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The Mechanics

Op-Ed Wed Jul 16 2014

Racial Inequality is the Root of Violent Crime in Chicago

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Christian Science Monitor/Paul Beaty

Over this Fourth of July weekend in Chicago, 84 people were shot and 16 killed. Over 1,000 people have been shot in the city since the beginning of the year, and almost all of them were black and Latino men under the age of 35. Shedding light on these numbers is important, but numbers on their own are not enough. A shallow focus on statistics and short-term solutions consistently dominates media coverage of violence in Chicago. This insubstantial, fleeting reportage ignores the deeper societal inequalities that continue to spur violence in the city's most marginalized black neighborhoods.

The Chicago neighborhoods that have the highest violent crime rates are the same that have the greatest concentrations of poverty, incarceration, unemployment and failing schools. And while violent crime has fallen in Chicago (as in all major American cities) since the 1990s, Harvard sociologist Robert Sampson found that the same neighborhoods have remained the most violent.

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Rachel Anspach / Comments (6)

Local Government Mon Jul 07 2014

Illinois AG Takes Aim at ComEd Rate-Hike Request

8872944622_a33f5342fa_o.jpg
Photo by Arvell Dorsey Jr. via Flickr

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan wants to block part of Commonwealth Edison's latest rate-hike request, saying it violates state law.

Madigan accused ComEd of asking customers to pay for $87.9 million in employee bonuses -- an illegal practice in Illinois, she said.

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Emily Brosious / Comments (0)

Election 2015 Wed Jun 25 2014

Community Organizer Amara Enyia is Taking on Rahm Emanuel to Make a Point

Board_photo.jpg

I took the Green Line out to Garfield Park to meet Amara Enyia at one of her favorite spots, Inspiration Kitchens. The restaurant, located right by the Garfield Park Conservatory, provides jobs and training to homeless individuals. Enyia explained to me that the menu (which looked delicious) is kept affordable so that residents of the neighborhood can actually afford to eat there. As we chatted in this sunny space over lemonade and iced tea, Enyia explained her vision for the city to me.

Enyia is sick of status quo in Chicago politics -- in which resources are focused on the wealthy and many communities are left in poverty--and she has decided to do something about it. Earlier this month, she held a rally to launch her candidacy as a progressive alternative to Chicago's current mayor, Rahm Emanuel.

The business model for Inspiration Kitchens is right in line with Enyia's view of how the city should function -- a local business that lifts up community members, uses local and sustainable ingredients, and provides a positive space for the neighborhood.

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Rachel Anspach / Comments (3)

Election 2014 Tue Jun 24 2014

Rauner Donor's Hedge Fund Group Received $200 Million in Bailout Funds

The Sun-Times reported on Friday that Citadel, a hedge fund founded by Kenneth Griffin, received $200 million in bailout funds in 2009 from AIG.

Griffin recently gave Bruce Rauner's gubernatorial campaign $2.5 million in campaign contributions. Griffin has also given more than $1 million previously to Rauner's campaign as well as allowing Rauner to use Griffin's private jet for campaigning in Illinois.

Griffin was able to give $2.5 million to Rauner's campaign due to a loophole in campaign finance laws, according to Ben Joravsky and Mick Dumke of the Chicago Reader.

Chicagoist explained in 2009 that Citadel received the bailout funds from AIG due to investments made, including those such as bonds, securities and mortgage-backed securities. As a result of the investments made by Citadel, AIG owed the hedge fund money.

Rauner notably described himself as being part of the ".01 percent." He has given $6.5 million to his own campaign according to the Reader.

Monica Reida / Comments (0)

Housing Tue Jun 17 2014

New Report Looks at Affordable Housing and Neighborhood Market Conditions

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(Map / Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University)

Cook County's housing market has been making a slow comeback in recent years. Still, it's been a fairly uneven recovery. Some neighborhood housing markets have stabilized. Others, not so much.

A new report and interactive map from The Institute for Housing Studies (IHS) at DePaul University looks at current housing market trends and conditions in Chicago and suburban Cook County and shows how the region's diverse housing stock impacts housing recovery across different neighborhoods.

IHS says understanding neighborhood housing stock is critical for effective policy development.

According to the report, "In the City of Chicago and broader suburban Cook County, knowledge of a neighborhood's housing stock takes on particular significance because of the diversity of housing types found in the area and the geographic concentrations of particular types of housing in different communities."

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Emily Brosious / Comments (0)

Elections Wed Jun 11 2014

Bernie Sanders: 2016's Most Interesting Man

Bernie Sanders is a busy man these days. He's currently chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, which has been in the news a lot more than usual. He's also preparing to introduce a constitutional amendment before the Senate which would essentially overturn the infamous Citizens United ruling. And maybe -- just maybe -- he's about to run for president.

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Phil Huckelberry / Comments (4)

Illinois Wed Jun 04 2014

Fixing Illinois Offers Few Feasible Immediate Solutions

fixingillinois.jpgTo say Illinois is in a broken state and needs fixing is to state the obvious. The state has a $47.2 billion debt and is often the butt of jokes when it comes to corruption. In James D. Nowlan and J. Thomas Johnson's new book Fixing Illinois: Politics and Policy in the Prairie State, there are 98 suggestions given as to how to solve and lessen the problems in Illinois, but many of them don't feel feasible in the current political climate for the state.

The book covers a variety of topics in Illinois policy including education, budgeting, economic development, transportation, health care and human services. Outside of the section on transportation, many of these ideas ring as absurd for implementation in Illinois. Some of these may be more feasible in states other than Illinois, but could never work in this particular state.

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Monica Reida / Comments (0)

Op-Ed Tue Jun 03 2014

Where is Chicago's Progressive Mayor?

rahm emanuel nose handChicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plunging popularity was reflected in a recent Sun-Times poll, in which just 29 percent of respondents reported that they would support Emanuel if the election were held today. The results confirmed what was already obvious to most Chicagoans--a vast majority of the city dislikes our mayor.

What still remains to be seen is whether a candidate will emerge who has the ability to successfully rally that energy and unseat him.

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Rachel Anspach / Comments (3)

Chicago Public Schools Tue May 27 2014

I Ran for Local School Council and Maybe I Even Won!

On Monday, April 7, across Chicago, elections were held for Local School Council seats for all CPS elementary schools. I myself ran for a Community Representative seat for Prussing Elementary.

I might have even won!

But maybe the election didn't even happen.

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Phil Huckelberry / Comments (4)

Op-Ed Mon May 26 2014

A Vietnam Veteran Reflects on Memorial Day

American flagBy Arnold Stieber

War — conflict resolution by violence. Memorial day — a day to remember those killed in wars. More than remembering, Memorial Day is reality for me. That reality began in 2003 and was amplified in 2013.

In 2003 my military experience burst into my consciousness after 32 years. Late one night I turned on the TV. The movie "Platoon" was playing. I had never watched any violent shows nor read anything about war or Viet Nam since I left there and my role as an Army infantryman in March of 1971. The scene was a U.S. patrol entering a village. I saw the dark skinned children with their big dark eyes, skinny bodies and ragged clothes — and it all came back like a lightening bolt. The sights, the sounds, the smells. Stunned, I turned off the TV and sat in a darkened room.

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Mechanics / Comments (0)

Environment/Sustainability Fri May 23 2014

GMO Labeling Fails to Take Hold in Illinois, So Far

ALex Camerin Flickr.jpg
Photo by Alex Cameron via Flickr

Calls to label genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are sweeping across the country. Last year, more than 20 state legislatures were considering GMO labeling bills. Studies show the majority of Americans support this effort. But in Illinois, the call for GMO food labeling has proven a fruitless endeavor thus far.

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Emily Brosious / Comments (0)

Health Care Tue May 20 2014

Activists Removed After Protesting Lack of South Side Trauma Center

Activists protested the lack of a trauma center on the South Side by sitting in at a University of Chicago construction site on Monday. The four protesters were dragged from the site by University of Chicago police, but no one seemed to be arrested, according to the Sun-Times.

"The University of Chicago upholds the right to peaceful and safe demonstrations, but cannot allow protests that jeopardize anyone's safety," University of Chicago Medicine said in a statement.

According to the statement, University of Chicago works with protesters who will protest at the medical campus to find areas that are safe both for the protesters as well as for patients. Monday's protest occurred on a secured, fenced construction site, according to University of Chicago.

"Despite repeatedly offering the protesters alternative locations that are safe and on public property, they chose to remain on the construction site," University of Chicago Medicine said in a statement. "As a result, we had no choice but to remove them from the location, for their safety and that of the workers at the site."

According to the statement, no charges are planned for the protesters.

University of Chicago is considering submitting a bid for the Barack Obama presidential library. Activists argue the university should not get the presidential library until an adult trauma center is opened on the South Side at University of Chicago.

The University of Chicago operates the South Side's only burn unit as well as a pediatric trauma center at Comer Children's Hospital.

Monica Reida / Comments (0)

Chicago Suburbs Thu May 15 2014

Palestinian Group Aims to Educate Public About Past

To educate the public about Nakba, the 1948 Palestinian exodus when over 700,000 Palestinians were forced from their homes, the Chicago chapter of the American Muslims for Palestine are hosting two events in Chicago this May.

The first event was Thursday at Daley Plaza, where a group of volunteers, 31 in total, handed out informational materials at Daley Plaza. The materials aimed to educate passers-by about the 1948 events and what Nakba means today. Most of these volunteers came from Universal School in Bridgeview. 3,000 total copies were distributed, according to Kristin Szremski, director of media and communications at the organization.

Szremski said that reaction Downtown was mixed. While some people read the educational brochure and were intrigued by it, others were rude and definitely anti-Palestinian, she said. She said this was difficult for the students who encountered this since they are Americans of Palestinian heritage.

On Saturday, the chapter will host an event that includes a Palestine Parade, authentic Palestinian cuisine, a bazaar, folk dancing and songs and bread, freshly baked on traditional 'taboon,' or ovens outside of the Universal School in Bridgeview.

"We want people to know that the Nakba still continues today in the Israeli apartheid policies that result in the military occupation of Palestine, the restriction on freedom of movement, the demolition in thousands of Palestinian homes and the random arrest and detentions of thousands of political prisoners, including 700 children, every year," said Nida Sahouri, AMP-Chicago chapter chairwoman. "We Americans fund this with our tax dollars. We just want people to know the truth so one day they will pressure Congress to approve a more fair and balanced foreign policy in the Middle East."

Nenad Tadic / Comments (0)

Election 2015 Wed May 14 2014

Sun-Times Poll Looks at Emanuel's Chances of Winning Election

The Chicago Sun-Times released a poll on Saturday showing 29 percent of Chicagoans surveyed would vote for Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the upcoming 2015 election.

Other results from the poll showed 27 percent of those surveyed didn't know which potential candidate they would vote for, while 26 percent said they would vote for Cook County Board president Toni Preckwinkle, 10 percent for Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis, 5 percent for Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd Ward) and 3 percent for former 9th Ward Ald. Robert Shaw.

Shaw is the only person who has declared themselves as a challenger for Emanuel in the 2015 election.

Emanuel responded to the poll by saying on Wednesday, "There's ups and downs....You stay true to your principles. You stay true to who you are and you don't change. You stay committed to making sure there's results and you stay true to what you believe in."

The Tribune released a story the same day saying an Emanuel campaign aide had emailed the Tribune with story ideas that could paint Preckwinkle in a negative light. She has maintained she is focused on running for reelection for her seat and continuing to improve Cook County.

Preckwinkle recently appeared on WTTW's "My Chicago" and was asked by host Mark Bazer if her and Emanuel get along. She responded with a long pause before saying, "We work together."

Monica Reida / Comments (1)

Chicago Public Schools Thu May 08 2014

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange Maintaining the Status Quo in Chicago Public Schools

cps_oldlogo.jpgBy Dave Stieber

Karen Lewis, former CPS teacher and president of the Chicago Teachers Union, proposed an idea to generate funding, to improve Chicago Public Schools and our city. Her idea is to place a small tax on futures bought and sold at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). In an interview published in the Sun Times, Lewis said, "This is an opportunity to actually make heroes out of these (wealthy) people. Instead of everybody being angry at them about their money and their greed and all these other things. This is an opportunity for them to say, 'You know what, we're part of the city. We love this city. We'd like to see the city work. We'd like to be a part of the process and this isn't going to be enough to make us want to go.'"

The CME issued a statement in response to Lewis saying in part, "We do not believe the way to accomplish a strong public school system is through singling out futures traders with a tax more than 200 percent higher than what the average trader pays to buy or sell a futures contract."

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Mechanics / Comments (7)

Feature

How Lawsuits, Lobbyists and Parking Meter Deals Led to Ventra

By Jason Prechtel / 0 Comments

Cubic learned early on that if you don't win a contract through bidding, there are other ways to prevail. More...

Special Series

Classroom Mechanics Oral History Project



About Mechanics

Mechanics is the politics section of Gapers Block, reflecting the diversity of viewpoints and beliefs of Chicagoans and Illinoisans. More...
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Editor: Monica Reida, mr@gapersblock.com
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