NEAR WEST SIDE — From the temporary closure of Nuevo Leon restaurant to controversial material including in Chicago Public Schools' sex ed curriculum, a number of stories had Near West Side and Pilsen residents talking in 2014.
1. Racy CPS Sex Ed Plan Horrifies Parents: After racy sex ed slides surfaced in November, "horrified" Near West Side parents called for Chicago Public Schools to halt sex education in all grade schools.
Contending that the information was obscene and not age-appropriate, the shocking materials labeled for fifth graders at Andrew Jackson Language Academy contained phrases including "Once you pop, you don't have to stop!" and "Got issues? Lube! Lube! Lube!"
In a letter to parents, Jackson Principal Mathew Ditto said the materials were "mistakenly downloaded" and displayed in a binder labeled as curriculum for fifth-grade students. CPS officials said that the slides were meant to be used as teacher reference materials and promised to "scrub" all CPS sex ed materials, removing questionable slides in the process.
2. Shootings at Funky Buddha Lounge: Two high-profile shootings near Funky Buddha Lounge in November prompted neighbors to lead a month-long charge, calling for the longtime River West bar to close.
A second shooting prompted an off-duty Cook County Sheriff's officer to shoot an offender after he witnessed the man shooting at a group of people outside the club.
In December, Funky Buddha voluntarily closed its doors for seven days. Less than a week later, Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) said that the bar's co-owner, Nick Stavropoulos, indicated that he plans to sell the business and will close the bar within 10 months.
3. City Briefly Shuts Nuevo Leon: Popular Mexican restaurant Nuevo Leon in Pilsen had to close its doors for a day in July after city health inspectors ticketed it for multiple violations, including improperly stored food, fruit flies and live roaches.
The restaurant at 1515 W. 18th St. reopened after a follow-up inspection, according to data from the city's Department of Public Health.
The restaurant apologized to customers, but also criticized the "very self-satisfied inspector" who wrote the report.
4. Pilsen Metal Shredder Debate: The city's Zoning Board of Appeals approved the construction of a metal recycling plant despite heated opposition from residents and environmental groups. Approval of the 15-acre shredder at Loomis Street and Cermak Road was delayed multiple times before being granted in May.
In September, one of the partners in the project backed out, but the other owners said they planned to go forward with the project anyway.
5. Thalia Hall Reopens: A long-shuttered theater inside Thalia Hall on 18th Street in Pilsen hosted its first concert in decades in May. The venue inside the same building as Dusek's has since hosted a variety of shows, including the Smashing Pumpkins.
6. City Proposes Plan to Landmark Fulton Market: In April, the city proposed a plan that would designate major stretches of Randolph Street and Fulton Market as a historic district, but the plan wasn't met without opposition from the West Loop neighborhood.
By July, more than 60 business owners signed a petition objecting to having their buldings landmarked under the city plan. In October, about 40 business owners rallied against the city's Fulton/Randolph District Plan, demanding Mayor Rahm Emanuel withdraw the proposal.
Under the plan, about 125 area properties would be tagged as landmarks, a designation that would limit future development opportunities at the sites.
In December, the Randolph Fulton Market Association announced they had collected 94 forms from affected property owners who oppose the plan, according to Roger Romanelli, executive director of the group.
7. Inspector General Investigates Benito Juarez: A dramatic jump in attendance at Benito Juarez high school helped the school escape probation and earn praise from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. But the jump, as well as other undisclosed issues, also triggered an investigation by Chicago Public Schools' inspector general.
Some teachers at the school complained their records were changed by school administration. But school officials said the records were changed under a new policy that allowed students to make up missed classes and missed work.
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