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Wednesday, May 27

Gapers Block

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The Mechanics

Op-Ed Wed May 27 2015

Riot Fest and the Problem With Public-Private Partnerships

Riot FestRiot Fest, the increasingly popular punk-themed festival, recently made the decision to move from Humboldt Park to Douglas Park in North Lawndale. The move comes after Ald. Roberto Maldonado vowed to keep Riot Fest from returning, which spurred neighborhood residents to stand their ground and protect the park, which was heavily damaged after the most recent festival.

The conflict is possibly being reduced to just fighting gentrification, but that is not the only problem.

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Monica Reida / Comments (1)

Op-Ed Thu May 21 2015

Memorial Day Awakening - 2015

By Arnold Stieber

An awakening... to summer festivities and the anticipation of warm weather and fun, picnics, a holiday — that's what Memorial Day is for most. Some will march in parades or stand on the sidelines waving flags and unwittingly support the military model of conflict resolution by violence. There will be words like "heroes" and "bravery" and "God bless America."

memorial day parade chicago
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army.

The Chicago Memorial Day parade is Saturday, May 23. It's billed as the largest Memorial Day parade in the nation. As an Army infantry veteran of the U.S. war against the people of Vietnam, I attended the parade in 2013 with several members of Veterans For Peace. We were expecting to see a somber memorial parade that recognized the death and destruction caused by war. Instead we saw militarized police and fire departments, military groups and military vehicles. At least 80 percent of the parade was hundreds and hundreds of children, in military uniforms, proudly marching behind military banners. We were overwhelmed with sorrow.

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Mechanics / Comments (1)

Police Tue May 12 2015

Chicago Mothers March to Remember Children Killed by Police


Panzy Edwards, the mother of 15-year-old Dakota Bright who was killed by Chicago police in 2012, addressed demonstrators Saturday evening before leading a march to the Third District Police Station. (Photo/ Emily Gray Brosious)

A group of mothers protested police violence Saturday evening on the South Side, near the spot where 15-year-old Dakota Bright was fatally shot by Chicago police in 2012.

"My baby was 15 and he was taken away," said Bright's mother, Panzy Edwards. "And the third district cops have no remorse."

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Emily Brosious / Comments (0)

Event Mon May 04 2015

Join Your Neighbors for On the Table 2015

On the Table 2015On May 12, the Chicago Community Trust, the region's largest charitable foundation, turns 100 years old. To begin a yearlong celebration of its centennial, the Trust is once again hosting On the Table, a day of events at which thousands of Chicagoans will come together over a meal to talk about ways we can make our communities stronger, safer and more dynamic through collaboration and philanthropy.

The conversations will happen over breakfast, lunch and dinner -- or even just drinks. They may be in someone's home, a restaurant or the office. There is still time to register to host an On the Table event yourself, or to find one to attend.

Gapers Block is proud to join the organizers of the Sister Neighborhoods initiative for an On the Table event at the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia Ave., from 6 to 9pm. There will be soup served, Soup & Bread-style, in the back room of the Hideout, followed by a presentation about Sister Neighborhoods -- an initiative to foster hospitality across communities in the city and suburbs by facilitating an exchange of cultural awareness and barrier breaking activities -- and conversation about how to make the idea a reality. The event is free, but donations will be accepted to benefit the Chicago Help Initiative, a nonprofit providing meals to the homeless.

We hope you'll join us. Please register here, and we'll see you on Tuesday, May 12.

Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Chicago Public Schools Fri May 01 2015

Chicago Public School Officials Tread Water In Smelly Unethical Swamp

While taxpayers wait to learn the outcome of the federal corruption investigation into the Chicago Public Schools' questionable $20 million no-bid contract with SUPES Academy, it's not too soon to conclude that the School Board and CPS officials continue to operate in a smelly unethical swamp, where they have been mired for many years.

Numerous news organizations recently reported that the FBI and a federal grand jury were investigating CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and the contract with SUPES, where she worked before joining CPS.

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Thomas J. Gradel / Comments (2)

Education Wed Apr 29 2015

Adderall On the Brain

themash.comBy James Wendt, Damilola Ajasa, Victor J. Andrew and Sarah Zhang

Tucked inside dresser drawers, sold in school bathrooms and popped before exams, "study drugs" like Adderall are prescription medications that many teens are familiar with.

The pills are sold and traded with bold promises: You'll be able to study all night, focus all day, boost your test scores, suppress your appetite and socialize with ease.

But with the audacious claims come huge risks and dangerous health repercussions for teens who abuse these drugs.

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Mechanics / Comments (1)

Education Mon Apr 27 2015

PARCC Exam Raises Concerns

themash.comBy Julia Huebner and Alex Rothschild

Last month, thousands of students across Illinois took or opted out of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC exam. The test is a state assessment aligned with the controversial Common Core curriculum. Although students are spending hours on the exam, parents and educators are the ones speaking up about it. There's no standard opinion about the PARCC exam.

Supporters of the PARCC argue that it reflects classroom learning better than the Illinois Standard Achievement Test or Prairie State Achievement Examination, both of which were replaced by the PARCC. According to the Illinois Board of Education, the PARCC is "an assessment that requires students to analyze information--and explain their answers--[that] better reflects classroom lessons and experiences."

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Mechanics / Comments (0)

Law Tue Apr 21 2015

Will Donor's Lawsuit Send Schock Waves?

The novel federal lawsuit filed April 15 against former Congressman Aaron Schock and up to 100 "John Does," seeking return of political contributions, is one of the strongest signals yet of Americans' disgust with the perversion and conversion of our own political system, and in particular Congress, into a beast we barely recognize let alone control. In part, the new lawsuit simply piles more chaos onto the train wreckage of the Aaron Schock Express, catalyzed by the relatively trivial "Downton Abbey" redecoration kerfuffle and now in the hands of a grand jury. The suit underscores that overdone office decor was only footnote to a pattern of hinky dealings by Schock. It also tests the immunity that politics has enjoyed from the courts, if not the wider court of public opinion. This latter part of the story may not be so easily dismissed, though the lawsuit may meet that fate.

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Jeff Smith / Comments (0)

Law Tue Apr 21 2015

Up In Here Fails to Live Up to Its Potential

While attending Moody Bible Institute, Mark Dostert would go with his fellow students to do the school's Practical Christian Ministry at the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, more commonly known as Audy Home, on the West Side. Dostert felt he was contributing to the lives and after receiving a graduate degree in Texas, he returns to Chicago to become a "children's attendant" at Audy Home, only to realize he is essentially a prison guard and another cog in the prison complex.

Up In Here chronicles what could be a very compelling first-hand account of one man's journey inside one of the largest incarceration systems in the country, but it is hindered by Dostert's poor narrative voice and decisions as a writer.

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Monica Reida / Comments (0)

Gender Fri Apr 17 2015

Black Trans Lives Matter

By H. Melt

On March 30 at DePaul University — one day after the Trans 100 event and one day before the Transgender Day of Visibility — CeCe McDonald and Monica James, two black trans women from Chicago, gathered to share their thoughts about the current state of the trans movement, their experiences of violence and incarceration, and how the power of community saved their lives.

In front of a packed lecture hall, McDonald began by discussing her Chicago roots and how the city influenced her. Born and raised in Chicago, McDonald attended Clara Barton Elementary and Percy L. Julian High School on the city's South Side. At the age of 14, she was given the ultimatum by her religious family to either suppress her trans identity or leave home. McDonald left home and moved to Minneapolis, where she began to transition.

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Mechanics / Comments (0)

Stump Connolly Fri Apr 10 2015

Stump Connolly Reporting In: Rahm Love

Ben Kolak of the Scrappers Film Group contributed to this report.

It was Rahm's night, and he spent it surrounded by friends and family. Riding a hefty 56-44 margin (in a runoff where less than 40 percent of registered voters went to the polls), Mayor Emanuel sealed the deal on a victory he thought he'd won last February. So it was a new, "nicer" mayor who gave a gracious acceptance speech, but mostly he basked in the glow of "Rahm Love" -- and even threatened to give some back.

Stump Connolly, chief political correspondent of The Week Behind, will be covering the Chicago mayoral race with his new pocketcam and offering periodic video reports exclusively on Gapers Block as the campaign unfolds.

Stump Connolly / Comments (0)

State Politics Thu Apr 09 2015

Aaron Schock and Endless, Evolving Corruption

Aaron Schock Men's HealthAaron Schock's sudden yet not-so-sudden fall from grace has provided a lot of fodder for columnists and editorial boards -- and for good reason. There's the "Downton Abbey" office. There's the rippling abs cover of Men's Health. There's the endless discussion about his sexual orientation. And then there's the infamous Stephen Colbert interview. The congressman has sought, and received, a whole lot of attention over time. And now he's received more, but not in the way he would have preferred.

It's tempting to write 10 pages about Schock's background, as his early political history is almost as fascinating as everything swirling around his recent surprise announcement that he would be resigning his seat as Illinois' 18th District Congressman at the end of March. But many others have had their say on Schock. For a nice primer on the 33-year-old's meteoric rise, the Peoria Journal-Star offers a very nice time line. For in-depth reporting on the immediate scandal that appears to have brought Schock down, Politico is your bet, as they broke possibly the most damning evidence of financial impropriety, and have followed up with other insightful pieces about what's going on in Washington.

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Phil Huckelberry / Comments (0)

Housing Wed Apr 08 2015

Chicago Teens Face Homelessness, Remain Hopeful

By Kasey Carlson

The Chicago Public Schools reported serving 22,144 homeless students last year. More than 2,000 of those students were unaccompanied youth living without a parent or guardian.

It's not just a local problem. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, about 50,000 young people in the U.S. sleep on the street for six months or more.

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Mechanics / Comments (0)

Election 2015 Tue Apr 07 2015

Respect, Reform Key to Chicago Mayoral

Spring is supposed to be time for decluttering your closets. Me, I'm de-cluttering my politics. Mainly by boiling it down to asking candidates, "Whose side are you on?"

Yes, there are other questions. Are you a force for real reform, or a go-along-get-along with the rigged political structure? Will your policies lead to a more equal society or a more unequal one? Do you work for short-term fixes or long-term solutions? Are you fighting the growing surveillance state, or silent while we slide towards 1984? Are you down with war, or doing real work for peace? Will you fight to stave off environmental disaster, or will you be just more political dead weight as crises loom?

But, mainly - coursing through all of the above -- for whom will you govern? In tough fights, will you stand with those who speak truth to power? Whose side are you on?

In the Chicago mayor's race, hard decisions are coming down the pike. Taxes will need hiking no matter who wins. So fairness is paramount.

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Jeff Smith / Comments (0)

Op-Ed Tue Apr 07 2015

Rahm and the Madness Gene

By Michael Zapata

In Elizabeth Kolbert's great and tragic book The Sixth Extinction, Svante Pääbo, a Swedish biologist and one of the founders of paleogenetics, muses on what drove modern humans as opposed to archaic humans like Homo Erectus and the Neanderthals to journey to Madagascar:

It's only fully modern humans who start this thing of venturing out on the ocean where you don't see land. Part of that is technology, of course; you have to have ships to do it. But there is also, I like to think or say, some madness there. How many people must have sailed out and vanished on the Pacific before you found Easter Island. I mean, it's ridiculous. And why do you do that? Is it for the glory? For immortality? For curiosity? And now we go to Mars. We never stop.

Kolbert goes on to explain that Pääbo thinks it should be possible to identify a freak mutation in our DNA that makes this type of strange, even beautiful, human insanity possible. I think he is onto something here. I can think of far too many people I know who would be among the first to go to Mars if they could.

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Mechanics / Comments (0)


Goethe, Floyd, Rahm & Me

By Phil Huckelberry / 0 Comments

This is a story of life, love, and property damage. It is a story involving crystallized water, piled some 19 inches deep. The story forces us to confront greed, manipulation, logistics, and physics. The characters include the legendary and the ordinary, from Rahm Emanuel to a bus driver whose name we'll likely never know. More...


Substance, Not Style, the Source of Rahm's Woes

By Ramsin Canon / 1 Comments

It's not surprising that some of Mayor Emanuel's sympathizers and supporters are confusing people's substantive disputes with the mayor as the effect of poor marketing on his part. It's exactly this insular worldview that has gotten the mayor in hot... More...

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