Category Archives: Mugo Odigwe

R. Kelly’s Attorneys Delay Request For Singer To Go To Dubai For Concerts

CHICAGO (CBS) — R. Kelly’s attorneys on Friday asked a judge to wait to rule on their request to allow the embattled R&B singer to travel to Dubai in April to perform in concerts while he’s free on bond in his sexual abuse case.

Attorney Doug Anton said Kelly’s defense team wants time to provide more information on the concert plans before making their case to Judge Lawrence Flood.

“Although the pickup shows that we usually do in Dubai is something where an out of country talent will come into country, and then do personal appearances, and then book shows, the court requires a little more formality with regard to how we’re going to do that,” Anton said after the hearing. “So we’re going to make sure that we do everything the judge and the state need for us to do to comply with those formalities.”

Flood scheduled the next hearing in the case for May 7, after the planned concerts in Dubai, but lead defense attorney Steve Greenberg said he could ask the judge to schedule another hearing before then once they’ve gathered all the information they need to get a ruling in their favor.

“I want the court to be comfortable in making a decision,” Greenberg said.

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Kelly’s lawyers have said it’s been hard for the singer to find work in the United States since his arrest on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, and the earlier broadcast of the documentary “Surviving R. Kelly,” detailing multiple allegations of sexual and physical abuse.

“Robert needs to be working again,” Anton said.

In addition to the concerts in Dubai, Kelly is hoping to book other concerts in the U.S. and overseas. Anton said the singer has received approximately 150 emails in the past six weeks, with “offers to perform in just every place possible you can think on the planet.”

Greenberg said, although the United Arab Emirates does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S., Greenberg said Kelly has no intention of staying in Dubai, and would return to the United States after his concerts. He noted Kelly traveled all over the world while facing child pornography charges more than a decade ago, and never missed a court date in six years while that case was pending. Kelly was acquitted of those charges in 2008.

Kelly’s publicist, Darrell Johnson, said the singer is eager to “prove his innocence.”

“Right now he needs to get back to things he loves; basketball, music. Once he gets past that, he’s ready for trial,” Johnson said.

Greenberg has said Kelly is struggling to pay his legal bills and child support payments. He spent three nights in jail earlier this month after failing to pay more than $161,000 in overdue child support. His friends and family pooled together money to make those payments and get him out of jail.

Kelly has pleaded not guilty to the sexual abuse charges. As a condition of his bond, he was ordered to surrender his passport, and cannot leave Illinois without the judge’s permission.

Greenberg said, because of cancelled concerts in Illinois, being booted by his record label, and the removal of Kelly’s music from several streaming services, the R&B singer has been forced to look at other ways to make money, including traveling to Dubai to perform.

“I’ve never seen anyone who’s got this kind of a storm … whirling around him, and he gets up every day, and he still tries to do music. He shows up for court. He holds his head high,” Greenberg said.

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The alleged abuse goes back 20 years, spanning from 1998 to 2010. Prosecutors have said Kelly sexually abused four females, including three underage girls. Kelly allegedly had a witness make sex tapes of him having sex with one of the victims, a 14-year-old girl.

Allegations of Kelly’s sexual abuse go back decades and have prompted a recent nationwide protest called #MuteRKelly to boycott his music, in the wake of a Lifetime documentary, “Surviving R. Kelly,” featuring interviews with the music artist’s alleged accusers.

In 2008, Kelly was acquitted of child pornography charges connected to a videotape of him allegedly having sex with an underage girl. It took six years from the time Kelly was charged with the offense to the end of the trial. It took the jury less than a day to deliberate.

Early Voting Begins Today In Chicago Runoff Elections

CHICAGO (CBS) — Early voting begins Monday in all 50 wards, as voters cast ballots in the races for mayor, city treasurer, and 15 aldermanic races.

Voting sites open at 9 a.m., and will be open 7 days a week through April 1. Early voting began at the Loop Super Site on Friday.

You can check the hours of all the city’s early voting locations on the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners’ website.

If you still need to register to vote, you can do so at every early voting location.

Meantime, mayoral candidates Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle will appear together at the Chicago Architecture Center today to talk policy and the future of Chicago.

Aside from the mayor’s race, 11 aldermen are looking to keep their seats in runoff elections, and four open seats are up for election. Melissa Conyears-Ervin and Ameya Pawar also are facing off in the city treasurer’s race.

Constant Construction Noise At Addison Red Line Stop Has Wrigleyville Neighbors Sleep Deprived

CHICAGO (CBS) — Imagine hearing the loud noise of jackhammers and other heavy construction equipment for much of the day, and at night while you’re trying to sleep. That’s the reality for people living near the Addison station on the CTA Red Line, and some say their concerns are being drowned out.

“It’s a lot of drilling and banging noises. It’s pretty constant,” said Allie Judge, who lives along the Red Line in Wrigleyville.

Judge said she’s used to hearing noise as trains pass by her building at night, but the construction noise overnight is even louder.

“I guess it’s just hard to kind of concentrate sometimes. I’m a student, so … I was working on homework last night, and it was a little distracting,” Judge said.

She’s just one of many in Wrigleyville complaining about the noise.

“I wanted to go get a hotel for the night,” said Vicki Wysocki.

Lately, it’s been hard for Wysocki to get some sleep at night.

“I didn’t get any sleep at all. It got a little easier in the morning, just because I had to put a sound machine on; but other than that, I was up the entire night.”

The problem is CTA construction at the Addison station on the Red Line, with work going on through the night.

People who live along the Red Line between Cornelia and Waveland said it’s like hearing a jackhammer that just won’t stop.

“It went on all night long. I called 311, I called 911, and the noise just continued to go all night long,” Craig Collins said.

Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said the work is part of a federal project that simply has to be done.

“Those agencies are exempt from the noise ordinances that a private developer would be restricted,” he said.

In 2017, the Obama administration approved a $1.1 billion federal grant to rebuild miles of century-old track from Belmont to Howard. The work is meant to speed up trains and alleviate delays and overcrowding.

Tunney said the work must be done overnight.

“This idea of not having the hour restrictions is to try to get this done in a reasonable time, and within budget,” he said.

The CTA said working overnight helps reduce the overall time they are in the community, and allows the agency to complete the work at the Addison station before the Cubs’ home opener on April 8.

Still, residents said that’s not good enough.

“I’m counting down the days,” Wysocki said.

One neighbor said overnight drilling work did stop during the rain Wednesday night, but picked up again around 1:30 a.m.

As for Tunney, he said, “I will work to make sure that we try to have some peace and quiet in our neighborhood.”

Striking Chicago Symphony Musicians Picket Outside Orchestra Hall

CHICAGO (CBS) — Musicians with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra are walking the picket lines on Monday, after going out on strike.

The Chicago Federation of Musicians, which represents the CSO musicians, said they walked off the job Sunday and would not return until an agreement is reached. They said they simply want the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association to give them what they’ve earned.

The musicians plan to picket outside Orchestra Hall every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. until they have a new contract.

“This is really about the future of the orchestra,” said Steve Lester, a double bass player.

Lester said, for about a decade now, the orchestra’s musicians have not received competitive contracts.

“The kind of contracts we’ve been able to win have been slipping,” he said.

Musicians and the association have been negotiating for 11 months. The previous contract expired in September, but was extended until March 10 to facilitate continued negotiations. The musicians voted to authorize a strike last month.

A major sticking point in contract negotiations has been pensions. Musicians currently receive a defined benefit plan, meaning their pension levels are guaranteed.

“It has to be funded,” Lester said. “We think the association can afford that funding, they don’t.”

The union said the association is seeking to switch to a defined contribution plan.

“They just put in a set amount and whatever happens to that money is on you,” said Cynthia Yeh, a principal percussionist with CSO.

Yeh said she’s been with the orchestra for 12 years, and she signed up for the job with certain benefits in mind.

“Now 12 years later to say, ‘Oh, actually, by the way, that’s not going to happen,’” she said.

The CSO board of trustees released a statement stating it “would be irresponsible for the board to continue to authorize a pension program that jeopardizes the orchestra’s future.”

The association called the musicians’ contract demands “unreasonable and detrimental to a sustainable future for the CSO.”

“We are disappointed by the union’s choice to disrupt the CSO season now underway, and we are available to return to negotiations when they are ready,” CSO Association President Jeff Alexander stated. “We have worked tirelessly to be responsive to the musicians’ many proposals during negotiations and have responded with a package that provides exceptional benefits, offers salary increases, improves working conditions and protects their retirement benefits.”

Zoning Committe Debates Controversial $6 Billion Lincoln Yards Project

CHICAGO (CBS) — Aldermen are expected to take a crucial vote Thursday on the massive Lincoln Yards development project, as the City Council Zoning Committee debates whether to approve a controversial plan that would change the landscape of the North and Northwest sides.

Opponents of the $6 billion project gathered at City Hall on Thursday to voice their frustration with the approval process. They said there are a lot of unanswered questions, and they want to see a final plan for Lincoln Yards before it moves forward.

The Lincoln Yards project would redevelop more than 50 acres of largely industrial land along the North Branch of the Chicago River, between Bucktown and Lincoln Park.

Developers would add 6,000 new residential units, public transit upgrades, new bridges, an extension of the popular 606 trail, and new parks. It would create some 12 million square feet of new buildings, including skyscrapers as high as 500 feet.

Earlier this week, developer Sterling Bay doubled the number of affordable housing units that would be built on-site to 600, but a coalition of groups opposing the project said there’s still no information on whether those units will be family-sized.

Opponents also argued the units only would be affordable to families at 60 percent of the area median income, something they said is still out of reach for Chicagoans facing displacement. They want to see a final plan before aldermen approve $1.3 billion in tax increment financing to fund infrastructure improvements as part of the project.

“The $1.3 billion is not an investment. It is something that will be put on the head of every homeowner in the city to make up the property tax deficit. It is fiscally irresponsible. It is a rush job put out by an outgoing mayor, and we need to stop it,” said Andre Vasquez, a candidate for alderman in the 40th Ward.

The Zoning Committee plans to vote on the project on Thursday. A full City Council vote could follow as soon as next week.

Both candidates for mayor have called on the City Council to hold off on a final decision until a new mayor and new aldermen are sworn in.

Chicago Murders And Shootings On The Decline In First Two Months Of 2019

CHICAGO (CBS) — New Chicago crime numbers show a steep plunge in violent crime so far this year. There have been 44 murders in Chicago through the end of February, compared to 80 in the first two months of 2018, a 45 percent decline. As for shootings, there have been 214 so far this year, compared to 282 last year at this time, a drop of nearly 25 percent.

So far this year, four police districts – the 16th, 18th, 19th, and 20th; all on the North Side – have had no murders.

In February alone, murders dropped 40 percent compared to February 2018. Shootings were down 7 percent.

In five districts – the 1st, 5th, 16th, 19th, and 20th – there were no shootings in February 2019.

Police said their plan to reduce violence in the Chicago area is working. They attribute it to a combination of more officers and new technology.

Police said they’ve added 95 new officers to Chicago neighborhoods this year. More than two thirds of them have been assigned to districts on the South and West sides.

The department launched two new strategic decision support centers in February, in the 20th and 22nd districts. The so-called “nerve centers” are equipped with ShotSpotter gunshot detection systems and other high-tech crime-fighting tools. Police said that new technology has helped improve apprehension rates in those two districts.

Despite the drop in crime for most of the city, three police districts have seen a rise in shootings and murders this year.

In the 3rd District, there have been five murders this year, compared to four in the first two months of 2018. There were seven shootings through the end of February 2018, but 16 so far this year.

“I think right now, it is early in the year, so I’m not worried about it right now; but, of course, we’re watching it carefully, and if we need to redeploy some resources, we definitely will,” Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said.