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pothole in road with cars driving past

A pothole on North Milwaukee Avenue near West Diversey Avenue on April 10, 2023.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere

The Rundown: Who is liable when cyclists hit potholes?

Good afternoon! This week’s weather is pretty gloomy, but things should start to brighten up by New Year’s Eve. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Illinois Supreme Court finds Chicago is not liable for cyclists who hit potholes on roads not ‘intended’ for bikes

The city is not responsible for injuries suffered by a bicyclist in a 2019 accident because the court ruled that roads are for cars unless there is specific signage or bike lanes present.

Clark Alave filed a complaint against the city after allegedly hitting a 5-inch-deep pothole near Western and Leland avenues in Lincoln Square. Alave said he fractured his teeth and suffered facial cuts, scars and injuries to his hip and shoulder.

He accused the city of not maintaining the road. The Cook County circuit court dismissed the lawsuit in 2021, and an appellate court later reversed that decision and upheld the suit. [Chicago Sun-Times]

2. A 17-year-old Chicagoan received her Ph.D

Dorothy “Jeanius” Tillman recently completed the doctoral program in integrated behavioral health from Arizona State University, my colleague Kaitlin Washburn reports for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Tillman earned her bachelor’s degree at just 12 years old and a double masters in environmental and sustainable science at age 14.

The Bronzeville teen dedicated herself to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) education, and founded the Dorothyjeanius STEAM Leadership Institute in Chicago and the Dorothy Jeanius STEAM Labs in Chicago and West Cape Town, South Africa. She also advises the Ghanaian government on STEAM education and programs for youth.

But she said her academic journey is isolating at times.

“Not having the same things that my peers had, not getting to go to school dances and join school groups were what I was really missing out on,” Tillman told the Sun-Times. “I bring that to parents’ attention before they think about homeschooling their kids.” [Chicago Sun-Times]

3. A new program for West Side families wants to help in the tough first year of babies’ lives

West Side Healthy Parents & Babies connects mothers from the time they’re pregnant to one year postpartum with a variety of services they might need. The services can range from lactation consultants to finding an apartment.

The free program — a partnership between West Side United and Lurie Children’s Hospital — was created to help erase the life expectancy gap between the Loop downtown and 10 neighborhoods on the West Side. The gap is up to 14 years in some areas, with heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, homicide, cancer, infant mortality and opioid overdoses fueling the disparity.

There are already several home-visiting programs that can help families, WBEZ’s Kristen Schorsch reports that navigating which ones they qualify for and then getting a spot during a workforce shortage can be overwhelming. [WBEZ]

4. Holiday spending increased as wages grew faster than prices

Retail sales increased 3.1% from Nov. 1 to Dec. 24 compared to last year, The New York Times reports.

Experts say the holiday sales suggest the U.S. economy is still strong and the Federal Reserve may succeed in bringing down inflation by increasing interest rates.

As The New York Times reports: “Solid job growth is allowing people to spend more. And even though consumer prices have risen a lot in the last two years, wages have grown faster on the whole.”

However, some retailers say people are being cautious about their spending and waiting for sales before purchasing. [New York Times]

5. Popular MeTV horror movie host Svengoolie brings on sidekicks (and possible successors)

The show last year added some fresh talent to what’s long been considered a shoestring operation, Mitch Dudek reports for the Chicago Sun-Times.

After last year’s “Spawn of Svengoolie” talent search brought an avalanche of goofy audition videos, two names were welcomed to the newly formed Sven Squad. (And a third guy kind of snuck in the side door.)

Sarah Palmer, who works as a character actor at Universal Studios Hollywood theme park in California, plays Gwengoolie, who is described as a “gorgeous ghoul” and “an enchanting Hollywood, or Hollyweird, diva from the glamor age of cinema” who died 65 years ago and just arrived in Svengoolie’s dungeon.

Meanwhile, Chicagoan Scott Gryder now plays IMP (short for Ignatius Malvolio Prankenstein), the “devilishly ingratiating, and slightly grating, sly trickster who keeps claiming Svengoolie is his uncle.”

The Sven Squad is rounded out by Bill Leff, who plays Nostalgiaferatoo, an 800-year-old vampire. Leff was occasionally on the show before the most recent talent search but is now officially part of the Sven Squad. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Israel is preparing to expand its ground offensive in Gaza. [AP]

  • Cryptocurrencies are seeing a major recovery. [NPR]

  • Serious medical mistakes increased after private equity firms bought hospitals, a new study shows. [New York Times]

  • The Upper Midwest and Plains states are under a blizzard warning today. [CNN]

Oh, and one more thing …

Winter break means a lot of families are looking for ways to keep busy without breaking the bank. Luckily, there are several museums in the Chicago area that have free days for residents.

That includes popular downtown options such as the Adler Planetarium, which offers free admission 4-10 p.m. on Wednesdays year-round, and the Art Institute of Chicago, which is free for all children younger than 14 and Chicago teenagers 14-18 years old.

And there are neighborhood gems like the DuSable Black History Museum And Education Center in Washington Park, which is free every Wednesday, and Uptown’s Haitian American Museum, where kids under 12 get in free every day. [Block Club Chicago]

Tell me something good ...

It’s that time of year when we come up with new year’s resolutions (and often don’t make it until February). But this guide has some good suggestions for improving your life and don’t feel like typical resolutions.

So I’m wondering, what are your goals for the new year?

Feel free to email me, and your response might be shared in the newsletter this week.

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