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Thursday, July 2

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The Mechanics

Neighborhoods Wed Jul 01 2015

Chiraq vs. the Good in Englewood?

Good in Englewood Twitter stream
Screenshot of the @GoodInEnglewood Twitter account

Chiraq, Spike Lee's new movie filming this summer on the city's South Side, has stirred the contentious pot of Chicago public opinion into a boil over the name of the film. Aldermen William Burns (4th) and David Moore (17th) have spoken out against the title and what they see as a negative branding effect it could have on their communities. Burns has proposed legislation in City Council that would urge Illinois lawmakers to deny any tax credits to the production of the film. Even Mayor Rahm Emanuel has spoken out against the film.

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Jennifer Prohov / Comments (0)

Feature Tue Jun 30 2015

"I Streaked Mayor Emanuel for $250,000"


We spoke with Jackie S., who took up billionaire Alki David's $250,000 offer to anyone who streaked Mayor Emanuel. Below is her story in her own words.

I read an article in TimeOut that said this billionaire Alki David, who calls himself an "eccentric billionaire," was offering $250K to anyone who streaked in front of Rahm.

I immediately searched for Alki David and saw he had done this before, and had paid out. I saw he had re-tweeted the TimeOut article saying he would pay $250K.

I jumped in my car to try and find Rahm.

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Mike Ewing / Comments (2)

Police Tue Jun 30 2015

Tackling Violence with a Softer Side of Policing

Chicago Police Officer Diana Varga answers questions from children and youth at the Foglia Family and Youth Center in Chicago's East Garfield Park neighborhood. (Photo by Emily Gray Brosious)

When police officers couldn't make it to a scheduled basketball match with youth in the East Garfield Park neighborhood last Wednesday, 11th District Chicago Police Officer Diana Varga swooped in to save the day with an impromptu meet-and-greet of sorts.

Dressed in plain athletic clothes, the outgoing young officer spoke about policing in Chicago to a few dozen people gathered in the gymnasium. Then she opened up for a question and answer session. Children and teens sat cross-legged on the basketball court, eagerly raising their hands to ask Officer Varga about her background, her police work and what it takes to become an officer.

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Emily Brosious / Comments (0)

National Politics Thu Jun 25 2015

The Battle Over the Confederate Flag

Image: Confederate flag supporter Karen Cooper shares her story in the documentary "Battle Flag"

As the nation mourned the victims of the terrorist attack in Charleston, South Carolina, images of suspected gunman Dylan Roof featuring the Confederate flag sparked a movement calling for the flag to be removed from statehouses and store shelves. But some claim the flag is not a racist icon and should remain as a symbol of Southern heritage.

Battle Flag brings the personal stories of people on both sides of this debate into focus. By combining short documentary interviews with additional resources, the multimedia project adds some much-needed depth to the discussion.

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Mike Ewing / Comments (0)

Environment/Sustainability Sun Jun 21 2015

Touring the Deep Tunnel and Thornton Quarry

The Thornton Reservoir
Construction equipment on the bed of the future Thornton Reservoir. Trucks on the Tri-State Tollway can be seen above the quarry.

On Saturday, I joined the Southeast Environmental Task Force (SETF) on one of its tours of Chicago's goliath infrastructure. The tour featured the future site of the Thornton Composite Reservoir, the largest such reservoir in the world, and a Deep Tunnel pumping station 350' below ground at the Calumet Water Reclamation Plant. Both are part of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD)'s gargantuan Tunnel and Reservoir Plan, the multi-decade, multi-billion dollar project designed to protect the Chicago region from the flooding and pollution caused by overflowing sewer and stormwater infrastructure.

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David Schalliol / Comments (0)

Federal Government Wed Jun 10 2015

Hastert's Troubles Mount

Dennis Hastert, a former Republican Congressman from Illinois and former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, appeared in federal court on Tuesday to enter pleas of not guilty to charges that he violated banking laws and lied to the FBI in an effort to conceal his alleged sexual abuse of a high school student some 45 years ago.

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Thomas J. Gradel / Comments (0)

Election 2016 Tue Jun 02 2015

The Progressive Path: Bernie Sanders and How to Operate Off the Two-Party Trail

Did Bernie Sanders make the right decision?

My question last year was not so much whether Vermont's junior Senator would run for President, but rather, if he were to do so, how he would: as a Democrat, as a Green, or as an Independent. The fourth option, of course, was not to run at all. But that decision was likely already off the table. Eugene McCarthy once remarked that "It's harder to stop running for president than it is to start." Once Sanders was running, he wasn't going to stop. He just needed to decide how. In the end, of course, he decided to run as a Democrat.

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Phil Huckelberry / Comments (0)

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 (2)

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)


"I Streaked Mayor Emanuel for $250,000"

By / 2 Comments

We spoke with Jackie S., who took up billionaire Alki David's $250,000 offer to anyone who streaked Mayor Emanuel. Below is her story in her own words. I read an article in TimeOut that said this billionaire Alki David,... 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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