November 21, 2023
👩🏽🎨 It's Tuesday! On this day in 2010, Chicago artist and writer Margaret Taylor-Burroughs died. She co-founded the DuSable Museum of African-American History.
- Today's weather: Rainy morning, high of 43°.
🎂 Happy birthday to our Axios Chicago member Tim Granholm!
Today's newsletter is 892 words — a 3.5-minute read.
1 big thing: New budget leans on more fines
What's happening: Overall, the new budget is counting on $348 million in fines from people who get ticketed for violating parking, speeding, red light, traffic and sanitation laws, among others.
- That's 15% more than this year, the Tribune notes.
Why it matters: No one likes getting slapped with fines, and studies show Chicago's ticketing and debt collection system has disproportionately affected people in Black and low-income neighborhoods, those often with the least ability to pay them.
The intrigue: During last month's budget address, Johnson said the city has "relied too long on a tax structure that heavily burdens our lowest-income residents and is too reliant on property taxes, fees, fines and rates."
Between the lines: Though the Johnson administration initially said Smart Streets — a new program that tickets drivers for parking in downtown bike and bus lanes — would generate the additional fines, officials later clarified they expect only about $5 million from the program next year, the Tribune reports.
- Instead, they said most of the money would come from unspecified "general enforcement activities."
Context: Although former Mayor Lori Lightfoot enacted key reforms to reduce fee burdens on low-income residents, she also lowered the threshold for speed camera ticketing, earning the city $121 million in fines over two years, according to ABC 7 Chicago.
How it works: When the Smart Streets pilot starts in 2024, drivers parked in downtown bus or bike lanes may be ticketed via cameras mounted on poles and CTA buses from the lake to Ashland and Roosevelt Road to North Avenue.
- The program is aimed at reducing cyclist-involved crashes. Chicago has already seen 1,600 this year, according to WBEZ.
2. Holocaust survivors urge "empathy and peace"
Ten local Holocaust survivors penned an open letter on the Israel-Hamas war, urging people to "come together to affirm each other's humanity."
Why it matters: The letter and video, posted on the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center's website, offers a message of healing and unity at a time when people around the world remain deeply divided.
What they're saying: "The world is failing at its duties. People are retreating to their corners, casting blame on those who look, sound, or worship differently," they write.
- "Jewish places of gathering and worship are being defaced with swastikas as Jews around the world are being told that 'Hitler should have eradicated all of you.'
- "A 6‐year‐old boy in our community was stabbed to death because he was Palestinian. None of these actions will bring about a more peaceful and just world."
Zoom in: The group condemned "Hamas' terror," while writing that "all Palestinians are not Hamas."
- "As we see the images of Palestinian children covered in soot, their parents and grandparents lining up at the border to seek safety in Egypt, thousands more already dead and wounded, our hearts ache for them, too. The plight of civilians trapped in a war zone is one that we also know all too well."
The bottom line: The only way forward, the survivors write, is together.
- "We must lay down our arms and stretch out our hands."
3. Mars Williams dies at 68
Yesterday, we wrote about how the Chicago music community was coming together for a benefit this weekend for legendary saxophonist Mars Williams.
Later in the afternoon, we learned that he had passed away from intestinal cancer. He was 68.
"It's so infectious, Mars's love of playing, in every sense of that word. Sometimes, the academically rigorous language that gets used around this music takes a front seat to that joy of making sound. But Mars's music is never about pushing people away. It's a pure and honest form of expression."— Guitarist Steve Marquette, who played with Williams, in the Chicago Tribune.
According to a spokesperson, Saturday's benefit is still on and will focus on honoring Mars' musical legacy.
4. Tips and hot links
🏟 The Evanston City Council approved part of Northwestern's plan to tear down Ryan Field and build a new stadium. They have yet to vote on whether to rezone the area for concerts. (NBC 5)
No suspects have been arrested after former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel's Michigan home was spray-painted with the word "Nazis." (Sun-Times)
⚾️ Reports say the Dodgers are interested in trading for Sox ace Dylan Cease and that the teams are negotiating. (NBC Sports)
New jobs to check out
💼 See who's hiring around the city.
- Vice President, PR at Team Lewis.
- Associate Director, Medical Content Development and Training at Argenx.
- VP, Content Marketing at Circle.
Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.
Hiring? Use code FIRST50 for $50 off your first job post.
5. 😋 Delicious NYC-style slices
Here are some of your favorites:
🍕 Gigio's: This pizza place has been serving Evanston and the North Shore since 1968! It's your standard NYC-style fare, with slices costing around $4, depending on toppings.
- Axios reader Mark C. says, "While ownership has changed over the years, the quality of the pizza has stayed consistent."
🥫 Jimmy's Pizza Cafe: You came out in droves to suggest this New York-style pizza joint, now located near Montrose and Western. Our readers swear by the dough and the sauce. Slices cost $5 and up.
Yes, but: Reader Peter C. took offense, and we get it. Peter wrote us: "NY pizza?! This is Chicago!!! Don't feed the Second City Syndrome!!"
6. Where in the world is … Justin?
Where's Justin this week? Here's a hint.
- Over the river and through the woods
- To grandmother's house we go
- A Lake County gem with plenty of sass
- A notorious place where cars often crash
Hit reply with the correct guess and you'll be entered into a giveaway for Axios swag.
Edited by Alexa Mencia and copy edited by Rob Reinalda and Keely Bastow.
🏖️ Carrie is on vacation.
🌏 Monica made Dorie Greenspan's World Peace Cookies over the weekend for a pet shelter fundraiser, and she is now hooked on these chewy, chocolaty sables.
📺 Justin is rewatching "WandaVision."
Want free Axios swag? Refer your friends to Axios Chicago and get cool merch like stickers, totes, hats, T-shirts and more!