Afternoon Edition: June 17, 2020

Afternoon Edition: June 17, 2020

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

This afternoon will be sunny with a high of 83 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 64 degrees. Tomorrow will be another hot, sunny day with a high near 87 degrees.

Top story

‘Windy City Rehab’ stars defrauded us, says investors’ suit accusing them of siphoning cash

A north suburban man and his family who say they invested $3 million in construction projects featured on the HGTV reality television series “Windy City Rehab” are suing stars Alison Victoria Gramenos and Donovan Eckhardt, accusing them of running “a deliberate and fraudulent scheme to misappropriate funds.”

The lawsuit also accuses the show’s stars of “bungling” and gross mismanagement of “nearly every project they were associated with” and Eckhardt of falsely claiming close ties with the Chicago city buildings department.

And it challenges efforts by Gramenos, who grew up in Lincolnwood and goes by Alison Victoria on TV, to lay blame for the show’s problems on Eckhardt, saying, “Alison has claimed that she was caught unawares by Donovan’s fraud — notwithstanding her own secreting of funds from closing proceeds.”

The suit was filed Tuesday in Cook County circuit court by Michael Ward Jr. — a Lake County resident and onetime friend of Eckhardt — his brother Thomas Ward, also of Lake County, and their father Michael Ward Sr., a Cook County resident.

They say they put up $3 million for a 50 percent stake in a business called Alovanward LLC that funded six of the projects featured on the TV show in its only season, as well as a seventh rehab job.

The Wards say they were led to expect a good return on their money and also were enticed by Eckhardt and Gramenos’s claims to be expert house flippers and by Eckhardt’s assertions of his relationships with city building officials — who later cracked down on the pair with numerous stop-work orders.

“In an effort to gain access to the Wards money, Donovan — individually and with the affirmation of Alison — falsely claimed he had specific expertise in the City of Chicago whereby his personal relationships with City building officials and ready access to additional working capital would streamline the ‘flipping’ process and ensure maximum return,” the lawsuit says.

The Wards say the venture fell apart because of the stars’ “sheer ineptitude and duplicity” and “gross mismanagement … including the absence of workmanlike standards and adherence to building codes, that marred nearly every Alovanward project they were associated with.”

Read the full story by Stephanie Zimmerman here.

More news you need

  1. Chicago’s City Council voted to recognize June 19th — known as Juneteenth — to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. But the council stopped short of declaring it an official city holiday.
  2. An ordinance introduced in City Council today would strengthen regulations for the city’s home-sharing industry. Ald. Michele Smith drafted the ordinance after hearing horror stories from local residents about party houses masquerading as home-shares.
  3. Chicago’s police union wants a federal judge to force the city to seek help from other police departments – or even the National Guard – rather than continue to ask its officers to work consecutive 12-hour shifts. The FOP filed the complaint today with U.S. District Judge Robert Dow.
  4. Roughly 200 people gathered outside Thompson Center this morning calling for community oversight of the Chicago Police Department. Dozens of people held “Defund the Police” and “Black Lives Matter” signs as a caravan of honking vehicles — each decorated with similar signs — circled the block.
  5. At age 91, blues artist Jimmy Johnson isn’t stuck in his ways. His new album “Every Day of Your Life,” the first he’s recorded in over a decade, is proof.

A bright one

African American entrepreneurs launch a craft beer named for two famous Chicago ‘Harolds’

Craft beer makers Jay Westbrook and Sam Ross aren’t looking for a seat at the craft beer gatekeepers’ table — they’ve brought their own.

And, in time, they plan to establish their own table altogether.

As the pandemic shut down the city this spring, Westbrook, a South Shore native, and Ross, a Harvey native, along with Haymarket Brewing, launched “Harold’s ’83 Honey Ale,” a beer named after a fictional Harold’s Chicken Shack location, and the year Chicago elected its first Black mayor, Harold Washington.

Sam Ross (left) and Jay West (right) having a Harold’s ’83 Honey Ale at Haymarket Brewing.
Brian Rich/Sun-Times

The impetus of Haymarket adding Harold’s ’83 — and diversity — to its expanding roster of beers came from a friend of Michael Gemma, Haymarket’s director of operations, who attended a City Council meeting where a longtime City Hall watchdog mentioned the small number of liquor stores in Chicago owned by African Americans. Gemma knew that Westbrook, a bartender at Wrigleyville’s Nisei Lounge, and his friend Ross, would the perfect pair to launch a new beer.

Ross said he wants Harold’s ’83 to inspire more Black people to get involved in making craft beer: “We wanted Black people to drink our beer; we want everybody drinking it, but our goal was to get more people at the bar who look like us,” he said. “We know how it is to walk into a taproom and just see you.”

Read the full story on Harold’s 83 by Evan F. Moore here.

From the press box

Fifty years after Brian Piccolo died at 26 of cancer, his legacy continues to resonate within the Bears organization. Learn more about how Piccolo inspires hope and courage even among today’s players.

The NBA also laid out its plan this morning for completing the remainder of the 2019-20 season at Disney World in Orlando. Teams will be split up across three hotels and must adhere to strict rules concerning testing, social distancing and wearing masks.

Your daily question ☕

What’s your favorite beer that’s brewed in the Chicago area?

Email us (please include your name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday, we asked you what your office or workplace can do to ensure that you feel safe returning after months of working from home. Here’s what some of you said…

“Nothing right now. When you work in buildings like One Two Pru, it’s hard to feel safe when it comes to a pandemic. You have more than just your workspace to worry about. You also have to worry about commuting … There’s no guarantee where your coworkers have been and who they’ve been in contact with. It feels very unsafe to return until there’s a legitimate safe vaccine for everyone.” — Amber Nicole Alvarado

“Minimize how much I have to fly in the near future.” — Kristine Hulce Romano

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Published at Wed, 17 Jun 2020 20:00:00 +0000

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