you said...

“The flowers that bloom in May!” — Chris Ruys

“I’ve got to go with Garrett’s popcorn. Just thinking of the Garrett mix makes me smile.” — Amy J.

“Lake Michigan in the Spring. After being housebound during the winter, it’s great to go for a walk along the lakefront.” — Howard Moore

“Sitting at an umbrella table in Mariano Park on a sunny afternoon, enjoying the flowers and trees, watching the people walking by, chatting with friends and sipping a cold drink. Perfect!” — Carol Bryant

“Jim Cornelison singing the National Anthem before the Blackhawks games! Even though this past season was a rough one, his voice, the roar of the crowd and the flag waving on cue always gives me chills and it never gets old! This is strictly a ‘Chicago” thing.’” — Charlotte Perry

“Four seasons of magnificent flora, fauna and vistas at Lincoln Park Zoo. Free 365 days a year. Pure joy.” — Ellen P.

“The Chagall Mosaic of The Four Seasons at Chase Plaza. I was there for the unveiling. I feel better whenever I see it.” — Ira Schneiderman

“Lake Michigan in all its splendor, shifting colors, sometimes mirror quiet, other times with white-topped waves, always awe-inspiring.” — Anne-Marie Douglas

“Italian ice as soon as the temp gets over 60 degrees. There are places in the city to get it year round but something about it melting while you enjoy it, the dripping down the chin and brain freeze says summer in Chicago is finally here!” — Tom Covell 

“Seeing Lake Michigan. Whether it is from a car or bus on DuSable Lake Shore Drive, a visit to a lakefront beach or park such as Promontory Point, Navy Pier, or Montrose, or from a tall building, the sight of the lake’s water always cheers me up.” — Roger D.

“Sunrise over the lake. Magic.” — Nancy Murphy

“Entering from Hollywood Avenue, following that curve to the right, and driving southbound on DuSable Lake Shore Drive on a sunny summer afternoon with all the windows and the moonroof open always cheers me up!” — Sandra S.

Thanks for reading the Chicago Sun-Times Afternoon Edition. Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.

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