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Planning And Development Commissioner Resigns
Maurice Cox, the city’s planning and development commissioner, has tendered his resignation, reports Crain’s. “Cox was a major hire for [former mayor] Lightfoot, who pried him away in 2019 from the top planning job in Detroit. He held a similar role in Charlottesville, and had a long career as an architect and urban design professor, as well as serving as design director of the National Endowment of the Arts. Cox led the department as Lightfoot created the Invest South/West initiative and helped launch several projects that Johnson has expressed some level of support for, including LaSalle Street Reimagined, to provide city subsidies for convert aging office buildings along the Loop corridor into a mixed-income residential district with over 1,600 new housing units.”
606 Eastward To Elston
City officials have “initial plans to extend the Bloomingdale Trail east to Elston in 2026,” reports the Sun-Times. “Preliminary engineering work has begun on the project, which is expected to cost $30-$40 million… The elevated trail runs between Ridgeway on the west and ends near Ashland on the east. The Chicago Park District uses ‘the 606’ to refer to the Bloomingdale Trail and the adjacent parks along the 2.7-mile route, which connects Wicker Park, Bucktown, Humboldt Park and Logan Square.”
Construction Blocks The Bean
“Construction on Grainger Plaza surrounding Cloud Gate (aka ‘The Bean’) in Millennium Park will begin around August 15 and continue through the spring of 2024,” the city of Chicago advises. “During this time, public access and views of Cloud Gate will be limited. This necessary maintenance by the City of Chicago will replace pavers and make other repairs and accessibility upgrades to the Plaza—to enhance the nearly twenty-year-old Park’s appearance, visitor experience, and position as the number-one attraction in the Midwest.”
Chicago’s Fine Arts Building Celebrates 125
Chicago’s historic Fine Arts Building at 410 South Michigan celebrates its 125th anniversary with a public event, Friday, October 13, 5pm-9pm, which will open all ten floors of the artist haven, the edifice advises. “The celebration will include a free concert in the Studebaker Theater from Dr. Yulia Lipmanovich, a distinguished concert pianist and piano teacher based in the Fine Arts Building. The Studebaker originally opened with a piano recital by Fannie Bloomfield Zeisler, and Dr. Lipmanovich will recreate some of Zeisler’s original setlist. Guests will be able to meet the artists and craftspeople of the Fine Arts Building and learn about their work and the storied 125-year history of the building, with additional performances, artistic demonstrations and hands-on creative activities. Programs range from music, puppetry and dance to open mic poetry, fine art and jewelry, illustrating the full range of artforms that fill the halls of the Fine Arts Building today.” More here.
Sun-Times Editorial Board: Save The Remaining Catholic Churches
“The recent preliminary landmark designation of St. Adalbert’s must lead to a larger discussion with the Archdiocese, the city and others about the need to preserve and reuse these glorious buildings, among Chicago’s best architecture,” writes the Sun-Times editorial board. (For Newcity’s current issue, Mary Wisniewski surveys, “Are Historic Churches the Lost Souls of a City?”)
DINING & DRINKING
National Geographic Lists Five Iconic Chicago Dishes
McDonald’s Removes “ESG” From Parts Of Its Website
“McDonald’s Corp. quietly removed the term ‘ESG’ from some parts of its website at a time when environmental, social and governance initiatives have been attracting criticism from some conservative policymakers… The fast-food chain’s ‘Purpose & Impact’ website recently removed several mentions of ESG, according to an analysis by Bloomberg News. One web page that was titled ‘ESG Approach & Progress‘ is now labeled ‘Our Approach & Progress.’ Most of the other text remains similar.” An Ohio-based asset management firm co-founded by Republican presidential aspirant Vivek Ramaswamy last month “sent a letter urging McDonald’s to do away with some of its diversity policies in the wake of the court’s ruling.”
Dunkin’ To Old Irving Park Golden Nugget?
“The owners of the Dunkin’ Donuts in the strip mall at 4313 West Irving Park want to relocate their business a few blocks east to the now-closed Golden Nugget Pancake House,” reports Block Club. “The location would offer a larger, updated storefront, possible outdoor patio seating and enough room to add a drive-thru.”
Liquor Now Served In South Holland, Possibly Illinois’ Last Dry Stronghold
Blueberry Field Pancake House and Restaurant “will soon offer mimosas on its breakfast menu,” reports the Sun-Times. South suburb South Holland “recently passed an ordinance allowing restaurants to sell alcohol—as long as it is served with food.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Writers Meet With Studios
“WGA representatives convened Friday with major studios and streamers in the first formal return to the negotiating table since the strike was called May 2,” relays the Hollywood Reporter. “The WGA negotiating committee says the union will ‘evaluate their offer and, after deliberation, go back to them with the WGA’s response [this] week.'” Disney CEO Robert Iger has made conciliatory noises: “Speaking to analysts during a conference call on the company’s third quarter results, Iger said he has ‘deep respect and admiration’ for actors, writers and others in the creative community and a ‘fervent hope’ that the strikes are settled quickly. The remarks came four weeks after Iger suggested in a TV interview that the writers’ and actors’ expectations are ‘just not realistic,’ a remark that drew angry reactions on Hollywood picket lines.” Walt Disney Co. said last week that the strikes “will contribute to a projected $3 billion reduction in film and TV production costs this year,” in other words, money kept by the company and kept from workers.
“The Fugitive”‘s South Chicago Hideout Yours For $150,000
“A South Chicago two-flat used for scenes in the 1993 movie ‘The Fugitive’ is for sale,” reports Crain’s. Harrison Ford’s Dr. Richard Kimble “rents a basement apartment in a depressed neighborhood. The basement apartment is in a Houston Avenue two-flat.” The owner has held the building since the mid-1980s and is asking just under $150,000.
Police Raid Kansas Newspaper Offices, Reporters’ Homes; Equipment Seized; Co-Publisher Dies
“Officers descended upon [Marion, Kansas] Record office, forcing staff members to stay outside the office for hours during a heat advisory. They were not allowed them to answer the phone or make any calls,” reports the Marion County Record. “Legal experts contacted by the Record termed the raid unheard of in America and reminiscent of what occurs in totalitarian regimes and the Third World… Officers seized personal cell phones and computers, including the newspaper’s file server, along with” reporting materials and unrelated equipment. Historian Heather Cox Richardson summarizes here.
The co-publisher died. “Stressed beyond her limits and overwhelmed by hours of shock and grief after illegal police raids on her home and the Marion County Record newspaper office… ninety-eight-year-old newspaper co-owner Joan Meyer, otherwise in good health for her age, collapsed Saturday afternoon and died at her home… She tearfully watched during the raid as police not only carted away her computer and a router used by an Alexa smart speaker [to get help when needed] but also dug through her son Eric’s personal bank and investments statements to photograph them.” Says the paper, “Our first priority is to be able to publish next week, but we also want to make sure no other news organization is ever exposed to the Gestapo tactics we witnessed today. We will be seeking the maximum sanctions possible under law.”
Reports the Kansas Reflector, “Police were motivated by a confidential source who leaked sensitive documents to the newspaper… The city’s entire five-officer police force and two sheriff’s deputies took ‘everything we have.'” The material contained “revelations about [a] restaurant owner’s lack of a driver’s license and conviction for drunken driving.” No story had been published. Writes the Wichita Eagle: “We probably couldn’t say it any better than the ninety-eight-year-old Joan Meyer, a newspaperwoman since 1953: ‘These are Hitler tactics and something has to be done.’ It turned out to be one of the last things she ever said.” An extended conversation with the surviving co-publisher is here.
WBEZ Names New Executive Editor
WBEZ Chicago has named Gilbert Bailon as its executive editor, the station broadcasts in a release. “Bailon is an experienced newsroom leader–[with] several decades as a newspaper journalist before moving to public media and having led newsroom teams to create award-winning journalism across digital, audio and print. Most recently, Bailon was the executive editor of KERA public radio in Dallas. He was editorial page editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from 2007, and then its editor-in-chief 2012-2022. He started his career as a reporter at The Dallas Morning News in 1986 and was named executive editor in 1998, and he has also worked as a reporter at The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Los Angeles Daily News, The San Diego Union and The Kansas City Star. Bailon will lead WBEZ’s growing news operation of editors, reporters and producers for both online and broadcast. He will oversee editorial decisions regarding enterprise journalism, investigations, daily news and special projects. Bailon also will partner with the Chicago Sun-Times, which was acquired by Chicago Public Media in 2022.”
Encryption Of Police Communications Assailed
“The NYPD is the latest law enforcement agency to follow the troubling trend of encrypting police radio channels that were once open to the public.” Police forces, including in California, Maine, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, and Virginia, “have recently switched to encrypted radio as they’ve updated their communications systems to use modern technology. Yet reporters have used radio scanners for decades to learn about breaking news through police radio chatter,” writes the Freedom Of The Press Association. “This real-time access lets newsrooms quickly send reporters and photographers to the scene of public emergencies, crimes, and police activity… But there’s no panacea in ideas to allow some access that other places have tried. Chicago, for example, allows public access but with a thirty-minute delay. That makes the scanners almost useless for breaking news coverage, since the news might be over by the time reporters learn about it and arrive on the scene.”
Cleveland Scene Alt-Weekly Sold
Cleveland Scene is sold to new owners, but “there are no layoffs planned with the shift in ownership,” reports Crain’s Cleveland. “Euclid Media Group, publisher of Cleveland Scene and several other alternative weekly newspapers, has broken up and sold off its media properties.”
Conductor Carlos Kalmar Cleared
“An investigation into allegations against Grant Park Music Festival artistic director Carlos Kalmar at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he teaches, concluded that the allegations against the conductor did not constitute sexual harassment or gender-based discrimination, and did not violate Title IX, according to a letter emailed to conservatory faculty, staff and students,” reports the Trib. The letter is here.
Theatre School’s Coya Paz Receives Association For Theatre In Higher Education Award
The Theatre School’s Coya Paz is the recipient of the 2023 Association for Theatre in Higher Education Award for Innovations in Institutional Leadership, recognized for her leadership in community-based theater and civic engagement. “Coya positions the work of community-making, resiliency building, and mentorship as art forms themselves that are inseparable from the public-facing performance work,” the group says. “Coya is a writer, director, scholar and arts administrator with a commitment to racial and economic equity in the arts. She serves as an associate professor at The Theatre School at DePaul University, where she is the dean for curriculum and instruction. She is also the director of strategy for Free Street Theater, a nonprofit focused on creating affordable, inclusive, and innovative theater in communities across Chicago.”
Ten Broadway Houses Dark (Out Of Forty-One)?
New York cultural critic Mark Harris posts that he hopes “a bunch of plays I don’t know about will be announced in the next couple of weeks (I’ve heard rumors about a couple). But as of now, ten Broadway theaters (out of forty-one) have nothing announced for fall, which feels like a pretty big indicator of a serious contraction.”
On Side Of Caution, Florida Teachers Turn To Excerpts Of Shakespeare Plays
“English teachers in Hillsborough County are preparing lessons for the new school year with only excerpts from William Shakespeare’s works,” reports Tampa Bay Times. “Students will be assigned pages from the classics, which might include ‘Macbeth,’ ‘Hamlet’ and the time-honored teen favorite, ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ But if they want to read them in their entirety,” they will have to do so on their own time. “The decision is aimed at better performance on state tests and avoiding sexual content found in some of the Bard’s work.”
Ballet Budgets Dropped A Third In 2021
The first full fiscal year of the pandemic “saw a drop in aggregate spending by the largest 150 classically-based companies,” tallies Dance Data Project. “Dance/USA reports organizations lost seventy-five-percent in ticket revenue and an average loss of nearly fifty-percent in tuition revenue from March 2020-February 2021… Eighty-two-percent of touring companies reported tour cancellations… Federal programs such as SVOC and PPP loans that supported companies during the pandemic expired and companies are facing the reality of the widely reported failure of audiences to return to all performing arts venues.”
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Former Commissioner Of Chicago Department Of Public Health On Her Firing
“Over a decade of working in public health in Chicago—including four years as the Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health—my top priority has always been protecting the health of all Chicagoans,” posts Dr. Allison Arwady. “It has been the best chapter of my life (so far!) leading the CDPH team, especially through the COVID pandemic, when public health was needed more than ever. Public health must always be driven by science and medicine, and never politics. It is critical that this work receives the funding needed to remain strong, and that the next CDPH Commissioner shares this department’s commitment to health equity. I have every confidence in the CDPH team. I applaud them for all that they have done and continue to do, and I was especially disappointed not to get a chance to say goodbye. Public health remains my passion. I am dedicated to continuing this work, even if I am not able to continue to serve the city I love as your commissioner. As a physician and public health leader, my work to advance health, equity, and justice, particularly for those on the margins, will continue.” The Sun-Times’ report is here.
Chicago Has Spent Only Fifteen-Percent Of $52 Million In Federal Money Dedicated To Homeless Programs
“Two years after receiving the COVID-era funding, Chicago has been slow off the mark with some of its programs to help people experiencing homelessness,” tallies Illinois Answers Project. “Though the city continues to expel people experiencing homelessness from its airports, underpasses and L cars, it has spent at most only fifteen-percent out of one of the largest pots of federal money it was given for programs to help people experiencing homelessness get into housing faster… Municipalities that received pandemic recovery funds must create a plan to use them by the end of 2024 and spend the funds for that plan by the end of 2026.”
“Gen Z Can’t Afford The Rent”
“There’s something that many Gen Z-ers feel is not within their realm of possibility: owning a home. The rule of thumb that one’s cost of housing shouldn’t exceed thirty percent of their monthly income is becoming less realistic for many in Gen Z, typically defined as people born between the late 1990s and early 2010s. Homeownership feels unattainable—more than a third of Gen Z respondents in one survey said it’s something they think they’ll never be able to achieve… Last year, the typical first-time homeowner was thirty-six years old, a record high. Renting hasn’t been an easy alternative either, with those in search of apartments facing bidding wars and high rent costs.” The New York Times offers a multimedia package on the American housing crisis here.
Teacher Getting Shot In Virginia A “Workplace Injury”
“The Newport News Education Association President condemned the premise of the school division’s motion to dismiss Abigail Zwerner’s pending $40 million lawsuit,” reports the Denver Post. “The motion was filed last week by attorneys representing the School Board and argues that Zwerner, who was shot in her classroom at Richneck Elementary in January by a six-year-old student, is only entitled to file a worker’s compensation claim because the injury she sustained from the shooting is a ‘workplace injury,’ and that the shooting was a hazard of the job.” The president of the Newport News teachers union, “says that argument is ridiculous. ‘This is not military, this is not the police department. This is an education system… These lawyers have started a significant hurricane in our district by saying that being shot is part of what teachers signed up for.'”
Florida Approves Climate-Science-Denying Curriculum
“Videos that compare climate activists to Nazis, portray solar and wind energy as environmentally ruinous and claim that current global heating is part of natural long-term cycles will be made available to young schoolchildren in Florida, after the state approved their use in its public school curriculum,” reports the Guardian. “Slickly made animations by the Prager University Foundation, a conservative group that produces materials on science, history, gender and other topics widely criticized as distorting the truth, will be allowed to be shown to children in kindergarten to fifth grade after being adopted by Florida’s department of education.” (New Hampshire’s State Board of Education unanimously voted on Thursday to table the PragerU application to sell its hard-right advocacy videos, reports Reaching Higher NH.)
Red Swamp Crayfish Infiltrate Chicago River
“Bright red and about five inches long, red swamp crayfish look like mini-lobsters. But they’re an invasive species, and scientists want them gone,” reports WBEZ.
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