Police work the scene where a 11-year-old was shot in January. Credit: Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune via AP

Welcome to the Reader‘s news briefing for Monday, February 12, 2018.

  • Shootings and homicides on the decrease as carjackings surge

Chicago is finally seeing a decrease in homicides and shootings, but there’s been a disturbing surge in carjackings. Law enforcement and crime experts blame the trend on “repeat offenders, many of them juveniles who use the cars to commit other crimes or to brag about on social media,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Less than six weeks into 2018, there have been at least 100 carjackings in Chicago stretching from downtown to nearly every area of the city. The crime is also on the rise in Saint Louis, Baltimore, and Milwaukee. “Both car thefts and jackings have been driven by a need for a motor vehicle to commit additional crimes,” Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri-Saint Louis, told the newspaper. “That crime may be a retaliatory homicide . . . or the vehicle is sometimes traded for drugs.” [Wall Street Journal]

  • Chicago matches snowfall record with nine straight days of measurable snow

There have been nine days in a row with “measurable snow” in Chicago as of Sunday, matching a record. It’s only the third time the city has seen nine days in a row of snow since the National Weather Service started keeping records in 1885, according to the Tribune. Thankfully, the city isn’t expected to break the record—there should be no new snow Monday. [Tribune]

  • Garry McCarthy for Mayor fund-raiser gets star power from former Bears players

Former Chicago Police Department superintendent Garry McCarthy had the support of former Bears players during his Sunday fund-raiser at the Irish American Heritage Center. Steve McMichael, Dan Hampton, Otis Wilson, Mike Adamle, and Ed O’Bradovich were all scheduled to be on hand for the $100-a-ticket event. Despite the presence of ex-NFL players, McCarthy said it would be a “blue-collar, northwest-side event” with no millionaires in sight. “There will be a lot of Irish and retirees, a grassroots effort happening on its own,” he said. “At the end of the day, even though tickets can individually be sold for $100 or $5,600, it’s more important to pick up 400 to 600 votes in a room than $5,600 a ticket.” SEIU Local 1 and some employees of O’Hare International Airport were planning to protest outside the fund-raiser. They claim that McCarthy’s threat to challenge Emanuel is an attempt to bully the mayor into renewing a five-year, $107 million O’Hare janitorial contract with United Maintenance, which is owned by Rick Simon, McCarthy’s friend and former business associate. Two years ago the company was forced to pay $850,000 to settle a federal wage-theft lawsuit brought by employees. [Sun-Times] [Sun-Times

  • Xerox blames clogged courtroom printers for 1990s crime rates

Chicago’s high crime rates in the 1990s can be blamed on the court system’s cheap paper causing jammed printers, according to engineers at Xerox. “What was happening was, lawyers had to deliver certain court documents to the defence attorneys within a certain amount of time. Otherwise, the defendant was let go. And they were losing two out of three cases because of paper jams,” the head of Xerox’s Media Technology Centre, John Viavattine, told the New Yorker for a story on paper jams. “Two out of three defendants were gone—walking out the door—because of paper jams. And the problem was that they were using some off-brand, really down-in-the-dumps paper.” Despite experts crediting better policing strategies for lowering the crime rate in the 1990s, Xerox is taking credit for it. “Now you know why the crime rate in Chicago went down,” paper jam team head Eric Ruiz told the magazine. Not everyone believes the tale. A police officer told the Telegraph that the city wasn’t advanced enough to be using printers in the early 1990s but instead was still using carbon paper. [New Yorker] [h/t Telegraph]

  • New poll shows disgraced county assessor Berrios behind by 17 percent

Controversial Cook County assessor Joe Berrios’s days in office could be numbered, according to a new poll conducted by Our Revolution Illinois/Chicago. Berrios challenger Fritz Kaegi has 44 percent support in the poll compared to Berrios’s 27 percent. “Voters are tired of pay to play and corruption by Joe Berrios and are ready for new leadership,” said Clem Balanof, cochair of Our Revolution Illinois/Chicago, which has endorsed Kaegi. The Berrios campaign said its polls him in first place, Kaegi in third, after tax expert Andrea Raila. [NBC Chicago]

  • Cubs sign pitching ace Yu Darvish as spring training approaches

The Chicago Cubs proved they’re serious about winning another World Series title in 2018 by signing star pitcher Yu Darvish to a $126 million six-year deal. Darvish, a four-time MLB All Star, who started Game 7 of the 2017 World Series for the Los Angeles Dodgers, was a coveted free agent. He’s expected to replace Jake Arrieta, who is still a free agent. [ESPN]