Chicagoans respond to property tax hikes, R. Kelly’s new trial request denied and more in your Chicago news roundup

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Jolie Jimenez, 48, who said her property tax bill increased from about $1,000 to $11,000, stands outside her three-floor apartment in Pilsen.

Jolie Jimenez, 48, who said her property tax bill increased from $500 to $11,000, stands outside her three-floor apartment in Pilsen.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

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.

— Matt Moore (@MattKenMoore)

Expect more rain and sleet this afternoon with a chance of snow, ice accumulations and a high near 36 degrees. Tonight will see snow, possibly mixed with freezing rain, with a low near 16 and wind gusts as high as 40 mph. A winter weather advisory has been issued through 9 p.m. Tomorrow will be sunny with a high near 27.

Top story

‘A great injustice’: Property tax hikes lead to protests, workshops to help homeowners lower bills

Jolie Jimenez, like many homeowners, saw the property taxes for her family’s place in Pilsen spike this year and she’s crying foul and joining a campaign to reform the assessment process.

“This is a great injustice,” said Jimenez, 48. “I almost passed out when I saw the bill.”

The property taxes for the three-flat had been low because her mother, who owned it and passed away recently, qualified for homeowner, senior citizen and senior freeze exemptions; but Jimenez didn’t realize the bill would jump from about $1,000 to $11,000 annually.

Jimenez plans to fight it, starting by attending a property tax exemption workshop this weekend and by joining property tax reform demonstrations around Cook County. The upcoming workshop was announced Wednesday by Mi Villita Neighbors outside of a community center in Little Village, where leaders from the group also shared the plans for its upcoming campaign.

The community center, Universidad Popular, 2801 S. Hamlin Ave., is where the upcoming workshop will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday. It will be free and no registration is necessary. Help will also be available for Spanish speakers. Organizers are asking attendees to bring identification and proof of residency.

An analysis of tax bills released last year found property owners in gentrifying Latino neighborhoods in Chicago saw some of the biggest increases. On the Lower West Side, property owners saw their median tax bill jump from $4,964 to $7,239, a 46% increase, according to the analysis.

Not long after it was released, residents began to protest, demonstrating in a car caravan that began in Pilsen and ended outside the Cook County Building in the Loop. Today, The People Rule Coalition — the same group of Pilsen residents that organized the car caravan — planned to demonstrate outside the Cook County treasurer’s office, 118 N. Clark St.

Michael Loria has more on the response to property tax hikes here.

More news you need

Elections 2023

City Council races

The Feb. 28 election will likely be a test of whether voters in the 45th Ward associate incumbent Ald. Jim Gardiner with the start of several stalled, multimillion-dollar developments, or if they better recall a string of scandals that have plagued him since taking office.

The City Council rookie faces a field of five challengers, and while he has name recognition, it’s not necessarily the kind of recognition a candidate wants among potential voters.

The challengers are: Susanna Ernst, a community activist and marketing consultant; Megan Mathias, a lawyer; Ana Santoyo, a community organizer; James Suh, a local businessman; and Marija Tomic, who got an early boost to her campaign by publicizing video of Gardiner harassing volunteers collecting signatures to get her on the ballot.

Our Andy Grimm has more on the 45th Ward race here.

The race for the 4th Ward heated up last year with the decision of incumbent Ald. Sophia King to run for mayor. Candidates include Prentice Butler, King’s chief of staff; Ebony D. Lucas, a former teacher and lawyer; Helen West, an education administrator; Tracey Bey, a banker and real estate broker; Democratic state Rep. Lamont Robinson; and Matthew “Khari” Humphries, an activist and organizer.

The nearby 11th Ward is a similarly tight race. Incumbent Ald. Nicole Lee wasn’t elected to the role. She was appointed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and confirmed by the full City Council last year when Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson was forced to resign after being convicted of tax fraud by a federal jury.

Eleventh Ward candidates include Froylan “Froy” Jimenez, a CPS teacher and member of the CTU; Ambria Taylor, also a former CPS teacher; Elvira “Vida” Jimenez, a product developer; lawyer Steve Demitro; firefighter Don Don; and police officer Anthony Ciaravino.

Our Mary Norkol has more on the 4th Ward and 11th Ward races here.

A bright one

For Ennis Martin, sci-fi has space for everyone

From a young age, Ennis Martin was surrounded by a rich world of sci-fi – from his mom introducing him to “Doctor Who” to knowing by heart the sound of AT-AT footsteps in The Empire Strikes Back.

“A lot of my family are low-key unapologetically nerdy,” Martin recalled.

The South Side illustrator and painter is known for his otherworldly paintings, like whales with giant feet and various mythological figures. It’s no surprise that even as a child, as Martin recalls, he would decline coloring books, preferring to make his own lines and letting his imagination take over. His artistic skills were encouraged by his family, who constantly provided him with resources like sketchbooks and art tutors.

“My family was very big on, ‘Whatever you could do, just do it. And we’ll feed into that,’” he explained.

Screen_Shot_2023_02_16_at_1.38.55_PM__2_.png

Ennis Martin is a sci-fi fanatic, illustrator and painter who uses his art to push the boundaries of how science fiction can help make sense of being human.

Makenzie Creden/Vocalo Radio, Chicago Public Media

As Martin grew older, he moved away from drawing and illustration and gravitated toward the hip-hop and b-boy community. However, he reconnected with drawing through an introduction to graffiti.

“Graffiti kind of got me, really pushed me away from [painting] and pulled me back into it.” Martin described.

Once he began to illustrate, his love for science fiction shone through. This passion led him to create his art show Kryptonian Dreams. Held at aRRticles Gallery in September 2022, the show used sci-fi fantasy to explore Black positive imagery. Through his art, Martin is adamant about showing younger generations that they have control over what they want to create and see in the world.

“It’s just necessary for young people of color, whoever you are, to see yourself up on the screen… or in other forms,” Martin explained. “I’m gonna create my own, because with a paintbrush, I can do whatever I want.”

Our colleagues at Vocalo Radio have more with Martin here.

From the press box

Your daily question☕

If the Bears leave, what do you think the city should do with Soldier Field?

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

Yesterday we asked you: Can someone call themselves a “real Chicagoan” if they don’t ride CTA?

Here’s what some of you said...

“Nope. You’ve got to ride the CTA at least occasionally. Chicago is one of only two great American cities that is defined by its public transit system. All of its major event and sports venues, and both of its airports, are best reached by CTA trains and buses. It is where Chicagoans see themselves. For a wildly great time, ride the ‘L’ on the Saturday before Halloween in the early evening, when everyone will be riding in costume.” — Roger Deschner

“Of course. People have cars.” — David LaPlaca

“If they never have been on the CTA, then I would say they definitely cannot claim to be a Chicagoan.” — Amber Nicole Alvarado

“What in the hell does riding the CTA have to do with being a real Chicagoan? I’ve only been on the CTA once in my 35 years of life as a Chicagoan.” — Javier Bunny Martinez

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

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