And now, roof failures / An apology / Tribune’s ‘gut punch’

And now, roof failures. The next act in Chicago’s winter from hell has begun: Building collapses.
Among the most vulnerable: Bowstring truss roofs—arched but without traditional support columns.
Chicago Streets and Sanitation Commissioner John Tully tells Politico:We’re running out of space” to put plowed snow.
Gov. Pritzker has proclaimed all Illinois a disaster area. (Cartoon: Keith J. Taylor.)
Chicago’s in for a little more snow today before a slow warmup to the 30s by Sunday …
 … and maybe 40 next week—raising the prospect of flooding.
Nationwide, 100 million Americans faced winter weather warnings today.
Climate journalist Emily Atkin: “This extreme polar vortex event epitomizes everything climate change is: unprecedented, unrelenting, affecting a population unaccustomed and unprepared.”
The New York Times: Climate Change Means Trouble for Power Grids.”

Texas trauma. The state’s widespread power outages have sparked what The Associated Press describes as “growing outrage” over how it “failed such a massive test of a major point of state pride: energy independence.”
A Texas mayor who told suffering residents on Facebook “No one owes you are [sic] your family anything” and “Only the strong will survive and the weak will parish [sic]” has quit.
Historian Heather Cox Richardson: “Most of Texas is on its own power grid, a decision made in the 1930s to keep it clear of federal regulation.”

An apology. Yesterday’s Chicago Public Square (and Forbes) should have identified Robert Bryce—the author of a piece skeptical about the notion of “electrifying everything”—as someone long affiliated with the ExxonMobil-funded Manhattan Institute think tank. More to the point: Square shouldn’t have linked to Bryce’s work at all.
PolitiFact: “Of the power shortfall that hit Texas, over 80% was due to problems at coal- and gas-fired plants.”

Christmas … cheer? President Biden says he wishes he could be more optimistic, but he says it may be December before the U.S. has “significantly fewer people having to be socially distanced, having to wear a mask.”
He’s promising a majority of the nation’s elementary schools will be open five days a week within his first 100 days in office.
The terrible weather has delayed COVID-19 vaccine shipments to Chicago—and some vaccination appointments, too.
Tribune columnist Mary Schmich walked six miles for her coronavirus shot.
Nature’s survey of 100 immunologists, infectious-disease researchers and virologists working on the coronavirus found a vast majority expect the coronavirus is here to stay.
The Conversation: The pandemic may have triggered a (good) reversal of fortune for street food vendors.

Walls come tumbling down. Atlantic City’s decaying former Trump Plaza casino was imploded today.
An auction for the right to press the button that triggered the implosion was canceled after a lawsuit.
The AP: The executioners who put 13 inmates to death in a flood of last-minute capital punishments under President Trump “sanitized”—one might also say lied aboutthe prisoners’ last moments.

Tribune’s ‘gut punch.’ That’s a phrase one Tribune Publishing employee used to describe news that hedge fund Alden Global Capital—dubbed a “destroyer of newspapers”—is ready to take over the company, including the flagship Chicago Tribune.
With wording that wouldn’t be out of place in a crappy warranty, Tribune’s CEO assures employees: “Quality journalism … will continue to drive our business well into the future.”
In a markedly unsympathetic note, the CEO of WTTW-TV’s parent organization announced the firing of the station’s news director.

‘I’m sure Lightfoot never imagined that Fran would take her interview and … ram it so far up her ass it came out the top of her head.’ Columnist Neil Steinberg praises his Sun-Times colleague Fran Spielman’s deconstruction of Mayor Lightfoot’s sitdown with The New York Times.
The mayor’s clearing restaurants and bars to operate at 40% of their normal capacity—but no more than 50 customers at once.

An expression of gratitude. Thanks to readers whose support keeps Square coming—today spotlighting Molly Besta Allscheid, Janean Bowersmith, Joseph Sjostrom, Peter Fuller, Allen Matthews, Keelin Wyman, Ralph Sherman, Gil Arias, Cynthia Martin, Maria Mooshil, Angela Mullins, Sherry Kent, Pat Albu, Deb Abrahamson, Gene Kannenberg Jr., Barbara Heskett, Lesley Christien, Jack Hafferkamp, Norma Gilich, Jeff Hanneman, Andrew Thackray, Betsy Blew-Ochoa and Maureen King. You can join them for any amount you choose—a one-time tip or a continuing pledge—here.
Thanks to critic Aaron Barnhart for making this edition better.

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