WBEZ | Congress Theater http://www.wbez.org/tags/congress-theater Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Eddie Carranza books his first Portage Theater concert http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-06/eddie-carranza-books-his-first-portage-theater-concert-107640 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1kidink.jpg" title="" /></div><p>A little more than three weeks after pulling the plug on movies at the historic Portage Theater on the Northwest Side, controversial venue owner Erineo &ldquo;Eddie&rdquo; Carranza is putting tickets on sale tomorrow for his first musical offering at that venue: a show by Los Angeles rapper Kid Ink.</p><p>Tickets to the July 13<sup>th</sup> show go on sale Wednesday for $25 through <a href="http://www.ticketfly.com/">Ticketfly.com</a>. It is being advertised as an all-ages event; Carranza is fighting the revocation of his liquor license at the Congress Theater and has not yet secured a liquor license at his second venue the Portage.</p><p>Carranza had promised concerned residents at Six Corners that bookings at the Portage would be more in keeping with the neighborhood than the hip-hop and electronic dance acts featured at the Congress. It is open to debate how Kid Ink, born Brian Todd Collins and the author of jams such as &ldquo;Neva Gave a F---,&rdquo; &ldquo;Lost in the Sauce,&rdquo; &ldquo;Crazy (Loco),&rdquo; and &ldquo;Rumpshaker,&rdquo; fits that bill.</p><p>Meanwhile, building code violations at the Congress are contributing to an ever-lengthening roster of canceled shows there, <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20130611/logan-square/congress-theater-shows-canceled-postponed-due-new-construction-problem">as reported by DNAinfo</a>.</p><p>The newest problem involves improper scaffolding on the first floor of the theater and work that was progressing without a permit. Once again, the city Law Department has ordered the theater closed until these problems are resolved.</p><p>Among the canceled performances at the Congress: the Evolution Music Tour, rescheduled from last weekend until July 27; a show by Juanes on Thursday, and the Still Awake Afterparty show on Friday.</p><p><strong><u>Earlier reports about Carranza, the Congress and the Portage theaters:</u></strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-05/portage-theater-didn%E2%80%99t-have-close-it-did-107368">May 26: The Portage Theater didn&rsquo;t have to close, but it did</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-05/congress-theater-liquor-license-revoked-107360">May 24: Congress Theater liquor license revoked</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-05/congress-theater-safe-or-not-106931">May 1: Is the Congress Theater safe or not?</a></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong>@JimDeRogatis</strong></a><strong> <em>or join me on </em></strong><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><em><strong>Facebook</strong></em></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Tue, 11 Jun 2013 14:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-06/eddie-carranza-books-his-first-portage-theater-concert-107640 Community groups scramble after Portage Theater closes http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-05/community-groups-scramble-after-portage-theater-closes-107425 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/1513199400_5c3d405ff8_o.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Built in 1920, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portage_Theater">The Portage Theater</a> is one of Chicago&rsquo;s cinematic treasures.</p><p dir="ltr">Literally, the building&rsquo;s facade and interior space is landmarked.</p><p dir="ltr">But since a renovation in 2006, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/PortageTheater">the Portage </a>has developed a stellar reputation for its eclectic screenings of classic, silent, and horror movies, many of which are rare and/or can only be found on film.</p><p dir="ltr">That speaks to the partnerships the Portage has formed with a number of local film societies. &nbsp;And that&rsquo;s why so many local film buffs were left in the lurch when the Portage abruptly shut down recently.</p><p dir="ltr">But the closing has had a big impact on other community groups as well.</p><p dir="ltr">Today I talked with Mark Goles, who has been the volunteer assistant manager at the Portage for the past four years.</p><p dir="ltr">His job these days is finding new venues for all the groups, from schools to dance troupes, who were displaced when new owner (since late last year) Eddie Carranza shut things down.</p><p dir="ltr">Now the Portage&rsquo;s commitment to being a community resource goes way back as well. &nbsp;The theater is an anchor of the &ldquo;six corners&rdquo; business district on Chicago&rsquo;s northwest side. Gaper&rsquo;s Block has a great summary of some of the theater&rsquo;s key moments<a href="http://gapersblock.com/ac/2012/04/19/celluloid-graft-puppies-the-abbreviated-portage-theater-story/"> here</a>, including its stint selling war bonds and raffling puppies.</p><p dir="ltr">These days, Goles says they do graduations, weddings and birthday parties. Here&rsquo;s a short list of some of the other events/organizations that are searching for new space.</p><p dir="ltr">1. The Portage has been home to a number of dance troupes, including <a href="http://www.ricodancestudio.com/">Rico Music and Dance.</a> Rico was supposed to do a second performance of their &ldquo;Voice of a Child&rdquo; gospel play this Sunday (the first one sold out). &nbsp;Goles said he found them a new venue at <a href="http://www.schurzhs.org/">Schurz High School.</a></p><p dir="ltr">2. <a href="http://williampgrayschool.schoolfusion.us/">William P. Gray Elementary School.</a> The school has held its 8th grade graduation at The Portage for the past 5 years. A school official said they&rsquo;ve decided to use their own auditorium this year, though it isn&rsquo;t big enough. But there was no time to find another location.</p><p dir="ltr">3. <a href="http://6cornersbbqfest.com/?page_id=3494">6 Corners BBQ Fest</a> Like any other neighborhood, Portage Park has its share of summer festivals. The Portage participated with screenings and a wrestling event put together by Goles (who previously brought WWF champion CM Punk to the Portage!). Goles says he&rsquo;s looking for another venue.</p><p dir="ltr">4. <a href="http://spookshowentertainment.com/">Spook Show Entertainment</a> produced the Laugh or Die comedy festival, The Prairie State Film Festival and the Chicago Horror Film Festival. They&rsquo;re still in search of a new venue.</p><p dir="ltr">5. <a href="http://cfaff.org/">The Chicago Filipino American Film Festival </a>was booked at the Portage. No new location has been announced.</p><p dir="ltr">6. <a href="https://www.facebook.com/PortageTheater">Northwest Chicago Film Society</a>, the <a href="http://www.silentfilmchicago.com/">Silent Film Society</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/PortageMonsterShows">Monster John&rsquo;s Monster Shows</a>, and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/terrorintheaisles">Terror in the Aisles</a> all had regular programs at The Portage. Northwest found alternative venues for some of their immediate screenings; but are still looking for a long-term solution. Meanwhile Goles says the annual Silent Summer Film Festival, which typically runs July through August, is still looking for a space.</p><p>If you know of other community groups looking for space - or who&rsquo;ve found a home - please let me know!</p><p><b id="docs-internal-guid-60f38713-f355-8b5d-d001-758cfbfed1e0" style="font-weight:normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Alison Cuddy is WBEZ&rsquo;s Arts and Culture reporter. Follow her</span><a href="https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy" style="text-decoration:none;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(17, 85, 204); font-style: italic; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">@wbezacuddy</span></a><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">, on</span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison?ref=tn_tnmn" style="text-decoration:none;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(17, 85, 204); font-style: italic; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Facebook</span></a><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> and on</span><a href="http://instagram.com/cuddyreport" style="text-decoration:none;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(17, 85, 204); font-style: italic; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Instagram.</span></a></b></p></p> Wed, 29 May 2013 21:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-05/community-groups-scramble-after-portage-theater-closes-107425 Congress Theater gets another pass from the city http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-05/congress-theater-gets-another-pass-city-107101 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/congress_flickr_nickis.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="DJ Bassnectar at the Congress Theater in Chicago on April 14, 2012. (Flickr/Nicki Spunar)" />In his third appearance in Cook County Circuit Court Thursday facing a long list of building, health, and fire code violations at the 87-year-old Congress Theater, controversial venue owner Erineo &ldquo;Eddie&rdquo; Carranza once again was given the &ldquo;all&rsquo;s clear&rdquo; to continue operating.</div><p>During the court appearance, which lasted less than five minutes, attorneys for the city and Carranza updated Judge James McGing on building renovations, including the removal of obstructions from passageways in the corridors and installation of back-up lighting on the upper floors. Another inspection was scheduled for May 22, with another court date the following day.</p><p>Judy Frydland, the deputy corporation counsel who is the city&rsquo;s top building code enforcement official and the attorney prosecuting the case, said that there is a &ldquo;small show&rdquo; tomorrow night (the <a href="http://venue.congresschicago.com/event/256667-electric-circus-chicago/">Electric Circus</a> DJ event), but nothing else is scheduled past that date.&nbsp;This, however, contradicts the theater&rsquo;s list of upcoming concerts advertised <a href="http://venue.congresschicago.com/">on its own website</a>.</p><p>Carranza&rsquo;s lawyer said he wants a &ldquo;short court date&rdquo; for May 23, because they only have a few &ldquo;minor&rdquo; repairs to go and then they&rsquo;ll be &ldquo;ready to rock and roll,&rdquo; reopening the upper floors and restoring the capacity to one of the largest music venues in the city.</p><p>Thursday&rsquo;s quick hearing comes as no surprise, since <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-04/city-wants-congress-theater-shut-down-immediately-106698">after filing a lawsuit on April 12</a> seeking the immediate closure of the Congress based on a harrowing, 26-item, literally A-to-Z list of &ldquo;dangerous and hazardous&rdquo; building, health, and fire code violations, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-04/congress-theater-allowed-remain-open-next-inspection-scheduled-106799">the city flip-flopped a mere 10 days later</a> and declared that the main floor of the venue could remain open, though the second and third floors have been shut since January, and capacity is reduced from over 5,000 to 3,000.</p><p>Frydland <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-05/congress-theater-safe-or-not-106931">told this blog on May 1</a> that the city &ldquo;tries to work with&rdquo; venues like the Congress because, &ldquo;Theaters are like churches&hellip; They&rsquo;re also older buildings with large assemblies.&rdquo; Of course, crowds dense with 18-year-olds&mdash;some of them over-served with alcohol or high on drugs, according to testimony before the Liquor Commission&mdash;generally do not dance the night away in most churches.</p><p>As Chuck Sudo <a href="http://chicagoist.com/2013/04/23/congress_theater_gets_another_repri.php">wrote on Chicagoist on April 23</a>, &ldquo;Carranza has nine lives, a genie who granted him three wishes, a lucky rabbit&rsquo;s foot, a backyard full of four-leaf clovers, and a horseshoe planted firmly up his ass.&rdquo; Well, we now can assume that there also is a rainbow hovering over his Logan Square theater, as well as a stash of wishbones in its basement.</p><p>Carranza may not be so lucky on other fronts, however. While the latest <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-05/congress-theater%E2%80%99s-neighbor-%E2%80%98sometimes-i-feel-i%E2%80%99m-monitoring-fifth-0">Deleterious Impact/Public Nuisance hearing Tuesday</a> found the Department of Business Affairs cautiously optimistic about progress, the owner is awaiting a ruling about whether the Congress can keep its liquor license, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-04/congress-theater-defends-itself-liquor-commission-106912">following three hearings before the Liquor Commission</a> that included testimony about fights, drug activity, and security&rsquo;s mistreatment of concertgoers.</p><p>The venue owner also may be stymied in his plans to bring more music to another vintage theater at Six Corners on the Northwest Side, the Portage, which he purchased last September, two months before his bank filed a $4 million foreclosure suit (since settled) against the Congress.</p><p>On Wednesday, the City Council granted the Portage Theater landmark status, which could frustrate Carranza&rsquo;s plans for the venue to host live music as well as movies. Ald. John Arena (45<sup>th</sup>) has expressed extreme skepticism about Carranza and live music at the venue, and he praised the landmark designation <a href="https://www.facebook.com/john.arena.14/posts/10151757978018888">on his Facebook page</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;May the light from the projection booth shine long and bright for generations to come,&rdquo; Arena wrote.</p><p><strong><u>Earlier reports about Carranza, the Congress and the Portage theaters:</u></strong></p><p><br /><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-05/congress-theater%E2%80%99s-neighbor-%E2%80%98sometimes-i-feel-i%E2%80%99m-monitoring-fifth-0">May 7: Congress Theater&rsquo;s neighbor: &lsquo;Sometimes I feel like I&rsquo;m monitoring a fifth-grader running the venue&rsquo;</a> (By Leah Pickett and Jim DeRogatis)</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-05/congress-theater-safe-or-not-106931">May 1: Is the Congress Theater safe or not?</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-04/congress-theater-defends-itself-liquor-commission-106912">April 30: Congress Theater defends itself before the Liquor Commission</a> (By Leah Pickett and Jim DeRogatis)</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-04/congress-theater-allowed-remain-open-next-inspection-scheduled-106799">April 23: Congress Theater allowed to remain open, next inspection scheduled</a> (Alison Cuddy reporting)</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-04/city-wants-congress-theater-shut-down-immediately-106698">April 17: City wants the Congress shut down immediately</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-03/chicago-police-official-congress-theater-untruthful-night-underage">March 27: Chicago police official: Congress Theater &lsquo;untruthful&rsquo; on night of underage drinking</a> (Leah Pickett reporting)</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/fate-portage-theater-remains-mystery-105970">March 8: The fate of the Portage remains a messy mystery</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/congress-theater-liquor-hearing-rescheduled-105941">March 6: Congress Theater hearing rescheduled</a> (Robin Amer reporting)</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-02/congress-theater-restoration-underway-it%E2%80%99s-got-long-way-go-105685">Feb. 22: Congress Theater restoration underway, but it&rsquo;s got a long way to go</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-01/congress-theater-liquor-hearings-begin-undercover-cops-testimony-104950">Jan. 16: Congress Theater liquor hearings begin with undercover cop&rsquo;s testimony</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-12/rally-save-portage-theater-we-know-it-104169">Dec. 3, 2012: A rally to save the Portage Theater &lsquo;as we know it&rsquo;</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-11/congress-theater-defaults-4-million-loan-104101">Nov. 29, 2012: Congress Theater defaults on $4 million loan</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-11/portage-theater-uses-graham-elliot%E2%80%99s-name-vain-104089">Nov. 28, 2012: The Portage Theater uses Graham Elliot&rsquo;s name in vain</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-11/congress-theaters-new-security-chief-ex-cop-troubled-past-103611">Nov. 2, 2012: Congress Theater&rsquo;s new security chief: An ex-cop with a troubled past</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-10/congress-theater-police-calls-rank-soldier-field-united-center-103569">Oct. 31, 2012: Congress Theater police calls rank with Soldier Field, United Center</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/how-did-things-turn-so-bad-so-fast-portage-theater-102606">Sept. 23, 2012: How did things turn so bad so fast at the Portage Theater?</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/new-owner-portage-theater-moves-evict-current-operators-102602">Sept. 22, 2012: New Owner of the Portage Theater moves to evict current operators</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/congress-theater-splits-development-partner-102451">Sept. 16, 2012: Congress Theater splits with development partner</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/portage-theater-what%E2%80%99s-eddie-102350">Sept. 11, 2012: The Portage Theater: What&rsquo;s Eddie up to?</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-07/congress-theater-partners-up%E2%80%A6-and-looks-expand-101199">July 26, 2012: Congress Theater partners up&hellip; and looks to expand</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/culture/art/chicago-officials-scrutinize-public-safety-other-neighborhood-concerns-congress-theater">April 18, 2012: Chicago officials scrutinize public safety, other neighborhood concerns at Congress Theater</a> (Robin Amer reporting)</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-04/more-trouble-congress-theater-98249">April 14, 2012: More trouble at the Congress Theater</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-28/critical-congress-security-headliner-brings-his-own-97696">March 28, 2012: Critical of Congress security, headliner brings his own</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-25/congress-theater-responds-complaints-97597">March 25, 2012: Congress Theater responds to complaints</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-22/city-congress-theater-clean-your-act-97549">March 22, 2012: City to Congress Theater: Clean up your act!</a></p></p> Thu, 09 May 2013 12:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-05/congress-theater-gets-another-pass-city-107101 Congress Theater defends itself before the Liquor Commission http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-04/congress-theater-defends-itself-liquor-commission-106912 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1congress%20theater_flickr_ian%20friemuth.jpg" title="(flickr/Ian Friemuth)" /></div><p>After two sessions of damning testimony presented by the city which could result in the revocation of his liquor license, embattled Congress Theater owner Erineo &ldquo;Eddie&rdquo; Carranza had his turn to defend himself Tuesday in the third proceeding before Deputy Hearings Commissioner Robert Nolan.</p><p>Harlan Powell, Carranza&rsquo;s fourth attorney in the last seven months, called three witnesses to refute the earlier evidence presented by the city.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-01/congress-theater-liquor-hearings-begin-undercover-cops-testimony-104950">The first hearing in mid-January</a> included testimony from an undercover police officer with the Chicago vice squad who was investigating complaints that theater security guards seize drugs from concertgoers and resell them. Police also reported five incidents that &ldquo;violated a state law regulating narcotics or controlled substances&rdquo; at the venue between September 3, 2011, and April 15, 2012, and a patron testified that that he was beaten by venue security after a show on May 27.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-03/chicago-police-official-congress-theater-untruthful-night-underage">At the second hearing in late March</a>, a Chicago Police sergeant testified that Congress staffers lied about serving alcohol when his unit arrived to investigate suspicions of underage drinking during a DJ Rusko set in May 2012. Nolan also heard testimony that the emergency room of Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center in Wicker Park reported several concertgoers &ldquo;of various ages&rdquo; arriving from the Congress in a private ambulance with symptoms of extreme intoxication, many of them &ldquo;barely breathing,&rdquo; and that the staff had not reported to police a large fight during a Chief Keef show in April 2012.</p><p>On Tuesday, Ahmad Mahidi, manager of the Congress since 2004, testified that on the night of the DJ Rusko set last May, Chicago police officers arrived and asked Mahidi if staffers were serving alcohol inside. Mahidi said they were, then called his brother Atieh, speaking over a walkie-talkie in Arabic, and told him to turn off the 10 beer taps, even though police had not instructed the venue to do so.</p><p>The testimony conflicted with Sgt. Joseph Giambrone&rsquo;s testimony in March, and Assistant Corporation Counsel Maggie Shiels challenged Mahidi in cross-examination. Giambrone said that when he asked Mahidi if they were serving alcohol at the venue, Mahidi said no, gave instructions in Arabic through the walkie-talkie, then ran ahead of the police officers into the venue. When the officers walked inside, they observed Mahidi and his brother turning off the taps, Giambrone said.</p><p>Also testifying for Carranza: Jonathan Errum, who has worked security at the Congress for two years. He testified that after the DJ Armin van Buuren show ended &ldquo;before midnight&rdquo; on May 26, 2012, he got a call on the walkie-talkie from Chris Willis, a security guard with electronic dance music concert promoters React Presents, who said that a patron spit on him outside the theater and he needed assistance.</p><p>Errum said he then went to the back alley with two other security guards and saw concertgoer Marco Garcia handcuffed and held by Willis and another React Presents security guard, Ramon Montenegro. Errum claims to have never touched Garcia, and he said that Mahidi was not present when he led them to the security office. He also said that he had never met Willis or Montenegro before this incident, and he never saw them again after.</p><p>Again, the city attorney challenged the witness, saying that he did in fact see Montenegro again on January 15, 2012, during the first Liquor Commission hearing. Garcia also identified them on that date in January, saying they were part of the group of six to eight security guards who attacked him in the alley. Garcia further testified that Mahidi was the one who released his handcuffs, and was present for much of the ordeal, which Errum denies.</p><p>Errum also was present on the night of the fight that undercover cop Officer Robert McCallum witnessed on April 13, 2012, during the Chief Keef concert. Errum testified that a heated exchange began in the lobby &ldquo;between 9 and 10 p.m.&rdquo; and got physical outside. He said they broke up the fight involving about 10 men in two to three minutes minutes, and then they dispersed.</p><p>McCallum told a much different story in January, testifying that the fight started inside just before 10:15 p.m., and a call for more police assistance was placed at 10:18. During a testy 10-minute back-and-forth, Commissioner Nolan said there either were two fights&mdash;one that only occurred outside, as Errum claims, and one that Officer McCallum witnessed inside the venue&mdash;or one of the witnesses is lying.</p><p>Finally, Carranza called Rizwan Hussain, project manager and soon-to-be-licensed architect working on improvements at the 87-year-old theater.</p><p>Powell called Hussain to the stand to refute <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-22/city-congress-theater-clean-your-act-97549">the Public Nuisance/Deleterious Impact charge</a>, since he claimed to have been involved in renovating the Congress Theater even before these charges were filed in March 2012. However, Shiels objected and Commissioner Nolan sustained on the grounds that the city is not prosecuting the physical condition of the building&mdash;at least in this case.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-04/city-wants-congress-theater-shut-down-immediately-106698">In separate legal proceedings initiated by the city</a>, the Congress is being sued to correct a literally A-to-Z list of &ldquo;hazardous, dangerous&rdquo; conditions at the venue. The judge in that case <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-04/congress-theater-allowed-remain-open-next-inspection-scheduled-106799">is allowing the main floor of the theater to remain open</a> pending the next city inspection, but the second and third floors have been closed to the public since January, and capacity has been reduced from 5,000 to 3,000.</p><p>The hearing ended with closing arguments as Shiels maintained that police officers Giambrone and McCallum and concertgoer Garcia are credible witnesses who have no reason to lie about what they saw, while people associated with the Congress have a lot to lose if the venue loses its liquor license.</p><p>Powell responded that the police reports for the Public Nuisance charge were &ldquo;lazy legislation&rdquo; and hearsay, while Garcia&rsquo;s testimony was more confusing than compelling since he identified the security guards &ldquo;by clothing&rdquo; and not as &ldquo;individual people.&rdquo;</p><p>The attorney added that Carranza is in an impossible situation of &ldquo;damned if you do, and damned if you don&rsquo;t&rdquo; because &ldquo;none of these incidents would have come to the city&rsquo;s attention without the licensee reporting them.&rdquo; Carranza reported these incidents to the city as required, and now he&rsquo;s being punished for it, Powell said, concluding that arrest reports aren&rsquo;t enough evidence to declare the business a public nuisance.</p><p>Nolan closed the hearing by saying he will take the case under advisement and make a recommendation to the Liquor Commission at an unspecified time in the future. The next session of Deleterious Impact/Public Nuisance hearings against the theater takes place on Tuesday, May 7, while the next hearing on the physical violations at the building takes place on May 9.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett" target="_blank">Leah Pickett</a> blogs for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett</a>.</em></p><p><strong><u>Earlier reports about Carranza, the Congress and the Portage theaters:</u></strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-04/congress-theater-allowed-remain-open-next-inspection-scheduled-106799">April 23: Congress Theater allowed to remain open, next inspection scheduled</a> (Alison Cuddy reporting)</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-04/city-wants-congress-theater-shut-down-immediately-106698"><u>April 17: City wants the Congress shut down immediately</u></a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-03/chicago-police-official-congress-theater-untruthful-night-underage"><u>March 27: Chicago police official: Congress Theater &lsquo;untruthful&rsquo; on night of underage drinking</u></a> (Leah Pickett reporting)</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/fate-portage-theater-remains-mystery-105970"><u>March 8: The fate of the Portage remains a messy mystery</u></a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/congress-theater-liquor-hearing-rescheduled-105941"><u>March 6: Congress Theater hearing rescheduled</u></a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-02/congress-theater-restoration-underway-it%E2%80%99s-got-long-way-go-105685"><u>Feb. 22: Congress Theater restoration underway, but it&rsquo;s got a long way to go</u></a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-01/congress-theater-liquor-hearings-begin-undercover-cops-testimony-104950"><u>Jan. 16: Congress Theater liquor hearings begin with undercover cop&rsquo;s testimony</u></a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-12/rally-save-portage-theater-we-know-it-104169"><u>Dec. 3, 2012: A rally to save the Portage Theater &lsquo;as we know it&rsquo;</u></a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-11/portage-theater-uses-graham-elliot%E2%80%99s-name-vain-104089"><u>Nov. 28, 2012: The Portage Theater uses Graham Elliot&rsquo;s name in vain</u></a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-11/congress-theaters-new-security-chief-ex-cop-troubled-past-103611"><u>Nov. 2, 2012: Congress Theater&rsquo;s new security chief: An ex-cop with a troubled past</u></a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-10/congress-theater-police-calls-rank-soldier-field-united-center-103569"><u>Oct. 31, 2012: Congress Theater police calls rank with Soldier Field, United Center</u></a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/how-did-things-turn-so-bad-so-fast-portage-theater-102606"><u>Sept. 23, 2012: How did things turn so bad so fast at the Portage Theater?</u></a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/new-owner-portage-theater-moves-evict-current-operators-102602"><u>Sept. 22, 2012: New Owner of the Portage Theater moves to evict current operators</u></a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/congress-theater-splits-development-partner-102451"><u>Sept. 16, 2012: Congress Theater splits with development partner</u></a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/portage-theater-what%E2%80%99s-eddie-102350"><u>Sept. 11, 2012: The Portage Theater: What&rsquo;s Eddie up to?</u></a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-07/congress-theater-partners-up%E2%80%A6-and-looks-expand-101199"><u>July 26, 2012: Congress Theater partners up&hellip; and looks to expand</u></a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-04/more-trouble-congress-theater-98249"><u>April 14, 2012: More trouble at the Congress Theater</u></a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-28/critical-congress-security-headliner-brings-his-own-97696"><u>March 28, 2012: Critical of Congress security, headliner brings his own</u></a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-25/congress-theater-responds-complaints-97597"><u>March 25, 2012: Congress Theater responds to complaints</u></a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-22/city-congress-theater-clean-your-act-97549"><u>March 22, 2012: City to Congress Theater: Clean up your act!</u></a></p></p> Tue, 30 Apr 2013 16:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-04/congress-theater-defends-itself-liquor-commission-106912 Congress Theater allowed to remain open, next inspection scheduled http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-04/congress-theater-allowed-remain-open-next-inspection-scheduled-106799 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/congress_0.jpg" style="float: right; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="File: Congress Theater. (Flickr/Gary Eckstein)" />An inspection of the Congress Theater Monday found sufficient progress to remain open at least for the next few weeks.</p><p>&quot;The majority of the most serious violations are complied,&quot; according to Judy Frydland, the lawyer representing the city.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-04/city-wants-congress-theater-shut-down-immediately-106698">Those violations include poor wiring, ventilation and obstructed exits, among other things.</a></p><p>Last week Frydland <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20130418/logan-square/congress-theater-remain-open-this-weekend-but-more-inspections-come#ixzz2RJ232Q7B" target="_blank">told DNA Info Chicago</a> that the Congress now has fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors, improved wiring, and a functional fire curtain. It&#39;s not clear if ventilation issues have been addressed.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re going to pursue this case until they&#39;re in compliance,&quot; Frydland said in court on Tuesday. Judge James McGing then ruled that the theater can continue selling tickets to upcioming shows as long as capacity on the main floor is capped at 3,000.</p><p>The second and third floors of the 87-year-old venue have been closed since January and will remain blocked off to concert-goers until violations on those balconies are remedied.</p><p>City agencies will hold another inspection the week of the next hearing on May 9. But the building violations are not the only problem that controversial venue owner Erineo &quot;Eddie&quot; Carranza faces.</p><p>The next hearing in Liquor Commission proceedings that could cost Carranza his liquor license takes place a week from today, on Tuesday, April 30. And the next session of Deleterious Impact/Public Nuisance hearings against the theater take place on Tuesday, May 7, continuing the closer look that city officials and neighbors first initiated in March 2012.</p><p>The controversy surrounding the theater continues to shock other Chicago venue owners and music promoters, whose memories are long. They maintain that if the city had been quicker to scrutinize the E2 nightclub and penalize existing building violations there, 21 people may not have died in a 2003 tragedy.</p><p>&quot;I can&#39;t understand how [Carranza] has stayed open as long as he has, or why the city lets him continue,&quot; said the owner of a venue a quarter of the size of the Congress. &quot;I&#39;ve been hassled for much, much less, and you can&#39;t even complain, because it&#39;s about public safety.&quot;</p><p>Another promoter questioned why the city was &quot;raising a red flag so late in the game. We all know Eddie is negligent, but what about the city?&quot;</p><p>Added yet another live music insider: &quot;That list of infractions at the Congress scares the s--t out of me.&quot;</p><p><i>Alison Cuddy contributed to this report.&nbsp;</i></p><p><strong><u>Earlier reports about Carranza, the Congress and the Portage theaters:</u></strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-04/city-wants-congress-theater-shut-down-immediately-106698">April 17: City wants the Congress shut down immediately</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-03/chicago-police-official-congress-theater-untruthful-night-underage">March 27: Chicago police official: Congress Theater &lsquo;untruthful&rsquo; on night of underage drinking</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/fate-portage-theater-remains-mystery-105970">March 8: The fate of the Portage remains a messy mystery</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/congress-theater-liquor-hearing-rescheduled-105941">March 6: Congress Theater hearing rescheduled</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-02/congress-theater-restoration-underway-it%E2%80%99s-got-long-way-go-105685">Feb. 22: Congress Theater restoration underway, but it&rsquo;s got a long way to go</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-01/congress-theater-liquor-hearings-begin-undercover-cops-testimony-104950">Jan. 16: Congress Theater liquor hearings begin with undercover cop&rsquo;s testimony</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-12/rally-save-portage-theater-we-know-it-104169">Dec. 3, 2012: A rally to save the Portage Theater &lsquo;as we know it&rsquo;</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-11/portage-theater-uses-graham-elliot%E2%80%99s-name-vain-104089">Nov. 28, 2012: The Portage Theater uses Graham Elliot&rsquo;s name in vain</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-11/congress-theaters-new-security-chief-ex-cop-troubled-past-103611">Nov. 2, 2012: Congress Theater&rsquo;s new security chief: An ex-cop with a troubled past</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-10/congress-theater-police-calls-rank-soldier-field-united-center-103569">Oct. 31, 2012: Congress Theater police calls rank with Soldier Field, United Center</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/how-did-things-turn-so-bad-so-fast-portage-theater-102606">Sept. 23, 2012: How did things turn so bad so fast at the Portage Theater?</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/new-owner-portage-theater-moves-evict-current-operators-102602">Sept. 22, 2012: New Owner of the Portage Theater moves to evict current operators</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/congress-theater-splits-development-partner-102451">Sept. 16, 2012: Congress Theater splits with development partner</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/portage-theater-what%E2%80%99s-eddie-102350">Sept. 11, 2012: The Portage Theater: What&rsquo;s Eddie up to?</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-07/congress-theater-partners-up%E2%80%A6-and-looks-expand-101199">July 26, 2012: Congress Theater partners up&hellip; and looks to expand</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-04/more-trouble-congress-theater-98249">April 14, 2012: More trouble at the Congress Theater</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-28/critical-congress-security-headliner-brings-his-own-97696">March 28, 2012: Critical of Congress security, headliner brings his own</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-25/congress-theater-responds-complaints-97597">March 25, 2012: Congress Theater responds to complaints</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-22/city-congress-theater-clean-your-act-97549">March 22, 2012: City to Congress Theater: Clean up your act!</a></p></p> Tue, 23 Apr 2013 11:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-04/congress-theater-allowed-remain-open-next-inspection-scheduled-106799 Chicago cop calls Congress Theater 'untruthful' at hearing http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/chicago-cop-calls-congress-theater-untruthful-hearing-106337 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/congress%20theater_flickr_ian%20friemuth_0_0.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="The Congress Theater, located at 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave., has been charged with five drug-related violations by the Chicago Liquor Control Commission. (Flickr/Ian Freimuth)" />Sgt. Joseph Giambrone testified that Congress Theater staffers lied about serving alcohol when his unit arrived to investigate suspicions of underage drinking during a DJ Rusko set in the early hours of May 6, 2012.</p><p>Giambrone&rsquo;s testimony came during a disciplinary hearing at City Hall Tuesday morning, the second conducted by Chicago&rsquo;s Liquor Control Commission looking into alleged illegal activities at the Congress. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-03/chicago-police-official-congress-theater-untruthful-night-underage">WBEZ&#39;s Leah Pickett has more on the hearing.</a></p></p> Wed, 27 Mar 2013 20:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/chicago-cop-calls-congress-theater-untruthful-hearing-106337 Chicago police official: Congress Theater 'untruthful' on night of underage drinking http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-03/chicago-police-official-congress-theater-untruthful-night-underage <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/congress%20theater_flickr_ian%20friemuth_0.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px; " title="The Congress Theater, located at 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave., has been charged with five drug-related violations by the Chicago Liquor Control Commission. (Flickr/Ian Freimuth)" /></p><div class="image-insert-image ">A Chicago Police Department official has accused the Congress Theater of failing to cooperate with officers during an investigation into underage drinking at the venue.</div><p>Sgt. Joseph Giambrone testified that Congress staffers lied about serving alcohol when his unit arrived to investigate suspicions of underage drinking during a DJ Rusko set in the early hours of May 6, 2012.</p><p>Giambrone&rsquo;s testimony came during a disciplinary hearing at City Hall Tuesday morning, the second conducted by Chicago&rsquo;s Liquor Control Commission looking into alleged illegal activities at the Congress.</p><p>During his testimony, Giambrone described a call from the emergency room of Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center in Wicker Park that reported several concertgoers &ldquo;of various ages&rdquo; arriving from the Congress Theater via private ambulance with symptoms of extreme intoxication, many of them &ldquo;barely breathing.&rdquo;</p><p>Giambrone said that when officers arrived on the scene, Congress managers Atieh Abdelhadi and Ahmad Mahidi met him outside the venue and denied serving alcohol during the show.</p><p>Next, Giambrone said he observed Mahidi talking on his radio in &ldquo;a language that wasn&rsquo;t English,&rdquo; and then witnessed Abdelhadi running ahead to unscrew taps in the lobby bar and place cups upside down over the spigots as officers entered the venue.</p><p>Once inside, Giambrone claimed to see employees &ldquo;activating tap devices&rdquo; and serving &ldquo;amber-hued&rdquo; liquid to patrons by the stage.</p><p>Giambrone said he was also present at the Congress on the night of April 13, 2012, when his unit responded to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-22/city-congress-theater-clean-your-act-97549">a large fight</a> during a Chief Keef show. The venue did not call 911 to report this incident; defense attorney Harlan C. Powell hypothesized that venue staffers may have tried to call out to police officers already on the scene.</p><p>Powell questioned the credibility of the city&rsquo;s investigation, calling the allegations against his client &ldquo;grossly prejudicial.&rdquo;</p><p>To support his claim, Powell brought up a meeting that took place between Giambrone and the Congress Theater following these incidents. Powell said that during the meeting, venue personnel said they understood that any calls made to the police by the Congress would not be brought up in disciplinary actions.</p><p>However, Deputy Hearings Commissioner Robert Nolan rejected Powell&rsquo;s argument, stating that the events at issue occurred before any alleged conversations took place.</p><p>Tuesday&rsquo;s hearing was originally scheduled for March 6. But Powell &ndash; <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/congress-theater-liquor-hearing-rescheduled-105941">the third attorney</a> to represent venue owner Erineo &ldquo;Eddie&rdquo; Carranza since his <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-22/city-congress-theater-clean-your-act-97549">troubles with city agencies</a> began in March of 2012 &ndash; requested more time to review the case from Deputy Commissioner Nolan.</p><p>The next hearing is scheduled for April 30.</p><p><em>Prior reporting by Jim DeRogatis. Research assistance by Jennifer Grandy.</em></p><p><strong><u>Earlier reports about Carranza, the Congress and the Portage, from Jim DeRogatis:</u></strong></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/fate-portage-theater-remains-mystery-105970">March 8: The fate of the Portage remains a messy mystery</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/congress-theater-liquor-hearing-rescheduled-105941">March 6: Congress Theater hearing rescheduled</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-02/congress-theater-restoration-underway-it%E2%80%99s-got-long-way-go-105685">Feb. 22: Congress Theater restoration underway, but it&rsquo;s got a long way to go</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-01/congress-theater-liquor-hearings-begin-undercover-cops-testimony-104950">Jan. 16: Congress Theater liquor hearings begin with undercover cop&rsquo;s testimony</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-12/rally-save-portage-theater-we-know-it-104169">Dec. 3, 2012: A rally to save the Portage Theater &lsquo;as we know it&rsquo;</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-11/portage-theater-uses-graham-elliot%E2%80%99s-name-vain-104089">Nov. 28, 2012: The Portage Theater uses Graham Elliot&rsquo;s name in vain</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-11/congress-theaters-new-security-chief-ex-cop-troubled-past-103611">Nov. 2, 2012: Congress Theater&rsquo;s new security chief: An ex-cop with a troubled past</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-10/congress-theater-police-calls-rank-soldier-field-united-center-103569">Oct. 31, 2012: Congress Theater police calls rank with Soldier Field, United Center</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/how-did-things-turn-so-bad-so-fast-portage-theater-102606">Sept. 23, 2012: How did things turn so bad so fast at the Portage Theater?</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/new-owner-portage-theater-moves-evict-current-operators-102602">Sept. 22, 2012: New Owner of the Portage Theater moves to evict current operators</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/congress-theater-splits-development-partner-102451">Sept. 16, 2012: Congress Theater splits with development partner</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/portage-theater-what%E2%80%99s-eddie-102350">Sept. 11, 2012: The Portage Theater: What&rsquo;s Eddie up to?</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-07/congress-theater-partners-up%E2%80%A6-and-looks-expand-101199">July 26, 2012: Congress Theater partners up&hellip; and looks to expand</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-04/more-trouble-congress-theater-98249">April 14, 2012: More trouble at the Congress Theater</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-28/critical-congress-security-headliner-brings-his-own-97696">March 28, 2012: Critical of Congress security, headliner brings his own</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-25/congress-theater-responds-complaints-97597">March 25, 2012: Congress Theater responds to complaints</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-22/city-congress-theater-clean-your-act-97549">March 22, 2012: City to Congress Theater: Clean up your act!</a></u></p><p><em>Leah Pickett blogs about pop culture for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 27 Mar 2013 12:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-03/chicago-police-official-congress-theater-untruthful-night-underage Congress Theater restoration underway, but it’s got a long way to go http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-02/congress-theater-restoration-underway-it%E2%80%99s-got-long-way-go-105685 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/congress theater_Bey.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Following in its tradition of surprisingly gullible and shortsighted reporting on Chicago&rsquo;s most troubled music venue, DNAinfo.com declared in a headline yesterday that &ldquo;<a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20130221/logan-square/congress-theater-owner-wants-restore-it-its-1920s-glory">Congress Theater Owner Wants Venue Restored to Its 1920s Glory</a>,&rdquo; adding in the lede of the story: &ldquo;The days may be numbered for anyone who loves to complain about the dismal bathrooms.&rdquo;</p><p>Well, controversial venue owner Erineo &ldquo;Eddie&rdquo; Carranza may indeed want the historic theater restored to its prime. But as is made clear in the city Building Department&rsquo;s ongoing legal proceedings against him, which cite a daunting list of 37 violations, he&rsquo;s got a long way to go to get there.</p><p>In fact, city inspectors recently ordered the Congress closed to the public for eight days, from Jan. 31 to Feb. 7, because of the lack of quick-release &ldquo;panic bars&rdquo; on exit doors&mdash;a situation that proved fatal during the notorious stampede at the E2 Nightclub in 2003.</p><p>Furthermore, the violations on the upper levels of the building have resulted in the second and third floors being sealed off to concertgoers. The only exception is that patrons are allowed access to the second-floor bathroom&mdash;the dismal state of which remains open to debate.</p><p>Carranza and the Congress are doing battle with the city on three fronts, any one of which could result in shuttering the venue. Hearings before the Liquor Commission could result in the loss of the theater&rsquo;s liquor license; the next session takes place on March 5. Hearings on the building code violations, which are being prosecuted by an attorney from the Law Department&rsquo;s Drug and Gang House Enforcement Section, opened on Jan. 31 and resume on May 9. Finally, there are the much-publicized Deleterious Impact/Public Nuisance proceedings, which resume on May 7, and which prompted the other two, potentially more serious lawsuits.</p><p>While DNAinfo reporter Victoria Johnson cheerfully quotes Carranza&rsquo;s optimistic promises for a spiffy Congress development that will include a community center, a premium bar, a café, a restaurant, an ice cream shop, a grocery store and a second, smaller nightclub, and her photographs show a fresh coat of paint being applied here and there, the substance of the 37 building code violations or the recent closures at the venue are not addressed.</p><p>&ldquo;There are serious problems at the Congress,&rdquo; a city official told this blog. &ldquo;While the owner seems intent on remedying them, it is going to take a ton of money just to bring the building up to code.&rdquo;</p><p>Lighting repairs alone top $100,000, the official added. &ldquo;And that&rsquo;s just the tip of the iceberg.&rdquo;</p><p>Meanwhile, Carranza has had no further word on the mysterious corporate partner and savior he promised <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20121217/logan-square/partnership-works-for-congress-portage-theaters">DNAinfo</a> in early January. As this blog earlier reported, representatives of the monopolistic national concert giant Live Nation met early in the new year with city officials and discussed an interest in leasing and operating both the Congress and the Portage theaters, though there has been no action in that regard in the last seven weeks.</p><p>Live Nation has so far declined to respond to requests for comment today and in mid-January.</p><p><strong><u>Earlier reports about Carranza, the Congress and the Portage:</u></strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-01/congress-theater-liquor-hearings-begin-undercover-cops-testimony-104950">Jan. 16: Congress Theater liquor hearings begin with undercover cop&rsquo;s testimony</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-12/rally-save-portage-theater-we-know-it-104169">Dec. 3, 2012: A rally to save the Portage Theater &lsquo;as we know it&rsquo;</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-11/portage-theater-uses-graham-elliot%E2%80%99s-name-vain-104089">Nov. 28, 2012: The Portage Theater uses Graham Elliot&rsquo;s name in vain</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-11/congress-theaters-new-security-chief-ex-cop-troubled-past-103611">Nov. 2, 2012: Congress Theater&rsquo;s new security chief: An ex-cop with a troubled past</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-10/congress-theater-police-calls-rank-soldier-field-united-center-103569">Oct. 31, 2012: Congress Theater police calls rank with Soldier Field, United Center</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/how-did-things-turn-so-bad-so-fast-portage-theater-102606">Sept. 23, 2012: How did things turn so bad so fast at the Portage Theater?</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/new-owner-portage-theater-moves-evict-current-operators-102602">Sept. 22, 2012: New Owner of the Portage Theater moves to evict current operators</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/congress-theater-splits-development-partner-102451">Sept. 16, 2012: Congress Theater splits with development partner</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/portage-theater-what%E2%80%99s-eddie-102350">Sept. 11, 2012: The Portage Theater: What&rsquo;s Eddie up to?</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-07/congress-theater-partners-up%E2%80%A6-and-looks-expand-101199">July 26, 2012: Congress Theater partners up&hellip; and looks to expand</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-04/more-trouble-congress-theater-98249">April 14, 2012: More trouble at the Congress Theater</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-28/critical-congress-security-headliner-brings-his-own-97696">March 28, 2012: Critical of Congress security, headliner brings his own</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-25/congress-theater-responds-complaints-97597">March 25, 2012: Congress Theater responds to complaints</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-22/city-congress-theater-clean-your-act-97549">March 22, 2012: City to Congress Theater: Clean up your act!</a></p></p> Fri, 22 Feb 2013 12:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-02/congress-theater-restoration-underway-it%E2%80%99s-got-long-way-go-105685 Linksomania: Too many street fairs; the Congress rules the world; moon music and more http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-11/linksomania-too-many-street-fairs-congress-rules-world-moon-music-and <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1marketdays.jpg" style="height: 640px; width: 640px;" title="Market Days street fest on North Halsted (Flickr/Creative Commons, Tony B)" /></div><p>Has Chicago reached Street Fest glut? &ldquo;Heck yeah!&rdquo; is my response, as well as the chronic complaint from owners of our beloved music venues whose business drops dramatically every summer as they compete with events ranging from Lollapalooza and Pitchfork to Ribfest and Rock Around the Block. <a href="http://www.roscoeviewjournal.com/news/as-street-fests-multiply-organizers-ask-are-there-too-many">Now a well-reported piece by Paul Wilson on the <em>Roscoe View Journal</em> reaches the same conclusion.</a></p><p>Despite the new challenges the city is placing in the way of street fairs, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-27/chicago%E2%80%99s-indie-festivals-face-increased-challenges-97668">which were protested loud and clear at the festival-organizers&rsquo; &ldquo;ground-truthing&rdquo; meeting for the cultural plan</a>, they continue to proliferate. Though they&rsquo;re no longer nearly as profitable as they once were, the <em>Roscoe View Journal</em> puts the increase in these boisterous parties at 67 percent since 2005.</p><p>&ldquo;Several years ago, it was much easier to net $50,000 to $100,000 in income from a street fest&rdquo;&mdash; and that money was crucial to many neighborhood groups, one organizer says. Now, &ldquo;$100,000 is almost unheard of,&rdquo; thanks to the increase in competition and the fact that many of these gatherings, which prompt street closings that hurt some local businesses, are indistinguishable from one another.</p><p>Not to the mention that, from the point of view of the music lover, 95 percent of the sounds featured on these stages are mediocre to painfully awful.</p><p><strong>* * *</strong></p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Congress%20Huff.jpg" style="height: 281px; width: 640px;" title="" /></div><p>Though the <em>Huffington Post</em> in general is notoriously and blithely unconcerned with original reporting, the website recently made an error that is egregious even by its own sloppy standards. Lifting unchecked a piece from something called Party Earth, it trumpets the miserable Congress Theater as one of the five best music venues in the world.</p><p>Never mind that even the most ardent fans of the electronic dance and underground hip-hop shows the venue books while others in town ignore these genres wouldn&rsquo;t list the 1920s-era theater among the five best in Chicago, let alone the universe. Yet this piece of silliness ranks it beside the Paradisco in Amsterdam, Columbia Halle in Berlin, Le Grand Rex in Paris and &mdash; get this &mdash; the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.</p><p>&ldquo;If you&#39;re looking to see a great live show in a completely unique environment, catch a concert at one of Party Earth&rsquo;s favorite music venues from around the world,&rdquo; the piece concludes in what amounts to (presumably unpaid) advertising. Of course, enjoying the Congress helps if you&rsquo;re experiencing what Rimbaud called &ldquo;the systematic derangement of the senses.&rdquo;</p><p>And speaking of which, last week&rsquo;s hearing to revoke the controversial theater&rsquo;s liquor license was postponed until Jan. 15. Calls to the liquor commission on the specifics of the complaints against the Congress have gone unreturned, and WBEZ is awaiting a response to a Freedom of Information Act request.</p><p><strong>* * *</strong></p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1Edgar_Mitchell_cropped.jpg" title="Astronaut Edgar Mitchell" /></div><p>Here&rsquo;s a fun submission from a follower: A website called RRAuction.com is taking bids on a 60-minute cassette that astronaut Edgar Mitchell carried to the moon in 1971 aboard Apollo 14, the third NASA flight to land on the moon. No word on the quality of the lunar module&rsquo;s sound system, which Mitchell piloted, but Texas-born Navy vet had didn&rsquo;t have half-bad taste. (That is to say, the half without Blood Sweat &amp; Tears, James Taylor or the 5th&nbsp;Dimension wasn&rsquo;t bad.)</p><p>The full play list:</p><p>Side A: 1. &ldquo;Sweet Blindess,&rdquo; the 5th Dimension; 2. &ldquo;Spinning Wheels,&rdquo; Blood, Sweat &amp; Tears&rdquo;; 3. &ldquo;Looking Out My Back Door,&rdquo; Creedence Clearwater Revival; 4. &ldquo;Fire &amp; Rain,&rdquo; James Taylor; 5. &ldquo;Lucretia Macevil,&rdquo; Blood, Sweat &amp; Tears; 6. &ldquo;Commotion,&rdquo; CCR; 7. &ldquo;Heard It Through the Grapevine,&rdquo; Marvin Gaye; 8. &ldquo;And When I Die,&rdquo; Blood, Sweat &amp; Tears; 9. &ldquo;Got the Fever,&rdquo; Blood Sweat &amp; Tears.</p><p>Side B: 1. &ldquo;Something,&rdquo; the Beatles; 2. &ldquo;Cloudy,&rdquo; Simon &amp; Garfunkel; 3. &ldquo;Aquarius (Let the Sunshine In),&rdquo; the 5th Dimension; 4. &ldquo;Here Comes the Sun,&rdquo; the Beatles; 5. &ldquo;Sometimes in Winter,&rdquo; Blood, Sweat &amp; Tears; 6. &ldquo;Sweet Baby James,&rdquo; James Taylor; 7. &ldquo;Who&rsquo;ll Stop the Rain?,&rdquo; CCR; 8. &ldquo;God Bless the Child,&rdquo; Blood, Sweat &amp; Tears; 9. &ldquo;Homeward Bound,&rdquo; Simon &amp; Garfunkel.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1moontape.jpg" style="height: 428px; width: 640px;" title="" /></div><p>Looking for a unique Christmas present? Bidding ends on Nov. 29, and starts at only $200 &mdash; though it&rsquo;s sure to shoot skyward quickly (ouch!).</p><p><strong>* * *</strong></p><p>Finally, if you&rsquo;ve ever wondered why MTV is so unconcerned with playing, you know, actual music anymore, here&rsquo;s a brief clip submitted by a follower in which a network head answers that question as posed by a young viewer.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/9ysyZF-DZFY" width="560"></iframe></p><p><em>(This is a spoof, by the way. . . &nbsp;I think.)</em></p></p> Tue, 13 Nov 2012 14:20:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-11/linksomania-too-many-street-fairs-congress-rules-world-moon-music-and Congress Theater's new security chief: An ex-cop with a troubled past http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-11/congress-theaters-new-security-chief-ex-cop-troubled-past-103611 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bill%20Whelehan.jpg" style="height: 356px; width: 280px; float: left;" title="Congress Theater security chief and former Chicago police officer Bill Whelehan (Andrew Gill/WBEZ)" />The consultant who spoke about great strides forward in security at the troubled Congress Theater during Wednesday&rsquo;s fourth Deleterious Impact/Public Nuisance Hearing is a former Chicago police officer fired in June 2011 for what the Police Board called &ldquo;dangerous and offensive conduct.&rdquo;</div><p>Bill Whelehan is one of three managers of <a href="http://blucorpconsultants.com/">BluCorp Consultants</a> listed in state corporate filings. He formed the new company in February with his father, a retired police lieutenant also named Bill, and his brother-in-law, John Curry, who still serves on the police force. The firm began providing security to the Congress, its first major client, about 10 weeks ago.</p><p>The younger Whelehan, the point person for the firm at the theater, was fired by a unanimous vote of the nine-member Police Board after an altercation with a neighbor over an errant pet in November 2009 on the city&rsquo;s far Northwest Side. According to the board&rsquo;s Findings and Decision, Whelehan was guilty of:</p><blockquote><p>&nbsp;&ldquo;Provoking an altercation by placing a bag of dog feces on [the neighbor]&rsquo;s doorstep; calling [the neighbor] a nigger; pointing a gun without justification at [the neighbor], who was not armed and not threatening the Respondent; failing to identify himself as a police officer when drawing his weapon, and writing false official reports and making false official statements in an attempt to cover up his misconduct.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>The board concluded that Whelehan&rsquo;s conduct was &ldquo;sufficiently serious to constitute a substantial shortcoming that renders his continuance in his office detrimental to the discipline and efficiency of the service of the Chicago Police Department.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/BCC-FNL.jpg" style="float: right;" title="" />Whelehan, who was 27 when the incident happened, could not be reached. But Curry, the firm&rsquo;s public relations spokesman, defended his brother-in-law for the altercation in the past and lauded the firm&rsquo;s work at the Congress in the present. (Police Department regulations do not prohibit active officers from owning security businesses, but Curry says to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest, he is not directly involved in day-to-day oversight of the Congress.)</p><p>(Disclosure: Curry is a friend of a woman who often babysat my daughter about 10 years ago.)</p><p>&nbsp;&ldquo;I believe the Police Board firing was wrong, but their finding was their finding,&rdquo; Curry said. &ldquo;We were brought in to help fix the Congress&mdash;I live two blocks away with my family&mdash;and we&rsquo;re trying to fix a publicity problem and a functional security problem. Billy is doing a great job there implementing good security procedures, and we do what we do there based on the guidelines of the law.&rdquo;</p><p>Though Wednesday&rsquo;s hearing included some testimony about security difficulties since BluCorp began working at the Congress, including the handling of a young woman with medical problems who security believed was intoxicated and several intrusive incidents by security looking for drug use in curtained-off bathroom stalls, two neighbors who spoke said they believe security has improved since BluCorp took the job.</p><p>Congress owner Erineo &ldquo;Eddie&rdquo; Carranza and his attorney Thomas Raines also defended their new security partner and the job his firm is doing.</p><p>Wrote Carranza via email: &ldquo;Most of us have been fired from some job at some point... As you heard yesterday, BluCorp is doing a great job at the Congress and most of that has to do with Bill. Whatever happened in the past is in the past. Bill is a relatively young guy and I think he deserves a second chance. We all saw from the comments about the job BluCorp is doing at Congress yesterday that Bill is making the most of his opportunity here. I&rsquo;m glad I gave him that opportunity.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/carranza-crop.jpg" style="height: 348px; width: 350px; float: left;" title="Eddie Carranza (Andrew Gill/WBEZ)" />Added Raines in a phone interview: &ldquo;These guys are running a good security firm at the Congress. I admire Eddie&rsquo;s stance on this: &lsquo;He&rsquo;s doing a great job. He doesn&rsquo;t deserve a second chance?&rsquo; I don&rsquo;t think there&rsquo;s anything wrong with that. The guy deserves a second chance and it looks like he&rsquo;s making the most of it.&rdquo;</div><p>First Ward Ald. Proco Joe Moreno, who missed the latest Congress hearing to attend a City Council meeting, said he had been unaware of Whelehan&rsquo;s background before he was informed by a reporter. Moreno has long urged Carranza to hire &ldquo;a proper and legitimate security company&rdquo; to replace in-house security staffers.</p><p>&ldquo;I was hoping that they finally had done that,&rdquo; Moreno said. &ldquo;Now I&rsquo;m concerned and I find this very disturbing that this is the company they went with.&rdquo;</p><p>Meanwhile, the Deleterious Impact/Public Nuisance proceedings are not the only front in which Carranza and the Congress are fighting with the city to stay in business. The theater also is facing the potential revocation of its liquor license, and a second hearing in those proceedings&mdash;which Moreno&rsquo;s office has not been part of&mdash;will take place in room 805 at City Hall at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.</p><p>Also scheduled for next week: the eviction hearing for the Portage Theater management company, whom Carranza is hoping to oust from the second major venue he recently purchased. Those proceedings are set to take place before Judge Leonard Murray in Cook County Circuit Court at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong><u>Earlier reports about Carranza, the Congress and the Portage:</u></strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-10/congress-theater-police-calls-rank-soldier-field-united-center-103569">Oct. 31: Congress Theater police calls rank with Soldier Field, United Center</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/how-did-things-turn-so-bad-so-fast-portage-theater-102606">Sept. 23: How did things turn so bad so fast at the Portage Theater?</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/new-owner-portage-theater-moves-evict-current-operators-102602">Sept. 22: New Owner of the Portage Theater moves to evict current operators</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/congress-theater-splits-development-partner-102451">Sept. 16: Congress Theater splits with development partner</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/portage-theater-what%E2%80%99s-eddie-102350">Sept. 11: The Portage Theater: What&rsquo;s Eddie up to?</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-07/congress-theater-partners-up%E2%80%A6-and-looks-expand-101199">July 26: Congress Theater partners up&hellip; and looks to expand</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-04/more-trouble-congress-theater-98249">April 14: More trouble at the Congress Theater</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-28/critical-congress-security-headliner-brings-his-own-97696">March 28: Critical of Congress security, headliner brings his own</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-25/congress-theater-responds-complaints-97597">March 25: Congress Theater responds to complaints</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-22/city-congress-theater-clean-your-act-97549">March 22: City to Congress Theater: Clean up your act!</a></p></p> Fri, 02 Nov 2012 06:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-11/congress-theaters-new-security-chief-ex-cop-troubled-past-103611