Axios Chicago

Picture of the Chicago skyline.

Happy Tuesday! Today is International Retainer Day. No, not a day to celebrate legal counsel, but orthodontics.

  • So take a moment to remind yourself of that time when you accidentally threw your retainer in the school cafeteria garbage. That happened to you too, right? Right?

🥵 Today's weather: It's hot. Sunny with a high of 91.

🏎 Situational awareness: Yesterday we wrote about drag racing and drifting in the city. We got several responses detailing locations outside of downtown where this happens regularly. If you know of drag racing or drifting happening near you, reply and let us know.

Today's newsletter is 853 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Speed ticket showdown

Percentage change in Chicago car crashes, by type and proximity to a speed camera
Note: "Near a camera" is the area within 1,000 feet of a speed camera; Data: City of Chicago, Axios research; Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

City Council is scheduled to vote on repealing the controversial 6 mph speed ticket threshold tomorrow.

Why it matters: A defeat of this Mayor Lori Lightfoot-backed policy could signal a significant shift at City Hall, where mayoral power has held sway for decades, although less so recently.

Flashback: Launched in March 2021, the policy lowered the ticketing threshold from 10 mph to 6 mph over the limit. The city then saw a huge spike in speed ticketing that brought in an estimated $105.9 million in the first year, according to WBEZ.

Between the lines: The policy has become a political lightning rod. Critics call it a cash cow that hurts people of color, while supporters frame it as a win for public safety and funding.

Reality check: Axios' Erin Davis crunched the data and found a mixed bag.

By the numbers: We compared data from March 1, 2018–June 20, 2019, to data from March 1, 2021–June 20, 2022, and left out 2020 due to COVID-driven traffic changes.

  • All crashes in Chicago were down 8.2% in the after period, and even more so (12.7%) near speed cameras. Nonfatal injuries were also lower near speed cameras.
  • Fatal crashes, however, rose by 114% in areas around speed cameras, and by just 44% in areas not around speed cameras.
  • Immediately after the new enforcement limit, speed camera tickets jumped by 12 times.

Details: A UIC study of local red light and speed tickets from 2015–2017 showed that low-income communities of color disproportionately bear the economic burden of ticket fines.

  • But the study also showed a 15% drop in crashes resulting in serious injury and death in the period after both red light and speed cameras were installed.

The intrigue: Our 2019–2021 analysis of data across the nation's four largest cities showed that Chicago recorded the highest number of fatal crashes, specifically in the months following the new 6 mph enforcement.

Read the full story.

2. Chart of the Day: Price index headaches

Year-over-year change in Consumer Price Index for Chicago-Naperville-Elgin metro area
Data: FRED, Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Simran Parwani/Axios

The Consumer Price Index, which charts prices paid by consumers for goods and services, saw a sharp local rise from 2021 to 2022.

💭 Justin's thought bubble: Last month, I had the worst of all takes, suggesting that inflation wouldn't bother city dwellers. My flawed argument was because everything is so overpriced already, it couldn't get much worse.

  • Whoa, I couldn't have been more wrong. Everything from gas prices to utilities to restaurants has skyrocketed. I estimate I'm paying at least $150 more a month combined.

💭 Monica's thought bubble: I've been wondering — if and when this inflationary period is over, will prices fall again?

Change in price of select goods in the Chicago metro area
Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

3. Tips and hot links

Illustration of the Chicago municipal device made out of Chicago-style hot dogs.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🛒 Mayor Lightfoot lashed out at Aldi after the grocery store closed two locations on the South and West sides. "Aldi should be ashamed of the way it's been handling itself." (Tribune)

📚 Why does CPS have so few full-time librarians? (Sun-Times)

🏒 After 16 seasons, Blackhawks TV analyst (and beloved former player) Eddie Olczyk is leaving to broadcast for the Seattle Kraken. (The Athletic)

✈️ Midway Airport leads the country in summer delays. (WTTW)

🐐 Little Goat Diner is leaving the West Loop to relocate in Lakeview's old Southport Lanes building. (Eater)

4. Your favorite gyros

Photo of a sign that says Home of Chicago's Best Gyros

Home of Chicago's Best Gyros? Our readers have something to say about that. Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

Last week, we shared our favorite spots for gyros, with Justin choosing Mr. Greek Gyros in Greektown and Monica opting for Windy City Gyros in Lakeview.

  • Our readers responded with so many favorites that the list nearly spun out of control.

Cindy J.: "The best gyro is at the Athenian Room in Lincoln 'No' Park! You have to get it with the Greek fries in the amazing red wine vinegar sauce. The portion is so big, I always get sauce on the side and request an extra pita and tzatziki sauce and make a second sandwich the next day!"

  • Mike R. agrees: "Perfectly crisp, great tzatziki, loads of onions and tomatoes on top of their Greek fries covered in au jus."
  • Jim A., Nancy M. and Sue B. also swear by the Athenian Room.

Dave D.: "Mr. Gyro is next door to the best gyro in the universe, Zeus. The best mix of it all and a ridiculous amount of meat."

  • Andre G. also loves Zeus: "After working in Greektown for five years, I'd say they're the best in the neighborhood and always a great value."

Larry G.: "Wrigleyville Dogs is where to get the best gyro in the city. Packed with meat and so saucy there is no use using a napkin. Can’t wait for the Cubs' next road trip to go back."

  • Kelsey K.: "Wrigleyville Dogs 💯 beats out Windy City any day!"

🗣 Speaking of gyros — We want to determine the quintessential Chicago pronunciation for this food through a highly scientific survey of Axios readers.

More of your favorite gyros.

Now hiring: New job openings

🔥 Hot and fresh local job listings.

  1. Partner Marketing Manager at Everspring.
  2. US Program Manager, Chicago Area at GiveDirectly.
  3. Senior Level Mortgage Broker at Stan Johnson Co.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Post a job.

5. Where in the world is ... Monica?

Photo of a woman standing in front of a mural.

Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

Where's Monica this week? Here's a hint:

  • It's a "beautiful mountain" with purple, red and brown
  • A place where you switch as you travel through the town
  • Music clubs and dance clubs are steps from the door
  • As well as a spot for cinnamon rolls galore

📫 As always, respond with the right answer and you could win some Axios swag!

🖥 Monica hopes you will join her and Axios' Tina Reed tomorrow at 12:30pm for a Smart Take virtual event examining solutions to the nation's mental health crisis, with a closer look at local initiatives. Guests include U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy and Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner Allison Arwady. Register here.

🥎 Justin doesn't want to talk about softball last night.

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