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Workers’ rights amendment passes, Lightfoot lambasted after security blocks bike lane and more in your Chicago news roundup

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a five-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

This afternoon will be cloudy with a chance of rain and snow showers and a high near 35 degrees. Similar weather will continue into tonight with a low near 28 degrees. Tomorrow will also be cloudy with a chance of snow showers — and a high near 34 degrees.

Top story

Workers’ rights amendment wins place in Illinois Constitution

The Illinois Constitution is getting a new amendment, one that guarantees workers’ rights to organize and collectively bargain for wages and other employment issues.

The Associated Press yesterday projected the labor union-backed amendment passed by achieving a simple majority of all votes cast across the state last week, one of two roads to passage.

A week ago, supporters of the workers’ rights amendment had declared victory as early as Election Night. And labor unions, the Democratic Party of Illinois and Gov. J.B. Pritzker also this week applauded the passage of the amendment, which required either support from 60% of the voters weighing in on the question or a simple majority of all persons voting in the election. The measure succeeded on that latter pathway.

The AP reported yesterday that the amendment was approved by more than 50% of all votes cast Nov. 8. Of those voting “yes” or ‘”no” on the amendment itself, AP’s data showed 58.4% supporting it.

The amendment assures that workers can unionize and bargain on a range of issues affecting economic welfare and safety. It also forbids right-to-work laws for the private sector, which allows people to avoid union dues as a condition of employment. That’s something Democrats in Illinois want to ensure. There are 27 states with right-to-work laws. Kentucky was the last state to enact a right-to-work law, in 2017. 

Despite the AP call, Illinois Policy Institute President Matt Paprocki on Tuesday said he’s waiting for the Illinois State Board of Elections to certify the results Dec. 5, calling the board “the ultimate authority on this issue.” The right-leaning think tank helped lead the fight against the amendment.

A chief supporter of the measure, the Vote Yes for Workers’ Rights campaign, applauded its success in getting it passed.

“This historic amendment will protect the freedom for Illinois workers to organize and bargain collectively for better wages, stronger safety protections at work and more,” the group said in a statement Tuesday.

Tina Sfondeles has more on the amendment here.

More news you need

  1. A Chicago man who pointed a Glock at federal officers and pulled the trigger only to have the gun misfire — while his young son watched — has been sentenced to 9.5 years in federal prison. The 35-year-old was originally arrested and charged early in June 2020 with the help of neighbors.
  2. Opioid-related deaths in Chicago this year are on pace to match those in 2021, when the city saw a record number of people die from overdoses. There have been 632 opioid-related deaths recorded in Chicago through June, according to county and city officials.
  3. A family from Michigan is suing Navy Pier after their 8-year-old son survived a 24-foot-fall from a climbing wall at the Chicago tourist hotspot in July, claiming the boy was placed into a harness that was not attached to a rope. The lawsuit was filed yesterday in Cook County court against Navy Pier, the wall’s operator and its two employees who were working then.
  4. Construction has resumed at the Obama Presidential Center about a week after a noose was discovered on the site, according to the group overseeing the center’s construction on the South Side. All staff and onsite workers participated in anti-bias training, and further security measures have been implemented, Lakeside Alliance said earlier today.
  5. R. Kelly’s defense attorney argued yesterday he deserved to get a new trial or be acquitted on technical grounds despite a federal jury in Chicago finding him guilty on child pornography charges this summer. Kelly is already serving a 30-year prison sentence for a racketeering conviction in New York. His time behind bars is likely to increase when he is sentenced in February.
  6. A downstate man who assaulted a police officer and cameraman during the Jan. 6 insurrection has been charged with first-degree murder for last week’s wrong-way crash on I-55, which killed a Skokie woman. Shane Woods, 44, of Auburn, is also charged with aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol and aggravated fleeing and eluding a peace officer.
  7. The Ozinga family, known for its namesake cement business, has spent almost two years trying to sell Southeast Side residents on the benefits of a proposed 6 million-square-foot underground warehouse development. But some community members are still skeptical that it would be environmentally safe and a boon for the area, our Brett Chase reports.
  8. Hoping to revive their party in Illinois after tough Election Night losses, Republicans yesterday met behind closed doors to select their new legislative leaders. Their picks: state Sen. John Curran of Downers Grove and state Rep. Tony McCombie of Savanna. 
  9. Mayor Lori Lightfoot is facing backlash on social media for allowing her security detail to park SUVs in a bike lane so she could run into a North Side doughnut shop. The criticism largely came from cycling enthusiasts and their City Council champions, emphasizing the dangers blocking bicycle lanes can cause.
  10. A tree older than the City of Chicago at Lincoln Park Zoo is nearing the end of its life and will be removed next year. The bur oak tree, which is nearly 300 years old, has reached its natural end, despite no present diseases and years of preventative efforts, zoo officials said.

A bright one

Black Girls Dance reimagines Langston Hughes classic for the season

No dance work is more associated with the holiday season than “The Nutcracker,” which is featured annually in multiple productions around Chicago, including a high-profile one presented by the Joffrey Ballet.

Such ubiquitousness is exactly why Erin Barnett decided to write, choreograph and direct “Mary, A Holiday Dansical.” The 90-minute show returns Dec. 18 to the University of Chicago’s Logan Center for the Arts, where it debuted last year under the auspices of Black Girls Dance, a dance school in South Chicago. 

“Some people are ‘Nutcracker’-ed out and I myself am one of those people,” said Barnett, who performed in a North American tour of “The Lion King” from September through November.

“Mary” is Barnett’s reimagining of poet Langston Hughes’ “Black Nativity,” a 1961 musical that offered a gospel take on the biblical nativity story. As a student at Howard University, Barnett took part in a 1996 and ‘97 revival at the Kennedy Center that was choreographed and directed by Mike Malone.

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Erin Barnett, founder and director of the Black Girls Dance Ensemble, rehearses the company for their holiday production of “Mary, A Holiday Dansical.”

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

“I remember having wonderful feelings and memories with the singers and dancers that were in the cast,” she said. “I always thought that I would like to do my own version of ‘Black Nativity.’” 

Black Girls Dance started in a church basement, which it quickly outgrew, and is now based at the Mayfair Arts Center, 8701 S. Bennett. It offers classes in ballet, hip hop, tap and contemporary dance, all of which are featured in “Mary.” Barnett hopes that “Mary,” back for its second year, becomes an ongoing holiday tradition in Chicago.

Meika Haywood, a senior at Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy — and the star of “Mary” said she’s “super excited” about the production this year.

“I think it’s going to be a great show. And it’s a beautiful story to tell, and it’s good for children of this generation, because they can relate to it better from this perspective.”

Kyle MacMillan has more on the production at Black Girls Dance here.

From the press box

Your daily question☕

What is Chicago’s unofficial pastime?

Send us an email at newsletters@suntimes.com and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday we asked you: What’s the best song written about Chicago?

Here’s what some of you said…

“Graham Nash’s ‘Chicago.’ A great protest song in 1971 — the Vietnam and Nixon era.” — Howard Moore

“‘Tonight, Tonight’ by The Smashing Pumpkins. Because it says it all.” — Jackie Waldhier

“‘Lake Shore Drive’ by Alitolla Haynes Jeremiah. It really sets a definite Chicago feeling and tone, and has become part of the city’s essence. It’s one of those great tunes that gets stuck in your brain, so it plays in my mind every time I’m on the road, which is fairly often.”

“‘Lake Shore Drive’ by Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah is a great tribute to both the city and the Drive. But I think Steve Goodman loved Chicago best, so I’d like to see one of his songs recognized. His ‘Go, Cubs, Go’ is more popular, but perhaps not appreciated by Sox fans. So I’ll vote for ‘Lincoln Park Pirates,’ which has more general appeal, as well as humor.” — Jill Anderson

“‘Chicago’ by Frank Sinatra.” — Barb Frenzel

“‘Meet Me in Chicago’ — Buddy Guy.” — La’Keba Garcia

“‘Take Me Back to Chicago’ by Chicago. It tugs at the heartstrings of those of us who have had to move away — it makes us long to return.” — Amy Jackson 

“‘Born in Chicago’ by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.” — Jeff Hornstein

“‘Crook County’ by Twista.” — Eric Raines

“‘Dennehy’ by Serengeti, hands down.” — Dave Pietruszka

“‘Pulaski at Night’ by Andrew Bird. A really great song about Chicago.” — Erik B. Davis

“‘Rock and Roll McDonalds’ by Wesley Willis.” — David Bernstein

“I love that Florence Welch (Florence + the Machine) mentions Chicago in the lyrics to ‘June’ in which she references the night she played Lollapalooza! ‘The show was ending and/I had started to crack/Woke up in Chicago and/the sky turned black.’” — Ashley Marie

“I would think ‘Sweet Home Chicago’ by Robert Johnson and every blues artist who has covered it since. Chicago really shines through in literature: plays, poems, short stories, and novels with so many great writers from the area.” — Jim O’Connor

Thanks for reading the Chicago Sun-Times Afternoon Edition.Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.




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