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Notes & Calendar 3/22/17

A week’s worth of developing stories, events, and signs of the times, culled from the desks, inboxes, and wandering eyes of the editors

Notes

Will Red-Light Camera Reforms Restore Confidence?

On Monday, the city announced that the “grace period” for motorists who run a red light will be tripled to three-tenths of a second before they are issued a $100 ticket, in order to give the benefit of the doubt to well-intentioned drivers, at the suggestion of a Northwestern Traffic Center study. According to the Sun-Times, about twenty-nine percent of the 586,415 red-light tickets issued last year went to motorists between one-tenth and three-tenths of a second after the light had turned red. The study also recommended grading the effectiveness of existing red-light camera locations; already, the city will move six existing red light camera locations—three of which are on the South Side—where there is a “high number of violations, but not a commensurate reduction in traffic crashes,” according to Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld. Public hearings will take place before the location changes are finalized. The city commissioned the study to outline a path of reform for a program that gained notoriety after a $2 million bribery scandal, in which former Chicago Department of Transportation official John Bills accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from Arizona-based Redflex Traffic Systems for steering $131 million in contracts between 2002 and 2011. In 2016, Bills was sentenced to ten years in prison—one of the longest corruption sentences given to a non-elected Chicago official—and former CEO of Redflex Karen Finley was sentenced to thirty months in prison after pleading guilty to bribery charges. Redflex agreed to pay Chicago taxpayers $20 million to resolve claims and be re-declared eligible to bid for city contracts. The Northwestern study cited “significant safety benefits” to the cameras’ overall crash reduction in its call to continue the controversial program. After being asked “whether any amount of change could restore confidence in the program,” Dr. Hani S. Mahmassani, the director of the Traffic Center, said that taxpayers understand the safety aspect of the cameras. “They have issues with Chicago politics and the way business is done here, but not necessarily with the technical aspects and the performance of these cameras,” he said.

“Biking While Black”

The city might be likely to issue twenty-nine percent fewer tickets with the longer red-light “grace period,” as Weekly readers just learned above, but in this period of good fortune for drivers, it might do some good to shift the spotlight to bicycle ticketing, where all is not well. Police ticketing of bicyclists is rising, and for some more than others—a Tribune analysis of police statistics last week found that officers write twice as many citations in African-American than in white or Latinx communities. Over the past eight years, the top ten community areas for bicycle ticketing included seven majority African-American and three majority Latinx areas. Six of them were on the South Side. One lawyer, Brendan Kevenides, has termed the issue “biking while Black.” The ticketing disparity appears to come partly from direct racial bias and partly from racial disparity in biking infrastructure. The most common citation given was for riding on the sidewalk—and, as the Tribune analysis found, bicycle infrastructure like protected cycling lanes are absent in many majority African-American and Latinx neighborhoods, even on large thoroughfares like Stony Island Avenue. While this does not justify the ticketing gap, it does point to a greater problem: a lack of biking accessibility in nonwhite neighborhoods, from where bikers can ride to riding itself.

Calendar

BULLETIN

Thornwood High School Career Fair

Thornwood HS North Field House, 17101 S. Park Ave. Wednesday, March 22, 9:20am–1:30pm. theblackmall.com

Black-owned business directory Black Mall will host a career fair at South Holland’s Thornwood High School aimed at connecting students with potential employers; the goal is to have about sixty companies there. Businesses can register online to participate. (Christian Belanger)

Reinventing Police Oversight: A Public Conversation

Experimental Station, 6100 S. Blackstone Ave. Wednesday, March 22, 7pm–8:30pm. Free. bit.ly/IPRAtoCOPA

Sharon Fairley, head of the Independent Police Review Authority, will join intrepid journalist Jamie Kalven in conversation about the impending transition from IPRA, the city’s old police oversight agency, to COPA, its new one. The discussion will also touch on other issues related to policing in Chicago, including the CPD’s new use of force policy and looming police union contract negotiations. (Christian Belanger)

Hidden Figures Revealed

DuSable Museum of African-American History, 740 E. 56th Pl. Thursday, March 23, 7:30pm. General admission $20, members $15. (773) 947-0600. dusablemuseum.org

The DuSable Museum of African-American History will be hosting a panel discussion about Hidden Figures, the 2016 film about three Black female mathematicians at NASA in the 1960s. STEM leaders will discuss clips from the film and the important contributions African-American women have made to the field of mathematics and the sciences. (Michael Wasney)

McKinley Park Play Garden Fundraiser

Co-Prosperity Sphere, 3219-21 South Morgan St. Saturday, March 25, 7pm. $25. Buy tickets online at bit.ly/McKinleyParkPlayGarden. 21+. mckinleyparkplaygarden@gmail.com

City kids can have trouble getting in touch with nature, but McKinley Park Play Garden Organizing Committee hopes to change that. They want to bring a natural space to the McKinley Park neighborhood that will engage children and adults alike. Attend the March 25 fundraising event to make their vision happen. (Michael Wasney)

Women in Tech: Amplifiers of Community Voice

DuSable Museum of African-American History, 740 E. 56th Pl. Thursday, March 30, 6pm. RSVP online at bit.ly/WomenInCivicTech. (773) 947-0600. dusablemuseum.org

The Women in Tech Speaker Series celebrates the many talented and diverse women in Chicago’s civic technology sector. After a panel discussion with Andrea Hart (City Bureau), Aviva Rosman (BallotReady), and Tiana Epps-Johnson (Center for Tech and Civic Life), attendees will get the opportunity to participate in a mini-hackathon. (Michael Wasney)

VISUAL ARTS

Who Twists Lures

Ballroom Projects, 3012 S. Archer Ave., #3. Through April 1. Free. (312) 972-5691. By appointment only. bit.ly/2mHPexU

Chicago-based comics artist Krystal DiFronzo steps into new territory with her first solo exhibition at Bridgeport’s live-in art space, Ballroom Projects. Through a focus on unraveling and relating the multiple meanings of ancient mythological words, DiFronzo’s work brings issues of gender and sexuality to the fore. (Sara Cohen)

Visiting Artist Talk: Justine Pluvinage

Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave. Wednesday, March 22nd, 6pm–7:30pm. Free. (773) 324-5520. hydeparkart.org

Join French artist Justine Pluvinage for a discussion about her film and video work, which moves from documentary to fiction, and all the points in between. It centers around issues of human faith, resiliency, and adaptation in times of struggle. (Corinne Butta)

Memoria Presente

National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th St. Friday, March 24th, 6pm–8pm. Free. (312) 738-1503. nationalmuseumofmexicanart.org

In honor of its thirtieth anniversary, the National Museum of Mexican Art presents an exhibition of locals paving the way for an art world of the future. The opening for “Memoria Presente: An Artistic Journey” showcases a diverse array of works from contemporary artists in Chicago’s Mexican community. (Sara Cohen)

MUSIC

David Sanborn

The Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park Ave. Sunday, March 26, doors 5pm, show 6pm. $22–$46. (312) 801-2100. promontorychicago.com

David Sanborn has released twenty-four albums over his forty-plus year career and performed with the likes of Stevie Wonder, the Rolling Stones, and David Bowie. Now the Grammy award-winning saxophonist comes to the Promontory to play songs that bridge pop, R&B, and jazz. (Hafsa Razi)

AMORPHIS

Reggies Rock Club, 2105 S. State St. Sunday, March 26, 6pm. $25 online, $28 day of show. 17+. (312) 949-0120. reggieslive.com

Finnish metal group AMORPHIS started with a classic death metal sound when they debuted at the beginning of the nineties, but they’ve since sucked every possible variation on metal (along with some folk and psychedelia) into their guitar-driven onslaught. Catch ’em riffing and roaring this Sunday at Reggies. (Austin Brown)

Ralphi Rosario

Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport St. Saturday, March 25, doors 8pm, show 9pm. $10. 21+. (312) 526-3851. thaliahallchicago.com

One of the founding members of Chicago’s classic DJ group, the Hot Mix 5, Ralphi Rosario has made his own nonstandard way through the music industry, going from his classic house hit “You Used To Hold Me” to work with pop icons like Beyoncé, Depeche Mode, and Stevie Nicks. He’ll be spinning all night at Thalia Hall this Saturday. (Austin Brown)

STAGE & SCREEN

The Hard Problem

The Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. Through April 9. Wednesdays–Thursdays, 7:30pm; Fridays, 8pm; Saturdays, 3pm and 8pm; Sundays 2:30pm and 7:30pm. $15–$68; lower prices for students, seniors and UChicago staff. (773) 753-4472. courttheatre.org

Acclaimed playwright Tom Stoppard, whose long list of credits includes Arcadia, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and Shakespeare in Love, has a new play. The Hard Problem, directed by Charles Newell, concerns a young psychologist who’s grappling with some of the biggest philosophical questions about human consciousness. (Joseph S. Pete)

By the Apricot Trees

eta Creative Arts, 7558 S. South Chicago Ave. Through April 2. Saturdays, 8pm; Sundays, 3pm. General admission $35, seniors $25, students $15. (773) 752-3955. etacreativearts.org

eta’s new production, written by Ntsako Mkhabela, follows the story of TK, the only girl arrested in a famous series of protests led by Black South African schoolchildren in 1976. The children took to the streets of Soweto, a town outside of Johannesburg, to protest the introduction of Afrikaans as the official language of schooling. They were met with a brutal response from the police. (Jake Bittle)

Antigone

Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St. March 24–March 26. Friday–Saturday, 7pm; Sunday, 2pm. $10-$12. (773) 445-3838. beverlyartcenter.org

Teenage participants of Beverly Arts Center’s Star Student Productions, from Evergreen Park, Frankfort, Mount Greenwood, and Oak Lawn, revive Sophocles’ tragic tale of pride and loyalty with an original stage adaptation. (Sara Cohen)

The Revival

The Revival, 1160 E. 55 St. Thursday, March 30, 7pm; Friday, March 31. $10–$15. the-revival.com

The birthplace of Chicago improv comedy continues to revive its sixty-year-old roots with weekly shows in a spiffy gut remodel to match the newly spit-shined Hyde Park [smirk]. On March 30, watch ten city comics perform auditions for the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal. On March 31, Bronzeville’s own (and now Comedy Central’s own) Brian Babylon serves up “Home Grown,” comedy made in Chicago. (Nicole Bond)

The Albanian Cinema Project Presents: Tomka and His Friends

Filmfront, 1740 W. 18th St. Friday, March 24. Doors 7:30pm; show 8pm. Limited seating. Free. filmfront.org

See the restored 1977 film by Albania’s first director, Xhanfise Keko. In the film, Tomka and His Friends are children living in Nazi-occupied Albania, turned spies and saboteurs against the German army. Stay for a conversation and Q&A with the director of the Albanian Cinema Project, Regina Longo. (Nicole Bond)

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