WBEZ | News http://www.wbez.org/news Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Turn out for what? Will young voters make it to the polls, or stay home as usual? http://www.wbez.org/news/turn-out-what-will-young-voters-make-it-polls-or-stay-home-usual-111025 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Young Voters.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-66e03813-6290-1714-88ec-30ef0d92b54b">Cycle after cycle, voter turnout among young people trends especially low. For example, in the <a href="http://www.civicyouth.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/The-CPS-youth-vote-2010-FS-FINAL1.pdf" target="_blank">last midterm election</a>, fewer than a quarter of eligible 18 to 29 year olds cast ballots.</p><p>OK, so we are talking about the generation that invented the selfie. But young people do care about more than just themselves; but, they say, no one ever asks for their input.</p><p>Eve Rips is the Midwest Director of the <a href="http://younginvincibles.org/" target="_blank">Young Invincibles</a>. The national organization works to engage young adults on issues like higher education, healthcare and employment. And it made a point of asking young people for their thoughts.</p><p>&ldquo;We heard a lot about skyrocketing tuition, about violence on the streets, we heard time and again from young adults whose peers had been exposed to violence and significant trauma. We heard constantly about high rates of youth unemployment. We heard from people scared about not living up to their parents standard of living,&rdquo; Rips explained. &nbsp;</p><p>And young people in Illinois, it turns out, are very happy to talk the talk&hellip;they tend not to walk the walk. A <a href="http://documents.mccormickfoundation.org/pdf/2012_Illinois_Civic_Health_Index.pdf" target="_blank">study on civic health</a> from the McCormick Foundation found that while a quarter of Illinois Millennials engage in weekly political discussions, they were at the the bottom of the pack when it came to voting regularly. Like, three from the bottom.</p><p>Democratic political consultant Tom Bowen said sometimes low turnout is a measure of the issues that are out there; certain groups are highly attuned to the issues that a candidate can appeal to.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s not very many not very many messages about Medicare and Social Security that are going to entice young voters into the electorate,&rdquo; Bowen explained.</p><p>It&rsquo;s easy to see how it might be a struggle to make those particular issues sexy. Young people tend not to think about their retirement or long-term health until it&rsquo;s staring them right in the face.</p><p>&ldquo;Most of the time what brings young voters into the electorate is they become parents and they care about schools. Schools are a pretty motivating local issue that tends to get people to pay attention to what their government is doing,&rdquo; said Bowen.</p><p>Campaigns are faced with limited time and resources -- and they have to focus on the folks they know are going to be there.</p><p>And, if we&rsquo;re honest with ourselves, young people -- Millennials like this reporter -- we&rsquo;re lazy. That&rsquo;s right, the most educated generation in history is sitting at home, avoiding joining the workforce because -- we&rsquo;re entitled narcissists. Or, at least that&rsquo;s the stereotype.</p><p>It&rsquo;s the same old song. But maybe if you could get <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rijpU5yD55I" target="_blank">Lil Jon</a> to sing it, while applying some good, old-fashioned peer pressure...junior would get off the couch.</p><p>According to political psychologist Jon Krosnick, social pressure is a very effective tool in elections. He said voter turnout is contagious.</p><p>&ldquo;At one level, participating in an election might seem like an irrational act -- because any one individual is certainly not likely to have any meaningful impact on the outcome of any election. But, in fact, each person&rsquo;s action can be magnified,&rdquo; Krosnick explained.</p><p>By voting -- and letting others know that you voted -- you actually increase the likelihood that other people will vote.</p><p>But pollster <a href="http://weaskamerica.com/" target="_blank">Gregg Durham</a> said the easier, surer thing &hellip; is to make a play for mom. &nbsp;</p><p>Durham said suburban women tipped the dead-even scales for Governor Pat Quinn four years ago when they failed to turn out for Bill Brady. And this year&rsquo;s governor&rsquo;s race is just as tight.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s no group that they say don&rsquo;t worry about them, we can&rsquo;t get enough of them. If you have the wherewithal you go after every vote you can. However, you go after the low-hanging fruit first...and the young voter is a tough harvest,&rdquo; Durham explained.</p><p>According to Durham, if just three more people had voted in each precinct in 2010, Illinois would probably be talking about Brady&rsquo;s re-election.</p><p>Every vote really does count. And there are young people out there, trying to get their peers to the polls. People like Connie Lau, a field organizer with <a href="http://chicagovotes.com/" target="_blank">Chicago Votes</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s something like an intervention to the cycle of oppression, to the cycle of apathy, that systemically has prevented young people from raising their voice. And so, the best way to do that is to direct one-on-one intervention, by being out in the field, by targeting people who need to register, who need to vote the most...that way we can move forward,&rdquo; Lau said.</p><p>Chicago Votes has registered over 15,000 young people with its get-out-the-vote campaign this year, bringing their coalition&rsquo;s total to over 115,000. Parades to the polls have been planned to make sure that those registered actually make it to the polls on Tuesday.</p><p>If they do, it will definitely matter. It may even shape the future.</p></p> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 14:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/turn-out-what-will-young-voters-make-it-polls-or-stay-home-usual-111025 As Infrastructure Crumbles, Trillions Of Gallons Of Water Lost http://www.wbez.org/news/infrastructure-crumbles-trillions-gallons-water-lost-111019 <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/water.jpg" style="height: 348px; width: 620px;" title="A water maintenance crew works on leaky infrastructure in Skokie, a Chicago suburb. The area loses almost 22 billion gallons of water a year because of ailing infrastructure. (David Schaper /NPR)" /></div><p>Imagine Manhattan under almost 300 feet of water. Not water from a hurricane or a tsunami, but purified drinking water &mdash; 2.1 trillion gallons of it.</p><p>That&#39;s the amount of water that researchers estimate is lost each year in this country because of aging and leaky pipes, broken water mains and faulty meters.</p><p>Fixing that infrastructure won&#39;t be cheap, which is something every water consumer is likely to discover.</p><p>In Chicago, fresh water is drawn into water intake cribs in Lake Michigan and piped to the enormous Jardine Water Filtration Plant on the lakefront, adjacent to Navy Pier.</p><p>Jardine is the largest water filtration plant in the world by volume, pumping about 1 billion gallons of purified drinking water out through hundreds of thousands of miles of pipes to 5 million people in Chicago and 125 surrounding communities.</p><p>But not all of that treated, potable water makes it through the system to homes and businesses. In fact, quite a bit of it is lost.</p><p>The Chicago-based Center for Neighborhood Technology, a nonprofit focused on sustainability, recently put out a report that estimates &quot;about&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cnt.org/2013/11/18/the-case-for-fixing-the-leaks-release/" target="_blank">6 billion gallons of water per day</a>&nbsp;may be wasted in the U.S.,&quot; says Danielle Gallet, the group&#39;s water supply program manager.</p><p>Where does it go? Much of it just leaks out of aging pipes and water mains that crack and break.</p><p>&quot;We do have a crumbling infrastructure issue,&quot; Gallet says. &quot;It is old.&quot;</p><p>Last winter&#39;s extremely bitter cold in the Midwest and Northeast was especially tough on the aging water infrastructure in those parts of the country.</p><p>But water main breaks are becoming increasingly common in warmer months too. &quot;We replaced 6 feet of main here [of a] 10-inch main,&quot; that burst open 5 feet beneath a busy thoroughfare in the Chicago suburb of Skokie, says Perry Gabuzzi, a maintenance worker for that city&#39;s water department, one recent warm morning.</p><p>&quot;See the golf-ball-sized holes in it?&quot; he asked, pointing to the section of pipe his crew removed.</p><p>The rusted pipe broke open just because of old age. Gabuzzi and his colleagues estimated the section to be at least 70 years old.</p><p>In Los Angeles in July, a water main estimated to be 93 years old broke wide open, causing severe flooding on the campus of UCLA.</p><p>And these kinds of incidents are happening all over the country, as much of the nation&#39;s water infrastructure is now a century old.</p><p>&quot;The infrastructure and the massive investment that our grandparents, great-grandparents, some of us our great-great-grandparents put in, is coming to the end of its useful life, and the bill has come due on our watch,&quot; Gallet says.</p><p>A recent study by Gallet&#39;s group and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning found the Chicago area alone is losing&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cmap.illinois.gov/documents/10180/296743/FY14-0071+IDNR+WATER+LOSS+REPORT/bfda6186-8c79-42b5-80b8-9d97c7c2300d" target="_blank">22 billion gallons of treated water per year</a>&nbsp;through leaky pipes.</p><p>&quot;We figured that that could fill the residential needs of about 700,000 people in a year,&quot; says Tim Loftus, water resource planner for the agency.</p><p>&quot;That&#39;s a big city,&quot; he says. &quot;That&#39;s a year&#39;s worth of residential water use.&quot;</p><p>Nationwide, the amount of water that is lost each year is estimated to top 2 trillion gallons, according to the American Water Works Association. That&#39;s about 14 to 18 percent (or one-sixth) of the water the nation treats.</p><p>And it&#39;s not just water that&#39;s going down the drain, but billions of dollars in revenue too because utilities can&#39;t charge customers for water that is lost before it gets to them.</p><p>But fixing the nation&#39;s water systems isn&#39;t going to be cheap.</p><p>&quot;Our estimates are that this is&nbsp;<a href="http://www.awwa.org/Portals/0/files/legreg/documents/BuriedNoLonger.pdf" target="_blank">a trillion-dollar program</a>,&quot; says David LaFrance, CEO of the American Water Works Association. &quot;About half of that trillion dollars will be to replace existing infrastructure. The other half will be putting into the ground new infrastructure to serve population growth and areas that currently aren&#39;t receiving water.&quot;</p><p>Across the country, many communities are raising water rates &mdash; some in the double and triple digits &mdash; to begin addressing the problem. California and Maine, as well as several individual communities, are asking voters next week to approve massive bond initiatives to fund water infrastructure improvements.</p><p>But some government spending watchdogs are skeptical.</p><p>&quot;Anytime somebody tells me that we have to spend more money, I&#39;m going to look at who is telling me that and do they have an interest in it,&quot; says Steve Ellis of the Washington-based group Taxpayers for Common Sense.</p><p>He says water utilities stand to gain from massive water infrastructure spending, as does the American Society of Civil Engineers, which gives the nation&#39;s water infrastructure a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/drinking-water/" target="_blank">barely passing grade of &quot;D.&quot;</a></p><p>Ellis says that doesn&#39;t mean big spending on water infrastructure isn&#39;t needed. Voters just need to make sure there&#39;s proper oversight, as well as investments in better technologies and conservation.</p><p>The American Water Works Association is meeting in Atlanta this week in its first conference focused on water infrastructure.</p><p>LaFrance says the first priority is to get water utilities to audit their systems and install and upgrade meters where needed. Then they can get a better handle on just how much water is being lost because too many, he says, just don&#39;t know.</p><p>And in the meantime, the old and crumbling pipes keep leaking.</p><p>-<a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/10/29/359875321/as-infrastructure-crumbles-trillions-of-gallons-of-water-lost"><em>Via NPR News</em></a></p></p> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 08:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/infrastructure-crumbles-trillions-gallons-water-lost-111019 Aldermen skip chance to ask about city’s handling of police commander http://www.wbez.org/news/aldermen-skip-chance-ask-about-city%E2%80%99s-handling-police-commander-111016 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Scott Ando HORIZONTAL.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><br />The Chicago City Council on Wednesday heard testimony from the head of the city agency that investigates police-brutality complaints. But the aldermen skipped the&nbsp;chance to ask him about the city&rsquo;s handling of a police commander who faces felony charges in a case that began with one of those complaints.</p><p>The occasion was the annual Independent Police Review Authority budget hearing. IPRA Chief Administrator Scott Ando (see photo) testified about a reduction in a&nbsp;backlog of open investigations and about new community outreach. Ando said the most important new outreach vehicles are IPRA&rsquo;s first two satellite offices, one on the West Side and another coming soon on the South Side.</p><p>The few aldermen who spoke at the hearing congratulated Ando. &ldquo;You&rsquo;re doing more with less,&rdquo; Ald. Matthew O&rsquo;Shea (19th Ward) said.</p><p>More notable was what did not come up. Aldermen asked no questions about IPRA&rsquo;s performance investigating fatal shootings by Chicago officers or about the number of excessive-force complaints the agency has sustained.</p><p>And they did not ask about Glenn Evans, the embattled commander, who allegedly rammed his service pistol down an arrested man&rsquo;s throat last year. In April, a test showed the arrestee&rsquo;s DNA on the gun. The test led Ando to recommend that police Supt. Garry McCarthy strip Evans of his police powers, pending the investigation&rsquo;s outcome. WBEZ revealed the case in July.</p><p>Despite IPRA&#39;s recomendation, McCarthy, backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, continued to publicly support Evans. They left him in command of the Harrison District until the criminal charges August 27.</p><p>Outside the hearing, Ald. Howard Brookins Jr. (21st) said the Emanuel administration&rsquo;s handling of Evans &ldquo;sends a signal to the community that things have not changed since the Burge era,&rdquo; referring to former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge, implicated in the torture of dozens of African-American men.</p><p>&ldquo;This behavior appears to be a systemic problem in the police department,&rdquo; Brookins said. &ldquo;The superintendent of police and all of the authorities have to show that this conduct will no longer be tolerated. And until there are outward expressions and actions to back that up, it is going to be hard to get away from that impression of the community just by opening a few satellite offices.&rdquo;</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, 29 Oct 2014 19:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/aldermen-skip-chance-ask-about-city%E2%80%99s-handling-police-commander-111016 The courtship of black votes: Is it working? http://www.wbez.org/news/courtship-black-votes-it-working-111007 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/quinn_rauner_debate.png" alt="" /><p><p><em>Governor Quinn, in my opinion, is taking the African-American vote for granted. I will deliver real results for African-American families. African-American families are suffering. - GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner</em></p><p><em>My opponent had 51 executives in his company. No African Americans. Not one. And I think that&rsquo;s the record. With the respect to our cabinet, it&rsquo;s diverse. - Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn</em></p><p>Those darts and others flew earlier this month when the two candidates debated at DuSable Museum of African American History on Chicago&rsquo;s South Side. Each argued that he&rsquo;s the better friend to blacks.</p><p>Chicago Urban League sponsored the debate, and CEO Andrea Zopp evaluated the attention to African-American voters.</p><p>&ldquo;It depends on whether you&rsquo;re trying to be cynical or not. So let&rsquo;s take the non-cynical approach first. I think it&rsquo;s terrific. In the last gubernatorial race in 2010, we held a forum here for the gubernatorial race and Bill Brady wouldn&rsquo;t even come to the South Side,&rdquo; Zopp said.</p><p>Zopp said that it&rsquo;s important that the GOP recognize black voting power. But, she added, &ldquo;The issue is of course the cynical side, is they&rsquo;re doing that right now. That once they get elected, we&rsquo;re irrelevant to them and that&rsquo;s certainly of concern.&rdquo;</p><p>Democratic strategist Delmarie Cobb said Quinn has black folk to thank for his 2010 victory. He got 90 percent of the black vote. Cobb said Quinn&rsquo;s opponent this year took notice.</p><p>&ldquo;The path to victory for the Republican candidate Bruce Rauner was determined before he entered the race and he decided the path to victory was through the African-American community,&rdquo; Cobb said.</p><p>Pastors and other high-profile African Americans have endorsed Rauner and dairy businessman Jim Oberweis, who&rsquo;s trying to unseat Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat. Oberweis has an office in Woodlawn and the GOP has recently opened offices on the South and West Sides.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know if it&rsquo;s made any significant changes in terms of what will it mean for African Americans when the election is over. My belief is if African Americans don&rsquo;t hold elected officials accountable, none of it means anything,&rdquo; Cobb said.</p><p>African-American voters can be Democratic party loyalists -- but consider &nbsp;the 1990s. Republican Governor Jim Edgar reaped black support. He was a moderate who had a record in black communities.</p><p>Community organizer Mark Allen said he&rsquo;s not sure what voter turnout will be this year. But for the first time, he&rsquo;s not endorsing any individuals for election.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re trying to finally focus on the economic issues because the black community once again is just as broke before these campaigns, just as broke during the campaigns and they&rsquo;re just as broke after the campaigns are over because we get so involved with the partisanship of these agendas, that we lose the economics,&rdquo; Allen said.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Get out the vote</span></p><p>On a sunny autumn day, organizers with the Black Youth Project are doing GOTV - get out the vote - at the 63rd and King Drive Green Line stop. They&rsquo;re out to get young people to take a pledge that they will vote on Nov. 4.</p><p>Charlene Carruthers is with the Black Youth Project and said one part of the black demographic is overlooked:</p><p>&ldquo;We know that in 2008, 2010 and also in 2012, young black voters were among the greatest when we look at the youth demographic. Our vote absolutely matters. It will absolutely impact the election statewide.&rdquo;</p><p>But Carruthers said candidates - regardless of political party -- aren&rsquo;t speaking to issues that young people care about -- things like &nbsp;reforming the criminal justice system.</p><p>In jockeying for the black vote, Carruthers said any candidate from any party needs to do more than show up around election time.</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. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a>.&nbsp;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> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 10:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/courtship-black-votes-it-working-111007 Whom do you trust when it comes to nutrition advice? http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/whom-do-you-trust-when-it-comes-nutrition-advice-111003 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/FOOD SCORES_picmonkeyed.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Whom do you trust when it comes to food and health advice?</p><p>This is the fundamental question underlying the latest food skirmish between health activists The Environmental Working Group and &ldquo;big food&rdquo; represented by the Grocery Manufacturers Association.&nbsp;</p><p>Last week, the EWG released its<a href="http://www.ewg.org/foodscores" target="_blank"> Food Scores</a> database rating 80,000 foods on a variety of criteria that encompass nutrition, ingredients and processing. Foods like <a href="http://www.ewg.org/foodscores/products?search=organic+kale" target="_blank">organic kale</a> score 1 (the best) while <a href="http://www.ewg.org/foodscores/products?search=flamin+hot+cheetos" target="_blank">Flamin&rsquo; Hot Cheeto Puffs</a> get a 10 (the worst).</p><p>But today, the <a href="http://www.gmaonline.org/news-events/newsroom/grocery-manufacturers-association-statement-on-environmental-working-group/" target="_blank">GMA responded</a> by calling the Food Score database &ldquo;severely flawed&rdquo; and predicting it will &ldquo;only provide consumers with misinformation about the food and beverage products they trust and enjoy.&rdquo;</p><p>The GMA, which represents some of the biggest food manufacturers in the world, accused EWG of using &ldquo;isolated studies&rdquo; to penalize foods containing artificial sweeteners and added sugar. It further questioned the group&rsquo;s algorithm for weighing certain factors too heavily in its final scores.</p><p>The Association said that the best advice for health and nutrition comes from the Nutrition Facts Panel and the U.S. Department of Agriculture&#39;s Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Critics, however, argue that it is those very guidelines--which, for decades, have emphasized fat reduction over sugar and carbohydrate restrictions--that have led to a in tripling in American obesity over the past 40 years.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Additionally, EWG says information on packaging is limited.</p><p>&ldquo;When you think about healthy food, you have to think beyond the Nutrition Facts panel,&rdquo; said Renee Sharp, EWG&rsquo;s director of research. &ldquo;It doesn&rsquo;t always tell the whole story. EWG&rsquo;s Food Scores shows that certain foods that we think are good for us may actually be much less so because they contain questionable food additives or toxic contaminants.&rdquo;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Tuesday, the Alliance for Food and Farming, a produce industry group, <a href="http://safefruitsandveggies.com/blog/ewg-gives-top-scores-produce" target="_blank">trumpeted the high ratings</a> the EWG gave to produce. It also noted that the EWG encourages consumers to eat plenty of fresh produce.</p><p>But the AFF, which represents both conventional and organic produce growers, once again called on EWG to stop its &ldquo;Dirty Dozen&rdquo; and &ldquo;Clean Fifteen&rdquo; lists. These popular lists rate produce based on pesticide residues as measured by the USDA, but the AFF finds them misleading.</p><p>&ldquo;If EWG doesn&rsquo;t stop, the AFF will happily remind consumers about the &lsquo;1&rsquo; scores and EWG&rsquo;s new consumption message every single time the &lsquo;dirty dozen&rsquo; list receives attention. Every single time.&rdquo;</p><p>So which organizations or agencies do you trust to provide balanced nutrition information? Tell us in the comments.</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng" target="_blank">@monicaeng</a> or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 15:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/whom-do-you-trust-when-it-comes-nutrition-advice-111003 Cook County posting indigent burials in 'virtual cemetery' http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-posting-indigent-burials-virtual-cemetery-111002 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/6844573694_2199b45b51_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>This year the Cook County Medical Examiner&rsquo;s Office became the first arm of Chicago-area government to actually list where the bodies are buried.</p><p>Starting in August the county began listing the<a href="https://datacatalog.cookcountyil.gov/Healthcare/Medical-Examiner-Burial-Locations/hc2f-evny"> final resting places for people buried by the county&rsquo;s indigent burial program</a>, providing the exact location of more than 400 people in the past two years. The data set contains information such as names, race, sex and dates of death and burial.</p><p>While it may seem like a very personal thing to post on a government data portal, Cook County Chief medical Examiner Dr. Stephen Cina said the goal of what they call the &ldquo;virtual cemetery&rdquo; is making sure there are as many ways as possible for families to find a loved one.</p><p>&ldquo;If family does come forward six months or nine months later, maybe they lost touch with their uncle, this could be another way they could look through our logs, yes they were in Cook County, they were unclaimed, final disposition was done through the indigent program,&rdquo; Cina said.</p><p>So far the portal lists 439 burials done by the county since 2012 (though there is one case duplicated in the listing).</p><p>There are some interesting demographic details in the dataset. Overall 78 percent of the burials are men, with the median age at 60. More than half of those buried were white, with around one-third African-American.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="http://cf.datawrapper.de/CR0ov/1/" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="600"></iframe></p><p>The dataset also documents a tumultuous time for the Medical Examiner&rsquo;s Office.</p><p>In January 2012 reports surfaced that the county had a<a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/overhaul-cook-county-medical-examiners-office-95860"> backlog of bodies at the morgue</a>, which led to the retirement of then-medical examiner Dr. Nancy Jones and the<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-board-confirms-new-medical-examiner-101155"> appointment of Cina in July 2012</a>.</p><p>That led to a number of changes, including an agreement between the Cook County Funeral Association and Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Cemeteries to<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/burying-cook-countys-unclaimed-dead-110092"> bury indigents at Mount Olivet</a>. This data covers those burials and others at Homewood Memorial Gardens.</p><p>Burials happen about once a month when the weather is warm, Cina said, though the number has dropped since the county passed a new ordinance allowing for cremation last year.</p><p>For Cina, though, a bigger change for the Medical Examiner&rsquo;s Office has been what they&rsquo;re doing before a person is buried.</p><p>Cook County <a href="http://www.cookcountyil.gov/medical-examiner/unclaimed-persons/">posts names and other information on its website</a> so family members can more easily find a claim a loved one. In the case of <a href="http://www.cookcountyil.gov/medical-examiner/unidentified-persons/">unidentified bodies, the county will post photos if possible</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;We decided shortly after I arrived here that there would be a better way to get indigents identified,&rdquo; Cina said. &ldquo;We don&rsquo;t want to bury indigents at county expense; we&rsquo;d like to reunite them with their families. We figured if we could place the indigents that didn&rsquo;t have identified next of kin on the website perhaps some people would look at that locally or out of state if they lost contact with a loved one and we could get some hits on that. I believe the first year we did have three or four.&rdquo;</p><p>The other big technology change for the agency is a new digital case management system, which enables more detailed tracking of information surrounding a person&#39;s death.</p><p>&ldquo;Looking over data we collect, by end of the year we hope to have the GPS reporting feature of the case management feature so we could track heroin deaths by street or by zip code or by city,&rdquo; Cina said. &ldquo;Is there a trend in where the homicides are happening?&rdquo;</p><p>There currently aren&rsquo;t any plans to get that information up on the portal, though Cina said the information will eventually be part of the Medical Examiner&rsquo;s annual report.</p><p><em>Chris Hagan is a data reporter for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/chrishagan">@chrishagan</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 13:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-posting-indigent-burials-virtual-cemetery-111002 The difficulties of getting voters invested and informed about elections http://www.wbez.org/news/difficulties-getting-voters-invested-and-informed-about-elections-110997 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Voter01_0.png" title="From left: Rudy Garrett of Chicago Votes registers a new Cook county voter outside the CTA red line Roosevelt road. (WBEZ/Yolanda Perdomo)" /></div></div></div><p>Inside the quiet lobby at Norwegian Hospital in Chicago, Martin Torres quietly approaches people with a pen and clipboard. He&rsquo;s with the Latino Policy Forum and this day happens to be the last day people can register to vote for the upcoming midterm elections.</p><p>He&rsquo;s turned down several times. Some people are already registered, some cannot vote because they&rsquo;re not U.S. citizens. He enters a full waiting room and goes straight to Charnese Stevens, 19, and her friend Kabronte Hicks, 18. Stevens tells Torres she registered and tells Hicks to get registered. She even tells him to check the box where he can work as an election judge.</p><p>As Hicks fills out the voter registration application, Stevens looks up at me and asks what the election is about. I explain she can vote for the next Illinois governor, candidates for U.S. Senate, state races and several ballot initiatives. When asked if he&rsquo;s going to vote, Hicks says that until he was asked to register on this day, he never thought about voting. Torres says that&rsquo;s common.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of people register when they&rsquo;re asked to register. That&rsquo;s when they get involved,&rdquo; Torres said. &ldquo;Otherwise, it&rsquo;s not the first thing they look forward to doing when they first get up.&rdquo; That&rsquo;s what dozens of organizations are counting on for election day. The umbrella organization Every Vote Counts registered more than 100,000 people as the deadline approached. Torres explains by registering today, they can vote in next year&rsquo;s mayoral election.</p><p>But Stevens doesn&rsquo;t know who&rsquo;s going to be on that ballot. When I asked her if she knew who Rahm Emanuel was, she said no.</p><p>Rudy Garrett is laid back with her approach to getting people to register. At the CTA Red Line stop off Roosevelt Road, Garrett fist bumps people she meets and even when she&rsquo;s turned down, she offers a smile along with a high five.</p><p>Along with getting people to register and getting her offer turned down, sometimes she&rsquo;ll have to teach a mini civics course to explain the process. She&rsquo;s had to explain that Nov. 4 is election day, that this is not a presidential election year, who the candidates are for governor and some of the ballot questions. This doesn&rsquo;t surprise Tari Renner, professor of political science at Illinois Wesleyan University.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s unfortunately part of the American political culture. We know the least about our politics compared to any other society. Bar none,&rdquo; says Renner. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s one of the reasons campaigns cost so much. It&rsquo;s the least engaged who tend to be the swing voters that decide elections. And that&rsquo;s why we&rsquo;re inundated with negative ads.&rdquo;</p><p>Renner knows a little about this process. He&rsquo;s also the mayor of Bloomington and has seen all kinds of political campaigning in his time. In 2009, Renner lost a municipal election, in a population of 80,000, by 15 votes. He says disengagement happens despite civics education and the constant barrage of political ads. Renner cites an election tactic from a decade ago that&rsquo;s still being used today.</p><p>&ldquo;The Bush administration back in 2004 had these anti-gay marriage, protection of marriage referenda on the ballot in many states. They never thought that any of these things would come to fruition, that we&rsquo;d actually ban gay marriage,&rdquo; Renner said. &ldquo;They knew that would motivate their base to get to the polls and that would help Bush in some really tight races.&rdquo;</p><p>On the November ballot, there&rsquo;s an advisory question about whether the state&rsquo;s minimum wage should be raised to $10 an hour, up from $8.15. Many community groups have pushed that non-binding referendum to get their base out on election day. Katelyn Johnson, executive director of ACTION NOW, says that issue, and not the governor&rsquo;s race, will motivate people to vote.</p><p>&ldquo;I think any time people have a chance to vote in their self interest and to vote in a way that can actually speak powerfully to the demand, I think people get excited about that,&rdquo; Johnson said. &ldquo;I think this is an opportunity that people can see themselves as being a part of a process and have an additional meaning to that vote.&rdquo;</p><p>That&rsquo;s the message Garrett relays as she approaches people. She knows some may be lying just to get away from her. Garrett just moves on to the next one.</p><p>&ldquo;Sometimes you just get people who are like &lsquo;I just don&rsquo;t know. I&rsquo;m not sure. Maybe I should get registered&rsquo;,&rdquo; Garrett said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just making sure you ask every single person. Because the more people you ask, the more people you&rsquo;re likely to get more registered.</p><p>That&rsquo;s whether they know about the issues or not.</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ Reporter/anchor Yolanda Perdomo on Twitter </em><em><a href="https://twitter.com/yolandanews">@yolandanews</a>&nbsp;</em><em>&amp; </em><a href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/106564114685277342468/posts/p/pub"><em>Google+</em></a></p></p> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 14:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/difficulties-getting-voters-invested-and-informed-about-elections-110997 Ex-felon informs formerly incarcerated of right to vote http://www.wbez.org/news/ex-felon-informs-formerly-incarcerated-right-vote-110994 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Ex-Felon2.png" style="height: 210px; width: 280px; float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="FORCE members and ex-offenders Marlon Chamberlain and Teleza Rodgers meet at a McDonald’s on the city’s west side. They work to notify ex-felons of the right to vote. (WBEZ/Yolanda Perdomo)" />In a back corner at a Chicago McDonald&rsquo;s, Marlon Chamberlain sits and goes through papers under a movie poster. It&rsquo;s from the film &ldquo;The Hurricane&rdquo; the true story of Rubin &ldquo;Hurricane&rdquo; Carter, the famed boxer turned prisoner right&rsquo;s activist.</p><p>There, Chamberlain meets those recently incarcerated who want a new start. Chamberlain is with FORCE, or Fighting to Overcome Records and Create Equality. Chamberlin&rsquo;s job is to talk to ex-prisoners about everything from how to get a job to how to become a community leader. Part of his work includes talking about his past. Specifically the events leading up to September 2002.</p><p>&ldquo;I have a federal offense. I was arrested with conspiracy with intent to distribute and sentenced to 240 months,&rdquo; says Chamberlain. &ldquo;With the Fair Sentencing Act, I ended up serving 10 and a half years.&rdquo;</p><p>He was in federal prison when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008. Chamberlain remembered watching the event and cheering along while the other inmates. But even then, the political process that moved Obama to the presidency was something Chamberlain didn&rsquo;t care much about.</p><p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t believe voting mattered. I didn&rsquo;t see how things could be different or how the mayor or certain state representative could change things in my community. That connection wasn&rsquo;t there.&rdquo;</p><p>After his release, a FORCE member talked to Chamberlain at a halfway house. That&rsquo;s when he started to understand that local lawmakers and not the president decide whether money gets allocated to ex-offender programs and how sentencing guidelines are outlined.</p><p>Chamberlain also learned that ex-felons could vote. In several states, if you&rsquo;re convicted of a felony, you lose the right to vote. Permanently. But in Illinois, an ex-offender can vote upon release. Chamberlain didn&rsquo;t know that. He says lots of people with records don&rsquo;t know that either. Which is why now he&rsquo;s working overtime to get the word out before election day.</p><p>Tucked away between a dead end road and railroad tracks on the city&rsquo;s southwest side, Chamberlain meets with a group of men from the Chicagoland Prison Outreach. They&rsquo;re in a work study program and Chamberlain visits with them on Thursdays. It&rsquo;s part classroom, part bible study and part welding work study. Chamberlain starts the discussion by asking &lsquo;When was the last time anyone voted?&rsquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Ex-Felon1.png" title="Marlon Chamberlain talks to a group from the Chicagoland Prison Outreach about the importance of voting (WBEZ/Yolanda Perdomo)" /></p><p>One person pipes up and says he voted while in jail. He too was told he couldn&rsquo;t vote, but while in the Cook County Jail, inmates awaiting trial can vote. They&rsquo;re given applications for absentee ballots. This year, the Board of Elections processed tens of thousands of new applications. Many inmate applications are rejected, mainly because addresses can&rsquo;t be verified. Out of the more than 9,500 inmates requesting ballots, around 1,300 were deemed eligible.</p><p>A person who goes by the name of Kris says even though he can vote, he&rsquo;s not interested.</p><p>&ldquo;I never cared who was in office,&rdquo; says Kris, &ldquo;I wouldn&rsquo;t even know who to vote for.&rdquo;</p><p>The class tells him he needs to do some homework to know the candidates&rsquo; platforms. Chamberlain echoes the notion of doing a little homework and cautions the class about political stereotypes. Like that all African Americans vote the Democratic ticket.</p><p>&ldquo;Because you got Democrats who won&rsquo;t do nothing. I don&rsquo;t believe in befriending politicians. You know, no permanent friends, no permanent enemies,&rdquo; says Chamberlain. He points to the very room they sit in as a result of some kind<br />of political action.</p><p>&ldquo;So what would happen if people don&rsquo;t vote for the elected official who signed off on this? Then this program goes away,&rdquo; Chamberlain notes. Kris does not care.</p><p>&ldquo;All I see is a lot of squad cars coming around. Our neighborhood, how it was in the past, it was better than how it is now,&rdquo; says Kris. &ldquo; At least we had stuff we could do. We didn&rsquo;t have to stand on the block to have fun. We actually had places.&rdquo; Chamberlain asks Kris if he&rsquo;s ever spoken to his alderman about the problems he sees. Kris shrugs, admitting he&rsquo;s never bothered to make contact. &ldquo;The city is so fou-fou right now. The city ain&rsquo;t right.&rdquo;</p><p>While most people heard a person complaining about problems, Chamberlain heard someone much like himself. A person aware of problems, who knows things could be better. Back at the McDonalds, Chamberlain meets up with FORCE worker Teleza Rodgers. She too, is an ex-felon and covers the city&rsquo;s North Lawndale neighborhood. They talk about how hard it is to get ex-felons motivated to vote. Especially since many of them live the misconception that their voting rights were taken away from them when they went to prison.</p><p>&ldquo;People who don&rsquo;t know us are making decisions about our lives or livelihoods and our neighborhoods. They don&rsquo;t live where we live at,&rdquo; says Rodgers. &ldquo;They (ex-felons)<br />tend to have an ear to that. I say we can&rsquo;t expect to have anyone do anything for us if we&rsquo;re not doing it.&rdquo;</p><p>Rodgers says there&rsquo;s no way around the impact of voter representation. And that several questions on November&rsquo;s ballot can directly impact ex-felons and others in Chicago. Like whether the state should increase funding for mental-health services, whether a school-funding formula for disadvantaged children should be reset, and whether to increase the minimum wage.<br />&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 10:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/ex-felon-informs-formerly-incarcerated-right-vote-110994 2 dead, including gunman, in high school shooting http://www.wbez.org/news/2-dead-including-gunman-high-school-shooting-110989 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP192948468620.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>MARYSVILLE, Wash. &mdash; A student opened fire Friday in a high school cafeteria north of Seattle, killing at least one person and shooting several others in the head before killing himself, officials said.</p><p>Students in the cafeteria said the gunman stared at the students as he shot them. They described a chaotic scene at Marysville Pilchuck High School, as panicked students ran for safety.</p><p>Student Alan Perez told KING-TV he was eating his lunch near the gunman when he heard the shots.</p><p>&quot;He had a little gun in his hand. I saw the flash from the muzzle,&quot; Perez said.</p><p>Another student, Austin Taylor, told the station the shooter &quot;was just staring down every one of his victims as he shot them.&quot;</p><p>Cedar Parker, a 17-year-old senior, told The Associated Press he was driving away from campus for lunch when he saw students running and trying to jump a fence. Parker let several into his car. He heard other students yelling for their friends: &quot;Where are you?&quot;</p><p>Parker said choosing not to eat in the cafeteria saved his life.</p><p>The shooter was a student at the school 30 miles north of Seattle, but Marysville Police Commander Robb Lamoureux said he could not provide more information on the gunman or his motive.</p><p>Lamoureux said the shooter died of a self-inflicted wound.</p><p>Brian Patrick said his daughter, a freshman, was in the cafeteria 10 feet from the gunman when the shooting occurred. She ran from the cafeteria and immediately called her mother.</p><p>Patrick said his daughter told him, &#39;The guy walked into the cafeteria, pulled out a gun and started shooting. No arguing, no yelling.&quot;</p><p>His other daughter, a senior at the school, called him &#39;hysterical&#39; from her classroom, Patrick said.</p><p>&quot;I thought, &#39;God let my kids be safe,&quot; he said.</p><p>Four students were taken to Providence Everett medical center, said hospital spokeswoman Heidi Amrine. Three were in &quot;very critical&quot; condition. It was not immediately clear if the person who died was one of those students.</p><p>Harborview Medical Center in Seattle said it received a 14-year-old male student, who was listed in serious condition.</p><p>After the attack, a crowd of parents waited in a parking lot outside a nearby church where they were being reunited with their children. Buses pulled up periodically to drop off students evacuated from the school, with some running to hug their mothers or fathers.</p><p>Some parents were sent back to their cars to get their identifications before they could leave with their children.</p><p>Ayn Dietrich, an FBI spokeswoman in Seattle, said the agency had personnel on their way to the scene to help authorities with the investigation.</p><p>Another shooting occurred June 5 at Seattle Pacific University, where a gunman killed one student and wounded two others.</p></p> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 15:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/2-dead-including-gunman-high-school-shooting-110989 Prosecutors want more of indicted police commander's 'bad acts' in court http://www.wbez.org/news/prosecutors-want-more-indicted-police-commanders-bad-acts-court-110987 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/glen_evans8 SQUARE.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><br />Cook County prosecutors on Thursday told a judge they would try to bring other &ldquo;crimes and bad acts&rdquo; into a felony case against a Chicago police commander.</p><p>Glenn Evans, photographed on his way out of the hearing by Charlie Billups for WBEZ, allegedly jammed his gun into an arrested man&rsquo;s mouth last year, pressed a taser to his crotch and threatened his life. Last month Evans pleaded not guilty to nine counts of aggravated battery and official misconduct.</p><p>During his 28 years in the police department, Evans has drawn at least 52 brutality complaints. Two led to 15-day suspensions from duty. Six others have led to federal lawsuits that the city paid to settle.</p><p>Evans&rsquo; attorney, Laura Morask, calls that history irrelevant. She says what matters are the allegations in the case&rsquo;s indictment, which focuses on the incident last year.</p><p>The commander, meanwhile, is trying to find out how a DNA report in the case went public. Morask is demanding records from WBEZ and the Independent Police Review Authority, one of several government entities that had the report. At the hearing, Morask said the records would show bias on the part of the case&rsquo;s investigators.</p><p>The judge, Rosemary Grant Higgins, pushed back. She said she would hear more from all sides but warned, &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not this court&rsquo;s job to plug leaks or interfere with the press.&rdquo;</p><p>From our West Side bureau, WBEZ&#39;s Chip Mitchell joined the&nbsp;&ldquo;Afternoon Shift&rdquo;&nbsp;with this update (click the photo above). For background, see all <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/glenn-evans">our coverage about the Evans case</a>.</p></p> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/prosecutors-want-more-indicted-police-commanders-bad-acts-court-110987