WBEZ | News http://www.wbez.org/news Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago moves on taxi reforms to leave more money in cabbies' pockets http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-moves-taxi-reforms-leave-more-money-cabbies-pockets-110877 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Cabs.png" alt="" /><p><p>The city of Chicago is moving on a set of reforms to help cabbies take home more money, a partial salve after a months-long fight over legalizing competing rideshare services left many taxi drivers feeling bruised. While many hail the step as a sign that city officials are finally working to redress cab drivers&rsquo; complaints, some say the changes don&rsquo;t go far enough.</p><p>&ldquo;What we wanted to do is improve overall their experience here in the city, and make it more lucrative for them as cab drivers,&rdquo; said Maria Guerra Lapacek, Commissioner of Chicago&rsquo;s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.</p><p>Guerra Lapacek said her department crafted the proposals after working with representatives from Cab Drivers United/AFSCME Local 31 and other driver advocacy groups. Some of them will be included in an ordinance to be introduced at City Council&rsquo;s meeting next week. Others will be implemented through rule changes by the BACP.</p><p>The most significant change would reduce how much taxi owners may charge to lease their fuel-efficient cabs after the vehicles&rsquo; first year on the road.</p><p>&ldquo;The garages are able to recoup their investment after a year of having these vehicles in circulation,&rdquo; explained Guerra Lapacek, &ldquo;so the idea was to reduce the lease rate cap for the second year, and that way give relief back to the cab driver.&rdquo;</p><p>Guerra Lapacek said this idea resulted from the surprising finding in a recent <a href="http://www.wbez.org/study-chicago-cabbies-earn-average-12hour-110726">city-commissioned study</a>, which found that cab drivers spend about 40 percent of their gross income on their vehicle leases. Ultimately, the reform could affect leases for an estimated 3,700 of the city&rsquo;s nearly 7,000 cabs.</p><p>Leases would also be reduced for drivers whose vehicles generate a separate revenue stream from advertising displays. The reforms would require cab companies to credit leases in these cases.</p><p>&ldquo;There are over 2000 owner-operators in the City of Chicago. They don&rsquo;t pay a lease,&rdquo; said Peter Enger, a cab driver and Secretary of the United Taxidrivers Community Council. &ldquo;This will not help them in the slightest.&rdquo;</p><p>Enger said he&rsquo;s delighted that city officials appear to be considering the difficulties cab drivers have faced since a previous set of reforms took effect in 2012. Those reforms raised the lease rates for cabs, without a commensurate increase in taxi fare rates. Many cab drivers say that has resulted in longer working hours to earn the same income.</p><p>Cab drivers who own and drive their own taxis affirm Enger&rsquo;s fear that a new round of reform will still leave them in the dust.</p><p>&ldquo;The only way is to get a fare increase that we did not get for almost ten years, to offset the cost of living and all of that stuff,&rdquo; said Ahmed Ammar, who owns and drives his own taxi. &ldquo;Everything went up.&rdquo;</p><p>While some cab drivers, particularly those aligned with UTCC&rsquo;s union, push for a taxi fare increase, others worry it could adversely affect demand. Representatives from another union, Cab Drivers United, say raising fares is lower on their priority list.</p><p>&ldquo;Our focus first and foremost has been moving forward on these changes that will both put money in drivers&rsquo; pockets, and keep the cab companies competitive with the (rideshare) companies,&rdquo; said Tracy Abman, an organizer with AFSCME Local 31.</p><p>Guerra Lapacek said her department will not consider a fare increase at this juncture because she worries it could turn customers away from the taxi industry. Rideshare companies&rsquo; prices routinely undercut taxi fares.</p><p>The proposals also include city-backed smartphone applications to allow passengers to electronically hail taxis, as they do with popular services such as Uber and Hailo.</p><p>&ldquo;We think this is an excellent reform that&rsquo;s going to bring the cab industry into more innovation and really help them access those customers,&rdquo; said Guerra Lapacek. She said the city will put out a request for proposals, and will require all taxis to be on at least one of the city-backed apps.</p><p>Additionally, the reforms would reduce the fee that taxi drivers pay on credit card transactions, from 5 percent to 3 percent; lower the maximum penalties for taxi offenses from $1,000 to $400; and <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/bacp/publicvehicleinfo/publicchauffer/chauffeurtrainingtaskforcefinalrecommendations.pdf">streamline</a>&nbsp;the required driver training process.</p><p>The city will also create a task force to review <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/how-often-are-cabs-pulled-over-and-what-109734">the enforcement process of taxi rules</a> at the Administrative Hearings Court, which many taxi drivers disparagingly refer to as a &ldquo;kangaroo court.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s significant that the City is listening to drivers that are organized, listen to them, hearing their concerns, addressing some of their concerns and agreeing to continue to work together with drivers to make their lives better and make sure the industry remains viable,&rdquo; said Abman.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her </em><a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef"><em>@oyousef</em></a><em> and </em><a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud"><em>@WBEZoutloud</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 18:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-moves-taxi-reforms-leave-more-money-cabbies-pockets-110877 After the accident: Metra and pedestrian fatalities http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/after-accident-metra-and-pedestrian-fatalities-110875 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/170234239%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-Jvys6&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Frequent commuters are all too familiar with the pangs of delays: the groans induced by announcements made over a train intercom, or the confusion created when train or bus operators suggest alternative routes, thanks (or no thanks) to weather, mechanical failures, or backups.</p><p>Chicago-area Metra riders are no strangers to these feelings, but often these delays are brought on by another, more heart-dropping reason: pedestrian accidents and fatalities. It&rsquo;s not uncommon for up to 1,300 Metra riders to be held on a train for more than an hour while investigators gather at the scene to determine what happened.</p><p dir="ltr">And while many wonder why so many of these accidents happen, or how they can be stopped, a Curious Citizen (who chose to remain anonymous) had us consider this question:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>How can a thorough investigation of Metra fatalities be performed when trains are up and running 90 minutes after a fatality?</em></p><p>It&rsquo;s a bit of a loaded question, of course, as our questioner is basically asking whether a 90-minute timeframe is sufficient to gather evidence.</p><p>From the first moment we spoke with the questioner, we knew this would be sensitive topic, for sure, but experts did make themselves available to explain how pedestrian death investigations work, and they were also willing to address the &ldquo;90 minutes&rdquo; figure directly. And the question&rsquo;s important, too. The issue of pedestrian fatalities by train is regularly <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-metra-suicides-met-20140825-story.html" target="_blank">in the Chicago-area news</a>. Also, anyone involved &mdash; a victim&#39;s family,&nbsp;commuters on the train, taxpayers in Illinois &mdash; deserves to know exactly what&rsquo;s going on outside that train once tragedy strikes.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The extent of the problem</span></p><p>Pedestrian fatalities by Metra trains, or any type of train, for that matter, are not new phenomena. Train deaths, both intentional and accidental, have been an issue for rail officials across the world. <a href="http://gazebonews.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/ian_savage_438_manuscript.pdf" target="_blank">But as Northwestern University researcher Ian Savage found out</a>, these incidents are happening in Illinois more than any other place in the United States.</p><p>According to Savage, one of the main reasons is Chicago&rsquo;s position as a national rail hub.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s a combination of the number of trains and the geography,&rdquo; Savage said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re fairly flat around here, and if you go out east, you&rsquo;ll find many more hills. Because trains [there] can&rsquo;t get up steep grades, you have to level this out by digging cuts, you make embankments, so you end up with a lot more natural grade separation. And here in Chicago, we have little natural grade separation.&rdquo;</p><p>Savage looked at data from the Illinois Commerce Commission from 2004 to 2012, and accounted for 338 pedestrian deaths by train within the six-county Chicago area. (Notably, Savage&rsquo;s research did not include the Chicago Transit Authority&rsquo;s elevated trains). Put another way, the area saw one pedestrian death by train every 10 days. Approximately 47 percent of the incidents were suicides.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/metra%20graphic%20mockup%203%20final_2.png" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/metra%20graphic%20new%20stats2.png" title="*Data from Chicago metropolitan region, 2004-2012. Note: Does not include CTA data. Non-motorized persons include pedestrians and bike-riders. Source: Ian Savage, Northwestern University " /></div></div><p>According to Savage, these fatalities happen for a variety of reasons. When it comes to accidents, many times people don&rsquo;t understand how dangerous trains really are.</p><p>&ldquo;In some cases, crossings are designed in a way that good people are lead into making bad decisions. And I think that perceptions of speed are very difficult,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;d never think about jaywalking across an interstate because there are cars every few seconds. But there are five, 10 [minutes], half an hour where there&rsquo;s no activity on train tracks. So you can always get led into this cognitive assumption that nothing&rsquo;s coming, when something is.&rdquo;</p><p>And while the complexity of suicide makes it difficult to understand the reasoning behind individual deaths, Savage said the frequency and high number of occurrences is likely connected to the availability of trains around Chicago. Through his research, Savage stumbled on a study from Children&rsquo;s Memorial Hospital that looked at methods of suicide. They found that the use of trains in the Chicago area was more than four times the national average.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Metra-related investigations</span></p><p>Beyond the magnitude of these fatalities, Metra faces another predicament, one that&rsquo;s different from those of state or city agencies: <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZrzuzWv2wY" target="_blank">Metra prides itself on its timeliness</a> and its ability to get commuters home on time. Its slogan is &ldquo;The way to really fly,&rdquo; and their signs read phrases such as &ldquo;We&rsquo;re on time, are you?&rdquo;</p><p>So when tragedy strikes, not only do Metra officials have to worry about the victim of the incident, but the thousands of passengers sitting on the train. In our question-asker&rsquo;s case, she read that trains were up and running 90 minutes after her friend was struck. (Metra officials say delays that day &mdash; including residual delays for other trains on that line &mdash; ranged anywhere between 30 and 110 minutes.)</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/metra%20photo%201%20LC.jpg" title="Metra signs advertise the agency's ability to arrive places on time, without delay. (WBEZ/Lauren Chooljian)" /></div></div><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s a process in place, a lot of times there&rsquo;s a lot of different factors that are involved in that incident which may extend that investigation, or there may be a train strike where we hit a pedestrian, and that person ends up being fine,&rdquo; said Hilary Konczal, director of Safety at Metra. &ldquo;I mean, we&rsquo;ve hit people and we&rsquo;ve broken a leg or an arm, and we were up and moving in 20 minutes, so it depends on the situation.&rdquo;</p><p>Konczal said every investigation begins the same way: A dispatcher is immediately notified of anything that happens on Metra railroads or that involves a Metra train. That dispatcher then notifies a control center, which reaches out to the municipality where the incident occurred.</p><p>&ldquo;Normally we get the call first,&rdquo; said Des Plaines Police Chief William Kushner. &ldquo;And we&rsquo;ll get it either from people waiting for the train, or someone driving past. And they&rsquo;ll call that someone was struck by a train or someone just jumped in front of a train.&rdquo;</p><p>The local municipality usually arrives on the scene first because of their close proximity. They&rsquo;ll secure the scene, meet with the train crew, and begin to gather witness testimony. Metra also has its own police force. Its officers do their best to get to the scene ASAP, but it could take some time, as the six-county service area is about the size of Connecticut. Once both departments are on scene, one will take the lead.</p><p><iframe align="middle" frameborder="0" height="420" scrolling="no" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/metramap.html" width="620"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:11px;"><em>Metra rail lines cover six counties and more than 110 municipalities. The service area is about the size of the state of Connecticut, which means travel times for investigators and other responders can be sizable.</em></span></p><p>&ldquo;Usually, if Metra police investigate the incident, we can do it a little quicker. We have evidence technicians on scene 24 hours [per day], and a lot of times local municipality doesn&#39;t have that. They have to call them in, so that may add time to investigation,&rdquo; Konczal said.</p><p>Konczal said his staff constantly network with the over 110 municipalities that Metra travels through, so when an incident happens &ldquo;we have a rapport with them, so we can get traffic moving as soon as possible.&rdquo;</p><p>But depending on the type of accident, and how long it takes to gather all the correct people together, investigations can still take a while. Konczal said if Metra strikes a vehicle, federal regulations require that signals be tested, for example.</p><p>In a fatality situation, officials have to report information to the ICC and the Federal Railroad Administration. Almost all Metra trains have cameras on them now, as do some grade crossings, so film has to be reviewed to determine what happened, and to assess whether it was an intentional death or not. They also have to wait for a coroner to arrive, as he or she has to respectfully remove the remains.</p><p>The Metra Police Department was recently assessed by <a href="http://www.hillardheintze.com/books/metrapolicedept_01_23_14/" target="_blank">Hillard Heintze</a>, an independent council of retired police chiefs. While the group <a href="http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20140122/news/701229709/" target="_blank">found many issues with the department overall</a> (e.g., unclear mission, ineffective or nonexistent policies and procedures, staffing issues, etc.) the report did not address how Metra conducts fatality investigations.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/metra%20investigation%20full.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Metra officials investigate a commuter train accident in 2004 in Chicago. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)" /></p><p>Metra officials say there&rsquo;s no minimum or maximum amount of time that they try and meet for each investigation. Other police departments operate this way as well.</p><p>&ldquo;If there&rsquo;s a fatality, there are no minimums,&rdquo; said Monique Bond, spokeswoman for the Illinois State Police Department. &ldquo;The main thing is to get the victims, whether they&rsquo;re dead or hurt. That&rsquo;s the priority.&rdquo;</p><p>Bond said each investigation varies tremendously, depending on the incident: It could be hours, or it could be one hour.</p><p>But what doesn&rsquo;t change per incident, according to Metra officials and police, is the difficulty of dealing with these fatalities, both for him and his staff.</p><p>Naperville Police Chief Bob Marshall said his department, like many others around the state, provides mental health services for any officer that responds to traumatic events. Naperville recently dealt with two suicides by train.</p><p>Konczal added that Metra staff take the issue of pedestrian deaths personally. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re people. They may be your brother, my sister, your friend, it&rsquo;s just a shame,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We have employees that go out there. We have the engineer that&rsquo;s traumatized, and the family of the deceased. ... I mean, it&rsquo;s real, and it gets very personal, and at times it gets frustrating.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re constantly looking at ways to educate the public. We&rsquo;re looking at our numbers, the day of the week incidents occur - and it gets frustrating trying to identify how to reduce these risks, without trying to put up some sort of virtual fence. It&rsquo;s just very hard.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Waiting in the wings</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/steven%20vance%20bartlett%20station.jpg" title="Signage at Metra's Bartlett station on the Milwaukee District/West Line route indicates safety precautions for pedestrians crossing the tracks. (Flickr/Steven Vance)" /></p><p>Metra, as well as local law enforcement agencies, suggest that some investigations can take far less than the 90-minute figure that started our look into train-related pedestrian deaths. According to Joe Schwieterman, transportation professor at DePaul University (and Metra rider for 23 years), delays of any kind can be difficult to bear.</p><p>&ldquo;You feel the tension on board right away, people start making phone calls, and after five or ten minutes, you know, you start to wonder, &lsquo;Is this gonna be a nightmare?&rsquo; So that speculation starts,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>According to Schweiterman, everyone in the region has been startled by how a fairly small commuter rail system (in the national sense) has such a regular pattern of hitting people. And a lot of it, he said, isn&rsquo;t on Metra.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s a whole series of issues, like willful deaths, and of course just a preponderance of freight trains which makes these crossings very difficult, and even just people dying on the tracks who, you know - drug use along railway tracks - there&rsquo;s a long history of a place where deviants often go.&rdquo;</p><p>But when it comes to whether these investigations are long enough or comprehensive enough, Schwieterman said anything longer than the current delays wouldn&rsquo;t be practical.</p><p>&ldquo;My view is that there&rsquo;s rarely a complex investigation needed,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;When somebody gets hit, the reason that person got hit is important from a data standpoint &mdash; and I mean, of course, for the family it&rsquo;s an absolute travesty &mdash; but from an investigation standpoint we need to know why people are getting hit and how we can fix the problems.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;But it&rsquo;s not like a crime scene, where there&rsquo;s an assailant out there who we have to find, and he may have left a clue behind.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>If you or someone you know exhibits any of the <a href="http://reportingonsuicide.org/warning-signs-of-suicide/" target="_blank">warning signs of suicide</a>, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)</strong></p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ Reporter. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda"> </a><a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian" target="_blank">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p></p> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 17:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/after-accident-metra-and-pedestrian-fatalities-110875 Aramark, CPS change plan to cut school janitors http://www.wbez.org/news/aramark-cps-change-plan-cut-school-janitors-110870 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/2979169728_730927ae16_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Today was supposed to be the last day of work for 468 janitors in Chicago Public Schools.</p><p>But Aramark, the private contractor now overseeing the management of custodians in CPS, is changing that plan <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/custodial-contract-causing-problems-start-school-year-110767">after complaints about cleanliness</a> from principals, parents and teachers.</p><p>The union representing privately employed janitors in CPS said 178 janitors will keep their jobs and the remaining 290 will work for another month. Aramark spokesperson Karen Cutler confirmed those numbers and said they are working closely with the union and CPS to make sure schools have &quot;appropriate custodial staffing levels.&quot;</p><p>&ldquo;We would prefer to see no layoffs anywhere and see everybody have good paying, full-time jobs,&rdquo; said Tom Balanoff, president of the Service Employees International Union Local 1.&nbsp; &ldquo;But again, we do think with the technology Aramark&rsquo;s brought in and the readjustment on the number of janitors, we think that we will be able to maintain a good level of cleanliness in the schools.&rdquo;</p><p>Balanoff said they are working to find jobs for the 290 janitors being laid off at the end of October.<br /><br />CPS has had privatized cleaning services for more than a decade, but last February, the board <a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez/chicago-further-privatizes">voted to award two contracts worth a total $340 million</a> to Aramark and SodexoMAGIC. The two companies would manage all 2,500 janitors in the school system, even though the janitors remain employed by subcontractors, like <a href="http://www.wecleaninc.com/">WeClean Inc.</a> and Total Facilities, or by the Board of Education directly.</p><p>Balanoff said the change allows 83 of the longest-serving janitors employed by private subcontractors to keep their jobs. Another 95 will be hired directly as Aramark employees for at least the next 10 months.</p><p>The changes do not impact 825 janitors employed directly by the Board of Education. Those janitors are represented by SEIU Local 73. However, many of those board-funded janitors have been reassigned to other schools in light of the pending layoffs.</p><p>CPS officials did not immediately comment. It is not clear how much the move may cost and who will foot the bill, the district or Aramark.</p><p>At <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/school-board-takes-cleanliness-controversy-110851">last week&rsquo;s Board of Education meeting</a>, district Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley said Aramark was &ldquo;flooding the zone&rdquo; to fix any issues related to school cleanliness.</p></p> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 21:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/aramark-cps-change-plan-cut-school-janitors-110870 3,000 fewer students enroll in Chicago Public Schools http://www.wbez.org/news/3000-fewer-students-enroll-chicago-public-schools-110869 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/student-enrollment-130923-LL.png" alt="" /><p><p>For the first time since at least 1970, Chicago Public Schools will serve fewer than 400,000 students.</p><p>District spokesman Bill McCaffrey confirmed that there are at least 3,000 fewer students in the public school system. The decline keeps Chicago just ahead of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, which <a href="http://www.dadeschools.net/StudentEnroll/Calendars/enroll_stats_aor.asp" target="_blank">enrolls roughly 380,000 students</a>, including pre-K students, vocational students and those in charter schools.&nbsp;</p><p>CPS took its official head count on Monday, the 20th day of school. The past two years, the district has counted on the 10th day as well, in order to adjust school budgets to account for the difference between enrollment projections and how many students actually show up. For the second year in a row, schools that didn&rsquo;t meet their enrollment targets were <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-public-schools-will-get-money-no-show-students-again-110861">held harmless</a> and got to keep the money budgeted to them over the summer.</p><p>Enrollment in CPS had been steadily declining for the last decade, but remained relatively flat from 2008 to 2012. In the last two years, since CPS closed 50 district-run schools, the system lost about 6,000 students.</p><p>At the same time the district&rsquo;s been losing students, CPS has opened more than 140 new schools, most of them privately run charter schools. Officials did close schools at the same time, but the openings outpaced the closings.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:20px;"><strong>Enrollment over time in Chicago Public Schools</strong></span></p> <style type="text/css"> table.tableizer-table { border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif font-size: 12px; } .tableizer-table td { padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #ccc; } .tableizer-table th { background-color: #104E8B; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold; }</style> <table class="tableizer-table"><tbody><tr class="tableizer-firstrow"><th>School Year</th><th># of students in CPS charter or contract schools</th><th># of students in traditional CPS schools</th><th>Total CPS enrollment</th></tr><tr><td>1999-2000</td><td>5,535</td><td>426,215</td><td>431,750</td></tr><tr><td>2000-2001</td><td>6,733</td><td>428,737</td><td>435,470</td></tr><tr><td>2001-2002</td><td>6,084</td><td>431,534</td><td>437,618</td></tr><tr><td>2002-2003</td><td>8,844</td><td>429,745</td><td>438,589</td></tr><tr><td>2003-2004</td><td>10,493</td><td>423,926</td><td>434,419</td></tr><tr><td>2004-2005</td><td>12,274</td><td>414,538</td><td>426,812</td></tr><tr><td>2005-2006</td><td>15,416</td><td>405,509</td><td>420,925</td></tr><tr><td>2006-2007</td><td>19,043</td><td>394,651</td><td>413,694</td></tr><tr><td>2007-2008</td><td>23,733</td><td>384,868</td><td>408,601</td></tr><tr><td>2008-2009</td><td>32,016</td><td>376,028</td><td>408,044</td></tr><tr><td>2009-2010</td><td>36,699</td><td>372,580</td><td>409,279</td></tr><tr><td>2010-2011</td><td>42,801</td><td>359,880</td><td>402,681</td></tr><tr><td>2011-2012</td><td>48,389</td><td>355,762</td><td>404,151</td></tr><tr><td>2012-2013</td><td>52,926</td><td>350,535</td><td>403,461</td></tr><tr><td>2013-2014</td><td>57,169</td><td>343,376</td><td>400,545</td></tr><tr><td>2014-2015 (projected)</td><td>60,982</td><td>339,463</td><td>400,445</td></tr><tr><td>2014-2015 (10th day)</td><td>n/a</td><td>309,182*</td><td>397,000**</td></tr></tbody></table><p><em>*Does not include Pre-K, charter and contract schools or alternative schools.</em></p><p><em>**Preliminary estimate based on confirmed decline of at least 3,000 students.</em></p><p>Wendy Katten, executive director of the city-wide parent group Raise Your Hand, said the decline is really sad, but not that surprising.</p><p>&ldquo;We hear a lot from parents about the instability of the policies of the district,&rdquo; Katten said &ldquo;The constant school actions, the opening and closing of schools, and the budget cuts. I think a lot of parents are looking for more stability in their children&rsquo;s schooling.&rdquo;</p><p>Michael Casserly, the executive director of the Council of Great City Schools, said enrollment in urban districts can take a hit when there&rsquo;s a lot of turmoil. In CPS&rsquo;s case, that included the first teachers&rsquo; strike in 25 years and the mass closure of 50 public schools.</p><p>&ldquo;But in situations like that you&rsquo;ll often find that enrollment bounces back,&rdquo; Casserly told WBEZ. He said the council recently surveyed public school parents in urban districts and found that more than 80 percent are satisfied with the schools.</p><p>Casserly also noted that declines are directly related to population declines. Indeed, Chicago has lost school-aged children in the last few decades. But the percentage of those children being educated by CPS has increased.</p><p><span style="font-size:20px;"><strong>Census Figures vs. CPS &nbsp;Enrollment</strong></span></p> <style type="text/css"> table.tableizer-table { border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif font-size: 12px; } .tableizer-table td { padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #ccc; } .tableizer-table th { background-color: #104E8B; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold; }</style> <table class="tableizer-table"><tbody><tr class="tableizer-firstrow"><th>&nbsp;</th><th>1970</th><th>1980</th><th>1990</th><th>2000</th><th>2010</th></tr><tr><td>Total CPS enrollment (includes Pre-K)</td><td>577,679</td><td>477,339</td><td>408,442</td><td>431,750</td><td>409,279</td></tr><tr><td># of schools in CPS</td><td>&ldquo;more than 550&rdquo;</td><td>n/a</td><td>560</td><td>597</td><td>674</td></tr><tr><td>U.S. Census Bureau population totals for City of Chicago, Ages 5-19</td><td>904,731</td><td>731,103</td><td>592,616</td><td>625,776</td><td>513,476</td></tr><tr><td>U.S. Census Bureau population totals for City of Chicago, Ages 0-19</td><td>1,187,832</td><td>963,125</td><td>809,484</td><td>844,298</td><td>699,363</td></tr><tr><td>Percent of Chicago&#39;s school-aged (5-19) kids in Chicago Public Schools</td><td>63.90%</td><td>65.30%</td><td>68.90%</td><td>69.00%</td><td>79.70%</td></tr><tr><td>Percent of Chicago&#39;s 0-19 kids in Chicago Public Schools</td><td>48.60%</td><td>49.60%</td><td>50.50%</td><td>51.10%</td><td>58.50%</td></tr></tbody></table><p><em>Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Chicago Public Schools, Illinois State Board of Education, Chicago Tribune (for the 1970 number of CPS students).</em></p><p>In the district&rsquo;s 10-year Master Facilities Plan, CPS commissioned Educational Demographics and Planning, Inc. to calculate enrollment projections for the next ten years. The plan estimates a 1 percent increase in the number of school-aged children in Chicago.</p><p>CPS&rsquo;s McCaffrey said until the preliminary 20th day enrollment numbers are vetted, the district is unable to speculate why the schools lost children. More detailed numbers will be out in the coming days and that will help CPS understand what areas of the city are losing the most kids and what grade levels see the biggest drops.</p><p>Andrew Broy, executive director of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, said he expects an increase in the number of children in charter schools. CPS opened four new charter schools this year and is adding grades at a number of existing campuses.</p><p>Broy did admit that some charter schools are struggling to fill open seats.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re seeing more places, on the West Side and parts of the South Side, where charter school&nbsp; enrollment numbers haven&rsquo;t kept up with the campuses being added,&rdquo; Broy said Monday, noting that one-third of all charter schools currently have room for more students.</p><p>But Broy said charters are also the reason many families have chosen to stay in the city.</p><p>&ldquo;I would argue that if we did not have charter schools over the past 10 years we would see a much higher out-migration pattern in Chicago,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>CPS needs to confront the fact that its enrollment is declining, Broy said, but he also said the district needs to continue adding high-quality options for parents.</p><p>Katten, with the parent group Raise Your Hand, said CPS officials should stop opening new schools and focus on ones they have.</p><p>&ldquo;There should probably be a moratorium on opening new schools of any kind,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Parents want a commitment, whether they&rsquo;re in charter schools or district schools, that those existing schools are getting attention.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Linda Lutton contributed to this story.&nbsp;</em></p><p>B<em>ecky Vevea is a producer and reporter for WBEZ. Follow her </em><a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</p></p> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 21:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/3000-fewer-students-enroll-chicago-public-schools-110869 Rehabbing vacant buildings, and the lives of those who fix them http://www.wbez.org/news/rehabbing-vacant-buildings-and-lives-those-who-fix-them-110862 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/green%20housing_140929.jpg" style="height: 351px; width: 250px; float: left;" title="The apartment building on 62nd and Fairfield was once an eyesore and symbol of community blight. (WBEZ/Natalie Moore)" />A two-flat building in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood was once a neighborhood eyesore.</p><p>It was vacant and vandalized, marked with an X for demolition. The tipping point occurred when a young girl was sexually assaulted in the gangway.</p><p>&quot;It was a symbol of really what was problematic with these properties across this community,&quot; said Rami Nashashibi, executive director of the Inner-City Muslim Action Network.&nbsp;&quot;Literally you could&rsquo;ve walked into it at anytime. There was not only drug dealing going on, there was prostitution. Literally the neighbors had to change, then alter their schedules because they were just terrified about what was going on in this building.&quot;</p><p>That galvanized the community made up of neighbors, priests, imams, and rabbis. For them, the building could no longer remain empty.</p><p>IMAN, a social justice nonprofit on 63rd Street went to court and received the home for free from the city. The two flat was then retrofitted and rehabbed by formerly incarcerated men and gives them a place to live.</p><p>It&rsquo;s called the <a href="http://www.imancentral.org/project-green-reentry/">Green ReEntry program</a>.</p><p>IMAN&rsquo;s turning vacant homes into environmentally-friendly dwellings with help from the Jewish Council of Urban Affairs and the Southwest Organizing Project.</p><p>The green component includes eco-friendly insulation, preserving rain runoff with buckets and installing ultra-efficient appliances. In the backyard vibrant swiss chard marks a vegetable garden.</p><p>Now, the building&rsquo;s basement will be a community space for block club meetings or other social gatherings. Two families rent apartments in the rehabbed building for below market rate. The goal is to transition them into home ownership.</p><p>It&rsquo;s a rare bright spot in a neighborhood rocked by foreclosures. According to the Woodstock Institute think tank, the rate of long-term vacancy in Chicago Lawn is nearly twice as high as the rest of Chicago.</p><p>Taqi Thomas moved in the two-bedroom apartment in July but the smell of fresh paint lingers.</p><p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t want to fall victim to the streets again so I decided that my best bet was to stay around the muslims instead of going home to my family members. I went to IMAN&rsquo;s transitional housing,&rdquo; said Thomas, who served a 13-year drug conviction.</p><p>Downstairs from Thomas is Khalifa Tyeiba&rsquo;s apartment where he lives with his wife and four children.</p><p>Tyeiba served time for aggravated battery, and has been out of the criminal justice system for more than a decade.</p><p>He said this is what usually happens when he applies for an apartment.</p><p>&ldquo;I paid my debt to society and this that and the other, and they&rsquo;ll say &lsquo;Oh okay, we&rsquo;ll get back to you&rsquo; and I won&rsquo;t get a call back. Or they&rsquo;ll outright say you can&rsquo;t have a felony,&rdquo; Tyeiba said.</p><p>He estimates he&rsquo;s been rejected a dozen times in his quest for renting a place.</p><p>To help more men like him, IMAN is in the process of acquiring two other nearby homes for the Green ReEntry program.</p><p>&ldquo;And so to come here in a community, a decent community I see things getting done,&rdquo; Tyeiba continues. &ldquo;My son goes to school right across the street. Beautiful.&rdquo;</p><p>Tyeiba says he can finally relax a bit. There&rsquo;s no longer the X on his back.</p><p>Nor on the building on south Fairfield Avenue.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter. Email her at&nbsp;<a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a>.&nbsp;</em><em>Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p></p> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 07:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/rehabbing-vacant-buildings-and-lives-those-who-fix-them-110862 Chicago Public Schools will get money for no-show students, again http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-public-schools-will-get-money-no-show-students-again-110861 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/board of ed_2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Public Schools is making a surprising announcement that could cost the district millions of dollars.</p><p>In a letter being sent to principals today, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett told schools they would <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/no-further-budget-cuts-schools-didnt-attract-enough-students-108748" target="_blank">again be held harmless</a> for students who didn&rsquo;t show up this year.</p><p>The district changed the way it funds schools last year. Instead of funding positions and programs from downtown, schools are now given about $5,000 per student on average, under a formula called &ldquo;student-based budgeting.&rdquo;</p><p>Last year, because the system was new, the district allowed schools that didn&rsquo;t meet enrollment targets to keep the money allocated to them anyway.</p><p>In a call with reporters about layoffs in June, Byrd-Bennett insisted that would not happen again.</p><p>&ldquo;No no no, that was last year, remember, and I preached that over and over that it was a one-time hold harmless,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>But now, she&rsquo;s changing her mind. In the letter to principals, Byrd-Bennett wrote that CPS plans to use &ldquo;student-based budgeting transition contingency funds and anticipated surplus from Tax-Increment-Financing funds&rdquo; to make sure schools get money based off their projections, not actual enrollment.</p><p>The letter also said any school that got more students on the first day would get additional money.</p><p>CPS used to take an official enrollment count on the 20th day of school and now takes both a 10th day and a 20th day count to calculate any potential budget adjustments. The 20th day count will take place on Monday.</p><p>District spokesman Bill McCaffrey did not say how many schools came in below and how many came in above their initial enrollment projection. He did not say how much it will cost to essentially pay twice for students or pay for students who are no longer in the district.</p><p>McCaffrey also would not say if overall enrollment is up or down. Enrollment in CPS had been steadily declining for the last decade. Last year, the school system lost about 3,000 students, dropping from 403,461 to 400,545.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is a producer and reporter for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation" target="_blank">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 26 Sep 2014 16:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-public-schools-will-get-money-no-show-students-again-110861 School board takes on cleanliness controversy http://www.wbez.org/news/school-board-takes-cleanliness-controversy-110851 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/10348248095_15797234cf_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The controversy over cleanliness in Chicago Public Schools seems to be hitting a nerve with members of the Chicago Board of Education.</p><p>It could have been fiery comments from the head of the principals association, or a disturbing account from a primary school teacher, read by a parent during public participation at Wednesday&rsquo;s monthly meeting. It claimed vomit was left to sit on her floor for 30 minutes before it was cleaned up and then crusted into her rug over the weekend.</p><p>The parent who read the comment, Jennie Biggs, has three children at Sheridan Elementary in Bridgeport and is also part of a parent group called Raise Your Hand. That group released the results of an informal survey they did over the last week, which got 162 responses across 60 schools.</p><p>The complaints come on the heels of similar surveys and complaints from principals and teachers that <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/custodial-contract-causing-problems-start-school-year-110767">WBEZ first reported earlier this month</a>.</p><p>Board member Andrea Zopp said CPS and the two private companies now overseeing the management of custodians should take a close look at the parent&rsquo;s survey.</p><p>&ldquo;And in particular, look at the some of the comments,&rdquo; Zopp said. &ldquo;You can take (them) with a grain of salt, but there are some very disturbing things in there sent from people who apparently are on the ground.&rdquo;</p><p>CPS has had privatized cleaning services for more than a decade, but last February, the Board voted to award two contracts worth a total $340 million to Aramark and SodexoMAGIC to manage all 2,500 janitors in the school system.</p><p>At the time of that vote, CPS Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley said move would make principals&rsquo; lives easier, explaining that the companies would be <a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez/chicago-further-privatizes">like &ldquo;Jimmy John&rsquo;s,&rdquo;</a>&nbsp;getting more supplies and cleaning up spills before principals could even hang up the phone.</p><p>On Wednesday, Cawley defended the move to privatize the management of custodians.</p><p>&ldquo;We think the vast, vast majority of our schools are as clean or cleaner than they&rsquo;ve been in the past,&rdquo; Cawley said Wednesday. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s how they started the school year and that&rsquo;s how they&rsquo;re operating now.&rdquo;</p><p>And he insisted the district is saving money. &ldquo;But never, ever, would we compromise the safety or cleanliness of our schools to accomplish those savings,&rdquo; he added.</p><p>Still, Board members had a lot of questions about how the new system is supposed to work.</p><p>&ldquo;So as a principal, three or four teachers come to me on a particular morning, my room is not clean, this is not working right, &hellip; the principal wants to resolve the issue, what&rsquo;s the next step?&rdquo; asked Carlos Azcoitia, one of the board members who served as a principal for 9 years.</p><p>Cawley said they can call a new hotline number or the cell phone of their Aramark custodial manager.</p><p>But Clarice Berry, head of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, said that makes no sense.</p><p>&ldquo;We do not need, we do not want middle managers between the principals and the staff assigned to their schools,&rdquo; Berry said. She also called out Azcoitia and the other former principal on the board, Mahalia Hines, for allowing this to happen.</p><p>But later in the meeting, Hines said the old system didn&rsquo;t work either.</p><p>&ldquo;If [janitors] didn&rsquo;t clean or didn&rsquo;t do their work, I had little or no control over that, because they were with the union and you had to go through a long process, and either they would out wait me or they&rsquo;d die it out,&rdquo; Hines said.</p><p>Cawley said both companies are working at their own expense to fix the problems.</p><p>Aramark spokeswoman Karen Cutler confirmed they&rsquo;ve added extra support above and beyond the terms of the contract.</p><p>&ldquo;We have been meeting with every principal in the district &ndash; over 300 to date &ndash;&nbsp;to address their concerns, as well as review our program, which we have in place at hundreds of school districts across the country,&rdquo; Cutler wrote in an e-mail to WBEZ. &ldquo;We brought in additional managers (at our expense) to assist with the transition and have been training all CPS custodial staff on new equipment, using more efficient, environmentally friendly cleaning techniques.&rdquo;</p><p>One question that did not get answered at Wednesday&rsquo;s meeting is what will happen when additional layoffs go into effect.</p><p>As it stands right now, 468 fewer janitors will be in the schools come Tuesday. &nbsp;</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is a producer and reporter for WBEZ. Follow her </em><a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation"><em>@WBEZeducation</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Thu, 25 Sep 2014 08:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/school-board-takes-cleanliness-controversy-110851 Commander pleads not guilty to police-brutality charges http://www.wbez.org/news/commander-pleads-not-guilty-police-brutality-charges-110843 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Evans 1tightcrop (1).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A Chicago police commander accused of jamming his gun into an arrested man&rsquo;s mouth pleaded not guilty to nine counts of aggravated battery and official misconduct Wednesday.</p><p>After the arraignment,&nbsp;the attorney for Cmdr. Glenn Evans, 52, complained about news-media interest in the case. &ldquo;I worry that Glenn might possibly not be able to get a fair trial,&rdquo; the attorney, Laura J. Morask, said outside the courtroom.</p><p>Morask also accused the city&rsquo;s Independent Police Review Authority of &ldquo;leaking&rdquo; an Illinois State Police report about a DNA test in the case.</p><p>&ldquo;It built all of this pre-trial, pre-charging publicity that is outrageous,&rdquo; Morask said, adding that she had no immediate plans to seek a change in venue for the trial.</p><p dir="ltr">The charges stem from a January 2013 incident in Grand Crossing, a South Side police district commanded by Evans at the time. Evans, according to police reports about the incident, saw a 22-year-old man named Rickey J. Williams holding a handgun.</p><p>Evans and other officers chased Williams into an abandoned building. There, according to prosecutors, the commander put the barrel of his service weapon into the man&rsquo;s mouth, pressed a Taser into his groin and threatened to kill him.</p><p dir="ltr">A search of the area by authorities that night did not turn up the gun Williams allegedly possessed.</p><p dir="ltr">In April, more than 14 months after the incident, IPRA received the report about the lab test, which found Williams&rsquo; DNA on Evans&rsquo; pistol.</p><p dir="ltr">Based on the lab result, IPRA that month sent police Supt. Garry McCarthy a recommendation to strip Evans of police powers pending the investigation&rsquo;s outcome. WBEZ revealed the case, including the DNA report and IPRA recommendation, in July.</p><p dir="ltr">But McCarthy, backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, left Evans in command of the Harrison police district until August 27, when the criminal charges were announced.</p><p>City records obtained by WBEZ through a Freedom of Information Act request show that Evans had been <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/indicted-police-commander-suspended-duty-11-times-records-show-110810">suspended from duty at least 11 times</a> during his 28 years with the department. The two longest suspensions, both 15 days, resulted from excessive-force accusations.</p><p dir="ltr">Those accusations are among dozens of excessive-force complaints against Evans that city agencies have fielded. At least seven of the complaints have come since 2009, according to the records.</p><p dir="ltr">The city, meanwhile, has paid out <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/ousted-commander-leaves-trail-costly-lawsuits-110786">five-figure settlements in at least six federal lawsuits</a> accusing Evans of police brutality. Those payments and related expenses total $282,467, according to a WBEZ review of court filings and city records.</p><p dir="ltr">At least three other police-brutality lawsuits naming Evans as a defendant are pending. Those include a case brought this month by Williams, the man whose accusations led to the criminal charges.</p><p dir="ltr">Despite the news of the excessive-force complaints and lawsuits, Evans maintains support among many police officers and some residents of districts where he has worked.</p><p dir="ltr">About two-dozen Grand Crossing residents, mostly retirees, attended the Chicago Police Board&rsquo;s monthly meeting last Thursday. Several took a turn at the microphone, praising Evans&rsquo; work ethic and attentiveness.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/despite-excessive-force-complaints-police-commander-maintains-support-110618">Evans also has some support</a>&nbsp;in Harrison, a district he took over as commander in March.</p><p dir="ltr">At the arraignment, Cook County Assistant State&rsquo;s Attorney Lauren Freeman kicked off the case&rsquo;s discovery phase by providing Morask with an armful of records.</p><p>Circuit Court Associate Judge Rosemary Grant Higgins, assigned to the case this week, set the next hearing for October 23.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://plus.google.com/111079509307132701769" rel="me">Google+</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 24 Sep 2014 13:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/commander-pleads-not-guilty-police-brutality-charges-110843 Illinois DCFS ward charged with murder http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-dcfs-ward-charged-murder-110836 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/SPEED BOOKING PHOTO.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Kadiedra Shontell Speed&rsquo;s experience in Illinois&rsquo; child-welfare system has included being placed with adoptive parents who ended up abusing her, stays in psychiatric hospitals, addresses at four homes in the last five years and several arrests for fighting, according to court records and sources.</p><p>Now 20, she&rsquo;s still a ward of the state after her failed adoption, years earlier. Over Labor Day weekend, she had another run-in with the law &mdash; this time with deadly consequences.</p><p>After arguing with her 34-year-old roommate, Speed left in a rage and returned hours later, allegedly stabbing the woman to death in their basement apartment in Joliet, Will County prosecutors and neighbors say.</p><p>She&rsquo;s believed to be the first ward in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to be charged with murder since 2009, when another ward, D&rsquo;Andre Howard, then 20, stabbed his fiancee&rsquo;s sister, father and grandmother to death in Hoffman Estates.</p><p>A report in 2012 by the DCFS inspector general about that case &mdash; in which Howard was found guilty and is now serving three life sentences &mdash; was supposed to lead to greater oversight of hundreds of older wards, who typically are in &ldquo;independent living&rdquo; programs run by social service agencies that DCFS hires. Inspector General Denise Kane revealed Howard had a history of sexual assault arrests and a &ldquo;long history of violence&rdquo; that &ldquo;indicated an urgent need for services.&rdquo; But she concluded &ldquo;a lack of communication among involved professionals,&rdquo; including DCFS&rsquo; sexual abuse services coordinator, led to a DCFS contractor inadequately supervising Howard.</p><p>Whether child-welfare workers missed warning signs of potential violent behavior by Speed is difficult to assess. There&rsquo;s no indication the fights she had in high school caused any serious injuries, and her most recent involvement in the court system before her murder arrest involved her winning an order of protection in February against a parolee boyfriend she said beat her up.</p><p>Karen Hawkins, DCFS&rsquo; communications chief, declined to comment about Speed, as did social service contractors who had worked with her.</p><p>Speed had been in an independent-living program at the time she filed the order of protection, court records show. She reported living in an apartment in Crest Hill, working at a Home Depot warehouse and attending Joliet Junior College. A college spokeswoman said Speed had been enrolled for the spring semester but did not complete her studies.</p><p>According to DCFS rules, wards in independent living &ldquo;can reasonably be expected to live autonomously and without daily staff oversight&rdquo; and by age 20 1/2 are expected to be living &ldquo;without financial support.&rdquo; Caseworkers are required to see independent-living wards &ldquo;at least twice per month,&rdquo; with at least one visit taking place in the ward&rsquo;s home.</p><p>&ldquo;Youth who cannot succeed in [independent living] will be considered for a more supportive living arrangement,&rdquo; a DCFS policy manual states.</p><p>Speed and the woman she allegedly killed, Sharleatha M. Green, moved in to their apartment at 210 N. Eastern Ave. in Joliet about a month before the Aug. 31 slaying, neighbors said. After arguing with Green and leaving, Speed returned with a man and entered the apartment through a ground-floor window.</p><p>Speed is accused of stabbing Green to death, according to court records. She&rsquo;s now being held at the Will County Jail on $1.5 million bail.&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 11.5pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman', serif;">She pleaded not guilty during an arraignment Wednesday.</span>&nbsp;The Will County Public Defender&rsquo;s office, which is representing her, declined to comment.</p><p>Speed was born in 1994 in Milwaukee, according to court records. It&rsquo;s unclear when she came to Illinois and when she was adopted. She had spent time in psychiatric hospitals after her adoptive parents ended up abusing her as a young girl, sources said.</p><p>In 2009, she was arrested three times for disorderly conduct while living in a group home in Downers Grove operated by ChildServ Inc., records show. She was sentenced to court supervision and community service, which she successfully completed.</p><p>The following year, Speed lived at a foster home in Romeoville. Police reports show that she and other teens living there often tried to run away.</p><p>In October 2010, Speed again was arrested for disorderly conduct, this time at Plainfield Central High School. She initially was sentenced to court supervision, but that sentence was revoked, and she ended up paying $260 in fines and court costs.</p><p>In 2011, Speed &mdash; then in the care of a DCFS contractor called Our Children&rsquo;s Homestead, records show &mdash; filed paperwork to change her last name to &ldquo;Edward.&rdquo; On court papers, she listed the reason for the change as &ldquo;failed adoption.&rdquo; But she never went back to court, so her name was never changed.</p><p>Speed&rsquo;s roommate Green, a cocktail server at Hollywood Casino Joliet, met Speed through their respective boyfriends, said Annetta Windman, Green&rsquo;s older sister. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think they knew each other very long,&rdquo; Windman said.</p><p>What little information Windman knows about Speed came from an &ldquo;adoptive sister&rdquo; of Speed&rsquo;s that Windman said she met at Will County court.</p><p>&ldquo;From what I understand, she was always a troubled kid,&rdquo; Windman said of Speed.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/tonyjarnold" target="_blank">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p><p><em>Chris Fusco is a </em>Sun-Times<em> staff reporter. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/fuscochris" target="_blank">@fuscochris</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Tue, 23 Sep 2014 21:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-dcfs-ward-charged-murder-110836 After the march, what's next for climate change? http://www.wbez.org/news/after-march-whats-next-climate-change-110837 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/global warming.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">In the days leading up the 2014 <a href="http://www.un.org/climatechange/summit/" target="_blank">UN Climate Summit</a>, thousands of people marched through New York to bring attention to climate change. Millions around the world joined in the effort, but will the movement last?</p><p>One expert says most of that hinges on whether people think climate change is real. A <a href="http://environment.yale.edu/climate-communication/files/Climate-Beliefs-April-2013.pdf" target="_blank">2013 study</a> by Yale and George Mason universities found nearly two out of three people in the U.S. believe global warming is occurring, but a small percentage of Americans say climate change is all hype.</p><p>Tim Calkins, a marketing professor in the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, says the campaign faces a unique challenge because it has to prove there&rsquo;s a problem. Calkins&nbsp;says the movement is getting it right by providing solid evidence that temperatures are rising.</p><p>In August, scientists at the National Climatic Data Center reported the highest global average of land and ocean temperatures since the center began keeping records in 1880.</p><p>&ldquo;By doing that, all of a sudden it takes that raw data and makes it more personal for people,&rdquo; Calkins&nbsp;said. &ldquo;And when you can really see a picture of it, you say &lsquo;my goodness, look at that it is a problem,&rsquo; and it keeps the belief going.&rdquo;</p><p>Calkins&nbsp;says the effort should be prepared to lose momentum post-march.</p><p>&ldquo;The real issue is how do you keep it going, year after year, because this isn&rsquo;t a problem that you solve one time and then you&rsquo;re done,&rdquo; Calkins&nbsp;said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s sort of an ongoing challenge for all of us.&rdquo;</p><p>Calkins&nbsp;says interest in climate change peaked in the mid-2000s, but lost steam in the last few years. Pointing to the success of public health campaigns for <a href="http://komen.org/" target="_blank">breast cancer</a> and the <a href="http://www.alsa.org/" target="_blank">ALS ice bucket challenge</a>, he says climate change falters because advocates struggle to explain why it matters on a deeper level.</p><p>&ldquo;When you have a disease, and there&rsquo;s some diseases that sort of lend themselves perfectly to engagement, there people see it,&rdquo;&nbsp;Calkins&nbsp;said. &ldquo;They say &lsquo;I know somebody who has this and so it matters a ton. Unless they consistently make it relevant for people, it&rsquo;s going to be tough to keep people fired up over time.&rdquo;</p><p>Confusion over what people can actually do to combat climate change is another issue. Most people agree with the primary point that climate change is a problem and and needs to be addressed, but Calkins says it&rsquo;s the secondary point of what action individuals can take that remains unclear.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s this goal to get a lot of action going, and the challenge is that progress is likely to come in little steps,&rdquo; Calkins said. &ldquo;The risk in that is you don&rsquo;t want people to get discouraged.&rdquo;</p><p>Beyond the <a href="http://peoplesclimate.org/" target="_blank">Climate March</a>, Calkins predicts the movement will be around for years. But for those involved, he says the biggest challenge will be keeping the issues at the front of peoples&rsquo; minds.</p><p>&ldquo;The problem today that people get all excited about something, but then they very quickly move on,&rdquo; Calkins said. &ldquo;The digital world we are in encourages that, because there&rsquo;s so many things that pop up that distract everybody.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Updated Sept. 24, 2014: This story was changed to correct the spelling of the name of professor Tim Calkins.</em></p><p><em>Mallory Black covers water, energy and the environment as WBEZ&rsquo;s Front and Center reporting intern. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda"> </a><a href="https://twitter.com/mblack47" target="_blank">@mblack47</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 23 Sep 2014 15:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/after-march-whats-next-climate-change-110837