CTA President Dorval Carter fails to ‘meet the moment’ at City Council hearing

As a frequent public transit user, I am deeply frustrated that CTA President Dorval Carter Jr. used his platform in Thursday’s City Council Transportation Committee hearing to suggest that alders and transit advocates are making him a “target” because of his race. Carter is the politically appointed official tasked with leading the CTA — elected officials “target” him because our political system makes it so. Put differently, if not Carter, who should alders call upon when constituents complain that they can no longer rely on the train or bus to get them where they need to go?

My alderperson, Angela Clay (who is Black) signed on to the City Council resolution calling for Carter’s resignation. Her decision followed an email to constituents in April in which she called for “new leadership” at the CTA. Without naming Carter once, she explained that “as a frequent CTA rider myself, I know the frustrations firsthand of waiting for a bus or train that never shows.”

Coupled with unsanitary conditions, reductions in service and overworked staff, Clay informed us that “CTA hasn’t come to the table to discuss how we can chart a path forward” and that new leadership was warranted for that reason. Her email eloquently conveyed the message of every elected official and advocate I have heard who has spoken on this issue, none of whom have attacked Carter personally.

At the hearing, Carter had the opportunity to — in his own agency’s words — “meet the moment” and constructively respond to criticism of CTA’s performance (Bear in mind that it’s almost two years since Ald. Andre Vasquez fought to get Carter to show up at City Council.)

Instead, Carter cynically suggested that his opponents are singling him out for his race, and that any critiques of his agency’s performance rest on cherry-picked “worst case scenarios” and “manipulated data,” belying recently released CTA timetables that impose service cuts across the city. CTA users and elected officials who want frequent, reliable, and safe public transportation deserve an agency leader who responds proactively and constructively when they complain in good faith about the system’s performance. It is clear that Carter is not up to this task, and Mayor Brandon Johnson should find a replacement who is willing to perform this essential function of the CEO’s job description.

Tex Pasley, Uptown

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Shame on University of Chicago

As a recipient of both a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, I find my alma mater’s repression of student protests embarrassing. For many years, I have bragged about how mature and intelligent the U of C administration had been when anti-war protests erupted in 1968. That year, in contrast to Columbia University, which called in police, the U of C administration let students work out their own timetable for ending the protests peacefully. This year, unfortunately, U of C followed Columbia’s infamous example and called in police. And now they are denying degrees to protesters who earned them. For shame!

Edward R. Kantowicz, Logan Square

In love with cricket

You would be forgiven if your first thought when hearing the word “cricket” is the poor puppy shot by a prominent but heartless politician in South Dakota. But cricket is also the name of a sport played with a bat, ball and a set of stumps called wickets.

Perhaps you associate this quintessentially British game with teams of 11 players, fielding positions many can’t memorize even after going through them a dozen times, or a five-day-long match that can often end with no result. But as it turns out, the gentlemen’s game is catching on in the home of the free and the brave.

In fact, the USA cricket team recently beat an International Cricket Council full-member nation, Bangladesh, in a T20I format series in the Houston exurbs. There is also another ICC Tournament coming up in this beautiful nation next month, called the T20 World Cup. I have to admit, I never imagined the heights to which a foreign game that has been my lifelong passion would blossom on this side of the Atlantic. The way it can bring people together like no other sport is truly mesmerizing. Here’s hoping we can soon see cricket become a popular sport in the Windy City in the near future. But for now, let us hit this tournament out of the park for 6!

Jay Deshpande, Buffalo Grove

De Niro’s portrayal of Italians is based on stereotypes

I must respectfully disagree with S.E. Cupp calling Robert De Niro a “brilliant” actor. Though he did show brilliant promise in the 1970s (“Mean Streets,” “Godfather II,” “The Deer Hunter” and even “New York, New York”), he hasn’t really done anything interesting since “Raging Bull” (1980).

And, even if one agrees with De Niro politically, I, as an American of Italian heritage, can’t help but expose his blatant double standard. Case in point: His endless film portrayals of Italian American men as either dumb or psychopathic, both then and now. And not even flesh-and-blood characters.

For example: In 2004’s animated film “Shark Tale,” De Niro, who is part Italian, lent his voice to the character of Don Lino, a killer “mafia” shark. When Italian American leaders pointed out the dangers of promoting gross stereotypes to children, De Niro was dismissive.

Where is De Niro’s anger when it comes to calling out Hollywood stereotypes?

True to form, De Niro’s next film is “Alto Knights” where he plays not one but two Italian American gangsters (Vito Genovese and Frank Costello). Double the defamation, double the fun?

Why isn’t he doing a biopic of Frank Stella, the great Italian American sculptor and artist who recently passed away? As De Niro’s own father was a painter, this would seem to be a no-brainer.

But, no: De Niro’s self-righteous political pride doesn’t extend to his ethnic pride.

The lesson is clear: Actors, like politicians, can also be hypocrites.

Bill Dal Cerro, Edison Park

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