Ald. Cardenas sides with Riot Fest vs. hospital

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Ald. George Cardenas (12th) said Sunday he’s siding with the organizers of next weekend’s Riot Fest in their legal dispute with Saint Anthony Hospital.

Citing safety and noise concerns, the hospital sued Friday in federal court to stop this year’s concert from taking place across the street in Douglas Park — where Riot Fest has moved after feuding with neighbors in Humboldt Park and Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th).

But Cardenas said he’s “100 percent” in favor of holding the three-day punk rock, heavy metal, hip-hop and rock festival as planned in Douglas Park starting Friday and believes the worries of hospital officials are exaggerated.

“It’s a shame we have to go through this,” Cardenas told the Chicago Sun-Times. “I think [Riot Fest] will be a shot in the arm for North Lawndale.”

RELATED: St. Anthony Hospital sues to block Riot Fest from nearby park

He added, “Saint Anthony Hospital should be fine. It’s a big park. It’s a huge space. There’s no reason why this can’t work to accommodate everybody’s wishes.”

The alderman criticized the hospital for taking its case to court.

“It’s not how we do business here in the city,” Cardenas said.

Riot Fest’s lawyer, Homero Tristan, is chairman of Chicago Latino Public Affairs Committee, which has contributed nearly $37,000 to Cardenas’ campaign fund since 2010.

Cardenas said the contributions he’s gotten from the political group are unrelated to his position on Riot Fest.

“They are a [committee] that gives a lot of people money,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with CLPAC. It has nothing to do with this particular situation.”

Riot Fest was held in Humboldt Park from 2012 until last year. But Maldonado said he did not support Riot Fest’s return this year because his constituents were unhappy with organizers for failing to promptly repair “deplorable” damage to Humboldt Park during the 2014 event.

Riot Fest announced on May 20 that it would move to Douglas Park this year.

Now, officials of Saint Anthony’s allege the 45,000 people attending the festival each day will severely impact operations at the nonprofit hospital at 2875 W. 19th St.

On Sunday, a spokeswoman for Riot Fest produced what she said were emails sent Wednesday by lawyers for the hospital asking organizers to pay nearly $154,000 — including costs incurred by Saint Anthony’s because of the event and legal fees of about $55,000.

In the emails, the lawyers said Saint Anthony’s would not sue if organizers made the payment and changed event layout and street-closure plans.

Kathryn Grosso, the hospital’s spokeswoman, declined to comment on those emails but characterized the discussion differently: “Riot Fest made a substantial monetary offer for our silence and it was rejected because Riot Fest refused to address our very real patient and employee safety issues.”

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