City Council Passes Smart Streets Ordinance that Includes License Plate Recognition 

By Edward LaSalle, The Chicago Times

March 15, 2023

CHICAGO – The City Council passed the Smart Streets Pilots Ordinance today that establishes two downtown pilot programs aimed to improve traffic safety, enhance protections for pedestrians and bicyclists, and speed up public transportation.

The ordinance, introduced in January by defeated Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and Aldermen Hopkins, La Spata, Martin, Reilly, and Vasquez, would authorize the City to use existing infrastructure and new technology to enforce parking violations, such as cars parked in bike lanes, bus-only lanes, bus stops, and crosswalks, and enable camera-based management of parking in commercial loading zones.

“The passage of this ordinance is an exciting step toward a safer and smarter transportation system.  While we continue to deepen our robust investments in infrastructure improvements, these pilot programs give us another tool in our toolbox to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, as well as speed up our bus network.” Lightfoot said in a statement.

The Smart Streets Pilots is expected to promote safer driver behavior and better parking compliance with the goal of reducing crashes and pedestrian and cyclist fatalities while promoting use of Chicago’s network of bike lanes and bus lanes to their full potential.  Similar programs exist in cities around the country, including those already operational in New York, San Francisco, and Seattle.

The City will begin the process of selecting camera vendors and potential camera locations. The pilot programs will operate until June 2025 within the boundaries of Lake Michigan to Ashland Avenue and from North Avenue to Roosevelt.

The first pilot authorizes the City to ticket registered vehicle owners by mail for various infractions, including parking in bike lanes, bus-only lanes, crosswalks, bus stops, and no parking zones. This will help discourage drivers from illegally parking in places that put our most vulnerable road users at risk.  

The City Council believes this pilot will also promote a more reliable, efficient, and accessible bus service by deterring drivers from parking in bus-only lanes or at designated bus stops.  It is hoped that the program will discourage drivers illegally parking in dedicated bus lanes which often creates slowdowns for passengers stuck behind the parked car, and longer wait times at bus stops.  In addition, the ordinance authorizes the City to attach cameras to poles or City or CTA vehicles. 

“Once data is collected, it will be individually reviewed and then sent to the Department of Finance (DOF) to be processed. Warning notices without fines will be issued for the first 30 days after each new camera is installed and activated. Through the Clear Path Relief program, low-income drivers will continue to be eligible for reduced-priced tickets and other vehicle-related debt relief.” the Chicago Department of Transportation said in a press release.

A second pilot program will use license plate reading camera technology to facilitate more efficient driver or company payment within commercial loading zones designed for the loading and unloading of commercial vehicles. City officials say the pilot aims to prevent double-parking that puts drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians in unsafe conditions; decrease vehicle idling; reduce emissions; and create a more efficient system for payment and drop-offs for commercial drivers.  Some say this is an expansion of the mass surveillance state.

Chicago Man Charged in 2021 Lake View East Armed Robbery

By The Chicago Times Staff

March 15, 2023

CHICAGO – A Chicago man has been charged in the 2021 robbery of a store in Lake View East.

According to Chicago police, Christopher Savage, 20, of the 700 block of E. 72nd Street, Chicago, was taken into custody on March 13, 2023, in the 200 block of S. State St and identified as the suspect who robbed a retail store in Lake View East.  It is alleged that on April 24, 2021, Savage entered a retail store in the 900 block of W. Belmont Ave and implied he had a weapon before taking proceeds and fleeing. 

Savage has been charged with one felony count of aggravated robbery.

Christopher Savage. Photo: Chicago Police.

Westinghouse ADOPT Fuel Achieves Regulatory Approval

By Ned Fielder, The Chicago Times

March 14, 2023

CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, PA – Westinghouse Electric Company announced that it has received approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to use its Advanced Doped Pellet Technology fuel pellets in United States pressurized water reactors. Westinghouse said the approval follows a successful demonstration to the NRC and the Advanced Committee on Reactor Safeguards that ADOPT fuel enhances the safety and reliability of PWRs.

Westinghouse further developed its advanced pellet technology to increase the accident tolerance of conventional uranium dioxide fuel pellets.  Westinghouse said an agreement was announced with Southern Nuclear Company for inserting rods using HALEU ADOPT pellets with licensing and manufacturing in 2023.   According to Westinghouse, HALEU designates uranium enriched between 5 and 19.75 percent which is above the traditional threshold for commercial reactors. ADOPT fuel is expected to enable US customers to improve fuel cycle economics and extend operating cycles.  

“With this important milestone, ADOPT fuel becomes the first product within Westinghouse’s EnCore Accident Tolerant Fuel Program that is licensed for US PWRs.  ADOPT fuel is the result of two decades of in-reactor experience and provides our customers with improved fuel cycle economics and safety margins. This major achievement illustrates Westinghouse’s commitment to the future of nuclear power.” said Tarik Choho, Westinghouse President of Nuclear Fuel in a press release.

Westinghouse is expected to deliver reload quantities of ADOPT fuel for three units beginning in 2025.

Univar Solutions to be Acquired by Apollo for $8.1 Billion

By Grant McCormick, The Chicago Times

March 14, 2023

DOWNERS GROVE, IL – Univar Solutions Inc. announced today that it will be purchased by Apollo after the two companies entered into a definitive merger agreement to be completed in an all-cash transaction of approximately $8.1 billion.  According to Univar, the transaction includes a minority investment from a wholly owned subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

According to the agreement, Univar Solutions shareholders will receive $36.15 per share in cash, which represents a 20.6% premium to the Company’s undisturbed closing stock price on November 22, 2022.  When the merger is complete shares of Univar Solutions common stock will no longer trade on the New York Stock Exchange and Univar Solutions will become a privately held company. Univar Solutions will continue to operate under the Univar Solutions name and brand.

Chicago Police Warn Residents in Grand Crossing of Multiple Robberies

By Kwame Michaels, The Chicago Times

March 14, 2023

CHICAGO – The Chicago Police Department is warning residents in the Grand Crossing neighborhood of multiple carjackings and robberies in the area.

Police said that several robbery incidents have occurred throughout February and March in which 2-5 masked offenders approach victims sitting in their vehicle.  Victim reports indicate that the suspects demand victims to exit their vehicle at gunpoint and give them their property.  It has also been reported that one of the suspects entered a victim’s vehicle and removed the victim’s belongings. 

The suspects are described as 2-5 African American males wearing ski masks.  The vehicles used in the robberies include a white or light gray pickup truck, a black vehicle, and a white SUV.

Police said the robbery incidents occurred in the following locations:

7100 block of South Eberhart Ave., on February 23, 2023, at 12:45 A.M.

7300 block of South Indiana Ave., on February 28, 2023, at 07:22 P.M.

7100 block of South Vernon Ave., on March 02, 2023, at 11:15 A.M.

600 block of East 74th St., on March 12, 2023, at 01:30 A.M.

7200 block of South Eberhart Ave., on March 12, 2023, at 01:55 A.M.

Residents with information should contact Contact the Bureau of Detectives – Area One (312) 747-8384

17-Year-Old Charged in Armed Robbery in North Kenwood

By Edward LaSalle, The Chicago Times

March 14, 2023

CHICAGO – A 17-year-old male has been charged in the robbery of a female at gunpoint in the North Kenwood neighborhood.

Chicago police said the male suspect was taken into custody on Monday, at approximately 7:59 pm in the 3800 block of S. Cottage Grove Ave after being identified as one of the offenders who, minutes earlier, robbed a 16-year-old female victim at gunpoint in the 4500 block of S. Woodlawn Ave.  Police quickly located the suspect after he was discovered inside a reported stolen vehicle that had crashed into an unmarked Chicago Police Department vehicle.  

The suspect has been charged with one felony count of armed robbery and one misdemeanor count of criminal trespass.